On rejecting stage fright

I thought about it briefly as I was getting ready to meet my friend Jen for the evening. I thought about it long enough to pick out a poem to read, if I did in fact pull my finger out of my ass and read that night. Mind you, it took me less than 30 seconds to figure out which poem I would read. You know, if I did read that night.

I had a particularly difficult day. Most days had been difficult leading up to that day. Most days are difficult, but you find the light1, focus just below it and you move forward. We arrived pretty early; much earlier than we needed to. Thank goodness, because we were both starving. We walked next door to a cute little restaurant called The Combine Eatery – which seems like such an awkward name, but the food and the service made up for it.

I think it really helped that I was with Jen; she’s always been someone who always accepted me for who I am, and has always been such a good friend. We arrived late, but were able to sneak a couple of seats in the back of the room while the first poet was reading from her book of poems. All the poets were lovely in their own way. Jen and I had our favourites.

It wasn’t until the second break that I told Jen I was thinking of going up. I didn’t have a reaction when I told her. That was progress. I also didn’t have a reaction when I went up to the front to sign-up. More progress. There were three people in total to sign up for the open mic component that night. I was to go last.

The first was a man who had memorized his own poem, and performed it with such conviction it could only be described as art. The second was an older lady who was part of a trio of older women who wrote poems together; she was endearing, and her poem heart-warming. Every time one of them stepped up to the microphone, my heart raced and my upper body would get really hot. I used my meditation breathing to bring my heart-rate down. It worked, temporarily, every time. More progress.

What impressed me the most was that when it was my turn to step up to the microphone, I was able to ignore the fact that my chest was burning, my heart was racing, and that my fingers were shaking so much for long enough to provide whoever was listening with a very small introduction about myself, and – better yet – to read the whole poem. It helped that the audience was kind, and that I announced that I have stage fright. It also helped that I picked a very short poem.

I’m proud of myself for being able to do that. I’m not sure how often I’ll do it, but I like the idea that maybe with enough practice I’ll actually be able to sing in public without doubting myself too.

Footnotes:
  1. you don’t want to go blind after all[]

It’s All Happening: Canadian Music Week 2016

When I first signed up to volunteer for Canadian Music Week, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I had gone through the biggest – at the time – breakup of my life. I can’t possibly be ashamed to say that most of the best things in my life have come about because I was trying to continue finding the light while my heart was broken. I can’t be ashamed because I’ve had years of evidence that this is just how I am; just how my life plays out. I need to own it1.

I remember filling out the form online, and not really expecting to hear back from them. While I had been on many committees and organized many events for school2, I had never been involved with something on this scale. To my delight they wrote back and offered me a Stage Manager position. In my first year, A Stage Manager. ME!

At least those were the thoughts going through my head at the time. Looking back, it of course makes sense. I have a knack for logistics, and I had plenty of experience organizing events. I’m so grateful that he saw that in me.

Year after year, I would look forward to this time of year – up until a few years ago this would have been in March – because when I was doing work for Canadian Music Week3 was the best time of my life. I remember a boyfriend-at-the-time asking me why I loved doing it, and what I get out of it. He tried to figure out if I was doing it for the contacts, or if I was doing it to get a job, to get into free gigs, or to find hot musicians to date4.

And truth be told, sure, I would like all of those things but the fact is that whenever I am doing something for Canadian Music Week – or any event I love – nothing else matters. I have stage fright, but I have to present to a room full of people? No problem5. My heart hurts for reasons I’m not willing to divulge at this time? Definitely no problem!

I don’t actually get to see that many gigs since I started as a Crew Chief though6 but I’m hoping this year will be different. I plan to make the most of this year, both by attending the conference and checking out some shows that I know will kick-ass7.

I love the people I get to work with, and I can’t wait to rock out8 this week.

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Footnotes:
  1. Maybe that’s why none of my relationships ever work out… but I’m going to save that topic for another blog post[]
  2. both high school and university[]
  3. whether I was getting paid or not[]
  4. I know better now of course: Musicians and I, just don’t mix[]
  5. except for when there is a problem, but you can’t win them all[]
  6. We manage the Stage Managers, it’s a whole lotta managing[]
  7. because let’s face it, the line-up is always stellar[]
  8. in every sense of the word[]