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studio

Last years thoughts:

Studio: The place for the study of an art.

I was actually in the studio when I wrote that. In the producer’s chair at Jason Weinheimer’s Fellowship Hall Sound in Little Rock, working with H. on creating what would turn into his most recent release, “What It Is.” It was fun, it was informative, it was collaborative, it was music, it was indeed study.

Today, my studio is my desk, a guitar, my iphone, and google drive. I find that my studio is wherever I am — technology allows that and I am thankful for it. If I were a painter like Frida, I wouldn’t have the luxury of portability as much as I do. I can study my art in most places if I have something on which to write and record. All of this is to say I’m going to record an EP this summer to go with my memoir, and preparation has commenced.

This is probably no surprise to some. It seems my work is never completed around this subject — there is always more investigating to do, more explaining, more excavation of emotion and spirit and struggle and the hope for some exaltation at the end. Exaltation comes, but only in short bursts when I successfully describe, for myself, a feeling through a piece of art that came through the study of first, myself. Self-doubt creeps in when I wonder if it has any hope of doing the same for the reader or listener. No, my work is never done. But my work is also my purpose. What would I be without it? Is my mind my actual studio? Is my art my self? In some ways I think that is true. We are all our own works of art, as our lives are our works of art.

So far there are six new songs, one unheard original written by my daddy and my sister (she found a lyric he’d written after he died and put music to it), and I’m also going to revisit “Cold, Cold Earth,” the hidden track that was on The Hardest Part. In some ways it’s my belief that the whole thing exists because of that song, that song that tells the facts but not the truth — I’m a better writer now, I can dig out more subtlety, more complexity, and I’m less afraid to be honest. I want to finish the job I started when I wrote that lyric down over twenty years ago.

So here’s hoping I pull together a worthy, not only companion piece to the memoir, which I worked harder on than anything else I’ve ever made in my life, but something that stands alone as a document of its own merit.

I find that most artists’ works are connected — we all have our unique stories to tell and we tell them until they’re fully told, if we get a chance. I’m very thankful to have mine.

Happy Wednesday, Y’all.

AM

awareness/acceptance

Last year I wrote about the word of the day that I had received that morning. The word was ken — which means knowledge, perception, or cognizance, the range of sight or vision. A side note — I never noticed until recently that the word is used in “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” from The Sound of Music. “Timid and shy and scared are you, of things beyond your ken…” It’s amazing what the ear ignores that is unfamiliar. I hadn’t known the word before and didn’t even realize it was used in the song. Anyway… that’s pretty meta isn’t it?

I’ve been thinking about my awareness and acceptance of myself lately. I do try to be self-aware, but can we really be that without feedback from others? I’ve gone so far as to ask for it directly lately. I want to know how I’m doing, in my relationships, in my work — I think a lot of times we think we want to know, but we don’t really. We fear harsh criticism or even kinder remarks that might help us along our way and show us what we need to improve. Maybe we have to get to a certain level of self-acceptance in order to be able to face what others might really think. Until then, it’s head in the sand, heels dug in.

It’s not that I want to fit myself into someone else’s idea of who I should be, rather that I just want to improve through my own filter. I think it takes a lot of self-love to be willing to make even subtle shifts. When there is an absence of it, pain is usually at the forefront of the personality in one way or another, and pain hates change. It seems that if we have a lot of it (show me the rare person who doesn’t), it rules us until we find a way to work through it and start to let it go. Pain makes us stubborn because we’ll do anything not to feel more of it, but we only start to let go of it, in most cases, when it gets so bad that we can’t carry it anymore. Only then do we start to rewrite the script. Only then do we start to make changes. And sometimes that takes a while.

