March 5th, 2012

Someone recently mentioned how much they liked my Ten Tools to Get Through My Week  post. So, it’s been on my mind, and here are ten more.

  1. Pain is temporary. Unless it’s not.

    I sprained my ankle. Badly. But, every day it’s a little better. And every day it still hurts. I could be complaining, sitting on the couch and waiting for it to get better. I’m not. I’ve been walking, doing gentle exercises, soaking it, and generally taking good care of it. And the pain is temporary. But if there is a task, a job, a “thing” I cannot move past, maybe it’s time to look at what is causing that pain eliminate it, resolve it, or find a new perspective. Pain that lasts forever benefits no one.

  2. Food is Medicine

    If you eat like crap, you feel like crap. Enough said.

  3. Very little is IMPORTANT

    Since my daughter was born, and the last 6 months, and the last 2 weeks, blah blah blah…. it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the IMPORTANCE of things. But really, are you loved? Are you safe? The rest has a crazy way of working itself out. So put down the drama, the cell phone, and the IMPORTANT things long enough to realize you are fine. It will all be fine.

  4. Making a perfect hard-boiled egg is not that hard, yet frequently it’s impossible

    It’s really simple. Cold water 1 inch over the egg. Bring to a hard boil, cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Immediately cool. Perfect creamy yellow, and the egg peels in one piece. IN THEORY. And almost everything in life is a hard-boiled egg. You have to practice, and you’ll still hit a bad batch of eggs.

  5. Trying new things makes you think new things

    For various reasons, I’ve been taking on different types of clients. I’ve been reading different books. I’ve been going new places. Expanding my comfort zone because it feels good. And because when I do, I discover how much I like new things. And how much I like creating new things. And when I reach past my walls, I discover that they weren’t really walls. Just suggestions that I didn’t need to follow.

  6. Saying ‘No’ is not a bad thing

    It’s okay to not do everything. In fact, it’s good. It means that the things you do, you can do well. So don’t overbook, overdo or over promise. Say a few ‘No’s.

  7. Stop while you’re ahead – and get some sleep

    I’m too tired to find ten. So you get seven. Night night!

February 8th, 2012

John Linsley was an astro-physicist. He made huge discoveries in the field of Cosmic Rays. He was also my father-in-law.

I had the amazing opportunity to be with him for the last 6 weeks of his life. He shared his story, his wishes, his regrets, and his last laughter with me. One of his wishes was that the remants of his life work not end up in a dumpster. The family was in strong agreement that this would NOT happen. But for me, it was not just that wish that motivated me to find a home for his books and papers. It was the Christmas Goose.

 

 The Christmas Goose

For many years, I knew John Linsley only as the father to my future husband. He was smart, kind and funny. During the summer of 1999, I grew close to John as I looked in on him from time to time while the rest of his family was off on their own adventures. I’d drop in after work and we’d eat gyros from his favorite restaurant and chat before his 6:30 bedtime. I began to understand more of his scientific work and it’s significance on the day he shared that his ideas would finally be tested in space. That fall, my not yet husband Alessandro and I moved to Chicago. We returned to Albuquerque for Christmas, and John invited us to a Christmas dinner. John was getting older and had slowed down and we anticipated doing much of the cooking and cleaning. We were very wrong.

When we arrived in the early afternoon, the table was set, the house smelled amazing, and it was clear we were in for a massive treat. John had cooked a full feast including a goose, and blueberry cobbler in a dutch oven. It was one of the most memorable meals of my life, for the food, and for the company. He did not let us clean one dish, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. It was magical.

Then, as we prepared to leave and go to my family’s meal, John gave us his “notes” from the day. In his grand style, he had documented the entire process required to create that meal. I still giggle just a little when I look at that page.

 

 

So, when I was asked why I, John Linsley’s daughter-in-law, a musician, a business person, felt the need to preserve his legacy, I could only think of the goose. It represents his passion for process and execution. It shows his desire for perfection and experimentation. And the results changed the world, if only for the few minutes that we were eating the meal.

But his life’s work has changed more than just my world. And his papers show how and why and what. I believe in truth and balance and knowledge. And it is because of people like John Linsley that I do.

For further updates on the availability of the archive, check Symmetry.

December 11th, 2011

It’s that season. The one that most people either dread or participate in with such enthusiasm that it kills the cute of puppies. That one. THE HOLIDAYS. So, let’s stay away from anything to do with that and talk about my amazing clients, and what’s new in the Misery Loves Co family.

