It’s Monday – back to the grind. It was a bit harder to get out of the bed this morning and start doing all of the Monday things. You know, those things that make your world go ‘round.
It’s always harder to get started the morning after a meaningful event. Whether it’s a celebration of life, or just a simple gathering with friends and family, when we feel suspended in time and hoping it will go on and on, we know that when the party’s over we’ll all go back to our regular lives.
Now, think about those people whose lives are fraught with danger, cautiously walking through each day like they’re stepping on eggshells, doing all they can to not upset the beast, and then sleep vigilantly through the night, always with one eye open. What do they wake up to? I want to believe that they wake up to the hope of stepping out into the light and feeling free. There’s a freedom in knowing that abusive person can’t reach you, and that they won’t hurt you ever again.
That’s when you transition from victim to survivor. That’s Free.
left to right: Rameen Shayegan, Dina Hall, Todd Schied, Andrew Portz, Mitch Shelly, Charlie Mark
(not pictured: Alex Radus, Jordyn Kenzie)
We ended last night’s two-hour Ramble with two encores, the last of which was Free. I wrote the song many years ago, after my own experience of stepping out into the light. The song was originally created as a contribution for a show supporting domestic abuse services, and it eventually grew into a rock anthem for survivors. Some people deeply relate it to their own lives, and others hear it as man-bashing. But you can be sure I’ll always present the song as a personal celebration of freedom.
There are many stories of domestic abuse, but most all of them go unknown. Much of the abuse is invisible, or hidden from others. We don’t talk about these things over Sunday brunch, or cocktails on a Friday night. We don’t burden our children with the traumatic stress of their forebears. We do our best to put on a happy face, and we try to see goodness in others. It’s basic mindfulness, but it can be difficult sometimes.
For four years now, I’ve had the honor and the extreme pleasure of presenting a musical event as part of the Ice House Tonight series, and as part of the greater Bethlehem arts community. Each year my goal was two-fold – share a message of hope with the community, and raise money for a local human services organization.
It’s hard to believe that in this era of equality for all, we’re still faced with misogyny – social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, disenfranchisement of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. We’re making progress.
Believe it or not, it takes work to choose songs for a concert that don’t border on any or all of these concepts. And as a woman, it’s hard to market a show without exploiting any or all of these concepts. I make it a rule to stay away from terms like all-girl (women) or female vocalist (drummer, guitarist, engineer) in my descriptions, but that’s still an uphill battle in the media.
So, when I gathered my friends for the Ramble on the River, and we started choosing songs and arrangements, I knew immediately that I was surrounded by some of the most authentic, caring, sensitive, kind, respectful and loving musicians that I know. Someone once said to me, “you attract the best people”, but I don’t deserve the credit. I would say, “I’m attracted to the best people.”
When you walk with the best people, you walk in the light.
More video is on the Video page of this website.
Good news: We raised over $1700 for Turning Point of Lehigh Valley.
My love and gratitude to the musicians – Jordyn Kenzie, Alex Radus, Andrew Portz, Rameen Shayegan, Todd Schied, Mitch Shelly, Charlie Mark – and their families. Thank you to everyone who came to the show, and shared the experience with friends. Thank you to Phil Forcelli and the crew at City Entertainment – Ginny and Sam. Thank you to Doug Roysdon, Ice House Tonight, and the City of Bethlehem for providing an incredible venue for our artistic community.