Crow's nests as primary art forms

 

Two days ago a guy said to me that he is not creative at all and that he has no creativity.

He works in a technical sales field.

I told him that I think every human being is creative.

Crows are creative, for God's sake.

Have you ever read about how crows like bright colored things or sparkling things?

I've seen crows nests that break my heart with their creativity; a bit of tinsel from someone's alley Christmas tree or some bright colored thread woven in, a metal key tucked down in the center.

 When you get dressed you make choices, or even if you wear the same thing every day, you made choices when you went to buy those things. If your job requires a uniform then you are even more creative when you're off duty because you could wear literally anything in the world during your off times. Whether you choose to wear a Grateful Dead t shirt or a pressed blue dress shirt with your jeans, not to mention what sort of jeans, you are creatively making a personal statement.

You can't hide from the necessity to be creative for survival.

When you eat, what you eat, how you eat crosslegged on the ground or high on a bar stool, you are creating your reality from sheer personal freedom.

The bird's nest is a primary art form but also it's a utilitarian construct.

Setting up your first apartment is an exercise in creative use of space, limited finances, limited materials. To make yourself feel comfortable and happy takes creative energy.

Okay so I think the guy was wrong about his way of thinking of himself, but also, because he thinks of himself that way, he may be overlooking opportunities that come to him to be more creative.

I think of the Tarot card of the guy crosslegged on the ground pouting over the cups he has in front of him. He's disappointed and bored. A magical hand is offering him another cup but he's so glum that he can't see the gift being offered.

To me this is what creativity is.

It's a gift given to you every day every minute to be used in how you deal with every single situation from your food, clothing, and shelter, to your interactions with children and adults, to how you spend your free time.

Not exercising your creative choices or not being aware that you have them will make you frustrated and sad.

Also, and more importantly, there are more satisfying and less satisfying ways to be creative.

It's creative to go to a flea market and make personal choices, purchasing things that you think reflect your values. That's a way of using your creativity. 

It's also creative to sit down and write a letter to someone you love.

It's also creative to try to make the letter have lines that rhyme.

It's also creative to try to make up a tune that goes with the lines.

It's also creative to decide to go sing what you wrote to the person you love.

 Here's the guy who's pouting about how life is no fun and how he has no good options.

This is from Tarot.com:

Four of Cups

Four of Cups

The Four of Cups refers to a restless time, when you have become dissatisfied with life and disappointed with where you now sit. Feeling stagnant and longing for change, your heart is questioning its options, and you may find yourself pulling away from the world. When the Four of Cups comes up in your Tarot reading, beware becoming so self-absorbed and ungrateful that you cannot even see the joyful opportunities that are right in front of you. A more open outlook can change everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The porch is ready for creative discussions

The front porch is ready for creative conversations.

A friend is coming this evening to help me break it in.

We're going to light all the candles and sit out talking until it gets too chilly.

It's Rob's front porch so Rob will undoubtedly join in at some point as well, but he keeps long late hours at the recording studio so we never know when we'll see him.

I like that I have some free time coming up the next few weeks and I plan to sit on this porch rain or shine and finish editing my manuscript for book two in my "Sidney" series.

I will also be summoning the spirit with an acoustic guitar and a songwriting notebook from time to time in hopes of making a new acoustic album this year.

I am also taking maybe two or three new artist consult clients over the summer.

I charge $50 an hour and you can come sit on the porch and work on your prose, poetry, songwriting, or music business questions with me. Day or evening, weekdays or weekends.

I have a license to teach high school creative writing and literature in Minnesota, and many great references, and my clients range from age 15-80.

The porch will hopefully still be getting a new rug, three hanging baskets, and possibly a canvas curtain that can be drawn across the far end to shelter from windy days.

So far so good though.

Summer, here we come!

My health insurance experience yesterday

I went to a state office yesterday. Going to state run public service offices is like going to the dentist for me. No fun.

But what a wonderful experience I had!

First, which I considered a very bad sign, I had called these people on the phone to ask why my application was being rejected on their website.

