Mid-June thoughts, spiritual in nature.

Hello…I wrote in my journal this morning, while feeling full of life and love, before a series of disappointments that I won’t ramble about tonight…

But I will say, life truly ebbs and flows and we don’t know where we’re headed.  A year or two from now I may be living in Colorado.  Or I may be gone from this earth.  Or I may be right here doing almost the exact same things I’m doing right now.  And same for you.  We don’t get to know where we’re leading, or being led, to.

I’m in a strange mindset right now, of wanting to share more…but knowing it tells the stories of too many people other than myself.  I wonder sometimes if that’s where all the cryptic lyrics came from in the first place, pretty much since high school.

That said, I am about to release an album of songs from grades 1-7…or 8.  Depending.

Haven’t decided yet who to be…including 8th grade is a huge shift spiritually for me…that’s when most everything really started going wrong for me…and I think the songs written in 1st thru 7th share enough of my light, I might just want to leave it at that.  I dunno.  This probably makes no sense to an outsider…outside my brain haha.  But I’ve been journaling for decades, and I felt inspired to do something more public than just keep journaling, alongside this wacky release-an-album-a-month challenge.

I think I have lived in my head so long that I don’t even know where to begin sometimes with coming outside it.  Talking with some acquaintances today, online, who are very near to the focal point of their traumas…after so many sexual/emotional/mental/verbal traumas in my life, I am deeply grateful to feel incredibly past tense about it, and be coming into my skin and some version of what is strength for me.  With the help of some incredibly loving and PATIENT people.  I get to live a healed, functional life and I know not everyone with my experiences gets to do that.  I feel very lucky to have hope and a sense of lightness in my skin, most days.  But maybe one thing I truly haven’t accepted is the way that will not just make my human experience different than those without severe trauma, but also it may make my music career very different.  I couldn’t handle the intense rejection, the unknowns, the uncertainty, the need to pound the pavement, the hustle…since releasing in Chicago back in 2010 I have been baffled on and off about the industry, the ‘scene’, the feelings of pouring out your soul and the juxtaposition of some people gushing about it changing them with others not listening or seeming even remotely interested…and not knowing what creates that difference (learning to process it, and be okay with it, of course…but my trauma background has likely made me far more sensitive than others to these subtleties…not in a “hey look how great and sensitive i am” way, tho I’m sure I could spin it that way and others might too if they like sensitive people, but more in a “so you wonder why the business side is hard for you? just look at what a miracle it is that you’re even doing this! it’s painful and emotional and many traumatized people have a hard time functioning let alone flourishing!” way…)

I’m tired of telling my trauma story.  Next month, after this childhood album, I’ll be releasing an album called “Tiny Traumas, adding up (or “out of body, in your skin”)”

I think I need to let it go, or do something symbolicly to let it go.  I think I need to not release the songs from high school, an album I used to call my second album, called “Tormented.”  I think I need to let that go.  College songs too, all Tormented sad relationship and trauma songs.  Waking up, in my skin.  I think I need to symbolically put anything trauma related that needs getting out, on this album next month, and just let it go.  Thinking out loud.  I don’t know if this is a good idea.  I’d like to have a nice July.  But maybe doing this in such a happy pleasant month would be good.  Who knows.

Okay now for the spiritual stuff.  This morning I wrote in my journal with the intention of sharing it on Facebook…where I share strange vulnerable things (my personal FB)…and it got so long I realized I should/could just put it here.

Here you go, anonymous friends.

……

I fall back again and again into envy, self-pity, self-doubt, and fear that I’m doing the wrong things – that I’m not doing enough – that I’m not smart enough, good enough at business, and that doggoneit people don’t like me –

While any of those things may be true and waking up to it may be painful but useful, even MORE true is that obsession with thinking about it without action or change is NOT useful and is just a way to beat myself up and make me feel small.

Whenever I pick up the book The Power of Now or A New Earth (I hate to be such an advocate for one thing – but it was the Tao te Ching or Pema Chodron for YEARS, I guess it has shifted, and we all have things we are needing to learn and are using to grow), I am calmed and reminded where I am and why.  Or it all just ceases to matter and I can function more lightly – and answers to such questions (am I doing enough, the right things, etc) simply appear without effort.

I was rereading the intro of Power of Now and saw a breakdown of what the book is trying to help you do, thought I’d share and explain how/why it’s helped me…

“You will find that from the first to the last page, the dialogues continuously alternate between two different levels.  One one level, I draw your attention to what is false in you.  I speak of the nature of human unconsciousness and dysfunction as well as its most common behaviorial manifestations, from conlict in relationships to warfare between tribes or nations.  Such knowledge is vital, for unless you learn to recognize the false as false – as not you – there can be no lasting transformation, and you would always end up being drawn back into illusion and into some form of pain. ”

This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about above…it’s taken me a decade of books like these, and back when I lived in Chicago, support groups and therapy too…I have taken all of this very seriously and at some point, I realized I was taking it so seriously that it had turned into my identity – which is why I want to stop telling the trauma story (soon).  Traumas rob you of your life due to their shock value, but keep stealing it when you identify them and their results as “you.” I think.  I dunno.  I want to process things, but I want to let them be like water and move through me, as something that has happened, not as something that I “am.”  Okay continuing his words…

“On this level, I also show you how not to make that which is false in you into a self and into a personal problem, for that is how the false perpetuates itself.”

This truth rings out in his work, in Pema Chodrons, in A Course in Miracles, in the bible, in the Tao te Ching…I have been learning this truth my whole life…which leaves me feeling empty like a vessel, ready to listen and learn and experience, without being much of anything at all…which is scary but also freeing.  Like a bird, if wings were easy to flap or you could just consistently glide like Princess in Super Mario Bros.

Okay now he talks about the other aspect of the book…

“On another level, I speak of a profound transformation of human consciousness – not as a distant future possibility” (that is probably THE most important part to me, as trauma healing groups and therapists always talk about someday and change ‘in the future’ and I needed an immediate consciousness shift, over and over, every day, until one day I was just suddenly okay it seemed…and all those years of talking about “someday” and trying to “fix” anything intentionally, I realized, kept me in the mode of “I’m broken and need fixing”…and there would never be an end in sight so long as I stayed focused on looking for things to fix…sorry, therapists who use this model, it has been very negative for me and this book and others probably saved my sanity in getting me out of that…okay back to his words) “but available now – no matter who or where you are.  You are shown how to free yourself from enslavement to the mind, enter into this enlightened state of consciousness and sustain it in everyday life.”

Okay I’m getting tired, this is long…but back to my journal, where I added a million qualifiers this morning, after writing about this (whereas those responses to the book, above, were written NOW, when I’m tired and crabby and feeling things after a day of some heavy stuff on my mind…)

…….

p.s. my grandma was a nun, I was raised Christian in a gentle simple do-unto-others way (Presbyterian – focused on inner life and good deeds, not evangelizing, and certainly not condemning or judging others “do not judge lest ye be judged” and all that, no matter what the bible teaches in obscure places it was clear that pointing out flaws of faith or non-faith to others is never my responsibility.  I have tried since childhood to take the logs out of my own eye – any Christian spending inordinate amounts of time staring at others, in their eye, are likely staving off awareness of their own traumas and weaknesses, in my opinion – it can be painful to focus on the self).

p.p.s. anyway I say all that because I truly am not Taoist, Christian, New Age, Buddhist, anything with a capital letter, or if I am then I’m all of it…but I think it all moves through me (us?) like water and all I try to do is stay connected to things that make me feel connected.  All parts of any belief that make me feel “better than” or separate, or “less than” and separate, I try to let go.  With the exception perhaps of sensing dark manipulative energies (demons? heavy negativity?), then I usually say the Lord’s Prayer obsessively and just believe that makes me protected.  ‘Cause I do believe in possession and I don’t need that sh*t.  Life is hard enough without ghosts or demons or whatever messing with you.

…..

 

O…kay…

Well, I guess I could change my mind about sharing all this.

It’s 1:53am.  No one really reads this anyway, so maybe it’s good for me to leave it here for posterity, and the one or two people who might need to find it.

Maybe it’ll help my lyrics make more sense…or maybe not.

I dunno…I hope you are having a lovely night, and if you feel alone, I really can’t recommend Pema Chodron or Eckhart Tolle or George Saunders or the Tao te Ching or Murakami or Julia Cameron (or anyone with hope for humanity and the individual’s journey) highly enough.  I have needed every tiny thing I’ve ever read…even Al-Anon literature, playscripts, poetry, anything that stirred me through the pages…something about social media is so fast and leaves me so empty, really just from all the comparing.  Envying.  Not because I want a fuller life, my life is so full and it makes me so happy.  But when I see social media, I’m reminded of ways I don’t act, people I love who don’t reach out to me, shows I didn’t book, places I didn’t go or don’t have money to go…I can’t imagine how social media is affecting children.  Or recent grads.  Because we see this big beautiful navigatable world, but then we are stuck in jobs and life and routines…and dreaming is free which they’ve done all their lives while trapped in school, but reality and freedom usually leads to realizing you don’t have the resources to change your fate, or go on that trip, or be that different person…social media is taking that “you can do/be anything” thing from the 80s and 90s and turning it into one quick burst of realization.  It seems much quicker that kids and young adults realize “oh crap I CAN’T do all these things”…hopefully we aren’t leaving them behind.  My bleak cynicism about Disney dreams being sold to us (and being crap mostly) is coupled with a joy of living and just being…I hope I am doing a good enough job at saying to the youth of today, FAME ISN’T REAL, SUCCESS ISN’T REAL, TRAVEL ISN’T REAL (er, satisfying, lasting, permanent, a solution, etc)…plant your feet, be where you are, look around you.  There is magic and beauty and fullness of everything and complete nothingness (in a good way) right now in THIS MOMENT right where you are.  I’m in your dream place, and you are in mine.  And we are all living fantasies or nightmares, in our own brains, based on what we think about and how we think it.  Poke a hole in the balloon, step outside the nightmare, see the color and light and beauty of that lamp or bedspread near you, see the universe in a single piece of paper, scribble with a pen, feel its texture, be a one-year-old, see color and light and beauty, slurp your soup, listen to people, laugh, find a house show, be in a space, dance, alone, remember your dance moves from 8th grade I DARE YOU, you know the ones you forgot because they weren’t cool anymore?  Do it. It’s fun. Be you. Not you who you think you are, follow the flow of this moment, be childlike, let go.  Whatever.  Kay?  Love you, bye.

Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Finished” something for month 2. This is harder than expected.

Well, last night at 11:53ish I pressed publish on the sloppiest album of my life. Far more lofi than my first album in Chicago when I knew nothing and had no resources. More lofi than even I intended, tho I tried to clean up some stray noises Wednesday night (til 6am, functioned on 2 hrs of sleep Thursday just from trying to make this a little more listenable). I think it was worthwhile, as I will always love this one, but I do see it as a piece of something bigger, as unfinished, but my stubbornness and determination meant I HAD to release something by the deadline no matter what, so there it is.

If I’m honest tho, these moments in time being preserved exactly as they were – collaborations with friends and heroes of mine, and former students too, and nieces and nephews, all making up a ‘Friend Ship’ (to the sky, in your mind) – is something I’m happy to have on my Bandcamp, whether or not it’s very listenable
for others. I’ll still release the intended Friend Ship album in a layered multidimensional way, later this year, many of those tracks are done already but I lost some of the work in a hard drive crash last week and am still in shock a bit, couldn’t push myself to finish the ‘real thing’ by May 31st and quite literally ran out of time…surprised I even put SOMETHING out, considering. I even considered releasing different smaller albums or eps instead, but everything had its own set of mishaps, so I guess this super lofi collection of friend moments was meant to be (if that exists).

On another note tho somewhat related… I’ve been feeling weird and full of myself lately, or maybe joyful actually (if I’m honest) but concerned how it appears, releasing so much, focusing so much on my own work and life, even with the new collaborations, for instance being asked to throw shows with people and our house being the easiest place to book things, for Johanna Warren, Breathe Owl Breathe, some new bands we love who’ve been asking and want to play with us (JiTR or cloudlight), and wondering how it appears from the outside, having myself or my band play at every house show we create…I mean, we are not curators really, we are musicians in love with this scene, and playing or writing music will always be my passion first and foremost. And I deeply love creating shows for and with others. But it still feels weird sometimes…maybe because I’ve tried to stay small much of my life, so that no one ever thinks (or talks) much about me, and that’s clearly not my guiding principle anymore.

Hmmm. That topic has been on my brain a lot. Haven’t known how or where to talk about it. I feel like it’s easy to assess and judge others. Most people probably don’t know that I’ve been performing since 2005, first in Chicago under my name and then as Jessica in The Rainbow in Michigan since 2013 . And something that has been true this whole time is that my music is rarely right for most venues. I always feel apologetic for it being too slow, too quiet, too sad, too happy, literally almost anything can be something that makes me feel off in paid spaces where the focus is on eating or drinking or making money for a business. I tend to only feel comfortable at major stages like at music festivals or places like the Pyramid Scheme or even Unruly Brewing since they have a stage and designated sound person (but mostly because those spaces tend to accept or even encourage whatever music one feels inspired to create), or at DIY/DIT spaces and house shows, especially the ones we create because Bryan is an amazing soundman and because we’re able to choose the lineup, and co-create a loving atmosphere that I want to be part of. And no matter how many opportunities I give to others, how much money we pay them (we give 100% of the money to anyone who travels to our house), and no matter how small I make myself to make sure others feel loved and heard and valid, and no matter how many people I include, partly to keep from focusing on just myself and my world musically-speaking, but also out of a love of bringing all these amazing musicians and creative people together, no matter how much I do I still always feel bad like it’s not enough. There’s a part of me that would much prefer to be a cloud or a tiny little bug, a butterfly or moth on the wall, though it would have to be one that has power to influence and create and help people, so maybe an angel? I don’t want to just observe, that’s how I learned I’m not truly an introvert. I want to be involved, I want to be helpful, I want to give hugs and there seems to be no way to do this without there ending up being a focus back on yourself, beccause every time I get involved and try to bring people I love together, at least one of em ends up telling me how much they appreciate my creating those opportunities, which sends me back to my discomfort with narcissism and makes me worried I’m still just centering on myself (I know this isn’t therapy haha, and probably goes back to numerous friends turning on me in middle school and beyond, often times citing being tired of my music and my interest in playing songs for or with them every time we hung out…tho it was probably more complicated than that, I believed them when they said they were sick of my music so I learned to hide it and not focus on myself around others if I wanted them to like me or to have friends at all…)

