This is a story about, Lisanne.
A Singer. Composer/Arranger. Creator. Artist. Teacher.
Written and carefully crafted, with an understanding that the words from her heart are worth sharing as they might fill another with reason or hope as to why this journey is worth fighting. As to why, sometimes, it takes hitting rock bottom to recognize the beauty in the every day, the love from family, the support of friends, the place you live, and the very real emotions and pain that you feel.
It takes a courageous heart, a strong heart, and a vulnerable heart, to recognize when the truth that we're looking for already exists within us. That our ideas, turned creative endeavors, turned passions, turned the way in which we express who we are, don't come easy, and in order to keep them alive, we must work our very hardest. We must give it everything we've got to move past the pain, past the shaking hands, the blurry vision, and the ever-nauseating feeling in the pit of our stomach.
We may fall, but when we do, we will always, always get back up. Lisanne brings this to light in this lovingly written piece, where she shares her lowest of lows, most treasured memories, and exactly what it takes to keep her mind alive with the hopes and dreams that drive her to create magic.
This is her story...
This is it, this is my moment. This is everything I’ve worked for, every single day, for four whole years. I look around, utterly surprised at everyone who showed up tonight. Friends, family, fellow students, my students, vague acquaintances… why are they all here? I don’t even remember the last time I've been a good friend, daughter, sister, colleague, or teacher to anyone. I was way too caught up in planning this very event. I haven’t slept in weeks. My entire body is trembling. I’m nauseous, my head is throbbing, my ears are ringing and my vision’s blurry. Any moment now I could fall off this stage and ruin the night in an instant.
It’s over, and my teacher is standing next to me, enthusiastically informing the crowd about the conversation we just had. I graduated. They thoroughly enjoyed the show and loved my compositions. It could’ve been much better though, I silently add. She looks at me and jokes about my facial expression. "It’s never good enough for her, is it?” They all laugh and exchange nods of recognition. I should be over the moon right now. I’ve heard from my peers that graduation night would be the best night of my life. Truth is, I’m completely exhausted. I’m in pain. I’m anxious. What was supposed to be a moment of pride, relief and celebration is starting to feel a lot more like rock bottom to me. Somewhere in the back of my mind I realize this is a turning point. It has to be. I can’t go on like this any longer, I just can’t.
"I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways. I'll know my name as it's called again." Mumford & Sons - The Cave
A few weeks after this I truly collapsed, and the search for a diagnosis began. Looking back, I realize I’ve been sick for a long time already. Studying vocals whilst having the immune system of an average 85-year-old has been a challenge, to say the least. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve ruined a performance because my vocal chords weren’t up for it. The number of times I had to cancel concerts because I had picked up yet another untimely infection. The number of times I felt defeated after exams, because the music I was hearing in my mind wasn’t the music coming out my mouth. Slowly but surely I started to identify less with being a singer and more with being a composer. Not because I didn’t want to be singer anymore, but because my body didn’t allow me to be one 90% of the time. I gave up on creating music from the heart and started approaching it from a theoretical angle. If only I'd compose the most complicated, refined and ingenious music, people would surely appreciate it and look past the fact that the girl performing it was about to fall apart. It took actually falling apart for me to realize I was wrong all along. I was wrong for giving up on my musical heart and I was wrong for pushing myself past my limit.
"Your eyes must do some raining if you're ever going to grow. But when crying doesn't help and you can't compose yourself, it’s best to compose a poem. An honest verse of longing or a simple song of hope.” Bright Eyes - Bowl of Oranges
This illness has forced me to go back to basics; enjoying time with the people I love, finding out what little things in life fill my heart with joy, and working compassionately on healing my body following years of damaging it. In a way it’s also a humbling experience, through which I’m learning a lot about myself. These types of circumstances bring out a raw and uncompromising truth within us, a truth we cannot or do not want to see while we’re running around trying our best to fit into modern society. It’s a little ironic that I’ve finally learned what every single teacher has been trying to tell me during my studies: Let Go.
"It’s times like these you learn to live again, it’s times like these you learn to love again” Foo Fighters - Times Like These
I have embraced where I am at the moment but that doesn't mean I don't still long for my health back. The staying up past 10pm kind of health. The not looking like a ghost without putting on five layers of make-up kind of health. The running to the bus stop without fainting kind of health. The kid that should be self-evident in one's early twenties. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?" It does indeed,, Ms. Joni Mitchell, and if the freedom of living in a body you can rely on ever finds its way back to me, I won't take it for granted again. Promised.
"I got a pocket, got no pill. If fear hasn’t killed me yet, then nothing will. All the suffering and all the pain, never left a name in. I’m in the war of my life, at the door of my life, out of time and there’s nowhere to run. I’m in the war of my life, at the core of my life, got no choice but to fight until it’s done.” John Mayer - War of My Life
What makes me look up instead of back is the fact that I don’t have to go it alone. I have a veritable army of family (including the world’s best parents), friends, doctors, and fellow chronic warriors by my side, whose fierceness should not be underestimated. Together we will make these little buggers regret they ever had the nerve to enter my bloodstream in the first place. It might take 6 months. It might take 6 years. It might take a lot more from me than I have right now. But boy, do I fully intend to keep on keeping on while I’m at it. Eventually, we will win this war. All of us. Together.
"Thought the mountains would crumble and the rivers would bend, but I thought all wrong, the world did not end. The maps will just have to stay the same for a while. Didn’t even need therapy to rehabilitate my smile”. Regina Spektor - Rejazz
Continued to be inspired by Lisanne, all the magic she creates and the adventures that she takes by following her on Instagram at, @lily_jaco.