a cancellation and rescheduling

Today I wrestled with my fragility.

I like to think of my body as unstoppable.

But the long drives of my touring are taking a toll on me.

I had a hard time with my right leg on the last tour and again, when we drove the twelve hour circuit from Minneapolis to Lake Vermilion and back, I really felt it. 

My right leg just doesn't have good circulation, or I have an actual blood clot, but let's hope not, and I'm doing all the things you're supposed to do if it is anyway.

I went to my doctor of twenty-five years about a week ago and she thought it was circulation and strain but not an actual clot.

I don't know.

I don't want to go to the emergency room and get put through a lot of testing.

So, I'm hoping it gets better instead of worse, which it's maybe doing but I'm not sure.

Anyway, the eight hours to southern Chicago and back over a three day period was not going to help.

Plane tickets were over $200 and I'd have to rent a car once I got there.

The show pay wouldn't cover all that.

Hmmmmm......Chicago just has to wait.

When I booked this show I had a different idea, I thought maybe I'd make a tour through the Midwest out of it, but that ended up just not coming together. Sometimes things don't flesh out the way I hope they will. I ended up with one show and an invitation to stop in at the nearby bookstore, but none of it was solid enough to warrant the trip, the expense, the risk to my health.

I cancelled the show and politely declined the nice bookstore invitation.

I really really want to get back to them and make it right, hopefully in October.

I am blindly feeling my way, being kind, humbled automatically by my own limitations and by the kindness and understanding of others.

I want to do it all and be everywhere for everyone, and I will be.

It just takes time and patience and careful decision making at every turn.

I feel relieved right now that I don't have that huge drive ahead of me next week.

Okay, good enough for now.


Heaven intervened yesterday

Yesterday an unusual thing happened.

I'm going to try to tell you about it.

First thing to say is that I've been meditating on the desire to be of more value and help to others, and I've thought about how I've hurt a lot of people in my life being reckless and selfish. So, that has set the tone for my dealings with others lately, just trying to be kind and humble and helpful.

Yesterday my oldest daughter Nina and I drove all the way to Lake Vermilion to get some footage filmed for my upcoming "Married To Bob" music video.

We left at 7:30am and returned at 7:30pm. It was a long day.

My idea about the video was to stop at the old Sawmill Saloon in Virginia because that place has been around forever and it would make a good up North bar scene, drive from there out to Lake Vermilion, then head to Hibbing to shoot something in front of Bob Dylan's old house or on their main street.

My first idea, to go to the Sawmill Saloon, didn't work at first because we got up there too early and we thought we'd eat our one meal there while we did some footage. So, we decided to come back to the Sawmill after we drove to Lake Vermilion.

Vermilion turned out to be a strange experience.

My Birch Point, where I used to live, has almost no natural shoreline left on the Big Bay side. I never really thought about it before, but looking for a rocky point to stand on as I sing my song with the water at my back was almost impossible. We ended up going to my favorite old place the Birch Point Inn, and I stood crammed between the section they had bulldozed to make room for their dock system and the winch they had pulled up on shore that holds one of their big boats. We got some footage but a couple feet to either side looks like the modern world. You can never go home again.

Okay, so we left Vermilion feeling bitter sweet, and headed back to the Sawmill Saloon thinking it was now a good time to go in there, eat something, have a beer, and get the bar footage we wanted.

It was like 1pm now.

We parked, let our little dog out for a few minutes, and then put him back in the car with the windows down and walked in the bar.

One o'clock on a Tuesday in Virginia on a cold day in May, we figured it'd be pretty empty, but there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, but there were other stores nearby and maybe it was a park and ride sort of spot by the highway or something.

We walked in through the saloon doors and were shocked that the whole place was packed with people and everyone was mingling and talking. There was no where to sit and it was really loud.

We shook our heads and shrugged our shoulders and turned to head back out the door, when we both heard, "Courtney! Courtney!"

My heart sank because I didn't like to be recognized and have to make small talk with someone. I just wanted to keep going out the door, but we both turned and a woman was rushing towards us with her arms wide open.

I stopped, Nina stopped.

We let her come to us and overtake us with her hugs and kisses on our cheeks.

She said, "You must be Nina, you look so much like your mom."

I was realizing it was my sister in law from my first marriage, a woman I hadn't seen in twenty-five years.

I always loved her and her family.

They saved me from myself and the world when I was eighteen, and all through my college years they stood behind me, and when I married their oldest son they were open hearted, open minded.

They knew God damn well that I didn't fit in, but they knew I didn't fit in anywhere.

They truly loved my singing voice when I sang the high harmonies with their boys in their bluegrass band.

