Living Out loud

Sharing is hard.

I don’t consider myself to be all that hard to get to know. I feel that generally, I am an open-book type of person. But this past year it has become increasingly apparent that I don’t volunteer much information. I must be prompted. I must feel like someone asks with particular desire to know something. I don’t really mind answering truthfully, but unless someone is beating down the door to my heart, I will likely keep it close to the vest.

I started this blog with a desire to unpack creativity that has been buried in the dirt of time, pain, and loss of identity. I wanted to unearth the gold I hoped was there, risky as that is, to live out a statement that popped out in conversation with a friend that I hesitate (read: am terrified) to share…

“I will follow the wild inklings of my heart with radical obedience.”

As with most life revelations, the complexities and applications unfold over time to deeper and more profound angles you didn’t see originally.

Right? Life is simple. But it is so complex.

6 months ago when I decided to start writing with intention, I didn’t know what would come of it. And I took about a 2-3 month break from posting anything here because I was processing something very weighty and life altering and being that I am apparently a “close to the vest” person, my process was very private.

I don’t regret this. But I have learned a lot from this choice.

I learned that sharing life is hard. It is complex. In a world full of over-sharing (Here’s a picture of my lunch, my abs, my perfect looking children, my 900th selfie, my dirty hair to appear to be “real,” my cool famous friends, my half naked body…blah blah blah) it can be very difficult to navigate the appropriateness of publicly sharing your life.

There is no black or white, right or wrong script for this. Not everyone has instagram, nor should everyone have instagram. Not everyone has a calling that is public, some people live off the grid. This is all neither good nor bad. It just is.

But I have come to learn that for me, there is something in me, crafted by God, that is supposed to migrate from the intimate walls of my heart, to the world I live in.

To this extent, and quite imperfectly, I need to live my life out loud.

Which brings me to this…

Behind the scenes, for several years, I have felt the pain and the ache within me to sing. I know I know, I sing for a living. But I don’t. I teach others how to sing for a living. For many reasons which don’t need airtime, I haven’t been singing myself in quite a long time.

Sure a little gig here and there, but without intention. Without cultivation. Without focus.

With the dawn of the new year, I have made the biggest shift in my professional and personal world that I have ever made, and I have stepped away from my post as a vocal coach (for now) and into the big white expanse of the unknown of pursuing music, for myself, again.

If you know much of my story, you know I moved to NYC at the ripe old age of 21 to pursue a career as an artist. A broke singer-songwriter, with big dreams, zero industry knowledge, and 2 (barely) friends. I was single. Fresh out of college. Risk meant nothing. The stakes were low. The level of adventure was high.

After fumbling around in NYC, writing some songs, recording one project, playing a few gigs that only my friends came to see (thanks friends), I began just simply living my life, a life I really loved, in the freaking greatest city on earth.

I had a family in my community and church, I was living out deep unconscious desires leading worship there, and then I met my husband. I somewhat stumbled, dumbfounded, into teaching voice. One thing led to another and I met and became certified under the greatest vocal coach in the world, Brett Manning.

I began to teach with intention. The first job I ever had that required me to commit and dive deep and long term into something I loved. In 2009, I locked into a career I would have never anticipated and pushed the gas pedal down hard for nearly 10 years.

It has been a dream come true. I have accomplished much.

So it was a big surprise to learn that there were other dreams in me, just as significant, that needed not just a little breathing room, but they needed full run of the house. They never went away actually. But they were placed in the back of the closet like a pair of shoes you loved but forgot you had til one day when you were cleaning everything out and there they were. Dusty but ready to be worn. Ok arguably, a thin analogy.

I have been slightly (super duper) terrified to share this. Because if you remember, sharing is hard. I have needed to think a lot about WHY sharing is so hard before I could, well, share.

There’s the fear of rejection or embarrassment. There is the fear of failure. There’s just the one billion questions to answer. There is the assumption that probably no one cares (re: oversharing ab pics and selfies). There is the fear of looking self-indulgent. There’s the logic demon that says “this is impractical! Irresponsible!” Because hello? Why would I stop doing something I’m good at and make money doing? And let’s not forget one of the biggest ones, the fear of being seen.

