little epiphanies


By | just do it, little epiphanies, music, performance, the pursuit | 4 Comments


Over the years Ive had a weird and unhealthy relationship with performing. I always felt like i never chose this life. It chose me. And because I ‘didnt have a choice’ I felt unqualified to make music b/c I hadnt been trained traditionally. My biggest fear was (and is) playing in front of other musicians b/c it was the one place people would listen to me with critical ears and I would ultimately be exposed for being an imposter – someone who has no idea whether shes playing a Gsus or G7 or Gwhatever. Someone who is faking it until she makes it.

Its a weird feeling thinking of all the doors that have opened up over the past year – wondering how it happened and worrying whether or not I will mess it up. These days I have learned to ask myself a very important question when I get off stage after a bad set: “What do I think happened and what actually happened?“ Reality and perception are two very different things, and often we confuse them and make them the same. This question has really helped to steer me away from those moments when all I wanna do is rip myself apart and say “YOU SUCK! You shouldnt be here. They only clapped b/c thats what theyre supposed to do“. If there is one thing I know now, its that musicians make mistakes…all the time. They just get better at hiding them :) If there is anything else I know, its that the more you practice, the better you get. These are two facts that I wish the 21-year old version of me knew 11 years ago, although to be honest, Im not sure it would have saved me from any of my episodes of self-deprecation.

Ive also begun to tell myself one other thing (this time before I get on stage): “this show is not about you. you are simply the messenger delivering the message. Someone needs to be encouraged. Someone else needs to access a buried emotion. Someone else just really needs to have a good time tonight. Help them do that with your music.“ Reminding myself of this keeps me from wallowing in self pity, constantly apologizing on stage for my imperfections, and making awkward comments to distract people from the fact that I’m very uncomfortable. Over the years, I’ve frozen up on stage out of the fear that I wouldn’t perform flawlessly (ironic), I’ve kept to myself b/c I felt I wasn’t good enough to associate with certain people of a higher musical caliber, I’ve made one apology after another after another.

So you played a song and you hit a wrong note…or two…or three. It’s ok. Now they all know you’re human.  When it comes down to it, music makes people happy, it enriches their lives. And it’s your gift to give to the world. Don’t hoard it. Everybody already knows you’re not perfect, but it finally becomes fun when you accept it.

#357 Teamwork!

By | little epiphanies, touring | No Comments

If I were to base my opinion of NYC solely off of yesterday’s experience, I would tell you that I LOVE New York City!  If you know anything about my past experiences there, you’ll understand why that’s a pretty huge statement coming from me. Especially if you take a few minutes to read post #47: “Trouble“. I wrote it almost exactly one year ago to the day!

my neighbor, Rachel

But yesterday was special indeed. and it reminded me of something I already knew – no job is too big when you have many workers. Upon arriving in New York, my friend Andrew and his girlfriend Alexandra had me over for an early dinner. After dinner we were running late to the venue and Andrew took my keys and offered to drive so I could focus on contacting the venue about my delay and making a few other last minute connections. Andrew helped shave 10 minutes off the GPS time and got us to the venue in time for a soundcheck  (20 minutes before doors opened). Upon arriving to to the venue, Alexandra hopped out with me and helped me load in while Andrew helped me park my car. And Rachel – my neighbor who lives 10 houses down from me in Pittsburgh and was coincidentally in NYC for the weekend- arrived to set up and run my merchandise table.

The only thing I had to do last night was soundcheck, tune my ukulele and pick a set list. And when i got on stage, I felt more stress-free than I have felt in a long time. Up until today I’ve never fully realized how doing everything has taken a toll on me and kept me from focusing on the main thing. It distracts me and keeps me from playing well, fully connecting with people, and  feeling like I’m operating in the moment. I’m so used to wearing so many hats and thinking about what comes next so that everything can flow smoothly.

Alex and Andrew

Anyhow, I told Andrew, Alexandra, and Rachel that I feel so indebted to them for making last night run so well. They told me that I didn’t owe them anything and that they enjoyed being there. And i decided that I need to stop being afraid to ask people for help and feeling like I owe them something when they do offer their time. Most times people feel rewarded simply because they get to be a part of the big picture. Anyhow, here’s to Andrew, Alex, and Rachel!  I honestly don’t know how I could have done yesterday by myself. Thank you guys so much!



#341 Poison

By | life, little epiphanies, people | No Comments

After months and months of thinking about this, observing people, and a conversation I just had with my sister, this is what I know to be a FACT: Living a life where you all you care about is yourself and your own self interest is poison! It’s miserable and you should stop doing it because you will be lonely.

#276 The Process

By | art, little epiphanies | No Comments

I missed going to this year’s International Arts Movement conference, so I’ve been catching up through the videos. Here’s a great one about the process of making art and why it’s more important than the art itself. I really appreciate this speech.


#252 hospitality existed before hotels

By | little epiphanies | 2 Comments

lonelyIt’s easy to tell when someone doesn’t want you around, right? After all, it doesn’t take much effort to not care. All it really requires is pretending you’re not in the room with them. If someone can pretend they’re the only one in the room, then that solves the problem of actually having to care.

I say this, because I see this all the time. I’m no expert really. But as someone who spends alot of time meeting people, talking to people, and singing songs for people, I feel like I’ve become a fairly ok people-reader. But like i said, I’m not an expert.

Right now I’m bugged with the lack of effort we put into caring about other people. I dunno where we got the idea that hospitality is something that involves money – like we have to pay people in order for them to be nice to us, otherwise we shouldn’t expect it. That’s total BS. And it lets everyone off the hook. The problem with hospitality (or the lack thereof) is that nobody treats it like a human right. But the United Nations can claim that Internet access is? Everything just feels twisted.

