Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

IN EVERY SMILE

February 20, 2015

-

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

-

In Every Smile

-

Below is my vocal for my latest song, “In Every Smile.” The arrangement is so beautiful, that I am sharing it also.

IN EVERY SMILE-2/20/15 Copyright 2015 by Judy Unger

IN EVERY SMILE Arrangement-Copyright 2015 by Judy Unger

From the time I was young, I have always loved to smile.

From the time I was young, I have always loved to smile.

-

SEE ME IN EVERY SMILE

Copyright 2015 by Judy Unger

-

One day I’ll be gone, but love cannot leave

I’ll be right there beside you, can you believe?

if you’re crying ‘cause you miss me

and feel you’ve lost your way

You know what I’d say . . .

-

See me in every smile; it’s okay to cry awhile

But smiling can lift you up

Feel me with love you share; in your heart I’m there

I’m not really gone when my love lives on

-

Remember the warmth, your heart next to mine

I’ll still be hugging you in warm sunshine

When storm clouds overtake you

and everything seems gray

You know what I’d say . . .

-

See me in every smile; it’s okay to cry awhile

But laughter can lift you up

Feel me with every touch; I loved you so much

I’m not really gone when my love lives on

-

You might be scared and think you’re alone

Let my light surround you, the love you’ve known

From the moment I first held you until I had to go,

I hope you know

-

See me in every smile; it’s okay to cry awhile

But my love can lift you up

Feel me with love you share; in your heart I’m there

I’m not really gone when my love lives on

When my love lives on

Butterfly Fantasy 1

Music captivates me. Except for times of great emotional upheaval – I usually don’t feel like writing lyrics. But when music and melodies grab my heart, I become inspired to find the words that will express my feelings and bring a song to life. 

Finding those words can be very challenging. Yet when it comes together for me, the experience is glorious and unlike anything else in my life. I’m actually dancing with joy at those times.

These are lyrics in progress – not ones that I actually used.

These are lyrics in progress – not ones that I actually used.

When I am not composing a new song, I continue to arrange older songs. “I’ve Always Cared” was my last song arrangement and for that song story I shared how my old boyfriend, Sam and I reconnected because of my blog. I had written that particular song long ago when we were dating.

But there was also another story of reconnecting related to him. Sam helped me find an old friend of mine named Carol. They were once engaged to each other (they did not marry) and I lost touch with both of them after that.

Below are links to those stories:

#153 WE’LL STILL FEEL THIS LOVE

#154 HOPING I’LL SEE YOU AGAIN, PART 1

#155 HOPING I’LL SEE YOU AGAIN, PART 2

Well, after I wrote about “I’ve Always Cared,” each of them left comments on that post. It gave me goose bumps!

For fun, I’m sharing some big smiles with Carol – when we were 19 and after we reconnected four years ago.

Judy & Carol b&w 2-

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just last week, Carol and I walked around a beautiful park near her house. I brought my guitar along and was excited to share my newest song with her. I also knew it was a great opportunity for me to ask her some lyric questions.

Every single word makes a difference when I sing one of my songs. I have a lot of choices and usually my lyrics evolve slowly over time.

When I took lessons with Peaches Chrenko several years ago, she had wonderful lyric advice for me. She always told me, “It’s very cool when you’re able to get rid of those unnecessary words – like ands and buts.” I’ve never forgotten that.

Carol was especially brilliant. A few years ago she helped me with my song “Alabaster Seashell” and I continue to thank her for her input. I originally wrote a lyric line of: “That seashell once was a living thing.”

Carol suggested instead that I say: “That seashell once held a living thing.”

Her suggestion definitely made a lot more sense since the creature inside was more of a living thing than the hard shell exterior.

It's okay

Carol and I enjoyed our lovely picnic lunch and afterwards I sang my new song for her. I was hoping she’d help me find a name for it.

I was certain I wanted to use the word “smile” in the song title. I had two choices but neither one grabbed me. They were “See Me in Every Smile” or “Every Smile.”

In a heartbeat Carol said, “IN Every Smile.”

That was it! I was exploding with excitement. How could a single word like “in” make such a difference? But it did!

I let her know I’d think of her every time I sang “In Every Smile.”

Can you believe?

I had many choices for my first verse and ended up going with the version above. But the last line wasn’t set. I couldn’t decide between “If you believe” or “When you believe.”

“If you believe” sounded very judgmental, like I’d only be there if there was faith. And so was “when you believe.”

But with the question of “can you believe?” the words suddenly became magical because I wasn’t imposing. Now the line was more of a suggestion, which I found far more touching to sing.

With these words, I imagine myself holding one of my babies against my chest.

With these words, I imagine myself holding one of my babies against my chest.

WRITTEN TWO WEEKS AGO:

I didn’t feel well and barely ventured out of my house for over a week. My eyes were the worst part. I could barely open them and everything looked foggy and gray. My “mild flu” was definitely no picnic.

But it wasn’t really that terrible because my heart was exploding with the birth of a new song. The music was absolutely gorgeous and I allowed it to softly wrap around me.

I hummed the evolving melody and strummed the chords whenever I could. I wished I knew what to name my beautiful new song. I did write some lyrics for it but my first ones did not really express what I wanted to say. My song was incomplete.

I knew eventually I’d find the special words that would make my song soar. From experience, I’ve discovered that touching lyrics cannot be forced; they often happen when I least expect it. Nothing inspired me; I was sick and couldn’t even type with a pounding headache. I decided to just give in and lay down on my bed.

My bed

It was the same bed my parents once slept on and was of a very good quality; it comforted me and I felt their love close to my heart. When I first moved in, I was sure I’d replace it. I slept at the edge and didn’t need such a large bed in my small bedroom.

Then it occurred to me that I actually loved this bed. It was a perfect place for each one of my large children to hang out with me when I was sitting at my computer nearby. They would come into my bedroom, lie on it and spread out. And if I were on my bed, sometimes they would lay down next to me just like when they were little.

This past year, I was blessed with wonderful income as an illustrator. I decided to splurge on my children and a month ago I purchased new queen-sized beds for all three of them. Each child said to me, “Mom, we hope it’s just like yours.” I ended up getting my sons firmer beds – they were large men and it made more sense. I was relieved when they told me, “It’s pretty firm, but we’ll get used to it. Thanks, Mom!”

I hoped my cold would let up so I could sing again soon. I smiled picturing my kids in their new beds; I felt better just thinking about them. Then I closed my eyes and could hear my new song’s melody playing in my mind. The music was so sweet that I found myself crying.

After a few moments, I sniffled and realized I felt better. My tears had softened my sadness. And then the words came into my mind!

“It’s okay to cry awhile . . .”

I was so excited! The first line of my chorus was: “See me in every smile.” I liked that line a lot but hadn’t been able to rhyme anything with smile in a comfortable way. I couldn’t commit to that first line unless I had a second line that worked.

“It’s okay to cry awhile” conveyed exactly what I wanted. At that moment, I was elated because my song was almost finished!

Youngest Son

I believe that crying is not only okay – it’s very healthy. I learned the hard way because for years I suppressed all of my feelings – I was emotionally deadened and considered my life to be “Zombieland.”

The most amazing part about my song was that I wrote it for my children – but when I sang it, I could feel my parents and even Jason hugging me with every word!

Jason w my mom-

My parents were completely devoted to my children and me. I treasure every picture with them and sometimes find it hard to believe they are gone.

My parents were completely devoted to my children and me. I treasure every picture with them and sometimes find it hard to believe they are gone.

These are my first lyrics where I hadn’t found “It’s okay to cry awhile” yet. I did not like rhyming “smile” with “trial”.

These are my first lyrics where I hadn’t found “It’s okay to cry awhile” yet. I did not like rhyming “smile” with “trial”.

Creating a will and outlining medical directives was a way for me to make things easier for my children if anything drastic happened to me. Even though my kids are adults now, I am still very involved in their lives.

I live with my two sons (ages 18 and 24) and my 21-year-old daughter moved out a year ago. For a brief time in 2013, I had all three of them living with me in my two bedroom apartment. I had just separated from a long marriage at that time and both my sons slept in the living room. Our former home was huge and had four bathrooms. It was quite an adjustment for them to deal with having a single bathroom.

But I love my cottage/castle!

My daughter lives with roommates in an apartment nearby and we see each other frequently. Two weeks ago, she called me in the middle of the night.

When I’m jerked awake, memories come flooding back. It would be an understatement to mention that I was frequently woken up at night all through the years when my children were growing up.

My heart pounded with fear when I heard her quivering voice; she was chattering from a high fever. The first thing I did, was ask her if she had a pain reliever in her apartment. She wasn’t sure but promised she’d find one. Then I gave her instructions to take a bath.

The next morning, she came over to my house. I made her tea and she shivered under the covers in my bed. I had an illustration assignment to work on and it was one of those times where I was glad I worked in my bedroom.

you might be scared

In the evening, her fever came back. I drove her to the doctor to check for strep throat and thankfully, it was negative. We came home and my daughter told me she was able to drive home.

The next morning, I sent her a text to see how she was feeling. She replied: “Mom, I’m doing much better. I started feeling a fever coming on – but I took a bath and some Tylenol. So now I’m fine!”

That gave me a big smile. Even though she’s 21, she understood now about the benefits of taking a pain reliever and a bath whenever she had fever.

I love these big smiles of my daughter and I in this picture that was taken 6 months ago. My daughter took a selfie of us!

I love these big smiles of my daughter and I in this picture that was taken 6 months ago. My daughter took a selfie of us!

I wished I could have smiled a little longer. The very next day, my 18-year-old son also became ill. He woke me up from a sound sleep to tell me, “Mom, my temperature is almost 105!”

He went into the bathtub quickly and took a pain reliever while I spoke to a nurse on an advice line. So once again, I was back at the same hospital with my son. He looked so miserable and the doctor told me he was almost certain that both my son and daughter had influenza.

The doctor prescribed Tamiflu for my son but wanted to wait for the results of a swab test he did before prescribing it for me as a preventative.

On the way home, my son threw up in my car. He had just taken his first capsule of Tamiflu. I held my breath as I drove. He peeled off his clothes and threw them in the backyard when we came home.

Feel me with love you share

Now my supermom veneer was starting to crack. My heart was pounding – it was a little hard to swallow. Could I be getting influenza?

That evening the doctor called. My son had tested positive for the flu; He recommended I start taking my son’s Tamiflu until I picked up my own prescription.

I began taking the medicine – my stomach was queasy and my body was in the throes of resisting the virus. I cancelled all of my plans and did very little for an entire week. I ended up with a terrible cold, but the classic flu symptoms such as an extremely high fever never materialized. I had dodged a bullet.

My son was still very sick the rest of that week. I told him, “Now that I’m sick, I can’t really take care of you the way I did before that.”

He replied, “Mom, I’m so sorry I gave this to you! But don’t worry – I can take Tylenol and a bath whenever I feel feverish. So you don’t need to do anything. Can I make you some tea?”

If you're crying

So this past week two of my children learned the same lesson, even though they aren’t young children.

Whenever I can make a difference in their lives – it is like “living on.”

And that comes from a place of deep love.

Those lessons will always be there to remind them of my love, even when I’m not.

This picture definitely conveys warm sunshine for me.

This picture definitely conveys warm sunshine for me.

Remember the warmth 2

These pictures were taken at the Kulak’s Woodshed Open Mic about two months ago. Lately, I have not been up to performing, but hope I’ll be able to soon.

These pictures were taken at the Kulak’s Woodshed Open Mic about two months ago. Lately, I have not been up to performing, but hope I’ll be able to soon.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2015. 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.

ONE DAY I’LL BE GONE

February 8, 2015

-

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

I take this opportunity to share pictures of my three children whom I adore.

I take this opportunity to share pictures of my three children whom I adore.

Just for fun, below I share an acoustic guitar and vocal recording that I made in my bedroom:

SEE ME IN EVERY SMILE Acoustic-Copyright 2015 by J. Unger

I love the song arrangement, which is finished. The very first chords that inspired this song were played by George on his keyboard without any other instrumentation. Click the blue link below to hear them:

SEE ME IN EVERY SMILE – piano in progress

This is a fairly recent photo of all three of my children together.

This is a fairly recent photo of all three of my children together.

A month ago, I was chatting with a friend and she said to me earnestly, “Judy, you must put all of your affairs in order. It’s so important! I just worked with a family where the father died and nothing was in place. It was such a nightmare for everyone.”

-

I knew my friend was right. For months, there was a note on my desk with the scribbled words of: set up a living trust. I certainly didn’t want my children to be burdened if anything happened to me unexpectedly. But I still hadn’t followed through – it was so much easier to put it off.

-

Now my friend had put the fire under me. I made an appointment to create a living trust with someone recommended by my brother.

-

Before my meeting I had a flash of insight and decided to ask my good friend, Janis if she could make medical decisions for me. It would be a lot easier than expecting my children to know what to do. Janis said she would be honored to help me, which made me very teary. A week later, we met for lunch to discuss my wishes.

-

The initial meeting to begin this process was quite overwhelming. My head was spinning from all the questions the lawyer asked me. I had so many decisions to make, but in general I was glad to be doing something that I knew was very important.

-

The subconscious is so powerful and takes up far more of the mind than the conscious part.

-

That week, I began writing a new song. I heard beautiful chords that were dissonant and very haunting. And the lyrics seemed to follow exactly what my mind was dwelling on.

-

My first line went: “One day I’ll be gone . . .”

-

If you're crying

-

It was thrilling for me to watch my new song unfold. The first thing I did was share my newly composed chords with my arranger, George so he could play them on his piano. I wasn’t sure if my chords were for a verse or chorus; George experimented with a few chord progressions to help me link sections together.

