Story Time. I am not a very good singer. I can’t really hold a melody and I don’t know many notes or even what is sharp and what is in key. I know that the lyrics and melody of the song Amazing Grace moves me. For a few decades now this song has been one of my favorites.
Years back I once made a CD for my sweet Momma Jean with all the covers I could find from iTunes with versions from Ani DeFranco, Joan Baez, Elvis Presley, LadySmith Black Manzambo, Johnny Cash, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. The CD starts and ends with a recording of my Momma Jean and me singing it together. In grad school I had learned how to use Audacity, an open-source free program for recording podcasts and music and voices on a laptop. After a long drive to Colorado to pick up my sweet dog Gracie, short for Amazing Grace, we sang together for many hours. Upon our return we recorded an a cappella of us singing. I never imagined it would be played at her funeral celebration when we buried her ashes in June of 2021.
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.. And Grace, my fears relieved...How precious did that Grace appear... The hour I first believed..
Once when I was riding the subway home one evening from my favorite Tuesday night meeting on 60th and Park Ave, I was sitting with my friend Carmen. Two men started arguing loudly and the whole subway car went quiet and tense. They were fighting about personal space the anger was rising. I surprised myself and began to sing out loud in the subway car.. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.. That saved a wretch like me… I once was lost but now am found… Was blind, but now I see.. My voice was shaky and off-tune but they stopped arguing and the next stop one of them jumped off the train.. and everyone on the train cheered :)
This inner courage to sing on the train came directly from a story my momma had told me. In the late 90s (not sure of the exact year) there was a caravan of 10 four-wheel drive vehicles that were being donated to a parish in El Salvador and they were being driven all the way down to Central America from Ohio. My momma and her friend Susan shared a truck and split the driving in the caravan. On that drive all the crew kept in touch via CB radios. The CB radio was also an open channel for the camioneros, truck drivers. At one point during their long drive two truck drivers started being super nasty with each other spewing angry words, cussing and yelling. Susan spontaneously pressed the CB radio button to their channel and began singing Amazing Grace. They shut right up. This song has such power! If you ever are witnessing an ugly argument, please try singing the first verse and see what happens to the tension in the room or train or truck.
I had heard from my momma that once my Aunt Carol had said my life was a miracle. In my younger years of recklessness, addiction and pain she said I had gone over the precipice and then had come back. To me, this feels exactly like these lyrics.. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.. That saved a wretch like me… I once was lost but now am found… Was blind, but now I see.. It hits me so deep in the core. I truly was saved. Saved by the support of my family… and higher grace! So many are not so lucky. I was saved by being given a new life in Arizona at age 19. I spent 3 months at an extended care treatment facility in Prescott. It was the turning point of my life. After this family awakenings my momma dedicated herself to inner work and healing family trauma..
Through many dangers, toils and snares... I have already come; ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far... And Grace will lead me home!
My dog Gracie was a bridge to deeper healing with my mom and family. She was a safe sweet loving being and we bonded over our shared love for her. My parents cared for her for the last years of her life. Gracie brought so much joy! In 2013 she died in Tucson not even 20 feet from where my mom also died 8 years later. My mom said that Gracie curled up in her favorite spot in the yard and died and after she was gone a big rainbow appeared across the sky. Monsoon season in the desert is my favorite time of year. I have captured many these past years with the new PANO feature on my iPhone that allows for an easy capture of the entire width and arc of the rainbows. The rainbows sent from Gracie and now my Momma Jean.
One evening around late summer 2009, while visiting my parents in Ohio, we had a movie night. I said a little prayer to find a good film and chose As It Is In Heaven, a Swedish movie with subtitles. My mom, my adopted Dad and I sat in a line in our comfy chairs. This has become one of my favorite movies and over the years I have watched it many times. I have learned so much from 2 of the characters especially, Lena and Gabriella. There was one particular scene in the movie that prompted my dad to turn both of his hands out and upwards and my momma and I each took one of his hands, of course, it is the scene when Lena sings Amazing Grace. The actress singing it is not available in a video online.. but Gabriellas Song is viewable here. A story of individual transformations and the choir leader’s life’s goal, to “create music that will open a person’s heart.”
I am writing this story today because I just watched the documentary movie called The World is a Little Blurry about Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas and her mom and her dad. I learned about this PHENOMENAL film from the Rich Roll podcast where he interviewed Maggie Baird, Billie’s mom. I wept watching the love and strength and pain and beauty of their realness. HOLY SH*T… Everyone please watch it! Powerful. The only other momma tribute that even begins to compare is Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime book which I listened as an audiobook on my drive across the county in 2019. His humor and appreciation is beyond brilliant and poignant. The cheese boys.. and the vision and support from Trevor’s momma and Billie’s momma have helped make them into the luminaries they are …reaching millions with their Truth-Telling ways.
