“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun” ― Pablo Picasso
It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a blog. For whatever reason, I just didn’t feel the need to check in. Sometimes, I need to just checkout. Regardless, of the fact, that it’s been drilled into me that silence on the internet = death. I still can’t embrace the ethos of just writing, so I don’t disappear.
So, what have I been doing these long months? I’ve been busy doing something I’ve never done before in my life. For the first time ever, I’ve been focusing, in earnest, on something other than music. These past 6 months or so I’ve been focusing on my jewelry collection.
I’m kinda old school when it comes to focus. I have to do one thing at a time. I’m the opposite of a multi-tasker. I’m pretty sure this is because I’m mildly dyslexic and it was left undiagnosed as I a child. Make no mistake, they knew I had a reading disability. It’s just, no one could figure out what kind of reading disability, let alone help me with it.
This meant, that as a child, I had to come up with painstaking systems to learn how to read and write. It’s too long to explain in detail. So, just imagine if you will, every time you need to read something, you have to read each word individually, and then string the words, one by one together, breaking the sentence down by sections, till it flows like a whole sentence. Once it flows, read that sentence five times till you understand it. Now do the same thing with next sentence. Then go back to the first sentence and read it in relation to the second sentence. Now read both sentences three times together till you understand both sentences and how they might be related. Now, keep doing that, always doubling back on the last sentence. If after doing this you still can’t understand a sentence, move onto the next sentence; till finally, you’ve read a paragraph, then a page, then a chapter, then a book. Every book was a daunting and arduous task. There were rare occasions when, as challenging as it was, I did enjoy a book but mostly, books just meant work.
Needless to say, while technically I did read most of what was required in school, my comprehension was mediocre at best. This problem, prompted a second system I had to create. That system required analyzing classroom discussions and asking questions, in such a way, that I could garner enough information about the book, to piece together all the jumbles parts, (that I had just kind of skipped over, to get through the book); without revealing how much I may have missed and didn’t understand. Ultimately, these strategies paid off, because I wound up going to college and becoming a Philosophy major. This baffles a lot of people but I’m pretty sure the reasons for this were two-fold.
First, the topics of philosophy fascinated me, God, the meaning of existence, the nature of reality, morality, etc. Second, I think my logic was, if I have to do all this reading anyway, (which is really hard), then I might as well read something worth reading. What I loved the most were the class discussions; and they were beyond a necessity, given all the jumbled parts I had to skip over. It’s also one of the few majors where [barring Logic 101] questions, rather than answers, are what constitute engagement, and there is very little in the way of a definitive right answer; just a whole lot of interpretations. Given my learning strategies, this was like heaven in an academic discipline. Ultimately, as an adult I became an avid reader. If there is one thing I am grateful to my ex-husband for, it is the gift he gave me, of teaching me how to enjoy reading.
I tell you all this because I wanted to give you a picture of just how, (and why), I can be so intensely single minded. Perhaps, help you to understand why I can’t; plan a tour, record a new CD, develop a product line, continually re-book local shows, work social networks, simultaneously plan and implement promotional strategies, write blogs, write songs, make jewelry, do home spun video’s, do whatever I can to endear people to me, (when I’m not particularly endearing), respond to e-mails and text messages, and work a day job all at the same time.
I like goals and end games. I like to work on something and see it completed and until it’s completed it’s difficult for me to really focus on something else. This causes something of a perception problem in terms of an on-line presence, particularly in the realm of “active and engaged” singer-songwriter. Since, I’m beginning to see, that there is no end game on the internet. It’s just a continual stream of consciousness, a continual spiral of the next thing, and the next thing, and go back and improve the last thing, and the next thing….
Honestly, the hardest hurdles for me in the past few years have been trying to find a goal – or even a destination – to take my music. I need an end game. And the entire industry just looks like one big money pit to me. I see very few opportunities, [for genuinely independent artists] that will garner an artist any real or meaningful visibility, let alone leverage. The most disturbing development to me, is seeing so many artists and musicians, who are beginning to look, more and more, like politicians, and less, and less, like anyone I believe in or trust. This single-mindedness spills over into my identity as well.
All of my adult life I’ve had one fixed identity. It has never varied. I am a singer-songwriter. I sing and write songs; anything else I have ever done was not me. It was me (the singer) acting like a teacher. It was me, (the songwriter) acting like a house painter. It was me, (the musician) acting like a cocktail waitress. Whatever I was doing, it wasn’t me. It was just the stunt double I ushered in to do whatever needed to be done to survive.
In this time, there has only ever been one exception to this rule. Because, I am also a professional Tarot card reader and when I’m doing that. I’m not acting. Then again, when I am doing that, “I” don’t exist and “I” don’t matter. Not to sound completely trite, but the truth is, the only way to read tarot cards well is to “be a vessel” and make your ego disappear.
