This is the 8th of 10 song previews I am sharing, leading up to the 2/12/13 release date of my album. Thank you for your continued encouragement and support of my first single “Oh Pain”

Today’s song is: LONG HAUL

(My mom has given me permission to share this story)

A little over 25 years ago my mom went through a difficult emotional time. This affected her in ways no one could truly understand. Several members of my family made the decision to get her help, so they sent her to be treated in the hospital.  I was about 8 or 9 years old at the time and I didn’t fully understand what was going on. I would hear terms like “Psyche Ward” and I didn’t really know what that meant. Next thing you know we were making regular hospital visits to see my mom.

I remember when my family would arrive to visit her we’d always come to this door that led us down a long hallway. This hallway led to another door which had to be unlocked for us to get in. We’d walk in and my little eyes would see grown men walking around in hospital gowns speaking loudly as if they were having a conversation with someone…but no was near them. I remember the eyes of this one woman, deep set and lifeless, staring straight ahead as she stumbled down the aisles of this section of the hospital known as the “South Wing.” We’d finally arrive to a room where my mother would be sitting on her bed. Often times she’d have a friend with her who she’d introduce to us by name. She would talk to the people of the south wing with great interest and loving kindness, as if they were special guests at reception. I remember being one on one with her and carrying on conversations, laughing and enjoying being in the presence of the woman who gave me life. It was a tough experience that lasted for a short time, but it seemed much longer than it actually was. She was eventually let out and sent back to her safe haven called home. She certainly had changed, but she was still my mom, beautiful, intelligent and strong.

About 7 years ago I began writing a song about those memories. When I sat down at the piano one of the first lyrical phrases that came out was “Do you know my name, can you hear me when I call?” In a conversation not to long after beginning to write this song, my Aunt and I were talking about this experience with my mom. She shared with me something that floored me. She said she remembered me asking my mom a question during one of those hospital visits….

“Do you know my name?”

She did not know I was writing this song, and that those were the opening words of the chorus. I did not remember asking this as a child. It’s amazing what stays in the subconscious and can be brought out through something as healing and lovely as music. This song was originally called “Long Hall” referencing the giant hall leading up to where my mom was in the hospital. I changed it to “Long Haul” because an experience like that never leaves someone. There is healing that comes over time but the story remains apart of all who were involved. My mom is a beautiful, brilliant and brave woman. She is witty and sharp in our conversations and she is truly one of my heroes. Just like she knew her friends in the south wing by name and loved them, she continues to love everyone in a way that inspires me.

This song is for you mom…I will love you forever

(Perhaps you can relate to this song in a different way. When I’ve played this song live before, I’ve had people share stories that are completely different from the one I just wrote about. Peace and love friends)

Nobody Puts Baby in a Cubicle

To all my creative friends who hope to make a living out of your art…

If you are like me…you get all pumped up when you hear talk of “pursuing your dreams” or light up when you hear people say things like “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” You imagine running through a field of flowers writing short stories while Sigur Rós plays mysteriously in the background…or standing on the top of a snow capped mountain selling your paintings while “O Fortuna” reverberates loudly in the air. (No…just me? And who is shopping for art on top of a mountain?)

Maybe you think about the older generations who worked the same job for 40 years and you say to yourself, “Where’s the romance in that?” or “I will not be held captive to the systematic oppression of a left brained world trying to steal my creative essence and bottle it up only to be locked in an ice chamber for centuries upon centuries.” – Obviously I am exaggerating but you get my point.

The reality is you are probably sitting in a cubicle right now, or on a lift truck at a warehouse writing songs in your head or dreaming up your next fantastical novel while wondering if life is always going to be this way. I know I was there and while there is nothing wrong or abnormal about this feeling I want to share some thoughts with you now almost 4 years removed from 9-5 land.

1) Don’t forget to be grateful you have a job. Times are hard. Families are pinching pennies to make ends meet. I remember searching for change in the crevices of my automobile years ago just so I could pay for the dollar menu items I desired from a glorious 1 star restaurant. I was unemployed at the time and was desperate for some type of income. Someone would gladly trade seats with you at your current employer…so even though it’s not what you dream of…try and keep perspective.

2) Don’t let your creativity depend on a job title. Job titles can be taken away and given a pink slip. (trust me I know) – Creativity just is…it exists within you and probably has been there since you were a child. I often found myself thinking, “If I could only sing for a living I would be complete.” In the meantime I wasn’t singing that often for fun, writing songs or doing the things that I loved to do…I was waiting to get paid so I could “truly” go after my passions. Creative employment rarely works this way. It wasn’t until years into my day job that I finally begin playing at restaurants and bars on the weekends for very little pay. I would get off work at 5 and start playing gigs at 8. (Which lead to the current band I am in now that I’m privileged to travel the country with) – Once A-Town came in to existence…it started to force me out of my job because I needed to be available for shows. (Also side note…keep being you in the midst of working your current job as much as you can. Theres nothing more life sucking than putting on a persona on Monday and then taking it off at 5pm.)

3) There are lessons you’re can learn from the corporate world now that will greatly influence you as a full time creative later. While the grey walls of your cubicle may not inspire you artistically…they can teach you some valuable lessons. Hard work, showing up on time, going above and beyond, adding more value to your position than is required etc. I am sure some of my musician friends can attest to this…there are tons of talented musicians in my home city of Atlanta. However…many “less talented” musicians get more consistent work because they show up on time, have a good attitude, add value beyond what is required and exude gratefulness. Lazy, entitled, hard to work with musicians might thrive here and there but from what I’ve seen…they stop getting called after a while. Creatives also often lack the business sense it takes to succeed in whatever it is they are going after…listen and learn from your type A business friends.

