Just for fun, I’m sharing a picture from my wedding with my bridesmaids (For some reason, my dear friend Joni is missing.). Marge posed even though she wasn’t a bridesmaid. She was in Israel during my engagement and returned only a few days before my wedding.

Marge recently celebrated a Bat Mitzvah. I am posing with her in this picture taken several weeks ago.

“The changes that have occurred in my life”

I have suffered with deep grief and other disappointments in my life. When I began writing, I shared a great deal about that. However, I currently prefer to write about how I continue to smile despite many on-going challenges in my life.


My story, “The Music From Her Heart” is about inspiring people to know that happiness is possible despite adversity in life. When I discovered my passion for writing and music a year and a half ago, everything changed for me. The suffering that I endured for over two decades was erased and I transformed into a happy and self-satisfied person. Now my life is very meaningful for me.


Although I am not the same person I was before I suffered from grief, I have definitely healed. While I was grieving, I never believed it was possible that I would ever be happy again.


After a decade of deep grief I lived for another decade in a place called “Zombieland”. That word describes my existence of feeling “numb” without any emotional connection to life.


I suspect that many people are in that place. Also, very few people escape adversity at some point in their lives.


It’s important for me to share that with joy, I also feel pain. I believe that experiencing pain is necessary and part of the full spectrum of being alive. I turn my pain into music and song lyrics; after that, my pain is diminished.


I realize that many of my songs mention tears, so I guess I am very emotional!


Most of the time, I dance through my day enraptured by music. I often cope with unrelenting stress (due to my parents’ deteriorating health), but with my music I am soaring. I am also filled with great love for my family and that continues to fuel me.


Because I am a writer, I tend to tell myself a lot of stories. I would describe some of those stories, as scenarios I imagine are happening to explain other people’s actions. Telling myself stories is usually not helpful. I have the awareness that some of what I tell myself might not be true. To improve my life, I stop those stories.


The reason I do this, is because I can easily spin-off into thoughts that make me sad. I believe many people do not realize the impact of the messages they tell themselves.


Thoughts equal feelings!


I have learned through hypnotherapy how the messages I tell myself definitely translate into whether I am upbeat or not.


I want to write about two areas where I have very positive feelings that I didn’t used to have until I transformed into a happier person.


The first area is about sleep. When my son, Jason, died in 1992 I had great difficulty sleeping. For eighteen years I took an over-the-counter sleeping pill. If I didn’t take the pill, I would wake up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back to sleep. I felt that it was very important not to forget to take that pill because I would have difficulty “functioning the next day.” That was the story I told myself, which I was certain was based upon my experience.


With my newfound happiness and “transformation,” I made many changes to improve my life.


First, I stopped biting my nails.


Then, I stopped taking the sleeping pill. I had so much more energy and decided I’d allow myself the freedom to do whatever my body told me.


I stopped telling myself how many hours were necessary for me to sleep in order to function.


I slept whenever I was tired and if I wasn’t tired, I was fine with having more time to write or play music. That translated into my going to sleep well after midnight and waking up sometimes as early as five or six a.m.


I woke up excited to be alive and to have another precious day ahead of me. This was a huge contrast to how I could not face each day while I was in deep grief.


When people hear that I sleep so few hours, they often tell me that it is not possible to function that way.


I smile with the knowledge that those people are welcome to their beliefs and can continue give themselves that message if they so choose. I prefer to tell myself a different message.


My message is that I have more energy than I ever did before when I slept more and was sad.


The other area where I have more positive feelings surrounds the subject of menopause. I have often heard the belief that the “change of life” is something full of discomfort.


Pardon my honesty, but those occasional “hot flashes” have been manageable because I have felt “hot” my entire life. It wasn’t anything new. My poor children all blame me for the sweaty condition that they inherited from me!


I actually had my last period the month I began my blog.


I can say with complete candor that I have experienced the most wonderful “change of life.” It has dispelled all of my prior notions that menopause was something to dread.


I have rarely met any woman my age who feels this way.


I continue to find ways to appreciate my circumstances and feel blessed!

