Several of you have shared incredibly touching stories with me, and I’d like to start sharing some of them with you. This story is told by Julie Clark Shubert, a funny, talented woman with a fascinating story. It’s all about how she “powered up” during a difficult time. If you want to find Julie and her music, find her at www.allthingsjulie.com. A couple of other links and a fun video by Julie are found at the end of the article.
If you would like to have your story shared, just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I found myself turning fifty. I’m not really sure how that happened; it didn’t seem so very long ago that I was sitting in class at Ellis Elementary School, dreaming about running off with David Cassidy in the Partridge Family bus.
The day I turned fifty I panicked and developed a bucket list that consisted of two items: 1) learn to tap dance, and 2) learn how to play the electric guitar.
I had never held a guitar, but I had played one in my head my whole life. I listened to all genres of music as I raised my four kids. I danced with them, sang with them and used the music to bring me happiness as I drove a million miles back and forth to flute lessons, soccer games, and theater camp. I was caught in Minivan hell.
I was stunned when I unwrapped my 50th birthday present from my husband Gary. In the corner of our living room stood a sleeping bag, apparently of its own power. I thought it was weird, but it also piqued my curiosity. I lifted up the bag and found a Fender Stratocaster. I didn’t know much about electric guitars, only the music they made, but I did recognize a Fender Strat. I named her Stacy and I fell in love with every inch of her. She was majestic in all her blondness and she smelled like rock’n roll.
I assumed that just holding her would bring out my inner Jimmy Hendrix. Not so much. In fact the sounds I made sounded like something was dying in my arms. Stacy was too beautiful to torture. Guitar lessons were in order.
As I tried out different guitar teachers, I discovered that menopause had changed me. When I was younger I had facilitated everyone’s life and dreams, my own life taking a back seat; but apparently when my estrogen disappeared, so did the seating arrangement. I had no patience with people who called themselves teachers but who were actually guitar players. I demanded that this experience be about me, not someone else’s broken dreams.
What complicated things was that I had started to write my own songs, waking up with music in my head that demanded release. My fifty years of life experiences mixed with all the music I had ever heard had somehow morphed into songs. I would hear a melody in my head and I would chase it with chords, then lyrics would start to pour out. I was writing music that was too complicated for me to play with three chords so I started practicing constantly. And I became the mamma bear of my songs.
I adamantly rejected the guitar teachers who wanted to make my music about them. I felt a great responsibility for the music I had birthed and had a resolve to nurture my songs, performing them in a way that would allow them to develop into their potential.
This meant that I would have to play my songs in front of people. I consider myself as a person who sings, not a singer, and I had not sung in front of people except in church choir. But I was excelling at playing the guitar. And I loved it; man did I love it. I spent hours every day playing. For months I tried to play the F chord — I called it the F’n chord — but when I finally conquered it, I felt like I could do anything. So when the time came to play my first house concert, or make a studio CD, or develop a website, or make a video I would always remind myself that it’s just a F chord.
And through this journey, I discovered that as people we are never defined. I had no idea that there was a singer songwriter guitar player gestating inside of me all those years, and that one day I would play a song and someone would come up to me and say Thank you, that song was written for me.
Because I wrote them to discover my possibilities, but, somehow, that gift became another person’s answer. And that’s the miracle of our untapped possibilities.