Grief into Gratitude – a 6 year reflection

•July 13, 2015 • 1 Comment

After the loss of her husband, my friend’s Mother asked me a valid question: “when does it get better”?  It’s a question I once asked myself while trying to understand my own lyrics and feelings about grieving all that is lost until it’s OK.

“What does OK even mean and what made me think it existed on the other side of any sort of loss?”  At one point I had no answer to that.

I responded to my friend’s Mom with something about it being a different journey for everyone, but that it does get better with time.  I just couldn’t tell her what that might look like in her world, other than it would likely be a day by day process.

When I made the decision to connect with my Dad on a deeper level, I was in counselling to work through some trust issues I had developed over several years.  At the time, committing to our relationship was the most terrifying thing I had ever resolved to do but I had such tremendous motivation, considering he was dying and with no certain expiration date.

Not only was I changed by the time spent up close and personal with real suffering, not only was I inspired by his courage shown in living every day like it was his last, but this crisis revealed so many other things about who I am and who I want to be.  I’ve described it as letting my world fall apart and be rebuilt again from the ground up.

If only I could summarize the transformation that occurred over the last six years.  It would sound something like…

– I am better at expressing love than ever before.

– I wasn’t healthy and now I am healthy.  (Physically, mentally and emotionally.)

– I wasn’t my true self and now I spend every moment of every day feeling like ME.

– I discovered the kind of artist I always wanted to be.  And I’ve made art that comes from a deeper place than ever before; a place of fearless expression.

– I didn’t know how to let anything go and now I hold onto nothing.

– I didn’t believe in myself and now I know I have all I need to become all I desire.

– I felt trapped in a world of rules and anger that I now see as wide open, expansive and free.

– I am happier that it happened than I am sorry that it ended.

That last one is big.  It’s what that song “Renegade” is talking about with the line about grieving all that is lost until it’s OK.

Usually, my July 11th consists of driving out to the secret place where the ashes of my Dad’s body were buried and sitting beneath the Oak Tree.  It is usually a sweaty, difficult, mosquito filled hike in the most peaceful forest with memories being shared by my step-mother and I.

This year, I had a different sort of adventure.  I lived like it was my last day on earth by filling it with wonderful things I love (that Dad would have loved too).

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I took “Betty” (his 1982 Honda 900 motorcycle) out to Gaffer’s in Lockport for the first time.

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I spent time with my plants and my piano.  I mulled over a new song idea.

I drank cold beer outside on a hot day.  I had an awesome dinner with the love of my life.  I went for a drink with a good friend and saw the most badass guitar player, Claire Bestland, setting Shannon’s Irish Pub on fire with her incredible music.

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I felt so much more gratitude than grief.  I was far too inspired to feel loss.  And it was so much better than OK.  In fact, if it were the last day of my life, it would have been the most appropriate way to end it!  I can’t begin to imagine how it is that I am so fortunate to live this life of mine.

There’s another song idea I had a couple of years ago.  Like many others, it came to me in the car:

“Although I’ll never know where we will go when we die,

Oh I, I’ll put on a big show, for everyone I know, with taco salad and pie.

With performances as big as a car,

for everyone who stuck around this far.

Oh I’ll write you a song, it won’t belong on any conventional radio

And even though it’s just for show…”  da da da da…

One day I’ll finish it but until then, I wanted the world to know that I’m awake and aware of the positive energy of which I am capable and that I’m coming to take it over with art.  With music that I make and that I get to make with others.  Writings that have nothing to do with death but everything to do with the fact that we only get this one life to live and that the right path is YOURS.  And it is today.  And it is mine.  (I hope there will be taco salad and pie too.)

I believe in you, my dear Renegades.  I couldn’t live this creative life without you and I’m so glad we’re in it together.  All of us – including the painful and the departed.  I believe in our ability as a “force to be reckoned with” for positive change, to slow down and enjoy the moments that make life worth living and to pursue opportunities for connection and transformation.  To grieve all that has been expressed as “loss” in your life, until it’s okay.  To find out what that means for you.

Because life is too beautiful, awesome and incredible to NOT live each day like it were our last and enjoy it as much as possible.

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Dad & I100_1031

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Photo: Father's Day 2009

Photo: Father’s Day 2009

Page 23

•July 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Page 23

Six years ago today, I was having a magical musical moment that is depicted on Page 23 of Renegade Writings.

