Sunday, February 27, 2011

photo by revival art studios

Love Shines CD Release Concert
April 16, 2011
Matsqui Auditorium Abbotsford

I want to sing.
This is the message that came up from my core that day 
12 years ago
when I stood on the street corner of North Decatur Road and Clairmont in Atlanta, Georgia.
I had been asked 'what do I want'? two weeks earlier by a professional trying to help me deal with my deep depression.  I was dumbfounded by the question.
I had no answer.
all I could think of was what other people would say.
I had lost my voice.  I didn't know who I was or what I wanted.
I didn't know my own heart any more.  I was asleep.
I held this question throughout my days and nights and to my great surprise, this childhood longing emerged that day as I waited for a cross-walk sign.
I paid attention....and auditioned for a community choir.  it was the beginning of finding myself again.  My voice was soft and weak....frail.  But I sang with this choir for 3 years and gradually grew stronger.
It has been a journey - to find my voice...a long, long healing journey.
This concert is a celebration of that journey.
I invite you to join me as I sing.
I want to share these songs with you and with as many people as I can.

Friday, February 25, 2011

you.....are on my mind

February 24 - yesterday.  Was and is a big date now for the Hardy family.  3 years ago yesterday, my nephew Trevor was killed...   hit by a drunk driver.  He was just approaching his 19th b-day.We gathered last night at his parents, Stephanie and Arwit Dueck to celebrate his life and remember him. It was a great time.  But of course filled with pain as well.  

And today....February 25 is the 11th month anniversary of the death of my nephew Christian, 17 years old...son of my brother Randy and his wife Ingrid.  We are approaching the 1 year in March and part of me can't believe that he has been gone this long. 

For both of these families, they have had to face shocking loss, unbearable grief and the choice of how to now live.  To choose LIFE in the midst of such sadness and loss takes incredible courage and dignity and strength.  To observe this in people you love is truly inspiring.

The question has come to me - how will you then live?  How will we all live?
There is a quote by St. Irenaeus that has come to reside deep within me - 

'The glory of God is a human being fully alive'

To be fully alive is perhaps the best answer I can choose to be present, to choose life, to choose gratefulness, to choose to take risks in following dreams and fully how I can say to these two boys I love.......Trevor & are on my mind

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Journey into Gratefulness
'Do you think this just another day in your life? 
 It's not just another day.  It's the one day that is given to you. 
It's given to you.  
It's a gift.
It's the only gift that you have right now.
And the only appropriate response is
Brother David

I am inspired every time I take the time to listen to Brother David and his invitation to a daily life of gratefulness and to be present - to fully engage with what is right now.
What am I especially grateful for today?

amazing friendships
dreams being realized
generosity of strangers and loved ones

Saturday, February 19, 2011

photography by revival art studio
a tribute to my mom.....
This week my dad turned 80 and I wrote a bit about him.  But now I also want to write a bit about my mom and what I am so grateful for in my mother and how these elements have influenced my life and this Love Shines CD.
As a child one of my best memories of my mom is following her through the woods of Harrison Hot Springs.  She would go many Saturdays into the woods to collect ferns, moss, pussywillows and wildflowers in a huge basket she would carry with her while my brother Randy and I trailed behind.  At home she would turn these wild elements into enormous displays of nature (and works of art) that would greet people at church the following morning.  As my brother and I would follow mom in the woods I remember sometimes being afraid of wild animals.  There were stories of bears and cougars around Harrison and I was terrified of meeting my end along a lonely forest trail.  But my mother seemed to have no concerns such as these - she not only walked in the woods, she marched in them as if she owned them.  My mother loves the  outdoors and has never been one to show much fear.  If she wants to go somewhere, let nothing stand in her way....even a bear.   Mom has also spoken lovingly of her childhood in the prairies and walking out in the open spaces by herself.   I don't think she was afraid then either -  she loved and still does being outside in nature - and celebrating the beauty that she finds.  She has built enormous gardens, made special places for birds to come, and makes an effort to go walking outdoors as many days of the year as her health and the weather allow.
I think mom's love of the outdoors got into my skin and down into my bones.  Breathing that wondrous fresh air every day, looking at the amazing mountains around me in the Fraser Valley, and spending regular times walking in the woods has become like my daily cup of could I survive without it?  ( I definitely CANNoT survive without my morning coffee!)
Mom - thanks for your enthusiasm for the beauty that surrounds us and having the eyes to see it and appreciate it and for taking me into it.
There are many more things I can write about my mom - but that is for another day and another blog :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011