So…these are my ramblings for the day. And let me just say that I have failed at all of these at one point or another. I didn’t work as hard as I should have in my past jobs, I was ungrateful occasionally, I did sulk and wonder when I could escape at times. These thoughts are partly from good experiences and partly from screwing up. Also…I am continually trying to apply these principles as I am still dreaming about more creative endeavors to come. I have not “made it” or reached my destination. Creativity is always evolving for me…so still I learn. Hopefully some of these simple thoughts helped or were food for thought.

Peace and love

Clash Royale Tricks

If you are a fan of Clash Royale, the strategic video mobile game that attracted many, then you are probably seeking new tricks for beating the enemy on the easiest way. You have heard all tips and tricks, but you are never enough of new ones. So, next time you start playing your game take in consideration the following tricks, and also don’t forget to mention them on your friends.

Defending the towers

If you are defending towers, then you should probably use Baby Dragon who is managing very well the flying attacks like Cannon. Also another “friend” that may come in handy is Hog Rider who is very powerful to beat the tower directly. And don’t forget that he is capable of going through the water!

clash royale gems hack

Beat Hordes

You should probably take care of your tower and do not allow the big enemies to come very close. You can take the advantage of Bombers that will clean out the ground and if you want to clean the air you can use one of your cards. And you can pin point the skeletons with throwing an arrows towards them.

Beat Tanks

You have probably heard of Achilles’ heel, which means a week spot. This was the main weapon that warriors used in some big battles million years ago. Now, like a real warrior, you should use this technique, too. The Achilles’ heel of Tanks is their feet, so you better throw swarms down there an also be careful of the enemy’s cards, or use the clash royale gems hack.

Beat the Balloon

You should not allow the Balloon to get too much close to your towers because it may do a great damage. You can defense your towers by attacking the Balloon. Arrange your minions to take care of it, or use a Freeze so you can have some extra time for attacks. You can use some continuous attacks on the Balloon and he will probably go down.

Defend your area

You want to make sure that your base is secured but for that you have to get a really fast army that will response quickly to the attacks of the enemy. The opponent can be destroyed by projectile and arrows but you have to time them on the right second so try not to miss it.

Be a member of clan

If you are a beginner you won’t have this authority, but if you keep playing you can easily became a member of a clan. Here you can practice new strategies and you will get familiar with new tricks. Also, the members i.e. kings and queens can get you a gift of free cards if you request it for a particular unit. How cool is it for you to be part of one big family? The feeling would be great and you will feel motivated every day to practice your game so you can became better and better. You are going to meet friends too, so one day you will retail an interesting stories to your kid who is also crazy for some video game. Start practicing your tricks right away! Good luck in clash royale !

The Divine Gift of Creative Fire

Yesterday’s news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death struck me pretty deeply. It is always sad for me to hear of celebrity deaths but I often feel a bit feel detached…this was not the case with Mr Hoffman. I took some time yesterday to reflect on why I teared up and grieved his passing a little differently.  Yes…addiction was part of it. What a life stealer addiction can be…brutal and unrelenting. My heart breaks that Philip was all alone and using in a room in Manhattan…a borough with millions of people just outside his four walls. Yes…his children and wife losing a father was also a part of it. I can’t imagine the emotional aftermath they will experience. My heart goes out to all of his friends and family.  And yes…he was one of the greatest actors of our generation. I will miss his brilliant work. I am thankful that his completed art will live on even though the artist is gone.

I think that I was moved because I come from a long line of artists much like Philip. Brilliant Poets, book writers, painters, instrumentalists, singers, woodworkers etc…I have many lovely artist friends as well. Some are trying to interpret the world around them through their craft…to put pain into pottery, family hurts into oil on canvas, righteous indignation into melody, political injustice into chariactures. Some of my comrades are trying to create other worlds with fantastical characters, magical landscapes and wondrous plot twists. And then some create to make others feel loved, heard, understood, happy, joyful and hopeful.

I like to imagine that creative types with strong artist temperaments have multicolored blood running through their veins…processing the data of their day to day lives in their minds like a mosaic or an abstract watercolor rather than a calculated equation or a bullet point list. I like to envision that their hearts beat to the rhythm of a samba and when their eyes open from sleeping they cue the sun to rise. You see…so many artists I know live in another world while simultaneously living on this planet we call earth. So many creatives I know are brilliant escape artists…with the astonishing ability to ascend from the doldrums and troubles of this world and seek shelter in a sonnet they’ve written…refuge in a rock riff they’ve shredded…haven in a hip hop lyric they’ve penned.

Many of these same escape artists have the supernatural power to come back down from their escapade and set up a vacation slide show for the world around them to take in. The listener of these artist’s translated tunes from another world is often driven to tears. The observer of an extraterrestrial acting performance is often silenced and can’t process their feelings with words. These artists are a gift to the earth indeed.

But then comes the rub – The moments when the artist is not creating…the days when the reality of this harsh existence catches up…the moments when we are unable to escape. What to do when you struggle with the ability to find art in the normal day to day grind…poetry in the pursuit of healthy relationships with our loved ones? Do we find ways to make our days a 24 hour retreat? To borrow a quote from psychotherapist Carl Jung…

“The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him—on the one hand, the common longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire. There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of creative fire.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman had the divine gift of creative fire. I miss him already although I did not know him personally. I feel for his struggle…and for all of you who may share in this plight.

My hope is that all of my creative brothers and sisters could find the art in life…find a reason to wake up every morning…know that you are not alone…find peace for your souls…find kindred spirits to love and be loved in return by. By all means…keep enjoying your vacation homes nestled in creative otherworldly destinations of the soul…keep giving this world your art…the earth needs it…you are adding beauty.

I just hope that we all can find just as beautiful of a place to call our permanent home when we are not traveling.

Rest in Peace Philip Seymour Hoffman. Peace and love to all my creative friends.