August Concert for Hillside SPCA and Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center

 

Two weeks from today, special summer concert will take place with my musical friends Emily Barrett, Mark Denchy, and Tom Flamini.  The concert will support the Hillside SPCA and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.  I am very much looking forward to making music in order to benefit the wonderful animals at Hillside and to support a community place that is a new performance venue for me: the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.

The concert will be on Sunday, August 27th, 2017 at 2:30 pm at the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.  Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  All of the ticket money will be donated to the two organizations.  The Hillside SPCA will receive 50% of all ticket sales, and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center will receive 50% of all ticket sales.  You are invited to purchase advance tickets online at http://walkinartcenter.org/events/Event%20Registration/#!/Benefit-Concert-for-Hillside-S-P-C-A/p/86364814/category=15365366

I have visited the Hillside SPCA twice this month and just two days ago adopted two lovely cats.  It is feeling stressful right now as I work to encourage my cat Advent to accept the new family members, but I am hopeful that they will eventually enjoy (or at least tolerate) each other’s company.  Below are the two new Hillside SPCA kitties who have moved in with me.

Domestic Shorthair Cat for adoption in Pottsville, Pennsylvania - DinkyDomestic Mediumhair Cat for adoption in Pottsville, Pennsylvania - Chloe

Please help me to spread the word about this upcoming concert by passing the announcement on to any music-lovers and cat lovers and dog lovers.  Hug your pets today, and be in touch with me if you have any questions about this upcoming concert!  =^..^=

Click here to view our full-size PDF concert poster!

Flying a Bit Late

I am writing this blog post from the Fort Lauderdale Airport.  I am hoping to fly out to Newark in about an hour from now and then drive home from there.  I was planning on being home by now.  My original flight was scheduled to leave 7 hours ago from a different airport over 50 miles away.  That flight was cancelled.

No, you will not see me on national television, featured as a passenger who was unruly or who caused a riot.  No, I haven’t pulled out the ‘doctor card’ and demanded that I be given a private jet to fly me home because of my status as Dr. Susan M. Featro.  “Everything happens for a reason,” is something my mother has always said.  I am trusting that the universe / God / my Higher Power has orchestrated this change of plans in order for me to a have a different experience.  I believe that we are always co-creating and manifesting exactly what we need to experience…in order to remember who we are.

Sometimes, life doesn’t go as we  have ‘planned.’  One element in my yoga practice is flexibility; just as I strive to be flexible on my yoga mat, I can strive to be flexible off of my mat in the rest of my life.  The quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” has been attributed to John Lennon and to Allen Saunders.  I am choosing to not get wrapped up in stressing over the changed plans and what could have been.  Yes, I am disappointed that I will not get to join my parents and my cats for dinner to tell them about my trip.  Yes, I am expecting that I will be tired tomorrow when I wake up early to go to play the organ and sing at church after getting to bed after midnight.  (For me, 9pm is a late night, so this is a wild thrust into night owl territory.)  But I will not be dwelling in the past or in the future; instead, I will occupy the present moment and show up for my life and see what might be calling me in closer.  Is there something for me to notice here, internally or externally?  Is there a connection with a stranger that will happen and uplift us both?  I am open to it all.  One new experience I’ve had so far in navigating this cancelled flight: using Uber for the first time to get from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale.  I also just ate at the Food Network Kitchen.

In my belief system, none of us are entitled to anything that we ‘own’ on this planet…and as we all are one, there is no hierarchy with anyone being better or more important than anyone else.  I am no more special and no less special than another passenger, and I have no right and no reason to treat inconsiderately an airport employee or anyone else doing his or her job…just because of my privileged status as “doctor” or because of any self-determined extenuating circumstances which I might attempt to justify as trumping others’ stories.  We are all on a journey, and we will all get there.  Sometimes the detours are the most exciting parts of the trip.  I am grateful for the opportunity to show up and to be myself as I take each step…no matter where my journey takes me.  Bon voyage!

2017 Performance – American Cancer Society Telethon

I will perform along with Tom Flamini and Emily Barrett, under the group name “Hope in Song (HIS) Singers” this Saturday (April 8th) at 7:30 pm on the American Cancer Society Telethon. Please tune in and watch…and support the ACS and the important work that they do!

