Fall ( and October in particular) is my favorite part of the year. There is something about the weather turning that invites introspection. It's a time for quiet growth and transformation, to cross into the underworlds of our souls and embrace the fires of rebirth. In honor of this "let's eff everything up and start over" energy, a playlist
10 . Focus on the people who LIKE you instead of the folks that don't.
There is this temptation to spend a lot of time and energy trying to convert someone. Don't. Instead focus on giving the people that already like you more reasons to continue to like you.
9 . Find what works for you instead of trying to conform to what you've always been told to do.
I tried to do a standard 40 hour work week when I first started making music and nothing really got done. Much like when I worked in an office, I tried to fill those hours with busy work, but when a project or show actually turned up, my energy was already depleted. What does work for me is to use my creative energy to get ahead, even when it means long days for a little while. I then can let some things run on autopilot so I can recover my energy and focus on the projects and performances that really matter . Work that is done when I'm excited about it is always way better than work I do when I'm tired and grumpy anyway.
8 . Prioritize silence.
Give yourself some room to know what your inner voice sounds like. It doesn't have to be structured meditation, just quiet time when no one else's ideas or perspectives are intruding.
7 . Just make things.
Some will be bad, some will be good. Usually the bad things are what lead to the good things. Everyone makes some bad art, so don't define yourself by it. Just keep playing and experimenting and having fun with it and you may just make something you're proud of.
6 . Be focused instead of busy.
You know that one friend you has that serial dates like it's a job and has no luck with it? Creative work reacts similarly to hustling. Have some structure, make some goals and put in the time for them, but don't anxiously try to force things to happen. Instead, prioritize what really matters.
5 . Always be open to new ideas, but know who you are at the same time.
Well meaning people will always offer advice, reading lists, and new ideas no matter how successful you are, and sometimes those ideas are genuinely awesome, or you'll discover your new favorite book, or band, or way of looking at the world. Sometimes it's just best to smile and nod and say thankyou and keep doing what you're doing. The more clear you are on where you're going and how you're would like to arrive, the easier it is to graciously sort through ideas and advice.
4 . Create rituals that nurture your spirit.
Rituals don't have to be elaborate or over the top, in fact the more time I have put into planning something the less likely I am to do it. I am a spontaneous person and have become a fan of spontaneous rituals. For me, that means listening to that little voice that says THIS IS SUBSTANTIAL and briefly handing over the reigns to my intuition to do something that feels right. Rituals can be as simple as day dreaming over coffee in the morning, or lighting a candle and saying a prayer. It's important to just be a person existing sometimes instead of performing all of the layers of personas we wear. Rituals signal to that little part of you that is just you that it's safe to come out.
3 . Be Pragmatic, but believe in Magic.
In other words, do your work, show up, make goals, follow through, and also believe that good things can and will happen above and beyond what you were expecting. Magic is about hope, ultimately, and believing that you have the power in your life to create a livelihood, or relationship, or whatever else that 100% suits you as an individual. Without magic, it's easy to give other people power over your reality. We've all grown up with our little templates of what is and is not possible, and let me tell you being a full time musician with lots of amazing supportive people who love my music and want me to succeed was absolutely not in my initial template.
2 . Team up with people that aregood at the things you aren't as good at.
I am not naturally organized, but my friend Jen (over at @urbansproutsstore) is, so we have regular work days together. She gets to draw on my creativity and "out of the box" thinking, and I get a chance to draw from her focus and dedication. Even when we aren't working on things together, having someone I can check in with keeps me on task.
1 . Don't take yourself so seriously.
When I was just starting out I had a lot of insecurity regarding "making it" and as a result I kind of over compensated by embracing certain traits I thought would identify me as an artiste. You know how sometimes you see photos of a certain phase you may have been going through in middle school or high school and it just PAINS you? That is how I feel about my "serious" musician phase. Don't get me wrong, music is my job and I treat it respectfully, but the world doesn't depend on my success and it won't crash down if I fail. Everyone's lives will still carry on more or less the same no matter what I do, which is freeing.
We chase our ecstacies as if bliss is a switch that gets flipped after you cross all the things off of your to do list. We persue it up mountain tops, through bass throbing clubs, and into the arms of strangers. We chase it up the corporate ladder. Through late, over worked nights. In high heals and concrictive ties we push and we push and we push and push. All the while the answer is clutched in the claws of our monster-beauty truths.
Nothing pains me more then hearing my favorite Joseph Campbell quote thrown around like so much cliché copy with complete disregard for the lifetime of work that went behind it. Following your bliss isn't about achieving upper middle classhood. It's not about traveling the world. It's not about commercial success. Sometimes these things happen as positive side effects, but the reality is that following your bliss is not about every day pleasure, but instead about that spiritual exhalation when you're truth is released from constrictive societal expectations. It's about refusing to conform to and instead enacting change in a world that demands unquestioning servitude.
You can't"follow your bliss" without the heroes journey, and the heroes journey is largely torturous. It involves dying, going into the underworld, failing painfully and repeatedly. It's about evolving above your greatest fears, learning to appreciate your present, and refining wisdom. Even as you're going through some of the most challenging, torturous periods of your life you will still be happier then you ever were when you were trying to box yourself into being someone else.
For my parents, it means constantly evolving careers that honor their commitment to nurturing people's goodness. For my boyfriend it meant living out of a van for three years while touring with his band. For me, it means making the music that I feel compelled to create instead of thinking about hits. For you, it might not mean what you think, in fact it might be something you're scared to even entertain.
We all love sunsets on tropical beaches and many of us crave the sense of freedom we think world travel will bring, but none of that is "following your bliss". Instead, we must have the courage to unleash our deepest truths and to consciously curate the person we were meant to be. It's not sexy work, but in the end, it's the only work that matters.