When I returned to Sedona, broken-hearted from my mom’s sudden death, I began attending a weekly Sister Divine gathering. One evening they had an event where they asked women to stand up and tell a story. I told the threads of this Amazing Grace song with my Momma Jean. I always wanted to write it down but this movie moved me today. Motivated me to share this story with you. Sing on, even if your voice wavers :)
When we’ve been there ten thousand years... Bright shining as the sun... We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise... Then when we’ve first begun.
Thanks for sharing in the ride of revealing what this bi-monthly newsletter wants to be.. part story, part essay, part art update, part personal process and part resources for personal discovery! It will be interesting to see where this goes over the course of a year!
Please reach out if you’d like to share an update or a story or a song. Send me an email as now is the time to communicate and support each other.
I love you. I am here for you.
*just as I am editing and writing this today, a rainbow showed up just outside my studio window! Blessing from beyond!!!
Here are some high-vibe resources (podcasts and ppl) I love to listen & interact with their content with daily/weekly/monthly
The Rich Roll podcast - esp this Episode Maggie Baird The World's Coolest Mom | (oldie but goodie) Overthinking & Emotional Chaos with Lee Harris | Nigel Richmond & I CHING Language of the Lines and The I Ching Oracle | PAM GREGORY ASTROLOGER | Hypersynchronicity rests on supernatural stillness.
<< Card pull for this week: Dragon reminds us to take action. Speak up for yourself. Confront a situation if needed. Let out your fiery word of truth. Overcome your fear. Stand up for what matters. Share what is on your mind. Punch is to stand up for yourself, take action, be in your power, communicate your values, fight for justice, revolution, anger, uprising. The character on the Resurrection card is standing in their truth, ready to open up to more life experience. The character is also smiling; all is well. Overcoming a near impossible obstacle, reinventing yourself, rebirth, intensity, complete surrender, grace, content in self. >>
SKYSISTER (coming soon) an online shop with NFTs and digital Giclée Art Prints made with DALL.E - along with curated content of women creators!
Please contact me if you are interested in prints, DALL.E coaching or collaborations!
FOR FIRST TIME READERS
3 things I am engaging and creating to TRANSFORM MY RAGE INTO BEAUTY and MY PAIN INTO A GIFT:
1 >> Re-visiting my 2008-2015 project Wearable Weapons that I created pre #metoo. I am evolving Wearable Weapons into a project that helps create tools of reclamation through an integration of sourcing the collective voice and wisdom - my fine art sculptures and wearables, other artists work, a compilation of survivor stories, visionary consultants, and leaders in the fields of sexual health, education and radical self-love.
2 >> Teaching my Indestructible Beauty course to a small group of feminine-identified humans. We explore creativity as a spiritual practice. This course is to help you find and listen to your inner creative whisper. We each have a quiet voice inside, an intuitive flow, to tap into to create with. Each week there will be a presentation of art works followed by an experiential activity. We engage in discussions and Q&As. There will be readings, creative tasks to complete between meetings, plus a final project (writing, spoken word, visual art, or movement.) Sign up on the website for more info & to be added to our Spring waitlist :)
3 >> A year of consistent newsletters ( 2x a month ) to my friends, family and colleagues. Each newsletter will have a theme starting with the letter S. Here are my S topics below. Previous newsletters links below (current location for now :) *if you have an S theme to suggest, pls email!
FUTURE TOPICS (in random order): SILENCE | SEXUALITY | SOBRIETY | SAMUEL SAGAN | SUN | SOLAR SPECIES | SELF SUPPORTING | SCULPTURE | SOLITUDE | SORTING | SIFTING | SACRED | SUGAR | SOLVENCY | STRENGTH | SPRINGS | SONG | SERVICE | SELF | SEVEN | SHADOW | SILLY | SOAR | SEEKING | SITTING | SAMSKARA | SPIRIT | SURRENDER | SOVEREIGNTY | STEINER, RUDOLF | SCOVEL SHINN, FLORENCE | STEINEM, GLORIA | SHAME | SEDONA | SHAMANISM | SCISSORS SKIRTS | SUGAR DADDY | SANGUINE | SOPHIA | SKY SISTER | STRUCTURE | SEDNA