I watched the movie, “This is 40″ , yesterday and it got me thinking about children.
A lot of people have them, and obviously, there would be nobody to read this post if some people didn’t, but I find it super curious that when a woman chooses to not have children, some people take issue with it.
I guess that’s nothing new in this world – look at anti-abortion laws and pro-life activists (not to the mention the media in general) – they all revolve around the idea that women aren’t people. Aren’t capable of making a decision because obviously – if you have a uterus, you are simply an object – you are at the mercy of your biology, and you have no mind, no thoughts – no life of your own.
Don’t get me wrong – I like kids, and if people want to have kids I think it’s great that they do so, but for me personally – not my thing. For the last two decades I’ve had to put up with people assuming that I’ll have kids, or asking why I don’t, or looking at me like I’m crazy because I don’t want any, and then very patronizingly saying, “oh, you’ll change your mind”. Guess what? I didn’t. And now I’m almost 40, so soon, the option to do so won’t even be there if I wanted it. Maybe then people will stop asking.
I’ve never identified myself by gender first. I’ve always been “Kim” – a person. Not “Kim”, an empty uterus and mind to fill with the status quo. I suppose some people would say this is a feminist rant, and maybe it is. You can call it whatever you want, but I know that if I was a man called, “Kim”, nobody would even ask if I had children, let alone care if I said I didn’t have any, or want any.
I know I’m not alone here – I have plenty of female (& male) friends who are also happy to be childless by choice, and others who are equally happy to be mothers and parents. To each her own.
gigs – cds – mp3s – news – blog
ps choosing the tags for this post confused me (must be those pesky female hormones) so please feel free to suggest more
image from: http://openclipart.org
Here are some more songs I co-wrote with my friend Elana Harte the last few weeks – we make these video demos the same day we write them. You get to see my new haircut (from Alicia Selvi at Caja Studio) in the latest one, too. Alicia, by the way, was the stylist for my cd photos, too – including the banner photo on this site.
Hope you enjoy!
gigs – cds – mp3s – news – blog
Sharing some songs I co-wrote with my friend Elana Harte the last few weeks. Here’s the video demos we took the day we wrote them.
Fall is my favourite time of year. I just love the colour of the leaves, and the sound of them under my feet, and shuffling along the sidewalk. It’s a time of change, and renewal, and letting go.
7 years ago (!) Mike & I began hosting jam nights and songwriter nights in Toronto. It’s been wonderful – meeting new people, hearing their music, and getting to join them in playing it! When I began my music career over 10 years ago, my original plan was to become a songwriter, but over the last decade, life happened, and I evolved into a performing singer/songwriter, as well as a backing musician. I couldn’t be more pleased, and surprised with my life, and my musical experiences. If you had told me back then that I would be drumming with people – and even OWN a set of drums no less – jamming with pro musicians, singing harmony on the spot with songs unheard, and that Mike would be with me the whole time too – I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. Isn’t music wonderful?! Understatement for sure.
Now Fall 2012 is upon us, and I am returning to my roots – in particular my songwriting. Mike & I are gearing up to do a bunch of recording, and some co-writing, and as a result, we are streamlining ourselves in terms of our music activities. After 7 amazing years, we are hanging up our jam hats to re-focus, re-charge, and re-cord. Exciting! Will we host jams again? Who knows? If I’ve learned one thing in my life it’s never say never, and clearly, it’s been proven over and over that’s the case, so I can’t say, but – I can say this:
THANK YOU!!! To everyone who has come out to share their songs or jam with us, or just listen over the years. From The Hooch, to Gypsy-Co-op, to Liberty Bistro, to Slack’s, to Liberty Bistro again, and to Spirits – it’s been a great ride! If I could go back – I wouldn’t change a thing. How fitting that it’s Thanksgiving Weekend, too (in Canada, for those who are confused) – perfect timing! I would love to make a list of all your names, but it would be so terribly long and I’m afraid I would accidentally overlook someone, but know that I remember you – even if I only met you once – and know that I am thankful you were there. I would love it if you took the time to comment on this post for posterity.
Once again – heartfelt thanks to you all from myself, & Mike. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Cheers, and keep on (soft) rockin’,
Kim (& Mike)
gigs – cds – mp3s – news – blog
I love organizing. I get a real kick out of getting rid of things.
I have a two bedroom apartment with my partner and we both work from home often, too. It can be challenging to find space for everything, but we’re good at it. We have only what we need – well, ok… there’s some stuff we definitely don’t but that’s what this post is about. Getting rid of the old.
Some people have storage units in addition to their apartment closets. We do not. I suppose we could – an area does exist in the basement – but we don’t need it. We also don’t have things stored with others at their places. This is good.
