June Millington – A legend in her own time – November 2013

November newsletter 2014

Dear Friends,

Yes, it’s December — we missed November’s newsletter, so this is a Dec double dose!

This month, we are honored to share with you our interview with  June Millington. For y’all working with teen girls in any capacity, June’s story as an artist, a musician, songwriter, and the organization she founded with her partner, Ann, the Institute for Musical the Arts in Goshen, MA. is something you really want to know about. Their girls Rock and Roll camps are off the charts! I’m sure today there are many teen girls who are just as inspired by June as I was when I was a teen. Check out IMA. They have a fully equip recording studio in their barn! Watch their Ted Talks, videos, and send your girls their way!

Image June Millington in 1969, at Fanny Hill,  and 2010 at IMA

June Millington was twenty-one years old in ’69, the year I met her. I was 19. I had taken a job a few months earlier as a secretary at Warner Brothers Records. Fanny, the band she founded with her sister, Jean and Alice deBuhr, was just to become the first all-girl rock band to be signed to make an LP for a major record label, Reprise, a subsidiary of WB and the girls were coming in for a meeting. I  was asked to welcome them when they arrived. To say I was gob-smacked when they sauntered into the office, in their jeans and t-shirts, no make-up, long hair down their backs, is mild. I was stunned. Here, they were, girls just like me — but girls who played their own music and were going to be rock stars —  not just some guy musician’s old lady, sitting around watching him play… You have to remember, or at least imagine if you are young now —  1969 was not a bonanza year for girl musicians, let alone all girl bands, let alone girls playing rock and roll.

It was just my luck, karma, fate (you name it) that I got to spend a few precious minutes alone with the girls, that day, because it changed the trajectory of my life 180 degrees. We all hit it off immediately, so much so that June invited me to come on over to their house. The band needed a keyboard player and I told them I could play piano. June said, well, let’s try you out.  I went by that very night, and moved in a week later.

The band lived in a Spanish style mansion they christened “Fanny Hill” up at the top of Marmont Lane, up from the Chateau Marmont, an infamous hotel at the time,  overlooking the Sunset Strip. The house was rented for them by Warner Brothers. The “girls” were given just enough cash to scrounge by doing their own laundry at the coin operated joint down on Sunset, and eating frugally, but they had all the time time they needed to write, rehearse 24/7, jam, and come up with the songs for their first album. Richard hung around some, listening in to practices, and lots of other musicians would drop by, like Lowell (George) from Little Feat, to jam. Over the time I lived at Fanny Hill, there were many who dropped by to see this oddity, girls who could really play! Folks like Bernie Taupin, Tret Fure, Zakir Hussain, Dave Mason, Chris Williamson…

56570013Lowell & RichieLowell George and Richie Hayward 1970

I couldn’t play piano well enough, but I had experience as a photographer.  June has always had a love of photography and had put in a make-shift darkroom behind the rehearsal room, so I took it over her dad’s old Leica M3 and become the documentary member of Fanny Hill.

What I learned during those years has influenced the rest of my life as an artist, and as a woman, and the direction I’ve traveled in my life have their roots deeply planted in what followed. At Fanny Hill, I developed a strength and kind of audacity that gave me the confidence as a young woman to stand up for myself and dare to do things that busted out of the traditional way girls behaved or life choices most girls were headed towards. Witnessing the level of focus, intention, discipline and practice that it took to be musicians taught me more than anything, but it was the trust in me and reflection I got from June, Jean and Alice that nurtured me more than anything. We were young, inspired, creative and stepping out on edges and stages in front of people — I learned I could forget what others thought about me or projected onto me as I took my place on the stage to take photos. I felt I belonged, and was part of a group that was being uplifted — Fanny had financial backing and opportunities that most young bands never get and they were happening and I was on the bus with them!

Linda after Tour1Linda Wolf 1970, at Jessi Ed Davis’s house, photo taken by Sandy Konikoff

airplaneJoe Cocker, Jim Gordon, Kay Poorboy descending the Cocker Power plane 1970

The following year, I left Fanny Hill. I’d joined a thrown together tour as one of the two women photographers — one of 38 crazy people –musicians, 3 kids, their nanny, a pregnant dog named Cannina,  plus  a crew of roadies, sound men,and a documentary 5-man film crew, and on the road I went  with Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen. After nearly 2 months, I came back to LA  for a spell and lived again at Fanny Hill before leaving for France for five years, to study.  That year Fanny took off …

billboardSunset Strip, across from the Whiskey, 1970

For the next number of years, the girls toured the world, recorded at the Beatles Apple Studios, and had hit records. They hung out with the Beatles, the Stones, tons of fabulous musicians, and jammed with amazing folks along the way.

As for the girls and me, we have always stayed sisters of the heart and my friendship with Jean, June and Alice deBuhr continues to this day.

And now, our interview with June Millington.

ImageJune & Jean Millington

Linda Wolf: How old were you when you first started playing, June?

