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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Warrior Girl - Freedom, detachment, getting clear, letting go, and living my life.

"I realize that I am always free to let go
and observe my life" 
- Wayne Dyer

Life on the road as a touring artist has its stories, and also its lessons. Four hours sleep doing the red eye from L.A, via Atlanta, I arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee. I had no idea where that was on the map except that it is a three hour drive from Nashville and is also in Tennessee. But that’s where the commonality ends. Instead of music being its heart, the Smoky Mountains is its claim to fame, amongst also having a reputable university, and once a World Fair.

The first thing I noticed about the Knoxville airport is sandstone walls. The gates and whole airport is built with a very nice indoor facade of sandstone. Then, as you walk down the corridor to baggage claim, there's a gorgeous water fountain, with dozens of live plants. It's, well, pretty. I never would have thought I'd use that word about an airport. It is a welcome relief to the dank grayness of LAX.

I'm performing and speaking at this year's Indiegrrl Women in the Arts Festival/Conference at Knoxville this weekend, and just checked in to the Holiday Inn World's Fair Park. in 1982, this is where the World Fair was and the famous Rubick's cube was revealed here. In fact, in the lobby is the huge Rubick's Cube statue (it's basically a giant Rubick's cube) that was displayed back then. I feel like I'm living part of history. I'm staying on the very exclusive 11th floor (you need a key to access this floor in the elevator). It's a touch of class, amongst a hotel that I don't believe has been renovated since '82, except for my room, which is pretty swanky I have to say.

Cut to 3 days later,... I have spent this time performing at showcases, and speaking on panels. I also conducted my "Successful Artist Entrepreneur" workshop. I spoke to a hundred women and men about the essentials of being the "warrior artist" and the "business minded artist". I also conducted several one-on-one mentoring sessions.

Basically, many performing artists converge together for this power packed weekend to perform, learn, network and build long lasting music friendships. Most are indie artists, all doing their best to make a career of their music, and become successful.  Not all were looking for a record deal. In fact many loved the notion of staying independent and learning the ropes to record their own music, release it, promote it, and hopefully make a living from it. Others were seasoned pros, wanting to be amongst like minded artists for a weekend. It truly is powerful and unique, to be amongst like-minded talented artists.
In my teachings this weekend, I discovered there was a common thread amongst the artists and what they were searching for: FREEDOM.


Freedom to tour and perform whenever they wanted; freedom to pursue their artistic dream, without being inhibited by a day job, lack of money or lack of resources; freedom to write songs; freedom to be who they want to be in their lives, and not trapped by past thoughts, fears, people's perceptions, responsibilities; freedom to create and pursue this naturally challenging career with the time it takes to invest in it; and so forth.
This desire for freedom, although not necessarily mentioned directly, was definitely the underlying current in the questions I received, and the conversations and discussions that took place. 

As an artist, I am constantly exploring freedom in my creativity. I have spent quite a few years studying the path of the spiritual warrior and the essence of being that is the pursuit of freedom. You’ll see by my company name, Warrior Girl Music, and my nick name “warrior girl” that I carry this mantra close to me.

Freedom in the music business means the ability to be in control of your own career and at the same time not be in control of anything, and let the winds of heaven guide us in our destiny. Let's take a look at the first part of that phrase: being in control.... It's an amazing opportunity to have a sense of freedom with our Artistry, without having to be dictated by companies that are guided by budgets, competition and the commercial machine. Independence from that means you can drive your own career, and be free to create whatever you want - from writing your songs, to producing unique music albums - different, alternative, out of the box - to performing with uniqueness and diversity.

 Who says we need to be like the formula on radio? Embrace the fact that you can be different from all that. There are enough people in this country who will love your music without you having to be number 1 on radio which is part manipulated anyway. Many bands fall under the radar of so-called "commercial success" (radio play, MTV video rotation, street press, Grammy awards, etc) yet can have a lifelong, financially abundant career with a huge fan base. This can be done through being totally unique, different and out of the mainstream, by touring extensively, and knowing how to brand themselves on an independent level.
Being an independent Artist means you can create what you want, and then allow the right people who love what you do, come to you, rather than create packaged songs to an already saturated market which is commonly referred to as the "lowest common denominator". You have the opportunity to be different... to not just spew out the same ol' music that most of us are tired of hearing. We want something fresh, new, unique. The once loved, and now XM Satellite radio and itunes are true representations that people are ready to hear something new, even if that means going on that arduous search through the internet waves to find a little piece of unique "gold".

