There are only two choices in life …


We just celebrated our 2 year anniversary!

So… its totally been a minute since I posted last. I hope you had a fantastic summer full of harvests succulent abundance, colorful sunsets at the beach, and potlucks filled to the brim with friendship and laughter.


Things are super “well” over here on our side of the woods. My husband Nathaniel and I are getting ready to tour over to Europe (our second tour over the pond, whoohooo), to the South of France, then Paris, and Belgium. I am so pumped.

We leave next Tuesday September 22nd – October 2nd. Tomorrow we go to Madison, Wisconsin for two shows (one occurs at 7PM tomorrow night at The Frequency, then a House Show on Thursday night.

In addition to packing and preparing for upcoming shows including one in South Bend, IN on October 16th 2015, I have found time to pair down more stuff.

love, sweet love.

Over the past 3 years I have set the intention to own the things that bring joy or have great seeded functionality in my life and our lives together.
This is the path to minimalism that I am overjoyed by. It is in my very nature to feel free and getting ride of dead weight feels so freeing. (plus its almost autumn and a good cleaning of my drawers feels right on par, as change literally blows in though my window.)
Now we have  set out to own the basics. I mean did you know one can survive and actually thrive with only three cooking pans. Yeah, thats right only three. So we own our oatmeal pot which is really a 3-qt. covered sauté pan, a 8″ omelette/sauté pan, and my very favorite wedding gift the, “Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron 4.5 Qt. Round French Oven – in the Tiffany Blue color.
Seriously, you could do away with all other pots except for these three and you would be golden.
Here is our Le Creuset – I could not resist sharing a pic, what a great pot.
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron 4.5 Qt. Round French Oven - Blue
Of course we have a few other items that we just love and must keep like all of our touring musical gear, and my Mom’s 1980’s sweatshirt that says Hawaii ( it’s just so soft, brings me tons of joy, and I have loved it since I was 10, what a keeper) Hummm… I should so post a pic of me wearing that soon.
Anyways, I digress, so on the front line of purging my things, and my husband’s things
I gotta say that ditching the old to make space for new adventures, opportunities, and abundance feels great!

As I gear up to leave for the second part of our tour I have allowed myself some good pondering time, you know about life, and its purpose, ext. ;)

And this is what I realized recently…

As I am on the cusp of gathering old things remembered and allowing new things into my life this theory arose.

“There are only two choices in life, fear or love.”

This idea reminded me that everything I need is already inside of me as it is in you. That everything I supposedly own I am just renting from God then one day when my soul returns home the things I owned or thought I owned on earth will go back to the earth and others will use it. Its really liberating when you think about it.

“Both you and I must choose for ourselves. There are only two options in this life, love or fear.”
Day to day we must do what suits/is in alignment with our “higher self” the Self you desire to become.
Whatever that looks like to you – you’ll know in your heart then choose based off of that image of you. The you you desire to become – the you that you desire to transform into.
Most people talk about life as if we are here to discover new things however rather we are here to remember who we were in our soul before we came here and re-connect with our soul, the highest version of our self, with ego removed, and false-ideologies removed.
Back to our purer more loving selves. It is about refining our hearts so we will be ready to meet our creator in heaven because “God” ( who is a very loving God, loves us no matter what)
We can either choose to live in hell on earth or heaven on earth, its a shift in choice and perspective. I know what your thinking well what about the people who are starving to death, or are in the midst of massive war heaving there families from their homes… I know your thinking about this because I think about this, and to tell you the truth sorrow, suffering, and despair are happening all around us.
This saddens me to no end. However, choosing to be real with yourself and doing the best you can to choose love even amidst grave crisis will help. Love beckons, love fear beckon’s fear. It is important to choose love to pray for those who need our help, and take loving actions to help them be safe.
We have thoughts, that become words, and words that become actions. If we make sure our thoughts are rooted in love, then our words will sprout into love filled words, and our actions will make a loving impact on those who need us most. 
So, we must all choose wisely. With a collective consiousness towards “God” who is Love. Lets ask ourselves
“What would love do in this situation?”
We must first love our selves in order to love our neighbors as our-self. It takes a second to choose love over fear. This choice occurs thousands of times daily. And if made properly we can transform our world by a tiny shift towards a more loving perspective.
Shine ON from somewhere near lots of green grass in the United States of America///

