Something Worth Fighting For?

My whole life changed when I started working with business coaches. For me, it was like finding an oasis in a desert. I suddenly had someone who could help me find answers to my questions.  I’ve studied with some of the best in the country at this point.  Funny, though, how the basic questions persist. 

Why am I here?  

What’s MY point?

Today, my coach asked me the following question:  

What is your ‘something worth fighting for?’

Wow.

I mean, I’m a former tomboy from West Virginia. I’ll pull my hair back and take my earrings out if you insult my brother. I can talk about my family, but if you do, I’ll ‘whoop’ your hiney.  I know all about being scrappy. We used to gather in Heck’s parking lot to watch fights when I was in high school (yes, I understand how wrong this is now and most certainly do not condone it.)

What is worth fighting for?

But, in real life, as a mature and successful adult, what is my ‘something worth fighting for?’ The real thing. The one thing I’m here to do.

I’ll be talking more about my purpose over the coming weeks. It’s taken a lot of time and soul searching to accept, but you can ask my gang (Jeanne, Skye, Susana, Trista, Jo and Becky), I’ve landed on it and I’m crazy passionate about it.

It has taken a lifetime to wade through the gunk, but I’m finally seeing how my unique and exact set of circumstances have set me up to lead a conversation for change in our global community.  It is daunting and awesome at the same time.  It is humbling and empowering, and it is imperfectly perfect.

As I work to put the right words together (stay tuned–this one is big!), I’d like to ask you the same question my coach asked me:

What is YOUR ‘something worth fighting for?’


To Your Adventure,

-b

 

 

Celebrating Sue for the Fun of It

I tried to count the number of chart topping songs, cuts, awards and accolades that this group of songwriters have created over the past several years.  I couldn’t do it. Hundreds and hundreds of them, and no, I’m not exaggerating for the story of it.  We got together to celebrate Sue C. Smith (in the center) last week because that’s what friends do. 

Sue is one of the first people I ever co-wrote with, she and I have had several cuts and even a #1 song together. None of that matters, though, when compared to the friendship–no, the FAMILY–she has given to me.  I am honored to call her friend.  Click here to read more about Sue and just one of the ways she pours back into the community.

Your challenge for this week?  Celebrate someone who inspires you.  Just for the fun of it.

To Your Adventure,

Belinda

Ashley Judd’s Puffy Face Moment: Here’s Mine

Richard Drew

 

Ashley Judd rocks.

My impression of Ashley has always been that she is a smart woman, and I’ve always liked her work.  I was thinking about her today and I have to say that no matter in what I context I see her, she’s always a bright spot for me.

Ashley took issue with an interviewer who commented on her ‘puffy face’ by writing a brilliant op-ed piece in the Daily Beast. If you haven’t read it, read it here.

Tonight as I watched her interview, and when she invited women to talk about their “puffy face” moment, I have to admit that I can hardly narrow down to just one.

However, because I’m so moved by Ashley’s ‘accidental’ platform, I’m going to tell you about what I would characterize as my biggest “puffy face” moment.

I grew up with certain musical role models. If I were naming names, and I’m not, I could give you three singers who influenced my every move from about the time I was nine years old. I tried to sing like them, I wore my hair like them, I tried to dress like them and I even tried to copy their speaking accent.  I learned how to sing harmony from wearing out their cassettes (yes, cassettes). Ultimately, I was just a kid, but my entire life direction was set in motion by my looking up to these women.

After college, and through a strange series of events, I got an opportunity to sing on stage at an event that one of these women was hosting. It was going to be a dream come true. I was beyond excited. No, I didn’t still copy my life after Her, but I did have a special place for her in my heart. I was so proud to be included.

The night came and fell pretty flat on the awesome-scale. I was mostly treated like an annoyance. I remember having to find a random room with an outlet where I could plug in a curling iron, I had to use my compact  mirror, and I had to change in the public bathroom. On the other hand, She had a dressing room and a professional make-up artist. She kept a good distance from me for the whole evening.

That was fine, I thought. I’m just learning how all this works, right?

After a little more time went by, I was told that She had said that she would never sing on a stage with me because I was too fat.

What?

She would never sing on stage with me because I was too fat.

And you know what? I was too fat. My hair was naturally huge and I hadn’t figured that all out, especially with no access to a mirror. I couldn’t wear high heels on her stage because my foot is paralyzed and I can’t. I wasn’t exactly the most gorgeous package going at that time.

I didn’t have an image with which she wanted to align her stage persona. I felt like she had told everyone around me that I was fat and ugly, and that they were all uncomfortable in the knowing. She hurt my feelings in a way that it still hurts all these years later.

But, I could sing. So I was a gross human being, I could carry a tune!

However, when I heard the recording of the night later, my entrance was obnoxiously overdubbed by Her.

