I am a music lover.
One of my favorite things to do is introduce people to my favorite (and lesser-known) singer-songwriters.
Years ago, this practice brought a member of my online community to the rich voice, crushing lyrics, and acoustic brilliance of Noah Kahan.
In the fall, I received a message from this member asking if I was still a fan.
“Yes,” I replied, thinking ‘fan’ was a huge understatement, especially considering I attended Noah's concert the very night before.
I suspected the messenger might be surprised when I told him this, but I was the one who got the surprise.
“Then you saw my son! He’s part of the band.”
When I got over my shock, I realized I didn’t need to ask which member his son was.
Throughout the concert, my friend, Maggie, and I were mesmerized by an unbelievably talented young musician. We’d nicknamed him “Baby Noah” when we learned he shared the same name as the famous lead singer.
The father explained that when this incredible opportunity to join Noah’s tour arose for his son (who had just started college), he felt inexplicable peace because he was already familiar with the artist.
“Because of you, I knew him,” the father wrote.
When I said I hoped to see his son in concert again, I wasn’t expecting it to be so soon. Scott and I went on a road trip a few weeks ago to see ‘the Noahs’ in concert.
Amazingly, the father made a much longer trek to attend the concert with a friend who’d known Baby Noah since he was an actual baby!
Unbeknownst to the musician’s dad, I got to see his face as he watched his child perform on stage.
I knew that look—a beaming pride that spills from the eyes. As a parent, you hope and pray to see your child doing something they love, reaching their dreams, and touching lives with their gift.
Watching this father watch his son share his musical talents with the world made me cry.
There was pain, too.
It wasn’t that I’d hoped to see my own musically gifted child up on stage one day, but never did I imagine her music would come to such an abrupt stop.
From age three to fourteen, Avery’s music filled the house… and then, in the aftermath of a traumatic event, it didn’t.
Trauma can take so much, toppling even the strongest tree with the deepest roots that you never expected to see come down.
This gaping hole, where music once lived in our lives, shook me.
Grief therapist, Jenni Brennan, helped me understand why the impact has been so devastating. In her online workshop, I learned her two-part definition of grief:
- One's reaction to a loss – not just emotional but also involves physical, behavioral, thoughts, social, and spiritual components
- Occurs anytime we lose something to which we are attached
Having a term for what I was experiencing has helped me immensely these past few months, and I thought I’d started accepting this loss. But as I cried through the concert, I was reminded that grief is tricky. It can sneak up on you at the most unsuspecting moments, reminding you that you still have stuff you need to work through.
For the rest of the concert, I thought about the dilemma parents often face—
How do we let go of a dream we had for our child?
How do we sit by and watch an extraordinary talent go unused?
How do we accept things have permanently changed and are never going back to the way they were?
After the concert, Noah’s dad invited us to approach the stage with him and meet his son.
After chatting with the delightful Noah Levine, I stood back and watched the genuine way this extraordinary musician connected with his fans.
Many of them appeared to be around the same age and wanted to express how he inspired them.
One set of friends returned a guitar pick they’d found on the floor, boasting their musical knowledge by talking about its thickness.
Most fans just stood there awkwardly, unable to find words for the talent they had just witnessed.
Through it all, Baby Noah smiled, nodded, leaned in, and listened. The look on his face made a clear and powerful statement:
I accept you.
Chills covered my body as I realized his expression was nearly identical to the one his father wore just minutes before as he watched his child shine.
As we were walking out of the venue, the father turned to thank me.
“Soul Shift saved my life,” he said, taking me by surprise. “And that is not a figure of speech; it literally saved my life.”
He went on to explain the impact of taking my Soul Shift course in 2019.
“I can pinpoint that exact thing as being the turning point for me. And once I cracked open, and I started exploring and looking at myself honestly, I can never go back to how I was before. Fearful, closed, angry. Things are still a struggle, of course. I’m human. But I have much more stability and desire to lean into my authentic self, and I don’t ever want to cover that up again.”
For what seemed like the 30th time that night, I became emotional. But this time, I cried with gratitude for the way healing truths we’ve forgotten come back to us if we are open to feeling our pain.
And the healing truth was this:
He is human.
I am human.
Our children are human.
And we are learning,
forging new paths
and reclaiming our joy.
Showing up bravely, boldly, flawed, and full of hope as our most authentic selves – this is the goal. To live by the guidance of our heart, not by the expectations of others, is what us brings joy, peace, and fulfillment.
When Avery told me to stop asking about playing guitar, she was asking me to honor who she is, how she feels, and what she needs to heal at this moment in time.
And when she excitedly tells me about the students that she works with in the special education classroom and the books she’s reading on medical careers, a lyric from a song on Noah Kahan’s new album plays in my head.
“I’ve got dreams again.“
The musician, who I was drawn to in 2018 because he sang about mental health struggles and surviving dark periods, has dreams again.
What a miracle that is.
My child has dreams again, too.
I must not let the magnitude of that statement be overshadowed by the grief of what was.
By adjusting my expectations and supporting her new dreams, passions, and interests, I am nurturing the roots of her authentic self.
What flourishes won’t look or sound the way it did before, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still become her beautiful anthem, in time.
My friends, in exactly one month, Soul Shift: The Weary Human’s Guide to Getting Unstuck & Reclaiming Your Path to Joy, comes into the world! If you’d like to be a part of my beloved launch team that helps me usher it into the world, please click here. If you would like to prepare for the Soul Shift journey, click here to get your Self-Compassion Starter Kit, free with the pre-order of Soul Shift.
Early readers are experiencing the positive impact of Soul Shift as described by Noah’s father in the post. Here is feedback I recently received:
“I’m telling you, this book has helped me more than any therapy session I've been in, and I haven't finished it yet. Can't wait to get a physical copy in my hands to highlight and share some of these practices with my teenage daughter.”
“I got shivers reading just the first few pages! I felt seen and loved and comforted. I love the idea of building a community and lifting each other. Whenever I read Rachel’s words I feel like we’d be best friends. I am constantly on a journey to become my best self, and I can already tell this book will help me along that path.”
Click here to access retailer links and get your free starter kit. A lack of pre-orders can severely hinder a book’s success, so if you are planning to buy it, I’d be grateful if you did it sooner than later.
Belinda Basson says
I love how your world has come full circle with experiencing what this father had to say about how your work impacted his life. I imagine that if you look at the night sky with all its visible stars and those the naked eye cant see too… That is the number of people you have impacted with your books, courses, Facebook, instagram and website. Because the ripple effect of the work put into action is enormous. You truly make the world a better place to be, without a doubt.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you for such beautiful encouragement, Belinda! I am holding it close to my heart today. What a gift you are.