It’s just over 24 hours until I leave for Canada, the first stop on my 90 day American adventure. One of my closest friends lives in Calgary, Canada and one night sat at my brothers getting tipsy I texted my friend and said ‘shall I come to Canada before I go to America?’. Yep, come, so within an hour I had booked a flight. I figure I have no home right now so renting somewhere costs the same as a flight to Canada with a free roof over my head at my friends place, plus I get to see the ‘Rockies’ again and he has a posh bath so will have a bath every night. I love having a bath. I woke up the following morning and went ‘shit, I booked a flight to Canada when I was drunk’ but now no regrets. I get a holiday for a week, have a licence to sing on the streets of Calgary and get to spend time with one of my closest friends. Win win all round.
A good little pit stop before the craziness of NYC and not bad if I get to see this stuff again….
I’ve been contacting lots of people in NY and a few things have come up for me to do. I was in touch with Belcham (the Belgian chamber of commerce), and because I lived there and speak Dutch (not fluently but can get by) they can help me out. Had a Skype call this week to New York (sounds so glam) to chat and they were lovely. Said ‘pop in anytime you want, we have people who can give you visa advice’ and I’ll sing at an art event, and they’ve already put me in touch with some other musicians and dancers out there. I’m going with only a couple of friends so it’s ‘get myself out there to meet people time’ again. I’m also going to a dinner on Independence day in Westchester singing for a lady who heard me in Central Park, plus I’ll be working with kids in schools.
Opportunities are everywhere (a bit of Louise Hay in my day then found this by Paulo Coelho…)
Not there though yet and I’ve spent the last few weeks up North on my own turf again. I had my Julie Andrews events to do. It was all brown paper packages tied up with strings as I made 70 for the first night. Took me 4 hours to do them all but I wanted to add my own personal touch. My heart was so happy to be doing this (really fulfilling a childhood dream).
I have to say though the first one didn’t go as well as I had wanted.
People said they had enjoyed it but I came away not feeling happy about it. My programme was too long, people were getting restless and I wasn’t keeping them engaged enough. I could feel it and I was a bit gutted at the end if I am honest. I love to leave on a high because I’ve got to people but I didn’t this time. Some people were a bit disappointed I wasn’t singing any opera so I added a couple in at the end, but I just thought I have to change it for Sunday. It’s got to be slicker, shorter and I’ve got to keep people engaged. If people start chatting it’s game over for me vocally.
I can’t project over 70 people starting to chat. I took some songs out, let the kids pick what I was singing from a box and just kept it more ‘me’ and less a planned ‘show’ for people. On Sunday I got the kids singing along, knew when to stop and start and came away feeling MUCH better about it. Everything that happens is a chance to learn and I learnt a lot, also not to be too hard on myself. It’s always trial and error. Gemma from Scona did a lovely cream tea for everyone too…. ‘she does a right good scone’ as my nephew always says and I got this feedback at the end…… thanks Eric….
A few days later I was singing at my old primary school, St. Edward’s RC School, Lees, Oldham. I’d said I would go into the sing for the kids a while back. It was a great school as a child and I sang in the choir (still have the tape we made with me singing a little solo), they got me started on the trombone and the rest has just unfolded from there, so I have a lot of good memories of being there. I’d not been back since I was 10 when I left and it was strange to walk back in again, but I loved singing to the kids. I think there were about 300 there, they sangalong to some Julie A stuff, clapped, counted ‘Alleluias’ in songs, shouted out Puccini and Mozart, swayed along and did their thing. Good to go full circle…
“My girls completely loved it!! Lots of singing at home and in the car xxx thanks for going in. Xxx”
“Isabelle and Seamus were raving about her and all the songs she sang. They absolutely loved it! If you know her personally Irene please tell her thank you from us xxx’
Very proud moment for me. The head gave an amazing speech at the end saying to take opportunities that come along because you never know where they will lead….
This week though has also been about spending time with my family. Long chats to my brother, learning seat drops on the trampoline with my nephew teaching me, eating good food, seeing my nieces, seeing my cousins. I needed to spend time with them before I left and have some good walks in the Saddleworth countryside. I can’t just pop up or pop over for the next three months now. I’m on my own…..relying on inner guidance to move me forward.
There was one place I wanted to go to before I left. Sing there. It’s Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. A real hub of creativity and community. Love the place so off I tottled on Friday and sang in the square thinking I’d do my hour and go off to my airbnb. Boy was I in for a welcome. I got given a huge bunch of lilies by a guy and people couldn’t do enough for me. Left them in water at the town hall. Went to collect them and a lady asked me to sing at a party the following day. Went to a free jazz piano event later that day and then a guy who had heard me who I was chatting to gave me a ticket for the piano recital that evening. I got to hear Bach’s Goldberg Variations ‘live’ for the first time. I sang again the day after and at the end of it all I came away with three bunches of flowers, more money than I could have expected, some nice food and drink from the independent shops, a leather skirt for looking glam in NYC, a pub who wants me to sing there in the future, and a lady who wants to organise me singing at the town hall later in the year and a lady asked if I would do a one off session teaching the ladies in the choir she sings in. I chatted to loads of people, walked in the most amazing countryside and soaked up the positive encouraging vibe. Thanks Hebden Bridge people. You made the end of my UK time amazing……….thank you!!!!! My suitcase is packed……let’s go!!!!! The next time I’ll be posting it will be about Canada and NY. I have no idea what will happen, who I will meet and sing for. It’s just an open book waiting to be filled and I’m proud I’m doing this. Let the opportunities unfold…….
If you want to find out more about what I’m doing check out my website at www.iamnicolamills.com and follow me on Facebook…. https://www.facebook.com/iamnicolamills/