“What led you here?” (Debbie Ford)
It all started at a shadow workshop.
“No one is coming to save you. So now what?” I heard the voice of my dearest mentor Debbie Ford echoing in my ears. “You need to BE YOUR OWN HERO. Just you, your life, your dreams, and tending to your sweet, precious, tender heart.”
I was led to this workshop by the daily pain I carried from my childhood. Born in war-torn Afghanistan, my parents fled persecution with a baby me in their arms. They journeyed to Pakistan in hopes of one day reaching America. Sponsored by a Baptist church in New York, we began a new life in Virginia. As the years passed, I knew from my constant grief and sadness, that there was unhealed trauma and emotional debris holding me back. I had no idea at the time where to even start.
One day I heard Alanis Morrisette talk about going to a shadow workshop in San Diego, and I immediately checked out Google found The Ford Institute. I signed up immediately for the next workshop and bought Debbie Ford's first book, “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.”
What I learned from her teachings was the immeasurable power we each have buried deep beneath the traumas and shame we each carry. I learned there was a different way to walk through this world that was healthy and emboldening.
With Debbie’s coaching alongside the support of a gifted therapist, I began to unravel the places in my identity and personality that were holding me back. I call these our imaginary roadblocks. They are the reasons we don’t go for what we truly want. They are the places where we don’t allow ourselves to grow and feel joy, the glass ceilings we keep bumping up against even when we say we’re committed to our goals. And they are directly related to our beliefs rooted in experiences we haven’t fully digested. So what gets us unstuck and moving again? Facing our fears instead of running away.
Growing up, I found healing and inspiration in rock n' roll. I remember being little and hearing the first scratch of a record playing The Knacks’ “My Sharona” and the strut, swagger, exuberance, playfulness made me feel free. There was this ceilinglessness that felt like an adventure awaiting anyone willing to source/create from a real and authentic place.
I was also moved deeply by the level of passion and self-expression so beautifully embodied by the genre. Watching Jim Morrison of The Doors unapologetically be his provocative, poetic and feral self while also being highly sensitive and introverted, planted a seed I would revisit in my 20s.
The Afghan culture itself is deeply steeped in poetry from mystics like Rumi and Hafiz. I fell in love with words and imagery from a very young age, and my love of music bloomed with every song I discovered and lyrically devoured.
One day in my early 20’s I saw a band play on the Sunset Strip, at the Roxy. The band’s name was Kidneythieves and they had this glorious, powerful, fierce front-woman named Free Dominguez. Everything about this woman exhilarated me. Her bold, in your face, taking up space, feminine, powerful, Lilith brand of woman stirred my soul.
And it was my soul that said, “That’s what we’re going to do next.” and my introverted, write poetry at the beach, people watching, and wanting to be invisible personality said, “Noooooooo!”
There had been quiet rumblings before. Watching Tori Amos dare me with her otherworldly gaze, PJ Harvey boldly singing "Long Snake Moan" with her big energy, Heather Nova singing so sweetly, I found myself floating in the ethers. And all the times as a pre-teen and teenager, that I clung to a cd pamphlet, reading lyrics and singing my heart out. Call it a culmination of all those moments before, but this one shook me to my core.
With the support of a coach and a therapist, I began combining my love of words with the rock n’ roll music I so adored and watched it change the dimensions of the room I was in. My soul was a hell yes to this.
I found a vocal coach, referred to me by one of my vocal heroes and friends and worked through my fears. I put a band together and had to work through more fears. I made a record and new fears surfaced as it dawned on me that I would have to get up on a stage. With ample support from coaches, friends, family and my bandmates, I played the very same stage at the Roxy that had inspired my soul a few years before.
I worked through my stage fright. I worked through my fear of failure and judgement. I worked through the things that held me back from my own dreams and learned a great deal about my own power, resourcefulness, grit and resolve. That's how I know you've got it in you too.
Whether it’s helping an artist reach the next level of their songwriting craft, teaching empowered vocals and stage performance, or supporting you to uplevel and rock your one precious life, the essence of the work is the same.
I will stand for your vision. I will help you shake off the bullshit that's holding you back (even if it feels super real right now) and I will walk alongside you as you carve a new soul-led path.
©2023 by Fereshta Ramsey