June Millington: I played piano when I was about five or six. But I was such a tomboy and preferred to play in the trees. M mom just got so mad; she was like “Well all right, fine, don’t play!” We played ukulele pretty early on in the Philippines…But since switching to electric guitar in 1965 that’s been my consuming passion. I just love guitar. It connects me to the world, the universe, and it informs me. It’s my antenna. It’s my antenna and my connection.

L: As a young women in those years, a girl when you started to play out with your sister, plus being Amerasian  how did you experience both sexism and racism and the pressures to conform to what women/girls were supposed to be like?

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J: I think I was born with passion and an awful lot of will. That burning energy has certainly sustained me. Also, I think it’s a lot of luck, too.  But, I have to say that the racism I’ve experienced in my life has trumped everything in terms of what hurt me the most, probably because it came first. Sexism I didn’t even really notice that much when we started to play out as girls. People would go, “Oh wow, you’re really good! Not bad for chicks”—that kind of thing – compliments. So, I think my fire combined with the first racist feedback that we got, that was so hurtful, caused us to go into rock and roll because in rock you can create your own persona, especially at the time because nothing like us had existed before. It became dangerous later on when actually I didn’t need that persona anymore, but it was still there. That’s part of the unpeeling of life. Today, my life, my work with IMA, and writing my autobiography combine to my wanting to be of service. It comes from an integration of the early pain, the ongoing pain, the understanding of pain. In Buddhism, I learned that I am not my thoughts. Playing rock and roll and being part of women’s music and Buddhism has been my way through it all. It’s a very potent intersection, and I’m just lucky that I’m living it.

I’m also lucky is that I stumbled into women’s music, which basically is a melding of music in its purest sense, with spirituality and woman’s energy in it, with a sense of learning, and a sense of politics and empathy and humanity. You have to be a humanitarian to be a feminist. So I began to study that which had happened to women, and it was really shocking.

L: I know you did a YouTube movie that takes the viewer through the years. You honored me to allow me to sing in it! I’m going to stick it here so folks can get a broader picture of your trajectory. Take a minute and check out this video folks. Here’s the URL: http://tinyurl.com/mcoqbun

L. What’s your daily life like now, June?

J: I think basically I’m in service no matter what I’m doing. I am a Buddhist. If I go to a rock conference, I’m just present for what arises. And if I’m teaching at our rock and roll girls’ camps I’m doing the same thing — being present for what arises and staying mindful of my intentions. What else I’ve been doing is writing an autobiography, taping the autobiography. Plus, I’m helping the girls who come through IMA, the younger generation, trying to be a bridge, taking them along with us,  the older generation,  and of course, I have been doing music for the past 50 years.

L: Tell us about IMA.

J: We have Girls Rock and Roll Camps here at the IMA, which is a nonprofit 501(c)3 for women and girls in music. One of our mantras is, “Changing the world one girl at a time.” We don’t try to think too big at any moment. We teach workshops, record in our studio, and teach girls the business of music. We feel out what is actually needed by each girl in the moment, and we react to that, and try to bring whatever that is into reality.

Girls playing music and working together is not a luxury. We have to have music. Every culture floats and soars and rides on music. The past is taught through music. In many, many cultures that’s how they do it—they sing the story of the past. They sing the coming of being story.

June at IMAStudio at IMA 2010

One of the compelling thoughts I pass on to girls who come through IMA is that you do what you can when you can and you have to accept that you can’t do it all at once, and you have to forgive yourself when you fail. When girls walk into camp the first day of class I say, “You’re going to fail. For sure. You cannot learn all this like ordering fries at McDonald’s. You have to be really dedicated. And it’s always a journey. So one minute you’re playing scales, the next minute you’re creating something, thinking oh I didn’t know I could do that! You’re suffering because you’re practicing and then all of a sudden you’re in that creation mode. Discipline is just not quitting. Because it’s hard. It’s really hard.

L. I heard recently, the word discipline comes from the word disciple. When we’re disciplined we are being our own disciple.

J. Yes, and you have to expect you’re going to fail but the whole point is to go for the joy.  So you put the two together, discipline and joy, and it’s always interesting what comes up. It’s chaotic, it’s life, it’s incendiary, organic — and it’s what creation is all about. I tell the girls when they’re at camp they have to learn to trust the process and trust themselves, and to forgive themselves, and to be here, really be present.  I tell them to try not to text or make calls on their phones, or go to Facebook and all that kind of stuff, but to be here now — in the moment. I think kids need to hear that now. I think they need to know they have an option. They can be very busy, their mind flitting around from one thing to the next, but they can also let all that go, and just be in the moment and see what arises. That’s the essence of meditation.

L: I know when we were young, rock and roll was all about the boys. The screaming for Mick Jagger or the Beatles and before them, Elvis, was like 200 years of pent-up libido, I think… That male sex appeal and the audacity of their strutting around the stage, being rock stars was a major turn on! It was definitely something new to see you, a girl, wailing on the guitar like a guy in those days!  What do you tell the girls you work with in camp.

