Thought

Tender Mercies

Hello friends! Last year went fast and slow. My youngest son broke his leg at the beginning of this year before the world shut down from COVID and it seems like that happened years ago!

Today I’m writing to you from the couch with a heating pad on my mid-section. It’s been an interesting few months for me. I’m hoping to share more music soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I met with my doctor and we decided that I need a hysterectomy. It’s not a surprise to me- in fact, 8 years ago my doctor was pretty sure I’d need to have a hysterectomy. At that time I prayed and prayed to be able to keep my uterus (what was I thinking! Ha!). For one thing, I was sure that a girl was coming to our family (we had already named her Lily!) and she needed a way to get here! (At the time we didn’t feel like fostering or adoption was part of our path…). Anyway, after 8 years where my health has been…less than desirable, and since we have been at peace for some time with our family being complete, I readily agreed that it was time to do surgery.

In the meantime, I get to figure out what to do with the limited energy I have. It seems that over the last several years I have gotten so good at tuning out my body that I didn’t “hear it” talking to me until it was yelling at me (aka I pretty much could not do ANYTHING else and had to lay down). How else do you do whatcha gotta do? Slowing down didn’t feel like an option with 3 boys to keep up with and a sweetheart to support, as with no end in sight to the health issues, pushing on and doing whatever I could do was my best option.

However, this issue is one that cannot be muscled through…and therefore I have literally had to slow down. A lot. Why is slowing down hard? That is the weirdest thing. Relaxing feels good. Deciding to put up your feet and pamper yourself feels good. Watching a show at the end of the day when you’ve worked hard feels good. Stopping when you have a lot that you want to or feel like you should do? Hard. Gratefully receiving the giving from others instead of feeling guilty and wondering if really you should have just pushed through and done it and spared them the work? Hard. Wondering if there’s anything you did to contribute to the pain that you could do differently…but not knowing what that would be? Hard. So I won’t lie and tell you it’s been all silver linings because it has STRETCHED me big time.

Can I tell you something else though? It has been amazing. Really. And honestly part of the reason I am sharing this is because I NEED to share it. This afternoon I was reading the creation story, and as I read about God seeing what he had done and saying that “It is good” I reflected on the power of dwelling on the good. Seeing the good. Looking for the good. He wasn’t focused on how mangy animals look when they’re about to shed, or how many days were gloomy in England this month…perhaps that is why God is so good at joy- he looks for it and focuses on it…So for anyone that wants to keep reading, I’m going to share the good because I need to dwell on it today.

In early October, I was watching a church conference when I had a very distinct thought that I needed to call up my OBGYN and make a physical appointment with him. “What?” I wondered. Things had actually been quite a bit better with my female parts since getting an endometrial ablation last September- so of all the times in the last 8 years to make an appointment with this doctor, right then felt a little….unusual. And unneeded! But the thought felt so distinct that I was sure it came from the Holy Ghost and I acted on it- I made an appointment. They were totally booked up until December (!) and since I was in no hurry, I made the appointment for December 18th and wondered why I just did that.

That next week I started having thoughts about getting a hysterectomy- which also felt way out of the blue. I told my brother in law the story of a friend of mine walking into my life just when I needed her. It was about 8 years ago when I thought that I may need to get a hysterectomy- and I found out that she had gotten a hysterectomy many years before. She provided the comfort I needed as she talked about what a positive difference it had made in her life. A few days after retelling that experience, I needed to stop by this same friend’s house for something and I felt a nudge to talk to her about a hysterectomy again. I did, and we had a half hour long conversation where I was teary-eyed, and when I left I was pretty sure I needed to get a hysterectomy. But I still had no idea why! This was still early October.

About a week later, in mid- October, I started having strange symptoms- I felt like I was coming down with the flu (achy, yucky, tired) and then the pain and nausea…etc. The symptoms lasted about two weeks, went away for two weeks, and then they pretty much…haven’t gone away since. Some days are better, some are worse, but the symptoms are there. At first I was really focused on getting through the pain/nausea/etc until the next reprieve…until the reprieve didn’t come and I was left with finding a new strategy. I spent some time trying to figure out what caused the pain so I could do something about it. Also futile- the ultrasound showed some internal problems that (go figure) need surgery…so there’s not much I can do about it. And the things I think might help sometimes help and sometimes don’t. Dead end.

It didn’t take me long to put two and two together. This is why I needed to schedule an exam with my doctor, and it’s also why I felt the need to think about getting a hysterectomy. The more I thought about it though, the more grateful I felt- God, my loving Heavenly Father, knew about all this before I did (of course He did!). He made it very clear to me that He was aware of me, and that He is taking care of me and that He loves me- even before I knew why I would need that message. (!!!!) The word that kept occurring to me was “mercy”. He didn’t have to do that! But he knew it would make the road I would need to walk easier if I knew before it happened that He cared. So that’s exactly what He did.

Well friends, His love has felt wonderful. Heavenly Father has been listening to my prayers and has led me through this challenge through promptings from the Holy Ghost. You know what has been even more amazing to me though? Through this whole episode, I have discovered how personal our relationship with Jesus Christ can be. And how nearby He is. HE IS!!! This morning I felt like I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Jesus Christ is near, he is there to help, to strengthen, to empathize, to help you make more of your life than you ever thought possible. He is there.

I have more to say, but this will have to do for now.

Happy New Year, all!

Love

Laura

Thought

Chug, Chug, Chug….

denis-chick-mHqIs22M2Kw-unsplash
Photo by Denis Chick

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.

September:

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).

October:

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!

November:

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.

December:

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!).

January:

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.

IMG_20200125_180637895
Photo of my son’s broken leg taken at Deer Park, Washington Urgent Care

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.

February:

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.

ankush-minda-VcD5OD2jDGA-unsplash
Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

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”?

TTFN,

Laura

Thought

Back Atcha!

20190903_073438(0)

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!

Love,

Laura

Thought

Random thoughts for Friday

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.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Dream Big!

Love,

Laura

Thought

Neon

art-bright-colorful-134

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!

Happy Thursday!

Love

Laura