looking back, venturing forward

2017.

So much joy, sorrow, excitement, anxiety, fear and hope.

January- We started the new year at a new place of worship. Vibrant music, large, alive.

February- We waited patiently for small groups to start, so we could get to know more people. Relationships were made.

March – The boys and I went to Maine during our spring break, and got to spend my Dad’s birthday with him!!

April – I turned 39. For real. (It hurts to even type this.)  Stephen started playing the bass! And he and his friends started a band!

May – A serious car accident that sliced my right hand open, requiring 12 stitches (poorly done). Overwhelmingly supported by my school family, and not so much by our church. We can’t quite use the word family, because even though we tried,  in such a large church it was hard to stay connected to people.

June – The poorly done stitches re-opened, and revealed a great problem in some muscles that should have been repaired at the time. A wonderful Dr. took my concerns and fear seriously and consulted with a surgeon, and I had surgery two days later.  We visited a new church. Smaller, filled with real people, and so alive. It took a few weeks, but it was clear we were home.

July-  My monstrous splint came off, and physical therapy started. My sister came to visit!! We tried to go to an awesome jazz club for our anniversary, but it closed permanently days before our anniversary.  School started with an 8 period day which meant (drum roll please . . . . ) I could teach BAND AND CHORUS!!!  AND…. Stephen started playing trombone!!!  (Which was my instrument in high school and college — and beyond!!)

August – School was great. Physical therapy was great. Church was great. Somewhere around this time, I joined the worship team at our new church. And school? Imagine me doing internal cartwheels ALL THE TIME!! I was teaching band and chorus (what I love) in the most amazing place!!!

September –  My hand improved so much — I am able to do everything that I was able to do before. Play piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet — I can do it all. It is truly a miracle.  School is still amazing. Stephen and I got to go on an amazing school trip to Washington D.C.   It was awesome! So many amazing memories.  Oh — and we moved. Again. Stephen’s band had TWO performances and got better every time!

October – My middle school chorus had their public debut singing at the book fair, and leading chapel one week. I love teaching chorus!!

November – Shared Thanksgiving with an awesome family from church — whose development and use of sarcasm rivals ours! It was so awesome! This is the time of year I miss my family the most — when I would have spent days with them over the Thanksgiving and Maine State Ballet’s Nutcracker production. I loved hearing from members of the orchestra how beautifully my cousin was dancing — but my heart hurts.

December – A whirlwind of preparation for our schools very first Upper School Music Concert. Realizing that I am part of a team, and seeing how all of the parts make a tremendous whole was incredible. The concert itself was a huge success, and I am preparing for a new semester.

Those are the highlights.

If you have followed me from the beginning, you may notice that there isn’t much mention of my own songwriting, or performing. The school year was a tremendous adjustment. And there has been a battle of emotions — fear and humility, and fear and pride, and fear and strength … but the common thread, as you see, has been fear.

In 2018, I will be recording and releasing my first project.

In 2018, I will stop hiding in obscurity, and I will be open. About my plans, my hopes, my dreams, my life, and my faith.

In 2018,  I will treat the video camera like the inanimate object that it is, and stop giving it power over me. (Translation — videos for my YouTube channel.) I will probably also tell you where to find that channel.

In 2018, I will probably still be afraid. But I will believe, and I will act on that belief.

In 2018, I will remember where my strength comes from, and I will remember that my example is being closely observed by the smaller humans in my home.

I am excited, and not nearly ready —  but bring it on!

Happy New Year!!

The Mind of an Artist . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mind is never quiet-
never still . . .
A hundred observations and thoughts swirl about in
an elaborate dance
that leaves me exhausted
and ready to take the images I see
and craft them into poetry.

But the train of thought is an elusive,
temperamental beast-
susceptible to flowery breezes,
9 year old’s interrogatives,
and then *snap* – – –

it is gone. . .

The inspiration never leaves –
the ideas hang heavy
and deep within my chest
but the moments that bring clarity
are the rare gems–
dirty and uncut
needing the jeweler’s eye,
the master’s vision,
and the heart of the artist
to become the finished product . . .
the marriage of verse and melody.

My mind is never quiet,
my mind is never still . . .

The right song, the right tools . . .

Oh the inspiration that happens when you hear that magical song — the one that fills your heart with hope and joy and peace. For me that song was “He Has Come For Us (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)” by Meredith Andrews. Not only do she and I share a first name, we also both serve in the Harvest Bible Fellowship network of churches. She is one of the amazing worship leaders at the original Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, Illinois.

That song has just made the Christmas season come alive for me. It takes one of my favorite Christmas songs, and adds a beautiful, simple and yet absolutely profound chorus.

“He has come for us this Jesus
He’s the hope for all mankind
He has come for us the Messiah
Born to give us life”

That, paired with a recording device that is easy enough to pair with our computer, and connect to GarageBand and all of the instruments and stuff . . .  It is pretty awesome. I just spent a glorious hour recording and re-recording guitar, and vocal tracks. It is making my dream of an EP seem like it is only an inch away, as opposed to a thousand miles away, like it felt even just last month!

 

When BOLD means driving to the top of a mountain

There were twelve of us crowded into luxurious leather couches, leaning close to hear the wisdom, love and inspiration that oozed out of Christa Wells and Nicole Witt.  Both ladies are established songwriters and performers, and when they pair up in song, chill bumps are always included.

christanicole

In November, a single facebook post got the ball rolling on this magical “Songwriter’s Retreat.” The result was a mixture of lyricists, poets, singers and songwriters of an amazing age spread, gathered together to learn more about the craft.  With the unity of a common faith, the stage was set for true community, the linking of hearts and stories, tears and triumphs.

I drove back down the mountain a different person.

The new me realizes that this dream He planted in me is going to take some real work. Writing the songs is the easy part. (And it isn’t easy.) My word for the year, BOLDperfectly describes the current leg of my journey.

It will take BOLDNESS to BELIEVE that I am enough.

It will take BOLDNESS  to contact people in the industry to find out where to play, and it will take BOLDNESS to strike up conversations with other songwriters.

It will take BOLDNESS to co-write with strangers. And to let those strangers become friends.

It will take BOLDNESS to reach out, to promote myself as an artist, and to try to find the other two missing people for my dream.

It took boldness to send the email that allowed this amazing weekend to be part of my story.

christanicolemere

 

My heart is full, my dreams are front and center, and I am boldly evaluating and preparing, so that I am ready for the next step. Thank you, Christa and Nicole, for offering yourselves to us. We treasure the gift of your music, your voices, and your wisdom.