-

I brought home his piano recording and it was so beautiful! This new song touched me deeply and I knew immediately what I wanted to convey. I began writing lyrics but a song title didn’t grab me.

-

My first idea was “I’m Not Really Gone.”

-

The following week when I met with George, I excitedly told him that his piano chords were great. I handed him a paper with my preliminary lyrics on it. He scanned my words quickly and then he handed the paper back to me.

-

“Kind of dark,” he muttered.

-

“Really? I mention love and laughter – so how is that dark?” I replied.

-

He said, “What’s the first line again?”

-

I laughed and answered, “One day I’ll be gone.”

-

I had to admit that it was kind of gloomy with a line like that.

-

But I loved what another friend of mine said. It was: “I think it’s great how you can write about something that many people think about, but are afraid to say.”

-

These are lyrics that I originally wrote for my first verse, but decided not to use.

These are lyrics for the first verse that I ended up replacing.

Even though I wasn’t set on my lyrics, the theme of my song felt perfect for my life. I sang my song as if I were speaking to each one of my children.

-

My emphasis was upon how much I loved them and that remembering my love would uplift them.

-

The last thing I wanted was for my children to be tormented by grief when I pass on someday.

-

Telling them to smile and laugh was a reminder that I hoped they would continue to live their life with joy.

-

you might be scared

I believe greatly in healing from grief.

-

My dialog with a woman named Sammi continues to shed more light upon this. Her words are in blue.

-

Sammi, I am always trying to be more compassionate. Sometimes I feel guilty because I “preach” hope for survival so much. Even offering understanding isn’t always comforting sometimes because grief is so unique to every person. The best thing to offer someone grieving is to just listen and care.

-

Judy, your years of surviving “the worst loss” give you a unique view of those of us who are in the first stages of this journey. To give hope to a dying soul will never be a bad thing, so you are guilty of nothing.

-

Thank you, Sammi. I really can only speak for my own life. Originally, I thought it was a miracle that I survived grief. Now it is about finding joy again and THAT is a miracle! I think mindset does make a difference. Yes, the ache remains – but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer until our last breath.

-

blue gold butterfly pair

-

Sometimes I think we survive because there is no choice – unless we kill ourselves (which happens by suicide or total disregard for safety). I have seen that happen. I remember feeling hopeless for a long time. It didn’t even register when someone would tell me I’d feel better someday – I found it annoying.

-

I will admit to having thoughts of suicide in the first days. I couldn’t stand the thought of living without my son. I would cry constantly and say, “I can’t do this” over and over. My saving grace was my husband. I never would have made it this far without him.

-

Red purple butterfly pair

-

When you lose a child you develop layers, layers that cover and protect you. At first it feels dishonest to friends and family hide beneath these layers, but as time goes on you realize that you are protecting yourself.

-

The first layer covers your core, the screaming torn soul and protects your exposed damaged heart.

-

The second layer is the face you show to those close to you, your closest friends and your family. It calms them to think you are going to be OK. It allows some semblance of life to continue for you that they are comfortable with so they can focus on their lives without worrying about you.

-

The third layer is the layer that you present to the world. That layer lets you laugh and interact with others at work and those who know nothing about you. It allows you to do certain things and numbs you to most of what is said to you.

-

I don’t want to hear from people about how this is what my purpose is or how wonderfully I write about what is going on. I am still the same person I always was, but hate where I am right now.

-

That is because I live with a constant ache since my son died.

-

I think you have eloquently explained what “survival” is. Living with layers is very numbing and kind of like being a dead person emotionally. That’s why I probably called my survival of grief “Zombieland.” I am sorry for the ache in your core, Sammi.

-

Keep unwrapping it because I think that is the key to living again someday. The adage of “time heals” isn’t necessarily true even though it is a process that happens over time. It came for me when the thought of, “I can’t believe he’s dead” became “He’s dead and I can’t live without him.”

-

Later on it became, “He’s dead and somehow I’m still alive without him.” The biggest shift was, “He’s dead and I am able to live again with joy.” That was my miracle and still is.

-

I don’t think time heals this kind of pain. I am still at the “I can’t believe he’s dead” point. I will be taking a shower and suddenly it hits me…. again…I will never see him again, I will never hear his voice or feels his arms hugging me…ever. The finality of it all takes my breath away at times. I want those layers…. I NEED those layers. Joy is something I will never have again. I don’t have that many years left in my life to reach that place.

-

Layers are survival and were for me, too. And like you – I was certain I’d never find joy again. No one can know what is ahead. Perhaps it did take me years. I know many people who have never gotten there and others that did much sooner than I. It doesn’t mean that the ache is gone. It only means that your heart lifts again. I guarantee you, Sammi, one day you will feel that.

-

Can you believe

-

Judy & her parents

-

to my amazing mother

-

Jason in the pool

-Feel me with love you share

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2015. 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’VE ALWAYS CARED-PART 2

February 5, 2015

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

This is my current image for my song “I’ve Always Cared.” The bed with my guitar is sailing across a faraway ocean to somewhere unknown.

This is my current image for my song “I’ve Always Cared.” The bed with my guitar is sailing across a faraway ocean to somewhere unknown.

My journey began with sharing about my life, and I especially enjoy sharing recent music. Developing and “growing” a song in my garden can take me months (sometimes years). So with eagerness, below is a preliminary recording of “I’ve Always Cared #2″ where my vocal is unfinished. Just yesterday I recorded acoustic guitar and George added electric guitar into the arrangement. Soon, I plan to add some harmony.

Below are pieces of older recordings that are part of my journey. I have improved greatly as a singer from when I started back in 2010. And long ago as a young girl, I sang in higher keys with abandon. I appreciate how free-spirited I was with my voice, but in general I don’t find those recordings easy to listen to. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I do love how they add to my story.

Click the blue link below to hear my song in progress.

I’VE ALWAYS CARED #2-2/5/15 Copyright 2015 by Judy Unger

Link to hear a snippet of the “medieval” first arrangement of this song from 2010:

I’VE ALWAYS CARED #1-BLOG EXCERPT

This clip is an opportunity to hear my very high (screechy) voice from 1980: 

I’VE ALWAYS CARED-CASSETTE CLIP FROM 1980

Link to the first part of this story:

#141 I’VE ALWAYS CARED

Marshmallow

I’VE ALWAYS CARED

Original Song by Judy Unger, Copyright 2015

It’s unbelievable

Has it really been that long?

For years we were strangers

But I knew all along

I’ve always cared and I always will

Never felt that way until

I passed through my life without you

I’ve always felt and I’ll always feel

Now I know it is for real

And this time, and this time

I want to be with you, with you


We’re back together

I wonder what lies ahead

The past is behind us

There’s so much left unsaid

CHORUS

I dreamed of you and the life we once shared

You weren’t gone, ’cause I still cared

Now I want to be with you, with you

I loved you still, though we were apart

No one else could know, the way you touched my heart

CHORUS

Now I want to be with you, with you . . . with you

-

I composed my song “I’ve Always Cared” when I was 19 years old. I was able to easily remember it because I had a cassette recording from 1980.

I never considered “I’ve Always Cared” to be one of my best songs, but I did like the catchy chorus. This song was one of a few faster songs of mine, which involved strumming instead of my usual fingerpicking. It was similar to “Meant to Me” and “Saying Goodbye;” those were two of my other songs I wrote around that time.

George arranged “I’ve Always Cared” back in 2010 and the arrangement had an interesting medieval sound. Unfortunately, I couldn’t along with it very well. Some of that might have had to do with how difficult it was for me to relate to this song back then.

Now that five years have gone by, I decided to let George arrange “I’ve Always Cared” again and together we’d improve upon it. George envisioned it as a slower piano ballad. He composed new chords for a bridge and I revised the lyrics and wrote new ones for the bridge.

There certainly is a story surrounding what prompted me to write this song, which I will share farther along in this post. But today in 2015, my song tells me a completely different story than how I wrote it originally and is nothing that I ever expected it to be.

I crafted my revised lyrics to express feelings for my new take on this song. And the new lyrics can still work for the older story, too.

Who am I singing to? Well, here’s a hint – I’m not singing to a person!

The reunion after many years was with my music!

Perhaps that could be a sad revelation since I’ve gotten divorced. But it was honestly the easiest way for me to relate to my song. And many times, I see music as another metaphor for God in my life.

I like to add artwork of mine to every story. And because I love puns,  I’ll add some of those, too. I don’t want to be blue or berry my sadness.

I like to add artwork of mine to every story. And because I love puns, I’ll add some of those, too. I don’t want to be blue or berry my sadness.

I prefer not to dwell upon thoughts that lead to sadness. Yes, I could be envious of people with loving partners. I could be very discouraged about my failed marriage. I felt alone for a long time and might have remained in that place if I hadn’t had the courage to change my life.

I smile and know that whatever the future holds; I will always have beautiful music to bring me joy.

And another irony was that even though it appeared that I didn’t care about my music for 30 years, it certainly cared about me.

When I was discouraged about life, it returned to rescue my soul.

It was strange seeing this old high school ID card again. Who is that girl?

It was strange seeing this old high school ID card again. Who is that girl?

It has been fun to revisit my older songs. With remakes, they come to life again.

My last song arrangement was for an old love song named “It Might Have Been. ” That song expressed how “love was something new” and shortly after I wrote it, I became engaged to be married.

But before “It Might Have Been” I wrote several songs alluding to my confusion about enduring love.

Even though I dated a lot, I was quite naïve and innocent. My dating was about looking for “the one” and I certainly didn’t imagine there were other options besides getting married.

I wonder what I was thinking in this picture.

I wonder what I was thinking in this picture.

When I was 19, I was torn between two men.

For a few months I managed to see both of them. But when they both wanted to see me for New Year’s Eve, I was stuck and realized I needed to make a choice.

I had an on and off again relationship with both of them. And I was the one who initiated the break ups because I usually felt pressured to “go steady” and I liked to feel free to date whomever seemed interesting to me.

The “other guy” was one of my first boyfriends from high school. Sam and I dated on and off for over four years, starting from the time I was 15 1/2. My parents reluctantly allowed me to date him, even though originally I was brought up with the statement of, “No dating until you’re 16!” But Sam was such a smart and nice guy, my parents caved in.

I really felt so bad breaking up with him that he inspired the first song I ever wrote aptly named, “You’re Not the One.”

I met my future husband in college at a time when I wasn’t seeing Sam. We were together awhile, but then we separated – I felt pressured by him also. After that breakup, I had second thoughts and wrote my song “Saying Goodbye.”

We reunited eight months later, and I wrote a song called “Meant to Me,” which definitely expressed how I had a feeling that something might go wrong. That sure was prophetic.

Not long after I reunited with my future husband, suddenly Sam came back into my life. In the past, I had alternated seeing these two men, but now I was involved with both of them at the same time. It was terribly guilt provoking. 

And my confusion extends to “I’ve Always Cared” because I cannot remember which man I wrote it for!

  In this picture, I’m graduating from Middle School and am about fifteen years old.

In this picture, I’m graduating from Middle School.

Hypnotherapy has really given me a lot of insight into the “black and white” thinking I grew up with. When I was young, it never occurred to me that there were other possibilities other than those extremes.

I felt I had to choose between those two men rather than consider that perhaps I was too young to get married. So I picked my future husband and he became the one.

At the young age of 21 I married and my black and white thinking led me into a very gray existence.

I was not happily married from the beginning. No one around me knew, lest of all me. I assumed that I had unrealistic expectations for intimacy and felt flawed. I was determined to make the best of it because divorce seemed terrifying. I ended up filling my empty spaces by relentlessly pursuing my career as an illustrator. My parents and children met my emotional needs.

I guess I could consider myself a teas. (Hint – those are tea leaves above)

I guess I could consider myself a teas. (Hint – those are tea leaves above)

I’ll never understand how it happened, but after thirty years of musical silence – I began to play my guitar again.

I was fifty years old and at a very low point. But then I discovered that music was like magic. My heart began to explode with feelings and it changed my life.

My emotional floodgates opened up and all of the feelings I suppressed for decades began to pour out. I started this blog and excitedly shared how I started taking voice lessons. I found my arranger, George through an ad on Craigslist. One by one, I had George arrange all of the songs I wrote as a young girl.

After two years I was ready to write new songs as an adult woman. I had waited to release them until I had recorded all of my older songs. The experience of writing those new songs turned my life upside down.

My lyrics guided me to end my marriage.

This feels so wrong

One of the most interesting stories that happened from my blogging was when Sam discovered the story I had written about him with my song story for “You’re Not the One.”

I was shocked when he left a sweet comment on my blog where there was a picture of us from our high school prom.

After thirty years we reconnected. He never even knew I had written a song about our breakup.

Links to those stories:

#136 THE VERY FIRST SONG I EVER WROTE

#137 YOU’RE NOT THE ONE – PART 1

Milk Thistle

It is not uncommon to hear stories of high school sweethearts falling in love and marrying later in life.

This is not one of those stories.

Sam is happily married with four children. I met his lovely wife at the time we began corresponding. When I decided to divorce my husband, Sam tried very hard to discourage me.

I have seen Sam on only a few occasions – he came to the hospital when my mother broke her hip. When I buried my father and later on my mother, he was at both funerals.

This story gives me a big smile because I never expected I’d know him later in my life. He has truly been such a wonderful friend.

Sam is a doctor and always ready to answer any questions I have and offer medical advice. He does this from the kindness of his heart and has helped several of my friends, too.

So there is additional irony about my song “I’ve Always Cared.” Both of us still care about each other even though he wasn’t “the one” I married!

Dandelion

I’ve been through a lot lately, because the last two weeks the flu bug roared through my household. I can honestly say that Sam and his caring made a huge difference.

Below is my email exchange with Sam. (My words are in brown and his words are in blue)

Hi Sam, I was at Urgent Care a few days ago with my daughter – she had a high fever and came over shaking with chills. They checked her for strep throat, but it was negative.