The Fresh Ocean

Originally posted on A Cup of Songwriting:

Fall asleep to the sound

Of the fresh ocean

Inland bound

The Southern shore of Lake Michigan

Eyelids flutter a bit slower and softer

Mind easing into a simple place

No place on the face of this earth

As still and quiet as the southern shores

It’s a magical sleeping potion

On the shores of the fresh ocean

View original

Serious NYC Treats by The Bergamot

Did, I mention that I have a bit of a sweet tooth? Here is a short list of a few of our favorite go to dessert stops in the city. You will see a lot of places that are located in Brooklyn, hence this is because we live right around the corner from many of these stops. I hope you find some fun in these places as we have through the years.
Ovenly :: Greenpoint
31 Greenpoint Ave,
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(888) 899-2213

Ovenly is right down the street from where we live. They have the best and most creative treats. I always get the “Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie” or the Peanut-Butter Cookie – it’s a toss up depending on the day.

One time they donated a bunch of treats to our church so that we were able to help spread good cheer throughout the neighborhood. These folks are top notch all around.
This video takes you into the shop!
If your feeling up to it enjoy this video if you would like to make the chocolate chip vegan cookies in your own home.  >>>—->
Molly’s Cupcakes :: Manhattan 
228 Bleecker St,
New York, NY 10014
(212) 414-2253
I first found Molly’s cupcake shop in Chicago on our first tour in 2010, needless to say even though the cupcake fad is over this place still won my heart. The owner’s name is John, I met him a couple of times and this last time he gave me free lemonade and we talked for 20 minutes while swinging on the swings that sit near the cupcake bar.
They herald, the Best Boston Cream Cupcake in the world plus making your own is not to shabby either I always eat chocolate with there vanilla cream frosting and sprinkles galore.
chocolate sorbet
Fresco Gelateria :: Manhattan 
138 2nd Ave,
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-6320
Yes, it is true I am in love with Fresco Gelateria and yes I go here once every two weeks when I am in town.
It’s probably a good thing that we are on the road as much as we are or I would be pretty hefty eating this all the time. Anyways, this gelato is made from scratch daily with the highest quality ingredients. You can taste the love.
It is owned by a brother + sister duo who moved here from Greece and they have won the award ( in my humble opinion) of the best gelato in America. It is literally so good . I pair the chocolate sorbet with the peanut-butter gelato.
When you stop in be sure to say hi to  Anna she is lovely and her and her brother own it this little hole in the wall shop.
Fortunato Brothers Cafe:: Williamsburg 
289 Manhattan Ave,
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 387-2281
This is a mafia style old school Italian Cafe. It is where we get our Jordan Almonds from and is a walk from our flat. I recommend getting the Pignoli Cookies.
Levain Bakery :: Manhattan 
167 W 74th St,
New York, NY 10023
(212) 874-6080
Mind blowing goodness.  The Levain chocolate chip cookie “magically retains its gooeyness straight off the shelf” and offers big buttery flavor.
All, I can muster up is… yeah its that good.  Try it for yourself and if you really want to go the extra step make them in y our home here is the not so secret- secret recipe. Shhhhh, you did not hear this from me.
Marie Belle Chocolate Greenpoint
Marie Belle New York Chocolates :: Greenpoint 
67 Guernsey Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11222
It is located in the bustling neighborhood of Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York. Once again this is our neighborhood and is the place of fabulous chocolates.
It smells like heaven inside here too. Plus, other than tasting + buying the dark chocolates I love sharing the 4oz dark sipping chocolate with my husband. Its so romantic in the market as well, there is a cozy back room you can sit and read in our just talk about your day.
Mast Brothers
Mast Brothers Chocolate Makers :: Williamsburg 
111 N 3rd St,
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 388-2625
This chocolate changed they way I eat chocolate, you might say this chocolate ruined me for now I am a bit of a chocolate “snob”. Or rather I would like to think that Mast Brothers simply enlightened me to how minimal and wonderful chocolate can and truly was made to be.
Mast Brothers chocolate is sophisticated and full bodied with flavor hues ranging from smoke, tobacco, salt, caramel, blueberry, apricot, and toffee notes.
The real kicker is that in each chocolate bar there are typically no more than 4-5 ingredients, if not less than that. I really love the “Brooklyn Blend” but I am also a huge fan of the “Sea Salt” chocolate bar. These make great gifts.
Charlotte Patisserie Duett
Charlotte Patisserie :: Greenpoint 
596 Manhattan Ave,
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-8313
Over the winter I became obsessed with the Duet Cake at Charlotte Patisserie. Here we have white chocolate and milk chocolate, dipped over a dark chocolate mousse cake. Or if your feeling adventurous try our other favorite the Passion Fruit Doughnut with a Vanilla Custard Filling. Watch out these sell out fast.
Custard Filled Passion Fruit Cronut
Well, folks if your not in a sugar coma from reading this then there might be something wrong with you. Besides, every one has to have a little sugar fun here and there. I hope you enjoyed reading about The Bergamot’s top “NYC Serious Treats”.  Come visit these amazing gem’s and until, next time.
Shine ON from NYC ///

