MY SONG UNSUNG-PART 2

MY SONG UNSUNG

I’ve played my songs on countless shores

in quiet shade of sycamores

All my pain was overcome

by heart-torn lyric and a strum

When I was young

I wrote my song unsung

 

Experience, it felt so cold

but music was my friend

I lived wearing a blindfold

Yet with lyrics I didn’t pretend

 

Through the years, when life was hard

my heart became numb and scarred

All my joy had gone away

and with sadness I couldn’t play

I was still young

I left my song unsung

 

Loneliness had left a hole

for years I made no sound

til music came to soothe my soul

and to turn my life around

 

Dreams were fuel that kept me strong

My heart was healed because of song

I learned that I could sing and then

I discovered joy again

 

I found that I had faith inside

my songs returned; they had not died

And though I was no longer young

Look what my music had brung

I sang my song unsung

I sang my song unsung

This page was from a book of lyrics created for a calligraphy class assignment in 1981.

In 1980, I composed a very simple love song. It only had two stanzas and was unfinished. I named it “This Song Unsung.” I clearly fantasized about falling in love, as evidenced from a diary entry around that time.

My simple song truly went unsung and for thirty years it was a distant memory.

When I began playing my guitar again in 2010, I eventually expanded “This Song Unsung” and it was renamed “Her Song Unsung.” This time, the lyrics were about rediscovering music and joy that translated to saving my lonely marriage. The last two lines went: “In his arms she did belong, her life became her love song.”

Unfortunately, what I projected did not fit my reality and It was very awkward for me to sing “Her Song Unsung” because it wasn’t honest. Also, writing in third person was very detached.

A few years later, I rewrote the lyrics to fit my life and the new title was “My Song Unsung.”

I am so grateful that I was finally able to do justice to this old song of mine. It’s no longer “unsung!”

More recordings, videos and stories can be found at this link: MY SONG UNSUNG

 

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MY COUSIN, DEBBIE

I am attaching audio from my spoken tribute to Debbie at her memorial:

I’m in pink and my cousin, Debbie is in the middle. My childhood buddy, Joni is on the right.

Almost every week, I would pick up my cousin, Debbie to go to dinner and occasionally a movie. I searched for movies that were wholesome and upbeat for her.

I laugh. remembering how I wasn’t always careful about researching my movie suggestions in the beginning. I thought Moonlight was going to be romantic, but when it became violent Debbie covered her eyes during most of the movie. I told her we could leave, but she wanted to stay and was a trouper. It was probably her least favorite movie even if it won the best picture Oscar!

A picture of us in a movie theatre last year.

No one was like Debbie in my life. Her first words upon getting in my car were usually, “Judy, can you please play me your latest song?” She oozed sweetness and love.

Debbie was only two months younger than I. We shared a lot of memories of growing up together. Our wonderful times included parties, beach trips, double dates and sleepovers.

This picture was taken after a wonderful day at the beach. Debbie is on the upper left side.

My cousin’s life wasn’t easy. Her biological mother died when she was a baby. Her father married my aunt and she adopted his three children. In her late teens, mental illness took hold and Debbie was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. At one of our last sleepovers, she babbled and cried out in the middle of the night and it was scary. She was in and out of treatment for many years. I did visit her at the hospital once or twice. But I was not really close to her after that.

During the time Debbie struggled with mental health challenges, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She beat it, but was left with many health issues plaguing her later in her life.

So after my carefree years of childhood, I rarely spoke or saw Debbie. I was happy that she found love and got married. She was invited to every family event, but often didn’t show up. But Debbie was vigilant about keeping in touch with my parents; she would call them on a regular basis. I was sad when her parents passed away and she was sad about mine, too.

After I left my long marriage in 2012, I moved back to the home where I grew up and Debbie lived only few miles away. One day, I spoke with Debbie and we made plans to get together. She didn’t drive and I was happy to go pick her up.

Our relationship was revitalized and we began to make plans more frequently. She became my “movie buddy.” Before that, I would go to the movies alone when I had the desire to see something. Now I had Debbie’s eager company.

I used to feel guilty that I had pulled away from her when she went through her mental health issues. Now I had the chance to turn things around, to feel good about making a difference to her life.

