award-winning documentarian: radio + music + photography
DELVE is almost complete. Dave and I have finished the rough mix for all but one and a half songs which need more complex sound design work. We are on schedule and will be done by mid January.
Yesterday I had a photo shoot with Andrea Scher of Superhero Life. Her tagline is "No Capes, Just Courage". I do love that line and I love her. She is such a great woman in my life. In 2011, Andrea was one of the first friends with whom I shared the seed for DELVE.
I think this image she captured just might be the album cover.
Someone recently asked me what I think it means to delve, why I chose this title for my album, and what is my plan once it is done. These mighty, essential questions have been marinating in my brain, my heart, my soul.
To delve is the determination to become the best version of ourselves in this tiny little blip of life. Can we dare to feel the pain and discomfort of our own human brokenness to eventually realize there is nothing to fix? From there, I'm finding, creative force lives. DELVE is for those of us who choose to sit in that unknown and face that which scares us. It is an invitation to examine how we might hold and transform trauma that lives in our cells, inherited from our families and ancestors. Essentially, it is an invitation to craft our own living, breathing story in real time and trust that we humans are ultimately here to love. We are social animals designed to connect. From the moment each of us were born, our hearts were wide open to receive contact from a warm, loving presence. That basic need never ends, even if it hides deep beneath a shattered heart. As the great poet and musician Leonard Cohen so wisely wrote, "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
As a mother, I am learning to give to myself in the way I have given to my kids. With this, there is a re-wiring, a re-learning to trust myself, trust in this epic mysterious phenomenon of which we are all a part, and trust that mystical dance between myopic fortitude and graceful surrender.
This album is both an expression of what I have learned in the trenches of motherhood as well as a reflection of what is possible when we get out of our own way to explore that which our soul longs to uncover. I've come to realize that on the other side of paralyzing fear is liberation. That said, from this vantage point there are new levels and layers of change here and ahead.
Just deciding to make this album was a tremendous hurdle. Once I crossed that threshold, it began to flow. Then it was the Kickstarter campaign, then recording at Fantasy, then mixing....one hurdle after the next. It has sort of been like climbing a steep mountain, not knowing how on earth I'll reach the top, afraid I might not get there. Then I do. One step at a time. One day at a time. There is an uncanny thrill of being afraid and going toward that fear only to find stellar views overlooking the vast mountain range of lush forest and deep blue ocean. I turn my head to realize yet another climb is ahead.
Now, my next hurdle is bringing DELVE to the world. There are a myriad of possible directions to pursue and I am taking the time to be curiously uncomfortable with this unknown. I need to remember that I had no idea what songs were going to come through but I set a goal to write 10 of them between Feb 2012 - Feb 2013. The path forward is making itself clearer each day.
Then, last night I stayed up crazy late and inspired reading a Fast Company article about Matt Pincus, an outlier in the music business. I sense his fascinating, underdog approach is informing my next steps. Percolation continues.
Since recording DELVE in late September, Dave and I have been focused on the mix. This means layering tracks, bringing in voices, instruments, harmonies, ambient sound designs, and other ways to flesh out the material, fill in the gaps, and illuminate the messages in each song. In our most recent mix session, I was moved to create a sonic reflection of what happens in my brain.
A few years back my mom insisted that I read Norman Doidge, M.D.'s New York Times Bestseller "The Brain That Changes Itself".
Doidge says, "The brain can actually rewire itself, or restructure itself through thought."
When I first started to think about creating DELVE it was so terrifying. It was just a slight whisper that I shared with a couple of close friends, and wrote about in my journal.
Shortly after reading Doidge's brilliantly scientific wisdom on neuroplasticity, I started to notice a change in my life upon understanding how the brain actually works. "Neuro is for neurone the nerve cells in the brain and plasticity means plastic in the sense of changeable. And it's that property of the brain that allows it to change its structure and its function by basically three things. By responding to the world by perceiving the world, by acting in the world and by thinking and imagining. Even by those activities we can change the structure and function of our brains."
