The start of an Italian love affair


IMG_3880IMG_3892 IMG_3935 IMG_3948
IMG_4014 IMG_4077 IMG_4106 IMG_4130IMG_4139 IMG_4146 IMG_4153 IMG_4157 IMG_4158 IMG_4173 IMG_4180 IMG_4204

Italy. Few places have pulled me in so tightly initially and held me in their warm embrace. Italy was different from the trips before, and I completely fell in love with the culture. I enjoyed soaking up the cultures of Peru and New Zealand, but Italy is, well, brava. The people are warm, inviting, loving and willing to hug you, shake your hand and kiss both of your cheeks. When they talk in an animated way, they’re not mad. They just use their hands and speak with passion and can be intense, because they mean what they say about the food! Oh and the food- fresh fish at the fish market, cheeses (especially the water buffalo mozzarella), vegetables, olives, olive oil, Sorrento lemons, fresh baked breads, tomatoes, meats, lightly dressed salads and the ultimate local meal with all food taken from 100 feet of where we sat to eat Christmas Dinner at Chef Luca’s house on the coast, were perfecto. I felt at home there.

Travel is part of what makes the world a  more beautiful and better place to live. I truly believe that if more people saw more of the world, there would be fewer wars, less hatred toward others and a more peaceful and kind place to live.  We think others are different because of the color of their skin, the language they speak, the way they dress and the food they eat. But really, deep down, there are countless common threads woven within our makeup as human beings.  We all want safety and peace, freedom to go where we choose, worship how we choose, pursue our dreams, raise children in a healthy and safe environment, be fed and sleep calmly with a roof over our head.  I believe our similarities far outweigh our differences if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves. I think that’s why i’ve always felt so emotional watching an Olympic Opening Ceremony. It seems that for a brief moment in time the world, full of some many different nationalities, languages and races can all come together to celebrate something we love and be at peace. That coming together has always been something I love about the Olympics (maybe I should be doing their marketing or something).

This trip was only the start. I have to return. I have to see what people, adventures, stories await me in South Italy on the coast. Positano bites deep- said John Steinbeck, and I can see why. It grabs a hold of your heart and doesn’t let go.  The village nestled on the side of the mountain is unforgettable. It’s magical and frozen in time with no shopping malls, fast food, Wal-Marts or massive American commercialism. It’s a haven for simplicity and connection with nature.

The narrow cobblestone roads in Rome to the little marketplace alleyways of Sorrento that offer hours of strolling and searching for scarves, pasta and more, and the Italian fashion, refuse to disappear from your mind. They merely linger as if to whisper- come back and please come soon. It’s hard to ignore the beckoning of the Italian coast once you’ve been.

Here’s to the future and travel adventures yet to be had!

~lme

Advertisement

Upcoming Gig at Evins Mill


leah-42

Photo Courtesy: Marie Ellen Photography

Hello friends,

Wanted to let you know that I will be performing at the new music series, Music at the Mill, at Evins Mill Bed and Breakfast in Smithville, TN on February 21st at 8 pm.  The talented guitarist, Luke Metzger, will be joining me onstage for the evening.   Here is a write-up about the event for you to check out:

http://evinsmillevents.blogspot.com/2014/12/music-at-mill-sat-feb-21-2015.html

In addition to the concert, the “Music at the Mill” package includes hors d’oeuvres, four-course dinner and a hearty gourmet breakfast and is $295 to $360 per couple depending on the room reserved. Reservations for dinner & concert only are also available at $120 per couple. Call 615.269.3740 (Nashville) or 615.286.2090 (Smithville) for reservations.

Itcy Feet


IMG_3540

I can see the desert

or life there by the sea

or somewhere that’s less traveled

somewhere in between

In the bustling city

or a smaller town

or maybe overseas

where I cannot be found

Do you ever feel it

The itch under your feet

to be somewhere far away

maybe it’s just me…

As I contemplate these final 10 months living at this great house in Nashville, Tennessee, I have begun a new research project.  What new, where to live, what to do at the end of 2015, beginning of 2016 in my life?  Here’s your brown bag, breathe.  I have various ideas such as take a vacation and work on an organic farm before I move to my next locale I’ll call home.  I’ve considered by the ocean that I love, possibly out West near a desert or a small but vibrant little town where I can grow, connect and relate as an artist to a community.  I would like to be near my family, but I’m not certain currently whether I’m ready to settle back down in the Lone Star State.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the biggest fan of cold.  If I’m bundled properly, then ok.  I want to be in a good area, but I also want a slower pace than a bustling city life.  At moments, I’ve thought about New York City and also the DC Metro area, but I’m just not sure it’s calling me strongly enough.  I’m currently a little messy-headed and trying to pray about it and decide what my next move should be.  After our travels to Italy (which I will post about in the upcoming weeks), I feel strongly that I would like to live there within the next several years.  Should I look for some exciting, adventurous and new job or should I launch into trying my music full-time.  I’m at a precipice here people.  I welcome advice, thoughts and encouragement.

But here are some thoughts, places to visit, things that seem to draw me to themselves:

~South Carolina- Charleston and Beaufort

~The Pacific Northwest- particularly Seattle and Portland

~Wilmington, North Carolina- a place where various movies and television shows have been filmed- quite quaint and on the water

~Sedona, Arizona

~Simplistic and healthful living- a job in this realm

~the travel industry- being a travel writer is not easy, but something in that field would be of interest

~I want to possibly visit places that hold some negative meaning for me and create new and beautiful memories there to retrace those memories in goodness.

~the concept of making music my career for a year, just to try it.  Because honestly, there are always jobs to be had to fall back on in a few years.

~Family- not more than a 2-4 hour plane ride from them

~possibly overseas for a time being

~a short stint working at an organic farm and staying there

~Sheep farm work in Ireland- sounds fun

I welcome thoughts, connects, advice or anything else as I grow through this research project in the next six months.

~lme

The Invisible Man


My song, “Boxcar Betty,” had the pleasure of being recently featured in the Invisible Man five-part web series produced by Waterfoot films.  The song plays in the first episode when the daunting, masked man shows up downtairs suddenly.  You can view all five episodes here.  Please enjoy watching, share them with others and let me know what you think!

movie_poster

Waterfoot Films is the creative collaboration of Timothy Compton and Sean Malone. The two have produced numerous award-winning short films and are currently releasing The Invisible Man, a web series based on H.G. Wells’ classic novel. The Invisible Man is a five-part series set in modern America and filmed in Colorado, North Carolina, and Florida. Waterfoot is also currently releasing its first comic book, an ongoing series called Monster City which features classic monsters reimagined in a gangster-noir setting.

Right where I belong


photo (10)

 

Photo Courtesy:  Fall 2014 Issue of NSAI membership magazine

There is something providentially beautiful about turning around, seeing where you’ve been and then looking around you and realizing everything you have been through has led you right here to this place.  Some things are not handed to you on a platter, and in fact, most things aren’t.  You have to work hard to build a reputation anywhere and you have to work hard to achieve the goals you set forth for yourself.  I feel strongly at times that experiences in my work life (and even my personal life) have led me to my path in music.  Here are some highlights that I’ve considered lately…

1.  Having  jobs that were not ideal and multiple jobs at one time kept me grounded.  You have to learn you are really low on the totem pole in the music industry.  You can’t think, act or talk like you are a big shot when you have very minimal accreditations on your music resume.  You learn that acting like some rockstar doesn’t get you far and doesn’t garner respect from those who have put countless hours in.  A good rule of thumb is to let another man’s lips praise you and not your own (Proverbs 27:2).   To earn respect in an industry as old as the music industry, it will take awhile in the community.  So remember- every choice you make will affect who you are and what others think of you.

2.  Working at small businesses and a startup for more than 10 years has taught me how to tackle projects I have never done.  If you want to survive in an ever-changing music industry, you have to be versatile.  You have to learn to do things you’ve never done and you have to teach yourself how to do some of these things.  From setting up an entire sound system to figuring out your best social media campaign approach, you have to be willing to try, learn and possibly fail.  I’ve learned a lot from the entrepreneurs i have surrounded myself with in the past ten years of my life.  There must be an element of bravery to daily walk into the unknown and tell yourself that it’s going to be ok as an entrepreneur.

3.  Finishing college taught me the power and beauty of sticking with something until it was complete.  There were times in college I was so exhausted and wanted to quit.  When I recorded my first EP and worked a 40 hour a week job, I wanted to quit at times too.  But I pushed myself through the exhaustion, kept reaching for the goal and eventually completed a project I could feel really great about.  You don’t learn to do the hard things unless you make yourself do the hard things.  Commitment and a strong work ethic don’t just happen- they must be cultivated in the days when you don’t feel like it and are mentally, physically and emotionally at your breaking point.

