Sunday, October 26, 2014

some catching up to do

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged, so I think it is time to catch up.

You’ll be happy to know that I finally have a hair strategy (long layers). I know, it was keeping you up nights. And thanks to my colorist, I will no longer be parading as my grandmother for Halloween. It’s the little things.

The record was moving along splendidly…until I caught a head cold, which halted singing for a week or so. So here’s hoping that this is the week the vocals are finally finished!

Fortunately, during the couch phase of my cold, I was able to work on my book. Have I talked about the book? It’s a self-help book…for people not ordinarily inclined to read self-help books. And also, for people who would be inclined to read self-help books. Why discriminate? Besides, since ruling out bra shopping on Ebay (see blog for reference: In Search of...everything must go), Ilene needs, well, you can never underestimate the importance of fine foundation garments. Speaking of which, did anyone know that Spanx makes jeans?!! They’re $148. Of course, I could just go to the gym and buy regular jeans. Wait, how did I veer so off-course with this blog?

Oh yes, now I remember. I do not recommend working on multiple projects as huge as a record and a book simultaneously. It puts the brain on overload…or is it overwhelm…or maybe it’s overboard. On the other hand, it does temporarily keep me away from the high end makeup, shoes, and handbags. Temporarily.

On a more serious and celebratory note, my father turned 86 this week, and for all those of you who “liked” and commented on the pictures on Facebook, thank you. I showed them to him, and he was overjoyed at the outpouring of affection.

Time is a gift we’re given if we’re lucky. We mostly take it for granted until life stops us short and wakes us up – that’s if we’re lucky. But me, I’ve always been aware that time is fleeting and savoring the precious moments is the thing to do.

Every moment holds within it the choice to be happy and to recognize the beauty. Yes, we all strive to be something more and somewhere greater, but the truth is this moment encompasses the totality of all that is. So I say we should find a way to wring every ounce of joy out of it and stay open to allowing for something better than we know how to contemplate.

A friend of mine just started doing standup comedy. I think it’s the bravest thing I’ve seen anybody do, just get up there, with nothing and no one else, and make people laugh. Though I haven’t asked her the reason for this choice, I’ve known her a long time and never once heard of a burning desire to do standup. But knowing Jeryl, I think it’s to broaden her own perception of herself and what she is capable of.

What would happen if we would all take the limits off ourselves? What could we accomplish if we erased the idea of “I can’t,” or “I could never?”

One of my favorite quotes is, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

People think happiness lies in the obtaining of or accomplishing of something. I have found it to be in the moments I truly believed anything was possible, in the excitement of imagining my wildest dreams coming true. I think joy is equated with possibility. And possibility is endless.

Celebrate what you can while you can. Laugh heartily. Dream big. Love passionately. Be generous with compliments. Know that you are destined for greatness. And that greatness is found in the smallest of moments where we rise to the occasion of being ourselves.

Thanks so much for stopping by, catching up, and spending a little time with me. I appreciate you.

Peace & blessings,


Sunday, October 5, 2014

a project update with a video clip!!!

Did you ever hear a song on the radio that made you pull over to the side of road just to listen to it? Is there one you and your friends would sing and act out the respective parts to? Was there that concert where you got out the Bic lighter (the predecessor of our cell phones) and waved it in the air, singing along at the top of your lungs? And don’t those songs just wrap themselves around you still, like a warm hug when you hear them?

Well, one of the cool things about making this record has been having the opportunity to think about what made each of those types of songs I loved special, and then writing something that both respects and carries on that legacy.

And that brings me to – the anthem. You gotta have an anthem. The one everybody sings along with after hearing it only once, the one that has a message that bears repeating (a whole bunch of times).

Mine is called “We are the Ones.” And what better way to have a sing along than to actually have friends sing along with me on the record?!! (Of course, this would never work if all your friends were tone deaf, but that only occurred to me after realizing all my friends sang.)

So here’s a little video clip of “Ilene’s Angels” rehearsing “We are the Ones” this past week.

I can’t wait for you to hear it when all the moving parts are put together!

We’re getting closer and closer to the finished album, and I could not appreciate you being part of it more!

Huge grateful hugs to every single one of you!

with Tanya Leah, Anthony Barone, BethAnne Clayton, Garry Novikoff, Arnie Roman, Jeryl Brunner, and Marvin Levy

Thursday, September 25, 2014

a moment's gratitude

Taking a moment to stand in gratitude today for all the love in my life and for life itself -

For friends new and old who never cease to overwhelm me with the gift of their friendship and who always stand as a ready example of kindness, generosity, compassion and support.

For family near and far who are my greatest blessings whether or not we are in constant touch.

For the breathtaking innocence of children and staggering beauty and wisdom of the elderly.

For dreams that are coming true this very moment, and for the multitude of ways that the universe meets me when I practice the courage of following my heart.

For the calm waters and ferocious storms that remind me that life is ebb and flow and never stagnant.