Martin Atkins – His book Welcome to the Music Business – You’re Fucked is picking up rave reviews from fun places like The Jazz Lawyer, The Rumpus and Billboard.biz . Stay tuned for a kickstarter campaign as Martin is finishing up Band:Smart (the sequel to Tour:Smart).

Carlo Matos – With poems published at killauthor and ragazine, his second poetry book coming out soon (set your Google search for “Counting Sheep til Doomsday”), and his scholarly Ibsen’s Foreign Contagion  soon to be released, Carlo is making quite a name for himself. Check out his first book, A School For Fisherman.

Judy Wexler – Back from her East Coast performances at Zoellner Arts  and The Blue Note, Judy is ready to welcome a new year and some great new gigs. Stay tuned for announcements on where and when.  She also has a regular gig at Yoshi’s.

Doug McGovern – In September, Doug published a paper on an unknown set of photos of General Robert E Lee in stereo (3-D). You can read the paper as a pdf on his site.

ToyBlock Music is in the process of mastering a few singles, reworking the overall business plan, and trying to find ways to bring great music to as many kids as is humanly possible. Stay tuned for the release of Itsy Bitsy Spider and some additional news next year.

Tortoise and Panda completed another craft fair season and is looking forward to some time off, and maybe some “Beat the Blahs” sales in January and February. Rice Sack Animals and Yarn Necklaces were added to the line of products in 2011.

Thanks for your continued support and friendship. We look forward to helping you in any way we can in the coming year.

November 22nd, 2011

So often, the things that stop us are hard. Hard to face, hard to fix, hard to talk about, hard to live. …

I refuse to accept that. I refuse to be stopped. People often ask me what I do for a living, and I answer that I consult and help small businesses in the arts succeed at being awesome. But, I think what I really do is smash things. I take other people’s problems and smash them into tiny enough pieces that they can be cleaned up.

Last week, I spent 2 hours unraveling a lost account, and set of previously purchased, but unused ISBN numbers for an author. I did that by calling a phone number (which I had to dig to find) and telling the person on the other end that I had no idea how to resolve this, and would take any help he could give me. I also facilitated planned a Thanksgiving dinner that includes turkey, elk and homemade past. And I cleaned a house including finding over 20 bags and boxes of things that could go to Goodwill. None of that was hard for me.

So what is hard for me? To understand why other people let things be hard. I could tell all kinds of other stories about what I did last week. I could ask everyone to cut me some slack because life is hard and I’m coping with a lot. But, why? It’s my life. It’s not hard, it’s what is. I don’t need slack. I need success. I need love, and work, and laughter. And none of that is hard.

A former client used to always say, “But this is what is!” And I would agree. For her, it was drama, tragedy after tragedy and too much to do. For me, it is what it is. It’s my life. I like it better when it’s easy. I like it when I can tell a client, “I didn’t get to you today. I’ll try again tomorrow.” And the client say, “Okay!” I like it when I look around and see my choices as I made them and life as it presents itself. I like it when even in the darkest moments, I still have a choice, and an attitude of YES!This isn’t hard. What’s hard is to fight that. What’s hard is to accept drama as a way of life. What’s hard is to wait to for everything to explode instead of just smashing it into the bits I can deal with.

So, as we approach the hard months of the year… THE HOLIDAYS, and then we approach the other hard months of the year… THE COLD MONTHS, I am going to find a bigger hammer, and I am going to smash and smash and smash. And I am going to laugh when pieces fly off. Got anything you want me to smash?

 

UPDATE – 10 MINUTES LATER

I got up from publishing this post to do the dishes, and knocked this over.  OOOPS!  But hilarious – thanks for the laugh Universe!


September 1st, 2011

“Life isn’t fair. Control what you can.” - Kim Corless (Gifted Education Consultant and Advocate, Member of the Board of Trustees at Science and Arts Academy)

We’ve all heard “Good Job!” from parents, teachers, and friends. We’ve probably all said it.

But, do you say it to yourself? I don’t. I say things like, “Wow, I didn’t really work that hard, and they think it’s amazing?” And “I could have done so much more if I actually cared.” And best of all, “Why do I bother, they don’t get it anyway.”

So, as I raise my child, and work with so many creative and bright clients that don’t fit societal norms, I see things like the latest research about whether you should or shouldn’t praise kids. And how you should or shouldn’t. And I start to notice things around me. I hear parents at the park. I hear bandmates talk to each other. I see how a manager provides feedback to an employee, and the theme I notice is that we all look to others to tell us whether or not we did a good job. Children proud of climbing a ladder told “It’s about time! The other kids can do it!” begin to cry. Band members who smile and seem confident at the end of a set deflate when the lead singer rips into them for flubbing a cue. And that employee who messes up a sale, approaches her boss defeated and then bounces back when the boss provides information on why the sale was worthless anyway.

