A few days ago, I spent an hour or so on Instagram adding several hundred accounts to the list of those I follow. The photos from Europe and the UK in particular have me itching to pack my bags, cross the ocean and immerse myself in the beauty of otherness and be thrilled with whatever is new and foreign to me. I’ve been waiting to travel my whole life, but refuse to give up on my goal. Trying to be patient in the meantime is tough, but at least I can see through the eyes of other world travelers any minute of the day on Instagram.
Do you ever feel discontented about where you live and wish for some fresh landscapes to inspire and refresh you? But as I wait for my opportunity, I will be thankful for the wildness, drama and variety of this region I live in. I’ve visited unremarkable places, but the Finger Lakes region is not one of these. Waterfalls, gorges, wooded hills, valleys, lakes and streams, farm fields and meadows stretch in all directions. Small town life definitely still exists and I live it. Small villages and towns are to be found every few miles. Biking, hiking, boating, fishing, skiing, and plain old walking can yield an abundance of breathtaking beauty.
The leaves are mostly off our trees, the fields are either harvested or being harvested, squirrels are collecting their last store of food for winter. We’ve had a dusting of snow and have woken up to frost-covered cars several times already. The wind has taken on a cold and blustery Northern edge.
We are discussing Thanksgiving recipes and preparing for the Advent and Christmas season. Wooden angels and pine trees already decorate my mantel and I’m researching where I can get some evergreen shrubs for the front door. In a week, I’ll be getting an evergreen tree for the library as well. Here is where I live and love, so I will notice the goodness all around me and be grateful.
What do you love about where you live and where would you like to travel next?
I am privileged to live in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. Specifically, to live between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. I can drive to a winery in ten minutes or less. They’re so close and there are so many.
This summer and fall, I’ve been into whites and Rieslings in particular. Here are a few of my favorites:
Stranger Things Season 2 was released this morning at 12. I’ve been counting down the days. My daughter and her friend have probably finished most of it by now. As soon as this blog post is done, I’ll be watching episode one. I’m neither a sci-fi or horror fan, last September I binge-watched the entire first season one Wednesday when I was home nursing a cold. Winona Ryder’s portrayal of Joyce Byers, a woman on the verge of losing her mind because her son’s gone missing, plus the great cast of child actors and the creepy plot line all fascinated me. And like everyone else who’s fallen in love with the show, we’ve been impatiently waiting for the next season. I’ll let you know what I think.
This morning I wasn’t watching Stranger Things because I worked out at the gym. Alan and I are members of Seneca Fitness in Interlaken and work out there most mornings. My friends Penny and Doug McGill are the owners. Anything the McGills do is top-notch and the gym is no exception. The color scheme is teal, purple, white, magenta, and lime. The bathrooms and shower areas are downright luxurious and there is an ample supply of cardio and weight machines and free weights. On top of all that, it’s always spotlessly clean, you can come and go whenever as it’s a 24 hour facility and the membership fee is very reasonable. So, we had a good sweat session, went home, showered, ate and drove to Ithaca.
We were supposed to be visiting Wizarding Weekend, which Facebook told me started at 10AM. We got there around 12:30. The side streets, Press Bay Alley and The Commons were their normal everyday selves. No vendors. No music. No people in cool costumes. Our whole reason for going was so that we could see who sells what and if Alan or I should consider applying for a vendor space next year. I guess we’ll have to go back down on Sunday afternoon. As we were already downtown, Alan said, “Should we go into Autumn Leaves?”, which is the used bookstore on The Commons. So we spent twenty minutes perusing the shelves, but left empty-handed. Honestly, we both have a boatload of books we need to read.
Back at home, we are doing some work and getting ready to go to Wagner’s 20th Anniversary Celebration tonight, where Mutron Warriors, one of Alan’s favorite local bands, will be playing. It should be fun. I’ll take and share pictures.
Happy Friday! What will you be doing this weekend?