Her excitement to go out with me was infectious. I’d pull up to her house and call her to let her know I was there. She’d eagerly walk down the driveway and happily slide into the passenger seat of my car.

After a few years her gait became unsteady and she began using a walker. It reminded me of taking my mother out. Although it was challenging at times, it heartened me to feel my mother’s presence during our outings. I loved talking with Debbie about our parents and memories of them.

Only a month before she died, Debbie seemed to be gasping when she spoke. She shared that it was hard for her to sleep at night and she was hoping to get a prescription for an oxygen tank to help her. It took hard work and advocacy for her to get it, but she prevailed.

On our very last outing, her husband, Tom came out to my car holding a big bag next to Debbie. In it, was her oxygen tank that she now needed during the day. He explained to me that I would need to change the battery after two hours. As he showed me how to snap in another one, I watched carefully and felt a little nervous about this important task.

It was definitely tricky to get her into my car with the tank. She finally eased into the passenger seat but didn’t have the strength to put on her seatbelt. After fastening her in, I started to ask her where she’d like to go for dinner. Then I had an idea. I said, “Deb, how about coming over to my house? I’d like to fix you dinner tonight.”

She said softly with a small hint of a smile, “That would be wonderful.”

It wasn’t easy getting her to manage up the 3 stairs into my old apartment. This was where she had stayed with me when we had sleepovers as teenagers.

She was breathing hard as she sat at my dining room table while I fixed some of her favorite foods. I could see she’d lost a lot weight since the week before. I put a plate in front of her, but she hardly ate any of it. I was worried.

Despite my worry, I saw that she was happy being there with me. This was so much better than going to a restaurant. After I cleared the dishes, I had another idea.

I brought out a box of old photos from my closet. It wasn’t organized, but I knew there would be many interesting pictures inside. I found one of Debbie as a young child. She glanced at it and asked who was in the picture. “That’s you, Deb!” I made a pile for her to take home.

A picture of 4 cousins, Debbie is on the far left and cut off in this picture. My pose is so silly!

I pulled out some pictures taken at my Sweet Sixteen party. It amazed me to think that those pictures were taken right in front of my apartment building – the same place where I was now living. Debbie studied them, but then she revealed something very sad to me. Normally, everything she said was positive and perhaps with her recent struggles it was hard for her to stay that way.

“Judy, did you know that I was crying when that picture was taken at your party?”

I looked carefully again at her picture and said, “Deb, I don’t see tears. But tell me, why were you crying?”

“I was crying because I felt left out,” she said. You had so many friends and I didn’t.”

I felt tears well up in my eyes and I hugged her.

Debbie is leaning toward me in the upper left corner. Was she teary?

Now she was struggling to breathe and said, “Can you please change the battery? I’m not getting any air.”

I reached into the bag to get the replacement battery. My hands were shaking as I pulled out the dead battery and inserted the replacement. I hoped I was doing it correctly and Debbie was gasping as I fumbled. I pushed a button and we waited. Then Debbie reached over and pushed another button anxiously. It turned the unit off.

My heart was racing as I pushed the correct button again and gently held her hand away. The machine whirred and started pumping again. I was so relieved!

I still needed to drive her home, and could feel the weight of responsibility upon me. We had three steps to go down and a short distance of walking to reach my car. I gathered some extra food and pictures I wanted her to keep. I maneuvered her walker down the stairs and held onto her firmly.

As she sank into my car, she whispered, “Judy, this is pretty tough.”

I said, “I see that. I’m so sorry, Deb!”

After dropping her off, I cried. I knew she was going to have the best surgeon and hoped her heart procedure was going to “fix” this awful situation.

When she didn’t make it through, it was a reminder to me of how my son died. All the hope in the world and medical treatment didn’t change the outcome.

A picture from Debbie’s wedding.

I will miss Debbie and I share one of my last fond memories.

Two weeks before she died, we went to dinner at her favorite restaurant. We stood up to leave and I went to get her walker.

Debbie stood holding her chair. She reminded me of a willow tree swaying in the wind and asked me to help button up her sweater. She did not have the energy or dexterity to do it.

I stood very close to her and gently pushed each button through, one by one. When I finished the last one, she beamed at me. I felt like I was bathed in a glow of joy. Her face shone with a radiant smile and her eyes sparkled. “Hey Deb, what’s the big smile for?” I asked.

