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Life Lessons Learned From A Folk Festival

Having recently spent several days in Newport at my beloved Newport Folk Festival (live music again – yay!), I’ve realized why I love it so much beyond the music. It’s about how it’s run which also dictates the amazing community (#folkfamily) that shows up faithfully year after year.

In thinking about things I’ve witnessed or experienced over my many years of dancing around the festival grounds of Fort Adams, I realize that much could be applied to the way we might want to live our lives, run our businesses or even just host our gatherings.

So here are 7 Powerful Lessons You Can Learn From A Folk Festival:

1. Don’t judge people by the way they look or act.

Say “Hi” instead of passing judgment. Your first impression might not always the best indicator of who or what a person is about. What if you simply said “Hello” or asked them a question about your common interests that brought you to this common place. My sister and I met terrific new folk friends that we are sure to stay connected to in the future simply by chatting on the ferry, at the check-in gate and while waiting for bands to take the stage.

2. Get out of your spot. You never know what might happen or who you might meet.

While staking your spot and throwing down the blanket and chairs at a festival is a typical first thing to do, don’t limit yourself to staying put in one spot, or you are certain to miss other shows, acts, people, food or scenes. Go with a sample mindset of giving everything a try if you can – it will greatly broaden your experience and your perspective.

3. Be an inspiring leader. It sets the tone for everything.

The executive producer of the Newport Folk Festival, Jay Sweet, is so meshed into the mission of continuing to the make the festival the best it can be, while carrying on 60 years of legacy, that it oozes out of every interaction he has with his team, the artists he curates, the attendees and with the public in general. He gets the best out of everyone – sometimes even more than anyone knew they could be.

4. Make sure you have a capable, fun team.

Even if you are a volunteer who has to tell people to move or clear a lane, or dump out a water bottle (if it’s not filled with water), it can be done in a fun, safe and community focused way that makes it engaging for all. Make sure your team, whether paid or volunteer, is having as much fun as the people they are supporting.

5. Over-communicate to manage expectations but still leave room for surprises.

From the first day of getting the news we had festival tickets, through the decision to cancel last year and reschedule this year, to showing up at the gate on the first day, every email, social media post and app alert from the festival organizers was clear about what was happening, what we could expect and what was expected of us, the attendees. And even though the line-up was typically announced last minute or “with surprises” that was OK because we had been told that would happen – and we even got excited guessing who might show up!

Photo by JJ and Michael Kingsbaker via Instagram.

6. Always leave room for collaboration and connection – you never know what magic might be made. 

Life shouldn’t be a solo act, it should be one of creation and connection and making things better. That’s what happens when artists from different bands, genres and locations get the opportunity to create music together and sit in on each other’s sets or even create their one-off bands (High Women, Middle Brother) or relationships. It pushes boundaries and limitations and opens up potential that often lasts well beyond a set on a stage. 

7. Fly your freak flag and/or dance like nobody’s watching.

A festival, especially this one, is one of people who are interested not only in the music but also the community. It’s a safe space, so go ahead and be you! Wear your festival outfit (or not), sing at the top of your lungs (even if it’s off key), and dance your heart away (even if your son calls it a bobble-head dance 😁 ). We only have one go around – and I can’t imagine you’ll regret it. 

And if you can’t tell by now, I love music festivals, particularly this one that I’ve been going to off and on since 1990 when I was scooping ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s cart (see pic above) where I discovered this thing that is the Newport Folk Festival. If you’re curious about going to festivals or learning more about this one, let me know. Also, check out Season 2 of this wonderful podcast called “Festival Circuit” where you’ll hear about the festival as it unfolded in real time.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what life experiences or life lessons you are learning right now!

Head over to my calendar here and let’s schedule some time to chat!

How to Create Space and Grace

I don’t remember when, where or how this phrase came into my lexicon but it’s been a very important one recently and I almost feel like it’s become a mantra, a calling, maybe even a guide.

I mean who doesn’t want more space and grace in their life – right?

Here’s what it means to me – or how I think about “space and grace”.

SPACE [time, distance]
on my calendar, in my office, for myself, with others

GRACE [OK-ness, forgiveness, no judgement, blessing]
for myself, for others, in alignment with higher powers

They feel like they need to go together – don’t they?

Are there steps or ways to allow for more space or grace in one’s life? I’m not exactly sure but this is what it’s been looking like for me:

1) Listening and honoring what I feel, in my heart. Hopefully this is more for heart and inner wisdom and less direction from fear-based ego – that hasn’t figured everything out yet – wanting things to be different but not knowing how, not sure how.
Because of all that we have been through with the pandemic (and not being able to plan), I feel like I could make it to the ½ way point of this year but had to be OK that I couldn’t figure out what the rest of this year might look like.

2) I made the personal as important as the professional. This has been a real shift over the past several years. Not allowing and permitting myself enough time, energy and focus with “personal” stuff in my life was making me crazy. It still feels a bit weird and my inner gremlins love to scold me for not being more focused on “work” but I’m learning that my heart will hurt – and I will feel totally out of whack and unaligned if I don’t make room for “space and grace” here.

