Jessica Lynne Witty's Christmas EP "Yuletide In My Doublewide" came out in 2018, but we are breathing new life into it with a brand new animated music video. Enjoy!
When I was in India, I learned to meditate. Or at least it was on the schedule. Twice a day at sunrise and sunset, we would meet in the main hall and meditate. The hall was the roof of the women's dormitory, a covered loft but with no walls. We could look out into the woods next to the building and see the monkeys climbing the trees. Sometimes we would even do nature meditation, and I could sit even higher, below the water tower, and watch the sun rise. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
But the meditation hours were torture. I would fidget, things would itch. My mind would go racing off to the future or to some memory from the past, never wanting to stay right there in the present moment. They called that "monkey-mind". Very fitting as we could hear the monkeys in the distance. Going to India was one of my first endeavors of self-love. I did this for me. So given this space, I started noticing how horribly I was talking to myself on the inside. I would berate myself for not being able to sit still. I would beat myself up when I found my mind wandering. I would get bored and peak with one eye to see if anyone else was having as hard a time with this as I was. I finally surrendered to the fact that I had so much to learn and adjust to during this time, so I simply decided to give up on the whole meditation thing. I would just sit there and not worry about "getting it".
I have heard people talk about getting a warm buzzy feeling during mediation. "Slipping into" the stillness of their mind. Experiencing enlightenment. I felt since I couldn't "get there" I must be doing something wrong. Maybe there was something wrong with me?
I have tried different types of meditation since then. When doing breath meditation I would find myself getting agitated. I tried zen meditation, only to find myself increasingly frustrated when I found my mind wandering and I had to go "back to 1". My most agonizing experience was a 10-day non-denomination silent retreat with 12 hours of meditation a day. I sat through it for 9 days, only to quit one day before it was supposed to end. Toward the end, I couldn't sit down to meditate without crying uncontrollably.
I wonder, how many of you have had this experience? Or a similar one? Of trying so hard to meditate, but "not getting it"?
Looking back at it now, I gotta give myself credit for really wanting this so bad. I kept hearing about all the benefits of meditation, but I couldn't seem to reap the benefits myself. On the contrary, meditation seemed to simply make me agitated and miserable. So I gave it up for a while.
I recently had what I, for lack of a better word, would call an enlightenment moment. But it didn't come through meditation. It's hard to explain since I am still wrapping my head around this baffling experience. What I can explain is how it has altered my view of meditation.
Going "back to 1", pulling your mind back is meditation. It IS doing it right. What was making me miserable were a set of factors:
The bottom line for me was my inner voice was so critical of me that I couldn't sit still with it without being miserable. Now, when I do meditate, I do it differently. Here are some of my takeaways from a decade of meditation mal-practice:
Now that I don't expect anything specific from meditating and my inner talk is more loving than ever I can sit for longer and enjoy the process more. My mind always wanders, but my reaction to it is different. Sometimes it quiets enough for a truth, a feeling, or an insight to come through. Sometimes not.
I have now started applying the "back to 1" routine to multiple areas of my life. When I want to instill a new habit, like staying away from sugar, or working on my road rage, when I find myself slipping I smile, and go back to one. No criticism. No judgment.
In the end, my buzzy warm feeling and enlightenment experience didn't even come from meditation. It came from years of seeking and reading and journaling and clearing. It came from understanding how I had been talking to myself and deciding to treat myself differently. It came from years of working on loving myself more.
This episode of my podcast is about how meditation practice was a hard one for me to wrap my head around, but how the process of going "back to 1" ultimately became a wonderful tool for self-love.
The Long Way Around was release in 2019 as part of the album "Warning Label". The song gets new life with a brand new acoustic version and accompanying music video. The acoustic version of the song will be out on October 16th, 2020. You can listen to the full version now on your preferred platform!
Jessica Lynne Witty is proud to announce her partnership with Corral Boots. "I am already a big fan of Corral Boots and own several pairs," says Jessica, "It's basically all I wear!" This was a natural partnership that took off when Jessica Lynne Witty partook in Corral Boots' own Summer Fest and showed off one of her many pairs of Corral Boots.
We look forward to a great partnership!
