I almost missed it

Life is like a river

Ever changing as it flows

A dream is like a butterfly

Ephemeral and fleeting

Skimming the surface

as the river flows


I wrote the above on July 24th, just a few days ago. I also wrote the following: The time of letting go of life as I knew it was hard to know. I gave so much time and energy holding on, thinking if I kept doing the things I did the joy and passion would still be there, but those have already gone and are waiting for me in life as yet unknown. For now, I am in between.


Fast forward to today. I may be in transition from one stage of my life to another, but joy and passion are not waiting for me out there somewhere. They are here in the in between. I felt them today sitting in the audience of W.C. Handy Fest’s Songwriter Series. I almost missed it. I did miss the Monday show.

My two main passions in life have been teaching and songwriting. I have walked away and back again from both more than once. My daughter used to tell me that I always forgot how much I loved teaching until I walked back into a classroom. Today I realized the same is true my music world. Seven years ago after a twelve-year hiatus from music, I walked into a studio and knew I was back. Today I walked into a live performance of songs and realized I had never left.

I think maybe this concept of being in between was in my head. After all, all there is is now.

Updating Yet Again

Building a blog intended for more than a journal is not easy, at least it has not been for me. I am back after a three month break. Before now this blog has been a jumble of posts about too many facets of my life with little organization. Some content is harder to find than before because I am restructuring the menu. However, the category drop down menu on the sidebar is still intact and functional.

The focus of the blog now is my songwriting and my work as a creative catalyst now in Muscle Shoals and in the past in Nashville. I have had enough validation in the last few months to own both and want to share both with you. I will do that through videos, podcasts, meet-ups, shows, webinars, and who knows what else. My vision for this blog has not changed, but it is going to take longer than I realized. The goal is an international blog with content that attracts followers. I am not sure how the book I am writing about my life ties in, but it does.

I will still post about my struggle with bipolar disorder and my other passions. How could I leave out progress in my yard, flowers, birds, quilting, lyrical lines, and art? Eventually the menu and category cloud will held you find everything.

Money – in Exchange for What?

Have you ever started a project and then stalled? Not walked away. Just stalled. That’s where I am with this blog. I did not start it natively. I knew to develop it into more than a journal would take time and effort. I did not realize how much of both. The more I learn the more I realize how much more there is to learn. What I saw as hills in the distance are in fact mountains. I still have the original vision. I see this blog doing online what I do and want to do in my life. I am called a creative catalyst and an inspiration. I want to be that for my blog readers, but I want more. I want to make money for myself and others. Giving away still seems so much nobler than being paid. I want to feel no shame in being paid to help people. See? Even now it is hard for me to unabashedly say I want to make money by sharing.

If you are one of my twenty-three followers, you know I have rambled my way down more than one road. If you know me personally, you know following one straight path is hard for me, but I do want all the side roads and byways to get me to where I want to go. This blog has many side roads and rest stops. I post about having bipolar disorder, being a songwriter, sharing my songs, being a part of the Muscle Shoals Music community, growing flowers, finding four leaf clovers, making photos, quilting, writing a book, writing poetry, sketching, interviewing interesting people, being interviewed. I post randomly about my life and my thoughts, I even blog about blogging. So far it is like a unorganized beginning of a long book with many chapters without a unifying theme. Perhaps it is entertaining and even inspiring, but as of now the plans for making money are just that, plans.

Here I stand at the foot of what I now realize is a mountain, figuratively stomping my foot and saying words I do not want to include in here, asking why this has to be so hard for me. I am not inventing the wheel here. There are tried and true rules and guidelines for building a blog with over a 1,000 followers – which is necessary to make money. Some of them are not so hard singularly. Combining them all is hard, at least for me. I have taken courses and am in groups and see other bloggers doing what I want to do, so I know it can be done.

You may be wondering what I expect to give in exchange for money. Music related webinars, courses, and eBooks and possible eBooks on some of my other interests, my cowriters’ CDs and merch, my own CD if I ever have one, and my book which is part of the plan but not finished. I have music credentials as a publisher, songwriter, and mentor in Nasville and Muscle Shoals. Garth Brooks credits me as being there for him and starting his career. Music is only a part of my life. I have seventy-six years of living to share. Maybe some of it belongs in my life or a tell-all, share-all book instead of this blog.

