Songwriting With a Baby On My Knee

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IMG_4179My five-month-old baby, Aviva keeps me busy every moment. She also keeps me entertained, inspired, awe-struck, and speechless. I am a songwriter, learning who I am all over again now in the light of having become a mother. Still I am no less a songwriter now than I ever was. So I am learning how to write songs all over again, in tiny increments of time, dipping my toes in the stream of inspiration without the luxury of diving in, splashing around and soaking in it. The stream is still there for me and I have developed a new appreciation for every drop of water that I draw from it, every 10-minute-nap-sized sip. Now with 5 months of practice under my belt, I am by no means an expert, but I thought I’d share a bit about what I’ve learned.

  • 1.) Much of the songwriting process requires no instrument at all. To start, all you need is an open ear, a soft heart and a way to record your ideas (like old-school pen and paper and/or a recording device like an iPhone). I’m learning to listen in silence to find the tune and to think through what I’m really trying to say. I like to start the day with a journal entry while I nurse the baby to check in and see where my heart wants to go. Often my mood and subject of focus will direct me to work on a particular song. While I’m rocking, nursing, diapering, whatever, I can be thinking, dreaming, humming, imagining. . . (always recording each step because my memory is a little looser than it used to be ; )
  • 2.) Singing acapella makes your melody really strong, because you are not burying or masking it with instrumental riffs, chord changes, and musical tricks. When it’s bare you can tell if you really love to sing it. That’s when you know you are on to something great.
  • 3.) Babies love to be sung to. Writing songs is a natural daily occurrence for even the least musically-inclined new mom. There is something instinctual about singing to a baby in those private, cuddly-babbly moments, and there are always reasons to sing: good morning songs (yes, even though it’s 6am), bath-time songs, fifth-outfit-change-of-the-day songs, desperate lullabies, etc. Nonsense words work as good as any real ones and you have the most captive and appreciate audience you will ever have. I’m not saying that the songs you sing about stinky-pants are going to become hits, but the songwriting wheels are greased and rolling. Now you just have to get your mind out of goo-goo-ga-ga and remember what your own heart wants to really say. (see #1)
  • 4.) Great achievements can be accomplished in small increments. (Just look at all the exercise DVDs marketed to busy moms that boast an enviable body in only 10 minutes a day.) It’s the same principle here, really. Flex those songwriting muscles often, stretch your rhyme legs, keep your vocals loose and light. It’s much easier to give yourself 10 minutes for a free-writing exercise than to wait till you have a few hours alone in a quiet room (which may never happen again in your life). Learning to use those small increments wisely is the part that takes discipline and creativity.
  • 5.) Write like it’s your job. Songwriting is often the first thing to be bumped off my to-do list. (If this sounds like you too, I highly recommend the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield) The trick is to keep bringing your mind back to the song throughout the day and not just be distracted by the endless laundry, “urgent” emails and the always-available electronic candy all around (Facebook, television, etc). Do what needs to be done, but keep coming back to the song.
  • 6.) Seek out inspiration for a kick-start. As I mentioned in #2, babies love music. So put on some great music and listen deeply while you dance around with the baby. (this is a good way to get you that enviable body mentioned in #4 too) Listen to songwriters who inspire you to write, and who set the bar high, who blow your mind with great lyrics and make your heart ache with their melodies. Challenge yourself to improve your artistry by surrounding yourself with great art.
  • 7.) Give baby full and focused attention first so she’s happy, then she will be more likely to let you work for a few minutes here and there because she feels secure and loved. (We like to do mommy and baby yoga together which is a win-win because it puts me in the right head-space to write and makes her feel like I am wrapped around her finger, which I am.)

Songwriter moms and dads, please feel free to add your own tips and discoveries in the comments section!

If you’re in the Ann Arbor area and you’d like to explore the songwriting process with me, sign up for my upcoming class – Mondays in March at Oz’s Music Environment.  For info:  https://www.facebook.com/events/516746251757894/

Mother-In-Training

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I’ve been a mother-in-training my whole life.

