Posts Tagged ‘Songwriting’

My Resolution for 2016

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I thought I wasn’t a resolution kind of person, but I’m actually finding a way to make the New Year’s Resolution thing work for me. Last year my resolution was to doodle more and call it art. And that worked because it was something that my heart and soul needed!

Resolutions that don’t work for me are those that my inner critic “shoulds” me into. I know I should exercise more, I should get out more, I should keep my temper in check, and I should write X number of words everyday.

Oh, I should do a great many things.

Whenever I’ve based resolutions on these kinds of “shoulds,” two things generally happen: (1) I fail quickly, and (2) I feel even worse about myself when I don’t measure up.

There are always going to be the “shoulds” of life and they are relentless. Even if I successfully fulfilled one of the “shoulds,” there would be another and another and another. I could run myself ragged trying desperately to be who I think I should be and do what I think I should do.

It is an exercise in futility. And is the fast-track to burnout.

I think I’m still recovering from my burnout of 2014–that was a year with a lot of “shoulds” and I ended up dropping a lot of things by the end of that year.

I’ve tried since that year of burnout to pick back up only the things that I can’t not do. Maybe that’s a weird way to say it but it makes sense in my head. I mean, there are all kinds of influences that tell me what I should do, but there is often a still, small voice that gives me sweet inspiration. These are the things I can’t not do because if I don’t do them, then my heart and soul atrophy, and wilt.

When I follow what the “shoulds” tell me, good may come of it. But just as likely I will feel run ragged.

But when I listen to that still, small voice and do what I’m inspired by it to do, then good always comes of it. That goodness is sometimes just something that happens in my own spirit–joy, relief, energy, vision, etc. But most often that goodness radiates out to others who see or hear what I’ve done or who I interact with after having done it.

With all of this in mind, I am making my 2016 resolution as inspired by that still, small voice.

Oh, the “shoulds” clamored at me as the calendar was beginning to turn. They wanted to weigh in with their demands of how I ought to be better, smarter, kinder, more social, and so on. And they make some good points.

It was tricky, but I let those “shoulds” recede into their din.

I focused in on what my heart and soul truly need in this new year. Then I came up with something beautiful and rich and life-giving. It is so simple as almost to be ignored for its profoundness. I know now that the single, most important resolution I can make is…

Create and call it therapy.

This is somewhat of an extension of last year’s resolution, yet it is more broad to account for the various forms of creativity I enjoy. At the same time, this year’s resolution is more specific–that the purpose of creating is to be therapeutic for me.

I wrote once before about how ranging so broadly creatively has made it hard to feel like I have something to “show” for myself. But creating for the sake of therapy frees me from worry about where any of it will end up, and allows me to create whatever I need to whenever I need to.

There is part of this resolution that sounds a bit selfish. And I really don’t want to be selfish. Relationships and the connectedness of us all are very important to me. It’s just that I know that when I am creating art/music/writing, that it shifts my spirit in a way that helps me relate better.

When I let myself be dominated by my inner critic–“shoulding” all over myself–I feel worse about myself and I behave worse toward others. I sometimes shut down and withdraw altogether even in relationships that are the most important to me.

I assure you, even if this new resolution sounds selfish, it has all of our best interests at its heart.

May you too find the resolve to do that which nourishes your heart and soul in this new year!

Here, There, Everywhere, and Right Where I Belong

Lately I’ve felt like I’m all over the place and yet have little to “show” for myself. And oddly enough, I’m increasingly okay with that. Somehow the seemingly different directions I’m going are all part of what amounts to my vocation. And the “measurable” marks of vocational “success” are most often the temporal things that are not really at the core of what I’m about anyway.

I’m still writing, but a lot of my writing time lately is for projects that are months or even years from publication. And I haven’t had any new writing contracts since the work I did for Augsburg Fortress over a year ago.

Okay, I admit getting another writing contract is a “measurable” that I do covet. But in my heart of hearts, I want my writing to serve a purpose, to speak grace and love and truth and beauty to people’s hearts. If the contracts aren’t coming through to be able to do that, then I’m just gonna keep plugging away, slow and steady on projects that I believe can do that someday.

The big surprise for me this year has been how I have branched out musically. I’ve always loved to sing, but never quite found an instrument I could really make my own…until this year.

I got my first guitar when I was 14. I got it to impress a boy I liked because he played guitar. That didn’t work out very well because I wasn’t serious about the instrument and somehow boys can tell these things.

Well, I worked on guitar in fits and starts over the years and eventually had to replace my old one. I got a nice Washburn for a good price because it had a “finish flaw.” But I think my Henrietta (the guitar) is beautiful just the way she is.

I picked up Henrietta this year to play in a band at the church where I was serving as an interim minister at the time. I was just singing with them at first, but then when they found out I had a guitar, I wasn’t going to hear the end of it unless I started playing too. And since the folks at that church and in that band are some of my favorite people on this earth, it was the safest place I could imagine to try at something I wasn’t too sure about.

Two things happened with the guitar that surprised me. First, I was able to recall way more than I expected. And secondly, my coordination improved more quickly than I would’ve ever thought possible. I really can’t stress enough how much the band’s support, encouragement, and gentle advice bolstered my confidence.

But as much as I was becoming more comfortable with Henrietta…it was when I bought my first ukulele, Cornelius (named after Yukon Cornelius in Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer), in April that this music thing got even more interesting. I learned how to play Cornelius really quickly. The band members embracing this new instrumental voice was just the encouragement I needed to really take off with the uke. Now, it’s to the point where I feel like the ukulele is practically an extension of myself. It’s pretty cool.

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Art by Jennifer Clark Tinker for day #26 of the Daisy Yellow 2015 Index-Card-A-Day challenge

With being in the band and playing my instruments and being around music so much, I also got into some songwriting. A lot of songwriting actually. I had written songs in the past, but now with my ukulele confidence, I’m actually playing songs I’ve written in public! And I’m loving every minute of that.

I’ve even brought Cornelius into the pulpit with me a few times when I’ve preached and that has been really well received. See what I mean about all these apparently diverging paths all being part of my vocation?

And then there’s the art thing. It was my New Year’s Resolution to doodle more and call it art. And I have. And it is. And it is wonderful! Having art as a regular part of my life has been really therapeutic for me in a lot of ways. The process itself has so many benefits. And the products are just getting better and better the more I practice!

My big art adventure was in June & July when I took the Index-Card-a-Day challenge hosted by Tammy Garcia of Daisy Yellow. The deal was that we were supposed to make art on an index card every day during those two months. Tammy provided daily prompts and lots of inspiration and encouragement. And I am proud to say that I met that challenge!

I’ve been posting my doodles/art on social media and I have been really surprised at how many people have told me how much they enjoy my art. Some of it has distinctively Christian themes, but some of it just happy or silly or just abstract. But it is connecting with people in ways that I would never have expected. And so somehow fulfilling that resolution has been another important component of my vocation.

So, I’m doing a lot of different things creatively and sometimes I’ve worried that I’m ranging too broadly. But somehow all of it has been meaningful, not just to me, but to others as well. Since connecting with people is my main thing, then even as all-over-the-place as I feel, somehow wherever this is that I am is exactly where I need to be.