Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

TRANSFORMING MY LIFE

July 16, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Peaceful Sky ouline

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

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

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Peaceful Sky pastel

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

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Peaceful sky cutout

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

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MISUNDERSTOOD Karaoke in Progress-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

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

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

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

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It was all because of my new song!

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Songwriting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing Guitar

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trans·form (verb)

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

“My transformation”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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COCONUT PUNCH vertical

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“Transformation as an artist”

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

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

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

The process of learning through experimentation never stops for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo Reference

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

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

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

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

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All Layouts Coco punch

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

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Coconut punch bar front

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I also illustrated a dark chocolate raspberry bar.

I also illustrated a dark chocolate raspberry bar.

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY BACK FINAL ART

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

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

Bar photo reference

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

Transforming the bar

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

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

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

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Transforming the bar 2

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

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

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Transforming the bar 3

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“I transform my pain into a song”

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

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

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

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And for writing a new song!

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

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

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

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

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

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Playing Guitar B&W

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

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

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

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Original sky

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You won't forgive me

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

WONDER WHY – PART 1

July 7, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

WONDER WHY -

WONDER WHY

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Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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

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Although I am hopeful, I long for belief

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I wish for a way that could explain

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Why life holds so much pain

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I look at the mountains into the blue sky

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I wish somehow I could fly

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Away from sadness, torture and madness

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As I cry, I wonder – why?

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Life can be sweet, we hope and we dream

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‘til tragedy leaves us to scream

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Diseases and death, lives are destroyed

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Prayer vanishes into that void

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I look at the mountains into the blue sky

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Searching for answers before I die

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For those who suffer, the road is much tougher

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As I cry, I wonder – why?

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

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So much of life seems so unfair

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People are broken and filled with despair

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I look at the mountains into the blue sky

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My doubt is something I cannot deny

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If this was planned, I don’t understand

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God, I cry and wonder – why?

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

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Click the blue link to hear my song:

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

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WONDER WHY GUITAR INS Copyright 2014 by Unger

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Links to other stories about this song:

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#429 HOPING

#430 I WANT TO BELIEVE IN YOU

#432 MY DOUBT IS SOMETHING I CANNOT DENY

#435 FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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what you have planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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She never saw her child.

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She never held her child.

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

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i want to believe in you

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

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Life has not been kind to her.

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

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But Magda does not have any doubts.

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

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

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

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

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

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I DEDICATE MY SONG TO A SPECIAL FRIEND, MAGDA

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

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

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

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But unfortunately, her illness has continued to progress.

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

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On Feb 1, 2010, Magda wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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MY LOVE TO YOU, MAGDA

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

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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On February 2, 2010, Judy Unger wrote:

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

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

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I love you so much,

Judy

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Mountains and sky

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I look at the mountains

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

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Hi Magda,

I dedicated my most recent song to you.

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

Love, Judy

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

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

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

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

Love, Judy

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

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

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

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

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

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I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART, MAGDA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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Below is a message that another member wrote to Sammi:

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Sammi,

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

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

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

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

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Thank you.

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Sammi

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I think about life

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

IT’S NOT MINE

June 30, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Kim getting ready to sing

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

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

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HANG ON-PART 1

HANG ON-PART 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-You are broken

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Kimberly said it was still confusing to her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kim & Judy at Darrin's 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kim & Judy at Darrin's

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

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

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Tulips-Yellow Group

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

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

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

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

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And then there was a revelation for me.

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

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

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And the pain was mine after all.

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Your eyes show

-Hopeless eyes

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

I’M THANKFUL FOR LIFE

June 13, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I left a comment expressing those feelings and she replied:

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

b-butterfly-medley-pink.jpg

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

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Blake's comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guitar with Butterflies-

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

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

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

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

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

Flowers-Orchid Spray

Links to my stories about meeting Sandra in Yosemite:

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#394 MY SOUL I WOULD RESTORE – PART 1

#395 YOU UPLIFT, YOU ARE MY GIFT

#396 MY SOUL I WOULD RESTORE – PART 2

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

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THE FIRST TIME

May 29, 2014 at 12:16 pm

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

I’M SOARING FREE

June 12, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

helping me cope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eagle at Sunrise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Judy & Joni with blowing hair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Rose Solo

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

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I went from crying to chuckling with that thought.

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

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

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

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I blurted out, “I’m free!”

