Growing up in Colorado I became accustomed to dramatic season changes. Moving to Boston during college and experiencing Fall in the Northeast was the only thing that I’ve seen come close to the dynamic beauty of the Rockies in October. In Los Angeles, we’ll probably have 70 degree weather throughout most of the year. However, Fall is happening if you look for it. A few weeks ago it started with the light changing. Next, the early mornings and late afternoons got a little crisper. Now you can see the leaves and colors changing in the city and on the trails, and if you LOVE Fall as much as I do, even these subtle changes bring incredible beauty to your day.
The Summer was a season of resolution. My company, Shmedia, is now a year old and we’ve spent the first year of business learning how to manage ourselves and figure out how NOT to spend all our time being sales people so that we can just do the stuff we enjoy and are good at. Now that Shmedia is primarily consumed by one client, I’ve finally reached a point where I can manage this business and continue to pursue my music career at full force and NOT be pulling my hair out. My college roommate Stephanie told me this past weekend that I’ve ‘made it’ in this regard. I don’t have a boss and I can do what I wish with my days, and that is a freedom that I understand may not last forever and is indeed priceless.
However, I have a lot I still want to do. What this reprieve really is, is a chance to be relentless and hard working. These are the projects and goals I have going into this new season:
1. Finish making a kick-ass record. I’m excited about the songs, the arrangements, and the musicians playing on my record. I’ve raised the money to complete the project and I am READY to have this thing done! I’ve never been more proud of something and I just can’t wait for it to be finished already. Of course, now that the record is getting close to being finished, I have even more to do. Pursuing radio, putting together a tour, getting licensing spots – all fall on my list of things I will accomplish next.
2. Launch my secret project that I keep talking about launching. I don’t want to give it away until it’s ready, but I’m working on a website and possibly a mobile app that was inspired by this thought: When we’re kind to each other, we’re happier and it’s contagious. Stay tuned.
3. Get ultra-marathon ready! It’s been too long since my last race. I’ve eased back significantly with running this past year as a result of an injury (not due to running) in combination with being busy and overwhelmed. Training for ultra-marathons gives me a lot of time to think and be productive AND lots of time to not think at all. That’s the beauty of long runs, you can meditate for hours or think for hours and still have a ways to run. I feel so powerful after running for hours. I think a 50k before the end of the year would be a good way to ease back in.
4. Meet new people! Los Angeles is designed to keep you in your social bubble. It’s good to have a community, but there are SO MANY interesting people here doing novel and creative things. I want to become more involved with the Los Angeles community as a whole and contribute in more diverse ways. I am hoping that item 2 will help with this goal.
5. Be a better “weekday vegan”. This is Max and I’s term for our current diet. When we grocery shop, we buy animal-free food. We started this a year ago and immediately looked and felt better. When we eat out or go over to someone’s house for dinner, pretty much anything goes. We eat what we crave or what is being served and figure that we’re reaping a lot of the health benefits but not totally depriving ourselves or making it difficult for people to accommodate us during a meal. What ends up happening is you start to crave animal products less, the less you eat them. Over the Summer I’ve been eating out a lot more and haven’t been feeling the same benefits of a primarily plant-based diet. I’m being more conscious of this now, which will probably help me quite a bit with getting back into ultra-marathoning.
Anyone else feel compelled to set new goals during the Fall?
Bomb=Dropped. I’ve been depressed.
Of all the good that has come out of this year, I haven’t seen much purpose in talking about all the crappy parts. Everyone has challenges they face and overcome in order to move their life and dreams forward. I personally haven’t talked a lot about the dark sides of this past year on this blog because in the moment I’ve found that it was important for me to focus on the good in order to keep moving forward at the relentless pace I felt was required for me to succeed. I won’t go into detail with all that’s gone down, the important thing to know is that I have been depressed much of the last 14 months. However, now that I’m on the other side of it, I’ve realized how important it was for me to hear about other people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps when I was feeling bad about my situation. Here are a few things that I’ve learned this year that have made me a more productive and happy person.