Reading Tarot cards professionally, over the years, has given me a unique perspective on the human psyche. Through it I understand, without judgment, a myriad of things I don’t think I would have garnered insight on. Those insights have become invaluable to me as a songwriter. It’s helped me to better understand the human condition, universal hopes, dreams and desires. I’m beginning to see how those insights may also be the reason I am learning how to diversify my notions of what constitutes “my identity” .
It gets driven into us that we can only be one thing at time. When in fact, becoming something else, may ultimately complement the first identity, so both identities walk in tandem, seamlessly, rather than in contradiction, or cancellation of one another.
In full disclosure, originally, I started making jewelry just to make more money. That was it. Make some pretty things, hock them at my gigs, and walk away with a little extra cash. Of course, I always strove to make beautiful jewelry, and (even at the start) my jewelry had “a look”.
The Stefanie Fx Collection: Keychain
A look, I’ve come to realize, that is intricately linked with my spirituality, which I’ve also discovered, is intricately linked to my music. A friend of mine who, shall I say, is more capitalist minded than I, took one look at my jewelry and said, “Stefanie, I’m sold. This is brilliant. This is a Brand”. A brand?…Hmm, why he’s right! It is a brand! It is a brand! I then set to work at building my “brand”. This wasn’t too difficult to do since, toss a stone; and you’ll find a singer-songwriter, actor or celebrity developing, a product line [i.e. a brand]. But recently, I’ve come to realize my jewelry is so much more than a brand. It’s more than a brand because I make it myself.
It’s not a T-shirt I designed, and then tossed to a silk screener to make. It’s not a pendent necklace I designed, and tossed to jeweler to caste. It’s not a fragrance idea, I described and tossed to a perfume maker to mix and develop. It’s not just a product I attach my name to, and make available, so you can feel like your part of my tribe; and forward my cause, which for most artist, is themselves.
Every single piece of jewelry I sell, I make with my own hands. I string the beads, my fingers touch and arrange and rearrange, each and every bead in each and every design. There’s energy in that; and I only use natural stones, and there’s energy in that too.
I’m beginning to see my jewelry, as if each one is a song. The most beautiful thing about it is, metaphorically, I have the ability now to write a completely unique and individual song for each and every person who wears the jewelry I make.
Red Jasper necklace and earring set: The Stefanie Fix Collection
It’s like I can string a song around your neck and everywhere you go people will see it. And it’s not my song. It’s your song, your melody, and your version of what is true and beautiful. Each piece is unique; and even on those occasions when I make more than one of the same design, no two are exactly alike (because I’m using natural stones), and stones are like people. All made up of the same molecules but each one, forms in its own unique way.
My last blog was about artists and musicians finding ways to survive in the “new frontier” where, eventually, no one is going to be willing to really pay for music. When I wrote that I was coming up with the idea of a brand. What’s astounding is, you can come up with one idea that follows convention; like create a product line or a brand.
But if you’re willing to take it a step further; you may just find that you can use that conventional idea to come up with something way beyond anything the original idea had to offer.
All my life I’ve been a singer-songwriter, one cause, one direction. Anything else I put my energy toward, felt like energy being taken away from what mattered to me most. As soon as I allowed myself to see that giving time, and even priority to my jewelry does not, somehow make me less of a singer-songwriter, I was free. I can do that in good conscious because I’m making something, other than music, that I believe in. And that realization changes everything.
I feel good about selling you that jewelry because I make it, with my own hands. And I can take that money and go sing my songs, and make my music, and now, I can give that music back to you. It’s a business model where I invest in you, as much as you invest in me, symmetry.
When you grow up with a learning disability that no one knows how to help you with, you have to come up with unique strategies, to successful master rudimentary tasks, that are seemingly effortless to other children. There were a lot of times when I was a kid, that I wondered if “learning disability” was just everyones polite way of saying, “stupid, retard”. Actually, I didn’t wonder it, I knew it.
I also know now, that while I still don’t appreciate what that did to my self-esteem. I do know, it taught me that you fail hundreds of times before you ever succeed, even once. I do know, it taught me how to remain driven, determined, and focused when something was hard or even, seemingly impossible to do. Because there is nothing, absolutely nothing, you aren’t capable of learning. I do know, in those hundreds of times when you’re failing, people will doubt your abilities, dismiss your efforts, and assess your worth, based on paradigms that may or may not be relevant to the way you need to something.
In spite of all the New Age gurus who will tell you the contrary; resistance isn’t always put before you to tell you that you’re going in the wrong direction. Sometimes, resistance is put before you because you need to come up with a solution to a problem no one has taught you how to solve. It is at this junction, where finally, you’re only recourse is to rely, utterly and completely, on your own imagination. That is the moment when you step out of the confines of what you’ve been taught is possible; and leap into the world where you create the possibilities and truly become, the author of your own life.
Find out more about Stefanie’s Jewelry: The Stefanie Fix Collection on Etsy