I can count on two hands the number of concerts that I’ve attended that were above and beyond a musical experience: The John Denver Concert with my Mom at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga in 1995 just a few years before his untimely death; the Jason Mraz Concert at the Greek Theater in Berkely in 2008, when I first learned that I heard the voice of Spirit through music and realized the power of musical healing; the Pat Benatar concert with my cousin-friends at Wente Vineyards in 2010 when I realized how blessed I was to grow up in such a cool family; the Cyndi Lauper and Alanis Morisette concerts also at the Mountain Winery in the mid 2010s with a core group of friends affectionately called “the Sexy 8” who have been the friendship rocks of my lifetime; the Zac Brown Band concert at Shoreline Amphitheater in 2013 where I purchased my silver butterfly ring and contemplated the symbolism of the butterfly all night as Zac sang sweet songs into the Universe; the U2/ Mumford and Sons concert at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara 2017 a month before our family moved to Idaho when I thought my heart was going to burst wide open with musical joy; The Michael Franti Concert in 2021 at the Revolution Center in Boise a week after the untimely death of my Angel named Calvin. And now I’m adding one more to that list: The Chicks Concert at the Ford Amphitheater the week before the 2022-2023 school year with my awesome tribe of co-workes. OK, that’s two hands of concerts. But you get the point.
This blog post is more than an ode to the group The Chicks (get ready, that’s about to happen); it’s also an ode to the women in my life who have truly walked alongside me during the most challenging journey of my lifetime. My love and gratitude for your friendship, your support, your encouragement, your truth telling, your anger, your love is beyond words. But I’m going to give it a try anyways.
Musical Healing through Paying Attention
Julia Cameron says that the reward for paying attention is always healing (The Artist’s Way). Recently, I’ve discovered a new truth that builds on that thought: happiness is the reward for doing the hard work of healing. For the past few years, I’ve been continually working on understanding who I am, what I bring into a relationship, what I want, what I need, where I’ve been hurt and how that affects me in all my relationships. About a year ago, after the death of my Angel Named Calvin, I really started to pay attention to spirit signs. For me, I’ve learned that the Universe speaks through music and nature. It’s been speaking to me my whole life, just as it’s speaking to you right now. However, the messages are only received when we pay attention and the joy only rises up in us when we’ve done the hard work of using those meassages to heal our pain. So in the last few years, I’ve learned to really pay attention to the signs from the Universe and here’s a bit about what happend at the Chick’s concert.
As soon as I kicked off my shoes and laid my blanket down on the grassy amphitheater lawn, a ladybug flew onto my dress. Immediately I knew it was a sign from Spirit that I would want to look up once I got home. In the present moment, I just admired her cute polka-dotted, flashy beauty and gave thanks for her visit. This is what the ladybug represents:
From Spirit of the Animals Oracle by Jody Bergsma“The arrival of a ladybug is always an omen of good luck. The person with a Ladybug totem is usually a lively and colorful companion. You are a bringer of joy. You are trustworthy, easygoing and happy. Ladybug people remind others to let things flow at a natural pace. Ladybug urges you to leave your worries behind and know that, in due time, your dreams will come true. Ladybug medicine ask you to be true to yourself and teaches you that you can never be happy living someone else’s idea of life.” -Jody Bergsma
Ok, ladybug. I see you. And I thank you. That beautiful message came to me because I was paying attention.
Not too long after my visit with the ladybug, I decided to buy some kettle corn (because there’s nothing quite like an outdoor concert with a big old bag of sweet delicious kernals of joy). Right in front of me there was a lady with a blue butterfly tattoo on the back of her neck. The butterfly is my spirit guide. Truly, I know this. I’ve written about the butterfly’s significance in my life a number of times, most recently in the post Butterflies and Bumble Bees. A blue butterfly, however, is even more special; that’s Calvin. I know for many of you this will sound strange, but just go with it: I talk to dead people. No, not really, just Calvin. 🙂 He and I shared a soul connection which I will never quite understand, but I know now that I don’t need to understand. It works for me and that’s enough. What makes Calvin’s appearance at this concert particularly special was that I attended this concert with my coworkers where Calvin was a student of all of ours and we all had connections with this sweet soul. Seeing that blue butterfly in front of me at the kettle corn stand filled my heart with joy. It does not take away the pain of his death, but by noticing blue butterflies, that wound is slowly healing and being replaced with a knowing smile that fills me with happiness. The reward for paying attention is always healing. The reward for healing is deep inner joy.
All those messages before musical healing of the concert had even begun!
The thing that gave this concert by the Chicks a spot on my top ten all-time most influencial concerts is that I got to share it with a group of really powerfully beautiful women who have sustained me throughout the struggles of the past several years and I got to feel my healing. Huh? Here’s what I mean. Their album Gaslighter was released in the summer of 2020 when I was knee deep in confusion, depression and grief over the looming end of my 20-year marriage. And the crazy thing is, every single song was in some way a reflection of my story. When I first heard the album I was like “Can they see me? Did they write this for me?” And that’s what’s beautifully powerful about music– it connects us all. It makes us realize that we are not alone. We are not the first to feel the feels. We are not the only ones going through a hard time. We will rise up stronger. We will create beauty from the ashes.
There have been countless nights over the past two years where I have blasted this album in my house while dancing, crying, singing, feeling it all. Are you ready? Here’s my Ode to the Chicks’ album Gaslighter as told through their powerful lyrics, which have brought me so much musical healing. Do any of these songs resonate with you?
