Ukeleles and Snatches: A Story About Success

UkeI have a ukelele. It’s blue and shiny. I bought it about 14 months ago, and then I never once took it out of its case. Last night, I learned how to tune it. I also learned how to play a C chord. I can tune a ukelele and play a C chord all by myself. This is ALL CAPS EXCITING to me.

I was never a musician. In first grade, I played the violin. Then, I played the piano. Then, I moved on to the flute. I never played an instrument long enough to get good, but I was okay at reading music. The band director at my elementary school insisted on calling me Tammy.

I quit band because I am not a Tammy.

That was the end of my musical career.

Until 2009. In 2009, I decided that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I am a teacher, and I have spent most of my time teaching young children. This means there is a lot of singing involved. I don’t have the best voice in the world, but 4-year-olds seem to think I know what I am doing. I figured I could learn a few chords on the guitar and accompany myself, and that would make my singing even more amazing. As my 7-year-old told me today while we were singing the Gilligan’s Island theme song at the top of our lungs, “Mom, you’re really good at singing ALONG with songs.”

Plus, what kid doesn’t think a guitar looks cool? I bought a used guitar on Craigslist, and I signed up for guitar lessons at the community college.

I made it through two lessons. I didn’t quit because I didn’t enjoy the guitar. I quit because there was a choice to be made: spend a few hours a week on guitar or spend a few hours a week at the gym. My interest in guitar just happened to coincide with my interest in not being an unathletic blob anymore. My kids were both under 5, I was still nursing my youngest, and I had minimal “alone” time each week to pursue an adult interest. I chose the gym.

The guitar sat unused until last year when my daughter asked if she could play it. We went to the local music store to buy some new strings, and while we were there, I saw the blue ukelele. It was pretty, so I bought it.

And, then it sat alone until last night.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook News Feed, an ad for online ukelele lessons was there waiting for me. Hahaha. An ad for ukelele lessons of all things. It was one of those moments where you wonder if you are being set up because how many people just have a ukelele lying around waiting to be played?

But, I had a ukelele, so I clicked the ad. And, in less than 10 minutes, I learned how to tune my ukelele and play a C chord.


I got up this morning and tuned it again, and was sitting there strumming my C chord when Nick woke up. I’d found another video that promised to teach me a one chord song, and I said something to Nick about knowing at least one chord…

He said, “See, there is that voice again. You’re excited about learning the ukelele, but you are using the voice of a teenage girl who is embarrassed to let anyone know that she’s excited. Don’t do that. Say, ‘I CAN PLAY ONE CHORD ON THE UKELELE, AND IT’S AWESOME!'”

ALL CAPS AWESOME, my friends.

That voice. That voice plagues me, and I have tried so hard to abandon it. It took me about 6 months to even understand what Nick meant when he first mentioned it, and then I could immediately hear my children using it.

That voice. It’s a whiny, complaining voice. It’s the voice that says nothing is going right. It’s the voice that says this is so silly or so stupid or so pointless, and I am definitely too cool to be interested in whatever this is.

My son used the voice in the car the other day. He was commenting on the flowers in the median of the road, and he said, “Mom, why are those yellow flowers so pretty?” He might as well have said, “This is the worst day on earth and we’re all going to die” because that is what his tone of voice conveyed.

When I used the voice a few weeks ago, Nick said, “You’re really excited about what you just showed me. You thought it was great. But, if you were speaking French and I didn’t understand French, I would have thought that you hated it. Your voice said that you hated it.”

snatchThat voice is conveying an utter lack of confidence. You are doomed before you’ve even tried. It’s like the article I wrote recently about lifting: Shaking Your Head “No” Is The Easiest Way To Guarantee Failure. Smile, fist pump, stomp, yell, and be aggressive. Own your lifts. Be confident. Fake it until you make it.

If you can’t do that, you won’t be successful. You’ll constantly second guess yourself. You’ll downplay every little step forward. You’ll blow off other’s compliments. You won’t make progress, and it will be your own fault.

Then, it dawned on me. I already know how to be aggressive and confident with snatches. When I snatch, my face says I Know What I Am Doing. I own every damn snatch.

It’s time to own the uke.

Enough with that voice.

I am learning to play the ukelele. I have the coolest blue, shiny ukelele on the planet. I can tune it, and I can play a C chord like a badass. It is ALL CAPS AWESOME.

Author: Tamara Reynolds

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