write. play. repeat.

from joy to joy to joy

Going for a Drive: 2015 Word in Review


If nothing else, my tradition of choosing a Word for the Year instead of making resolutions has brought me some serious growth.

I don’t always know at the start where the word is going to take me. I don’t have a map or clarity around it, and I never reverse engineer it by coming up with my goals first and then picking a word that matches it. I just meditate on it, let something come to me, and see how it feels. Each time this has brought something unexpected but ultimately good into my life.

In January, when the word DRIVE landed on me, I wasn’t necessarily anticipating the literal nature of its course through my year. But, oh boy, have I driven.

For example: I put 10,000 miles on my car in July alone. I went on a national tour in my trusty CR-V, Boomer. We saw the country together. It had been a long time since I spent so much time alone, exploring. I felt like a child who has discovered the wild of a wooded backyard for the first time.



While my touring schedule was tight, I did make sure I scheduled in a few hours here and there to enjoy some of this massive country: I saw the High Desert in Arizona and New Mexico; passed through the seemingly endless dunes of the Mojave; wrote my name in the sand at the Pacific; took myself out to lunch in the Castro; spent a whole day communing with Muir Woods; got a tattoo in Seattle and wrote pages in Puget Sound; marveled at Montana and learned what Big Sky means…  I drove.

Though I traveled by myself, I was certainly not alone. I visited so many friends I never get to see in person, made so many new friends, and had help at every stop. Something that I feared would increase my sense of isolation actually made me feel so much more connected to my people. It gave me a renewed sense of purpose around my relationships.

Aside from the physical act of driving, I also experienced more drive where my business life is concerned. I made better money, was able to hire a manager to help me with booking and scheduling so that I wasn’t stressed all the time (thank you Kat!), started a second band, explored performance opportunities outside of music, and got to focus more on where I’d like to head in the future.

2015 was definitely the year of DRIVE.

For the next few days, I’ll be contemplating what word will guide me through 2016.  Once it finds me, I’ll let you know.


Autumn Thoughts

Lines written in the days of growing darkness
by Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Tiny Annoyances

Something just happened that I wanted to sit down to write about, because I know I’m not the only one who has dealt with this.

There are these things in my life that I call “tiny annoyances”. Something that doesn’t bother me enough that it needs to be immediately addressed, but bugs me every time I confront it.

I’m sure you’ve got these, too. Things like:

  • That one light fixture in the house that buzzes
  • The way the cards in your wallet are (dis)organized.
  • The email lists you keep meaning to unsubscribe from.
  • The bottom shelf in the kitchen, where seldom used pans go to die.

Today I was putting away my Winter clothes and organizing my stage clothes. I reached up, on my tiptoes, to try to get a dress down.  Because I had to reach awkwardly, I grabbed the dress by one strap and yanked it from the bar, and several hangers came raining down on my head.  (Y’all, I am nothing if not graceful.)

I finally became fed up at the “tiny annoyance” of the way the modular closet was designed and decided to fix it.  Hammer in my hand, fueled by the rage of inconvenience, I dismantled the shelves and rods and re-positioned them in a way that made more sense for my wardrobe. Then, I rehung my clothes and finished filling a Goodwill box and continued the project of swapping the Winter for Summer.

It only took ten minutes.

Ten minutes! When I think of all the times I got up up up on my toes and stretched to reach something….all the times I huffed at the way my dresses were bunched up because of the height of the shelves….I wonder how much future frustration those ten minutes has saved me.

Is there a tiny annoyance in your life that can be dealt with in ten minutes or less?  I recommend picking one (just one!) and doing it today. Maybe even now.


Word of the Year, 2015: Drive


I have done the Word of the Year thing for several years now, instead of resolutions. I’ve really benefitted from it. As much as I try not to be too “woo-woo” about it, I often feel as though the word chooses me and not the other way ’round. This time, I especially feel that way, because I didn’t enjoy the feeling that came over me when this word popped up.

