When the going gets tough…

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Hey Pals. I know it has been what, like almost a year since I’ve blogged? To say I’ve been busy, is the understatement of the century! It was around this exact time last year, that life as I knew it, was changing in more ways than I had planned for or expected. Yes, I was pregnant, with a baby girl a few months away… I KNEW that! Brandon and I were making plans for our future, as well as our present, when, well, things changed that changed our idea of what the future looked like…

 

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This quote really does say it best. The past year has been a whole lot of chaos. A huge promotion that promised freedom from financial stress. An unexpected demotion that put us in a pickle. A big sour hairy pickle. Not the kind you want on a stick at the fair, or cut up on top of your burger. A scramble to survive. The birth of a beautiful baby girl. A letter of resignation. A lawsuit. Fear. Lawyers. Stress. Conflict. The saga continues…

 

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“Fight! they must fall, and thou must live, victor upon this plain!”

There have been many times over this last year that I have referred to the Bhagavad Gita. It is an inspiring story of war — not war as we know it in simple human terms — but the war of the soul, the war of the spirit, the war for justice, the war of destiny. The basic premise of the book is that the warrior Arjuna, is conflicted, moments before he is to wage a war against members of his own family. He is on the side of justice; his friends, and even some of his family members have been greedy, and ignorant. But he does not want to fight. He doesn’t want to be responsible for the bloodshed, for the outcome. Krishna, who is his spiritual teacher (and a great warrior), can’t help Arjuna win the battle, but agrees to drive his chariot, and as he drives the chariot, he gives Arjuna advice and inspiration that leads him through this epic battle. And basically it comes down to this. It is Arjuna’s destiny to fight this battle. If he does not fight the battle, the very fabric of the future will be affected. The destinies of all future generations rest in his hands, in his willingness to accept his duty, to perform his dharma, or purpose, and to let go of attachment to the outcome, and instead focus on how his action is a service to the Divine.

“When doubts haunt me and disappointments stare me in the face and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me; I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

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One of the most difficult things about difficult moments in life, is that we do not get to decide, and we do not know, how long they will last. Because of that, we often feel like giving up before the battle is done, before the wisdom of the suffering has been revealed. What we need, at moments like these, is endurance, and the ability to perform our duty and our actions tirelessly, without letting our emotions and thoughts distract us, exhaust us, or deter us. NO ONE is immune from the inevitable battles of life. As my beloved continues to face his battle, to fight it, I have to remind him, that he is here in this moment, because of his destiny, and also his choice. And I stand with him, facing my own fears and challenges, because of my destiny, and my choice. I can’t say enough about how the practice of yoga continues to hold me and guide me and inspire me and nourish me on this journey called life.

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You see my friends, giving up isn’t a choice, for any of us really. I know you. I know you to be noble, and well-intentioned, with a good heart, with a fierce heart. I know some of the battles you are fighting. But we have to remember that we are NOT the victims of our circumstances. We are in this moment because our destiny has brought us here to teach us something, AND because of our choices. We have a choice in every moment. When you struggle in your marriage, or even in divorce, remember that at some point you chose that partner. When your life feels overrun with the chaos of being a parent, remember that you chose that child, or those children. When you struggle in your job, in staying or in leaving it, remember that is your choice. When the moment rises where you initiate change, the change is your choice. The wisdom of the heart that guides you is your destiny. But stay strong. Stay focused. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t indulge in the lies of fear, or entitlement, revenge or apathy. Set your sets on the highest high, have trust that no matter the struggle, you are not alone, you are held in the arms of something so much greater than your little smart mind, your little fearful mind, could possibly fathom.

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I believe in you. I believe in the struggle. I believe it is for a reason. Even in this last year, in the chaos of it, I have reaped bountiful blessings. I have never felt closer to my husband. I am learning to let go of the fear of financial uncertainty and trust that all that I need will be provided. I am learning to find thankfulness for the mess of motherhood, to let go of perfection for the beauty of reality. I am seeing abundance in an entirely new way. I am feeling less entitled, less attracted to soothing my fears with things. I am learning to ASK for help, to ACCEPT help, to admit I don’t have it all together and yes please I’d love your help and thank you so much and no I know I am not now foreverly indebted to you for your act of kindness. I owe no one anything, except my presence. The more I relax and trust and have faith, and be a servant of my life, the more presence I have to give. So thank you, life, for giving me this battle, for giving my husband this battle to fight, for all it is teaching us, for the ways it is transforming us, and strengthening us, and inspiring us. And for all of you, bless you in your struggles. May you find what you need to keep going, to fight the good fight, to keep your head up, to keep your heart open. And if you need some inspiration, read the Bhagavad Gita. Ekanth Easwaran’s translation is om-azing. Om. Amen. Hallelujah!

