Monthly Archives: June 2010

Thank You

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I saw something yesterday that sort irked me.   It was a phrase I have heard most of my life but someone had gone and twisted it a bit.  First,   I don’t think it is fair to tack your words of  wisdom onto those of someone else.  If you have something to say just say it.   “So what’s the phrase” you might be asking yourself?   I know you’ve heard it as well but here goes

If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day.  If you teach him how to fish he will eat for a lifetime.

Maybe I didn’t get the words exactly right but I know the meaning is in tact.   “So what was the change that bothered you” you must be asking yourself.   Well here it is.

If you teach a man to pray, he will die waiting for fish.

I am  not angry really because I guess there is some truth about the fact that God in not magic and that He never promised us an easy life.   He only said that we aren’t alone in it.   Much growth comes of struggle and pain and we are all the better for it and get through it with our eyes fixed on Him.  You can’t pray and not act.  But what I really thought after reading this was……how about a prayer of praise and gratitude for the fish in the first place or the person who taught you to fish or for that fact that you are physically able to learn and to fish itself.   Have we become so great a society that we no longer  see God and His great gift of this life.   I know where I am headed but  I cannot ignore the gift that this life here and today is.

I know that prayer can be a touchy subject these days but is essential to our relationship  with God.   I don’t believe that the only form of prayer is what we first think of , down on our knees, reciting the words we have been taught, although I find great comfort there.   I think the very breath we take, the thoughts we think, the work we do, our relationships,  all of it is prayer.  How do we show our love and our gratitude towards the One who brought us forth but by how we live this gift He has given us.

Maybe the person who wrote that doesn’t believe in God but I for one do not want to count purely on myself to make it through all of this.  I am not that smart.   O.K.   even if you do count on yourself to do it all…where do you think those “smarts” came from?  To quote another (though I am not sure who sorry)  “No man is an island”   I always thought that meant that we all need someone.   I believe gratitude in itself is a beautiful prayer.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that we are all capable of creation but I believe that is because we are created to do so.   We are multi-talented, gifted people because we are created in His image and that He dwells in us.

I will pray for you all today and for the author of that quote and even the one who changed it to suit himself alone.  Tell someone how grateful you are today even if it is just yourself.  Gratitude can grow like a weed in your heart and it is one weed we can all live with.

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The Apple and the Tree

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Nobody ever told me (maybe they did) how hard parenting is.  I think that I have said this before but it bares repeating.  I find myself so strangely connected to them all, and in some ways, I feel like I am living all my childhood joys and sorrows  over again.   My child hood memories are so present for me.  I don’t let anything go and I have always struggled with that.   I can relive a hurt that happened years ago and feel it like it was only yesterday.   It is a blessing and a curse.  A lot of my life seems to fall into that category.

I often thought that it made me a better song writer.  I could empathize with anyone as far back as I can remember.   If someone was getting picked on at school or ostracized for some reason I would find myself back at home in my room crying as if I was the one being hurt.   I had more than my fair share of teasing (is it ever really fair) but I have survived it all knowing then, as I do now, that I wouldn’t go back to those days for all the tea in China.  I know we have talked about that before but I have often asked myself…  does this make me a better song writer?  would I give up song writing if it meant I could be someone else?   I still don’t have an answer for that but I will say that song writing is the most frustrating rewarding thing I have ever experienced.  It’s not much different than parenting in that way.

My number one child just told me this morning that  at a birthday party he recently attended, the birthday boy told him he didn’t want to invite him but his dad made him.   My heart just sunk.   I asked him why he kept it to himself for so long and he said it didn’t really matter.  He said he found someone else to hang out with and he didn’t let it get to him.   First off… that is TOTALLY out of character for him.   I told him I was proud of the way he handled it but I honestly can’t stop crying about it.   I know that he handled it well but I also know that he is a lot like me and it has been floating around in his head for the last 2 weeks.

He started playing guitar and already wrote a song in the same time frame.   Can I save him the heartache……should I?   This is going to take some time to figure out.

Home Now

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There is one song that started this whole thing.   It’s a song about my dad.   For those of you who don’t know I lost my dad a little over4 years  ago.   It really took about 4 years for this song to finally come to the surface.  I know that sounds crazy but it’s true.   I knew what the song was about but it just  took it’s time making it’s way into the light.

