It is late, and I can’t hardly believe I’m still up, but I have something in my heart that I want to share. I, like you, have been watching FAR too much of the news for my good lately. No, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be up on what’s going on in the world. And I appreciate those who are working hard to give us accurate information. But today, after reading news articles, and wondering if a grocery pickup for a few more things on Monday would be futile (likely!), and scrolling through posts on facebook and instagram for far too long and far too frequently, and and and….I sat down to read my scriptures and listen to a BYU devotional (this one: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/janet-b-bradford/carry-on/). Wouldn’t you know it, by the time I was done, the dreary feeling that had been there only minutes before was replaced with hope and peace. Magic? Nope- even better: light.
At the end of the devotional that I watched, Janet Bradford quotes several hymns and I was (again) struck by how powerful they were; power we need in our world today! It was then that I made a resolve to add my voice to those that are sharing positive messages around the world. Have you heard them? Messages that speak of this being “our greatest hour”, of a loving God who is watching over us, of the hidden blessings that are to be found in the challenges of our day…I add my voice: peace and joy are available today and are found in Jesus Christ! “Who but thyself my guide and stay can be?” This is my very favorite line of the hymn “Abide with Me.” Who else can I rely on when chaos is both outside and inside of me? Only He can provide the deep security and help that I am looking for. I am resolving to spend more time focused on the light and less time spinning in the dark. Tomorrow, the Sabbath, is a good day to start.
He is my anchor. He is my strength. He is my source of peace. And I am so grateful for Him: Jesus Christ
This arrangement was written as an expression of my testimony after a very difficult several weeks last fall. I’m delighted to share it with you tonight. Much love, friends! (Click on the link below:)
This morning I read this quote that was too good to keep to myself. This is the source if you’d like to look up the entire talk: https://speeches.byuh.edu/devotional/choose-a-growth-mindset
I love the poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908 and originally entitled “God Knows”. It invites each of us to put our hand into the hand of God when we might be feeling fearful and the path ahead is not visible. It reads like this: And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” That poem leads my thoughts to a Book of Mormon scripture with a similar feel. It asks, “Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power …. ” (Mormon 5:23)? When you feel overmatched, please remember that God can open all doors and help us climb the highest peaks.
I promised to take you along on my music journey this year, remember? I didn’t forget. My little music train has being chugging along- a little slower than planned because of some unanticipated stops, but it’s still moving! Jump on for a few minutes and I’ll catch you up on where I’ve been.
I helped the boys adjust to being back in school. They did fabulous! I began to shift gears and get back into a routine. I set goals, and looked forward to making some progress with my music journey (did I tell you how much I enjoyed Richie Norton’s 76 day challenge?).
Mid-month I went to my doctor to get a procedure done that was much more painful and a much longer recovery than anticipated. My compassion for others who are in pain grew exponentially (aka holy cow that was rough).
I finally felt like myself for one day before my entire family became very sick for several weeks. Flat-on-our-backs type sick. Kids took turns staying home from school and I played nurse-mom.
In the minutes to myself, I was privileged to learn from the great Hans Zimmer through his masterclass (online). Wow that was fun!
It had been two months since school had started and I had made very little progress with my goals (you can see why!). The boys were back in school so I had more free time than I’d had for weeks, but I felt SO discouraged. I spent much of the month wondering if I even wanted to write music. I wondered if I even liked writing music. Maybe I was barking up the wrong tree.
A good friend spent a lot of time listening to me during November. She and I talked a lot about hope, and it was through her that I started to find my footing again. Through our chats I realized that the “unknowns” of my music journey were part of what was making me feel so frustrated, not necessarily music itself. Maybe I didn’t hate writing music after all!
I also worked on a hymn arrangement of “Abide with Me” for two women’s voices and piano.
Early December I began singing lessons again. It has been a joy to learn from a wonderful teacher.
