For us creative types, the struggle to put pen to paper, paintbrush to canvas, or sounds to microphone are real. Today I share ways I'm learning to break through creative resistance and start generating the levels of productivity that can take me to my dream career.Read More
This weekend I had the honor of hosting a flock of singer-songwriters in my home for a humble beginnings of a biannual womyn's music festival. It felt like all the power of a women's circle, amplified. Literally.
We began the event with a discussion of our creative lives, the pros and cons, the struggle and the reward. As I sat and listened, realizations sort of seaped into the sponge of my consciousness. I realized I'm not alone in the creative struggle. That it's a beautiful and worthwhile struggle. That having a muse, a cross to bear such as this, is also a gift that not everyone has.
More importantly, my sense of competitiveness and judgment and catty-ness, which seems like some kind of twisted instinct, melted away into sheer appreciation for these glowing, luminous, very human women sharing their songs and their hidden minds with us in intimate, quiet coziness of a full living room.
As a highly sensitive woman in the music industry, I feel my spirit calling in a new way of creating and sharing and making a living that cares for self, community, and planet. This evening of music, food, and art was the perfect first step into manifesting this vision.
It's just a simple part of feminine psychology and biology that we are stronger together. As I witnessed each woman sing her songs, I realized we all had distinct genres and niches we were filling. The hierarchy of who was best that I had in my mind was leveled by an awe for the distinctive beauty we each had to offer.
This realization can be taken from the stage and applied to any field of achievement. When we work together and make space for each other, we become a cohesive quilt of many different patterns, that can comfort and warm the whole world.
The end of the night was an especially victorious moment, when one of the performers took a great risk and sang a song a capella. She was used to performing with a big digital sound or with other musicians, but in our presence, she felt strong enough to sing with her bare voice ringing out through the silence.
By the end of the song, our crew of fine singers were humming backing chords. It was a spontaneous, improvised moment that we'll treasure.
What a beautiful metaphor of the courage we can access through witnessing each other supportively. I've heard it often how women's biggest stumbling block in the professional realm is their fear to take risk. I see this as an obvious outcome of being the weaker sex in the often vicious and tenuous lifestyle our ancestors surely endured.
Yet I believe we witnessed our antidote at the end of the night. The cure for the resistant anxiety many of us feel, is realizing we're stronger together. If you're struggling to make strides forward in your life as a woman, perhaps all you're missing is this HUGE key-- female community.
Just a theory, my sweets! Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes?
I've been recently reading The Feminist Utopia Project. It's amazing what a little intellectual stimulation can do for one's world view!
I'm reading the chapters like doses of cultural vitamins, educating myself to bolster my emotional immune system in our current political climate...
Nothing like a sexist tyrant to inspire the next wave of feminism! :)
We intentionally made the Ladyfolk Fest to not restricted biological women. Because femininity comes in different shapes and sizes!
I'm learning this first-hand, as I'm currently in love with someone who doesn't fit into the gender binary. While identifying as a girly woman certainly works for me, I see how the patriarchal system hurts him daily. It's like there's a roadblock between who he is and who he feels he's allowed to be every day.
Feminism means getting outside of your experience and empathizing with others less fortunate, and fighting for their rights. Because when we protect each other, we ensure protection for ourselves and our loved ones and the next generation...
Another thought to note, is that in my world of gigging and music touring, I've found many creative folks who live as question marks to this societal norm of boy versus girl. Maybe it's because creativity and self-expression forces us to get in touch with our ambiguous, multi-faceted nature.
I'm so happy to present my sister's very own first novel, now available for pre-order on Amazon. It's a young adult historical fiction about two actual female pirates that sailed the ocean between England and North Carolina. This book presents a new narrative of gender and equality on the open sea... So proud of my big sis!
I recently had someone scoff at the idea that I may have ever been through really dark times.
I am wanting to be vulnerable and share that I have spent a good part of my life struggling with suicidal thoughts.
I know for a fact I'm not alone, as I hear there is a veritable epidemic of "deaths of despair" going on these days...
A big part of my journey has been learning how to stay balanced and grounded as waves of dark emotions crash over me, seeping up under me through the night and waking me with an icy splash in the face, drawing me unwilling back to harsh life and its million tiny pressure, responsibilities, and miseries.
Over the years, I have learned to become a hunter, with my golden arrow of focus pointed at things that will lift me up out of these dredges and into a brighter shine.
As a result of my predisposition for darkness, I've become obsessed with positive psychology: the psychology of happiness.
Yes, there is a science to it. Yes, anyone can learn how to raise their emotional set-point.
Flow state is one petal on the flower of happiness. That is, getting lost in an activity...