Their sons played great music and that had been good enough for me and I sounded great with them and that was good enough for all of them too. Music brought us together, music was the highest thing any of us knew, we all believed that music came from a higher power, we were all on the same page. We were. And I didn't remember that again until yesterday when I was face to face with this loving sister in law who was a nurse, and a simple person, and very kind, and who saw me completely, even yesterday, even after all these years. She even turned to my daughter and made a little joke about how I "never liked to hold babies, never wanted to get dirty" and now here I was with grown kids of my own. I cannot express here how much her seeing me with such love and understanding and kindness meant to me (and yes I had divorced her brother after a very short marriage and broke his heart). 

Okay, but that's not The Story.

The Story is what she said next.

She said, "I thought you would come. This is so wonderful. So how did you find out, then?"

Nina and I looked at each other.

"I mean, how did you find out about Matt?"

Nina and I looked at each other.

My mind was racing....she had a first baby back when I knew her...maybe his name was Matt.

I was stumbling over words saying, "No, Dawn, I mean, we just stopped in here to shoot our video..."

She kept saying, "We thought maybe he was friends with you on facebook..."

Then she said, "It's so weird because I was on the phone with my brother the night he fell, he fell right out in the living room, but we were just talking about you when it happened, right then we were trying to figure out if he knew you on facebook, and then I heard him fall and I hung up....and that's when it happened."

Now I am putting my hands on her shoulders and she is looking me straight in the face and I'm saying, "Dawn, we don't know what you're talking about. What has happened? I don't know anything about this."

She looks at me, and finally realizing, she says, "You don't know that Matty died?"

By now I know for pretty well certain in my mind that she had a son who was born with some brain problems and who had seizures and other symptoms, disabling him in many ways. This first born child was named Matthew I was pretty sure.

She says that last Monday, a week ago, Matty had fallen in her living room, had his last fateful seizure and died from it. She said that no one was thinking he would die any time soon.

She said that the bar was packed with her friends and relatives all gathered there to support her in Matt's sudden departure from this world. It was The Wake for all practical purposes.

She said, "I was expecting you'd come. And when you walked in the door I knew it was you right away."

She was expecting I'd come.

Nina said to me later, "She called out your name like she had been expecting you and was just acting like...hey you made it...I'm over here."

Nina and Dawn and I all stood in humbled awe to the Glory of the Lord. Or the Hand of Fate. Or Karma or coincidence or whatever you want to call it.

I had not set foot in that bar in over thirty years.

Not once.

I was at her first baby shower.

I was there when she brought that baby home from the hospital.

And I was there yesterday when she gathered people together to mourn his loss and celebrate his life.

And I didn't even try.

I cannot tell you what a gift this has been to me.

I truly believe I was a gift to her too.

One of the last things she said to me, she was very happy that I was "still singing".

She looked right into my eyes and asked me, "Do you enjoy the fame?"

She said it in a very tender sincere way.

I smiled, amused, and answered, "Yes, I do. I even hope there's more to come."

She just shook her head, still smiling.

"This is what you always wanted."

Nina and I left the bar, because, on top of all of that, they had completely remodeled the inside and all the old stuff was gone anyway, so there was no filming and the place was packed so there was no eating lunch either.

But as we left, and still this morning, I have this enormous sense that I am the exact same girl she met when I was turning eighteen on Lake Vermilion. A fugitive, a singular individual. Simple and shining with one simple dream to stand with my guitar and sing for the people. All along. All these years. All these strange trials and tribulations. Always the same.

I am so grateful for my sense today that the trail has been broken and stumbling and looping back and broken again, and yet in another way, it has been straight as an arrow all along.

Stand and deliver. I shall sing.

The rest of the trip, Nina and I were in a daze.

We ended up having a GREAT walleye sandwich at the nearby Adventurer's Pub, but couldn't film there because it was too new inside.

We drove all the way out to Hibbing only to drive around looking at Bob Dylan's childhood home and saying "this just doesn't have anything to do with this song."

So, in the end, we drove the long way home, out of Hibbing, and got home by 7:30pm, like I said.

Twelve hours on the road, some good footage, a tired little doggie, a stalwart daughter with pink hair making us both herbal tea when we got back to Rob's cozy little house.

Summon the currents of the unseen.

Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you.

And be unafraid to look into the face of God.

Yesterday on Lake Vermilion, guitar in hand.

filming up north

This morning Miss Nina Louisa and I are heading due North!

My hoarseness from being sick is getting better, not 100%, but you don't have to sing when it's a music video for a prerecorded track.

It's a good day to do it, we figured, because it's overcast across the state of Minnesota and the song is an overcast sort of number.

The song, officially known as "Gone Away (Married To Bob Dylan)" tells the tale of my Northern adventure as a teenager.

If you want another take on that story, you can read my "Sidney" novel. There's a link to that on the home page of this website.

This song was written for my very first ever album project when I was just over forty years old.

Making my first album in my forties gave me a little bit of perspective on all that had transpired in my family, but really, I was like a seventeen year old still in many ways.

I think my experiences had cut me off from maturing into a well adjusted human.

Sometimes when I'm talking to my children I make a strange Freudian slip and say, "when we were little" or "when we were growing up".

I make that strange error a lot.

