What do you think creates a fulfilling life? Not a perfect life, not an ideal life… but what qualities do you think create true fulfillment?
I think about life a lot. More accurately, I essentially have a weekly existential crisis. (Dramatic? Who? What?)
I think about various events – what they might mean – or rather, how I can choose to derive meaning from them. I can’t say I’ve drawn any solid conclusions, but the longer I live, the more I create hypotheses and philosophies that help me to make sense of my own life and experiences.
My thoughts are that fulfillment is created not simply by joyful interactions – but a symphony of diverse and varied moments and experiences. That true fulfillment is found in the collection of the unique and vast emotions we experience.
Operating by this philosophy means that living a life without tragedy, hardship, or challenge – would be equally as sad as living a life without passion, kindness, or love.
So I find it incredibly fascinating that it’s in our human nature to avoid pain at all costs… and if we subscribe to the belief that experiencing pain is synonymous with fulfillment, isn’t it interesting that we are incidentally avoiding fulfillment. Sort of poetic. Like something Shakespeare would write about.
I often wonder about these duelling forces within us. That part of us that strives for ease, painlessness, stagnance, monotony, predictability, patterns, routine… and a deeper, more knowing part, that seems to understand that those uncomfortable shifts are exactly what prepare us to feel incredible moments of triumph, exultation, and love.
I think this deeper knowing is the reason we do dumb things like have children, or start a book club. Ultimately we’re looking for ways to challenge ourselves. To create ourselves a fulfilling and rewarding life experience (that, counter-intuitively, involves a lot of poop, or those tiny triangle sandwiches… preferably not at the same time though.)
I‘m daunted by the concept of raising a child in a world that has become such a padded room. Where children have no opportunity for small bursts of independence, and adventure. They can’t be trusted to explore, and navigate their own path.
I wonder often if our inclination to have our children avoid all pain and risk is less about their experience… and more about ours.
We give birth to this human that is this walking, breathing, extension of the deepest most vulnerable part of our heart. And it’s just out there… and anything that happens to that little being, however much it affects them, it affects us 100 fold.
So when we impulsively intervene; intercept them from experiencing any and all forms of pain and icky-ness – what’s really happening? Are we saving them? Or are we saving ourselves? Is there the potential that we’re inadvertently teaching them to avoid things that create a diverse and meaningful life-experience?
I’m humble enough to candidly admit that without my having experienced my own DNA freely walking around in the world, it’s not necessarily my place to say – but while my husband and I discuss embarking on the great journey of parenthood, my imagination inevitably expands on what that might look like for us.
In the mean time, I will keep aiming to question, explore, discover, and uncover what I can, and the ways that I might draw fulfilment and meaning from my own life experience. Poop, triangle sandwiches, and all.
I’ve wanted boobs since I was 11 years old. My best friend at the time blossomed like a glorious rose, and I eagerly and patiently awaited my moment in the breast-filled sun. I knew they’d come – and I didn’t mind waiting. I mean, 11 is early. It’s okay if I’m like, 13 or something.
13 rolls around, I’ve chosen my high school course load and while my eyebrows seemed to have no trouble expanding into view – my chest was still just nipples on flesh. I bought a bra though, ‘cause I’m optimistic like that.
I chalked it up to the fact that I’m a late bloomer. Some people don’t fill in until they’re like 15 or 16! I like to take my time, maybe my body is the same way. Again I waited patiently and eagerly.
The day comes that I walk across the stage and accept my high school diploma. Never once did I lose hope. A lot of people don’t get boobs until their second year in university! And again I waited.
It wasn’t until I was 24 that I resigned to the fact that they weren’t coming. I accepted my fate as a person with little bitty boobies. And honestly, it was okay. There’s a lot of perks to small boobs that I acknowledge and appreciate. But man, I just really love boobs. I am as bad as a 15 year old boy. I stare at them longingly… Maybe one day I’ll buy some. I’m not sure it’s the same though… I don’t know.
All this considered, I hope you can appreciate the level of joy I felt when I noticed that my preggo boobs were coming in. Slowly but surely my tiny titties became little mounds, and then a full handful of flesh, omg they can TOUCH each other!! Eventually I had to go buy a new bra! B cup. I’m so legit.
Now, as exciting as these boobs were (are). I have been struggling with my body image quite a bit since becoming pregnant. I don’t know about the rest of you women – but I have yet to feel ‘pregnant’. So far, I feel really fat and just a general ‘unwellness’ between the fatigue, nausea and plethora of additional symptoms. Basically I’m feeling like a chubby piece of garbage that’s not allowed to drink alcohol or have fun.
