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Singing & Songwriting About the “Middle Space”, Lora Kelley on The Second Chapter

Updated: May 26, 2021

Kristin Intro: Welcome to Season 3 of The Second Chapter! I'm so excited to be back with a whole new season of amazing women who changed their lives after 35. I'm your host, Kristin Duffy. If you're new to the podcast, welcome! And if you're back for more, thank you and keep spreading the word- it's working!

Today I'm joined by Lora Kelley. Lora is a singer-songwriter who sings and writes about the "middle space", which we'll talk more about during our chat. She sings live just for us, too, so stick around for that! (Lora: "As we're moving into a new day and age and culture is what do we want to offer ourselves?

Like when is our prime and don't, we get to choose that? And I wrote the song called Beautiful That Way. And so one of the lines is, 'I don't need the eye of the beholder to tell me what he sees" because I get to tell myself what I see.")

Kristin : Hi, Lora welcome. I'm so excited you're here today. How are you?

Lora: I'm doing well. How are you? Good to see you.

Kristin : Yeah. Yeah. It's great to see you too. So many miles away.

Lora: I can't believe it. It's what? Four something your time? I think.

Kristin : Yes.

Lora: It's 11:15 here. So I'm on the East coast in Virginia.

Kristin : It looks so sunny too. I can just see sunshine coming in your window. I'm feeling particularly jealous,

Lora: I know it is. We're finally like we're moving into spring right now. So hope hoping there's a little bit of hope in the air.

Kristin : wearing sleeveless. I've got on a wool jumper, so unfair.

Lora: Granted, I do have my heat on right now. That way I can wear sleeveless, I thought this would, this would look cute. Or even though I know, or not, no one can see me, but I can see myself and I

Kristin : I can

see you.

Lora: and you and for you. Yeah. So I've got that. I was like, crank the heat up, wear a sleeveless outfit.

It's going to be great.

Kristin : Very nice. Very nice. So we were talking a bit before we started recording, but I feel like you're a slightly different guest than I normally have though you do have some changes to talk about, but what's really interesting about you for me is that you as a musician, as a songwriter, You've changed, I guess, your outlook.

I want to use a quote that I found of yours, " making music about the magic and mundane of being in this middle space between ingenue and retiree".

Lora: yes. That's true. I did write that. It's true.

Kristin : So what I really wanted to talk to you about was your change in music and what you're writing about, but I would love to start a little bit because it's very hard to find more about the ingenue version of you. So just so we can get to know you a little better, tell me about your background.

Lora: Yes. So I am from Texas originally by way of Mississippi. So I'm from, from the South in the States. And but I grew up in Texas and I was always into music, love to write and also loved hair and makeup. And so that was the first thing I stepped into as I graduated from college and I had been doing hair and makeup for theater and all of these different things while I was also playing and singing.

But for some reason hair and makeup seemed more practical. I don't know why just seemed like a more practical thing that it was something I could actually get my head wrapped around as a career that I could do versus music felt nebulous to me. I wasn't exactly sure how I would get into doing music.

So I first as the first thing that I did for about 15 years was hair and makeup. I, I started doing makeup for, I worked for Laura Mercier, she's a an actual person who has a cosmetic line and worked for her.

Kristin : I'm actually wearing

Lora: her lip stain.

Oh, I love, I love Laura Mercier. I love her line and I love her. I she's French. And I actually, I got to meet her a few times and observe her work and she was like, you know, I'm going to botch this very bad French accent. So forgive me and cut this out of it. Sounds just terrible. Okay. But she was like, you can do the Botox, but never go under the knife. And so I was 18, you know, at the time. And I was like, okay, she is speaking to me. She is French. They do everything effortlessly and beautifully. So at some point I'm allowed to get Botox, but I may never go under the knife.

So I just sort of filed that away. You know, as this young person, I was like, okay, it's coming for me, whatever this is. And so that's what I did. I did that. I loved it. I loved doing makeup. I loved working with people's faces. I love getting to hear people's stories. I think one of the most beautiful things about doing makeup is that for a lot of my clients, they were, I was probably the one person who touched them that day.

And right? And so it's just such a tender kind thing, especially someone's face it's so intimate to be so close to someone's face and to be working with their face. And beauty is such a, there's so much trauma for people a lot of times wrapped up in their face and how they see themselves. And so it was always such a gift to be able to engage with someone's face in a way that when they, when I was done with them, they looked like themselves. I love natural. I love people to look like who they are, but that they were able to look in the mirror and feel the sense of rest in their body. And I, Oh my gosh, I got to do teenagers. And there's nothing like working with a teenager who has acne and, and when you're done with them, they, they actually can you can actually physically see their face lighten up as they see themselves, because acne is so hard. So I, I did hair and makeup for a long time. I loved that. I love teaching women how to engage with their bodies, how to enjoy, enjoy their bodies and enjoy color and play and all of those things and to be comfortable in their skin. And at the same time, I loved doing music. So I was playing guitar and writing music, and I was very broody in college or, and love song break up sad, sad, sad misery, you know? And then I did all of that coming through a move to Virginia in 2007 and met my husband and he was a photographer and it was just a natural, you know, symbiotic relationship between photography and hair and makeup.


