SOMEHOW I’M STILL PLAYING

Peaches Chrenko when I saw her for my lesson yesterday. I told her, “I need pictures for my blog! My kids won’t let me share any!” 

“The beautiful seeds in my musical garden”

Yesterday when I went to my voice lesson, I couldn’t sing.

The world felt heavy upon me. Even when I smiled, I could feel the squeezing pain of stress.

I had so little enthusiasm for singing that I didn’t even bring my digital recorder along to share clips on the blog. Peaches gave me a hug; I needed it. Over her years of teaching she told me she had many lessons filled with tears. She told me sometimes that was just what a singing lesson was about.

I was glad Peaches understood how I felt. I tried not to get emotional when I shared with her how rejected I felt to receive an email message from the manager of Simi Valley Border’s over the weekend. The message read:

“I wanted to thank you for your Friday night music but as of today I’m going to cancel your performances here until further notice. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call me.”

Ironically, this past weekend I wasn’t feeling that venue was a good one for me. On Friday night, I waited awhile for someone to open up the storeroom, and then I had to carry out the speakers and amplifier by myself. My other Borders location always had the equipment set up for me.

I was courageous. I decided to call the manager and face what she had to say.

The manager told me that customers complained my music made it hard for them to talk or read. Our conversation was cordial and the door was left open for future performances. We both decided a break would be a good thing, and after I got off the phone I felt better.

Most of my stress related to the current situation with my parents.

My mother’s cardiology appointment was postponed until next week. However, no one bothered to tell me until the morning of the appointment! My mother suffered the most with her anxiety about it. I have decided not to tell her about any future appointments.

This past weekend was quite difficult. My mom became very agitated when I arranged for her to meet a second, possible caregiver. Her unhappiness toward my father, the whole situation, and myself was quite painful for me.

She questioned my motives, which were all about trying to make things easier for her. That hurt!

Yesterday when I took her out to dinner she said, “You know your father signed a paper allowing me to die!” I was unable to convince her otherwise that it simply wasn’t true.

I spoke up to her and said I didn’t want to hear her saying any more statements about my father and her perception that he was cruel to her. My father visits her practically every day of the week to “put her to bed.” He also visits her on many other occasions. He is suffering also!

A picture of my parents when they were first married.

My mom’s dementia has caused her to become angry and paranoid. At this moment, I want to punch the air because I’m so angry, too.

Where is my mother? Who stole her away from me?

I miss her and I really dislike this “other woman” who has replaced her. I feel horrible to admit that!

This morning my mom was found in the bathroom alone; she had gotten out of her wheelchair! She has started acting out in a dangerous manner by trying to walk and risking a fall.

She said to me, “There if no point to living if I cannot walk or be independent again. I plan to go back to assisted living!”

I was completely at a loss because I could not even think of a single, helpful response. Nothing at all!

I changed the subject.

Yesterday, there was the one element to my day that brought me back to life – it was music!

When I listen to my music, it travels through my heart and feels like an IV infusing comfort into my soul!

A picture of Peaches and I after only a few lessons in March.

As I discussed my music and songs with Peaches, I was revived.

I shared with her that I made the decision to pursue improving my vocals for another few months before committing to selling a CD. I played for her another, new recording of “Alabaster Seashell.” This time, my friend Steve was able to change the key. The lower key was interesting for me to try. My song could never be performed in this lower key for a live performance, because the guitar chords wouldn’t sound nearly as good if they were transposed. However, Steve was a genius with Pro-tools!

I explained to Peaches about the emptiness I have felt inside since “releasing” all my songs. However, I wasn’t completely empty. My song sheet pages from thirty years ago still had two songs that I thought might be worthy of remembering!

Both songs needed considerable work. I slowly began working on them this week. One song had a fabulous chorus. The other song consisted of three verses with haunting chords and lyrics.

I pulled out my guitar for Peaches. The sound of my arpeggiated guitar chords filled the room.

My voice wasn’t warmed up, and it wasn’t easy to sing songs that were unfinished. Hesitantly, I sang my uncertain melodies – I wasn’t too worried about being perfectly accurate with my singing.

Peaches listened. She said, “Judy, these songs are as beautiful as any of your other songs – how could you feel they might not be worthy?”

I replied, “You know, is it a flaw that I cannot let go of my youthful compositions? I have wondered why I haven’t done something completely new. I thought I was done with my old songs. I guess I just couldn’t let these two go. I hear their melodies in my heart and I am inspired to finish them!”