She said, “I’m just so happy!”

That is how I will remember Debbie.

Our last picture taken together.

 

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HEART SONG

This is an excerpt of solo guitar that will be part of a new meditation song for Insight Timer. “Heart Song” begins after a short riff of an older song named “Farewell.” I plan to add piano and the entire track will be approximately 30 minutes when completed.

I retreated into my bedroom. I had hoped our lovely family gathering would be uplifting, but unfortunately it turned into something else. There were hurt feelings, anger and lots of drama and it continued after I excused myself.

I closed my door and took a deep breath to calm the pit in my stomach. Most of the time I felt peaceful in my “post-divorce life.” Triggers like this emotional conflict threw me backwards, but thankfully they were rare.

My guitar beckoned me. I gently picked it up and wiped away my tears. For several weeks I had been working on a new instrumental composition that was definitely special. My goal was to expand an older instrumental named “Farewell” with additional passages in the same key.

Every day, I searched for ideas. I already had several bars but I hoped I could add more to them. I heard emotional discussions going on outside my door and tried to ignore it. As I played my guitar, I felt shaky and sad. When a few sweet chords appeared, I played them repeatedly and went further with it. My heart was soothed.

Eventually, I had to address the family drama. I extended my love, despite my own hurt feelings. I was unable to share my truthful emotions, which drained me. I felt turmoil for a few days afterwards, but held onto the beautiful chords that were created during such a stressful time.

It was challenging for me to decide when my new composition was finished. I had to balance my excitement of recording it, while hoping my song had reached it’s full potential.

After another week, I was ready. I planned to record it early on a Sunday morning. There would be less traffic noise that way, except after sunrise there were noisy birds chirping outside my window.

The night before my planned recording, I set up two microphones in my bedroom. I cleared a small path so I wouldn’t trip over them at night when going to the bathroom.

Guitar recording involved intense concentration, as well as sitting still for long stretches while playing. I actually had two songs to record – my older composition of “Farewell and my newer addition to it.

Because this music was for meditation, I would play slowly. I estimated it would take about two hours. The main issue was to align my body and guitar in the exact same position for those hours. I wanted to record enough material to work with and tried different variations so I would have many choices while editing.

I slid into my chair and tuned the guitar carefully. I began when it was still dark and delicately fingerpicked in my quiet bedroom. I felt the guitar notes flowing from my heart. My body actually was tingling as I played.

Eventually, I had to stop because the chirping of birds was getting louder. I unplugged the mics and labeled the tracks. My old song was named “Farewell,” but I wasn’t sure what to call the newer part. I chose “Heart Song.” The full version could be called “Farewell Heart Song.” Of course, it was possible that I’d change my mind later on.

I stretched and made breakfast. I was so glad I had decided to record that morning. Later in the day I planned to visit a dear relative who was in the hospital. I sipped my coffee and then noticed someone had left me a voicemail message while I was recording.

As I listened to his tearful voice, by heart sank. My dear cousin, whom I was very close to, had taken a terrible turn for the worse.

I thought I would be seeing many relatives, but when I entered her hospital room there was only a nurse. I asked if it would be okay to hold my cousin’s hand. The nurse pulled down the sheet and I grasped her limp fingers.

I could hear the notes to “Heart Song” playing in the background as I leaned my face next to hers. She had one eye open and there wasn’t a glimmer of awareness behind it. I cried and poured out my heart.

How could I have known that my newest meditation song truly was a farewell?

She died a few hours after I left.

I share an excerpt of a recent performance of “Heart Song” before I became more confident with it.

This is a link to the story about “Farewell.” #118 MY FAREWELL TO MUSIC

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HEALING SONG – PART 2

Link to other stories and recordings: HEALING SONG

I composed “Healing Song” in 2016. I attempted to write lyrics for it, but gave up when I decided it was meant to be an instrumental song. “Healing Song” clearly spoke to me without words.

I recorded a slower version of my song with added piano touches and released it on the Insight Timer Meditation app. Lovely people all over the world thanked me for my song and told me it didn’t need lyrics.

