Birds have songs. So do humans. Don’t be afraid to sing yours. It’s only natural.
Over the past few days I’ve been immersed in the very inspiring Hawaii Songwriting Festival. The annual fest hosts songwriters of all skill and award levels from around the world. Attendees and staff come to create, collaborate, and learn everything there is to know about music and the business – away from the busy city – in the splendid seclusion of paradise. I had the pleasure of hosting a few workshops and enjoyed listening to many many amazing songwriters share their unique expressions. Here are some highlights based on frequently asked questions:
Q: Where do I start?
Anywhere. Start wherever you are. Write about what you know. Even if that means writing about feeling uncertain.
Q: What do I do when I have writer’s block?
Write about writer’s block.
Sing your truth.
Remember to breathe.
And have fun!
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. And while the current events of today may show us many upsets, it is our choice how we respond or react. To truly attain world peace we must first achieve our own inward peace. Peace in our own skin. Peace in our minds. Peace in our hearts. Peace in our household. You get the picture. When I am truly at peace, I act much differently. I am not blaming others. I am not wallowing in regret. I am more inclined to take meaningful action in the world. I have more access to compassion and grace.
To get to that place of peace I begin with gratitude. I am thankful for this breath. I am thankful for my life REGARDLESS of the circumstances. I accept what has happened in my life and I let the past live in the past. I use today to write a bright new history going forward. As uncomfortable as it may be, I take responsibility with new action and apology. I forgive myself and others and commit to starting over. To some this might sound like defeat, but the way I see it is: WE’RE ALL CONNECTED. It’s going to take genuine compassionate leadership from many to lead by example and begin the fun clean up party.
On my vision board:
I envision armed forces on a battlefield getting orders from their higher-ups on both sides to disarm, walk forward, and shake the hand of the former enemy. And then all that muscle and power is used to rebuild what was destroyed.
I envision everyone driving to work laughing in their cars. Some crying tears of joy. Everyone waving at one another, happy in knowing their dreams will be realized. Happy in feeling they are cared for by the world community at large. Insurance companies are no longer withholding resources. All medicine is natural and affordable. Compassion is currency. Our spirits have woken up from the confines of attachment and we remember that we are free. We no longer just quote Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. We have become them.
On November 27, I’ll be in Fort Yates, ND to Stand in Solidarity with Standing Rock, performing a heart opening set in concert with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Joel Rafael, and John Trudell’s band Bad Dog.
And on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, Cafe Gratitude will hosting a FREE Thanksgiving meal at our San Diego and Downtown LA locations from 11am – 3pm. Donations received will be given to Standing Rock. All are invited, we are one community. Besides, Thanksgiving originated as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with Natives. I am committed to making this country grateful again.
To me, Standing Rock is about social and environmental justice. Poor people are being taken advantage of and protesters are being harshly abused while they peacefully attempt to stop devastation and destruction of land, water, and people. It pains me to see this kind of negative behavior still occurring on a planet more connected than ever. The time and technology has come for us to divest from fossil fuels – and invest instead in renewable energy that doesn’t pollute the earth and its inhabitants. The suffering at Standing Rock has been happening to our indigenous people for 500 years, and now on our watch we can do something to help.
ISWSR.com (I Stand With Standing Rock) has vital information on how you can help, take action, or make a donation.
Luc Reynaud is an artist whose actions speak louder than words. I was first introduced to him via The Freedom Song, a tune written with children in a shelter in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which appeared on a Harmonic Humanity album benefitting the homeless. I got to know and love Luc, following his inspiring journey as a fan and a friend, watching him create a tour especially for those facing adversity – playing shows in shelters and slums, delivering hopeful music where it is needed most. And today I have the pleasure of sharing his latest adventure.
Welcome To My House is a beautiful PEACE of art. It speaks to the different worlds we each live in while reminding us of the one-world community that we are. This courageous yet understated statement of unity through diversity was filmed recently in Washington State and the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. It is positive news: We are one family. It’s that simple. Welcome to your house.
Our participation in every election is vital for any of our quality of life programs. Yes our education system is still largely segregated, under appreciated, and underpaid across America. Yes we have major healthcare inconveniences where there is a need for free medicine and fair coverage. Yes we have two-party gridlock in Congress. Yes there is such a thing as global warmongering. Yes one of the candidates is running for President of the 6th grade. Yes the U.S. is weird right now and needs our help.
