My dislocated and formerly lacerated right pinky. (Picture taken three weeks after my accident on 4/7/23.)

(Beware! Gory pictures ahead)

I was originally going to title this post PINKY PROMISE. Pinky promise – Judy will never ride an electric scooter again!

My succinct story is this:

I took a nasty fall on April 7th.

I dislocated my right pinky. I am right-handed.

In the last three weeks, I have had 18 doctor visits, (which includes 2 urgent care, and 2 ER visits.)

Working very slowly with a splint on, I drew another maze on my computer to add to my maze book in progress.

I had two online live performances.

I wrote a new song. I named it: “Take My Hand.”

My maze book project is time-consuming. I plan to have at least 30 mazes. I usually draw 2 mazes a week. The frog maze took 3 weeks because of my injury, but I did it!

The spring weather was lovely and my oldest son was visiting from out-of-state. In the evening, we planned to go to my brother and sister-in-law’s home for a beautiful Passover meal.

After breakfast, he told me he wanted to walk around the college campus where we both had graduated. It seemed like a lovely idea.

For over an hour we walked, and he enjoyed pointing out all the new buildings. It was amazing how much had changed in the 42 years since I’d graduated. We stopped for a light lunch at a café he remembered well.

It was time for us to head back. My son pointed out a pair of electric scooters nearby for rent. He absolutely loved them and told me how he felt deprived because I wouldn’t allow him to have one growing up.

I can’t remember exactly how this all played out, but I was open to his suggestion that we rent one to go back to the car. With the wide-open campus, the path back seemed smooth and easy.

Last summer, I rode a bicycle near the beach for 8 miles – so it didn’t seem like this would be difficult for me. But in retrospect, I threw all caution to the wind. The strict helmet rules I imposed upon my children growing up suddenly didn’t seem to apply to us in this situation.

One of the only pictures from my son’s visit. Five minutes before disaster.

After a few moments downloading an app, we were off!

Immediately, I didn’t feel that certain about what I was doing; I wasn’t in control. It was easy to go too fast and I kept letting off the gas. But if I went too slowly, I couldn’t stand and balance. The key was to go slow and steady and not turn much.

But after a few minutes, I felt more confident. I buzzed along with my son nearby and he was grinning to see his mother joining him. This was my joy – seeing my child happy and enjoying our time together.

We came to a slight incline and the breeze lifted my visor. I had forgotten that this wasn’t a bicycle with handlebars. I thought I could hold on with one arm, while fixing my hat with the other. I wish I had listened to the voice in my head that told me to let it blow off and stop,

I raised my arm to grab my visor. In a flash, the scooter tipped sideways and went out from under me.

The next moment is forever embedded in my mind. I was thrown with no control over where I was going. I flew through the air and hit the ground with a thud and felt my teeth clack loudly together. My first thought was that I hoped I hadn’t knocked my teeth out.

Although I was stunned, I was determined to prove I was fine. I knew I was alert and my brain was intact. I pushed myself into sitting position. The only problem was that sticky blood was running down my face and my hair was also wet.

And then there was the problem with my right pinky. It was so grotesque that my son begged me not to look at it. That poor pinky had taken all the impact.

People came running and surrounded me. My son was frozen with fear. He looked like he was about to cry and tried to avert worry with humor. “Oh, my God! I almost killed my mother!” he wailed. “My siblings will never forgive me!”

I was calm and certain I was okay. My legs didn’t hurt, although I had a stabbing pain in my ribs. Waiting for the campus police and then an ambulance seemed interminable. A few wonderful people hung around to help. A nice man helped me move to a shadier area and I moaned as he pulled me up. I walked shakily, and was elated I could do that. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the safest idea.

This was all a replay of my broken ankle in 2019. It was the same time of day. Waiting for the transport took hours. I would spend the rest of the day and evening in an emergency room. I’m certain I’ll continue to write more insights about this ordeal.

Time for a picture. I’m with my mother after graduation from CSUN in 1981. I fell not far from where that picture was taken.

The emergency room was noisy and packed with patients. My bed was in a tiny space with a curtain on either side. Time stood still as the hours ticked by.

Over and over my son kept apologizing, saying it was his fault and he’d never forgive himself. I reassured him that I would be fine and it wasn’t his fault. I had made the decision and he hadn’t exactly twisted my arm.

But having to explain this accident was increasingly embarrassing. Here I was – a 63-year-old woman riding an electric scooter. What was a thinking? The answer was – I wasn’t thinking!

There was a lesson here I couldn’t ignore. It was time for me to put a greater value on taking care of myself. I had risked it all and that fact alone overwhelmed me with emotion.

As the hours marched on, my twisted pinky was my worry. I was surprised that it was so numb, almost as if it wasn’t part of my body. I wasn’t looking forward to it being pulled back into place and wanted to get it over with. The nurse came and put morphine in the IV; I felt my veins burn, and then I was very cold and tired.