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

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

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

I may be stressed

3n‰

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

WITH JOY WHEN I SING

June 7, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

I usually smile a lot when I sing.

I usually smile a lot when I sing.

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

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

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

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With my parents & Howard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I was too broken to do it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY DREAM #2 Karaoke – Copyright 2014 by J Unger

 

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

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

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

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It will be when I can fully express my joy!

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

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MY DREAM – PART 1

My Dream feels so certain

Performing with bliss

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

FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER

June 3, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

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

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

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

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#443 WONDER WHY – PART 1

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

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On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, Judy wrote:

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Hi Sammi,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Azalea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fairytale Watercolor

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

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

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

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

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

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Redwoods filtered

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

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

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

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

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Jason and his mommy in the pool

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

MY DOUBT IS SOMETHING I CANNOT DENY

May 25, 2014

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Melody in darkness

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My newest song is dedicated to many special people in my life. At this moment, I am praying for my friend, Magda G. who suffers dreadfully with multiple sclerosis and for Marilyn B. who is my inspiration as she fights multiple myeloma.

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“Wondering”

Lately, I’ve found myself questioning so many things. The song that I originally named “Hoping” definitely has shifted to a song that could be named “Doubting.”

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At this time, I’m planning to name my song “I Wonder” or “I Wonder Why.”

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The arrangement for it is so captivating that I hear it all through my day. I have been finalizing the lyrics and practicing the guitar that I’ll be adding to it.

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Below is a karaoke version. Because I love the song so much, I’m willing to share my song “in progress.” Click the blue link to play audio:

I WONDER WHY Karaoke – Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

searching for answers

I love the word wonder. Wondering is a form of questioning that expresses my feelings in a beautiful way.

As I pose my question to God, I’m also in awe, which is another meaning for the word wonder. Many of the definitions for wonder are uplifting. A word listed as opposite of wonder happens to be fear.

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Wonder synonyms

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When I first began writing my song, God was only implied. On this second recording, I actually allowed myself to say the word. As I grappled with how to phrase my question about suffering, I started out with: “I try to understand why.”

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I didn’t like the way those words fell off my tongue. Later on, it felt a lot better to sing, “I wonder why.”

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But I found some insight from those first words. I realized that my search was not for any particular answer to the question of “why?” It was simply a search for understanding!

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It turned out that by sharing my new song with people who appreciated it, I found tremendous understanding. I was elated because my song once again helped to heal me while touching other people at the same time.

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Melody in the mountains

Whenever I’ve found understanding, I’ve felt comforted. Recently I joined a support group for eye pain and I’ve already made a new friend.

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I often participate in a grief forum on the Internet. Initially, it was to offer helpful words because I have lived a long time with grief. It has been 22 years since I lost my first-born son at the age of five.

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But then I found comfort from fellow members after the recent deaths of my parents. Only a few days ago, someone asked this question: “I attended my first grief group tonight. I’m not exactly sure what to make of it. Has anyone or does anyone attend support group meetings?”

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I replied:

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For me, every meeting was different. Sometimes it was upsetting when one person monopolized the meeting or it went too late. But dealing with grief in that setting helped me a lot. My goal was to find another person whose situation seemed similar. After going to many grief meetings in different places I formed connections that I still have over 20 years later. All of my friends in grief grew to know my dead child whom they had never met. And I knew their children well.

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These friends replaced the people in my life who could not understand grief. I leaned on them and it really helped to hold hands with people who were in the same place I was. Glad that you wrote. Keep seeking whatever brings you comfort.

Melody in the forest

THE PRINCESS NEEDED TO BELIEVE IN HERSELF

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The Princess listened to what God had told her. She needed to believe in herself.

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Although the Princess wanted to hold onto faith, doubt seeped into her body from every direction. It would soon be exactly two years since her father had died – she had watched him suffer terribly until he took his last breath. And he had died only two days before the birthday for her dead child.

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The terrible pain in her eyes continued to torment her. At her darkest moments she felt like her energy for life was ebbing away with the pain. This was pain she could not accept, nor adjust to.

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All of her own anguish only intensified her compassion for the pain and suffering of other people. She now fully realized the horror of what life could hold and it overwhelmed her.

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i just can't see

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Melody was very worried about the Princess and had been for a long time now. It was very serious because the Princess was giving up hope.

