Sex in the City and Me

6 seasons of Sex in the City and a hand full of job applications later . . .

It’s October and I’m in between the in between career change. Six months late to be exact. It’s taken me some time to understand that a full-time job with benefits does not define me. Neither should a part-time or independent work do the same. But somehow, it still affects my emotions.

I feel undervalued to my counterparts with happy homes and babies. But before throwing in the towel and giving up on building an empire, I’m pushing some last-minute strings to make it happen. Watching Sex in the City surprisingly enough has reminded me of my independent personality and drive to do my own thing as I see fit.

Yeah it’s a fake show. But there’s some truth to it.

Like the pressure as a woman to be a certain way just because she is X amount old. Or being in a relationship that then leads to the question where’s the ring? And how long have you been together? Only to disappoint them with the short not yet response so that they move on to another more hopefully important topic.  

Aside from that, I’ve come to the acceptance that some dreams require more effort than others. The rest of this year will be dedicated to rebooting my physical health, re-centering my inner being and rejuvenating my partner to his fullest potential.

Because in the end, we are the only constants in our life daily. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Writing new songs.

Building more clients for T.I.

A blueprint for MMA.

Some REAL contact with humans (enough of this closed American lifestyle).

And a whole lot of berry shots and coffee cups in the Morning.

That’s what the Sex in the City gal in me wants to feel proud to be.

M.

The Music Industry

Why did it take me 10 years to dive into music?

I was part of the music “scene” at around 14 years old and found a lot of reasons why I thought I couldn’t be a part of it. To start, I hated performing in front of people. I always felt no one truly paid attention and my family wasn’t necessarily enthusiastic about my commitment to it. But aside from personal dilemmas and self-doubt, I also learned a great deal about how hard it is to make a living out of it. If you wanted to “make it” as an artist, I knew the only way to ever make REAL money was if you already had it to begin with. It’s a major investment. And it’s a risk. Because even then, if you are not the image people are attracted to or can connect with, that investment also can potentially go to waste.

Not only that, women in the industry are scarce. In the backend at least. The few I met when I first started had to be highly “sexual” in order to get some attention by others in the industry. I’d meet musicians and spark up conversations hoping to lead to “jamming out” or networking opportunities. Sadly, it would go south each time (no dirty pun intended). I started feeling like the only thing I could offer was a good time. Looks matter. Instead of understanding the works of it and finding other ways to network, I took it to mean I was not meant for it and was not a “worthy” musician.

2011 – Salamanca, Spain

I would also hear talk about how going to school was a waste of time. As a performer, you don’t need to be able to read music to be great at it. There was always this talk about natural talent vs. skill and ability to play. I let the backlash against education get to me and eventually gave that up as well. Which now seems ridiculous because being a first chair violinist and singing in choir was probably the most peaceful times I had growing up.

Looking back on the why’s are important. I started playing again to feel peace. I didn’t even know I was lost without it until I wrote “Mirror Thoughts” on a grey blissful night. When I stopped singing the chorus melody, I couldn’t remember why I had given up music to begin with.

You can never deny who you really are no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you make choices to please others. To fit an image, you think is right. None of that is real. What’s real is what you feel when you are doing something that allows you to be fully you. 
1999/2000 – could I have put the violin away for this picture at least? Guess not.

As an avid reader, I found the abundance of work there is in music that doesn’t require these linear paths that society paints it out to be. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who started in their teens, had a huge gap away from it, and is attempting a return in her almost 30s. You may be an already successful artist who can teach me a thing or two about what I’m getting myself back into. Which I encourage so please feel free to reach out!

With that said, here’s some tips and tricks for aspiring musicians that I know of, depending on what interests you the most.

For those who want to make it BIG (warning: I’m about to sound really snobby so skip ahead if you don’t want to see this side of me)

Fame is easily attained now that theirs YouTubers and IG influencers in the world etc. Just throw some cash into it, be consistent, have a target audience, include ads, have useful content and bam! You have yourself a good amount of online presence to say, “I’m famous!”.

Making it BIG however is another Beast. Especially in music. So, here’s the secret. The only way you can make it BIG is . . .

  • Know someone that can get you a major Record Deal

OR

  • Pay your own way into creating a Brand and Live Shows

**Notice how both require $$$$$?

Knowing the right people can get you the right deals but you also need to be aware of scammers and the potential of being taken advantage of. Always READ what you’re signing. Always understand who you are talking to and their agenda. If the right people come along and believe in you as an artist, you can find great opportunities in your career.

NAMM 2018 – non-profit music learning

Don’t trust record labels? Do it yourself.

Just so you know, big names aren’t as rich as you think they are. And they don’t get their somewhat funds from their music. The real money comes from live shows and the brand they sell. The bigger the shows you sell out, the better. In terms of brand, you’d have to come up with a unique USEFUL product you can sell to grow. I’ve heard talk about how YOU are your own brand. Sorry to tell you that’s BS. A new artist can’t be its own brand with 0 fans to begin with. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to look up three of your favorite famous artists on Google. Go to their official website. What’s most dominant? Their music or their MERCH and TOUR dates . . .

