MISUNDERSTOOD

August 19, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS 

This floral painting of mine was created using black and white watercolors. I am trying to get away from seeing things in black and white, which is my metaphor for extreme thinking. When I expand my mind, I’ve discovered beautiful new shades of tonality.

This floral painting of mine was created using black and white watercolors. I am trying to get away from seeing things in black and white, which is my metaphor for extreme thinking. When I expand my mind, I’ve discovered beautiful new shades of tonality.

Click the blue link to hear audio:

MISUNDERSTOOD-8/18/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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MISUNDERSTOOD

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

You won’t forgive me for that argument

Those words you heard I never meant

Your wounds are raw; too hurt to move on

You say your trust is gone

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I know you’re hurt; I wish you knew

Nothing can change my love for you

You pretend that you’re okay

But this chill won’t go away

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Misunderstood, left with regret

Painful words you can’t forget

I’d take them back, if I only could

 ‘cause now I’m left misunderstood

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The walls you’ve built protect you now

I want to tear them down somehow

Misunderstood, left with regret

Painful words you can’t forget

I’d take them back, if I only could

Instead I’m left misunderstood

My lyrics in progress are always very revealing. I share my lyric drafts even with areas of words scratched out.

I share my lyric drafts, including areas of words scratched out.

Less than two months ago, I wrote about how I transform my emotions into a song. It is something I do unconsciously and is such a blessing to my life.

I must thank my arranger, George for inspiring me to create my newest song “Misunderstood.” It was his encouragement that truly helped birth this song.

I had come to one of our sessions feeling very depressed. I told him how I had gotten into a horrible fight with my oldest son a few days before. George was sympathetic and told me to express my feelings by writing a song – he even suggested that I name it “Misunderstood.”

I happened to have discovered four beautiful chords on my guitar the day before. I shared them with George and he began to play them on his piano. Instantly, my heart was grabbed with the excitement that every passionate songwriter knows. My glorious new song was emerging!

I know you're hurt

It took us several sessions to create an arrangement for this song. Even though it didn’t have lyrics, it wasn’t long before I found the words. I tried to “compose” a beautiful melody but it seemed to have a mind of it’s own. Even when I found what might have been a “better” choice, I sang whatever melody came out of my mouth.

Originally I wanted to sound like Barry Manilow with a modulated last chorus. But I lost my connection to the song, so the electric guitar and drums had to go. George erased the solo/last chorus and we created something else.

George also directed me while recording harmony. I love the harmony on this song because it makes the song even more emotional for me.

Singing is such a pure form of expression. I sang the high notes for the last chorus because it felt like what I needed to do in order to release my pain.

Take it back

Below are more beautiful words from my new friend, Sandra who lives in Denmark. I introduced her on the last post and she wrote this sweet message after I emailed her a recording of “Misunderstood” in progress.

Dear Judy,

It’s late here in Denmark now: 23:43 at night, and it will not be long before I go to bed, and I will rejoice very much to again get a nice letter from you. You must be well and take care of yourself. I think of you so often and send you my light and healing energy from the depth of my heart.

Thanks for emailing me your latest song “Misunderstood.” I really like it; I actually really loved it and have started to sing it a little.

I like to have background music playing while I walk around here and work; it is so nice. Judy, you have to promise me that you will never stop playing or making music; you’re so clever. Your thoughtful lyrics that you sing with your pleasant voice make me cry. Just wait and see – when we suddenly see each other one day, I will cry for hours when you play and sing to me.

You said you wrote the song after an argument with your son, but it can easily be understood as something that happened between a couple in love.

While I listened to the song, suddenly I saw a movie where a woman was driving her car up a mountain road. It was the start of a movie with your song running in the background as film music; it fit perfectly! I certainly believe that your music could be used for film. Your song invokes many feelings and your relaxing voice is like pleasant waves; your music could fit nicely in a love story or a drama.

Thank you, dear Judy, for sharing your life and your art with me. God bless you,

Sandra

We can't undo

B & W Half Lilly B

My son has no idea that I wrote this song. What emerged from our conflict were many feelings related to the divorce that had been suppressed. Even though the chill between us has subsided, his wariness and my regret have exhausted me.

Perhaps that is why my song is so comforting. It transforms my painful situation into something exquisitely beautiful. I can express my regret in a different way, instead of bending over backward to prepare his favorite foods.

Below are more scrawled words of my lyrics in progress for this song. My very first page began as a way to express feelings without concerning myself with rhyming. Those lyrics in progress are intimate and revealing.

It seems like sharing here is the antithesis of being misunderstood.

I feel understood now.

Misunderstood first lyrics

Rose B&W What I said I can't undo

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I HOLD ON

August 16, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

 Last week, I corresponded with a lovely woman in Denmark who found my blog. She sent me this remarkable photo of a butterfly that landed on her windowsill. I will share some of our emails at the end of this post.

Last week, I corresponded with a lovely woman in Denmark who found my blog on the Internet. She sent me this remarkable photo of a butterfly that landed on her windowsill. I will share some of our emails later in this post.

This post title is a line of lyrics from my song “Somewhere I Can’t See.” The wisdom in my song begins with the very first line of:

Everything that I have gone through led me to this place

I like to believe that what makes me a touching songwriter is my ability to use my life experiences – good and bad – as an ingredient for my songs. The inspired place where I want to be is one that was reached because of all the challenges I’ve gone through in my life.

I recently finished a new vocal for “Somewhere I Can’t See.” It has beautiful harmony and the lyrics profoundly speak to me about my life. Here is a link to hear and read more about this song:

Story behind SOMEWHERE I CAN’T SEE

SOMEWHERE I CAN'T SEE

“Somewhere I Can’t See” has two interchangeable lines on the chorus that cause me to cry. They are:

I hold on – to love that’s in my memory

I hold on – to the love that heals me

I named this post “I Hold On” because it refers to several things. I am holding on to hope of finding relief for the physical discomfort caused by my dry eye condition. It has been almost two years since my eye problems began in 2012.

And to help myself feel better, I hold on to memories of how I once felt adored in my life – cherished by my parents and even by my former husband. Even though it was my choice to divorce after a long marriage, I am still experiencing a lot of grief.

Last week I was blessed to receive another assignment from Tillamook. I’m going to be illustrating ice cream sandwiches. In that photo of a box above, are sandwiches made especially for me. They were shipped in that box with dry ice. I was amazed how they didn’t melt sitting at my door for several hours until I got home.

I’m going to be illustrating 4 packages of ice cream sandwiches for Tillamook. Inside that box, were several ice-cream sandwiches made especially for me (they were shipped with dry ice). I was amazed how they didn’t melt sitting at my door for several hours until I got home.

Last week, it was very uplifting when I received a new illustration assignment. It looks like I’ve held on to my art career after all!

But what really helped me was a wonderful exchange with a lovely artist/guitarist from Denmark named Sandra. Her words were a beautiful sign to remind me how inspiring my journey truly is.

I now want to share excerpts of our correspondence below: (Her words are in blue)

Hi Judy,

I cannot stop looking at your artwork. Have you ever been to Europe and Scandinavia (Denmark)? You are welcome to come and visit me! I do not know you, but I feel like I know you through your art.

Hi Sandra, I’ve never been to Europe. Your generous offer touches me deeply. You don’t even know me! I will look forward to meeting you someday. I’m glad you love art. I feel that way about music. :)

Dear Judy,

Yes, you are very welcome to come and visit me in Denmark, and I would like to show you this beautiful country.

I moved here about 1 year ago, because I wanted to live in nature and away from the big city. In Soro, it’s absolutely beautiful with a wonderful lake, forest and beautiful culture. AND YOU ARE WELCOME!

Have a good day, Sandra

Hi Sandra,

I love hearing about where you live. I haven’t really travelled much. I often imagine going to Europe – it fascinates me. Of course, if I visited you our language differences might be frustrating! But music and art are a universal language.

It’s interesting that you see my art as who I am, whereas I feel much more defined by my music. My music tells stories about my life and my singing voice is my fullest expression. To me, my art is something that represents the “ideal,” without any emotion in it. But I’m touched that my art moves you.

I don’t think I’ll be traveling to Europe soon, but I’ll save your email and keep it in mind for the future someday. Thanks for writing.

Judy

Dear Judy,

Thank you for your letter, which made me really happy. I’m glad to hear that you use your music to express your feelings, because it is the meaning of music for me.

You might think there is not much emotion in your art, but I can tell you that when I saw your artwork I was immediately in a magic place. I found myself suddenly in the middle of a fairytale. Therefore, can I allow myself to say that I know you through your art?

I am otherwise very critical and it’s not easy to impress me, but when I am touched and someone makes a difference to me, I want to let them know.

My door will always be open to you and have a nice weekend!

Sincerely, Sandra

I appreciate how you’ve opened the door for me. And I even have a song named “The Door!”

Best of luck, Judy

Dear Judy,

I listened to your song “Beside Me Always.” I heard the song again and again and I cry and cry and feel the Universe in your heart; your pain is huge.

I am so sorry about what happened to your son, Jason, because he left you so early. It is a great tragedy when parents have to bury their own children – I do not think that any pain can be greater. I’M SO SORRY, BECAUSE OF YOUR SON!

Many people might say: “It was 22 years ago and time heals all sorrow,” but I know that you feel it as if it happened yesterday. Why? Because I know the pain in your heart hurts and it NEVER goes completely away!

I understand that you express your feelings through the music – YOU DO IT VERY WELL, BECAUSE YOU MADE MY CRY. I COULD FEEL YOUR LOVE TO YOUR SON IN YOUR SONG – I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT YOUR SON IS PROUD OF YOU!

I’d like to send you a little package with some stuff from Denmark, so you get a taste Scandinavia. Sincerely, Sandra

I just savored your message, Sandra. When I get a message like yours, it is such fuel for my journey and where I want to go with my message and music.

Of course, I remember the anguish of losing my beloved child – that will never go away. But the pain has eased and I really believe in sharing my hope of healing. When I sing, I release all of my pain. To connect my music to another person far across the globe is such a wonderful thing to treasure.

So I thank you!!! As far as tasting your food – I couldn’t refuse that. But I also hope you’ll allow me to share a CD of my music with you, too! Have a wonderful day.

Judy

Dear Judy,

Thank you so much for your courtesy and your kindness!

My English is so bad, because I’ve never read it in school! I learned only Russian throughout all school years (because I come from a communist country). Therefore, I am so glad that you can understand when I write something, because I know that I express myself miserably in English. Thank you for understanding!

Thank you so much because you want to share your CD with me, it is a great honor for me, and I look forward to it, thank you! I walked around my apartment and then I found myself singing your songs!

J U D Y! You are amazing!

My door will always be open to you! And I am also pleased to hear the song if it is on CD.

When I said I would send some things to you so that you can “taste” them, I did not think pizza, but more some real Danish things like: Danish beer, Danish amber, Danish design, Danish porcelain, Danish glass, HC Andersen books, etc.

Sandra

Sandra, your English seems to be working fine to me. Don’t put yourself down. It’s amazing how you have expressed yourself so beautifully in ways that go beyond language. :)

It’s sweet of you to mail me something from your country. It will really entice me to visit you. I would suggest you only mail light things; nothing heavy is necessary. And since I don’t drink any alcohol, there’s no need to send beer. (I don’t like the taste – that’s why!)

