Tag Archives: vocation

Words from Steve Jobs

This morning, CNN aired the whole of the commencement speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. His words were (are) inspiring, to say the very least. Here is an excerpt:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My particular “brick” was the hand injury of 2009 that eclipsed the mounting realization that I absolutely hated what I was doing for a living. I really had no choice but to make a change. And it’s scary. I wonder constantly if I am actually ever going to make a living doing this music thing. Yet, I have to believe that I am on the right path. I am finally doing what I love and I believe that I am doing great work. So, I am thankful for these inspiring words. We all need encouragement to keep going.

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Blogging in 2010

Thank you all for 2010!

WordPress.com just sent me an email reviewing my blog stats for 2010, along with an option to post this information to my blog. I decided, “what the heck?”, so the information is shown below. Thank you all for being a part of my blog community. It is because of you that I have these numbers. I plan to be just as busy on my blog in 2011, if not more so.

Have a terrific 2011 and see you soon!!

Kelly

WordPress Stats

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 74 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 54 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

Featured imageThe busiest day of the year was October 7th with 194 views. The most popular post that day was A dark night… and then a ray of light.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, kellycarpentermusic.com, networkedblogs.com, kelsongs.com, and cyberprmastermind.ning.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for bandcamp vs reverbnation, kelly carpenter blog, reverbnation vs bandcamp, ulnar neuritis, and music success in nine weeks.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

A dark night… and then a ray of light October 2010
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2

Optimize This! – Music Success in Nine Weeks, Week 3 July 2010
7 comments

3

About My Music May 2010

4

About Me January 2010
1 comment

5

Music Success in Nine Weeks? July 2010
10 comments

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Ways to Help Out: Get Viral!

Hopefully my title was intriguing and not off-putting. I would hate to scare people away with words like “get viral”. Notice I didn’t say “get a virus”. That would mean a totally different thing, of course. I heartily recommend avoiding all viruses, computer or otherwise. So, just to set the record straight, I am saying “no” to viruses and “yes” to virality. Is “virality” a word? Probably not. How about “viralses”? Or perhaps “virali”, although that last one sounds like a pasta noodle or a medication. So, having established my support for getting viral, with no clue how to turn that into a plural, I am getting around to what the heck I am talking about. Here it is:

Lately I have encountered quite a few people who I see only occasionally, and their greeting is accompanied by encouraging words like, “I have really been enjoying your blog posts.” or “I like the videos.” or “Digging your website.” It’s heartening to know that people are enjoying what I’m doing, and occasionally I’ll see a comment or a “like” on Facebook and I am encouraged by it. As most of you know, I am just starting out trying to do this music thing full time, and part of my business growth is propelled by spreading the word via social media about what I do.

If you want to get behind what I am doing there are some simple things you can do to help out: get viral!

What does it mean for something to go viral? Perhaps you remember the old saying: “Some people told someone and then those people told someone else and then those people in turn told someone, and so on and so on and so on”. You can help spread the word about what I am doing simply by sharing my posts, blogs, videos, invites, etc. on your profile. When you share something of mine to your profile, it becomes visible in your news feed which all of your friends see. If they in turn share it on their profile, it will in turn get shared on their news feed and become visible to their friends. This is called going “viral”. Here is a specific example:

Let’s say I post a video blog on YouTube and then share a link to it on my Facebook profile. This will show up in the news feed of some of my 600 or so Facebook friends. Let’s say you are one of those friends who see this on your news feed, you watch the video and enjoy it and then decide to share it on your profile with a comment like “This is something really cool that a friend of mine is doing. Go check it out.”. Suppose you have 600 friends, and your profile post shows up in some of their news feeds and they in turn share the video. Well, You get the idea. Let’s say that out of 600 friends, perhaps the post shows up in 100 news feeds*. And let’s say that 20 percent share the post with some encouraging comment like “love the video!”. Here’s the math:

  • Video shows up first in 100 of my friend’s news feed, and 20 share it to their profile with a nice word
  • The video now shows up in 2,000 of their friend’s news feeds (20 shares x 100), 20% of their friends share (400)
  • The video now shows up in 40,000 news feeds (400 x 100), 20% of those people share (8,000)
  • The video now shows up in how many news feeds?  _____ (hint: 8,000 x 100)

Now, here is the cool thing about this: Every person in this scenario only had to share the video once!

