A Year In The Life...and other news.
A Year In The Life...and other news.
I had a glorious 2 weeks in Memphis recording the new album (working title, "Ready To Rise.")
I never thought I could record and mix a 13 song album of work in 11 days!
That's "record" time, pun intended. :-)
This is what happens when you get into the studio with such incredible musicians whose talents are top notch and egos are left at the door. Plus, working with a great producer who listens objectively and knows how to strike the balance of letting things flow and stopping us from chasing our tails once the magic has happened.
So many times I had to stop and remind myself where I came from and how I started. To have discovered Otis Redding at age 19 and deciding in that moment, because of his performance of, "I've Been Loving You Too Long" at Monterey Pop, to really follow my dream to be a performer only now shaped by wanting to be a performer of his caliber.
Now, here I was in Memphis, where it all began for him, tracking with another musical legend I'd listened to on so many albums as I immersed myself into the Stax and Hi records catalogues, the one and only, Reverend Charles Hodges, the man who literally invented soul organ playing. In between takes Charles often had some beautiful words of wisdom to share.
Imagine an African American man who made music during a time when artists such as he were welcome to entertain all-white audiences, but not allowed to share their schools, hospitals, restaurants, drinking fountains, toilets, etc. A time Memphis poignantly reminds us of with the powerful Civil Rights Museum, where time has been frozen at the Lorraine Motel on that early morning of April 4th when we lost a great peace builder who was beginning to unite people in the name of love.
People like Charles Hodges continue this mission, uniting people in love and music.
Something I've tried to make my mission as well, with every performance.
I'm still marveling at how I'd just play a simple guitar and vocal demo of the song with just Jon Diamond and me and this team of brilliant musicians would scribble notes in real time after one listen and say, "let's cut it." I don't think any song took more than 3 takes to get and most were the first take!
I also felt such a strong sense of the circle of life, love and music completely enveloping me. Here I was in the middle of a dream I'd had for years, tracking songs, several of which are inspired by the unbelievably devastating loss of 3 siblings and both parents in such a short time, yet dancing to play back with my 9 month old baby boy and having these musicians turn my words into joyful melodies and rhythms!
Obviously a huge part of this circle was YOU. All of you who have continued to support my music and my heart. All of you who stepped up and so generously pledged to make this happen.
I decided this album had to be about all of you as well. As I've said in the past, when I write and record a new song, I see so many of your faces and I recall so many of your stories. Trust me when I confide that many of you are in these songs. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me and helping me write the most personal album I've written to date. I am so excited to share these songs with you on the next Ready to Rise Tour 2017-2018.
Now for a HUGE thank you to the incredible musicians who each brought something so unique and meaningful to this project.
The Memphis Team: Kevin Houston (Producer/Engineer), Charles Hodges (Hammond organ), The legendary Steve Potts (Drums) Eric Lewis (Guitar, Pedal Steel, Dobro, Mandolin) Reba Russell and Susan Marshall (Background Vocals), Mark Franklin (Arranger and Saxophone), Kirk Smothers (Trumpet), Felix Hernandez (Congas) Jamie Harmon (Photography), Ward Archer (Studio Owner)
The NYC Team: Glen Patscha (Piano/Wurlitzer), Jack Daley (Bass), Jon Diamond (guitar) and Scott Sharrard & David Gelman for joining Jon and I for a few writing sessions and bringing some great co-writes to some of these songs!
To work with such world class musicians who happen to be such a joy and pleasure to hang out and live with for several days, is just the crazy delicious icing on a big, fat, scrumptious cake!
Now in between some upcoming shows in the US and Europe, we will start the promotion plan and tour strategizing.
Release date is still being determined so please stay tuned!!
Meanwhile, we'll be adding more and more new tunes to my upcoming shows!
As always with so much love and gratitude, let's continue to celebrate love and life together through music!
It has felt so good to be back on tour with my musical brothers and for the first time with my precious boy, Aidan! He's been one happy, playful, smiling and sleeping baby boy just LOVING the attention from my band mates and friends, especially his Uncle Walter! He has infused me with a whole new passion for life and our celebration of it through music.
