Here I am at the studio of Glen Roethel, listening as he puts down an amazing guitar track for a song on my upcoming new CD. Yahoo! At this moment, the name of the CD is "There Are Moments" and I'm super excited about it. I've been recording with Glen for the past few days, and he is a patient, talented, genius producer. Listening back to lead vocal takes is not for the faint of heart, and can put me in a tail spin. But, Glen takes it in stride and coaxes the best out of my voice. At least, that's how it looks and sounds to me!
I can hardly believe how time has flown, but it's just a couple of weeks until the 12th annual Posi Music Fest, 5 days of amazing events for music directors, artists and fans of positive music, held February 23-27 at the Tampa Marriott Westshore.
EmPower co-founder Richard Mekdeci and I always wanted to have an awards show that would be just for the indie artists who are using their superpowers to write songs for world peace, change and positive, intentional topics. Now, of course, Posi Fest is far more than just the awards — it is a huge, one-of-a-kind inspiring community event. It is NOT just for musicians — there are also workshops just for fans on issues such as personal transformation, as well as for music directors and artists looking to write intentional music.
And you can even simply come to the nightly concerts at Posi Fest for just $20 — without even being registered for the events, or just come for a single-day registration! You'll get to hear and rub shoulders with artists you've admired and listened to for years — Karen Drucker, David Roth, Faith Rivera and more. Immerse yourself in positive music, hang out with the artists that create this music and attend workshops geared to using your gifts!
And, don't forget Song School on February 27, a one-day intensive event filled with amazing workshops that are incredibly intimate -- with a maximum class size of six people, which guarantees that your song will be heard by the instructor with plenty of one-on-one time. It's a sacred, focused community of just 30-35 people — not to be missed.
For me, the proudest thing about Posi Fest is that we've created a community where there was not one before. When we started doing this there was no way for any of these positive music artists and fans to come together to celebrate the joy of their music. They traveled parallel paths around the country, but these artists didn’t get to come together and write. Through our conference, many of our artists have begun co-writing, they support each other and have started travel around doing concerts together. It is truly a grass roots organization with lots of support from the artists who come every year to support their fellow musicians even they aren't nominated for an award.
I hope you will join me at Posi Fest!
In early August, I spent an amazing week immersed in music and creativity at SummerSongs, the annual retreat/camp that literally and completely changed my life 12 years ago.
That year, in 2004, I had to be convinced by several people that it was okay to give myself a week in the woods celebrating creativity. My Dad had just died two weeks before, and I was held together by invisible string. I certainly didn't feel strong enough to dive into a room of 100 strangers. And, for those of you who know me well, you'll know that I don't often go anywhere with the word "camp" in the title. I'm a Marriott gal! But, how could I have known at the time the beautiful gifts that SummerSongs would give me because I was open to a new experience.
Love and music rushed in to fill the hollow places carved out by sorrow. I've made lifelong friends from attending that camp, friends who have become my extended family. I've honed my songwriting chops. I am easier on myself, finding the ability to find humor in stressful or challenging situations.
This year, I was honored to be a mentor and coach at this amazing songwriting camp, founded by my dear friend Penny Nichols. I loved the new location at Stony Point Center, with its many programs that focus on interfaith and several young people from different cultures who live there and share dialog, all working for peace and understanding.
As I write, I am on my way to New York to gather up 5 friends and connect with our flight to Ireland.
Yes, I'm going back again, even after my less than ideal trip last year. I have been upgraded to business first, which I'm taking as an amazing omen of good fortune (and comfort). I am in love with Ireland and her generous people. I love the scones for breakfast, the musical lilt of people's voices, the mournful melodies of traditional ballads, and the countryside with it's many hues of green and pastures of sheep. It's weird, I've never felt this connected to any other place that I've visited. To me, it seems that Ireland has the soul of music. One of the things that I find so fascinating is that the seasoned professional musicians all seem to be mentoring one or more young musicians. Even in the pubs you will find 15 year old boys with their dads who have been "sitting in" with well known musicians for years. What a beautiful way to instill the love of traditional music and instruments in the young people. It's like learning the language of a country, and in Ireland, that language is music.