I’ll be forty-seven this year. I have wrinkles, frizzy hair, and am not happy with my body though I’m trying to love it the best I can. I recently went blonde to deal with the white hair that is now growing out of my head. I get botox twice a year. Perimenopause or whatever the hell this is is about to kill me. I wake up in the night sometimes sweaty beyond what could be considered at all cute and have to carry a paper fan in my bag at all times incase I have a hot flash in public. I take more showers per day than I used to. I’m full of strong opinions and apparently don’t shy away from making them known. I’m also apparently blunt and honest, sometimes uncomfortably so. I am impatiently patient. I have money anxiety. I will sometimes do anything but what I need to be doing. But you know what? I’ve got a lot of heart. And I’m trying to love all of me the best I can, particularly my flaws, because they need the love the most. Just like the pain does. I know I’m probably halfway finished with my life. I want to make the second half as good as I can, and I want to do it with a clear-eyed sense of myself and stay on my toes so that I can be worthy of this incredible place and the beautiful creatures with whom I get to roam it. It isn’t easy. But now and then I think it’s a good idea to ask, “How am I doing?”

I’ll just leave that right here.

Happiest of Wednesdays and lots of love to y’all.

AM

PS — Thanks for reading.

magic

I cut my hand on a piece of my Mama’s china while unpacking it a few years ago. I wrote about it in my memoir, as the pages go back and forth in time from past to present, one memory jarring the next, one occurence taking me back to my past and the memories drawing attention to some parallel in my present. I wrote about when I sliced my hand open on a saucer, how I stood there for a moment, almost transfixed, marveling at the depth and cleanliness of the gash, and how it almost immediately started to try to close itself.

Humans are magic. The human body certainly is.

Healing is a sort of magic. And it is also very much not magic. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of hard work.

I think about the thing Louise Bourgeois wrote: “The art of sewing is a process of emotional repair,” and I think about how we work so hard to repair ourselves every day, all the time, stitch by stitch, choosing happiness over sadness, peace over anger, conversation instead of withholding — it’s all taking a needle and thread to whatever has popped open. Even to get over the slightest emotional injury, even some off-handed comment someone made that I’m sure they didn’t consider, for me, requires me taking myself through my paces — “don’t take it personally, they didn’t mean that the way it came out, that wasn’t directed at you, ease up and don’t take it so hard…” I’m a sensitive woman.

I think we all, at the end of the day, are sensitive creatures.

But I think about that cut on my hand and how as soon as it was made, my skin started to try to go back together. Why don’t our hearts do that? Or do they, and we prevent them from healing, from going back together, by returning to the wound and re-opening it over and over, agonizing over which of our imperfections would cause someone to carelessly bruise us? Why does the magic take so much longer to work on our hearts than it does on our skin? I suppose that’s why we have the skin, to at least physically protect the muscle and bone that protects the most vital and most vulnerable parts.

Yet one day we wake up and we don’t remember the thing so vividly anymore. Like the faint scar that’s now on my hand from that broken piece of my Mama’s china, most of the heart wounds get better too.

Yes. We indeed have stars in us. Don’t forget to see your magic.

Happy Wednesday, Y’all, and lots of love.

AM

planes

I don’t know anyone to whom planes aren’t quite important. It seems we’re all on them all the time these days. When I was a little girl, anytime I heard about someone flying somewhere I thought it was the fanciest thing in the world. Now people go to the airport in their pajamas and dragging pillows as if they’re getting into a flying bedroom. Clearly I have a problem with that lack of decorum, but I’ll examine that another day, in another post. It used to be much more uncommon, this globe trotting we all seem to do. John Henry took his first flight, from NYC to Los Angeles, when he was just five weeks old. He first flew to the UK seven months later. Hell, my dog was constantly on a plane with me, in his little bag down at my feet. He was great at it. Meanwhile, I was fourteen before I flew for the first time. It all blows my mind when I think about it. Here, there, yonder… Pillar to post… No need to debate the merits or demerits of such lives. Not today anyway. It is what it is. And what it is provides us with, if not stability, at least wonder.

