Growth & Lightness (that breezy feeling)

piano video screenshotHmmm this may be a weird post.  Weirder than usual.  I don’t know what I’m going to say, yet I already made a title for it haha.

Wrote a little something on Instagram today…

“Thinking a lot about what we put into the world vs what we keep in our minds. Some things have been sacred to me all my life, unintentionally. Since putting out my album of childhood songs from actual childhood, i’ve had this strange feeling of lightness and moving forward. But it’s also heavy and sad in a way. That time in my life feels more real to me now and almost unintentionally, I have decided to continue the process. This month’s upcoming album was always supposed to be about trauma but I thought it would be songs written in the past few years. Instead I’ve decided to record/release an album of songs from high school through my early 20s, songs I never thought I’d release because of how painful they were for me . But they are good songs and maybe they can help someone. So stay tuned for some heavy trauma songs at the end of this month. Tho if I’m honest there’s a lightness about them too. Curious to see how I feel in August when I reintegrate all this too. Xo ❤️ps haven’t been writing, maybe 10 songs since the 365 challenge ended in Feb? Here’s something from today. Just a little ditty*. Bye!
#newmusic #oldmusic #lettinggo #movingon #integrating #healing#beingyourself #wereallgoingtodie #someday #giveitallaway #xo

(*to hear the song clip, visit my @jessicaintherainbow instagram)

Sooo I don’t know.  That’s where my brain is.  I realized I hadn’t checked in since right after the Childhood album, and a lot has changed and settled in my heart.  It doesn’t feel so vulnerable anymore, this sharing.  It just feels like work, like God’s work or life’s work or a calling or a weird mission like a missionary for the universe trying to comfort other misfit souls through my strange challenges and approach to life perhaps?  I don’t know.  I believe in capital G God but I don’t think that’s the point of my version of prayer (all songs are prayers, all yearning is prayer, all life is prayer to me…I can’t see all things or be all things, but if there is a creative force in the universe, it has a broader picture than I do and hopefully can see more what needs to be done than I can…so I try to just follow like the little peon I am…is that strange? I think being small makes you feel larger, where trying to be large makes you feel small…and who knows really why we exist at all! I mean we are specks of dust and ants and we are in an endless streaming supply, why not enjoy being alive while we can, if we’re all going to die?)

I’ve been reading Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, the most genius kindhearted soul on the planet in my opinion, and I just can’t get over what perfection it is to experience someone’s clear life-work.  He is someone who has clearly found his muse and voice and calling, and what a beautiful life of craft and listening and GIVING he is living.  If you haven’t read the speech he gave at a commencement (‘Congratulations, by the way’), it is brilliant and I highly recommend it.  Pema Chodron’s too (‘Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better’ I think it’s called)…hers is almost the opposite, if I remember right, but both are humble and kind and wise as heck.  I could shrink down to a tiny seed and spend my life in books, if I weren’t too curious about what all this is, pouring through me… I think my decade of journalling to heal from trauma is about as peaceful as it gets for me.  Purposely avoiding output, focusing inward, or if outward, then creating but rarely sharing.  But now, so much in me feels healed – or on its way – and I feel foolish whenever I consider going back to my old snail’s pace.  Like all this prolific-ness is easy for me, AND impossibly draining of course, but I guess I mean it’s easier for me to understand and structure when I have a plan of being constantly prolific or outputting…as opposed to that 3-year or 2-year cycle some musicians do, carefully crafted work, I think I’ve just never understood it.  It makes the Final Product feel like a Big Deal to me* (borrowing the Capitalization to mock/challenge Importance concept from The Tao of Pooh…which should be called the tao of pooh, if it wants to understand itself…)

