Archive | May, 2007

Writing the Journey – Journal Writing

Many people ask me about journal writing. And I’ve posted about this subject before. I’m a huge fan of keeping a journal, and usually respond to them enthusiastically with “Yes, just do it.”

I recall starting my own recounting of daily activities, with brief hand-scrawled notes. It was my 10th birthday … a new era.

Someone with insight (can’t recall who, most likely my mom) gifted me with one of those small but thick blank books. Each lined page had a date printed on it, imposing itself on me not to be left blank.

I can’t recall if it was leather or leatherette (?) but it was dark apple red with gold embossed letters, announcing “My Diary.” It had an attached flap with a lock and little gold key dangling from a red string. The lock was supremely welcomed as I had (still have) two older brothers. And you know how snoopy those can be.

Anyway, I’d have to dig deep in our garage today to see if, in fact, I still have that diary (haven’t seen it in so long) but the point is that it is what got me started … or should I say addicted.

From there, I fell in love with letter writing … and figured if I spent the time (well, it took longer back then) to write to my dear friends or relatives about what was happening in my life and how I felt about it all, I may as well keep copies. So I did. And those are in boxes in the garage for sure.

What’s funny is that I’m just now, lo these years later, taking the time to go back through some of those early writings … and I’ve learned a few things. What an understatement.

In fact, what I’ve learned about myself just recently, is how much more skilled I am in handling whatever life throws at me … good or bad. I’m teetering on the brink of saying that I actually feel I’ve gained some wisdom! So, for me, the idea of journal keeping, and/or letter writing (if you tell the truth in your letters, that is) is definitely a “Yes, just do it.” There’s no better way to assess your personal journey, for better or worse, whether you keep a daily diary, or a periodic correspondence, or just a collection of your written impressions …

And if you want some help getting started … check out this site, Writing the Journey which is chock full of diving boards to help you jump into the pool.

[My photo: Two kids giggling at their funny reflection in a mirrored ball, Butchart Gardens, near Victoria, British Columbia, 2006]



River People vs. Goal People

Artists, Musicians, Writers:

I just read
River People vs. Goal People, an exceptional article by Chuck Frey (

He describes a major difference in how we maneuver through our lives.

He offers an image of “goal” people, as those who envision goal posts in a football game. Some people set those up for themselves and remain focused specifically on them … which is how they accomplish things … and how they know what they’ve accomplished. It works for them. Solid markers.

But others are “river” people … those who seem to step into a flow (some of them dive in) and expect the river to take them places, toward their goals, that they never before imagined. They also value the info learned along the trip. River people often find themselves much further along their path than they ever could have ever predicted.

Which one are you?


[I took this photo: River in Olympic National Park, Washington State, 2006]


Beverly Hills Affaire in the Gardens – 5/20/07

I know, I know, I know … I should alert you to these events before they happen, but heck, I’ve been too busy going to them, and forgot to post them! Darn. This one happens again in October…so set your calendar.

[If you live in the Los Angeles area, and want to subscribe to a wonderful e-mail list, check out Doug Welch’s WelchEvents. He tends to highlight events that are ‘free-to-cheap’ including nature hikes, kids events, and arts/crafts festivals.
Just click: “Join this group” at this link:]

We hadn’t attended this art show in the past couple years (we were out of town a lot) but it’s definitely one of our favorite local events: The Beverly Hills Affaire in the Gardens Art Show.

We’re always impressed with the variety of sculpture made from new materials (resin? plastic? melted glass?) and also award-winning presentations ranging from classical-style paintings (landscapes, bowls of fruit) to “ultra high design” (i.e., modern impressionists), plus amazing jewelry and wooden crafts (handmade furniture) of all types. The craftsmanship is jaw-droppingly good. If you are interested in buying, do bring your entire bank account. (OK, it’s not THAT bad, but still pretty pricey.)

The outdoor show covers 3 blocks of the park alongside Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Heck, if you still need more stimulation, you can always visit the chic boutiques along adjacent world-famous Rodeo Drive, where Elizabeth Taylor buys her diamonds, or used to.

Oh, and the dogs people have with them…a show all unto itself.



