Doing What You Love and Rejection

Image

I think most people don’t do what they love out of fear.  Yes, it’s safer to be a cog in someone else’s machine than to tune in to your deepest hopes and desires and bring those to fruition. I cannot argue with that even for a second. 

If you want safety, stay a cog. 

My passion is writing and sharing original music. Sometimes my songs are funny, sometimes they’re serious. Some are in English; others are in Hebrew.  But they all cut to the core of who I am and how I feel about being alive. 

As a singer/songwriter, I experience more rejection in one week than that guy who is working at a job he hates because he is too afraid to go after what he loves experiences all year. Or maybe in his lifetime.  I am constantly contacting people to book gigs, many of which do not come to fruition. I have applied for many grants and fellowships that I have not received, people give my YouTube videos thumbs down, I’ve gotten bad reviews in newspapers, and I‘ve even had my Facebook page hijacked by high school students I don’t know who decided that they didn’t like me.  Not to mention the scores of people who are just plain uninterested in my music.  

But, you know what? I’ve come to accept all of this because, at the end of the day, I get to do what I love.  Every day. It seems to me that having to deal with people who don’t like what I do or don’t care about it one way or another is a small price to pay for getting to actually do it. 

This week, I released a new video called, I’m Camping Out at Trader Joe’s. It’s just plain silly and fun and expresses what so many of us in Denver feel – this town is great but we REALLY want to have Trader Joe’s. The response I have gotten has been overwhelming – people have been posting and enjoying it. My video even made it ontoDaybreak, a local news program, the day after it was released. 

But, if you google “I’m Camping Out at Trader Joe’s,” this is what you will find: 

Image

There seems to be one guy out there who hates this video and he seems to have some sort of  blog or newspaper that has a Denver edition. And a San Francisco edition. And a Philly edition. And he’s made sure to bash my video in each of them. And on Twitter. And probably in lots of other places as well.

But guess what? I don’t care. It just makes me feel more resolved in the path I’ve created for myself.  Because, at the end of the day, we each have to ask ourselves who we’re choosing to be: the one who follows her dream and makes it a reality, or the guy who sits safely on the sidelines bashing those of us who are in the game day in and day out, working our tails off, taking risks, and bringing new ideas to fruition. 

Advertisements

Why This Jewish Artist Sends Her Children to Day School

ImageAbraham and the Three Angels by Marc Chagall

Last summer my husband and I took our three children to Europe for a friend’s wedding. While we were there we went to the  Musée National Marc Chagall, or the National Museum of Marc Chagall in Nice, France. It is a gorgeous little museum that houses seventeen Chagall paintings based on the books of GenesisExodus and the Song of SongsMy takeaway from the visit, aside from being deeply affected by the paintings, is that it reinforced that the money we invest in sending our children to Jewish Day School is very well spent. 

When we were at the museum, I told my then-nine-year-old son, “Chagall spent his childhood in yeshiva, which meant he had a solid grasp of the stories from the Torah. When he grew up, he was able to take his expansive textual knowledge and turn it into something new and beautiful. That is why we send you guys to day school. We’re making sure you get knowledge and tools. You can do whatever you want with them.” Had Chagall not had such a strong grasp of our holy books and had he not lived with our ancient stories, he never would have been able to create art of that depth related to our heritage. 

I am a singer/songwriter and today I played a concert for Jewish women.  Afterward, someone approached me and asked me if I had a Master’s degree in education. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant and then I realized that she wanted to understand how I have a strong enough grasp of the prayers and texts to pick out words that move me in order to set them to music. No, no Master’s degree, but I do have many years of Denver’s strong Jewish day schools under my belt as well as a year of Yeshiva in Israel. That education is what has given me the tools to forge my own path professionally and as a Jewish community leader (my husband and I co-founded an independent minyan ten years ago).

My children attend a modern Orthodox day school. While neither my husband nor I would consider ourselves to be party line Orthodox, we chose to send our children to the school because we were impressed with the rigor with which the students learned Hebrew language and gained access to our ancient texts and prayers. I am not sending them there because I want them to be Orthodox; how they choose to worship now and as adults is their business. I had to go through many twists and turns in my own religious journey and I expect that they each will as well. But, by sending them to day school, I am ensuring that they will have ample tools through which they can connect to their tradition on their own terms.  Maybe they will become charedi. Maybe they will reject it all outright. Most likely, I imagine they’ll end up somewhere in the middle. Regardless of how they turn out, my husband and I know that we did our best to give them the most access to an ancient tradition that is deep, enduring, and meaningful. 

