The Siren’s Song (Day 15 of #100DaysofMusic)

Recently, I’ve been working on crafting a lyric entitled The Siren’s Song. I thought I had somehow lost my ability to write emo lyrics, but I guess not!

Across all songwriters, you’ll find different processes for songwriting. I have always found it incredibly difficult to start with the music or melody first. I feel like I have to then force myself to make a lyric fit within that.

I guess I’m about the story — making sure I’m saying what I want to say, then finding a melody and chords that bring that story to life.

I’m not saying that it’s the best method. In fact, I find it pretty inspiring when I see songwriters doing it the other way!

Well, here’s what I’ve got so far for The Siren’s Song. Whether or not it turns into an actual song that I’ll record is secondary at the moment.

I’ve had songwriter’s block for months now that it’s simply about getting words onto paper!

The Siren’s Song (work in progress)

Crawling down your back
That sense of shadowed things
Around the darkened bend
Where the siren’s sing

But step by step you find
Your feet keep moving on
Beckoned by the call
Of the siren’s song

And you know what
Curiosity will do to you
Shake you, break you
Take you down to your knees
But what’s on the other side
>>(What’s the hook?!)

Now you’re rolling in the sea
Pulled under by her spell
Deeper, darker, down you go
Into the wishing well

A siren knows what myths you’ve told
To enter the abyss
She’s seen them cheat, lie, deceive
Their way to feel her kiss

Tips for Singing at an Open Mic (Day 3 of #100DaysofMusic)

Last night, I attended a great open mic at Trees Organic Cafe in downtown Vancouver.

There was that comfort of entering a familiar environment that I’ve experienced back home in Toronto — the musicians coming in with their guitars, getting their names down on the sign-up sheet, the host coming up to the mic, introducing each performer, the kind of nervous, excited anticipation buzzing around the room.

I’ve unfortunately been battling some fierce allergies that have been getting progressively worse since I got to Van. My voice is unhappy and I can’t really breathe properly.

So, while I really wanted to play at the open mic, I knew I needed to sit this one out!

Just watching the performers with no intention of singing myself was actually really nice. It gave me a chance to simply observe and not be distracted by nerves or thinking about the songs I was going to perform.

So, after watching several people perform, here are some tips I thought I’d share for singing at an open mic:

1. Sing with some expression and emotion.

Wow, there were some people who did this brilliantly. One woman just bared her entire soul to us, it was amazingly intense and uplifting. But others had the exact same look on their face throughout all of their songs.

Think about the story and feeling you want to communicate, then push past the fear of vulnerability and give it to us!

2. Make eye contact with the audience.

There were many performers who did a great job expressing themselves (including one with a STUNNING voice). But they barely made eye contact with the audience when they sang. It created this block between us and the performer, making it hard to fully connect with the performance.

You don’t have to stare everyone in the eyeball the entire time you’re singing, but definitely try doing it more frequently if you always find yourself singing with your eyes shut.

3. (Re)Consider the length of your songs. 

Usually when a song keeps running on for what feels like 6, 7, 8 minutes, it’s one that the performer wrote themselves. There were some songs that would have felt perfect if it had just ended a bit earlier (like two minutes earlier). Some people even started clapping at that point, because it really felt like the song was done … but then, it would continue. And continue.

I don’t want to sound like the songwriting nazi, because I am no expert, but at least for a performance, reconsider the length of a song for the sake of your audience. Keep them engaged and don’t lose the impact of your song by repeating the same line or chorus a million times.

4. Move on if you mess up or forget a line. A few people did this, but laughed it off and moved on. If they really couldn’t remember, they switched to a different song. It happens! No one will mind! Forgive yourself and smile about it. 🙂

5. Practice your songs well. I was really impressed by how seriously each singer seemed to take their performances. I don’t mean serious in an uptight way. I mean that you could tell they had taken the time to rehearse to get their vocals and guitar playing on point.

You never know who’s watching or what an open mic performance can lead to (my first open mic led to my first gig)! So, practice well and put your best foot forward!

By the way, these are ALL things that I also need to continuously work on as a performer. They are also good reminders for myself and also, just my one opinion. 😉

What say you? Do you have any advice for singing at an open mic? Please share!

#The100DayProject

I’ve been meaning to participate in #The100DayProject for a while now, though I knew I would likely have to wait until I got to Vancouver to begin.

