musical milliner

September 22, 2014

Vivace!

Musical Milliner offers her kind regards to all of you who have hung in there with her the past five years as she has been circling the Inferno that was her life. She’s/I’m (changing tenses here) glad to be alive, and pleased to tell you that despite dedicated and focused attempts to dismantle my psyche and resources, I am well.

On this lovely atumnal equinox, I feel…balanced. I swear, I didn’t  plan that last sentence. Exploited the opportunity, certainly.images

My sons are thriving. I am rebuilding my business, and I am experiencing one of the most productive phases of my life in music.

Socializing is still a bit of a challenge. Ever the introvert when not performing, but I am taking steps to improve.

Here’s the thing: I recently heard a song which reminds us that after so many years on this journey we all share, comes a time to lose some of the load. Keep what you need or want, and continue in a leisurely stroll toward the sign marked “exit.” It takes so much effort to keep track of all the emotional hording, and is so unnecessary.

Who knows, I may even write an upbeat lyric or two. God bless the lot of you.

May 26, 2014

“Fallen”

  images The destruction of a long-term  relationship, leading to her hitting rock bottom.  She is sometimes delusional.  In her addled mind, she sometimes believes she’s lost all of her friends, most of whom were mutual friends of the partnership, her in-laws, her community.

This delusion is the result of wrong thinking. When she has a clear mind, she sees all the people who really care about her, and have been there all along, some since childhood. Once again , they are in the foreground of her life, reminding her of her value as a human being, as a friend, as a mother. Yes, she has lost some friends in the war. Friends who were there for a season, and have moved on. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

 Back to the delusion, she knows it is all her fault. Of course it is. That is what he says.  His mental illness, his failures, all bad occurrences and recurrences would never be, but for  her decision to recind the contract.  She has ruined his life. Forever. That’s what his family takes as gospel. It’s a family of enablers.

Among tha many gems uttered by his mother was the following: “There is nothing wrong with my children, it’s just the people they married.”

Do you get that?

Aren’t we, as women expected to  keep our marriages together? If they fail, is it not, by default, we who are to blame?

Do you get that?

 What is this, the nineteen-fifties? The in-laws close ranks and believe whatever it is he tells them. And it’s always  the kids who suffer from the disconnection.

The same woman once said, “I like my children. I just don’t like other people’s children.”

Do you get that? Do you wonder why your many granchildren are not in touch? Do you understand that your own flesh and blood choose not to be around someone who tacitly disapproves of them because of lazy thinking?

Good tunes, thoughtful & personal lyrics, are one of the most effective therapies for hard times. That is, if you believe paying attention to the process will help you through the challenges. Here’s a good one.

Heaven bent to take my hand
And lead me from the fire
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight

Truth be told I tried my best
But somewhere along the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

We all begin with good intent
Love was raw and young
We believed that we could change ourselves
The past could be undone
But we carry on our backs the burden time always reveals

The lonely light of morning
The wound that will not heal
It’s the bitter taste of losing everything that I have held so dear

I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

Heaven bent to take my hand
Nowhere left to turn
I’m lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarassed
Pretend that they don’t see
But it’s one missed step
You’ll slip before you know it
And there doesn’t seem a way to be redeemed

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…
(c) Sarah Mclachlan (Tyde Music, Sony/ATV Songs LLC)2003



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c) Sarah McLachlan 2003

August 27, 2013

The Grace of Suffering

images

In high school, I discovered hatha yoga, which led me to the writings, and eventually the lectures of Ram Dass (Dr. Richard Alpert). I consider him my first spiritual teacher. He popularized the phrase “Be here now,” which later became the title of a fascinating book. Some recent drama has called me back to these teachings.

This excerpt is from a 1988 interview in The Vegetarian Travel Guide.

 

 

Ram Dass: “…that’s (suffering) the one that is hard for this society to recognize. That is one of the highest mystical teachings, that suffering is great. But who wants that? To hell with that…later, baby.

VTG: When one is suffering, it’s very easy for the heart to close down. In my own life when I’m hurt or feeling angry, it’s often an automatic response. What do you tell your own heart when you feel it closing down, when the stimulus is just too strong and you’re ready to run for the hills?

Ram Dass: When my heart starts to close down, first of all it’s incredibly painful because you get addicted to having your heart open and staying in that kind of liquid space of just being in love with the universe, like the divine beloved is just everywhere. When it closes down it hurts. What I do is I sit with it the way it is. I don’t try to push away my closed heart, that just closes it further. I just say, ah ha, my heart is closed, and I realize that what is closed will open and what is open will close so that I start to have a little patience about it. And then instead of trying to open my heart by thinking loving thoughts, usually what I do is go back into my breath because the thing that closed my heart was a thought that I had. It was nothing out there.

