Drumming Up Memories

Ryan: Welcome everybody to the Open In Indiana podcast, where we promote the people, places, and events that make Indiana a great place to live, work, and visit. On today’s episode, we have a local entrepreneur, Kara Long, who is the owner of 2 businesses here in our area, The Memory Collective and Lotus Paradigm. Kara, how are you today?

Kara: I’m doing great.

Ryan: So, Kara, how did you get started?

Kara: About a, a little under a year ago, I guess, I decided to make a pretty big shift in my life, I wasn’t very happy at my previous job, and I just decided I needed to do something different. And a series of circumstances led me to find my calling as a memory archivist, preserving people’s memories and turning those memories into books, if they want to take it that way.

Ryan: So, give me some examples of how you can convert memories into works?

Kara: So, the way I always start out is we just sit down and have a consultation where we’ll talk about what are the things in your life so far that are worth preserving to you and that you want to focus on. Those could be, depending on how old you are and your various experiences you’ve had, that could be, if you’re younger, that could be high school, the experiences that you’ve had in that so far. For me, that would be marching band, and then if you are middle aged, maybe you want to talk about your parents or your childhood memories, it could be military service, it could be your marriage, relationships, there’s virtually no limit to what you can talk about. And, then as you get older, it becomes more pertinent, I shouldn’t say that, because really it’s pertinent the entire time, but for those who are getting up there in years, we worry about dementia, Alzheimer’s, and death, or course. And so that’s where we would preserve their memory, so that future generations can have those memories.

Ryan: And so, give us an example of a memory you’ve been able to document and produce into a finished work.

Kara: Sure. The one that I’m actually working on right now has been especially powerful for me. I’m doing this process kinda on myself and my family. My father passed away when I was 13 so there was a lot I didn’t get to ask him, and so I am now interviewing my uncle and my dad’s best friends, and it’s been a really powerful process so far. Just for instance, I’ve been a writer my entire life, that’s been the consistent thing throughout my life that I’ve always wanted to do, is be a published author. And, came to find out from my uncle and my dad’s 2 best friends, that my dad also, like his life’s ambition was to be a writer. And I never knew that. I always thought that he wanted to be a teacher. Which he was, he was a very successful teacher, and I dunno. It was just very powerful for me to learn that about him. It made me feel connected back to him. So, I will be taking those interviews and transcribing the audio from those interviews and turning it into a physical book that I can actually hold and pass down to my potential future kids.

Ryan: Wow, so then you’re able to do that same thing for others in transcribing a story and allowing them to be able to pass it down to their family.

Kara: Yes, yep.

Ryan: And, so, I understand recently you’re working on a project for the Irvington area, correct?

Kara: Maybe [laughs] If that project does go through, that would be, I’m hoping it would be preserving the memories of local Irvingtonians about the Halloween Festival and just memories of Irvington in general. We’ll see how that goes, I’m very optimistic about it. They seemed very interested in it, but we’ll see.
Ryan: Okay. And so, you have a 2nd business along side of the Memory Collective. Tell us a little bit about how you got a 2nd business up and running.
Kara: Sure, so, in probably 2013, I don’t really exactly know or remember why or how I discovered this drum. It’s a type of melodic tongue drum or handpan. Some people say it looks like a flying saucer and some people say it looks like a turtle. [laughs] But I found this drum online and bought it from a guy in Austin. So I started playing it and I have a history of many other instruments, like clarinet, drum set, percussion, and I played steelpan in college a little bit, I sing, I play a little bit of piano, a little bit of guitar, so I’m decently well-rounded, but all of those instruments stress me out to play in front of people.

Ryan: Okay.