“Healing Song” was a perfect title because I wrote it while suffering with painful dry eyes. The melody lifted me out of my discomfort and not long after my song was written, my eye condition improved. After suffering for over four years with dry eyes, this beautiful outcome was welcomed.

Recently, I performed “Healing Song.” I shortened it slightly because of time constraints, but was pleased with how I played it that night. I took my time and allowed myself to linger over the many sweet passages. I expressed my feelings with every note.

I had some concerns about the tuning on my guitar. But thankfully, that night it was fairly in tune.

For well over a year, I had noticed on many occasions that I wasn’t satisfied with my guitar’s sound despite trying many kinds of strings. I decided to seek out a luthier (guitar repair expert) who came highly recommended. His name was John and 6 months ago he replaced the frets on my beloved Lowden. My guitar played nicely after that, but unfortunately the problem with tuning continued to bother me.

A few days before my performance, I brought my guitar back to John. I told him how the day before I had spent several hours recording 14 guitar tracks and none of them were usable; one chord sounded terribly out of tune. The calluses on my left hand had deep grooves after that session – it was such a shame.

After checking out my guitar, he said he didn’t hear a major tuning problem. He told me he could order an adjustable nut. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it could possibly make a subtle improvement for me.

I told John about that one chord and demonstrated the problem. It sounded terrible and was clearly out of tune. He reached over and pressed the exact same string and it wasn’t out of tune.

I played it and it was out of tune. I handed it back to him – he played it and it wasn’t. I scratched my head. What was going on?

It turned out that I was pressing too hard and pushing the string out of tune. Pressing hard seemed to prevent buzzing, but it wasn’t necessary.

I didn’t want to change my playing and told John to go ahead and order the part. He sent me a message a few days later that it wasn’t available, but he’d keep trying to find it.

In the meantime, I decided this was a sign for me. Pushing harder than was needed related to one of my favorite metaphors of “less is more.”

When I performed “Healing Song” at Kulak’s Woodshed’s Twofer night, it was a great opportunity for me to relax and play with less pressure. It made such a difference for my performance.

The wisdom from this was applicable to my life in many ways. “Pressing hard” was something I’m very familiar with. It was definitely time for a lighter approach!

I realize that I am happier with less pressure and most of the time it’s self-imposed. For months now, I’ve been recording an audio class for Insight Timer named “Grief Healing Through Music.” I had hoped finish everything before the Christmas holiday, but have had to accept that I can’t. This was a concept that could definitely help me with my frustration.

Healing is a very inspiring.

If I look for it, I see healing all around me. Recently, I’ve watched two of my children repair their relationship. It has filled me with amazement. When they were growing up, it was exhausting and frustrating for me to deal with their friction. I really wasn’t able to fix anything and even as adults, the tension between them upset me greatly. But my satisfaction of seeing them interact in a whole different way now fills me with pleasure.

This picture was taken by one of my children experimenting with an old film camera!

My oldest son’s growth and healing is another story I could write. This has been his first year working as an elementary school teacher. It has been exhausting for him and I’ve been very supportive of his courage to move to another state and work at a job where he had little experience. When he sent me a picture of a trophy he received, I wanted to shout out from the rooftops how happy I was.

Recently, I visited him for two weeks. A good friend of mine who is a teacher came with me for a few days. She really made a difference to his life. Before my son started his job, all three of us went shopping for school supplies for his classroom. Linnae even made him a Pinterest page and wrote out lists of suggestions to help him.

All three of us took a lovely excursion to a state park named “Valley of Fire.” It was a beautiful day!

I closed my eyes like I often do – but I know I looked happy there!

Even though stress and worry was a familiar part of my life for decades, I am learning to relax and enjoy my simple life. I used to take care of many family members and now it’s mostly just me.

Less pressure equals more joy. Less is definitely more!

The comments I receive daily on Insight Timer are definitely my fuel.

 

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CRYSTAL OCEANS – PART 3

I remember singing the melody to my song “Crystal Oceans” when I was only 17 years old. I loved the la la la’s and never imagined that decades later a music video would be filmed about my song.

Proof! A recording clip from 1980: 

The experience of filming this video was amazing. There were many hurdles and challenging moments – I could write a book about it. Now that my video has come together into a beautiful 4-minute fairytale, I am basking in joy.

