Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Harvest of Good Times

Halloween is nigh and that means that Christmas will be here in a blink. We've been trying to make the moments last, but with every fluttering leaf, Fall fades from our view and will soon settle beneath the snow.

Here's how we've been celebrating the harvest:

Pumpkinfest!

Every year, my sister Jenny holds what we call the "Pumpkinfest" at her organic community garden in Sandy. I'm not sure if Marni (my oldest sister) got enough pumpkins.





Thatcher and I force a smile after spending over FOUR HOURS in the ER for stitches. That's what happens when I go to school and Thatcher attempts to carve a pumpkin with a butcher knife in secret. Nice.


Baby Emmit might get wheeled away and hucked in the back of Marni's FJ.


Goblin Valley!

What better way to start October than to go camping with all the boy cousins at Goblin Valley? The weather was perfect UNTIL it stormed and hailed that night and me and the boys piled in the back of the Jeep to wait it out until morning.




Once again, me and the Thatch Man force a smile. It was a long drive for a kid with stitches.


Scarecrow Extravaganza!

My mother-in-law loves Halloween more than life itself. Every year we craft scarecrows in our own likeness and plant them in the flower bed in her front yard. But wait, which of the scarecrows above are the Real McCoy?


C'est moi.




Happy Halloween!

Dreams Revisited

One of my dreams is learning how to record my own music. Learning how to work the console here with my friend Robby Sorensen.

A few weeks ago, I created a post about dreams and asked what things you have done to live out your dreams. The responses I got were so inspiring and I have been meaning to share them for a while.

Living out your dreams doesn't always feel like an amazing out of body experience. In fact, a lot of the process involves hard work and dedication. Hangups are part of the process and only exist to make us better. I think I've experienced a few of those recently. I have loved going back and reading your experiences. Enjoy:

Amber said...
I think the simple act of saying "yes" is often the hardest.
We said "yes" to moving overseas and now I get to live my dreams of learning intimately about other cultures, varied artwork from different influences and traveling. I get to ponder and absorb why things are the way they are for some people and not others. I get to learn new artforms I never imagined. I get to see the world, not through the eyes of someone else, but through my own. It really is a dream come true. All we simply had to do was say yes to begin with.
Initial commitments are always difficult, especially when you know that what is to follow is uncertain and unknown. Terra Incognita.

Stacey said...
I stepped into my dream 10 years ago with the birth of my first child. I know that sounds cliche, but my husband and I were not able to have children ( believe me we tried :) ) We accepted the simple fact that we would have to build our family differently than we thought. We said yes to adoption and yes to a young woman willing to place her child with us. Now after 5 children, all with loving birthmother's whom we accepted into our famiy, and 17 years of marriage, I am in the dream.
.
Gerb said...
As far as dreams go, I often live mine vicariously through others. I do not say this in a self-pitying sort of way. I truly enjoy seeing others step into their dreams. For now, I would agree with Stacey's comment and say that I AM living my dream - being a mother of many is something I have always dreamed of becoming and I have been more blessed than words can describe in that regard. I could go on and on but I will leave it at that.

liahonajourney said...
This summer, my mother shared a literal dream with me,that she had. She had a dream about a baby she miscarried before I was born. She shared with me that I was very close to this sister I never knew on earth. She discovered that I was watching in heaven as the doctor took the baby from my mother's womb.
Fast forward to now, and I discovered this very literal dream explains my strong desire to make birth peaceful and right, and sacred. I've always wondered just why I've been led to pursue birth work (at the expense of being misunderstood by a lot of people). I've wondered why God has led me along this path.
My mother's dream gave me a a little glimpse into the eternities, and helped me see that our lives, and dreams come from many sources. My mother's simple sharing, gave me a needed peace to continue living my dreams.

