Patina

If you leave sterling silver on its own, to the elements, it will turn black with tarnish. However, if you wear it, it will continue to shine while developing a patina that protects it from tarnishing. There’s a metaphor here. Clouds and their silver linings and such. Life IS the cloud – dark and thunderous and ocassionally viscious with lightning strikes. But, there are shining moments; there are the precious, small, silver victories. I would right a song, but the whole thing is so all over the place that it would be difficult to get the lyrics to coalesce. Instead, what I am going to do is write some prose here. Perhaps the song will come later, but I’m not going to obsess over it.

Last night I suffered a disappointment when a gig was cancelled. Last night I felt shock, this morning I feel discouraged. But, before the malicious pain of life hit me in the teeth again, I had been thinking about some of those small victories. I’d like to wear these, so they will continue to shine in my mind.

Tuesday night at The Y Theatre, my hand being held tightly by a dear friend, the warm glow of both my performance and simply my PRESENCE being appreciated.

Wednesday afternoon coffee with another friend, just because she wanted to come and hang out with me…  and, now I’m crying as I write this, because to me it’s such a major thing, such a precious thing, and I wonder at the pain I feel because of years of being rejected and unfriended, the sheer amazement I feel at someone desiring and choosing to spend time with me. The dam just seems to break and flood me, when what I want is to feel the happiness of this, not the pain of the past or the fear that life won’t allow me to keep such friendship. And so, I dry the tears and compose myself, and write it again: Wednesday afternoon coffee with a friend, just because she wanted to come and hang out with me.

Winning over another mum at the school who used to ignore or avoid me/avoid making eye contact for whatever reason, but now she smiles, waves and says ‘Hi’ when she sees me. Small victory, huge triumph.

These are the things I want to put on and wear around my neck and on my fingers, that their sparkle could be seen in my eyes – could continue to be seen BY my eyes, which now, writing this, fill with tears again. Tears I have to wipe in order to keep typing. There really is a song in this somewhere…

I have another friend who longs for acceptance in a certain place.  I feel so for her and her struggle. She and her husband came over last night after my gig had been cancelled (they had actually been the ones who were supposed to babysit for me so I could do the gig), and we caught up on what’s been going on with them of late. A sad tale, really. Rejection and prejudice has wreaked a toll, and yet she goes back for more. And, even though this woman is so very different from me, I can see myself and the years I threw myself at the walls of various humanity, looking for entrance in their world(s). I have come to see so many other things. I let the rose-tinted scales be ripped from my eyes and, finally, I never went looking for them again. The BPD will often make me start to tilt at those bloody walls again, but I’m quicker now to see the bruises when they start to appear and not keep hurling myself at the same human walls over and over again until, broken and bloody and irrevocably scarred, I limp away with what’s left of my heart. I hear that song again…

I have succeeded in writing this post. See it shimmer , a whisper of light within the hard steel of the grey. Today, let me wear the silver. May I keep on wearing the silver.

 

 

Why I Just Can’t Do The Semi-Colon Thing

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The Semi-Colon Project is a good thing. If nothing else, it’s educating people about a much neglected member of the punctuation family. It’s also, of course, bringing awareness to mental health issues. It’s encouraging to many people.

But, I can’t personally do it. Not when I so long for a full stop (or ‘period’, for you Americans). I want an end to my story.

The best I can give you is a question as to how much more I can take.

For Better & Worse (NOT About Marriage)

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This is one of my favourite photos from the recent photoshoot that was done for the new band I’m in with fellow singer/songwriter Steve Cartwright, called ‘The Way Out‘. We travelled out to Charnwood Water and, there, this dreamy, romantic visual of me serenading the ducks was captured.  It’s like something out of faery…and, there I am in the midst of it… The Songmistress, after all. This image fills me with a sense of otherwordliness… and, of melancholy…of longing.

Things are better in so many ways.  I’m making more music now than ever, and it’s being recognised and appreciated, at least to a degree.  No, it’s not nearly as much as I’d like it to be or even NEED it to be in order to contribute to the paying of my own bills and support of my family.  But, whilst still firmly in the Land of Obscurity, there is now a map for people to follow and find me.

Things are worse, however.  I am exhausted.  I wonder how long I can push myself to perform like this, when my body and mind are as weak as they are.  People who would have assumed that I would ‘perk up’ if I was given a few more gigs, were sadly mistaken. My health issues haven’t magically gone away with this limited success.  If anything, I have to fight all the harder…and, sometimes, I am failing miserably in trying to cope.

I’m scared.  Scared that this little taste is all I’ll get before life kicks me in the teeth again with my deteriorating health and leave me unable to even do this little bit of what I’m doing to get my music out there.

To be honest, this would be my ideal:  once every couple of months, have a large, paid gig where I get to perform all my own songs to an appreciative, adoring audience.  The rest of the time being able to rest, write a bit, while having enough fans to support this down time by buying my albums and singles. Go to the ocassional folk club and acoustic open mic, just to stay sharp for those bigger gigs and to socialise with other musician friends.

Sounds lovely.  WAKE UP!  It’s a dream, and the reality is I’m old and sick and tired, and in order to get seen (and, subsequently, heard) I have to go hither and yon and play covers in pubs late at night in order to get paid, because I just can’t seem to reach that fanbase to sell my music.  I know they’re out there…but it’s reaching them. I can’t seem to reach them online.

Oh, what am I sitting here writing this for? I should be in bed resting..or rehearsing.  I feel the weight of futility here.  I’m talking to a wall again.  Oh, to travel to that place, that place of faery, where I AM The Songmistress, and to never more return from there.

 

Charnwood Minstrel Part 4: The Songmistress

I was featured in Paul Carden’s Charnwood Minstrel Blog! I like the way that sounds: ‘The Songmistress – Charnwood Minstrel’. Yes!

