Lessons from a walnut tree.

Posted in Everyday musings... on April 5, 2011 by lizfrencham

I dreamt last night I discovered walnuts growing on a tree in our backyard. In the dream it was a tree that had always been there but somehow I didn’t know it was a walnut tree. Now they were literally falling off it, already pre-roasted and unshelled; ready for eating. They were so tasty and nourishing and I remember eating handfuls in the dream and feeling so happy and contented.

When I recalled the dream I was making breakfast in our sunlit kitchen, listening to Carl Pannuzzo and Penny Larkins new CD ‘The Cradle’. They were singing Simon Nield‘s beautiful lullaby “Cradle Song” and gradually all the pieces coalesced into a gentle epiphany.

That walnut tree is all the relationships I’ve been blessed with and cultivated and sadly still sometimes doubt (including Carl, Penny & Simon and especially my gorgeous husband Steve). I realised once again how much do or die anxiety I carry around with me. How will my next album be received? Who have I offended or neglected? What do I have to prove? Why can’t I get organised to work harder?

And yet if I stopped and rested, took a walk in the backyard of my own inner circle I could dicover it anew. A wonderful tree that grows there all covered in fruit, exhorting me to stop and refresh myself.

A rose by any other name- red juliet

Posted in Goals, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by lizfrencham

After the emotional intensity of the last post it was hard to get back into the blogging space again. Instead I have responded by turning to my instrument and my inner self, spending less time on the computer in general and trying to stay present with my goals and just sit with them.

I have witnessed an unbelievable amount of turmoil in my own mind during writing my Artist’s Way morning pages. I had no idea just how deeply my artist’s child had been sleeping. Now I’ve woken her up she’s volatile! I feel intense about everything, it’s a rollercoaster. Today, for example, the stormy winds buffeting our little house in Trentham feel like they are blowing through my soul and I feel literally shaky. During my artist’s dates I have danced madly and laughed at nothing in particular like a crazy woman and it all feels frankly dangerous. But then again, the colours I can hear, and the music I can taste and the level of musical telepathy I have touched, it’s all worthwhile. It hasn’t turned into a lot of finished songs yet, but I know whatever comes of this (be it songs, or just wild, free music making) I’m willing to accept it gratefully as a gift. I really have to say thanks to Steve here too, who has been so supportive despite the fact that it must be more than a bit disconcerting to watch me go a bit nuts.

I have delayed a few goals and subtly changed the the shape of others in response to this need to be gentle with this newly awakened lunatic self. Specifically:

Career:

The Jigzag album is progressing steadily towards it’s deadline. The launch is set for November the 12th at “Notes” in Newtown. It will be ready and it will be beautiful.

I shelved the Music Success in Nine Weeks book after the first week, realising that I was in too much of a transition stage for it to be much help yet. I will pick it up once more as soon as I have completed the next album.

I am stumbling in fits and starts in relation to establishing any routine for either practise or songwriting, but  it has started to happen a lot more frequently, with no rhyme or reason other than it’s increased importance in my mind. I am now soothed by the act of practise as almost a meditation in itself. I NEVER thought it could feel that way, finally devoid of overwhelming guilt and confusion. This gives me a lot of joy.

I have written and collected songs for both Jimmy the Fish & for my new collaboration with Myles White. Jimmy can’t get together again ’til the spring, so those songs will have to wait til then.  We’vebeen organising photo shoots and have written bios and both bands feel like growing projects that I’m really proud of already, even though they are both in infancy. I’m also motivated  in the direction of festival applications, though I know that I won’t be ready for any major festivals until the autumn. I think once the Jigzag album has been launched I will need a summer break at home!

Another source of fun has been getting some casual gigs filmed and uploading them to my YouTube channel to share with people who may be interested in my changing directions.

Myles and I have taken on a band name. I suggested to him that maybe we could name our collaboration after my artist child.  The idea came to me slowly as I realised that this collaboration has encouraged her out into the sunlight more than any other in recent times. He aquiesced happily, even though it meant assuming a ‘she’ entity. I wavered and suggested a few other gender-less names, but he thought that having a character name seemed more personal and warm and voted for my original suggestion. So we are now working under the name of Red Juliet.

I love playing with Myles.  In many ways he is my performance opposite, mostly contained and still when playing whilst I dance with my bass. But as soon as you  listen to his guitar all his passionate intensity becomes evident. Beautifully structured solos that tell intricate and heartfelt stories. His ability as an improviser, accompanist and most importantly a  listener is a continuing delight to behold. I’m inspired and frankly amazed and grateful that he gives his time to our music. He has played with some of the finest jazz musicians in the country and yet he seems to really like what we do together. I won’t question it. Just cradle the gift with a grin and keep working towards being able to give as much as I am recieving.

The 2nd duet album is back on the shelf  until the studio is finished in the new year. It still might make a 2011 release hopefully, but more likely in the spring.

