Self Doubt

More Confessions of a 54-year-old Rocker

by Miriam Queensen

I took up drumming at age 50 (Confessions of a 54-year-old Rocker) and I love every minute of playing all kinds of music. I also sing backup.

Singing backup vocals from the drum kit has its own challenges: remembering lyrics while making complicated rhythms, listening carefully to the lead singer, and not knocking out my teeth when I get close to the mic.

People at “Rock Camp for Dads” (where I have most of my music adventures) tell me I do a good job with vocals. I always enjoy singing, mostly in my car, but I’m nervous singing in public unless I can hide in the harmonies behind the lead singer and musicians.

Somehow I got it in my head that I wanted to stand out in front, singing backup vocals only, no longer hiding behind the cymbals that separate me from the audience.

Did I want more attention? Maybe.

Playing the drums is noisy, but not super visible. But being up front means worrying about all kinds of new things: what to wear, what to do with my hands, remembering lots of lyrics, and of course – learning how to sing out loud and strong!

Memorizing the lyrics and listening to the songs a million times to figure out the backup lines is not the hardest part. My band for this singing experiment is performing the songs of George Michael, which I’ve always loved, so that’s not too tough.

Getting over my anxiety about singing in public is a lot harder. Rehearsals aren’t too bad, since I know the nice folks in the band and everyone is really supportive.

I do have to work on increasing my volume and learning to move a bit and let loose. It helps that I have a tambourine – it gives my hands something to do!

But I’m constantly worrying about everybody looking at me. Part of me wants that attention, but part of me is afraid to get it. (Am I alone in this?)

My confidence about my appearance has never been strong, and I wish that getting older meant overcoming that insecurity. I’m happy I found a dress that looks pretty good on me and suits the occasion. 

However, stepping up on the stage, I’m self-conscious standing up front, knowing that everybody is looking at me AND listening to me.

My glasses purposely left in my purse, I attempt to avoid thinking about everyone watching me.

So I step up on stage, at first busying myself with setting my water bottle in the mic stand, adjusting the mic height, smiling nervously at my fellow singers and musicians.

Then I dare turn and look out at the crowd in the bar. 

The audience is a big blur! I’m unaware of individuals staring at me, although I can hear them and know they’re out there. Not wearing my glasses feels weird though, making the entire experience seem unreal. It’s like I’m on cold medicine; I feel a little out of it. Next time maybe I’ll be brave and keep the glasses on.

I enjoy singing harmony with other people, and I love the feeling of hearing our voices together. That’s when I’m most confident.

Reminding myself to keep smiling and looking out at the blurry crowd, I suddenly know it’s time for my solo!

Automatic pilot is my friend, but only to some extent -- I hear myself flub an entire line of lyrics, substituting the words from a different part of the song. Hopefully nobody outside of the band notices.

I get through it! When we start singing the last song together, I finally feel a surge of relief and sense of accomplishment.

Miriam (in red) Takes a Chance & Fulfills a Dream (Video by

When I watch the video after the gig is over, it’s not terrible. I don’t sound too bad in some places, though I’m not crazy about how I sound in others. The important thing is that I appear to be fully engaged in the moment. I smile, I look at the other singers, I play my tambourine, I move around. 

My biggest fear was that I would stand there frozen like a block of ice. That didn’t happen!  So while I may not be either Gwen Stefani or Janis Joplin, at least I faced my fear and tried it!

I did something scary and new! That’s what life is all about. Do the things you want to do, while you still can. If not now, when?


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I'm Lost (& the Magic Fairies are Angered)

by Cindy Moy (founder of Hot Flash Sisters)

There’s supposed to be a video on the HFS Facebook page of blogger Miriam Queensen playing the drums during her band’s recent performance. Don’t bother looking for it. Getting the video clip for the page was my job and I didn’t arrive in time.

I wish I could give you a great and valid reason for this but I can’t. I was late because when I walked into the bedroom to get ready I had what I can only describe as ‘A Moment.’

A moment when I sat down and decided to not leave. Ever.

Not a panic attack or an anxiety attack. Simply a moment. The world could go on out there while I stayed in my bedroom.

Then I pulled myself together and drove to see Miriam. I’d missed the band’s set and there would be no video but she would be hanging out watching other bands and I wanted to hang out with Miriam, whom I’ve known for more than a decade.

When I told her about The Moment she didn’t judge or chastise me.

Instead she said something that made me laugh out loud: “You always seem like you have it all together.”

Her comment reminded me of a conversation I’d had with my friend (and HFS blogger) Katrina Woznicki a couple of weeks earlier. Katrina and I are both trying to help teen daughters navigate in a social media obsessed culture.

We talked about how people have two selves: the real self and the possible self (the person they want to be), and how they show the world the possible self on social media. Except other people think the possible self shown on social media is the person their friend is all the time—the real self.

Katrina talked about the importance of showing her real self more on social media as an example to her daughter—words that came back to me while talking with Miriam.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I told Miriam. “I’m barely getting through each day an hour at a time. But next month I’ll get video of your band doing the George Michael set. I promise.”

Don’t bother looking for a video of Miriam’s band doing the George Michael set on the HFS Facebook page. I didn’t get it. Granted, I’d just had minor surgery and was taking narcotic pain medication but still, it was a broken promise.

My possible self doesn’t break promises. My possible self—the one I show on Facebook or sitting in church or even when I run into people at the grocery store—is nothing like my real self.

Do we want to show people our real selves? As my grandmother used to say, ‘Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.’

There’s no need to run around telling everyone our problems—people have enough problems of their own and don’t want to hear about ours.

But it’s also ridiculous to pretend that we have no problems—that our marriages are always happy, our children are brilliant and popular, our friendships are all intact and our homes are spotless and company-ready.

Here’s a few unvarnished truths about my real self:

I have two therapists. (Don't you feel better already?) One to help me get my act together after being out of the professional world for a number of years and one to help me navigate what I'll simply call 'personal muck.'

I’m estranged from half my family.

One of the best moms I know once told me to figure out which page my kids are on and meet them there. I have no idea which page my teenage daughter is on. I don’t even know which book she’s in. Hell, I don’t even have a map to the library she’s at.

My birth mother refused to meet me, stating she prefers to think of me as dead.

And things get worse from there.

Despite that, life is good. The kids are healthy and amazing and refuse my offers to get them therapists of their own to counter any damage I'm convinced I'm doing. (See 'Family History'^^)

My sister is my best friend and my other friends are like sisters. (Except the men, who are now the Frostbite Bros.)

There’s a roof over our heads, food on the table and clean water coming out of the tap. Those 3 things alone are more material riches than most have in the world.

I may not know what I’m doing but I’m not complaining.

Life hands us enough challenges—let’s cut each other and ourselves some slack, shall we? Less judging, more supporting.

Let’s be real, Sisters. The next time you see me post, say, a video of cathedral bells while visiting Newcastle upon Tyne and think that I--as my friend Rebecca recently said to me--'live an incredibly rich and intellectually fulfilling life,' [insert hysterical laughter here] please remember that I managed to get lost while following the sound of those bells.

And while using the map app to get back to my hotel I somehow managed to anger the magic fairies that live in my phone and was slapped with a $25 roaming charge. Flagging a taxi to drive me back would have cost me the equivalent of about $5.

Seriously...No. Clue. What. I'm. Doing. But that's not going to stop me from moving forward.


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