Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 11: Belief in Myself

My parents, with whom I spoke almost daily, lived with for all but 10 of my years, and saw 2-3 times per week, died four months apart in 2006. Since then, it has felt like something very significant was missing from my life. Of course, they were missing; but I could not figure out how that would have caused total annihilation of my will to live, and of my motivation to dream or do anything in the life left behind.

(If you've been reading my nascent blog, you understand that I'm trying to piece together why I feel so different in the "after" than I did "before", because it doesn't seem normal. Other people lose their parents, and they resume their lives after a grieving period. For me, it seemed to upend my entire life and I'm trying to figure out how to put it back together and get on with it.)

For the past seven years, I’ve searched endlessly for the external factor—was it their money? Their love? Their presence? Did they add something to my life that was so vitally important for me to be able to function (that couldn’t be replaced) that without it, I was doomed? How did other people go on after losing someone?

None of the answers satisfied me. I realized in looking back over our lives together that we argued more than we laughed, and that in their absence, along with missing them, I also felt a sort of relief that the arguing and friction had ended. I was now free to live my life on my terms, to pursue my dreams without criticism—yet, I’d lost all motivation to do so. And I could not pinpoint any external parentally-related factor that could have contributed either to my having once had this motivation nor to having lost it.

Today, I realized there is no external factor. It’s an internal factor.

My self-esteem and self-belief has always been fragile. I was adopted, believed I’d been rejected by my first mother (this later proved to be untrue, it was a very complex situation), and I questioned my worth from an early age. My adoptive parents (henceforth known as ”my parents”) did everything they could to reinforce my worth and sustain and rebuild my self-belief.

For me, they were a daily reinforcement of that self-belief—such that I didn’t have to participate AT ALL in elevating my self-esteem or generating any self-belief. When I felt it flagging, I’d just run to them for replenishment.

It has become painfully evident to me, in the absence of my parents and their constant reinforcement, that I failed to learn how to reinforce my own self-belief.

Without self-belief, nothing seems worth doing. Why bother? It isn’t likely to really work out anyway, is it? Without self-belief, there is no motivation. Without motivation, there is no action. Without action, there is no energy being released to the universe. Without this, there is no manifestation.

I can receive nothing, when my self-belief is absent. My belief in myself, in the possibility of success, absolutely MUST exist within me in order to generate any kind of manifestation.

Nothing external changed. It has always been this way. All that changed was that the veil obscuring my ability to SEE that this issue existed was removed when they died. No longer held up by the illusion they provided, I am finally able to see that responsibility for believing in myself belongs to ME, and only me—that I cannot (nor should I) seek the reinforcement of my self-belief from others, but must learn to rebuild, reinforce and replenish my self-belief MYSELF.

All I have to do to have my motivation return is to learn—or remember—how to BELIEVE IN MYSELF.

Someone who doesn’t believe in herself, or does not believe in the possibility of success, does not take actions leading to success. This person will give up easily. She’ll get the inspiration to paint (write, sing, dance, exercise, etc.). She’ll ponder it for a moment. Then she’ll hear that inner voice saying, “What’s the point? Never gonna happen anyway,” and she’ll go get a plate of brownies and watch TV instead. At best, she might make a half-hearted attempt at painting (writing, singing, etc.), but the whole time she’ll hear the internal chatterbox nagging at her to put down the brush (pen, microphone) and go do something more productive because “this is a waste of time”.

I know these voices all too well. If I know my paintings will never make it into a juried show, or that my novel will never become a bestseller, or my songs won’t ever get played on the radio… even if it IS fun, what’s the point? Especially if my dream was to BE an accomplished artist, or a bestselling novelist, or a rock star…

Someone who DOES believe in herself and the possibility of success not only takes actions that lead to success, but her attitude is different. She is fired up inside. When she comes home from work, she goes right to her creative workspace (or to the gym or whatever) and she gets down to business with fierce determination because SHE KNOWS this is just one more step on the path to success. She can SEE it working out. She can taste the success. She can hear it, smell it, feel it.

That can’t be faked. That comes from within. The whole time she’s doing her thing, her internal voice is like a cheerleader—GO! GO! GO! It’s rhapsodizing about the accolades sure to be coming soon, praising her for going one more lap around the track, showing her visions of the slinky new cocktail dress she’ll be wearing at the reunion, or the award she’s accepting on stage for her novel or album or latest movie role—she can SEE her dreams coming true in her mind because she believes in them and believes in herself.

