OPENING UP – PART 3

Guiding my thought processes through hypnotherapy has been “instrumental” in teaching me to live in a positive way. When my head spins with stories that aren’t helpful for me, I am constantly reframing those stories into new ones that feel better.

A few weeks ago, I felt very uninspired. I told myself that it was a long time since I had done anything creative. I hadn’t had an art assignment for months. I wished I could compose a new song or write a touching story for my blog. But instead, I was numb, closed up and kind of blah.

I was under hypnosis and searching for another way of thinking that would be more helpful. I said aloud to my therapist, Connie, “I want to be creative and inspired. I am open to it!”

And then a light bulb went off – that was it! Being open was my key.

After that session, I felt a creative rush and wrote OPENING UP- PART 2. But there was more that I saved for this Part 3.

There was a line from Don Maclean’s song “American Pie” that always hit me strongly: “The day the music died.” For me, my music died for almost 30 years. I never dreamed my songs would ever live again. But when they returned to me in 2010, I was reborn.

In 1980, I recorded 20 of my songs on a cassette tape. Thirty years later, that cassette helped me relearn my songs. I believe that explains my current passion for having my songs recorded. It is my way of keeping them alive, of having them live on.

Part 1 of this story (OPENING UP–PART 1) was written seven years ago and describes my first experience of having my music recorded and arranged by a man named George. George and I worked together on a weekly basis for five years and I amassed a large collection of arrangements.

The joy that came to me through the beautiful music George arranged helped me through the deaths of both my parents and my divorce. I was thankful for the comfort music gave me.

In some ways, the ending of my relationship with George was harder than my divorce. I didn’t believe I could ever find someone else that would understand my music the way he did.

For over a year, I recorded music at home. It was actually very beneficial to discover what it was like to be “on my own.” Although it didn’t carry the excitement I achieved while working with George, I did become much more intimately acquainted with my songs. I have 52 of them and my goal was to create a clean acoustic recording for each and every one. I have almost finished that goal.

My last project with George was a meditation album and we parted ways before the album was finished. I was very disappointed because I had only six songs, instead of the ten I planned on.

My meditation music made me sad because it reminded me of how my relationship with George ended.

Six months ago, a woman named Maddy contacted me and asked me if I’d be willing to upload my meditation music onto a site named Insight Timer. I was open to it and it was an excellent decision for me.

Suddenly, I had new friendships with people all over the world. Every day, I received touching messages and each one uplifted me. The appreciation became my fuel.

I used to bemoan all of my arrangements that lacked a good vocal. Now my unfinished arrangements found a new home on Insight Timer.

I wrote a blog story when I first joined Insight Timer and on it I shared some of the lovely messages I had received. (#538 MEMORY OF LOVE-PART 3)

A few days after that I received a message from Maddy. I couldn’t believe it – she had seen my blog story! She wrote:

“I came across your recent blog post and wanted to reach out to say how wonderful it was to read what a positive experience Insight Timer has been for you.  Our CEO, Christopher, read your blog post as well and felt such a sense of joy. It captured beautifully the authenticity and kindness of the community of Insight Timer.”

I am truly living my dream. When I connect with other people through my music, I feel indescribable joy. Last week, I released the full version of my six meditation songs. On only the first day, it was played over 4,000 times!

But I prefer not to focus on how many plays I’ve gotten. Reaching even one person in a big way is much more meaningful than anything else.

Two weeks ago, Maddy contacted me. She would be in Los Angeles with Christopher and we are planning to meet in a few days. Saying I’m excited would be an understatement. I plan to take a lot of pictures and write a story afterwards.

https://www.insighttimer.com/judyunger

After moping for a year, being open is what led me to find a new arranger. I’m back in a magical place of loving the music we are creating. We’re working on our fifth song together and I plan to release an album once we’ve done ten songs. Each one is a gem and I am very involved in the arranging process. It turns out that my belief of “never finding someone else to understand my music” wasn’t true.

Did my openness after that hypnotherapy session lead to me writing a new song? It didn’t, but my longing to create new music led me to reframe my thinking.

Since I see my songs as babies, I don’t need to keep giving birth to feel fulfilled.

I get tremendous pleasure watching my songs grow and develop. My babies are growing up and I cherish each and every one!

Below is a guitar recording for my next arrangement of my song “Alabaster Seashell.” I am improving as a guitarist with my new “less is more” approach.

Alabaster Seashell Guitar arrangement in progress

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OPENING UP – PART 2

The aroma of jasmine has been intoxicating me this past week. Hannah, my vocal coach, took my picture in front of her home where there are many gorgeous star jasmine bushes in full bloom.

The springtime aroma and breezes inspire me. I’m going to open up this post by sharing a delicate “in progress” arrangement of my song “Every Season.” On my next post, I plan to open up more about my music and share this song as it progresses.

Click the blue links to play audio:

Every Season new arrangement in progress-Copyright 2017 by Judy Unger

EVERY SEASON – guitar and piano Copyright 2017 by Judy Unger

I’m going to move away from the topic of online dating. It was a huge thing for me to be open to dating again. After 38 years, I went on my first date with a new man I met on an online dating site. We went out twice and I enjoyed my time with him. But I’ve grown tired of looking at profile pictures and receiving strange messages. I’ve decided not to renew my dating site subscription at this time.

What really inspired me was a message I received from a fellow blogger and friend, D.D. Wood.

D.D’s blog Daily Divorce Meditations really helped me when I was going through my separation and divorce. I often left D.D. comments that reflected my fear of ever considering a new relationship.

Well, a month ago I shared with D.D. the news that I was open to dating again. I loved her response so much.

Judy, WOW!!!! I am proud! You are doing it! Getting healthy and moving forward. My mentor told me a great piece of advice: she said to go out and do all the things I loved and that by living my authentic life I would meet someone out there who loved those same things I was doing and that is exactly what happened… I met my love while walking the dog! So keep doing everything you love…. being authentic… that love is coming!

My new job will consist of more yogurt flavors like this one.

I’ll be working on a new illustration assignment soon, so I am glad I was able to post on all three of my blogs this week.

It’s been 18 months since I’ve updated my art blog, ILLUSTRATING MY LIFE. My post BEING OPEN was truly a pleasure to write.

For four years, I suffered with dry eyes. Dry eyes are very individual and every person is different. I glad I was open to trying an alternative remedy by working with a naturopathic doctor. Because many remedies set me back and irritated my eyes, that took perseverance and courage. On my Dry Eye blog, Dry Eye Diaries, my post I WAS HEALED shares hopefulness and the technique that helped me. If my story inspires or helps even one person, then I am blessed.

