ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that's how the light gets in
On Thursday, May 16th, I set up my suitcase altar and began three days of recording basic guitar and vocal tracks at Rubicon
In preparation for studio time, I tried to do everything right. I spent months working on the songs, recording them on my iphone, listening to them, getting feedback from friends and songwriter groups, carrying a journal, writing in cafes, and generally obsessing. I've been working with legendary vocalist Mady Kaye
for several months- learning how to sing properly. I even stopped drinking alcohol and coffee a few weeks ago, and limiting my dairy intake so that my voice could be in prime shape for recording.
Guess what? I woke up sick in the middle of the night, right before recording. Sore throat, sinuses, the works. At first I thought it was strep or a cold, but as it still lingers I believe I'm dealing with the good old Austin allergies. I was able to sing and record this weekend, but it was challenging. I had a little breakdown when I heard my vocals on the first recorded track. Despite all my preparation, I was hit with a wave of self-loathing and perfectionism. All my ideas of the type of singer, writer, and person I might, could, or should be
faded away as the person I am came more clearly into focus. Thankfully, Dan guided me through the journey, we walked through the editing process, and I like the vocals on that track after all. *whew*
When I listen to my voice, I am asked to accept and own who I am- how my voice sounds, what I look like, the words I choose, the stories I tell. I am asked to make the best of what I have been given, and to share it with others. Uncovering my words, voice, and personal style has been the deepest and most useful therapy I have ever undergone. This is healing work. It is one thing to come into ones true self. It is another to come out
, shining brightly in the truth of oneself. My time in the studio is helping me bridge that transition.
My first recording weekend reminded me that nothing is perfect. I was sick, in pain, grumpy, and dealing with some intense emotions. And I used it all. I even cried while recording one take of "Maria" (we did a bunch of takes), and that is the version you will hear on the record. It's gorgeous. I believe my voice- in its fragile, sore, and challenged state- was exactly what these songs asked of me. My voice sounds true, and I now realize that is the most important thing.
I'm thankful for a challenging, healing, and overall fun weekend recording at Rubicon. Dan
is an amazing human and I'm so thankful to work with him We laughed lots, ate yummy food, and made some fantastic art. I can't wait to share it with you. But first.... we have a lot of work to do! Overdubs, mixing, mastering, promotional photo shoots, graphic design (album + new website!), duplication..... and then we'll talk release date!
I'm endlessly thankful to you- my family, friends, and fans- for supporting my journey.
Since June, I have been working on a song called "Change." Yes, it has taken that long. I've been wandering in the desert and sifting through the sand, calling on the answers and at times trying to force the rain the fall. As I come closer to my truth (and to the recording date) the song is coming into crisp focus.
I have come to believe one of the most powerful thing we can do is tell our stories, speak our truth. I confess, I have rarely been good at telling my story. I built my life around hearing the stories of others as a counselor and telling the stories of others as an educator. Both career facets allowed me the boundary of mystery regarding my personal life. I recognize that luxury is shifting as I enter the world of entertainment.
Fortunately, I'm an excellent Changer.
And so I begin to tell the stories that I know.
I relate strongly to Platos' "Allegory of the Cave."
I spent much of my life a slave with invisible chains made by my family, my religion, and enforced by my own mind. I lived 18 years of my life on a beautiful farm in Washington State, isolated from the world, with a view of the Canadian rocky mountains. We listened to conservative talk radio and got satellite TV just so we could watch the Catholic station- daily mass and rosary with the nuns, hallelujah and happy days! My parents were bullied in school and never felt they fit into world. They sought to save our souls and protect my brother and I by home schooling us with very conservative Catholic views. My life purpose was to be a saint. The motto of the Benedictines, the religious order to which my mother belongs, is Ora et Labora (pray and work.) We lived it.
I began to attend college when I turned 16, and graduated with my first degree and a slew of new life experiences at the age of 18. Just as my parents feared, a liberal arts education challenged and changed me. I walked away from my religion. With it went my songs, which had been used for praise and worship. My relationship with my parents, who had been my best friends, forever changed. I walked alone through several dark phases of life. College + Coming Out. The Early 20s + Career Building Vortex. I was very poor. I worked many challenging jobs (process server, domestic violence shelter, and an in-patient rehab facility for teens addicted to drugs.) My friends got me through. And as I changed, my friends changed. I eventually got my dream job and dream group of friends- a quirky group of young professionals who vacationed together and would occasionally don wigs and take over the town by bike gang. (I love you, BellingFam!)
18 months ago, I quit my job and left my best friends because I had to answer the call of Song. It sounds cheesy, but there is no other way to describe the magnetic draw I felt to uproot and move 2,333 miles across the country. Within 15 minutes of visiting Austin on a whim, I knew I had to move here and make music.
