Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the last blog of 2014 - because I said so!

It’s no secret that in addition to recording an album, I am also writing a book. No, it’s not another memoir. (And why am I suddenly picturing George Stephanopoulos exclaiming, “Thank God!” right about now?)

No, this book is a self help one. And I’d like to share a thought from it that I have about helping yourself become or achieve anything you say you want. It is not about acquiring or obtaining anything. It is about what you are willing to let go of.

So as 2014 gasps its last breath, what are you willing to let go of in 2015 in order to be and do and have what you want in your life?

In the spirit of thinking and committing out loud here, I am putting forth some of what I am willing to let go of…

I am willing to let go of limiting beliefs and old stories about why things can’t work out.
I am willing to let go of the person I was in order to be the person I’d like to be.
I am willing to let go of the phrase “I can’t.”
I am willing to let go of stagnant thinking.
I am willing to let go of the way I’ve always done things.
I am willing to let go of how I’ve seen myself until now.
I am willing to let go of anything that doesn’t serve my best interests or highest good.

The things I would like to keep include my sense of humor, idealism, and my cookie recipe. See, right there – priorities.

I am optimistic for the New Year ahead. We have the chance every day to make a new start, create a happier and more beautiful world simply because we decide to.

When we were little tots, our mothers, no doubt gave us a very concrete reason for things, that, in youth, we took at face value and accepted – “because I said so.”

That was all we needed to know. But somehow, when we grew up, we questioned and challenged and defied any explanation as simple and straight forward as “because I said so.” And we surely never learned that that was a viable reason with regard to our own choices.

I’d like to offer the thought that there is no external seal of approval, blessing, or permission you need to do what you want to do in life. That you want it is good enough – because you said so.

We get to have the kind of world we want when we say so.
We get to experience love and gratitude, forgiveness and redemption when we say so.
We get to know peace and joy and abundance when we say so, and not a moment sooner.

There is enough, and we are enough. And it is time to say so.

So here’s to a 2015 that’s filled with bold choices, bright ideas, the coming to fruition of the inherent greatness we all possess.

Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

...what kind of year has it been?

As the last remnants of the past year fade away, I always get a bit reflective, if not melancholy.

We like to measure things in our society by quantifiable results. Number of widgets sold, dollars made, things bought, places traveled. We want to be able to say that we’ve amounted to something we hadn’t before. And that’s commendable. I like being able to say that, too.

But what about the ways we’ve grown inside, the depth of how we love, the new foundations we’ve laid where the old have crumbled? What about the times we persevered when we were sure we couldn’t and the people we’ve become in the wake of that?

Growth is often messy, but I, for one, wouldn’t change that. I wouldn’t want to finish running a marathon and look like I never broke a sweat. I want to wear the journey with grace, but I want to wear the journey. I like knowing that the person who is sitting down writing this is not the same person who was writing a year ago. And I hope to God to be able to say the same thing next year.

I feel, in many ways, like 2014 has been a roller coaster, and what I’ve learned on the ride is that both the highs and lows are tenuous and temporary.

I’ve taken the risk of honesty, of baring my soul on more than one occasion this year, both in my life and in my writing. And I have found that no matter what the results looked like on the outside, it was a good and soul-affirming thing to be willing to be seen and known for who I truly am and how I truly feel.

Of course, of all the accomplishments I can think of for 2014, at the top of my list is recording the album In Color, which will be completed in 2015.

The journey that is and has been the making of this album has been one of the hugest opportunities for personal, professional, and spiritual growth I’ve ever experienced.

The updates I post are only one small part of the story. There are stories behind the story, which, believe me, are highly entertaining. (One involves eight people, a pot of meatballs, two iPhones, and a very creative producer. See? You’re entertained already.)

There’s something inherently beautiful about the old giving way to the new, even as we resist the whole notion of it. It’s the natural order of things. And if we could but embrace it, maybe it wouldn’t seem like such a huge monster lurking.

Maybe tomorrow is destined to be better than today. Maybe our best moments of all are still in front of us. Maybe we haven’t even begun to fathom the level of joy or love or peace or exhilaration we will experience. Maybe our greatest masterpieces have yet to be created.

I know that I am willing to let go of anything that keeps me from embracing what I was meant to do and be and have at my fullest potential. I also know that that isn’t for the faint of heart, because it means I have to be willing to do things differently, see things differently and show up differently in the world.

