Sometimes Leaving Is A Joyful Sign

Though we had all discussed it, hearing Doris announce the end of Girlyman out loud and in public the other day was still kind of stunning for me. On the one hand it was helpful, as it brought closure to something that has been up in the air for all of us for a full year. On the other hand, it fell with a finality that surprised even me, and just like a marriage or a divorce, it was a gesture that immediately ushered in a new reality.

These past couple days I've felt a mix of gratitude, sadness, and love. It's been so moving to read how many of you were inspired or changed by Girlyman, how you grew up listening to us, followed us around the country, fell in love or created community with people you met at shows, or were helped along in your healing somehow by what we did. Being in the middle of it all those years and tending to the minutiae of the day-to-day (Where's the hotel? When is sound check? What's wrong with the van?) I don't think I ever fully grasped this.

I know that every night onstage, I tried to give as much of myself as possible. In writing the songs, I always dug as deep as I could - sometimes that was the Grand Canyon and sometimes it was a mud puddle. In arranging with the band, I loved the process of making the chord we were singing exactly match the feeling of the words. I know I did all of it as best I could despite insecurities, lack of sleep, fears about money, compromises in my relationships, and constant travel. I know some songs were better than others, some shows were more transcendent than others, some days I felt like a rock star and other days I felt like a ridiculous failure. Mostly I felt like I was lucky as hell to be living exactly the life I wanted to live, doing the thing I was put here to do. I was aware on some level that it couldn't go on forever, and yet kind of like youth, it felt like it would never really end.

Last night I dreamt I was at a big festival with Girlyman and Coyote Grace, and people kept asking us to play a song. No, we all said over and over, we can't. Please, everyone kept asking, just one song! But we kept saying no. And then all of a sudden *everyone* at the festival, the whole entire enormous field full of people, starting singing "Hallelujah" together - the Ma Muse song that our two bands sang onstage a cappella in 6-part harmony. "I'm gonna let myself be lifted," thousands of people sang together. I woke up with tears in my eyes.

It all does feel somewhat like a long, vivid dream now. But I'm beginning to understand that what we did in all those little moments of risk-taking, pushing through our fears and telling our truths actually landed, and has stayed with you and lifted all of us. It was all totally worth it, a million times over.

As some of you know, the last year or so of touring with Girlyman was one of the hardest times in my life. A tornado had hit all aspects of my personal life, and dynamics in the band had shifted in such a way that touring became unbearable for me. A van is a hard place to be for ten years, even with people you adore and are constantly cracking up with. Looking back now, I think that we became like animals in a cage together, with deep love and deep resentment, blaming each other for our confines. I think we all knew intuitively that when your home starts feeling like a cage, it's time to be in the wild again. Though I knew this, I resisted it because for essentially my entire adult life, Girlyman had been my whole world and my whole identity. It was a container for all my creativity, a medium for all my expression, a career, a home and a community - it was the thing that held my life together and made it all make sense. The thought of losing it was too terrifying to even contemplate.

And yet, just like a romantic relationship that has run its course, there's a way that you know something's over in your bones way before you're ready to admit it to yourself or anyone else. Looking back, I think that taking a hiatus was a way for us to avert a full-fledged existential crisis - a way to see other people, as it were. And it seems it's taken a solid year to fully accept what is really happening. We're moving on.

And apparently, life does go on. Having my solo project to concentrate on this past year has been a godsend, and I want to thank everyone who's supported me, despite what may be conflicting feelings about also missing Girlyman. I knew in starting my solo project that some people would be excited to hear what I'd sound like alone, while others would only hear the lack of Doris and Nate singing alongside me. For me, both things happened. I discovered that I do indeed have an artistic self outside of the band. It was strange not hearing the harmonies at first, but I found that it pushed me to explore the edges of my own voice, to play differently, and to perform differently.

Plus, having a new creative outlet right away gave me a way to avert an artistic vacuum - sort of like getting a new puppy right after you lose the dog you grew up with. It's new, it's exciting, it's full of love and potential and it's a whole new being in the world. It's healing. And it will never be what came before. But that's ok, because you already had that. And even if you had it again, it wouldn't be the same, because it's a new moment.

I don't know exactly what the next chapter of my life will look like yet, but there are already some exciting things brewing musically. For the past six months I've been playing, touring, and co-writing with my partner, Ingrid, and the sound that's developing feels like it has the potential to become a whole new project. Neither of us expected that, to be honest, but it feels really good to sing harmony again and to co-write with someone who has such a different musical sensibility than mine. I've also been playing a lot more banjo (!) and I've just signed on for Real Women Real Songs 2014, which means I'll be writing a song a week and posting a video of it for a full year starting in January. If you'd like to keep up with my new musical projects, you can sign up here.