My parents don't understand my life and the choices I make. They fear change. I can understand why. Change is scary. Change entails letting go some pieces of identity that once seemed set in stone. The people who once fit us won't fit the same. Change requires the unraveling of some of the basic fabric of our daily existence. I've found the new clothes are worth it.
I get teary on a regular basis when I think about you- my friends, family, and fans. I feel so much love and support from you, and its helping me take this crazy huge step. I'm excited to share a little more of myself every day, to live with love, to be radically honest and different, to shine bright and speak out. I wish the same for you.
Let's live our truth.
Let's be rock stars right now.
Let's love our scars and cellulite.
Let's see god in each others eyes.
The light in me recognizes and loves the light in you.
Love your light, shine bright-
<3 NamasDaisyPhotography by the amazing Shawnee Kilgore
This is it, folks. The present moment. Here we are, you and me. Sitting at our computers. Watching the facebook feed and following links. Are you procrastinating? What are you looking for? Do you have an insatiable voyeuristic curiosity? Are you a stalker? Are you addicted? Its okay, we can talk about it. I'm addicted to Facebook so I understand. Maybe you're reading this while resisting the urge to walk to the fridge and eat everything in sight, in a fit of PMS-induced hormonal cravings (I never do that!) Maybe you're drunk (or trying to get drunk.) Maybe you're clean and sober and this post is triggering. (Call your sponsor!)
Are you at your office? Do you have a cubical? Are you sitting next to another laptopper in the coffee shop while they blow their nose and spill coffee? Are you reading this at a stoplight (danger!) Are you at the airport or an internet cafe in a remote tropical location? Are you home? Are you naked? I know I would be if this leather couch wasn't so damn cold and covered with germs. Eww.Wherever you are and whatever you're doing is what life is all about.
I mean it. This moment.
Not later or tomorrow or someday, when you're thinner, prettier, stronger, richer, more fit, more likable, less awkward, more educated. Not when you have more skills, a better job, nicer house, fancier car, prettier wife, more video games. Right now.
If you're anything like me, you probably spend a lot of time future-tripping. I'll do just about anything to ignore or resist the present moment. I want to skip levels, like a cheating video-gammer. Up level, up level, up level! Don't stop, get it get it! I imagine Daisy's Happy Life
- the neighborhood I want to live in, the type of house I desire. The books I want to write and what I'll say in my TED talk. The perfect healthy body, wardrobe, vacations, creative collaborators, lovers, and the never-ending slough of song ideas, album concepts, and band names.
Oh boy, when I have all that stuff together, then I'll really be happy!
But I'm learning that the only thing that matters is to be here now.
I think most of us know this and yet I constantly forget.And so I remind myself every day:I wake up early
I refuse to look at my phone/facebook in bed (Revolution!)I breathe, stretch, move.I eat well.I write. I show up
for work positive, curious, and ready. I "clean the house"
- room by room, mindfully attending to the detailsI deal with the shit.
There is a lot of it. Life is messy. I clean and suddenly a new layer of dust forms.
I accept that nothing is every truly clean and perfection is unhealthy. Mistakes are blessings. The present moment is the best teacher. I do
everything I can, the best I can.
Then I stretch, read, go to bed, and wake up ready to do it all over again. Joyfully.
I choose this life.
I choose the silence.
I choose to ache, shake, move, and feel everything I can. It's just growing pains.
I choose to be a rock star right now.
I believe you are exceptional and powerful.
I believe in your light - spark- curiosity - wildness - passion.
Feel it. Roll around. Trust.
Bring your light into the everyday, the mundane, routine. I watch everything change when I choose to love now.
I believe we can take the "shit" from life and put it in the compost. It makes great fertilizer.
What can we grow with what we've been given?
The light in me recognizes, honors, and respects the light in you.
p.s. my friend Shawnee Kilgore
sneakily snapped the above picture of me and Jon Dee Graham
after Gospel Brunch at Strangebrew
. I'm thankful for moments of presence with inspiring Austin musicians. This community is a blessing. <3
I have been writing so much lately, yet I haven't update my blog in weeks. I'll tell you why.
I'm deep in the cocoon. I'm blessed to be working with visionary producer Daniel Barrett
of the band porterdavis
and owner of Rubicon Artist Development.
Dan is an advocate for developing artists, providing the support, wisdom, and direction needed to get artists like me off the ground. We're in the midst of my first month of pre-production work, and I already feel like I've gotten more out of it than I could have hoped. Dan is helping me go deep and get honest with myself. What are my values, really? What's my purpose in life, and with my music? What is my business plan? What songs do I want to record and why? I love the process of strategic planning, development, and marketing, and I'm blessed to have found a producer who speaks the same language as me. We're recording in early summer, a year and a half after I first moved to Austin to make an album. I'm no longer in a rush. I'm right on time, and enjoying the process.