* Perhaps you’re wondering where the 100 comes in. Things that you post don’t show up in all of your friend’s news feeds. I’m not sure what the real percentage is, so I just pulled something out of the air, such as 100 out of 600. (Actual results may vary. Past performance is no guarantee of future earnings. All maneuvers performed on a closed track with professional stunt drivers. “Virali” is not for everyone. Although rare, tell your doctor if any of these serious side effects occur: bleeding, rashes, bleeding from rashes, severe muscle and joint pain, an unresistable urge to sing songs from “Phantom of the Opera” in supermarkets, trouble breathing, coma, or death.)

So this is how you can help me out and “spread the love”. Perhaps you are thinking of sharing this blog post (do it) or the following video (yeah, do that too!) or the following fan list signup (where people get a link to a free song emailed to them).

Thanks for your support!!

Here’s my latest video which shows outtakes from my recording session in Canada:

If you click on the “YouTube” button, it will take you to YouTube and you can then Share to your facebook profile.

Here is a song download widget you can share right here to Facebook, and your friends can share, and so on:

And finally, you can click on the “Share this” Facebook link below to share this blog post.

Cheers and thanks for sharing (and caring)!

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Music Success In Nine Weeks? – A Retrospective

Is it possible to achieve music success in nine weeks? Really? It seems too good to be true. But it all depends on what you mean by “success”. Does success mean that I’ve “made it”? In my case, no—at least not in the sense that I am making a steady living from music. But one has to consider where I started from when I started the course and where I am now, and I can definitely say that I am well on my way.

I just went back to read my very first blog post when starting this program. Here are excerpts from that first post to give you an idea where I started from.

With fear and trepidation I am jumping off the cliff. The cliff represents the safety of all my self-doubts about my ability to “make it” in a music career. The cliff represents all of the reasons why I haven’t done this before and why I now can’t do anything else. “Jump and the net will appear” so the saying goes. I guess I believe it, but I won’t really prove I believe it unless I jump.

My cliff, to (hopefully) make a long story short: I am in my 50’s. I have always wanted to make music my career. But due to my pragmatic nature, I went back to college in my early 20’s and got a “real job”. While I made a comfortable living, I still did music on the side. I got involved in contemporary worship music in the 90’s and I got several songs published. One of those, “Draw Me Close” has done very, has been sung around the world by millions, has been recorded by the likes of John Tesh and Michael W. Smith, and is now considered a worship “classic”. I’m not making this stuff up. I have been SO blessed by this success.

After the turn ‘o’ the century, I recorded a piano instrumental entitled “Draw Me Close”. (Shameless exploitation of the success of my hit song or just being a smart business person? You decide.) I had some early success—selling out my first batch of 1,000—and people love the CD. But sales the last few years have slowed to a trickle. I totally want to do another one, but without proper promotion, I have been hesitant to put the money in.

A recent hand injury forced me to leave my comfy career in computer programming. I can still play piano without too much discomfort, but typing away at a computer keyboard all day long is no longer an option. So off the cliff I go…

So that’s where I’ve started from. My goal is to build up a career performing and recording instrumental music. But currently, I barely gig much at all and I only have the CD that I recorded nine years ago to offer as merchandise. I feel like I’m starting from the very beginning.

