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


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


The tough questions


Photo credit:  OSU Special Collection and Archives

If winning isn’t everything, then why is the loser not congratulated?

If you can’t have your cake and eat it too, then how come some people are both attractive and smart?

If strong character is to be well-respected, then why are people with sturdy internal fortitude usually seen as extremists?

If love is all you need, then how come those who claim to love are still broken?

If we got here by a big bang, how come the people who study creativity seem to disbelieve in a creative genius behind this beautiful painting of life?

If women are so liberated, then how come I’m not sitting at home playing my piano, hosting parties and reading in the garden?

If beauty is only skin deep, then some of us will forever be destined as repulsive.

If creativity is not a career choice, then how come people still want to hear music while they work, visit art galleries at night and be inspired by beautiful things?

If it’s an ideal set in motion, can it become the real?

If dreamers are crazy, then how do we have light bulbs, airplanes and Mac computers?

A mind with a view


Jessie Woodrow- thanks to this organization 

After listening to some thoughts from people last week, I realized that our whole perspective on life is really twisted.  We, and I, live in fear of aging of dying and leaving this world, but it shouldn’t be this way.  We should see our lives as the portal into eternity.  What if I always viewed my life that way?  I might not get so upset at people or worry so much about trying to make my mark or prove myself to this slowly vanishing existence.   I struggle with looking forward to death.  How many of us do- in a positive way I mean? Realizing that ultimately if we’ve only been spent by and for ourselves, we’ve really not left much of a legacy here.

It’s like a funnel, this life.  It’s only siphoning us into a much larger world of eternal existence.  I can’t imagine what that’s like and frankly, it freaks me out sometimes and I have to stop thinking about it.  I think the unknown scares me.  I think sometimes I fear I’ll be bored forever.  But I heard an uplifting sermon recently that talked about how heaven will be eternal bliss.  That feeling of newness and excitement continually overpouring like a fountain.  Trusting God is something I have to work at.  I need to remind myself that he made me and knows me and wants good for me and knows exactly how to fulfill me.  I have to remember that the reasons I groan and ache here are because I am not at home with Him.  At times, I get too comfortable here- thus the problem with our poshy lifestyles.  It’s probably helpful to get out of that comfort zone more than we reside in it.

In conjunction with the end of your life is the perspective of the rest of your life.  It is interesting to realize what defines you when you start to strip earthly things away.  If you weren’t able to paint your body like a canvas with tattoos or the latest trend in the fashion industry or do your hair in a specific way or stand behind an instrument every night or shell out your fancy business cards, what would you look like?  Would your character speak volumes about who you are?  I am blessed to have several people who have reminded me of this recently.  These “about us” things really are just tangents to who we truly are.  Sometimes it’s easy to let our material goods and talents define us.  We’ve been taught to express ourselves since we were little.  And though I don’t deny that being unique and an individual is something God appreciates, maybe we tend to value people more or less for what they can DO and not who they ARE.  Inhabit who you are and the gifts you’ve been given, but also be willing to set them aside of you at times and say- that’s not who I am at the core- those are things that I do.  I think this is becoming more real to me as I have been shifting in my passionate pursuits and the desire to feverishly chase a dream has been melting a little from my heart.  Maybe it’s age or maybe I’m just tired.  But, strangely enough, I have had more opportunities to play music live than when I was touting my talents to the world and trying to figure out how to market myself and who to talk to in the music industry.  Funny how things begin to fall into place once you let go a little and just truly enjoy what you do and relinquish some control.

I don’t know where I’ll end up with music or writing or my career endeavors, but ultimately it doesn’t matter.  At the end of my life, what will matter is the way I’ve walked the journey through life.  It’s exciting to think big- to imagine yourself on an Olympic pedestal or playing music for those who truly love it or winning a Nobel prize.  But all of these things are just things that will collect dust and after the moment will cease to hold as much excitement as they once had.  Therefore, how you grow as an individual, the hard work that builds character, the way you treat others and the lives you influence all hold more weight than the actual attainment of the goal.  Remember that.  Tell me to remember that.  And let’s not let people, places or things define who we are.


