One Small Step for Man…you know the rest

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Today I made a phone call. That, in itself isn’t such a big deal, unless of course you factor in that I hate talking on the phone. It was the nature of the phone call that is important here. It took me some time to muster up the courage to make it but I made an appointment in my head. I wasn’t going to put it off. 10:00am….make phone call. Well, at 10:06 I actually dialed the number.

The phone call was to a lovely gentleman who has agreed to produce my CD. Or at least the first three songs just to see if we will work well together. We don’t really know each other very well. I met him through a very dear friend and musical kindred spirit. He and I have hung out a few times, getting to know each other. I have played some songs for him, fell down his stairs….a stellar moment even for me, and we did some rough recordings so he would have a reference point while we took a little break for the holidays. He is very nice and I think he gets me and while sometimes it is still hard for me to believe….he says he likes my music.

So the phone call. Well I was supposed to make it yesterday and I did not. After dealing with some health issues, both mine and my sons, I was emotionaly fragile and let my fear get the better of me. Went to bed around 4:00 and slept through dinner. Today, while my fear was ever present, I mustered up some courage and made the call. I think perhaps, a sense of propriety won out over my irrational fear as well but let’s just call it courage o.k.?

What was I so afraid of you might be asking yourself and the truth is I don’t really know. Perhaps it is the constant ” who am I kidding” question or perhaps the fear of not being able to finance it which leads me back to the ” who am I kidding” question. It’s scary here in my head most of the time. So scary I don’t even want to be there but alas. I am taking a moment to acknowledge that I took one small step on the surface but a huge friggin leap in my head.

I am giving the floating dollar signs a rest for tonight and allowing the true glory of this moment to sing. Next Tuesday the journey of a thousand steps begins with the first recording session. I am nervous and excited and putting a lot of trust in God that this is why I am here and He will take care of it.

Here’s To You

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For the third time in my six year olds life, I had to walk away and leave his well being in the hands of a stranger. While they may be highly trained and lisenced by the state, they still hold his little life in their hands.

The first time this happened was when he was born (and really makes it four times but who’s counting). Within minutes of his birth they whisked him away to the NICU while I was wheeled to recovery room. I really think it solidified in me a lifetime of wanting to keep him close by me. The second time was only a week later when I had to leave him there and go home empty handed. It isn’t natural or fair for a mother to not take her baby home with her, not for the father either but I think ( at least in my case) they are trying so hard to hold the mother together they don’t really have the chance to feel their own feelings. So…..here’s to the parents that have to go home without their little ones in their arms. The ones who go back and forth to the hospital daily (sometimes more than once a day) to check in and maybe not even get to hold them but sit patiently by that tiny body and wait patiently and cry a little.

When he was four he swallowed a lollipop stick…..it does happen and in our case less than a minute after you say ” sit up you’re going to choke on that”. We went through an emergency room visit and then sent home only to receive an urgent sounding phone call to get him back right away and don’t feed him anything or let him drink anything. When we brought him in we waited through six IV attempts and tons of meds to finally get him to sleep. We had to walk away again only this time, we passed by the glass walled rooms of parents and children who looked as if they lived there. As I was leaving my child I saw the exhausted faces of parents who were dealing with far more than a lollipop stick. The reality hit me that they are worrying about the same thing I was worried about but i had the strangers assurance that we would be fine and going home in the next 24 hours or so. We returned to his room 45 minutes later to see him, yet again, with a tube down his throat watching the machines that were helping him breathe. We sat up all night and waited…he came home the next morning. So….here’s to the parents who wait up all night for many nights in a row. Who, even if they close their eyes for a few moments, have to grapple with worry and fear and never really rest. Here’s to the ones who know all the nurses by name and what shifts they are working because they have been there for weeks…and here’s to the nurses too.