This song popped into my head as I wrote this today… Maybe it will make you smile!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBCWLhlJV0Y

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A tribe of women

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There was a time hundreds of years ago when, and likely still is, in remote villages in Africa and Asia, where the women of a tribe or community know exactly how to take care of each other. I would like to imagine that in this place, it is one of their most important daily activities; taking care of each other and the children, and the elderly, and of course, the men.

There have been moments in my life, and many since this pregnancy, when I have longed for this kind of tribal bond with a group of wise women– women who know what herbs to make tea from for morning sickness, what flowers and oils to mix to rub into an exhausted sore body, what songs to sing to soothe a troubled mind, or to help transport a sister to the spiritual space beyond the mind.

I have described the experience of the previous births of my children to a few friends in terms of this kind of reality; I literally heard the beat of drums, the whispers of encouragement from my female ancestors, felt the flames of the fire against my skin, knew how to follow the ashes and sparks into the dark sky as the intensity of laboring deepened.

I am now in the final days or possibly (but hopefully not) weeks before my third child, my first daughter,  is going to be born. I am feeling the urge to retreat inward– if there was a tent, or cave, that I could enter, that is where I would be. I imagine a small group of women there with me, who don’t need to speak, or do anything out of habit or boredom or restlessness, and yet, know exactly what to pull from the silence at any given moment. They know what foods to give me, what fabrics and colors and threads to weave as we sit together. We are not waiting, though we are preparing, but not with any sense of spinning, or panic. No one knows exactly what will happen when, but each woman’s wisdom sees certain elements of what I have left to learn, what will happen next and how.

In this space, we would not worry about whether or not it was enough to be a mother, or whether we were not good mothers for also enjoying our work outside of the home. We would not feel insecure of the strengths we lack, but recognize in each other, nor would we prey upon each other’s weaknesses because of our own jealousies. There would be space for all of us to love each other without fear that some of us might be loved more than others. Because we would know, especially as women, that there is no container large enough to hold the love we all are given; we only learn as best as we can, to follow the trickle of a stream to the vastness of the ocean.

We all carry our secrets: shame, fear, anger and more. And yet, in this space, there is no reason to blame ourselves for what we didn’t know then; we’ve always done our best to survive; we’ve risen from many fires, and will inevitably be consumed again and again by the flames of life’s struggles; by those karmic lessons waiting to be learned. We can look in each other’s eyes and see the pain of truth, the lies of fear, and the beauty of hope and faith. We can laugh together, and hold each other, and relish in the covenant of trust that is the foundation of sisterhood.

I recently had the opportunity to gather with a small group of female friends to celebrate the impending arrival of my daughter. They knew what foods and drinks to bring, the space to create, the gifts to give. We sat around the table, painting and sewing, dreaming and laughing, fussing and oohing over our small creations. We spoke of our lives, we laughed and agreed as we compared our men, we shook our heads, we smiled and breathed.

After everyone had left, I realized, I had found my dream, my cave, my space. These friends came here to my home and blessed it with their wisdom and love and grace. As I sit now in my home, and continue to prepare for the arrival of my little goddess, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, that this group of women came together, and knew exactly what to do– they gave me exactly what I needed– and my heart is so full.

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There is one who is so beautiful, and yet thinks it is not enough to inspire the world with her simple beauty, and so lets her mind become more than it needs to be; there is another who has known so much suffering and has risen to become endlessly loving, generous, and gentle; one whose heart is so vast and tender, who has tried to prove herself as stronger and better than she never needed to be; another who faces the world as flint, creator of spark, who perhaps forgets to receive the fire of love within her very being; the wise quiet one, who mostly listens, and when speaks, brings laughter and nods of the deepest truths; and the one who spins creativity tirelessly, effortlessly, loyally, beautifully.

Which one are you, if not all of these, my friend? And how could I not be so humbled to know you?

Thank you, for being exactly who you are. Soul sister. Inspirer. Nurturer. Anchor. Friend.