Of course much of what I’ve learned about motherhood comes from my own mother.  (that’s her, pictured above, at my baby shower)  She is the angelic type – self-sacrificing, gentle, humble (almost to a fault) – wise and always seeking wisdom from higher sources. (She is a prayer-warrior and like me, she’s a self-professed “self-help junkie”)  She’s hacked her way through a pretty straight and upright path, which I find my own feet wanting to follow, however more clumsily and meandering.

Over the last 9 months I’ve gotten so much parenting advice from friends, family, in-laws, strangers.  Pets are like “parenting 101” and nieces/nephews are like “dress rehearsal”.  But I believe we are often taught our most important lessons in the most unexpected places – like the Karate Kid learning to wax cars.  I was talking with a friend recently about motherhood and I kept going back to this thought – there are so many things I’ve learned on tour with my band that I believe were actually disguised lessons in motherhood.

Here’s a list of some of them:

-The show must go on.  (The great cliché of a performer’s life.)  This one may be obvious, but I have truly had to power through some ridiculously difficult situations over the years– and not just get through – but put on a show regardless. I’ve had to smile and perform through physical ailments (bronchitis, strep-throat, many sinus infections, a killer hangover or two, PMS, and most recently: pregnancy), practical distractions (major sound problems, bug-swallowing, inclement weather), and the deepest kinds of challenges (emotional train-wrecks, worrisome news, and even the death of a loved-one).  Each experience gave me a glimpse into my own well to see just how deep it goes.  I have no doubt that I will have to draw deeply from this well many times as a mother and trust that I will have the resources I need to get through any trials that will inevitably come.

-Never fight in front of the audience.  Believe it or not, relationships are not always easy to manage when you’re sharing a tiny space with lots of people for long, uncomfortable periods of time, often with less then ideal sleep and nutrition.  (That actually sounds like it might have been practice for the first few weeks with a newborn!)  But whatever comes up, the rule is that arguments have to stay in the green room.  Once you hit the stage, the switches must flip to “show” mode.  I am grateful that my parents did not fight in front of my brothers and I, so I am determined to keep any grown-up disagreements back-stage as well.

Make a set list, but feel out the crowd.  When stepping onto the stage you have to have a plan, but you can’t hold too tightly too it.  A live performance is full of living, shifting energy; the dynamic of the night is unpredictable.  A performer has to be ready to add or cut songs with a swift decision and change gears based on the crowd’s reaction (or lack of reaction). It seems that planning my daily life with a babe in arms will require a similar willingness and ability to turn on a dime.  Learning to read and respond to the mood and needs of my baby will require these same skills: keen observation and quick decisions.

-Be prepared to improvise.  In general, this may be the most important lesson I’ve learned:  how to be flexible.  Growing up I was painfully shy – a Type-A planner; a classically trained, eyes-glued-to-the-music performer.  I liked rules and schedules.  While I’m no free-jazz artist now, my very nature has changed to become more liquid because of the life I have chosen. Improvisation requires you to be caught up completely in the moment, responding to the chord changes and beat, ever shifting, creating, and listening.  In the bridge of the song I wrote for my mother (Tomorrow River) I wrote: “There is a way a mother bends to take any necessary shape” – This is the flexibility that is required for motherhood. The music itself has taught me both how to trust and how to surrender.

-A smile and a dance can distract from many a mistake.  I’m talking about putting on a show – creating memories, having fun.  When you stand at the microphone you have the power to set the tone of the night.  A mother can set the mood of the whole house – good or bad.  A smile is contagious. I always have to remind myself that this is not about perfection – no one is counting the wrong notes, the missed cues, the questionable decisions.  Kids and audiences alike want to be distracted.  They want to believe in the magic of the show, the healing power of a kiss to their “boo boo” – they want to know that they are in good hands and everything will be ok.

-It takes a team.  I’ve learned to truly count on my band mates, manager, booking agency, interns, merch attendants and street teamers – not because they don’t ever let me down, but because I need them.  We need each other.  Putting together a traveling show, running a pop-up marketplace and marketing a small business is a lot of work.  I don’t know why it took me so long to learn to delegate, but I’m glad I’ve finally figured it out.  I’m glad that I am getting better at asking for help and also better at trusting people to do their jobs so I can just focus on my own.  Sometimes that means letting those tasks get accomplished with less of the finer details.  I think of parents letting their kids “help” with chores around the house, mothers letting their husbands do the laundry (at the risk of a few shrunken sweaters)  The key to this whole system working is letting go.

All of this is not to say that I feel prepared to be a mother exactly.  Though my childless days are numbered (likely down to the single-digits), I can’t help but feel that my training isn’t going to end the moment I hear my baby’s cry.   Instead, I’m certain that I have much yet to learn, and I welcome those lessons wherever they come from.

Planning the Un-plannable

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There is a black hole on my calendar where there once were lines and numbers.  The neat little boxes continue marching forward on the other side, innocently numbered and penciled with plans.  Each day pushes me one day closer to that gaping mystery between here and the rest of my life.  I have come to the edge of something new: two blank white months that can’t be predicted or planned, and a life beyond it that will be forever different.

This life that I have come to know and understand is quite unlike most lifestyles.  To be on the road for a living is to be a professional improvisational artist.  You have to roll with the punches, read between the lines, work hard through illness, storm and trouble and sleep whenever and wherever you can get it.  But there is a shape and a rhythm to it, and every day has a schedule.  Dates are booked, contracts drawn, maps consulted.

After today, there is only one more show booked before the break we’re calling a “maternity leave”.  I’ve come to the last rung on the monkey bars and there’s nothing to do but drop.  And wait.

During this “maternity leave” I have lots of ideas about what to do with my time while I’m waiting for the baby to be born.  I am not worried about being bored.  My intentions include songwriting, practicing, quilt-making, cleaning and organizing, self-nurturing, spending time alone with my husband, visiting family, and hanging out with friends. It’s exciting and terrifying to have time on my hands, just as it’s exciting and terrifying that this baby can choose to arrive at any time.

It’s those dates that march forward beyond the baby’s birthday in a never-ending line – those days ahead when I will forget what life was like before this new person arrived in my world – days full of learning and constant wonder and love deeper than I have ever known – those are the days that I can’t comprehend from my current position.  Yet, I am required to fill them in with my dumb little pencil as if I know anything.  Everybody asks me – what are you going to do?  So, I am making plans.  I am planning the days based on the only life I know, knowing that I am either choosing wisely or laying traps for my future self to learn from the pitfalls.  With prayer and humility, together with our band mates, management and booking agency, my husband and I are planning our “Brave New Baby” tour.

The plan requires something we don’t yet have, which is a vehicle to get there.  We have been searching for a long time, but haven’t been able to afford the kind of wheels we really need to make this traveling family lifestyle work in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.  So we are casting our line of hope out into the world with a new Kickstarter campaign (from now till August 18th) to help us raise money to buy what we need for those un-plannable days ahead.  We’re exercising our muscles of faith and trust.  We’re giving up the reigns, believing that good things are ahead, a good God is watching over us and good people are willing to help.  It would be harder to believe if it hadn’t been the story of our lives so far.

Forever Expecting

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When you know that a big change is coming, life’s daily features take on new colors.  There is a new gravity to the actions and words you choose.  I felt similarly years ago when I decided to move away from my childhood home in Buffalo.  The last few months at home I was playing out the time, making the last moves in a long game that was coming to a conclusion. I had no idea what lay ahead of me in Michigan or how much my life would change, but I knew that I would never be the same.

Preparing for a change like this tilts the whole landscape.  I remember the first time I pulled into my own driveway after finding out I was pregnant (after having been away from home for a week).  Like a garden after a thunderstorm, my house was the same place it had always been, but it had taken on a surreal quality to my eyes, lit by a strange new light.  (Paul Simon’s lyric comes to mind “Nothing is different but everything’s changed”)  I suddenly wanted to fix it up – paint the shingles and get a new roof.  I wanted to take better care of our garden and bleach all the corners of the floors.  All these thoughts rushed in at once as I turned off the car.