I was taken for a CAT scan of my brain and x-rays for my other body parts. I had a cut above my eyebrow, and a bump and scrape on the back of my head. I had badly bruised my ribs, both palms and one cheek. Unbelievably, nothing was broken and my head was okay. I learned later that a dislocation was more serious than a broken bone.

Eventually, an ER doctor came to yank my pinky back into place. She was surprised that it also required suturing. My wound was open for five hours. How was that missed? Obviously they were busy. I prayed my finger would be okay and everything would work out. After a few shots of anesthetic, she sewed up my pinky.

My son talked about how sad he was our day turned out this way. We both wouldn’t be attending the dinner we had looked forward to. I told him that even with difficult times, there were beautiful parts to remember.

I had never felt closer to him. When I was cold, he walked a long distance to the car to bring me a jacket from my trunk. He also went to get us snacks from a vending machine and we enjoyed them together.

We were finally discharged at 9 p.m. and went out to dinner at one of his favorite places. We were so hungry and grateful for the calmness of a quiet restaurant after being in the noisy hospital for seven hours.

“Mom, just so you know – I’m planning to sell my two mopeds. This whole situation has changed my thinking,” my son announced. He wanted to please me and I thought that perhaps this was a very good outcome from what had happened to me on this day.

Later on, I had an urgent care visit because a suture came out.

I awoke the next morning and began processing my injury. The shock was wearing off and reality was setting in. Now it became clear to me how much I had risked. My art, my music, my writing – all of this was affected without the use of my pinky.

My first cancellation was my upcoming tennis game. I loved playing women’s doubles, but most of all it was about being with my friends. Tennis was my exercise, my therapy, and truly helped me through the pandemic. I wondered when I would be able to play again. I made a mental note to start looking for replacements for the games that were already scheduled.

My discharge instructions said that I should be checked within 3 days by a hand surgeon. I had no idea that getting an appointment through my insurance that soon would be impossible. This was my new challenge – to advocate for myself. I had been a great advocate for my children, but now it was time to focus on me. I had value. My life mattered.

When I was offered only appointments that were weeks away, I made an urgent request to have someone call me back that could help me. No one called. I tried again the next day without any luck. My finger was throbbing and nothing helped.

I cried for an hour, and then I marched myself to urgent care. I waited for three hours and eventually a compassionate doctor checked my sutures and helped connect me to an orthopedic doctor.

That doctor sent me a message that we would only have a phone appointment. He had never examined me, but stated in his message that I would be forever limited by my finger.

I was not prepared for that same doctor to tell me later on that I would never play tennis again. When I asked why, he said I wouldn’t be able to grip a racquet and the pinky was an important stabilizer.

The first week, my ribs were so painful it was hard to breathe. As a struggled through the other aches and pains, I kept imagining myself with my teeth knocked out and brains scrambled on the ground. I thought of how horrible this would have been for my son to witness.

On Sunday, I pictured my friends playing tennis without me and I cried in bed. I wondered if I would be able to do my painstaking artwork again. I wasn’t sure what I would do with my time as I recovered.

But slowly the revelations of my injuries and what could have been worse were replaced with what I could still do. I was able to type and use the computer with the other 4 fingers. I could hold a stylus and draw a maze.

And amazingly I could play guitar. There was only one finger that I didn’t need for that – it was the right pinky.

That is why my pinky is my hero. It took the fall. It suffered, but it left me with the ability to do music and so many other things that brought joy to my life.

I won’t take my ability to create art for granted anymore.

“It could have been worse” is a true statement.

It allows for gratefulness at how things turned out. But for me it wasn’t comforting, because it reminded me of the foolish risk I took. I searched for a more comforting replacement thought.

My mantra became: I would definitely make it through.

Writing a new song was a perfect way to uplift my soul. The last time I wrote a song with lyrics was 2016, seven years ago.

I was amazed that I had penned most of the lyrics two years earlier during the pandemic. I wasn’t satisfied with them and the song remained unfinished. I overcame my perfectionism and made a few changes. I heard a new melody for a bridge and it was a spiritual experience to finish my song.

Only a week after my accident, I performed my new song live for my wonderful Insight Timer audience. I was able to be vulnerable and weepy. Connecting with my “tribe” uplifted me and I was incredibly grateful to my friends from around the world.

I named my new song “Take My Hand.” It turned out that I was reaching for music to give me hope and healing.

And it certainly did.

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I’ve named my newest painting “Dried Fruit Medley.”

Inspiration (noun)

1. stimulation to do creative work

2. somebody or something that inspires

3. creativeness

4. good idea

5. divine influence

Synonyms: stimulus, spur, motivation, encouragement, muse

Everything about the word “inspiration” is beautiful for me. Recently, I had the revelation that in my quest to inspire – I have been inspired!

Working on my “Dried Fruit Medley” was very relaxing.
It almost felt like each piece of fruit was a painting by itself.

