Creative Space with Jennifer Logue

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez On Rediscovering Joy in Creativity and Her New Book

June 30, 2024 Jennifer Logue
Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez On Rediscovering Joy in Creativity and Her New Book
Creative Space with Jennifer Logue
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Creative Space with Jennifer Logue
Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez On Rediscovering Joy in Creativity and Her New Book
Jun 30, 2024
Jennifer Logue

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On today’s episode of Creative Space, we have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez, a world-class oboist who shares her transformative journey from burnout to bliss. Learn how her experiences at Juilliard and her subsequent creative recovery led her to establish Artists for Joy, a thriving community that helps artists overcome their blocks and rediscover joy in creativity. 

Merideth delves into the profound impact Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" had on her life, and how it inspired her to pen her own book, "The Artist's Joy."

Together, we explore a holistic definition of creativity inspired by Eric Booth and underscore the importance of self-care. Merideth's personal anecdotes and practical tips illuminate the cultural and spiritual challenges artists face while emphasizing the power of small, consistent steps in achieving creative goals. This episode is a heartfelt exploration of finding sustainability and joy in your artistic journey. Enjoy!

For more on Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez, visit: artistsforjoy.org. 

To sign up for the weekly Creative Space newsletter, visit: eepurl.com/h8SJ9b.

To become a patron of the Creative Space Podcast, visit: bit.ly/3ECD2Kr.

SHOW NOTES:

0:00—Intro

2:18—Hosting her first creative cluster

3:52—Discovering Julia Cameron in 2016

5:50—Life in Detroit, Michigan

6:56—Merideth’s first creative outlet

8:00—”Music was a getaway car.”

8:18—Growing up in a creative family

10:10—Falling in love with the oboe

11:15—The influence of “Appalachian Spring,” Barbara Streisand and Emile Pandolfi

13:15—A musical life with her husband and daughter

15:30—Merideth’s definition of creativity

17:58—Using achievement to outrun shame

19:30—How Merideth got unstuck 

22:11—The difference between being good and being well

24:00—The creative devotion routine

26:30—Her new book, “The Artist’s Joy”

30:35—80% of musicians struggle with anxiety or depression 

33:28—Social media can be really toxic for artists

38:30—What’s next for Merideth?







Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

On today’s episode of Creative Space, we have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez, a world-class oboist who shares her transformative journey from burnout to bliss. Learn how her experiences at Juilliard and her subsequent creative recovery led her to establish Artists for Joy, a thriving community that helps artists overcome their blocks and rediscover joy in creativity. 

Merideth delves into the profound impact Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" had on her life, and how it inspired her to pen her own book, "The Artist's Joy."

Together, we explore a holistic definition of creativity inspired by Eric Booth and underscore the importance of self-care. Merideth's personal anecdotes and practical tips illuminate the cultural and spiritual challenges artists face while emphasizing the power of small, consistent steps in achieving creative goals. This episode is a heartfelt exploration of finding sustainability and joy in your artistic journey. Enjoy!

For more on Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez, visit: artistsforjoy.org. 

To sign up for the weekly Creative Space newsletter, visit: eepurl.com/h8SJ9b.

To become a patron of the Creative Space Podcast, visit: bit.ly/3ECD2Kr.

SHOW NOTES:

0:00—Intro

2:18—Hosting her first creative cluster

3:52—Discovering Julia Cameron in 2016

5:50—Life in Detroit, Michigan

6:56—Merideth’s first creative outlet

8:00—”Music was a getaway car.”

8:18—Growing up in a creative family

10:10—Falling in love with the oboe

11:15—The influence of “Appalachian Spring,” Barbara Streisand and Emile Pandolfi

13:15—A musical life with her husband and daughter

15:30—Merideth’s definition of creativity

17:58—Using achievement to outrun shame

19:30—How Merideth got unstuck 

22:11—The difference between being good and being well

24:00—The creative devotion routine

26:30—Her new book, “The Artist’s Joy”

30:35—80% of musicians struggle with anxiety or depression 

33:28—Social media can be really toxic for artists

38:30—What’s next for Merideth?







