Monday, January 28, 2013

Page 28

It's a new year with a new book to write. Today is Page 28.

There's much to say, much to share, and much to keep to myself. But, for my first blog of 2013, I'd like to share a song I wrote with you.

 If you've followed me for a while, you know of this song. I released Please Hear My Prayer - Flood Version in 2010 after the May 1st flooding that ravaged Tennessee. What many of you don't know is that, the Flood Version is a re-write of a song I had previously written.

The original song was written during a very emotional and turbulent time for me. The song was deeply personal and it was one that I had difficulty performing. I attempted to record it, but I was never satisfied with what was produced. Eventually, I put the song aside because it was - for lack of a better phrase - too powerful and emotional.

During a recent songwriting session, I played the song for my co-writer and he was adamant that I record the song exactly like I had played it for him. I had a helluva time getting through it. He insisted the song was meant to be heard in that form and that it needed to be done. Suffice it to say, I resisted. It's not that the song itself is a difficult song to sing in the sense that the range is extensive. It's simply so emotionally charged that it's hard to get through.

Well, after some persistence on his part, I finally gathered the nerve to do it. I hunkered down in my little home studio and recorded it. I played the song through and recorded at least 6 vocal tracks. Ultimately, it came down to scrapping all but the first track because, the first vocal was honest.

This is the song, as it was meant to be performed. It is simple. There was no click track. No filters, not even a pop filter. No vocal booth. No pitch correction. Nothing but a splash of reverb and a girl with her guitar.

The story of how this song came to be is one that I am not prepared to share at this point in time.  And, I cannot say that I will ever be prepared to share the story behind it outside my closest friends and family.  Maybe one day...

Allow me to share with you Please Hear My Prayer.  The original version.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Page 274

So many pages have been filled and there are only 91 pages left to fill this year.  I've no doubt some wonderful memories have yet to be written.  

I have wanted to sit and blog for a while about a multitude of different topics.  Unfortunately, I always seem to get sidetracked by other tasks which require my immediate attention.  Recent events, however, have left me analyzing so many different aspects of my life.  Now, here I sit, attempting to put into words the all the things I have been thinking, feeling, and wanting to say. 

In the past I have been asked what my “platform” is as a musician.  It was an excellent question.  I spent a great deal of time thinking about that.  Eventually, I finally answered that bringing attention to the long term emotional and even physical effects to the victims of bullying was my focus.  As a victim of bullying as a youth and throughout my life, it is an issue close to my heart. 

Too many people think that bullying is a childhood issue.  They believe bullying is an issue relegated to children and adolescents.  I beg to differ.  Bullying is something we all go through in one form or another throughout our entire lives.  From children in school who are picked on for being “too this” or “too that,” to adolescents ostracized for not having the right “look” or “clothing,” to the elderly in the community who are frequently taken advantage of by low-life scoundrels, to the elderly in nursing homes who are treated poorly, to even your basic citizen being judged merely by the car they driver or the job they have – every day we are surrounded by victims of bullying.  Moreover, we may be perpetuating the bullying ourselves, teaching our children these bad behaviors, without even realizing what we are doing. 

If you are reading my blog, then you know I am a musician.  Rarely do I blog about that aspect of my life.  I like to consider myself an educated and eclectic individual and I don’t limit my blog to my experiences in the industry.  Rather, it is my experiences in life that fuel my blogging.  After all, what is a song, but a life experience or belief wrapped up ever so carefully in a melody. 

I was recently confronted with a form of bullying that snuck up on me and took me by surprise, which left me re-evaluating the entire realm of bullying and who the victims really are.  Is it possible for someone to not only be a bully, but to also be a victim of bullying all at the same time?  I believe it is.  I believe it happens more often than we even take the time to realize. 

Have you ever had a friend, someone you trust and know come to you telling you a terrible tale about a person you recently met, a person you don’t know very well?  Have you taken what your friend said to be the truth, simply because you know and trust them on some level?  Have you then ostracized that other person, made a judgment upon them based on what your “friend” said, and passed on that information to another friend or multiple friends?  If you answered NO to those questions, then maybe you need to step back and look a little harder.  We have all done it.  In the moment your “friend” comes to you with their tale of another person, you become a VICTIM of the bully.  You are being manipulated by the Bully’s sick and twisted game, feeding into their tactics.  However, in the moment you take what has been presented to you as a fact and begin treating this other person poorly because of what you have been told, you become the Bully.  Moreover, when you pass on that information as factual to another individual, you contribute to this evil cycle. 