So my poor (and amazing) husband has been managing my mental well-being as I battle with my body image. I ask him if he notices the weight gain. How fat I look. “Is it bad? Like… how bad is it? My butt is bigger too! Is that normal? Should my butt be bigger?”
“Honestly babe, I don’t really notice it.”
I knew my husband was smart when I married him. I will be completely candid in saying that I have a painfully low tolerance for stupidity so I would never be able to spend my life with someone that wasn’t cognitively sound. However, it’s been more recently that I’m coming to appreciate just how intelligent my husband is.
No matter how much I pressed looking for an honest answer (I didn’t want an honest answer) – he didn’t budge. Not once has my husband commented on my size, weight gain, or flabby exterior. NOT ONCE.
But my boobs?
“BRIN! LOOK! I HAVE BOOBS!!! CAN YOU SEE THEM?? THEY’RE BIGGER RIGHT?? THEY CAN EVEN TOUCH EACH OTHER NOW!!!”
“WHOA! YES, that’s awesome! They TOTALLY are! Yummy.”
[And then insert things that happen when you mutually admire your boobs.]
Slow clap for my husband e’rrbody. He’s a brilliant, brilliant man.
Did you know that if you’ve never been pregnant before – that you will not feel pregnant for a long time? You will however feel nauseous, extremely tired, pee an abnormally frequent amount, cry all the time, and feel like you’ve become a pudgy slob regardless of your dietary choices and exercise commitments.
I had naively assumed that my brain would comprehend this experience in some way. And that as I slowly outgrew my pants I’d be like: “Yeah, cool. This is normal and healthy.” … but alas no. Instead I experienced some resurfaced, super sweet body image issues from my eating disorder days that have really given me a run for my money.
I am nearly 6 months into this process – and still look in the mirror and think: “Ummm… a bit fat much?? What’s with the love handles? OMG YOUR ASS. The fetus does not extend to your ass. WHAT IS HAPPENING?”
I’ve also learned that food aversion is REAL. And that my sense of smell is comparable to a werewolf from Twilight. So not only do I feel AWFUL about how I look – but lettuce tastes like dirt, broccoli tastes like farts, I hate fish (non-pregnant me LOVES fish) and morning smoothies are out because anything sweet makes me wanna hurl.
So yeah. Having an aversion to nearly every fruit and vegetable, and healthy protein, is making it difficult for me to feel good about my diet – and in turn, all the more challenging to accept the changes in my body. (Guys. Please don’t ask me how many Eggos or Pizza Pops I’ve eaten. I don’t want to talk about it.)
Now, on top of all this expectation I’ve placed on myself and my body – I’ve also been having severe, nearly crippling anxiety and depression about being responsible for an actual, real life, breathing, pooping, human child. The first thing people say when they find out you’re knocked up is: “Oh!! That’s amazing! You must be SO excited!!” (Also sometimes they squeal and cry too.)
No. I’m not at all excited. I’m terrified. (And fat.) I feel like some teenage girl that ‘got in trouble’ [that’s an 80s reference for all you Gen Xers out there. I gotchu.] and is now mourning the loss of her life and body that’s about to be ruined by having a baby. All my ambitions just down the toilet now… what a waste.
As of April 2020 I will become a slave to a tiny milk-fuelled alien that will destroy the body that I hold so dear (and ironically criticize SO often), deprive me of precious sleep, rob me of freedom and normal social interaction, turn my beautiful nipples into chapped and broken chew toys… like – what am I missing here? What about this is supposed to be exciting?
I keep hearing about the way they smell. This is an abstract concept to me. I imagine they smell like poop – because that’s all they do all day. No? I’ll follow up with you on this.
Here’s the thing. I have read SO many parenting articles (I have for years because I’m weird like that) and there are so many bloggers that will happily and candidly tell you about the trails and challenges of new parenthood. But I haven’t read ANYTHING about the perils of pregnancy. No, no. Not hemorrhoids, congestion, morning sickness, back pain, mood swings, water retention (etc) – that I knew about. I’m talking about the actual, real, legitimate struggles with mental health, the severe body dysmorphia, the debilitating anxiety, the overwhelming depression, and the parts where someone might be feeling like: WHY did I do this? Why did we decide that we wanted this? … Maybe I don’t want this at all. Maybe this was a huge mistake.
And I’m having such a hard time leaning on that ONE reason: the abstract concept that people LOVE their kids. Like an incomparable amount.
Let me put it to you this way: I love my husband A LOT. I love him so much. I love him more than I have ever loved anyone in my whole life. (That’s a lot. Just so you know.) – but if that muthafugger ripped my vagina, rubbed sandpaper on my nips, and only let me sleep 3 hours a day… I’d be like: “Um yeah… PEACE OUT.”