Today I walked away one more time with my six year old life in the hands of the anesthstigiologist. I was a ” simple” “routine” “procedure” “he is only having his tonsils and adenoids out” I kept telling myself. But then the blue hatted strangers come in and start to use the word “surgery” and “risk factors” and your heart sinks a little. They give a little cup of something to drink and wait for him to feel a little “drunk” and then tell you to say goodbye…..my heart stops. I keep a brave face and only when I know he is out of hearing distance, a let out an uncontrollable gasp…the tears follow and once again my hero swoops in with that amazingly strong arm to scoop me up and reassure me. So….here’s to the dads who put their own fears aside because moms just aren’t always as good at that. Here’s to the moms and dads who put on brave faces and encourage and comfort a scared child when their own fears feel like they are swallowing them whole.

Here’s to the parents who deal with the life and death decisions on a daily basis and wonder if they are doing the right thing. Here’s to the parents who have kids with mental and emotional challenges who have to withstand the judgemental stares of other parents who think it’s a “parenting” problem. Here’s to the parents who are raising square pegs and victims of society who are always being told they aren’t “normal”. Here’s to you if you question your parenting skills daily but love your kids so much it hurts. You get up day after day and do your best and make mistakes and keep so much inside for the sake of others. I have had but a taste of what so many parents go through and ultimately realize that our kids are on their own journey and we can only walk beside them as long as they allow and even when they don’t stay far enough behind to catch them if they fall.

If you are a parent today who has to face these or any other challenges, know that you are loved and cared for by an amazing God and that He is walking along side of you and always close enough to catch you when you fall. He also has your children in His loving hands. Please be good to yourselves. Stand in the truth that you are not perfect but that you love your kids and in the end love always wins out. If you aren’t facing any of these challenges…hug your children and be grateful, and be kind to others because you never know what they are going through.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

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As I sit in my kitchen listening to Chistmass music wafting across the room, I feel like I have been here before. The difference being that when I was here last, I was a child, and in this moment I am a mom. Oddly, I don’t feel like myself at all. That isn’t exactly true. I feel like myself inside of my mom’s body, seeing this Christmas through what I believe, to be her eyes. As I sit in my bathrobe, drinking my coffee, listening to my kids conversations on their first morning off of school, I am perplexed by my own emotions.

There is that ever present joy. That’s the emotion beneath it all. It is unshakeable. It is the constant that keeps me on board when the daily waves of life try to sink my ship. It is sometimes hard to be in touch with because life is…..well….life. Far more tangible in these moments are worry and fear. Trying so hard, with very limited funds, to get just the right things under the tree. Perhaps the reason for Santa’s rotund belly is the cortisol building up from all the stress of wanting to keep the magic alive even if #3 wants a skateboarding remote control dog that is way too big for your tiny house not to mention the hefty price tag. It goes against everything that my practacle brain can muster. Santa generally gets it wrong with number three and her struggle to believe is palpable this year. Is it worth $60 to keep her believing for one more year. Did my mom/ Santa ever make a decision to throw caution to the wind. Did she struggle counting gifts, to make sure that no one looked like Santa’s favorite. I think I was in someways, my mom’s #3. I must tell you, on her behalf, that #3 made a beautiful ornament, all on her own, that she hung on the tree with a simple note that says, “Santa please take”. She also begrudgingly sat on Santa’s lap ( she is still a little scared) smiled for the picture and asked for one thing…..you got it …a remote control skateboarding dog. She has no idea how much it costs.

This is only one of the Christmas thoughts I am grappling with. I have three more kids. My mom had eight more. I know that there must have been Christmases that were harder than others and that like me, she must have had to rely on the generosity of others. It weighs heavy on my heart, the gratitude that runs so deep and the yearning to, just once, be the kind stranger, who is able to save someone’s christmas. I want so much for my kids to get that it isn’t about the stuff but not at their expense. I will do my best the rest of the year and then leave it to God.

This years Christmas carries with it a very heavy weight that I’m not sure my mom ever dealt with. It violently snaps me back into my own body. As I have a bubbly six year old boy who has thrown himself headlong into the joy and anticipation of Santa’s arrival. I can’t shake the image of wrapped gifts sitting in closets waiting to be put under the tree but never to be opened. Other six year old boys and girls who will not be there on Christmas this year. My heart literally aches in my chest. I now believe that it is possible to die of a broken heart. Never have I been so aware of every word I say to my own children, or what they say to each other. I want to breathe peace that reaches beyond all borders. I want to breathe comfort that has no limitations of time and space. Let peace begin with me. That’s what I want for Christmas.

