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!
Several years ago, my mom shared this personal story by Michael Wilcox (found in his book entitled Walking on Water and Other Classic Messages).
When Michael was a baby, his father left his mother and she raised her children alone. Through the years his Dad’s choices caused a lot of pain and heartache for their family. As a teenager, Michael felt a need to pray for peace, healing and help forgiving his dad. So he did, and no answer came. He kept at it, and through the next several years, he prayed for the same thing. But no answer came. When he was in his 30’s (married, with two girls and two boys of his own), he was asked to give a talk in church about families. He sat down to decide what to say, assuming he would just talk about his mom. But the Spirit whispered “Talk about your Dad.”
My dad? He wondered. What in the world would I say? But Michael felt prompted to think about him.
Then his two boys, ages 6 and 2, came into the room and just stood there looking at him. In that moment, hundreds of memories he had shared with these two little guys flooded his mind- many little everyday interactions as well as bigger moments. And suddenly an answer came- I am now ready to answer your question. Now that you are a father, now that you know a father’s love, would you be the son who lost his father, or the father who lost his son?
He gathered his sons into his arms and cried and cried- for all his father had missed.
Here is the quote that sums it all up:
“Why didn’t my Father in Heaven give me that answer at fifteen, or twenty-one, or twenty-five, or when I was married, or when my daughters were born? He needed to wait until I was a father of sons and had enough experiences with my boys to understand what a sweet thing it is to be a father and share memories with sons. The holding place had to be carved in my heart, and as soon as I could really receive and comprehend the answer, the Lord gave it to me. Maybe we are in the fourth watch, but the Lord is saying to us: I’ll answer your prayer. I’m aware of your needs. It is recorded in heaven, and I’m going to answer it. But right now in your life there’s no place for me to put the answer. Life will create a holding place, and as soon as you are able to receive it, I will give it to you.”
I have retold that story so many time over the last few years, and have found it to be SO true in my own life. So many times I have wanted an answer but I didn’t have a place to receive it- yet.
For several years I have talked about writing a song called “The Holding Place” because this story touched me so deeply. But I find that sometimes that becomes a problem- something I care so much about becomes difficult to sufficiently express. So it has taken a long time to write this one. A few years ago, Jon (my sweetheart) jotted down a poem for me, hoping it would help me work through the creative problems that stood in my way of finishing it. I saved the envelope he wrote it on 🙂 and used some of his ideas for the bridge. I appreciate his constant support.
Another interesting tidbit is that I had a hard time writing the music for a while because I felt that I couldn’t totally relate to a father leaving his family. I had a very steady and loving home-life growing up, so I wasn’t sure how to express what he had experienced. When my youngest went to school last fall, he struggled each day going to school (fortunately he LOVES school now and is all smiles). Big crocodile tears would roll down his face and he would ask “Why do I have to go to school?” It was then, during the days when I had to send him to school with tear-stained cheeks and worry about him all day long, that I wrote “tell me the reason, I’ll try to be brave, but it makes no sense and I feel afraid…”
Musically, my favorite part is the bridge- where the momentum increases from a pensive, thoughful backdrop to a pulse. “What should he tell them of the years gone by? Of hurts and hopes and heaven? They will understand in time…” and that winds back to the chorus. That part was the most fun to write.
One other funny fact- if you were to compare the sheet music to the recording you’d see there are several (unintentional) differences. You’d think I knew this piece inside and out after writing and editing it for several years, but I still ended up unintentionally changing lyrics and timing during the recording process! I decided to leave the changes for now because I think they’re kind of a fun, spontaneous addition :).
Hi all! I spent the day recording and it’s time to pick up my sweet kiddos so this will be brief. I shared the song “Sunset” several months ago- remember? Well this one I promised to share as well and I’m just now getting it up here. My friend Norm wrote the words for this one also, and I really love how bouncy and fun it is. (Click on the link below to hear the recording!)
I have some random thoughts for you today. This week I set a goal to “Dream in Words” and “Dream in Music” every day. The cool thing? It means whatever I want it to mean since I’m the one that wrote the goal- ha! But for today, you can join me as I “Dream in Words”….
1- Life is about process. I have been taught this my whole life, but I’m just discovering it. If you clutch the destination in a death grip, you’re going to miss a whole lot of joy in the process. What if it’s not about “getting there” anyway? What if you take out the concept of time entirely, and every day is about savoring what is? That doesn’t mean you get complacent and become a couch potato; acceptance can actually lead to greater growth than stressed-out-running-toward-the-goal-at-break-neck-speed efforts can. We talk about this a lot in our home currently. There’s a certain amount of accelerating your pace that can make you go faster (run up and grab your backpack that you left at the top of the stairs). After that, it slows you down (faster, faster, hurry, hurry, we’re going to be late!). That’s because it’s not really accelerating at the point- it just adding tension that you THINK is increasing speed. It doesn’t help.