I love that pregnancy is called “expecting”.  To expect is to hope, but it’s more than that – it is to believe that what you hope for will surely come into being.  Expecting allows little room for doubt.  I mean, there are plenty of details to doubt and worry about along the way, but the ultimate conclusion is pretty well set.  Whether I am ready or not there will be a baby when the hourglass drops its last grain of sand.

Life during these times of expectation becomes a countdown.  All you can do in the meanwhile is live out the days in the glow of what lies ahead. To be pregnant (pregnant with expectation) is to be obsessed.  Suddenly every action, every decision, every bite of food and sip of drink is weighed and measured by a new standard.  It is an awareness that consumes every waking moment.  It forces us to live in the present, to be conscious, careful, and grateful.  Everything feels so temporary, which makes it feel so much more special.

I hope I can continue to carry this feeling forward long after my babe is in arms and my belly is back in shape (we are talking about hoping here ; )  I want to always live with this air of expectation.  Knowing that “This too shall pass” (good or bad) is all the more reason to tolerate life’s pains, to cherish life’s joys, and to always be looking forward even as our feet trudge through the hours of each passing day.

Maybe there are some new grads who can relate to this in their own way.  Or maybe you’re taking on a new job, moving to a new city, getting married, launching a new project, etc.  You are expecting, much like I am.  Let’s hold on to that feeling.

“Yet I know that good is coming to me – that good is always coming; though few have at all times the simplicity and the courage to believe it.” –George MacDonald

A Good Time To Be Born

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A Good Time To Be Born

Fear is a virus – so easy to catch – and when it runs its course it can be debilitating.  I often write songs about overcoming fear because it is a message I truly need to repeat over and over.  It makes me feel empowered to sing from the perspective of a fear-junkie who has beaten the bug.  My own lyrics – these words were gifts to me, wrapped in a melody – they only ever make it to the stage if they bear repeating.

Something new that I am learning about fear: it’s one thing to fear for yourself and it’s another thing to fear for your child.  For the first couple of weeks that I knew I was pregnant Randy really wanted to keep it a secret, just in case it didn’t work out.  This was how we were advised and it seemed like wisdom.  So my first experience with pregnancy before I could talk about it openly with anybody was fear.  That first fear, the fear of miscarriage, in that early stage makes it hard to celebrate the good news.   Then came the paranoia.  Addiction to Google searches can put a pregnant girl’s fear on steroids.  People love to tell their horror stories, they love to judge and warn to spread old-wives-tales and rumors, maybe even with good intentions.    It’s enough to make even a healthy person feel like a crack addict.  Everything that touched my lips, my skin, even fumes in the air made me worry and I found myself constantly typing every worry into that little Google box.  Sure enough almost all of it came back with a big fat red NO as an answer.  I was so paranoid about doing things wrong that when I first went out with my friend Shelly and told her the news she was like “Girl, you’ve gotta get excited about this – you seem so stressed out!”

Finally I called a friend who is a midwife and she kindly stayed on the phone with me for over an hour as I raked through a list of questions and worries.  She eased me back from the edge.  A week later when I met my midwife Joanne she worked a few more knots out.  Her philosophy is more like “Unless you are actually doing crack, drinking a pint of whiskey a day or living on Mountain Dew and Ho Ho’s you are not going to kill your baby.  Just try to make the best choices you can each day and remember that stress and worry is just as bad as junk food and diesel fumes”

As my pregnancy progressed I have learned to listen to my body more and focus on adding healthy things, instead of freaking out about avoiding unhealthy ones.  But there is another fear, a deeper one that has surfaced lately in my dreams and journaling.  The fear of bringing a child into this world.  I think this one got me young and planted its roots pretty deep because it is a big part of the reason I have waited till I was 35 to even seriously consider having children.

