NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 1

July 28, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

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.

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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#2-7/23/14 Copyright 2014 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.

THE SONGBIRD – PART 2

June 19, 2014

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Songbird at Dawn

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The songbird was a sensitive and delicate creature. From the day she was born, her sweet melodies filled the air as she sang away to her heart’s delight. She was hardly aware that she lived in a cage because she was surrounded by so much love. One day, she imagined she would become an adult songbird and fly freely.

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The songbird grew up and became a young woman. She continued to sing freely despite being in a cage and every song expressed her joy and pain. When she fell in love and decided he was “the one,” one reason was because he loved listening to her songs and appreciated her voice.

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Now with great excitement she readied herself to fly freely from her cage. But the memory of leaving her cage was not beautiful at all; instead it was traumatic. She did not feel loved anymore and was in shock.

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And not long after that, the songbird discovered that instead of the freedom she had dreamed of, she was simply living in a different cage.

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This cage was larger, but she was very sad and could no longer sing. Her dreams of flying freely disappeared.

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Even though she wasn’t surrounded by love in her new cage, she made the best of it and filled her life with other pursuits. The years went by. The songbird was afraid to leave her cage and most of the time she didn’t even remember that she had ever sung.

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One day, she desperately decided she would add love to her life by having babies. When they were born, she began to sing again and sweet lullabies restored her faith.

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But then her first baby died and she truly lost her voice. The songbird wasn’t sure she’d survive, but somehow she did.

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She continued to grow older. Her children brought her joy and kept her busy; they were her life force.

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But the songbird was tired of her life. When her parents were dying, the stress and loneliness became harder for her to bear. For the first time in her life, the songbird prayed to God for help.

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Suddenly, melodies began to fill her heart and it was an absolute miracle that the songbird began to sing again. Instead of crying, she lifted her voice to the heavens and her tears turned into songs.

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Songbird in gray

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Now for the very first time in many, many years her heart became light and she felt happy. She had thought she was too old to sing. But the more the songbird sang, the more ugly her cage became. She began to dream again about flying freely.

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Her dreams tormented her because she didn’t want to destroy her mate. He never expected she would leave their cage even though he was usually angry and cold to her.

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Because her songs spoke to her with love, the songbird decided not to give up any more of her life trying to make him happy.

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It was her music that gave the songbird strength and courage. She might have been terrified, but she sang loudly and strongly with determination as she opened up her cage door to leave.

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And she knew that without her songs, she might never have been able to fly away.

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She breathlessly flew from the cage she had been in for most of her life.

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Her safest destination was a temporary stop at the empty cage where her life began. She knew it would ease her terror because it was familiar. Even though her parents were gone, she still felt their presence.

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Sadly, not long after freeing herself the songbird became ill. She found it ironic that just when she set herself free, she lost her strength to fly.

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Her wings were broken and she could not see well. Her small cage became a soft nest where she rested so she could heal. During her darkest moments, she thought it was her destiny was to live in a cage for the rest of her life.

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But music was her freedom. She never stopped singing and her songs became her prayers.

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With her songs she flew; each one gave her wings. Her heart soared with the gentle melodies and words that God  sent to heal her.

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As she prayed for healing in her tiny cage, she continued to dream of flying so she could share her beautiful songs all over the world.

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She just knew that someday she would soar freely with joy and never live in a cage again.

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One Humming bird

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© 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’M THANKFUL FOR LIFE

June 13, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

This was the room where I serenaded Sandra in December of 2013.

This was the room where I serenaded Sandra in December of 2013.

At this time I want to acknowledge a wonderful woman named Sandra Blake Callahan.

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I became friends with Sandra as a result of reading her blog and she has been very supportive of my writing. She usually comments on every one of my blog posts and her comments always resonate with such wisdom and kindness.

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Sandra is terminally ill with end-stage congestive heart failure. She has outlived her doctor’s expectations. Last December, I took a trip to Yosemite in the wintertime just so I could meet her and her wonderful husband, Chris.

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I am so blessed to have such a special friend and Sandra’s words will live on for me long after she has left this Earth.

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My post title expressing thankfulness to be alive is the very first line of lyrics from my most recent song named “Wonder Why.”

