Slow build (with heart), Kimberly Barber February 2022

I’ve been taking a leadership course these past few weeks based on the work of Brené Brown, called Dare to Lead. One of the topics that came up this week in our sessions was shame resilience (as opposed to “shame resistance”, which is impossible if you want to live and lead with an open heart). We discussed how challenging the current pandemic environment is in terms of living into our values and how frequently we feel inadequate or (in music, especially?) irrelevant, and how that makes us want to don our armour to protect ourselves from shame. We also talked about skill building, and how fragile we feel. The fragility is not only in ourselves (that’s bad enough), but also in our structures. We all feel as though the scaffolding is shaky, and it makes us feel scared and vulnerable (shame again).

This was where the framing of the Slow Build came in. We talked about how we are building new skills, and that we will stumble and fall and need to pick ourselves back up again in the building process. We need to be patient as we flex muscles (especially social ones) that have atrophied during this time of isolation, where we have severely limited our social interactions (unless we’re in Boris Johnson’s government, but that’s another story) and in many cases, completely severed them. So we need to be willing to build back slowly. Gently. Compassionately.

Self-compassion is one of the most challenging things for me personally. I find I have endless compassion for others in my life–my students, my colleagues, my friends and family. For myself: not so much. So I am doing the Slow Build in the self-compassion department as well. And that extends to my practice as a singer and artist. True confessions: I am currently preparing for a reduced version of Pierrot Lunaire, to be performed at Laurier on March 3. I know the piece, having performed it a lifetime ago while still an undergraduate. That is…I performed PORTIONS of it. And it’s a really challenging work on a lot of levels. And I have neglected my practice ever since the cancellation of my Three Decembers gig and my bun fight with COVID. So it’s the slow build of both confidence and practice routine. Baby steps. One number per day, and I’ve also made a pact with my BFF (here’s looking at you, Anna! 😉) to hold myself to that promise. Slow. Build. Own it.