Sometimes when you feel like you're messing up.... 

You're actually being celebrated...

Sav'ry June is alive and bein' loved up on! 

My oh my, I have some more exciting news to share.... 

Last Monday night, Jodi and I were excited to participate in a songwriting/performance contest called Hidden Voices -- organized by Asheville Poverty Initiative as a fundraiser supporting those at many levels of financial need. 

We were pleasantly surprised by the results: 

Our new song, Savory, was chosen as the 1st place winner!  As a reward, we've been offered 1 fully recorded song as Echo Mountain studio. 

This was a tremendous gift, as we've been dreaming up visions of creating an album together this spring anyway. 

But as wonderful as "winning" things can be, it felt important to share a little more about the personal process I went through that evening -- which inculded a lot of, well, other things.... 


Along with excitement, I also had the following experiences: 

  • Fear of "messing up" 
  • Anxiety in preparation for potentially "messing up" 
  • Shame while I thought I actually was "messing up" 
  • Frustration when I realized how I had "messed up" 
  • Terror that I was going to be punished for "messing up" 
  • Harsh self-criticism for the ways I "messed up" 
  • A belief that I disappointed people I cared about by "messing up" 


Basically, I forgot some lyrics to the song we sang and it sent me into a pretty big shame spiral during, right after, and for about a week since the performance. 

Although this definitely triggered a deep trauma response in my nervous system rooted in a hard early childhood experience, I was grateful to have cultivated enough self-love, compassion, and inner peace through the years to keep moving through each moment knowing I was ultimately safe, and going to be ok. 

The message I want to relay to anyone else who may be suffering from trauma-related performance anxiety is this: 


         It is perfectly acceptable, to be imperfect. 


Even when it seems impossible that you could actually be loved, celebrated, and valued based on what your mind is telling you -- actually, especially during these times -- you are worthy of that care and appreciation.  Both from yourself, and from others. 

This was a wondrous, awe-inspiring reminder for me of just that. 

Beauty is relative, and art is such a mysteriously powerful channel, one we can't always pin down based on our limited perceptions.   After the show we thanked the judges for their recognition, even in the face of some obvious "mistakes." 

With puzzled looks, they each said, "What mistakes?  We thought you were great." 

Check out the winning performance below, and enjoy the affirmation we're soaking up right now.... 


        We are loved exactly as we are, and so are you.


Join us in any of the following ways to find out about future shows, updates, and more 


Email list  -

Facebook - Savry June

Instagram - @savryjune


Feeling shut off from the very thing you WANT? 


When I speak to someone who says, "I wish I was more creative" ... it's an automatic sign to me that they have not yet tapped into their creative source with a conscious experience of being moved by their own creative spirit

Cause when you have that experience, there ain't no turnin' back... 

You can't "un-know" the truth of your creative essence when you experience it with every cell of your being. 

You can't "un-believe" that it's possible for you to make something out of nothing, because the first time you see it happen it is miraculous and life-changing. 

And you certainly can't "un-design" your humanity to become some kind of different species (at least not yet!) who doesn't create every second of their waking life. 

It's...  JUST.  NOT.  POSSIBLE. 

When we have a direct experience with the Divine through the act of creation, I call it a Creative Awakening.  And it's what lots of us are searching for tirelessly within our pocket books, partnerships, careers, friendships, hell even our own minds, hearts, and Souls. 

And seriously, a roap map really, really helps. 

***a note of irony, for those who are interested:  The content that helped me unlock my own Creative Awakening told me very different -- it was a song, in which I expressed very succinctly that I did not need help to find my way in this world.  In actuality, this single belief cost me over $79,000 and 9 blessed years of my life spent running around looking for the directions.... 

Your road map is within you.  (I know, so annoying...) 

But I'll help you read it a little more clearly :) 


Here are 5 windows giving you direct access to your Creative Awakening: 

1) Joy.  Things that makes you smile ear-to-ear and get lost in silliness! 

2) Passion.  The stuff that makes you lose track of time, and feels effortless. 

3) Your truth.  The stuff that puts you in touch with, and helps you express your personal experiences and perceptions of yourself, life, and your surroundings. 

4) Purpose.  The stuff that deep in your heart you feel fulfills a deep need in the world. 

5) Self-inquiry.  The stuff that helps you get curious, and pose questions you don't know the answers to. 


These "windows" are like a system of organizing the activities and actions you engage with in different buckets, based on what they put you directly in touch with.  For instance, what puts you most in touch with your inner experience of passion right now?  Is it throwing parties?  Being out in the snow?  Rock climbing?  Reading fiction novels?  Writing about things you'd call nonsense?  Whatever it is, that's one of your windows.  Rinse and repeat with all the other windows, and you've now collected 5 strong ways to directly, let me repeat directly, access your creative awakening.  No confused searching, no frustration, just a pure, direct experience with exactly what you're looking for. 

So the next time you do find yourself seeking direction, or someone to give you the right answers, maybe consider saying yes to some of the "stuff" that opens these windows.  And if you feel adventurous, try some activities that combine a few :) 

Whatever you do, do NOT for a split second believe that you, or any other humanoid you know, are not granted access to the Divine gift of "being creative."  It's just.  not.  possible. 

Are you FEELING THIS??? 

I'm feelin' it. 

