This is what I drive to get around.

My journey of insight began two years ago with the beginning of my blog. I am excited about sharing my story, and hopefully my audio book will be available by this summer.


What I have been creating is truly an extension of my soul. I believe the most beautiful part of my story is my honesty. My heart is practically beating outside my body as I speak, sing and connect my voice to my own words.


My rediscovery of music, which began at the same time as my blog, has given me an even wider avenue of emotional expression. Perhaps that is because a melody can evoke deep feelings and a song can crystallize love and pain with only a few simple words.


It was when I was recording songs and stories for my emerging audio book that my speaking and singing voice changed dramatically. It could have been as a result of practice and intense listening, but on an emotional level, suddenly my voice began to take on every nuance of my feelings.


It was fascinating for me. I would be speaking a sentence when the words took on a life of their own. I was transported back in time to the actual moment that inspired me to write those words. Within an instant, my throat would tighten. I felt like there was a sponge of tears inside my heart, and with the intense squeezing they poured right out from my eyes. I could not control those moments, nor could I recreate them at will.


I discovered that my quivering voice, which I initially thought was useless and embarrassing, was a voice of complete sincerity. It was what made my story far more touching.


With my voice changing, it was easily apparent that many of my recordings were not consistent. In January, I began to record my book over again with my new voice. At the same time, I decided to create instrumentals and new vocals for the 17 songs that are included with my book.


I found it so interesting how I gave myself permission to enhance my project with anything that I felt it deserved. Although it was costly, my decision to create instrumental versions of my songs for my book was something I was determined to do. In addition, I bore the cost and the hundreds of additional editing hours to create story recordings that were far superior to what I had done six months earlier.


I stopped worrying about the expense; refinancing our home had certainly helped. But amazingly, as I continued to spend more and more money for my book, I began to receive significant income from art assignments. This encouraged and sustained me even further. I began to really feel “blessed” and the many coincidences in my life seemed less so.


I wasn’t tired of working on my audio book; there just weren’t enough hours in the day for all that I wanted to do on it. But my body was tired from sitting so much in front of a computer. It was the stress of every day life that was such an intrusion and sometimes it caused my insides to ache.


Yet, every intrusion or stressful situation I faced was completely alleviated by my music. Whether I was waiting in line at a store, or listening to my father moaning for an entire afternoon, I escaped into the sweet melodies I heard in my mind.


I enjoyed listening to the new instrumental versions of my songs. However, working to create these instrumentals with my arranger, George was sometimes tedious; it wasn’t nearly as exciting as arranging a new song. I was usually far too ambitious and rushed George. The result was that sometimes there were subtle imperfections. I lived with them, because I planned to use the songs in the background of my stories, and for that they would still be adequate. 


But now, I was especially captivated by my most recent musical project.


I was getting ready to record the story and new vocals for my old song “So Real,” and made a snap decision that my song could be arranged differently. For some reason, I wasn’t moved by the music of my former arrangement. It was beautiful, but did not tug at my heart in any way.


I surprised George with the news that instead of an instrumental, we were going to create a new arrangement.


From the moment we started, I was moved. My heart was pulled in infinite directions and my soul began weeping with the first notes of my song. The new arrangement definitely captured the anguish of waking up to face reality after loss, and was exactly what my song deserved.


George suggested a different tempo for my song. We began to create the arrangement using Midi, which was a style of working on a keyboard that allowed for the melody to be recorded in perfect measures and recreated with numerous instruments. The tempo and key could easily be changed; areas could be copied and moved, which allowed for even more flexibility.


This style of working was so different from two years earlier, when I’d arrive at George’s studio and he would record me playing my guitar in his kitchen! Working in Midi reminded me so much of Photoshop. Everything was layered and delicate tones could be heard in different ways, similar to Photoshop where each layer could have different effects and opacity settings. Still, I kept in my mind my favorite motto that often “less is more.”

Below is a blue link to hear my new arrangement as an instrumental:


SO REAL INSTRUMENTAL – Copyright 2012 by Judy Unger

As the new arrangement for “So Real” progressed, I felt reinvigorated. Once again, my music continued to heal me. I originally composed my song when I was seventeen and revised it with new verses and a bridge drawing from the memory of my intense grief for Jason. But it was so easy to feel emotional while singing it, because I really felt grief when I wished that my mother could still be there for me to talk to.


Because I felt I had endless hours of editing to do, I knew that updating my blog was a luxury I hardly ever had time for anymore. Yet, writing had also helped to heal me and when I heard a voice inside telling me to write – I listened. It was late at night, and suddenly I felt inspired to start writing for my blog again. I began to write something in third person, which I planned to finish later in the week.


