Sunday, March 31, 2013


Music has shaped my life.  
It has saved me. 
It carries me away. 
It brings me back. 
It touches my heart and soul. 

I had a record player as a young child. It played 45's with the yellow plastic insert. It also played 78's and of course the standard 33 1/2 albums. Kids these days would have no idea what I am talking about. I still have all my childhood records, including my 45's and one 78. I spent hours listening to music.  It made me happy when not a whole lot did. 

My first favorite song that was not a kids song was Black Water from the Doobie Brothers. I heard this on the bus radio going to Girl Scout camp. The driver hadn't turned the radio from KMET to KISS FM yet. This song took me somewhere. Somewhere I had never been before. Sitting on that bus, getting ready to go to my favorite place of all time (Skyland Ranch, in the mountains above Banning, CA) listening to oh black water, keep on rolling..... Mississippi moon won'tcha keep on shining on me...... still takes me to that bus, to temporary heaven, to a place I still love today.

My teenage years brought me Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Queen. The list goes on. Life was all about sex, drugs, rock n' roll. My friends were guys. We got high, drank beer, played guitars and played dungeons and dragons--in that order. I slept with none of them. The radio was always on. When I was alone, it was still all about getting high, drinking beer and listening to music.  Like most people, when I hear an old song it brings back powerful memories. Like exactly when, where and what I was doing when I first heard the song, which is often related to a person and/or event.

My late teen's, early 20's were all about drugs, rock n' roll and my first true love. It is very hard for me to separate the three. They were so intertwined and so interconnected.  These memories and searching for the words to articulate this time send me into an instant anxiety attack. My sinuses start to burn, my lungs hurt, my heart aches, my head spins and yet, these years most profoundly shaped the person I am today. Loverboy, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Mowtown, Bob Seger, boom boxes, MTV, short skirts, big hair, long nails, long coke binges, white russians, brandy, quaaludes, valium, pot, Chook, the Wild Heart............ so much, too much. And always music.

January 1985 I got clean, my life changed dramatically, but the music played on. Records had been replaced by casette's (I never owned an 8-track player or even had an 8-track) and CD's were just around the corner.  I continued to listen to rock 'n roll. It wasn't considered "classic" yet. I dealt with the memories they evoked as it mostly brought me great comfort. 

June 1989 Taylor was born and with that came new music. Dan Crow. Joe Scruggs. Basically, kids music. But good kids music. The girls both got toddler cassette players before they were two. We all sang. At some point the girls started listening to their own music. The Backstreet Boys, Brittany Spears, Kelly Clarkson and I suddenly felt old. I didn't much like "their" music and tried to get them to like mine.  The best we ever got was a few years between 1995-2000 when they would listen to the Judds or Wynonna and some Fleetwood Mac with me.  The music wars began for us. It became a battle over the radio in the car. It was really bad by 2005. Taylor was 16, Hayley was 14 and I just felt old. There was no middle ground.  I don't know how it happened, but I became the adult who hated the music of teens. All I can say is thank goddess for cd players with headphones which led to iPods. They saved us from killing each other.

January 1, 2010 the music stopped for me. Literally. Taylor was dead. My heart was broken. My soul shattered. I could barely breathe. There are no words.

My mind screamed and screamed and screamed. I could handle NO external stimulation. I craved silence.


Music was agony.

There was no memory worth having.

I did not want to be here.

this went on for years.

Summer of 2012 and I have barely, barely begun to listen to music again. Barely. I am driving Denise's car, we are talking and she says, oh, push that button, I love that song.  I don't know what she is talking about. She is trying to reach over me as I am driving to show me how to work this box called Sirus (I think that's what it is). She turns up the volume and starts bebopping (not sure if she was singing). I was kind of in shock. It has really been that long since I had listened to anything and music certainly did not bring me pleasure as clearly it was bringing her. The song ended, the music was turned back down and that was that. Thank Goddess.

Until a few days later. 

We are now about to build her a pergola. Her son comes over to help and sets up his i-something or other with speakers and tells us he has some great music for us. I prepare for the, oh-my-goddess-i-am-going-to-have-to-listen-to-music moment. And Jeff hits play. And I am safe. I don't crumble. There are new songs I have never heard and old music I love. And we are good. I mean, I am good. It is hot, we are building, I am with people I love and I am safe. I am ok. AND I AM LISTENING TO MUSIC. Oh My Gawd. I am listening to music and I am ok.

Denise, Deb and Jeff, you brought me back to music.

I left Michigan with two new songs: Pumped Up Kicks and Somebody I Used to Love.

I came home singing.

And sometimes it makes me cry.

But all-in-all, it is so good to have music back in my life. And now I have an iPod (thank you Jennifer) with 21 songs on that I blast to hike, run, lift weights and clean the house with. I even have some "new music" on it.

I still like my music loud.  I still like the bass. I love music that makes you move--your feet, your legs, your shoulders, your head, your heart.


P.S. These post that I post "publicly" are hopefully interactive. I would love your thoughts on music, good songs, and why.....