We all laugh about it because my kids know that I attempted to reparent myself with their help.

I bought all the modeling clay and the gardening tools and the children's books that I never had, and we gathered around and read out loud and acted stuff out and made stuff and went places and did everything I had never done before.

When I wrote my first songs they were all about trees and woods and going to Lake Vermilion.

When I wrote in my forties, the songs were about heartache and redemption, and getting back to Lake Vermilion.

We're going to Lake Vermilion today and we'll film any place we can squeeze in and get a good rustic shot...no fancy houses or fancy boats...that's not how I remember it.

We have all lovingly referred to the song we're filming as "Married To Bob" for so long that we had forgotten it had a more formal title....and had to be reminded by the great Magic Marc Percansky who knows how to get things correct.

"Gone Away (Married To Bob Dylan)" is one of my favorites and I hope we do a good job finally making a music video for it!

Happy trails!

Here's me yesterday, courtesy of Nina, standing around with my guitar in Rob's back alleyway:

how can I be helpful to others?

I see that expressing yourself is helpful to others if you do it in a wonderful enough way that it opens up possibilities in the hearts and minds of others.

That is what I set out to do.

I saw a few people perform songs in ways that made the world a better place for me.

I wanted to do that too.

I wanted to do that more than anything else.

Most of the people had written the songs themselves.

A few of the people had not written the songs they were singing.

I guess it's the performing of the songs that meant the most to me.

I was sick this weekend and cancelled two shows.

When you make a big deal about how the venue should book you and what a good show you'll put on for them and then you get a bad cold and have to cancel, it feels embarrassing.

It feels like a failure.

Humble and kind. Humble and kind.

Humbly tell them you're pretty darn good at singing songs for people.

Humbly tell them that you only cancelled one of over a hundred shows you did last year.

Humbly tell them that they can count on you.

And if you get sick, you get sick.

So, back at it this week.

I will film my "Married To Bob Dylan" song tomorrow, as far North as my daughter Nina and I can drive in one day there and back.

No budget for overnight, cancelled shows means no budget for barely anything this week.

I am not complaining.

I am telling the readers of my blog what the situation is.

I see that being the full time artist is the road I am doggedly choosing.

And I am more and more clear on the trials and the tribulations.

Writing this blog for over a year, the patterns emerge.

You should try writing a blog every day about your life.

What patterns would emerge?

What themes would be the same as you go into a second year of writing every day about your hopes and dreams?

The hope is that you sense progress, learning, forward motion.

Dear God, please let us sense that.

Happy Monday to you friend.

Let this be a good week.

My voice is a tiny bit better already.

I sing at noon on Nicollet Mall this Wednesday.

I sing at the Finnish Bistro 6:30-8:30pm Thursday.

And I have a nice patio show this Friday 7-9pm at Local Roots in Richfield, MN.

I've written a whole collection of new handmade tiny books for you and I'll have them at my shows!

See you out on the trail.


all gratitude, all faith, all the time

I have to cancel my show today.

I cancelled my show last night.

I caught a bad cold and I have no voice to speak or sing.

I know I'm doing the best I can.

The way last month went, with my daughter Ava bringing her two dogs here for a month and my worrying for her in her personal struggles took a lot out of me.

But now the future is bright!

I feel like getting this small illness over with will bring a new day of happiness for me!

This is like the end of a bad spell.

The high today in Minneapolis is forty two degrees Fahrenheit.

That's really cold, practically winter again.

I was supposed to play on the patio overlooking the Apple River today for three hours.

That would not be possible today anyway.

It would have been fine to play inside their cozy little bar, and I would be doing it for sure, if I had my voice.

But, it'll all be great by next week!

I will have a whole new outlook.

Last year when I started this blog I had all these ideas about the struggle of being a full time artist.

I just want you to know I don't see it that way any more.

I have a song of mine that I was calling my theme song, that says, "fear is my enemy and money is my rival. Gratitude is the remedy and love is my survival".

I see it differently now.

I am not going to tell you about the money I missed out on by not being able to play my show last night or today.

I'm not going to worry you or myself wondering how I will get by without that money.

I can see now that the integrity of my life choices means I am responsible for making sure that these sorts of setbacks are not disasters.

I am not afraid.

I have made a brave lifestyle choice and I'm excited to see it through.

I'm getting better and better at taking good care of myself in this lifestyle I've chosen.

I feel great when I come up with good survival ideas to get me through moments like this one.

The unexpected is to be expected in all entrepreneurial endeavors.

I am not afraid.

I love my work.

I love my daily life.

I love what I'm doing and what I'm looking forward to doing.

Fear is obsolete.

Money is my beautiful friend, a gift that is perennial like a bouquet of Springtime wild flowers.

The beautiful gift of money received for my music and writings will continue to flow and I will continue to give money to others for all sorts of beautiful things and services.

It's all going to be wonderful.

It is all wonderful.

Happy Springtime Sunday morning to you.

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