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Coming Clean

enrichment-programsSeeing as how the busy-ness and abundant foodstuffs of the Holidays are only a few weeks away (well, 6, but lately time has been FLYING), my good friend and I decided to embark on a 10 day cleanse & reflection period together to nourish our bodies, gather our wits, and weed out some bad habits. Anyone who wants to join us can hop on board… We still have 7 days to go!


So what is this “cleanse”, you might ask? Well, basically we decided that we wanted to eliminate some foods (read: mostly beverages) that have a grip on us, spend less time on our smartphones (more on that later), and devote energy to pursuits that we care about (in theory) but never make the time for in real life. So we met at Lake Ave Restaurant on Tuesday night to hash out our strategy (plus we had to indulge in wine and dessert one last time). Our cleanse is somewhat based on the Four Winds Holistic Cleanse (in truth it’s only very loosely related… like a great uncle through marriage). The Four Winds Cleanse is awesome but is for the Zen Masters among us. I’m more of a white belt in the area of self-control, so I caved on my second day when I tried it a few years back. But the intent is there in our modified version — slow down, reflect, eat less inflammatory foods, drink lots water, and take care of ourselves!

So here are the ground rules:

downloadGOOD FOOD: We’re focusing on eating lots of vegetables and fruits and eliminating the nonessential stuff like added sugars, alcohol, and caffeine. So here’s the list of foods that we agreed were off limits: No chicken, red meat, pork, shellfish, clams, refined sugar, grains (except wild rice and quinoa), potatoes (except sweet potatoes), corn, coffee, dairy (except plain yogurt), alcohol, carbonated beverages, and chocolate.

Because I am a meat-itarian we decided to allow fish, plain yogurt, and eggs… I am literally the worst vegetarian on the planet and the one time I tried to give it up ended in me having dreams about stealing meat and eating it in a dark corner where no one could see me. So I am not ready for an animal-free cleanse, yet (maybe never). Most of these suggestions are from the Four Winds Cleanse that I mentioned earlier, just in slightly less restrictive forms.

Almost three days have gone by on this cleanse and I can tell you that giving up sugar was quite a shock at first. I was STARVING (and sad) the first day and exhausted the next. But I wasn’t surpised, many people experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit sugar cold turkey. Probably this is because we eat so dang much of it! According to data from the U.S. in 2008, people are consuming 76.7 grams of added sugar (not naturally occurring in fruits / vegetables) per day, which equals 19 teaspoons or 306 calories. According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amounts of added sugar people should eat are only 6 teaspoons (25 g, 100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (37.5 g, 150 calories) for men. So on average we are consuming 2-3 times MORE added sugar than is healthy for us. Sugar is being linked to all sorts of health complications, and our cleanse virtually eliminates all added sugars. It also focuses on anti-inflammatory foods that are easy on your body. There’s lots of information out there on the anti-inflammatory diet — if you haven’t read about it but suffer from chronic illness like arthritis or have a history of heart disease, you might want to read up on it. But this cleanse isn’t only about food! Read on…

LOTS OF WATER: We’re trying to drink 8+ glasses of water a day (actually for me it’s 4+, as I am the size of a nine year-old). After all, water is good for your whole body! And we don’t always remember to drink up…  in fact the average American only drinks 2.5 cups of water daily. So imbibing a little more H2O seemed like a logical goal of the cleanse!

FITNESS: Our aim is to work out for at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week (again, I am a newbie… you may be prepared for higher intensity or frequency when it comes to physical activity). I’m sure you don’t need to be told that working out is good for you… It’s just that pesky little practice of transforming knowledge into action that often gets in the way of fitness.

This is a huge area of struggle for me, so I’ll let you know if I have any breakthroughs this week! I can say that getting a FitBit this January did help me realize just how little I was moving on a daily basis. And I do try now to reach my “step” goal (it registers large movements in my wheelchair as steps) — but true heart-pumping workouts still feel like pulling teeth to me. Any suggestions?

