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!
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.