Honestly, it doesn’t take much effort to not care, but at a certain point it actually starts to take tons effort. You have to start looking the other way on purpose, or closing your eyes when someone needs help carrying a box. You have to smolder a laugh when someone falls instead of trying to help them up. You have to pretend you’re sleeping when someone walks into the room so you don’t have to talk to them. You have to act really really busy so that your co-worker doesn’t start talking to you like normal humans do. See, that actually takes effort.

I’m just really sad right now because I see how much effort people put into not caring and it’s killing us. It’s like a frog in slow-boiling water. You don’t realize it because it’s happening slowly. This autonomy of yours is the death of you.



#245 Don’t You Believe Those Lies…

By | little epiphanies, music, Songs & Lyrics, the pursuit | No Comments

Keep a healthy distance
But now he quits for less
Why such warm resistance?
We’ve yet begun to begin

Grey is the danger
Keeps you from all you are
Why do you leave your maker
To wander and wander so far?

It’s a difficult path
It’s a narrow way,
Oh oh oh oh
You shift you will shape

I I I I know
I I I I I caught a glimps of the other side

I’m your biggest fan
Don’t you believe those lies
The heart’s a tender thing
Keep it soft and ripe on its fire

It’s a difficult path
It’s a narrow way,
Oh oh oh oh
You shift you will shape

I I I I know
I I I I I caught a glimps of the other side
Where good and evil do collide
It’s time you know, you know the truth

#241 Ruminate

By | little epiphanies, random, Uncategorized | No Comments

Last night i learned the definition Ruminate from my dear friend Christine. She’s super smart.

Ruminate, as most of us know it, means to meditate, muse, or dwell on something for a considerably long time. Christine shared that the word actually comes from cows whose stomach (the first stomach in their system) is called the Rumen.  As they chew their food and swallow, it goes down into their first stomach, lingers for a bit, and then they bring it back up and chew on it some more before swallowing once again.

This is disgusting!

But it’s an excellent visual for what it looks like to really consider something. Knowing the origin of this word helps me alot. It helps me understand the importance of sitting on an idea and considering it fully before jumping into it. It also makes me think of the act of writing and playing music – the whole idea of creating something, letting it go down into your Spirit and bringing it back up to refine it and make something that’s really worth swallowing.

I have a feeling that the good things in life involve alot of ruminating.



#237 20 Things To Know Before You’re 30

By | life, little epiphanies | No Comments

Relevant Magazine put out this article today and it’s great! Reading over these I can’t believe how spot-on they are. Hard to believe that so much can happen internally in a decade, but it does! Here are the first 7. You can visit the page to read the rest!

1. Time is limited, so invest it in things that matter. I remember the days of wasting my time away on meaningless things. Now that I’m older, I see that my time is valuable and limited.

2. Say no to one-way friendships. Not only is it important to use your time wisely, it’s crucial to spend it with people that care. So much of our time is wasted on superficial friendships and obligations. Invest in people who are worth investing in.

3. It doesn’t matter what people think of you, and you can’t please everyone. Often, your twenties are defined by living a roller coaster life, allowing the choices and decisions of others affect you rather than taking control of your own life. It’s sad to say that so many years are spent defining yourself by others, instead of for the sake of who God has called you to be.

4. Life is more expensive than you think it is. This life lesson isn’t fun. But it’s amazing how much $100 seems to a 20-year-old, and how little it seems to a 30-year-old. As you get older, you learn to really see the value of money and how to spend and use it wisely.

5. Being healthy matters. You realize you’re no longer invincible when the aches and pains begin to slowly creep into your life. And it only gets worse—or so I hear. Learn to appreciate your health, and to be more proactive about taking it seriously.

6. Joy can come from unexpected places. So many things that may have never seemed fun in my younger years have taken on a whole new meaning. As life gets more complicated, you learn to take more joy in the simple things.

7. You should value your parents. You will make the same mistakes as they did. The older you get, the more you realize your own flaws, and it helps you have grace for the flaws of others. We’ve all gotten to that moment where we realize that in so many ways we are just like our parents.

Read numbers 8-20

#230 Stickin’ With It

By | little epiphanies, purpose, the pursuit, Uncategorized | One Comment

Today, parked at 61C Cafe, I ran into a friend that I often see also parked at 61C. I see this guy pretty often – whether it be the library, at Commonplace Coffeehouse up the road, or in Crazy Mocha down the road. He sits at his computer and types away daily. I’ve seen him doing this for years. He’s a writer.

Today as he entered 61C I greeted him and asked how he was doing and he responded, “Oh y’know. Stickin’ with it.

To me, this is one of the best responses I’ve ever gotten to the world’s most boring questions. That response has been lingering with me all day.

Some days I find that I am looking for excitement.  The next most exciting show. A day that trumps all other days. A tour that surpasses all other tours. An exciting email that explodes my laptop into a million pieces as I too type away on these keys all day sending booking emails, promoting shows, creating Facebook status updates that get others excited about shows. The list goes on and on and on…

Other days I curl up in my bed for an extra hour and say, “I don’t wanna do this anymore. What the hell am I doing with my life?! Why is this so hard? And why do I even care? Do I care? Do I even really care anymore?

“Stickin’ with it” is the hardest thing I have ever done. And as I wrestle daily with not knowing why I’m sticking with it, I am encouraged by so many people who are also “stickin’ with it”. After reading Jeff Goins’ post this morning: The First Step to Making a Difference: Get Out of Bed and listening to this awesome TEDTalk Lecture by Amy Cuddy last night, I feel like I can keep “sticking with it.”

Sticking with it SUCKS! But it’s also the BEST thing that has ever happened to me!