Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 31... The finale

It's not really the end... It's actually the beginning.  

I have just begun to write songs... Still not quite with confidence... But with more comfortability.

I have tried my best to be open and honest about my processes and struggles.  I want to be a songwriter who writes honestly... Who lives honestly.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this past months daily exercise of pouring out myself daily-- but for as vulnerable as it has been- it's been just as profitable.  

I am realizing I am only sketching outlines as I write-- the color, the shading, the depth will be added as we go--- as the music matures. 

I do feel slightly more comfortable calling myself a aspiring songwriter.  As long as I put 'aspiring' in front of it-- and I hope that will go away eventually.  As I continue to grow- and as I continue to write- I will become and am becoming more confident.  Bolder. 

I have seen the question posted in several places over the last month:
"What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?"
That is a question that quickens the pulse... Dare I even dream that big?  

Could chasing this dream give words others have needed to hear?  Could chasing this dream prove to be nothing?? I suppose both are possible... 

But just in case... I am going to keep chasing it-- and see if I can catch it!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 30... Look At Me...

"No, really look at me, Mommy."

I was distracted today.  I am always distracted.  

Sometimes it seems like I wander from one distraction to the next.

Today, I was doing something when my youngest son wanted me to notice that he had colored his page in two different ways.  

I glanced quickly his way "Great job." 

He noticed my inattention... My unenthusiastic reply was not lost on his 5 year old self. 

"No, really look at me, Mommy"

I have been there.  I have felt that hurt before... That feeling when you're not being heard.   That moment when you realize that the person you're pouring your heart out to is watching the television behind you.  When you realize the verbal cues aren't quite meshing within your conversation. 

I have felt that awkward hurt and I have dealt it out as well. 

My 31 days end tomorrow and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface.  I have caught glimpses of who I am, but I haven't always been paying close enough attention.  I have heard the call of my heart, but not always been an active listener.  I have chosen comfort when I needed to chose risk.

My sweet child didn't waiver for one moment.  Once I turned, put down what I was doing and gave him my true attention- he finished his thought- right where he had left off and waited for my approval.  He wasn't mad-- he wasn't resentful-- he just wanted me to see the beautiful work of art he had made!  Oh, that I could be so selfless.  

We pray a blessing over our children each night-- and part of it is "May The Lord look you full in the face and may you know his peace..."

'Look at me.'

Will I still be the girl who is prone to distraction come November 1st?  Likely yes... 

My prayer as I conclude this challenge is that I would not turn back-- not lose focus and not let this also become a distraction from who I am.  As an artist, as a mother, as a wife and friend.  That it would instead, allow me to breathe deeper-- linger longer in each moment-- and help others to do the same.  

That I would take the time to look fuller into each face...  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29... Old Songs & Old Friends...

I'm pouring over a song today... a song written for a lovely friend during a dark time.

What's so cool about this song- is I can instantly remember how my heart hurt for hers as she was hurting and struggling and I wanted so badly to use my words to help bring her comfort-- and the cool part is-- she's so far beyond that hurt now.   Her life is new and this song, though written for her, isn't sung for her anymore.   The hope of new beginnings, for new life, the hope for hope-- has been realized.

One thing quickly about my friend who this song was written for-- she was never a dark person.  She was and is a brilliant person-- one of the brightest smiles and sweetest personalities you will ever meet in your life.  You know you've seen these people.  If you're lucky, you have one in your life.  This person is joy incarnate.  She was never a dark person, but even the shiniest of people have dark times they have to walk through.  In the midst of personal tragedy- she was fighting to maintain control.  And as I watched her struggle- I wrote this song.   I was sitting in the sanctuary of my old church and I couldn't shake the words-- they had to be written.

I roughly recorded this song and offered them to her... talk about feeling ridiculous and very vulnerable.  Offering someone something like words to their own vulnerability is an awkward dance.

I now look over these words and see what a difference the years have made.

It does affect the song-- not the message-- but the song must now grow as well.

Working on that today and thinking of my sweet friend.  So thankful that the life she finds herself living is now as equally brilliant and bold as she is.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28... Realizations...

I am blown away by the encouragement I have received both on and offline regarding my singing and songwriting.  

Thank you. 

The outpouring of love and support I have been blessed with has helped spur me on, it's helped me write more each day, it's allowed me to be comfortable sharing and it's honestly opened up doors to vulnerable places that I've kept sealed for far too long.

This 31 Day Challenge has been a very growing undertaking.

I wanted to have a whole collection of songs ready to produce by now, but that is still a way off.  I've been spending daily time... jotting down thoughts... lyrics... rhymes.   I'm comfortable more comfortable saying that my life's ambition is in being a songwriter-- that the art I'm creating and created to create- is in sharing words and stories with others.