From the time I was married at the age of 21, I closed up with every passing year. I denied my feelings and ignored my intuition.

Once I had children, I had no time to think about how I felt. I had children with extreme challenges and lived in survival mode. I became an “advocate warrior,” which only continued when I became a caregiver for my parents.

It was opening my heart and sharing that put me on my amazing journey of insight.

One of my first blog stories was named Up and Out. At that time, I hadn’t yet found the courage to write about the death of my son, Jason. But it was after I wrote my story that I truly began to heal.

Only last month, I arranged this song. I read the lyrics at Jason’s funeral in 1992.

After my separation, I gained a lot of weight as I struggled with my dry eye condition and the guilt I felt from my divorce. Food became my friend and companion and it wasn’t a healthy relationship. I struggled to find inspiration and am so glad I was open to signing up for a medical weight loss program. I have now lost almost 40 pounds and feel so much better.

This is a before and after picture to show my weight loss.

At the age of 57, I am now able to live freely and openly. I am happier and far more peaceful than I ever imagined I could be.

Watching my children grow has been one of my greatest joys. In May, I am taking all three of my adult children on an Alaskan cruise. I planned this trip over a year ago. My brother and sister-in-law are celebrating their 25th anniversary and we are joining them with their children. All of us are anticipating this vacation with unbelievable excitement.

My journey has taken me to such wonderful places. I smile because I hear such beautiful music wherever I am!

Click the blue link to hear a new arrangement for “Beside Me Always:”

Beside Me Always Arrangement-Copyright 2017 by Judy Unger

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I’LL PRAY THAT YOU’RE SAFE AS YOU FLY AWAY

These lyrics from my song “Someone To Love You” were written to my children. But they definitely apply to me, too!

I share my arrangement for my song “Someone To Love You.” This song is part of my musical life as I continue having new adventures!

SOMEONE TO LOVE YOU ARRANGEMENT – Copyright 2017 by Unger

I am 57 and it was almost 40 years since I’d gone on a date. Looking at a dating site was one thing, but actually meeting someone was definitely out of my comfort zone. Because I felt a different energy and excitement, I decided it was good for me.

When I received a message that didn’t sound pasted and copied, I went to look at the man’s profile. He looked nice and I wrote him back. He shared his number and I decided to text him.

He started out by thanking me for texting him. Then he asked me how my day went.

I shared a few things I’d done and thanked him for asking. Except auto-correct put:

“Thanks for faking!”

I jumped when I saw that and quickly wrote, “Darn that auto-correct! I meant thanks for asking!”

He asked me how long I’d been on the dating site and I told him it was about a month. He wrote:

“I was just curious why an angel like you wasn’t picked yet. Maybe it’s my lucky month to have connected with you. Or rather, maybe all men are just blind!!”

I grinned and wrote:

“Aw, thank you! You’re sweet. I’m plain – not much into glamor! Now I’m really smiling. So many of those messages I’ve gotten are cut and pasted. You seem like a real person – a really nice person, too.

”He replied:

“You are welcome. I feel so cool that I could make you smile. That simply implies you are a very happy person yourself; as it takes just a little endeavor to make a happy person smile.”

I enjoyed texting with this man. He said nice things and sounded very interesting. His name was a little complicated because his father was Italian. He told me he loved his work; he had an engineering degree and designed custom cars.

He was a widower and we wrote about our children. It was touching when he wrote that he had decided it was time to embrace life again. It was well after midnight when I said good night. I told him I was looking forward to speaking with him the next day.

In the morning, I wrote him a message and told him when I was available to talk. In the evening I was going out with my girlfriends and wouldn’t be around. I didn’t hear anything from him until late afternoon and I told him I’d text him when I was home later in the evening.

I looked forward to seeing my friends. I waited until the other three women had ordered their food and then I dropped my bombshell. “Guess what?” I said, “You won’t believe this, but I’ve actually signed up for online dating!”

All of my friends practically jumped up. They clapped and their eyes collectively widened with surprise – they were so excited for me. It was fun to see their reaction; these were women who had seen me suffer with caregiving, raising teenagers, going through my divorce and dealing with chronic eye problems. Their love and support had helped me through all of that. Being able to share something uplifting and wonderful put me on a cloud.

I took a deep breath and said slowly, “I think I might have met someone!”

They all asked me for his name. And then they wanted to know if I had could share his picture. I went to the online dating site to find it. “He’s tall and has a warm smile,” I effused.

I drove home from the dinner grinning and not long after I got home I received emails from two of my friends. Their messages were the same.

“Watch out! There’s nothing that shows up with that guy’s name. In fact, that picture is of someone else! Red flag!”

My head was spinning. I never knew about Google reverse image search. I was very lucky to have seen my friends that night.

The next morning, I received another message from him asking how I was. I wrote: “Who are you?”

What ensued was a dialog of him trying to understand why I didn’t trust him. He was surprised that his picture was someone else’s. I suggested he try a Google reverse image search and he wrote:

“Never mind; forget about it.”

I was very naïve, for sure. Not only had I allowed myself to be duped – I showed him how he could cover his tracks better in the future.

I thanked my friends profusely. One friend, Liana, told me she was happy to shadow me on any of my future dates. I was very touched by her offer.

My other friend Patty was very worldly. I thanked her so much for watching my back and wrote an email saying:

“Patty, this has been so shocking to me – but really a necessary lesson. I was so dumb!”

Patty’s reply was wise and her message definitely helped me view my experience in a much more helpful way.

“Hi Judy, I’m so sorry this happened. I know how exciting it can be when a cute guy is interested. You are NOT DUMB! You just don’t have a whole lot of experience yet. Give it time. Continue to cast your line and go on some dates with no expectation. Just have fun. It’s nerve-wracking at first, but it’ll get easier I promise.

Pretty soon, you’ll have a load more material to blog about! Some funny… some not so funny. You’ll meet nice guys… guys who just want to get laid…guys you want to smack… and guys who might reject you. And that’s ok. Rejection is protection. ALWAYS! Just please keep in mind that you have the power. Take care Judy. Love you!

Two months later, I received a message from a man who saw my profile on a networking site. He wrote:

Hello Judy,

How are you doing today? I was actually searching for an acquaintance when I came across your profile. I must confess you are pretty and this is me being honest and not just mere flattery.You caught my eye; I am interested in communicating more and sharing more about me with you and hope to learn more about you too that is if you are single and interested in communicating further.