“A year in my life”

Today, I happened to drive by the Border’s Bookstore where I used to perform weekly. There were large signs up for the “going out of business sale.”


It is so interesting for me that it was exactly one year ago when I began performing regularly at Border’s Bookstores. I wrote a story called: BORDERING ON BREAKING OUT


On impulse, I decided to park and go inside. I felt that it was an opportunity for me to say goodbye to the bookstore where I had so many fond memories of singing. I was sad to see my performing there end because it was such a wonderful venue to share my music. However, that is nothing compared with the loss of jobs for so many people. I entered the store. It was crowded and frenzied because many people were there looking for a good deal. The few employees I saw looked overwhelmed.

Most of the equipment at the “Cafe” was gone.

This wasn’t even the most gorgeous of the smoothies I received after performing. (I always brought it home to share with my kids, but they were lucky if half was left!)

I went upstairs to the area where I used to sing. I could picture in my mind the nice girl at the coffee bar who would fix me a beautiful smoothie when I finished performing. I would always remember her.


I wasn’t sure if the manager was there and even if he was, I hated to bother him when he was so busy. He was such a kind and sensitive man. But I wanted to let him know how sorry I was and to say goodbye.


I waited patiently to speak with a harassed employee to find out if the manager was even there. She told me he was, but he was very busy. I told her I would wait. She asked me my name and I told her who I was. Suddenly, she hugged me.


Within a moment, the manager appeared in front of me. He was a tall, slender man and easy to talk to. At my last performance he told me his store had actually been profitable and was doing well. I felt sorry for him.


I reached over to hug him and then I said I would gladly write him a reference if it could be helpful. I was touched when he said he would appreciate it. He said the audio equipment would soon be available for sale if I was interested.


Tears started to pool within my eyes. As they fell, I looked the other way so as not to embarrass him.


I left the store feeling quite emotional and decided I wanted to write something regarding optimism when challenged by life.


The bankruptcy and closure of Border’s Bookstores most certainly affected many people with layoffs, and put their lives into a tailspin. I am very sensitive to grief and pain around me. As a writer, I avoid topics such as politics or religion.


But I feel I must address the pervasive atmosphere that surrounds me everywhere I look. With the current state of our economy, I am sad for the many people who are struggling. A good friend told me yesterday that people he had worked with for over twenty years were recently laid off. He is nervous because his job is in jeopardy. 

For people struggling with the loss of a job and coping with financial hardship, I have no answers.


I can only say that despite my own struggles in life, I continue to remain optimistic. Like the song “Tomorrow,” I always stay positive that life can and will get better.


Challenges are usually temporary and controlling my thoughts allow me to stay joyful, which in turn helps me to better cope.


Also, having my health is something I appreciate the most. Everything else pales in comparison.

The area where I used to sing. The chairs were gone.

“An anniversary of the heart”

Today was Cheryl’s birthday. Cheryl died from breast cancer three years ago and she would have been fifty-two years old.


We were very close while I was in college and she inspired several of my songs. I have never forgotten how I made her a surprise, twenty-first birthday party. It was hard to keep it a secret from her and I had counted down the days until the moment she would be surprised.

A picture taken when I opened the door to surprise Cheryl on her 21st birthday.

A picture from Cheryl’s surprise 21st birthday party.

Six months earlier, I had visited Cheryl’s eighty-nine-year-old mother and brought along my guitar. It was a very special visit for both of us. I called her mother tonight. I was able to discern from my phone call that a lot had changed for her since my prior visit.


She had withdrawn from life.


I listened as she shared that she no longer socialized or used her computer to see her grandchildren’s activities on Facebook. She rarely left her house.


It was important for me to let her mother know that Cheryl lived on in my thoughts and music. When I told her how deeply I missed Cheryl, she said she missed and thought of Cheryl every minute of every day.


I believed her.


As I hung up the phone, my heart ached for a fellow, bereaved mother. There were no words to express how sorry I was.

A picture of me with Cheryl a few years before she died. She visited me from Cleveland every few years.

© 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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