I’ve attached the silhouette image above to my song “In The Past.” This image represents a time when the future held limitless possibilities. I was 19 and my future husband was facing me on the other side. But despite some of the difficult things I’ve lived through, I look forward to my future now like I did when I was that young girl.

Click the link below to hear my song:

In the Past Acoustic 5-16-18

In the Past Home Recording 2/12/16 Copyright 2016 by Judy Unger


Never in a million years did I imagine I’d be a passionate songwriter at this time in my life. I’m definitely amazed at where I am today! And I’m even more amazed that I can still smile.

Never in a million years did I imagine I’d be a passionate songwriter at this time in my life. I’m definitely amazed at where I am today!


Copyright 2015 by Judy Unger

I look back, amazed at where I am today

There were times I almost gave up

Painful memories are in my past

I just didn’t know then

I’d live with joy again

I look ahead, my dreams are right in front of me

What threw me down gave me my strength

I’ve kept my smile through it all

I allowed myself to feel

and learned that I could heal

In the past are things I could regret

What I suffered through I can’t forget

Pain that made me cry

Gave me wings to fly

My journey is not about where I will go

Each day, I treasure my life

I’ve left behind the pain and chains

Every tragedy didn’t imprison me

In the past are things I could regret

I know how love once felt

I can’t forget

The strength to say goodbye

Gave me wings to fly

Once I felt hopeless and so alone

Now I’m soaring – I have flown

In the past are things I could regret

I know how love once felt

I can’t forget

Pain that made me cry

gave me wings to fly

Gave me wings to fly

I look back

I felt like I had to correct my hypnotherapist. She was saying something to me about my latest song and called it “The Past.” I told her that my song was named “IN the Past.”

I explained that I wanted my song title to begin with the word “in.” But did the word “in” – INsinuate that I was living in the past instead of the present? I believed that my song was all about moving forward.

But even though I was sure about my song’s title – my lyrics kept changing and evolving. I still went ahead and recorded vocals. I had a great performance of my song, even though I’ve changed some of the lyrics since then.

Beach day

My 21-year-old daughter decided to face the unknown. She courageously quit her job and was excited to take some time off to figure out what she planned to do with her life. She had saved her money after working hard without a break for two years.

Before her job ended, she asked me if I would go somewhere with her. We chose to go to a nearby beach town for a few days. Her excitement as the trip approached was infectious and I knew spending time with her would be good for me.

A week after her job ended, we took off on our little get-away. It was still a challenge for me to leave the safety and comfort of my apartment. My eyes hurt whenever I felt anxious – so I concentrated upon feeling relaxed.

This is a pen and ink drawing I did in Middle School. I have always loved having my guitar with me at the beach.

The beach town we were driving toward was very close to where my parents used to take me when I was a young girl. As my car approached the familiar exits and sights, I felt memories swelling in my head and heart. Such wonderful times I had!

I began to share some of my memories, but then my daughter said, “Gee, mom – it sounds like sometimes you’re living in the past! Let’s make some new memories instead – you and I!”

Her words made sense, but didn’t stop my memories. I squeezed her hand and understood that she wanted our time together to be special.

I became quieter, but the memories still whispered to me and I hoped she wasn’t aware.

Over our two days together, we definitely made some new sweet memories for both of us to keep. I rode a bicycle on the beach for the first time in many years. We took long walks and ate in lovely cafes. I enjoyed the present!

I decided that my memories from the past were tinged with sadness. They were reminders of how much I missed my parents and even my friend, Cheryl, who died eight years ago.

This is a view from the porch of the lovely bed and breakfast home we stayed in.

This is a view from the porch of the lovely bed and breakfast home where my daughter and I stayed.

When I came back from our lovely trip, I was very excited to finalize the arrangement for “In The Past” with George (my arranger). I recorded vocals and performed my song, but was certain I could improve the lyrics. I waited for inspiration and it finally came to me.

Originally my chorus went:

In the past there’s nothing I regret

What I suffered through I can’t forget

Things that made me cry

Gave me wings to fly

I wrote those words with confidence because I never regretted what I did for my children and later on, my parents. Taking care of their complicated needs consumed many years of my life. I never gave up, but there were times when I wondered how I kept on going.