Peaches nodded and said softly, “When I hear your songs – I’m transported. They’re so calming, beautiful, and soothing.”

Then she added, “Judy there’s a reason for all of your songs being rediscovered. Another way to look at it is that they were seeds. They weren’t ready to be planted a long time ago, and you couldn’t grow them until they were ready. Now those seeds can blossom, because you finally planted them during this magical time in your life. It is so beautiful that you can nurture and grow them now!”

I loved her metaphor! I couldn’t have imagined a more touching way to look at my songs.

I left our lesson with my heart and soul singing. I had the knowledge that two more songs I was initially doubtful about were soon to be born.

The musical of my life will continue!

Lyric excerpt from my song “Retreat:”

Retreat – escaping into the serenity of music

It eases – the desolation and becomes my sole companion . . .

My childhood friend, Joni, commented on Post #13 THE BEAUTY REMAINS

On Tue, Dec 7, 2010, Judy wrote:

Dear Joni,

Your comment was beautiful – thanks for sharing it with me. I wondered why I didn’t really answer your question. I think you’re right – there’s no answer as to where creativity comes from. Nurturing helps, but I think it is something you’re born with. Some people can carry a tune, or draw like I did when I was very young. But it’s there.

Everyone has gifts. I’m glad you’ve come to appreciate yours. I have learned to be grateful and to enjoy my talents – the best part has been from sharing them. Having you there to watch me at Kulak’s has been indescribable. Coming to visit your home and hearing you listen to my music while cooking in your kitchen was amazing!

Love, Jude

I have to tell you Jude, that your music always brought me home.  When I felt lost and lonely and had the opportunity to listen to your music I just wanted so badly to crawl up inside your music and go to sleep.  I felt like I belonged nowhere and really felt unwanted even though that was not the message my parents wanted to send me, but that is how I felt.  Love, Joni

On Tue, Dec 7, 2010, Steve wrote:

Hi Judy,

I feel the same way about my creativity as Joni expressed.  I can make something better when the basis is there, but as for creating a song or something from a blank slate, that just isn’t there, and I don’t think it’s a matter of knowing music theory or playing an instrument. Joni wrote:

I like that, I can understand that completely.  And I agree with this too –

Steve

Hi Steve,

I feel much better. I was despondent for a bit – I had such a hard time with my mom at dinner.

Your message is so sweet – thank you!!!!!

It’s interesting, I listened to my songs today while shopping and driving around – it was soothing. I can hardly believe they’re mine. For me, the creation of them was as if they existed and came out of me. It’s kind of divine. I can’t really explain. Whenever I’ve created chord lines – the chords seem to progress by themselves. It’s like there is only one way I see them going and I hear it. Melodies are like that, too. There are lots of possibilities, but I’m always certain with what I choose to go with. It’s like my music is only waiting for me to discover it!

I used to struggle to write down musical compositions (when I knew how!). The few I did wouldn’t help me now, since I can’t read them! Recordings help me because I have the ability to “play by ear.” That’s what I used to do to figure out other guitarist’s musical “riffs.”

I “invent” almost all of my own chords for my songs. I experiment to find interesting sounds, and that’s why my “voicings” (that’s what they call guitar parts) are a little unusual.

I’m appreciating my blog more as I edit from the beginning. I’m shifting some of the photos and stories around. Black is so much more readable. Sometimes I feel discouraged about life and then I am so blessed to know that my “creations” are out there and appreciated.

I’m writing now and it’s so much more fun than editing!

I appreciate you and your friendship, Steve. it is so interesting how this amazing journey happened as a result of my mom’s illness.

Judy

During stressful times, it is always helpful to have the support of good friends. I received a nice card from my friend, Susan. It was perfect timing!

(Excerpts)

Dear Judy,

Today I finally sat down to listen to your CD and was once again astonished by your many talents. I enjoyed hearing your new songs, such as the first one that is about the alabaster seashell. I particularly enjoyed the intricate chord progression on the guitar (as I also did on your instrumental number).

You have become such a confident performer. You sound so relaxed introducing your songs at Kulak’s. I thought you did an excellent job on “More Than You Know.” You have become so proficient on the guitar. I love the chord progressions.

Your voice sounds powerful particularly on the sixth song where you sing, “I’ve had all my chances before.” All your practice is quite evident.

Even though I have heard “how hard it is Just Saying Goodbye” before, I love the very rhythmic quality of the song. It has such a catchy, upbeat musical quality to it. It is a great song and reminds me of the 70’s.

Love, Susan


© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2010. 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.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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