Top 10 List of The Best Coffee Roasters in America

This post has been a long time coming. Yesterday, Nathaniel and I ran into a friend/fan of ours named Brady. We got to talking and he mentioned that he would love to open up a coffee shop one day. When we were talking with Brady we realized that the list we gave him was not concise enough. Thus, I created this today I hope you find as much joy in visiting these coffee bars as we do.
A little about us and Coffee… 
My husband Nathaniel absolutely loves coffee. He became a connoisseur back in college (2009) and then began seeking the best cup he could find. He found every one of the roasters on this list. As for me I am more of a tea drinking kinda gal however I have grown to deeply appreciate and enjoy coffee. I really love the experiences we have together finding and enjoying each of these gem’s. In a way each of these spots have become a part of us. These coffee roasters are like a home away from home. We have met and come to know the folks who own and work at them which is an added bonus. We both hold these roasters dear to our hearts and hope you will too.
This list has been compiled on tour by The Bergamot.
Intelligenstia Coffee  (being from the midwest this spot was one of the first to key us into great coffee = sentimental value)
3123 North Broadway
Chicago, Illinois 60657
2211 E Burnside St,
Portland, OR 97214
1026 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
ritual coffee
15 Hermitage Ave.
Nashville, TN 37210
122 Anderson St,
Portland, ME  04101
tandem coffee
160 Berry St,
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Old Crown (While attending college in Fort Wayne this was the first place we ever had a *great* cup of coffee = life changer)
3417 N Anthony Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
old crown
125 N 6th St
Brooklyn, NY
tobys Estate
815 N Hudson Ave,
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
1110 Market St,
Chattanooga, TN 37402
brash coffee
179 W 900 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Blue Copper Coffee Room UT
Shine ON //

Positive, Honest, Deep Content

Today, I was enjoying a little “soul pancake’, wait, wait, what… have you seen this yet? Ok, ok, I forgive you, well just in case you have not heard of soul pancake here it is.

This video right here my friends is positive, honest, and deep content and I live to create positive, honest, and deep content.


My handsome husband Nathaniel and I (The Bergamot ) labored for over 2,000+ hours on creating out new record TONES ( drop date 9.15.15) – making it the best we could by writing the best songs we could and by working with the best team in the world.


From writing in our home in Brooklyn, NY to recording and mixing in the Hudson Valley, Nashville, Hayesville, Hartford, Atlanta, South Bend, and the final mixing and mastering completed in Manhattan – it has been a wild and crazy ride. All of this to make the best album we have ever made.


I just wanted to send you this reminder, that you too have what it takes inside of you to create positive, honest, and deep content that matters because,”there is something irresistible about someone acting from their honest, authentic core. If that’s not where we’re creating from, then why are we creating at all?” (soulpancake)


Go create something great today.

Shine ON,


giving the world a reason to dance, one song at a time.