Jennifer Logue:

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Creative Space, a podcast where we explore, learn and grow in creativity together. I'm your host, jennifer Logue, and today we have the pleasure of chatting with Dr Meredith Haidt Estevez. She's a world-class oboist, having performed with top orchestras all around the world, served on faculties at numerous schools of music and is also the host of the award-winning podcast Artists for Joy. Her first book, the Artist's Joy A Guide to Getting Unstuck, embracing Imperfection and Loving your Creative Life, just came out this spring. I'm honored to have her on the podcast. Welcome to Creative Space, meredith. Thank you, jennifer. I'm happy to be here. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited to have you on the show, and your book is amazing, so big congrats there, thank you, yes, now, before we dig into your early life and your career journey and all that good stuff, do you want to talk about Artists for Joy? It's a podcast, but it's also a community, right?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Sure, absolutely, yeah. I founded Artists for Joy in 2017 as a way to explore creative recovery. I got to the end of 12 years of higher ed in music, including degrees from an Ivy League institution as well as the Juilliard School, which is some of the most world-renowned competitive music schools in the country. Maybe the world and I was experiencing a deep sense of burnout and creative block. I wasn't. I begin my book with the story of standing on 65th street and Broadway holding my diploma for my dad's phone at my junior graduation and just thinking how am I going to do this for the rest of my life when I don't even like music anymore? Oh, wow. And so I was just so lost and looking for meaning and looking for a way to bounce back and to be able to have a career in music that I started this organization called Artists for Joy and it really began looking into Julia Cameron's book, the Artist's Way as a tool for creative recovery, which I'm sure you know a lot about, and it was a really powerful.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

We met in person.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

We lived in Wilmington, delaware, back then, my husband and I and we had an incredible group of artists from all over the discipline different disciplines as a spoken word poet, a musician, a visual artist, a woman who called herself an artist of life, and that was really how we began, and that was in 2017. And then, in 2020, we moved everything online and continued the creative cluster groups and, as of this year, we had over 3,000 people register for the latest creative cluster cohort this past February and we had over 600 people in attendance at the first meeting, and so we do a lot with helping people bounce back from creative wounding, creative block and to to find joy again in the work they do. So I'm a trained coach. Now we have a Patreon where we do a monthly meetup, and then the creative clusters are free. They're going to always.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

As long as I can, I want to do those for free because it's such a powerful way for artists who are struggling to find community. And so the podcast the podcast is is really how I found my, my sea legs, so to speak, with um, what I wanted to write about and the work I want, how I wanted to share the work of creative, creative recovery with the world, and that that's a little bit about my community and the podcast and how it all began.

Jennifer Logue:

So cool. Now, when did you first discover the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

So it was right around then I got married in 2016. And my husband, who is a Presbyterian minister and a Latin jazz drummer, he was very. He came from a very different, he was cut from a very different cloth than my Juilliard Drain self, and so he was like you should read this book. I've heard that you would, you know, could really benefit from thinking of creativity as a spiritual practice, which, even though I was a longtime person of faith, I'd never put two and two together there, and so my husband recommended it to me and encouraged me to find community with it back in 2016.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh so cool? No, because I'm. This is my first time doing the book this year and like I had it come into my life a few times, but I just wasn't ready for it, like the first time I was too. I was so young and just very much in my ego. I don't need someone to tell me how to be creative.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Totally Well, and we have people who come around. You know we were leading two cohorts of Julia Cameron's book, two 13-week cohorts per year, twice a year, and we have people who've done it five or six times in a row with us, I mean, and so it's always, you know, if you're listening to this and you've tried to get into the artist's way, um, but you weren't able to. Or like you, jennifer, like if you, if it came to you at the wrong time in your life, don't be afraid to try again. Um, and and I know we're not talking about my book yet but the artist joy, my book, is really in conversation with Julia Cameron's book. I designed it to sort of be a continuation of that creative recovery journey that, after you claim the title artist, after Julia Cameron's book helps you do that. How do you stay, choose wellbeing and stay well as an artist? And that's really where my book, the Artist's Joy, kind of picks up the conversation. I love that, yeah.

Jennifer Logue:

And we're going to dig into that when we talk about your book a little later on in the conversation. But yes, love it, love it, love it. So where are you calling from today?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

So we live now. We left Wilmington in 2021 and we moved to Metro Detroit, Michigan, and so I'm calling from here today. It's bright and sunny. In June it's sort of like who knows what the weather's going to be like, but it's a beautiful day here in Metro Detroit.

