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.

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 in the New Year

As we transition from 2014 to 2015, I look back on my Voice Lifted journey in this past year and look ahead to where I hope to take my music making in the upcoming year.

My Christmas Benefit Concert on Sunday, December 7th was a success.  It was a great experience to perform in the newly remodeled Tamaqua Community Arts Center.  I was delighted to connect with the wonderful audience who came out that day, and I am thrilled that the event provided support to the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation as well as the Community Arts Center.  I look forward to seeing these two organizations continue to serve our community in the coming year.

2014 brought the release of my second album Voice Lifted at Christmas.  This album is now available for sale online (download or CD) at this link.  My first CD Voice Lifted is also available here.  Downloads of the music from my Christmas CD are also available at Amazon.  Additionally, Voice Lifted at Christmas is available in streaming format on Spotify.  

In 2014, I greatly enjoyed many performances at private events, community events, and at churches.  I am excited to continue these in 2015.  For those who like to plan ahead, I am announcing the date for my 2015 Christmas Benefit Concert at the Tamaqua Community Arts Center – Sunday, December 6th, 2015.  I will be announcing other public performances throughout the year, but I wanted to get that date out right away, as I have loved hearing that some people are now making my benefit concert an annual Christmas tradition.

I also plan on additional performances in the new year with my music partner Tom Flamini.  Right now, we are preparing for a February 8, 2015 performance at Providence Place in Pottsville.

In the upcoming year, I also plan to continue blogging.  I plan to do that with more regularity, as I know that writing is a wonderful source of creative expression for me, and I enjoy sharing my journey with others on the path.  Additionally, many ideas are floating around my mind for live performances and recording possibilities.

For me personally, 2014 was a year that brought many challenges and much growth, and I see 2015 as a building year.  I believe that there will be much opportunity to take all of the lessons of 2014, allow myself to start at the place at which I am, and create much from the bottom up in this new year with faith and trust as the foundations.  Many of those around me have expressed similar feelings about 2014 being a year that involved much tearing down, shaking up of things, a lot of confusion, “a year that brought us to our knees,” and a year that was like a roller coaster ride.  I am envisioning and holding 2015 as a building year for myself and for those around me, for anyone who chooses to embrace this intention.

New Year’s Blessings to all of you and to those with whom your share your hearts and your lives.

sun