Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ladies Rock Milwaukee

This is a thing that I did in my real life:

I signed up for (the first ever!) Ladies Rock Milwaukee Camp back in October and I secretly stressed out about it almost every day leading up to the kickoff party. I kept telling people about the program not only because I thought it was such an awesome idea, but also because telling people would hold me accountable and keep me from getting too scared and bailing out.

I’m so glad I didn’t bail out.

I’m not trying to be grandiose but quite honestly this was one of the most terrifying and badass things I’ve ever done. (And I think I do a lot of ridiculous things?) Basically I’m I giant introvert who likes to combat my shyness but putting myself into increasingly challenging situations. It’s how I keep myself from curling up into a gigantic hermit crab shell and withdrawing from social interactions forever.

Maybe it sounds a bit strange that having grown up performing dance and musical theatre I would be this frightened by singing in public again. It’s not like I haven’t been in situations like this before. Having attended a performing arts middle and high school I had many parts in musicals and performed solos on stage when I was a kid. When I pursued my degree in dance I performed in front of audiences many many times and it was something that I absolutely adored.

This was sooooo different.

#1 Holy hell that was a long time ago

#2 We formed our band on Thursday evening and performed our original song on stage just two-and-a-half days later. Some of us had never played an instrument before. I have done absolutely NOTHING that comes close to this sort of thing, ever.

#3 For me, performing dance on stage is a different animal entirely. You get to become a character that is separate from yourself. But using your voice to sing... it feels like there is nowhere to hide.

#4 Did I mention how long it’s been since I’ve been on any stage?

Even more so than the performance aspect, I was kind of terrified of the “process.” How the eff do you write a song? Hell if I know. I used to noodle around on my guitar and write some (admittedly terrible) songs back in high school. I’ve always loved to sing but I’ve never had any idea how to make my own music and lyrics mesh. I really had no clue how I was going to walk into a room with three other women and come out with an actual piece of music that we all liked and agreed upon. Which makes what happened by the end of the weekend even more amazing:

On Sunday night we performed a real life, upbeat, belt-it-out pop song. 


I’m not even sure how our song happened. One minute I was sitting on the floor with Sara, Patty and Anneke, furiously scribbling down words and phrases in our brainstorm session. Then the next thing I know we’re in the practice room listening to the chords Sara learned (that morning!) and I’m trying to improvise a melody on top of it. Add in a funky bass line and some kicking drums and… hey we wrote a song! Our band coach Mary Joy jumped in with some super helpful feedback along the way and guided us whenever we got a little stuck on something. (The Ladies Rock volunteers were seriously full of amazing.)

So our group of sixteen women formed four different bands, and each band wrote a completely different kind of song. It was so cool to hear what everyone came up with! Even more awesome was watching the same women who nervously introduced themselves alongside me on Thursday night take the stage on Sunday with such confidence. Everyone took what we learned in our safe, secure little bubble of encouragement and rocked the part when the time came to play. I seriously did not think I would ever do something like this at 36 years old. I mean, my kid plays in a band now. It's kind of her deal now, not mine. I'm just super happy that for one weekend I got to fulfill this silly little dream of mine. GET OUT THERE AND DO THINGS.

I also want to write another song.

*More photos from the event here. I'll update with the video once it's available in a couple of weeks. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Farewell 2014

I usually write a year-end recap during the month of December. This year things got away from me (gigantic house remodeling project, traveling, etc) and now that 2015 has started happening I feel like I've sort of... missed the boat? Not that I'm ungrateful for all the amazing things I was able to do in the past year- I'm just in that post-holiday No Man's Land fog where everyone is still hanging out in their sweatpants all day and not on a regular schedule yet. My brain is basically mush right now. And possibly part-whiskey.

When Monday rolls around I'm sure things will start to feel back to normal again and life will resume as usual. I began my 18-week training program for Wisconsin Marathon this week so that's neat. (2015 run goals are here if you're interested.) I've also got a new opportunity coming up that I'm excited about and will elaborate more on later when it gets fleshed out a little more. But before I dive full force in to the new year, what were the highlights of 2014? When I step back and look at everything I realize that it all comes down to Travel, Running and Family.

1. Travel: We went big with two major trips this year: a family trip to Costa Rica at the beginning of the year and then a grown-up trip to Barcelona in July with good friends Billy and Heather. Both were amazing in completely different ways. Costa Rica came in the middle of a Polar Vortex-y winter that felt like it would never end. I felt like the cold was going to break me at that point and I'll never forget that first day digging my feet into the sand on the beach while feeling the sun beat down on my skin. Also, we went zip-lining.

Our trip to Barcelona was jam packed. We were on our feet constantly as we explored the city. I left my running shoes at home for this trip but I felt exhausted and exhilarated at the end of every day (which usually ended in the wee hours of the following morning.) Drinking my morning coffee on the balcony with a view Sagrada Familia remains a very surreal experience for me. The world is such a fascinating place and every time I travel I want to learn more and more.

2. Running. I didn't run a single ultramarathon this year as I was completely focused on running a Boston qualifying time in the marathon. I put a bold goal out into the world and I fell short- more than once. (It's cool, I'm ok with it.) I feel like I learned so much about training and racing this past year though- more than I have in the 7+ years I've been running. I felt just about every emotion there is to be felt along the way and I know that my story isn't even close to being done.

(A small adjustment.)

3. Family. I feel like 2014 was really 5 years long when I look at my girls. Not because it dragged on forever but because they pretty much grew up before my eyes in the past 12 months. Ava traveled to Denmark and started playing guitar in a rock band. Juliana made the big transition into high school and suddenly became a super confident, responsible, mini-adult. People always say childhood goes by fast but I feel like there are points where we make huge leaps forward all at once. 2014 was one of those years.

So that's the supershort super-condensed version. I do want to add this though: On New Year's Day I went for a 5-mile run around the neighborhood. When I get back I realized there was a snowy owl perched on the roof of our new balcony. I was pretty taken aback by it since I'd never seen anything like it before. (Also, it was staring me down pretty hard with it's intense yellow eyes.) I'm not a superstitious person at all but I like to think that this is a sign of good luck in the coming year.  If 2015 has milestones like the ones above then I can't wait.