my Jam du Jour

I have to come clean about something – a secret that has poisoned my heart for years. I hope you’ll love me just the same, after you hear it…

Hello, my name is Kathryn, and I lie about having diverse musical tastes. Wait, wait, before you go, let me ‘splain! My tastes are diverse! They are. It’s just that, in execution, my listening tends to be … distilled? Let me put it this way: I’m a lot like my 3-year-old neice who has watched The Little Mermaid more times than there are days in her life. (Her movie-watching stamina is truly inspiring).

I have no problem listening to the same side of my Joni Mitchell LP six million times in a day, while I work in my office. I like to tell people it’s because I’m lazy, or so preoccupied by my Craft du Jour that I can’t be bothered… but see, that’s a lie. I just really really like to marinate in the music I love.

I hope you understand, I couldn’t live this lie anymore. I just had to come clean.

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Now that that’s Oust the Way, I have to say… OMG, I heart Ani DiFranco. Her lyrics fire up my Bohemian soul and punch me square in the gut, and still I beg for more. As a musician myself, I always admire when an artist bravely shakes up the uspoken Musical Mores that so many aren’t creative enough to take on. Her lyrics don’t have to rhyme, because Fuck Rhymes. Her delivery doesn’t have to be melodic, because sometimes it’s more powerful to emote. I love Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor, and Amanda Palmer for the same reasons. I’ve always felt it’s called “Playing Music” for a reason – and these Bitchin’ Broads rock that mantra Hardcore.

A few sleepless nights ago, I wormed my way through YouTube’s Ani discography, and found a song I hadn’t heard before. Isn’t it funny how sometimes after experiencing A Thing, you suddenly can’t understand how you’ve survived without it? That’s “Joyful Girl” for me. There’s something so compelling about the lyrics, how such a sweet song presented in a minor key spoke to my heart.

Ani diFranco – Joyful Girl

I have a Thinky brain – nothing in my life is ever simple. I’ve finally found ways to work with this, to work around the bad days this Brain o’ Mine can create… and I’ve come a long way, because now I remind myself of everything this song so eloquently puts…

and i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head
i know that there’s no grand plan here
this is just the way it goes
and when everything else seems unclear
i guess at least i know

i do it for the joy it brings…

Give it a listen. I hope you enjoy the Jam, that maybe it speaks to you, too. And after you give it a whirl, share your Heartsong in the comments for me, too. I would love to hear your current Soundtrack.

On the Importance of Taking Time for yourself

I can’t tell you how many times I stop myself from doing something because it won’t last. Putting on makeup seems like an exercise in futility, since I’m just going to scrub off the war paint in 8 hours anyway (and that’s only if I don’t accidentally forget there’s crap on my eyelashes and rub my eyes. Looking like a raccoon somehow ruins the effect). Dying my hair means that my grey roots will be that much more obvious against the lush Chestnut of my lies-in-a-box hair dye. And what about dishes?? There’s more…. there’s always more…

So when it comes to painting my nails, I’ve rarely let myself dabble. 21 years playing violin and viola means I keep my nails way-short. Days spent digging in the garden, or hand crafting and painting means that polish chips in a matter of hours. I don’t care how much you love me, no one needs to see my stubby, horrendously chipped manicure.

So I was surprised when, after years of abstinence, I discovered that I love painting my nails. What it boils down to is this:

Screw what anyone else thinks – I like to look at it (for the 23 hours that it lasts). And I’ve started getting pretty good at making designs and doodles with it, too.

But most of all, it’s really nice to give myself a mental break for a few hours. Creating a business out of what was once a hobby has been So Wonderful, but what are you supposed to do as an outlet when your job stresses you out?

Yeah, that one sucked for a while.

So. Since this is my blog and being serious all the time does awesome things to your psyche (but not really), I’m going to post pictures of my nail art from time to time.

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Call it artist’s perogative. Call it inane drivel. Call it what you like – I call it creating a record for posterity before the ravages of time erase my Nail Art Creations from everything but my memory.

(…I also call that a bit melodramatic).

In which I give my Inner Critic the Bird

My Inner Critic is really loud today. I started at least 750 great blog posts (at least), but each time I really got going my Critic would interrupt and say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Who do you think you are, anyway? You’re a nobody. A seven-time College Dropout (sadly, not an exaggeration). You don’t finish what you start – you CAN’T finish what you start.”