Good luck with all that you do, Sandra. Stay well and thank you for giving me a big smile. I love imagining you singing my songs. I can share chords with you if you’d like, since I know you also play guitar.

Judy

Dear Judy,

While I sat here and wrote an email to you today, a giant butterfly flew in through the window. I hurried to take a picture with my IPhone. See how nice it is!

I believe it is a message from the sky to you and me – I saw a butterfly like it on your Youtube video, as I was listening to your music. It was such a fantastic experience.

Sandra

Wow! Sandra, that is so strange. I was just working on an image of a butterfly to add to my blog. It’s not the exact same one – but it’s incredibly coincidental.

Butterfly-Lacewing

Judy, Oh … my … God!  It’s incredible! Is it really possible that this is happening? WOW!

I am quite touched, because when the butterfly flew into my room, I could feel “something special in the air” – something divine, and I got up from the E-mail I was going to write to you and took a picture. It was a very special experience … and then you write that you were going to paint a butterfly, which looked very much like the one that came to visit me :)

I am sending a picture of the butterfly! Please, look only at the butterfly and not at my unwashed windows :)))

I am very happy now! Thank you, dear Judy. People say in Denmark: “There is more between heaven and earth than you think!”

THANK YOU FOR A BEAUTIFUL DAY, JUDY!

Love, Sandra

Greek Lineup Tilamook

Hi Sandra,

Yesterday was a special day in many ways. First of all, your messages touched me deeply.

Then in the afternoon I received a very large art assignment that took me by surprise. I thought my career as an illustrator was over because I didn’t have much work for years. But now that I’ve gotten divorced and could really use the income, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful client named Tillamook. They always are wonderful to work with. I’m going to be illustrating ice cream sandwiches for them.

I hope you’re having a nice day. Thank you again for all of those beautiful butterfly pictures.

Take care,

Judy

Dear Judy,

Thank you for your letter, which makes me happy. I am so glad to hear that you’ve got some work. I know it is not easy when you are divorced. I have been divorced since 2004 and know how hard it is to pay all the costs alone.

What a good sign you got with the butterfly – it was quite unique, wasn’t it? I’ve never seen a bigger and more beautiful butterfly in my life! And it flew into my room while I wrote to you – it is so obvious that it was for you! I am so grateful to heaven, to give us signs all the time. Thank you, Lord! And thank you, Judy, for you’ve made my life richer and you’ve made me happy with your art and music.

I like to listen to your songs when you sing and play all alone, without any other music. That way I am not distracted by other tones; I concentrate only on your guitar and your voice. Every time I hear you sing, I cry … when I listened to your song with other instruments, I had goose bumps, but I did not cry because I could not get into the depth of your heart. I was distracted by the other music!

I love your seashell song, it is so beautiful … I feel like going to the beach so I can put my feet in the sand, listen to the sea and sing your songs while I look at the sun going down … my fantasy! I look forward to hearing from you again.

All the best, Sandra

butterfly at the window 1

© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 3

August 12, 2014

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  I share my “castle” with my two sons. I’m glad my youngest son put up this sign after breaking a jar, but he could have done a better job sweeping up the glass.

I share my “castle” with my two sons. I’m glad my youngest son put up this sign after breaking a jar, but he could have done a better job sweeping up the glass.

At the age of 54, I am navigating a new life as a single woman.

I live in the same two-bedroom coop where I grew up and both of my parents passed away in the last few years. I moved here shortly after I separated from my husband in 2012. I was married for 31 years and my divorce only became final a few months ago.

At one point, all three of my children lived with me. There were definitely challenges having one bathroom, which was something I dealt with when I was growing up. For my children it was a little more challenging since their former home had four bathrooms.

My two sons who live with me are 17 and 23. My 20-year-old daughter moved out to live with friends six months ago and thankfully, we are still very close.

It was a huge adjustment for my children when I separated from my former husband. Now that two years have passed, I’ve seen a lot of progress toward healing for them. But occasionally there have been setbacks and difficult moments.

Anger was an emotion that was taboo for me – in my marriage and while growing up. Sometimes, I’ve felt underlying anger from my children because I hurt their father. All of this has been painful.

With my divorce, I was the “perpetrator” and my husband was the “victim.” I carry guilt because I knew my husband had no idea that I would end our marriage after so many years.

My children are not interested in much of what I’m doing and as far as I can tell, that’s pretty typical of kids their age. Yet many times my children have expressed that they hate my music and writing because it caused me to leave their father.

And if my children knew that I called myself a Princess and their father a Dragon – it might upset them even more!

My illustrations adorn all of the Del Monte pickle jars. I'm only sharing this because my son broke a jar of them in the kitchen.

My illustrations adorn all of the Del Monte pickle jars. I’m only sharing this because my son broke a jar of them in the kitchen.

I’ve tried to be the “Queen of the Castle” where I am.

A few months ago when I felt overwhelmed, I encouraged my youngest son to spend time with his father over the summer break. With both my sons gone now on a three-week trip, I am a Queen on vacation!

There aren’t any crumbs and messes for me to complain to them about. The toilet seat hasn’t been left up. And the best part is not hearing the cacophonous sound of shooting from their video game system.

But I do miss their smiles and sweet love. My sons are wonderful men – tall and strong. My youngest son is over 6′ tall so it’s hard for me consider him my baby anymore.

Since I’ve discontinued taking hormones, my emotions have calmed down. Having privacy and quiet time at home has also been like medicine for me; I feel very peaceful. I am determined not to allow my emotions to build up like they did a few months ago.

For this Princess post, I’ve decided to share a story about how I’m not an ordinary Princess because I don’t believe royalty has to kill cockroaches.

Crown & Roach

My roach story starts when I was home with my 17-year-old son about two weeks ago.

We had just finished dinner and he began yelling to me from his room. I was editing music and had my headphones on. It was so annoying and I wasn’t going to yell back. The Princess decided to ignore him unless he actually got up and came into my room.

But in the distance I could hear him still calling me. I slipped off my headphones and said in an exasperated voice, “Is this an emergency? I can’t hear what you’re saying and if you want me you’ll need to come to my room.”

I had just raised my voice and wished I had ignored him better. And because he continued calling me, I became even more irritated.

I probably was annoyed with him also because when I stood up, my foot hurt. It was because I stepped on a piece of glass in the kitchen earlier in the afternoon. He had dropped a jar of pickles before I came home and the house smelled like dill when I walked in.

This was not a castle for a Princess by any means!

I tromped down the hall to his room. “This had better be an emergency,” I announced as I came into his room.

My son was sweating and darting all around me. “Mom! You won’t believe this large cockroach I saw. Will you help find it and kill it?”

After lecturing him about true emergencies, I said, “No! I’m sure there’s plenty more where it came from. Deal with it!” My large son needed to grow up.

I walked out of his room and no sooner had I sat down at my computer, there he was again. I sighed.

He clearly wanted to be with me. I gave up trying to do anything – it was time for me to focus on him and for us to hang out together.

My son sprawled across my bed and told me all the reasons why roaches grossed him out. And the one he saw was so big that he couldn’t possibly go to sleep tonight. I listened to his fears and reassured him; the roach wasn’t going to hurt him.

As he talked, I was glad he had socks on. Sometimes, he brushed flakes of skin from his feet onto my bed.

Finally, he went out of my room and I put my headphones back on. My peacefulness lasted about five minutes. My door flew open. He was panting and begging me to come to his room to rescue him. 

I was resigned as I followed him.

And there it was!

It’s antennae bobbed up and down. It was about 4 inches long and I’d never seen a roach that big. It was on the wall close to the ceiling. I wondered how I could kill that monster without squishing its guts everywhere.

My son was giddy with excitement to know that I was going to take care of it. After a moment of thought, I gave orders. I told him to bring me one of his big shoes and a broom. As he raced to bring me the items, I kept my eye on the roach.

When he handed me a light canvas shoe, I said, “Come on! I need a heavier one to smash it!”

Then I said, “Go get my cell phone and take a picture of this.”

He snapped a single picture of me. Later on, I wished there were some close-ups – but of course, that was risky because it might have zipped away.

I took a deep breath and lifted the broom. My son snapped, “Wait!” He pulled his bed away from the wall so I’d have more room.

I eyeballed the black insect and then swung my broom at it. It fell right off the wall and disappeared.

Who was I kidding? I knew those bugs were fast. Just as I was thinking how I wasn’t swift enough, I saw it on the floor flailing on it’s back.

I calmly took my son’s big shoe and smashed it.

My son began dancing with relief. It was worth everything to see his face.“

Did you see how big it was? I wasn’t exaggerating, was I?” he shouted.

I smiled and told him to get me a paper towel. As I wiped up the bug, my son confessed that the worst part about killing bugs for him was the spurting sound they made when they were squished. I was so proud that I killed it and the wall was still clean.

I dropped the roach’s remains into the toilet and flushed. I made sure the lid was down in case it clawed its way out. That had actually happened to me once before with a roach I thought was dead. Remembering it was enough to give me nightmares!

I was so glad I gave my son the attention he demanded that night. We bonded over this.

I was definitely a hero and not an ordinary Princess!

Be assured – this is a Photoshop re-enactment!

Be assured – this is a Photoshop re-enactment!

Well it turned out that this story has an even better ending than the one of me simply killing a roach.

The next day, my son came home from school and said, “Mom, you’re not going to believe what happened in one of my classes today.”

I listened and tried to keep a straight face when he told me there was a cockroach on the wall in his classroom. It turned out that his teacher was also afraid of roaches. And it was a male teacher, which I found humorous.

My son said, “He went out of the room because it bothered him so much.”

I asked, “So then what happened?”

My son beamed and said, “I saved the day.”

I grinned and replied, “Really? What did you do?”

He said, “Oh, mom! It was so easy – I just took my shoe off and got a broom to knock it off the wall. Then I smashed it, picked it up with a paper towel and threw it away.”

I could hardly believe it.

This was just one of those sweet parental moments – when you realize how much your child has truly learned from you!

There’s something about me holding a broom that is reminiscent of a witch. But I’ll save that thought for the next story.

There’s something about me holding a broom that is reminiscent of a witch. But I’ll save that thought for the next story.

© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MY DREAM – PART 2

August 11, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

MY DREAM

Click the blue links below to play my song:

MY DREAM #2-Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger 

MY DREAM #2 Karaoke & Guitar-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

Click the link below to read about and hear my first version of this song:

STORY BEHIND MY DREAM-PART 1

MY DREAM

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

 

Like the sky after sunset my dream still glows

A river of warmth, through my body it flows

Filling my soul, it makes me whole

Helping me cope, my dream gives me hope

 

Like shade in the summer, a misty spring rain

My dream is so soothing; it heals all my pain

Making me sure, then I’m secure

I may be low, but I’ll never let go

 

My dream it feels so certain; I wait behind a curtain

One day I’ll face the world’s embrace

And the message I’ll bring with joy when I sing

My dream is where I’m going; it’s all about my knowing

With courage I grew and I know it’s true

My dream will get me through

 

I may be stressed, but my dream has me blessed

One day I see I’m soaring free

 

My dream I hold so tightly

In darkness it shines brightly

All my desires, my dream inspires

My dream will save me; the gift God gave me

My dream is where I’m going; it’s all about my knowing

With courage I grew and I know it’s true

My dream will get me through

My dream will get me through

 

Recently, my apartment has been quiet because my two sons are on a three-week trip with my ex-husband.

