Boundaries, Creativity and Music Therapy


Music is woven in me and I have yet to be able to separate from my love for it.  This morning I recently read these two amazing blog posts that remind me that music doesn’t’ merely have  a self-involved process.  There is so much more to it being on this earth than that.  Music Think Tank is a great blog for those in the music industry, and this article on Creativity in Constraint really hit home.

We are such musical beings…. Just like the birds and the chimps and even trees and flowers.  There is so much music continually around us in earth and the sky.  Sadly, we are often too plugged into our indie rock to really listen to the music of nature.  But music is a healing thing from God.  It’s awesome the way that a song can transport us or lift our spirits.  God created that in us to do just that very thing.  Music is part of worship and He knew that it would bring us closer to Him.  Why is it that so many of us as musicians tend to think that we must shirk our God to pursue the thing He wanted us to be a part of?  Why do so many of us cut Him off in pursuit of that?

This article discusses our limitations as creative people.  If our limitations are what encourage our creativity such as creative fashion coming from poverty and resourcefulness arising from want….. perhaps there is a connection between spiritual limitations and creative limitations.  Perhaps the boundaries God has given me are not something to be angered about.  They are rather constraints that guide me and teach me how to excel in them.  Is creativity going beyond the lines?  Perhaps, but what if the most creative approaches to certain things were staying within some sort of parameters and finding ways to do that in more innovative ways?  I hope to find ways to do this through my career.

As I listen to some of Neil Young’s greatest tunes, I know he had limitations in both his technical abilities as well as his voice.  I can relate to that.  I’m no picture of perfection.  I get upset when I lack more abilities than I wish I had and to be disciplined to become better.  I am someone trying to change the world for good with my art.  I leave you with an image that tugs at the heart of every songwriter…. Thank you to this blog for sharing:

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And as my wheels are turning, how could I ignore the healing power and therapy of music that have existed since long ago…. Through God.  King saul utilized David’s musical gifts to ease his depression and whatever mental demon he was continually fighting.  Music heals our pain in different ways.  This girl’s blog is an amazing testament to the healing properties of music and is a great resource into the world of music therapy.  I think this new field gives validity to the scientists of the world who don’t believe art and music are really something that can be effective in large ways.  It is intriguing that science and art are closely tied and the health of our bodies and minds can be changed due to it.  This is all just more evidence that points us to our Maker.  God knows us and knows how to heal us, and He equipped us with the tools for this.  Thanks mom for the realization.

Pensive on a Thursday am I,

~lme

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For shoulders beneath the weight of the world


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Photo Courtesy:  Florida memory flickr stream

Heavy the Heart

~a poem

Lone, dark house on a hill

Above darker secrets it sits

Grey and blues meld together

In the haunting. in the quiet still

Sad willow dying outside

Cracking paint

And rain seeping

in my windowsill

 

Lights camera, infraction

Where the pain sets in

I won’t leave you lonely

To find your way again

Hiding from the pressure

Away from it all

I can tell that you’re aching

Like weary king saul

 

Walking like bodies

Dying in spirit and flesh

With so much potential

Exhaling each breath

Resting in my bed

Possibly forever alone

This has never scared me

Perhaps i’ve been turned to stone

 

The devil breaks my body

But he won’t claim my soul

Chewing at my heels

I take the bridge, and pay the toll

He walks around in circles

Lighting fires in an open field

Chanting that I am no good

Whispers love can never heal

 

Dark as the night water rushes in

And small as I know I am

I will take my shoes off

and in the blackland soil, I will stand

as the storm begins to near

My brown eyes will be set

Wrapped in what I know

Against what has not happened yet.

~lme

Why I will persevere as a visionary


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I’m currently reading the first chapter of a great book called The boss of you… written by two brave women.  And they challenged me to really think about the why behind what I want to pursue.  So here’s the why behind it.