It seems like a common theme for anyone who wants to create work and be involved in the community, that the attention and love they try to give and spread with others eventually comes back to themselves, and then they’re stuck having to become an object of discussion or observation when really they just deeply wanted to participate and be involved and maybe they just have a shit ton of ideas and are naturally dominating (ugg, this topic is hard for me…who knows why I feel compelled to share all this, deep breath…), and maybe many people like me are afraid of the bottom dropping out, socially speaking. So I don’t know how to reconcile my passion and intense nature with my desire to love others and hopefully be loved in return…but I can’t go back to hiding and postponing my life. I’m learning that my passion in life in general comes from speaking up and sharing my ideas and creating projects and songs and shows around my ideas, and the more I share the more the ideas keep flooding like water, or lately like a waterfall …and the more I do them all, i.e. get better at follow through, the more things keep coming back to myself and getting attention for it which terrifies me but it seems like it’s the only option (besides hiding, which is not a real option)…so I don’t know maybe I read too many books and maybe if I’d never heard of the concept of narcissism or had those middle school social tragedies, I’d be okay with being a leader and at the center of things, even in my tiny little world here.

But really I would just like to be a cloud and hug you all and make all these songs without a name attached, except maybe in how I need some money… I think I need to have a name attached in order to email places and have a bank account and bandcamp and make some money because at the end of the day I’m often broke or at least paycheck-to-paycheck and I need more work and to prioritize side sources of income. Maybe this is just on my brain because I just got hit with $767 in car repairs (like an hour ago, brought it in for a tiny window leak and rear blinker being out sigh)…

I don’t know how other people do this world and this life thing. Maybe people just ignore feelings like these, I know it would certainly be easier if I didn’t give my feelings so much energy and power .

But other times or even most times, I feel like my power lies in shining a light on these types of feelings because they are far more universal than I probably think they are…and I wish they weren’t, I would prefer that only super sensitive creative weirdos felt like this while everybody else was just doing fine, and then I could just be a sensitive oddball going around giving people hugs and feeling happy for everyone while secretly feeling too much myself. But my guess is that reality is that most people feel deeply or moderately unhappy a lot of the time because we’re missing something in our society, something that I seem to be getting in fleeting moments lately, whenever I connect with others to create opportunities for them or to collaborate or just experience joy and connection with friends and strangers, paying attention to tiny moments more than ever ans learning to say yes to unexpected things. So I wouldn’t trade these recent growth experiences for the world, but just wanted to reiterate this in blog form (because I need to keep track of how hard this challenge is and how much I’m growing or not growing or just what I’m struggling with), that the point of this blog is to document all the feelings of this 12 albums in 12 months challenge. Definitely harder than the 365 Day one, or just different. I’m learning so many new things about myself and what’s been getting in the way of sharing my music when I’ve been a conservatory trained pianist since I was 19 and writing songs since I was 3 according to my parents and have wanted to be living this lifestyle (i.e. recording and releasing music + playing shows) since as long as I can remember, but couldn’t find my way out of all of the shit that came at me in high school and college about what I should do with my life, so the journey back to myself – which was writing lots of songs just like this ever since I was in elementary school – has been very twisty and weird and involves a lot of shedding and learning not to give f*€is.

Okay I’m voice texting this to myself while waiting for car repairs on a walk in Norton Shores …should probably go see if my car is ready. Bye ❤

Technology and meaning

Hello, it’s Day 424 j/k…it’s just a day.  And I’m in shock right now because this 2nd album is getting so close to done, well WAS getting so close to done, when the computer I’ve been working on (not mine, Bryans) had some sort of malfunction…he’s asleep after a long day, and I don’t know what to do.  For about 3 days now, people have been encouraging me to push this 2nd album out and get it done, but my inner rhythms have said PAUSE.

I didn’t know WHY they said pause, so I listened to others…

3 days of it.  And finally the COMPUTER forced me to pause.

What is that? Am I ascribing meaning to something random and coincidental?  Or is there meaning in the universe, when we’re not listening to CLEAR intuition, things slow us down or halt us until we DO listen?

I don’t know.

I just know that I hadn’t thought about the possibility of malfunctioning technology when I agreed to release something every month.