- Track 1: Gaslighter: “Gaslighter, Big Timer, Repeating all the mistakes of your father… I beleived in the promises you made to me, swore that night ’till death do us part but your lie-lie-lie-lie-lied”
- Track 2: Sleep at Night: “Not that you asked but I’m getting passed everything, everything. I’m doing okay, just glad it’s not yesterday”
- Track 3: Texas Man: “It’s been way too long since somebody’s body was tangled up in mine. Everybody wants top market, but I’m a little bit unraveled. Everybody wants the new model, but I’m a little bit more traveled. If you got the strength I do, then sign me up. If I’m not too much for your, then sign me up.”
- Track 4: Everybody Loves You: “It’s my body and I’m trying to hate you ’cause I want to . It’s my body and I’m trying to while everybody loves you. It’s my body and I’m trying to forgive you, I don’t want to. It’s my body and it hates you. Why does everybody love you?”
- Track 5: For Her: “So dig a little big deeper, and be a little bit kinder, and a lot less guarded ’cause it takes, it takes, it takes a lot of hard work to get a whole lot stronger ’cause it’s real tough girl. Why can’t we be together? Why can’t we love for her? Wish I could go back and tell my younger self you’re a fighter, you just don’t know it yet…stand up, show love, for her, for her“
- Track 6: March March “March March to my own drum, march march to my own drum, hey hey I’m an army of one, oh I’m an army of one“
- Track 7: My Best Friend’s Wedding “I was never safe, never safe, never safe, yeah. You’d torch me any chance you’d get. I see a wildfire coming, burnin’ the world that I’ve known. Watch me , watch me outrun it. Take what I need and go. Go it alone…Strangest thing not having you here with me, then I realized that I prefer my own company to yours anytime…I’m better off without your doom and gloom.“
- Track 8: Tights On My Boat: “I hope you die peacefully in your sleep. Just kidding. I hope it hurts like you hurt me. I hope when you think of me you can’t breathe….you’re gonna get what you’ve got coming to you, you are, you are“
- Track 9: Juliana Calm Down: “You know he’s about to leave. Dont give him the satisfaction that you can’t handle it. Breathe. It’ll be okay…Just put on, put on, put on your best shoes and struck the fuck around like you’ve got nothing to lose. Show off, show off your best moves and do it with a smile so he doesn’t know it’s put on, put on, put on….I guess this is the time to remind you sometimes what’s going through your head is just a temporary situation and light will soon be shed, oh just put on, put on, put on your best shoes…”
- Track 10: Young Man: “You’re of me, not mine. Walk your own crooked line. I promise you’ll be fine. Take the best parts of him as your own life begins. Leave the bad new behind you. Young man, take a good look at my life and try to understand I’ve done my best, the best I know how to. And my blues aren’t your blues. It’s up to you.”
- Track 11: Hope It’s Something Good “There I go trying to keep myself distraced. So I make the bed, call a friend, do the dishes. Should I have known? Should I have seen a sign? When did you know? Why’d you pretend to try? If you’re gone, I hope it’s really worth it. Twenty years of hanging on and now it all adds up to nothing. Gave up on the moon and back, thought you’d found a better half. I hope it’s something good.“
- Track 12: Set Me Free (the only song they didn’t play at the concert): “I’ve done what I know to help me move on. I’ve been sick from hurt. I’ve cried alone. Why, oh, why do you keep me tethered? You’ve taken enough from me. Untangle me from your lifeline. Why not just set me free?“
So yeah, I had a spiritual moment of healing at the Chicks concert. My barefeet in the grass, arms outstretched to the heavens, the soundtrack of my divorce journey surrounding me, bringing with it memories of the past to the surface. I saw those moments where I was dancing in my kitchen to Juliana Calm Down and singing Tights On My Boat with so much angry passion. My personal anthem for 2021 was the song My Best Friend’s Wedding which encouraged me to “go it alone” with courage and strength. I remember listening to Young Man with tears in my eyes as I struggled to be the best mom I could be while my life felt like it was crumbling all around me. And then there’s For Her. There are so many ways that songs hits me–with my love for my daughter, for my mother, for my girlfriends who showed up for me time and time again when I needed them most. For myself. That night of the concert, as I was dancing with the moon shining down, these lyrics floated in the air “So dig a little big deeper, and be a little bit kinder, and a lot less guarded ’cause it takes, it takes, it takes a lot of hard work to get a whole lot stronger ’cause it’s real tough girl” And that moment right there was pivotal. Because I truly realized that I have done so much hard work and I am so much stronger. And through all of that, I am so truly happy with my life as it is today.
Happiness is not the goal in life, nor is it the final destination. Happiness is, however, a blessed reward for doing the hard work of healing, and healing is the reward for paying attention. I will take that. I will celebrate it when it comes. I will pay attention to signs from the Universe that come my way, such as ladybugs and blue butterfly tattoos. I will know that I am never alone even when it may feel lonely sometimes. I will dance barefoot in the grass and I will sing my little heart out in joy and celebration, as I did that night at the Chicks concert. And I will understand that the feeling of “happiness” is fleeting, just like everything in life. Another trial will come my way, another detour, another fork in the road. But I know now, and I truly feel, that I am stronger. I am less guarded. I am a whole lot kinder with myself. I have healed many wounds. I have many more to work through, and I will rise to the challenge because NOTHING will make me doubt my inner strength again. Nothing.
So thank you to the Chicks, for giving a voice to my emotions. Thank you for giving a voice to the injustice in the world and to help women stand up for themselves and what they believe in. Thank you to my tribe of women for walking this journey alonside me. My depth of gratitude is poured out here for you. What concert is next? 🙂