Waking Up to Your Own Beauty
When Rose approached me at the end of a yoga class where I had been playing interpretive guitar, neither of us could have imagined the journey we were about to take, together and separately, in the bringing to life of this song. Rose says, "It feels so good to FEEL again," with an acknowledgement that this song helped that to happen in her life. There have been 4 (!!) magical things that have occurred already (!!) regarding this song and its short life. And probably more to come, we if keep our eyes open, now that it is "out there" and ready to meet the world...
Rose was looking for a song that could call her forward into her own life, after having moved through an incredibly painful and challenging year. She shared with me that after three decades, her husband had decided to leave and embark on a new relationship, which came as a confusing and upsetting shock to her system, and had left her reeling internally, careening between feeling deeply furious and then fearfully unsure of her own past choices in the relationship. The idea of trying to start her life all over again after having lived in a very safe-feeling space for a very long time was overwhelming, and she was frequently overtaken by a swirl of emotions. When she came for her song interview, she was beginning to get clear that, for the first time in a very long time, she wanted to do something for herself. She wanted a song that could make a powerful difference in her life, to help her move forward out beyond the pain she felt trapped within.
Rose and I sat for two hours together. I took copious notes, filling eleven pages with my quickly-scrawled handwriting. I listened carefully and leaned in. She opened up wide. She was angry, but in a very controlled way. She cried. She was practically shaking at points--so huge and consuming and disorienting and painful was her experience, and the act of re-living it here with me. I followed closely, and wrote it all down. "I want to hear something in this song that comes from deep within me," she said. "I want to hear this song and know that it is me." We hugged. I could tell that she trusted me. She left. And there I sat, with the eleven pages. I poured through them. And as I read and re-read, I found that almost every word on every page seemed to vibrate on a frequency that I experienced as, literally, toxic. Anathema to what she wanted. Almost every word seemed, energetically, to tug the whole experience she had been through a year before in a direction that felt, from an "energy" standpoint, weak, lost, victimized, small, or unguided. So I read the pages again. And that's when I began to see it. Hidden, among all those embattled tugs, were five extractable, twinkling gems.
Five of the things that Rose said just seemed to come from someplace else. Five things vibrated on a very different frequency, and the more I poured over my notes, the more and more clear and obvious they became to me. They truly seemed to be coming from someplace "other"--someplace that was strong, and brave, and ready to rise up, clean itself out, shake itself off. Begin anew. And embrace a new forward direction.
She said: Some part of me KNOWS that I have always known where I am going.
She said: It's time to rise up to my full height.
She said: I want to be able to truly stand in my own skin.
She said: It's like there's some voice within me, calling out to me.
And then, astonishingly, she said the purest, most powerful thing: I want to make peace within myself.
It was this comment, in particular, that helped me to find the way. It just rang out, and out, and out, like the sound of a bell. What would that mean? I wondered. Making peace in me. Feeling my way into this thought allowed me to lean into and really hear the rest of that voice within Rose that seemed to be working to get through. Holding this brilliant, beautiful thought in my mind helped me somehow to string these five gems together, and feel my way into speaking this new language, and fill in the rest of the empty spaces, to complete the song.
Rose also showed me an illustration on a card a friend had sent to her. It is the drawing you see above. I looked at it and I saw clearly why it moved her: the idea of being able, somehow, to step consciously, intentionally, into clear, cleansing water and wash yourself clean, down to the deepest, freest level of Who You Truly Are - the version of You that has no need to hold any of this story as a burden or an impediment to the magnificent journey of the soul. And so it was, with these five clear beacons, and the drawing before me, that I was able to easily coax this song, her song, into being.
BEAUTY IN ME
Anna Huckabee Tull
I've been standing on the side, perfectly justified
While everything is falling
And one last voice is calling
One last voice is calling me
I hear it say Rise! Up to your full height!
