Linda Castle and the power of standing up tall!

Scene: Post gig, drinking wine in Emily’s candlelit backyard-fairy-garden with my dear old friend Nick and my brother, Tony. Adelaide. 9pm.  

“When I was in primary school”, Nick enthusiastically begins, “I had a fan-girl crush on a girl in my grade – Linda Castle. She was one of the first strong, talented females in my life. I just thought she was soooo amazing. But I remember at school camp she was having this shocking moment of insecurity about what she was wearing and asked if anyone could lend her a long sleeved shirt. I offered her my shirt which had a musical triplet design on the front, expecting her to say no. As she took it from me, I said – Oh my god! You’re going to wear MY shirt!? She looked at me incredulously, slightly puzzled and said – you WANT me to wear your shirt? She was shocked that I was so excited. All this time I thought she was the most amazing thing but she just had no idea of her own strength.

Emma. YOU are a Linda Castle.”

I burst into hysterical laughter, but Nick repeated the sentiment again, this time in a more whispered, earnest tone.

“Emma. YOU are a Linda Castle.”

As I sat in the moonlight, looking at the sincerity in Nick’s eyes, I took a deep breath in and my eyes welled up. My heart had just been broken, very suddenly, the day before the Adelaide leg of our tour.

Side note: Something that non-performers might not think about is that getting on stage in front of a room full of people and singing songs about your ex-lover, or love in general, directly after you’ve been broken up with can be one of the most challenging, cruel, totally fucked, draining, surreal and powerful experiences EVER!

In this case – powerful! BOOM. Friday night’s gig. Something shifted. Some deeeeep shit was churrrrnnnneeedddd.

Suddenly (like, really really suddenly) a magnifying glass was held up to some pretty significant issues in my life which I had not yet addressed and which were ultimately getting in the way of some potentially really beautiful relationships.

Most importantly, the relationship I have with myself.

Side Note: I am in no way saying that I have been at the root of all my relationship problems (no way!). I am simply reflecting on my behavior, so I can try to be the very best version of myself moving forward. 

Off stage, I often feel like a trampled flower; weak and unsure of who I am and what I have to offer the world, a lover or sometimes even a fucking conversation.

On stage, I mostly feel authentic, free, powerful, sexy and basically like Xena Warrior Princess. There is this indescribable flow which I give myself permission to feel. I feel the same when I am leading my choirs.

So how is it that I feel more like ME when I’m performing than I do when I’m not? How is it that my ‘real life’ feels more like a performance than my stage life?

This has been a recurring theme: Two contrasting personalities which I have defined for myself and fed foolishly, never quite allowing myself to own the divine feminine power, strength and fiery light that I feel on stage. I used to have people tell me constantly, “You’re so different off stage”… “Wow, you’re like this powerhouse when you perform but you seem really shy in real life!”

Like Linda Castle, I keep asking myself : Why would anyone want me to wear their fucking shirt?  

The real question is: Why wouldn’t they? I smell great. 

I’ve told myself time and time again that this is just how I am. I’ve convinced myself and the people around me that I’m insecure and timid, that my on-stage persona is just one facet of the complex prism that is me. To an extent, this is sometimes accurate, but what I discovered in Emily’s backyard during my conversation with Nick and Tony is that the actual truth of the matter is: I’m scared shitless of my own power.

Like Linda Castle, for whatever reason, it shocks me when my light is acknowledged. I reject it because I’ve been led to believe that it is not ‘real’. I sabotage it, despite wanting someone to see it so badly. It’s a lose lose situation.

I know so many other amazing women, in particular, who do the same thing. Why?

I’ve trained myself to talk myself down, infected by the insidious cultural disease that is ‘tall poppy syndrome’. I’ve created an unhealthy and irrational idea that equates self-confidence with being unkind, ungrateful and a diva (music industry hangover). Cognitively I know that this is complete and utter bollocks, but the people-pleaser-addiction always wins out in the end. And I inevitably fucking lose.

This makes no fucking sense.

It is also highly unattractive.

The really unfortunate part of this is that the men who are actually drawn to my light, I have at times inadvertently tried to push away. I have taught myself, through many past relationship experiences, that I can be loved when I’m down, but when I’m strong and/or happy, it’s too confronting. I don’t yet know how to stand in my light, in my power, and just shine, and be still, and trust, and be…patient.

So as time goes by, and particularly as my heart chooses to open itself up and develop the feelings that I call ‘love’…I lose myself. I lose my divine power.

And this, my friends, is the beginning of the end.

So this morning I conducted a very scientific experiment. I walked through the airport with the same posture, poise and grace that I would use when I am on stage. I stood tall. I felt the sway of my hips as they moved from side to side. I embraced every curve. The channel was open. I held eye contact with strangers. I smiled. What I found was that not only my energy shifted and lifted, but I felt the people shift around me. It felt like I had a crown of light surrounding me. I also felt my incredibly restless mind begin to quiet and as it did, I began to say to myself…”I love you”…

I forgot that in order to love someone with your whole heart, you really must love yourself first.

In Linda Castle’s case, Nick’s shirt luckily fit.

It really really blows when it doesn’t.

Though, it’s important to acknowledge that people are shape shifters – we grow, we shrink.

And this weekend I’ve grown an inch.

This is the start of an important journey. I knew something big was going to happen to me this year.

To all the Linda Castles out there…come and stand tall with me. I dare you.


PS: Listen to this! It’s important.  

About Emma Dean

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, director, lover, sister, daughter, choir mistress, vegetable fanatic. For more info:
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3 Responses to Linda Castle and the power of standing up tall!

  1. Caitlin Apelt says:

    One day when I’m wealthy I will fund the publication of your first book. I love your blogs very much. I agree you are indeed a Linda Castle. I’ve told you before you are my Oprah and I’ve always appreciated your honesty. X

  2. James says:

    The best! So happy to hear it. And thanks for sharing – it’s a valuable thing for anybody to reflect on, I think.

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