It really just started with simple thoughts of heaven.  I remember sitting on my couch on a sunny cloudy Sunday and trying to see past the blue.  I don’t know if you have ever done that but it is something I have done most of my life.   I try to stare at the sky as long as I can.  It gets to a point where you feel like it is all around you almost sucking you into eternity.  It is crucial that you  find a spot where you can see it uninterrupted, no trees, no wires or roof tops, just blue.

Well, on that particular day, it got me thinking about my dad and heaven.  My dad had his pilots license when he was younger (my mom talks about one harrowing flight with him before they were married,  she never wanted to do it again) and was in the army air corps during world war II.  He wasn’t a pilot but he did spend his time in a plane.   I always thought it sort of interesting that he ended up in small town in California that just happened to be next to the airport.  I know that there were many reasons why my parents ended up where they did but I love to think that there was something pulling him towards his own love of flying.

I have known many pilots in my lifetime and have always felt that they all had something in common.  Can’t tell you what it is exactly but I imagine it has something to do with what they have seen flying above it all.  It’s like a secret they all have and we just wouldn’t get it if they tried to explain.   Maybe it is just a sense of what heaven is like.   When you are up there, in one of those small planes where you can still make things out (water,land etc.) it must be  a bit easier to see what God had intended.    I think my dad must have seen things up there that he just couldn’t have experienced here on the ground.   I recently found out from my mom that he used to take some chances and fly in some pretty bad weather between his small town in Northern Pennsylvania to Philadelphia.   Not sure what that was all about but I would imagine that you experience weather in a whole  new way when you are trying to navigate a small airplane through it.  I think he must have felt connected in some way to history.  The fact that man has always tried to find a way to fly like a bird, to be free of the earth and get a “birds” eye view, is not lost on those who continue to fly.  I wish I had asked him while he was still here.

He is home now and I imagine that he is flying somewhere.  He can finally fly free of machinery and instruments.   I imagine that he is in that eternal blue sky, perfect flying conditions and yet at the same time I feel him ever present with me.  Our relationship is free of the limitations of the human condition.   I have never felt closer to him.  It is such a gift.   Happy Fathers day one and all.

In A Nutshell

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Have you ever noticed that you can’t fix people no matter how much you love them or how right you think you are.  I have always heard that you can’t help someone get sober unless they want it for themselves.   It sounds alright when you are talking about a another grown up but when it comes to your kids it is a whole different ball of wax.

So when it comes to song writing (and there is a connection) I find that songs will come and I often don’t know what they are about.  I rarely sit down to write a song with a specific idea in my head.   I just sit and play around on the guitar or piano and hopefully something starts to take shape.   If I try to figure it out and “work” on it too soon, it is often the end of that.   I try to trust the process and  even when a song comes to a bitter end I file it away because the unfinished idea often leads me to something else like a “detour”.   Sometimes I get enough of a nugget that if I just keep playing it over and over, the rest will follow.  At this point that takes weeks and months.  I believe that is due to the fact that I don’t always have a ton of patience.  I give it 15 minutes and throw in the towel in utter frustration.  I do know that song writing is a craft and you really have to work at it.  I haven’t done that for a long time and with 4 kids my life comes in sound bites now.  I have to retrain myself to stick with something for more than a half hour at a time.

Yesterday I started working on something new.  I have had the idea sort of floating around in my head for some time now.  Now it has become a refrain or chorus with music.   It is really the song already.  Most songs (as described by John Melancamp) really boil down to one line.  The idea is simple and strong and the rest is just supporting material because no one wants to listen to a one line song.   So were it left in the “nut shell” the song is done but I know there is still “work” to be done.

Now the connection and I hope you can follow…. I sort of think of my songs as my babies.  They really don’t “belong” to me.  They are only with me for awhile and I am just the vessel.   I am really there to guide them into the light.  They will eventually stand on their own two feet and go out into the world and become more themselves.   Everyone who listens will hear something different and some songs will  speak to you more than others.  Are you still with me because here comes another strange connection.   I thought I was writing a song about my kids, for my kids really but as I was listening to myself yesterday I realized that it could just as easily be a song about myself.  Per my recent posts,  I am discovering new fears that I have been grappling with for sometime.  A fear of success.  I get close but something always seems to stop me dead in my tracks.  Really that is something for another post but it is so strange how when you start pulling on threads, seemingly unraveling the tapestry, the picture actually starts to get clearer.  You really start to get to the heart of it all and all the dots somehow become connected.

