Gratitude, Birds and Jill Sobule

On June 13, 2013. I go to a "group reading" event with Elana Kilkenny in New Canaan, CT.

Elana is, to quote her blogan inspirational psychic, intuitive Feng Shui designer, healer, writer, and spirited teacher.” 

To quote me, "she is awesome."

Elana is HIGHLY intuitive. I met her through my friend Mindy Levine (another very inspirational individual). I had seen her for a private session about 9 months before, when I felt I was at a crossroads in my life. She summoned up some incredible insights and information – way out there (I had been a samurai??), but way right on.

So I go to this session at Rosie Cafe in New Canaan. There are about 25 of us, and we each pull a card from the tarot deck. Elana, using the cards as a psychic prompt, provides a reading for each woman (it’s all women, surprise surprise).

Somehow, I feel almost everything she says is directed to me. 

Stop telling the Old Story. TELL A NEW STORY.

Focus on the SOLUTION not the Problem. Not the Why, but THE WHAT NEXT.

Look at the world and others with INNOCENCE.

See people differently, hold them in your heart differently. 

Which of these really speak to YOU?

Now she comes to me. She says:

"I don’t know what this means, but I’m hearing, Get back to the ELEMENTAL BETH." 

(When Elana talks, it’s as if she’s channeling voices she hears. She says some people have clairvoyance – she has clairaudience.) 

Then she says/they say:

Write. Write easily, simply, just do it (thank you Nike for ruining that phrase forever). UNBLOCK yourself.

I think, This is exactly what I have known in my heart for ages. Is this the kick in the psychic butt I’ve been needing?

Next morning, I get up and a lyric leaps out. For the first time in a long time. Full-formed, like Aphrodite on the half-shell. 

See, there is this bird who sits on the rearview mirror of our old Ford Focus parked in the driveway. He checks himself out. Just about everyday. 

I see that bird, and I write. 

Red Bird

Looking in the mirror

What do you see?


Red Bird

Looking in my rearview mirror

Loving what you see,

Happy as can be.

                  To be a bird

                  Flyin’ free.

                  Not just any old bird

                  But a Ruby Red Bird.

                  Look at me -


When I’m

Looking in the mirror

What do I see?


It’s like I'm looking

In the rearview mirror

Not me I see,

It’s the me I used to be.

To be a bird

                  Flyin’ free

                  Not just this old bird

                  But a groovy new bird.

                  Look at me -

             Northern cardinal

Scarlet tanager

Vermilion flycatcher

Red-breasted nuthatch

Slate-throated redstart



Oui Oui...

Red Bird

Stop looking in the mirror

And look at me

I’m a liwi - whee…

Now, I really want this to be a pop song. But that bridge - the laundry list of strange red birds - yanks me back to musical theatre land. I like that bridge. But I hate it, too. I put the lyric away.

11 weeks later, late August, they find the nodule on my thyroid. The BLOCKAGE.

As I've written before, I believe this blockage, this nodule is connected with the fact it's been years since I wrote freely, effortlessly and years since I sang at all. Okay, some of you may be rolling your eyes.  Roll away. I believe what I believe. 

Early September, I sign myself up for a songwriting class in Ridgefield CT with award-winning Kevin Briody.

In that class, I write my first piece of music ever - for "Red Bird". I write 2 other songs, too.

Early November, I record "Red Bird" – with me singing the vocal. Singing. Finally. Something I vowed to my mother I would do as I sat down after singing “Ave Maria” at her funeral 18 months earlier (she used to so love Xmas church service, the only time I sang anymore).

Then a couple of days ago, Elana sent out a note about Gratitude. Feeling and expressing gratitude restores our love of life, of others, of ourselves. She shared a few ideas about how to express. 

Writing this blog about Elana's gift is how I’m expressing my gratitude to her. For her kick in my psychic butt. 

It is also how I express my gratitude to you, Kind Readers. I now know for a fact there are a few of you out there who do read it and, miraculously, find value in it. It is that that keeps me writing it.