Probably too much in shock to know if I lost anything (anything I hadn’t backed up yet…I think THANKFULLY I backed up a few days ago)…

But we don’t have another computer that can run ProTools right now…well we do but…

I’m feeling the weight of my limited funds, and way too big dreams…

He’s using an old computer (the one I record on) but just bought a new one, for his work with a recording studio…and I can’t hijack that one (he was going to let me use/borrow indefinitely this one that’s now not working)…

Sometimes life feels super silly…I’m not saving anyone, I’m not curing anything…I’m just a little peon making songs, and hosting house shows, and making people smile or cry with my way of being.  And it feels good to be needed in this little world, but maybe this 12 albums thing is overkill.  I don’t know…I KNOW without a doubt that it’s for me.  To prove that I can, to be transparent about my prolific ways, to get over saving my life like this is some dress rehearsal while YEARS tick by with nothing done…

So I dunno, I’m ready I’m willing, and I’m poor haha.  I mean, I guess there are worse problems.  By a million.

So in rethinking all this…maybe I’ll go back to an old idea…a sketchy album cover I made late one night, and a rough album with all the songs on it on their purest form…citing the hard drive crash and overwhelm while living in “friends month.”  Basically this album of 23 songs w/ friends in em, or about friends, has reminded me of all the love that surrounds me and I’m terribly overwhelmed because in thinking about these people, I also fanned the flames of connection with all of them, AND with other friends…and the whole thing reminded me why I only have a few close friends usually and am otherwise an introvert, hiding in the shadows.  Being out in the light draws people to you, and when people are drawn to you, you take on their joys AND their sorrows…and I think everyone must have a different threshold for how many joys and sorrows they can hold in their skin.  Me personally, I was loving this friend album so much, and working on it EVERY DAY and then I got sick with pink eye and strep and felt like the universe FORCED me to slow down…and coming back from that, had to curate a 12 band/musician house show, that more or less PULLED me back out from that…antibiotic brain barely being gone, mind barely coming to, heart getting unflooded, looking around, coming up for air, seeing this puzzle and puddle of friends and frenemies and comparison to everyone in the industry, seeing all the ways I do it wrong, am not like my “competition” and am seemingly not trying…who am I letting down, who thinks what I’m doing is crazy, or social/career sabotage, on and on…I think I so enjoy being in my skin, taking walks, having a silly weird crazy flighty bird-loving nature-loving brain, that I forget that how I appear is possibly not as enjoyable as the experience of being me.  I probably appear all over the place at times, happy then emotional, etc…I don’t know.  I think there’s a lesson in this very crazy May.

I wish I knew what it was.

Thank you all for reading, if this helps you, or ignoring this, if it makes you think less of me.

❤ Jessica

p.s. if you come to my house shows, all I do is smile and hug people – and in a way that feels closer to the ‘real me.’  this feels like complaining with the hope of catharsis, and then I go away from it feeling untransformed sometimes, like this time, and i think…well if only i could just smile at everyone and hug everyone and feel the warmth of connection when I’m feeling sad at a harddrive crash and sleeping boyfriend and possible project rerouting (i.e. no fun layers to this album, just the original files from 365?)…I don’t know.  help!

Hugging Nellie McKay…

There are few things that will change you more than hugging one of your biggest heroes and getting to tell her she changed your life (or saved?), and having her be so so kind and tell you to keep going with your music.

This post doesn’t make much sense, maybe I’m leaving out too many details haha (like I was sobbing, and it was the wordless parts that changed me, didn’t know we’d get to meet her at the merch table or I’d have emotionally prepared myself lol), I’m still 2 hrs from home in a Burger King drive thru getting coffee, maybe I’ll write more when I get home, or maybe I should save this moment for myself, but yea I just sat 10 feet from yet another hero of mine this year (some I’ve seen, some I’ve opened for or performed on stage with), and in this case I saw how real and surreal she was, all at once.  Her joy and energy and kindness and genuine talent and insight (those lyrics!!!) is absolutely bigger than life. My boyfriend always tells me that famous people are just people, and that helps me so much too, to keep in mind, but ALSO they put their gifts in the world and in this case her gift TRULY changed me from the inside out.  When I first heard her, during the hours and hours of repeated listens, and now again tonight.

Thank you Nellie. Forever a fan! (And friend in my heart, thank you so much for the warmth and kindness and hugs! 🙂 ❤️⭐️💕😊

Jessica

Balance…

So in my dreaming of things, I often get off balance…and then something or things bring me back to reality.

I wonder if that last post sent me to a strange place…almost wrote again the next day.

Like why complain when I did this to myself? 🙂

So here I am with pink eye and strep and day two of being off work, waiting til I’m non-contagious, and hopefully having a little more energy…my mind is a foggy sea and none of my plans feel very real right now.  Moved back more deadlines, trying to accomodate life.

This blog is very much for me, and anyone who has issues with BLOCKS in their creative life may get something from it.  I’ve had 3 new JiTR albums slated for 3 years, and haven’t prioritized them due to some MASSIVE fears…this 12 albums in 12 months process is a way of getting me over that, and sneaking those ones in here too, I hope.

