post #1 in an unfolding series of posts...
I just learned my first blogging lesson. It’s something I learned many years ago, and somehow seem to have forgotten. ALWAYS WRITE OFFLINE! NEVER WRITE IN THE BLOG ITSELF! You see, these things crash, and as I just experienced, it’s possible to write a couple thousand words in a fit of inspiration and lose them suddenly in a stupid browser reset. Or whatever it’s called. It felt like a reset. A reset that lost all of my words. SO.
I’m writing about writing. And FYI, whenever you see a post with all lowercase letters, it will be one of these crazy “journey” posts. Other posts (like album release, PR stories, tour announcements, etc) will have proper capitalization. Consider yourself informed.
I’ve been following my intuition lately, following the direction of whatever makes me happy, and I was overcome by the urge to keep a daily journal online. For myself, and for you. Because 1) strange things are happening, and I want to be able to go back and watch them unfold, and 2) I want to inspire you and I want you to see what’s possible, and 3) I want to reinfornce my own belief in all of life’s possibilities. I believe I’m in the midst of some major magic right now…these days, these moments, as I type…
The last few weeks have been nothing short of miraculous. I’ll fill you in on the details in some other post, but for now just know that the last few years have been tough, and the last couple months of 2015 were quite awful. My thoughts were toxic, people in my life were toxic, everything felt impossible. I was exhausted, depressed, full of regret, pain, fear, anger…I felt DONE. It got really bad. I even started to experience physical manifestations of my internal universe. I developed swollen lymph nodes, and on Christmas Eve, I ended up in Cedars Sinai Emergency Room with the worst stomach pain I’d ever experienced. I couldn’t even sit down to let the doctor examine me. For the first time, I was scared not only about my career, finances, family stuff, and other external aspects of life, but I was frightened for my physical wellbeing and safety. I went straight to the worst possible scenario, and imagined how I would tell my beautiful family that I had 6 months to live. What would I tell my mom? My dad? They’d been through so much in the last several years. How could I possibly deliver this kind of news?
I made appointments with my doctors for early January and tried to put it out of my mind over the holidays.
But it wasn’t all dark. In the midst of my depression I’d had the realization that it was time to re-launch my career, starting with recording all the songs I’d been writing for years and not releasing. I had no idea how I would do this, and it all felt very far from reality, but for some reason I’d been able to catch little glimmers of a lifeboat in the stormy sea of my emotions. (Looking back, a big part of my feeling of urgency around recording was definitely linked to my heightened sense of mortality, and I’m so grateful for that frightening experience and the shift it helped create!)
After creating a business plan and considering going the private investment route, I decided to raise the budget with a crowdfunding campaign. But while I wanted to record, I had very little interest in simply raising funds for an album. I’d done it before, in 2011, and it felt so small. I’d spent the last few years surrounded by people who were creating exciting, big, world-shifting projects. I was at a place in my life where serving my own interests was no longer satisfying or interesting enough.
And then it came to me:
“You know so many people with so much money, but you can’t ask any of them to give it to you. You can, however, ask them to give it to someone else.”
“Hear me out. These people give money to charity anyway, so what if you asked them to give matching donations to charity once your crowdfunding campaign reaches a certain threshold! You raise $100K and they’ll match it with a donation to charity.”
“Wait, I’m not done. You’re going to ask 10 people. And they’re each going to match $100K. And you’ll help raise $1,000,000 for charity.”
“That sounds crazy. People are going to think I’m nuts, and they’ll probably be right.”
And I decided to try.
I asked the first person during a conference. A friend who happens to be a big philanthropist, a straight-shooter, and a genuinely nice guy. I knew he’d be kind to me, even if he thought my idea was nonsense and had no interest in supporting it, and I knew he’d save me from the embarrassment of telling people about the idea, if it was, in fact, ridiculous.
I was almost shaking when I asked him. I released all expectations and prepared myself for rejection to the point where I was almost surprised when he said it made sense to him.
“Great!! So it makes sense….would you do it?”
“Yes, I would do it."
“So WILL you do it?”
And I had my first yes. I worked up the courage to ask another friend, armed with one “yes” and the next friend also said yes. Now I had two. So I asked another. And another. And I asked people I didn’t know very well, too, and they said yes. I made some cold calls. I didn’t stop to think about what I was doing, I just did it. It was good for my campaign, and also great for the charities, since they would benefit from extra exposure and cross-promotion.
This was awesome, but it was still not enough to get me 100% excited and ready to put myself back out there, in front of all of you, in a real way. Not the random post and YouTube video, but announcing to the world that I’m ready to record and release new music again, and that I’m launching a crowdfunding campaign, and raising $1MM for charity. I needed even more support behind me…something greater than myself…something I could help make better with my energy, love, and music.
