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“I Must Be a Mermaid, I Have No Fear of Depths & a Great Fear of Shallow Living” 
                                                                                                                                     ~ Anais Nin
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Making Music and Spirit Shine

The Magical Marble Jar Of Friendship

by Meredith Blis on 04/09/14

It should seem obvious who our ‘friends’ are.  But as I’ve seen recently in my life and mirrored in the lives around me, sometimes life brings us circumstances that can confuse our perception of who our ‘real’ friends ‘really’ are...  And as you know, when things happen in clusters around me? I start to give it some thought :)
 
So here I present a little allegory that gives a great perspective. The idea is basic – all relationships in life have a marble jar.
 
THE MARBLE JAR 
*This concept is adapted from the brilliant researcher/storyteller, Brene Brown*
 
On the first day of school, the first grade teacher presented a marble jar.   She explained to the class that when they were collectively making good choices, she would place some marbles in the jar.  Conversely, when the class broke rules or acted out, she would remove marbles.  When the jar was full,  the students would be rewarded with a celebration party.  
The teacher began the day by placing some marbles in the jar.
 
After her daughter had experienced her first betrayal of friendship, Brown used this example to soothe her tears by comparing friendships/relationships to her teachers Marble Jar.
 
When a someone honors your trust, is kind or supports you -  well that’s marbles in the jar!   And that’s how real relationships are built, one step or one marble at a time.  This applies to business as well.  (I’ve made the error of taking a handful of marbles and filing the jar in one swoop or in a short period of time, and regretted it later….)
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to let the jar fill organically over time.
 
Beginning with a handful of marbles, is giving people the prosaic, ‘benefit of the doubt’ and that’s OK.  And as we slowly add marbles over time, that friendship blooms and become more colorful! Or we stop adding them and that person may remain a friendly acquaintance.
 
However, when someone disrespects us, says mean things, or betrays our trust, we emotionally begin to remove marbles. 
Sometimes, it’s something huge and we dump the jar all at once and our marbles go rolling!  The jar breaks, we have a mess to clean and the message is clear - it's time to let go.
And sometimes it’s little things- marbles are slowly removed one by one over a period of time.  As the jar empties, we may begin to reassess the friendship.
 
In the story, Brown also asked her daughter, ‘who are your marble jar friends?’ and ‘how did they get your marbles?’
 
Sometimes it’s important to look at these things.  I realize it’s a metaphor and relationships are more complicated than a little jar. 

And it’s NOT to say that we should look at our loved ones in terms of one marble given or one marble taken.  

Things can gain clarity when we understand that oftentimes,
Trust, Love, Friendship & our Hearts are given,  One Marble At a Time.
 
Here are some of the favorite colors in my Marble Jar….
 
Friends make you feel good about yourself and your journey
            They support your endeavors & encourage your dreams
 
Friends help to lift the clouds and bring you joy
            They show up when you need a hand and pick up the phone when you need a shoulder
 
Friends stick around through life’s ups & downs
            They’re not only available when things are going well.  They are present in your life on both good & bad days.
 
Friends keep your trust sacred
            They don’t blab your secrets or share things behind your back.
 
Friends are open & honest
            They don’t hide their intentions.  If something is going on, they say it to your face with kindness and understanding.
 
Friends say sorry
            It’s important to mention this one!!  We All ‘funk’ up sometimes.
AND…..
Real Friendships survive the storm
            It’s not about the disagreement, it’s how you work through it together
 
Also, it goes without saying….
IF You want good friends? Do your best to BE a good friend :)
 
What’s in your Marble Jar?
 
So blessed for your sweet light in my life
Til Next Time! May your Marble Jar be brimming with Love and Beautiful colors!
Meredith  

Songwriting Inspiration For You !!

by Meredith Blis on 03/26/14

Last week, I was working on the songwriting page for my NEW coaching website  (should be up soon!) and it brought me some great insights on the songwriting process. You know me, I’m a little bit of nerd, always trying to go as deep as I can and figure out things out.   Throughout this article I’ve interspersed advice and quotes from some of the greats.  Because that’s a key to learning – observe the people you admire and let them teach you.
 

“If you like someone’s work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to. Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years.”  Bob Dylan 

 
Listen to their work and figure out what it is in that song that makes you feel emotions.  That’s the heart of the matter, you want to express your emotions in a way that other people feel something too.
 