I ask you now: 


I’m always looking for My WHY. Why bother to write? If it’s just for me and my notebook, it feels like masturbation (sorry for the off-color reference, but it feels the most apt).

But if you read it and find value – there’s My Why.

If someone hears one of my songs and feels infinitesimally better, if someone sings it and connects to it successfully – there’s My Why


It can be fame. It can be fortune. It can be sheer cussed competitiveness. It can be a song-writing contest. It can be a wedding. 

Where's My Why, my pipeline, for this new kind of song for me? A song that's kinda pop, kinda quirky (you can take Beth out of musical theatre, but you can’t take the musical theater out of Beth).

Actually, it's reminiscent of Jill Sobule. She’s kinda pop and kinda quirky. She's found her way, has her own distinct voice. Love that song she wrote about global warming (below).

There's not a lot of funny pop songwriters. Randy Newman, Loudon Wainwright III, We Might Be Giants, Alanis Morissette.  Though even Taylor Swift can be funny (2nd below).

(Who am I forgetting? Nominations, please.)

Back to the whole thesis of this series of blogs - I wonder:

If I write more funny pop songs and maybe even sing them –

will my nodule go away? 

Only one way to find out.

Have you written a funny pop song? Send it to me - if I laugh out loud, I'll post it. There's a Why for you.




Quantum Leaping and Sharing our Songs

The decision to drink electrically-charged waters to try to shrink my big ole’ thyroid nodule is a quantum leap I’m making - from accepted Western medical practices to little-tested alternative therapies.


I’m looking at Quantum Leaping in other parts of my life as well - working on blockages in any way I can that might be contributing, on a psychic level, to the blockage in my thyroid.

I have a sizable perfectionist block. Who doesn't, right?


It keeps me from completing and sharing work I’ve done - the songs and shows I’ve created. It keeps me doing endless rewrites, the latest not necessarily any better than the one that came before, just different.

It also keeps the work of my collaborators locked in the electronic file cabinet. Not fair to them. 

Take the first song I created for Hope Sings No one has ever heard it (my husband doesn't count) (don't tell him I said that).

I went to tremendous lengths to create the song “Blanca.” I brazenly buttonholed Latin music stars, worked and reworked the lyric, traveled to Panama twice to collaborate and record the demo.

And there “Blanca” sits, in its electronic drawer. 3 years, it sits.

I have let all the lovely work of my collaborators - composer Romulo Castro and musician/producer Luis Thomas – go unheard.

I have let the inspiring story of Blanca from Barcenas - a woman who raised her family from poverty, thanks to FINCA microloans and delicious bread – go unsung.

Because -

  • It doesn't sound "pop" enough (I'm embarrassed of my musical theatre roots)
  • I don’t like my singing voice (I sang the demo) (I'm such a soprano!)
  • I ran out of money to produce it (an excuse).
  • It’s not perfect.
  • I’m afraid others will be even more critical than I am.
  • It's not perfect

In the book "Do It Wrong Quickly" e-marketing guru Mike Moran writes:

“Music is now a conversation, and feedback from your fans helps you adjust what you do every day.”

Actually, he wrote “Marketing,” not “Music,” and “customers” not “fans.” Creative license.

Seth Godin says the same thing. Ship, ship, ship. That’s the only way to improve the product.

Rodgers and Hammerstein got a musical on stage just about every year, and that’s how they became – Rodgers and Hammerstein. They shipped. Not every show they wrote was a hit. Ever hear of Pipedream

In our world of $100 (min) tickets to a Broadway show, consumers demand perfection. What a shame. Sometimes one glorious moment in an otherwise mediocre enterprise is worth the price of admission.


Let It Go

Like you have to let a child be who they are.

Let It Go.

Like stress. Insecurity. The laundry.

Let It Go

LIke this song.

Let Blanca Go

(shades of the Wizard of Oz)

To Romulo and Luis: my heartfelt apologies. Here is your song. And a promise: I will produce it with a better voice than mine. it will be a big part of Hope Sings the Musical. (more on that soon!).

What “songs” are you hiding? Share them with me. Please. Let your babies out.

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