award-winning documentarian: photography + radio + music
In two weeks I will be heading to The Esalen Institute to sing my songs inside the context of a workshop about ecology and ritual. There really couldn't be a more perfect place to develop Delve's presence in the world. Please do come if you can!
This will be our time to unplug from the busy modern world and, at the Pacific Ocean, in the midst of majestic Big Sur, we will remember our intrinsic humanness as a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Together, we will gather for those who lived before us, for those who have yet to be born, and for now, as one global beating collective heart, with the individual capacity to heal through connection.
While my music takes root, I have had a couple of people hire me to help them bring their visions to life which is why I started offering my services as a creative consultant. Also, my photography business has been moving forward as well. I see these threads of expression within the same creative rainbow ball. I see and I am seen. I hold and am held. I love the process of creating and sharing. I love writing, singing and producing. I also love to be quiet and curious about seeing others. This passion is met in my photography work, and in shepherding people through their creative process. These skills tap the aspect of my public radio work that I absolutely loved and have missed.
Speaking of radio, Della Duncan will be interviewing me this Saturday from 11am-noon on "Women Hold up Half the Sky" on KALX Berkeley 90.7FM through UC Berkeley. To be an interviewee is new skin. I'll sing Delve songs a cappella, along with new excerpts of song written for the Esalen workshop, as well as share my process of making Delve. It should be fun!
I give thanks for the force of life that lives in all of us. There were many days and years that felt professionally stuck and idle so I suppose I've been exposing my creative geyser as an invitation for you to feel yours, if you're not already. It lives just beneath the surface when ready to explore.
After two sessions of filming the Smitten video (the first song on my debut album Delve), we have two more locations and then go into post-production. The video will come out next month (assuming all goes well) to coincide with Spring, a time of change where buds bloom into a new possibility. This cycle of time in the year has always inspired me, as life bursts forth from soil.
Speaking of beauty and timing, Taly Serota and I kept on crossing paths at the corner where I pick up my daughter every day from school in the afternoon. Taly is a funky, elegant, interesting, open-hearted, vibrant person. When we would see each other, there was a knowing. Then, we "friended" on Facebook, then next time I saw her on the street she told me she was a stylist. Ah ha! An angel has come to help me think through my ideas of beauty, which has interestingly triggered anxiety and a general wretched discomfort with being objectified.
Good to have a place to process this. Writing does that for me although often it is held in the pages of my private journal. No, actually those are far more raw and unpolished. Here, I edit.
Taly was my stylist during the video shoot of Smitten which means she listened to my grappling and how it felt to wear this or that. Between shoots, she would run up to make sure the lines on my clothes were clean and clear. She would talk with me through color, lighting, fabrics and textures. Earlier that morning, I went to CVS and bought makeup for the first time since my last year of high school. Literally. I bought the powder, the coverup, the blemish stuff. Had the lipstick and mascara already. I like lipstick a lot actually. Mascara comes out only sometimes but I can get into Mascara, a little. Face paint was triggering. That said, after shooting my first video, Be Who You Are, I wanted the next video to be a bit, well, cleaner. For that shoot, I just threw on some clothes, went out to a beautiful forest with Julia, my videographer, sang the song a bunch of times, brought a change of clothes, earrings, scarves, went and did it without a lot of thought beyond that, and no-make-up.
I was avoiding the opportunity to treat the videos as carefully as I have treated the sonic, still visual, and written experiences of my work. Magnified onto a moving visual expression of something so intimate and from my soul is quite different than anything I've done before. In public radio, music, writing, and even in photography, the receiver of the piece is an active participant. They are able to imagine and interpret their own experience of the work at hand. With video, the artist imposes ideas of what the visuals will be, without as much room, I think, for engaged, experiential media. That said, this Smitten video is beginning to feel like a canvas for the visual and unseen emotional landscape of a song, and its beauty, projected out through the lens of my beauty. I tremble to write that. Feeling a melody about to burst!
I am beautiful, broken, flawed, and imperfect.
I am beautiful, awkward, off and clunky sometimes.
I am beautiful and a part of the light that shines on this living circle.