I never had that much faith in myself; but I had more when my parents were alive because they took over the responsibility for bolstering my overall general self belief—and since I couldn’t manage to spread what little self-belief I had to cover my dream AND myself in general, with their help, I had just enough left over that I managed to cover the part needed to believe in my dreams.

With them gone, however, the responsibility for reinforcing my self-belief is all on me. I didn’t have enough to cover any dreams AND my belief in my ability to survive on my own. THAT is what has changed.

And that is what I must now change. It’s time to learn how to believe in myself, without anyone’s help, and to reinforce my belief in myself—and my dreams—by myself.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5 Already?

Today's epiphany: Something else of great importance that has been missing from my life since my parents died.

It's Unconditional Acceptance of me, as I am.

My (late) parents, in addition to being my main supporters and patrons, gave me this. They knew me from my earliest days. As babies, we are "perfect"--untainted by judgment. We are just happy to be here, and radiate joy. It's easy to unconditionally accept a baby, and my parents did so.

As we grow up, we learn how to judge others and how others judge us--we forget how to unconditionally accept ourselves. Then we spend a lifetime trying to re-learn how to do that.

I put the burden of UA solely on my parents rather than learning to do it for myself. I've been grieving the loss of that UA, and sad because I realized no matter how deeply someone else ever loves me, they will NEVER love me with as pure of an unconditional love as my parents did. (Fans, when I get them, may think they love me this way, but they'll only love the image they have of me, not the REAL flawed version of me.)

I will always be justifying my worth to others in some way because of this--we all do. And before I can convince others that I have this worth, I have to convince myself of it, because it radiates out of me and people sense it even if they aren't aware of what they're sensing.

Somehow this all fits in with manifesting my passion...

There was something else, too. As I woke up today, I was thinking about the dream I have, of helping others achieve their dreams and how I'd wanted to do that after years of being a rock star. I decided to spend a little time imagining myself in THAT life at this age on this day, rather than in this life. 

I got to this part where I had just checked out a band I was interested in maybe taking on as a development client. It seemed that I really liked their raw talent, and thought they were "almost there", but I was on the fence about signing them. So I sat with them and counseled them on my findings.

I was saying this all out loud (the benefit of living alone), almost like rehearsing the experience. It's interesting that when I do this, which I do often as a way of following up my journaling, stuff comes out of my mouth that I hadn't planned to say, and this other part of my awareness perks up and takes notice. The stuff that emerges is usually very epiphanic and I learn from it!

So I'm counseling this band, and I heard myself telling them about how I'd done it, what I'd learned--keep in mind, THIS IS STUFF I'VE NEVER CONSIDERED BEFORE or considered doing, in well over 40 years of being a musician:
  • be very open-minded about your songs--don't be "married" to the way it was originally written. I told them that a song can be almost there, but if you refuse to tweak it or look at it objectively, you prevent it from becoming the best song it could be. This is the difference between a good songwriter and a great one. The great ones are able to say, "Well, I love the verse and chorus, and I really love this bridge between them, BUT though the bridge is great with an awesome chord progression, it doesn't really fit THIS particular song the way I'd like it to". And then  they give themselves permission to be divorced from that part, and to put in something that really makes the song, er, sing.
  • I (or rather, Great Songwriter Rock Star "I") keep a database of those discarded parts, organized and cross-referenced by tuning, time signature, and key. It might not have worked in this song, but that doesn't mean it won't work for another song you'll write later. Sometimes the perfect part for another song decides to drop in and manifest itself while we're working on this song. The Universal muse can be annoying that way. So when I'm working on a new song days, weeks or months (or years) later, and I need a bridge in Em in DADGAD tuning in 3/4, I can look it up, and voila--it's PERFECT.
  • You have to be 100% convinced about EVERYTHING you do. Every note you play, every line you write, every hair flip you make onstage. There has to be ZERO doubt about its perfection in relation to your own unique performance style. If you write a guitar solo, and it's perfect theoretically, but there is one note or passage that isn't quite where you'd like it to be, rework it. Because if you go out and record it with even the tiniest bit of doubt behind it while you're playing it, you'll record that doubt. I'm not saying you have to be "perfect" as in flawless--but you have to be doubtless.
I found this to be VERY enlightening. I had no idea this was in me. As for how it ties into the earlier epiphany... in order to be "doubtless" about your performance, you have to have achieved Unconditional Acceptance of yourself first--as well as of your playing, writing, golfing, painting, teaching, etc. You have to convince yourself of your value there, before you can convince anyone else.

You have to convince your audience that each note you've written is absolutely right for this song, and to be able to do that, you have to be convinced of it yourself.