I intended to give something by playing this song for Dad.  I thought I was, in a sense, reminding him of who he really was while his physical body was suffering.  Instead, I received so much as a result of this performance.  And I’ve never been the same since.

2009:

2015:

For more information on the Renegade album & companion book:

Listen, read, follow, watch…

www.lindseywhite.com

Release Tour Adventures: Part 3 (The rest of the story.)

•June 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment
The final moment of Piet's flower - from Medicine Hat (it lasted on the highway for a whole week!)

The final moment of Piet’s flower – from Medicine Hat (it lasted on the highway for a whole week!)

Hello again from wonderful Winnipeg (which is such a nice place to come home to).

I love how being away for a while gives everything a special newness upon returning.  Particularly in spring and early summer, when the plants are just starting to show their true colours and fullness.  But coming home in general is something incredible, if you pay attention and can adopt a certain perspective.  “Hey look – it’s my fridge!  I can do laundry any time I want!  Holy cow – I’m so excited to be doing dishes!”  Every comfort of home feels brand new and luxurious.  Every meal made by my own hands seems to taste better and better.  I just want to lay on the floor and enjoy the home-ness of it.  (Also, I may live in my Jack Skellington booty slippers for a while.)

As I’ve eased back into reality, two things have been prominent in my thoughts:

1) Reflection after reflection of appreciation for all of the wonderful things that the last month has had to offer in my direction.  (I had a blast at the Release Concert and although the roller coaster of life has been full of twists and turns, I also feel like I haven’t stopped celebrating since.)

The first of several videos from Renegade’s release: Advice!

And…

2) Dad.  With yesterday being Father’s Day and tomorrow being his birthday (he would have been 63), I’ve been thinking a lot about having him in my life for a season, and what he might be thinking TODAY about all that I’ve been moving toward.  It occurred to me that he would have measured success by my adventures more than their outcomes.  And this made me smile.

Anyway, in case you’re wondering about the rest of my adventures in Western Canada… let’s start with Calgary.

I had a blast making noise for an intimate audience at Wine-Ohs and met a fabulous sound guy/bartender/bass player/server/all-around-good-guy: Tom C Smith.

 

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The stage at Wine-Ohs

You can’t see the merch, but it was on a table that was right under Jimi… cool!

The following day, I drove to Moose Jaw, SK to work with some unbelievably creative students at RuBarb Productions!

Also, the kind folks at Panda Auto Service took a look at my car and discovered warped rotors were the reason my steering wheel started shaking when stopping at high speeds in the mountains.  They fixed me up and I have been good to go ever since.  (If you are in Moose Jaw and your vehicle needs help, go there.  They are kind.)  :)

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Back to RuBarb: working with such expressive, fun and experimental students was an absolute highlight of this tour.

We wrote three songs, which can be heard here:

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I then drove to Regina (in my sweet, safe car) where I met drummer, Ted Crawford at The Artful Dodger.  We played two fun sets together and before the last song, confessed to our audience that it was, in fact, our FIRST time playing together.  Ever!  (Ted is such a pro.)  I stayed with his amazing family who were so fun to be around, shared my love for Mitch and fed me full of yummy things before sending me on my way home.

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All in all, everywhere I went on this tour, people were nothing but kind to me.  Whether with venues, hotels, arts organizations, young people or the generous folks who opened their homes to me, I saw nothing but wonderfulness.  There are too many examples to list, but a few that stand out were: the gentleman in Moose Jaw who lovingly washed the bugs off my car as I watched, the gal with the cool rubber boots at the gas station in Nanton who noticed my tattoo and had so much positivity to send my way, the spanish dudes (also in Nanton) who took the time to make sure I was okay after they saw the smoke emanating from my tailpipe… and the reconnections with people from my past to whom I had the opportunity to present my new self (who is also still very much my old self but with new stories).  These were some of the most interesting parts of my experiences on the road this time around.

There were moments I won’t forget, like playing cribbage with two sisters and visiting with two nieces…

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… who gave me many gifts, such as a big purple bow for my door, pipe cleaners, new songs, dim sum and a jade plant…

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… and it was so much fun connecting with new people who could not have been more supportive.  I found beauty in mountains and oceans; everywhere!  I also found out more about myself.

