Shane and I are 38 weeks prego with our first baby, “nugget”. We couldn’t be more excited. What a fun exciting time this has been, watching and waiting for this lil’ one to grow. I was thinking at 6 am this morning when I couldn’t sleep about all of the things I’ve learned while being pregnant. Thought I’d share my early morning thoughts with you.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED BEING PREGO
– I’ve learned that you can love something that’s only the size of a pin head
– I’ve learned that babies can prefer certain songs over others in utero; nugget shimmy and shakes to “This Lil Light of Mine” and can take or leave “You are My Sunshine”
– I’ve learned that thank you letters take a very long time to write, cause I want my heart in every one
– I’ve learned that one, very little person can really turn your life and house upside down, even if they’re still in your belly
– I’ve learned that gifts can come from what seems like trials. For example…
1. Being on bed rest for 5 weeks allowed me to slow down, meditate a lot and enjoy connecting with my honey, who works from home.
2. Having gestational diabetes forced me to eat incredibly healthy, which is great for both nugget and I, and I’ll have less weight to lose when nugget joins us, wahoo!
3. As hard as not being around family has been, it’s forced Shane and I to really depend on each other and bond; I’m more in love with that man than ever before.
– I’ve learned that pregnancy can be just as intimate and exciting for the father-to-be as it is for the mother.
– I’ve learned that just cause a doctor says something, doesn’t mean they’re right. Trust your intuition.
– I’ve learned that people love to tell you their horror stories when you’re pregnant, even if its about the great, great aunt of their sisters brother-in-law, second removed.
– I’ve learned that pregnancy bonds women like nothing else, especially talking about all the strange things happening to your body.
– I’ve learned that people love to tell you if they think you’re having a girl or boy, and if they think you’ve gained too much or too little weight.
– I’ve learned that you can glow even if your back hurts, feet swell, and get up every half hour at night to pee.
– I’ve learned that people love pregnant ladies- I think it’s cause it’s the closest we get to helping God out with a miracle.
20 weeks and counting! Shane and I are expecting our first baby, July 30th. We are ecstatic!!! We’re not going to find out if it’s a boy or a girl. We thought it would be more fun to be surprised on their birthday.
It’s the craziest thing; pregnancy. On one hand, I know that millions of women have babies all the time. But now that it’s me, it’s so strange! And beautiful. And foreign! And awesome. The nausea stopped at 4 months, thank the heavens! Then the acid reflux, insomnia and pinched sciatica nerve started. But yah know, I’ll take it. All of it.
The second trimester has been very spiritual. I’ve been meditating along with Oprah every morning, writing a journal to lil’ nugget, and just started prenatal yoga. All types of fears crop up… will I be able to handle delivery? Am I ready for a baby and the time that will take? Will I be a good mama?? etc etc etc. But then there’s this incredibly powerful, “I am woman” feeling that washes over me, reminding me that this amazing process connects me with all women out there, from my ancestors to my grand daughters.
I trust I will be ready when the time comes. But it hasn’t slowed me down yet. I just started recording 4 of my new songs, and hope to have my 4th CD (Tennessee Miles) in hand by the end of the summer. Can’t wait till you hear my new Nashville babies. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying this time and the extra inspiration it brings, writing lots of songs and relishing in the butterfly kicks.
I was talking to a new vocal student of mine about stage fright. She was saying that she wants so badly to be comfortable singing in front of people, but she doesn’t understand how to use her diaphragm and she’s like a deer in headlights on stage.
I began sharing my experiences with her… like how if my family wanted to hear me sing they had to press their ear up against the bedroom door. How if they were in the same room as me, I’d face the wall cause I couldn’t handle them looking at me. When I’d finally get up the nerve to sing, my throat would clench up making horrible frog-like squeaks come out. Horrible, I tell yah! I’ve come a long way from that little shy girl. My skin fits today. The stage is my home now. This is how I got there.
