Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Soil and Soot

When we write poetry we're always aspiring to song, so says Elizabeth Alexander. And sometimes, I write some words that seem best as a poem, most pungent as they are, otherwise surrounded in silence and not forced to become anything they are not, simply to fit a melodic cadence or verse-chorus-verse- form. So here's my offering for today, a piece I've unearthed from a couple years ago. May it be of benefit to those who see it, speak it, hear it:


Singer. Song-Artist. Poet.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Meet Your Muse Retreat :: A Tribute To My Creative Coach

After being on the road for a month, it’s been challenging for me to get back into a “regular” rhythm (whatever that is). So I’ve gotten behind on my 2012 retrospectives; but the happenings of this past weekend coincide with giving tribute to one of my teachers of yesteryear as well.

I was on retreat in the wilderness, at the end of the Gunflint Trail in the northern part of Minnesota where the waters that boundary the U.S. and Canada are currently frozen so well that we drove to the island where Jason dropped me off to stay with a handful of other creative types to meet our muse and give space to listen inwardly to our own artist souls. We were out of cell range and beyond wi-fi as well.

My soul friend Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux, who is also a brilliant writer, professional storyteller and creative midwife, curated the experience with grace and humor. She guided us through a series of writing exercises and facilitated conversation that was heart-opening and freeing. I also brought away with me a couple tools that I trust will be great for the brainstorming part of my song-writing process.

One of my favorite activities was writing down the things our inner Critic says to us when we’re trying to create or live life well. I’m sure none of you relate to this, but my inner Critic says things to me like: “You’re selfish and greedy.”

I wrote that down in one talk bubble and then wrote in another bubble my response. “Well, yes, sometimes I am, but my true intent is to be of benefit and blessing to others as I am at my best.”

During a concert, when I’m performing, my Critic might say something to me like: “Look at that person’s face. They don’t seem too into the music, do they? You probably offended them with how you introduced that song.”

And my response: “Probably not, but even if they took offense, I wish them and theirs all the best. I can still be me and sing my song.”

This was such a funny exercise and reassuring to hear from other artists some similar dark thoughts. There are a few other humorous ones and perhaps another time I lay bare to you my hidden fears and psychological conundrums, but for now, that couch isn’t really where I want to recline, at least with all of you in the room. ;-)

Last year, Rose and I worked together on songwriting from a narrative perspective. We had three coaching sessions via skype during which she shared with me her insights as author and storyteller/performer. She gave me feedback, including generous compliments, on some lyrics I was working on and she allowed me to set my own goals in this regard.

I have been struggling for a while to really get back into the lifestyle of songwriting. I’ve needed to set some parameters in my life to reignite my songwriter sensibilities and refocus my songwriter lens on the world, life and experiences. Sessions with her were such a support to that effort.

It was activating simply to have time scheduled with Rose since I wanted to have something new to share with her and take the opportunity to glean from the advantage of her perspective. Her helpful feedback was empowering, stimulated new ideas and inspired me to continue to call out, first, my all and then, my best through my work.

I think a coach is especially remarkable when she can help you realize the insights and wisdom you have within yourself, when she can guide you to uncover your own inner wisdom and that’s the sort of teacher Rose is. I’m grateful for the chance to work with this woman who’s heart is big and who’s work I admire.

And you might have noticed that you can be expecting more new songwriting from yours truly as we journey on in 2013. Smiles.

With a Grateful Heart,

One Intent. Two Events.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Heatherlyn in Concert :: The Historic Mabel Tainter Theater

Heatherlyn in Concert at The Historic Mabel Tainter Theater
Menomonie, WI :: March 7th at 7:30pm
We believe music is awakening and enlivening.
Music, as with all the arts, can expand our sense of wonder and possibility 
for making our world a better and even more beautiful place. 
We are passionate about partnering with communities 
through our music to co-create an inspired experience and meaningful connection.

We thrilled to team up with The Mabel who clearly cares about the same things we do:

"The Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts...strives to strengthen and connect our community by engaging people in the arts."

Heatherlyn and her rhythm section will play a variety of her songs, old and new.
The honor of your presence is significant to this movement of building community through the arts
and we are so grateful to be in this together.

If you'd like to scope out Menomonie in a more informal setting or just come hang out with us,
we're taking the chance to connect into the community at The Raw Deal and host an Open Mic with them on Fri, Feb 15th, 6-9pm.