We will perform as a trio “Blessed Assurance” and “Music” (a less familiar song that talks about what has brought the three of us together, with a special middle section that I composed just for our voices.)

You can come in person to watch live at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The telethon will air live on channel 13 on Blue Ridge Cable and on channel 90 in the Tamaqua-Mahanoy City-Hazleton Service Electric Cable area and also on channels 2 and 50 in the Lehigh Valley on the Service Electric Cable system. Portions of the program will be broadcast on channel 69.4, WFMZ.

Blue Ridge Communications is also streaming the program live online. Links for streaming will be on both CancerTelethon.org and on WFMZ.org.

Sermon Snippet – Beatitudes

 

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of leading the service at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansford.  I offered a musical sermon in which I spoke about the lessons and the Gospel reading and played/sang musical pieces that related to the scriptures.  I wanted to share on my blog post, for those of you who were not in attendance at that service, just a small portion of the sermon that I gave.

The Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday after Epiphany was Matthew 5:1-12.  In this introduction to the Sermon on the Mount (Jesus’ longest sermon and the very famous one that includes the Golden Rule and the Lord’s Prayer), the Beatitudes were presented.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

These were, in some ways, challenging for Jesus’ audience to hear, as they were countercultural.  While the popular culture of the time raised up those who were rich and those who were respected in the community, Jesus instead turn to those who were outcasts and those who were struggling and named these people as blessed.  The Beatitudes come with a joyful promise, as each line reminds us of the joy that is ahead for those who live purely and compassionately, as Jesus lived.   This Gospel message guides us to not follow the values of the world and to blindly accept them as our own, but to look inward and to choose to live in a way that is true and that is an outpouring of love.

 

 

Merry Christmas 2016!

To all who visit my website and blog:  Merry Christmas!

Putting on the 5th Voice Lifted at Christmas concert two weeks ago was a highlight of my Christmas season.  As always, it was a delightful experience for me to be with so many family members, relatives, friends, community members, visitors, returning audience members, and those coming to one of my concerts for the first time.  I am uplifted by being together with you all and having the opportunity to share my music with you.

I came to this year’s concert in a more peace-filled and joyful place, and I’m hearing that this came across in the show.  In addition to my red dress and red music stand, I chose to sing some more familiar carols and joyful, upbeat pieces.  It felt good.  I felt the best after this year’s concert than any of them so far.  I had fun on stage: performing my solo pieces and collaborating musically with Tom Flamini, Emily Barrett, and Mark Denchy.

A great article was published in the Pottsville Republican on the day after my concert.  I am grateful for that coverage, and I’m happy that the news article will spread the word to others who may be interested in attending a future Voice Lifted at Christmas concert.  Next year’s event will be on Sunday, December 10, 2017.

I’ve been more quiet this year on my blog, not having written and posted as often as in previous years, but I plan to do more of that in 2017.  I enjoy this connection to all of you.  Please feel free to leave comments on my posts – that will encourage me to show up more and share more.

In offering to everyone a Christmas message this year, I invite you to connect with your inner child and to allow yourself to be present in the celebrations in which you take part and in the difficult moments, too.  The holiday season is really, for most of us, NOT picture-perfect…but there is amidst all of that, so much to really celebrate and to be joyful about.  Jesus and Mary clearly struggled at many points throughout their lives, and they did not hide it or put on a face that masked their pain…but what they did was know that the holy God within was far greater than the human challenges they faced.  God is not external and distant.  We can allow ourselves to touch and hold God and to be touched and held…by simply going within and breathing in the love that is both the holy infant and the divine power inside.  May we allow Christ to be born within us today, and may we experience joy in that birth.

All photos by Andy Leibenguth – www.tamaquaarea.com

Thank you, Andy!!

 

Voice Lifted at Christmas – Fifth Annual Benefit Concert

IMG_5116 IMG_5148

It is hard to believe that this will be the fifth consecutive year for the Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert,  This year’s event will be on Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 2:30 pm.  This event will, as in the past years, benefit the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation and the Tamaqua Community Arts Center.  100% of the ticket money will go to these two organizations, with each receiving 50%.  Tickets will be $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  You may call 570-818-4135 for advance tickets.  Returning to the stage as guest performers this year will be Emily Barrett and Tom Flamini.