HOW I OVERCAME STAGE FRIGHT
1. Gotta be honest, I never pictured you naked. 😛
You know that common trick to overcoming stage fright! Picture the entire audience naked! Truthfully, I’d probably laugh… not cause you’re not a beautiful Adam or Eve… but cause I laugh when I’m nervous and that would certainly make me nervous! Haha!
2. I practiced and trained very, very hard
With patient, talented guitar and vocal teachers, who gently forced me out of my comfort zone. I have been blessed to have worked with teachers who helped me polish my craft and find my voice. And I practiced a lot on my own. One of my teachers from New York City used to say, “May your worst performance be publicly acceptable.” I try to live by that.
3. I learned the importance of breathing… so simple, yet so complex!
– The more I understood how very important correct breathing was, the more I had control over my voice. I discovered that when I get nervous, my heart starts to race, which causes me to breath more shallow. When I breath more shallow, I’m not getting enough oxygen causing me to feel light headed, which makes my heart race even more. Simple breathing techniques, breathing in through the nose for ten beats into my stomach, holding for a few seconds, then out through my mouth, can do wonders!
4. I performed often in front of a safe audience
I found safe places to play and practice singing out, open mics mainly, where people loved and supported me no matter what I did. I would stop in the middle of my songs and say “Oops!” and people would shout out, “That’s okay Bonnie Lee! Keep going.” And I would!
5. I Learned about myself
Why did I wanna sing in front of an audience in the first place?? For me, it was because I wanted to bring people joy, happiness and healing, through music. Well, if that’s the case, then it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being genuine, being my dorky self, and having fun.
Somewhere along the way, not exactly sure when it happened, I stopped getting nervous. It’s more like an excitement, “I can’t WAIT to get on stage,” feeling now.
I think, when you love something, you find a way. I loved singing so much that I kept trying. I got back up on stage after my voice cracked in front of a thousand people. I got back on stage when I forgot the words to my own songs. I got back on stage after I said “Oops, sorry,” in the middle of an audition. I got back on stage when I was sure no one liked me or my music. I got back up on stage because this is where I’m meant to be. When you love something that much, you have to keep trying.
People have said to me before that I was born with the gift to sing and perform. I believe our talents are gifts, but I kinda feel my gift was the desire. The singing and performance came after years of polishing and practice. The desire is what kept me motivated and passionate.
I just found this out! Every night I climb into bed, fluff my pillow and wrap myself tightly in my cocoon of blankets. I’m followed not too far behind by Spanky, my 8-year-old, love-a-munch. I sneak my arm out of my cocoon to pat, scratch and “spank” her a little until I dose off to sleep.
Now, I thought she slept with me all night. By my side, whenever I needed her. But recently my husband told me that Spanky comes out of the room a half hour later to snuggle with him, while he watches tv! For hours she leaves me, cause Shane is a crazy night owl! Yet, I never knew she was gone.
But yah know, that’s love. I’m taken care of, Spanky knows that. She stays while I need her and then she moves on to others who need her.
I’m coming to trust that when I need something, whether it’s a lesson, or a friend, they will appear. The other day, at Kroger Grocery in the self-checkout line, I got to chattin with this older gentleman. I noticed he had a walker and was a little uncomfortable standing, and he told me he lost feeling in his left leg after a stroke. Yet how grateful he was he could still get around, even if he “was as slow as a tortoise!” He loved that he could pick out his own strawberries. He talked about rejoicing every morning his eyes opened and he gets the chance to cease another day.
Yeah, well, I wasn’t feeling like ceasing the day that day. I walked in the store a little irritated and overwhelmed about all I had to do. Yet I left there with a lot more than groceries. I got what I needed from that man.
Before he left, he said, “You know what I’m gonna be for Halloween??”
No, what’s that?
“A cripple,” he said, with a big grin.
God is good.
