High Fives For All My Friends!

 

 

The last couple of days have found me feeling fairly grand. I’m in a good mood. I feel energetic and alive. Everywhere I look, I see something awesome. And I’ve caught myself – a couple of times – very nearly high-fiving strangers.

 

If I were coming off a week at Rock Camp, I’d attribute my state of grace to that. But Rock Camp hasn’t happened yet. And I didn’t make it to Ladies Rock Camp last weekend. So what gives?

 

Well, I did hang out with my friend Betro, and she told me all I’d missed at Ladies Camp. Then I hung out with Baker Jen, and she shared her experiences of Ladies Camp. Put them together, and apparently I have vicariously caught the excellent Rock Camp vibes. What a feat!

 

I gotta tell ya – this has caught me by surprise. It’s a wonderful surprise, granted, but a surprise just the same. And as I’m reveling in the glow of all this love, I’m also thinking about how amazing these people truly are. We are, without a doubt, the most positive friggin’ group I’ve ever encountered. We’re human, sure, but we lift each other and support each other in ways most folks have never known. And while Girls Rock Camp Alliance is an international organization with super-duper branches all over the globe, I have heard from multiple volunteers that what we’ve managed to create here in Los Angeles is the envy of many camps. Honestly, it makes me love and appreciate us even more.

 

This year I’m crazy-excited for a friend who’s signed up to volunteer at Rock Camp. I’ve known for a while that she is perfect for our tribe and that she just needed to commit. As scheduling has permitted, she’s done it and I can hardly wait! She has no idea how rad these chicks are. How much fun it is to watch the kids as they explore and become themselves. How emotional it is to be around this level of support. How she’ll never be the same after volunteering with Rock Camp L.A.

 

To be sure, we’re an exclusive lot. And we welcome everyone with open arms. All that’s required of volunteers is that they show up and let the positive waves wash over them. That’s it. Well – that and a lot of high-fiving. Seriously – on that front we’re a sick bunch. Deliriously so.

Moments

 

 

Every now and then I experience moments of clarity. I’d like this to be the norm and not the exception, but to paraphrase a wise kid – I get what I get.

 

I didn’t always have these moments. I certainly don’t remember having them when I was in 5th grade and the popular girls had parties. I was always invited to those parties, but I never quite knew why. Instead of just going with it and having a good time, I searched my mind trying to figure out what could possibly have led to my being included in their elite circle.

 

I also didn’t have these moments in high school. I had friends, and we hung out. But a part of me wondered how long that would last. When would the other shoe drop?

 

I believe that sort of thinking – the kind filled with self-doubt – continued well into adulthood. Sometimes I’m still amazed to be included in the lives of others. And though I no longer spend my party time obsessing over why I’m there and instead just enjoy myself, I do still wonder.

 

But not as often as I once did. For now I’ve found my tribe and in doing so, I guess I’ve sort of found me. I realized all this yesterday when I was grocery-shopping with my friend Betro. (For the record, if you’ve never gone grocery-shopping with a friend, you’re truly missing out. It makes the task downright pleasurable!) She was filling me in on all I missed during this past weekend’s Ladies Rock Camp session. As she shared stories about Lady Campers and their performances, about fellow volunteers, about the overall breakthroughs experienced by all, I felt myself beginning to cry. Right there in the salad dressing aisle. By the time I asked if she’d tried a particular poppy seed dressing, it was through strained tears. Naturally, we laughed at ourselves and finished the shopping. We cried together a bit more on the way home, and then I dropped her off at her house and headed in the direction of my own, but not before we hugged each other tightly and said how we feel about one another.

 

Before I had even left her street, I started crying again. This time, it was because I had one of those moments of clarity: I realized I have wonderful friends who love me as deeply as I love them. I gotta tell ya – owning that is huge. Accepting that we are loved – truly loved – by others, is monumental, folks. I highly recommend it.

 

Rock Camp is coming up in only a few weeks and I plan to be there. For the kids. For the volunteers. For myself. And I already know I’m going to be drowning in those wonderful, beautiful, tear-filled moments of clarity. I’ll take it.

For Friends

 

 

Today I’m having a bash for my friends. My Rock Camp friends, to be precise.

