Last year, I retired from my full-time (what some people call “real”) job, to revive my music career. This is not the first time my creative spirit won over. In fact, my creative spirit draws me back every time I try to leave it.
Folks often tell us we cannot sustain a livable income with creative activities and that they are just hobbies. They should be put aside, so we might support ourselves and families monetarily. It is also a competitive world in the arts. With dreams of fame and fortune, some artists are not even recognized as “great” until after they pass away! Why do we do it? Is it wealth, personal satisfaction, dream, or reality? Personally, I can say that I never really followed the leader or listened to what people told me to do. (My parents could attest to that!) I did what I wanted to do, and somehow things worked out. I don’t think I aspired to be rich or famous, but I did believe I could sustain myself with my creative spirit. At times I allowed myself to be swayed, distracted, or re-directed by unusual circumstances. Life happens and I take full responsibility for holding myself back. I do need to assure myself financial stability as I near retirement. Still, I keep thinking “I can do this”. So, after convincing my husband “this” would be okay, I went ahead and started over. Maturity on my side, I was able to plan and test before leaping. Even while “testing”, I was always fully in business in my mind.
People tell me they are inspired that I took the leap and went back to music. I feel like a kid again in many respects. There is excitement, novelty, and freshness. I lost weight, donned sassier clothes, had new photos taken, and really started feeling the part. Things have changed a lot since I was in my 20s. The act of performing music is still very joyful, though I perform in different venues than I used to. There is so much to keep up with in the way we do things now. How can I stay inspired and joyful while conducting the business that keeps me sustainable?
As I wake each morning and review my long, unorganized list of “to dos”, appointments, and activities, I find myself overwhelmed. Sometimes I wonder “Why do I do this to myself?” I question my own motives. Did I want to retire to rest and relax, or did I really want to go back into music full time? Sometimes I give myself a break and get busy around the house, go to the gym, or just hang out in front of the TV, but then I easily make myself feel guilty when I neglect this nagging feeling. There is so much to do!
To be sustainable and competitive, I must do non-performance related tasks. Marketing and other tools of the trade have changed considerably since I first delved into music. With today’s electronics, internet tools, building and maintaining websites, social networking, blogging, posting, commenting, tweeting, designing ads and flyers, telephoning, e-mailing, texting, these are a full-time job in and of themselves. You still have customer service, public relations, customization, scheduling, bookkeeping, billing, collecting payments, documenting, taxes, etc. To get learning and practicing in, you have to block out sections of your calendar! Suddenly, the love of your life (your artistic trade) gets lost in the organization and management of it.
There is overwhelm. Then, suddenly, the magic happens. The “feel-good” moments say it all. When I have the opportunity to go out and sing for folks, the pure joy comes out. All of the obligations melt away and the emotion of singing takes over. It happens every time. I love the way my voice sounds to me as I convey stories and emotions through song. I watch as my audience mouths the words to songs they used to know when their own music was alive. There are rhythmic feet tappers and slappy hand clappers, dreamy eyes and lightbulb memory moments. They are listening and I am touching them. As long as I sing with my heart, that spirit stays alive. It wakes me in between those sleeping moments of obligation. I thrive on it. Anything else becomes meaningless. The singing and the music keeps me peaceful, happy, and staying inspired.
I have shared a piece of my story. I would love to hear yours! Please comment or connect with me about what makes you stay inspired. Maybe we can inspire some others while we are at it.
Here’s to Staying Inspired….