Over 50 & Thriving Series Over 50s Lifestyle

Learning to be myself

December 5, 2018
Learning to be myself

Have you learned to be yourself?   Are you the person you dreamed you would be?

My Guest this week in the Over 50 & Thriving Series, discusses how she has overcome her fears and found enjoyment in life after 50.  I have only recently met Fil Campbell, and I believe is our first guest in the series who is a recording artist!  Fil is a singer and you can connect with her and read about her career in the links to her website and social media at the end of her post.

Learning to be myself

I was a bit overwhelmed at first when Sue asked me to take part in her Thriving Over 50 series, but as I pondered over what to write about, I’m very grateful for the challenge, as it has brought me to a point of realisation that something I’d been waiting to happen in my life is finally in place. 

I’m a singer – always have been.   It was never a career choice, it was just what I did.   As a child I was going to at first be Shirley Temple and then be Judy Garland when I grew up.  So sure was I that all I had to do was open my mouth, let people hear me and someone would whisk me off to the land of Oz 🙂  It never occurred to me that there was work involved in making any of that happen. 

At school I had a near spiritual experience when singing at assembly one morning;  this overpowering feeling of connection to the universe came over me along with such an intense feeling of joy that I felt that my voice was my prayer.  The nuns weren’t too impressed though when I decided that I no longer wanted to go to Religion Class or mass after that – to me it was clear, I had it all sorted! 

But around the same time I was very badly bullied – at first by a music teacher and then by a group of my classmates who were annoyed that I had won some prize that they thought their friend should have won.   The two incidents devastated me and I have spent my life since trying to deal with it. 

At first I continued singing for a short while; I even studied Music at University for a couple of years.   But I was by then becoming so convinced that I couldn’t sing and that I was a useless musician that I  chickened out of the music degree, graduating with a General Arts degree instead of the Music degree I now greatly regret not having.  I let my band go and after a few years running around the Middle East singing in various covers bands I eventually sold my guitar, my PA, my flute and everything to do with music and stopped entirely. 

But the lure of the music business was so strong and the idea of singing was so deeply implanted in me that I didn’t know what else to be working at.  So I ended up working around the music business, as a promoter, a band manager, a publicist and even as a Radio Presenter for several years.  I was torturing myself working with these people whom I strongly believed I could have done just as good a job as, but I was totally incapable of getting up onto a stage. 

And then enter Tom who became my husband.   He conned me into taking a gig and my brother bought me a little guitar and I went out, did a terrible gig, shook the whole way through it, but at least I got started.  The gigs started to come in, I got a better guitar and was doing some writing and Tom joined me on stage as a percussionist a few years later.

But by this stage I was totally overwhelmed by stage fright – a rabbit caught in the headlights.  At one major festival in Austria where Tom and I were one of the headliners, I was so terrified that I kept my eyes closed for the first half hour of our set, on one hand afraid the audience would disappear and on the other hand afraid that they’d still be there. 

When we got off the stage our friends who had come down from Munich to cheer us on told me to get sorted or give up.  

The thought of giving up was worse than the thought of continuing so I started journalling and doing various therapies and learned how to at least manage the stage fright and carry on, still with the very negative beliefs, but somehow getting on with things.  

And it’s not been all bad.  

We’ve succeeded in making a living in this crazy business.  We’ve made and continue to make, the most amazing friends along the way.    We’ve watched their children grow, got to know the pets when the children moved out and now are on to the grandchildren.   We recorded several CDs with some of the best musicians in Ireland and made a TV documentary series for national TV.  I’ve taught hundreds of young, and not so young, singers, have a lovely community choir and continue to travel widely across Europe, and have even been to America and Australia with our songs.  

I recently turned 60 and in our profession there’s no chance of retiring.  It’s a changing business and we’re never going to have Madonna’s millions now but we play gorgeous small theatres and folk clubs to audiences who are growing older with us.  

And at last I am enjoying myself.  And that was what I was waiting for.  