Tell me, how are you going to open one of your creative windows today?

For those who are seeking their truth... 

10 Ways to revive your long-lost creative passion:


(photo:  Erica Mueller Photography)

When you’re looking for something important – lost keys, an important document, a piece of jewelry or favorite accessory – it’s usually pretty frustrating when you can’t find it.  You know exactly what it is, and probably what it looks like.  And since you probably see an image of it clearly in your mind, there’s no doubt that it does exist, somewhere in space and time.  You know that it’s possible for you to find it.  And even if you don’t ever reunite with this lost item, there is security in knowing that you could have if circumstances were different. 

Imagine though, that you were looking for something deeply familiar that’s even more important than your car keys, something that has the potential to bring happiness and joy to every aspect of your life.  The difference?  You don’t know what it is, or what it looks like.  

This is what it feels like when you’ve lost your creative identity, and have decided you want to find it.  

Talk about something that’s frustrating!  Add confusing in the mix as well when the sadness hits, as you remember on a deep Soul level that you think, or at least you’re pretty sure, that you had access to this mysterious quality at one point in your life and that it was really, really sweet.  As opposed to finding some item you've misplaced on the outside, searching for your creative spirit can only be found by tuning into your insides -- who you are, what you love, and why you love it.  

If you’re someone who’s looking for access to your creativity, purpose, and sense of passion, although it may seem like you’re searching for a pine needle in a pile of oak leaves, there is a bit of a road map that consistently leads many people straight to their joy.   


Here is my top 10 list of strategies for re-discovering your long-lost creative passion: 


10) Take note of the common thread(s) showing up in everything you love. 

Write down the string of connection.  What keeps showing up for you no matter where you are, or what you're doing?  What feels like it's missing when you're not having a great time?  Why are you feeling full and alive when you have that favorite night of being with your favorite people in all your favorite ways?

9) Spend quality time by yourself, and feel all your feelings.  

This is an inside game, folks.  And although our outer environment certainly gives us clues as to what's happening and why, there is absolutely no way that you're going to find your passion if you're still avoiding looking within.  One of the first major steps you can take is learning to feel pure, human emotion.  And let me tell you, if you're anything like I was when I was looking for myself, a lot of clues are revealed when we simply start paying attention to what our feelings are telling us.  Spending time alone also allows us to explore ourselves fully, without inhibition or a need to please anyone else.  Time to get into that crazy crafting project you've been thinking about all week!  Or take the trip, or cook the meal, etc. etc...

8) Connect with people who are lit up naturally by life.  

You know who they are.  You feel it because they're oozing with the passion you want to find!  They seem endlessly inspired, endlessly real, and endlessly in a state of pure delight at the simple pleasures of being alive.  And being around these people naturally ignites your own innate sense of passion, however it wants to live through you.  Some of these natural light bulbs may engage with substances like drugs and alcohol, and some may not.  What's plain as day though is that they don't need them to engage from a place of excitement and positive energy, because they are sourcing that energy from within.  Start noticing these folks and how you feel when you're in their presence.  And then, if you're feeling brave, start asking to be around them more and take notes about the different ways they're going about they're life!

7) Release people, communities, and/or situations that feel heavy, negative, or judgmental. 

On the other token, you probably know some of these people as well.  They're the ones who seem to have the opposite effect on you -- heaviness, laziness, or fatigue.  All of a sudden you wake up and notice that you've slept in until 11am the past 4 days and not even the thought of making your favorite spaghetti supreme dish tonight feels enticing anymore.  These are likely people who have blocked their own passion and creativity, and they will help you block yours also as long as you let them.  Making the choice to reduce your contact with these folks, you will immediately feel the result of increased lightness, inspiration, and excitement that is driving your search.

6) Explore new and exciting interests with an open mind.  

When you're looking for something that will give you an internal feeling, sometimes you have to try a few different ideas before really identifying clearly what it is.  Give yourself permission right now to try something you've never done before.  What if you didn't have to be a professional drummer?  Or an experienced painter?  Or a long-time gardener?  What if you just wanted to try it out and see how it felt?  By allowing yourself to dip your toe into a few new things that perk your interest, you receive mega-information about what your passion is really about, and take yourself one step closer to hitting the bulls eye.

5) Spend time with children, and reflect on your own childhood.  

Children are masters of passion and authenticity.  They can't help but be exactly as they are, shining out their bright and vibrant nature.  AND GUESS WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR... ?  I see this as one of the intrinsic purposes of people below the age of 10.  Along with giving us access to a natural flow of love, they also innocently show up in the way you're trying to be yourself -- fully alive, vibrantly creative, and filled with passion.  Spending time with children will also put you directly in touch with yourself at a younger age.  What would you have done with the worm y'all just found on the ground together when you were 6?  What was your answer when your mom said, "What do you want to do for your play date with David this weekend?"  Looking at life through the lens of yourself as a child, you receive tons of valuable information about the truth of who you are, and how you roll.

4) Pay attention to your sleeping and waking dreams.  

Our dreams are windows into our subconscious minds, and when you're looking for something buried deep in your subconscious mind, they're like striking gold!  Start a dream journal, which you write in every morning recollecting any dreams you had and anything about them that feels important or relevant.  Even if some mornings you don't remember anything at all, even initiating the practice will cue you into your deeper wisdom and let yourself know you're inviting answers.  Your questions will be heard, and it will feel joyfully mysterious when it does eventually begin to come together.

