five days with no pay

The next five days I have no pay coming in from any foreseeable sources.

I knew this was going to be happening because I was so busy traveling and playing shows that I wasn't at home setting up new shows for the holiday season.

I do have a few really nice shows coming up in the next few weeks, but there are fairly long stretches in between.

During this five day stretch I plan to get some of my new songs worked out and ready to perform.

My goal is to perform one new song at my residency show this coming Tuesday.

When I think about it that way, Tuesday doesn't seem too far off.

Also, each day I wan to make a new handwritten small book.

My collection of those for my merch table has dwindled to one...I only have one left right now...and the whole point of them is for you to be able to read through several titles and choose the one that speaks to you, so I haven't been putting that one out for sale.

By Tuesday I'll have a new collection, I promise.

A favorite fan and artist friend from my residency shows gave me some additional blank books to write in so I have a good supply.

And I still have plenty of stickers, and plenty of pens that work.

No excuses.

I'm doing this.

Also, when I get an extra $20, I'm going to buy some more blank white t shirts from JoAnn Fabrics.

I made myself a new holiday t shirt design and when I talked about it at last week's show, so people said they'd be interested in buying one of those for themselves or as a gift.

It's an outline of a deer head with antlers, just black pen on a white shirt, hand drawn, one of a kind.

And under the deer's head in small hand printed lettering it says, "holy spirit".

I made it up and it's cool. 

It's like sort of punk rock but also just sort of clean lined and wholesome.

I'm going to make ten of them in different sizes and sell them before Thanksgiving if I possibly can.

The blank t shirts are like $3 a piece.

This has to happen.

So, I have work to do these five days.

Also, I have five small bags of clothes and shoes sitting at the foot of my bed this morning and Nina is going with me at eleven o'clock today to the Buffalo Exchange place to see if they'll buy any of my stuff.

This could be the extra money I need to buy t shirts and anything else I need.



message from the Universe about my closet

I've received a message from the Universe.

It's about cleaning out my closet.

Yesterday I was reading the Louise Hay book and she was saying how important it is not to hold on to old things because you are still trying to justify having bought them in the first place.


I have never thought of my closet that way.

I think of it as this lovely and fun and carefully curated funhouse of personal madness.

Well, maybe that's one in the same.

I didn't realize that there are things that I've been trying to force into everyday use just because I spent so much on it five years ago.

Now, in defense of keeping things around, I wore a leather jacket with a fur collar to my show last night and received enthusiastic compliments about it.

The jacket is as old as anything else in my closet, and I've kept it all this time, and I haven't worn it for a year or two at a time I think.

It's the jacket on the cover of the Red Letter Day album, and it has a bright red lining, so I am probably never going to get rid of it anyway, but still.

I have suddenly decided that it's perfect this season.

And apparently it is since others are liking it too.

That's a closet success story.

But, there are other items that are probably holding me back.

That sounds dramatic but maybe it is that important.

As far as the message from the Universe part goes, there were more signs yesterday.

I got dressed early for my show yesterday because I knew that I was heading into a new phase by starting this winter residency.

I knew I wanted time to try on several outfits to see how I'd like to present myself for this new phase of performances.

I was trying on some older outfits, things I used to think worked perfectly for me.

My figure is great right now, so all the clothes fit just as well or better than they have in years.

It's not about that, thank God.

But I've changed my self image in my mind.

New experiences, and honestly, new successes, have changed my opinion of my public persona.

So I was trying all these older outfits on that I have worn to play my smaller week day shows in recent years, and most of it felt just like, tone deaf, or out of tune, or not in tune.

Nina came home and saw me struggling with all these clothes heaped on the bed and everywhere upstairs.

She suddenly quoted the Louise Hay part of the book I had just been reading.

I looked at her and said, "That's the part I'm on right now."

And she laughed and said, "Well, it must really be affecting you."

She said that she's never seen me pull out so much stuff and try it all on like that since she's been living here.

I talked about how my ideas are really shifting and that the closet I set up, in the nice space Rob gave me when I first moved in here three years ago, just doesn't feel the same to me now.

Nina then showed me a woman's Instagram page who is a trendsetting "influencer" in fashion and art, and Nina said that she's around my same age too.

I looked at the woman's photos and I stopped to read one of the captions, and I swear to God, the one I chose to read said, "I feel it's important to clean out my closet from time to time and let things go so I can stay modern, and stay current."

Oh shit.

I'm not staying modern and staying current by holding on to too much stuff.

I told Nina the Louise Hay line about wearing things that you're still trying to justify buying.

