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growing up

Letting Go of Your Childhood Dreams—But Not Entirely

music

When I was in the sixth grade, my mom and dad were getting ready for a charity event at our house for an institution that transformed my moms’s life by helping her recover from severe childhood asthma..

In preparation for the event, some boys from down the street (one whose brother became Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame) came over to rehearse for their performance. The minute they walked in with their guitars, drums, and amplifiers, I felt the air shift around me.

I could barely breathe.

I sat on the amp and felt a connection like nothing I’d ever experienced. It was a defining moment; the first time I realized I wanted to become a rock star. Soon after, I bought my first album, “Tapestry,” with my saved-up allowance. I listened to Carole King’ soulful voice and meaningful lyrics for hours on end, and I was hooked. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

Of course, pursuing music was ludicrous at such a young age, and the intensity of my yearning ebbed and flowed throughout my school years. But near the end of my senior year of high school, I met up with a local band, played tambourine and sang background vocals with them, and within a year moved with them from Colorado to California to pursue my musical dreams.

Soon after, I met a guitar player who was ridiculously talented. We started writing songs together, and within two years, we were engaged. We moved to Colorado for better jobs (thanks to help from my mom and dad), and we bought a small house.

It was there, in the basement of that small home in Aurora, Colorado, that we worked hard at perfecting our musical chops. We went through band members like a thirsty camel goes through water (especially drummers–have you ever seen, “Spinal Tap”? It’s true. Drummers do seem to disappear!), until finally finding a solid band to back us up.

We played the local all-original rock venues, were on the radio in Denver, had a backer, and did a big recording project in LA with some well-known musicians. But after some time, we got to a point where we were more committed to a “stable” life than the unknown of “will we ever make it in music?”

So, my husband went to college and then medical school. He became a doctor while I worked full-time first as an administrative assistant in a rehab hospital and then in marketing for architecture and engineering firms. We became Yuppies, living out the American Dream.

But something was missing.

I’ve always been the creative type, but felt my creative outlet had been repressed. We still wrote and recorded music in our home studio and played an occasional gig, but it wasn’t enough. I needed more.

So I started writing. My first attempt at writing a book was an Erma Bombeck-style autobiography called, “Little Pearls,” filled with funny anecdotes from my real life. As most writers know, the first few attempts at novel-writing are mainly efforts to discover your “writing voice.”

For the second time in my life, I was learning to sing. Except this time, it was only with words.

That was over 20 years ago. In that time, I’ve completed seven novels, with three or four still waiting to be finished. Two books are out in the world being read, and a new one is on its way. It’s a hard thing, trading in one dream for another, but it’s often a necessary and, hopefully, satisfying pursuit.

I still miss the glory days of being a rock and roll princess, but I find fulfillment in the creative process of writing, whether an article in a place like Kveller or in a 75,000-word novel.

As a mom, I’ve tried to instill in my kids the courage to follow their dreams. I’ve also stressed that they be wise and clear-headed along their individual paths.

From what I’ve seen, they have heeded this advice and are happy and content in their early adult lives. My advice to my kids and to everyone else, is to rise above the fears that may stop you from moving forward. Because seeing your goals fulfilled and your dreams come true are magnificent achievements, even if they’re different from what you first envisioned.

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