She’s slowly improving, but now my youngest son is sick. I’m healthy and plan to stay that way! Hope you are, too. I imagine you’re exposed to everything. Have a great day!

If your daughter has influenza, she should have been placed on Tamiflu…Sam

Now I’m really concerned about my son – this afternoon his fever was almost 105, it sure spiked quickly. He was pouring sweat all evening, and I’m hoping the night goes okay.

Your son might have influenza…in spite of receiving the flu shot, which has poor effectiveness this year. Tamiflu might be of some benefit, but I don’t know if your HMO is giving it…hope that he feels better!…Sam

I don’t know if they are giving it. But suddenly I’m not feeling 100%. I’ve noticed my throat is scratchy and my eyes are very annoying. The last time I had a low fever I had trouble handling it. I am praying I’ll be fine tomorrow.

If you have been exposed to someone with the flu, you should be on Tamiflu. If you take your son to his doctor, make sure that you ask for it, if they think he has the flu. Feel better!…Sam

This illustration was for a vitamin label. Echinacea is cold remedy – but I didn’t take it this time.

This illustration was for a vitamin label. Echinacea is cold remedy – but I didn’t take it this time.

Wow, Sam. I emailed my doctor and he agreed with you. He said it also could prevent illness if you’ve been exposed to someone with documented influenza. I didn’t realize this existed as a preventative. Don’t want to take up your time, but any side effects to be considered?

Allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and such…But in reality I haven’t had much trouble with it in my patients. Did you get your flu shot this year?…Sam

I did get my shot two months ago.

I just got home from taking my son to the doctor. He prescribed Tamiflu for my son and I gave him the first dose when we left. But on the way home he threw up in my car. I’ll give him the second dose tonight and hope it goes better. I’ll keep you posted on things.

His doctor did a swab of his nasal passage for an influenza test; the result is within 24 hours. His reasoning was that if my son tests positive for the flu, then he’d prescribe Tamiflu for me. Thanks so much for caring.

No…You don’t have the flu, but Tamiflu can help you avoid getting it altogether…as you said, it IS important to get the medication before showing symptoms like high fever…see if you can get him to prescribe it for you!

I would have prescribed Tamiflu for you as well, and then considered stopping it if his nasal culture was negative…but their accuracy is only around 70% or so anyway…hope he feels better!…Sam

Hi Sam, I’m a bit fuzzy and had a slight fever this afternoon. I received a message that my son did indeed test positive for influenza. The doctor said I could start taking one of my son’s Tamiflu capsules until I can fill my prescription.

I’m going to take my first dose now! Sorry to have bothered you so much with all of this – but thank you again for your advice. :)

How are you feeling?….Sam

I’m feeling better psychologically since I started taking the Tamiflu. I have never seen my son or daughter this sick in awhile. If I ended up with influenza, who would take care of me? Thanks again, Sam!

Judy

Ps. By the way, am I contagious?

I think that you are contagious…you may have the flu…not everyone that has the flu will have a full-blown case. I think that five days should be fine…if you are feeling better once you are done with the Tamiflu, you should be way less contagious…hope that all of you feel better!!!…Sam

For the last two nights, I was sweating a lot and my heart was pounding. But I didn’t get the flu! Now I have what feels like a common cold – I’m sneezing a lot. I can deal with it, except my eyes are terrible. I’ll be done with Tamiflu in two more days and am very grateful. I sure feel glad to have you in my corner!

Judy

Judy & Sam in front of apt

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2015. 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 MIGHT HAVE BEEN – PART 2

January 26, 2015

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN cropped

Since my divorce, I’ve cropped my ex-husband from the picture.

Click the blue link below to hear my song:

IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN #2-1/17/15 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

The blue link below is audio of a recent performance of my song:

IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN Audio of Judy’s Performance on 1/13/15

IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

Copyright 2015, by Judy Unger

-

It might have been the very first time we kissed

lightly sprayed by an ocean mist,

my mind was in a blur

I remember just how shy you were

-

No, it might have been the time I left you

Loneliness filled my dreams; you were my closest friend

and longing in my heart wouldn’t end

-

I’d never felt that way before; love was something new 

I often wonder when it was, I often wonder when it was 

I fell in love with you


It might have been the time I called to you in pain

As I shook, you held me close; I was not afraid

and through those darkest nights you stayed

-

All those times – so long ago

are in my memory

I still remember how you loved me

-

I’d never felt that way before; love was something new

I often wonder when it was, I often wonder when it was

I fell in love with you

-

The lyrics above were an addition to my song three decades later.

The lyrics above were an addition to my song three decades later.

-

Memories can be so many things for me. Sweet memories evoke sensations and can take me back to childhood. Traumatic memories hijack my mind to places I never want to revisit.

Sometimes I picture my memories as rings of growth on an old tree stump. Traumatic memories are the layers that appear as if they were created by a forest fire, clearly visible. I seldom have accessed memories below those burnt layers because it was too painful to get close.

The first song lyrics that I wrote as an adult woman were for my song named “Memory of Love.” Loving memories were clearly the antidote for me. I wrote that song because I mourned the loss of my mother; she was slipping into dementia and I was devastated to lose her. It was interesting that the lyrics also applied to my husband. At that time, I was very lonely in my marriage.

I married very young and I divorced last year after 31 years of marriage. I have tried hard not to feel guilty about hurting my husband since he never expected I would leave. In order to cope, I often find myself becoming numb and detached – as if my past belonged to someone else. Suppression of my honest feelings was also a familiar way of dealing with disappointment during my marriage.

The most beautiful part of exploring an older song is how it helps me to access memories prior to traumatic events that otherwise might have remained buried. That was why recording my vocal for “It Might Have Been” was extremely touching. 

Initially, I wondered how I’d find a vibe for a song about falling in love that I wrote as a young 19-year-old girl. It has been at least 35 years since I’ve experienced romantic feelings.

The image of that beautiful tree stump is in front of me. I see how I can now appreciate all of the beautiful rings of growth that represent my life.

And most of all, I appreciate the pure and honest core of my heart in the center of it all.

Link to my first story about this song:

#158 IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN-PART 1

This is a page from my diary when I was 19. My musings about self-love back then are fascinating for me. The same love for being creative in my youth continues to fuel me today.

This is a page from my diary when I was 19. My musings about self-love back then are fascinating for me. The same love for being creative in my youth continues to fuel me today.

At my last hypnotherapy session I said to my therapist, Connie, “I wrote a story about “It Might Have Been. But I’m not sure if I am going to share it. It’s very personal with my admission at the end.”

I read my story aloud and lingered upon the last line. My words were that I never experienced true intimacy in my marriage. It meant that I felt like I had missed out by not having what many other people have told me was integral to their life. And I felt damaged and vulnerable because of that.

Connie was an expert at guiding me to find my own answers. As a hypnotherapist, she wasn’t even allowed to tell me what to do. Her goal was always to empower me to help myself.

Certainly, writing my story helped me whether or not I decided to share it. What both of us discussed were the feelings that came with my closing sentences. I told her that I knew I could reframe my thinking and would work on that.

Then she pushed a piece of paper toward me. On it was written:

In to me, I see

I read the words aloud. It was such a clever definition for the word intimacy! I said, “This must be about how when someone loves you, they want to come in. It’s about feeling safe enough to let them in to see what’s inside of you.”

I continued by saying, “That definition works for me. I never felt like I could open up to my husband. I worried that honesty would upset him. We never would fight about anything; I looked the other way when he upset me and ignored my intuition that our relationship wasn’t healthy. I married so young and stuck with marriage even though my husband didn’t understand me. With my awakening I just couldn’t live that way any longer.”

Then I added, “But I’m really not looking to find intimacy, so I’m confused. I’m missing what I didn’t have, but definitely have no desire to find it now at this age!”

As we talked about my confusion, it made sense that since my past experiences in a relationship were so unpleasant, my subconscious would associate any future relationship with those same feelings.

It was time for hypnosis. I laid back and closed my eyes and floated off. I wanted to replace any thoughts that led to sadness.

I decided it felt better for me to focus on all the unique and special experiences I’ve had in my life, rather than dwelling upon things I felt I had missing out on. I said aloud to Connie, “Okay, I have experienced something amazing with my music – something I never imagined after 30 years of musical silence. I’ve connected with many people in beautiful ways and the experience of writing a song is magnificent; I feel and see things in my heart that I might never have discovered otherwise. I am so blessed to have music in my life.”

I awoke from hypnosis smiling. And it must not have been a coincidence that the music to a gorgeous new song composition began playing in my mind that week. I was completely uplifted.

I do miss the times when I could open my eyes wide like in the picture above.

I do miss the times when I could open my eyes wide like in the picture above.

It Might Have Been songsheet

This is the actual song sheet from 1980. In 2010, I changed many of the chords and wrote the melody. I didn’t have a recording to help me remember my song. I did remember the melody for the first line, though.

I have discovered that I am very vulnerable to both adoration and criticism.

It seemed like lately my musical focus was upon love songs instead of songs about loss. My last song arrangement was “Just A Tune,” which had beautiful words of finding love again. But the only way I could relate to it at this time in my life was with self-love.

My song that followed was “It Might Have Been” and it was about falling in love. I could not relate to it in the present and it forced me to remember how I felt when I was 19 years old. This led me to find insight surrounding my feelings about love that led me get married.

Every verse of my song (except the last one) held reasons for why I had fallen in love with my former husband. The last verse was written in 2010 and it was a challenge to come up with. I made it a summary for the other verses.

This photo is from a weekend retreat and I have no connection now with the people sitting there with me.

This photo is from a weekend retreat. My guitar and I were joined at the hip back then.

I dated a lot as a teenager. I remember that my husband won me over because he especially loved my music.

Music was the ticket into my heart and soul. I sang to him whenever we were together. I wrote him love songs. He brought me flowers every single week and it all felt magical. So at the young age of 20, I decided he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

I learned about love from my parents. I was very much adored by them, so it made sense that I searched for love in the same way. I was lured with adoration and my heart grew cold later on because of unrelenting criticism. 

After I was married, I no longer felt adored. I chalked that up to “real life” and assumed my immaturity and sheltered life gave me unrealistic expectations for love and intimacy.

My husband was difficult to please and very unhappy with his career. I thought if we did better financially, things would change for us. I devoted all of my energy into becoming a successful illustrator in order to make money.

Gradually, I withdrew from him and placed the blame upon myself for any unhappiness.

When I was 24, I saw a therapist because I was deeply depressed. She told me that my depression was related to my parents; I needed to confront them and set some boundaries. Two therapists directed a family meeting my parents, two older brothers and me. My husband did not attend.

After confronting my parents I felt more empowered, but it was a very draining and painful episode in my life. Moving forward things were different and I felt even more alone. It hadn’t brought me any closer to my husband.

All of this ended up pushing me into another direction. I impulsively decided that I was ready to have children. Subconsciously, I imagined it would fill my emptiness and bring love into my life.

Having children taught me about how selfless love actually is.

Unfortunately, Jason was born with a severe congenital heart defect. After that, my marriage was truly relegated to the back burner. Jason’s care swallowed me up and then grief slaughtered my existence with his death.

I went on to have three subsequent children after Jason; it was a life raft for me. I have been a very devoted mother and became a fierce advocate for all three of my living children when they had struggles in school due to challenges they were born with.

I suffered a terrible loss with my first-born son, but my three living children are a great blessing to me. Being intimately involved in their lives continues to give me my greatest joy in life.

Beach sunset 2

Romantic love was beautiful and even though it wasn’t something that lasted – I am grateful I had that experience.

My first verse for “It Might Have Been” is about a first kiss. Somehow, I overcame my squirming embarrassment while singing those lyrics. When I’m singing, memories transport me to a time when love was thrilling and my emotions were so innocent and pure.

In this picture, I am playing guitar on the patio where I now live.

In this picture, I am playing guitar on the patio where I now live.

The intimacy of my music is very much a part of why I do it.

I overlooked the greatest clue about my unhappiness when I stopped playing my guitar almost immediately after I was married. I thought it was because I was too “grown up” to do music anymore. I missed the friends who shared it with me.

I also missed my husband and the way he was before we were married.

I occasionally tried to play, but had no emotional connection to music anymore. And sometimes when I was singing alone, I would quickly stop whenever I heard my husband’s footsteps approaching.

That was my clue that I never realized until now. I didn’t feel like sharing my heart with him through singing anymore.

For years and years, I swallowed my sadness and closed off my heart to avoid the deep disappointment I felt about love and marriage. My mother had insisted I marry before my formal wedding because of her belief that pre-marital sex was a sin. I complied in order to please her – I wanted her to be happy, instead of disappointed in me. I wanted her to love me.

It’s no wonder why love has been so confusing for me.

Gladiolas

My song expresses a lot of wonderment about falling in love. I have thought about whether to rename it. But once again, the older name of “It Might Have Been” won out because it has a lot of meaning for me.

With the title of “It Might Have Been” I could imagine all the possible scenarios of how my life might have turned out quite different if I hadn’t married as young as I did. 

But then, I realize how I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted that. I adore my children. I found my clarity and it was: I wouldn’t change anything!

Everything I have experienced in my life has led me to where I am now.

I still believe there are many surprises in store for me ahead to dream about. But I am not mourning my past or living for tomorrow – I am living my dreams every single day of my life now.

I'd Never Felt That Way Before

I love this image that I often attach to this song because it represents my bliss because of music. Things might have been very different if I hadn’t changed my life in order to follow my dream.

I love this image that I often attach to this song because it represents my bliss because of music. Things might have been very different if I hadn’t changed my life in order to follow my dream.

Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2015. 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.

