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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The Holidays, Hormones, and Husbands…

Good Morning, Dad….

I know….it’s been FOREVER since I wrote to you. I tried around Thanksgiving and simply couldn’t do it. I’m here now though…..sort of.

Thanksgiving was beautiful.  Rick was here.  Mom and Jeff were here.  Danny’s family and friends.  Thirty some folks in all.  I felt present and happy.  With that presence came missing you.  I’ll admit, I cried a few times.  But that’s okay. It’s all about the firsts.  I’ve already written about that.  But we’re still working our way through the year, and there’s still a lot of firsts to come.  And dad, everyone keeps saying you’re always with me, and while I sometimes THINK I feel you with me, I’m actually not really sure.  What does it feel like?  When are you here? Right now you feel more absent than present.  Maybe I’m just tired and unaware. Maybe it’s just a phase.  But really, maybe I’m just fucking exhausted.

On Sleeping

I took some sleep aids for a while to try and sleep, and while it seemed to “work”, I’m not sure it REALLY WORKED.  Like for real WORKED.  I think when I take a sleep aid, I just don’t remember not sleeping.  And that DOES have it’s benefits.  I don’t feel as anxious about not sleeping, which is good.  But I also don’t feel rested.  Ever.  I need to work on the sleep thing.  Do you know what the not sleeping is doing to me?  Well, let me start by saying I can’t remember how to sing certain things. It’s like I have something neurological going on.  I can’t remember certain words.  Like I kept calling our Thanksgiving puzzle (yep, we have one of those), a pillow. And then I was getting the colors of the puzzle confused.  I kept calling purple red. And yellow orange.  But back to the singing.  It’s my favorite thing in the world to do.  It’s second nature.  I sang before I talked. It’s what I do.  And now I can’t remember notes. I have to think about it.  I’ve never had to think about it.  It’s all muscle memory to me. The following other things happen when I don’t sleep: I have no patience, I blame the way I’m feeling on everything around me, I fight with my husband, I cry all the time, I feel anxious, I feel depressed, I don’t exercise, etc…… And then with all of these reactions to no sleep come more reactions…..it’s a never ending loop of being too exhausted to deal and then being anxious about it and then not sleeping again. I’m sure it’s a lot like being a new parent…..except I have no kid to show for it.  So there’s that……

HORMONES!

Just got going again on all that.  Right now I’m on the injections that remove all the estrogen from my system.  Do you know what that does?  It sends me into temporary menopause!!!!  SO FUN!!!!  And do you know what that does?  It makes me NOT SLEEP! AND, I get hot flashes! OMG! BRING IT ON! MORE!  And this is the time I clean out my system, so no sleep meds.  And I’m ramping down the caffeine.  And in one more week…..no wine.  I don’t drink much, but I like my morning cup of coffee and I like my wine with dinner.  Those are two things I like. Or love.  I love them so much.

On Being Married.

Being married is hard.  Being in any partnership is hard.  Danny is an amazing husband.  I know that.  I also know it’s difficult to recognize all the amazing things when I’m exhausted.  I can’t decide if what I might feel in a particular moment is an underlying issue that’s surfacing from lack of sleep, OR if I’m just a crazy nut lady that has no grasp on reality.  Maybe a mix of both?  Dad, I need guidance on how to be a better wife.  Danny and I are totally fine, by the way.  I just know I’m not easy to be with these days.  So I’m trying to figure my way through that.  I think I’m just afraid of everything right now.  And so all my reactions are fear based.  And that makes those reactions RIDICULOUS.  All part of the grieving process I suppose.  Like laying in bed at night thinking,”Why would he want to be with me right now?  I’m a crazy person.  I better get my shit together so he doesn’t leave me.  Wait, I’ll go start a fight with him.  Wait, that’s a horrible idea.  Okay, I’ll go start a fight.  THANK YOU FEAR!”

WWRD (what would Rich do)…..I think WWRD is a wonderful section for this letter blog, don’t you think, dad?

Dad, I know what you would do.  You would exercise.  SO, that’s what I’ve decided to do.  Starting today.  I’m going to run again.  I love running and somehow it’s become a stranger to me.  I’d like for me and running to be best friends again.  And I also would like running to love my knees. I’m also starting to practice yoga again.  Yoga changed my life (you already know that though).  The fact that I’m motivated to do either of those things in this moment is a miracle.  Thanks, dad.  Wait, that’s it….here you are….right with me…..in this moment…..telling me to exercise!  You’re so awesome!

On the Music Front….

I’m not going to talk with you about this yet.  But there’s big things a brewin’.

The Holidays

Mom and I put up a Christmas tree!  We did so on the first day of Hanukkah.  So we made a beautiful dinner on our new grill (thanks mom and Jeff!), lit the Christmas tree, lit the Menorah, made candles, listened to the “Hipster Christmas” music channel on Pandora, and exchanged gifts.  It’s was beautiful, dad. I need not tell you how much I miss you during the holiday season.  Remember how Rick and I would ALWAYS find our Christmas presents?  We tore the house apart looking for them. We were such brats.  You were so patient. I remember the year Rick got that robot that had an eight track player in it! What was that thing called????  Do you know what I’m going to miss?  Shopping with you on Christmas eve.  We were so good at that.  And honestly, those Christmas eve’s with you are some of the best memories of my life.  I loved how we sat and drank coffee first.  And we talked about our plan for the day.  And then we would execute the plan flawlessly.  And we laughed so hard our stomachs hurt.  Oh man, I miss you.