J: Fanny was essentially a funk band. We loved funk and we loved ballads. We loved the girl-group songs of the era—the Supremes, the Marvelettes, the Shirelles. But the frame that we had to mold ourselves into was to play like guys, because that was all society could understand back then-they needed to see girls who could play like guys. If we were going to be successful, we had to step into that frame; so we learned how to do rock and roll. For a long time, and still even now, people just want to identify me as “that chick rock guitar player.” I am a very inquisitive person, and I’m much broader than that. In 1975 I really started to get the Buddhist teachings. I left Hollywood. I prayed for teachers and they came, and the teachings came. And that’s been my journey ever since: Buddhism, women’s music, rock and roll, and now I’m also an educator and a writer.

june at IMAJune at IMA 2010

What I pass along to the girls who come to the camps or anyone who passes within my orbit or periphery is that you have to find that place in you  that’s true to who you are. I don’t think girls should try to ape the way guys do it. Guys do it from wherever their center is and girls should do it from their center. The only thing I can tell girls is to find that place in yourself that is true and authentic and go for that. We’re always learning from other people, other genres, other styles, of course, all the time, but you have to find that place inside you that is true to you. I ask girls to think about the question, why you were born into this world, why have you slipped into this dimension? When one gets an answer to that question, it’s not easy because now you have to take responsibility for your own existence. Learning the chords to “Johnny B. Goode” or pointing your guitar like it’s a phallus is easy, but being oneself – that’s another thing altogether! Times have changed.

L. Thank goodness, is all I can say. Here’s to women and girls finding their source of passion and fire and authenticity and making noise — whether that be in math, music or medicine. It’s time for us to find our true voices and let them resonate our bodies and vibrate into the world. You’ve been doing that a long time!

Thank you, June, for what you give so many of us and for being a role model, to me. I’m thankful my path led me to join yours back in 1969. I’ve so much gratitude to be your sister and friend.

ImageRehearsal Room at Fanny Hill 1969

Folks — Look up the women who are the foremothers of this era of music. Before the Go-Go’s, before The Indigo Girls, before the 390+ and growing list of girl bands on Wikipedia as of today, there was FANNY.

I didn’t know!!!!

Hi friends,

Well, I just discovered that we can’t send embedded videos in wordpress emails! oK – so ditch the last email you received from us, and click here: The first song is worth the time to sit with it all the way through — and then, sit back (BE PATIENT). If you let go, and read each paragraph after you listen to each song, you will have an experience very different than if you try to rush through them! I hope each will bring you back to your own life,  lift you up. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays, Welcoming Solstice and the turning of the year… 

http://teentalkingcircles.com

ENJOY! 

Love, linda

Singing, Dancing and Merry alternative holiday Ditties

Hello,

It is nearly the end of the year, and we are all having the holiday experience, even if we don’t feel like it!!! It’s here — This is the time of year when I want to take a trip to the moon, but I bet there will be cheesy Christmas music up there already, too! OK, so I’m not into cheesy holiday music — any kind of it. Some of my friends see me as a downer because of this. But, wait. I protest. I just love beautiful holiday music – it’s just that I want to hear new, fresh songs that we can include — like this one… It is beautiful and meaningful… it is about caring for this precious Earth… LISTEN:

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my old boyfriend, Forrest. There was a time when I would have sung this song at the top of my cracking voice, tears dropping in sweet relief for the soul depth that such love brings.  I feel so blessed to love the people I have loved and to have them in my life, still loving them, knowing how much we gave to each other in our brief moments of mutual journeying. Our muses are arrows stinging the heart with sweet song.  LISTEN:

But, the moments, hours, days, weeks, months of pining for a lost love, “the only one I’ll ever have, there will never be another,” end… they really do. The sad thing is when lives are cut short because a young one or someone believes this lie… the soul, some say, is something we grow into — and suddenly, we know, it’s a new day… a new world… a new warmth … and our enthusiasm returns with great gusto. And love springs forth anew. Eric, my dearest – this one is for you… This one you gotta SING:

Everyone who knows me knows that two of my eternal muses are my daughters. There is nothing I have ever done, or could ever do that would amount to a hill of beans next to them. They have brought this very organization and body of love offerings to the world – these workshops, circles, books, gatherings in the name of Daughters Sisters Project (TTC). To them, and to their dad, Tom, my amazingly beautiful, big hearted wusbend, who I honor with all my  heart and soul – I dedicate this holiday lullaby. I sang this to my girls when they were little girls, most likely every night. And of course, we can’t forget the Dylan one either! SING TO YOUR YOUNG ONES:

OK OK OK, ONE Christmas song…just for Lilly and Matt, who are dancing around the office with me, in full feeling as we blast these songs full out…

Have a wonderful holiday season, all friends and family — to you, I leave you with one last ditty: One of my favorite young, enlightened sound vibe makers, Cosmo Sheldrake. This is superb holiday music! My suggestion, forget buying gifts, make compilation CDs for those you love.

