Life After Forty — Breaking The Mold of Average

Starting Your Career After 40 —

I’ve been thinking a lot about our music today.  I guess, in all reality, I think a lot about it each and every day; even in my dreams.  Even though, by societies mold, I might be considered a bit past my prime to get my musical career off the ground, music is still inside…the songs keep coming.

In my dreams…when I’m awake, in the early morning hours, the rare quiet times throughout the day…even when I’m driving, a song is always on my horizon of thoughts.  So…in my heart, I know, He is giving me his Blessing to keep at it.  –As long as you still believe, the music is always there.

But I’m the kind of person–what most folks don’t realize–who doesn’t like to be restricted by labels or molds.  If-ever anyone says I can’t do something, or they come across as unbelievers of my dreams (i.e. our musical ambitions), then I make it a point to prove them wrong.  It may take a little time to situate myself, but I’ll eventually have my day in the sun.

Still, I feel I’ve learned a lesson by these types of occurrences, and certain people who I’ve come in contact with over the years, whether good or bad.  I’ve discovered that some folks feel uncomfortable with anyone who doesn’t blend in with the mold of normalcy.  –Something I’ve never been any good at!

For me, anything worth dreaming is certainly worth the rugged climb or a few hurdles of nay-sayers, trying to build themselves up…by bringing someone else down (I know we’ve all had these kinds of encounters).  Besides, anyone who’s anybody knows–if you allow your dreams to be corralled into the mold other’s deem fitting for you, you’ll never get anywhere but right where they wish for you to stay.  I for one, choose to break the mold of the norm, and prove these small thinkers wrong.  A life worth living is certainly worth jumping over a few hurdles to get there!

*Never let anyone keep you down*

 

Going Inland

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So…we went inland for the Easter holiday, to see family in La Porte.  Funny how we’ve blended into the weave of fellow IBC’s (Islanders by Choice) here on our Gulf Coastal Island home.  Even still, we long for the water, the rocking back and forth of our sailboat, the clinking of the masts in the wind.  We visited with a local marina the day after Easter, after we got back to the island from a second trip to La Porte in two days because Nico left his phone at his Mom’s the day before.  I have to admit, that day was a good one: lunching with Nico’s dad (the baby’s only living Grandpa), the lolly-gag-of-a-drive back to the island, the visit to the marina…and the smell of the water…down along the slips.

My wanderlust is really getting to me these days, and I miss our sailboat more and more.  If not this year, since we just can’t bring ourselves to sell our old girl, I think next year we’ll certainly be bringing our boat to her new island home.  For now, Nico and I are still working on new tunes for Gypsy Vin Rose, and getting ready to start touring…again.  Gigs…?  Well, that’s another story.  If only we could get around the little problem of ‘no sitter’ and no room for another passenger (Grandma) in the Peniki van, we’d be good to go.

For now, I continue to write songs, and work on getting my voice back after a long battle with the crud.  Honing my mandolin skills, while continuing to remodel our old Gypsy Caravan and Island home Mermaid Mansion is the way I’ve been spending my days lately.  That…and going to the beach almost every day, if we’re not biking to Nixi’s favorite play park, has become our Island way-of-life.  I can’t complain, though I sure do miss the smell of our boat, and the cold spray of water splashing up onto the deck as we cut through the waves…sailing into the sunset.

I guess you could say I’m kind of ‘sea sick’, though in an entirely different way.  I miss the water, instead of being sick from it.  :  )  So for now, I’ll just remember-when, and continue to work on decorating Mermaid Mansion.  This week…I’m sewing new couch cushions.  And I must admit, I am so very proud of the way our old caravan is ‘coming about’!  Next up…sewing a custom quilt for Nixi.  I have the kewlest Hippie Van fabric I bought from Ebay, which I’ll pair with a flower child sort-of print.  I can hardly wait to see how it turns out!  I’ll post pics for anyone who wants to see how it all comes together.

For now, I think I’ll get back to my stitch-witchery, and making my vintage trailer a comfortable island home.  Cheers to all who read my scribblings, and Blessings to those of you who comment.  :  )  And…Fair Winds to all you salty Sailors and deep-sea Pirates out there.  May you find true happiness…just over the horizon.

.V..

Cap'n Nico

Cap’n Nico

Nixi Down Below in the Galley

Nixi Down Below in the Galley

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Getting Underway

Getting Underway

Relaxing Down Below With Some Cartoons

Relaxing Down Below With Some Cartoons

Sunset Sails

Sunset Sails

Me at the Helm = Bliss!

Me at the Helm = Bliss!

