Saturday, November 27, 2010

Social networking...

I think I get it!

Social networking is good for business!

Yes, I was told that a year ago and I’ve been aware of it to a certain level since then, but today I managed to GET it!

Last year at this time, I was working for a firm in New Brunswick and we had been invited to an event known as a “Tweet Up” where users of Twitter gather and meet up. In discussion with Carter McLaughlin and Tim Scammell, I learned that such networks as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc are all about building relationships.

OK, that’s a stumper. What does that mean exactly? I have trouble with some relationships face-to-face, so what can Social Media offer me?

Well, to start with, there’s the safety of not being in a room with somebody. I know that sounds weird, but sometimes being in direct contact with others makes me feel awkward, insecure, or intimidated. (especially if it’s someone I look up to) Connecting by means of Social Networking Media keeps a level of separation in place where intimidation and awkwardness don’t (or can’t) exist. That allows me to speak (write) more freely and review what I say before I send it out to the other person.

But I discovered something else... It’s not about me! And in recognizing that, it became a benefit to me!


“How does that work,” you may ask...

OK, here’s how it happened for me. I follow people I know on Twitter, and also strangers (as in I haven’t met them) who do things I am interested in such as drumming, cycling, self-empowerment etc. In the process of that, someone I follow mentioned a podcast he had heard and included a link to it. I clicked on the link, dug the ‘cast, and subscribed. Once I became a subscriber, I downloaded other ‘casts and began listening... and learning.

This particular podcast is very diverse and covers many topics, often several per episode. Sometimes it is a short passage of only a few seconds that answers a question I’ve been asking for years. Other times, there is a secret that no one else knows, and this is where the learning begins for me. I learn something that can be used to my advantage in making me a better drummer.

True Social Networking would dictate that I would share this information and allow everyone to develop this skill and we would all have it at our disposal to use at will. There has however, been a long history of “Knowledge is power,” where knowing something others don’t is the same as having an “upper hand.”

Gone are those days of keeping information to ourselves in order to maintain power and control... Today, it’s all about sharing everything we know with the understanding that we will use that knowledge differently anyway, because we are all individuals with individual approaches to everything.

Another way it has worked to my advantage is financially. Again, because I follow someone on Twitter, I got connected with someone else who offered me a part-time PR position of sorts. This is a paid position and it’s not only in an area where I apparently have some expertise, but it’s also something I really enjoy doing!

Social networking has other advantages as well. I have several friends who no longer live here. Through the cyber-magic of social media, I can stay in touch immediately. Through them, I have met others of similar interests and together, we have great (albeit short) conversations about our favourite activities. Not only can I learn more about the things that bring me money, but also the things I do to unwind and enjoy life. I’m learning about far and distant lands I will likely never see, and my circle of “friends” is growing ever larger.

Heck, not long ago I was exchanging witticisms with Prince’s former drummer Sheila E!

~Still Wandering….

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bloggin' & Vloggin' are good for the noggin!

When I first began blogging, I had serious doubts whether or not I had anything worthy of publication. At first, my blogging was sporadic and I had thoughts of abandoning it. However, I “stuck it out” and realized it was not only therapeutic, but I was developing my writing skills which would one day lead me to more adventures in creative writing.

Once I became more comfortable with writing in general and blogging specifically, I began to keep a word document on which to jot down ideas and expand upon them over time. My last entry came together very quickly and took priority over several other ideas that I have been working on for some time.

Other ideas I have are more controversial and I feel reluctant to post them due to the fact that I could anger some people or be misunderstood by others. I can talk about these topics with some face-to-face, but I’m still reluctant to put it out there.

So I rewrite and revise...

I always manage to forget a key element in my blogs however.

Since Music is such a large part of my life; indeed at times it seems to BE life, I always intend to post what I am listening to at the time of posting. Perhaps with a bit of prodding from my readers I will be forced to remember.

Besides my blog, I’m also vlogging. I have a good friend who has two vlogs, and manages to keep them not only interesting but also diverse and entertaining. To top it off, he has a job, a blog AND a podcast AND an infant son, AND he runs marathons. Enjoy it while you can Kevin, the energy you now posess will someday run out. lol

But vlogging is something I took to rather willingly and it requires a form of thinking that I enjoy. The learning curve required in editing was a bit frustrating at first, but I enjoy it now. The best thing about vlogging is that it appears on your screen like a TV show, in real time, (sort of) so you don’t have to read it!

And I know how much some of you hate reading. Lol

Listening to: Drummertalk podcast

~Still Wandering…

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The People and Places We Love

I’m stuck...

I think we are all intrinsically connected to the place of our birth, the place that was a part of our memories during our formative years.

I was born and raised in central New Brunswick. As a youth waiting to become an adult there, I couldn’t wait to get away and become a famous drummer. Once I finished high school, I moved to the nearest city, thirty-five miles (56 kilometres) away and established a life there. Within a few years of that I was busy touring and rarely saw the city, let alone the tiny village where I spent the first nineteen years of my life. There came a time when, after a few bad relationships and a yearning for adventure, I made a conscious decision to leave the area where I had been born and spent so much time as a child, adolescent, and young adult. There was a big wonderful world out there and I wanted to see it, and as a touring musician, I could live pretty much anywhere I chose to anyway!

I eventually settled in another province, in a region where the music was like water from a tap. One didn’t have to search for it; it was everywhere! It was this music that drew me to the place where I now live.