I have chosen not to feel disappointed that my life didn’t follow the same script as this heartwarming video. If I thought about my song that way, I could feel sad. Instead, I am bursting with pride that I followed my dream to embrace music again after so many years of sadness.

After seeing my video, a good friend wrote this message to me. She said, “I hope you find love soon.”

This is what I wrote back to her:

“I already have found love and it’s okay for me to be without a man in my life. I’m very happy to be free to sing my heart out! But I love you and I understand your wish for me to find companionship. I do have a happy ending, even if my life didn’t end up that way. I just have a different happy ending!”

Singing my heart out

It was tremendous fun to participate in such a creative project. The director, videographer, editor, and actors all generously shared their talent, time and energy to make my dream come true. 

Director:  David Lautman

Director of Photography:  Shimmy Lautman

Video editing: Donna Ivgi Lautman

Young Judy:  Bailey Sorrel

Young Noah:  Andrew Trischitta

Older Noah:  Jonathon Wright

David and Shimmy’s mother is my childhood friend, Joni Lautman. Joni is dear to my heart and the reason I picked up my guitar again after 30 years. I can never thank her enough for that, but she continues to find ways to encourage me to share my voice! The picture above is of Joni and I as young teenagers with my mother at the beach. I was told that I look like my mother in the video.

This scene above was shot in my current bedroom. I live in the same apartment where I grew up and composed Crystal Oceans. The charcoal guitar illustration hanging on the wall is one I used to have in my old bedroom! David is filming Bailey dreaming of meeting her blue-eyed boy on the beach.

Young Judy is composing her song with my old classical guitar, the same one that I originally played all those years ago!

David and Shimmy did an amazing job setting up the shots.

I enjoyed a delicious salad at Coral Tree Café during the filming. Watching these two talented actors interact at one of my favorite cafes was a joy. 

It was very cold the day we filmed at El Matador State Beach near Point Dume. I was freezing and wearing my furry jacket. Bailey and Andrew were shivering but it didn’t show as they frolicked in the freezing ocean surf!

I’m glad I was able to borrow some sunglasses. Because they looked cool, I was encouraged to keep them on during the filming for a few shots.

I looked excited about the champagne, but in reality I don’t drink at all. But this video was definitely not about my reality – it was a fantasy!

More about the music video before filming: #556 THAT MOMENT WHEN

Link to more recordings, lyrics and stories about my song:  CRYSTAL OCEANS

Baily and AndrewJudy & Baily

 

 

 

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HOPE CAME WITH THE RAINBOW

“Music is my passion and art is my profession.”

I’ve said that line above many times. My artwork has taken a backseat while I’ve pursued creating music that I love. Unfortunately, creating music has been rather expensive but there is nothing else I’d rather spend my money on.

This year was incredibly slow for me in terms of receiving custom illustration assignments. The fact that I was beginning to think about finding income from sources other than art had me puzzled. I decided not to give up on my art career. If anything, I’ve learned that when I did that in the past during slow times – I was wrong.

After doing a little research and getting advice from several art directors I’ve worked with, I decided to advertise my work with a page on an online artists’ directory named “The Workbook.” I advertised in their print book early on in my art career.

Here is a link to my new page: https://www.workbook.com/portfolios/judy_unger/galleries

On my last post, I shared that my arranger, Robert Maule moved to New York. Before he left, he was nice enough to help me out in setting up equipment so I could record at home. Even though my apartment is far noisier than I’d like, I am certain this is a good thing in the long run. I want to have guitar and vocal recordings for each one of my songs. Last week I  recorded number 38 and only have 13 more.

It wasn’t easy to be the guitarist and engineer for my first home recording. Though it was challenging, I did it! I’m very proud of myself. I figured out all of the inputs and outputs and managed to connect my audio interface and microphones. It took a lot of time and practice to get it right. After recording my guitar takes, I was exhilarated and exhausted!

I recorded my song “Rainbow Through My Tears” because it was such a perfect song for my life. It has been much better for me to cry and release my feelings than to walk around like a zombie holding everything in.

As I was setting up my Neumann TLM 103 Mic, It tipped out of my hands and landed on the floor with a resounding thump. I cried for a few minutes on my bed. Then I bent over, picked it up and screwed it back in. Thankfully, my recordings after that were fine.