I do believe everything is possible if we put our mind and heart together just like I believe that good things can be found in the least places. I hope to hear from you soon. Till then stay blessed.

Warm Regards, Daniel

I replied to his message and wrote:

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your honest and bold message – I smiled reading it. As far as your asking if I’m single – I am!

I have an open heart and am very blessed so your words rang sweetly to me. We can communicate more. I’d like to know more about you and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.

Take care, Judy

I received a long message back from Daniel. He shared pictures and his life story. He was a widower who lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. He lived somewhere in California, but he didn’t say exactly where, so I asked him.

His next message was even longer and he didn’t answer my question. I scratched my head. Then I went  and uploaded his picture to Google for a reverse image search.

Bingo! It said, “Beware of this man, he is a scammer.”

I laughed out loud! Thankfully my lessons were paying off.

But by then, I had actually met a nice man and went out on my first date in decades. It was a wonderful experience.

I am very proud that I’ve had the courage to take my chances through such a jungle of deception!

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DON’T HURRY, TAKE IT SLOW

endless-possibilities

These are lyrics from my song “Someone To Love You.” The lyrics I wrote to my children, definitely apply to me, too!

Just after the New Year began, I peeked at an online dating site and began writing a profile.

I pride myself for being a heartfelt writer, but writing a profile on a dating site was far different than writing for my blog. I do find humor with my first attempt. It was far too wordy and waaaaay too honest.

MY LIFE

My life is very different now and not at all like I imagined when I was younger. I devoted myself to my children and parents. I was unhappily married. I suffered through the death of one of my children. 

But everything changed for me when I discovered my love for music. I became joyful and music helped me cope through the deaths of my parents. I found happiness and felt excited about life again. 

I chose to get divorced after 31 years. I have been on my own now for 5 years.

I’m grateful for every day of my life. Today, I am peaceful and amazed that I had the courage to change my life. 

I have wondered why I was willing to consider online dating. It’s pretty scary for me. Mostly, I feel like I’m missing intimacy in my life. I often don’t have anyone to talk to except my sons – and I certainly don’t tell them all of my thoughts. 

I know I’m intelligent and have a great sense of humor. I think it would be wonderful for me to enjoy the company of a many who is kind and comfortable to be with. But since I haven’t dated in decades, it’s all very new for me.

FAVORITE THINGS

I read the newspaper every day. I love going to the movies and sometimes go alone. I don’t read much even though I am an avid writer. 

I love food and enjoy cooking – my youngest son, who is 20, often joins me in the kitchen.

After my divorce, I put on a lot of weight. But I’m very proud that I have taken off most of it. I recently lost 35 pounds and am hoping to lose more.

As much as I love food, I’m very careful what I’m eating these days. I never want to fall back to being heavy the way I was. Healthy is my motto and I enjoy fruits and veggies so much more now!

IN MY OWN WORDS

I’m a creative person. Music has been my passion for the last 7 years. I play guitar and regularly perform my original songs.

However, my profession is one of a commercial artist. I’ve been illustrating since I graduated college. My work is very realistic and my paintings are on labels in the supermarket. It’s been a great career and I still receive assignments, although I use the computer a lot more now.

I was married for 31 years. The whole idea of a new relationship is very scary for me. I’ve decided to be courageous and view this as taking small steps toward meeting new people and enjoying new situations.

I was very close to my parents and they are gone now. My children are close to me. I have two sons that live with me. I chose to live in the same place where I grew up after my divorce. I’m surrounded my many memories of my past.

I’M LOOKING FOR…

Someone who understands me and whom I feel safe with. I’m not really able to say that I’m looking for a partner – my past experience has left me with trust issues. I really don’t know what a “good relationship” looks like.

I was a caregiver for many years – I took care of my childrens’ needs and was an advocate for them during their school years. Thankfully, they are doing well now. Later on, I took care of my parents.

Today, I am taking care of myself. I’m not looking to take care of anyone or have someone take care of me. I am ready to explore and discover new things. I’d love to travel more and it would be much more meaningful if I had the company of someone special.

I cheated and used a few pictures from before my cataract surgeries. I can tell the difference with how much I could open my eyes after that due to dry eye pain. But thankfully, I can open my eyes again!

I cheated and used a few pictures from before my cataract surgeries. I can tell the difference with how much I could open my eyes after that due to dry eye pain. But thankfully, I can open my eyes again!

I decided after a month to change my profile. I was horrified at how many personal things I had shared.

I thought it might be fun to use a service where a professional writer created my profile. This would definitely be interesting. I paid a small fee and was sent a questionnaire.

Below is what I received back. Clearly, this was a very different writing style than mine!

HEADLINE

Life’s too short to not enjoy as much as you can! 

IN MY OWN WORDS

Being a commercial artist allows me a flexible schedule, which gives me time to both sing and compose music. 

I love to try new things, which is part of why I love traveling! I’ve scuba dived and would love to get to Europe and to U.S. National Parks. I’d love to go camping, too! 

I am filled with joy for life and would love someone who shares that feeling. I’d connect best with someone who is kind, comfortable, and intelligent (who isn’t intimidated by an intelligent woman!). 

FAVORITE THINGS

Cooking, taking pictures, 70’s folk music, friends, movies, and time spent outdoors. 

OCCUPATION:

I am a commercial freelance illustrator. My paintings are on many supermarket labels, which is quite fun!

Just for fun, I’m sharing a very old picture. The painting behind me was an album cover illustration assignment. Who knew that 39 years later, I’d actually use it on one of my albums!

Just for fun, I’m sharing a very old picture. The painting behind me was an album cover illustration assignment. Who knew that 39 years later, I’d actually use it on one of my albums!

Not long after I joined, I saw a bunch of messages in my in-box. I quickly learned which ones were scams, because they were all very similar. I actually didn’t realize it at first, but caught on.

The messages went, “I have a good friend and he’s a widower. I shared your profile with him and he would love to meet you. Please call this number.”

Finally, I received a message that seemed real. He complimented me on my smile and asked me a few questions. I looked at his profile picture and he had a warm smile, which I found very attractive.

After sending a few messages back and forth, he suggested we speak on the phone and shared his number. My heart was pounding. This was definitely getting scary. I took a deep breath and sent him a text that evening.

my-path

These paragraphs were notes that I wrote when I was coping with dry eyes. I believe that “being open” has led me to wonderful places on my life’s journey.

These paragraphs were notes that I wrote when I was coping with dry eyes. I believe that “being open” has led me to wonderful places on my life’s journey.

