Monday, November 21, 2022

When Feeling Grief while Singing at Bedside

One thing I love about being a Threshold Singer is seeing how music brings a sense of peace to a patient and their families. To be able to hold space for someone who is dying, for their families to grieve, and to be able to comfort that family is why we do what we do. 

The song is the gift ... for all of us.

Each time I go to hospice, I feel like I'm entering a sacred space. But each visit has been different from others, as varied as the people in the world—no two visits are alike. And some days impact me more deeply than others. 

On my most recent visit, I learned what preemptive grief is. I knew that it would come up at some point in my journey as a bedside singer. I didn't know when it would hit, but I knew it would at some point. 

"Some point" is today, apparently. 

Training to be a threshold singer prepares you for such things, thankfully. I've done a lot of examination of my own thoughts around death and how I personally process grief. I feel I have grown so much through that work. And today I witnessed two situations that I imagine I will experience some day. They felt a little close to home, and that feeling of preemptive grief arrived. It happened mid-song, so instead of reacting, I took the role of observer, thinking "Hm. Okay. This is grief happening, and I will look more closely at it later when I'm done with this visit."

Now that I am home from a song visit, I will sit, and I will feel: grief to gratitude, heart open, sitting in loving light, sending loving-kindness to all beings...

To all souls.

I am grateful for my fellow singers. And I am grateful to the family members present in each of those situations for their openness, their willingness to share both current, physical space and timeless, liminal space with us during their sorrow and their exhaustion and their pain, as well as their memories and their joy in having been part of a life well lived. We witness all of these things, and more. I'm grateful that they let the music be whatever they need it to be in that moment. 

I'm especially grateful for the ones who could hear us in another room, who wonder if we'll come to them next and eagerly greet us when we do. They have demonstrated such generosity and beauty of spirit. They and my fellow singers kept me going when those uncomfortable feelings cropped up, like a life-saver ring thrown into a sea of emotions. I held on and let them lift me out of the depths.

Thank you for that gift. 

A tam background of music notes with a quote from Debasish Midhra Music heals the wounds which medicine cannot touch.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Birthday Books and Celebration

(Following links on this blog may result in my earning a small fee. As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.)

This past Sunday was my birthday, and it was the perfect weekend. My family took me out to dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. The food and wine were delicious. I had the pasta arrabbiata, and it was enough for me to take leftovers home for two more meals. (Photo is not my actual meal, by the way.)

Then, we came home for cake. When my mom asked me what type of cake to get, I asked for "yellow cake with fudgy icing" and she delivered! The local grocery bakery does a fantastic job! That small caked lasted for several days.

I treated myself to two new books for my birthday. I purchased them at Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. and will put some links at the bottom of the post.

The first is Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics by Jonathan Goldman. I've always been fascinated by the concept of sound as a tool for healing. Indeed, it's one reason I became a threshold singer. I can't wait to dig in to this book. 

The second book is a Sacred Geometry coloring book by Francene Hart. I started using this last night with some bright gel pens, and I am loving it! I started with dolphins in a Merkaba pattern. Coloring is a great stress reliever for me—a way for me to get into a meditative zone without actually meditating in a formal sense.

A photo collage with birthday cake, spaghetti, books and a balloon

Also, I'll admit I've had some writer's block this year, but something about my birthday burst open the dam and I am now writing about a thousand words daily. I'm so pleased! 

It's been a great celebration. Grateful to have made it to 51. Onward! 

The books I purchased (you can click on the pictures to learn more):


Monday, November 14, 2022

On Writing Memoir

Last week I was able to attend a one-hour live event hosted by The Stories Between Us writing community (which operates in a Mighty Networks space). In it, they interviewed author and editor Lisa-Jo Baker, who took us through many aspects of memoir writing. (There is also a podcast by the same name, and they did record the interview, if you want to listen when it's released.)

I was fascinated to hear her take on elements of memoir, including:

  • How memoir helps you not only tell, but figure out your origin story.
  • How you have to love people—truly love them—to write about them, even if they hurt you. That there is an opportunity for forgiveness (not absolution) in the act of loving them enough to write about them. 
  • How a memoir offers the reader a "visceral immediacy"—they're on the path right next to you as you journey through the experience you're relating.
  • How memoir should read like fiction. It shouldn't be an A to B to C narrative of things that happened but rather should be composed of scenes with characters, setting, and dialogue.
  • How the opening of a memoir will make or break the book (and she discussed her top 5 examples of opening paragraphs).

This session really lit a fire under me to take a critical look at my book so far. I realize now that I will have to rework several parts of my book that are done, because I’ve learned from this one-hour class that my story can be told so much better than I’m currently telling it. 

Deep breaths. 

It’ll be for the best. It’ll be for the best. It’ll be for the best.

(And since I was inspired, I just wrote an opening scene as prologue that drops the reader right into it. At least I hope it does!) 

Have you written a memoir? Any advice for me or others hoping to do so? 

Below are links to several books that were discussed in this class—held up as examples of how to start a memoir or memoirs that touched the speaker as being incredible examples of the genre. I plan on reading at least a few of these, myself.