Now that all of my time is my own, I have no excuses but to refocus on something that’s been drifting in and out of my life like fleeting waves with the tide. (Sorry for the dramatic prose).

What’s #The100DayProject, you ask? It’s all explained here, but in a nutshell, it’s “a free, global art project that anyone can participate in.”

You choose what you want to pursue for 100 days, give it a unique hashtag on Instagram (#100daysof___), then just go for it!

Each day, do something towards your project and post it for the world to see! So, what’ll my project be about?

#100DaysofMusic

Of course, what else? 🙂

As I mentioned, it’s been tough for me to keep up with singing, and especially songwriting, over the last several months.

I just haven’t seemed able to get into the right groove and creative space to “do” music consistently. Creating music and expressing myself through singing is something I need for my soul to feel balanced and fulfilled.

I’m definitely a person who gets motivated by working towards something that involves other people. That’s why I did my Facebook Live show, and that’s why I’m now taking on #The100DayProject … starting today!

There’s no other better time than now, right?

My posts won’t necessarily be just about singing (although I definitely plan to put up some music vids!). It could be about anything that contributes toward bringing music back into my life in a meaningful way. ❤

What’s Your 100 Day Project?

So, are you in with me? Your project can be about music, photography, visual art, writing, or really anything else that you’re passionate about or want to work towards.

One person’s project was about working out to get more fit. Another person’s project was to write a card every day for someone.

Although the “official” 2017 start date for #The100DayProject was April 4th, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t start right now!

Let me know if you decide to join, your Instagram handle, and what your 100 Day Project will be all about! I’m at @janicehoimages — hope you’ll join me on my 100 day journey of music. 🙂

Freedom

A few days ago, there was an event at the farm that ended in a group of us around a bonfire at night, and me singing a couple of songs with my guitar.

After hearing me sing, one of the people there — Kelly, a sweet woman with amazingly positive vibes — ended up giving me the nickname (or stage name) Freedom.

Wow. I just felt something so strong resonate within me when she said that. Freedom is, after all, what enables me to share my music, as well as what I want it to evoke in others — particularly the freedom of feeling and expressing.

It’s also what pretty much dictates my life in general.

I never thought about actually taking on a stage name. On one hand, there is something so — no pun intended — freeing about it!

On the other hand, would you rather keep your real name to represent your art?

Hm, I’m undecided. What say you?

Summer Solstice Facebook Live Show! (Wed, June 21, 8PM EST)

UPDATE: What an amazing time I had doing this show! I felt nothing but positive vibes and love from those who watched live and later. Thank you to everyone for being part of this! ❤

***You can watch the full Summer Solstice Facebook Live Show here.***

Hey friends!

Tomorrow is an exciting day for two reasons.

One, it’s the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and a time for celebration.

Second, I’ll be performing a few songs in a Facebook Live show here: http://bit.ly/2rMPovk

The set will be a mix of jazz, r&b, folk and pop covers that will be all about love, hope and inspiration. ❤

Join me tomorrow, Wednesday, June 21 at 8PM EST, for some music and good vibes! 🎵🎤😊

Unveiled

I don’t listen to many podcasts — I find most of the ones I’ve heard pretty awful, to be honest! — but when I do get in the mood for some good talks, I like tuning in to Motivational Millennial’s podcast.

I find that I always leave with some newfound wisdom or encouragement to do better for myself — whether that’s related to work life or my personal development.

They just wrapped up Season 1, and I wanted to share their finale episode, “Strength Through Vulnerability”, HERE.

It’s actually in a different format than their usual episodes, where co-hosts Blake and Ivy interview some seriously inspirational guests. (Some of my fave episodes are here, here, and here).

But I did want to reflect on this particular episode’s topic: Vulnerability.

As Blake and Ivy mention, we typically regard vulnerability as an unfavourable state to be in.

Indeed, when I looked up the word “vulnerability” in the thesaurus, I got back a lot of negative synonyms, like unsafe, weak, threatened.

But then, one other word caught my eye: Unveiled.

When we think of an “unveiling”, we think of an uncovering of something special hidden underneath the shroud that has been masking it.

For example, an exquisite piece of art may be unveiled at the grand opening of an exhibit. The cloth that had been draped over the art work was but a sheath to hide the beautiful masterpiece underneath.

