I continually ask myself, "what is progress?" Sometimes, I feel like I have the answer: the tangibles. More shows, more recordings, more press, more... and the list goes on. And then I think a little harder... Most recently, I've begun to think that progress is actually the act of increasing your happiness one step at a time. Maybe that comes in the form of little changes or maybe it's bigger life changes.
I've been pretty quiet here at Bethel Steele headquarters and on the music scene locally... pretty much since my last blog post in March. I've been playing shows in the greater New England area, but focusing on staying home, writing music and trying to find my center. (Sorry to get all new-age-y on you there at the end, but it's true.)
2013 was a really fabulous year for me musically - I was awarded an Iguana Grant from Club Passim to work with youth, got to interact with some awesome and inspiring youth because of said grant, I played shows in 1/3 of the states in the US, I released a new EP, I performed at the Kerrville Folk Festival as a New Folk Finalist, I performed at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival as an Emerging Artist... and personally, I had the privilege of traveling around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for 3 weeks, remembered how much I enjoy science and got [more] addicted to coffee. Sounds like a lot of good progress, right?!
I would absolutely agree, if you didn't take into account my mental well-being. I'm not saying that I was going to take any extreme measures at any point, but I definitely experienced a fair amount of sadness, insecurity and a lot of anxiety. I was away from home for 5 months, and even when I was home I didn't "feel" like I was home. (Likely because I was so anxious about the next trip.)
I love my job as a folksinger. I love my job as a songwriter. I love that I get to travel. I love that I use my words and feelings to effect positive changes in people's lives. I love helping people feel. I love sharing my stories (even the ones that I've made up along the way).
All that said, at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014, I was completely burnt out: emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. I've spent the last 6 months (and will likely spend the next 6) trying to build a new foundation of stability in those aspects of my life, so that I can continue to enjoy music.
Don't worry, I haven't stopped playing (and I'm not going to stop playing). I definitely haven't stopped writing - in fact, at least once a month I have challenged myself to play one new song at the Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge. I'm even working on a new EP and I'm still playing shows. (In fact, I'll be doing an awesome afternoon concert on Saturday, September 20th with Joe Stevens of Coyote Grace at Passim... My first co-bill at this iconic folk venue!)
I hope you'll stick around while I'm making steady progress "remodeling" my house. I really appreciate your support and I hope that I'll see you or hear from you in the near future.