Nobody did anything. They just do what they do. It was my interpreting what they did that closed my heart. And so I can see that what I’ve done is get stuck in a thought form. And what I can do now is go directly into my mind and go back into the rising and falling of my breath until I get to the point where the thought dislodges and I’m just with the thought of the rising and falling, and then at that moment that whole constellation of thought that closed my heart isn’t around anymore.

EJR: Do you actually identify what the thought was?

Ram Dass: I used to do that. I’m an old psychotherapist so I would say, “why are you unhappy?” or “why is your heart closed and what caused it?” Now I’m not so interested. When you go into the causes then you move into the psychological reality. You’re treating it as real. That’s one strategy, but it’s only one strategy. Sometimes treating the psychological as thought and going back behind it is a much more efficacious manner to get on with it. It is a bottomless well of trying to figure out why it is you’re angry, why it is your heart closes. It just never ends.

January 1, 2012

Ricordare

Two years ago today we lost our good friend. None of us saw it coming. I have a story to share, and a list of Mark’s wisdoms.
Soon after his mother died, I received a large package in the mail. It was the corduroy patchwork quilt she had made some thirty years before as a going away gift for Mark as he went off to college.Over the years, Marilyn had collected scraps of the fabric from her son’s trousers and shirts, and created this beautiful thing. When I followed Mark up to Northern California, it became my quilt, too.
For Mark to pass this on to me, a quilt over which his mother had lovingly labored, which had been so skillfully sewn as to have no tears or snags after so many years of use was a great comfort to me. Mark’s mother had for some years mothered me as well, and I miss her, too.

In my home, the quilt holds an honored place. We call it “The Mothers Quilt.” Any time someone is ill, or needs some warmth and comfort, out comes the quilt, and a cup of tea. The person is wrapped like a big corduroy burrito, and being a quilt of near magical powers and full of mother love, never fails to raise the spirits of whomever is wrapped within it.

For me, the quilt remains one of the strongest reminders of Mark’s legacy.

Here is a list of words I recall Mark saying, or sentiments I can attribute to him.
1. Always be kind.
2. Consider that the other guy may have had a worse day than you.
3. Wave pedestrians and other cars through a four-way stop.
4. Hug your mother while you still can.
5. Learn three corny jokes. Use them to disarm people and demonstrate that you are not their better.
6. If a friend needs some money, know it was hard for them to ask and give them small chores in exchange so they save face.
7. Remember that most folks really want to do their best.
8. Forgive and forget as often as possible.
9. It’s okay to keep your opinions to yourself.
10.When all is said and done, true love remains forever.

(c) GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2012

December 26, 2011

Memorie

Like most children, I looked forward to the Christmas season. Deep in my memory is a tray of Kodak (pre-carousel) slides flashing vignettes on a white wall.

The first tray contains slides when my mother was still walking.

I see my dad taking pleasure and effort to make from found items, a giant arrangement of red candles in graduated sizes, each wired with a different colored light atop, and attached to a platform which was displayed in front of the house on the lawn outside my mother’s kitchen window.  Something about a neighborhood decorating competition. Something about the wires occasionally shorting out. I found the whole thing fantastic.

I see him on a ladder, held by my eldest brother and being cautioned by my mother, taking care to hang lights under the eves.  I remember the glow of the soft colors filling my bedroom as I fell asleep, and how magical that felt.

I have a flash of my mother trying to make potica, a Slovenian holiday bread my father grew up with, and her quiet mumbling as she struggled to get it right.  I’m not sure if she ever did, but I wouldn’t have eaten it, being too picky to try unfamiliar foods like most little ones.

Then there was a year when my father had erected some tacky cardboard fireplace and mantle.  I attribute this to his solution of pestering questions about how could Santa come down the chimney when we didn’t have one.  None of the ranchers where I grew up had them because it rarely got cold enough.  Some companion slides appear on the wall, and I see my parents, who seemed to entertain a lot, sitting around with a living room full of happy people on Christmas Eve after church, and I in my jammies wanting to wait up for Santa.  I remember what I thought was a sonic boom, but, given the day and time of night was probably a quick, sharp earthquake jolt, and the adults telling me that the noise was Santa parking on the roof, and I’d better get to sleep or he wasn’t going to come inside.  Snap.  I woke up later and quietly padded into the living room (the squeaky parquet floor was a challenge) to find that Santa had left many presents, including a doll for me!

