Countdown to Christmas

Two years ago, I was cast as June Carter Cash in a production of Ring of Fire at Theatre at the Center in Munster Indiana. Our beloved music director, Malcolm Ruhl, told me, oh yeah, you have to learn to play the autoharp for the show. Um....auto...what?

Now, the autoharp gets a bad rep. It was used in classrooms for years, because it's an easy instrument to learn, and consequently, it's fallen out of favor. My fellow cast members, all brilliant musicians, mocked my little harp mercilessly and kept calling it an accordion, or a harpsichord. They never took it seriously. And really neither did I.

Until, I did a little digging and listening to the old Carter family records. I fell in love with this instrument and now I'm autoharp obsessed. In addition to my Oscar Schmidt chromatic, I recently acquired this beautiful diatonic d'Aigle harp. Diatonic means it only plays in 1 (or 2 in this case) keys, as opposed to my chromatic which plays in many different keys. Because some of the strings are doubled, you get a fuller, richer sound that the chromatic, which has one string per note.

I am by no means an expert yet. I'm learning as I go and for the next 12 days, I'll be doing a little explorational Christmas autoharp caroling. I'm mostly doing it as incentive to learn a few more songs, and to prep for the CD I'll be making with Malcolm this winter, but I hope you'll enjoy a little trip through the Christmas catalog.

You are not FLAWED.

Get this into your head right now:

YOU ARE NOT FLAWED.

There is no "perfect". There is no "ideal". There is no"If only I were ____, I would be _____".

Who you are right now, what you look like right now, what you weigh, what you feel, what you are....is enough. It's ok. You are ok.

Throw out those "should's". Screw 'em. Nothing will mess with your head more than, "But I SHOULD be ____."  There is no right or wrong way to live your life. There is no right or wrong way to look, feel, live. There's just you. And God, or the Universe or whatever you believe doesn't just randomly create stuff flawed. 

Figure out what makes you happy. If it's not where you are today, then ok, take action. DO what you need to do to change things, but don't think for one second, that you are anything short of perfection RIGHT NOW.

Love, Cory



Evening Sky - for our Bernie.

Evening Sky                      Cory Goodrich
 
I’m lovesick and weary, and it’s lonely out here on the road
Another show’s opened, and it’s taken a piece of my soul
I’m driving for miles and the pictures replay in my mind
Even the distance won’t let me leave you behind
 And I look for you in the evening sky
 When the stars come out and the angels cry
Time Stood Still when you said goodbye               
And I’m broken. I’m broken.
I sift through the wreckage. Desperatley seeking a sign
Some kind of message things will be clearer in time,
Treasure the moments and I learn how to say what I feel
But how to stay open when you’re covered in wounds that won’t heal
 And I look for you in the evening sky
 When the stars come out and the angels cry
 And I lost my chance to say goodbye
 And I’m broken. I’m broken.
I’m bound by Invisible chains
Though I secretly try to hold on
But once I let go of the pain
There is nothing left and you’ll be gone
 And I’ll look for you in the evening sky
When the stars come out and the angels cry
 When the blood moon sets will the phoenix rise
  And I’m broken. I’m broken

One year ago today, the world stopped spinning.

It was one of those angsty days of mine. I was on my way to tech rehearsal for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at Theatre at the Center and I was ridiculously upset over a dress that had been ruined during a photo shoot. I knew my despair was unwarranted, but I could not shake the feeling that the  Universe was turned upside down. I had heard earlier that morning of a collegue's tragic accident that would eventually lead to her death, and I was shaken. A dress seemed inconsequential in comparison, but I was still obsessing about it.

And so, when my own co-worker, Bernie, didn't show up for rehearsal, I knew something was wrong. Because the Universe HAD turned upside down.

Those of you who know the story, know all about Bernie. His joy, his love for performing, his love of his partner, Matt, love of his dogs and puns and riotous laughter. For those of you who don't know the story, we lost our dear friend that day in a car accident on his way to rehearsal.

There have been tears and eulogies from those far more eloquent than I. I'll leave the stories to they who knew him better and loved him well. I'll leave the memories of that day tucked away in the back of my mind and I won't share them here. But I will share with you my heart, which I do best through song. 

That ruined dress that caused me so much angst...it still hangs in my closet as a reminder that these things we love are just things. What lives on is love, in the memories of those who have left us, in thought action and deed. Love for life and friends and family. Just...love.

This one is for Bernie.

Why Can't We accept Compliments

Kudos to Nutrisystem and to mygirltalk.org for partnering and creating this fantastic video.

Seriously, think about it. Why can't we take compliments? We brush them off, we say, oh no, it took a lot of help, I didn't do it on my own. We minimize our worth, our participation, our contributions. Why? Because we are modest? Or because we truly don't believe in ourselves enough to say YES, Thank you. I rocked this!

The part of this video that kills me, is the scene at the pool with the mom not wanting to take off her caftan and show people her body. Her daughter walks away, grabbing her stomach, feeling shame about herself and her OWN body because that is the message she was taught from her mom. I may have sobbed out loud, because I recognized that. I've done it to myself and to my own daughters. That is not the legacy I want to pass on to my children and it's certainly not what I want for myself.