So who has the gold? You do. Artists have that divine gift called "imagination" that allows us to be totally different with what we create. So be different. There's an amazing sense of freedom in that. Freedom to discover new sounds, new packaging, new marketing ideas. From the beginning to the end, you have that freedom to do what you want, how you want, no strings attached.

 Freedom is also about coming from a certain place of non-attachment with our Art. Having "no" control in the process can also be a very liberating thing, and avoids any deflated expectations. Sometimes we have to just "let go" and allow the process of our creations, and our destiny/careers/dreams, to unfold on its own accord.

 Let's take a look at the writing process for a moment. Writing songs, or creating anything, even a painting, is like tapping into a creative source that speaks to us. We can't force it, or we get blocked. We just have to be open to it. Once open, we can be very prolific. I'm always surprised that my best writing is when I just brainstorm and let the words flow. Sometimes I even "let go" of trying so hard (maybe even turn the TV on or something to take my mind off the pressure), and all of a sudden the song comes to life. How many songs have you written in the car, or doing something completely different? The words can't stop coming at you can they?

 In the studio, the Art of production is about the freedom of allowing the song to tell us what it needs. We can't force it. We become the observer... allowing the pieces to come to life, as we merely conduct.

 Being the observer doesn't mean we no longer care about the process. No, what it means is that we don't let our mind, our thoughts, our emotions or our worries get in the way.

“If a warrior is to succeed at anything, the success must come gently,
 with a great deal of effort but with
 no stress or obsession.”
 ~Carlos Castaneda

Being open to a different path

Let's take a look at career projections. I always talk about defining success on one's own terms, rather than the commercial model. I also remind myself and others that even though we can have all these big dreams, and create plans,.... it will never turn out the way we planned... and that's a great thing. We may project a certain future for ourselves, but ultimately, the universe, destiny, fate, whatever you want to call it, has other plans. These plans are part of the divine mystery of "why we are here" and as Artists we can respect that because it's all about creativity in the end, and all about freedom. By not being so attached to certain outcomes, we will never be let down. Instead, we will be offered wonderful gifts, which is part of the magic and mystery of it all.

I had an “aah haa” moment with an artist at this Indiegrrl Conference this weekend. She had a one-on-one session with me and we were talking about how she wanted to leave her day job, as a social worker, and go into full time music as a touring and performing artist. But she didn’t know how to transition from earning a strong salary as a social worker, into the music world where she was currently making no money doing coffee houses and the like. She also wondered if she was talented enough to compete in the  music business and couldn’t really figure our her competitive advantage (her talent + uniqueness). Still, her passion is music and she really wanted to transition over. I asked her, “what do you sing about?”. She responded, “about relationships, my truth, and sometimes the stories of the kids I counsel through my day job.”

I offered a suggestion to perhaps explore some of the venues and outlets through her work, where she could perhaps perform to the kids, or the parents or other social workers, and thereby taking a different path (rather than the traditional music venues) to sing at. This was an ahh haa moment. She eyes lit up and she started to smile. For the next half hour we brainstormed all of these ideas about how she could build some shows in her arena, where she could sing positive songs that would help in healing and be therapeutic. She saw visions of her singing at schools, and event general adults about abuse prevention, and various strong topics that she wrote about. She no longer felt blocked in not knowing how to access traditional venues, and realized she new way more opportunities in her work field, than she realized previously, as to get her music out here.

In 30 minutes, this artist became free. She freed herself from the bondage of her expectations of having to pursue her music career like everyone else, but instead find her own path, a different path, and quite possibly a more abundant and higher purpose path.

With discipline comes freedom
The book, “the Way Of the Warrior” talks about the warrior who sets aside all distractions such as self price of the desire to waste time or energy on the mundane. “Eminate the unnecessary”, with a Zen perfection of “free-mindedness”. With freedom from distraction the warrior becomes “emancipated to pursue perfection in all things”. For us, the warrior artist, that means to cut away, like a sword, all that doesn’t serve us, in order to pursue excellence as an artist, and have the freedom to do what we want. This takes an incredible amount of discipline.
How can we find freedom to create, pursue our career, and manage all the business side of music along with being the artist? How can we find the time to be free, unconfined by the walls of a day job, financial burdens, so many hours in the day, the multitude of tasks we need to get done as a creator, and a business person?

