Friday, August 1, 2014


The answer to the above question is a resounding YES.  In the 1960s and '70s, there were three glorious, hot summer months, filled with friends, summer camp, swimming lessons, crafting, visiting the bookmobile, playing basketball, and using our imaginations.  Oh, and not to forget the merit badges worked on and earned by my brother and his scout friends...and the Camp Fire Girl honor beads I earned with a vengence during free-flowing summer months.

First days of school each year were exciting (and terrifying) for me.  I can remember, even in the earliest grades, looking in the mirror and saying, "This is the year I'm going to be liked.  This is the year I'll fit in.  This is the year I'll be the person that people wanna hang out with...".  And every year, after the first day of school, I thought, "I bet next year will be my year."  That said, there was something even more pressing on my mind in kindergarten and first grade...

I was the baby in a family filled with love and kindness.  I do not remember my mother EVEN ONCE raising her voice at us.  I had never even heard a raised voice, until I went to school.  The nuns at my first elementary school in Stillwater, Oklahoma were loud-speaking, easily exasperated women.  At least my first grade teacher was.  My mother recalled that Sister whatever-her-name-was scheduled an appointment with her, complaining that I would shake like a leaf every time she came near me.  I constantly complained of a sore throat (brought on my tension and nerves) and the doctor finally gave me a placebo to take every day, that my mom had to bring to school at lunch, to get me to stay for the whole day.  WOW, RIGHT?  I was terrified of that nun, and the world outside of my home! 

But what if I had been a PRESCHOOLER?  Granted, not all children are as protected as I was in my little world as a child.  That said, I've worked as a preschool musician at Baton Rouge early learning centers for the better part of eleven years, and I can tell you that some kids just have a hard time letting go of mom and dad...and some moms and dads have an even harder time letting go of their little ones. 

I wrote this song, "Time to Play", about separation anxiety, from a different perspective.  Please watch this PRECIOUS video song, filmed, edited and produced by Daniel Lee of Boonelight Productions.  In case you're wondering, that is the producer himself on lead guitar and pizza box percussion!  Another special thank you to the children, teachers and parents of the Child Development Cooperative in Baton Rouge, LA, for starring in my lil video song.  Please pass this on to parents, grandparents, teachers...just pass it on to everybody, because it's really precious (I know I already said that) and it will make your day...Here's the link!

Wishing all of you a great rest-of-summer and an easy back-to-school transition for kids and parents alike!  Until next blog, peace and love to you...dorothy

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Tree of Soles in Ossun, LA...a place to lay your burdens down

I have these moments as a mother to grown sons that I'll always remember...first day of preschool, kindergarten graduation, first Scout summer camp, first time standing on the pitcher's mound, getting braces off, putting letter jackets on, graduating, getting that first job.  You get my drift.  A year ago, I think I topped them all, down a gravel road, at the base of a tree, in sleepy little Ossun, LA, in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country.

I'm no stranger to depression, and the apple did not fall far from the tree.  While both sons battle depression, my youngest son has fallen victim to depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as an internal manifestation of Tourette's Syndrome.  Yes, he takes medicines that do help, and there are alternative therapies, but at some point, you  have to accept your reality and strive for the most effective way to live inside this body that you inhabit.  Reading is one of his escape routes, and a book in the clearance section of a favorite store led us both on a life-altering excursion!

Let me back-pedal a bit...I've raised my kids in the Christian tradition.  I taught them prayers that I was taught as a child, including one en Francais.  We attended church regularly, including religion classes that were age-appropriate.  That said, depression, anxiety and OCD tend to muddy the waters.  How do you give your burdens to a loving God when your mind is constantly whirling in a million directions, second-guessing, questioning?  My life-long struggle, passed on to both of my sons...

Now, back to the book my son was reading...a travel book featuring off-the-beaten-path destinations in Louisiana.  One day trip caught his eye and spoke loudly to him.  He asked me to accompany him to the Tree of Soles in Ossun, LA (right outside of Lafayette), to lay his burdens down.  In a poignant gesture of faith, you bring shoes you've worn during a particularly burdensome point in your life and lay them at the base of the tree, or hang them from the tree.  At that point, you're asked to pray for peace.  

I will always remember how I felt, driving down this gravel road, when I finally spotted the 3 trees from the book.  I've had many spiritual experiences in my 56 years, but this was special.  We stopped the car, and my son picked up his black shoes he'd been wearing during a difficult year in his life, opened his door and slowly and methodically walked toward the middle tree, reading the sign welcoming him to the Tree of Soles.   I had brought shoes as well and joined him.  A million thoughts came to mind as I spotted baby shoes, cowboy boots, lady's pumps, tennis shoes...each telling a painful tale of struggle and an accompanying need for peace.  

We spoke no words.  I tearfully pondered the moments in life that had brought us both there.  Time stood still.  Slowly, my son found the perfect spot near the base of the middle tree for his shoes.  I followed suit.  Eventually we walked back to the car.  Still no words.  Just a quiet knowledge that we had, in truth, physically laid our burdens down.  What a powerful experience to share with my grown son as we both tried to faithfully lighten our loads.

I knew at that point that I needed to spread the word about the Tree of Soles.  A couple of months later, I asked my producer and videographer Daniel Lee to go with me to the tree and shoot some video.  (I had another burden to lay down as well.)  Turns out that many songs have flown through me, all because of the sleepy Cajun town and those 3 trees at the end of a gravel road.  I'd be so honored for you to watch.  I hope it moves you like it still moves me, whenever I watch it.  Here's the link:  

My prayer for you would be that each of you find your "tree of soles"...and that your burdens would be lightened. 

As always, until next blog entry, peace and love to you.