Finding Rhythm: Thoughts on Well-Being and Creativity

Summer Tour The B
Recently, I have been existing between the buzz of NYC and wheels on pavement touring living the road-life. It has been exhilarating juggling the push and pull of transformation, launch, and peace of mind.
Since summer is finally here I have been eager to picnic outside and lounge in the glorious warmth of the sunshine yet, there is so much to be done.
Like when I wake up I feel a pulsating push to keep advancing and pushing on to launch our new album TONES into the world as its drop date of September 15th, 2015 quickly approaches.
Nonetheless, the 4th of July is this weekend and I am so excited to perform at Audiofeed Music Festival. <3 Anyways, I wanted to share this article I found at its called Finding Rhythm: Thoughts on Well-Being and Creativity and you know what it is spot on.
I have found solace in partaking in these three lifestyle rhythems and hope to find solace too.
Finding Rhythm: Thoughts on Well-Being and Creativity //
When filmmakers think of pacing, they typically think of plot, scenes, music, editing. But there’s another form of pacing that’s equally important — if not more so — than how you pace your story: the way you pace your life. As creatives, we are prone to bad habits. We pull all-nighters. We eat fast and cheap. We spend hours, days, even weeks sitting in our chairs, writing and editing, and living inside our heads. Sometimes it seems like these behaviors are required. Par for the course. But the weird thing is, while creatives are notorious for their unhealthy lifestyles, our best creativity often happens when we’re living our healthiest.

We’ve been reading Tom Rath’s Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes, and it’s reminded us just how connected creativity and healthy living really are. Here is a brief recap of the things we’ve learned from Rath that might help you find a better pace for your life — and your work.


Sleep and productivity do not have a zero-sum relationship. What you subtract from one does not get added to the other. In other words, subtracting an hour of sleep from your night won’t give you an extra hour of productivity during the day. In fact, by stealing an hour of sleep from yourself, you’re actually stealing energy from every hour that you’re awake the next day. And not getting enough sleep severely hinders your ability to think and function.

In his book, Rath brings up the famous 10,000 hours study — the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become great at anything. You’ve probably heard about this rule. But Rath points out an often-overlooked facet of this study: “If you go back to Ericsson’s landmark 1993 study, there was another factor that significantly influenced peak performance: sleep. On average, the best performers slept 8 hours and 36 minutes. The average American, for comparison, gets just 6 hours and 51 minutes of sleep on weeknights.”

If you’re wondering why your creativity has slowed and your brilliance is waning, consider how much sleep you’re getting. You probably need more.

…not getting enough sleep severely hinders your ability to think and function.


Most people sit for 9.3 hours a day. And then they go to bed. According to Rath, inactivity now kills more people than smoking does. But the solution is not to build in a few nights a week for exercise. The solution is to cut down on chronic inactivity as a whole. Sitting all day and then hitting the gym won’t do as much for your health as you’d like to believe. In fact, Rath cites a very discouraging study that found it does nothing. To cut down on chronic inactivity, Rath suggests taking a two-minute walking break for every 20 minutes you’ve been sitting. Just those two minutes are enough to cut down on some of binge-sitting’s seriously negative effects (spiking blood sugar levels, weight gain, back problems).

Rath suggests taking a two-minute walking break for every 20 minutes you’ve been sitting.

But more than that, walking has some serious creative benefits. In fact, a recent study by Stanford found that walking improves creative thinking not just during the walk, but afterward as well. Some of the best creative minds in history were avid walkers. Everyone from Goethe to Darwin to Steve Jobs. Taking short walks throughout the day will not only improve your health, but it will also improve your work.


Eating shouldn’t be this hard. These days it’s impossible to keep track of what’s good and what’s bad. The easiest solution often seems to be to just eat as many chicken nuggets as you can until new research surfaces. Or you could do what Rath suggests: consider everything you eat as a net gain or a net loss. Rather than attach yourself to any one fad or school of thought, consider the effect each bite will have on your body. “If you make a decision that does more good than harm, such as opting for water over soda, it is a net gain. When you pick a side of fries instead of vegetables, it is a net loss.”

