Interview with Alex and Dan of Canadian Band: Hideout Legacy

canadian music, Interviews
Hideout Legacy band
Photo Credit: Andrea Hunter Photography
www.andreahunter.ca/

By Monica Ng

Out of hiding 

Now that I’ve discovered Hideout Legacy‘s music – they’re no longer “in hiding” from me! I saw Sara’s (IG: @sara_sunshine_meredith) band recommendation so checked out their music. I began following Sara on IG because of our mutual love for Toronto’s very own Stuck on Planet Earth as well as our love of nature and the outdoors.  I’m a sucker for Canadian music and psyched to promote and support our musicians. I’ve been a music lover since I was 7 and admit that I have high expectations when it comes to my music. When I first come across a new artist and start listening to their music, I’m afraid to be disappointed. It’s like when I’m discovering new trails – some surpass my expectations, while others leave me feeling empty. I find that interviews are easy for me to put together when I’m interested in the musician and their music – so needless to say, these guys are amazing! I absolutely love Canadian enthusiasm, passion and spirit. All the musicians that I’ve interviewed are super-friendly, wonderful and incredibly talented.  

Contact 

IG: @hideoutlegacy

Facebook: Hideout Legacy

www.hideoutlegacy.com 

About 

From my very own city, Toronto, Hideout Legacy is made up of Thomas Arthur (vocals/keyboard), Dan Morson (guitar) and Alex Arthur (drums/backup vocals). I can pretty much guarantee you that they’re the only “twin brothers and their best friend” trio that you’ll ever come across. This self-described “modern alt-rock” band re-invented itself during COVID times and created a new name for itself – pushing full steam ahead in the music scene with new singles releases and an upcoming EP this September.  

Hideout Legacy band
Photo Credit: David McDonald Photography
www.davidmcdphotos.zenfolio.com

Their Music 

Drive Me Wild (single) – 2021 

Anthem (Walk off the Earth – cover) – 2021

Game Changer Remix (single) – 2021

Game Changer (single) – 2021 

Interview 

Me: I really appreciate you guys taking the time to participate in this interview. Your latest release, “Drive Me Wild” has been on repeat for the last week or so – in my car, at work (I feel sorry for my colleague lol), rollerblading, biking, hiking, cleaning… you name it. It’s a great song. Very wild! 

On the topic of wild – these COVID times are crazy. What were you guys doing right before the COVID shutdowns?  And what’s going on now? 

Alex/Dan: First of all, we’re honoured, thanks for having us!

We were in the midst of recording our EP right before the lockdown and used the opportunity to record and make more music, re-write and re-record. “Drive Me Wild” was very much a baby of that longer recording time. We started with a heavy rock sound, reworked the song multiple times to get the current modern, alternative version and even made an R&B one as well that will be released June 15th.  Right now we are focused on publicity – in getting the music out there as well as releasing the singles and EP.  We are excited for what’s around the corner with restrictions being lifted so we can play some shows.

Me: I think everyone’s anxious for the restrictions to be lifted. I have it all planned out – post-COVID, I’m going to continue my exploration of Ontario’s trails at distant locations, go to live concerts and chill out with friends over a meal and drinks inside a restaurant.  

What are the first 3 things that you’ll do after the pandemic is over? 

Alex: Live Music (see as many live shows as possible), have a huge party, and definitely looking forward to going out on a Friday and Saturday.

Dan: Go to a concert, eat out, have a big party with all my friends.

Me: It sounds like we’re pretty much on the same page with our plans! Alex – when did you first pick up a set of drumsticks? And do you play any other instruments?  

Alex: I first picked up a set of sticks for our first venture into rock, when was 19. I started with guitar and added bass and drums at the same time. I’ve always loved playing multiple instruments but am loving the kit. The kit is the only instrument where you can become one with the music and close your eyes, it’s so much by feel. 

Me: That’s amazing that you’re able to find your space. I’ve always loved the sound of the drums. Dan, when did you pick up your first guitar? And do you play other instruments?  

Dan: I started playing guitar just before high school when my dad introduced me to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  I rented a guitar for a month and absolutely loved it – playing relentlessly until I had to return it.  I loved it so much I wanted to buy one but I had a tendency to start/stop a lot of hobbies so didn’t continue playing.  After returning the guitar rental I continued to think about playing for many months after until I realized I was serious about learning to play, at which point I bought my first acoustic. I played trumpet through most of high school in the jazz and orchestral bands however guitar became more and more a priority as time went on.