CONNECTING WITH SPIRIT: Another daily goal for the cleanse is to meditate, do a devotional, or practice yoga daily (whichever floats our boats that day). Meditation’s power to transform the brain is hardly debatable at this point and yoga has its own litany of health benefits. But beyond any healthy boosts these practices provide, we also just want to make more time to pause and nurture our inner spirit. Otherwise life can fly by pretty quickly!

GRATITUDE: We are aiming to write down three things we are grateful for each day. Why? Because it has been scientifically been proven to be good for you to appreciate the blessings in your life. In one gratitude study, “researchers asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

Don’t have lots of time for writing?  There’s a simple app I’ve been using called Attitudes of Gratitude that makes this task easy and quick!

READING FOR PLEASURE: During the cleanse, one of our goals is to read more books for pleasure. We ultimately decided to read a few simultaneously so we’d have something fun to discuss, rather than just complaining about how much we miss coffee. We picked “Through Time into Healing” and “Messages from the Masters” by Dr. Brian Weiss and also “Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God” by Rainer Maria Rilke).

The point of this piece of the cleanse is to build in some pleasure. After all, it’s about nourishing yourself! Obviously if you’re not into reading you could aim to work on another oft-neglected hobby, or try a new one!

LESS PHONE TIME: This is a biggie.  We are attempting to limit phone use to less than 2 hours a day, and to keep them stowed away for 30 minutes upon rising and 2 hours before bed. Oddly enough,  this has been way harder for us than we expected. You may be surprised to learn that a recent study found the average smartphone owner uses their phone for 3 hours and 16 minutes every day. Another study found that, in particular, young women averaged 10 hours a day! Increased phone use has also been linked to poor fitness, a fact which is common sense in some ways but also easily overlooked.

Perhaps you are reading this thinking,  “I don’t have a problem with my phone – I can turn it off whenever I want!” But I would challenge you to do some unofficial research before you declare yourself to be free from a smartphone addiction. Awhile back I installed an app on my phone called Phone Usage Timer and was appalled to learn that my own phone use over the last 30 days averaged 4 hours and 42 minutes a day… that’s getting into seriously unbalanced territory! I am tired of having my phone permanently attached to my hand… What other awesome things could I be doing with my life and the people around me if I wasn’t always checking social media or answering emails all day long? If you (like me) need some help avoiding the technological black hole that is your phone, you may want to install the app FocusOn, which allows you to block apps and even certain time-sucking websites like Facebook for a specific amount of time or on a schedule of your choosing. So far I really like it!


One key ingredient that has always been missing when trying to start something new was accountability. So this time around, my friend and I decided to create a shareable spreadsheet on Google Drive so that we have to record our progress and thus stay accountable. Here’s mine from the first 2 days:

Cleanse Log Pic

As you can see I am not batting 100… But I have kept up with the food, water and reading goals, so that makes me happy! You gotta start somewhere, right? Luckily there are still 7 days left of the cleanse (and of course the rest of my life) to make progress — in this case, the goal is a closer alignment of my values with my daily actions. The journey towards congruent living is never easy or without setbacks. But as motivational author Brendon Burchad reminds us: “We must remember that the power to direct our destiny comes only from a mindset that makes us willing to struggle through learning, effort, and growth. You have a clean slate every day you wake up. You have a chance every single morning to make that change and be the person you want to be. You just have to decide to do it. Decide today’s the day.”

943670_10151604726373167_1021592081_nTHE WHY

I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of living for enrichment of self and others. As I’ve written about before, enrichment is all about making your life “rich or richer, especially by the addition or increase of some desirable quality, attribute, or ingredient”. This looks different for everyone and varies during your lifespan. When you’re a baby, enrichment might be passive as you benefit from the love and physical care of your parents in your relatively helpless state. As a child, enrichment can be both passive (the good food your mom cooks you) and active (the awesome games you make up as you run around outside that nourish both your imagination and your physical body). As an adult, enrichment is often an active pursuit – how can I live in a more healthy way so that I can enjoy this experience in my body as much as possible? How can I keep learning to expand my mind? What fun activities can I pursue just because they bring me joy? These are all questions I ask myself often at this stage in life (and a huge motivation for the cleanse). As we experience illness or approach death, we may once again be the beneficiaries of passive enrichment – a good meal fed to us with compassion, having someone provide us with dignified physical care, receiving comfort from our friends and family. It makes no difference where we are on the life continuum — enrichment matters for everyone because everyone can appreciate enrichment.

So maybe you aren’t the kind of person who feels a cleanse would be enriching to your life – that’s totally fine!  But if you do feel that a lifestyle change or a shift in focus might do you good, then seize the day! The first step is to take some time to figure out what it is you REALLY believe in and what you desire for your life. Then you can begin to look for ways to fulfill these goals and express your values in your day-to-day experience. And of course you’re invited to join in on the cleansing fun this week… the more the merrier!

“This must be our day to define the best of who we are and what we will stand for. Tonight, in the glow of gratitude for our free will, let us write down the words and phrases that describe our ideal identity. Put them on beautiful paper and in ink. Carry them everywhere. Look at these words, memorize them, verbalize them—become them. The more we align our actions with this identity, the more free, motivated, and whole we shall become. Life will feel brighter and more our own, more deep and satisfying. Destiny will smile on us and we will be welcomed into the gates of heaven as people of purpose and integrity.” – Brendon Burchard

Album is officially released! One chapter ends, another begins…

20151102_185331So as time always seems to do, it marched on boldly and now here we are planted squarely in the month of November… How October flew away so quickly I will never know! But, as you may have guessed, the seed that was my album concept which I started nurturing almost a year ago has finally come to fruition! The CDs arrived in the mail early last week, and that same day I received confirmation that my album is also up on iTunes… So I guess big ideas can be brought to life after all!

But of course no undertaking is the work of just one person. I would have been at a loss without the expertise of sound engineer Jake Larson (Sacred Heart) and graphic designer Shawn Stigsell (Stigsell Creative)… It turns out three heads are better than one! What’s more, the album wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for your generous support — so thank you once again for your kindness! I am hoping to have all the CDs mailed out to those of you who contributed to its creation by the end of November.

12182607_739581359481396_6796540679297961997_oI was also blessed to have two extremely different but equally enjoyable CD Release shows last week. The first show was at Bulldog Pizza and Grill on Tuesday, November 3rd. It was a jubilant family party with lots of kids in attendance (including 4 of my youngest fiddle students), some seriously excellent local talent (go see John Seguin, Ann Kathryn, and Jen West… they are all fabulous!) and a laid-back atmosphere that truly made me smile. Ken and Sue (the owners of Bulldog Pizza) have been nothing but generous towards me and my music — they even offered to give free root beer floats to the all kids that night just to amp up the festive vibe. I was still aglow on Wednesday morning.

Because Tuesday evening was so sparkly, I was extra happy when Thursday night’s show at The Red Herring Lounge also went swimmingly. Four Mile Portage had a really fun performance that even included members of the audience square dancing. I sang three numbers with them at the end of their set — including a banjo/fiddle cover of “Bird Song”, a tune I wrote for The Murder of Crows. Afterwards I played about 10 songs, mostly from the new album, only with a twist — Alan Sparhawk sat in with me on his baritone guitar and improvised along with the traditional melodies. It was so much fun (and quite meaningful) to play with him again after his long stint of touring… I will be forever grateful for his creative influence and for helping me to expand my musical boundaries! Last but definitely not least, the Brass Messengers took the stage for a super enjoyable musical romp. By the end of the night, this raucous 8-piece brass band was walking around the bar, mingling and dancing with the audience members… while playing! IT. WAS. AWESOME.