I am willing to entertain new thoughts, bolder dreams, a bigger set of goals, and a greater vision of what’s possible. Aren’t you? Isn’t it time? Don’t we all deserve a world that’s looks more like that?

I am so grateful for the moments I’ve shared with each and every person over the past year. I am so grateful that life brought me to you and you to me.

Whatever your greatest desire, I wish it for you tenfold.

Whatever your health, I wish you restoration, healing, and vibrancy.

Whatever your dreams, I wish you something greater than you can even imagine for yourself.

Whatever your mistakes or regrets, I wish you lessons learned, forgiveness, and the knowledge that you are wiser than you were before.

Whatever our journeys may be or wherever they may take us, together or apart, I hold as my intention for 2015 one of love, compassion, kindness, peace, fulfillment, abundance, and joy that surpass our greatest expectations.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Peace & blessings to you in the New Year!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

...a season of miracles

The holiday season is in full swing and most of us are getting wrapped up in the frenzy of it all. Me, I decided that this year I would not be frenzied, but rather present and appreciative of every moment. I also decided that I would take time to stop and enjoy all the goofy, sappy wonderful things that bring me joy this time of year.

So my car has been a non-stop music fest of every Christmas CD I own. And last night, I did something I haven’t done in years – I rode around for a little while with my friend Dora Jean and looked at all the Christmas lights on people’s houses.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah, this is considered a season of miracles. But if you ask me, we don’t have a shortage of miracles no matter what the season.

There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that I love -

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I am, not surprisingly, the latter. I believe every day is a gift and each breath, a miracle. And the older I get, the more that becomes true for me.

As I was looking through my address book writing Christmas cards, I saw an inordinate number of names of people in it who are no longer alive. It wasn’t one or two. I suppose that this is a natural occurrence with the passage of time, but still, it was shocking to me and got me thinking about what is truly enduring and miraculous.

We live largely in a world of distractions. We make assumptions about tone and text and email. We create fiction in the silences between each other’s replies, and don’t hesitate to offer righteous indignation over the slightest of offenses.

None of this brings us peace or joy or an expansion of love in our lives. But these are the things of the times in which we live. So to alter that lifestyle, it would take a conscious decision on our part.

This season, I am making a concerted effort to really talk to the people in my life, to lose the superficial, which I’ve never been any good at, anyway, and to look people in the eye, to listen with my heart, to love beyond the petty hurts and grievances, and to savor the moments of beauty and candor and connection.

We are given a short time here. And I guarantee that no one will remember the outfit we wore (with the possible exception of Lady Gaga’s meat dress), but we all remember how we felt in any given moment. Moments and feelings are the indelible things we take with us on our journey through life.

On the good moments and feelings, we reflect longingly, and on the bad ones, we either take the lessons offered and let it go or carry it with us, retelling it and reliving it until we learn that it doesn’t serve us anymore.

A miracle is defined as an event that is inexplicable by natural or scientific laws. So I think that makes love a miracle. And those who choose to practice it, miracle workers.

We have the chance every single day to be someone’s miracle. We have the opportunity to be kind for no reason, to love without justification, to help in the slightest way when the world would say that’s crazy, or worse – stupid.

Love is a miracle in these times. There’s no logic to it or for it, and it doesn’t seem to be the natural or scientific order of things. And yet, we are called to it, drawn to it, long for it, live and breathe for it. We are here to do and be one thing – the inexplicable, the miraculous – love.

So in this season of miracles, let’s know that we are the living embodiment of the greatest miracle of all - love. Let’s walk like it and talk like it and live like we know that.

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace, Blessings, & Love to you all,


Friday, November 28, 2014

a birthday blog for my friend, BethAnne!

Every so often, when some unsuspecting friend has a birthday, I decide I’m going to blog about them and their awesomeness. Today is my friend BethAnne Clayton’s turn. So first off, Happy Birthday, Beth!!!!

Beth and I met our first few days in Nashville, 1996, through our mutual friend Robin. We moved there the same week, and I don’t know how many people Beth knew when she moved there, but I knew only one – Robin.

That Beth and I would become friends seems inevitable, as I think about it now. We were born three months apart, grew up in the same area of the country, love all the same music and artists, not to mention foods. We both play keyboard and I think even had the same keyboard at one point.