Me: Thanks for sharing guys. I enjoy hearing stories about how musicians get started. Everyone has such a different story. And Dan, I totally get it about start/stop with hobbies – I’m the same way. I mentioned that “Drive Me Wild” reminds me of “Frost” by Rare Monk, so I was instantly hooked on your song. Who writes your songs? And where do you guys get your musical inspiration from? 

Alex/Dan: We all collaborate together on all the songs in one area or another – we all come in with different ideas and choose one we all like and run with it. Ultimately each member has equal share in the final music we decide on, which makes the creative process both challenging and very rewarding, as we ultimately end up with a song we are very proud of.

Me: Very nice, and it’s great that everyone has their input. I’m impressed that you guys work together so well. I read that you were formerly known as “Total Runout” and re-invented your band while renaming it “Hideout Legacy“.  I’m sad to hear about the Hideout (and so many other venues) that closed down because of the pandemic. Can you share your journey including how you chose your current name? 

Alex/Dan: We felt that Total Runout was a name we had outgrown and as a result of the pandemic we had grown a lot personally and as a band so we felt a change was appropriate.  The name felt right as we had played at the Hideout multiple times – having it become our home away from home and really a place for us to express our rock attitude. Also, the pairing with the word legacy gave it some extra meaning, reminds us of great legacy loves and the emotions we love writing about. 

Me: It’s definitely an original name, and was a bit hard for me to remember initially, but I get it. Your website shows that you’re ready to launch “5 singles, 4 remixes, videos and an EP”. That’s pretty exciting! Can you give a hint as to what we can expect in terms of theme, style, vibe, etc.? 

Alex/Dan: The style is keeping in the same modern/alternative vein with a few variations – the songs came together with a feel but didn’t have a specific theme in mind. The EP has a variety of flavours.

Me: Looking forward to new music. On a separate note, I love that you guys are fans of Stuck on Planet Earth too. Here’s a “get to know you” question that I ask everyone I interview: Who are your top 3 favourite musicians? 

Alex:  Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr (Royal Blood), Muse (package deal) – that’s how I squeeze in 5 to 3. I feel like I’m missing so many here – I have infinite respect for so many musicians.

Dan: Josh Homme (QOTSA), Mike Kerr (Royal Blood), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin).

Me: I haven’t heard of most of them, but will definitely check them out. Life has so many demands and stresses. I’m a bit of a stress-eater, but I try to manage my stress by blasting my music, exercising and surrounding myself with nature. Fill in the blank. “When I’m feeling stressed, I… ______.” 

Alex: Definitely playing and listening to music, working out, and burying myself in stuff to do. 

Dan: I workout, go for a drive, watch my favourite concerts on YouTube.  Music in the car when I’m driving home from work is great and actually tends to remove all my stress by the time I get home.

Me: Music is definitely a stress reliever. When I blast my music – it becomes part of me and I think of nothing else – much like meditation. Alex, you’re the second twin that I’ve “met” recently. I’m working on an interview with musician, Jacqueline Loor and she’s a twin too.  What’s it like being in a band with your brother and your best friend?  And just for fun, here’s a similar question that I asked Jacqueline – what’s the funniest swap that you’ve ever done? 

Alex: It’s wicked, the chemistry and the foundation we have is something that you can’t find – we have a connection from doing so many things in life together. The funniest swap we’ve done…I have to admit we’ve never tried to confuse people because so many people can’t tell us apart in the first place, we’re just relieved when they actually can. I keep on getting compliments for my lead singing while only playing the drums, which I find pretty funny.

Me: LOL, I can’t imagine being a twin! Amazing the chemistry you have – that’s something rare. What kind of challenges did you guys deal with getting into the music industry? And what suggestions do you have for others who are considering a career as a musician? 

Alex: Definitely make sure you are in it for the lifestyle, love both the process and the work, and have an end goal. Having a solid cash flow to propel an amazing team is also essential because it takes money to get that initial push.

