She's a Rock-n-Roll Thing
I have a birthday wish that I’d like to share. I am taking the risk of not keeping it secret, because this is a wish that needs to be voiced in order to come true.
It is vulnerable to promote myself or ask for help. This is because I received the message at an early age that females are not to be proud, show off, or even love ourselves. We are to be humble, and hide our shininess because we our power or vulnerability might offend someone, make them jealous or uncomfortable. I have lived a double life for as long as I remember: walking the thin and anxious line between the silent, good girl who people-pleases and stays safe and the outspoken, spiritually-open, emotional, powerful part that has a LOT to fucking say.
After hearing a little bit of the hateful response to Ms. Hillary, and other women of power, I can see why this message exists. It is indeed a dangerous thing to be a girl or woman of power, a woman in the public, a woman with something to say. It makes sense because women who stand in power are targets. It is scary to be a target, especially in the age of the internet. However, it is even more dangerous to be a woman who keeps silent, and does not speak her truth.
I know so many women who struggle with this daily, as well as men, teens and children too. It is a terrifying thing to not conform, to express the dissenting view, to be original, to stand out, to follow your own path, to embrace the shadow, to feel and express our darker emotions, to embrace all of our selves.
I see a lot of quotes floating around the internet about how important it is to be your self, but with little advice or help in how to actually do this. I see becoming one's true self as the ultimate work of art, and the highest goal of life. Only from becoming whole, can we reach our fullest potential and highest purpose. Only from becoming whole within can we transform our culture and world. This is the work that I am called to do—teaching, supporting and encouraging people to live out all of their selves. And after a life time of studying, teaching and practicing the many art forms I am called to, I have come to believe the arts are the perfect container to speak the shadow of your truth. To express the vulnerability and shame that holds us back, to speak our soul’s longing, to communicate the unique way we don’t fit into the box society conveniently made for us, to own both our power and love, our masculinity and femininity. The arts allow us to express all of our selves because the arts are a container that allow that raw material to be symbolic. This is my professional work as well as my own personal journey of self-actualization, selves actualization. My very vulnerable work lately has been integrating these two sides of me: healer/teacher/coach with artist/performer/writer. In fact, I will be speaking on this topic and singing my songs at the concert following along with a group of other outspoken and heart-centered women, in exactly one month, Dec. 3rd, at the first Women Awakening, an international women’s summit in Todos Santos, the town in Southern Baja where I work.
I want to share with you my shadow side today, the part of me that I have worked hard to hide, especially from myself, for most of my life. This shadow side is powerful, masculine, and fucking loves to curse. This shadow side is critical of culture, has some strong opinions, and is non-conformist. This shadow side is angry, loves to take up space and has a powerful voice. This shadow side is also witchy, emotional and mystical and holds a deep spiritual faith. This part of me is a rock-n-roll thing.
I have had some bold moments through out my life where I expressed this shadow side, in the safer, smaller contexts of the fancy private schools I was lucky to attend, and with my first all woman rock band, social service, in NYC. But then, eight years ago, after receiving my master's in psychology and expressive arts therapy, I got pregnant, and moved to a piece of land in the desert off the grid with my husband, started a family, let go of all of my previous selves, and completely started over from scratch. I dropped out of the society I had always known, transforming from city girl to pioneer woman. This new way of living put me in everyday contact with culture’s shadow: nature. Bugs, scorpions, snakes, hurricanes, off the grid toilet adventures, camping, even motherhood. All of it has kicked my ass, grew me up and made me deeply grateful for the loads of privilege I was born with and continue to experience. This gratitude has fueled a volunteer community work, and has given me a simple and profound enjoyment of everyday family life. This appreciation for life has also led me to create classes, workshops and relationships that are deeply meaningful and fulfilling, and has kept me writing and reading fervently, looking deep within, and continuing to practice my music in my living room.