All the Roads that Lead Us HomeNow that such a big project has been launched, it’s important for me to remember that my album creation isn’t DONE — in fact, its life is just beginning! I had the great fortune of a favorable first review in the Duluth News Tribune on Thursday and it gave me a boost of motivation to spread the word about this project. My focus of the next couple of months is about getting lots of ears listening to these tunes — I am so happy with the way it turned out, and I genuinely want to share this music with you! You can order a CD or download card of “All the Roads That Lead Us Home” here; it’s name your price for a limited time. The album is also available for digital download in the U.S. at these online stores: iTunes, AmazonGoogle Play, and CD Baby.

Anyway, this past week was quite the ride! I am looking foward to the next chapter of this album journey – I’m planning to send out CDs to radio stations around the country, submit my tracks to music blogs for review, stock local shops with albums, and play some tunes at my third CD Release show at Beaners Central on Saturday, November 21st! I am excited to discover what other roads I’ll be traveling down this coming year… I’ll be sure to keep you posted along the way!

Ode to Lake Superior

2015-10-29 23.11.28I have resided in Duluth my entire life, except for three years when I lived in St. Paul to attend Macalester College. Even though I love to travel, I will always call Duluth home. In my adult years I have become enthralled with Lake Superior. Now that I teach my fiddle lessons in Canal Park, I’m around the Lake much more frequently. My husband and I try to stop by to see the water either before or after work many days throughout the year, in all types of weather… I feel like I am finally beginning to learn of her many moods.

On summer days the lake is often a serene cobalt glass; I love to busk along the Lakewalk with my violin on these picturesque afternoons. There is nothing quite as beautiful as watching sailboats float over her calm waters against the backdrop of a pastel summer sunset. During the fall, the lake’s mood begins to shift; she creates these angry grey waves that spew onto the shore.
Gaelynn Lea Busking on the Lakewalk

The winter is desolate and intensely cold; the lake hardens into a giant white sheet of ice which more closely resembles the surface of the moon than any kind of hospitable environment. In the darkness of the winter nights the ice shifts and cracks; you can hear Lake Superior boom and echo with subtle power like a timpani drum. In the spring the lake churns as she slowly manages to melt her covering – jagged sheets of glassy ice are repeatedly pushed against the shore until they finally dissolve around the middle of May.

Duluth is a magical little town for those who can endure the weather – I’ve heard it lovingly referred to as the Zenith City of the Unsalted Sea, or the Paris of the North (the Lift Bridge is our version of the Eiffel Tower). Even though winter lasts for six months, the breathtaking beauty of Lake Superior which lies right at the City’s doorstep is enough to keep many artists inspired and creating year-round, myself included… Lake Superior is our muse.

Album Due Out November 1st & CD Release Show Announcements

Album CoverHello! Thought it was about time to give you all an update on my album project… So much has been going on with teaching and public speaking and planning shows and life in general that I lost track of time and realized that the last update I gave was back in late August!

Well, here it is: the album is currently in the hands of Noiseland, the Minnesota-based company which will very shortly be printing the CD’s. The mixing and mastering is all done, the album artwork has been approved, and the tracks have been uploaded to iTunes. Now we’re in the final stages of waiting… It’s like Christmas, but it’s taking forever to get here! The release date is on November 1st, so in actuality it’s only a couple weeks away.

I just wanted to point out that your generous donations paid for $1,250 of this album project… That is over two-thirds of the total cost! For that I am extremely humbled and grateful. It turns out even if you’re doing an album on the cheap, it’s never really that inexpensive… But luckily I had you in my corner – the early adopters of “All the Roads that Lead Us Home” – and because of this  generosity, you will be some of the very first people to hold this album in your hands!

cropped-rex2.jpgNow that the album is on its way, I’ve been busy planning CD release shows in Duluth! The first CD Release show will take place on Tuesday, November 3rd at Bulldog Pizza from 7 p.m. to 11pm. This family-owned pizza parlor has been my Tuesday night residency for a full year now –  during which I got a great deal of experience with my Memory Man looping pedal. Fellow musicians John SeguinAnn Kathryn, and Jen West will be joining me that night. The show is free, and takes place during Bulldog’s delicious and cheap happy hour specials! This is intended to be a family-friendly affair – in fact, children receive free root beer floats with their meals!

