With age is supposed to come wisdom. Well, I’m racking up those age points, but the wisdom part seems to barely be keeping up.
I’ve actually become friends with my pile-up of years, though. Oh, sure, there are things here and there that are (much) less than ideal, but even that is kind of a relief. The pressure is off. I am completely and wholly as me as I’m ever going to get. Nothing to prove, no bar to jump over, no stranger I need to like me, and no skinny jeans to fit into.
There’s simply not that kind of time left.
It was five years ago last week that I folded the magazine, and for four and a half of those years I worked endlessly on my patience in walking forward, trying to be open and figure out what was next for me. But most of the time I felt paralyzed by what I thought I was supposed to do. What I thought was expected of me. That I needed to start another business, or create something that was even bigger so that all I’d accomplished during the 16 years of publishing Performing Songwriter wouldn’t just evaporate.
Then last fall I was visiting with a friend who was leaving a job and trying to envision the path for the next part of her career. There was a position that would have been another step up and an even bigger accomplishment for her resume, and she said, “I know there’s a better way to put this, but I don’t want to have to work that hard again.”
And that’s when it hit me. The picture at this point in my life is totally different. Time feels different. What’s important to me is different. I don’t need to climb a ladder and add to my resume, or do something to try and prove my worth. I am enough, right here, right now. It felt like I hit my stride after frantically and blindly running races, and realizing that my stride is just a leisurely and enjoyable walk with no one I need to pass or a finish line to cross.
Then I let go of my fear and ego I’d apparently been clinging to like a life raft and suddenly everything clicked. My dreams simplified and became attainable, I’m doing what I love, and feel like what I do matters. And if that is all, it’s more than enough.
The Performing Songwriter Creative Workshops I launched this year have been life changing—for me and everyone involved. The participants have been from all walks of life, including a teacher, accountant, river geologist, nurse, mom, agronomist, high school junior, college senior, Episcopal priest, orthopedic surgeon, electrician, lawyer, professional songwriter and Celtic musician. And as diverse as we are, we all have something monumental in common: we love music and know the power of a great song that tells the truth. And we know that having a creative outlet helps us communicate, connect, and be better at everything else we do.
The brilliant Mary Gauthier has taught two workshops so far and has her third one in July. She is a phenomenal mentor, and I can see how moved she has been by the experience—what I’ve witnessed and the souls she has transformed is miraculous. In addition to Mary’s, there’s a songwriting workshop with Gretchen Peters coming up, Beth Nielsen Chapman will be leading us on our creative excursion to Italy in October, and there is so much more planned for next year. (Be sure to sign up for the Creative Workshop newsletter to get first notification of them.)
So this is this magical place I’ve landed: where I’m doing something I know I’m good at, with inspiring songwriters and friends who excel at their craft, and where I get to be part of a tribe of like-minded souls. My life’s next step didn’t have to be anything big, dependent on an industry, or done with a bang after all. It just had to be of quality and done with heart. And the best part is that I’m beyond happy and passionately love what I do.
And there’s the nugget of wisdom that found it’s way through. Sometimes our fear and ego need to give up the wheel, move over, and let our heart drive the bus for a while. And when that happens the odds are pretty great that we’ll end up at a destination where we’re doing what we love. And what could be better than that?
Category: Note From Lydia