Updated: Jun 24
When people ask me about my recent Telluride Troubadour experience a great wave flows over me. Where do I start? SO, I'm taking this page to candidly express the thoughts and feelings from the new frontiers I've been traversing.
As we drove the seven plus hour pilgrimage to Telluride with our two girls in the car, I stared out the window at the ever changing mountain landscape in awe of Colorado's beauty. Look at those lupines, silver blue mounds, expanding upon the hillside! I thought to myself, "Wow, if I hadn't leaped and submitted my song to the contest, I wouldn’t be on this adventure right now." I continued to contemplate how each choice steers the direction of our lives. My life has been very exciting the past few month, and it's because of my choices.
It's not easy to step out into the unknown. I don’t think I would have the courage to do it if I hadn't been consciously cultivating a deep well of self love and self compassion for years. The voices in my head, voices I believe many of us unconsciously have running through our minds, can be absolutely brutal. They say things like "What am I doing here? I don’t belong." "Everyone is better than me and everyone sees that, I look like a fool next to these pros." "I shouldn't share unless I can execute flawlessly, and I don’t have what it takes." "I'm too old to try to do this now." "I'm failing my kids and family by giving attention to music." "I'm not skinny enough or pretty enough to be seen…". Does any of this dialogue sound familiar to you? Honestly? Self compassion and love looks like holding space for the voices to be heard, but then choosing to lean into a greater truth. To the voices I reply, "I hear you voices, but what I know to be true, greater than my fear, is this; I am on a unique spirit filled journey and I'm learning from every experience. I choose to share for healing, expression, love and transformation, these are the foundations that song has come to me and the foundation on which I stand to share them. I am grateful that spirit supports me in this journey and I accept the growing pains, in fact I am grateful for them, I'm perfectly imperfect and I celebrate my life. I can not be anywhere other than exactly where I am right now. That is enough and I am enough. I am worthy of the opportunities to share, I choose bravery and trust. I love you Lalo Hart. Let's keep going! Ok? Ok!"
During the Troubadour contest, I started then stopped my first song. I went to the wrong chord and was thrown off by the mistake. When I restarted, I made it again, but carried on. I was so frustrated with myself at that moment and afterwards went to my room and cried. I was so sad, and I had a sense of loss. It was important for me to feel and cry what was up for me, because it was real. I'm a particular vessel that feels A LOT, and I used to bypass feelings to appear "strong" and "just be ok". As a child and teen I got in trouble for being so emotional… So, I coped by growing a hard shell. I've been learning the importance of allowing myself to slow down and feel it all. That way I'm not harboring old feelings in my body that will come out as a sneak attack at a future time.
After a good cry, I comforted myself and celebrated what I had just done. My inner dialogue went something like this, "Alright Lalo, wow, you just got on stage at your very first contest, in a rainstorm and did your best. What an honor to be a part of this new experience surrounded by inspiring colleagues. I am so proud of you. Yes, you had a miss-take, things didn’t go as you hoped and that’s a bummer because you would have liked to have shown up and had the music flow out seamlessly, but that isn't what happened, and it's ok. I honor your tears, and your desire to show up as a clear vessel to transmit the message of each song. Your aspirations are beautiful. This was practice, and it is all a great practice, this life, so let's go get back out there and celebrate your fellow troubadours and witness their magic." And so I did.
After they announced the finalists, of which I was not one, I went up to a fellow Troubadour to tell her how moved I was by her song. She in turn called out my "Start, Stop" with compassion. "I know you must have been killing yourself after that start/stop" she began. My eyes turned red and a stream formed. "I can't tell you how many contests I've lost, or how many times I've asked 'God, why did my voice crack?' during a performance, and what I've learned is that these are the places where healing comes in." she shared. I absolutely believe that. She gave me a big hug and it felt really great to take in her perspective and kindness. It was also nice to talk about what happened instead of hiding my imperfections.
After the "contest" portion, I felt like a weight was lifted. Being "judged" in a contest stirred up a lot of nerves, and psychological weirdness. The winner of the Telluride Troubadour, Jackson Emmers, gave us a bit of advice at our meet and greet, because he had been there before. He shared, "Treat it like a two set show, do what you would normally do during a set, don't try to do what you think the judges want to hear, and have fun." Great advice! I thought I was doing this, but I can see on the other side how I wasn't in alignment. I had chosen two of my more challenging works to try to "impress". It's tricky to navigate my inner truth amidst others opinions. It's an art and a daily practice to weed the garden of thoughts, and know my voice, the garden I want to grow. Weeds can be so pretty! In retrospect, I wish I had chosen to share a couple songs I felt more cozy and embodied with. I'll remember that for next time!
I had the opportunity for another first, sharing a live song on the local radio station, KOTO Telluride. It was a pleasure. I played my song, "Don't Stop" which is about continuing to believe in my, yours, and our healing and how forgiveness can set us free to get back to what we were created by God, uniquely, to come to this planet to be. It felt so good to put this song out into the waves, singing it sets me a little more free each time! I'm planning to record this song in late August, unless another song sneaks in and demands that time instead (that happens sometimes).
Sharing on stage for Troubadour-in-the-Round was way more chill then the contest! It was so fun to be on stage with Sean Magwire, Halley Neal, and Eliza Thorp. The four of us took turns sharing songs. I had the best seat in the house! Honestly, I felt simple and inexperienced sitting next to them with my little ukulele. I was the least experienced of the Troubadours, I looked up to them, and a part of me felt out of place next to them. Feeling like a misfit and questioning my belonging is an OLD story, so its no surprise that it would whisper in my ear a bit… When Sean performed "Between the Cracks" I settled in a little bit more. "This is where I belong, right between the cracks…", his song reminded me that I belonged right there. I love the magic of music, how its like God is speaking to me through someone else's mouth! So divine. Of course, I felt a little out of place, because this was a new place, a whole new experience, and I loved it, especially the more I leaned into trust.
When it came time to start our journey home, I asked Joel to take the girls out of the room while I finished packing up. In that moment of quiet, by myself, I felt covered in light and showered in gratitude. This experience brought me to my knees and the sweetest tears rolled down my cheeks. How amazing that I got to come be surrounded by such inspiring talent and kindness, that I was chosen to participate. The various writing styles, vocal deliveries, and playing techniques blew me away! I felt like I had a bucket of golden seeds to take home, plant and tend within the soils of my being. The weekend was so heartfelt and everyone on the planet bluegrass team was encouraging, helpful and kind. I got to "cut my teeth" as Joel says, on the Elks Stage at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival! I got to participate in a contest, play on the radio, play again In-The-Round. Not to mention I got to watch some incredible music!
I am Grateful! I'm excited to keep going and growing! I'm so thankful for the discomfort and feeling lost and uncertain at times, because that was MY edge, and the only way to grow beyond the edge is to dance upon it, to fall down a little, stretch myself and surrender to the unknown!