What yoga taught me about life

A few months ago I started taking a Yoga class at our local recreation center. I’ve always avoided yoga. Just thought it wasn’t for me. As I am aging, however, I’ve noticed my joints are stiffer and I’m just not as flexible as I used to be. Thus the need for much more stretching. Several of my friends have started yoga and they found great health benefits from it.

The other reason….

For several years now I’ve tried with doctors and nutritionists to lose weight. It has been a frustrating process. The verdict? I’m way overstressed. Really? What do I have to be stressed about. I’m happily married, 2 great kids. I think just the balance of life, raising kids, working, building a career as an artist, running my own entertainment company oh and…cooking, cleaning, laundry, volunteering at school & church. I guess I do have a lot on my plate! Taking Yoga has been  great exercise for me but also a great opportunity for me to be mindful of self-care. Something we women seem to forget about too easily. Between working,caring for our families and our homes, volunteering, we can be overloaded on a daily basis. Taking the time to be in class was a huge shift for me to slow down for my health’s sake. Our instructor is a lovely, gentle woman who  reminds us to take things slowly and listen to our bodies via what hurts and what does not. We will make progress as we continue. Hurting ourselves to prove something doesn’t accomplish anything. First class, I  was reminded of this all important lesson though, not just in yoga but in life. It’s this: “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHERE YOU ARE. Be gentle with yourself, not allowing your ego or judgement to come in play. There are no Yoga police.”  Hmm…although I’ve heard that in a million ways over the years, I’ve never adopted it for myself. Learning to stop judging myself, especially as I am aging has been an eye opener.  Life changes and we change. Life gets crazy sometimes and everything we always did may not get done this week, month or even this year. Focus on what is important.

LIFE can be challenging…..give yourself a break. Done is better than perfect. Mistakes are okay. It means you are trying. Give your best to everything you do and forget about comparison. Truly, it just delays progress. You have to start from somewhere and where you currently are… is just fine.    🙂



Happy 2015!!

Happy New Year! 

        Lots of exciting things happening in 2015 here at Debbie Cunningham Jazz. How about you? Check back each month for updates to shows, travel, photos from the road and an occasional recipe from my gluten free findings!   My schedule is filling up with interviews, performing at private events, teaching/speaking engagements and of course songwriting and recording. To keep updated  and to get the INSIDERS SCOOP, please join my newsletter sent out twice monthly…. and it will include free song downloads and lots of personal behind the music updates which I don’t share on my blog! Join here


April showers & Spring flowers…..

The Biltmore Estate 201

Spring! It always comes after the bleak of winter. Maybe that’s why so many of us love spring. We are so excited to see  the beauty that comes from the cold, dreary gray of winter….at least we are here in TN! Have you been in a “winter” season lately? Life not turning out in the way you had hoped? Please be encouraged that after the winter there is always a spring. Keep hanging in there….working and waiting; tilling the soil and planting the seed. Eventually there will be a harvest if you are consistent to keep watering that work or dream of yours. Maybe even that relationship of yours? There will be a harvest in time 🙂

This picture was taken 2 years ago when we visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I don’t believe I have ever seen more beautiful tulips! And so many!! Such a lovely display of springtime flowers. At my writing of this post- it’s Easter time! So here’s a little tip for all of you coloring Easter eggs...put 1 tsp of baking soda in the water when you boil the eggs and they will always peel easily! Sounds crazy but tried and true!

I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend……and Happy Spring!!





Failure just another turn in the road to success…..

We’ve all felt like a failure from time to time. I mean life does not always work out the way we thought it would. I have to remind myself in those moments that failure is part of the plan to a better journey. What? Yeah…I just said that. Failure hurts. it feels so frustrating doesn’t it? It feels like a waste of time,effort and frequently resources that were slim to begin with. Interestingly, failure is frequently just a turn in the road to find a better way. A few years ago, I was approached by a management company to help grow my career as an independent artist. I was so excited! Finally, I was going to have someone helping me. Wearing all the hats in any business can be overwhelming. This was such a good thing…or so I thought! After 8 months, things were not working out so well. The booking agent this company had hired was promising tours but not actually booking dates for me and he was building his own company on the side. (can you say conflict of interest?) The photographer hired delivered less than stellar photos and the website designer locked me out of my current web site and never built one for me. Lots of headaches. Then….there was a big announcement that my management company was working with a group to put me on a national tour. These were industry vets who had worked with all the major labels in town. Finally something! So exciting! The big day for the national tour meeting arrived. My husband and I went into the meeting room with the tour company and the spokesperson for the management company said, ” Okay, before we get started, we need to announce that we are no longer going to manage any artists.”  I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. What? I thought we were meeting to discuss a national tour roll out? Then they basically introduced us to each other and said we could work out details of working together for a national tour amongst ourselves. The tour company was just as surprised as I was. We exchanged pleasantries as we all stood reeling from the info-bomb that was dropped into our laps. We moved on to a professional conversation about what a tour might look like and they would email me a calendar roll -out and the fee schedule. Then we left. What a disappointment. I felt like such a failure.  Why hadn’t I seen this coming?  There was lots of frustration but I had been trying to be gracious because they were a start up, independent company just like me. As a solo independent artist, I knew I was not going to be able to afford the fees associated with a National tour company. I quickly had to regroup and had the task of getting back my intellectual property  as well as some other legal matters. What a nightmare.