About two months ago, I joined a Facebook watercolor group. Since I’m a professional artist and the site had many beginners, I felt concerned that sharing my hyper-realistic artwork might discourage them. Several times I found myself writing, “I want to inspire, not intimidate.”

Because so many people viewed my illustrations as photographs, I shared attachments such as tracings and reference photos. I learned that I had to label my reference photo clearly, as sometimes it was mistakenly viewed as another painting.

The place where I currently live is small, so I have stored boxes of my old art files in a storage unit. It was quite an adventure to pull out several of those boxes that I hadn’t looked in for years. In my quest to find old attachments, I came across a folder filled with photos of dried fruit. Many years ago, I had intended to create a portfolio painting of them.

I put my boxes back in storage, but saved the folder of dried fruit on my desk. I also saved some slide pages that held other possibilities.

It was hard to decide which photo to work from. I chose an aerial view.

Those dried fruit photos were almost 30 years old, and I was still intrigued by their beauty. I probably didn’t paint them all those years ago because I was too busy with paid assignments. Back then, last thing I wanted to do when I wasn’t illustrating was to paint something for myself.

It turned out that in my quest to inspire others, I had found my own inspiration. Now I could bring those dried fruit to life!

The reflections on the dates carried subtle blue, red and yellow tones, which I loved.

It had been awhile since I’d traveled anywhere. I planned a trip in early March to visit my oldest son who lives in Las Vegas. On the day that I left my painting was almost finished. I didn’t want to rush finalizing it, so I didn’t wash off my palette.

Two weeks later, I came back with renewed joy to finish my painting. I spent an hour refining small details (even though I knew it was hardly noticeable.) Finally, I stopped. I signed and scanned my painting and looked forward to sharing it.

I have been called a perfectionist quite often. A perfect painting is not really possible or even preferable. I always hope to learn something from every painting of mine.

What did I learn from this painting? I will share it with you now. I have always been aware that there is a difference between the front and back of my hot-press watercolor paper. The front has a random pebbly surface and the back has a screen-like texture.

When I looked at close-ups of my painting, I was puzzled as to why it looked like I had worked on canvas. Then it dawned on me. I had painted on the back of my watercolor paper. With my eyesight issues, it was harder for me to notice the difference. I also didn’t think it mattered.

Well I definitely learned something important from this painting!

It was fun thinking of ideas for this post’s title. I started with “I had a lot of dates.” Another one that didn’t make the cut was: “I’m not out of date; wrinkles can be beautiful!”

But the title I chose was very satisfying. Every time I picked up my paintbrush, I had a date with inspiration!

Taking a two-week break was good for me. It was an adventure when I left my son’s house in Las Vegas and drove to Utah to visit my dear Insight Timer friend, Cathy. This was my third time visiting her and I stayed for two nights.

A few months ago I had drawn a maze of her beloved poodle, Zoey, who died last year. It was nice to see it on her wall.

I practiced my instrumentals while we were together and Cathy cooked us wonderful meals. I loved the scenery and was grateful it hadn’t rained or snowed while I was there.

Before I left, Cathy gave me such a personal and unique gift. She had made me a custom collage wall hanging that was guitar themed. Her quilting skill and the love she put into it dazzled me. I would treasure her gift forever.

Judy and Cathy

I really enjoyed my trip, especially being with my son. His home was my “home away from home.” I cooked his favorite foods and helped him organize his closets (I took loads of bags to a donation center.)

While he was at work, I ate out several times with my friend, Riva. We met thirty years ago at a bereavement group for parents who had lost a child. My time with her was very precious.

I always feel like the best part of traveling is coming home. The day after I came back, I performed guitar instrumentals live on Insight Timer. I had caught a cold unfortunately, so my guitar replaced my voice. Having dodged Covid and colds for over three years – I realized I was vulnerable after all.

I’m not sure yet what my next creative project will be. I do want to publish a book of mazes. Perhaps, I might create some new music. Whatever I end up doing, I love that I have the freedom to choose!

Coming soon – The Judy Unger Puzzle Shop!

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Two months ago, I requested an appointment with my dry eye doctor, because my eyes were bothering me more than usual. When the doctor said she saw a problem with my macula, my heart froze. My aunt had been completely blind from macular degeneration and my mother suffered also. I knew it was hereditary.

After a scan of my macula, the doctor said, “I have good and bad news. You don’t have macular degeneration, but you do have a macular hole.”

It took me awhile to process what she said. I was devastated. As soon as I got home, I researched it. Another name for what I had was a “macular pucker” – of all things. It was actually very common.

Once my initial panic calmed down, I realized that it’s something I’ve been dealing with for at least 7 years. I’ve had poor spatial awareness since my cataract surgeries in 2012. I easily bump into things and even broke my ankle in 2019. Mostly, I hate that I see so much “fog and floaters” (due to PVD). My dry eyes are a constant struggle and the “fog” was probably related to this.