WE WERE STRANGERS

January 19, 2015

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Sailboat in chalk

I’m not sure how old I was when I  made the drawing and poem with lovely cursive below. All those sweet rhymes were my preview to becoming a future songwriter.

I am ready to set sail for some new adventures in my life!

I am ready to set sail for some new adventures in my life!

The man behind the desk in front of me carefully studied the documents I had just handed him. He looked up and said, “This is your first passport?”

I noticed that he seemed surprised. I grinned and said, “Yes, it is! I’m 55 and it’s time for me to travel to places I’ve never gone before. Is it that unusual for someone my age to get a passport?”

He told me it was and asked me what country I was planning to visit. I replied, “Oh, somewhere in Europe – but I’m not sure yet.”

As I walked to my car, I was delighted that I had taken a step toward doing something new and exciting in my life.

This is my current image for my song “I’ve Always Cared.” The bed with my guitar is sailing across a faraway ocean to somewhere unknown.

This  image is for my recent song: “I’ve Always Cared.” The bed with my guitar is sailing across a faraway ocean to an unknown destination.

The title for this post is from another song I wrote long ago. I have been working with my arranger, George on “I’ve Always Cared.” I’ve revised some of the lyrics added in 2010 and wrote new ones for a bridge that George helped to create. The song is bouncy and a lot of fun to sing.

A portion of my “arrangement in progress” can be heard below:

I’VE ALWAYS CARED Arrangement in progress-Copyright 2015 by Judy Unger

Caring seems to be a reoccurring theme of mine. It was in another recent song, “Just A Tune.”

I care about many things in my life. Most important to me are my three children. I care about my friends and even strangers who are hurting. I care about creating music that touches me.

Unfortunately, sometimes I care too much about what other people think of me. It was my habit in the past to expend a lot of energy trying to make everyone around me happy. My life is quite different since my divorce after a long marriage. I am trying to please myself more and worry about pleasing others less.

I hoped to travel with my newfound freedom, but because of my dry eye pain– it hasn’t felt comfortable or safe for me. But my eyes have improved to where I am willing to consider it.

There are a few special bloggers in faraway places that I would love to visit; I feel very close to them because of the intimate writing we’ve shared for at least two years now. Taking a trip to meet any of them feels very meaningful for me.

So my story begins with the reason I actually felt inclined to get my very first passport. It was because of an invitation from a woman named Sarah (not her actual name).

Sarah and I had been writing to each other for several months. I wrote a story about her when we first connected on the Internet. She found my art blog and wanted to purchase an image to use for her website. I gave her a discounted price and she was thrilled.

After that, I shared my love for music with her and we began corresponding. On one of our exchanges, she sent me a lovely picture of a butterfly on her window and invited me to visit her in Europe.

Link to that story #451 I HOLD ON

butterfly at the window 2

Sarah seemed very warm and kind. Even though she and I didn’t speak the same language, she amazed me with her ability to write fairly articulate email messages.

Her messages were enthusiastic and filled with encouragement about my music. Over and over she reiterated that my voice really touched her when I simply sang with my guitar. It motivated me to start practicing so I could perform again.

After eight months of reclusiveness (because of eye pain), I began to play at open mics. It wasn’t easy, but I was pleased that I had pushed myself. I eagerly told my new friend how she had inspired me and sent her links to view my performances.

This image is from my first performance back playing after 8 months. My eyes bother me a lot when I perform.

This image is from my first performance back playing after 8 months in August of 2014. My eyes still bother me a lot when I perform.

When I mentioned that I might actually take her up on her offer to host me, she insisted that a week wasn’t going to be long enough – she hoped I could stay at least two weeks. I began to seriously consider planning a trip the following summer and it was all very exciting.

Sarah told me she was would try to arrange for me to perform in her town when I visited; she said she was certain that my music and stories would be appreciated. I hadn’t finalized plans for my visit other than obtaining a passport, which was a good thing.

Only a few days after we had talked more about my visit, she sent me a startling message. A better word than “startling” would be “horrible.”

I was left scratching my head and wondering how such sweet interactions could change in an instant.

Sarah’s message was a list of points that proved to her how self-centered I was. She raked me over the coals and accused me of bombarding her with messages. She felt I was insensitive to her recent illness and all I cared about was music.

I had actually bought a nice Christmas gift I planned to send her and was glad I was able to return it.

She ended her diatribe with a truly vicious paragraph. It seemed that my songs about my mother infuriated her. I never imaged my music could inspire such anger!

I wrote back to her with a simple message:

I have every right as a human to express my feelings about my dead son, parents or whatever. I share my experiences and many other people have told me that they’ve been touched by it. I’m relieved now to know that I’m not going to visit someone who is unstable and easily angered. My intentions toward you were always loving and your words surprise me because they are mean-spirited and hurtful.

Mom & I 2

I tried not to allow her words to upset me. She was someone I’d never met, but I had opened my heart to her. I was so glad that this had happened before I actually went to visit her in a foreign country. It was terrifying to admit how awful my visit could have been with someone capable of writing such a cruel message.

When I shared this experience with my children, they all said pretty much the same thing. “Mom, the Internet is filled with people who say hateful things. It shouldn’t come as such a shock to you.”

I didn’t want to be affected by any of this, but I was. I especially felt irritated with myself because I had been so blindsided. I thought it might be helpful to write to my grief forum friends for support.

My message was:

Recently, there’ve been many posts about how upsetting it is when other people want us to “get over our grief.” People who are uncomfortable with it are one thing, but then there are others who can be incredibly hostile.


It has only been about a year since my mother died. I was very upset last week when I received an angry message from someone who had listened to my songs.

I have never felt that my loss was greater than anyone else’s by writing songs about loss and love. I will continue until my last breath to remember my dead son and my dead parents. I appreciate the support from this group. Her message was:

“There are millions PEOPLE ON EARTH WHO LOST THEIR PARENTS! I lost both my mother and my father, who I loved more than anything on this earth! Most of us are so f#@%&g sorry to lose our parents! Do not you think? But you talk about the loss of your mother, as if the rest of the people on Earth do not have any parents. YOU ARE / WERE SO SPOILED, and find it difficult to accept nature’s time, and that we ALL MUST DIE ONE DAY. People do not care to hear of others family tragedies in the edition that you represent in your song to your late mother! Why? Because: Your dead mother is NOT worth more than my dead mother or others dead mothers, and because of it, your song is WORTHLESS.” 

Mom with me

Judy, what a horrible expression you were sent! Your Mother is worth more to you, nothing to her, such a disgusting comment. I am so sorry to hear you have been subjected to that tirade. Try not to think about it. No one understands what we go through until they go through it for themselves. There is surely no need to degrade anyone else’s expressions of grief.

OMG, what a bitter, bitter person! Keep writing songs, Judy!

Yay, Judy! I support you in self-expression. Based on the last three years after the death of my grown daughter, I am clear that for me at least, the most profound need of grief is its own expression. And so, I have become a writer and am on the last leg of my master’s degree in writing and about to complete a novel. Best to you and keep it up!

Judy, the only thing that may be of any value out of that angry post you received is that the angry sender had “a place” to direct some of her anger. I’m glad that you are able to see her “stuff” for what it is worth. Clearly, you did not deserve that. You keep creating what is beautiful and comforting. I will pray that hostile woman begins to find some comfort and peace.

Wow, Judy. The bitterness and anger in this message that was sent to you speaks of more than just your song. This woman is free to not listen to your song or simply not bother with you at all but instead chose to spit out such anger and for what purpose? If it were possible, I would block this woman from ever sending messages to you again. She obviously doesn’t understand the reason you do what you do and how it helps other people with loss.  Once again – wow!

That is the most terrible thing I have heard someone say to another grieving person. Judy, you have helped a lot of people, especially here in the group. You keep writing and singing your songs. Don’t let this person get to you.

Azalea Group

The messages of support from my grief forum members did lift me up. For weeks, I avoided writing this story because I wanted to simply put it behind me. But then I decided there was insight that I gained from this experience.

One of my favorite mottos that always uplifts me is:

TAKE THE BEST AND LEAVE THE REST!

I love that line because it works for almost every experience in life. I simply discard unpleasant things and grasp what is useful.

My experience with this stranger across the world definitely taught me many things. Perhaps I was too trusting and open. And if I was overly enthusiastic about my music and a bit self-centered – I accept that perhaps I am that way at this time in my life.

I actually gained some very big benefits from my interaction with Sarah. She encouraged me to embrace performing again. She inspired me to consider traveling to Europe.

I’ve never gone there and one day I plan to travel there with my hairdresser, Shahin. We’ve been friends for over a decade now. Shahin is from Afghanistan and has family in many European countries. I feel very safe with her and I’m certain our trip will hold wonderful experiences for me.

Originally, when I told Shahin that I wanted to visit Sarah, she warned me to “be careful” about visiting an Internet friend. A few days ago, I sheepishly told her that I wasn’t as careful as I thought I was.

This image is from a beautiful lunch made for me on my birthday by my hairdresser and good friend, Shahin. She is from Afghanistan and the food she prepared for me that day was delicious!

This image is from a beautiful lunch made for me on my birthday by my hairdresser and good friend, Shahin.
The Afghan food she prepared for me that day was delicious!

One thing I learned early on as an artist (and as a human) is that everyone has differing opinions. As a songwriter, if I seriously listen to opinions from other people about my music, I get confused and anxious. This happens even when my friends have positive intentions.

When I shared my story about Sarah with a good friend (who is very supportive of me), she said, “You know, I shared your songs with someone else who told me the same thing; that you were overly praising your mother.”

Those sentences definitely bothered me and made it hard for me to let go of my hurt feelings. I’ve written many stories on this blog describing interactions with my mother that were less than perfect. I felt misunderstood.

This is a picture of my good friend, Janis with her mother. Her mother died a week after my mother died in October of 2013.

This is a picture of my good friend, Janis with her mother. Her mother died a week after my mother died in October of 2013.

A few days later, I was able to put all of this behind me when I had lunch with my good friend, Janis.

Our mothers had died a week apart in October of 2013. We had met for lunch many times since then and shared our grief. Now over a year later, it was not at the forefront of our minds like before.

Janis and I chatted happily over Japanese food, catching up on life over the past few months. Then she said, “Oh, by the way – we had a small family gathering last week for the unveiling of my mother’s headstone.”

Suddenly, she reminded me how I had played my song “You Were There” at the funeral for her mother; I had completely forgotten about it. I was honored to have been asked. It was only a week after my mother’s funeral in the same location.

Janis asked her daughter to read the lyrics to my song “You Were There” aloud at the gravesite where the family gathered. But her daughter said she couldn’t because the words choked her up too much. Janis wasn’t able to read them either. In the end, she told me her son read the lyrics to my song aloud.

I was touched and smiled. My good friend had related my song to her own situation.

I thanked her for sharing that and then told her about my upsetting “Internet experience.” Now I was able to laugh it off. Janis even added to my good feelings by telling me her daughter had made her a special pillow as a Mother’s Day gift last year.

She said, “The pillow has a picture of my mother on it and the lyrics from your song!”

You were there memorial pillow

All my life, every day

You were there when I’d need you

All the time, I just knew

You’d be there and you’d see me through

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2015. 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 STILL REMEMBER – PART 2

January 10, 2015

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Her Garden & Guitar

I didn’t do anything musically between the ages of 21 and 50, and I’m grateful that when I began playing my guitar again after almost thirty years, I could still remember most of the songs I wrote so long ago.

Sometimes, I imagine myself to be a song gardener.

I’ve been an artist all of my life. And working with music involves much of the same abilities I’ve used as a professional illustrator.

As teenager, I know I never imagined the things I can now do with music and art on my computer. Initially, I was overwhelmed by learning how to use a computer. But gradually I embraced the digital age and now I’m in awe of what a computer does for my creative life.

There’s a lot that I do as a song gardener, and most of it is not about composing new songs. I’m very busy growing and tending to the huge song garden I already have. Occasionally, I will write a new song when I’m very emotionally moved to do so. In 2014, I composed five new songs: “My Shining Star,” “Misunderstood,” “Take Me Away,” “Watching You Grow” and “Wonder Why.”

This picture was taken two years ago when I played guitar in the garden for my mother at her nursing home.

This picture was taken two years ago when I played guitar for my mother in the garden at her nursing home.

Perhaps I could be more dedicated to writing new material, but exploring older songs has a healing aspect, which allows me to understand more about myself.

In May of 2010, I met and began working with an arranger named George. Our first arrangements were usually created quickly in one session. George recorded me playing my guitar and then added instrumentation to the recording.

I’m still attached to many of those early songs, but now George and I collaborate to create arrangements over several sessions. The process we use is called “Midi” and it allows for many more options, such as the ability to easily change instruments, key and/or tempo.

As I redo some of those older songs, I’ve become more open to chord and lyric changes than I was in the past. As a result, many old songs that I thought were “throw-aways” have been transformed into something new and touching.

I’m a 55-year-old woman and it has been a long time since I last felt romantic love. I was squirming recently while singing the lyrics to one of my old love songs – especially when I mention a first kiss!

But I’m really excited to share a new arrangement for “It Might Have Been” that is absolutely gorgeous. The sweet music and melody remind me why I love being a passionate songwriter.

My song is a magic carpet that sweeps me off my feet and transports me to an ethereal place.

IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN #2 Guitar Mix – Copyright 2015 by Unger

Technically, I am proud that I’ve expanded my ability as a guitarist by playing a lead line instead of fingerpicking like I usually do. I give the credit for that to George. I plan to share a story about this song with a vocal soon.

Last August, it was very touching for me to sing the very same song I wrote when I was married at a garden wedding for my niece.

Last August, it was very touching for me to sing at a beautiful garden wedding for my niece. I played the very same song I wrote when I was married.