I resisted this. I’m still resisting it. A part of me is tugging the blanket over my head and saying, “La, la, la, I can’t hear you” to this word.

But then I sit and wonder what that’s about. Why would I push back? Talking with a friend of mine over coffee yesterday morning, I realized what was making me nervous about it:
Drive feels like a “business” term.
I’ve heard so much corporate lingo and self-improvement stuff talk about having “drive & initiative” that my hackles went up at this word. I instantly picture some dude in a suit in front of a PowerPoint presentation when I hear it. I don’t think of myself in that way at all, and can’t imagine fitting in to that kind of environment, so I wonder if my mind is making fun of me by choosing this.

Drive implies travel, velocity.

I have this fear of being swept up in something and taken away from a life I find quite pleasant. This word evokes a feeling in me of losing control — which is interesting, because wouldn’t I be the one doing the driving? I worry about moving too fast, things going further than I am ready for.

Drive is an aggressive word.

Every other word I’ve had in the five years I’ve been doing this has been sweet, in a way. Nourish, Bare, Tend, etc… these are words that feel kind and calm, these are words that will gently usher in a new stage of life. Drive is active, it is powerful, it is telling me to DO something. It is telling me that not only is change coming, but that I will be the instigator and creator of it. That shit is scary, y’all.
I think this year will be a time for me to re-frame how I feel about certain concepts. The word “drive” is something I would like to own as a part of my identity, embracing its positive connotations rather than leaning on the familiar negative ones. How can I reconcile these initial gut reactions and make it work for me?

  • Drive comes from passion. I have that in spades. Acting from a place of passion means that I am excited about things I do, and can lead and create with energy.
  • Drive gets things from one place to another – that inner impulse will help me to follow through and finish projects.
  • Someone who is driven doesn’t stop when they fail. I will use my failures to learn and grow and keep moving.

This word is fiery. It’s exciting, it’s catching, it creates positive change. All things I’m on board with.
So, even though I’m scared, and even though I still feel some resistance, I am getting in this car.

Let’s Drive.
Do you have a Word of the Year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

breath of fresh air

[credit: breathe by Beny Shlevich]

All this hype about Spring Cleaning never really resonated with me. Spring time is when I want to go OUT, I want to frolic and play and be nowhere near my house.  Fall is when I start to nest.  As such, I tend to turn toward de-cluttering, simplifying, and beautifying my spaces during that time.

It’s officially Fall now, and the weather in Atlanta seems to have finally gotten the memo.  As such, it’s time for Fall Cleaning.

I redesigned this blog today.  Took out all the clutter. Took out all the marketing and the sales page. Pared down to the only part that’s really important to me – words, and a way to connect.

I also joined ello to have a more simplified social media experience. Feel free to find me there.

I think I’d gotten lost. In hype, in “supposed to”, in too many ads and too much input.

Now I can breathe.







[photo credit: breathe by Beny Shlevich]


Word of the Year 2013: Tend

photo by --Tico--

Once again, my word for the year is approaching me in a (I suspect deceptively) gentle way. No flashing marquis, no fanfare. A gentle but firm hand on my shoulder, a whisper.


Garden seedlings and other tiny things need tending to be given the best chance of success.

In the fallout of my divorce (and radical life changes that went with it), I stopped giving attention to everything but basic survival. If I was still breathing and still had electricity and food, I considered my goal for the day met. The details of running my own business, the small gestures that reinforce personal relationships, the elements of care toward self and others that create a thriving life instead of a survived one…all of these and more went ignored as I focused on making it to the next day. As a result, those areas of my life stagnated. Self-care must be paramount now. Rather than surviving each day, I must refocus on living.

I want to tend the wounds left as best I can.

As we heal and new skin grows, it is said to be tender: vulnerable and fragile to the touch; easily damaged.
A lot in my life feels tender right now. I know I’m healing, I know that my new life is precious and will be more than I could ever plan for, but I still ache. I can’t yet see the big picture, so the best I can do is focus on the very tiny ones, to do something every day that reinforces the healing places.

