How music broke me and mindfulness put me back together

Uncategorized Oct 07, 2020

I just started the most important work of my life.

 

Here’s why. 

 

As a little girl I was free. I loved to sing, I ran around barefoot in tie-dye leggings. I would say I got “the God feeling” whenever I felt the magic of music. I wrote books and swam for hours on end. My wild curls danced as I played through life.

 

Very simply, I was myself, with abandon. 

 

For whatever reason, I was dealt a unique deck of cards in my life, like we all are. 

 

I was born into a highly competitive classically trained musical family. 

 

I have a family member that has bipolar disorder and is on the autism spectrum. 

 

I had a near death car accident when I was 16 years old.

 

I began my classical training and competitions at the piano at age five. It was there where my identity began to shift. Perfectionism seeped into my mind and heart. My output became the measuring stick for my self-worth. I was vicious to myself and was rewarded for it.

 

Words from damaging teachers echoed in my mind and became my beliefs. I was conditioned to override my intuition. My ideas were silenced. My creativity was stamped. My light was dimmed.

 

As someone with bipolar disorder and autism, my family member experienced devaluing and deep misunderstanding in all areas of their life.

 

Growing up I got the gift of yes, unique challenges, but the innate knowing that not everyone learns the same way and not everybody fits in the same box.

 

As the years went by, the forces and dogma of the classical music world deepened in me. They followed me even more as pursued horn. The magical portal of music quietly faded. I stopped singing.

 

It’s truly scary how far I got in music by hating myself. I excelled in performance and competitions, had my pick of schools for my undergrad, placed in top ensembles and gigged professionally while in school.

 

I was then accepted into the Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music on scholarship for my masters.

 

It was there where I hit a wall.

 

I had crippling performance anxiety. I didn’t believe I deserved things, so I sabotaged them.

 

I couldn’t play at my potential or from my heart. I would stumble upon flow state by accident and be unable to recreate it.

 

This culminated in my master’s recital which was painfully nowhere close to my abilities or desires. I was devastated. 

 

Underneath it all, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t myself. 

 

I had mean boyfriends. I drank myself into oblivion. I drank to not feel.

 

I will never forget the sentence that changed the entire trajectory of my life. My mentor said “Everything is a choice”.

 

A window had been opened to a way of living I had never known. 

 

After grad school, I felt broken. I took time off of horn. I moved to Chicago not knowing anyone. 

 

It was from that point on that I began a deep journey of unlearning and remembering who I am.

 

I stopped drinking. I started meditating every day. I discovered yoga. I devoured personal development - sometimes even 5 books per week. I got my first coach. I journaled my ass off. My friends called me obsessed, I didn’t care.

 

I got back on the audition circuit and failed time and time again. My perfectionism and performance anxiety reared its ugly head as I would tearfully travel home audition after audition.

 

 I took upwards of 30 auditions and never advanced. 

 

During this time, I deepened my self-study. Mindfulness became not just a practice, it became my way of being. I began to be able to observe my thoughts and choose them. I began to be able to observe situations separate from me and my worth.

 

I then discovered the miraculous missing ingredient: LOVE. 

 

I discovered radical self love. I truly became my own best friend, unconditionally. Not just saying I loved myself, I actually did.

 

I loved myself not in spite of what I saw through the lens of mindfulness, but because of it.

 

This changed everything. 

 

The first audition I took after this love discovery was for the Navy band, for one of twenty spots in the world. Not only did I play like me, with love, freedom and joy. Not only did I advance to the final round. I won.

 

It was a homecoming. Not to the job, to myself. 

 

Funnily enough, as life would have it, I did not accept the coveted job. And just like always, I was being guided by a force far greater than myself for a purpose just as big. 

 

Rather than go work for Donald Trump, I took a major pivot. I chose to aim my life experiences, gifts and intentions toward a vision of a better world. 

 

After grad school, I had begun teaching private lessons. I started teaching because “that’s what musicians do, they teach during the day and gig at night”.

 

Much to my surprise, rather than have a day job, I fell in love. 

 

The universe put young people in my path that struggled with the beginnings of perfectionism, performance anxiety and low self worth - I became the teacher I had always longed for as I empowered them to move through it. 

 

The universe put neuro-diverse young people on my path, with themselves and their families feeling isolated and misunderstood. I became the teacher my family member and family had always needed.

 

I felt a deep call to pay it forward. 

 

I vowed to make every student I met feel deeply seen and valued without any agenda to change them.

 

I created a teaching philosophy of mindfulness through music based on a radical principal - simply allowing kids to be who they are. 

 

I empowered them to think for themselves, heighten their awareness, and share their ideas and creations. They embodied empathy as they honored their own stories and the stories of others.

 

As I learned and integrated deeper levels of mindfulness myself, I gifted them to my students.

 

Lessons were magic. My students excelled artistically and in all areas of their lives. They were learning a craft, reaching their unique potential and loving and being themselves in one fell swoop. 

 

Not only were they learning and growing, I was humbled every day by just how much my students taught me. 

 

I call this magic, Mindful Music.

 

This magic and my story is unique.

 

Throughout a life immersed in music culture, I have never met one musician who hasn’t struggled with perfectionism, performance anxiety, low self-worth and deep unhappiness in this art form.

 

These cancers of the mind and heart permeate the culture. 

 

This is the biggest problem in classical music that no one is talking about.

 

After my pivot to Mindful Music, I began to notice not only the realities of young people in music, but the realities of adult musicians and music teachers.

 

As I attended concerts and experienced the highest expressions of the art form, I began to wonder, “Yes, they nailed that excerpt, but are they actually happy?”

 

I began to notice these same struggles in my colleagues and fellow music teachers. I saw the wounds they carried in their artistic lives present in their teaching and unknowingly being perpetuated in their students. 

 

I dreamed about what it would be like if I could show music teachers Mindful Music. What if they could not only heal themselves through mindfulness, they could interrupt the cycle from being passed to the next generation? 

 

Rumi says, “the wound is where the light enters”.

 

He is right. My life is an example of this.

 

When I was 16 years old, I almost died in a car accident.

 

After hitting tree after tree at 100mph, I landed amidst smoke and blood, drifting in and out of consciousness. I realized I was still alive.

 

I wondered why. Why was I saved? I should be dead. Why was I given a second chance? 

 

This is why.

 

I’m here to make a ruckus. I’m here to empower you to make your ruckus too.

 

I’m here to shine the light of love and mindfulness to bring healing to classical music.

 

I’m here to use my life experiences to shorten your suffering and remind you of your greatness.

 

I’m here to help you be the you that you were born to be.

 

This is my life’s work. 

 

This is why, I’m launching a mindfulness coaching practice for musicians and music teachers. 

 

As musicians, we tend to think that being hard on ourselves will make us strong. What I have come to know is that it’s actually cherishing ourselves that gives us strength. 

 

I want to help musicians cherish themselves. And in doing so, equip them to gift this transformation to their students.

 

These days I sing. I experience the “God feeling” in music again. I write and swim for hours on end. I am back to the girl in tie dye leggings and wild curls. 

 

After a bit of a rumble and a tumble, I am back to myself. 

 

What if you didn’t need a big rumble and tumble?

 

What would you do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly?

 

What if you could be yourself, flourish within music and be profoundly happy at the same time?

 

If any of this resonates with you, then I invite you to comment below or message me via my contact page. I would love to hear from you!

 

And if you want to learn more about working with me, feel free to book a call with me here and check out my coaching page.

 

You are the only you!! ⭐️

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