I was reacquainted with my persistence when dealing with the challenges of the road:

  • trying to address my “life needs” while making art happen and living out of a car
  • dealing with easy and difficult access to load into venues (and doing so alone)
  • learning to follow my inner voice more instinctively when making moment by moment decisions about where to go next or when or how to manage the details
  • developing better systems and habits to keep my posture and pace consistent with who I want to be
  • ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT

After all, what is the point of all this effort in the direction of introducing myself to the world while exploring all that it has to offer… if I’m not going to love, enjoy and savour the experience?  I know now that this is my life’s work – to focus more on what I want and love than what I don’t.  And I’m getting better at doing that under pressure.  And I’m even becoming more kind to myself  when I’m not doing that very well, or as well as I would like.

(Dad would say, “Never let anybody “should” on you.  Now, who is should-ing on Lindsey?  Is Lindsey should-ing on Lindsey?”  And I would smile and nod and contemplate how NOT to approach myself that way.)  I think letting go of this strange, old view is revolutionizing my existence because I am easier on everyone and everything as I’m easier on myself.

I didn’t write it in my notebook because I was driving, but here’s what sang in my head as I moved toward Vancouver:

No direction but one, is where I’m going…

to say what I have come so far to say.

And I won’t be early or late.  And it will have been worth the wait.

No direction but one… following the setting sun.

Thanks for caring enough to follow and be a part of the journey.  Can’t wait to share the next step with you.

Linz

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Renegade Release Tour: 2 days in Vancouver, 3 in AB

•June 15, 2015 • 1 Comment

Hello friends,

I’m in the land of semi-reliable wifi and recharging with family in Alberta before heading to perform in Calgary this eve.  (Wine-Ohs at 8pm!)  What a lovely week and weekend it has been; I am full of gratitude and enjoying all of the good things coming my way.

We left off in Banff.  It was great to be there, but I couldn’t wait to get to Vancouver where there were so many more things waiting for me.

Such as… THE OCEAN!

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I did Tai Chi in a lovely little shaded area of Stanley Park before putting my feet in the ocean and basking in it’s loveliness.
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Here, I wrote a sequel to my previous writings from this spot, 7 years ago:

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Third Beach II

June 10/15

The waves may change, but the rest stays the same.  Time cannot steal sand and stone.

And although the trees may have different leaves, not one of them is growing alone.

Warm sun on my skin, cold ocean on my clothes,

for the moment this place is my own… and it’s freedom like nothing I’ve known…

so healing for heart, blood and bone.

– – –

Before this, there was the Railway Club performance, where Angela Inglis delighted us with her gorgeous, heartfelt music before Mitch & I played some new Renegade songs for some absolutely fantastic people.  (Find her music HERE: https://angelainglis.bandcamp.com You will love it.)  Friends of Mitch’s bought us an amazing dinner before the show and we had a couple of great breakfasts there as well.

I have found so many people responding with kindness in my general direction over the last couple of weeks, but Vancouver-ites (if that is the correct term) were particularly good to me.

 

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Before THAT, there was the drive to Vancouver from Banff, which included a stop by a lagoon in Salmon Arm and other absolutely delicious scenery.

 

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Now that we’re caught up, I’ll tell you that driving away from Vancouver was equally as beautiful as driving there.  These mountains that exist in Canada are truly amazing things and I enjoyed their beauty all day.  (Twice!)  I savoured being surrounded by waterfalls, streams, lakes and rivers between huge towering rockies that seem immeasurably great.  There’s nothing like being there in person, really.

Since then, I’ve been enjoying some fresh Alberta air and time with sisters and nieces; listening to birds while catching up on work.

So looking forward to sharing music in Calgary this eve, which begins the long slow migration back to Winnipeg.  I’ll be meeting a new drummer friend on Wednesday who will join me for the show at The Artful Dodger in Regina, which is the LAST STOP on this leg of the Renegade release tour!

It has been an awesome time on the road, but I do miss my man and my garden.  And all the thinking time (read: driving time) has been so productive, but it’s time to put some new plans in action… possibly including spending some time at the beach this summer!  It’s only just begun and I want to enjoy it as fully as possible.  Hope you do too.

’til soon – thanks for listening, reading and helping to spread the word about this lovely album, book, release tour and artful life that I’m living.  Today is yours & mine, dear Renegades.

