Browsing Tag

music

Guest Posts, motherhood, No Bullshit Motherhood

Making it to the Other Side

July 2, 2017
daughter

By Heidi Fettig Parton

“I’m too old to camp at a festival,” I told my twenty-two year old daughter, Hannah, when she asked me to join her at the Eaux Claires music festival in Wisconsin. Besides, it wasn’t good timing. My six-year old, Josh, was recovering from his third, and most extensive, middle ear surgery. Since Josh had entered the world in 2009, I’d been declining or canceling invitations on account of his health issues, which stemmed from middle ear disease to sensory processing disorder. But here was Hannah, romantically unattached and career-focused, eager to spend time with me, the mother who’d fostered her love of music festivals.

After surviving the wreckage of my 2002 divorce, I’d decided to expose my children of that marriage, Hannah and Ethan, to experiences instead of things. We lived far differently than we had during my marriage to my ex-husband: we lived in a simple house; we read books instead of watching TV; we ate bulk legumes and rice from the food co-op. During the seven years between my first and second marriage, I spent any extra money on adventures. Hannah learned well. Continue Reading…

Beauty Hunting, Guest Posts

No Fun

March 1, 2017

By Andrea Lani

The opening act is made up of a motley assortment of pretty girls in glasses, tall skinny boys with ponytails, and short chubby boys with bad haircuts. My friend Jennifer and I joke that they look like they met at math camp. There seems to be an excess of both bodies and instruments on stage, which furthers the summer camp talent-show vibe. When they close out their set, Jennifer and I pry ourselves off the flocked-wallpaper we’ve been leaning on, toss out our drink cups, and worm our way toward center-stage, landing in what would be about the fourth row, if there were rows of chairs instead of a wide-open floor space.

Onstage, technicians uncoil cords, test microphones, pluck guitar strings. When I had worried about being too old to attend this concert, in a city an hour away from home, on a work night, I reminded myself that Richard Butler, the lead singer of The Psychedelic Furs is much older than I. Looking around, I see that most of the people crowding around us are closer to his age than mine. Directly ahead of us, a man and woman, both with gray hair, stand up against the stage. I try to edge away from the couple standing too close to me, also late middle-aged, he standing behind her with his hands in her pockets. Continue Reading…

death, Guest Posts, Truth

Some Thoughts On The Day John Lennon Died

December 8, 2015

By Jonathan Jones

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Whenever I think of the opening line to De Maurier’s  Rebecca, I’m aware of a telling gap, not only in my reading, but also my own memory. It has always managed to evoke, even echo a thought I often had as a child on waking, that it was still dark outside.  A news report coming in, confused by static. Maybe a radio in another room, light downstairs.  It was like at first, nothing had happened, a recurring dream that spoke with a voice both present and at the same time absent. My father told me once that the name he initially thought he heard when he turned on the news was “Lenin.” Apparently it took him a few moments to realize, it wasn’t the Tsar’s Winter Palace going up in flames. All that chaos and violence and shooting and the promise of a new world waiting at the end. I sometimes wonder if he remembers telling me that story, waking up one winter morning to a different name, the definitive end of another era.

The first picture I remember seeing of John Lennon was the Double Fantasy album cover. It’s an image that seems to float around my childhood with a vengeance. The day Lennon died I must have gone to school, although I don’t recall any special announcement at assembly, or anything that stands out to tell me I was present that particular day.  All I know is at some point I was in bed and I knew it was still too early to get up, because it was still dark outside. Beyond that, only my parents movements below me and the front door closing, as my father left for work. It was years before I realized what had happened and by then it was a memory fashioned by snippets of TV and the film footage, flaky in its original transmission. But a memory nevertheless, which had nothing to do with the real memory of my dad closing the door, as he left the house that day.