“Poetry is a solitary process. One does not write poetry for the masses. Poetry is a self-involved, lofty pursuit. Songs are for the people. When I’m writing a song, I imagine performing it. I imagine giving it. It’s a different aspect of communication.
It’s for the people.”  Patti Smith


 

 Songwriters are a different breed and I don’t think different is a bad thing! Somehow, we have a burning passion to share our emotions thru words and/or music.  I can’t answer the question Why.  All I can say is that there’s a disruptive gene somewhere in our DNA…;) If we could choose something else, we probably would, but we can’t.  This little gene (or crazy genie) runs wild in our blood, and it creates an addiction to the beauty of creating & expressing ourselves in this art form.
(Important side note here, you, the listeners, who don’t possess this insane gene are the wizards who help bring our songs to life.  Thank You :)

 

"I love getting on a big writing binge and staying up a couple days working on song and knowing at the end of those two or three days that I’ve created something that was never in the world before. It’s like a feeling of creating, not that the same stories ain’t been told before, but it ain’t been told through my point of view." Dolly Parton

 
OK, so how do we turn out thoughts and emotions into song? Part of that is understanding how YOU create and what inspires you to do your best work.  Writing is individual process &  It’s truly important to connect with YOUR process.   As for the age old question of what comes first – music or lyrics?  Ask 10 writers and you will get 10 different answers.  Honor your uniqueness and that’s what’s gonna make your voice stand out. So…. Where to begin?
 

“One of the hardest things of all is to start. Just sitting down and getting over your own intimidations. Every professional songwriter I know — people who do it 100% for their living — is terrified every time they sit down to write. You’re always convinced that your next song is going to be your last, or that it’s going to be your worst, or that you’ll never be able to write anything as good as your hit. It’s a constant terror. I think all artists live in a constant state of terror.
And part of our job is to know our own chaos well enough to be able to make sense of it when you can.” Janis Ian


Another big piece is showing up & honing your skills as a writer.   It’s what we call here in Nashville, the Craft of Songwriting.   Basic things like rhyme & structure, are in place oftentimes because they are the easily recognizable tools of communication – like sentence structure or punctuation when we write books, notes or emails. Beyond that, I believe there are no rules, there are just tools, that help us when we’re blocked and make our songs shine brighter. And if you wanna change the ‘basic’ rules? Well there are no rules that say you can’t ;)
 

“The classic, quote/unquote, craft of songwriting still works; it is relevant.” 
Ryan Tedder

 
But some advice you can ignore?  That inner critique person.  As Pat Pattison said last weekend in his workshop...

“Give the critique a cup of tea and send him/ her into the other room while you are creating.  Invite him/her back while you edit.”

I know all to well, when I try to write with the critique editor in the room?  I start to feel paralyzed & my poor muse withers.
 
Thomas Edison said that Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Yeah, I know he’s not a songwriter, but I think the idea applies to writing. It’s not about waiting for the muse to show up, it’s about showing up so that the muse knows where to find you.  (See the list in the graphic above!)
 

“Inspiration is a word used by people who aren’t really doing anything. I go into my office every day that I’m in Brighton and work. Whether I feel like it or not is irrelevant.”  Nick Cave

 
Last week I had the treat of speaking with Graham Nash at a book signing here in Nashville.  While shaking in my boots, I asked him for some songwriting inspiration and he said 2 things to me


“Write from the heart and Write every day”  

 

I think that insight is awesome advice!!
There is more to share, for me the discussion and fascination with this topic could go on forever and I hope it does….  Drop a line back with your thoughts!! Would love to share them with you!
For now?
Nuff Said in prose!  I’m off to write a song ;)
May the muse be with you always and may you find the peace to listen.


Love and Light
Meredith

3 Easy Ways To Amplify Abundance

by Meredith Blis on 03/12/14

So the name of the book is “Daring Greatly” and the author, Brene Brown is amazing… and thus far the book is too ;) In Chapter One she references this quote:
 

“For me and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’  The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’  Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.  We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of….  Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.  And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get or didn’t get  done, that day.  We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack….. This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice and our arguments with life…..”
(by Lynn Twist, “The Soul of Money”)

 
Ummmmm….. Wow!  Pretty intense thoughts….
I was startled by the idea when I came across it and it even made me a little sad as I typed it.  

This quote highlights the little thoughts that have weaved the fabric of what Brown calls, our culture of scarcity.  It’s mind blowing when we start to notice it within & around us.   Our subconscious mind doesn’t distinguish good from bad – it believes what we tell it – So how can we create the thoughts that reflect the life we want to live?
 