Dan: The biggest challenge is standing out and getting your music heard.  There are many bands and songs out there which people may associate with another artist so being able to come off as truly creative and musically unique amongst many other great artists is the main challenge.  I would recommend people establish what their goals are for being a musician because there are a lot of ways to approach a career but ultimately, if it is your dream to become a musician the end goal needs to be clear.

Me: Thanks for the great insight and tips. It’s been great chatting with you guys and getting to know you. I look forward to your new tracks and live concerts. You’ll definitely see me grooving in the crowd! Everyone, show some love to this fantastic band. ATTENTION TORONTONIANS – Hideout Legacy is our very own local band. Don’t forget to buy tickets to their concerts when things open up again. 

Is there anything else that you guys wish to share? 

Alex: Music has been such a blessing for me and a comfort during all the times of my life. Listening to a live band together is one of the most magical things and I’ll appreciate it that much more once COVID is over! 

Dan: Just want everyone to support live music, venues which were affected as a result of COVID and support the ongoing vaccination effort so we can all return to normal life as soon as possible.

—End—

Here are a couple of their awesome videos:

Interview with UK musician Andrew Ford of Inner Pieces

Interviews
Andrew Ford of Inner Pieces
Photo Credit: Andrew Ford/Inner Pieces

By Monica Ng

Instagram (and other social media) is a very powerful tool in connecting the world.  As you may already know, I’m very passionate about music and always looking for new musical experiences.  I’ve been searching for ear-pleasing meditation/yoga music for a long time.  I’ve spent hours listening to different music on iTunes and YouTube, trying to find the “perfect” meditation/relaxation music, but I only managed to add three songs to my playlist. I had trouble finding music that I found peaceful enough to trust closing my eyes. Often, I find that the pieces have these annoying isolated chiming sounds (ping!) or the sound of water running (which I hate). I would never have imagined that I’d find my perfect meditation/relaxation music from the United Kingdom (UK).  I was admiring art from one of the art curators I follow on IG, then clicked on the artist’s profile, then the artist had a musician playing a piece in front of her painting, then I clicked on the musician’s profile and somehow got to Inner Pieces. It’s amazing where a few clicks can take you.

Though, my focus is on interviewing Canadian musicians, I’m really happy to make a special exception for Inner Pieces.

Contact

IG: @inner_pieces_music

Facebook: innerpieces1

www.innerpieces.co.uk

EXCITING NEW SINGLE RELEASE: “MOTION” on MARCH 5, 2021. A collaboration with James Oram.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ford/Inner Pieces

Inner Pieces’ Music

The Calling, Feat. Inner Pieces by Sean Tinnion – single (2021)

Breathless – single (2020)

Rains, Pt. 2 – single (2020)

Space – single (2020)

Within – album (2016)

One – album (2013)

About

Andrew Ford is the talent behind Inner Pieces. Based in Bristol in the United Kingdom, Andrew composes music, collaborates with other musicians and runs music meditation/yoga sessions. He plays the Hang, RAV drum, Native American style flute, Sansula and the piano.

The story behind his project “Inner Pieces” is an inspirational one. It was created out of Andrew’s personal journey of metaphorically putting pieces of himself back together in light of Scoliosis – a rare genetic condition where the spine twists and curves, his experience with hearing loss and Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and respiratory failure. 

Interview

Me: Andrew, I am so grateful for your music and a chance to interview someone so special. BTW- I love your accent! Through your music, I literally found the peace that I’ve been looking for.  Your sounds are so beautiful, smooth and peaceful.  For so long, I’ve been feeling so claustrophobic and cluttered in my environment (too much stuff mainly). I’ve put off any action to fix this because life is too busy, but after listening to your music for a few days, I was driving and suddenly knew that I have a mission to accomplish – declutter and turn my room into a “zen” space, where I can truly relax and calm myself. 

I’ve never met you before, but your energy and vibe translate into your music. Where do you get your inspiration from? When did you first set your hands on those unique instruments that you play? And where do you even buy them?

Andrew: Hi Monica, thank you so much for inviting me to take part in this interview. I am really pleased that you have managed to find some peace from my music and I can totally relate to the cluttered environment! (Note to self, I must empty those two boxes in the cupboard from when I first moved in 2 years ago…)

Hmm, I guess it was the Hang that inspired me to start Inner Pieces. Late one night playing the Hang I felt this strong urge to somehow use my musical abilities to help people and to share these beautiful instruments with those who might not normally get to hear them.

