The first kid signed up for the school musical? That was me (see above!) Singing and dancing to Madonna with friends on the weekends? Me, also. Member of zillions of choirs and voted “most musical” in my senior class? Yup, you guessed it.
I’ve loved to sing for as long as I can remember.
But even though music was my passion, confidence was a struggle. There were always so many auditions, and with that, so much judgment about who was the best. Despite all of the accolades that I got, I never felt like I was really that good.
When it came time to apply for college, I decided I didn’t want to major in music because it wasn’t “practical.” I remember saying that if I didn’t make it as a performer, then I’d have to be a music teacher—yuck. Sixteen-year-old me wasn’t into that idea (even though now it sounds like it could have been a great career path!)
The truth was, I was afraid of going after my dreams. I ended up becoming a literature major in college, which also wasn’t “practical”, and wasn’t even something I cared about that much. But it was safer, because I didn’t have to risk failing at what I really loved.
I barely sang for the next 10 years.
Then one day, feeling depressed and lost in my late twenties, I went to therapy. In the first session the therapist asked me what I loved to do when I was young. “I loved to sing,” spilled out of my mouth before I could think, and tears sprung to my eyes.
That truth opened my pathway back to the arts.
I joined the “Everyone Welcome” choir near my house in Portland, OR, where one day the teacher whispered to me, “you’re a really good singer, you might want to consider a different choir.” Within a year I made my way into a band with two other vocalists and a crew of wonderful musicians. I also started dancing, and eventually moved back to California for a degree in Expressive Arts Therapy.
I made it back. .
Art and creativity are now central to my work and life. I get to help people remember what they love to do creatively, so they can reclaim it in their lives. I tell my clients what I wish someone would have told my younger self: stay connected to what you love, no matter what.
That’s the reason I chose something different for my creativity workshop this month. When I tuned into what I would love to do, singing karaoke is what came up, much to my surprise! Not just an ordinary karaoke night, but a playful, expressive-arts spin on karaoke. A private room (no stage, no drunken bar patrons), holding a safe space for women to be brave and share their voices, and a really fun vibe:
Conscious Karaoke was born!
I truly believe that singing is for everyone, whether or not we’ve been told that we have a “good” voice. I know this kind of thing can be edgy—and if this intrigues you, I invite you to come and step toward that edge with a supportive group of women on October 24th in Oakland. Creative growth guaranteed! Details are here.
And if this isn’t your thing...what is? What did you love to do when you were young? What’s that creative longing in your heart? See if you can make some time for that this week!
Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash
I'm back in town after a summer full of traveling, which was nourishing on many levels. But when I first got back from vacation, I just felt…off. Can you relate?
I was thrown off by the fast pace of life in the Bay Area after spending long afternoons meandering around magical small towns and vast wilderness. Throughout my travels people seemed to actually have time for the most important things, like connection with humans and nature. Back at home, though, I felt far away from my purpose, un-grounded, and vaguely dissatisfied with everything.
After moping around for a few days, I finally had the wherewithal to get out my art journal.
I started with writing a free-flowing rant of everything I was feeling. It wasn’t pretty, but it felt true. Then I circled words and phrases in oil pastels, letting my feelings choose the colors and the marks on the page. Red, black, hard slashes across the paper.
Without trying to change anything, all of a sudden a new impulse emerged: A splatter of yellow light coming out from between the dark lines. So I drew that.
And for the zillionth time, I was reminded that things do move when we move—even if it’s just pastels on paper.
Next there was a flower that started growing through a crack. And a feeling of, yep, slight hopefulness along with it.
I want to emphasize that I didn’t try or force myself to put happy rays of sunshine into my picture. It’s just that the process of allowing my truth to emerge onto the page, and following that moment-to-moment, created a shift.
Which is why I am so damn passionate about the power of creative expression.
From personal experience and my work with clients, I know deep in my bones that every one of us is hard-wired toward growth and healing. It’s an innate process that we access when we express and follow our emotions and our intuition. And creative expression is one of the best vehicles I know to get that process going.
When we create, we take what’s inside and give it a form in the world outside. Whether it’s feeling strong emotions and letting them move through our bodies in a wild dance, or making a collage of our dreams, it’s all about connecting with the most authentic parts of ourselves and giving them space in the world to show us who we really are and where we need to go.
There’s an inner wisdom that comes through when we create that space, and the insights and transformation that occur can feel like magic.
We are all born with the capacity to express ourselves freely in this way, and if we’ve lost touch with it, we can reclaim it. Yes, you too.
In the case of my post-vacation art journaling, the funk I was in didn’t automatically dissolve after 20 minutes of art-making. But that little bit of light made a difference. It helped me start taking action around the projects that do bring joy and connection into my life, so I can create the world I want to live in right here where I am.
One of those projects is writing, which is why you’re seeing this blog post! I’m going to be posting more of these notes on the creative process, about twice a month. Stay tuned.
And if you’re not on my list but you’re interested in following me on this journey, subscribe here.
Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash