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Be the love you wish to feel in the world.

I believe in the infinite power of love, and I also believe that I can’t just wait around for love to rise and save the world. Love will always rise again. And I can be one of many who give it legs. Even when it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. Especially then.

Here’s my song for week 47 of #songaweek2016. Apologies for its very rough draftiness. I wanted to finish early this past week so I could enjoy my parents’ visit for Thanksgiving (which I did!).

When the ugly words of angry men come screaming on the wind
Love’s gonna rise again
When the comfortable complacent ones keep keeping quiet
love’s gonna rise again
when you can barely believe it, keep singing anyway
love’s got to rise again
when you can’t really feel it, keep hanging on anyway
love’s got to rise again

love’s gonna rise
love’s gonna rise
love’s got to rise again
love’s gonna rise
love’s gonna rise
love’s got to rise again

out of the mud, out of the ruins
out of the rotten remains
love’s gonna rise again

when you lay her down into the ground and feel your heart stop
love’s gonna rise again
when days are dark and nights are long and cold sets in
love’s gonna rise again
when you can’t see the point, get out of bed anyway
love’s got to rise again
when all seems lost, keep reaching out anyway
love’s got to rise again

love’s gonna rise
love’s gonna rise
love’s got to rise again
love’s gonna rise
love’s gonna rise
love’s got to rise again

love paints the world in vibrant colors and sings in many voices
love’s gonna rise again

love’s gonna rise
love’s gonna rise
love’s got to rise again
love’s gonna rise
love’s gonna rise
love’s got to rise again

 

Off the Edge

Here’s my song for week 46 of #songaweek2016. Typical me in November.

I’m sliding off the edge of another long year
and nobody here but the wind
oooh, and how my heart cries
for the gone and the passing away

 

I Held You First

This past week was my son’s tenth birthday, so for week 45 of #songaweek2016, I wrote him a song and made a video to go with it. Now I have no more single-digit children!

Who could ever explain how a bald-headed bundle of joy
just by eating and sleeping and laughing and learning
grows into a long-haired long-legged ten-year-old boy?

I held you first
and right through the worst of those midnight crying hours
and I’ll be the last
to ever let go of the love you birthed in me

What a difference a decade of everyday days can make
first you’re reaching, then rolling, then crawling, then walking
jumping, kicking, running, swimming, climbing, never hitting the brakes

I held you first . . .

Be brave, be kind, be-you-tiful boy

I shouldn’t be shocked that you’ve been melting me from day one
cause chocolate bars and momma’s hearts
behave the same way in the light of the sun[son]

I held you first . . .

Immigrants’ Children

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These are my kids, seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time last summer.

These children are good red-blooded Americans. Which means their genetic code is a patchwork produced by immigrants. They are here because a religiously persecuted sect called the Schwenkfelders fled Germany in the 1700s and settled in Pennsylvania. And they are here because another group seeking religious freedom left Sweden and settled in Minnesota. Their immigrant ancestors also include English and Irish, French, Spanish and Scot; and one Austrian grandmother on my side who by family accounts remained an undocumented immigrant her entire life. My children also have at least one non-immigrant ancestor, from the Native American Choctaw tribe.

I don’t know what my kids are up to in this photo – I took it but I didn’t pose it and I don’t recall if I knew what they were doing (maybe trying to catch bird poop?!), but just now, I like to imagine that the immigrants who made them are rising up and reaching out through them, towards that hope of freedom, a new start, a land of opportunity. I like seeing the sun shining on their young hands, and I hold out hope that love and compassion and courage will flow through those hands as they grow up in this deeply divided nation and inevitably encounter suffering, unkindness, and injustice in many forms.

And I pray for their mother to let them inspire her, to speak up and stand up for the vulnerable, to help them make their way peacefully and bravely in this world, to not be afraid.

And for today’s immigrants, in so many ways so like my own ancestors and my husband’s, and those of my neighbors, of my friends, of so very many of my fellow Americans – I pray peace, safety, freedom, and opportunity. And I stand with them, on the legs I inherited from immigrants, their hopes and dreams still alive in me – and in these children.

 

I’m seeing a trend of posts in my Facebook feed about people encountering hatefulness and bullying on their own feeds regarding the election. I’m in complete agreement that we need to be kind and respectful with one another, but in my personal observation, I really haven’t seen outright unkindness – bullying, name-calling, belittling – from those who agree or disagree with me personally.
 
Maybe I’ve got a roster of amazing friends (and I’m not denying that!)** – but I’m wondering if some people are feeling threatened by the intensity of other people’s emotions and emotive posts regarding their personal perspectives on the election, and calling grief and anger (at the state of things, not at particular people) or celebration and excitement (from those who voted for the winning candidate) hatred and bullying when that is not what they are.
 
I’ve always appreciated knowing people with diverse opinions, and I want to hear what they have to say. And I feel valued and respected when other people want the same from me. I also don’t feel that I need to comment on everything or try to change anyone’s mind.
 
So yes, please, let’s make America kind again. And let’s also be brave in voicing our opinions and listening to those of others. A well-rounded society needs both.
 
**And also, as in everything I have to say, I acknowledge that I speak from a mostly privileged position, with all the blind spots and lack of understanding that that inevitably entails. I also acknowledge that other people may be processing all the memes and sound bites and joking or not-so-joking or angry posts at a much more personal level, and also that some people definitely are posting things to be hateful and unkind, and others are on the receiving end of that.

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Week 44 of #songaweek2016 was a joint project with my aunt in Pennsylvania. Aunt Marti drives a school bus and thought it’d be fun to have a song for the kindergarteners on her bus. She wrote the words and I set it to music and Nathan helped me fill it out with some extra mouth noises.

 

Thank You Me

Week 43 of #songaweek2016 had an added challenge to “write a song to your younger self.” It also happened to be the week of my birthday, so instead of the usual advice song I might have written (which is more like this one I wrote earlier in the year), I made myself a musical birthday card of sorts. There are plenty of things I may wish I had done differently in my younger days, but there are also things I can thank my younger self for, choices and actions that have helped bring me to this point of life in one relatively happy and healthy piece.

What would you thank your younger self for?

Thanks for having faith in me
thanks for believing I could grow up and be okay
thanks for still inspiring me
thanks for caring, growing, and learning

thanks for filling my head
with colorful memories
and propelling my will
with bold new dreams

thanks for saving me some money
thanks for choosing that man
thanks for holding on to me

I’m still alive and well
still have some miles to run
and though you’re only one of the many
people who I have to thank
you still count.