Nina said, "Yeah Mom, you shouldn't have to do that."

Okay, permission out of the mouths of babes.

Permission from the Universe.

My closet doesn't get to say to me, "you've made your bed, now go lay in it."

I don't have to keep trying to make that ill fitting dress that never quite works work.

So starting today I'm gathering up things I am not going to struggle over or feel guilty about any longer, and I'm driving them over to the place called Buffalo Exchange on Lyndale and 26th.

I'm going to see if they'll give me any money for my cast offs.

If they don't then I'm driving hem the rest of the way over to the nearest donation site.

Am I afraid I'll make some regrettable decisions?

Yes, I am.

When I left New York City three years ago, I had to get rid of a fair amount of clothes and furnishings just to be able to afford the moving expenses.

I remember that purging with pain in my heart.

I said that to Nina last night, but she said, "That was different Mom because you didn't want to do it, you were being forced to, so you didn't feel good about it."

I was being forced by circumstances, yes.

Now, I want to do this.

I hope I have the courage.

I hope I have the positive energy to do this.

I'm starting today.

Love from the back of the closet.

Winter Residency at The Finnish Bistro starts today!

I begin my weekly artist residency at The Finnish Bistro today.

I have high hopes.

I want to develop a whole new setlist.

I want to write and memorize and perform some brand new songs that are partially written as of now.

I also want to practice and perform some of my old songs that people request but I can't remember well enough to play.

And I want to prepare to make a new album of all new original songs in 2020.

Big goals.

And I want to look great doing all this.

One tool I'm using right now is a book called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.

If everyone on this planet could read a book like this and take it to heart that world would be saved.

You should probably just read it yourself and see what you think.

Speaking of reading, I've taken to using an ipad that Nina sold to me a few years ago when she received it as a gift and didn't want to use it. Yes, she sold it to her mother...but she really needed the money so it was a nice thing that we could do it that way. Anyway, the ipad I have doesn't have any of my internet crap registered. No social media, no email, no website access. I think it's because it was already set up for Nina, but the point is I didn't want to bother with switching it all over so the only thing I got to work for me is the ibook section. It's turned out to be a great thing that all I can do with that gadget is buy books and read them. My library is growing on my ipad and that's all I use it for and it really works for me. No distractions, no interruptions. I think this should be added to the list of traits of successful people, that they keep an ipad that only has access to books to read. The other thing, of course, is that when I'm traveling I can have all my books I'm currently interested in all with me on the trip this way. Also, I can adapt the lighting and the size of the print to any situation which is good for my older eyes. I'm telling you, it's a good way to go for reading lots of books.

So, one of the things this book talks about is approving of yourself.

I approve of myself, I approve of myself, I approve of my self.

Say it in front of a mirror.

Say it right when you were about to hate on something or somebody.

Say it and see what it does for you.

Another part of Louise's book talks about how you may not have been aware of your own successes.

You may not have been registering your own successes.

I have thought about this part of the book for the last twenty-four hours and I mentioned it yesterday to Nina and she, who has also read the book, answered me very quickly without having to think about it at all, "Yeah, that's your whole thing."


So I started reframing the stories from my life last night.

Here goes:

I succeeded at learning to read before Kindergarten at home with my Mom.

I succeeded at school with teachers, kids, and schoolwork.

I succeeded at getting the solos in church choir.

I wrote my first songs at age ten on guitar and the music director at our big church in Chicago added me to the Sunday morning line up for the new acoustic service where I played my own compositions for a congregation of several hundred people on Sunday mornings.

I ran away from my family's lousy situation and lived in a cabin alone on the Canadian border, learned a bunch of Bob Dylan songs and wrote a bunch more of my own, got excellent grades and performed in all the school functions plus played in the bars around the region, and got myself a full scholarship in creative writing to a rally wonderful liberal arts college. And graduated with a major in Creative Writing and British Literature, a minor in Business, and a teaching certification to teach high school English in the state of Minnesota.

I married the guitar player who was my best friend but being a musical duo didn't work out and I started putting my own disapproval onto him and blaming him until I got a divorce.

I worked in advertising and did great and got big promotions but I put my disapproval on them too and finally quit in disgust to go back to graduate school in creative writing.

I married a doctor and had three children. The home we created was beautiful, the children are healthy and wonderful, we were on the cover of Better Homes And Gardens in 2001 with an eight page spread about me being a mom and a songwriter and an artist in the decorative arts as well.