Huntington Botanical Gardens – 5/20/07

Thanks to our good friend (in blue), Katerina Eriksson, the Head Gardener of Perennials at the Huntington Botanical Gardens (San Marino, California), I had the chance to volunteer at their annual Spring Plant Sale.

I took this as yet another opportunity to exercise my creativity in a totally different way, photographing the astounding array of flowering plants … and to be around people who really know their stuff!

I like cactus … so I took a few shots of the most exotic looking ones.

Personally, I find that when I get out of my regular routine it’s a chance to churn up all kinds of new ideas, whether they are about art, writing or just taking a needed break. Highly recommended!


Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – 2007

This is one of our favorite events … the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held on the campus of UCLA. This one was April 28-29, 2007.

Aside from spending time going from one booth to the next, with about 100,000 people, you have the opportunity to hear world renown authors speak in classrooms there — and it’s FREE (except for parking). If you’re a writer, you should add this event to your “must do” list.

As we strolled around, we saw Hector Elizondo, promoting his current work in the theatre, starring in the Los Angeles hit production of “Twelve Angry Men.” I just had to take his photo and tell him how much I love his work.

Also, took a moment to stop and listen to author, Greg Palast, (seen here in similar baldness and blue shirt, but that was just a coincidence, I swear!) one of our favorite political writers. Wearing headsets, he is being interviewed on KPFK radio, broadcasting live from the Book Festival.

It’s an author’s paradise … certainly a reader’s too. Put it on your calendar for late April 2008. Highly recommended!


Revlon 5K Run/Walk – May 12, 2007

Thought you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately. I am reminded, by the way, that anything we do (well, ALMOST anything) stimulates our creativity. Especially when you do something for the first time…

This was my first time to do anything like this…
I walked in the Annual Revlon 5K Run/Walk (about 3 miles) for Women, a fundraiser to fight cancer.

Photo above, taken of me at the Finish Line, by my good friend Ruth Rivin.

Pat Benatar and band were playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as we returned from the walk …very cool. I heard that Gladys Knight, Kenny Loggins, and others played in years past, but the organizers never reveal in advance who’s going to be playing … so it’s always a surprise reward!

(“The Nanny”) Fran Drescher, singer Sheryl Crow (both had cancer) were there along with Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”) and other actors/celebs, models spoke, posed for photos and signed autographs, etc.

Each runner/walker wore a sign on his/her back denoting in whose honor or memory we were running/walking. I chose my dear friend, Bernadette M. Smith, who was a music business attorney I worked with in Atlanta, Georgia, and who died much-too-young, a couple years ago from cancer. Some people had several names on their lists. Some were “in support of” for cancer survivors … and there were lots of those participating in the walk, thankfully.

Biggest moment for me was when we walked through the tunnels, crowded into a river of about 50,000 people, coming out of the dark & cool and into the sunshine again, entering the “floor” of the Coliseum with people cheering, in the stands, just like we were in the Olympics!

Each participant was presented with a gold medal (shiny-gold colored, heavy, not plastic…maybe lead?) on a red ribbon that volunteer firemen/women placed around our necks, hugged us, posed for photos, just like real ‘winners.’ Very cool.

It was a relatively easy walk (except for lack of sleep! We got there at 7 a.m.), certainly because I was enjoying my visit with Ruth. I’m still energized, having recovered from the almost-blisters on the soles of my feet. Besides, I finally got to satisfy my “Inner Gladiator.”

The whole thing was really very touching…and inspirational. And fun.

If you ever have the chance to enter a ‘walk’ or ‘run’ for a good cause … go for it.


John Braheny – A Career in Music – Podcast!

As promised, here are two links — use either one — for Doug Welch’s HOT audio interview (Career Opportunities podcast) with John Braheny, about “A Career in Music.”

Archived here from the live online stream last night (5/8/07), it runs about 60 min., and it’s free!

Link to Doug’s blog post, with all the details:

Link to just the MP3 file itself:



How to Improve Your Live Performance

For those of you who “play out” or perform your songs “live” in clubs, concerts — even at musicians’ and songwriters’ workshops — here are some notes I’ve taken while listening to literally hundreds of singer/songwriters:

1) If you’re not working with a little video camera, so that YOU see how YOU look in front of your audience, DO IT! This doesn’t have to involve an elaborate, expensive set-up … just some way for YOU to see YOURSELF in action. No one else has to see it, ever! It doesn’t hurt to audio/video your performance each time you perform, so you can hear/see how much you’re improving. You’ll learn a lot just from doing that.

2) I realize we live in a society in which we can pretty much wear whatever … but, puhleeeze, do give some thought to your appearance before you get up on stage. Even if you’re creating a certain casual vibe, make it look intentional, and not like you just walked through a second-hand store and stuff stuck to your body indiscriminately. There’s a reason why pros use ‘stylists’ – so, if you need to, ask your high-design friends to help you get a ‘look’ if you’re not sure about your ‘image.’ People do remember and identify you visually.

3) Do you realize you’re keeping your eyes closed the whole time you’re singing to us?
Remember that you’re cutting us off … and we’re the very people you say you want to communicate your songs to. It’s just a habit. And by the way, if you are staring at the floor, or out the window of the club, while you’re performing, then I’ll be just as disinterested in your songs as you are.

4) Did you remember to warm up your voice? There are several excellent tips on how to do this … including singing in the car on the way to the gig, if you’re pushed for time. We’ll get back to this in a future post.

5) Did you take a moment to relax and focus … not just for speaking in public, but before any performance. A tried-and-true method is to sit quietly and visualize the details of what you’ll be doing — even if you’re doing the ‘same old songs’ or a well-rehearsed speech. Do a mental walk-through. And then, imagine being liked by the crowd!

6) Try to remember that we don’t know the words to your songs. And if the words are important to you, please enunciate them so that we can understand what you’re singing. It’s one of our biggest pet peeves, straining all evening just to hear the words.

7) Between-song-banter. No need to tell us, as you tune your guitar on stage, how you just recovered from laryngitis, or that you still have the flu, etc. No need to tell long and involved stories about your song if, in fact, those details will be in the lyrics anyway. No need to apologize for forgetting the chords or lyrics … we may not even notice if you play on through. (Next time, learn your songs!) No need to tell us all about how and where the song was written, unless it’s really interesting and entertaining to us. If you have to tell us what the song means, then you haven’t written a good enough song. Do tell us, however, if it was co-written, and with whom. Or if it was written by someone else. It’s worth your while to study professional singer/songwriters to learn what it is they say between songs that delights an audience. There is an art to it. It’s not just filling time.

8) It’s okay to be gracious. If you’re the first performer of the night, you can welcome the audience and thank the club (owner/manager) for having you. Surely there’s something else you can say other than, “How y’all doin’ tonight?” If you’re the last peformer, thank the audience for coming, etc. You do have manners.

9) It’s very much okay to promote your CD for sale … and hawk your website, etc. But there are ways to tuck those announcements into your performance so you don’t sound like a late-night infomercial. You can be tasteful.

Hope this helps … it’s meant to do that.

Plus here’s a brief article I found that is what got me started on this topic today:
5 Powerful Hacks to Immediately Improve Your Presentations
(written by Scott Young – but found on Ririan Project).



A Career in Music – Live Podcast!

Our good friend and computer wizard, Douglas Welch, is going to interview John Braheny tomorrow evening in a FREE LIVE PODCAST!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
6:00-7:00 pm (West Coast time).

Listen, Chat or Phone in your questions!

You can listen or join in the interview live, via online chat or telephone, by setting up your FREE account at For more information on joining a Talkshoe Talkcast visit:

We will also be using to stream live audio and video for those who would just like to watch the interview. You can tune in to the show by visiting:

Press the large Play icon in the middle of the picture to begin streaming the video.

Note: when you enter this page, you will be asked to run an applet for the built-in chat room. You can click Trust, if you would like to join the chat, or simply press Don’t Trust to ignore.

Finally, the interview will also be released as a podcast on Career Opportunities and soon after the event.

Visit for more information.

If you have questions for John about the music business, songwriting, or his book, The Craft and Business of Songwriting, email them to or call
206-338-5832 any time prior to the event and we will try to get them into the show.

Please join us!


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