Mabel Tainter Concert [Thurs. March 7th] Tickets available now -->

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Tribute to My Yoga Teacher :: 2012 Retrospective Vignettes.


After I began studying piano again this past year, my love for the instrument was renewed and I enthusiastically grew in my practice. But I had an unusual amount of physical pain, pain that I intuitively sensed was deeper than physical pain and more than my muscles simply adjusting to the new practice regimen.

The body hurting as it was, was a manifestation of painful memories attached to this instrument. They were surfacing -- ready to be healed and released. I wondered what my next step would be.

One morning, direction came unexpectedly through an On Being podcast which suddenly and accidentally began playing on my laptop. Krista Tippet was interviewing a yoga instructor and I was drawn in by her story and her work with women who have been traumatized. She said something about how the effectiveness of yoga is in it's invitation to breath into the places that carry tension and to *move*through painful emotions and memories. There was such resonance for me in what she shared that I knew it was my time to begin my own yoga practice, as I had suspected I would at some point in my life.

I had been acquainted with Shelley for some time and had been aware of her launching and curate-ing the Yoga Sanctuary in Minneapolis. It finally clicked for me. I knew I had to check out what's happening there and I've been practicing ever since.

I'm so grateful for my caring community at the Sanctuary and I'm grateful for the expressions of yogi thought that Shelley has shared with us: reminders of compassion, non-judgment and vital breath, for example. She emanates these principles in her presence and guiding reflections. I'm grateful for the affirmation of these values within my whole being and their cultivation in practice. Compassion and non-judgment are so what my healing journey requires. The intentional breathe and movement ease, soothe and strengthen my body; releasing strain and stress as the simultaneous mental focus helps me to release the mental, psychological and spiritual pain as well - opening my heart to wholeness.

Shelley has invited me to consider putting together some music for yoga and eventually play LIVE during a class at the Sanctuary. She's planted a seed and inspired me with some of the poetry she's read at the end of our sessions together. I'm excited about the possibilities! As I continue to grow in my own yoga practice, I have begun to write songs for prayer and meditation and I'm so looking forward to sharing those songs with you all in the coming year!

With gratitude for a gracious teacher with an open heart and for the whole community as we care for and teach each other...




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Memphis Pilgrimage :: The Lorraine Motel + St. Mary's Cathedral


Many of you know Put On Your Climbing Shoes [PLAY SONG] was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King's Mountaintop speech which he delivered in Memphis the day before he was assassinated. Our last day in town, we visited The Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel where that tragedy occured on April 4, 1968. Upon entering, we began by following a timeline with a summary of events along the age-old struggle for freedom, human dignity and equality, beginning with the 1600s, slavery, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation...

In 1968, Dr. King was in Memphis to demonstrate with and stand in solidary with sanitation workers (garbage truck workers, who were all black at the time and were paid so poorly that they could faithfully work hard all month and still qualify for welfare assistance) and their noble, non-violent demand to simply be treated with dignity and decency as men. Their simple assertion: "I AM A MAN." 

We peered into room 306, where Dr. King stayed. We stood where he was simply leaning over the balcony (about where the wreath is hung above) talking with friends, when a sniper shot him from the building across the way. We watched a film called The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306, which is from the perspective of his friend and compatriate Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kiles. In the film, Kiles describes what it was like to spend King's last hour with him and to be there in the moment of the shooting.

We learned from Kiles that the Mountaintop speech almost didn't happen. The night was stormy and Dr. King wasn't even going to go to the temple for the rally. But when Abernathy and Kiles entered and the packed crowd cheered, they knew the people were expecting King. They called him over and admist the banging of shudders from the great gusty winds, he delivered his impassioned, assuring call toward the "promised land" together. He talked quite a lot about death that night. Though he said "I *may* not get there with you...", he seemed to have a deep knowing that his time was nearing. So many death threats had been coming against him that he began to ask his friends to stop telling him about them.

I shook the shivers out as we stood in the room and nearly the spot where the sniper is suspected to have taken the shot. The weirdest part is that the evidence seems to show that the motivation was money - nothing more than cold, hard cash - not a personal desire to silence this powerful prophet who inspired masses to stand tall and move; not an interest in subverting the movement toward human dignity and economic equality; just personal gain for bounty in the pockets. To live out of such a cold and lonely isolation sounds like such a wretched existance to me. Lord, have mercy.