However, since I’ve had this awhile, my insight was that it has not terribly impacted me. I can still paint, edit music, drive, and even play tennis. Hopefully, it won’t worsen.

This was just another hurdle to add to my list of “aging complaints.” But . . .

Just look at what I am able to still do!

My post title “You Are My Wings” definitely relates to many aspects of my life right now. But with “You Are My Wings,” who is the YOU? I will share my answer at the end of this post.

I recently released an album of older instrumentals and was able to use my illustration for the cover. Clicking on the image is a link to the album.

My most recent painting is named “Hummingbird and Hydrangea.”

It was blissful to paint, and I loved how the hummingbird held tinges of so many colors, especially the purple mirrored by the hydrangea. My painting required incredible patience, due to hundreds of tiny water droplets. For several weeks, I was content to paint a petal or two each day. (More about my technical process is on my other blog “Illustrating My Life”)

I have chosen to look at this time in my life as one of following my dream – of nurturing my creative abilities through art, music, and writing. Even when I’m not doing anything, I release myself from pressure, because I am simply recharging for my next creative burst.

I began to write this post with a few other ideas for titles, all lyric lines from “You Are My Wings.” Here they are:

“I Never Dreamed It’d Happen To Me”

“You’ve Sent Me Soaring”

“My Heart’s Taken Flight”

I chose “You Are My Wings” because it fit well to share my hummingbird painting. But there was no denying the excitement I’m about to share.

I see flying as an analogy to feeling joyful. I am very happy at the moment, because I received a lovely letter back from Barbra Streisand!

Last October, I mailed her a package with a custom 11×14 maze portrait, as well as my book “Beside Me Always.” I patiently looked forward to getting a response back.

I had already received a lovely letter from her foundation before, so I had confidence I would eventually hear something. I knew my maze was definitely unusual.

Every day, I noticed I was uncharacteristically eager to get my mail. And then I opened my mailbox and there was an envelope from her two days ago. I was surprised that I didn’t rush to open it; I felt like I needed to do a few things first.

I undressed and got into my pajamas. I went into the kitchen for a glass of water. I sat down and stared at the envelope for a long time – fingering it and turning it over a few times. I wondered why I was taking my time with it.

I realized that without opening it, there were still endless possibilities to imagine.I didn’t want to break the spell with the reality of those exact words.

I had no expectations when I created my maze of where it would lead. I certainly didn’t even know if I could truly capture Barbra with a medium I hadn’t used for over 40 years.

Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer. I gingerly used a letter opener to slit the envelope and reveal my letter.

What a magnificent surprise!

The wording was so thoughtful. My maze was described as mesmerizing. I was incredulous to learn it was hanging in Barbra’s home office. But complimenting my book and mentioning my deceased son Jason, really blew my mind. This was truly exceptional kindness and compassion.

I was leaping out of my skin with excitement and began to share my joy with friends and family. All the money in the world couldn’t compare to this feeling; this was my reward.

Before drawing a maze, I plan out my areas with a tonal study.

I sent my good news to a dear friend and our exchange was very inspirational. Anita and I went to high school, but don’t see each other often. But I always text her weekly to share about my live acoustic guitar performances on Insight Timer.

Our exchange shines a light on how I live to create versus promote. I prefer to inspire vs. monetize.


In the midst of a chaotic period of time last week, your mazes came into my mind. I thought, “Judy should put a book together and release her mazes!”

And then I thought about your other artwork. I thought about how you do your music every week and just get better and better.

And I realized, if Judy isn’t showing you what to do, Anita, no one else will. So, I’ve decided to work less and get back on my path to being an artist. You have been an inspiration and a source of guidance for me, Judy.

I’ve been off-track for decades. And your text this morning is confirmation from the universe that not only have you gifted me with your artistry, you’ve also been a teacher. Thank you very much. I’m getting to it!


Oh, Anita, you’ve touched my heart so deeply! I never imagined sending my live links to you would lead to such a lovely connection.

Nothing could make me happier than to imagine you getting back to your artistry. It has been a gift for me to explore my creativity at this stage in my life. I realize the impermanence of it – especially with my eyesight. This time is incredibly precious.

Time spent promoting vs. creating is a tough call. I have faith in the universe that the time will come when my art and music will magically expand in unknown ways. But even if I touch only a few people deeply – that is enough for me. I do dream that someday I might reach many more people. And yet, I’m perfectly fine living the life I have without that. What a blessing that is!

I’m so happy with what you wrote and look forward to hearing more about your creative exploration.


Judy, I hear you loud and clear. This week, I decided I’ve had enough of working and need to get back to my art. It’s always been work, work, work and making money – never enough about art.

You’re so right about our physical strength diminishing daily. And you are doubly correct about honoring the time that we have to do it. I feel like I’m starting from scratch. But damn the marketing – I’m with you.

