Thursday, January 22, 2015

a Special Guest Artist!!!!!!!

This is a special project update. I’ve been waiting anxiously to post this particular installment of “Meet the Players” for a while now. And finally, the day has arrived…

Kenny Loggins has recorded a duet with me for this album!! (I’ll pause while you read that sentence again. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll pause and I’LL read that sentence again!)

The song is called “Friends Like Me & You” and I wrote it with Anthony Barone & Tanya Leah, whom I could not be happier to share this experience with.

I’d like to think that Kenny’s decision to join the joy-filled, heart-centered love-fest that is this project speaks to the quality of its content. But the truth is it also speaks to the quality of the man.

So I am glad I get to say thank you publicly here for the first time. Thank you, Kenny, for contributing both your immense talent and huge heart to this project. I hope it blesses you in a big way, too. And if it’s true that what we give comes back to us tenfold, then it undoubtedly will.

Normally, this is the place in the update where I list some impressive credits so you, my beloved readers, know something about whomever I’ve just introduced. Though his voice and music have likely been a part of the soundtrack of your own lives, too, it gives me great pleasure to say…

Kenny Loggins is a Grammy-winning, Oscar nominated, multi-platinum selling artist. He has penned such classics as ”Danny’s Song,” “Celebrate Me Home,” “I’m Alright,” “Footloose” and “House at Pooh Corner.” (And I could seriously go on listing hits for another page and a half).

When I started out on this project, I could not have imagined the incredible turns it would take. I am reminded each and every day that this adventure is possible and infinitely sweeter, because all of you said, “Yes!” and are on it with me.

Question: What do Michael McDonald, Stevie Nicks, and Ilene Angel have in common?

Answer: All have recorded duets with Kenny Loggins! (#squealswithdelight, #doeshappydance)

Big, fat gratitude-filled hugs to all of you (And especially you, Kenny Loggins!)

I can’t wait for everyone to hear the song!

xo

Ilene

Sunday, January 18, 2015

the thing that changes our lives forever...

It’s a passing comment. It’s the line in a song. It’s an evening that didn’t seem all that important at the time.

We are unwitting players in each other’s lives, and most of the time, we don’t know it. I suppose that is the way it’s meant to be, like finely woven silk, almost imperceptible, but I can’t help but think we could all use a dose of knowing our own impact, if for no other reason than to bring home the point that who we are and what we say and do actually matters.

We know this when it comes to raising children – they are sponges that absorb everything that’s conveyed to them, both on spoken and unspoken levels. But the thing is – so are we all. That doesn’t stop at some magical threshold. We take in, we assimilate, and it shows up as our lives and the snapshot of the world we live in.

I’ll be honest with you, when I put it like that, even I start thinking, holy crap, we’ve got some fixing to do! But the truth is I’m really not talking about it in the negative. 

Every one of us can think of a pivotal moment, person, thing said, or event that changed our lives forever and hopefully, for the better.

Lately, I’ve taken to telling people, as much as possible, how they show up to me and what I love about them. I find that it catches people off-guard. And a lot of times, makes people uncomfortable, which kind of saddens me.

It is disconcerting for most of us to be told what a gift we are. But that is the thing we most need to hear, because how are we supposed to bring that gift to the world if we can’t even acknowledge it?

So I go for depth in a world of superficiality. I know, I’m Don Quixote. I tilt at windmills and believe in the impossible dream – that we will all not only wake up to our divine nature, but that we’ll actually embody it one day. And my dream is that today will be that day.

So how about we make a conscious effort today to see how we can build each other up. I don’t mean by saying something that isn’t true. I mean by saying something that is true.

Freak someone out – tell them you love them. (Wow, I think I might make that into greeting cards and/or bumper stickers.)

My point is we should be as free flowing with our acknowledgment, love, and appreciation as we are with our judgment, criticism, and disdain. In fact, we should be freer flowing with it.

This world is only going to change one kind word and loving gesture at a time. So today’s the day. Now’s the time. And if you’re reading this – I love you. Go ahead and freak out if you want to – just don’t forget to pass it along. It might just be the thing that changes someone’s life forever.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

a little inspiration

My friends inspire me. They do. They make me look at things differently, think differently, reach, and strive, and ultimately, live more fully. And it’s not just some of them. It’s all of them.