I've learned that affirmation and encouragement aren't the same thing.  I've learned that I'm sometimes far more concerned with the friendly retweet of a stranger than I am with the genuine pat on the back of a friend... and that gives me pause.  I've realized that I can feel just as many feelings of insecurity trying to vie for the attention of the "cool girls" online as I ever did in high school.   That's why I have shared less of this on social sites in the last couple weeks.  My concern with the who's who of this challenge was beginning to become too much.  So I've limited it to a few times a week instead of every post.

I was looking around at all the pedestals I'd built lately... higher and higher... falling from such great heights would be devastating.... not for the actual person, but for the person I'd put them up to be.

I've realized that I have an uncanny knack to turn compliments into criticism.  I can read tone and sneers into words where they never truly existed.

I can obsess in ways that I never knew possible.

I have also realized that I love this.  I love writing.   I want to sing and write music for my whole life. I have realized that it doesn't matter if I ever "make it" or if anyone hears the majority of my songs... it's my connection.  My connection to God, my connection to life... my connection between my heart and my mind.

Realizations are only good if you act on them... and I'm realizing that too.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 27... Song Sunday...

Here's another cover today of Nichole Nordeman's "Why'.

Not very many words today to share... Rest well today friends.

** This should go without saying-- Nichole Nordeman is an inspiration to me-- this song is NOT mine, it's hers and there is no infringement intended whatsoever in this recording!!**

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 26... Healing takes time...

Well, darn it.  Missed two days in a row.

Thursday was a busy day, running around... and towards the end of the day, when I normally sit down to the computer, I sat down to a book.  My head started to hurt- and at first I thought it was because it was an intense book with a tragic ending- and then I thought it was maybe the backlight of the iPad-- but then the lights came.   The twinkling little lights around the frame of my vision.

By the next morning, the pain had arrived.  Sometimes, migraines hit me like a bus... other times they just saunter in like a cool cowboy.  You think, maybe this guy isn't so bad... and then the next thing you know you're out on main street with tumbleweeds blowing across the road and you hear "DRAW!" before you even know what's going on.   Bad news Bart.  That's what that was.   By noon yesterday I was down for the count.

Even thinking hurt.  

I was broken.

Being broken hurts.

And all that works to heal is time.  Sure, the medicines help to speed along the recovery process, but those still rely on time.  The beat of your heart, ticking off like a metronome, rushing the relief through your aches and pains.

Isn't it the same way with our heart?  Even the best medicines, the strongest faith, the best counseling, the deepest rest... they still take time to reach the hurt.   Sometimes, I think my aching heart, the places that still hurt when I remember painful times or painful people, shouldn't hurt anymore.  It's been days, months, years, since that hurt.   Why does that still ache?

Years ago, visiting my sweet wise friend Tracy in Colorado, I was pulling out an old hurt... again.  Rehashing the details.  Like a crime scene, I wanted to look at all the evidence and win her approval that I was truly hurt.  Affirm the pain.  She couldn't do that.  It wasn't hers to affirm.  And being as wise and bold as she is she said "Part of you will always ache over this... because there was injustice felt.  You just have to decide how the pain affects you."  She was graciously telling me to move on, release this, because the replaying and rehashing of the event wasn't speeding along my recovery process, it was hindering it.

By yesterday afternoon, I still felt pretty gross.  But the pain had mostly subsided... I could still feel where the pain had been and even though it didn't hurt, it felt hollow, and still very much present.  By the evening, I felt closer to my normal self and partially due to sleeping for a couple hours in the afternoon I am up earlier than normal and feel pretty good.

In writing music, I have to be aware of pain.  Not just my own, but others as well.  Somethings take time.  Some things take caution.  Some songs aren't ready to be sung yet- because the words still sting my lips.  Some bags never need to be unpacked again.  Some evidence just needs to be burned and released to the wind, because the crime is long since absolved.  Some pains, and hurts, and wrongs will never be reconciled, but the can be forgiven.

I can forgive.  I can be forgiven.

All in time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 23... Short on words...

For 23 days now, I've carved out time in my day to write here.  For those of you who read along with me, you know I have sometimes gone weeks, nearly months without a post.  You know this has been no small feat for me.

This challenge has been good for me to sit down daily and write.  I have tried each day to also sit down with my notebook and write out lyrics... poetry... whatever words or images come to mind that day.   I don't always have a lot of words.

I've been told my whole life that I'm an extrovert... and most times I am, but when I'm running on empty- which I have been lately- that extrovert quickly becomes and introvert.  

I am out of words today. 

I am tempted to feel like that means I'm some kind of failure.  That because I couldn't seem to make anything rhyme... because I just couldn't think of any subject to write on... that somehow it means I am not made for this.  But honestly, it means I need to spend some time listening.   I need to spend some time reading... some time meditating... some time reflecting.

And I need to allow myself to do this.  Music needs to be a conversation... it's not much a conversation when one party won't shut up.

So... I'm shutting up.  And I'm ok with it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 22... Beloved...

You call me your Beloved...
How can it be it's me you see...
You call me Your Beloved...
You've waited here so patiently...
You call to me Beloved...
You're down on bended knee... 
How can you see me as Beloved...
How did you ever notice me.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 21... Stained glass angels...

Did I mention yet I am surrounded by talent?  It's true-- notice that none of the songs I've posted lately are a cappella?  There's a reason!  I've been blessed to make good friends with some great musicians.   They not only inspire me to be a better musician myself, but there's just something special about the energy that is passed around when you're working on a song.

I listened to a friend of mine play the pipe organ today (yeah, she's that good.)... and I realized when she stopped that I had not only been listening to the music, but tangibly feeling the music.  The notes wrapped themselves around the entire church as she played... you could feel the vibration in the hardwood pews, you could sense the floor trembling under the weight of the harmonies... and of course the sound... oh, the sound.  The stained glass angels could barely contain themselves. 

You didn't realize that the sound was filling up the room the way it was until it stopped.  Isn't that always the case?  You don't realize the magnitude of something until it's presence is missing.  As soon as the final chord ended, the room was still.  It seemed, somehow, emptier than before she had begun playing.  There was a hollowness to the room. 

I'm transported by music like that.  I'm inspired by music like that. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 20... Song Sunday-- "Draw Me"

Just barely squeaking this one in today... Huge thanks to Matt for going the extra mile and hooking up his fun sound equipment so that we got a better sound this time!  Love the way this one is shaping up.  It's different each time we play it, but it's becoming my favorite.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 19... Lessons from a hunting expedition

My father, a long time hunter, has a saying:

"They call it hunting, not catching"

This morning my husband took me along to deer hunt.  He's been going out with his bow, for about a month now.  He's come home empty handed each time.  He's been frustrated, but patient.  

I have never seen the fun in hunting, I am not against hunting-- living so close to the interstate I see the tragic affects of overpopulation of deer daily.  It's not only sad, it's incredibly dangerous.   I am not against hunting- I just never thought it would be a part of my life.

Over the last 12 months or so, my husband has been putting the 'enthusiasm' into 'hunting enthusiast'.  Through the encouragement of good friends in our church- he dove right into the hobby.  He's always enjoyed the outdoors- this just adds to it! 

So this morning- he took me along.  We got up when it was still very dark and still and from a camo'd blind in the woods, we watched the sun rise.

We waited.  And not for long-- within an hour, we had a deer to take home.

Then we decided to wait-- I wanted one too.  I have never wanted to be a hunter- please remember- but now- more than anything I wanted a deer to claim as my own!  We waited... And waited.  And then, for the sake of getting back home- had to give in.

I was surprised by my own emotions.  I was angry.  I was sad.  Tears stung my eyes. 
My husband had reminded me of a whole other adventure years ago when I had lost most of my hope.  We were on a much needed sabbatical- things with the minstry we were in were rocky.  We were in Tennesee driving through Cade's Cove- a secluded part of the National Forest- one of our favorite locations.  This particular time of year was notorious for black bear sightings and I wanted to see one in the wild so badly.  Camera in hand we drove the curvy roads.  Hours later- and several near misses- we were exiting the park- never glimpsing any bear.  

I became unhinged.  I was sobbing, screaming, throwing a complete tantrum. I wanted to see a bear-- I wanted God to bring a bear's path alongside my own.  I had internally been praying- begging 'God- please-- show me you love me, show me a bear.  Please.  This is something small, tangible, no cure of disease, no world peace-- just please let their be a bear where a bear is supposed to be and allow me to witness it.' 

No bear. 

We pulled over, next to the Little Pigeon River that flows through the national forest, to get some air, and help me collect myself- but the raging water made me feel all the more out of control- Here I was in the midst of a great faith crisis- and God couldn't even let me see a freakin' bear!?  How was I supposed to trust Him with the mess that was my life?

Today, in the woods, I was internally praying the same prayer- 'please- choose me- show me what I want- and do it now' and I felt the same weight against my heart when no deer showed itself.  

This songwriting experiment is daunting.  It's been wonderfully daunting-- and exhausting- but I keep looking for a sign- I keep praying to see what exactly I am supposed to write/say/show.  

It's called hunting, not catching...

I have still never seen a bear when visiting Cade's Cove...

It's call faith... Confidence in what we hope for, certainty in what we do not see.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 18... Resting and being ok with it...

So I have done zero writing today... I keep thinking maybe I should be ready... But I don't think the words are coming today.   I need to actively rest.  

When what I want to say starts to be forced, then what I need to say will be lost.  

So today, I took my boys to the library.  We spent a luxurious amount of time looking up books, thumbing through pictures, just enjoying our time.  We each got a collection that will hold us far into next week.  

I am greedy with books lately... I just want more and more... Unlocking more images... Releasing more words.  

But, today... I have just had time to read.  

Tonight I have enjoyed great conversation with my husband... We've laughed... We've shared.  I have breathed deeply and instead of feeling like I was wasting time not thinking of lyrics... I have just been present in the rest. 

Being present in wherever I am isn't easy.  I long for distraction-- our world is ready to comply. 

It's easy to be lazy-- easy to choose comfort-- it takes effort to choose to truly rest.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17... My plans for today...

So I have this stack of bad songs.  Well... unfinished songs.  Lyrics I wouldn't want to listen to.  They don't have cadence they don't follow any rhythms specifically.  So, my plan on this dreary, rainy Kentucky day is to do exactly what I talked about yesterday... I'm going to keep going.  I'm going to pour over them.  Get some rhythm and try to turn them into something less bad and unfinished!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 16... The Gospel of John... Mayer.

John Mayer... yes, that John Mayer.  The 'Your-Body-is-a-Wonderland' John Mayer.  It's been a while since we've heard from John, I think he's dating Katy Perry now.  Anyway... yesterday, my imaginary friend Emily*, told me about a quote from John Mayer:

 Nobody’s music is the enemy of your music. The idea that someone else has made it when they shouldn’t have made it is toxic thinking.

I couldn't shake that all day.  

Toxic thinking.   That is truth.   

So I started looking up more of the context of this quote... and I found this:

I can’t stress enough how important it is to write bad songs. There’s a lot of people who don’t want to finish songs because they don’t think they’re any good. Well they’re not good enough. Write it! I want you to write me the worst songs you could possibly write me because you won’t write bad songs. You’re thinking they’re bad so you don’t have to finish it. That’s what I really think it is. Well it’s all right. Well, how do you know? It’s not done!

I'm not happy with many of my songs.  And I don't want to finish them... because they aren't good enough.  I don't like the verse... or the chorus is too wordy.   Or I have no verse or chorus.  Just an idea, an image. 

So, I'm going to write bad songs.  Hopefully a bunch of them.  Maybe a few good ones will sneak in there.  Maybe a song I have no hope for will turn into a song that gives someone else hope.  Maybe the words I fight to find will give someone else the words they've been searching for.  Maybe just maybe that's enough for me to keep pressing towards. 

This last week, I've shouted out to some important 'imaginary' friends in my journey.  Nichole Nordeman, Audrey Assad,  Ann Voskamp, Emily Freeman.  Writers all.  'Imaginary' friends because I only know them by their art- and they don't know me at all.  They are women who have put their art out there in their songs and books.  They have given small pieces of themselves to the world, not knowing what they would get back.  Their words, their bravery, has helped to shape me.  Some for a very long time, so that when I hear their voice on the radio, it's like hearing comforting words from an old friend, others very recently and as I read their words I have a stunned reaction of "how did they know?!".   Their ideas are not mine, their stories are not my own... but their art is not an enemy of my art.   I'm inspired when I read and listen to these women.  I'm humbled that I could even entertain to be used in that way... but I'll never be used if I don't keep writing. 

So thanks, John.  

*Emily didn't actually say that to me yesterday... just something I read in her book, yesterday.  It feels so much like a conversation, my husband and I are often talking about the books we're reading in this way.  "Do you know what Oswald said yesterday?"  "C.S. Lewis said this afternoon...".  You get it.  We're nerds. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 15... You're in my head, Emily.

I was going to title this post, Get out of my head, Emily Freeman!  But I don't want her to get out of my head actually.  I find it no small coincidence that I found this 31 day blogging challenge on her sister's blog-which lead me to a video trailer for her upcoming book- which released on the first day of this challenge- of which I pre-ordered and started reading on the first day of this challenge.  I should be done by now.  Her book, Million Little Ways, is amazing.... and I could devour it in a night.  I'm trying not to binge read it-- I want to take it all in, so I'm intentionally slowing down.  Reading, re-reading.  Journalling my way through.

I sent her a tweet on the first day as I was reading it and said "It's a truly special thing when a book is singing in harmony with your heart".  Its no less true here on Day 15.  It's actually starting to freak me out.

Today I got to the chapter about facing critique, including the little voice of critique in your head.

I've been struggling with this far more than I've been sharing on here.

I have a deep fear of being mediocre. 
A fear that usually translates into apathy to the outside observer-- because it looks like I don't care.  I do care.  I care more than I can ever express with words.  What I do with this fear, because I've already decided that what I do is not going to be up to my own standards, is I don't even try.  I don't want to look foolish.

As Emily (is it weird that I'm now just referring to her by first name?  She and I are imaginary friends now, of course) says in her book "the invisible audience" is already posed to boo me off stage, or point and laugh, or worse, snicker and sneer quietly and roll their eyes.

I have words.  They're not completely formed yet, but I have words.  You see, I have this faith... like I've said, it's woven into who I am.  I used to feel like I had to apologize- until I realized that most of my non-Christian friends are a lot cooler with my faith than my Christian friends have been that I'm not perfect. I'm completely flawed and usually pretty raw with my faith.  For some of my more polished Christian friends this is near heresy... but I've stopped hiding it.   It's who I am... and I'm not finished yet.  But you see... I'm not polished, so I attract other unpolished, messy, gritty people.   But I have words for these people.  Someone needs to have words for them- and by them, I mean US.   These are the words I so desperately am trying to get out.