The function band is well on the way. The Honeycatz have a website under construction, demos, business cards, bios and publicity photos. We also have a Daylesford music agency working on our behalf and have started to pick up work in the spring. I’m still shuffling charts in folders and choosing repertoire, but we are already set for working and hopefully some weddings and parties will help pay the mortgage in the new year.

Health:

I’ve managed to lose about 3 of the 6kg I wanted to lose, but the pressure of an exercise routine amongst my emotional turmoil has become a bit of a drag. Instead I’m just trying to eat sensibly and take any incidental exercise opportunities as they come. I’ve decided to commence a regular 4 times a week routine from September when it’s warmer and it will actually be pleasant and inspiring to get out on the bike. Until then I just don’t want to gain any weight. I’m definitely drinking less alcohol.

Spiritual:

The meditations I have been doing are really incredible. I feel more connected spiritually and all I want now is to find this space more frequently. I still have a very noisy and distractable mind. But allowing myself to be myself and not being judgemental has been really helpful to my feelings of peace and self esteem.  I’m getting somewhere in this part of my life.

Relationships:

I’ve had some great phone calls and skype calls in response to this resolution. My friends are so great. They keep me dreaming and sane. We also had the first dinner date which was a great night. On tuesday I’m having a big sing with Carl Pannuzzo and Penny Larkins, life is good. I think the one thing I need to add to this resolution is some time off for Steve and I to be alone, but this won’t realistically happen until after the Jigzag album.

So all in all the resolutions and plans towards change have really turned into tangible growth towards who I want to be.

Well… what do you know? Who’d a thunk it?

“Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.”~Henry Kaiser

Posted in Goals, Music, Music promotion with tags , , , , on August 3, 2010 by lizfrencham

I remember when I linked my goal plan (blogged a couple of posts ago) to my Facebook page I got a lot of encouragement but also quite a few people warning me of the need to be flexible and to shift a few goal posts along the way. I was also warned to be open to shelving things if they just weren’t happening for now.

Well…that was almost a month ago now and it’s well past time for some reflection. Especially in view of some dropped balls that smashed rather completely beyond repair. The first very glaring fact is that I can’t do everything I’ve taken on in the chosen time frame. It’s disappointing. I also have to admit here that even attempting it all meant that I mismanaged some ordinary everyday parts of life that led some tension. Not to mention messing up a really good chance to get some music published and near-terminally neglecting the promo of a gig coming up this weekend that I was really looking forward to. My resulting feelings of disappointment, fear and guilt are like little hard indigestible stones in my stomach. That’s where the title quote comes in. I feel this is such a golden opportunity to be true myself in ways I never have before.

I know that as a musician and entertainer, I’m supposed to smile and wave, pretend to be indestructible and generally always project success. But I don’t want to pretend. Instead I’d rather those who felt uncomfortable with sharing my failures found greener pastures. I have found peace with my intention to earn a living out of more ‘functional’ music and if things get rough there’s always a few more places I can wash dishes. At times like these I’m so glad that Steve and I bought such a humble place and have the resulting humble debt.

What that leaves is the freedom to be an artist.

I’ve had such a great time in the bands I’ve been involved in, and I believe together amongst all of our combined output (and despite the pressure to make it pay the bills) we have made some truly good art.  The restless growth of an artist is harsh though, and never lets you stay in one place for long. If you do, you end up stuck in a soul-less and vicious cycle of  imitating the person you were when that project reached its zenith. That would be like Dali painting melting clocks forever, or Picasso never getting past liberally squeezing blue paint on his palette, or Miles staying safely in his ‘Kind of Blue’ dorian haze. Not that I am claiming kinship to any of these free souls. I don’t know whether I will ever open myself and clear the way for THAT kind of expression. What exquisitely painful, bright bliss they must have known so often.

I only claim the right to feel alive when I play music, though it’s scary to have been so long in the habit of people pleasing.  I have decided for the first time to open myself to music for myself without being led by my perception of anyone’s reaction, and then just offer it up to see if anyone else is moved by it.

I hereby declare my music my own precious, perfect statement of who I am now.

"Old Guitarist" by Picasso

This blogging thing isn’t happening.

Posted in Goals, Music promotion, Music Success in Nine Weeks on July 27, 2010 by lizfrencham

Why is it that every time I want to get stuck into changing my life spot fires crop up everywhere and steal all my time and energy. Anyhow, I got as far down as the 15 sec pitch part of Music Success in 9 weeks. I’m working on something like:
Liz Frencham- a girl and a double bass with Joni’s honesty wrapped in the warm soul of Norah Jones doings late night shots with Bill Withers.
I know it doesn’t sound that folky, but either am I of late😉
Damn… gotta attend to my fireplace…

Goals, start kicking!

Posted in Everyday musings..., Goals, Music, Music Success in Nine Weeks with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by lizfrencham

This is what I’ve come up with as an overall plan. I realise that all of these goals need to be broken up into measurable, time specific steps in order to be achieved and I have already gotten most of the way into this process.

I’m excited. If I make these changes in my life the rewards will be incredible.