I could go on about how we enjoy a good shopping bargain and how she started me on my Partylite candle obsession. Oooh, and then there was that Tupperware party. I laugh every time I see our same cookie containers these many years later.

The quirky fun stuff wasn’t all we shared in common, though. We each had a parent who had Lupus and lost their battle with it, so there is an unspoken understanding of that particular kind of suffering and loss.

Friendship is an interesting commodity that people define in many different ways. I myself have only one criterion, basically, that defines someone as a close friend of mine or not – can you be counted on. If I called you at three in the morning and needed you, would you be there, regardless of what it was for? I think of all the qualities I love most about BethAnne, this is the thing I know about her and love the most. Well, that and her meatloaf. Seriously. It’s the best damn thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.

And I’ve gotten this far in the blog without even getting to her musical genius. I don’t even know where to begin about that. When I met her, she only played keyboard. And when I say “only” played keyboard, I mean you could name any song ever written and she could sit down and play and sing it as if it had been well rehearsed. One day she picked up an accordion and just started playing it. Then it was guitar. I think she had one lesson and started playing gigs – on guitar. Need any kind of harmony sung or arranged? Beth can do it – on the spot – perfectly. And her voice? Gorgeous. I am convinced she could sing a lead vocal while eating a taco and it would still sound better than any other singer’s best efforts without the taco. (I have no idea why I threw the taco thing in there, but now that I mention it, I could really go for Mexican.)

Oooh, while I’m singing her praises, go buy her Christmas album! It’s one of my all time favorites. (Beth's music)

I could go on and on, but the point it this – I am blessed to have BethAnne as a friend, and if this blog could make her feel even half as special as her friendship has made me feel over the years, then I’ve done my job.

Beth, I hope your day is a non-stop joy-fest of love and happiness.

Happy, Happy Birthday!!!


Beth and Me on my birthday this year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a Thanksgiving blog, 2014

I know, I’m getting a jumpstart on the holiday, but is it ever too early to be thankful, really?

With each passing year, I become more keenly aware that we aren’t promised even the next five minutes, let alone days or years, so I try not to let an opportunity go by where I don’t savor the present moment and make sure the people around me know that they are loved.

There’s a lot to be thankful for – always. So if you’re reading this, please know that I am thankful for you, whether it’s the first time you’re dropping by to see what my blog is all about or you’ve been a faithful follower from the get go.

Time seems to be going faster and faster, maybe because the world is getting smaller and we’re inundated with news images 24/7. Because of that, we know what’s going on everywhere, but just this once, I’m gonna ask you to join me in stopping for a moment to check in with what is going on inside your own heart.

There can be no peace in the world that doesn’t first begin in a single human heart, so as we watch the unrest in our country with great despair, let’s take a moment to contribute something resembling peace, instead.

Whatever relationships we would want to have healed in some way, let’s be the healing force for them ourselves. Pick up the phone, extend the olive branch, take the first step. I’m all for prayer, but turmoil, unrest, and discord are manmade. And whatever is going on in our individual lives is reflected out in the world around us. So let’s take a moment before turkey and football to find the place where peace and gratitude reside within us and let’s begin inhabiting that with regularity so that it might be reflected out in the world.

As has been my tradition for several years now, I like to make a list of what I’m thankful for, a random stream of consciousness, if you will, encompassing whatever pops into my little head at the moment. So here goes this year’s list in no particular order.

I am thankful for –

Every moment spent with people I love.

Good friends, good wine, and good food (preferably enjoyed together).

Pro Tools – it had to be said.

Sappy Christmas movies.

Good health.

Did I mention friends? Seriously, I have the BEST friends.

Music – and the ability to make it and share it.

Dreams that have come true.


Apple products.

Tanya – because she’s texting me as I type this, so she’s getting her very own shout out. Plus, I’m thankful for her.

Whoever invented luggage with wheels. Bravo.

The Broadway musical.

Jeans with lycra/spandex. This cannot be overstated.

Shiny things – lip gloss, diamonds, Christmas lights – whatever makes life prettier.

Kale. Totally joking.


Moments that take my breath away.

My niece Samantha.

Yesterdays remembered, today cherished, and the promise of tomorrows.

I am thankful for every moment lived and every person who has ever crossed paths with me.

What are you thankful for? I so appreciate you stopping by. Please tell your friends and have a beautiful, blessed Thanksgiving!



Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Meet the Players" #3 - Bass and Drums

When I started out to create this album, I didn’t know who all the participants would be. I only knew some. The thing I did know, however, was that I wanted more than just talent. I wanted people with heart playing on it, who would actually care about the project.

That sounds like kind of a naïve intention for someone who has been in the music business for a lot of years and done countless studio sessions. But it was because I have done countless sessions that I knew the difference.

When it came time to start selecting musicians, Tanya, my producer, started throwing out names. Really, from the get go, she only said one bass player and that I would love him. She called him, in fact, right then and there. And he said he knew the perfect drummer for us, too. Awesome.

Do I trust this and just go with it? What if I don’t like it? I don’t have funds for redo’s of anything.  I decided to trust the part of me that knew this was a good idea.

Both the bass player and drummer are Nashville based. So we would be sending music files and they’d be sending files back.

When we got the first group of songs back and sat down to listen I was nervous. Not because they didn’t have ridiculous resumes, which I’ll get to in a minute, but because this was the moment this project went from being just Ilene and her piano to “the band” and “the record.”

They weren’t just great. They were absurdly great. I did my happy dance around the room and let out at least one audible squeal of delight, accompanied by, “It’s a record! It’s a record!” possibly a few dozen times.

So I am thrilled to introduce you to Mark Prentice on bass and Matt Bubel on drums.

Mark Prentice is a Grammy winning musician, producer, and songwriter, who has worked with Michael McDonald, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, and a huge, long list of others. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few months ago when he was in town touring with Felix Cavaliere. And he’s as nice and funny as he is ridiculously talented.

Matt Bubel is an amazing drummer who has worked with Darius Rucker, Kenny Rogers, and Ben E. King, to name a few. He has the distinction of being the only person on this record whom I’ve yet to meet face to face. I could try and make stuff up about him, but really, all you need to know is that he is amazing.

So that concludes this installment of “Meet the Players.”

I am getting more and more excited as this project progresses toward conclusion, as I hope you are, too.

Since we are coming upon the Thanksgiving holiday, it seems like an excellent time to say, “thank you,” again. This project would not be coming to fruition without your support in every way, shape, and form.

Thank you so much!!!

Peace & Blessings (and hugs and kisses) to you!


Friday, November 14, 2014

a moment's candor

I suppose it could be argued that each time I blog or write a project update is a moment’s candor on my part. But this feels somehow different, so I’m going to just go with it.

I recorded my next to last lead vocal this week, and it was probably the most profound of the experiences I’ve had singing for this record so far. The beauty of it was that it was completely unexpected.

This thing artists and writers do, when I stop and think about it for a moment, seems part magic and part madness. To create something out of thin air is one thing, but to allow something to emerge through you is another. It requires complete surrender, getting out of the way, dropping the baggage.

What we do is about emotion laid bare. Let me tell you about my deepest heartache, greatest joy, biggest fear, wildest dreams. Let me be exposed and vulnerable, showing you my weakness, while at the same time exhibiting an extraordinary amount of strength and bravery by doing so.

When left to our own devices and highest calling, this is what my fellow singer/songwriters and I do. We share the human experience and give it meaning in the way that only each one of us can. And it is a privilege to get to do so. Sometimes we forget that.

So I got to the studio on Monday, thinking I would be singing “No End to Love” just like I had been doing since I wrote it with my Nashville co-writer, Fred a number of years ago – straight forward and big.

This is the song on the record that’s been in existence the longest, the one I never recorded myself, one that had been on hold for at least half a dozen artists, including Faith Hill, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. (None of whom cut it, by the way – which is why I’m sure a lot of writers take up drinking, but not me. I prefer to bury my disappointments in sarcasm, peppered with a dash of irony. Also, ice cream. Ice cream works well for me.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, so as we were listening down to the track, I was singing along softly to it. Tanya (my producer, for those of you just joining these festivities now) realized that something special was happening. She ran and moved the mic and everything else over to where I was sitting, and I recorded the vocal right then and there. Quietly. Intimately. In the moment. As the private conversation you will all be privy to when the record is done and out. 

Lyrics take on different meaning at different moments in our lives. If we’re lucky, that meaning deepens with the passage of time, like it did for me in this instance.

And I suppose that, just as surrender is necessary to allow for something bigger to emerge through us, surrender is also necessary to allow for it to travel where it is intended to go.