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But thankfulness to be alive is best expressed by Sandra. Recently, she wrote a post that I found profound. It was so beautiful that I felt every person in the world could benefit from reading it. Her post was called “The First Time.”

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I left a comment expressing those feelings and she replied:

I don’t know about everyone reading this but I am so grateful that it has meaning for you! I admire your ability to love others when you are suffering on so many levels yourself. Sending you love and big warm hugs, my friend:)

b-butterfly-medley-pink.jpg

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A week ago, I wrote a post about my desire to be a speaker. I was so disappointed that I felt I couldn’t actually do it because of my eye problems. I treasured the comment Sandra left me. It was so touching that it warrants recognition.

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Blake's comment

I do believe you have a lot to share; a message that will touch many hearts. I also agree with the speaker when he says that waiting for something to be perfect will not lead you to the ultimate goal if that is what you want. I am sure there are artists that would find it motivating to hear how you turned your art into a living. Is that what you want to share?

Things are still a bit raw to start telling other’s how to survive the things you have. Maybe others need to hear how to listen to their own voice and sing the pain as often as it takes.

I know you are going to awaken one day and say this is what I want to say and what I needed to hear when there was no one else saying it.

You started years ago. If it takes years, then that is what it takes. Too many people want to say: “Here are 3 easy steps to healing from the loss of a child, marriage or parents. Or, write songs in 3 easy lessons.”

What people need to hear is this may be a lifetime journey and if so … then so be it.

You will decide when you are ready and we will be waiting.

Guitar with Butterflies-

Oh Sandra, every time you write to me I feel as if you’ve been a close friend all my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am not passionate about art, so that is not what I really want to speak about.

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Yes, things are still quite raw for me to tell others how to survive anything when I am in survival mode at this moment. I think you are so right that I simply have to listen to my own voice and sing my pain as often as it takes.

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When I wake up and decide what I needed to hear at my lowest moments, it won’t be because no one said it.

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I believe it will be your words. You have said what I needed to hear and I am listening! When I am ready, perhaps you will be gone, but never gone from my heart.

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Wherever you are, I will know that you are waiting, listening and shining a light for me.

Flowers-Orchid Spray

Links to my stories about meeting Sandra in Yosemite:

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#394 MY SOUL I WOULD RESTORE – PART 1

#395 YOU UPLIFT, YOU ARE MY GIFT

#396 MY SOUL I WOULD RESTORE – PART 2

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(Clicking on the post title “The First Time” is a link to Sandra’s blog)

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THE FIRST TIME

May 29, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Do you remember the first time you were surprised and delighted? How about the last time? When we were young, the simplest event gave us delight. We didn’t need anything major to bring a smile to our face. Of course, as we got older and more distracted those smaller pleasures may have gone unnoticed.

Last night as the angina pain ebbed and flowed, I wanted to take stock of all the truly wonderful things I am grateful for that make me smile. In the past, this exercise has helped me focus outside of my body and it worked well enough last night. It allowed me to go to bed and actually sleep. Just before I dozed off, I couldn’t help but smile thinking how wonderful my life is now.

As I opened my eyes this morning I was a bit surprised, but very delighted! That feeling of life, taking a few moments to listen to the world around me and to my own beating heart. I can only say that for me this continues to be my miracle. There is no reason for me to still be opening my eyes given the “odds” against it. Rather than question or worry about time running out, I choose to appreciate this gift.

Together we, like so many others, just try to make the most out of each day. There are a huge number of people who live mindfully. I was just blessed with this lesson at an early age. Though I kept it quiet for too many years, I now appreciate the freedom to express how delightful I find life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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.

I’M SOARING FREE

June 12, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

 Okay, it’s not another bird image – but it is a “Bird of Paradise” plant. I created this image by extracting it from a larger painting, which is at the end of this post.

Okay, it’s not a bird image – but it is a “Bird of Paradise” plant. I created this image by extracting it from a larger painting, which is at the end of this post.

My post title is a lyric line from the song I’m currently working on, which is named “My Dream.” Last week, I realized how much my song’s lyrics have helped me with the words of:

One day I’ll face, the world’s embrace

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

I want to sing with complete joy and do foresee that happening. Waiting to sell, promote and perform until then is fine for me.

