vocal cords

Here's my vocal cords report.

I sang my first solo at the age of eight at the St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois during their Christmas Eve service. I sang from the balcony holding a battery lit candle and wearing a white choir robe. It's a big church, and it was standing room only.

I was not afraid. I couldn't wait to sing!

My mother was shocked and slightly horrified that she had a daughter who was, in her words, a show off. Ha!

My father wasn't horrified, he just didn't like organized religion and couldn't believe he was sitting in a pew. In protest, he kept his big Cuban cigar in his mouth throughout the service and when the ushers approached him he repeated, between gritted teeth, as I had seen him do so many times in so many places, "It's not lit."

Okay, so I didn't get a lot of encouragement from home about becoming a singer, but their encouragement never really mattered, I see this now. 

I cannot say that singing is my life any more than my hero Mister Dylan would say that about his long and illustrious career.

I would say that connecting with people and God over the singing of songs may be my life's work.

Now, adding the silence of the written word is also a great joy for me.

Thank God I like writing the silent word on the silent page, because it is saving my vocal cords.

Less talking, less singing, more communing with others. This is the balance my vocal cords need.

I lost my voice almost completely after forcing those last two shows of the recent Northwoods tour.

I could not cancel those shows although my voice had shut down almost completely due to a sudden onset of an upper respiratory infection. I barreled through and pushed my vocal cords, forced my vocal cords, to perform.

Well, that is not the way to have a singing career at any age.

I take a steroid inhaler daily for asthma. Asthma makes you hoarse sort of anyway. Get bronchitis, get short of breath, keep singing, lose your voice.

We are recording the final vocals this week for my wonderful old time cover tunes album.

So far Rob says we don't have any final takes because my voice is like eighty percent.

That last twenty percent is the stuff of greatness when it comes to recorded vocals.

The question is whether to shoot the wad on the antibiotics, which I had to use in March of this year on tour as well.

So, this would be a second round in the same year, and that's to be avoided.

Also, it means that if I get sick on this upcoming Europe tour of three weeks, I don't have the fall back option of antibiotics.

The other option in the asthmatic singer's bag of tricks is Prednisone. This stuff makes you feel great and terrible all at the same time. But it can really help get things shaped up fast.

I'm going to go with the small dose of Prednisone now and save the antibiotic for a real disaster like a high fever...which let's just pray never happens at all, to any of us. 

So, that's the vocal cord report.

Lots of vitamin C, lots of herbal tea and honey, lemon juice, gargling with warm salt water (delicious, no).

Singing scales in four octaves at the piano, carefully, gingerly even.

Praying.

Gratitude.

Gotta knock this out of the park, and soon.

making stuff for my fans in Europe

I'm getting really excited about my Europe tour in August!

One thing I am super excited about is what I'm making to sell at my merch table.

I can't wait for my fans to see!

I am not feigning this enthusiasm either.

I feel the way you feel when you have bought someone what you feel is the absolute perfect gift and you can't wait for them to open it.

I already really love my pretty things I sell at my shows.

I love the way my "Sidney" novel has the guitar with flowers on the front, and how the "High Priestess and The Renegade" album has the picture of me with the flowers in my hair, and how the "Red Letter Day" red vinyl is so much fun with the other "Red Letter Day" cd offerings. So, there's already a lot to love.

My latest additions for this tour will be a new cd of eight cover songs. These are all songs I play at my concerts on tour. We are hand burning and packaging this first run of one or two hundred. If we all love this it will go out to the world as a full album this fall!

Second thing I am thrilled about is a set of small hand written books I'm making. Each book is small, like 4 inches by 5 inches, and each is written and designed by me. They have drawings and poems and little funny quotes, plus hand written lyrics from my songs and personal wishes and ideas for the reader. You can buy one for yourself and I will write your name with mine on the cover, or you can buy them as gifts and I can put the person's name on it for you. They are really sweet and I am loving making them. I plan to have at least twenty to bring for the Europe tour, but it would be better if I can make forty! We'll see what I can do!

So much to be excited about, so much to do.

I am in the recording studio today singing the last three cover songs and then we do overdubs and mixing this coming week!

no where to hide

I have no where to hide now.

Music is the saving grace as it always was.

When I was a young girl my mother was unkind and unjust and I was often so furious at the injustices she doled out.

When I was up North during the summers I was there alone with my mother much of the time and she made me into her Cinderella, doing chores much of the day. Poor me. Well, yeah, for me it was poor me. Write your own story if you don't like mine.

There were no other kids like me up there. There were local rural kids who were rough and tumble and there were vacationing squeamish city kids who only came for a week or two at a time. I was often left to my own devices and because I was lonely, bored, and often angry I found my guitar that my grandmother had given me probably just by happenstance to be my best tool. I learned songs that other songwriters had written about being frustrated or lonely. Then I tried to write my own songs about being frustrated or lonely. Many of my songs too were about appreciating Nature or my idea of God.

My mother held all the money and she ruled over the kitchen so I could never have as much of anything as I would have liked.

If I tried to pour a second glass of lemonade she would say I was wasting it and should just have a glass of water. If I tried to eat a second one of the delicious cookies she often baked she would say I was going to get fat. 