As this project continues on its path toward conclusion, I am in constant gratitude for the experience, for the chance to share that experience in all its different facets with you as it progresses, and for the immense joy it is to do what I love doing most.

Thanks for stopping by and for hanging in there with me. Please tell your friends. 

Peace & Blessings (and hugs and kisses),


Friday, November 7, 2014

Project Update - Meet the Players Volume 2 - Tanya Leah, Producer

Tanya Leah and Me

Sometimes it’s the thing said with candor that changes the course of our lives. And sometimes, a friend is just the person to say it.

To be honest with you, I had a burning desire to make this record, but I had no idea how I could – financially, logistically, and in every other which way. But life has a funny way of presenting us with pivotal moments. And those pivotal moments, from which all accomplishment emanates, are the moments when we decide.

I know, you’re wondering what this has to do with introducing you to the multi-hat-wearing Tanya Leah. So I’m going to reveal the private, candid conversation that clinched the creation of this album.

It went something like this:

Tanya to Ilene:      Do you really want to be on your deathbed looking back at your life saying, “I should have made that fucking record?”

Ilene to Tanya:      No.

And there it is in a nutshell. The decision was made. And once a decision is made, there’s no turning back or stopping until it’s completed…no matter what…even if.

So now it is my pleasure to introduce you to the ridiculously multi-talented, Tanya Leah – my producer, arranger, co-writer, guitar player, harmonica (yes, harmonica player, though that one was largely born out of necessity), and also, the “please can you shoot my crowd funding video and help me get it up there” person, as well as my “hey, I’m having a semi good hair day, can you stand on a chair and take a picture of me for these updates” person!!! There’s really nothing she hasn’t done to help make this dream of mine a reality. So it’s nice to have the opportunity to acknowledge that publicly here. (I also make it a practice to tell her she’s a genius at least once a day, though the way I text, it often comes out fenius. But it’s the thought that counts.)

I think it was halfway through the making of her own CD, Roses for Panjo - Somewhere Beautiful, that I first approached her about producing my record. I was listening to what she was doing with her own, and all I could describe it as was achingly beautiful. The production was sparse enough to let her voice shine and the songs’ emotional impact be the prevailing thing about the record. I wanted those same qualities for my own project, and so I asked.

It’s a weird thing asking your friend to produce you, I have to admit. Things could go sideways a million different times and ways, which is why Tanya and I sat down from the get-go and talked about the vision for the record, the songs, the players, and what was most important. I set an intention about what I wanted the experience to be like. Loving, joy-filled, celebratory, and heart-centered. Can you really decide that stuff ahead of time? Well, it turns out you can, but you have to be willing to trust and let go.

So here we are, inching close to the finish line, and I couldn’t be happier to share the experience with Tanya.

Tanya’s songs have been heard on the TV shows How I Met Your Mother, The Hills, and Dawson’s Creek. Her voice has been heard as a jingle singer for Coca-Cola, M&M’s, and Downy. And her songs (including four #1’s) have been recorded by Wynonna, Melinda Doolittle, Leslie Gore, Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker and many more.

We’ve collaborated on two songs for this project, though we’ve written many, many more together.

I cannot wait for you to hear the fruits of our labor. And as always, I thank you for supporting it and me from the bottom of my heart.

Peace & Blessings (and hugs and kisses),


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Project Update - Meet the Players Volume 1 (Me!)

It has been quite a while since I did the crowd funding portion of this CD project. So I decided to scroll through all the names of the donors to remind myself of the people who said, “Yes!” and, “We have your back on this, Ilene.”

I found it overwhelming to see the combination of both people I knew well alongside the names of complete strangers. I wondered what spoke to you about this project that prompted you to participate and what your own dreams are for your lives, because I believe they are all interconnected.

So to help bring you on this musical journey with me of creating something wholly positive that reminds us to boldly follow our hearts and passion, and to, above all, be grateful for the ride, I thought I’d start introducing you to all of the amazing players and singers and co-writers on this project, a little at a time.

To start off, who the heck is this Ilene Angel person? Yeah, I pondered whether or not I needed any introduction, before I realized that the wonderful people who blindly gave for reasons unbeknownst to me might like to know that I am not a complete charlatan.