Jennifer Logue:

So this is not to make this about me, but I was. I almost bought a house and I would have moved to Wilmington, Delaware, in 2021. Oh really, I was like this close. I ended up buying in the suburbs of Philly, but it's you know, yeah.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

It's a great area. We, my family and I loved it.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, it's a great area. My family and I loved it. Yeah, love it. So now you're in the suburbs of Detroit, and where are you from?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

originally. I'm originally from South Carolina, which is where you can place my accent from. I grew up in Abbeville, a really small town in the upstate of South Carolina.

Jennifer Logue:

Very cool and you're so multi-talented and you have a multifaceted career. You started out as an oboe player and then you branched down to teaching and then the podcast and now you have your book. What was your very first creative outlet?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Wow, I love that question I in in my book. I begin with sort of asking the reader that same question Like what, what was your artist childhood like? And therefore, what is your inner artist child needing and asking for these days? And so I would say, you know my first outlet, the first thing I remember is singing Broadway show tunes at the top of my lungs in my parents old historic house in South Carolina with that had really high ceilings.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And I would wait until everybody else left. I came from a big family. I'm number three of four children and I would wait until I was alone in the house and I would just open up my voice in front of the mirror as a 10, 11-year-old girl and I love the idea of being on stage and I played violin as a as a little kid when I was three, and then I played piano by ear and I joined the band when I was in ninth grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, and so I was really. The arts were really. As Ann Patchett uses the phrase, the writing was her getaway car and for me music was was a getaway car. It was a way for me to sort of go on my own path into the world away car. It was a way for me to sort of go on my own path into the world. And so I was born creative and have followed that creative impulse everywhere and it rarely leads me astray.

Jennifer Logue:

Love it Now. Did you grow up in a creative family?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

You know I think my parents are creative. My mother was the elementary school librarian at my elementary school and so she taught me to love books and she even wrote some illustrated little children's books for the library about how to keep the library books nice and things like that and she was a really creative influence on me because she was a great mom and a great teacher. My grandmother played piano. I have a cousin who is a multi-Grammy award-winning guitarist, clay Ross in the band Ranky Tanky, and so I have some artists in my family, but I would say I'm the creative one.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

quote unquote between all of me and my siblings Cool.

Jennifer Logue:

There's always one of us, right? Yes, yes, exactly. Was your family supportive of us, right? Yes, yes, exactly. Was your family supportive of you going into the arts professionally?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

They were absolutely.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Yeah, I reflect on that in the book I write about belonging and how so many of us as creatives struggle to find to feel like we fit in, and we often find community at the community theater in town or in the band room or in the art classes, and so I think it's art is just a really powerful community builder and it can help people experience belonging.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And my parents really. They let me go to the Abbeville Opera House, which was our community theater. They let me go there on Friday nights, even though it was like the football games and my parents were sort of sports people, and so I'm so grateful for the ways that they drove me to oboe lessons an hour and a half away, and let me, you know, go to boarding school for my junior and senior year of high school to study music. And so, yeah, my parents were, were really supportive, even though for a while they they weren't sure what the oboe was and if it was going to sound any better than like a dying duck in there in the upstairs bedroom or whatever. But yeah, I had a great, a great childhood.

Jennifer Logue:

When did you first fall in love with the oboe?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Well I, so I used to listen to instrumental music. I kind of found my. I found orchestral music via Broadway Right and my band director. I really wanted to play clarinet because I thought I just love the sound of the clarinet. I still do. But he said my band director said, if you want to get a scholarship to college, playing double reeds are really they're less common, and so if you're a really good double reed player and the fact that you already can read music a little bit, um, you'd make a great oboist and he's like you also seem like you'd really want to challenge.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Because I was determined and sort of headstrong kind of person and so I didn't really know much about the oboe at all.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

When he handed me an instrument and I first took lessons with someone who's a good friend now, who was like a year older than me in school, who'd been playing a couple more years, and so I instantly found a friend in the section and the band director gave me a box set of Aaron Copland's music and if you, if you know Aaron Copland, he's Americana, just beautiful scores, and his piece Appalachian spring was had a really big impact on me, especially the last movement. It's this beautiful lush string writing, with some flute and oboe in there. And it just, I was, I just remember, lying on my floor in rural South Carolina, in Appalachia more or less, and wanting to know what made this music so beautiful, longing to understand it and to sort of be inside it and to be part of it, and so that was really. That was probably, you know, when I was 14 or 15 years old, and so I it's sort of the the oboe bug bit me and I just, you know, decided to take it as far as I could.