It means that we need to adopt discipline in our day to day, in order to accomplish it all. In my view, that means  practicing, on a daily basis, some very important and effective warrior THINGS. Here are mine:

o   Clear the clutter, and the superfluous from your life- all that is unnecessary. That may mean as simple as getting your desk in order, to something complex and life changing as a job you don’t like doing, or projects that are wasting your time. Focus, instead, on what DOES serve you, that is part of your broader dreams and goals in life: and focus/zone in on them.

o   Remove the obstacles, both external and internal. Perhaps you live too far away from the hub of the city you want to perform in. Work towards moving. Need some money? Get a job. In a sour relationship? End it.

o   Find clarity:. Get really clear with who you are and what you want. this can take years. By doing the exercises in the first half of this book, I hope you get clear a lot quicker. Finding clarity also means getting specific. If you want to increase your financial yearly wealth (so you can do the things you want to do), get specific on how much that is. $50K? $100K, $1mil? How much do you want? Right it down.

o   Feel inspired. Finding the inspiration in your day to day process is so important. Lose the stuff that doesn’t inspire you, and move towards things that do

o   Use discipline as a tool for personal freedom: use my time management exercises, build your priorities, understand what it means to be organized.

o    Keep it simple: Too many things, desires, wants, tasks, projects, avenues, ideas, creates too many distractions, lost opportunities, missing arrows: don’t let your head get too fuzzy. Just keep it simple. You can do it all – but you can’t do it all at the same time.

o    being one with the universe and its timing: might sound esoteric and airy fairy, but if you believe in a higher power, or a universal law, then you’ll understand that you don’t have to FORCE your success to come to fruition…. Most of the time, you just have to get out of your own way and let it happen, its own way, when the timing is right.

o   trust that all will be taken care of: speaks similarly to the above point, with the added notion that you need to trust in your path, your instincts, your gut, and that everything happens for a reason and it will ALL BE OK.

o   seeking no one else's approval but your own – I repeat this notion throughout this book because it’s important. Listen to others, learn from others, take feedback and advice. But at the end of the day, you are the ONLY one to approve of what you want to do and the choices you make. This is YOUR life and it will be different to anyone else’s path (you are unique).

o   Do whatever it takes to make it happen: this is very much about pursuing excellence on a daily basis. You want to not only do your best, but you want to do what it takes (within your reality and with proper reason without hurting anyone else to make it happen). You have to be willing to defend your vision and dreams to the world, and stand by it with conviction. Nothing else matters.

o   have personal freedom as the goal: it’s a lifelong journey, but freedom is truly an amazing place to arrive to, either far away in the future, or little glimpses of it on a daily basis.

o   create change, within and without: your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to create change in YOUR life (grow as a human being and transcend to a higher awareness of yourself) as well as CREATE CHANGE in others. This is where having a life mission comes into play. Through your artistry, you have the responsibility to create a SHIFT around you (consciousness, thoughts, etc). Think about what you write about, sing about or create about. What is it that you WANT TO SAY? What is your STORY? What do you want to change or affect in this world? Mine is a commitment to inspire passion, creativity, freedom and love in each and every one of us through my songs that I write and perform, as well as the stories and teachings I offer.

o   Take the path least traveled - no struggle - with the least resistance:  We are here for a good time, not a hard time. I like finding the path of least resistance (that doesn’t hurt me or others, or make me feel like I’m on a rollercoaster ride), yet at the same time be a DIFFERENT ROAD. I don’t want to live someone else’s life. I want to live MY life, and it’s a unique life. How I emulate that as an Artist will actually make me UNIQUE and therefore a marketable artist, with music that people will want and shows they will want to watch. BE DIFFERENT, and try new ways to navigate this amazing journey, that is your life.

All of these sound easy in writing. The reality is, it’s a life long journey of practicing warriorship. I’m still a baby at it, and that’s ok: I’m a lifelong artist so I have all my life to pursue my warriorship, my excellence, and my artistic passions: that’s why I say I’m “LIVING MY DREAM” because my dream is in the process of doing and learning it all.

Letting go of the world
The world in which we live in constantly demands our attention. It’s like a spoiled child insisting on having his say, and we are forced to succumb to it, through the television, the radio, traffic, people, and the Internet: The big “I”. We are consumed by the Internet on our computers, on our cell phones. We may as well connect an intravenous tube straight into our brain so we can download music, emails and every bit of spam the world wants to throw at us.