From my teens until around the time I turned 30 I thought the world was spiraling downward.  Watching the news like Theoden watching the orcs storm his stronghold, white-faced, saying “What can men do against such reckless hate?” (Lord of the Rings) I think I have been waiting for the world to end in a terrible way.  Then in the last few years I have shifted to a longer view of things, in both directions of the timeline, past and future.  I have started to realize that for all the horrors of this current age, it is no worse than it has ever been.  Even Jesus said there will always be poverty; there will always be war.  People will always be inventing new ways to be cruel to each other.  And though it doesn’t take away the pain of it, it is no longer such a shock when horrible things like school shootings and bombs at public events happen.  There are stories of snares in every “safe” place.  I cannot keep myself safe or predict what tragedies might lie in wait for me in the future.  I can only plant seeds each season, walk in the direction my feet are pointed, trust God, and not let fear rule me.

My favorite verse in the Bible, and I say it every time I feel afraid, is “God has not given us a spirit of fear.  He has given unto us a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a sound mind.”

So I am writing a new song.  Right now the chorus goes something like this:

“I believe it’s a good time to be born.  I believe it’s a good time to begin.  I believe it’s a good time to start over again.”

It’s not profound, but it’s important for me to say, if only for my own mental health.  I need to repeat the words that remind me that this world is full of hope in every direction.  It always has been.

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The Solstice and the Stowaway – PART 2

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(cont’d from Part 1) . . .

The next morning I took a second test and then crept back to bed.  Randy rolled over and hugged me more tightly than usual.  He opened his eyes to look at me and I could see the fresh perspective on his face – he was a quite different man than the night before.

“I’m happy.” He said simply.  We laid in bed a while whispering all our thoughts and fears and joys.  We decided to tell my mom and dad as soon as we found a quiet moment.

We told my parents the brand new news a few hours before the family Christmas party in between setting out platters of food and restocking the beer.  “This means that next Christmas we’re gonna have a baby around!” said my mother as tears lit up her blue eyes.  As my family gathered for the party I know I must have been glowing the way they say that pregnant ladies do.  I lingered in hugs, looked everyone in the eyes, listened deeply and enjoyed this rare evening with the joyful secret of my little stowaway.

The day before we made the journey to Buffalo a sad thing happened.  My grandfather – Edward Otto Zindle Sr passed away.  He was my last remaining grandparent and I always felt that in him was the seed of my musical ability.  He was an entertainer – never publicly or professionally, just naturally – and he was always singing and telling jokes and stories with his harmonica to accompany him.  Since my grandmother passed away a few years ago he just hasn’t been the same and his health had been on a slow spiral downward.  There was always a certain weariness about him, even underneath the jokes, but a shadow had overtaken him in the last few years and he didn’t seem to want to shake it anymore.

My family is rather complicated and remarkably smaller than when I was a child.  The last few Christmases have been the first in history that the Zindles didn’t gather to sing, eat and laugh.  This was a great loss for me as I always treasured those family gatherings.  My grandmother was a feisty Irish mother of nine children.  She always joked that she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but she loved music and she was an instigator.  She loved our traditional sing-along as much as I did, which is no surprise because her children all sang so beautifully, in layers of harmony.  They would call out song requests, laughing at the lyrics somebody messed up, hamming up the “5th day of Christmas”, braving the high notes in “O Holy Night”, and adding every silly quip to Rudolph’s story.   Grandpa could pick out any tune by ear and he would echo the melody on his harmonica. The Zindle family voices are so earthy and sweet – the sound of them harmonizing together is like no other sound I’ve heard.  For me, it’s the vibrating resonant sound of home.  This is where I learned the communion of music – to harmonize, perform and laugh in an environment of love.  This only ever happened once a year and it has been years since the last time.  But this year because of my grandfather’s passing, the family decided to set aside their busy lives and petty quarrels to cross the distance and gather together once again.

“Harmony – it’s not about what’s lasting or permanent.  It’s about individual voices coming together for a moment.  And that moment lasts the length of a breath.” (From ‘House of Cards”)

I was so grateful to spend the first few days of knowing in Buffalo soaking in the love and music of my family.  I was trying to take it in slowly – to not allow my life to flash before my eyes in a dizzying vertigo.  No Christmas gift I could receive could compare to this precious treasure I had been given, this news that would change everything.  All my bells were ringing.

