January: I rang in the New Year in California with Chip and Sharyn and their international friends. I continued receiving a weekly massage from a neighbor, Michael Shumate, also developing a cherished friendship. I continued enjoying my monthly Book Club and the other three Tuesdays each month I participated in a support group on “Boundaries”. Henry Cloud and John Townsend have written some really helpful books and produced a filmed teaching series on this subject, which we watch and discuss.
February: I started another series of watercolor classes at the Watkins Institute. Though I arrived at class exhausted (6:00 pm on a weeknight), three hours later I was feeling exhilarated and inspired!
March: I did a recording session with a small group of singers from church and enjoyed being “back in the saddle” again. Friends who live on a farm hosted a wonderful potluck with music by an Israeli harpist and a Celtic guitarist and a wonderful big bonfire. It was great being introduced to all the farm animals.
April: A big month! What a privilege it was to share a Passover seder at the home of Sandra and Aaron Elkins. I enjoyed singing with the Nashville Choir at the new symphony hall, the Schermerhorn. It was a hymn sing sponsored by the Sparrow Foundation fulfilling a longstanding dream of Billy Ray Hearn. I loved seeing the movie Gypsy Caravan. (A documentary follows bands of gypsy musicians from four different countries as they travel and perform together.) I sang a David Foster-composed duet, The Prayer, with Courtney Schadt, a senior medical student, at the Fine Arts Recital at Vanderbilt – the first time I’ve sung a “big” (loud!) solo in public. Finally, I began having weekly creative meetings with my dear friend Carol Pigg. We’re each working on writing a book, hers about journaling, mine a romance.
May: I traveled to Washington DC with a group of sixteen from the Nashville Choir to participate in a Convocation of the Arts sponsored by the Washington Arts Group. What a rich feast of fellowship, fun, creativity and challenge. The trip was like going back to high school or college –getting to talk and play non-stop with a bunch of great people, our only responsibility to sing (and fight the temptation to criticize the chaos). Gary Pigg and I also enjoyed having lunch with dear friends Marty and Vickie McCall and Carolyn Naifeh.
June: I finally began inviting dinner guests using the china, crystal and silver I inherited from my mom. I attended the Schermerhorn again and enjoyed Carmina Burana, performed magnificently by the symphony choir. With the Nashville Choir I had a great time recording for Michael W. Smith’s next Christmas album.
July: A life-transforming process began when Carol Pigg and I began doing one chapter each week from the exercises recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.
August: One of the dreams I listed in an exercise from The Artist’s Way was to sing in a Renaissance chamber music ensemble, and an email came my way mere weeks later announcing tryouts for such a group. I tried out and became a member of Collegium Vocale at Vanderbilt. Very challenging!
September: The C.S. Lewis Foundation put on a wonderful one-day seminar at Belmont University which I attended with my C.S. Lewis-loving friend Diane West. At our first Collegium concert I reconnected with the first guy who offered me a publishing deal in Nashville, Randy Cox. I was inspired by my neighbor the massage guy to begin a detox program with an amazing Christian nutritionist named Celeste Davis. If you’re local and you would like to be healthier, go to her website at http://wellnessworkshopcoolsprings.com
October: Jack Hayford spoke at a local church and it’s always a personal blessing for me to hear Pastor Jack, my spiritual father since 1973. I braved a Pepperdine alumni gathering for the first time ever and enjoyed meeting several new people and renewing a few previous connections. We were all grateful to hear that the fires had not damaged or injured any Pepperdiners. The most fun thing about October was rehearsing with Gary Pigg, Chris Harris, Cindy Hudson and Ric Simenson for a reunion of our group Fireworks, one of the groundbreaking early rock groups in contemporary Christian music.
November: Lead singer and songwriter Marty McCall has been battling cancer so we were not sure if he could join us, but he gloriously did, and we had a fabulous night singing at the Koinonia Family Reunion Concert on November 1. Other musicians included ‘70s groups Homecoming (Brown Bannister, Bob Farnsworth and Alan Robertson subbing for original member Mike Hudson) and Dogwood (Steve Chapman, Ron Elder and Ken Fletcher). We were all thrilled to hear Amy Grant, Billy Sprague and Jim Weber. Some of us did a promotional interview on Brian Mason’s Sunday morning radio show (photo below).
November also included two weeks in California. I enjoyed time with my brother and sis-in-law, Chip and Sharyn, as well as Thanksgiving Day with Sara and Sam Jackson, Helen Young, and their family. The Jacksons and Steve Stewart and I had a wonderful dinner with Janie and Mark Long. I had a great evening reconnecting with college friend Dan Hoard, who is the new minister at the Redondo Beach Church of Christ, where I also got to see Jimmy, Janice and Ramona Hahn, George Hill, the Smythes, the Grimeses – it was an old home week for long-time Pepperdiners.
December: The most amazing month to top a remarkable year – I connected with an eHarmony guy who has visited from Illinois twice. Ted and Jane-Anne Thomas (with whom I attended a family reunion last year) stayed at my condo while Jane-Anne had a medical appointment at Vanderbilt and later returned to receive a clean bill of health. After performing in an Advent concert with Collegium and a Christmas concert at church, I enjoyed being a part of the congregation at the Christmas Eve midnight service at St. Bartholomew’s where I love hearing Eric Wyse lead worship.