If you follow me on any kind of social media you know where I was this past week: Isla Mujeres, (Island of Women) Mexico, where I was one of many performers at the week long Island Time Music Festival, venue hopping and raising money for the Little Yellow School House...a space for children with downs syndrome, autism, learning and physical disabilities. The giving back alone would have been reason enough for me to get on a plane but my relatively new friend Skip Bishop, who organizes the yearly event, invited me and, well, I can't say no to Skip.
I met Skip last year when we were cast as judges in a pilot that never got off the ground. But that's ok because...we met! You have to say yes to stuff. As I often say, you just never know who you're gonna meet when you take a walk.
Ok…so…things that happened or crossed my mind this week:
- First of all, I am Exhausted! I'm one of the—ahem—senior songwriters. And it's hard to keep up! The beer alone. Tequila shots. That said, I love hanging with the young. It makes me feel, well young. No talk of sciatica or torn “meniscii,” (mine included). And…in the context of songwriting, age is a non-issue. Songwriting connects us. The space we inhabit in the process is an age-free zone and I can communicate with just about anyone if we're speaking in the language of song.
- Most of the performers were country writers and artists (which explains the beer and shots)—#1s coming out of their asses. I mean...ears. Jerrod Niemann, Steve Bogard, Kyle Jacobs, Justin Wilson, Love & Theft, Rob Hatch, Kellie Pickler. And future stars: Maggie Rose, Kim Paige, Natalie Stovall, Tylor Bailey, Amara Givelove. I felt a little squirmy cuz in my book, I write about how I sometimes have an allergy to Nashville. But I've reassessed. Country may not be my genre of choice when I'm cooking on Sunday night but a good song is a good song is a good song. And the craftsmanship on these songs was insane. Listen to this one for instance: "A Little More Love." Or this: "Seein' Red."
- I'm not as seasoned a performer as most of my country colleagues, but when someone offers up praise (from a poolside seat) it makes me feel like I can hold my own in other ways:
- During some down time I watched a twenty-something on the beach strike poses while her friend took pics. Hand on hip. Hand off. Semi-profile. Hair toss. How will I look best on Insta? Jeez. I do it too, I guess. But not in a bikini. Anymore. I'm glad I didn't come up in the age of Instagram. If your boyfriend wanted to call up your image when you were apart he didn't have to check social media. He'd simply close his eyes. And if the two of you broke up you didn't know where he went next. Who he was with. What she looked like. Ignorance was bliss. No, strike that. It wasn’t ignorance if you weren’t able to know. We spent a lot of beautiful time wondering about stuff. But I've wandered off subject here. That's what happens when you're near the ocean.
- Speaking of the ocean, this is what happens to my hair when I'm within a mile of one. I don't care.
- I brought this with me. What was I thinking?
- I found a treehouse yoga class, or as the concierge in my hotel pronounced it: ”Joga.” My practice is coming along nicely, by the way. Joga helped me stay calm in the turbulence on the flight in and will likely help me on the way out, though I’m still having trouble keeping my mind from meandering to random thoughts such as...why does my Ohm end before everyone else's? I must have little lungs.
- Being in Mexico was a little weird. I apologized for “the Wall” to waiters, cab drivers and even an immigration officer from whom I managed to extract a smile.
- Susan Marchon gave me a golf cart tour of the 5 mile long island. She showed me the turtle rescue reserve, the Mayan ruins, the dolphins, and brought me to a local hole in the wall where we had the best chicken in the Universe.
It's safe here. Its beautiful.
- You need an internet connection in order to implement Facebook Live. (Duh. I didn't realize this when I promised, before I left home, to bring everyone along with me in real time.)
Back to the reason why I'm here...Giving back is good for the soul. Even if it means having to miss pre-Grammy week festivities in Los Angeles. And let's face it: how many parties can you go to year after year, before it starts to feel redundant?
My life as a songwriter has become an extended journey on which I get to look outside myself—past all the self promotion, and venture into other cultures...welcome opportunities to do good with a few little songs.
Most important, the Little Yellow School House, which is funded entirely by donations, has a 70% success rate at getting special needs children back into regular school systems. There are still children on the island who are unable to attend because of lack of funds. So if our music got a couple of kids closer to the Yellow, mission accomplished.
Homeward bound. But I'll be back. I hope.