The faith that I have in healing is what this all means. It represents “the hope that helps me to cope,” which are also lyrics in my song. Of course, I want to feel better with my current eye problem. I sink into a dark depression when I imagine myself living with it for the rest of my life.

It is my dream that puts a smile back on my face.

helping me cope

Even though my eyes hurt, over the past week my mood was better overall. I have to wait another six weeks before seeing the dry eye specialist who will determine if my current regimen of medications are working. It is hard for me to be patient, but I have little choice.

A few weeks ago, I began using a testosterone compound cream on my eyelids twice a day. I have also been on hormone replacement therapy now for about two months.

This next line is embarrassing, but I share what my daughter said to me. She said, “Mom, if you are taking hormones – stop right now! There is no pill in the world worth having a period for!”

Yes, four years after I stopped having a period, I’ve had to go out and buy those “time of the month” items again. Unfortunately, there’s no cycle to plan on – it’s intermittent and annoying. But I have noticed my facial hair has unmistakably diminished!-

This is a picture from the speaking convention I went to with my friend Joni two weeks ago.

This is a picture from the speaking convention I went to with my friend, Joni two weeks ago.

This past week, when I came to my hypnotherapy session I shared with Connie a new story I wrote using a songbird as my metaphor. I’ve written about a songbird before, but my new story continues and relates to my current situation.

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I know it is detached writing (using third person) – but I love writing in parables because it expresses my feelings in such a beautiful way.
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The songbird in my story had lived in a cage for most of her life. She finally freed herself, but the irony was that she had broken wings and couldn’t fly.
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But even when she couldn’t fly, she always imagined herself soaring free. That ties into my song “My Dream” once again.
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As I read my story to Connie I was tearful. When I finished, I told her I was determined to overcome my physical pain and depression. Thankfully, I had music and writing with which to comfort myself.

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Eagle at Sunrise

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I went to lie down on the chair for hypnosis. I was open to anything that would help me feel better. As I drifted off into a hypnotic trance, I heard Connie’s voice speaking to me softly.

She gently said, “Positive and negative thinking – those are opposites and maybe there could be another way of thinking.”

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My ears perked up. I often saw things in black and white and my mother always seemed to have clear ideas about what was right and wrong when I was growing up.

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For so many years, I worked so hard to counter my former husband’s pessimism with my optimism. And that was the same pattern I remembered my parents having. In the present, I was constantly trying to counter my oldest son’s pessimism; he was so much like my ex-husband!

Connie and I found an alternative – a single word. It was “empower.”

I liked that a lot! Lately, searching to stay positive had felt frustrating. With depression I felt like a failure for not embracing more positive thoughts.

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Instead of trying to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, I would search for ways to empower myself, to find strength. I could help my oldest son find ways to empower himself, too.

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Judy & Joni with blowing hair

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There was an experience over the past week that had really affected me. It was an excellent opportunity for me to apply the concept of empowerment.

While still under hypnosis, I murmured to Connie that I wanted to share something with her. With a lot of emotion, I began to slowly speak.

I was blessed with a wonderful friend named Joni. She was so caring and we had known each other since we were young children. When I attended the speaker’s conference two weeks ago, it was because of her encouragement. 

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Joni had become a licensed massage therapist a few years ago. She loved her new career and had recently discovered the benefits of aromatherapy oils. While we were together, Joni told me she wanted to give me this new type of massage treatment she was so excited about.
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She told me she would come over one day to see if a treatment with those oils would help relax me. I wasn’t going to turn her down.

This picture was taken when Joni came to visit me at the recording studio where I sing my vocals.

This picture was taken when Joni came to visit me at the recording studio where I sing my vocals.

A few days after we came home from the conference, Joni came over to my home in her masseuse uniform. She told me that this process was not actually a massage, just an application.

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There were about seven different vials of aromatherapy oils. She first opened each one to let me smell them – the aromas were powerful and intoxicating. They were very different from typical perfumes.

I took off my blouse and my bra and lay face down on my bed. Joni gently applied the unique oils. Each one was applied differently and the process took approximately five minutes per vial. It was heavenly!

I was very relaxed and especially appreciated her gentle touch upon my back and shoulders.

The next day, my mood was lighter and I couldn’t wait to call and thank my good friend.