1.  Be the Awareness Police
Every little change begins with one or a small group of powerful minds.
 
Just because other people are living/thinking in a lack mentality, doesn’t mean that you have to as well!!! 
While I don’t think its appropriate to call other people out, (that actually strengthens the inner critic ;), I can call myself out  (gently!) by simply noticing.  Become aware of the thoughts that say not enough - 
ie: I am not enough, I am not good enough, I don’t have enough (you fill in the blank)
 
Your emotion is valid but you don’t have to Validate the Thought.   Recognize that you are assimilating the voices around you –  and you don’t have to internalize or live them!
 
2.  Think about abundance
Creating the Abundance we want around us begins with recognizing the Abundance within us. Yeah, that feels like a tall order….  But it’s actually pretty simple to GIVE THANKS and acknowledgement for what you have instead of griping about what you perceive is lacking.
 

When you go to bed at night:

  • Congratulate yourself on the things you accomplished
  • Acknowledge 3-5 things you are grateful for
  • Send prayers to friends and loved ones  
When you wake up:
  • Think about the things you ARE going to accomplish that day
  • Plan at least one activity that brings you joy  (even something tiny counts)
  • Visualize your goals and dreams in a positive light


3.  Remember, You are what you eat…. Or in this case what you think….
It boils down to one simple thing….
When we focus on what we don’t want,  we attract more of the things that we don’t want! When our brains focus on lack we attract lack. BUT When our brains focus on abundance we create abundance.  It’s scary sometimes to open up to hope – we fear it leaves room for disappointment and potential failure.  But we can think of it as a win-win – by thinking about what we want, as opposed to what we don’t want,
We create the potential for the things we want to manifest!  The other option is living in the same hole of scarcity dwelling on what we don’t want.  I mean what have you got to lose?  Except the things you don’t want to manifest!
 
There is an amazing power in realizing our thoughts because it enables to empower our life
 
Wishing You Boundless Joy & Abundance
Love,
Meredith

4 Easy Ways To Hear Your Inner Voice

by Meredith Blis on 02/26/14

In our busy, loud world we often lose track of the most important sound…. Our inner voice. When we lose that connection with our intuition it’s easy to lose perspective, create chaos, stress ourselves out & forget our higher purpose.
GOOD NEWS!  It’s really simple to get back on track and here some easy ways to get started...
 
Listen to Others
Odd coincidence or not?  The word Silent contains the same letters as the word Listen
I am often guilty of interrupting or being too hurried to hear other people so this is a big one for me!  
When I did one component of my Level 2 yoga teacher training it was called, “Conscious Communication”  We spent an entire day on the topic of learning to hear other people.   And it boils down to one word, remaining Silent. 
 
Listening to other people requires us to slow down in a busy world.  When we listen, this enables us to connect more deeply not only with others but also with ourselves.   It’s also helpful to focus on your breath as you take in others people words.    When we aren’t jumping in trying to finish sentences, offer advice, or speak only to be heard, it brings a deeper level awareness, helps to preserve our energy and strengthens our presence.  Also, it’s simple kindness to allow other people to be heard ;)
 
Stop
When the mind is racing there is no way for us to hear what’s really going on inside of us emotionally or physically. 
Stillness creates space for our minds to think clearly, solve problems, create new ideas and it brings peace to our life in a powerful way. 
 
One of the best tools is meditation.  It only takes 3 minutes of meditation to positively shift our circulation & blood pressure, 5 minutes to change our breathing and 11 minutes can bring balance to our glandular system which decreases both stress & cortisol levels!
 
Silence
On a day to day basis, we tolerate so much sound around us it’s easy to forget that noise around us creates noise within us
Oftentimes our deeper voice is aching to be heard. There’s no way to hear it when the world is shouting around us!  Back in NM it was amazing to turn off my phone, not text and briefly check email once a day. That’s not always realistic, but it is plausible for an evening or a day. I promise your world will not implode ;)  The benefits of connecting with our deeper self are well worth it.
 
It’s also interesting to observe the sound distractions around us.  Oftentimes, they diver attention from what's truly going on within us.   Silence is a powerful way to build awareness.  