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A tongue dipped in ink: the muse alights!

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Yeah it’s been a while, I know. But I’m not going to give you a single excuse or apology. I’ve been busy, out there in the trenches, living the good life as best as I can.

But every once in a while, the writing muse descends upon me in a way too serendipitous and obvious to ignore. Last night the window opened and in she came, and in the place of my usually neurotic thoughts that circle before going to bed, there was a poem. And when I woke up this morning, there was another. And when these things happen, they should, in my opinion, be shared rather than hoarded or squandered. So here is a little gift from the universe to me to you…

 

THE EAGLE

I always imagined the eagle as a sharp pointed thing

of beak and talon, a ruthless hunter with eyes that show

not softness or remorse, only the golden thrill of attack.

 

In zoo’s cages where we get the closest peek,

the impotence of capture steals his flame; a broken

wing, a dulling beak, and no sign of freedom’s wing.

 

In the wild, not meant to be seen, except by chance’s

lucky strike, the eagle soars and dips and dives

to his own whims, devours the fish, does as he likes.

 

In spacious nest he guards his most beloved, watches

sky and earth for danger nearing, his fuzzy children

thrive under his gaze, their futures bright as golden eye.

 

And yet this day I see him in the sky, neither hunting

or with purpose or direction. He dives up high then spreads

his wings and spirals low as if amusement were his guide.

 

I watch in awe as I wonder, why this majestic beast

would choose to glide instead of pump against the tide

of wind, away from concrete highway, back towards sky.

 

And then he opens wings and holds his place, beak

firmly pointed towards the wind; going nowhere, held

in space, and then in pause I take a deep breath in.

 

The message he conveys is no mistake, the world

widens as I take it in, for freedom comes not only

from the fight, but also from surrender, giving in.

 

IN WHAT WAYS, MY FRIENDS, DO YOUR IDEAS ABOUT FREEDOM AND FIERCENESS, ACTION AND SURRENDER, MOVE YOU TOWARDS YOUR WILDEST, HAPPIEST, FREE-EST, MOST FULFILLING LIFE, AND IN WHAT WAYS DO THESE HABITS OF THOUGHT, CONDITIONINGS, CULTURAL IDEAS HOLD YOU BACK?

HERE’S TO FREEDOM!

OM. AMEN. HALLELUJAH!

 

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Make you feel my love

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I’m on day 6 of Bhakti sadhana, and part of the process can involve choosing a sacred text of some kind to read. I am reading “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. Boy do I love it! Here’s a few of the great quotes so far:

“Bricks and mortar sing us no audible tune; the heart opens only to the human chant of being.” 

A poem in the book, by Mirabai: 

“If by bathing daily God could be realized,

Sooner would I be a whale in the deep;

If by eating roots and fruits He could be known

Gladly would I choose the form of a goat;

If the counting of rosaries uncovered him

I would say my prayers on mammoth beads;

If bowing before stone images unveiled Him

A flinty mountain I would humbly worship;

If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed

Many calves and children would know Him;

If abandoning one’s wife could summon God

Would not thousands be eunuchs?

Mirabai knows that to find the Divine One

The only indispensable is Love.

…And I’m thinking about love. No, I’m feeling love. Thinking and feeling are two completely different things, and frankly I’m tired of living in my head. The only indispensable is LOVE. Thinking about om, and how in the mantra om, not only do we reach out to the divine, but the divine answers back, in the same moment. See there is no separation, there is no this and that, no give and take. Love is flowing in all directions in all moments. Listen and you will hear it. Stop thinking and you will feel it. What is the chant of YOUR being? Where, and how are you feeling love RIGHT NOW? Listen. It’s calling for you!