Bri said...
What has helped me realize my dreams is seeing others living theirs. You have been a huge influence with that. I remember before your last album came out that you were a little nervous stepping out of the box that others had put you in. And look at what came of it! Such beautiful and inspiring music. When I see others taking that kind of risk it energizes me and gives me the strength to jump out of my box!
So, last fall I did just that. I started writing. I never thought I would ever write a story because others told me that I wasn't capable. You know creative people can have their quirks and I am no exception. I see and experience and process the world a little differently than others. And some see that as a draw back, a challenge, but for us in the creative world it's a gift. It’s my gift and window to creation and expression. Well, here I am 120k words later and almost finished! And what motivated me was this realization: the only thing setting a published author apart from me was that they actually wrote something and finished it. They actually stepped up and out of their comfort zone and put themselves out there, literally. So I started one of the hardest and most rewarding journeys I have ever been on. I started typing and dreaming and typing some more.
Whether my writings get published or not isn't the point for me anymore (don't get me wrong, it would be wonderful). The point is that I did it. I jumped out of that box someone tried to cram me into and I have never been happier!

riamangum said...
My dream of overcoming the trials and adversity associated with bi-polar disorder is a courageous one. I am living that dream on a daily basis. With the assistance of a wonderful Dr. and useful medication I no longer condemn myself for being "different" but rather I am grateful for my unique challenge. I am creating the life I have imagined, constantly learning and growing as a result of the strength I have gained through my experiences.

Amanda Cooper said...
My dream has been to be a published author since age 14. Five years later, I'm getting closer by going to college and started my own blog about my writing. I took writing classes to improve my editing, and was glad to meet peole who loved the same thing as me. I'm writing almost everyday, and love the journey so far.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It Starts With a Song


Last week, my friend Dan, who sits next to me in my Pro Tools class, pulled a CD out of his backpack. The CD, shiny and new, read It Starts With a Song.

"Hey, I think I'm on this CD," I said as he handed it over for me to review.

Sure enough, "You Don't Define Me" from my album Feather in the Wind was right there on the back cover. BYU decided to release a compilation CD of former students who have gone on to have "a career" in music. I left class that day somewhat amused as I asked myself, "What? What starts with a song? A seven year stint of local music that leads you right back to the classroom where you started? Ha."

As I stared into the bagel display case at the Twilight Zone on campus I pondered on my journey as a musician. Has it been worth it? Have I made much progress from where I first started? Just then, a familiar song came on over the loud speakers. It was "The Show" by one of my favorite artists, Lenka. In fact, I loved that song so much that several months earlier, I contacted the producer and asked him if he would work on my next album.

He said yes.

I took the synchronicity of hearing that song in that moment as a sign to rejoice in the fact that I have, in fact, made much progress since the first time I tried out for chamber choir in high school and did not make it. I didn't make the school musical either, nor Women's Chorus, nor Young Embassadors, nor the Music Dance Theater Program. Not even a fireside group called, "The Latter Day Sounds." (I am now somewhat relieved about that.) So I started to make my own music and write my own songs. Now I am on the cusp of working with several producers whom I really admire and no doubt this journey really did start with one little song.

Cool idea: This exercise comes from a book I love called, "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. Think of five imaginary lives you would love to live and write them down. Choose a favorite and then start living it this week. What is one step you can take in that direction? It may be picking up your paintbrush, strumming your guitar, spending more meaningful time with your children, taking a dance class, or signing up with an intramural sports team. Don't wait to create a life you love living. Just that one step may lead to three or four more until you look back and realize a thousand steps later just how far you've come.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Date Night

With heavy heart and feet lugging along like two blocks of lead on the walk to school this morning, I asked myself, What in the world am I doing? My oldest son, Jackson, had a particularly hard time saying goodbye this morning. I was late as usual, and my heart broke as I had to shut the door on a child who was fighting back tears over his own mother. As if being a performing artist wasn't enough for my kids already, I had to go and sign myself up for school. Good going, Min! Sometimes I wonder if my "above and beyond" attitude is a psychological reaction to getting married so young. Am I overcompensating for things I thought I would miss out on? Am I running from something? Is staying insanely busy a way to avoid deeper seeded issues in my life? Maybe I just have a healthy appetite for learning. I have been trying to get to the root of it all day long.

Jackson's final request this morning was to go on a date with me tonight. There is nothing I could have wanted more. We dined at Magelby's Fresh. I ordered my favorite - the halibut. Jackson ordered chocolate cake. No more, no less. He acted like a perfect gentleman, offering me a bite of his cake and chatting with me about life as an eight-year-old. Things have been improving for him at school, which is such a relief to me.

About halfway into dinner, I asked him how he felt about me being a singer.

"I love it!" he said enthusiastically. I was surprised by his support.

"What about when I have to go away?" I queried.

"That's the best part!" he responded with chocolate crumbs all over his face, "except for when you're gone too long, like when you went to New York."

"What? That was only for two days! What about when I went to Monaco for a week? Remember? When Thatcher broke his leg?"