Many hugs, linda (and lilly and eric — the singing/dancing office staff!)

LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE AND LOVE THE LIFE YOU LIVE!

PS… oh… nearly forgot — soon it will be Spring — and guess what, (we have to shamelessly let you know) we have two $500 off scholarships we can gift for the Yelapa Women’s Retreat (www.womenscircles.net) come dance and sing with us in Mexico – get in touch!)

October Newsletter: End of Year Fundraiser & Free TTC Handbook

“Real human warmth, compassion and connection makes life worth living…”

Awaken

10/8/13
Dear Friends,

For the first time in nearly two decades, we are having a virtual fundraiser this year to keep Teen Talking Circles healthy for the rest of the year. The reason: I’m on 75% Sabbatical this fall and winter, after 19 years as Founder and executive director of Teen Talking Circles. Why 75% and not 100% — because TTC is that important and I simply can not completely let go… I’m too concerned that we won’t be here if I do, and I know how life giving it is, how life saving it is, and I can not let that happen.

For the next six months Lilly Schneider will be helping me take care of TTC. She and Eric will be here in the office each week, making sure everything and everyone gets paid. But, we need your help. We know that we need $10,000 by December 31st. This always comes in for us in November when we hold our fundraising party. But this year, we are reaching out like this.

Please help us reach our goal of $10,000 by December 31st. Do it now, while you are reading this…and then read the rest. Simply, click here and email Lilly to make a pledge, and she will get back in touch with you.

To thank you for your pledge, we’d like to gift you  a free copy of our new, 3rd edition TTC Facilitator’s Handbook. Thanks to our printer, Alpha Graphics, we have 200 to give away! You might know a teacher, parent, counselor, homeless shelter, or other non-profit organization you’d like to gift one to. This makes two gifts!

Thank you for helping us make this end of the year campaign as successful as the year has already been. Thank you for helping us get here and keep going! Thank you for giving young people a way out — out of the pain of feeling separate, unseen, unfelt, confused, and despairing. TTC is love, pure and simple — and we all need it, especially in these teen years. “”The simplicity of circles is just incredible. You only need yourself, and two others, or three others, or however many. It transcends age, and gender. Boy, girl, young, old, it doesn’t matter. You’re all there for each other. And that’s the most important thing.” Claire Widman, Puget Sound Community School.

Love, Linda

ruins tables The Ruins, 2012 Fundraiser
Next year, we will party at the Ruins to celebrate 20 years of TTC
Stay tuned.

PPS — Here’s the skinny about 2013 thus far!

  • Over the past 12 months, our teen circles, programs, handbook, trainings, retreats, fundraisers,Youtube movies, radio interviews, magazine articles, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, TTC Blog, and conference presentations have reached thousands of people. (Included are TEDx Elliott Bay Women, Women Rising Radio, Lilipoh Magazine)
  • 40,000+ people from over 150 countries around the world, as of today, July 31st, 2013 have viewed and shared our Girl’s and Women’s Empowerment film, I Am A Full Woman (https://vimeo.com/35541100) and the comments they share are quite powerful.
  • We’ve provided 32 people from 24 organizations TTC Facilitator Trainings this year. (Included are people from Washington, DC Ethical Society, Tomales Bay Youth Center, Cliffside Malibu Rehabilitation Center, Oaks Christian School, Native American Community Academy, and  Marin Indy High School)
  • We reedited our TTC Handbook, and added new stories and experiences. It is our 4th edition.
  • We were given 200 TTC Handbooks (3rd Edition) to give away, as a donation from our printer. So, get your free copy!!!
  • We produced two fundraisers, which 284 people attended.
  • Our 2 Facebook pages and Twitter feeds have over 800+ people as friends.
  • In an initial search 40+ partnering organizations and important people are presenting TTC on their websites (including, chomsky.info; bainbridgereview.com; seattlechildrens.org; ojaifoundation.org; womenintheworld.org)
  • We have been invited to be consultants to 3 different programs, including my being present at the Generation Waking Up 4 day workshop, as an elder.
  • 13 people are on a list for a worldwide distance training (as soon as we can figure out how!)
  • Countless youth and adults have benefitted from this past year’s ways we have continued to offer TTC into the world. We can’t even keep up with the many ways those who have been touched, trained, or involved with our work is unfurling in the world. We do know that there are currently 2 master theses and 1 PhD thesis that are using TTC as the central focus of their study.
  • September 14th – A Japanese film crew from NHK, the PBS station in Japan hired TTC to run a circle of 13 youth on Bainbridge, which was filmed for a series on cell biology and teen emotions for a National Geographic Special to be shown next year.
  • group shot

September 2013 TTC Interview with David Franklin, author of Radical Men, Simple Practices for Breaking the Myth of Masculinity and Embodying Your Authentic Self

Lilly Schneider: What motivated you to write your book?