So you see – I can’t quite wrap my head around this concept of unconditional love; because I have never, not once in my life experienced it. I see it. I have observed people with their children… I understand it as a concept… but in practicality… to try to visualize it – imagine it … get excited about it? No, I just can’t get there. It’s too much. It would be like trying to translate hieroglyphics… I get that there’s something being communicated, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.
I mean. I’m committed at this point. I’m not hitting the escape button or anything. And if I lost this pregnancy I know I would feel an overwhelming amount of sorrow – and likely shame, guilt, and self-blame for having the feelings I currently do. But bare with me as I wobble through this completely foreign experience. I’m used to being good at things without much effort. This is really throwing a wrench in my usual swagger.
Hey. Let’s have a quick chat about money.
I know, no one likes to talk about it. It’s uncomfortable – even inappropriate. But I wouldn’t mind putting a little clarity on some things that have been bothering me.
When I entered the music business it was preached repetitiously: “Hey, this is the music BUSINESS it’s not music FRIENDS – get a handle on creating a business.”
I took that pretty seriously and have approached my business, like a business from the get-go. Granted a few learning curves and errors along the way, but I’m proud of the fact that I actually make a living playing music.
Just in case this isn’t completely clear – this means that my business runs in the green – every year. I pay my bills, I eat at restaurants, and I buy myself things I want. My favourite thing was the (ONE) month I got to brag to my husband that I made more than him. Best day ever. I took him for a pricey dinner – and then gave him a $20 bill and told him to ‘buy something nice.’ (He still loves me even though I’m a douche.)
It’s not always easy, and I have definitely supplemented my slower seasons with additional contract work – because it’s important to me that I show a profit at the end of the year. I do not accept shows that mean I’m working at a deficit; and I only occasionally (usually for charity) work for free. I do not harbour any resentment for how much money I make on any show – and if I ever do, for me, that’s a solid sign that I need to increase my rate on that type of performance based on the amount of work I invest into it.
This beautiful, complex, frustratingly amazing industry has drilled in this concept of business. I am completely happy to abide that mentality. It’s practical, and creates an environment for mutual understanding and gain. That said, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when I am not treated as an operational and functioning business by talent buyers and venues.
This past summer, I was asked a lot by friends and supporters if I was playing at Country Thunder; and my answer was a simple nope, I’m not.
Do you know how much Country Thunder’s B-Stage paid the majority of their bands this year? $400.
$400 per band. Not per player. $400 for a whole band.
Now, if you want to make some sort of pitch to me about how this is fair because of the ‘opportunity’ and the ‘exposure’ … I’d like you to take a moment, and mentally list which artists played that stage this year.
You don’t know do you? Or if you do know, it’s because you saw it on their own facebook page. Not because Country 105 played their music, or because Country Thunder promoted them in any way.
Let me break this into some costs and expenses.
The bare minimum a reasonable person/artist would pay one of their musicians is $200 for a show. You might think, well, $200 for a 45 minute set is pretty good! And if that were all the time they put into it, I’d agree with you!
Realistically though, that player invests a certain amount of hours into preparing for that show. Let’s say that a 45 minute set has 12 songs. An experienced player will take approximately 30-60 minutes of practicing per song (more if they’ve been asked to work from memory, and not from charts) – that works out to 8-12+ hours per set. If they’ve been asked to come to a rehearsal, that’s more time added to the clock. If you count being available for soundcheck, waiting around pre-show, and whatever amount of commute time it takes to get to and from the show… the numbers aren’t working in their favour. So any player showing up for $200, is a pretty gracious guy/gal.
I have joked with my musician friends about not calculating how much we make per hour because it’s sad. However, we see this as making an investment in ourselves. We take certain, lower-paying opportunities to build our skillsets, and because we believe that in the future, we will be paid a premium for what we offer. On top of that, we love what we do; and we can’t help but passionately pursue the craft that holds our heart. (Note, this mentality is temporarily low-paying and not NO-paying).
Alright, so coming back to our budget. We’ve got each player paid $200 each. The bare minimum. Drummer, bass player, guitar player – and some will have a keyboard player or a second guitar player. So that means just the band alone is an $800 expense. That means as an artist, for this show, I’m $400 out-of-pocket. Also meaning that I will not be in any way compensated for the high level of time and energy investment that went into practicing and rehearsing my own show. Not to mention any effort that went into planning logistics, and of course daily operational expenses: website, graphics, business cards, promo materials, original recordings… etc.
