“If I cannot fly, let me sing.”
― Stephen Sondheim
I’ve always loved to sing. In elementary school in my babyboomer upbringing, we always started the day with songs. They were usually patriotic in nature – “My Country Tis of Thee” or “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies” sung with heart with our bird-like voices. Then there was nothing like those fun songs I learned at summer camp.
As an adult, I have had to hunt for places to sing (other than the shower). Music has become more of a spectator sport in our culture, a solitary experience of earbuds, or just reserved for churches. How lucky I was when a women’s choir started up six years ago within a driveable distance of my rural home. Every Tuesday night my friend Linda and I drive to 12 miles to McMinnville for practice. It’s work and fun at the same time. We are a community of women united in our voices.
There have been studies done on the mental and physical health benefits of singing in a choir. There is something truly healing by breathing and weaving our voice in with a group of other people. Singing unites us. I can gift to others with my voice and it helps chase away the holiday blues.
The culmination of our efforts is our winter concerts. All the worries of mistakes float away. We walk into the hall, confident, our voices blending in beautiful harmonies facing our audience and sharing our songs. I revel when I see eyes close, smiles on faces, and even a tears running down cheeks.
Practice behind me
Audience before me
The piano preludes
The conductor cues
Now our voices pour from our hearts
Wrapping all in a harmonious cloud
The splendor of song filling the room
Infusing our souls
And those before us
“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.”
― E.Y. Harburg
I came across this lovely prose by Charlotte Eriksson as I perused the Goodreads website today. There is no title and is probably an excerpt from an essay. It is so appropriate for any one who is traveling the creative path…..
“… so this is for us.
This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to.
This is for the times I lose myself while writing, singing, playing
and no one is around and they will never know
but I will forever remember
and that shines brighter than any praise or fame or glory I will ever have,
and this is for you who write or play or read or sing
by yourself with the light off and door closed
when the world is asleep and the stars are aligned
and maybe no one will ever hear it
or read your words
or know your thoughts
but it doesn’t make it less glorious.
It makes it ethereal. Mysterious.
For it belongs to you and whatever God or spirit you believe in
and only you can decide how much it meant
and will forever mean
and other people will experience it too
Through your spirit. Through the way you talk.
Through the way you walk and love and laugh and care
and I never meant to write this long
but what I want to say is:
Don’t try to present your art by making other people read or hear or see or touch it; make them feel it. Wear your art like your heart on your sleeve and keep it alive by making people feel a little better. Feel a little lighter. Create art in order for yourself to become yourself
and let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.
So go create. Take photographs in the wood, run alone in the rain and sing your heart out high up on a mountain
where no one will ever hear
and your very existence will be the most hypnotising scar.
Make your life be your art
and you will never be forgotten.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
Nothing like a couple of seasoned old gals turned loose on our 2017 Irish adventure. I’m on the left with my friend Deb. In our sixties and getting cheekier every day!
It’s not always possible to escape to beautiful places in nature to find serenity. In winter I find serenity with a good book and a nice a cup of nice tea in the comfort of my own home. (Actually these photos were taken last summer in Ireland. The cottage looked so serene I took this photo- but I do love a nice “cuppa”)
My last show is done for the year and perhaps indefinitely. I am relieved to return to my ceramics studio without the stress of deadlines. It’s playtime!
There is so much value in play. I’m talking about for children as well as adults. Taking time to play in an art form gives that other part of our brain a rest that worries and analyzes so our spirits can be released. Unfortunately, our culture undervalues play in favor of productivity. As our schools have stripped the arts from their curriculums in favor of core subjects, the population is becoming culturally illiterate, more plugged in, and more isolated.
Clay is one medium that immediately can turn adults into kids again and turn kids into kids again. It’s tactile, versatile, and gives immediate satisfaction. If you need more play in your life, consider taking a ceramics class. Enjoy the satisfaction of playing in mud again. I wish everyone had access to clay. The world would be a better place.
Hands in Clay
When my hands touch clay
I lose myself
Deep in the soft, smooth sensation of mud
Sliding between my fingers
When my hands touch clay
I am a child at play
With infinite possibilities
When my hands touch clay
I become the earth
When my hands touch clay
I am Navaho, Pueblo, African, Asian, Aborigine
And of the ancient ones
Sharing the spirit of creation
Hidden in the clay
Waiting to be born
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday in the U.S. For the most part, it has escaped the commercialization of the other holidays. We gather, share a feast, and give thanks. What’s not to like? It’s been a tenuous year in our country and abroad, but tomorrow, let’s just forget about it and enjoy the day. All the best to you and yours.
A Poem for Thanksgiving 2017
Come in and have a seat at the table
Ye pilgrims of life
Leave the troubles of the world and your worries
At the door like soiled shoes
Greet your people
Inhale the aromas and
Marvel at the glory of a feast
Prepared by loving hands
Before we raise our forks
Let us pause, join hands and have gratitude
Celebrating all that we have
And all that is possible
For we are still here
Friends and family at the table
Dougan was adopted into our household when he was 8 months old. He was a hyper golden retriever – too much dog for a professional woman and her 10-year-old daughter that owned him before. There was no fenced yard at their house so he spent his days in a travel kennel waiting for his people to return from work and school.
Dogs raised like this are typically neurotic as adults and can never get enough attention and affection. I know because I have had them before. They live good lives out in my fenced yard in the country with plenty of attention. He has been kept company by Bandit, an adorable 9 year old Red Heeler that also has had a questionable past. We are kindred spirits as I too had some rough years in my youth.
Dougie is now over 12, old for a golden retriever. A few weeks ago I thought he was failing as he was refusing food and limping badly. I thought it was the end. Luckily the vet just pulled a few bad teeth and gave him meds his joints and for an injured ligament. We are happy he is back being his silly self. I see myself mirrored in him as I age.
Twelve years of observation
and you know my moods and intentions
without a word being spoken
It’s the landscape of the body
And of the eyes
And maybe a bit of telepathy
You and I intertwined in a cross species dance
You are bound to me like the moon to the earth
And I to you like a tree to a limb
Four legs to two legs
Fur to furless
As your face whitens with age
And your eyes hollow
I know we have measured time
But for now
Walk with me on these country roads
Let me feel your warm presence
By my side
My steady companion
In this tenuous world