For change when it both excites and scares me.

For a sense of humor, because, really, that sweetens even the most difficult moments.

For anything and everything that ignites passion within. And for anyone and everyone who ignites passion within.

For moments that become precious memories lasting all eternity.

For a new day, another chance, unexpected opportunity, the willingness to grow and transform and become the greatest version of myself.

For having enough awareness to be grateful and happy and always on the lookout for more to be thankful about.

Peace and blessings to all...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

putting it out there...and letting it go

A friend recently asked me if I had a “hair strategy.” I suppose the question in and of itself meant that there was not an obvious one. But it did get me thinking, because I seem to be in a very transitional time, and not just with my hair.

It seems that the male of the species is fonder of longer hair on the female of the species, and I have no idea why I’m talking like a National Geographic TV documentary, but the point is I’m sure there is some scientific data to support this hair thing.

I’ve worn my curly hair short for a lot of years now, so it was time for a change…and truth be told, I’m kind of enjoying the new found attention accompanying my longer locks. Plus, I’ll be able to toss my hair around like a rock star on stage. I’ll get back to you on whether the head tossing necessitates any chiropractic visits or a neck brace, but for now, I’ve gotta go for it on account of you only live once.

My tendrils aside, sometimes you’re just ready for a change from the way you’ve been doing things and I’ve been on that path of change for a while now.

Some change is visible, like the hair, but other things are more subtle and creep up on you, like the events of this coming weekend.

As a songwriter, once your work is out in the world, it’s out there. And it takes some getting used to when you realize that people will perform it, listen to it, hum it, and relate to it, all without your presence.

Songs take on a life of their own, and people relate to them in a way that is unique to them. The meaning they derive will be associated with where they were, both literally and figuratively, when they first heard your song, who they were with, what was going on in their lives and in their hearts.

If you’re lucky, your songs will become a part of their soundtrack, the sense memory with which they associate love or heartache, an old friend, or the feeling of being truly understood.

That’s the stuff to which we writers aspire – at least I think most of us do. Who wouldn’t want to be a meaningful part of someone’s life? It’s an honor and a privilege.

That being said, there is transition involved, when a song goes from being yours, your baby, your creation, to belonging to the world. It feels weird. You want to be there to witness it on its journey. You want to know you did good.

And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get that opportunity. But sometimes, like this weekend, I cannot be there and I must make peace with that as my work sails off.

I spent a couple of years writing songs every day with Sue Fabisch, my trusted friend and #1 Disney song collaborator. They are the songs that will be debuted this weekend in a new children’s musical called Poppy’s Pizza Palace.

I could not be happier to be part of something that will entertain kids and their parents, while still containing a message. I’m always about the message. So Sue’s book and our songs will hit the stage this Friday and Saturday night at 7pm at Christ Fellowship in Franklin, Tennessee. (Message Sue here if you want to reserve tickets. Sue's FB page  Seating is limited.)

And at the complete other end of the spectrum, but also this Saturday, acclaimed cabaret singer, Corinna Sowers-Adler will be performing a blues song that I wrote called “Even New York…” and doing it with her fabulous band at The Metropolitan Room in New York City. (For reservations, go here: Metropolitan Room reservations). 

I had the privilege of hearing Corinna and the band do the song at 54 Below a few months ago, so I know it will, again, be phenomenal. (Here’s a video of it at 54 Below: "Even New York" at 54 Below)

So I’m letting go now, and letting these songs travel the journey they are meant to. The next set of songs I will get to travel with somewhat, because they are the ones on my album so I'll be performing them out and about, and that, too, will be a new experience and a change for me, being the artist instead of just the writer. 

In the meantime, I’ll be developing a hair strategy, because, evidently, I’m in need of one.

Thanks for stopping by, and supporting the work I do, whether in Nashville, New York, or anywhere else. I appreciate it and hope you enjoy it!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

a September 11th blog, 2014

We have a short attention span as a nation. We bore easily, get restless and want to move on to the next thing. We respond to only the most shocking, and as time progresses, we don’t shock so easily. We can watch our own citizens get beheaded in foreign countries, a nine year old girl fire an Uzi perfectly legally on U.S. soil, and we don’t blink. What does that say about us?

I’m wondering how love and peace stand a chance today, when their impact is so subtle yet profound, but their appearance doesn’t carry the explosiveness of, say, a Bruce Willis movie.

Anyone who was alive at the time can tell you where they were on 9/11/2001. It is indelibly etched in our psyches. The horror. The fear. The overwhelming devastation. In a moment of news footage, we can all remember exactly how we felt that day. And for five minutes, we were all one human family – worldwide.

But it’s thirteen years later now. And the lessons of unity on that day seem a distant memory now. We’ve gone back to the divisiveness of our best economic interests, the separateness of different religious faiths and practices, the polarity of political parties. We’ve forgotten what the coming together felt like. We’ve forgotten that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers. We prefer autonomy to compromise, judgment to compassion.