So I did some research and then I started volunteering once a week at a Children’s Hospice playing relaxing music to the children and nurses. In fact a lot of the musical ideas and melodies for my previous album ‘Within’ spontaneously developed while improvising at the hospice. It was such a privilege, and at times heartbreaking to be able to play my music to these children. The work they do at the hospice is truly amazing. 

But yes, it’s hard to pin down exactly where I get my inspiration from. Often I will just be improvising and experimenting and I will stumble upon a melody that wants to be fully realized. Sometimes it happens quickly, but sometimes it is a long drawn out affair filled with doubts and trepidation as it was when I composed ‘Breathless’.

It was July 2012 when I picked up the Hang. The Hang was invented in the year 2000 so its a very new instrument and not so easy to get hold of. Over a space of a year I wrote a couple of letters to PANArt, the creators of the Hang and they eventually invited me out to Switzerland to choose my instrument! It was such an amazing experience meeting the makers and trying out all the different Hanghang (plural of Hang) in their workshop! I must have played around 70 different instruments and they were all slightly different. In the end, the one I chose seemed to come to life more than the others I played. 

I think I picked up my first Native American style flute from Ebay at around a similar time, but several years later I met David Cartwright from Second Voice Flutes who made me a beautiful drone flute and gifted me a flute specially made to fit with the tuning of the Hang. 

The Sansula and RAV drum were later additions to my collection of instruments. The Sansula I stumbled upon in a little shop in Amsterdam and the RAV I discovered on YouTube.  

Me: That’s an incredible gift from David Cartwright. And lol, who would have known that the plural of Hang is Hanghang! I like how you identify the different instruments played in each piece on your IG posts. It’s a great way to learn about them and the sounds they make. I can’t play instruments, so I’m really curious how you learned to play them. Did you learn on your own or through formal lessons? And were they hard to learn?

Andrew: One great thing about these instruments is that they are very accessible to play and don’t require years of training. The Hang, RAV and Sansula are made in such a way that it’s not really possible to play a wrong note. They lend themselves very well to improvising, as the instruments only have 7 or 8 notes which have been chosen to produce a certain mood. The Native American style flute is also quite simple to play, as it is tuned to a 5 note pentatonic scale which is very pleasing. However, like all things, these instruments do benefit from practice but you can be creating beautiful sounds in a matter of minutes. 

I learned to play mainly just by experimentation and listening to others. With these instruments there is not really an absolutely “correct” way of playing them. A lot of Hang players I saw would use the sides of their thumbs or their palms hitting it like a drum. But I found I didn’t really like the slap sound of metal so much, so I started playing with my fingertips to get a softer sound.     

Me: Needless to say, the way you play these instruments is incredible. I would just hold and stare at them with no clue where to begin.

Congratulations! You’re about to release “Motion” – a collaboration single with musician James Oram.  I love the beautiful simplicity of your cover. What is the significance of the title “Motion” and what was the inspiration for the single?

Andrew: Thank you, I am really excited about releasing “Motion”. It’s quite different to anything either of us have released before. This is my first collaboration with James Oram and the track is definitely a little more energetic than the stuff I usually create. 

It came about when I posted a little clip to Instagram of a rhythmical groove idea I came up with on the Hang. There wasn’t much to it but there was definitely something in it that required further exploration. James had seen it, and then sent me a recording on WhatsApp of him jamming along to it on the piano. It sounded great and took the groove into a totally new direction that I never would have taken it to on my own. 

Because of the lockdown restrictions, we sent some ideas back and forth over the internet and had a couple of jams in the garden. I think it took us around 6 months to fully craft and record the track. 

As is usually the case for me, the title of the track came much later. The track felt like it was going somewhere. In my mind, it felt like travelling through space and passing different planets in the solar system. And the piano definitely added to the feeling of motion with its cascading melodies. “Motion” seemed like a good fit.  

Me: I can’t wait to hear Motion. I listened to some of James’ music as well and he is very impressive. To get to know people better, I always like to ask musicians who are their top 3 favourite musicians. Who are yours?