This is one post in a series about creative living, but the message I am hearing from many different sources and discovering the truth of is this: being a creative person means being a business and marketing-savvy person as well.
I grew up shying away from selling or soliciting in any shape or form, whether with a church group or at a personal yard sale. I just didn’t want to force my stuff or opinions on anyone, didn’t want to toot my own horn or be pushy in any way. Talking to artist friends of mine, I hear the same story from them. Who wants to brag about one’s work? Who wants to push one’s stuff or try to navigate the frightening areas of business and marketing. I continually heard,” I am no business person.” “I am not good at selling anything.” After believing this to be true for myself most of my life, I now disagree with this self-talk. I think every artistic/creative person owes it to themselves and their work to learn as much as they can about how to market oneself, how to make connections, and how to become a business person.
What changed my mind? Last summer, I formed an acoustic musical duo with Alan. We call ourselves The Inner Crazy. We made a list of songs and started learning them and practicing. A friend of his booked us for her private party, and his boss hired us to play at her cafe. But after that, what? No one knew about us, what our music was like, if we would work well in their venue, etc. It’s not like we had a manager. We were it!
I began asking people I knew for venue ideas, Alan and I made a list of places, we made some cover demos and began visiting local wineries, breweries and restaurants. We didn’t have a website or a business card at first, just an email address, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and links to our digital demos. If we couldn’t visit places or meet the person in charge of booking, I sent out emails. It made me nervous, both visiting and emailing, but I did it. Alan cold called places as well. I wasn’t courageous enough to do that.
In most cases, the emails were not helpful. A few places got back to me and said they were booked for the season already or only wanted bands. Most ignored me. A couple actually booked us without meeting us first. Really, the successes were from all the places we went to and met the person in charge. I had to follow up with a “thank you for taking the time to meet us” email and ask if they wanted to book us. Yes, this felt pushy. Some places got back to us months later and said they would book us. In a few cases, I tried again after several months of no response and received a reply.
We are grateful for every gig we’ve had this year. In between gigs, we practiced a lot, learned many new songs, wrote a couple, designed a business card and built a website. We opened a SoundCloud account and kept posting on social media. I started learning the ukulele. I continued to contact places and researched new ones. We had a lengthy list of places we wanted to play at.
We wanted to play at Six Mile Creek Vineyard and were able to play there twice this summer. Treleaven Wines was another place that graciously gave us two bookings. The Trumansburg Farmers Market had us back this August. Bandwagon Brewery opened around the corner and booked us once a month through the end of the year. The Finger Lakes Cider House and Americana Vineyards were both venues Alan has been trying to get a chance to play at since he was doing solo shows. We connected with the folks in charge of both places but didn’t hear back. So we tried again. And both of them booked us and we are thrilled! The Cider House show will be Friday November 10 from 6:15-8:30 and Americana’s will be March 25 in 2018. We play at Bandwagon this Sunday October 8 from 2-5pm.
We have since designed and distributed posters with our names, faces, upcoming shows and contact info in local businesses in Trumansburg and Ovid. I haven’t even done Lodi or Interlaken yet. But we need to create new ones for next month and start passing them out in another week. It’s non-stop.
I have a lot more to learn. Currently, I have a to-do list that is super long. I need to improve our website and add a “subscribe to get email” feature. I am watching Lynda.com tutorials to learn about graphic design. Tumblr is a platform I haven’t tackled, but should, we need new photographs, some videos on Youtube, new cover demos to send out and a holiday EP recorded. We are also seriously contemplating a combined private art/craft show and Inner Crazy concert at our house for the holidays. This will push us out of our comfort zones again, but could end up being fun and a great way to meet with friends and make money at the same time.
Do you have an arts-related business? Are you in a band? I’d love to read what you’ve learned.
One of the ways I fuel personal creativity is by immersing myself in Nature. I am fortunate to live in the middle of farm fields with hills, valleys, lake and sky out every window I look.