Jennifer Logue:

So cool. Um, who are your biggest inspirations in your early years? Wow?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

I listened to a lot of Barbara Streisand years, wow. I listened to a lot of Barbra Streisand and I feel like her confidence and her funny girl was a movie. I had the VHS and I to this day have every song memorized.

Jennifer Logue:

I still sing that. Don't Rain on my Parade. I sing that when I need a confidence boost. That is my song. I hear you influence.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

There's a pianist, his name is Emil Pandolfi and he was one of the top record sales in classical music in like the 90s and early 2000s. For his music that was sort of like like if you walk into a gift shop, for example, around that time you'd hear a CD of like classical, you know soothing piano music, and it was Emil Pandolfi and he, my mother, had like every Emil Pandolfi album ever, and whenever they would have parties, my parents would like play this music and and so that was another big influence, kind of melding Broadway with classical and sort of helping me say like hey, this is something you can do and this is a career and and so, yeah, those are, those are some early influence.

Jennifer Logue:

So cool, and who are your biggest?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

inspirations. Now, well, I think the first person that comes to mind is my husband, who is a continuous, he's like a joy machine. I mean, he's just. He's one of those people who, I mean, I really credit him with helping me find joy for music again, because it was his gentle calling me towards that childlike joy for music and because he's a jazz musician and because he's a percussionist. It's all about vibe and feel and dance and movement and just this deep, deep human-ness. And he's just, he's a person of deep faith and deep belief in the power of music to move us. And you know it's so. He's a, he's a really big influence now, and sometimes we play together. Because I don't play jazz, because I can't improvise, sadly we don't play together as often as I'd like, but my daughter, our daughter, plays cello and so we'll do like a family jam, jam session, and now she's she's kind of getting old enough to be able to do that, and so those, those moments are really, really joyful.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh my gosh, that's beautiful. That's the dream right there.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Yeah, it's, it's good stuff. Well, and I I want to say to influences wise, my oboe professor that I studied with in Germany. His name is Nicholas Daniel. I interviewed him for my podcast about what is not a toxic teacher. So the opposite of a toxic teacher. That's a good topic. Yeah, because so many of us in the arts have experienced toxicity in with our teachers. And so, um, he is a conductor, he is um, he's in England, conductor, oboist, international soloist. He's amazing. So Nicholas Daniel is, in terms of oboe, wise. He's my, he's my influence these days, so cool.

Jennifer Logue:

Now, meredith, this is creative space and I love asking this question of everyone, but what is your definition of creativity?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Yeah, yes, I think that creativity is making things we care about, and I borrow that from Eric Booth, who is a teaching artist who I studied with at Lincoln Center Education, and I want to kind of demystify this definition of creativity, because we think it's this thing that needs training and skill, and, yes, certain types of creativity can need that. But I love to empower people to take up the name artist and to use their creativity to make whatever it is they care about and to savor the joy. And maybe that's a meal or an outfit or a set of file folders, right, we can embed creativity and creative joy in everything we do because in essence, we're doing that all our lives, we're creating a life, and to make creative choices means to remember that we care about the things we're making in our life and to see everything as a creative opportunity for creative joy.

Jennifer Logue:

That's beautiful. Now I read in your book that you felt stuck at a certain point. You brought this up earlier in the podcast interview, but from where I'm standing, you always seem to have had this super fulfilling, creative life, like you're traveling the world, performing, teaching, like it's just a dream, right, but you felt stuck. Do you want to dig more into that? Like how you got at that point?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Sure, yeah, I feel like we always tell the story online, right Like the real life. We don't see real life on Instagram. So I think that's first that's a really important thing to say that all of us are not sharing the ups and downs of life with the world necessarily. And when you read someone's bio and you read their resume or you read their curriculum vitae, it's like, oh, this person has it all together all the time, and I work with a lot of coaching clients and I bet you do too who do appear to have it all together in some professional way, or maybe they're choosing to take a break, because it's not really about the way it looks outwardly. It's about whether or not you're able to feel joy and sustain the level at which you're working. Right, that's what I'm about.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