As a blog reader, what blogs do you love? Who do you follow? What is there about other blogs that you think is worth your time? In all the randomness of my blog, what is most interesting to you? Why do you follow me? If you do not, what would convert you to a follower?

Please, subscribe to my email list. As of now you get posts updates. My plan is a weekly or monthly newsletter. See? More plans and little action.. Be my guide to getting to the other side of the mountain. Journey with me. I have a lot to share and surely something to sell.

Decluttering Life

My life was as cluttered as my house. Thanks to a housecleaner, my house is in good shape. My life? I made progress this week. The method that is working for decluttering my life is a simple one anyone can use. In fact, it is almost too good to be true. I tried copious to do lists, detailed scheduling, Facebook groups, free and paid webinars and courses. All of those have one thing in common; I was trying. The harder I tried the more frustrated I became. With my life so cluttered, I was overwhelmed and felt I did not have enough time to get everything done. The problem was not lack of time. It was lack of a central focus.

Last Monday night, I went to bed asking the Powers That Be for guidance. I got up in the morning with clarity. The solution was so simple. Life needs priorities and a central focus. I chose myself as a writer as my central focus. My priorities were in place. Self-care, my family, and my Zen life of growing flowers, watching and photographing birds, finding four-leaf clover, and all the other soul satisfying things I do will not fall by the wayside. Seventy-six and retired with the luxury of doing what I want, I trust myself. I do not consider those activities or projects. They just are. Maybe someday self-care, family, and my Zen life will be all I want, but now I still want more.

I do not believe we can do anything we want no matter how hard we try, and I am sure we can not do everything, but we can excel at one well-chosen thing. Everything is falling into place with myself as a writer as my central focus for projects, tasks, activities, and most importantly for commitments. Energy follows on focus. I write songs, am writing a book, and building this blog. They dovetail. Anything that does not involve one of my priorities or me as a writer is a prerogative. Before I take on any other project or get pulled into a distraction, I will ask myself how it relates to Stephanie C Brown the writer.

Putting myself as a writer first is long overdue. I went to Nashville in 1985 to become a commercial songwriter. I had some success but soon became a publisher and manager, hosted shows, and was a mentor to many. All took energy away from my writing. I came home to Muscle Shoals and seven years ago I started writing again. At the same time I got back into hosting and promoting events and shows. Much of my time and energy went to other people. I was close to jumping into building Blue Ocean Glass as a management and PR company because I saw young talent that needs guidance. I have backed off of that because I deserve my energy. Blue Ocean Glass will be a publishing company for my own songs and rare other songs that I love so much I want to be involved.

Letting go of or being selective of anything that does not involve my priorities or central focus has freed my mind. I believe in my self as a writer as much as or more than anyone else does. Go to the song page and listen to some of the songs. Follow my blog. One central focus leaves room for priorities and more. A writer is not all that I am. Subscribe to my email list to get notifications of updates.

Revamping

Over a hundred posts in, I am stepping back to evaluate and improve. Revamping will take time.  I will post sporadically instead of each Wednesday and Saturday. My vision for this blog has not changed.  I have a public life as a Muscle Shoals songwriter,  show organizer, promoter, and mentor. Many creative Muscle Shoals music people do not know how to promote themselves or share their knowledge.  I already help them with that  Now I want us all to have a larger audience.

I also want to share my love and experience as a photographer of birds and flowers, as a flower grower (mostly from seeds), as a quilter, and as writer.  I am writing a book about my long history in music, including why Garth Brooks says I am the person who discovered him and started it all for him.

I have bipolar disorder.  I share my experiences as well as how I cope.

We all leave a legacy.  I want this blog to be part of mine. I want to see how much of what I do in person can be done online. To do that I need to build a strong foundation to support better posts, interviews, shows, courses, and a store. I can do all with time and focus. 

Please subscribe to or follow me. Go to the category list on the side bar to read posts that interest you. I hope you go to the Song page to listen to some of my songs. Part of my process is sharing and getting feedback.  Creating in a vacuum is hard.

You can already find a lot here. There will be more.  Come back.

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.)

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.