My Amazing Life
How Clare Bowditch rocked me to a new beginning...
Don’t tell my husband but music is my first love. It’s my soul food. When it’s really good, a song can be like sexual and soul attraction rolled into one amazing, dirty weekend. The one where you stumble into a Vegas wedding, resided by Elvis, in a fit of erotic asphyxiation and end up ten years later, enduringly married to your twin flame. That familiar blanket, encasing you amongst the blues of winter, yet folded patiently on the foot of the bed in the swirling, fiery heat. It feels good to go through life’s adventures together. Songs heal. They whisper loving devotions across the rawness of your exposed neck. Amazing Life, from The Winter I Chose Happiness, by Clare Bowditch is that song for me.
With a really great song you move past the initial lust filled beats and sweet melodies to explore each textured layer of line, harmony, and note. The ebbs and flows of discovery. There are songs that re-set your adrenals and soothe the beasties. Just that momentary calm before life’s deluge. Then there are those delicious, melodic anthems holding the epic accomplishment of changing your whole life trajectory as this tune did for me. It’s as though you can vividly see the exact moment a pure, authentic ‘you’ basks in a metaphoric, seismic shift.
I love Clare simply for her ‘Clareness’. If you’ve ever seen her speak you will understand exactly what that means. She, of the Clare Bear overshares. The open, Australian goddess of laughter and light. Slightly flawed and imbued with seemingly unintended enlightenment. Her music had always flowed through our house with little real thought. Simply tinkling away in the sweet background of our life.
And then I hit forty. I feel my privilege smacking against my sagging arse as I write this. I wish I could say I was ready for the passage of time, aging with gratitude and grace. But no, I was not. Forty pounded me in the face with a closed fist. I had lost myself, at what I perceived as the end of a difficult life. The challenging passage of children through adolescence. A sometimes struggling marriage, more my fault than his. Family wanting more of me than I had any right to give. I had lost myself in the haze of the unplanned, unwanted, chaos that my life had become. I was no longer the artist, the creative. I had moved far away from the bohemian, fun loving imp of my twenties.
I didn’t have a clue who I was to be honest. Did I make her up? Was the me of old nothing but a beautifully curated dream? I was a mother, but not a very good one. Disengaged and resentful. A wife, atrociously unqualified to hold someone’s heart in my hand. I worked a million hours each day in a job to which I had no essential, effervescent connection. My body ached physically and spiritually. So what did that leave? I felt as though my soul was a crumbling, drought savaged land with little nourishment on the long, dusty horizon.
The first tiny spark of connection came at a small, local Village Festival filled with mulled wine and expectation. The smell of sandalwood and joints lingered on the sparkling evening breeze. Delicious Ms Bowditch was on a small stage in a glammed up tent, bare foot under a gorgeous billowy skirt. Her juicy, lush smile and flaming locks giving a glimpse of the sensual sizzle hidden behind the outrageous, self-deprecating laugh. I talked gently with my husband, letting the music wash over me. Laughing at the banter she is so well known for.
And then, that almost magical arioso intro. Fingers stroking the guitar, gently coaxing. Beguiling the lyrical beauty out from the wood. I’m listening to this song as I write and years later it still evokes that calling quality. As though someone beloved and long forgotten is sighing my name. I heard the beginning refrains. ‘You want to write a novel, make beautiful music’. I did indeed want to ‘run like the wind’. Was this ditty penned just for me? I wanted. I wanted so much it hurt. So much more than I felt I had. I didn’t want my life to be fully formed, my final chapter already written in stone. I did not want my story to be over and I was not just one thing. But yes, dear Clare, I did have to start with something. I had been waiting in the pregnant pause of limbo and in this moment it was though the muse who had delighted the song from her was landing gently against the petals of my own heart. The heart that was now blossoming and opening just a crack.
To hear Clare talk about this particular song you get the distinct impression it was not an effortless bolt from above. The evolution seemingly more akin to a gentle, rolling stroll through time and growth as a women, musician and eventually Mother. In an interview for the Happiness and It’s Causes conference in 2013 Clare spoke of beginning the song at the grand old age of nineteen whilst exploring the paralysis she felt in unpacking the journey her life should take and how best to be of service to the world. The song was finished as recently as 2012 as she was set to record her album, The Winter I Chose Happiness. Just the album title sent my mind swirling in directions I hadn’t ventured to before. I could actually choose happiness?
In this interview, Clare notes the chorus to Amazing Life only fully materialized on the day of recording, whilst lying flat in the studio due to a back injury. This somewhat labored origin story led her to question whether she really was on track to become ‘the next Madonna’ or did her personal tapestry need a few other threads. There may be more pleasant ways to navigate this existential conundrum but in this case, the outcome has been astounding.