“People who feel nothing, DO nothing.”

The heart-shaped hash browns a lad from bongo made just for me 🙂

I read this recently right here.  He’s right.  You absolutely HAVE to latch onto something “too.” Too edgy, too different, too creative, too friendly.  If we are not too something, we are not putting enough of ourselves into it.  If we don’t invoke feelings in other people that compel them to act, perhaps we aren’t really standing for anything.

Ask my brother and sister- I’m highly impassioned and moved by experience, emotion and relationship.  It’s in my DNA- maybe from both sides. Here are some things that I feel passionately about and move me in my musical pursuits.

~~Being a pioneer can be a lonely and uphill way at times.  Don’t TELL me I can’t do it and don’t tell me that since it’s never been done, I should sit down and shut up.  Because I won’t.  I believe there are other good-seeking truth followers who wholeheartedly adore music and yet they do NOT want to spend their evenings playing places where they feel they must compromise who they are and what they stand for.  If you’re out there, I want to meet you and shake your hand.  And I want you in my network, because I appreciate you.  I want to stand by my faith as well as stand with my music in hand and say- here are my talents and here is what I did with them.  “Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free.” Lest we forget- the guy who buried his talent was scolded.

~~Why is it that people can’t get paid for their gifts they have spent valuable time honing?  There have to be innovative ways to generate revenue in the music industry.  It can’t be that I’ll finally make a living at my craft after I’m playing arenas and huge venues all around the world.  Music industry crew- let’s stop being so narrowminded.  Let’s stop listening to people that tell us there is one model of success and it’s name is Ke$ha or Beyonce.  To follow that path is to be lazy. It’s already been done.  So get to the books, the blogs, the influencers in your community, the events and start brainstorming.

~~I want to change the way people see art and music as a career.  Because they are careers.  So if you’re reading this and shaking your head, then do us both a favor and stop reading.  My blog may not be for you, because you won’t like what I have to say. God is Creator.  And he put that into us as lights in this world, which is one of the coolest things in which we see Him down here. I long for respect for spiritually minded people who pour their heart and soul into creating art, music, video, etc.  And if you don’t believe that it is a valid and respectable career choice, then I want you to chunk your ipod and burn all your concert tickets and take all your books to goodwill, because that is what you are basically saying when you think such thoughts.  To artists- If we don’t start treating ourselves with respect, others won’t as well.  So buck up, hold your heart and head high and walk this path with me friend.

~~People always warn of the spiritual dangers in the creative fields- and rightfully so.  But consider this- Wandering from God isn’t merely constricted to those in the creative industries- the pull to go with the flow and follow the Liar is seen in all career choices.  But people rarely shake their heads in sympathy when someone’s future husband has high hopes of being a doctor or lawyer.  Do they warn them like they’ve warned me?  They should.  Yes, “pursuance” can transform into “idol.”  Yes, this can happen to all of us.  Let’s just be fair across the board is what I ask.  Though we be farmers, doctors, lawyers, musicians or teachers, we all have the ability to put something higher on the todem pole than God Himself.

What drives you in your creative endeavors?  How have you worked toward marrying your faith and your talents?  Feel free to let me know in the comment space below.

The Best in Show: 5 Concerts that rocked my world

Reminiscing over some of my favorite shows in the past five years, I began to see a pattern in what made me truly connect to them and think of them fondly.  I came to the conclusion that it was summed up in two words- atmosphere and heart.  True, it was the music and the people and the hype and the crowd singing along and moving to the beat, but at the core of it all- an incredible atmosphere and the realization that the artist or band truly loved what they were doing resonated deep within me.  Memories are built on pictures, and pictures come to my mind when I float back to some of my favorite music performances of all times with some of my favorite people of all time.  Below is a list of my top 5 in the last 5 years and why:

 1.  Railroad Revival Tour– This show was hands- down one of the greatest concert experiences of my life so far.  My brother and I had tried to get tickets to see them where I lived in Austin, but it sold out insanely fast.  So, we quickly decided a road trip out to the west Texas town of Marfa would be our destination to see Mumford and Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.  I could gush, but I’ll save it.  First, my undeniable obsession with vintage trains was met with sheer excitement when I discovered that they would travel by them to each stop on the tour.  As if that wasn’t perfect enough, they performed in Marfa at an airstream trailer Hotel called El Cosmico, where you could stay for the night in any one of the airstreams, Indian Tepees or campsites.  Nothing can compare to bouncing and singing and smiling with my younger brother as our favorite band played an incredible show on the eve of Easter Sunday.  In this West Texas heaven, as a crowd of people moved to the music, an ethereal cloud of dust rose above it all, making the atmosphere completely magical, albeit probably terrible for our lungs.  To top the perfect evening, my brother and I sneaked backstage and met Marcus Mumford, Jade from Edwarde Sharpe and Willy Watson from OCMS.  I’ll never forget it.  I don’t want to, and I’ll tell my kids the story of me and their uncle travelling to see one of our favorite bands and the music that will live on forever in our hearts and on our stereos

2.  The Head and the Heart at Cannery Ballroom in Nashville this spring.  This show was a breath of fresh air for me.  The atmosphere was not so much of the pull as the genuine love of music that seemed to exude from every player onstage.  They just seem to be a group of kids hanging out in the park, dancing to the beat of their own drum and playing with more passion and heart than I see in most bands today.  With Charity (who I might add used to attend church with one of my gal pals back in Seattle) belting it out on Rivers and Roads, the crowd was in awe.  It made me remember why I want to be involved in music.  No matter how old I am or where I may be in life, I will always be a songwriter.  And that means even if the world never hears a single note or word- you are who you are.  It doesn’t make you any less of an artist someone told me just because the world doesn’t know who you are.  Meeting Terry, the keys player outside, was awesome.  And then, several days later, while en route to my then restaurant job in Brentwood, I saw two members of the Head and the Heart crossing the street.  I rolled down my window and said “I love the head and the heart.”  They turned around and smiled thankfully.  I’ll never forget it.

3.  The Belle Brigade–  This brother/sister duo became one of my favorite finds of South by Southwest 2011.  My best friend, Kayla, and I, saw them perform several times.  One was at Cedarstreet, in which I was nearly capped in the jugular by a security man because I wasn’t wearing a wristband for the event.  We also saw them at South by San Jose down on South Congress, where the most raw and natural happenstance occurred.  Something went wrong at the end of their set regarding the power, so Barbara, Ethan and their band came down off the stage and into the small crowd.  Donning guitars and genuine smiles, they did an incredible acapella version of Losers, which is one of my brigade favorites. Oh, and just a little tidbit of interest for you- not only are these two related, they are also fortunately the grandchildren of great composer, John Williams.  The icing on top of this is that Barbara used to drum for Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley.  Words cannot express how much punch mingled with heart the Belle Brigade packs behind their awesome indie/folk/pop sound. Not only did they have a killer performance, the joy and energy they project in a performance is flung off the stage right into your heart.  Kayla and I had met Barbara the day before.  And when she saw us standing near the stage at our 3rd and final experience of them at South by SouthwestKGSR morning broadcast, she did something quite endearing.  She looked at us and made this really hysterical awkward face and started waving.  Kayla turned around, unsure to whom she was directing the wave.  When she realized it was to us, we both waved back, and I threw back my own crazy face for her enjoyment.  She was so real, so genuine, so happy to be herself.  When we talked to her afterward, she put us on the list for their upcoming show back in Austin.  Though we weren’t able to attend, we sent cookies to the venue for them.  We even heard from them on facebook about it.  They love their fans and show it, and who can’t help but love a genuinely appreciative artist.

