Several months ago, my sister loaned me her copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Through her research, Rubin attempted to create a formula for happiness and became aware of what many people miss in their pursuits:
I searched for the missing concept - was it striving? Advancement? Purpose? Hope? None of these words seemed right. Then I thought of a line from William Butler Yeats. "Happiness," wrote Yeats, "is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." Contemporary researchers make the same argument: that it isn't goal attainment but the process of striving after goals - that is, growth - that brings happiness.
I came across this passage during silent free reading time in my classroom this spring. Because of how powerfully it resonated with me, I had to pause in my reading to process what I read. In that moment, I knew I was ready for this change. Despite what I love about teaching, the mental, physical, and emotional requirements of being a good teacher forced me to compromise what I wanted to do with my personal life. It felt restrictive, limiting my potential as an artist. Furthermore, despite what I loved about my band (really, The Matriarchs felt like my baby), what I was writing as a solo artist was new and fresh and raw. Instead of writing for a 3-piece female folk band, I was trying to convey the same amount of energy as a solo artist. It was filled with new challenges, as the songwriting and performance aspects were completely different (especially with my loop pedal), but these new challenges (and moments of frustration) opened a new space for me to explore musically and personally, and that was fulfilling. I was growing. Teaching and The Matriarchs and Galena were all comfortable, but I wanted to keep evolving, not be complacent.
Fortunately for me, I have an incredibly supportive tribe of people helping me through this transition. Through people's generosity with their own time, money, and actions, I've been overwhelmed with gratitude. My friend Karen has helped me in more ways than she's probably aware of, and with one of her particularly generous offers, I told her that she changed the game. She wasn't the only one. I was surrounded by game-changers, and the impact of what they offered is still with me.
As I continue moving forward in this new space, I feel changes continue to happen internally and externally. I've done 18 consecutive days of yoga and I've never felt more awake. I feel a sense of accomplishment seeing my album for sale on Amazon and iTunes and available for streaming on Spotify (along with dozens of other online platforms). I continue to meet really amazing people and musicians at shows, jams, and open mics (like Ky Burt - a great Americana singer-songwriter and a sweet guy). I'm in the process of developing a split bill with Rachel Ann Harding, a Boulder musician and storyteller (Riley Ann & Rachel Ann - what a great billing!) and discussing long-term touring possibilities with other musicians. I've come into a space that's significantly larger than me, but that just leaves more room to grow.