Sunday, January 24, 2021

Finding more of my voice through song

Graciously re-posted from Gurze Publications: Returned a few weeks ago from the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) conference in South Carolina where I had the honor of presenting with Robyn Hussa and Jenni Schaefer. It was truly a “mountain-top” experience for me. One of our goals was to be sure to give the professionals who would hear us over Saturday’s luncheon some creative ideas that they could use to inform their work.

Jenni had actually done a bit of research on the topic via an informal query to her Facebook friends. One of the responders told her of the power inherent in putting her written words to familiar tunes. A song can often move us in ways that spoken words cannot. To illustrate this concept, Jenni suggested that we choose words of Andrea’s that could fit the familiar tune of “Amazing Grace.” I thought this was an incredible idea–I cried when it was first suggested–but I insisted they choose the words as I did/do not have their phenomenal ability of “hearing” prose as song.

I emailed to Robyn and Jenni a number of lines from Andrea’s writing and they chose one of my favorites from a poem Andrea wrote shortly before her death, “I wrap myself in my arms and hold onto this gift to the world.” When we were finally able to rehearse our presentation together in SC, we discovered that a second line was needed as it felt awkward to repeat this line twice to make it fit with the rhythm of “Amazing Grace.” I did a search through my files for the entire piece that Andrea wrote and discovered that the next line was as beautiful as the first, “A gift that is mine to give but not my right to destroy.” After returning home from IAEDP, Robyn kindly put together a video from a couple of the clips Tom took during our talk. I share it with you here:

I had planned to just listen to Jenni and Robyn sing this beautiful tribute to our daughter, but at each rehearsal (we were singing 4 songs–3 of them together) Jenni and Robyn graciously encouraged me to sing with them. I decided I could do it as long as I did not wear a microphone during the singing. I love to sing and can usually match pitch but singing in public and on stage was an absolute first for me. Jenni and Robyn supported me beautifully through this “first” … it was validating on so many levels and brings a smile to my face whenever the memory pops into my mind. Performing in this way was a step in sharing a part of my voice that has been silenced for decades–each time we sang I could feel my soul soar higher.

Thank you Robyn and Jenni for the amazing gift you gave me…

Until next time,


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