I'm about sustainability because the way I was working when I was pushing through school and trying to succeed and strive and get all these degrees and have a doctorate from Juilliard, I was doing that to outrun shame, the shame of not being good enough, the fear of not, you know, of being a little girl from Abbeville who knows nothing, and this truly like deep, deep feeling of inadequacy and shame. And, as long as you're creating from a place of shame. It's not going to be sustainable because it's not. There's, like you said in a recent episode, there's no why. The why behind that does not align with who you long to become and who you're meant to be, and so it's going to be in discord or dissonance with that and therefore it's not going to be sustainable.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And so, for me, stuckness meant I could not keep going at the level that I used to do. I just I couldn't, I couldn't push anymore. I I wasn't getting joy, even from big accomplishments Like the like. I might get like a little hit of like, oh wow, I got an award, or oh, I got a faculty grant or whatever, but it was just like the. The light in my eyes was gone, that's what it looked like.

Jennifer Logue:

I know that feeling.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Mine's just starting to come back to be honest. Yeah, yeah. It's really hard, and I bet people listening to this know people who you miss the light in their eyes. You miss the light, yeah, and so that's how stuckness felt to me. So what did you do to get unstuck? Well, if you buy my book, you can learn all about it If you're listening to this please buy the book.

Jennifer Logue:

It's wonderful. I'll link to it in the show notes.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Thank you. The first step, the first question I usually ask my coaching clients is what did you have for lunch today? Because I want to know how well are you taking care of the instrument that is you, the creative instrument that is you? And so in the book I outline, you know, I actually have a checklist of all the things that you know you can do to take care of yourself, like what doctor's appointments do you need to make? How do you, how can you, begin to see yourself as, as Julia Cameron says, a precious object? Treating myself like a precious object makes me strong. Okay, so that's from the artist's way.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And so having a sense of true and and self-care is is a word people throw around a lot and it is important.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

But I think it's important to also remember that self-care is not always fun or easy, or and sometimes it feels worse at first than it feels better Like, if you go to therapy and start dragging up all of your trauma, it's going to, it's going to bring stuff up and it's going to make you feel worse than it is to just continue stuffing it down. And yet, if we're going for sustainability, we know that that's what we have to do. We have to get the surgery to remove the bullet instead of just putting a Band-Aid on the bullet hole right. So that's the first step is to look at yourself with compassion and with a deep sense of you know, knowing that I can't create. It's like the Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I can't go and create art when I am not fueling my body or when I'm not sleeping or when I'm dealing with a mental health crisis, like that's not something that I can't ask myself to do, that when I don't have these deep foundation things, that's the first step to getting unstuck.

Jennifer Logue:

That is amazing. I actually just heard something recently on a podcast. It wasn't about creativity, but just about the hierarchy of needs, and you can't go out and do all these other things if those primary needs aren't met. And I love how you describe us as vessels of our creativity. We need to take care of those vessels, because I feel like some artists have that starving artist mentality and they just work to the bone and that's not sustainable. So I love what you're doing, your philosophy on that, on being well, and, on that note, what is the difference for you between being good and being well, which you talk about in your book?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Yeah, I heard this interview with Elizabeth Gilbert talking about how it's really easy to feel good, quote unquote.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

In our culture, it's as easy as picking up your phone, right? Because you get a hit of dopamine from all the apps and we have substances and we have all the things that make us feel good. But feeling well is something else entirely, and Sarah Bessie, another author I love, talks about the difference between self-comfort and self-care. And so it's the same idea that we need to be well is a lot of work and self-care is a lot of work. To be well is a lot of work and self-care is a lot of work. And so to be well, to work to be well as an artist, it means debunking that tortured artist stereotype, believing that great art can come from pain as we process and bring it to the page, but it can also come from joy, and the joy is where the sustainability really is going to be, so that 20, 30, 40 years from now, you're still writing poetry, you're still making music. That's what I want, that's what my passion is to help creatives find sustainability and joy over for the long haul.

