Ladies First

 

 

I am still riding the wave of the goodness of Rock Camp. That week generally leaves me feeling strong and comfortable in my gender. I smile when I see a female doing something radical or bold. I openly support women I know and women I don’t as they pursue their dreams. I feel grateful to have this female experience.

 

None of that means I am anti-male. I adore men. I’m married to one, for cry-eye! Being a feminist and a strong woman doesn’t equal discrimination against males. On the contrary, it equals respect. I have that in spades.

 

But I digress. Because I’m feeling all girly-proud and what-not, I got such a kick out of something I recently learned: the first known author and poet to sign work and leave a lasting record of writing was Enheduanna – a woman. She lived over 4000 years ago (yes – four thousand) in ancient Mesopotamia and her writings are still referenced and translated today by contemporary authors. Wow.

 

I’m guessing there were other poets, perhaps writing at earlier times. And their works may be documented somewhere. But the first person to leave a signature with a work was Enheduanna. And I get a kick out of that. I hope I remember this historical tidbit, and I hope I smile whenever it glides across my mind. Honestly, how could I not smile? Honestly…

Rock Camp 2015 – Showcase at The Troubadour & Wrap-up

 

 

Saturday was this year’s Rock Camp showcase and it all went down at The World Famous Troubadour!

 

Though the day’s moments followed the same order as those of years past, it was fresh and exciting. Each of the camper bands was unique. And all the campers were bold and brave.

 

 

I witnessed young girls taking the stage and owning microphones, shredding on lead guitars and bass guitars, wailing on keys, ripping on drums – and every girl on that stage was a Rock Star. It was astounding to hear their songs and watch their performances. I was not only impressed, I was also moved. It was a beautiful way to end a week at Rock Camp. And it touched my heart.

 

After the last camper band left the stage, our interns for the week performed an original composition. Then all the campers took the stage for the last time and collectively sang the camp theme song. And just like that – it was all over. Rock Camp 2015 came to a close.

 

 

I want to be honest with you. I do. With that in mind, I admit that the very end of Day 5 was challenging for me. I am not at liberty to disclose specific details, but I can tell you I felt so many things that broke my heart. I was disappointed in myself. I doubted my contributions. I wondered if I truly belonged. That last one really stung, because all week long I kept thinking how amazing it felt to be an integral part of the team that makes Rock Camp happen each year. I love those volunteers. More than once I’ve said they are my tribe. And I’ve meant it. Doubting my place among them hurt. Still does. I’m guessing the pain won’t subside for some time.

 

Usually at Rock Camp, campers and volunteers learn of new abilities. Their eyes are opened to their being able to claim a new talent or skill. I love that about Rock Camp and I’ve counted myself lucky to have experienced my own growth during camp. This year, I learned of my limitations. And while I absolutely do not like it, I did still learn something. And I’m trying to see that as growth. I’m trying.

 

Finally – many parents approached me at The Troubadour to tell me how much they appreciated my greeting them and their girls in the parking lot each morning. Some parents shared lovely things their girls had said about me. Some parents simply told me I had helped them start their own days with a smile. All those nice words made me feel a bit better. So did the sweet note I received from a fellow volunteer, thanking me for my work during the week. But the thing that really pushed me over the top and into cry-eye mode happened on the stage.

 

 

The band I and 2 other volunteers coached this week was called “Apparently Famous.” Those 4 campers were so utterly amazing, I almost couldn’t process it. They were – each of them – kind, intelligent, respectful, open-minded, polite and ready to rock. Anyhoo – after they had finished performing their song, “Devils in Heaven,” they leaned into their microphones and in unison said, “Thank you, Mikki!” Just typing the words makes me cry. I don’t know why they did it. I don’t know why I was singled out. I mean, they had 2 other amazing volunteer coaches all week, too. Why my name was spoken is a mystery. Tremendously appreciated, but a mystery all the same.

 

Sometimes when I’m doubting my place in this world, when my value as a human soul is questioned within, when I just don’t know if I matter – the universe reaches out to me to get my attention, to remind me to hang in there. Sometimes I get it. Sometimes I don’t. At Saturday’s showcase, the universe reached out to me through the voices of parents, volunteers and 4 amazing young girls, who absolutely-positively made my day. No matter what my future holds, I will always be grateful for those Apparently Famous campers and their loving hearts.

Recovering, Thank-You-Very-Much

 

 

So yesterday was the big Rock Camp Showcase. And I am so looking forward to sharing the deets with you, as well as wrapping up my thoughts about this year’s camp. But let’s be honest – I’m beat. I left all my emotions and energy at the club. So forgive me. I’m dragging.