I am co-hosting a trip with Tom Kimmel, and since the entire country of Ireland apparently has NO pianos, I have been practicing guitar. Frantically. The talented Glen Roethel taught me 4 traditional songs off of CDs that I bought in Ireland on my first trip. I think I can do this if I can remember all of the words. It actually took me longer to figure out how to sync the songs to my Iphone than it did to learn to play them.
Next year when I renew my passport, I'm getting my niece Sage a passport so that she can travel with me. I want her to experience the pure joy and wonder of international travel.
So off I go, armed with travel insurance and excitement. To be continued!
PS: I flew to New York this morning and a lovely elderly Haitian woman died of an apparent heart attack on the flight, ten minutes before we landed. the crew was amazing as was the ground team. Very scary to be have a medical emergency on a flight. I'm sending out prayers for her eternal unfolding.
At 8 years old I was the picture of total cluelessness. Shy, so shy that I was barely able to speak. Terribly thin, like a stick figure; all bony arms and legs with a neck so scrawny it’s a miracle that my head didn’t droop as I walked around. At every meal, Grandpa would tell me about his brother who had died of malnutrition. I guess he was worried that the same thing might happen to me. I just didn’t care that much about food unless Grandpa made me waffles, which I was crazy about.
I was musical, always singing (a good thing since I rarely spoke). I also loved to read and always had my nose in a book. Grandpa had another grim prediction for too much reading, so if malnutrition didn’t get me I could look forward to going blind from reading in dim light.
For a reason known only to my 8 year old mind, I delighted in making weird faces, with crossed eyes and tightly clenched jaws. There are many pictures where I look like an asylum escapee; bony and thin, with my arms crossed as in self-defense and with a horrifyingly weird facial expression. Not to miss an opportunity for departing wisdom, Grandpa predicted that my face would freeze like that and I would wander through life on my stick legs, skirting malnutrition with a wobbly head and a ghastly grimace on my face.
My grandmother was very creative and often sewed all of the grandkids matching clothing. I have an amazing old photo of my great grandmother Daisy with her 9 great grandkids around her, all dressed in matching red and black striped flannel pajamas that Nanny had made. Eight of the kids looked angelic, and then there was me with my very best malnourished, lunatic expression. Grandma Daisy just looked stunned. Oh, the good old days!
Time marches on and things have changed, thank goodness.
I’m not shy anymore, I still love to sing, I also sew, I don’t grimace (much), and malnutrition is no longer a concern….but, I do buy bright light bulbs to read by. Grandpa might be right about the dim light…. Why tempt fate?
'm practicing gratitude this month as I prepare to celebrate my birthday in August
I recently left on a long anticipated trip to Ireland. It was to be a musical tour with friends and I was super excited to go. But, the universe decided that I was going to do an “alternative tour”, a forced tour of the Irish medical systems. This is SO not what I had in mind when I bought my plane ticket. However, it was an unexpected opportunity to see other forms of medical treatment, gain new gratitude for the US medical system, and see firsthand the resilience and spirit of the amazing Irish people.
From the hour and a half ambulance ride over bumpy roads to the 10 hour stay in the Emergency room in Galway University Hospital, every part of this experience was different and surreal. Neither the doctor in Clifton, nor the ambulance drivers asked me for insurance information or money. Riding in the backseat of a vehicle hurtling down rough roads, which I’m strapped into a gurney facing backwards is right at the top of my horror list. And, yet I survived. The attendants were as funny as stand up comics, and did everything in their power to keep me amused and distracted from the harrowing road trip. The medical staff in the teaching hospital was top notch, courteous and super cute. That made the whole experience more fun! I’ve never spent that much time in an ER (thankfully), and it was sobering to watch triage from a front row seat. They have closed many of the Irish hospitals, and they have about 7 for the whole country. It was like being in an ant hill, teeming with staff and patients pouring in the doors from all over the country. I am more appreciative than ever of those who are called to the medical profession, calm and professional in the face of crisis. I could not do it.
My friends know that I collect Santa Claus figures, so when I was moved to the Saint Nicholas Ward at midnight, it was like a little chuckle from the universe. It was a mixed ward, meaning there were 8 other men and women in it. I’ve never experienced that before. I’ve always had a private or semi private room at our hospitals. Imagine one bathroom with 9 people. The Irish are very resilient.