 

All week I’ve been cleaning and prepping. I started marinating certain foods on Wednesday, and I’ve been collecting beer for over a week. Is this crazy? Maybe. But when you’re doing something for your friends, you don’t mind. In fact, you’re happy to prepare. I mean, we’re talking friends here, people! Friends! I’m so grateful for the ones I’ve got that I gladly put in effort toward their enjoyment. After all, why not?

 

All that being said, it’s Party Day. And I’m hoping the planning pays off and that I get to enjoy the company of my friends. They are truly a fabulous lot.

Ladies Rock Camp

 

 

Today will find me working the first day of Ladies Rock Camp. That means an early start (which is sooooooooooo not Rock & Roll) and a late night (which is sooooooooooo very Rock & Roll). It will be an intense 3 days. For the Lady Campers and the volunteers.

 

I wish I could find the words to explain what it means for me to participate in this organization (Rock & Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles). How it’s changed my life. How I’ve grown as a person through volunteering. How much I love the other volunteers. But words fail me. And that’s okay.

 

I’m about to be exhausted. From the sheer number of hours involved. From the multitude of high-fives. From the smiling. And I am about to witness 40 grown women living out a dream. If only for a weekend.

 

I’ll take it.

Rock Camp Dates Announced!

 

 

I realize not all of you are in the L.A. area. Heck, some of you aren’t even in America. And some of you aren’t of the lady variety either. So this post may not be at all relevant to you…

 

Rock Camp dates have been announced! Ladies Rock Camp dates and enrollment info can be found here. This powerful weekend provides the opportunity for adult ladies to get their inner rock star on, all while providing scholarship money for a girl to attend summer camp.

 

Rock Camp dates for girls can be found here. This amazing week is designed to empower girls through music. Those of you who know me are more than aware of my commitment to this non-profit and all it does for girls. I am so blessed to have been a part of it the last 4 summers and I’m already excited about this year! If you have a young girl in your life (between the ages of 8 and 17), please look into this. I have witnessed amazing growth in Rock Camp attendees. Honestly, I don’t have enough superlatives to fully express my love for this non-profit. It is more amazing than I can say. You just have to trust me on this.

 

And please, please, please pass this on to anyone you know in the L.A. area who might be interested. Grown women, little girls – share, share, share! You’ll be making someone very happy. And you’ll be producing good karma, to boot. Woo-hoo!

My Weekend at Ladies Rock Camp – Part 2

 

Before I cover the Ladies Rock Camp showcase, I want to touch on a few other points…

 

 

The food! We eat well at Ladies Rock Camp. 3 squares. Leftovers. There is not only plenty of sustenance, it is also delicious. The days are long and there’s a lot of running up and down stairs, so food is important.

 

 

The school! Immaculate Conception School in downtown Los Angeles is such a blessing to our organization. They generously provide their space, in exchange for a few scholarships for their young students when Girls Rock Camp rolls around. The school is safe, comfortable and redolent with kindness. As volunteers, we cover the full spectrum in our beliefs. I think I can safely say we all appreciate the warmth felt in this Catholic school.

 

 

The volunteers! I can’t tell you what an honor it is to know this fabulous group of women. From Rock Goddess to Baker, and everything in between, we are diverse, positive and hopeful. We somehow manage to come together for a united cause and there isn’t an ounce of negativity to be found. Here we are, with all our female energy, supporting each other and the campers. There are a lot of feelings, yes. We ride the waves of those emotions, while lifting and openly cheering one another. Many Lady Campers commented about how there was not a smidge of snarkiness or cattiness to be found during the weekend. And they were right. I don’t know how we do it. I guess we’re a self-selecting group. If someone did come in with a negative chip on her shoulder, she’d just have to raise her game. Because we’re floating high, friends, and we refuse to sink.

 

Personally, I’ve been blessed to teach vocals with some fan-tabulous babes. As long as they’ll have me, I’ll keep returning.

 

 

Now! On with the show…

 

First up was “Durable Power”…

 

 

Next was “G-Rated”…

 

 

Then came “Where’s the Exit?”…

 

 

“Blue Lotus” then took the stage…

 

 

“Radio Static” was next…

 

 

“The Paper Dolls” followed…

 

 

Closing out the night was “Lava Jeans”…

 

 

And just like that, it was over. All the work, all the laughter, all the tears – came to an end.