But when I talked about this experience with Connie, I shared how Joni was probably not even aware that I was crying. Unfortunately, I had gone to a very sad place with my enjoyment.

It was because I realized how seldom I was ever touched and it overwhelmed me to know how much I missed it.

I was very emotional and said, “I felt so sad. I hated knowing how long I’ve lived without being touched, without affection.”

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I swallowed my tears and concentrated. I didn’t want to have such a positive experience become negative, nor fault myself for my sadness. This was such a perfect opportunity for me to find empowerment.

-Rose Solo

My eyes were closed but I grinned and said, “I guess if I enjoy the experience of being touched then I think I’ll need to get massages more often!”

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I went from crying to chuckling with that thought.

I recently found this picture taken when Joni visited me. It is from six years ago and so much has changed because I’m divorced and both my parents are gone.

I recently found this picture taken when Joni visited me. It is from six years ago and so much has changed because I’m divorced and both my parents are gone.

Before she awakened me from hypnosis, Connie asked me to find one more empowering thought I could leave with.

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I blurted out, “I’m free!”

That was really an amazing statement. Not only did it represent that I could shape my own destiny, but it held another meaning for me.

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I love to freely share and am not selling anything yet – until I decide to.

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But that doesn’t mean I don’t think I’m valuable.

I may be stressed

3n‰

© 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.

WITH JOY WHEN I SING

June 7, 2014

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I usually smile a lot when I sing.

I usually smile a lot when I sing.

When I first discovered writing, I was delirious with joy as I released so many feelings that were locked inside. Sometimes, I was fairly embarrassed by my inability to hold back personal information.

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For most of my life, I seldom opened up to share my true feelings with anyone. I was too busy raising my children and surviving grief. Many of my friends told me they were shocked about my getting divorced; they told me they had no idea I was so unhappy in my marriage.

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Before I was married, my husband was my best friend. I married at a very young age and quickly learned that my honesty led to conflict; conflict led to coldness from him. I began to suppress and hide my feelings. All of this was unconscious and with hindsight I can easily remember when it started. It started when I was a young child and discovered how to be a “good girl.”

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With my parents & Howard

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I never found therapy helpful when I was younger. During difficult times, I preferred to rely upon my parents to be there for me.

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When my mother was alive (before the onset of dementia), I always knew she was waiting for my calls. My father was an extension of her, listening in on our phone conversations. My children were my total focus so our favorite topic was their grandchildren. Even though I couldn’t share all of my feelings with my parents, it was special knowing how much they loved me and my kids.

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As both my parents declined, I became very distraught and searched desperately for other ways to express and comfort myself.

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At this time in my life, I share my deepest feelings with Connie. She has been my therapist for about five years and I am grateful for the progress I’ve made because of her and hypnotherapy.

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Connie is nothing like my mother, yet I feel blessed to have such a caring therapist to help me find more positive ways to improve my thinking, and ultimately feel better as a result.

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For months now our sessions have focused on my unrelenting pain. My eyes cause me physical pain, which results in psychological pain. I have been very depressed and that has caused my eyes to hurt more. I blame myself for my inability to triumph over the pain. I have gained a lot of weight on top of everything.

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Sometimes Connie helps me by using a technique called tapping. As I tap, I am usually crying. I will blurt out whatever comes into my mind. I have stress related to my children and my divorce. A constant theme is the lack of privacy where I live; I am seldom alone and free to sing my heart out.-

I am sharing a picture (with my childrens’ permission) from our Mother’s Day outing last month.

I am sharing a picture (with my childrens’ permission) from our Mother’s Day outing last month.-

Last week, I came to Connie’s guesthouse for my hypnotherapy session and was excited to share with her about the recent speaker’s convention that I attended.

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I told her that I finally saw a door that I could go through to achieve what I had dreamed of. Being a speaker would allow me to share my music and stories in such a beautiful way; I had a lot to offer. But unfortunately, there was an obstacle for me.

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I was too broken to do it.

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When my journey began, I had the energy to stand, speak and deliver. But in my current state, I can’t even open my eyes most of the time. I haven’t performed at an open mic for many months now.

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Perhaps an audience would still accept me with my eyes closed but just imagining it is stressful. Any kind of pressure immediately causes my eyes to throb and hurt. The pain is unbearable and I have no control over it.