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It has been interesting as I adjust to the solitude; I’ve been writing a great deal. Soon there will be a lot of new songs and stories added to my blog.

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At this time, I want to share a new song arrangement for my song “My Dream.” A lot of my upcoming stories will reflect more of my feelings surrounding dreams.

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Like shade in the summer

Currently, two themes that are constantly tangling in my life are: Letting go and holding on.

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I want to hold on to memories, hope, love and dreams.

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I want to let go of: judgment, criticism, guilt and sorrow.

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My dream shines brightly

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I did write some new chorus lyrics for this second version and they are those words above. This is now only the second time where I’ve used the word “God” in my lyrics. It is because I have found myself to be far more spiritual and that has begun to emerge in my writing.

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My dream definitely illuminates the darkness in my life. Unfortunately, my eyes have continued to be a curtain for me.

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I love to dream of when that curtain opens someday.

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Like the sky

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Now I want to share an exchange of comments between Sandra Blake Callahan and myself. Sandra, who is terminally ill, wrote a beautiful post on her blog aptly named “Dare We Dream.” Clicking on it is a link to her story.

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Dare We Dream?

2014-08-11_13-29-29

Oh, Sandra – today I sang a new version of a favorite song of mine named “My Dream.” You were in my mind. Really, dreaming is such a beautiful way to go to places that uplift me. It keeps me smiling and peaceful. I wish that for you always.

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2014-08-11_13-30-04

Judy, I studied the Holocaust while in college. I did not fully understand how people who lived were able to go on with their lives. Then when I read
 the book “Man’s Search For Meaning,” it simply validated that there are some things that can never be taken from us. When we stop dreaming, hoping and finding meaning in our life – we are not really living. I cannot imagine where one finds the strength to do these things when suffering the loss of a child. You inspire me.

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2014-08-11_13-29-29

Your beautiful words always touch me deeply Sandra. You are so right about finding meaning from life. Somehow, I was able to transform my suffering into meaning. I will always be sad that my son died, but I’m not defined by his death anymore. I have chosen to look at love as my salve – it started out as love for my surviving children and now I’m learning that loving myself enough to follow my dreams is what matters.



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2014-08-11_13-30-04

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Love can do so much for us if we let it.

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MY DREAM and butterflies -

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MY JOURNEY IN SIGHT – PART 6

August 4, 2014

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Spider and the Eye

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Sometimes, if feels like my eye problems have taken over my life. I seldom perform with my guitar anymore and prefer to be in my apartment. My interest in traveling has disappeared.

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A few weeks ago, I described my struggle with eye pain and subsequent depression to my hypnotherapist, Connie. I said, “It’s like I’m wrestling with a treacherous white spider.”

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I told her how when I had the upper hand (where I had distracted myself from the pain), I stood on top of that ugly spider and shouted, “You are not going to wreck my life!”

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And then there were those other moments.

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I could see myself lying prone on the floor held by the painful grip of that “white spider of sadness.” I was discouraged and overwhelmed; overcoming it felt hopeless. And I felt like I was a failure for not being able to accept it.

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Connie listened thoughtfully and then she said, “Let’s talk about acceptance. How would you define it?”

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The first thought that came into my mind had to do with grief. Healing from my son’s death took a long time and was certainly the hardest thing I ever had to accept. I said, “My struggle with grief was much harder than this. For years I was angry and certain my life was ruined. But with healing, I have truly accepted that he is gone and will never grow up. I’ve chosen to look at him as my angel. I can now see that his death didn’t ruin my entire life and even had a positive affect upon me in some ways.”

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Then I mentioned a few words that came into my mind to define my acceptance. They were: resignation and surrender. I battled grief for many years and with my surrender came peace.

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Connie’s eyes were bright when she said, “Those are interesting words to define acceptance. But surrendering sounds like giving up. Is it possible you can’t accept your eye pain because you still are searching for a remedy that might help you? If that’s the case, why would you want to surrender?”

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I took in her words and grinned.

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It was another one of those moments where I wanted to give her a huge hug.

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She was absolutely right!

This butterfly is a Rose Swallowtail. I love to add my own artwork to stories on my blog.

This butterfly is a Rose Swallowtail. I love to add my own artwork to stories on my blog.

Although I was miserable, my dry eye doctor told me I had to wait several months before making an appointment with her in order to give the current remedies time to take effect.

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I was on hormone replacement therapy and began using a testosterone compound cream on my eyelids. I prayed these two things would help alleviate my dry eye pain. The theory behind taking hormones is that menopause causes dryness.

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Unfortunately, I suffered even more because the testosterone cream I rubbed on my eyelids caused a burning sensation in my eyes. I diligently tried not to rub my eyes but it didn’t make any difference. My eyes were on fire!

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It became difficult waiting to see my doctor. I plodded through my days trying to distract myself from the pain and fogginess in my eyes.

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Then I became extremely emotional and edgy. When I had a blow-up with my son where I was shrieking at him, it was really out of character for me. I was always able to hold my emotions in check and although I wanted to express myself more now – flying off the handle was not my style.

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Sunset 3

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I had been taking hormones for 2 ½ months. It was clear they weren’t helping and perhaps were actually contributing to my moodiness. I decided to discontinue them. I still used the testosterone cream every night, as well as Restasis eye drops, compresses and eyelid wipes.

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Finally my eye appointment arrived. I was determined to convince this doctor to give me a referral for serum tears. It wasn’t simply that my HMO would pay for it – it was because having those tears made from my own blood was a complicated process. I knew a woman who travelled to several far away locations to get them because they made such a difference for her.

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When my doctor came into the room, she was very serious. This dry eye specialist was very professional and I could tell she cared even though she didn’t smile.

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I updated her on the regimens I was following. Ironically, tears streamed down my cheeks when I shared how my life was horribly affected by my dry eye condition.

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I became very emotional when I said, “I’ve fallen to the ground three times since I last saw you. It wasn’t because of my vision. It was because my eyes hurt so much that I can’t really open them to see where I’m going.”

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I began sniffling and said, “I wish I could have seen you sooner. I’ve been waiting months for this appointment!”

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After she examined me she said matter-of-factly, “I’m going to try something on you today that has helped some of my other patients.” My curiosity piqued – what was she going to do now?

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Spider and the Eye B&W

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She asked me to rest my chin and press my forehead against a large piece of equipment. Then she opened a bag of tools that held needles and tiny tweezers. My heart pounded as she explained how she was going to open my tear glands and squeeze out the clogged oil.

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She began by poking my upper and then lower lids repeatedly with a sharp tool. She said, “I can see your oil is very thick. If this helps, you can come back again and I’ll do it more.” All I could think of was how I wanted to run away forever from this hospital!

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I flinched with every sting. As she worked she also pinched and squeezed my eyelids; I was gasping and hoped it would be over soon.

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My eyes were sore and dripping as I walked to my car. I prayed it would help. But as I drove home, I was elated.

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It was because she agreed that I could get the serum eye drops. Within a week, I would be receiving the information for them.

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Eye on Facebook

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I subscribe to a support group for dry eyes on Facebook. There are approximately 150 members and most everyone is going or has gone through so much of what I have. Many members bemoan how nothing the doctors gave them helped, but occasionally someone mentions a miraculous moment of relief they found.

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About six months ago, I asked if anyone on that forum knew about serum tears. No one replied or mentioned using them. That told me that it was definitely a tough remedy to obtain. But a “friend of a friend” spoke to me about them and I definitely wanted to get them.

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After my recent appointment, I wrote an update about my eye condition on this site. I ended my update with these words:

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For me, the worst thing about this condition for is depression. I don’t want to live this way for the rest of my life and it gets me down. I try to stay hopeful and will certainly share how those serum tears work once I get them.

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After I wrote my update, I received this comment:

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Judy, my ophthalmologist told me about what you’ve described and said this: “Doctors USED to take needles and open up the glands and then express the clogged oil but they found out that it did damage to the oil glands so that isn’t done anymore.

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And then that same day, there was a post from a woman who had used the serum tears. She wrote:

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I just wanted to share: For the last five years I’ve suffered terribly with severe dry eyes. Autologous serum eye drops gave me my life back. I’m not exaggerating. It was mentioned by the fourth doctor I saw as a last resort. It should have been at the top of the list.

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Here were more comments that followed her post: (my words are black and bold)

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Why are doctors so hesitant to try them? Do they have a lot of bad side effects?

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They don’t. Over and over, doctors kept pushing the pharmaceuticals even after I explained that they didn’t help and caused extreme irritation. This is what happens with medical treatments that are proven BUT have no pharmaceutical company to promote them – doctors don’t hear about it. The serum drops changed everything. I’m so glad I didn’t give up!

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I believe it’s mostly just lack of familiarity. Doctors don’t read the studies so they aren’t aware how good serum drops are for healing the ocular surface, nerve damage repair etc.

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I was ready to pluck my eyes out. I’m not exaggerating. It’s only been a week and I would say there has been at least a 25 percent improvement. My eyes are definitely functioning better. The associated Blepharitis has dramatically improved, as well. I am thrilled that I tried this.

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Well, I have been trying to get my HMO to prescribe them for me. I had to try a lot of useless remedies first but now I’m going to get them soon. I even met and spoke to another woman who told me that they really helped her. So thank you for sharing and I’m so glad you found relief!

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I am so grateful for the wonderful friends in my life. I took this picture to capture a beautiful table set for dinner by two friends who wanted to lift my spirits.

I am so grateful for the wonderful friends in my life. I took this picture to capture a beautiful table set for dinner at the home of a good friend. She and another friend wanted to lift my spirits.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 2

July 31, 2014

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This is a great photo for me to share as a Princess. I am about seven or eight in this picture.

This is a great photo for me to share as a Princess. I am about seven or eight in this picture.

When I began my blog, writing was magical and healing for me from the start. For the first time in ages, I started to see humor in my life. I know that helped me cope with the tremendous stress I had going on at the time.

Perhaps the title of “No Ordinary Princess” has inspired me because suddenly I have many funny things to share.

Taking this photo “re-enactment” made me nervous. That’s the only electronic key left for my car and I can’t afford to drop it!

Taking this photo “re-enactment” made me nervous. That’s the only electronic key left for my car and I can’t afford to drop it!

Last week, I definitely did not feel like a Princess.

I was racing out of my house to meet a friend for lunch and just when I finished using the bathroom and was ready to leave, I accidentally dropped my car key.

My unfortunate timing had the key sailing down the drain precisely at the moment I flushed.

I dropped to my knees to grope into the toilet (pee only), but it was long gone. I still have one more and aside from taking the photo above, I plan to be very careful with it.

Judy in the forest

I’ve gotta look where I’m going!

Being careful is something I really must focus on. Seriously, I’ve fallen a few times recently because when my eyes hurt, I don’t fully open them to see where I’m going.

With humor I also realize that I must watch what I’m doing when I’m text messaging. Sometimes it’s absolutely critical that a message doesn’t go to the wrong person.

The day after losing my key down the toilet, I had an embarrassing experience related to texting. It all began on the day where I planned to record guitar for three of my songs in the afternoon.