This quote leads me to share what happened a few nights ago in the mixing room.
As children, the method of surviving dysfunctional, scary, or unsafe situations is to either fight, fly away or freeze. These experiences are primal. They are universal. They are vulnerable. Our limbic brains still hold the way we perceived the world as young people. When unaware of how, as adults, we identify with the spinning limbic brain, then we loop and repeat patterns that don't serve us and get in the way of our individual and collective human potential. DELVE is an invitation to be curious about this circuitry, and how it has the capacity to change itself.
In the mix room, I recorded myself speaking all of the phrases that live in my limbic brain when activated. Phrases such as "I'm not enough. I don't have enough. I don't save enough. I'm not responsible enough. I'm not smart enough. I can't hold boundaries with my kids well enough. I'm failing." It is really rather intense when my brain gets into that funk, it is also the engine of my creativity and pursuit to heal.
Dave and I recorded four different tracks of me speaking what happens when I'm spinning, then we wove it all together in a cacophony of sound. This sonic montage will be the very first thing heard on DELVE just before the song "Trust Myself". It is so utterly vulnerable to share all of this, yet I know I'm not alone. My gut tells me these voices reflect a universal truth of what it is to be human.
By bringing this montage forward, there is a feeling of levity in my heart. Like a dark unpolished secret lifted, outed and exposed. When we speak truth out loud, even if it is painfully uncomfortable, there can be a release and a re-organization. I hope my music holds others in this release. Perhaps if we are collectively more connected and loving toward our limbic brains, then maybe, just maybe a ripple effect of light can permeate our global nervous system, one heart at a time in the midst of this deeply disturbing era.
The DELVE recording was completed at Fantasy Studios as of 7pm on September 30th, 2013. I thought we would need six days to record but our preparation required only two days!
On the one hand it feels like an epic milestone in my life, and on the other hand, the next day was filled with the minutiae of laundry, making breakfast and lunches, tag teaming with my husband to make the morning flow to get the kids to school on time, soccer practice, pick ups, little people coming over to play. Normal life as usual even with this thrilling creative project in process.
I've noticed that, as DELVE progresses into post-production, friends, family and colleagues are either thrilled, inspired, and supportive (which are most) or uncomfortable with my appetite for risk. I also notice that I am learning to stand in the middle and not take it on, either way, just let it flow. We all come from what we know and sometimes, when faced with others, two minds either line up or they don't. Both are ok.
Today I drew an image in my journal of a light orb surrounding my body so as not to absorb projections, negative or positive. As long as I remain wholeheartedly true to the intention of being in service, then I just continue onward, opening deeper, and trusting that my path is unfolding exactly as it will.
A few years ago, in the midst of being completely weathered from living inside the cave of mothering two small children while professionally lost at sea, I was given a book by my mother. It was Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, which helped my life begin to transform from tormented anguish. I re-read them a few times today to remind me of what sparked my attention then.
BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret...Have patience with yourself. Take action. Practice forgiveness. If you do your best always, transformation will happen as a matter of course.
My hardcopy journal is with me, almost always. I have written in a journal everyday since 1994, when I first moved to New York City and realized writing can be a lifeline to capture fascinating moments, experiences and thoughts that make up what was and is a life. Sometimes I write an obscene amount in a day, sometimes just a few words, but somehow the digital medium hasn't gripped me with quite the same obsession. Perhaps it's because I love the private, creative expression of hand meets pen on paper as a brain/soul repository. Also, I don't need the Internet to know THAT much, but just enough, which is why I restrain my expressions and save them for the ceiling high stacks of filled pages kept in my closet. The overwhelming vortex of unedited digital information in this age of TMI is interesting to ponder as it relates to how we edit our lives and share what we choose. That's not how real life works, at least not with intimate, honest relationships where we are fully seen in ALL of our beauty and all of our challenges, and everything in between.
