Monday, February 9, 2015

Grammy Lessons and Granny's Lesson

For the audio version of Grammy Lessons on SoundCloud click HERE.

One the heels of last night's Grammys, I revisited this story from a year ago and found its message even more vital. Here's my Granny's lesson inspired by Jessi Alexander's Grammy lesson.

On Grammy Sunday 2014 reporter and singer/songwriter Peter Cooper wrote of Nashville songwriter Jessi Alexander's journey of "giving up" after a string of disappointments and losses including a lost record deal, the death of her mother and a Grammy nomination that was taken away through no fault of her own.

Sitting outside at a San Francisco restaurant, Ms. Alexander says she "gave up."  In Peter's words, "She decided to write songs every day, to focus on present moments rather than future fictions."  Giving up ultimately brought about a deeper satisfaction than living with the pressure of the music industry machine. And giving up ultimately led to two Grammy nominations for co-writing "I Drive Your Truck" and "Mine Would Be You." 

I have at times resisted giving up and at others have given up repeatedly.  In our masculine, doing-oriented, warrior culture, giving up is often associated with being weak and a failure.

This singer/songwriter's "Grammy Lessons" reminded me of my Granny's Lesson.

My grandmother as I remember her was more quiet then talkative.  Yet for some reason, Granny told me she quit singing late in life and as a result she lost her singing voice. In retrospect I wish I had asked her to tell me more about why she quit singing. I don't recall the specifics nor do I recall my age when she told me this. What I do distinctly recall is my being the one singing as she and I jointly held the hymnal in church. And I remember Granny's lesson to me as she said,

"If you don't use it, you loose it." 

She said this in relation to her singing voice and it stuck with me. My grandmother quit singing.  She gave up.

Granny and I around 1980 
Granny's lesson is true for one's voice, whether singing or speaking, as well as the body's muscle mass and the brains cognitive abilities. Gyms are abundant for the former while the internet is filled with brain-related studies, videos and games for the later.

There is a greater truth of which Granny wasn't aware.  She didn't know and I didn't know to tell her that just because she lost it didn't mean she couldn't recover her singing voice again.  It may not have been Grammy-worthy but that's not the point. The point would have been to sing.

Which is what I did one day a couple of weeks ago.  From out of the blue, I heard myself belting out, "Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong. It doesn't' matter if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear just sing, sing a song."

I smiled as this song came from out of the blue. I suspect my grandmother was smiling too because this song came from my heart and that's what really matters.

Jessi Alexander found profound beauty upon giving up and and I would add going in.  I suspect this young woman went inside herself in order to ask the hard questions, then listen, really listen to the answers that came on that San Francisco street.

Giving up and going in - both require the ability to be with the tension of asking what it is that I am on the verge of loosing if I don't use it - whatever "it" is.  "It" may be as simple and profound as loosing the spirit of empathy and kindness by gradually and over time not extending oneself to others. "It" may be responding in tense times with one's truth without judgement and aggression or fear and reactivity.

Whatever "it" is for you (and it may be more than one thing), the world needs what you are loosing and more importantly you, I suspect need "it."

Personally I am regularly on the verge of loosing my voice, my spirit and imagination and I find these things again and again through encounters usually unexpected with people, those I know and strangers, and through Nature.

My voice may not be Grammy worthy, but I'm certain it's Granny- worthy and in my world that's what counts.

What are you on the verge of loosing through forgetting, not practicing or lack of awareness?

Imagine the Shift of finding It and using It again!  

-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 19 February 2014
re-posted 9 February 2015

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