This isn't an easy process.  Not to compare myself to Michelangelo- but it's his process that he used when sculpting "David" that I keep coming back to.  He said that David was always in that slab of marble, he just had to take away the parts of it that weren't him.   My words are there... I'm just trying to chip away at the words that don't need to be said.

So-- as I'm reading and I get to the bold subheading 'See the Real Reason for Your Mediocre Art' - you can understand when I'm already dealing with my inner critic and nodding my head the whole chapter- I nearly choked.

When I stop being the artwork, and I try to take over the work for the Master Artist, I will always come up short.   In comparison to the real masterpiece, I will always feel mediocre.   Being who I truly am, who I'm truly meant to be- feels awkward and vulnerable, because I've spent my whole life looking at others like they are finished works of art and trying to imitate them- not allowing myself to be the art.   If you're stuck with feelings of mediocrity- trace that back a bit.  What are you comparing yourself to?  What are you holding yourself up against?   Get honest with yourself... Don't stop making art.  Don't stop living into the art that you are.

Note to Emily Freeman.  I don't know that you will ever come across my blog, or that we'll ever meet in real life, or that we'll ever be more than imaginary friends.  But, thank you for continuing to reflect the Master Artist.  I'm becoming a better image bearer because your words hold His truth and power.  Thank you. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14... Two weeks in...

Way have I learned in 14 days of blogging?

I have learned that I likely will not put this much self centered blogging time in for at lest another year.  

It's exhausting! 

I have learned that I love to write, I love to write lyrics- but I do not love the learning curve.  I don't feel good at this yet-- I don't know if I am ever supposed to-- but I don't like to do things I am not good at doing. 

I have never been one to enjoy a learning curve- but the perfectionist in me does like a challenge.  Go figure.  I huesos itd perspective.

I realize that I crave affirmation.  It's a heart idol. It is something I put before God-- not intentionally- but it happens.  I find myself looking for comments instead of reading or writing.  I find myself pouring over words of others- finding critism where there wasn't any meant.  Its a vice that I am growing increasingly uncomfortable having.   I love the encouragement- please don't mishear me- but I am finding myself depending on it.   

On the other hand I have also found myself completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love through writing.  I am blown away and completely humbled that anyone is following along- let alone encouraging me!  (Thank you all so very much!)

It's been a good two weeks.  Two more to go!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 13... Song Sunday... Cover of "Show Me"

Still trying to find my sound... had another original song to post tonight, but once I uploaded the track, it was too muffled to really make out the lyrics.  So we'll need to record that one again.  Maybe next week.

Instead, I'll post one of the songs we recorded in Nashville this summer.  It's a cover (no infringement intended whatsoever) of Audrey Assad's "Show Me" from her first album "The House You're Building".  I admire her so much as a singer and songwriter.  She has deep, thought provoking lyrics.  She let's you think and dwell on her words... she doesn't just preach... or tell you what to think.  I aspire for that.  I aspire for honest and sincerity and lyrics that dive below the surface.

Of course, tonight as I flipped through my lyric journal, I wanted to rip out every page and start over.   I didn't... but the desire was there.

A sweet, fellow songwriter-to-be, friend told me "Music is music... there are no mistakes".

So here's to another week of honest outpouring and frantic lyric scribbling... 13 days closer to writing the songs I need to write.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 12.... Forgiveness...

We all have someone in our life, possibly long since gone out of your life, possibly within arms length that we need to forgive.  I just read a quote a dear friend of mine had reposted... by the amazingly wise Henri Nouwen.

Forgiveness changes the way we remember.
That needs to be a song.  And I have enough buried emotions and covered up bitterness that maybe it's time to go gravedigging and write a song with the redemption and release...

More on that later and hopefully a new song tomorrow...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 11... Let Me Count the Ways...

I want to be friends with Ann Voskamp. I think we'd make great friends.  We're both farmer's wives.  We have a deep calling to our faith.  Ever since reading her book, One Thousand Gifts (and re-reading it and re-reading it)... I have felt that.  I'd love to sit on the back porch with her with a cup of coffee and just talk.

I'd love to walk around the farm, hear her stories of her farm.

I feel, in my imaginary friendship with her, that she'd point me towards larger truths.  That by some sort of osmosis she'd make me gentler.  Kinder.  Because that is how imaginary Ann Voskamp always is.  I'm sure real Ann has her moments of struggle.  I'm certain of it.  Because she is human.  I'm sure the pedestal others, including myself, have put her on is very daunting.

So, I'd like to get to know the real Ann.  No less beautiful than imaginary Ann... but probably different in many ways.

She and I also share the loss of a sibling to severe tragedy in our early age.  We have each watched our parents grieve the loss that no parent should ever face.  We have each carried the memory of that sibling that the younger ones will never be blessed and cursed to have.