Art will find its way to where it needs to go.

It’s our job to bring it forth.

Dear Judy,

On behalf of Barbra Streisand and The Streisand Foundation, thank you so much for sending the breathtaking maze-portrait (original and print)! We are all entranced by it!

We hope you will enjoy knowing that Ms. Streisand was completely intrigued and impressed by your artwork and will be putting it up at her home office.

The portrait is truly beautiful, mesmerizing, and layered with meaning. Absolutely stunning!

Additionally, your book is incredibly heartfelt and evocative. Truly, Jason is always with you in your art, music, writing, and poetic expressions.

As before, your correspondence was received with great appreciation. Thank you so much, Judy, for sharing your gifts with us.


Marisa Harrison, Program Assistant for Barbra StreisandMy “Wings” are:

1) the artistic and musical gifts I was born with. But, I have given a gift to myself by exploring them in any way I choose.

2) my vulnerability and willingness to open my heart.

3) the resulting beautiful connections I have made with other hearts that uplift and support me.

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I continue to share my maze journey, which reminds me of how I’ve rediscovered another pursuit I loved during my youth!


I was amazed how quickly I remembered how to draw mazes after a 40-year break! Since my last post, I’ve explored a few new mazes that I’m excited to share.

I thought a self-portrait would be a fun maze for me to tackle. I wanted to include my guitar and after sorting through lots of photos, I found one that looked like it would work. My first step was to isolate it into black and white areas. The next step was to draw my template outline using Photoshop.

Using a stylus to draw smooth curved lines was challenging. I continually backtracked and erased. And then my stylus lost control. I thought it was the tablet, so I bought a used version of the same one I had. But the problems continued.

It was time for me to upgrade to a newer tablet and pen. It turned out that…

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This college art assignment is an example of doodling that I channeled into my mazes.

Yesterday, I was playing women’s doubles and on every changeover the women were discussing their upcoming travel plans. I was definitely an outlier.

I’ve never been to Europe or any of the other exotic places my friends were excitedly talking about. Perhaps if I had a large sum of money, I would consider taking a trip. But because I have limited income, I’m very careful with my expenditures.

I found it interesting that I wasn’t envious or sad about my situation while listening to my friends. I examined my life for a moment and decided that I’m blessed to be living a vacation year round. Freedom is the path I chose after ending my long marriage in 2012.

I create art and music at my leisure, perform to a loving audience whenever I choose (via live-stream on Insight Timer), and I’m extremely close to all three of my adult children.

But this past year, my journey encountered a new pathway. As if rediscovering the music I loved as a teenager wasn’t enough, I have revived something else I also relished when I was young.

I am drawing mazes again!

My story can best be told with the many images I’ll be sharing.

It all began with reconnecting.

The theme of reconnecting with old friends has been part of my rebirth after I turned 50. Those renewed friendships have been incredibly meaningful.

Earlier this year, I visited with two former Junior High classmates. One friend I hadn’t seen in decades. Our reunion was lovely, and this new classmate warmly invited me to visit her beach house as a houseguest. Her husband knew me, because we had been in the same math class where I had drawn mazes when I was 14 years old.

A month later, I had a lovely overnight visit with this couple and I couldn’t believe what it led to.

The husband hired me to draw a maze, even though I hadn’t drawn one in over 40 years. He suggested that I create a maze in his company’s logo. I was paid generously, which was very much appreciated.

This new pathway was definitely a learning experience. I purchased new pens and ink to experiment with, and utilized my computer to design my maze. I created an outline template and then printed it onto different types of paper to experiment with. Drawing the maze was mindless and actually the easy part.

Now I’ll backtrack to describe the maze book I published at the age of 14. I wrote a post about it on this blog, back in 2011:   #44 MY AMAZING JOURNEY-PART 1

I am proud of my unique style of maze drawing. My mazes are actually pictures and incorporate tone. One of the last mazes I drew (before a hiatus of 4 decades) was of Richard Nixon.

I used to pass my mazes around in my classes. I would draw a maze inside outlines of hearts and even my friends’ names. (One friend told me that he has saved one of my mazes all these years!) I created mazes for class yearbooks. One day, my geometry teacher caught me drawing in his class and admonished me. But then he suggested that I try to get my mazes published. When I did indeed publish a book, I dedicated it to him.

Because an educational company published my book, it was required to be instructive. Below is a page from my book with examples of creating maze tones by using wider and narrower paths.

Once I finished drawing mazes for my former middle school classmates, I was ready to draw new mazes for myself!

No surprise that I chose a butterfly for my first new maze. This is my template.

Drawing a smooth line drawing with a digital stylus requires skill and a steady hand. With practice, I quickly improved. There were many advantages, such as being able to flip my butterfly wing to make it symmetrical.

I drew my butterfly maze twice, because initially I wasn’t satisfied with the first version. I ended up finding charm with both of them. The second maze was slightly more realistic, with more pronounced lines on the wings and less parallel spot separation lines.

