My Bloom

Blog 5: Finding Purpose  

“If I try to see the beauty where others see despair 

And walk with pride and courage, masquerade my fear 

If I have helped a single soul find reason to believe 

Then I’ll know that I have lived.” 

From ‘Purpose’, Sharman Nittoli 

During performances of “My Bloom” show, I’ve met some fascinating people of all ages. 

Today, a lovely lady came up to me and said “I’m just like you. A retired schoolteacher who gave my all and is enjoying my retirement by constantly learning. Taking in knowledge instead of imparting it.” She told me she was on her way up to Montclair State University to continue her Spanish classes. I told her I was thinking of returning to my Greek lessons. 

Another kindred senior citizen told me that she has been a painter, stained glass maker and writer her entire life and was currently working on a new collection for an upcoming art show. 

Another told me her purpose was establishing new boundaries about what was family time and what was hers and hers alone. Yet another said she was planning to retire early to really enjoy her grandkids and help her daughter in this difficult economy. I’ve heard stories about volunteering for working with animals, seniors, AIDS victims, political parties and a host of other things. Some want to write their memoirs, others just want to find time to read the novels by great authors. 

I originally wrote this song for my beloved brother, Stavros, a beautiful, warm, multi-faceted and incredibly loving man who’s purposes in life were many. 

Stav was an environmental scientist, musician, choral singer, successful Great Dane owner and breeder, environmentalist, cook - I could go on and on. Most important were his relationships with people. He was meticulous in remembering everyone’s birthday and always wrote something personal and loving on his hand-picked card. A real holiday enthusiast, Stav also carefully chose unusual Christmas ornaments for each family member for many years. I still have them and display them every year, keeping him in my Christmas. 

I’m occasionally given to keeping alive emotional wounds. Been working on that one for years. He once told me “If you knew you were going to die, you wouldn’t waste time with anger, grudges and bitterness, you would find your purpose and show people how you much you love them, no matter what stupid thing they may have done to you.” That was the best therapy I ever received. I learned so much from him that has carried me through my life.  Is that the point of senseless loss?  To allow those left behind to learn and grow? 

Living with Purpose is different for everyone……… For me, keepin’ it  real is at the top of the list, especially in this world right now where we’re daily fed lies and  deception leaving us to live in shades of grey. 

Living without a purpose is not an option. Somedays It’s complicated, multi-dimensional - career moves, self-improvement, political education and involvement, musical growth, working on my Bloom show to touch more people and remain in line with my vision, and on and on. 

Somedays it’s simple but just as important, readin’ a new book, taking time to visit people I love. Remembering who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve learned and livin’ my truth. Still tryin’ to make time for meaningful projects for which I’d like to volunteer my time. And I need my daily nap! 24 hours in the day seems like a lot, but sure goes by fast! 

In the end of Stav’s life, when he had lost his hearing and was bedridden, he redefined his purpose and learned how to knit, joining a knitting circle of seniors. He didn’t want to get lost in reruns of Trapper John or Mash played at top volume. He was focused on creating a beautiful scarf for his amazing partner, Bradley, and, true to his nature, he had made some changes, ‘improvements’ on the pattern—altered to suit his creative taste with specific color requests for yarn, like “Azure’ and ‘maize’. He still cared, it mattered. 

Stav didn’t finish the scarf, but that Purpose served him for as long as it could. That image, that memory serves as my profound inspiration – the greatest gift he could have given me. 

He taught me never to take anything for granted, especially time. Let go of grudges and live. 

“If I can live with purpose and bear no one a grudge 

If I turn away from critics and abusers, Let God be my judge 

If someone has hurt me yet still I can forgive 

Then I’ll know that I have lived.” 

Enjoy my free download this week called “Purpose”.  

Join the conversation on Facebook/My Bloomers.