3) Looking at my life calendar and taking a big view. No matter what was going to happen with CoVid, some things were going to happen this year.
On a personal level, our oldest would graduate from college, our youngest would be home for the summer from college, my husband would celebrate a big birthday – and I have some fun events that have been rescheduled this year. With work there were several projects I had committed to doing that needed finishing. And I have started to get an “inkling” of wanting to do things new and different as we emerged from CoVid… but I also knew that I needed to give this its own “space and grace”.
Acknowledging all of this – that these things need my attention, planning, emotion and true perseverance…(giving myself grace) I blocked out space on my calendar around them.
I’d like to say it was organized space where I blocked out increments of time on how exactly I would use it – but I didn’t – I haven’t achieved that level of time management zen yet. However, it did look like blocked out times on my calendar where other people couldn’t book time, when I wasn’t taking new work because I didn’t want to create overwhelm or feel unaligned with where I might be headed.
Blocking out time allowed me to work on what was in front of me, it allowed for buffer space. It also kept me from over-committing, while focused on getting a strategic task completed. When I didn’t know what I needed to do or when I simply needed TO BE – – – either by myself or with others — there was “space and grace” for that to happen.

4) Making space and grace to explore, ponder, wonder (my word of the year), think, read and listen. While I don’t know what the second half of this year or beyond will look like, I know that I can’t expect July 1st to get here and suddenly know or have an “a-ha” epiphany and it will all be clear. So I’m listening to inner wisdom (call it God, spirits, guides – I’m in for whoever has something that I need to hear). I’m wondering ALOT. I’m journaling and I’m reading. Coincidentally, I just finished The Listening Path which is an updated, shorter, actionable version of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way which has been really helpful with being open, aware, listening and exploring. I’m also (re)visiting type tests like StrengthsFinder, SparkType and Enneagram.

5) Breaking things down into steps, manageable action items and to-dos. This is soooo not my strength – but I’m getting better (grace!) Yes, I use a project management system. Yes, I have a planner and a digital calendar. Yes, I have an assistant (yay Lizzy!). But that still does not mean my days go 100% according to plan. (I’m happy if I’m making it to 75%). The biggest part is getting better at planning out the personal (vs work); like celebrations or even personal things like exercise, journaling, seeing friends, etc.

6) I’ve gotten support to stay focused and on track. I could easily throw in the proverbial towel and say that I can’t do anything right now (and on some days I can’t) – or I can spin my wheels on things that aren’t important just to feel like I am doing something. But by owning my intuitions of what I value and what I want to see happen – or at least make space to see what happens – I have a desire to move forward with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. With my assistant, an accountability group (thanks Lisa Corrado) and some amazing collaborative work partners (I am looking at you Sound Advice Strategies and the Hayvn community team), I feel supported to make things happen as well as accountable to see them through and best of all, I don’t have to figure everything out by myself.

7) I’m looking to others for help where I don’t feel support – and making space and grace for that help. Whether it’s committing to a trainer to get in better shape or finding the right business coach to help with the next phase of my work, I am excited to find someone who can help me see the things that I can’t see, understand the things I don’t know, ask the questions I’m not asking and know how to help me get to where I want to be and headed next when I can’t see they way there.

8) Space and grace allows me to connect with people I feel need to be in my life. Whether personal or work, there are certain people I’m drawn to and feel that they are meant to be in my life for some reason. I try not to analyze it but instead honor it more than a passing fancy and make a commitment to see what will come in making these connections happen.

Literally, just thinking about what “space and grace” feels like, looks like and can become has truly been a stabilizer so far this year and I look forward to seeing where it will lead.

So what about you? What are you making “space and grace” for right now? I’d love to hear what’s working (or maybe not working) for you right now as we embark on the other half of this year! Head over to my calendar here and let’s schedule some time to chat!

Reset, Restart, Return, Reopen?

How are you springing out into the rest of this year?

Whether it’s because it’s spring, the second quarter, or the fact that the world feels like it’s coming back to life, it feels like we should be planning and taking some next steps, right? 

But if I’ve learned anything over this past year of pandemic, it’s that planning can be a precarious endeavor in these times. So I’ve been very curious about how others are approaching this time of possibility. 

Here are a few interesting and useful approaches, articles, podcasts, essays and prayers that I’ve discovered this month:

Personally, I can only wrap my head around the next 2+ months and basically getting me and my family (we’ve got some milestones happening!) mentally and emotionally into summer. Over this time, though, I’d like (or I’m hoping) to be really intentional about how to make the most of the second half of 2021. 

What about you? How are you approaching this time? 

If you are trying to figure out how to best show up and be seen, let’s chat and make it happen. Head over to my calendar here and let’s schedule some time to chat!