The next day, I returned to George to continue working on the song. I tried to ignore the loud noise my car was making, but it seemed to grow louder the more I tried to ignore it. The rumble had started a week earlier, and I thought the loud hum in my car was because the street was not paved well.



I drove a 1993 Toyota Previa, and it was nearing 210,000 miles. My minivan was the only car I’d ever had that was once new and I looked forward to replacing it someday. I knew that I could have been driving a newer vehicle instead of spending money on my music and recordings. I did have a vision of seeing new things surrounding me in my future. Certainly in my heart, I felt like a new person, and loved dreaming of surroundings to match. But material things were unimportant to me.

My latest body damage was a result of brushing a pole in the parking lot of my parents’ nursing home. I was trying to make room for my father’s wheelchair and came a little too close.


The next day after seeing George, I knew I needed to take care of my car problem. I went to a mechanic who came well recommended. I had to sit and wait for almost two hours until he could look at my car to analyze the problem. While I waited, I was blissful as I listened to my iPod. I always had a lot of stories to check and many songs to enjoy. I was proud of myself for being so patient. I sat next to a nice older man who was also waiting, and we had a nice conversation.


The mechanic came and asked me to come and look at something while my car was jacked up. His face was very serious as he explained to me how when he test-drove my car around the block, he ended up coasting slowly back. He told me that the problem was so severe, he did not want to stress the vehicle further. He said, “I’m amazed you were even able to drive it to get to this shop.”


He explained that the drive shaft on my car was almost broken in two. He pointed to the part that was still in my car. It was almost in two pieces and looked splintered; I could see he was right. Then he added, “There are two shafts for your car. If this was the back one and it snapped, your car would just stop. But this was the front one. If it broke at high speed on the freeway, it would have caused your car to flip over and you’d be dead. I hate to tell you this, but I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count. You are very, very lucky to still be alive.”


I went home and pondered how only the day before I was driving to Glendale on the freeway. I had no idea that by neglecting my car problem I had put my life at risk.


What really stopped me in my tracks was remembering what I wrote the night before, which related to my life.

It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be, but not worth risking my life over!



She loved the idea that she was blessed. She thanked God for all of her gifts and treasured every step of her journey. 


With those blessings, she remained determined to finish the creative expression that had saved her. She plodded onward. Whenever she felt discouraged, another blessing came her way that enabled her to continue.


It did feel like plodding. The energetic steps where she danced toward a beautiful future had gradually slowed down. She had stopped sharing her excitement. Her tremendous energy and focus was still there, but whereas before she was light and airy, now she felt burdened by keeping so much inside. Sometimes, the heaviness was overwhelming, yet it only made her even more determined to move forward.


Although her life felt meaningful and she knew how it felt to be joyful, it saddened her that she was no longer dancing. It was easy to understand why. The sad distractions in her life were quite difficult to ignore and could not be dismissed. It was frustrating for her to admit that she was getting tired. So many things required her attention and she hated the distractions; she did not want to be diverted. But with positive thinking, she channeled all of her emotions into what she was creating instead of feeling pain.


When she looked ahead, she could clearly see her destination within view. There was a time, when she had no idea about her destination. Now that she felt more certain, in some ways it was harder. The destination was meaningless for her, as far as materially, because she could continue the creative expression no matter where she went. But the destination represented the time when she could share again, and that was something she was looking forward to.


The pain was deep inside. It would squeeze her slowly as it travelled into her throat and upwards to her eyes. The muscles in her neck tightened and it was hard to breathe; her eyes felt like a sponge filled with tears. The squeezing caused the tears to pour downward.


But her music was a blanket of comfort for her soul. It was warm and soothing as it surrounded the pain; all squeezing stopped. She would close her eyes and imagine the peacefulness of her future. She escaped into her music and it always lifted her out of the insanity and the pain. It was more than going to magical places now. It was her remedy. Nothing comforted her like her music did.


It was then when she heard the voice in her head. Was it God? She didn’t care. She just knew she needed to be open to hear what the voice told her. It was time for her to listen.


The voice asked her why she had chosen to see her days now as heavy rocks, instead of the gold coins she had vehemently chosen a year earlier. She wasn’t sure how to answer. She said, “I look forward to spending my gold coins in my future. Today is not the time to spend them. At this moment, I understand why I have rocks – but I know it is only temporary.”


Then the voice said, “Today might be your last day. Do you want your last day to be a rock?”


She answered, “It doesn’t matter. I know what it feels like to live both ways. I accept this pain because I am trying to reach my destination. If I stop to make my days like gold, I might not continue. I am afraid.”


The voice said, “That is why I picked you. You are selfless. You are not on this journey to save yourself.  Continue to listen to your music and your days will be golden.”


She smiled and knew she would.

© Judy Unger and 2012. 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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