The Circle of life
One leaves as another comes in
Circle of life
Here we are today
Circle of life
No one really knows when our time will come
Circle of life
Rhythm beating beneath the chest tonight
You are beautiful, broken, flawed and imperfect
You are beautiful, awkward, off and clunky sometimes
You are beautiful and a part of the light that shines on this living circle
The Circle of life
One leaves as another comes in
Circle of life
Here we are today
Circle of life
No one really knows when our time will come
Circle of life
Rhythm beating beneath the chest tonight
Let us live to shine
Our gifts of and for humankind
A way to stay recycling the living line
I love it when the skeleton of a song just comes out like that, without effort. When in doubt, my sense of "trust in the process" gets restored in minutes like these. The words and melody (which will be shaped and honed more) are recorded and I will sing a version of this song with participants in a workshop about ecology and ritual at Esalen next month.)
Back to beauty, when I had my pre-production meeting with Julia Robertson, the filmmaker for Smitten, she asked me to describe the message I intend to communicate with this video. I told her: "Elegance, modesty, connection, depth, grace, power, confidence, and humility." Julia said, "Can you describe that in one word?" And I replied, "Feminine."
Something has been forever changed in me since sending Delve out into the world.
I am still integrating the change. There is a lot here. Delve is doing something that I cannot see, or hear. When I broadcast my public radio documentaries it was vulnerable, but this is something completely different. This is a piece of my heart and soul, my ideas and experiences, my fears and dreams and wishes held in 10 songs. It is deeply personal and yet the role of an artist is to create that which is both personal and universal, and then it must be released. It is no longer mine. It never actually was. The muse came through like an electric current and now it is being received how it will be received. Breathing into it all.
I hope Delve is as helpful to listeners as it has been for me.
To read the lyrics, you can click on the picture above.
Delve was officially born to the world on Thursday, February 13th 2014, just in time for the release party...
and the launch of Delve's first music video
Be Who You Are
Click on the album cover to order your copy
And, give the gift of Delve to anyone interested in moving toward personal growth and transformation.
When we begin to heal our pain and lead from the heart, I believe anything is possible.
I cannot help but contemplate the precious, precariousness of life this week. Two beloved people died in the span of 7 days, one in my extended community, the deeply loved Tamar Bittleman, and one of the greatest talents of all time, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Both young. Both sudden, tragic deaths in the same week.
Definitely a moment for pause.
I try my best to seek the gift in everything, as painful as the experiences might be. For the living, I find that death can be a purposeful reminder to dig deeper and truly live while here at all. We get to soak in the elements of right now. Oh this beautiful full breath into our lungs! What a fleeting, rhythmic gift of aliveness to be gone in an unknown flash.
Why not stretch beyond our comfort zone and live boldly and bravely into who we are becoming? With this overarching vision to do something that positively impacts the world, there is also the necessary art of balancing these big ideas with knowing our neighbors and the practice of daily life tasks: dishes, laundry, food shopping, cleaning, pick ups, and drop offs.
Why not act on what our soul is calling us to do inside the seemingly mundane rituals? Why not use our fear as fuel to take us through the fire, and into the magical light force awaiting us all? While we are here for this tiny little window, what radical acts of healing can we muster so that at the end of our lives, we can rest peacefully, knowing we did our very best to show up to life?
I have a magnet on my fridge that reads, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do then by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
When I first bought this magnet I was at the very beginning of hearing the very scary DELVE whisper inside my gut. What is your whisper? Do you have one waiting inside of you?
I've partially written 10 new songs for another album and just need a week retreat to focus on writing. The thought of such an experience sends tingles from head to toe. It will come in the right time. For now, I write in the windows that come. I look forward to delving into another exhilarating production process when the time is right. But for now, I am feeling very full and pregnant with, and ready to birth, DELVE.
DELVE songs and art are ready for duplication upload! DELVE will officially be released on February 13 via iTunes and Amazon. Thrilling!
I am IN LOVE with this process. I am so turned ON by creating, honing and shaping the vehicle for vision to move into form. It doesn't feel like I am doing it actually. There is a force propelling me forward - this momentum fascinates me. I also LOVE to help others shepherd their visions to life. In fact, I'm starting to make a side business out of it.
