In April, Healthwise Ottawa published an article I wrote about music, connection and well-being. In it I mention how music helps me to connect with my mom despite her years of dementia.
I miss her, the her I once knew. I miss the fierce defender of the downtrodden, the “cycling peddler of hope” (as the director of the Children’s Aid Society christened her years ago). I miss the woman who loved nature and connecting with people, especially us, her family.
In between the missing moments, though, I occasionally feel the essence of her. It might be a mischievous glint in her eye, or the strength of her hand on my arm or her warm chuckle and smile as she tells a story only she can follow. I keep my Mama Dickie, as she was lovingly known by many, alive inside by noticing ways she has shaped and influenced me. I often find myself sharing with friends moments of her incredible wisdom. She had a way of seeing people and the world that helped you to see more.
Case in point: she was probably an unconscious guide in this past week’s events. On Wednesday, while performing at an event for the local Writers Festival I’ve helped organize, I spontaneously took the moment to publicly declare that after the festival I intend to back off (i.e., balance) some of my hyper-volunteering ways. I need and want to create more space for songwriting and other creative pursuits. By saying this out loud, with witnesses, I hope to be more accountable to this vision.
I have since received a lot of encouragement. I interpret this as a good sign! As does how it feels inside to name my intention, my desire, with conviction.
Two days later I was invited to share a few songs at a fundraiser. Since my vision of music includes performing for fundraisers, this feels like a perfect “living aligned” moment: an opportunity to bring both my music and my volunteering values together! “Both-and” thinking I first learned from my Mom. Love you Mom. I’ll come sing with you soon.