I feel really strongly about addressing this because as artists, all we want in the whole world is to be seen and heard. We want the music that we create from our heart and souls to connect with the people that we made it for. We also LOVE what we do. There are few experiences that compare to playing live music in front of an audience.
This, unfortunately, is capitalized on by so many venues and buyers. They know that an artist is willing to go to the ends of the earth for themselves and their career, so they can make unreasonable offers and artists will take them. They can do that, because artists want that spot, because that spot might be the chance. That might be their big break moment. Someone might SEE them and help lift them to the next level!
Which is a beautiful segue to my primary beef. Artists. If you believe that, that is what’s going to happen. You need to take this moment right now to give your head a damn shake, take off those pink glasses and get into the real world. Labels, management teams, promoters are not attracted to you because you’re talented. There are a million talented human beings on this planet – and the market has shifted so dramatically in the last decade. You need to get up-to-date here and focus on developing your BUSINESS. The only artists who are getting signed to labels, who are getting opportunities and stages that you are dreaming of, have shown that their business is profitable or shows the potential for profit based on statistics and analytics.
Managers, booking agents, labels all make a percentage of YOUR revenue. Please tell me, what is 20% of -$400?
Now, you want to argue to me that this stage is an opportunity for you to build your audience and broaden your market. Okay, cool. I’m into that. Then my next question is how many of your own, original songs did you play? How did you promote your music, your brand, and your individual style? How many followers did your social media actually increase? What were your merch sales? Seriously. Go run the real numbers on that. I’m not being patronizing. If this opportunity paid you and increased the productive capacity of your business then I whole-heartedly support your choice in accepting this undertaking.
Now, if you’re running those numbers and you don’t see a positive number on your revenue – you don’t see a significant increase in your audience. Then please tell me. GUYS. WHY ARE YOU SAYING YES?
If these ‘opportunities’ aren’t creating an environment for business-building – why are you showing up for them? Ask yourself that, and dig DEEP on that shit. Because I bet you, at some level, there is a self-value issue here. Maybe you don’t know if you’re going to get another opportunity like this, or that if you turn this down, maybe nothing else is going to come around.
If this is in any way close to where your mind goes, then you have already sabotaged your career. You are telling yourself that you do not trust your hard-work, dedication, and talent. Which is shitty because the ONLY person who is going to passionately advocate for your career with unshakeable faith is YOU. So if you don’t have that faith in yourself right now, you need to create it. You need to understand that no one is coming to rescue you. No one WANTS to save you. If someone is looking to do business with you, they aren’t a Saint, they aren’t looking for good karma. They are looking for a mutually beneficial opportunity.
If you were an investor, would you invest in you? What kind of returns are you making? Modest returns are better than no returns. And no returns are better than negative ones. Businesses take years to build, have you started yet?
We can do so much better than this. The music business only works if we ALL treat it like it’s a business. There is a real economy here. There is the potential for many people to profit and make money; and the only reason you wouldn’t believe that statement, is because you question your own value.
You’re here for the music, not the money? Cool. Then you play for fun. And that’s awesome. Blake Shelton doesn’t play for fun. Miranda, George Straight, Kasey Musgraves… It doesn’t mean it’s NOT fun. It means these people are building a sustainable business that has the opportunity to go somewhere. And so it has.
You could have the world’s most beautiful car; but if you don’t have gas in the tank – ain’ nobody gunna see it.
I need to make it extremely clear that I am SO grateful to be able to do what I do. All of venders and talent buyers that I work with pay fairly, and even exceptionally. I have not had to arm-wrestle them for GST. I have either been presented a contract, or they sign mine. Everything is dealt with in a way that reflects a contractual and respectful business exchange. I would like to see more of this standard across the board. I would like to see bands and musicians treated with respect, and those same bands and musicians organizing themselves and their business in a way that entitles them to that respect.
Guys, I ‘paid my dues’ too – I didn’t come out of the gate working for the rates I do now. And I didn’t deserve to. I sucked and I was inexperienced. There’s something to be said for the opportunities that give you a chance to learn and work out the kinks. When you suck, you probably shouldn’t get paid much, or at all. But if you are at a point in your career that you want to be taken seriously, and you feel you present a quality show and product then you need to start thinking about how you are pricing your own product
How much is your product worth? Are you indirectly telling others that your show is worth -$400? How can you expect someone else to value your show, if you won’t value your show?
You are worth more than -$400. Even when you sucked, you were still worth more than that. When you start believing that, when you KNOW that, everyone else will too.
This holiday season I’m determined to ensure that everyone is up to speed on the current position of my freak flag.
