Can a 66 year-old woman begin her own designated Hero’s Journey? Again? Is it too late? Rather, is there time left in her life to dive into yet another Path that would surely reveal itself during that Journey?
In many ways, 2020 has been the dead-end to end the multiple dead-ends I’ve hit over the past few years in my creative life. One could say it has been the ending of an unconscious Hero’s Journey.
My generation has always championed the idea of jumping over one’s shadow. Elements of a traditional “Hero’s Journey” are hardwired into my everyday life. In fact, they were supported and modeled by my folks even as my life took shape. So, facing more adventures, twisty, turny changes, and making do are all just part of the mix. Mostly, knowing that in the midst of it all, surviving & thriving are not mutually exclusive and is a precious insight.
Somewhere along my (he)artist’s way, product and validation overtook process and creation. As such, the muse all but disappeared, the gift all but withered.
The focus to finish and get my project(s) ‘out there’ became so strong it obscured seedlings of exploration, experimentation and self-expression. And in the end, with little to show for that absorbing focus.
The good part to all of this is that the stubborn ruts I’d traveled were more easily seen for what they were – not an obstacle to the Path, but proof that I’d wandered from the Path.
So I have corrected my focus. I am firmly ensconced in choosing repertoire based upon pure desire to play/perfect what I want to play – not based upon some audience type or proficiency parameter. And the composing! Instead of keeping it in check so as not to overshadow my practice time and/or exploration of tangential instruments, I am fully leaning into those juicy sessions.
Yes, I have project(s) that are screaming to be ‘out there’. Many are in fact 99.9% ready to go…but I gave myself permission to just not angst over all the odds and ends I’m clearly not knowledgeable enough to do right now to finish them*.
In other words, I gave myself permission to do what I was meant to do: create music – play around with sound – and commune with the Giver of the Gift in doing so.
Meanwhile, this year marked the entry into one of my favorite type of birthdays – one of duplicate double digits. It’s just one of my things.
The last such marker was 5-5 Revive.
Surprisingly, this year’s spontaneously spoke forth as Route 6-6.
What? Taking to the road again, in this time of lock downs, life threatening environmental obstacles and lack of connection?
Yep. Maybe not literally, but certainly in allowing the muse, my music, to lead the way…instead of my dragging it along with me. Be the conduit, serve the Gift and enjoy the process.
If I am the only one to hear or see or understand what comes forth, then so be it.
But I’m willing to bet this ‘Hero’s Journey’ change in attitude might alter that solo scenario come 2021.
*That’s the extreme down side of all this DIY stuff that goes along with being an Indie (he)artist – having to do all the business stuff, packaging, marketing, registering, licensing, publishing, etc; and finding/hiring qualified people to do the production side of things. It simply is not as easily available as one would think. Not whining, just sayin’…
Dance of Joy – Our Michelle is now officially Dr. Solorio –
Hubby and I are crazy proud as are all her sibs along with the rest of the Family and of course her Husband (our favorite Son-In-Law)
In the celebratory spirit of myriad Ivoirian individuals who took her into their hearts and homes…this video (used with permission) of a 1st Communion Celebration she attended (notice the 1st communicant in the center of the circle) represents our own inner – Dance of Joy.
LANGUAGE WARS? LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND THE IVORIAN POST-CONFLICT TRANSITION
Michelle Lilly Solorio
Michigan State University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
Education Policy – Doctor of Philosophy
Dedicated to the parents and teachers in Côte d’Ivoire who shared their lives with me.
Vous m’avez accueilli dans votre vie, donné de votre temps et partagé votre nourriture. Vous m’avez montré le vrai sens de “akwaaba.” Je vous chérirai toujours.
This dissertation is also dedicated to my husband, David.
Thank you for supporting me through this long endeavor. You are my partner in everything. I love you.
A few weeks ago, I finally changed strings on the Prisloe (my classical guitar). After a couple of months trying out another brand, some Augustine Regal/Blue High Tensions as recommended by Segovia himself, I’m back to my standard Blue Pack (Savarez Alliance High Tension 540 J’s).
In addition to his pioneering role in elevating the classical guitar to the concert stage around the turn of the 20th century, Segovia partnered with Augustine Strings in the 1940s to develop a revolutionary (at the time) non-gut string option for classical guitars. For many years since, Augustine Strings were one of very few quality options out there for classical guitarists.
All told, those Augustine’s just didn’t agree with me. My style, my fingers; maybe even my guitar. That’s part of being a working musician, trying different things to see how they enhance or detract from one’s playing. When I know I don’t need to depend upon reliability in sound/tone due to a lack of gigs, or recording dates, I often slap on different strings – brands, tensions, material composition – just to test drive the newest innovations, those recommended by colleagues and/or those with the best reviews by other players.