But you can’t take the songwriter outta me! I started a song on the back of the bike… pretty hilarious listening back to my recordings with the scream of the wind and the bikes, but I got the song! And I wrote and texted myself the Motorcycle Sign Language For Passengers that I thought I’d share with you.
Motorcycle Sign Language for Passengers
1. The death leg squeeze= means if you don’t slow down I’m gonna tackle you off this bike
2. The Shoulder tap, point= “Look at that silly cow standing in the middle of the pond!”
3. The helmet head bonk= nope, doesn’t mean anything except that my helmet is too heavy for my neck… well you probably stopped too quickly too!
4. The bear hug= says, “Hey baby, I’m having a nice time back here with you!
5. The wave= It is important to wave to other bikers, but not too emphatically, remain cool and non dorky- and don’t take it personal when the jerks don’t wave back at you.
6. The quick grasp= “Woh, that scared me!”
7. The shoulder pressure= means I’m gonna stretch my legs, hooooold steady!
8. The laugh and shoulder pat= “You just got bird poop on your helmet, hehe”
9. The look of awe= You just witnessed that view from the above picture, in person.
It’s True!!! Shane suggested 2 years ago that I come to Nashville for the summer, cause he knew it was always my dream. I think he was hoping I would get it outta my system! Not so much! I couldn’t leave! Thank goodness I have a wonderful and supportive hubby! I came to this beautiful city a couple weeks before the devastating flood hit. That sure was a scary experience, but it showed me right away how giving and helpful people are here.
Since moving, I’ve lived in 3 apartments, had 4 jobs and written 96 songs. I just wrote my second song for a cartoon-in-the-making. I can’t go into details yet cause it’s still being pitched to investors, but what a fun challenge that’s been. I even did some voice-overs! I had no idea how many sounds I could produce with my voice. Probably one of the funniest, most humbling experiences I’ve had here in Nashville so far… you really gotta leave the ego at the door!
I went into the studio 2 weeks ago to start recording my next EP (shorter CD)!!! I’ve been working with Australian producer Michael Flanders (I could listen to him talk for hours!). Really can’t wait to share my new songs with you!
I’ve been working on a hoedown song for a country kid’s band with a dancing dog (had to listen to Miley Cyrus 100 times… ahhhh!), and I just started pitching a few songs to some younger, upcoming artists. If they get selected, I’ll definitely let you know! My song “Aint Gonna Break Me” was chosen to be on the 2012 Songsalive! CD sampler, which gets sent to different producers/television shows, etc.
I’m so grateful to all of you for supporting me along the way. It’s been an amazing journey so far and your encouragement has helped pushed me along.
I nanny 10-month-old twin girls, Clare-Bear and Lu-Lu, four days a week (they’re a lot cuter then my drawing). I experience a little big of heaven each day, well… most days.
I learn a lot from these little people. They keep me busy, chasing them around, while I chase my dreams here in Nashville, Tennessee. I was thinking this afternoon as I enjoy the peaceful sound of ticking clocks (a.k.a. sleeping babies), just how much I’ve learned from them.
What I’ve Learned
1. Naps are very important to Productivity!
I give myself a hard time every time I take a nap because I feel like such a failure. Especially being self-employed and being my own music boss, I can always be doing something, so to take a nap is wasting valuable time. But sometimes I need a nap. If I had a pacifier, I could probably use one of those too. If I don’t beat myself up for taking a nap, I can go back to my work feeling rejuvenated.
2. Falling down can be frustrating, a pain, and can hurt… scream a little, then get back up.
I watch these little peanuts fall down 15 times a day. They remind me that every stage in life has their challenges, that are very real to the person experiencing them. The girls will get mad at the object that they think caused them to fall down, maybe let off some steam with a cry and then get back up and go about their business.
3. When someone tells you no, wait a little while then try again… and again… and again… coming from different angles if you have to.