The person on the phone asked me a lot of questions, the last being whether I had "Windows" or whether I was working from "an Apple product". I said I have an Apple laptop, but that it's only two years old and I never have trouble working on line with it.

She said that the state run website for applying for health insurance is not "Apple friendly" and works best with Windows. She advised I make an appointment, come in to her office, and apply on line with her help on her office computer.

Wow. Well, here we go. 

So I went in yesterday. There were some people ahead of me finishing their appointments. None of them spoke English as their first language and none of them looked like they were prospering in their current circumstances.

I had a happy hour show and had to be at the venue by 4pm so I was dressed for my performance. No, I was not wearing my tutu skirt, but I was wearing my black slip dress with the silver bugle bead trim and a "heartbreaker tour" t shirt, black tights and rocker boots, my favorite camouflage jacket, and a black beret, black eye liner and mod pink lipstick.

I thought to myself that I was about to be treated badly. I thought to myself, "these women work for the poor and the dispossessed. They don't want to see some able bodied woman like me coming in here looking sassy and scamming the state run health care system. Claiming that I'm a full time artist is not going to inspire sympathy."

Well, so, I sat down across from the desk of a very beautiful young black woman with an exotic name and a foreign (to me) accent. She was very kind, very dignified, very compassionate.

What do they say is an indication of a person's character? It's something about if you can treat everyone you encounter with the same respect regardless of how much higher or lower than you they appear to be, and regardless of what they can do for you, then your character is pure.

The young woman who helped me at the health insurance office treated me with understanding. She first said that she liked my outfit. I said, "Thanks. I like your hairstyle." Her long black hair was piled into a high heavy coil and twisted into a braided bun. It was gorgeous.

Then she explained that she needed to ask me several questions to see f I was going to be eligible for their health care options.

The first question she asked, and probably not the first question she usually asks, was "Are you self-employed working in a creative field?"

Ha! Wonderful! She had already made this easier for me. I smiled and told her how three years ago I had decided to make my art projects and performances my way of living. I explained that I considered it an entrepreneurial venture and that I invested every last cent I had, hoping it would all perfectly dovetail into financial success just as my savings was running out. But alas, I was only now beginning to see a trickle of a "profit" on my efforts. Although I had earned $25,000.00 from my music and writings in 2017, my touring and album production costs had come to almost the same amount. The line they care about on your US tax form 1040 is line 37. My line 37 "adjusted income after expenses" for last year was $1016.00. Full disclosure, I received donations all year from fans and supporters, to the tune of another $15,000.00 but the IRS doesn't consider the donations through gofundme.com to be "income".

So, I qualified and starting pro-dated to April 1st, 2018, I now have health care provided by MNsure. If I start making a real profit I will no longer qualify. I hope I make a livable profit starting this year! I hope I don't qualify next year! But in the meantime, it's a game changer for me because I have asthma, I take medication every day and the inhaler I use costs over $100 for a month's supply without health insurance. On my new plan, my inhaler is $3.00 each month. My health insurance I had purchased for myself for the past ten years was now up to $440.00 per month for the premiums. So with my medications I was paying over $500.00 a month.

I wonder how you feel about this as you read it. Maybe if you are a Europe friend or fan you are thinking that it's ridiculous that we even have to do things this way in America. Maybe if you are American you are thinking the same. Or maybe you are thinking that someone like me should go get a "real job" that has health care benefits.

Please comment as you wish.

I will say that I used to think that if I hadn't "succeeded" as an artist by now that I would go get a full time teaching job. Now I'm not sure that I could get myself hired at this point in my life, and I'm not sure I could actually do the job well. I've become what I've become. I feel like I am now the unique product of all of my touring and performing, of all my personal efforts to wear my inside on the outside. I don't think I could pull myself together enough to fit into a system now. 

I love my life. I'm grateful to have the freedom to make things that I believe are of value and inspiration to others. I like that I feel like a contributing member of society, but contributing what I feel is the best use of what I am as a person, with all pistons firing. 

I'm working the hardest I've ever worked in my life.

Do I deserve nearly free health care?

I don't know, but I'm damn glad to have it.