Our 2 days off were spent in Haarlem (yes my home city in New York is named after this great Dutch city!) and we enjoyed sight seeing and tasting lots of yummy food. Aidan even got a tiny taste of Creme Brûlée a la Flambé! Shhhh.
Thank you Switzerland and (so far) Netherlands for the great, packed and sold out shows and your wonderful reception of me and the new music. Not to mention all the awesome baby gifts! Especially Miffy The Rabbit nightlight and the Fluffy White Cat!
I must say I am having a blast with my baby boy on the road. And he seems pretty damn happy to be here!
Oh and for those wondering about sleep... he's remained on his USA time clock which works great because then I have to only be away from him when I'm on stage! Then after the show we have our bath together and it's bed time! :-). He crashes about an hour before I do giving me time to pack up and organize for the next trek to the next city!
Last night was Arnhem at a great new venue for me called Luxor Live. Beautiful theater & beautiful audience
Tonight was Heerlen...tomorrow Drachten then Breda then Weert!
Hope to see you at all the remaining shows until I head back to NYC!
Love, Love, Love,
Dana & Aidan
Now, it's hard to believe that I'm nearing the one year anniversary of my mother's death and that I've been a mother now myself for 6 months!
Motherhood is by far the most amazing role I've ever taken on. Every day I feel a new appreciation for life as I watch my son reach various milestones. Every day I marvel at the timing of his entrance into my life after so much loss. Every day begins with his smiling and cooing and ends with him fading to sleep in my arms. I count the blessings of each second I have with him. Knowing full well that these moments are fleeting and that I am so very fortunate to have them.
Many are asking if now I'll write "happy baby songs." Ha! Not quite. As many of you know me, my music and my message, you know that I am always compelled to take the darkest parts of our paths with the hope of transforming them into a brighter moment that we can all share together in our "Rock and Roll Church of Love." (Hail Hail Chuck Berry may he rest in peace.)
My mission continues with even more urgency as I observe the world I've brought my dear Aidan into and the man I hope he will become. This is why the upcoming album, Ready To Rise feels like my most important yet. Yes, there are songs on it about the loss of my siblings and parents - I needed to complete that chapter as I begin a new one - but there are also songs about the suffering I see all around us, yet I try to fuse with it the joy of what "us" coming together can do for our hearts and the one big heart of this world. Songs on the new album like, Same Sunlight touch on the very subject of how divided our nation and dare I say, our world, feels right now. Yet, when we see someone on the street suffering and we want to help, do we first ask "what is your religion?" " your sexual preference," "your politics?" I think it's fair to say that most of us do not. We just feel the urge to help ease the suffering of that being. Even if it's a silent prayer we say in passing which the person never knows we say for them. We are all living, dreaming and trying to survive "under the same sunlight." That's the point.
"Orphan" is a song on the album initially inspired by the news footage last autumn of a baby boy being dug from rubble in Aleppo. But it's for orphans all over the world. Some now with bitter hearts who watched their parents die before their eyes in war, some who lost their parents to famine and disease, some who lost their parents due to abject, unnecessary poverty. There's even a song I was once challenged to write about what it must be like for refugees and illegal immigrants risking everything to try their luck in a new world and culture - entitled, "Sad Solution." ALL of this is a jarring reminder of my own unbelievable fortune. A fortune I feel I can never take for granted or else my life and my music will cease to have meaning. As my dear Dutch friend Masja Ottenheim, who works tirelessly serving others, always says, "We have to be better not bitter!"
As always, I feel the need to express my gratitude to all of you who continue to share this journey with me and to those of you just coming on board. My Ready To Rise Tour is NOW and I look forward to celebrating life and love with you all in our sweaty, spitty, screamin', Church of Love!
A very special guest has been added to my NYC shows for March 24 & 25 at the Iridium. Plus, I've added some special cover songs, which I've never done before, after years of being asked... (yes I'm trying to be mysterious!) ;-)
I can't wait to see you all very soon on the path to love and celebration!
Meanwhile, I have 11 days to reach my final goal to fund the recording of my new album in Memphis this coming May. I need you to help me continue to spread love and joy with YOU!