Jennifer Logue:

Love, love, love, love. Because the thing is, when you stop, if it's not sustainable, what's going to happen is you're going to stop doing your thing. Like I stopped making music for years and I got increasingly unhappy. And the podcast this podcast made me get back to it because in the course of these interviews I was like, oh my God, I'm not quite done with music and like my joy is coming back just doing it again, not really sure where it's leading. But that's another conversation for another day.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

But well, I loved hearing in a recent podcast episode where you talked about, you know, how you're sharing your practice videos on TikTok and, like you're not really sure why, except for the accountability, like you know, and I think that's so powerful, and it's an example of something I talk about in the book with chapter three is the creative devotion routine, and so finding another way to get unstuck is to find a way to spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to really experience what I call creative devotion, and it's something where you're devoting yourself to, you're showing up to the page, to the cursor, to the music stand, and you're looking for the fundamental of what's there. And so, for musicians, it's scales, it's long tones, it's patterns that are effortless, it's reminding yourself that there's something already vibrating. There's not an infinite number of notes. It's something you just get to show up and participate in. It's play, it's a chance for you to show up and try without feeling like you have to create something or have to make something of it.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, that's so important and I noticed whenever I just with this daily devotional routine I love that you use that term. You know, when God gives you a gift, hold the basket right. It's all you got to do. It's all you got to do. So I don't know where I heard that quote, but someone said it to me once and I I've never forgotten it, well, except when I did, and I stopped playing music for like a decade. Uh, but once I get to the piano, you know, or once I get to the guitar, it's like I'm there, you know, and then you end up practicing or playing and playing for longer. It's like just that routine can get you unstuck, just by showing up for a little bit. No pressure.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Absolutely yeah, it's got to feel like play, it's got to feel like devotion, and it can't always feel like striving, it can't always feel like discipline. The discipline will be needed to get yourself to sit down, but the impulse behind it has to be one of the spirit behind it has to be one of devotion, or else it's not going to be sustainable.

Jennifer Logue:

It's so true. It's so true so you recently published a book called the Artist's Joy, which we're talking about a little bit so far. I'm going to dig into it more now. The Artist's Joy A Guide to Getting Unstuck, embracing Imperfection and Loving your Creative Life. When did you first get inspired to write this book?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Well, in 2020, I, like everyone else, was looking for some sort of creative outlet. I needed because I was teaching online full-time at the university of Delaware, teaching music, and I noticed that not only my students, not only my colleagues, but all of those people I was supposed to play in the orchestras in Philly with and you know, we were all just sort of panicking because we were wondering, like, what was going to happen not only to our friends and family, but to our careers, to our craft, and teaching music online was really, really difficult, especially in 2020. So I decided to ask my husband if I could buy a mic and a mixer to start a podcast, because I was, like, you know, I love podcasts.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

I've been like a longtime listener of Radiolab and this American Life and all the you know WNYC, npr podcasts and I was like I really want to make something. I really want to create something that can, so where I can share my thoughts about the world right now, but to also to create community around the work we've been doing in the artist way, in person, and just kind of making that. Having like a radio essay. That's kind of what I imagined being, and I actually discovered this memory when I was first podcasting that I had a karaoke machine like back when I was in middle school and my friend and I would create a radio show, quote unquote, on our karaoke machine about middle school gossip.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, I love that. See how it all comes full circle.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And so I realized when I started podcasting that I really have been wanting to do this for so long, to have a radio show. So, anyway, I started writing, and each episode would be this sort of little microcosm of an essay a personal essay and a little bit of, you know, facts that I found moving and a listener question. And that was really when I began writing the book. Now I know I mean I started catching the stories of the people that were in the Artist's Way creative clusters with us. I started writing down the things I was experiencing, not just in the pandemic but beyond, and when I went to write the book proposal and to start pitching the book to publishers, I had to sort of I actually had way more words than I needed and most of the book was already written, and so I had to sort of like go through a lot of my other writings and shape out exactly what I wanted to say. But I really I began writing the book in 2020, when I started the podcast in April that year.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, so cool. Now you say this book is for any creative of any level. Why do you think the fight for joy in the arts is so universal? Because I will say I have to fight myself for that joy. Do you want to talk about that?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Sure, yeah, I cite one scientific research article what's it called Study in the book about happiness and how it back. This is like 2006. So it's a fairly old study now, but they went and charted the activities that make people happiest. Okay, they had an app and it would like ding in their phone and they would ask like hey, what are you doing right now and how happy are you? It was called the Mappiness Project because it mapped happiness.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