Since I'm deep in the cocoon, I'm intentionally not playing out or actively booking shows right now (except for Whole Foods, who is currently picking up most of my grocery bill. Thanks WF!) I am building the foundation first. When I'm not cleaning houses (day job!), I'm writing, researching, working on my authentic image, and grounding into my persona. I'm reading autobiographies of my favorite female artists who started from the ground level just like me. I'm developing my authentic rock-star Daisy confidence wardrobe. I'm digging deep into my values and purpose in life, and in relation to music. In short, I'm figuring out what I want to offer to you- and to the world.
This past year, I faced my ground zero. I gave up financial security, stepped away the life I'd built, hit the road with only a dream in hand, ran hard and fast, and met all the right people along the way. I didn't realized until I did my 2012 taxes that I lived on $7,000 of income, and $2000 from my retirement account. I'm thankful for the experiences I had, the friends I've made, and the lessons learned. I'm excited to be moving forward into my next phase of life, manifesting the abundance and security I need in order to do my important work. I'm re-connecting to part of my purpose- women's rights and gender equality. I turned my back on social justice work to explore music, and now I have come full circle. I know my work is not done but rather just beginning. Having worked for 5 years as an advocate for women in crisis, I'm familiar with life at the crossroads. I feel overwhelming optimism when I envision my future- an intentional and purposeful career as a musician, public speaker, and activist for the greater good. I have a dream. I'm excited to share it with you.
I'm unbelievably grateful for my family and friends, new and old.
I couldn't do this without your love and support.
Change is possible.
Believe in your dreams.
Walk toward your dreams with grace and intention.
I love you. YOU.
Feel love, be love.
Ever notice how quickly this question comes up when adults meet? I didn't notice until I quit my 5 year career in social work to explore music. I now find it interesting how strongly we define ourselves by our income-generating activities. For many years I had my speech down. I was proud to be a social worker advocating for victims of domestic violence in a rural community. I was an advocacy-based counselor. I helped run a 24-hour shelter and crisis line, and did prevention programming in 7 school districts. I was the Vice President of the board of directors for the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
and they flew me around for meetings and conferences. I had meaningful, long-term counseling relationships with survivors of abuse. I planned and coordinated Awareness Month events and rallies. I even got to make a documentary with the LGBT teen group I facilitated, and it was featured in a local Human Rights Film Festival. I was good at what I did.
I walked away from my career because I knew that I wasn't living in my truth. I wasn't growing into the person I wanted to be. I wasn't serving the world in a way that allowed me to be authentic and joyful. I've been out of that career and focusing on music for 15 months. During that time I've travelled back and forth from Bellingham, WA to Austin, TX, attended and performed at an independent music industry conference
, personally assisted other artists
, worked a bunch of odd jobs, attended a coveted annual songwriter retreat
, worked on a stage crew
, hosted international folk showcases
, worked on a festival production crew
, toured the west coast with one of my best friend
s, worked with some of the biggest names in folk music
as an artist liaison
Based on my whirlwind of experiences in my first 15 months in music, truly believe that I can most effectively use my skills for the greater good while staying true to myself as a touring singer/songwriter. I see a vision of my potential when I see folks like Steve Poltz
and Phoebe Hunt
perform with full body, mind, and heart. They mean every word, fully committing to their truth. They offer their full selves to the performance, and because of this they are successful and draw a dedicated fan base. I want to play at that level. I want to show up and meet people where they are with enthusiasm and curiosity- to act creatively and lovingly in every moment, whether I am playing in a coffeehouse, on stage at a major venue (sold out, of course:), or at a house concert. I believe this is what my life is all about- showing up and being love. Growing.
I'm aware that I have gifts and skills that very few people in this world possess. We all do. I wonder how many of us have found our gift, our truth? I am unbelievably blessed to be aware of my gifts, to have the opportunity to build skills. I'm slowly blooming into my new self. I dream of writing powerful songs that reach a large audience, writing songs for tv, film, commercials, and other artists, and showing up all over the globe spreading positive energy and enthusiasm. I'm not there yet, but I have a lot of amazing friends who are living my dream. I'm making plans, practicing daily, attending to the details in the present, and gracefully stepping into my new life as a professional songwriter and performer. I've heard it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. I have a lot of performance, vocal, guitar, and songwriting hours to get in. If you don't see me often, its because I'm locked away working on guitar, my voice, recording, writing, and reading about public speaking, performance, image, etc. The business side of this music thing is for real!I'm Doing it!
This is the first time I've mentioned my former career and current work on daisyoconnor.com.