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AS YOU TRAVEL

This recent picture was taken at the 80th birthday party for my high school choir teacher a few weeks ago.

This recent picture was taken at the 80th birthday party for my high school choir teacher a few weeks ago. The blouse has a hole that is named “a cold shoulder.” This story also carries another example of that!

Below is an audio recording of a new arrangement for my song “Someone to Love You”

Someone To Love You 2/19/17 Copyright 2017 by Unger

Last week, I received a notice from WordPress to congratulate me on my seventh anniversary blogging. It was shocking to me. Has it really been seven years? Perhaps it was a lifetime ago when I began to pour out my heart on this blog.

7-year-wordpress-anniv

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt ready to open my heart again. There are a few reasons. While working with my naturopathic doctor, I willingly embarked upon a detox/cleanse that lasted six weeks. It was very tough and I finished it last week. I’m slowly getting my energy back.

Devoting myself to getting healthy has been my focus – especially since my dry eye condition has improved. I’ve emptied myself of toxins and I believe in some ways, I’ve emptied myself of the stress and sadness, which ruled my life for almost two decades.

I’m peaceful, but to be honest – the word “blah” comes to mind. I think being blah is okay, especially after living through the many traumatic things I’ve experienced. But I expect more from life. And that leads me to a very different topic that I’m going to start writing about.

 This is a perfect opportunity for me to share a baby picture.

This is a perfect opportunity for me to share a baby picture.

“As You Travel” is a line is from my song “Someone to Love You.” My musical life is deeply intertwined with everything I go through.

I wrote my song for my children. But the twist is that I hear my lyrics being spoken to me!

I’m actually willing to accept the possibility of falling in love again.

as-you-travel

So instead of writing about grief, loss, healing or songwriting – get ready – I’m going to throw out some humorous experiences as I tiptoe into the online dating world!

I’ll start with what triggered my willingness to supplant terror and sign up on an online dating site.

“As you travel to places you’ve never been . . . “

During my trip to Costa Rica, it was fun to taste new fruits. This one is named litchi. I found out later that it’s not actually from that country.

During my trip to Costa Rica, it was fun to taste new fruits. This one is named lychee. I found out later that it’s not actually from that country.

I was in Costa Rica with an old friend whom I actually hadn’t seen in 26 years. My willingness to take an adventure to another country with someone I hadn’t spent time with in decades was courageous and possibly foolish.

I have already written stories about my trip. I shared details of my physical adventures, which were fun and exciting.

I struggled being with my friend. I was confused and unable to share any of it. Now that four months have gone by, I am ready to write about my feelings.

Triggers, triggers, triggers. For me, triggers are land mines – they are situations where feelings erupt far bigger than what is currently happening. Those emotions are rooted in familiar past experiences.

Halfway through my trip, I was triggered.

My friend’s mood abruptly changed and she was clearly upset about something. I didn’t want to think she was upset with me, but I wasn’t sure. I sweetly asked her if she was okay. Without making eye contact, she said she was fine. She would respond to any of my attempts at conversation with one-word answers. I began analyzing every past interaction over the past two days where I might have done something that irritated her.

After a few hours, I worked up my courage and asked, “Did I do something to upset you?”

She replied that she was preoccupied thinking about her job back home. I wanted to accept that, even though the warmth I felt from her at the beginning of our trip was gone. I decided to be a good friend and give her space.

Once her freeze-out started, the remainder of our trip became awkward. Mealtimes were very strange. She wouldn’t respond to anything I said so I stopped engaging her. I watched people talking at the other tables as we ate in silence. I ate my food, excused myself after and then walked back to our room. For the rest of the trip, we never really connected again.

On our excursions, she chatted with other travelers and I did, too. I enjoyed my conversations with a few lovely couples. I found myself thinking, “I deserve to be with someone who talks to me – someone whom I enjoy being with.” One man lavished a lot of attention upon his wife. They both enjoyed telling me anecdotes about exotic trips they had gone on.

All of this triggered me back to how I felt when I was married.

The lack of intimacy, of holding feelings inside, of feeling lonely while being in the same hotel room was all too familiar. Inside my head I was crying, while on the outside I continued to smile.

Even if I had done something that upset my friend – it was unintentional. I was more than willing to apologize, but what could I do if she wouldn’t talk to me?

I suppressed my simmering frustration and tried to make the best of it. My trip was still a wonderful experience and I didn’t want this to dampen it. I saw a beautiful country and had adventures I’d never forget.

After I came home, I wrote a few friendly messages to my friend. She did not reply. If I had any doubt that she was done with me that put it to rest.

I decided to write her a letter expressing how she had hurt me, but then I tore it up. There seemed to be no point in sending it. She wouldn’t reply and probably didn’t care about my feelings anyway.

A month after this trip, I surprised myself. Perhaps the best thing that came from my disappointment was new insight.

I deserved companionship. My willingness to be open to it was huge for me. It was time for me to find the courage to begin a new adventure.

I went to an online dating site and created a profile.

Was I really ready?

my-child-i-have-a-wish

Below is a performance of one of my favorite original songs “How We Don’t Care.” It allowed me to sing my feelings in such a beautiful way not long after my trip.

 

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AMAZED AT WHERE I AM TODAY – PART 2

Working with a Naturopathic doctor has really paid off for me. These are only half of the supplements I take every day. I’m in “treatment” and won’t have to do this long term.

Working with a Naturopathic doctor has really paid off for me. These are only half of the supplements I take every day. I’m in “treatment” and won’t have to do this long term.

My post title is a lyric line from my song “In The Past.” At the end, I’m going to share a recent performance of this song that I’m very proud of.

Since it’s a new year, I’d like to take one last look back at 2016. My vocal coach, Hannah Anders asked me what my accomplishments were last year. I didn’t realize how much progress I made. During our lesson, we also came up with new goals for me in 2017.

There were two things I forgot to mention to Hannah:

I created 29 illustrations and I released five music CD’s!

I look back

This was one of my favorite illustrations from 2016. I added the sky (so I could make a print for my sister-in-law). Originally, the illustration had a white background and was used for a Tillamook yogurt label.

This was one of my favorite illustrations from 2016. I added the sky (so I could make a print for my sister-in-law). Originally, the illustration had a white background and was used for a Tillamook yogurt label.

This is how my illustration will be used. No sky was needed.

This was a mock-up of how my art was to be used on the label.