4.  KGSR morning broadcast during South by Southwest 2010-Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Grace Potter is a female rockstar. End of story.  But when she walked into the lobby of the Four Seasons that morning bright and early in her vintage pink frilly pajama nightgown, I fell madly in musical love.  Her amazing voluminous hair and pipes to boot, combined with Catherine Popper (previously the bassist for Ryan Adams and the Cardinals) and her dapper dudes clad in vintage robes, were picturesque.  This girl strutted her stuff and rocked the crowd surrounding her in this living room setting in the Four Seasons lobby.  Sadly, the next year, they moved this broadcast into one of the event rooms, so it no longer has that same feel.  Should you have the itch to see this rock princess, she (and I) will be at the Ryman Auditorium October 12-13 for a two-night stint.  Be ready to have your world rocked, because you can expect it from the illustrious Miss Potter.

5.  The last one, like a good record, is a repeat.  Mumford and Sons at the Ryman Auditorium with Dawes opening.  Dawes is one of my new favorite bands. Why? Because the lead singer has the gift of being a thought-provoking lyricist as well as writing perfect melodies to match.  Since they only sold 2 tickets max in pre-sale and regular sale, we had to get creative with seating. Being down on the Ryman floor singing Dawes at the top of my lungs with Bradford and rocking our harmonies will not soon be forgotten.  Nothing compares to shows at the Ryman, and any musician is fortunate to play that stage.  If you’ve never seen Mumford, I highly encourage you to take the opportunity.  Their lyrics and anthems are truly larger than life, and they play with a world of heart and enthusiasm.  At one point they played the famous Paul Simon cover, The Boxer, which was completely intoxicating.  That song has graced Jerry Douglas’s new album, because Douglas plays on the tune as well.  Much like Douglas, anything Mumford touches is pure gold.  He is currently the king in my eyes of the folk/Americana music world.

cheers and happy wens-day,

leah marie

Tidbits of thought from the wonderful world of music

I appreciate comments people have made regarding my recent posts on reconciling faith and the creative industries.  So, on this note, I wanted to share the little tidbits of knowledge I have regarding the music business, the pursuit of making music your career and striving for the higher things in life.  Something to consider is the term ROI- return on investment.  What is it truly doing for you in business?

4 points to ponder in this world of music:  

Community art in Chattanooga

1. Open mics are good only if you don’t use them as an end goal.  Should you be willing to try your stuff out on new audiences? Yes, of course.  If you want to work on trying to hone your and calm your nerves in performance, can it be helpful. Yes!  And it can also be great for meeting and gaining prospective contacts, booking people, band members and various talented people in the field with whom you should become acqainted.  But here is where I begin to caution you.  These “shows” should never be used as a landing pad.  They should merely be launching pads to bigger and better things.

It would behoove a musician who “eagerly desires to make music a career path” to not play open mics 3 nights a week (even once a week might be a little too much, do you really write that much “new” material every week to test on new audiences?).    My dad taught me an invaluable lesson this past week.  If you want people to see what you do as having value, then you should be willing to put a price on it.  I agree.  I want people to take art seriously.  For that to occur, I MUST TAKE ART SERIOUSLY, showing that it is a valid and necessary career choice.  And here’s a side tip, maybe we should start telling people “Oh my real job is blah blah blah and I play music on the side.”  Do you want to eventually make music your “real job?”  Then treat it with a little respect.

I recently helped an artist friend get paid for her work designing for a band in town.  Why?  Because I believe very strongly that artists are not just some creative children roaming the streets.  They are people who work desperately hard at what they do and deserve to be treated with respect (if they are fueling the same respect toward others in their industry and communities of course).

2.  Work toward finding creative ways to generate revenue.  I won’t go into a dissertation on how the music industry is a-changin’, and how record labels are going out of business.  We know this, but what are we going to DO with this knowledge?  Clearly you won’t pay your rent  or even pay for upkeep on your instruments if you play 3 nights a week for free, waiting for your “big break!”  Isn’t it ridiculous that we musicians have been taught to think this way.  I myself have thought if I could only meet the right person or get Jack White to notice my music (which will happen because I have a brilliant plan to hatch) or whatnot, then I’d be set.  Something quick and easy is all part of the American Dream baby.  If it’s hard or requires days of creative brainstorming and years of having your nose, mind, blood, sweat and tears to the grindstone, we tend to walk away.  Without sheer determination and innovation, though, we’d be sitting in dark homes without planes and trains and definitely with no blogs to read on laptops.  I encourage you to take heart commit to never. giving. up. (Leah speaks to herself here).