ImageDavid Franklin: It’s complicated. I’ve been doing counseling, coaching, workshops and facilitation for years and have a strong desire to create a new paradigm around what being a man could look like. I’ve realized that so many of us share a similar struggle. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that one day I’d write a book. The idea came up, and my partner was like “Just do it.” So I sat with it for a couple weeks, and then I just started writing it. I think I wrote it in three weeks.

Lilly: Wow, only three weeks? That’s awesome.

David: It just kind of came out. There really wasn’t much planning or forethought, but it’s a culmination of the work I’ve been doing for the past twenty years.

Lilly: Could you tell us a little about the work that you’ve been doing and the work you’re doing now?

David: I do individual coaching, and I also facilitate groups and workshops for men. In my work, I emphasize embodiment and presence. Rather than only talking about issues, my work focuses more on creating present moment change, in a way that men can then practice and take into the rest of their lives. Rather than a theoretical experience, it’s about providing practical tools men can use, to ultimately feel more connected to who they are, and discover more of their authentic self. My work combines numerous modalities and practices that I’ve studied over the years –from meditation to ecstatic dance, to music, to core energetic therapy, to various coaching styles all rolled into one.

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Lilly: So then does your book, as an extension of your work, provide exercises, and things people can do, with clear guidance?

David: There are fifty practices in the book, and they probably comprise the majority of the book. The rest of the book is more talking about where I’m coming from, what I’m proposing, and then how to actually achieve it.

Lilly: Was there an intended audience for the book?

David: It’s really meant for everyone. I think to some degree, the men who are going to get into it more are men who have already started thinking about it a little bit, or might have some idea that there’s more to what it means to be a man than what everyone takes for granted. I think anyone could pick it up regardless of where they’re at, and really get what I’m talking about—and do the practices. I also was hoping that women would look at it as well, hopefully women who are moms, or who are involved in raising boys— it will give them greater awareness around the possibilities of what it can look like to be a man so that they can parent or work with boys differently. Or for that matter with their partners—although a lot of times I’ve found that for men, when their partners want them to do something, they’re even more resistant to doing it.

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Lilly: So how did you get on this path? How did you find that this was your work?

David: Since I was young I had a sense of wanting to create real change on the planet. I didn’t necessarily know what that would look like, but I knew that something else was possible beyond how things were, and I just felt a strong call to do something about it, to step into leadership and to take action to create change. As a teen I went to a lot of counseling, as a client, and in my very late teens started exploring more spiritual practice, spirituality. Through those things I began to become a lot more aware, and also a lot more self-aware. I was twenty or so when I first joined a men’s group. I’d heard about men’s groups from a friend who had joined one and at first I was like, “Huh, that sounds kind of weird, I don’t understand.” Then he explained his experience and I was like “Wow, that sounds awesome, I would love something like that.” From that point on I experienced a strong resonance with it, both because of my own struggles as well as connecting and seeing how it impacted so many men. How men are expected to be seemed like such a burden to so many men, and I just really felt called to do something about it.

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Lilly: What do you see in our society that concerns you, that motivates you to do your work?

David: Men, historically and in our culture, have more power. And I think that men with that power very often misuse it, in a lot of different ways, because they’re so disconnected from themselves and from other people. A lot of our political leaders are men. A lot of people in positions of power and who make decisions are men, a lot of people who have control over how things get done are men. Realizing that, if you look at our world and the things that are happening, a lot of those things come as the result of decisions that people in power (men) have made. I think women have more so than men been willing to look at themselves and become more aware, maybe challenge themselves and challenge a lot of norms around how things are in culture. Many men really haven’t gotten there yet, and are either ignorant or in denial or stubborn, or just really don’t want to give up their power. If things are going to change, men are really going to have to step up and take the initiative and not wait for women to tell them to change or do it in reaction to that, but because they feel, “Wow, this really isn’t working” and that they have the power to do something about it.

Lilly: I think most people in the Western world would say they’re aware of the gains of feminism, the women’s liberation movement, the women’s empowerment movement. But this could be a men’s liberation movement hat perhaps the average person isn’t aware of. Carol Gilligan says in a recent interview we did, “matriarchy is not the opposite of patriarchy, it’s democracy.” Democracy is power with, not power over.

ImageDavid: In the late seventies, early eighties, there was definitely some men’s movement stuff going on, but at the same time it was nothing like the women’s movement. Where it gets tricky is people say “Oh, what’s the need for a men’s movement? Men have all the power. They’ve got it easy, they’ve got it good, so what do they need to change anything for?” Unfortunately that’s what keeps everything in check. People assume that men don’t suffer from the patriarchal system. But if you look at a lot of things that are going on in the world, it’s because men have problems and they’re not really looking at them. That impacts everyone. It impacts men, it impacts women, it impacts children, it impacts the planet. Men have all these things going on that aren’t really being acknowledged. Sure, they do have the power, and at the same time, look how they’re using it. Or misusing it.