I am a Bully.  I am also a victim of bullying.  And, right here, right now, I am making the commitment to no longer perpetuate this cycle in my life.  I will not allow myself to be looked down upon by others and have them say, “She is a Bully.” 

Recently, I experienced some pretty significant emotional trauma.  If you know me, you know that I have struggled through some of the most difficult moments in life – including the death of a child.  I believe there is very little in this world that is more heart wrenching that burying your first-born child.  I think I can safely say that this recent issue I have been dealing with is very close to that type of emotional stress. 

I'm not going to expound upon those very personal issues at this point in time. However, as a result of the stress, sadness, disappointment, and outright anger I felt over them, I lashed out on a social networking site with language that is better left for a sailor, and it was something I regretted and ultimately removed in a very short space of time.  However, with that, I was labeled by someone as unacceptable.  It was someone I respected in the music industry and someone closely associated with someone I admired in the industry.  I was regretful of my behavior, at the same time, I found myself feeling very unkindly toward this person for their judgment of me not knowing the circumstances surrounding my outburst.  I began judging this person.  It’s moments like that where the transition is made from Victim to Bully. 

Within a very short time after that incident, someone in close association with the previous person who labeled me unacceptable, twisted another social networking post of mine into something that was, for lack of a better term, a complete lie.  Specifically, lyrics of a song I was playing on my guitar at the moment were taken, twisted, and translated as representative of my spiritual beliefs.  I was labeled as someone who doesn’t believe in God based on the words of a song that someone else wrote - a song that is played worldwide on the radio today. 

Let me take just a moment to interject another issue here.  People, not everything you see or read on the internet is what it appears to be.  The internet is not full of only truths about people.  Usually, it is full of lies colored with some truth, which is meant to manipulate your thinking – a form of Bullying.  And, if you can’t understand that, then the internet is not a place you should be hanging out with any regularity. 

Ultimately, this entire experience of mine left me labeled as a vulgar, raging lush, who doesn’t believe in God.  All of which couldn’t be farther from the truth.  But, these people don’t know me.  They are victims of someone else’s bullying.  What’s worse, they perpetuate the bullying by believing this garbage told to them, passing this muck on to others, ultimately becoming bullies themselves.  It is the cycle of bullying.  And, while one can attempt damage control – particular when it relates to your professional career – it can never be completely undone, and the emotional damage takes even longer to resolve. 

What did the Bully gain by this behavior?  Well, I honestly don’t know.  The person at the heart of it is someone I met once, in passing.  Someone whose name I barely knew.  Why focus on me?  Again, while I have my own theories, I honestly can’t say for sure.  Sharing those theories here really would not achieve anything. 

And, what about those people who perpetuated the bullying by listening to this single individual and then going on to make massive judgments on me, passing them on to others???  What was their motive?  Once again, I find myself with nothing but theories. 

In the entertainment industry, nothing is what it seems.  Therefore, you would think that those involved in it would be the last people to pass judgment on someone they only just met based upon the words of a single individual who has absolutely no personal knowledge or personal association with the individual their associate is maligning.  Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. 

What I can say is, in this situation, multiple people have lost opportunities, lost respect, and lost friendships as the result of a single bully buzzing in their ear, rather than confirming facts, rather than inquiring as to the nature of the statements made, or even saying “Hey, I saw/heard this.  What gives?”  

And, the transition from Victim to Bully begins, shrouded in various shades of grey and misrepresentations. 

If you remember nothing else, remember this, my friends.  There are always three sides to every story.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  Take time to try to understand what someone else is going through, what someone else has said, what someone else has done before passing judgment – even if the buzzing in your ear comes from someone you think you can trust.  Confirm your sources.  Confirm your information.  Go to the source.  Never, never, never, perpetuate lies…  One day you will find yourself in the very same situation and you will be wondering why you are where you are and how it all happened…  I hope these verses – shared from the labeled “disbeliever” ring loudly in your ears.

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”  Proverbs 10:12

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Hebrews 13:2

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1-5

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

Monday, August 13, 2012

Page 226

The pages are turning and we are well on our way through the book that is 2012.  Have we reached the climax yet?  I don't know.  Maybe we have.  Maybe we haven't.  I suppose all we can really do is just wait and see.