In many ways, we live covered up under layers of our own mask — a mask stitched together with elements of fear, insecurity, shame, and guilt.

The longer our magnificent artwork remains hidden, the more we forget what it looks like.

What were those exquisite shades of colour that brought our creation to life? What were the details in the drawing — the lines here, the curves there, the bold strokes, the faded etches — that made our picture whole?

The more layers we pile on top of our masterpiece, the heavier the shroud becomes and the more work it takes to strip it away.

But there’s good news, if you take this analogy one step further. It also means that you — the authentic You — is completely separate from the mask you wear on top of it.

In other words, the mask — all of the negative self-perceptions you hold close to you — is actually not a part of who you truly are.

And like a physical mask, if you remove it from yourself, it doesn’t take anything away from you as person. If anything, You shine brighter. You have the freedom to finally be seen, unveiled.

You can listen to the podcast episode on Vulnerability to gain more insights into how making yourself vulnerable actually strengthens you.

In the meantime, have the courage to at least take a peek at what’s under the veil. Reconnect with the masterpiece that you are. Remind yourself of the colours and details that make you whole.

And if you’re feeling extra brave, fling that veil off altogether and celebrate the freedom of sharing your authentic self with the rest of the world!

Super New Moon

Last night, I came across an article about today’s Super New Moon. You can hop over there to learn more about what a super new moon means physically, but what I wanted to focus on was what it means spiritually. The article says:

A New Moon signifies new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s the perfect time to turn a new leaf, set your intentions, acknowledge goals, and commit to your vision for the next 28 days.

Leading up to today’s Super New Moon, we may have been experiencing some turbulent emotions, given that this particular super new moon is happening within The Hyades star cluster.

According to the article, these stars give off a “stormy and bitter” energy that will affect the Super New Moon and, in turn, our emotional experience.

Admittedly, if anyone had been telling me about how the cosmos affect humans on such a personal and spiritual level a few years ago, I may have felt skeptical about it.

Since I’ve been at the farm, I have learned about the importance of the moon cycle and how it helps to inform us about when to plant, weed, harvest, and so on.

My farmer friend who I work with has observed the shifts in energy within plants when, say, the full moon is approaching. He also notices an energy spike within himself around the full moon. As for me, I probably notice more of an emotional shift during that time.

If the moon does have such power to affect the physical energy of other beings — including its effect on the earth’s tides — then, it’s not so far off to believe that it could affect our emotional energy as well.

We often separate the physical and emotional (or mental), perceiving them as two distinct spheres within ourselves. But the more you learn about the connection between mental health and physical health, the more you realize that they are very much intertwined.

Deep emotions might come up to surface in those of you who need to let go and cleanse old outdated belief systems.

This Super New Moon will also be encouraging us to review and assess the state of our mental activity and our thought processes.

I have definitely felt some seriously deep emotions this week, leading up the Super New Moon today.

I had a good cry when I was in the city earlier this week, while I was in the process of working through some long-standing core beliefs (or core wounds) that I know I must let go of.

I also found myself, for the first time, really contemplating another long-standing issue that I thought I was okay not confronting head on. But the more I delved into it, the more I realized that not doing so may actually be hurting my forward progress.

As for setting my intentions for the next month, I’ll be journalling more about that later today. But what I do know is that with six weeks left at the farm, I feel as though my recent return here from the city contains a new sense of energy with it.

What intentions and goals do you want to set for the upcoming 28 days? What do you need to work on letting go of so that you can start anew?

Old Soul

I wanted to take a quick break from writing my book to talk about being an Old Soul.

I recently started reading a bunch of articles on LonerWolf (a website created by two spiritual mentors), particularly the ones about Old Souls.

I’ve always believed that I am Old Soul — and have also been told that I’m one by others. I’ve always felt much older than I really am, and become easily emotionally drained taking in others’ emotions and suffering (I’ve also been told that I’m an empath, so that adds to the energy drain!).

I have carried a sense of weariness about the world that is beyond just deploring the hate and pain being experienced globally.

It’s a sense of not feeling like I even belong on this planet sometimes. This quote from LonerWolf’s article “10 Universal Problems Old Souls Experience” I think sums it up:

They long to find a place where they feel like they belong, a space filled with freedom and liberation.  This often results in the feeling that this world is not their true home.

Feeling like there’s nowhere in this world where you truly fit in can obviously result in some sadness. Everyone wants to feel belongingness in some way or another.

