JANUARY 2017 EDA Inclusive - Life Imitating Art Imitating Life
Hello and Happy New Year!
I have been having fun with my family in Telluride and enjoying some
As for so many, I find myself reflecting back over not only the
year, but quite often I find myself studying the larger circles on my tree of
life. Looking at the patterns of each
year's circle is fascinating- just like a tree, i can see my years of stress
and drought, and how my fibers tightened there. I can see rapid growth rings, as my mind or my career soared. I can see
scarred rings that were full of pain, and where the great Balm of Life found
its way into my life with silence, bringing Grace, Wisdom and Healing. I can
see care free years and years where I harnessed myself to baggage that wasn't
even mine to carry.
I feel deep gratitude for each year, for the Great Pattern of my
life - the expanding and contracting of it all. Just like space, we are constantly expanding outward. The pace and
trajectory are set by our own mindfulness, our intent or lack there of...
We are creating our life even when we are not aware we are doing so.
The more aware we are, the more our outer world matches our inner one. And the
more we explore our inner world, the more refined it all becomes.
There certainly are years where if I had a magic wand, I would go
back to whisper in my younger self's ear: "Shhhhh.... fear not, this is
just one small swing on life's pendulum. It will balance out and you will grow
strong with out you having to force a thing."
As I write this, I cant help but look at this year's circle, and
realize that I could still use this very message, and so I do so now in real
time. Yes, still I find myself being
tempted to push the flower of life open, rather than relax and watch it unfold.
Part of me still believes the lie that hyper-vigilance is needed in all areas
to "make things happen."
My friend Ryan has a saying "grind before you shine". He teaches children, and he uses this axiom
to remind his kids to love the "grind"- to dig into each task, even
the humblest of ones, because it takes this tenacity and willingness and
humility to work hard, so that one can be in a position to shine. I learned this lesson well from my upbringing
in Alaska, and from my dad.
It got me far in my life. I
was willing to work harder and dig deeper than many in my field, and it helped
me rise and I learned to shine - or
rather how to share the light inside myself, so that others could feel it in
song. We all have this light and we all
have a place in life to shine. I felt
fortunate that my passion became my living. I am still grateful for this. But I notice as I look back, that there were
many opportunities I missed to breathe, enjoy, and relax into the river and
momentum that carried me along. By never
relaxing, i deprived myself of the opportunity to enjoy myself deeply in
real time. As it was happening. I was
looking to the next thing I should execute, the next potential set back- so
much so, that I was hardly present for the tremendous highs of my own life. And
I couldn't enjoy the struggle either. And make no mistake, there is a rare beauty to behold as we wrestle and
struggle to carve ourselves - our very beings - into our own works of art.
I am still struggling in this way; to shape myself into my best work
of art. Each year I find there is more
excess clay to cut away. More refinement
that can be done. More learning to do so
that my mothering, my loving, my wellness, my career can all express the same
essential essence of who I most deeply am. To see the art of our internal self become embodied and made visible by
creating an exact replica of it in our very lives in a tremendous artistic
pursuit- and I feel it is the pursuit of all humans. We are all artists. We
have a myriad of unique colors and combinations that is our signature alone -
and we get to express that and literally build an outward model of what we see
Show me an outwardly successful person in any category of life, and
I will show you a person who first spent many hours with that aspect of their
own inner life. They first saw it inside
themselves, and from there wrestled and carved away until it was such a clear
vision they were able to begin to build and struggle to replicate it outwardly.
My mission in life has been to be like my heroine in my song "Painters." A woman who made her life her best work of
art. A thing of beauty. And so this has meant looking deeply inside,
not just at song, or voice, or career, but in each aspect of what it is to be
alive and human - to try and create tone in each area with equal amounts of
thoughtfulness- and then manifest it in my life. It is a process that I hope will be the
mastery of my lifetime... but it doesn't happen overnight. It happens each day in small and seemingly
un-noble ways. Small doable actions that
create small changes that contribute to that year's circle of growth. Like a painting, a life well lived does not
happen perfectly, nor in one sitting. Each day is a brush stroke. And when we can be thoughtful and present,
the quality and artistry of each brush stroke improves, and we begin to see a
picture emerge. And each year, or maybe
longer, if we can remember to step back and look at the painting, and then look
inside deeply, we have the opportunity make sure we have not gotten off track.
And if we have (which inevitably happens), we can simply make new brush strokes
over the old, to create a more accurate picture of our own souls longing- so we
might see our own beauty splashed out upon the structures we build around us.
I have learned much this year. I have striven to be a better painter of my life, and the support I have
received, the mentors and teachers who have stepped forward, the love and
support I have felt has never in my life
been so strong.
Let me say that again because it is important for me to hear. I am more supported and more loved than I
have ever been in my life. It has been healing and it has been a blessing.
Tears of gratitude spill down my face.
I struggle each day, as I always have. My earnest and workman-like
approach to my life has not changed much. But I am not alone. I am safe. And I am learning to see the poetry in
the struggle. This type of struggle is what I call The Good Fight. And I can relax into it, be present, and
enjoy the beauty of my own willingness to be the hand and the clay
What I can let go of is the worry that used to go along with
this. Worry is just insecurity
dressed up in new clothing, hoping you will let it in the door. When I notice this, and the little lies that
accompany worry, I am able to separate from them and let them go. And get back to the good work with the
confidence knowing I am alive, awake and in process, and that this is all I can
ask of myself. Worry and fear and
anxiety are like terrorists that find insecurities to hold your own ego
hostage. Notice them and smile and say
"but I believe I will find my way. I may not know the solution now, but I am awake and I will see it when
it comes." And poof! Away it goes. And
each time it gets weaker.