More to come…

Linz

Renegade Release Tour: adventures in week 1-ish

•June 8, 2015 • 2 Comments

My friends and Renegades,

It has been a strange and beautiful whirlwind since the Renegade Release Concert (on May 28); followed by three days at home and then being on tour in western Canada since last Tuesday!

Let me bring you up to speed.

Here’s about a hundred or so photos you can flick through from the launch event at the West End Cultural Centre (all of which are by Dwayne Larson).

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When I figure out the “gallery” settings on my new website, these will show up there too.

It felt like a wonderful, magical dream to perform with such awesome musicians and for such a great crowd at the fabulous West End Cultural Centre.  From the grand piano to the megaphone and back, things just felt so… ME!  I am beyond grateful and one very lucky Renegade.

The following weekend was full of good things and seemed to fly by in an instant… before I hit the road for this release tour, which has just been getting better and better every day!

I love so many things about being on the road: all the thinking time I get while driving, feeling the freedom of the open road, seeing the beauty of new surroundings, unpacking, repacking and the ever-changing “Jenga” game that is loading and unloading in every new City.  My Mazda & I are enjoying every one of the 2318 kms that google tells me we have travelled. And we’ve been learning and experiencing the fullness of our resilience along the way.

Before I left Winnipeg, I had the good fortune of discovering that my car needed a new ball joint and control arm and a shop I trust was able to squeeze me in to help “Blue” and I get road ready.

Then, on the way to the first gig in Saskatoon, I drove through the most incredible bug storm, which I initially took as a good sign (a nod to the album song, “Bugs”) but it made things pretty intense driving westward into the setting sun.  (And my front bumper still has yet to fully recover.)  When I got to The Capitol, I found it was full of musicians and singers who were all incredibly friendly and welcoming!  I played a later set and connected with many of these fabulous music makers, one of which played drums along with my last song and another who traded CDs with me. (Thanks “Jen & John”)

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BUGS!

Bug windshield

Next, I drove to Moose Jaw where I met some of the coolest drama students at RuBarb Productions.  (We’ll be making new music together – writing some songs on my way back home next week.)  Then I headed to Chiller’s, where more cool people crossed my path, including a local artist who also ended up being my sound guy… and trading me for another CD of cool new music!  (Thanks Brodie / Pandacorn)

When I started heading westward again, a strange “banging” sound caused by the strong SK wind caused me to pull over in Swift Current to get good ol’ Blue looked at again.  After a slight delay, I was freshly zip tied with no more noises and headed for Medicine Hat, where I had the great fortune of staying with Piet and Ina – possibly the most lovely hosts in all of Western Canada.  They welcomed me to what I referred to as “a musician’s paradise”.  Aside from just being a beautiful place to be in general, their home is a gift, a house concert venue and an inviting stop for travellers of all kinds; but mostly musicians.  What I enjoyed most about connecting with these two is hard to pin down but I think it is the fact that I couldn’t out-give them!  Every effort I made in the direction of appreciation for the many kindnesses they lavished upon me was returned with more generosity.  I told Ina I thought my heart would burst (at the kindness of folks who were strangers the day before); and when I exclaimed that I wished I had more to give back, they exclaimed (in unison) “you gave us music!”

Performing at Inspire Cafe was also a wonderful experience that resulted in a delicious home cooked meal, more connections with cool new people and also with an old friend I haven’t seen in years.  While catching up, we had some great conversation surrounding life, love, music and spirituality.  I felt this really helped me articulate some thoughts on the process I’ve often referred to as “losing my religion” and his pastoral perspective was surprisingly in synch with many of my current views, which reminded me of many of the important things that have not changed on my end.  (Like love, truth, acceptance and the power of our human creativity.)

I could have conversed with Piet, Ina and my friend for days and days.  When I left for Calgary and then Airdrie, Piet spontaneously picked a small flower from a bush near their house and tucked it under my windshield wiper, where it still lives.

Before leaving Medicine Hat

Before leaving Medicine Hat

2 days later in Lethbridge

2 days later in Lethbridge

I stayed with friends in Airdrie who had dinner with me and offered every conceivable luxury in their home, including a big breakfast the next morning with their awesome family.  It was a joy to be with them and many more great conversations were had.

On the way to Lethbridge, it seemed as though my car was consuming more oil than usual and I topped it up.  I played a couple of fun sets for some super cool people at Owl Acoustic Lounge, who also made me the most amazing salmon linguine to enjoy afterward.

