Thursday, December 18, 2008

It Is Finished

After four and a half months, I have finished my CD! What an experience! I learned so much and I'm actually very happy with how it turned out. Of course there are still things that I would love to fix and change and do over--I can really tell a difference between the first songs I recorded and the last songs. The learning curve was huge! But overall, I am very happy.

I put so much of myself into this project and really wanted to share my story, but I didn't have the budget to print a 12 page booklet to accompany my CD! So, in the post below, I am including my "bonus booklet." It includes the lyrics to all the songs, my thought process in choosing that song and a little background info.

Merry Christmas!


Several months ago my voice teacher, Debbie, suggested I think about recording a CD as a way to focus my energy and make lessons more productive. My initial reaction was that’s a good thought, but not something I could ever accomplish. But I did start thinking about what I would put on a CD if it were up to me. Over the next several weeks, my list of songs grew and I noticed a pattern. A lot of the songs represented, to me, major steps in a woman’s life—things I’ve learned, events I look forward to. From that realization came an actual song list. I knew I wanted to end with “For Good” from Wicked and my sister volunteered herself to sing the duet. I still hadn’t realized that I was seriously contemplating recording a CD. That realization came when Lauren was getting ready to go to California to pursue a graduate degree. All the sudden my duet partner was leaving. I quickly decided that I did want to attempt this and that I’d better get on the ball! This project had suddenly snowballed into a reality.

You would think that after putting together a song list, a title would be an easy next step—and we did have a lot of fun coming up with crazy titles taken from lines in the songs chosen (Julie: Dropped by a Sky-Bird; Julie: This Has Been a Test; Julie: The Danger and the Doom). But finding a title that was just right was a very hard task. Several of the song titles would have worked really well, but I didn’t want to use the name of one of the songs as the title of my CD. In particular, “Days of Plenty” from Little Women seemed to capture everything I was trying to say with this CD. While I was discussing my dilemma with my best friend, Melynn, she commented that Little Women is really Marmee’s story. Everyone thinks of Jo as the main character—and she is—but it is really Marmee’s story; any mother’s life story is her children. The last chapter of Little Women is titled “Harvest Time,” and at the very end, Louisa May Alcott has the family looking over their particular stories and how they have grown. Marmee, referring to Jo’s school for boys and own family, says:

“Yes, Jo, I think your harvest will be a good one,” began Mrs. March…

“Not half so good as yours, mother. Here it is, and we never can thank you enough for the patient sowing and reaping you have done,” cried Jo, with the loving impetuosity which she never could outgrow.

“I hope there will be more wheat and fewer tares every year,” said Amy, softly.

“A large sheaf, but I know there’s room in your heart for it, Marmee dear,” added Meg’s tender voice.

Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility,—

“Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!”

How perfectly these sentiments capture what I feel. This CD speaks of my own trials and triumphs, my own hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams I have for my own children. I hope that I will be blessed enough to look back on my life and take joy in my Harvest.

The Call: from Prince Caspian

It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope,

Which then turned into a quiet thought,

Which then turned into a quiet word.

And then that word grew louder and louder, ‘til it was a battle cry:

I’ll come back when you call me, no need to say goodbye.

Just because everything’s changing

Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before.

All you can do is try to know who your friends are,

As you head off to the war.

Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light—

You’ll come back when it’s over, no need to say goodbye.

Now we’re back to the beginning,

It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet.

But just because they can’t feel it too

Doesn’t mean that you have to forget.

Let your memories grow stronger and stronger,

‘Til they’re before your eyes—

You’ll come back when they call you, no need to say goodbye.

I’ll come back when they call me. No need to say goodbye.

This was the last song that I decided on for this CD. I was very happy with how the song list was shaping up to tell the story of a woman’s life and I felt that I needed a good introduction. I couldn’t seem to find a song that fit that description from my Broadway repertoire. My siblings and I had recently seen Prince Caspian and as we were playing through this song, it struck me how perfectly the lyrics captured C.S. Lewis’s message. The whole Narnia series is a parable for our mortal journey—which is kind of what I was trying to portray with this CD as well. This song, while sung at the end of the movie, speaks of the longing to go to Narnia—to try ourselves. But it also speaks of the conflicting feelings of anxiety at the task at hand and the regret of leaving loved ones. And yet, we are urged to go forward—we’ll be reunited in the end.