 

Rock Camp is a crazy experience. We leave our inhibitions at the door and dive right in, mostly with complete strangers. After a few short days, we’ve gone through a metamorphosis. We’ve shed our old skin and revealed something more closely resembling who we’re meant to be. And there are no bells, no whistles. With no fanfare, we are expected to return to our “real” lives and pick up where we left off. But we’re not the same. So how can we carry on as if we are?

 

I don’t have any answers. I only know I’m trying to hold on to some of what I gained this last weekend, wherever I go. It’s okay if the guy at the hardware store doesn’t understand why I just high-fived him for making a key for me. When the produce guy at the grocery store brings fresh fruit for me from the back, and I hit him with “Right on!”, that’s okay, too. No one has to know I’m channeling my inner Rock Goddess. No one. Just me, and each and every Lady Rock Camper and Volunteer who is also walking around out there, being sublime. Being awesome. Being who we’re meant to be.

 

PS – This is Whitney…

 

 

I didn’t get to work with her all weekend, and then she came and found me just before her band (“Where’s the Exit?”) took the stage at the showcase. She said she was from Georgia and had heard I was, too. She’d been told I was from Griffin, GA. I said I was born in Griffin, but was actually from a few miles down the road, in Zebulon. She didn’t believe me, to which I responded, “Pike County, Baby!” Then she knew I was straight-true. Whitney is from Zebulon, too.

 

As I watched her confidently ripping her guitar part during her band’s performance, it occurred to me that 2 gals from Zebulon were living the dream in Los Angeles. One was spreading her wings. One was reminded of her roots…

My Weekend at Ladies Rock Camp – Part 1

 

 

I disappeared from “regular life” all weekend and was a vocal instructor at Ladies Rock Camp. I’ve volunteered at Rock Camp for Girls L.A. the last 2 years. Ladies Rock Camp is a shortened version of that, with grown-ups. And all the Lady Rockers’ tuition goes to scholarships for girls in the summer. Win-win! I believe in this organization, so I volunteered for the adult version.

 

We had 30 Lady campers this session. They came from all over the globe. There isn’t a lot of time, so it’s pretty intense. These women arrived at lunchtime on Friday. They then formed a band, wrote an original song, learned their instruments and performed live on-stage Sunday night. If you’re not completely agog, you should be. Some of these ladies had never so much as touched a guitar, bass, drumstick or microphone! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

Friday’s session began at 11 am and ran until around 8:45 that evening. The day included not only instrument instruction and band practice, but also workshops on songwriting, vocals, guitar/bass set-up, drum set-up/tuning, PA system set-up, pedals & looping and a short history of women in rock. Lunch and dinner were squeezed in there, too. By the end of the night, most everyone was dragging. A few hearty souls did end up going out for some extra socializing. Alas, I was not among them. I got home around 9:30 and hit the hay.

 

 

 

Saturday’s session kicked off at 9 am. There was more instrument instruction and band practice. The day also featured workshops on self defense, band name/logo design and screen-printing t-shirts. Before dinner, there was a showcase run-through. The ladies got to practice their songs on a real stage. These run-throughs are truly beneficial and help everyone involved. Kinks are worked out. Fears are recognized. Strengths are honored. And it’s the first time the entire group hears all the band songs. It’s pretty freaking exciting!

 

 

By around 8:35, most of us were again too tuckered out to do much more than get some sleep. But since this is Rock & Roll, some did fight the bear and braved the night. I think you probably know into which group I fell. That’s right – slumberzzzzzz….

 

Sunday morning began at 9. The day was workshop light (with only 1 – recording) and there was no dedicated instrument instruction. Most of the time was spent in band practice, as the showcase was that night. The Ladies did have band photos taken, and they looked amazing!

 

By 5 pm, we all gathered for a closing assembly. Each attendee and volunteer was asked to share what they were taking away from the experience. It was such a love-fest. And such a tear-fest. (We are chicks, after all.) We all circled up, had one last “Rock!” yell and then the campers headed to The Satellite in Silver Lake for the night’s showcase. Several volunteers stayed behind to pack up everything at our weekend’s location and then we all made our way to the club.

 

Everyone was exhausted, but too excited to care. Nervous energy floated through the club, from performer to volunteer, to friends, family and back again. At the appointed time, the stage lights dimmed and the first band was introduced…

 

 

 

To be continued…