It's in this that I realize that two songs I've been writing need to go together.

I've been writing a song, primarily called 'Bitter Hallelujah' about loss and grief.  About those moments when you have only God to yell at and only God to cling to.

I've also been writing a song called 'Let Me Count the Ways', inspired by Ann's book and her ongoing pursuit of "eucharisteo" or thanksgiving.

They are one song.

It's in the bitter moments that we still need to look for our thankfulness.  For the grace in the moment, because truly "All is Grace".

I may never be blessed to meet Ann Voskamp in real life.

But I think we'd be great friends.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 10... Processes schmocesses...

I have now watched more YouTubes, read more blogs, more interviews and more articles on songwriting than I ever truly thought existed.  Each time, hoping that I will unlock whatever "magic" there was to unlock.  

Should it be lyrics, then music?  

Melody, then verse?  

Surely those that had gone before me and done so with such success and elogance-- surely they had a formula.  

Yes, I know that is silly... 

Songwriting is art, not science.  

It is staff paper,  not graph paper. 

I realize this-- but in my most desperate- I want to write good music if it kills me kinda way- I start to look to others.

Inner turmoil follows. 

And then I came to this conclusion- this music is already in me.  The words are there- they may not yet be unlocked- released or realized- but they are there.  

I may ever be Nichole Nordeman, Adele, Janis Joplin, or Kari Jobe-- and that's ok. I can love and admire their art, and I do!  But their beauty doesn't diminish my own- and it doesn't diminish yours!  You may never write a song or sing a note- but your art is your own- and it's the comparison game and the jealousy that keep some of us from ever sharing who we are and what we've been given.  

I know where my strength and my words come from- I trust in that.  If I think that another artist has words for me- or will unlock that "piece" in me-- then I will never become what I am supposed to be- and I will never write the song I am supposed to write.  It would be like me thinking I will get full from looking at pictures of good food.   I have to get out the ingredients- I have to taste- I have to try-- and I possibly have to throw it all out and start over!   

Time to get back to cookin'!  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 9... Skies Open Wide...

Skies open wide...
Let the heavens collide... 
Show me something greater
than this pain I hold inside... 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8... love

So... I'm a little late getting this post written today.  My apologies... I know you were all waiting with baited breath.  Ha.

It's been a strange day.  Woke up very early, 4am or so... I know when I wake up that early that it's just time to be up.  Usually that means a productive day and it was!  I can get very single-minded and this blog and topic has proven to enhance that.   My kitchen was starting to tell that tale as well.  So I got up, turned on some music and got to work... housework.  It proved very cathartic.

I was able to put some words to rambling thoughts...

I'm struck tonight by love.

My husband loves me.  I'm not always good at accepting his love.  I have this thing about personal space... but he pursues me anyway.   I'm learning how to be loved.  It doesn't come easy for me.  I like to care for others, but am not always easy to care for.

My husband loves me and he let's me be me.  He has always been a wonderful cheerleader.  When I saw beaded jewelry at an art show waaaaay back in our marriage- he didn't flinch when I went to Hobby Lobby and dropped $75 on jewelry making supplies.  When I decided I wanted to try the piano again, he bought me a piano... and then a camera b/c I wanted to try photography... and then a guitar... and then he bought into this crazy idea of me owning a yarn shop.   Now, we're actively homesteading and he's listening to sheep breed information and studying small-scale farming books with me.   And anytime I give the slightest hint that I want to work on a song, he's got his guitar and he's ready to work.   He's also quick to put up the guitar if I look annoyed at the thought of working on a song.

I've never been known like this by another person.

I'm struck by his love.   And his constant encouragement.

I know you're reading this, Kevin.  I love you.  I know I don't always know how to express it, but it's truer today than yesterday and not as true as it will be tomorrow. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 7... What's In a Name?

I've been pouring over recording names for a long time.  I love my own name, don't get me wrong... I love being Sarabeth Parido.  But if you are outside of Clark County, Kentucky, you likely just read that in your head "Par-ee-doe."  Didn't you?  Like Dorito, but with a P.

It's ok.  That's what everyone does.  It gives me a nice, latin flare.  But it's not pronounced that way. 

It's pronounced Pair-a-doe.  Like the Peridot gemstone.  Unless of course you pronounce that PeridoT... in which case-- it's not.  I would take this moment to school you in how to properly pronounce the gemstone, but  Google says you can pronounce it either way-- and Google knows everything.  

But now I'm waaayyy off track here.  

You see, I love my name, but that took a while to explain.  And I want to avoid that.  

Also, it's more than just me.  My music is collaborative.   

So I enlisted the help of my friend, banjo player and music partner, Matt, to help come up with something that fit. 

He kept coming back to the word 'dust'. 

I was dreaming of green things, nature, life.  

And that's when it hit me.  That's what we're made of.   God stuff.  Earth stuff.  It's all in there.  