3) Write love letters to yourself.  

Beginning to communicate with yourself is crucial to opening up any conversation of self-discovery.  Why not make it a little more romantic and juicy?  Maybe you can pretend like your creative passion is like a long-lost lover that you know will eventually find you again.  What would you say to it?  What feelings might emerge?  What kind of paper would you write on?  Treating this new relationship you're forming with yourself as special as you would a new romance you're excited about re-kindling is a wondrous way of bringing it closer to you.  And it is likely that you will see results from this action immediately after the exciting words are written.

2) Look at yourself in the mirror (often).  

Again, this is about forming a relationship with the only person on the face of the earth who can hear the answers you're looking for.  You are the window into your own creative Soul.  And if you've lost access to that, there is no other way but through your own eyes that your passion is going to start pouring out.  Take a look in there, and start feeling the familiarity of what it's like to be you.  It may be hard at first to enter into that intimate space with yourself, but I promise, it gets easier with practice.  Soon all of the lines on your face that you've been judging turn into marks of comfort, and the way your nose crinkles up a little when you start to cry starts to feel natural.  Connecting with yourself visually begins to anchor you in your own sense of self, outside of others' expectations or projections, and the effect of this is a natural emergence of true expression, authenticity, and pure passion.

1) See each experience as a directional sign pointing you straight to your truth. 

When you're on the search that you're on, it's easy to feel like you're lost and swimming around in a sea of unknown trees in a forest you don't know the name of.  Probably the most important clue you have along the path though, is that each step of the way you are being given direction from your inner guidance, and from the Universe.  Life wants to live a full existence, and as long as you are alive you're not exempt from this natural force pulling you into your full, mature expression of self.  What does this mean?  It means that as soon as you're ready to start looking, it's going to show up.  E-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e...  If you're aware of this one, simple fact, you can start entering into each experience with your eyes wide open, ready to experience the next miracle showing you exactly where to go next.  It is continuing along this path and saying yes to each of these moments of truth that eventually leads to big reveals, big breakthroughs, and eventually big growth spurts as your creative identity evolves.   


0) Spending time in nature.  

I know I know, I said 10.  But this one simply can-not be excluded.  I cannot emphasize enough, that if you're someone looking to discover the truth of who you really are, nature is seriously your biggest teacher.  Spend time with her.  Learn from her.  Study her and her ways.  If you connect intimately with living things in the natural world from a place of curiosity and learning, it's like giving your passion-battery a mega-boost of essence energy.  Living as nothing but the pure expression of what is, each element of nature (at least that has been untainted by the ignorant hands of some humans) lives and breathes authenticity and clear passion.  Soaking up this medicine is one of the best, and most effective ways of connecting with your own nature.    


If you're starting to notice, these suggestions are not a quick fix.  Finding yourself and your passion takes committed action and persistence, and often our progress is building silently under the surface.  While on the outside it may look like nothing is happening, internally a galactic shift may be hiding just around the next action or feeling.  I wish you ease and grace along your journey, and thank you for finding the courage to seek the truth of who you really are!


Where are you on the path???  


Let me know, I'm want to hear your story!

Feeling the Fullness of the Holidays... 

Wow, it's Christmas Eve... 

And if you're anything like me, you might be experiencing mixed emotions, heightened emotions, and/or raw emotions. The holidays can be the most intense time of year because so many pressures we face normally in smaller doses all seem to collide.  And as loving, kind-hearted, sensitive humans, it's normal to feel a little overwhelmed in the face of those stresses. 

Music and self-expression are powerful tools of acknowledgement.  In essence we're like, "Hey, this is what I think, feel, believe, own, understand, don't understand, etc.."  The first part is the one where we say whatever we need to say. 

But what about the second part?

That's where it tends to make a difference whether your audience is drinking and hanging out half-listening in a bar.... Or, attentively sitting in front of you, soaking in your words and your facial expressions and your body language and emotions, and letting it resonate deep inside, honoring whatever meaning it has for the life of the one whose ears are open and receptively hearing what's being dished out.

A step beyond listening, it's actually something much deeper:  validation.  And the effect is that the person communicating feels that their experience is important, reasonable, and normal given the circumstances that created them.


It doesn't matter who you are.  *Every* person on this planet needs to feel validated for their pain before they can let it go.


I wrote this the other night, processing through some of the hardships I've experienced in my life.  I am endlessly grateful for how these pains have been heard by loved ones, therapists, coaches, growth partners, romantic partners, co-workers, and anyone else who I've opened up to about any of these sentiments.  

As an artist and generally sensitive person, the holidays have always been especially challenging for me.  I've learned to accept the challenge and reap the richness it offers, but damn....  Sometimes it just. gets. hard.


I share the following in hopes that it's helpful for someone around this time, when some challenging inside things might be rising to the surface <3 


The Pains I Know: 

I do not pretend to understand for a second, the kind of suffering a mother faces upon losing a child. 

I don't know that pain. 

And similarly, I have no knowledge of the wound created by a partner's infidelity. 

It's just not in my experience. 


But there are other pains I know well... 


I know the pain of being bullied by people you admire. 

I know the pain of being the odd one out. 