My first memory of uprooting my life was when I was three years old. I have this vivid memory of my mom staring off into the distance telling me we were going to Denmark. My mom and dad had recently divorced and my mom was feeling called to go back to Denmark, back to her homeland, where she had a family to help her raise three young kids. I don't remember the exact words or whether she was expecting to return. According to her, she had a return ticket, because she wanted to stay in the U.S. more than anything. I remember it being sunset and I remember her being sad. I remember feeling the significance of it.
We uprooted our lives and moved to Denmark. This was my first experience of it, but not the first time in my life this had happened. My parents had been missionaries in Chile, where I was born. Having two children, they felt they couldn't stay and moved to Tacoma, not far from where I live now. I know from their tales it was a turbulent experience for them. I know I ended up with an American passport, not a Chilean one, which at that time in Chile's political climate could not have been easy. I was six months old.
My childhood memories started in Skanderborg in Denmark, living with my grandparents while my mother looked for a place to live. We were fortunate that my dad overpaid his child support and alimony, he wanted to support us so my mom could stay home and raise us. Only as an adult do I understand how unique their understanding was. I remember not being able to communicate with my grandparents because I hadn't learned Danish yet. My first Danish word was "saftevand" which is a kind of juice. It was the best way for us to tell them if we were thirsty. Little by little the words snuck in. By the time we found a place of our own we were fluent in both languages. By the time we moved again, I was six years old answering my mom's English questions in Danish.
The next chapter of my life was a longer one. I think my mom was tired of moving around. Her entire life had been moving from place to place as my grandpa built the paved roads all around Denmark. I know she swore she didn't want to do that to her kids.
Isn't it funny how parents often try to spare their kids something that they found terrible, not knowing that their own kid would have loved it? Far be it for me to give parenting advice, but in my experience, by trying to avoid one type of trauma, we usually create another.
So Haslev was my new home for the next 11 years. Many things about Haslev were great. It's in an incredibly beautiful part of the country. With a bike, I had the freedom to go and do anything. The train ride to Copenhagen was only about 1 hour, which came in handy as a young teen wanting to spread her wings. I made friends, had crushes, dreamed about what my life would be like. I also had long stretches of not having any friends close by, feeling trapped, and feeling like my life would never start. During this time my mom would sometimes air the thought of moving to another town. Every time she did my heart would leap with excitement. But we always stayed put. The closest we ever came was when I was 16 and we visited Hillerød about 100 km north from where we were. I was exhilarated, even though I knew I wouldn't be there long. I was already planning to move out and start my own life. Once again, we stayed put.
At 17 I moved to Nykøbing Mors, to be with my then-boyfriend. Incidentally, it is believed that this town was the one used as the backdrop for "A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks", the book that created the Law Of Jante. It was the longest six months of my life.
Uprooting again I finally moved to Copenhagen. This was a city I had revered for so long I couldn't believe I was finally there. I could still go anywhere with a bike and the narrow winding streets were heaven to bike along. I went to art school. I joined my first band for a stint. I felt like my life had finally started.
In 1999 I moved to Barcelona for two years, subletting my apartment to a friend. I explain more details of my Barcelona experience in my blog post: India and Other Detours.
When I got back I had a hard time getting back to that feeling I had when I left. Instead of feeling like my life had just started, I was floundering, aimless, didn't know what to do or what I wanted. I can't even keep track of my uprooting after this. Perhaps I just never rooted. All I know is by the time I was 30 I counted that I had moved 33 times in my life. I call it my Copenhagen nomad life. I became more and more unhappy. I would move to see if that helped. I had endless stretches of three to six-month leases, moving again and again, partially due to Copenhagen's housing crisis, partially due to my own restlessness. By the time I finally settled, I bought at the top of the market before the crash in 2008 and felt trapped in an abusive relationship and a duplex I couldn't afford. The year and a half I lived here were the longest I had lived anywhere for over a decade. Like most people I had accumulated things, memories, a CD collection, my old teddy bears from when I was a kid, you name it. A flood in the garage of the house ruined everything. Including most of my art from Barcelona. By the time I up and left this horrible situation, I only took a few bags of clothing with me. I chose to leave everything else behind, it was a sacrifice I needed to make in order to sever ties from this abusive and manipulative person.
Once again, I was uprooted, but this time it felt freeing. I started noticing that I had choices, I could do things, I could be things. Don't get me wrong, I was a wreck. I lost my job due to depression, I couldn't function. I stayed on people's couches before I finally found a room. I had to make myself a new life from the ground up. And with this, in 2010, I went to India. I tell more about India in another blog post.