Random Thing:

This blog is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read: http://lizgalvao.tumblr.com/post/30461401480/lets-make-fun-of-anthropologie-furniture

Welp, it’s time to get back to my day.  I have a show tonight. And tomorrow night. And then Rick and the kids are coming! I talk about you all the time, dad.  I tell stories about you.  Anytime something happens that reminds me of you, I talk about it.  I swear if I heard your voice right now, I’d sleep like a baby again…..

I love you, dad.

 

 

On all the Firsts…….

Good Morning, Dad!

Wellll, I returned from Europe six days ago and and leaving for another tour in about an hour.  I’ve been wanting to write to you for such a long time, but things have just been too busy.  But, oh my, you have been on my mind.

You know what?  Everyone keeps telling me about how hard the “firsts” are going to be, and, well, they’re RIGHT.  SO HARD.  I celebrated my birthday, and it was absolutely bitter sweet.  I mean, Danny took me for a beautiful adventure through the countryside of England…..what’s better than that?!?!?  You know what’s better?  Having Danny take me on that adventure AND hearing your voice sing me happy birthday, and getting a card in the mail from you that I know you took hours to pick out, and telling me how proud of me you are.  I guess I realized I no longer have that person that is ridiculously proud of me!  Only dad’s can be that proud. Plus, what’s a birthday without a dad?  Still a birthday, I know.  But it’s just not the same.  Nothing is ever the same.  But I really did think of you a lot.  And cried a lot.  And just let myself feel a little shitty, while at the same time laughing and celebrating with Danny.  It was a great day, and to be honest, it feels good to get these “firsts” over with.  Here’s a picture of how excited I was to visit this awesome castle:

Carrie on her birthday!
Carrie on her birthday!

And then there was yesterday.  Our one year wedding anniversary.  Let me just say, it was a fantastic day.  We had beautiful community time with our most amazing friends, went swimming, ate green chile stew and a bunch of other celebratory food, etc…On a side note, did you hear me?  We’ve been married ONE YEAR!!!!  In celebration of our paper anniversary, Danny and I attempted to make each other origami figures and failed at it, and then opened the special wedding box.  This box consists of a bunch of pieces of paper with everyone’s name that attended our special day.  Along with their name, it said how that person knows us.  All of those pieces of paper were strung up around our Huppah.  It brought such a sense of connectedness to our wedding day.  So we took all those papers down and put them in a box to open on our anniversary.  That’s what we did last night.  And it was AMAZING!  We loved it.  And then I got to the card that said,”Rich Elkin. Carrie’s Dad.”  Oh boy, dad.  Oh boy.  It took it out of me.  I am so thankful you were with us on our wedding day.  I’m so thankful you walked me down the isle.  I’m so thankful we got to dance and laugh and be silly.

Our paper anniversary
Our paper anniversary

*ON GRIEF*

Hmmmmm…..I think I put most everything that’s been going on in the above couple paragraphs.   I’ve been thinking a lot though, about how, since you died, I am so much more aware that I’m only a visitor to this planet.  And I love that feeling, actually.  It makes me live better.  It makes me live more presently and with more awareness.  I feel more connected.  I feel a deeper sense of purpose.  AND, I’m understanding that grief doesn’t only happen when someone dies.  Grief is all around us, in all different sorts of situations, but I think we sometimes forget that.  My friend is about to have a double mastectomy and I keep thinking about the grieving involved in such a thing.  Something so personal.  Something so about being a woman.  Wow.  I mean, really.  It just gets me thinking about it all.  About the loss of  relationships, about moving, about losing a job, about all the fertility stuff……it’s just crazy to think about how resilient we all are, right?  GO US!!!!!  WE ARE SO COOL!!!!!!! (we need to remind ourselves though).  OMG, dad, did you just LOVE that pep talk?  You TOTALLY would have given the same talk to me!

*ON TOURING*

Oh man, our European tour was so beautiful.  The shows, the countryside, our time together.  Danny is a beautiful soul and he played beautiful shows and there’s no better word than beautiful to describe everything I just described.  And now I’m back to Europe with Sam Baker…..TODAY!  I’m leaving TODAY!  AND, guess what? Mom’s coming with us.  How fun is that going to be?  We’ll be in the Netherlands for one week and England for a week.  Another thing you taught me……don’t wait to do shit……just do it.  So mom’s coming. YES!

Well, this is all I have time for.  I could write to you for hours…..

I miss you, dad.  So much.  That’s all there is to it.

Here’s some awesome tour photos…..

Danny on his birthday
Danny on his birthday

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Baby Quilts and planning your celebration of life……

Good morning, dad!