So while I normally cringe slightly at all the bio stuff, I am including it. It not only looks nice on paper, but it has the added benefit of actually being true.

I am a classically trained musician (Northwestern University and Juilliard), who has performed at both Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls respectively in my classical singing days.

I won the Abe Olman Award from the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame for my song “Silence Where Love Used to Be,” and my first #1 song was a Disney tune titled “I Don’t Think About It,” recorded by Emily Osment, who co-starred on the TV show Hannah Montana.

The critically acclaimed song “Costco Queen” entertained audiences every night in the show Motherhood the Musical.  And my song “We All Fall Down” won the international Global Voices for Change songwriting competition. (And all three of the above mentioned were co-written with Sue Fabisch.)

I have spent quite a few years writing songs for other artists to record and have loved doing that. But truth be told, all of us harbor dreams of being front and center, of showing the world exactly who we are and what we have to say. This project is the first fully produced record I am doing as the artist and not just the writer.

Why’d I wait so long? The short answer is timing is everything. The long answer is timing is everything.

My friend, Garry, read me an amazing quote on the phone this morning that seemed to perfectly sum up how I feel about this project and its timing:

"For hundreds of years - perhaps since the beginning of Creation - a piece of the world has been waiting for your soul to purify it and repair it. And your soul, from the time it was first emanated and conceived, waited above to descend to this world and carry out that mission. And your footsteps were guided to reach that place. And you are there now."

I believe we are all called to greatness and that our greatness is found largely in the smallest of moments when we show up, fully present, as ourselves. 

If it's true that we get back what we give tenfold, then you are all going to receive an abundance of riches, in addition to already having my deepest gratitude and love. 

I am so excited for you to hear the music! And stay tuned for the next installment of "Meet the Players..."

Peace & Blessings (and hugs and kisses),
P.S. If you would like to pre-order the upcoming CD, In Color, you can now do so now on this blog page! (upper right of this page) And if you like my work and it resonates with you, you can also click the "donate" button (top right) and give any amount you like. Thanks! xo I

Sunday, October 26, 2014

some catching up to do

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged, so I think it is time to catch up.

You’ll be happy to know that I finally have a hair strategy (long layers). I know, it was keeping you up nights. And thanks to my colorist, I will no longer be parading as my grandmother for Halloween. It’s the little things.

The record was moving along splendidly…until I caught a head cold, which halted singing for a week or so. So here’s hoping that this is the week the vocals are finally finished!

Fortunately, during the couch phase of my cold, I was able to work on my book. Have I talked about the book? It’s a self-help book…for people not ordinarily inclined to read self-help books. And also, for people who would be inclined to read self-help books. Why discriminate? Besides, since ruling out bra shopping on Ebay (see blog for reference: In Search of...everything must go), Ilene needs, well, you can never underestimate the importance of fine foundation garments. Speaking of which, did anyone know that Spanx makes jeans?!! They’re $148. Of course, I could just go to the gym and buy regular jeans. Wait, how did I veer so off-course with this blog?

Oh yes, now I remember. I do not recommend working on multiple projects as huge as a record and a book simultaneously. It puts the brain on overload…or is it overwhelm…or maybe it’s overboard. On the other hand, it does temporarily keep me away from the high end makeup, shoes, and handbags. Temporarily.

On a more serious and celebratory note, my father turned 86 this week, and for all those of you who “liked” and commented on the pictures on Facebook, thank you. I showed them to him, and he was overjoyed at the outpouring of affection.

Time is a gift we’re given if we’re lucky. We mostly take it for granted until life stops us short and wakes us up – that’s if we’re lucky. But me, I’ve always been aware that time is fleeting and savoring the precious moments is the thing to do.

Every moment holds within it the choice to be happy and to recognize the beauty. Yes, we all strive to be something more and somewhere greater, but the truth is this moment encompasses the totality of all that is. So I say we should find a way to wring every ounce of joy out of it and stay open to allowing for something better than we know how to contemplate.

A friend of mine just started doing standup comedy. I think it’s the bravest thing I’ve seen anybody do, just get up there, with nothing and no one else, and make people laugh. Though I haven’t asked her the reason for this choice, I’ve known her a long time and never once heard of a burning desire to do standup. But knowing Jeryl, I think it’s to broaden her own perception of herself and what she is capable of.

What would happen if we would all take the limits off ourselves? What could we accomplish if we erased the idea of “I can’t,” or “I could never?”