And yet….

It was in the following weeks and months that I realized how much strength I truly had. I had acquired a lot  of knowledge over the years as an Independent Recording Artist and wearing all the hats! I then hired someone to re-build my artist website and I was up and running again. It wasn’t easy and it took some time. But things that are worthwhile never see to come easily.  I managed to rebuild the momentum I  lost in that year with the management company, write songs for a new album and all while maintaining my roles as wife and mom too. It is through the struggle a butterfly has in leaving the cocoon that it gains strength in its wings to fly. I wrote a song about that. It’s called Fly. You can listen to it here. Now I understand even more fully that lesson. Is there an area of your life or business that you are struggling with or feeling like a failure right now?  What would happen if you viewed it as a turn in your road to success instead of a failure? What have you learned? Comment below. I’d love to encourage you in your journey to Fly……

Beach Vacation and productivity

Recently, I went on a beach trip with some girlfriends. This is NOT the norm for me. I usually only vacation with my husband and children. I travel for business usually alone but seldom do I take the time to decompress from ALL my responsibilities with girl friends. Except for the occasional ladies retreat at church. Still, there is an agenda for me there too-drawing closer to God for the weekend. This, however, was a trip where there were no expectations. No rules except everyone was responsible for themselves. Period. Want to go to the beach? For a walk? to dinner? Be with people or be alone? All OKAY! Everyday, I got up early as usual, made coffee and breathed in the silence as I watched the sun’s reflection rising over the waves. After coffee, I walked by myself for 1 1 /2 hours alone with my ipod along the water’s edge. (oh…mom..FYI…There were other people on the beach…just not walking with me) Some of you are laughing right now but my mom reads my blog and once a mother, always a mother (now that I am one-I get it) and I don’t want her to worry!  After that, I joined my friends who were  already sunbathing! Hours of catching rays, eating frozen grapes, grabbing lunch or just a snack. Reading a book or listening to music uninterrupted. Maybe a nap or another walk later in the day. Then showers, dinner, and a sunset break on the clear evenings….but NO email or work for me. Strange….in fact, my intention was to catch up on some work while there but I just couldn’t focus. My mind needed a break from everything- so I took it. Amazingly…as the week progressed, I found that creative ideas began to flow effortlessly into my head  for things I had been wrestling with for weeks before I left. I wrote them down so I didn’t forget but did not try to expound on anything. Just rest.WOW! What a difference. Now I am back home and my head is clearer, more organized and my productivity is definitely improved for all my work and responsibilities. Things that were stressing me out seem smaller now. So besides getting lots of R&R I decided to reflect on what really made the difference.

#1 First things first-

Everyday instead of hopping on email or FB first thing, I walked. I gave myself something I needed-exercise! (ok and a beautiful view!) Granted, at home I am getting breakfast for the family in the wee hours before school but after that I can delay email and walk first. The world will not fall apart if I don’t respond to email before 8 am!

#2 Less technology!

Yes, I listened to music and posted a few pics of the beach to face book but I did not feel the need to read email and stay current on everyone’s FB posts. My brain needed a break from constant contact and constant information! This alone cleared my mind! Technology is wonderful but it can put us on overload if we are not careful!

#3 Learning to take time every day to appreciate the beauty around you.

Each night at the beach when the sky was clear-no matter what we were doing- we took a sunset break. A few minutes to view the gorgeous color in the sky over the water. Something about that awe inspired view was stress relieving. I actually do that at home sometimes…but most days I am too busy and I forget. Appreciating the beauty around you even for just a few minutes can renew your senses.

#4 Find people in your age and stage to do life with and laugh often!

The fact that most of us were the same”age and stage” of life meant we had a lot in common. It seemed there was always something funny happening or being said and we would erupt into a chorus of laughter together! I LOVED that! It was fun to just chat about our lives, get to know each other better etc. Did I mention that these women were not my best friends….some were strangers and others were acquaintances I have known for years through church but truly did not “Know” much at all except their stats-husband ,3 kids and grandma to be, for example. Everything wasn’t all rosy in our lives either….we had all experienced or were experiencing trials or grief through unexpected circumstances and we were still able to find laughter and joy in the moments.

Through this trip, I was reminded once again how important it is to take care of ourselves ladies!  You know when the flight attendant comes over the intercom to say, “Please secure your own oxygen mask before you try to help someone else.” Well, it is that way in life. We must take care of ourselves if we want to be able to care for others. Let’s face it, as women, we have a lot going on! Most of us have spouses, families, jobs and houses to take care of….then there is extended family, friends, charities or PTO’s and committees….etc. It’s a never ending list. We must pick and choose what rises to the top of those lists and we need to keep ourselves from staying at the bottom or we will never be as productive as we would like to be!

All this from a beach trip…….I’d say that was productive! 🙂