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Melody asked God what could be done to help the Princess. God told Melody the best way to help the Princess would be to give her another song. This new song would be so beautiful that it would easily slip into her heart and mind.

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Melody wove her magic and the new song’s melody was so gorgeous that the Princess was completely enraptured. God and Melody were relieved to see the Princess quickly writing the words she needed to write. The words flowed forth and the Princess expressed all of her doubts.

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The Princess wrote her song for all the sad people whom she felt anguish for. And it was her own pain that fueled those words. She even wrote directly to God for the very first time; usually she hesitated to do that and God was only implied.

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I long for belief

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She was very moved by her beautiful song but when she shared it, she received some very negative opinions. She was told that it was time for her to stop writing sad songs.

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The words that stung her the most were: “No one wants to listen to your song about suffering. If I heard it, I’d turn it off in a second.”

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Because the Princess was vulnerable and doubtful, those critical opinions stabbed her heart and instantly destroyed her joy about the new song. She retreated in pain and searched hard to find insight.

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The Princess wrote her song in a way that expressed exactly how she felt. Whether or not her song was depressing didn’t matter – she was proud of her honesty.

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The Princess decided that this was an opportunity for her to trust and believe in herself.

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From above, God and Melody watched the Princess carefully. They were both glad to see the Princess finally understood the belief she needed – the most important belief of all.

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The Princess sang her new song over and over. And most surprising was that in spite of her doubts she still thanked God for her song.

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Now the Princess felt comforted, and it gave her strength to continue her journey.

my doubt is something I cannot deny

Melody in the tree

-wonder 1 wonder 2
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I WANT TO BELIEVE IN YOU

May 17, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

My voice teacher, Kimberly is holding one of her beautiful fairy sculptures. I consider them all to be images for Melody, my inspirational muse.

My voice teacher, Kimberly is holding one of her beautiful fairy sculptures. I consider them all to be images for Melody, my inspirational muse.

Consciously, I know that self-doubt is poison to my soul. But my sub-conscious controls a lot more of my thinking than I wish it did. It takes a lot of effort for me to counteract negative messages that are from my past.

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Self-doubt dissolves my energy and purpose and it is something I wrestle with constantly. So when I hear my inner voice speaking to me with confidence, I listen carefully to it.

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My journey of insight began four years ago and for most of that time, I’ve worked tirelessly trying to create something that I could sell and promote, not so much for money, but as a way to reach and touch more people. A few months ago, it seemed like I was finally close to finishing my project. But then I became frustrated and anxious while trying to finalize everything. I had hired several people to help me, but I wasn’t really getting anything improved over what I began with. But most importantly, I didn’t have confidence in my own recordings at all.

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Then, for the first time in over a year I listened to my audio book introduction. (It was recorded three years ago, prior to my divorce.) My message of how I discovered happiness and healing because of music did not sound authentic to me. I didn’t believe my own voice!

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After that, I decided not to release my entire ten-hour audio book even though I spent thousands of hours creating it. I have far more insight now than when I recorded my book in 2011. And since I’ve improved as a singer, I am certain I could improve as a speaker and sound less artificial.

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Within two weeks of my revelation, I wrote ten pages of new material to fulfill my new vision for my audio book. (I changed my message and will share more about that soon.) The best part of my original audio book was Jason’s story and it had emotion I’m not sure I can re-create. For now it will be on my first disk; although I might re-record it if the new recordings are far superior.

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I created a simple introduction, as well as an inspirational conclusion that will follow Jason’s story. I plan to release a single CD and later disks might be a combination of new and old recordings. A CD of my most soothing songs will be included with the first audio book CD. It will be named “Beside Me Always.”

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I love the idea that I came up with something that wasn’t an “all or none” proposition. Getting away from thinking in extremes is far more invigorating for me.

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I sent off my new material to my editor to get her feedback. I tested out many different microphones with the same man who is mastering an instrumental CD for me. I wanted a microphone that worked better for my speaking voice so my recordings wouldn’t be as sibilant as before.

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I am working with Lon Miller who is a teacher at Los Angeles Recording School. Lon donated a sound system to Kulak’s Woodshed where I occasionally perform. Some of his students have been assisting me with editing tasks.

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With the pain in my eyes, everything is harder for me.

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But I feel tremendous energy and purpose again and for that I am grateful. 