Family is my number one and the holidays didn’t leave a lot of room for music time, but I managed to meet up with a friend in Spokane who helped me record a song I wrote with a friend called “Feels Right” (it’s not done, but I hope to share it soon!).
Kids going back to school and New Years Goals gave me a fresh start. I needed it. I set some new goals (for one thing, I wanted to write music every day, even if it was only a few notes!) and felt like I was gaining momentum.
I started taking some online classes- one on music for film, one about orchestration, and one on composing. One night, at about 9:00, I finished analyzing a piece Beethoven wrote for a string quartet. My husband came in to the bedroom where I was putting away my headphones and I commented, “How did I ever think this was not my thing? Who else analyzes Beethoven at night and feels like they’re a kid in a candy store?!” I started remembering why I love music (listening to it and writing it!).
Then my youngest son broke his leg snowboarding. Actually getting off the lift. The first lift of the day. Bummer.
Fortunately he loves his wheelchair (we’re headed in to X-ray it again Monday!) so it’s been as easy as having a full leg-cast could be.
After an initial recovery period, my youngest son went back to school full time, loving the ramps (“I get to ride down them while everyone else walks, mom!”) and doing very well. My oldest had been fighting an infection on his big toe which climaxed in a minor surgery last week.
Two and a half weeks ago I was asked to write an arrangement (using three existing children’s songs), gather some friends to perform it, practice with them, and share it- today. It would have been a tight enough timeline as it was, but I knew that we were leaving for Banff, Alberta (for an anniversary trip!) in a few days. Though that didn’t give me much time, I was excited to have an opportunity to write for something that was already scheduled to be performed- not a common opportunity for me currently. This morning I had the honor of singing “Trying” with some talented friends at a Women’s Conference.
And that brings you up to speed! It’s been a busy couple of months.
I’ll leave you with an experience that I’ve been pondering from last week:
At my voice lesson, Stazya (my teacher) was helping me with a vocal exercise. I was singing a pattern of notes that would get higher each time I finished the pattern successfully. It was getting high, and I was having a hard time adjusting in the higher range. After an attempt that didn’t sound the way I wanted it to, she looked at me and said, “Everything is set up and working right with your voice and your breathing. Now you just need to let go in order for the voice to be free. You just simply have to let go.”
What in your life is technically ready and working, but in order for it to really soar, “you just simply have to let it go”?
In a paradoxical way, afflictions and sorrow prepare us to experience joy if we will trust in the Lord and His plan for us. This truth is beautifully expressed by a 13th-century poet: “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
Autumn is in full swing here. Do you know how I know? The bushes in my back yard have turned a brilliant shade of red. Flaming red. They make me so happy. Oh, and you want to know what else makes me feel happy? My one living flower in the back yard. It’s a sunflower that my son planted several months ago. Bright yellow amid the wilting leaves from our garden. It’s even MORE impressive to me because we did not do anything to it besides plant it and let the automatic sprinkler do its job. This year our garden philosphy was “do whatever the heck you’re going to do, little seeds.” We got a few cherry tomatoes and a gorgeous sunflower. And I’m VERY happy with that.
This past month has been a mixed bag for me. I have had an opportunity to “practice my patience” (a phrase Levi’s kindergarten teacher used regularly last year- brilliant…) as I healed from a procedure and then turned around and got a doozy of a cold which threw me back to flat on my back for a week. Though I have missed my regular healthy self, I am coming back to the table with more than before. Isn’t that how it goes? The hard, steep learning curves we experience are not the things we usually would choose to go through, but we get to take with us the gold nuggets we find along the way. I am a better human being because of the learning that has taken place this month. Lots to be grateful for.
Because I promised to take you along on my musical journey this year, I want to update you (and hold myself accountable!). Here are a few little tidbits, and with any luck, I’ll be checking in a little more frequently in the coming weeks!
