JOY

Good morning, dad!

I woke up this morning, and before opening my eyes all the way, opened a book of Mary Oliver’s poetry.  She reminds me of the miracle of all that is life.  Of all that is present in my world….whether it’s dead or alive.  And then I put the book down and look at the view from my bed and I see the mountains and tattered prayer flags and snow and sage brush.  I am myself for the first time in eight months.  I sleep again.  I’m in Taos. You know how much I love it here.

So I woke up and read Mary Oliver and had a spectacular view of the mountains and prayer flags, and got out of bed and put the kettle on for tea.  It’s early.  Lucy is with me, and she’s frolicking in the snow.  I think she feels like herself for the first time in eight months, too.  Daily walks into the hills across the street from where I’m staying.  And just being with me.  She’s happy. And there’s nothing like being with a happy dog.

I’m spending three weeks here.  It’s a solo writers retreat. I’m surrounded by beauty.  My best friend and her husband live in the main house and I have a little apartment just next door.  The light is beautiful.  And when the sun starts on it’s way down, the glow on the mountains makes my heart jump.  And then it’s night time.  And the stars are unbelievable.  There’s no light pollution here.  Just stars. And the howling of the animals of the night.  And I go to sleep early.

I spend my days writing.  Mostly working on songs, but the occasional journal entry, too.  I’ve spent very little time on business stuff. Keeping my brain clear for the writing I want to do.  For the longest time, I’ve felt bad for not having new material.  I mean, it’s been years.  But now, I just remember who I am.  I’m pretty slow when it comes to writing songs.  I’m not one of those people that can wake up in the middle of a tour and whip out a song.  I’m not inspired on the road.  I’m tired and disconnected on the road.  Except during the actual show, when I come alive for a few hours.  But then the anxiety creeps in.  And I have to face the people.  It is my choice to put myself out there to the world.  To be vulnerable.  It’s who I am.  But with that comes a lot of chatting after a show, and while I so rarely feel anything but love toward people at any particular moment, it’s the end of the night, after talking with 5o or more people, that I feel like there’s nothing left to give.  I have nothing left for myself.  So I sit up in bed, anxious and missing home. It’s just the way the road is.  I think a lot of musicians feel it.  I think a lot of musicians probably don’t.  I also think it’s important to pay attention to this stuff and make life decisions based on how we spend the majority of our time.  This brings me to my next point….

Dad, I’ve decided, after April, to take most of 2016 off from the road.  I want to create and connect with home.  I want to have a garden and I want to sew and make my own dresses and have time with Miss Lucy into her old age.  I want to be more relaxed about all our fertility stuff.  I want to have a home life with Danny. I want to have quality time with people.  Not panicked time.  I want to ease back into my relationships and not feel like I’m rushed to see everyone at a particular time while I’m home.  I just want to be home.  And I want my friends to know I’m home.  So I can be helpful in their lives. I want to volunteer at hospice.  I want to take care of my body and eat food that I make for myself.  And sometimes, I want to sit on the couch and watch romantic comedies all day long.  And I want to record a new album.  I’m so excited to release new work to the world come 2017.

My heart is so open right now and I am full of joy.   When I’m in Taos, I’m taken back to when I was 25.  SO FREE! (and so broke).   But reminded of how lucky I am to have experienced such a strangely beautiful place for a few years.  And now I come back and feel grounded and inspired.  My friends here have made beautiful lives for themselves.  I’m in awe of the quality of their existence.  They chose to push through here.  To be survivalists until they became settled.  And then they became home owners and found partners and many of them had children and those children are the most adventurous kids I’ve ever met.  They spend their lives on the river and on skis and in the woods hunting rattle snakes, and camping and hiking.  They spend their lives like their parents do.  With a true connection to this earth.  It’s just what Mary Oliver talks about in her poems.  It fills me with gratitude and makes me thankful for everything I have been given in this life.  I’m so glad you were my dad.  I believe you looked at the world through miracle glasses.  And while a day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss you so badly it hurts, there’s also not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for all the years we had together.

Tonight I will raise a glass of milk to you.  Because that’s what we do for you.  And it makes me smile so big it hurts.

I love you, dad. And I am healing.  Thank you for teaching me about joy.

A few photos from Taos:

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National Chicken Wing Day

Good Morning, Dad!

I had all intentions of writing yesterday, but it was national chicken wing day, and I was so busy being excited about my wing dinner, I forgot to write.  You know how much I love wings, so I’m sure you understand.