Andrew: Ah, this is always a difficult question. I guess I’d have to include Beethoven for the sheer breadth of emotion in his piano works, Manu Delago for his creativity and Hang playing and maybe Nitin Sawney for blending Indian classical music with western contemporary styles. But there are many more, Bob Marley, Chopin, Thievery Corporation, anything unique and interesting really. 

Me: Very interesting. I haven’t heard of a few of those artists…I’ll have to take a listen. Because of the COVID pandemic, the world has been an absolutely crazy place for about a year now. I enjoyed a live concert the day before the lockdown here in Ontario and have only been watching online concerts since then. How has COVID affected your day-to-day life and music?

Andrew: Yeah its been quite a ride this past year. I make a living teaching piano so this all stopped very suddenly. But thankfully I was able to transition most of my students online which I am really grateful for. Thank god for the internet! But it has actually given me a chance to slow down and dedicate more time to my creative projects which has been really great. I don’t think I would have released as much music last year if it wasn’t for lockdown. It has definitely made me reassess my priorities.

The biggest thing I miss are the gigs! I have done a few Facebook live gigs which have been really fun, but it is an odd experience performing in my living room. You get the interactive comments and stuff but it’s not quite the same as looking people in the eye and talking to them in between tracks.    

Me: Yes, the common theme with musicians playing via live streams seems to be the oddity of performing in a non-human interactive environment. I can tell from your IG posts that you have quite the talent for photography and videography. How did you develop these interests? And are there any other interests that you have?

Andrew: I guess I’m a bit of a control freak, so I like to do everything myself. I always enjoyed taking photos but videography came about through necessity and lack of money. These days, music is becoming much more visual so it’s vital to attach music to video wherever possible. 

That’s actually been another benefit to lockdown life. Its given me so much more time to watch 100’s of hours of YouTube tutorials learning different photography techniques. Last year I did a ‘Photo a Week’ project where I had to take a photo every week for a whole year. I didn’t expect to be confined to my house for most of it so it forced me to get as creative as possible! I really feel I’ve stepped up my game this last year. I am however really looking forward to going out and about with my camera a lot more!

Other than that, I enjoy going to gigs and watching bands, and seeing films. 

Me: Hopefully, you’re sharing your “Photo a Week” collection somewhere. I’d like to check it out. You seem to be really in-tune with your inner-self. Since you’re involved in guiding meditation/yoga sessions, can you give a few recommendations to those wanting to try meditation?

Andrew: Yes, I do try. I go through phases of meditating a lot and then sometimes not at all. Before the lockdown my partner and I would often meditate at the Buddhist centre here in Bristol, which I really miss. During lockdown I have found it much harder, but recently I have got back into a daily meditation routine as I came to realize I was neglecting my self-care. 

I guess my advice to those wanting to start, is to try and set aside 5 minutes a day at first. This is what I am currently doing. Because we are all very busy and there’s always so many distractions. But there’s really no excuse to not be able to find 5 minutes somewhere in the day! 

I use an app called Insight Timer which is free and has lots of different guided meditations. However I use it just to time my meditations as you can set your own meditation length and it will begin and end the session with a chime from a Tibetan Bell. For me, focusing on the sensation of breath is my favourite type of meditation, but there are many different techniques out there.  

With meditation, the effects are cumulative, so little and often is a good way to start. 

Me: So true – there’s no excuse to NOT find five minutes a day to calm your mind and body.

I was reading your blog on your website about Scoliosis. You’re very open about your traumatic physical, mental and emotional experiences relating to the condition, as well as the metal rod in your spine. What gave you the confidence to share your personal story with the world?

Andrew: This has been quite a long journey. I spent most of my life trying to hide the curvature of my spine from the world and I never spoke about my worries and anxieties growing up. I was an anxious child. I guess this goes hand in hand with meditation, as I have been on a quest for self-discovery and psychological healing for quite some time. At some point I realized that to really heal I would have to shine a light into the shadows. 

In Jungian theory it states that there is a lot of energy tied up in the shadows (I’m paraphrasing badly here). For me I can see that it took up an awful lot of my resources pretending that there was nothing wrong. Trying to hide my body with more clothes than necessary during the summer months for instance. So these days I am trying to embrace it and accept my body’s asymmetry. My hope is that my writing can inspire others to fully embrace and heal themselves too. I still have a long way to go, but I feel a lot lighter and happier than I used to be. 