I have been using the last few months to unearth and reveal as much about myself as possible, in effort to be more transparent, candid, and vulnerable. Though it could sound as though it’s fuelled by narcissistic attention-seeking (and probably partially that’s true) – I do have noble goals as well.
Human beings thrive in connectivity, and interdependent relationships. We are designed to be with, relate to, and be around other people. I feel that our mental illness symptoms are triggered most predominantly when we feel isolated or disconnected from one another.
We misinterpret ourselves as being separate from others based on exterior – and often misleading optics and representations. In effort to self-preserve, we stifle ourselves from expressing aspects of our personality, emotions, or experiences; perhaps to avoid judgement, or maybe it would feel as though we’re jeopardizing our character, or external perceptions. These are incredibly valid and understandable reasons for keeping sensitive things to one’s self – but I can’t help but encourage each of us to be a bit more bold, and risk putting our heart on the line a bit more frequently.
Many of us identify as Lightworkers. And okay, maybe that’s not the Millennial term that everyone uses – but by definition a Lightworker is someone that is committed to creating a better earthly experience for themselves and others.
We habitually think of this in a one-demential way: If I want to spread goodness, kindness, and positivity… I must then therefore always be good, kind, and positive. True-ish.
There is so much good that comes from spreading kindness – and mutually, good also comes from unearthing vulnerable, deep – and even ugly or shameful parts of ourselves. When we are brave enough to crack the closet doors open and shed light on the parts of our own inner-garbage that we’re not incredibly proud of… it gives permission to others to unburden themselves of guilt or shame that they have been hoarding in their own internal closets; and have been thinking they’ve been experiencing this entirely alone. In sharing this, each of us is less alone – and in turn, we get to experience that ever-important connectivity.
Though each of us may appear unique, having individual experiences – we are tied by mutual experiences of human-ing: shame, guilt, grief, trauma, joy, connection, challenge, triumph…
And sometimes we need to be reminded that we’re not alone in those experiences. So when you are in a space that you are unable to be running around spreading positivity like pixie-dust… maybe it’s an opportunity for you to share your gifts in a different way, and shed the light on your shadows.
We could create a world of change by being brave and vulnerable. I promise to continue to do my part… and in effort to lead by example I will leave you with these small parting efforts:
I totally pick my nose when no one’s looking. I have blamed my fart on the person beside me and ran before they could defend themselves. I have felt incredibly depressed, and I have struggled with low-scale social anxiety. I have managed an eating disorder for the better part of a decade, and I have definitely lied to my husband about how much money I’ve spent on music equipment.
Spread the light. xo
How do you cancel upload on this thing?
I’ve changed my mind. I am not ready to join the tribe of parenthood. I think I would just like to status quo my life for the next handful of years please. Thank you.
Have you ever noticed that people with children have this funny way about them when you tell them you’re expecting. Like they’ve all joined the same cult and bringing you on board is SO GOOD for business. Same sort of weird feeling you get if you’ve ever expressed interest in joining an MLM business.
Their eyes are kind of glazed over as they giddily congratulate you into their culture.
As much as I willingly stepped into this… I’m having second thoughts. And the cult-y parent people aren’t helping making this appear more enticing.
I don’t know. I’m just – I mean – I want to sleep when I want to. And shower when I want. I don’t want to wear adult diapers…
I’ve even asked my husband if he’d give birth to our next kid (I mean, I’m hosting and delivering this one – he should have a go, right? Only fair.) and he said no. Rude.
I’ve been doing my best not to read too much on babies and pregnancy – but at the same time not read too little. Because both of these are issues apparently.
For instance, I recently learned that babes are not supposed to sleep on their stomach. And did you know their heads can get misshapen if you leave them on their back too long? (No one ever really defines what ‘too long’ is either). So this is why new parents don’t get any sleep. And also why second and third siblings have weird shaped heads.
And then everyone has an opinion on everything; and each perspective is obviously the correct because they have some evidence that their child has accomplished some feat within the 99th percentile or they’re some sort of Mozart 2-year-old or something.
OMG. You guys. There’s SO much to think about.
It also doesn’t super help that my husband says stuff like:
“What if our kid ends up with your gums, and my teeth??”
[In case you don’t know. I have abnormally large gums, and my husband has abnormally small teeth. Thank you darling for adding this to my list of spiralling anxieties.]
Yeah. So anyways, this was a nice thought and all – but maybe it would’ve been cool if we’d have had a few more months of trying to conceive so that maybe my brain could’ve wrapped around this concept more… or I could’ve gone back on birth control like a really smart person and avoided this whole situation altogether.