Link to Song Page with more about my song  RETREAT

“Escaping into solitude”

I believe this entire year was an escape into solitude for me. As soon as my mother was released from the hospital approximately one year ago, I embarked on an odyssey of self-discovery. Devoting myself to the therapy of writing and music has paid off for me with huge dividends; certainly none of it financial!

When I think about whether I can financially continue with this “luxury” of rediscovering myself, I get very anxious. The pressure causes me intense sadness, as I’ve loved every minute of my life this past year.

That was all despite the fact that during that time, I still had challenges with my daughter’s situation, my parents, as well as school district issues for my younger son.

I engage in a lot of “self talk” and positive thinking to help me deal with the pressure that sometimes overwhelms me. My creative expression continues to explode within me, and I am unable to consider stopping myself from singing, composing, or writing.

My original songsheet, which is different from what I recorded. I did use a lot of the chords and lyrics that are on it.

I almost killed our dog last night; I turned on the light and had to take this picture. He was peeking out from under one of my pillows. Sometimes I just “crash” into my bed in the dark. It wouldn’t have been good!

“And then you’d appear”

Over this past month, I worked on composing two songs simultaneously. Despite the on-going crisis with my mother, the need to create songs was definitely within me.

I began with Retreat, and let the song slowly unfold and improve. I remembered the chorus melody, and allowed for a new melody and chord progression for the verses. I eliminated many extra words, as I could not remember how I used to sing the verses.

When my other song, You Were There, enraptured me with it’s beauty, I went ahead and put Retreat aside.

I began recording Retreat a week ago and I was completely open to making it sound a little more contemporary. I was curious whether George would prefer my original lyric line or my more “inspirational” lyric change. Originally I had sung, “At those times I’d wish you were there, but you never were.” I had changed it to: “At those times I’d wish you were there, and then you’d appear.”

Peaches liked my original lyric line. Because I wasn’t sure who was actually appearing for me, I was tempted to go back to it. George chose my newer, more upbeat line.

Today when George and I finished the song, I had a cold. I closed my eyes and was transported as he added numerous instruments. This song ended up with the most complex of all my arrangements; I loved every part of the process!

I have wondered if this song would be my last recording of my “youthful songs.” Was there any significance to that for me?

The puzzle of who was appearing to me as I sang “Retreat” was interesting. I have stated before that although I am a very spiritual person, I consider myself an agnostic.

I was very moved to hear that Sara, the 98-year-old woman who lived across the hall from my mother, considered herself one. Obviously she had lived a long life and had not changed her opinion. I found that very helpful for me.

I decided that like many of my songs, there was a prophetic feeling within that lyric line of “and then you’d appear.” I decided that Retreat was recorded after You Were There for a reason.

It would be my mother who would appear, and this would be later on in my life once she was physically gone.

For certain, reaching the end of my youthful, song compositions has been very poignant. I have been studying the four, remaining song sheets that I still have, but I am not sure if the chords or lyrics are worth “reinventing” and recording.

I do have two, classical compositions entitled “Rainfall” and “Waterfalls.” Remembering the fingerings and chords have stymied me, although I know I could replicate those pieces with hard work. Certainly, I become very motivated to painstakingly rediscover them when I imagine how nice they would sound with one of George’s arrangements!

There has been a “lull” in my mother’s situation. I am very ambitious now with improving my singing and beginning to craft a book from this blog.

I have begun working on an outline for this book. It would be based on the rediscovery of my songs. Many stories from my blog would be a part of my book, and I would exclude most everything about my living children.

I’m sure I’ll continue updating the blog whenever I feel the urge, although it’s hard for me to know. There are only so many hours in the day, and I am already utilizing as many as I physically can!

My compensation for singing and playing an hour at Border’s is any drink I desire. I always bring home a chocolate smoothie for my kids. (However, I indulge in a sip or two!)



Above, are “voice lesson clips” with my vocal coach, Peaches Chrenko. On the first clip, Peaches helped me with my phrasing on my song Retreat. In the beginning, I had hyperventilated after one of our exercises. When that happens, she has me put my hands up in the air to prevent me from passing out! On the second clip, I was able to share with her my pleasure of having a connection with my audience at Border’s this past Sunday. That has been a rare occurrence for me.

The last clip is where Peaches and I worked on vocals that I will soon be recording with my childhood friend, Steve. A lot of the current songs on the music page of my blog may soon be replaced! I also have included more “youthful” pictures of myself, especially a few that remind me of my song, Retreat.


Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger


retreat is where I go

when I am sad

all my tears let me know

I long for you and miss you so

retreat is my escape from the world

I withdraw, and suddenly

I feel you surround me

at those times

I’d wish you were near

and then you’d appear

but you were only in my mind

only in my mind

you were only in my mind


retreat is when a song soothes my soul

a melody fills my heart

reminding me we’re not apart

retreat is where I find peacefulness

my music has begun

to be my true companion

at those times

I’d wish you were near

and then you’d appear

but you were only in my mind

only in my mind

you were only in my mind

only in my mind

A favorite picture of myself when I was young.

© Judy Unger and 2011. 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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