I guess you could say that a woman I had trusted for years had torn me down to the point that I no longer had confidence in the direction I’d thought I was supposed to go. In the way she treated me based on my physical appearance, I felt like she was the meanest of the mean. To this day, the only solace I find in the whole story is that I’m thinner than she is now.

And you know what? This whole story and every part of it, hers and mine, are both just us playing into the junk we have been fed by society. Ashley says it well here:

I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public. 

We do experience brutal criticism.

We experience it at the hands of each other.

And we’re guilty of dishing it out.

Women, I think we can do better.

I’ll go first.

To Your Adventure,

Belinda

The Single Best Way to Get What You Want


I was at a lunch meeting with some particularly successful and powerful women. 

You know how you can just tell when someone at the table would like the salt passed to them? You know that whole non-verbal thing that happens? When they don’t want to interrupt the discussion so they just act uncomfortable until finally someone notices and hands it over?

Well, Lauren wanted the salt (name changed to protect Lauren’s identity). It was just out of her reach.

As the lively discussion carried on, she did the entire routine we all do when we need a condiment we cannot politely reach.  Honestly, Lauren’s performance was pure perfection. If an award existed for a, “Non-Verbal Please Pass the Salt Routine,” Lauren would have totally won it.  It was so silently compelling that I almost got up myself and took her some from my end of the table.

However, her Salt Gatekeeper didn’t seem to notice. She kept right on talking and laughing as if nothing were happening.

Salt Gatekeeper is a beautiful woman of about sixty, and she runs a highly successful company. Salt Gatekeeper is impressively on top of things, and what I would call a ‘mover and a shaker’ in town. She lives on a fortune of great decisions, and she is well-liked by everyone. It was actually almost weird that she didn’t catch Lauren’s plea for salt.

Finally, Lauren gave up and started eating without it.

However, in a matter of minutes, I watched Lauren’s countenance go from ‘So Happy to Be Here’ to ‘I Hate Everyone and Everything.’

Her entire mood changed.  She withdrew from the conversation, she stared at her plate, and she slumped her shoulders. It was so noticeable (finally, she got noticed!) that Salt Gatekeeper asked her a pointed question. It was an obvious attempt to draw her into the conversation.

Lauren just shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”

She didn’t participate in the rest of the meeting.

At all.

Really.                                                                    

She pouted for the rest of the lunch.

Over salt.

As we left the fabulous restaurant, Salt Gatekeeper reached for Lauren’s arm.  She  looked her dead in the eyes and said, “Honey, if you don’t learn to ask for what you want, you’re never going to get it.” 

With that, she turned on her heel, got in her big, shiny Mercedes and drove away.

What’s the best way to get what you want?

Ask for it.

Now, pass the salt and point me to my awesome new car.

 

To Your Adventure,

Belinda

In Business and Creativity: When Possibility Happens

A few days ago, I was having dinner with a friend.  She said, “Belinda, there is a momentum around you right now.  What are you doing?”

A momentum!

Cool.

Without really thinking about my answer, I said, “I’m encouraging people, and it’s what I was put here to do. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”

I started Belinda Smith Creative because I wanted to make it official, but the truth is I’m not doing anything that I didn’t already do. I’m a born-encourager and I get real joy out of seeing people surprise themselves in magnificent ways. 

I asked my friend about her business, and as she began to tell me how she was running it—or more accurately how her business was running her–I gave her three ideas about where she could make money now with just a little effort.  I was just brainstorming on the spot, but I could completely tell when ‘possibility’ happened for her. 

The moment she realized that she could work a little differently (not more) and get faster and better results, her entire countenance changed. A light bulb actually came on in her head. 

My ‘possibility’ happened when I created my songwriter Tune-Up academy. 

When I decided to leave all the old models I knew behind and create the program I personally believed in, I wasn’t sure if anyone would get on board.  I’m elated that regional writers ARE on board and they are changing their thoughts and their communities.  It was a risk, but it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

We get so stuck in our own ways of doing things that sometimes it is hard to move our own thoughts out of the old patterns. 

 I’ve done it in my business, and I’ve done it in my songwriting.

 If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.

My challenge to you this week is to find one thing in your life that needs a little prodding forward and take action toward making a change.

  • If you want to start exercising, start walking.
  • If you want to finish a song, then take the week and finish one.
  • If you need to find some new and meaningful song ideas, then sign up for my Free Creativity Lesson (you’ll be surprised how many ideas you’re missing).

Do something to move yourself forward this week, and this time next week you’ll feel AMAZING!

 

To Your Adventure,

 Belinda

 

p.s. Let me know how it goes!