Home: from Beauty and the Beast

Yes, I made the choice. For Papa, I will stay.

But I don’t deserve to lose my freedom in this way, you monster!

If you think that what you’ve done is right, well then you’re a fool!

Think again!

Is this home? Is this where I should learn to be happy?

Never dreamed that a home could be dark and cold.

I was told every day in my childhood:

Even when we grow old, home will be where the heart is.

Never were words so true!

My heart’s far, far away. Home is too.

Is this home? Is this what I must learn to believe in?

Try to find something good in this tragic place,

Just in case I should stay here forever held in this empty space.

Oh, but that won’t be easy. I know the reason why:

My heart’s far, far away. Home’s a lie.

What I’d give to return to the life that I knew lately.

But I know that I can’t solve my problems going back.

Is this home? Am I here for a day or forever?

Shut away from the world until who knows when?

Oh, but then, as my life has been altered once, it can change again.

Build higher walls around me, change every lock and key.

Nothing lasts, nothing holds all of me.

My heart’s far, far away, home and free.

Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My best friend had also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia shortly before me and she often referred to it as a beast that was raging inside of her, trying to devour her. I’ve always loved fairy tales and her imagery opened up a new meaning in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. I have had to learn how to tame the beast of fibromyalgia—or any trial—how to still find beauty in my life and be grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from my own “beast.” I felt that “Home” really captured that feeling of dismay at the challenges and trials in life and yet, more importantly, the need to press on, to find hope and joy.

Astonishing: from Little Women

Who is he? Who is he with his “Marry me,”

With his ring and his “Marry me”?

The nerve, the gall.

This is not, not what was meant to be.

How could he ruin it all with those two words?

I thought I knew him, thought that he knew me.

When did it change, what did I miss?

A kiss? When I thought all along

That we were meant to forge frontiers.

How could I be so wrong?

And I need, how I need my sisters here.

If I can’t share my dreams, what where they for?

I thought our promise meant

That we would never change and never part.

I thought together we’d amaze the world!

How can I live my dreams or even start

When everything has come apart?

I thought home was all I’d ever want, my attic all I’d ever need.

Now nothing feels the way it was before

And I don’t know how to proceed.

I only know I’m meant for something more.

I’ve got to know if I can be astonishing.

There’s a life that I am meant to lead,

Alive like nothing I have known.

I can feel it and it’s far from here.

I’ve got to find it on my own.

Even now I feel its heat upon my skin:

A life of passion that pulls me from within.

A life that I am aching to begin.

There must be somewhere I can be astonishing. Astonishing!

I’ll find my way. I’ll find it far away.

I’ll find it in the unexpected and unknown.

I’ll find my life in my own way today.

Here I go and there’s no turning back.

My great adventure has begun.

I may be small but I’ve got giant plans

To shine as brightly as the sun.

I will blaze until I find my time and place.

I will be fearless, surrendering modesty and grace.

I will not disappear without a trace.

I’ll shout and start a riot, be anything but quiet.

Christopher Columbus! I’ll be astonishing.

Astonishing at last.

This was a very empowering song for me. I think we all feel a desire for greatness. Whether it’s fame and fortune, recognition, or succeeding in schooling and at work, we feel a push to live up to our full potential. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I let my failures and fear hold me back from trying. I have to make the choice to let go of the past and let go of my fears and just go for it.

A Change in Me: from Beauty and the Beast

There’s been a change in me, a kind of moving on,

Though what I used to be I still depend upon.

For now I realize that good can come from bad.

That may not make me wise but oh, it makes me glad.

And I, I never thought I’d leave behind my childhood dreams,

But I don’t mind, for now I love the world I see.

No change of heart, a change in me.

For in my dark despair I slowly understood.

My perfect world out there had disappeared for good,

But in its place I feel a truer life begin.

And it’s so good and real, it must come from within.

And I, I never thought I’d leave behind my childhood dreams,

But I don’t mind, I’m where and who I want to be.

No change of heart, a change in me.

No change of heart, a change in me.