I don’t know what makes some people so dang confident without all this “processing”. They seem to move from point A to B in their wants and thoughts to their execution.  That has never been me.  Self-help books, therapy, friends who get me, developing safe relationships and safe spaces to become has been crucial in my process…and I don’t know if I’d have ever released a single album as an adult without all that.

In fact I know I wouldn’t.  Dreamerism is strong in me, and in my blood 🙂

No offense to that, of course, just that the real world is gritty and it’s so easy to get wounded when we put ourselves out there.  Not to mention real wounds from my past, not sure ever how much to share about that…but let’s just say that healing from trauma, reframing experiences, and helping others do the same feels like my life’s work and purpose.  Tho really, had I gotten to have a trauma-free life, then I think my purpose would have been sharing joy.  So the hybrid of the two feels the most true.

I think if I’m really honest with myself, this month’s challenge is the hardest one of my adult life, and I’m trying to act like it’s fun and no big deal.

I have armor all around me, boundaries maybe, as a way to protect myself from further trauma.

And I hide it through friendliness, so most people don’t see this truth about me until they get to know me, if I even let them in.

This month I’ve compiled all the collaborations, and am doing more of them, not too many (my dreams said to do a million, or 20+, make everyone I know and appreciate feel loved and included…but the practicality of that, and it’s accompanying stress, is probably how I got so run down and then sick…), anyway…even with the downsized collaborations, I feel like I’m taking in the energy of others – massive amounts of others – in a way I haven’t done in a decade.  Or more.

Ever since my first drummer bailed on me, maybe? (cancelled on the day of a show?)

I’ve never really accepted the fact that I hold grudges.  Maybe not with specific people (rarely), but with the universe, with things not working out that I tried so hard on or wanted so much but didn’t work out.  And whenever there have been lots of those, something in me will shut down on a topic and write it off as “not me.”

One such topic was playing-with-others.  It’s why I perform alone so much.  And why this whole last year since cloudlight, and recently with welcoming old friends and new ones into playing with me on JiTR sets…and now why I’m even gonna edit and list all these collabs together in one place on my bandcamp.  Like a statement to the universe that yes I value and love these people…

And it’s hard because people break my heart all the time, like I talk a lot (duh) and I feel like I’m “too much” for many people, not all of course 🙂 and I’m so thankful for my posse of people.  But I think I’m learning that I used to live in black and white – either a person accepted ALL of me, or I put up a boundary with them.  I dunno, trauma is so weird.  I mean,  don’t even accept all of me…why should others?

Blogging is strange.  Who am I talking to?

I guess I felt like this last year, doing those check-in videos.  Still I said I’d do it.  I knew I’d want a record of how bizarre this album-a-month process would feel.  I knew it’s be hard or almost impossible.  So far the hardest is the interweaving schedule of deadlines…like I’m already working on June, July, August, and even OCTOBER deadlines.  Because of different levels of polish on those albums and projects.  One will hopefully be in studio, with others, so that involves coordinating and practice now.

Okay well, I’m still super sick despite starting the antibiotic today…feel like my body is tryin to sweat something out.  Maybe this helped?  I never know with my strange sensitive system.

Xoxo to all the gentle people, the world is infinitely better for your care.
Xoxo to all the passionate people, the world is moving forward from your dreams.
Xoxo to all the confused people, I think this is most common and nothing to feel ashamed of.  I think life is a process of untangling all the lies we’re taught as truths, and trying to find who we are amidst a sea of misinformation.  Hope you all find whatever feels like ‘yourself’ today.

Jessica

12x the busyness, things that fall thru cracks.

*Note to readers: this blog is part of a challenge, to release an album a month for a year. It’s a way of documenting the insanity of the process :)*

 

SO there is a reason people pace themselves, avoid things, focus on one project, wake up in their minds a year or two after a brainstorm, having not accomplished said brainstorm, beat up on themselves, without analyzing the reality of TIME…

That whole “to everything there is a season” thing is bouncing around in my brain right now.

It’s like I’m trying to have 12 seasons at once, without anything in my life suffering…

It feels like a trajectory, or like 12 trajectories, started simultaneously, without the boost of 12x the life force…I find myself getting sick, run down, tired.  Not sleeping well.  Not able to go for walks.  Etc.

Today is Monday, the day after my big yearly piano recital.  It was a WONDERFUL event, my students played super well, and I’m grateful yet again to have such a meaningful way to support myself.

But historically these would take a week of focused prep…well, 7 weeks of prep with the students, but even I would go to a headspace meant for recitals (or, music parties? they are unconventional, everyone plays only their favorite songs from the year, of any genre, and performance in them is optional…)

This year, I’ve done so much other work in the week leading up – practice with a drummer, recordings and field recordings, album artwork, tshirt design collaborations, reorders and orders of tons of merch, things that have fallen through the cracks in the past but something in me is trying to work 12x faster, 12x smarter, and be 12x better of a human.