Om. Amen. Hallelujah!

check it in musical serenade, Adele-style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZXjqwOxH4g&feature=related

When the rain
Is blowing in your face
And the whole world
Is on your case
I could offer you
A warm embrace
To make you feel my loveWhen the evening shadows
And the stars appear
And there is no – one there
To dry your tears
I could hold you
For a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you
Haven’t made

Your mind up yet
But I would never
Do you wrong
I’ve known it
From the moment
That we met
No doubt in my mind
Where you belong

I’d go hungry
I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawling
Down the avenue
Know there’s nothing

That I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my loveThe storms are raging
On the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change
Are blowing wild and free
You ain’t seen nothing
Like me yet

I could make you happy
Make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends
Of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love, To make you feel my love

(thanks Bob Dylan…)

A total eclipse of the heart

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Oh my beloved blog friends, forgive me for my hiatus. But that’s what happens. Life grabs you by the tail, swings you around, and pretty soon you’ve wasted weeks cyber-window-shopping and reading facebook status updates without contributing squat to the world (or more specifically to the virtual technological community we call “internet), or without saying anything even remotely profound, or at least, that’s what happened to me…

But I’m back now, and I’ve got plenty to say. We won’t look too far back into the past, since it’s clearly gone, but we’ll start with last Sunday, because it is the first day of the week thanks to good ol’ Julius Caesar.

Sunday was the solar eclipse. If you want to get into the deep astrological implications of it, check this out: http://darkstarastrology.com/solar-eclipse-may-2012/#.T77fZBwoIc8. 

Did you see it? I didn’t get to see it, I was putting my kiddos to bed while it was happening, while trying to listen to a teleconference eclipse meditation offered by the wonderful Miss Shiva Rea. So I got the vibe. In Venice Beach, CA, where the meditation was held, literally on the beach, there was a fog over the water, so they were able to view the eclipse with relatively naked eyes. I felt the transmission through the meditation, which I finished after both of my boys were beautifully asleep.

So what’s the big deal? Sunday was an especially good day to start something new. (not that today is too late!) So I did. I started something new. I started a bhakti sadhana. A what? A bhakti (devotional) sadhana (practice). It’s a yoga thing. It’s a 30ish day climb from new moon to waxing full moon to waning new moon. It’s a commitment, made for the purest reasons, to get closer to your “Self” and understand your “self” a little better. Bhakti is the art of easing the line between Self and self, lover and lovee, divine and human, etc. etc. etc. It’s like hopping on a love train; you don’t know exactly where you’re going, but it feels so good to let the wind blow through the open window and mess up the hair of your heart and let go of all that crap weighing you down. It’s a lot of om-ing, sing-ing, chant-ing, smiling, hugging, breathing, gratitude, love, receptivity, and generosity.

We had a little yoga pow wow on Saturday May 19, where I led a great group of willing yogis through the initiation into bhakti sadhana. So I had to be the proof in the pudding, or however that saying goes, because I encouraged all of them to begin on May 20th, and so I began. It’s a slow process, detoxifying all the limits on love. And I hear the Divine saying to me “why do you look for me, when I am all around you?” And I’m thinking about the ways in which we put the divine in a cage, like a lion, and decide that the only place we can find it is THERE (church, music, poetry, yoga, you name it). The lion wants to come out, and I’m letting it out. I want to see the divine in everything, and quite honestly, especially myself. Because if I can see the divine in me, I can see it in the ones who I struggle with. I want to see the divine especially in the moments I’d rather not be in, I’d rather not be responsible for, I’d rather not witness. Because the divine is there just as much as anywhere else. So my commitment is to remember the divine, to lose my mind and perceive my heart, for the next 25 days. (today is Thursday, so I’m 5 days in).

I’ve been thinking about that eclipse. There was a photo I saw, where the moon is hanging brazenly in front of the sun. There is just a ring of the sun’s fire, and these amazing triangular rays expanding out from the edges of that union. And at first I thought, how brave of the moon. I was relating the moon to the feminine energy of the universe, and how difficult and scary it might feel to dance with the very essence of fire itself, to stand between it, and it’s greatest purpose (earth). And I was relating that to how I feel sometimes as a woman, as a wife, as a mother to sons. And then it occurred to me, that sweet brave moon had no choice. This eclipse, this one, on May 20, 2012, was decided for her. She knew it at least 27,000 years ago. She’s had time to prepare, sure, but it’s not like she could just skip out that day of hanging in the sky. It was fate. It was destined. It was will. It was dharma. And then I got even more insight about my life. It was like the moon, hanging there in front of the sun, lifted her hands and shrugged her shoulders and said “whaddya gonna do?” You’re going to go with it Heather, and you’re going to love every minute of it, because THIS is your life, and THIS is your destiny, so just let  me (the divine speaking here) take you where you’re going. Trust me.

Ok. I’ll try.

…how about you? Om. Amen. Hallelujah.

