by Joy Zimmerman

Note By Note: O Sorrow | No. 3 | 11.9.18   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow began falling on our drive home from Des Moines yesterday afternoon. As Linda and I re-lived the delight of the two workshops I led at Mercy Medical Center, Linda’s cell phone rang. During a routine teeth cleaning, our vet had discovered a tumor in our beloved dog, Charlie Bear’s, spleen. 

And just like that life changed. It was decided to remove Charlie’s tumor and then make a determination. The snow picked up steam as we drove on. Hoping against hope to make it to the vet’s office in time to see him alive, we waited for the next call. Ten minutes away from the office, we learned that Charlie’s heart had stopped during the surgery, and it would not start again a second time. The great, big heart of our lab/Great Pyrenees mix was now silent. 

The compassionate staff let us see him – so peaceful, still warm and smelling like our old pal. Stunned, we spent time thanking him for his life and his love. 

Then the hard work of telling our children and bearing their grief as well as our own. Lots of tears and stories and solidarity throughout the evening and night. 

This morning the ginkgo tree in our front yard began “raining.” All fall we have waited for this day when the brilliant yellow leaves fall all at once. 

Despite our sadness we threw on coats and shoes and headed out. Linda had recently read that it’s good luck to catch a ginkgo leaf as it falls. Slipping on the wet leaves on our steep hill, we began laughing as we tried to scoop up the magical leaves mid-air. The falling leaves began to feel like a shower of grace. 

We tend to think of good luck as a future proposition. But as I caught my first leaf, I gave thanks for Charlie Bear. I knew that our family had been supremely lucky. Charlie was a great connector when we needed it most. A gentle dog who looked deeply into your eyes, always ready for a snack or a belly scratch.   

Linda and I ended up catching numerous leaves, reminders of sadness and the good fortune of being surrounded and loved by wonderful people and wonderful animal friends like Charlie Bear. 

Rest in peace. 

All the best—with gratitude, 

Joy 

“O Sorrow” is my song for today. I tried to capture some of my experiences with grief, as well as others I have accompanied in support groups I have attended and led. Here are the lyrics:  O Sorrow Lyrics

Here's a video of our tree this morning. Ginkgo leaves have been found in fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree was cultivated early in human history. After the first hard freeze its leaves usually fall all at once -- often within an hour or two. More information: Missouri Botanical Gardens

 

Joy Zimmerman is a soulful singer-songwriter known for compelling vocals, inventive songs, and captivating performances. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is currently working on “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music.  Joy is a multi-instrumentalist whose eclectic music might be best described as folk rock with extra helpings of other favorite genres. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded three albums in Nashville and two in Kansas City. 

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com

To purchase "O Sorrow" visit CDBaby.com

Note by Note: I Wish You'd Met Me When My Stomach Was Flat | No. 2 | 11.5.18 

What body images have shaped your beauty standards -- Rubenesque figures, Twiggy or Nicki Minaj? How wide is your definition of loveliness? 

True story--I avoided my neighborhood pool for a whole summer in middle school because I thought my butt was too big. Seriously. I hope I’m alone in feeling body shame/self-criticism in middle school and many other times, but I suspect I’m not. It’s in the water. 

For those of us who’ve had tumultuous relationships with our bodies, how can we make peace? How do we forgive our bodies for perceived flaws and shortcomings? 

It appears that I’m getting older, and the struggle is real. Sometimes I feel like a slowly-evolving science experiment. Intellectually I know to expect changes, but there they are. In the mirror. 

So what to do? Determine to set your own beauty standards. Thank your body for carrying you thus far. Look for loveliness. Laugh. 

As I got dressed one day, this line came to me—I wish you’d met me when my stomach was flat. I knew this line had launched a song.  A funny song, I hoped. Audience response routinely tells me I’m not alone in my struggles. My autobiographical tale (minus the kidney stone) seems to hit a nerve.  

Diane Keaton has said, “As you get older, you become more comfortable in your own skin”. Even if that skin needs to be ironed. And celebrated. 

After all, dear friends, we just might be hitting our stride. 

*What beauty standards do you worship? How can we grow older more gracefully? What’s your best body-positive message? 

All the best—with gratitude, 

Joy

Click on the images below for two different versions of this song...

               

P.S. I remember pre-production conversations with Fett of Azalea Studios in Nashville about the genre of this song. We wanted it to be amusing but not too kitschy so the novelty wouldn’t wear off. I think our decision to go with klezmer struck the right chord. 

My violin often plays the part of the clarinet in live performances. And a final note -- when Linda and I made the official video, we opted to use images of animals instead of people (namely me) to illustrate the lyrics ;)  

 

Joy Zimmerman is a soulful singer-songwriter known for compelling vocals, inventive songs, and captivating performances. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is currently working on “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music.  Joy is a multi-instrumentalist whose eclectic music might be best described as folk rock with extra helpings of other favorite genres. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded three albums in Nashville and two in Kansas City. 

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com

To purchase "I Wish You'd Met Me When My Stomach Was Flat", visit cdbaby

Note by Note: An Introduction | No.1 | 10.22.18 

I love hearing the inspirations that led songwriters to their songs. And I love knowing what makes artists tick. 

These fascinations led me to this leap of faith into the blogging world. My intent is to explain Note by Note how my original songs came to life. One song per post. 

By way of introduction, these two photos depict my musical beginnings….violin lessons before kindergarten and singing in the children’s choir at my church in St. Louis. (I'm sporting the pixie haircut in the first row, far left) 

Violin was my main squeeze. I pursued it vigorously through college with many lessons and many orchestras. Eventually realizing I was not cut out for classical music alone, I didn’t have a larger musical vision. Besides, I was out to save the world as a social worker, so I set down my violin bow on a music career. 

Singing had always been second nature, but my 4th grade self decided that I didn’t have a solo voice. I clearly remember the day I made that secret determination without any fact checking. Sad but true, since a person can’t really know how their own voice sounds to others. I resolved to be a good choir member and blend well. 

That is, until I picked up a guitar and started performing a decade ago. What followed was discovering songwriting, my solo voice, and this uncharted road. 

Some say the violin is the closest musical equivalent to the human voice. (I find it curious that my own vocal range begins with the lowest note on the violin and goes up to the highest note in first position.) Maybe playing violin helped me learn to sing out—in addition to a great voice teacher and stepping up to the mic repeatedly before I was fully ready. 

My story is one of reinvention and renewal. I bet yours is too.   

Join me on this musical adventure and let know what you think.  

*How have you reinvented yourself? When did you last sing? How are you using your voice? 

All the best—with gratitude, 

Joy 

Note of Inspiration: The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron is a powerful guide to “discovering and recovering your creative self”. Designed as a twelve-week program, this book is full of exercises, activities and wisdom.

Joy Zimmerman is a soulful singer-songwriter known for compelling vocals, inventive songs, and captivating performances. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is currently working on “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music.  Joy is a multi-instrumentalist whose eclectic music might be best described as folk rock with extra helpings of other favorite genres. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and nine Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded three albums in Nashville and two in Kansas City.

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com