The next CD release show will be on Thursday, November 5th at the Red Herring Lounge. This is a 21+ venue, so those of you who are “of age” should come down for what promises to be a fun night! The old-timey duo Four Mile Portage will be opening the show at 8pm followed by yours truly at 9pm. The end of the night will be a raucous party with Brass Messengers performing at 10pm, who are venturing up North from their usual territory of Minneapolis. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.

The last CD release show is a couple weeks later, on Saturday, November 21st at Beaners Central in West Duluth. Beaners is one of my favorite coffee shops in Duluth, in part because the owner Jason has always been such a supportive friend and a dedicated promoter of local music. I’ll be sharing the stage at this all-ages show with Aimee Tischer and Dan Dresser; the show starts at 7pm and there’s a $5 cover at the door.

Life has been so busy lately that I thought I might start feeling overwhelmed right about now… But truth is, I have been going through this little section of life with lots of support (think: family, friends, and an awesome business coach), intentional periods of relaxation, and the motivation that only comes from pursuing something that you truly care about deep-down. Plus this year I have read lots of inspiring books to keep me grounded in what matters and focused on my true objectives. Books like The Motivation ManifestoThe Power of LessFor the LoveThe Body Keeps the Score, Money: A Love StoryThe Circle Maker, and Hands Free Mama (OK, so I like to read… a lot) have helped me to remember some important truths like:wall-quotes_18124-1 - Copy

  • Habits create destiny – our life is made of little choices that we have the power to make on a daily basis
  • It’s important to disconnect from technology sometimes (I just started a no-email-or-social-media-after-work rule)
  • We can’t be everything to everyone, so choose what you care about and do that as well as you can!

Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK you for all your support in this journey. I am so, so excited to release this album into the world. Hope to see you at a CD Release show in Duluth! I would love to plan a tour sometime in the next year to visit some of the awesome folks I have met through music online… I will certainly keep you posted when that comes to pass. Until then, those of you who live outside of Northern Minnesota can pre-order the album here (name your price)! Have a wonderful week, everyone!

What’s the Point of It All? Focusing on Enrichment Rather than “Progress”

GrowthI’ll be the first to admit, I am a personal growth junkie. Some people collect postage stamps or vintage cars or tea cups — I collect self-help books! For me, the point of life has always been centered around growth, progress, and becoming. I am not talking strictly about professional development (although that’s probably why I love being both an entrepreneur and a musician… I can always improve my business, and I can always play my violin more beautifully) – I am also intensely challenged and energized by pursuing my own internal progress. How can I learn to be more organized? Kinder? Less fearful? More peaceful? Closer to my spiritual center? Over time, the concept of progress as the main point of life became an undisputed truth to me. And I must admit, this continual striving for progress has given me the will to overcome a fair amount of adversity and persist through many dark times.

But lately I’ve been re-evaluating — because a truth isn’t really true unless it applies to everyone. So as a person with a disability who is acutely aware of the suffering in the world, I began to wonder if there was a way to re-frame the concept of “progress” so that the paradigm applies to everyone. After all, every single life matters!

I believe I’ve come up with a life goal that is more inclusive and compassionate than progress: this objective is best described as ENRICHMENT. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, enrichment is the act of making something “rich or richer, especially by the addition or increase of some desirable quality, attribute, or ingredient” (in our context, you could also add desirable experiences to this definition). Instead of just looking at measurements, benchmarks, and forward momentum, the concept of enrichment allows for the individual to pursue desirable experiences or traits simply because they make living a richer experience… Not necessarily because the experience advances the person professionally or takes them to new heights spiritually.

Personal_Development_300Defining Enrichment: Both Active and Passive

Enrichment can be classified as both active and passive. Furthering your education, working towards a desired career goal, seeking counseling to overcome trauma, making healthy choices, connecting with your spirit, developing positive friendships, serving others out of compassion — these are all forms of active enrichment. You are in the driver’s seat. You are taking ownership of your life by pursuing activities that will increase your sense of well-being. Most of you reading this have some capacity to actively enrich your life — even if it’s simply reading blog posts that make you think.