3.  Don’t spend copious amounts of time striving to please specific people in the music industry whether they wear the title of booking agent, venue owner, producer, or musicians who look at you blankly when you share your vision.  If you have to dig a mole out of a hole and practically die in front of someone to attract their attention, maybe the return on that investment won’t be as great as you’d imagined.  Let’s not forget the importance of growing an organic community of tribe.  Do you sit at home and hope for a music career?  No, but neither should you run yourself into the ground trying to prove to others and yourself that you belong in this creative realm.

Sit down, my friend.  Look inside and realize that if you are truly what you profess, then nothing can diminish your role as an artist or whatever in both a small and larger community.  Whether you sing to the trees in the forest or on a stage at Bonnaroo, you are still the same artist.  Don’t let recognition become your destination.  Rather, let it be something you accumulate in the form of blessings along your path.

4.  Be confident in your music, branding and the story of your product.  I truly am speaking to myself on this one.  I listen to so much music that sometimes it’s hard to not compare myself to others.  But I think that it is important to somewhat take a step back, say you can always improve on and hone your talents and then be confident that what you are creating is needed somewhere in the fabric of society.  This isn’t easy, but by creating anything original, you’ll begin to develop your own voice in your corner of the market.  People will then recognize that voice and eventually, people will come to want to hear that voice again and again.

The small hoorays in the darker days

“Hooray Hooray

I’m your silver lining

Hooray Hooray

But now I’m gold”

~Rilo Kiley

Life is unexpected and sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise like Jenny Lewis says.  But on the other side of that coin, life is full of disappointments.  Wait, hear me out please.  Because these continual disappointments grow perspective.  And perspective can work toward your character building.  Believe me, I tire of the continual character-building, but these things all mixed to together ultimately puts us farther down the path to wisdom.  And I don’t think any of us would part with wisdom if it were given to us.  I am quite certain if you’re a human reading this, you’ve experienced some sense of disappointment in your life.  Probably even within the last week or 24 hour span.  It is a natural part of our world.  People disappoint, situations disappoint, and at times, we become altogether disappointed in ourselves and our placement in this life.  This is because we’re constricted here.  Yes yes- we’re in a carnal straightjacket.  And we’re dying to get it… pun intended. If you feel like sometimes your soul just needs to breathe, it’s because it does.  And it will.  In time.

So where is the positive in all this?  Perspective.  We have the opportunity, and blessing if we make it, to gain new perspective every time we are riddled with disappointment.   Disappointment teaches us 3 key things about ourselves:

1.  Disappointment teaches us we are imperfect.  We have never been and that is not easy to swallow.  We want our looks, our style, our relationships to be so ideal.  It’s pretty evident in the way we use facebook at times as a status symbol (how can we not?).  We are such visual beings, and realization that disappointment brings is the lie that our lives are so much worse than someone else’s.   This is a falsehood, told by the Father of them.

2.  Disappointment humbles us.  It shakes us up a bit and gives us a sampling of humble pie.  If I’m not careful, it’s amazing how quickly I can become inflated with pride.  When that bubble is burst, it makes it all the more deflating to my ego.  One of my weaknesses is the desire to want people to like me.  I think most of us do, but in the music world, this cannot control you.  If you let it be your guide, it will ultimately guide you where it will.  We must keep the humbling in our minds and remember that any praise or criticism should be weighed against the only One whose praise or criticism matters.

3.  Disappointment shows us our need for each other.  (Here’s a great song to demonstrate my point.) I can’t tell you the deepness of friendship that can grow from two parties realizing they have been in the same place.  My best friend lives in Texas.  We bonded over a similar experience with the same guy (albeit at different times:) What started out as a 4 hour conversation became a deeply rooted friendship.  These moments laden with raw emotion that the world tries to cause us to suppress are actually like fertilizer for deep roots in a relationship.  We all know that true friendship never rests in the superficial, but sometimes we lazily bob in the shallow end of the pool, afraid to delve into the unknown.  I challenge you to push your comfort zone.  Reach out to people you would not normally confront.  Give to those who can’t ever repay you.  And in your own circle, be willing to listen and possibly cultivate deeper and more meaningful friendships.