I couldn't drown my sorrows on food or drink because she wouldn't let me.

My kids used to say a funny thing to me if they wanted to eat a big bowl of ice cream or a handful of Oreo cookies, they'd say to me , "Mom, just let me, I'm eating my feelings." Haha. So sophisticated in their awarenesses compared to how I was. I didn't have anything thought through, I just tried to survive.

When I learned that drinking wine and beer and margaritas felt fun and wild...at the age of forty-two....I found a new way to avoid sorrow, avoid frustration, avoid responsibility.

I really am not down on alcohol at all. I love the delight of a cold glass of Prosecco on an Italian terrazza as much as the next girl.

I'm just saying that, since I was little I couldn't really be a binge eater or a binge drinker, and I had few ways to escape as a child.

And what I'm trying to say now is that I am realizing that a guitar and a notebook are again my very best escape.

And I'm also saying that indulgences of food and drink have always appealed to me because my mother so closely monitored my behavior that I was left with a feeling, going into adulthood, that I could never have enough.

This feeling haunted me, troubled me, brought trouble to my life.

I think I'm finally healing that tortured feeling of never enough.

"You can look at the menu but you just can't eat..." that's an old Howard Jones song about cheating on your lover, but it applies to this general feeling and it's aptly titled "No One Is To Blame" although in my case I'm blaming my mom which isn't very nice but it's true. 

affluence is not hoarding

I have been thinking about my attitude towards wealth.

I think I got a bad taste of wealth a couple of times in my life and so I started thinking that wealth was bad and that wealthy people were bad.

I have known some men and women who made a lot of money.

Some of them became isolationists, elitists, hoarders.

When I drive by a country club I think of this immediately, this "keeping out the riff raff" mentality.

When I see a gated community I think of lives spent buying a lot of stuff.

I have been on both sides of those fences.

I am grappling with my bad feelings towards affluence now because I am also desiring affluence.

The Latin origin of the word affluence is a word that means "flow".

I think there are beautiful wise people who have experienced the flow of wealth coming towards themselves and have been able to continue that flow by directing the blessings of wealth to others as well.

I want to make money from my art projects and I want to be a person who continues the flow, whatever comes to me flows through me and on to bless others.

That's the way I'm gonna do it when I have a lot of money.

alcohol

Big surprise here, did not see this one coming: the medications I take, specifically a steroid inhaler for my asthma and an estrogen replacement for my...everything.... have both been deemed to be possibly linked to breast cancer when there is also a presence of alcohol in the body.

Buzz kill.

People who have toured with me know that, especially on tour, I like to have a glass of white wine with a salad for lunch, and a glass again with a light dinner before the show. Then there's usually a third glass with friends and fans after the show.

This routine does not put me under the table by any means. It has been generally regarded as a positive among the people who work with me, I would say.

I had, as a fan recently described, "a fear-based childhood". One of the fears was travel of any kind in any type of moving anything. I used to have to take Dramamine all the time to fly or ride in a car for long periods. 

I didn't start drinking any alcohol on any kind of regular basis until I started this career at 42 years of age.

I never drank anything at home as a young mother. I was afraid of alcohol and drugs. I was afraid of people who used anything at all. 

I didn't like to be around anyone who's mood was being altered. 

Rock and Roll and Rob Genadek changed all that for me!

Rob would say, "what you need is a liquid lunch!" and we'd go get margaritas at the place next to his studio.

I was always a basket case about the recordings, the rehearsals, the shows. I was always miserable with frustration that it wouldn't be good enough, that I was failing, that it was all for nought.

Anyway, I have never had an addictive personality per say and I have no trouble stopping bad habits if I make the decision to stop.

So when a fan at one of our Up North shows told me that women my age were being advised by the Mayo Clinic new studies to drink less or ideally not drink at all to avoid several kinds of cancer, I stopped right then.

I stopped, and I thought, "well I'll just not drink anything until I find out more about this."

I did some research and I discovered that women my age and cancer risk from drinking alcohol is a thing, but a woman my age who takes steroids for asthma and takes Estrogen replacement for..everything..and drinks alcohol is an ever bigger thing.

So, I'm not drinking alcohol.

When not on tour I drink less often but maybe still average one glass of wine per day.

I had no trouble stopping at all.

I don't know if I will have more anxiety traveling without the IV of white wine, but we're gonna find out starting August 3rd!

The good part of all this is that I am surprised that not drinking at all so far is making me feel younger and lighter.

I didn't realize that drinking wine had gone from the bad girl novelty of my last ten years to being the obligatory sort of old lady-ish glass of white wine of my next ten years. 

Yuck!

I think what had been fun and sassy was turning into stuck in a rut.

So, woohoo, no alcohol!

I made a pitcher of raspberry lemonade with fresh mint and cilantro yesterday. The raspberries were from the garden I'm working on at Rob's house. I used sparkling water to make it fun. It was fun. Over the course of the afternoon I drank the whole thing. And the more of it I drank the more fabulous I felt. I can't say that about my favorite rosé. Nope I can't.

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