To Dreams Coming True

Wow!
What a few weeks it has been. My first LIVE record was released (Belinda Smith Live: Time Machine) and I played Mountain Stage, two huge milestones for me. Two crazy dreams came true in a matter of two days.

Mountain Stage with Larry Groce has been a part of West Virginia public broadcasting since 1983. You can hear it each week on NPR. Mountain Stage is “where musicians come to play.”

To be included in the roster of musicians who have ‘come to play’ was an honor this native West Virginian could hardly process.  At the show I was invited to play, my set was dead in the middle of an amazing line up including Whitehorse, the Ryan Montbleau BandNewfound Road and Martin Sexton.

Ryan Kennedy tore up the guitar part on, "Hallelujah." Amazing.

There’s something extraordinary about sharing the stage with so many deeply talented musicians. It makes you take it up a notch, really, because you feel beautifully obligated to do your absolute best.  I’ve played in a lot of cool places with a lot of cool people, but this was a new height.
I wish for you the opportunity to have such a night become a reality.  
To Your Adventure,
Belinda
p.s.  Oh, the link to where you can buy my CD, Belinda Smith Live: Time Machine.  Right! Well, you can get it on iTunes or you can get it here.

The One Critical Thing You Must Remember as a Songwriter

In a recent interview, I was asked, “Belinda, if there is one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?”

Background

I’ve been a professional writer in Nashville for fifteen years. We are a town of writers and dreamers,  and the energy is magnetic.  The creative energy has attracted so many of us that we’re practically tripping over each other.

Have you heard this one?

How do you find a songwriter in Nashville?
Just raise your voice and say, “Waiter!”

I love being around writers all the time and my experiences have run the gamut.

I’ve been in rooms with people who couldn’t carry a tune in a dump truck and couldn’t be convinced otherwise, and I’ve hung out with the best of the best. In my opinion, songwriters are the greatest people (insert my own bias here).

 After living in this amazing writer’s community, I have noticed one thorn which consistently competes for a writer’s attention:  NEGATIVITY.

A few years back, a successful songwriter friend of mine told me he felt like he was living in a black cloud. No matter where he went, people were complaining.  “Nobody’s happy about anything!” 

After he said that, I started paying attention, and, as it turns out, he was right. 

Soon after our conversation, I wrote down in my notebook all the complaints I heard in one day at a publishing house where I was writing.  I found the notebook last night.  Here are just a few I wrote down:

  • [That artist] wouldn’t know a hit if it hit her over the head.
  • I’m so tired of my songs not getting demoed.
  • I hate the way they demoed my song.
  • My publisher just doesn’t get me.
  • I can’t get anything on the radio.
  • Everything on the radio these days is [mindless stupidity].  (Keeping the G-rating, gang.)

And on and on and on and on. 

It’s so easy to get into a negative mindset as a creative person because the truth is sometimes an artist doesn’t know a hit. And sometimes our songs don’t get demoed, and sometimes our publisher doesn’t get it. And everyone complains about what gets played on radio unless it is their song (that’s just a general rule of thumb). 

There are so many things to complain about.  There are legitimate gripes, too. I get it.

There’s also one thing to remember, though, and that’s what brought us to writing in the first place.

Magic 

There is a certain magic that happens in the true moments of writing something new. You know that feeling you get in your gut, the one that makes you forget everything else for just a moment and focus on the song that’s coming out of you.  In those moments of pure writing, everything else gets lost.

I started writing because I love that feeling.  I love the fact that I can think of things to write, and when I’m finished, there’s something where there was nothing. 

It is magic.

 And so what is the one piece of advice I would give to an aspiring writer?

 We write because we’re writers. 
All the rest of the stuff is NOT the writing.  It’s just stuff. 
Whatever you do, do not get the two things mixed up.

Fiercely, and I mean FIERCELY, guard the magic of writing.

To Your Adventure,

Belinda

 

 

Five Excellent Questions for Writers to Worry About

Five Excellent Questions Writers Worry About
Worry: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts;fret. (dictionary.com)
If there were sashes and tiaras to be awarded for being the Best Worrier, I would have a collection.  I would have a title for every day of the week for every week of the year.  

I am an excellent worrier when I set my mind to it.  I can deeply and profoundly worry about the color of my living room wall and the lack of color on my bathroom wall. I can worry about whether my grass is going to grow in the spring and whether I am living the life I am supposed to be.   I can worry that I’ll never write another song again, and I can worry that no one will ever write with me again.  ALL IN THE SPAN OF TWO MINUTES.

Yes, gang, I could be the Homecoming Queen of the University of Worry.  

The good news is that I’m in recovery.  Step by step, a little at a time, I’m learning how to STOP the absurdity.  I’m starting to let go of my responsibility to take care of the entire world and everything it holds.  As it turns out, the Savior has come, and it is not me.  

Whew!

