I’m struck by the difference between the experience of creating — and the experience of sharing what we create – the gift and the giving.

It’s on my mind a lot in this season of giving.

As an improvising performer, both creation and sharing happen simultaneously in my live shows (like my annual “Lose Your Blues” show) – and sometimes, like yesterday, in a recording studio (you can see a behind-the-scenes video from yesterdays’ recording session here)

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I notice in both myself and the artists I mentor that the sharing part is often the harder part emotionally, which is one reason I want to share this video with you. This is not the prettiest video you’ll see of me by a long shot, but you’ll actually see me following both my ear and my emotions through the music. You’ll see me after I finished when I just stood there breathing, my head down, feeling the emotion, near to tears.

I could try to make this piece more ‘perfect,’ and I can put it on ‘album’ – but this video takes you to the moment when I was actually searching for it and following it.  A first take.  The moment of connection.

The piece, the musical idea – it’s like a gift.  But the giving is the opportunity of actual human connection.

You can let any gift ‘speak for itself,’ sure.  That’s safer. “Let them figure out what it means.”

But what if you risk the reveal of what it means to you?

For me that can be letting you behind-the-scenes to the moment I connected with this piece.  Or it can be sharing with you live.

So what am I saying? I’m begging myself to make that connection. I’m always begging myself for that.  To not hide behind the gloss of the gift itself, but to know that the real value of the gift is that it opens a doorway to self-expression and that opens the door to human connection.

There’s a reason we give a gift.  Like a performance, the sharing is the moment of connection, the moment when the giver and the gift share the experience of humanity and acknowledge it.

Even if you think the reason you’re giving is practical (“Well, I have to give them a gift or they’ll feel left out.”), look deeper, I beg myself. There’s always a desire for real human connection. We just lose contact with it when we don’t give it conscious expression.

What is the human connection you want? How do you put that into words, into gesture, into the sound of your voice, into the giving?

I once had a boyfriend who mistrusted performers because he suspected their expressions — of love, or interest or enthusiasm — were all just a performance.

But nothing is more real than truly performing the gesture of giving with all your heart and soul.  The giving is the honest self-expression.  The true gift is the human connection that makes.

And so … may the gifts you give and receive this season and all of 2016 connect you to your life and others with ever more richness and truth.

Happy Holidays.