I was very much looking forward to it because it had been two weeks since I had recorded anything; usually I recorded song vocals several times a week.

But Darrin (my recording engineer) had been on vacation for a week. When he got back from his trip he had a lot of things to catch up on and was too busy to fit me in.

Finally, he was able to schedule a session with me.

I wanted to be prepared. Whenever I record guitar, I always change my strings. The guitar sounds so tinkly with new strings and that sweet sound lasts for about six hours.

In the morning, it took me about 45 minutes to change my strings. After that, I practiced and kept tuning my guitar.

Changing my strings

Around lunchtime I received a message from Darrin cancelling our appointment; his prior session had unfortunately ran over.

I texted him and begged to know if he could fit me in for even half an hour. He replied:

I’m at a session in Hollywood :( so I’m not at my place. Otherwise I surely would!

As waves of disappointment swept over me, I began to mull over alternatives. I remembered there was another studio I had recorded at six months earlier. It was a little farther away, but that could solve my problem.

I made a phone call to the other studio and even though my appointment was a few days later, I felt better. My guitar strings would still sound okay. I’d have my guitar tracks done and when Darrin had time I could record vocals.

I felt so proud of myself.

I decided to share my good feelings with my therapist, Connie, after texting her to confirm our next appointment. I wrote:

I was supposed to finally record with Darrin today and he cancelled at the last minute. I was so bummed. He’s been too busy to fit me in for 2 weeks. I’m going to record guitar with this other guy on Thursday. That will get me back on track. Empowered!!!!

I yawned and stretched after taking a brief nap. I looked over at my cell phone and horror began to spread through my body. The message I thought I had sent to my therapist had gone to Darrin!

I quickly wrote:

Please ignore my message. It’s pretty funny because I meant to send it to my therapist. I’m having a bad day and accidentally flushed my expensive car key down the toilet.

The truth was I hadn’t flushed the key down the toilet that day (it was the day before), but I put it in my message for effect. All evening I kept checking my phone for a response from Darrin and when there wasn’t one I didn’t sleep too well. Later the next day I decided to send another message. It was:

Question:  Are u ever going to let me come to record again? Sorry about my message yesterday. After being so overworked, I’m that sure wasn’t a nice message u received from me. I would love to sing vocals when u have time. Please forgive me.

A picture of Darrin at the recording console with his dog nearby. She's never in the room when we record, though.

A picture of Darrin at the recording console with his dog nearby. She’s never in the room when we record, though.

EPILOGUE:

Darrin easily forgave me. I was nervous for the next few sessions, but he was especially kind and eager to fit me into his schedule. It turned out that it wasn’t so horrible.

I did go to another studio to record guitar for 90 minutes. My fingers were sore and I came home with a lot of tracks to edit. It probably took about 12 hours of my time to edit the recordings for those three songs.

But when I mixed those recordings in, my guitar had a booming sound. I ended up not using them and had to use another recording. Below are some recent guitar mixes I’ve done:

WONDER WHY Guitar & Karaoke-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

MY DREAM #2 Guitar & Karaoke-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

NO WORDS #2 Guitar & Karaoke-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

I like adding pictures to my stories. Taking a walk every day helps me clear my mind as I listen to the music I’m working on.

I like adding pictures to my stories. Taking a walk every day helps me clear my mind as I listen to the music I’m working on.

A week later, I had dinner with a few friends. The women all laughed when I recounted my story about Darrin and the misdirected text message. It seemed that everyone had a story of their own to share.

My friend Linnae guffawed and said, “Just make sure you look at the name on top before you push send!”

And how ironic that only a day later, I sent a message to Linnae that was meant to go to Darrin. Luckily, it wasn’t anything embarrassing. Linnae wrote back. (Her words are in blue):

Hey you texted the wrong person again. Glad you weren’t talking shit about me. LOL!

I wrote back with:

There is not a shitty thing I could imagine about you except all the crap we’ve both had to deal with!

You are too funny! Be sure to look at sender BEFORE you send. Good thing you’re not into “setting.” Damn auto-correct – I meant “sexting!”

I quickly texted her back while laughing aloud. I wrote:

Thanks for setting me straight. SEXTING sounds like the excitement I need LOL!!

All of a sudden, my eyes opened up and my heart started pounding. I wrote her one more time.

Oops! I thought I sent that last message to the wrong person!!!!

iPhone message

damn auto correct

ThThanks for setting me straight.

© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 1

July 28, 2014

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No Ordinary Princess

The book cover above is one that I illustrated a long time ago.

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Last month, the artwork was finally returned to me after being lost for over 25 years.

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It was found when the publisher, Harper Collins was closing their offices. I’m guessing that someone probably discovered it at the bottom of a file cabinet. For such a long time I only had a slide to work with and now I have the original art to scan instead.

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It is an amazing coincidence how I recently wrote about my song “No Words” and chose that sunflower/butterfly cover image to go with it.

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Only a week ago I finished the guitar and vocals for my newest arrangement of “No Words.” It has intricate harmonies and creating it was very rewarding. The link below is to my song and story:

#444 NO WORDS – PART 2

NO WORDS 2

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I love the title of the book I illustrated called “No Ordinary Princess.”

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That’s because shortly before I separated I started to call myself a Princess. Seeing myself as a Princess allowed me to write feelings I might not have been able to express in any other way.

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I chose that image from my subconscious freely and one thing that I’ve learned from hypnosis is how important it is to allow images, thoughts and words to form without judgment.

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Unfortunately, there is a dark side to my Princess metaphor – the Dragon.

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In the beginning, the image of a Dragon was a metaphor for my ex-husband. Sadly even though he is physically gone from my life, the dragon continues to haunt me. Certainly there are issues related to our children – but it is more than that. I see the Dragon as a metaphor for unhappiness.

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The Dragon also represents my inner critic or judge, which is always there in my mind. Feelings of low self-worth and of living with suppression and criticism for many years plague me. Staying positive has been an inner struggle, especially since I’ve had constant dry eye pain.

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The word judge leads to “judgmental” and that stirs up such negative feelings for me.

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In many ways, I’m so proud of how different I am compared to how I was brought up. I really try to be open-minded and go out of my way not to judge or criticize anyone. My mother was always very sure about everything – there was right and wrong, good and bad and she saw everything as black or white. I do tend to follow that by thinking in extreme ways; I often miss out of seeing possibilities that lie in the gray realm.

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I suffer greatly because my inner critic or the judge in my head is not kind to me. Therefore, although I try to be kind and open-minded with other people, I am very judgmental with myself. That has led me to discover why I need a lot of healing at this time in my life.

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I want to explain why I have discomfort surrounding being a Princess. Writing helped me to understand those feelings, so this has been a great opportunity for me to find insight.

This photo is blurry, but it brings back memories of carefree times when I played my guitar and had many boyfriends.

This photo is blurry, but it brings back memories of carefree times when I played my guitar and had many boyfriends.

Feeling like I was a Princess began during my childhood. My parents adored me and nurtured all of my talents: art, writing and music.

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Before I was married, my future husband also adored me. But everything changed after we were married. I discontinued my music and drifted apart from my close friends; I was very unhappy but chalked it up to my immaturity. I told myself that I just needed to grow up and lose my unrealistic expectations about happiness.

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Even back then, I had a lot of judgment about my feelings. I ignored my intuition and I even stopped keeping my diary because I couldn’t bear to write my true feelings.

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Because I was in such deep denial and couldn’t face the prospect of divorce, I blamed myself for my unhappiness. I did seek out therapy, but everything pointed back to how controlled I was by my mother. I suppressed every thought I could about the lack of intimacy in my marriage.

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My career kept me very busy. I was driven to become successful because my husband seemed unhappy with me. I thought that perhaps if I made more money he would be happier.

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That issue about making money still haunts me. So often, my thoughts related to money become convoluted because my self-worth was tied into it for such a long time.

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It is unfortunate how the image of a Princess can lead me to such a dark place. Once again, black and white comes into my mind with the darkness of the Dragon countered by the enlightenment of the Princess.

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The judge berates me and tells me that I was pampered and did not appreciate my husband’s hard work. I took care of his needs for so many years and this thinking drives a stake right into my heart because of the guilt I carry about ending my marriage.

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My ex-husband would certainly think that I was pampered. I had a housekeeper to help me and he hated waking up to go to work. I always felt so grateful to have flexible hours with my career and appreciated that my husband was reliable and provided for his family.

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But even though I had a housekeeper, I never relaxed. My husband wasn’t happy about the expense and hated the invasion upon his privacy. Having a housekeeper made it possible for me to continue working as an illustrator and when our children were young, I often needed extra help on the weekends when I had large assignments.

This picture is of Jason when he was three. My children always had plenty of art supplies to work with.

This picture is of Jason when he was three. My children always had plenty of art supplies to work with.

I really needed help from the start because our first child, Jason had many health problems. He refused to eat and vomited constantly. There were times when I had to race him to the emergency room once a week due to his heart arrhythmias. 

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Later on we had children with special needs. I needed behavioral help to deal with meltdowns and was constantly going to court against the school district in order to gain help for my children.

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So what truly allowed me to survive was the support that came from Rosa; she worked for our family for over twenty years and my children considered her to be their second mother.

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But my husband wasn’t too happy with her and the animosity between them tore me apart.

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Because the amount of work Rosa had to do was overwhelming, our house was never clean. I wasn’t able to keep up with all the demands from my challenging children; I set my work aside to advocate for their special needs for many years. My husband criticized Rosa to me every time we were together because our house was dirty. He was angry that our children didn’t behave better; that things were constantly in need of repair because our youngest son wasn’t watched more carefully or disciplined.

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I rarely spoke up, except when he picked on our son. There was always underlying tension. It became especially hard when my parents became ill and I brought them to live with us while they were on a waiting list for an assisted living facility.

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It was one of the hardest years of my life. I felt appreciative that my husband “allowed it,” but at the same time his moodiness and anger worried and upset my parents. The guilt and anger that I carried suffocated me.

This picture was taken two years ago. Rosa is still very close to my children and me. She comes over once a week to cook dinner and help out with all the laundry. No cleaning is required from her and she is my family now.

This picture was taken two years ago. Rosa is still very close to my children and me. She comes over once a week to cook dinner and help out with all the laundry. My children always are so excited to see her. She is part of my family and always there for me – as I am for her.

When I began creating music and writing in 2010, I dreamed I’d make a lot of money and become famous. I told myself a story about how if I became successful, my husband could retire from the job he disliked so much and then he wouldn’t be so angry all the time.

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Two years later in 2012, my father was dying and my mother had dementia. I dealt with it alone and was at a very low point. The constant pressure and criticism from him was too much and it began to dawn upon me that I had a lonely existence. I hated his company and could not find any other way to deal with my feelings except through my songs.

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It was my beautiful music that gave me the clarity and courage to continue my journey in a new way.

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I ended my marriage so I could live without the constant stress and suppression I carried for decades. It was ultimately because of self-love and the feeling that I deserved more from life.

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So the true reason I am “No Ordinary Princess” is because I feel that I have something extraordinary to offer the world. I could not have found my courage if I hadn’t been blessed with those gifts that have healed me: my music and writing.

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I reclaimed being the Princess from my childhood.

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As I embrace dreams that I abandoned for many decades while caring for my children, husband and parents . . .

