Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category


He did not mean for it to happen
He was just doing what kids do

Capture and release
Wanting to hold something beautiful

But when he  uncupped his hands
A delicate pair of wings  stuck to his palm
A newly flightless creature crawled across his knuckles

Put it down, I said, before you hurt it more

There, he said, as he flicked it off his hand,
Now it has a new life

We watched it crawl along the ground

Yes, I replied
It can happen that fast

word pressButterfly

Letting Go

Posted: September 6, 2013 in Dark Phase, images, motherhood
Tags: , ,

I am teaching my children time travel.  It works like this:

Wherever you are right now – pay attention.  Close your eyes.   Notice how your feet feel on the floor; move them around a little to get the full texture.  Listen to the sound your feet are making as they move.  What other parts of your body are touching your surroundings?  Move ever so slightly to take in the sensation.

Listen. What do you hear?  The whoosh of cars going by?  Dishes clinked together while being washed?  Someone typing on a computer?  Music playing on the stereo?

Now take a deep breath.  The air doesn’t just carry the scent of your surroundings; it has a quality to it. It might be heavy with humidity, or thin and cold. But also pay attention to the smell.  Scents are evocative; they can be powerful triggers of memory.

Finally look around and look closely.  See the whole area from the large objects to one or two tiny details you may have never noticed.  And really look at those details.  If you look long enough it will be like seeing something for the first time because perhaps it is.

When you’ve captured your surroundings like this, in a mindful way, tell yourself you’re saving this for later.  I can’t guarantee that everything you save will still be there, but you will find some of it again years from now.  And when you find it, for a second you will be back in that space.   And maybe, depending on how much time has elapsed between the initial imprint and the playback, that place won’t really exist anywhere but in your memory.  And it will feel like time travel.

I tell this to my children but I’m not sure they fully understand.  When you’re a child it can feel like your world is a rock, solid and unmovable.  But as an adult you come to realize how quickly things can change.  Something that seemed certain on one day is already gone the next  and then you need to learn to let go of it.  But if you weren’t really paying attention in the first place  you can get all messed up.  You start making substitutions for what it is you thought you had.  You imagine it bigger or smaller or more or less important than it actually was.  You start having feelings for it that you didn’t have at the time.

And so it’s good to take a moment, wherever you are, to really look around to see what is it you have right now.  Later, when it’s gone, you can visit with it as it really was, or at least as close to what you perceived it to be,  and you can be there again just for a moment before you let it go.

memory board

As crafty as I get

As crafty as I get


Summer has hit the bay area.  Here in my neck of the woods we’re weathering temperatures as high as the low 70′s.  Don’t laugh, that’s really warm for us.  I haven’t worn my black hoodie all day and now I’m sporting shorts.  I’d take the kids to the beach but I know it will be packed with people who are pretending they are in Hawaii and that just gets on my nerves.

Our favorite beach time is in January and February when your rain boots can do double duty to both keep your feet dry and the sand out of your socks.  Nothing like sitting on a deserted beach, bundled up in a jacket and a scarf beneath a hazy winter sky, watching all the hardcore surfers bob up and down in the arctic waters waiting to catch the perfect swell. And you always get the best spot on the beach too, a little nook in the rocks to shelter you from the winds.  Don’t forget the sand toys.

With the kids home from school we’ve been checking out the local attractions. We’ve hit the bowling alley, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve,  and the San Francisco Zoo.  Next on my list is Playland-Not-At-the-Beach in El Cerrito. In between the big outings we do the usual things like parks, playgrounds, the library, and of course arts and crafts here at home.  My kids live for the next Oriental Trading Company catalog to show up in our mailbox so they can make plans for a dozen inflatable beach balls or juggling scarves.  This time around we ordered some wooden fish to color and I splurged on a bag of self adhesive jewels, which I plan to stick to everything and everything I can think of, knowing that eventually the glue will dry out and they will all fall off.  While others may feel that spending money on cheap sundries is a waste, I feel it teaches kids a valuable lesson: everything falls apart, nothing is permanent.

With all this frenzy of summer fun, I am doing my best to put in some music practice time. I have a show with the Debora Iyall Group coming up on July 4th at the World One Festival which should be a blast, even without all the fireworks.

I’m also finishing up the tracking and mixing of two songs for my side project, Shot in the Dark.  We played our first online/Second Life show on June 23rd and received a positive reception so I’m excited to get some finished music out there, wherever “there” is.

Finally I’ve got a video project in the works for Zoid.  The ball is in my court and I can see where I want to take it, but the work involved is a little daunting as it requires a lot of sitting quietly at my computer and fiddling with Adobe After Effects.  It’s much easier to go outside with the kids and bop around a dozen or so beach balls from the Oriental Trading Company, because these warm days, like all those beach balls are not here forever.

It really is all about finding balance, isn’t it?

Here’s a couple of things for you to give a listen and look. First,  here’s a song from the Shot in the Dark online show:

Fan Fic (Sexy Serial Killer) – Shot in the Dark, live

And the last video I created for Zoid, which I think turned out pretty well.  Would love to hear what you think in the comments!


