Blog Post 101

Welcome to my blog’s new look. About time after 100 posts. For now we will laugh at the spacing of my name on the header: Stephani EC. I guess for now Stephanie Easy? I have spent the weekend updating. I am now on the business plan so have access to all the bells and whistles, some I will not need until much later. Eventually I will host Zoom rooms, webinars, online courses, and songwriter events. I will also sell merchandise – my own and my friends’. I am Muscle Shoals! How could I not? My cowriters have music merch you won’t find just anywhere.

I am like the Little Red Hen. I tend to do everything myself – such as developing this blog. I am spending hours knowing someone else could do it quicker, I like being in control too much to hire someone. I have long range plans for this blog. It is the platform for me to reach out, to share with more people. There are a lot of conversations going on in our world, and I want to be a part of some of the conversations. I can see me in ten years still developing this blog. I want to do online what I do in person – which is connect and interact with people. I am enthused thinking of how many connections can be made on this blog. They will be as authentic and honest as we make them. I love making connections for myself and others. Embraces and smiles are basic human needs. Those I can not provide online, but I can connect with you as you can with me and others. The older I get the more I realize how much I have to share. You will find a lot of it here. Browse the blog. You will find 100 more posts, songs, videos, photos, art, and so much more.. Read and listen – get to know me. Link https://stephaniecbrown.com on your social media. If you find something here you like, share on social media or invite others in some way. Help me make Stephaniecbrown.com a great place to be. Interact with me.

That’s all for tonight. Hopefully I will get back on schedule with Wednesday and Saturday posts. In the meantime, I will continue tweaking. How do you like what you see. I do not yet. Give me some feedback.

An Email Never Sent

This started as an email to a trusted friend.

Writing email to you is almost like writing in a journal.  Somehow through the years, you are a friend I share with…a friend I process my life with.  Hopefully when you are seventy-five, you will think of me at this stage of my life.  I have been back in music almost a decade, and now I am transitioning again.  I am not sure what is next.  That is the part I want you to remember.  I know you will because you have moved from one  phase of your life to another.  After total focus on songwriting, fostering a songwriter’s circle, pulling together studio demos, hosting songwriter showcases – something is next.  Everything I have done for the last decade has been as a songwriter and an advocate for other songwriters.  I am a mentor of young songwriters and of songwriters who have had no doors open. I am a role model for older but not as old as i songwriters.  I have followed my passion, the voice inside.  I remember you telling me about your father telling you to always listen to the little man inside.  I have listened to the woman inside.  I am still listening, second guessing but listening.  I am leaving what is comfortable, the role I have filled, the one that gives me so much satisfaction for one that I may never achieve the same.

Why? Why am I venturing outside my comfort zone?  Because I must.  I did not ask for any of the transitions I have been through. Why leave a teaching job I loved to go to Nashville?  Because I had to.  That makes so little sense.  When people ask, I can not explain.  Why leave Nashville to come back home?  I have more reasons that others will understand for that, but the real reason is it was time.  I know you understand that – that voice you can not silence. I leave knowing I will never know.  What if I am leaving what I are good at for something I will never be good at? So here I am, ready to make a left turn.  I could coast as a songwriter, a mentor, and a catalyst for others, but here I go into the unknown  I want to write books instead of songs.  I want to do be a catalyst and mentor online. I want a wider audience.  This blog is the corner stone. There – I have said it.  I believe I have something to share, stories that will inspire, hard-earned wisdom that only comes with age.

Why can I not do everything thing I want to do and still do everything I have done and am doing?  Focus.  Almost obsession.  When I was a teacher, I was wholeheartedly a teacher.  When I became a songwriter, I wholeheartedly became  a songwriter.  I  lost other aspects of my life.  No matter what path I have walked, I have walked with focus. 