Apparently, I haven't been convinced. Now it's time to fix that.

OH CRAP. I just had another epiphany. Am I... the "almost there" band from my vision?!? And Great Songwriter Rock Star "I" that's doing the counseling... is the Universe, counseling me?

I think I need a beer now.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4: Revelations Abound

I missed Day 3 due to work overload. (The department had an open house today to recruit students to our program; Secretaries are also event planners, dontcha know, so it was all mine to do.)

This morning I had a brief revelation that I scribbled in my paper journal before dashing off for a very busy day:

  • Ask that your Soul reveal to you Its deepest desires for you in this life, what to be/do/have (so that when you're all done living this life, you can say on the way out, "WOW! I got to be HER, and she was wicked cool!!! Wow.")
  • Then ask for assistance with:
    • being re-inspired to take positive actions to do/be/have that
    • the ability to sustain that motivation long-term
    • opportunities coming to you that carry you through...
As it goes, I then immediately forgot all about this entry, rushed off to work, immersed myself in the event, came home, collapsed on the couch, fell asleep (and drifted in and out of sleeping/waking for the next hour and a half), and then had an EPIPHANY.

But before I reveal that, I have to tell you that I had more fun at this event than I thought I would. It's basically a meet-n-greet for faculty and students who are interested in the major and specialization our department offers (Finance); as a secretary/event host, my main job was to smile, make sure everyone signs in and gets a name tag, and keep the soda stocked.

I wasn't expecting to have a lull with no professors around, and five students showing up whom I had to entertain and hold there while the Chair went out to pick up the second round of subs. (We ran out! We got more students than anticipated!)

I hadn't expected to enthrall them with probing questions designed to trigger their "Wildest Dreams" motivation, such as, "What is your most favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?" (And to watch their brains just lock up as they confronted it was amazing.)

I hadn't expected being able to tell one humbly abashed student (who was probably used to disappointing everyone with his answer when they inquired about his major) that "Undecided" is such an awful word--that it really means "Still exploring". The light in his eyes when that hit him was priceless.

I hadn't expected a bit later in the event to be drawn into a fascinating conversation with an Entrepreneurship student and two of our professors who were encouraging her to join the College's version of "Shark Tank" (where students pitch ideas to real investors for real money--last year's winner bought and runs a taco truck on campus now). Drawn INTO the conversation, as a contributor, not just standing idly by smiling and nodding.

This young lady's bold dining concept had ME excited. I won't divulge the details so as to protect her idea, but it was innovative, and it even inspired a few "maybe you could do THIS" ramblings from ME. (My boss and the other professor saw me with new eyes today).

I've had this happen before--it's rare, but I recognize it when I feel it. When she spoke about it, she lit up inside. She vibrated with energy. When I joined in, I felt that energy rising inside of me and joining hers. It's a very happy buzzy energy but being unfamiliar with it, I get a little uncomfortable and feel unnaturally giddy and zingy inside.

But it's the energy that tells me, "this one is GOING somewhere".

This energy has never been wrong in the past. When I found out about Def Leppard in a British music magazine before the release of their very first album (to name one example), I had that feeling--and I hadn't heard the music yet (nobody in the USA knew of them yet).

I know this energy. It's that hunch, the "nudge" that points you in the direction of your dreams.

So after the event ended, and I came home, I fell asleep and sort of dreamed/meditated, and had this epiphany.

I know what I have always wanted to do.

AND I know why my motivation disappeared after my parents died.

It's because I've been trying to make it about me--and it has never been about ME.

All those years I thought my drive and desire was about making MYSELF successful, I was wrong. Let me fill you in a bit so you get it.

  • age 4: parents discover I have musical talent.
  • age 5: children's choir
  • age 6: guitar lessons begin, along with endless recitals, talent shows, etc.
  • ages 6-18: member of every school musical thing imaginable
  • age 15: change from classical/folk to rock guitar; decide to be a rock star
  • ages 15-36: play and sing in countless bands, interspersed with feeble attempts to get a college degree at parents' insistence (finally did, at age 33)
  • age 26: moved to Hollywood, attended the Musicians Institute, honed the vocal chops, lived on the Sunset Strip
  • age 27: moved back to Ohio after realizing how corrupt the music industry is in L.A.
  • ages 33-39: try to hold a regular day job in my field (four years tops--laid off after 9/11)
  • age 39: finally got my horse--focused on that for the next 10 years, interspersed with feeble attempts to have a solo career as an acoustic singer/songwriter
  • age 43: parents died, the music stopped--I went into self-imposed exile for the next seven years
My dream, or so I thought, was to be a multimillionaire rock star. But I've always loved writing, too. And art. And horses. And Philosophy. And...

