Dreams can only Come True by Walking through the Wall of Fear

Life’s a bitch.  I thought that having overcome my fears about my writing meant it would be like that in all areas of my life.  It turns out I was wrong.  As a child my biggest dream was to be a pianist, and also a vocalist of some sort.  But I learned to believe I wasn’t musical enough and developed a huge block and a lot of fear around it.  I also didn’t know how to learn.  I kept trying, but every time the fear came up I gave up.  Over the last 5 or so years I’ve broken down the learning problem with piano and I don’t run any more, but there’s still a lot of fear connected to singing.  Of the nameless, shapeless sort.

But I haven’t been able to give up on that dream of being able to break through, and also of studying jazz voice at university.  The other day I was playing piano and I suddenly got sick of the debate, should I shouldn’t I.  I’ll never know whether I can succeed, or whether it’s really what I want, I’ll never be able to conquer my fear unless I do it, commit, take the risk and walk through the wall of fire.  It’s enough now!  I said.  So I went to the college of music the other day and asked about studying.

Whew, it was scary.  Young kids hanging out, being cool.  I wanted to run, felt the darkness of my school days closing in on me.  Nobody’s going to like me, I’m going to be laughed at, left out, alone.  For a moment there I lost sight of who I am now.  I became that hurt, broken child just trying to survive and not let anybody know what was going on inside.  In moments like that, when I’m overwhelmed by the past, the fear of being insane is added to the mix.  It’s terrifying.  I’ve learned to just hold on, but I cling to the edge of an abyss.

I thought those days were over.  Damn.  Anyway, I didn’t run, so that’s something.  I dragged myself to the office and met the nicest woman, who, in reply to my tentative and embarrassed question Can I study jazz voice even at my age? smiled and said why the hell not?  My world shifted back to the present.  I remembered I’m not that broken child any more, people don’t reject me now, they don’t leave me out of things, they don’t laugh at me.  I’m able to open my heart and let them in and they do the same for me.  The part of me that’s sane is stronger now than the part that still struggles sometimes for balance.

My lovely kind woman with the sense of humor was very matter of fact, gave me all the info, and played it all down, it’s not such a big deal.  It’s amazing, the power of one person’s kindness and sane perspective.  So then it got exciting.  I walked away with brochures and the student handbook, and instructions for the audition.  I’ve got until September 30 to apply, and until November 30 to prepare for the audition.

Even now as I type this, some of that fear filters back in. I don’t let it take control but I wonder, how did this terror get so entangled with my love of and passion for music?  It’s beyond my capacity to penetrate with logic, or even my understanding of my childhood.  What I do know is that for whatever reason, there’s a wall of fear that feels like a wall of fire between me and my singing.  I’ve spent a lot of time believing that if I can understand it, the fear will diminish and it will be easier.

It has helped, my understanding, because up to now I couldn’t even contemplate studying, let alone getting information about it and saying yes I’ll do it.  But from this point on, the only thing that will rob my fear of its power over me will be the experience of singing and seeing that I’m not destroyed.  Dealing with any rejection that comes along.  The only way to get beyond the wall of fire is to walk through it.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  With my heart in my throat.

Susan Boyle, Mickey Mouse and I

I’ve been reading older posts – gaaahhh!  Painful to read.  Whoo.  Grappling in the dark.

Pregnant Pause.

The celebrity I wrote about yesterday whose helping hand I want is Patricia Lewis.  I naively thought I could find her contact details on the web.  Right, well that didn’t happen.  Don’t seem to be any contact details for the show even, though they’re going to be auditioning pretty soon for the next season.  Must be able to find her somewhere.

Surely the Universe will arrange it.  Which will be a Sign that am on the right spiritual path.  Or career path.  Or even material path.  I’ll take any path I can get.  Just not the Poverty Path.  Been there done that.  Still there doing that, look forward to – oh that’s enough of this paragraph.

Shall be South Africa’s version of Susan Boyle.  Or else, to quote brilliant friend, shall be South Africa’s  Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. You know the bit where he is the Sorcerer’s apprentice and all the household bits go bananas and chase him around the kitchen. So there you are being pursued by brooms and kettles and saucepans and wooden spoons and even ironing boards BUT you are still holding on to your mic and singing at the top of your voice!”

Either of them will do.  Of course could just be Jennifer Stewart.  Right. Susan, Mickey and I are starting worldwide trend to recognize that older women have just as much to offer as nubile young beauties.  Obviously not to men between ages of 16 and 96 going through mid-life crisis, but there’s the Rest Of Us.   Beautiful young women will look at us and either be inspired or gloat, which is v. positive effect for them.

Everybody else will say “well it happened for her, so it can happen for me”.

Don’t die before you’re dead.

If You Believe You Shall Receive, Amen!

The weather has remembered it’s winter.  Raining, but not so cold.  It’s kind of cosy here.

Somebody wrote “action causes reaction” the other day, and it’s true, but the thing is, you have to be discerning about what your action is – which is what his point was about.  Couldn’t I have said this more simply?  Probably.

He said if you’re unhappy in your job either look to see if you can find things that make it interesting, but if you can’t, look for a new job.  Don’t act out your anger and frustration.  Well, that’s how I interpreted what he said.  I agree.

But what if your life or the way your mind operates manifests obstacle after obstacle, and every action that you take seems to result in a reaction that takes you further from fulfillment?  What do you do?   Lobotomy?  Take refuge in schizophrenia?   Grrrrr…

Woke up this morning irritated and frustrated.  Still waiting to get Paypal, money v. low, pressure v. high.  May not have sustainable job after all, or it may not pay enough to sustain me.  Black clouds gathering.   Gloom.  Doom.  Couldn’t see how anything could pan out, am just living in gumba fantasy-land.  Panic hovering, small child inside yelling BUT I HAVEN’T HAD MY LIFE YET.  Come to think of it, adult woman also yelling.  The noise is deafening.

