The Power of One

I began blogging in 2012 after several exchanges with a newly found friend via email as I toured the country with the Jazz Ambassadors. The correspondence started as friendly banter but quickly developed into a sort of personal discovery as we grew a friendship across the miles. While touring presented opportunities for growth and study, it also created an environment of danger for someone like me: a prisoner of abysmal loneliness in the absence of my family and despite the presence of my peers. My friend, based in New York City, encouraged the daily conversation that I needed at the time. I don’t think he knew what a simple gift he so selflessly provided. To say I was grateful would be a complete understatement, now. Continue reading

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In Full Retreat…

“The worst of life looks beautiful, as it slips away in full retreat.” – Bonnie Raitt

Winding down another tour with the Jazz Ambassadors, I’m reflecting on the roller coaster of emotions we’ve ridden since this trek began. Losing one’s spouse suddenly is not something that anyone ever anticipates, but that’s exactly what happened to one of our musical brothers in the hours after we left Fort Meade for this 37-day tour. Stolen from him in a moment, our dear colleague’s wife and soul mate was gone, and his future, forever altered. How does one recover from that? Continue reading

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29 DEC 2012 – New York City

Liesl Whitaker

I’m sitting in a small, one bedroom apartment on the West Side of Manhattan.  Snow is blowing by the window, giving the room an even cozier vibe.  I’m under blankets, in my jeans, truly just hanging out.  I just finished drying my hair after venturing through the weather in the name of nourishment.  I found a small Irish pub owned by an elderly Irish couple.  I was the first and only customer, as I’m sure this weather has bound many people to their living rooms.  I made a little small talk with the owners, sipped a pint of draught, and dined on her homemade chicken and vegetable soup, all in the glow of a dark room, lit only by the black and white movie coming from the TV behind the bar.  It was a truly cozy hour spent in the company of a lovely couple and Jimmy Stewart.  A real…

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I’m Certain of Nothing…

One of the perks of my jobs is being able to travel around the country, often coming into contact with my extended family along the way. This happened this past week in Mason City, Iowa.

My Mother, Barbara, was the fourth of nine children born to a poor farmer and his wife in Southern Illinois in the 1940s. As one can imagine, attention from the parents would be hard to come by with so many mouths in the house to feed, and young bodies to clothe constantly. I never met my maternal grandfather as he died suddenly when my mother was still a teenager. Coping with the stresses of the day, I’ve learned, was not a forte of my maternal grandmother. But she did so in her way, and all the children grew into responsible, healthy adults. Continue reading

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Loss, Love and Learning…

I have taken a hiatus from writing over the past 6 months, mainly because I have been absorbed in the observation of life.  As a person, I am always amazed at the things that I can observe if my eyes are open.  Now, as I tour with the Jazz Ambassadors, I have decided to put some thoughts down again.  They are a little scattered, perhaps, but they are what’s swirling currently through my mind.  I, like many people, try to find meaning in the events and accounts that take place in and around my life, to try to find the lesson in them – there is always something to learn if you just look for it – always.

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Now Do It!

Writing again on a Tuesday in Georgia from the bus.  Just a short excerpt to start a process, whatever that may be.  We are traveling to the next town where we will attempt to bring joy to the hearts of those who make the effort to be entertained.  It’s a job, and I am glad to have it.  I’m one of the few by percentage who can say I am getting paid to do what I love.  But today it is hard.  I am missing my family and home tremendously.  Life on the road has its challenges as well as its fulfillment.  Yet, I continue to repeat my mantra:  “I am lucky”, trying desperately to believe in it in every moment.  Grasping hard, even though the rope is slippery today. Continue reading

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Precious Gifts…

I’m sitting at the bedside of my four-year-old daughter as she slips off to sleep. The monotonous clicks of my keyboard hypnotize her, and she stares at my screen as I type, unable to read the words, yet fixed on the glow as it slowly lulls her eyes closed in her toddler exhaustion. Bedtime stories have been read, Barbie shoes are aligned neatly on her nightstand, and she’s fighting the last daily battle with wakefulness. It has been a busy day for her, a Thursday, just like the other days before this one and the ones to follow. She’s got things to do and see, and once her feet hit the ground, she’s on a mission of discovery and wonder. I can’t help but think of how lost I will feel on the day when she no longer reaches over and strokes my hair with her tiny hands; when she’s too grown up to play mommy to this mommy, when she’s learned to braid hair for real after experimenting endlessly on mine, and when she understands that the grey hairs that are beginning to show themselves in my mane were not my choice or creation. If only we could always protect them, allow them to hold on to that innocence forever, keep those wolves always on the other side of the door. Continue reading

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The Human Soul…

Standing out amongst other living things is something we humans do rather well.  We are at the top of the food chain, after all, our brains so far advanced that our technology actually blows the mind!  Just take a look at the title character in the famous 80s television show “MacGyver”.  Now he had some mad skills:  Give the man a quarter, a jar of peanut butter and a fence post, and he could make a hover craft, for crying out loud!  Yes, the limits of the human mind and imagination are endless.  Through our study and technology, we are able to understand so much about our world and about ourselves.  Yet, we still maintain individuality amongst our millions, no two people being exactly alike – anywhere!  That’s pretty impressive! Continue reading

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A Choice…

Returning to writing finally, now that I have some quiet time…away from home, on a bus and on the move.  Out here, watching the world pass by my 5-foot tinted screen, thoughts come and go with the change of the scenery.  It can be difficult to latch on to one long enough to ponder for more than a few moments.  But perhaps that’s a sign that the brain is healthy and young – still.  I can hope… Continue reading

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A Youthful Lesson…

On a lazy Tuesday morning in December, I sit with my children, watching the snow accumulate outside of our rented townhouse in the Maryland suburbs.  Schools are closed today, so my son is taking his turn with the TV, while my daughter patiently entertains herself by removing and replacing ornaments from the freshly decorated Christmas tree.  These are wonderful moments, disturbed only by the snoring of Fred, our beloved bassett hound, who has refused to relinquish his spot on the sofa.  A truly wonderful wintry day! Continue reading

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