Melody on the sill

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THE PRINCESS FELT HOPELESS

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The Princess was having trouble. On one hand, she was filled with amazement at her enduring strength and purpose. She was bursting with creativity and everything she did was beautiful and meaningful for her.

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But the price to do this was high.

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She was burdened because she could barely open her eyes; the pain had steadily increased. Sometimes her eyes felt foggy and irritated. And then there were other times when the pain was so agonizing that it was hard for her to think clearly. Even though she was determined to overcome this obstacle, sometimes it felt hopeless. She wanted to believe she was healing, but it was definitely getting worse.

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It was hard for her to be with other people. Even though her pain wasn’t visible, she was certain it was obvious because her eyes were narrowed and her vision inward. She could not really communicate well because her mind was always screaming at the pain.

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When she was alone she felt better because she was able to distract herself. Music soothed her and took away her pain. She was more than grateful for the remedy that saved her. But this had become a very low point in her life.

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God continued to send her beautiful signs. She grasped at all of them and desperately tried to hang on to hope.

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She wanted to have a conversation with God but did not want to appear ungrateful for all of her blessings. The last thing she wanted to do was cry out in pain expressing the unfairness of her condition. She suppressed those feelings.

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But one day when the pain was unbearable, she wailed to the heavens. It was only in her mind because she never made a sound.

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She waited for some form of insight to come to her. The Princess trembled when she heard a gentle voice. Wisdom began to wash over her.

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The voice explained to her that this was probably the most difficult part of her journey.

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The Princess had been through other difficult situations where she never gave up hope. Now that her parents had died, she didn’t have their care to worry about. Although her three children still depended on her, they had become much more self-reliant than when her journey began.

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She cried, “I have far less to carry, yet now I am burdened by my own pain!”

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The voice said, “Princess, suffering is not your destiny. The magical musical elixir I gave you will continue to carry you. It is going to take you to places you cannot imagine at this moment. But there is something you need to find in order to continue your journey.”

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The Princess thought about what she needed to find. Was it strength? She felt so weak and vulnerable.

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Was it faith in God? Doubt was the opposite of faith. She often hid her doubts about God. She also knew that doubt caused her anguish and the Princess had a lot of doubts about what she was devoting herself to – she was exhausted.

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Was it compassion? So often, the Princess had encouraged others to hang on to hope, but now she felt hopeless. Just imagining feeling better in the future did not take away her pain. That meant her message was not really helpful to others. She was simply preaching to them.

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The voice knew the Princess was unsure and said, “Princess, it is none of those things.”

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The voice continued, “This is not about whether you have faith in me. This is not about whether you are compassionate enough with other people. This is not about whether you are an example to others.”

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The Princess murmured softly, “God, I am not clear. What is it then?”

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The voice said softly, “Princess, you need to believe in yourself. That is your light to buoy you through the darkness. Turn your faith and compassion to yourself.”

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As the voice began to fade, the last words she heard were, “Hope is with you always. You will feel better soon – trust me.”

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With those words the Princess felt tears roll down her cheeks. Now she understood. She never had to doubt her message – it was the most important one of all.

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She would continue to hang on to hope.

what you have plannedMelody crying
i want to believe in you© 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.

HOPING

May 12, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

My voice teacher, Kimberly has a beautiful collection of fairy sculptures. I added the crystal ball using the magic of Photoshop.

My voice teacher, Kimberly has a beautiful collection of fairy sculptures. I added the crystal ball using the magic of Photoshop.

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hope: confidence, desire, want, expectation, optimism, anticipation

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Click the blue link below to hear music that touches me deeply. I have not yet written song lyrics for it, but I’m hoping to soon.

HOPING – Song in Progress–Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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I always looked forward to my weekly sessions with George. I was not up to writing anything new and we had started working on a new arrangement for an older song the week before. But I wasn’t too excited about it.

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A few days earlier, I fooled around with an old instrumental thinking perhaps it would inspire me to compose a new song. But it didn’t. Then I remembered another old song. It was actually the only song I wanted to erase from my repertoire and was named “If You Should See Me.”

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That song did have some nice verse chords, but I intensely disliked the lyrics. It was about my regret over breaking up with an old boyfriend and wondering how I’d feel if I saw him again.

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When I recorded “If You Should See Me” in 2010, I used the same lyrics I wrote as a young girl. I worked from an old song sheet and didn’t remember the chorus at all. When I recorded the song, the chorus melody seemed monotonous.