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The stage at Owl

Here I wrote “War of Heat”:

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The sun was hungry.

Before it went down for the night, it devoured everything in sight… and then some.

It left nothing for the moon, or all of the wild things that so enjoy it’s company.  And even when darkness settled in and the coolest breeze seemed inevitable, there was no sign of deprive from such powerful heat.

So we did what any insane person would do: we lit a fire so great, so hot and so consuming that no one noticed.

The road to Banff is where things got really interesting.  Now super aware of Blue’s oil consumption, I topped up in Nanton and… well… I may have overfilled because when I hit the highway, thick smoke began coming out of the back of the car!  Experimentation led me to believe that I was not stranded, could still drive slowly and so I made my way back to the gas station where I had just bought the oil.  I was referred to a local maintenance shop, who were closed on Sundays and then found my way back to another gas station on the highway.  I realized the smoke seemed to be dissipating and the engine seemed to idle better and better the more I moved.  A couple of really nice Spanish guys came to check on me and after chatting with them and some other nice folks, I remembered that I had come across a similar situation with the motorcycle when the spark plugs had become wet and I wasn’t running on all cylinders.  The solution was to rev the engine until the excess burned off and everything opened up again.

Long story short: I got lucky.  :)

What could I do but head north, toward Calgary, in hopes that I’d either find help if needed or maybe, just maybe, even make it safely to the gig in Banff.  With hazard lights flashing, at about 60km/hour (which is insanely slow for the #2 hwy), I took it easy at first.  But once the smoke dissipated even more, I continued to inch my speed upward until I found I was going the limit of 110.  By the time I got to Calgary, I was able to fully accelerate while merging into traffic and things seemed to be… “normal”.  (And have been since – knock on wood.)  So I made it to Banff – a triumph in itself that was rewarded with MOUNTAINS!

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I’ve felt connected to and enthralled by these mountains since I first met them as a teenager.  So many aspects of this journey have been a real blast from the past and the new experiences have been great too, but being here in Banff has brought me so much joy that I’ve nearly forgotten all about the persistence it took to get here.

I love being on the road and I feel like I’m built for it.  But this has been an awesome opportunity to have a little recovery time and enjoy such a beautiful part of Canada before today’s long drive to Vancouver.  It didn’t hurt that The Elk and Oarsman filled my grateful belly with a steak dinner, scallops, calamari and sangria at the gig last night.  All of which helped me sleep through drunk outdoor partying last night and garbage trucks this morning just outside the apartment window where I’m sitting now, with coffee and long, mental lists of appreciation for a tour that is not yet done!

I’ll be in Vancouver by this evening and tomorrow, I’ll be picking up Mitch at the airport so we can rock The Railway Club with Angela Inglis!  It’s going to be an awesome show and I couldn’t be more excited.  There are still two more great shows after that and the aforementioned songwriting workshops.  I’m so happy to be making such great memories and learning more about myself (and my car) in the process.

If you’ve read this far – thanks for listening, reading, caring about and following as I move toward all of the wonderful things Renegade has to offer as I share it with the world.

Speaking of which… if you’d like to do the same, you can tell people where to find me (www.lindseywhite.com) or share the link below where folks can listen & purchase the album!

RENEGADE ON CD BABYhttp://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lindseywhite4

 

Renegade Release Tour

 

Looking forward to sharing more stories with you soon as things unfold. ’til then – today is yours & mine, my dear Renegades.  Hoping you can and will enjoy every moment.

Rocking forward furiously,

xx Linz

The Full Mostory

•May 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

momondays

I had the great pleasure of hanging out with some of the nicest people at momondays Winnipeg last night!  I played a few songs and shared an “abridged” version of my story but thought it might be worthwhile to post the full version here.

There’s a line in that song about not being able to breathe, “even with all these small holes you’ve cut out for me.” That line refers to a time when I was young and my older sister dared me to fit myself in a very small box & trapped me inside of it with large amounts of tape. I told her she had to let me out because I couldn’t breathe, she responded with “get out of the way” and began stabbing through the box with a pen, inches from my face. (True story!) Anyway, The “Let Me Be” Song is about feeling… trapped. And it was written during a period of not feeling ready, willing or able to be myself. A period that eventually came to an end.