One of my favorite quotes is, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

People think happiness lies in the obtaining of or accomplishing of something. I have found it to be in the moments I truly believed anything was possible, in the excitement of imagining my wildest dreams coming true. I think joy is equated with possibility. And possibility is endless.

Celebrate what you can while you can. Laugh heartily. Dream big. Love passionately. Be generous with compliments. Know that you are destined for greatness. And that greatness is found in the smallest of moments where we rise to the occasion of being ourselves.

Thanks so much for stopping by, catching up, and spending a little time with me. I appreciate you.

Peace & blessings,


Sunday, October 5, 2014

a project update with a video clip!!!

Did you ever hear a song on the radio that made you pull over to the side of road just to listen to it? Is there one you and your friends would sing and act out the respective parts to? Was there that concert where you got out the Bic lighter (the predecessor of our cell phones) and waved it in the air, singing along at the top of your lungs? And don’t those songs just wrap themselves around you still, like a warm hug when you hear them?

Well, one of the cool things about making this record has been having the opportunity to think about what made each of those types of songs I loved special, and then writing something that both respects and carries on that legacy.

And that brings me to – the anthem. You gotta have an anthem. The one everybody sings along with after hearing it only once, the one that has a message that bears repeating (a whole bunch of times).

Mine is called “We are the Ones.” And what better way to have a sing along than to actually have friends sing along with me on the record?!! (Of course, this would never work if all your friends were tone deaf, but that only occurred to me after realizing all my friends sang.)

So here’s a little video clip of “Ilene’s Angels” rehearsing “We are the Ones” this past week.

I can’t wait for you to hear it when all the moving parts are put together!

We’re getting closer and closer to the finished album, and I could not appreciate you being part of it more!

Huge grateful hugs to every single one of you!

with Tanya Leah, Anthony Barone, BethAnne Clayton, Garry Novikoff, Arnie Roman, Jeryl Brunner, and Marvin Levy

Thursday, September 25, 2014

a moment's gratitude

Taking a moment to stand in gratitude today for all the love in my life and for life itself -

For friends new and old who never cease to overwhelm me with the gift of their friendship and who always stand as a ready example of kindness, generosity, compassion and support.

For family near and far who are my greatest blessings whether or not we are in constant touch.

For the breathtaking innocence of children and staggering beauty and wisdom of the elderly.

For dreams that are coming true this very moment, and for the multitude of ways that the universe meets me when I practice the courage of following my heart.

For the calm waters and ferocious storms that remind me that life is ebb and flow and never stagnant.

For change when it both excites and scares me.

For a sense of humor, because, really, that sweetens even the most difficult moments.

For anything and everything that ignites passion within. And for anyone and everyone who ignites passion within.

For moments that become precious memories lasting all eternity.

For a new day, another chance, unexpected opportunity, the willingness to grow and transform and become the greatest version of myself.

For having enough awareness to be grateful and happy and always on the lookout for more to be thankful about.

Peace and blessings to all...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

putting it out there...and letting it go

A friend recently asked me if I had a “hair strategy.” I suppose the question in and of itself meant that there was not an obvious one. But it did get me thinking, because I seem to be in a very transitional time, and not just with my hair.

It seems that the male of the species is fonder of longer hair on the female of the species, and I have no idea why I’m talking like a National Geographic TV documentary, but the point is I’m sure there is some scientific data to support this hair thing.

I’ve worn my curly hair short for a lot of years now, so it was time for a change…and truth be told, I’m kind of enjoying the new found attention accompanying my longer locks. Plus, I’ll be able to toss my hair around like a rock star on stage. I’ll get back to you on whether the head tossing necessitates any chiropractic visits or a neck brace, but for now, I’ve gotta go for it on account of you only live once.

My tendrils aside, sometimes you’re just ready for a change from the way you’ve been doing things and I’ve been on that path of change for a while now.

Some change is visible, like the hair, but other things are more subtle and creep up on you, like the events of this coming weekend.

As a songwriter, once your work is out in the world, it’s out there. And it takes some getting used to when you realize that people will perform it, listen to it, hum it, and relate to it, all without your presence.

Songs take on a life of their own, and people relate to them in a way that is unique to them. The meaning they derive will be associated with where they were, both literally and figuratively, when they first heard your song, who they were with, what was going on in their lives and in their hearts.