Sometimes, however, enrichment is a more passive experience. After all, there are times when people truly don’t have the wherewithal, in that moment, to take actions that will enrich their lives. I am talking about people who are experiencing serious illness, those with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, babies, people living in extreme poverty, people who are dying. In these situations, enrichment can still be present — only this time it is administered to a person by others, with compassion and a sense of hope. It looks like this: having someone provide dignified physical care, quality nourishment, pleasant and stimulating experiences, comfort, or even simply the giving of one’s presence.

My Grandfather’s death last October made a huge impression on me. He was in hospice for 6 days — the last several days it was unclear whether or not he was even aware of his surroundings. Nevertheless, so many people came to be present with him in his last days. I played my violin, people prayed over him, family members sang his favorite hymns, we all held his hand; he was not alone for one moment in the hospital — relatives even kept a watch over him throughout the night. In other words, everyone did what they could to make his death more comfortable and peaceful. Even though the outcome was inevitably going to be the same, I would like to think that his passing was a richer experience because he was not alone and the people who cared about him were showing him love.

Everyone Can Appreciate a More Enriching Life

It is my belief that passive enrichment can be appreciated by anyone – even if their cognitive state is far from what we perceive as “normal”. According to a 2014 study on patients with Alzheimer’s disease, even if patients quickly forget a visit or other event, the emotions tied to the experience seem to linger. Edmarie Guzman-Velez, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Iowa, said “Our findings should empower caregivers by showing them that their actions toward patients really do matter,” she added. “Frequent visits and social interactions, exercise, music, dance, jokes and serving patients their favorite foods are all simple things that can have a lasting emotional impact on a patient’s quality of life and subjective well-being.”

Another example that illustrates the importance of passive enrichment comes from the story of Martin Pistorius, a man who fell into a coma where he remained unresponsive 12 years. Physicians said he would die, but his family proceeded to care for him and take him to a day program. Even though it appeared to others that he was not in tune to his surroundings, Martin actually began to wake up about two years into his coma. Once he was awake, Martin was aware of everything that was happening around him, although he wasn’t able to communicate this fact. In his book, “Ghost Boy: My Escape From A Life Locked Inside My Own Body“, Martin tells what he remembers from those 12 years, including how it felt to have everyone think that he couldn’t hear them or that he didn’t know what was going on. Today, Martin is able to talk again. He uses a computer to speak and is mobile with a wheelchair. His awareness has fully returned.

Obviously not everyone makes this kind of miraculous recovery, but it is very possible that everyone — no matter their condition — has a pretty good idea of their surroundings and can appreciate things like a full belly and comfortable clothes, or being spoken to with kindness and respect. The story of Martin Pistorius certainly challenges the assumptions we make about consciousness and self-awareness. To me, it is a great reminder that enrichment matters for everyone because — almost certainly — everyone can appreciate enrichment.

enrichment-programsBringing More to the Table than the Bare Minimum

Another key element of enrichment is that it always involves bringing more to the table than the bare minimum, out of a sense of compassion for self and others. If we’re talking about active enrichment, it means that you are always on the lookout for the actions or thoughts which will enhance your life. It’s not about maintaining the bare minimum standards to survive – you have self-compassion and know that you deserve to do things that enrich your life. Even though at first glance this may seem a lot like the concept of progress, the key difference is that enrichment is not really goal-oriented. You don’t have to obsess about “the next career move” (or the future in general) if that’s not your thing. Enrichment says that you are enough, right now… But what can you do to help yourself to truly enjoy the view from this very spot?

In terms of passive enrichment, we can and should always bring others more than the bare minimum when we are caring for them. I’m not talking about working 80 hours/week to “save the world”… I mean that we can always approach our tasks with a sense of compassion and purpose – because the person you are serving is not very different from you. Each of us, at some point, could easily find ourselves in a place where we benefit from passive enrichment.