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I do feel like royalty!

Clicking on this makes it larger.

Clicking on this makes it larger.

In looking for an attachment for this post, I found a page from my diary that I wrote at the age of 19. It truly tells my story. The line where I wrote, “Smiling is my favorite habit next to eating and biting my nails” hits me hard. Below is a transcription:

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Life is busy. Is it real? I feel detached sometimes, like a wandering entity put to the test all the time. It’s kind of lonely, too, esp. when I spend my time cheering and pleasing other people all around me who really have no idea what I’m really like. Very few people have ever come close. Parents can come to a certain point – where they know certain parts perfectly and never know others. But in the midst of my stage, which I act upon well during the course of the day – I wonder if I’m feeling. Am I happy? I guess if I’m smiling. Am I sad? I’m not crying. Smiling is my favorite habit next to eating and biting my nails.

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Judy with crossing bars

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© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

TRANSFORMING MY LIFE

July 16, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Peaceful Sky ouline

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For me, being under hypnosis is like drifting through clouds. I’ll hear music, see colors and am totally serene. When I awaken I am very refreshed and energized.

Sometimes I’ll hear my hypnotherapist speaking, but I am not really listening to what she is saying. When a word stands out for me, then I’ll feel a glimmer of awareness.

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Peaceful Sky pastel

Then there are those other times when I’m very alert while in the hypnotic state. I will carry on an animated conversation with my eyes closed. I’m often startled by the amazing revelations I uncover as my subconscious speaks freely.

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Peaceful sky cutout

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Click the blue link below to hear my latest song in progress:

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MISUNDERSTOOD Karaoke in Progress-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

Last week, I was really looking forward to my hypnotherapy session.

I wanted some comfort because I was dealing with the aftermath of a huge blowup I had with my oldest son. He moved out for two weeks and now he was back.

Connie, my hypnotherapist was very supportive as usual. But clearly, I wasn’t nearly as stressed out as I was the week before.

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It was all because of my new song!

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Songwriting

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I had some lyrics scrawled on a sheet of paper and softly them sang to her. After I shared more about my new lyrics, we discussed other ways I could help myself feel better. Soon it was time for hypnosis and I moved over to the chair in the back of the room.

As I was floating peacefully, I could hear my newest song. It played over and over in my mind and moved me to tears with its beauty. Lightly in the distance, I heard Connie speaking. It was then when I heard her say the word transformation.

Now I was listening more carefully. As the word turned over in my mind, I felt compelled to speak. I said, “You know, I love the word transformation. It applies to my life in so many interesting ways!”

With my eyes closed, I rattled off a long list. But what stood out most for me was how I have been blessed with the ability to transform any pain or deep emotion in my life into words and music.

I was smiling as I went back into the dreamy state of hypnosis. My song echoed through my body; it was tenderly stroking my heart as I drifted peacefully before awakening.

I decided that I would write more about that word later on.

Playing Guitar

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trans·form (verb)

trans·formed, trans·form·ing, trans·forms) altering, change something dramatically, convert something to different energy

“My transformation”

I have often described my mid-life turning point as my transformation. It felt like a perfect description of how I became a completely different person when I embraced writing and music at the age of fifty.

There was something so eerie about how different I felt in my own body with that transformation. My eyesight was different and so was the way I walked; even the sound of my own voice had me thinking I was someone else!

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A few years ago, when I presented a rough draft of my story to an editor, she crossed out any place in my story where I had the word transformation; she hated the word and told me it only belonged in a science fiction story.

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So as a replacement I used the words healing and rebirth, but those words could not adequately convey the depth of how I felt as much as transformation did.

Recently, transformation came up in my song: “No Words.” For three years, I sang: “You truly are my butterfly, transforming my life with your first cry.”

It was never an easy word to sing and my arranger, George disliked it intensely.

With the newer version of “No Words” that I recently created, I decided that perhaps it might be time to sing something else with the faster tempo. So I transformed my lyric line to, “You changed my life with your first cry.”

Since having children definitely changed my life, that worked fine for me.

Now that I’ve mentioned my mid-life transformation and the use of transformation in my song lyrics, I want share two aspects of transformation related to my art career.

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COCONUT PUNCH vertical

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“Transformation as an artist”

I transformed my artistic skills when I went from being a watercolorist to becoming a digital artist.

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Ten years ago, I wrote off my illustration career because it slowed to a standstill. I blamed it on the digital age.

I did not easily embrace learning how to use the computer. But I taught myself Photoshop and eventually I could scan and manipulate my images in any way I desired. In addition to becoming a digital artist, I also learned a great deal about working with music on my computer.

The process of learning through experimentation never stops for me.

Transformation happens to be an actual term in Photoshop. I take this opportunity now to share some examples of digital transformation, which I used in my most recent illustration assignment.

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A question I often hear as a food illustrator is: “Why are they hiring you and not a food photographer?”

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That’s a valid question, especially since my final work looks like a photograph.

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So here’s the catch: many times the product I’m illustrating does not exist and cannot be photographed. So I must create something by imagining what it will look like.

I still chuckle with the irony that as a watercolorist my goal was to make everything I painted look photorealistic. Now that I work primarily on the computer, my goal is to make my digital image look like a painting!

But even when I painted, I relied upon photo reference for my renderings.

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When nothing exists for me to photograph, I search instead for something similar to what I’m illustrating. This starting point works well on the computer; I can alter any image with tonal, color and shape adjustment. Photoshop transformation is very important for what I do as an illustrator.

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Below is the exact specification for the Coconut Fruit Punch flavor ice cream bar I just illustrated. My client was Tillamook (A dairy company, known mostly for cheese)

1. Fruit punch (orange, pineapple, cherry) sorbet core, coconut ice cream outer, white chocolate coating (possibly with coconut flakes).

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I went to the market searching to find any kind of coated ice cream bar that was white. I ended up buying one that was white chocolate and vanilla. I also brought home a few boxes of bars with pink centers to resemble the fruit punch sorbet core I needed to illustrate. I would be able to combine my photos.

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Photo Reference

This is my photo before I’ve separated the elements and arranged them into a layout.

I began my process by transforming my photos into a layout.

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Each flavor needed two illustrations; one for the front and the other for the back of the package. On the front illustration, there were ingredients scattered around the bar.

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Below are some of my layouts. The bottom three (G, H and I) represent “Round 2” where one layout was selected and further developed.

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All Layouts Coco punch

Once my layout was approved, I created my illustration by working with colored pencil over a print. Below are examples of my final art:

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Coconut punch bar front

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I also illustrated a dark chocolate raspberry bar.

I also illustrated a dark chocolate raspberry bar.

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY BACK FINAL ART

My abilities were challenged when my client requested another version for the coconut punch flavor. I needed to illustrate this flavor again with a different coating, one that had coconut flakes in it.

I couldn’t buy anything because there weren’t any bars at the market with this kind of coating. But Tillamook was nice enough to send me a dark photo of a prototype bar made in a kitchen at their factory. I was relieved because the light source would work for what I wanted to do.

Bar photo reference

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So now I’m going to share how I transformed my reference.

Transforming the bar

First, I “selected” (Photoshop term) only the bar area. There are many types of selection tools available. On this, I used one called a “magnetic lasso.” It is visible as a black and white broken line and moves around the selected area as indicated above with a black arrow.

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A box appears around the selected area and it allows me to drag it to another place. But that bar coating still needed work and had to be transformed further to fit my layout.

There are many transforming choices available – I chose “warp.” I rotated, flipped and pulled the shape into the dimensions that were closer to the bar I wanted to superimpose it over. Then I lightened it considerably.

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Transforming the bar 2

After adjusting the color, my next step was to apply that layer over the smooth bar. I temporarily changed the opacity level so that I could “see through” the layer, which made it easier to position. But sometimes I will leave a layer slightly transparent for effect.

I refined my combined layers further in Photoshop by using a digital airbrush and eraser. Wallah! I had a bar with a coconut coating!

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Transforming the bar 3

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“I transform my pain into a song”

The best part about Photoshop for me is the “history” tool. Every step of the way (counting back as many as a 100 steps) I can access where I was before and all mistakes can easily be corrected.

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So that leads me to the third part of how transformation is a distinct part of my life.

Even though I do not live with regret as a rule, there are times when I wish I could go back in my life to erase something I’ve said or done. Unfortunately, no tool for that exists that I know of. I’ve chosen to look at my mistakes as an opportunity for learning and changing.

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And for writing a new song!

The process of transforming my pain into music and lyrics is both mystical and magical. It is not a conscious choice either. I hardly ever write lyrics just to write them. I first need to hear music to tell me what my song is about.

I can pick up my guitar with every intention of writing a new song. I’ll experiment to find new chords and nothing sounds interesting. I usually give up when I find myself gravitating to chord progressions I’ve already written.

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It just doesn’t happen unless there is some deep emotion driving me.

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Last week when I was upset about an argument that I had with my eldest son, suddenly I began to hear some very haunting chords that took over my heart.

At the same time that my song started emerging, the situation with my son improved as he and I started talking a little more. Although I was very hurt by what happened, seeing his pain taught me a great deal about how I want to handle my anger differently in the future. I still feel terrible for losing my cool and yelling at him.

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Playing Guitar B&W

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I am thankful for the blessing of my music; it is beyond anything I could possibly describe.

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When I hear my song, I am elevated, my heart is soothed and tears flow from my eyes as I softly hum its melody.

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I’m in awe that something so beautiful can come from the ugliness that preceded it.

--

Original sky

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You won't forgive me

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© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NO WORDS – PART 2

July 11, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Butterfly on Sunflower 

NO WORDS

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Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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When you were born, I can’t explain

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You found a way to ease my pain

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You truly are my butterfly

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You changed my life, with your first cry

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Sometimes there are no words

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There are no words for you

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No words for you; you have given me love

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Given me love, given me love

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I can’t describe, my pain you’ve cured

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I try and I try, there is no word

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You truly are my butterfly

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I sing from my heart this sweet lullaby

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Sometimes there are no words

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There are no words for love

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No words for love that has given me life

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Given me life, given me life

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You truly are my butterfly

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You lifted me up into the sky

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Sometimes there are no words

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There are no words for life

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No words for life that has given me you

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Given me you, given me you

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There are no words . . .

Butterfly Swallowtail

 

 Links to other stories related to this song:

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#203 WHEN YOU WERE BORN, I CAN’T EXPLAIN

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My second arrangement for “No Words #2” can be heard by clicking the blue link below. It has a lot of harmony in it!

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NO WORDS #2-7/31/14 Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger

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I’m very excited to share a new vocal for my first arrangement of “No Words #1.” The link below is to my first part of this story:

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#204 NO WORDS FOR YOU-PART 1

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Singing is an amazing metaphor for so much of my life. With singing I have found my fullest expression and perhaps that is why I love it so much. Lately, I’ve been enjoying singing more than ever.

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What seems to have really helped me was when I let go of the notion that my singing was either good or bad.

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All of my voice lessons have provided me with excellent tools. Now I have given myself permission to sing freely, to make mistakes, try new things and to stop focusing upon singing “correctly.”

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It has made a huge difference. Singing is a pleasure and my resulting vocals are very heartfelt.

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That is exactly how I want to live my life.