1.         For those who love creativity.  I’m creative.  I believe we can be that and be different.  We are people with conviction, faith, love and want to soak up the world around us.  But we’ve been told to tell ourselves no, believing there wasn’t an arena for us as people of faith and artists.  I’m here to tell you I will not believe that lie anymore and neither should you.

2.         I believe in the future, in the artists, the musicians and those who have worked really hard at their craft, despite math and science brains saying what they have is more important to offer.  Because if one is more important than the other, then why are the doctors buying tickets to our shows and unwind after a surgery by listening to some enchanting melody from our contribution to society?  In a world of negativity and increasing ills, hope is needed through the arts.  I believe that so much good and blessings can come from what music can offer.  And I believe that I can contribute to that.

3.         I want to be able to write songs and share them for a living and create a listening experience that is unparalleled and exciting.  I want creative venues for shows that have so often been forced into a narrow idea of what a venue is.

4.         I want to use my music to fuel goodwill and do good things in the world around me.  I want to write songs that give people hope and stir them onto good works and to look to a greater home after they die.  I want to bring people to an appreciation for life, God and a healthy hereafter.

5.         Money will not be the goal, nor will fame.  I will welcome the blessings and use them as I think God would have me do, but I do not want the goal other than supporting, saving and giving back.  And my goal is to be able to have health insurance and feed myself and others in the future all because I work hard at honing my craft of songwriting and performing.  I will be the Barnabas in a world of excuses and failings.  I will encourage the people I meet every day.

6.         I want to show people that someone who wants to do what’s right can be successful in a difficult industry by paving her own path.  Someday I hope to help others find their way of making a difference around them.

7.         I want to tour, make friends all around the world and have countless stories from a life well lived.

8.         I will not be average…. I will live awesomely through the talents I have been given and through the God who gave each of them to me.  And I will restore them to him, rusty and worn and say “thank you for these gifts- they are loved and worn and my hands are tired and my mind is ready to be at rest forevermore.”

Live the life you’ve imagined…

love,

~lme

Let me know how you can relate!

Free things are good things


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Photo Courtesy of this flickr photostream

Things I love that cost me nothing:

Observing a beautiful moon in Nashville

Hearing the spring breeze rustle through tree leaves… knowing that God is present.

Laughing hard with great friends

A random stranger’s smile

The promise of future opportunities and friendships and memories to come.

Singing to my favorite songs in the car while keeping the beat and dancing from the waist up.

The peace I feel despite not being able to control every aspect of my life- a peace that passes understanding

The blessing to have people who are cheering me on in my goals

Singing, hearing, playing, loving music

A feeling of gratitude and contentment of my life today.

What are some of your favorite blessings that cost nothing monetarily speaking?

~lme

Follow a Leader or Lead a following… just move


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Photo Courtesy: This flickr Stream

While reading Ross Hudgins’s blog today, I came across this statement….

“Leaders should understand the power of team, and the weakness of individualism. Communicating individualism divides team, and is a bad choice for any grammatical situation that would be better fit for “we.”

I’ve been struck recently by the difficulty of leading and having to really stick your neck out and stand for something, accept conflict at times and plow through things that aren’t often enjoyable at the moment.  I think we either yearn to follow effective leaders or to be effective leaders ourselves.  For those of us who see problems in the world at large, we want to lead some kind of effective change that has lasting impression in the minds and hearts of those who have followed us.  I believe there are four pitfalls that most leaders face.

