Renew and Affirm • Daily Thoughts

A chance to begin again and affirm the beliefs that shape our experience. We live in the present, so our goals must begin presently. The past is over and the future is the unknown, events occur in the ‘now’ which is within 15 seconds of when it happens. We have power over what we pay attention to. I can spend that 15 seconds on nourishment or negativity, only one will feed me.

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
― George Harrison

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Source of Frustration • Daily Thoughts

Water can taste bad, but I need it to survive. Does water even have a taste? I don’t like to buy it. I like it cold. I add lemon. I distract myself. I make the experience special. I choose to change my perception, so I don’t feel compelled to change what is out of my control.

Smoke detectors beeping are out of my control. The sharp sound really drives me up a wall. (Beep). Why do these little blips get under my skin? (Beep). Address the problem. Change the battery. (Beep). My irritation has derailed my focus, so I go on a rampage throughout the house to find the source of the noise. (Beep). Every time I hear the sound, it is a reminder. I must flip the script. Stop and breath. (Beep).

Am I required to do something or is it an annoyance to ignore? I must walk away or find a solution. (Beep). Internal strife and external distraction are both factors pointing back to me. Acceptance. Close the door. (Beep). Turn the music up. Let it be. (Beep). (Beep). (Beep).

Guided by Bob Pollard

June is the season I was introduced to Guided by Voices. In my mind, they are really more of a live band, with Bob Pollard doing karate kicks, swinging the mic around in one hand and a bottle of Budweiser in the other. I first saw GBV play at Irving Plaza in New York City when I was 19, right around my birthday, June 20th. I never heard of them, but went because my friend dragged me out. I was blown away. Tobin Sprout was still playing guitar, right before Alien Lanes came out. The song that captures me was Over The Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox. I remember the feeling of melting into the crowd when he says “and if you do, I’ll come back and marry you.” After that I was hooked.

Within a week, I bought the Vampire on Titus / Propeller dual album. Then I digested the Lo-fi sound, which was a characteristic that somehow highlighted the emotional sensitivity of Bob’s songwriting. Making it accessible and relatable to the Tascam Porta One cassette 4-track I started out recording with.

I would also spend my 21st birthday seeing them at the Trocadero in Philly. Actually a couple days before, which kept me from drinking at the bar. So my friend and I chugged some 40’s of St. Ides in the alley before the show.

Summer was the season that I realized my dream to rock on stage and expose myself in my recordings, more like a diary than an album. I am 45 this year and so grateful Robert Pollard & Guided By Voices have been in my life.

Guided by Voices in performance. Photo: Gretchen Robinette.

Making music is such a massive part of who I am. In a way, it is my religion, and performing on stage is a spiritual experience. I always thought it was because my father was a musician and it might have been a way to relate because he was often not around. I wanted a language we could both communicate in. But in this moment I realize it was Bob, with the same name as my father, that guided me to the life of songwriting and performing that I cultivated.

This is the season I dust off the GBV catalog (now in my iTunes… always wanted the original box set on vinyl) and celebrate over 25 years of rocking out with this influential band. The club is fucking open.

Guided by Voices at the Social. Photo: Jen Cray.

Self-Discipline • Daily Thoughts

Advocate for your own well-being. We can train ourselves to be kinder. We are able to program ourselves for success. It may sound like hard work, but that is our mind talking. Our spirit will be thanking us. There is a resistance to change that occurs at first, but after a few days or weeks, we adapt. It’s an amazing human trait.

The first and best victory is to conquer self. – Plato

Once we get in the habit of putting challenges in front of us, the better we can deal with ones that are not by choice. It is this practice that gives us the confidence we need to acquire the ability to achieve. We provide evidence to our subconscious that is difficult for our minds to deny. These are baby steps to big change. Begin with making your bed in the morning, doing the dishes after meals, then you will be teaching yourself things beyond your wildest imagination. Imagine the possibilities.

Together We Stand • Daily Thoughts

( June 2nd, 2020 ) Peace, Love and Unity. Some might say that is idealistic. Others would argue that someone is to blame for our division. The distinction of subtle differences has often been amplified to create a separation between individuals that are more alike than not. We require oxygen to breath. We laugh when we find something amusing. We hold loved ones close when we are affectionate or need comfort when we are sad. All very human traits. Then why do people find it so difficult to unify humanity for a common good?