"Oh yeah, that was awesome! He deserved it. He was chasing me down the stairs," he explained in his defense. Kids will be kids.

I have always felt that being a singer songwriter is something I was meant to be. I can't shake it from my system. I don't want to shake it from my system. I have felt God's support in continuing on this path. And in spite of some difficult times, I feel my family's sincere support. But I have also always known that my life would not look like everyone else's. And whose life does anyway? I have to figure out creative ways to make it work. Sometimes I make poor choices. I hope I can learn from those and not be too hard on myself.

I overheard two friends talking the other day. One said to the other, "I'd like to take back those things I said yesterday, " to which the other replied, "I'd like to take the things back that I said too. But we don't get to take them back. We only get to forgive each other."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Wizard Behind the Curtain


Remember that post where I gave you a personal tour through my house? Well this is another post just like that one except I'm going to take you on a personal tour of my brain. If I may, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to reveal the proverbial wizard behind the curtain.

When I wrote the last few posts about my photo shoot, I wanted to tell you how things aren't always as they appear to be and that the photo shoot I had dreamed about, was really just a so-so experience. But I was too exhausted in the moment to give my most honest, heartfelt version, so I gave the candy-coated, fairy tale one instead. Who wants to read that kind of crap? Not me.

So here's the honest version, shorthand style:

Some really meaningful moments.
Some moments where I fantasized about punching certain people in the nose.
Had an emotional break down in the shower. Cried it out.
Felt exhausted.
Felt proud of my risk taking spirit.
Didn't speak up enough.
Allowed too many cooks in the kitchen.
Learned valuable lessons on trusting my own artistic judgment.

As I look back, I clearly see how I need to be more assertive in my life. I'm a people pleaser and a peacemaker. I keep things to myself in order not to hurt feelings, which usually leads to a later outburst of emotion, (sort of like this post) accompanied by thoughts of decking the people in the face. It's a vicious cycle. But today it ends. Right here. Right now.

Am I starting to sound a little psychotic to you? It's not that I don't believe in optimism or envisioning beautiful experiences in our lives, because I really do. But if you leave my blog today remembering anything, I hope it's that nobody is perfect. Things don't always go as we plan and that's ok too. Oh yeah, and if you ever feel like punching someone in the nose, you're probably pretty darn normal.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Documentary


Are you tired of this yet? Too bad! My sister Jenny (above) and sister Lindsey (a few below) came with me on this trip and documented our experience. The photo credits go to those ladies. Don't miss the video of our interview at the end! The Glediator advised me against posting the video claiming, "no one will think it's funny but you." He is probably right. Warning: we are pathetic when we get together. Please tell me other people act like fools around their siblings.









video

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stepping Into the Dream

Pumpkinhead

My sister Jenny has a wall of beautiful photos in her home office. A photographer herself, she has always had an eye for fine art. One photo in particular spoke to me. I inquired about the print of the boy with the pumpkin head and Jenny lit up as she spoke of the original photographer. She showed me a book on her shelf from which the photo came called "Sound of Summer Running." This was my first introduction to the photography of Raymond Meeks.

I flipped through the book, wide-eyed. The images looked like the kind of dream I could step into and live in for forever. So I did just that. I picked up the phone, dialed Ray's number and stepped into the dream.

Abby Wind

Six weeks later, I found myself captured in the work of Raymond Meeks. Even the child in the photo above (now a young woman) was present, assisting her father as he shot with his fifty-year-old Graflex. We spoke about life, religion, faith, ancestors and of course, dreams. Ray told the story of how he used to go to his Italian grandmother's house where she taught him how to make the secret family sauces. He noticed that there were no pictures of her in her home. He began his career as a photographer in his mid-twenties by spending precious moments with his grandmother as he photographed her and made spaghetti sauce. She still visits him in his own dreams.

Imitation on Dance

Dreams do not have to be complex and intangible. When you find yourself living them, they feel as real as anything. Sometimes they are as simple as making a phone call or stirring up a pot of spaghetti sauce and within those simple acts, we connect with human beings who change us for forever.

Please feel free to share a simple gesture from your own life that has helped you carry out your dreams.