  1. They really want people to like them and they choose to avoid conflict.  This just is not possible.  You will undoubtedly always make someone unhappy.  Trying to please each and every person will get you nowhere as a leader.
  2. They allow criticism or praise to affect them strongly.  Some people want to gripe and when you are trying to do what you can, a complainer instead of an active participant is more of a dead weight as a leader.  But on the flip side, basking in your previous accomplishments will only cause you to ferment in yourself after so long until you get the label stamped on you of “washed up.”  You should never be this- you should always be swimming onto bigger and better things.
  3. They get so focused on a goal that they forget the purpose of the goal in the first place, and when a new strategy is needed, they cannot adjust.  Leaders must remember that flexibility is highly important throughout the process.  You will have a goal in mind, but it will change and develop over time.  A leader must remember to not forget some aspects of a project will come easily and others will need work.  But you must always remember to step back and assess whether the original big picture problem or issue is being addressed.
  4. Poor communication skills.  If you want people to understand your perspective or your vision, you will have a hard time converting them if you can’t properly communicate it.  It may take work at times, but listening to others’ views and trying to really see what they are seeing is imperative for a successful leader.  You can not lead people you know very little about.  People want to be accepted and understood. If they feel this need is being met, they will align themselves with a group of people.

The Well Wishing


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Photo Courtesy: SDASM Archives photo stream

People carry sorrows

like chains around their feet

so carry your brother

when the water gets too deep

Wherever you end up

Just step on outside yourself

Let your word be a promise

Let your love be deep as a well

Chorus:

Into the forests

Out of the past

Running through the trials

Clutching the mast

The darkness may trail

the light of this tune

But someday I’ll make a promise

Beneath a summer moon

All words have two meanings

That get turned in the toss

I don’t understand it

But love suffers long

I’ve seen vice and virtue

From all to old

No matter the substance

It poisons the soul

Chorus:

Into the forests

Out of the past

Running through the trials

Clutching the mast

The darkness may trail

the light of this tune

But someday I’ll make a promise

Beneath a summer moon

Music wafts through us

Like spirits in this realm

Truth becomes us

Once it has been found

Hymns and thistles

Tied up with a bow

Wherever this road carries us

Few will come to know

~lme

Self-indulged and sick with it


“The self-indulgent man craves for all pleasant things… and is led by his appetite to choose these at the cost of everything else.”
― AristotleThe Nicomachean Ethics

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Photo Courtesy:  George Eastman house photostream

We are self-indulged.  And we’ve never truly known poverty or hunger or bitter cold.  Much as we’d like to deny it, there isn’t much we can’t have right at our fingertips at any given point and with the right amount of money.  And if we are forced to “wait,” we become quite impatient and angered at the situation.  Believing we are self-made men and women, we have slowly drifted into a mindset that we really have no need for God.  Why depend on someone when we believe we can do it alone?  We are self-sufficient and have no desire for anyone telling us what to do or how to live our lives. Sadly, this quote by Aristotle rings true in the world of musicians.  Therefore- a picture of a self-sick society…

Life was good there.  And in this prosperous society, there was a sect of people.  They were called musicians and they lived in their own separate world, believing no one understood them.  They were continually busy with distraction, every form of media on which to plug themselves and their talents.  Their pursuits and fever for fame flooded the bulk of their thinking, acting and discussion in the community.  While those in the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome worshipped physical idols, the musicians had no need for these.  The idols were rampant in their hearts- held up daily as they bowed mentally to them both day and night.  They could have been faulted had it been completely their doing.  Rather, they were products of their society to some extent.  They were put on stages, high above the crowds.  Looking down on others always helped one to feel loftier than the others below.  The observers would scream and chant praises.  Others would grab at their legs, longing for one touch.  And still others would emulate their style and strive to meet them backstage. 

It was innately human, though.  Like all beings, they had a need for association and to become a part of something bigger than themselves.  In the music industry, they had found something to fill the void.  God had made them with this need for acceptance and to connect with something grander in scale.  But this desperate need for association had become misdirected somewhere and was funneled toward a people, performance and things.  The musicians were sadly warped in their thinking.  They knew that the world did not revolve around them, but somehow, they had been led to believe that it did by a self-sick society.

Moral to the story:

As musicians, we must work to not become saturated with ourselves.  What is continually in our thoughts?  That is what we are serving.  We often say daily that we are “pursuing” something.  Our truest pursuit should be toward the ultimate Creator and then whatever goals we work toward are merely just honing our skills and talents in this and that area.  It would take an immense pressure off of ourselves if we let go of the thoughts that we had to prove ourselves to the world, become well-liked by everyone (which is a total joke) and that success in music was only measured in terms of dollars or facebook fans.

