On Bonnie Raitt, bullfrogs and getting lost in the supermarket of life.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” –Dr. Suess
“You’re just so … exposed!” she said. Her elbows on the table. Her hands open emphatically in front of her.
I was out for lunch with my cousin-sister visiting from San Fran at the Salt Tasting Room. Exposed brick, concrete floors, communal tables and a chalkboard wall with the specials. Very Gastown. Very Vancouver.
We had the “Wine Flight” (a wine tasting selection). FYI, I’m no Carrie Bradshaw. I don’t always drink wine on my lunch break but this was a special occasion. My cousin was moving to Hong Kong for work.
Each wine was perfectly paired with an assortment of meat and cheeses.
Where were we? Ah yes! My cousin. She told me she had been reading TGIF and couldn’t get over how much of my real life I put out there. I laughed and brushed it off saying my honesty (word-vomit) was a default setting I couldn’t control.
Then she said some really nice things that (awesome) cousins say when they visit and finished up by asking, “So, what’s going on with your singing?”
The Sound of Music
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” –Maya Angelou
Many many moons ago, I used to sing. Back in 2003, I recorded a little demo album in Dubai. Some of the songs from that album even played on the radio in Dubai. Late-late-late night radio shows.
My life has moved on since then.
For reasons that are far too sensitive and nuanced to get into (that’s saying something, coming from me) I will say this: almost overnight I lost the joy of singing. What was meant to be a break for a couple of days, turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months, months snowballed into years. Six years to be exact. Six quiet years.
The fact that I suffered a pretty serious quarter-life crisis didn’t help. The crazier life got, the quieter I got.
When I first started singing again after my six-year hiatus, my voice sounded strange and unfamiliar. I cringed when I heard it out loud. It wasn’t as strong as it used to be.
Yet, I continued to sing at home, in the shower, in my car, in my bed. I had no plans to revisit my life as an singer-songwriter but I did want to know my voice. Who is this person? What does she care about? What does she want?
Turns out she had dreams, hopes and passions. Who knew? She had been such a Debbie Downer for so long.
The more I sang, the more insight I got into who I was and who I was meant to be. I was hard-wired to sing. It was irrelevant whether I was singing for an actual audience or just in the shower between a lather-rinse-repeat shampoo cycle. Singing was the auditory treasure map to my shipwrecked soul.
Slowly my thoughts got louder. So loud. I couldn’t contain them any more. They pushed and shoved their way out of my mouth. They got bolder. Soon I was saying the things that “we-all-think-but-don’t-say.”
This surround-sound version of me bore a striking resemblance to the crazed six-year-old who ran around laughing, singing and screaming.
I can’t afford to lose her again in the supermarket of life.
Six years was too long. Six years felt final.
So now, I put my shiz out there. For everyone to see, read and hear. If I get lost again? They (family, friends and colleagues) can come find me.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings
The Right Now
Given my crazy schedule and an effort to make TGIF more sustainable, Idelette and I discussed doing a vlog (video blog) once a month.
Except l thought, why stop there?! Why not take it one step further and record a little song to shake things up?
– I can’t remember anything from my “Digital Recording 101” class in university.
– There is a reason why people get paid boatloads of money to record music.
– It’s impossible to “throw together a song” in one evening. Even a karaoke song.
Still I thought, “Leap, Tina. Leap.” Actually, a bunch of Facebook friends (you know who you are) reminded me to leap this week.
I was tempted to leave you with one of the songs from the album that was professionally recorded back in 2003, instead of the crazy-audio-karaoke-disaster I was able to throw together. And then I thought … where’s the fun in that? I’d be missing the whole point of this exercise.
The point of life is not to be “Polished-practiced-perfect” Me, but to show up and sing like an out-of-tune bullfrog amidst life’s chaos.
I hope that exposing the raw unfinished version of me gives you the courage to do the same.
Come on, fellow bullfrog!
I can’t hear you.
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” -Dolly Parton
‘Polished-Practiced-Perfect’ Me (Studio, August 2003)
Download track here.
‘Raw-Ragged-Rough-Take’ Me (Bedroom, October 2011)
If you want an audio reminder to be ‘Raw-ragged-rough-take’ YOU, you can download the song here.
So my SheLoves peeps, I have two thoughts this week:
1. I’m curious. What is the area of your life that you are terrified to expose? Note: I didn’t say “Is there an area…” I know we all have areas of our life where we silence ourselves.
2. What is the worst-case scenario that keeps you from exposing/sharing that part of yourself with the world?
3. Dream with me for a minute. What could be the best-case scenario (pay-off) in exposing/sharing yourself?
Love you more than an uber pretty Crispy Potato and Apple Roast with Shallots, Rosemary and Thyme,(<- Recipe)
To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.