“To become a chess grand-master also seems to take about ten years. (Only the legendary Bobby Fischer got to that elite level in less than that amount of time: it took him nine years.) And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” Malcolm Gladwell
I’ve been practicing banjo for roughly 1,000 hours, give or take, according to my practice log anyway. According to Malcom Gladwell, I only 9,000 more hours to go before mastering this.
Granted that does not count the 5 minutes here and there when I do a grab and go throughout the day or evening for that matter.
Mathematically speaking, I’m behind on the ten year thing and you know what, I’m okay with that. I’m getting better, I’m having fun and that’s all that matters. I did temporarily allow the fact that I travel too much to commit to lessons to send me into a bit of a funk, and I got over it. I had to if I wanted to play well. And I do want to play well.
I practice during the day when no one is home, or late at night when I can’t sleep. It all counts.
Lack of live lessons is no longer an excuse in today’s world. We have Youtube! Can’t join in on a live jam, find videos you like and play along. I’m practicing back up right now and videos are perfect for that. I choose songs I already know the chord structure to, grab my banjo, fire up my computer and play along. It’s really that simple and the upside, if I screw up and have to start over again — nobody knows. I might be developing a bad habit with that (can’t start over in live jams, you just keep playing), and for now that is okay. The other upside to this approach is I can play a small section over and over again until I’m happy with it.
I even found a way to get around the travel excuse, I bought a second hand banjo and shipped it ahead. I’ll take it out at night sometimes and sit on the back porch and quietly practice my chords formations and rolls.
So here I am in New York, minding my own business when what to my wondering eyes should appear? A comedy Dojo workshop in my little town, led by none other than Chili Challis at the Syracuse Funny Bone.
Chili was one of the judges for a comedy contest way back when. He’d seen me once, maybe twice on stage and I am fairly certain I stunk both times.
Most of you guys remember that story. Little old still struggling with stage fright, had only played open mics at bars up until this point ME,drove her shaking butt 15 hours to Indiana to put it all out there in front of the pros. If you guys recall, that was the show where I was told to never EVER do comedy again. Give it up, find something else – go do movies or something. And that was just my first night. I had to do TWO more sets after that. Good Golly Miss Molly.
That was also the time when my car got stolen upon returning home and learned if you are a comic, no one including the local police will ever believe your car was actually stolen and not repossessed.
Saving Grace to that whole week was one lone comic from NY who called bullshit on my entire set. I’d bought into this “I’m nobody special” lie and it really came through on stage. He saw it. He also saw a funny, beautiful woman behind the fear as well as potential and told me to go home, reevaluate not only my set, but my belief system. And I did.
I spent 14 months with a broken leg and took my entire set and beliefs about myself back to the studs and started over.
I remembered Chili from the contest. One because he looks like Jerry Garcia and is funny as heck and two his words were far more kind and I took them to heart.
“We all have bad nights, do this as long as you want to, whether you go pro or wind up with a really cool story for your grand-kids, it doesn’t matter. This is one of the scariest jobs on the planet. The fact that you got up there, says a lot.”
I’m back performing in Tulsa between trips to NY and my new voice feels more right than ever. When the notice for a dojo led by Chili came across my Facebook feed, I jumped on it. Tuesday night close to a dozen want to be comics met at the Funny Bone, we shared parts of our sets, worked out kinks, gave each other advice and got to know each other.
On Wednesday night we ALL came back for a show case, including three people who’d never done a live show before. Their courage fueled mine. Chili hosted the night and Thaddeus Challis headlined. They were hilarious and they made it fun for us, which translated to us having fun on stage and made an enjoyable evening for the crowd.
That’s how it’s supposed to work, and most of the time it does.
While it’s true the world is full of egos, there are those who reach out, reach back, and give a hand up. Comics are some of the most generous people you will meet. They are generous with praise, encouragement, and laughter.
You don’t have to be a comic to be generous and kind, you can do that in your every day life.
What dreams do you have?
They don’t have to be something as scary as public speaking, they can be anything. Why not try. You may succeed, or you may wind up with a really cool story to tell your grand kids.
My girlfriend and I are going to see Mark Lowry this weekend at First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa. There are still tickets available and if you want to come, click on the photo below for more information. Hope to see you guys there! And yes, for those who know my history with Mark Lowry concerts, I am stopping off at the hairdresser BEFORE I go to the concert. No more senior citizen fliers for this chic.
FCC DISCLAIMER: No goods or services have been given in exchange for this endorsement. A lot of my readers are fans and I wanted to share concert information. I am not associated with Mr. Lowry in any way, shape or form.
Oh sweet mercies the roads I have traveled these last two years.
Ups and downs.
Joys and disappointments.
I will say this isn’t my usual kind of post. At least not of late. Not that I’ve posted much lately, but you know. I meant to. Being distracted by a side dish of crazy makes it really difficult to write anything that matters.
Yes, you read that right. I haven’t been writing because I got distracted by my own crazy. I can’t write that so and so will be upset. I can’t write about this because that will upset someone else. I can’t write about….
I’m in a new writer’s group and it’s time to break this cycle, take off my water wings and swim again.
There are also some things you should know about me if you are new around here: I cuss some times, I’ve been known to drink whiskey on occasion and while I’m considered a bleeding heart liberal here in the bible belt, the truth is I’m really more of a moderate. I do love horses and cycling, I’m just banned from both until my broken leg finishes healing. I love rockin open comedy mics, I play banjo for fun and believe it or not, I am really happy you are here.
I’m not going to tell you how to get everyone to like you (you can’t) or how to be a better Lutheran, I left the Lutheran church three years ago, which is when this whole mess started so you know. I’m not even going to tell you how to be a better wife. As for gardening, well… that’s what nurseries are for so go find a master gardener and have a ball.
