getting ready for California

Yeah, I'm headin' to CA next week to attend a music conference in LA - but I'm stoppin' in San Francisco for a couple days first. I been slowly working on getting ready for the trip, doin' things like buyin' a few new clothes, and some new walking shoes, get the hair cut, get the demo mastered, stuff like that.

My other projects right now doing vocal tracks on a couple of songs for collaborators, writin' music for a couple lyrics, gettin' my newsletter out, and rehearsing with my trio for our upcoming Dec gig. I'm also working on a couple more originals for that.

The next album is slowly coming together. I have most of the songs written, but it will take some time to get them produced. I don't think it will be ready til maybe summer 2007. It's amazing how long it takes to birth a song... from that first scribble in the middle of the night til the final master. I just keep puttin' one foot in front of the other and trust I'll get there one day ;)

Pursuing a dream AND paying the rent = ?

Q: What are some of the things you are doing to make the moves that are necessary to make your musical dreams come true and eat at the same time?

A: Sixteen years ago, when I started taking voice lessons, I could barely read music. I'd played instruments in high school but dropped them all except strumming the guitar now and then. I was also working full-time in an office - something I found creatively limiting and time-consuming, but we all have to pay the rent…

Six years later, the company I worked at was sold… and we were told that our jobs were safe.… and a week later, they laid off 9 people - I was one. I was pretty bitter about that… but I met an old friend on the street that I hadn't seen for a while.

She said, "why don't you teach singing?"

I said, "I couldn't do that."

"But you've been taking lessons for years. And you don't have to think about training someone for the opera.… lots of people just want to be able to sit around the camp fire and sing comfortably."

She was kind enough to help me prepare 6 proposals for group voice classes that I sent to the different community centres in Vancouver… and one of them said yes. The class minimum was 6. Only 4 people signed up - I said I'd take a cut in pay to teach it. Once the class began, 2 more signed up.

The next semester, another community centre got on board. And I got a part-time job in the office of the church where I sang in the choir. Not only did I need a part-time job to pay my rent, but I also could then use the piano rooms for practice....and eventually got permission to teach there as well. Within a year, I'd changed the group voice classes into 30 minute private lessons at both community centers.

Within two years I was teaching 3 nights a week at community centers, a few hours at the church, and working part time in the church office. I did that until I moved to Victoria, where I was fortunate to find a place I could live and teach.

Through a fortunate turn of events - one of my students suggested I get in touch with a local recording studio who was looking for singers.… the producer and I started talking.… we ended up writing a few songs together (I hadn't written in years).… he inspired me to get back into songwriting....

Now I write music, record music, teach music, perform music… I live in music every day. I've since taken piano lessons, guitar lessons, harmonica lessons, I just picked up a mandolin... and I'm taking courses in songwriting, too.

I can tell you quite honestly when I started voice lessons I had no idea I would be teaching singing, writing songs & instrumentals, recording in my own studio, etc. I'm still amazed by it. I can also tell you that I have sacrificed financially on an ongoing basis to be able to live this creative life. To me it is worth it, but I didn't have to worry about bringing up a family. If I did, I'd probably still be working in an office and playing the guitar now and then.

You must perververe. You must find a way to bring music into your life everyday. You must do music for the love of it, because you can't imagine doing anything else. And keep moving forward yes, but don't limit yourself in your definition of success (a hit record, singing at the Opry)… my goal in life is to "be IN the music" and that's what I try to do everyday.… and I trust that is leading me somewhere.

Most of all, I thank God for the people who have come into my life - especially people like you, who take the time to listen to my music and read my words, and who take the time to share a little of their journey with me :)

How subtle and sneaky our psyche

This week has been one of insights shared with my students, who are often catalysts for my personal growth. They honor me with more than just being in my studio. They are present with me on many levels, allowing me in, and so we work together to find the voice that has been hidden by past experiences, wounds, bad habits, and programming.

This week it seemed that many lessons developed into a conversation about how our behaviors make us scattered, or tired, or stressed, or anxious, and therefore, because we have somehow created that internal storm or lassitude... that we again do not take a active step forward in our journey.

