Published on Medium.com at https://medium.com/journal-of-journeys/finding-my-voice-when-im-not-sure-who-wants-to-hear-me-bb7c12359d47?source=friends_link&sk=2db9677ad88cd6ac4b3e81d5ddcb9d2f
I traveled by train to Chicago last weekend with the main purpose of attending a conference in the city. Instead of staying at one of the hotels hosting the conference, I chose to stay in a hostel. Part of the purpose of doing that was to save money since I wasn’t traveling with anyone in particular. Another reason was to meet new people. The cool thing was that it was well worth the choice. One of my roommates, Dylan, and one more person, Darcy, who I met while playing pool in the hostel lounge, were both attending the same conference. I not only made new friends, I had people to talk to sharing the same experiences. We had breakfast together at the hostel and met up at lunch time and the end of the conference sessions each day to at least check-in with each other. Since Dylan stayed longer, we also hung out the day after the conference until I had to leave. It was nice to have company and be able to relate our educational background and jobs, besides general interests.
The last night of the conference included a social. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. My roommate went ahead of me because she wanted to go to something else first. I had some work I had to finish, including this post here. It turned out that the social had the usual bar and seating areas, plus a photo booth. It also had DJs playing dance music and a good sized dance floor. By the time I made it to the social, the dance floor was packed. I hadn’t gone dancing like that since attending Michigan Jaycees conventions, although there have been a few good karaoke nights or bands to dance to during the last few years. The atmosphere, though, more resembled my convention experience, and I was ecstatic! The rule I have about dancing is that as long as there are people, I will go out on the floor. People usually let you in their circle if you ask or they see you nearby. I made quite a few new friends doing that, even though I might not see them again for a year. That also matches previous convention experience. The point, though, was that dancing gave me a chance to engage with what was happening right in front of me and I guarantee I was smiling! When the music is good, it is hard for me not to move.
The ironic part of all of this is that I am happy. Why is that so ironic? Cause I am finally, in the last 8 years or so, following what I really want to do. As I have changed my environment, the things I have always liked best – writing, photography, and traveling (at the least) have become main parts of what I do, allowing me to give back to my community through my efforts and and allowing me to feel like I am making a difference in the world. Maybe some would not call that successful or wonder why I am sticking to what is definitely non-traditional. I believe that if you’re not happy, then you are not being fulfilled in life. For some, that is a more traditional route. For me, I am making my path as I go along. It is not always easy. I love it, though, and would not be able to travel or contribute as I have more recently without these choices. What makes you happy?
A few years ago, encouraged by a discussion with one of my friends who was also interested, I started attending the
Chili Peppers Songwriting Club “Write Nite” at M89 in Otsego, MI. I was a regular at the venue, between karaoke and the bands that played over the weekend. Write Nite, which I have written about before here and here, although at the same location, was the one night that didn’t feel like being at a bar because the focus was different.
The attraction to Write Nite, for me, is the writing and the people. The people writing and performing the songs share a piece of themselves, sometimes with a deep topic and other times lighter or funnier. Either way, it is a story being told through a medium that is different than a static post like this. The audiences who listen to songs, at Write Nite and beyond, are as diverse and broad as the artists. The more I attended the monthly events, the more I started listening to the words of all songs, including the radio.
I knew at the beginning that I wanted to be able to write songs and happened to mention wanting to “sign a chili pepper.” Really, though, signing a chili pepper (they’re plastic and put in a bin so if the person hits it big they can be sold on Ebay and the group can retire) was a token or trophy that proves “I did it.” and yes, I did do it. Once, so far.
Part of understanding the basics of song writing was working through the process with someone. I was told that I needed an idea before anyone would sit with me. A couple of years ago, I tried, but the idea was not clear enough to go anywhere. The same friend from the group, Charlie Mench, helped me then and more recently when I had a new idea. Do you ever get a line stuck in your head that doesn’t go to anything in particular? That’s what happened to me and that was all I had – the line “I don’t want to be your charity case.”
