I sit up in bed sobbing and trying to catch my breath. I tell myself to get a grip, but panic attacks don’t like being told what to do, so I ride it out. My sweet girlfriend Audrie looks concerned as she shushes me in whispers, puts her hands on my shoulders and arms, and tells me to take deep breaths.
Maybe I’m not cut out for this, I think to myself. Ever since I was a little girl, I put way too much pressure on myself to do good, to be good, to work harder, make an impact, achieve more. All my life I’ve been racing against no one for no reason. Now here I am on the brink of an exciting album release and tour, and all I can do in this moment is gasp for air and run through the tiniest, stupidest details in my mind, like ‘did we get anyone to turn the lights on and off during intermission?’
Believe me, I’m aware of how silly it all is. I feel embarrassed and hope Audrie doesn’t think less of me for being such a sensitive sally. I remind myself that the stress I have the luxury of feeling and the problems I have the luxury of creating are all things to be grateful for. I am loved, fed, clothed, sheltered, and employed. The things I allow myself to be stressed about – will people like the record, will anyone come to the release, will the tour be successful, why can’t i sleep, how the hell are we going to pay for all this - all stem from the most beautiful seed: I get to do what I love for a living.
I can feel the panic loosen its grip on my throat a little. I am cut out for this, I repeat to myself. I lay back down, eyes wide toward the ceiling, and do a quick inventory of my priorities with The Lovebirds:
1. To Create: In my opinion, this is the closest anyone can come to God. No matter what you believe, the universe and everything in it is some sort of creation. A perfect mix of structure and chaos, fact and faith. When you create, you are aligning yourself with everything that ever did and ever will exist. How freaking awesome is that!?
2. To Connect: I could tell a hundred stories of people we have connected with through music: Katie the dancer from SLO, Lauren the trapeze artist from Portland, the folkies at FAR West, the honeymooning Zimmermans from Arizona, and so many more. Don’t even get me started about the loving, lasting relationships we’ve established here in San Diego. Knowing there’s a 99% chance of seeing the thousand-watt smiles of Dennis Driscoll and Leah Robbins at a show not only lights up my day, it lights up my whole dang life. I am so thankful music has given me the opportunity to meet and befriend some of the kindest and most unique people on the planet.
3. To Experience: I’ve read a lot of blogs/columns that urge musicians not to tour until they’ve created a big local following. Hogwash. If you can find a place to play locally, you can find a similar place to play in another town. Independently booking a tour is HARD but possible. For me, touring is only partially about the performances. It’s about trying a new coffee shop in Portland, hiking on a beautiful trail in Olympia, getting a tattoo in Sacramento, sleeping in a commune in Stanford, writing a song in the car, and so much more. This summer alone, we’re hoping to have new experiences in Texas, Pennsylvania, West Vriginia, and Tennessee. Thanks to music, I have smiled in 7 states. I hope it takes me all over the world.
4. To Provide: Everything The Lovebirds earns goes directly back into the band account to help cover expenses. This year we are taking a few more financial risks (it ain’t cheap traveling to all those places I listed above!). While these risks are VERY scary, I hope one day the investment will pay off, not with fame or fortune (you can see above how good I am at handling pressure), but with just enough financial security to transition into being a full-time musician. My dream is to have a family soon, and if I could one day provide for my children via writing and music, I would be the happiest wife and mommy of all time.
I roll over and snuggle up to a sleeping Audrie. I force myself to let go of “the list” of things I need to do. Stress can wait until tomorrow. For now, I am still and grateful.