Happy New Year to all my friends,
I hope all of you have had moments of beauty in this holiday season. I’m tired of people saying this blank “I hope you’ve had a GREAT holiday” because for many of us, this one (or all) are a challenge. For those of you who did have a GREAT holiday, I’m really very thrilled for you and look forward to, maybe next year, joining you. I had a really good one.
Truthy Time: This was my first post-divorce Christmas and my Mom, knowing it would be a challenge, flew down from Maryland to spend the week with me and Huck. I had Huck until noon on Christmas. Because of the extreme weather here (-2 degrees!!!), we kept Huck home from PreK, made cookies, made a pretty ugly Gingerbread House that he loves, baked, cooked, cleaned out my Tupperware closet (thank you Mom), we played in the snow, watched “Polar Express”, went to see two amazing holiday concerts – Huck danced in the aisles at one – and got into the holiday spirit despite my fear of this one being a hard one. I have this fear of growing old alone. Who doesn’t who’s been through a break up? But it creeps in like a fog and I’ve been fighting depression for a few years now. Thank God for a good shrink and meds, even if we’re trying to find the right fit for my brain chemistry. La di da…
Christmas morning, Huck woke up and his eyes grew wide as he saw the stockings hung over the fireplace, the plate of cookies gone, and his big Santa gift, a real bike with training wheels. This, I think, is the first Christmas that he really gets it. I’ll never forget him walking slowly, sleepily into the living room with his blanky and turning to me wide eyed, “Mommy, looooooook” and pointing with glee. It was the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten. His joy.
So to the New Year. I’m done with 2022 and really hoping for a kickass 2023. Here’s the work on the plate: I’m hoping to release a new record at the end of this coming year, or early 2024. I’m starting to cull through the songs I’ve written since writing “Tucson” with Neilson Hubbard, and there a lot. Looking to record in the Spring. I’m also hoping to do a fully acoustic ep with Jon Vezner of many of the songs we’ve written over the past 20 years. Jon will be producing that. At the end of 2023, I’ll graduate from Spalding University with an MFA and my thesis book of poetry that I’ll be submitting to anyone that will read for publication (I hope). This semester is my critical thesis and I’m knee deep in Sharon Olds and Louis Gluck writing a paper on the use of ‘masking’ in their poetry. It’s a bitch. I haven’t written a critical essay/thesis in over 30 years. But it’s stretching my brain and I’m grateful. I’ve also made a promise to myself to bring my memoir, Menopausal Mommy, out of hiding and resubmit it to agents. I think it’s a really good book, to be honest, and very relevant. Many ‘Mommy Memoirs’ out there. None about having a baby at 50. I’m the expert! Plus, I just got hired by The University of Colorado as a Lecturer to teach (virtually) songwriting and I’m really thrilled for this. My end goal of all this grad school is to not only be a better writer, but to have the credentials to teach at Universities or Community Colleges. Not full time, but to be able to do my shows and teach. So things are going on course for all of that and I’m thrilled for the Lecturer position.
As hard as 2022 was for me, and many of you could hear it in my 2022 release, “Tucson” or by reading my Menopausal Mommy blog or being part of my Patreon family, there are many many things I’m grateful for and I’ll list them as they come to me.
It goes without saying that always, always, always, I most grateful for my son, Huck, who teaches me love and curiosity every day. My life is full with him in it.
1. That one of my besties, Megan Palmer, got through a second round of breast cancer and is healthy and thriving
2. Releasing “Tucson”, which was scary because it was about my challenges with trauma and mental health, and having it well received and landing on a few Top 10 of 2022 lists.
3. All of the opportunities to bring my music out into the world
4. Lara Supan, my agent, and John Porter, my manager who help to make #3 happen and have had the patience of Job while I get through the past few years. They’ve been loyal and they’ve been my friends. Best team ever.
5. Turning 54 with a body of work I can be proud of: 9 albums, 4 cuts, 1 memoir, a published essay in the New York Times and other amazing places, 4 published poems. If I look at all that, it’s hard to feel like I’m getting nowhere. Because we all feel that way when we’re low.
6. Playing a show with one of my earliest inspirations, Paula Cole, who gave me her cell phone number and wants (!!!) to keep in touch. “I don’t wanna wait…”
7. My new Chocolate Lab, Dusty, now 10 months old and following at my heels everywhere I go.
8. St. Augustine’s hippie Episcopal Church and the amazing people I’ve met there.
9. I finally own a house all on my own (I was ½ owner of the home Jamey and I had, but this is my first house alone). In the best neighborhood in East Nashville, on a quiet, wide, tree-lined street with wonderful neighbors, a great backyard and the park so close Huck and I can go there every day.
10. My students in my Songwriting Salon. They keep me on my toes and I’m grateful for their songs and ideas. They inspire me every week.
11. Learning how to play and be curious again through Huck’s eyes.
12. Kayaking. And long walks.
13. Maggie Smith, my poetry mentor.
14. My circle of chosen family – the wonderful friends, some old, many new, who have helped me accept the unacceptable and thrive. Thank god for divorced mothers who shine the flashlight for me.
15. A new (very old) electric guitar that’s inspiring me
16. New (old) piano. New piano songs.
17. Wind chimes in my yard.
18. That Huck sleeps with me each night.
19. God/Higher Power
20. 9 years sobriety. 10 years without a drink.
21. The 12 step programs that continue to save me.
22. Other people’s art that moves me. Friends who pick up the phone when I just want to ask how they are. My mother, thriving at 79. My siblings, so supportive. My best friends from high school – Laura and Katie, who call me to check in. My best friend from college – Sarah, who calls to check in.
23. All the love I’ve experienced this year.
So the wrap-up? I’ve learned love this year. Real, true, lasting love. That it comes not from someone else, but from inside and from the Spirit of the Universe (I call it God, cause it’s just easy). Prayer and meditation. Continuously trying to write from an honest place. Being really supportive of other friends making things in the world. And honestly, it’s damned gratitude lists that keep my feet on the ground.
Lastly, if you’ve gotten to the end of this, I’m grateful for you. For supporting me, for listening and reading, for sharing your truths, and for walking this incredibly short but incredible up and down road of all of ours.
Happy New Year to all of us. May we stay honest. May we find peace.
Here’s a New Year’s poem I wrote last year
As the ball drops on New Year’s Eve in two time zones
O those nights of northern frost, holidays on Chesapeake,
with sugar plums and sure belief, blind to what would soon
be lost. Now here I lie at eventide where dogs dig
in this sand for bones, and tidal spray sticks
in my throat. If I could, I’d stay awhile to let the clock sneak
out the year so stars could smear mistakes
like mine, blurring past and present lines. Again,
a break I could not see. Instead of here where I hide
in black tie mistletoe charades, monotonous
as every day that I lie and say I’m fine.
From Maryland to Tennessee I have held too
long to hope, naïve as the ocean snow. I am
not where I want to be. I wish for things I cannot ask.
My love my love my love come back.