All is settling down here, dad.  I’m feeling a lot better.  I look at photos of you each night before bed, and I put a tiny bit of your ashes in a locket that I wear all the time.  It rests on my heart chakra….right where you belong.

I was sad for you to miss national chicken wing day, but I’m not sad for you to be missing most other news.  Jeeeesh.  The killing of Cecil the Lion is all I can bare.  Then add Donald Trump to it, and, well, the world feels terrible. I feel like I can write the news each day before things even happen.  Some awful shooting, some horrible presidential candidates (I won’t name them here, but really, people can fill in their own blanks.  Being that you were apolitical, I won’t get all preachy when I’m writing to you.  You heard plenty of my opinions when you were alive, and since I’m a hippy, free spirited folk singer, people probably already know which way I lean).  Any who…..the news.  You always hated the news. I know there’s probably lots of good news, too.  I wish it was talked about more.  I just don’t care what mega stars are getting divorced.  Seriously.  Who gives a shit? Tell me who’s doing good in the world. Help me do good in the world.  And on that note…..

On the Music front…..one of my main struggles since you passed is understanding sense of purpose in my musical life.  I mean seriously.  I spend most of my time on the road, away from home, away from the people I love, away from miss Lucy the dog, away from having the garden I can’t have because I’m away, away from the chickens I also can’t have because I’m away, alway from being able to help a neighbor, away from being able to volunteer…….I can go on forever.  What I do on the road seems so trivial compared to an existence I can have at home, BUHHHHT  just when I was about to throw in the towel and figure out how to be home all the time, I received the most beautiful e-mail from a woman named Paula.  I don’t know her, but she was at a show of mine this past year, and the letter she sent reminded me that music can be so healing. I don’t normally share stuff like this, because bragging isn’t my way in the world, and this feels a little like that, but for the purpose of explaining this to you, I’ll just share one little quote from her extremely thoughtful message.  She said, “So, you and your art have traveled with me from despair to tranquil happiness. Your voice – shit, your magnificent pipes, have been my soundtrack to healing. ” And just like that, I’m ready to play more shows (that barely anyone attends), because you just never know, dad.  You really never know who might be there and who might need to hear that show in that specific moment in time. Life is so awesome like that!  And although my plan is to play  less and be home more, I’m actually excited to write again and record a new album, which you would have worn out on your boom box.  You had a boom box! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I do want to thank Paula for her message.  I hope I can explain to her how much the timing of it matters in my life.  Thank you for your honesty, Paula.  And dad, you should watch over her. She’s good peeps. Oh, and I’m singing with Danny at Strange Brew in Austin this Sunday.  You never went there, but you would have liked it a lot.

On the fertility front, Danny and I are rockin’ it.  Progesterone shots in the ass that are mostly fine, but I sometimes have moments that make little to no sense at all.  Example…….I was in a very adorable little shop in Charlottesville the other day and I just looked at Danny and said, “Everything in here is so beautiful.” And I started crying.  Right in front of the pottery and the post cards.  Crying. Tears running down my face.  Danny is so cute in those moments. He makes the perfect amount of fun of me and gives me a hug and shuffles me out the door.  Dad, he’s taking real good care of me (although he’s down to the zero nicotine on his e-cig, and between that and my hormones, we’re two crazy people). BUT YAHOO FOR DANNY!  You were never addicted to anything, but let me tell you, it is nearly impossible to quit.  You’d be so proud of him.

On the crafting/home DIY front, I finished painting the little rental unit and  decoupaged the light switch covers.  I also took some photos.  See:

light switch covers
decoupaged light switch covers
Re-finished white cabinet
Re-finished white cabinet

I think that’s all for today.  Life is good.  I’m easing back into this universe at my own pace and I still have moments of such sadness, but they feel different now.  I don’t feel as panicked. And I’m sleeping a little better.  And I saw you in my dreams for the first time last night and it was awesome. Thanks for showing up.  You were always good at that.

I love you and miss you, dad.  And I’m always crying by the end of writing to you.  I hope no one ate your angel wings on National wing day…….

xo.

c.

p.s. Here’s a little photo series of you and Austin the day before you died.  This is how amazing you were (and SO FUNNY!):

austin dad 1 austin dad 2 austin dad 3

Compartmentalization, fear, and getting back to life or whatever.

Good Morning, Dad!