I can say that this year, so far, has been absolutely inundated with learning, growth, and revelation.

Page 226 is going to deal with something I've struggled with in the past and have run into a lot lately.

Let me preface by saying, I am so far from perfect that if you were look up imperfection in the dictionary, you would likely see my picture next to it.  However, I do my very best not to be hypocritical.  If ever I find myself in a moment of hypocrisy, I immediately do my very best to remedy the matter.

Recent encounters, experiences, and situations have left me thinking more on this issue.  I'm really not going to elaborate on any details.  I'm just going to cut to the chase on this pretty dang quick, because it really is something that I think more people need to pay attention to.

If you want a friend.  BE a friend.  If you want to be treated with dignity and respect, the BE the person who treats others with dignity and respect.

Don't sit there and talk shit about other people if you don't want people to talk shit about you.

If you want people to be welcoming and pleasant to you.  Then you must be welcoming and pleasant to others.

Now, here's the best part of all this...  if someone isn't that way with you, then SCREW 'EM!!!

Don't even think twice about it.  I'm the worst at this...  I tend to sit and worry and fret and wonder and come up with all sorts of reasons why they are being the way they are to me.  But, the bottom line is - not everyone is going to like you.  And that's ok.  Just be someone that YOU would like and be the kind of person worth being liked and it'll all work out in the end.

Got it?!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Page 170

In the dwindling hours of what was left of an extra special day to celebrate and honor the Fathers in our lives, I lay awake in bed, beside the man who holds a very unique position in this family.

I would like to introduce you to this man. 

This man... has sacrificed a life of time and leisure to commit to the next 10+ years of legal and fiscal responsibility for 7 additional children which he is not biologically responsible for creating.

This man... has provided these same children with the safety and security of a home of their own.

This man... has sacrificed his own needs and desires in abundance to provide these children with their own needs and desires.

This man...  attends - and at times has even coached - every possible sport practice, game and/or academic function which he is physically able to attend.

This man... sits and helps these children with their homework, reviews every grade, and encourages their education.

This man... teaches them to work hard, the value of a dollar, and how to respect and care for what you are blessed to have in this world.

This man... wipes tears, mends owies, and fearlessly protects.

This man... holds on to every card, every picture, and every special token of their love and devotion to him.

This man... not only honorably serves in the United States Air Force Reserves, teaches these children the values of respect, honor and integrity in all things.

This man... each and every one of these children calls "Daddy", "Dad", and "Father".

This man... made the choice to be the Dad these children needed in their life so desperately and who loves them as though they are truly his own flesh and blood.

This man... chose to assume the honorable and noble role that the Universe had assigned to another who failed to appreciate and respect the value of the role.

This man... who has absolutely no legal obligation to be a Father to these children, happily and successfully performs and even excels in this position. 

The law says that, in return for all the blood, sweat, tears, heartache, time, love and money that this man puts in to raising these children, and for doing all the things a Father SHOULD do - as honorable a man he is - has no legal rights pertaining to these 7 children.


The "Law" indicates that the biological paternal counterpart - the one who has failed to perform in any of the above roles because it didn't suit his lifestyle - is "entitled" to a relationship with these children who are, in all reality, complete strangers to him.

This is reality. 

Yet in the face of this reality...

Knowing that he could just as soon really away and have no absolutely no legal responsibility to see this commitment through...

This man remains ever vigilant. Ever steadfast. Ever keeping guard over the hearts, minds, physical and emotional welfare of these children.

This MAN... is a FATHER.

I know this because I had a Father like this. And, by the power of the Universe, in reward for my Father's devotion to his role in my life, the law agreed and I was legally made his daughter.  (Frankly, I'm convinced that I got the better end of THAT deal!)

I have always wished for my children to have the love and devotion of a true Father, as I had.  That kind of commitment and devotion is not a guarantee in the biology of a man, although it can and frequently does occur within those genetic links.  This kind of commitment and devotion happens in the heart and it is overpowering.  Men who feel that "Father Power" for children without a biological connection... Well, that's something extra special.

Who says wishes don't come true?

To my Father, Arthur... I will forever and for always be a Daddy's girl...

To my soon-to-be-husband and a Father in every way that matters, even when you didn't have to be, Michael...  I gave you my broken heart, my emotionally wounded children, and a you gave us back a family.  You're not only magic, you're epic!