Kara: Because there is a right and a wrong way to play them, there are expectations, there are études, and arpeggios, and scales, and you can play wrong notes. For whatever reason, I can play great when I’m alone, but the moment that I get in front of somebody, I just tense up. It’s performance anxiety. But with this drum that I found, it’s the only instrument that allows me to just freely play in front of people because one, most people have never seen it before, so they’re more asking like ‘what is that?’ and more reacting to it than saying ‘oh, you’re not playing the right technique’. There is no right technique, not as far as I’m concerned. So it was something that I was able to just pick up and play and it calmed me down and was able to help me with my anxiety and kind of gave me the courage to play in front of other people and to be able to expand that stress reduction to them as well. And, so, more recently, I kind of, I don’t even remember, it wasn’t that long ago, I brought it to just show some people at various networking groups, and the reaction was consistent with all the reactions I’d had previously, which was, ‘oh wow, that’s so relaxing. Like I just feel immediately less stressed and could you just keep playing and follow me around? Do you have albums?’ And so it was after I got enough of that response that I was like, I’m already doing the entrepreneurial thing, why not also do this? And so, that’s kind of how I got into it. And now I’m trying to connect with virtually everyone who, anyone and everyone who either could benefit from stress reduction or anxiety reduction or just places that promote wellness. It could be yoga studios, salons, it could be at a law school where students are notoriously stressed out.

Ryan: [laughs]

Kara: It could be in hospice, it could be oncology, it could be pediatrics, those are all completely viable places. Even like a corporate setting where they want to give their employees, as a benefit, that somebody could come in, maybe once a week, or every other week, or once a month, whatever it is, and just have me play and help de-stress them. So that’s kind the idea behind it.

Ryan: And so, you’ve had a few really monumental kind of reactions at some places you’ve gone and played?

Kara: Yeah.

Ryan: Give us an example of one of your more recent ones.

Kara: Well, more recently, just a couple days ago, one of my friend’s little daughters, who is just about to turn 4, she’s been sick in the hospital for [for about a week], she’s out now, but she was in the hospital and they had to do a bunch of tests, and she was struggling to sleep, so I brought my friend lunch and I also brought my lotus drum, thinking maybe I can help get her to sleep. And I was really, really close to getting her to sleep, until she remembered she wanted to watch Scooby Doo.

Ryan: [laughs]

Kara: And then it was all over. [laughs] But while I was in there, one of the nurses came in and she really didn’t pay any attention to me, I was playing, but I asked the little girl, ‘Do you remember the last time I played this drum for you?’ Just trying to make a little bit of conversation, because she was just watching me play. And she shook her head, which is to be expected, and maybe you remember the other drum that I brought, it was a lap cone. It’s a lot louder and not very relaxing, but she really enjoyed that. And at that point the nurse turned around and looked at me and looked at the drum, and she said ‘I didn’t realize that was you playing, I thought that was coming from a phone or something’, And so she asked a few questions about it and I just kept playing, and so she left, and we took the little girl on a little wagon ride down the hallway because she wouldn’t go to sleep. And, when I passed by the nurses’ station, I was just telling everyone, all the other nurses, about your drum. Could you stop by? Just when you’re done, and could you stop by and show them what it is? So I ended up making a couple connections there, and she connected me to the pediatric manager and the NICU manager. So that was really really cool, spontaneous, wasn’t expecting it opportunity, that resulted just from someone hearing me play.

Ryan: And, so, Kara, if someone wants to connect with you to learn more about what you do with both businesses, how can they get in touch?

Kara: There are several ways. For the Memory Collective, I do have a website, and that is TheMemoryCollectiveCo.com, and that’s just C-O at the end. They can also reach me at [email protected], and that’s K-A-R-A, and then I also have a Facebook page which is really just a placeholder at this point, but you can connect with me on messenger on there. And that’s The Memory Collective LLC on Facebook. And my phone number, business line, is 317-763-8884.

Ryan: Wonderful.

Kara: And, then for Lotus Paradigm, it’s pretty similar, on Facebook, I’m Lotus Paradigm, and you can contact that email, which is [email protected], and it’s the same telephone number as before because I’m just paying for one. [laughs]

Ryan: [laughs]

Kara: For the one line, and again, that’s 317-763-8884.

Ryan: Great. Well, everyone, we’re going to close out today’s episode with Kara demonstrating her Lotus drum for everyone.

[Kara playing the Lotus drum from 12:52 thru 14:29]

Ryan: That really is relaxing. Well, Kara, thank you for joining us today and thank you everyone for listening. Catch our next episode soon!

Ryan: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Open In Indiana podcast. This podcast is produced by Henry Marketing Group, LLC, DBA Open In Indiana. To listen to more episodes, visit www.OpenInIndiana.com/shows. Thanks for listening!