The line of “I still remember” was a later lyric addition to both “It Might Have Been” and “Laughter and Tears.” I find memories of love to be uplifting.

The line of “I still remember” was a later lyric addition to both “It Might Have Been” and “Laughter and Tears.” I find memories of love to be uplifting.

LINK TO PART 1 OF THIS STORY: I STILL REMEMBER – PART 1

This photo was taken in a garden long ago, when I was 20. I am wearing a necklace given to me by my future husband. After I was married, I never received another piece of jewelry from him.

This photo was taken in a garden long ago, when I was 20. I am wearing a necklace given to me by my future husband. After I was married, I never received another piece of jewelry from him.

HER SONG GARDEN

The Princess was a song gardener.

When she began to write and sing from her heart, she imagined that she was on a journey, going to fabulous new places. She especially dreamed about fame and fortune because she wanted her family to share in her excitement.

But it turned out her journey wasn’t about seeking those things.

When the Princess opened up her heart, she climbed out from a dark hole of emptiness that she had lived with for far too many years. Once she was in a place of light, she found clarity and decided to completely change her life. She found her courage because of the songs that magically appeared with lyrics to guide her.

Even though she had been lonely for years, it was still scary to leave behind the only life she had ever known as an adult.

From the time she was 21, she had shared most of her life with a former Prince who ended up becoming a Dragon to her. When she left him, their offspring all depended on her. After travelling down a fiery path of unbelievable change, the Princess prayed for healing.

My bedroom view

-

She suffered greatly from pain in her eyes and it felt like her journey was over. Her pain would not allow her to move forward or even dream.

She found healing when she let go of looking for her journey’s destination.

Slowly, her dreams came alive again. She pictured herself languishing in beautiful golden valley, surrounded by song blossoms. The Princess lived a simple life and felt her strength returning.

She shared a tiny cottage with two of her children, but her noisy sons often disturbed her concentration. She loved all of her children deeply and never missed the enormous castle she once lived in even though she had more space to find solitude. The many years filled with stress and worries were behind her now.

When her sons were home, she was quiet and withdrawn. But whenever she was alone, she would dance and sing aloud with abandonment.

Her heart was open and loving as she spent her days cultivating an immense garden of songs.

She labored with so much passion that sometimes it left her exhausted. But the sweet melodies were magnificent and only reinforced her dedication. The Princess felt that her songs were sparkling jewels and she treasured every single one. In the past, she had doubted her self-worth and felt discouraged because she hadn’t made enough money to satisfy the Dragon.

Now the Princess felt rich because of her songs. Every new song bloomed more beautifully than the one before it.

She loved the words of “I still remember,” even though there were so many things about her past that were painful to remember.

It was because she knew that her feelings and memories were the seeds for her lovely garden.

When she fully allowed herself to fully view the exquisite landscape of blossoms that she had tended now for several years, she was in awe. She was certain there was nothing in the world more beautiful – she didn’t have to spend her life searching anymore.

All she did was travel within to find it.

This image was created for a chapter in my audio book about my life, which I hope to share someday.

This image was created for a chapter in my audio book about my life, which I hope to share someday.

Judy playing in a garden

© 2015 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.

ONE DAY YOU ARRIVED

January 5, 2015

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

This year, I was blessed to have many wonderful illustration assignments. Illustrating Chai for a yogurt label was actually fun. Occasionally I receive assignments that are challenging, especially a recent one for gourmet popcorn.

Last year, I was blessed to have many wonderful illustration assignments. In this picture, I’m illustrating Chai for a yogurt label. It was actually fun. Occasionally I receive assignments that are challenging, especially a recent one for gourmet popcorn.

Time used to be my enemy while in grief, but now time is my friend. Often, I’ll have wonderful ideas for a blog story but run out of time to write down my thoughts. I’m exploding with feelings, but most of my energy is spent expressing myself through music.

My desire to express myself creatively is probably due to the fact that I spent decades with everything locked inside.

For most of my adult life, I devoted myself to my family and worried about making everyone around me happy. I adore my children and now I’m teaching them new lessons about self-exploration!

I have been an artist by profession since 1981; I continue to illustrate and am always thankful for the income. But it’s interesting how throughout my life I was never passionate about art like I am now about music.

Perhaps it’s because being an illustrator isn’t as creative as it might seem. There is little self-expression involved and my energy is directed toward pleasing my clients.

At this time in my life, I feel like I have arrived as an artist because I can choose the jobs I want to take. I feel very appreciated by my clients and it’s a wonderful feeling.

For every job, I search to find reference that will help me.

For every job, I search to find reference that will help me.

Chai illustration and cup

Recently, I had a small job illustrating popcorn. I tried very hard to make the product look appetizing – it was more challenging than I can possibly share here. Despite the outcome, I found the art director to be lovely; we got along well even though the job didn’t go well.

This was the actual product below:

Chocolate pocorn actual product

My first layouts, which resembled the actual product above, were rejected. After that, I was given precise instructions for ways to “enhance” the product. Chocolate drips and chocolate covered peanuts had to be visible; even a “cut-away” of popcorn was requested. I purchased another brand online for reference and created new layouts that looked nothing like the actual product I had been sent.

Chocolate Popcorn Choices

It was probably a good thing the job was cancelled. I completed one final painting and had worked very hard to develop all three flavors. But the idea of a phony image on a label with a disclaimer of ”artist’s conception” felt like a lie to me.

I was eating very healthy until this project gave me far too much temptation.

I was eating very healthy until this project gave me far too much temptation.

Almost every post on my blog is titled with a line of lyrics from one of my songs.

I titled this story with a line from my song named “Watching You Grow.” My song was written because I was elated at seeing how my children had come so far. In the back of my mind, I also wondered about my child who never had the opportunity to grow up since he died at the age of five.

I started this post sharing my growth as an illustrator.

And at the end of my post I will share a story about a boy who lost his mother when he was a teenager; she never had the chance to see what a wonderful man he grew up to be. One day he arrived to share that with me!

Then you're beside me

What I do with my musical expression is say what is true for me. I love lyrics because they tell a story with just a few simple words.

Sometimes, my lyrics will change simply as they fall out of my mouth. Recently, as I was singing a new vocal for my song “Beside Me Always” – a single word changed. The word “and” became “then.”

I feel your love and you’re beside me

became

I feel your love then you’re beside me

I was surprised how I had done this in such an unconscious way. I wanted to understand my reasons for that change, and the insight I found was very profound for me. Changing the word “and” to “then” related to healing.

When I wrote lyrics for “Beside Me Always” before Jason’s funeral, I wanted to forever imagine him being beside me. That image was very comforting.

But had my dead child been beside me always? I was very isolated by my grief; the truth was that I longed for a sign of him for many years and instead, there was only emptiness and longing.

It was my love for him that broke my heart, but later on I realized how much he wanted me to heal. After years of anguish and emptiness, I found peace with his essence of pure love. Now I felt him; he was always there even when I couldn’t see him.

I hardly played my guitar for thirty years, but there were a few special exceptions. I performed “Beside Me Always” at the funeral for a good tennis friend who died 17 years ago in 1998. Her name was Linda Shaff.

I wrote about our friendship on my blog in 2010. Then last year, Linda’s son, Todd discovered me through my story about his mother. Reconnecting with him was a truly remarkable experience and I wrote two stories with the links below:

#386 I WAS BLESSED TO BE HEALED – PART 1

#387 I WAS BLESSED TO BE HEALED – PART 2

Todd lived in Northern California, about 300 miles away. I had little memory about meeting him; he was only a young boy during the time when Linda and I were friends. So many times she had confided to me how she worried about him during her long battle with ovarian cancer.

After Todd reached out to me, we became Facebook friends. Two weeks ago, I saw a post that he was in my area visiting his father. I sent him a message:

Hi Todd, if you are ever able to squeak away while visiting your dad – let me know. I’d love to see you both. Hope you had a nice holiday!

The next day, I received a message back from him with an invitation to meet him at a deli for lunch. I couldn’t believe it; all these years later I would actually meet Linda’s son who was now a 35-year-old man!

I sent him a message accepting his invitation below:

Sounds perfect! I need to stop by Guitar Center for some strings and it’s right near there. I’ll see you at noon and I’m treating!

I drove up in front of the deli and recognized Todd right away from his pictures on Facebook. He smiled as he recognized me, too.

One of the first things I asked Todd was why he chose this deli for us to meet at. He replied sweetly, “This is where Mom used to take me on special outings together. I thought it would be nice to do that with you.”

As he spoke about his life, I was having a long conversation with Linda in my mind. I said, “Oh, Linda – look at this wonderful man you gave birth to. He’s achieved so much and I wish you could have lived to see this moment. Or can you see us? I wish, I wish you knew how happy I am to meet him!”

Todd shared with me about his passion for teaching. It was obvious that he loved his job and the rugged area he had chosen to live in. He brought me up to date about his father’s life and seemed to be very centered. Even though he wasn’t in a relationship, he clearly looked forward to becoming a father.

I hadn’t had time to pick up my guitar strings and Todd offered to go with me to Guitar Center. He also played guitar and thought it might be fun for us to check out some interesting guitars together. I hopped into his large pickup truck and he drove. All the while, I couldn’t stop smiling.

Together we examined the many steel-string guitars in a back room. I pulled one down and decided to play one of my songs. I surprised myself by singing aloud. Normally I wouldn’t have done that in such a public place, but it was just the two of us in an empty room. The acoustics were great and my voice was very soft. As I played, Todd began to join in with lead guitar. It sounded magical.

Afterwards, Todd drove me back to the restaurant where I had left my car. He said, “You know, my mom loved you so much. She said she could tell you things that no one else could understand.”

He had no idea how much his words warmed my heart. I never knew that Linda felt that way about me. She had asked me to sing and speak at her funeral and I knew that was a great honor. I was glad that I overcame my fear of death and asked to see her the day before she died. I would never forget that day.

Linda will always

It happened as I said goodbye to Todd. A shiver went through me.

I felt her beside me!

My eyes were watering as I drove home. Linda and I continued to have a lovely conversation in my mind.

Judy & Todd 2

LATER CORRESPONDENCE:

Todd, it was so wonderful to have lunch with you. Have a safe drive back to Santa Cruz. I predict 2015 holds many wonderful things in store for you. See how great you look in the pictures we took?

I really enjoyed spending time with you as well, Judy! Great pics! I wish you the best of luck with your music and songwriting career… you have such a lovely voice! 

Todd, thank you! I changed my strings (to the Martin’s you recommended) and they’re great. I’m recording some guitar into one of my songs today and I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m going to try to play some “lead lines” like you did. I’m not that good at it – I’ll let you know how it works out!

Happy New Year, Judy! I’m glad you like the different gauge strings. Enjoy recording your beautiful songs. I would like to sit down sometime and find some songs we can play together…maybe you can even give me a tip or two on bettering my singing voice. Lunch warmed my heart, and brought back wonderful memories of Mom. I know she is pleased we are becoming friends. Please stay in touch and let me know how your music develops…and if you ever want to come up and check out Santa Cruz, I have a guest room and love to do tour guide! With Love, Todd 

I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a special year for you. Yes, your mom would be so pleased about us meeting. I swear I had shivers as I was saying goodbye to you. I actually felt her presence!

Judy & Todd 1

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2015. 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.

ANGEL IN THE SKY – PART 2

December 28, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

In the sky 2

-

ANGEL IN THE SKY

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

-

My love for you grows over time 

with every song and every rhyme 

I dream about your sweet embrace 

your sparkling eyes; your beautiful face

-

You are my angel in the sky, like a butterfly

you flew away and couldn’t stay

we had to say goodbye

I still cry, so you must know I miss you so

my angel in the sky

you’re my angel in the sky

-

Your precious smile glows in my mind

you uplift; you are my gift

And when I die; you’ll hold my hand

my lovely light, just not in sight

-

CHORUS

-

Gone for years and I still cry

don’t you know, my love just didn’t die

-

You are my angel in the sky, like a butterfly

you flew away and couldn’t stay

we had to say goodbye

I still cry so you must know

I miss you so, my angel

Gone for years and I still cry

You’re my angel in the sky

-

-

Guitar with Jason on his bed

-

Click the blue links below to hear my songs:

ANGEL IN THE SKY #2-12/28/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

ANGEL IN THE SKY #2 – Guitar Arrangement

Below is a link to the first story about this song:

#329 YOU’RE MY ANGEL

-

In 2012, I wrote my song “Angel in the Sky” to express enduring love for my child who died in 1992.

I was excited about “Angel” from the start; George and I began arranging it before I had even finished composing all the chords and lyrics. My song fell into place and I loved our first arrangement for a long time. But for some reason, I kept struggling with my vocal for it – I felt my voice was either too soft or too harsh for this song.

During that time period, George and I turned many of my songs into instrumentals. The link to the instrumental for that first version of “Angel in the Sky” is below:

ANGEL IN THE SKY #1 INSTRUMENTAL – Copyright 2014 by Unger-

As I’ve continued to explore new arrangements for many of my songs, I chose to do a new arrangement for “Angel in the Sky” with the hope that this time the music would evoke more emotion from me. I find this new version to be hauntingly beautiful. George’s encouragement to add a bridge caused the song to really touch me more because of the new lyrics I wrote for it.

Love just didn't die

Three words of: “I still cry” arose in my subconscious after I had an exchange with a woman named Sammi. Sammi articulates her grief very well and I’ve shared our correspondence before on my blog. A few months ago, I had shared with Sammi one of my favorite inspirational songs named “Hang On.” Sammi replied:

Judy, what a beautiful song you have written for us. It brought me to tears. If I had any objections, it would be to the line about how the “pain will go away.” 

I ache every minute I’m awake and it is worse when I am with other people. It’s hard to hide that you are screaming like a banshee inside. I can understand your protective feeling over your music and how it is interpreted. This is after all, the baring of your soul through music.