Once we agreed to work on the idea, Charlie and I met a couple of times at a local coffee shop to work out the lyrics. That line was coming from a personal story. Through questions and a discussion that was quite cathartic, we formed the parts of the story – where did it start, what happened in the middle, and how did it or could it be resolved? I definitely needed the experience of the co-writer to pull this out. I also would say it was written because it was needed, in particular because I needed that resolution, too. Creating a song to write a “hit” in terms of something like “Billboard top 100” was not important for this exercise.
When the lyrics were done, the next part I knew even less about – how to add the music for it. Charlie, as the co-writer and musician, started working on it from what we had discussed and ended up asking to meet again. I don’t play guitar (that’s next, cause I want to be able to accompany my songs), so he had to be the one to put the music together. What I could do, though, was suggest songs that I thought would fit musically. I played a Pop Evil song and also a Pink song and between the two suggestions, guitar chords for the “Charity Case” song were created and recorded to the computer. Plus, I was practicing out loud to the guitar. The purpose of recording to the computer was so I could keep practicing on my own. We did meet up to have one live practice session in person before the September event. It had already been stated that my idea equaled me as the singer. For a place to practice, we used the current Hacker Gals space in Kalamazoo, which is big and empty and perfect for a project such as song practice.
My singing experience happens to be karaoke, at least as far as being in front of an audience. Although I was asked many times if I was nervous, I felt ready. I had practiced. A lot. Probably the best advice during that last session was to take a deep breath before I start to sing so it isn’t just coming from the throat. The singing has to come from deep within to have power, based on what I was told. Well, there was a noticeable improvement after that, in power and volume. I did have to restart after just a few words. Following the restart, though, I was spot on. I had practiced it so much that the words were memorized. Although you cannot see him in the video, you can hear him. If you want to watch, follow this link here (thanks to Dee for recording). The people in the audience were mostly regulars, which made everything feel safe. One of my friends who was new to song write nite also came down cause she was interested in what I had done and what the event was all about. Thanks to everyone who was there that night!
The experience, besides making me want to write more songs, was also a reminder. I struggled with songwriting until someone took the time to sit with me and get me through the process. When I am good at something, the parts seem obvious because I am already familiar with it. For songwriting, I knew there were ideas at the beginning of the process, and songs as a result. What I didn’t know was how it worked in-between. How did that idea become a song?
Now that I have been through the process, I have an interpretation. My interpretation may still be different than others, since I am using what I perceive to be my skills. My interpretation may also not meet the expectations of others because they have a different experience and perception. Whether songwriting, or anything else, how do we remember and work with that? I’ve decided to make sure to “take a deep breath” during that thought, and save this for the next topic. I feel like I go in circles or even backwards. How do we keep teaching others in examples like this, and continue to move forward? What ideas do you have and what has worked for you?
Thanks for reading!
I blog because there are so many things to talk about that if all I did was journal I wouldn’t be able to share. It’d be like reading a good business book and not having a discussion to go with it. Lucky (?) for you that even though I slowed down again since the start of the semester, this won’t be one long multiple topic post. Instead, you’ll have more to look forward to (if you enjoy this one).
What my young friend was pointing to in this book was a description of his gerbils. He has two of them and was happily letting everyone know as they entered the house so they would go with him to his room and visit. Even more special, though, was the reason he was all dressed up. It was his mom’s wedding day and his responsibility to give her away (he eventually asked what that meant during the month before). What I liked was the genuineness of it all. How could you look at the photograph below and not believe in love?
I felt that at another wedding about a year and a half ago. That one was bigger and was a longer day of photographing where the one yesterday was smaller and simpler. The bottom line is that they both felt “real.” When I know so many who are or have ended relationships, it’s nice to meet people in ones that have lasted and seem like it really will “as long as you both shall live.”
Does it sound like a song? Whether it is original, such as with the Chili Pepper Songwriting Club, or a karaoke birthday serenade (below), relationships are a definite song topic. In fact, one of my friends said he wanted to date Taylor Swift just so she would break up with him and he would be famous in a song. Lol.
The other relationships that I am always hopeful will stand the test of time are the parent and child, whether the child is a teenager or adult.Cheers to all of it and the hopefulness it brings!
What do you think?
