Friday, July 25, 2014

the right Facebook algorithm

Every time I go on Facebook these days, someone has posted a new quiz, promising to tell me everything from the color of my aura to which U.S. president I’d be.

I don’t take every single quiz, because, let’s face it, I’ve got things to do, but I have taken some of them and these are some of the things I’ve learned about myself from these hocus-pocus-fancy-shmancy-facebook-algorighms:

Shockingly, my occupation should be that of a writer, with a North Eastern accent. (Really glad I didn’t come up as a Pakistani chemical engineer, because that would’ve called into question pretty much all of my life choices.)

If I were a poet, I’d be Rainer Maria Rilke (a very nice assessment – once I googled what he’d written).

Which President? JFK, of course! And in my past life, I was a Greek philosopher. (That one completely bolstered my intellectual self esteem.)

If I were a state, I’d be California. (I’ll be taking up surfing immediately now that I know this.)

If I were a comedian, I’d be Chris Rock, which I take issue with, because I see myself as way more George Carlin or Tina Fey, only I can’t remember if either of them were even in the comedic survey as options. I suppose I should just be thankful I didn’t come up as Rodney Dangerfield and leave it at that.

My Sex and the City character - Carrie Bradshaw. While I don’t have proof of this, I think everyone comes up as Carrie Bradshaw. You can let me know if you came up as one of the other ladies, but I’m betting everyone’s Carrie. And now, I will be going shoe shopping. Total coincidence, I swear.

And keeping on the shoe theme, my nickname is Stiletto. Honest to God, that’s what it said. I really like this, because it seems very sexy to me. Note to self: stop wearing flats.

My aura is blue, which I actually knew already, thanks to my Shaman. Enough said.

And lastly, my old person name is Earl. Yes, Earl. I clicked on “female.” And yet, I still came up as Earl. If it didn’t make me laugh so much, I’d be mildly offended. (No disrespect intended to anyone named Earl out there.)

Be that as it may, I think many of my outcomes were surprisingly spot on. So I was kind of thinking of making up my own quiz and algorithm. But then I realized it would involve some sort of scientific math calculations and that, right there, made me think better of it. Besides, Carrie Bradshaw would never be messing with algorithms.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

a follow up blog to yesterday's conundrum...

I have learned from watching many Law & Order reruns, that you never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. (Thank you, fake cops and lawyers.)

When I posed the question yesterday about the Kickstarter conundrum, I already knew the answer. I just wasn't convinced that I already knew the answer. And so I asked you, my fine readers.

After receiving a maelstrom of private messages, emails, and phone calls from people weighing in on the subject, I decided to let you know my conclusion…

I bless everyone. I wish everyone well. I root for every person’s success. I know that we are all interconnected and of equal value, as are our dreams. And that is the message I wish to embody. Nothing and no one outside ourselves can stop our good from coming to us. We can choose to use our life experiences, particularly the more challenging ones, as lessons in being more compassionate...or not. It's up to us. But compassion seems like a pretty good idea to me, both towards ourselves as well as others.

So that’s it in a nutshell for me. Love and compassion...even matter what. 

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. Oh, and my next blog is gonna be much lighter fare, though it is going to have the word “algorithms” in it, so you’re not gonna want to miss that!

Peace and blessings to you all…

Monday, July 21, 2014

Equal Value and My Kickstarter Conundrum

My friend Alisa introduced me to a concept that changed my outlook on life. It’s called equal value. It goes something like this: Me and you…equal value. The pebble and the boulder…equal value. The billionaire and the pauper…equal value. So therefore, my dreams and your dreams…equal value.

This brings me to my Kickstarter conundrum, because I’ve really been making a concerted effort to adopt this state of consciousness. I think that the first step in changing the ever-widening disparities in our world is to realize this truth – that we are all of equal value. Rich or poor, successful or down-on-your-luck. Doesn’t matter. Equal value.

…Which brings me to…three people I know have a Kickstarter campaign going right now. (For anyone unfamiliar with what that is, it is also called crowd funding, where a whole bunch of people put in whatever amount of money they can to fund a project of some sort, usually an artistic endeavor.)