Yesterday, my friend Sandra asked me, “When you look back at the end of the year at 2015, what do you want it to be about? What do you want to be able to say about it?”

Holy cow! Great question. And my initial answer to her was obvious and way too small, upon contemplation. The question has been gnawing at me ever since she asked it, because I am a big believer in knowing what you want your end result to be. And yet, I’ve already declared here, in my beloved little blog, that my three words for 2015 are trust, surrender, and embrace.

So I’ve been mulling it over, because I want this to be a year of completion, turn arounds, and new beginnings. (Yes, I like things in three’s.)

I would like to impact as many people as I can profoundly and for the better with what I create. And in so doing, I would like to turn around my finances such that I not only don’t need to worry about them anymore, but so I can also be a blessing to others.

I know my fellow artists, if we’re being completely honest, feel much the same way I do. We want to do what we know our souls are called to do in this lifetime, and we want it to sustain us in this world. It’s as simple as that.

It’s bold to say that, I know. But nothing great has ever been accomplished without that kind of audacity. And frankly, if I can’t say it out loud, how likely is it that I will be able to actually do it?

I also have goals for my personal life, which are very much in keeping with the new beginnings category. I’ve wrestled a lot these past few years with how much “putting out there” is too much. I’ve written a memoir, so I’ve done that. And now, I’d like to not do that.

We live in a world that’s obsessed with social media and gossip. We have little expectation of privacy. It’s a double-edged sword, really, because some of us need to gain a following in order to have a career, but there also has to be something sacred, precious, and private in our lives. And that is a hard balance to find in the current world we live in. So each of us must navigate and determine for ourselves what is and isn’t off-limits to the world.

And also, just for the record, since we’re talking about social media, I don’t need to know if you bought a new pair of socks. Nor do I believe God really cares which football team wins. I do, however, enjoy the occasional savory food picture. (Yes, JoAnn, I am talking about you!)

There’s a famous singer/songwriter who is always posting pictures of his travels on Instagram and Facebook. He is in exotic locales all over the world. But he is always alone in these pictures, and if you ask me, he doesn’t really look all that happy. Now, obviously, someone is snapping the picture, but all I think when I look at them is what good is the travel if you are not surrounded by people who sweeten your journey?

So I know enough to be grateful for the riches I have. I don’t take for granted the people and moments that delight my heart. And as I step boldly forward in 2015, trusting, and surrendering, and embracing the adventure, I am inspired by the friends who join me, each on their own journeys, each answering the calling of their own hearts.

When you look back at the end of 2015, what do you want your year to have been about?

Let’s all start today.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. And peace and blessings to you today and always…

Ilene

Saturday, January 10, 2015

a birthday blog for my friend Lorraine!

From time to time, when some unsuspecting friend has a birthday, I feel compelled to write a blog about them. And today is Lorraine Ferro’s turn!

I first met Lorraine (insert undisclosed amount of years here, because we couldn’t possibly be that old), when I heard her sing at a Songwriters’ Hall of Fame showcase at what was then The Lone Star Roadhouse in Manhattan.

The truth is I felt the presence of God when I heard her sing, and though it’s many years, lifetimes, and songs later, that is still the case for me. And she is still quite possibly my favorite singer on planet earth or in any constellation, frankly.

Needless to say, we became fast friends and our personalities could not be more different…which is one of the things I enjoy most about being friends with Lorraine.

People come into our lives for a variety of reasons, and I can remember moments of conversations with her that have impacted my life forever and for good. And for that, I consider myself exceedingly blessed.

But that is not the only thing for which I am grateful when it comes to Lorraine. No, Lorraine has the distinction of being the one person who has introduced me to many, if not most, of my closest friends, colleagues, and people whom I love and adore. So thank you, Lorraine, for Sue, and Dan, and Nic, and Tanya, and Arnie, and Garry, and JJ, and Jera, and Sandra, and JoAnn. (I hope I haven’t left anyone out, but if I have, please know I love you, too!)