Link to more about this song: RAINBOW THROUGH MY TEARS

I’m getting recordings that I like, but my challenge is to record when it’s quiet in my apartment – not easy!

I really loved the meditation music I created while working with Robert. I released a medley of our songs and it has been very popular on Insight Timer. I also combined my acoustic guitar and piano recordings from this year into another track that is getting played a lot on that app.

I was very sad when our collaboration ended. But my journey has taken me down a new path and I’ve chosen to embrace it. I am certain that more amazing music is ahead for me.

A month ago on a whim, I decided to play tennis at a tennis center near my home in the evening. Playing at night isn’t as easy for me as daytime because I can’t see the ball well. But it definitely is one of my favorite ways to exercise.

The people at this tennis drop-in were friendly and it was really good for me. During one of the breaks between sets, I chatted with a young man who was wearing a music shirt. His name was Bobby. I told him how much I liked his shirt, because I was a music lover. Before long, we were talking animatedly about our musical passions.

A week later when I saw him again, we chatted more and I realized he could be an excellent fit to create meditation music with me. He created movie and television scores and had incredible keyboard skills. He mentioned he had the program Omnisphere, which is a fabulous sound bank for meditation music. Even though Bobby had a day job (in music, which isn’t easy to come by), he was eager to work with me in the evenings.

After our first session, I was buoyed. Bobby was incredibly talented and we could definitely create beautiful meditation tracks together. But before doing that, I had a different agenda. I wanted to create meditative snippets to add to my Insight Timer Courses that I’ve been recording and refining.

We started out working on my song “Every Season.” Bobby was very sweet when he told me how much he appreciated my unusual chord progressions. I was gasping when he easily played the melody and chords on his keyboard. In only an hour, he created a lush ambient background for my Insight Timer Lesson, as well as an exquisite outtro for the ending.

Even though it’s still unfinished, it gives me chills. Once we finish our work enhancing my Insight Timer Courses, we will begin creating full-length meditation songs. I am hoping I will receive illustration assignments because it will allow me to finance all the music I am eager to create!

I close my eyes, and concentrate on dispelling worry and fear. I feel peace and gratitude as waves of hopefulness wash over me. Nothing is more beautiful for me than to continue following my dream. That is it; I don’t need anything else.

I see a rainbow!

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HEAVENLY HEALING MEDITATION SONGS

Today marks twenty-six years since my 5-year-old son Jason died. I will always miss him, but he lives on in my music.

Last week, I released a new meditation album named Heavenly Healing Meditation Songs. I am blessed to be healed.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/judy-unger/980739638

On this anniversary of the heart, I do feel blessed. I am healthy and inspired as I finish the creation of an audio course for Insight Timer named “Grief Healing Through Music.”

It’s been such a beautiful experience to verbally express my stories, lyrics and gentle healing suggestions. Connecting with my audience through this project is something I’m very much looking forward to once my course is live.

Last week, my daughter came over and took some pictures of me to use for the course profile picture. Somehow, I forgot to include my guitar. I just might do another photo shoot, but I haven’t decided yet.

Jason does live on. I end my brief post with an excerpt from my lesson for “Beside Me Always.”

With this lesson I’ve shared how the statement “beside me always” is very uplifting. I remember being overwhelmed by unrelenting grief and feeling my pain lift just with the thought of my loved one holding me. A distinct memory can bring my loved one into my heart. When I’m in deep despair, I’ll listen in my mind to hear their voice, guiding me with love. And when I feel so much love inside, my grief is soothed and my loneliness is eased.

Thoughts equal feelings and thoughts can affect outcomes. It has been far more helpful for me to picture myself healing, than to view an endless horizon of despair.

When you feel discouraged, perhaps you can imagine ways where your loved one is beside you, holding you up. Continue to try to find signs of healing.

When I read the words of “Beside Me Always” at Jason’s funeral, my words expressed how he was always beside me. In the beginning of my grief journey, I used to worry that I would forget him. My longing for his physical presence was like torture.

But when I healed, I realized that Jason never left me. He was always there.

All of my angels surround me. They don’t want me to suffer and they comfort me when my heart is open to them.