For a long time, I did find it depressing and kept “searching” for people or groups where I could feel a sense of acceptance.

But I think part of my spiritual journey is to focus on what’s going on inside me, to work on accepting myself as I am, so that no matter where I am in the world, I will always feel that I am just as I’m supposed to be.

Wanting to move towards the things that deeply fulfill and nurture my soul is a big reason why I am going down this new life path. It’s why I have moved away from a conventional path of “success” that really doesn’t mean anything to me.

The more I listen to what my intuition and heart tells me, the more I believe that I’m discovering the way my Old Soul self was meant to live her days while here on Earth.

Vlog: My First Time — Go For Rejection!

So, I’m on this mission to seek rejection. Yup, the big, scary, embarrassing, soul-crushing R word.

This intentional search for rejection started with reading an e-guide, Motivating Your Millennial Mind, written by my personal transformation coach (more on that another time!), Ivy La Clair.

The e-guide gives an Action Step to overcome our aversion to failure: Try to get three rejections during the week.

Sounds scary, huh? But actually, according to the guide, seeking out rejection “is often referred to as ‘rejection therapy,’ and it can help failure, setbacks, or rejection not feel so personal or crushing.”

I recorded this vlog post in 2013, right after I had sought after something I thought would end in rejection — approaching another musician to work together on my first songwriting collaboration.

The outcome was a fantastic experience working with Adam Boddy, as well as our song For Simone.

Looking back now, I can see why I was so nervous about putting myself out there. By me asking Adam if I could write a song with him, it was as though I was saying: “Hey, I’m a good enough singer and songwriter to create something awesome with you.”

Thing was, I didn’t fully believe that was true. (Even if, objectively, it was.)

Now that I’ve worked on several collaborations, I have more than enough “proof” that I’ve always had the capability to be a great collaborator — to communicate well with my partner, to be adaptable enough to work with their contributions to the project, and to bring my own skills as a singer-songwriter to the table.

I guess the hard thing can be when you want to try something you’ve never done before, or something that you don’t feel you’re “an expert” in. (There’s no such thing as experts, by the way).

In those cases, it’s easy to think: Who am I to ask, “Can I be part of this?”

Working Through Fear

Oh man, this post got way longer than I had intended, but, hey, I hope this might be helpful to someone out there!

I’ve had many deep desires in my own life — things that I think about over and over again, burning away my mental energy because I don’t actually act on them. I’m just too afraid to.

Some examples are: Asking an acquaintance to meet me for a coffee because I’d like to get to know them better, but thinking, “Why would they want to spend their time with me?”

Or asking a friend if I can sing at their event, but thinking, “Do I need to be a bit more polished as a performer? Maybe it’s too presumptuous of me to just ask if I can sing there.”

When I’m faced with these kinds of situations, I try to remind myself of the following:

The reasons why we shy away from pursuing what we want — fear of what people might think, fear of rejection, fear of failure — can all be laid to rest if we just take some time to work through them.

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s work through each right now and I’ll show you what I mean.

Fear of What Others Might Think

With respect to my fear of what others might think should I pursue *that* thing — depending on who it is and their (perceived) reaction — I remind myself of the following:

a) “Don’t take it personal.” Not everyone is going to like your flavour of tea. For example, I don’t enjoy listening to certain voices of award-winning, world-famous singers. It doesn’t mean they don’t have talent and many fans that do appreciate their singing. It just means that it’s not my personal preference, and that’s okay. We’d be a boring bunch of humans if we all liked the exact same things.

b) “That’s exactly the kind of opinion I don’t care about.” If someone’s reaction to *that* thing I pursue is over-the-top critical, attacking or patronizing, then I think: Why would I want their approval anyways?

If what you’re trying to do isn’t hurting anyone and is meant to bring positivity to your life, such negative responses are likely coming from people who have their own issues to deal with. Let them deal with it, and move on to doing you.

c) “Nobody has to experience my life, and the outcome of my life decisions, but me.” We all have parents, friends and other people in our lives who genuinely care about our wellbeing. (We also have that thing called societal pressures). But sometimes, we may not all agree on what “being happy” or “being successful” means.

