The other day, I woke up feeling sad.
There was no clear reason I could pinpoint. I just felt low.
Contrary to my usual state, when this happens, it can feel confronting, jarring and uncomfortable.
I was deemed a “sensitive kid”. Many times adults told me to not let things “shake me to my core”. I have been labeled an “old soul” for as long as I can remember.
I remember when I realized I would go to college one day and that one day my parents would die. I sobbed.
I remember on the eve of my tenth birthday grieving the fact that I never again would be single digits.
I remember crying a lot because of a lot of things.
I remember being confused about why other people weren’t crying too.
Fast forward to the person I am today, this part of me is alive and well. It expresses differently and sometimes the same.
Sometimes it shows up as a random feeling with no real reason, like the...
Living in Chicago, many people are surprised to learn that I am a born and raised farm kid. I grew up in rural Michigan on a small sheep farm. Farm and music were the way of life for my family.
My mom grew up on what I would deem a “real” farm. This is thousands of acres and a full time operation. I spent a ton of time there growing up. It’s been passed down generation to generation, still a thriving and an even larger operation today.
I’m grateful for my childhood in farm culture. I spent my days barefoot in the dirt, I picked raspberries in the fields and I rode horses bareback with my cousins.
I drove tractors, spent summer Saturdays in the hay mow stacking bales and playing baseball on cow pastures on another farm down the lane.
I was up a 5am each day to feed the lambs. I remember laying in the snow petting my dog in the dark, watching them as they ate.
I put the lambs in the barn at night so they wouldn’t get...
Do you remember field trips? I do.
I remember being part of a gaggle of kids that piled into a school bus in the morning and going on an adventure. We would go in the same yellow school buses that I rode in on my way to and from school.
The places we went ranged from farms, to Cedar point, to museums and finally the big one for all kids who grew up in Michigan - the three day trip to Mackinaw Island in fourth grade! That one was not in a yellow school bus. We had a fancy upgrade to a bus with room for luggage and a bathroom!
All of these memories come to mind when I remember field trips from my youth and there’s one part I remember that I’ve been thinking about a lot: Permission slips.
Before you could receive the green light for a field trip as a kid, you would need a permission slip. This was a piece of paper that your parents signed that gave you the ok to go. It was required.
If you were like me, sometimes you foraged it the morning...
There’s something about walking on the same piece of earth that you’ve walked on your entire existence. There’s something about rocking in a chair that your great grandma held your Dad in as an infant. There’s something about returning to a sacred place of your lineage that echoes in the soul.
My family has a cottage in northern Michigan or “Up North” as Michiganders say. For those of you not in the Midwest or U.S., a Michigander is someone who was born and raised in the state of Michigan. And yes, it’s Michi - GAN - der with that hard nasal A!
This cottage has been in my family for generations. Stories are soaked into the wooden logs. My grandma breathes into the cards as we play cribbage on my great grandma’s cribbage board. I swim amidst the ashes of my grandma and drink out of my grandpa’s mug. I still trip on the same root I’ve been tripping on for 30 years.
There is something to behold when you...
Every day I ride my bike in traffic in one of America’s biggest major cities, Chicago. It’s great fun.
I get to go fast, move my body, feel the wind on my face and bonus - I don’t pay for parking! I love riding my bike anywhere and especially love riding here.
It wasn’t always this way. When I first moved to the city six years ago, I was terrified to ride in the street next to cars. I rode on the sidewalk until I learned it was illegal. Then I took to the streets. Shaking.
When I was first acclimating to traffic and being inches from buses on the move, an important person in my life gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
He said, “Just act like a car. It’s only when you act like you’re not supposed to be there that things happen.”
Coming from a lifelong city biker, I immediately implemented his advice, even though my nervous system was not at all on board.
How true it was and...
Six years ago I started meditating out of desperation and because numbers don’t lie.
I had crippling performance anxiety as a musician and I was desperate to gain command of my mind. I was face planting in auditions over and over again. My body would go into fight or flight, my fear based mind would take over and it was game over.
My heart was weary. I had tried beta blockers, a plethora of other variously scheduled substances and nothing was working. I couldn’t numb my way out of the block.
The numbers didn’t lie either. I was annoyed by that.
As someone who had been obsessed with personal development since high school, I couldn’t name one book that didn’t recommend meditation. Multiple performers and teachers were recommending meditation. My first coach brought up meditation. The data and the science were clear.
Just like looking at a bank account that stings - the numbers didn’t lie. I was annoyed and at the...
Last week I was sitting at the piano with a young person I’ve known for a very long time. He often hits me with insane wisdom and I immediately feel like the student in the room. This person is eight years old.
We were discussing hand position and of course, doing our many secret handshakes. After 15 months of none, we are determined to fill our quota!
He stopped and stared at the back of his hands. He said, “Why don’t we pay more attention to the back of our hands? Why does the other side of the hand get all the credit?”
I echoed back to him that what he said made a lot of sense. Especially in piano, we are constantly considering the finger pads and the part of the hand that connects with the keys. Not so much, the back of our hands.
He then went on in what can only be described as a channeling moment.
He said, “Our body doesn’t get as much credit as it should. Did you know it supports us all day in every part...
Every single person I’ve ever met has dreams.
There are things they want to do. There are things they believe in. There are things they want to create.
Whether it’s a dream as big as the sky or an intimate corner of their heart, there are things that they want to be, do and have in this life.
Most of these people with dreams never even start them. Whether it’s fear, avoidance, lack of belief, scarcity or a cocktail of those and more, a large amount of people never even take one step toward their desires. Big or small.
Somewhere along the way, they stop and block it before they have a chance to begin.
Some of these people do create the courage to start in the direction of their dreams. And then, they do not sustain it or see it through to completion.
These people get in the game and no matter how much they want it, they fall off. It becomes a distant memory and shrugged off as “Well, I tried.” Or “I just...
As someone who has been a classically trained musician since age four and in general obsessed with her growth and potential as a human, mentorship has been and will always be bread and butter in my life.
Growing up I had a private piano teacher, a batting coach, a pitching coach, a French horn teacher and swim coach. For most of my life, I’ve had at least three mentors, coaches or teachers at a time. Each is valuable and each served or is serving a powerful purpose.
In my early twenties when I was broke as a joke, I mowed my teachers’ lawns, transcribed lectures, babysat, and even once painted a whole porch in August heat in exchange for lessons and coaching. I did whatever I could to receive mentorship.
As I’ve aged and evolved, the type of coaches, teachers and mentors have changed. I now have mentors for specific skills and crafts. Other mentors of mine support me in my life holistically. These days I can invest monetarily rather than by...
Svadhaya is the Sanskrit word that literally means “self-study”. It’s part of the Niyamas in the tradition of yoga. The Niyamas are the laws of personal observance in the eight stages of yoga. Svadhaya is one part of a collection of laws and practices that are embodied through the Niyamas. Believe it or not, yoga is more than poses!
As a musician, self-study has been part of my life since I was four years old. However, I don’t know if I would describe it as Svadhaya until much later in my journey. Later like, a good twenty years later.
For most of my existence self-study was a painful scalpel I carved into myself as a musician and person. I had an unyielding ability to stare at my craft, find tiny imperfections and shift them toward excellence. The painful scalpel was largely created and stoked because I connected every blemish or “misstep” as a reflection of who I was as a person.
This painful scalpel was always with me. It...