Do a little experiment today. Give a compliment to someone you love. See how they take it. Or better yet, if someone gives YOU a compliment, don't brush it off. Take it in. Be proud. Appreciate the time someone took to value you, and then appreciate yourself and your gifts and all you have to offer.

Believing in yourself is the first step. Go out there and ROCK IT!

Contact

There is a lot of static in the Universe.

Facebook, Twitter, emails, work, news and sports blaring from every flat screen in airports and bars and restaurants. Constant dings from your phone and watch and computer, telling you there is someone you have to be.

It's easy to get lost in the constant barrage of, "Oh, I have to do this, NOW." 

But to sit in stillness, staring at a vast sea of stars, contemplating how small we are in the Universe but knowing still, somehow, that we are not alone....That's what I long for.

Space. A chance to do nothing but be still.

And any of you who know me will probably laugh because I am Constant Motion Girl. I am the hamster on the wheel, running all night long. My brain rarely shuts off. The only time I sit, is to write, or to schedule or to answer the 5,000 pings reminding me "You Are Someone Important".

When of course, maybe in stillness, I'd hear that voice that says "You Are Someone Important" and know that it is true.

We crave contact, connection, someone to truly hear us. And strangely enough, all these technological advances, all the Facebook connections and tweets and Snapchats and swiping left, it leaves us....unconnected.Empty. More alone.  Sure, it's great to see pictures of your first boyfriend, and reconnect with people you left behind in high school. "See? I'm connecting! I never would talk to these people were it not for Facebook!"  But the truth is, you are still not talking to them. You're behind a glass wall, a screen, where the sound of your voice is missing from the interaction.

And yes, the irony of me sitting here with my coffee, writing a blog post that three people will see on a SCREEN, rather than hearing me say it to their faces, is not lost on me. Guilty.

So today, lets all take a breath, together. Lay in the grass. Stare at the stars. Feel stillness and peace. And if nothing else, you'll know that I am looking up at those same stars thinking of you. We are not alone. 

Carolina Girl

Thomas P. Goodrich circa I have no idea...when the world was in black and white.

Thomas P. Goodrich circa I have no idea...when the world was in black and white.

The second I heard Malcolm Ruhl's Carolina Girl, I knew we had to record it for this album. I fell in love with the sound of the mandolin and the violin playing off of each other, the story of regret  and the haunting back up harmonies. We never really talked during the process of recording, what exactly this song meant to him. I had my own thoughts about the perspective of the woman singing it, but I asked Malcolm to tell me why he wrote it. Here was Malcolm's reply:

I was in my twenties when I wrote Carolina Girl. As an ambitious musician working in New York City, I was determined to make a life and a living playing, singing and writing music. I was convinced that in order to get to where I wanted to be, I would have to stay focused, and that relationship commitments were a hazard to be avoided, at least until I had achieved a sustainable level of success in the music business. There was an intentional imbalance between my professional and personal life, and I sometimes wondered if the self-centered pursuit of my career would blind me to opportunities for personal connections that might not come around again. Wherever that road I was traveling on was to lead me, what if I arrived at my destination, only to look back and realize that I had left my soul mate somewhere by the side of the road? I believe I wrote this song as a cautionary tale to myself. And although the journey turned out to be far more complex and nuanced than I could ever have imagined back then, the message stayed with me. For the older version of me, hearing my daughter Maddi singing backup on Cory’s recording of Carolina Girl is an affirmation that I eventually found that all-important balance in my life. 

When I sing this song, I actually think of my father. My parents were divorced when I was seven, and I spent 9 months of the year in Michigan, while my Dad lived in Delaware. By the time the summers rolled around, all connection was really lost. We were strangers, spending a summer together, no longer knowing how to be comfortable with one another. Of course no child can fully understand what her parents are going through what they divorce, but I always thought, what would have happened if they'd "stayed through the hard times"? What type of person would I be? What type of relationship would I have had with my father? Did he ever regret the loss of connection between us? There's no way of knowing.

I especially love that Maddi Ruhl sings on this track. I think of her voice as my childhood self singing to her father. The fact that she is Malcolm's daughter makes it all the more significant.

Carolina Girl by Malcolm Ruhl

Ten hollow chimes mark the end of the day
Ten years go by, silently they slip away
And a Carolina Girl haunts a sad and lonely man's heart
A heart that can never forget his Carolina Girl
Stars fill the sky as the evening grows cold (He's growing old)
Stars in his eyes lead him everywhere but home
And a Carolina Girl haunts a sad and lonely man's heart
A heart that can never forget his Carolina Girl
Had you never let go, had you stayed through the hard times
She'd be beside you today
But if life is to live, what is life without freedom?
Now you're alive. You're free and alive and alone
And a Carolina Girl haunts a sad and lonely man's heart
A heart that was lost in a bet
To the fast and fickle world that kept you so far apart
from the dreams that have turned to regret.
You let them slip away
If only you had seen from the start that the one you would never forget
Was your Carolina Girl.