 

Tomorrow, friends. That’s when I’ll share the showcase fun. Promise…

Rock Camp 2015 – Day 5

 

 

As I write this, I am almost too tired to keep my eyes open. So forgive my fumbling in describing Day 5, the last day of Rock Camp.

 

The Bulls (shown above) played during lunchtime and I simply cannot describe how tight and amazing this band was. We could hear their sound-check during Vocals Instruction and I was blown away then. To see them perform so ably was mesmerizing.

 

 

Speaking of Vocals Instruction, I am grateful to have spent my week teaching alongside these fabulous women. Chaska, Nikki and Eesh blew my mind. They are brilliant, compassionate women and I count myself lucky to volunteer alongside them.

 

Here’s the deal. I thought Day 5 was fabulous. I was in love with it, in fact. And I think it was a solid day for the campers. They all finished their songs and had an informative and nerve-settling stage run-through. Just like every year, their songs were amazing. And I can hardly wait for them to perform at the big Showcase. Did I mention these girls are all playing at the world-famous Troubadour? Well they are. And they’re going to crush it.

 

 

As great as the day was, as much as I loved it, I can’t honestly say it ended well for me. I don’t want to go into details and I probably won’t – period – but I will tell you that a lot of self-doubt draped itself over me at the end of the night. And I’m not sure how long it will take for me to process that. Or what the outcome will be. That breaks my heart, because I care tremendously about these people and the universe we have all worked to create. And after having the best week ever at Rock Camp, well, I didn’t want Day 5 to end on a trembling, low note. But I’m being honest here, as much as I can be without over-sharing. I guess I just have to ride out my truth, whatever it may be.

 

All of that being said, tomorrow is the Big Showcase. And I hope that each and every camper truly comes away from that feeling like a rock star. With all my heart…

Rock Camp 2015 – Day 4

 

 

Every year at Rock Camp, Day 3 is usually what we call Breakdown/Breakthrough Day. Emotions run high. Energy is waning. Basically – a lot of what’s been bubbling beneath the surface finds its way out. And while there can be great discomfort involved, these breakdowns really do lead to legit breakthroughs. It’s beautiful.

 

 

Well – this year it would seem Day 4 was the New Day 3. And I want you to know what that looked like. Bands that have struggled to write any part of their songs somehow managed to write their entire songs. Rhythm struggles were ironed out. Melodies were found. Campers who were absolutely certain they didn’t want to go anywhere near a microphone decided to sing along on their song’s chorus. A lot of bravery went down. It was impressive. It was admirable. It was amazing to witness and we volunteers know exactly how privileged we were to have been present during those moments.

 

Another fab occurrence of Day 4 was Screen Printing. Each band came up with their own logos and then they screen printed their own t-shirts. Each year I am blown away by the creativity and artistic talent of these girls, and this year was no exception. I love, love, love their band shirts! And don’t even get me started on the volunteers who facilitated this workshop. Honestly – the process gets smoother and smoother each year. I couldn’t believe how quickly our band finished their shirts. And when the session was over, there were all these beautiful, crazy, cool t-shirts hanging in the breeze. It was a glorious sight.

 

 

At the end of the evening, we realized we have only one more day of camp before the showcase. It would be easy to say how far the campers have to go, to focus on the work yet to be done, but I’m not worried. They’re gonna crush it. They will. And I get to see it. Wow.

Rock Camp 2015 – Day 3

 

 

Okay. Are you sitting down? Yes? Because it’s about to get real up in here…

 

Katy Perry stopped by Rock Camp at lunchtime for a Q & A session with the campers. There were fun questions and there were deep, thoughtful questions. And I have to tell you – I for one was girl-crushing. Hard. Ms. Perry spoke plainly and honestly to the campers. And she was so kind and lovely. Personally, I found her to be intelligent, thoughtful and open. I’ve always been a bit of a Katy Perry fan (true story), but now I’m all in.

 

A lot of other great things happened yesterday, and I was so honored to be there. My intention for yesterday was to take things to the Next Level. And you know what? I did. We all did. Right on!

Rock Camp 2015 – Day 2

 

 

 

Day 2 was, well…

 

I’m almost afraid to talk about it, lest I jinx myself. And I’m not kidding. Because Day 2 – much like Day 1 – was so utterly drama-free (for me) that I can hardly believe it. There was a flow, a rhythm. I know others around me were working through challenges, and I know they took care of business. But for me, the day was lovely. There – I said it.

 

For those who’ve never played along at home, one of our morning rituals at Rock Camp is a short skit put on by The Famous – Rock Camp – Skit Time – Players! These volunteers take issues that arise at camp and turn them into a skit. It’s a teaching and learning tool. This part of the morning is usually hilarious and enlightening. And I for one truly appreciate their approach to rough spots.

