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And Helping Others Get There, Too
By Ingrid Ricks
It takes only one encounter with life mentor and songstress McCall Erickson to become captivated by the spirit, energy and beauty she exudes and know that whatever she’s got, you want. But things haven’t always been so clear for McCall. Only four and a half years ago, she was caught in a religion and a way of life that was suffocating her soul. And when she finally listened to her internal guidance system and summoned the courage to walk away in search of her own true self, she found herself in such a dark place she briefly considered suicide. “I remember the day I left so clearly,” says McCall. “I was sitting in church, and it was like I suddenly woke up. I got up in the middle of the meeting, walked out into a beautiful day and knew with every part of my being that I wasn’t ever going back. But walking away turned out to be the easy part. I quickly became suicidally depressed because I didn’t know there was another way to live. I had always been taught that there was no way to be happy outside of the Church, so I was shit out of luck with no place to turn.” McCall spent most of the next nine months locked in her bedroom, wrestling with depression, loneliness and fear. The Mormon belief system she had rejected taught that there was no salvation outside of the Church, meaning that in her family’s mind, she had sacrificed her eternal happiness and in many ways, them along with it. She felt that she had to temporarily isolate herself from them for fear she would buckle under the pressure and go back to her old life. When she told her close Mormon friends about her decision, the relationships immediately crumbled under the strain. She was living in a small Mormon college town in Utah, surrounded by a culture that provided little to no support for anyone who left the religion, and had nowhere to go for help. McCall turned to alcohol to numb the pain. But she also found solace in music. She had grown up singing in choirs, playing the piano and occasionally strumming the guitar she had begged her parents for when she was a teenager. And as a creative writing major in college, she had always loved to write. For the first time in her life, she started putting words and music to the
anguish and turmoil that was swirling inside her. “I spent nearly nine months feeling like I was in isolation,” admits McCall. “It was scary and lonely. I had no community, no social support, no network of friends. But during that time, I sat on my bed writing songs about my journey of leaving everything behind and building back up my life. The words just poured out of me and by the end of those longs months, I started seeing the light again.” One song in particular hit home for McCall. She called it Beautiful Place, a song about recognizing that she was lost but that she was finding it was a beautiful place to be. The song had a powerful healing affect on McCall and by early 2007, she was ready to quit drinking and reclaim her life. She suddenly realized that not adhering to anyone else’s rules meant she could do whatever she wanted with her life. Given her love for music, she decided to start there. McCall rented a small music studio and began teaching voice lessons. She also started attending songwriting workshops with award-winning Nashville songwriters. She soon added guitar lessons and songwriting to her services. Amid it all, she managed to produce a CD of the songs she had written and began performing wherever she could. Her mesmerizing voice and lyrics, which have drawn comparisons to Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones and Ani DiFranco, immediately resonated with audiences and soon she was landing regular music gigs at clubs and events, and having her songs played on radio stations throughout Utah. Her music studio also took off. But McCall noticed that many of the students she was attracting for music lessons were going through the same struggle she had just experienced and often times, she spent more time mentoring them through their situation than teaching them music. About a year ago, teaching music began to feel empty and McCall’s internal guidance system once again kicked in, telling her it was time to move on. “I started getting this strong feeling that I wanted to go deeper with the people I was working with,” says McCall. “I felt like I had outgrown what I was doing. It’s been a hard thing and one that’s been slowly evolving, but I’m not a good faker. When it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on.” Now McCall is taking another leap. Having realized that she’s outgrown her physical studio space, she’s shutting down her music studio and is expanding her space to the virtual world of Facebook, where she’s connected with thousands of people who are on similar paths. In September, she decided she needed a fan page and launched McCall Erickson: Loving Life At The Edge – which in a month’s time has already attracted nearly 1,600 fans. Along with a “Writing Your Song”
program that helps people heal and grow through songs, McCall has added individual mentoring and group workshops to her list of menu offerings. McCall’s dream is to help people blaze new trails by listening to their intuition – to help them find the courage to move on and create new meaning when the familiar models for living have been outgrown. “It’s really about helping people whose energy is shifting,” says McCall. “They know they need to find a new way of doing things but are at a loss for how to move forward. Those are the kinds of people I want to help, and they are the ones who are drawn to me. ” Along with mentoring others, McCall is reinventing her path with music. While she loves to perform, she’s become more selective about the venues she plays and wants to ensure that she is taking her already-inspirational music to a deeper level that has purpose in people’s lives. In that vein, she’s got a new set of songs that she has written and hopes to release on a second album in early 2011. McCall, a self-described “die hard life enthusiast with change-the-world aspirations”, says she is now living life with a depth of happiness, joy and aliveness that she didn’t realize was possible in her old life. And having blazed a new life path for herself, she views it as her calling to help others do the same. “However I help people is awesome,” says McCall. “If it’s through my music and they are inspired to dig a little deeper into their inner guidance, that’s great. If it’s through my words, through Facebook, or through my mentoring, that’s great, too. “With all the changes taking place in the world, we don’t have any more maps for living and they only take you so far anyway,” she adds. “We are coming to the edge of everything and we need to look for new ways of doing it. But don’t let it drag you down. Learn how to love it. That’s what Loving Life At The Edge is all about.” Here McCall Sing on YouTube!
For more on McCall Erickson, her music and her mentoring, please visit www.mccallerickson.com or join her on Facebook: McCall Erickson: Loving Life At the Edge. Dream Blog Author Ingrid Ricks is currently pursuing her dream to publish Hippie Boy, a true story about a girl who escapes her abusive Mormon stepfather by joining her free-wheeling dad on the road as a tool-selling vagabond – until his arrest forces her to take charge of her life. Read excerpts on Scribd or at www.hippieboybook.com, or join her at www.facebook.com/hippieboybook. If you are a publisher interested in talking to Ingrid or her agent, please email her at:firstname.lastname@example.org To read other Dream blog profiles, please visit: www.dreamitseekit.com