Other than that, this summer I completed training in EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), also called Tapping. EFT is a somatic therapy that uses a combination of western psychology and acupressure. I decided to take the training because of how blown away I've been by the transformations I've seen in myself and in those I've worked with. While this may seem random, being a practitioner of the healing arts doesn't feel like a stretch to me, but rather like another way to work with empathy and intuition (which is ultimately what songwriting is about for me). Over the past few months I've started working with private clients and am hoping to lead some workshops in the near future. (My EFT website is under construction but will eventually be here). Even though I'll always go back to music, it's been amazing to connect deeply with people in an entirely new way.

Before I officially sign off of Girlyman, I just want to say thank you again - for everything, all these years. You all were part and parcel of what made Girlyman so special. I feel so lucky to have been a part of so many of your lives. How amazing! I hope to keep making music for you and stay in touch with as many of you as possible moving forward.

All my love,


September 16, 2013 @01:04 pm
by — Jen B

I have a friend who wants to, and should, get a divorce but is staying for the sake of the children. I've tried to explain to him that the best example he can set for his girls is to follow his path, be happy and find love. In doing so he can show them that it's ok to live the lives they want to live, and in turn that his daughters will potentially have four people in parental roles to love and nuture them instead of just two. I feel that's kind of what Girlyman just did. You stayed together longer than perhaps you should have, and I know we were part of the reason you did. But now you can each find your happiness and we, the kids (and no-so-much-kids) who love you will have multiple opportunities through your solo work, new songs with Ingrid, Nate's CD, Django Jones, and hopefully more from Doris to hear the spirit of each of you. Thank you for this next set of gifts. xo

September 15, 2013 @03:04 am
by — Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

When I was five, I wanted to be a radio DJ. When I was ten, I wanted to be an oboist. When I was eighteen, I got to go to music school. When I was twenty-eight, after ten years of teaching, playing, touring, making, asking, practicing, pushing, I decided that music wasn't about how good I could be, or the next gig, or if my student played a Bb instead of a B. I hated music, I hated teaching, I hated even playing. Five years later, after finding another true love (you can have more than one in life) I've rediscovered the thing which made music special for me. The love, the emotion, the in-the moment joy of creating music alone, with another person, with a whole room of people. The back and forth, the harmonies, the clashes, the resolutions, the unbridled joy, pain and passion that music can bring. These days, I play or sing most days for me. Not for anyone else, but me. And life is wonderful again. I write, I create, I enjoy, I love, I feel connected to the music in ways I never have before. Tylan, I think you had reached the point with Girlyman that I had. It wasn't fun any more. We knew that when you came and gigged in Bristol. Now, it looks like you'll all be reborn, creatively, spiritually, wholly. Each of you are now released to move on your own journeys. To create, to love. But the best thing is that what you have done is still there. It's still part of you, but now it's safe inside, a page in the book that you're writing with every note. Thank you Girlyman, Thank you for doing what was right. It's okay to mourn. But in the spring, new flowers bloom.

September 14, 2013 @11:47 pm
by — David Stone

We love you and miss you and wish you all the best. Thank you for continuing to enrich our lives and those of the people around you.

September 14, 2013 @06:17 pm
by — Kerry

When something doesn't feel right anymore, it's time for a change. I am excited for the roads you are taking now, on your own. And I look forward to more awesome music. There's a bright future ahead :)

September 14, 2013 @04:53 pm
by — Joe Gaspard

Thanks for all the joy you brought folks with Girlyman. Good luck in all you do moving forward! Joe

September 14, 2013 @04:05 pm
by — Deb Bermudes

Beautifully written! Thank you! Looking forward to seeing you at Passim in October:) The journey continues.

September 14, 2013 @03:33 pm
by — Sandra Quigley

Since i just say this post which lead me to read Doris' post I have to confess i'm shocked, dismayed and, having been through a divorce, understanding. I will miss the harmonies, i will miss Nate and Doris and hope they too go on to other ventures... I have loved your solo voice and I am looking forward to hearing you in harmony with your partner. Now pardon me while I go wipe a tear and allow myself to grieve tuning songs, the moose in the road and the most amazing harmonies sing Amy and Emily... ::sniff::

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