If you’re lucky, your songs will become a part of their soundtrack, the sense memory with which they associate love or heartache, an old friend, or the feeling of being truly understood.

That’s the stuff to which we writers aspire – at least I think most of us do. Who wouldn’t want to be a meaningful part of someone’s life? It’s an honor and a privilege.

That being said, there is transition involved, when a song goes from being yours, your baby, your creation, to belonging to the world. It feels weird. You want to be there to witness it on its journey. You want to know you did good.

And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get that opportunity. But sometimes, like this weekend, I cannot be there and I must make peace with that as my work sails off.

I spent a couple of years writing songs every day with Sue Fabisch, my trusted friend and #1 Disney song collaborator. They are the songs that will be debuted this weekend in a new children’s musical called Poppy’s Pizza Palace.

I could not be happier to be part of something that will entertain kids and their parents, while still containing a message. I’m always about the message. So Sue’s book and our songs will hit the stage this Friday and Saturday night at 7pm at Christ Fellowship in Franklin, Tennessee. (Message Sue here if you want to reserve tickets. Sue's FB page  Seating is limited.)

And at the complete other end of the spectrum, but also this Saturday, acclaimed cabaret singer, Corinna Sowers-Adler will be performing a blues song that I wrote called “Even New York…” and doing it with her fabulous band at The Metropolitan Room in New York City. (For reservations, go here: Metropolitan Room reservations). 

I had the privilege of hearing Corinna and the band do the song at 54 Below a few months ago, so I know it will, again, be phenomenal. (Here’s a video of it at 54 Below: "Even New York" at 54 Below)

So I’m letting go now, and letting these songs travel the journey they are meant to. The next set of songs I will get to travel with somewhat, because they are the ones on my album so I'll be performing them out and about, and that, too, will be a new experience and a change for me, being the artist instead of just the writer. 

In the meantime, I’ll be developing a hair strategy, because, evidently, I’m in need of one.

Thanks for stopping by, and supporting the work I do, whether in Nashville, New York, or anywhere else. I appreciate it and hope you enjoy it!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

a September 11th blog, 2014

We have a short attention span as a nation. We bore easily, get restless and want to move on to the next thing. We respond to only the most shocking, and as time progresses, we don’t shock so easily. We can watch our own citizens get beheaded in foreign countries, a nine year old girl fire an Uzi perfectly legally on U.S. soil, and we don’t blink. What does that say about us?

I’m wondering how love and peace stand a chance today, when their impact is so subtle yet profound, but their appearance doesn’t carry the explosiveness of, say, a Bruce Willis movie.

Anyone who was alive at the time can tell you where they were on 9/11/2001. It is indelibly etched in our psyches. The horror. The fear. The overwhelming devastation. In a moment of news footage, we can all remember exactly how we felt that day. And for five minutes, we were all one human family – worldwide.

But it’s thirteen years later now. And the lessons of unity on that day seem a distant memory now. We’ve gone back to the divisiveness of our best economic interests, the separateness of different religious faiths and practices, the polarity of political parties. We’ve forgotten what the coming together felt like. We’ve forgotten that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers. We prefer autonomy to compromise, judgment to compassion.

It is not a popular view to believe in non-violence, yet, when you ask anyone, they would most surely say they want peace.

It is not a popular view to say that love is the answer, but ask anyone, and they will most surely tell you they abhor hatred.

This world is a reflection of each one of us. There can be no experience that each of us is not embodying the characteristics of on some level, even if it’s by the sin of omission – the not speaking up, the not helping out, the deafening silence when our voices are needed most.

Some would argue it’s a fool’s errand to talk about peace and love in our climate of war and hatred. Some would say it is not the time. But I think it is precisely the time. In fact, there is no better time than right now.

No matter what circumstances anyone in the world is living in at this moment, what resides in our hearts and minds remains purely our own decision. Peace or contentiousness, love or separation – these choices are ours.

Loving those we disagree with at a core level is not an act of weakness; it is an act of strength. Speaking out for peace is not cowardice; it is bravery. Case in point: how many people are willing to do it?

September 11th is a sacred memorial only to the degree that we have become something more or better because of it. So on this day of remembering, I send love and peace from my soul to yours and healing to anyone who is hurting in any corner of the globe.

Thank you for stopping by.

Blessings to you always,