I always had this idealised image of myself as being contented with what I do, coping with the lulls and enjoying the busy times, unafraid to put myself forward and at last accepting the voice that I have.  

For decades I’ve preached to my students to stop trying to be someone else and work on what they have, but was never quite able to achieve that myself. 

I am still nervous, terrified even and writing this essay has raised my stress levels somewhat:)  

But I think I’m finally the woman I’ve dreamed of being and I’m really looking forward to seeing what I create, with Tom by my side, in the coming years until we’re no longer fit enough to play our instruments or travel.  And by that stage something else will (hopefully) have come along. 

So yes Sue, I do believe I am thriving – thanks for asking me to take part.

Meet Fil Campbell – a life in song

Learning to be myselfFil Campbell has been more than 40 years performing in the folk music arena, travelling the world with her husband, percussionist Tom McFarland, and their unique blend of topical  self penned songs, popular traditional Irish songs from the 1930s and interpretative folksongs from contemporary writers. 

Born in Northern Ireland, in a village that straddles the border with the South of Ireland, Fil’s songs reflect a life growing up through the Troubles and the wicked sense of humour prevalent in such a strife-ridden situation.  She and Tom still live there in a beautiful coastal village at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

In her career to date she has recorded 7 solo CDs, 2 project albums and her latest recording, Together, is the first duo CD with Tom.   She has written and presented documentary films for Irish TV and has presented radio shows for BBC Northern Ireland and for commercial radio.   She has performed all over the world, from Dublin to Dubai, from Belfast to Berlin, from London to San Francisco, from Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Philadelphia to Sydney, Paris and Bilbao.   A singer likened to many and compared to none … she brings her own unique interpretation to any song she approaches.  

Fil is also a voice coach and a choir leader and in the past has worked as a backing vocalist, band manager, concert promoter and festival organiser.

Connect with Fil

Website – www.filcampbell.com

Blog – https://fil-campbell.blogspot.com

You Tube – https://www.youtube.com/user/FilCampbell

Facebook Profile – https://www.facebook.com/fil.campbell.7

Facebook Like Page – https://www.facebook.com/filcampbell/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/filcampbell/

Let’s Keep Sizzling!

If you are Over 50 and would like to contribute to the Over 50 & Thriving Series in 2019, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email at sue@womenlivingwellafter50.com.au and I can provide more details. Click here to catch up on my previous guests in Over 50 & Thriving Series Or you can subscribe here so you never miss a post and receive a FREE Copy of my latest e-book ’10 ways to start Thriving today’! Don’t forget to post your Instagram photos using the hashtag #over50andthriving.

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  • Reply Cathy December 5, 2018 at 19:11

    I am loving this series, Sue. It’s amazing how some discouragement in one area when we are young can pull us off track of something we love. How great for Fil to find people later on who encouraged her singing and she now finds joy in it once again.

  • Reply Jean | Delightful Repast December 5, 2018 at 23:54

    Sue and Fil, this is a post that’s sure to help many people. I’m glad Fil has found a way to overcome stage fright and have a life in music along with her husband. I so enjoyed your beautiful voice on YouTube.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:31

      It’s a great story isn’t it Jean? Many of us sometimes feel fear which can block us from enjoying life. It was so good to read that Fil overcame her stage fright and now is using her beautiful voice to bring joy to others. Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful day. x

  • Reply Nancy Dobbins December 6, 2018 at 05:09

    Sue and Fil,
    This type of sharing is what I love about my new blogging friends and colleagues! Sometimes we just need to experience the journey to become who we were meant to be. I know I’m still not sure who I am and am becoming, but it is inspirational to read about others’ challenges and how they persevered and overcame them.
    Thank you for this…

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 06:02

      Hello Nancy so lovely to meet you and thank you for stopping by. I have subscribed to your website so look forward to connecting with you. I think we are all a WIP but the important part is to keep extending ourselves and discovering each day a little more of who we really are. Have a great weekend! xx