The thing about friendships spanning many years is that you walk each other through a journey containing many rites of passage. The loss of parents, the highs and lows of music careers, the shared victories and defeats, because what happens to or for one of us, happens to or for all of us. And I am as grateful for the shared tears as I am the shared joys.

So before I close out this birthday blog to go celebrate with the birthday girl herself, I want to wish Lorraine not only the happiest of days, but the gift of knowing what a beautiful soul she is and that she has impacted lives in this world in ways she can’t even begin to fathom.

May your day be joy-filled, your year be love-filled, and life be blessed.

Happy Birthday, Lorraine!
xo

Ilene
with Lorraine Ferro, Tanya Leah, & Sandra Sotero

Thursday, January 8, 2015

the first blog of 2015!

We’re a week into 2015, I’m three days into a migraine, and football season is in full swing. At least I think it is. I try not to pay that much attention to things that cause traumatic brain injury unless they impact me directly.

I’ve decided to start my spring cleaning in January, because it makes more sense to me. January is cold and we’re largely confined to our homes. It seems like the perfect time to go through and get rid of stuff. In spring, the weather is nice and who wants to be indoors cleaning? Sure, laugh all you want to, but come April, I’ll be free to frolic, and frankly…oh crap, I got so excited about seeing how many words I could come up with in a row that begin with “fr” that I forgot where I was going with this.

Anyway, we’re one week into 2015, and each year since my friend Debi told me about this, I’ve picked three words at the beginning of the year. The idea is for them to be the kind of thing that will motivate you when you’re in a pickle or tempted to give up. I, however, go with the three words that come to me first, with no effort or thought. I figure that what comes first is where my focus needs to be, my mantra, if you will. And 2015’s words are…Trust. Surrender. Embrace.

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you. My initial reaction to those three words was an expletive also starting with the letter “f.”

I have not historically been a shining example, particularly in the trust and surrender department. But I have been very clear, for some time now, that my CD project is completely, 100% about that. And I had no problem doing that in the writing of it. But the writing wasn’t where the lesson stopped. It was where it began. The recording has also been a lesson in trust and surrender and embracing what is and learning to go with it.

I am certain I will be provided with many opportunities to practice my three words in the coming year, and I hope I manage to do it with some grace this time around. (I believe there has been kicking and screaming in the past.)

No one can say for certain where life will take them. We can set our intentions, plan and act accordingly, but life has a funny way of surprising us, of taking a sudden turn in directions we hadn’t anticipated going in. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if we’re open to it.

So my intention for 2015 is to be open to something better than I expected or imagined. To embrace the journey, wherever it might lead. To trust that life has my best interests at heart. That surrendering to what is greater than I am can only lead to good.

2015 is a blank slate, a fresh start. But so much of what this year is about for me is completion. Completion of projects that have been years in the making. So I am committed to enjoying every remaining moment of the process. The people I get to work with, the love and joy brought to each detail. And equally as important, putting that love and joy out into the world and sharing it.

Whatever your goals and dreams are for 2015, whatever your own three words, I hope they take you places greater than you imagined. I hope, for the sake of our world, that we find our way back to loving each other, that we recognize that our destinies are inextricably linked, and our source is the same one, whatever we call it.

Peace and blessings to you in this New Year! Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the last blog of 2014 - because I said so!

It’s no secret that in addition to recording an album, I am also writing a book. No, it’s not another memoir. (And why am I suddenly picturing George Stephanopoulos exclaiming, “Thank God!” right about now?)

No, this book is a self help one. And I’d like to share a thought from it that I have about helping yourself become or achieve anything you say you want. It is not about acquiring or obtaining anything. It is about what you are willing to let go of.

So as 2014 gasps its last breath, what are you willing to let go of in 2015 in order to be and do and have what you want in your life?

In the spirit of thinking and committing out loud here, I am putting forth some of what I am willing to let go of…

I am willing to let go of limiting beliefs and old stories about why things can’t work out.
I am willing to let go of the person I was in order to be the person I’d like to be.
I am willing to let go of the phrase “I can’t.”
I am willing to let go of stagnant thinking.
I am willing to let go of the way I’ve always done things.
I am willing to let go of how I’ve seen myself until now.
I am willing to let go of anything that doesn’t serve my best interests or highest good.