I don’t know.  I just really don’t know.  I keep thinking of how on earth I’m going to transition this blog into a crafty/touring/random life stuff blog, and I have no idea how to do it.  And I guess I’m not QUITE ready, really.  Tomorrow will be three weeks since you passed and now things are getting tricky.  Like it all feels so much deeper.  I’ve never been good at compartmentalizing, but I’m starting to understand the importance of such a skill, and I’m working on it, and getting pretty decent at it, I must say.  I guess the “my dad died” compartment gets full a lot of the time though.  And then the flood gates open.  I woke up this morning looking like I had been punched in the face.  And feeling like it, too.

And this past week.  ugh.  I keep having all these anxiety dreams and mild panic attacks.  I didn’t think I even had the ability to have these things.  I thought it wasn’t part of my Elkin make up.  As it turns out, it IS possible for me to feel enormous amounts of fear and anxiety.  Every time the phone rings, I fear the call will be about someone I love dying. And these nights are so restless.  And I’m walking around in a fog.  In circles.  But I always want to be doing something, because when I stop, I think, and when I think, I cry. I tried to play music for the first time since your passing and I couldn’t get through 10 seconds of a song without having a melt down.  This weekends festival is going to be interesting, huh?  I’m gonna do it though.  I’m headed to The Woody Guthrie festival with a bunch of my pals to “get back on that horse and ride”.  I’m scared to death.  I’ve never been afraid to step in front of an audience, and for the first time ever, the thought makes me sick.

I missed you on the 4th.  I remember sitting between your legs as a little girl and you would cover my ears because I didn’t like the noise.

And now, my beautiful community of friends keep asking me what I need.  They keep asking what they can do for me.  And I just don’t know.  I wish there was something I could tell them.  But all I can say is it’s nice when they check in. I think it’s because what I need is to have you back, and although I have the most beautifully powerful friends, I’m pretty sure none of them can do that.  Right?  Wait, can anyone do that?  Text me if you can….

I do want to thank you, dad, for your birthday joke.  I was actually excited to receive your ashes on your big day.  It made sense.  I decided to wait to open them until later in the evening and what happened??  Oh, I think you already know.  But I’ll remind you.  THEY SENT THE WRONG ONES!  THEY SENT THE WRONG PERSON’S ASHES!  OMG.  I couldn’t even get mad.  I was laughing so hard.  In response to the whole episode, I just kept asking myself,”What Would Rich Do (WWRD)?” I find myself doing that in all kinds of situations. You would have been so kind and gentle, so that’s what I was.  And it worked.  I got free shipping! HA!

On a crafting front, I’m taking an online embroidery class.  It’s meditative.  And sweet.  And good for me.  Plus, I can take projects on the road!  If you were still around, I’d make you something that you would have hung on your “Carrie wall of fame”.  I always made fun of that wall.  Taking that stuff down from your room was not easy, I must say.

On the house front, I have been painting away in the back house.  AND IT IS CUTE. I also refinished a piece of furniture that’s been hanging out in our woodshed for, oh……FOUR YEARS (Paul, it’s a good thing you guys moved out, because there would be no storage space for your drums now that the cupboard thing has been painted!). And we put a new ceiling fan in, too.  I’m getting ready to make some curtains.  I need to start photographing this stuff.  Mental note. Photograph stuff.

On the fertility front.  Well, this topic we’re keeping a bit more private to the whole world, but after miscarrying your last would be grandkid, we’re moving forward with things again.  HORMONES INCLUDED! I shouldn’t make light of such a thing, but really, and REALLY, there’s no other way to get through these totally shitty and overwhelming two months without shaking my head and laughing. Note to self…..do not wait until you’re 41 to have a kid. Oh wait, we totally screwed that one up. eh.  We’ll be fine.  Today’s hormone injection was only a two on a pain scale of one to ten. Things are looking up.

And now.  I should go make myself busy because my heart hurts. I miss you, dad.  I called your voice mail just to hear your voice say your own name….you’ve reached the voicemail of “RICH ELKIN”!

And I’m gonna attach some photos here that I found when going through your things.  One is of you in 1965 when you were in Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis (BAD ASS).  One is of you and Rick and me at a picnic in Squires Castle where the Hells Angels used to hang out and you would make friends with them. And one is of you and me on my first day of school. Pretty cute.

I love you so much.  And my heart is broken. I guess this is what it feels like, huh?  A broken heart.

marines squires castle school