Lilly: What are the challenges that you see facing you in your work—and what are the challenges that men face?

depression David: In my work there’s the initial challenge of just getting men to acknowledge that there is a problem. Because most men don’t want to look at it. Getting men to be open to the possibility of something beyond what is, or getting them to really look at themselves, is really challenging. And a lot of time it takes something really drastic to force men to look at themselves. It takes a midlife crisis or some severe event before men are like “Whoa, I feel totally disconnected from myself, from my family, I don’t feel happy with my work, I don’t really feel intensive meaning or purpose in my life, I feel kind of empty.” But a lot of men just don’t want to admit that. And again there’s the catch-22, because men’s programming sort of enforces the “don’t look at those things” attitude. The programming focuses them on achievement,  being big and powerful and having a lot of money; all those things that ultimately empty — not really fulfilling. So just getting men to hear the message is probably the biggest challenge. And again, the challenge is getting past the conditioning men have, getting men to be willing to feel and express their emotions, and communicate more openly with other people, getting them to have accountability for themselves and for their lives; getting them to be more active parents, and more active partners, and to actually do work in the world that’s meaningful, and that means something to them, rather than just doing it for a paycheck, just because they think it’s something they’re supposed to do.

Lilly: Thank you for talking with me today, David. Your work is so important. Best wishes.

Radical Men can be purchased online at David Franklin’s website, or checked out at your local public library. For more info go to: www.davidfranklin.net

For more info on important work by men, check out TTC board of advisor mentor, Jackson Katz. http://www.jacksonkatz.com

August Jubilee!!!

ImageHello Friends

TTC is officially no longer a teenager! We are 20 years old. I can’t believe it, actually. First, how fast time flies and second, how we keep on keepin’ on! Seems TTC is just as important now as it was then, if not more so. The world is just as confusing and just as exciting and teens are just as full of hormones, feelings, struggles, excitement, hopes, dreams, and adventurous spirits. 

We wanted you to know what we’ve been up to this past year (June to June). Because it’s because of YOU we are still here to meet the many various and awesome requests we receive to give whatever we know to others. 

Here’s the skinny – 
• In the past year, our teen circles, programs, handbook, trainings, retreats, fundraisers, Youtube movies, radio interviews, magazine articles, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, TTC Blog, and conference presentations have reached thousands of people (Included on the list are a presentation of Full woman at the TEDx Elliott Bay Women Conference, interview on Women Rising Radio, feature in Lilipoh Magazine, presentations at the Deva Premal concert and the Ruins Fundrasier, our TTC Training and the Yelapa Women’s Retreat.)
• 31,700+ people from over 150 countries around the world, as of today, July 31st, 2013 have viewed and shared our Girl’s and Women’s Empowerment film, I Am A Full Woman (https://vimeo.com/35541100) and the comments they share are quite powerful. 
• We’ve provided 32 people from 24 organizations TTC Facilitator Trainings this year. (Included are people from Washington, DC Ethical Society, Tomales Bay Youth Center, Cliffside Malibu Rehabilitation Center, Oaks Christian School, Native American Community Academy, and Marin Indy High School)
• We reedited our TTC Handbook and had 2500 new copies printed of our 3rd Edition!
• We produced two fundrasiers, which 284 people attended.
• Our 2 Facebook pages and Twitter feeds have over 800+ people as friends.
• In an initial search 40+ partnering organizations and important people are presenting TTC on their websites (including, chomsky.info; bainbridgereview.com; seattlechildrens.org; ojaifoundation.org; womenintheworld.org)
• We have been invited to be consultants to 3 different programs, including my being present at the Generation Waking Up 4 day workshop, as an elder. 
• 13 people are on a list for a worldwide distance training (as soon as we can figure out how!)
• Countless youth and adults have benefitted from this past year’s ways we have continued to offer TTC into the world. We can’t even keep up with the many ways those who have been touched, trained, or involved with our work is unfurling in the world. We do know that there are currently 2 master theses and 1 PhD thesis that are using TTC as the central focus of their study.

Our exciting next project happens on September 14th. A Japanese film crew from the PBS station in Japan has hired TTC to run a circle of 10 youth on Bainbridge, which will be filmed for a segment in a series on cell biology. How cool is this! Our local girls group starts again this Fall, and believe or not I’m taking a 75% sabbatical after 20 years from September – April, 2014. Lilly will be in charge!

Thank you again for everything you do for TTC, me, and the world. With gratitude and love, Linda 

See http://www.teentalkingcircles.org for dates of our June 2014 training and April/May Women’s Retreat. 

Joanna Newsom speaks with us, while Robin Pecknold practices. @ the Moore Theater, Seattle

ImageEric, Viox, Linda, Melanie Curran, Sean Matteson, Corbin, Joanna Newsom, Heather Wolf

Joanna Newsom Interview for Teen Talking Circles 

Well over a year ago, we met as a group with Joanna Newsom, one of the most prominent members of the modern psych-folk movement. Her recording Ys is one of the most beautiful CDs to have come out in the last few years. While we were talking backstage in her dressing room at the Moore Theater, Robin Pecknold, lead singer of the Fleet Foxes was rehearsing on stage. His gorgeous guitar and voice echoed ethereally through the halls and created the perfect background sounds for this interview.