What drives us forward at particular times in life? What holds us back? Almost always, the culprit is FEAR. When I started to become curious about my fear, my sheer terror, the weight began to lift. I was able to listen to the faint whisper inside my gut, that, over time, became so loud that I had to respond accordingly. The negative messages we internalize as children are not necessarily the truth of what our souls long to express.
As a mom, I see the inherent creativity in my kids and in their friends. I also witness the ways in which children tend to lose those impulses around age 8. It is no longer cool to be original. So, adults, if we can mine for our own originality, our deepest truths, our truest, most authentic selves, then we model that for these little people navigating a crazy world. When we are brave, then they realize it is possible to be directed from the inside out, rather than be guided by the incredibly intense pull toward external candy as self.
It is painfully uncomfortable to dismantle the architecture of our learned identities. That said, when we dare to dig, it liberates us to become whole human beings again. I say "again" because we are all born whole. Dr. Lissa Rankin says it well in this TED Talk.
Happy New Year! 2014 is going to be a powerful one.
The final mix for the album is underway. We will be ready to get the album mastered in two weeks and once the mix is 100% set, then time for CD duplication. In parallel with mixing, I've been working closely with the very talented Philip Wood on the DELVE CD design.
This process has been cathartic and frightening, yet, overall, the ease of creative flow has been on my side. Time constraints, boundaries and goals, I find, allow for creativity to move forward, sort of like the imminence of giving birth. There is a power that takes over when we catalyze something so much bigger than us. A light bursts through the dark, guiding our way through the hidden forest within where everything is as it is.
That said, I had a moment when Izzy, my 8 year-old son, was listening to the sound montage leading into the song Trust Myself. I was curious to see his response and noticed he was shocked by it. Then, I felt nervous. "Do I want this out there? It is SO raw. Perhaps too raw." I asked him what he thought. "Mom, is that what happens inside of your head?" I responded, "Sometimes, yes, when I feel afraid, but then I write about my feelings or share them with the people I love, or make art or move them through yoga or dance." Izzy said, "When I feel afraid I just tell you or Daddy and then it goes away." "Yes, love, hard experiences happen to all of us and if they don't get talked about and moved then those feelings can get stuck inside of us, sometimes for our whole lives." He heard me although I don't think he completely understood. Then I thought to myself, "Do I keep it in? Do I edit? Shit! What if my great-grandchildren listen to this and think their great-grandma was insane?"
These voices are real, honest and taboo. These are not just my voices. They are voices that reflect a broken culture in the midst of transforming itself through us, the people who create it. And even if these particular words of "I'm not smart enough. I'm too much. I'm not enough. I'll never have enough money. I'm not responsible enough" are not everyone's words, we all have our own voices. They might be "I'm suffocating or I'm not lovable." They might be "I have to do everything myself or everything will fall apart or I'm alone and disconnected." Whatever the voices are, they can overtake us humans when we feel afraid or threatened. So, this montage is intended to normalize that which is taboo in the culture. "Don't show your weakness" and "Never let them see you sweat" are the marketing mantras I remember from childhood, not to mention the inheritance of the perfect 1950's narrative.
I find that we are living in times of transparency, authenticity and in search for meaning and true connection. Fascinating that these trends come at a time when technology and editing who we are and what we have to say gets projected out unlike any other time in human history.
So, with that, during my solo hike up in the Berkeley hills last week, I came upon this striking visual moment to welcome in 2014. It inspired me to write in my journal: "When we are open, new doors show up. When we are willing to be vulnerable and brave, we have the courage to step through these doors into the wide unknown. The ripple effect of this movement lasts for generations to come, but for now, it is written in a white funky font right here."
And, my wish for DELVE in 2014 is to generate seeds of connection, empathy, and healing so that we have the vision and courage to co-create a better place to live for us, our children, our grandchildren and many generations to come.
For all of us, may 2014 be filled with courageous acts of kindness, both for ourselves, for the people around us, and, hence, for our global village.
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.
MUSIC & MEDIA CREATOR/PRODUCER
MUSINGS ON LIFE AND MY CREATIVE PROCESS
SLIVERS OF MOMENTS