On the Tip of my Tongue

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So, the mad compulsion to blog has lifted; I’m not feeling any desire to post everyday. Other obsessions linger, one being this matter of divesting myself of the American accent.

Some may criticise me in this endeavour. Those are people who identify me as American. But, that is not my identity.

True identity is a spiritual thing having nothing to do with where a person is born or grew up; the soul has no nationality. Therefore, I feel no loyalty to my native accent and I wish, as someone who makes much of tune and tone, to replace it with what I know to be more aesthetic to the ear.

Thus, I’m training my tongue with proper elocution exercises. And, I’m finding it a strenuous workout indeed.

When I told my husband about how these exercises strengthen the tongue, he remarked that, perhaps, he ought to try them, too. He said it with a sly grin – the perv (and, I love him for it) – and I mentioned something about the “cunning linguist” and we both dissolved into laughter.

Ouch. My tongue hurts. This certainly isn’t for the faint of heart…or mouth, as the case may be. But, my determination persists. I must make my tongue know what my ear understands, and I must make my ear all the more sensitive.

To do this, I am talking to myself… I mean more so than usual. Practising. My social anxiety presents a serious obstacle to my endeavour…it all tends to fall apart when I go out my door and I am immediately put under pressure. My speech just starts to sound better…and, then, damn it, I have to talk to someone! Irony, anyone?

I suppose, the thing is, I hate labels and boxes and typecasting. Someone hears an American accent here, and suddenly there’s the box, the confinement. I’d like them to see me before there is a judgment made that doesn’t apply to me but will be attributed to me nonetheless simply because humans are too stupid to look past something so superficial.

Elocution used to be taught in schools. There used to be a standard. Now, well…I suppose one might say that standard is just another box. But, I won’t play devil’s advocate here on my own blog. Here, this one place where I have my say. But, at the very least, I don’t think a desire to improve one’s speech (whatever the reason) could be considered, in any way, a negative thing.

The aim is merely to improve. Perfection is not in my reach. As I say, practice may NEVER make perfect, but it CAN make BETTER.

Better. I’m not getting any. I mean with the health issues. But, this – the accent thing – is something for me to focus on. I know, I know. Right now, it isn’t a focus, it’s an obsession, a compulsion…a madness. I’m mad.

Yes, I’m mad. I’m not even allowed to be eccentric. Because, you have to have money in order to be eccentric. I know what I am: ill. But, surely a sick person with a lovely accent is better than just a sick person.

So, until this present obsession lifts (i.e. I get too frustrated with myself for continual failure), or I get my lyre harp (the other great obsessive craving of right now), I will work on this project of ridding myself of the American accent for which I have developed such a personal distaste… and, it would seem, my tongue’s going to ache. And, hopefully, at some point, others in the outside world will be able to hear all the hard work. I can, you know, only hope.

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A Sky Full of Music

Turn up your volume, please.

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I could write, and tell you how I’m feeling. Blog it all out. I have so many, many things to say – stories to tell, experience to share. Stuff and more stuff. Aging superhero (aka musician), strugging with life, illness, trying to cope, trying to cultivate awareness (living present in the moment), trying…failing…trying…  or, I could do what I do and just give you this. Because, right now, this here says it all, and it is how I say it best. Always.

Close your eyes and, then, you’ll be able to see…

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In an interview when Adele was asked about her weight, she replied with:

“I don’t make music for eyes, I make music for ears.”

Amen, Sister. Exactamundo! That’s how I feel about it, too.

I am not here to look at, I am here to listen to.

Music is for listening to. The package it comes in shouldn’t matter in the least.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, appreciation of music is, thankfully, not only above, but also far beyond, the visual and the physical. Taste in music should never be influenced by personal taste in physical appearance. Music is spiritual in nature (at its core).

Close your eyes and, then, you will be able to see it.

“Well, Autumn”, you quip, “why then bother to make videos for your songs if you aren’t interested in engaging the visual?”