I divorced this man (who was a very good and diligent person but who undoubtedly did not approve of himself or me and was always uncomfortable and unhappy and feeling that everything we did wasn't good enough) and I pulled apart our family and made life very rough on everybody by insisting that there must be a higher love and that I was going to go out and find that for myself...and also...that it wasn't too late for me to be a successful rock star.

I made eight albums of original songs and I toured all over Europe and the US.

I used up all the resources I had and then some.

I got it into my head that it was time to cash in on all of this and I wrote a small novel, a small version of one of my success stories of my life, and got it published.

I made an album of cover tunes that has turned out to be very beautiful, even by my own difficult standards, and my shows are starting to be profitable.

I brought my trio back out on the road this year and made money.

And, the man I've been most difficult with, who I've pushed the hardest, who I've laid all of my self disapproval on and made the scapegoat of everything I was dissatisfied with in these past ten years, has turned out to be the love of my life.


Well, there it is.

Give it a try.

See what you get.

I'm not going to erase this even though I feel like erasing it right now.

I'm just gonna let these words hang in the air.

See you at The Finnish Bistro tonight.

Success is imminent, success is ours.

Tuesday Winter Residency begins!

My Tuesday Winter Residency begins this week, Tuesday evening, 6:30-8:30pm, at The Finnish Bistro.

I'm psyched.

I wanted a place to play every week again.

The great thing about the bistro is the location is easy for people, the parking is easy, the food is great, and there's beer and wine.

The staff is respectful and respectable.

I love the people who work there.

I love the menu.

And I love the sound system.

I can be who I want to be.

I can wear whatever the heck I want, and I can play my entire repertoire...folk to rock...without feeling like I have to tone it down.

I'm planning to roll out some of the new pieces I've been working on.

The new pieces are meant to have a more low key delivery style and the bistro atmosphere should be good for that.

I like that it's a pretty place where you can see the first snowflakes coming down on the pretty street outside.

I don't want to be in an old smelly dive bar right now, which is so often the choice for a singer songwriter looking for an inspiring road weary vibe.

I don't want to be in a coffeeshop either, sorry, not sorry.

I want people to be able to have alcohol if they want it, and I want the people who don't drink to feel like it's not a drinking establishment.

The bistro is ideal.

It's not a bar, it doesn't have a bar.

But it has a stage and a sound system so I don't have to set up my own equipment on the floor in a corner.

It's ideal.

I wish they would pay me more, but if people come to see me, I get a percentage of what they spend, so, under the circumstances, on a Tuesday, fair enough.

I get a free dinner and free wine.

Mostly, I get a safe place to be myself musically and try out new things in a very casual but not sloppy atmosphere.

There was a place I did a residency a while back, not mentioning names, where I felt that the low expectations of the place were rubbing off on me.

Nothing was being done to any level of excellence and I felt like it didn't matter at all what I delivered.

I have risen to a new level of expectations for myself and my own enjoyment of my performance.

With the Finnish Bistro, on a Tuesday, I know that anyone who comes there to see me will have a good to great experience overall.

I feel good about that, and that's becoming a much bigger deal to me now.

I want to be sure that if anyone takes the time to come see me that they will be glad they did.

Okay, here we go.

I want to evolve and grow and feel renewed for the coming year.

Big dreams, little bistro.

I write a blog entry every day or almost every day

Last night Rob G took me out for drinks.

That's a fun thing to get to say.

I wore that peach pink floral cowgirl shirt I wore on the last tour with the long red plaid grunge style maxi skirt from Free People that I also brought on tour.

I have an old cropped black leather jacket that's sort of lumberjack style with a tan fur collar and a warm red lining that's just divine with the long red plaid skirt.

And I wore my Doc Marten platform boots that kind of look like lumberjack boots too.

I love what the Ralph Lauren people are doing right now, revitalizing Ralph's fifty years of pioneer fashion with the double RL ranch stores.

The store in Tokyo follows me on Instagram because of my connection to Japan's Guyatone Guitar Company.

They always like my pictures that show me in my punk cowgirl stuff or long prairie stuff.


Okay, so we went out for drinks in the evening because Nina had made this fantastic spicy Italian sausage and white bean stew so we had all eaten that around six o'clock and then it was too early to go to bed and none of us had a show that night...for Nina decided to stay home and go to bed early, but Rob invited me to go out and get drinks.

We went to a place near Rob's house called The Bungalow Club.

It's a very cozy and crowded place.

We went in to sit at the bar and get a cocktail, because cocktails are where it's at these days I guess.

The bar was nearly full but we were able to get two seats.

Right away when I sat down on my bar stool the people next to me very nicely but excitedly said, "are you Courtney?"

