My name is Nancy Norbeck, and this is the story of how I became a singer, author, and creativity coach.
I’ve always been very creative. Of course, all children are creative—we just forget how as we grow up. When I was a kid, I was imagining, reading, and even writing my own stories. I wrote my first when my brother came down with chicken pox. I was in the fourth grade, and after I made my green construction paper cover for my “book,” my mother said, “Who knows? Maybe you’re a born writer.”
I also sang a lot. Music was big in our house. The radio was always on and with a mother who played and taught flute, and a piano in the house, something was always making noise. I loved hearing her practicing her flute as I turned up our street on my way home from school—it meant I was almost home. I got used to the chaos of cacophony, and eventually realized that I actually loved it. (That moment when the orchestra tunes before a concert, that riot of random noise from different instruments… I love that.) I also followed in my parents’ footsteps and started singing in choirs when I was four.
Choir turned out to be my saving grace, because while I would happily get up on stage as a little kid and sing for anyone who’d listen, when I was five, I found myself the target of first-grade bullying. I was told I had “Nancy germs,” and that was the end of any social life for my young self. It was also the end of me singing on my own for anyone, anywhere, for almost any reason, and the beginning of absolutely debilitating stage fright that gripped me for the next 45 years. Thanks to choir, though, where I could hide in a crowd, I never completely lost singing, and if I’m honest, I even chose my college for its choir.
By the time I got to high school, I was auditioning for plays and taking writing a lot more seriously. It was my escape from the ordeal of adolescence—I could disappear to the computer in the basement and write my own stories that let me be anywhere else I wanted. I also discovered Doctor Who, which gave me more places to “go,” and more permission to create my own fantastical worlds.
I never completely stopped singing, but I did stop writing for a long while. Mid-college, the demands of school were too strong, and by the time I graduated, I was out of the habit. It took a fanfiction challenge in 2004 to get me rolling again, and putting those words on paper for the first time in so long felt like coming home—like being wrapped in a warm blanket and handed a perfect cup of tea.
This time, I didn’t stop. In fact, three years later, I started the MFA program at Goddard College. I’d been teaching writing to English as a Second Language students, and advising the school literary magazine, for several years and wanted to get better at my own writing and also learn how to help my students become better writers. So many people thought ESL couldn’t write creatively, but I knew they could. I had seen it in my own classroom. I knew that there were plenty of domestic students who wanted to write creatively and had no official place to learn, too.
I didn’t realize I’d dropped myself into a crucible until I was in it; the transformational Goddard experience left me a far better teacher, editor, and writer than I was when I first arrived in Plainfield, Vermont—far better than I had imagined I could be.
My teaching job evaporated just weeks before I graduated from Goddard, but a few months later, discovered Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching. I’d found my people! I’d had no idea there was a field dedicated to helping creative folks get their work into the world, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I signed up for training and spent the next several months in awe of the ways in which the creative process works and could stop working for so many people—and how to help them get around those blocks. It was eye-opening and inspiring, and for the first time, I felt like I really had the tools I needed to reignite the process for stalled creatives so they could bring their work into the world.
Because, you know… when we get stuck in our creativity, we get cranky. Miserable. Frustrated. When the process flows, though, we feel the otherworldly joy of creation. What could be better than that?
Well, as of 2021, I can tell you that finding the courage to sing on my own again, and even start taking lessons, is pretty amazing. TikTok, of all the unexpected things, along with some serious anxiety work, has given me a way of experimenting with music again, and it feels AMAZING.
I’m all about keeping my own process going and helping as many people as I can to do the same.
What makes me unique?
- I believe that silly is a virtue that leads to great wild creative wonderments, and that killing a child’s silliness should be a crime we take as seriously as murder.
- I know that we all have a purpose even if some of us are still putting that purpose together for ourselves. And some of us have more than one, and that’s okay, too.
- I know that it’s okay not to think in straight lines, to run from goals and intimidating “accountability” that don’t speak to you, and that both of these things are not only workable but often their own off-beat path to greatness.
- If you taped my mouth shut, I’d survive, but if you took away my keyboard or my pens, I probably would die. I write–I write to live, to breathe, to think, to more fully experience my world.
- I will listen when no one else will. I will do it without judgment, without shutting you down with advice or “reassurance” you didn’t want, and with every ounce of compassion and empathy that I have. And most of the time, that’s all we really need.
- I am just “woo-woo” enough to be dangerous and just practical enough to be annoying. Go figure.
- I have a wicked sense of humor and try not to take things too seriously. I genuinely believe that if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
- By myself, I am the heir apparent to Queen Latifah. In front of anyone else (or, gods forbid, a microphone), I am Queen Fraidy-Cat. I know how it feels to know paralyzing fear despite knowing that I have ample ability to do the thing I’m terrified of. (2021 would like to mention that this one isn’t as true anymore, but I’m still a work in progress…and the fact is that I still know all too well how it feels to be stuck this way.)
PS: You might think that’s just any old photo of a lavender garden up there, but it’s not from just any old lavender farm. Curious? Ask me where I was when I took it!