And while there may be a lot to comment on, there is also a lot we can still vote on.
I am voting for my gut and for my heart.
For example, in San Diego I am voting No on B to protect our agriculture land from high density development. Of all the avocados in the U.S., less than 10% are grown on our shores. With continued development that number will shrink. And I would rather eat and buy local. I support small farms and future farmland. #NoOnB
I am voting Yes on Prop 63 for stricter gun control.
I am voting to support CA Prop 64, The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, to legalize cannabis and hemp. As a farmer I believe this cash crop would transform the state as well as eliminate wrongful prosecutions of innocent persons.
I am voting to end the death penalty in California.
I am voting for the first woman President in the 240 year old history of the United States, because it’s time we put a mom in charge.
A total of 469 seats in the U.S. Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election on November 8, 2016. I will vote for the most environmentally conscious congressperson, regardless of party, in hopes of achieving climate-bliss/ecological-nirvana in Washington.
Before we keep complaining, and threatening to not vote, I think we must remember how amazing our United States is. There are so many things we take for granted that you would never realize.
Consider my friend Ahmad – an extraordinary musician from Egypt. He is living here in hopes of becoming a music producer so that one day he can start a music school in Egypt to help the struggling artists and music scene in his native country. Only 5 years ago the country revolted against its government and began a new path to newfound freedoms. Today they struggle with leadership and economic hardships. There are no performing rights institutions to help composers and musicians get paid. Creative Art has not yet arrived in the marketplace. They are starting from the ground up.
Who are we to be so ungrateful and accusatory of our great democracy and freedoms?
Founding father John Adams famously said, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
We are the result of our ancestors and forefathers’ hard work and political maneuvering. They engaged in politics to create freedoms and opportunities. They engaged in wars so succeeding generations could participate in commerce and democracy. They created economic institutions that would pave the way for our schools and healthcare systems to make it possible for our generation to make our art, music, and silly memes.
Hard won privileges we have today must not be taken for granted.
Two years ago this week, YES! was released to the world! And did you know: two years ago this week, Christina, my darling wife, said YES to marrying me! YES! She did.
We chose to keep our engagement quiet, sharing the news with only our families and a few friends. During the release of the album, my team did an amazing job spreading YES!, earning us the #2 spot on the Billboard chart. I didn’t want to publicize my engagement, even if it aligned with the album’s title, message, or any hype around its release. Hearts are fragile. Relationships are special. The media can be exhausting. This moment was for us.
While the world was listening to “Love Someone” and “Long Drive” for the first time, my beloved and I were listening to the swallows and tree leaves and crickets of a typical afternoon in July. I proposed to her at home, after a nice dinner we made together. She’s a practical and pragmatic kind of girl and has always told me she wants for nothing, except 3 things: a good cup of coffee, some dental floss, and her stud (meaning me ). And so, after dinner, I made her a delicious cup of coffee and gifted her a special box of dental floss, which is not unusual as I typically bring home dental flosses from around the world. This floss, however, was different and labeled with text & iconography she would be able to link to our relationship. Inside was a ring.
We married more than a year later, long after the YES! world tour was complete. Then we took much needed time off to build our nest and pursue other interests and new projects.
My wife is a fabulous chef. She catered just about every writing and recording session with Raining Jane during the making of YES!. Her love and light is embedded deeply in the album. Which lyrics she inspired, I’ll never tell. That remains our little secret.
For the past few years, between tours and recording sessions I’ve had fun transforming my yard into a food forest. Listen in as I share some of my farming successes (and failures) with The Urban Farm Podcast! Click HERE for Part 2, where I talk about taking my urban farming journey on the road. And if you missed Part 1, you can check it out HERE.
The host, Greg Peterson, has been urban farming for decades and his personal mission is to transform the global food system through education and example. I visited his farm and was amazed at how much he was actually growing on his small property. I was so amazed, in fact, that I took one of his online courses while traveling the world with Raining Jane in 2014. Greg is offering another free webinar called 3 Simple Steps To Grow Fruits And Veggies For A Healthier Life in order to teach others how to grow their own food; click HERE for more information. I hope you’ll join us in co-creating the food revolution.