Upon my return from India, I felt like a whole new person. Depression was gone. And I'm happy to report it never returned. I felt clear, motivated, in tune. I felt everything deeply. Including the need to uproot my life once more. At this point, I remembered how my mom explained moving again and again, as something that would make her very unhappy. I realized that this was not true for me. Yes, I had been unhappy through all those years of living as a Copenhagen nomad, but I was also unhappy living all those years in one place, in Haslev. It wasn't the moving or the staying that hurt me. Stagnation did. I need to grow, to soar, to feel free.
So I got rid of or stored everything I owned (which wasn't much) and moved to the U.S. This time with a suitcase and a dream. I finally had that feeling again of my life starting. The one I felt back in Copenhagen years ago.
I have moved a few times during my 10-year stint in the Pacific Northwest. I have seen a bunch of this beautiful country and there are still so many things I want to see. But I have never felt uprooted in quite the same way. I think because I finally realized that stagnation comes in many forms and it has nothing to do with where you are physically. It's all mental and emotional. As long as I keep growing as a person, it doesn't matter where I live... but I sure had to move many times to finally realize that!
In the end, my heart lives in my music, and that I can do from anywhere. So whether we stay put in the house we live in now or we sell everything and buy a motorhome, it really doesn't matter. I am still soaring and growing. I am still free.
By the time the second chorus for Jessica Lynne Witty's song "It Made Me, Me" hits you are singing along under your breath. By the time her new single hits its last chorus you are belting it out right along with her. And there is no shame in that. In a country world full of seemingly endless songs that all sound insincere and generic comes a song by Jessica Lynne Witty that not only makes you want to sing along but also gives you something worth singing about. There isn't one part of the song where it doesn't resonate, and that, in todays musical world is truly a breath of fresh air. Jessica not only convinces you with her pitch perfect voice but also in the way she delivers line after line. By the end of the song you've been on a journey and you feel better because of it. "It made me, me" not only sticks out from a country song stand point but also from a pure musical song. The well sung verses that bleed into a soaring chorus and then when the guitar solo hits you are standing up rocking right along. This is a sure fire hit and is what looks to be the standout song of this summer and many summers left to come.
- K.M North from Sparrow Heart Records
Raise your hand if you feel 2020 is challenging and confusing.
Stand up and raise your hand , if you’ve found yourself curled up into a ball and crying during 2020.
Now look around. You’re not alone. We’re all struggling, trying to figure out WHAT IS GOING ON?
WHO AM I? WHAT IS NEXT?
I always appreciate it when an artist puts into words the conflict I’m going through. You hear your inner thoughts and feelings flowing through a melody, and instantly it becomes YOUR SONG. YOUR ANTHEM. Sometimes, it becomes a special tattoo.
Jessica Lynne Witty is one of those artists. Her music has become The Soundtrack For My Life. Her latest song “IT MADE ME ME”, brought me to tears. Once again, her music shows up to guide me through a brand new chapter.
The lyrics of “IT MADE ME ME” are authentic and incredibly powerful. The honest voice of truth, from a woman who is accepting of her past, while boldly embracing her future. She is empowered, rather than controlled. Her mistakes are forgiven, but not forgotten. Her successes are remembered, but not taken for granted. They’re all part of her story.
The uncomplicated instrumentals give the attention to the importance of the lyrics. They give the emotional background, without overpowering the message. That’s why picking a recording studio is SO important. They need to understand and support the artist’s vision. I love how the instrumentals bring the feeling and energy alive. Simple accompaniments until a powerful guitar riff, ¾ of the way through. It opens up a whole new emotional dynamic to “IT MADE ME ME”. In the final choruses, you feel her energy and voice grow and be filled with joy. A bright new future awaits. The lyrics were easy to remember and then sing along. Because they were thoughts and words I’ve spoken to myself.
Spending time and recording in Nashville has definitely had an influence on Jessica’s vocal dynamics. There is a more soulful country sound, which comes from being surrounded by authentic country musicians. Nashville leaves a unique brand on their artists.
“IT MADE ME ME” erases the shame that our current society creates. Give yourself grace. Be proud of your past and the person it has created. Empowered rather than controlled. It’s authentic Country, through and through.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” - from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
I just announced to the world that I am "changing" my name from Jessica Lynne to Jessica Lynne Witty. Here's the journey behind that decision. It's a bare and vulnerable one. But it's a truthful one.