If you have not attended a Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert in the past, I invite you to experience this event as a way to lift your spirit and to do something for yourself this holiday season that will help you to connect with the deeper meaning of Christmas.  My intention each year is to make this concert a retreat from the busyness of the season, a time to breathe & go within, and a time to reflect on who we are and how God is present in each of us and in our world.  The concert will include familiar Christmas songs as well as many unfamiliar pieces that explore our relationship with the Divine, our human experiences and emotions, and our connection to the past and to the future.  A favorite part of the concert in past years in addition to the music was the improvised sharing of personal stories and messages.  I look forward to opening my heart to the inspiration of the Spirit and seeing how God speaks through me in this annual event.

Please contact me with any questions about the concert or if you would like to purchase tickets in advance.

Merry Christmas 2015


Merry Christmas!

I offer my sincere wishes to each of you on this Christmas day for peace, joy, and love.  May you experience and know abundant blessings.

My heart feels expansive at this moment after some significant shifts within as I remember who I am as a child of God…an extension of God…a reflection of God, and as I allow God’s bright light / my bright light to be seen & then to stand in gratitude and awe of this same light in everyone around me as I soften to this beautiful world, breathing in the supreme, divine perfection of all.

This year’s Christmas benefit concert was an opportunity to join in community and to celebrate the sacred that was, that is, and that always will be.  I found meaningful connection in gathering with those in attendance and sharing our spirits and energy.

As I shared at the concert, there is indeed much pain in the world;  sorrow and sadness can be amplified during the holiday season when there seems to be an expectation of perfect families and jolly activities.  There is also much to celebrate.  There is peace and love underneath the heartache, and the peace and love can be arrived at when we release resistance and accept our present realities with authenticity and care.  I have come to see that it is all about remembering…remembering who we are and accepting our roles as co-authors of our world.  Along with God, we are constantly co-creating a world in which hope, peace, and love can thrive and endure.  I believe in more than Christmas.  I believe that every day is Christmas: a day of birth, of promise, of peace, and of understanding that what might seem imperfect to the naked human eye (a lowly manger / our seemingly broken lives) is to the holy heart perfection and the wellspring of bliss.
IMG_5116

IMG_5125
 
IMG_5148

Christmas Benefit Concert

 

 

This year, I will offer for the fourth consecutive year the Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert on Sunday, December 6, 2015 at 2:30 pm.  This event will again benefit the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation and the Tamaqua Community Arts Center.  100% of the ticket money will go to these two organizations, with each receiving 50%.  Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  You may call 570-818-4135 for advance tickets.

I am excited to announce that guest performers this year will include Mr. Steven Toth (Tamaqua Senior High School principal), Emily Barrett, Tom Flamini, and Barbara Greim.

If you have not attended a Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert in the past, I invite you to experience the event as a way to lift your spirit and to do something for yourself this holiday season that will help you to connect with the deeper meaning of Christmas.  My intention each year is to make this concert a retreat from the busyness of the season, a time to breathe & go within & reflect on who we are and how God is present in each of us and in our world.  The concert will include familiar Christmas songs as well as many unfamiliar pieces that explore our relationship with the Sacred, our human experiences and emotions, and our connection to the past and to the future.  A favorite part of the concert in past years in addition to the music was the improvised sharing of personal stories and messages.  I look forward to opening my heart to the inspiration of the Spirit and seeing how God speaks through music and word in this annual event.

Please be in touch if you have any questions about the event or would like to purchase tickets in advance.

Built on the Foundation of Love

IMG_4573IMG_4471IMG_4506

My new home is continuing to come along.  Progress is being made quickly, and I continue to marvel at how the process of building this new house parallels the process of building my life.  I have been building myself anew in many areas, and it is simultaneously exhilarating & terrifying, and there are so many lessons along the way.  With both my home building and my life building, I am striving to always build on the foundation of love.

