Tag Archives: pop

How are you coping with world chaos?

So the world is going to hell in a hand-basket it seems.

How are you coping with the current flavour of world chaos?

how to cope with world chaos mary kastle bowen island jazz pop folk soul singer-songwriterNot to make light of it of course. It’s dismal out there and the news seems to keep getting worse, doesn’t it?

But more than ever, I feel we need to be diligent. We are sensitive creative beings and just because there’s a lot of noise right now, it shouldn’t be permission for us to lose our bearings as individuals. Especially when we have information about “shock events” deliberately created to throw us off. It’s up to us to stay grounded and build up our emotional resilience, right?

It’s almost too easy to feel depressed, angry, or totally numb from helplessness. Bell now has a mental health campaign (#bellletstalk) encouraging people to talk openly about mental illness. But let’s face it, who isn’t depressed on some level? Beyond protesting and being well-informed, there’s little any of us can physically do to change the course of events. So we sit with all this info and spin ourselves into anxious circles. We check social media more than we should, and wonder not when shit is going to hit the fan, but when is shit going to hit OUR fan. I think a raised stress level in these precarious times is actually a sign of good mental health! Your gut is telling you something is very wrong and that is 100% true.   

So while pondering how to fix it is a noble thought, a better question might be “how am I going to cope with all this chaos?”

Because I don’t think shutting down is an option, and I hope you don’t think it’s one either. And thinking about the next glass of wine, obsessing over the playoffs, or zoning out on Netflix, are just other versions of that, aren’t they? Like it or not, the world needs us to rise up to the challenge of letting our lights shine. Joni said it best, “We are stardust, we are golden.”

Creating a plan or strategy for coping

You probably know by now that my strategy for coping involves a few things – meditation, journaling, making music, writing blogs (and soon-to-be books!), using mantras and affirmations, and consciously attempting to deal with my own demons so I don’t feel so threatened by everyone else’s.

To some that might feel like a lot of work. What a commitment! And yes it is, but I’m lucky that I know my demons so well at this point that there is more joy from the process than emotional turmoil. It’s very similar to exercise, way harder when you’re out of shape.

Others might be ready to dive into their own exploration but wonder just how much they need to do. They might say, “Well, I went on one retreat last spring.” Or “I did some acupuncture back in 2008.”

Well, in my experience, dabbling in self-help and alternative therapy is a step on the path to self-knowledge, but if you really want that combo to work for you, you need to dive in and test, test, test. You need to try a lot of things and work at it every day in some capacity before things really start to click. Then with a lot of pieces working together, eventually magic will start to happen. You will KNOW when it really starts to work for you because everything in your life will feel very different and not so difficult.

We are connected, like it or not

People complain about how social media and the internet is ruining us. But in my experience after meditating every day for 2.5 years and constantly facing fears and unpacking my baggage, I feel the complete opposite. I feel so connected to everyone and the life force itself that I don’t even need to open my mouth that much! (Though I do anyways…lol.) I feel you out there going through your stuff and that it’s hard and that we are very similar in so many ways. I hear how much people are suffering and how much we need to cultivate inner strength and resilience to confidently OWN our voices and paths in life. So many of us are afraid to show our true colours, but maybe it’s because we don’t have the tools to shape our colours in ways that will intrigue people rather than scare them away. Maybe it’s actually a skill gap.

Some will inevitably argue that it’s #whiteprivilege or #canadianprivilege that we have the opportunity to meditate and journal and face inner demons while millions are dealing with external ones that are very real and scary. I could use that as an excuse to bury my head in the sand. But what I really want to do is use that privilege and put it to good use.

So, think about it – how are you coping with world chaos?

Do you have a plan or a strategy so world chaos doesn’t blindside you and leave you helpless, anxious, frightened, and dreadful of the future? What can you do in your life to carve out a bit of space to remember that we’re not only wired for connection – we ARE connected, like it or not. How will you stay vulnerable and express yourself to your political leaders, neighbours, partner, kids, in a way that is non-violent? Will you create? Meditate? Connect with others? Volunteer? Protest? Whatever you choose it takes PRACTICE. Take a minute to think about it and write it down.

Your mental health matters. Your experience on Earth matters. And there has never been a more important time to make your spirit a priority. If it feels scary, that’s ok, because it IS scary, but it’s a fear that is totally worth facing. Just remember, the deeper the wound, the bigger the growth. 

The inspiration behind the “King of My Heart” song and video

I hope you’ve had a chance to listen to the song online! I thought you might enjoy a little peek into the inspiration behind the song and the video.

It started off as a half-assed joke. Years ago, before we were married, my husband told me about a sweet Jamaican couple he’d known in Toronto who were fond of using the pet names “My King” and “My Queen” (in strong Jamaican accents no less).