I hate talking like a business prick but it’s in hopes to help you see what it’s like and what it takes to get through it. I believe it’s very much possible. If you put in the work, you will eventually get where you want to be. I mean just ask Ed Sheeran. He can tell you . . .

For those who want to make a living out of it

Go to school! Take private lessons, invest in education. As part of Mark Daniels non-profit, time and time again, I ask them, “What’s your major?” 9/10 times its NOT music. Why?

Same concerns I had above. The starving musician myth. When in fact there’s so much work to be found in the industry. Here’s just some I can think of. Be a music teacher, professor, counselor, instructor, therapist, non-profit educator, solo performer, group performer, theater, songwriter, composition, film, TV, Netflix, audio engineer, producer, technician, publisher, manager, social media, promoter, cataloging libraries, music supervisor, music editor, mixer, voice overs, mastering, recording, music director, music coordinator, licensing . . . . and on and on! And they all pay livable wages.

Just because I love Gwen.

A much longer blog than I was hoping for, but I hope this helps artists see the industry much clearer. At the end of it, here’s what matters.

Play because you love it. Sing because you’re passionate. Practice every day because you enjoy it. That self-expression and emotional balance should begin at a young age. Music is a great way to channel invisible darkness and light. I think it’s essential for solving some of the problems we face today in the world, but that topic will be for another day…

Be happy for the ability to be  personal with the world around you through sound. That alone will take you to a wonderful state of being and the “following” will take notice and come to you.

M.

Unanswered questions answered – What’s NEXT?

These last six months have flashed right before my eyes in what felt like micro-seconds. What’s next?

I’ve been asked a lot of different questions after quitting my full-time job as an administrator of claims. Why did you quit? Do you have another job lined up? What do you do if not work? What are you planning to do? What are you going to do about money? Is your boyfriend okay with it?

They were like sharp miniature knives going through my lungs and up to my heart. I can’t even remember what my responses were.

Well, here they are now, six months later and with intent.

I quit because I was sad. I also quit because I could. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I hit a tipping point in my life where chasing money just didn’t make sense anymore. I had so much unresolved baggage that crumbled me to the point of wanting non-existence. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t fake it anymore. I withdrew silently, and no one noticed. A perfect scenario for self-implosion.  

No, I didn’t have another job lined up. I didn’t find it productive to go backwards and be miserable somewhere else.

What did I do the last six months? Where do I start! I cried and stayed in bed for days immediately after I quit. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was disappointing my family and my boyfriend. I couldn’t breath most days and for the most part, I was lost and trying to convince myself I did the right thing.

I went to Iceland alone. Hiding in my apartment wasn’t enough for someone trying to run away from her problems. I wanted to disappear without doing the deed. I rented a car and drove through the narrow roads of the 1 highway all through the south where the greenest mountains I have ever seen in my life live. I wrote. I meditated. I drank the purest water and I found my heart beat.

Highway 1, South Iceland

I continued to write songs and practiced most days as soon as I got back. I had sessions with my producer and went into the studio to continue recording. I learned that as much as I practice, my nerves take the best of me. My confidence determines my performance and I learned it’s what I need to sing well. I learned everything there is to know about the music business. From what it takes to make a record, to marketing, PR, sales and networking. I even learned about the legal affairs that go into music and finances. I can say with confidence that I am a “how music works” encyclopedia at this point.

My producer and I finishing up a session @ Big Bad Sound LA Studio

I worked on my very own music video. Finally shot some of the scenes over the weekend and although stumbling to get there, it was a beautiful experience. I learned about filming, videography, crew, production, directing and just about everything else needed for a well-rounded shoot.

I worked on my website. I wrote blogs just like this one and every time I “work on it”, I learn something new.

I started working towards interpreting and translating again. After being terrified and giving up, I went back to it. I studied on and off for the certification which I plan to take this year. I took paid and unpaid interpreting assignments and I realized I’m more than capable of doing it.

I trained in MMA. Maybe not as much as I wish I did. But 3-4 times a week for 2-3 hours each day was the pattern. Cardio, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Boxing, Brazilian Ju Jitsu. All of it (except no gi, maybe this year?).

Shoot with Coach Mike @ Millennia MMA Gym

I spent time with my mom and nephew. Most Wednesdays, I would help babysit and saw this little tiny human grow into this beautiful six-month-old baby whose teething and pooping by the minute.

JJ <3

I helped finish Mark’s website. Check it out! mdfmusic.org. I learned about fundraising opportunities and growth.

I planned to be happy again and feel stronger. Sometimes it feels like I did. Other days you can’t really tell. Looking back, I’m so much better than what I was then. I can talk to people and be genuine again. I finish what I start and physically I feel like a billion dollars.

Money! A terror turned into a tool. I had a savings that I decided to use for this time off and I’m so happy I took the risk and did it. I invested in myself and what I love. Every penny was worth it. I work smart and my boyfriend and I made sure we stayed above water with flying colors.