Well you know what, Inner Critic? You’re an asshole.

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People are so quick to celebrate this age of technological advances, of the new global economy, that they overlook how easy it is in this Age of unprecedented Global Connection to feel small, unimportant, or unempowered. We’re not trying to Keep Up With The Jones’s anymore – I’m trying to keep up with artisans in Portland, bloggers in Canada, and stand up to trolls in … who knows?

That can be really overwhelming, especially as a person who frequently externalizes my worth – it’s easy for me to value myself by what I do (or don’t do), by what other people say (or worse, what I think that they think). But what might happen if I stood up to my Inner Critic? What if I stopped asking permission to try? What if I dared to love myself so much, that the outcome of my leap of faith wouldn’t matter more than the fact that I tried?

So today I told my Inner Critic, “Fuck you, I know a lotta things”, and wrote a blog post. I’m also going to work on a new product before that Bitch can try to rain on my parade there, too. What can I say? I’m feeling sassy.

But I’m also going to pose this question to you, Dear Reader –

What can you do today to prove your critic wrong? How are you going to remind yourself that your voice is important, that the world – your world – needs to see the mark you make?

You get to choose which inkling to listen to. Will it be the Bully today? Or the one that reminds you that you matter, and that you are capable of more than you give yourself credit for?

Let’s give this Self Confidence thing a shot. 🙂

On battling Hopelessness, and a Happy Announcement!

Hey you! I’m so glad you’re here! What have you been up to lately? I hope things are going well – or that you are blessed with the strength to cope with what’s not.

I finally posted some of my projects on My Etsy! I’m so proud of myself. It’s taken roughly a year to get my act together- to listen to the Yoda-conscience angel sitting on my shoulder. He keeps reminding me that I should do or do not, that there is no try, but I’m a pretty thick headed mortal and keep acting like I know better. This approach has not worked well for me.

So! Etsy Listings! You’re not going to believe this, but last week I realized that the Number One Reason none my products have sold is that no one could buy them! Before you back away from me like I’m a crazy person (which may be true, but there’s really no need to get all rude about it!), allow me to explain:

I am a woman of many skills. I am smart, I am funny, I am musical, I am artistic… but I’d have to say my most finely-honed skill would have to be Getting In My Own Damn Way. If I were to compete in the Emotional Olympics, I would totally win at Not Winning Because You Didn’t Start Shit. There’s totally a medal for Not Winning. Try not to be jealous. You can try again in four years.

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I started this Crazy Entrpreneurial Adventure about a year ago. I made a few things. I even listed them, and bought business cards! And then I got a special brand of crazy-overwhelmed, and kept stopping. I stopped trying to let anyone know I had awesome stuff for sale. I made a few things and didn’t list them. And then I let all my listings lapse. But worst of all, I stopped believing I could make this happen.

Losing hope is a scary thing. The hopelessness itself is awful, don’t get me wrong, but I think the worst part (at least for me) is how easy it is to Slip Into. I used to believe that the horrible way it snowballed was some kind of unstoppable force, and I was along for the ride til it somehow decided to stop. But the past year has taught me something (even if that something wasn’t Winning At Selling Stuff Online)- Hoplessness is a muscle, a skill, just as much as doing the splits or saying no to that next scoop of ice cream because I value my stable blood sugar levels. Ahem. Muscle.

So, my years of practicing meditation came in handy, because I remembered that it’s far easier to work with something than it is to work against it. So instead of trying to practice Not Feeling Hopeless, I started to imagine that maybe I could also practice being Hopeful, or being Patient, or being Nice To Myself For A Change as well. And sure enough, it’s helped. I still sometimes feel hopeless, or convinced that I’m not good enough, or afraid of failure (and also success!)… but I’m also quicker to remind myself now that those feelings will pass. That I am much more than a sum of my broken parts. That just because I’m scared of what the future holds does NOT mean that the future is Scary. Change is harder if we hold on to things for dear life. I’ve been learning to relax and enjoy the ride.

I hope this was a helpful reminder to you, too Dear. Remember to relax a little – you might be pleasantly surprised by what you’re fighting so hard against.