For the last few years my friend John Batdorf and I have been working on a project to harness the power of music to help recovering addicts looking for a soundtrack to recovery to replace the songs that triggered their addiction. To learn about what we’ve been up to and how you can help, please check out the link below. I think it’s important:http://www.indiegogo.com/Soundtrax2?a=217656
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In the last 24 hours or so I’ve felt a “surge” of creativity. I haven’t felt this way for some time and it’s exhilarating. It’s not exactly a manic enthusiasm, more of an excited hopefulness that there’s still something in the tank.
So I’m taking advantage of this new found inspiration and plowing the fields and planting the seeds of three new projects. They are in their “infancy” phase, as I call it. These ideas are very fragile and I’m trying to nurture and protect them until they can withstand the necessary challenges they will face when they’re more developed.
The great thing about “infant” ideas is that you don’t have to change their diapers, listen to their cries for attention or get them their immunization shots. But they MUST be fed…constantly…and more often than not, they do spit up the stuff they can’t or won’t absorb.
AND SO, I’m mixing the formula and being conscientious. Although these three are newborns, I’ve got to say: They’re GORGEOUS!!!
It’s a snow day (snowin’ like crazy as I write this) and I’m home playing with my newest toy that I got for my birthday. It’s an iPad and it’s so cooooooooooool. I’m sending my first M2B:) blog via my iPad hoping that the coolness of the tablet influences the coolness of the author.
I’ve been thinking about coolness a lot lately. It may have something to do with my recent birthday. I received the coolest gifts of any birthday in a decade and yet I secretly wonder if I deserve them. Well, that’s misleading. I don’t wonder if I deserved being treated with such thoughtfulness and love, but I wonder what I need to do to become cool enough, in my own mind, to own such cool gifts.
Maybe, just for today, I should surrender to the advertising myth that ALL I have to do to be cool is to OWN COOL STUFF. It’s nonsense of course, but at this very moment, I think I’ll just let it work for me. Just a second. I’m going to go look in the mirror, with my iPad in hand and see what I see. (Be right back)
Wow!! I saw a cool guy with an iPad. This is fantastic. I didn’t have to DO anything. This is working for me. I think I’ll call somebody and tell them I’m writing a blog on my new iPad and see what they say. (Be right back)
Wow! The first thing they said was, “That’s SOOOO cool!” Incredible. I’m looking cool. I’m told I’m cool…I’m even FEELING pretty cool. Excuse me, I think I hear my wife calling me.
“Hey Grandpa with the iPad. Did you take out the garbage?”
A bit of reality kicks in. Grandpa with the iPad is right. That’s who I am. A “poser” with an adornment. I surrender to the truth, and call back to my wife. “I’m on my way right now”
And she calls back. “Cool!”
Okay, I have officially had enough winter. Enough gray skies. Enough snow, sleet, rain and wind. I’m way, way ready for spring. To officially invite the season that was supposed to have arrived a month ago, I’m wearing dark glasses. More than an invitation to the sun, I’m sort of daring it to manifest itself to me in this gloominess lingering before me.
I’m blasting HERE COMES THE SUN from my iPod and singing along. It’s time…I’m beckoning to the sun: ”It’s alright, da da da da do do do da da da It’s alright” And just now I’m discovering that I’m singing to myself; “It’s alright, you can come out now. The ice is slowly melting. It may just be a glimpse, but here comes the sun. It’s alright.” And so it is.
Though a month later the the traditional spring equinox, I’m declaring today, April 21st 2011 the first day of spring. My spring. Doesn’t matter what the weathman says because, Little darlin’s, it’s been a long cold lonely winter. Little darlin’s it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say, It’s alright.
More tomorrow. Til then I want you to know, little darlin’s…the smiles returning to my face.
I’ve been hibernating. Actually, cyber-hibernating. Haven’t been blogging for a couple of months because my brain sort of shut down after the Forgotten Carols tour this year and it’s taken longer than I expected for it to re-boot.
I chuckle because I just took Lynne’s computer in to MacDocs for some repair work. A new video card and more ram was needed to get it operational and while I was there I thought how great it would be if I could just leave my brain there for a few days. ”Ahhhh, here’s the problem. Poor fellow has a chip missing.” And that would be that. But alas, no such luck. Silicon Valley doesn’t make my kind of chips.
When I started this Mission To Be Happy Web Site…or is it blog spot?…on January 1, 2010 I decided to write about where I found a meaningful happiness pretty much everyday for a year. I sort of hoped it would help people get interested in my little M2B:) book/CD which had just been released. I imagined that if my “mission” caught on with others I could do a little tour, singing the songs, sharing the stories and then at the end of the year I’d expand the franchise to do, “Mission To Be Happy in Marriage” or “Mission To Be Happy in Parenting” etc. etc. But a couple of things caught me by surprise. The public reaction and my own.