Getting Ready for Trader Joe’s to Come to Town…

So, the cat’s out of the bag. Yes, the next song I will be releasing (next week!) is entitled “I’m Camping Out at Trader Joe’s.” I’m certainly pumped about TJs finally coming to Colorado (how many years have we been bemoaning the fact that there’s no TJs out here??)! So this is just going to be a boatload of fun. Just take a peak at this outtake…

Watch for the video release next week (or sign up at http://www.JulieGeller.com to be the first to see the new release!).

A Little Bit of Kindness Zappos a Long Way

photo-18

I’ve been sitting on a pile of returns to www.Zappos.com – and looking at the boxes cluttering my office – for months now because I had to return 11 items from different orders. I kind of got overwhelmed. I finally called them this morning to see if they could help me with the process and the woman on the line said, “It’s OK, just do them one at a time. Call us if you need help.” So, she didn’t end up doing much on the practical end but she did give me just what I needed:

1) A reminder that it’s not a big deal. Just get started.
2) A feeling like I wasn’t alone in the world.

And guess what? I packed it all up in about five minutes. Sometimes it just takes some kind words to help someone through the day.

What are the kindest words anyone ever said to you? Please let me know in the comments below.

My music = Hope, Holstee = Community

As a singer/songwriter, I share my music with people. So, on the most basic level, I share songs. But my goal for what I do is so much larger than that.  I aim to lighten your load. There’s tons to be depressed about, but come to one of my shows and you will leave feeling refreshed and energized.

Today I was fortunate to play a lunchtime concert at Holstee Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY.  This is a great company that has been taking the world by storm.  At Holstee, they create beautiful products such as shirts, wallets and cards, many of which are upcycled and sustainably produced.  But I love them because, just like my music is about more than the songs, their products are about more than the goods.  In their words, they:

“design, curate and collaborate to produce the highest quality goods for mindful         consumers and citizens of this world… Thanks for pushing us to be better and for inspiring   us with your mutual desire for conscious change. We are convinced that together we can leave this planet better than we found it.”

And these guys are really like that – just genuinely wonderful, kind people. Check out these pics from their bathroom:

Image

…and this…

Image

What a pleasure it was to spend time there because, in the way that my songs = hope, Holstee products = community.  One member of their team, Vincent, even prepared a delicious (vegetarian!) lunch for all of us to enjoy (every Thursday it’s someone else’s turn).

So, how did I get connected to these guys? Through the Holstee Manifesto. And, here’s my take on it sung today at Holstee.

Enjoy, and check these guys out!

If Pentatonix Can Keep Improving Then So Can You

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 2.57.08 PM

My family and I only have one television show that we watch together and that’s The Sing-Off (yes, it was cancelled last year but it’s been renewed for next season!). My husband, my 10 year-old son and I all became huge fans of the season three winners, Pentatonix. They are a vocal group comprised of three stellar singers, an out-of-this world vocal bassist and ridiculously talented beat boxer (and cellist!). They were far and away the best group that has ever appeared on the show and have risen the bar of a capella music to new heights.  We can’t even wait to see how groups are going to build upon their vocal prowess next season.

Pentatonix puts out lots of videos of cover songs and I generally watch them. It’s usually nothing too fancy – the five of them in a room singing a song. This week they released their cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Pusher Love Girl.” Check it out:

Of course, I started browsing through their YouTube channel  and I came across their cover of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” from last January.  Here it is:

What I loved about watching these back to back is the contrast in terms of the production values of the two videos. The new video isn’t fancy, but it’s easier on the eyes and more fun to watch. It’s much better done than the earlier one. Yet another example of just start – yes, even very publicly – and you’ll get better over time. Remember, you can’t get better if you don’t start somewhere.  Anywhere.

Seth Godin says it right in The Icarus Deception: “You don’t need a guru; you need experience, the best kind of experience, the experience of repeated failure.”

Happy starting!

Why I Love Making Mistakes

Image

I love making mistakes because every time I do, I am reminded that I am one of the people who is out there doing things and not one of the ones sitting on the sidelines, watching those of us who are doing things.

The bigger, the more public my mistakes, the more I am reminded that my tolerance for risk and failure have grown.

Thank God I’m no longer huddled against that wall, afraid to fail.

Forgiveness is a One-Way Street

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 1.39.20 PM

I’ve come to think of forgiveness as a one-way street.  Yes, it’s nice when you can have a conversation with somebody who wronged you and talk it all through. But sometimes that person is no longer alive, or is not in your life, or is not sorry for what they did.

Then what?

You can still forgive. Because forgiveness is not about them. It is about you.

It is about you taking control of your life and continuing to move on. It is about you making peace with the past. It is about you living in the present and not in the past.

At night, before saying the shema, we utter these words: “I forgive anybody who angered, provoked or wronged me.” Pretty incredible because those to whom you are offering forgiveness are not there.

Do yourself a favor. Find a way to forgive those you are still holding a grudge against. For your sake, not theirs.