So I started to text him, completely in the middle of my thought... 

 "Image and Dust"

"Reflections and Dust"

... he was a little confused.   He responded "Is this a song or band name?"

I kept going. 

"Divine Dust"

It was close.  But still not right.  

"Divinity and Dust"

It's all in there.  It's who we are.  And now it's who we claim to be. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 6... Song Sunday-- Grace So Wide

I hope to be able to post a song each Sunday.  Obviously-- these are extremely rough.  This one was recorded on my back porch on my phone-- so, super sorry about the quality.  Could be with or with out accompaniment-- this particular one has two-- two of my favorite musical partners, Kevin Parido, my husband, on guitar and dear friend, Matt Crase, on banjo.

This song is copyrighted by me, Sarabeth Parido, 2013. 

So... there it is.  I am taking a deep breath and hitting 'publish'.  It's a work in progress... and a practice in vulnerability.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5... Why Can't I Write a Song Like That?

"Like that one... or this one... Why can't I write a song like that?"

This is a conversation I've had with myself over the last few days.  A dangerous, self-depricating path looms if I chase that thought too far... but I've started to examine the parts of songs I like... what is it that catches my ear, or stirs my heart.  What's the hook?

I had this conversation last night as I spoke my question aloud to my husband.  

Why can't I write a song like that??

"Like what?  This??  Lady Gaga?!"  

Her latest song "Applause" had come on the radio and I grabbed his hand before he could touch the tuner.   I then spun into my explanation of the art she was conveying.  Yes the song is upbeat, catchy if you like that kind of music.  But I said it spoke to the celebrity wheel of insanity... the addiction of affirmation.  

Not sure he bought it.  

I'm looking for true words.  I want my words to transcend what I'm feeling about the particular situation I am in currently and look for thoughts and ideas that are relevant.  I want to write songs that stick to your ribs.  I don't want to be artsy or over-intellectual (ha!  not much of that here).  I want to sing about true things.  About love.  About hope.  I want to sing kindness into dark, lonely rooms.  

Comparisons can be good.  Looking to other musicians, other artists can be inspiring.  And that's where it has to stay... inspiration.   

So... my question is the same, but the inflection is different. 

Why can't I write a song like that?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4... Saying no to manipulation...

OH boy do I have a song I want to write right now.   I'm full of emotion and I want to use my words like knives and just hurl them at the targets in my scope.

People need to stop being stupid.

Not sure that's a very good lyric.

I want to bend and manipulate and form words that strike guilt into guilty parties.

I had a big moment one day while driving down the road.  I've lived my life being told I was too angry.  Probably, mostly been told that by myself....but I've believed it.  And because I gave those words the weight of truth, live into that belief.  I've wondered why I can become so quickly engulfed in my feelings of outrage or why I my easiest path is of passionate outcry-- and then would become instantly frustrated because I so terribly hate confrontation.  My speeches are well rehearsed in my head yet hardly ever put into action.  The imbalance of feeling so much and speaking so little-- often left me feeling very isolated and explosive.

And then I felt peace.  

"You are a fighter."

We each are made differently, to serve different purposes, to fill separate needs.  I was built to be a fighter.  A warrior.  I was made to be a champion for others.  To fight for them.   When I don't focus this-- or when I let emotion rule the day-- it leaves me feeling out of control and unfulfilled.  My purpose is being manipulated.

I was so at peace in the release of this-- I broke down sobbing.  It was a whisper as quick as a blink-- You are a fighter.

All my questions of why... all my feelings of regret... all my guilt and shame.  Gone.

So yes... right now I'm pretty lit up with emotion.  An injustice occurred and I want to make it right.  But I'm not the villain of this story-- actually there is no villain.   There was a mistake in judgement, and there was them and there was me.  There was us.

So yes,  I have a song to write today... I'm praying for gentle words to do so with.   Not the slap in the face song I wanted to write when I started this post, but a song about a fighter.  A champion.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3... The coming words...

So many words... I literally had to leap out of the shower yesterday to get something written down.  I don't know exactly what they'll become.  Nothing is coming out as a finished lyric... just patches.  Like a quilt.  I sure hope it's something beautiful when it's done.

I have to trust that it will become what it needs to become.

We went to the library yesterday and I checked out about 8 poetry books.  From the book "A Million Little Ways" by Emily P. Freeman,  I want to live into my art-- be the poem.  We may not all be poets, but we are all a poem.  We are all part of the work of art.

I've also been given a deadline.   I need to have songs written and rough recordings made in about 2 weeks.  Time to get serious.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2... Well that was interesting...

So... I wasn't expecting Day One to take so long to write.  Nor was I expecting to spend most of the day in quiet anxiety.  Vulnerability is hard.

I know I said I would talk about recording names today, and that was my best laid plan... but we're going to do that later.   There's something sitting in my soul like a splinter and it needs to see the light.  (ooooh.  was that a lyric right there?)

