another journey around the sun

This past year has been a somewhat interesting one.  I am both satisfied, yet have a sense of disappointment, often for the very same reasons…

I completed the touring cycle for table for one. and in the process recorded Foundation.  Foundation was released with some fanfare, but very little response.  I’m happy to have the “next step” clearly taken, however am honestly disappointed in the poor response to the music.  In my honest opinion, the songwriting is stronger and more concise than the predecessor, but yes, it’s far less personal.

Oh well.  Sophomore jinx, etc. etc. I guess.  I’m rethinking the whole paradigm of gathering songs and releasing them as an item.  So the next step will be a single release with one song that I’ve written and, perhaps, another b-side to be determined at a later date.

I’ve progressed with my studies in spiritual matters and expect to take my next step towards that in the fall.  I am content with where my studies are leading me and am enjoying the personal and spiritual growth that these studies are providing me.  Things are far less “urgent” feeling and I’m finding more peace in my daily living.

Throughout all of this, I’ve continued to downsize my musical needs and hone the arsenal of instruments in my collection.  I believe I have found my musical main squeeze guitar-wise and have begun paring back the collection to the bare essentials.  My main acoustic brings me joy when I play it and it does everything I ask of it and often surprises me with what it allows me to do.

My relationship with my Mom continues to progress as we both process our widowhood and grief.  Traveling to Arizona with her over the Christmas holidays brought me closure with certain episodes in my life and continued to refine what is important to me.  I found  a new peace in the desert and any angst from past visits has disappeared.

My family continues to bring me joy in new ways.  It’s refreshing to watch the remarkable young women that my nieces have grown up to be.  I am lucky to have them in my life.

I continue to explore what it means to be single at this point in my life.  While I still feel the loneliness of widowhood to be rather difficult at times, I am not as frantic to find the next life partner as once was.  What I do know is that potential friends and companions never cease to find new ways to disappoint me and that my tolerance for such shenanigans continues to disappoint.

I have much love in my heart, however I realize now that I should be more selective in who I choose to share it with.

The house continues to feel more and more like my home as I refine what I have in it and pare back what is in it.  I continue to reduce the clutter and decide what furniture will stick.  I will be downsizing in the future, but downsizing on my own terms.

Chloe continues to be a joyous, loving companion.  Every morning that I awaken to her happy face and wagging tail – is a good morning.   I am blessed.

Work is a means to an end.  I have incredible team mates and a supportive and patient manager.  They are what makes my vocation endurable, that and the fact that it funds my avocations.

I continue to heal from my PTSD, depression and my struggles with anxiety are ongoing. I am getting better at knowing when my triggers are being pushed and able to intervene before the excrement hits the ventilation – so to speak.

So this year has been a year of consolidating the changes, evaluating and then making appropriate steps towards my next goals.  It has been a year of slow, steady progress and continuing to build my foundation.

Hopefully next year will be more productive for growth.

Peace to all.

m.

 

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table for one. a finale.

Thanks to my friends for attending the table for one. CD release “event” on February 20, 2017. It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad to share the music that I have created with everyone. Special thanks to Shannon Munn for opening Cannon Coffee Co. especially for the event and also to Douglas Steckle for shepherding me to and from the event and helping out. Both of you are amazing!

Thanks also to Cindy Schnaithmann for making the Cannon work as a venue and making the arranging of it so easy, despite the construction the cafe is undergoing this week!

As I came down from last night’s performance, I reflected on the journey that has been the table for one. experience.

Life is a constant evolution. table for one. documents a 7 year period in life where I dealt with my husband’s cancer, his transplant surgery, and then his death, followed by my father’s death one year later and the ensuing nervous break down…the past three years have been of reflection, healing and moving forward…and the songs in the table for one. cycle reflect that.

I realized after performing certain songs that I can no longer go back into the particular headspace and “heartspace” that they represent any further. While they are my creations and I’m proud of them in their own right, sometimes they need to be set free and exist on their own…as a marker of a particular moment in time.

being human. is one such song as is patient. Both have had their chance to be shared and the emotions therein expressed but my heart, mind and spirit are just not in them any more.

I’m happy that these songs can still resonate with people and that they will listen to them and gain strength and whatever joy they from them, however they are not for me any further. These compositions and recording belong to the world at this point. I will protect and guard them, however I will not revisit them as a performer.

I’ve also been able to use the table for one. experience to reflect on the writing for a CD, recording it and releasing it as a single project/object and realized that at this point in my career, it is not a sound artistic and financial prospect.

You may have noticed my Patreon page being mentioned earlier last week. This represents the next step in my career and musician and will focus on the release of musical items as they are created. We shall chat about this at a later date.

That being said, I still have a small stock of CDs left, so if you’d like one, please let me know and we’ll work it out!

Thanks for your continued support and patience!

table for one. in conclusion

As the final chapter of the birth table for one. draws to a conclusion, I’m reflecting on how different my life is from the first attempts at writing sitting in The Brain on that fateful Art Crawl night after Larry’s diagnosis.