I was finally moved to a 4 person ward with a window the next day so that I could at least look at Ireland. The window was open as there was no air conditioning in the hospital. The privacy was a curtain you could pull around your bed. The curtains were covered with musical instruments….how grand! You really can’t make this stuff up.
All in all, it was an opportunity for me to rest, even though that wasn’t high on my list of things to do. I was forced to completely stop and rest. There were no phones, no TVs, no distractions since all of my friends were happily on the tour. I did have internet and a book. No amount of begging caused the Irish surgeon to let me out of the hospital early, which dismayed me. In fact, I checked myself out on his day off, otherwise, I might still be there!
I’ve been thinking of the blessings of this alternative tour of Ireland. First, I really appreciate our medical system, flawed though it sometimes is. The staff at the Galway Hospital was giving excellent care in spite of being in a facility that would fit right into a Charles Dickens movie. Also, we may complain about hospital food, but generally we can eat it even though it might be bland. I couldn’t eat their food, and they offered only 2 options and NO concierge service.
The staff at Inishfree Tours, which is run by Posi Musician John Smith, couldn’t have been more supportive and caring. Sheila and Frank Tiernan, who run the Bed and Breakfast where the tours stay the first night, drove to Galway twice to visit me. This was an hour and a half journey each way, during Race Week (with tons of people in town). She brought me all the things I assumed would be supplied by the hospital, like pajamas, shampoo, soap, bottled water, and candy….yes, she knows me well! Sheila and Frank are forever friends from their kindness when I truly was a stranger in a strange land (that at least spoke English).
It’s very humbling and a little scary to be in a hospital in a foreign country.
I’m grateful for Trip Insurance that I bought at the last minute since I really thought it was a waste of money as I didn’t plan on missing the trip. The insurance company was on top of my care from the moment that I contacted them. Most importantly, they are going to pay the hospital bill and the part of my trip that I missed. Thank you God! I will always have Trip Insurance when I travel internationally.
I’m grateful for the amazing people on the tour who all wrote me emails to check up on me and tell me that the tour wasn’t the same without me. These acts of kindness helped keep me calm and in good spirits when I realized that the doctors had no intention of letting me out in time to rejoin the tour. Peter, who drives a cab for the Inishfree tours, drove to Galway to get me so that I didn’t have to navigate the train and bus systems with my luggage after just getting out of the hospital. He delivered me to the wonderful care of Sheila and Frank, who pampered me, fed me, picked up my medicine and delivered me to the airport the next morning just in time to say goodbye to all of my tour friends and to catch my homeward flight. I am a HUGE fan of Inishfree tours.
I am sure there are blessings in this. Right now, what I know for sure is that I’m grateful for caregivers and deeply compassionate for all of those friends who are going through their own healing experiences. We all know people who would love a visit, a call, or a thoughtful card or email to let them know they’re on our minds. I’m on it!
Greetings friends, and welcome to my new, improved website.
It's December, that magical month, close to the time when we release the old and embrace the new. I love the month of December. I love being a singer songwriter...it is so amazing to paint your emotions with lyrics. One of my favorite things to do is to write from prompts and one of my favorite "prompters" is Sloan Wainwright. Here are my "free writes" from Summersongs this year.
Taking a Detour:
Caution! Roadwork Ahead!! Breakdown, fallout, turn right...take the alternate road. It might be one that you're not as familiar with. It won't add much travel time but what a chance to see new trees, and new places. Would I ever have turned here if I didn't have to? Go with the flow, be willing/unwilling...it doesn't matter because the steps are the same but the outcome will be altered by how I react to the detour. Really, it's a temporary thing, UNLESS I like this new way better. I can't decide right away, I have to sit with it awhile and think.
This detour is all mapped out for me, no decisions are necessary~but, just like my friendly GPS says "I can recalculate". I might intentionally miss a turn or turn too soon and find a different way to get there...who knows who else might be taking that same, different road that day. Moments, flashing shooting stars of opportunity. I want to reach out, to grab it, to examine it before the light fades, sputtering out. How did I get here: Away from the familiar, away from the routine? I say yes...why not?