The Augustine strings offered up a strong rich sound in the basses with less buzzes but were harder to coax out tone colors. Plus, the trebles took several days of consistent playing to settle them into a decent tone – albeit with a plastic-y feel and muddled sound. Yes, they lasted longer and handled my hard-driven playing well, but they just didn’t offer up the variety of subtle tone colors I use in my playing or feel good under my fingers.
They also were harder on my hands. Segovia had huge hands with sausage-like fingers and probably really needed the thicker, plastic-y feeling of the strings to accommodate that physical factor. And as far as the relationship between instrument and strings goes, remember: Segovia played a huge Ramirez with 664 fret scale and larger, 54 mm nut width.
For those of you not in-the-know about the great Segovia, I found a quality, yet un-retouched video of him playing sometime in the 1960s when he was actually in his sixties. I chose this one because it’s representative of his tone/style – his signature technique of finding just the right sweet spot on the fretboard for each note, delivering a rich deep vibrancy – all while showcasing his effortless command of the instrument.
The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played, compositions are created, techniques are explored, expanded and maintained. For myself as a musician, each time I re-string one of my instruments, there is a sense of expectation. A moment in time where everything seems possible, opening up a wide world of sonic possibilities, hopes, dreams and deep expressions of my (he)art flowing through my fingers into the outer realm.
And when the right strings are strung, those aural rewards inspire and invigorate…
The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played.
Life is lived.
And when the right strings are strung, life is magical.
I have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly. John 10:10b NKJV
Friday, July 26th was the 29th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was also the day I first learned of a remarkable musician on the PBS Newshour – Gaelynn Lea, Violinist.
“Adaptive music is not as common (as adaptive sports) but I hope that it becomes more common.”
on playing the violin:
“I realize that you probably don’t know unless you have a disability that you spend every day modifying everything. I’m not concerned with doing it the way everyone does it, because I can’t really do anything the way other people do it. So, for me, finding a way to play violin was just a matter of time.”
The final set of lyrics to her newest release, “I Wait” written in defense of the Affordable Care Act, protecting those with preexisting conditions:
“We need a seat now at the table, so please invite us. Or Don’t pretend to care.”
Been back from CO since Saturday the 4th …
My folks’ house got listed Thursday the 2nd, then officially on the market on Friday the 3rd with a Saturday the 4th Open House which yielded lots of foot traffic and 2 possible offers leading to an all cash offer on its 8th day on the market!
On the phone with my cousin a few days before returning to SC, I mentioned I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed…and then when we finally rolled into town a little after midnight, we discovered mice had been at play while we were away – leaving calling cards in that very bed…AIEEEEE!
All this after admitting to my baby cousin that ‘Home is where your bed is!’(a major positive affirmation to where we are currently sojourning)…talk about a humbling re-entry into life back in the swamplands.
MamaCass & Naomi on our front porch
Previously, leaving our little rental house in SC for any length of time, MamaCass stood guard on the porch; grabbing the critters, both rodent and insect, for snacks before they could saunter inside. Now that our beloved porch cat has a permanent home on the other side of town with a proper cat lady, we came home to an empty porch ‘non-greeting’.
And, with our little rental’s insides newly discovered by resident rodents.
Since our return, we’ve been busy de-mousing the premises and trying hard to not skimp on those necessary procedures even if we’re tired, sleepy and needing to clean and dry clothes/bedding/rags with a non-functioning dryer no less. Read: wash at the house then take it all to the laundromat to dry (new dryer installed Wednesday the 8th).
Really things are okay, just that this place that never ever felt like home is even less so without MamaCass on so many levels.
And on so many levels her life reflects our own since moving here:
Up and out after our 3 years between homes; her life of producing litters of kitties after kitties – rescued and put on a more healthy life path.
Trusting that where we are is where the Lord wants us regardless of it not being the best fit for our true needs/desires/way of life; her trusting us to give her a place of refuge on our porch, even though she wanted to come inside – a time of healing and reconnection, regrouping for what is next.
Giving support and caring for each other as a ‘purpose’ during the interim – our commitment to moving on only when our newest responsibility had a real home (our landlord forbids pets, so we could never formally adopt MamaCass, even though we captured her and got her snipped after her second litter appeared on our porch). She is a true South Carolina MamaCat and would not have done well moving with us across country when the opportunities for us opened up.
The fact that she’s finally got a forever home and moved on in her life gives me hope we are close to moving on with our own lives, too.
God’s speed, MamaCass – wish us luck!
“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10 NIV
Many months ago I was rooting around on the internet looking into some music. I happened to come across a young jazz saxophonist named Grace Kelly and was watching her Livestream studio session. I started watching the video and really enjoyed her enthusiasm and music. I thought of our son Joe who is a jazz saxophonist also, but I decided not to send him a link to it as he was off touring New Zealand/Fiji/Australia at that time and wasn’t sure how good his internet was. I also thought of my late father-in-law who had died less than a year and a half before. He also was a jazz saxophonist who played with Benny Goodman and other greats in Chicago and who up to nearly the time that he died was always looking for new trends/music.