Seven years.  Seven.  Fucking.  Years.  Four surgeries.  Three deaths.  One nervous breakdown.  Five days of recording.  One album.  One life.

I’m far less angry.  I’m far less scared.  I’m far less impatient.  I’m far less tolerant of negativity.

Throughout all of this change, I have been re-evaluating my life and what it means to be me.  An old acquaintance used to say “Simplify and do everything.” as a joke, however this saying has summed up the past three years of my life.  As I jettison the trappings and detritus I have had surrounding me, the resulting physical, mental and emotional space is allowing me to focus more on things that are important to me.

As my life becomes simpler, I’m able to focus on more.  I’m also making important choices that have impacted on my happiness and health in a positive manner.

Seven years ago, I was close to four hundred pounds, having replaced my chemical addictions with food to medicate my unhappiness.  Seven years ago, I was so focused on my career that both my health and chosen form of expression (music) languished and suffered.  I was in my thirties with sleep apnea, high blood pressure, failing knees and ankles and pre-diabetic.

I thought I was happy, but truly the one light in my life was diagnosed with cancer and we focused on fighting the battle for his life.  Fast forward to now and I’ve survived the loss of my husband, my father, a beloved animal companion, been through a year of treatment for PTSD and anxiety, continue to battle my weight, keeping it down to a healthy level.

I am now hovering around two hundred pounds, eating a clean diet, drug and alcohol free almost thirteen years, breathing easily and most of my other health issues have resolved.

I am also writing further music that reflects a need to carry on, to learn and grow, as well as collaborating with other songwriters and music makers…my catharsis is complete – time to remove my life from suspended animation and continue moving forward.

Simplify and do everything indeed.

 

on questionid.

After my Dad died in November 2014, and my nervous breakdown that December, it was clear that I had pretty major work to do to get my shit together again.  After packing up my basses and other instruments and coming home from my vacation, I proceeded to throw myself fully into therapy.

I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.  When asked what the treatment options were, I proceeded with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing combined with working with cognitive behavioural therapy and for a VERY brief time, medication.  I spent a period of six months of intense self-examination and questioning my identity.

there’s a question that we must all ask ourselves one day,
and there is no easy answer.
an act of self-examination, a question demanding truth
with no correct response.

each time i ask this question, i get a different response,
each interrogation brings further confusion.
forcing me to evaluate my responses from the past;
leaving me further lost in a world of my own creation.

This last stanza is the truth.  Who I am depends on the day and how I’m feeling.  Some days I am pain.  Some days I am rage.  Some days I am love.  Some days I am fear.  Most days I am confused.

However I am not lost in a world of my own creation anymore.  That world was where I spent from age 13 to age 30, where I was medicated, often drunk and avoiding the old wounds, which continued to fester until 2010.

From 2010, the festering wounds were covered with the psychological equivalent of a flesh tone bandage…until it got ripped off over 2013 and 2014.

who am i?
no response to this simple question.
each person i ask has different opinions,
conflicting responses.
who am i?
further confusion building inside me;
every time i peer inside it changes
no simple answers.

I was discharged from EMDR after a year and discontinued my medications after a scare caused by a side effect of anti-depressants.  I am not anti-medications, however I know they don’t work for me.  I’d rather be able to think and feel, with the risk of having a meltdown every now and then, versus being a placid, potentially suicidal zombie.  This decision was made with full support of my medical professionals and with full knowledge of having to do some seriously heavy lifting as far as therapy and being real with myself.

i asked myself this question again today
and got yet another answer
i answered as truthfully as i could, cutting to the quick
leaving nothing to chance.

who am i?
no response to this simple question.
each person i ask has different opinions,
conflicting responses.
who am i?
further confusion building inside me;
every time i peer inside it changes
no simple answers.

there’s a question that i repeatedly ask myself.
and never seem to like my response.
an act of self-examination, forcing me to be true,
leaving me empty and confused.

The act of self-evaluation and forcing myself to face my reality, past experiences and history has been both horrifically challenging and frightening as well as enlightening.  As I peel away the layers, I am removing blockages that are preventing me from moving forward.  I couldn’t have written this music, I couldn’t have chosen to perform it, I couldn’t record and release table for one. and leave it open, vulnerable, to the world.

Yes, table for one. is as much a part of my therapy, recovery and healing as any of the psychological work I’ve done.  Having released it to the wider world has been both liberating and terrifying as I now have a wide open road ahead of me, free from obstruction.

who am i?
no response to this simple question.
each person i ask has different opinions,
conflicting responses.
who am i?
further confusion building inside me;
every time i peer inside it changes
no simple answers.