I want to tend to the frayed edges of my life.

A rope was cut, and now there are pieces sticking out at the ends in all directions. My family, my friendships, my career… one at a time, I want to bring them into order, to restore and condition them, to make them stronger. This can’t be done in one swift move – it requires time and continual attention. It will take many small gestures rather than grandiose proclamations. It requires following through, checking-in, evaluation and care.

I feel like all of these things, in a way — a rope, a wound, a seedling. Exposed to the world and in need of tending.

But I’m also the rope-maker, the healer, the gardener. I am the one responsible for my own growth and happiness. I am the one who will bring myself back into the world, gently, carefully, and with intention.








[photo by –Tico–]

Tear It All Down, Build It Back Up

My word of the year for 2011 turned into my word for TWO years. I didn’t know at the time that invoking a seemingly harmless sentiment would change my entire life, and cause me to go basically silent here (and with my music) for an entire year.

I knew that baring myself to others, and most importantly, to myself, would require some change. I knew that I could not go on as I had been. What I didn’t know was that I would essentially pull apart the structure of my life in order to reveal the foundations that I’d covered up for too long.

If you are familiar with the tarot, you may have gotten the Tower card in a reading. This card can be scary and intimidating and seem all doom & gloom, but I managed to become kind of intimate with it this year. (For a great post about the Tower, see Melissa’s tarot blog.)

The Tower, from the Shadowscapes Tarot
The Tower, from the Shadowscapes Tarot


Before, many people spoke to me as though I had a perfect life, as though everything was all set for me and was only getting better. I supported that illusion so I wouldn’t seem weak.

Before, I would not cry easily in front of others. I cried often, but mostly to myself and occasionally in front of a partner. I did not want to shake the image of my strength, the idea that I had it all together. I didn’t want to seem vulnerable, especially to people for whom I felt I was supposed to be offering support or help. I didn’t share my deepest heartaches or fears with anyone but my journal.

The Tower looks majestic and awe-inspiring. It looks as though it has a strong foundation and could go up and up forever – but it’s all struck down suddenly by a force of nature. When I chose bare as my word, I was inadvertently invoking The Tower as well. I was asking for the Truth, and that is never easy.

And then… I let the lightning hit and tear all of my illusions apart.  It hurt like hell, it stunned me into silence, it left me raw, it left me bare, but it made room for something else.


If you ask me, I’ll tell you the Truth.

If I’m touched, for good or ill, I will cry and let you see it.

If I love you, I’ll try to show you without embarrassment.

If I’m singing for you, you are getting all that I have to give in that moment.

If I’m uncertain, I won’t pretend to have the answers.

If I’m joyful, I let it reverberate to my core and try to share it.


This foundation is stronger now. The mistakes I’ve made have taught me. Everything that comes after, while maybe not the shape I originally imagined, will be built to last.

Quarterlife Crisis Book!

You guys! I’m in a book!

Quarte Life Crisis - The Book

Many of you may remember that I was a blogger for Stratejoy awhile ago, and had a great time spilling my guts about my own quarterlife crises. Well now, Molly Mahar has taken some of the best of the Stratejoy blog posts and compiled them into a delicious eBook.  This would be a fantastic holiday gift for yourself of any woman you know who might be going through the trenches of her own QLC.  The stories here will inspire, make you giggle, make you want to drink a cup of tea and talk with your best girlfriend. For a limited time, they’re only $10 – totally worth it for the fuzzy feelings it will give you.

Just click on the badge above to download or Click here to view more details


(Oh also, I haven’t posted almost all year, because I was going through those same trenches myself, AGAIN, and reading a lot of these stories over again helped jump start me and get me back to myself. I hope it will do the same for you.)


Who are you waiting for?