It’s partly working, as this much effort is bound to succeed in some ways.

But it’s also exhausting, and I feel like something in my body is trying to get me to rest (about to go to the doctor for what may be a case of PINK EYE?!? I’ve never had pink eye…)

Deep breaths.  Intentions set.  I made a LIST.

Not my usual list.

Not a list of wishes and dreams all written all over, in a tree or thought bubble, with floaty dreamy Equal Importance.  But a LIST, like a bada*s list.  Where I assumed much would have to fall away.

“Choose your top 3 things” something in my mind said.  Like “I know you have 20 things between now and June/July that you want to accomplish, but CHOOSE your favorites – the ones you’d be the most sad to see fail.”

Priorities.

As an A-student crammer my whole life, all the way to scholarships and free trips to London, I CAN’T BELIEVE I never learned how to prioiritize.

But I haven’t.

I genuinely just push push push and leave til the last minute and do each thing right before it’s deadline, and get EVERYTHING done.

But I’m seeing that only works if your list is small enough that EVERYTHING is possible.

My list has grown so much that now, truly, everything I want to do IS NOT POSSIBLE.

With each new idea, the seed of another idea is born.

I’m getting better at delegating.

I’m getting WAY better at contacting people for rehearsals and collaborations with enough advance notice that they can actually get involved and/or (whoa!) be working on something while I’m finishing up another thing.

It’s like weaving, and I feel like my time use used to be a simple braid and now it’s becoming a complex friendship bracelet and even I don’t really understand or remember or know how to explain the pattern, but I can do it by feel.

Sooooo I like it.

But I don’t like that I’m sick.

Either my body is revolting (but excited).

Or it’s trying to get me to PAUSE.

At least long enough to see that I’m missing a point of course correction (last night I made 3 new lists, and altered my unrealistic deadlines 3x).

So I’m kind of into that.

The idea that my body knows what’s possible, better than my brain does.

So yea…if anywhere I said that I’d release things on the 9th, 12th and 20th of May, just FYI I’m shifting it later as new things came up, some of which are more important (by a lot!) than meeting these arbitrary deadlines.

So I know the new deadlines, still a release in May, but I’m wondering if announcing deadlines is an absurd extra pressure I don’t need.

Like yes, I want to honor friends’ bdays on the month of my friend ship album…but it’s ultimately also pretty cool that I’m even trying to release something less than a month after another thing.

Sometimes my objectives get so powerful and intense and foreboding that I forget to congratulate myself on even thinking of having that objective, and/or meeting it halfway or most the way.

Okay, off to get dressed and have my eyes looked at.

Wishing everyone peace and motivation and the balance between the two…

xo Jessica

About to embark on Album #2 (+feelings)

Hello…so I’m feeling a lot of things but mostly happy and wordy and teachy/preachy and this emotion or slew of emotions always turns on me.  Like, right now, I’ve shared so much on my friends’ facebook pages that you’d think my life is an open book.  Maybe it is at times, but not all the time.  Maybe this year it will be, all this blogging.  But I feel a strange push of energy and I THINK it’s coming from the fact that 4 shows this month being done now (all with their 10-20 hrs of prep each), I’m feeling the push of excitement to finally have time and space in my brain to REALLY dream about this year’s project…and the connections and collaborations are all melding together and I’m just getting really freaking excited to create so much.  It’ll be weird and polished and scrappy, in varying amounts, and involve working with more friends than I EVER have.  Which is scary and thrilling all at once.  Good thrilling.

Soooo here I am on what feels like too much coffee but it’s really just rest and sleep and time to dream meets one cup of coffee, and making to-do lists and existing as I am, I feel like I’m bouncing off the walls, having this free day to imagine and dream and get things done…  that’s what my skin feels like when I’m happy, and maybe you relate, how this can turn on you if not utilized well?  Like when I’ve had all this energy in the past, I often would get decision paralysis, and then not do anything “constructive” and by the end of the day, feel like I didn’t choose any one thing, and be frustrated and mopey about my projects.  These deadlines that I’ve put in place – the next ones being May 9th, May 12th, and May 20th, are staring me in the face (pre-release, video release, album release, all birthdays of friends, old and new ❤ which is fitting for my “friends” album…)

Here’s a little bit that I wrote about this upcoming project on my Patreon a few days ago…(if you want to be in my little secret private fan club, I give away stuff there and share more, or try to, or at least share things sooner like previews of songs on albums… it starts at $2/month http://www.patreon.com/jessicaintherainbow )

This past album, album 1 of 12 this year, was focused on some heavy themes…ways I’ve loved the world even when it felt like it didn’t love me back (i.e. hence ‘Misfits’).

This next album is focused on the abundance I keep finding all around me…even as a misfit I feel like I have a little tribe, or rather a ship of friends, haha, a “Friend Ship” if you will.  The more I’ve looked for it, the more I’ve found it’s always been there.  I feel more lifted up than ever, just learning what to pay attention to.

