Humans of Wayside – Lisa

Guitar Music, Wayside Centre, Music Therapy
Guitar Music at Wayside
I come here for the coffee. I am in my fifties and I am actually running the music and art program that comes here once a week. We set out arts and crafts and we do sing along stuff and I find that really rewarding. It’s been a long journey. I learned to play the guitar when I was twelve. I was on the stage the first time when I was three, my dad was a musician. I’ve had a long history with music, but I’ve kind of gotten away from it because you cannot make a living with art and music they tell me. When I went out of high school I went into psychology because the only thing I knew I was good at besides the arts was listening and people usually like to tell me all their s*. So I ended up in university and got a BA. Got married, had kids, got my masters. Ended up counselling for about sixteen years. Dealt with a lot of high trauma. Sexual abuse from childhood victims. Lot of depression, lot of anxiety, some multiple personalities, which is now called dissassociative disorder. Did work with that. At some point I went out on my own and hung my own shingle in private practice.

Then in 2012 I basically burned out. I went through a burn out. It was shortly after my mother and father had both passed away as well. So I had a few really hard years and emotionally I was just, without realizing it, I was sucking all the negative energy from the clients and ingesting it basically. I was starting to get really sore all the time. My back was bad, my neck was bad, and I wasn’t sleeping at night. After a little while three people in my life said, “You’ve got to quit”. But what would I do if I didn’t do counselling? I’d been in bands all along a little bit, nothing that made much money. I’d taken up art, when I was counselling actually. It helped me in therapy with my clients. I really enjoyed art, and so I decided to be a creativity coach. It’s like helping people but a different way. I’d actually been informally doing it for years. But I decided that maybe I could make money at it. That didn’t work. People don’t pay for that kind of thing. It’s like life coaching but even worse. So I thought well I’m making ten bucks a month doing that. It got to the point where I was running monthly coffee houses, I was running a monthly song writing group, a monthly writing group, a monthly art drop in centre. All these things, I was really busy but I wasn’t making any money and I was actually burning out from the physical energy it took to do all this and to maintain a website presence. I didn’t know where I was going to end up.

Waterloo Wayside
Lissa G at Waterloo Wayside
Let’s fast-forward from 2012 to 2016, well now my life is I make music for the homeless and I help with art here, at Bridgeport café. I also do art with cancer survivors, so I have an expression group I run for them. I get paid for both of those things which is miraculous. I would do it without being paid but I get paid a little bit. It’s great. I am in four bands. Two of which are gigging, two of which are trying to gig. Which is a lot of work, but it’s so much fun. I do my own art. I sell a few a year, I don’t sell a lot. I am also teaching art with Cocktails and Canvas. I teach people to do art in local bars and restaurants while they drink. I am making more doing that than I did as a therapist, because it’s my own business. Cocktails and Canvas does all the PR and sells the tickets. All I have to do is get the venues, organize the events and show up. I now have staff that I also pay to show up for me which is great and so I’m making a living doing that and I just finished my first novel. Life is really fun. I tell people all the time the fifties, that’s your best decade. That’s when life starts for me that’s how its’ happening anyways.

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