Below is a recording and transcription from my voice lesson last week. Click the link below to hear audio:

Lesson with Hannah 1-7-16 Blog Excerpt

HANNAH: We’re going to start with, what you feel were your best accomplishments in 2016. And this can be obviously singing, music, personal goals, personal accomplishments, and professional accomplishments – so this can be anything.

JUDY: Well, music comes to my mind because that’s why I come here. So I’ll go to that accomplishment. I guess I was just thinking of this recent performance. Reliability. When I came to you, I had this nervous feeling that I couldn’t rely on my voice. I didn’t know if I’d have a good performance or not. I mean I still have a little picky pitch issue here and there.

HANNAH: That’s okay.

JUDY: But what a difference! I think 90% of my performances now I’m putting on YouTube.

HANNAH: That’s so awesome.

JUDY: I could make less guitar mistakes, but that’s just practice.

HANNAH: That’s being human!

This picture of Hannah and I is from last summer.

This picture of Hannah and I is from last summer.

JUDY: I was just thinking about my journey. I was thinking about how it leads you to places you’d never imagine. I suffered with my dry eyes for four years. And I came to you – it was just a stroke of luck that I was calling around trying to find another recording studio. And because of you, I found Dr. Wang.

And it was because of Dr. Wang that I did the coconut oil and my eyes got better. Is that not a life-changing moment?

HANNAH: It’s huge!

JUDY: It’s so huge. I was just thinking today that I haven’t had the writing bug and I’m just getting a flash about what I could write about. Healing. Healing is not objective – it’s really subjective and I’ve decided that I’m healed. Doctors told me, “It’s incurable and people never get better.” That’s what I’ve heard. If I want to, I can feel that I have dry eyes some days – I do. But I don’t go to that place. I go to the place that I’ve healed from the suffering and I have a life back. Same thing with grief.

HANNAH: That’s huge. When you started your eyes were one of the reasons we had short lessons, one of the reasons you were afraid about seminar. You asked, “Is it okay if I need to step out?”

JUDY: I was in too much pain to be with people.

HANNAH: And look at you. You’re a different person.

JUDY: I know.

HANNAH: That’s awesome. All right, what else?

JUDY: Well, you know I got my health back. I lost weight. It was really hard to get my mind in gear. That was the hardest part. Doing it wasn’t as hard as getting there.

HANNAH: That’s the truth. Once you’re in the zone it’s easy.

JUDY: It’s getting the key to let yourself out of the prison.

HANNAH: That’s right.

JUDY: And the key is really the mindset; love is the mindset. And courage. I went to find myself a new arranger. That wasn’t easy for me – even on-line dating.

HANNAH: I know!

JUDY: Which hasn’t let to anything yet. It’s funny.

HANNAH: But it will. Arranger – I’m going to write that down. You took a vacation.

JUDY: Oh yeah, that took courage. There we go again. Everything is tied together.

HANNAH: Absolutely.

JUDY: Healing allowed me to feel better, to have the courage and then to act on it.

HANNAH: You went on vacation and stayed on your diet.

JUDY: Yes!

HANNAH: They featured you on that dry eye video.

“Turning Point” DRY EYE VIDEO – Judy Unger

JUDY: Yes! This is really funny. The name of it was “Turning Point.” And wasn’t it a turning point? I said to them, “Are you sure you want me? Because I’m not healed.”

And then, of course, at the very end of the video I say, “I think good things are ahead for me.”

HANNAH: That’s right!

JUDY: And my audio book possibility.

HANNAH: It was a good year. You got a lot done last year.

JUDY: I sure did. I didn’t realize it until you had me recite everything.

HANNAH: That’s why we do that.

JUDY: I love it!

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AMAZED AT WHERE I AM TODAY – PART 1

enjoying-performing-3I’m going to write a very personal story. (I hope my son will forgive me for sharing it.)

So many times, I’ve said this line: “I’m not a singer! I’m a songwriter.” I know that really isn’t true because I put a lot of energy into singing. I go to a vocal coach every week and perform regularly at open mics.

I didn’t sing for decades and once I rediscovered my love for music, it changed my life.

When I sing, I feel alive.

Music transports me somewhere else and my heart sings along with every word that falls out of my mouth.

These are lyrics from my song “My Dream.” I believe my message is one of joy, even when I sing songs that carry sadness.

These are lyrics from my song “My Dream.” I believe my message is one of joy, even when I sing songs that carry sadness.

Early last year, I developed a persistent cough that affected my singing. Until that happened, I really took my ability to sing for granted.

My cough was due to acid reflux and a doctor told me that losing weight might resolve my problem. After that, I committed myself to a weight loss program and have dropped 30 pounds already. Thankfully, my cough disappeared and my voice came back to me!

I share a close up of one of my paintings, Dessert Medley. I’m not eating these desserts now.

I share a close up of one of my paintings, Dessert Medley. I’m not eating these desserts now.

No chips or tacos, either.

No chips or tacos, either.

But I am into fruit again.

But I am into fruit again!

My first-born son, Jason died at the age of five. I shared music with him and grief swallowed me.

I have three other children and they are all adults now. When they were growing up, I forced myself to sing to them despite my grief.

But my oldest son did not like it. If I sang to him, he would actually cry and shriek. His tiny hand would reach out to cover my mouth.

My two other children did appreciate music and have beautiful voices. While in her teens, my daughter wrote original songs and shared her recordings on YouTube. She’s very talented, but lost interest in music several years ago.

One day, I told her I hoped she would sing again. It was a shame because she had such a terrific voice. I regretted saying anything because she snapped at me. With annoyance she said, “Let go of it, mom. It’s not happening unless I want it to.”

How could I not understand? When I was 23 (her age), I stopped playing my guitar. It wasn’t until I was 50 that I played again.

enjoying-performing-2

As much as I love to sing, I feel uncomfortable singing in my apartment when my sons are there. My sons like to sleep late on their days off. I don’t want to disturb them with my singing. But I admit that there are times when it’s very frustrating for me.

My oldest son has had issues with noise his whole life. At his own Bar Mitzvah, he couldn’t handle the music and went outside to escape.

One time, he gently said to me, “Mom is it possible you could sing while I’m at work? I can’t concentrate when you’re singing – I’m just waiting until you finish.” It was difficult for him to say that but my 26-year-old had been working long hours and treasured his downtime.

After that, I tried to work around his schedule. If I worked on my music, I wore headphones and sang softly so as not to disturb him.

fingerpicking-filtered-2

I’m going to describe something that happened last night, which surprised me so much that it’s hard for me to contain my emotions.

