Hello, friends. It’s New Song Day … the last New Song Day of this album project.
As you know, if you’ve been following along, this album is centered on doing personal work in the area of cultivating peace within myself and grabbing hold of my agency to act in the midst of difficult times.
WOW, am I grateful for having set myself on this course of exploration and personal discovery these last months. In particular because the circumstances I identified at the beginning as being those which were robbing me of my peace and making me feel powerless have only progressed in the time since. I’ve written more about that below.
I’m so, so thankful to have had the opportunity to sharpen my tools for navigating these times, and I’m grateful to you for coming along with and supporting me on this journey.
So … without further ado … here is the last song. It’s called “Good to Me.”
“Good to Me”
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This album project …
… is all about exploring how to realize both serenity and the power to act in difficult circumstances.
To make this album, I’m giving myself a series of journal prompts that help me dive into concepts like coping, powerlessness, acceptance, courage, and agency. My responses to those prompts become the source material for each new song.
(The writing about “Good to Me” that follows here will make most sense as a sequel to my first nine stops on this journey. If you need to catch up with where we’ve been so far, you’ll find the first 9 entries here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.)
A commitment to myself
Here are the prompts that guided me:
Having been through this journey, and having discovered tools to help me cultivate peace inside myself and access my agency to act, what can I say about where my peace and my power come from?
- What is the relationship between my circumstances and the source of my peace and my power?
- What is the relationship between other people and the source of my peace and my power?
- Who is responsible for my peace and my power?
I began this journey with the idea that I wanted to cultivate my peace and power during difficult times. But … how does this work apply to times that are not difficult?
- Can I describe a time in my life when circumstances were objectively good, but during which I was not experiencing peace in my spirit, nor a sense of my own power?
- How might doing this work have changed my experience during that time?
What commitment(s) to myself do I want to make here at the end of this journey, as I move into the future of my life?
It’s only ever up to me
The conclusion that all of this work brings me to is one simple, profound truth: my peace and my power will never come from anywhere other than inside of my own spirit, cultivated by the work that I show up to do for myself.
This is how I take care of myself.
This is how I can be good to myself.
No one else can do the work inside of me, to tend my spirit, but me.
Circumstances won’t bring me peace and power.
Another person can’t bring me it.
Even someone who loves me a lot, and who wants good things for me, can’t do it for me.
Realizing the peace that is mine,
and unlocking the power that is mine,
will always ever only be up to me.
If I want it, it’s my responsibility to create it, to grab hold of it.
It’s mine; but it won’t ever be given to me.
In all times
I began this journey with the intention of finding peace of mind and grabbing hold of agency in difficult times. But I’ve been reminded in the process that it is in all times that this work is relevant.
I’ve known plenty of days when my circumstances were good, where people in my life were treating me with love and kindness, and yet I experienced discontent inside my spirit, felt angst about my existence, was caught in a web of powerlessness … because I wasn’t showing up for myself in the ways I now know my spirit needs in order to have peace, and to be living in my power.
In the future, even when circumstances are good, or even if they become worse, my peace and my empowerment are always ever only up to me. Not dependent upon circumstances. Not dependent upon other people.
In this moment,
I’m holding in my thoughts
the incredible power of this work
to bring transformation to my spirit in good times and bad.
It brings to me a subtle, yet sublime, sense of possibility and hope.
My eyes widen, my breath deepens, and my heart swells
when I ponder what an awesome, open, joyful, loving,
courageous, bold, connected, beautiful life is mine
IN ALL TIMES
if I commit to continue doing the work to bring this goodness to my spirit.
I’m not a religious person, but this sounds divine.
Like heaven on earth.
A solemn oath
So, here I am. Standing with palms open, chest lifted, heart still.
I’m committing to myself …
… to adopt a new pattern.
… to name my struggles, fears, and worries when I feel them.
… to recognize things not in my power to change.
… to let go.
… to embrace the freedom I receive in acceptance.
… to pay close attention to my feelings, my needs, my values.
… to choose courage.
… to use my power to change the things I can.
… to seek out others who are doing their own work and living in their own
… to build power with those others.
… to stick with this work, in good times and in bad; even in the midst of struggle, chaos, pain, and hardship; and in those precious moments when the sea of my circumstances is calm.
I’m committing to myself that I will make these habits a part of my daily life, because I’m committing to being good to myself, and this is how I can be good to myself.
A healthy body requires daily attention in order for it to remain healthy — eating good food, moving, stretching, getting enough rest.
A peaceful spirit requires daily attention to remain peaceful, too — acceptance of what is, courage to change the things in my power to change, letting go of what needs to be released, standing in my power.
This is my oath:
“Shannon, dear one, I promise you:
I’ll be good to you.
I’ll be good to me.”
Wrapped in gratitude
In this moment, while I speak these words of commitment to myself, my heart is folded into deep, profound gratitude.
First, I have gratitude for the people in my life who modeled all of this for me before I knew how to have peace and power in my own life, and who showed me what’s possible.