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All of my songs teach me many things and are the keys to my insight. Sometimes, I’ll have a revelation when I discover that my song’s lyrics mean something very different from when I first wrote them.

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For the past month, I’ve been working on a new arrangement of an older song named “No Words.”

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When you were born

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Several friends have told me that my first version of “No Words” is one of their favorite songs of mine. It is very sweet and I used to get teary when I sang it.

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I wrote the chorus lyrics for “No Words” in 1978, when I was 18 years old. My words expressed longing for romantic love I hoped to find someday. For 33 years, “No Words” only had 3 choruses and I faintly remembered the lovely lullaby melody for them.

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In 2011, I wrote verses and finished my song. Instead of being a romantic ballad, “No Words” became a rainbow baby song. Now the lyrics were about how I healed from grief when my subsequent children were born.

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I only learned a few years ago that the term rainbow baby is one for a new baby born after the death of a child. 

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At my baby shower for my daughter, this was on the doorway. She was born only 11 months after Jason died.

This sign adorned the door for a special baby shower I had in 1993. My daughter was born only 11 months after Jason died.

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Two weeks ago, I sang a new vocal for my old arrangement as singing practice for the new arrangement.

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It turned out that it was very challenging to find the same vibe I used to have for this song. Perhaps it was because my larger children were stressing me out (17, 20 and 23) that I wasn’t as mushy as I was a few years ago.

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I began to see my lyrics as almost funny. Although I did decide to make a few minor lyric changes on the first verse, I left the rest of the lyrics alone because I didn’t want to destroy the sweetness of my song.

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Sometimes there are no words

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I really do want to write about my insight, though.

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The two lines that bothered me most were: “You have given me love” and “You have given me life.”

My lyrics easily bring back my vivid memories of being pregnant with my daughter shortly after Jason died. I was desperate to find a reason to go on living and truly believed that having another child was a beautiful way to embrace love and life again.

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But when I wrote the verses for my song in 2011, I had not yet faced how unhappy I was in my marriage. My insight is that the longing to fill my empty spaces began before my rainbow babies – with my very first child, Jason.

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I remember feeling unhappy and lonely in my marriage when I was only 27 years old. Because of deep denial and fear, I never addressed the true source of my loneliness. It seemed like having children would change my life and it certainly did.

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I treasure my children and have no regrets – but I do find my insight very valuable.

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Even though my lyrics state that my babies gave me life and love, the greater truth is that my children were gifts from God. They do not belong to me.

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And the true reason I wanted another child after Jason died was that I felt I had so much love to give.

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My youngest son was born in 1996 and he’s now 17 years old.

I’m holding my two rainbow children. My youngest son was born in 1996 and he’s now 17 years old.

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Having children has taught me a lot about love.

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I have learned how deeply I love them and for many years I supplanted my own needs, desires and feelings in order to completely devote myself to them.

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One of the hardest areas of parenting for me has been being firm. I’ve been rather lax about demanding respect and setting boundaries, and only recently I’ve decided that’s far more important than being friends with my children.

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Wanting them to love me all the time came with a high price and it has been very hard for me to change my old habits.

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I still fix my 17-year-old son breakfast and pack his school lunch every morning. He’s been grumbling about having to do “kitchen duty,” but now he’s getting used to it and has been much more helpful about household chores. We’ve had a lot of fights over his attitude, but thankfully he understands now.

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Both my sons had a poor track record with remembering to put the toilet seat down. I found myself frustrated that they kept forgetting all the time.

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I thought it might help if I posted a sign to remind them – but they ignored the sign.

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Then I found a solution! If they forgot to put the seat down, well – I forgot to flush! Yes, it was passive-aggressive and upset both of them, but I loved every moment of it.

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My youngest son wrote the words, “Please, flush!” under my words on the sign even though it was usually his older brother who was the culprit.

My youngest son wrote the words, “Please, flush!” under my words on the sign. I replied in red with my explanation.

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I probably began to ignore my feelings when I was a young child. It seemed much easier not to upset anyone. It started with my parents and extended to my friendships.

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In my teens and again in my early twenties, I suffered when I was hurt by a close friend. Even though I expressed my hurt, it didn’t lead to resolution. From that time on, I decided that I hated conflict with a passion.

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When I became an adult, I made up reasons and excuses to put the blame upon myself whenever I was hurt. I believed I had high expectations of others and it seemed easier to please everyone and do whatever I could to avoid confrontation.

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During grief, I bounced between numbness and anguish. I plodded through life and focused my attention upon taking care of everyone around me. I have called that place Zombieland. In addition, my children had many challenges and I became a fierce advocate for all of them. 

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Expressing my emotions (other than in a song) has been something I’ve never felt free to do in all of my 54 years.

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One of my first posts on this blog was titled “Up and Out.”

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On one hand, I relish the ability to acknowledge my feelings for the first time in my life – to get them out. On the other hand, letting things out has been very scary for me.

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A few weeks ago, my oldest son called me with a request that I felt was unfair and it made me angry. When I told him not to ask me again in an irritated voice (because I had told him before), he criticized me. That was a trigger.

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I found my voice getting louder. Because he told me that I couldn’t be angry, I wasn’t going to put up with it anymore. Then he became even more upset and yelled back at me.

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Our argument escalated and soon I was shrieking at him. For a woman who has avoided conflict her whole life, this episode was unbearable.

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When the call was over, I began crying and shaking. I didn’t know what to do and called a good friend who helped to calm me down.

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The next day, I sent my son a text message expressing love and apologizing for my anger.

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He told me I had betrayed him too deeply to ever be forgiven or trusted again. It seemed to me like everything I had ever done from a place of love was discarded due to my outburst. He moved out.

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Because I have lived with suppression and denial of feelings for most of my life, I gently understand that when something is pressed down, it’s harder to control what comes up. There was nothing about exploding that was helpful for me.

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I’m sad my son doubts that I am the same loving mother I once was. I’m hoping he’ll get over his hurt. At the same time, I’m trying to deal with my own hurt and not suppress it. A few days ago, he moved back in. But things are not the same and I’m hoping all of this will pass.

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As I adjust to many changes since my divorce, I’ve decided that any imperfect behavior is balanced by my willingness to admit my mistakes and apologize. I cannot control whether my son forgives me or not.

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It is forgiving myself that is so difficult.

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You changed my life

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I believe the most important line in my song is the one about butterflies.

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The entire passage goes: “You truly are my butterfly; you lifted me up into the sky.”

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Originally, a butterfly was the metaphor I used to describe how I emerged from the cocoon of dark grief because love for and from my children lifted me up into the sky.

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I love butterflies and have another new insight about this line. I see my children as butterflies and teaching them to fly away has been a huge challenge for me.

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I did not learn about flying from my parents. As a result, I’ve done far too many things for my children that have not been age appropriate. How I wish I had encouraged them to be more self-reliant starting when they were younger!

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Now I want to be a butterfly.

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So perhaps my children are lifting me up to fly after all.

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Into the sky Butterflies I love

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I end my musings about my song “No Words” with more mature insight about love and life.

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My love for my family definitely did help me survive horrendous grief over the loss of my first-born child.

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But it was self-love and believing in myself that truly resulted in healing. The gift that I gave myself to follow my dream comes from a very inspired and blessed place.

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GUITAR AND SMILING

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Sometimes, just like my song’s title – there are no words. I’m not sure what to say to my oldest son who has been avoiding me as much as possible.

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I’m actually at a loss for words to express how sad I am that he was so hurt by me. I still have memories of being traumatized when my own mother yelled at me at the age of 20.

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Perhaps my lesson is that the next time I’m angry, “no words” might be better.

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I have begun to write a new song and I think I will name it “Misunderstood.”

I have begun to write a new song and I think I will name it “Misunderstood.”

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© 2014 by Judy Unger http://www.myjourneysinsight.com.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

WONDER WHY – PART 1

July 7, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

WONDER WHY -

WONDER WHY

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Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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I’m thankful for life but I’ve lived with grief

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Although I am hopeful, I long for belief

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I wish for a way that could explain

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Why life holds so much pain

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I look at the mountains into the blue sky

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I wish somehow I could fly

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Away from sadness, torture and madness

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As I cry, I wonder – why?

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Life can be sweet, we hope and we dream

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‘til tragedy leaves us to scream

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Diseases and death, lives are destroyed

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Prayer vanishes into that void

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I look at the mountains into the blue sky

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Searching for answers before I die

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For those who suffer, the road is much tougher

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As I cry, I wonder – why?

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-God, I want to believe in you, but I just wish I knew

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So much of life seems so unfair

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People are broken and filled with despair

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I look at the mountains into the blue sky

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My doubt is something I cannot deny

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If this was planned, I don’t understand

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God, I cry and wonder – why?

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 My song is “in development.” That means I am still playing around with my vocal and am not set on everything yet. But I’m ready to share it!

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Click the blue link to hear my song:

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WONDER WHY-7/5/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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WONDER WHY GUITAR INS Copyright 2014 by Unger

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Links to other stories about this song:

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#429 HOPING

#430 I WANT TO BELIEVE IN YOU

#432 MY DOUBT IS SOMETHING I CANNOT DENY

#435 FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER

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I had lots of blue sky to ponder in this picture taken eight years ago on a trip with two of my children and parents to Joshua Tree Monument. Unfortunately, my mother fell in the bathroom at night and broke her wrist. We went home the next day.

I had lots of blue sky to ponder in this picture taken eight years ago on a trip with two of my children and parents to Joshua Tree Monument. Unfortunately, my mother fell in the bathroom at night and broke her wrist. We went home the next day.

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My songs always address my emotions and “Wonder Why” is no exception. Certainly, I know I’ve suffered in my life with challenges. But I still wrote my song with others in mind. I do not believe that intense suffering is part of the human condition. My doubtfulness expressed to God in my song is for the awful things that happen in this world, which I cannot grasp.

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I played my song for my good friend, Sonia who is a Holocaust survivor. Even though I value her opinion (she made some helpful suggestions for my song “Take Me Away”), I try to let my songs teach me the best choice of lyrics based upon how I feel when singing them.

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So when I asked Sonia for her feedback, she told me that too many of my lyric lines were detached; she far preferred my lyrics to be about my own feelings. I tried to make those changes, but I couldn’t.

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An example was this line: “People are broken and filled with despair.”

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Whenever I sang the words in a more personal way, (I’ve been broken and filled with despair) my song no longer felt honest. The reason was because although I might have felt broken in the past, my journey since age 50 has been about healing. So I don’t feel that way anymore.

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Sonia also hated the word torture. I thought about changing it. I tried singing “torment” and “sorrow.”

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But I kept the word torture. That word really does best describe for me the rampant horrors that exist in this world.

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what you have planned

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I will begin my story about this song by dedicating it to my good friend, Magda. Our friendship began on a tennis court in a public park when I was in my 20’s and has deepened through the years.

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What Magda experienced when she lost her only child can only be described with the word torture. And she only told me this story many years after I’d known her, after I had lost my son, Jason.

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Magda was a young married woman living in a horrifically oppressive regime in Romania. The dictator at that time was Nicolae Ceaușescu and he ruled Romania with an iron hand; C-sections were forbidden. Magda explained to me the reason and it sounded absurd. Nicolae determined that if a woman had a C-section, she might not have another child and he wanted to populate his country. Therefore, he outlawed them except in the most extreme circumstances.