When I first was met with the decision of what to call myself as an artist I wasn't sure what I wanted. Back in Denmark, the road didn't seem all that clear to me. All I knew were the first few steps. All we ever know are the next few steps. Mine were as follows:
Looking back, I then did most things out of fear, except for some few brave moments. I googled and googled, searched iTunes (Spotify didn't even exist in the US yet), and found only a photographer on the east coast under that name and a gospel singer who hadn't put anything out in a decade. So, I felt certain I had got it right.
I remember asking around to see if there was any way to protect my name. It seemed to me back then people were more involved with (and afraid of) copyrighting the music itself rather than the brand that carries it. I know I asked some lawyer friends and friends who had been in the music industry forever, but I doubt I ever asked and actual entertainment lawyer. At the time, I was so new to the music industry I didn't even know they existed. The message I got was that there was no way to protect a name.
In 2014 I first found the other Jessica Lynn, on the east coast. I was now signed to a label so I asked their advice. I asked anyone's advice who would listen. Most people had none. "Well, that sucks" was the most common reaction. But no one could tell me what to do. Even my label's advice was to "stay the course". Once again the advice was "if you're both using your actual names, there's nothing you can do".
Sometimes the ostrich approach (burying your head in the sand and hopes it goes away) works. Artists do come and go. But not this time. Because, as far as I can see, the other Jessica Lynn is a go-getter and a great artist in her own right. And I want her to be successful and have everything she ever wanted. I just wish she had done her research and not picked my name to do it under.
I stayed in this limbo for 6 years. It was heartbreaking and exhausting. Every month or so I would be confronted with the fact that there were two of us. "That's confusing" the fans would say. "But there's another Jessica Lynn" the radio people would say. The news outlets would link to her video in my article and vice versa. The presenters would put the wrong picture on the event. Within this limbo, I kept keeping myself small, because I felt like I couldn't properly do my work without constantly being compared, and comparing myself. I toyed with the idea of changing my name, even slightly, to set us apart but was met with overwhelming grief over "losing" everything I had worked so hard for. I was torn.
I do a lot of inner work, and this year I finally did my work on this scenario, both inside and out. I talked to multiple entertainment lawyers. I meditated. I talked to iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby, Tunecore, Distrokid, and many more. I saw my spiritual healer. I did my work.
According to my outer work, it turns out I have a really good case for trademark infringement. I was at one point even ready to pull the trigger and see where that would lead. But all my inner work was telling me to stop. I felt, and I looked within. I could tell this wasn't the right choice for me. I kept coming back to: "Do I want to make music, or do I want to sue people?" And the right choice for me was changing my name.
Even though I had every right in the world to fight for my brand, in my heart I knew that wasn't the right course for me. There were too many variables. The quickest way for me to get back to making music and sever this connection between us was to change my brand.
Telling this story is excruciating for me. I am noticing how blindly I was still following others. How I chose to stay in an unnecessarily painful place, simply out of fear and paralyzation. It also becomes clear to me that my obsession with numerology at the time drove me more than my own inner truth.
In rearview, we can always see where things went wrong. In 2014, when I first saw the other Jessica Lynn, I should have filed my trademark and pursued her then. I should have seen a lawyer, gotten a second opinion, protected my brand. Spent that money. But I chose to stay in the hurt and victimhood, rather than detaching myself and looking at it as a business.
This experience has taught me so much. It has taught me that there is no such thing as getting it right. It also taught me that no one can tell you what to do. Do your research and get informed, but don't listen to anything but your gut. Even if people around you don't understand. And that all you can do is your best. When you know better, you'll do better. (I have become a recent big fan of Maya Angelou!)
Would I have made this change if this hadn't happened? No, probably not. I like the brand I've created as Jessica Lynne. But it's one of those things where life happens, and we are met with obstacles. It's our choices that determine how long we have to deal with it. I chose to use this scenario I was given to deal with, as an excuse to keep myself small. I now choose to make a change that can help me grow.
I want to make this clear. This was not the "easy way out". It's going to be a lot of work and take a lot of time to get everything in place with the new brand. Most likely more work than any other option. But to me, it's the right way. And as always, the universe is showing the way. With artists like Lady A and The Chicks choosing to change their brands, it makes it less pioneering that I am too. I am doing it for different yet equally valuable reasons.