Thanks for reading! (and commenting/liking)
I don’t think I’d be a true blogger without writing something regarding New Years and resolutions. Since I don’t participate in resolutions, how about this: remember to breathe. It seems so easy, right? What we do naturally. Yet, on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis, I am reminded to breathe. Sometimes it is in my Yoga class and directed at all of us. As basic as breathing is, we still seem to want to hold our breath and, unless we are headed under water, what’s the point? Why do we stop and think that will keep us from moving?
What I try to do is change lifestyles. Sometimes, this is uncomfortable when going against the flow of others. For NYE, all I wanted to do was see friends and play games. I decided I really wanted to play pool more than board games, and one of my friends was the DJ nearby. The good thing about a dive bar? I could wear my hoodie instead of dressing up. It was a bit crowded for my taste, but I did stay long enough to play a couple games of pool with my friend Magic (yes, he is a magician!)
I also was able to see another friend at the same place. This was my favorite picture.
Bob liked this one better:
And, as mentioned, my friend was the DJ. It was a mix of karaoke and music (yes, I did a song for karaoke). The pictures came out a little bit strange because of the lighting. Here are a couple of them:
After all that, I decided to go down the road and sit with Tiffany while her boyfriend was the DJ. It was the same thing – music and karaoke mix. Another dive bar, and really, not my favorite type of place to go. It was all about the people, though, and everyone mentioned I don’t get to see very often or haven’t seen in awhile. The picture at the top of the post is with Tiffany. Here are more that include others sitting at the same table:
So, to bring this all back to the original point: I work on changing things in my life that will be continuous. Being reminded of something as basic as breathing on a constant basis seems to me like I need to change something or things so the breathing really IS more natural, and practicing Yoga is definitely a step towards that goal. The ability to chill with friends is another piece.
Do you make resolutions for the new year? If so, what is on your list or what are your other thoughts/comments?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)
In the TV series “Stargate,” the stories would be about travels to different planets. How they decided where they were going, sort of, was based on a dial they used that was similar to a combination lock. Turn the dial back and forth a few times and walk through the opening. A great concept for Sci Fi.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about this idea (except for the other planets part) because decisions are like the numbers on the dial. Make one decision, then the next, and one more, and where, exactly, will that combination land you? It may not be a planet in some distant and made up galaxy. What it does take you to is somewhere different than before.
A gorgeous sunset on the beach at the end of a tough week convinced me that I needed to “get away.” Since I couldn’t do it that night, I found a place to stay when I returned a couple of days later. I didn’t know what or who I would find because traveling alone can go in so many directions.
I knew I was in the right place when there was a desk in my room and the book on it was called “Pocket Positives.”
One entered the bathroom through French doors and could choose to bathe in a whirlpool tub. A definite luxury. Then again, so was the entire trip. In fact, if I were a student of the Dave Ramsey lifestyle, this would’ve failed me in an instant since it was paid for by credit card. I did it for many reasons anyway, especially since I do not know when I’ll ever have the time to do it like I do right now. Time to go back to the story…
The best parts of the trip, however, was the intimacy of being in a house instead of a hotel, and the camaraderie that formed among the guests. Most came in pairs and were married or longtime friends. They came for birthday or anniversary celebrations, or to get away. These topics were discovered and discussed over breakfast, during a scheduled happy hour, or while sitting in one of the community areas, such as the living room, sun porch, or garden areas.
It was these conversations that led to the affirmation that my combination lock has opened a door and moved me further than I realized than when I was at home. I was able to hear stories from other people about where they were from and what they were doing during their visit, and even how they decided to try the particular place. The longest and most intense discussion I had was with two ladies who had been friends for a long time and now are separated by the distance between different states. One of the ladies has been communicating with me via email. This relationship, among others, is fun and exhilarating to build. Taking some time for myself was equally great. Ironically, as the combination of the world keeps turning, that trip from a week ago seems like years ago now.
I don’t remember if they knew the combinations in Stargate, or did it randomly. Is anything completely random, though? There’s been many heartaches to read about lately. One friend left the state for a family emergency and is dealing with a death and the aftermath, Another friend, who I didn’t know well, lost his life in a motorcycle accident that left a world of hurt, including 8 children, behind. The accident was witnessed by a group of his friends, and I know some of them, too. Finally, for the moment, is a family which includes a child who has been a “kidney kid” (as the mom put it) since birth. I visited their house recently, and the usual energy was not quite the same, in spirit. As I read the mom’s posts, I am saddened with her for this journey and the combination the web of genetics spun.