I didn’t want to be a killjoy, but every feminist fibre of my being (of which there are many) immediately got all in a snuff. “My whaaaaat????” I yelped.  I simply could NOT imagine calling any man “my King”. Gaah, it just felt so…. WRONG. I mean, here we’ve done decades of work as women to undo the patriarchal system and this woman was willing to proverbially lay herself down before her man and bow to his honour? [Sure, he was using the same term of endearment with her, but somehow that didn’t seem so out of line. Lol. ;)]

But then a few years later I had my son and suddenly the emotional earthquake that is motherhood rocked me to the core. I was absolutely floored by the LOVE this tiny being brought into my life. And not only was it my JOB to keep him alive, but I was so incredibly willing and joyful to take on the responsibility of putting him above all else. At last, I knew what it was like to be so willingly subservient and to put everything aside to serve another. I had found the king of my heart.

And he did more than simply steal my heart. He gave me an opportunity to look beyond my small little self and get a glimpse of the big wild future. It’s like the whole cycle of life just locked into high gear in my consciousness and I could see a million future generations carrying the torch for humanity. And I truly wanted him to own his position of authority in his own life and write his destiny.

I originally conceived the video it as a collection of ‘selfies’ of a mama watching her child grow up through her phone. We hummed and hawed about using a real baby and how we would make it feel more artsy than a home video. I decided to make a mock-up to test the concept and see how it looked on screen and I happened to grab a floppy toy giraffe. When we saw it bouncing around on screen, we immediately realized that using some kind of toy would be way more symbolic and funny than a real human. So we decided to leverage my sewing skills to build a muppet and harness Leo’s puppeteering experience. Cam (from Turtlebox Productions) who did all the filming and editing immediately had great ideas about ageing the puppet over time and pulling together a whole narrative with the piece.

It was a long and fun journey to record the song and make the video, almost two years in the making! So many incredibly talented people were involved. I hope you enjoy the fruits of our labours! 🙂

[WRITING] Interview with Andy Sheppard from Find the Others

I’ve made another foray into music journalism! I recently had the chance to interview Bowen Island musician Andy Sheppard and talk about his new project Find the Others. They just released a fantastic new album called “Empire of Time”, and we chatted about the making of it, along with how he approaches songwriting, and the partnerships that took him to Iceland. Continue reading

Why I will never quit the music business

Mary Kastle Why I will NEVER QUIT the music businessThis past year I’ve seen a growing number of my musician friends post “I quit” letters on various social media. The letters all have a common tone – “I can’t do this anymore. The music biz is bottomless pit. I’m going to settle down, get a real job, and hopefully be happier. It’s been fun, but now it’s a drag. Thanks for your support. Sayonara!” These posts undoubtedly prompt a whole stream of comments from friends and supporters. Usually a mix of “please don’t quit”, to “yep, blame Napster”, to “don’t worry, I’ll still come hear you play at the pub”, that sort of thing.

I find it disappointing, but I can definitely relate. After my last record, I was so burned out, I had to take a long break from touring, hustling, the whole scene. It took YEARS for me to replenish, reconnect, and get inspired to get back out there. I’m still not “back out there” fully, and maybe I never will be now that I have a child. But I will do what I can.

Because while I contemplated the word “quit”, I made a conscious decision to not choose it for my own trajectory. I might choose other words, like “evolve” or “grow” or “change”, but it became crystal clear that I never wanted to make the status of my music career the result of roadblocks, whether internal (frustrations, burnout, etc.) or external (dead business model, lack of funds, family commitments, etc). Thankfully, I never lost interest in going to gigs just to listen. I never lost interest in playing just for the sake of it. And most importantly, I never lost the feeling that I had something to say through music, even though it was buried far beneath my day-to-day artist survival tactics.

I had a lot of reconciling to do. It’s hard to swallow that you’re not “there” yet – wherever that is, arenas, world tours, throngs of fans, whatever. But I realized that I didn’t want to throw away all the ground I had covered. And yes, I might need to rebuild some broken bridges along the way, but those relationships I’d forged in the business were more than just a ladder to climb for me. They are my community.

So here’s my letter to you, my dears. I’m NEVER quitting the music business. EVER. I might need to take breaks. I might need to apologize for stupid things I’ve said. I might need to promote a lot sometimes, and less others. But I will NEVER QUIT. I will never stop trying to make records, or play shows, or tour, and honestly and gracefully share the music I make with you.

Why?

Because why would I deny myself the path, the long evolving journey of trying to figure out how to move forward and get better every single day?

And why would I deny YOU the opportunity to see what music I might come up with down the road? What if it’s something we both fall in completely and madly in LOVE with?

And why would I deny us both the chance to meet, literally or figuratively, and share our love of music, and then share it collectively with all the other people who might interact with it. The potential is endless and creative in of itself.

So even if I continue to toil in complete obscurity until my dying day, I will never stop writing or playing music, or calling myself a professional working musician. Because I have paid my dues. And I continue to pay my dues. And I’m still on a journey that is teaching me how to be vulnerable and humble in the wake of a force far greater than myself.

That force, of course is MUSIC!

I’m not here to criticize. In fact, I congratulate anyone who “settles down” and gets a “day job”. God knows I did. It can be an incredibly grounding force.

But, please, think carefully before you use the word “QUIT”. Why do that to yourself? Why do that to the world? We need you to take yourself seriously. (Ok, well maybe not too seriously!)

So here’s to growing and evolving and changing through music, through the music business.

LET’S ROCK!