Career:

Finish the Jigzag album by mid september ready for a mid november launch.

Follow the Music Success in Nine Weeks program and undertake as many of the tasks as I can.

Establish a rehearsal routine for both voice & bass

Establish a songwriting routine.

Write songs for Jimmy the Fish and work with Robbie and Pete towards specific band goals.

Write songs for Liz Frencham performances/rehearse with Myles White, working towards an album to be released by spring 2011

Work gradually on duet album “You and Me- volume 2” to be released autumn 2012

Put together a package for a function band(swing/funk) and promote through local function venues, in order to get regular bill-paying music work.

Health:

To lose 6kg and establish goal weight at 60kg by the spring.

To increase my 4 x weekly 20 minute bike routine until it burns 300 cal instead of the current rate of 250 cal per session by the beginning of october.

To establish a strength training fitness routine.

To establish a daily food tracking and check in habit. (Possibly using the spark people website.)

Spiritual:

To establish a meditation/prayer routine using Effortless Mastery as a tool

To complete The Artist’s Way 12 week course.

Relationships:

Organise monthly dinner dates with my close circle

Organise Skype dates with long distance friends

Re-establish regular contact with my family members

If you want something to happen, start doing something.

Posted in Everyday musings..., Music, Music promotion, Music Success in Nine Weeks with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by lizfrencham

Here I am in this quiet space again and I’m really present with these words in a way I haven’t been since I wrote the ADHD post some months back.

A lot has happened since then. Steve and I were married in a really simple ceremony in front of about 170 friends and family in the CERES community garden in Brunswick. It was a huge thing to plan and organise.  I’m hoping I will have the chance to put some recollections of it down in a blog post in the coming months, maybe when I get the video footage edited and the photos finally sorted. The most wonderful day of my life so far, yet it left me exhausted and feeling strangely barren as soon as the euphoria faded. I have found out since,  that this kind of reaction is perfectly normal. They call it ‘post bridal depression’ or ‘post wedding blues’, and in my case it resulted in a fair bit of  drinking wine, eating chocolate, sleeping in, pajamas til mid afternoon and inability to answer emails, write or practise music for about a month.

Thankfully I got through it and have now managed to pick myself up and start the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married. Something fundamental has changed in our relationship. When difficulties arise as they do all the time we can look at each other and call upon our vows as solid rock when we are struggling with issues.

“I love you.      Today, before these friends,  I promise to keep pace with you, to help water your trees wherever you plant them and to keep the fire burning even in your absence.       I will try, through grace, to keep the doors of communication open, sharing my own heart and listening to yours in equal measure, even when the words are hard to hear or understand.      I won’t allow my fear or expectations to cloud your true beauty and I will encourage and support you on every step of your journey.     Most of all I promise to try, and if I fail, to pick myself up and try again.”

April 24, 2010

But the most important thing in a relationship is to look after yourself and your own spiritual path. It’s the only way to be healthy, robust and energetic enough to actually contribute to a relationship. So now after being obsessed by one day for the most part of six months it’s time to re-engage with Liz the musician and songwriter.

I have started a three fold process of sharpening my own neglected, rusty saw.

Firstly, I picked “The Artist’s Way” out of the shelf again 3 weeks ago and am embarking on an creative unlocking process which will hopefully result in new music. I have never before gotten through all 12 weeks, but I feel more determined and centred than ever before.  It’s winter and I’m not working anywhere near as much as I have in the past ten years. The time is right. The morning pages still feel like a drudge but my mind feels clean and sharp after them. I’m already playing with song ideas.

Secondly, I purchased “Lifetick” goal setting software in order to finally set some clear goals in stone along with corresponding tasks and deadlines. I can actually track my progress towards my dreams in a real visual and concrete way, and it really helps to inspire me. It’s also helpful to actually map it all out in one place to see whether my goals actually line up with my ideals about what I feel is important in life. I am almost finished setting it up and it has transformed my feelings of direction and clarity in decision making.

Finally,  I opened up “Music Success in 9 Weeks” for the first time since I downloaded it almost a year ago. Back then I got stuck on goal-setting. I was in a real transition period and I couldn’t really see clear to what I wanted. I am still transitioning so I may not be ready to really embrace each of the steps. New house, new local area, new marriage and finally two relatively new music projects emerging from the drawn out end of two old ones. I’ve also decided to put a successful collaboration on hold despite it’s popularity as it feels like it’s creative development is in a dormant stage, and I no longer want to play shows with only old material, no matter how good it is. Despite these things, I still feel like I want to walk through the 9 week process, even as a dry run for a later time when I feel like either of those new projects has something concrete in the way of a CD or finished show to offer.

This week was all about setting goals and I’ve just about got them together. ..

Rilke

Posted in Uncategorized on June 29, 2010 by lizfrencham

Rilke, in the bath, with a glass of wine and the sound of the rain on our corrugated iron roof.

I’m home alone for a few days and the house is clean and I am calm and happy. Then these words of Rainer Maria’s cascade over me.