When I look at the definition of ‘worry’ and it includes the word ‘torment,’ I totally get it.

Worry is torment.

So, in order to give myself some perspective, I started replacing the word “worried” with “tormenting myself.”  For example, if my old sentence was I’m worried about that, my sentence now is I’m tormenting myself about that.

I know that worry is wasted energy. I’m intelligent enough to see that I can worry all day about something and it is not going to help the situation.  Regardless, I still do it.  However, I’ve realized that switching the word ‘worrying’ out for ‘tormenting myself’ changes my perspective. I have no interest in tormenting myself.  Do you?

Torment sounds so dramatic.
And no one likes a drama queen.

If You Insist

Here is my list of five excellent questions you as a writer can torment yourself with, though, if you insist.  These are questions we all ask, and questions which are brilliant time-wasters. If you’re looking to be more popular at the University of Worry, these are the top five tormentors.  

(I’ve also included my answers in case worrying is getting boring and you’d like to move on.  Further, I’ve included a gratuitous shot of Bernice as a puppy purely for manipulative purposes.)  

1. Am I crazy for pursuing writing?

Yes.  

Welcome to our club.

2. Who am I to think my words matter?

Who are you not to think they matter?

3.  Am I a good enough writer?

Keep writing and you’ll find out.

4.  What if I never get published?

Writers write.

5. Do I look fat today?

Did you look fat yesterday? Well, there’s your answer.


Why don’t you try replacing the word “worry” with “torment” for the next 30 days.  Just see if it makes you feel as ridiculous as it does me.  Then, take all that new mental space and focus on something good and positive.  I bet you’ll love the results.

To your adventure–

Belinda  

I’ve Made a Decision

Already Decided

I watched an interview with a famous actress, and she was telling the interviewer about how she had decided early in her career that she would not do nudity. She consciously made the decision

so that when the question came up, she would already know the answer. She did not want to be swayed from her core values in a moment of pressure.

Sure enough, she was soon auditioning for a role of a lifetime–the role which would put her opposite a major Hollywood star and take her movie career to a new level–and there were love scenes in the movie. When she was asked about nudity, she already knew her answer: no.

She was still offered the role.
She is now an Academy Award winning actress.

Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal constitution. What are those questions which I can answer for myself (or have answered for myself) that will make going forward simpler?

One article of my constitution is that I will only say ‘yes’ to opportunities which will make my life more fun and more enjoyable.

Not too long ago, I was approached with an ‘opportunity for advancement.’ It was a nice gesture, and I appreciated being considered. However, the ‘opportunity for advancement’ was completely incongruent with the direction of my life.  So, my ‘no, thank you’ was a no-brainer.

The offer essentially translated to a little more money, a new fancy title, less time to write, and less time to work with my students in Belinda Smith Creative.  The position would also bring a LOT more stress.

There was a time when I would’ve given a lot of thought to all the reasons why I should accept the offer.

I would’ve spent days laboring over the pro’s and con’s, called several friends and wasted precious time worrying about whether I was really sure I was making the right decision.

Now that I’ve decided to say ‘yes’ only to opportunities which will make my life more fun and enjoyable, saying no to the offer took exactly two seconds:  No, thank you.
Period.
The end.

Making decisions when you already know the answers is so much simpler.

You

When you think about your life, are there decisions you can make today? Decisions you can make right now so that when the questions are asked of you, you already know the answer?

I challenge you to make a list this week of three questions you can answer ‘yes’ to and three to which you can answer ‘no.’

To Your Adventure,

Belinda

Who Brings You Flowers?

A few months ago, I was standing in Kroger near the floral section thinking, “Wow, I would love to justify some fresh flowers today.” They all looked so happy and bright and awake. I wanted that in my home. But, really, flowers are things other people give to you, or for special events, right? You don’t just buy flowers for yourself.

You don’t just buy flowers for yourself.

How lame.

But in the time it took to push my cart from the frozen foods aisle to the soda aisle, I stopped waiting for people to give me flowers and started getting my own.  And that’s a tiny bit of the weekly budget that I’d fight for now.

Why?

Because we really should be kinder to ourselves.

To Your Adventure,

Belinda

Creativity Tune-Up starts January 16th!
Email me for your application today at belindasmithcreative@gmail.com.
The creativity academy is the workshop every aspiring songwriter needs to take. This workshop will get you engaged, motivated, inspired and writing all at the same time.  I had put my writing on hold for almost a year and this was the jumpstart I needed to get back into a creative mode and start writing songs again.  The assignments are challenging and best of all they stretch your creativity.  As a result of this workshop I now put my writing as a priority, have a renewed enthusiasm and excitement, and most importantly feel I am a real songwriter. —Patricia Blanchard, Songwriter, Pennsylvania