4.  Working in so many different types of jobs from food service to education to photography to natural foods to retail has taught me how to work with a plethora of personality types.  In the music industry, you meet a host of different people.  You must interact with people who are different than you and you must learn to respect others and communicate effectively with them.  I’m so thankful to have had the time to hone these interpersonal skills through all of my various interactions from Austin to Nashville and traveling abroad.  Your relationships with others will grow your career roots over time, so don’t minimize the effectiveness of cultivating those relationships.

5.  Moving to nine places of residence and various states within a 10 year time frame has taught me how to build community and quickly make friends.  When you’re a stranger you have to learn to adapt and quickly make friends.  I don’t meet many strangers, so thankfully I was blessed with the ability to connect with others around me.  I’m thankful to have had to sink or swim by building a support system around me.  This has prepared me for building a fan base for my music and connecting to people through my art.  Without past experiences, I would not have have those skills that I now need so much.

I hope that no matter who you are, you are able to look back and see the reasons for your life unfolding as it has.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand at the moment.  But then at times, you turn around, look how far you’ve come and realize there is something pretty spectacular about where you are standing right now.  Feel free to tell me about similar experiences you’ve had in the comments below.

~lme

True gifts


present

The truest gift is not chosen by the receiver but bestowed by the Giver.”

I created this quote after contemplating a conversation I recently had with a coworker, Jon.  Jon and I were discussing holiday gifts.  He said he found it odd that people make lists to tell people what they want.  He said that a gift is something that the other person gives you and part of that gift is figuring out why they felt you might have wanted that gift or what the message might be in the gift.

Thinking back on that conversation, I realized that our talents and gifts, much like a holiday gift, are something that we should see as having been bestowed on us.  We should not look at what others have been given and say- I wish so much I had that gift instead of what I have been given.  Each of us has a talent, an offering, something we can contribute to society and share with others.  Our Maker infused each of us with these wonderful talents and part of our calling in life is to determine what some of those strongest gifts may be.  If we do not use those gifts for good, or if we aren’t grateful for them, we are devaluing the gift on some level.

And as my mother once told me when I was too proud to accept something from her… “Rejecting the gift saddens the giver.”

May we all be thankful and work with our gifts and may we also be people characterized by giving.

~lme

Exciting music news!


pandora

Hi there!  Just wanted to let everyone know who has been so supportive of me that Pandora let me know that you can now hear my music on the channel Leah and the Blackland Ballad! SO COOL!!! There are various other artists including The Vespers, Jessica Campbell and more.  So give it a listen wherever you are!

Also here are some show dates for anyone who would like to come out and hear some live music…

~Southern Festival of Books in downtown Nashville at the corner of Charlotte and 6th at the Music Stage from 3-4 on October 10th.

~Fiber in the Boro in Murfreesboro, TN November 1st in Rutherford County- check it out here

If you or someone you know would be interested in hosting a house show, feel free to shoot me an email at leahemusic@gmail.com.  Or just say hey and let me know where you’d like to hear me play in the form below…

Freedom in the Fall


There is something different in the air at the end of September. There’s a crispness like an apple and a hush like a fireside glow. New connections with new people give me hope. The promise of new opportunities and new adventures and a life to be led in front of me pull me along my pathway of light.  Through growth, you begin to fear that you will never feel alive or happy again. But slowly a raw heart begins to realize something is there, something of a kernel of possibility.

Promises, promises the people cry

And you know you aren’t scared to die.

In the quiet darkness of the night

You feel closer to a better life.

Have a wonderful weekend enjoying the fleeting days of warm summer as the Fall is headed our way 🙂  Thank you for reading, and check out new show dates on my other page at the tab at the top of this blog.  If you’re interested in booking a house show, feel free to email me at leahemusic@gmail.com

~lmeflowers

A sailing we will go


photo-4

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” ~ Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Last week, I had my first experience to try my hand at sailing.  The Learn at the Helm program is an excellent opportunity for any Nashville-ers who are interested in the sport of sailing.  With our crew composed of our skipper, Fred, his son Brandon, Paulo from Italy and a sweet couple named Spencer and Andrea, we were fully equipped for a great trip!  It was great to be out on the open water and learn about the mainsail and the jib sail and more terms that didn’t sink in as easily.  But you can easily connect with the forefathers who set out in search of exploration for exploration’s sake when you hit the water.  Before we set out, Andrea pointed out the neat sounds that the wind made as it danced amidst the clinking pieces on the boats in the harbor.  It makes sense that ships weren’t made for harbors when you see them tied up.  In fact, it’s almost as if the vessels are horses just waiting to be launched and chomping at the bit for a slice of adventure.  We shall see if I am able to get certified in the Keelboat class they offer, but there’s a waiting list for that.