I guess this started as an email to you and became my manifesto.  I want an online presence.  I have dabbled enough to know what I will have to do to achieve this goal.  Being an online presence has to be my goal.  Everything else has to funnel into that.  Some of what I do now will help me become.  I am not walking away from anything, but I will be spending less time and energy on some of what I do now. When I felt this transition, I worried.  What about my Zen life?  My flowers?  My birds? The introspective me?  Now I know my devotion to those will not change.  If anything, those will continue to enrich my life.  My family?  I am secure.  I will love them, and they will know my love.  My Zen life and my family.  They are bedrock.

Something in me longs for a public life. A platform.  A way to share my gifts.  What better way than an online presence?  There is no magic wand to wave to accomplish that goal.  I have hours of focused work ahead of me.  Anyone can build  a blog, but building a blog with thousands of international followers takes focus and determination.  It can be done but not by dreaming.  It will take hours of focus and work.  Why  am I willing? Because I must – just as I had to become a songwriter and a publisher.  Those took years of focus and hours of work. I did not choose them; they chose me. In some ways, I envy the people out there who do not understand this.

Thank you for being my sounding board, the person I trust enough to discover myself with. I give myself permission to be and to become although it is scary. What if I am turning left when so much is waiting on the well-worn straight path?  Will I forever never quite reach my goals?  I trust that the results of  years I have lived, the paths I have followed will be what  they are and no longer my concern.  I am not sure what is ahead now that I am turning left, but I know I must make the turn. If you are a Doctor Who fan you understand.

Why I am seventy-five and still not settled into a traditional well-worn path, I will never know. Thank you for being part of my journey.

My blog readers, your comments and likes will be so welcomed. I need you. I am still floundering. I am still wishing I could be less introspective. By reading, by sharing, you can help me on my journey.

I also updated Song Page

What to Leave In, Leave Out, or Add

Soon I will not have to live via Zoom only. I have the same mixture of excitement and apprehension I always had at the beginning of a university semester. New options. A chance to restructure my time. Two weeks from Monday I will be two weeks past my second vaccination shot. I will be out and about – still masked – as safe as can be. What an odd thought. Since mid-March, I have been home alone and have not gone anywhere, not even to the grocery store. I have relied on InstaCart and Door Dash. Before the pandemic, my calendar was full. I overbooked. Since then my Zoom calendar has been full. I have structured my days around Zoom meet-ups, songwriting sessions, webinars and courses. I traded in person commitments for online ones.

I do not want my pre-pandemic schedule back.. Anyone with me on this? Before the pandemic almost everything on my calendar was in some way connected to music although I said I wanted to be more involved in other things. I had few days at home.. Since I have had all days at home with fewer options, I have devoted as many if not more hours to music. Just to be sure I had enough to do, I enrolled in blog building and book writing courses and webinars. Songwriting, blog building, and book writing became my focuses. Three major focuses are too many. I was already questioning if each is worth being a major focus. Am I taking for granted and not focusing on something equally or more important? How many unrelated yet wonderful things am I missing because I am so focused on these three things. Now that I will have more options, I wonder even more what I want to do. One would think that at seventy-five I would have answers. I imagine there are people my age whose lives are in comfortable and satisfying grooves, people who no longer go through angst, people who just know what they want. I also accept I have never been and will never be one of those people. Therefore, I blog… on and on.

Knowing I will no longer be living via Zoom but will have live options is enough for now. I do not have to have the answers to my questions. What will I leave in? What will I leave out? What will I add? Time will tell.

(If you are an email subscriber, consider yourself a beta reader reading a first draft. Almost always, I come back and edit. I always catch typos later.)

Spring Yard Work

I garden with Mother Naure, with little interference, so my yard is wild. I plant flower seeds and perennial plants. This week I have spent hours cleaning out two large beds. Underneath the grass and leaves, I found lilies, irises, yarrow, poppies, vervain, Sweet Williams, and coreopsis.

In the summer, the now brown beds will be in full bloom. Almost all are perennials which come back each year. I will plant zinnia seeds.

