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.