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Under hypnosis, I spoke about my disappointment to Connie. I had hoped I was healing, but instead I was suffering with festering wounds. My feelings about becoming successful and time running out led to my most hated word, which was “pressure.”

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Depression had the word “press” in it. And pressure squeezed the joy right out of me.

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Having to prove myself financially was a trigger from my former life (before my divorce). From the moment I got married right out of college, I was under a lot of pressure to become successful as an artist. I struggled with my self-worth because I never seemed to earn enough money to make my husband happy.

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Now the message that kept playing for me was that my music was just an expensive hobby I had left him for. The very thing I’ve devoted my life to for four years was of no value to my husband or children simply because I made no money at it.

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Just speaking about this aggravated me. In my heart, I knew what I was doing was valuable for me personally and I didn’t need their “stamp of approval.” I loved connecting and helping other people. I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. I hated falling back into former habits of thought.

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Connie asked me what my definition for success was. My first thought about success related to my children and certainly wasn’t about money.

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I have devoted myself to my children completely since my first child was born in 1987. Jason lived for five years and everything I did was to keep him comfortable despite his serious congenital heart defect. He could barely eat or walk and I carried him everywhere.-

This picture was taken when Jason was about 3 and visiting his grandparents. I am living in my parents’ coop now. I am a song gardener only, which will be clear in the picture that follows showing the current state of my backyard!

This picture was taken when Jason was about 3 years old and visiting his grandparents. I am living in my parents’ coop now.-

 I am a song gardener only, which is clear in this picture of the current state of my backyard!

I am a song gardener only, which is clear from this picture taken of my backyard today!

Even though I wasn’t able to extend Jason’s life beyond the age of five, I took comfort knowing that he loved living up until the day died. I knew he might have died much sooner had I not been as devoted as I was; in a few instances I saved his life.

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After Jason’s death, my surviving children were my reason to go on living. But they had many challenges.

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I worked tirelessly fighting the school district to obtain the services they needed – all three of them required it to some degree. At one time, my closet was filled with at least twenty file boxes holding reports and documentation to build my cases.

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Everything I had done for them had paid off in beautiful ways. My three children were wonderful human beings and I was so proud of each one. I knew I had succeeded in shaping their lives because of my love and devotion.

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I began to cry remembering all the years fighting for my children. I deserved to be celebrating with joy at this time in my life. But instead, I was suffering with eye pain that was torturing me.

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I said tearfully, “Connie, why am I suffering? What is wrong with me?”

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Softly, Connie asked me to remember if there was another time in my life where I felt that way. I hesitated and then began to slowly recall other times in my life where I blamed myself for my own pain.

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It was a long list. It seemed like trying to please my husband, children and parents had taken a toll.-

This is a page from my diary, written in 1979.

This is a page from my diary, written in 1979.-

I spend most of my time in the safety of my bedroom creating music. My songs are my respite from pain and are prophecies from my subconscious. I am often amazed by the profound messages I’ve written to myself within my own song lyrics.

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Two weeks ago I began working on a new arrangement for my song named “My Dream.”

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Click the blue link below to hear my arrangement in progress:-

MY DREAM #2 Karaoke – Copyright 2014 by J Unger

 

I wrote the lyrics for “My Dream” in 2011, shortly after I announced my divorce. I hadn’t moved out yet and dreaming kept me alive. I was very inspired by the following line:

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“One day I’ll face the world’s embrace and the message I’ll bring with joy when I sing.”

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Once again, my own song lyrics held meaning for me. I will know when I am ready to hit a stage and emerge from behind a curtain.

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It will be when I can fully express my joy!

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Below is a link to a story about my first arrangement for “My Dream.”

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MY DREAM – PART 1

My Dream feels so certain

Performing with bliss

© 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 REASON TO WAIT

June 6, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Judy at workshop 2-

This past weekend I attended a conference that was only half an hour away. My good friend, Joni invited me and we stayed overnight at a hotel near the Los Angeles airport.

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The title of this conference was “Big Money Speaker Bootcamp.” A dynamic and well-connected speaker named James Malinchak ran it. James gave a lot of excellent information about how to receive large sums of money in return for sharing knowledge as a public speaker.