I prefer not to think about the danger. I prefer not to think about the odds stacking up every time I or someone I love boards a plane. Today, I’m just thankful for them. I’m thankful for the opportunities they afford us in love, in our other pursuits, in just being there, wherever that is, when we need to be.

H. came in from his tour yesterday for about forty-eight hours. This, a haiku from our very early days:

Thank you Wright Brothers

Marvelous silver wings and

Shiny fuselage

Safe travels and happy Wednesday, Y’all.

AM

recess

Last year this title came to me because I’d forgotten the week before to do my blog post. I wrote about giving myself a break. Today I return to that thought.

Recess. To go back? As in the action of recession, to recede or make an indention in, or the suspension of a procedure. Like moving forward with something, an action or conversation, and then taking a rest from it. Oh well, language is confusing. No matter – I guess we can agree that a recess is an identifiable break. I think of it as a little notch. Yes, that seems to encompass all the possible definitions.

We need breaks. I needed that break a year ago. I have this conversation often — with friends, with H. — about how we need to step away from our devices, television, work, our mates, even our children, so that we can take a deep breath and center ourselves, so that we can hear our true selves talking. Do y’all ever wonder what your true selves are saying that you aren’t tuned in enough to hear? The idea that at least some physical pain is caused by unexpressed emotion comes to me… the tight throat, the knotted up stomach, the literal aching heart… what am I ignoring that desperately wants to come forward and make itself known to my conscious mind when I feel those symptoms?

I remember being a girl, around 12 years old, and having my Daddy come into my bedroom to talk to me. This was NOT a common occurrence, y’all. He and Mama had had one of their falling outs, probably, no, not probably, certainly over his drinking and violence. I don’t remember if we’d packed up and left and then returned home after a few days that particular time or not — we did that a lot so I don’t even know if I recall every time I shoved all of my clothes and shoes into the backseat of the car and we drove off to some friend’s house or to my grandparents’ only to return a day or two later, but I do remember how I felt as he delivered his  lines about how couples that had been together for 20 years didn’t just break up. And I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t understand why they didn’t, because obviously he and my Mama needed to do exactly that and then some. But I couldn’t say it. And every ounce of that unexpressed feeling settled in my throat because I wasn’t safe enough to let the words out. All I could do was cry.

I wonder what might have happened if I, or someone else like a responsible, clear thinking adult might’ve been able to persuade them to recess. How might things have turned out if they had been able to tune in to their true selves and honor them, and recognize their need for some space and perspective on the situation? It’s hard to think about. But I’m getting closer to letting our story out into the world and it’s on my mind a lot. I miss my Mama something fierce these days. I wish she’d had the luxury of a recess from her constant work, her constant worry, her constant battle just to exist. I wish I could’ve seen her at ease, even for just a little while. Selfishly, I wish I had a recess from being motherless sometimes. Just a minute with her would, well, I don’t know what that would do.

What I do know is that what’s missing in my life is now replaced with the desire for awareness of why the bel hevi takes up residence in my gut. What’s missing in my life is also sometimes replaced with the luxury of a minute to escape whatever is in front of me that I can’t bear to show myself to, so I can wrap my own arms around myself in, I don’t know, let’s say a restaurant bathroom when I have to leave the dinner table to keep from ruining a nice evening because I need a minute to shed a tear or two when a song comes through the speakers that conjures her memory so palpably my heart hurts. The other night it was, “Night Shift,” by The Commodores. No, most times we don’t see it coming.

We can’t face it all all the time. Sometimes we need a minute, or more. Overwhelm accomplishes nothing positive — we can only react when cornered even if it’s only by our own emotions. I think about my 12-year-old self in that bedroom, feeling cornered by my Daddy and I want to bust up in there and rescue myself. I want to tell myself that it’s okay to take a minute to locate the feeling that was coming from my true self instead of letting him have control over me. Those tears I cried came from utter helplessness. And I want to tell that same thing to him too. I wonder if someone had comforted him through his own overwhelming emotions, if someone had given him the luxury of a recess, if he might’ve taken a different path.