Why does that make sense? Sure, if someone else is paying us for the results, it might matter. But really doesn’t the ongoing paycheck indicate at least an adequate level of competence in performance? Or the continued friendship, collaboration or communication? And don’t I know better than any other subjective judge whether or not that was truly a good job?

I spent many years of my life being absurdely good at things I did not try very hard to do. And being praised, and feeling ashamed that I was “lying” to people. I knew better. And I have hid things that I am not good at, so that I would not hear the criticism. As some of you know, I am not very good at representation art, or whistling, and I try VERY HARD. And no one has ever praised my art or whistling.

Today, I heard Kim Corless speak to that. She described it saying, “Effort is in the domain of control, performance is not.” But people continue to praise performance, and expect others to praise their performance. And neglect to evaluate the effort.

I am not advocating the “A” for showing up. Far from it. I am advocating for the exact opposite. I am advocating for letting each child, each person, strive to do the best that they can do regardless of a standard, arbitrary assessment or judgement. Those things I am absurdely good at, I might enjoy more if I put more effort in, and actually cared about doing.

What I was reminded of today, and what I will do for myself, my child, and my clients, is to focus on what is in our control. To offer praise only if it is sincere, accurate and specific. To separate the effort from the performance, and to say thank you to those who honor my efforts.

______________________________________________________________________________

There is a ton of new research out about praising children.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/m54525665hw20334/

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/200909/parenting-dont-praise-your-children

January 20th, 2011

More than ever before, an artist must be responsible for their own career. Things that used to be handled by others are now fully the responsibility of the artist. Right? WRONG! In reality, the artist has always been responsible for their career. Why? It’s their fucking career!

While true that in the past labels sometimes allowed time for an artist to grow, expand a fan base, find a voice, etc… they still expected the artist to succeed. Now, if an artist signs to a label it is normally because a product is already proven and the risk is low for the label.

Any successful career requires planning, knowledge and constant adjustment. What are critical things for an artist to know/do for success in the Entertainment Industry?

1. This is business. You are working with, for and against BUSINESS PEOPLE with actual business skills. Would you walk into a ring and try to fight a bull without some training or help? Understand the separation of art and product, and get some business skills. Things like basic writing skills, negotiation techniques, basic accounting, basic marketing and management techniques can help you regardless of who else is “managing” your event, album, band, or career.

2. This is business. You are selling a product. The minute you put a price on it, it is not art, it is product. Don’t get emotionally attached. The time for that is in the creation.

3. This is business. Mediocre, and even crap can sell. Have you turned on the radio lately? Does that mean your product should suck? No, but it means that you are competing with some powerful forces who can sell millions of dollars of crap. Maybe it means you need to figure out what it is that people like about that crap, and try to give them that in a better product… Maybe it means you need to not worry so much about perfection, and instead worry about good enough so you have something to sell.

4. Did I mention this is business? Every manager, booking agent, venue, and label I have ever worked with has said that they prefer to work with a hard working and professional artist than an incredibly talented but lazy or unprofessional artist. The person that shows up for the gig is ALWAYS better than the one who doesn’t.

5. Know what you need to about the law and protect yourself. Band agreements are vital for long term survival and should be in place from the beginning. Copyrights can protect your long term interests. Booking agreements and riders can afford you legal protection in some cases involving injury, illness or bad faith.

6. Have a plan! If you are in Chicago and want to go to St. Louis, it helps to go South. You may change direction along the way, but if you start off wrong, you will never get there. Business plans and marketing plans help you clarify your goals, your needs and your abilities. They also make it much easier to convince other people to help you along the way.

7. Everything you do reflects your overall message. If you want to be seen as the hottest Black Metal band, don’t be caught going into a church unless you are there to burn it. The consumer is buying an image, a lifestyle, experience and a dream as much as the music, shirt or concert. Keep that in mind with packaging, performance, clothing, and behavior.

8. Have fun. If it’s nothing but work, that will show. Do you love this? If you don’t, go home.

9. Everyone is a potential customer, investor, reviewer or deal killer. You choose which. Treat people well, and don’t burn bridges you may need later.

10. At the end of the day, it is your life. How do you want to live it? Do you want to owe everything to other people? Do you want to leave a legacy behind? Do you want to sleep in a warm bed every night? Be clear with yourself, and make choices consistent with that.