When others get worried on my behalf because I’m choosing a path that strays from their definitions of “happy” and “successful”, I remind myself that I — and I alone — have to go through the day-to-day experience, actions and thoughts that are the result of my life decisions. Only me. 24/7.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t take other people’s suggestions into consideration. But at the end of the day, trust what your gut is telling you is honest and right for you. (It gets easier with practice, I promise).

Fear of Rejection

With respect to the fear of rejection — the fear that I’ll receive a “no” response to what I ask for — I remind myself:

The outcome of just going for it will likely never be worse than the outcome of not doing anything.

If you are continuously thinking about this *thing* you want to do, because you feel it will bring something positive to your life, then not attempting it, yes, guarantees that you won’t have to experience rejection, but it also guarantees — with 100% certainty — that you will not get to experience what you want.

That’s a pretty damn awful outcome, right?

Not only that, but there are other negative things that come out of not taking action on my burning desires.

For one, I waste tons of mental energy and precious time in my day simply thinking about the things I want to pursue, but am too afraid to. Trust me, just ’cause you avoid doing it, doesn’t mean it’s disappeared from the background. There it will be, haunting your mind for days, maybe even years, until you finally just give it a try.

Second, I reinforce, in my brain, that when I get these feelings of worry and fear in the face of potential rejection, the response should be: avoid and run away. The more I avoid and run, the more my brain is taught that this is how it should always respond to alleviate the worries and fear.

I truly believe that we can teach our brain the opposite — every time you approach fear head on and pursue what you want to do, your brain learns that the *scary feelings* are only temporary and usually make way for great rewards!

So, try it. Ask for what you want. Take that first step towards doing what you’ve been longing to do. Now, if you do go for it, there’s a chance that everything goes your way (awesome!), and, yes, there is also a chance that it doesn’t.

But in the latter case, there is still a positive outcome, for you will have gained some kind of valuable learning from the experience. The key is to seek out that learning, always.

And don’t forget: “Where one door closes, another door opens.” — Some wise person

Fear of Failure

With respect to the fear of failure — worrying that if I pursue *that* thing, I may not be “successful” at it — I remind myself: 

Yes, I may “fail” — or, in other words, I may not achieve the level of “success” that I hope to in pursuing my dream, goal, etc. This is a possibility.

And it is just as possible that I might do really well — exceptionally well. I might grow as a person from the experience. I may contribute something valuable to others. The experience may lead to other, amazing opportunities that would not have otherwise presented themselves.

Unless you have a crystal ball, there is no way to accurately predict which path you will go down. And remember that your path may involve a mix of ups and downs, feelings of both failure and success.

Give it your best effort, stay open to learning, and surround yourself with people who will continuously encourage and support you in your new endeavours. The naysayers can go find another party to crash. 😉

Wherever the journey takes you, continuously reflect on the learnings you are gaining from the experience. No matter what you’re going after, there is one learning that will always be reinforced: That in the face of fear and uncertainty, you were brave enough to push through. You are a courageous person.

There are no failures in life if you take a lesson out of it, and use it to do better going forward.

Are You Ready to GO FOR IT?

Enough of a pep talk for ya? I know I feel like taking on the world right about now!!!

By the way, those two examples I gave earlier about things I wanted to pursue, but felt uncertain in doing? I decided to go for both “rejections.” The outcome?

The person I had asked to go out for a coffee was excited to meet up, and we ended up having an awesome conversation at a cafe together.

I contacted my friend about performing at his event and he replied, “Let’s book a date.”

That was it!

So, what rejection are you gonna go for this week? 🙂

Vlog: Why Do We Share Our Music?

I just happened to come by some old vlog posts that I had recorded in 2013, when I first started my songwriting journey.

I was keeping a private blog back then, because I wanted to document the process, thoughts and learnings I was experiencing at such an early stage in my new music endeavour.

It seems pretty appropriate that I let some of these vlog posts resurface now, as I again embark on a new creative journey.

Well, perhaps it is more a continuation of the creative journey I have been ambling down my whole life. It’s just that I’m at a fork in the road now, and have decided to take the next step in sharing my music with others.

So, why do we share our music?

That’s what this video post was all about.

I still think these are reasons for why we share our music. There’s the other question of why we create music in the first place — I think for many of us, it’s just that intense, irrefutable need to get whatever’s in our soul out in some tangible form of expression — but with respect to why we then feel the need to share our creations with others, that’s a different story.

What about you? Are you a creator? Why do you share your creations with others?