As I look back at this year, I see myself trying to build new things
- a new way of making a living so I can be a mom and travel less, a new way of
communicating the messages I have had in music. I launched the book and the website, and I have many things I want to
build. Building them is like a roller
coaster ride - there are ups and down, and I get carried away sometimes (trying
to make things happen, using my will to speed things up, or caring too much
about the outcome), I have had to repeatedly remind myself: its not about this
thing or that. Its not about this
business or that. Its not about any one
thing in my life - its about the whole larger picture. Its about the opportunity of a lifetime - to
look deeply inside and then splash paint around and see what I can make. Its about the process and damn it, I'm not
going to let worry or false ideas about what I think should happen rob me of a
front row seat to my own life.
song "Becoming" off of 0304 - I am still witnessing my own becoming -
and I want to make sure I am present for it all! Its not about things getting
built, its about how I bring myself to each task - for these are the real
brush strokes that will create my best work of art. Its getting to bring my
values to bear in every aspect of what I do. Its trying to bring grace into each action, and correcting myself when I
don't. Its about taking risks and loving myself when I fail. Nothing else matters.
The real art is in how we show up each day in our lives.
I will need to be reminded of this many times more. Knowing and writing this does not mean I don't
have my moments of Great Forgetfulness. I am no Master, but a student
still. I still make a hypocrite of
myself daily. But I am willing to see it
all, and be the best student I can be, and share along the way. I hope to be a student all my life.
I was sad to hear that John Glenn passed away this last year. It
reminded me of when I toured with him through Bosnia and Kosovo for a USO trip
entertaining the troops.
I was in my late twenties at the time. I was tired from too much
touring and one heck of a crazy personal life. But I wanted to do my part for
the troops and off I went on a large aircraft carrier with a group of other
willing participants. Carole King (whom
I'm a huge fan of), Terry Bradshaw the football player - and among others was
John Glenn and his wife. Through my
delirium of fatigue as we traveled nonstop - living in bunkers and gymnasiums
for two weeks, I watched John closely and became a fan of the man - much more
so than of the astronaut I knew him to be. I became a fan of him as a human who was clearly striving to make
himself a good work of art. He was in
his 70's or 80's at the time - not sure- I'd have to look it up. But his
body was strong, and his mind was quick. He was composed, patient, and he acted with humility and dignity in all the
things he did. He had grace and humor in all interactions with those he came
across - despite rank, fame or orientation. I finally decided to sit down and ask him some questions, and none were
about space travel (well, maybe a few were - its fascinating stuff!). I wanted to know how he aged so well. How he used his will and intelligence to mold
himself into an impressive human being. I'm not talking about the fact he had
been an astronaut and a senator and married to the same woman his whole life
and so many other accomplishments. I
wanted to know if he had any idea how he created himself into the shape I saw
And so I asked him, and he looked at me with a puzzled look for a
moment, and he was quiet for yet
another. I watched the fingers of his mind dig deeply into his whole being to
bring an answer back to me that was sincere and accurate and whole in its
presentation. He spoke about living a thoughtful life. About choices and how choices lead to actions
and how those build lives. He spoke of
his wife, whom he met as a baby - literally in a crib- as their parents were
friends and they grew up next to one another. He spoke of how Love carved him. And then he spoke about something that was almost so simple he knew it
would pass me by, and so he leaned in almost imperceptibly and he looked at me
with just a little more firmness and he said, "The secret is you have to
wake up every day looking forward to something you will do that day. It might
be the simple act of skiing. It might be something at work. It might be sitting alone. But you must wake each day with enthusiasm,
eager to see what the day brings."
I have never asked a single person I have met in all my years for an
autograph, but I asked John for his that day.
I sat with his words, and reflected on my own behavior on the trip.
I was uncomfortable and tired and hungry for most of the trip. While I did not
complain outwardly, I certainly was complaining inwardly. Frankly, I lacked the childlike enthusiasm,
even while seeing amazing sights, being flown in military helicopters over
parts of the world few have the opportunity to see. Sure, there was some novelty in it all that I
enjoyed, and I have always enjoyed opening my heart and singing for others,
especially the troops. But there was
more goodness that I left on the table of life on that trip. And I was not
proud of that.
Over the years I have thought often of John Glenn's words, "Wake
each day looking forward to doing something." I have meditated on it. And I have come to see it is this enthusiasm,
this ability to have a childlike joy and excitement for even the simplest
things, that is the life force that keeps us vital. It is also what I call the poetry of
life. And when we can begin to see
beauty in the ordinary, even in the ugly, when we can stop forcing and listen
and let life unfold from the inertia of our own intent, then we begin to feel
an ecstatic joy. When we can remember a mountain is climbed by taking one well-placed
step each day, we are guaranteed success. When our life's mission is little
more than insisting we wake to find exuberant joy in each day- our innocence is
restored, our burden lightens, and we begin to be the painters of our own
portrait in real time. Its not a work of
art we will get to see in the traditional sense, but we get to live inside this
work of art! Better yet!
My New Year's resolution is to remember this more. To not get caught up in the business of it
all. To see true creation unfolding in
the imperfect moments. To enjoy each day
I have on this earth with gratitude. To
believe in my own ability to detach from any ugliness I have allowed to enter
the doors of my life during my own forgetfulness. To take today's one step as artfully as I
I am wishing you all a happy new year. May you leave no goodness on the table of
life left unconsumed, no matter how small.
If you want to learn more about the tips and tools I have for
helping create your life into your own work of art, please visit JewelNeverBroken.com