We have a lot of closet space in our place which is excellent. All of our clothes fit in the bedroom. Most of our music equipment rolls into a closet. We have a kitchen closet for brooms and back-up appliances. Wait… There’s an area we could look at in terms of getting rid of things. Back-up appliances? Really? Ok, *one* of them is really important – a coffee maker. We’ve had to employ it many times so that I’m partial to keeping. It does fit in the closet after-all so it’s not like it’s in the way.
My main problem is paperwork. Every year I shred a year of it, but it still manages to get unwieldy at times. I just went through an “Archive” file and got rid of some stuff from there. If it’s really archive worthy, I have a leather portfolio for that. Things like posters or press items or things around my music career that I want to keep for posterity. At the moment, my filing cabinet is full which means that if I want to keep more paperwork, I have to go through and cull what’s in there. This isn’t too big of deal since at the moment, everything is filed. After next years tax filing, more room will be made when I shred the oldest year’s stuff. You’re supposed to keep 7 years, but I keep 8 to be safe. So, right now, I have paperwork from 2004 on. And a giant pile of previous to shred. I always shred if there’s personal information on it. I have a tiny shredder so I have to do it little by little. I should buy a new one so it can be done faster and not pile up on me, but I haven’t. When I have an office job sometime I take some of it there to put in the shredding bins. That’s handy!
The other issue is clothes. Too many that I don’t fit into anymore, and that even if I did – wouldn’t wear them. Got rid of 12 items like that yesterday. Felt great! My closet is less squishy and now maybe I’ll wear more of what I have. I have a rule that I can’t buy clothes unless I’m replacing an item. I’m also reducing the number of types of items I need. Like shoes. I only need a few kinds and I have them so I’m good. I just replace as they wear out. This way I’m not bored of them, either. I wear the same things mostly anyway so I don’t really need the selection I think I do. Mike’s closet is presently over-flowing with clothes but I try not to let it bother me. At least they’re in the closet, and not on the floor!
My main way to organize other items is baskets. I love baskets! If stuff’s in a basket, it’s easier to find, and it doesn’t end up on the floor or the table or whatnot. We have lots of baskets, and enough for our things, but sometimes, when we get rid of something, we end up with an empty basket. I put them to use inside drawers or closets. It’s easier if you have to move, or just want to move the items to a new location. I really try to not buy more baskets but I did buy a bunch at the dollar store last year to contain some items that ended up all over the living room otherwise. We really do have enough of them now though, so I only buy them if they need to be replaced from cracking. I still have closet organizers and baskets from when I was 13! My parents re-decorated my room as a grade 8 graduation present. I had them go to a closet organizing store and buy those wire drawer units… Looking back now that’s pretty hilarious. What kind of kid wants that kind of present? Nerd much? hmm. Point is – still using ‘em and they’re holding up just fine. When they finally fall apart, I get an excuse to go to IKEA to replace them!
Speaking of baskets – I had culled my cd collection a few years ago, moving ones that I didn’t really listen to, to some – yup, baskets! – under the couch. Last week, I went through them. I’m keeping one basket only – they are cds I want for reference that I don’t listen to often but might need. Since they’re in a basket under the couch, they’re not in the way. The other 38 are going to Goodwill. A bonus from that was more room under the couch for the extra bedding for it, plus – I freed up a basket for Mike! He has computer stuff everywhere in the second bedroom. He is culling it – using it, selling it, or recycling it. Baskets are useful for sorting. He moves slower than me with this stuff though. We want that room to be only the recording studio/guest bedroom. So far it can’t be used as either since it’s full of computer junk. But – we do use the room to store our giant cart full of music equipment – drum kit, amps etc. It rolls right into the closet! The previous tenant had removed the closet doors. Since it’s a small room, it makes it bigger, and it means you could put a bed or a couch right in there if you wanted to. For us, since we don’t need it for clothes, we just roll our cart right in there and it’s out of the way! Awesome.
My goal is to only have things in my life that I actually use. This way, I figure I could live out of a suitcase if required, or be able to downsize to a really really small space. I think these things, but I am really partial to the space I have now, so the goal is really just to have more of it. Space. Peace.
I limit myself to two boxes for memento type objects like cards, ticket stubs, and whatnot from people. Every year or so I go through the boxes and throw out or recycle the things that no longer have any meaning. If I like the thing enough, like a postcard or a particularly nice looking card that’s more like art, or that is in fact, art – I put it in a frame and move it to an everyday area so I can enjoy it.
It feels good.
A side benefit of getting rid of old physical objects, is the getting rid of the emotional weight they carry with them, too. The mind feels much lighter when it’s not weighed down by stuff. I feel like I have more free time, plus I absolutely love my place. It’s peaceful, functional and organized! It’s home.