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That set the stage for Magda’s tragedy. She went into premature labor in the dead of winter. When she arrived at the hospital, she was in terrible pain. There was no pain medication given to her as she labored. But the baby was breech and could not emerge.

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Magda said she wanted to die because the pain was intolerable. Her hands were tied and her mouth was muffled with a cloth as her labor went on for almost a week. She was close to death after so many days tied to a bed in agony.

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Finally, it was decided that she could have a C-section after all. Her child died shortly after.

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She never saw her child.

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She never held her child.

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She was left with nothing but horrific pain, scars and loss.

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i want to believe in you

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But when I wrote my song “Wonder Why,” I wasn’t thinking about that traumatic event in her life. I was thinking how my friend suffers terribly with MS, which she was diagnosed with when she was only in her 40’s.

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Life has not been kind to her.

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The ultimate irony about writing this song for her, is that her situation has me feeling doubtful and wishing I could know why she has suffered so terribly.

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But Magda does not have any doubts.

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Therefore, I include at the end of my story some words from people who I definitely imagine my song touches – those who are angry with God.

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For me personally, my song expresses exactly how I feel. I’m filled with doubts, but I’m still thankful for my life despite that.

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 So now I’ll share some of Magda’s words to tell this story in a different way.

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This picture with Magda and I was taken in 1987 at my baby shower for my first child, Jason. I met Magda five years earlier at a public park in Sylmar, California where we were both playing tennis.

This picture with Magda and I was taken in 1987 at my baby shower for my first child, Jason. I met Magda five years earlier at a public park in Sylmar, California where we were both playing tennis.

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I DEDICATE MY SONG TO A SPECIAL FRIEND, MAGDA

She suffers with MS and at this time is seriously ill.

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On one of my first posts to this blog four years ago, I shared a beautiful exchange with my friend Magda about her belief in God.  #22 OPENING THE GATES TO OUR HEARTS    

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Because I was doubtful of God’s existence, I was very touched when she explained her faith. Magda has had MS (Multiple Sclerosis) for over fifteen years now. Before that, she was very active and an excellent tennis player.

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But unfortunately, her illness has continued to progress.

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Because of my blog and emailing, I became much closer to her when my journey began in 2010. I share an exchange with her below where she shared her memories of Jason with me. (Magda types in capital letters and my replies are in bold.)

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On Feb 1, 2010, Magda wrote:

JUDY, WE’VE KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR 23-24 YEARS AND I LIKED YOU FROM THE FIRST MINUTE …YOU DIDN’T CARE ABOUT MY FOREIGN ACCENT AND POOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE

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YOU INVITED ME TO THE BABY SHOWER, MY FIRST ONE EVER AND THE ONLY ONE…JASON, MY LITTLE ANGEL WAS BORN AND I REMEMBER THE DIFFICULT TIME YOU HAD FEEDING HIM…I BABY SAT HIM ONCE.

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THE WORST PHONE CALL…JASON!!!! HE WAS SO BRAVE BEFORE HIS SURGERY! I REMEMBER THAT MOMENT…I HEAR HIS SWEET VOICE IN MY EARS, AS I HAVE FOR YEARS…AND I CAN STILL SEE HIS ANGEL FACE WITH FRECKLES …I ATTENDED THE FUNERAL, BUT WATCHING THE LITTLE CASKET I CRIED NON-STOP…I LEFT…I COULD NOT WATCH THE LAST PART…

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I DON’T KNOW WHY ALL OF THIS CAME TO MY MIND…I LOST A SON 10 DAYS AFTER HIS BIRTH IN THE HOSPITAL… THEY NEVER EVEN LET ME HOLD HIM…I COULDN’T TALK WITH ANYBODY AND I JUST PRAYED TO GOD TO HELP ME AND HE DID. AND FROM THAT TIME ON, I ALWAYS ASK HIM FOR HELP…

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JUDY, KEEP SMILING…ALL YOUR PICTURES ARE LIT BY YOUR SMILE…IT IS HARD FOR ME TO FIND THE WORDS TO SAY HOW MUCH I LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU.

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MY LOVE TO YOU, MAGDA

P.S. I TYPE WITH ONE HAND BECAUSE MY LEFT ONE DOESN’T MOVE TOO MUCH.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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On February 2, 2010, Judy Unger wrote:

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Dearest, dearest Magda, It has been 18 years since Jason died, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Your words about his freckle face create tears because sometimes I can’t believe he was real. To know that you still remember him – his voice, his face – it means so much. Thank you for bringing Jason back to me for a little while this morning.

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I deeply wish you could have held your little son (and of course, that he would have lived!) He will always be a part of you.

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I love you so much,

Judy

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Mountains and sky

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I look at the mountains

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Two weeks ago, I wrote to Magda. Her quality of life now is very poor. She requires nursing assistance and is often in bed. She cannot see well and is usually suffering with terrible pain.

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Hi Magda,

I dedicated my most recent song to you.

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I haven’t heard from you in awhile and just wanted you to know you were in my thoughts. I always think of you and pray you are not suffering.

Love, Judy

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DEAR JUDY, THANK YOU SO MUCH MY DEAR FRIEND, I DON’T FEEL WELL; MY SPINE IS GETTING WEAKER AND IT’S HARD FOR ME TO SIT IN THE WHEELCHAIR. I AM FIGHTING ANOTHER UTI. IT IS MORE DIFFICULT IN THE SUMMER TIME. I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR YOUR SONG….

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Oh, my friend – I am so sad to hear you’re dealing with even more pain. Hopefully, the UTI will clear up soon.

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Magda, when I wrote my newest song “Wonder Why,” all I could think of was what you go through on a daily basis. As I sang the words, “For those who suffer,” I thought about how your suffering is completely unfair and awful.

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I’m going to mail you a CD so you can hear my song expressing those feelings and dedicated to you. I miss you so much and wish you would allow me to come and visit you.

Love, Judy

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OH JUDY, MY SWEET FRIEND, I RECEIVED YOUR CD TODAY! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SENDING IT TO ME!!!! LISTENING TO YOUR SONGS AND HEARING YOUR BEAUTIFUL VOICE ALLEVIATES MY PAIN. I THANK YOU SO MUCH WITH TEARS IN MY EYES.

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I RE-READ YOUR CARD…I WISH I COULD HUG YOU, TOO. YOU HAVE A SPECIAL, SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART…

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I AM SO SORRY I CANNOT SEE YOU OR ANY OF MY FRIENDS, I AM TOO WEAK AND I TRY TO REST AS MUCH AS I CAN AND PRAY.

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I CANNOT CALL MYSELF A RELIGIOUS PERSON, BUT I AM A TRUE BELIEVER. WE NEED TO BELIEVE IN OUR HEARTS. I ALWAYS THANK GOD FOR EVERY MINUTE WHEN I’M WITHOUT PAIN.

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YOU ARE VERY SPECIAL, SO GIFTED, AND SO TALENTED – WITH A GREAT HEART. THAT YOU ARE AFTER SO MUCH IN YOUR LIFE – YOU ARE STILL SWEET…HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? GOD IS THE ANSWER.

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I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART, MAGDA

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This picture was taken eight years ago. For Magda, despite her with suffering, prayers never “vanished into the void.”

This picture was taken eight years ago. For Magda, despite suffering, her prayers never “vanished into the void.”

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Not too long ago, I introduced a woman I correspond with on a grief forum named Sammi.  #434 HOW IT FELT WHEN YOU WENT AWAY – PART 2    

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She lost her son a year and a half ago. I want to share a recent exchange with her in regards to God and grief. My words are in bold and hers are in blue.

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Dear Sammi, I was just thinking of you again because of a message a woman wrote on a Facebook grief site. You are not alone. Below is what this woman wrote to express her agonizing pain and isolation:

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Much to the chagrin of other people in my life; I wear a mask, I am not okay, and my life is not what it should have been. I suffer every day with this grief that no one can see because I don’t want to be viewed as weak. I have never been weak. To those of you in my hometown, my family, people I have called friends for years; why are you not here for me? I have been a wreck for 4 years 6 months and I am lonely and hurting. All I have had are Internet hugs from mothers and fathers who have lost their kids too…I HURT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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YOU sit and imagine losing your child at whatever age you want, imagine seeing that lifeless body and hurting beyond anything you could ever imagine, knowing God is in control and you will only see that baby you loved, poured everything you had into that child all their life and then BAM! They are gone; you can’t see them again until God decides HE is ready for you to come home….

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Judy, this woman sounds like me. Her pain comes off the screen. I agree with her.

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Sammi, I’ve described my grief as an amputation of my soul. There is no anesthetic and it is permanent. No one can see our amputation. Because it is invisible, there is little sympathy as times goes by. I found that usually people who also have amputated souls offer the most understanding.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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The Internet grief forum where I met Sammi is a general one. It’s for all kinds of loss: parents, children, siblings and spouses. I remember being “grief-centric” for a long time because I felt that the loss of my child was worse than anyone else’s loss. But thankfully, I no longer dwell in that place.

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On this grief forum, I’m often touched by the way so many people reach out to each other no matter what their loss was.

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Below is a message that another member wrote to Sammi:

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Sammi,

I am so, so sorry for your loss. I cannot even imagine losing a child and to be honest would not ever want to try to imagine your heartache right now. Thank you so much for taking the time to bring me words of comfort; you are a good example of strength and love.

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Maybe this is not the best time for jokes, but I recently told my sister when she spoke to me about God that God wasn’t on the top of my list of people I wanted to talk with because everyone I love leaves me for him!

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In all seriousness I’ve never attempted prayer so often in my life. I will add you and your family to my ongoing ramblings with my higher power. Tammy

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Tammy, what a wonderful way to think of God! I’ll admit that I have been very angry with him and have not thought kindly about him/her lately. Your statement has put that all in a different light . . . “everyone I love leaves me for him.” Somehow, that makes it easier.

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Thank you.

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Sammi

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I think about life

© 2014 by Judy Unger http://www.myjourneysinsight.com.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

IT’S NOT MINE

June 30, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Kim getting ready to sing

These pictures are of my voice teacher, Kimberly Haynes. She came to the studio where I record in North Hollywood to sing my song “Hang On” for me.

My post title is a line of lyrics from my song “Hang On.” Below are links to stories about that song:

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HANG ON-PART 1

HANG ON-PART 2

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Four years ago, I was a fifty-year-old woman who was very excited about having music again in my life. After not singing for thirty years, I enrolled in a private vocal coaching class at a public park.

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My teacher’s name was Peaches Chrenko. I told her that the reason I was singing again was because I wanted to give my original songs the best voice I could. For most of my life, I did not consider myself a good singer. I imagined that one day a professional singer could do far more justice to my songs.

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Peaches explained to me that there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t sing my songs. But I could still have others sing my songs because both were beautiful possibilities. I’ve never forgotten what she said.

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It turned out that the more I sang, the more the connection within my heart blossomed. I soon realized that I loved singing.

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A year later, I hired Peaches to record vocals for two of my songs for me. The experience was not what I had expected, though it wasn’t because she didn’t do a great job. It was just so hard for me to accept her different phrasing and melodies for my songs – it felt like it wasn’t my song anymore. Later on, I actually incorporated some of her ideas into my singing and really benefitted from her interpretations.