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  1. Purpose

Blog 4: Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With Doin’ Nothin’  

“Don’t remember the last time we let the world go, 

from ‘Let Me Show You Now’  from the Bloom CD 

I’m a list maker. Every day I have things that need to be done, could be done, should be done but can wait, you get the idea. I’ve learned to put myself at the top of the list. Sometimes I have to spend time learning new computer programs that will ultimately help with project completion and marketing. What I never anticipate is the ENORMOUS amount of time needed to get there! Often I hire an expert to talk to me ‘Sesame Street style,’ or go to the experts, YouTube Tutorials, definitely worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. How many people have been spared depression, anxiety and temporary insanity by the information found there? Even when given by someone ¼ my age that I can barely hear or understand, as long as there’s a good visual presentation, I’m golden - brings me a lot of peace. 

Here was my day yesterday; 

  1. Total email malfunction -  1 ½ hr. tech support; all emails on all phones and computers not allowing password login – and I am NOT changing them again. 
  2. Pro Tools music recording problem – 1 hr. training; something simple, but not simple for me 
  3. Mail Chimp Marketing – 2 hr. trial and error and tech support thru ‘chat’ service. Don’t even get me started.  A real struggle but I finally completed my first mass mailing. Whoo whoo. 
  4. Email Marketing Seminar Online – 1 hr.; my lists aren’t growing, what to do? 
  5. Printer problem – 2 hr.; Print head went one month after warranty expiration. Had to buy a new one and, God help me, install it. Again, ‘chat’ tech support. Don’t get me started. 

7 ½ damn hours of tech training. Caught up on the news for an hour, and it did nothing for my mental equilibrium. 

Know what I didn’t do? Walk my dog, relax with my husband, read my new book, play piano, sing, create.  Was supposed to start recording my new CD “Bloom” today, and I’ve been preparing the studio, making sure everything was A-OK. Plans fell through and you know what? I was almost relieved. Been so busy getting ‘tech ready’ that I haven’t really sat with my music and gotten ‘head’ ready. My brain was hurting. What was I missing? Simple Joy. 

Today is a truly beautiful, perfect Fall day. Ideal temperature, blue skies, lovely breeze. After a nice long walk with my boy, Gaetano, I sat outside with him and read my book, bundled in an old shawl, soaking up the sun, sipping vanilla honey herbal tea, allowing myself to let go and relax. Planning on chillin’ later with my husband, Alfred, in whatever way we choose. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with doin’ nothin’ once in a while. Must put it on my list. 

“Used to be, baby you and me made the time to love and play 

Now it’s busy, busy all day long, and time seems to slip away 

Don’t remember the last time we kissed from head to toe, 

Let me show you now, let me show you how.” 

Anybody feel pressure from tech trouble? Feel free to share, we can all learn from each other. 

My free download this week is called “Let Me Show You Now”.  

Join the conversation on Facebook/My Bloomers.

Blog 3: Three Words That Changed My Life   

  “Words I should have said, running through my head 

I could choke on the words I should have said!”  

     “I play piano.” Three words that changed my life. Ever think back to something words that completely changed the outcome of your life? 

     After being out of college for a few years, my second band with my husband broke up. I was on the cusp of a big decision – should I join another band, compose & pursue a true creative career or become an elementary music teacher in a local district? What to do? Went on vacation to Truro Beach, Provincetown, Rhode Island with a dear, crazy, uninhibited, bold friend to escape and regroup. Water and sand does that for me. 

     We laughed, swam, drank, went to the nude beach, got our asses burned bright red, camped out, went into Truro every night to hear great music. Back then it was all live, no DJs.  Nancy was the best one to travel with – no fear, a real risk taker, positive, joyful, beautiful & adventurous. She’s still like that!  Everyone should have a kindred spirit in their life like Nancy Valentine. 

     Inspired and renewed, I came back to Jersey and placed an ad in the local paper “Pop vocalist looking for working band”.  Classically trained, I was insecure about my pop piano abilities. I got a few bites, a few rejections. Finally, got a call from the owner/performer of a successful group who came to see me that weekend performing as a duo with my husband. As I completed my haunting rendition of “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian - I saw the enthusiasm wane from his face as if he had eaten bland pasta sauce.  Graciously, told me that although he enjoyed my interpretation, he wasn’t looking for that kind of ‘Janis’, more the Joplin type. He drained his glass and turned to leave. 

     I touched his arm and said “I play piano.”  