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I printed out the chords and played them on my guitar. I was surprised; it turned out that the verse lyrics seemed applicable to my current life. They expressed my confusion. Instead of an old boyfriend, maybe I was wondering if I’d ever feel better – would I see well again without pain?

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I reworked them slightly below:

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Wading through marshes

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I came to work with George. It was a beautiful day and I walked from my car with my eyes closed; the sunlight was painful. George smiled and asked me what we would be working on.

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I told him that I didn’t feel like finishing the song we had started last week. Instead, I mentioned that I had a possible song we could rework into something completely new. I had verses but needed some help for the chorus; I wanted completely new chords.

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George’s eyes twinkled with the look he often gets when he feels a musical challenge. He started playing the verse chords on his piano and goose bumps began popping out on my arms. It didn’t take long before those verses were simply magnificent. His piano and guitar lines danced with the lovely waltz rhythm.

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I wanted the chorus to be very different from the verses. George began to experiment with many interesting chord progressions. If I liked what he did I yelped, “That’s it!”

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Line by line the chorus chords slowly formed. We finally reached the last line of the chorus. George played several choices for me, but none of them seemed to work. Then as he was playing I said, “Stop! Right there – that hangs and I want it to be the final chord. It’s totally unresolved and I love how it sounds!”

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I was brimming with excitement and so glad we had begun working on something new.

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George and I created an introduction that I could easily hear as a new song by itself. I loved it so much that I decided it would also make a perfect ending. On our last new arrangement for “Laughter and Tears” his introduction was so beautiful that we used it for the solo portion of that song.

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I had no idea that an old song I disliked could inspire this! In four hours we managed to finish a good portion of the song. George said, “Jude, what shall I name the file in order to save it?”

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I really had no idea since I hadn’t written the new lyrics for it. I read him some of the former lyric lines I had thought of keeping; those lines were about my search to feel better.

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I said, “George, I know it sounds like another sad song. I do want my song to be hopeful because I say, “I’m hoping I’ll find you again.”

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Melody and crystal ball 1

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George smiled and said, “Sis, you are one of the most hopeful people I know. For now, let’s just call it Hoping!”

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I didn’t mind that at all. I left our session with a new recording I treasured. I found myself composing a melody and as I hummed it, my heart was lifted into the heavens.

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Late that night, I wrote out some possible lyrics.

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I look at the mountains

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Those words above were simple. I felt like expressing how looking at nature was uplifting. I wanted to feel God in order to conquer my uncertainty. But after writing those lines above, I couldn’t decide what my message was going to be for the part of the song that was the most important.

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Those words fell on the last line of the chorus; a background choir’s sweet notes hung over unresolved chords.

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I wrote a few lines and had to stop. My words were very depressing and not hopeful at all!

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God help me try

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A few days later, I returned to George to continue working on the arrangement. I said to George, “You’re not going to like some lyrics I came up with. They’re very dark.”

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George said, “The music is not sad at all and I’d like to see you write something truly uplifting. Then he added with complete candor, “Jude, if you use the word pain in this song I’m going to slap you!”

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I couldn’t believe it – I had used that word; how did he know? Now I remembered how he hadn’t liked the word pain in the last song I wrote either.

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Unfortunately, the theme of pain was concurrent with my life. What was also there was extreme empathy for friends of mine who were suffering with pain. My friend, Marilyn had multiple myeloma. Another dear friend, Magda had been tormented by MS for many years and it only continued to get worse.

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I crumpled up my lyrics and figured I’d try again. After all, the possible name for this beautiful song was “Hoping.”

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Somehow I just knew I would find a way to write words to grace the beautiful music and it would help heal my aching soul.

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HOPING 3

I think about life

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

MY JOURNEY IN SIGHT – PART 5

May 8, 2014

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My daughter told me I could share this recent photo of us together. She truly is my butterfly.

My daughter told me I could share this recent photo of us together. She truly is my butterfly.

Sometimes, it’s amazing for me to imagine that four years have passed since my rebirth at the age of 50.

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Many changes have occurred in my life since then. With the finality of my divorce, I have settled into a routine of keeping close tabs on my three children as I continue to follow my dream. The deaths of my parents within two years, as well as the memories associated with living in my childhood home have me living in the past at times. But I also see my future very clearly.