That got heavy. Sometimes it does. I’m not deleting it, my hour is up.

Peace and love and happy Wednesday, Y’all.

AM

seasons

My memoir is officially available for pre-order today.

That’s one of the craziest sentences I’ve ever written.

It is a beautiful spring day in Nashville, the very first one, in fact. How fitting. The birds are singing, the sky is clear, and the green things are reaching toward it. I am amazed at the complexity of life and how everything sometimes fits together, even for just a minute, like a perfect spring day. The more days that pass, be they spring, summer, winter, or fall ones, the more I know the thing to do is to recognize that.

Even though it may not seem like it’s fitting together through all of our stresses and problems, our joys and our tears, our triumphs and our failures, it IS in ways we can’t comprehend. But we always feel it when we turn the corner on something — we cast our glance backward and see how we were preparing for things to align.

It’s similar to a chord. Like the sweet spot on my Daddy’s Gibson B25 — I like to capo it on the 3rd fret and play a C — the notes combine to make a beautiful and perfect sound that would be different if the notes changed even one bit. I look forward to hearing it, but I also know I can’t play only a C chord capo’d on the 3rd fret. Other chords are usually required to make a song.

We break and we heal. We suffer and we laugh. We move and we shake and we rock and we roll and we persevere. We move forward with any hope, with love in our viewfinders.

When I started writing this book I didn’t know what I was doing. And I certainly didn’t think, if I ever turned it into a real something, that it would take seven years to have a little light shine on it. But what do you know? I did, and it is illuminated. And I see now how everything I ever did prepared me to be able to do that work and tell an important story.

On those cold February days, we think spring will never come. But it does. It does.

Peace and love and happy Wednesday, Y’all.

AM

prime

Sometimes I don’t understand my own brain. Let’s see, a year ago I was obsessing over prime numbers and making myself crazy jumping from one to the next, visualizing them, thinking about their oddness, googling them, wondering if they get lonely or if they consider themselves the unicorns of the number world. Numerical disparate components.

Maybe, maybe not.

I don’t know what I was thinking about before I got on the prime numbers tangent, but I’ve always been someone who jumped quickly from one thing to the next, often skipping essential elements that would or should get me from point A to point K. I don’t know why. It isn’t intellect or that my mind moves at an above average speed. It’s more likely fractiousness, eyes that dart from one place to another (is that fear?), and I guess sometimes anxiety that I will miss something, won’t fit it all in, or don’t have the luxury of time to take things slowly. I’d be a terrible teacher I guess. I’m often not a good explainer.

But I think that’s why I love writing. Writing makes me slow down. Writing makes me show my work. It is effective, sometimes, to say, “John was born in 1927 and died in 1939.” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation and the potential insertion of many different imaginative scenarios. But I think most would agree that a far more compelling story would give you the in between. And as you might’ve noticed, the in between has become a theme for me this year. The spaces between one thing and the next, I’m trying to stretch those out. I like them.

Happiest of Wednesdays to y’all.

AM

PS – Maybe blondes do have more fun.

time

Boy. Was I an anxious sort when I wrote my entry on time last year. I was clearly struggling with the concept of it — or the concept of having too little of it and the guilt surrounding what I do or do not do with it.

I look up to see the backsides of hours departing like high-speed trains leaving a station. Trains that will never be seen again. I want to shout, “Come Back!” at them. I want to tell them I didn’t mean to let them go. I want to tell them I’m sorry I squandered them on emoticons and pressing the delete key over and over, I want to tell them I’m sorry I didn’t fill up each one of them with deeper thoughts or at least some that would help me toward peace. I want to apologize for infusing even one of their minutes with anger or sorrow or tears or frustration. Those minutes do not deserve such treatment.