Kristin : meet him? As part of a job or anything?

Lora: I, so I came to Virginia to do a leadership development program and I met him. I was working. So I studied writing in college and political science and I was writing, I was working at a custom publishing company. So they did, they do, they actually design it's called journey group.

It's still in Charlottesville. And they designed stamps for the Philatelic catalog, the, the stamp, like I know it's the thing.

Kristin : what is this?

Lora: I know if you've ever seen the, so there's a new Star Wars stamp coming out. Yeah. United States and they design that stamp.

Kristin : Okay.

Lora: What is that? What is the field? I know there's people who collect stamps, there's a whole stamp thing. Stamps are a thing. And so that's just one subset of what they do. They do a lot of other really interesting things. But anyway, so I was working there because I had studied writing and was intern. That was part of my internship for this program.

And my husband walked in at the time he had buzzed head and a soul patch and like these baggy jeans and he's Hey, you know, know, It's Hey, you know, so that's how I met him. He was just really nice. He was so nice. I had dated, you know, a bunch of people who were, I dunno, confused about who they were.

And I was confused about who I was and I, when I met- Eric is his name- I was like,you're just so nice. Like you're going to be a nice person to be married to. And then he was studied photography and I did, I was doing hair and makeup still and so we began to work together and I did hair and makeup in Virginia from, for about 10 years, nine years, something like that.

But at the same time, I was still writing. I wanted to write music and I just had this war in my heart about writing. And I wanted to do poetry. I thought about getting my MFA. And eventually I was doing so much hair and makeup. I had 40 weddings a year and we had two children and it was just so much, so I decided to take a sabbatical. And that was around the time that I switched.

Kristin : I should also say you mentioned. And your husband and that he's a photographer and that you were doing all these weddings and everything, but he is like a super, highly regarded, amazing, amazing wedding photographer. I have to also put his link when we do the show notes, because the photos on Instagram took my breath away.

Absolutely amazing. So presume. Yeah. So

Lora: Yeah, yeah, he is really good. And he's worked so hard. He has really, I've just going to gush for a second, but he's just worked so hard over the course of his life. He studied fine art at UVA and came out and did photo journalism, and we got to work together, doing all kinds of really interesting shoots and had our own kind of tangential lives that complemented each other.

And it's. It's been really beautiful to watch his work progress. So yeah, I think he's really great.

Kristin : Yeah, it's not about him, but, but I was very impressed. So I definitely want people know, and I definitely want people to look it up because I just, you know, I, I usually, I love a little Instagram photo porn and that was. Photo porn. That sounds so wrong.

Lora: No, that's fine. No, I totally get it. Yeah, yeah,

Kristin : better. So

Lora: I know. It's real. It is real. Yeah.

Kristin : So really beautiful. Okay. So you took a sabbatical because it was just obviously at this point you have two kids. It's, it's becoming a lot.

Lora: yes, I, in his career, both of our careers were moving at the same time and his like, how do I, how do I describe this? I think, I think, you know, women across the board and, and men and families in general, struggle to figure out. How do you do all the things, you know, how do you have two working parents and children and dogs and a house and, and then hobbies, and you know, how do you live your life in a way that feels like you're honoring all the parts of your life?

Cause I don't really like the word balance because I think balance is a misnomer. It's you know, I don't know. Have a weird relationship with that. People are always like, how do you do work-life balance? And I'm like, I don't know. I don't even know what that means, but it's, it's more just like, how do you honor all of those parts of your life?

And so for me, I had to take a step back and think. For myself. Cause sometimes when you're, when you're young or for me, when I was young and I got started doing this, it's just, you know, the word career had the base root of it is careen. And you can just get a sense of you know, careening down a path and there's this, this can take you over.

And I felt, I started to feel like that. I was like, wow, this is taking me over. So I decided to take a pause because I was missing. For me, I was missing things that I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to go to children's birthday parties and I wanted to be there on the weekends and I didn't want to be worn out, you know, and then my kids started getting into school and so their schedules started shifting.

And, and so from, for me, I, I just had to, I was like, I need to take a pause. I need to take a pause and get a sense of where do I want to go? Where do I want to go from here?