I find myself writing to you in my darkest moments.  The moments that make no sense.  The moments I can’t stop crying. And really, I feel broken.  I’m waiting for the void to be filled up with all the wisdom you passed along, but right now, it’s just stocked full of tears. I am officially sad. There’s no other way to put it. I’m sure writing your celebration of life ceremony isn’t helping.  And you know what the hardest part is?  I keep wanting to call and ask you what I should say.  It’s so difficult to put you into words, because I’m not sure words exist to describe the amount of joy and goodness you added to the world.  So I’m stuck.  I keep meditating on it and I keep finding pennies on the ground…..so I know you’re with me through this.

SO, I’m going to reach out on this blog and ask folks for their help in writing your ceremony.  If anyone has suggested poems, for instance.  Or even a reading from the scripture (as long is it’s not too Jesusee……you asked that this shindig not be religious)….I’d love suggestions and thoughts from the folks reading this blog.  Please feel free to message me or even comment.  Your comments might help someone else at some point, too.  And that takes me to my next thought.

As I was cutting the fabric to make two baby quilts late last week, I got the call from the fertility clinic letting me know we’re not pregnant anymore.  So there’s that.  The quilts are gifts, so I wasn’t jumping the gun or anything.  I’ve learned my lesson on that front.  But it got me thinking about a lot of stuff……like WTF is going on?!?!?!?!  Did I do something bad when I was young and it’s coming back to me now?  Did I do something bad in a past life?????  Why is 2015 proving to be such a shit show? And I realized the reason for all of this.  And I believe it’s the reason for all bad things happening.  I am becoming a better person.  I am more empathetic.  I can help people more than I could before. I’m a better listener.  I don’t always know what to say, but all of these things that are happening make me so much more present.  I swear I can hear every heartbeat right now. It’s nearly unbearable, but it’s also making me stronger and more connected to the universe in a way I didn’t even think was possible.  And I’m looking forward to the day when things quiet down a bit.  But now is the time to embrace all of this with openness and pureness.  And once again, you continue to teach me, dad.  And what a beautiful gift that is.  What a beautiful gift life is.

In a nut shell, here’s the scoop:

  1. I’m writing your celebration of life ceremony and would love to hear from the folks reading this blog to help me with poems, scripture, stories about you, etc…
  2. We had another failure on the fertility front and it sucks.
  3. I’m making baby quilts for my awesome friends that are having babies.
  4. You continue to teach me so many things, dad,  and I’m thankful.
  5. AND, danny and I got a new mattress and I love it and I still don’t sleep, but I still love it (that’s just a side note….I didn’t mention that in the body of this message, but it’s a nice thing to celebrate!)

It’s been about six weeks since you passed. You already know that, of course.  I keep trying to not keep track of that part of things.  It doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been gone, I guess.  The fact is, you’re gone and I miss you and I will always miss you and I’m so sorry you got sick, dad.

I love you.

c

p.s. Thank you for always letting me scream madonna songs at the top of my lungs.  And not just me, actually.  Thank you for letting me and all my best friends scream songs at the top of our lungs.  I wouldn’t be a singer had you not allowed that.  And my friends wouldn’t be patient mothers.  So thanks.

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

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!  You would have been 74 today and you would have said,”Isn’t life just GREAT?  I feel younger every year!  Isn’t that great, care?!?!”  I would have laughed and made some comment about how much I love you and how you were going to outlive us all.  I love you, dad. And I’m sorry you didn’t outlive us all.  You deserved to.  Yesterday I was running errands and I picked up my phone to call you.  That’s what I do when I run errands.  I call you.  It’s so strange now.  Everything is strange.  I don’t have an understanding of the world. I miss you. I miss hearing about your bike rides and about how many reps you did at the gym and about who you met that day and about how friendly everyone is in Peachtree City and about how every day is the most beautiful day EVER.  And I miss you stating the facts with no commentary.  Like “wow, there’s a lot of traffic.”  And it would stop there.  You wouldn’t complain about it.  You would just get it off your chest and sit there being all positive.  Thanks for doing that.  I’m really good in traffic because of you.  I’m still working on Danny though…..

I went for a bike ride in your honor today!  My first time ever on a road bike.  Thanks for passing that sweet ass bike onto me (did you noticed how I swore???  I thought that might make you smile).  It’s fast!  I’m now on the hunt for some folks that’ll teach me to ride that thing.

On my bike ride I was thinking about how beautiful it was to take care of you during your final few weeks.  You never complained.  Not one time.  And you ALWAYS thanked me. Even when I sat on the floor crying not knowing what to do to help you.  You said,”I don’t know what I’m doing either.  We’ll work through this together.”   I realized, from this experience, what the definition of GRACE actually is.  Thank you for showing that to me.

Danny took some photos of our final two days together and I’m going to share them with the world if you don’t mind.  I actually know you don’t mind, because I asked you before you died.  They’re difficult for me to look at, but so healing….I’m thankful to have them….

Oh, and your ashes were delivered today.  You knew something big was going to happen on your birthday…..you kept talking about that throughout this process…..now we know what it was all about.

I miss you.  Happy Birthday.  Their are actually still no words…..this is just a bunch of gibberish, it feels like.  But I’m trying, dad.  It’s hard to talk to you sometimes.  I really want to hear your voice…..

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