I mentioned that twelve years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. For nine years my health slowly but steadily worsened to the point that I was in survival mode. There were no plans for the future, actually, there was no living. It was strictly get through the day. Three years ago, I was given a gift. I was given the opportunity to get my life back. The road of recovery has not been a quick or easy journey. And I’m actually grateful for that. I have learned so much about myself, about my purpose on this earth and about my Father in Heaven that I couldn’t have learned any other way. One of the lessons has been how to reconcile the old me with the new. There was a time I would have gladly given away the experiences of those dark years. But, as the song says, “…what I used to be I still depend upon…in its place I feel a truer life begin. And it’s so good and real, it must come from within.” My favorite line is “I’m where and who I want to be.” I think that is our ultimate goal. If we can say that—we’re doing good.

There’s a Fine, Fine Line: from Avenue Q

There’s a fine, fine line between a lover and a friend.

There’s a fine, fine line between reality and pretend.

And you never know till you reach the top

If it was worth the uphill climb.

There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time.

There’s a fine, fine line between a fairy tale and a lie.

And there’s a fine, fine line between “you’re wonderful”

And “goodbye.”

I guess if someone doesn’t love you back, it isn’t such a crime,

But there’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of your time.

And I don’t have the time to waste on you anymore.

I don’t think that you even know what you’re looking for.

For my own sanity, I’ve got to close the door and walk away…

There’s a fine, fine line between together and not.

And there’s a fine, fine line between what you wanted

And what you got.

You gotta go after the things you want while you’re still in your prime.

There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time.

Since I’m still in the single phase of my life, these next few songs are mostly speculation. I really like this song because it talks of the rejection and heartbreak that we all experience, but in a very optimistic way. Yes, there will be relationships that are more one-sided or that just aren’t right. But you have to keep trying and you have to believe in yourself enough to keep looking for what you want. I have faith that I will find that one special relationship that is neither a fairy tale nor a lie, but a wonderful reality.

Only Love: from The Scarlet Pimpernel

I see you try to turn away.

I hear the words you want to say.

I feel how much you need to hide

What’s happening inside you tonight.

Come meet my eyes one moment more.

Our eyes are different than before.

This night, so beautiful and strange,

This night begins to change who we are.

Don’t turn away, it’s only love,

Quietly coming to you,

Whispering through you.

Take my hand, it’s only love.

Let it come through you slowly.

Don’t be afraid, it’s only love.

We touch, the dark begins to stir.

We can’t go back to where we were.

Don’t be afraid to make it real.

Don’t be afraid to feel tonight.

Don’t turn away, it’s only love,

Only a touch that frees you, let it release you.

Take the chance, it’s only love.

Open your heart and show me.

Don’t be afraid, it’s only love.

Don’t close your eyes, don’t hold it in.

Reach out to me, let it all begin.

Don’t be afraid, it’s only love,

Only a touch that frees you, let it release you.

Take the chance, it’s only love.

Let it come through you slowly.

Don’t be afraid, it’s only love.

I can’t wait to find my husband and become a wife. To be known and loved and in turn know and love another that deeply is a great gift and blessing that I look forward to eagerly. But I think it can also be hard to open yourself up to someone else, to risk heartbreak and rejection. This song, for me, is not only a plea to be loved, but also a determination to love, a decision to trust—to act in faith instead of fear.

I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning: from Annie Get Your Gun

Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t,

What do I find?

The things I’ve got will keep me satisfied.

Checking up on what I have and what I haven’t,

What do I find?

A healthy balance on the credit side.

Got no diamond, got no pearl,

Still I think I’m a lucky girl.

I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.

Got no mansion, got no yacht,

Still I’m happy with what I’ve got.

I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.

Sunshine gives me a lovely day.

Moonlight gives me the milky way.

Got no checkbooks, got no banks, still I’d like to express my thanks.

I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.

And with the sun in the morning and the moon in the evening,

I’m all right.

I chose this song to represent that blissful “newlywed” time of life. Most couples just beginning their married life are rather poor—so this song fit that time perfectly. But more importantly, the lyrics speak of the joy to be found in life itself. In this uncertain economy especially, this song is a nice reminder that things are not what is most important. My favorite line is “I’d like to express my thanks.” There is great power in gratitude—it focuses our attention on the positive and lifts the spirit. For me, this song is an act of gratitude for life’s many blessings.

Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel): by Billy Joel

Goodnight, my angel, time to close your eyes,

And save these questions for another day.

I think I know what you’ve been asking me.

I think you know what I’ve been trying to say.

I promised I would never leave you,

And you should always know wherever you may go,

No matter where you are, I never will be far away.

Goodnight, my angel, now it’s time to sleep,

And still so many things I want to say.

Remember all the songs you sang for me

When we went sailing on an emerald bay.

And like a boat out on the ocean,

I’m rocking you to sleep.

The water’s dark and deep inside this ancient heart—

You’ll always be a part of me.

Goodnight, my angel, now it’s time to dream,

And dream how wonderful your life will be.

Someday your child may cry, and if you sing this lullabye,

Then in your heart there will always be a part of me.

Someday we’ll all be gone but lullabyes go on and on.

They never die, that’s how you and I will be.

I can’t wait to become a mother. I believe motherhood is one of the most sacred callings we can ever have. This song captures the overwhelming love a mother feels for her child, the need for that child to know they are loved, the dreams a mother has for her child, and the eternal connection that mother and child share.

Hold On: from The Secret Garden

What you’ve got to do is finish what you have begun.

I don’t know just how, but it’s not over ‘til you’ve won.

When you see the storm is coming, see the lightening part the skies,

It’s too late to run, there’s terror in your eyes.

What you do then is remember this old thing you heard me say:

It’s the storm, not you, that’s bound to blow away.

Hold on, hold on to someone standing by.

Hold on, don’t even ask how long or why,

Child, hold on to what you know is true,

Hold on ‘til you get through.

Child, oh child, hold on.

When you feel your heart is pounding, fear a devil’s at your door,

There’s no place to hide, you’re frozen to the floor,

What you do then is you force yourself to wake up, and you say:

It’s this dream, not me, that’s bound to go away.

Hold on, hold on, the night will soon be by.

Hold on, and think of something else to try.

Child, hold on, there’s angels on their way.

Hold on and hear them say:

Child, oh child…

And it doesn’t even matter if the danger and the doom

Come from up above, or down below,

Or just come flying at you from across the room.

When you see a man who’s raging,

And he’s jealous, and he fears

That you’ve walked through walls he’s hid behind for years,

What you do then is you tell yourself to wait it out. You say:

It’s this day not me, that’s bound to go away.

Child, hold on. It’s this day not you, that’s bound to go away.

Many years ago a friend of mine was going through a particularly difficult trial. She gave me some very sage advice. Whenever things get hard, she counseled me to think of the most repeated phrase in the scriptures: “It came to pass.” The scriptures never say, “It came to stay…” I believe that we need to look for the joy in life—learn how to be happy even in difficult circumstances. But sometimes all you can do is just hold on and remember that it always “came to pass.” One of my favorite lines is “hold on to what you know is true.” The adversary is waging a battle to deceive us. But if we hold fast to what we know is true, we will weather the storm.

Days of Plenty: from Little Women

I never dreamed of this sorrow.

I never thought I’d have reason to lament.

I hoped I’d never know heartbreak.

How I wish I could change the way things went.

I wanted nothing but goodness.
I wanted reason to prevail—

Not this bare emptiness.

I wanted days of plenty.

But I refuse to feel tragic.

I am aching for more than pain and grief.

There has got to be meaning.

Most of all when a life has been so brief.

I have got to learn something.

How can I give her any less?

I want life to go on.

I want days of plenty.

You have to believe there is reason for hope.

You have to believe that the answers will come.

You can’t let this defeat you. I won’t let this defeat you.

You must fight to keep her there within you.

So believe that she mattered.

And believe that she always will.

She will always be with you.

She’ll be part of the days you’ve yet to fill.

She will live in your bounty.

She will live as you carry on your life.

So carry on, full of hope.

She’ll be there for all your days of plenty.