I was five years old at the time and to be honest can’t say for sure, what my own feelings were on the subject. It’s all too easy to suggest our earliest memories reveal some telling inner glimpse into the adults we grow into. Yet when I think back, the years between my fifth and fifteenth birthday rarely found a clearer point of reference.  The Eighties were too bright, too colorful  by comparison to that  day in December. T.V. that brought us up on game shows and  cheap nostalgia.  Back then trying to teach myself to whistle Jealous Guy, I knew the tune was how I felt for a long time, a permanent angst for the same city he came from. It was a post-lapsarian landscape I remember as a kid, muddy brown, tarmac cracked, whole streets abandoned and boarded up. The docks still so majestic and so tragic in their derelict hollows. A city I only knew from a distance, with its accent and its humor and its tough working intellect. Continue Reading…

death, Family, Grief, Guest Posts, loss, motherhood

Black Lace: On Music, Motherhood, and Loss

November 18, 2015

By Geri Lipschultz

Nothing is sexier than black lace, nothing more deadly.  When it’s cut in a circular shape, one slips the bobby pin inside, fixing it there into your hair.  With the black lace thus covering, you can show respect upon entering a synagogue or a funeral parlor where your mother is, before she will be buried.  It may only be nine months after your father died that she developed the cancer, less than three months before it would kill her—and in between that time, that is, in between the two deaths, you, at forty-six, would deliver a girlchild in darkening November. With the lace in your hair, you are holding the girlchild in your arms.

My daughter’s love for me was palpable.  A friend had seen her spirit when the baby was in utero.  Her shade was long, Tibetan, a tall thin dark man who sat on my shoulders and wrapped his legs around me, put his head upon my head. Cradled me. Farfetched or not, this was the feeling of this baby. Loving, attached, but withdrawn among strangers, whereas my son would work to catch the stranger’s eye.  Born eleven years before, my son had colic. I held him, and he cried. Even his entrance into the world came with a face of doubt, a scowl of woe.  He was covered in meconium, an expression of his discontent?  My daughter swam into life, looked up, surveyed it, said it was good.  Did my daughter know she was conceived in wedlock?

I was already married a year when I found out I was actually pregnant, for the second time, at forty-six, and I called my mother to tell her this.  She expressed something that sounded like horror.  I asked her if she was horrified, and she said that she was worried.  I was too old.  She was in her seventies.  The other grandchildren, my sisters’ kids, were teenagers, mainly.  My son, David, was ten.  He would be eleven when Eliza was born.  I told my mother to please keep her horror to herself.  I told her I was thrilled, that she should pray for a healthy baby, preferably a girl, for me, and if she was worried, to please not inflict it on me.  It vaguely reminded me of my writing, the once or twice I’d shown her what I’d written, her inability to take it in, her tendency to read too much into the stories.  I wrote stories, fiction. The lace of words, of black on white, the way stories gush up into images. You turn something terrible into something beautiful. I made things up.  If it was good I made it bad—some bit of salt or pepper or honey to change the flavor. If I told the truth, I would feel guilt, but the truth can hide behind a lie. It can light up the sky. For a long time after my mother died, I felt the guilt of someone who did not do enough because she could not cope, could not take in the loss. I was in the thick of motherhood, myself.

Black lace is what’s left when the mother is gone. A string of memories, a household full of items, tangible and laden and one day all of her furniture and even her wastebaskets would be sent to your house, because you were the one without a real job, just adjunct teaching and the pittance you made from your writing. Not to mention the insecurity of your marriage. Sometimes, if you could, you would take a match to the world. Sometimes it felt as if someone had. Can you admit the waters of grief? Stunned, after your mother’s death, you walked away brittle, unfeeling, protective, pretending. This has become your way with any kind of loss, until music arrives with its stream of the eternal, its messages, its images, its notes and rests and etchings. Continue Reading…

Addiction, Beating Fear with a Stick, Guest Posts

What Happens When You Live Next To Your Worst Nightmare?

September 22, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Renata Youngblood.

I had a good conversation with my meth-addict neighbor the other day.

You see, something switched in me when there was yet-another raid next door last Thursday. I’ve seen the tweakers come and go for a while and at times it bothered me, but for the most part I felt only a compassionate sadness for the lives wasted in addiction. I’m even guilty of finding humor in some of the characters we’ve witness showing up in broad daylight barely able to walk to the door of this partially painted, infinitely haunted, next door monstrosity.

But something definitely switched inside me at 5 am last Thursday when I was up with my hungry baby and heard the visiting tweakers rifling through their car right in front of my house.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing

What You Do When The Sh*t Hits The Fan (or When Cancer Comes Back.)