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I wasn’t enticed by the “big money,” but excited about how wonderful it would be to share my stories, music and inspiration with large audiences. James emphasized how important it was to approach the marketplace with clear goals and success depended upon having high self-worth.

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In my dreams this was what I had always imagined myself doing. While in college, I was on the Speech Team. I actually won first place for an expository speech and ironically my topic was songwriting!

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Speech Award

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I do love sharing my music, but more than anything I would prefer to offer inspiration with my words. A song could be played over the loud-speaker as a preface to a story. I might perform a song or two, but speaking is far better for me than singing for an extended period of time.

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When James spoke, he had two screens on either side. He clicked slides to present his information. I began picturing my artwork projected there instead.

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Even if I couldn’t draw audiences interested in my touching stories and music, I had other topics people might find interesting. Anecdotes from my art career could make for an interesting speech. So many lessons from being an illustrator have been life lessons for me as well.

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Orange Supersoil

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Potting soil ad

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Wegmans w. fruit

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My blog and my “journey of insight” began in 2010. It has been four years now and I haven’t marketed anything for many reasons. I’ve gone through a divorce after a long marriage and buried both my parents in the last two years. I’ve also had unrelenting eye problems. I’m very close with my three children and they all depend on me.

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Perhaps the biggest reason I’m not selling anything is because I’ve allowed myself to fully delve into my passion for songwriting. There’s been a lot for me to learn and I want anything I sell to reflect my best effort. Recently, I have made a lot of decisions about how I plan to release my first CD. I have no regrets about waiting, none at all.

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Although I do also love writing, I haven’t thought about creating a written book for a while now. I simply write for therapy on my blog and am proud of my efforts. Every story requires many hours of my time and energy; I enjoy creating images to go with each one.

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But because I don’t have anything finished that I’m selling, I’ve been labeled as a classic perfectionist. Well, it turns out that my situation is fairly typical.

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According to James my approach is the “failure model.” He said that spending a lot of time crafting a book is the most common reason for failure.

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I’m certain he would not approve of my blog where I share all my music and writing for free without even generating a significant mailing list.

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I did like his suggestion to get started immediately. This was the best quote (and I’m not even sure it’s his):

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“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”

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Any book I’d sell would have a title and message related to my speech topic. Videotaping the speech could create an audio book. He suggested printing a small book that could be a gift; his example was one that simply consisted of quotations. Right away, I began thinking of all the lyric lines I could use.

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For his hefty coaching fee, he would arrange for celebrity endorsements to adorn the back cover. It certainly bothered me that people needed to do that in order to gain credibility. Someone who was perceived as famous was able to fill seats even if they weren’t a very interesting speaker!

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His list of ways to craft a topic had me pondering my appeal as a speaker. He said it was important to have something people wanted. Announcing an easy “fix” for a problem was popular.

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Right off the bat, that challenged me. I wasn’t planning to sell a message so directly. The thought of calling myself “a healer” was downright embarrassing. Then I realized that I could offer comfort, hope and inspiration by example.

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As the conference wore on, I began to imagine a possible topic using one of my favorite lyric lines below:

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“It’s never too late to turn your life around – no reason to wait.”

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Those words are from my song named “Clear.” I composed “Clear” during a difficult time, a year before I found the courage to tell my husband I wanted a divorce. My lyric line kept reminding me that I was waiting!

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Once again, that line is taunting me. I desperately want to believe it’s not too late for me to start this exciting new phase of my journey at the age of 54.

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Unfortunately, I am waiting. I want to feel better. My eyes hurt and I cannot imagine myself speaking to an audience with this condition.

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Judy at workshop

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Yet, I’m always amazed that I can still smile . . .

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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.

FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER

June 3, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

In February, I visited Northern California where I took this picture of this famous church.

In February, I visited Northern California where I took this picture of a church made famous by Ansel Adams.

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Below is a link to read my story and hear my newest song:

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#443 WONDER WHY – PART 1

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My correspondence with Sammi who lost her son a year and a half ago continues below. Her words are in brown.

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On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, Judy wrote:

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Hi Sammi,

I’m writing a new song. The music for it is kind of “old English” and it has the feeling of asking a question. I wrote lyrics that perfectly describe my doubts about God.