After finishing two butterfly mazes, I wasn’t sure what maze I’d draw next. But then I received a letter in the mail that inspired me.

Six months earlier, I had sent a package to Barbra Streisand. In it were some prints of my artwork with a letter offering her one of my paintings. I also wrote about my passion for music and the healing songs I loved to share.

When I received a letter back from the Streisand foundation, I was floored! It was such an unbelievably beautiful letter that I wanted to frame it.

Here is a paragraph that took my breath away:

“Your dedication to sharing your paintings and music with the world is a profound gift. We admire your courage and your everlasting love for your dear son Jason, and we are inspired by your goal of sharing your healing artistic gifts with the world. Certainly, the world is a decidedly more beautiful and empathetic place with you in it!”

A CD was included with the letter. The cover art was very graphic and reminiscent of a maze.

Well, Barbra couldn’t accept one of my paintings, but perhaps a maze would be more personal and welcomed. I would draw Barbara a maze!

Although the CD cover inspired me, I looked for a more flattering image on the Internet. I found one and converted the photo into a black and white study. I diligently spent a lot of time on the preliminary work. There were many choices for the shadows on her face.

It was fun creating a maze for Barbra Streisand. I sent it to my new contact at her foundation and I share my letter that went along with it.

Every day, I check my mailbox. My new pathway is definitely thrilling!

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Link to recordings for my song: PEACEFUL AND INSPIRED

This album is a recent release of mine. It features arrangements that were created in 2014. (The image is a link to that album).

The album cover above features a recent painting of mine.

“My Journey’s Insight” is a sweet title for this blog that I began over 12 years ago. From the very beginning, it has been a place for me to share my heartfelt writing and life lessons.

My post title of “Peaceful and inspired” definitely describes my current life. I allow myself to explore any creative pursuit that pops into my mind. Whether it is art, music, or writing – I look for inspiration that stokes my passion.

I guess it’s no coincidence that I recently released an album with the title “Peaceful Arrangement Medley,” which begins with a lush arrangement for my song “Peaceful and Inspired.”

My recent painting named “Lily Pad and Lotus” is a great metaphor for me, because water is such a beautiful element to paint. I regularly swim and feel so peaceful afterwards. When my dear friend Joni sent me photos from her trip to Georgia, one of them really caught my eye. I told her I was excited to make a painting from it.

Writing has been on my back burner for a while. But when I hear words speaking to me, I know it is time to write. It’s such a mysterious process that I love, and my post today truly came as a surprise. I find that when I look for meaning through ordinary life, inspiration awaits.

Here is my story.


I was disappointed when I heard my neighbor Gabriel was moving. I live in a coop of 24 units and both Gabriel and I are board members. Gabriel was such an important part of our board and our building. He would certainly be missed.

When he sent out an email about his upcoming move, he told everyone to stop by and take anything they wanted. He explained that he didn’t need any of his furniture, because he was moving to a furnished place.

Gabriel was anxious because he had one week to clear everything out of his unit. On Saturday, his movers would empty the place and take away anything left behind.

I met up with him and was excited for all the nice things he had available. Unfortunately, my place was small and I really couldn’t see myself taking anything. Mostly, I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing it down from his upstairs unit into mine. Then I would also have to get rid of whatever I replaced. His queen bedroom set was so tempting though, and only four years old.

My youngest son took a look around and zeroed in on something he wanted. There were a pair of excellent speakers. My son said he would definitely pick them up later in the week.

Impulsively, I told Gabriel that I could help clear out his place and even make money for him by placing some ads. I relished the challenge and thought it might even be fun for me. Whenever I sold items on Ebay, I felt very accomplished.

Gabriel was thrilled by my offer and said, “Judy, we can split it. Whatever you get, I’ll give you half!” I smiled and told him that wasn’t necessary – we would see where it went.

I took pictures of everything and began an odyssey of salesmanship on OfferUp, NextDoor and Craigslist. Right away, it became a huge time sucker.

There were six listings in three places. I received dozens of messages asking if the items were still available. Even though I would reply to every message, there was seldom a follow-up after that. It became a challenge to remember who was interested in what, so I had to take notes.

One guy did show up. He said he would be in touch to pick up 5 pieces of furniture the next day. But he never got in touch. Someone else told me he had arranged for movers to come in the afternoon. Well, that didn’t happen either.I received a message about the bunk bed from someone hoping for a lower price. I replied that it would depend upon whether someone who planned to pick it up followed through.

A man planned to get the treadmill after he came back from a weekend trip. But when I checked with him on Monday, he said he had gotten into a car accident and wouldn’t be able to use a treadmill for a long time, let alone lift it into his car.

I tried not to bother Gabriel with anything, unless it involved going into his apartment. He gave me a key in case I needed it.

As the days edged toward moving day, I went back to the message about lowering the price for the bunk bed. I had already done that with everything else.