As for myself, I didn’t realize the relentless nature of writing about happiness, in an authentic and meaningful way, every day. It was always bedtime and I was reviewing my day and deciding which moments corresponded with which chapter and song from my book. Then, I tried to find a way to write about it honestly enough to be true to the spirit of my “mission”, but also interestingly enough that it would be worth the time it took to read and/or respond. I kept going to bed later and later just trying to get the description of the day’s discovery right. Some days were better than others. Sometimes the writing seemed way less happy than the experience itself, and other times, just the opposite. But, by doing it so consistently I kept track of 2010 for posterity to remember me by.
I was happy to have received some encouraging feedback from those who read my daily entries, though I was disappointed that it didn’t fuel the fire for my book. In fact, in the almost thirty years I’ve been writing songs and stories, Mission To Be Happy seems to have reached fewer folks, and with less connection than anything I’ve ever done…by a factor of 5. Translation: My publisher announced that after 6 months it was being permanently assigned to the sale bin, and in less than a year on the market it would be out of print.
“But what about all the cool ideas I have for sequels to M2B:)? M2B:) Midst International Turmoil and Revolution? Or M2B:) When Gas Hits $5+ Per Gallon? Or, perhaps the most exciting, M2B:) When You Don’t Know What To Actually DO With All That Gold You’ve Been Buying?”
All anyone could say was, “You know, sometimes book ideas work and sometimes, not so much. Let it go, Michael…it just wasn’t a Chicken Soup for the Soul idea.”
“But the Chicken Soup for the Soul series didn’t have my upbeat and enlightening songs accompanying the books.”
That was it. End of conversation. The M2B:) franchise idea was pronounced dead. Resurrection unlikely. So now what? Do I stay on my mission to be happy, sing my songs and forge ahead, alone, as an ambassador of an approach to finding happiness that’s worked well for me, or release myself and see if the URL HappinessTakesTooLongAndIsExhausting.com is available? Which will it be?
Well, as Jack Benny famously said, “I’m thinking it over.”
For those of you who had a chance to follow the tour on faceBook (The Forgotten Carols page) you know what a blast we all had doing the show. It was truly a joy to be with such great people both on stage and off. I’m profoundly grateful for the enthusiasm and support I felt every night. Thanks to everyone involved.
Today I’m looking out over our field of snow. Yesterday it snowed non-stop all day long and today it’s looks like a postcard for a winter wonderland. Gorgeous. Sort of a medaphor for the New Year. Clean slate, fresh page, awaiting whatever mark I choose to make. As I continue my “post-tour” recovery I’m going to be giving it a lot of thought.
I haven’t had a chance to get ALL my M2B:) moments here on this blog, but I want you to know there are more than I could have ever hoped for…and they’ve come from you who have been coming to see THE FORGOTTEN CAROLS. We’ve been capturing these memories on our FORGOTTEN CAROLS page on facebook. Everyday our director (who also plays the part of Dr. Halifax in the show) Gili Getz uploads videos of the tour. Behind the scenes insights that allow everyone to actually be on tour with us. So join me there if you’d like an all access backstage pass to the tour. Tonight we begin a week at the Cottonwood auditorium and then we head south to Richfield, St. George, Las Vegas and Phoenix. For info on exactly where we’ll be and when go to ForgottenCarols.com and if you’re on facebook, please go to our page and lick “like”.
I’ve always loved this time of year but I think my Mission To Be Happy has taught me how to be even more aware of all the happiness that is happening all around me…but best of all, it has helped me discover the joy within.
First day of Forgotten Carols rehearsals and I’m a happy guy. Reunited with great friends anticipating the best season ever and already having way too much fun. As we reviewed the blocking of the show and looked for better ways to bring the story to life we found some really fun stuff that’s been buried in the script for several years but now seems to be surfacing. Can’t wait to share the discoveries with audiences on the tour.
Just before we got to work this morning the cast received gifts: A copy of the new Forgotten Carols illustrated book, “A Christmas Miracle for Isaac and Eliza” and an all cotton throw/blanket with the Forgotten Carols logo on it. Not only does it look great and VERY festive but I’ve already wrapped myself up in it in anticipation of winter movie nights at McLean Cinemas.
During rehearsal today I was infused with a spirit of deep gratitude. How lucky am I to be able to spend the holiday season with so many wonderful people telling a story that means so much to me. During the Shepherd song I sing the line “…but there was something magic in the air, that made me feel as if I had been there” I felt the magic today, rehearsing in the same room that I first presented The Forgotten Carols to my family and some friends back in 1991. I was thirty-nine and was hoping a modest one-man show of The Forgotten Carols with a regional back-up choir would help promote my new Christmas story and songs. The show has certainly evolved over the last nineteen years, but at its core, the story’s still the same and from what I felt today it still allows me to feel the magic in the air. If that’s not a M2B:) moment I don’t know what is.