Music success in nine weeks? Have I “made” it? Not yet. One can’t expect miracles when starting with very little. But I am much further along to making headway in the current environment. Consider what I have accomplished through the steps in Ariel’s book:

  • I now have clear goals of what I want to achieve
  • I can now clearly articulate in a couple of sentences what type of music I do
  • I now have a central website focusing on my performing and recording career
  • I am now giving away some songs for free to lure people to my site
  • I am now making sense of Twitter, using it more effectively, and truly feeling a part of the global community of artists, musicians, writers, and music industry people.
  • I am now learning how to engage the global community of bloggers by listening to what others have to say and finding my own voice in the conversation.
  • I have sent out my very first newsletter and am committed to sending one out every month or two. And I achieved over a 50% open rate!
  • I now have a system in place to grow my mailing list, and it is growing! In fact, 400% in the last two weeks!
  • Just three weeks ago, I had three wonderful opportunities to practice real live networking. Utilizing the advice in the book, I made myself memorable in my interactions and have discovered a thriving, local wine industry which has great potential for marketing my music. And… I played my first winery gig last weekend!
  • After nine years of no new music, I have been so encouraged by my progress that I’m going into the studio to record a new CD in about 10 days, and I am developing a continuum strategy around the release later this fall.
  • Prior to this, I really didn’t have a clue about what to do or where to begin. Although I knew the importance of leveraging social media, I felt completely overwhelmed by it.

Now I have a vision and I have tools. Employing the principles of regular and consistent communication with my fan base lets them know that I am serious and committed to this. They know I’m “all in”. And they have been very encouraging to me. I now have a few “true fans”.

But even more importantly than people knowing that I am committed, this process has served to help me over a psychological hurdle: That I have a voice and people are genuinely interested in what I have to offer.

Considering where I started from and where I am now, this sure feels like success to me.

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Monday

I woke up today at 4:30 AM. I’m not a morning person by nature, but lately, I have been waking up pretty darn early. “Why”, you may ask, “not-so-morning-person Kelly, are you waking up so dang early?” You may not have asked this particular question and/or are just blissfully non-curious. That’s okay. It helps me to think of this blogging thing as a two-way conversation, and since I have no idea what you are thinking, I’m just making stuff up, pretending that you are grossly interested in my life and have all sorts of questions for me. For instance, you may wonder “Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?” Probably not. But it makes me wonder what inspired Hal David to come up with that line. Perhaps he was hanging out on the back deck of one of his multi-million-dollar mansions and was sitting next to a bird feeder. Can you imagine how freakin’ rich Burt Bacharach and Hal David are? Boggles the imagination, it does.

So back to my grossly interesting story, I wake up at 4:30 AM this very morning with my mind racing due to anxiety. Anxiety as in “how the heck am I going to make a living doing this music thing?” (I mean, this is pretty freakin’ scary if I let the anxiety overtake me.) Yesterday, I was musing about all this out loud to my sweetheart, “Yeah, I have a lot of anxiety and this is going to take a LOT of work, and it’s scary, BUT I wouldn’t trade this for a second to be back on the 27th floor of an office tower, sitting behind a computer, suffering through meetings, and generally despairing of life.”

The byline of this blog is, after all, “A journal about life interrupted and a new coming of age.” Change is HARD. But change is also GOOD. I have been through a very intense few months of change and growth. The blog challenge is just what I needed and I see all the work that I put into it starting to bear fruit. I’ll go into more detail in a subsequent blog post.

I am challenging myself to be less of a perfectionist in my blog posts and try to keep the time I spend on them down to a half an hour. I’m almost there. By the way, I woke up at 4:30 AM to a house with NO COFFEE. So here I am at Starbucks in downtown Woodinville, enjoying a cup of their bold blend. I am so totally addicted to their ham “artisan sandwich”, so I have wolfed one of those down instead of having something healthy like oatmeal. Maybe I’ll have oatmeal for lunch when I’m back at home. (Probably not.)

I don’t know about other parts of the country, but here in the Northwest it’s amazing how many Starbucks you can find per square inch.