(my current "gym" playlist)
Born this Way (Lady Gaga, 2011) love her.
Can you Feel It (Michael Jackson, 1981) this song makes me want to march
Cars (Gary Numan, 1979) summer 1980 working at Knotts Berry Farm
Couldn't Get it Right (Climax Blues Band, 1977) Reminds me of the summer I was 14
I Feel Lucky (Mary Chapin Carpenter, 1992) reminds me of the summer of 1995
Jaime's Crying (Van Halen, 1978) high school. love this song.
Losing My Religion (R.E.M, 1991) reminds me of Diana
Mambo No. 5 (Lou Bega, 1999) reminds me of Taylor and gymnastics
Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson, 1988) always inspires me
Pumped Up Kicks (Foster the People, 2012) Michigan. Summer of 2012
Rolling in the Deep (Adele, 2011) first saw this performed by Angie Johnson. Love Angie
Rumor Has It (Adele, 2011) great song
Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd, 1982) the Wall. great album. just out of high school
Running with the Devil (Van Halen, 1978) high school
Set Fire to the Rain (Adele, 2011) another great song
Somebody I Used to Know (Gotye) Michigan. Summer of 2012
Sweet Dreams (Eurythemics, 1983). cutting hair. Chook
That Don't Impress Me Much (Shania Twain, 1997) love her.
Tusk (Fleetwood Mac, 1979) reminds me I need to add The Chain.
West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys, 1984) cutting hair. Chook
Winds of Change (Jefferson Starship, 1982)
You got your life planned carefully
But you left out one detail
The hidden hand deals just one round
And the winds of change prevail

Added today:
What I Like About You (The Romantics, 1978) gotta jump up and down with this song
Joy to the World  (Three Dog Night, 1971) reminds me of Wendy
Dog Days Are Over (Florence + The Machine, 2008) makes me think of Denise
The Chain (Fleetwood Mac, 1977, but this version is 1997 live) all time fav FM song
Hotel California (Eagles, 1976, but this version is 1994 live) makes me think of Stevie
You Spin Me Right Round (Dead or Alive, 1985) reminds me of cutting hair
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers, 1988) Diana

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Many people comment on how well I am doing. They see me posting about going to the gym, biking 30 miles, hiking 12, swimming, obstacle course racing, bla bla bla. Yep, I am doing all those things. However, I am also fully aware that what I am trying to do is build a strong physical body to protect my vulnerable mind and so broken heart.

It started out all so simply. A friend was hiking pretty regularly after work. She was coming from a place of wanting to be active and to keep weight off. I could have cared less about my weight. Having always been very thin my entire life, weighing 158 should have concerned me, but it did not. In fact, when it came to me, myself and I, I cared not at all.

Gracie, 2-years-old
That said, one day I decided to take a walk--with my baby horse. She was overly attached to Nikki. She had turned two a few months earlier and I really needed to get working with her. So I haltered her up and decided to take a stroll with her off the property. 100 yards later, just out of eyesight of Nikki, she freaked out and started screaming for her. Nikki promptly nickered back. I turned the corner to continue on with her and she started back to the barn, not the direction I was taking her. Let's just fast forward. A few corners later she threw a complete tantrum and bit me in the arm. Without thinking, I kicked her in the ass hipbone and broke my ankle. Three weeks out of work and 10 pounds heavier, again, I didn't care.

late September 2011

A few months later, Denise, who I hadn't seen since Taylor died came to stay with me for a few days.  While she was here she asked when was the last time I had walked the dogs? pfffffft. Really? She commented about how sad they looked and we should take them for a walk. Now living in the national forest, walking is beautiful, in fact, everything here is beautiful. But since Taylor had died, I saw beauty no where.  It just ceased to exist. On that walk, Denise kept pointing out the faces in the oak trees and pretty wild flowers here and there, how happy the dogs were, and on and on. I felt like a zombie just nodding my head. When she left a few days later she asked me to please promise her to take the dogs on more walks. I very hesitantly mumbled ok. 

So I started walking. First, up and down the street. But I got sick of the cars and the dogs tripping me on the leashes and other people's dogs running loose and charging us and waving back to people who waived to me. So I took off for the hills.

The first "hike" was up a hill (huff and puff, huff and puff), down that hill and onward. I let the dogs off their leashes and they sniffed and ran and came back over and over again. I walked 20 minutes and then turned around and came back.  I could not make it up the back of the first hill without stopping.  I was so completely winded I had to stop several times to catch my breath.

I kept at that hill. After a few hikes under my belt, I was determined that I would NOT stop on the way back up that hill, no matter what.  It was sheer determination that got me to the top that day. It wasn't pretty, but I did not stop. And for the first time since Taylor died I felt that I had actually accomplished something (insert theme song from Rocky: trying hard now, getting strong now....). I have never stopped on that particular hill since that day. No matter how tired I am, I push up that fucking hill.

And that is how it all started.

And something else happened. I started to notice that the birds sang sometimes. And when it snowed a few weeks later, I remembered that I really liked snow. And when it rained, I remembered how lovely running water and streams sounded. By spring I had the smell of sage, and wild lavender. And I started to reconnect to the place that I had always found comforting -- the mountains.

Gotta love me some Denise.

NOTE: Denise told me later that she laid that whole "the dogs look so sad" comment on me to get me out of the house and interacting with something. She also knew the endorphines wouldn't hurt me any either. Sly woman, that Denise. She also brought me back to goddess. But that is a different post.