Oh bugger it said I.  I’m going to sing.  So I got up, made breakfast and did vocal exercises while I made toast over my hot plate, since my toaster toasted some time ago.   Funny thing happened.    Small inner child started having fun.  Life began to look exceptionally rosy.  Imagination kicked in.  There’s a celebrity here with a show Supersterre – Afrikaans for Superstars, I guess.  It’s a kind of America’s got Talent, but it operates on kindness, fancy that.  She’s adorable, big blond hair, heart of gold.  All the judges cry and hug contestants who don’t make it.

I decided I’ll by hook or by crook make a recording of any old song, and send it to her and say can you help?  Can’t hurt.

Breakfast tasted delicious.  Toast and coffee.

Sang some more while I swept the floor.  Forgot to sweep as singing was so much fun.  Got out the PA system and sang along with Sarah Vaughan.

When skies were dark came Noah’s ark, Amen / When lions roared came Daniel’s Lord, Amen / Lord help those who pray / And on judgment day / if you believe ye shall receive Amen.

Forget about judgment day, I’m not waiting that long.

Singing my Way to Victory

For the past couple of days my flipping voice has clammed up again.  Damn, blast, and bloody hell.  This happened before, as soon as I took my singing seriously again my throat closed up, and inner implosion happened.

Whoo, I got so angry this time, it’s as if an inner torture takes over.  Decided this morning I’m not giving up again, no matter what.  Will get through this.  Will sing anyway, even if it sounds hideous and I want to cry and have tantrums.  I’ll sing hideously and cry and have tantrums, but I won’t give up.  It can’t go on forever.  And I have to do it first thing in the morning.  If I leave it too late, my body’s all tense, I’ve sat too long at the computer, life looks dirgy and I haven’t a reason in the world to sing.

So.  Up with the lark this morning.  Well, the late lark.  I put Stephane Grapelli on and jived around for a while – that made me want to sing!  Then did tummy exercises to same, had hot shower, good coffee and brought out the broom and stuck on the vocal exercises to sing along with.

Horrible at first.  Voice all taut, just wouldn’t come out, throat a boa constrictor.  Vocal chords all covered in cotton wool.  But I carried on, didn’t I, and pretty soon – whoopee – voice opened up.

The song of the day was “Anyone who had a heart”.  It’s a great pour your heart out song.  Then Midnight Sun sung by Ella of course.  Love that one.  Soulful love song.  I’m into love this morning, I guess.  Hey Jack, where the hell are you anyway?

I’ve started writing my book.  Having fun dreaming of being a jazz singer and script and novel writer woman of substance.  Fame and fortune just waiting for me round the corner.  And Demi Moore’s plastic surgeon.

Now there’s stepping out of history for you.

p.s. I’m sick of gloom and doom, sick of being unhappy, and very very very sick of my past.

Come on life, bring me to a mentor

I sang when I was a kid, and played guitar.  I had a pretty good voice and ear, but my self esteem was so wasted I came to think I was pathetic at singing.  Eventually I gave up.

I kept trying to reconnect with my voice over the years, but the messages I’d internalized – and the conclusions I’d drawn about myself – were too strong.  I lost my ability to sing, couldn’t connect with my emotions.  I sang in   tune but there was no quality to my voice.

I gave up trying.  My longing to express it still lived in me, but I suppressed it.   I couldn’t even listen to music at all, it was too painful.  I didn’t listen to the radio, to anything.  No music in my life.  Amazing.

It was really painful.  I was disconnected from my soul – or that’s what it felt like.  I coped with my longing by telling myself I hated music.  I even hated the word music.  Couldn’t say it without flinching.

About five years ago took jazz lessons and told me a few things, which I fiddled about with on the piano.  I loved the sounds – it was very simple stuff – but something in me fired up.  I started wanting to sing jazz, so I took my courage in my hand and went for lessons at a jazz school.

All the stuff I hadn’t been able to deal with as a child came flooding back.   I had so much repressed emotion, which was very painful when it began to be released.  I spent a lot of the time in the lessons crying!  My teacher was kind, but she didn’t understand that I couldn’t remember how to sing.

Even when I told her, she didn’t know what to do about it.   I moved onto another teacher who didn’t know either.  Neither of them had any understanding of what makes a person shut down, or how to reach through the barriers.

I had to learn how to do it for myself.  I learned how to take the pressure off myself for achieving and I began to reconnect with my voice by listening to my body.  I laboriously began to dismantle the inner persecution.  I had big demons residing in my musical being.

If anybody criticized me I lost my voice, the power just drained out of me.  I’ll never understand how some people believe we learn best by being crucified and criticized. We don’t – we learn how to be adaptive, and how to work hard, with fear as a motivation.  But when we’re nurtured, our individuality and our creativity come alive.

Now I sing at home,  give myself the nurturing I need.  It still takes forever to warm up, and until it has, it’s as if I don’t have a voice again.  No emotion, no quality of sound, no timbre.   I often despair – will I ever be able to break through my own limitations?

One step at a time.  I want to do this.  I want to sing.  I want to reconnect.  Fear doesn’t paralyze me the way it used to, and it’s true for all aspects of my life.   I’m stepping out of history in the rest of my life, so I must be able to step out of it in my music, too.  I’d so love a mentor.

Come, life, bring me to a mentor who can lead me out into the world as a singer.