The following conversation with Joanna addresses topics we all feel: The courage to share our authentic voice; pressures to to fit in; staying true to oneself; creative inspiration; insecurity and the songwriting process.  Feel free to forward this to share this with the teens you love and care about. 

Heather Wolf: I’ve been thinking a lot about one’s voice and true expression, particularly the female voice. I facilitate a youth arts camp where I find few young women with any musical practice of their own. I find many young women at the camps have blocks to opening that form of creative expression, because of their discomfort with being heard. I am curious about your experience with this, especially because I witness your own unique voice in your work, and recognize the courage and trust that takes. 

Joanna: I feel like I had a lot of luck and blessing to come of age creatively in an environment that really welcomed my voice — a family and music teacher that welcomed it. I had a music teacher that encouraged improvisation and composition from the very first lesson, from when I was a little child. She always valued the writing voice of her students. 

I did have a very similar experience, not only in terms of hearing someone’s singing voice, but in hearing someone’s writing voice. It was very rare, I felt, for girls to be heard. Growing up in my small town, I knew a lot of young women who were musicians, but almost all of them were classical or folk musicians and none of them wrote. It was one of those towns where all the people who were a few years older than me were in a band; amazing local bands that we were fans of. There was a certain point that I realized they were all guys, all of them, including my big brother, whom I idolized. He was in all of these rock bands and I was kind of the weirdo harpist, you know, writing music. 

For years between about age ten and age nineteen, I didn’t sing at all. I wrote music. I decided in my teens I wanted to pursue composition as a career, but I stopped singing, because I didn’t think I had a pretty voice. Prettiness or a lack of prettiness is often something that’s discussed vis a vis the female voice much more than with the male voice. Even in popular music my examples and the idiosyncratic voices that I admired were men, like Bob Dylan. And then when I was in college I started taking classes that were surveys of American music and starting hearing women’s voices that were very different than those in pop music. 

I started to realize my own voice was something I could consider to be a tool, at my disposal, in the same way that the harp was, and in the way that my compositional voice was. But it took a long time, and I sympathize with any young person, male or female, who’s trying to find their own singing voice, because if you happen to not be exposed to a very wide array of music, I feel like it’s hard to know that there are lots of ways that beauty can reveal itself in music. 

Melanie: This is just the struggle I’m experiencing, getting into the Jell-O of my own creativity. With your work, something that amazes me is the level of authenticity you bring out into the world that you don’t keep within yourself. I’m curious to know what the process of coming out is like. 

Joanna: You mentioned the idea of authenticity, being able to make music that is truly a reflection of yourself on every level, and I think I certainly went through a period in my life of inauthenticity. That happened for me, as I think it does for a lot of young people, from maybe sixth to eighth grade, when I was trying really hard to fit in. I really wanted to like the things that other people liked. The music other people liked, the clothes other people liked. I was trying to locate the appeal in those things desperately, listening to pop music, wanting to be tough—the whole gamut of things people do to be liked and admired by all their peers, and this also coincided with me not being very happy.  

I moved around in schools. To public school, then to a more creative private school,  and scattered years in Waldorf schools. Even when I was in Waldorf school in eighth grade, it wasn’t some perfectly idyllic place where the pressures of wanting to be cool didn’t apply, it just maybe had different standards. I think anywhere you are at that age, most folks struggle with that. 

Honestly, somehow, around my ninth or tenth grade year, I just stopped caring. I just stopped. I started wearing really weird clothes, and having a wide range of friends who didn’t necessarily know each other. What I think it was, actually, was that I was in love with music. 

The key, I believe, for pulling yourself out of the limbo of not knowing who you are or not embracing who you are, is to love something enough to not care. Sometimes it takes us a long time to find it. There are so many things out there, there’s so much nuance to being human beings, it sometimes takes a really long time to locate it. But for me I loved it [music] more than I loved the unattainable goal of being cool. 

I think it’s really important not to wonder too much about the question of whether what you’re doing creatively is brand new, or whether what you’re doing has never been done before. I think the only time that happens is when that’s not the reason you’re making it. The reason you’re making music is because “This brings me joy.” I might have to work through version after version of this song, or this piece of art, until it’s like a bell ringing, where you’re like “Oh wait, that’s me!” 

It is important not to judge yourself or censor yourself along the way with those questions: “Has this been done before?” or “What am I doing right now that makes this worth doing?” You just kind of do it. 

Heather: How do you work through self-criticism? 

Joanna: I work in phases. When I’m sketching out a song, I don’t let myself be too critical of it. I actually love editing my work. I love interacting with the text, transforming it by rearranging it, the syntax, nuance, and all that. There’s a way to approach it where it’s not scary and judgmental towards yourself. There are different phases where different kinds of editing come in, and the phase where I’m allowed to wonder if a song or a record is going to be terrible is when it’s finished. And then sometimes I will throw out a song, or be like “No, this one doesn’t represent what I want this record to sound like.” I make little deals with myself: hold it at bay until the work is done, and then you can tear it apart as much as you want to. 

