Declutter and Taking the Long Way Home

For some unknown reason I have been sorting through my things and getting rid of lots of stuff. Books, DVDs, clothes, papers, and so much more “stuff”! I’m not a big shopper, and I’m not a hoarder, but over the years I have amassed a lot of “things” (especially living in the same house for over a decade). I’m cleaning out drawers, closets, shelves, boxes, and so on. Some of the things I’m finding have emotional attachments, some are things I’ve kept because I think I’ll need them “someday”, and others I’m no longer sure why I have. I suddenly can see how having all this stuff hanging around weighs me down. With the things I have emotional attachments to, I’m realizing that the memories they bring back are already in my mind, and will stay there regardless of keeping the item. As for the things I think I might need one day, I’ve allowed myself to realize I can buy the items anytime I need them. Some of the things I’ve had for years and never needed. It is like creating a false sense of security, and the price is carrying about “baggage” that on some real level weighs me down. It frees my mind to think that I don’t have to keep it in storage, and can buy it new and fresh if I need it. Getting rid of all this stuff is making me realize just how “mental” having all these things is. It’s very strange to have so many things – none of them vital for living. Any importance these items have is totally made up in my mind. Suddenly, I’m not sure why, my mind is open to seeing this distinction right now, and thus I am letting go of things I’ve had for years. 

A change in my thinking that is happening. I am in the mood to declutter my life – big time. Simplify it. As I get rid of things, it is becoming so clear that it really all about letting go. Emotionally and physically. Letting go of the past, thoughts of the future, or a false sense of security. Getting rid of things is making my mind feel less cluttered. Funny how that is happening. By letting go, I’m actually feeling a real sense of relief. I feel lighter.

Life has become so complicated. There are so many things to take care of, things to get done and endless chores, not to mention the bureaucracy and paperwork that you have to deal with from time to time. It is clutter, all of it. It is such a distraction from living and experiencing life. I guess my letting go of “things” is a way to get closer to the essence of living – to be present to life, real life, like nature and living things. It is so easy to let that fall by the wayside and end up with so many “things” and so little experiencing of life.

In the vein of my latest blog entries, I can relate this feeling to one of my songs. This one is from my latest CD, “The Ride”, and it is the song “Taking the Long Way Home”. It is one of two songs (so far) I have a music video for from the CD. It is an animation, and I created it myself. Perhaps this “bug” for getting rid of things and being more in tune with life started when I was writing songs for “The Ride”? It is definitely possible. I remember getting the idea for the song while driving home from my recording sessions. I always took a longer route with less traffic on it. It would take me about 15 minutes longer to get home this way, but it was stress free and I could actually enjoy the ride home and the sights along the way. I started to realize how much I was missing by wanting to just get where I’m going as quickly as possible. A full life includes appreciating the “insignificant” moments as well as the moments that seem important. I learned from my ride home each day, there really are no insignificant moments in life. There are only moments. And we can embrace them, give them weight, or ignore them. They all pass by no matter how we relate to them. And embracing them is embracing life.
Here is another look at “Taking the Long Way Home”. Enjoy!

 

 

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Peace At Last and Inspiration from Ingrid Bergman

As I’ve stated many times, I’m a sucker for a great quote. If you look through my older blog entries, I often ended them with a quote. I just ran across another quote – from another of my favorite actresses of all-time, Ingrid Bergman. She is someone who knew incredible success and extreme controversy. I believe she is one of the actors from Hollywood’s classic period who’s work is still modern today. If you don’t know her you should definitely check her out. The film, “Gaslight” is one of my personal favorites (and her first of three Academy Award winning roles). Here’s the quote by her:

IngridBergman
“Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.”
– Ingrid Bergman.

I love how simply she put the distinction between success and happiness, and I find her words to be so true. The goals I wanted to accomplish when I was younger were the basis of many decisions I made – life altering decisions. They were fueled by the mistaken thought that having them come true would bring happiness. Through the years some goals have come true and some have not, and what I’ve realized in the process is that they really have very little (if anything) to do with truly being happy. Accomplishing a goal can make you temporally happy, and even make you think you are something that you’re not. Not accomplishing a goal can have the same effect – without the happy part. However, I’ve learned that accepting what is in front of you – regardless if it is what you want or not – is the key to happiness. It is the key to finding peace. It is a concept I investigated on my fourth CD, “Peace At Last”. The title song is exactly about finding peace through accepting “what is”. The second verse of the song is as follows:

Spent my time as a means to an end
Now I’ve shed all I used to defend
I am one with the moment at hand
It’s the soil of my life’s sacred land

It is one of my most successful songs, and the orchestration was the inspiration for my latest CD, “The Ride”. If you haven’t heard the song “Peace At Last”, you can hear it below:

 

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Lonely Motel

I just heard a great quote, which I haven’t heard in a while, by the brilliant Oscar Wilde:

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

Perfectly said! I don’t know how many of us are raised to understand how difficult life is. I certainly wasn’t. Not that life was so easy for me growing up – it wasn’t. I never had a lot of friends and was picked on in school constantly which was very difficult, especially being a very sensitive kid. The kids at school were very cruel and I had a very hard time. However, even while that was happening, I pictured my life turning out great, and me being happy when I got older. In my dreams, it was always visions only of happiness. As I’ve lived more and more, I understand that there are periods in life of happiness, periods of sadness, moments of fear, and times of grief – and so on. That has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life – to accept all of it. As expressed throughout my latest CD, “The Ride”, I see that life is a journey with all type of feelings and situations included in the mix – each one just as valid and appropriate as the next.

