Looking back, it was a good year, for the most part! I would say the first 9/12ths of the year were excellent! The last quarter was somewhat disappointing, on both broad and narrow spectrums. The refugee crisis and related world affairs have been disheartening. Social media–albeit useful in bringing awareness–is a conduit for spreading hate and negativity; both had spread like wild fire, and it was a difficult time for anyone to not harbor fear and/or fear-based emotions. I was finding it hard to take at times, and had been feeling pretty helpless and needing to withdraw/refrain from social media and listening to the news on the radio. Any efforts seemed futile in the grand scheme of things, though I was invited to join a couple of Syrian Refugee Sponsorship groups and I did join, and have been working with them in sponsoring some families to come to Canada. It is amazing to see the generosity and team work of people coming together in community, with care and compassion. That has been inspiring! But it has also made me question why there is such a great divide. Why do some people feel compelled to help, and others not? And why do some people choose to help certain groups of people, and not others? These are some of the things I had been pondering in the latter part of 2015; not exactly light and happy thoughts to go out with, but important ones, one could say.
I’ve had some personal disappointments at around this same time and I think that that was the tipping point to burnout and illness. I rarely get anything more than the common cold, though ended up getting some sort of flu that has had a pretty strong grip on my health. Whatever I have been recently struggling with has really made me appreciative for the fact that I rarely get anything more than the common cold! All in all, it was a great year, health-wise: I was able to make weekly videos, perform without any trouble, and work my other jobs. I am looking forward to feeling 100% again! 🙂
I had set out in early 2015 with The Video-a-Week Challenge. I had been wanting to learn Pro Tools since purchasing it in early 2012, though every time I fired it up I became anxious. I didn’t know where to begin! I didn’t even know what to search for on the Internet, because I didn’t know the right lingo and technical terms. So, I would usually shut it down, having gotten nothing done and having wasted a bunch of time. The Video-a-Week challenge kept me focused and excited, and I very gradually learned my way around the basics of Pro Tools. While doing so, I learned more about myself and who I am as an artist. Sometimes I didn’t like what I’d discovered — like my obvious ahead-of-the-beat tendency. But that is part of learning and growing; seeing both strengths and weaknesses, and working on the latter while honing the former. I met some great people that checked-in with me as each video was posted (I miss those weekly interactions)! And I felt really supported by many of my followers (thank you, everyone)! I posted 43 videos throughout the year, and made a few more that I didn’t get around to posting. I learned so much about so many things, and not only that, my efforts in learning Pro Tools paid off in a way that I didn’t anticipate: I got offered a job.
If someone had told me a year ago that by September 2015 I would have a job doing audio editing and podcast publishing, I would have laughed — really hard. But here I am doing just that: editing and publishing audio, right from the same small home studio in which I created the weekly challenge videos. And I love it! It is work that has challenged me, and continues to. AND, I’m getting to be pretty good at it! My clients are all in the health and fitness realm, so the content I edit is really inspiring and packed with facts and advice. It has been a great change in my livelihood, and I’m super grateful that I plugged away and didn’t give up on the challenge when the going got tough, which at times, it certainly did!
Now, let’s see… I had started working on the EP, Chasing Rainbows at the end of 2014, and I finished it up in early 2015, then released it into the world in May. What a journey it is to record and release music… It doesn’t get any easier with time, and each time I make a new recording, I’m surprised by the amount of work. Even though I have gotten more comfortable with the process–and better at it–I am still my harshest critic and easily get wrapped up in both the most minute details and the big picture! It isn’t unlike me to question the importance of a few notes and then in the next breath what wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life. But I always come back to this: I love creating new music, and somehow, despite the many, many hardships involved, I want to keep creating it. I was happy with the finished product Chasing Rainbows, with my favourite tracks from the album being this one and this one. When we lost Robin Williams, I really wanted to learn, arrange and record What a Wonderful World, so I did that, and included it on the EP, as a small tribute to him. (I can’t think of Robin Williams without also thinking of that song, and the movie Good Morning, Vietnam.)
I performed quite a bit throughout 2015, with the highlight being the EP Release Concert in Edmonton. I enjoyed performing with the band, so very much! I hope to do more shows with them! This is an image from the EP Release Concert concert at Convocation Hall. I hadn’t been on that stage since studying at the University of Alberta. And when I last performed there (in the late 90s), the music I was playing was classical piano repertoire. (I didn’t know back then that I would become a singer-songwriter. And I also didn’t know how to play guitar! At that time, I was also extremely shy and had terrible stage fright, and the thought of being a performer would not have entered my mind, I’m sure.) It was absolutely magical to be back on stage at Convocation Hall, and to be performing my original material. It was definitely a highlight to my year.
Shortly after the release of Chasing Rainbows, I attended an Alberta songwriting camp at OCL Studios in Calgary. It was one of the greatest songwriting experiences I’ve had, and I’m so grateful I was among the ten Alberta songwriters selected to attend. We wrote 9 songs in three days. I made some amazing friends and have been making plans to do more co-writing with them. It was a beautiful place to hang out in, and I loved every minute of my time there. 🙂
A little later in the year–in the month of July–I got the AMAZING opportunity to assist at Sound Extractor Studios in Edmonton, on a session with Keith Urban and his bandmates!! (Unbelievable, right???) Well, it really did happen! It was one of the greatest days of 2015 (or maybe my whole life to-date), and I will never forget how classy and kind all of these guys were. I didn’t do much other than answer the door, show people in, prepare snacks, and answer the phone. But, I got to be a fly on the wall while Keith worked. He is incredible, and so are his band members. This really was a great day – one that I won’t forget easily (even with my sub par memory)!
In September of 2015, I entered the All-Albertan Song Contest with a new song that I wrote called “My Sweet Alberta”, and it made it to the Top 6! That was an exciting time for me, and though I didn’t place any higher than Top 6, I got some great feedback on my song, lots of support from my fans, and it was exciting to be part of the contest! If you like, you can listen to “My Sweet Alberta” right here:
In October, I got the new audio editing job! (I trained for the job for part of August and all of September.) In October I also wrote a new new song! (I hope to write more songs like this one.)
In November, I began doing a little bit of work as an accompanist for an adult choir, and so far I love it! I haven’t done any accompanying work for a number of years and it is nice to brush up on my piano playing skills.
In December, I performed at the Royal Alberta Museum Closing Party. The day after the final performance, I got the flu that I am still trying to shake off! I had to cancel a couple of December performances for the first time in my career! Fortunately I have been able to get through my recent ones.
So, with health in mind, I think that I will begin 2016 by making rest a priority. And I also hope to write more. And perform more. And sell more of my music so that I can justify making more of it! And I want to continue to learn about recording, and I’ll probably make some more videos of some sort to help me with that. I also hope to update my website more frequently. 🙂
And these are some smaller, general goals that I also want to focus on:
Get outside and move around in some way, everyday.
Cook something healthy, everyday.
Hug and be kind, everyday.
Spend quality time with my loved ones, everyday.
Write something, even if only a few words, everyday.
Laugh and smile, even if just a little, everyday.
Play music and practice, everyday.
Sketch/draw, just a little, everyday.
I’m wishing all of you, all the very best in 2016!! Whatever it is that makes your heart sore and brings you peace; do that! Time goes by so quickly — it’s important to make the time to do what we love to do.
Thank you for stopping by, and for sharing in this journey called “LIFE” with me!
My best wishes for a very Happy New Year! 2016, here we come!