 

Freedom to express with no constraints

 

So far, I am finding the daily blog to be a good outlet for a different kind of self expression. I don't really express myself in my fiction writing. In the "Sidney" four book series I'm working on, Sidney is the one who is expressing herself, and although the character is based on me and my own experiences, she has become a character in my mind and on the page. What I write for that series serves the story more than serves me. The story has to move along, be concise, stay focused. Readers don't like to be lead off on wild goose chases...tangents...that end up feeling like a waste of their time.

I love nothing more than to sit somewhere beautiful with a trusted friend or two, with a bottle of good wine, and explore every tangent we come up with for hours on end. Freedom to explore the depths of your own subconscious, to dream out loud, to remember things you'd forgotten about yourself, the people you love, the life you've lived.

Writing a daily blog for me should be just that same way. No constraints, no apologies. Ideally liberating, but not incoherent.

The blog for me is not memoir. I'm not writing stories of my personal experiences. I'm writing inspirations. I'm writing morning thoughts on the possibilities for the rest of the day. The days go by quickly. Each morning holds great promise. The blog can serve as a determination to make the day worth living.

Songwriting is another thing all together.  Also a discipline, maybe, depending on what kind of song you want to write. Someone recently said to me that the songs I write should be simpler now, easy to understand on one listening. Maybe. But my one and only hero Mr. Dylan does not seem to have prescribed to this theory. I don't want easy songs but I do want wonderful songs. I want to stand up in the palace and know what I'm singing and why. Why am I singing this to these people? I always ask myself this question. Why am I singing these words to these people? Why indeed. I think there has to be a good reason. The reason for me has to be that the song feels important. The song feels important even if only in a vague way, and it's importance has me thoroughly captivated. That's what I want in a song. 

So I continue to explore with this blog. I want to see how far it can be pushed and spread, like rolling out pie dough into a wide smooth circle. I want to keep pushing at the edges of what I think is possible with this.

Today is a new day.

I won't add a photo today so that the words can be their own image, and the words can stand in place of a photo.

 

How Private to keep this

I've been writing a daily entry here for a couple of weeks now.

I can't tell yet how much to publicize it or whether to let these daily musings be found by the person who takes the time to look more closely at my website.

Yesterday's harmless little post about fixing up Rob's front porch seems to have lost me some followers on twitter and instagram.

Why?

I don't usually lose followers on social media. Not even when I post political comments, not even when I use swear words. 

So weird! I think that the photo of a porch I posted on Instagram seemed lame af possibly because it isn't the actual porch I'm working on, it was a stock photo from the internet. Also, it was a little blurry and Instagram doesn't look cool when it's blurry. 

Also, and this is not my personal opinion but could be the opinion of some, cute old front porches aren't cool.

Cute front porches and photos of cute front porches are for decorating magazines and dorky lifestyle magazines.

Cute front porches are not for rock goddesses and international superstars.

Do you think it was just the poor quality of the photo or do you think it was the subject matter as well that made some people hit their unfollow button?

Answers accepted below.

Either way, I see the bigger question being whether I should continue my new practice of writing the morning blog, attaching a photo to it, then posting the photo and the blog link on all of my social media pages. I will keep writing the blog posts either way but I could stop posting about them on my social media pages.

One good thing about posting the photo every day is it makes my pages look more diversified because the photos now are everything from an old guitar to a first Robin Red Breast to a porch full of flowers. Usually my social media pages are filled with pictures and videos of me in live performances plus announcements of shows and reviews and radio airplay. 

I started this daily blog in part to make a daily connection with fans who I sometimes only see once a year on tour, but who know me as a person not only as a performer. I know already that some of these fans are enjoying the daily connection and even if they don't read this religiously every day they like that they can pop in and see what I'm up to.

So for me it is not a question of whether I should keep writing about anything and everything including front porches.

It's more a question of how to make sure I am doing everything in my capabilities to build relationships and widen awareness of myself in the world as an artist and that I'm not turning people away by careless errors like blurry stock photos. Blurry stock photos.

For this morning, let's try this actual photo of the porch I'm working on in mid spruce up.......and let's see how it's received.

 

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