I recently read a blog about a fellow singer songwriter in the Los Angeles community who passed away from cancer at a young age. Her name is Jenny Pagliaro and she belongs to a duo called, “Roses and Cigarettes.” I did not know her, but the info that she had passed away popped up on my Facebook news feed and I clicked on the link. She had been documenting her journey on a blog called “The Breast Cancer Chronicles” and I read her last blog post titled, “Giving In.” It was posted on December 10th, 2018. A little more than a year later, she was gone.
I really liked this post because even though she was speaking in terms of her experiences with cancer, something I know nothing about, I related to her words about difficult emotions we face in life and the fact that we are both on the music path. She wrote about something I know all too well-pushing through exhaustion at the expense of your physical and mental well-being over the need to prove something. Sometimes pursuing a music career is so difficult that I just want to give up, but rarely I think about what it would mean to “give in.” For Jenny, this meant slowing down and listening to her body more and not succumbing to the fear that in doing so-she was giving up. Giving in gave her a sense of calm and peace-something I often lack in my life as I pile on more and more musical projects. Recently, my life has taken a shift that is causing me to think about slowing down and looking at the bigger picture. This gives me a lot of anxiety because for me it might mean stepping away from doing so much music to take care of my health and some other life priorities. Even though I am not giving up on music-I have emotions and sensations that cause me to feel like I am. Jenny talks in her blog about “trying to stay ahead of cancer” and that it is “here to teach me something so I better start learning and paying attention instead of turning away from it.” We all have these inner guides and voices that send us messages; and sometimes they’re hard to listen to. My message in this time of my mid-life is to address certain aspects of my future and shift my priorities for awhile. This is very scary as I start to map out what that means exactly. For me, it doesn’t mean I’m giving up the dream of doing something with music, but to get to a more satisfying place in the not so distant future, I may have to give up some musical time to have my next breakthrough, take care of myself and reach some new life goals. It’s scary to think about changing things in your life, but it also feels right to listen to that inner voice. Reading Jenny’s blog has relieved some anxiety just by reframing my thoughts that, “giving in” does NOT have to mean “giving up.” From Jenny: “Making the choice to give IN to your experience instead of just wanting to give UP is big. Giving in means you stop fighting so hard, which scares the hell out of me. To me it sounded like letting your guard down. And it is-but not in the way you think.”
I have been living in Los Angeles now and doing the music thing for 4 years while often working several day jobs, and it has been going extremely well-especially this year; but what I had to do to get to this point is mind boggling. Running my own music business has run me ragged and has physically and spiritually changed me and not necessarily for the better. The life I had before I moved here was much different. I would wake up every day and do yoga and meditate and walk and hang out with friends and dance the tango and it was all very mellow and calm. Those were the activities that I desperately needed in my life for my well-being and health. I have consistently struggled maintaining those important things and it has been a constant up and down struggle to the point where I am at now where my inner guide is telling me to slow down-but all I have been hearing in my mind is “give up.” I never thought about what it would mean to “give in.” Thank you Jenny….
“Pushing through exhaustion so that I may have the gift of experience. My perspective on the need for experience is beginning to shift though and I feel as if I'm entering a new phase. Leaving the need to prove that I could live and experience life despite a cancer diagnosis behind, and nuzzling into the comfort of staying home, resting and HEALING. The anxiety of missing my life has begun to ease and I have found myself craving sleep, quiet and some nothing-ness.”---Jenny Pagliaro
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