This campaign of theirs will most likely succeed whether I participate or not. So the money isn’t really the issue here. So what is? Well, about a year ago, I had my own crowd funding campaign and not one of them contributed to it.

I am sure most of you are thinking there is no big dilemma here. If they didn’t contribute, I don’t need to. End of story. No guilt necessary.

But there are so many bigger questions here involved for me – like do you treat people the way they've treated you (an eye for an eye), or do you show up as the example of what you want to see in the world?

What does it say to the universe if you treat people better than they treated you? Are you a doormat or the living embodiment of unconditional love? And what is it saying to those three people? Is it sending a message that their dreams or their project are more valuable than mine? Or is it making a stand for the equal value of all of our dreams by supporting anyone’s dream, even those that didn’t find it in their hearts to support mine?

I believe that how we show up in the world matters. But I am human, and my feelings get hurt no matter how much I would always like to take the high road. So I am at a loss to know what to do that would send the message that I honor both my own dreams as well as those of these three other people as being of equal value.

What would you do? What are your thoughts? I’m listening…

Thursday, July 17, 2014

what are you chasing?

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I write this now on the last day of my stint in California, where I’ve had a surprising number of glorious opportunities to perform some of my new songs for people.

I’ve undergone a shift in my life over the past few years, and it’s not one everyone has fully understood. I got tired of chasing, and I decided to embrace instead.

When you are chasing something, you are in a perpetual state of wanting what you do not have, of coming from a place of desperation and fear and not enough. For me, “chasing the cut” (trying to get well known singers to record my songs) left me feeling like I was always falling short. But there was this strange dichotomy taking place, because when I would perform the songs I loved the most and that most expressed who I am, heart and soul, the response would be phenomenal. And I kept thinking, if people are responding this much and this often, surely there must be a place for what I do.

For years, I lived with this internal contradiction, until I woke up one day and realized that I had sold myself incredibly short. And so began a journey that started with the question, “What is standing in the way of me living the life I was put here to live?” And in that asking, was the beginning of transition and transformation that is not, by any means, for the faint of heart.

Most of us don’t afford ourselves the luxury of asking the question, “What is it I truly want?” We get tangled up in expectations, our own or those of the people around us, until we couldn’t even answer that question if we wanted to. But once you start getting quiet and allowing yourself to sit with the question, then the answer eventually bubbles up to the surface.

Let’s face it, before life happened, we all had dreams, things we aspired to. There was a moment when we knew who we were, and there is no road to peace and/or happiness without reclaiming that in whatever fashion we can.

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best singers on the planet – no joke. And I have pitched my songs to some great artists. But little Ilene, who was nine when she started writing songs, wanted to play and sing them herself (the one exception being if Barbra Streisand wanted to sing them). So what did Ilene do instead? Had everyone else record them, try to get everyone else deals, pitch to anyone she could, big and small. This is not the behavior of someone who embraces who they are and knows what they have to offer.

Life, however, has a funny way of getting us where we need to be in spite of ourselves. So I wound up here, unable to take one more step forward that did not honor both my original dream and what I genuinely bring to the table. I realized that songwriting was a spiritual mission for me, and while I’ve gotten good enough at the craft to whittle frivolous ditties and pop confections, too, those things will never be the bulk of my work or the intent of my time spent on earth. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them or respect those whose main gifts those types of songs are, or that I wouldn’t cash the check if one became a hit. Believe me, I would.

But like the movie Field of Dreams, I’ve decided that if I build it, you will come. So I’m building an album that exemplifies not only who I am, but the message I’d like to put out in the world – that each of us matters, that gratitude begets more to be grateful for, that not only are we each enough, but we are magnificent and worthy and so very much needed in this time and place.

Every time I sing one of the new songs that will be part of the new record, I am keenly aware of all of you who said “Yes!” to this message and to me bringing it to the world in this way. I know that I carry your hopes and dreams for your lives along with my own. It is my hope that we will all embrace our own greatness and stop chasing after what we never really wanted in the first place.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Peace and Blessings to you,