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I am not in any hurry to get there. There are so many wonderful blessings going on in my life that I want to focus on.

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The present has been more challenging than I want to admit because I unfortunately live with chronic pain in my eyes. I deeply want to find acceptance of my condition but pain is hard to live with. I’ve continued to search for remedies without finding any relief.

In some ways, I see my suffering as a form of grief. It has come with all of the stages that I am quite familiar with. When I first experienced PVD (posterior vitreous detachment) after my cataract surgeries – I was in shock. Since that time, I’ve alternated between depression and numbness. At that time, I was not living with pain – only foggy vision.

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But that has changed. Recently, I’ve noticed that I’m angry and irritable because of the unrelenting pain.

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I closed my eyes

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Just like grief, I decided to see if I could find others that might have wisdom to help me. I discovered an online support group for people suffering with (get ready for a complicated name): Chronic Dry Eyes & Chronic Blepharitis.

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I have both of those conditions and Blepharitis refers to inflammation of the eyelids. This group has helped me tremendously. For certain, it sure helped to commiserate with others suffering from eye pain. And it was fascinating that so many of them had gone through the same experiences with doctors as I had. Most of them went into great detail about the remedies they had tried.

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I am going to share information that I’ve learned by summarizing many messages. All of them tell a very sad story. I’ve organized them into one conversation, but these comments happened over time and came from many different people. Anything I’ve written will be in black/bold.

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I just joined this group. I’m not sure where to start sharing. I can say that I know this is a place where I’ll find understanding. I have had my condition for over two years. I’m 54. Three years ago, I had some problems seeing and was diagnosed with mild/moderate cataracts. I had surgery for them and have suffered from many complications. This dry condition is horrible and those surgeries made my problem worse.

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My eye condition is really affecting my quality of life. I’ve been miserable living with constant pain. I have been using steroid suave, taking flax and fish oil, tried plugs in my ducts; use hot compresses and Restasis eye drops.

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Recently, I went on hormone replacement therapy to see if that could make a difference. It has been a month and nothing has changed yet. I’ll let you know if it helps! I miss feeling “normal.” Every day I struggle with fogginess and pain.

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I’m on hormones too! The only time my eyes feel “good” is when I’m asleep or have hot compresses on them.

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I’m thinking there is no such thing as just chronic dry eyes. I think we should tell our docs not to say, “You have chronic dry eyes and I’m giving you Restasis. Just go die for a year.” I’m glad I had the brains to go to a neuro optho on my own after 6 months.

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My eyes drive me nuts. I take fish oil, use Restasis, use over the counter drops like they are air, sleep with a wet rag over my face, and have plugs in the ducts – and still it is like this.

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My eyes have been bad again this week leaving me very depressed and unable to work. I think I’m close to losing my job. The worst thing is I don’t feel I’m getting the help I need. My doctor doesn’t know what to do for me.

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My eyes hurt all the time, my left eye is dribbling and goopy, and my vision really sucks. This stinks. OK, rant over, back to work. I just had to say it to somebody.

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Have you tried using ice cubes to stop the burning? There are those eye masks you can put in fridge or freezer. You can use cold or frozen cucumbers too.

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My eyes will not stop. I sit here with wet cloth on my eyes and also just pouring the drops in. Both eyes still killing me. Going to blow a gasket here.

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My eyes have decided to join yours now. SO miserable!! Makes me feel sick, headaches, light is painful. The pain is like a combination of scraping sand and onion juice.

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Dry eyes

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I’m so sorry. I understand it can be horrible pain & discomfort is so hard. Can you use preservative-free lubricating drops that do not have Benzalkonium Chloride in them? That can aggravate some people’s eyes.

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I didn’t know that and my doctor only recently told me. I was pouring in artificial tears that could have made my condition much worse!

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I saw an eye doc and he just said dry eyes and gave me Restasis and I also got the tear duct plugs; neither work
.

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I’ve been there many times myself. It’s a process to figure out what helps you and what doesn’t. There are many forms of Blepharitis and you need to know what type you have.

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My doc told me I was his worst patient, I have the plugs and I’m on the Restasis and I had to be on the Steroid drops for almost a year to just survive. But I’ve been eating really healthy trying to take the best care of myself.

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What exactly have you been diagnosed with?

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The doctor just said I had dry eyes; that was the diagnosis.

