Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Disappointing Last Hurrah.


One of the things you may not know about me is that I am a singer.  I have been singing for as long as I remember and it's one of my favorite things.  It is also one of the things that I do best next to writing and believe it or not, sometimes I even get paid to do it!  I love all types of music and I have tried my hand at everything from straight up rock to hard core gospel.  My all time favorite artists are Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles.  Yes - you heard right. Ella and the Fab Four. I also love Frank Sinatra and John Legend. 

Although I sing all types of music, my bed and butter so to speak is Christian and inspirational music.  I have consistently been singing in church in one form of another for almost 20 years.  It has been a long career from which I am retiring.  I am at the point in my life where I know that my dream isn't to be a famous singer, and when I record my CD, it will be for the benefit of my friends and family. From now on, it will be about the fun of singing.  I am making space to focus on what I truly feel "called" to which is my writing and speaking.

Sunday was my last day of my formal "career" singing for the church I also co-founded. It was my last hurrah, my shining moment, my final blaze of glory.  We were celebrating our 4th Anniversary and had many visitors as well as an internationally known guest speaker.  When I woke up that morning, I was excited and raring to go. I hummed my solo as I showered, fixed the kids breakfast, and drove to church.  I was still "Ready Freddy" as the guests arrived and the welcome and introductions were made.  I and my singing partner led the congregation in two songs that were not that great, but I still felt pretty good knowing my solo presentation was coming. I waited patiently to be called to the podium and after reaching the front, I gave a moving (or so I thought) introduction and started my song.  My friend, our Pastor had recommended the song.  It was in my key, was my style and the words resonated deeply with me.  In singing lingo, "I was going to tear it up!" 

Surprisingly my voice was shaky and tired. I messed up the syncopation and phrasing, and flubbed the words...big time.  In my mind, the more I sang, the worse I sang. The only reason why I know I didn't completely suck is because several people complimented me on my performance.  I assume they were not least not all of them. It didn't matter, I knew I was terrible.  However, I took the compliments with a nod and a smile. 

Suck or no suck - I was disappointed. Actually, I was crushed.  I could barely think about anything else for the remainder of the service and almost felt like crying as I ate my two pieces of reception cake.  My husband kept trying to make me feel better by making jokes and reminding me that "it was all right".  He wasn't there to hear my disaster - he had his own musical gig at another church.  I wish he was there because although my husband is my biggest fan  - he is completely honest.  Real musicians, whether married or not - do not lie to each other.  There is no, "Oh baby - you were GREAT!", but what he does provide is truthful productive insight, which I wish he was there to give.  It took me hours to get over my disappointment. Let me confess, it took me over 72 hours. What's worse the song has been stuck in my head since.  It is now Wednesday. 

I realize that my disappointment was so great because I felt so prepared and so ready!  So to go from such a "high" to such a "low" in one fell swoop was hard.  I could not understand  - could not wrap my head around how I could have messed up soooo badly on something I was so excited and confident about.  To make matter's worse, Monday I received a rejection from a publication. It's not my first rejection, but it was a rejection of a piece that was very important to me.  The disappointment was also greater coming right on the tails of my singing fiasco.  It all made me wonder if I performed better when I was ambivalent.  Why is it when I feel good about my work or excited and prepared I feel like I fail, and other times I throw it together and it's the cat's meow?  I don't have the answer to that. 

It's amazing how when we are not diligent in protecting ourselves, one relatively small disappointment can spiral into something that permeates so much more. I went from questioning my singing talent to my writing to my parenting skills.  One bad song turned into my being a horrible mom.  It is a testament that once the self bashing starts - its a slippery slope to unreasonable self-criticism.

Today is Wednesday, I am back in my right mind. I realize that it was one song in a line of several hundred. Some good, some bad, some awful.  Even Whitney Houston has had her share of vocal issues - so if "The Voice" can keep plugging away in front of millions of people, I can get over a bomb in front of - well significantly less. Although I have officially retired from the ministry of singing, I haven't given up singing entirely.  I couldn't do that anymore than I could give up my marriage or my beautiful children.  Even those years where I stopped writing for myself and was feeling lost and uncertain of who I was, I still sang.  It was the only form of true self expression I had left.  I am simply making room for what I need to focus on during this season of my life.  I will still have plenty of opportunity to redeem myself.  However, this experience did make me realize that although disappointment happens to everyone, I still have some work to do ensuring that I keep a healthy perspective when I have to face it first hand.