I got an idea from my friend Kelly from Chicago.  She had told me about how her church had been installing new hardwood floors, and before the flooring was put down, members of the congregation were invited to come and write on the floorboards.  They could write a prayer, a quote, their name…

Last weekend, I invited some family members and friends to put their touch on my new home.  As I asked people to share messages on my floor, I thought about how I was really making this house my home.  The power of these words will always be there with me.  On any day years from now, when I am feeling defeated or afraid or confused, I can place my hands on the floor and be uplifted by the amazing messages that were offered to me.  It means so much to me that people from all different chapters of my life came together to grace my home and grace my life with incredible heartfelt words.  Prayers, song lyrics, pictures, personal messages, Bible verses, quotes, and some fun and light-hearted reminders will be my inspiration and guidance in every room of the house.  One of my creative friends Stan Stewart wrote an improvised poem on the occasion of my new home.  You can read his poem “Every Time” here: http://muz4now.com/2015/every-time-an-improv-poem/

I believe that our lives are shaped by every person whom we meet.  Each interaction that we have changes us in some way.  I believe that we carry with us in our bodies, our voices, and our unconscious stirrings…a piece of each person whose path has crossed ours.  For that reason, I find it fitting that so many people who mean so much to me have made their mark on my home.  As I walk on the floors of my new home, I remember that I am not alone in the world;  there are so many others traveling on the journey, and my life has been blessed by coming to meet and know them.

There were also several words and phrases and pictures that I added to the floor, as I recognize that I have a personal responsibility for erecting a strong and love-based foundation.  I can’t only lean on others to fill me up and support me.  Another special touch to the floors was a special signed letter and message that builder Curtis Bailey and his wife Dorothy placed under the floor in my meditation room.  Just like an artist signs the piece of artwork he or she has created, I feel that it is appropriate that Curt signs his name to this awesome construction that has been a product of his ideas, skills, and care.  I am honored to have blessings from Curt and his wife be forever a part of my future home.

I am humbled, blessed, amazed, uplifted, and even floored by the incredible foundation of love that has been co-created in the process of building my new home.  My heart is full of gratitude as I reflect on how my life has been touched and moved and graced by so many, and I am inspired to continue to build my life with such care.

IMG_4569milIMG_4513

A Year of Building

blog 3 blog 2 blog 1blog 5

At the start of this year, I named 2015 as a year of building.  While 2014 involved much letting go, getting rid of excess belongings, ending some relationships and shifting others, and releasing ideas and beliefs that no longer served me, this new year has then been an opportunity for me to continue more of the same and to allow newness into my life where space had been created.  I have felt stronger, more open, and very ready.

While the cold winter was still with us, I committed to an agreement with a contractor to have a house built.  I am enjoying the process now of making many decisions (siding, stone, roof, doors, door handles, flooring, lighting, kitchen cabinets, toilets!, and more), and I am enjoying the process of seeing my new home being built from the ground up.

I have come to know a consummate professional and a truly wonderful human being in Curtis Bailey, and his workers who are on site are hard-working and phenomenal builders in their skill and in their care and attention to detail.  Both my parents and friends have supported me and helped me in making choices and plans.  I am filled with gratitude for all who are making it possible for me to be able to move into this future home that I have envisioned.

It has been fascinating for me to witness my home being created from first a small hole in the ground to then a large hole, and then a foundation, then the framing, and now roofing, some doors and windows, staircases, and more…  It’s exciting!

And so it is with our lives.  As I’ve identified other areas in my life in which I’ve wanted to build, I’ve followed the same process.  A hole was dug;  the hole increased in size.  The foundation was carefully laid.  I framed the structure and then covered it and began to work on the details.  All along, I was constantly reviewing what was done and evaluating my next steps.  All along, I have been making conscious choices, consulting my heart, and allowing my intuition & creativity & love to lead the way.

I will continue building.  I will continue growing.  I will continue to move in my life with passion.  I know I carry my home in my heart, and this physical manifestation of a place to call my own serves as a concrete visual representation of what can evolve when hope meets intention and expresses itself fully, acknowledging fear but not letting fear lead to stagnation, asking for help and support – because life is a shared path of give & take, and journeying forward with trust that life is truly a beautiful way to explore and build and come into the deepest union with our higher selves.

blog 7 blog 6  blog 9