Music has been a lifeline for me-- it's always been there no matter what. It's a touch-stone I can always reach for, as easy as reaching out to a warm wooden instrument and seeking the harmonies latent in its strings. Music is this magical key to my life-- I can sing and suddenly I'm present, filled with oxygen and resonant frequencies that please my bones. I can sing with others and suddenly we're connecting in a rapturous state of transcendence. I can sing and suddenly I'm plunged into a watery world of wavelengths where I can shut my eyes and dive beneath the waves and forget my troubles, erase my troubles, or express my frustrations and swim past them.
In this bubble of harmony, the harsh pain of 3-dimensional life eases into a wondrous doubt-- that perhaps this "real world" we attribute so much gravity isn't actually as real as the subtle sonic gossamer we're cocooning ourselves in. That it's merely the flimsy, shiny sheen that hides beneath it a huge and vastly deep current that is the Source of Life, where we go when we die, and can't music be heavenly? Don't you just sometimes die a tiny death and rise up on a sunlit cloud of feeling when you hear a beautiful strand of music come to take you home?
The fact that sharing my heart-songs has become a big part of my career never ceases to amaze me. And now I've gone another step along the path to share my knowledge, to press the golden keys and hand them out to the beautiful young people who have come to knock on the door to music, so they can learn to speak and write and dance and live and breathe this medium as well...
Yes, I've been through dark times. But you wouldn't know it, because I have built a house of song around myself where I can sleep sweetly while I'm awake.
So. If you haven't gone to my kickstarter page to hear me talk about why I'm making my next album, you've got 44 hours to donate and add fuel to my creative fire:
Sharing the link is also a great help!
Thanks so much to everyone who's donated so far. You really see me and honor my gifts. It's an amazing realization.
We raised $5,000 in 6 days!
My girl-band, Larkspur, launched a Kickstarter fundraiser at the beginning of the month. We weren't sure we'd make our goal, so we hedged our bets and asked for 5K as an extremely modest sum for an album.
Due to an up-swelling in support we couldn't have imagined, we made that goal in just 6 days.
It feels really remarkable to have some of the energy I've put out there, touring and gigging and wearing my heart on my sleeve, coming back full circle.
Of course all this money will go straight back into the project to feed and nurture my craft.
Our minimum goal covers the very basic costs of recording to create digital files.
Now we're focusing on our next goal of $10K, so we can really *do this album right.*
Click the link below to visit our page. There's a video update and details about what the next 5K will be used for.
There are also exclusive merch options you might wanna check out before they're all sold out...
See you there!
Explore the arts of West Virginia this weekend
I'm excited to be a part of the festivities at this up-and-coming arts festival in Davis, WV. This is a very special corner of the country which has popped up with many talented artists quietly making art in this quaint town with a backdrop of wild nature.
As a small life update, my days have become quite, quite full. As a highly-sensitive person, I can only handle doing a few things a day. This becomes problematic when my jill-of-all-trades skills start becoming in high demand! #firstworldproblems
Yesterday I hosted my first-ever student concert at my home. It was adorable, to say the least. I never thought I'd find so much satisfaction and pride in the accomplishments of children. These days I'm just trying to shine the light on their innate awesomeness, as we tackle the Mountain of Music Theory that lies before us.
I'll also be creating another Midsummer's Masquerade at IX Art Park in Charlottesville, VA, which will be happening July 8th. Along similar lines, we're planning a Lillith-Fair type of event later on in the month.
Moral of the story
Building a musical career winds up being a lot like patching together a quilt from seemingly disparate skill-sets. It's not always ideal, but it keeps my dreams warm...
And what are my dreams? To live a life of creativity, in harmony with nature, helping to awaken myself and others to the beauty-drenched heaven that is all around us, if we open our eyes, if we open our hearts...
I've been teaching music since 2012, mostly beginner piano, banjo, guitar, and voice.
While it's always been an interesting way to make money, I feel I've only just hit my stride in finding a rhythm to the lessons and a trust in the material to take us where we need to go.
I have a piano student who told me this week, "This must be so boring to someone as experienced as you," to which I replied, "No, it's not boring at all! It's like holding the pure marble brick in your hand, that will become a temple."
Similarly, a voice student told me this week, "You know so much about music, I'm just in awe of you," to which I replied, "Being a life-long learner of music, the progress never seems very fast. But slowly but surely I'm laying brick after brick, building on a foundation of knowledge that is constantly growing as I push myself to be a better musician. So I know that when I'm old I won't feel that much more advanced, but the bricks will have added up to a mansion."
I haven't used my fancy-pants college education nearly as much as the direct investment of music lessons that I received have turned into music lessons I've been able to give. Paying for private music lessons for a child is actually an investment in their overall education, as it grows their intelligence and helps them to be well-rounded. But it can even lead to having a career skill in their back-pocket when their formal schooling doesn't pan out.