The thing is, and I keep going back to this, I've been most angry at NOT becoming a multimillionaire rock star NOT because I missed out on BEING a rock star, but because it meant I was denied the retirement plan I'd dreamed up. My plan was:
  1. Join awesome band, move to Hollywood, get record deal
  2. Sell lots of albums, tour the world, make millions
  3. Retire from being a touring musician somewhere in my mid-40s
  4. Be a multimillionaire.
  5. Buy horse farm.
  6. Learn to train horses (which my late Mother had said, when I stated this list at age 10, would be "impossible", because I "hadn't grown up on a farm and you have to grow up on a farm with horses to know how to train them", to which I'd replied, "Well... maybe, but I'll find a way to learn, somehow".)
  7. Build an art studio where I can paint, etc., as I desired
  8. Have a stellar library where I can read, and write the books I'll publish
  9. Get a college degree in SOMETHING so my parents get off my back about it (LOL)
  10. Be a philanthropist, donating generously to help those in need
  11. Build an epic recording studio, state of the art, hire the best engineer that I can, and...
  12. Go out and discover up and coming talent, invest some of my millions into their careers; help develop them from raw unique talent into the best possible "them" they can be while retaining that essence that makes them who they are; bring them to my studio to record; teach them everything I've learned about how to make it in the music biz; then, because of my clout, connections and investment, get them into a major label deal so they can have the careers they deserve (part patron of the arts, part mentor).
 Well. I'm 50 now, and not a rock star. Out of the list above, I actually have manifested quite a bit:
  1. I moved to Hollywood for 15 months
  2. I recorded albums... toured the tri-state area... made tens...
  3. Retired from being a professional musician playing live every weekend somewhere in my mid-40s, though sadly, I missed out on...
  4. Being a multimillionaire (or haven't yet gotten to this one)
  5. I also did not buy a horse farm (yet). But I did buy a horse!
  6. Because of said horse, I had no choice BUT to learn to train horses after a scary fall, thank you Parelli Natural Horsemanship for being the "someway somehow" method by which I learned all the stuff I would have learned had I grown up around horses.
  7. I don't have an art studio (yet), but I do have all the supplies and use them sometimes
  8. I have lots of bookshelves and I write... if a blog counts as being published, then I'm published and god knows my posts are like novels sometimes
  9. Got the college degree in SOMETHING, got the parents off my back about it (LOL)
  10. I've been as much of a philanthropist as I could be, though not to the tune of millions (yet)
  11. I've built a modest home recording studio, on a budget, and I'm the best engineer I can be...

In fact, the ONLY thing I haven't done besides the millions thing, and the ONE thing that really cheeves me off...

I have not been able to go out and discover up and coming talent, invest some of my millions into their careers; help develop them from raw unique talent into the best possible "them" they can be; bring them to my studio to record; teach them everything I've learned about how to make it in the music biz; then, because of my clout, connections and investment, get them into a major label deal so they can have the careers they deserve (part patron of the arts, part mentor). 

The epiphany I had today is that THIS was THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE WHOLE PLAN.

The horse farm, the art studio, the library, all that was just icing.




So what happened to my motivation when my parents died is simple--they were MY biggest investors, emotionally and financially. They were the ones helping me achieve my dreams.

I always had the impression that I had to become successful myself first, so that my success would pave the way and allow me to help the next generation of artists by:
  • proving it could be done
  • giving me the experience necessary to be able to mentor my chosen ones appropriately
  • establishing me in the music industry
  • giving me the clout I needed so that when I said "you have to hear these guys", the industry would listen
  • giving me the financial level I'd need to be able to support them in the early stages and pay for their recording, touring, etc.--as my parents had done for me
  • giving me the industry connections needed to get the young artists into major labels
With MY main financial and emotional backers gone, and NOBODY stepping up to take their place (in one instance, being told point blank by a person that they were not going to "let [me] mooch off of them the way my parents did"--meaning they had totally misperceived what my parents and I had been trying to achieve for me)...

I figured, "well, that's over, and my future is going to be just me, five cats, and a lonely dinner after my mundane pays-the-bills 9-5 job".

Why it never occurred to me to try to find an outside investor is beyond me. But that's beside the point. My drive to sing and play was stopped cold by their loss as well. It was just too painful to write. (The first couple of years I couldn't even go into stores during Christmas season, the damned Christmas music dissolved me into sobs in the middle of the store. I am DEEPLY affected by music, especially anything sentimental or "truthful".)