So as I throw out my old version of self, along with old items attached to it, I can begin anew with a fresh and clean slate. An optimistic and uncluttered outlook on the future, and therefore on now. I can live in the moment here at my kitchen desk, by the window, surrounded by things I love – my plants, artwork, things on shelves and not piles on the floor or elsewhere.
Another benefit of less stuff is it’s easier to keep everything clean! Which means my home is always “clean enough” for company, and can be made almost spotless in under 30 minutes. Not that people drop by unannounced – that’s not my thing, but – they *could*, and I hope they would feel just as peaceful and wonderful as I do in my home.
Got any nifty organizing tips? Please share!
gigs – cds – mp3s – news – blog
If you’re an artist of any kind, you know how much of a struggle it can be at times. Financially and emotionally it can be draining.
I’ve been a self-employed musician now for over a decade and I’ve learned a thing or two the hard way. Sometimes despite the best of intentions and advice, you can feel lost and confused at best in moments of anguish.
This post is an attempt to break down some things that seem complicated, into some semblance of balance. A problem/solution, cause/reaction type of reasoning. It’s really a reminder for myself, but here’s hoping it’s useful to you, too.
Common Struggle 1:
A plan based on hope/ego/other people’s vision/things outside of your control
Everyone falls victim to this to some degree, on and off throughout their lives. Not just your artist life, either. The key lies in not living in the future. Yes, plans are good, but they need to be manageable and flexible and more importantly – yours.
Be your own leader AND manager
You know that leadership, and management are two different things, right? Some of us are better at one than the other but if you’re an artist – you have to be good at both. Avoid time and energy doing the wrong tasks by establishing what YOU want first. This is critical. If you want to be a hit songwriter, you’ll have a different management process to get there than someone who wants to be a live rock drummer. Maybe you even want to be both. The point is to know that – and to know that BEFORE. In a lot of ways, this is the hardest part of any plan. I’m continually surprised by what I think I want vs what I discover I want after starting something, or actually getting it. This is why you need to be aware and flexible enough to modify your management processes and projects as required to align with your goals. If you’re looking for a great book that encompasses both of these areas – pick-up Ariel Hyatt’s, Music Success in Nine Weeks (you can read my blogs about it here, too). The first chapter is all about setting goals – the leadership side. And the rest is your management process. Along with this comes trusting your own instincts. This can often be in conflict with listening to others’ advice but if you know what you’re trying to achieve – trust yourself first. You can do that without being disrespectful to someone else. The other plus with taking ownership of “your baby” is there’s nobody to blame if the results aren’t what you wanted (hint – they hardly ever are, but often there is something unexpected and better that arises).
For me, I entered the independent recording artist world at the end of 2002 when the smaller labels were just starting to get swallowed up by the big players, the industry was in turmoil about downloading, and iTunes and the like weren’t major players yet. It was a giant void. For me, that didn’t matter. I only had one plan – to write and record a cd of my own songs. That was it. I wasn’t sure if it would be any good, or if people would buy it. I wasn’t making it for them. I was making it for me. I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue the business as a performer, or songwriter, or at all. I had only performed in public a few times, and found it very nerve-wracking every time – I wasn’t sure I was physically or emotionally up to the task. I decided to take everything one baby step at a time to avoid freaking myself out about “the future”. My biggest problem was that the people around me – my producer, my band – they had a vision and a plan for me based on the old business model of record, release to radio, tour, repeat. I had a hunch that things wouldn’t go that smoothly, so I just kept progressing at my own pace and comfort level. It is after all “my baby”.
Common Struggle 2:
Over-estimating your abilities and experience
This one is huge. A lot of people are unprepared at best for many projects they undertake – not just artistic ones. They lack the skills and experience, but worse – they lack the awareness of even knowing that. They outright refuse to take the advice of people who know more, and often disregard someone’s experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by professionals throughout my career and my life in general with many years of experience and I listen to them. Even if I don’t agree, or follow their advice – I know enough to know they know more than me, and have good reasons for sharing the information. It’s really a “respect your elders” kind of thing and I know some of you will object to what I’m about to say but – I’ve seen an increase in this particular problem over the years in people. Maybe I’m just getting older, but if one more hipster freak with no experience tries to tell me something about what I’ve been doing weekly for a decade (or longer), or more importantly what they’ve *not* been doing or never done – I just might put my fist through their bowler hat. It takes years, if not lifetimes, to become good at something. Reading one book and a few blogs – if you even did that – and calling yourself an “expert” after a week is bullshit. But seriously, the bigger problem that is created here is that you “fail”, because you compare yourself to others and end up “competing” in a game you don’t even know how to play yet.
Keep learning and don’t be a jerk!
Do I need to expand on why? I don’t think so. You get it. Small steps will get you where you’re going. Be patient and persistent. Be kind to others. You’re playing your own game anyway if you’ve set your goals – so it’s all good.