4.  Disappointment causes us to realize we are not, and have never, been in control of this place where we currently reside.  Like my own grapplings with faith and the pursuance of a life in music, I continually get hit with this truth.  I’d like to be in control.  I’d like to walk up to a producer, ask him to produce my work, walk up to my dream band members and have them say yes to playing with me for as long as we like and create music and lyrics that are so relatable that the world loves to sing my songs while being gladly willing to roadtrip and pay part of their hard-earned money to see our shows.  I’m not saying that won’t happen, but I am saying that life doesn’t ever (ever) turn out the way you map it.  There is uncharted territory. There are jungles.  There are enchanted forests full of blessings you never imagined.  There are even gifts bestowed that several years ago you would have never imagined or even knew you needed.

And along with all of this, there is disappointment.  Strangely enough, by tempering the good with the disappointment, we come to find this healthy view of the reality enveloping us.  And, we begin to see the good things in our life as immense blessings.  Our thought process begins to be revamped by our new attitude of gratitude.  From there, we can actually catch sight of little glimmers of peace and thankfulness and, as my dear friend said this week, the realization that we are right where we need to be. 

Any creativity or realizations that have come from those times?  As my mother told me “Good music comes from bad places.”  I believe some of the greatest art can come from some of our darkest days.  That being said, let’s look for the small hoorays even in the darker days.  Keep it up kids 🙂


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buried gold

If we dig inside

the part of us

the hollow no one sees

and find a tiny little shred

of the good

the good

the good that we could be

And if deep within

our darkest fears

lie rewards

we’ve yet to see

and stretching, growing in our souls

has purpose there to be

There when opportunity

melts good and bad alike

and forced to pick

when truth’s unpleasant

all we see’s rejection

in their eyes

And when empty’s what

you feel inside

forsaken by a lot

shaking fingers full of nothing

airy hope is all you’ve got

The places in your throat

that you’ve swallowed

each time into your depths

are building something great


amidst the rest

An anchor

that will keep you

when you feel you’ll drift away

He’ll keep you calmly grounded

His own roots as your mainstay.


Orange Sky

Orange Sky

Are you jealous of purple’s hue?

When others look at her

And forget about you

A little recognition

Is really all you ask

I understand

For I have felt like that

Red leaf

Blowing in the wind

Do you see?

What might have been?

Though you’re being tossed about

Unsure of where you’ll land

Don’t worry

You will get back home again

Sweet rain

Falling from above

Are you really crying?

That people aren’t thankful enough?

And though they could be happy

You are causing much to grow

They’re angry

Because the traffic is so slow

Small birds

Flying in the sky

One is not enough

But with many they will try

They are a part of something

Larger than themselves


They always make it south

People, people

Here and there

There are many people


If we saw each other

Like the Lord does up above

It really wouldn’t be so hard

To love.

The Mary Evangeline

She has not harbored
Harbored yet
Waves and weather
Have not been kind enough
To her just yet

Only a vessel captivating sailors
Who gaze in want from afar
It’s better this way
To keep you at bay
Not knowing who you are

Seemingly unattainable
She glides along the coast
And as the sailors talk in their sleep
She haunts them as a ghost

She throws her sails back
Laughing whole-heartedly
In royal jovial jest
While those sitting shore-bound
Wonder what drives her
To rise above the rest

She bathes the world aplenty
Refreshment to each one
Bringing sighs of relief
When she enters
The horizon

Floating on her bath of tears
Davy Jones alone holding what has been
Transporting their unknown fears
For no sailor has unlocked the door
In the chamber held within

She seeks a captain
Who yearns and prays
For one entrusted role
To guide her patiently homeward
Protecting her bold yet fragile soul.