My newest Ukelele addition

My newest Ukelele addition

Honestly, I love making music. I found it has become my greatest, most therapeutic outlet. I taught myself to pick up Luis, the newest addition to my Strings family (Fender, Eugene, and Luis) whenever I’m feeling the desire. The key was teaching myself to pick up the strings whenever I’m stressed out or bummed. Whenever I feel lost, alone, or overwhelmed, I’ve ingrained it within me to pick up the strings, give it a strum of the chord and see where it leads. Often, it helps me refocus my attention away from whatever was bogging down my mind onto calming, freeing chords.

I’ve been approached a few times to play the ukulele in front of others but I am highly self-conscious and scared. I play for my own benefit, for my own wellbeing, safely away in my own apartment. I’m not nearly good enough to share with others! I’ll be judged! I’ll be criticized! There are others who are so much more advanced.

Every morning, I sit by my computer and work on a drawing. I usually have random TED Talks playing on YouTube, talking in my ear as I work. Recently, the video “The First 20 hours, how to learn Anything” by Josh Kaufman popped up automatically. Josh Kaufman’s voice educated and entertained me, but it wasn’t until he said “And so, I decided to pick up the Ukelele” that my head turned toward the screen.

And no, he was not a professional. And no! He wasn’t super-skilled or super-confident about his skills. But what I marveled most about him was his ability to share where he was, in the learning process, at that moment. He didn’t apologize for not being the best. He encouraged it. If we see steps, if we see the progress or hear of the progress someone went through when developing a new skill, it can inspire us in our own lives to go out and get’ er’ done!

Carla Fleming is a woman I am helping to organize her business and home (I’ve mentioned her before). She is a Certified High Performance Coach and music teacher. We got to talking recently and she learned that I play the ukelele. She asked if I’d like to play in front of others for an upcoming event. (Cue this internal reaction) Shy and nervous at the prospect, I declined, knowing– no assuming– I’m not good enough to be seen yet. But ya know what? I won’t be comfortable in my skills until I take that step. Playing by myself is wonderful, but sharing something that makes me incredibly happy regardless of how “good” I am at it would help everybody around. I’m doing something I love that helps me feel connected to myself and to the ground. If others can see that connection, perhaps I can inspire them to do the same. I am my worst critic, and it prevents me from even taking that step. Seriously. It’s just a step.

Earlier today, an old friend of mine from High School posted a video of herself singing to the camera. She put herself out there because she was doing something she loved and wanted to share. I see a lot of my friends from high school, doing the same thing. All of us were in choir and in theatre together (Yes, I’m a huge Theatre Nerd!) It’s all for fun. I’m sure they worry about how people will view their videos, or judge their voice, but they’re doing it! They’re pushing past those insecurities and building that confidence. Exposure therapy.

Take their advice, Susie.

So Here I am.

I decided to leave this video unedited. It shows me, nervously approaching that intimidating stool! Second-guessing myself, thinking about how my long necklaces are hitting into the ukulele while I play, wondering how I look, overthinking whether or not I should be looking directly into the camera or off into the distance. But damn it, Here I Am.

I manage to find my groove, punctuated by wrong notes and a phlemy throat. But Damn it, Here I Am! I survived, I shared.

And I feel relieved.

Because I’ve accepted it’s not perfect, and I’ve decided it feels better to laugh about it and continue to grow, than to smack myself in the head and ignore the progress I have made.

*Phew! It’s not so bad, right?

So what do you love? What would you LOVE to share with others? What are you excited to talk about and connect with people about? I bet you someone out there wants to know.

I mean, I’m here, and I want to know!

So go on, tell me a story!