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Why My Head Hurts – Music Success in Nine Weeks, Midpoint Check-in

Have you ever driven down the road in your car and all of a sudden you notice a certain smell? I know what you’re thinking: Perhaps you are driving through farm country, notice that unmistakable manure aroma, and then blame the smell on your loved one riding shotgun, as in “oh, honey!”?

No, as hilarious as that sounds, (and I am guffawing all over myself right now), that is NOT what I meant. What I mean is something that smells electrical. You all know what I’m talking about: Something electrical is burning and that usually is not good. Just like when you notice things sparking and smoking out of a wall socket. Not good. Not good at all.

This of course is all metaphor. Surprise, surprise. Would you expect anything else from me? (Assuming you have been following along.) Just to make it really clear, I titled this post “Why My Head Hurts”. Subtle, don’t you think?

You may ask me, “Hey, Kelly. Why does your head hurt? Have you not had enough coffee?” And this is a valid question, given my prediliction for caffeine overkill. No, believe you me, I have tried coffee. My head hurts because I am trying to cram in a large amount of information in a small amount of time. This Music Success in Nine Weeks stuff is a crash course.

I am right in the middle of Week 5 learning about all the benefits of being a blogging maniac. I can now add blogs, blog readers, aggregators, and all of its other related web thingies onto the pile of all the other wonderful Web 2.0 gizmos and thingamajiggets.

I decided that at the mid-point of this frenetic pace, it might help if I diagrammed all of the interweb doohickies and fumbuzzles that represent my current web empire. I did this on a nice little whiteboard and then captured it on my smartphone. Is not technology simply amazing? As you muse upon my diagram, perhaps you will get an idea of why my head hurts. Look at all the stuff I have to keep track of!

Don’t get me wrong. I am SO not complaining. Now that the synapsies are starting to get all hooked together, I have a few salient points to make:

  • Salient point number one: It is no longer just enough to be an artist. You have to learn the business.
  • Salient point number two: You will need to spend more of your time marketing and promoting and making yourself VISIBLE than working on your art. We’re talking tough love now baby!
  • Salient point number three: To be VISIBLE in WebbyWorld you have to be UBIQUITOUS. That means bloggies, tweetsies, statuses (or is it “stati”?), face this, space that, podcasts, playlists, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…
  • Salient point number four: Salient point under construction… please stand by… Oh yeah: You’re going to have to do ALL of this community building stuff on a daily basis to keep in the game. There be no idling, maties.
  • Salient point number five: It is extremely helpful–crucial even–to have a road map. This Music Success in Nine Weeks is just such a road map. Thank you, thank you.

Enough salient points for now. (What does “salient” mean, anyway? I think it sounds cool and articulate.)

So, now that I have at least made a diagram of all the fiefs in my kingdom, I understand why I’m smelling something electrical burning. But, strangely enough, my head hurts less now that I can visualize it better. I’m getting a clearer picture of all the things I need to do and keep track of in order to build my business. Just gotta do it. Get ‘er done.

In a desire to help others on the journey, I have made a partial list of what sorts of things need to be set up. This is review material for those going through the book, but it might be good to look at it all in one place:

  • Your main website, be this on Bandzoogle, HostBaby, or custom
  • A social media professional presence: Facebook band/musician page (different than your profile page), Myspace music page, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Frequent status updates via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc
  • Playlists of your songs, managed by Reverbnation, Bandcamp, Myspace Music, HostBaby, Bandzoogle, etc.
  • Fan and mailing list management, Reverbnation, Bandcamp, etc.
  • A store to release and sell your stuff and a means to receive payment, meaning PayPal set up for micropayments, and stores such as Reverbnation, Bandzoogle, Bandcamp, CDBaby, Tunecore.
  • Blogging activity, such as keeping your own blog, subscribing to other’s blogs (GoogleReader), commenting on others posts
  • Photojournalism, via your smartphone, then uploading to Flickr via Twitter or some other service
  • Videojournalism, video blogging, posting on YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr, etc.
  • Inserting links to all of this activity into Facebook, MySpace, your website, etc.

