Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: music

I’ll Take It

If this is what we get in return for my sister crashing with us for 6 months – I’ll take it!

Thanks Ricky ❤

I (Don’t) Create Music (Yet)

I attended the ASCAP I Create Music Expo in Hollywood, CA last week. This year’s event went a lot faster than previous ones, but it felt less inspirational in the sessions. That doesn’t mean I didn’t leave inspired. Katy Perry, Stargate, Ne-yo, Mike Posner and composers James S. Levine and Michael Brook shared their stories, careers and songwriting experiences. But what challenged me was something someone said during a lunch I hosted for work.

The event was for 10 people and had basically finished. The check was paid, most of the attendees headed off to their next panel. But I stayed chatting with an older guy. And as he spoke, I could hear a Philly accent. And he started to tell the story of what a teacher said to his class back when he was a student. Then he said my name (which people do not tend to do). It caught my ear.

Justine. Now I’m paraphrasing what this guy said, but he basically told us ‘Don’t be intimidated by this anymore. It’s just music. These are just tools.’

I felt the world slow down. Anyone else feel that?

It didn’t seem so. Even the man telling the story carried on to his next thought. But I felt like this was a direct message from the Universe. And the SECOND ONE of the week for that matter. The 3rd picture up top is from my girl’s day in Ventura, where a friend pulled a few Goddess cards for me and that’s what came up:


I mean, come ON.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written songs or even thought of myself as a musician. It feels too complex to get into now (I explained some here). But I’ve felt the struggle come up between work and creativity again. How I spent the past 5 weeks dumping my creative and physical energy into my job, without leaving any time or space for my own creative work. And while I need to do my job to the best of my abilities, going above and beyond seems to be an excuse to ignore deeper creative work.

And that’s what I think I’m being hit over the head with by the Universe.

So I took that photo above with the “I am a songwriter” speech bubble on purpose. Y’know, the whole fake-it-till-you-make-it thing. Guess we’ll see where this goes.


Met a friend for coffee today and we hung out a bit, chatting about work and then deeper stuff. I shared with her some of my hesitations / hang-ups around music. I respect her as a musician and I really like the songs she writes, even though pop music isn’t my go-to choice.

She encourages me (and I quote) to write an EP, record it and then do a two week tour with her this summer, which seems so ludicrous that I’m actually toying with the idea. Here is someone I like, who I believe has talent, and is interested in me finding music again.

When I really think about it, I miss it. And anything related to it feels scary as hell. But I also feel like I have a few songs left in me.

It’s been so long since I’ve written anything… like 8 years.

But last night we were at dinner with a bunch of people who live in our neighborhood, organized by a musician and a comedian, and I chatted with a choreographer, and dammit – if I don’t miss the creative spirit. If I don’t want to have something to contribute.

I don’t know. Just using this space to throw a marker down, as I sit in my bed with the Bon Iver station on Pandora on a Friday night. So I can look back as say “What a crazy idea” or “This is where it all started”.

Out With The Old, In With The New

For my 29th birthday last week I gift myself the help of a stylist. I met Jess through her boyfriend, an awesome songwriter named Hughie. (Video of him here) Her dream is to style bands, and she’s already built a great credit list. When she and I met a month ago for coffee, I asked her what she could do for little ol’ me. Turns out, she does “closet consultations” and “shopping trips” for just about anyone. We talked dates and fees, and before I knew it, she was in my bedroom helping me sort through and donate 7+ years worth of clothing.

On Saturday, we spent  almost 2 hours going through everything I had in my closet and dresser. She kept a running list of what I had to mix and match and what I needed. And then we headed to Ann Taylor LOFT for a bit of shopping. Nabbed a couple of basics and one dress that, when I put it on, it made me so happy I almost cried. Amazing.

We ran out of time Saturday, so Sunday it was round two. We were at the mall when it opened and spent most of our time methodically shopping through Forever 21. Now, I haven’t shopped in a long time, but I am sort of a hater when it comes to crap clothing. BUT after shopping with Jess, I see the value (low price, trendy fashion) of a place like Forever 21 (…when it comes to style. when it comes to sustainability, I am going to keep my mouth shut).