We also spent time in this gorgeous space with quite a story of it's own. It's incredible to hear how a grave and tragic death animated and stirred new life, fervent action, even change:


It was pretty cool to have the chance to share Put On Your Climbing Shoes here with a few hundred folks who all, in some way or another, care about the connection and intersection of peoples, who are interested in being a part of the movements of reconciliation, restoration, justice, mercy and humility. 

The dream Dr. King articulated so well continues on and is surely fully alive. Yes, we celebrate the measures taken, the battles fought and won, but wow, it's evident to me even in the very city of Memphis, that there is much work to be done to bring us together, to truly live as One, to see decency as commonplace as dust in everyday life; for us all - in our words, choices and relationships - to co-create that space where each and every child of God has all they need - in nourishment and education and environment - to not only survive, but thrive and blossom and shine their light brightly for the benefit and blessings of all of us, for all the world.

 "When stormy clouds are covering the summit view, remember how rainbows come in bloom: storm clounds, showers, thunder and drenching rain collide with sunshine rays of light to ribbons of colorful *change*. Put on your climbing shoes...take me with you to the mountaintop. Keep on climbing. We'll never stop...."



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Even Road Warriors Get Weary


We've been on the road since Decemeber 20th and a twindge of homesickness came over me just as we began this last leg of the trip. After culminating two beautifully rich and full weeks in the region of my origin, giving emotional farewells and then after sleeping (sort of) in our little vehicle and driving who-knows-how-many hours toward our next destination south, I began to feel weary.

I miss my cats and my kitchen and our bed. Everywhere we've stayed so far with wonderfully hospitable family and friends who've had sweet, adorable pets, either fluffy cats or friendly-giant-type dogs and comfy places for us to sleep. One of my favorite parts of this trip was having the chance to cook delicious and nourishing meals for and with my mom who wants to find more tasty ways to eat healthy. Everywhere we go, I always bring my favorite spices for those chances I get to cook our favorite meals and so I can add cinnamon to my coffee in the morning for that sip of home. My laptop desktop has an image of Sammy, my cat at home who sits at my desk with me every morning to write morning pages.


We've slept in our vehicle a coupletimes (even though we don't have the van with the futon this trip) because sometimes it's too much of a hassle and too time-consuming to check into a hotel when you're making a 20+ hour drive. Occassionally, I can get comfortable and sleep plenty, but two night's ago, I think I slept maybe 3 hours. So last night, we stayed in a hotel to get a good night's sleep, workout and wash up. This was very good choice and I'm grateful we had the option.

For meals, it's a combination of Larabars, baby carrots, banans, nuts and so on; occassionally oatmeal from Starbucks and last night I was able to put a huge Subway veggie salad in a good sprouted whole grain Ezekiel wrap along with some Whole Foods hummus - something you can do when you take the salad to go and eat it in your vehicle. A decent meal for one on the road and I felt super grateful.

We're looking forward to our time in Memphis. I'll be sharing music at a conference that I trust will be full of people who care about meaningful community building and the movement of Love in our world. They think about things like the intersection of art, spiritual life and genuine human connection in the midst of our fractured culture and other things that are also important to me and to our work. I'm excited to connectwith people from around to country who'll resonate with the heartbeat of the music and perhaps we'll meet up with potential partners in co-creating meaningful connection and together share the enlivening gift of music.

We're also planning to visit The Civil Rights Museum and with Dr. King as a key influencer in my writing, I couldn't be more thrilled to do this. I plan to go with eyes, mind and heart wide open, ready to write more songs inspired by the story of this great struggle for equality and peace.


I do feel tired this morning as I type at a hotel desk, but I intend to continue on well for these few more days on the road I'll breath a little deeper and express gratitude for all the goodness I can possibly see. Yes, I'll drink coffee but I'll also get in some exercise and personal space to write so I'm not wasting energy on the clutter in my head. I'll look forward to stimulating conversation and new connections. And when we do finally get home, I'll be just as grateful as we begin to further engage and fulfill visions for an abundant 2013!

Thank you for sharing in this road of both bliss and sweat, a little weariness and a lots of wonder! Bests to you and yours this day.