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,


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