I never said that I wasn’t interested in engaging the visual: video can help to illustrate a song. But, I believe a good song (delivered by a good artist) doesn’t NEED a video to explain it. It should be able to tell its own story without the use of any pictures accept for the ones it inspires in the imagination of the listener. Video can be a good tool to help tell the story, but it shouldn’t be relied on soley to sell a song. And, it shouldn’t be used to show off the looks of the singer. If you just want to show off your politically correct body, become a model.

Music (and making music) is more important than the physical.

It is (so much) deeper.

So, good for Adele. What she said. Although, I would go just a bit further and say this:

I don’t make music for the eyes; I make music for the ears and for the heart.

I still have HOPE and a PROMISE

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Last week I made the very hard decision to go back on medication for depression. This was not an easy thing for me to do, because I so detest the side-effects of antidepressants. But, the time had come to either do something or to go to bed and never get back out of it.

Since we cannot afford for me to have a stint in the hospital or for me just to go to bed (we can’t afford for my husband to stay home from work to take the kids to/from school, or to come home from work every single time I have a breakdown and am crying hysterically down the phone), it was necessary to do something.

So, yesterday, I bit the bullet and went to the doctor. I was officially diagnosed with severe depresion (scoring a 24 out of a possible 27 – the higher the score the more severely depressed you are) and was given the prescription.

My attitude to it is this: I know how I am supposed to think, I know what and how I am supposed to think, but my brain will not work that way; it needs some serious help. This is the first step to getting better; this will open the door for me to be able to make myself think the way I should think. This is the first step – on  a journey – to better days.

Yesterday morning, in my quiet time before getting out of bed, I felt God give me this verse of scripture:

Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.Zechariah 9:12 NLT

I am a prisoner of depression. But, I still have hope, and I have God’s Word; His promise of blessing.

No, I’m not happy that I’m on an antidepressant that I know, while it’s helping, will affect me in ways I do NOT want to be affected.  But, I have hope of deliverance, from both the depression and, eventually, the crappy side-effects of the medication I have to take in order for me to cope with my every day life.

Hope is not synonymous with wishing. Real hope is not the same thing as wishful thinking. The difference between hope and wishing is as much as the difference between a dream and a fantasy: the former is inherant with power and possiblility while the latter is just smoke and sandcastles.

I still have hope. And, I have a promise which keeps that hope breathing.

A Private Audience

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This afternoon I sat down at the piano and played and sung some of my songs, for myself.

Not rehearsing. Not working on new arrangements. Just enjoying the music, the lyrics and – yes, I’ll say it – the sound of my own voice.

Now, performing for a crowd is one of the biggest delights in my existence. When I’m not doing it on a regular basis, it isn’t long before I feel a piece is missing; I appreciate every opportunity I am given to do what I love doing. It’s more than “entertaining”. While I believe that the songs I write and I sing in my shows are good and that my voice is unique, powerful and moving, I don’t know if, honestly, “entertaining” is the right word. I kind of think if I’ve merely entertained an audience, I haven’t succeeded in what I’ve come to do. Not that there is anything wrong with entertainment…it’s just that music is soooo much MORE than that. Or, it can be so much more than that (because music is spiritual in nature). However, if someone has come for nothing more than to be entertained – and that is all they receive – so be it; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed (at least, I hope not), but I always endeavour there to be more there…to touch deeper, to go further, to leave fingerprints on the fabric of the soul which is beyond the ability of entertainment alone. And, when I listen to music or go to a concert, I am always personally disappointed if all that happened was that I was entertained.

So, today, it wasn’t about a little distraction (escape) from the relentless frustration of my (crappy) day, to come aside and amuse myself for a bit. It might have started that way, but it ended with feeding my soul and lifting it above the muck and mire (that’s the real power of music). These are songs with substance. Some are sad. Some are hopeful and comforting and encouraging. Some are prayer. All are honest expression. And, as I sat and played out the sorrows of the day, I was both performer and audience – and it was nothing so small as entertainment: this was important; this was therapy.