"I'm not enough...anything." I may be paraphrasing, but those are close to the hormonally-laced words I squeaked out as I sat crosslegged on the couch, feeling much more pregnant than the 10 weeks pregnant I am. I want to blame my mental health (or lack thereof) on this little gummy bear that's taken up residence in my body- shifting everything from the kind of food I love and now hate (chocolate), to my ability to sleep (nada) to my constant feeling of nausea and uneasiness. But I know that's a cop out. It's more than that.
I know I've written it here before; I'm sure I have, because these feelings are not new, but I have never felt like I have "clicked in" anywhere, with any group, ever. I'm not enough "musician" to be a musician; Not willing to live and die on the sword of my art- to go days, weeks or months through famine to reach feast, all in the name of creation. I can't NOT create or make music, but I'm surely not an artist because it's not all that matters to me. It's ONE thing that matters to me (and deeply- truly), but it's on the list among dozens of other projects, endeavors, passions and loves. I'm not enough "mom" to be a mom; You know the ones I'm talking about- the ones who find a project on Pinterest and make it look better than it looked in pictures. The ones who would never consider buying a store bought box of donuts to bring to a bake sale. The ones who have "Wednesday Craft Day" and whose children know how to read well before kindergarten. The masters of the playdates, who make gym clothes look glamorous at school drop off. I've never been enough of that. I'm not enough business. Yes, I own a successful one that I'm proud of, and grateful for. But I'm not perfect at it. I'm not thick skinned enough to not let myself get negotiated by clients, instead of negotiating with them. It takes me down for days when an employee leaves, or a client is disappointed by something, whether it was in my control or not. I'm not enough business. I thought, for a while, I was enough Crossfit to be a Crossfitter, but when my beloved gym imploded, it turned out, I was just enough Crossfit to be a Crossfitter at my beloved gym. It was the people, not the sport, that kept me coming to classes.
I watch the world, and it seems so many people find their people, and their places. I find people- people I love deeply and fully- and places- places I feel like I'm at home or comfortable- but it never seems I fit with them enough that they become "mine". I love Nashville, and it's been "home" for 11 years. But it's not a perfect fit. I'm not a "Nashvillian". I love it here. It's home. But it's not. I love my friends, and I think they love me, too. But they have entire existences outside of our friendship that I literally play no part in- clubs they're a part of, other best friends I've never met, a complete life outside of our coffee dates and conversations, that I'm not a part of, and not invited to be.
Lately I've felt this thickly- The first trimester of growing this new family member has been trying because I've felt so sick, and so not "me" that I've completely isolated myself, and the world keeps turning, with or without you, even if you wish, for one moment, someone would stop it and say, "Wait! Let's not leave her behind!"
But it's given me time to not just think about things, but to feel what I need to feel. I feel like an outsider, and like I probably always have been. But maybe that's not as negative a connotation as we've allowed the term "outsider" to be?
This week, some magical stuff has, and is happening. Three different people/groups of people (Caitlin Eadie, David Archuleta, and Aberdeen Green) are releasing or performing music that Shaun and I wrote with them. All the songs that are being brought into the world by these artists were written 2+ years ago, and I assumed they, much like me, were "not enough". Dead on the vine. But...they are alive. They were resting. They were aging, and marinating and being thought about and formulated, being loved on by caretakers other than just me who helped birth them. They were being nurtured and considered and being breathed into and given a new, different kind of life that only many hands and souls could have made the way they've been made. I thought those songs- the ones I'm not "musician" enough to write well or professionally- were cast away. They weren't. They were growing.
I watched the video today of the girls of Aberdeen Green singing our song- "Crooked Road"- that they titled their EP at the Mother Church- The Ryman Auditorium. And I thought of the day when I'd newly moved to Nashville- a 21 year old Yankee whose country music repertoire consisted of Carrie Underwood's first album, and thinking how I was not Country enough to be a writer in Nashville, and I never would be. I still promise you, I am no where near country enough to be a solid Nashville country writer, in my opinion, but I watched these amazing women singing with their BLUEGRASS band a song I helped to bring to life at THE RYMAN AUDITORIUM- the original Grand Ole Opry. What? How? I'm not country enough for this...
Then, I hear Caitlin Eadie- a voice who runs along the ranks of the best in the world- taking a demo we recorded- the two of us- me with NO recording experience- in a closet in East Nashville and making it- that SAME demo- into a song on her record. Complete with my clunky inexperience. I am not a producer. I am not producer enough to be a producer. I don't know what buttons to press, and I am clunky with all technology, but absolutely with recording technology. But she sends me a soundcloud and I think to myself, "I can't wait to own this record". And then I think that I helped build that track. I helped. But I'm not producer enough for this...
And then there's David Archuleta. I remember the first time we met, he'd come from church, and a wonderful friend of ours, who we'd written with a few times said she'd met him at church and had invited him to write with us. "Sure," I thought, knowing how Nashville is, and that David would almost definitely be a no-show. But he showed. And we wrote. At first, it was awkward and clunky- like any first date might be (writing date that is)- and before we knew it, we had a verse and chorus. And I looked in his eyes. "You hate this, don't you?" I said to the near stranger, who was quiet, even when he sang, even though he was a pop star around the world. He looked at me wide eyed, not wanting to say he did, but I knew he did. "We're throwing it out." I said. And we did. We started a new song. We finished the new song. And it was good. At the end of the day, he asked me how I knew, and I said, "I just watched you. I just tried to see what you were feeling." I think that was the day that cemented our friendship, and songs just followed, because, when your friends with a lot on your hearts, and you create, it feels like it's a disservice to your calling to not allow the songs in. But every time we wrote with David, I wondered if he felt what I hoped he'd felt: Heard. I never felt like it was my job to write with David, because, remember- I'm not "enough" or anything- certainly not a writer- to qualify as one. I felt it was my job to facilitate his ability to write. One of the songs we wrote is being released- tomorrow- as a single from his EP, and people are hearing it. I've watched on Twitter as people quote lines that fell out of my mouth, or David's heart, or Shaun's playing, and I think "Oh my God...this is the power of art." But I'm not writer enough for this... I'm not writer enough to get a publishing deal in Nashville, and if I'm not writer enough for that, I'm not writer enough for this...
And then today, it occurred to me, as all these corners of our life- seeds we planted 2 years ago when life was so much different than it is today- that my "not enoughness" is what makes me able to be enough. I'm not a musician. So I don't think like one. I think like a person- a person who loves music, and wants to be told stories that resonate with me as a person. I don't care if the hook is catchy. I care if the words are truthful. I don't care if the melody is repetitive. I care if it makes you feel something. Thank God I'm not enough musician.
I'm not enough producer. I think of really crazy, stupid things that almost never work in practice. But *SOMETIMES* the spark catches the wood just the right way, and a happy accident happens- a happy accident that would never have worked had I tried to will it to. Thank God I'm not a producer.
I'm not enough writer. These days, I don't do it the Nashville way, like I did in 2015- I don't take writes with the "right" people who will open doors for me, or introduce me to people at parties. I refuse to write songs about things I don't care about, that serve no purpose, or with people who announce, at first meeting, that they want to write a "big ole hit". Most of my writing is done either completely alone, or with my husband and/or my closest friends. People who have stories to tell, or something they must get off their chest, and have no other outlet other than a voice or a piano and a guitar. I listen to them, as much as I can. Look at them. Pry, sometimes, when I have to. And then we try to tell a story that will matter to someone somewhere, but knowing, if it NEVER does mean anything to anyone else, it means something to us. Thank God I'm not a writer.
I'm not enough mom. I don't make pinterest perfect birthday cakes and have yet to plan my son's 5th birthday party which is next week. But my son has seen a whole world that I wouldn't be able to give to him if I wasn't an "entrepreneur" sometimes, a "writer" other times, and whatever it is I might feel like being the next day. Thank God I'm not a mom. I'm a person, and I think (hope) I'm showing my son what that looks like.
But I'll cop to it: It's lonely not fitting in. I envy those who do. But I feel so beautiful that I do not. The curse of never finding your "people" is that...well...you never find your people. But the beauty of it, is that you find LOTS of people- people who push you to do crazy things (like write bluegrass songs one day and pop the next). People who make you a better listener or a harder worker. People who inspire you to never want to fit in, because, if you did, you wouldn't be able to skate the edges of the circles they run in- popping in and out as possible to learn the new things that you can, before continuing to grow, continuing to move, and continuing to fly. I think part of me will always ache to be anchored. But, that's not what ships are for. That's not what I am for. I am for fluid, messy, achey, beautiful, ever-changing, soul-stirring, real, tarnished, imperfect, fulfilling, gut-wrenching love, and a life that someday, I'll look back at and say, "Thank God I was never enough for anyone or anything...it gave me the opportunity to be more than enough for myself."