I know the pain of the insanity one feels when they can't detach from their dinner plate, or any thought of food that came before, or that comes after it. 

I know the pain of rejection. 

I know the pain of loneliness too, the kind that feels confusing because you've analyzed your life from every possible angle, and it still doesn't add up that you did anything so wrong, that you deserve to feel this far removed from human love and affection. 

I know the pain of having genuine happiness bubbling out of your being, but not feeling safe enough to share it. 

I know the pain of feeling missed, passed by, or forgotten. 

I know the pain of anxiety, and how it shows its innocent face at all the wrong times -- like when you're on the lieu, or trying to make epic love, or when you're supposed to be having the time of your life...

I know the pain of love -- the love that allows you to care so deeply for someone, but not quite enough to change the reality that you'll both be better people if you aren't together. 

I know the pain of being sexually molested, and being unfairly disgusted with yourself for letting it happen.

I know the pain of being broke, and not knowing where your next meal is coming from, *and hiding it* because you "look" middle-class, and God-forbid anyone would find out you're barely over the poverty line. 

I know the pain of delusion -- the kind that with 1 single reality break, creates the seed of doubt that says quietly, "but you're crazy, and you don't know what's really real..." 

I know the pain of feeling orphaned, with your parents still living and a phone call away. 

I know the pain of creative repression, and the stagnancy and boredom that encourage a life full of "What do you think I should do?" kinds of questions 

I know the pain of waiting... for a person -- any person -- to decide what no one on the outside can ever decide for you... 

I know the pain of living in an alcoholic family, without anyone ever talking about it.

I know the pain of wallowing, and not knowing how to stop. 

I know the pain of numbness, and not seeing how to thaw. 

I know the pain of showing the world how beautiful you are, and waking up the next morning feeling depleted, raw, and completely worthless. 

I know the pain of domestic violence, and I knew it before I knew how to say those words. 

I know the pain of being livid, boiling with anger, and behaving in the very same ways you've been most hurt by. 

I know the daily demands of a nervous system that has learned trauma, and I know the pain buried under the resentment secretly held for everyone who gets to live "normally." 

I know the pain of being angry and thinking the only acceptable expression of it is to grind your teeth until the dentist says that your sad attempts at self-containment are now your most pressing reason to save money. 


I don't know the pain of genocide. 

And I don't know the pain of being an African American male in a predominantly white, racist, elitist country. 



I do know very well, what it's like to be victim to your pain.

       I also know how to step out of that hell, and step into a creative, empowered life of freedom.  



Merry Christmas & Solstice everyone, I hope this leaves you more connected to yourself, those you love, and your best Life!


Week 2 Update: What are YOU surrendering to? 

And what would it mean for YOU, if more of that energy was circulating around the world??? 

I'm asking you to consider putting your dollars towards the answers you find by supporting the production of my first album, Roots Alive.  


Consider this for a second...   

How could your present life shift if more people in your immediate circle were soul-inspired?   


Your neighbors welcoming you in... 

The ways you interacted with your children... 

Your feelings towards your job... 

The love you give to your partner... 

What you see when you look in the mirror... 

The people your children interact with... 

The revitalization of our planet... 

An artistic community you didn't know was possible... 

The tears of joy you thought you'd never be able to cry... 

Your family finally experiencing loving connection... 


In the last 2 weeks we have pledged $1,578 towards these intentions and are still going strong -- THANK YOU!  Now, it's time to dig a little deeper and discover the real truth of why we're all supporting this music and its exposure to a larger community... 
If you take a listen to this DEMO of one of the featured songs on this album, you will hear a prominent theme of surrender.  

...and the winds become our witnesses   
and these leaves show us the way down 
and we disappear into our morrow 
the still, is what we have found... 

This is a lesson I'll be learning for a lifetime.  I find during moments of that learning though, that when I am thick in the trenches of true surrender -- to my identity, to my feelings, to my soul's callings, to a purpose outside myself -- I know peace.   

What will making a financial contribution to this album encourage YOU to surrender to? 

Maybe it has something to do with one of the GIFTS you'll be receiving with that contribution.  Have you been having a calling you're ready to surrender to now?  A burning desire you can no longer avoid?  A feeling that is finally landing in your heart today?   

Below is a sneak peak at some ways you can channel that surrender through my crazy artist soul.  You can learn about them in more detail HERE...


A signed copy of this Soul-inspired music! 

Music Lessons! 

Album artwork! 

A Creative Empowerment Session! 

A BUNCH of Creative Empowerment Sessions! 

A Live Performance from me! 

Group Workshops! 

Original, customized songwriting! 


I am so grateful to have your encouragement and trust, and even more grateful to be able to do and be what I love every day.  Stay tuned for a weekly update on where we are on the way to this album being fully funded!  <3 


(Remember that this is an ALL-or-NOTHING campaign, meaning that we need to raise the entire $4500 in order to keep the money and fund the project) 


And if you feel low on funds right now, here are some other ways you can support its success: 

1) Give any amount you're comfortable with to the campaign, no matter how small or large.  Go to the Kickstarter page, and make your pledge with glee! 

2) Share the Kickstarter Link on social media along with some loving words.  When you share, do it with a BIG HEART, an exclamation of how you're supporting this movement, why it is exciting FOR YOU, and an invitation for friends to support as well. 

