As always, it seems I've slacked on posting here. Perhaps a New Year's resolution is in order to be better with this. Those are tough though, New Year's resolutions. We always have the greatest of intentions, but sometimes it's really difficult to live up to our own expectations. I know I'm guilty of that. I write that as I sit in my favourite Guelph Public Library, where I have a few tasks on my to-do list, but I've decided to write a long overdue blog post for my website instead.
My year has been okay. There have been more valleys than peaks than in recent years, but I remain thankful for the life I get to have. I started a new job back in March for the first time in a few years. I now share the role of Manager of Programs and Operations at the Guelph Arts Council, which allows me to help advocate for artists in our community. I love my colleagues and enjoy the work. It's also nice that I'm only there Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which means I have Thursday through Monday to be musical artist me. That quickly turns into Folk Music Ontario board me (where I'm Co-President...what's with me and shared roles?), Northern Power Summit me (for which we're already starting our planning), French class me (oui oui), health-stressed me (I'm okay, just not eating, sleeping, or exercising as well as I'd like), and creativity-stressed me.
It's the creativity-stressed me that has me the most troubled, and likely leads to the rest of those commitments feeling heavier than necessary. I haven't been on stage much in 2019. I miss it. I played a lovely little farm house concert in early November, and it brought me so much joy. I realized how much I missed doing it. I am looking forward to our show in Guelph this weekend (you should come because it's going to be really fun), as well as our "annual" Sarnia show that is happening on February 1st. They will be temporary reprieves from feeling creativity-stressed, but hopefully I find that more permanent solution somewhere along the way. People have asked why I don't play more shows, if that's what brings me joy. It's a valid and excellent question. My concern is that I haven't been writing a lot, and I feel bad going out on stage to play the same songs that people have heard over and over again. Of course, people love going to see their favourite artists and hearing the hits, but that's tough when you're not many people's favourite artist and you don't really have any hits. I'm incredibly fortunate to have the support I do from the people who come to my shows. I love you all for it. I want to give you new songs that I think you deserve. I could go on the road to play shows in places I haven't been to reach new audiences with the same songs, but it's a tough undertaking - when you already face financial hardships - to know you'll come back from a tour having spent more than you'll likely make. This is a labour of love, and I will absolutely go to new places and lose all the money to share my joy and try to make some genuine connections with people in the near future, it's just that 2019 hasn't been the year for that.
It's not doom and gloom. Despite not feeling the greatest about some things, I've definitely had some highs, and I've learned a lot about myself this year. I'm a bookkeeping nerd, which I kind of knew, but I get to practice my nerdcraft these days. My French has improved, and I spoke it in public for the first time ever at this year's Folk Music Ontario conference during my opening remarks. I won my first ever tennis tournament this summer. I've been playing for over 30 years. We've done some excellent work on the Folk Music Ontario board, and our Northern Power Summit event was another one to celebrate. Musically, I performed (and was well-received) at a hip hop conference in the Netherlands this summer. I also explored co-writing in a marginally deeper way than I had before, which taught me of the different roles involved in that process. I also had a little ego boost last night when someone approached me to say they remembered and enjoyed my story and performance at the Beyond Borders event earlier this year (it's a super cool program for Guelph secondary students). The best part about the recognition and the conversation was that the person was actually on stage in the middle of singing a song when it happened. She saw me, gestured for me to wait a second before I left, and during an instrumental break in the song, she came out to say hello. I thought it was very kind of her.
The final favourite thing I'll tell you about from this year is the establishment of our "Singy-songy Guelphies monthly breaky meet(or meat-free)-up", where a group of us Guelph folkies have a standing date for a monthly breakfast together. There have been as few as 3 and as many as 11 of us there, and there might be a 30ish-year age range around the table, but it's led to a wonderful building of community within our community. It has also led to the show we're playing together this weekend, called "Festive Nites with Guelphites".
So as we come into the thick of the holiday season, remember that - like life - it's more about kindness than anything else. Remember that there are those who struggle. Some show it, some don't. Sometimes this time of year makes it worse. Just try to be your best you to the degree that you can. Say hello to friends you know, and maybe even everyone you meet. They might need that. Have a wonderful start to winter and the new year. I hope I'll see you more when the calendar rolls into 2020.
love & best,
As I try to do each year, I'm once again offering for free to anyone that might enjoy it, my 2008-before-I-ever-thought-I'd-be-a-performing-musician holiday album. Please feel free to download and share to you, from me...this christmas. Maybe 2020 will lead to a new festive release...