And just in case you wanted a good ol’ 90’s tune soundtrack to this blog post, click on this…

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xhfmg_bonnie-tyler-total-eclipse-of-the-h_news

And here’s the lyrics too, ’cause they’re sweet!

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART (Bonnie Tyler )

Turnaround, every now and then I get a 
little bit lonely and you’re never coming around
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit terrified and then I see the look in your eyes
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart

Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit restless and I dream of something wild
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit helpless and I’m lying like a child in your arms
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit angry and I know I’ve got to get out and cry
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit terrified but then I see the look in your eyes
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart

And I need you now tonight 
And I need you more than ever
And if you’ll only hold me tight
We’ll be holding on forever
And we’ll only be making it right
Cause we’ll never be wrong together
We can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don’t know what to do and I’m always in the dark
We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I’m only falling apart
There’s nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there’s only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

Turnaround bright eyes
Turnaround bright eyes
Turnaround, every now and then I know 
you’ll never be the boy you always you wanted to be
Turnaround, every now and then I know
you’ll always be the only boy who wanted me the way that I am
Turnaround, every now and then I know
there’s no one in the universe as magical and wonderous as you
Turnaround, every now and then I know
there’s nothing any better and there’s nothing I just wouldn’t do
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart

And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you’ll only hold me tight
We’ll be holding on forever
And we’ll only be making it right
Cause we’ll never be wrong together
We can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don’t know what to do and I’m always in the dark
We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight

Once upon a time I was falling in love 
But now I’m only falling apart
There’s nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there’s only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

This is the day

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This is the day, this is the day, that the lord has made, that the lord has made

We will rejoice, we will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it

This is the day that the Lord has made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Oh this is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made.

I was out walking my dog Emma this morning, and this song just started playing in my mind, and then I started singing it. Sunday mornings have always felt sacred to me. When I was young, and my family went to church, there was always the stress and rush of getting ready on Sunday mornings to get to church on time, or close to on time. And no matter how stressful that getting ready time was, once we got in that church, everything stressful slipped away, and there was inevitable joy.

I loved singing at church. My dad played the guitar with the little church band, and it just felt like there was nothing better to be doing on a Sunday morning than singing and clapping. I guess I didn’t know then, that I was already a bhakti-dasi, a lover of the divine, in the practice of devotion, my heart open sending my love of the one right up and out through my voice.

Hanuman is considered the supreme embodiment of love and devotion. In fact, his love for the divine is so pure and full and joyous, that the physical space of his heart is not large enough to hold the love, and it pains him. To create more space, he tears his heart open. He is known for having speech that is an integration of his heart, mind and soul, a tone of voice that is always soothing, and the ability to act and give selflessly in every moment. Rather than join his king, he chooses to stay on earth and serve the world.

Everyone has their own path to the one. Many of us have been through experiences in the faith of our ancestors that have left us confused, disjointed, alone. But no matter where we are on our journey towards the one, I think we all know the joy that comes from music, and the way it transports us to someplace else, a different resonance with humanity, with the earth, with ourselves and our beloveds.

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands (super fun video… watch it!)

I’ve got that joy joy joy joy down in my heart (click to listen!)

Joy to the world, all the boys and girls now, joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me

What are the songs that bring you an immediate sense of joy? …of child like wonder for the sun rising, the blue sky, a happy dog wagging it’s tail? It doesn’t matter how small your voice is, how perfect your melody, just open your mouth, and let it rise.

May we all overcome the obstacles that keep us from feeling the ever present embrace of the one. May we lift our hearts and our voices, in joy, to the gift we have been given, the gift of being human, the gift of getting to wake up every day to the wonder of this world!

Om. Amen. Hallelujah!

the yoga of harmony

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In Indian mythology, the relationship between Radha and Krishna represents the very foundation of love; love for the divine embodied, and then enacted with one’s beloved, partner, spouse. Where Krishna evokes the energy of the the mischievious, the lover, and the hero, Radha radiates a constant all encompassing love, which is Krishna’s inspiration. Together they are inseparable, unstoppable, complete. Harmony.

I had the opportunity in the month of February, to contemplate, embody, be challenged and birthed by the yoga of harmony, quite literally, in my preparations for singing with my beloved Brandon at a few of the many shows he played last month. I learned how to play guitar in college, because I wanted to learn how to play “Blackbird” by the Beatles for my dad for father’s day. When I was a kid, my dad would take his guitar out after he put us to sleep, and I would sneak out of bed, down the stairs, and hide behind the banister to listen to him play. The two songs that I remember most distinctly were Blackbird and Here Comes the Sun, which are quite literally the soundtrack to my childhood. I danced to Here Comes the Sun with my dad at my wedding.