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Telling you that you have dry eyes is like a cardiologist telling you that you have heart trouble! It might be accurate in some sense but it is NOT A DIAGNOSIS. Dry eye is a convenient catchall term for a whole lot of things (many of us have more than one issue).

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My doctors are willing to offer me a Vitrectomy – which is totally risky! I just wish I didn’t have the discomfort and pain. I’ll keep trying things and will definitely share anything that works.

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I am new to the group. Thanks for the invite. Have had dry eyes for years. Not so much for treatment. My doctor put me on Doxycycline for several months, but I did not do my homework, and really don’t know if there is any good research. My gut wouldn’t handle it and shortly after I developed a parasite infestation. Maybe the antibiotic changed the gut flora?

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Your words are very meaningful for me and I am so sorry about what happened on the Doxycycline. I was given a prescription for it also. I decided to wait on it because I’ve had stomach issues in the past. I’m glad I followed my “gut” feeling! I started hormone replacement therapy instead. Thank you for sharing and I hope something brings both of us relief soon.

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I have aged at least three years in the last 5 months. I now look older than I am and I always looked at least 5 years younger before.

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I feel that way too. I look at pictures before this eye pain began. I was always smiling and youthful. I walk around now with my eyes like slits, trying to cope with constant pain. I pray it won’t be this way for the rest of my life!

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Painful eyes

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I learned that eye pain is considered particularly excruciating because our eyes have so many nerve endings.

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I was a terrific advocate for my children and parents. But it has been difficult for me to advocate for myself because I honestly feel like I am ill and in too much pain to think clearly.

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Because my eyes have been worse lately and nothing has offered relief, I’ve decided to pursue a remedy that has intrigued me from the very beginning – serum eye drops.

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I had heard about miraculous results and even one of the doctors at my HMO mentioned it. These eye drops are created from my own blood. Blood is drawn and placed into a centrifuge to create the serum. It is packaged at a pharmacy and placed in the freezer in packets. The process must be done every 3-4 months.

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The serum is expensive and not covered by insurance. But the doctors who would treat me do take insurance. I’ve requested my HMO to refer me there and am waiting for their answer. If they refuse, I will switch my coverage because my divorce is final and I have that option now.

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There are only a few places in the world where serum eye drops are available. The center that does this is only two hours from where I live. It is affiliated with a large university, so it isn’t like something completely out of the box.

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I realize the Internet is full of misinformation, but I have been reading a lot to learn more about the condition I have. It seemed like serum drops promoted healing and relief.

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Clicking on this makes it larger

Clicking on this makes it larger

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But then, I received a real sign. I spoke to someone who actually used them! A good friend called me and asked me if I would like to talk to someone she knew who suffered with severe dry eyes and had found relief. I was more than ready.

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The woman’s name was Celia and she was very kind on the phone. I had a paper and pencil handy and wrote out all of her suggestions. There was a long list. I wasn’t sure about whether I’d be willing to wear motorcycle goggles and even found that to be tragically humorous. But I didn’t rule it out.

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Celia talked about the serum eye drops. She said, “Getting them is very inconvenient and they are expensive. But they make such a difference and I can’t live without them.”

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As if that wasn’t enough for me, the very next day an acquaintance left a message. She and I had played tennis a few days before and I had a lot of trouble that day keeping my eyes open. I was amazed that I was able to force myself onto a tennis court the way I felt.

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Her message said that she had some information that might help me with my eye condition. I called her back.

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She said, “I saw my ophthalmologist and told him about you.” With breathless excitement she said, “Do you know about serum eye drops?”

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I let her know I had been considering them and was amazed at the coincidence that now two people were eager to share this information with me. There were hurdles I’d have to go through in order to do this.

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But I wanted to hold onto my hope that something was going to help me heal and feel better.

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To be continued . . .

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Hopeless eyes

© 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.

TAKE ME AWAY – PART 2

April 8, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Mom & I

Link to the first part of my story about Take Me Away (and to hear audio):

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#422 TAKE ME AWAY – PART 1

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My arranger, George told me immediately that he did like the word “pain” in my song. But I wanted to escape my pain, so I wondered how could I change that lyric line. My preliminary lyrics are below:


Far from pain

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I ended up changing a “peaceful place” into a lovely day; I was elated because it was such a beautiful change!

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How I arrived at finding those new lyrics was very touching for me.