Me: I never thought about the concept of energy being tied up in the shadows before, but I can see that it’s true. I go through phases where dark thoughts consume me and drain my mental energies. I’m thankful for my writing because it helps me to re-channel the negativity onto the paper or screen. On your blog, you also wrote in detail about your experience with hearing loss and Tinnitus. Normally, the thought of losing ones’ hearing and ringing in the ears is scary enough, but I would imagine that it’s even scarier for a musician. You mentioned that you took precautions by wearing ear protection when playing electronic music in the past and being around loud music, but it wasn’t enough.  You also wrote that Tinnitus could be more of a mental issue than a physical problem. What are your struggles with hearing loss and Tinnitus, with respect to music?

Andrew: Yeah that was quite a transformative time. It completely changed the direction of my life with music. But in the end it definitely helped change my life for the better. 

I had lost a fairly substantial amount of hearing from gigging and working in noisy environments for many years, but my hearing tests showed me that my hearing had stabilized despite the increasing volume of the ringing in my ears. With the help of a Tinnitus therapist I was able to see that a large part of my negative experience with Tinnitus was caused by my mind and the way that I think. I went through a lot Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to eventually rewrite some of my problem neural pathways. The Tinnitus is still there, but it doesn’t affect me so much anymore. Most of the time I don’t really notice it, which is quite a relief as when it was at its loudest I really didn’t know how I would cope.

But yeah, I ended up quitting all the music I was doing at the time and I was in a really low place. I slowly began piecing things back together and it was around that time that I picked up my Hang from Switzerland. The music I am making today feels truer to my inner self and more fulfilling than anything I was making before. If I hadn’t had all the problems with my hearing, I don’t think I’d be making the music I am today. 

Me: I love the visual and emotional aspect of piecing yourself back together. That’s so inspiration. You already went through so much, then you were recently diagnosed with respiratory failure. That’s crazy! My heart breaks for you. But you’re so tough and keep fighting back.

I already loved your song “Breathless”, but appreciate it even more after I learned the story behind it. You were literally breathless and in need of a ventilating machine for sleeping. Does this condition affect your flute playing?

Andrew: This was definitely one of my biggest challenges to date, but I do want to make clear that it was not as extreme as it sounds. Because of the Scoliosis my lungs are restricted somewhat and therefore at night when my body relaxes, I don’t take in quite enough oxygen. It had been creeping up on me for many years and it just meant I was becoming increasingly groggy in the morning with headaches that would persist for the whole day. It is technically respiratory failure as my lungs are not exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide as well as they should, but not in an immediately life threatening sense like it can be in more extreme cases. I now use a ventilator every night to keep my oxygen and CO2 levels in check while I sleep.

Unfortunately this does affect my flute playing as my lung capacity is greatly reduced so I am unable to sustain notes for as long as I’d like. But it doesn’t stop me being creative and expressing myself with the flute. 

Composing “Breathless” was a rather cathartic experience and it really helped me to channel a lot of  difficult emotions. I think it’s probably the most honest piece of music I have ever created. 

Me: Andrew, you’ve proven that even though life can throw a bunch of crap, beauty (your music) can stem from it – much like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

I’m really looking forward to your new collaboration single and new music from you. Thank you so much for being you and agreeing to this interview. Everyone, make the meditative sounds of Inner Pieces part of your lives and channel your inner peace…Om….

Andrew, do you have anything else that you wish to share?

Andrew: Thank you so much Monica. It has been really awesome connecting with you over the last couple of weeks. 

—End—

Here’s are a few of my favourite songs:

Interview with author, Sharon Rampersad

Interviews
Sharon Rampersad
Photo credit: Sharon Rampersad

By Monica Ng

Social media is a great way to re-connect with people from the past. I was recently chatting with my elementary school classmate, Sharon through FB or IG (can’t remember which). Always the curious person – I love finding out what my classmates have been up to. Sharon told me that she was working hard to finish off her book since she had more time – thanks to COVID.

