Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Woman With Heart

In 2007, I bought Joni Mitchell's CD called "Shine." That was a bleak year for me, and the CD brought me some light and some perspective on darkness. It was released in September, just after R had a brainstem stroke which left him in a coma for two weeks at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California. I would have heard about "Shine" after returning home from a yoga teacher training intensive in Eastern Washington that convinced me that I did not want to become a yoga teacher. I did not yet know that R had the stroke and didn't learn of his stroke until the last day of the year when his sister sent me a Christmas card. It is occurring to me that I may have stopped listening to "Shine" after R died the following April.

Listen to Joni:

Holy Earth
How can we heal you?
We cover you like a blight...
Strange birds of appetite...
If I had a heart I'd cry

Today I pulled "Shine" down from my small hard-to-reach up-near-the-ceiling shelf of CDs that I have kept but do not listen to very often. The CDs are more or less in chronological order, beginning with some early rock 'n' roll and ending with a 3-disk set called "Autoharp Legacy" (scroll down). Although that CD is from 2002, my recent interest in the autoharp places it there in my sense of history.

A few months ago, I put all my Bob Dylan CDs in a box which is now in the small storage closet in my hallway. They have been easily accessible to me for as long as I have had them, but I have not had any desire to listen to them, except occasionally in my car. As a long-time listener of Bob Dylan, I also have another box filled with his music on tape, and a shelf containing all his vinyl albums previous to the years when music began to be put on tape. Although I am still stopped in my footsteps and find myself close to tears when I hear Bob Dylan's voice as I did in the Bellingham Community Co-op grocery store a few days ago, and am moved to the core as I have been since I was 13 years old, something told me to put his CDs away and be open to hearing another voice. It's been very quiet here for some time anyway. Beginning in spring, when I can open my windows, I listen to the sound of birds. If I want to hear music, I sit down with my autoharp, dulcimers, and ukulele. It has been silent during the time that I have been making the first eleven mandalas, which was last September after most of the birds were gone.

A few days ago while checking for updates on Joni Mitchell's health, I discovered that on November 17, 2014, she released a 4-disk collection of CDs titled "Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced." Because I am living on my dwindling savings, I went to our local public library's website to see if they had a copy. I've been listening to the library copy ever since. It's a work of art. Hers is the voice I want to listen to while I am drawing and when I weave on my inkle loom sometime in the future or when I just want to hear the voice of a complex creative woman with heart.

It appears that I may be employed for 20-28 hours a week as a medical transcriptionist and editor sometime soon, working from my home. This is the first June in years that I haven't suffered from situational depression, and I am hopeful that I will be able to keep working as a transcriptionist for the rest of my life. That job will provide me with a modest income that will allow me to continue buying food, paying my bills, buying paper and colored pencils for drawing, buying strings for my musical instruments, buying yarn for weaving and other necessities of life.

I don't take anything for granted anymore and am grateful to have found Joni Mitchell and her fierceness and gentleness and her music and her art work once again.


Sabine said...

Congratulations for the employment opportunity. I hope it works out and you will find a way to accommodate this into your life.

Joni Mitchell played a huge role in my life when I was a student in the mid 1970s. It's a little bit like what you describe when you listen to Bob Dylan. Some of her songs move me to tears, not always but often. In the early 1980s, when I had a small child and the world sometimes felt very threatening (famine in Ethiopian, Chernobyl, AIDS, Nuclear Winter) I would turn to Wild Things Run Fast or Dog Eat Dog almost daily.

bev said...

I've come to believe that certain things come to us when we most need them -- a piece of music or art, a friendship, a job or other opportunity. I'm glad that music and income have come to you at this point in time. I shall have a listen to Joni's most recent work.

am said...

Sabine: Thank you for your good wishes as I prepare to be employed again.

Yes. Joni Mitchell has played a huge role in our lives. Listening to the 4-disk CD is a revelation. It is only the music of Bob Dylan and of Joni Mitchell that often moves me to tears when I hear it unexpectedly. When my marriage ended in 1984, my former husband asked me to choose half of the albums we had collected in the 11 years that we were together. Although I really wanted both the Bob Dylan and the Joni Mitchell ones (we had all their albums), he didn't like Bob Dylan at all, and I felt it only fair to leave him the Joni Mitchell collection. He got all the albums through Wild Things Run Fast. I bought all the Joni Mitchell music that followed as the years went by.

am said...

Bev: So many good things have come into my life recently. I've been on a waiting list for yoga classes from a teacher who takes a limited number of students and will start those classes tomorrow, which just happens to be one of the days I will have off from work. With the 4-disk set are liner notes that I think you will enjoy, too, because Joni's art and music are so intertwined. Her entire catalogue of drawings and paintings is on her website. I spent a couple of days looking at her art work and reading the notes.

Anonymous said...

Joni Mitchell provided some of the most poignant soundtracks of my life. I listen to her quite often, and "If I Had A Heart" is one of my favorite songs at the moment. I love her. Her artistry blows my mind.

I am so glad you have found work and are feeling well. Wonderful news in every way.

am said...

robin andrea -- We are fortunate to have had Joni's songs for most of our adult lives. Thank you for your kind words.

Tara said...

Keeping the material world together is a on-going task that, for us artists, is sometimes most difficult. The upside to it is that we know how to live simply, and spend our money on what is most important to our values. Happy that you have found this job that will help keep the fires going.

I'm going to the library web-site as well to see if they have this JM set. Thank you for suggesting it.

Its a great day for celebrating love and justice. Hope you are riding on air and remain so all weekend long.

am said...

Tara: Thank you! Lately it's been a roller coaster ride emotionally. Yes, it's a great day today.