anyway, i am doing things my way and i am fine with it for me, and in no way do i think everyone should do things this way because i think it comes off a little crazy and weird at best, or just haphazard and sloppy and wasteful of talent at worst. i guess i also have been thinking of how lucky i’ve been, to be ignored during these healing years.  that no one is writing scathing reviews of my work or not-enough-work.  or no one is criticizing me openly.  i am lucky.  the only reviews i ever got in papers have been glowing (for “Were the World Mine”) – or super local and kind.  I know this is abnormal, and I know the more I put out into the world, the more likely the “haters” will start speaking out and up…I mean, they are not “haters” that’s not who they are, they may want to help me, save my talent, save me from my sloppiness, I don’t know how haters work.  I almost went into dramatic criticism for my critical eye, and dramatic lit degree (at the nudging of my professor), but I couldn’t stand the idea of spending a life tearing people down.  Even if it was to help everyone be better.  And I’m not good at being critical of myself either.  I mean, I see the flaws but…I like em, or I don’t mind em, or I just don’t see the point in being hypercritical.  Maybe that’s not true.  I dunno.  I like flowing, and listening, and following the muse.  What is this blog post about anyway?!?  I have no idea…

Well, as I said in the Insta post…I guess I’m embarking on my high school/college/early 20s songs now.

I’m terrified and exhilirated.  Like standing in line at a roller coaster.  Knowing these all fall in line, in the void, in a massive pile of work, makes each album feel a little less surrounded by pressure (my own)…which has helped it seem/be more fun.  Who knows.  Maybe they are all sub-par, even for what I could do.  All I know is, they are starting to EXIST.  And previously they DID NOT.  So I have to love this challenge, these challenges, even if they’re bringing my sloppiest work into the world – I can blame it on time constraints or just accept my lack of interest in Perfection.  I don’t know when I lost it, I WAS an A student.  All thru college and scholarships, etc.   Somewhere, some literature I read, some play I saw, some movie, some music…pointed out to me, all this stuff is Stuff.  Not real. Not meaning anything in and of itself.  If it moves you, great. If it’s nonsense, criticize me or look away.  But I don’t see how spending a lifetime in silent refinement does anyone any good.  It was certainly driving me crazy, a lifetime of not-doing but wishing-to-be-doing.  Boring.

Okay, rambles out.  xo Jessica

p.s. *note (disclaimer cuz I hate meanness due to differences): I think for some people, things being a built-up Big Deal is a good thing…for me, unless it’s fun and breezy, I get lost in self-importance and take everything Too Seriously, and I just can’t anymore. It isn’t fun, it makes no sense to me, and it weighs on my soul.  So to each their own – I respect those who do epic polished projects, not that you need my approval – the world tends to love people like you (but I love you too). ❤ ❤ ❤

Cute makeup & show day nerves



Okay, time to blog a little.  I’m feeling so much right now.  Wrote two songs earlier.  That felt amazing.  Like I forgot that that’s such a useful way to convert energy (let it go, allow it to be what it is, feel it, experience it, continue my day 🙂 )

Also journalled, got ready for the cloudlight show at Hay Yah House tonight in Grand Rapids – we’re opening for Jes Kramer, which we’ve done before (love her), and sharing the space with two amazing artists, Egan Franks Holzhausen & Reb Roberts, and while I know I should be fine with doing shows by now, it’s almost biological.  I get excited and nervous but mostly excited. I feel the weight of time, ticking by, all the things I wanna cram into a day – suddenly on a show day I realize what foolishness this is.  All the ways I expect myself to shift gears from one connection or project to the next.  I used to think I had a hard time with transitions, now I’m wondering if it’s because I expect so much of myself.  I make myself short-circuit, living life as if I’m still in school, 50 minute periods, one subject to the next.  It’s overwhelming at times.

Sooo the biggest anxiety is that June 30th is tomorrow and I REALLY want to do the Childhood album justice, and thought I’d timed it well, but I listened last night to the 1st final masters, and 😦 😦 😦 too many sloppy moments.  That are fixable.  If I weren’t out of time.