She and I found some awesome pieces, including a blue faux leather jacket, a hot-hot midnight blue dress (date night!) and finally a pair of colored jeans (green, of course). And then the kicker, I bought 8 dresses! EIGHT.

My wardrobe is completely revamped. I am in love. I’ve only had a chance to wear one outfit (today’s) but I can’t wait to wear everything.

To top it all off, today I received a “cheat sheet” email from Jess detailing outfit options, what I can wear with what, and future things I may want to buy. It was the perfect gift for myself to (be)come into my own in this 29th year. As Hughie would say: BOOM.

You can find tons of style tips on her blog Hell or High Fashion (whose name I just adore).

This Grateful Season – Music Like This

Tonight we saw Brandi Carlile at the Orpheum Theater and what a show.

We didn’t have plans to go. A friend of a friend, who has now become a better friend, flat our bought us tickets. No real reason except that I commented on his Facebook status when he mentioned the show.

I am a lucky girl because music and I have a complicated relationship to say the least, but the Universe is always trying to sneak it in on me. Tonight was a shining example of being brought back to the bare bones of the sounds, having voices in three-part harmony prickle your skin. Listening to lyrics that cut through my own numb soul, desires and aches laid out and sung to the rooftops.

Sometimes I think, maybe I’ll write a few songs, open the vein and let that blood flow again. There’s gotta be something to it still for me. And I know I’ll never be even half as good as what I saw tonight, but thank goodness someone is out there busting their ass to keep the torch burning.

pride and joy – brandi carlile

I believe this to be true
There’s nothing sacred, nothing new
No one tells you when its time
There are no warnings, only signs

And you know that you’re alone
You’re not a child anymore but you’re still scared

All your mountains turn to rocks
All your oceans turn to drops
They are nothing like you thought
You can’t be something you are not

Life is not a looking glass
Don’t get tangled in your past
like I am learning not to

Where are you now?
Do you let me down?
Do you make me grieve for you?
Do I make you proud?
Do you get me now?
Am I your pride and joy?

Hymn All Week

Traveling again tonight – been home 5 days and we’re turning around to go out the door again. This time from LAX to Vegas where my parents are celebrating their 31st anniversary – wowza. I’m still doing well, using Evernote to track my projects and my next actions. Batted through everything again today. Amazing how it all falls into place when you let it go.

Flights in a few hours and then I’m off to a drunken-gambling-loud-noises weekend. Haha. Vegas is really *not* the place for me, but my whole immediate family will be there and I so look forward to spending time with them… and our first family trip as husband and wife. Ya.

Hope your weekend is a wee bit more relaxing. This cover by a gal I know, Aubrey Logan, has been my hymn all week. On repeat. Enjoy.

I don’t think you’re right for him / Think of what we might of been if you / took a bus to Chinatown / I’d be standing on Canal / and Bowery / And you be standing next to me ~Lumineers

Movies, Music and Moon

We’ve already had quite a relaxing Saturday. Slept in, took the pup to a dog park and walked through a gorgeous little neighborhood. We went to bed late (2am) as we met friends to see Taken 2 and eat dessert at Cheesecake Factory. Between the wine I had with dinner and the chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake, I’m in a slight sugar hangover this morning.

The moon’s void of course and I’m trying to follow suit. Hanging out, reading, not worried about accomplishing anything. It’s a  3-day weekend for me and I left my laptop at work to avoid pressuring myself into doing work (because I never do – I just drive myself mentally crazy about how I should – though the laptop always stays in my bag).

Tonight we are seeing the Black Keys play Staples Center. Tegan and Sara are opening. My head may explode.

{The picture above was taken the same day at this one. Happy weekend!}

Light, People, Energy (Photographic History)

Last Thursday, I took the day off. I’d worked the weekend before so it was much needed. I dragged H to the Annenberg Space for Photography for the “Who Shot Rock and Roll” exhibit.

It was awesome.

Growing up, I was placed into music, the way that babies are placed into pools. I was a strong paddler. Both of my parents grew up playing and pursuing music in small degrees, and so how could I not be the next in line for that fame? But I’m not sure I ever chose it myself. When it comes to music, I’ve always felt like a fraud. I’m not sure that relationship will ever feel natural.

