Practicing what I Preach

I have made a difficult decision.  I will not be offering my Voice Lifted at Christmas concert this year.  I struggled to come to the decision, and I feel a mix of emotions in announcing this to you.

At each of my concerts, I share with the audience a message of slowing down and appreciating the simple beauty that is always present…during the holiday season and at all times during the year.  At every yoga class that I teach, I encourage and support others in taking care of themselves in body, in mind, and in spirit.

I need to practice what I preach.

The decision to rest my voice and to take a year off from offering my Christmas benefit concert is a choice that I am making in order to allow myself to slow down and to take care of myself in body, in mind, and in spirit.

We live in a world that is moving at a fast pace.  Productivity and multi-tasking are no longer buzz words that are associated with overachievers but are now minimum performance requirements and expectations.  Many elementary school children are stressed with their overly packed schedules that take them from school to sports to extra-curricular activities.  Parents are hunched over cell phones trying to pay their mortgage on an online banking app while baking brownies for the band boosters fundraiser and listening to their younger child’s spelling words, while the tv news is playing in the background, broadcasting reports of natural disasters and incidents of violence at public places.

A writer and public speaker whom I have found to be inspirational, Brene Brown, has asserted that when we define our self-worth by what we accomplish, we are constantly in a “hustle for worthiness.”  It is very easy to buy in to societal messages that we must do more.   We can go through our days trying to prove ourselves or trying to please others by saying “yes” when we really are tired and want to say “no.”

I realize that I am most joyful when I am going through life in a slow and conscious manner, when I have time to notice the details and reflect on how I got to this place and where I intend to go next.  I am most inspired and most myself when I can do something spontaneous and be creative in the way that I go about what I do in a day or in a week.  Each day is a gift and a blessing, and I am committed to experiencing these days fully.  In order to do that, I need to rest so that I am fully awake and alive and present.

I plan on returning to the stage at the Tamaqua Community Art Center in December 2018, refreshed.  I thank you for understanding my decision to have a time that is quieter and more restful so that I can offer my best self to the world.  I will continue to share my voice on this blog, and I will continue to keep the songs alive in my heart.

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!

Summer Concert Announcement

 

I am happy to announce that I am planning to offer a special summer concert with my musical friends Emily Barrett, Mark Denchy, and Tom Flamini.  This is a concert that will support the Hillside SPCA and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.  Animals are so close to my heart; everyone who knows me well has heard me share about my beloved cats, and I am so excited to make music in order to benefit animals in need.  I’m also excited to try out a new performance venue; the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center is a great space to visit.  The center offers opportunities to interact with visual artists and performing artists and also to take classes and develop skills and express yourself creatively.

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, with the Hillside SPCA receiving 50% of all ticket sales and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center receiving 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 hope that those of you who have attended my annual Christmas Benefit Concert at the Tamaqua Community Art Center will make the short trip to Schuylkill Haven to hear me perform there with Emily, Mark, and Tom as I lift my voice to support the animals and the arts in our local community, and I hope that I meet some new friends who possibly have never heard my music before and who find their way to this concert on the other side of Schuylkill County.

Please help me to spread the word by sharing about this upcoming concert with 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

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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.

Tune in to the American Cancer Society Telethon

Live Nation Entertainment American Cancer Society Logo

Susan M. Featro and Tom Flamini will perform at 8:15pm tomorrow on the American Cancer Society Telethon.  The telethon will air on channel 13 on Blue Ridge Cable and on channel 90 in the Tamaqua – Mahanoy City Service Electric Cable area and on channels 2 and 50 in the Lehigh Valley on the Service Electric Cable system.  Please tune in and enjoy our musical offerings.  If you’d like to make a pledge to the American Cancer Society in honor of our performance, you may call 1-800-883-2109 on Saturday and mention that the donation is in recognition of the performance by Susan and Tom, or you may make a pledge online at http://www.cancertelethon.org.  The telethon will be happening live at Penn’s Peak, the concert venue just outside of Jim Thorpe.  Admission is free.

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.
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