Last Christmas my girlfriend, Karen, bought me a bike. Yes, I know, I’m 60 years old. It was the first time in 50 years I have received a bicycle as a gift. You see, she loves to ride, and I was like “Meh”. So, she bought me a (NICE) bicycle for Christmas so we could ride together. It was sweet and made me smile BIG.
And more importantly, knees. Mine. And they remind me of being 60 every day…even when I’m not on a bicycle. On the days I rode with her two things happened:
- She had to stop way sooner than she wanted to because…well…my knees hurt.
- I’d have a really hard time walking without pain for two days afterward.
I really wanted to enjoy it
I mean, it worked when she got me started with golf and skiing! Riding is something she really enjoys, but, alas, I just didn’t. Well, that’s not completely true, I DID (mostly) enjoy riding with her. It just HURT…bad. Like, lots of pain relievers afterward bad. So, I would ride, be down for a couple days and she would wind up truncating her ride to accommodate me.
I was also slow
Probably because my knees hurt so badly, but we “hardly” rode together anyway. We’d arrive together and leave together…but mostly I spent a lot of time watching her backside (not a bad thing now that I type it out loud, I suppose) getting farther and farther away until she disappeared altogether. Eventually she’d notice I was nowhere to be seen and come back for me and we’d put the bikes back on the rack and head home.
She would get excited…
Several days a week she would wake early, which is an indication of how much she enjoyed riding all by itself and ask, “Are you up for a ride this morning?”. Many times, I would cringe (internally of course). I always felt bad saying no, because I know how much she likes it and I appreciate her wanting to share her passion with me.
There’s also kind of another reason I wanted to go
Secondary for sure, but a reason, nonetheless. You see, sometimes Karen can be a little clumsy (sorry hon). A couple weeks ago she took a tumble over the side of the trail, down a 3-foot embankment into a bunch of poison ivy. She was going very slow and trying to turn a corner. Oooops. I probably wouldn’t have been able to stop her fall, but I COULD have helped her back up…and if it was really bad, I could have called an ambulance so she wouldn’t be lying in a ditch waiting for someone to come by and notice her.
I jest…a little
Actually, I make it sound a lot worse than it is. While it is true, she can be a little clumsy, emphasis is on “little”. For the record, she is a smart, funny, capable, and accomplished woman. But the bruises up and down her leg accompanied by huge patches of poison ivy rash attest to the fact that when she IS clumsy, she is clumsy GOOD!
Because of the poison ivy oils on her clothes, helmet and gloves, day before yesterday we headed out to the bike shop to get new ones that weren’t covered in poison ivy oils. Yeah, she tried washing them, but her confidence was low, and who doesn’t like new stuff, right?
I went with her
We had other errands to run anyway, so we went together. Mostly we go places together anyway…I mean, I LIKE hanging out with her after all. The point is, while we were at the bike shop, I saw a shiny new E-Bike in the window. Curious, I started asking questions about it.
E-Bikes…a gift to bad knees
What is an E-Bike? I’m glad you asked! Essentially, an E-Bike is a bicycle that incorporates an electric (the E in E-Bike) motor that “assists” the rider in pedaling. Honestly, I’d heard of them before but thought they were like those little electric scooters you can rent for getting around in the city. I never considered them because I didn’t need a fancy, expensive, electric motorcycle.
Once the salesmen explained it to me, I thought…hey, I should give one a test ride. So, I did. Let me tell you folks, those things are a GAME CHANGER when it comes to old people and bicycles. I didn’t ride long, but I was sold pretty much right away. Being a guy, of course, I wanted to see how fast I could get it to go, so I went behind the strip mall where the bike shop is and rode back and forth several times. WOW…I got that bike up to 40 MPH uphill! (Not a big hill, but still).
OK, so the bike does NOT ride itself, you definitely need to pedal so you still get good exercise using it. It has four “speeds” or levels of assistance, and in the highest it will assist you up to 28 MPH (in the model I was on…there are several models). It’s almost like another set of gears. It just makes pedaling a little easier (in the higher modes a LOT easier). So, obviously, I bought it.
And then we went riding
Not a long ride, just about 40 minutes, but for the first time THREE things happened:
- I was able to easily keep up, and not struggle with hills (she had to tell me to “back off” because I was making her nervous being so close behind her)
- She wanted to quit BEFORE I did.
- I was not only able to walk the next day but play 18 holes of golf…without medicating!
Frankly, it feels pretty miraculous. Now I WANT to ride as much (if not more) than she does!
What does all that have to do with voice over and acting?
Again, glad you asked! It occurred to me that sometimes you just need a little help to get over the hump. As much as we’d like to be independent and accomplish things on our own, In the immortal words of Bill Withers:
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
– Lean on Me; Bill Withers 1972
You can’t go it alone.
I guess that’s not really true, you CAN. But why would you? Honestly the road to success in both acting and voice over is long, and mostly uphill. Going it alone is going to be rough and take a LONG time if you try to be a one-man (or woman) show. As Mr. Withers says: “We all need somebody to lean on” (Bonus points if you just sang that to yourself).
Where do I get help?
You are FULL of great questions today! I’ve written about some of these before, but there are a lot of places you can get the help you need. What follows are some ideas, but I’m sure you can come up with a few more:
Get a coach.
- It doesn’t matter whether you are an actor or voice artist, a coach will be able to help you improve your chops. Even A list actors see a coach regularly.
Take a class.
- Google can be your friend here, no matter where you are you have access to the classes you need. Find something local and attend in person (assuming your region allows it now) or find virtual classes around the world.
Find a Mentor.
- This one can be a little harder but reach out and get to know people who are more successful than you in your field and see if they might be willing to mentor you. This is not an invitation to pester people, and emphasis is on the “get to know” part…so it takes time to establish, build and maintain these relationships…but it’s worth it.
Seek out an expert.
- Having trouble dialing in your audio? Find an audio engineer who can help you get your audio right. No matter what the issue, there is likely someone more knowledgeable who can help.
Farm out part of your production.
- No time to proof your work? Hire a proofer, or an editor, or an engineer. You don’t need to be a one man show. If you’re not a mechanic, you wouldn’t hesitate to hire a mechanic, right? This is no different.
You see where I’m going…
Trying to do everything on your own is possible, but it can be frustrating and a lengthy proposition. Sure, you’ll have to pay some people for their time and effort, just like you want to get paid for yours, but the investment is worth it.
Sometimes, they just want to help.
I recently was having trouble with my audio quality. I am not an audio engineer, and to top it off my hearing is not great thanks to 20 years in the military around weapons (LONG before hearing protection was a priority). I contacted an audio engineer I “met” on Facebook and offered to hire him to help me out. He spent several hours listening to my audio and tweaking my settings until it is now really great…and in the end he wouldn’t charge me for his time. I’ve also gotten a lot of help (both free and paid) from Don Baarns with my DAW setup (Don is a Studio One Wizard) and from Josh Alexander with marketing as well.
I’ve gone long this week
But here’s the takeaway: Sometimes everyone needs a helping hand. Whether it’s climbing a hill on your bike or working out what’s wrong with your audio. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it.
You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on.- Lean on Me; Bill Withers 1972