Sunday, November 6, 2022

An Author Event with Barbara Wright

(Following links on this blog may result in my earning a small fee. As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.)

I'm on the email list for my local library, and last week I became aware of an author event to be held this past Friday, the 4th. Barbara Wright, a local author, would be discussing her book, Crow, as a part of the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read series.

From their website:

The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read—a partnership with Arts Midwest—broadens our understanding of our world, our neighbors, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community.

Curious, I called the library to reserve my spot for this free event. I also wondered why they not only required a reservation, but also called me the night before to confirm I'd be coming. I found out why later.

When I arrived at the meeting room, I sat next to a woman in a blue dress who was chatting with audience members around me. It turns out she was the author, and I appreciated that prior to the program beginning, she sat in the audience and then moved around among the seats to talk with everyone. (And if I'm honest, I also appreciated the refreshments provided by the library: caramel apple cider and pumpkin spice wafer cookies.)

a photo of a table with books on it

Barbara Wright has had local ties to Brunswick County since the 1940s, when her grandfather built their home on Holden Beach—a home that was later to be destroyed utterly in Hurricane Hazel in 1954. They rebuilt, and she is still there. For various personal reasons, she found herself exploring not only her family's history but also local history—specifically, Wilmington's history. 

Wilmington is the nearest large city to me and sits about an hour north of where I live. In the late 1800s the city had a prosperous and thriving Black community, but in 1898 white supremacists initiated a massacre that left many Black citizens murdered. It was a coup d'etat in which these white supremacists ran the legitimate government—up to 100 Black civic leaders—out of town, as well as approximately 100,000 Black voters. 

It was a horrific injustice, a crime whose perpetrators were never prosecuted.

The result of Ms. Wright's research was her novel, Crow. The way she spoke about the writing, it sounds like the novel took on a life of its own and made demands for the story to be told. The result is what she described as a middle-grade/young adult historical fiction set in the summer of 1898 in Wilmington, told from the point of view of Moses, an 11-year old boy who is learning about his family history, navigating changing friendships, and observing events as they unfold. 

She read a moving passage from the book and discussed her research and writing process and took questions from the audience. I appreciated that my fellow audience members—including several high school students who had read the book for their class—were engaged, curious, asked questions, and added to the discussion in thoughtful ways. It was also interesting to learn that the first draft was originally historical fiction for adults, but Ms. Wright's agent said he couldn't sell it because the topic and original ending were too grim, so she changed the ending as well as POV, and it became more suitable to middle grade/YA.

At the end of the program, we were each invited to take a free book and have the author sign it (explaining the need for reservations—I'm sure they needed a count for books and refreshments).

Kudos to the NEA and Brunswick County Library for putting on a great author talk. I will definitely attend another in the future, and I am very much looking forward to reading Crow

You can get your copy from bookstores everywhere, your local library, or, if you prefer, by clicking on the image below.

, by Barbara Wright

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Just a Little Light Reading

(Following links on this blog may result in my earning a small fee. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Since I had a near-death experience in 2006 (and am writing a book about it), I thought I’d do some reading about it to see other perspectives. 

I just finished 7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife: A Doctor Reviews the Case for Consciousness After Death by Jean Jacques Charbonier, M.D.

This was fairly light reading. Each chapter addresses a reason, including reports that fit that reason, what detractors might say, and conclusions. There is also a fascinating appendix by Emmanuel Ransford that discusses levels of consciousness in ways I hadn’t seen before. 

Now I’ve started Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death by Chris Carter. 

This one has already grabbed me just with the Foreword and Introduction. I’ll post more thoughts once I’ve finished. 

What are your thoughts about NDE (near-death experience) or OBE (out of body experience)? I know I would love to edit a book about this topic!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Autumn Is My Favorite Time of Year

I love autumn! Since moving South (for new readers: I moved from Pittsburgh to coastal North Carolina last year), I'm still adjusting to how the seasons are different here. We do still get some changing leaves and the hint of a crisp breeze on the air when fall arrives down here. You can wear a long-sleeved T-shirt or a light jacket some days and not get overheated—unlike in PA where by now I'd have the winter coat ready.

My family and I often take a big trip in the fall every year. Examples of past trips include coastal towns in the Carolinas, coastal Maryland, Seattle, and Connecticut. We'd hike and walk for miles and take ferries and sightsee and go to museums and festivals... This year had to be a bit different though, so we took it easy.

Last week I drove my folks into the mountains to see the changing colors—leaf peeping is well and good in western NC! We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway and pulled over into scenic overlooks to take pics. My mom also drove part of the way so I could take some pics while on the road, since I admired how the light dappled through the leaves to create beautiful tunnels of shimmering orange, yellow, red, green, and brown as we drove. 

It was nice to meander our way around the changing foliage and stop in cute little towns for lunch or tea (or pumpkin pie ice cream). I'm honored to be their daughter and will always cherish this time together.

four photos of autumn leaves with "welcome fall"

National Blood Clot Awareness Month

This is slightly edited from a Facebook post I made. Feel free to follow me over there, by the way.  I became aware that March is Blood Clo...