So, believe it or not, or maybe you believe it easily, four out of the top six happiest activities are arts related. Okay, and so I, when I heard that, I was like absolutely. And then you compare that statistic to the, to the one from Billboard magazine that found that 80% of musicians struggle with anxiety and depression over the course of their careers. Wow, 80%. And how is it true that both of those things are happening at the same time, where the arts bring collected joy to society and the artists are struggling? Yes, and so I I'm really interested in in that dichotomy and how those two things can.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And if you look at the world, you know we use words like binge, like binge watch, and the way we consume, uh, art and media and culture is often not, you know we, we don't.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Often, as as per the writer's strike, and you know the strikes in LA we don't always respect what we do as artists.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

We're fighting to be heard in our culture, we're fighting for fair, we're fighting for healthcare, we're fighting for fair wages, absolutely, and there's something spiritually amiss when we don't, when, again, when we're using our creativity to outrun shame or we're we're trying to strive to prove ourselves, prove everybody wrong, or to help us feel that we've made it, um, looking for that sense of worthiness.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And so I think that the struggle for joy in creativity comes from that need to be out there in the culture to make sure that everybody knows that we have value as artists. And so, yeah, that's a big reason why I wrote the book, because I feel like if, when we stop caring about the wellbeing of creatives, the tapestry of human creation begins to crumble because we are not sustaining, we're not fulfilling the artists, we're not filling their cups so that they can be poured out in these beautiful creative acts that are heroic. And um, you know that we are not what we make right, we are not what we do, our work is not our worth, and so I would love to. My passion is to talk to artists about that and to help them sense their innate worthiness so that they can create with abandon, without correlating how successful they are quote unquote to how well their work does and how worthy they feel in their bodies and in their life.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, and the thing is just about anyone can just turn on any given social media platform and immediately compare themselves to somebody else, and for artists this is especially hard. You know you'd be the most talented person in the world and you may not have a huge social media following and it's like if you let that dictate how you feel about your art, it's not going to be a sustainable career for you. You're going to be really unhappy.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

I think social media is really, can be really toxic for artists. For that reason and you know, we, we kind of quote unquote have to use it because that's you know, and I found amazing friends and met amazing people like you from the internet.

Jennifer Logue:

It has its perks.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

It has its perks, for sure, but I and I think the dangers. Someone told me when I was writing the book, like, don't compare your rough draft to someone's published book. And so if you are hearing me and you want to write a book, or you, you know, you want to go play the oboe in an orchestra, like, just know that that what it takes to get from A to B or A to Z is small little steps of showing up for creative devotion every single day. That's what it is. That's the difference. It's that you know, my journey with this particular project started four-ish years ago, maybe even longer than that 2017.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And I've just been continually showing up, bit by bit by bit. And so Julia Cameron says you know, you might ask how you know I'm too old to play the piano. How old will I be once I learn how to finally play? And the answer to that is the same age you'll be if you know. If you don't, I mean you get to use the time that you have to show up and do it, and it's just going to be worthwhile, no matter what comes of it. And so I hope that that'll inspire you to just today, to just take, find 15 minutes, to just create.

Jennifer Logue:

To do something, just to take that first step, because the joy is in the process of doing it, like being on the way to something, like just with the piano stuff. I started sitting jazz piano in the last month. I've always wanted to learn it, like I never really got into the jazzy chords and you know what? I don't know how long it's going to take me to be a, to even be able to do like a hotel lounge gig by myself, but it's, I really enjoy it and every day there's a little bit of progress made and that's it's the process of doing it and making that carving that time out. But yeah, it's never too late.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Isn't it crazy how that's? You know, that's the answer. If you're wondering like, how do I get a big social media following, or how do I get a book deal, or how do I get an album, or how do I get a jazz gig, the answer is practicing every day, a little little tiny bit, and to do it with an attitude or a mindset of devotion. That's it. That's the beginning of taking action. And all the rest of the details about the skills you're going to need or the context you're going to make, they will show up, yes, and none of it's going to happen or none of it's going to matter if you haven't been billing that little bank account every day with 30 cents here and 15 cents here, and it just those little things add up so so much Um.