The woman’s name was Blanca and I told her if she just wanted the bunk beds, it would be $150.

Blanca replied quickly. Earlier, she shared that she had seven children and really needed it. Her husband stopped by with money later that day, but there was a language barrier. The man put his wife on the phone and Gabriel told her that he wouldn’t accept money until the furniture was picked up. The wife was adamant that he hold onto it for them and promised they would pick it up the following day.

It turned out that this was the only sale for all of the work I invested in advertising four rooms of furniture that week. It was humbling. I decided that selling furniture was definitely not up my alley.

I spoke with Gabriel and asked him how the pick up went.

He said, “I hope it’s okay that I only took $100 for the bed and that was only because the husband insisted. I happily gave them pillows, bedding, the desk, and dresser, too. They were thrilled. When they told me that two of their seven children were sleeping on the floor – well, it sure felt good to give it all to them.”

I grinned and was so happy to hear this. Of course, I reassured him that his generosity was wonderful. Some things are worth so much more than money and this was one of them.

Every time I think about how much that family is appreciating their furniture, I find myself smiling. All of the energy I expended was worth it – to foster this meaningful opportunity for them.

Many times, the effort that is put into something goes into another unplanned direction that I believe can be just as worthy.

The night before Gabriel moved, my son and I came to get the speakers. We both wished him well.

Gabriel said, “I’m really glad these speakers are going to a good home. They were my brother’s. I believe he paid about $1,200 for them.”

That opened up a window to an obvious question. If I weren’t a bereaved parent, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to ask.

“Gabriel, what happened to your brother?”

He answered softly, “He died ten years ago.”

We talked a little more. I learned that his mother had been involved in the grief organization Compassionate Friends, just as I had.

Jason died over 30 years ago at the age of 5 and I still receive mail for him.

I opened the door for my son to carry out the speakers. It was dark, but my eyes were moist with tears. When Gabriel shared that they were going to a good home, I had no idea. His parting words gave me chills.

His brother’s name was Gregory. And that was my son’s name.

Prologue: The house shook – my heart was pounding. An earthquake? No, it was just the damn bass notes from those new speakers!

Thanksgiving was very special this year – I had both my sons with me.


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When I visited my friend Cathy in Utah, she took pictures of me for my Insight Timer profile picture

In the last five years, my desire to write for my blog has diminished. I do keep “idea folders,” which I hope will motivate me. Those folders are brimming with pictures and inspiration for future stories.

There is great irony with the title of this post, since I don’t consider myself to be much of a traveler. But I re-frame negatives surrounding that – with the knowledge that I my current life is like a perpetual vacation and I love right where I am!

I left my marriage ten years ago and have devoted myself to embracing my creativity. Whether it is art or music, I explore any avenue that inspires me. Although these pursuits are somewhat solitary, I have formed many connections with people through my art and music.

I perform regularly on the app Insight Timer. I have a “tribe” of supportive friends from all over the world who are there to listen and support me. While I am playing, they write to each other. My heart swells to see their loving messages.

There are even friends from my past who tune in to hear me play. I grow teary remembering that some of them knew me when my songs were babies – back when I was a teenager!

I have a pen pal in Greece, whom I’ve written to daily for over six years. I feel confident that one day I will meet her. But I’d like to share about two special women that I actually had the chance to meet after corresponding with them virtually.

My friend Jan experienced tremendous loss in a short time. Her appreciation for my songs, led to my mailing her numerous CD’s. We had many heartfelt conversations over the phone. Jan lived in Chicago and when she relocated to California last year we were both thrilled. I made a trip out to her new home and the excitement of meeting her can best be seen with our pictures.

My sweet friend, Cathy, has attended almost every single one of my lives on Insight Timer. No one could ask for a more devoted friend. Cathy lives in St. George, Utah and generously invited me to stay with her anytime. I took her up on her offer, since that isn’t far from Las Vegas where my son lives.

It was an adventure when I drove out to meet her. What fun we had! We explored a gorgeous state park and took many pictures. Most amazing, was the gift that Cathy surprised me with. She is an avid quilter and put love into every square of the custom quilt she made me. I will treasure her gift forever.

My song “Someone to Love You,” is infused with love for my children. My travels took me to visit my oldest son and daughter (I live with my youngest son.) I missed seeing them due to the pandemic, and it was a big deal for me to make those trips.

My oldest son lives in Las Vegas and is currently a Kindergarten teacher. I am so proud of him! I know he truly makes a difference with the children he works with. Whenever I visit, his big beautiful home is my second home. In January of this year we went to the mountains above Las Vegas. I loved our pictures with the pine trees in the background!

My daughter is getting married in the fall of 2023. I am so happy for her! I share some of her engagement photos below.

This past summer, I traveled to Minnesota to see where she lives. I was excited to experience finding fireflies. We also went bicycle riding, floated on rafts in a lake, and took long walks. There are no words to describe how much I love her!