This is a lot to do, each service requiring its own account setup, and I haven’t even mentioned making time for making music. So, the journey continues. Even with the occasional electrical and farm animal smells…

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Life’s A Pitch: Music Success in Nine Weeks – Week 2

Well now I’ve got me a head full ‘o’ goals and plans, the train has left the station, it’s barreling down the track… This “week” I attempt to answer the existential question that has challenged all men and women from the dawn of time: Who am I?

Who am I, indeed? Who is this artist named Kelly Carpenter? What does me do? What is so distinctive and compelling about my act that someone would want to be my fan? Hence the need to figure out how to best present myself in the form of a “15-second pitch”.

Coming up with ideas for a 15-second pitch is just the sort of thing that brings out the incurable silly goofball pumpkin head boy in me. It reminds me of when I would sit around with my fellow muscians and try to come up with name for our band, suggesting at least five stupid and outrageous ideas for every serious one. Names like “The Oozing Sores”, “Butt Pimple”, “The Meatles” and “Molly Ringworm” never cease to be funny if you are a guy. I always wanted to name a band “Plankton on Parade”. I imagined a cartoon image of plankton easin’ on down the road much like the classic “Keep On Truckin'” poster of the early 70’s. I actually never knew what plankton looked like.

So in the same spirit of recklessness I get to describe what my music sounds like. I can have fun with this…

First I have to start with who my music sounds like. That’s a tough one. I have very little clue who to compare it to. My instrumental music most likely falls in the broad genre of “new age” piano. But I never listened to new age music, so I was never influenced by it. It’s only after I developed my style that I started noticing other artists who did similar things. One was an acquaintance of mine, Michael Gettel, a Narada recording artist who later covered one of my songs. And I checked out some of the early Windham Hill artists like David Lanz, George Winston, Philip Glass, but only a little of their work sounded like mine. And then David Lanz eventually went over to the dark side and started doing smooth jazz. (I know. Everyone needs to make a living.)

Because there is a jazzy country element to my music, an early draft of my pitch was “If men could get pregnant and David Lanz had Bruce Hornsby’s love child.”

What about Jim Brickman? Well, I’m no Jim Brickman (or Brickwoman either for that matter, this is no time to be sexist). Like so many of the other solo pianists out there, Brickman sounds too classical. (I am not classical.) Yanni? I dont’ think so (although I would kill for a full head of hair). After some sleuthing on iTunes and Amazon, I discovered that I sound vaguely similar to Kevin Kern, but how many people have heard of Kevin Kern? It’s not like he is a household name.

For lack of a better famous person, I am starting with Jim Brickman, but you’ll have to imagine a very laid back Jim Brickman. For the jazz side, I was influenced a lot by Dave Grusin. There is a touch of Americana and Country and Gospel that sounds a bit like Matt Rollings (as a session player) or the aforementioned Bruce Hornsby. So I will go with the latter as I’m not sure many people know who Matt Rollings is. I most resemble Hornsby’s piano work on Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.

So how’s this? “Imagine Jim Brickman, Dave Grusin, and Bruce Hornsby in a Vulcan mind meld after taking a bunch of qualludes.”

And then there is the matter of what type of mood my music evokes. People say it’s soothing, relaxing, meditative and some say it puts them to sleep (in a good way). How’s this for a pitch: “Warning: Use caution while operating a motor vehicle or using heavy equipment.” My wife and I have often joked about putting this warning on my CDs.

So how to package all this into a (serious) 15-second pitch?

* * * * * * *

I wrote all of the above bla bla bla last Friday. Now it is Tuesday. I have been up in Canada since Saturday participating in a music event. I finally found an internet connection and power. (The battery is dying on this Dell.) So I have a chance to chew on this for awhile. (Like chewing on cud, but different.)

