Imperfection, Practice, ReWriting

An Invitation & Let There Be Song

I got an invitation a few days ago to try out for a small gig for a group of people I care about, Seth Godin’s Akimbo community. The gig is sort of an opening slot for “The Real Skills Conference.” The upside, I would be featured at the outset of the conference and some number of people could see me doing my Work. The downside, I needed to get five minutes together.  

That’s what I did today. Sculpting a song into five minutes which would be a small gift to the community. Choosing the song I’d play was the easy part. In March, a friend in the Creative’s workshop had written a poem. I suggested she set it to music.  She challenged me to do instead, and I did.  

Writing an introduction was harder. I spent two or three hours sifting through the story I wanted to tell which would have to be about sixty seconds long. What follows is the five sentences that I wrote to introduce the song.  After the video I’ve included a draft the shorter introduction was culled from.

In March, just as we were beginning to shut down in Boston, videos from Italy’s full lock-down were emerging. They were singing beautiful arias and folk songs together. As a singer, and a songwriter it was hard not to be a little jealous of that culture. 

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I can see that those of use who were taking part in The Creative’s Workshop at the time, were singing together. The Work we cared about enough to share, ship, and comment on generously—those were our songs. 

This song is based on a poem Amanda Judd posted in the Creative’s Workshop

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Everything that follows is rough draft stuff:

March 15th, was the last day of the last week I got scheduled to work in March. 

For the first time in my adult life I lost my job. 

I’ve since come to call those three months my government sponsored Sabbatical.   

But at the time, I had no idea how or when I’d next get paid. 

Two days before I’d bought $356 worth of groceries on my Visa at 6:30 in the morning, and literally took the last economy pack of toilet paper off the shelf at Market Basket.   

The next time I’d go shopping, we’d be showering and then washing our groceries after we got home.  

At the time, Italy was in the middle of one of the strictest shutdowns in all of Europe.   

And in the middle of their shutdown, these videos of Italians sings arias and folks songs in full harmony started to emerge.  

I went onto The Creative’s Workshop and Amanda Judd had written a poem about that singing.   

I knew she sometimes write songs, so I challenged her set the words to music.  

She challenged me back.  

I blinked first so to speak. . . 

It was beautiful.   

And as we started sharing our lives moments over Zoom calls and Facebook, I know I was a little jealous. 

Built right into the people of Italy is a culture that supports singing together.  

And videos started showing up of how they came together, the people in their culture were rising up in the moment and coming together.  

These Akimbo workshops are about culture.  

Creating culture, and rising up to moments of hardship, and challenge.  

I joined The Creatives workshop in February. 

And I joined, and we created a culture.  

So when the Italians started singing from their balconies, harmonizing, each finding their part in the choir, my friend Amanda Judd found discovered her par in the choir was writing down a few words about hearing them.  

And reading what she wrote, I discovered my part in the choir, picking up my guitar.   

And make no mistake, every single one of use who was shows up, in The Creatives Workshop, or doing their work to support others is finding their part in the choir. 

Creating and continuing a culture where we join together and lift our voices up. What each of us creates and shares is the song we are singing from our balcony song with generosity, and in harmony with “The others”  

By doing our work, “by singing from our balcony,” by shipping and sharing our voices—we find the others.    

I’m a songwriter.

We’re all songwriters here. 

We’re all creators here. 

We’re all singers.  

Imperfection, Practice, Writing

Riding the Bus

Lately, riding the bus has become something I look forward to. It’s an hour commute into work if I take the bus. When I first returned to work, after my “government sponsored sabbatical,” I drove in by car everyday, saving a half hour or so. But now, both my wife and I are working again. Since we have one car, I’m taking the bus again.   

I started bringing my laptop with me. At home, sometimes I feel guilty working on a blog or doing other creative work. It’s time I could be spend with Soph. Also, I get sucked into the news, or facebook, or other dark playgrounds of the internet.  

On the bus, there’s no wifi. There is my phone, but for some reason it’s nice to sit at the back of the bus and type away. Do my work. The  commute is the right amount of time more or less. I type for a half-hour or so into Harvard Sq, switch busses, and then I can read for a bit before I arrive in downtown Boston.  Sometimes riding the bus is my most productive time during the day. 

Boundaries, Imperfection, Shame

It’s about Their Experience

I’ve worked as a server in restaurants to earn my living for the past twenty years. In the industry, I’ve been taught if a mistake has been made it’s a faux pas to explain to a guest that it was busy, or that the restaurant was understaffed.  It shouldn’t be the guest’s concern that the restaurant is busy.  

Part of what a guest is investing in when they make a reservation is the experience the restaurant has promised to deliver on. 

Of course restaurants get busy.  And sometimes understaffing happens.  But when something goes wrong and  I explain the circumstances which I claim caused the mistake, the focus shifts to my experience.

If something goes wrong, it’s better to do your best to connect with the guest, own up to the mistake and make amends.  

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Imperfection, Self-Care

Following the Cat’s Lead

Our cat has settled in in his box and is ready to turn in for the night. Every once in a while, it’s good to follow the cat’s lead and rest. Today is a resting blog. You could choose rest too. What is a way you might let yourself off the hook today?

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Imperfection, Inherent Self-Worth

Fixed Gears

About ten years ago, I bought a used bike. The bike I owned was stolen out of my apartment’s foyer when my landlord left the door open. I didn’t want to invest in another new bike, so I bought one used bike.   

Because the old one had been stolen out of our foyer, I locked the new one in the closest convenient place. Outside. On a “No Parking” sign. Summer turned to fall. Fall turned to winter. At some point the bike was left out on the pole in the snow. 

In time, it’s gears locked up and they could be switched in only one direction. After a while of course, the bike ran out of options in that direction.  

I took it in to the bike shop to be looked at. The bike mechanic’s prognosis was he couldn’t fix the gears but he could turn into a fixed gear bike if I liked. I wasn’t super happy about it, but I was still feeling crunched for cash. I could have no bike or a bike with one working gear. I went for the fixed gear. That’s when I discovered that there’s a kind of ease with having one fixed option.   

I thought of all this today as I listened to Tim Ferriss talk to Debbie Millman about her experience working with habitual patterns in her life. That after thirty years of therapy, she said she would have thought perhaps she’d be done with some of the issues that come up for her. She also, how she wouldn’t really be who she is without those issues.   

She’s basically what she was saying was in certain aspects of her life her options are basically fixed. That’s when I found myself thinking about my old bike again and how there was a kind of freedom in knowing what I had and never having to shift gears.  

This is a simplistic metaphor, and our lives are complicated—still there’s something there that I think could be worth exploring further.     

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