                But I am as much the culprit as the world is. I hanker for attention; I hunger for a new stage to express myself. I am an Artist of course. This is part of me. The music industry and all that it entails, the good, the bad… has also been part of me. I’ve been living it, feeling it, dreaming it all my life. It’s been my major ambition, to perform, to entertain, to star (from the smallest to the largest stages, I’ve wanted it all.) I don’t think that’s bad. It just is… inate: the desire to be heard, to communicate to the world, and to have one’s music enjoyed; and out of all that, maybe create some change on this planet. Who knows?
But there is a time to turn it all off, even just for a moment. It is really important to take time out to just “be”. I have a song called “Be” on my album, “The Stillness”, that goes like this:-
I wanna swim in the sun
I wanna dance in the rain
I wanna feel our hearts beating the same
I wanna be with you….
I am ready this time around, to just… be….

Are you ready to just “be”? Are you able to take a moment and listen to your heart beat, or feel the breath you breathe in and out? Do you know how to stop and take a break? Go for a walk, a swim, a horse ride? Make sure that in the doingness of your lives, you can ‘undo’ even for a moment, but regularly, to just be….. still. It’s in this stillness, this emptiness that dreams percolate like a good stew or spaghetti sauce. Sometimes the ingredients aren’t the ones YOU create with all your might. Often the magic happens in your life when you’re not looking. So stop watching the kettle boil, and go out and play. (Heck do it right now. Take a moment away from this book for 10 minutes and go watch the sun, rain or whatever weather outside.
10 minutes. Count it.

Ok did that feel?


          Letting go of what you’re supposed to feel…
Forever in my dreams I’ve been restless… until today. I am still. Even as I carry out the motions of everyday living, being and doing, I am still. Meaning, I am calm and present, and happy with where I am. I can look back and say, “Hey, It’s been OK. I’ve had a great year. I am in a good place.”  I couldn’t say this before. I was too restless, always wanting more, always being my own self critique and saying, “well, it was an OK year, but next year will be better, as long as I do this, this and this.” Now, however, I can look back in retrospect and appreciate the journey I’ve traveled, and be happy with where I am at this point in time.

                I can also see what lies ahead better. It was always a fog, looking ahead. Now I feel the peace, and feel the abundance. I am amazed at how calm I am able to accept my own fortitude and prosperity.

                This is not something one would normally go around exploiting, one’s own sense of abundance. They might think you’re up yourself, without looking at the major concerns of the world. I mean, how can you feel so abundant, when there are all these major crises on the planet, perhaps even in your own neighborhood, in your own family?

                Here lies the problem. Many people don’t allow themselves to be thankful for a certain prosperity (not necessarily monetarily) that they have, feeling guilty because others don’t have it. This is one of the problems of ambition. Sometimes we don’t realize our dreams because we don’t feel we deserve it, and it’s not so much because of our own capabilities, but by the pressure around us that we face. If we see some people living on the street, or war in Iraq, or our own family may work in dead-end jobs, sometimes that influences our own potential. We get caught up in their circumstances, their perceptions and reality.

                But this is your reality. YOUR STORY. We will constantly face challenges in the world, but the most important challenge is for us as human beings to become “enlightened”. For, if every individual could do that, we wouldn’t need Amnesty International or Greenpeace, or soldiers fighting on foreign soil.  We would all be at peace with one another. In our own backyard, we would be able to achieve what we wanted, without criticism, because everyone would feel achievement for themselves.

                I know, it’s a big topic, and I certainly don’t want to make this book about global change (though I’ve thought about writing a book about that.) What I mean to show through this is how effective it is to truly be comfortable in your own skin, and not be so affected by, dependent on the world in order to achieve personal and creative greatness.

                By all means, don’t ignore what’s going on in the world. In fact, through your creativity, you can create change and healing. But it’s important to not collapse into being a victim of your circumstances.

                Being a warrior Artist in this world today means you need more tenacity than ever before. Most of it comes from your inner ability to cut away from the throng of exterior influences, and to remain connected to your inner dreams and goals: your inner voice.

          Letting go of expectations
Having a certain detachment to the “business/industry” side of things helps too.

Previously, every spark of joy was defined by achievements I made in the music industry. It was like a drug. I needed to have a great gig, or produce an awesome album, and then sell a certain quota, and many other things… in order to feel fulfilled. But now I have detached myself from that notion. I am no longer beholden to my successes to make me happy. It is part of me, but it doesn’t own me.