Oh, the dreadful stairs. Clare is determined to get her little tushy up those stairs. I’ll tell her no, she’ll get mad at me and as soon as I turn my back she’s racing back towards them to attempt the climb. Sometimes I think she looks around for the most dangerous thing possible to play with, just to give me a heart attack. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s not about me. Hmmm…
4. Someone you love (even God) may tell you no and it may make you sooo mad, but forgive quickly and wholeheartedly.
(even if you don’t understand).
I’ll remove them from the object I don’t want them to have, and they’ll get mad at me and cry and sob and throw their heads back, sure that I’m the devil himself, and then… they forget… just like that, and we’re back to normal, hugging, singing, reading books and enjoying life.
5. Kiss and hug the ones you love lots of times during the day.
Sometimes, all you need is a hug!
6. You can find all types of treasures if you look for them, in the every day, ordinary stuff.
Babies don’t need expensive toys to play with, like us adults with the latest I-phones, cars and guitars, etc. They keep it simple, finding magic in flowers, ants and birds… even boxes and plastic containers. They’re a lot more excited to find fuzz under the couch then I am!
7. Sometimes you will never get what you want… but try anyway.
Like the cat that runs away from you every time you chase it and scream in high pitch sounds at it… but try anyway… you never know, you may just wear him out!
8. Make silly faces and funny sounds if you see someone sad… it’ll make them laugh.
I don’t know how they know I’ve had a bad day, but they do. And they make me laugh all the time. As one of my school workshop songs says, “Smiles are contagious! “
9. Belly laugh.
Music to my ears.
10. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat (what a novel idea!).
I’m going to try this one these days!
11. On the same token, when you’re hungry, the whole world can seem mean, cruel and out to get you.
Shane knows very well, if Bonnie Lee’s hungry, get her food. And I don’t know how it happens, but as soon as I eat, the sky suddenly turns brighter and people around me become nicer and I’m like superwoman; I can do anything!
12. Take baths and people will want to sniff you all day long.
13. When you hear music, dance. With your whole body. Get into it.
I turn on music just to watch them dance. They’re fearless. As soon as they hear the beat, their knees start bouncing and their arms start swaying…
I wanna be more like them.
Just finished recording one of my new songs, “Aint Gonna Break Me.”
I wrote this song with my friends Alice Bargeron and Becky Monnier. It was inspired by me getting fired from my waitressing job this fall, for making too many mistakes. As my mom said, “It was another f’in growing experience!” So, I was having a particularly difficult day job searching, and I was feeling discouraged so I pulled out my guitar and came up with the idea for this song. Alice and Becky came over the next day and put their magic on it. And here it is! This is why I love co-writing cause you end up with a finished product that you never would have on your own.
Becky introduced us to Big Ed Moore from California who is the coolest guy ever! I knew of him but didn’t know him personally. He wanted to produce a song for Becky just cause he likes her. How lucky am I!?! Honestly, this was my favorite recording experience to date. He jumped into this song like it was the only song on earth and he put his heart and soul into it! He really believed in it, which made a difference in how I sang it. He captured the feel we had hoped for and made it bigger then I think we ever intended.
I’m eternally grateful for the gift of writing cause it helps me in so many ways. And then to be able to share it with others just blows my mind. Thanks guys for supporting and believing in me! <3
To download for free, go to www.reverbnation.com/BonnieLeePanda
And I don’t mean granny panties!!!!
Recently, I was remembering back to when I graduated from the University of Connecticut, and how lost I felt. I received a Psychology bachelors, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My brother, whom I adored and still do, was having the time of his life singing in his A Cappella group at UConn. I, on the other hand, was living at home with my parents (love you Mom & Les :)). All my friends were still in college, I was working at a full-time job I hated, and I was convinced my ex-boyfriend was running around with cute little girls in sundresses. The jealousy bug crept in… I couldn’t be happy for my brother, even though I wanted to be.