Later, to tell the story in a much simpler way, I wrote a song for my baby called “Carry You Along”.

Check out my recent post where I shared the song via video.

The Solstice and the Stowaway – PART 1

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It was the Winter Solstice, 2012 – the changing of the guard to welcome winter with her harsh white crown.  We were visiting my family in my hometown of Buffalo, NY, and while my parents were at work we ran around town to finish our last bit of Christmas shopping.  The first snowfall of the year on the first day of winter is a snapshot of poetic coincidence and the scenery seemed so perfect and pure in every direction, covering the twisted barren trees and gray rooftops with a sparkle of newness.

We stopped at many places as we checked off our shopping list, enchanted by the lacy white flurries dancing all around us.  We ducked into a drug store and while Randy picked out a few gifts for my stocking I picked up a pregnancy test.

You see, one week before this day I was on stage for my big annual holiday show.  My regular monthly business was supposed to have happened before the show hit the stage that weekend, but it never did.  The show was sold out both nights and I was so wrapped up in the excited busy-ness of it all that I hardly noticed the sign.  But when a few days became a few more I began to worry and wonder.  I told my friend Shelly that I was late and she is a good friend, so she just asked me how I felt about it.  A good friend holds up a mirror when you really need to see the truth about yourself.  All I could say was “I don’t know” but tears were sneaking out of the corners of my eyes.

It was too much – too terrifying, too wonderful, too complex an emotion to explain. And it was too early to get excited – too soon to know for sure.  People have asked if Randy and I had been “trying” and I always say no, but what does that really mean?   We had been praying for God’s wisdom and timing because we could never seem to understand how a child could fit into our lives.  I wondered if the timing would ever be right, but in my heart it was what I truly wanted – it had been my secret Christmas wish.

I decided to wait one week to find out for sure if my season was indeed changing with the rest of the world.  Within that week I had tried on many frames of mind and emotion, but when the day finally arrived I was perfectly at peace with whatever the result.  Back at my parent’s house all our shopping was done, dinner was a memory washed from all the dishes, and long conversations had smoldered into goodnight kisses.  I slipped into the privy with a test in my pocket.  I was strangely calm even as I waited for the answer.  I brushed my teeth while the strange plastic device did its business.  When I was done brushing I casually looked over to see the word “PREGNANT” clearly printed in the display window.  I picked it up to look closer, my heart flipped a few times over and I took a steady breath.

Randy was in the bedroom reading, winding down to sleep, but I couldn’t wait to tell him.  I brought the test in with me so he could see the bold word himself.  I watched his face as a myriad of emotions shifted across it like a time-lapse photograph.  Shock was first, then confusion, questioning, then came a slight freak-out session when the timing dawned on him. “Wait! That’s the middle of festival season!  Erin, we can’t do this now!” he objected.  “Honey,” I said as I snuggled in close to him “It’s happening now.”  He held me close and kissed me on the forehead.  It was the biggest news he’s ever received and he needed to sleep on it, so I didn’t say anything more.

I can’t believe how well I slept that first night of knowing – how peacefully and fully engrossed in sleep I was.  It was like the first snow – a mystical flurry of beauty observed without a thought about the reality of winter and all the changes it would bring.   No reality yet – there would be time for that – but for now only this iridescent white blanket of newness covering the world within my view.

Check out 2 related posts:

Read more: “The Solstice and The Stowaway Part 2”

Here the story told more simply in a video  of a song:  “Carry You Along”

Carry You Along

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Here are the lyrics:

Carry You Along   by Erin Zindle

Vs 1

It was the first day of winter and I knew for the first time

This would be the last winter before you

As the first winds of winter were moving us in new and strange directions

We were scared but we were happy too.

All my family came together – you were there, our little secret,

In a pocket on the inside of me.

So I sat in the middle of all their voices singing, soaking in every sweet harmony.

Chorus:

May these things find their way into your blood,

Into your deep memory of song

And only good things attend you – sweet dreams and beauty –

As I carry you along . . .

