A thought struck me while I was cooking breakfast this morning: I would never be where I am today without the things I’ve been through and done in the past. And where am I now? Stoked on life. Having so many amazing moments I didn’t think were possible.
What did it take to get me to lower my expenses, be honest about the fact that in order to pursue my art and be true to myself I couldn’t live the life I was living anymore? It took losing my health and my sanity and my marriage, that’s what. I had to be at a point where I had what seemed like absolutely nothing before I could take the reins of my own life and go after what I know I came here to do in a way I never have before: Music. Writing. Being Me.
Nothing to lose. Everything to gain.
I used to be the world’s worst invalidator–of myself. And because I was constantly putting myself down I attracted people who criticized me in subtle ways that were corrosive and toxic. Then I internalized the beliefs of the people I’d surrounded myself by, as well as my own, that I couldn’t do what I wanted and survive.
It’s just so wack the way the universe works. I had to go through some terribly hard shit to get to the point where I realized life is short, I could die tomorrow and I will be bloody pissed if I didn’t do my damndest to own being the performer and musician and writer I’ve been working at being my entire life. It’s what I’m here to do.
I also used to be really good at playing the victim. I would blame circumstances or other people for my lot in life. It was the doctor’s fault for putting me on horrible back pain and anxiety medications that destroyed my health and nervous system and made me face the bowels of hell (it wasn’t. I sought him out, and I had a pre-existing addictive personality). It was my husband’s fault for wanting a more conventional life and not understanding that art is not and has never been a hobby for me (we were different. That’s all. Neither his way nor mine was “correct”). It was my full-time job’s fault for making me work so much (I chose to work 9 – 5 through my early twenties so I could go on more trips and buy more material things).
And I was real jealous. I had a hard time accepting other people’s successes because of my own lack of success at going after what I really desired. I also thought there wasn’t enough to go around. I held onto an American society competitive market attitude.
So what changed? I got off pills, first of all. Then, I acted as if I already was what I believed I was. I told people I was a musician instead of saying, “Er, sometimes I kind of play some songs and stuff.” I surrounded myself by people who would call me on my shit and demand I take action, instead of supporting me wallowing in reasons I couldn’t do what I believe in. I started taking control of my life instead of being a passenger in it drifting this way and that.
And I continue to do other things. Daily meditation. Journaling for hours a day to find out who the hell I am and what I really want. Making sure that if I’m not happy with my life I make tiny goals to move me towards my bigger goals. Giving myself credit every day and not looking for it in other people as much. Writing gratitude lists.
And eventually I ended up where I am now. Surrounded by people whose lives I respect and admire, people who are successfully doing what I want to do, therefore don’t naysay the possibility of doing so. If you talk to someone who hasn’t tried, they’re going to likely tell you you will fail. I intend to stick with those who have succeeded, and remain teachable. I have faith that if I was given talents I will be able to use them in this life.
Last night, I got to jam out with some amazingly talented musicians doing krautrock style music (irony after all the krautrock stuff I posted a few days back, eh?). I lugged my keyboards and guitar out to my friend’s practice space; a musician girl friend down the street let me borrow her pimped out Fender Twin Reverb Amp. I got to sing, and play piano and guitar. We had an electric violinist and classical pianist who were trying out a jam, like me, alongside one of my oldest friends on drums, and a guitarist and bass player whose creds go back through a ton of amazing bands and decades in the music industry. They’re all paid, working, gigging musicians, amazingly talented, and people I want to be more like.
I came home and face planted on the bed, deliciously exhausted. Tomorrow, I have band practice for my own songs, we are working on seven of them right now. Friday, I’m going to go try out as singer for another band project, we are going to cover some PJ Harvey songs to warm up. This is how I am going to continue working my life. Music, music, music.
You know, mostly in my former life, I was afraid to be myself, and afraid to be happy. I thought I had to be negative and tough to protect myself. And I kept attracting people who reinforced this belief system. But I’ve learned in the past year, after leaving everything that was comfortable to me and starting all over again, that I don’t need to have people near me who make me feel small. I want to be around people who make me feel good and believe in me, so I started believing in myself. I deserve that.
I am grateful to be alive and doing what I love on a daily basis. I’m also grateful to all of the people who have helped me every step along the way. I read a quote the other day that said love is good when given, but better when shared, and I do believe it takes a village to raise an artist. We need each other. And I look around me and am so proud of my kick ass friends, writers, artists, musicians, who have walked with me through this past number of years. We are all doing amazing things with our lives. Success is how you define success. To me, success is managing to do so much of what I love, with or without validation from society. I told one of my friends last night that this has been an amazing year so far. “This will be a year to remember,” he said.
You never know what you can create if you believe in yourself.