Interview

Me: It’s been great catching up with you. Time has really flown by since elementary school. But it sounds like you’ve been busy all these years – working, exercising, being a mom and most importantly – improving and trying to find your true self. You told me that you had time to reflect during this COVID pandemic and pushed yourself to finish your book titled “Finding Yourself and Accepting the Person You Find”.  I’m proud of you for following through and self-publishing your first one.  It’s actually quite a feat, as I read that only a small percentage of people who set out to write a book end up publishing it – so congratulations! 

Since I’m working on my own novel, I know how much hard work and editing goes into the process. As my friend, Tony Wong, writer for the Toronto Star says about his deadlines, “If you can sleep on it, take a day off and come back to the work. It always pays to bake the goods a little more”. Basically, editing, removing yourself from your work and editing some more is key. It may be hard to believe, but I can still find typos in my manuscript though I’ve been at it for about 2 ½ years. That being said, life is busy enough for me with my regular day-to-day stuff – never mind trying to pursue a passion for writing and sharing on the side.  What inspired you to write your book about the complicated world of dating and self-empowerment and what gave you that “final” push to complete your book?

Sharon: I noticed that I had recurring conversations with people about dating and self-empowerment. Often we beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel bad about the choices we’ve made. I’ve read many self-help books that I found inspiring and helpful, so I decided that I wanted to write one to help others in the same way. I wanted my book to be easy to absorb and relatable.

I think that many of us go through similar experiences in life, some of which are embarrassing to admit to – never mind hard to talk about.  I think that some of my insights are if nothing else – something to reflect on.  I’m sure there are people who are much more “together” than I am, but still there could be something in my book that can be helpful to them. 

The final push toward the publication of my book was the desire to accomplish what I set out to do. The other part of the push was knowing that I was going beyond my comfort zone.  Comfort is the death of ambition.  From past experience, I know that it can take me some time to get there, but eventually I push past my fears and insecurities and just go for it.  I acknowledge my fears and then ignore them.

Me: The main thing that stood out to me about your book is your honesty about your struggles to make it as a single mom and your bold attempt to navigate the murky waters of dating. In your book, you mention that by sharing your stories, you hope for others (especially women) to realize that there is hope at the end of the dark tunnel. What do you think is the most important message in your book?

Sharon: Truthfully, I think they are all important.  But if I had to choose, I think the most important thing would be learning to love yourself.  It’s about learning to talk to yourself kindly and with love.  I think this attitude builds a strong foundation for everything else. We all make mistakes and we all do things that we wish we hadn’t, but it’s ok to forgive yourself .  You just need to promise yourself that you won’t make the same mistake again and proceed with a new awareness. 

And I also think it’s important, especially when things are bad, that even if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Just keep doing what you’re doing and eventually the Universe will show you some dividends.  Sometimes it may take a while for things to happen, but like most things in life, time and consistency will pay off.

Also, the reasons behind pushing yourself forward are also really important.  It’s easy to let yourself spin out of control or get sucked into a negative mindset when you aren’t focused.

See?  You tried to make me choose and still I couldn’t…lol.

Me: I’ve done my fair share of dating in my life, but if I learned nothing else from my past relationships – I believe that you should do whatever comes naturally to you. If you want to send a text message to a guy/gal you’re interested in – just do it. I don’t particularly agree that people need to filter what they say or the frequency of their messages. I think that in general, if a person is truly interested in you, they should be happy to hear from you and not be afraid of what you have to say. If that person isn’t mature enough to handle you, then they don’t deserve you. In your book, you discuss your fear of “looking like a crazy person” regarding checking out someone’s social media account when the relationship isn’t working out. By placing too much emphasis on what “not” to do in a relationship, do you think that you will drive yourself crazy instead of just looking crazy?

Sharon: I do what comes naturally, but I also observe the reaction I get from the other person when I am myself.  We can choose the terms of the relationships that we have.  I’m no dating expert, but I do know how taxing a bad relationship can be on your self-esteem.  I’m not trying to say the other person is malicious, but as you get older, you know how you want to be treated and the kind of relationship that you want to have. For example, at some point you should get the hint that you’re not a priority in someone’s life if you’re constantly making plans with them and they’re always busy. People won’t tell you the truth most of the time, but they will show you the truth through their actions.  Nobody owes anyone anything, but we owe it to ourselves to be aware of how our attempts at making a connection are received and choose whether or not we want to accept it. If you start to feel bad about yourself or have feelings of insecurity in a relationship, it’s important to evaluate the situation to determine if it’s worth the pursuit.