And, finally to his Father, Lou, who has that Father Power squared...  If not for your Father Power in your own family, this family would not be what it is today. Y'all wired him right and THAT is worthy of my eternal gratitude.

People, any idiot can biologically create a life, but it takes a MAN to be a FATHER and turn that life into something splendid!  These three men are the finest men among men.

I honor you all.  I love you all.  I thank you.all.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Page 149

In my studio, my computer monitor sits on a stand mounted to the wall.  On that stand, in front of my monitor, sits a dyecast model of a black '69 Corvette Stingray... My dream car.  The car which I spent nearly two hours searching for at the Corvette Museum, only to discover that they did NOT have it in their collection, so I was left with the only option of purchasing a model of it.  Pulling it backward winds up the wheels, and when you let go, then it goes forward. 

When I'm stuck in my studio, there are plenty of times when I'm left thinking about where I'm going with the project I'm working on.  During those times, I'll play with my little Stingray.  I pull it back and let it go over and over until my head clears. 

I guess you could say that my little Stingray is somewhat representative of my music career.  It's been a tough, slow, and painfully emotional journey. Forever hoping, ever dreaming, ever seeking that elusive break that will allow me to spend the rest of my life supporting my family doing what I love, only to keep finding myself coming up short and/or empty handed, accepting a trinket in return for bruised dream and ego. 

I suspect that everyone can relate to this in some way or another; even those who seemingly have it all.  Like I said in a previous blog,  The Universe has no prejudice.  Sometimes it will smile down upon you and you will find yourself embracing your heart's desire.

Other times, it is gonna shit on you, without rhyme or reason, and you'll be left with your angry tears falling over what's left of your shattered dream, which you now hold in your hands. 

When find yourself in the latter situation, you have very few options.  But, be thankful that you at least HAVE options. 

#1 - You can chuck those pieces of your broken dream right into the trash. Then, you can be bitter, angry and vow never to dream again. 

#2 - You can take those pieces, wrap them up carefully in a hanky, put them gently into a box with some super glue, vowing to put it all back together when there's time. Then, never make time and let that dream just fade away in time as you forget. 

#3 -  You can take the pieces of that broken dream, salvage everything possible, and put it on display to remind you of what it is you ache for. 

Let your dream live!  It's your dream and no one can take that from you if you don't let them!

Here's how you do it... 
Take all that pain, all that hurt, all that anger, all that resentment, and all that fear...


You just pull it back...

And let it go.... 

~ A very special thank you, fist bump, high five and booty smack to my new friend Kathy Bertram for helping inspire this blog entry! Google her to see her performance on Jay Leno and keep your eyes peeled for her upcoming audition to be broadcast on  America's Got Talent!  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Page 143

I’ve seen a lot of witty pictures, opinion columns, and other articles flying around various social media sites regarding the working class opinion of recipients of welfare services; more specifically, that person at the front of your line using their “food stamps” at the market.  First, let me clarify that they are now called SNAP Benefits, although even the recipients of these benefits still refer to them as food stamps. 

Everything (and I am not exaggerating this in any way), I have seen has referenced the user’s perfectly manicured finger nails, their perfectly coifed hair, their brand new cell phone, their nice car (nicer than the author’s car), etc. 

Let me share a story about that woman using her snap benefits in line in front of you.  Those nails you claimed are perfectly manicured?  Those are her real nails that she cares for herself.  It’s something she does late at night when her children are in bed while she thinks about her day and the next day and how her family is going to make it through the month. 

That hair that is perfectly coifed?  She hasn’t been to a hair dresser in over a year because she can’t afford it.  She has learned how to stylishly keep it up, how to tuck the dead, frayed ends in so that she looks good for the job interview…  like the one she is on her way home from when you saw her. 

That NEW cell phone?  Well, it’s the one that she was able to get for free signing up for a contract plan with a provider so she could have a phone.  It’s the only phone she has.  She needs it for job interviews, to keep in touch with the schools should there be an emergency with her children, and email to SEND resumes for jobs.  She doesn’t have a computer because she can’t afford one.  That cell phone is her lifeline to a better life. 

Her nice car?  Well, that car was sold to her by her parents.  It is a nice car because they kept it nice.   She makes them small payments as she can afford it to reimburse them.  Because of their generosity and kindness, she has a reliable vehicle in which to transport her children and make it to job interviews and doctor appointments. 

How do I know all this?  I know this because I am a recipient of SNAP Benefits. 