     Usually I sit there like a momo, pondering what I should say, thinking so much about it that I completely lose the moment. But not this time. 

     He turned, interest renewed. “Oh? How well?” 

     “I know my music. And I arrange harmonies as well.”   

      Where did that boldness come from? One of the few times I found the right words.  Called me the next day, “Come to rehearsal tomorrow, bring your keyboard. Teach us four songs that you can perform this weekend. Let’s see how it goes.” 

      Back then, I was used to ‘cellar bands’ that compulsively rehearsed six days a week a week, and worked maybe one gig a month. I was always the only girl in the group but underplayed my abilities, intimidated by macho egos and head games. 

      “This weekend? What about your book? When will I learn and rehearse that?” 

       “On the job”, he answered. “I’m already bored with it. You’ll run the rehearsal. See you tomorrow.”   

       That’s the kind of man he was. Still is. Bored easily, impulsive, creative and energetic, not afraid to take chances. Years later, that man, Alfred, became my partner, my friend and, eventually, my husband and we have worked, performed and created together for 45 years.  

      Now I can think of many times when I ‘shoulda woulda coulda”.  Hindsight is 20/20, and these missed opportunities used to haunt me as I replayed each scene in my mind like a movie that I so badly wanted to rewrite and edit.  

     Three words. “I play piano.” Changed my life.  

“Woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’,

kickin’ up old dirt, living through the hurt 

Feelin’ down, feelin’ low,

give it up, give it up, and let it go 

       My free download this week is called “Words I Should Have Said”.  I’ve also included a video of the first recording of the song. 

      Got any scenes you’ve been replaying in your head for too many years? Any words that changed your life?

      Feel free to share them, we can learn from each other. 

     Join the conversation on Facebook/My Bloomers……… 

  ~Sharman Nittoli

Blog 2: Not Good Enough  

“I can see it in faces, people reading me like a book

Flippin’ through my pages, never a second look 

Disapproval written deep within my soul

Makes me feel like just not good enough”. 

From the song ‘Not Good Enough’ 

I have spent a lifetime suppressing some of my most meaningful dreams, my boldest goals.  Dreams that seemed too far out of reach, too risky, too unrealistic.  Who was I to think that I could even possibly do it. I would find people, events, tasks, jobs and challenges to fulfill.  Truth - I competently fulfilled all of my responsibilities because I was raised with a strong work ethic. Never applied it to the deepest part of me. Surrounded by love but not encouraged to be a risk taker, to be bold, to follow impractical dreams.    I had an overwhelming fear of putting myself on the line. Afraid of  being judged and found to be lacking. Better not to know.  The habit of postponing my life became a ritual. It would take nothing for me to have an idea for something, and then shelve it with ‘legitimate’ reasons. A consummate perfectionist procrastinator. Sound familiar? 

Consequently, I had been in the music business for over 30 years before I recorded my first original CD, ‘Unconditionally’. My husband, producer and occasional mentor, Alfred, finally said “What are you waiting for? The wheelchair years? Let’s do it!” 

I’ve been told that I’m one of those people who has a high fact gathering threshold before I move on an idea. There’s a lot of time that passes between my assembling and researching information and my actual physical action. I attend seminars, online and in person, read articles, talk to people, grow my vision, really see it, put together folders, label them with colorful markers. Then, somehow, the folders end up on the shelf.  Truth. That’s all stuff to avoid doing the project, getting it out there and being judged, being found out.  When I transitioned from classical to pop to jazz, I did a lot of listening to the greats – Peterson, Pete Kelly, Evans, Tyner, Chick, David Kikoski, the Duke and the Count, Ella, Sarah, Joni, Laura Nyro, Phoebe, Beverly Kenney, so many more – all incredible artists and the listening was necessary to my musical evolution and transition. For some reason, all my listening and studying didn’t just inspire me, but it kept me humble – too humble to develop a healthy ego and confidence about who and what I was.  Did I say humble? No, scared to death! The more personal my music, the more fear I experienced - if people rejected my songs, they rejected me.  Though my writing had evolved I was still insecure about my work. Been in a lot of bands doing a wide variety of music - only in the last 10 years have I truly integrated the different styles into my own style. 