No wonder musicians have such a warped view of themselves.  We commoners treat them as gods.  But what if we treated musicians and the actual process of making a living at music as less-dreamy and as something that required hard work just like an architect or a teacher or a dolphin trainer.   If we put jobs on respectable, even playing fields and believed that everyone should use their talents to better the world at large, we might not see the arts as being so lofty.  If we viewed it as a normal career path that one might pursue- and not some lottery, one-in-a-million chance to make you a big star- then society might begin to view musicians in a healthier light.  My feeling is that as musicians, our business models should begin to include more service and a change of heart toward fans and a respectful kindness toward all we come in contact with.  I’m not sure how start this change on a larger level, but I welcome ideas in the comment section below.  Feel free to leave comments and thoughts!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

~lme

My musical journey thus far: Why I play music but try to separate myself from the music industry


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Photo Credit: New York Public Library photostream

They tell you good things take time.  I can see the beauty in waiting for the right time in my life.

I began writing songs at the close of my college career in my one-bedroom apartment in east Texas.  I still remember my first open mic, shaking hands and the honest statement before I sat down saying “I am not a professional.”  But I began to write and play and create in a way I never had before.  Shortly after college, I moved to Austin, the live music capitol of the world.  At 23, I wanted a music career.  And at 24 and 25 and 26 and so on.  I wanted to find the person who would help me launch my career.  I wanted to go, move, meet everyone I could.  Someone once told me “I had the fever.”  It was funny, but it was true.  I observed an industry guy at South by Southwest one year with my business card, wanting to drop it into his briefcase at his side, hoping it would be discovered and appreciated later.  But I now wonder whether my fever rested in the actual love of music or the pursuit of fame and fortune.  I confess at times, I really became stary-eyed for the hopes and dreams and pursuit of being something wonderful to the world.  In those early twenties, I had an innate desire to prove myself to a world that I believed did not understand me, family included.

Since that time, I have grown to realize some things about myself and the industry as a whole that have shaped me.  I’m not totally jaded and walking away, but that’s probably because I haven’t gone deep into the recesses of the music industry abyss.  I always thought dancing on the sidelines would hold me back.  And in a way it did.  I was never willing to sacrifice my faith, my dignity, my conviction or my vision for what others were willing to sell it for.  I respected myself, my conviction and my art.  And I wanted my music to sell itself.  And I knew that those who sacrifice more and faster would get farther down that career road faster than myself.  But I still refused to follow the path of least resistance.

Throughout my stint in Austin, I began to meet various musicians, booking managers and mentors in the field.   Flaky musicians, waiting for producers who never showed at coffeeshops and disappointing recording experiences were all the continual existence of my world.  The music industry and its people began to manifest themselves as saturated with addiction and selfishness.  I saw people who had fallen into difficult times.  I also saw good families falling at the feet of the music god while neglecting the spiritual welfare of their children.  My heart hurt when I lost friends or felt rejected.  Most importantly, God began to open my eyes to an existence that began to look empty and fruitless.  But in my heart, I felt pulled by a passion that I could not deny.  I knew I had this gift of writing songs, connecting to people and inspiring others on a daily basis.  I will always remember my continued grappling with my talents while questioning who I was supposed to be in God’s kingdom.  I also remember struggling with why others were living my dreams and the near tears I held back once when leaving a show for wanting it so badly.  In my heart, I longed to be doing what I loved and what I knew I was good at.

