Friday, April 6, 2012

High Fashion: Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Back in my little hometown of East Greenwich, RI, I sit here thinking. It's usually on these occasions when I'm home that I have a little more free time than I do while I'm back in New York in my usual grind mode trying to squeeze more hours into the day than what actually exist. I've been working overtime lately to get my music heard in as many places as possible. I've been joined recently by new supporters and fans, and sponsors looking to get on board with the movement I've begun to create with my music. I consider myself abundantly blessed. Everyday I wake up and I move towards the direction of my dreams. There is not a day that goes by that I'm not proactively working towards making my dreams come into fruition. I'm relentless in my pursuit with no signs of slowing down.
I performed at New Rochelle Jazz Festival a couple weeks ago. A friend and one of my biggest fans, Jo Porty, had stopped by the show and told me to come by Post Road Ale House where she had booked another singer/ song writer, Jason Gisser. At the Jazz Fest, I had a great time performing some original tunes to my backing tracks then took the stage with The Brian Carter Trio to perform "Fever," one of my all time favorites to sing. When the show ended, I found myself sitting at the bar at Post Road Ale House sipping on club soda, trying to find the energy to stick around for a bit to enjoy the great sounds of Jason. Despite the fact I really enjoyed his music, I was bordering on exhaustion. I've been averaging about 4-5 hours of sleep and it was starting to catch up with me.
Jo introduced my to a lively girl at the bar, Joy K, whose energy and enthusiasm were initially overwhelming in my dreary state. She's also a singer/ song writer, as well as a cancer survivor and mother. I went up and sang "Back With You" with Jason who was so gracious to let me take a few minutes of his gig to perform my music. After I sang, I sat back down and chatted more with Joy, who was still full of all the energy I was trying to find within myself that night. She told me about her battle with cancer and her background in music.
Eventually and inevitably, our conversation transitioned into matters of faith. Joy is Wiccan and started to share with me some of what that means. She also began to share with me some words of inspiration about my musical journey. She advised me that I'm going to make it and to not give up...something I really needed to hear on that particularly exhausting day. She also shared with me the importance of being transparent about my journey...more specifically, to wear my heart of my sleeve. I listened as tears ran down my face.
As most of you already know, I'm a positive person. Despite any challenges, I focus on the good and find the blessings in every situation. After living out of my car for four months, that was a large part of how I survived and overcame that situation. I believe that being happy and positive is a choice that we make everyday.
So I find myself once again in Rhode Island, sitting in a Starbucks that I only knew as a bank growing up here in East Greenwich. I sit in this bank-turned-coffee-shop and realize all the changes that have taken place since I once lived here over 10 years ago. Last night I got into one of the only arguments I've ever gotten into with my brother. Our argument was about my dream and about my objectives in living out my dream.
But to get into why this argument happened in the first place, I find it necessary to give you further background. I recently got a phone call from my father telling me that my parents were being forced to sell their home, the home my parents have lived in my entire life. My father stayed on the phone with me and proceeded to tell me, "I'm f@*ked. I've worked 70 hours a week, holidays, weekends, and overtime and now I have nothing to show for it. I can't even afford buy another house after we sell it." To clarify, my mother is a manic depressive who has created many financial obstacles due to her mental illness. In all fairness, I've done my fair share of contributing to the financial issues of my family, needing help with student loan payments and car insurance since I'm not working a traditional job with a steady income. I sat there on the phone with my father and pleaded with him to stay positive and believe in my dream, believe in all the hard work I'm putting into this, and believe that I'm going to be able to repay my family for all they've helped me with throughout the years.
Going back to the argument that I had with my brother last night, I was telling him about everything I have going on in New York and how I can feel the momentum building. I told him that I just prayed that I would have a breakthrough soon so I could help my parents. This is where the breaking point came. He told me that as an artist, I should EXPECT to be broke for the rest of my life and to not live to help my parents, or anyone else for that matter. I was livid and standing there defending something I have given everything inside me to make happen.I stood there with tears streaming down my face...not because I was sad or had given up hope in my dream, but because I realized how misunderstood I am by the people who I'm closest to.
Most of my immediate family can not even fathom the dream I have in my heart. I realized there are strangers that have known me for 5 minutes that have more faith in my dream than my own family. It's a hard pill to swallow. This journey is already a relatively lonely one...and that's before the realization that your family isn't really on board.
I sit here in my hometown, one of the smallest towns in the smallest state in the country, and realize that my responsibility is great, my dream is giant, and my work ethic is the only thing that's bigger than even both of these. I know this and believe this...even if no one else does. And while yes, my dream is for me, first and foremost, it is also for my family and for everyone who has been with me on this journey. I have inspired others in this pursuit and countless others have inspired and motivated me. This has become so much bigger than just me. This is for that you know you can do anything you set your mind and heart to with enough hard work and dedication.
If you've seen pictures of me performing, you know I'm usually wearing a dress or a skirt and a pair of stilettos. Today, I also add to my style a new fashion heart on my sleeve.