When I wrote and recorded a song called “Renegade”. I had a feeling I had found a sort of personal anthem but had no idea what it would mean to me for the next ten years. After I released another album in 2007, I began writing about the strange and beautiful journey of reconnecting with my father during a challenging time that involved a cancer diagnosis, his progressive illness, and death. Ours was a relationship I both desired and feared. Loving someone will do that to you: make you simultaneously hellbent on pursuing and terrified of losing that very thing you hope for. And for most of my life, I hoped more than had a real relationship with him.

For the next few years I had the most beautiful and horrifying experience of growing closer and closer to him while he suffered more and more intensely… until it was all over. During that time, I experienced the fullest spectrum of darkness and light. Of love and suffering, beauty and pain. I observed not only strength of will in action but an unmistakable love which was carefully cultivated during the short time he had left. (Which by the way, ended up being much longer than expected.) But the uncertainty created the need for extreme honesty… and so we learned to be real with each other by having a real relationship.

When faced with the end, Dad refused to regret and he chose love over fear, over and over again saying: “when it’s my time to die, nothing and no one is going to stop that from happening. Until then, I’m busy… and I’ve got work to do.” And he got busy focusing on the things he was able to control, like running the business he owned and loved (just across the parking lot at the Tuxedo Park UPS Store) and building positive memories with the people he loved. But this story is not just about him.

While all of this was happening, other challenges presented themselves. And I chose to focus on being outwardly present with these experiences as they unfolded and turning inward to reflect on what they meant to me. These reflections ended up as poetry, prose, song lyrics and other writings in my notebook.

For example, here’s what I wrote one MRI filled day:

Taking Back Time                         March 3, 2009

Today passes like a ticking bomb, one that will certainly explode.

Yet I find myself strangely calm while trying to crack a foreign code.

Disarm attempts were a mistake; tension mounting as I tried

and wasted time, now mine to take as I interpret the danger inside.

It spins a web inside my mind, a trap that I can clearly see

and focus on until I find a new fate among the debris.

My time, no longer a real threat crawls forward, not revealing how

in time I surely will forget the volatility here and now.

I want to tell you about the process of finding my voice as I learned to use it. Basically, I discovered how to put into words and song all that I was experiencing by doing it. And I’ve been left with the strong belief that self expression is not only therapeutic, but that honesty and authenticity under pressure can result in incredible, healing growth. And often, incredible art!

Over six years, I wrote a new album and blogged my other writings openly. Recording this music and performing it live with some wonderful local musicians has helped me to become the artist that I always wanted to be.

I couldn’t do it alone. Dad couldn’t do it alone either. And he learned to ask for help by asking. Reluctantly, at first… (he had a hard time being driven around when he lost his license after a tumour in his brain caused a seizure)… but it seemed to come easier with time. Asking makes you vulnerable. It is an admission of what we already know, which is that we can’t make it through this life alone. But asking also requires trust and trust only happens when we open ourselves to it. Which, when this process began is something I had great difficulty with. Much as I learned to write by writing and to ask by asking, I would also say that I learned to trust by trusting. And in learning to trust others, I instinctively learned how to better trust myself.

It became increasingly clear that this project had a name, and it is “Renegade” – the resurrected, anthemic song that I had the honour of dedicating to my Dad the last time he saw me play at the 2009 Jazz Winnipeg Festival. After that he had 48 hours of chemotherapy, two days at the hospital with people he loved, and then he was gone. And when I stopped fighting, all of the grief and stress and fear that accumulated over the years surfaced… and eventually dissipated, leaving me feeling more like myself than ever before. But it’s almost as if I had to get to know that person all over again.

The grieving process inspired songs like “Monster” – about dealing with dark emotions and prose… like “Deflated” which includes the line:

“…It is as though the air was stolen from my lungs three months ago, and I’ve been waiting impatiently for them to be re-inflated ever since.”

Major change can be hard to define, but a clear transformation can be seen in the words that streamed forth as I allowed my life to fall apart and be rebuilt again from the ground up. Through writing about grief and gratitude, I found as much as was lost; and much more has been learned.

And somewhere between chemotherapy, the man I knew as my Father turning into ashes, and now, I learned what I am made of. I learned that creativity is always an option. And that despite my lack of control over the world around me, regardless of my inability to choose which circumstances I would rather experience or my preference to remove suffering or trauma from them… I have the power to choose what to make with what I have, at all times. And that great revelation (which has presented itself over and over again) is what offered me the gift of honest expression.