Happy New Year!

Goodbye, 2012.  You were a pretty good year.

New Year’s Eve has always been a bittersweet event for me.  I remain a creature of possibility.  A hard, fast ending that involves a countdown followed by a melancholy tune rhetorically questioning if we should forgot the days that have gone by can reduce me to tears as I realize all that could have been won’t be.  At least not this year. But then, poof, here comes 365 days of possibility, wonder, amazement.  You can’t turn down a fresh start.

I’ve become a little more fluid in my thinking these days and have recognized possibilities and fresh starts are available almost any time or place, but it still feels good to demarcate the beginning and ending of 52 weeks.  It makes it easier to look back and say things like, “That was the year my youngest son started school;” “That was the year my oldest son grew taller than me;” “That was the year I began to feel like if I put in the time and effort, I could really become a musician;” “That was that year I felt my life had come together and I became aware and  amazed by how much love and beauty surrounds me.”

Actually I  would never say that last sentence because it’s a little too New Age-y for me.  One cannot thrive on the power of failure and fully embrace the positive affirmation.  It seems to me positive affirmations are tossed around far too willy-nilly these days anyway, and often I sense there is a less than positive subtext beneath.  In my cynical little blackened heart I  feel that the much touted “I’m so blessed” Facebook status update translates into: “My life is soooo much better than yours.”  Seriously, if Mother Theresa were alive and on Facebook she wouldn’t be posting how freakin’ blessed she is every 15 minutes! Get over yourselves, people!  You’re trying too hard, and I’m pretty sure all those pictures of your family have been heavily retouched!

Ahem. I feel better now. But this does bring me to the obligatory list of New Year’s Resolution.  My first resolution is to limit my Facebook time to one session per day (and preferably a session that lasts no more than 5 hours) or at the very least,to figure out how to turn off the status updates of the Facebook friends who annoy me.  Beyond that, I should  work on my self confidence, but then I realize I would never be able to do that, I just don’t have that kind of strength of character.  So instead I have resolved to take up a bunch of  low level bad habits (like not flossing twice a day or biting my nails) and then next year I can resolve to stop doing those things, which should be fairly easy to accomplish,  thereby boosting my sense of self worth.  Sometimes you have to look at the big picture with these resolutions. My final resolution is to have the mess from my New Year’s Eve party cleaned up by next New Year’s Eve.

Seriously though, I’m looking forward to a lot in 2013, including working on my second CD, playing music with the Debora Iyall Group (DIG for short), perhaps continuing a side project with my friend Pauli Gray, and of course spending lots of time with my kids who are growing up way faster than I thought possible.

For those of you who have stopped in and read my entries in 2012, thanks so much for reading.  Hope you have a great 2013!

I'm sooo blessed!

Some of my favorite gifts from this Holiday Season.






A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed some really heavy bass synth sounds for a song I’m working on.  I loves me some free VST Plugins, but thought I might broaden my horizons and check out free demos to see the range of what is out there.  I came across Native Instruments’ Massive, immediately downloaded it , fired up Cubase and was ready to give it a whirl when my son called me into his room.  He wanted to show me something he had created.  I tried putting him off for a few minutes while I messed  with a couple of the presets,  but it became apparent he really wanted my attention so off I went.

After checking out my son’s latest Lego creation, I headed back towards the kitchen only to spy a basket of laundry I had collected a little earlier that day.  I decided to be proactive and take the laundry down to the washing machine.  Once I had the wash started I realized there was more laundry in the dryer.  I’ve been working very hard to stay on top of things and not let it all pile up, so I took that laundry upstairs, folded it and put it away.  In the process I came across a shirt that needed a button sewn back on.  Well, there happened to be a few things in my “needs mending” pile, so I took all of that out to the living room, sat down and made necessary repairs. Now I felt really good about myself.  I was getting things done!

I started towards the bedroom by way of the kitchen when I saw my laptop sitting there with  an odd message on the screen.  I immediately checked it out in fear that is was my  virus protection software alerting me to some download doom.  Nope.  It was simply a message from Native Instruments telling me my thirty minute trial of Massive was up and thanking me for giving it a try. D’oh!



In the past 72 hours I have:

- Donated supplies to the Occupy San Franciso base camp.

- Eaten wasabi coated roasted seaweed. Yum!

- Been amazed at how well my 4 yr old can swing on his own.

- Completed 7 videos to accompany my live performance at El Rio on Tuesday October, 4th (7 pm sharp, in case you are wondering).

- Engaged in melee combat with 4 other fighters, all of us armed with bokkens.  I was defeated in every single round.

- Completed many loads of laundry and dishes.

- Practiced music for my El Rio show and also the show I will be playing in Second Life tomorrow afternoon.

- Promised my 11 yr old that this afternoon when he gets home from school I will play the level of VVVVVV he created.

- Hiked up Mori Point and marveled at the color of the ocean.

- Read about an Oklahoma woman, a mother to 11 children, who is now attending  Harvard and thought to myself, “I should be doing more.”