Well, if you’d like to try out sailing try out the Learn at the Helm program by Kathy Ware and then join the Percy Priest Yacht Club after a few times going.

Happy Monday all of you 🙂

~lme

Eulogy while I’m still alive


farm

I hope to die with a thousand stories woven within my skin.  There will be tales of adventures in foreign lands, of amazing people that I have met and befriended along my journey, of moments that taught me, lifted me and pulled me closer to who I was meant to become.  My face will be well worn but all of the smile lines will indicate a myriad of moments where laughter lit my face up and a hearty burst of air exhaled from my chest into a world where I temporarily existed.  My hands may look old but hopefully the river of veins running throughout them will tell of the people they’ve hugged, the meals they’ve cooked for those I have loved or handed something to someone in need.

The vacant body that they will see before them will have only been the vessel.  A vessel that had opportunities beyond what she thought at 20 when she thought the world would end.  For in this body she traveled around an incredible landscape, saw sights that ancient queens never comprehended, heard music that made her spirit soar, created music to share with others, flew above a Costa Rican rainforest like an eagle, hiked the Inca trail in the Andes into Macchu Picchu with her family, walked in the great cities of the ancient world, climbed mountains, swam in oceans, stood beneath waterfalls, whitewater rafted in Idaho, devoured lobster on the shores of a Maine island, felt the waves of the ocean caress her feet, overcame fears, met countless souls close to home and far away, learned to sail, gained skills in cooking from an Italian, an American mother and grandmother, entertained at dinner parties and birthday parties, rode horseback through the ephemeral forests of New Zealand, did mission work in Jamaica, traversed the British Isles, seeing the graves of Shakespeare and more, met and connected with those in poverty, opened her heart to love those different than her and those less fortunate and extended hands of friendship to those the world over.

I will hope that I learned to give and value real love.  To have learned that love is a choice and not just a feeling.  I hope that I will have loved when it was difficult, and I hope I will be willing to love enough to desire to give up.  Love is an emptying of self and pride of which it takes a lifetime to learn and a lifetime to put into practice.  And the person that I became will not be focused on how pretty or fit or well-dressed I was.  I will have become someone who lives and abides in the comfort that my validation does not come from others around me.  I will be focused on the fact that none of these temporal things matters to the God I serve and that those who focus on the true things of life will have always been present in my life.  I will have learned that the people who are meant to be near us and surround us will gravitate toward us continually.  Should we have desired affection or attention from others that we did not receive, perhaps we were never meant to be the recipient of that.

I hope the look on my face in my coffin resembles a smile instead of a frown and that I did more of the first in life than the latter.  A soul at peace should have nothing but a smile on her face and a song within her heart when it’s her time to go on.  I hope that when people think of me they in turn will smile.  I hope they each have vivid memories of places I shared with them, sunsets we sat beneath, trains that passed us while we played our instruments, conversations we shared that involved depths not comprehended by the naked eye as well as songs I shared and left around the American landscape as a piece of my legacy.  I hope people come to a closer view of my Maker when they come in contact with me.  May I not be merely focused on myself as a musician, a career woman, a writer, a daughter, a sister, a thinker, an explorer or a songwriter.  But may I know that all facets make up a daughter of God walking and breathing and trying to walk on a good path homeward.  As they lay me back into the dust from which I came, my stories will turn back into organic matter that become the setting for the next generation of adventurers and dreamers.  For they will carry on what we have started.  And I will hope I have done my part to leave it in good hands and to have bettered the world while I inhabited it.

When I die and begin to travel toward the light of the sun, perhaps the shackles around my feet will unclasp and release me from the bonds of an earth to which I shall never return.  And as my spirit soars ever higher up and through the clouds and into the stratosphere, I will begin to hear music and familiar voices.  And when I arrive at heaven’s front door and I softly knock, He will open it with a warm and welcoming smile and say, “We’ve been waiting for you- come in.”  I will leave my jar of troubles outside and enter in where the most beautiful song I have ever heard is wafting toward me and slowly washes over me.  And forever I will be in eternal joy.

Go forth and do good as you create a lasting legacy 🙂

~lme