To find out more about Raymond Meeks and to view more of his work, visit http://www.raymondmeeks.net

All images are the copyright of the artist and protected by U.S. Copyright Laws. All rights are reserved.
Any use of the these images without express written permission by the artists is not permitted.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Proposal in Portland


For those just tuning in, I am currently immersed in the lushness of Portland, Oregon. My photographer, Raymond Meeks, my assistants (and sisters) Lindsey and Jenny, and myself dined in culinary heaven at the end of the day in a local restaurant called "DOC." When you walk in the front door, you are in the kitchen, which as part of the small dining area of the restaurant. A symphony of pots and kettles clinking along with rhythmic knives on chopping blocks filled the delicious air. We ordered the "tasting menu" which allowed our table to share a little something from every dish on the menu. I've never eaten so well in my entire life. Portland, can we get married?




Photos by Jenny Winkel

Welcome! Photo Shoot: Day 1

Discussing photography ideas for the shoot tomorrow

Welcome to my first post on my journey through the album-making process! I have dreamed of this day for the last several months since I first got up the guts to call Raymond Meeks. I had seen his book, "Sound of Summer Running" and instantly fell in love with the dreamy essence of his photography. Good thing I made such a great first impression after crashing my rental car into a curb as I pulled up to his house this morning. (Glad I got that full coverage). Even more glad that Ray is the nicest person on the planet and found my grand entrance to be somewhat comical.

The unique thing about my time with Ray today was that he planned this day as a "get to know you day." We ate the most delicious food I have ever had, we meandered down streets in downtown Portland and perused through album covers at a used record store. What normal photographer would regard taking the time to get to know their subject as this essential to the art? That's just his way.

Joining me on this trip are my sisters, Jenny and Lindsey - both amazing photographers who have long admired Ray and who also happened to act like two thirteen-year-old girls, backstage at a Jonas Brothers concert. They will be documenting this process so I will post some of their pictures later tonight. I'm falling asleep at the wheel here, but juicier details to come . . .


Little sister, Lindsey finds a new favorite coffee shop.


Inspiration for you found in a display window.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Invitation

Photo by Russ Dixon

It's been a little quiet around here lately and for good reason. Remember Cocoon Girl? Well that's just where I've been; deep in my cocoon whilst morphing my dreams into something tangibly beautiful. That's what life is all about, right?

I am extending an invitation to you to join me here on my blog as I create my next album. Step by step, I'll be documenting my writing sessions, recording sessions, PR campaign, and tour right up until my big release concert here in Utah. My hope is that this journey will in turn spark something within you to conjure up and play out your own dreams, which I would love to hear about in turn.

It all starts this Saturday, Oct. 10th, in the lovely Portland, Oregon. We'll be shooting the photography for my album cover and new website. I want to introduce you to one of my favorite photographers who has shot bands like the Cranberries and Wilco among others for Rolling Stone Magazine. Will you join me? Uh oh. I feel some serious excitement coming on. This is going to rock!

"Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil."

Allen, James on Dreams

The Old Guy

The old guy works his can off to make my yard look awesome.

In the recent past we've discussed ways to simplify life. One way I do that is through getting help in areas where I'm falling behind: LIKE MY YARD WORK. If you're like me and you could use a little assistance there, you might want to email my friend Jerry Lovelace. His yard maintenance service, "The Old Guys" has some of the best pricing I've ever seen and right now they're doing Fall clean up specials and can come give you a free estimate. Also, if you mention my blog, Jerry will give you 10% off. I almost forgot, he washes windows too! I had him do that earlier this Spring. Then of course, Jackson and Thatcher filled up water balloons and chucked them at the windows the next day. Awesome.

You can contact Jerry at colorbluejer@msn.com

.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nearer


There's quite the buzz going on about the newly released album, "Nearer" this week. Hear/read all about it here and here. What could possibly be so exciting about one more hymns album? Most would roll their eyes at the notion. However, this one really is different. This is not new age, not pop, not classical. We've heard the hymns in all of those fashions before. Geared toward the college crowd, this collection of favorite hymns was produced with an authentic indie vibe. I LOVE it. Track one is my FAVORITE. HYMN. EVER. RECORDED. So brilliant. Oh ye traditional ones! Open your minds and ears to something new! Warning: some of you may need to allow time for these songs to grow on you. Once you do, you will never look back. I almost forgot to mention that I arranged piano and recorded the vocal for "Be Still My Soul."

Fun factoid: "Nearer" is brought to you by Scott Wiley, the same producer behind my album, "Feather in the Wind." Listen to samples here and on itunes now!