I spent yesterday trying to dig up all the weeds from a patch of ground in my backyard where I have unsuccessfully attempted to grow a garden.  Currently there are two zucchini plants there which have bloomed and bloomed all summer  but have yet to produce a single zucchini, and then a rather sprawling poppy plant.  I have promised myself that next year-next year – there will be a glorious bed of  flowers surrounding a small plot of vegetables, perhaps sweet peas, pumpkins and beets.  It will be beautiful and fragrant and buzzing with bees. (My kids hate bees.  Maybe I’ll rethink the flowers.)

This morning  I woke up a little sore from all that weeding. I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down at my computer, just like every morning,  to check in with all the online things I have that need tending – e-mails, social network connections, etc.  I am so much more attentive to these things.  Sometimes I feel too attentive to my online life, too plugged in to my computer, and too attached to technology in general.

I have a small list of life skills that I wish I’d learned better when I was young – sewing, cooking, gardening.  I avoided those things back then because they seemed the height of domesticity, and I of course was going to be a rock star.  I now appreciate how those things add value to my family’s life, particularly cooking and gardening.  Good food is very important and I’m increasingly more cautious of the food available in restaurants and grocery stores.  

I also love how tactile those activities are.  So many different textures are involved with weeding, or cooking, or creating something with cloth or yarn.  Technology makes everything smooth – the keys on my laptop, the roller ball on my mouse, even the keys on my synthesizer and the buttons on my sampler are smooth, almost bland. I sometimes wonder if it’s not making my life similar – smooth, bland. 

 As we move into August, the final summer month, I want to spend less time at my computer and more time outside preparing my fledgling garden or just running around with my kids.  I want to make healthy, yummy food for my family and decorate my house to match the changing seasons. 

I’ll still be doing music of course.  I have shows coming up in October and November.  Those months seems far away right now, but after the upcoming family vacation we have planned, it will be  time for the kids to go back to school and then the days will do that crazy, runaway train thing that happens at the end of each year,  like a rush to the downhill finish of  Christmas.   

How about you?  Do you every feel too plugged in?  Do certain times of the year make you more aware of your time spent working online versus working in the real world?   I’d love to hear about it.

My mother died 4 months after my second son was born.  The last time I had  a coherent conversation with her was on the phone in my hospital room, letting her know she had a second grandson.  The woman I spoke with after that was no longer in touch with reality. When the time came,  my nearly newborn son and I flew across the country to sit with my dying mother for ten days in a nursing home. There I watched her fade  from this world while  my son become more aware.  It was the powerful balance of life and death unfolding before me, and I tried to attend to the needs of each.    This song is about that time.

I performed it at my CD release party and it was hard singing something so personal in front of a large crowd of friends who were having a good time.  Still, I would like to share it here.


Oh the tender time has come

The moment soft and open

Now the ebb and now the flow

Once the weight, but now the fulcrum

Oh the tender time is done

It is the mystery that we’ve been given

Soft then harsh, soft then gone

Our bodies pull to the rhythm

Oh the tender time has come

Cocoon and butterfly

Here for the first time and the last time

Take my hand before you fly

And we are birthing the soul from the body

And we are birthing the child from the mother

And we are birthing the soul from the body

And we are birthing the mother from the child

And we are birthing the soul from the body

And we are birthing the child from the mother

And we are birthing the soul from the body

And we are birthing the mother from the child

The mother from the child



I often find I get the most work accomplished by setting out to do a task and, in avoidance of it,  I end up doing another task I have put off.  For instance, I seem to have written and recorded a lot of music because I really needed to clean my house.   Even  back when I was in college I found the best time for working on a long, involved term paper was when I was sitting in a lecture on another subject.   In short, if you put me in a situation that requires me to do activity A, I will inevitably find a way to do activity B.

 And so now I have finished my CD and I have a long list of plans designed to promote it.  This in and of itself is a slippery slope, because Rational Me keeps telling myself, “You’ve reached your goal.  Anything that happens after this is icing on the cake. But recognize that it’s an angel food cake – very light, a bit bland and probably no icing.”  But Fanciful Me says “You go, girl! Who knows what could happen.  Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!” (Fanciful Me is hoping to receive a cease and desist from Casey Kasem because any publicity is good publicity).

 In addition to promoting my CD, I’ve got lots of practicing to do for my CD release show (I’m playing not just my solo stuff, but also a set with The Little Things and then again with Falling Pauli), and I’m also doing some shows in Second Life on July 18th and a large festival on July 24th.  The Second Life shows require a whole different set of material and performance style.  After adding it all up, I need to practice 90 minutes of music at a shot to stay on top of the game until the 24th.   Suddenly my music is becoming . . . work with commitments and responsibilities. I feel the push and I start to feel pushed away.  It’s almost like Newton’s third law of motion played out emotionally. 

 So naturally all I want to do now is play with my kids and keep the house tidy.  Not just serviceable tidy,   we’re talking reorganizing closets and cupboards, updating my towels and sheets to match the new colors of my freshly painted bedroom and bathroom,  washing my car and cleaning out the inside with a vacuum and cloth.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even make an angel food cake with a light glaze, and eat it too.

Mmmmmm, cake!