Michael Franti, Part: The First

I have a lot to say about what Michael Franti has been up to in recent years, and one day I will. But for now, I want to take it way back.

So it’s my second first date with Stu, (weird, right? But true. Second first date.) We’re at his place. And he’s telling me about this artist he really digs named Michael Franti, and puts this song on first.

“Love, why did you have to go away?” Those are the first words I ever heard Michael say.

They hit me hard. I was hooked from the start.

To this day, this song makes me want to cry, because it’s pretty much how I feel about the world almost all the time.

And even if his musical path has gone in a direction I may find hard to follow, I’ll never forget how much he inspired me as an artist. How much fun I had at the 15 or so Michael Franti and Spearhead shows I’ve been to. And I’ll never forget sharing our wedding day with him.

And this is is where it started.

 

 

 

 

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She Brings Me Wildflowers

http://www.dennisflood.com/photos/get/2777/irish_wildflowers

About a month ago, Amira started doing the most curious – and beautiful – thing.  She started bringing me flowers.

Often, she and Stu will go out for a quick jaunt around the neighbourhood in the morning.  One morning, I took a call while they were gone.  I was up in the office with the door closed, and I heard them come in, and Amira saying over and over again, “Mummy!  Mummy!”

Stu told me later that this is what happened:

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Be –> Do –> Have

A couple of years ago, I took a self-development class that introduced me to the concept that people live their lives with a Have –> Do –> Be mentality.  This idea really hit home for me.  I saw in this simple concept the way I had approached writing my whole life.

When I HAVE the right desk, I will WRITE (DO), and then I will BE a writer.

When I HAVE the right computer, I will WRITE, and then I will BE a writer.

When I HAVE the time, I will WRITE, and then I will BE a writer.

When I HAVE the life of a writer, I will WRITE, then I will BE a writer.

And it wasn’t always about writing.  It also meant:

When I have no more fear, I will share my music, and then I will be a musician.

When I have some inspiration/time/ideas/whatever, I will do that thing I want to do (sing/write/dance/etc) and then I will be what I want to be (musician/writer/dancer/artist/happy…)

I spent my whole life waiting for inspiration to strike and fear to dissipate.  I thought when those things had been achieved, I would do what I always wanted to do, and be what I always wanted to be.

But in that class, I got clear that you be who you want to be, do the things that person does, and then have the life you want.  Not the other way around.  It was time to stop waiting for time/inclination/inspiration, and just be.  And do.  And then I would have.

So now I’m not waiting to have a writer’s life to write.

I am a writer.  So I write.  And that’s what gives me a writer’s life.

I am a musician.  So I write and play music.  And I have a musician’s life.

I’m not waiting around for inspiration to strike and lead me to the life I want anymore.  This concept gave me the access to design the life I want, not wait for the life I want to happen to me.  Artistry and joy and freedom are not dependant on outside influences or resources.  It’s all at my fingertips.  It’s not what I have, it’s who I be.  It’s up to me.

It’s not Have –> Do –> Be.

It’s Be –> Do –> Have.

BE who you want to be.  DO what you want to do.  HAVE the life you’ve always dreamed.

Jumping In Puddles

Driving home yesterday afternoon, I saw a little girl walking in the rain, going to the library.  She was dressed up for Halloween, wearing a tattered black and red skirt, a black veil and some crazy makeup.  I’m not sure what she was dressed up as, but she looked creepy and interesting – perfect for a 10-year-old girl on Halloween.

As I was watching her, she walked for a few steps, then skipped a few steps, and then started running, and then skipped again, and then jumped in a puddle, and then hopped a bit, then she sprinted up the steps to the library and disappeared with her black veil trailing behind her.  And in the 15 seconds I watched her, I was flooded with emotion.

I was so happy to see this happy little girl.  I loved that she was oblivious to the world around her, and doing her thing however she felt like doing it. She didn’t care who was watching her.  She skipped when she wanted to.  She jumped when she wanted to.  She ran when she felt like it, and stopped when it suited her.  She wasn’t hurting anybody, she was being who she felt like being in that moment, not thinking about who may be watching, who may be judging.

I would love to skip down the street instead of walk, but I don’t.  I love jumping in puddles, but I’ll only do it if there is someone to jump with me.  I would love to wear a black, birdcage veil on a Wednesday afternoon just because, but I don’t.  Because I know people are watching.  Because I think people are watching.  Because I worry that people are watching.

Though I can’t remember it now, I’m sure there was a time in my life when I wasn’t acutely aware of my surroundings – wondering who’s watching and whispering behind my back.  A time when I wore something out of the ordinary because I thought it was pretty or interesting.  A time when I jumped in puddles alone, or ran and stopped and ran and stopped because it suited my fancy.  I’m sure we all had a time like that.  When did we lose it?  And why?

I would love to go back in time to the days when I didn’t worry about what others thought, and I did what I wanted to – what I loved – because I loved it.  Wore something unique, skipped down the sidewalk, and sang to myself regardless of who was around.  A time when the world was there for me, instead of me simply occupying space in the world.

Of course, I can’t go back in time.  But maybe – for just a little while – I can try jumping in puddles, skipping down the sidewalk, and singing to myself without worrying what the guy behind me is thinking.  I can’t go back to oblivion, but I can try a new state of being – not giving a hoot.

Storytelling

We all have stories we tell ourselves about the people around us, about the lives we’ve lived, and about what our futures will be.  We create tales based on things people said, things we did, things we saw and things we want.  But of all these stories, the most powerful ones are the ones we tell about ourselves.

We tell ourselves stories about our worthiness, our intelligence, our abilities, our looks.  We make up stories about every single part of our lives, and then we live those stories out.  And too often, those stories suck.

We tell ourselves that we didn’t work hard enough.  We tell ourselves that we didn’t try hard enough. We tell ourselves stories about all the things we could have done and should have done and will never do.  We make up stories – and we believe these stories – about things that have happened in our lives, and then we spin those stories so they ultimately cast a dark pall over us.  Then we hide under this cloak of  stories for fear of what would happen if we came out and stood alone under the sun.

But what if we told ourselves new stories?  Stories that don’t say thinks like “I should have”, but rather, “I tried my best in that moment with what I had.  And that’s good enough.  And I can do it different in the future if I choose.”  What if, in our stories, we were always good enough. What if we were more than good.  What if we were great?

What if our life stories weren’t filled with doubt and judgement and shame and fear, but instead were stories of triumph and effort and heads held high even in defeat.  What if our stories were stories of love – for others, and our lives, and ourselves?

What if we took a chance to stand alone under the sun, faces upturned and smiling?  What if every story we had for our futures started with “I can” instead of “I wish”.  And what would our lives be like if we believed them?

It’s time we start telling ourselves new stories.  Stories where we are the winners.  Stories where we live with love and joy and overcome obstacles with grace and dignity.  Stories where it is okay to make a mistake – or ten – and where defeat doesn’t equal a diminishing of your worth or abilities or future prospects.

Tell yourself a new story about your life.  A story that starts and ends with you being wonderful and perfect and doing nothing wrong.  A story that is full of lessons and possibilities rather than mistakes and missed opportunities.

You will live the story you tell yourself, so tell yourself a story of love.  And believe it.