 

In other news – the band I’m working with wrote and played their chorus! This is major and they did it in such a beautiful fashion. They practiced cooperation, kindness and a willingness to try. Honestly – they’re blowing my mind.

 

And before I forget to share, let me say that the lunchtime entertainment was provided by various volunteers. And I was one of them. My intention for Day 2 was to Be Brave (something we’re always encouraging the campers to try). So I got up and did a song. Can I just tell you something? Those little girls are a tough room! I’m kidding. They were great audience members.

 

Anyhoo – I made about a jillion mistakes, but when I pointed that out to our band, they said they couldn’t tell. I asked them why they thought they couldn’t tell and they said because I didn’t stop and instead just kept going. I think they got it, and I think they understand a little more now. Those girls rule!

Rock Camp 2015 – Day 1

 

 

Yesterday was Day 1 of Rock Camp and it was awesome! First thing, I hit my usual duty of greeting campers in the parking lot, and I had fab-o company, as a few volunteers joined and helped. We like to high-five the arriving campers (and their parents/guardians) and help get the good vibes going. The campers aren’t always sure how to respond, it being Day 1 and all, but the parents are sure. They love it! It’s the kind of thing that puts their minds at ease. After all – we’re caring for their children. It’s a big deal.

 

 

So after morning assembly, instrument instruction went down and then it was lunchtime. Day 1′s lunch entertainment was Storeetellers and they were amazing. I loved their energy and their spirit, and their songs were such fun! In the real world, lunchtime concerts aren’t that easy to come by. At Rock Camp, it’s a daily happening and I adore it.

 

 

The rest of the day went by smoothly. The campers formed bands. They had songwriting workshops. They had band practice. And in a snap, it was time for the afternoon assembly and then Day 1 was over.

 

 

On the way home, I was thinking how lovely it was. There was so much support from other volunteers and everyone worked together to make the day happen. Personally, I didn’t experience any drama all day. Honestly, I was so relaxed that on the way home I nearly fell asleep. You know what they say: Teamwork makes the dream work.

 

True dat, Troy. True dat.

Rock Camp 2015 – Orientation & Chicas Rockeras SELA

 

 

Before I get into orientation for Rock and Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, allow me to share a bit of what went down Saturday…

 

After seeing a need in a largely Spanish-speaking part of L.A. County, one of the fab volunteers at Rock Camp, Marin, decided to do something. She wanted to provide the awesome Rock Camp experience to the girls in that part of town. Chicas Rockeras South East Los Angeles was born.

 

 

Marin wanted to use community resources to the greatest extent she could. She went local, you know? Her volunteers, her donors, her locations – all were from or in South East L.A. (SELA), and all were righteous.

 

 

A bunch of volunteers from Rock Camp headed down to SELA on Saturday afternoon for their inaugural showcase and it was amazing! The campers crushed it and they couldn’t stop smiling. Their songs were deep and thought-provoking. The SELA volunteers were beaming and clearly did a great job. It was my first Rock Camp showcase, where I was merely a concert-goer. I wasn’t involved with their camp, and it was an odd feeling. It was also a great feeling. I cheered and yelled and danced and had a beautiful time. And I kept it together. I really did. Right up until a band left the stage. As they entered the audience, a dad of one of the girls came rushing up to his daughter and said, “That was awesome!” and he high-fived his young rocker. Cue the water-works, people. I don’t know why it got me, but it did. And I liked it. I do believe the Chicas Rockeras SELA program will continue to grow and thrive. What a precious gift for their community.

 

 

 

Last night was Rock Camp Orientation. This is when we volunteers get together and prepare for the week ahead. Many of us are returning volunteers, but there’s always a new batch of excited, giving souls, ready to join our tribe.

 

It can be a nervous time. Think about it – you’re coming into an obviously tight-knit community where you don’t know a soul, and you may be wondering what you have to offer or if you even belong. It’s silly, I suppose, but you’d be surprised how many of us have had those very thoughts and associated feelings. We are all more the same than not.

 

I won’t lie – I’m dragging a bit. But I’m also terribly excited and in love with this group of beautiful souls. Do you know this marks the 6th year I am associating with my tribe? Do you know how blessed I am to not only be able to say that but also to live it? Well I am.

 

And now – it is time. Bring on the campers…

Are You Ready For The Summer?

 

 

It’s the first day of Summer! It’s Rock Camp orientation day! It’s hotter than Satan’s butthole!

 

How about we all try to make this summer count, huh? How about we all try to grab a spark of what it felt like, as kids, to really be alive during the summer. I don’t mean all summer long, although if you can pull that off, I will bow to you and your awesomeness. No – I mean just once or twice. Maybe during a barbecue or an al fresco dinner. Or maybe during an afternoon session of shelling beans on a porch, or sipping lemonade in the shade.

 

It only takes a moment to really be present