After 31 years of marriage, I left my husband and have no regrets about my decision. I suffered with guilt for a long time because I regretted hurting him (and my children). My song uplifts me because it is about overcoming that.

As I wrote the words below, they rhymed, so I share them with humor:

I don’t regret starting a new life

or following my dream

but saying there’s nothing I regret

is far too extreme

Once again, my black and white thinking knocks me over. Of course, there are things I’ve regretted and I cannot sing a lyric line if it doesn’t feel true for me.

Here is my list of things I’ve regretted (and still do):

1. I’ve shared too much personal information with the wrong people.

2. I allowed myself to gain a lot of weight when I felt depressed about my eyes while separating from my husband.

3. I started biting my nails again a year ago.

4. I have admitted my parents’ imperfections on my blog too many times.

5. I’ve “lent” money to good friends and have felt confused and disappointed when no effort has been made to pay me back.

6. I haven’t been good at keeping secrets.

My best antidote to my above list is: I AM HUMAN! Compassion is absolutely necessary. I’m really good at doling out compassion to others and turning it upon myself is the key. Even though I’ve made mistakes (repeatedly), I know that I’m capable of changing and learning.

That led me to revise my lyric line about “there’s nothing I regret” to: “In the past, are things I don’t regret.”

suffered through

That line leaves room for me to still have regrets about other things!
Things that made me cry

I decided that another line needed changing. It was the one about “things that made me cry.”

Gaining my wings through tears and adversity was true. I decided I could sing those words for my first chorus. But a better line for me on the subsequent choruses was:

“The strength to say goodbye, gave me wings to fly.”

Here are some things I’ve said goodbye to:

1. I said goodbye to my beloved 5-year-old son when he died.

But I also said goodbye to the heartache that followed me for over two decades. I truly have healed from what I suffered through. The words “I won’t forget” is a choice I’ve made (instead of “I can’t forget). I choose to remember the pain because I celebrate my survival and joy after so many years of living through the torture of grief.

2. I said goodbye to a big home and married lifestyle. I said goodbye to the only man I ever have been with since I was 18 years old.

I currently live in a cramped apartment with my two sons. My office is my bedroom. The space is smaller than my closet was in my former large home. My apartment has only one bathroom and for 20 years my home had 4 bathrooms. So everyone here asks permission before taking a shower.

3. I said goodbye to both my parents as each of them took their last breath on earth.

4. I said goodbye to the eyesight I took for granted. It has been three years since I developed complications from cataract surgery. I remember how lovely it was when I could see clearly without pain and fogginess.

5. I said goodbye to my young children.

I look ahead with the knowledge that I am also saying goodbye to them as they become independent adults. When my daughter told me she’d like to go to Thailand, I just smiled. But I am not smiling thinking about my oldest son. He is going on a dangerous trip of driving through Mexico in a few months with my ex-husband. I have tried to discourage him – but to no avail.


I love butterflies and metaphors; above are some of my illustrations. I also have a song named “You Are My Wings. Therefore, it’s no surprise that once again wings and the metaphor of flying pops up in another one of my songs.

Hopeless and alone

I want to list what “gaining wings” has meant to me:

1. Wings are a metaphor for music lifting me up. I was taken away from sorrow and have “risen above” the things that could have sunk me.

2. Wings represent following my dream. It is exciting for me to imagine flying somewhere wonderful with my music.

3. I want to spread my wings and inspire others to fly. Nothing is more beautiful for me than uplifting and comforting someone in deep grief.

4. I see wings as fearlessness. Flying could be scary, but the grief and the experience of losing those I love has only reinforced the preciousness of my life. And this increases my willingness to take some chances to do what brings me joy.

My journey

5. Wings are my freedom. It was horrible for me to watch my parents suffer and die. I grieved deeply during the time they declined. I was actually relieved when death freed them from their horrific pain. And then their deaths led to my own personal freedom because I no longer had to worry about them. I had no idea how much energy that took until it was over.

6. Wings represent transformation – just like a butterfly. Although I am very passionate about my musical journey, my artistic journey has taken me to a wonderful place also that I didn’t anticipate.

