Buttonhole

I have very good days and very hard days. Just like you. On the very hard days, I try a number of things to get back in tune. Different things work on different days. Social media never works. Dogs are a pretty reliable win. Poetry has never let me down.

Naomi Shihab Nye wrote this in one of my favorites of her poems: “I want to be famous in the same way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular but because it never forgot what it could do.”

This is me being the very best buttonhole I can be:

I remember this day. It was a terribly sad day for me because it was the last performance of a band I had played with for almost fifteen years.

Here I am happy though because I am useful. I love these three dancers and their joy gives me joy. Dance needs music and music needs dance.

Thank you, Tréa Champagne and the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance for being my buttons.

The international Irish dance community has suffered a tremendous loss in the death of beloved young dance champion Ian Luebbers.

Today is an important day to reflect on the truth that we all belong to each other and what’s most important is how we can love each other best in this world.

Without my buttons, I’m just a hole.

Interview with Dannye Chase

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by writer Dannye Chase for her delightful new project The Bright Side Blog.

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Dannye is as gifted an interviewer as she is a writer and we had a lot of fun discussing creativity and parenting along with many other things we have in common.

Stop on over to read my interview and check out her other interviews and stories as well. Dannye is a wonderful  person to know, especially if you are inspired by looking on the bright side of life.

Collaboration

This is me at my happiest onstage.

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Collaboration is where it’s at for me. I write these words as I listen to some tracks from a project in the works with my bandmate Keith Reins and our friend, piper Jon Cooper. The final recording session is scheduled for early next year but I can’t keep to myself how proud and grateful I am to be part of this project and to soon(ish) be able to share it with the world.

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To all my friends who are as fascinated by (okay, obsessed with) folk music as I am: go read Keith’s essays about this project. They are insightful, hilarious, and thought provoking.

Special thanks to Ginger Joslin VeDepo for taking these photos at the 2015 St. Louis Tionol.

 

Hesperides

Song of a Man Who Has Come Through
by D.H. Lawrence

Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.

Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.

What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.

No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them

But then what? The morning after you stumble upon the garden when the light is good and you can’t help but see that it’s not a place where a person can actually live?

Wheelhouse, Population 1

My students, both the ones I gave birth to and the ones who come to me for a musical education, are used to me using sports analogies to illustrate ideas about technique and practice. We all have a good laugh about this instructional tendency of mine because I am the last person you would find doing any sort of sportsing.

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By Mike Rosenthal at VectorBelly

Imagine my utter lack of surprise to discover that the term wheelhouse, which I use a LOT, was popularized by baseball, meaning “the zone that is most advantageous for a batter to hit a home run“.

Now that we’re several years into this homeschooling adventure, the one area in which I feel like I have wasted the most energy is trying to convince other people that our parenting choices are not negative reflections of any other parenting choices.

Homeschooling is my wheelhouse. Public and private schooling , for separate and entirely personal reasons, are not. If I wasn’t a professional musician with a strange and varied work schedule; if my son wasn’t autistic; if my financial situation were different; if if if… who knows what my wheelhouse would be.

Sarah Mackenzie‘s guest post at Simple Homeschool (excerpted from Sarah‘s book Homeschooling From Rest; A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace) has inspired me to consider how I am loading my metaphorical pack as we begin our homeschooling journey this fall. The thing that weighs me down the most, that makes each step leaden instead of light, is making excuses for my wheelhouse.

I know that it will take some vigilance on my part to make sure that this habit of mine doesn’t sneak back in with each well meaning question from a stranger (or often, from a friend) but I dedicate this post to my desire to hold that precious vacated space open for what truly nourishes us on this journey.

Here’s hoping that 2014 proceeds as it began

Here’s to a year of slow going, of taking time to putter, taking time to breathe, of “walking up the mountain rather than running up the hill” –Debbie Rosas

Here's hoping that 2014 proceeds as it began

Atticus and I up at the cabin before the polar vortex shoved us inside

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Nothing entrances like flame

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After only 11 short years and multiple rejections, Sam has found a dog bed which he will deign to sleep upon

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A robot costume made of the insert of the rice cooker and a cardboard box elicits more joy than the closet full of costumes can provide

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Dinosaurs need their tea time too, you know.

Lists

Oh, how I love lists!

In actual fact, lists are how I maintain sanity. I don’t throw that idea around lightly and I know that I’m in good company. At least 40 million Americans and I have a problem with anxiety. There are just so many things so utterly out of our individual control. So. Many. Things.

My newest list was actually prescribed to me recently by my therapist and I think I now know precisely how Harriet felt when Dr. Wagner gave her the notebook. I had previously been operating under the impression that the lists are a crutch and that I shouldn’t need them as much as I do. My therapist disagrees with this notion. Her feeling is that the lists are a tool like any other tool and they only has as much power as I give them.

I now have this little notepad that has a little pen attached and the only thing I use it for is when a worry floats into my mind. I just jot it down, not a huge description or anything, just a note. The idea is that I don’t need to fuss over the worry right then and there. I’ve just recorded it and I don’t have to pass judgment on it, I’m just noticing it. Then I also have a designated time of the day when I read through the list.

Yes, I have a regularly scheduled time to worry. Yay?

It took a few days but I now see what an awesome brain emptying technique it is. I read through the list when I’m having my second cup of coffee and half of the time, I can just cross a worry right off the list because it’s no longer relevant in the light of day. The other half of the time, I can assign an action to it. The more I’ve done it, the more successful I’ve become at letting the thought go once I write it down because I know that I’ll cover it during my list review time.

It’s not a sparkly magic solution but it doesn’t really have to be in order to be valuable, does it?