After some reflection, I remembered that I was meant to sing and write music… though I wasn’t… so seeing someone else happy doing what I wanted to do hit a sore nerve. I went downstairs to our computer and looked up singing teachers in New York City. I found a guy who seemed pretty reputable, gave him a call and set up a lesson. Like instant warm water washing over me, my jealousy was gone. I was genuinely happy for my brother. Whenever my eyes are looking outward, watching everyone else but me, I always come up short
I read an article this week by Bob Lefsetz (http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/) called “What it Takes To Make It.” In it he compared the men and women training to be Navy Seals, to the people trying to “make it” in the music industry. He talked about how the men and women who survived the Seal’s hell training were not always the ones you’d think… “The ones who seemed impossibly weak at the beginning- men who puked on runs and had trouble with pull-ups- made it. Some men who were skinny and short whose teeth chattered just looking at the ocean also made it.” Why? I’m sure every person had their own reasons, but it comes down to this… they didn’t give up. They were willing to put in the hard work. They saw a goal, their goal, and pushed through, little by little, not letting set-backs hold them down.
So, who makes it in the music business? The people with the Navy Seal’s mindset. Bob talked about how many of us want “success” overnight… yet we don’t want to put in the hard work to make it happen. We want someone else to do the hard work for us. Ouch… I found some truth in that statement and had to do some soul-searching again. Had to put my “big girl panties on, and deal with it.” While self-honesty is not always an easy pill to swallow, there is so much power in awareness… cause I can make changes when I see what needs to be changed.
First, I had to decide what “success” means to me. This was very important to me! The world wants me to believe that the only way to “success” in the music business is to be on a major label on mainstream radio stations, touring my life away. Yet, success to me is writing and recording songs for the rest of my life, being financially abundant doing what I love, and bringing happiness to others through my music. That’s attainable to me, and I don’t need to depend on someone else to give me my “success.”
It’s hard to follow our dreams. I’ve used these statements a lot, “I don’t know how,” or “I don’t know what to do.” I’ll have a few hours of beautiful time to accomplish some stuff on my list, and all I want to do is take a nap. It’s overwhelming. My songwriter friend gets up at 4 in the morning to write and play music before he goes to work at 6. Yeah… I know… crazy!! I think, “Oh my gosh, I wanna be that dedicated!” I have trouble getting up at 7. Yet, I can put that dedication to work in my own life. I can stop waiting for someone else to swoop in and do it for me, and just do it, one small step at a time!
One of my mentors, Jimbeau Hinson, told me early on, “Bonnie Lee, be genuinely happy for your friends when they succeed. Don’t allow jealousy to creep in.” He’s a brilliant man! In these next few years, as I watch my friends get record deals and songs cut, I’m gonna be the loudest cheerleader in their corner, rooting them on, with my eyes on MY goals. I’m blown away by gratitude at the awareness’s I’ve had recently!
I had the honor of playing with two of my mentors (Jimbeau Hinson and Marc-Alan Barnette) last Friday night at the 2011 Tin Pan South event. What an experience! Allen Shervelle and I put our best foot forward and tried to keep up with the big boys. Gotta say, I felt we held our own. I did get a little nervous when I had to sing after Jimbeau’s song, “Fancy Free,” a 1981 No. 1 hit sung by the Oakridge Boys. Yet, being rooted on by the audience and my friends on stage gave me a shot of adrenaline and I gave it my all.
I had just moved to Nashville last year during Tin Pan South, so this was an extra special time for me. My One-Year Nashville Anniversary! Can’t believe it was a year ago when Shanie said, “Why don’t you move to Nashville for the summer… it’s always been your dream, what do you got to lose?” Neither of us knew at the time that I would fall in love with this beautiful town and the people in it. So for today, here we are!
Here’s a little video of me singing “Twinkle, Twinkle” to my year-old nephew on my trip back to CT. I miss my North East friends a ton… I’m planning a week long tour in CT this summer… so I’ll see you soon!!