Sammi, I wish I could tell you your pain will go away with complete honesty. I cry when I sing and I sometimes I still cry about my son. The tears are there but the pain is different.

It would be better if my lyrics went, “One day your agony will go away.” That is what I meant. But there probably is a better way to say it – so I thank you for your feedback!

Judy, I didn’t mean to imply that your lyrics needed changing. They do not. I was just stating my preference. Your music is very personal to you and I would never do that. I had no doubt you still cry for your son. No doubt at all.

Playing guitar for Jason's class

My desire to inspire hope of healing to people who are in deep grief comes from a place of compassion. Sometimes, I’ve regretted telling someone grieving that they will feel better in the future because I have no way of knowing that. The best truth I can offer is only as an example. And that means I must be clear about what healing means to my own life.

Many years ago, I went to see a woman whose young child had died the day before. A relative of mine had asked me to go and offer her comfort. When I arrived, the woman was sitting despondent on a sofa and her family was gathered around. The room was hushed and everyone there hung upon my every word.

I didn’t know what to say. But the question she wanted me to answer still echoes in my mind. She asked me if she would ever feel better and be happy again in her life.

I still know this woman and she has told me that I helped her tremendously even though I wasn’t sure what to tell her about anything “getting better.” At that time, my child had died only two years before (in 1992) and I was grieving deeply.

The reason I am writing about this memory is because hope of healing was something I never imagined I could offer. I always prayed that I would feel better after my son died. It was horrendous and unbearable for many years and I lost hope many times.

In 2010, I achieved great joy from writing and music after living like a zombie for over thirty years. Now I had done more than simply survive my grief; I had actually found happiness. It was so miraculous for me that I wanted to share my story with the world.

I devoted the next two years to writing about my life and the healing I achieved.

Story covers

I spent days, weeks, months and years creating an audio book. My audio book consisted of 34 audio stories and in total was 10½ hours long. The entire process taught me a lot about recording because I put my words under a microscope. I recorded my stories several times over. I scoured the recordings for sibilant (harsh) noises.

I even illustrated covers for every story.

I was very close to releasing my book in 2012, but then my father died. A month after his death, I decided to end my marriage. Shortly after separating, I was plagued with complications in my eyes due to cataract surgery. On top of those things, my mother had dementia and was rapidly declining. It was all very overwhelming.

Looking back, I see how my focus upon “cleaning up” my audio recordings was a metaphor for my life. Erasing flaws was something I did by tuning out the many unpleasant aspects of my marriage for years and years. I was a master of smoothing things out for my parents and children; I smiled, but inside I was lonely.

A year later, the excitement I felt about healing from grief faded away. I came to the conclusion that my audio book was preachy. The biggest issue I had was with my speaking voice. In order to avoid making “harsh sounds,” I spoke many of my stories with a sweet and artificial voice. It wasn’t me!

Not only did my voice sound phony, my message of finding joy just wasn’t ringing true for me. So the book I had worked on for thousands of hours was shelved.

I still plan to create a new audio book someday. It will happen when I am peaceful and clear about what I want to say. My journey is now about doing what truly makes me happy – creating music.

Music is magical and swirls through me; my songs are alive and I’m always finding new insights from them.

Instead of slaving to tell my story, I’ve decided to live it.

#2 JASON MARK PART 2

LYRIC EXPLANATIONS AND THOUGHTS:

We had to say goodbye

I have a great attachment to butterflies and see them as metaphors for death and grief.

Jason came very close to death as an infant (he had a severe congenital heart defect). Although he lived five years, inside I felt certain that I would have to say goodbye to him someday.

On my first arrangement, I sang: “You are an angel in the sky.” For this version, I found myself singing instead: “You are my angel in the sky.” It was because the music inspired a much more personal feeling for me.

My Love for you

Many of my songs can be woven together lyrically. I revised the lyrics for my song “Beside Me Always” shortly after Jason died. The line of “I dream of you in a distant sky” became a foundation for “Angel in the Sky.”

Jason and ET

Your precious smile

I’ve chosen to look at my son’s death differently after so many years of agonizing grief. What I once labeled as “just another nightmare,” has been transformed into something that uplifts me. My son was an extraordinary gift to my life because he has inspired me in many beautiful ways.

INTRODUCTION

-

When i die

The words above express how my son’s presence as an angel has alleviated many of my fears, including my own death.

There is so much for me to say about “my lovely light” that I wrote a story about it. The link is below:

#460 MY LOVELY LIGHT

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those words above are from my song “My Shining Star.”

I continue to maintain healing from my grief but I will always miss my son. He is close by and comforts me whenever I cry.

I still cry

Not only are the words “I still cry” in my bridge, they are also in the chorus.

When I wrote the new bridge lyrics, I allowed the mood of the music to help me. Those few simple words can cause me to become quite emotional – especially with the subsequent line of, “You must know I miss you so.”

I am directly speaking to Jason – telling him that even after all these years I still miss him. His absence was shattering.

“My love just didn’t die” when he did.

Angel in the Sky

The evolution of those three words “I still cry” actually began with another song of mine.

I composed “Every Season” in 2010. It was my first completely new song that I wrote after 30 years of musical silence. My first version of that song had a line in it that I decided to tweak two years later.

The line I changed was: “As the seasons go by, each time I still cry.”

Because I didn’t feel sad on Jason’s death anniversary in 2012, I decided I had most certainly healed. My absence of tears was proof. I revised the line to:

“As the seasons go by, the memories don’t die.”

My new line was also very meaningful for me. But something clearly was brewing with the fact that I didn’t like the line of “I still cry.”

I write a lot about tears, perhaps because suppressing them was my habit for a long time. When music touches my heart, being emotional is a release for me; every tear represents love and longing.

I don’t feel I have to prove that I’m “over” my son’s death.

My child, Jason, has been gone now for twenty-two years. I see his absence as sad, but my “angel in the sky” has never left me.

The message that continues to ring true for me and that I can share is: I have survived the worst part of my loss.

And I have achieved happiness that I never believed was possible after losing my son.

Jason under me

 

My angel’s sparkling eyes shine through in this picture.

My angel’s sparkling eyes shine through in this picture.

© 2014 by 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.

JUST A TUNE – PART 2

December 25, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Clicking the blue link below plays my song:

JUST A TUNE #2-1/5/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

 Below is a link to hear the arrangement with my guitar added:

JUST A TUNE #2 Guitar Mix-Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

-
Other links for this story:

HOW MUCH I CARE

JUST A TUNE-PART 1

I CAN FEEL LOVE AGAIN

The lyrics above were revisions to my song “Just A Tune” that were made in 2012. My original lyrics from 1970 did not mention becoming my own best friend.

The lyrics above were revisions to my song “Just A Tune” that were made in 2012. My original lyrics from 1978 did not mention becoming my own best friend.

JUST A TUNE

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

Just a tune to tell you, you’ve been on my mind

I’m so thankful for our love

you’re someone I never dreamed I’d find.

 -

You’ve shown me how to care

I’m blessed because you were always there

But with everything you have given me

The greatest gift was that moment when

I could feel love again.

 

Just a tune to tell you,

how much you’ve done for me

don’t know how I lived without you

before we met I was so empty

- 

You’ve helped my heart to mend

From you I’ve learned to be my own best friend

But with everything you have given me

The greatest gift was that moment when

I could feel love again

-

For such a long time I felt alone

You came along, filled me with song

and love I’ve never known

-

Just a tune to tell you, love made my life new

My broken heart has healed

it began from the moment I met you

-

You’ve shown me how to care

and what it means to be my own best friend

but with everything you have given me

the greatest gift was that moment when

I could feel love

I could feel again

Now I can feel love again

Love made my life new

Judy & Cheryl in 1985

“Only Three Chords”

Hearing my beautiful arrangement was like being surrounded by a lovely fragrance all day long. I was intoxicated and heady as the melody looped through my mind and heart.

The arrangement evolved in three sessions.

The song was almost finished after the second session but I wasn’t that excited about it. The thought of continuing to work on it with George wasn’t something I looked forward to. I didn’t want to interfere with his magic by picking apart the arrangement.

Many times, especially with a song I’d written years ago, it wasn’t easy for me to hear it in a different way. When George created a new ending, it didn’t move me the way the original ending did.

I told George that I was sorry for being such a “stick-in-the-mud” and he created the ending I wanted. Still, the song was unfinished for me and I wasn’t sure what would change that.

At my next hypnotherapy session I worked with my therapist, Connie to brainstorm some other approaches to this. I decided not to label myself in a negative way with a term like “stick-in-the-mud.” My song was about finding love and ironically my truest feelings were expressed with the simple phrase of: “I prefer my original ending because I just love the way it sounds.”

I recently performed my song at Kulak's Woodshed. I'm back performing but have difficulty opening my eyes because of dry eye problems.

I recently performed my song at Kulak’s Woodshed. I’m back performing but have difficulty opening my eyes because of dry eye problems.

I came to the third session and George said, “Is the song finished? What do you want to change?” (He might have said “wreck”).

I smiled and surprised myself. I said, “I feel like some of the chord passages are repetitive. I’m open to changing some of the chords. Can we try that?”

I guess I wasn’t such a stick-in-the-mud, after all!

For half an hour, George tinkled on his piano. Within an instant, I heard fabulous variations that I had never thought of. My melody would remain the same, but those chord changes lifted my song into another place. How could three chord changes make such a difference?

All of the choruses had to be replayed and re-recorded. When George finished he said, “Jude, next time can you please decide what chords you want before we start the arrangement?”

Both of us were pleased with the end result. I let George know he had knocked it out of the park for me once again; his arrangement was spectacular.

So now I’ve decided that sometimes coming up with new chords for a song can be a wonderful thing. All of this is now framed by my mantra of: “I love the sounds that move me.”

I get to choose those sounds. It’s okay to be unsure and exploring can be fun!

Cheryl & I solvang 2

I wrote my song “Just a Tune” in 1978 when I was 18 years old and it was dedicated to my best friend at that time named Cheryl. The lyrics were simple and my song had a catchy repetitive melody. I loved singing it and my friend did, too.

I created my first arrangement of “Just a Tune” in 2011. Like many of my early arrangements I recorded two guitar tracks first and George created his arrangement around it.

Click the blue link to hear a snippet of my first arrangement from 2011:

JUST A TUNE #1 – Blog excerpt

Now when George and I create an arrangement, it is done with a process called Midi. Everything is much smoother rhythmically and I record my guitar into the arrangement after it’s finished.

When I first recorded “Just a Tune,” I revised the lyrics considerably and shortened it. For my newest arrangement, I revised the lyrics even more and George encouraged me to add a bridge.

George also made an excellent suggestion that we modulate the last chorus and the key goes up a whole step. But his musical genius came through when he created seamless modulation at the bridge before the last chorus. I always treasure his ability to make my song into a masterpiece.

Diary- being real & Cheryl 2

One of the most emotional lines in my song for me is “that moment when.” Originally, my song rhymed the words “again” and “friend.” I decided I wanted perfect rhymes and instead chose the word “when” to rhyme with “again.” Everything fell into place with that change because I also inserted the word “best” in front of friend.

When I sing “that moment when” I feel tremendous emotion because I’m reminded of the blessed moment my life changed because God healed me with beautiful music. And I did become my own best friend after years of loneliness.

Throughout my life, I’ve maintained many wonderful friendships. I have exceptional friends who have stuck by my side for decades.

But when I was younger things were different. My friendships were filled with unbridled joy and intimate sharing. And the flip side was that I often coped with emotional turmoil when things didn’t go well.

When I began writing this blog, I delved into one of my deepest hurts that occurred while I was in high school. I suffered terribly when things went badly with a friend named Elena whom I adored.

When I met Cheryl in college, she definitely inspired me musically because her passion for life was infectious. I opened my heart again and my song “Just a Tune” reflected that.

That time period in my life was so joyous. Besides adoring Cheryl, I was close to all of my girlfriends at that time. It was a special “club” and those memories are ones I cherish. Once I was married, it all ended and so did my music.

Unfortunately, I experienced that same and very familiar disappointment during my relationship with Cheryl. Things were never really resolved and we drifted apart for many years. We reunited a decade later, but she lived far away and we were never close again like we were in the past.

Sadly, Cheryl died in 2008 after battling with breast cancer for 11 years. I stayed in touch with her mother. Attending her mother’s funeral a year ago was my chance to truly say goodbye to Cheryl because I wasn’t able to attend her funeral in Cleveland.

I love how Cheryl lives on for me through my songs.

Cheryl & I singing together

When I recorded “Just a Tune” in 2011, I wondered if my song was a prophecy for me to find love again later in my life. So many of my songs have been prophetic. I wrote songs about grief before ever experiencing it.

For my first arrangement I sang, “I can feel joy again” instead of “I can feel love again.”

At that time, I was very joyful about music and healing. But for my new arrangement, I decided to return to singing about love. I definitely could “feel again.” But had I ever stopped loving?

I certainly loved my children and parents; I was completely devoted to them.

My devotion to others came with a high price because I denied every feeling I had. I accepted my empty marriage and didn’t feel I deserved companionship or affection. I had little joy and refused to allow for any feelings of sadness either.

Finding the courage to change my life was ultimately a huge testament to self-love. I was valuable and deserved more from life. I never wanted to hurt my children or my husband whom I had been with for so many years of my life.

But if I continued living the way I was, I had no hope for happiness. Feeling love and subsequent joy happened as a result of giving myself permission to write and create music. I preferred the concept of “feeling love” to “feeling joy” for my second arrangement.

When I think of Cheryl, I am always reminded of how precious life is. She desperately wanted to live.

I am blessed because my life is truly a gift. I’ve decided to unwrap it now and enjoy what’s inside.