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I have no illusions that my voice is going to lead me to commercial singing success.

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My dedication to singing is completely driven by a desire to fully express my feelings. Singing is the one area of my life where I have felt free to do that. My songs heal me and I hope someday they will touch and comfort other people, too.

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Last year, I was very excited about a new arrangement that George and I had created for my song “Hang On.” I was certain I had a hit in the making and began to entertain the possibility that another singer could really take my song much farther than I could.

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At that time I was taking lessons with Kimberly Haynes, who is an amazing singer. I asked her if I could pay her to record a vocal for my song “Hang On.” Yet shortly before our recording session, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and so we postponed it indefinitely.

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Two months ago, I received a call from Kimberly. She told me she was ready to sing “Hang On.” I was so thankful to hear her husband was doing better. His condition was still very serious, but he had stabilized.

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A few days later, I eagerly went to Kimberly’s house with my guitar. I brought a sheet with the chords and lyrics, as well as a CD with a recording of “Hang On.” She told me she would be singing her own interpretation of my song. I was curious what she was going to do, but also nervous because it was difficult for me when Peaches sang my songs.

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That day at her house, we went over the lyrics. Kimberly told me she was confused by one line and asked me to explain it to her. It was: “It’s not mine.” 

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I told her that in my song I was speaking to someone who was in horrific grief. Although I could somewhat empathize with their pain because of my own grief experience, I wasn’t saying, “I know how you feel.” I believe that no one can truly know how another person feels.

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Also the pain not being mine was an acknowledgement that I have healed and moved beyond pain.

-You are broken

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Kimberly said it was still confusing to her.

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I had a few days until she would record at Darrin’s recording studio. I decided I would change those lines if I could find something I liked as much or better.

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First, I came up with two rhymes: “unspoken” and “broken.” And then I was elated to find two replacement lines that worked well. They were: “Your eyes show, your heart is broken. There’s so much pain, it’s unspoken.”

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The reason I chose the first three words of “your eyes show,” was because I believe that eyes truly portray grief. On a story I wrote in 2010 (The Amputation of My Soul), I described bereaved parents at support group meetings as having eyes with hollow sockets and no tears left to cry.

Darrin is on the right and Kimberly is on the other side of the glass.

Darrin is on the right and Kimberly is on the other side of the glass.

The recording day arrived and I was nervous. I drove over to Darrin’s recording studio and Kimberly knocked on the door a few moments after. She was stunning in a long flowing gown, radiant and gorgeous. I asked Darrin to take a few pictures of us.

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Kim & Judy at Darrin's 2

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It was so different for me to be on the other side of the glass. This was the ultimate voice lesson because I was watching a true professional at work.

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Kimberly checked the mic and Darrin did a test for levels. It was time to start recording and the beautiful arrangement playing aloud gave me chills as it usually did.

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But from the moment Kimberly began singing, I felt myself squirming. Her delivery was so powerful, yet it wasn’t what I wanted for my song. At the end of the first take, I said something to the effect that it would be great if she could pull back a little.

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Kimberly asked me to clarify what I meant. I told her I couldn’t really explain it and left it at that. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was being critical and certainly did not want to tell my voice teacher what to do.

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She continued singing and did five takes. Her performance and delivery were strong, confident and very professional. No Melodyne or editing would be needed.

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That was a huge contrast with my singing, by the way. So much of what I record is embarrassing; a lot of editing is needed. But when I’m done, I’m very proud.

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When Kimberly was finished, it was very awkward for me because I wasn’t excited about her recording. I hugged and thanked her, but my face was on fire.

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I felt like it was totally unreasonable for me to expect her to sing my song the same way I did.

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I left the studio and went to my car. I took a few deep breaths and rested with my face in my hands. I wasn’t ready to drive home yet. Tears were pouring from my eyes uncontrollably. It wasn’t even because I was emotional – my eyes just hurt.

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Suddenly, I heard a car honk and there was Kimberly in her car alongside mine. I lowered my window to hear her words. She leaned toward me and said sweetly, “Judy, thank you for sharing your baby with me. It was an honor. And I’m going to pray for you – for your eyes to feel better.”

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I looked up at her and nodded. I let her know that I also prayed her husband would be okay. Here, her husband had ocular melanoma and she was praying for my eyes!

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Kim & Judy at Darrin's

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I decided not to promote my song with Kimberly’s vocal. Instead, I went back to George and we changed the key and tempo for “Hang On.” I sang new harmony for it and recorded my guitar into the song differently than I had before.

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And just like with Peaches, I learned a lot about how to sing my song better just from hearing what Kimberly had done.

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Tulips-Yellow Group

When I recorded a new vocal for “Hang On” a few weeks ago, I was extremely moved by my own lyrics.

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Especially the line of: “One day your pain will go away – love will lift you up, love will always stay.”

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My hopeful song was a message to me from my subconscious to hang on.

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Singing “Hang On” was so healing! Of course, I wasn’t deeply disconnected from life like I was when Jason died. But I’ve been grieving my parents who both died in the last two years. I’ve also been struggling with depression related to my eye problems.

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And then there was a revelation for me.

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It all related to the lyric change I had done because of Kimberly’s suggestion.

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I turned out that my eyes do show I am heartbroken.

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And the pain was mine after all.

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Your eyes show

-Hopeless eyes

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© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MY WORDS WILL STUN YOU

June 21, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Those ice cream bars are my illustrations!

Those ice cream bars are my illustrations!

My post title is a line of lyrics from my song “The Unknown.” Here is a link to the story about my song: THE UNKNOWN

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Over the past week I began working on a new illustration assignment. All of my musical passion has been pushed slightly to one side because I’m illustrating two new flavors of ice cream bars for Tillamook. While shopping for reference, I became excited when I spotted two of my illustrations printed for the first time in a supermarket’s freezer. I snapped a quick shot.

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Creating layouts from my digital photos is fun. Thankfully, my eyes are able to see my computer screen quite well. Once I send the client layout choices, I wait for feedback.

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I probably shouldn’t share my newest layouts, but below are examples from flavors that are published. It is apparent that I always give my client a lot of choices. I often create dozens of layouts before the final design is approved.

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After that, I turn it into an illustration using paint and pencils combined with my digital process. While creating the layouts below, I learned a lot about the many shapes of caramel.

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Tillabar Salted Caramel Layout

This is an example of a final illustration once layouts were approved.

This is an example of one of my final illustrations once layouts were approved.

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It is very difficult for me to change gears, from music to art.

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One thing I plan to continue doing musically while illustrating is singing. Keeping up my vocal ability is very important to me.

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Over the past few weeks, I tried to get a lot of music done before my job started. I still have three song vocals to edit, plus two new song arrangements in development. I will find time to practice my guitar because I plan to record guitar into three recent arrangements soon.

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And because I love writing, I have at least six stories in progress. Blogging is something I consider lowest on my “creative totem pole.” But when the writing bug grabs me, I cannot stop myself.

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I am amazed I have so much energy despite my constant eye discomfort. The distraction that my passion gives me is incredible.-

There is definitely an art to making white chocolate curls.

There is definitely an art to making white chocolate curls.

Illustrating fruit and chocolate

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All morning, I spent my time preparing fruit and chocolate that I would photograph as reference for the two new flavors of Tillabars I was illustrating. What a difference from the days when I used a lot of equipment and ran to one-hour photo only to get back a bunch of dark prints!

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My kitchen was a mess. My children were anxious to know when I was finished with the chocolate so they could feast on the crumbs. It didn’t bother them to eat the half melted ice cream bars either, where mom had taken out a bite. They simply cut off the part I had bitten into.

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Yes, I had to bite those bars. And they were delicious!!

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I go through my day

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It was afternoon and I was ready to sing. My last few song vocals had come out so well and I was quite proud. It wasn’t because I was such a great singer; it was because I had been “surfing with emotion.” And wiping out.

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That meant I was usually weeping while singing. I was prepared for those moments of uncontrollable tears. The feeling behind them translated well into my vocal performance. There was no holding back for me.

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A few days ago, I decided to record new vocals for my song “The Unknown.” I wasn’t sure I could replace the vocal I had. I knew for certain, that I could sing that song much better now. But the emotion was hard to match.

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I decided to take a shot at it. It will be a few weeks before I can edit it. But I already know it came out great. I sang my song fourteen times.

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Today happens to be the date of my “former wedding anniversary.” It is the first one since my divorce. I want to share something I wrote a year ago on my blog. It is a story about my final anniversary, which was only two weeks before I told my husband I wanted a divorce.

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I feel so alone

THE DRAGON AND THE LAST ANNIVERSARY

The Princess knew that she could not hold her secret much longer. Like acid, it was burning and pouring out from every part of her body.

Only a week after her father had died, her secret escaped. She tortured herself because she had burdened her own child on top of everything else. Now that her son knew her horrible secret, he pushed her constantly to “get it over with.” He told her she could no longer wait. She replied that she was praying for the right moment. But there would not be one.

That was because she knew the dragon was unprepared and would be wounded beyond description. She wished there were an easier way, but she could not think of any. Over and over she heard her son’s words, “Just do it! Kick the bucket; kick the bucket!”

Every day held torment, especially when she faced the dragon. She hated his presence because he carried tremendous stress with every word he spoke; he made her ill.

I run from you

She made it a point to avoid him and wondered if he even noticed. For weeks now, they had hardly spoken. Sometimes, she was amazed that he didn’t complain about her absence. He seemed so unhappy with her, but never said a word about it. He projected his anger instead to the many things that were wrong in their castle. Clearly, he felt the Princess had done a poor job disciplining their offspring.

Once upon a time, she had tried so hard to make him happy. But when she found her music, she decided to focus her energy elsewhere. She was relieved to discover her own happiness outside of him and wondered how he lived with so much unhappiness.

My tears I hide

Because they didn’t really have a definite anniversary, there was never a celebration. Long ago, she had complained and occasionally he gave her a card. He would simply sign his name and run out to buy it at the last minute. She even felt badly to trouble him with that obligation.

In the more recent years, she had trouble finding a card to give him. That was because most cards made her sad. She couldn’t find any card with sweet words that were true for her. The truth was their life together was empty.

Soon it would be their 30th anniversary. The Princess suffered greatly as she anticipated it. She decided not to buy a card for him.

When the day was finally over, she was deeply relieved. It had gone by like a silent whisper. Yet it was still louder than deafening thunder in her brain.

This feels so wrong

It turned out that the dragon never mentioned anything to her; he had not even remembered a card.

In her tortured mind, she was certain he knew. Perhaps her son had told him of her plans to ask for a divorce. She imagined that the Dragon was preparing himself for that moment.

A few days later, her son tearfully reminded her that she needed to kick the bucket and tell his father. The Princess muttered over and over, “Kick the bucket, kick the bucket!” for several more days.

Finally, she made up her mind that she was going to do it. It was almost like vomiting. She slowly walked upstairs and into their bedroom to expel the sickening words. With every ounce of courage she told the dragon that their marriage was over.

The Dragon displayed little emotion. She assumed he was in shock just as she had expected. But she decided to ask him.

Only a week before when he ignored their anniversary – was it because he knew she was going to divorce him?

The dragon shook his head and told her.

He just hadn’t remembered.

You might not miss me

© 2014 by Judy Unger http://www.myjourneysinsight.com.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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