Me: Let’s chat about Chapter 3 – Positivity. I agree that a glass that is half-full is way more appealing than one that is half-empty.

In this chapter, you share five points:

  1. “Being positive is a choice.”
  2. “Rid yourself of negativity.”
  3. “If you don’t see the positive in a situation, look for it.”
  4. “Reinforce positivity in yourself.”
  5. “Share positivity with others.”

I think that these points are self-explanatory, however, what would you suggest to someone who feels “stuck” in their situation and can’t find anything positive about it?

Sharon: I remember what that feels like.  When you feel like you have no way out.  You don’t know what to do or how to move forward.  What I have learned is that everything in life takes time, whether it be learning a new skill or talent, losing weight or finding a partner.  Nothing happens overnight.

Thinking back to the time I felt really stuck and literally had no way out, I started taking steps towards getting myself “un-stuck”.  You can have small victories until you’re ready to take the leap.  For example, if you are trying to get out of a bad living situation, you can start taking steps towards your liberation by saving money, acquiring furniture or whatever little things you can do.  I once heard on a YouTube video, “Do what you can with what you have available to you.”  That just got stuck in my head.  So really, we’re never ‘stuck’ – it’s a state of mind rather than a barrier. There is always something we can do.  The challenge is taking actions toward the unknown.  What I’ve learned is that change will happen when misery outweighs comfort.  Sometimes we just need to be more proactive and take control of ourselves and our situation.

Me: In Chapter 5 – Setting Goals, you wrote “If you’re not happy with something do something to change it or accept it.” I definitely agree with you. I hear a lot of complaints from people about their lives, but some do nothing to change it. Basically, if you don’t plan to change, then you may as well accept your situation right? How do you think setting goals can help someone is this predicament and push them to make changes?

Sharon: Change can be difficult, and sometimes overwhelming.  Setting goals can help remove those feelings because you’ve broken the end goal down into smaller, more manageable, and much less intimidating tasks. For example, wanting to lose 30 lbs.  Right there, if you have no plan and no goals – where do you start?  Breaking the goals down can help you reach them, like adjusting your eating habits, exercising more, exploring the idea of hiring a personal trainer, etc.  These things may not be the same as losing 30 lbs, but will contribute toward your goal. 

If you start taking consistent steps in the direction of where you want to go, you can feel good to be moving in that direction until you start to see results.  I tried to lose weight for years, and nothing ever really worked until I started setting smaller goals.  Evaluating all aspects of my life helped me to improve my diet, change my attitude, and develop a consistent routine in my life.  The key is consistency and choosing to keep your promises to yourself. 

Me: You explore the concept of self-love in Chapter 6. One suggestion that you have is to “talk to yourself like you would talk to someone that you love.” How do you think this slight shift can empower someone?

Sharon: It makes a world of difference because it’s rare that someone judges the people they love, as harshly as they judge themselves.  Most of us don’t think about it, but the hurtful things we would never say to a friend, we don’t think twice about saying to ourselves. 

At the end of the day, we are each stuck with ourselves forever.  If you don’t like who you are, then maybe you should start working towards becoming who you want to be. Start speaking to yourself with encouragement instead.  This would be a healthier and more productive approach.  For example, instead of wasting time berating myself for a mistake, I’ll forgive myself for being human.

My body, mind and life are mine alone, so if I don’t like something about them – I have the power to make a change.  Be happy with yourself and look at everything you have accomplished as well as what you’re capable of.  That way you’ll treat yourself with love and respect.  Learn to speak to yourself in a way that is self-soothing – just like how we teach our children to self-soothe.

Me: Now that you have one book under your belt, any plans for a follow-up book?

Sharon: I would like to.  I have tried to keep myself busy this year and have other artistic endeavors that I’m working on right now, but it is definitely a possibility for the future.  I’m still thinking about it and collecting content, but I will definitely let you know when I do. 

Me: Sharon, thanks for your time and insight. I wish you the best of success with your book!

If you’re interested in supporting Sharon by purchasing her book, you can order online on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-yourself-and-accepting-the-person-you-find-sharon-rampersad/1137355280?ean=9781728364223