April 28, 2013

One of my tribe members, Kathleen Emmets, from my Kriplalu retreat sent me this beautiful piece show wrote and I just had to share. Please send love and dance parties.

What You Do When The Sh*t Hits The Fan (or When Cancer Comes Back.) by Kathleen Emetts.

I am the queen of the mixtape.

Boyfriend broke up with you? I’ve got a playlist for you. Need an intense workout mix? I will have you running at top speed, no problem. Diagnosed with cancer at 35? Hmmm…it just so happens I have a great mix for that, too.

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer on July 19th, 2011, I felt lost, scared and pissed…really pissed. This isn’t supposed to happen to someone my age. What kind of fuckery is this? It didn’t make sense. So on July 20th, I did what I always do when I feel untethered; I made a playlist.

I labeled this one ‘Survivor’. It started with Melissa Etheridge’s, ‘I Run For Life’ and ended with The Beatles ‘Let It Be’. Some songs in between were motivational, some just allowed me to cry. They quickly became the soundtrack for healing both my body and my spirit. And God knows I needed both.

During 18 months of grueling chemotherapy, I lost my hair and often my ability to walk. The drugs I was on limited my mobility, causing my hands and feet to lock up. My once trademark strut turned into a sad, slow shuffle.

This lasted for about 4 days after treatment; which I received every 2 weeks. But, as soon as I was able to move again, that playlist was on and I was dancing!

I will fully admit to not being the best dancer in the world. The only thing worse than my dancing is my singing, which I do at full volume…neighbors be damned. To be able to move my body again, to allow the power of music to recharge my soul made me feel alive. It was my companion during the darkest hours of my life. It also helped me to celebrate the amazing moment when I was told treatment was over…cancer free! So many long walks by the beach; listening to Louis Armstrong’s, ‘What A Wonderful World’ and smiling as I watched the sunset.

I made meditation playlists to calm me when I went for scans, which always brought anxiety and fear. But no amount of Snatam Kaur could alleviate the stress from this latest one. The cancer was back and it was spreading. Damn it. Body shaking sobs erupted; my hands balling into angry fists that punched my thighs. During the ride home from the hospital, I didn’t play my music, I didn’t do anything except stare out the window and allow my tears to fall.

Phone calls were placed, visitors arrived, life stood still once more. But it never stands still, does it? It keeps going along whether you want it to or not.

So many times I want to hit pause. Like when my son hugs me. Pause. Let me breathe you in. Hold on to me forever. Don’t let go. When my family is all around me. Pause. Look at me while I’m healthy. Remember me this way. When I’m dancing. Stop…hammer time! Or collaborate and listen…or stop in the name of love. Whatever the reason, just stop and dance. We take it all too seriously.

If I could do it all again, I would trust more. Trust that life works out the way it is supposed to. Trust that we don’t always see the larger picture until years later and maybe, even then, it won’t totally make sense. But it does eventually. Trust in that.

Dance more, sing more…sing badly. Who cares?? Anyone listening will envy your free spirit. And if they don’t, screw ’em. Like I said, who cares?? I dance everywhere now; in my car, in my kitchen, at Starbucks…if you’re ever behind me, join in and we can start a conga line.

Yesterday I began my new chemo pill regime. It’s a pretty intense dosage and I’m praying it does its job.

This morning in the shower I was blasting Katrina and the Waves’, ‘Walking On Sunshine’ and dancing around while I scrubbed my hair with shampoo. As I pulled my hands away I noticed far too many strands had fallen out. Pause. I sunk to the shower floor as the music faded away. I began to cry for all that I had been through and all I was, again, about to face.

I allowed this moment and then I got up, hit play again and kept on dancing because, sometimes, that’s all we can do.

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Kathleen Emmets is an avid music lover and yoga enthusiast. She believes in seeking out the good in all things and being her most authentic self. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen and Do You Yoga. She writes about her experience with cancer in her blog, cancerismyguru.blogspot.com. Kathleen lives in East Norwich, NY with her husband, son, 2 cats and dog. She does not necessarily love them in that particular order. You can find her on Facebook here.