 

Singers…Songwriters…and Dreams

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No matter where I go, there’s always a song in my head.  Sometimes it’s one of the songs my husband and I have already written and composed for our Indie duo Gypsy Vin Rose, but more-often-than-not, it’s an entirely new tune that comes to me at any time of day, no matter what I’m doing.  Many times, I dream these new songs – just small tidbits for me to go on – and if I’m lucky enough to salvage a clip when I wake up, I will quickly make a recording (no matter how bad it sounds in the early morning hours), scribbling down any lyrics I can recall.  With time and effort, a lot of tweaking too, I will have a new song if I dedicate what is needed to my craft…for such an accomplishment to ever be heard by others.

Facing all the restrictions of a next-to-nothing recording budget, a toddler screaming her own verse in the background while we try to practice, the lack of equipment and zero time to dedicate to our craft (because we are still keeping afloat with a regular job). I often feel helpless as I see our dreams falling by the wayside.  Still, the songs in my head won’t let me give up – the dreams I dream won’t let me quit on Gypsy Vin Rose.  The fire is still there inside of me…on a low, but steady, flame.

Last night I dreamt of Bob Marley, he didn’t speak, but I could hear him anyway.  I knew his thoughts…I knew his feelings.  He wanted me to keep with it, he wanted to help.  I just wanted to be where ever he was, but he somehow just kept disappearing.  I searched, but he was gone…and I felt alone…desperate to find him once more.  I’m not sure what to make of that dream, but I enjoyed being where I was; lost somewhere in the dream realm.

I believe that dreams are symbolic; never meaning what most people might think they represent.  I know last night’s dream doesn’t mean I’m thirsting for the man himself, but…rather the music and the freedom of expression for which he sang, for which he stood.  He was a good man, I believe.  I wish I could’ve known him.

Still, there are dreams like this one…that keep me going, when it comes to the songs I write and compose.  I remember past performances, when I was flying solo as an artist, before I met Nico…my husband and the other half to Gypsy Vin Rose.  I always felt more alive…more like ‘me’, on the stage; even if I was mostly singing the songs of other artists.  But I was never prepared at the right time; and most artists know…timing is everything, talent is a must, but luck plays a very big role as well.  The time I had a radio interview, but no CD’s ready to offer, always comes to mind when I think of being prepared for anything…everything in music.

I also think back to the time I met a big-time Sony Record Producer backstage at one of my musician friend’s concerts.  The producer – his name was Rob – asked me for a demo, but like always…I wasn’t prepared.  But he was a very nice man…and he thought I had the look, the image, so he offered me his business card, scribbled some contact information on the back – confessing that he never does business when he’s drinking – and we parted ways.  I guess most folks might think I’d never hear from him again, but I did.  The sad thing was that we just kept playing phone tag, until…I guess he just gave up on me.  It just wasn’t meant to be at that time, is all I keep telling myself.

Deep within my very being, I know I should never give up, no matter if I am on-up-there in years now, no matter if all the odds seem to be stacked against me…and GVR.  I look to the bright side, forever the optimist, and cling to the fact that I have been able to pick up the mandolin at my age, and actually learn to play it; composing my own songs after barely a few months of playing.  That, to me, is reassuring!  Knowing, already, that when it comes to recording our songs…we have that down too, since Nico discovered when he recorded his instrumental composition of The Journey in our van, that Hippie Van Studios has great acoustical sound…and no toddler screaming in the background.

The dream keeps the music alive with us…within me, the songs just keep playing in my head, and my heart still races at the thought of being up on stage…performing once again.  But, I have to admit that the best part of that waking-dream is…I know the next time I am up on stage using the talent that He has given, I’ll finally be singing and playing…my very own tune.

Key West Road Trip — The Journey Home

{Journal Entry}

DAY 4:

‘Pulled out of St. Joseph’s Peninsula at around 1:30 or so, headed West on Scenic 98 to 71 North.  We’re planning to visit the Southern Tip of Georgia before we head home on El Camino 84 to Texas 287.  That’s the plan anyway.

*Update*

We ended up at a rest stop off of Interstate Highway 65 at 1 AM in the morning.  Ugh!  ‘Drove all night, but we didn’t want to pay the $$$ on a room for just a few hours of sleep.  So…after stopping numerous times at various motels–and trekking out to the ONLY (what seemed like it) National Forest in Alabama, we settle for a nice…much safer, rest stop.  It was the best choice, and one we should’ve made much earlier in the evening. 

*What I Learned*  Sleeping at rest stops isn’t half as bad as I suspected.  Guess it pays to listen to Nico sometimes; as much as I hate to admit it.  lol

Leaving The Florida Keys

Three weeks had gone by like a blink of an eye, and our stay in the Florida Keys was coming to an end.  It was time to start heading back to Tejas.  Even though we would’ve loved to stay in the Keys forever, we had obligations with the coming of our first grandchild.  Sometimes life just works out that way I guess.

And while the anticipation of a baby is usually a happy time, our’s was bitter-sweet, as our grand baby’s father had been murdered when my daughter was just two months pregnant.  It was a traumatic experience for her, to say the least.  So, while we’d been gone for almost two months, we had known all along that we would have to be there for her in her last trimester.  She had been spending time with her dad and brother in the time we’d been gone.  She was safe–of this we were sure.

