I love to deep dive into creative projects, especially with my family. My sister Lissie has been in town all summer and we’ve stolen as many creative sister dates as we can get it. She’s a singer/songwriter (Salem Swing is her band), and one of our favorite things to do together is write songs!
The other night, we dug up a song we wrote together a decade ago, the same summer we took pictures with an old bike on a back road of the sweet German village we grew up in.
It’s a song about my kids when they were really little… it’s called Pixie Dust and it takes me straight back to my years as a young mom. It’s hard to let go of those years. I’m so grateful for pictures and songs and the little things that take us back in time, if only for a minute.
Anyway, the other night we put our heads together again and made the song even better. I can’t wait for her to record it, and we’re hoping to make a music video for it around Christmastime. I’m doing a lot of hard work daydreaming about how it will unfold. Truly, I’m giddy with excitement about it.
But today I want to tell you about a different music video that I just finished filming for her called “Pretty Pity Party,” part of which takes place in my freshly painted kitchen! She will be releasing it very soon, and I will definitely let my little corner of the world know when she does! In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of potential album cover photos that I took of her!
Ok, so by now you’re probably wondering why I’m blogging about songwriting and music videos! Well, like I said before, it’s something I’ve been up to creatively lately and also because it reminded me of a letter I saw floating around on Instagram recently. It resonated with me so much, I wanted to share it on here:
In 2006, a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author and ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond – and his response is magnificent:
“Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art, and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!
Kurt VonnegutFound on Upworthy
I can completely vouch for these sentiments! And what I want to add to this inspiring letter, is to collaborate and help others in their creative pursuits as much as you can. It’ll fill your bucket that much more and immensely elevate what any of us might accomplished on our own. Keep at it, even if nobody else appreciates it, because the reward is in how good it feels to try. Like Mr. Vonnegut said, my soul truly grows, becoming happens, and even if I rip it up in a million pieces when I’m finished, I’m gloriously rewarded for my efforts nonetheless. I spend many a Sunday afternoon playing the piano, just because it fills me up. I’ve written a handful of children’s books that the world will probably never see or appreciate, but I cherish that process. (I especially loved collaborating with my kids as I wrote the children’s books!) The growth that happened from simply trying is profound!
So, between that letter, and also doing a lot of reflecting about how much I absolutely LOVE collaborating with others creatively, I just really wanted to share those thoughts today.
Ten years later, Lissie and I decided we wanted to take a sisters picture with a bike again… a tradition we’ll hopefully keep up on a decade basis ’til we’re frail old ladies. This time we posed with a tandem bike. Seemed fitting!
Thanks for always letting me into your creative world, Lissie, and for being such a special part of mine.<3
Edit: Salem Swing released Pretty Pity Party! Here it is: