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A Melody I've Sung Before ...


This morning I was greeted with the emotion of absence. I believe it's an abstract, but bear with me. I was gently reminded by a good friend that when I feel this way - I need to assess if I've been spending enough time in prayer. For those of you who do not pray, I would say it would be considered your meditation, reflection, and/or time to create space to just 'be'. I say this as a differentiation because many of my friends experience God differently; whether it's on a hike with your puppy, painting in the quiet of your home, or listening to records with a glass of whiskey or wine in your hand. I personally experience God via sacred music; mainly singing and leading a congregation in that special, sung prayer during a Holy Mass. I miss it.

Therefore, not only do I need to up the ante on my daily solo-prayer so I can better pray with others and be present, but I also need to give of myself more in music. Which means using my time more wisely than before.

I studied voice performance in college and that was a very difficult time for me. It was thoroughly cerebral and more work, frankly, than I was prepared to handle at the time. I realized that I was going to have to work incredibly hard to feel like I was any good at all - that is, to be a confident vocalist. Needless to say, at one point when I was having trouble willing myself to get out of bed in the morning and having anxiety attacks - my mom told me to just come home and we'd figure it out. That triggered something; the realization that I was surrounded by peers who'd had voice training for years, some since they were young children and others had had piano lessons for that length of time as well - my heart felt deflated and hopeless. Suddenly, I believed skill was more important than anything else that my mind or creativity could conjure through using my talents.

My first voice lesson was with my choir teacher my senior year of high school. I'd been coached before but never received instruction on pedagogy or technique. I had no idea how behind I was as a soloist. Ever since I was 10 years old (that's 4th grade) I have been an avid chorister. That is, someone who is passionate about singing with others and making beautiful music (think Byrd, Mozart, Palestrina, Handel, Eric Whitacre). I find it to be the most inspiring when human voices unite and deliver a message - whatever that message may be. It's a way of communicating that I have personally never been able to find in any other art form; a rare discipline it is, to be able to read music, interpret it and do that with 100 or more voices. One other time I found this type of experience was when I was in the praise and worship band in high school (I hear collective gasps from some of you who've known me for the last 5 years). I was inspired by the singer who'd gone before me, leading the congregation, and wow-ing an entire community with her fervor. It opened my heart.

Therefore, even though it's not fully realized, I am working my way back around to being better steeped as a vocalist because my heart keeps asking - "why do you not sing when your heart desires your voice to move?" Many times during the day my mind wanders to a melody I've sung before. "Well, voice in my heart," I respond, "I have many talents and I wish to use them"; it is very difficult to choose a singular path and I do not believe we are pigeon-holed at the age of discernment to be a maestro or heart surgeon. Over the course of our lives, I believe we take many career paths. With the career choice that is purely a means to an end, that end being financial security or social status, etc. - if that is what makes your 'heart sing', which I highly, HIGHLY doubt, then go after it. For myself, it is not and has never been the case, but I have always been divided - but with the ability to do both; seeking security and what my heart desires. It gets harder as time passes, but I won't stop fighting. When I stop fighting, that is when my soul will shrivel up and die.

At this time, I am deeply invested in shaping my career as an actress and filmmaker. I will be an assistant director on an upcoming short film, I will be producing some music videos and commercials this fall, and I am all the while still working with my agent acquiring acting, modeling, and singing gigs. Yes, it's a lot, but those who decide to do artistically creative work never simply think of retirement like a paradise island where the only work you do is lifting your hand to take a drink of your tropical margarita. No, for a creative, that would be boring; we dream of creating until our last breath - expressing the deep inner need we have to communicate our hearts and minds. We are tasked with helping others who may have trouble identifying these emotions and we assist through art forms like film, music, and visual media. It is a necessary path and career - not simply a hobby or a passing interest.

A sincere 'thank-you' for being on this journey with me - for challenging me and affirming me. For reminding me to pray and be with God on a daily basis. For believing in me when I hated myself or wasn't giving myself grace or forgiveness. For listening when all I needed was someone to hear me so I could process my thoughts. And most importantly for your love. You know who you are. Hopefully I can create more - and share with you what I often have trouble communicating in words.

I'll leave you with this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts."

And to that I say, THANK GOODNESS.

xoxo - Heather Lannan

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