And I WANT to be out of time, because the next project is already underway. So I don’t want more time, or to extend it.  I just want to be superhuman.  In the old days, without deadlines, I often didn’t start things – for fear of this pushing side of myself perhaps.  I am relentless in how I engage this creative energy, and I am a firm taskmaster without much self-care, once I have a goal to work toward.  Maybe that’s why I would dream without starting things?  Maybe it’s cuz starting is the hardest part?  And yea I COULD cheat and give myself a few more days, but to what end?  Only to be behind by a few days on number 4 this year?  And that one is turning out to look like a MUCH harder project…sooo I think I have to somehow learn, thru this year, to say “good enough” and “you tried your best” and “it’s not like you get to live off being a recording artist so quit expecting so much of your limited self.”  I like piano teaching, and songwriting mentoring…and, even if I get to tour a lot more next year (my dream and hope), I still think I’d keep a full studio and just give em weeks off sometimes.  Hoping that would work out.  Because those I know who tour year-round, as a job, seem to slave away at it – and be at the mercy of many factors, and long-term I don’t think that’s my calling.  Some people write one or two albums in a lifetime, and tour/share the heck out of em.  I think my calling is a little more homebodyish, but with a lot of creative output.  Maybe more videos again?  Music videos, kids videos, motivational / self-help videos, makeup tutorials? (just kidding on the last one)

I dunno.  There’s a blog check in.  I’m loving the Childhood album.  It’s 12 songs, but I think only 7 will make the cut tomorrow.  Maybe there’ll be a “Childhood too” someday (called “For Heather McCarthy” – Heather, it’s all those extra songs I wrote in 5th grade when I found out Hilda was moving across town, and we couldn’t be summer playmates anymore)

Love you all. xo

p.s. oh yea, these pics are from my latest instagram post (@jessicaintherainbow)…where i announced that working on the Childhood album has me reconnecting with my fun-makeup-loving self, and I even did my hair for the show (inspired by the 2nd pic here) ❤






Become a Patron! (+ my experience writing 365 songs in 365 days, as of day 30…)


I hope you’ve had a chance to check out one of my very-raw YouTube videos since I started this 365 songs in 365 days challenge(follow link for up-to-date videos and songs).   The writing of them isn’t the hardest part, it’s honestly been keeping up with sharing.  Sometimes it feels like I’m scooping out my guts and putting them into the void, and other times it’s super fun.  Overall I hope it’s entertaining at least, or provides you with the occasional lullaby or stress reliever.  The easiest way to follow is to subscribe on YouTube and the second easiest way may be to follow me on Instagram (@jessicaintherainbow), Facebook ( or Twitter (@jessinrainbow).  Hope to see you!

The next thing I want to tell you about is a huge step forward for me. The last time I asked for help was in 2014, to finish funding my album. I was about to let the fundraiser run out of time and steam, when someone close to me said “NO! give it one last push and let people know you need help!” And I did, and it worked, and many of you funded that album.

Well now with only 30 days into this YouTube challenge, I’m reminded of what I’ve known for a decade – that I need help, that I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to being a songwriter as a business, that I don’t know how to market or promote myself, other than on the old FB and social media with people I know. And even that is in fits and starts (until lately lol).

So if you like me, and you make a lot of money, and have been wanting more ways to support the arts – please know there are thousands of people just like me on this great website called “Patreon.” Even super famous people are on there, as a way to be fan-powered instead of label-powered.  Here’s a video of what they do.  And here’s my personal Patreon page!

I don’t know if this will amount to anything, and I have no intention of stopping piano teaching, as I love my students. And I will continue to write songs either way. But I would love it if you’d listen to my little “pitch” about how you can help me bring this music out into the world a little faster (and it’s win-win, the more people I know become patrons, the more Patreon promotes me within their site…which could help me find people who need my music in their lives… I believe there must be a niche of sensitive or broken-hearted people out there who need these floaty-cloud piano-vocal songs, otherwise I can’t understand why so many of them keep flooding through me without a traditional writing process…just pressing record and out they come).

