Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Musings: what can happen at a gig

Most of you know I sing in a duo called Sugartime at retirement communities, nursing homes, special luncheons, etc. Our audience is made up of seniors, ages 60-90. Friday, we performed at a retirement community with a small somewhat older population. Every time the music would start on a song, this one resident would start moving in her chair to the music, then get up, come right up to our microphones, stand with her back to the audience (right in front of us) and dance and sing. It was quite a bit disconcerting, but then I found myself thinking: That could be me. If I were much older and not fully "with it" mentally and I heard music, I wouldn't be able to sit still either. And I'd probably want to be right up there with whoever was performing. Still, I couldn't engage with her, as my partner, Rosie, did. Rosie just included her in whatever we were doing.

We both had the same thought independently. This isn't about us going to these places and "performing". This is about us going to these places and bringing joy. And if this woman got joy from getting up in our faces and singing and dancing, so be it. I have some spiritual work to do to get to the place Rosie got to by engaging with her. Not that I don't engage with our audiences. I do. But with this woman, I couldn't And that's okay for today. We can only do the best we can do in any given moment. I'm not judging myself, which is a small miracle.

How about you?

P.S. Today is the day everyone who knew Tina Downey is honoring her memory with sunflowers. I did not know Tina, but whenever we lose someone from the community, it affects us all. I am sorry for the loss of Tina to all who knew and loved her.


Denise Covey said...

Karen, you brought joy to that lovely lady. No doubt she was transported back in time. What a great thing to do.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Karen--So generous of you to think of your performances this way. I know that your gig was the highlight of her day...and probably her week or month, too.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Karen this shows how huge your heart is - not that I didn't already know that :)

Mason Canyon said...

Karen, even if you couldn't engage with her as Rosie did, you realized how important that time was for the lady. That's a gift. To know you brought joy to this lady for that time. Wonderfully done.

Karen Walker said...

Denise, yes, being reminded that's why Sugartime does what it does was huge.
Elizabeth, wish I had taken a picture of her face - oure joy!
Keith, thank you, sweetie
Mason, it was a gift - thank you.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You aren't performing, you are sharing and involving. Since my band does praise and worship music, I see people get up and dance all the time, and it's really motivating.

Karen Walker said...

Alex, I get that now - it took this woman to help me really understand what I was doing.

Jennifer Chandler said...

Just being there, being present, and giving that woman music and a place to dance was enough! I understand; I've never been able to just embrace things like that and "go with the flow". I'm thankful for the "Rosies" in my life who can. They teach us a lot!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

You brightened her day. Isn't that why you perform?

jaybird said...

I can relate to your thoughts here. I do some volunteering with youth/elderly, through church. Once, I had to do a bit of convincing to get a reluctant young volunteer to come to our nursing home ministry. This kid confessed to being a little afraid. some of the patients were sick, mentally and physically and this frightened her. (The elderly usually LOVE it when we bring the Youth Group to cheer them up) I told her that the patients love it when we come. Just wait and see. As soon as we walked into the room, one of the elderly ladies, pushed her wheel chair right up to the girl that was afraid, and grabbed her by her arm!! Then she screamed in her face "I should kill you." Let me tell you, I had a VERY hard time (1) forgiving that crazy old lady (2) calming down the poor teen that was now justifiably terrified!!!

I learned, from that incident on, when entering the nursing home, expect the unexpected! LOL

Eva Prokop said...

What a great story! I have worked in the hospital as a dietary aid, and some of the elderly patients do some bizarre and unexpected things..when a musician comes in to entertain, most of them love it. A few can't stand 'the racket', but most get into it. I've seen a few patients get up and do what this lady did...and you know, I've seen bands that were so good (not in the hospital) I've gotten up to dance myself, when no one else was dancing! Mind you, I didn't get up in their faces...but still...the potential is there, and one day, I know that will be me!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. makes so much sense doesn't it .. letting her join in - difficult as you both want to do your session ... but I'm sure you've made a member of the audience very happy ..

Cheers Hilary

Carol Kilgore said...

There's a whole lot of good to be said for bringing joy to even one person. Revel in it, and be proud.

Karen Walker said...

Jennifer, I'm thankful for the Rosie's, too.
Diane, yes, but I didn't get that it's not about performing!!
jaybird, oh my goodness, how awful for that young teen. So sorry they had such a bad experience.
Eva, thanks for sharing this. Made me smile.
Hilary, I know we did!
Carol, thanks - I am.

Jemi Fraser said...

I think I would have initially been totally thrown off my game by the woman! But I'm glad you both handled it and everyone enjoyed. Well done :)

Arlee Bird said...

When we're dealing with the public, the unexpected can happen and the skill of improv can help.

Tossing It Out

Julie Flanders said...

I can imagine this was disconcerting but how wonderful that you brought such joy to this lady.