Vs 2

It was the first day of winter and the last of the older generation

Was being laid to rest.

The absence of my grandpa’s harmonica was a quiet lonely ache

Beneath all our cheerfulness.

But his quality of laughter and his jokes still echoed

In the mouths of all his corny sons.

I was grateful for my father and the roots of his humor

So I laughed at each and every one.

CHORUS

Bridge:

You’ll never know my grandma or my grandpa

Except for the stories I remember how to tell

But you are a part of this endless chain of harmony

And someday you will learn to sing it well

Vs 3

It was the first day of Springtime, you were kickin’ like a kick drum

And your father played his rhythm right along.

I couldn’t keep from singing for the joy of creation –

The beginning of a brand new song.

CHORUS

For the back story behind the song, check out the blog “The Solstice and The Stowaway”.

The Big News

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They say it’s natural for pregnant women to turn inward: to begin nurturing and nesting with every waking thought and moment.  Who am I to blow against the wind?  You haven’t heard a lot from me in the last few months because everything I write lately revolves around the biggest thing on my mind and I wasn’t ready to share it with the world until now.

I’m excited to finally announce today that I am just about 20 weeks pregnant!  (Yes I know it’s April Fools Day, but there have to be some real announcements on April 1st to perpetuate the tradition, and today happens to be the best day for us to announce it.)

Randall and I found out just before Christmas and have been adjusting our lives and our minds to the idea as we’ve shared the good news with close friends and family over the last few months.  For musicians who make their living by touring pregnancy is not always exciting news, but we couldn’t be more thrilled.  And we don’t plan to stop touring.  We will welcome this little baby into our world, making room and making time to accommodate him or her however we need to.  We also don’t plan to find out if it will be HIM or HER until we meet face to face!  The baby is due on August 20th – I’m just about halfway there!

There is a season for everything and I distantly recall my own restless, ambitious seasons of work and worry.  This is a new season and the edges of my ambition are dulled by a new and steady peace.  It feels a bit like passing through a cloud, not for the lack of vision but for the mystery of feeling surrounded by a presence, as if angels are attending me.  My womb and my heart expand to make room for a new love – a new way of loving.  “There will be time” said TS Elliot “to prepare a face to meet the faces you will meet”  There is a brand new face, not yet seen by this world in all of time and history, that I was lucky enough to catch the first fleeting glimpse of, and this new person will be entrusted to my care.

Baby's First Photo Shoot!

Baby’s First Photo Shoot!

I plan to blog more regularly now that the door is open to share what my life is like touring with a baby on the way.  I wrote a new song which I will be sharing soon as well.

The Extreme Normal

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There is a very plain word which describes this revolutionary new system I’ve been putting into place in my life.  “Routine”.  I know – it’s not very exciting and it doesn’t really seem revolutionary at all.  The word occurred to me this morning as I was exercising. I thought “this is what normal people do all the time”.  I’ve always seen the word “routine” as a bad word – as bad as the word “normal”.  But here I am waking up at the same time every day to do my morning ritual, then scheduling my office and meal hours.  I started on March first and it’s been two weeks now.  The only one part of the daily plan that I have yet to implement is the 10pm “Relax” time.  So far I have continued working each night until I was too tired to go on any longer and then finally put myself to bed.  I think I’ll get around to the relaxing part eventually.  (maybe once taxes are done)  ImageRoutine.  There is something peaceful about it – and something maddening as well.  Surely the schedule is helping me make sense of the otherwise shapeless hours which make up my daily life.  I’m feeling a little bit more in control – and I’ve been quite productive!  Part of me wants to be constantly on the road where I have no control over the circumstances and timing, where the scenery changes each moment and there are new faces and names to learn each day.  Part of me thrives in that environment.  But there are other parts of me – parts that crave that elusive thing called “home”, parts that really want a routine, that enjoy having a little control.  I am the constant balancing act of all these parts and my pendulum has been swinging in one direction for a very long time.  Now I’m at the other extreme – the extreme called “normal” and (at least for now) I’m feeling quite at home.