All This Health Stuff’s Getting in the Way of my Music!!
As you can probably tell based on the 30+ shows scheduled for 2009, while all this health stuff had been rearing its ugly head in 2009, through fatigue, depletion, weakness and biopsies and endless blood work, infections and 29 doctor appointments, I was still determined that music was my lifeline-my pathway to healing. I just looked back in my journal, and here’s what I wrote in early 2009:
…these first few months of 2009 I have been pretty weak and sick. How does all this relate to music?? Because it is about the state I am in whether or not I can be creative or write, or keep up with performance, tours, communication with my friends and family. Maybe I am keeping this secret from my fans because I don’t want to share this vulnerability, and I don’t want to risk some or other artist thinking, ‘I won’t ask her to do a gig-she’s sick and unable to rise to the occasion.’
I think it’s telling that even then I was thinking about the implications my state of health was having on the music (not the other way around!)
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves” Jack Cornfield Quotes
I had mentioned previously that Dave, my husband, and I attended a music strategies workshop in Los Angeles, California in June 2009. Despite the workshop’s physical toll on my body, I returned to San Francisco super inspired and determined to make changes in my life, my communication with my friends and fans, and my songs. I really pondered who I was as an artist and realized it was about the connections: making connections with my friends, touching them, not being afraid to be vulnerable or show myself to them. Realizing it was about YOU, your connection and relationship to me through my music, and not just “the songs” was a huge insight for me! I now was desperate to write new music that would reach people on an emotional level, to touch them and inspire them to feel. For nearly a year and a half, I had been mentored privately and studied song craft intensively; it was time to apply my blood, sweat, and tears to write new Aoede songs that could stir people’s souls. It became so clear to me: find out what inspired and compelled me. Figure that out, and I could inspire and compel in my songs. But how could I reconcile my need to connect, my want to show myself, with holding back what I considered my private health issues?
“There should be fireworks, at least, when a dream dies ” Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Sky, 2006
I had dreams of collaborating with Dave, my husband. His passion is metal work; so I thought, why couldn’t we connect arts and music? Play music and have an open studio; give a forge demonstration? I wanted to put on a “fans getting to know you” brunch and to play a winery circuit. I started thinking outside the box. I considered combining my passions for water and music. I started dreaming about getting my songs placed in film and tv and determining steps to connect with music supervisors. I was bursting with so many ideas.. the sky was the limit! Or… in this case? My body?! How could I realize my dreams when my body kept resisting? Kept insisting I slow down?
I just looked back at my goals in 2009 as an artist; some pertained to performance, such as playing or headlining some mid-size or large Bay Area clubs; some to promotion, such as doing a West Coast or nationwide radio tour, or longer term, opening for national acts; some to business, such as selling 10,000 copies of Push and Pull… It’s great to have dreams and goals. It’s hard (and perhaps positive too) when life gets in the way and forces you to revisit them.
Blue Gold it’s your time to shine!
I did manage to realize one dream in September 2009 when I self released Blue Gold in conjunction with Coastal Cleanup Day. I didn’t even fully know I had this dream until my health forced me to take leave from work in July 2009. As I indicated, I envisioned taking off work for a month or two to give my body an opportunity to rest and recover; adjust to the medications. What I discovered is that when I was away from work, I missed the opportunity to affect change. As an Environmental Scientist I put my heart into California coastal water quality protection, specifically nonpoint source pollution, working for two State agencies for nearly 10 years. I started thinking about how to combine my two passions-music and water-and it became the impetus for a surf rock, poppy style coastal anthem directed at kids entitled Blue Gold (click on picture to play!). It was intended to celebrate our precious blue liquid resource-water and the ocean-and raise awareness for plastics and marine debris. (click for more on Blue Gold.)
Looking back, I guess writing and releasing Blue Gold was my way of staying in the game and contributing; using music to help educate and entertain, even though I was clearly not able to work. The release inspired me to reach out to many organizations, film makers and film festivals, and to put together a demo video for Blue Gold. This process sparked a new project using story, music and film to inspire and connect teens with their watersheds. I started writing a young adult fantasy novel dealing with water themes and had plans to have a 4-song water-themed CD accompany it. I sought collaborations with a local film maker and environmental organizations and pursued several grants. I found I had “started” many things that needed finishing… does that ever happen to you?
“When the music changes, so does the dance” African proverb
I also was doing all I could to keep up my strength, including aqua therapy, driving myself at least once a week for warm water therapeutic-exercises, designed for people with medical disabilities. (Not me, I thought! This is mostly little old ladies and men with varicose veins!) Meanwhile, my body kept resisting, protesting, begging me to slow, to stop. The dance with methotrexate in 2009 was a roller coaster of ups and downs. Some mild improvement in the weakness, I thought; a lot of side effects; then a lot of infections. I ended up canceling some and turning down other gigs from August through December.
I remember being sick at my last show in December 2009, and beginning by standing and singing; then mid-way needing to sit, and cutting my set list because I just didn’t have any more energy. I think at that point I realized I really couldn’t perform without it totally wiping me out. And I wasn’t really getting “better.”
Just what was the magic combination to manage this DM animal? And what would become of my dreams if “the music was indeed changing” and I could no longer perform?