Celebrating Arts, Music, and Light in My Hometown

lakelights

As a poet and writer living in a small community, it feeds my soul to know other creatives are coming together and sharing their work and love with my hometown. I know some of the good folks behind the project, and they shine. Whether you live near or far, come join us. We are all creatives. xo

Follow this link to learn more:

https://lakelightsfestival.wordpress.com/

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Renaissance, A Poem in Two Parts

Emblème de la Maison Stéphane Plassier

Emblème de la Maison Stéphane Plassier

I. Baby Teeth

Who you were isn’t a loss

it’s a noise in the dark

from the boxes of photos under your bed.

You were always a cagey one,

tying grievances into a hangman’s knot

and stepping off the platform

with a little smile and vacancy

written on the palm of your hand.

A catchphrase that meant you were safe

as long as you were

silent.

So last night a crow came to your door

and left you a ring of baby teeth

that smelled like oranges and lye

and you cut your hair

tying unkempt strands in a bow

singing the song you made up

when he told you life was hell.

Singing

this will be different.

Oh girl, that one thing was the only thing

that wasn’t a lie.

II. Sky and Water

You are made of glass and volcanic ash.

I am weightless as the snow

caught in a child’s eyelashes.

You are old and your bones

tell you stories about the man

you wanted to be

until the lies are better suited

to your purloined ego

than the truth.

I am beyond your reach

though you tell yourself I dangle

on your string.

I am light years away

speaking in tongues,

learning from Buddhist monks.

I am not made from you.

I travel long because the stars

are my home.

I am an astronaut.

I can’t breathe your shallow waters.

I am a mermaid.

5 Things Amanda Palmer Taught Me About Success

If you asked my husband who I would invite to one of those hypothetical dream dinners people talk about, he would tell you, without hesitation, “That Amanda Palmer chick.” He knows her music from the first note and may be able to quote from her TED Talk, The Art of Asking. I first became a fan of hers through the talk, but quickly discovered her music and followed her blog. What drew me to her is the simple fact that like me, she’s a storyteller. Palmer’s narratives involve heroes, victims, survivors, the LGBT community, sexuality, the tragedy and grace of life, and self-discovery. Her stories, her truths may seem radical to many, but for me they opened doors to redefining my perceptions and believing in the person that I am today.

Amanda Palmer’s success is unconventional and, well, magnificent. Her use of crowd funding is legendary- maybe Ellen broke Twitter, but Palmer broke Kickstart when 25k fans pledged $1.2 million to launch her latest album. Within forty-eight hours of announcing her latest endeavor via Patreon, 2,200 patrons pledged $20,000 per thing(new music, podcasts, and videos). But her real success stems from her genuine interest in having a dialogue with her audience.

I’ve spent the last few months thinking about my goals- what I really want from my career as a writer. I believe in studying the masters, and yes, Amanda Fucking Palmer is a master. No matter if you’re coming here as a writer, an artist, a musician, or an entrepreneur, here are a few takeaways from Palmer’s narrative:

1. Make your own definition of success

Palmer doesn’t think in term of dollar signs. Her priorities are clear- art and audience over commercialism. She understands what drives her and alters her path if need be. Take the initiative to define what motivates you in your deepest heart and stay focused there, instead of what the norm might tell you success looks like. What happens is you produce authentic work that connects with your intended audience.

2. Ask for what you want.

Palmer is a revolutionary at asking for what she wants/needs. She started as a busker and later asked fans for couches to crash on while she toured. In her book, The Art of Asking, she explores what it means to ask for help in her personal life as well as accepting donations from fans. Every one of us needs a support system to succeed. It’s fucking hard asking for help, I get it. But sometimes the only way to get encouragement, support, or even for someone to hold you accountable, is to hold your hand out, look them in the eye, and tell them you need your help.

3. Be vulnerable.

If you listen to Palmer’s music- which you should- you will discover an uncommon bravery. There is no doubt she exposes how she sees the world with each song. She opens up about her personal life in her blog and social media. She’s known for her nudity, but this is an expression of trusting her audience. I’m not saying you have to expose yourself in public, but strip away social norms and assumptions to reveal your truth.

4. Take a stand.

Palmer has her share of critics, but there’s never a question of her principles, or where her integrity lies. From pubic hair and feminism, to sharing her thoughts about Miley Cyrus, this woman pulls no punches. And she does so with grace and candor. She owns who she is. Taking a stand isn’t about what the world can do for you, but what you have to give. Your voice, your purpose, and your worldview.