  • Reply Deborah December 6, 2018 at 09:35

    Oh thanks Sue and Fil for sharing this. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have to lay yourself bare in that way. I’m terrible at putting myself out there for praise / criticism – obviously worried it’ll be the latter. I struggle to read my writing in front of others when in groups and can’t seem to find the confidence to submit pieces to websites / magazines… so worried am I that I’ll get rejected. And yet… I do realise it’ll happen. It has to happen and it may have nothing to do with me, my writing or the piece I submit. And I realise I need to just do it and deal with it and hope it becomes easier and know it’s not ‘me’ that’s being rejected or criticised. (Hmmmm… you’ve obviously gotten me thinking!)

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:58

      Hi Deb, I think most of us feel the way you do. Perhaps it was the way society was when we were growing up – it wasn’t the done thing to promote yourself. No one likes rejection but if we don’t try we will never know will we? Keep going and I know that it will happen for you plus believe others when they tell you your strengths or compliment you. I know I’m terrible at accepting compliments but I’m learning to be better at that. Have a great week! xx

  • Reply Debbie December 6, 2018 at 09:36

    Another wonderful post Sue. Thanks for sharing your story with us Fil.

  • Reply Min @ Write of the Middle December 6, 2018 at 11:43

    Wonderful to meet Fil. Thank you Sue! I popped over to YouTube to have a listen to her and LOVED the couple of songs I listened too. Very relaxing listening that I enjoyed a lot and would love to hear more of. I love the combination of Fil and Tom’s voices together – just lovely! Well done to you Fil for facing your fears and conquering them (even though the nerves will probably always be there and that’s ok). #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:56

      Hi Min, Fil has reminded us that we can all overcome our fears and find joy in what we do. Have a great week! xx

  • Reply Joanne Tracey December 6, 2018 at 12:09

    So wonderful to meet you Fil – and even more wonderful to hear you on youtube. This has been a fabulous series, but I have to admit to absolutely loving this story so much. Again, thanks.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:50

      Hi Jo, I’m so pleased you enjoyed Fil’s story and also provided me with feedback about the series. I’ll be continuing in 2019 as there are so many fabulous women out there with inspiring stories to shine the spotlight on. xx

  • Reply Janet Mary Cobb December 6, 2018 at 13:58

    So glad you found your voice! You are an inspiration!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:48

      Hi Janet, Fil is inspiring and reminds us again that we can do anything if we try. Have a beautiful weekend. x

  • Reply Christina Daggett December 6, 2018 at 16:28

    Your story is amazing Fil! You are so brave and inspiring! Congratulations for becoming the person you were always meant to be!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:46

      Fil had a lovely story didn’t she Christina and proves we can do anything if we overcome our fears. xx

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au December 6, 2018 at 18:26

    What an interesting life you’ ve led Fil! Being musical is something I’ve always envied in others – to be able to sing in tune must be amazing! Thanks Sue for finding Fil and sharing her story with us. I’m off to check out her youtube channel and listen to some of her lovely music (anything Irish is lovely IMHO!)

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:45

      Hi Leanne, I agree about being able to sing in Tune, Ethan has finally discovered that Nan really can’t sing LOL:) I love Irish music too, another thing we have in common! Have a great week and hope you bring back the relaxation with you. xx

  • Reply Donna December 6, 2018 at 23:50

    Hi, Fil – It is wonderful to meet you here. What a powerful and inspiring story! I just checked you out on Youtube — your voice is beautiful. I will definitely be listening to more!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:44

      Hi Donna, Fil’s story is one that would resonate with many of us who have tried to overcome our fears. I’m glad you enjoyed her post and her voice. xx

  • Reply Fil December 8, 2018 at 23:37

    Thank you all so much for your lovely comments:) And thanks Sue for asking me to take part. It was an enjoyable experience. All the best. Fil

    • Reply Sue Loncaric December 9, 2018 at 05:39

      Hi Fil, thank you for being my guest and you can see by the many comments that people have been inspired by your story. Have a beautiful week. xx

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