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The Pancake Cook (Pt. 1)

The other night my really close friends' daughter graduated from pre-kindergarten. Yes, you read that correctly. There was a graduation ceremony… For 5 year olds… And it was awesome. I’m talking cap and gown, diploma, musical performance (with hand gestures) and star shaped rice krispy treats to accompany a post ceremony celebration. This may not come as a surprise to you, but a few years ago when I experienced it with one of their other daughters it was a first for me. I had never seen anything like it before. Back in Milwaukee I don’t think we even had an 8th grade graduation ceremony. (Any Brown Deer alumni feel free to confirm or deny that as truth in the comment box. Awwwwww B.D.!)

Towards the end there was a slide show divided into sections with a few pictures dedicated to each child. Each one said what they wanted to become when they grew up. Seeing the adventure and innocence in those young eyes, accompanied by Francesca Battistelli’s “Write Your Story” had me a tad watery-eyed and pulled my chest down into my gut just a little bit (which I’m pretty sure is the manly way to cry). There’s something powerfully engaging and inspiring about a 5 year old sharing what they want to “be” when they grow up. A fireman. A doctor. A princess. And my favorite of all, a “pancake cook” (which I thought was a lot more innovative than this kid who got over a million views - no offense kid, or Batman).  It's amazing how most children have this wide open imagination, not filled with fear of failure, regret and cynicism, but open to a world where anything is possible.

I sat there thinking about myself and what I dreamed about back when I was 5 years old fighting imaginary storm troopers and creating worlds full of adventures with my cousins. My future was ahead of me, and the potential of what I could one day become helped encourage me through the mundane daily routine of life. But now after years of getting banged up, learning some tough lessons and grieving over the future I may never have (Steven Furtick calls this the “expectation gap”), I typically don’t dream beyond my existing perceived reality. I’m growing in this area, especially when it comes to creativity. 

There is this incredible Ted Talks by Sir Ken Robinson:  on how most education systems are “educating people out of their creative capacities.” And because of this something shifts in our brains as we are taught to value and prioritize logic over creativity. I have wrestled with the consequences of this way of thinking for the majority of my career. If you find the time to listen to this, he’s already communicated it in a way that I never could.

With that said, I will stop here and give you the chance to go and give that a listen. I have to pack and get ready to head out to LA tomorrow morning along with a list of to-do’s I’ve avoided for 3 days. I will pick it back up where I left off with Pt. 2 very soon. Cheers! (I never say that but it felt good so we're goin with it)

Don't Forget About Me

I don’t know how it happened. Or even what happened. All I know is one year passed, then two, then three… Each year would begin and end with the same difficult to embrace reality: I hadn’t released any new music. 

That’s over 150 weeks, in which every Tuesday I would watch (and somewhat listen) as thousands of songs came out. I felt lost at sea, with no engine, no sails, just paddles… watching hundreds of other ships sail off into the horizon one by one. But I kept paddling.

Back in my days in Milwaukee as a young inspired artist with tons of energy, creative innocence and “know-it-all” ignorance, I used to get mad when my favorite artists took a long time to come out with music. I remember when Brian Mcknight’s 2nd album (if I remember correctly) was delayed. “Come on man, how hard is it to put out music?” I thought. “This is what you do for a living. If I wasn’t in school I’d be putting out an album every year.” My passion was sincere yet naive. I had yet to learn how challenging and painstaking it is to persevere in continuing to write, record and release innovative quality music in the midst of life’s variables of ups and downs. Great art comes with a high price. So does following your calling.

So here I was, three years of silence. And the longer the silence went on the harder it was to break it. I had spent years working very hard to break through walls to get to where I was, yet here was another mountain in front of me. And this one was different. It felt like no matter what I tried nothing was working. I know what having momentum on your side feels like, which makes not having it all the more grueling.

Early 2014 I started recording new songs and performing them at shows. I figured I would release them that summer. But there wasn't a system yet in place to properly market those songs. And with no marketing strategy there was no deadline. And without a deadline songs never get finished. I was traveling a lot, and schedules weren’t lining up. Not to mention I’m a recovering perfectionist. Fear and shame frequently work their way into my thinking and feeling. I wrestle believing God’s truth about me at times, and settle for lies. Honestly, it's hard for me to be vulnerable because B.Reith is a brand, and i benefit if you buy into it. But my name is Brian. I am a human being. I am incredibly gifted by an amazing God. But I struggle with a list of character defects that I could blog about for days.

So this makes me a perfect candidate for God to use and show off how amazing He is. His grace truly is sufficient, and His timing is perfect. I have a lot of regrets. But it doesn’t matter. Because I’m here, right now, communicating this to you, with a smile on my face (you’re gonna have to trust me on that). I've learned so much in the past three years. I truly believe I'm going somewhere, and I want you to come along with me. The journey starts here, picks back up right where I left off. And since making music is what I'm best at, well I figured I'd start by giving you a free song. And non-coincidentally it's entitled "Don't Forget About Me."

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