3)  Personally contact a friend (or 20) who you feel would benefit from this music and/or contact with me as an artist, teacher, or inspiring friend.  If you have a network of your own, consider sending a brief email or text letting them know about me and my music, and inviting their involvement.  Encourage them to be in touch, and invite them to support this music's creation! 

4) Send me your encouragement throughout the campaign!  Let me know when you've pledged.  Send me a sweet text saying you're moved and inspired.  Tag me on your posts that relate to the project and what it's inspiring YOU to do.  All of this is valuable fuel that keeps us all flowing towards our goal :)  

5) Sing with me :)  Your own sweet, sweet songs, and invite me to sing the ones we're supporting here.  There is nothing that inspires me more than sharing original music, even if it's just 2 friends sitting around a living room or campfire.  After-all, that's basically where all this started in the first place. 

So grateful for your help in making this music a reality!  

May it reach all who desire Love, and who are ready to receive it.    

***I also intend on donating $300 of any additional money raised to a charity that is TBA, who supports emotional well-being, balance, and our community through art.  

Tomorrow at 12pm -- Are you ready to support emotionally-connected music? 

The Kick-off Show last Friday was in Full-Bloom... 

We were nourished, entertained, and brought to life with the spirited music of Roots Alive that was introduced for the first time at The Raga Room with Madelyn Ilana, Aditi & Jay Brown. 

And tomorrow at 12 noon, I invite you to invest some energy into this emotionally-connected, soulful music...  

The time is NOW friends :) 

The Kickstarter campaign will go live tomorrow at 12pm, which is when together we begin supporting the music of Roots Alive, the soul-inspired folk album I record this fall in Asheville, NC.   


My artistic mission is simple:  

To be an embodiment of Love through art, poetry, & music -- giving and receiving, and naturally existing within this beautiful, inter-connected web of existence.   


Here's a sneak peak of what we created at the show this Friday... It was such an authentic display of this magic that creative connection offers.  Mmmm!!!  I say yes to so much more of this...  



And even if you weren't present at the show, you ARE a part of this never-ending story! 


Right now, it's a $4500 story, because this is the amount of funding it will take to record a clear-sounding, beautiful display of these songs  :)   

If you wish to support this 31-day Kickstarter campaign (which will go live tomorrow at 12pm), here are some actions you can take that will help the project be successfully funded... 

(Remember that this is an ALL-or-NOTHING campaign, meaning that we need to raise the entire $4500 in order to keep the money and fund the project) 

1) Give any amount you're comfortable with to the campaign.  Go to the Kickstarter page when you receive the link tomorrow, and make your pledge sooner than later, enjoying the gifts I'll be giving you in exchange! 

2) Share the Kickstarter Link on social media along with some loving words.  When the page is live, I'll send you the link.  When you share, do it with a BIG HEART, an exclamation of how you're supporting this movement, why it is exciting FOR YOU, and an invitation for friends to support as well. 

3)  Personally contact a friend (or 20) who you feel would benefit from this music and/or contact with me as an artist, teacher, or inspiring friend.  If you have a network of your own, consider sending a brief email or text letting them know about me and my music, and inviting their involvement.  Encourage them to be in touch, and invite them to support this music's creation! 

4) Send me your encouragement throughout the next 30 days of the campaign!  Let me know when you've pledged.  Send me a sweet text saying you're moved and inspired.  Tag me on your posts that relate to the project and what it's inspiring YOU to do.  All of this is valuable fuel that keeps us all flowing towards our goal :)  

5) Sing with me :)  Your own sweet, sweet songs, and invite me to sing the ones we're supporting here.  There is nothing that inspires me more than sharing original music, even if it's just 2 friends sitting around a living room or campfire.  After-all, that's basically where all this started in the first place. 

So grateful for your help in making this music a reality!  


May it reach all who desire Love, and who are ready to receive it.    


***I also intend on donating $300 of any additional money raised to a charity that is TBA, who supports emotional well-being,

balance, and our community through art and music.

Are You Praying for a Miracle in Your Family? 

Yesterday I spoke with my Mom on the phone.  To many it would have seemed like the most normal, unremarkable, and probably boring conversation.

The reality though, is that this conversation was a miracle.  One for which I am so blessed to witness, and experience.  Here is a little background that sheds light on how I came to recognize its beauty....

In spring of 2011, I had just settled into a new home that year that felt safe, stable, and accepting of who I truly was.  For most of my life I didn't know what this meant -- safety, peace, and acceptance seemed like foreign lands to me.  But thankfully, I was able to make the journey and discover them.  And arriving in this house, with this community of people, gave me that feeling. 

The relationship I had with my parents always felt rocky, especially my mother.  Growing up with her daily outbursts of anger as the norm, and with my Dad either absent from the equation or playing middle man, I wouldn't have said at that time that I had a positive family experience.  In fact, the truth that I hid from others out of embarrassment, was that I actually hated my family.  And I blamed them for most of my problems, fears, and worries.

Around Christmas that year I went in for a visit.  And in my adolescent mind, I thought it was time to take a stand for the values I believed in regardless of the consequences:  Peace, Harmony, and Acceptance.  I wrote a letter to them (which looking back, was more like a lecture), suggesting all the things they were doing wrong, and all the ways I disapproved of their behavior and interactions together.  The real zinger, was my declaration that I was going to remove my support for them, as a couple, by not acknowledging their marriage any longer.