When I met Brandon, he was already in a band. I already had heard him many times, since I worked at the Fine Line Music Cafe, and his band played there often. In the course of our years together, I have continued to love his music, his love of music, and him. Is it easy to be married to a guy who loves his guitar as much as he loves you? NO! It’s funny, for me, almost ironic really, that he writes such lovely songs about me, when the time it takes for him to write that song, and go out into the world to sing it actually takes him away from me. It’s bittersweet. But I’ve stood at the banister and listened, in adoration and awe for a good long time.

Along the way, I’ve stumbled and strummed and hummed through songs on “my” guitar, which tends to be the next oldest of Brandon’s as he upgrades. On occasions, we’ve strummed and sang a bit together. For the most part, it’s always felt a bit like staring into the sun. What could I possibly do to keep up with a voice like that? But I’ve longed to. When I listen to Brandon’s music, I don’t sing along, I sing harmony, because it’s where I belong. So a little over a year ago I told Brandon that next (this) year I wanted to sing with him on Valentines Day. I said that was all I wanted.

The thing about my husband is, if I ask for something, he’ll make it happen, no matter what it is. He’s that kind of guy. So lo and behold, here we were, the Dovetailers, on the schedule to play the State Theater in Wabasha the day before Valentines, and Valentines Day at the Rochester Civic Theater for the Americana Showcase. This all seemed really exciting about 6 months ago, and then 2012 came, and it was only weeks away. We started practicing. We practiced at night in the barn when the boys were asleep. It was not easy. I walked out of the barn more than once. We made up one night via text; him in the barn, me in the house, sulking. We had conversations we’ve never been able to have before in our marriage, the kind where it gets uncomfortable, it gets honest, and raw, and you know that if you keep going, something will have to change. We stayed, instead of walking away, or saying things to make the other shut down, or shut up. And then something beautiful happened; I gave in. I hung up my fear and trusted him and went deeper, and pushed through, and listened, and tried. And so did he.

The sound check the first night in Wabasha was freaky; on a stage with lights, microphones, monitors, cords, and other real musicians, who make money doing it. I felt small and hot and embarrassed and out of my league. I went backstage and paced. I felt like I was going to puke. I went into the bathroom and did some yoga breathing. I felt better. I put it into perspective. I knew that I didn’t need to be good. I decided that all I needed to do was have fun. And then it was showtime.

Finding your voice is one thing. Hearing it come back at you through an amplified monitor is on a different level. Then try to strum a guitar and hear that too, and the person you’re singing with, and make it sound pretty. The thing is, you can’t do it with effort, only with faith. You have to let go and trust, feel your roots and let whatever will rise, rise. Most birds don’t unfurl their wings and go gliding out of the nest, and the voice is no different, though the flight no less beautiful.

So we did it, together, him and I, me and him. And it was fun. On Valentines night, we played to a sold out crowd, and they cheered for me, and I had a mixed feeling of thrill and surprise, along with being so very humbled, and so grateful that Brandon let me in to the only thing in his world as sacred as us. It was more than I knew I wanted. It’s one thing to be the face in the song, but it’s really something different to be making the song. The music is changing us, and there is a respect and a balance in our life that is fresh and exciting. And I can’t wait to sing with him again!

We all have the moments where we make the choice to turn back. We walk down the roads, feet stepping right into the footprints of the last time we walked that road, and when he hit the spot where the trail leads off into the dark woods, or to the base of a steep sharp rock, we turn around, and follow our tracks back to the start. But someday for whatever reason, maybe we decide to keep going, into the woods, or we take off our shoes and let our bare feet hug against that rock and we put our fingers in the tiny cracks and pull ourselves up and up and up. This is where we find harmony; in the not giving up, in the not assuming the same thing will happen this time, in the bravery and the faith. In the softening, the easing; the truth.

May we all continue to grow beyond our (self-imposed) limitations and arise to flow in harmony in the ways we are meant to. May we never turn away from love, no matter how bright it is, but always towards it, into it, and beyond.

OM. AMEN. HALLELUJAH.