Then there is the happier piece about a friendship that has formed slowly over several years. It lead to an invite for the celebrations of a birthday and upcoming wedding, with karaoke as the main form of entertainment. I knew of or had met everyone who was there and didn’t feel like a stranger at all. Again, especially among my friend’s friends, there was a camaraderie and the possibility of more karaoke.
Finally, there is my personal journey towards whatever is next. I know what I want it to be and am working on a path that may take me in the direction I am picturing. On the other hand, it may take me somewhere completely unexpected. It has been mostly Twitter and a group of local entrepreneurs that are helping to spin this particular dial, where I am meeting other bloggers and people who are passionate about what they do and why they do it. I’d like to think I am contributing to that same community, local and virtual, as I continue to write, communicate and connect.
Have you felt that wheel spinning, too? What type of combo stories came from it?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!
I’ve talked about karaoke a lot. This post, though, is about What’s on My Walls and Shelves. All the decorations I have mean something to me, and most are photographs. At the time I originally hung up pictures, the most important groups were the MI Jaycees, my “Pit Crew” and high school classmates. The people and friends from these groups have been the central part of my life at one time or another, and the general connections are important even when the focus has changed. It was that importance, though, which inspired me to make the pages. Karaoke was also a high focus for awhile. As mentioned in Taking Chances, I had already been participating in karaoke with one group of friends when they discovered a new place and I became hooked. The place doesn’t exist anymore and I don’t see the same people simultaneously, if at all, anymore. We’ve not only scattered, some seem to disappear, and I have met new people as karaoke has continued. Since the bottom line is that the people are important to me, I thought it fitting to make a new page for my wall.
Yesterday I loaded supplies and pictures into my backpack and headed to one of the local cafes. I had to order a few more pictures, which I picked up in the evening. Hopefully, I didn’t forget anyone since the page is crammed. A couple of friends included are ones I knew the entire time. One would not participate in karaoke and the other did, and both supported where I hung out at (and still do) for karaoke. Sometimes I met someone through karaoke friends who didn’t participate. Others have moved away or dropped out of going. I decided that whether or not I presently see them, they were important enough for me to include. I wonder what I’ll think about when I look at the collage page five or 10 years from now.
Luckily, I had an extra frame. In debating on which wall to hang it up, it didn’t seem right to add a 4th frame. I wanted it more at eye level and that would’ve made it up above. It is the TV (which I hardly ever use) that is below, and, I think, enough space for adding a second frame next to it. Interestingly, I am starting to see more of my MBA classmates since graduating. They may be next!
What do you think? How do you decorate?
Thanks for reading (and commenting)!
When I was studying as an undergrad, transitions meant something similar to one scene fading from black as another scene appeared, and a slight overlap. I was studying Mass Communications and this, of course, applies mostly to TV. Transitions also meant finding a link between a previous thought or paragraph and moving it to the next (sort of like I just did). If you didn’t already know from these blog posts, I love to write, and had a journalism minor that gave me many chances.What I am finding right now is a life transition. As pointed out in previous posts, such as The Gift, I recently finished graduate school. Even more than that, though, I have been a full-time student during the last two years, where before that I was working full-time and a part-time student. Plus, when I originally started graduate school, I was still married, working full-time, and a part-time student. I know I am not alone with the amount of transitions in my life, and there are more that I won’t mention here.
I admit that it’s interesting, along with the challenges. The main challenge, I believe, is to keep moving forward and being aware of all the choices. Getting stuck in what once was will also get things stuck presently. Having a tunnel vision of what could be the future is limiting. In order to give some structure to days, I have been going to the gym more regularly than before. I even had a 24 day streak and, after a few days off, I have started again (2 days and counting).
I’ve also had a chance to work on picture projects, such as what was accomplished at my practice Boot Camp. Every time I work on my pictures I find more photos that apply to unfinished projects, or I think of MORE that I could do. A full-time job, for sure, if I could get paid to work on my own projects. In fact, I am going to write on an ongoing Year in Review project. Please look for it soon.