“As You Travel” is a lyric line from my song “Someone to Love You.”

My song ends with these words:

When you’re older, the child inside you remains

you will discover wherever you roam

love will be in your heart, and carry you home

That is where I am living now. Every day, I nurture and rediscover more of my inner child. And even though I infrequently travel, love guides every interaction.

My heart is my home!


A recent picture of my birthday celebration with dear tennis friends this past October. Turning 63 was a privilege!

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So excited to share my newest musical creation! Tides are a great metaphor for “going with the flow.”

Judy Unger Music

The 4-chord melody for Guitar Tides was composed last year. I put it aside when I couldn’t seem to expand it beyond those chords. Instead, I found myself energized to work on “Autumn Hope” so I discarded those 4 chords in the key of A.

Once “Autumn Hope” was finished, I wondered whether I had another guitar instrumental in me. I went back to play those 4 chords and felt inspired to add a few more bars. As more and more passages were revealed, the song expanded beautifully. I didn’t have any idea what to name it, so for 6 months, I called it my “new piece in the key of A.”

It took patience for me to decide when my song was truly finished. Eventually, it felt complete and I recorded the main guitar part in August. But it still wasn’t done. I wanted to explore guitar additions. In…

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On October 6th, 2022, it will be 30 years since my 5-year-old son Jason died. For this looming “30 year anniversary of the heart,” I read from my book on Insight Timer’s Live platform. It was very emotional.

Even though it’s been three decades, I kept my promise to Jason. At his funeral I tearfully announced, “I will keep his memory alive!” Jason is very much a part of my music and songs. When I sing, I feel spiritually connected to him.

I have a box in my closet that is filled with memorabilia about Jason. I plan to pull it out again this week. In 2010, I carefully sifted through that box before writing a gut-wrenching story describing how it felt to lose my child. In 2018, I self-published a book with that story and named it “Beside Me Always.” (I am much more attached to the audio version, which I recorded myself several times before hiring a professional reader.)

I believe that writing released so much of my pain. Not long afterwards. I started healing. Then I picked up my guitar, which I hadn’t played for decades, and began to sing again. The first song I played was my song “Beside Me Always.”

Clicking on this image leads to where it can be purchased on Amazon.

A few months ago, I attended a funeral at the cemetery where Jason is buried. I went to visit his grave and was in awe when I thought about how much has happened since he died. But I felt like Jason wasn’t really gone.

For these three decades, he has surrounded me with his love.

Jason’s artwork. He emphasized his heart and looks like an angel.


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When I began this blog in 2010, I hadn’t written much for thirty years. It was such a joy to “open the door to my heart.” Since that time, I have shared intimately about my life. I started out by writing about my past and continued to share personal details and deep emotions about my present life.

Something definitely has shifted in the past few years. Perhaps it began in 2019, when I broke my ankle while hiking. I experienced numbness and withdrawal. Not long after I could walk again (I was in a wheelchair for 4 months) – the pandemic arrived.

Even with the isolation from Covid 19, I have kept myself on a peaceful path. I can admit that I definitely ate too much and it’s been very hard for me to deal with that, especially after my sedentary experience with a broken ankle. But every day I focus upon my amazing recovery. I still play a decent tennis game and enjoy slugging it out with my friends twice a week. Tennis has helped pull me through and continues to be my therapy.

2020 and 2021 gave me the opportunity to create a create a third course for my favorite app, Insight Timer. It is named “Door to My Heart.” Most people would assume a course is academic. For me, I have chosen to share wisdom and insight I’ve discovered through my song lyrics. I already have two other courses on Insight Timer and there was more for me to share with the songs for this third one.

One of my song lessons is named “The Door.” I have come a long way since I went through the door, which is a metaphor for ending my marriage of 31 years. I moved out 10 years ago on my birthday, which is in two weeks. I can’t believe an entire decade has gone by, although it’s hard for me to imagine my former life anymore. It really seems so long ago.

Below is a link to a page about my course, that includes many musical tracks associated with it.

Insight Timer Course – DOOR TO MY HEART

I’ve decided to catch my blog up to speed with my life again. It is fun to “put myself out there!” I have a lot of pictures to share and will let those tell my story. So much more will be posted here soon.

I will start off with my most recent paintings.

I’m hanging out with my BFF, Joni. We were in Malibu Creek State Park that day, where Joni is a docent.

In March, my daughter visited from Minnesota where she now lives. We took a lovely walk around her former area in Altadena.

It was a lovely Mother’s Day this year, when I had all my children together with me!

In June, I visited my former high school choir teacher, Frankie. As a result of visiting her, 3 years ago I become good friends with David (who is on my left.) This was my second time seeing Jim (on my right) after 40 years!

David is my buddy. He also lives in his childhood home only a mile away from me. We enjoy hanging out together. He’s also a great singer!

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