It is not a popular view to believe in non-violence, yet, when you ask anyone, they would most surely say they want peace.

It is not a popular view to say that love is the answer, but ask anyone, and they will most surely tell you they abhor hatred.

This world is a reflection of each one of us. There can be no experience that each of us is not embodying the characteristics of on some level, even if it’s by the sin of omission – the not speaking up, the not helping out, the deafening silence when our voices are needed most.

Some would argue it’s a fool’s errand to talk about peace and love in our climate of war and hatred. Some would say it is not the time. But I think it is precisely the time. In fact, there is no better time than right now.

No matter what circumstances anyone in the world is living in at this moment, what resides in our hearts and minds remains purely our own decision. Peace or contentiousness, love or separation – these choices are ours.

Loving those we disagree with at a core level is not an act of weakness; it is an act of strength. Speaking out for peace is not cowardice; it is bravery. Case in point: how many people are willing to do it?

September 11th is a sacred memorial only to the degree that we have become something more or better because of it. So on this day of remembering, I send love and peace from my soul to yours and healing to anyone who is hurting in any corner of the globe.

Thank you for stopping by.

Blessings to you always,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

a project update!!

How’s about a project update?!!! (If you're asking, "What project?" then go here: The Gratitude Project)

So here’s the thing about working on a long term project like a record album – you work very long and often, odd hours.

Therefore, the first thing on my mind is not usually how I look, but rather how I show up sounding. Also, “What are we eating?” is usually a thought that arises somewhere past proper mealtimes and before fainting.

Frequently, I’m wearing no makeup and my ever-changing longer hair is hanging attractively in my face or pulled off it such that I resemble Pebbles from The Flinstones. It’s an attractive look.

So the real time recording session video updates have not happened…yet. In the meantime, I’ve got a couple of stills of life in studio. And I could not be more excited about how this project is taking shape.

The people joining me on this record are Grammy winning musicians who have played with the biggest artists in the business, and you have definitely seen and heard them either on TV or in concert.

In a few weeks, I’ll reveal some of their names, but suffice it to say that I am over-the-moon excited about the caliber and spirit of everyone creating it, and that most definitely includes you.

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on vocals for what I call the “Fortune Cookie Song.” One night, I received a fortune that said, “Take the chance while you still have the choice.” It was before this project even had the remotest possibility of existing, but it was a directive that I took…and here we are.

This project has been a much longer and more involved endeavor than I ever imagined going into it. But then again, all things that are worthwhile are. But every step of it has been an opportunity to grow and expand as an artist and as a human being.

It is a testament to the message of each of us fulfilling our destiny that you are a part of it and that such amazing talents are sharing theirs on this record.

Thank you for hanging in there with me for the duration. I think it’ll be worth the wait! 

Big, grateful hugs to each and every one of you,

self explanatory

A work in progress - album notes

Friday, September 5, 2014

everything must go

I was going to write some sort of tribute blog about another great comedic loss we suffered this week – Joan Rivers. I was poised and ready to be poignant, but then I discovered something today that made me laugh so hard I felt certain Joan herself was egging me on, daring me to talk about it. So here it is: People sell their bras on eBay. I know, I know. I’ll wait while you read that sentence one more time.

Well, you know that got my wheels turning. You see, I’ve been selling stuff on eBay lately. “What, and why?” you ask. Well, pretty much everything that isn’t nailed down, because a) I’m making a record that I need to finish funding, and b) Did we really need all that stuff, anyway?

But silly me, I thought the antique Japanese plates, combat boots, or the first season of Little House on the Prairie on DVD would sell. But noooo. Bras, on the other hand – like hotcakes.

Now might be a good time to mention that people are not only selling their bras on eBay, but their panties as well. And not all of them are new. Some are what they call “pre-owned.”

I think I speak for most of us when I say that’s the grossest thing I’ve ever heard ever. Sure, I could offer some deep psychological analysis about anyone buying someone else’s used underwear on eBay, let alone selling it. However, I found myself looking to see if there were any bras (new and with the tags still on them, of course) in my size and how much they were going for.

The bigger the cup size, the higher the asking price – even on eBay. Have you people no shame? Is it really that much more fabric?

Then it dawned on me, “Hey, I wonder if I have any bras I never wore with the tags still on them?” (I’d only sell unused ones, because that’s just the kind of caring person I am.)

Screw the Japanese plates. Maybe I can finish funding my project with my breasts. Pure genius. And I don’t know why, but there’s something oddly poetic about that to me.

Who’s laughing at all those Dolly Parton jokes now, huh? And think what a great story it would make when I play out!

So as I rifle through my satin and lace in search of hidden cash and/or a decent fitting bra I’ve long forgotten about, I invite you to find the humor in whatever absurd situations you find yourself in. Life is short, and laughing sweetens the journey.

Thanks for stopping by. And please support the arts: buy my bra.

Rest in peace, Joan Rivers.