Soooo this next release will be a restored collection of many of the collaborations from 365 (for those who know Michigan music, there are ones with Fiona Dickinson, Micah from Breathe Owl Breathe, Jes Kramer, Tom Hymn, Bryan of cloudlight, Maddie Jackson, Van Lente, and more :), and maybe some older ones too, pre-365!  And even a new one or two possibly, if time allows.  

I’m calling it Friend Ship vol 1 because I hope to make a 2nd one someday that is fully in-studio and the highest audio quality possible.  But for now focusing on lo-fi stuff keeps me moving forward.  And I just plain like the sound of it if I’m honest.  Maybe you do too 🙂

That’s what is on my plate now.  I feel like I’ve had about 2 days to calm down, and relax and reconnect and re-observe what’s working and what isn’t, and I’ve (unfortunately?) used it mostly to make to-do lists and dream more about all these projects and write people about collaborations.  Like I’m a LITTLE worried already that this year of albums may leave me feeling less rested than usual, which I hope isn’t harmful for my health.

But if I’m honest, I have a TERRIBLE habit of thinking I *should* rest when I really don’t want to, and then all this hyper-excited energy would just turn on myself…when I force myself to chill when I really want to dream and work and create.  It definitely swings the other way too.  Some professionals call this “bipolar II” (less severe than Bipolar I, usually super-high-functioning and sometimes hard to detect, common in creatives and often manageable with self-care) – I did try meds once, for about 2 years, because of a really really bad (abusive) living situation at the time.  So I really needed something to keep me saner.  But over time I discovered that those meds made it so I couldn’t write songs, couldn’t really journal, or even dream properly.  In my case, since I build my life around creativity, that trade off wasn’t worth it.  So instead I’ve learned to work with the highs and lows, and honestly creating more has been an incredible solution.  That and having a *very* stable living environment.  Like truly no surprises.  I think people with my traits have a hard time finding the right partner, and I personally can’t imagine the unpredictability of something like motherhood or wild roommates.  So if you struggle with these things, my heart is with you.

So all this energy is because, I imagine, like a flood I’ve been identifying all the things I’ve put on hold – new biz cards, new tshirts, new stickers, new cases, plus I have determined the next two weeks to be the time to check in extra with my patrons, which includes sending out thoughtful lil packages and other extras, motivational videos, and something about shifting from a show-based to-do list, i.e. each show had a list for the week of the show and obvious concrete goals, to shifting back to a vague no-timeline based to-do list, is sending my mind into a cloud of “which thing to do first!” which feels very dreamy and exciting and scary and leaves a LOT of potential for me to let myself down.

And if I’m really honest, I’ve let myself down most of my life.

I don’t share about this much but I have lots of trauma in my past, and digging out from under it has been a lifelong journey so far.  I’m lucky to feel mostly hopeful and optimistic considering what I’ve been through.  And I hate talking about it because I know many other people with similar circumstances aren’t at this point or may never be.  I feel genuinely hardwired for joy, and all the bad experiences did a good job obscuring that, but underneath it all something in me has been pushing to get back there.

I dunno.  I wish I could, instead of blogging, just go around to all the people who’ve ever read anything I’ve written, and give them a hug and say it’s gonna be okay, even if it really isn’t for everybody.  Because hope has been the most transformative thing in my life.  I wish everybody had hope, or joy, but I know they don’t.

Okay well, I said I’d blog alongside this weirdo challenge.  I feel pretty freakin weird about this one, and want to sort of delete it.  But my desire to talk about just about anything is so strong right now, and it’s something that definitely gets in the way of my work ethic and creative process, or is a strange piece of it that I’ve yet to understand…like this too-many-words thing, followed by feeling unnoticed, can be misinterpreted by inner-child-me as unloved or un-needed, when really it’s just that I’m taking up a lot of freaking airwaves and I know that.  And I know that when I feel like this, I need to a) find a way to focus and get work done or b) remember to reach out to loved ones and REALLY listen to them.  Because honestly much of this hyper energy is LOVE, and I love all the people who’ve been surrounding me, and that love and joy feels overwhelming, and I should probably turn that love VERY directly onto those people who engendered these feelings in me in the first place.

Thank you to all who have made me feel so loved lately.  This month has been one of the most difficult and work-intensive of my self-motivated creative life, and it has also been the most eye-opening, enlightening, redirecting, clarifying and moving.  Like I literally feel moved to a different point on my own personal timeline, this month has felt like my usual 6-months feeling.  Sigh, if that’s what this challenge will be like, then I don’t know WHO I’ll be a year from now!!!  That’s scary and overwhelming in a weird way, hence, I’m guessing, all these feelings.

Anyway, love to all, xo and thanks for listening and sharing your truths.
Jessica