1. Want to feel connected, inspired, and put your own problems into perspective? Learn about the Universe!
As a kid, the universe terrified me. The concept of space and infinity made me feel like I was going to disappear, or that my existence was insignificant. When I went to church, space was never mentioned when talking about God or spirituality, which I now find absurd. This time last year I started watching How the Universe Works with my best friend Nicole. Let me tell you, the episode on Black Holes made me feel more spiritual and connected than anything else ever has. Seriously, the more I learn about the universe, the more I see my experience as a human as just one in many things I will get to be a part of. The fact that we exist at all is amazing. The way we touch other people’s lives, or interact with people, teach each other lessons, this is the true value of human experience. We’re all made up of the same stuff that the rest of the universe is made of. Seriously, go learn about the Universe and feel connected and at peace with your role as a human.
2. Actually go and DO the things you know you need to do for yourself. You know what they are…
Last March I wrote out a list of all the things that make the Katelyn machine happy. You know the days that you wake up and you’re in a funk, you already have a bad attitude about the day ahead, or you just don’t feel alert and alive? For days like that, I refer to this list to see which of these items I’ve neglected. It only takes a day or two of not doing these things for me to start feeling negatively affected by their absence. I HATE waking up early, but there is literally nothing in the world that makes be feel better about the rest of my day than an early morning run. I’ve found that actually writing this list of priorities on the wall really helps. I look at them every day, therefore I’m mindful of these things every day and I try to incorporate as many of them into my day as possible.
Taking it one step further: It’s also helpful to write my short term goals here, so I know what I’m working toward each day.
3. In order to BE happier, you have to train your brain to THINK happier thoughts!
When you’re depressed, it’s like your brain has latched on to negativity, self-doubt, passiveness, and indifference, and just loops these thought patterns over and over. You literally train your brain by practicing good or bad thought behavior. I had a lot of days where I just felt… bad. I also work a lot and do a lot, so feeling bad would kind of disguise itself as fatigue. I would pass up opportunities to go and do because I felt tired, but really, I felt sad. The fact that I told myself that I’m a busy, hard-working person that deserves rest was NOT the right answer. Yes, those things are true, but what I was doing was not exactly resting. I didn’t feel any better by saying no, I just felt safer in the moment. Tired thoughts soon became negative ones. I didn’t notice my brain had morphed into something else until it was causing me so much grief that I had to start challenging it. I recently read this article about listing 5 positive thoughts for every 1 negative thought and it is a life-changing activity. I literally do this all day long now, and it has helped to build new pathways in my brain that establish positive thought patterns. This makes me a more productive and loving person. It’s also helpful to say nice things to other people.
Taking it one step further: First thing the in morning, I think of 5 positive things in my life right off the bat and immediately write it on the white board in my kitchen to look at throughout the day. I also write my goals for that day such as, “Be open to positive change, look for opportunities to learn something new about myself.”
4. If you’re going through hell, keep going. -Winston Churchill
This was pretty much my mantra for much of this year. It’s also very similar to the advice my coach Jimmy Dean Freeman gave me before doing my first 50 mile race. “This is not linear. It doesn’t only get better or only get worse.” Much like running ultra-marathons, in life, some moments you feel strong and amazing and other times you honestly believe you have exhausted all your efforts and you can’t continue. When I feel like shit, the worst thing I can do is nothing. Remember all that ‘resting’ I was doing? What I was actually doing was sitting still, when happiness is an ACTIVE state. If you don’t like where you are or how you feel, pick a direction, any direction, and move in it. DO NOT STAND STILL. Hear me? You will not feel better. Keep moving forward because, I promise, you can.
5. Life is happening. Most of it isn’t happening on your phone.
I love social media. I love the Internet. I use my MacBook Pro, my iPad, and my iPhone daily. I have Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Instagram, Tumblr, all of which I use regularly. I like staying in touch with my friends, taking photos, and organizing my life in the ways Apple and the Internet have made possible. Heck, I own a Social Media consultation business, so diving deep into the online world and understanding what happens there is a big part of my life. That being said, too much time in front a screen makes me depressed. Ever feel like Instagram is just a newsfeed of all the people who are cooler than you? Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks should document life, but life shouldn’t have to pause to accommodate posting and checking on posts. If I’m playing and singing a song for someone and I look up and they’re on their phone, it kinda makes me feel crappy. If I’m not busy enough and I’m sitting and watching how many ‘likes’ a photo of mine gets, I’ll probably end up feeling depressed. Ugh – seriously, this combined with feeling ‘too tired’ to go out and do something = BAD combination. If you need to have an important exchange with someone, texting is the worst form of communication. Ever. These tools are meant to work with our lifestyles, not dictate them. Life happens offline, with eye contact and conversations with our real-life human voices and facial expressions and most importantly, vulnerability. If I’m feeling depressed AND I’m on the computer/iPhone/iPad, the first thing I do is get the hell away from all things tech related, and find someone to make eye contact and converse with.