Somewhere around 26 or 27, I arrived at a monumental conclusion.  If I was ever to make a career of this music thing, I would not be able to follow the same path the others had followed.  I didn’t feel comfortable playing in certain atmospheres, so I was picky about where my performances occurred.  I was highly selective about band members, because I knew that people you spend copious amounts of time with will undoubtedly affect and change you.  I never wanted a manager who didn’t understand my vision and direction.  I also began to realize that trying to get recognized by a record label might not be my best course of action unless it was an an ideal label that respected its artists.  Rather, I decided to become an independent artist.  I would self-produce an EP and create my own “cabinet” or network of trusted designers, printers, booking people, photographers, artists and videographers.  I would be able to control what I created and the image I would ultimately project into the world.  This would force me to become creative in both revenue generation as well as promotion.  I realized after a conversation with a band manager that I would be viewed as either a pioneer or a purist who was holding onto the way she believed about certain things.  Though challenges were undeniable, I still felt compelled to try.  I had grit, and I knew with some hard work, something could be achieved.

I have often felt that even if I did fail at this, I would still be happier than never having tried.  With a father who started his own business and a grandfather who was a gifted salesman, I felt like it was in my blood to pursue an entrepreneurial path.  Now thinking about business plans for my music, I am challenging myself to see things as truly beneficial or not.  I have both 3-5 year goals as well as short-term goals.  My current goal is to complete my first EP by the end of August and have it mixed, mastered, packaged and ready for all of you by mid-September.  I am blessed to have Michael Estok and Vibe Dial Studios for this.  After the release of the EP, my next goal is to play 4-6 shows in various cities in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia to begin this train down the track.  All aboard.

I want to create something meaningful and relatable.  I believe in my vision of a career of writing, playing and singing music while involving great people along the way.  But I guess the larger theme of what I’d like to do is to change the musician stereotype of self-centeredness.  Throughout my endeavors, I want to incorporate the aspect of service into my character and my business model.  By spreading revenue to positive organizations as well as helping with benefit shows and selecting service venues to play, I believe this will help keep me grounded and give back to communities small and large.  I believe in the need for more musicians to perpetuate a healthy perspective by viewing our gifts as something we’ve been given.   And they are gifts we are forever indebted to share with the world for good.  May we never forget that God bestowed us with gifts to enjoy for ourselves and for others.

So now, here I am at 28.  Five years after I began writing my first songs.  I hope at this point, I have a better head on my shoulders than once was there and a little more savvy in the way things work.  I know I have much to learn and will always be learning.  But here’s to future goals, projects and endeavors.  Let’s all work to have the best attitude and be both thankful and effective with the gifts we’ve been given J

To the Imaginative…


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Photo credit goes wholly to: Status Frustration photostream

A mere hike in the woods including a sprint can begin to feel like a scene from a fairytale.

Boredom does not exist because they need only step outside their door to see a need, an opportunity or an adventure at their feet.

There is always something to share and tell- for their eyes are wide enough to take in a world that is vastly changing, shifting and growing like the ocean that never rests.

They always have friends- even if they are only created up in their heads.  Even people begin to transform into characters in front of their eyes or into animals that match their personality characteristics.

Life is both a beautiful experience and terrifying letdown… oftentimes all in the same day.

There is beauty in all things large and small.

A person is never just a person… they are the object of affection or struggle and they become a character in stories, songs and daydreams.

Light dances around the world through shadow play in ways that most people miss as they hurry along.

Nature is a haven of rest and recharging.

Grit is absolutely necessary to see a future in which creativity can reign.

Nothing is ridiculous.

Whimsy is a part of everyday life.

Why not is always waiting in the back of the mind, ready to be latched onto like the last hope.

All things become fodder for inspiration.

Have and inspiring Wednesday 🙂

~lme

French Pastries


Where shall I go

To find myself

The me I do not know

What window shall I choose

To gaze upon a flowering field

To find myself a better view

To where shall I flee

To satisfy

Each tiny need

And which foreign land can host

My daily joys

And all adversity

To whom shall I give

To bestow

My life

Like a mayfly lives

Who owns the crafted hands

That will hold me close

Spinning yarns over fortune

Love as full from coast to coast.

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Photo Credit: US Library of Congress photostream (love this place live)

~lme