So easy to say “Let go”. We procrastinators are skilled at recognizing disapproval, we see it in the eyes, face and attitude of a listener. The unspoken NGE -“Not good enough”.   I knew it had become a ‘thing’, a pattern that I kept repeating and I made up my mind to fix it. Again, sounds easy? It wasn’t. I sought help and was encouraged when my online research led me to seminars about chronic procrastination from which many people suffer, just like  me! And I do mean suffer.  Some of my creative ideas were actually born in high school! They were buried, never realized and haunt me still!  Good, unique ideas, which is what you need to break through in the music business. Buried from fear. 

I took a leap of faith, began a coaching relationship with Deborah Hurwitz –  a talented woman who is skilled, compassionate and experienced in dealing with the very same issues I had. After doing some very serious, honest introspective work, she encouraged me to expand my journal writing by writing original songs that complemented the theme of the week. And lo,  ‘Bloom’ was born! Each song and story is from my heart, from my life. In as much as we are all different and have a set of unique experiences and voices, every time I perform ‘Bloom’, I meet people who tell me things like “I felt like you were singing about me.” “I’ve decided to retire – life is short and I really want to spend my time and enjoy my grandchildren.” “I’ve always wanted to learn the tango – it’s time.” 

I decided to start a Facebook page called “Bloomers” – a place for kindred spirits to discover, support, share and grow as we move towards our personal ‘Bloom.’ 

Would love for you to check it out, join if you are comfortable and share your stories. https://www.facebook.com/groups/mybloomers/ 

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about my coach. Check out  www.deborahhurwitz.com 

 and/or www.freedomforperfectionists.com 

I’ve included the first video I did on the song “Not Good Enough”. Also, a free download of the song demo as well.  Just me squeaking out the song and banging on the piano. In the old days I would never have let it go, way to personal and, you guessed it, just not good enough. But now I’m putting it out there for your review. 

“..and the days turn into weeks, months turn into years,

Life just disappears 

Tired of feeling that I’m just not good enough.” 

Enjoy.

Blog 1: My Bloom   

It's not too hard, it's not too late

So drop your guard, you know you're great

Take a chance, shoot for the moon!

                   Bloom.

         From the song "Bloom"

I tell people I’m blooming. I’m in bloom. You are witnessing the ‘Bloom of Sharman’. Some get it, some don’t. I’m energized, I’m flourishing in a way I have never felt before. So exciting and overwhelming, I want to share it with the world, corny as it may sound.  

The whole idea came from my mother’s greenroom. She spent hours in it, tending to her beloved plants.   

 “Good morning my sweet babies! Who’s thirsty today?” Arms opened wide enough to embrace an elephant, smiling like child finding a forgotten bag of candy, she greeted her beloved plants like that every morning in her sanctuary, “You never talk to us like that” I often thought.  Still, her devotion and joy was infectious.  

I could tell by the gradual neglect of her ‘babies’ that mom was beginning to fail. Because she could no longer wield the water bucket, my father lovingly installed a wall faucet and my husband bought her a new invention – a long water spray with an extra long hose.  The perfect gift! She could sit in her wheel chair and make the rounds. Isn’t it funny how the idea of a ‘perfect gift’ changes through the years?   

One day while helping her, she exclaimed “Oh my! Look, a new baby! I wondered if I would see it again” talking to a very temperamental African Violet who seldom bloomed. (Notice I said ‘who” not ‘that’ – I’d been converted)  Tears ran down her cheeks. One bud! Talk about life’s simple pleasures.   

I questioned her about the trade-off. “That’s a lot of work for a small gain, no? They only bloom once a year!”  

“You’re wrong, Shash. That’s the point of life - to bloom. It’s not how often, or how much, but just be sure you do.” I wrote it down, knowing that one day I would find a use for it.

"Bloom once a year or every day

Blossom appear in different ways

Sing out your song cuz you're in tune

                  Bloom." 

Enjoy my download of ‘Bloom’. It expresses how I feel now.

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  1. Bloom

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