6. Your friends are contagious. Don’t hang out with assholes.
I’ve managed to go 25 years without any real drama in the girlfriend arena. Last year, after fearing a friend of mine didn’t really want to be my friend and actively was working against me, I completely backed out of my own social circle in order to not push this conflict any further. I’ve spent so much of this past year with my head down working, or my head down resting, or my head down feeling depleted. After finding myself in a better place a year later, and feeling more willing to be social, at first I kept feeling worried that my friends wouldn’t or didn’t like me anymore. In actuality, I have a handful of amazing friends who are my family out here. Hanging out with happy people makes you feel happier. In fact, according to the This Emotional Life episode ‘Re-thinking Happiness’, if your friend is happy, you’re 10% more likely to feel happy yourself. This is true for up to 3 degrees of separation! Red flags are red flags and your intuition works for a reason. Make sure your close friends are good, loving, compassionate, and moral people, because it will affect how you feel whether you want it to or not.
*Hops off cyber soap box to go do things*
Everytime Eric comes into the studio, it’s a great day. Take a look at the love he put on “Fix”. Remember when I posted the scratch piano a little while back? The song is coming along now!
It’s been a busy Summer and I haven’t been updating nearly enough. Here’s a video recap of some of the stuff I’ve been up to!
First of all, I’m writing this with Teddie Bird on my shoulder. In case you’ve missed the Facebook or Instagram photos, I adopted a parrot after he got hit by a car last month. I’m in love and I’m pretty sure it’s mutual.
I have been out of town for the better part of the last 2 weeks. First I was up in Squaw Valley for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. I was out there to crew my friend Craig. He’s one of my wonderful Kickstarter backers as well as a good friend of mine that I met through ultra-running a few years ago. He sure did me proud when he ran the entire race with a smile and finished in a dead on sprint! Seriously! I have photos:
I still can’t run much due to my noodle ankle, and haven’t been racing much due to the time required to record my album and plan a tour, so crewing is a great way for me to spend time with the community I love so much.
I also got to meet Gordy Ainsleigh, who is somewhat of a legend in our running community. Originally, this “ultra” was a horse race. Gordy was the first person to cover the 100 mile distance on foot when his horse went lame at the 1974 start. I have video from this whole weekend that will soon be spun together into a new episode of Music & LSD. Yes, I still make those and this will be a good one.
A couple of days after returning from Western States, I flew into Denver for the Rising Star Conference at the Academy of the Arts. I used to take voice lessons and performance lessons here and absolutely LOVE this place and the people it attracts. The teachers are fantastic and the students are ambitious and talented. I put on a few clinics with some of the other alumni who came back to support the academy. It was a jam-packed week and weekend, but was definitely worth the trip. After reuniting with singer/songwriter Melissa Fuller, we started planning a Nashville show this October! Stay tuned for more on that soon…
The next two months are already booked up with shows, travel, recording, another hundred miler, and of course Shmedia. Yesterday I felt too tired to even start the day, and I never fully got going. At the clinics last weekend, I shared the lessons I’ve learned through ultra-running that apply every day in my life as an independent musician. The first, and most valuable one for me on days like yesterday, is “Body first, mind second”. If I can physically keep doing things, I keep doing things. Even if I have the worst attitude, sooner or later my brain catches up to what’s going on and starts to get on board again. Whether it’s 80 miles into 100, or 10am on a Thursday after the 4th of July when you can’t find your keys or wallet and your bird is being a jerk.
That being said, rest days are key and not feeling bad about taking them occasionally makes them work even better.
This past weekend we recorded the sax parts for my song, “Your Goodbye.” We layered bari and tenor sax with a little bit of clarinet in a few parts of the tune. Here’s a few photos and a video sneak peek at what we did!
I spent a lot of yesterday practicing piano, which is something I don’t do nearly enough and probably should. I warmed up with this piece – one of my most favorite, simple and short pieces by Chopin.