This morning I took a truly satisfying walk. I stepped out of the door into the cool sunny embrace of the day. I walked slowly, taking in the cornfields that the farmers have been harvesting, some already bare, some still standing. I saw the lake faraway, reassuring me that something is right in this world. The Amish farms, tidy and exuding industry and old-fashioned wholesomeness, were to my right as I walked down the hill. I could hear a killdeer shouting, crows gossiping and crickets singing a slower, cheerful early fall song. Doug the dog at the small house near the bottom of the hill stood sentinel and simply watched me. I continued carefully on by so as not to work him up. The sun warmed my right ear and my neck, the slight breeze held the edge of a chill. I remembered what my therapist told me last year: to take walks and just observe sight, sound, scent and relax into my surroundings. So I did not hurry and attempted not to think about calories burned or steps walked.
In the nestle of the hollow, I heard rustling of small fauna within the shelter of the trees and breathed in the sweet scent of decaying leaves. The creek was very low, nearly dry. As I came up the hill on the other side I noticed the hay rounds had been removed. I guess I should’ve snapped a shot of them when I had the opportunity. Maybe next year. After the shade of the wooded area, the sun warmed me considerably and I pulled off my sweatshirt, slinging it around my waist. An Amish buggy approached and a young woman with sunglasses waved as she passed, her black horse carrying her away. The sound of their buggies always causes me a bit of a fright. I guess I expect the grim reaper instead of a good Amish. I chalk it up to my overactive imagination. When I reached the corner where the horses stared at me I turned and headed home.
It was as if by doing an about-face the weather changed personalities. Out of the South a strong wind blew into my face and I walked uphill with dried corn stalks flying at me as the farmers harvested.
Trying not to get bits in my eyes, I squinted against the now glaring sun and kept my mind on home. The romance from earlier had definitely flown. As I passed the lower farmhouse, Doug barked twice to let me know he wasn’t fooled by my lack of interest. At last, I hauled myself into the shade of the driveway and felt an overwhelming sense of love and gratefulness for this house that shelters me from Nature and all her moods. I was definitely ready to be productive with the rest of the day. Indoors, that is.
Tell me about your walks and what they mean to you. I’d love to hear where you go and what the landscape is like where you live.
Do you ever take where you live for granted? I must confess–I have. Not that I ever meant to, but I allowed my thoughts, the day-to-day stresses of my little world and all the activity in my schedule to blur the beauty of my surroundings.
This year I divorced, moved to a new home, worked two different jobs and have been in the process of adjusting to a different way of living. I’ve been trying to find how to create new patterns and reestablish rituals I’ve let go or forgotten. I’ve been doing my best to keep close to my kids, see them as often as possible, communicate through text and phone when they aren’t with me and make things as alright as they can be. Every day seemed full from morning to night. Exercise, work, cooking, practicing and performing music, chores and errands, driving to pick up or drop off my daughter and spending quality time with both of my kids, with my partner and occasionally, with a friend.
The year transitioned along the usual trajectory of Winter, Spring, Summer and it is nearly Fall. I let the outdoors be outdoors, kept my head down and tried to make order, sense and stability in my days and nights.
Then I injured my neck and back in early August and couldn’t start cleaning houses as I planned to do once my other job ended. But that didn’t slow me down. Rather than sit and wallow in misery, I decided to paint the kitchen. Sure, if I was smart, I would’ve heeded Alan’s advice and waited until I healed up and he could help me; but I didn’t. I pushed through and it took three long and painful weeks to finish. When I finally took myself to the doctor’s office yesterday, she said that painting hadn’t been the best idea and I needed to rest, take ibuprofen and apply heat and cold.
So now I’m in the library, sitting with an ice pack around my neck, writing and looking out the window at the sun dappled grass and the dancing trees rustled up by the never-ending wind. In a few minutes I will walk (slowly and carefully) down the road and take in the view of Cayuga Lake, the rolling corn-filled fields and the general peace of this lovely landscape. I am going to turn on my senses, be grateful and love the place where I live.