Jennifer Logue:

so now, not to be not to jump way off topic, this is pertinent to your book, but you have a soundtrack for your book which I think is so cool. Do you want to talk about that?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Sure, yeah, I, obviously music is really important to me. Music and on my podcast is um central to that. I have music flowing over the almost the entire episode because I started out using all of the recordings that I recorded during undergrad and grad school. Where they weren't, they were recitals I played. They weren't good enough to sort of make into an album, but they were. They were pretty and they were solid, and so I use them on my podcast to sort of accompaniment the writing and to sort of create an audio experience for people.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

And when I went to write the book I was like, well, how am I going to incorporate music into the book? Cause I really want to. And so I decided to create a.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Each chapter has a track and actually we have a theme song for the book written by my friend, angela Sheik, who's an award-winning singer songwriter. So music is embedded throughout the text of the book and sometimes each chapter is a piece of music. Like, for example, there's an Appalachian Spring track that in the first chapter where I tell that story, and so some of them are connected to specific occurrences in the book and other ones are just tracks of me playing from my first album that I think, kind of go with the vibe of the book and there's a QR code in the back that you can just take a picture of with your click on with your phone and it'll take you right to the music. And so I imagined people just listening to the, you know, listening to the playlist as they read or, if you can't, if you can't read while listening to music, listen to it on your commute. You know, it's just a way, another art form to engage with in the book in hopes of, you know, making you feel more creative and inspired.

Jennifer Logue:

That's so cool. I love that. It adds to the ambiance. I love that, love that so much. So what's next for you?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Well, I want to write another book. I'm currently shopping around some other book ideas with my publisher and some other publishers, and so that's exciting. I'm playing a lot of concerts right now in preparation for the book launch. We're doing a big tour this summer and, yeah, life is really exciting. My husband always says if you're going to write a book about joy, you better do it joyfully.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh yeah.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Oh yeah, touche, Touche. So I'm working really hard these days to take really good care of myself so that I can show up and sell this book in a way that feels wholehearted and genuine, and to me that looks like. For me that looks like therapy, and it looks like not reading the reviews of the book online which is really hard to do, by the way, but it's staying keeping myself in these tight boundaries of when to check my email and when to get on social media, and so that's two ways that I'm really leaning into self-care right now, at this moment of book launch time.

Jennifer Logue:

Cool, and um where are you touring?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Uh, we're going kind of a smorgasbord of random places. Um, this summer I'm going on kind of a music festival tour, and by music festival I mean like classical music festivals, not like the cool, you know, south and Southwest or what. What. What do you have, I think?

Jennifer Logue:

classical music festivals sound amazing, that's me.

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

I'm excited about bringing this book to everybody you know, not just musicians, but especially to my people in the classical music world, because you know I'm going back. So I'm going back to Brevard Music Center, where I was a student, and Eastern Music Festival and I'm teaching for a week at Holden Village in Chelan, washington, and so I'm just going to share the book with the people who may need it and I'm hoping to connect with readers and so, and all those dates are going to be posted soon on my website, my social media. So if you want to connect with me over the summer, uh, and I'm I'm kind of calling I think other writers do this the. The whole next year is going to be like book tour. So anywhere I travel for a concert or a talk, I'm just going to call it a book tour stop. So if you want to learn more about my book tour, you can go to artistsforjoyorg. Slash book.

Jennifer Logue:

Wonderful, and your website's one place where people can find you. Is there anything else you want to shout out?

Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez:

Sure, yeah, the book is called the Artist's Joy and it's available everywhere books are sold, including Amazon, audible, and it will be out June 25th. I think this podcast will come out by then will be out June 25th, I think this podcast will come out by then, and if you order from bookshoporg, you can support your local small indie bookstore, so that's a great place to buy the book. And I'm also on Instagram at artists for joy artists, plural for joy and I share clips from the podcast over there. The podcast is on all the places you get podcasts and it's called artists for joy too. So if you just basically type artists and joy into Google and maybe put Meredith in there, you'll find me all the places that I hang out, you'll find all the good stuff.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, so, meredith, thank you so much for being on the show, such a great conversation. Thank you, jennifer. It's been a pleasure For more on. Dr Meredith Haidt Estevez, visit artistsforjoyorg, and thank you so much for tuning in and growing in creativity with us. I'd love to know what you thought of today's episode, what you found most interesting, what you found most helpful. You can reach out to me on social media, at Jennifer Logue, or leave a review for Creative Space on Apple Podcasts so more people can discover it. I appreciate you so much for being here. My name is Jennifer Logue, and thanks for listening to this episode of Creative Space. Until next time, thank you.

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