Chronicles of a Songstress #6: "Way I Am"

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Moving to Nashville didn’t necessarily feel like my choice. I had been in Austin for seven years, through two long-term relationships and two self-released albums, and I was hitting a musical glass ceiling. Something needed to change. A friend and musical mentor of mine suggested I give Nashville a try and set me up to write with some songwriters in the area.

I felt stuck in Austin and knew I had a knack for spontaneously picking up my life and moving to new places. So, I said “fuck it” as I have so many times before, and packed up my bags for Nashville.

I didn’t take into account that I was 34 at this time, not 24. I probably should have, you know, visited first or had more than a week’s worth of money saved. While my life could still be packed into a hatchback car, I was not prepared to have my living plans fall through upon arrival. I was frantic. Whaaaaaat did I just do? Why did I leave Austin??

I had no friends. My one companion Lester, my cat, got so sick that I maxed out my credit card to pay for the surgery that would keep him alive. I completely ran out of money. I couldn’t find a job. I was falling flat on my face over and over again.  

I was about to give up, defeated. I went for a sanity hike in a national park just outside of Nashville. I cried. I prayed to my general idea of a god. Then, I was distracted from my despair by the sound of my feet hitting the trail. It created this perfect rhythm in sync with the sounds of nature all around me. I felt a oneness and sense of moving forward that was beyond space and time.

I began to mumble a chant of sorts and was wise enough at the time to pick up my phone and record the moment. My song “Way I Am” literally wrote itself through me. I was a witness to the muse so many artists speak of. Even when I got home the guitar parts fell into place with almost no effort on my part.

This song had significant messages for me. “Could I love me? Maybe? Just the way I am? Could I listen to that voice that tries to tell me, I’m not so bad.”  I had been so ruthlessly hard on myself for “failing”. The only way out of this was to love myself– to soften and move through one step at a time.

I wrote this song. I played it at The Listening Room Cafe during what was my first show in Nashville. While life didn’t magically get easier, I developed a sense a strength that was totally unknown to me before. I can say with confidence that I am so much stronger now. The source of that strength, as corny as it sounds: self-love, softness, kindness, trust, presence.