I have been in a weird songwriting space. I had much rather be digging in the dirt (soil). All the photos were made in my yard — Florence, Alabama.

Songwriting – Craft or Art?

(August 23, 2021 disclaiimer : I do not stand behind this except as what seemed true on that day)

All songs are not created equal. I should know. I have been writing songs more years than some of my cowriters are old. I am seventy five. I started writing in my mid-thirties. Do that math! I know the rules well enough to follow them or break them. Like carpenters who can make square boxes after learning to make one square box, songwriters can write songs once they learn the basics of combining words and melodies. According to Harlan Howard, country music’s songwriting legend, three chords and the truth is all you need to write a great song. For a blues song, you need less than that. I cowrite as many as four songs a week in different genres with songwriters much more skilled than I in structure. I regularly write with seven different co-writers: Mark Narmore, Sandy Carroll, CoCo O’Conner, Will McFarlane, ElizaBeth Hill, Taylor Grace, and Mitch Mann in varying combinations. We write many genres, some simple and some complex. I am confident in saying we are not going to write a bad song – unless we want to. That is the only claim I will make. We control craft but not art.

I have songwriting questions for which I have no answers. What makes one song better than another? Why can not all my songs be either beautifully artistic or commercially successful? Why do listeners love one more than another? I wish I had the answers to mine and the ones others ask. The one question I am often asked, I can answer. What happens in a songwriting session? The answer? It depends. There is no typical or normal cowriting session for us. We set appointments. We show up. We write. None of the songs are the same. Some are better than others. I go into every session hoping for a song to come shining through with that intangible magic that comes from somewhere other than the songwriters.

CoCo O’Conner, ElizaBeth Hill, and I had such a session yesterday. We showed up for our 10:00 Zoom session. (All the things said about showing up are true.) CoCo and i have written many songs together with many different cowriters but not with ElizaBeth. I would like to think the combination of the writers gave the song the intangible quality, but from my experience with cowriting I know more than the combination of writers was involved. The song has more than three chords, but it does have the truth. That is true of many of my songs, but not all of them are inspired. Inspiration does not always show up, but when it does we can feel it in the room – even a Zoom one. We began by talking about what was going on in our lives. As professional writers, we try to come into sessons with something, maybe a title, an idea, some lines, a bit of melody. The three of us have lived long enough and have gone through enough to write about and for women. We talked about the ideas and lines we came in with and about what we wanted to say to other women. I can over-dramatically say, the song wrote itself – or maybe inspiration wrote it. Our song, “She Never Got to Memphis” says a lot about women and life.

When we have demoed it, I will share on the Songs page. I hope you feel the intangible. I would love to say this song will surely surface and be heard by the masses. I would love to say all who hear it will love it. Unfortunately, that is unlikely. All I can say is we three women songwriters love the song and are thankful to have written it.

About Time

Will I miss anything about eleven months of self-isolation? I will soon find out. I get my second shot the 16th. Then in another two weeks, being ultra cautious as I have been, I will ease back into “normal” life. I am looking forward to that. I do not want to become a recluse, but the closer late February gets, the more I think about what I am looking forward to and what I will miss once my self-isolation is over.

The last year has been one of introspection and reflection for me. Once I am back to normal or anything close to normal, do I want my life to be different than it was before Covid19? I have had time for things I love that I did not take time for before. I am asking myself what I want to leave in and what I want to leave out. What is important to me and what is not? What do I miss and what do I not?

It is all about time. I will be seventy-six in April, so these questions are more important to me than ever before. After almost a year of being isolated with time to think about the past, present, and future, I know I want changes from the past and now. I want to use my time more wisely. (Have you ever thought of the expressions we use with time? We have it. We spend it. We use it. We waste it. We take it. We have it on our hands. We lose track of it. No matter how we try we can not keep it.) Since I have been able to do little of anything, I have thought about all the ways I want to spend my time. I have also thought about a time in my future when I will once again be able to do little- or nothing. That time will come. No one lives forever.