So if you provide some type of care to someone who cannot otherwise care for themselves, I urge you to do it out of compassion, with the hope that your care can enrich this one person’s very unique and important life. In doing so, you are most certainly improving your corner of the world.

It should go without saying that compassion is not the same as pity. Pity is looking at a person  from a place of perceived power and feeling sorry for them. Compassion is realizing that we all want the same things. The care you provide is, deep down, the care that you also desire – to be fed, to be clean, to be safe, to experience the world, to be loved, to not be alone. Your care is in fact empowering someone else to experience the world in a more enriching manner. To me, there is nothing more hopeful and positive than this thought.

Moving Forward with a New Sense of Purpose

Once I had this monumental shift in thought – from progress to enrichment – I began to feel a lot lighter. There’s not as much comparison or pressure if your life isn’t built around some sort of imaginary end goal. There is freedom to take the time to care for yourself, to stop and smell the roses, to really be present with the people you love. There’s the exciting realization that you have the opportunity to offer others enrichment every day — by seasoning all your human interactions with compassion and care. So I guess Emerson was correct when he penned, “Life is a journey, not a destination”… a journey that can be enriched every day you are alive.


Rough Mixes are Back… Editing has Begun!

Jake Larson (with fellow sound engineer John Farrell) at the late-night portion of my wedding reception... already way back in December 2013!

Jake Larson (with fellow sound engineer John Farrell) at my late-night wedding reception / Black Eyed Snakes Concert!

Hello again! I wanted to post another quick update on the album project! Jake Larson (the recording engineer I worked with on Tuesday at Sacred Heart) is sure a speedy guy! I already have the rough cuts back, and they turned out really well… I am so excited about releasing this album! We still have to trim them down and cut out the weird noises in the background but they are amazingly close as-is… What a relief!

So it turns out I miscounted in my last post… on Tuesday we actually recorded 13 tracks, not 11! It was quite a blur; all I remember is playing for five hours straight! So I played 8 traditional fiddle tunes (a mix of Celtic, American, and Swedish melodies), 4 standard songs, and one original song. Only two songs had vocals – everything else was instrumental. My violin was live looped with my Memory Man pedal. I decided to forego additional tracking because I want this music to be as pure as possible. Sacred Heart was truly the perfect place to record all those violin layers – it’s a luscious-sounding room!


It’s so tempting to share the tracks with you early, but I am going to wait until they are mixed and mastered!

Since the recording only took one day, the album is going to be much cheaper than expected…. Woo-hoo! But I still have to pay for mixing, mastering, and printing the albums. That will be around $800 – $1,200 total (or approximately $2,200 if I want to do a vinyl pressing… but I doubt that will be in the budget right away). So please keep sharing this link with your friends, families, and neighbors! Your contributions are helping to make this project a reality… in fact, the donations I received so far totally covered Tuesday’s recording session! Thank you so much!!! You lovely supporters will be among the first to receive a complimentary CD as a token of my gratitude.

I cannot wait to share this music with you! Since the project is going so smoothly, I am pretty sure the album will be out before Christmas… I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Productive Recording Session at Sacred Heart

This afternoon was my first day in the studio, and I tried to make the most of the 5 hours I was there… All in all, I recorded 11 tracks with Jake Larson today at Sacred Heart Music Center! He was so easy to work with and he knew a ton. I was pretty nervous at first,  but eventually I was able relax a little and enjoy the beautiful space. I recorded about 8 traditional fiddle tunes (a mix of Celtic, American, and Swedish melodies) and three standard songs. I think almost all of them will make it on the final album.  He’s sending me the rough cuts later this week; I can’t wait to hear them! Now onto mixing, mastering, and printing!

2015-08-25 18.37.04

P.S. Your lovely donations paid for today’s recording session in full… THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! So excited to share this music with you!  

P.P.S. If you want to make a contribution to help me finish the album (and reserve your own complimentary copy once it’s printed), you can do so here.