Thank you ALL for your incredible love and support. I AM READY TO RISE & ROCK YOUR SOULS!
As most of you know, it’s been another year of big life changes. The sudden and unexpected loss of another family member, my precious mother, followed months later by the birth of my son Aidan, also unexpected. The wheel of life most certainly has its way of balancing things out.
It seems every album I’ve made has been dedicated to a dearly departed member of my immediate family. And while this next one will again include the dedication for a third sibling and both parents, all within the past 2 years, it will also be a dedication to new life. Of course, that inspiration comes from the little fire of life I was recently blessed with, but also from the pact I’ve made with all of you since I began this journey and began saying at every show, ‘we are in this boat called life together, and we have to celebrate this life right now, with each other in this moment.’ That remains my ongoing inspiration. People will come and go in our lives but when we are in a moment together, that is living life in the here and now. Something you have all done with me every step of the way. My gratitude can’t possibly be fully conveyed by typed words on a page.
Now, I’m taking on an entirely new and scary challenge. Something I’ve never done on such a big level. (My friends and family can attest). I’m asking you guys to help me keep our Church of Love and Life going in a way that I can sustain. No, I’m not asking for handouts. That’s never been my style! I’ve always been more comfortable being the giver in any relationship. Not a boastful statement, but in all honestly, I think I preferred the control of that dynamic over the intimacy that comes with receiving…the fear that comes with testing my own self worth. So, I speak not with any noble morality when I say that I prefer to give rather than receive, remaining safely distant from the intimacy of asking for help, always believing I had to do it all on my own. You guys have shown me in so many ways that this is not at all the case. Evidenced by the first card for the loss of my oldest brother 5 years ago, signed by loving, caring people whom I didn’t even know. You made my mother weep with that one. The pilgrimages you made to shows to support me after each family loss along with all of your thoughtful cards and letters. Right down to the baby clothes I still marvel at from this past year! I have often sat and just wondered to myself, “wow, do I really mean that much to these people? Am I giving enough to deserve this?” It’s a constant and humbling thought I have.
Now, as a touring and performing artist, I have to finally accept that I can’t get by at all without a little help from my friends! I can’t sustain the costs of touring for extended periods of time, doing show after show to keep my musicians gainfully employed, keeping us all healthy by getting us at least a decent bed to sleep in while traveling extensively, often on little or no sleep. By decent, I mean a 2 star hotel, just a bed and shower, preferably with no vermin. :-) I’ve upped the show by adding keyboards because you asked! I’ve upped the show by having my own sound tech because as Warren Haynes once said to me, “A sound man can make or break your career.” Here’s an example, one time I did a show in Europe where I was in the best voice I’d been in a while. Fully rested and my pipes were raring to go! I was new at the whole touring game and while I had to struggle to hear myself on stage, through what I later learned were just cheap insufficient monitors, fortunately I had all the energy and power to push through with a full clear voice. However, after the show I did the usual meet and greet and everyone asked if I had a cold and why they couldn’t hear me? I was told that some people were so frustrated they walked out. Aha! Warren was right! I used the house sound guy, whom I’d never met. He later confessed he had no idea what he was doing but talked the club into hiring him because he was a fan. I laughed and hugged him and bought him a beer, but from then on I’ve been determined to bring my own sound tech, which means another flight, another hotel, another person to pay.
Now, here comes the catch 22.
I need you. No, it’s not that I just need bodies to show up so my ego doesn’t tank, so venues will bring me back, and so I can cover my operating costs. Of course, that’s all certainly part of it, but it’s more than that and something I think we all feel, I need to believe what I’m doing actually matters…at least to someone. Then, hell yes I’ll stomp sweat and spit every night sick or not, or even at the usual risk of getting sick! And we will continue to celebrate life and our human connection to one another with a violent passionate fervor! Here’s why and where I need your help.
On a small label, which is where I’ve been for the last few years, it’s virtually impossible to reach all of you. Like Steve and Lisa in Phoenix, AZ who have both been (politely and patiently) begging me to come play that awesome city! Like so many of you who write all the time asking why I don’t play more (or at all!) in your city, etc. It PAINS me to get these notes because there isn’t a city, state or country I wouldn't LOVE to play. Here’s a peak behind the curtain offered without bitterness, only as truth to power.