And my boyfriend? Was he okay with it? He was more than okay with it. My lifeline and the most supportive human being on this planet. He’s one of the kindest most generous people you can meet. Anyone who doesn’t see it is blind with their own image. He supports everything I do and believes I’ll have a remarkable success story no matter what path I choose. He is love.

LOVE

And finally, what’s next? Savings run out. Bills need to be paid. My multiple “businesses” are start-ups and my deadline has arrived.

A few job opportunities await. Most importantly, my EP “No Longer Invisible” is COMPLETE. It’s the strangest most wonderful feeling. I have never felt this accomplished in my entire life! I can now work towards distribution and marketing. In the meantime, I will be a temp as an administrator once more. My heart did sink deep when I made this decision. But it’s funny how the universe works when you speak to it. This is how this happened.

I was having a conversation with my boyfriend about my deadline and financial options. I told him that the only way I would ever return to the claim’s world was if they paid me way more money than I was originally making and if it was from home or temporary. Six months tops. That’s it. That would be the ONLY scenario. He laughed with certainty like if he knew it could happen and he said okay.

It wasn’t more than two days later when some recruiter reached out to me and guess what. Offers me more money for a six-month contract. Dumb-founded I now struggle my way into that position because I said I would, and the universe has spoken.

My boyfriend put it in the best words possible. “God is giving you a second chance to make your dreams come true”.

We are letting it be and listening to our hearts. I love that. Because doing this automatically grants us success in anything we do. Even in what looks like “failures”.

With more money comes more investment opportunity. As a fan of Suze Orman and her work, I have learned so much about managing money correctly such as staying out of poor home debt or how to invest in your dream job. I honestly recommend her story to all the women out there who wish to be independent and financially strong. She has multiple books with great incite on financial stability.

Aside from that, I hope this also encourages you to take the time to silence your thoughts and listen to your voice. It has helped me copiously on finding my passion once more and I have no doubt in my mind it can do the same for you.

M.

In Chad Smith’s words: “She has an old soul. I can tell from her eyes.”

After an incredible jazz fusion set, the group made its way to the bar area where I was downing Corona’s by the hour. By then, I had met a few of the regulars in prior shows and talked to Chad several times about how awesome I felt he was. This distinctive night was life-altering. I was always confident in what I was doing from a very young age. Truly it was just a mask of deception. But back then? Nah, I knew it all.

Chad knew though. He knew before I knew what I was living. Some new guys showed up and I was surrounded by regulars and irregulars. I observed they’re behavior and knew it was time for me to go. While I waited for my tab, they mumbled some garbage I could not make out. Chad turned and said, “Her? No. Back off. She’s cool, she’s not like that. She has an old soul. I can tell from her eyes.”  I locked eyes intently with him and yelled, “what happened!?” he continued, “You know that right? You have an old soul. Hey listen. I’m outta here but watch out for these guys right here.” He gave me a hug and took off.

This was not the first time he stuck out his neck to make sure I was okay. But it was the first time he mentioned the soul thing. What does that even mean?

 Looking back now, it’s obvious my blind confidence had me in the most dangerous situations for an under-age teenager roaming around alone as if she owned the streets. I didn’t. And Chad knew me well enough to not mistake me for the parade of groupies that followed them around all the time.

The Baked Potato has been a hideout of mine for over a decade and for good reason. They have incredible jazz music, delicious fatty food and the most intimate setting you can think of creating long lasting memories and a vibrant ambience.

The Baked Potato – Studio City, CA

One of my good friends, Mark Daniel introduced me to this place knowing how fanatic I was about the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It became a sanctuary of mine when Mark passed away and little did I know it was going to become a safe zone for artistic motivation.

 And that statement? “You have an old soul”. God! That stuck with me for so long and I couldn’t understand why he thought that of me. Until now.

My reality today: I am symptomatic of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and most recently discovered, adult-child syndrome. The last two years have been dedicated to puzzling this together. As to why I am the way that I am. I went from being this friendly lone wolf rebellious know-it-all to having withdrawals, trust issues, lack of self-worth, numbness, and overall feelings of being judged all the time (plus more). It all snuck its way into my life as I got older and had no idea that I wasn’t this confident awesome cool kid. No. That old soul that Chad saw was the result of skipping my childhood and going straight to adulting by the tender age of 8.

So, if in fact, that is the case, and I have an old soul, I’m not about to call it quits and victimize myself to the public. This isn’t why I decided to share this story. It’s also not the reason why I’ve decided to share tidbits of my personal life through song and writing. I understand these topics can be taboo. I understand what privacy means to people and why many stay quiet and deal with problems on their own. I truly admire people fighting the silent battle. I also praise everyone who can talk about it with friends and family for support and communication. That has been one of the hardest things for me. To talk about it.  For this old soul of mine, when I listen to it, it tells me to write about it instead. It tells me to sing about it. It tells me I can help one person or many if I allow it. It tells me my story can in fact potentially make another soul NOT feel alone.

Chad Smith @ the Baked Potato 

So, thank you Chad Smith. Not just for being a look out when I needed it. But, for helping me find my voice and realizing that this old soul is worth being heard.

M.