I discovered parts of myself that were unfamiliar: old emotional injuries that had not been allowed to heal, strange fears that were faced and new empathic skills that had not yet been effectively put to use. I fell in love, lost my religion and was involved in a number of car accidents, one of which left me unable to walk for a time. (That was pretty scary.) I went through countless mental and physical therapies (including one intense rehab program that left me with a new posture and a new pace), before being proclaimed “healthy” by myself and others. But more importantly, my previous self-image as someone who could not cope with such things was replaced by a different view as I was introduced to someone who is stronger and more courageous but also more gentle, open and allowing.

I began spending a lot of my time working musically with youth: writing, recording and performing music together, often resulting in some pretty cool jam sessions. (I have studied an extensive repertoire of the next generation’s favourite youtube videos and let me tell you… there is more to them than just Katy Perry and Kanye.)

By following their inspirations, I uncover so much tremendous potential that I find I learn as much as they do in this process. But the most interesting and rewarding experiences that I see surround positive pressure. That’s my favourite term relating to the exercise of showing up as we are and letting ourselves be seen. Which is usually made more difficult when “what other people think” comes into the picture. And with reality shows and social media dominating what today’s youth consider “success” in the arts, the opinions and votes, likes and comments of others have never seemed more important or more difficult to ignore. The good news is that: the greater the pressure, the more “Renegade-like” the result.

Whether through live performance, songwriting or recording sessions, or other challenging situations, when I witness reluctance followed by participation… fear followed by effort and better still, when that effort is followed by allowing creative expression to happen… I see growth. And I love seeing growth.

A transformation happens when “I can’t” turns into “imagine if”. Fear that we are going to be discovered for who we really are is replaced by joyful expression of who we really are! And “I made a mistake, I messed up – maybe I am messed up” turns into “hmm I think I can do that better” or “let’s try that again”… and all performance becomes more like practicing (NOT until perfect, but until mistakes are fewer and less important.)

It’s a privilege to witness the power of our creativity and it is worth every bit of pressure. Because even if these young people are not the next Katy Perry or Kanye, even if they decide to pursue something completely unmusical, the growth is lasting. The confidence is transferrable! And that’s what I’d love for the music makers I work with to know about all pressure: that one hard thing prepares us for the next. And as we continue to view difficult things as challenges and rise to them, we are able to use our energy to decide what we are creating more than we allow ourselves to be manipulated by circumstance. And our creations have the power to connect us in mysterious and miraculous ways. As we let go of our fears in these situations and embrace the power of our creative choice… not only are we enlarged on the inside, but life becomes so much more fun. And the more difficult the challenge, the more empowered we are in the process.

I love watching music heal scars that would not otherwise have been exposed. I love defining my job as making art and helping others do the same! And along with continuing to strengthen musical connections in my community, I’m also going to take my art on the road and let myself be seen in other regions as well. Because I’m finally ready for the world to meet the Renegade that I have become.

No one tells you up front what “grieving all that is lost until it’s ok” entails. (Mostly because it’s different for everyone.) And no one could have prepared me for my own difficult journey toward learning to love life, become healthy and accept and invite joy. But this option is available to us all: to seize the formative moments of our lives and allow ourselves to deeply experience them, without becoming defined by them. To ask and receive what we need to keep creating. And to decidedly turn away from the opinions and dictations of others in favour of a healthier, more authentic journey that empowers a steady flow of love and creativity. This is what it means to be a Renegade. It is the careful assessment of the tools within our own hands; deciding to make something of our choosing with them in a world that would rather we make something else. This is who we are and what we do. This is where our strength comes from. And this is “how our hands were really made.” This song is for you.

 

To Break

•May 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

To Break

4/29/15 – 5/14/15

If gestation is any indication, what’s coming is big.

But it takes as long as it takes.

The process seems long and I’m both ready and not,

but more ready than ever to break.

– –

When germination happened, I wasn’t prepared

for what was to become of me.

But since then I’ve grown and soon I will bloom,

for more than myself to see…

– –

Expanding in one direction – outward.

Endeavouring not to endeavour as much as create.

Enjoying the unexpected as much as I can.

Office Garden

Photo by Robert Barrow

Photo by Robert Barrow

 
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