My son has a two-hour commute every day to his job. Sometimes he rests or reads in his car until the traffic is lighter. “Being in my car is nice because I like the peace and quiet,” he once told me. I hoped he didn’t avoid coming home because my music and singing bothered him.

Last night, he came home a little after 8:00 p.m. He walked into the kitchen where I was cooking and smiled at me. My oldest son, who never liked music, told me he had a confession to make.

He said, “Mom, I’ve discovered singing. I’ve been practicing in my car.”

To say I was surprised would be an understatement.

I grinned and said, “Wow! Honey, that’s fantastic. Singing is such a great release – you know how much I love to sing!”

“Would you like to hear me? Can I sing for you?” he stammered.

“Of course!” I said, trying to mask my shock.

“I’m not even sure how my voice sounds. I’m pretty nervous about this, but I think I can do it,” he said.

“Where do you want to sing?” I asked.

He replied, “How about in your bedroom?”

My bedroom view

We entered my bedroom. I sat down near my bed and he stood across the room.

“My heart is pounding – I’m so nervous! Do you see I’m sweating?” he said.

I reassured him and then I closed my eyes. I hoped he’d be less nervous if I wasn’t looking at him.

He chose the song “Hallelujah.”

It was quiet and he tentatively began to sing. I had to concentrate in order to hear his soft baritone notes. But as he went along, he sang more freely. His voice was so soothing and sweet, caressing my heart and soul.

I never imagined this would happen, that my son who disliked noise and music would want to sing to me someday.

He paused and asked me how he sounded. I effusively told him what a wonderful voice he had.

“Would it be okay for me to sing a little more?” I beamed and enthusiastically nodded yes.

When he was finished, I stood up and gave him a huge hug.

It just wasn’t possible that I could love him any more than I did at that moment.

In this picture, Jason is holding his brother. Jason died five months after this picture was taken.

In this picture, Jason is holding his brother. Jason died five months after this picture was taken.

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YOU’RE NOT THERE

This post is named “You’re Not There” because I am sharing a very touching music video created by the very talented Lukas Forchhammer. His manager sent this to me and I wondered if perhaps it was because I have a similar song named “You Were There.”

Last week I read in the newspaper that his group, Lukas Graham, received three Grammy nominations. How fantastic!

Aside from being very touching musically and lyrically, I appreciated the use of Photoshop where the Lukas’s father fades in every picture. That is quite difficult to do because it requires recreating the background in a convincing way. It’s actually quite amazing to watch this video.

It’s so interesting how our song titles are the opposite and yet carry the same message.

My song celebrates my mother’s presence in my life as I mourn her absence. Lukas’s song does that also, but his father wasn’t very old when he passed away. Since my mother lived to be 88, Lukas had many more years of absence to face.

I am very lucky to have had my mom that many years, but watching her decline was tough. I hated to see her suffering and I have friends with elderly parents going through similar scenarios.

Recently, I made a new acoustic recording of my song, so I am sharing it with my own video, as well.“

“You’re Not There” is actually a good description of how I’ve been feeling lately toward my blog. I just I haven’t felt much like writing new posts. I plan to write again soon because I have a lot of exciting things to share.

Thankfully, I’m in a good place; I’m extremely peaceful and relaxed. Writing was an emotional outlet for me and I released so much over the last 7 years. I’d like to see it as emptying my heart of sadness so I could be filled with contentment.

Only this past week, I actually started up writing again. Feeling peaceful was an interesting place to be as I revisited my audiobook. I am submitting my final draft to be professionally recorded by a wonderful actress/speaker/reader. I met Susan and when I received her test sample my heart was very moved. She read my words with such feeling and connection; I cried as I listened.

My book will be published on Audible in early 2017. Saying I’m excited about it is an understatement. I’ve refined my book over the last seven years and I’m close to the finish line now!

JASON MARK – PART 1 Audio book test sample by Susan

© 2016 by Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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MEMORY OF LOVE – PART 3

Click the blue link to hear my song:

Memory of Love Acoustic – Copyright 2016 by Judy Unger

Link to other stories about this song:

MEMORY OF LOVE-PART 1

MEMORY OF LOVE-PART 2

For some reason, purple roses fit well as my image to describe my memories of love. I cannot explain it.

For some reason, purple roses fit well as my image to describe my memories of love. I cannot explain it.

It has already been over a month since I returned from my thrilling vacation to Costa Rica.

I’ve missed writing, but I’ve had some “writer’s block” lately. So much of my energy has been directed towards getting healthy as I continue to lose weight on a strict diet program. This past week, I reached the milestone of 25 pounds. I’m also taking a lot of supplements through my naturopathic doctor, and that regimen (literally) has been a lot for me to swallow.

Since my trip, I’ve decided to carry that same spirit of adventure with me at home. I started out by doing something I never expected; I signed up on an Internet dating site. So far, all I’ve done is read profiles with curiosity. It feels very strange, but I like the idea that I am open to possibilities.

This past Thanksgiving was a perfect time for me to celebrate how much healthier I am. My nagging cough (related to gastric reflux) finally disappeared so I can sing freely again. Most of all, my dry eye condition has improved to where it no longer rules my life. I cry tears of joy for this miracle.

My music continues to give me great pleasure. Every other week, I perform two of my original songs at Kulak Woodshed’s “Twofer Night.” I usually pick ones that I’ve recently recorded for my acoustic albums. I’m still working with my wonderful vocal coach, Hannah. Her support kept me uplifted and excited about singing even when I had my cough.

Unfortunately, living with my two adult sons has affected my ability to record and sing at home. I am seldom alone in our small apartment and when either one is home I feel very inhibited to sing. This has been an ongoing struggle for me.

This is a montage of photos I put together to help me design my cover for “Memory of Love.”

This is a montage of photos I put together to help me design my cover for “Memory of Love.”

Last week, I had lunch with my mother’s former companion, Miriam. It was so comforting to be with her; our connection is very special. Miriam really understood what I went through as my mother declined with dementia.

I confessed to Miriam that I felt guilty because I forgot to light my mother’s memorial (Yartzeit) candle this year. My mother was very observant with this custom and I had promised myself I’d do this very thing for her. But somehow the date (which is different every year) wasn’t marked down on my calendar, and quietly went by.

miriam-shirley-judy

The feelings brought up by this were familiar ones. I was never religious the way my mother wanted me to be and I felt badly that I disappointed her. The fact that she was gone didn’t change that.

Miriam held my hands and looked into my teary eyes and told me, “Judy, you were there for your mom while she was alive. Everyone at the nursing home was amazed by your love and devotion. Did you know they still remember you and always ask me how you are doing?”