Kristin : It's, it's interesting because I love how empowering first I love how empowering what you're talking about makeup is because I feel like you don't think about the, how empowering something like makeup could be. You know, we look at the kind of bad side of it.

Sometimes as women, as feminists, you know, do I have to do this, but it can also be incredibly empowering. Sorry. I went back a ways,

Lora: Just pause there for a second. I think that's so great because here's the thing. You don't have to do it. That is my biggest thing that I tell people, because I do coaching for people and I'm like, listen, there's almost nothing in this life you have to do now. Does that mean that there might be a consequence?

If you, you don't have to take care of your children but CPS will take them from you, but you don't have to do it. And you don't have to wear makeup. And, but, but you can. And so if you want to, it's like, how do I do it in a way that feels good to me? That's how I think about it. So

Kristin : And I would agree with you because I feel like. I like the way I look with a little bit of makeup on, like you said, I'm very natural as far as yeah. I could just never do a whole even. Yeah. That's not me, but I do like sometimes freshening up. It feels really good, but I also like that it's my choice.

I don't have to do anything I don't want to do, but I also think the reason I brought it up now is because I think there's something really empowering to be able to say, I want to go to a children's birthday party or... a guest I was speaking to recently said. When she had kids like the idea of singing in a, I don't know, singing in a, I can't remember what she, even exactly called it, but the idea of sitting and singing on a Sunday and something was like, I would have stabbed my eyes out.

That is not her thing, but I love that. There's that, you know, for me, what I want as a mother or what I want as a woman is this. And having that choice is really empowering.

Lora: Oh, yes. 100%. And I think I have to remind myself that because I can get into, anytime I start having that kind of frenetic, you know, stress feeling. The question I always ask myself is okay. Okay. So why is my life beginning to feel like it's happening to me instead of I'm happening to it. And, and a lot of times what it drills down to is that I'm having is that my thoughts are starting to drive me and I'm not quite sure what my thoughts are so I have to take some time to think through that.

And usually what's behind it is that there's a decision I have to make that I'm not making. I'm I'm being indecisive and all of our power, at least in my opinion, is, comes from making decisions, comes from owning what we, what we're thinking and then making a choice and making choices out of that. So yeah, so for, so for me, I that's, what I had to do is I had to sit down and I had to say, I'm having the feeling of being pulled all over the place and what is it that I want and what is it that I'm believing that's driving me?

You know, if it's the sense of I have to do this, or if I don't do this things, won't be well or you know, just kind of getting a, getting a sense of my mental terrain helps me a lot to bring clarity, to, to feel more empowered about the choices I'm making.

Kristin : So at this point, you say. I want to spend more time with my kids, but luckily you're also a writer and luckily you also have a great voice and all of that play the guitar. So it starts to become more about the music.

Lora: Yes. So I, at that time I took two, I took a pause and I had two thoughts. I had wanted to go back to school for counseling. I had wanted to either get my MFA or go back to school for counseling. So I was finding myself in, in a lot of different situations where I was holding people's stories. And I talked a little bit about that as a makeup artist, that, and I think here people are the same thing.

You sit in a chair, you know, and there's just very few places in life where we have where we're drawn out as people. You know, drawn out into ourselves where there's a space held for us to tell our stories and to pause and get a sense of who we are. And so I was finding that I was doing a lot of holding, a lot of holding of people's stories.

And so I thought maybe I wanted to go back and do a master's in counseling or something like that. And, and also I wanted to do music, but I was scared of it. So I had all this fear and all of the shame and all of this, just terror around music. So it was operating in the background, is this Again, not I wasn't making a decision and did not make a decision about music.

It was just this passive experience that was happening to me all the time. It's like music and like sh you're impractical.

Kristin : Yes.

Lora: You need to stay on the shelf and be quiet. This is not going to work. So let's take another practical route. What I did was I, I did this I began doing work in narrative trauma care or story work and went out and did a program out in Seattle at the Seattle School of Psychology and Theology.

They have an institute there called the Allender center and went out and did a certificate in narrative trauma care. And then. Loved that. I just thought it was absolutely beautiful. Began to do my own work on my own self, to own my own stories of trauma. And, and so from there did that, I did certificate two, did an externship and just began pressing into that work and began to work with other people to help coach them through their stories both past, and then how they want to move forward into the present.

And as I started doing that work, just music kept coming back to me. This is nagging me to death and it's you have to talk to me. This is something you've been doing since I could hold a tune. Since I was like 18 months old and could sing may ABCs and just loved it, loved it, loved it. But I was at war with my own desire.