I want to have fun writing again. So this is just me raw, mildly edited and hopefully offering a side dish of humor.
I’ve been through a lot of changes over the last few years. Some great, some notsomuch, but changes all the same.
I am going to tell you the cold hard truth that some people won’t be happy with your changes, your choices, or even your hair. And I am here to tell you that you will not die from that. And I know that because I didn’t.
I’m writing this because there are several of us in my new writing group who have faced this same dilemma. They feel alone like I once did. Together we are sharing our stories in hopes they find their way to other women like us. The hope is to be an encouragement for those who are afraid they are too much. Too loud. Too smart. Too outside of the lines for humanity.
We aren’t lone rangers. We are women who care about other women. May our strength become yours.
My blog did great in 2012 and then something unthinkable happened. The very people I believed would be excited for me, weren’t and I got upset by that. Not just a little upset either. Think literally shake whenever I met someone new upset. Super sweet oh please be my new best friend, upset. Mad at you to the point I thought my skull would burst and still not say a word about it so that you will still like me upset. Obsess over every nuance, phrase or contact to see where I stand on everyone’s “HOW MUCH I LIKE DEANA TODAY” Chart upset.
We are talking full frontal crazy my friends.
There were those who told me I needed to repent of all this dreaming about writing a book and doing stand up comedy and just go back to being small so that they could be comfortable with their own choices. I hate to admit it, but I may very well have given in to the pressure at least for a little while. I lost my voice. I got scared. I almost let my blog die and clung instead to the tattered shreds of their garments hoping they’d like me again. It was nauseating.
I didn’t even realize it was jealousy. I started thinking that maybe I really did deserve being the one to bring cookies to funerals and nothing more. Maybe they were right. Maybe that was the only thing I really deserved. After all, I must be an awful person if they are reacting so violently.
I even considered releasing my first book under a pseudonym so that I wouldn’t lose any more friends. Or worse, not writing it at all.
I wish I could change those two years, but I can’t. All I can do is learn from it and move on.
It never occurred to me that jealousy was behind it all. Not once. Here’s the deal, there will be people who will be jealous of you. Impossible you say? Nope. Gonna happen so get ready.
Someone finally put it this way. You put a bunch of male lobsters in a pot of boiling water and they will help each other climb out. Put a bunch of female lobsters in a pot, they’ll pull each other back in. Don’t get pulled back in!
Yes we’re taught to play nice and be relational, but the truth is you can’t nice jealousy away. Allowing another person’s opinion of you to become your problem is no solution.
Let it go, trust your gut and follow your heart.
Do you remember that comedy judge who called bullshit on my set two years ago saying “if this is what you believe about yourself, someone lied to you.” and then told me to go find the real me and bring it next year? Yeah well — turns he was right. I did believe those things and someone DID lie.
The biggest lie I remember being told – It’s your fault if other women reject you.
Can I tell you a secret?
My Facebook friends list used to include women I know hate me. Crazy right? Do you know why? I thought if they got to know me — the “real” me (as if FB is ever real) and saw all the stuff my husband and I did, they might eventually like me.
You know what?
What a colossal waste of my time.
If I knew then what I know now I’d tell you to hang in there. It gets better. I promise. I hung in there long enough to learn that not all women are petty and fearful and rejection isn’t always caused by anything I did or didn’t do. Being uber sweet and playing small won’t help. Let’s face it, I bet there are women out there that hate Maryann from Gilligan’s Island. Even Ginger was jealous of her – remember that? Now who hates Maryann? People do.
Sometimes rejection is 100% about the insecurity of the other woman. There are women who see someone they deem beautiful and the walls instantly go up and the teeth come out.
I remember being blindsided by a cat fight a many years ago while getting ready to sing in a local presentation of The Messiah. It was my first year, and I was afraid.
“Oh wow a leopard print dress in The Messiah, how appropriate.”
“It’s not leopard, it’s wood grain. My friend made it for me.”
Insert eye roll and huff as she walks away.
All I remember about her is she was a pastor’s wife and a friend of a friend. She’d been at the same retreats I had. I liked her right up until that moment.
This was right before we headed upstairs to start the program. I started hyperventilating and someone grabbed my hand and stood there with me until I caught my breath. Not that his fiance’ appreciated that either though. Even so, I didn’t care and I was thankful for the kindness.
See the problem is, I didn’t realize yet that I hadn’t done anything wrong.
It would be wonderful if I could tell you I was in high school when this happened. I wasn’t. I was 34 and miss indignant was in her 40’s.
So here’s the deal girlfriend. Being nice isn’t going to fix this.You can’t nice someone out of jealousy. I know because I’ve tried. It makes you look icky. Really it does. That plus it’s just pathetic.
Catty women know no age limit and I want you to remember something. The right women will like you no matter what so to hell with the catty and insecure ones who need you to play small.
Did you hear me?
I know that sounds harsh — and it sounds harsh because you are still hanging onto the false hope that the woman who gives you grief, who bullies you, lies about you, whatever will finally like you if you just try hard enough. I’m ripping that band aid of denial right off of your heart. I do know the more spiritual answer is to let them go with love and leave them to God. That’s great but I know you. I know me. If we sugar coat this, we’ll have the false hope that they’ll come to their senses.
It’s just not going to happen. Let’s accept that and move on.
Put this on your refrigerator if you have to.
You are beautiful.
You are smart.
You are brave.
You are a child of God.
You do not have to play small around women who matter. The right women will encourage you to grow bigger and stronger along with them. Trust me on this.
Print this picture out and post it on your bathroom mirror. You are beautiful. Own it like you mean it. Be brave sweet girl.