I did something a little out of character last week. Something that people have been telling me to do. A friend of mine was going to audition for The Voice, and jokingly suggested I go with him… so I did.

Now, I have lots of experience auditioning for things. I did theatre as a kid and into my early 20s, and learned long ago that someone telling you you aren’t right for the part doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing – it means you aren’t right for this specific part in this specific production. So, I wasn’t worried about rejection or falling on my face or anything like that. I had a decent idea of what to expect.

What I didn’t expect was to see hundreds and hundreds of people lined up that I’d never seen before. I’ve been a part of the music scene in Atlanta for awhile, and I thought there would be at least a few other pros showing up for fun or to take a shot at getting on the show. I’m sure some of them did show up, and it was just at one of the other audition times, but I still thought I’d run into someone I recognized from playing out in town. Most people that I talked to there were just regular folks who love to sing, and had little to no experience performing.

Now, this struck me, not because I think only professionals should audition for stuff like this (far from it!), but because of the conversations I was overhearing and participating in. Dozens of the other people waiting in various lines with me were talking about auditioning for all kinds of shows – American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, X Factor, etc. and many of them had auditioned several times for these shows.  And yet, they still weren’t performing anywhere otherwise.

They were treating these shows like they were the one shot they’d have at being a real singer.

They were waiting for some producer on a reality show contest to tell them it was ok for them to sing.

These weren’t people without talent – even just warming up in the hallways, they sounded beautiful. Many of them could easily get jobs somewhere in the entertainment industry…but something has made them believe that this is the only way to do it, and if it doesn’t work this way, they just need to quit.

Who are you waiting for? 

The only person who needs to validate your dream is YOU. There isn’t a single successful person out there who hasn’t been rejected, told no, told they are talentless hacks… what makes them successful isn’t that they are better than everyone else, but that they worked their butts off and never quit.

When someone rejected them, they tried again.

When they didn’t do as well as they wanted, they trained harder and tried again.

When they were told no, they learned from the experience and tried again.

They didn’t wait for validation to do what they loved. They did it anyway.

Whose permission are you waiting for? There’s only one person who can give it to you.


Writing as Rest: Overcoming Overhwhelm

I did it again. I have spread myself too thin and allowed myself to become overwhelmed with projects. One of the joys of being a creative person is that ideas can come very easily, and often many at once. My challenge in the last couple of years has been to learn to practice discernment and allow some ideas to wait instead of pouncing on all of them. Lately, I’ve slipped up a bit in this and have been learning, again, how to let go and focus on a small number of things at a time. It’s a painful lesson, and one that I know I will have to be reminded of again and again before it becomes easy.

This morning, I felt myself getting really stressed out about all of the stuff I have coming up in the next few weeks. I’ll be traveling and playing music throughout July, driving up and down the East coast. I’ve never spent more than a week at a time traveling for shows and I’m both nervous and excited about the trip. I’ve also been planning a women’s retreat in August, writing and posting new songs, working on an eBook and coaching a few clients. As all of these things stacked up in my mind, I felt my breathing get shallow and my heart rate speed up. It all seemed like too much.  At that point, I realized how long it had been since I posted here.  For a moment, I felt guilty about neglecting the website, because it was yet another thing on my climbing stack of “Things You Should Do.” But then I remembered why I like to write here in the first place.

When I become swamped with projects, the first thing to go is usually this blog. The irony of it is that writing, especially the way I write here, is my way of resting. Through writing this blog, I step back and become clear, I move inward and explore my needs and desires, and I feel more centered and able to handle everything. Why is the very thing that can help me one of the first things I forget to do, or stop prioritizing?

I need to post here, to reflect and connect with others, and to see everything laid out in front of me, instead of as a nebulous cloud of Overwhelm in my head (where it seems so much scarier.) Posting here is a gift to myself, and not just another thing I’m supposed to do. I come here, and my mind is able to rest for a little while. That’s something I’ll try to remember more often.


[photo credit]