I am still restling with this 15-second pitch. I will be splashing this all over my websites and any printed material. Very important. I want to get it right, of course. One key factor is that my music has evolved since the last instrumental I produced nine years ago. That recording was mostly piano with a bit of guitar and percussion. The next recording is going to be all that but more of a downtempo chill sort of thing but not like what you would usually hear in this genre. How to best represent something that I have been yet what I will be. How do I be true to both, how do I describe where I’m going when I don’t have the next project finished yet?

I have decided to best represent where I’m going with my instrumental music. And here is what I have most likely settled on. Let me know what you think:

“Piano chill with splashes of jazz and Americana, like if Jim Brickman got together with Dave Grusin and Bruce Hornsby at the beach to watch the sunset.”

Peanut gallery, what say ye?

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Picture Day

Yesterday, Nigel Burnett and I hung out most of the day. He brought along a camera and a few lenses. I brought my person and a few changes of shirts. The objective of our outing was to take many, many,  (as in hundreds of) photos of me in order to eventually select a few that would be suitable for various PR purposes in my fledgling music enterprises. I am horribly self-conscious about having photos taken of me, but I suppose most people feel that way about themselves too.

Nigel is the son of one of our closest all-time best friends, Scott and Hilary Burnett. We have known these elder Burnetts for over 26 years. We remember when Scott and Hilary were trying to come up with names for Nigel before Nigel was Nigel, back in the days when you didn’t know if you were going to get a boy or a girl until the day of his or her birth. It makes me think that I sound real old just writing that. Kind of like me writing that I remember when they invented paper towels or when McDonalds had an ad on television boasting how you could buy a whole meal at McDonalds and still get change back from your dollar.

But I digress. (You think?) I love the fact that there are really no rules in blogging, as in I can just go down any old rabbit trail my fingers carry me. Just call me “Rabbit Fingers”.

But back to the photo shoot. I had seen a few of Nigel’s photos on Facebook and could tell that he just has “the eye”. I also needed some ideas of what to wear for the photos for the “professional” look so I consulted the family fashion advisor, Hilary Burnett. The whole Burnett family is artsy and creative. (Scott and I have co-written music for years.) What fun!

I wanted to get some pictures around a piano so we went to University Presbyterian Church where Scott is the Worship and Arts Director. It’s a huge church and there are lots of places to go lurking about to find the right light and shade. They also have at least half a dozen pianos and we found one room where all this light comes down through the skylight. We also loitered around some stairwells.

Speaking of loitering. Unfortunately this church, which is in the heart of the university district, just recently had to implement a new policy where they won’t let vagrants loiter in or about the building. Apparently some had become aggressive and threatening and all it takes are a few bad apples to spoil the whole lot. It’s too bad, the church wants to help out people in need, but also has to balance safety for those who conduct business there. The situation is heart wrenching.

A few times, Nigel and I would encounter some raised eyebrows and I would assure them that we were not vagrants and that our presence was indeed sanctioned.

We finally tired of the church setting and went to my favorite Seattle neighborhood: Fremont. It was well past lunch, so we each had a pint and a plate of fish and chips at the Red Door. Great food! Then we lurked about various alleyways to get some street shots. We especially got some good ones outside Theo Chocolates which is this cool brick building. And they have killer chocolate.

So, all in all, a very good outing. We got some good pictures and it was great to hang out with Nigel and get to know him a little better. Thanks Nigel!

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Balance

I have been rereading Stephen R. Lawhead’s “Empyrion” series. (It’s a two-book series, not sure how to refer to that, probably not a “dilogy”.) Lawhead is best known for writing fantasies and historical fiction, all laced through with Celtic lore. He also wrote a little science fiction.

Empyrion is the story of a planet colonized by Earth. The main protagonist of the story, Orion Treet, sets out from Earth to visit the colony that was established a few years before the story begins. When he arrives, he discovers that he is 3,000 years into the future. (Due no doubt to the crazy things that happen when you travel via wormholes–you know what I’m talking about.)

