There are just those moments when reality comes beaming in very clearly … I had one of those moments recently when I found out that a previous client of mine departed this life.
I was first shocked … when we last talked, she was VERY much alive and well, it seemed. When I heard the news my ever-questioning human brain immediately kicked in and had me swirling around in all of those absurd questions that really make no difference to find answers to like “What happened?”, “How did that happened?”, “Did she know?” and “When did she know?”, etc.
I finally caught myself and stopped the swirl and focused for a moment on the beauty of this amazing woman who left her body and listened for message that was there … quietly, patiently … waiting for me to hear it.
She was an extraordinary singer and pianist. I had not spoken with her in several years, but, I had followed her progress, since our time working together, jumping up and down in celebration of each step along her journey.
During the time we spent together, she had been on a mission to produce what was, although I didn’t know it then, her final legacy. She was fully engaged in creating the funding for that work and driven by passion to her produce her album.
She was also fully engaged in her life which included being on the faculty at Brown University and Wheaten College, teaching private lessons in voice and piano, performing throughout New England and being a central part of the Rhode Island jazz community. No less important she was a wife, mother (of 2 sons and a furry child), and a friend and peer of many… plus a multitude of other titles … some of which I am sure I will never know.
She had a big vision and the hours she put into learning about and then crowdfunding for her project was so inspiring. She would come to our calls with her crisp, clear vision … not flinching, doing whatever needed to be done. So many things were out of her comfort zone, but she moved through each space and tackled each of them. This beautiful, soft spirit of a woman applied commitment, discipline and dedication each step of the way. She was going to fulfill on her dream and honor herself, and the world in the process, no matter what.
Not only was there was no stopping her, but there was also no selling out allowed either … it was her vision and she was going to do it exactly as she envisioned it. This project was the realization of a life time of inspiration and a completion of a cycle for her. It was to be an album that represented her work and her life and there was no settling. She threw herself into it and the care she put into her crowdfunding was just as graceful, elegant and potent as the care she put into her music (and everything I saw her do).
In 2018 she produced her album, a tribute to Joni Mitchell, aptly titled “Full Circle” as it represented her coming full circle to her original admiration for Mitchell which inspired her to become a singer. It begs for me to celebrate her. Not just for her phenomenal talent or the beauty of her soul or the brightness she probably brought to everyone she came in contact with … but, also, because she was unstoppable in producing her best work each step along the way and this last album was no exception.
To her, this masterpiece had to be created and create it she did. Ultimately, she left a collection of her work behind and this album would be her final work for all of us to enjoy into the future.
We have all heard tons of people tell us to “live as if each moment is your last” and “to follow our passion now no matter what” and to “make sure we don’t go with our song/painting/poetry still inside us”. She took it to heart and, in the end, literally made sure she did not go with these songs still inside her. Did she know when she began this work? Did she know before the album was released? I can’t tell you that. What I can tell you is that she was doing her best work and letting nothing stop her from getting it out into the world.
What I do know is that, for me, I celebrate that she completed her project of passion. What I do know is that I am left with absolute gratitude for having known her and the honor of being one of the many who had that privilege. Finally, what I know is that on that night that I heard about her transitioning … after I stopped the swirling in my head … the message that was there… quietly, patiently waiting for me to hear it… was one word… NOW!!!
Thank you, Debra! It was a blessing to know you. I am so grateful for your final gift to me … the gift ringing in my ears and my Soul … the gift of knowing that I too must get busy and fulfill on my mission and deliver my gift to the world … each moment… NOW & NOW & NOW… NOT someday … NOW! It is clear that is no other acceptable option.
As an Artist are you living your best life and producing your best work NOW?
Are you waiting on something or telling yourself that you are working your way up to something vs. engaging in it NOW?
Do you have a gift for the world you are holding onto, for whatever reason vs. doing whatever you need to do to get it out into the world NOW?
What would life look like if every minute we are breathing we make sure is a joyful moment of doing what we are here to do … no exceptions, no excuses… NOW?
Please feel free to share your thoughts or any feedback with me/us … I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to share about living and creating in the NOW and perhaps how you see that YOU have gifts that need to be delivered into the world NOW. I am, as always, grateful to you for being out there creating and I welcome connecting with you.
NOTE: I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a way to discover more about the beautiful music of Debra Mann including links to be able to hear tracks from her final album, FULL CIRCLE. It is, after all, what she wanted … for people to hear the gifts she brought here for us. Her website is still up, as of this writing, and you can find it here: https://www.debramann.com/.