Her words helped me smile through my tears.

I chose to find a different way to look at this to feel better. Instead of lighting a candle, I memorialized my mother with songs. It was just as valid.

And coincidently “Memory of Love” was a song I had been working on that same week. I decided it would be the title of the next acoustic album I’d release, so I began designing an album cover for it.

Composing music is a spiritual experience for me. I crave it, but cannot force it to happen. In addition to the lack of quiet space and time, I believe my diet regimen and low energy has made it hard for me to feel creative.

My last composition, which I named “My Healing Song,” remains unfinished. I just haven’t found any lyrics in my heart to write down. I’ve wondered if perhaps the purpose of my beautiful instrumental was to heal me and words weren’t needed.

Even without writing a new song, I’ve enjoyed relearning my older songs as I continue to record my entire music library. I have over 50 songs compositions and I’m very determined to have an acoustic version of every single one.

What I love most about my music, are the connections it has brought me to other people.

My friend, Joni, took this picture after our sunrise hike a few weeks ago. I was exhausted!

My friend, Joni, took this picture after our sunrise hike a few weeks ago. I was exhausted!

Sometimes, inspiration comes to me when I least expect it. I have hardly promoted my music despite having many CD’s available for sale.

When a meditation app called “Insight Timer” asked me a few months ago if I would be interested in sharing my meditation album on their site, I agreed. I wouldn’t receive money, but I’d get credit and a link back to my blog and music. I considered it to be free advertising.

My meditation album (named “Set You Free”) can be heard on the right side of this blog. That album contains the last music I created with my former arranger, George. It has been over a year since I’ve seen him and I am still working through my sadness about that musical chapter of my life ending.

When I listen to those beautiful meditation songs, I get pangs remembering the struggles I had working with George; he did not like creating them with me at all.

set-you-free-front-cover-cd-baby

But then something beautiful happened and I found the fuel I needed to change my thinking.

One day, I went to the “Insight Timer” site to see if my album had been listened to.

Not only had thousands of people listened to my songs, there were hundreds of sweet comments for me to read. I replied to every single one.

I had connected with the hearts of people all over the world! The comments for my meditation song “Memory of Love” especially left me teary as I read them. What touched me most was the fact that my music was completely instrumental. Even without lyrics my song’s message was felt.

I share a sampling of comments at the end of this post.

kulaks-snap-md

I want to mention again how I’ve decided to carry a sense of adventure since returning from my vacation in Costa Rica. Thoughts lead to how I feel and can change everything.

Instead of mourning that I’ll never have another meditation album like “Set You Free” again, I began looking for a new arranger.

I’ve already found someone. He is very accomplished and so far has been easy to work with. Our session this past week was wonderful and I look forward to sharing more about it soon. 

Seeing life as an adventure has definitely made life more exciting for me!

it-comments-page-1 it-comments-page-2 it-comments-page-3 it-comments-page-4 it-comments-page-5 it-comments-page-6 it-comments-page-7 with-my-mom-at-the-nursing-home

© 2016 by Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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MY ADVENTURE IN COSTA RICA – PART 2

For this second story about my vacation to Costa Rica, my pictures only slightly capture the wild excitement I experienced!

Dive Picture 3

I am not a seasoned traveler, by any means. In the past, I usually traveled with my parents, husband and children.

Therefore, going to a different country as a single woman was huge for me. The most beautiful part of my adventure was the fact that my eyes were not bothering me at all.

Ever since my divorce, I avoided traveling because I was very vulnerable with my dry eye condition. But suddenly, the constant eye pain that defined my life for four years faded away. It all seemed to coincide with my newest instrumental song composition, which I actually named: “My Healing Song.”

On this trip, I made wonderful new memories. My water adventures were especially fun. River rafting and scuba diving were things that I had done with my ex-husband. I proved to myself that I was able to still enjoy these things on my own.

I wondered how I would I maintain my commitment to losing weight while staying at a resort with all-inclusive food. My wonder simply became determination and I ate exactly the things allowed on my diet program. I enjoyed everything I ate; the vegetables, salad, fruit and meat were delicious. I came home and discovered I had lost weight – a first for me while on vacation!

raft-1

On the fourth day of my trip, Lupe and I went river rafting in the warm jungle waters of the Guanacaste Province. I was a little concerned for Lupe because she was not a swimmer. Even with a life jacket on, I thought it might be traumatic for her if she fell out of the raft.

As our group hiked down to the rushing river, I felt slightly nervous. When the rafts were lowered down, one woman was so afraid that she chose to go back and skip the ride. Her husband turned around to join her. “That was a smart move,” his friends told him.

There were four rafts in our group. Our raft never flipped over during the trip, but the other three rafts did. One young couple requested it because they wanted to go swimming

From the moment our raft started bounced down the first group of rapids, I was exhilarated. In between moments of spray and splashing, there were smooth areas of gently flowing water. It was warm and breezy and the surrounding jungle was absolutely gorgeous. I had to scrunch down at times so as not to hit my head on a branch.

I marveled at how I could see every detail around me. I was wearing my new soft contact lenses and felt just the way I used to feel before I had cataract surgery. It was heaven!

raft-picture-0

Our guide liked to make a loud cracking noise by hitting his paddle hard against the water. When Lupe and I jumped, he laughed. But when he splashed us as a joke, I reacted with annoyance. My eyes were burning after water hit them because I wasn’t expecting it.

But after I complained, he even warned the other guides not to splash our raft in fun. He pointed to me and said something about my eyes in Spanish.

Here we are approaching a big drop. I had no idea what I was in for because the other rapids weren’t that rough.

Here we are approaching a big drop. I had no idea what I was in for because the other rapids weren’t that rough.

Our raft trip lasted about two hours and at the very end there was a waterfall, which was considered a Class 4 rapid. We had the choice to get off before it if we wanted to.

With a grin I said to Lupe, “Let’s do it!”

raft-3

I gripped the raft with one hand and held onto my paddle with the other as the raft began to fall forward. I sure wish I had an extra arm that could have held my nose closed. The rushing water roared over us and it felt like a hose was shooting water into my nose and out my ears! Luckily my mouth and eyes stayed closed.

raft-4

I was amazed that our raft didn’t turn over!

I was amazed that our raft didn’t turn over!

raft-6a raft-7

I experienced a terrible headache from the water up my nose. It lasted about five minutes and thankfully went away.

raft-9

I didn’t regret doing that last rapid once my headache passed. It was great seeing those photos and marveling at the bravery Lupe and I had!

