Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Practice Less ~ Perform More

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.
~ Salvador Dali

They say that nobody is perfect.
Then they tell you that practice makes perfect.
I wish they'd make up their minds.
~ Winston Churchill

I walked into the auditorium for a sound-check to the soul-ful melody of Hallelujah, paused by the emotion hinting at wisdom and experience beyond the years of this young musician. “I have to share a stage with her tonight?” I thought nervously.

Truth was, I had not practised my own songs nearly as much as I normally like to before performing. One had only been selected and learned two days before this anniversary celebration of a community I had grown up in. And it had been months since I'd stepped on stage, guitar in hand, to perform; much longer since I'd played piano in front of an audience. As I walked on stage later that day, the last thought that ran through my head was “Well, it is what it is. They won't be perfect, but here I go anyway!” My fingers stumbled over some of the guitar chords, my voice wavered on a few notes, and I got lost once or twice at the piano keys. But I'm pretty sure no one noticed except me.

Evidenced by my sister-in-law's comments afterwards: I think that's one of the best performances of yours that I've seen. You seemed relaxed, and like you were really enjoying yourself up there!

While I'm not sure I could agree on the first part, I did realize with her comment that it probably was one of my most enjoyable performances. With my final thoughts stepping on stage I had taken away the internal pressure to be perfect and let the music and performance be what it was going to be. I let myself get lost in the experience. Something that my previous performance anxieties and slightly perfectionist tendencies have not always allowed me to do.

This 2-month old experience came flooding back to me just the other week during a conversation with a friend about wanting a particular situation to be perfect. Perfect is over-rated, I said. There is often so much more fun to be had in the messy, raw, possibly-mistake-ridden realness that comes out of being authentic, present, and true to self. Stripping away the pressure and expectation, allowing the experience to unfold as it will.

Wanting to live out those words, and knowing that singing is typically where I experience the most anxiety about performing perfectly, I took some risks at the karaoke bar shortly after. I sang songs that I usually shy away from while ignoring the voice in my head that cautioned my laryngitis-recovering vocal chords. The next week I jumped on stage at an open-mic night without having rehearsed recently at all. Neither experience went perfectly well... but no one seemed to care. And I had fun!

These experiences have left me with a desire to practice less and perform more – both literally with music, and metaphorically in other areas of my life. 

I want to find more enjoyment in getting lost in a moment that unfolds in all the messy, mistake-ridden, authentic ways that it will. Because perfect really is over-rated!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Something in me has changed

(** Summer is here! Which may mean sporadic posting on my blog... But if I miss a week here and there, rest assurred I am enjoying the sun & will be back soon with even more to say!**)


"Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear..."

I could feel the stares as I walked through the parking lot beside the sports bar. The guys enjoying a beer and a cigarette on the patio. Watching, passing comments to each other, and watching again. A situation I have never found truly comfortable, but it felt even less so this time. Particularly as it was mid-afternoon; the sun shining high in the sky. 

Something in me has changed.

I felt it a few weeks ago too. On 3 separate occasions over as many weeks, in a different bar. Drinks bought, dance moves shared, an attempt at a kiss... Not interested.

But more than just not interested. Because I used to find some of this interest-expressing ritual fun and flirty and esteem-boosting. Feeling I had all the power about how far the interaction might go. Enjoying the free drink and the insinuation of being attractive, sexy, interesting... if only as far as the drinks keep flowing and the music keeps playing and the bodies keep moving and the moon keeps shining.

You see, I truly have grown into my confidence. Meaning that I didn't always know I was a beautiful woman; I didn't always know I was amazing. And so years ago when I started to notice people noticing; when I started to notice guys noticing... I liked it! I played with it. It was fun and flirty and esteem-boosting.

But something in me has changed.

A friend's voice from months ago has been echoing in my head periodically ever since:
Are you afraid to not be seen that way?"

Back when I started to notice people -guys- noticing, I started to notice myself. My interest and confidence in my physical appearance began to grow. So what does it mean if people -guys- stop noticing?

It should mean nothing if my confidence is based on something solid, real and true. It should mean nothing if I recognize my beauty and amazing-ness as something deeper than my physical appearance. It should mean nothing...

My knee-jerk reaction to my friend's question was defensive. But my lingering gut feeling was probably more to the truth. Yes, perhaps I am. Perhaps my oft-questioning of Am I enough? stems from a confidence that has not been based on something completely solid, real and true. And should others -guys- stop noticing... it would mean something.

So something in me has changed.

I can tell because many of those interest-expressing rituals no longer feel fun and flirty and esteem-boosting. More often they have become annoying. Illiciting thoughts of “Do you not know there is more to me than what you see here?” Feeding a stronger desire to connect with people on an intellectual and emotional level, than on a physical level. Building relationships which in turn have strengthened a confidence that is based on something more solid, real and true – based on who I am as a complete person inside and out, and not on what I look like.

Am I afraid to not be seen that way?
Yes, truthfully in part I am. Our culture's focus on youth and beauty ensures this fear never fades completely.

But – I am even more afraid to not be seen in all the beautiful, amazing, multi-faceted and complex attributes that make up my entire person.

Because something in me has changed!