A small record label (if you’re lucky) gives you barely enough to make the record. In my case, I incurred the cost to make the record out of my own pocket and then sold it to the label, often getting less than half of what it actually cost me to make it. But it was important to me to do it right. I can’t and won’t give you guys any half measures. I can’t deliver if I don’t feel connected. Ok, so then the label says they’ll promote you, and again if you’re lucky, they’ll mail out a bunch of copies of the albums randomly (and often far too late for any real press or promo to be done) and call it a day because they have a bunch of other bands that they’re doing the same thing for and they are usually a small operation. Then once the CD’s are mailed, they’re done with you. But you’re not done with them because they now own your songs and that album for life. When I sell that album from the stage, I first must buy it from the label at a premium and I get a fraction of a penny for every download. Before you know it, they’ve made a tidy living on you but you are struggling to even get to the next show!
And here’s what it takes to get to the next show…
The budgeting starts with flights for the 5 band members and sound tech, then ground transportation and modest accommodations for all. Next, is salary for us all (we don’t just get our clothes from “thrift shops” because they’re cool hahaha). Add in per diem and meals for band and crew. Ok I’ll leave the math to you as I think you get the general idea. It costs thousands of dollars to do a show and most clubs only cover a fraction of that cost. Therefore, we rely on CD sales and the big festivals to cover expenses for doing a club or theater show near you. If you stick with it long enough, by believing in yourself and your fans, then you go from losing money the first couple of years, to breaking even the next few, and then to finally begin seeing small profit. I remember my days of paying to play. That’s the biz and that’s why you need either a big label (which really do not sign many non pop artists) OR you need real fans. What’s a real fan? Someone who buys tickets to your shows and buys your music and spreads the word. Lucky for me, I’ve got people like you. If you’re reading this, then you have been that kind of fan. I actually prefer to say, “friend.” You have been this kind of friend to me, my band and in turn, to my music. You have made me feel that what I’m doing matters.
Now, I’m hoping to do it better! I’m hoping to get to more cities and meet those of you face to face who only know me through YouTube! I’m hoping to keep coming back to those of you who’ve been with me all along and rocking your asses off. I want to come to you and play just for you. In order to do this, I need to make my next album of music so we have new stories to share, and I need to get my band on the necessary planes, trains and automobiles to get to that stage!
Ok, so here’s my “ask”…
I’ve decided I “ain’t to proud to beg, sweet darlin’ please don’t leave me no no no!” (just kidding.) I’m not asking for a handout I’m simply asking for the same deal I’ve always asked for as I hit the stage, I’ll give you all my heart and soul, just give me some of yours back.
That said, I’ve decided to take the leap and do a PledgeMusic Campaign. Something I could never imagine doing a few years ago. Well, you know the old adage, ‘never say never.’ But it no longer makes sense to keep hitting the same brick walls. To be hidden in the shadows because we can’t afford to get out there to more and more people. Because we don’t have the money to hire a publicist to make more people aware of the shows we do. To keep offending so many of you who think I just choose to NOT play your hometown or state! So, I decided to do what many respectable contemporary artists whom I look up to are doing. In this day and age, we are so lucky that we don’t have to wait for the man in the suit to validate our worth and decide whether or not our music gets heard. If you want me and I am willing to fight to get to you, then it’s entirely in OUR control. And this is where it gets fun…
Like I said, no “hand outs” involved here, unless you insist. ;-) Rather, I want to do a creative and fun exchange with you that will help me give you all I’ve got to offer in exchange for you helping me fund the next album, promotion and tour! I don’t expect any charity here y’all so I’ve come up with some wacky and never before offered ideas, such as…
Hosting you at a dinner party and hootenanny (look that word up!) in my Harlem crib. Coming to your living room to play for you and your friends. Giving you a tour of my fave spots in NYC. Having you join us in the studio while we make the album and have some drinks and food with us. Hanging with the band for some fun after parties at certain shows and festivals. I will be offering up some personal and one-of-a-kind items from my journey in music, theater and movies. There will be a very special one of a kind show and there will be a lot more to offer at PledgeMusic with more to be added along the way, too! The goal is for us to be having fun every step of the way in this process together. I’ll even write a song for you or someone you love for the next album, if you’re the first to grab that limited time option. These are just a few fun ideas my team and I have put together so dive in at Pledge Music and see for yourself!
