An Inspire Project Post-Show Blog

If you’ve been following my blog for the past couple of years, you undoubtedly know that I am making choices that put me well outside of my comfort zone.

I am doing this, because, well, my comfort zone would largely keep me staying at home on my couch, with not an ounce of discernable mischief, except for the occasional verbal mischief I make as a writer. And where’s the fun in that, I ask you?

And that’s where the tambourine came into play. I know, I know. You’re probably wondering why the tambourine is such a big freakin’ deal to me. I’ll tell you why – because you can’t be shy, tentative, fearful, or meek and play it well…or at all, frankly. You also can’t use just some of your body to play it. It’s all in or not at all.

I’ll tell you how I figured this out. My bandmates mocked my initial tambourine playing attempts mercilessly. And when your bandmates mock you mercilessly, you either learn to rise to the occasion or step away from the tambourine for good.

Me, I like a challenge, so I took their good-natured mockery as a dare to show up fully, throw caution to the wind and shake what my mama gave me.

And that brings me to last night’s concert, where I played the aforementioned tambourine publicly for the first time. No children or small animals were injured my playing, so all in all, I’d say it was a success.

The bulk of the time I was on keyboards, with my two compatriots – Tanya Leah on guitar and ukulele, and Lorraine Ferro on multiple percussion instruments.

The trio of us, known as The Inspire Project, made our headlining debut last night to a full and incredibly enthusiastic crowd.

From my perspective, the highlight is always the 3-part harmony and the combination of our personalities, songs, and heart on stage.

It was an overwhelming experience for the three of us, who, though all seasoned solo performers, have spent the bulk of our lives as professional songwriters, penning hits for other people.

This band has given all of us the chance to shine not only as writers, but as artists, both individually and collectively. And I, for one, do not take that lightly.

Had this happened at an earlier juncture, I don’t think we would have appreciated it in the same way as we are able to now. And I also think that our defining ourselves as “The Inspire Project” calls us to a higher purpose.

These are dark and difficult times we are living in. It is easy to become jaded, cynical, and just plain tired. I battle feeling all of those things at least three times a day.

We are not immune to the struggle. In fact, we are honest about it and because we “keep on getting up again,” as we sing in “Amen,” that is what we celebrate in ourselves, in each other, and with our audiences.

When I lived in Nashville, I used to say that moving there is not what was courageous, but rather staying there was. And I would say the same thing about The Inspire Project, because The Inspire Project is a sum that is greater than its parts, but it demands personal transformation from each one of us.

I think every person has many choice points in life. We decide to take or leave jobs or careers, spouses, ways of being, habits. Most of us battle an addiction to our self-image that rivals that of any substance. We are married to the view we hold of ourselves, and in so being, we limit what we can do and who we can become.

The band always jokes with our audiences that “we need this more than you do,” because the truth is we do. Each of us knows in our heart of hearts and in our quiet moments of reflection what stands in the way of our fully being who and what we know we are called to in this life. And now, we have a chance to decide – will it be the same old, same old, or will we play the metaphorical tambourine as if our lives depended on it?

What is it you’ve always wanted for yourself? Is there a dream you’ve tucked away? Is there a secret passion? Is it to speak up, or to simmer down, or to be bolder or braver?

This world needs us to fully engage, to risk being vulnerable, to be able to laugh at ourselves, even as we put ourselves out there. This world needs every one of us to take a chance on ourselves and on each other, not because we won’t fall down, but because we contain within us the capacity to rise again.

So whatever it is you want for yourself, go be that now. And I, for one, will support your efforts…especially if you decide you want to play the tambourine.

A big thank you to my bandmates in The Inspire Project and to all of you who came out to hear us last night and who are reading this now.

Wishing you peace, blessings, and inspiration,

Ilene