It has been way too long since I wrote here, and I take it as a period in which my writing/creative inspiration molded into the darkening tempo of Sweden’s slowly chilling winter. All of November a friend said, “There is a reason why we can’t get anything done: it is November. Just accept it.” I guess it is because the darkness is on its way and the nordic people know that November is when the depression starts taking hold….But, the holiday season has brought about more light and time away from school has given me a chance to remind myself of many important things. Recalibration was necessary.

The beginning of winter was filled with anxiety for preparing for auditions in the spring. I’ve recorded a video audition for San Francisco Conservatory and am doing live auditions in Copenhagen, Oslo, Malmö and Göteborg. This means scales and arpeggios on the piano and deciding the vocal repertoire that represents who I am the most and is also manageable to learn and improve on. Thanks to some good talks with special people, strengthening old relationships and beginning other new exciting relationships, some good runs in the snowy, peaceful forest and some good thinking, the pressure of auditioning has lightened and I am more excited to audition. I am reminding myself that whatever I have right now is what I have to give. I must be honest with myself and know that I can’t do anything more than what I am doing now. It shows in my audition if I have a foundation of joy and love for singing or a foundation of fear and anxiety. I create myself as an artist, and I can choose to nurture whichever foundation I want to, so here we go!

A lot has happened since September, of course. I may write more about that later, but right now I would like to write about some reminders I’ve had over this short holiday break I’ve spent with my grandparents. It has been full of good reminders and a much needed rejuvenation of joy: just joy. My grandparents are both quite old and frail; they need of a lot of help. Being here and helping them has been a bit heavy, but also very enriching. I’m seeing in action how attitude is everything and life can be good even in not-so-happy circumstances. I’m learning the value of taking care of the people you love and a mutual love and appreciation for one another. Being in Sweden and staying with them now has helped me realize that they have been my biggest connection to Sweden and have been my foundation here. Although my mom did plenty of work to keep me connected, it was them who did a lot of the work to keep me fed and joyous in the Swedish summer sunshine (and also the rain). They have always loved and cared for me, appreciating what I do and supporting my dedication to singing, even if my grandpa does not see a connection between a career and studying music. He asks me, “So how does one make money with a degree in music?” He asks very sincerely, but I see how it just does not make sense in his head. He was an engineer in his prime years and is very much a career man. But, all the same, they both are so happy that I am studying music and ask plenty of questions about what I’m singing and how my life at school is. My grandma says that if there was one thing that she had wished for in life, it was a singing voice. So she is so happy that her granddaughter is making use of hers! It is interesting getting to know more of one’s family, because sometimes I see bits of myself in them. I’m now understanding what family means for the first time, beyond my most immediate family. It is one of those things that you don’t know exists until you experience it, but now experiencing more of where I came from makes so much sense. Hanging out with the older crowd is important. Love, respect, and care your for elders, y’all! When you are ready for it, they can teach you a lot!

I’ve also been reminded of how important it is to take time to recharge the batteries and do “nothing.” It has been a long time since I’ve done “nothing,” and this time is as effective as any to process and recalibrate my direction and attitude and connections with myself and others. It is funny how when we’re busy we disconnect. Or at least I do… Although what I have been doing here is not “nothing” with practicing, running, care-taking and catching up tasks we have to do as members of this society, it feels like it is a break just because it is different. Oh how important variation is!

I’ve also been reminded of just how much we need people. This relates to how much my grandparents need people right now to help with everyday tasks, but also to how different people have helped me out of a long funk. If it weren’t for other people (strangers, mothers, fathers, sisters, old friends, new friends, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, acquaintances), I would have been stuck in a sad brain place of fear for the future instead of celebrating the richness that exists. My point is really simple, but it has really struck home right now! All I mean is that my life would be really sad if I didn’t have other people to be inspired by and to inspire! What is life about more than relationships and exchanges of energy between others?

Now for a little story! The universe is open. That sounds so new-agey but it is so true! A big concern of mine about spending my break with my grandparents was that there is no piano here for me to practice on. I had to practice since my first audition is on January 5th in Copenhagen. Earlier in the semester my voice teacher had mentioned that when she travels, she stops in at churches and asks if she can practice there. So, I went first to the church that is closest to my grandparents’ house, but they were not super helpful. So I went to Domkyrkan, which is one of Götegorgs biggest churches and is in the city center, and asked if they had a piano I would be able to practice on. I explained that I was studying music, staying with my grandparents, and auditioning soon. The groundskeeper said, “Well, you can’t really use the piano here since we like to keep the church open for the public, but there is a meeting house on the other side of town that you can use. It is completely empty for the next couple of weeks and I can just give you a key so you can use it whenever you need to!” And just like that he lent me, a complete stranger and non-church member, the key to this meeting house. As my mother has said for a long time, ask and you shall receive! I am so thankful for how some people trust and want to see others succeed. I really lucked out on this one! The story just gets better, though. When I got off the bus, I looked up at the street sign of the side street that this meeting house is on. It is called Elfrida Andrées Gata. My jaw dropped and I let out a squeal of delight! Elfrida Andrée was Sweden’s first female organist and became the principal organist in Domkyrkan (the same church!) in 1867. I sang two of her songs in my Senior Recital at Oxy in April. This world is so full of coincidences I sometimes don’t know what to think.

So, what I really want to say is that everything will work out. It always does, somehow.

Here’s a good song to listen to, from her last self-produced/financed/recorded/written album! (((I’m not quite sure why it is called “Cherokee,” but I hope it is not just an indie-appropriation of native culture because it sounds cool….)))

And some brain/eye candy that is so true!

Teagan White

Teagan White