 

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MY SHINING STAR-PART 3

Before my arranger, Robert Maule closed his studio in Burbank we took a picture together.

Links to lyrics and other stories about this song: MY SHINING STAR

This month holds many anniversaries of the heart for me. I am grateful for my healing and peacefulness. I remember my angels with love.

I am excited to share an excerpt of my latest meditation song: “My Shining Star.” My arranger, Robert did a wonderful piano performance on our last meditation song “Beside Me Always.” For this new one, we combined my guitar playing with piano. This excerpt leads to the climax of my song – I love it so much!

Robert and I created three beautiful meditation songs for Insight Timer this year. We began with “Angel in the Sky” followed by “Beside Me Always.” Two weeks ago, I released our third one “My Shining Star.”

“My Shining Star Meditation Song” can be heard as a single on Insight Timer (free app). A longer version named Heavenly Healing Meditation Songs will be released on IT next month. All of my music can be purchased on Bandcamp. Most of my songs are also available on iTunes.

At this time, I am creating a course for Insight Timer. Over the last six months, I wrote all of my material and I’ve finished recording the ten lessons. I am still mixing and editing, but it’s close to being released.

This has been a very personal endeavor. Unlike other courses on Insight Timer, I am not exactly “teaching” about grief. Grief is very personal and I want my lessons to offer comfort and convey hope. I will encourage anyone taking my course to find support by connecting and sharing their stories with other people.

I am eager to share with the world my insights about grief. Every one of my lessons is named for a song of mine that led to my healing. My favorite one is “My Shining Star. Below is the introduction to my course named “Grief Healing Through Music.”

I was truly reborn in 2010. Everything changed when I opened my heart to share honest feelings. I rediscovered the music from my youth and joy returned into my life.

I was baby when my journey began – it was definitely a rebirth! And like a child, I was bubbling over with enthusiasm and bursting to share my feelings with the world. It was very inappropriate for me to share email messages with everyone I knew. But I accept that it was part of my journey and my healing.

I have since grown up! All my filters have gradually returned. I am especially careful to write only about myself and not reveal much about my children whenever possible. I love writing on my blog, but I hardly post anymore because I haven’t felt like opening up as much.

Occasionally I’ve wondered – has the musical magic left me? It’s been awhile since I’ve written a new song. But with 52 song compositions, I have chosen to concentrate my energy on recording all of them.

I was very disappointed last month when I found out my current arranger, Robert, was closing his Los Angeles studio and moving to New York. I will miss working with him.

I’ve recorded a dozen acoustic songs with Robert, and his piano additions have been lovely. I use the instrumental versions to create meditation medleys for Insight Timer. A 45-minute version is coming out soon and I’ve named it “You Are My Wings Piano and Guitar Medley.”

I am proud of Robert for following his dream and moving away with courage to a big city like New York. His sensitivity toward grief was evident in the beautiful musical passages we worked on together. Losing his father when he was in his early 20’s impacted him greatly.

Releasing vocals takes courage for me. It’s usually hard for me to declare something to be finished, but I’ve done it. I’ve gathered all of my acoustic vocal recordings from this year and they are available on Bandcamp. There are also two new albums on iTunes. They are named: “You Are My Wings” and “Clear.”

It’s been a slow year for me as an illustrator. In order to follow my dream, I do need a source of income because my savings have dwindled. I’ve had to cut back on many things, including music. I struggle not to worry about it.

As I say goodbye to Robert, perhaps his timing was a good thing. I’ve decided to record at home and that will save me money. I have set up a recording studio in my tiny apartment. It will be interesting figuring out the best times to record amidst traffic noise and my 21-year-old son’s erratic schedule.

I fondly remember the many people who were part of my journey since 2010. Certain ones are forever in my heart. I can hear their voice in my mind and picture them beside me. Their influence moved me in beautiful directions; they are with me. I am grateful for what I’ve learned from all of them.

I plan to continue my musical journey even if I make a “career change.” Another idea of mine is to advertise my art skills again; it’s been many years since I’ve done that.

Even if I need to find another source of income besides illustration (I’ve also considered being a Lyft or Uber driver), I won’t let the musical magic in my life die. Pursuing my dream was never about making money. It was and still is about helping people heal as I share my heart.