Just a Tune songsheet A

My original songsheet from 1978.

My original song sheet from 1978.

Cheryl's card

TRANSCRIPTION:

Judy,

How can I tell you how much you mean to me – how much your advice and company bring happiness into my life? I’m not really one for words, so I think I’ll just end on this note (♪). You mean everything to me and I never want to lose you.

I love you, Cheryl

Judy, Cheryl & Just a Tune

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

NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 4

December 22, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS 

I recently remodeled my bathroom. In the picture above, you can see my new toilet and sink/vanity. But the wastebasket there has been replaced and my story about it will follow!

I recently remodeled my bathroom. In the picture above, you can see my new toilet and vanity. But the wastebasket there has been replaced and my story about it will follow!

I am a 55-year-old woman living my dream. Two years ago when I separated after a long marriage, I started writing parables using a Princess metaphor for myself. But for the “not so ordinary” Princess stories, I see irony and am filled with humor.

Recently, I’ve done a lot of remodeling to the coop that I own. I haven’t had great experiences with remodeling, even though when it’s over I appreciate the improvements. Many times it has simply felt like an expensive form of torture.

There was a time early in my former marriage when my ex-husband remodeled the home we were living in. He was always very enthusiastic when he began a new project, but once he was into it – well, I can’t find the words to describe the stress it caused. His mood, interspersed with the dust had me hating the entire process. We lived with unfinished drywall for several years until my parents treated us to having someone else complete the job.

The last home we lived in needed major repairs and the lack of money for it was an ongoing issue that upset my husband. I detached because at the time I was overwhelmed by problems from my children and parents.

I hoped remodeling the coop where I now lived was going to be a better experience. It was almost the same age I was and definitely needed repairs. I wondered how this process would be different by hiring other people to do the work. I had done that before and my ex-husband found fault in almost every case.

Whomever I hired could very well rip me off, but it felt like a lot less pressure than I’d had in my past.

I started with replacing floors in my dining room and kitchen. Then I decided to do my tiny bathroom. It would look great with a new floor, but from the beginning it opened up a can of worms.

My old bathroom floor first needed to have the coving on the walls pulled off. I hired the same Irish handyman I’d used before. His name was Shane and he was very enthusiastic about his work. He also knew I was pretty ignorant about most home repairs.

I’ve come a long way since when I left my marriage of 31 years and moved into the coop apartment where I grew up in 2012.

I’ve come a long way since when I left my marriage of 31 years in 2012 and moved into the coop apartment where I grew up.

Shane came to remove my old bathroom floor and that was when he pointed out a big problem. He motioned me into the bathroom. “Walk over here,” he said.

I looked at him. “What am I looking for?”

He guffawed. “Do you hear that squeak? The floor is moving!”

After that, he gave me a long lecture. The wood under the floor was rotten after so many years of water damage and leaks. And there was a long visible crack at the bottom of the shower.

That night, I pictured my large 17-year-old son taking a shower and screaming as the floor broke under him. It was meant to be that I wanted a new bathroom floor and it wasn’t even cosmetic.

Shane told me that he’d replace the cracked concrete shower bottom with a fiberglass one. But most importantly, he’d repair the wood underneath. Perhaps I could have gotten another bid, but I trusted him.

For a week, he worked long hours to get the shower to done. My home was dusty and the worst part was that the toilet was often “unavailable.” My coop unit only had one bathroom.

I was reluctant to ask any neighbors so the alternative was a toilet in a storeroom near the pool area.

Spooky storeroom

I remember using that old bathroom as a little girl when I was swimming or playing outside. It had a concrete floor and was dark and dingy.

Unfortunately, there were times when the key for it didn’t work. A few days before, I had struggled to open that door for ten minutes. I finally gave up and ended up waiting another hour. This situation was not great for any person, let alone a Princess!

Whenever Shane took a break he would ask me if I needed to use the bathroom. I didn’t care that the window was open and people could look in. I danced over his tarps and tools. I needed to go and certainly drinking a lot of water contributed to that urgency.

For over a week I was able to shower at the local YMCA where I swam laps. I asked my sons if they wanted to go there, but they refused. My youngest son ended up jumping in the freezing swimming pool to get “refreshed” after a week without a shower.

Thankfully, every night the bathroom was usable. I shuffled over dust and dirt. It was cold and drafty from the open rafters where the shower bottom had been.

One night a gigantic cockroach scuttled by while I was on the toilet. I prayed it would go back from where it came. It was getting harder to be patient because at that moment I had about reached my limit.

I could see that it was hard work for Shane. But he was very enthusiastic and took pride in his work. He snapped pictures as he went along to share with his brother who was a contractor.

I’d make him a sandwich for lunch every day. One day while he was munching on it I said to him, “Hey, you’ve seen this place really improve. Remember when I moved in? That was pretty tough for me.”

Aside from dealing with separation, I had undergone my third eye surgery the month before and was supposed to be careful lifting anything.

Shane shook his head and practically shouted back, “Lady, you have BALLS! Anyone who could do what you did and leave your husband – that takes balls!”

He was outspoken again the next day. It seemed that he had a pretty good picture of what was going on where I lived. He had heard me nagging my youngest son to clean up after himself in the kitchen.

As usual my son said, “Oh, I’ll do it later, mom.”

Shane’s face was dusty white as he emerged from the bathroom. He said to my son, “Hey, if I forgot to clean a frying pan when I was growing up, you know what happened? One of my eight brothers would throw it onto my bed! I would wake up with a pan over my face!”

Picturing that image was hysterical and I actually considered doing something like that to my son during one of my more desperate moments.

The shower repair led to other things. Before having the new floor installed, I purchased a new vanity and planned to re-glaze the rusty bathtub, once the dripping faucet was fixed.

Purchasing a new toilet wasn’t easy because during that time my leg was bothering me. I limped through a large home improvement warehouse. My two large sons had instructed me to get a toilet with the most powerful flush possible.

It was often hard for me to keep a straight face when my older son lectured his younger brother about “proper toilet etiquette.” He told him that cleaning a “dirty spot” on the toilet seat by moistening toilet paper with toilet bowl water was strictly forbidden.

I stood waiting for a salesman in the plumbing department for 30 minutes while my left leg was aching. I was practically in tears when someone finally showed up to help me. Then the toilet box wouldn’t fit in my Honda Civic. It took another half hour of waiting to have someone remove it from the box.

I drove home very carefully so the toilet wouldn’t go flying around my car. Unfortunately, it led to problems later on because the installation instructions were missing.

But despite everything, I was proud of how I had managed to do all these things! Soon my bathroom would be done and my apartment would be in tip-top shape. My deceased parents who had once lived there would be so proud of me.

The woman who owned the flooring company was a lovely person. I found her name to be beautiful – it was Melodye. Melodye had meticulously overseen the installation of new floors for my dining room and kitchen. She told me to call her when I was ready for her to come back to finish my bathroom.

Yes, I did use the bathroom with the window open when I was desperate!

Yes, I did use the bathroom with the window open when I was desperate! In this picture, Shane is trying to figure out the toilet installation without any instructions. The toilet did not go in easily and took two days.

Finally, Shane had sealed the tile grout and the shower worked. I pushed aside my dismay that cosmetically the tile didn’t look great. I called Melodye and practically shouted, “I’m ready!”

She came over and said, “The installer will remove the old toilet and you’ll have your handyman put the new one in the next day.”

With great seriousness I said, “Please tell me I’ll have my bathroom at night!” I reminded her that I had walked on the dining room floor the night after installation.

Melodye paused and said, “Oh! I forgot you only have one bathroom. Yes, the toilet can be put back on that night.” (My former residence where I lived for 18 years had 4 bathrooms.)

Finally this would all be over. The installation was scheduled.

The floor installer arrived. This man was very serious and didn’t smile.

All day long, I hid in my bedroom. The installer ran into some major problems with the “subfloor.” It entailed more work and money. The noise and dust were horrendous. But I could see the finish line approaching.

This picture was taken when my kitchen floor was done. It was pretty noisy and dusty.

This picture was taken when my kitchen floor was done. My apartment still has a lot of dust everywhere.

It was now dinnertime and getting dark. I had used the storeroom bathroom all day. I gingerly knocked on the bathroom door and sweetly asked this man when he might be finished.

His voice was icy when he answered. “Why? Are you leaving or something?”

I told him I had just wondered.

Two hours later he was finally finished. I was very excited to see how the new floor looked!

The floor was beautiful but I noticed gobs of white stuff oozing between the linoleum tiles. It was very different from the dining room floor installation. The installer said, “Do not walk on this floor until tomorrow! The sealant is wet and you must let it dry.”

I opened my mouth and mumbled that Melodye said it was okay. He bristled and said sharply, “No, it is not okay!”

An hour later, Shane stopped by. He looked at the oozing floor and said, “No way am I putting in the toilet tonight. You’d better listen to the floor installer. Call me tomorrow when it’s dry and I’ll come back.”

Wastebasket

It was 9:00 p.m. and I had to pee again.

I grabbed the storeroom key and shivered. I put on a robe and figured I’d go quickly. I was foolish to go barefoot without a flashlight. As I walked across the dark patio, my toenail collided with an object. I thought, “Damn, Shane still hasn’t moved his tools or cleaned up the yard.” This was the second cracked toenail I had in a week.

I came back from the storeroom and realized it was going to be a tough night. I wished I hadn’t drunk any water that day. My eyes were hurting from the dust and my leg ached whenever I stood up.

My two sons came out from their rooms and examined the wet floor. They were upset about the bathroom, too.

My youngest son said, “Mom! Are you kidding me? We don’t have a toilet tonight?” With emphasis he said, “Well, I’m going to use a bottle!”

I rolled my eyes when he said that and didn’t answer him.

Now it was 11 p.m. It was unbelievable but I had to pee again!

On top of everything, the heater was broken and my apartment was cold. The prospect of going out to the storeroom where it was colder was just too unpleasant.

I decided to try to be resourceful.

I looked over at the bathroom wastebasket that was temporarily in my bedroom. It was made of wicker; my mother had picked it out during one of the shopping excursions she and I used to go on together. Remembering those outings gave me a smile.

Next to the wastebasket was a box of items I’d temporarily emptied from the vanity. Inside were some medium trash bags. I took one out and put it into the wastebasket.

I was desperate now. I grit my teeth and gingerly squatted down. Could that little wicker trash basket actually hold my weight? I balanced myself and with great relief I peed. I was so happy to be inside my own bedroom – I wouldn’t have to trek to the storeroom tonight!

I checked to be sure the plastic bag hadn’t leaked. No, my method had worked perfectly. I felt like I had honed some amazing survival skill and crawled into bed with relief.

I awoke at 3 a.m. needing to once again use the bathroom. But I knew I had conquered my challenge and the night was almost over.

I turned on the light and gently lowered myself onto the trash basket. I was amazed at how full the bag was!

Suddenly, there was a loud knock at my door. It was my youngest son!

I shouted, “DO NOT COME IN!” The thought of him seeing his mother sitting half-naked on a wastebasket gave me chills to the bone.

He replied, “Why can’t I come in? Your light is on – what are you doing?”

I said, ”I’m not dressed! What do you want?”

He said, “I wanted to tell you what a pain this is! I just came back from using the storeroom toilet.”

I took a deep breath. My son loved complaining to me. He could have come up with his own method but when he mentioned a bottle I had rolled my eyes, which probably discouraged him.

Now I was a traitor so I would have to keep my survival skill a secret!

The next morning, I carried a heavy bag of pee to the storeroom and carefully emptied it. I hoped no one noticed me carrying a yellow bag there at 6:00 a.m.

When my bathroom remodel was finished, I bought new rugs, towels and a new wastebasket.

I would never forget my mother’s old one, though!

My story ends with Shane going AWOL. He never came back to finish a few things, did not reply to messages and even left tools in my backyard. I returned them to a friend of his who lives in my building.

My story ends with Shane going AWOL. He never came back to finish a few things, did not reply to messages and even left tools in my backyard. I returned them to a friend of his who lives in my building.

To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with how the grout looked when Shane was done. I did ask him to fix it and perhaps that was why he didn’t return.

To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with how the grout looked when Shane was done. I did ask him to fix it and perhaps that was why he didn’t return.

Every day, my blog’s stats page lists search terms that people use to find my blog. I was a bit startled by the one mentioning my son putting my face in the toilet bowl. That was before I wrote this story, too!

Every day, my blog’s stats page lists search terms that people use to find my blog. I was a bit startled by the one mentioning my son putting my face in the toilet bowl. That was before I wrote this story, too!

© 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.

A BRIDGE CAME ALONG

December 19, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

For this story, I was actually able to find a photo from a family vacation where I was on a bridge in Hawaii in 2008.

For this story, I was actually able to find a photo from a family vacation where I was on a bridge in Hawaii in 2008.

bridge (noun)

structure allowing passage across obstacle, link or means of approach, linking piece of music 

bridge (transitive verb)

build bridge across something, create understanding 

Bridge synonyms:

Connection, conduit, link, tie, association, channel, passage, join

There is a tiny bridge there on the left side. This illustration was one I did in college for a children's book assignment.

There is a tiny bridge there on the left side. This illustration was one I did in college for a children’s book assignment.

Although I am a passionate songwriter, I find the process of writing lyrics to be very draining. They erupt from me and the energy behind them is very contracted. Perhaps heartfelt words are deeply embedded because of my habit of denying my feelings for many years.

Beautiful music inspires me to write lyrics. The melody tugs at my subconscious and helps me to find lyrics that are honest.

For my last two songs, my arranger George worked with me to create bridges for songs that didn’t have one before that.

Each time, I wasn’t thrilled about it because I didn’t want to write those additional lyrics and melody. I wasn’t confident about whether I’d come up with anything good enough.