So serious, Moorer. Folks, I’ve got some good news — I’ve actually loosened up a bit. Maybe it has been the commitment to my meditation practice, the swirling mantra to let go, or just plain old age. But I realize I’m never going to get it all done and I’ve given up thinking that if I just punish myself enough, I will. I’m never going to read every book I want to read, see every great film, go everywhere I’d like to, or perfect even one thing that I care about doing. I’ll never be a perfect mother, partner, friend, writer, singer, artist, cook, homemaker, gardener, or any damn thing. Some days I won’t even be the best version of those things that I can be. But some days I will. I’m a little bit more comfortable with that reality a year on.

Most of us do the best we can. And most of us have an awful lot to carry while we’re doing it. I’ve been working on extending grace to myself, to honor my own feelings instead of always just pushing through, to make room for my own humanity. And I am happier for it. I am nicer, less crazy, and maybe more pleasant to be around. That will probably make me a better mother, partner, friend, writer, singer, artist, cook, homemaker, gardener, and every damn thing. I’m working, and will always work, on letting that be all right.

That pursuit has been and is time well spent.

Happy Wednesday, Y’all.

AM

PS – I think always making time for swinging is a grand idea. Just think – if everyone got in a swing every morning for ten or fifteen minutes, how much happier and healthier would we be? This might be the answer to world peace.

vanguard

I wrote this definition in last year’s entry:

Vanguard: 1. the foremost part of an advancing army or naval force. 2. a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas. 3. a position at the forefront of developments or ideas.

I spent my afternoon and early evening at a sales conference for my publisher. I’m not comfortable with speaking in public, I always prefer to have a song to sing and a character to embody, but today I had to stand up and tell approximately 250 people why they should care enough about my (non-fiction) book to go out and convince retailers to stock it.

Now, that I was there at all is a minor miracle, because there has been a stomach bug of some horrendous variety floating around my apartment for a few days now. On Sunday morning around 2:30, after I’d been out the night before singing a few songs with Wes Stace at his Cabinet of Wonders show, I woke and heard the cough — parents know the one — that preceded the throwing up. I tried to make it in time to get JH to the bathroom so he wouldn’t puke in the bed, but I didn’t. I slept two hours that night, and after I was roused I spent the rest of the wee hours running a warm bath in which to clean him up and soothe his precious soul, stripping the sheets off the bed and making him a new nest in which to lay and recover in, generally worrying, as you do, and wiping his brow with a cool washcloth. He finally cleared whatever horrific demon had invaded him around 10:30 or so the next morning. H. came in that evening for a few days, and spent the entire day yesterday moo-ing like a cow caught in a fence while lying as still as possible because he’d contracted the evil mess and had to deal with the resulting effects. I nursed him through that as best I could while fighting what felt like extreme tiredness and a headache. I got JH to bed around 8:15. H. was feeling better and enjoying a refreshing glass of electrolyte loaded orange-y stuff, and I covered myself up to the chin in bed, hoping that what I was feeling was just side effects of doing too much and the detox (herbs and such and little food) I’d been attempting since Saturday. Wrong. By 10:30 PM I had made my way to the bathroom, dizzy and disoriented, and ended up lying on the cold, tile floor because it was the coolest surface I could find. I was burning up. H. materialized with ice packs from the freezer (I had stuck some in there which I’d saved from some surgical procedure or another) which he handed to me. I placed them on my chest and lay back down on the floor with my head on a towel he’d put down there for me. Then he gave me one final ice pack, one covered with a terry cloth penguin head that I’d gotten for JH at some point for bumps and bruises because he likes Happy Feet so much (it doesn’t get that cold and I think is just for looks and fooling children into feeling better) which he gently placed on my temple. I laughed and thought, “this one doesn’t do anything, but if I’ve ever experienced more tenderness from another human being I’ve forgotten it.” I thought my heart would burst.