                I don’t need even my Artistry to make me happy. That’s a hard one to really fathom, as Artists are so connected to their Art, of course. But if something doesn’t occur with your Art, are you going to be disappointed, or even depressed?

There’s liberation from not being so dependent on your Art. I’ve had to let go of a lot of notions about my Artistry in order to feel joy. Otherwise I could be majorly depressed. I’ve had feelings of my Art holding me captive, and if I don’t do something with it, or if it doesn’t feed me, then I feel like I have failed my mission in life. This feeling is almost a co-dependent relationship, just like any love relationship that creates disharmony. 

Here are some examples:
v  Feeling the need to write a song every day or regularly, and if not, feeling bad about it.

v  Feeling the need to practice your instrument every day, and if not, feeling like you’ll lose your “touch”.
v  Beating ourselves up (metaphorically speaking of course) over not doing enough in one day, whether that’s creative, like practicing, performing or writing; or business wise, like emailing, phone calls, or connecting with people on our huge to do list.
v  Having a certain expectation that our Artistry (music, writing or otherwise) needs to make us financially self-sufficient. i.e., earning our income solely, or at least mostly, from our Artistry. I don’t see a problem with making a living from our Art. It’s usually the goal. But to have the expectation can cause enormous psychological pressure for us in the years (and it can take years) before we start getting that.
v  Having an expectation that our gigs, every single one of them, should give us the ultimate high and that we should feel fulfilled by it and loved from our audience. Some gigs are just a means to an end or could be fulfilling to some but maybe not to you. They may feel disappointing based on your expectation (whether it was filling the room, or selling a certain amount of CDs or not making mistakes on your playing), but yet could have possibly been rewarding in a far different way and you just didn’t realize it. Maybe one person went away from that gig and years later becomes your record company exec and remembered you back then, or maybe you changed a person’s life by hearing your emotional love song. Who knows

v  Having an expectation that we have to be just as successful as other artists we see in those glossy magazines, or even that other indie artist you met at the conference. You are different. You are unique. Don’t even start comparing yourself.  And please don’t even start to think you’re not as talented as someone else. Firstly, talent is individual and unique (what you offer is different to what they offer), and secondly, talent is not really what got them to a level of success that you might be envious or desiring of (there are so many factors that go into commercial success: for one, who you know. Secondly, loads of money (I’m talking hundreds and hundreds of thousands), and who you know, amongst other weird things like timing, being at the right place at the right time (whatever “right” means, ‘cause it may not be ‘right’ for you).

                As far as I’m concerned, the least attachment we have to our Artistry and the music business, to success, and to OTHERS… the better. One reason is because most of what happens around us is out of our control. So why try and control it?

gilli moon's silent warrior:
The silent warrior is in all of us. it's not about war, nor fighting and definitely not about struggle.
it's about an inner peace and a whole lot of courage to face all fears in un-chartered waters, finding the path least travelled and at the same time, finding the path of least resistance.  I take responsibility for myself. I follow a preserved set of personal freedoms. I am not without flaw, and in tolerating that I see and use my strengths. The warrior, the Artist, the professional, can only be effective when free to make decisions on their own.  The biggest secret is to do what you love most. Take on the Zen spirit!  I am a warrior girl and I encourage everyone to tap into their warrior within.

gilli moon

New album by gilli moon, “The Stillness"


  1. Anonymous10:21 AM

    Great stuff!
    It seems that an artist has to strive to liberate oneself from other activities that day to day life impinges on us... to be free to create.
    Like the imprisonment of daily/yearly chores versus finding that elusive time to be free creatively.
    You never know when you may get that chance but seeking that freedom is an earnest endevour.
    It's hard to survive and find the time when your creativity doesn't pay the rent, many established artists have found the key to making their income from their creations but that's only from initial hard work or... luck!
    Finding the balance is the key.

  2. How ironic Gilli, that my voice teacher used to tell me "Discipline is the key to freedom!" Being willing to end a familiar life in L.A. & relocate to Nashville, I wrote my song "Home Of The Brave (Born To Be Free)" to reinforce my faith that I'd done the right thing. It's a perfect message for Warrior Girls like us. Even though years later I'm back where I started (in L.A.) I owe this special tune to that move and willingness to take risks. You can hear it at this link: