You asked, Alanis answered. Read the first of Alanis’ responses below. Want to share your questions for the next Q&A? Share your information on the Ask Alanis page or tweet questions directly to @alanis using the #AskAlanis hashtag. Stay tuned for the next monthly Q&A coming soon!

when writing a song, have you already usually decided on the theme of it before starting or do you go into it blind, not knowing what will come up? – Rob H

thanks for asking, rob. 50 percent of the time, i arrive in the studio with a general sense of a few themes i want to cover. once the music has begun to “come through”, as i call it, it can often dictate what the subject of the song will be….so if the themes i came in with (often ideas in my journal) fit with the music…i pick one and go with it. if nothing is a match, i will write something from scratch. based on what the music inspires, or what is happening in my mind, unconscious, life, heart in that moment….it is created from scratch. i like both ways of doing it. regardless of whether i come into the room with an idea or not…it is passion that writes songs for me, in short amounts of time. so if i am feeling passionately angry, or excited, sad, regretful or even passionately confused…that is an indication that a song is dying to be born. xo

What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a musician? – Hanna V

thanks for your question 🙂  as a kid, when i would fill out my tiny “diary questions” i always wrote:

teacher. dancer. actor. singer. writer. nurse.

i take that to mean that i really wanted to be in the arts. and to serve. support people on their journey back to health, to who they are, back home. this desire to serve has felt like the perfectly fitted glove. the impulse to do it publicly has proven to be both fun and daunting. because there is a part of me that LOVES being off the radar in perpetual-sweatpant-joy. but the two step process of creating something out of thin air—then sharing it publicly has always seemed like an imperative one that i have had no choice in (in a good way). so, if i weren’t a musician, i would be a writer. a comedy writer on a tv show, or a journalist, or an author, keynote speaker, a teacher. i also LOVE questions and answers…being on the receiving and giving end of both. especially, oddly, on the receiving end of questions where i have to think on my feet. thankfully, i am able to dip my toe into all these sacred roles with what my career is. god bless that. with music being my main muse whom i return to over and over again. basically, generating anything out of thin air…something unique and service-ful, has always felt like my calling. the forms have changed and jumped around. and if music were not part of it (i can’t even imagine it), i would dive into all the other forms. thanks! xoxo

Have you ever met anyone else named Alanis? What were they like? – Mike

i have met a few baby alanis’ while touring over the years (sooo cute). if it was appropriate, i would smooch their tiny little heads 🙂 when i was younger, though, i had never met another alanis. around the time when i was 10 years old, while living in ottawa, canada, my parents let me know there was a woman named Alanis Obomsawin, a Canadian filmmaker of Abenaki descent, whom i should check out. when i saw her face i was besotted with her beauty and power and grace and service. she was the only other person with my name whom i had heard of. and i felt honored to share a name with someone so honorable and who has made over 40 documentaries on issues affecting Aboriginal people in Canada.


At what time in your life did you decide to follow the approach of attachment parenting? – Dorothy

When I was pregnant with my son Ever, I was investigating which doctor to work with. My OBGYN was no longer delivering, so I was left with the daunting task of finding someone new after years of having worked with the same person. I was very discerning in my search and met with several doctors until I found the woman I wanted to work with. She was a midwife with hospital privileges—the best of both worlds, in my mind.

During this time of interviewing doctors, I began to realize that my intuition was leading me in a direction that I perhaps naively thought was “totally normal”. How I imagined my “ideal plan” to look; the decision to breastfeed in the face of many challenges—it was ALL very intuitive. Several people who love me very much implored me to stop chasing the dream of breastfeeding, but something in me would not be deterred, no matter how challenging the process was (and it was).

To carry Ever in a sling. To be open to breastfeeding until Ever weaned naturally. To be near and connected with him consistently, and my husband wanting to do the same. I didn’t realize until people started labeling me as an attachment parent that how I was approaching my parenting was something that could be labeled as such. All I knew was that I was listening to my gut, my intuition, my sense of what felt right for me and my family. As was my husband. The thought of nurturing this delicate and beautiful attachment bond (the first stage of development) felt very natural to me. The eye contact. The skin on skin. The attunement and responsivity to my son’s needs.

I also adopted what some people call the “alloparenting” approach. While the primary connection was with me as Ever’s mom, I also saw the value and importance in having a deep communal bond with a group, a spiritual family. This tended to my needs as well as my son’s. It took some creativity to figure out how to develop this communal lifestyle, but over time—between biological family and spiritual family—there was a “family” consisting of a moderately large number of people all around us. People to cook. To support. To snuggle. To vent with. To fall down next to. To travel with. To receive with. I had to let go of a lot of my tendencies to want to do everything on my own, to not lean on people for support, and to attempt to do it all “perfectly.” In doing so, I came upon “attachment parenting” and “alloparenting” very organically. Not based on anything I read in a book. I just found that I was doing everything the books recommended for an “attachment parent” to do. So I stumbled, groggily, with post-partum depression and all … organically… naturally… into being an advocate for the attachment style of parenting.

That first stage of development is one I believe we cycle through again and again throughout our lifetime … with every new relationship we form. So, I am incredibly grateful that I had this time to establish this sweet bond with Ever within my own family. He and my husband and I now have a point of reference for how safety, consistency, attunement, tenderness, care, and connection feel. And now we can bring that awareness into every other relationship we have in our lives.

Thank you, Dorothy, for your interest in what i see as a truly beautiful and impactful topic. xoxo