Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today's excerpt is called "Idealizing'

Much of my time on this planet has been about yearning for what I don't have.  Like a lot of people, I have had an active fantasy life about how I wanted things to be, which left me resenting the way things actually were.  When I was living this high-flying future life in my mind, it was a total bummer to wake up to where I really was.  The yearning was making me blind to the ways I was already living parts of that dream.

A couple of years ago, when I first moved to New York, I was about to go on tour for the first time in years.  I was on the phone when a friend, talking about the tour, and worrying about finding a job when I got back.  I was deep into complaint mode (which just means I was afraid and feeling helpless).  I was complaining about how I still needed a job and how I hadn't figured out how to make a living doing what I loved.  "But," my wise friend said, "notice how you already are making a living doing what you love."  It was at that moment that I realized she was right.  For two weeks, I was going to be working full-time as a musician.  Just because I had to get a job when I got back didn't mean those two weeks didn't count!

I started to look around to see other ways I was already living my dream life.  I was living in New York, in an apartment I lvoed.  I had a partner who tickled me silly, and an artist studio for the first time in my life.

Um, HELLO!  This is REAL LIFE TALKING!  Not too shabby!

As artists, we all have running fantasy lives about our future glory.  What do those fantasies contain?  What are the ways you can live them right now?  If you imagine yourself going to art school, how about paying a visit to that art school?  If you're like me, you might have a fantasy about what you will do when you get your first book published.  My fantasy was always to sign the large and extravagant book contract and then go to Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park.  Until I got the large book contract, the Boathouse Restaurant seemed out of reach and something to enjoy only in my dreams.  Then some friends surprised me by taking me there for dinner and it suddenly dawned on me:  The Boathouse was available for dinner now.  I didn't have to wait to go there - my life was special occasion enough!

Elements of your ideal life are happening right now and, in order for them to grow into the full picture, they just need encouragement.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Truth About Jobs

Excerpt from Summer Pierre's book...

The Truth About Jobs
I have never had a job where employees didn't have an ongoing list of complaints.  It seems to be the nature of work life.  The management is lousy or the employees are underapprecited or they are just bored out of their minds.  But here is the reality:

Your job is not the problem.

For me, I always believed my job was the problem.  I was an artist and I hated having a job, but I didn't know how else to live.  I tried different kinds of jobs:  art store clerk, nanny, and administrative assistant in various atmospheres.  I tried to get a job in something I believed in - helping the poor - and I was still bored and angry.  I tried getting a job working with kids - ditto the experience.  I decided I needed more money, so I got a job at a wealthy foundation - still frustrated beyond measure.  It finally dawned on me that it didn't matter how much money I was being paid, or what kind of environment I was in, it was still me coming to work:  depressed, sarcastic, adolesscent me.  I realized if anything was going to change, it had to start with me.

So I tried to quit working cold turkey - a few times - and something interesting happened.

I didn't do so well.

The magical life I thought being a full-time artist would entail dissolved the moment my coffee mug was empty.  I was still bored, still scared out of my mind, only I was lonelier than ever.  I still felt disempowered and like a victim of circumstance or of my own poor childhood or of whatever thing I could think of.  Also, and more important, I got just about as much art done as I did when I was working full-time.  I was still me and I was baffled as hell.

It turned out there were a lot of things that having a job did for me.  At a minimum, it gave me structure, accountability, and an opportunity to be around people.

If we are dissatisfied with work, we think:  "If only I could win the lottery and not work, tha twould solve all my problems" or "I wish I could just work from home."  But the truth is, work, like anything else, is a relationship that requires our own participation.  i assure you that if you didn't have to go to a job every day, you would have a whole set of other issues that would come up.  Consider how you are participating in your own job relationship.  How do you show up?  If your job really is the problem then get out now.  When you get another job, just check and see if the same issues keep coming up.  Are you still bored, angry, frustrated with your bosses and the management?   These things happen everywhere - that doesn't make them right, but ask yourself what is going to change with me?

Before we can find our ideal work environment, we must find out what about work works for us.  There are a lot of resons that we work for jobs, but have you ever considered how a job works for you?


Try this:
Make a list of all the things your job actually provides for you - be as specific as you can.  Instead of "rent", say "two-bedroom apartment, with colorful walls."  Also include things that you use or enjoy that come directly from being at the job.  For me that would include tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Internet service, a social atmosphere, and the pen I am writing with.