There is no Us and Them, there is only We. And we are part of a greater whole, which must function as one in order to thrive.

In many ways our society has advanced, but so much remains the same as it has for centuries. Is it in our nature to always be so conflicted? Maybe we are really at odds with ourselves, and project that internal struggle onto others. The more I consider our current situation, I believe healing must begin with a willingness to listen. When we feel that we have been heard and a genuine effort to understand us has been made, mutual consideration can occur, perspectives can change. However, that process can not be accomplished alone.

Photo by DeMarius Champ Kilpatrick
March in Brooklyn – June 1st, 2020
(Photo by DeMarius Champ Kilpatrick)

It is possible to make morality a priority and encourage compassion for every human being. But there are corporations that capitalize on oppression. There are powerful establishments that stimulate confusion for their own gain. Our government has intentionally divided us to make our population more manageable. There is no question that we must work together, as a civil society, to progress past these obstacles. There is no Us and Them, there is only We. And we are part of a greater whole, which must function as one in order to thrive.

When we seek to understand someone else, we can gain a better understanding of ourself. Our diverse culture is filled with so many lovely individuals, all deserving of being treated fairly, no matter who we are or where we come from. Kindness must become a priority. The people of this world are more powerful than its governing bodies. Our numbers are vast. Imagine what we could accomplish if we knew what we really wanted. Because there has to be more that we desire than just an absence of pain. Perhaps we can solve that mystery together, once we begin to heal the suffering that has been endured entirely too long.

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Questions And Answers • Daily Thoughts

( May, 29th, 2020 ) When something upsetting happens, you may ask the question… Why? The questions we ask are not always for the answers we seek. When something happens to someone else, we know it’s the way of the world, yet they may still be angry. There are horrible things that happen that we have no control over preventing or fixing. It can make us feel powerless.

Finding peace within can help us find a peaceful solution, that we could not see in a state of anger. Once your spirit is balanced, you can effect positive change.

Have faith that your question will be answered. It may not come immediately, but a realization will present itself. Then a constructive action can be applied. Be kind to yourself and things will fall into place.

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Doing Nothing Is Really Something • Daily Thoughts

( May 28th, 2020 ) If you refuse to choose, it is still a choice. That doesn’t necessary mean it is a failure to act. Doing nothing can be an effective way to focus your intention. Sometimes, a hard reset to reassess the situation can lend perspective. A tactful technique to step away from a conversation is excusing yourself to use the bathroom. Try it out next time your conversation is going nowhere fast.

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Structure • Daily Thoughts

( May 27th, 2020 ) – Today I started a new ritual. I will be going live every day at noon to share what’s going on with me and some meditations on current events. It will be a practice that will keep me focused as a part of my schedule. I also began rehearsing my songs every day at the same time to build up my finger strength and get my voice back in shape.

In this video I discuss how anxiety can keep you from moving forward. It has kept me from completing tasks I am very capable of doing. Structuring my day helps me move forward without wondering what to do next. Habits can be a good thing, especially if it is beneficial to your well being.

Some advice on mindfulness… try being with yourself for a moment of silence, in the moment, letting thoughts drift without holding on to them. Listen to the fan or your breathing. Then go back to your day.

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Reading “A Light in the Attic” brings back memories

Not only is Shel Silverstein one of the most beloved children’s authors, he also illustrates his books. He writes wonderful poems sparking imagination and comical drawings that are entertaining for both young and old.

When I was little, I was given “A Light In The Attic” as a Christmas present. His poetry made me giggle. The drawings are so silly. It’s the combination of the two that really brings me back to a simpler time. So, I decided to read a few poems aloud from the very book I received all those years ago.

Perhaps your parents or kindergarten teacher read you children’s books, before you could read yourself. And when they were done reading the page, they would flip the book around for me to see the drawing that went with it. I really enjoyed the soothing sound of their voice that would sometimes lull me into slumber. It must have been my nap-time.

Guitar Layered Inspiration • Mental Chillness

Passion over Problems. Putting myself into making music has resolved so many issues for me. It has taken me out of the paralysis of over-thinking how to fix something going wrong that is overwhelming at the time. Once I have done something that fulfills me, I come back to the problem with a different state of mind. Getting my head right is key to resolution. Your passion is powerful.