Whilst recovering from the same injury her concept Big Hearted Business was born as a way to support creatives and entrepreneurs with true authentic heart. To Clare, this was a way to follow her real bliss. I started to wonder if she was onto some sort of brilliance. In an article written by Lauren Griffith in 2014 for The Weekend Edition, Clare says “Starting a resource for people to tap in to the idea that they can make their living doing what they love” was one of her ultimate achievements. Doing. What. You. Love....mind blown by the novelty in this simple concept.
I started exploring what this evolution of self might mean for me and stumbled across The Desire Map by Canadian, honey-voiced deliciousness, Danielle La Porte. A must read; or should I say ‘immersion’ as it’s really more of a full body experience. A soul map for any and every enlightenment seeking, feminine energy of our time. I started delving into my Core Desires, a La Portian concept meaning ‘the way you want to feel most of the time’ and I loved it. I soaked up the quest for introspection and yet, I was still missing a vital piece of the puzzle. I wanted to feel beautiful and so punished myself to fit into that societal mold. I needed to feel less stressed yet I filled my calendar with classes and self-help until it was brimming to overflow and overwhelm. I was still coveting a life that wasn’t my own. It was a start but I was missing the point. That was the seed of reflection through the microscope of the heart. Tea with a side of inquisition.
I continued this journey and rolled up to one a Danielle’s Australian gigs. As I sat waiting almost anxiously for the divine D to grace the stage, Day Planner in hand, who should I see walk in as support act for the night? A cosmic click sounded in my head. It was meant to be. You and me..there is work to be done and inspiration afoot Clare Bowditch.
Clare has a firm view that everybody can sing which is something I’m not sure I’m fully on board with. I think to sing well, to use your voice as an instrument, is a craft few truly understand. The breath, the vocal chords, mouth shape, posture all conspiring against the hands of emotion and humanness each time we utter a note. What I do fully and absolutely believe after this particular night is that every single soul has a voice and with it a capacity for magnificence in any manner they choose.
My heart soared once more listening to those words. ’Make the heart your home, inviting in the warm. You want an amazing life’. There was something more in those lines, fitting like a jigsaw against the backdrop of my core desires. To me, the greatest gift of An Amazing Life centers around the concept of endless possibility and connecting to my authentic song. Finding happiness wasn’t a static, fixed state. A milestone to reach. The ‘we’ve made it’ moments. Sometimes it was that, but more often it was about real things. Real experiences and people that brought pleasure. The tiny moments of captured bliss amongst the daily grind. I was now on the hunt to find the treasure map guiding me to my own chest of happiness.
But how? I had lost myself so completely I didn’t know what brought me joy, real joy anymore. Those beautiful lyrics once again set my path. It was ‘time to be still..and listen for a while’. I needed to hook into Divine inspiration and really listen to what my soul was crying out in utter anguish. I started planning each day as though bliss was my priority. Each moment an opportunity to experience astounding and profound joy. In the Weekend Edition article Clare explains, “My happiness comes down to choosing to focus on the stuff that’s awesome”.
And that’s exactly what I did. It took time but if I wanted it, any ’it’ that plucked my heart strings, I found a way. If I valued someone I told them. I found my authentic voice and stopped wishing my life was different. I simply made it different. I became the person I had admired from afar for so long. Never again did I say ‘I wish I had what she has’.
I wanted to sing so I took lessons and experienced my first public performance at forty-five, my first art show at forty-four. I’m now writing my first novel and it’s an absolute blast. Whether it’s ever published or not is completely beside the point. The point is that I’m enjoying the loving flow of words on paper as the creation unfolds. I became the mother and wife I always imagined simply because I choose to be exactly that. I’d long felt jealousy watching ‘the yoga crowd’ latte around town, wishing it was me who had a loving connection to my body until I suddenly realized there was nothing holding me back. That’s now part of the richness of who I am.
There was work, and doubt, lots of fear and sometimes disappointment but I had managed to shed the skin of societies expectations and custom make the life I most desired. The one that worked for us. For me. My greatest joy was having my baby girl watch me sing in public for the first time. She held my face in her small hands and, with her big blue eyes locked on mine, said “Mumma were you scared”? “So scared but also brave”, I replied. That was a lesson I had not planned for. An unexpected gift my daughter can now lean on throughout her life.
This song, along with all the Divine synergies sent my way, made me realize that everything I wanted was in reach by simply taking inspired action in the right direction. Just one small step towards my bliss. Every single day. It no longer served me to limit myself. No longer was I ‘not enough’ or too much. I now create each day intentionally and my bohemian goddess self gives gratitude that the scope and texture of her amazing life is boundless.
She’s back baby and there’s more to come.