Summer break

Hey all,

not much activity on the blog right now cuz….I’m taking the summer off.  I’ll be back in the fall with some new stuff that I’m working on.

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Why I Write Music

I’ve long since abandoned the empty pursuit of “success.” It was harmful for me and came from a broken and wounded place. In rediscovering a healthier relationship with music, I’m able to find purpose in it again. And this encounter sums it all up for me:

For me, I write and release music to share deeper truths, call out injustice, and to be radically vulnerable in hopes that I can help make space for others to tell their story and find healing.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible

This sums up a lot of my journey. It’s only now, having healed and worked through the damage that I feel okay to talk about growing up in the kind of environment described here.

And it’s tough to talk about it because it’s subtle, constant and has a cumulative effect. It’s hard to talk about psychological and emotional abuse because the abusers are careful to avoid “leaving a mark” so to speak.

The gaslighting is maybe the worst part. I still don’t always feel that I can trust my own feelings and emotions. And I’m still learning to manage the physiological stress reactions from years of never knowing when the “other shoe would drop.”

Eventually I had to choose between my own mental and emotional well-being and remaining in relationship w/ my toxic and abusive family. I went no contact 4yrs ago and have experienced so much healing and beauty.

The fog cleared enough that I could reevaluate my journey. I went back to school, finished my BA and now I’m in the first year of seminary, working on my Masters.

I’m grateful to the therapists, friends and loved ones who helped me to see the abuse for what it was. They helped me to name it, confront it and heal.

And it feels good to not be scared anymore. It feels good to be able to talk about this. I’m also grateful for the community of survivors that I’m beginning to connect w/ on social media.

So you wanted to be a church worker

Some days, church work can kind of…well I suppose there’s no delicate way to put this so I’ll just say it…kick you right in the balls.

Today I got to listen to someone belittle my carefully crafted and thought through liturgical choices, refer to my contributions as “crap” and imply that the church should replace me in front of a room full of congregants.

And that is why I find myself here at the keyboard instead of asleep in my bed after a very full weekend.

For any of you who are familiar with the enneagram, I am a SOLID 4.  The artsy, sometimes overly introspective type (I know, least shocking thing ever).  More to the point, the way I’m wired makes this kind of thing sit heavy on my heart.  And it’s a different weight than I’m used to.

In my other job, dueling pianos, I don’t get all that ruffled by negativity.  It’s a piano bar and not to be taken that super seriously 🙂  I like that job, but that’s not where I’ve planted my heart and soul.

And therein lies the rub.  I love the church and I care deeply about the people there.  And choosing authenticity means opening oneself up to potential pain.

I want to be clear here: This is not a “woe is me, o poor Jesse” post.  Rather, I am attempting to learn to hear the message underneath these statements and not immediately jump to the defence of my own ego.  My newest spiritual practice is attempting to take a posture of “non-defensive curiosity.”  To me, non-defensive curiosity means to move beyond my initial impulse to defend myself and ask the question “what is really going on here?”

And it is in that posture that I can return to a place of empathy and listening.  I’m in the unenviable position of stewarding a rather significant change in our church.  Change is difficult and it can be scary.  As human beings, we rarely react well to being pushed out of our comfort zone.  It is completely understandable that some will feel hostility towards the person that they feel is doing the “pushing.”  That isn’t an excuse for bad behaviour but it does help me to have grace for folks.  It also provides me with the humility to admit that I’m not jumping up and down waving poms-poms in celebratory joy when I get pushed out of my comfort zone either.

While that might not make this hurt less right now at least it offers some comfort and points to a path forward.

We have the power to decide what each moment means and how we will respond to it…we can decide if we’re going to respond to something hatefully or lovingly – Richard Rohr

Reflections: Body Image

A friend of mine put a request on Facebook last week for some reflections/testimonies from guys who’ve struggled with body image issues for a piece she’s working on. It got me reflecting on my journey so I figured I’d share a couple of observations.

There are two things that stick out in my mind when it comes to body image:

The first is connected to the emotional and verbal abuse I suffered at the hands of my family growing up and into my adulthood.

My father’s favourite target was my weight. His comments were always masked w/ a thin veneer of “concern.” He would always find ways to be “concerned about my health” and would always bring it back to implying that I was overweight/fat etc. Nothing I accomplished in my life ever seemed to distract from that focus.

The second part is intimately connected to being a performer. I’ve been a performing artist more than half my life. There is constant pressure to project a certain kind of image. I’ll never forget the day my agent and I were reviewing pictures from a photo shoot and he remarked “good, you look thin.” I certainly don’t blame him for that. That is the nature of the entertainment business.

The implication that my career would be further along if I “looked a certain way” has dogged me throughout my life. I’m more than certain that there is an equal relationship between the internal pressures (childhood abuse) and external forces (you need to look a certain way to be successful).

It’s taken a long time to get comfy in my own skin and I’m glad to say that I win that battle more often than I lose it these days. My value as a human being will never be determined by the wounds of my past nor the vapid consumeristic practices of the music business.

Autism Awareness Month

April is autism awareness month

My encouragement to you is to do the following:

Special education programs suffer from a chronic lack of resources. Tell your elected representatives that better funding for education for kids w/ autism is important to you.

Instead of stereotyping, use the Google to expand your knowledge on the subject. It is a spectrum and no 2 peeps w/ autism are the same.

Also, our society tends to ascribes value only in correlation to their ability to be “productive” in an economic sense

This type of ableism often leads to people w/ autism being seen as “less than”

Our economic and social systems are predisposed to view people w/ autism as a “burden” rather than as human beings w/ innate worth.

Do the emotional and intellectual work required to be able to see people w/ autism as equals.

Value and honour their personhood.

Come alongside them in their advocacy for their right to dignity and meaningful participation in society.

Allow awareness to move you towards transformative action.