At the time, this felt like the absolute right thing to do.

And at that time, I had no idea how much resentment, judgement, and lack of connection to myself I was experiencing.  

The nightmare that followed this letter and this visit lasted for years -- along with my resentment.  After being kicked out of my own house that night, and saying goodbye to my crazed and crying mother on the porch the next morning, I told myself the story I feared my whole life:

I internalized the belief that my family was dead.  And I really, really believed that was true.

The next few years was the loneliest time of my life.  Without being able to access true acceptance, forgiveness, and personal responsibility, I was unable to make peace with my past, my family, and my own decisions along the way.

When spring-time rolled around that year and my parents decided to try out a visit to Asheville, NC, my belief that "family is dead" caused only more tension and disconnection.  With yet another screaming match unraveling, this time in the living room of my new safe place, I felt utterly broken.  

This was when I became a self-proclaimed orphan.  And in doing so, I lost years of connection with some of the sweetest, most caring, and resourceful people in my world. 

When I look back at journals of my meandering journey, one theme seems to show up clearly:  I suffered a great deal.  And mostly, it was because I wasn't able to receive the gifts that God was offering me through other people.  My parents are the most significant example.

I'm not sure how it happened, or why I was so blessed to receive that receptivity.  But somewhere down the line, I suppose my loneliness and isolation got to be bad enough.  I knew I was now the defining factor causing my problems, because I had separated myself from the rest of the world. 

The awesome thing about God, and spiritual support, is that the only request it makes of you is to take one step forward.  For me, this step was admitting that I didn't have all the answers -- especially about my family problems.


This was the beginning of a new chapter.  For me, and for my family.  Taking personal responsibility for my own pain, and my own false expectations of who I thought my parents "should" be was one of the game-changers.  Good friends, songwriting, and long walks in the forest also helped a great deal :)

Changing the way I processed my life made all the difference in the world.  If writing was my prayer -- and it certainly was -- my anger-filled notebooks will show you that I was yelling at God in many of the same ways I saw my Mom yelling at me when I was younger.  Learning how to deal with anger in healthy ways, and having compassion for my Mom facing that same kind of challenge in her 30's, helped me see that we were actually quite similar.  This was just one of the ways I began to feel more trusting of her.  If she was just like me, I could relate.  

I spent about 4 years after this internal change growing, healing, and re-kindling a trust with my family that I never knew could exist.  I began to recognize my Mom's attempts at re-connection, as well as my own desire to reconsider the lack of value my family had in my life.  I realized I didn't want them to be dead anymore, and that actually, they were very much still there.  Ultimately, it was developing a relationship with myself, and with God, that helped me find the nourishment I needed to release my parents from the blame and judgement I'd been beating them with for so long.

My Mom would send me something in the mail, and I would sob as I felt her longing to have a relationship with me again.  

I would write a song, and realize it was really about her. (more sobbing)

I'd meet a new friend who I just adored, only to find out months in that she or he reminded me of a cousin, or an aunt, or one of my parents.

I found myself envying those with close relationships with their parents, because secretly, it's what I wanted too.

I started inching back towards them with phone calls, emails, and kind Facebook posts.

It started to become clear, that every family has hang-ups, challenges, and hardships that feel impossible to overcome while they are happening.


Ultimately what I discovered was that my parents and the rest of my family are written into the fabric of my being.  They are what I arise from, the material that allows me to emerge.  And even though they will never be my complete story, they play some of the most important roles in its development.  I could not escape them or their effects on me if I tried for a million years!  (which is what I naively tried to do for so long).  It is no accident that I landed with these people as my first community.  They gifted me all of the substance I needed to *begin* looking at myself, and I now see them as one of the richest sources of growth and spiritual presence I have access to.  All of the challenges, heartbreak, struggle, and sorrow I've encountered with them, continue to offer me exactly what I need to be the person I am today.  They also provide an important road map into every other relationship in my life.  If only I can receive these gifts and taste the medicine...


God placed these people in my life, to teach me the lessons that are my own.  It's ironic that these lessons, once received, become others' as well .


So yesterday, given all that my Mother and I have experienced together, I feel so, so blessed to see the miracles I was blind to for so long....


I checked in with her about something out of respect and sensitivity for her feelings.

She recognized that and thanked me for it.

We shared honestly about things that were happening for us in our independent lives, and the feelings we were having about them.

We listened to one another with kind, open ears.

She reflected back to me a positive perspective and some encouragement as I move through a challenging situation.

I congratulated her on some of her recent successes.

She honored my need for personal self-expression, my career path, and the personal space I needed for both of those to grow.

I heard the reasonable request she gave, and committed to honoring it.


Amazing things can happen, when you allow the hopeful, amazing space for them to exist.  