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Linda: It’s so beautiful to hear Robin Pecknold upstairs, isn’t it? I love his music…
Just a moment ago, Melanie mentioned the word “ritual.” I’m wondering, are you a disciplined person by nature? Do you have any rituals that help you creatively?

Joanna: No. In fact music is the only thing in my life that I’ve ever had any discipline about. Ever!

Linda: So you don’t get up in the morning and ritually do yoga and meditate?

Joanna: I stay up ‘til six in the morning and sleep ‘til two some days and get a coffee and look at silly things on the internet. You know, I would deeply love to get more discipline into my life but there’s the one thing that you really love, and sometimes for people that’s lots of things, but you’re able to summon discipline around that task because it brings you joy. If you’re forcing it, if it’s a chore, you don’t want to do it.

Corbin: I play music, and when I perform it, I always feel I’m giving just a little piece of myself to an audience, and sometimes it’s received and sometimes not. Would you give insight on how that must be on a daily, yearly basis, to be constantly giving, and how you rejuvenate yourself, or when you get off balance, what you do.

Joanna: I don’t know before I go onstage whether or not it’s going to be a performance where I’m totally present, connecting with the band and the audience, or whether it’s going to be a performance where I’m struggling the whole time to get there. In a way I actually love that it’s so possible to have a terrible show, because it reminds me of the lack of control. If you could guarantee that every show you played for the rest of your life was going to be amazing, it would be so boring. There would be no stakes.

I’m still learning how to construct tours, or arrange my day before a show so that that I’m not completely run ragged by the end of a tour. I used to do seven or eight week long tours and now I’m doing three, two-week tours and then taking big breaks between them.

Linda: How do you pronounce “Ys?”

Joanna: “Ees.” It’s the name of a mythical French city on an island in Brittany, and there are various mythical and historical documents that suggest it did exist, that it sunk beneath the ocean. 

Viox: What inspired the Ys album, and what are the mythological implications of that?

Joanna: With that record, I had gone through one of the harder years of my life, in a very unquiet way. I think some years are harder in a way you can’t put your finger on; this one was hard in very notable ways, and a lot of the hard stuff of life happened over the space of basically a single year. The “Ys” idea infiltrated the record from all sides slowly. The album isn’t about that myth, but a theme that runs throughout the entire album is an excess of water, as a metaphor for the way that year felt

 I actually dreamt that the album title needed to have a “y” and an “s” in it, in some permutation of those letters, and it needed to be single syllabic, and a word that didn’t immediately connote anything for most people who picked the album up. Basically the whole album had been constructed as this very delicate and in many ways formalized or stylized projection of very brutal and simple human emotions that I had gone through. I finished it, it was like it was in a snow globe—this little hyper-stylized, detailed world, where I had been so detail-oriented, from the lyrics to the composition to the arrangements to everything, and somehow I wanted the title to feel just like a rock through a window. To have this brutality and instantaneous confrontational energy to it, like, ‘What is this word?’, ‘This is hard to pronounce’, ‘It looks funny’. I was actually reading somewhere a text about Ys, and there was a line in the text that was the exact wording of a line in one of the songs, the wording “It is that damnable bell.” It was really weird. There were all these connections that chose the title for me. 

Linda: So it sounds like you get very inspired by your own emotions and your life, really, and that is what you bring to most of your music?

Joanna: This is a very controversial position of mine, but I personally believe that every fiction that we gravitate towards, reading or writing, is some reflection or projection of our own lives and is our way of working through it. One of the reasons that, say, a novel is successful–in terms of the story that’s being told–is often because it resonates with something that has happened to many of us, an emotional truth.

Eric: I think a lot about voice, and I’ve heard you talk about composition. Were you always a songwriter, were you always writing lyrics?

Joanna: No. For a number of years, I was writing music and I was writing poetry and prose, and I was refusing to connect the two in my mind for a really long time. The missing key was that I didn’t consider myself a singer. I couldn’t write lyrics, because I wasn’t a singer. So I wrote very structurally archaic poetry, because I was drawn towards rhymes, methodical distribution of syllabic emphases, and all these older approaches to poetry that actually are more related to song structure and musicality. And then I would write these very overwrought and embarrassing short stories. I did try writing words for years and years, but not songs, until I was about nineteen or twenty. Before I was about ten years old I wrote lots of songs, before I learned to dislike my voice. [Laughs.]

 Linda: Thankfully for all of us who love music, that phase didn’t last!

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Now for the news: The last TTC Facilitator’s Training, a week ago was off the charts. Here’s a quote from one of the participants:  “Thanks to all of y’all for feeding my soul and bringing me to deep knowings that 15 years and 87,000 therapy modalities could not.” LK, Malibu. The next training is happening in September. Check here: http://ttcsept2013.eventbrite.com

LOTS OF LUV AND HAPPY SUMMER – Linda & Lilly