But when prompted to “think back on your childhood – what did you really enjoy…?” music is the correct answer I can give, with a capital “C”. The truth is, photography is my secret lover.

As a kid, I took random rolls of film with disposable cameras, documenting my day, cataloguing stuff, capturing my family and friends. It felt easy and simple. No thinking needed.

In 8th grade, I took a photography class complete with a film camera, contact sheets and dark room processing. At 15, I convinced my parents to buy me a Canon SLR. I took photos of my friends and started to understand framing and color. There was power in stopping a moment in time. (I damaged that Canon when it flew out the window of my friend’s truck the morning after a prom. For someone who is quite organized, I have a tendency to bang up and break my possessions).

Right around the time my Canon got busted up, my life took a sharp turn down the year from hell. By the time I entered college I’d lost most of my ability to express myself creatively and photography disappeared. Yes I took pictures, but many of our photos from those early years H snapped. In fact, we used his digital camera for all of the time we were both in Boston, and usually only for big moments – trips, celebrations, visits.

Somewhere in the past few years, photography snuck back into my life. I’m not sure where it started, but my iPhone became a lifeline. Different blogs pointed me in good directions – Susannah Conway, Andrea Scher and  Dooce. Then it was DreamLab, Unravelling and Photo Meditations classes online.

Spring forward to today and I’m a photo-taking machine. I’ve posted 180+ pics on Instagram in less than 2 months. My feed is a curated list of photographer’s I respect and admire. People who I learn from, because I want to get better. I’ve borrowed my brother’s DSLR and have plans to borrow it again, this time armed with a one-day class. I have a friend teaching me Photoshop. I stalk Tracey ClarkBrooke Schmidt and The Noisy Plume. I bought an Olloclip.

Photography is the only creative pursuit where I do not feel ashamed, dumb, stupid or useless.

I know there is so much to learn and I have yet to execute the visions I have in my head, but that’s the key – I have visions! I have ideas and pictures of how I want my photographs to look. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, and I’m in love.

So attending this exhibit felt more like pushing the needle forward a bit. That I was there to revel in the medium but also to learn, to absorb photography from a new angle, to soak in inspiration. The prints from the 60s were the most inspiring, not because they were of iconic musicians like the Beatles, but because they were so honest and straight-forward with the life they were capturing. There was no unrealistic color, no photoshopping, not much editing. It was all about light, people, energy.

And if the new life that I’ve built for myself in the past few years is anything, it’s all about light, people, and energy. xo

Pop Music

I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music lately, mostly Billboard Top 100 on Spotify. Clearly, it’s rubbing off on the dog. Dance party this weekend?

Fav pop song as of late? Wild One

Friday Inspiration – Polaroid Music Mash-Up

Kathleen Edwards’ record came to me about 6 weeks ago. The song “Change The Sheets” ran on repeat for a few days. January / February was not a good time for me. I should’ve blogged through it, but I didn’t. (Kicking myself for that now – the realizations were life-changing).

It was a low I hadn’t felt in almost two years, the worst part being the downward spiral of panic about panic or worrying about worrying, where the voice of logic in your own head isn’t logical anymore – it’s just that scared / depressed part feeding you more crap. Can’t talk yourself out of it. Gotta feel it.

In this same delicate time, I discovered Brooke Schmidt’s blog. Heartbreakingly simple. It felt like a line-in of “It’s OK” repeated quietly over and over again.

And then I put the two together.

Consider this a blanket, a salve, a visual and audio life raft to keeping you afloat. At least, it did for me.

Maybe make a cup of tea or heat up a heat pack or climb into bed with bare feet and scented lotion.

Go to Brooke Schmidt’s Flickr page – I’m linking to her “polaroids” set, but any set will do. Then, follow this link for “Voyageur” by Kathleen Edwards. Play the music. Open the Flickr set you like and click the “Slideshow” bottom at the top right.

Sit back, be still, and let these beauties articulate what you can not. Forget the panic, the words, the explaining. Just be.