If you're struggling with an intense situation with a family member, here are some ways you might consider moving that relationship to greater peace and clarity:

  • Allow yourself the time and space you need to process your emotions in ways that feel safe to you.  This may involve kindly setting a boundary with the person, explaining that you can't show up to the relationship right now in the way you'd like to.
  • Consider the role you're playing in the conflict.  If you see clearly what the other person is doing "wrong," try flipping it around and notice what your communication and behavior has been.  Have you been kind?  Gentle?  Non-judgemental?  Accepting of others' faults and imperfections?  Have you been holding this person to a standard that is impossible for them to reach right now....
  • Write a letter to the person where you let them know everything you're angry about.  And really, really let it out in full, vibrant color, as if all of a sudden it was totally acceptable to give someone a verbal lashing.  This letter, is for the privacy of your own notebook.  When you see your anger written out in full form, you will likely notice some more tender things underneath.  It may feel good to burn or get rid of this in some way, when you feel that you've adequately released these feelings from your being.  
  • Bring your attention to something positive way this person is showing up -- for you, and more generally in life.  When we re-focus on gratitude and appreciation, we begin to realize that our continued suffering is optional.  
  • Name a lesson you're learning from the situation or from the person that relates to your own path, having nothing to do with them at all.  (this one is definitely, a miracle-producer)...  When we see that our life experiences are all just messages from God, gifted to us to increase our clarity, and capacity to love, we see that the other person is just another vehicle for God to speak through.
  • Express one outward display of this gratitude, and either send it to them energetically, or physically.  Say a prayer for their well being.  Write a loving card and send it.  Pick up the phone, and call just to talk about the weather and catch up....

Without expectation for any particular outcome, showing up honestly with yourself, and with others in your family, will allow mountains to be moved.




Discover Why "Who am I?" Is a 2-Sided Coin of Contemplation 

When I was little, maybe about 9 or 10, I hated my first name.

Every teacher I had mispronounced it.  Kids made fun of it.  And parents always said it was "interesting" -- which seemed to be a way of saying they'd never heard of it, didn't particularly care for it, and just wanted to be polite.

I always wished I was growing up in a place like Asheville, but reality the way I saw it was that I was stuck in my hometown, Fairmont, in West-by-God-Virginia.  My parents were some of the only free-thinking people I knew there that did things... well... differently.  And I've come to be grateful for that, but I gotta say, when I was a little girl just wanting to fit in, it pretty much sucked feeling different all the time with the hippie name I got dealt.

But let's back up to when I was even younger, about 4 or 5.  My family went to church, and we were Catholic -- which meant that once a week I got to see our local celebrity (the priest), do stand-up church comedy to the best of his ability -- and you know, offer some spiritual inspiration as well.  (For me at that age though, the entertainment value was the best part of church!  Unfortunately, the Catholics were still working on their routines, so I was bored a lot...)  What I loved most about going to church besides seeing everyone's occasional chuckles, was talking to the strangers and acquaintances there.  I was the little girl who would ask practically every week if I could go visit families in the other pews.  Most of the time I didn't even know them (which is pretty funny, looking back).  Partially I was just bored, and this felt adventurous....  and partially, it was just me being me. 

There is a part of me that LIGHTS UP, when I get to meet new people, talk to them about random things, and ask questions.  It's the part that likes casual conversations at parties.  The part that always tries to get my audiences to talk at musical performances.  The part that tells people like the grocer or bank teller way too much information....  And also, the part that likes to write public blogs, give interviews, and reach out to make new personal and professional connections.  

Now it may not seem like these 2 stories are connected, but let's catch up to the present, and check out the reason I'm writing this article...

As an adult I started asking the question "Who am I?" about 9ish years ago.  And generally, that's a great question to ask.  I'd highly recommend it.  But if you were inside my psyche, you'd know that I have been PULLING MY HAIR OUT TRYING TO ANSWER IT.....

What I've realized is that "Who am I?" can be a beautiful road to self-discovery.  Continual asking of this question, I believe, can help us realize our soul's potential as the loving, compassionate, infinitely beauty that we are at our core.  It can open up new possibilities, affirm dusty paths that inspire the soul, and breathe grace into a dull experience of living.  It is also, the #1 question it seems people ask after an important transition or loss -- myself included. 

(think about a time you were transitioning from something that was sucking or blocking or stifling even a little bit of your soul's energy.  Walking away from or losing that -- whether it was a person, an experience, or whatever -- did you feel.... or sense.... that pieces of you were not fully expressed and alive?)

In this case, asking "Who am I?" can help call these parts back, and re-invigorate them into being.  It can clarify our shared humanity, and our shared goodness.  

And, there is also something to be said about just BEING as you are, and allowing that identity to speak itself clearly without trying to look for anything.  Asking the question is one thing.  Thinking we've found the answer is another.  And it's that second part that usually gets in our way.

An example:  I have called myself an introvert for most of my adult, conscious life.  Is it true that I get more energy from being alone more than being with people?  I used to think definitely.  And now, maybe?  When I look back on myself as that little girl in church though, fearless and curious as hell about what all those people had to say, I'm not so sure.  I think I probably could have used a lot more of that on the weekends instead of TV, not to mention how much I loved school and thrived when I was able to work with other people on projects and assignments. 

But when I tell myself, "I'm an introvert, and I do a lot better when I'm by myself most of the time."  Guess what happens?  I stop talking to strangers.  I don't make social plans.  I hide behind the counter full of snacks and wine at parties and hope no one sees me...  Because why?  Well, I'm an introvert, and groups aren't really my thing.  At least, that's the script I've created.  

