At the end of every year I grow introspective and read through my journal from the past year. I’ve had bad years and good years. I lost my mother in May, but I would still say I’ve had an excellent year. Perhaps it was my mom’s gift to me, this year. I have learned so much, perhaps the most important lesson being, there is no expiration date on dreams.
As a child, my mom taught me that it was okay to follow my heart and my artist’s path. I never got rich, but I have a treasure trove of “Diamonds.” The technical word is “Intellectual Property,” meaning I wrote a bunch of books, songs, albums, poems… you get the picture. But I like “Diamonds” better. They mean something, these unpublished tunes and stories. They mean “I did it.” Not “I tried and failed.” I have an audience that matters. Me. I can sleep at night knowing I forged ahead and made my dreams come true.
I was responsible—I have always worked as a performer, and have made a decent living. I raised four kids on a musician’s paycheck and they were always housed, clothed and fed. They grew into wonderful, productive adults. And most importantly, they grew up kind. That makes me very proud.
My mom’s disease, Alzheimer’s, taught me the importance of balance. Unconditional love and care-taking doesn’t mean losing one’s self, if means rearranging boundaries and schedules that work for everyone. It means being selfless one moment and selfish another, so that everyone stays cared for and healthy and loved. I wrote more poignantly this past year than I had in ages, because my mother’s struggles opened my heart wider than I thought possible. I loved my mom deeper than I thought I was capable. I learned her songs from an era long gone, I learned how to make her smile and I lived to do just that. It brought me deep joy. I had to snatch at moments to write in my journal, but the passages came from a new level of my soul. I had to write music sporadically, but they were my most honest work.
Ages ago, on my 29th birthday I remember crying, thinking “It’s over! I’ll never get a record deal now that I’m over the hill!”
If I could go back in time and talk to the old (young) me, I’d have a hard time keeping a straight face. But I would be nice and simply say, “Just wait. You will never believe the adventure that’s just around the corner. You will travel the world, your mind will open, and you will know a new level of love. You will truly become an artist. Your metamorphosis will enlighten your children and help them find self-dignity and the right kind of love—-a balanced love.”
The 29 year old me would certainly ask, “But will I make it? As an artist, I mean. Will I find success?”
And I would smile enigmatically and say… “Yes.”
That is the gift my mom left me with—that I truly believe I have achieved success. I am an artist. I embrace that artist and nurture her because she deserves nurturing. I have learned to draw boundaries and make time for creation. I have learned the importance of silence, and the importance of noise. The world needs both. I need both. The introvert in me has learned to make time for life. For it is in life’s interruptions, pain, and boisterous bombastic chaos, that stories and songs unfold.
And the people-pleaser in me has learned to protect the introvert and allow her a quiet corner to put dreams to paper.
I am an artist. And I shall be until I die. And that makes me feel like the luckiest woman on earth.