As I finish my passionate project, the Insight Timer Course, I am confident that these grief/healing-related recordings are something I was meant to do. Everything I’ve learned in the past eight years has come together for me to create it.

Life is exciting and I am glad I could share on my blog what is going on with me. There’s much more going on related to my three adult children, but I’m not going to write about that!

These lovely comments on Insight Timer are definitely fuel for my journey!

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MISUNDERSTOOD-PART 2

For lyrics and other recordings of my song: MISUNDERSTOOD

Since I left my marriage six years ago, my focus has been my children first, and then my music. That has continued.

Music makes my world magical. It lifts me over my stress and worries. It opens up my heart. Feelings buried in the depths of my mind erupt when I hear gorgeous melodies.

For almost a year now, I haven’t felt as connected to my blog. I’ve continued to wait for inspiration to write something profound and touching. Sharing my heart has helped me in the past but I cannot share my heart completely now because so much of what I go through involves other people and their lives.

So I have been quietly writing about other things.

I’m currently creating a workshop for the app Insight Timer on the topic of grief, music and healing. There are ten lessons and for each one I discuss the lyrics to one of my grief-related songs.

I have created three new meditation songs so far this year, and am currently working on my fourth one. I continue to record guitar and vocals for my “deck” of 52 acoustic songs. Currently, I am on number 32.

why did you go?

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

A few weeks ago I began recording my song “Misunderstood.”

Every acoustic song of mine has two or more tracks of guitar parts. For “Misunderstood” I decided to add some strumming, which is very new. I like trying new things!

Misunderstood Guitar Mix

My current arranger, Robert, played a lovely piano addition to my guitar tracks. It is quite beautiful and hearing my song this way is very uplifting. The process of creating piano is something I’m very much a part of because I edit and chose the notes from many different takes. I enjoy doing that a lot. I’m planning to create a medley of my latest guitar and piano songs to put on Insight Timer in the near future.

Misunderstood Guitar & Piano

The lyrics to my songs speak to me. I have found great wisdom through my own lyrics. Even though I wrote them, I often discover subtle new meanings that I never intended. It’s fascinating when that happens.

It was no coincidence that I chose to record “Misunderstood.” I was feeling very emotional because my child had disclosed something to me that was terribly upsetting. I cannot write about it, but for several weeks I found myself crying and attempting to hold myself together.

Worry and fear are very contracted energies. In an attempt to dispel my anguish I spun different ways to look at the situation. My biggest method of coping has been love. I love my child deeply and I also try to extend a lot of love and compassion to myself.

I was recording vocals for “Misunderstood” last week and Robert stopped me. He felt my emotional vibe for the song wasn’t working well, but he wasn’t sure why. This song was so different from my other songs. Regret was such a hopeless emotion.

Misunderstood Acoustic 7-20-18

I wondered if perhaps I sounded too angry or forlorn. I took a deep breath and remembered how important self-compassion was for healing and coping. I thought of my parents and how much I missed them. I wondered what they would have thought about the upsetting information my child shared with me.

I began singing again and then the revelation shook me. I wasn’t singing this song to my child. It was a song to me.

“The walls you’ve build protect you now, I want to tear them down somehow”

I remembered four years earlier when I composed “Misunderstood” that I related to that line in an interesting way. I was very heavy and needed to lose a lot of weight. Overeating was a wall of protection. It was a way to numb my feelings and distract myself from the truth.

Now three years later, I felt stressed and had started gaining weight again. I maintained most  of my weight loss overall, but I hated this recent feeling of heaviness.

With a more gentle mindset, I adjusted my headphones and closed my eyes. I felt the emotion and vulnerability pour from me as I sang.

“You won’t forgive me for that argument. Those words you heard – I never meant.”

“Misunderstood, left with regret. Painful words you can’t forget”

As I sang my song to myself, I realized I hadn’t forgiven myself for those painful words spoken to my child 4 years earlier. I was the one with the inability to let go.

There was no misunderstanding now.

I understood.

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Beside Me Always – Now Available On Audio!

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Originally posted on Susan Hanfield:
I am excited to celebrate with Judy Unger the audiobook release of her poignant memoir Beside Me Always  recorded at Studio City Sound and produced by Punch Audio.  I met Judy a year prior to…

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