And this began a very fun conversation about how they had seen Rob and I perform as a duo at the Dakota Jazz Club earlier this year.

They had liked our performance very much, thankfully, and we told them we'd just done a lot of new touring and that I had just released a new album.

The bartender then got in on it and wanted to know more as well.

It was nice.

I was happy that they were interested.

The cocktails we ordered were very festive Autumnal creations; mine with Brandy, Rob's with Rum.

Delicious and not too strong.

At the end we found out it was the cute couple's anniversary so when we left after our one round of cocktails I grabbed the new cd for them and one for the bartender and ran back in.

They were all truly happy and excited to receive this gift.

I ran back out to Rob waiting with the car warming up, and I felt a lot of joy.

Then we went to a place called Bar Brigade, not much farther from Rob's house but on the St. Paul side of the Mississippi River.

This place is also cozy and packed with people.

At nine o'clock they begin a happy hour so we arrived in time for this.

As we arrived we ran into the owner just as he was heading out to go home for the night.

We know him well, we were in Paris with him during one of my tours several years ago, when we were the house band for an old roadhouse style chateau in Central France for a weekend and several people we knew from Minneapolis were all convening in Paris and heading down to the roadhouse for the weekend.

He was very glad to see us.

Since those days in France, he has gone on to open several successful restaurants in the Twin Cities.

He told us last night that last year he completed an MBA program as well, and now he has a consulting business to help restaurants improve their profit margins.

This was very interesting to me, as an entrepreneur always seeking to improve my circumstances.

He said that many successful restaurants do a lot of business annually but don't make much of a profit for their owners.

He said that he knows how to make the best changes to help these people run more efficient and profitable restaurants.

I told him that I know songwriters who think you can't make any money being a songwriter.

And I also know, and know of, songwriters who have made tons of money.

At this point we talked about how you really have to be very hands on and very active, daily, in your business.

Rob is very that way with his studio business and he's sustained himself for thirty years successfully this way.

The restauranteur said that he was there tonight for example because he knew they were going to be especially busy with overbooked reservations and that they were going to need his help to make sure everything worked out smoothly which it had because of his help.

I then gave the example of this website and blog of mine.

I told how I initially had someone update a website for me once a month with upcoming shows or other new content.

It was an expensive and sleepy way to do it but I didn't know anything about websites then.

I said that a few years ago I made this website myself that I know how to do and I started this blog and I started updating my website whenever I have anything new, immediately, myself.

And I said that the result of this daily effort has affected my business in a thousand ways, seen and unseen.

He marveled at my ability to write this blog daily and asked me if I had a habit of writing in a journal in the past.

He made me realize that it's a nice habit to have and a discipline that is hard won...and yes I told him I have written a journal daily for most of my adult life...but it's a hell of a lot more fun to write this knowing that someone might read it and enjoy it.

It was fun to talk with him. I got a lot out of the conversation.

He and Rob have known each other maybe ten years longer than I've known him and they were very glad to run into each other as well.

We said good night to him with hugs all around and went in.

We got a sweet little corner table with an old church pew as a banquette and we sat what I think of as French style with both of us shoulder to shoulder facing out into the restaurant together.

I feel that the French do this often in their cafes, inside or out on the sidewalks, sitting together and watching the world go by.

We felt like coconspirators, us against the world, able to speak quietly when everyone else was getting noisy from the fun and the alcohol.

And we could both see the one lady in the leopard coat who was toasting everyone in the bar, and we could both see the two young women who both were wearing black jeans, tan suede heeled booties, and one in a leopard print blouse and the other in a cheetah print sweater.

Oh, and the best outfit of the night, we both got to see the very slender tall young woman with bleached silvery white long hair wearing baggy black leather pants that were cropped above the ankles, slouchy with high heeled black boots, an oversized white t shirt, and a big camouflage army jacket over it all. Damn, it was mostly the hair, the camo, the leather, and the attitude, but she was cool.

At this place, from the small plates late night menu, we ordered the carrots which were just a few beautiful baby carrots with the greens still on, cooked with some kind of lovey candied glaze.

We also got the fingerling potatoes with chevre, also just a few baby potatoes sliced and roasted that you could dip in the sauce much like a sour cream and chive sort of thing.

I had their Viognier, which was crisp and nice, and Rob had the Savignon Blanc.

It was fun to sit there with Rob, much like being on tour in old towns in Europe, but with our own cozy home beaconing just across the river.

After all this we went home and sat with my little dog and ate some caramel corn that Nina had bought.

All in all a great free night. And Rob picked up the tab so I got to just have fun.

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