As we approach the darkest time of the year, my thoughts go to more spiritual things. I’ve started ruminating about spirit animals lately. I always thought that my spirit animal was a rabbit because I have always been so timid and easily frightened away. Now, those who know me well, know this to be true. Those of you who only know me through my music or teaching may find that hard to believe. My secret is … I am a very good actor and play a part when in public. I think I do it well, if I do say so myself. However, in normal social situations, I have to work hard not to just go run and hide. Luckily, I’ve had some good teachers who showed me how to function gracefully in those situations. Recently, I’ve come to realize that I am less rabbit-like and much more bird-like. I’m certainly not flighty, but I do fly away easily when startled. And … I sing. When I’m outdoors singing, many birds come by and sit in the trees nearby singing with me.
The funny thing is that I was terrified of birds after seeing Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” I was home alone at night as an adolescent watching it on television. Back then, there weren’t many scary movies around, so we were much more easily frightened by films than kids are today. It took me years to overcome that fear, but now I don’t mind them flying around me – except for seagulls. They still make me shiver. But as for other birds, I love watching them, and I love singing with them.
After thinking about this quite a lot, I finally took one of those silly online quizzes, “What is your spirit animal?” I got a hawk. Reading it, I realized how accurate much of it was. I also realized how much I would love to be able to fly, soaring above the earth, looking down at all of the activity below. I’m not sure I’d enjoy being out in the weather all the time, living in a nest and all that goes along with that, but I’d love the rest of it. I also remembered how many times birds have appeared in my dreams. From now on, I’ll be paying closer attention to what they are telling me. So, how about you, have you ever wondered about your spirit animal?
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. The summer got very busy at the end with my birthday, two of my children’s birthdays and the start of a new semester of music classes to organize and teach. After writing about the grueling but adventurous cross-country trip that brought me to upstate New York, I think I needed a break from the Recollections of a Hippie Mama as well.
I get very reflective around my birthday. I often think about the past and where I’ve ended up. Some of you already know that I have spent my life in 20-year increments. My first 20 years were spent growing up in Connecticut with and around my parents. The second 20 years was spent adventuring with my husband, Paul Cavanaugh, who has since passed on. My third 20 years was with Richard Kavanaugh who has also passed on. Now I’m on my fourth 20-year adventure with another wonderful man.
It’s easy to look back on past relationships bitterly, if they didn’t work out the way we’d hoped or planned. I’m no different in that regard. I’ve had lots of resentments about the past but have tried hard to look past them. All of my former relationships, including the one with my parents and siblings were difficult, but I had a revelation that they all led me to this wonderful place here and now. Each one taught me something very valuable.
My life with my parents taught me to be strong. I always maintained my outspokenness and independence in the face of brutality and harshness. I was so anxious to leave that life behind that it was not hard to decide to sell everything I owned and take off hitchhiking across the country. However, my parents also taught me music, writing, gardening and more. I got so much from them that I didn’t realize until later in my life and, in spite of the hardships, I’m thankful.
My husband helped me escape from that first life and was the first person who made me feel loved. He taught me survival techniques on the road, such as sleeping in clothing donation boxes to stay safe and dry. He gave me my three children and stuck around to help raise them in spite of his never-ending wanderlust. After we divorced, he remained my best and one of my oldest friends. He also taught me a lot about music. Although I didn’t start playing string instruments until after we parted, my rhythm guitar playing style comes from listening to him for so many years.
The next man in my life taught me how to be a performer. He introduced me to many new styles of music and is responsible for me playing all of the instruments that I now play. He encouraged me to plunge into music full-time and had limitless faith in my abilities, unlike the important people in my past. Because of my time with him, I was able to conquer my debilitating shyness and finally be in the world with complete confidence, which is something I would never have thought possible before. He also came into the relationship with older children and grandchildren with whom I became very close and still cherish.
I like to remind myself that even the people who have hurt me teach me important things and have come into my life for a reason. I’m sometimes referred to as a “serial monogamist.” It’s very true. Once you’re in my life, as far as I’m concerned, it’s forever. The relationship may change, but it doesn’t end. I’ve learned to accept all the trials as learning experiences and value every one of them.