He discovers two societies have developed over the millenia. One, referred to as Dome, is an agoraphobic, paranoid and evil place of darkness, a society that has developed inside an immense dome (think “Truman Show”), shutting out the rest of the planet, using fear and violence to subjugate the population.

The other society, Fierra, is just the opposite. People at peace with themselves, their creator, and all of the riches of the planet. No poverty, war, disease. Complete freedom. Pain? Of course. In, fact their society at one time had been obliterated by the inhabitants of Dome. But they rebuilt their society, responding to pain with grace, a refusal to make war, rejecting the concept of retaliation, no longer “an eye for an eye”. A wonderful vision of what life could be if we let go of our fear, our aggression. I see it as a picture of what some of us refer to as the kingdom of God.

All of this is backstory to what I am blogging about…

In the story, one of the protagonists is being instructed in the arts. Her instructor explains the importance of balance:

Do you see it? Balance! As in life, all elements are equally important. It is self-evident: Exclude one and the work is flawed. Without the physical, there is no substance; without the emotional, it has no heart; without the mind, it has no direction; and without the spiritual, the work has no soul. All elements are necessary. All must be maintained in balance.

I love how this sets the tone for this new season in my life, my new venture.

There are things that I have to do. Practical things. Physical. I need to use the computer, play my instruments, attend to physical self-care by taking walks. I have mentioned before that a mantra for me is “Do what you love.” to which I have added: “And love doing it.” The former is my intention, but the latter must be what puts the wind in my sails. It has to come from the heart. I also need to work my art with skill and intelligence. Songs must have form. Melody and harmony must have pitch, rhythm and orchestration.

Body, heart, mind, and finally: soul. What I have to give is a gift given to me by the Creator. In order to touch others, to serve, to bless, to love, I simply need to let go my own agenda and take the creative gifts given to me and make something beautiful and inspired. I must sculpt using only heavenly clay. I can’t do this out of my own strength, emotion, and intellect–well I suppose I could, but it wouldn’t be of any lasting value; it wouldn’t transcend.

To create from the Center, in perfect balance, in love: that is how I want to live. As a good friend of mine says: “Let the kingdom come!”

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Hope

I’m sitting here on the ferry between Edmonds and Kingston, on my way to see my parents and to take them to the doctor, the post office, grocery store, etc. It’s a blustery day, sun breaking through the clouds, the sea choppy, the ferry pitching back and forth.

I’m noticing. Attentive. Smelling the roses, so to speak.

Yes, I’m often stressed and freaked out about all the changes, all the transition. The deep aging of my parents. The start of a new career. How the heck am I going to build a business, be successful, thrive, survive financially? What kind of income can I realistically expect over the next month, quarter, year?

These questions gnaw at me, for sure. But I could be sitting in a cubicle in an office building, staring at the computer, working my fingers toward permanent nerve damage. Or sitting in meeting after meeting, discussing subject matter I couldn’t possibly care less about. Watching my life slip further by. Slipping, falling, nosediving deeper into perpetual burnout, wondering why I had made choices to live this way. All in the name of economic “security”, which for me at least, became a code word for fear.

It has been a year since I injured my hand. I had no choice but to leave the safe, secure, yet suffocating occupation behind.

Instead, I sit here on the ferry. Noticing. Paying attention to life. The boat is rocking to and fro. I go to serve my parents today. I have the freedom now to bless and serve them. I have the freedom to bless and serve my wife, Merrilyn, who is going through a difficult time at work right now, just by being home for her and holding down the fort.

I am alive today, although I could use a little coffee right now.

Stress? Fear? Yes. I wonder how I’m going to make a living, but I now get to do something I love, something I have passion for. My success depends on a lot of hard work and a lot of help from above.

Yeah, I’m freaking out a little from time to time. But there is something else that I haven’t felt in a long time. I now have hope.

Thank you Lord for the wake-up call.

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