There’s not a strong logical case for my life choices right now except this…

I want to LIVE. I do not want to merely EXIST.

And I want my kids to see this part of me.

I want to write songs. I want to sing them. I want to write books. I want to sell them.

All of those things require me to live out loud. To be held accountable by public display, to the desires within me. To steward these things. To share them.

Don’t you love it when someone shares something personal that resonates with you and inspires you? Maybe it’s a song, a story, a picture, a dance. Hey, maybe it is an ab pic. Whatever man.

I’ve been pondering my Word of the Year for months now. Last year, it took me until September to figure out what it was for 2017. You know what it was?


Ha. I didn’t know then, but I was shifting into this. Which, I *think* (I reserve the right to change this cause it’s my word and not the court of law) is…


I want to sing. Out loud.

I want to write. Out loud.

I want to share. Out loud.

Oh, and know that I will still teach. It’s in my core. I adore it. But the application may look a little different. And that’s ok.

You may be reading this thinking “I knew literally none of this whatsoever before reading this….you sing? You teach? You lived in nyc? You exist?” And that’s cool. Evidence I have work to do on my Word of the Year.

This shift is deeply personal. It came through a lot of wrestling, fighting, praying, crying…all the hard “ing”s. I recognize that much if not all of this actually matters to hardly anyone besides myself. Cause this life, this decision, is decidedly mine. Not anyone else’s.

But I share because not only am I wanting to live out loud, but because maybe it challenges you to make a big change. Take a risk. Challenge your fears and do something really hard.

And it’s fun to know people a little bit below the surface, right?

So here’s my stuff. Share some of yours…

5 thoughts on “Living Out loud

  1. Your words are provocative. I have dealt with this issue for years now. I have every excuse not to sing, write, or perform. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it yet. I’ve heard you sing at Slow Burn, and you have a powerful gift. I don’t say that to flatter you, that’s just the state of what is. Artistically, I think you could do whatever you want.
    What you wrote reminded me of a recurring dream that I had some years ago. I kept seeing this beautiful black thoroughbred horse pulling a plow. He did an amazing job pulling the plow, but there was a sadness in his eyes. Anyone could look at this powerful animal and tell that the act of plowing a field was child’s play. There is absolutely nothing wrong with him plowing a field…it just isn’t the totality of what he was designed to do. Always, at the end of the dream, for a few seconds, I would see the horse run after his harness was removed. I was reminded of a quote from Eric Liddell, the main character in the movie “Chariots of Fire”- “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” That’s probably you, too. I wish you well in your endeavors. Part of me wishes that I hadn’t read your blog so that I wouldn’t have to wrestle with this. But I did, so I well.
    You are a singer…so sing.

  2. This is Great. I finally gotten over the fear of using a microphone. I performed my spoken word piece during my friends show. I was DJing for her and she allowed me to perform my piece. As I grabbed the mic I wasn’t scared or nervous but confident. That was huge for me. I to want to write a book as well. Anyways, thanks for sharing and it encourages me to continue and possibly pursue it instead of letting it come here and there.

  3. A couple years ago I decided, not so confidently, that it was time for me to try going into the photography business again. (I had started my own business in Florida but never felt like I was “making it”, then we moved to Michigan while I was pregnant with baby #3 and I shut everything down and took a break for 3 years.) Starting over from scratch still felt extremely overwhelming and I was strongly doubting if I had it in me. One day I found myself talking to one of my son’s gymnastics teachers… he was not a close friend or someone I would generally feel it was ok to confide in, but in small talk, he asked me how things were going with my photography stuff and I word-vomited all over him. I expressed how overwhelmed I was with the actual BUSINESS side of things and how scared I was that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough… and he looked at me right in the eyes and said, “But you love it.” I said, “I do… I really do.” And he said, “Use THAT as your momentum.” It had never occurred to me before that the simple fact that I LOVE doing something is reason enough to press forward and actually DO IT.
    I’m still constantly questioning whether or not I’m smart enough, talented enough, competent enough… but every time I find myself in that “I can’t do this” spiral, I remind myself that I WANT to do this… and that’s reason enough to keep going.

    I love your heart, Shelby! You can totally do this!

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