And then came the BIG idea.
I would launch an arts incubator for female artists over the age of 30. I would help shift art with the intention of shifting the cultural perception of women, and help change the conversation around women and aging. Holy shit!!!! This was it. This was what kept me in isolation for so many years – the belief that I’d “blown my one chance” and that it was “too late to start over.”
When I left my record label, I was 30 years old. Everyone I worked with told me it was too late, I was done. And I believed them. And suddenly, when I started thinking about my life and death, related to the health crisis I believed I was experiencing, I felt such deep sadness around not having allowed myself to do what I came here to do in this lifetime, because of such an arbitrary, foolish, man-made belief system.
Something in me screamed – “There is no ‘one chance’!!!!!!!” “There is no ‘BLOWING IT’!!!!!!!’ And I realized I’d been keeping myself imprisoned all these years, chained to the lies and control mechanisms so many of us are brought up believing.
As women, we are basically taught there is an expiration date on our desirability. There is always someone younger, better, prettier, smarter, and we’d better achieve everything we want to achieve in life before a certain age, or we might as well give up. There are many reasons for this programming, and a lot of it has to do with marketing. Keeping half the population terrified of growing old = lots of money. Every wrinkle cream, Botox ad, liposuction billboard…the fear of aging is highly profitable.
By shifting art, we have the chance to shift culture. By releasing art into the world, created by women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond, we can help shift cultural perception of women and aging. We can shift the way women view themselves. The perceived limitations we place on ourselves every day. There are no limitations. Only what we believe to be true.
So I had my purpose. It was clearer than ever before. Clearer than it was in 2006, when my career launched on YouTube. Clearer than when I sang for 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium for Live Earth. It was clear as day—and I STILL felt lost inside, even in the midst of so much purpose and excitement. I had the big idea, but I also still had the fear and doubt, and it was affecting my belief in myself, and in my ability to pull off such an ambitious goal.
It took the health issues to wake me up. I spoke to a woman in Utah who sometimes counsels me on various issues. She told me that if there were something wrong with my physical body, it was simply a matter of blocked energy, and I would have to take responsibility for creating the blockage and take responsibility for fixing it. It made sense to me. I said yes to that challenge, decided to do whatever I needed to do to fix this situation.
I had the impulse to spend New Year’s weekend at my yoga studio. I meditated and practiced yoga all weekend. I visualized the energy in my body flowing freely. I made the conscious decision to replace all negative, self-effacing comments with love. I made the commitment to shift all fear-based thinking immediately, even if I didn’t fully believe it yet. I made the decision to trust, to allow for the possibility of magicand wonderful things I could not yet imagine. I decided to love myself, above everything else. To love my LIFE. Every breath. Every moment of being alive. I radiated love and beauty to every object and every person I passed on my morning walks with Elliott. I actively thought “You are so incredibly beautiful” and I felt this bursting ball of excitement swell in my heart. It was the best feeling I’d ever experienced, and I could think of nothing better. And I could have it all the time. Regardless of external circumstances. Nothing had changed, but everything had changed.
And so here I am. In three weeks, since the beginning of the new year, my life has become unrecognizable to me. I almost can’t identify with the fearful, miserable, pained person I was prior to this shift. It feels so foreign, like another person’s life.
Oh—and the health issues.
I went to my doctor and he couldn’t find anything wrong with me. He couldn’t find the lymph nodes, all my tests were normal. My energy level is back again and the stomach pain has not returned. Whatever was going on in my body is no longer happening.
So I need to document this journey. For myself, because things are shifting so quickly. I want to be able to go back and see how it all unfolded, and I feel like I might not be able to access the memories of day to day occurrences, once we’re a little farther along. And also for you. I want you to see what is possible when we shift our thoughts, when we take control and responsibility for our experience of life. I want to show this to you so I can remind myself. It’s a mutually beneficial cycle of support and reinforcement.
I will continue to write it, for anyone who wishes to come along with me. I will go back and fill in the details of things I’ve glossed over. I will explain anything that is unclear as my fingers speed along the keyboard, barely able to get it all out before another thought comes in. I’m sure not every day, not every moment, will be awesome. There will be little setbacks along the way, moments when I doubt what I know to be true, moments when things seem to be slipping…and we’ll move through those moments together. Ultimately, I believe I’m experiencing miracles on a daily basis. And the biggest miracle is that self-love is possible at any time, it’s never too late for anything, and life opens up so rapidly, instantly, when we invite it to.
There are so many things I want to share. I’ll start here, and we’ll see where this journey takes us….