Thank you again to anyone who has given me likes or hearts or cheerleading on Facebook or Instagram or via replies to these blog posts – it has been like a little rebirth for me, speaking out in my passionate but long-winded way.  Learning to take risks being myself (outspoken, expressive, friendly even if that’s not super cool), when I used to be too wounded and scared of the world to do so.

xoxo Jessica

Whimsical NPR Tiny Desk entry, +Winter/Spring shows and feelings :)

Hello lovely people…

So after a brief phase of wondering what to do next, I’ve emerged with too many ideas… which I’m okay with 🙂

First of all – if you haven’t heard, I whimsically entered the NPR Tiny Desk contest about 3 hours before it closed… this included throwing pillows and furniture around my tiny apartment, assembling gear for my quiet voice, figuring out the best way to frame myself using duct tape and my iPhone, and then almost not getting the video up on YouTube in time :/  But I did it… basically I realized I didn’t want to wait a year just because I wasn’t ready, it seemed silly.  Here’s my entry (it’s a previously unrecorded song – from 10/2015: )

And in my excitement, I filmed a few more things as well and updated my YouTube channel a little… I may try to post more videos in the future, for the die-hard fans who like in-home living-room concerts without having to change out of their slippers.

Next up, SHOWS!

I have a lot of shows coming up in West Michigan (and my first one ever in NYC! 🙂 (…even though I used to live there, I used to be far too shy about my solo songs to book shows sadly…don’t be like me and drag your feet for a decade, follow your dreams, people!)

Here’s the quick list:

2/28/16  Mentally Distilled Poetry Slam – featured performer/opening act 7pm – Long Road Distillery, Grand Rapids, MI

4/4/16  Avant Garden Open Mic – featured performer 7pm– The Unicorn, 105 Henry St, New York, NY

4/10/16 Loutit Public Library Concert Series – 2pm – 407 Columbus Ave, Grand Haven, MI

6/25/16 Grand Haven Art Festival – 1pm, Community Stage – Grand Haven, MI

6/27/16 Sounds of Summer – 7:30pm, Bolt Park – Grand Haven, MI

There may be more to come on the Lakeshore (West Michigan) and Grand Rapids between now and summer.  The easiest way to hear about things is Facebook – since I use that the most …but also Instagram @jessicaintherainbow 🙂

Basically I’m super grateful to be connecting with some incredible people these days – all the slam poets organizing the Mentally Distilled Poetry Slam in GR, all the awesome people in Grand Haven growing the music scene here, my talented musician friends who inspire me all the time, all the people I’ve just begun connecting with about a few other cool things not listed here (which I’m really excited about but those events aren’t ready to announce).  More to come in the future!

Thanks for the love everyone 🙂

p.s. OH I forgot to talk about the “too many ideas”… basically I’m up to 4 albums I want to work on… well, #1 is underway with orchestrator Elisabeth Blair (“Everything’s True”), #2 is the piano/vocal studio one (“Trees for clouds”) from the cabin residency w/ the now-named Crosshatch (previously ISLAND – love them!), #3 is a possible EP with some mellow guitar collaborations, #4 is a possible EP in a new style for me with …well, it’s a secret cuz I haven’t asked them yet 🙂  I’m hoping too many ideas is better than not enough… but it’s making the reality of time feel really annoying.  I love teaching piano, and I even love adult-ing, but there are just not enough hours in the day these days (not to mention I love spending whole days meandering in books or my mind, allowing thoughts to stay or pass or lead to songs or not… so I am not sure which of these projects will take root, and which ones will become funny to me later… “Hey Jess…remember when you thought you were going to …”)  Did I mention I have 10 unreleased albums from my Chicago days?  Oh well.  Time 🙂

p.s.s. I’ve also been sharing rough songs more frequently on Soundcloud, and even a duet of a cover song done w/ my songwriter bf Bryan Ralph (he’s amazing) – feel free to subscribe or check it out 🙂