Charnwood Minstrel

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Since her first appearance there, Autumn Dawn Leader has become an integral member of the Loughborough Acoustic Club family. She has a rich, powerful voice and plays piano as well as the lyre and various other instruments. Her songs include beautiful piano ballads, delicate harp songs and the occasional happy song which sneaks in when she isn’t looking.
She has recently released an album called ‘The Other Side‘ which was produced by Amos Parkinson and features Amos on drums, Bob Breeze on guitar and Asher Rossell on bass.
Autumn is originally from Chicago, grew up in Florida, and moved to the UK in 2004.


Not only is Autumn a terrific solo performer but she was also lead vocalist in a band called The Chairs. She performs in a duo called String Theory with Mark Pimperton on guitar and vocals, and has recently been collaborating with Steve Cartwright in a…

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Searching For You

C.S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

This is also why we listen to music. And, ‘if sad songs say so much’, as Elton John has rightly said, then my songs speak volumes.

This post is about me finding the right fan base for my music.  See, I know I’m not alone out there in what I suffer with major depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, chronic pain, suicidal thoughts and everything that goes along with these conditions. In writing this blog, and reading others, I have certain proof that I am not alone. And, yet, we are all uniquely alone in what we individually suffer. My music helps me to express and, in a very magical way, make beauty come from the horrific thing called life/existence. This is my gift. However, in another way, it complicates matters, because, with it, comes the intense frustration, anger, and sadness of not seeming to be able to get my music out there to the people it will most speak to and resonate with.

The thing is, I need a fan base—and I KNOW you’re out there, I’ve even spoken to a good number of you. Now, there are just a whole lot of people who aren’t ever going to like and support my music (even those who rave about my voice and talent), simply because they can’t relate to it.  I need to find those of you who will relate and find some comfort, expression and solidarity in what I do. I know I’m not alone, but I seem to keep pitching my music to the same people who don’t understand what I am going through in my daily life in general. In this way, I need a very specific audience. I know that audience does exist.  And, I truly believe it is an audience that NEEDS a musical voice.

I don’t want this post to just be some advertisement. And, I don’t want it to be me begging for people to check out my music like some sad failed loser of an indie artist. This is simply me putting out a search to see who’s out there in this Blogdom that my music might touch. ‘Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?’

Yes, I know that even for those of us with similar health problems, our musical tastes are not all going to be the same, of course…  but, if you are a music lover, just check my stuff out – if it vibes with you, then great. I do incorporate a wide range of styles in what I write and perform, so there’s a good chance that something I do will hit the spot.

I’ve just released a new studio album for digital download.  No, I am not giving it away for free (giving away my stuff in the past hasn’t helped me gain fans anyway). Musicians have bills to pay, like all craftsmen/craftswomen. I REALLY shouldn’t have to explain this, but in this day and age where musical talent can be faked with software and those of us with real gifts are left in an industry bankrupt and bereft, without a leg to stand on, many of us feel forced to give our lifeblood away in any desperate bid to get noticed. The thing is, most of us literally cannot afford to do it. I cannot afford to do it. Furthermore, it’s worth far more than the modest price I’ve put on it anyway.  I owe it to the other fine musicians and the exceptional producer I worked with to bring this piece of art and labour of love to completion to not just ‘give it away’, as if all our hard work meant nothing. Good music, real music… it costs something.  It costs those of us who make it – it should cost those of you who hear it. It’s part of the deal – it costs us all, but we ALL get so much in return…look at it as an investment. And, finding something you personally can relate to…well, that value cannot be understated or underrated.

So, this album isn’t a freebie, but you can listen to the tracks on bandcamp without paying; however, if you want to own the album and listen whenever and wherever you are, get the special bonus track and extra artwork, as well as support me as an artist (I’ll be eternally grateful), well, then, surely that makes the tiny monetary price a worthy investment.

Thank you for reading and listening. I hope I will hear from you soon.  Most of all, I hope (there’s that four letter word again) my music will reach who will most benefit from hearing it. I’ll finish here and let the songs speak for themselves.

The World As I Know It

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Most of the time I feel like a frightened, helpless little girl or, more often lately, a frightened, washed up, helpless old woman.  I realise what I have never felt like – what I’ve never been – is a confident, capable adult.

This is not just me being too hard on myself again. I’ve really never been a functioning adult. As a child, I craved adulthood, thinking that that was where the respect lay. Adults made things happen. But, in reality, of course, the respect we think we see adults receive when we are children is just an elaborate deception; it doesn’t exist. And adults only make things happen if and when they can. It’s not just a given that comes with age. But, adults do function and are capable of independence.

I find I missed adulthood altogether. It may be a BPD thing. Whatever it is, it’s painful. I struggle with it everyday. As I try to be a parent. As I try to be successful in music. As I try to traverse the wild and winding road of human interaction and relationships. I struggle.  And, again and again, I fail miserably.

Take care of me. Shut this world out. I need a blanket. I need a hand to hold and walk me across the street. Everything is too much. I’m overwhelmed. Make that phone call for me, PLEASE. I can’t do it myself. Love me, coddle me, make over what I do. Fucking HELP ME! I’m weak and frail and broken and too young and too old and too me. And, it hurts and I just want to hide and sleep and someone to wake me up when it’s all easy, or else don’t wake me up at all.

Thinking Like A Dreamer

Friendship is a tough road to traverse for those of us who suffer from social anxiety and those of us who suffer from bpd.  Relationships are tricky and highly emotionally charged…and, unfortunately, sometimes they’re very hard to keep. I wrote this song, with an ache in my heart, as it came to me in a whirlwind. And, sadly, I know that I’m not the only one who can relate.  It will resonate with many who know what I’m talking, um, singing about.