I painted this watercolor a long time ago.

I painted this watercolor a long time ago.

Scuba diving was also on my list of activities to try. I made sure that I brought with me my old certification card from 1980. The last time I had gone scuba diving was about 12 years ago.
scuba-card

It was wise for me to pay a little extra for a “refresher course.” A wonderful young man met me at the hotel swimming pool one hour before my scheduled dive.

He patiently explained how to hook up the tank and regulator. We went over all the hand signals that my guide and I would use to communicate under water. I struggled strapping on my buoyancy compensator vest while floating in the pool. The heavy weight belt had me sinking under water and gasping for air. It was so exhausting that I hoped I’d be up to the big dive an hour later.

Fortunately, the young man had a huge smile and was very patient with me. I repeated all the things he had explained to me. I did forget to do the “smell test.” I laughed because it was a smart thing to do – to sniff the air from the tank before breathing it in.

And I do have to mention there was one fear I had to overcome. A long time ago, I had gone scuba diving where I was seasick the whole time. It was a terrible experience.

I was confident I’d be okay because earlier that week. Lupe and I had gone on a Catamaran for sunset tour. The water was very choppy, but I enjoyed the ocean wind and felt fine. I was elated that I hadn’t gotten seasick then and really felt like a new person!

After the lesson, I decided to skip lunch before the dive. I wasn’t going to take any chances. I snacked instead on an energy bar I had brought from home.

My dive was scheduled for 2 p.m. I arrived a few minutes early and waited along with another young couple. They were friendly and it turned out they were from California, too.

It turned out that I was the only scuba diver that day. The other couple would be doing SNUBA; they would be breathing from a hose connected to a tank above in 30 feet of water. I noticed they had a waterproof camera and I asked them if they wouldn’t mind taking a few pictures of me. They were so nice and I was thrilled.

The location for the dive was on a volcanic reef that was only ten minutes away by boat. I climbed onto a small motorboat on the beach and soon climbed aboard a larger boat. It roared through the water at high speed and we were on our way.

Suddenly, my sun visor flew off into the ocean. I was very touched and couldn’t believe that the captain turned the boat around to get it. My handsome diving teacher jumped into the water and handed it back to me a moment later.

The boat lurched to a stop. It was time for me to put on my gear. I opted not to use a wetsuit because the water wasn’t cold at all.

I sat down on a bench and attached the three snaps on my vest; the tank and regulator were already attached. I was glad about that since I’d already forgotten my lesson by now. There was only one problem. I couldn’t stand up!

I was laughing when the captain and dive instructor lifted me up from my armpits. The boat was rocking as I moved slowly with my big flippers slapping the slippery deck. I looked out at the water several feet below. Now all I had to do was take a “big step” while holding onto my mask. I closed my eyes and held my breath.

I hit the water and was relieved to be floating on the chopping surface. It helped having my guide right there next to me. He told me to let the air out of my vest and hold onto the anchor rope as I went down.

dive picture 1

My breathing was bubbly and noisy and I practiced clearing my mask. I was glad my eyes were okay and my contact lenses were unaffected.

Dive picture 2

As I descended, my ears hurt from the pressure. I squeezed my nostrils together and blew hard until I heard strange popping noises. I kept popping my ears until I was 50 feet down on the ocean floor.

I was in a fish tank! Schools of metallic fish were moving all around me. Because this area was a volcanic reef, the clarity was much better than other areas with silt from the rain run-off.

dive picture 4

I hardly had to kick and swim. I moved with the current and my guide pointed out things to me. A few enormous rays sailed by effortlessly. I saw a few menacing eels slithering through the rocks and an occasional puffer fish.

The time flew by and then the guide told me it was time to go back. I was surprised because I had plenty of air left. But it was fine because I had gotten a few leg cramps; I was tired.

Amazingly, the same anchor rope appeared in front of me. I tried to go up slowly, but in a few seconds I was on the surface again with waves tossing me around.

It took me a few minutes to unhook my vest, but I did it. I handed the vest with the tank over to the men on the boat. I grabbed their arms and they helped to pull me up.

I noticed my knee was bleeding from a small cut; I must have gotten too close to some coral. But other than that I was fine.

I collapsed on a bench and took deep breaths. I was very inspired and so proud of myself for doing this!

Dive Picture 5

On our last day, Lupe and I went to an interesting adventure park that had a beautiful waterfall and choices of activities. The main attraction was African animals that we could feed carrots to from a bus.

holding-carrots

It was very cool to feed the giraffes and zebras. I knew they weren’t indigenous to this country, but it was a wonderful opportunity to see them up close. I learned a lot about these exotic animals during this tour.

feeding-a-giraffe judy-feeding-a-zebra

After the safari tour, I chose hiking as my second activity and Lupe chose zip-lining. I was surprised that I was the only one that chose hiking in our group, so I ended up having my own personal tour guide. His name was Juan and it was fascinating to learn about the jungle from him.

fungus-group fungus-group-2

From the beginning of my jungle walk, I was entranced by the amazing varieties of fungus in the rainforest. I took many pictures of them while Juan listened carefully for noises. I had hoped to see an animal, bird or reptile up close. Even though I didn’t see anything big, I enjoyed looking at small details. We examined an amber-colored ant that was bigger than any ant I’d ever seen.

Juan pointed out a “thorny tree” for me.

Juan pointed out a “thorny tree” for me.

Juan helped me take a short video of a particular fern that actually moved its leaves when touched!

There was a type of fruit that Juan called “monkey fruit” because the monkeys loved to eat it. He was excited when he found some on a tree that was untouched. He pulled off a clump and broke the fruit open so I could taste it.

He asked me what it tasted like, and I couldn’t really describe it well – it was very unique. My closest description was sweet and spongy, perhaps a little like citrus mixed with a pear.

monkey-fruit-tasting

I was very glad Juan was my guide. I learned so much that day!

hotel-sunset-2

On my last evening, I took a picture of the sunset overlooking the hotel. I loved the “pink clouds in the sky” and had recently sung those song lyrics before my trip.

I had mixed feelings about my wonderful trip coming to an end. I wasn’t looking forward to the long bus ride back to the airport in San Jose at 3 a.m. Or the two flights to get to Los Angeles. But during those hours in transit, I was able to reflect on all my wonderful experiences in Costa Rica. I felt peaceful and looked forward to coming home and seeing my children.

At night, I find myself dreaming of jungles and warm beaches . . .

waterfall-background

Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2016. 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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