5. Tell the comfort zone to fuck off.

I’ll be frank- the first time I saw AFP, I was baffled by her appearance and her message. I live deep in the heart of the Midwest, and though I’m a rabid fan of David Bowie and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, her fanciful eyebrows and pit hair made me, um, uncomfortable. She made me stretch my boundaries and rethink my preconceptions about being a woman and pop culture. “We Are The Media,” she says. Our job as creatives is to explore boundaries and social commentary with the audience. Take a flying leap and put the power where it belongs- in the hands of your audience.

Many thanks to Jamie Raintree for inspiring this piece with her own on Taylor Swift (yes, I finally admit I am a Swift fan. Not a Swiftie, but a fan). Check out 5 Things Taylor Swift Taught Me About Success.

Is there an artist or entrepreneur that inspires your path to success?

Bonus introduction to one of my favorite tunes from AFP:

Assumptions

WIN_20150224_133715 (2)From my journal:
I live my life based on assumptions.

And that is a chilling way to live. Think about it. Assumptions are idle, lazy things. They don’t even care enough to own up to the fact that they are mostly composed of lies. We blink in their face and they blow smoke in our eyes and up our asses. Like politicians, we too readily accept them at face value and never hold them accountable when things go wrong.

After I wrote this, I wanted to know why I had come to this conclusion and how it was such a destructive force in my life. Assumptions are the white lies we tell ourselves to get from one day to the next. They nestle us in our comfort zones and drain pleasure from the people and things we value. And, if you’re like me, they go unnoticed most of the time.

At the end of a little introspection, I came up with three ways hidden assumptions affect me and possible courses of action I can take to make some serious positive changes.

1. I keep asking the same questions.

All of my self-doubts were the same old questions buzzing around my head for months. I kept looking for new ways to approach these doubts and questions instead of realizing I was asking the wrong questions to begin with. Plan of action: Focus on brainstorming different ways of looking at dilemmas. Instead of meditating on my options (which freezes me into complete lack of any action),decide on a course of action and go through with it.

2. Even after experience has taught me otherwise, I’m afraid to be vulnerable around people and tend to say what I think others want to hear instead of standing ground on my beliefs or feelings.

I always assume the best about others and the worst about myself. I’m that person who rehashes conversations months old and winces because I told a lame joke or shared something intimate about myself. I assume others have richer, far more complex inner lives and in turn I am petty. Whacky, I know. But honest. Plan of action: Assume everyone is as petty as I am. Kidding. My plan is to send an unexpected note to a friend. The point is to take the focus from myself and do something for someone else with no expectations.

3. I’ve become too content.

Up in the air has become my comfort zone. I secretly assume that since I have a loving husband, great kids, and we pay a mortgage that my life is better than I deserve and this assumption leads me to fear that making any changes will cause it all to vanish. Don’t rock the boat, baby. That old trick. Plan of action: Well, crap. No day but today, right? Do one thing different. Edit and submit that story I’ve been sitting on. Make a date to go to the local coffee shop with a pen and a notebook.

Any thoughts or insights on the hidden dangers of assumptions? Comment below.

Earthbound, A Poem

image via "Michael Maier Atalanta Fugiens Emblem 45" by Michael Maier

image via “Michael Maier Atalanta Fugiens Emblem 45” by Michael Maier

You told me you’re no more

than the silence where dark

meets ice the satellite earthbound. Your eyes no longer burn

and the tangled branches of your memory catch the snow

falling light that made you turn from time

and the beating of thoughts rigid.

Knowing their gaze averts

laying pity aside like a dead leaf unavoidable.

When it is you only want the wanting of a voice

or to dance

as pain bears you rest in hours long and grieving.

I let words slide like a blanket across my feet so right

(and the right words are unkind)

but too heavy to be the gift you needed.

It touches me still and I wake, too, tangled

in damp sheets of blank paper trying

to find the cool spot of comfort.

I am no air no gird or the weightlessness required

by a satellite earthbound in the brief quiet of a winter eve.

I can’t pull back the threads or count

vapors backwards by number. I am prescient clumsy. Wanting the need

to never stop hushing myself when into the stillness

I sing hearing the four-beats of a waltz ended.

Unseeing the white shrouds over tenants of names

memory does not forget but averts its gaze,

not with pity, but in languor.

As beauty slumbers deep in a dream of satellites earthbound.