Humans can project a point of view or an insight through digital life, which can be authentic for what it is, yet unable to encapsulate all dimensions and depths of nuance in that same moment. I say this because we see what we choose to see, we say and write what we choose to say and write, we edit ourselves. I once asked a very wise woman, "How are you doing?" She replied, with a weathered smile, "I am EVERYTHING." She was being completely edited and honest in one word. She was feeling the full spectrum of her life in that one word, which leads me to a recent experience.
During Yom Kippur this year there was a captivating contemplative service in which participants actually imagined the moment just before death. How did it feel? How relaxed were we able to be with the most natural of processes? One of the spiritual leaders in the service, Dr. Ibrahim Farajaje, invited us to consider the idea that because birthing women today are more connected with what is actually happening inside their bodies during pregnancy and birth, we are also able to bring the same awareness and connectedness to the experience of dying. While doing this exercise, I thought of that moment of being everything, being at one with all that is, being a part of something so much bigger than self yet knowing, that with personal struggles and blind spots I'm working hard to overcome, I'm really doing my very best to stay open to life.
While dying at home in bed, I smiled with the closest people in my life surrounding, some reading passages from my journals and some holding my body, as it passed into the unseen realms of existence. I hope to have this chance to live and love and grow and forgive myself, most importantly, so I can someday die just like that, in peace, whenever, however that may be.
It is thrilling to bring a group of dear friends and talented musicians together to learn and play songs that have come through my soul. It is also deeply vulnerable and uncomfortable to create something so new, so far away from my former comfort zone. We learned a lot about how to work together as we breathed life into each song and determined what is needed in our next DELVE rehearsal.
TOGETHER, WE ROCKED THE DELVE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN!
After reaching surpassing the goal to reach $15,150 this morning, I got up off of my chair that I've been sitting in 4-7 hours a day for 30 days focused on this campaign, every free moment which isn't much. I went for a walk to feel my body again, a tad atrophied.
I read once a long time ago that Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the first US suffragist organizers, wrote her books and studied to go to law school with 8 kids to tend during the day. That always inspired me. The wee hours of night have been my friend through this, along with ALL OF YOU! I could NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS have done this alone.
Thank you to everyone who offered their YES to this project, whether in money or intention or just a feeling that there is something bigger than all of us happening here in this amazing digital village.
I want to send a special shout out to David Hugh Rosenfeld, my dear friend and mentor turned collaborator. Our diligent work together, every week since Izzy called me out in 2010 saying, "I don't want music, YOU want music!", has been completely life-altering and healing. Dave and I will be co-producing DELVE and collaborating on this vision together, and in community with all of YOU who are a part of this radical step toward what is real, what sustains us, what is needed right now, among us all, inside us all, before us all.
With zero minutes left on the DELVE campaign deadline, I send this to you with an even deeper sense of awe and gratitude for ALL THAT LIFE IS, the challenges, the beauty, the pain and the joy.
Oh, and a side note about the enclosed painting, before signing off, the idea for this image came to me just before going to Costa Rica in 2010. I knew a massive transition was happening in my professional life, but I didn't know what was coming. Although it was terrifying, almost paralyzing in retrospect, I'm glad I kept showing up to that which was pulling me forward.
And, now, there is an album to be made!
LOVE and DELVE!
I did not know what I was getting myself into when the urge for a Kickstarter Campaign arose in me. If I had known how hard or triggering it was going to be, or how incredibly supported and exhilarated I would feel, and every other extreme on the spectrum of emotional experience, would I have still done it?
There are parallels to giving birth and raising children. Every grueling process shows us what we're made of - how creative and resilient we have the capacity to be if we dive in, wholeheartedly. Be it a bit blind to the reality of what is coming, we can handle more than we know. People on the outside have said to me, "How do you do it?" And every mother knows, you just do. We figure it out on the fly. We come up with strategies to handle all that we hold. We design systems to create as much flow as possible. We are doing our best to raise the next generation of citizens in a time of great change. And, this brings me to my song MOM ENOUGH, to be released on DELVE. It was inspired by the grotesquely inflammatory article in TIME Magazine last May 2012. Here's an excerpt:
"Invisible engine of the world is here