Slow-Down
As I said above, I took a walk in the woods last weekend and gave myself the opportunity to just BE, Slow down and connect with nature.  I went in there pretty hectic and emerged with a lot of clarity and peace.  Even in my quiet apartment I was feeling a little stressed and unfocused.   It took that hour of just Be-ing for me to sort thru the emotions and patterns that were getting in the way of my inner knowing, confidence, and intuition.  I am huge fan of nature and how it helps to bring our minds back into balance.   Take time to do the quiet things that you enjoy, allow your mind to unwind and your spirit to speak.
 
Ok, you can return to your regularly scheduled chaos now – be aware of the noise around you and don’t forget to hear the powerful voice inside you!
Love and Light
Meredith

MY DAD and WHITNEY (Part Deux)

by Meredith Blis on 02/12/14

The caption on my Dad’s Pic reads…
“For nearly 20 years manufactured millions of albums and singles for us.  While producing more memos* than anyone could possible read.  It was that kind of fierce dedication and everlasting love for his work and his company that we will never forget – With Love from your Arista Family”
*(note:memos were business notes people sent in the days before email....lol) 

 

This little blurb speaks directly to my sentiments today. My father had not worked at Arista for 2 years when he passed in ’97 - he worked at Sony.  Yet, it his Arista family still gave him this tribute……
 
And that’s the crux of this little missive - honoring people and their memory 

 
My dad was a record exec, in the 'old skool' heyday of the 80's & 90's. He was a Senior VP at Arista Records for almost 20 years.

I knew my dad had a really cool job, but it didn't seem so special to me because being in the midst of the music industry, going to concerts, meeting 'stars,' & sometimes having them call the house, etc was kinda familiar to me. 

The Best Part, was that music created such a strong bond between dad and me. The anniversary of Whitney's  passing has brought a lot of memories back, as well as some of the special things my dad taught me. 

 

  • Stand by and support the people you love
  • Eventually in life, we all learn who our real friends are by counting those who stand beside us when the chips are down
  • Show respect and to treat all people with kindness.

In my mind, press speculation equals the opposite of those 3 things….. 
 
* Too often we are quick to judge others, especially stars, (like it's any of our business?)   When we judge people by the mistakes they make, this shows a lack of support for the people we love.
 
* When someone is a "Star," people invest in their radiance, they want to absorb the light that they give off.  Even ‘Stars’ have bad days.  We fail to recognize that no one prepares a mega-star to deal with an international level of publicity. If we admire someone shouldn’t we stand by them like we would our friends when they are in a rough patch?

* When we truly love or admire someone, we love them for who they are and cherish the beauty that they bring to our world. It's important to remember to love all of them and not trash them because of things we perceive as character flaws  - that's not love, that's disrespect. 

Perhaps confusion comes from anger and sorrow about losing one of most glorious voices & also actors of our generation. We wonder how it is possible that a Brilliant talent left us so quickly and we wonder why, it's not fair, we want their magic, back . It's Ok to be sad, It's Ok to be angry. Pull up your iTunes or Your Netflix and bless the art they gave us. 

Here's what I remember about Whitney…
 
My dad described Whitney as a shy sweet 'kid.' He referred to her as a 'kid' and was often concerned because she was so talented and professionally so much happened for her so quickly. He was extremely distressed about her marriage to Bobby Brown and didn't want to go to the wedding. Although, both of my parents went – see the note above about supporting your friends :)

A voice that makes me awestruck, the beauty of it inspires me. 

A woman who at a Grammy after-party hung towards the outskirts of the room because she was shy.  She was a mega-star who actually took a few minutes to talk to a little kid (me!) on the evening she Opened the Grammy Awards.  Also, she was someone my dad cared about & that makes her special too. 
 
I recall the pictures of the Classic beautiful Whitney of 'Saving all my Love for You," the perky innocence of "I Wanna Dance with Somebody, "the sexy diva of "I'm Your Baby Tonight," a sparkling rendition of "Star-Spangled Banner," & "One Moment in Time," the warmth of "Waiting To Exhale" & of course the glorious (6 times platinum- one of the highest grossing records of all time) Bodyguard Soundtrack.

Who do you choose to remember?
 
Whitney's voice & Seymour’s acting made and created so much light & blessed so many people.  Let's remember that piece and ignore the paparazzi. 

Turn off your TV and Let falling stars shine In Peace. Honor their memory by sharing their brilliant music & movies and remembering to cherish those you love.


Sir Paul sang it Best at the closing of the Grammy's in 2012… "In the End, The Love You Take is Equal to The Love You Make"  

Don't forget that The Music and Art that people share are a GIFT, not an Entitlement. 

Hugs, Love, Light and Many Blessings
Meredith

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