I'm excited to begin teaching a young student (I call her mini-me because she reminds me of me at her age) with a real musical appetite how to use the garageband app to begin to record her original compositions. This is baby-bach-level exciting! It's the new digital wave, which will be a truly important part of the foundation of any future musician's wheelhouse. I'm excited to see how her potential pans out with these technological tools woven into her grasp of theory and aesthetic.
The most rewarding thing, which I've heard teachers mention, is how much better a grasp of the material I have when I teach it. Teaching music keeps my hands in the sonic garden, honing my awareness of time signatures, key signatures, tempo, discipline, and the power of practice. Above all, it helps me stick to my personal practice, to just be out there digging in the dirt with the kids every day. It also boosts my self-esteem to work with people who hold my musical capacities in high regard and admiration.
My quick update is that I've been busy taking on a bunch of new music students. I'm also playing a fun lil' run of house shows this month, accompanied by Bram Crowe-Getty on percussion, plus I'll get to play with my mystical friend Megan on a couple songs, and with my long-time buddy Oil Derek opening for a night. Contact me if you'd like me to serenade you and your favorite people in the comfort of your own home (or if you're interested in a special invite to one of the shows).
The reason why I moved to Charlottesville was because I knew it had a surprisingly dense population of people who value music within a relatively small cityscape. (I can't hang for long in the big cities). This month I'm really feeling the abundance of an arts-centric local culture. #gratitude
Hello Cute Sprout,
The biggest show of my life to date.
We’re expecting several thousand friends of friends to flock to the Pavilion’s concrete shore. Sure, the timing is tricky. Our set is 40 minutes, starting at 5:30pm. And getting there on time is almost impossible because their world and his dear sweet mother will be trying to pass through the delicate arteries of Charlottesville that day.
Which is why I know you will plan accordingly to arrive a bit ahead of time, settle into your spot, perhaps grab a drink if of your predilection, and listen up.
I am specially requesting folks dress up in a solid color of their choice. My preference is for skittle / chakra / rainbow colors, but just wearing a single color that resonates with your mood (and what’s actually in your closet) would be grand as well.
Different hues of the same color are acceptable as well. The vision is that folks will stand up next to the stage and dance and sway and gently be part of a vision for other folks to gaze upon. This is living art! Be a part!
As for recording, we’ve finally got a couple of recording dates lined up for and it feels GREAT.
Mid-September we’ll be taking our gypsy-chic wagons to Norfolk and taking two days to get all our instrument parts tracked for a 5 song EP.
We’ll also be playing our first show in Norfolk while we’re there! It's going to be at an art opening for our favorite artsy friend Angel Graves on September 16th. Info here.
It’s going to be a full few days of musicking and I absolutely can’t wait.
I’ll never forget the time my carpenter friend told me that making a good album is like building a house. We sat in his permaculture chalet, an old stone shepherd’s barn he had gradually fixed up by dragging equipment and supplies up a kilometer mountain ridge. I didn’t want to believe him then.
I wanted to believe that the wave of bliss and excitement that usually sweeps me up in recording was the sign I was on the right track. I didn’t want to sober up and put in the careful hours to perfect a song over the course of years of test-driving it live, tweaking it in rehearsal, tuning into the ether to listen to what was missing or what could be carved away, and then investing the time and resources to honor it with the right recording and production.
Well, we’ve been laying out the blueprint all summer-- honing in on the songs for our EP and ship-shaping them up. This is the first time in my musical career I’ve really gotten to ask myself how I’d exactly like each of my songs to sound. I trust our producer Jake Hull, as I’m a doe-eyed fan of his previous works. Even if I give him no guidance, I’m sure I’d be stoked on his output.
Scratch that, recording an album isn't quite like making a house, it’s like building an ark. And the desert is our cultural landscape. And the rain is the rush of creativity we're all capable of.
"It doesn’t make sense, it’s crazy, why would you build a boat here?"
"The economy sucks, you're such a smart girl and could do anything you want, why waste your time making an album?"
Because the flood is coming, a tide of darkness via the brainwashed hypnotism of a bought media. I think very few people really understand how easy it so to have their minds changed simply by listening to the same false information every day, or watching TV with very fast frames that the conscious mind doesn’t pick up on, but the subconscious absolutely does. I don’t write this to scare you, only to help you be aware of your dear, sweet impressionability, and to really take great care what you subject yourself to.
Art about love will get us through, will wake us up, will re-set our loving hearts. Will have the seeds we can plant on a land scoured clean by these dreadful times. Let’s put the kind back in humankind.
In a world post-robot, music and art could be our major export. Rather than sad lost wars and subsidized cancer-causing corn, our national offering could be amazing marvels of music and beauty, like a bouquet we fling on the world stage.
More soon I hope!
xoAnnabeth // Larkspur
Our project is blessed with a super-saturation of talented photographers.
I would say we're lucky, but I believe we may merely be a-muse-ing.
Guillermo Ubilla made a storyboard of Larkspur's last show at the Ante Room.