Perhaps being sensitive is one of the reasons I’ve always loved sad songs – especially as a kid. They said the things I didn’t give myself permission to feel. They sing of the loneliness or the pain or disappointment I felt, but didn’t express. Hearing someone else sing about it – the way I felt it – took a little burden off my shoulders and let me know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. As a kid I remember hearing “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian, and even though she was singing about being a girl, I felt like the “ugly ducking” she sang about. I felt comfort from the song, and it let out some of the emotion I had bottled inside. I remember hearing Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” for the first time. It stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t breath. I bought it, and whenever I played it in private it would bring tears. I love sad songs. They are full of emotion and help dislodge feelings.

As a songwriter, I’ve only written a few completely sad songs. The one that immediately comes to mind is “Lonely Motel”, the only country song I’ve ever written or sang. It was released as a digital single only (since I didn’t think it fit on my CD at the time). I remember the concept of “checking in to a lonely motel” coming to me, and I knew at once – with those lyrics – it had to be a country song! A funny footnote about recording the song (which I still remember vividly) – I recorded the vocals while standing in a clothes closet! My producer at the time was in the process of moving his recording studio, and I recorded it in his house. The only place that was quiet enough with the right sound absorption was in a tiny closet full of clothes! So I stood there, with hanging clothes touching me in every direction, singing the song. I think somehow, it helped with interpreting the emotion of the lyrics. I’m very happy with how it came out. I love the orchestration and arrangement, and I’m often told it is one of the favorites of my songs by fans.

So for any of you who happen to be in a place where you feel you’ve given everything you have and nothing has worked out, here’s “Lonely Motel”:

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Dancing With the Stars – I Am Dancing!

I don’t watch much reality TV, but this season I heard Patti LaBelle was going to be on “Dancing With the Stars”. I’ve been a big fan of Patti’s for decades, seen her in concert a few times, and just love her, so I decided to watch the show. For those who have never seen it, the concept is simple: a famous star (who is not a dancer) is paired with a professional dancer, and each week they perform different dances (tango, rumba, waltz, modern, and so on) for four judges. Each week the couple with the lowest combined score (judge’s scores and viewer’s voting scores) goes home. They start with 12 stars at the beginning of the season, losing couples each week, until there is a winner 12 weeks later (I guess). Well we are now in week 10, about to start the semi-finals next week, and Miss Patti has already been eliminated (in week 5 or 6 I think) – but I’m still glued to the show!

I find “Dancing with the Stars” incredibly moving. The thing that surprises me about it, is that while everyone is dancing against everyone else, they are actually dancing against themselves. The real challenge for each of the stars is to personally grow each with, with each dance. They are given pointers and creative feedback on how to improve by the judges, and each star works hard to become the best dancer they can. It is very much about leaving behind all the doubts and thoughts we all have that hold us back. It is about expressing yourself and stepping into life. And dance, I’ve always thought, is the ultimate vehicle for expressing yourself.

It is pretty amazing to watch. Patti is 70, and still was moving and shaking on the floor with such infectious energy! And I’ve watched non dancers, like “The Bachelor”, Chris Soules, go from being clunky and stepping off the beat, to moving like a real dancer. Singer/actress Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) is one of the most graceful and stunning dancers I’ve seen. She is so gorgeous to watch dance. One of the most powerful couples on the show is Sergeant Noah Galloway (partnered with a dancer named Sharna). He lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee in his second tour of duty. It is nothing short of inspiring to watch him dance. Each week, he uses more and more of his body. I can’t believe how he lifts his partner and moves around the dance floor. It is nothing short of astonishing. A huge example of overcoming obstacles, and that we are capable of much much more than we think is possible. Here is one of his dances:

This show is so inspiring, and it makes me want to dance!

That brings me to a song from my “Peace At Last” CD, titled “I Am Dancing“. I didn’t write it for the show, but the theme of the song is very similar to the feelings I am getting from watching it. “I Am Dancing” is a song about finding one’s inner strength in the face of doubts and fears, and having that strength lead one though their life. I love this song. It too makes me want to dance! You can hear it by clicking the play button below.

Oh, and one little known fact: if there was one thing I would have loved to be that I’m not, it was a dancer!

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