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Holding you again

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My parents bed

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“I’m crying while I’m dreaming”

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My dream was so real! I actually thought I was shopping with my mother again. It was such a wonderful feeling to be with her. I was safe and loved. She listened to every little detail I shared with her about her grandchildren.

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But when my dream began to change, I was in a state of panic. Instead of shopping, we were walking in a very cold place. I was confused – how was it that we were in a snowy place where it was so dark?

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I held her hand and suddenly the ground seemed to open up and she screamed. I heard her splash into dark water right in front of me. I was afraid to jump in because I knew it was hopeless – I could not reach her and I would die if I followed her. Her eyes were huge and bulging and I gasped with the horror of it. I thought I even saw Jason below her in the icy depths. This was too much for me handle.

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I prayed for it to end.

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My eyes were wet with tears with the realization that it was only a dream. I covered my face with my pillow and cried.

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In my dreams

Notice that my bed is the same one my parents slept in for decades. (Of course with a different mattress!)

Notice that my bed is the same one my parents slept in for decades. (Of course with a different mattress!)

“Holding you again”

A few days later, I had a similar dream. This time I woke up quickly to escape the horror of losing my mother in my dream.

As I lay there, I thought about how so many times I had woken my mother up when I had nightmares as a young child. I remembered how she would help me fall back to sleep. Now I was an adult and she was gone forever.

A tear trickled down my cheek in the darkness.

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And then I heard a voice that was reminiscent of what I used to say to my mother. The voice said, “Mommy, can I stay with you until I fall asleep?”

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I said, “Of course! I love holding you.”

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I felt a gentle squeeze of warmth across my chest and shoulder. It was so sweet and lovely.

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It took me away . . .

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I was peaceful and fell back to sleep dreaming that I’d see him again someday.

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Jason & Judy on recliner

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“A lovely day”

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My new song “Take Me Away” life was like a soft blanket over my entire day. It surrounded me with sweet notes and a melody that took away all of my sadness.

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I could feel myself coping better. On top of everything else, I was working on an illustration assignment. My artwork came out very well and I was pleased about it.

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Illustrating

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I seldom write about my children anymore, although they are a huge part of my life. All three of them are very close to me. Going through my separation and divorce impacted them greatly even though they weren’t young children. My oldest son is 23, my daughter is 20 and my youngest son is 17.

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I easily get teary with the memory of the shock on my youngest son’s face when he found out I was separating from his father. He begged me over and over to reconsider. At one point he was on his knees crying – it was a horrible moment in my life – and his.

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Moving to a new home and adjusting was a slow process for him. He attended a new school where he began to thrive and bloom. Gradually, his discouragement and anger toward me began to subside.-

I was beaming as I watched my lovely son perform and sing in his school play this past weekend.

I was beaming as I watched my lovely son perform and sing in his school play this past weekend.

Over the last few months, some amazing and wonderful things have happened for my son. His eyes constantly twinkle with excitement about life.

This past weekend he performed in a musical at his school. We bonded a lot as he practiced singing his solo so I could give him tips.

I was really touched when he asked me a favor. He wanted me to write him a handwritten note that he could read before each performance to help him stay calm. I couldn’t imagine being asked to do anything more beautiful.

His first performance was for his fellow classmates at school. When I picked him up he had so many wonderful things to share with me about his day.

We were almost home when he even asked me about my day. I hardly expect that from my teenager!

I told him I was thankful my illustration assignment had gone so well. My client liked my work and it was approved and accepted. I was definitely in a good place.

So it was on this particular day that I received the inspiration for my new song’s lyrics.

As I pulled into the driveway of our coop, I said “Honey, before you get out could you please help me with a lyric change for my new song?

He said, “Sure, mom! How can I help you?”

I said softly, “Can you think of a replacement for being taken to a peaceful place? It sounds too much like death. What other words could convey comfort?”

My son’s eyes were bright and his face was shining. Without hesitation he exclaimed, “How about a lovely day? Take me away to a lovely day – it even rhymes!”

I listened and mouthed the words; at first I wasn’t sure. But then I realized it was perfect.

Being taken to a peaceful place – away from pain represented an escape.

Lovely was different. Lovely was a word that invoked so many things.

It even had love in it.

My new lyrics were now about a lovely memory and that definitely took me to a place of healing.

And it happened on such a lovely day! 

Note to my son

© 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.


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