It’s important for me to say, right here and now, that I HAVE NOT ceased my daily search for meaningful happiness AND I HAVE NOT failed to find it. I have failed to get to my computer the last twelve days to share the joy with those of you who read these postings. I’ve been amazed at how much there has been to be happy about and I’m happy to be able to spend a few moments today getting you caught up on my Mission To Be Happy.
Since my last entry I’ve been to Portland, Oregon to share an evening of stories and songs at the Time Out For Women Conference. Flew to Arizona to join my friends from the Nashville Tribute Band for a show in Show Low. Made it home in the nick of time to help navigate the mother ship through stormy seas. Picked up the pace promoting the upcoming FORGOTTEN CAROLS tour by making a quick trip to Sacramento and tonight I’m off to the airport to collect the talented and always joyful Gili Getz who flies in from New York to shepherd us through rehearsals. Been crazy busy, but I haven’t confused business with happiness. Some of the most remarkable moments of my M2B:) this year were found in-between the anchor activities. For example:
Waiting for Delta airlines to get me back to Utah from Phoenix I met a women who lives in Layton traveling with her 75 year old mother who lives in Orem. They’d been on a get-a-way weekend in Arizona (the husband works for the airlines and so the two ladies were flying stand-by to get home). We started chatting and quickly developed a bond. Neither of them were familiar with The Forgotten Carols and so I did a little tap dance there at the airport to encourage them to check out the show. They endured my genetic pre-disposition to try and talk anyone into listening to my songs or attending my concerts and before I could mention how to order tickets online the older woman began sharing her love for Jesus with me. She gave me a book she was reading about the 91st Psalm and quoted that scripture to me with great enthusiasm and joy. She told me her father was a preacher and that spiritual things came naturally to her. She praised the Lord almost every other sentence as we talked about things we had in common and ways we’d all been blessed. I think we sort of adopted each other as we said goodbye.
A couple of days later I found a message on my voice mail that had come early that morning. It was my new friend who said she’d been thinking about me and wanted to pray for me…and she did. That voice mail was, without question, one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard. I don’t know if it’s right to say someone offered a “great” prayer, but that’s what I heard. A really great prayer!!! I felt blessed just listening to it, and then put it on the speaker phone and played it for my wife. I don’t know if this will make sense, but I kinda wanted to replay the voice mail prayer during my own prayer time and just point to my cell phone, look heavenward, and say, “what she said!!”
I found that after hearing that prayer I discovered others who’ve been praying for me. Dear friends who fasted and prayed for me on my drive back to Vermont. Others who’ve been pouring out their hearts to heaven in our behalf as we’ve been learning how to care for our ailing parents. And for our kids…and grandkids. All the prayers have been felt, completely, but perhaps best of all, they’ve changed the way I pray for others. I’m not sure I’m offering “great” prayers for those I care about, but they’re more sincere, more specific and more…often.
As I enter into the consuming task of sharing The Forgotten Carols from Sacramento to Seattle, Spokane to Boise, Idaho Falls to Logan, Ogden to Provo, Salt Lake City to Richfield, St. George to Las Vegas and finishing up the tour in Phoenix I’m going to be praying a lot. For the cast and crew, the weather, the pizzas, the late night visits to Dennys (or whatever’s open after the shows)….but most of all, for the audiences. At Christmas time M2B:) moments abound but, like the Innkeeper who turned away Joseph and Mary, we’re often too busy to recognize them. My prayer is that midst all the craziness in all our lives, we don’t miss what really matters.
Three days of chores and I’m feeling “chore’d out”. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a great feeling of satisfaction getting an oversized load of stuff hauled off to the dump, getting my dad’s car repaired, moving the fire-pit benches up out of the sure to come snow, putting new tires on Lynne’s car, getting folks to the dentist, the doctor and, oh yes, voting.
Wait a minute. Is voting a “chore”? Of course not, it’s privilege and one I should never take for granted. But it was on “the list” of things to do so I sort of treated it like a chore and ALMOST missed the M2B:) highlight of these three days. I live in a place where my voice matters, where I can cast a ballot, in secret, and choose someone to represent me in matters local, national and international. Though the moment of voting was singular, it’s significance has lingered with me longer than in voting years past. I’m deeply grateful for the freedoms I enjoy. I know there are concerns about freedoms lost and the destruction of our democracy as we’ve known it, but those aren’t my fears this week. I got to vote. It got counted. There will be changes in government with no shots fired, no coup attempts. Even moments of humility and graciousness in victory and defeat. Dare I say it…civility.
I’m choosing to focus on that, and it makes me happy.