The following twenty seven years have been tumultuous, often painful and frequently very rewarding. Sometime in that period, I began to miss the streets of the tiny village and city where I used to live. I had experienced a number of incidents with which I think you are all familiar by now, and I think I needed the familiarity of home.

I was able to return to where I began life to visit more frequently as time passed and money became slightly more available. Each time I would visit, I would make a point of going to a few special places each time, and I’d be certain to visit a few choice friends and relatives. As well, I’d attempt to see at least one place and one person I hadn’t seen in a longer while. This put my mind at great ease and brought me remarkable peace.

When I returned to Fredericton a little more than a year ago, I thought I had completed the circle.

That was when I made a very important discovery. The place I loved most is a wonderful place, but the people I love most are in quite another place!

I had always known this I think, but it didn’t really register. At least until I began feeling very lonely.

I had known many people in Fredericton when I had lived there, but many months after I moved, I had only managed to reconnect with two or three people besides my family. The people who most frequently came to my mind were those I had come to know and love in Cape Breton: My partner of now twenty three years, my Reiki teacher and her daughter who is my acupuncturist, my Reiki students and fellow practitioners, my Taiji friends, the Cycling club, musicians, and many others. I was feeling as lost in Fredericton as I often do here in Cape Breton.



This is not to say that the people in New Brunswick aren’t terrific people; they are! But I know so few of them outside my ever shrinking family circle. Besides my Mom, sister, niece and nephew, and a handful of cousins and their spouses, it seems I know no one there anymore. And no matter how clean and lovely the streets are, they don’t hold much allure if they’re populated with strangers.

Last Friday, after one of my friends finished work, her sister-in-law and I met her for coffee near her workplace. As I sat there with these two charming, intelligent women, I felt I was in the right place. Two days later, on Sunday evening, my partner and I walked to her cousin’s house nearby. On our way home, I looked off across the horizon toward the bay and the lights beyond, once again feeling the familiarity I once felt in the village and city I sometimes miss. At times, I wonder why I ever left there and occasionally I feel regret. Yet the old axiom stands, home truly is where the heart is.

... and my heart has two homes!

~Still Wandering…

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Accepting one’s DNA

As a pre-teenage boy, my one passionate desire was to play drums in a successful band; touring, recording, appearing on television…. At age fourteen, I received a small but functional drumset for Christmas and by the time school reconvened after New Year’s, I was in a band with a few of my schoolmates.

As I progressed through high school, I was fortunate enough to be in a situation where I was playing every weekend and getting paid quite adequately for my efforts. As I entered my twenties, I began to become disillusioned and disenchanted with the music business and decided to quit, the first of several attempts to "retire."

By the time I had turned twenty-five, I was back at the drums, bigger and better than ever and by October of that year I was preparing for a tour of western Canada with a group who only a month earlier I was enjoying on the radio.

As I entered my thirties, I found myself married and “settled down” in a situation where touring was not an option. (That marriage ended poorly because I refused to allow someone else make my choices for me)

As a result of being “off the road,” I began to teach. In retrospect, I can only see that as a blessing because as I taught, I learned! When I once again began playing, I had a great deal more knowledge to apply which made me more versatile and well-rounded.

At that time, I was freelancing; playing with up to four bands and teaching at the same time. Slowly, the playing tapered off and the teaching was less than I had wanted it to be. When a fire broke out in 1997 and wiped out the space I had been renting as a teaching studio, taking everything musical I owned, I was convinced my career was over. However, a fundraiser was held and I came home with a new drumset, the same ones I use today.

It took a while to become re-established as a player, and I suffered many “dark days of the soul” while the Universe completed her plans. Once the planets lined up properly, I was once again playing steadily and touring great distances.

As in the past, the situation changed, and in the fall of the year 2000, twenty years after I had first become a professional drummer, I was a drummer no longer.

For whatever reason, drumming jobs were no longer coming in like in the past. I tried moving to another location to search for gigs, but competition was great, and I was running out of money fast. I chose to return to my current home before the opportunity to do so was no longer available. I repeated this behaviour in 2004, again with no success.

In 2005 I received a call to join a band I had been a part of briefly in 1989. It was not a touring or recording act, but there would be a degree of regular income, and very little pressure. By July 2006 however, I was becoming concerned with the damage to my hearing from the volume of the band and I chose to once again “retire.”

I returned to teaching, this time for a local music store, meaning no overhead to pay. The situation was ideal for many months but I was always open to better offers. When one such offer came, I took a “day job” as a writer in Fredericton NB and took my future there with me. Early in January 2010 that situation also changed.

It was after returning yet again to my current home and enduring several months of wondering what was next that I received yet another call from Bad Habits. Initially I was to fill in for two weeks while they searched for a replacement for the chap who had replaced me and who was now unable to play due to a health problem. The option was always open for me to become their full-time drummer if I chose and after the initial two gigs, I chose to stay on.

That has been a very long preamble to say that I am now ready to accept the fact that I was born to play drums. It could be said that drumming is in my DNA. I have also decided that in my own particular case at least, DNA stands for Do Not Argue! I am once again in my element, feeling more fulfilled than in many years, and taking pride in what I do. A very dear friend of mine who is a few years older than I has never lost his passionate desire to drum. In many e-mail conversations, we have discussed our roots, our motivations, our obstacles, and our eventual, inevitable realization that we do not own and play drums; we are servants to our drums. Our drums have chosen us wisely to extract from them the sounds and vibrations that they need to express. Our drums ask us to help them entertain, to love, to heal our planet, and set the pace for those who are sensitive to our rhythm.

Am I up to the task?

~Still Wandering…