  1. oh i am sorry that happened..but I am sure it was alright.. THings like this happen... its been too long since I performed anything but I am sure I did something like that too...

    well actually the one and only time i sang that did happen

  2. I'm sorry CJ - thats happened to me too. So disappointing when you work hard for something. I am glad you have a healthy outlook to it - it's just hard when you experience these things!

  3. Living up to our own expectations can be the hardest task of all. We, be it singer or writer, are our own worst critic, and taking your work to heart makes the disappointment all the worse. However, even with such falls, never allow yourself to quit. Quitting is the true failure. Grab yourself by the suspenders, give yourself a firm shake and tell yourself to buck up and do better next time.

  4. Don't beat yourself up too much although, I know it is easier said than done. I do it too often myself.

  5. "It is a testament that once the self bashing starts - its a slippery slope to unreasonable self-criticism."

    So true. This is something I'm always working on. It's the black cloud syndrome. If one thing goes wrong, we see a black cloud over everything.

    I think it's OK for you to be disappointed at first, as long as you don't stay in that place and you didn't.

    By the way, had to give you a blog award. I just had to! ;-)

  6. Listen, you should record a CD for your family and friends- and blog readers, would love to hear it. I have a pretty voice, nothing special but I love to sing and it brings me joy. My kids love it when I sing them to bed. Do it for the joy of it. Don't worry about anything more. I am sure most people heard you and thought-I could never do that!

  7. Aysha & Swati - thank you for your words. I think I can safely say I am "over it". But it is nice to have a sympathetic ear.

    Anna and Girl Next Door - I tell so many of the women I speak with not to beat themselves up and to keep going. Sometimes you need to hear it for yourself. I am going to keep on "keepin" on. And I am learning not to judge myself too harshly.

    GG - Thanks for the Award - how sweet -especially after I had such a stinky few days.

    Get Real Mommy - my husband told me that several people told him how great it was. So I know it was not nearly as bad as I think. But I can tell you excatly where it all went downhill for me - when I stopped having fun! Thanks - your words have actually provided me with the answer I was looking for. I wanted to know why things work out when I am more "ambivalent". Actually its not amblivalence - its the fact that I am having fun and not caring what others think. Once I became hell bent on my last blaze of glory - it kinda went south. THANKS!

    You guys are a great sounding board for all my self therapy. Thanks!


  8. Thanks for sharing and its nice to see the strength of another woman... very inspiring!

    I'm your newest follower from MBC

  9. What a moving essay. I'm sorry for your disappointment, but I love what came out of it and your reflections were beautiful and inspiring. I'm not a singer, but I am a writer. And as you know, this comes with pounds and pounds of rejection. The more you seek to publish and get your work out there, the more rejection you must face head on. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes, it just rolls right off my shoulders. Others, it buries itself deep inside my heart and as you mentioned, it causes me to question everything I do. I'm glad to know I am not alone in this, although I am sorry that other people like yourself also experience this same kind of self-doubt. Thank you for sharing of yourself so honestly. Every time I read your posts, I feel inspired. xoxoxoxo

  10. Organic Motherhood - Rejection and disappointment are things we all struggle with. Like you said, sometimes it rolls of your back, other days it just stays. And for us "creative types" if we are not careful, it has the potential to stop us in our tracks. Thanks for your words.


  11. I agree with whatever one has already told you. These things happen. Whatever doesn't break you makes you stronger. I'm sure you'll knock it out next time. Your newest follower from MBC.

  12. Isis - how true! Next time I will have fun, not worry about my audience and "knock it out".

    Thanks for the follow!

    Rose Thanks for the follow. I will be checking out your blogs soon.

  13. You just been awarded the versatile blogger award. visit to claim it

  14. Disappointment sucks. And we are always especially hard on ourselves. Just keep roking on!

  15. Thank you Johanna! Great blog by the way.

    Scarlet - my sentiments excatly!

  16. Ugh, no surprise, I've so been here. This is when you wish your hobbies were fishing and watching football. Not things that you pour your heart and soul into and then end up agonizing over for days (although I'm sure there are some anglers and football junkies who'd disagree with me on this). Anyway, you're a kick-ass writer. Which leads me to believe you're also a kick-ass mom and singer. And I don't know who turned down your piece, but they're idiots (I'm going to be the friend who calls your naysayers bad names).

  17. Partly Sunny,
    Now that was funny. You know what, I am a kick-ass singer! There I said it! It just so happens on that day the song was the thing kickin' ass. And I don't have to tell you who went home with a sore behind that day. I can safely say I am over my trauma. I even caught myself singing the song without having a flashback. Hopefully no more PTSS

    PTSS - Post Traumatic Singing Syndrome.