I hear it say Breathe! And dare to believe
That you have always known where you are going
And now you are strong enough
And now you can rise up
Move like you're free
There is beauty in me
Beauty in me
And I walk down to the water
And I stand in my own skin
I'm gonna let it rain down on me, all of me
Gonna let myself step in
Gonna let it all begin, ahhh
Let the water wash down clean
Down through all the pain in me
Every inch of me is sacred
Every inch of me is free to believe
I am making peace in me
'Cause there is beauty in me
There is beauty in me
There is room enough in me
For all the beauty I see
(c) 2013 Anna Huckabee Tull, CustomCratftedSongs.com
(1) One magical thing about this process was those five shimmering gems within all the swirling pain that I experienced in Wendy. Her comment afterward was, "When you are deep in the muck, the muck is all you can see." But it never ceases to amaze me how, even in our darkest moments, when the storm is all around us, there are these little points of light, if we will only dare to see them. That's pretty magical.
(2) The second magical thing was the unbelievable transformation of Wendy. On the day of our interview she seemed small, to me: bent inward, a conduit for pain. A few months afterward, when I played the song for her live, I gave her a simple recording of it, and in the weeks that followed, she listened to it repeatedly, like a mantra. The more she listened, the better and clearer and stronger and more vibrant she felt. By the time she came to my door to hear the finished studio version, she was, quite simply, radiating light. Gone was the wounded animal that had originally showed up at my door and in its place was a vibrant, radiant, gorgeous woman, full of life and laughter. We listened to the finished song together and she took deep delight in the nuances of the recording. I know I can't attribute all of what had changed in her to the song. Time had passed, and much had occurred in her life that was encouraging. I don't know that I can say it was the song itself that shifted everything (though I sure do love playing with and putting trust in that idea! It breathes life into my work to believe it). But I will say that I think the act of deciding, within herself, that she was worthy of a song, and the intention and expectation that she and I, together, could locate a melodious voice within her that was soothing and inspiring and familiar and REAL, meant that she was ready to place herself in a new light, with new hope, on a new "track." I think because she dared to want this song to work wonders for her, she allowed it to be so. I believe she is THAT powerful. I believe we all are.
(3) The third magical thing is that, three seconds after Wendy introduced herself to me, I had a really powerful little "life twist" occur. I had been performing in the Yoga class of John Calabria, and during class his musings about prana, and money, and how it can be used, were so inspiring to me, that I decided to decline the pay he had offered me to perform there. But John came up with an even better idea. How about I rip up this check, and write two new ones, each for half this amount, one for you and one for me? he asked. And we each go off and do something truly astonishing with our half of the money? I ran home and shared this with my family, and the four of us--Jim, Ben (13), Sam (10) and I translated the check into 75 one dollar bills and drove down to Boston Common and distributed them together, one by one, to seventy five people who had every reaction under the sun to our joyful gift. What an astonishing day! I think some of the wonder of that day worked its way into this song. That feels magical to me, too.
(4) The fourth thing was that, when I heard this song, I knew there was just one guitarist in the world who would know just what to do with it, arrangement-wise: Ksenia Mack. I think probably my finest album is the one I made with Ksenia, back in 1999. But she and I had not made music together for almost fifteen years, and had gone in different directions, musically, and in life. I thought about Wendy, working to forge a new life, and it made me brave. I took a chance and called Ksenia up, and sent her a very rough recording of my ideas for the song. She had a great big YES inside her, about working together again, and so did I. When I drove to Ksenia's house and laid out my thoughts, and she started playing guitar, I felt something move all the way through me: I wasn't sure what it was at first, though my eyes were watering. But after a moment, I knew: pure joy. I think this song is about daring to listen to your heart - about setting all the stories down and just remembering, deep within yourself, that you really HAVE always known where you are going. And remembering that the deepest, most profound invitation from within, always, is to remember what you have always known, and to say YES.
Here's to Wendy: to all the ways her life is bringing her chances to say YES! and YES! And YES AGAIN!
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Ksenia Mack created the many layers of acoustic guitar on Beauty In Me. To hear Anna and Ksenia together listen to Anna's 1999 CD, OPEN NOW. I am so enamored of all her work! And of her wonderful, giving self!
Anna Huckabee Tull is a Life Coach and an award-winning Singer-Songwriter who creates songs on commission for people all over the globe. To see her TEDx Talk, watch below.