All that aside, please know that I know I already get so much from you. I even get my song inspirations from you. Like when you tell me your stories after shows or write to me. Like when I’m working out a new tune and I’m actually imagining performing it for you and telling you my story at the next show. That’s my songwriting inspiration. In fact, it’s because of all of you that for this new album, I’ve finally been able to write a song about my father and his complex tortured soul. I’ve written a song about giving birth to my son after so much loss, (including the loss of previous pregnancies that had me devastated) and a song about what it was like to finally be able to give my mother a grandchild only to lose her before he could arrive. I think about how I need to express these stories and in my mind I see your faces in the audience ready to share them with me and it makes the lyrics just flow out. YOU guys are my truest inspiration. But, I digress…
Now back to the hard part. If none of the things I have to offer in my PledgeMusic Campaign speak to you, but you do want to at least have my new album, then all you have to do is simply pre-order it! That alone will cover a portion of the cost of making the record. The rest we’ll figure out later once it’s done.
Ok there, I’ve done it! Ouch! This wasn’t easy for me to write. But I will tell you now that as I wrote the part above about my songwriting inspiration being from you guys, it truly brought me to tears. Tears of gratitude and deep reflection on these past few years with all of you and our lives so intertwined.
Much Love and may this Holiday Season be one of Peace, Love and Joy for All of You.
We have so much to be thankful for.
I’ll close by saying thank you for selling out my first postpartum show this Friday at the Rubin Museum. I’ll be debuting a few of the new tunes, mentioned above and one that we just finished yesterday entitled “Orphan.” Having this precious baby that needs so much love and care has been a stark reminder of so many children all over the world whose parents are ripped away from them, especially in these sad, violent times of war.
So, please send your prayers of love to all the “orphans” out there both young and old and let’s keep fighting against a divided world and continue to RISE UP against hatred, discrimination, greed and violence.
I’m READY TO RISE y’all…on every level. Are you with me?
Love, Love, Love and Then Some,
ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF AIDAN’S 3rd WEEK IN THE WORLD, I'VE DECIDED TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL THE GLORIOUS BUT GORY DETAILS…
I’ll admit I found myself feeling maybe a bit too proud of having such an easy, healthy pregnancy. I had no morning sickness and no exhaustion during any of it. I was exercising daily, touring and performing up until my 9th month and bicycling through the crazy streets of Manhattan from Harlem all the way downtown each week. Cycling was my best source of transport because the only truly unbearable options were the summer stench-oven of the subway platform and being smushed in like cattle in the crowded subway cars, or riding in a taxi with the requisite herky-jerky, Tasmanian Devil driving...
Thank you with all my heart to the people of Finland, Italy, Switzerland and France for a great last pre-baby European Tour! It has been so wonderful to see many of my now, long time friends traveling from all over Europe to join me.
t's also been great to rock out with Jon, Walter & Piero again, as well bringing some new blood to the stage, like Nicola Venturiniand Marco Galiero.After a couple of great days off at the lake and zoo in Zurich, CH, I made a quick stop in the gorgeous, medieval city of Avignon, FR, Then I took a little vacation, aka Babymoon, back in Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea near Piero Perelli's home town of Lucca! Me and the boys ended our stay in Italy on July 5th, with a homemade pizza party courtesy of Papa Perelli, followed by a full band jam at The Perelli's beautiful, Tuscan home!
Next, I headed to Ekenäs, Finland where I just did a live appearance on Radio Nostalgia in Helsinki. I'm doing more press Friday and then we will rock our last European show atBossaNova Blues and Rock Festival on Saturday July 9th.