The paintbrush sits in the jar, the canvas attracting dust. The lesson tape is forgotten, lying on the seat of the car under something else. The things we've left undone crowd upon us, convincing us we have no time or energy to do our artistic practice.

How subtle and sneaky our psyche is. We have a thousand reasons for not doing the one thing that we long to do.

Each day that I live I am aware how hard I have to fight my programming. How easy it is to slide into the slough of despond and end up on the couch watching reruns.

Each day I am aware that yes, I accomplish a fair bit... but how much time is wasted by avoidance, procrastination, feeling scattered or overwhelmed by all there is to do.

I find myself talking sternly to myself, on the one hand, telling myself that I may not play on the computer before I've done my chores, had my daily walk, prepared for my day.

On the other hand, I find myself talking back to the gremlin in my head, saying, 'Yes, I am worthy. Yes, I have accomplished something today. I walked, I taught, I wrote, I sang, I created a new song, I wrote a lyric, I paid a bill, I ate healthy, I called a friend. I am all I need to be in the present moment, and I am beautiful.'

"the shy speaker" :lol:

I know lots of folks look at all the stuff I've done and think it all comes easy, but it don't.

I've been painfully - and I mean painfully - shy all my life. I've avoided social situations, stumbled through conversations with a red face, walked out of restaurants before ordering because I felt too uncomfortable to stay. Even worse, as much as I wanted to sing, I had so much stage fright when performing that I literally could not stand up because my knees were shaking so hard. I'd have to sit on a stool & even then I never sang in public the way I sang at home.

It was only after I began to work with a voice teacher who was also a terrified singer that I was able to slowly, with his help, over time, recognize how my negative thinking, habits and programming were limiting my ability to sing.

And of course, it only makes sense that what stops you from performing well in music also appears in other places in your life. It was like peeling away layers of an onion... getting past one barrier only to find another, each little habit feeling like it was part of my DNA.

I almost gave up, just about every week. But, thankfully, because I was so passionate about music and creativity... and because I didn't want to live a life that didn't include them anymore... I didn't let the internal resistance shut me down or quit. I began to heal.

I did some stand-up comedy about 5 years ago - it took me about 3 years of practicing, thinking about it and watching my friends do it, to get up the courage to actually go to the amateur night and perform my set. When I finally did it - I killed. I left the stage and the audience was cheering, and the MC called for me to come back on stage - but I couldn't. I couldn't.

I wasn't able to because I was backstage, on the floor. I literally had collapsed and couldn't get up, I was shaking so much. I think I lay there for at least 5 minutes, listening to the comic who came after me. I was eventually able to walk again :lol: and I did go back and do it again - about half-a-dozen times. It was something I challenged myself to do, and I felt like I had finally faced one of my fears head-on.

Then, about 3 years ago, when I was auditoning or performing as an actor and/or singer, I noticed a real difference. I'd get off stage after doing my thing, and then realize... 'oh my God, I wasn't nervous! Wow!'

And this week I did something I would absolutely have considered impossible at any time in my past. I actually successfully gave an inspirational talk to a local group of corporate/government types. Yes, a public speaking gig. I talked about my creative journey and what I've learned from walking this path.

I found four things in the process of rediscovering myself and my passion for music. Four things that helped me stay on track, and I want to share them with you.

1. -Spend time with yourself. Quiet time. Daily if you can, walk to work but leave the walkman at home; or meditate, or stop in a café and have a quiet coffee while you write in your journal. You need to stop, and listen to your soul. Raise your awareness of yourself & discover or rediscover what you are passionate about, and start in small ways to bring those things into your life.

2. -Forward action. Set your goals and move through the doubt with purpose – shine a light on that part of you that isn't on the bandwagon & invite it to come along for the ride. Understand that change is difficult for the psyche to accept and realize that the doubts and procrastination come from the Greek Chorus of negativity that lives in your head... and the GC don't want to lose their hold on you. Which brings me to...

3. -Routine. Work to achieve your goals in bite-sized chunks by taking action on a routine basis, as part of your life style and way of being. Action defeats doubt. Action creates energy, which moves us forward. Do something little every day towards that dream.

4. -Never give up.