Number three is currently reading “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” aloud. My heart is so full it aches……wish you were here.

Counting My Blessings

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As I sit here tonight it is hard not to feel grateful. I truly have been counting my blessings of late. My family and friends of course top the list but that only begins to scratch the surface.

I recently scaled my mountain and made it all the way to the Griffith Park observatory…..two and a half miles straight up. It was a beautiful clear crisp fall morning. Besides the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, I had the added blessing of being able to see the view of all of Los Angeles in all it’s blue sky glory. It is truly amazing to live in L.A. The sometimes overlooked blessing, is the community of hikers,dog walkers, runners and cyclists I pass by daily. Some of them I have even begun to recognize as we share a daily ” good morning”. It is good to know we are connected if even for a brief, breathless smile. I still pass my fare share of wild life and I can’t say that I am comfortable with any of it but I know that I am the visitor and try my best to respect that. I am grateful for the time to think. I don’t plug in on my walks. It is just me and my thoughts.

I also met with a gentleman this past week who is willing to take on my little CD project. I am moving forward and trying not to worry or give any time to my fears about financing it. I am moving forward in faith and as my brother says ” rowing towards shore”. Stay tuned on that front. Will try and set up some sort of kick starter account or something like it for those of you who might be in a position to help if only to spread the word. There will be a three song demo coming out ( I hope with the New Year) and a few concerts here and there. We are really going to be working hard over the next two months.

Finally, the whole concept has really come into clarity this last few weeks. I wrote a song yesterday……that is always a blessing. Music continues to help me say what I want when words are not enough….grateful doesn’t even begin to cover it! I am grateful when you stop by this blog and even more grateful when you take the time to let me know that you were here and leave me a comment. Yet again, it makes me feel connected and I think that is what most people want.

So as we spend these next few days stuffing our faces and sharing time with friends and family, remember the ones who feel disconnected and reach out to them even if they are a stranger and it just a passing hello and a smile. You never know when you might be making someone’s day a little brighter.

…and don’t forget to count your blessings!
Enjoy a little Bing!
Count Your Blessings

Just the Facts

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O.K. Just a little note to keep you up to date. No waxing philosophical, just the facts! I had my little meeting with my friend yesterday and as I expected…”the heat is on.” We talked about bringing another producer on board. I am really letting go here and trusting that I am on the right path. Spent so much of last night fighting off my daemons but I believe I was successful. It is a little like fighting off a giant with a slingshot but I feel like I have someone on my team who really believes in my music and will let me know when I am giving into my fear. All this is really exciting and nerve racking at the same time. I will keep you posted.

It’s a Beautiful Morning [go ahead, sing it]

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My trips up the mountain have proven to be quite powerful and really helpful in a practical way.  I have waited for so long to actually write something of fact about making a C D and up to this point it has all felt a little less than tangible.  I have written of my fears and the many turns my life has taken.  Truly, aside from an evening spent in the studio almost two years ago, I haven’t done anything that would indicate that I was really very serious about getting it done……until today!

As I wrote in my previous post, I have been walking up my little mountain for a few weeks now.  In so many ways it has paralleled my uphill battle with  myself and my path to a finished CD.  I know and have known for some time that I was really standing in my own way.  I have looked at it over and over again trying to figure out what it was that was stopping me.  I have made the excuses and then over analyzed my reasons for making excuses.  I have done so much self analysis and other than perhaps prompting me from time to time, to pick up my guitar, it  hasn’t produced much activity.  Recently, on my way up my mountain, I realized that none of it mattered.  No excuses, no fear, just get it done.