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I do know that my music is for a certain demographic. When I shared my song with two “regular” people, I was scathed for writing “another Judy song about suffering and pain.”

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I write music as my therapy and I’m wondering if you could offer me some feedback. Your opinion would be valuable to me. Can I send you a recording of this song? If you’re not up to it, of course that’s fine.

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Judy, I would think that the two “regular” people you first shared this song with were not very good friends, otherwise they would know what your music means and why you use it as therapy. I’m sorry they said that to you.

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To say to you that you wrote “another Judy song” is the same as asking you “aren’t you over this yet?” The fear people have who have not walked this path (but are scared to death that they may have to), never ceases to amaze me. I understand their fear; I do not understand how it manifests itself into callous, cold and thoughtless statements.

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I would most certainly listen to your music if you want to send it this way. My relationship with God at the moment may color my reaction since I do not listen or read or speak about him. I do know that he exists, I’m just very angry with him at the moment.

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I’m very touched that you are willing to do this in spite of your anger with God. Please know that I do want honesty and won’t be hurt by anything you say because this song reflects my own doubts about God. I’ll email it soon – thank you so much!

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By the way, Jason’s birthday is next week and my father died two days before. So I am pretty emotional at the moment.

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Azalea

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Judy, first let me say that I sobbed like a baby while listening to this song. It touched me deeply, but I think you already knew it would.

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The fact that you mentioned God was what I related to because that describes me. I am so angry with him at the moment. That being said, I think if the song didn’t mention God it would have a broader appeal to more people. Many feel safer that way. Sad isn’t it? People seem so afraid to question our supreme being no matter what occurs.

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I may have felt that way myself had I not had a hole punched into my very soul by said supreme being.

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People have to deal with their own demons where that subject is concerned. It takes a lot to offend me but I have found that on this subject I am in the minority. Very well stated, Judy. Very well done. This is great therapy and has worked well for you.

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When is your son’s birthday? I would like to remember him on this day also and let him know how much his Mother has helped me…but I think he already knows.

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Oh, Sammi, your message made me cry – thank you so much!

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My search for understanding has led me to wonderful people. I really love and care about you and hope to meet you someday. I plan to write a story about this song and might share some of what we’ve both expressed; if that’s okay with you.

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You are quite welcome and can share whatever you want. I like the title you have chosen. I think those of us dealing with this pain question all of our beliefs now and we wonder why we have ever had those beliefs. I may be kicked to the end of the line but when my time comes to face my maker I have a whole shitload full of questions I want answers to.

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There were a few times in my life that I could have died as a child, by either an accident or illness but I didn’t. I wonder why God, in his supposed infinite wisdom, spared me just so I could be devastated by the loss of my Mother at a young age and then by the loss of my son when I didn’t have the strength of my Mother to lean on. I will always miss my beautiful, beautiful boy.

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Fairytale Watercolor

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After my exchange with Sammi, I shared my song on an Internet Grief Forum. Sammi also responded.

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Judy, my name is Kim. I have to say that is such a beautiful song!!! Finally one for “us!” Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!!

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Beautiful, just beautiful! I haven’t posted in a long, long time but this song moved me to.

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Seriously Judy, and everyone else here, that song is glorious! There is so much music out there and not much, or none of it, even begins to deal with these issues. Lots of music and it is always singing about feelings, but none of it ever addresses the feelings associated with grief! Your words and song hit many high points for me-so refreshing to hear it put to song and beautiful music! You are blessed to be able to have created something so spiritually uplifting and freeing out of “it.”

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I told you, Judy :) It fits us. Sammi

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Redwoods filtered

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I want to thank everyone in this group for your support. It is a brotherhood and sisterhood of US and IT (the monster of grief) is what many people are terrified of. I do think that those most people usually mean well and are simply not really aware of what is helpful for us.

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My mission is to express my intimate thoughts and feelings through music and soothe anyone out there suffering – it is the gift that my son gave me.

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I am so happy to hear that my glorious song has a place in the world. It is not for everyone, but what could be more meaningful than offering comfort to other people? After going through hell and back it is incredible to be able to offer hope.

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After my son died, I was certain I’d never sing again. 

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Jason and his mommy in the pool

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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.


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