I want to write music.
I want to write good music.
I want to write good music that is true.

I've been in one of those places lately that I put a lot of thought into what I'm saying.  As an extrovert, I say a lot of things.  Every report card I've ever gotten says "too social, talks too much."  I actually got moved in COLLEGE for talking to a friend in class.  Moved.  In front of everyone.  Like it was 2nd grade.  Awful.  Also, as you see in the last couple sentences, I get off topic easily.  Sometimes I think my mind is going a million miles a minute and though some thoughts don't seem like they run into the other-- trust me, they will... if I can ever get to the point of what I'm saying.

How this affects my songwriting is this... I have words... I have thoughts and I want to say them.  But the thinking and rethinking of what I want to say, how I want to say it leads to a place of stuckness.  Coin that phrase right there.  Stuckness.

I also tread cautiously on what I want to say.  Like I said yesterday, my faith is woven into who I am.  I keep no secret that I'm passionate about my God.  My songs will have an element of worship in them, because that is who I am.  I actually spend a decent amount of time worrying that my friends who don't share my faith will be offended at my sharing-- or not understand in someway-- that it won't be accessible-- but I'm hoping that the sincerity will translate.  My songs will also have a brokennness, a grittiness and honesty about it because that is also who I am.  I've never fit the traditional mold.  I went to a private Christian College for two years, I learned very well that I will never fit that mold.  Here's the truth of that statement-- no one does.    We're all different... and yet we are all loved.  We are all broken and messy- just some of us are more honest about it than others.  I never want anyone left out.  I never want anyone to feel on the outside.   I never want anyone to look at me as if I'm a mold or model to follow- I want to say "Look at me-- I'm broken and awkward and messy and I talk too much!! And I embrace it- because it's beautiful because it's who I am and in all of it-- I'm still LOVED!!"

And so are you.  Right where you are.  Right in the midst.

So, today my song is about this splinter.  This piece sitting here in my heart, festering it's way to the surface.  It's painful and it's uncomfortable.  But I'm tired of being stuck.

Oh.  And yesterday, I found out that GarageBand has guitar lessons.  My husband told me I had upped my ante on this whole 31 Day deal by putting it out there that I would pick up my guitar (I literally have to dust it off-gross.)... but I felt like that was a pretty good sign that I'm moving forward in the right direction.  I'll post pictures later to prove it.

Something's sitting in my soul like a splinter, and it needs to see the light... 
It's been on my heart for such a long time,  It's time to decide between fight... and flight.   

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1... where to begin...

This is actually quite harder to explain than I thought.  Sitting right here at Day One of a month long challenge and I've already hit delete more times than I care to divulge.

Should I begin my saying that I've been musical my whole life?  Should I say that my upbringing in the church led me to sing?  Should I start my saying that finding my faith and finding my voice are so interwoven in my life that I'm not sure there is a way to divide them?   Should I say that as a mom to three amazing sons, I never thought I would dust this dream off and start again?

Uhg.  I'm not exactly sure where to begin. 

photo courtesy of Desiree Rowe Photography
My name is Sarabeth.   I'm a singer.  Always have been.  I can't remember not singing.  I can't remember not loving to sing.  Instantly just from typing that I almost flinch.  "Don't brag." I hear my inner voice say.  Being raised in the church, you are taught not to be "haughty" about what you're good at... at least if you're a singer.  The hens will cluck if you take too much praise.  You learn to say "to God be the glory", even if you like the approval.    It's a thin line between being able to hold your head high and know that you're talented at something and be worried about others thinking you know it.  My parents have always been supportive of my passion for music.  Voice lessons and state choirs, trips all over the place with this choir tour or the next and sitting through multiple showings of the same musical.   Even now, as an adult, I will still look for my parents smiles when they are watching me sing.

Songwriting, though, is a whole other element.  Since high school, I've written a few songs.  Maybe 10  that I would consider letting another human hear.  Maybe less.  Plenty of bad lyrics written and discarded.  Always hindered by self doubt the fact that I don't play an instrument (9 years of saxophone do NOT count-- I was never very good and never enjoyed it-- band was a vehicle for me to do color guard and for me to not take gym-- yep I was that girl.).  I always envisioned myself playing guitar or piano... but they frustrate me... so because I lack patience,  I do not play.  I am, within this month, going to pick up my guitar again, but since I've always let my lack of instrumentation be my excuse to hold me back-- even if I never play-- I will not let it hold me back any longer!  

I've been surrounded by musicians.   I take that as a hint.  A big hint.

So... that's me.  In this next 30 or so days, I'm going to be exploring themes, genres, ideas.  I'll post lyrics occasionally and maybe if I get really really brave... some audio or video.  :)  Be gentle with me.

Working on this lyric today from a recording name idea (more on this tomorrow) one of my music partners and I were discussing--

And from this dust we came...  And to the dust we go... Came into the world with nothing...  And leave only the love we've shown...