For whatever reason.... I absolutely could not get this photo to upload so that it was facing vertical.  So... either tilt your head or tilt your screen.... and check out some nifty facts about Dr. William Carlos Williams, a totally "legit" artist as well as a doctor!
William Carlos Williams
Legendary poet, playwright & short-story writer
Totally "legit" artist
Influenced & inspired the beat writers!
Mentored many poets, including Allen Ginsberg
As a doctor, he delivered over 3,000 babies!
Wrote poems on prescription pads
None of his patients knew he was a respected writer
Won the National Book Award & the Pulitzer Prize!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Slave No More

I recently purchased a book called The Artist In The Office:  How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a week by Summer Pierre.  I was browsing all the fabulous books that and have to offer... and I came across this find!  I decided to order it, figuring I could use some inspiration on how to be a creative person in the workplace.   As I read through it, I'm planning on sharing some sections of the book on here... so, today is the first day I'll be doing just that!  Today's excerpt is titled "A Slave No More"

"Once, at a party, I was asked the inevitable question: "So, what do you do?" I replied that I was an artist. After we covered exactly what "artist" meant, my new acquaintance asked me, "So do you do that full-time, or are you just a wage-slave?"

I hate the term "wage slave." To me, it implies a sort of victim relationship to having a job. It's as if, as artists, we are shackled to our regular paychecks. This is utter crap. Nobody pointed a gun to my head and said, "March into that job interview, make a good impression, and take the job." No matter what I'd rather do or not do, I made a choice to go after my day job. I'm also paid for it.

Often when we dream about being somewhere else - as in a full-time creative life - we can come to resent where we are and think of ourselves as victims or slaves to the system.

Break the wage slave mentality. Make empowering work choices and acknowledge your worth! "

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I don't love You, but I always will.

Staying in one place can be so hard sometimes... especially when you don't know why you're still here.

For a while I’ve been constantly pursuing finding a job in music, chasing dreams, having adventures and living life with passion. I haven’t always done a good job of that, but it’s been my hope to live a life like that…. And I’ve written about this before, many times.

  But today, I’m not sure where God wants me. I met with my pastor yesterday and he said to me, “Megan, for whatever reason, God obviously wants you here right now… You have been putting so much effort into finding what’s next, and nothing has worked out!” I have to admit, when he first said that, it felt kinda like a punch to the stomach. I felt like my failure was being rubbed in my face and I felt mocked. But I know my pastor right… for whatever reason that is still a mystery to me, God’s not letting me leave. This isn’t some new idea to me – I have known for a while that there is a reason that God hasn’t let any of these possible jobs work out in California or Texas or Nashville. It was weird, however, to hear someone else say it. And I think that’s why it hurt a little bit…. Before it was simply a method of coping and trying to keep myself thinking positively…. But to hear someone else say it, meant that it might actually be true. That God might actually want me here, in Grabill, Indiana.

  I don’t think I could ever put into words how insanely frustrating that last sentence is to me. I long to live in community with musicians and creative people who use their art to influence the world. I long to be inspired, and in turn to inspire others. I want to become better at my craft… to be challenged by working and playing alongside incredibly talented creative professionals. My heart literally feels empty when it thinks about trying to pursue the life of a musician here in small-town Indiana. And yet, I am still here. And I am terrified that I will be stuck here.

 I am yearning so deeply for something I have been working hard for over the past 6 or more years. I’ve spend countless hours and thousands of dollars. I’ve tried to stay positive and looked for opportunities to take advantage of that might get me closer to getting a job in the music industry. And all of a sudden, it hits me like a brick wall that I’m still here, in the middle of nowhere, not getting any closer to the music industry job I’ve dreamed of.

 Maybe God is slowly breaking me… I certainly feel broken and abandoned.

 I hate to break it to you, but I have no positive resolution to this post. I guess sometimes it’s ok to have that. I’d ask that you’d consider praying for me. I’m in a lot of emotional & spiritual pain thinking through all of these things. Pray that wherever God leads, or wherever He keeps me, that I would set aside my desires for His much greater purpose. Pray that through these discouraging and uncertain times, that I would be able to find joy in serving Him and praising His name. I don’t cry often, but it’s hard to keep the tears from coming when all I have are questions and confusion to bring before His throne. I wish it were as easy as saying, “He’s my Father, and I will serve Him joyfully.” Right now, it’s anything but easy, and I have suffered a lot of guilt when I try to lead a worship rehearsal or get up in front of a congregation each week and lead them in singing praises. I do still love singing those songs and leading those rehearsals…. But I can tell my heart just isn’t it in like it used to be. I guess you can suffer a broken heart in a spiritual relationship heart as well.

It seems appropriate to end with this song by The Civil Wars, “Poison & Wine”.  If this were a song about God and I.... well.... it'd be very appropriate.

You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don't want me to
Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine
Oh you think your dreams are the same as mine
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
I always will

I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back
The less I give the more I get back
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don't have a choice but I still choose you
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
I always will
I always will
I always will
I always will
I always will

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Regarding Relationships

Regarding relationships, people are generally in one of the following 5 categories:  single, dating, engaged, married, and divorced.  Nearly all of my friends are in one of the first 4 categories.  The older I get, the less friends I have in the "singles" category.   In fact, I also see a significantly less amount of friends falling under the "dating" category as well. 