I don’t know if it was the penguin ice pack, or that whatever evility just finally completely passed through us all, or if my subconscious knew I had no time to not rally and appear as my very best self at this sales conference today, but I felt fine as I walked into the hotel where I would present a five to seven minute piece of business representing my memoir. I told the story about the stomach bug, the puking, the lying on the bathroom floor, and the penguin ice pack. And I added, “and that is why I’m okay.” I am okay because I have been shown such tenderness by such incredible hearts.

Those incredible hearts have influenced every piece of art I’ve ever made. I’ve made a lot of it in my life, and most of it I’ve released to the world. But I’m not sure there’s ever been a more important piece for me personally than this memoir, which will be released on October 29, 2019. There are a lot of incredible hearts depicted in it, and I’m proud to tell the world that I’ve been so lucky to have had such an breathtaking experience just being on the planet. So for me, today, that’s the vanguard. I, along with the very strong team that was assembled today and a few people that weren’t able to make it, am leading the way for it. It’s called Blood.

Happy Wednesday, Y’all

AM

PS – the photo is from the car ride on the way to the conference.

availability

Last year I was thinking about the extension of myself in a public way when I decided on the word. One year later, I’m zooming in to the personal. There is only so much time during a day, and there is a lot to get done during most of them. I often wonder how to make enough time for my work, for all of the things that need to be done, and make sure I’m taking care of my relationships. Even though I know in my heart and tell myself all about what is most important, I sometimes don’t operate by that truth. Sometimes I’ll not answer the phone if I’m in the middle of something. I don’t think I have time for the impending conversation, the mental space for the introduction of even one more thing to think about, or the distraction from what I’m doing.

I spend a lot of time typing into this machine. And that typing, if it is to be meaningful and coherent much less something anyone else wants to read or hear, requires thought. That thought requires quiet. That quiet requires carved out time in which it can be created. That carved out time has to be protected, or the words don’t get written. Sounds a little selfish, doesn’t it — “Oh, don’t distuuuurrrrrbbbb my genius.” I’m no genius, not even close. But I know I’ll never get close if I don’t keep my butt in the chair, in the quiet, reaching for the thought that can be turned into an idea, into words.

It’s a paradox. It is true that in order to have something to say, one must participate in life. It is also true that one must shut out life in order to process it all and get it back out in an artistic way. Considering all of the struggles to make a life out of the pursuit of creativity, I see that this is my biggest challenge. I don’t lack inspiration, I don’t have a problem coming up with ideas. What I don’t have is enough time with which to explore them all.

Patience…

I know, I know. I am not going to, at the end of my life, regret that I didn’t work more. I will regret not showing up for my friends and family, so I try to keep that in check. But my thought today is about balance and how sometimes there just isn’t any. When I need to stay in the zone, when there is a looming deadline even if it is only self-imposed (those may be the most important ones), I might not be able to answer when the phone rings. Should that produce a state of suffering or can I find compassion for myself and give myself what I need first, knowing that if I don’t and I ignore what my mind is calling me to do, I’ll have to deal with the worn thin attention of a person who tries to do too many things at once and resulting resentment from too many tugs at the sleeve?

From last year’s entry on availability:

But there is a limit. I do extend, but always find myself pulling back, protecting, struggling to find a way to replace what has been spent.

It’s really about saying no. I think about this a lot. And saying no is a deep issue that runs from something as seemingly trivial as the management of time to the very important issue of being able to turn down unwanted or inappropriate attention. Women aren’t supposed to say no. We’re supposed to be A V A I L A B L E to everyone at every moment, putting our own needs aside in order to make someone else feels okay about theirs. It’s often a drag. And is it all because we are the supposed nurturers? An endless amount of questions come up when I think about it. I won’t answer them today, or probably ever, but I do think it’s important to ask them and to check myself when I feel like I can’t say no to something when my gut tells me I should.

Those boundaries I keep talking about…

Happy Wednesday, Y’all.

AM