2- The world awaits! Remember when you were little and you believed you could be an astronaut? How long has it been since you dreamed like that? Can you still be one? Sure! Maybe you don’t want to do everything required to be an astronaut right now. It would require a lot more than you thought it did at age 6, but the point is that you COULD run toward that dream if you really wanted to and if it was valuable enough to you. Today at my voice lesson my teacher proved that. When I first started taking lessons I figured that if I could confidently sing a C or D (the octave above middle C) I would be content. An E would be icing on the cake. Within a few lessons my teacher told me that she thought I was not only a soprano but a high soprano. What? Me? I didn’t believe her at first, but today I was confidently (at least for that hour!) singing an F (above the C that I told you would be the icing!) and attempting a G above that. I walked out of my voice lesson (on the clouds!) thinking, “Wow do I set my sights low sometimes!”
At this phase of my life, I’m not sure if (1) getting consistent, full nights of sleep that allow my brain to process the options or (2) having space during my day while my kids are in school is more responsible for creating a wonderful, expansive feeling that the world awaits. But I am left considering this thought: there are so many possibilities and opportunities at my fingertips – so dream big! The truth is that I can learn to do just about anything I decide I want to- and that feels SO good!
3- I just finished the audiobook “Finish.” I didn’t realize till I had started it that I never had finished an audiobook- and I was determined to get all the way through (it seemed almost sinful to not finish a book with that title…). It has a lot of interesting concepts, but my favorite one is this: identify your “hiding places”- places where you go to hide from finishing your big goal that sometimes intimidates you. Often it’s something like social media that you swipe into without even thinking. It may be Netflix; whatever it is that is an easy escape. Goals take effort and you never will accidentally find yourself doing it. For example, no one ever has said, “Hey I was watching my favorite show on Netflix and the next thing I knew I was doing burpees.” Never. It just doesn’t happen. It takes concerted effort to get off the couch and work out, so it will never happen without you knowing you did it! I thought this example was hilarious- and so true.
I just spent way too long trying to track down a quote that I heard a few months ago. To no avail. This is essentially what it said: “Writing your first draft is like sitting down to a meal with rotten food.” I thought this was hilarious at the time, but since then, I’ve been experiencing it in real time as I’ve been trying to finish the big piece that has been really challenging to tie up (and now I find the reference to rotten food even more amusing than before!). The funny thing is that even for the most brilliant musicians (as a general rule), something inspiring and brilliant doesn’t often come out on the first try. It usually comes out rocky and stuttering initially. Why does that surprise us? It sounds, well, human…And yet, when we sit there looking at what we feel like is rotten food, it is hard for us to believe anything good can come of it, and we often want to just throw it all in the garbage. (Let’s make that “I just want to throw it in the garbage!”)
But if we throw it away at that stage, we will never get to experience the magic that comes through the process. It’s the editing that cleans up all the rough spots and messes and makes it glow. That’s not to say that you or I never have moments that it just flows and we feel full of inspiring ideas. However, at least for me, this “stroke of genius” happens infrequently and for brief moments. This is good news, because otherwise, until genius strikes, we have to wait for it. With reality as it is, get that first draft down (gag if you must) so the process of refining, editing, and shining can take place. The trick, I’m learning, is to move my work through the process of drafting, editing, finishing faster so that my brain learns when it sees rotten food that there are more courses to come- and it’s worth staying at the table!
I see life in neon. Usually. It’s really not an exaggeration- I just experience the world that way. Typically, I love it this way. It means that I can soak in a beautiful morning till my heart just about bursts with joy, that I experience excitement and energy in a really dynamic way, and that I get passionate about things and throw my whole self into a project or person who needs my attention. It also means that my lows are typically lower too- so when I’m discouraged or down, it can feel pretty dismal at times. But to me, it’s worth it for all the joy I get to feel.
My husband tends to see in shades of gray. I used to ask him to rate the dinner I just made on a scale from 1-10 and I couldn’t figure out why we hovered at a decent 7 almost every night. It’s not that he disliked the food, he just found it satisfying and was content. 6.5 was pretty gross (don’t repeat this one) and 8 was worth celebrating! As you can surmise, Jon is my rock and without him I’m be all kinds of crazy.
One of the most productive conversations Jon and I ever had was one where we talked about how differently we see the world. It’s not that we had never talked about this, but suddenly we came to a new discovery (this was after at least 10 years of marriage!).
Jon commented “It’s like you’re talking in football fields and I’m talking in centimeters!” (And actually, to be accurate I’d have to delete the exclamation mark, because he rarely speaks with exclamation marks. But I’m writing, so it stays!) How intriguing! In some ways, he feels like I inflate reality, and I feel like he dulls it down- and yet it’s just a matter of how we experience life. As we peeled back the layers further, we realized that the best thing we could do is learn to “convert”. If I’m trying to convert centimeters to inches, there’s a formula to do that (“divide the length value by 2.54” google reminds me…). When I’m talking in football fields, Jon can learn to convert to centimeters (“what does that look like in centimeters?” How can I understand that on my scale?) And I can do the same when he’s talking in centimeters.
I wonder if sometimes that’s why I find it hard to fully express myself in music. 6’s and 7’s are great and all, but I need to find 9’s and 10’s, and 2’s and 3’s. What does that “look” like with music writing? Perhaps that’s one reason I’ve felt drawn to explore orchestration in a way I never have before. Perhaps the variety with timbre and color will help me express to a greater depth. I won’t know till I try!