The truth was that inside my head I was literally “kicking and screaming” and even considered making those “change-up chord” areas a musical solo because that would take the heat off of me.

Every time I sang my song, I could feel the music swelling. A solo wouldn’t add meaning, so I knew I had to add words. And those passages needed words that would have an impact because I was making a final statement to sum up my song’s meaning just before the climax.

I couldn’t sing vocals for my new arrangements until I wrote those bridges, so I was very motivated.

The whole process was very meaningful and it propelled both songs into a more touching and spiritual place for me.

My new arrangements with those bridges can be heard by following these links to the original stories:

Story behind ANGEL IN THE SKY-PART 1

Story behind JUST A TUNE-PART 1

Bridge for Angel in Sky 2

When I wrote the new bridge for “Angel in the Sky #2” last month, I had to truly face denial of feelings with the words of “I still cry.” Those words caused inner conflict for me because I have been very positive that I have healed from grief. But with that admission I found clarity and it also added a lot more emotion to my vocal.

For certain, I know that tears are healthy. I can still cry and believe in healing.

Then last week, I finally wrote the bridge for “Just a Tune #2.” It was amazing for me how those few lines just summed it up. They were so simple!

Judy and the Bridge

Bridge for Just a Tune 2

“More about how much I care”

I came to my hypnotherapy session filled with musical joy. I was bursting and beaming because I loved my latest song, “Just a Tune.” I told my therapist, Connie that I had finally written the bridge and the day before I had recorded a vocal for it.

I celebrated with her how things were going better for me. Connie had certainly witnessed and played a part in my transformation to becoming “my own best friend.”

Initially, I felt unsure about my song’s theme of finding love again. How could I find love again if I wasn’t open to a romantic relationship?

I didn’t need to find love again because love had never left me; I always felt love for my children and parents.

Everything changed when I embraced the theme of self-love. When I became my own best friend; it changed my life. I was whole and stopped looking for approval from other people.

I wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s happiness – only my own.

I ended up not using those exact lyrics above. The concept of self-love is far more healing than looking for someone else to heal a broken heart.

I ended up not using those exact lyrics above. The concept of self-love was far more healing for me rather than looking for someone else to heal my broken heart.

I love this image of myself playing guitar when I was 21.

I love this image of myself playing guitar on a beach at sunset when I was 21.

Part of the reason I loved the new arrangement for “Just a Tune,” was because there were a few small chord changes. The whole process of being open to changing chords is another story, but Connie picked up on that.

If three new chords could make a difference to my song, wasn’t that another great analogy for my life?

Sometimes, small changes truly can make a difference.

The simplest way for me to change anything always started with changing my thoughts. It was an ongoing exercise.

A few weeks earlier, my sessions revolved around my frustration that my ex-husband was moving to another country in six months and was uninvolved with his children.

Once he moved away, I would be responsible for all of my 18-year-old son’s expenses. I helped all three of my children financially and this issue had me seething with the unfairness. Through hypnotherapy, I wanted to turn this around.

Instead of placing my energy upon what my ex-husband wasn’t doing, I congratulated myself for the being there for my children. My new motto became: “I care.”

How interesting that my latest song had a prominent lyric line of “You’ve shown me how to care!”

The word “care” had another special meaning for me; it was a wonderful replacement word for responsible. When my parents were sick and declining, feeling responsible for them filled me with pressure.

Caring takes away pressure. It allows me to see everything as an expression of my love. Love is healing and that is where I want to go!

I love this picture where I look so blissful!

I love this picture where I look so blissful!

“That moment when . . .”

Those three words above are lyrics in my song “Just a Tune.” They represent an “a-ha” moment.

I was under hypnosis now. Connie asked me if there was anything I could let go of. There were plenty of things I thought of – I had a lot of stress over small things and physical ailments. I wanted to maintain my healthier track and lose weight, but food was starting to comfort me again.

Just like chord changes – I wondered what small steps I could take to get back on track. Of ways that I could show caring to myself! 

Then I remembered my challenge to write those two recent bridges. It was something I desperately wanted but couldn’t force. I really had to let go for that.

That was when I began to think about a bridge being a metaphor for my life. As thoughts formed, I felt very inspired.

With enthusiasm I blurted out, “Connie, you know, a bridge is a transition. It takes the second chorus to the third chorus and allows the song to build in a magnificent way. It’s a brief passage, but that connection is very important because it pulls everything together.

And that moment was when it clicked and I said, “You know –  I’m in transition!”

The thoughts continued to rapidly shoot through me. Certainly my past was deeply linked to my present. My new life was filled with adjustment and all of it was a link to my future. I hadn’t reached the “last chorus.”

So, the best was yet to come for me!

I’m excited about the music I plan to release to the world next year. I’ve designed album covers for 6 CD’s of music!

I’m excited about the music I plan to release to the world next year.
I’ve designed album covers for 6 CD’s of music!

© 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.

HOW MUCH I CARE

December 15, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Poem from Cheryl

My friend, Cheryl, wrote the poem above for me in 1980. She inspired my song “Just a Tune” and I really miss her (she died in 2008.) I share more of her touching words from another card at the end of this story.

My children mean everything to me. All of the above pictures have deep stories behind those smiles.

My children mean everything to me. All of the above pictures have deep stories behind those smiles.

When my children were young, I was immersed in creating a beautiful childhood for them. During that time, I anguished over their challenges, sibling rivalry and the occasional scary emergency room visits. I have no doubt that the loss of my first-born child clouded everything and brought with it a lot of additional anxiety. The flip side was that I was in awe of their existence and treasured them.

I am always relieved when my children tell me how much they cherish sweet memories while growing up. So often, I was exhausted and overcome by frustration that I couldn’t smooth over all the fighting that went on. My husband was usually angry overall and I felt awful that I couldn’t make him happy either. In order to function with so much unhappiness, I plodded and refused to allow myself to feel.

In a “diary of my life,” I feel like the last 30 years are emotionally blank pages. My grief was a lingering dark cloud where I carried a heavy umbrella fused to my back. The sun didn’t shine and my enjoyment in life came vicariously by living through my children.

My current life is a huge contrast to my prior existence. I no longer feel like I’m required to put on a happy face. Rather than denying emotion, I am fully immersed in feelings and memories.

I am a woman following my songwriting dream because the emotional expression of my songs soothes the emptiness I’ve carried for a long time.

This is a snapshot from an old home movie of me playing the guitar when I was 17.

This is a snapshot from an old home movie of me playing the guitar when I was 17.

Because the last 30 years were filled with so much emotional detachment (other than deep grief), I often return to the time when I had passion for life. That would be when I was a budding songwriter between the ages of 17 and 21.

It’s probably no coincidence that my memories from that youthful time are also jogged because of my close involvement in the lives of my three children who are now 18, 21 and 24.

In my past, my life revolved around emotionally fixing things for my children and I still tend to do that. But my greater energy is toward my own feelings now.

I wake up every morning knowing that I have many choices about how I want to live my life. The greatest choice is whether to feel happy. When I’m not feeling great (and especially when my eyes hurt), I know that I must search for ways to feel better.

I feel like I have gone from riding through life emotionally in the back seat to steering my own course!

I realize that steering is an illusion of control and it can add pressure if I allow it to. I try to reframe thoughts of: Where the hell am I going? Am I going to crash?

Instead, I prefer to think: “How exciting that I’m steering my life now. It hardly matters what the destination is because this trip is the best part!”

The lyrics above were revisions to my song “Just A Tune” that were made in 2012. My original lyrics from 1970 did not mention becoming my own best friend.

The lyrics above were revisions to my song “Just A Tune” that were made in 2012. My original lyrics from 1978 did not mention becoming my own best friend.

Link to hear my song in progress:

JUST A TUNE #2-12/18/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

-
 Embarassing and amazing – a brief recording of my song from 34 years ago!

Just a Tune – Excerpt from a cassette recording by Judy in 1980

-
More about my song is at the links below:

I CAN FEEL LOVE AGAIN

JUST A TUNE- PART 1

“The Emotional Wall”

I couldn’t wait to sing a vocal for my new arrangement of “Just a Tune.” There was only a slight problem, though – My song did not have finalized lyrics or a bridge.

I continued to experiment with new lyric ideas for a third verse. And late at night I sang line after line of scrawled words for a bridge. I hoped a sweet melody would appear.

Finally it happened!

Even though I wasn’t completely sure about the new lyrics or bridge melody, I planned to record my song anyway. It would be great practice and I might even improvise and discover something great. It had happened to me before.

I had a deep connection to my song and that was priceless; I didn’t want to wait. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon. The sky was a brilliant blue and I felt excited. I sang at every stoplight and within five minutes I was at the studio where I recorded my vocals.

It was a beautiful place to sing, a home recording studio that was built as a labor of love by an Israel singer. His son, Darrin, was my engineer; he was a busy and talented musician in his own right.

After so many sessions of listening to me sing, Darrin was quite familiar with my singing style.

I often chuckled and reminded him, “Now you know my secret! I’m not a great singer – but I am really adept at editing all those takes in order to get something that’s decent.”

I was always amazed at how often I sang off-pitch. Perhaps it was because with headphones on I had trouble hearing myself sing.

I was getting closer to releasing my music, but there were many older songs that I was still working on. Sometimes, I had trouble finding the connection I really wanted for them.

A week ago, I saw how sturdy my emotional wall was. After I sang a fourth take of “Beside Me Always,” Darrin announced over my headphones, “I’m hardly feeling any emotion from you today.”

On the next take, I concentrated on my lyrics and suddenly the wall went down. I was gasping as I opened my mouth – the painful flashbacks were too vivid for me to sing through.

I left the studio that day with 4 boring takes and one that was blank except for few weepy words trailing into tears. I wished I had something in between.

My original music transcription for my song, Just a Tune.

My original music transcription for my song, Just a Tune.

I wondered how it would be singing “Just a Tune.” I wasn’t sure what emotion I’d find.

The friend I had written it for back in 1979 had died seven years ago. And we weren’t close for many years before that.

Projecting future love felt terrifying and impossible, although so many of my songs held prophecies for me. I was certain it would choke me up if I projected my song to a future imaginary lover; I wasn’t going there.

There was only one way I could relate to my song – it was with self-love.

Finding my own worth was what actually allowed me to create the music I loved. I probably never would have found the courage to change my life if it weren’t for the lyrics from my subconscious that guided me.

My gratefulness for it knew no bounds.

I was so empty

For over a week, “Just a Tune” was the only song I was attached to and it had been tough to sing other songs.

I burst into the recording area and said to Darrin excitedly, “I’ve got a brand new song arrangement I’m going to sing today!” Darrin grinned and said he was looking forward to hearing it.

I put on my headphones and took a few deep breaths. I was ready.

From the first notes, the music lifted my heart. As the introduction played, I mentally repeated the lyric changes in my head. I hoped I could let go of that focus so my song would have emotion.

No doubt, I would be coming back to record this song on another day. But this was such a glorious start!

I began to sing . . .

As my words flowed out, I was reminded about how music had truly healed me of all pain in my life. I remembered how lonely I had been for decades in my marriage. For 31 years, nothing could have been lonelier than to live with someone whom I hid all of my feelings from. But I was never lonely since I’d found my music and writing in 2010.

After I sang my song two times, Darrin said, “Can you try to sing with more emotion on the next take?”

Judy & Cheryl at the snow

I closed my eyes, took a slight breath and gently opened my mouth to sing.

And that was when I heard Cheryl’s voice! It was unmistakable – She gently spoke my name.

“Jude – Come on, Jude.”

There was something so soothing about the way she said it. I could hear her smiling with those words. A tear began to quickly swell in the corner of my eye. Suddenly, I could remember the feelings that caused me to write “Just a Tune.”

But it was such a long time ago!

Cheryl and I at my wedding

I played it for Cheryl almost every time we were together. Initially, she would study me as I sang. Her eyes were doe-like while she mouthed the words along with me.

I treasured the sweet memories of playing my guitar and singing that song around a campfire. During some of my best times in my life, I played my song on a beach with the sun setting behind me.

Now my emotional wall crumbled and the tears gushed forth.

My brain was yelling, “Oh, my God! You are a 55-year-old woman and the last time you were excited about being with someone was when you were 19. And it was with a girlfriend! For decades you’ve lived with a void that no one else has ever filled – that is so very sad!”

That was all it took. My singing turned into tearful gasps.

My eyes were closed and I heard Cheryl’s voice again. She whispered, “Jude, it will be okay.”

Then she was gone.

The music continued playing and I sniffled as salty tears dripped onto my neck. I was desperate to get a hold of myself. Then I laughed aloud with embarrassment that Darrin was listening to my weepy warbling.

A few minutes later, I was back singing.

This time, I allowed the sweet melody to wrap around my heart and comfort me as I sang.

Cheryl and I folk dancing

Transcription of my 20th birthday card:

Judy –

I know that words cannot express what actions convey, but still I feel the need to write to you. So many times my heart literally aches with love for you, our friendship, for us. This love I feel is genuine, I know, because of the way that I feel about myself. Remember the saying “You can’t love someone until you love yourself?” Well, I’ve always believed that, but it’s meaning has really hit me hard the past few months.

You see, never have I been so happy to be me and the kind of love that I am feeling for myself makes me want to share that love with you – because I can only give you the best that I am and you’ve given me the courage and confidence to go out and search for that person in me. I feel as though you’ve helped me to understand, to come to terms with what’s important in my life (internally and externally). You’ve given me more than anyone ever has – my life wouldn’t be as special if you weren’t here to share it with me.

And just as much, I want to share your life with you. For me to thank you and to tell you how much I love you doesn’t seem like enough . . .

Love, Cheryl

Cheryl's words 2 Cheryl's words 1

© 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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 363 other followers