Changing habits

Keeping the Pirate Flag Flying

by Bev Barnett

I subscribe to Chris Brogan’s weekly emails. They are free – I highly recommend subscribing. Chris says that as independent entrepreneurs, whether we are musicians, software designers or coffee shop owners, our job is to focus on keeping the pirate flag flying. Its not to go after the fleet.

LoveflagI might change that slightly to say our job is to keep the love flag flying. To keep the music coming. To make sure that we not only creating great music, but that we are mindful about creating a sustainable existence so we can continue to serve our community and create more music, more love.

Our friends Roman Morykit and Cilette Swann – Gypsy Soul – are in the middle of an IndieGoGo fan funding campaign to not only fund their next CD release, but to launch the next phase of service to their community. To create more awareness for the causes they support. To educate other independent musicians based on what they’ve learned.

They are asking for help to keep their love flag flying. Click here to find out how you can help.


When you know you can’t do it all

“Will you stand by and do nothing, because you cannot do it all…”
– Ellen Stapenhorst

We delivered 25 coats and $110 in cash donations to Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose after our November 13 concert and One Warm Coat Drive here in Santa Clara California.

But when there are so many large and very successful One Warm Coat drives underway all around us, we were tempted to feel like we hadn’t done enough. We hadn’t managed to motivate thousands – or even hundreds – of people to donate, after all.

Then, on the way home, we thought of a song written by our friend Ellen Stapenhorst. Ellen sang the song at the Artichoke Music concert we shared with her in Portland at the beginning of November.

If not you, then who?
If not now, then when?
Will you stand by and do nothing, because you cannot do it all…

We can’t do it all, none of us can. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do SOMETHING.

The folks at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church know that as well. For the past 24 years, they have hosted an Alternative Gift Fair on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, through Alternative Gifts International. Last year,  Sunnyvale Presbyterian represented the largest AGI donor group in the US.

Our friends at Sunnyvale Pres invited us to provide musical inspiration at this year’s Alternative Gift Fair services on November 27, along with several other outstanding musicians. We were so thrilled to sing “There’s a Light,” but as is typical, we were the ones who ended up being inspired.

Alternative Gifts International offers a way for each of us to give a gift of life and hope, in the name of those on our gift list. And large or small, when these gifts are collected they make a real difference in the lives of people all over the world. For example, a hen for a child in Bolivia is just $27. A solar oven for a family in The Gambia is $17. A book for a library in Nicaragua is $6. Groceries for homeless family in the US or Canada for one week is $45. Legal fees for a girl rescued from sexual slavery in India are $77, and 1 day of post court care is $44.

Love Without BoundariesHere’s one that spoke to us.  Love Without Boundaries has been providing high-quality infant formula to orphaned children in China since 2003, with dramatic results. When children are fed high-quality formula, all aspects of their health improve. In addition, specialized formula is provided to orphans with specific needs, such as premature infants and those who fail to thrive, saving the lives of many vulnerable babies each year.

Through Alternative Gifts International, you can donate 1 case of high-quality formula for $110. Or, you can donate one week’s worth of formula for $8. Perhaps you can’t afford to purchase a case, but why not purchase a week’s worth? For the infant who gets that formula for that week, that is enough.

We can’t do it all ourselves, but we can find ways to do what we can. Click here to donate to Health and Hope for Infants in China and to find out about all the projects you can support through Alternative Gifts International.

Tenth Anniversary of the World Trade Center Disaster

On September 11, 2001 we glued ourselves to the television, like practically everyone else in the world with access to one.

On this tenth anniversary, television viewers will have a plethora of options from MSNBC’s “Days of Destruction – Decade of War” to Access Hollywood offering reflections from celebrities. CNN has a your choices here.

Or, what about this? We could all just turn off our television sets. Spend time with loved ones. Enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. Focus on peace.

On Saturday September 10, the eve of the tenth anniversary, we’re participating in a Celebration of Peace concert at the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Cruz California. It’s not a commemoration of tragedy, its a opportunity to participate in a quantum exercise – a choice to focus on peace.

This event is free to the public. If you’re in Santa Cruz, please join us. If you’re further away, please join us in spirit.

Things we forget

To be honest, sometimes we feel really hypocritical. Here we are, writing and performing songs that (hopefully) inspire people to their own greatness – and what do we do most of the time? Work too much, laugh too little and complain about things over which we have no control.