Common Struggle 3:
Quitting when the going gets tough
And here’s where even the most talented and experienced artists can fall apart. Even the ones that do respect their elders and have carefully planned and orchestrated every detail of their projects – a cd release, a radio promotion plan, whatever – often fall victim to inactivity and negativity. This is one that I struggle with all too often. In my early years, I was emotionally over-whelmed by almost everything (Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the medical term, although it took making my first cd to become aware of it), and my natural response was to sort of fold-up/curl-up/avoid any proactive activity. And of course, off and on (often more on than off) financial issues can be overwhelming when steady gigs fall apart with no notice (no two weeks termination, no severance pay) along with your teeth, your shoes, your guitar… It usually happens all at once, and if you’ve been actually working as an artist, you normally find yourself in quite a pickle. I love pickles incidentally, but not that kind. If you are not resilient enough to take the lows, (or take a “regular” job as required) this is when major depression kicks in on top of it all. Enter fetal position and negative comments like “if only…” and “people just don’t like music/art/whatever anymore”, or “so and so should have a/b/c or d”, or “I should never have…”, etc. DON’T DO THIS! It’s a sure-fire way to kill your career, along with your mental health. I’m telling you this as your more experienced elder.
Stay positive and enjoy the journey
Avoid all negative self-talk. Practice saying nice things to yourself and others if you’re not good at it. Mind your mind – it’s consumed with itself. It’s insecure and easily distracted. It wants you to pay attention to it so it finds ways – often negative – to do so. I’m getting better at watching myself, as it were. Sometimes I outright laugh at some things I catch myself thinking! But, without delving too much into the spiritual, the point is The Universe/God/Gods/Whatever you believe is built on polarity. There is always balance, and there is always a reaction to every action. You reap what you sow. That’s not religion – it’s physics. So what’s the point of staying within it and getting all caught up in dark bits. Be here now. ENJOY your work. This should be easy, because you’re following YOUR goals for YOUR life. If you’re not enjoying it – revisit what you really want. You’re missing something.
Now obviously, there are going to be times – and many of them – where you slip and find yourself out of balance. I’m learning to really enjoy these times – they help define and crystallize my dreams and thoughts into actions – clear and specific things that are within my control. Then I find myself getting back on track, and things once again fall back into place. And so it goes.
A side benefit to enjoying your life and the things and people in it is that you do experience less struggle. Even if it’s because you no longer identify the “problems” as problems. You’re too busy living your life to get weighed down. You see the other side – the opportunity – more easily.
And there you have it. Easier blogged than done? Maybe. But trying in itself, over and over, does make it easier.
I’m sure some of you have noticed the same in your lives. What do you think?
Please share in the comments below, or direct me to your blog. I’d love to read your thoughts!
gigs – cds – mp3s – news – blog
notes: I would like to acknowledge Stephen Covey’s – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for reminding me of leadership vs management and inspiring this post
This post is a mostly visual entry of some sketches of mine. I rarely entertain my visual artist self, but lately, it’s been reminding me of it’s existence.
This first sketch is of Mike Costantino: my partner, producer, bassist, personal chef, among other things. It’s from 2002… His hair is a lot longer now but he still plays that Amazing bass. That is it’s name – not *just* the way he plays it.
The second is of a statue – most likely based on a person at some point, but I don’t know who that was so I can’t elaborate. Sorry! It says 2001. Most likely just a few months before the one of Mike. I “art” in spurts. Much like my songwriting. I like to have a few things on the go at once – it helps give all of them more momentum and then it’s more like a “project”. If things are too one-at-a-time-y, they are easier to put off, or never complete. At least, for me I find that. For instance, I currently have 12 or so songs on the go, 8 of which I would call more or less complete. The others are in various stages of complete, or almost complete. Or, I’ve decided they’re worthless and I’m ignoring them. For now at least. Sometimes I uncover things I dismissed in the past, and discover I like them just fine. But generally, my process is this: I sit down with my book, pen in hand (I write lyrics and notes about structure in a notebook by hand with a pen – no typing until they’re mastered and ready-to-release) and there they all are. I can rearrange pieces of them, I can see them all – I can consolidate. When I get stuck on one, I have 4 or 5 others I can go to so I don’t waste (as much) time. It’s also better for seeing how one-sided I can be at times… easier to notice when I’m essentially writing the same song with similar chord progressions and/or themes, just in a different key, or in some sort of reverse pattern. That can get depressing! To see how very little “new” ideas one *really* has. Sigh. But – on the other hand, these themes must be important, or something must still be unlearned, if there it is – poking itself into all my creations… right?
How do you create? Are you old-school with pen & paper like me? Do you wait for inspiration, or work on things consistently? Let me know in the comments!
gigs – cds – mp3s – news – blog