As I've been thinking about writing this birthday blog post I have reached the conclusion that this year for me was about recording Baile Àrd and producing the CD release concert. Lots of other things have happened, but this was a life-changing experience.
I stopped writing updates about my recording project a really, really long time ago. From the point at which I realized I needed to do serious work on my singing skills I stopped most activities that weren't directly related to the project because I had this horrible anxiety that I was going to fail and that it would break my spirit to do so. I was terrified of how deep a depression I would fall into if I gave up on my CD. I went into a strange kind of survival mode and it has had some repercussions.
I finally started recording at Empty Sea Studios last September. Getting all my harp tracks down was just the beginning. As I ran into obstacle after obstacle I got very good at letting go of long-held wishes and finding a different way forward. I probably wouldn't have made it through without the wisdom and support of my engineer, Michael Connolly. He reassured me that what I was going through was normal and that it would be worth it, and he was certainly right. He expressed his view of the process once by saying "Making a CD is like pooping a diamond. It's really, really hard, but then you have a diamond."
CD package design, liner notes, and convincing the manufacturer that I really had the necessary license to record the copyright protected tracks took lots of effort and time while I was simultaneously producing and promoting the concert.
Posters, postcards, rehearsals, volunteers, CD sales, AND a big vinyl banner! It's one of those experiences that I look back on and wonder how I managed to do all those things. One at a time, I suppose. It was a magical night from load-in to cast party. There so much more I could tell about it, but maybe this is enough to make the point and bring me back around to the subject of my birthday.
It is my birthday, and in sharp contrast to many others, I'm actually feeing OK about it. There's something about having proven myself by making this CD that I love and am proud of that has changed everything. I can finally say to myself, "Self, have a happy birthday. You've earned it."