The month of May(hem) has come to an end. My heart has literally been so full these last few weeks I can hardly contain myself. June is here and offers a very brief but sweet reprieve from the insanity that was May, before another baby comes along and takes our lives into a whole new season and direction.
As mentioned in a previous blog, a bundle of amazing things happened for me over the last month…
The first very pivotal thing that happened at the end of April was my Skype songwriting session with the phenomenal Foy Vance. If you haven’t heard his music yet, do yourself a favor and take a listen. You’re sure to be changed by his authentic writing and soulful music.
I thought it might be weird or awkward skyping with someone I’ve never met and truly admire for their finely crafted songs, but it wasn’t either of these things. It was laid back, comfortable and refreshing. It was almost like we were old friends. Foy had a lot of inspiring things to say, but the one thing that really impacted me was “Nothing is more important than this moment Lisa, right here talking with you, it’s all we have so let’s be completely present.”
A simple concept yes, but the timing was perfect and it was something I really needed to hear that would carry me through the wild month ahead.
A couple weeks after the Skype date with Foy, Jered and I got up bright and early one sunny Sunday morning to drive to Calgary for the Calgary Folk Music Festival Songwriting Contest. Out of over 300 entries for the “Beaver Tales (songs about Canada and it’s people)” Song Category, 18 finalists were chosen to each perform one song. A great group of musical friends hopped up on stage with me to perform my song “Where I Belong”. In the flurry of activity I forgot to ask someone to take a photo, but found this beauty on twitter shortly after the contest!
The following week, my brother Brent and I traveled all the way down south to San Antonio, Texas for the 44th Annual Kerrville Folk Music Festival and Grassy Hill New Folk Songwriting Contest.
When I found out that I was one of 32 finalists from over 800 entries I was definitely floored, honoured (surprised? slightly confused?) and excited. Especially to be the only Canadian! But I had NO idea what I was about to participate in. I gathered as much information about the contest and the festival as I could, got permission from my midwife to fly at 34 weeks pregnant (that’s 8.5 months prego people!) and got the ok from my work to miss a few days RIGHT before my biggest event of the year. Then I took a giant leap of faith and booked two tickets to Texas for the weekend.
Kerrville’s tagline is “Welcome Home.” There isn’t really any way to properly communicate the incredible hospitality, warmth and genuine affection that is poured upon you as soon as you set foot on Quiet Valley Ranch in Kerrville, Texas. Brent and I were immediately enveloped in a cloud of magical hippie pixie dust when we arrived at the festival, and treated like honest to goodness family – showered with smiles, friendly welcomes, hugs even. We had New Folk Contest Surrogate parents Lindsey Lee, Deb Rouse and Liz Rouse ready and waiting for us with a warm and dry place to sleep, coolers upon coolers of craft beer (for Brent), bubbly flavored waters and soda, snacks, food, and presents (Kerrville Festival souvenir mugs)! The only currency we needed in exchange for all this wonderment was our songs. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left the New Folk Camp was one continuous song circle. I can’t quite describe it other than to say it was magical.
Saturday and Sunday of the Festival is the New Folk Competition Concert Series, 32 people sharing 2 songs each get up on the Threadgill Stage to the most engaged, authentic and supportive audience you could ever ask for. Brent and I played my two songs “Prairie Belle” and “Legacy.” Before and after playing our set I got to sit and listen to what I can only describe as some of the very best crafted songs I’ve heard. Every New Folk contestant was so unique and beautiful and insanely talented.
Foy’s words about being present and fully participating in the moment at hand came back to me over and over again throughout the weekend. There was the opportunity for nerves, anxiety, comparison, competitiveness to sneak in and steal away these precious moments, but I am so thrilled to report I was able to fully focus and engage in the entire experience. While on stage in front of probably the biggest audience I’ve played for to date (somewhere around 800 people) I took a moment to breath in the incredible opportunity I was being given. I honestly sang my heart out and told the stories of my songs. I sang every lyric as if I had just written it, I tried to deliver my heart and soul to the audience as best as I could.
After Brent and I played our set, everywhere we went people were so sweet and took the time to talk to me about my songs, they remembered the lyrics, they relayed to me their stories of their grandparents and home towns. My heart literally couldn’t have been any fuller. I was in a songwriter’s dream.
Sadly we had to leave the day after the New Folk Concert Series wrapped up to get back to Edmonton for work! After a treacherous 30 hour travel delay (due to floods and tornado warnings in Dallas) we made it safely home. I am still processing what a gift our four days at Kerrville was and is.
Just to make the month that much more exciting, I came home to an intense amount of work to finish to execute the YWCA Edmonton’s Women of Distinction Awards. I’m happy to report the event was a huge success. We celebrated 52 nominees and 8 award recipients with over 600 guests. It was a beautiful event of inspirational stories of women making incredible contributions to our city. I was proud to be a part of it.
So there you have it. A wild month of incredible experiences that I will never forget. A whirlwind of epic proportions that now leaves me with two weeks left of work and a baby on the way soon after. Here’s hoping he or she comes right around their due date so I can let the dust settle a bit.
What a life. Cheers!