My next oldest brother convinced me to get back to bed before we got caught.

The milk and cookies we had left for Santa were gone!

There are slides of our family at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  The creche scene behind the rail suddenly replaced by humans.  I was told many times that I made my stage debut as the baby Jesus when I was twelve days old, and slept peacefully per the script.  I  can’t forget the well dressed man next to us who dripped some astounding green-red glop from his nose onto a crisp white hankie. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, yet I remember this fellow. He is stuck on that slide.

The fragrant tree so beautifully decorated.  The ceramic creche underneath the spruce with which I  entertained myself, rearranging the cattle and sheep. Moving Joseph around.  Keeping the straw tidy and off the carpet for my mother.

Slides of the company- all the visitors.  The endless trays and dishes full of food.  The shock of seeing the rector in collar, sitting on a sofa with a cigarette and a glass of Scotch, and not having a clue as to how to deal with this contextual confusion.

It was a time of innocence which all children deserve.  By the time I was five, my mother was no longer able to walk.

The second tray of slides sits quietly in my mind.  The wall is blank. I don’t want to look at them.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap) 2011

January 23, 2011

Incrociando a Sicurezza

It was one of those late Summer days that make you forget that the season is about to turn. We happily anticipate Winter’s run up to Spring, and even more so the advent of Summer and it’s promise of long restful days. This is especially true when you are the mother of not quite grown children. Their brains rest while their bodies grow.

The end of Summer is to be ignored. We live as if there is no tomorrow, but really, all we are doing is pretending. But so what? It’s Summer!

On this particular day, this glorious temperate day, I received a phone call that it was time. I had confided my fears to my friend about walking over the Golden Gate Bridge, something locals and tourist do en masse every day. I had tried many times to walk this bridge, only to stop in abject, paralyzing fear. Irrational but tangible feelings of panic overtook me. What if someone pushed me over the rail? What if the Hand of God or some thing plucked me from the walkway and tossed me into the bay?  I couldn’t do it. My kids thought nothing of riding their bikes over the bridge. I hid my shame and made excuses.

My friend saw this obstacle as a metaphor for my collective fears. He convinced me that here lay a strong symbolic force for stepping into my new life.

I couldn’t argue his point. In fact, I decided to embrace the challenge. Not that it was easy. You see, I was not only afraid, I was stuck within all those metaphors.

Could I trust him to hold on to me? Yes. Could I trust that he would not let me come to harm? Absolutely.

So I took control by surrendering control, and put myself, literally, into the arms of the one I love.

I stalled a few yards into the journey. He whispered to me, “The trolls are not there.”  We moved forward together, and after awhile I felt  my spirit lift. I felt okay. I was more than okay. I felt free!

In freedom was pleasure. The ordinary pleasure of taking a stroll over one of the world’s most iconic bridges,  framing a view of  this gorgeous place in which we live.

I conquered this phobic fear and moved my life forward, all at once, knowing that no matter the outcome of the hardship I was facing, I would be strong enough to take all that lay ahead. I reclaimed some misplaced self-esteem, and discovered through an abiding friendship that I could love again and be loved.

I had crossed to safety.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap) 2011

November 7, 2010

Follia

Disheartened, discouraged, discomfited. Crying. Sulking. Repressed passion. More than anything she wants to crawl back into the cave, into the darkness that kept her safe. In its favor, the darkness is familiar. She  knows how to be there. Rather, when in the cave, she knows how not have to “be there.”

Once the light starts to crack its way in, she begins to take note of her surroundings. She is relieved by her solitary confines. At first this is reassuring.  At last!  All alone here, thank God. Nobody requiring her to explain or justify herself.  Relaxing from the tumult, she rests.

Eventually her thinking turns on her as her vision gains focus. Is this good, all this isolation? It is a bit… lonely. Perhaps she needs some company after all. Perhaps some distraction is in order, something to take her mind off those events which sent her running into the night alone.

She looks out. She looks around. And she waits passively for passersby. Who is that on the edge of the shadows? How can this be. Him? Truly? At first she does not understand why he is there, or how he came into her presence at this critical crossroads.

More alert now, her mind shifts into overdrive as synapses permit neurons to fire in rapid frequency as she seeks an assessment. One of the artifacts of spending so much time alone inside one’s head is that a person becomes an expert processor, engaged in an obsessive need to analyze situations from multiple angles. It’s a useful skill, but a skill which used to excess is not entirely healthy. The cost of this habit is a deficiency of  the ability  necessary to fix and embrace goals. It is the mental equivalent of a dog chasing it’s tail. Intensive thinking creates details which break down into a million bits of minutiae. Every one of those bits holds profound import. One begins to hyper-focus on each bit. A mind become lost and confused in the sheer volume of its creation.