I have no doubt there are recipients of benefits out there that are probably playing the system.  However, to lump all SNAP Benefit recipients into this category is somewhat prejudicial don’t you think? 
If you have nothing better to do, and have enough time to devote to judging that person using a SNAP Benefits card in front of you, then you need a new hobby. 

With all the current issues in the news of racism, prejudice, and homophobia over gay marriage going on in this world, do we really need to contribute to more out casting of members of our society?  The citizens of this country are turning on themselves!  It’s no wonder we are no longer the world dominator that we once use to be. 

As advanced as society is, one cold hard fact remains true…  You should NEVER judge a book by its cover.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Page 141

I love pets.  Dogs. Cats. Bunnies. Horses.  They are "Love Companions." 

I remember my first pet.  A lovable Persian mix with a flat face thick hair that was black on top, but stark white underneath.  His name was Putt-Putt.  Since then, I have had many pets, from cats to dogs.  I even had a dog named Kitty.  I've had hamsters, fish, lizards, snakes, and I even had a pet rock at one time.  Ok, maybe it wasn't quite a "pet" persay, but it traveled with me for many years, through quite a but of my adult life and many moves.  There's a short and entertaining story to that which shall be left for another blog. 

Back to the topic at hand.  Pets. 

Owning a pet isnt easy, but it's rewarding.  There's a certain bond that is formed that can't quite be explained in words. But it can be felt and, at times seen, thru the tears of a human who has lost their beloved companion, be it injury, illness, old age, or even theft. 

For one of the first times in my life, I find myself desperately missing and needing that love and bond.  I have always had a pet in my bed, which managed to help me thru the loneliness I felt for so many years.

We currently have in our home, two dogs and, outside our home, one cat. 

The cat, Punkin', was inherited with the house.  He's loving, for sure, but I have no real bond with him.  He is my eldest son's special friend. 

Next is Odie.  Fredrick Odiferous Masticus Swineus Barkius Lickius Gluteus Maximus to be exact.  He is my rescue baby.  Obtained from the shelter at a mere six weeks old.  He is a sharpei-shepherd mix. 

Odie was my baby. He slept with me every night.  He snuggled, with his head on my pillow, while I cried myself to sleep for so many years.  He knows all my secrets and has protected me from many moments of danger.  After we moved here to Tennessee, he somehow, gradually  became my second oldest son's dog.  Mainly, because I was gone a lot and he cared for Odie in my absence.  Since my fiancée is severely allergic to Odie (something to do with the oils of a sharpei), he is restricted to the basement with my eldest boys and outside.  He is happy. 

Finally, there's Gracie. A 6 month old chocolate lab for which I exchanged a large sum of cash to provide my fiancée with companionship and love that I knew he had been missing since his ex was awarded his dog in the divorce.  To add insult to injury, she quickly and cold heartedly gave it away.  That dog saved his life and losing her broke his heart.  Knowing how much the devout love of a pet has done for me, shortly after we moved into our new home, with his mother by my side, we went and picked out Gracie. She is definitely his love companion. 

To be perfectly honest... Lately, I find myself jealous.  I can't nail down if it's jealousy of how much he loves Gracie, plays with her, cares for her, dotes on her...  Or if it's the love she has for him.  A love and devotion which I don't have from a furry companion anymore. Or maybe I don't have it from him.  All I know is that I simply feel like I'm on the losing end all around. 

I had hoped that, since she was a female, he would consent to her having a single litter of chocolate lab puppies. Ultimately, I wanted to keep one for myself.  I miss that companionship so desperately.  And even more as of late.  But, as is the way of life for me, I shall never experience that joy because Friday, she was spayed. 

You would think that being engaged, having seven children, I would never feel lonely.  But I do.  More often than not these days.  Everyone has their friends, activities, things to do, and even with everyone home, I am still alone. 

And, here it is, past midnight, and I am wide awake, wishing so much for a pet of my own. 

At this moment, I want warmth. I want touch.  I want tenderness.  Affection.

There is void in my heart...  a loneliness I feel growing day by day as no one seems to want to be around me, talk to me  spend time with me. And, I feel like my existence, my thoughts, my feelings, my needs, my fears... I honestly feel like no one gives a shit. No one values me.  I'm worthless.  I'm just an annoyance in their lives.  One they'd sooner dispose of - or at the very least - eliminate as much interaction from.

If I matter to no one, not even an animal, well then, what's the point of mattering  at all?