Life has a way of becoming a blender. When we think we have it all figured out, often in that brief period of youth, whilst feeling invincible and capable of anything. Or when we know what we want but put it aside to please others and do the most ‘acceptable’ thing in society… The mixing begins. Responsibilities can weigh heavy and the cycle of predictability is often welcome. Many either piss away or shelf their dreams at this point. Sometimes both happen simultaneously. It doesn’t have to be like this.
There’s nothing like the unhampered elation of pure artistic creation coming to fruition and the rush of live performance. If this is substance abuse, I am an addict. After one little taste sharing my work on a stage, I was hooked and went on as if music had always been woven in, like a gold thread in an otherwise average life. Of all the things a MOM would want to do… Be a musician?? That’s crazy-talk!
My kids were young when I started producing and performing music. “My mom does music…”, they’d say, even in kindergarten. It’s all they know. They’d be in bed and I’d be in front of the computer with an old Roland keyboard at my side. I landed an easy job that allowed me time to create and gigging. When MySpace and Facebook crept into life, what a bonus it was to reach out and talk to others! Even if I couldn’t leave the house easily, I felt connected and made connections. I made enough to pay the bills and started traveling on weekends to perform in different cities. My kids would go to their dad’s and I’d hit the road for the 48 hours that I had. My earlier performing years saw me in NYC, Boston, Chicago, all places in between and performing all over in Toronto in random bars.
Money was scarce and I painted paintings to sell as merch to help with gas. Sometimes I sold CDs. I made the music pay for the music and I worked for our living, then anything I would have/should have put into RRSPs and the like, I invested in my music career. Our little family kept afloat and I kept building a life in music. Something I wanted, no, NEEDED. It wasn’t always accepted that I was an entertainer with small children but being that entertainer allowed me to be home with my kids way more than if I had chosen a traditional path as a single parent. Just sayin’…
Once I looked at my son and said I might quit. He got upset and said it would all be for nothing if I quit. I knew what ‘all’ meant and checked my head. I transitioned from live indie performer to DJ and studio vocalist, embraced Ableton and live video production. My son was probably 11 when he had that kind of perception, watching me create for 8 years or so already… so, I kept building.
At times I didn’t know what I was building but I kept goals small and reachable so that there was a high chance of success, in whatever it was. A pile of small accomplishments adds up and in times when I was home instead of out networking, I could make things happen in the studio and online. Action was happening outside my doors, in ‘the scene’, but I was oblivious, still am most of the time today. I am always working on a project, it’s hard to leave it unless for something very special. I rarely go out still even though the kids are grown. I swear I got down to enough dance music in the 90’s and 2000’s to account for 8 people so the Groove Gods and I are all cool when I want to Netflix and pass out on a Friday night. My time as Weekend Warrior is over but the Artistic Adult in me keeps feeding the machine.
Sometimes I get disenchanted and wonder what life would be like if there were no releases or songs to sing. If I had a ‘normal’ life. And all I can come up with is a blank slate of nothingness because I can’t even imagine that. NOPE! Music is so deep in my bloodstream; I couldn’t shake it if I tried! I need it… Music doesn’t stress me out, external elements that come at me stress me out. So when music becomes stressful, it’s often because my day to day life needs some attention. These times, it’s all in balance but I can’t see it. The answers are there but I’m asking the wrong questions… I take a time out. And breathe and handle other things in life that have gone wily.
Now, when I’m in the eye of life’s blender, I remind myself I’m just as much in control of the power supply as I am how flexibly I’ll tumble around with it all. It’s not supposed to be easy. None of this business called life/existence/transience… Humans don’t appreciate ‘easy’. It’s supposed to be an adventure. A strenuous hike up a giant mountain to see the view from the top. We are meant to get winded. But that endurance, tho…! When I toggle between moments of feeling invincible and doing all I can to please everyone but myself, day to day, it’s my ‘dream turned reality’ that keeps me anchored.
We all need a place where we can escape. A constant. A place we trust. And if you trace back to the origin of where this blender-free zone came from, there’s a great chance it came from you having a dream, a passion, a hobby, a nice thought, a novel idea. As the saying says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” You could get pulled into the undertow and lose yourself in how hard life can be or you can silence the beast, make it work for you, channel that energy and aim it where you want to be. Like a Care-Bear Stare.
Even now as I go back and re-read this blog, I notice I don’t even make mention of the actual trials and tribulations of my ‘real life’. The events that spurned the creative acts. They are there. My past is littered with frustration, folly and too many f*cks given. There is an anchor out there for each of us, like music is for me, and it’s the best medicine for our ailments, sadness, indecision, all the bad stuff… It’s the glue that puts the pieces back together when we fall apart. Not to sound lame, but music heals my soul. It’s probably saved my life once or twice…
What does that for you? Go do that.