I'll be the first to admit that being single can have some pretty frustrating consequences (though that may not be the appropriate word to use).  For example.... being the 3rd, 5th, or 7th wheel.  Constantly having people saying "Hey, (insert guy's name) seems like a great guy... attractive, creative, fun, and loves the Lord.... what about him???".... to which I kindly remind my "in-relationship" friends that we single people don't go hunting on the weekends for other single people, and unlike some desperate singles I do know, I don't plan on spending every waking moment plotting how to get more attention from other men.  Also, there's always the family vacation scenerios where each couple is supposed to cook a meal for the others... or each couple gets a date night out... or each couple gets their own bedroom, but the single person must sleep on the couch in the basement (true story).  How about weddings?  Do you take a date?  Don't you?  To answer that question, you first have to ask every other single person you know going to find out if they are taking a date, realizing the whole time it is absolutely ridiculous to feel the need to do so.   I usually opt out of taking a date.... mostly because, revisiting paragraph #1, I have very few single male friends..... and, I don't like taking guys who will get awkward about it (yes, I'm talking to all of you Taylor University, or any other Christian college students, who were shamefully bred to react this way in social situations).

Now, since I'm a musician, I do spend quite a bit of time with other guys, even in one-on-one situations.  A lot of times other single girls see that as some sort of "step ahead" of the rest.  If I'm around guys so much at rehearsals, shows, church, in the studio, etc.... then surely I am more likely to meet someone, right?  Wrong.  The reason I can say this with so much assurance is because I have been single for 5 years now, and have been spending even more time with male musicians than I did when I was dating (there may actually be a correlation between those, since my last boyfriend wasn't exactly thrilled about my spending so much time with other male musicians).   I would also say that when I'm with those guys, my mind is so focused on the music that I usually don't even give the whole "are they dating, or single?" question any thought.  They are my friends... my colleagues... my bandmates... my creative sounding boards... my fellow dreamers.   In fact, I can be somewhat over protective of it... I don't like it when other girls come in and try to steal the show, because that whole "craving fame" thing is not what we're going for either.... we're artists trying to create, not famous musicians out for the stardom (though, I doubt any of us would argue if it were handed to us).  Luckily I have had the pleasure of working with a handful of female musicians who get that, and who don't use their position as a musician to try and get boyfriends (trust me ladies, it ain't gonna work like that). 

Basically, being single can be a royal pain sometimes.  But there is something beautiful about being single:  freedom.   I'm not here to make those of you who are dating, engaged or married feel depressed about the things you've had to give up to be with your special someone.... God has blessed you with that person, and you can find so much joy & companionship in that relationship.  However, from a single's perspective, God wants to use me just as much as the two people in a relationship.  And, for that matter, I think God blesses single people with the gift of freedom to allow us to experience life more fully on our own.  For example.... I love to travel.  Any of you who know me at all, know that I am gone all the time on some new adventure.  I only worry about my schedule, my money, my wants, and my needs.  I can be selfish with everything.  Ok, not really.... [insert some church answer about everything is God's, and nothing is really my own].... but in a narrower perspective, yes, I can be selfish.  I've been able to pursue music as much as I want... and not have to worry about some jealous boyfriend sitting at home.  I've also been able to try new things, and not feel the need to run it by someone else first.  For example:  moving to California for 3 months on a whim.  Maybe a boyfriend wouldn't have said not to do it.... but I know it would've been even harder to just pack up and leave so suddenly, and I probably would've felt guilty or something for doing it.  Also, I don't have the distraction of someone else in my life to take away from what God is trying to teach me and show me through this time of my life.  I'm so glad to know that while I'm growing into the person God wants me to be, knowing that when the time is right, God will bring a relationship into my life.  I happened to see someone write, "I'm ready when God's ready" the other day.... and that is exactly what I think the single person's perspective should be.  We fail, a lot, to maintain that mindset.  But wouldn't you agree that the gift of being single can be powerful, inspiring and freeing

I'd like to challenge two groups of people....

First, to the people in relationships, engaged, or married.... continue seeking how God wants to use you together as a couple, but also as individuals.  I don't believe God has called people into marriage to forget who they were before.  Cherish the person you're with for who they really are.  Also, don't hesitate to encourage your single friends.... don't pressure them by suggesting they pursue that eye-catching person across the room, but rather encourage them by showing interest & excitement towards what they are doing with their life.  My friends have been SO great about doing that for me, and words can't even explain how encouraging it is!

Second, to the single person.... first and foremost, understand that it is OK to feel lonely and frustrated, as long as you trust God to use you regardless.  If you're in your mid-20's or 30's, you're at the age where people tend to put the unnecessary pressure on you to find someone.... but I challenge you to embrace this gift of time & freedom, and do something extraordinary with it!  Create, experience, indulge, inspire others, volunteer, and allow God to shape you into a better man or woman who can be used for His glory.

Till I write again.... 

                                              .... here's a picture of me with this cutie (Owen)