All posts filed under: Personal Process

88 Keys + 88 Years = Barry Harris

Dr. Barry Doyle Harris will be 88-years old next week. Born on December 15, 1929, he has lived one year for each one of the 88 keys on the piano, his musical vehicle—a vehicle that he uses to transport his listeners to jazz paradise. I will let others expound on his theoretical genius, or explain mathematically why his scales and harmonies are so exquisite. I will instead share a glimmer of what has happened in my world since Barry came into my life. I will start this story in the summer of 2008, when I was still studying jazz vocals with Ulysses Slaughter. A friend from the Jazz Foundation of America’s Monday night jam sessions, pianist Richard Clements, invited me to attend the memorial of a dancer being held at “University of the Streets” in the East Village. At the memorial, Richard was playing a beautiful white grand piano, and at a certain point in the program Barry came on the stage area and sang a song that he wrote to commemorate the lives of …

Childhood, Mindfulness, & Avocados

You might think my title for this month’s post is a strange trio of words, and I agree, but there are threads to tie them together–observation, reflection, and trees. For childhood is where I learned many ways to express my creative soul, when I first learned to explore the idea of mindfulness by observing a single tree. As an adult, I spent a few hours in a large grove of trees, observing the heavy dark green avocados swaying in a light breeze over my head. They were beautiful ornaments hanging under a shady canopy of leaves, fully protected from the desert sun above (that eventually burned my cheeks a bright red.) Years later when I heard a song that had the words “avocado tree” included in a rough translation of the original Portugese, I was reminded of those beautiful trees and that wonderful day. I reflected on the spiritual tranquility I experienced while walking alone there, and I was inspired to write a new set of lyrics in English which also speak to the practice …

Random Things About Me

So, hello, hi there! Here is something a little unexpected, a summer “fluff” post that you will hopefully find entertaining and maybe even educational about what memories are stored in my mind. It is a list of 16 random things about me. They are in no particular order, *smile*. 1. When I worked in a corporate setting, at approximately 3 PM, almost every day, I hiccuped.  Usually just one, and then it was over.  I have no idea why.  At the office, a colleague who sat next to me always noted the time and commented on how close to 3 PM I was. (Since I began telecommuting a few years ago, the 3 PM hiccup is no more. I still hiccup now and then, but not on a strict schedule.) 2. My favorite TV program is Eastenders. “Trials and tribulations impact lives in a close-knit community in London’s East End”  I love it!  I have been watching it since 1987.  I found it on a UHF channel before I had cable – it was one of the few things I …

The 7 Deadly Sins – A 2016 Resolutions Exercise

Wow! It has been a very full year–travel, music, friends, family and many creative moments. One of the things I am most proud of is that I was able to post at least one article here each month. Starting and maintaining a personal website was one of my 2015 resolutions and I intend to keep going! Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact me with encouraging comments. For 2016, from the many possible promises I could make to myself, I decided to focus on resolutions I could commit to that would nourish me as a person and as an artist /musician. I started by contemplating my 2015 achievements, and analyzing my attempts at achievement (otherwise known as brooding over my mistakes and failures.) Then, for some reason known only to my subconscious mind (is that redundant?) in the middle of this thought process I remembered something I saw recently about the “7 Deadly Sins”. Now, totally sidetracked by this concept, I will share a few random thoughts on these sins to close out 2015. Hopefully, at the end of …

9/11 Tribute Song – This Unforgiving Town

This Unforgiving Town (My Lagan Love – 9/11) ©2003 Laurie Early/ASCAP The Hudson flows along the shore Where orchards of steel grow. Each gleaming bough contains a tale Of lives and loves below. And every wave sings out its song For shattered hearts needing repair. Who will be dressed in sorrow’s gown In this unforgiving town? As sunlight wakes the morning sky Our innocence a memory. An axeman wears a selfish smile As he fells another tree. The city’s armor takes the blows But yet the human damage shows. Who will be saved? And who will drown In this unforgiving town? When twilight rolls upon the day A dusty night time looms. A flood of tears won’t wash away The pain caused by these wounds. And so we’re called to higher ground Because it’s there that love is found. Who will be brave? And who’ll be brought down In this unforgiving town? My Lagan Love, the melody that inspired this song, is over 500 years old. I have changed the Irish Traditional up a bit …

Unexpected Treasures

While thinking about the things that make me happy, things that cost little or nothing at all, it occurred to me that I discover, appreciate, or see little treasures every day, whether I am outside or at home–everyday surprises, unexpected treasures. These treasures can be as simple as time spent in conversation with a friend or someone you just met, discovering a beautiful architectural trim on a building down the street, appreciating a special space you have purposefully created in a room, or experiencing something unexpectedly profound–something that causes you to feel connected to the universe, comforts you, or challenges you to go in another direction. Finding and exploring a treasure can happen when your mind is relaxed and open, or when it is stressed and occupied with other thoughts.  There are no rules, and seeing something cool can happen at any time. When I started writing down all the inspiring things I encounter each day (more about this in my post Keeping Notebooks) I realized how much these little things mean to me.  I will sporadically share some …

Keeping Notebooks

While contemplating my life, with a focus on things I do everyday, I decided to write about a tool that has become very important to me – a simple notebook.  (I prefer the 5″ x 8″ lined 80-page spiral-bound style as this fits easily into my bag.)  It is my personal “external hard-drive” and helps me keep track of my day-to-day activities, as well as providing quick storage of creative ideas and prompts.  I carry one with me every day; it’s always available for use, unlike the internet. My system for TASKS Over 20 years ago I worked with a woman who told me about how she kept track of tasks she needed to do.  I tried her system and it immediately helped me get organized at the office. I modified the idea a little and have used it ever since to make sure I get things done in all aspects of my life. Basically my system works this way: If I am in a meeting and I am asked to take action on something, or if I am on the bus and something I need …