Some of my life I definitely want to be different than it is now. Some of my before Covid life I want back. Some of my life this last eleven months, I do not want to lose. When I have somewhere to go, will I put seeds on my deck every morning and late afternoon? Will I miss the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and the Cedar Waxwings because I am too busy to watch for them? What about those days when I have no commitment and the sun is shining and the ground is just right to plant, to dig bulbs and plants to move them, and to weed. Will I be so busy I do not take to be in tune with my body and nature. Will I forget my time is not unlimited?

Only time will tell.

Speeding the Tempo Up

I do not always write up-tempo songs, but when I do they are good ones. At least I think so. Today I am sharing seven with you. You decide.

All are published by River and Stones Music (ASCAP) and cowriters’ publishing companies.

I Call It Love – writtten by Mitch Mann, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown
Mercy Mae – written by Sandty Carroll, CoCo O’Conner, and Stephanie C Brown
Me or the Dress -written by Will McFarlane and Stephanie C Brown
Inside Your Crazy – written by Mitch Mann, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown
Heartbreak Speed – written by Jami Grooms, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown
Surprise Me – written by Mark Narmore and Stephanie C Brown
Lumber of the Beast – written by Mitch Mann, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown

And now – one bonus to slow the tempo down a bit

Betty Jean – written by Michael A. Curtis and Stephanie C Brown

A Ballad Kind of Day

Seven ballads for you. All songs written by me with cowriters in various combinations and published by each writer’s publishing company. River and Stones Music has all of my publishing except Love is Everything which is in Golden Ladder publishing company.

Betty Jean – cowriters Michael A. Curtis and Stephanie C Brown
Love Is Everything – this one goes back to my Nashville days. Written with Marc Rossi (Marc My Words – Ascap)
One Moment All Time – written by Mark Narmore and Stephanie C Brown
What About My Heart – written by Will McFarlane and Stephanie C Brown
I Know Where It Ends – written by Sandy Carroll and Stephanie C Brown
This Is My Brave – written by Mark Narmore and Stephanie C Brown (There is a wrong pronoun shift. All choruses should be My Brave not Your Brave)
You’re Breaking My Broken – written by Mark Narmore, Cindy Richardson Walker, and Stephanie C Brown

Quilting

When my mother passed, she left her quilting fabric to me. If you do not come from a quilting family, you may not understand. Leaving a quilting stash (all fabric) to me was more important than leaving any jewelry or anything else, except maybe cookware. Mother sewed for our family and others. She was a quilter. One room in her house was full of fabric to the point of only a pathway through. When she moved into town, she did give a lot of it away. I did not realize how much she still had until she passed and I moved it to my house.

I took the fabric in the house and attic, but the fabric she had in her shop went into storage at my nephew’s. I got all of that this week. The photo collage you can see how much I got and some of what I have washed and folded, which is not nearly half of it and is not counting all I already had. All of it is 100 percent quilting cotton. Some of it is themed like thte Elvis and the pigs. Some of it is outdated. Some of it is beautiful. i love touching it all.

My daughter is a beginning quilter and wants some of it. We laughed and said her grannie would probably come back and haunt us if we did not take care of the fabric. To say we have a fabric obsession is an understatement. When we were cleaning out Mother’s house, my daughter and I would not let my brother who was the boss that day come into the sewing room. I remember him standing in the hall with the most puzzled look.

A crazy quilt I made for my sister in 1998 was in with the fabric. I had forgotten it and how much I loved making it.

To see more of my quilting projects go to Stephanie Mae’s Quilting on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/Stephanie-Maes-Quilting-112301187162424

Once again, I am barely making the deadline for my Saturday post. I have barely touched on quilting. Come back. I am sure I will be posting more about quilting in future posts as it seems quilting is calling my name again.