But... there is still one thing that nags at my heart. There is still one part of my self that I continue to hide more than I would like to, because I am afraid. As much as I long to reach a wider audience, I am still deeply afraid to be heard and seen, of what could happen in my life if I truly put myself out there and pursued the huge dreams that I have kept mostly to myself. I am afraid of alienating others, of people’s judgment, criticism, ridicule, jealousy. I am afraid of how raw it feels to share all of my selves, to use my voice. Of the vulnerability of not fitting into a pre-existing category of identity, especially gender identity. But, there is something I am even more afraid of: NOT doing it. Staying silent. I know too well what that feels like. I am afraid of dying with out having lived out all of my selves, with out connecting with the people in the world I would like to reach. With out people hearing my songs, and reading the books I am writing, with out watching the sit com I have been developing for over eight years. As afraid as I am of being seen and heard, I am even more afraid of staying silent. As Anaïs Nin famously said, “and the day came when remaining in the tight bud was more painful than it the risk it took to blossom.” That day has come.
And so here’s the part where you come in--the wish part, the part where I am asking for your help.
I want to share with you my latest song, Rock-n-Roll Thing, which is my first release in 13 years, since my first band, Social Service. I have at least 20 more songs to record and release. I hope this song will inspire others to ignore the voices inside that tell them what they can’t do, what they shouldn’t do, and instead listen to that other voice, that quieter voice, that speaks for your soul, and that dreams big. I want to tell you that that dream is your truth. I know this because as a child I wanted desperately to be a singer, but I was told not to sing, that I was no good. I wanted to be an actress, but I was told my voice was too quiet and I couldn’t get into the school play. I continued to stay silent while I expressed myself in other forms. I continued to pursue these dreams, despite all the rejection and heartbreak. Over the years, as much as I tried, I just couldn't turn away from that shadow self that part that had something to say, the part that dreamed big.
Some of you may know that I am a huge Lena Dunham fan, who is a controversial creative person and an outspoken feminist--a beloved voice in our culture, as well as a target. I have read Ms. Lena's book twice, Not That Kind of Girl, and lend it out to anyone who wants to read it. I have watched every episode of Girls at least 3 times. Even though Ms. Lena is many years younger than I am, we attended the same high school and college, and she has been able to be massively successful in multiple creative careers, the very same careers I pursued at her age. When I was in my twenties, I was only just beginning to learn how to use my voice. I admire Ms. Lena for her commitment to being herself, the quality and honesty of her work, for being willing to be transparent, vulnerable and stand up for and support other women and for what she believes. I admire her for sharing her shadow side, her mistakes and regrets. She is not perfect and neither am I. No one is perfect. It’s time for women and girls, and all humans, to own our imperfections and be willing to be seen and heard. It's time for us to make it safe for ourselves to share our shadow selves, and all of our selves.
I shared this one minute promotional video on instagram a few weeks ago, which I have been using as a microblogging platform, a relatively safe way of practicing being all my selves. Every day for the past few months, since I received my first smarty phone as a very generous gift, I have challenged myself not to hold back from sharing my passions, creativity, life and work online. But I have now decided, on my 43rd birthday, to share my song with a larger group in hopes that it makes its way to Ms. Lena Dunham and that she might consider the song for Girls. She has recently finished shooting the final season, and I imagine the show is still in post-production. There may be time for this song to still be considered. It’s a long shot, but it’s worth a try. I figure with my Saint Ann’s and Oberlin networks, someone knows someone who knows Ms. Lena Dunham. All I ask for is a listen.
If you have five minutes, please listen to my song, Rock-n-Roll Thing, and if you like it, please share with others who you think will like it. Please show your support by buying it and downloading it, and sharing with your networks. Please share this blog post. Anything you can do to spread this message and this song.
Soon I will be shooting the music video, which will feature four of my selves-the singer, the drummer, the keyboardist and the guitar player. In the video I will be playing with gender roles and instruments and parts of self. In this version of Rock-n-Roll Thing I am playing all the instruments, and did all the recording and producing myself on Garageband. I turned myself into a one woman band just to prove to myself that I could. I have come far from that little girl who got rejected from the school play in 6th grade on account of my voice being too quiet.
Together, we can make this birthday wish come true!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.
Love and creativity,