On the chance to look again

The morning after I received the news that my father committed suicide, I went out to run errands to be ready to travel home for the funeral and it was as though the world I was living in had transformed from black and white to full, vibrant color. I recall stopping on my steps because I was struck by the intense green of the leaves and deep blue of the sky. It was an overwhelming contrast to the haze of grief I felt. Such a massive loss brought me jarringly into the present and gave me the opportunity to see the world again through a very different lens.

This fall I was reminded of this when I made the decision to just walk in the mornings without listening to podcasts or music. As a result I’ve stopped on the sidewalk many a morning while the dog pulls to get to the next spot to sniff, to just breathe and watch the sun appear on the horizon as a giant orange ball, casting its pinkish glow. With each street the color will change from pink to orange to deep lavender until the brilliantly blue sky appears. I’ve also found that almost every day I see a cardinal, my favorite bird. A bird that is said to be the sign of support and love from a loved one that has passed.

In the the past two weeks the leaves on the trees in our neighborhood have shifted from green to yellows, oranges and reds. There is one tree in particular that I love. It is a stately maple, the perfect tree for climbing really, in our neighbor’s yard. We stand across from it each morning as we wait for the bus to pick my daughter up.



Watching the tree change from green to yellow and finally orange, I was reminded of my experience standing on my front steps fifteen years ago. Just as they did before, the colors I see outside appear more vivid; as though mother nature lit New England on fire.

The opportunity to see things again is one we can easily take for granted as we go about our days never really noticing the world around us. It took great loss for me to be brought to the present to the beauty of the world. However, the ability to be present is available to all of us, and I, for one, am so grateful I stopped to notice the beauty of nature this fall. Seeing a cardinal never fails to bring a smile to my face as I remember my dad. The leaves have moved past their peak now and are turning rust color as they fall to the ground. We’ll have a long winter of looking at bare tree limbs before mother nature graces us again with the vibrant greens of spring leaves. I know I’ll be watching for them, will you? #30daysgrateful


Let go of the past. Embrace the present.

Moving from one year to another is always a significant shift. Sometimes we make a laundry list of resolutions, which, inevitably, we never keep. (As a side note, I make one resolution, the same resolution, every year…to floss my teeth…I’m all about attainable goals!).

Rather than resolutions, what I do every year is make a list of intentions. Things I would experience and accomplish. I offer up my intentions with gratitude. To be honest, I usually forget about my list after a few months, but when I return to it at the end of the year, I’m always surprised how many of the things actually came to pass. For 2014 I made a list of 40 things because I was 40 years old. The list was ambitious and lots of things would mean moving heaven and earth to make them happen. As I look back at my list today,  I ended up doing 23 of the items I listed.

Below is a way you can create your own list of intentions for the coming year while also letting go of the year that is ending.


Fireworks in Cluj Napoca

Begin and End with Gratitude

On New Year’s Eve sit with a friend or partner and make a list of all the big events that happened in your life in 2014. Next, make a list of the challenges you faced, moments you regret and realizations you make.

Read these lists over, either to yourself, or out loud (if you are feeling especially brave!).

Then, offer your list to the Universe (if you have a fireplace, you could place the list in the fire, BUT DON’T JUST GO LIGHTING THINGS ON FIRE, THAT’S NOT SAFE!). In lieu of burning the list you could say something like, “May this year’s benefits be realized, mistakes be dissolved and may I be both loving and loved in the year ahead.”

Now you are ready to move into 2015!

Create a list of intentions, offered with gratitude.

Begin your list with “In deepest gratitude, in 2015 I will _________.” Then continue writing your list in the present tense. You can share this list or keep it to yourself, but I recommend storing it in a place where you will see it once in a while – I keep mine on my vision board in my small (read: reclaimed closet), creative space.

Whatever you set as your intentions, may your voice be heard in the year ahead. May you find yourself enveloped in love, willing to walk the journey of your life while embracing both the challenging and easy moments.


Here is a poem by my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, to offer a little more inspiration for the coming year:

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Singer’s Wellness – Gratitude and Your Immune System

Singer’s Wellness: Gratitude and Your Immune System

There are the traditional methods of staying healthy including eating well, sleeping and hydrating. Then there are other ways that you can boost your health (and your happiness too) that you don’t normally think of.

At the top of the list is Gratitude.

About two years ago, I began a gratitude journal as I found myself caught up in day-to-day struggles and wanted to see more of the blessings in my life. Rather than going to bed each night fretting over what hadn’t gone well, or what I hadn’t done, I wanted to remember the wonderful things that were going on around me all the time. So, I bought a pretty notebook (I’m a total sucker for notebooks and have a ton of them around at all times) and a pen I liked and put it on my bedside.

Then, I didn’t write in it.

Seriously. I wrote in it about once every three months. At most.

One day, I went to bed particularly bothered by the day. I hadn’t felt like a good teacher, yogi, singer, parent or spouse. I had snapped at people, I was getting a cold and I just generally felt down about the world. I saw the notebook sitting there and I thought ‘what the hell, why not?’ and I pulled it out.

It was a struggle to come up with three things about the day that I was grateful for. It was really, really hard. I kept at it though. Each night I wrote.

Fast forward to today and I write almost nightly and can easily fill a page with the things I have noticed happening in my day that I am grateful for. Most of the time they are small, mundane, ordinary things, but they are worth a grateful moment of recognition. Occasionally I’ll write about things that I want to have happen in the hopes that expressing my gratitude for having something will help will it into existence. Sometimes I’m too tired and I just mentally make a list of things I’m grateful for.

I don’t even write in complete sentences, just phrases. Keep it simple.

Robert Emmons, PhD, a prof at UC Davis, researches gratitude and the effects it has on people. In an article he wrote for The Greater Good, at the top of the list of physical benefits of gratitude is “stronger immune systems”. You can view his list of 10 ways to become more grateful and at the top of that list is to keep a gratitude journal.

Go ahead, indulge in a new notebook and a pen you love. Put the book by your bedside and commit to writing in it nightly. Start with just three things you are grateful for and watch how your list grows over time. If you need some ideas, try keeping track of:

  • the things your voice allows you to do,
  • how the people around you have helped you pursue your singing goals,
  • your admiration for your singing colleagues,
  • the opportunities you have to share your gift with others,
  • other small moments in your daily life that make you thankful.

Your healthy voice and your spirit will love you for it!