And the reason I haven't been able to get my head wrapped around being motivated to pursue ANYTHING is because all of the "things" I could pursue would be about ME and MY success, MY glory. It was meaningless; therefore, I couldn't bring myself to get enough energy to try to pursue it.

I wanted to be successful so that I could reach back afterwards and help others become successful as well--maybe even MORE successful than I'd ever been--and THAT was the part of my "retirement" I'd really be looking forward to! Back in the 80s and 90s, I had this excitement. I couldn't WAIT for the day when I'd be able to see the expressions on the faces of those young dreamers when I told them their dreams were coming true. 

I lived for that. It's what got me out of bed and on stage every day.

To say that this blew my mind is an understatement. And then I realized:
  • Maybe I can still do this (help others achieve their dreams) even if I'm not a rich rock star topping the charts.
  • Maybe I can still become a rich rock star and top the charts. I'm only 50, in a world where Motley Crue is still recording and touring (at damn near 60) as is KISS; the lead singer of Nazareth retired from the road at 67 only due to ill health--rock and roll is graying, not dying like we all expected it to. It's no longer only for the under-30 crowd! I'm not dead yet, and I can still rock with the best of them! (OK, I'm a little out of shape, but it's recoverable).
  • Maybe I can become a multimillionaire some other way (instead of through music) and devote myself to helping others achieve their dreams.
  • Maybe it doesn't have to BE about me at all, and I can STILL do both (achieve my own dreams AND help others achieve theirs, simultaneously).

It's about helping people achieve their dreams, mine and everyone else's. There has GOTTA be a way for me to do that. :-)

Tell me: do you think that through the course of today...
  • My Soul revealed to me Its deepest desires for me in this life, what to be/do/have?
  • Provided me assistance with:
    • being re-inspired to take positive actions to do/be/have that?
    • regaining the ability to sustain that motivation long-term?
    • sending me opportunities related to this?
Um, YEAH, totally...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On Motivation, Day 2

Since my parents passed in 2006 (four months apart), my motivation to do anything for myself has plummeted. I flatlined. No drive, no desire, no inspiration. I could get my motivation up a little bit, but could not sustain it for long.

No motivation equals no action; no action equals no achievements. Hence my 90-day theme of becoming re-inspired, re-motivated, alive again and hungry about my life goals--IF I can figure out what they might be now. First the feeling must come, then the concrete intention can be set.

So for my challenge, I asked for motivation.
This morning, I realized I’d made one huge error in declaring my intention. I left a little too much room for the Universe's interpretation of the word--and that can be dangerous, LOL!

This morning's revelation reminded me that there are two types of motivation: positive and negative.

Positive motivation inspires one to take action in the direction of one’s goals, to become proactive in achieving them. It has uplifting, forward-moving energy.

Negative motivation is a desperate attempt to avoid an undesirable outcome. It harbors hesitation, resistance, even anger.

I realized, I’ve had plenty of motivation over the last seven years—just of the wrong kind! I’ve had the negative, preventative kind of motivation, where the main goal is to prevent loss.
  • The only reason I sought employment last year was because I was down to $15 and an empty gas tank, and I wanted to prevent all the losses that can occur in that state (not because I felt inspired to work for the companies in question).
  • The only reason I wake up (after hitting snooze four times) is to try to prevent myself from being late (in my perfect life, I get to sleep in every day).
  • The only reason I try to be on time (and often fail) is to prevent the loss of my job/income (which, living paycheck to paycheck, is kind of important).
  • The only reason I dress “office appropriate” (when it is SO “not me”) is to prevent myself from being unfavorably viewed in the office (in my perfect life, there is no polyester in my closet, and I look like... a neo-hippie bohemian cowgirl goth-ish metal rock goddess).
  • The only reason I pay bills is to prevent loss of service, loss of home, loss of car…

You get the idea.

The motivation that has come in recent years has been through threat of loss. This is NEGATIVE motivation.

It gets me nowhere.

What I need is to infuse my life with POSITIVE motivation: the kind that gets me up out of bed excited about my day, ready to get moving on my fantastic new goals, to chase my adventures, to follow my dreams. The drive that makes me proactive, causes me to look for the actions to take that propel me closer to the realization of my dreams, and the buoyant excitement that accompanies that drive.

So I hereby revise my intention for this 90-day challenge: to receive POSITIVE motivation as described above.