What is a net gain or a net loss? Rath suggests a simple test: look at the ratio of carbs to protein. A good goal is to eat mostly foods with a 1:1 ratio of grams of carbs to grams of protein, and never eat foods with more than a 5:1 carbs-to-protein ratio. It might not be the most nuanced way to look at your food choices, but it’s a good place to start. And getting started is important. The things we eat have a direct effect on the brain’s ability to think creatively. Bad foods (stuff with lots of trans fats, sodium, and sugar) can fog us up and block good thinking. If you’ve hit a creative wall, your creativity might not be the problem — it could be your diet.

The things we eat have a direct effect on the brain’s ability to think creatively.

It’s important to remember that all three of these activities (sleeping, moving, eating) function together. Fixing just one is never the answer. You have to fix all three. It might sound a little self-helpy, but we’ve been amazed by how much more creative energy we have after putting these things into practice. It doesn’t take much. Like Rath says: small choices lead to big changes.

Article first seen at Finding Rhythm: Thoughts on Well-Being and Creativity 

Get offline and free your mind

tones image promo for blog

A day spent indulging in the simplicity of life reminds me of how important it is to unplug.

Today I went on a long walk through Brooklyn with my husband, we met up with friends at church and laughed over a perfectly baked blueberry muffin from a local bakery called The Blue Oven.

Then we made a new friend a the local polish shop up the street. Then we sat on a bench and ate hot polish noodles and cabbage until our hearts were content.

We did not have the phone on, we kept it in plane mode, we gave ourselves permission to not need it, and it was kinda magical.


There is true freedom in being free to be present. Today were all so inter-connected and instantaneous about everything that sometimes you just need to turn it off, put it away, and unplug.

The trill of life is to live. To take in the beauty of the real world and just sit for a while holding hands and dreaming. Talking, smiling, and sharing a perfectly baked blueberry muffin freshly pulled from the oven with a little butter to boot.

Yes, those truly are my very favorite moments in this life. For to love and be loved in return is, was, and always will be what life is all about.

So go out there and unplug, see what you will find today.

Shine ON // Jillian

PS if you have not gotten a chance yet do check out my food blog at and if you like what you see subscribe by entering your email addy into the box on the top right hand side of the page.

Bergamot exudes joy, ecstasy in homecoming concert at DeBartolo


SOUTH BEND — The Bergamot threw a celebration and called it a concert Saturday at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

For almost two hours and through 20 songs, the band exuded joy and ecstasy in its playing and its interaction with the audience.

And it was a well-deserved and well-earned celebration for this Brooklyn-based sextet formed by South Bend natives Nathaniel Paul Hoff and Jillian Speece while they were students at Marian High School.

They had a lot to celebrate:

• A homecoming concert in a venue Speece said she had dreamed about performing in since it opened 10 years ago;

• The release of the band’s latest — and best — album, “Tones,” as well as a book of poetry by Hoff;

• And Speece’s 27th birthday.

But if it was inevitable Saturday’s concert would be special for the band and the audience, something else was clear, too: This band deserves to succeed.

Meticulous and finely textured arrangements played by a group of musicians in total sync with each other, Speece’s knock-you-down vocals, and hers and Hoff’s exquisite harmonies provided the musical power of the performance.

Add in Speece’s exuberant stage presence — her dance moves, ecstatic playing of the tambourine, between-songs expressions of gratitude to the audience — and The Bergamot has the complete package: superb musicianship and personality.


The concert also demonstrated this is a new Bergamot, one that has moved well away from its roots as an acoustic duo, which was, itself, an economic necessity when Hoff and Speece started their career together.

Their indelible melodies and harmonies remain integral to The Bergamot’s songs, but both “Tones” and, even more so, Saturday’s performance mark a clear move toward much more of a rock sound than anything they’ve done before.

It’s noteworthy, for instance, that it took until the 15th song and following an intermission that Hoff played his acoustic guitar, and he didn’t use it much thereafter. Instead, besides a few songs played at the piano, he stuck to his Gibson Les Paul.