From such thinking, surely, madness comes.

So she breaks free long enough to risk conversation. Acutely vulnerable and exposed, she experiences the tsunami of affirmations, and flattery wash over and pull her further from the dark places despite her resolve. Still over-thinking, she weighs her options.

She has an absurd conference in her mind wherein the Rational and the Empirical and the Existential and the Pragmatic all compete for dominance.

Not having sorted herself out, she risks all by taking the hand she sees reaching toward her. She finds in that immense hand kindness. She feels love. She is surprised by the intense passion, the cumulative suppression of which has been revealed in this confluence. What is this? Can it be real? She knows she cannot evade him even if she wanted to because he knows her game.

The light is blinding. It is as painful as the darkness. As much as she wants to acclimate to this new place, she finds herself battling mightily against fears and uncertainties. She remembers a time long ago when she lived in this brightness and flourished. She recalls exactly when and why she retreated into herself after the fog rolled in on her. She knows that in the dark, she cannot be seen. In the dark, she feels safe from potential harm imposed on her. In the dark she is comfortably numb.

That warm hand…It is attached to realities she has desired, and intense experiences she has sought all her life. But his hand is attached to complications seemingly impossible to resolve. The hand proffered is conditional, and in the end will likely choose to retreat to it’s familiar place in it’s own dismal darkness.

To hope against hope is yet another path to madness.

She measures her resources and finds herself  too fragile to juggle this place of suspended animation and potential. If it was contingent on waiting, on riding it out, then perhaps…yes!  She could do that. But she knows better.  Maybe it’s not that she knows better as much as it is about her inability to handle further loss. She chews over parables and metaphors and cultural wisdoms:  if a thing is too good to be true, then it likely isn’t;  nothing ventured, nothing gained;  that which is worth having is worth waiting for.

She is too old and cynical for such bullshit.

She flees back to her dark fortress. A place of familiarity with its own wisdom: pain alone is better than pain shared.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

October 31, 2010

Pace e Tranquillità

My Homeland
~~~The Lake of Beauty~~~
Let your mind be quiet, realising the beauty of the world,
and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.
All that you have within you, all that your heart desires,
all that your Nature so specially fits you for – that or the
counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you.
It will surely come to you.

Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time
will it come. All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.
Therefore do not begin that game at all.
Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind
in this direction and in that,
lest you become like a spring lost and
dissipated in the desert.

But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them still, so still;
And let them become clear, so clear – so limpid, so mirror-like;
at last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in
peaceful beauty,
and the antelope shall descend to drink and to gaze at her reflected image, and the lion to quench his thirst,
and Love himself shall come and bend over and catch his own likeness in you.

From the liturgy for midday Prayer, New Zealand Prayer Book

August 5, 2010

Nella Luce: Inside the Light

For a time we played with sweetness
Chasing after loves protection
Safely sheltered from our darkness
Searching signs to seek direction
Reaching toward the light

Shelter from the storms
Hiding from the madness
Within a house of glass

So sure, so strong this time we felt it
Cold darkness losing to the the dawn
Reborn hope and plans- we meant it
Two hearts turned round again as one
Safe inside the light

Cracks appeared, we fell adrift
Of dreaming twilight by the sea
Our clashing ways couldn’t fit
In anger pushed us to be free
While seeking out the light

Shelter from the storms
Hiding from the madness
Within a house of glass

With all my heart I wish you well
And pray you’ll find the girl you need
Someone whose love will help you see
The love you hold inside the light

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

July 27, 2010

Luce del giorno: Cinquain VI and VII

(c)cjarc
Cinquain VI

First light
Eyelids clenched tight
“You are not here if I don’t look”
Child says.

Defy
The itch to peek
Beyond paralysis
To ascertain if there is need
Knocking

Embrace
Hope monsters flee
Replaced by gentle sun
Blessed by all warm love around me
Goodness.

Cinquain VII

Compline
Comes round. Think hard.
Take measure of my life
What has been done or left undone?
We’re asked.

Useful
Perhaps useless
Charity matters most
Above all choices one can choose
To love.

Loving
When most challenged
Scrubs away at the dross
Which entombs the beauty within
Brightly.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010/photo (c)cjarc/Grace Cathedral

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