My welcome back to gorgeous Finland was a gourmet dinner prepared by our host and festival organizer, Chef Kristian Karnell at his impeccable lakeside restaurant, Bossa Nova, with his wife Sara and father Kurt joining us. Kristian's theme for the fest is, "no junk food" and they're setting up champagne and wine tents!
Lastly, I'm headed back home to the USA for the final state-side shows before Mama-hood!
I'm so sorry that I had to let go of the August dates but it was doctor's orders not to be performing away from home just two weeks before my due date! I guess I was being overly ambitious and it certainly didn't help my case that the doctor watched my videos on YouTube ;-)
It's been almost surreal to travel through Europe for another summer, something I've done now every year since 2009, but this time with the company of my unborn baby boy, who's growing in me rapidly and kicking up a storm.
Knowing he's with me has been quite comforting on this tour, especially the late nights alone where I lie awake from jet-lag missing my recently departed mother, father and brothers so profoundly. Especially my mother. It's so strange not to share all of my travel details with her and not to be sending her photos on this tour.
But now, I imagine someday, I'll get to share these experiences with my child. I'm already starting to see the world a bit differently as I project it through his future perspective and his experiences yet to come. Such feelings of wonder, fear, beauty, excitement and at times sadness, all crowd my heart. How interesting that this myriad of feelings all culminate into a sort of peaceful calm which I haven't quite known before. Likely, because I have no idea what the near or distant future holds. Actually, I never did, it's just now even more apparent that I have no control and no clue...what a relief! :-)
Thank you all for helping me keep my chin up and my heart open through such a bizarre journey of love, loss and life. A journey we all take. How wonderful to take it together with you.
'm forever grateful and my heart is deeply moved by the notion of sharing with my son the stories of my great journey with all of you. Most definitely to be continued...
Now time for Chapter Two.
Love, Joy and Immense Gratitude,
Electric word life , that means forever - and that’s a mighty long time. But I’m here to tell you..there’s something else..." Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)
A BABY! That’s right I’m taking time off for “life,” not as in forever, but as in a baby boy, whom I’ll be bringing into this world come September.
As many of you know, over the past 5 years I’ve been forced to cancel a lot of shows due to a series off losses that began years ago with my sister Donna and subsequently back to back deaths of my brother Don, followed by my father, followed by my brother Dan and just last month, my beloved mother. So here I am just losing a mother while becoming one. So deeply strange and beautiful.
I’m as shocked as probably some of you are. By now, I sort of figured I’d live a life without children and was feeling OK with that. Yet, as death came knocking again too soon for another dear loved one, life too, was fighting to prevail. To be honest, my first thought was “what awful timing” until my dear Italian friend and agent Luisa Parelli so beautifully wrote to me, “You could do nothing better than life to battle death, and having a kid is simply finding one of the reasons we come to this world which is not so clear often!!!!!” (Thanks for that Luisa).
That said, I’m absolutely terrified and now even more ready to come see so many of my dear friends and homes all over the world one more time before “the end of the world as I know it!” So, as I list the last shows of the year below, please consider coming to bless this new little life that’s tagging along in my belly, and to celebrate ALL LIFE, past, present and future together in our Rock and Roll Church of Love.
Fear not, I plan to spend the most likely sleepless, downtime this autumn and winter making a new body of music that’s been brewing in me all year. Then, I plan to bring this wee one all over the world (within healthy reason of course) to see the many beautiful places and meet the many incredible people I’ve been so very fortunate to have encountered.
Until then, I’ll look forward to seeing you all this June, July and August. My dear friend and clothing designer, Gayatri Jolly is making my big-belly shirts right now, while still devoting her time to the women in the slums of India teaching them to sew and be self-sufficient.
(What a Goddess!)
Thank you all for allowing me to share yet another of life’s twists & turns through sadness and joy with you.
I look forward to seeing you soon starting in the USA next weekend and then back to Europe starting with a “home” I haven’t been to in a while, which was my very first foreign country to ever visit and will now officially be the first foreign country for my baby boy, ITALY!!!
So here’s where to find me, Y’all…..I sure hope you will.