Now just for the record, I've found for myself that I'm a pretty even mixture of introvert and extrovert, and I do tend to need to "fill up" after too much social connection.  But how much is too much?  Probably way more than I once thought.  My point is that the labels we place on ourselves have a tendency to dictate our actions.  Who you are, is constantly evolving and changing as your body, mind, heart, and spirit's needs and desires change.  And although there are certainly constants in identity (for instance, an oak tree ain't never gonna be a robin....), most of what nature shows us, is that the face of all things living will indeed, not stay the same.  

And this includes us.  I now love my first name.  It means "happy," and I've come to realize that it was one of the first gifts of grace that helped me connect with my joyfulness.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  You might notice that I've not really answered the question "Who am I?" here, and I've also not said whether I think it's a good or a bad question to pose.  My hope is that you got something from being curious about it, and about yourself.  How have you discovered something new about yourself recently?  What role has the question "Who I am?" played in your life?  What do you think and feel about hippies, the Catholics, or oak trees?  Really, this could have sparked anything for you, and I'd like to hear about it if you're willing to offer it up.


Share any reflections in the comments below.  ESPECIALLY if you're a stranger :)  (like the woman in the picture who I stopped and had a great, and powerful, conversation with randomly one night when I was out to eat...  that was the best!)   


How to Deal When Your Emotional Shit Hits the Fan... 

I've been hearing a lot of my creative friends and community talk about struggling with intense emotions lately.  The turn of a new year offers a huge opportunity for renewal, a refreshing start, and a revival of motivation to act towards our intentions.  

              And if you are a person who is saying, "That's all good and well, but I feel like a mess... Who can set goals when everything is up in the air like this?!"

       I hear you...  And you're exactly where you need to be.

Learning about emotional stability has been, well, a roller coaster.  And for me finding balance has felt more like finding compromise... being more ok with mediocre than I used to be... "settling" for the middle ground...  These are phrases that used to make me gag, because all I wanted was to feel passionate and alive.  An interesting thing happening though when I began to notice the results I was getting on the outside. 

  • I had moved close to 10 times in 5 years
  • I was bankrupt for the 2nd time in 2 years (meaning, in large amounts of debt and with less than $5 to my name)
  • I could not make my rent payment, requiring me to couch surf for 1 month
  • I was no longer spending quality time with any of my friends
  • I was crying every day in what seemed like never-ending waves of depression, anxiety, and fear
  • None of my goals were coming into a reality, and I had no idea why
  • I just found who I thought was the love of my life, and all of a sudden nothing about it was working

This was one of the most chaotic, insecure, and intense periods of my life.  It seemed like I couldn't find my ground anywhere.  Was there even a ground at all? 

Of course there was, and I was standing on it all along although, I definitely couldn't see it at the time.  I realize now that there were some really, really valuable tools that I just didn't have that could've brought a lot of grace, ease, and beauty to this natural phase of living.  I thought maybe I'd share some of those today, for anyone else who may be going through some of your own intensity, and not knowing where to turn for support.  


1) Find support.  Whatever people, groups, and/or experiences create enough safety for you to fall apart and be completely vulnerable and honest, spend more time there.  Maybe this is a support group, a good friend, spiritual community, or maybe an online support space.  Whatever triggers your "I feel safe" button, let yourself have the blessing of feeling held by something that is not you.  It makes a world of difference, and could even offer you something you didn't expect.

2) Feel your feelings.  We have a million different coping strategies available, many that are socially acceptable and encouraged by many.  I realize that these coping mechanisms seem to make all the dirty stuff disappear in the moment.  Let me assure you though, it doesn't disappear.  Not only that, but it actually feels good when you are experience pure emotion.  Give it a try, and if you need help a good therapist can be an amazing resource for developing this invaluable skill.

3) Drop the story.  Whatever scripts you have going on about what's wrong with you, what's wrong with everyone else, and why the world hates you...  They are so, so not helpful.  What is helpful, is developing strategies to experience what is actually happening right now.  When we become present, we recognize that much of our "intensity" is parts of us still living through the lens of old fears, or ideas about the world that are no longer serving us.  

4) Affirm yourself through self-expression.  What you consciously create makes a powerful statement to yourself, about how you feel about yourself.  Use this tool to write, paint, dance, draw, sing, and play into what you choose to believe about yourself and the world.  Then share it with someone you trust!  Artistic expression can be a form of integration that helps us understand ourselves more deeply, and especially during this time of transition, remember to use this amazing tool to aide in your growth process.

5) Lean into others who feel sane.  Believe it or not, there are others who are not experience the kind of inner turmoil you are going through.  Yes, we are all part of a collective energy system and yes, we do sometimes share a similar experience with others around the same time.  But think about it... If everyone were feeling chaotic at the same time, at the same level of intensity, what would be holding it all together?  Find some people in your circle (or outside of your circle) who can "just be there."  Their neutrality will help temper your intensity, and eventually, you'll be able to return the favor to someone else who's losing it.  

6) Take breaks.  It might seem like the world revolves around the inner experience you're having right now, but actually, there are many equally beautiful things going on simultaneously.  Try joining a few in between your gulps of processing, it's healthy to release the mind and heart for awhile and just be yourself -- however screwed up and lost you may feel.


I hope this offers some of you a new perspective on your journey during this month of renewal (or, whatever the hell we're actually feeling). 

Blessings on one of our richest, rawest, and most honest years yet!