Yes I continue to struggle with my identity.  I continue to struggle with my ego.  I continue to wrestle with my past.  I continue to struggle with my future.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

no such thing as a free ride: budgeting for an album explained

I’m going to preface this with the fact that I’m happy, overwhelmed and honoured by the response to table for one., both the live show and the recording.  However, this is my response to the most asked question about this.
Well folks, it’s happened.  Less than 24 hours of being available online, I’ve had the inevitable requests for a free copy of table for one.
If this happens in person, the person asking will likely get a head tilt, followed by “the look” and then a brief and simple “no.” from me.
If you were going to get a free copy of the $10 download or the $15 CD, you would have been notified of it already – my next list is the folks who graciously pre-paid for copies of table for one. along with their tickets to the August 28, 2016 concert.  These folks should expect their email from me by the end of the day!
However, even as a labour of love, I cannot simply afford to give my music away.  And honestly, as it represents 7 years’ of my life distilled down into 10 songs, putting a monetary value on it hurts.   But it also represents a LOT of work and the accounting below does not include the hours of writing, rewriting, rehearsal, travel and administrative work necessary to produce such a document.
Keep in mind that I did this album as frugally as I could without resorting to doing it myself on Garageband, as I wanted to focus on the actual performances while an incredible professional focused on technical things like microphone placement and compression.
tableforoneaccounting-page-001
I’m grateful for the folks who have supported me, however I’d like to at least break even on this, so I can continue to afford to make music.  So, if I don’t offer you a free download or CD…this is why.
You will note that even on such a small budget, I still have quite a way to go before even recuperating the expenses of producing this album and why I’m equally frugal with who gets free copies of my life’s work.  I make music because I love doing it and I’m driven to do so.  I’m not asking for huge success, I’m hoping it will be at least self-supporting.

thinking thinky thoughts

Feeling interesting.  It’s funny because the lastest song is entitled “Another Man’s Dream” and it’s about moving out from under the shadow of my Dad, Larry and the people in the church who hurt me those years ago…

It’s kind of a statement/manifesto of self.

Once recording and promotion is done for table for one. there are the new projects already on tap.  Not the least of which will be a non-holiday Balderdash & Humbug collaboration.
The other Myke Hutchings works are going to be recorded and released as they happen to me.  The joys of not being tied to a project or CD release, and the realization that I don’t need to hit the studio unless I have something big, allows me to make on the fly and produce regularly.
Next step is refining what happened August 28th into something more concise and a little less traumatic for me and the audience.  Then taking the show on the road (albeit without four damned guitars) – I’ve heard that people elsewhere are interested and I’m more than willing to play house concerts or events if expenses can be covered.
I think my nervous breakdown in December 2014 was a good thing in hindsight.  I get that working as a sideman for another musician meant I would have only ever been the sideman and potentially another songwriting collaborator versus staring down the barrel of finally recording table for one. as an artist in my own right.  Again, evidence I can no longer live someone else’s dream.
A tough lesson to be taught and in all honestly a fucking brutal way to learn it.
At the same time, the band members have been fully supportive of me since, despite my letting them down.
I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who believe in me, even when I don’t believe in myself.
You all are blessings in my life. I am truly grateful for your patience, kindness and support.

42 and counting

Douglas Adams wrote that 42 was the answer to the question which explained life, the universe and everything.
At 42, I can say that I have not been granted the wisdom and insight to confirm or deny this.
I’m still the same scared neurotic mess I always have been.
I’m just better at hiding it.
What a difference a few years makes.
I’m finally able to talk and write about this.  I guess a few years of psychotherapy and a better understanding that grieving is a continually ongoing and evolving process that changes and grows over time does make a difference.
If cancer had not fucked up our plans, Larry and I would have been on the cusp of celebrating the 2nd anniversary of our wedding (more on this later) and we would likely be in the process of going on a vacation.
But instead, I am on the cusp of 42, still a widower, still single and still sorting my shit out.
Single does not mean lonely (often) but it does mean alone.  However I’m in a far better place two years later.
Our plans had been to throw a 40th birthday party for me, so we could be surrounded by friends and family and enjoy the company of loved ones.  We had even arranged entertainment (in the form of a musician Mike Keneally and also a clown (Yup I was going to hire Mr. Rainbow to entertain at my own birthday!)- both of whom are very good friends of mine – so I could have everyone I love at my wedding).  In the middle of the shenanigans, there was to have been a surprise wedding wherein Larry and I were going to exchange vows and rings and reaffirm our love and devotion for each other legally and in front of our collective family.
However cancer had different plans.  I took the week of my 40th birthday off work and had a dumpster delivered so I could purge the house of items that were not gifted/donated/recycled or bequested.  It was hard work for me, physically, emotionally and spiritually, however it was very cathartic.
Last year, I can’t even remember what I did – birthdays have somewhat become a non-entity for me.  I suspect Doug Jones and I had dinner in and around that time and likely I had brunch/dinner with my family.
This year, I’m going to be at work as I’m drawing my time as a case manager to a close and am moving to a different role within my organization, in a different office.  I’ll be getting a haircut and going out for dinner with Doug to celebrate my surviving 42 years and my remaining clean and sober for 12 years.
But enough looking in the rear view mirror and let’s look ahead…