Living Grateful: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Hello there Sarah Mac Band family. Here’s the place where the rubber meets the road. It’s easy to talk big about “living grateful” when things are exactly as you would have them in your most fabulous fantasy life, but the true test comes when things aren’t really working out the way you planned them to. Can you still keep your eyes open, be able to see the good things and not get caught up in the quagmire that we sometimes find ourselves stuck in?

This week was one of those weeks when I looked around and suddenly realized that in spite of feeling totally trapped in the throes of what I did not want to have happening in my life, my band, and my career, I was ok. And not just okay, but alive and well and thriving. As I told one of my friends this week, “every atom in every molecule in every cell in every part of my body is on fire… in a good way.” So maybe this work in progress, my year of learning to live grateful isn’t lost into the oblivion of anxiety as soon as the hard part comes. Maybe there is some actual growth and momentum in the direction that I want my heart to be traveling. That my friends, is just one more thing for me to add to the “things to be grateful for” side of the checklist! I invite you to journey along with me… or us, rather (because ultimately, Claire and Charlie are on this journey as well… sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, pulled into it by their connection to me) as you read what’s come up on our checklist lately.

My vocal cords are revolting against me! You may have noticed that in the past few months, we have not been playing much. Obviously, that is the product of redirecting some of our energy into finishing our new album, A Single Revolution. But additionally, I’d been having some issues with my voice. In fact, I’ve been having some issues with my voice for a while and have been going to a vocal coach for about 6 months to remedy the issues (thinking that it was poor technique). But back in the summer, we realized that I actually had a real physiological, medical problem with my vocal cords. Misuse and abuse had caused them to thicken, harden, and develop some nodules, which were the cause of my voice failure.

As a singer, especially one who is prone to anxiety and using her healthy imagination to develop and play out horrible worst-case scenarios in her head, that was a rough spiritual and psychological blow. In the past few months, since receiving the news, I’ve spent enough money on doctors doing uncomfortable procedures (like sticking camera down my throat and then asking me to sing and simultaneously control my gag reflex) to put a nice down payment on a house. Last week, as I left my therapy appointment, I called Charlie and cried all the way home… not because my progress or the outlook was poor, but because I was overwhelmed thinking of all of the thought, preparation and work that from here on out will go into the process of singing, just to make sure that I do it right. Suddenly, it’s not an effortless, easy thing anymore. There’s so much to think about that it’s almost a source of fear rather than a source of joy!

But, the good thing about this process is that it has caused me individually and the three of us as a band to sit down and think through a lot of stuff—we had to have hard conversations about the what-ifs and we’ve come out resolved that this is what we want to do. We’re going to put in the effort and the work and commitment into really fighting the good fight for the Sarah Mac Band. That renewed sense of purpose and  a new, burning desire to see this thing through, wherever that may lead us, has been a really powerful encouragement lately.

Additionally, I’ve been working with a great opera singing speech pathologist who is totally supportive and really knows her stuff. I’m learning new ways to do the old things and working every day to put them into practice. There is a marked improvement in my voice and I came out of my session on Friday really, really encouraged and hopeful. I’m even cleared to sing next weekend. We’ll know more in a couple of weeks when I have another strobe,  but I’m thinking just from the improvement in what I’m able to do in my exercises (yes, they really do have exercises for your vocal cords) that we’ll see a difference. Keep your fingers crossed and if you’re a praying person, please pray for me!

Looks like the Southern Living article might not happen after all. We were a little concerned after not seeing ourselves repeatedly in the Southern Living magazines of the last few months. This week, we heard from the writer that we worked with that there is new editorial staff and at least for now, we’re not sure if the article will come out. We were bummed about that– first of all, it’s just really cool to be thought of as The Next Big Thing Out of Florida and second of all, being in a publication of that stature would bring tons of exposure that we wouldn’t be able to garner on our own. One night while I was trying to sleep (I have really bad insomnia these days), I had a little burst of enthusiasm and encouragement regarding the Southern Living postponement/possible nixing: I do believe that things work out the way that they’re supposed to. My little piece that keeps me going is that maybe in the big picture, we’re put on hold to give us time to continue to write better music and become more and more who we’ve been purposed to be so that we’ll be ready for all of the good things that it brings when the story finally does make it to print!!

A Single Revolution is still coming… albeit a bit later than originally expected.  Our new album, the culmination of almost two years worth of work from the initial planning meeting till now, was supposed to be released this coming weekend. We scheduled the release show, sent everything off for mastering, printing, etc. and then we hit some snags. So, we’re kind of sad to announce that our new album won’t be ready for what was to be our original release date. Prior to the year of living grateful, I might not have bounced back from such disappointing news so quickly. But after a lot of thought and encouragement from Charlie, the eternal optimist, I’m raring to go for the show this weekend with or without a new cd to release.

I think that it also helped that now that I’ve had a scare illuminating the possibility of not being able to sing, I’m ready to sing now at any chance. And after we talked it through and decided that we were set on being the best Sarah Mac Band that we knew how to be and carrying this out strong until fate brings us to an end, we want to make sure that every show is planned, rehearsed and will be an event in and of itself, regardless of whether there is anything special to celebrate or not. We’ll be celebrating the fact that we’re able to do what we love and that you as our fans and friends enter into that with us (which is still tremendously humbling if I let myself stop and think about it).

So we’re stoked to be playing. We’ve been working on some fun new covers and will probably debut some new music that we’ve written in the past few weeks since completing the Revolution. We’re also totally honored to have our friends, Cecil the Wanderer share the bill with us. They’re from Tallahassee, and in the past few months since they’ve started playing, they’ve built up quite a bit of momentum. When I listen to them, I think that they must be the product of (mom) Sufjan Stevens and (dad) Belle and Sebastian, but then mom remarries and they’re raised by their step-father, Margot and the Nuclear So-and-So’s. If that isn’t enough, then be tempted by the fact that as we often do, that we probably have something up our sleeve (or maybe not… you never know)! And… we’ll be celebrating Felesa’s (she’s in my bookclub) birthday. That’s enough, right?


Next Friday, September 24th, at the Warehouse.

Doors open at 8:00, show starts at 8:30.

Sarah Mac Band with Cecil the Wanderer.

And here’s a great photo of my dog!

True words from Milo: “I can smell a treat if I stay still for this photo.”


2 responses to “Living Grateful: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

  1. I think its great that you’re staying positive about all of this. It can be really hard to when it seems like you’re getting hit at every angle. Fear is a powerful thing, but positive believing is even stronger. The only way to dispel the darkness is to introduce light. So keep your sights on the positive. I even look at your voice exercises as positive believing action. Keep it up. I can’t wait to see you guys play this weekend.

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

  2. With all the positive energy you guys bring your listeners, it is truely a source of joy for us all to listen to you guys. Your songs might not be bright and cheery but you really do make alot of people happy when they listen to your music. I truely believe that it will come back to you guys, in a really good way. So stay positive, the future is almost here and it is going to be a great one.

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