I have been very busy illustrating. In the past, I thought my career as an artist was over because my paintings were time-consuming and obsolete. It turns out that by reinventing my technique (going from being a watercolorist to a digital artist), I am now very much in demand. Last week, I created a strawberry illustration that I’m sharing below.

I want to also share a recent comment on my illustration blog that touched me deeply. 

I have been very busy illustrating. In the past, I thought my career as an artist was over because my paintings were obsolete. It turns out that by reinventing my technique on a computer, I am suddenly now very much in demand. I created that strawberry illustration above recently.

Reply to Phil Phils comment art blog

strength to say goodbye

When I was 19, I wrote a song entitled “Saying Goodbye.” I feel like the line of “the strength to say goodbye” is a follow-up to that song. 36 years after writing how hard saying goodbye was – I’ve gone to celebrating where it has taken me.

I want to share some feelings about the line of “I know how love once felt.”

I like the hopefulness of that line. It sounds like a prophecy, and perhaps someday I will fall in love again. But at this moment, it is very remote since I have not gone on a date in over 35 years.

Since that concept has me squirming, instead of romantic love I want to fly again with joy!

Unfortunately, I am not flying at this moment. But that is what I love about my song. It is my ideal.

During the saddest times in my life, I was certain that the true happiness I felt when I was young would never happen again. I was wrong! (Just like when I thought my art career was over).

Five years ago in 2010, I was very joyful when I first began to write and rediscover music. Remembering that feeling makes me confident that I will feel joyful in the same way again.

I don’t want to think in extremes of happy or sad because I’m not unhappy – but I would like to laugh more and make time for friends who understand me.

I do strive to treasure each day of my life. I am so blessed that I can make choices for myself now. One of those choices is to find ways to feel better.

At this time in my life, sometimes staying peaceful can be very challenging. My children are wonderful humans and I’m very close to all three of them. I often feel like they are taking me on non-stop roller coaster rides because I am so involved in their lives. At the age of 55, I’m not up for that ride as much as when they were younger. But it is a choice I’ve honestly made because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I achieve peacefulness through my music and songs. When I compose something new (like this particular song), I am saturated with serenity. What a blessing it is that I have such a wonderful outlet!

To end this story, I will share some of my scrawled lyrics in progress. The words I have written below are brutally honest and very personal. It is because of writing those words that I found the insight I needed for this song. I may actually compose a new song one day with some of my heartfelt words below.

I must admit that my lyrics are like my bible. I study them and find new meanings every day.

Back into a fire

dead butterflyTimes when I gave up

pastel butterfly

What I feel I deserveButterfly-Rose SwallowtailSeparate lives 2 Butterfly of grief pastelHow do I stop 2Monarch red glow Drowning that feeling

Jason 3 days old the years that buried me

Kulak's 8-18

© 2015 by Judy Unger  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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13 Responses to IN THE PAST-PART 1

  1. Rena Fisher says:

    Quite remarkable.  Keep enjoying each day. Warmly,Rena


  2. Carol Cross says:

    What an amazing, beautifully written and illustrated blog! Thank you for sharing. Keep soaring and finding joy.



  3. your music and words are devastatingly beautiful. all you have been through and where it leads you is yet to be seen, it is an amazing journey and you inspire me with you courage and love.

    big warm hugs and love to you my friend. i send you wishes for love and light for all your days to come.


  4. Sheila says:

    You have such a wonderful attitude, Judy…thank you for sharing.
    Hugs and love, Sheila


  5. ra_hansen says:

    Your blog is beautiful on so many levels! I nominated it for the “Lovely Blog Award”. The blog post is at:

    Liked by 1 person

  6. beebeesworld says:

    Judy, your blog is so beautifully, emotionally and professionally written. Mine shows my lack of knowing how to really take advantage of wordpress, but you stick with me anyway. Thank you. I know we feel some of the same pain. I think of you every day. Bless you, my friend! Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Oh Brenda, thank you for your compliments. I think you write a beautiful blog and I’ll definitely stick with you. Like anything, what’s most important is content and honesty. You are an excellent writer. And by the way, I love how you appreciate music from the 60’s – your recent posts are wonderful! I feel so touched to know you think of me every day. Yes, the pain of loss indelibly alters our lives – we are joined with the knowledge of how horrible it is to lose our beloved child. So nice to hear from you!


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