Today was the perfect day for such realizations.   Normally I would have been teaching today but because the students had an early dismissal, music class was cancelled.  I chose to see this as an opportunity to squeeze in one more walk this week.  I knew there was a chance that it might rain but it wasn’t when I left so I decided to walk.  Lesson number one….you have no control over the future so live in the moment and decide what is best in the moment.  As was just into my walk, the slow accent, when it started to sprinkle.  There was a moment where I thought about cutting it short and turning back but it was just a sprinkle and I was under the cover of some pretty massive trees and then I saw a tiny red breasted bird taking refuge in the outstretched natural umbrella and I decided to keep going.  Lesson number two…..you are never walking alone and you are ultimately taken care of.  A little aside here, birds, especially of the small variety like sparrows, are always a sign of my dad’s presence with me,  the impetus for my making the CD in the first place.   As  I came to the next part of my walk, where the tree cover ends, it stopped raining.  Lesson number three,  faith is always rewarded with assured comfort.  I didn’t know it then but the best lesson was yet to come……

I was just  reaching the crest of the mountain when I heard the most terrifying sounds.  There are always groups of people out with their dogs coming and going from the many hiking paths that wind their way through Griffith Park and I heard what I thought to be an animal in great distress.  It was a high pitched bark/howling sort of a sound.  I saw someone quickly move their own dog into the back of their truck and move slowly back towards the shrubs where the sound was coming from.  I thought perhaps they had another dog with them that had been injured and they were heading back to rescue it.  As I got a closer look I realized it was a coyote.  It looked right at me.  My worst fear about my walk each morning was realized.  I never want to run into wild life!  I just barely tolerate the squirrels and only if they keep their distance.  This was no small animal and it sounded really aggressive.  I had never heard anything like it.  As I continued to walk, keeping my eye on it and he, on all the human life around him, he stopped yelping and quietly disappeared up into the hills.  I knew then that it was a gift.  Lesson number three…..do not get stuck in fear.  Acknowledge it and keep on moving…..be brave and finish what you started.  So what does this all mean in a practical way you might be asking???

I called a  friend who I had been thinking about over these last two years.  She is a musician whom I have great respect for and have had the great privilege to work with.  She has done several CD’s of her own and had lots of success.  She knows me very well and loves my music.  She knows my strengths and my fears very well.  I called her today and asked her to come on board and produce this CD for me.  She has agreed!  She is on board and ready to help me bring it to fruition.  For now we have a plan to get together so she can hear the songs and we can talk about where to go next.  I know she will be a huge asset and that I will have my CD soon and hopefully you will have it as well.  Today was a good day!

It’s A Beautiful Morning – The Rascals

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music

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I have a mountain.  Literally speaking it is not mine but figuratively, I own every inch of it.  Everyday I walk about a mile and a half straight up hill into Griffith park.  As hills go, it is quite steep and while not treacherous, challenging.  I pass lots of people with dogs along the way and I do mean pass.  I often challenge myself to pass them up as we cross the same land marks.  I walk a total of three miles in about 40 minutes.  I have been doing it for a few weeks now and am still quite surprised that it hasn’t gotten any easier.  I try to walk in the cool of the morning and on an empty stomach.  I don’t want anything to weigh me down.

My mountain has come to represent so much in my life.  I talk to myself as I go along.  I have chosen not to use any ear buds pumping music into my head and distracting me from the task at hand.  I noticed today that most of what I say to myself on this morning jaunt is positive.  I have become quite used to the negative banter that seems to be on an eternal loop in my mind but not on my morning trek.  I say things like ” You are doing it!”  sometimes I give myself a pat on the back for not giving into the little voice that says “cut it short today….you have laundry.”  I don’t give into panic about limited time or too many other things to do.  This is “my time”  I will not give it away.  I was saying to myself just yesterday while I was really struggling  “don’t quit now.  You will have let yourself down and you deserve this.”  I cannot overstate this…..this is not my normal voice.  It leaves me wondering  “Why now?  Why here?  Why this?   Why don’t I employ this method in the rest of my life.  I do I break the promises I make to myself?  I have decided not to over think it but to just relish in that 40 minutes a day when I tell myself all the right things.

I will however, try and apply it to the life of a CD.  I climb the mountain and keep my eye on the next land mark and I know the translation is quite clear.  I just have to reevaluate the land marks.  I will reach the top of this mountain and I feel renewed and recharged.  Stay tuned!