And the band rocked, right from the beginning with the lead-off track from “Tones,” “Forget About Tomorrow,” a signal of what would come.

From “Tones,” the irresistible energy of the syncopated rhythms on the title song and “Next to You”; the freak-out of an instrumental break that featured distorted guitars, fiery violin, and pounding bass and drums on “Burst Out”; Hoff’s warm tenor lead on “Miles”; and Speece’s soulful delivery and the combination of Justin Gaynor’s electric guitar arpeggios and Notre Dame alumna Audrey Hayes’ violin solo on “Remedy” all provided some of the night’s numerous highlights.

Among the set list’s older songs, Speece’s voice conveyed absolute joy on “You and Me,” the deceptively joyful pop-rock of “Wishing Well” recalled that of the Barenaked Ladies and the stark arrangement of “Broken Hearted” with just Gaynor’s and Hoff’s electric guitars and Speece’s voice gave the song a sense of desperation.

The Bergamot also played one cover Saturday, Steely Dan’s “Peg,” and it was a standout for its arrangement, especially the use of Hayes’ violin to carry the song’s signature riff and the upbeat jazz-disco groove that had Speece dancing while she sang.

But this was also a homecoming for Hoff and Speece, and they added several personal touches to the night, including a spontaneous invitation to two of Hoff’s cousins, Jordyn and Lexie Kahler, to sing the last chorus of “Me and Roscoe” with them, and the planned guest spots by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as pianist on “School Notes” and their friend Kevin Krizmanich, who provided a soulful trumpet introduction to “Candy Wrappers.”


Hoff and DeBartolo’s executive director, Anna Thompson, also coordinated having the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to Speece, and Hoff and Speece dedicated their emotionally affecting acoustic duo rendition of “Young Again” to his maternal grandmother, Joan Webber, who died April 13.


The only real critical issue of the night was in the sound mix: Too often Hayes’ violin was too soft to hear, especially over Fegan’s drums, and even Gaynor’s electric guitar didn’t always have enough presence at times.

Otherwise, this homecoming was a triumph for The Bergamot.

As Speece said at one point, “There are so many dreams coming true tonight.”

If there’s any justice in the music business, many more will come true for The Bergamot.

to read the original review click here 

shine ON

Surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be


“Your vibe attracts your tribe. Your tribe imprints a vibe on you. Life is very short. Choose wisely. Be fearlessly you and dare to let go of the people who dim your shine. Develop new and old relationships with people based on mutual support and empowerment. Give all of your authentic self.

As an entrepreneur, teacher, creative, and forever student of life, I make a conscious effort each and everyday to put myself around those who are pushing their own self perceived limits. The people who raise the bar on themselves daily, share their gifts openly, and empower me to be more of myself.

People who are loving and living their passion and purpose ignite the same within you. So, keep your own vibes high and prioritize time with those who reflect the same. Plan adventures, gatherings, work and play time with them often. Rub off on each other. Fan each other’s flames.”– Amber Suckswert Founder of


Hiya there,

This passage resonated with me today and I thought you might enjoy it too. Thank you for being a light in my life. Continue raising the bar daily, share your gifts openly, and empower yourself and others to be more yourself.

Shine ON


Livin La Vida Loca in Brooklyn




Since moving her God has worked in and through me. This universal love has lead me here to refine of my heart and grow my faith. Living in New York City is beautiful. Sure, it is not easy but who said it was supposed to be. through living here I have been given abundant light and love.


Recently I found myself watching this documentary on emotions called E-motion. The beginning of the movie starts with this passage.

There was a man on his death bed. He did not have much strength left and he said to his wife, “come close I want to tell you something. Listen very carefully I can only say this once I don’t have much strength left.” She replied, “I am listening darling what is it?”

He said, “Remember this always each morning the moment you take your head off the pillow you have all you need.” 

These works are now written on my heart. How profound. I hope you find the sustenance you desire everyday. Livin la vida loca in Brooklyn has refined my spirit and strengthened my faith in God. For this I am truly grateful today. Where ever you are in life know that you are loved.

Enjoy this video of our band The Bergamot performing our new single Forget About Tomorrow

Shine ON