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

This was really the impetus behind writing Love Can Change the World. These lines from the second verse sum up our realization that, most of the time, we’re just not paying attention:

I see the world in black and white, and rarely hear the gray

I don’t take time to read the lines, and then I turn the page

I came across a great blog the other day, Things We Forget: Post it Notes Left to their Fate in Public Places.  Its a series of post it note drawings and reminders of the little things we forget when we go about our daily lives of well intentioned busyness.

Here’s today’s entry. What a powerful reminder.

Just this afternoon I also saw a quote on the Festival of Enlightenment’s Facebook page.

“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.” – unknown

Tonight we celebrate Greg’s daughter’s birthday, and you can be sure we’ll be paying attention – with laughter among family and friends, gratefulness for good health and the warmth of our home, and lots and lots of love.

Because, Love Can Change the World.

Image by TO DO (writer) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

What makes someone a “gentleman”?

Two of our friends have made their transition in the past six weeks. Both cancer-related. Both long before the rest of us were ready to let them go.

Chuck McCabe left us on July 23, 2010 – Kenny Edwards passed away on August 18, 2010

Kenny Edwards, Chris Kee, Bev Barnett, Greg Newlon

Both were good friends, stellar musicians and songwriters, incredibly giving souls and true gentlemen. We were talking the other day about our personal reactions to this loss.  We realized that its not really an emptiness we’re feeling… its more like we’re carrying around something extra. Not a burden. Its more like a bundle of memories.

Among those memories are the house concerts we hosted – both performed in our living room to a full house several times – and the Acoustic Fridays Songwriter in the Round shows we did at our home base coffee house, Mission City Coffee in Santa Clara California.

But what really stands out in our memories are the countless stories of Chuck’s and Kenny’s helpfulness to other musicians and songwriters, including us.  Both taught and nurtured budding songwriters – Chuck held works in progress sessions at Keith Holland Guitars in Los Gatos and Kenny was a mainstay at the Summer Songs West camps in Southern California.

Chuck McCabe, Bev Barnett, Greg Newlon

That word, gentleman, keeps coming to mind in describing both Chuck and Kenny. Gentleness… kindness… patience… maybe that’s a small change we can all try to make in our dealings with others.

Worst Case Thinking

If you look around you can find all sorts of very sane people looking at this issue of fearful thinking not only as a limitation, but as a real danger.

Bruce Schneier is a renown security blogger. His latest missive, published on but better read on his own blog because CNN stripped out all the links, is all about the fallacy of worst case thinking. It almost like its the logical case for the Law of Attraction.

There's a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An
extension of the precautionary
, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and
then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for
thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters
powerlessness and vulnerability and magnifies social paralysis. And it
makes us more vulnerable to the effects of terrorism.

Bruce makes several great points as to why worst case thinking makes for bad decision making. 

  • its only half of the cost benefit equation
  • its based on flawed logic
  • it can be used to support any position – or its opposite
  • it validates ignorance
  • worst of all – it leads to hasty and dangerous acts

This is just an overview —  read the entire article to get the full flavor.

And there is a line between being hopeful yet realistic, and being fearful and negative. We live with reality, but we can choose not to create negativity.

Kicking the Fear and Anger Habit

If we want to look at the world from a place of love rather than fear, anger or hate, we've got to make some changes. And by we I mean, well, it starts right here with us.

In his Feb. 25 article Feeding the Beast — our Addiction to Anger and Fear, Larry Gellman of the Huffington Post writes:

If most people say their goal in life is to be happy, then why do they
spend so much time and money convincing themselves and others how
furious and fearful they should be? Why do millions of us spend much of
the day listening to ranting, raving, outraged people on the radio,
come home and watch the angry Right wingers on Fox or the angry Left
wingers on MSNBC and then read the steady stream of emails telling us
how mad and scared to death we should be of our own government,
Muslims, Arabs, Obama, Liberals, Congress, the media and everyone else
in the world?

Bottom line is that fear is too often used to control, motivate and generally keep people in line with whatever line of thinking is desired by those doing the controlling. Be afraid… very afraid… we are told.

This doesn't mean "lie down and take it." Game playing politicians and banks that pay out large bonuses instead of lending money to small businesses can really make us angry. But let's not seek out ways to feed that anger. Let's not let fear get the best of us. 

Gellman provides this keen perspective:

These are very hard and challenging times for most Americans. The
solutions do not lie in anger and demonizing the other. They lie in our
own hope, perspective, ingenuity, and ability to be part of the