First, I want to thank all of you for the incredibly inspiring, loving and comforting notes and posts with your condolences. I wanted to wait to post again until I’d read every last one of them. What struck me most is how many of you have also been down the road of such loss and grief. It was so connective and healing to read of your experiences and I'm beyond grateful to you all for sharing. There’s a Buddhist meditation called, “Taking and Giving,” where we take the pain we are experiencing and we imagine the countless other beings going through a similar pain and situation, thereby taking on their suffering, and imagining that we are emitting back waves of love and compassion to them. It’s so powerful to connect in this way, much the same as the posts from those of you who had gone through the loss of a mother. I was able to focus on love and compassion for us all rather than the grief of just my own loss. That is what comforts me to sleep every night.
Today is my mother’s birthday and I was supposed to be in Florida celebrating her life with family. Instead, I flew down weeks ago last minute and spent the last 11 days of her life next to her in the intensive care unit. We still shared stories, meals, tears and laughter. However, I never guessed “this was it." We never do, for ourselves or our loved ones. One of the things she said to me in the hospital laughing was, "Never buy green bananas.”
I knew exactly what she meant, yet I was still determined to throw her that birthday party, determined to get her home, where she was so determined to be. Her sheer will had her up and walking to show the doctors she was ready, just hours before she left us.
I often say on stage that home is where the heart truly is. By that, I mean it’s about bringing our heart to every person, place and situation we encounter. Well, the days following my mom’s passing we spent cleaning out her home, the home she raised her six children in. The home she was so determined to get back to. The home that had, stashed in every drawer and closet, every card her children ever sent or made, every school art project, every award. Seeing it so empty without a visible trace of those years certainly took a huge piece of my heart, that will remain there frozen in a time of the past, before life’s tragedies stepped in claiming her eldest daughter, her two eldest sons and the only love of her life for 60 years, my father. The home that will someday have the life of another family and their story imprinting itself upon those walls.
Now my mother’s home is in my heart forever. On some level, I feel that she’s able to be with me even more than her physical restrictions would ever allow these past few years. I try to take comfort in that. In fact, when I finally came home after the longest few weeks of my life, I stepped into my NYC apt and gave her a tour, even officially introducing her to my kitties whom she always loved hearing about and seeing in the pictures I shared. (Of course they all just looked at me puzzled, meowing for their tin of Fancy Feast to be opened.)
To sum it all up, my mother was by far the most selfless person I’ve ever known. Sometimes to a fault, but never selfishly selfless, just selfless. I will be forever grateful to her for the the endless memories of late night talks, Scrabble games, movie dates, roller skating dates, baking lessons, patching my clothes, making ridiculous punk rock outfits for me, all the creative made-up children’s stories, (which she later wrote down and I just found) and of course, her unconditional love and support. The kind only a mother can really give.
My mother had nothing “valuable” per se in the house, so my brothers and I each took keepsakes. For me, it was her teenage diary, love letters to my father, photos of her youth and this wacky rocking chair that she rocked all of her six children in, with me being the last. :-) I also kept her wedding band, which she gave to me in the hospital as her fingers began to swell with fluid. I immediately put it on the chain next to the heart she had given me for my birthday this year. Now, a symbol to me that our hearts are locked together in all eternity for countless lifetimes to come.
I thank you all for allowing me to share this unbelievable life journey with you and for sharing yours with me.
While I’ve lately felt it seems impossible to ever get on stage again, I also know that this is who I am and what I do, and exactly what my mother would expect of me. She so loved hearing my stories of travel throughout the world and even met some of you who made a pilgrimage to meet her in person, (from as far away as Germany) and those of you who became pen pals. It was such an honor to share this part of my life with her.
She was proud of me and all of you are a huge part of my mother’s pride. What a gift you are.
So today, I still grieve, but I also feel so much gratitude. I will look forward to resuming my show commitments starting in late May, after some much needed quiet time. I will look forward to connecting our hearts ever more deeply as I see you and bring my mother to finally meet you.
Of course, we never really know who of us will actually be here by then or even for another day, so let’s be sure to remember that with everyone we encounter, especially our loved ones.
And by the way, I've never had the patience to buy green bananas anyway. ;-)
With My Most Committed and Connected Heart of Love,