Since I quit my job and began this journey, I've been operating on the "act as-if" philosophy
. I've stepped into the music world with all the grace and confidence I could muster, and now I feel ready to be honest about where I'm at. It is the only way I know to grow. I write songs, sing, dance, cook, love, and eco-cleaned houses
. I'm currently cleaning 9 houses a week. (Daisy the Vaccuumer says, "Yes We Can!")
House cleaning has become my yoga. I breathe deeply, move mindfully, stay present, and love even when its hard. I can think of no better training for a rock star.
If someone were to waltz into my living room right now and offer my pre-packaged dream life , I wouldn't know what to do with it. I say I want an independent, sustainable career writing songs- a home - an active touring schedule- regular new albums- commercial success- exciting collaborations with other artists- non-work related vacations- health insurance- a legit touring vehicle- cool merch people actually want to buy/wear/share- etc. The truth is, I don't know how long it will take for me to grow the career I desire. However, I'M DOING IT! Sure, I clock in every day and clean dirty houses, and come home and do double duty with my music. I joyfully choose this life of radical simplicity and hard work. I know that I'm right on time.
Oh happy day, I am playing at Whole Foods this Saturday!
I've been chicken-sitting for Shawnee & Will
the past two weekends while they galavant from coast to coast. They are in NYC right now and I'm going wild in their house. I wish everyone could have a house to themselves now and then- it is good for the soul.
DAISY GONE WILD WEEKEND II-
Friday- I submitted a song I wrote and recorded in bed to Songwriter Weekly and they posted it on their website. The prompt was "Stay in Bed"... it seemed appropriate to do so. Check it out HERE
(then click "listen.")
Saturday- I learned how to play one of my favorite songs and did a little one-take recording for Cover Your Friends
(an awesome music video page you should totally "like.") You can watch it HERE.
I want to make a proper recording and video for this song someday- I see so much when I hear this song.
Also.... I'm working on a comedy hip-hop song and video about yoga. It's hilarious and the concept is completely original as far as I can tell from my youtube research. I can't wait to share it with the world someday.
Today- I get to hang with one of my favorite people- Thick Red Wine
, and work on album stuff with producer/bass god Andrew Pressman. Life is flowing, things are growing, I am grateful.
Happy Sunday, y'all! <3
Golly gee, I had such a fine time at Whole Foods last week that the good lord saw fit to bless me with another opportunity to showcase my talents at the check out line. Come bask in the organic deliciousness with me.
In other news, I'm gearing up to record my FIRST EP with Andrew Pressman
and Bruce Chandler
in a couple weeks. I'm in full-on songwriter nerd mode, obsessively playing the same songs over and over, listening to them, tweaking words and vocal inflections. I confess I'm obsessed and possessed. These songs got a hold on me. My best friends are all having babies and getting married, and I'm gestating word and melody.
So. . . see you at Whole Foods! I'll be all hopped up on 70% dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds. :)
I'm all sorts of giddy. I get to play a long set at Whole Foods. )
Playing the grocery store circuit has been a dream of mine since I was a wee lass. My daddy worked in the supermarket produce department and momma would take me to visit him so I could sing him songs in the fruit and vegetable cooler. I sang and I cracked jokes and his co-workers remarked with pity that I inherited my father's humor. Oh, I just knew that someday I would be going to the supermarket to sing song for more than just my hard working daddy and his disgruntled co-workers.
Dreams do come true!
I'm going to play a bunch of badass songs, both original and covers. I'm learning some songs my friends wrote. It's gonna be legit. Don't go to the downtown location. I won't be playing there. Go to Arbor Trails- it's the place to be.
Happy 2013! We have made it this far- to the first day of the rest of our lives and the only day we'll ever have- TODAY! Right now. This moment.
For me, New Years is a time for self reflection and minor identity crisis. Who am I? What am I doing and why? Who is my best self?
- What does she wear, how does she think, who does she hang out with, what does she do? - Does she bring her own pony to every party?
- Does she pack a pink breast cancer awareness pistol in her purse and wear necklace bullets of crystal meth?
- Can she can-can like a crazy Jerry Lewis on Ru Paul's drag race?
- Is her New Years Resolution to Segway across America, raising awareness of the national shortage of hugs, with the ultimate goal of engaging our President and Congress in a cinnamon roll hug
on the white house lawn?
(Obama can start it off!)
Reality check. 1st world problems. None of this really matters.
(Except !Segway America: Congressional Cinnamon Roll Hug!
I'm gonna get the kickstarter going stat.)
We have 364 New Days ahead of us in 2013. That's a lot of days. I can't think that far ahead.
What can we do today?
Let's seek peace and positivity, inside and out. Love more than we ever thought possible. Recognize and release patterns that no longer serve. Take care of ourselves and others. Manifest. Do the things we love. Be in the present. Do-be-do-be-do.
LET'S DO IT!New Day Mantras:
I am right on time.
I am choosing to do what I love every day.
I have everything I need when I need it.