I Lift My Eyes Up

Every once in a while I sit down by my kitchen table, pull out my computer and listen to some of the songs I’ve recorded over the years. I hear a lot of things when I listen to myself. Usually it’s the amazing work of my team, producers, musicians, mixers and masterers. I also have the bad habit of listening to myself sing and hear how I think I could have done better haha (typical).

But today, I’m listening to “I Lift My Eyes Up” and I don’t hear errors, I just hear hope.

Brian&MarikaThis particular track was composed by my friend Brian Doerksen. He has influenced a generation of songwriters, and definitely if you go to church pretty much anywhere, you’ve sang songs he penned for the world to sing.

I wanted to share it today and maybe it will also bring you hope in the midst of your day, just like my moment at my table, and many other moments throughout my entire life. I first sang this song when I was about 14. The hope in it was as real then to me as it is now, and I was honoured to have the opportunity to record a new version (about 20 years later of the original release) about 2 years ago in the studio with Brian himself for the “Unstoppable” Album. It was surreal singing it with him, and I treasure the moments. This man and his music changed my life forever. I am blessed to have gotten to know some of his story behind the songs and am even richer because of his friendship and the friendship that evolved with his longtime (and my first time) producer Philip Janz and his wife Brenda. It was extra special for me at the time being typically a “pop recording artist” and getting to record a gospel track that I’d grown up with. It was a real gift.

Sometimes when I find myself unknowingly and well meaningly aiming for success, for validation, for platform, for influence – when I fail, falter, and feel like I’m even fading away – my hope remains the same and I know that there is so much more to behold, to live, to dream and to understand my identity

“I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from you, Maker of Heaven, Creator of Earth” Psalm 121

~ M

Sometimes I feel like Mike Wazowski. (Little green guy on Monsters University)

monsters1If you’ve ever watched the movie Monster’s University, you may know the story and what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it, warning: spoiler alert haha ( I always wanted to write that!)

The short of it is:  Sully ( the big blue naturally scary monster ) and Mike ( little green cute, but wants to be scary monster ), both meet in University with the dream of graduating the scare program to go on to be scarers at Monster’s Inc. Sully has the famous family line, is giant, blue and scary, and doesn’t have to put any effort at all into school. As far as everything Monster goes, Sully has the “IT” factor.  Mike, on the contrary, is not naturally scary, has to work hard, skips all the parties, and makes sure he gets the highest grades in every class. He does everything right, but everyone around him knows that he simply isn’t scary. 😦 sad face for him.

During the story line, you find that sometimes doing everything right, doesn’t matter. You may never get to be a scarer. BUT – there’s room to be the coach. In the end, both monsters get kicked out of scare school, and have to work hard from the mail room up to get to the top, and eventually they make it to the scare floor, as a team. Mike the coach, and Sully the lead scarer.

Great story…mostly. It’s a happy ending as both get to be where they need, but for me it was a little discouraging as Mike had to settle for being great at being just OK.

For years, I feel like I settled for being just OK. Sometimes I still feel like that. I feel like Mike. There will always be the younger, more single, non mom, sexier, popstars that will take the place in the world’s spotlight. AND THAT’s OK WITH ME. BUT…there has to be room for me SOMEWHERE. I’ve been a coach for the last five years, networking other people in to their dream jobs. Still in the entertainment industry, but by default really. I needed a break after being completely devastated by the people I was doing music and business with. They moved on, made more popstars that would get more naked than me when it came down to it. ( There probably is more to their story, but that’s what I saw. This is my blog, so I get to tell it my way lol ). However, I was angry, hurt and disappointed for a lot of years, while it seemed they thrived. The only thing that kept me going was how amazing my entire family and my good friends were through it all, and also the hope that God makes all things work together for my good. He carried me in my broken-ness, and I still made music, I still kept going with the hope that I would someday remember who I was.

All that to say, it’s not that those around me have said  – I can’t do this – it’s that most people haven’t said  – I CAN – which sometimes hurts more. haha. I’m too brown, too short, not black enough, not white enough, not skinny enough, can’t sing as good as ______fill in the blank. You name it, I’ve dealt with it. I do however have to give a big shout out to my USA friends and fans. For whatever reason, they love me there, and encourage me like crazy. OH CANADA.

Anyway, instead of this turning into a whining session, I just want to say that I’m really giving this a shot. I’m in a different season. I get to live life with my family and I get to see God show up. Where I used to work so hard at DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT, I came to realize that THAT will NEVER BE ENOUGH! But, I am BELIEVING RIGHT about myself this time. I know WHOSE I AM. And when I start feeling like I’ve got to get all crazy at trying to make things happen, I have to stop and remind myself, that God takes care of me. I will always be ME and that’s more than enough. ( I have to keep telling myself that EVERYDAY lol ) And I don’t believe that I have to settle. I’ve done things differently, and therefore do music a little differently. I’ve never given up, just been stunted a few times.  I feel like I am just getting going again. I have to say a huge thank you to Philip Janz, and Brenda Janz, and funnily enough a Janz of a different kind ( but yes they’re related ), Colin Janz. They’ve all – in their own way – ignited my soul and given life back to me and my music. Thank you friends. Love you all.

And now, on to a new season. I’m releasing a brand new Christmas single. I should call it “Miracles” because of how it all turned out, but I had to stick with the classic “This Christmas Time” I wrote it about 14 years ago, believe it or not. But Colin took it and transformed it with me into something better than I’ve ever known. Colin is an incredible producer and an artist in his own right. He’s now an Official 604 records producer, but more than that, he’s been a friend, and has just brought his amazing talent to something that’s close to my heart. Thanks Colin for being the real deal and shining on this song. I’m happy to say that it’s going to radio which I am more than excited about. I just want to sing, and have people sing along, and somehow, maybe, be inspired.

Monsters-University-bannerI’m still dreaming of record deals, but also, maybe just making my own company blow up and be what we need to be. That’s just part of the journey, that I take day by day. I’m kind of like Mike, but my Spirit is like Sully. I’m sure somewhere in between, the world for sure just needs ME to be ME.

Be you, because theres always someone waiting for you on the other side of your dreams.

~Me