Though we had all discussed it, hearing Doris announce the end of Girlyman out loud and in public the other day was still kind of stunning for me. On the one hand it was helpful, as it brought closure to something that has been up in the air for all of us for a full year. On the other hand, it fell with a finality that surprised even me, and just like a marriage or a divorce, it was a gesture that immediately ushered in a new reality.
These past couple days I've felt a mix of gratitude, sadness, and love. It's been so moving to read how many of you were inspired or changed by Girlyman, how you grew up listening to us, followed us around the country, fell in love or created community with people you met at shows, or were helped along in your healing somehow by what we did. Being in the middle of it all those years and tending to the minutiae of the day-to-day (Where's the hotel? When is sound check? What's wrong with the van?) I don't think I ever fully grasped this.
I know that every night onstage, I tried to give as much of myself as possible. In writing the songs, I always dug as deep as I could - sometimes that was the Grand Canyon and sometimes it was a mud puddle. In arranging with the band, I loved the process of making the chord we were singing exactly match the feeling of the words. I know I did all of it as best I could despite insecurities, lack of sleep, fears about money, compromises in my relationships, and constant travel. I know some songs were better than others, some shows were more transcendent than others, some days I felt like a rock star and other days I felt like a ridiculous failure. Mostly I felt like I was lucky as hell to be living exactly the life I wanted to live, doing the thing I was put here to do. I was aware on some level that it couldn't go on forever, and yet kind of like youth, it felt like it would never really end.
Last night I dreamt I was at a big festival with Girlyman and Coyote Grace, and people kept asking us to play a song. No, we all said over and over, we can't. Please, everyone kept asking, just one song! But we kept saying no. And then all of a sudden *everyone* at the festival, the whole entire enormous field full of people, starting singing "Hallelujah" together - the Ma Muse song that our two bands sang onstage a cappella in 6-part harmony. "I'm gonna let myself be lifted," thousands of people sang together. I woke up with tears in my eyes.
It all does feel somewhat like a long, vivid dream now. But I'm beginning to understand that what we did in all those little moments of risk-taking, pushing through our fears and telling our truths actually landed, and has stayed with you and lifted all of us. It was all totally worth it, a million times over.
As some of you know, the last year or so of touring with Girlyman was one of the hardest times in my life. A tornado had hit all aspects of my personal life, and dynamics in the band had shifted in such a way that touring became unbearable for me. A van is a hard place to be for ten years, even with people you adore and are constantly cracking up with. Looking back now, I think that we became like animals in a cage together, with deep love and deep resentment, blaming each other for our confines. I think we all knew intuitively that when your home starts feeling like a cage, it's time to be in the wild again. Though I knew this, I resisted it because for essentially my entire adult life, Girlyman had been my whole world and my whole identity. It was a container for all my creativity, a medium for all my expression, a career, a home and a community - it was the thing that held my life together and made it all make sense. The thought of losing it was too terrifying to even contemplate.
And yet, just like a romantic relationship that has run its course, there's a way that you know something's over in your bones way before you're ready to admit it to yourself or anyone else. Looking back, I think that taking a hiatus was a way for us to avert a full-fledged existential crisis - a way to see other people, as it were. And it seems it's taken a solid year to fully accept what is really happening. We're moving on.
And apparently, life does go on. Having my solo project to concentrate on this past year has been a godsend, and I want to thank everyone who's supported me, despite what may be conflicting feelings about also missing Girlyman. I knew in starting my solo project that some people would be excited to hear what I'd sound like alone, while others would only hear the lack of Doris and Nate singing alongside me. For me, both things happened. I discovered that I do indeed have an artistic self outside of the band. It was strange not hearing the harmonies at first, but I found that it pushed me to explore the edges of my own voice, to play differently, and to perform differently.
Plus, having a new creative outlet right away gave me a way to avert an artistic vacuum - sort of like getting a new puppy right after you lose the dog you grew up with. It's new, it's exciting, it's full of love and potential and it's a whole new being in the world. It's healing. And it will never be what came before. But that's ok, because you already had that. And even if you had it again, it wouldn't be the same, because it's a new moment.
I don't know exactly what the next chapter of my life will look like yet, but there are already some exciting things brewing musically. For the past six months I've been playing, touring, and co-writing with my partner, Ingrid, and the sound that's developing feels like it has the potential to become a whole new project. Neither of us expected that, to be honest, but it feels really good to sing harmony again and to co-write with someone who has such a different musical sensibility than mine. I've also been playing a lot more banjo (!) and I've just signed on for Real Women Real Songs 2014, which means I'll be writing a song a week and posting a video of it for a full year starting in January. If you'd like to keep up with my new musical projects, you can sign up here.
Other than that, this summer I completed training in EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), also called Tapping. EFT is a somatic therapy that uses a combination of western psychology and acupressure. I decided to take the training because of how blown away I've been by the transformations I've seen in myself and in those I've worked with. While this may seem random, being a practitioner of the healing arts doesn't feel like a stretch to me, but rather like another way to work with empathy and intuition (which is ultimately what songwriting is about for me). Over the past few months I've started working with private clients and am hoping to lead some workshops in the near future. (My EFT website is under construction but will eventually be here). Even though I'll always go back to music, it's been amazing to connect deeply with people in an entirely new way.
Before I officially sign off of Girlyman, I just want to say thank you again - for everything, all these years. You all were part and parcel of what made Girlyman so special. I feel so lucky to have been a part of so many of your lives. How amazing! I hope to keep making music for you and stay in touch with as many of you as possible moving forward.
All my love,