I am in New York City for the first time in a year. Last night, I played at a beautiful benefit event for Paradigm Shift on the Lower East Side. It was a friggin’ love-fest with some of my favorite people gathered together for a great cause. Hamell on Trial rocked our socks off. It was exactly what I needed.

Now, here I am drinking a cappuccino and eating a froufy salad. I’m trying to enjoy a two-day vacation before dealing with what’s next. But my brain won’t back off. “What’s next? What’s next? WHAT’S NEXT?!!” And the more I attempt to answer this question, the more I realize that I have no way of knowing or controlling what’s next. By day 12, I’ve raised a white flag and am calling 2012 “The Year of Surrender”.

Currently, I have a one-way ticket to Phoenix. I’ll be leaving on Saturday. This topic does a little tap dance on the line between public and private information. On the one hand, it’s extremely personal. On the other hand, it’s a very large part of my life and it is deeply tied to my relationship with music.

My mom is very sick. She has been sick for years with a disease that doctors have failed to identify or treat. It is a degenerative neurological condition without a name. They’ve called it CFS, Fibromyalgia, Parkinsons, MSA… Whatever it is, no matter what drugs they’ve pumped into her, mom’s body has remained locked in a process of slow shutdown since I was in 3rd grade.

I started writing songs because it was the one thing that felt right. Everything at home was wrong, but music was right. It actually had the power to make unhappy people feel happy again. That was magic to me. In the beginning, mom was always the first to hear my new songs. She hasn’t ever been able to see me play live outside of her living room, but she tells everyone with pride that her daughter is a musician.

So now, where do things stand? Have we finally reached the last stage of this illness? It is definitely a transition point where certain things need to be taken care of at home. Thus far, I’ve experienced nothing more painful than watching mom struggle without a cure for years. In the end, the best thing I can do is simply listen to what she has to say.

But in the name of sanity, I also have to listen to myself. This ends up being surprisingly difficult. My various little inner-voices, incessant inner-monologues, blahblahblah. And somewhere in that mess, my heart is whispering what I’m actually feeling or supposed to be doing. It’s so easy to just look to the outside world for guidance. But rarely does that actually get you where you need to be.

So I am sitting here poking at the leftover bits of my froufy salad (turns out there is such a thing as too much arugula), listening. And all I hear is, “Everything will work out.” Giving up my day job so I can go to Arizona for a little while to take care of some important things is what I need to do. Of course, I’m not thrilled with the scenario, but I’m also feeling extremely fortunate that things are falling into place so that I’m able to help. Lead the way, heart. Off we go, into 2012. I’m actually listening, for once.

 

THE MESSAGE

you’re like a little blackbird
always singing in my head
now I see I’ve had it backwards
what I heard’s not what you meant
your simple little song
tied its strings to my heart
the melody rose and fell
Parts of me were torn apart
that’s the truth, I guess that’s art

you plant the seed
I’ll make it grow grow grow
throw me in the river
I will go with the flow
I think I’ve got the message now
got holes in my pockets but
I’ll carry it somehow

tell me the truth will set me free
yeah I’ll speak some words
and grow some wings
each one of those little feathers
a badge of sharp awakening
It’s hard to take direction
when I can’t hear,
I tend to take the wheel
when I shouldn’t steer
that’s the truth, please interfere

you plant the seed
I’ll make it grow grow grow
throw me in the river
I will go with the flow
I think I’ve got the message now
got holes in my pockets but
I’ll carry it somehow

I strive for that place of no fear where
I take the leap and know the net will appear
deep down we know exactly why we’re here
so I will trust but I might cry
then I will laugh and wonder why, just…

plant the seed
I’ll make it grow grow grow
throw me in the river
I will go with the flow
I think I’ve got the message now
got holes in my pockets but
I’ll carry it somehow

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