So…the morning came when we sorted through the belongings we’d somehow accumulated in three weeks’ time, and begun to rid our ourselves of the things we knew we couldn’t carry and were sure one of our new friends could use.  T.J. was glad to take the small TV we’d been using for Baby.

We said our good-byes after the van was packed to the gills, and headed back up Overseas Highway; hoping to make it past Homestead by nightfall.  I sat quietly in my ‘copilot’s’ seat until the tears began to fall.  I could not contain my sadness for leaving this place we’d called home for almost a month.  To me…it felt more like home than the place to where we were returning.  I was overcome with grief.  Nico held my hand, comforting me from where he sat.

The scene was always like a dream: the endless miles of beautiful aqua blue water, the historic railroad bridge beside Bahia Honda State Park, the old abandoned Overseas Highway that is now used more for a footbridge or for bicyclists.  I was in love with this place for its quiet calmness, peaceful waters, even the ‘sometimes stinky’ mangrove swamp.

We had bonded with Key West the evening we sang at the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square.  I remember, as we walked to our first gig as Street Performers, looking down at the well-worn and weathered brick streets in Old Towne…thinking how I’d love to walk barefoot on them.  The pirates who’d come to Key West hundreds of years before had walked those same streets.  I was fascinated by the idea of walking in their same steps.  Hopeless romantic…I am!

One thing I know for sure — I will always treasure our time in The Florida Keys and the nice people we met, the friendships we formed.  There is a special place in my heart reserved just for Key West and Sugarloaf Key.  To me….they will always feel like home.  I pray someday…soon, the wind will catch our sails and we will find ourselves there once again.  A girl can dream…a girl can pray.

.V..

Playing the Sunset Celebration in Key West

So…we’d set-up to play the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square there in Key West.  We’d never done the ‘street performer’ gig before, so we had no idea what to expect.  After being directed into a nice spot near the water’s edge, we began belting out a few of our tunes; not sure if anyone was listening at the time.

I have to admit, without any sort of amplifier or speakers, it was all I could do not to strain a vocal chord to two.  But we managed to get through it all just fine.  In fact, Nico did wonderfully and seemed to fit right into that sort of scene.  With my soft voice, I can’t be so sure anyone ever even heard me, much less have an opinion.

But there was one man who did seem to have something to say, and a few folks stood close by listening as best they could while we sang the sun into the ocean.  The nice man told us “You have great spirit.”  We took it as a compliment since he and his wife had been listening to our show for quite some time.  Click on link below to see hightlights from our performance on Mallory Square.

Video:  ‘Flaminco Sunset’ by Gypsy Vin Rose

All in all, we had a great time–it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I wouldn’t change it for the world!  And the next time we head back down to Key West and the Florida Keys, I look forward to going back out to Mallory Spuare and singing my heart out…once again.  After all, I have nothing to fear…and nothing to lose.

.V..

GVR

www.gypsyvinrose.com

 

Party in The Florida Keys

Party at Mangrove Mama’s:

There are a few things I know I’ll never forget about our 3 weeks in the Florida Keys, and the Party we attended at Mangrove Mama’s on Sugarloaf Key is definitely one of them.  We’d been invited by the owner earlier in the week, when Nico just happened to be introduced to him at the KOA Bar…in the campground next to LL.  He’d gone to the store for something and, as luck would have it, ran into a few friends from LL, who were enjoying their 4 o’clock refreshments.

Needless to say, Nico and the owner of Mangrove’s hit it off and we were accepted into the rather tight-knit circle of friends/acquaintances on Sugarloaf Key.  According to Nico, the party would be a benefit auction for a friend of Mangrove’s owner…who’d just-recently passed away.  He was an artist…and so, they’d be auctioning off his works to raise cash for this, that, and the other.  Either way, it was for a good cause, and the food and drinks were ‘on the house’.  How could we refuse?

No…really!  Since Mangrove Mama’s was classified more as a restaurant than a bar, we felt it was safe to take Baby, and lo-and-behold, she wasn’t the only kid there.  I was a bit worried we might be walking into an environment not suited for our little one.  But in the end, it all turned out to be a fun night…minus a few mis-haps and misgivings on the part of a few drunks and loud-mouths.  It seems…there’s always one (or two) in every crowd.

All in all, we danced to a bongo band called the ‘Margarejects’…laughed with new-found friends, and made it safely home at a reasonable hour…across Overseas Highway and back to Lazy Lakes.  In the end, Nico and I both had to admit “They really do know how to party in The Florida Keys!”  What a blast we had with the local Conchs!  I hope we can see them again…someday soon.

Video: Party at Magrove Mama’s

..V. ~~ www.gypsyvinrose.com