This journey is so hard sometimes but so exhilarating and rewarding, like raising kids.  You learn more about yourself than I ever thought possible.  Now what to do with all that.   Keep writing songs, and don’t try to “fix” anything.  It is all what God meant for you anyway and you are right where He wants you to be.  Quit running, stand still, write songs and just breath and be grateful.

The Road Less Traveled (part 2)

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It;s early and my house is so quiet.  The kids are still sleeping and I am trying to write quickly before they wake up.   If you haven’t noticed yet,  I haven’t been writing every day.  It was my intention and I think it is good to have goals but I haven’t exactly achieved that one.   Per my post about reading “The Happiness Project”  well…..I haven’t done that either.   I did check it out of the library and I actually read the forward but that was as far as I got.   I have started 3 new songs but haven’t finished those either.   The ideas are still there but I can’t remember much beyond that.   I always had this theory that if the song were any good I would just remember it right?   I think at this stage, counting on my memory is a bit crazy.

So what now.   My constant self examination has led me to this thought.   Why do I get half way down the road and turn back?   It is strange how even the tiniest events (and the big ones too) support this.   I don’t know if you read my post a few days back where I mentioned that I was going into pre production for one of the songs…..well that never happened.  Our car wasn’t working and I had to cancel.   I know that seems random and out of my control but it is hard to ignore the timing.   I have also been sick and it just seems to be lingering around, can’t shake it.  Oddly enough my illness has had me coughing for about 3 weeks now and that makes it hard to sing.   It has gotten much much better but it just won’t leave completely.   I feel like my psyche is working against me.   I am putting up road blocks to actually getting somewhere with this project.   I’m going to work on that, and while I am at it I will work on some of those songs as well.  Maybe instead of “road blocks” they are only detours that are meant to take me down a different path.  ” Yea, that’s the ticket…detours.”   That is how I am going to try and look at it from now on.   New path= new discoveries.  That’s not bad         right?

Happy Summer

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Hi all.   Just wanted to let you know that I changed the set up (picture) of my blog just for you.   Here is my happy place.  I wish I could transport us all to this location,  one at a time of course because a place like that should be enjoyed in solitude (or maybe with that one someone special).   Since I can’t do that I send you the image so that you can close your eyes and pretend.   God is good and has given us the great gift of “earth”  go out and enjoy some today and if you  can’t get out enjoy this very small gift from me.

The Best Days of Your Life

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So it’s Wednesday and it’s a little gray outside.  I love June gloom!   It really doesn’t feel “gloomy” to me at all.   For me it heralds summer.   Those last weeks of school when  you needed a sweater in the morning and were melting by afternoon.  The polyester school uniforms didn’t exactly breath.   As a child, it was my favorite time of year.   We were still in school but there really wasn’t much going on.   The teachers were already on vacation, or at least from a student’s perspective, it seemed that way.    Year books came out and we were all trying to think of something clever to write (Have a bitchin’ summer….now there’s something cool.)  maybe even coin your own hip phrase.   With all that said….I wouldn’t go back for all the tea in China.

I can remember people telling me that I was not enjoying that time that way I should.  They would say things like “these are the best years of your life.”  I, of course, would roll my eyes in that snotty teenagery way.   Did I mention I was a brat back then.   I didn’t appreciate that they were really trying to help me and I was less than grateful however…..I really hated to think that those were the  best days of my life.   I think my actual response was something like “If this is as good as it gets, kill me now.”  Snotty right?   I really did believe it then and still do.  Allow me to explain.

I know that I have had some really GREAT days.   My wedding day is  right at the top but it really is just barely because in actuality first real “date” did it for me.  I have to tell you though, on my wedding day, I thanked my husband for “the best day ever” and his reply……..”so far.”   He always reminds me that this whole marriage/life thing is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.   I have this sinking suspicion that the best days are yet to come.   The day that we got to go and bring number 4 home from  the hospital was a pretty great day but he has given me so many more of those jump out of your skin wonderful days and I suspect there is more to come from him as well.    All of my kids have the great ability to say one thing and I could just melt away with joy.   The best years, the best days?   You can’t say anything is the  best until you tried them all and I think (and hope) that I have lots still to choose from.   My new turn of phrase well, really my husband gets the credit….”This is the best day so far.”   I hope you all have a great day!