The things I would like to keep include my sense of humor, idealism, and my cookie recipe. See, right there – priorities.

I am optimistic for the New Year ahead. We have the chance every day to make a new start, create a happier and more beautiful world simply because we decide to.

When we were little tots, our mothers, no doubt gave us a very concrete reason for things, that, in youth, we took at face value and accepted – “because I said so.”

That was all we needed to know. But somehow, when we grew up, we questioned and challenged and defied any explanation as simple and straight forward as “because I said so.” And we surely never learned that that was a viable reason with regard to our own choices.

I’d like to offer the thought that there is no external seal of approval, blessing, or permission you need to do what you want to do in life. That you want it is good enough – because you said so.

We get to have the kind of world we want when we say so.
We get to experience love and gratitude, forgiveness and redemption when we say so.
We get to know peace and joy and abundance when we say so, and not a moment sooner.

There is enough, and we are enough. And it is time to say so.

So here’s to a 2015 that’s filled with bold choices, bright ideas, the coming to fruition of the inherent greatness we all possess.


Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

...what kind of year has it been?

As the last remnants of the past year fade away, I always get a bit reflective, if not melancholy.

We like to measure things in our society by quantifiable results. Number of widgets sold, dollars made, things bought, places traveled. We want to be able to say that we’ve amounted to something we hadn’t before. And that’s commendable. I like being able to say that, too.

But what about the ways we’ve grown inside, the depth of how we love, the new foundations we’ve laid where the old have crumbled? What about the times we persevered when we were sure we couldn’t and the people we’ve become in the wake of that?

Growth is often messy, but I, for one, wouldn’t change that. I wouldn’t want to finish running a marathon and look like I never broke a sweat. I want to wear the journey with grace, but I want to wear the journey. I like knowing that the person who is sitting down writing this is not the same person who was writing a year ago. And I hope to God to be able to say the same thing next year.

I feel, in many ways, like 2014 has been a roller coaster, and what I’ve learned on the ride is that both the highs and lows are tenuous and temporary.

I’ve taken the risk of honesty, of baring my soul on more than one occasion this year, both in my life and in my writing. And I have found that no matter what the results looked like on the outside, it was a good and soul-affirming thing to be willing to be seen and known for who I truly am and how I truly feel.

Of course, of all the accomplishments I can think of for 2014, at the top of my list is recording the album In Color, which will be completed in 2015.

The journey that is and has been the making of this album has been one of the hugest opportunities for personal, professional, and spiritual growth I’ve ever experienced.

The updates I post are only one small part of the story. There are stories behind the story, which, believe me, are highly entertaining. (One involves eight people, a pot of meatballs, two iPhones, and a very creative producer. See? You’re entertained already.)

There’s something inherently beautiful about the old giving way to the new, even as we resist the whole notion of it. It’s the natural order of things. And if we could but embrace it, maybe it wouldn’t seem like such a huge monster lurking.

Maybe tomorrow is destined to be better than today. Maybe our best moments of all are still in front of us. Maybe we haven’t even begun to fathom the level of joy or love or peace or exhilaration we will experience. Maybe our greatest masterpieces have yet to be created.

I know that I am willing to let go of anything that keeps me from embracing what I was meant to do and be and have at my fullest potential. I also know that that isn’t for the faint of heart, because it means I have to be willing to do things differently, see things differently and show up differently in the world.

I am willing to entertain new thoughts, bolder dreams, a bigger set of goals, and a greater vision of what’s possible. Aren’t you? Isn’t it time? Don’t we all deserve a world that’s looks more like that?

I am so grateful for the moments I’ve shared with each and every person over the past year. I am so grateful that life brought me to you and you to me.

Whatever your greatest desire, I wish it for you tenfold.

Whatever your health, I wish you restoration, healing, and vibrancy.

Whatever your dreams, I wish you something greater than you can even imagine for yourself.

Whatever your mistakes or regrets, I wish you lessons learned, forgiveness, and the knowledge that you are wiser than you were before.

Whatever our journeys may be or wherever they may take us, together or apart, I hold as my intention for 2015 one of love, compassion, kindness, peace, fulfillment, abundance, and joy that surpass our greatest expectations.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Peace & blessings to you in the New Year!

Ilene