By Ken Gillespie

How many people do you know who have experienced three near death experiences? Ponte Vedra resident Cabrina Cameron has thrice eluded the Grim Reaper’s call. Once as a teen driver crashing in a rollover when her vehicle’s rear axle gave way. Responders couldn’t believe she walked away unscathed from her totally flattened VW. Another incident when her heart unexpectedly stopped beating on the operating table while undergoing surgery for cancer in her 30s. And yet a third time when her heart ceased pumping while going through another surgery.

As you might expect, such repeated brushes with eternity might impact a person’s outlook on life. Beyond health scares there were other winds buffeting her. In her younger years she grew up within a dysfunctional family where she had to cope with continuing conflict. She admits she married too young, just out of high school. Nevertheless she committed to family for 17 years, raising three children. The relationship ended when she moved on to pursue a college degree. Another lengthy relationship ended three years ago when her second husband one day simply decided that he didn’t want to be married. While unexpected, Cabrina stays positive and sees this as the start of a new stage of life. More recently, there’s been stress as her son deployed to Iraq as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, flying missions to rescue Special Forces soldiers in enemy territory.

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How does one possibly stay centered with all this going on? She doesn’t hesitate with her answer…without a doubt her spiritual and positive outlook on life comes through music.

Q: What part has music played in your life?

A: As a child I found that listening to music was a powerful positive distractor when things weren’t going well at home. Music became my intimate friend, a healing agent that enabled me to keep moving on. Years later as I did genealogy research, I found that musical talent has run through my ancestors for several generations. I suppose I was predestined to come to music.

Q: Do you play an instrument?

A: Drums, but not the kind that usually come to mind. I have a collection of unique drums where I use hands and fingers instead of drum sticks. Cultures around the world have embraced hand drums for thousands of years for ceremonial, ritual, healing, and warrior purposes. One of my favorite drums is my West African djembe, a hand drum dating back to 500 AD. The playing surface is made from goat skin. Another precious possession is the Handpan, producing a distinct sound of finely tuned symphonic steel. It must be experienced to understand the beautiful music it makes. Regardless of type, the drummer becomes one with the drum through feeling vibrations produced. 

Q: Beyond music are there other interests?

A: Taxes. Go figure…a drummer who does taxes! I’ve always been good with numbers and math. Accounting has been my career most recently with the City of Jacksonville. When I divorced three years ago, I moved to Del Webb and I needed to supplement my income. I started a tax preparation practice. My fellow active adult community residents make up a large client base. Seniors have conservatively saved through the years, understand the tax system, and wish to hold onto their money to the extent legally possible. I also have younger clients but their focus is quite different. They live in the moment, spending now, less willing to defer material goods and pleasures. Many of them chafe about their tax burden as they see their robust incomes being dinged by the government.

Q: Given your several life experiences you could serve as a poster woman for how to succeed against besetting odds.

A: I try to focus in the moment, not dwell on the past. In my youth I practiced mindfulness long before it became a buzzword. I’ve always thought of myself as an out-of-the-box thinker and an adventurer, jumping out of airplanes, climbing mountains, and cycling across Florida on my carbon fiber bike. I’m also spiritual and at times sense a strong connection to nature. Full moons especially delight me with their hypnotic light. I hope to be remembered as someone who every day looked to perform three tasks: learn something new, do a good deed, and scan my surroundings for an anomaly. I’m in a very good place, smelling the roses and loving life.


Photo courtesy Cabrina Cameron

Cabrina Cameron

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