This song is from Little Women and is sung by Marmee to Jo after Beth dies. This is a very pivotal moment for Jo: she can choose to let her grief swallow her and overshadow her life or she can choose to learn, to grow, to love—to live. We all have moments in our lives where we have to make the same choice. Yes, there is grief and sorrow in life, yes life is hard. But life is also good. Opportunities for joy and happiness are all around—but we must actively choose the joy. I love the line, “but I refuse to feel tragic.” We can’t always control what happens in life, but we always have the choice of how to respond. That choice is a great blessing and carries great power.

Better Than I: from Joseph: King of Dreams

I thought I did what’s right.

I thought I had the answers.

I thought I chose the surest road—

But that road brought me here.

So I put up a fight and told you how to help me.

Now just when I have given up, the truth is coming clear.

You know better than I

You know the way.

I’ve let go the need to know why

For you know better than I.

If this has been a test,

I cannot see the reason.

But maybe knowing I don’t know

Is part of getting through.

I try to do what’s best.

And faith has made it easy

To see the best thing I can do

Is put my trust in you.

For you know better than I.

You know the way.

I’ve let go the need to know why

For you know better than I.

I saw one cloud and thought it was the sky.

I saw a bird and thought that I could follow.

But it was you who taught that bird to fly.

If I let you reach me, will you teach me?

For you know better than I.

You know the way.

I’ve let go the need to know why.

I’ll take what answers you supply.

You know better than I.

I've had a lot of ponderings lately on my need to trust the Lord. I like to be in control—a personality trait that was only intensified by my health problems. I am really trying to let go and let the Lord guide my life. I have really tried to live by Elder Cook's counsel to "Live by Faith and Not by Fear." If I try to control everything, I am letting my life be guided by fear—fear of the unknown, fear of failure. I don't want to live that way. But if I choose to allow the Lord to guide my life, then I am letting go of that fear and living in Faith. It is a hard lesson and one I'm still struggling with. This song's thoughts on letting go and trusting the Lord because He knows "better than I" really express what I am trying to learn.

For Good: from Wicked

I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason,

Bringing something we must learn.

And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them,

And we help them in return.

Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true,

But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun,

Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood,

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime,

So let me say before we part:

So much of me is made of what I learned from you,

You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.

And now whatever way our stories end,

I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend.

Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea,

Like a seed dropped by a sky-bird in a distant wood,

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

And just to clear the air,

I ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done you blame me for.

But then, I guess we know there’s blame to share,

And none of it seems to matter anymore.

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

I do believe I have been changed for the better.

And because I knew you,

I have been changed for good.

I truly believe that there are people we were meant to know in this life, people who help shape and color our lives. This song is such a perfect expression of gratitude to those people. There are so many things I love about this song. I love that I was able to ask forgiveness in it. No one is perfect and I love that at the end of my journey on this CD, I was given the opportunity to “clear the air.” I also love the line, “we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them,

and we help them in return.” We are always given the opportunity to grow, if we choose it. There are so many people who have touched my life for good. I am truly grateful for every relative, friend, and teacher who has taught me valuable lessons, shown acts of kindness and showered me with love. I hope that I can pass on that legacy to those I’m blessed to know.

I never imagined how much I would learn from this experience. I am so grateful that Debbie suggested it. I am grateful for the encouragement, support and sometimes pushing from my family and friends. Without that support, I never would have found the courage to even start this project, let alone finish it. These songs have become very dear to me. I am grateful for the power of music and good lyrics. I am grateful for this opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been and where I hope to go. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this part of myself—this part of my harvest.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Letter of Apology

Dear Blog,

I am sorry I've been neglecting you. You have been so patient while I was sick, Mom was sick, I got to be a "Mom," and Christmas projects took top priority. Thank you for that patience.

I promise that I have been thinking of you and missing you while I've been away. I have so many posts planned! I have the rest of the Thanksgiving posts all planned out, a post about 101 goals, some deep thoughts on Advent (hope, faith, joy and love), my big Christmas project, and even a new nutcracker from Sinter Klaas! It doesn't help that our computer is dying, so all the great pictures I planned to include in those posts are not possible until (hopefully) after Christmas. Of course, with Christmas only 10 days away!, those posts might not happen until after Christmas anyway.

So, dear blog, hold on just a bit longer. I promise some good quality time is coming!