My Grandpa Moose & Who Do You Think You Are?

Last Monday, on All Souls Day, I was thinking about my grandpa (“Moose” we called him) and how he always wanted to write songs. He had no extensive musical training though he loved a great melody and played a decent clarinet in the Army during WWII.

He once told me that he went to New York City to meet with a producer and show him “his songs.” I don’t think that meeting went well. It may have been a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type of experience. He may have even felt embarrassed.

As I reflected on this, it brought a familiar ache to my chest.

I experienced a similar pain years earlier when I visited the New York Times building to do an interview to feature my newest album. I was excited, but at the same time, I thought: “Who am I to get to do this?” “Why should I get to?”

Could my grandfather have written great songs? I have no doubt.

Did he have any guidance or training? No.

Did this stop him from trying? No.

Did it lead to disappointment because had the desire and capability but lacked the know-how to make his dream come true? Probably.

Did he undoubtedly have a lot to share due to his rich life experience?  I’m sure.

Do I wish the songs he could’ve written (if he’d had the support) existed today? You bet I do!

In light of my recent work helping soul-inspired songwriters bring their best and most magical work into being, I often feel elated but, at other times, I feel sadness for those who didn’t get the opportunity.

On some level, I want to honor the lives of my ancestors by struggling with them in solidarity, but the truth is I can’t go back in time and help my grandpa write his songs. However, I can work with songwriters who are alive today.

I can honor my ancestors by creating and doing now what their circumstances didn’t allow for.

I know my grandfather wouldn’t want me to be imprisoned by the “Who Do I Think I Am?” way of thinking! He would be happy that he’d passed along his love for a beautiful, timeless melody.

What about you? Do you experience the “Who Do You Think You Are?” mindset in any part of your life?

Ancestors aside, I have to say that as a people-pleaser, it pops up a lot for me.

I’m a grown woman, yet I crumble when faced with it. I sort of contort my body so I’m shorter. I drop my head and I often stumble over my words.

Like when I hear the age-old joke about being an alum of the University of Notre Dame (over and over): “How can you tell if someone went to Notre Dame?” Punchline: “They’ll tell you.”

Yep, that built-in Someone Is Annoyed At You Because You (in this case I), Must Think You’re Better Than Everyone Else.

Silly, F-in, Bullshit.

Or, a recent person’s comment after one of my performances: “How’s it feel now that you’re not so important up on that stage?”

Um, fine?

Or, my dear father, a very kind man, who, years ago, innocently enough, when I was in high school (and wanting to feel self-sufficient) tried to sell my old text books so I could buy some new clothes, said: “We don’t sell our books in this family, we give them away! Who do you think you are?” (a fledgling entrepreneur who will go into hibernation for a while now? ;-) )

So…who do I think I am?

Well I’m a woman, I’m a human, I’m a soul, I’m a space from which many things arise (like talking, walking, singing, laughing, creating, hunger :) )

How about you? Who do you think you are? Or a better question might be: Who are you when you’re free of this question(?) which really isn’t a question but rather an implication: Don’t you dare be who you are.

The next time you feel the “Who Do You Think You Are?” mindset coming from either inside of you or outside of you, go ahead and ask yourself who you are and then ask yourself who you’d be if this way of thinking had no affect on you.

You’ll know.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re willing, please leave a comment below.


18 thoughts on “My Grandpa Moose & Who Do You Think You Are?

  1. Oh, Anne. I so identify with this kind of thinking. Usually it’s when I find myself headlong into some creative project, just soaring along, when suddenly I am hit with the feeling/realization that I’m flying 10,000 feet above the ground. I become utterly petrified, and hear that voice inside my head: Who exactly do you think you are? (You are not a bird, you do not have wings, you are not x, y, z…). I’ve been blessed with a community that recognizes my wingless flight as gift. My personal struggle is always to have faith in the Vision that gives me flight, and to be patient and resourceful enough to pick up the pieces I need to make the flight sustainable. Peace, friend, ML

    • Mmmm. wow, ML, thank you for sharing this. I didn’t know you felt this way, experienced this. For me, it’s so much in the surrender. Surrendering to the grand vision, and then surrendering to each small step along the way. I guess that’s the part that is grounding, or a relief. So happy to hear you have a community around you that recognizes your wingless flight as a gift. I love it. Also, please tell Dave we loved getting his album! You seem to also have a husband who supports the grand vision and finding sustainable ways to bring it into being. Much love, a

  2. Anne – what interesting timing of this newsletter for me!

    I have had many ups and downs with my songwriting the last several months. The amazing high points have been thanks to you and your mentorship program… At the same time I have been bogged down with a recording project and have had setbacks in my guitar studies and in trying to collaborate live with other musicians.

    Yesterday while driving home from work I thought “maybe I should just take a break from all of this. What makes me think I have something original to say? There are probably thousands of singer-songwriters who have already covered this material and are better singers/players/composers”

    “who do I think I am anyway?”

    I’m not sure what the answer is yet….Thanksgiving is always a difficult time of year for me, so I will try not to be too hard on myself. And thank you Anne, for reminding us that we are human and these feelings and thoughts, though difficult and sometimes disconcerting, are part of the human experience.

    PS the best thing I have done for myself, creatively, ever was to take advantage of the opportunity to be mentored by Anne Heaton….first in a group workshop and now in a 6 month one on one program. If you have ever considered doing this for yourself….do it!

    • Sharon,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m so glad this was the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself creatively. It’s certainly been a pleasure for me working with you. Sometimes, the darkest time is before the dawn. I know this because I’ve experienced it over and over again. When we approach an edge, part of us rebels, the part that wants to keep us safe. More to you in private! :)
      Peace, Anne

  3. I am a grandfather who takes a day off to be with his grandson who is out of school and we find the time to do the things we love best: multiple games of UNO, no holds barred while enjoying a bagel and a chocolate milk. A visit to the Science Center for Ripley’s Believe it or Not exhibit and then best of all, off to the park to fly a kite, something Will had never done before and something I cannot remember neither the time nor place when last I enjoyed such a beautiful moment as watching a kite soaring into the sky with such a beautiful boy making it work.
    I am a father with a young child so beautiful that you truly see how wonderful life is when she looks into your eyes and tells you how much she loves you.
    At moments like these, no comments can undercut who I am or what I can accomplish or what my legacy will be.

    • This is beautiful! Thank you Chris! Sometimes I want to take my girls out of school to enjoy a day like the one you describe. I have and now you remind me I can again :)

  4. Wonderful food for thought, Anne. So much more than singer/songwriter. Philosopher too.
    Who am I? Not a body with a soul, but a Soul living temporarily in a body, surrendering to all the Beauty I can find.

  5. Anne,

    Regarding your question, “Who Do You Think You Are?”

    You stated it well in your email but I wanted to say…
    you are a good egg.

    I love your introspective and inspirational emails.

  6. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for the heartfelt and honest story, and the reminder that everyone goes through those moments of doubt. I think you are a wonderful musician and person. I am trying to find myself, but I want to make a difference in other peoples lives. I just need to remember that I can and will accomplish my goals of being who I want to be… thanks for reminding me of that.

  7. Anne – thanks for your insights, stories and being so raw and vulnerable with your thoughts. You are a constant beacon of inspiration and motivation! Your grandfather’s piece looks beautiful – I’m hearing the sounds of a clarinet and Satie type waltz as I read the melody and chords.

    • Ah J Russo! Thank you so much. I love hearing from you. And yes, the melody is nice, right? He needed a little help with harmony and maybe further melodic development, but I think I’ll play this for my family for the holidays :) You’re the best!

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