What Is Clubhouse and Why You Should Check It Out

Resources to Help You Understand and Better Engage on Clubhouse

Yes, Clubhouse is Another. Social. Media. App.
Cue the eye roll and know that I did not want to engage either. I don’t need another thing to do (or distract me) and was happy to sit this one out. But I can’t (I’m blaming Jen Lehner) and I don’t think you should either.

It’s so accessible – audio-only – no video or no carefully crafted, beautiful, witty, meme-type posts. You can come and go – there’s no feed where people can see where you have been or what you have posted. They can only see if you are in a room in real-time (or maybe see when you were last active).

[Want to know more about how it works or how to get started check out: Clubhouse App: How To Get Started from Social Media Examiner.]

Think of Clubhouse as a virtual event or conference where you can go wherever you want, where you can listen, learn and meet like minded people and industry experts from around the globe. It’s also possible to chat, ask questions and even collaborate with peers and celebs.

You can be as passive as you want – listening in on rooms; or as active as you want – raising your hand, getting on ‘stage’ (not as scary as it sounds) or even hosting rooms and starting clubs. How you choose to use Clubhouse is up to you.

For those of you interested in learning and connecting; or focused on growing your community or sharing your expertise or thought leadership. I really think it’s worth your time to check it out.

[Need more convincing? Check out this excellent piece I wish I’d written: How to Use Clubhouse to Grow Your Reputation from Social Media Examiner.]

Yes, you can get sucked in and lose hours of time mucking around. Yes, there are loads of people on there who are shameless self-promoters and hustlers who take up too much time and space on the platform – or as A.J. Jacobs put it “It’s like a bad podcast: poorly edited and only available on single speed.”

But for every bad experience, I’ve been equally blown away in other rooms by the generosity of the moderators and speakers to share not only their time, wisdom and insight (for FREE) but to graciously offer connections, opportunities, collaborations and sometimes even work!

In truth, the rooms I’ve enjoyed the most (besides the ones I host with my indie bookstore owner sister Holland – see more below) are the rooms where I don’t really know the subject well or I’m curious to learn more or go deeper on a subject.

And that’s why I’ve been recommending Clubhouse to clients and friends (and you) because it’s a way to share your expertise and make connections in an intimate, easy engaging way! No flying to a conference to be on stage, no complicated video prep or production and no glitches trying to do collaborative virtual LIVE meetings.

[Interested in how to make Clubhouse work for you? Check out Clubhouse App for Business: What Marketers Need To Know, another great article from Social Media Examiner.]

Is it for everybody – not necessarily! But I really believe for many that Clubhouse is an innovative platform worth investing some time and strategy, especially while it is still in its relatively early stages.

At this point, Clubhouse is “invite only” and only available on iOS (Apple). I’ve got invites I can share! Let me know (email or DM) if you’d like one or go ahead and download the app to get on the waiting list. It will notify your friends who might also have invites to share.

Then come on in! I co-host a “room” every Thursday at 12:30 ET / 11:30 CT with indie bookstore owner, sister Holland Saltsman where we chat about “Books, Business & Beyond” and love to welcome folks new to Clubhouse. Here are upcoming links:

March 18th: https://www.joinclubhouse.com/event/m2QgR5e9
March 25th: https://www.joinclubhouse.com/event/m2n7bNlA

And follow us on Clubhouse to get notifications for future rooms!

I’m also thinking of offering a “Clubhouse Concierge” service or class. Would you be interested? I’d love to hear what you think about Clubhouse, if you need help figuring it out, technically or strategically – or if you’re looking for a co-moderator to help you get started!

I’m here! Set up a time for us to chat now! In the meantime, I’ll see you in ‘da club!

Are You Ready To Show Up?

Resources to Help You Show Up More Fully Online

So many good things are happening this month that can help you better show up online or onstage or in your writing. Below are several free (or nearly free) events hosted by some of my favorite people who are tops in their fields. 

Check these out…

Shine. Visibility Challenge with Nika Stewart: Feb. 15-19
Though it kicked off yesterday, it’s not too late to join Nika Stewart for her 5 Day Visibility Challenge – where she helps people with social media post ideas and holds them accountable – and she makes it fun!

Books, Business & Beyond – Clubhouse Chat: Feb 18 at 12:30pm ET
Join me and my bookselling sister Holland Saltsman for a conversation about new books, authors we love, and anything we fancy. Join us – you never know who you might meet there. 

The Art of the Big Talk with Tricia Brouk: Feb. 18-19
Do you dream of taking to the stage and getting your message out to a wider audience? Director and producer Tricia Brouk is hosting a two-day virtual event to show you how with The Art of the Big Talk. Sign up now and use the code TBFRIEND for $10 off. **I’ll also be chatting with Tricia on Facebook LIVE today at 3:15 PM ET**

Author Lab with Jenn Grace of Publish Your Purpose Press: Feb. 21-27
Are you an aspiring author looking for some direction for your book or writing project? Join publishing guru Jenn Grace for her seven days of live training in her Author Lab starting next week. 

If you are trying to figure out how to best show up and be seen, let’s chat and make it happen. Head over to my calendar here and let’s schedule some time to chat!