-I LOVE journals. I purchased a beautiful journal at the beginning of this school year (Mom gets to school-shop too, right?!) and I have used it to process music-related thoughts. It has been magical to sit down and start my music sessions by writing. Who knew? I have always been someone who loved to talk things out, but there ain’t anything talking back at me during the school day currently (unless you count Siri…). Journalling has allowed me a way to bounce thoughts off….myself! It probably helps that my journal greets me with “Hello, Sunshine!” every morning. I have been a typing journal writer for some time now (I print out my journal once a year and put it in a binder) but I’ve rediscovered the magic (and therapy!) writing my thoughts can be.
-Have you heard of Richie Norton? My sister and brother-in-law introduced me to the 76 day challenge he created to help us “do something stupid”- essentially work toward your big crazy dream. I started the 76 day challenge when the boys went back to school and I have LOVED it. The structure is just what my black and white brain needed to get on track, and it has really helped me settle into what I really want to accomplish and get to work. It’s funny that as an adult I still find the hardest part just sitting my bum down and getting to work. I’ve been using a timer (as he suggests) when I’m doing my “dream work” and it’s surprised me how long 15 minutes feels…I think “Seriously? Haven’t I been working on this for over a half an hour?!” Nope….apparently I’m working to extend my attention span…Seriously- here’s the link in case you want to try it too. It’s fabulous!
-I’m chasing rainbows, people! Actually what it really looks like is doing something out-of-the-box to create. For example, I decided that it sounded fun to play the flute. So I borrowed a flute from a friend and this morning, for my 1/2 hour of Joyful M.E time (I’ll have to explain later…) I played around with the flute (looked up fingerings online) and came up with a melody. Turned out I had only been playing around for 15 minutes, so I decided to hop on the piano and crank out an accompaniment. I was so delighted at how it was turning out that I pulled up my music program and input the music into my program- voila- I have sheet music for my new song….wait for it….”The Flute-y March.” The point of all this is that I’m re-learning that “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. FIND it, and snap! The job’s a game!” Thank you Mary Poppins. But honestly, I’ve approached this music thing WAY too seriously so many times and it just gets stressful. Today? It felt magical. With that concept, I’ve been thinking about how crazy it is that we can “hear” someone smiling while they’re singing (sometimes). Do you think you can “hear” stress? Or can you “hear” how magical someone felt creating it? Something to think about!
(Oh nuts- the sunflower decided that it had had enough today and fell to the ground. But even on the ground it’s sunny and beautiful! 🙂
It’s amazing how big something can seem in your brain when, in fact, the job itself is much more manageable. I figured it would be quite a process to set up a youtube channel but….it took me about 30 seconds. My first video is one that was a delightful collaboration and you probably won’t understand the words. Do you remember “Sunset” that I posted last year? Well here it is in Mandarin! 😉 (For those of you wondering why the heck I chose to get it translated into Mandarin, that’s a story for another day!)
Hello friends- I’m back! Today marks the first day of an exciting new day for these 3 handsome boys (!!!) and a new season for me here at Melodies of Light!
Last spring I was trying to decide what to do with my website during the summer while I had my kiddos home. A friend mentioned off-hand how much she respects Barbra Streisand because of a story she had heard. Apparently when she had her baby, for the several months following, she didn’t formally rehearse or even practice vocals at home for an event that was scheduled a few months later- she was just present with her baby during that time. She made a conscious decision not to carve out time to keep up her voice while she was healing and bonding with her baby, and decided that she would “sound how she would sound” singing in her performance because this was baby’s time.
I was inspired by that (thanks for sharing, Bridget!), and I want to have that kind of presence in whatever it is that I’m doing. So my summer was for the kids- working and playing and sunshine and peaches and rafting and painting and soccer. Man alive, we had a great time! Now the kids are back to school (already?!) and I’m back to say hello and see what I can add to the collective light in this world. I’m excited for all the adventures this school year will bring!
My plan is to take you with me on my journey of discovery this year as I explore music, creativity, family, and anything else that just makes me happy along the way. I hope you’ll join me!