I think specifically of Nancy, an elder member of the first Codependents Anonymous fellowship I was a part of in my early recovery. I saw her at the meetings every week. I heard my story in her story. But she had something I hadn’t yet known in my life up until that point: serenity.
I can close my eyes even now, and see her face as she sat in the circle of chairs. I can see the peace she’d cultivated in her spirit softening her eyes, playing around the upturned corners of her mouth, resting on her relaxed forehead. I can see the evidence of the ways in which she had shown up for herself — in her language, in her body, and in her story.
The gratitude I feel is centered on the idea that an ancillary outcome of her having been good to herself is that it helped to illuminate the path for me to discover my own peace and power. What a gift she gave me.
And second, I have gratitude for myself.
For choosing to take care of myself.
For showing up for myself.
For being good to me.
Now, more than ever
I started this album project in January 2022. At the outset, I identified rising fascism and climate change as the circumstances that were robbing me of my peace.
In the time since then, the progression of each of those circumstances has accelerated in ways more profound than I was prepared for — especially in the realm of rising fascism in the United States.
This last week, we experienced, for the first time in American history, the removal of legal protections for a fundamental human right. That has never happened here before. Up until how, our government has been in the (however infuriatingly slow) business of expanding protections for the inalienable rights we each have as people, not eliminating them.
But in the spaces where minority rule has been entrenched in our government by this rising fascist movement — spaces like the current United States Supreme Court — those with power are pulling out all the stops, in a rapidly-accelerating fashion, to force us all to adhere to immoral, undemocratic laws that enforce a social hierarchy that serves only their white christian fascist worldview.
This is a watershed moment. Although I’ve been aware of the threat for a while, I felt a significant shift — something of a tipping point — this past week. It’s terrifying, and so, so sad. Our country has the potential for so much more than the course these small-minded, dark-hearted, power-hungry fascists have in mind for us.
Over the course of history, in countries where those in power have reversed course from democracy, and turned toward fascism — turned down a road of removing protections for human rights — those countries decline, and fail.
I wish it weren’t so, but I expect that things may get worse here. I don’t say that lightly, nor to be alarmist; I’m just trying my best to face with clear eyes what is already here, and what’s been promised to come, directly from the mouths of the leaders of that movement themselves. I don’t know precisely what form that “worse” might take. But as it currently stands, the minority have entrenched their power enough that there isn’t any immediate remedy to their destructive actions.
When starting this project, I did not expect that I’d be required to confront so soon the possibility of fascism taking root here, nor that living in a society ruled by fascists might define my near and long-term future. I think I thought that it was a rising threat, but that somehow we’d pull through and defeat it. And … we might still! I hope we do.
But over the course of this project, and in the last couple of weeks in particular, I’ve found myself having to sit at the foot of the possibility that the future may, indeed, become even darker than it is now. And what am I going to do with myself then? How will I live? How will I define my own experience and presence in a world like that?
The answer that keeps coming back to me, again and again: keep doing my work. Cultivate my own peace. Grab hold of the power that is mine. Seek others who are doing the same. Stand together. Live with the dignity and beauty and freedom and serenity and power that ARE MINE, no matter the circumstances.
That’s my commitment to myself.
Other courageous people, in previous moments in history that were as difficult or worse than the moment we’re facing now, have managed to do it. They have set an example of the gorgeous possibilities intrinsic to the nature of humanity. And if they could do it, so can we.
In the near term, while I allow myself to feel fully and to listen to all of the feelings of fear, worry, and rage that have come with this devastating moment for our democracy, I’m also assessing the ways in which I have power to act in practical ways.
Here are some:
- Giving direct aid to organizations helping people to access the medical care they need in states where legal protection of their right to bodily autonomy is being denied. Jamie and I have given money via this organization: National Network of Abortion Funds.
- Committing myself to help mobilize voters in the 2022 Congressional election, in order to help keep a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and to expand the Democratic majority in the Senate with new, pro-choice Senators who will vote to eliminate the filibuster, codify reproductive rights, and expand the Supreme Court to correct for the current state of its undemocratic illegitimacy.
Since our home state already has two Senators like this, Jamie and I will be working phone banks for the Senate race in Wisconsin. We’re already connected with democracy advocates in Wisconsin because we volunteered for that state in the 2020 Presidential election. We got ourselves connected with that work via Vote Save America.
- Being good to myself. By doing my work, every day. By showing up for myself to protect my spirit, tend my mind, cultivate peace, and embrace my power. And by joining hearts and arms with others who are doing the work, too.
If you’re one of the people doing this work — and I know that many of you reading this are — thank you. It’s a deep honor to be walking in this time with you, and I’m so grateful that we have each other to turn to.
Thank you, thank you, thank you … for being on this journey with me these past months. I’m having all kinds of feelings about being done with this phase of this project. I imagine I’ll write to you again in a couple weeks to tell you more … as well as to fill you in on what’s next with this work, because there is more to come.
Until then, we’re going to take a little break, exhale, and rest our spirits. I’ll talk to you again soon. ♥️
Love and promises — shannon