As the picture fades into that cross between the old and the new, I am also finding out what activities and which people I really want around. Karaoke, for example, can still be fun, but I’m definitely not on Karaoke Overkill anymore. In fact, I find that the more I change, the more other things stay the same. I could find, for example, basically the same group of people singing the same general selection of songs when I go to karaoke at the places I’ve been regularly attending. It’s a comfort, and at the same time, I don’t feel a part of it anymore. Have you found anything like that?
On the other side, though, I have returned to reading. It becomes easier to read books of choice when textbook chapters or other readings are not being assigned. I’m not sure I’ll read as much or as fast as I used to, though, since I probably am more active in general. The library will always be one of my favorite places and happens to be where I am writing this post (at least up to here). It also helps to be the organizer of a book club. Whether or not everyone else reads the month’s book choice, I do.
In a discussion with one of my friends recently, I was asked why I am changing activities. I answered that I want to be involved with what helps me move forward and not what gets me through the moment. While in school, sometimes all I could concentrate on was the next assignment due and relieving the tension or the joy or possible being That girl and working on an assignment at the bar was what brought me through. My friend equated it to college (or even high school) seniors deciding to “get serious” about the next steps. A great analogy. I seriously hope the next show fades in soon. Meanwhile, I am getting fit and having fun meeting new people.
What do you think? Thanks for reading (and commenting)!
The obvious identity thief is the one who literally steals your information and uses it maliciously (and hopefully gets prosecuted). When that happens, it is a pain in the rear at the least, and even though you are a victim, it can still take a long time to rebuild credit and other things.
Recently, I participated in a writing workshop for two of the three sessions. The workshop was facilitated by a speaker from a seminar I just repeated (as a volunteer) about Coping with Divorce. During the workshop sessions, we reflected on the past for the first week, the present for the second week, and we’ll discuss the future in the third. As we went through writing exercises about the present, there was a line in a poem about giving yourself away. What many people have in common while in a relationship is losing their identity. The person will do for others and not themselves and therefore when the relationship ends, similar to the thief, the person is left without an identity. If it’s always been about doing things with and for others, what you like may have been forgotten or not even given the chance to be discovered.
I believe that it is not only a relationship between two people, such as a marriage, where this occurs. Before we get to that point in life, the same actions start among family and possible friends. Have you chosen a career path because it is what somebody else thought you should do? Have you played on a sports team because it was expected and not because you actually liked it? Have you stayed away from a career path because it was a hobby, and maybe even given up the hobby to be able to support everyone else or because no one thought your hobby important?
Granted, any relationship is give and take. In these cases, though, the true identity is unknown, and is different than the roles of mother, sister, husband, wife, father, brother, friend, colleague, etc. Having your own identity means knowing that you are a “cat” person or knowing that running rocks (for you) over swimming. Having it stolen means you only swim or maybe skip all together because going everywhere for everyone else leaves no time.
I’m not saying don’t give. What I am saying is don’t give away everything. You are a unique individual who deserves to figure out and grow with your identity.
What do you think? Thanks for reading (and commenting)!
My Yoga instructor always says that we should push ourselves to the edge. In other words, do the most challenging version of the poses that we can which feels the best today. Some days, Child’s Pose definitely feels better than hanging out in Down Dog. Other times, the stretch from the upside down V feels best. The question is, how does one determine what a good challenge is and what might be laziness or maybe unworthy instead?
Where Yoga is not more than an hour long each session, this seems to also apply in life. Being on an edge might be for school or sports or even a job or as a spouse/parent. What about the social edges? I love it when there is activity and good conversations flowing. Activity examples are ones I have mentioned before – karaoke, shooting pool, and dancing (especially to a good live band). What these all have in common, though, is that they are usually at a bar. Some activity around me will get goofier or slower and the conversations really depend. I’ve had some great ones with people, even though they may not remember if they have been drinking. Other times, it can get nasty, loud, obnoxious, and on some of those days, my edge would equal going to my car and driving home.
I’m weird, to many, for not wanting to cross that line and be one with all of the loud, obnoxious, and sometimes, nasty people. I’m not saying it makes me smarter than others for that choice. It’s just different, and, as in Yoga, I go as far as what works for the moment for me. Where’s your edge?
Thanks for reading (and commenting)!