And so as I was finally able to name some of those things for myself. I began to step into doing it with more intentionality. Making the choice, I guess you could say, let's take a look. It's taken a long time. I don't know if you feel the same way, but I think anytime I think for me, like when I talk to creative people, there is, there can be quite a bit of a bind around, around doing creative work sometimes depending on what your story is.


Kristin : I, I really relate to what you say about practicality because for me growing up in a large family and, you know, money was always up and down. We weren't always poor, but we certainly had many times that we did not have enough. With six kids and would I have been an actor straight out of high school, gone, you know, studied it or absolutely.

Did I feel like it was something I could do? No. Was it always in the back going hey hey hey like you said. Absolutely. And I think it's only when I felt more comfortable financially that I tried it. And even now it's just, it's one of those things, all, all creative fields are are a little bit risky. So I took the practical I'll be a designer because I know there are actual jobs. You could picture what a job was for a fashion designer.

Lora: And it's just so interesting though, because I have people I meet with young people sometimes. And they're like, how did you do makeup? You know, I would be like, how did you do design? And so for somebody else, that's like my career that I thought was so practical for me seems so crazy for somebody else. They can't even visualize it, or for my husband, for, for photography, he could see a totally a clear path on how he was going to make that possible. And yet he coaches people all the time who are like, I'm in banking and I don't know, but I want to be a photographer and they can't see it, you know?

And so much of it is just this mind drama that we have around. Around our callings, I think. And it calling it use loosely because I know sometimes that language sounds weird... just that seed within our hearts where we know we'll be integrated. Like we know we'll be stepping into our integrity about what we're supposed to do in the world.

There's just so much war around that. I think sometimes I don't. Is that sounding true for you? I don't know.

Kristin : Absolutely. And I do think at the end of the day we have these things we want to do, but you also think of a job as a way that you're going to eat. You're going to put a roof over your head and it's sort of like can this, and especially for you, if you're to the point where you have kids and you know I know your husband's successful, but at the same time, you just, you have to make things work.

Lora: Oh, yes. And we've done crazy things. Some w when we got to that place where I started doing music and I took a step back and we were with kid, you know, I was home with my kids. We also started doing, I don't know if you've heard of Dave Ramsey, we did his program on financial independence.

It's a, this was like, Seven years ago. And we were like, we're getting out of debt. We're never going to have debt again. And so we just that was part of our hustle was to get out of debt. We sold our house, we took some of that money and paid off some of our debt and then moved into a smaller house and then live there and just just did a lot of crazy.

It's not crazy things, but just did some pretty dramatic things. Just did the work to to kind of slob off all those weights and to become more financially independent and to own all of, that's just a part, I guess, of trying to grow up, you know?

Cause we started really young, we got married young and had kids young and started a career. It was really young. So just, we were trying to grow up at the same time. Um, You know, or like children raising children, tried to become adults. It's a lot, so yeah. It's yeah. Yeah.

Kristin : But as you're growing up, your songwriting and your music started growing up as well, which is what I think was really interesting about the quote that I said at the beginning is that, you know, you were writing songs about being young and then suddenly, I don't know your, was it your thirties hit?

Lora: Yeah, I don't know. How was your thirties for you? Were you like, wow, this is great. At first.

Kristin : At first.

Lora: No. My thirties are great. Now. I just mean to say at first, as I was coming up to my thirties, I was like, shit, am I allowed to say that? Sorry, it's coming. Oh my gosh. You know, and there's a lot of mind drama in that too.

I don't, you know, there's just a lot of thoughts that were offered by culture about. What is middle-aged what does that mean for us? What is aging? You are aging, you know, that's a thought that people give you a lot. You're aging, you're aging, you're just like I'm like, thank you so much. I just don't really need that thought.

It's not really serving me. I don't really know what I'm supposed to do with that. Great. So has everybody else, like a two year old is also aging, so great. That's so helpful. Um,

Kristin : Better than the alternative as they say

Lora: Thank you. Okay. So right. So yeah, I think for me, like coming into, I had to do a lot of work around, around that for myself and and then I just started realizing, I have a great songwriter who I love- her name's Lori McKenna. She's amazing. She lives in Boston. She has five kids, she's older. And so I found her and discovered some of her music and a lot of it is personal things she writes, and it is about that middle space of life.

And I just found myself really attracted to that, to those songs, to those stories. And. I had to dig for them. I feel like I've had to dig for, you know, to look look for them. And I felt like that was being offered me was either music from my adolescents. So pulling on my nostalgia, music I listened to from 16 to like middle twenties. And so constantly calling me back to that age. And you listen to it. And, and I was like, I just don't know how much of that is serving me to be like living in that space all the time. That's a past-oriented space. And I think a lot of times we, there that can bring up a lot of grief depending on how you think about it.

And I just didn't want to be living there. I don't mind listening to those songs, but would like to have inspiring music for right now or the music I was being offered is. Music and pop culture, which is, which is great. And as there's nothing against it at all, and I, in fact, I love to run to it and, you know, it's, it's very catchy and hooky and all of those things, but still not stories that pertain to where I am in my life.

I am not, I'm not 15, 16, 17, 18. I am not breaking up and getting back together with people. I'm not drinking beer on a Friday night, you know I've just, just not my story. And I was like, I need some, I need some music that is relatable to where I am. I want some music about the stuff that I'm doing.

And I have a lot of friends who I think want music like that. So that, that was where that quote came from is that I was like, I just want to write music about where I am presently, you know, not where I've been or the past, but the present, so

Kristin : You mentioned um, selling your house and, you know, trying to get out of debt and everything, but one of the things that led to the album, the current album is that you moved in back in with your mother or your husband's mother?

Lora: No. Yeah, my mother.

Kristin : And, but this was in Virginia, so she's, she's now in Virginia as well,

Lora: She's in Virginia. Yes. She, she moved from Texas.

Kristin : So it's you and your husband and two kids or three kids

Lora: We have three kids.

Kristin : but when you move into, but when you moved with your mother, this was, was the baby born or where were you in

Lora: she, she was, yes. Okay. So I know it's so hard to explain. It's such a everybody's story is so long and the older you get the longer it is, but I, yes. So we, when the pandemic hit, we were living close to where my mom lives, and we were planning on building a house and then COVID hit and everything was just upended. Weddings for Eric at the time were not booking or they were canceling or they were shifting. And so overnight, basically our source of income just evaporated. And that was pretty crazy. And, and I know that's true. That was true for a lot of people. And so I was so let's see, I so she was 12 weeks

and yeah.

Right. Ah, so I was still postpartum and it was crazy. It was really crazy. And. We just took a very conservative approach. I tried to read as well as everybody's trying to read and, you know, you're trying to make guesses about what's going to happen or what could possibly happen and started thinking about how the wedding industry books.

And as I was thinking, you know most of our work books a year in advance, so we were, so we're photographing every year for a wedding photographer. Anybody in the wedding industry is typically executing contracts and booking new contracts. So that's where your income comes from it. It's from completing a contract or booking a new contract for the following year.

And so when COVID hit, we were not able to execute or complete any contracts because those were either canceled or shifted moved to the next year and no one was booking new contracts. So what that means too, is that if you're not booking new contracts, then you also don't have a work for the next year.

And we had clients who are rescheduling for next year. So they were taking dates for the next year that other people, if they did want to book couldn't book. So it was like half rate. So we were doing things half rate and trying to honor our clients because obviously nobody expected this. And so we just looked at that. I was like, okay, so that, so what is the ripple effect? That means that if we shift all of our clients from this year and ended up basically moving these clients to the following year and executing those contracts, and maybe we don't know when the pandemic will be over till the middle of 2021 , no one is going to feel comfortable booking until maybe the end of 2021, which means we won't be booking new contracts with the end of 2021. And therefore won't be executing any contracts. So 2022, this is going to take us three years to recover from this maybe four or five plus lost income, whatever that is.

So I just said, I said, I think we should sell our house and move in with my mom. She has enough space for all of us. And I think that will protect us from the economic repercussions of what's coming, what I think is coming. And so we did, we listed it, we sold it, we sold a bunch of our furniture.

We consolidated and we moved in to live with my mom. And that's how we, and we're still here. And we're planning on building a house. We bought some land in there, but I don't know. I don't know how long it's going to take us to get out of this house. I told him I was like, I'm not leaving until we have a house that we're going to, because I love my mom's so nice to me.

Kristin : That's good though.. I feel like for me my boyfriend makes fun of me because whenever I'm around, my mom I'd turned into a teenager again. I love going to visit her and she takes very good care of me. I have to say i, it would not last because I am suddenly 16 again, and I'm just moooom about everything. It would be so bad. You're so lucky.

Lora: I think, you know, we've had to do our own work, you know, I I'm, that was the one thing, like when the minute the pandemic hit, I was like mental health. That's the big thing. Like for me, that was the thing I was like, this is going to be , we're having... the world is having an, a collective traumatic experience.

My children are, are going to be experienced in their own trauma. My husband has a lost his entire job that he's worked for for the last, you know, whatever I have a new baby. There's a lot of isolation. My mom had just moved here and had, had her own traumatic experiences and, I was like, if we do anything we need, we all need to be talking with somebody to be working through what this is going to look like.

We need to be very kind and compassionate to ourselves and to each other. And so we've just done a lot of work. Everybody has their person to some degree that they talk to, to just be like, this is what's coming up for me. These are the issues that I'm facing. This is how I'm interpreting this.

You know, just trying to. Trying to take care of ourselves because it's really hard. I mean, Life is hard. And especially now it's extra. There's just extra layers of that.

Kristin : Yeah, I had a really nice text from a friend yesterday, cause I just was having a moment and she just she just said it's been a prick of a year. Like it's, we're all going to feel that way. It just reminded me that this is not me. This is not. I dunno, it's just everyone right now.

And it's okay. But what you said about having somebody to talk to you is really good too, because even just a text from a friend who knew I was having a moment was enough to make me go, Oh, okay. My day's a little bit better than it was before.

Lora: Yeah, we were made for connection. I think as people it's really important, it's one of the most important things that we can offer each other is I think to see each other's faces and to hold space for one another. and I think that's the only way we not the only way we've gotten through this, but one of the big, one of the big ways that we've been able to manage the emotional strain and the disruption of this year is to and it's not easy. I'll just take a pause. Like it's not easy to ask for help. I think that is, that's the biggest thing but we do need help. We need help to, to get through it as we do. It's we're people we need, we need help.

Kristin : So one of the reasons I brought up your mom's house though, is because it's hard to say mom, cause now I'm always saying mum my mom's house.

mom's house. One of the reasons I did bring up you staying there is because there's something about waking up disoriented and I almost said disorientated, cause everyone here says disorientated,

Lora: Oh, they do?

Kristin : So disoriented and just I've I feel like at least reading about it, that the album just flowed, like the songs, the writing, just flowed from there.

Lora: Yes. Yeah. I. I wrote. So a song hopefully get to play with you, pray for you. It's called waking dream. And it's about it is about contending with loss and the sense of disorientation that this year has brought, because it, it has felt as if we were going in one direction and we you know, something happened.

Then we were clicked off into a different timeline. And so the life I thought I was going to lead before the pandemic doesn't exist anymore. It's, it's gone and I'm not even the same person that I was when the pandemic started. So I don't even know if all of that was still available to me if I would choose the self that I was, I'm just not the same. And so, the experience of what that looks like, and then and then where do we go from here? Just noting that we're going into. We can't go back to where we were.

Kristin : And it is interesting that you started writing about a different time in your life anyway, and then life changed for all of us. And combining those two, it seems like a natural fit to, to make an album.

Lora: Yeah, so the album I it's called Domystique and I, I, that word came to me I don't know, three or four years ago, as I was thinking about, you know, domestic work and how it's just conveyed as so humdrum and yet, if I'm able to still myself, and if I'm able to take off all of the thoughts that are offered to me about the work that I do as a mother or as a creative person in a mother's body or as a middle-aged woman.

And there's so many thoughts offered to me by culture that are just really not very kind. And if I'm able to take those thoughts off and offer myself new thoughts, there's so much sensuality and there's so much magic available to me in this space. And so I just, that's how I put those two things together.

I was like domystique, like it's mystical, there's so much access that I have to this sort of mystical space and the place that I am now that I didn't have access to in my, in my twenties. I didn't have access to when I was, you know, an adolescent and. And I think mothering is deeply sensual. I mean, there's so much use of our bodies, as we engage with our children, as we engage with our partners, as we engage with the world and I think I get to... Brandi Carlile says this in one of her songs, she was like, I get to, I get to live all these things over again through your eyes. And then she's talking about her daughter. And that's so true like I had just have access to all of these things all over again, which is so fun. And so part of what I was trying to invite myself to, and hopefully other people too, is to lean into that mystical beauty that is available to us to offer ourselves new and different thoughts about this middle space, that it's really robust, and there's a lot of beauty in it.

Kristin : And that it doesn't have to be boring because I have to admit as someone who doesn't have kids, I was like, Oh yeah, she writes about being a mother. I dunno, how do I relate to that? What is it? But then to hear your music and hear you talk about it. It's just, it's another kind of as you said, beautiful way of really being and why should that be boring?

If it's interesting to talk about being an angsty teenager in a song, why wouldn't you talk about, you know, the trials and tribulations of being a mother or being a middle-aged woman, even though I'm going to say you're not middle-aged, but

Lora: You know, here, here's the thing. This is. Okay. So I think that is such a beautiful point. And I love that so much because yes, it's just thoughts people offer you. People offer those thoughts all the time. It's boring, it's contentious. It's conflict. It's like your body's falling apart. Oh, you're anticipating all these things.

Or I am, you know, this is my look up, you know,


Kristin : Can I quote you on that one?

Lora: Yes, but doesn't, it feel like that? If you slow it down, that's what it sounds like when people are and all I hear now is just bullshit, bullshit, bullshit thoughts and thoughts and thoughts and thoughts. And none of that feels good.

And thoughts are optionals. I just, can I just say, you know, I don't want to think that I'm not going to because they don't have to. I don't know if you've ever watched Hannah Gatsby.

She's this amazing.

She's amazing.


Kristin : her. I actually saw her live.

Lora: Okay. So she's incredible. And I watched both of her comedy shows on whatever streaming service that is on who can keep track of which streaming service run. I think it's Netflix, but. And she, and her second one

Kristin : Yeah, that's the one I saw live. I think it, Oh my gosh. So good.

Lora: It's in there and there's connected to each other and both should be watched and also be really kind to your body as you watch them, because there's a lot that she brings up and it's, there's a lot of dealing with trauma, but it's just handled in such a profoundly dynamic way that it's so necessary.

But she talks about how art, a male artist that I think it was Picasso. I don't, I don't know. I don't think it was the co I don't remember who it was. But a male artist older forties, married children, had an affair with a 17 year old.

And when he was interviewed about it He said I was in my prime and she was in her prime.

Kristin : I think that is Picasso, because I remember thinking, Ugh. Anything I liked about Picasso has now just gone.

Lora: It's out the window. and I have so many feelings and thoughts about that, but I thought, wow, isn't that true? Isn't that what we've been offered as women? You're prime is 17. And doesn't that just make you want to stick up your middle finger and say, fuck you.

That is, that's offered to us by, by 40 year old men. And so I, I am choosing to say, what would I offer myself? Because I, I can choose, like, why does he get to decide where my prime is? And so I think that's a part of the undoing of of as women, as we're moving into a new day and age and culture is what do we want to offer ourselves?

Like when is our prime and don't, we get to choose that? And I wrote the song called Beautiful That Way. And so one of the lines is, 'I don't need the eye of the beholder to tell me what he sees" because I get to tell myself what I see. And she says at the end, I don't remember if it was at Douglas or in Nanette one of them, but she now she's older and she's try your strength on me because she had had an experience of assault when she was younger.

And so I think why we don't write music that circles back to why people leave out this age is because we have so much power. There's so much power in someone who crosses into their thirties all the way up until you get to be older as women, and we're not fooled anymore. And so culture is sometimes just doesn't know what to do with that.

It's like if, if we have handled women through this lens of 17 year old, is your prime. Well, The only reason that is true is because she doesn't know anything of herself yet she's still learning. And so she can be moved around and manipulated and told what to think and seduced and groomed. She's still a child.

So he was a, he is a predator, right? He's he was, that was sexual abuse, you know, and, and you can do that to children. That's wicked. You can't do that to a 35 year old woman. You, you can, but it's harder to do. This is the age where we start showing up and being like, I didn't like that.

I didn't like that. And I don't like it and I'm not going to do it anymore.

Kristin : Yeah,

Lora: And so that's terrifying. I think, so that was a lot, sorry. I got on my little box of soap, my little soap box and said all the things, I think loud to you and everyone else. So welcome

Kristin : I absolutely love it though, because the people who are just listening will not have seen me just shaking my head like, tell it like it is because I absolutely agree with you. And I've probably said about 90% of what you just said word for word, because I don't know. Even like my marriage falling apart and I feel I don't even know how to say it because you know, I'm not in someone else's head, but there was definitely conflict around me growing up and being like, I am not the same person I was when we met that. I, you know, I was 18 or something when we met. And I think. Lots of men can handle that. It seems like your husband can... well done.

Like him a lot,

Lora: he's learning.

Kristin : But you do. Yeah. I mean, You do have to face the fact that we grow and change. You're starting to say, you know what, I've learned a little bit more about myself. And I think we, as a society are learning more about, you know, the whole me too movement.

And we're seeing things that were like, I didn't even know this happened to everyone, but now that I know that. I'm not going to let it happen anymore. Fuck the 17 is your prime. Cause it ain't.

Lora: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. And you don't want it to be, and I don't want that to be for her, you know, like I want every single woman to have the full breadth of their life. It's your life. You get to have all of it and it shouldn't be defined by someone else's timeline, who like the timeline is because it works for them, you know?

Kristin : I just got right before I was chatting with you. I was chatting with a friend who she's just this amazing woman who probably has had. I don't know, three, four, five, six primes at this point. And she's about to turn 80 or she will in a year and a half and she was talking about, Oh, I hadn't even thought about the fact that I was going to be 80 and I'm talking to this woman going, this is the life I want.