On the third song of the Livestream, Grace started explaining how she had come to write the song she was about to play. What she said, and more importantly what she played and sang touched a chord in me. I knew then that the song she wrote was a song that described how I felt about Laura and that that song was going to be our 40th anniversary theme song (not just our 40th but our lifelong song). Our anniversary was still many months away, so I tucked this song away so I could share it with Laura during our anniversary.
I started researching Grace Kelly a little more and it turned out that she was going to be playing in Las Cruces, New Mexico on May 27th. It just so happened that I lived in Las Cruces during high school, went off to serve in the Navy and after the Navy came back to Las Cruces to go to college. While in college on a co-op assignment for NOAA in Boulder, Colorado I met and married Laura and we moved back to Cruces to finish my college education before moving on.
We were planning a trip to Colorado to take care of business in early May and I wanted to go to New Mexico to both see Grace Kelly and to visit my parents’ graves. The timing seemed to be aligning to be able to spring on Laura this song at a Grace Kelly concert. Las Cruces is not a tremendously large town so I even hoped to run into Grace somewhere around town so that I could request that she play the song for Laura (not like trying to find Mr. T on Mulholland Drive or in Bel-Air or Hollywood – inside family story).
Unfortunately, our plans changed and we needed to go to Texas for business purposes before we went to Colorado which meant that we would end up in Las Cruces weeks before Grace Kelly was going to play. Knowing this I sat down with Laura before we left, told her that what she was going to see was the way I felt about her and that it was our anniversary song. I put the Livestream on our TV and jumped to 19:03 for the beginning of the story and the song. We sat there and watched the song (multiple times) trying to hold back the tears of our love for each other.
There are some songs that have a special meaning to me about Laura, like Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” and now Grace Kelly’s “Feels Like Home”.
Our anniversary this year falls on Father’s day and I can’t think of a better Father’s day gift than sharing this song which beautifully expresses the way I feel about Laura.
Laura shortly after found the song (sans Grace’s explanation) which is shown below. The full video is here, start at 19:03 for story before song.
Thank you Grace for this beautiful song and thank you Laura for a lifetime of “Feels Like Home”.
My blogger-buddy Anna visited Las Cruces, New Mexico for the first time a few weeks ago and posted a few photos and thoughts on the desert. What a treat to see the familiar through her newbie eyes.
Final Goat Family Portrait: Larry, Terry Scape, Mama Goat and Tater
I’ve been immersed in that period of time during our between homes journey lovingly referred to as living ‘on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, New Mexico’. Place where my Goat Suite Saga was born.
In less than two weeks portions of my Swimming with Swans project are going to be presented for the first time to the general public. MamaGoat, Tater, TerryScape and little Larry along with all of us humans and critters of the compound will be introduced to a group of locals as far away from life in the desert as one in the US can get. I often joke that we came from a Mile High here to the Swamplands…but we also came by way of the High Dry Desert.
Most readers of this blog know that I received a Puffin Foundation Grant for the recording of my Swimming with Swans: the music. One of the requirements for gaining the grant involved the pre-securing of a venue in which to present completed grant-proposal material.
Here’s the thing, The Goodwill Cultural Center found me.
Goodwill Parochial School becomes The Goodwill Cultural Center
If not for Camden Writer and author, Brenda Bevan Remmes, I would have never known of this special spot nestled within an isolated area between Mayesville and Sumter, South Carolina*. Steeped in a long history of struggle, nurture, and yes, healing – The Goodwill Cultural Center aka The Goodwill Parochial School was recently restored to serve as a local heritage and arts center – offering historical, cultural and educational events to the public.
Brenda introduced me to this gem in the swamp about two years ago when the GCC held one of their first sponsored events by the Magnolia Singers from Charleston – shortly after the Emanuel AME Church shootings. I was amazed at the group’s desire to reach out in their hurt and offer insights into their culture while spreading a healing balm through their talented singing.
WINDOW TO THE WORLD
REFLECTING ON OUR PAST AND ENVISIONING OUR FUTURE, WE AFFIRM THE RICH HERITAGE OF THE GOODWILL SCHOOL THAT OPENED DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY IN 1870, AND THAT IS A WINDOW TO THE WORLD TODAY THROUGH THE GOODWILL CULTURAL CENTER.
I don’t pretend to understand the South. However, I have found a slice of something I like to call the ‘true spirit of a southern community’ in the Goodwill Cultural Center.
Over the course of these two years in attending various events at the GCC, I’ve observed the interactions between the locals. It’s obvious to this outsider the love and commitment these individuals have towards each other and towards working through its own healing-path. A sort of living reconciliation rooted in historical interconnectedness which touches me deeply.
This is a slice of the South I admire; a slice of the South not often seen by outsiders.
As such, I am both humbled and honored to be a small part in the GCC’s continuing legacy as a featured guest on Saturday, June 3rd. *about a 45 minute drive SW of FloTown