Two months ago, my dad died. The experience of losing him was slow and gradual, because he had Alzheimer's Disease. It was also quick, because the difference between near-death and actual death turns out to be pretty sudden and profound. But above all, my dad's death felt magical to me, because loving my dad was always a magical experience, from the time I was tiny and he was creating birthday magic shows, Halloween haunted houses, treasure hunts to the town dump and movies starring us kids, until the very late stages of his life with this challenging disease when he was asking me deep and caring questions about my view of the world. His death felt magical because it ended with singing. My mom, sister, brother and I all held hands around his bedside and sang "Dona Nobes Pacem" ("Bring Us Peace") - a favorite round in my family - in his final hours. What follows is one song about my dad and mom, in honor of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, and two others to round out the story of my dad and my family's journey with Alzheimer's.
TOPIC: Navigating Through Pain into Self-Discovery
Waking Up to Your Own Beauty
There is magic all OVER the story of this song.
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...
TOPIC: WAKING UP INSIDE YOURSELF
A Journey Into a Deeper Place of Gratitude From Within
This week I completed the 200th song I've written and recorded in the studio! And I wanted to share with you that I've discovered that the one song I listen to the most of all, out of all of those two hundred--the one I am moved by, on a regular basis, is one I created just last year, entitled, "Of Grace and Gratitude."
TOPIC: Anna in a Blinding Snowstorm, Driving Toward the One She Loves
Love, After Taking a Breath and Entering Back In
This month I am sending you a song of LOVE that starts in a BLIZZARD of "nothing but white" and celebrates what it means to keep on reminding ourselves to REACH FORWARD, even when we find ourselves pulling back from love and connection. Read on to learn the story.
TOPIC: A Father Dies of Lou Gehrig's Disease and Leaves Behind a Song for his Daughter
A Fond Farewell From A Father "Locked In" With ALS
TOPIC: A Song That Invites You to See Life All Around You, Anew
What Would Happen if You Dared to Rise?
I once heard a woman speak, and what she had to say was so powerful that it it instantaneously and dramatically changed almost everything about the way I eat, that very day. And I have deeply, meaningfully stayed with this shift, two full years later.
Not long after that, I was asked by this same woman to partner with her to create a song that honors the Unitarian Universalist principal, "Honor All Beings." It took longer for me to write this song than any song I have ever written in my life - months and months and months.
But from the moment it was finally created, this song started spreading to new places. It made its way all the
TOPIC: Coming to grips with being honest with self
TELL THE TRUTH
TOPIC: Grieving the loss of a sister who struggled with mental illness and died early
A Mother Copes with the Loss of Her Unborn Baby
I get invited along on some pretty intense journeys with commissioned songwriting. This one took me to a place few people even talk about beyond the boundaries of quiet whispers and private family conversations. Jen came to me two years ago asking for a song to help her heal. She and her husband Dan had one child and were in the process of trying to conceive another. But they had been beset by a painful miscarriage which seemed both to stand in the way of Jen's moving forward toward conception again, and, too, of Jen's ability to feel the support of Dan. Jen brought her journals and the one book I have ever seen containing poetry about miscarriage to the song-interview. It was at that point that it hit me how very "unspoken" this kind of loss can be in our culture. She described to me the circumstances of her miscarriage, the shock, the sadness, the confusion, the doubt. And then she told me of how she had made the decision to plant some flowers--called daphnes--in her garden as a way of commemorating the life that was lost. I was particularly struck by the image of a flower rising up each year come spring, and that image became a central piece of the song.
TOPIC: Husband reaches out to wife who wants to leave
When a spouse wants to leave
"John" came to me, deeply concerned. His wife was thinking about leaving him after many years together, and he wanted a song that would celebrate her and persuade her to stay. What we ended up with, though, was a surprise to both of us. Our song-interview journey pointed the way to an unexpected question: What if John stopped trying to persuade, and instead sought to deeply understand his wife's predicament by "walking a mile in her shoes." What emerged was profoundly moving to him, and to me as well. And wait till you see what international harpist Deborah Henson-Conant brought to the mix when we took the song, and Deborah, into the studio!
Song of the Month