It's it ain't over till it's over. And she just, she's so vibrant and she's doing all these things and that's the point of the whole podcast to begin with. But. Yeah, she's choosing, her husband died when she was in her fifties. She didn't let that stop her.

She's had two or three lives since then. And you know, she always says she's the lucky one because she, she she hasn't gotten remarried. She remembers him very fondly with tons of love, but she's gone on to live different lives than she would have.

Lora: I think it's such a delicate balance and partnership. How do you remain intact as yourself and, and know what it is that you need. And also, and they know what it is that they need.

And then how do you partner in that interdependence of, you know, being with each other. And that's hard, especially, you know, when you're, when we're so young, we come together and we have all of these things that we've been taught are autopilot ways of existing And sometimes, you know, and, and we meet people who match perfectly with our kind of like ways that don't work sometimes, and so, and so it's kinda, it's inviting ourselves to, you know, to understand ourselves more and inviting each other.

I think into that, into that space too, but it's not easy. I've, as I've individuated, it's been hard for, for Eric and as he's individuated, it's been hard for me too, to be like, "Oh, you're, you're your own person. You're not responsible for my feelings. Oh, I'm my own person. I'm responsible for my feelings."

Me not you. It's hard, but it's, it's good. It's worth it. It's worth it to do it.

Kristin : You know, we've, we've heard a couple of little strums as we've been chatting and I. Yeeessss..

You have kindly offered to play a song for me today, and I feel like you just were tuning your guitar while we were talking before.

And I feel like I'm gonna start crying. I'm really excited for my own, for a moment, personal, private concert that will eventually go out to many people. But what are you playing for us today?

Lora: So I'm the song I'm going to play. It's called Waking Dream. And it's a song we referenced a little bit about moving in that space of disruption that I was talking about.

So that's the song I'm gonna play for you


Drape the chairs and white sheets, we bought them for the first home we made on that busy street. 12 years of housekeys, they don't work anymore except to unlock doors in my memory. Storm came in without telling us it would. Pulled downAll the trees pulled up the roots. We thought we planted for good.

Take my hands. We can't go back to where we were. If I close my eyes, I can see you standing there. In that first house, through the screen door.

Leaning in and whispering to me.

Unmarked boxes. Fill my mother's house. Well, what's left of us outside of them we're finding out. Baby on my chest, kids sleeping on the floor,

they said, if God closed the window, he would open a door, but… The storm, came in without telling us it would. Pulled down all the trees we thought we planted there for good..

Take my hand. We can't go back to where we were, but if I close my eyes, now the lines begin to blur and we're right there at the screen door as we used to be.

It's a waking dream.

Oooooo... Take my hand. We can't go back to where we were. Take my hand, we can't go back to where we were. Take my hand....

Kristin : I am teary. Thank you so much.

Lora: thank you so much. Oh my gosh. It's so nice to play for somebody else. Thank you.

Kristin : lucky. I feel so lucky. Oh, that was so nice

Lora: Ohthank you.

Kristin : I think talking about whether the stories are boring of, you know, this middle life. I think that song could be I could hear it in so many different ways. It can literally be about, you know, being discombobulated and having to move and covering the chairs.

And it can be about a memory. Just about, about moving on in life and we're breaking up or, Oh, I loved it. Thank you so much.

Lora: Oh, thank you so much. Oh my gosh. It's just, so it really is. It's so nice to see your face. I know no one else can see your face, but I feel grateful to see your face and to have my face be seen by you is so nice. And to be able to play and yeah. I don't know, talk about the things, these things matter so much.

So I'm thank you for the opportunity.

Kristin : I have to ask you one more question, and you've given me so many, but did you bring a quote for me today?

Lora: Yes, I have a very good quote. It's a Mary Oliver quote and

Kristin : I love Mary Oliver.

Lora: Oh, I know she's just magic. I don't know why this came to me, but I think it's just beautiful and it's from a longer poem, but I'll just read the part that that I hold on to for myself, it says:

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too was a gift."

I think in the work of story and that's what song writing is. And, and I think in this work of pressing into our, this age that we're in, and so much of this age is uncovering those boxes of darkness we've been given and making them into gifts. And that's what I feel like I'm called to in this world.

Kristin : I love it. Beautiful, beautiful quotes, beautiful singing. And I loved your soap box.

Lora: Thank you. Oh gosh. How big is that soap box and how many blocks of soap is it? It's a lot, but,

Kristin : Just climb on and tell your story. I love it.

Lora: Oh, good. Thank you.

Kristin : So thank you again so much for joining me. Thanks for telling me your story and especially, especially thank you for the song.

Lora: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. It was so nice to meet you.

Kristin : Yeah. Same to you.

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