Well.....a major step has been taken and the Matsqui Auditorium has been booked for a LOVE SHINES CD release event on Saturday, April 16th at 7:30 pm.
Tickets and posters will start going out next week - but I wanted to announce the date today to let people start to know.
More info to follow next week!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Song Stories #11
The Journey of Being Known - and the story of the bent over woman

photography by Revival Art Studios
Today Shaw Cable is airing a segment on me, my career of teaching piano, and the journey into my own music.  I have watched the clip twice now before anyone else will see it.  Part of me is terrified for anyone to watch this.  The camera comes very close to my face - revealing all my imperfections!  If beauty is skin deep - then I want to run and hide!!!!  I've struggled often with my appearance ( as many of us do!) ....and it is intimidating to allow the public to come so close to me.  However, a comment has been ringing in my head that a close friend spoke to me last week:  ' Cathy, trust your presence.'  What kind words - and words that bring me back to truth - that it is our essence that we bring to each other and that is truly 'beautiful'.
To know our own inner 'beauty' is a difficult journey for most of us - it sure has been for me.  My inner heart has been 'bent over'.  One day when I was struggling in particular with my life and how my heart was feeling - I went deep into the woods of Mission for a walk.  I poured out my heart there.  And then I saw this big stick and felt compelled to take hold of it and walk with it.  As I walked with this stick, these words poured over me; 'Rise Up Woman- Rise UP'.  Wow - to be called to rise up - lift my face to the sky and stand tall - when I sure didn't feel like it!  But it was a call to me - and I had a choice in how to respond.  I have realized at times it is almost more comfortable to stay 'bent over'.  I am less visible there, I can allow self-pity there, I am not responsible there - I remain a victim.  When I lift my face up and stand tall - I take my place and bring my presence.  This is terribly frightening - to be fully present.  But I am learning it is also a great gift.  It is a gift to myself, to others and to the One who gave me breath.  To live small and bent over is to disregard the gift of Life that has been given.  To embrace this Life in me - means saying YES to being fully alive and allowing others to come close to that Life in me....and allowing you to see me on Shaw Cable!!!
You will see my imperfections - but hopefully you will also feel my 'presence'....which doesn't have an image factor value placed on it - which is incredibly freeing.

Here is an excerpt of the words to the song that is on the Love Shines album that came out of that experience in the woods;

Rise Up  (and it is the black soul woman in me who sang this song - you will see!)

when my heart was troubled, I went to the woods to pray
when my heart was troubled, I went to the woods to pray
In my darkness You sang to me - woman, I have set you free
Take off the chains of sorrow, remove the veil of fear
find you courage, find your strength
lift your voice and stand up straight - Rise, I'm calling you to rise

rise up woman, rise up
rise up woman rise
rise up woman, rise up
rise up woman rise

there is a Gospel story from Mark 13 where Jesus healed a woman who was 'bent over'. He broke all the social taboos by speaking to her, inviting her to stand with the men and also touching her.  I love, love, love this story and it has also become my story in this song.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy 80th Birthday Dad 174637_193084610709857_4691640_n.jpg
Stories for Love Shines - the blessings from my father.....

My father turns 80 today.  It is a huge milestone to reach 80 years of living.  Dad has experienced cancer for the first time this past year and gone through 2 surgeries but is coming out strong.  He has been determined to live life to the full and has stayed active in any way he can.
As I have reflected on who my dad is, I am grateful for many qualities he has.  One quality that has been a real inspiration to me is his love of staying physically healthy and strong. He learned to ski in his 40s and continued that sport until last year - he hopes to hit the slopes again.  He plays tennis, bikes, and loves a vigorous round of ping pong.  His activities have put him in the top percentile of his age group with health and given him a wonderful quality of life.
Another gift my father gave me was his own journey in following his dreams.  After being a pastor for many years and then a counsellor, he decided to go back to college and become an ESL teacher.  To make a decision like this at 65 years of age takes a lot of courage, sense of adventure and determination.  To pursue following the Love shines project - I have had to face the fear and thought in my head - I AM TOO OLD - it is TOO late for me to dream.
But knowing that dad kept dreaming about new things and then trying them out has been an encouragement to me in my own life to take risks and to try.
Perhaps the greatest gift he has given me that has influenced my life and is truly a part of the Love Shines album. The gift my father gave me is his life of prayer.  As a child, if I wanted to find my father, I would look for him in his home office.  Many, many times I would silently open the door to find my father on his knees by his office chair.  He would be holding his head in his hands and all was still and quiet.  As a child and teen I knew that my father greatly valued his spiritual journey and that it was the centre of all the decisions he made.  He sought through prayer to find strength, direction and wisdom for his role in the community and his personal life.
One way that dad pursued his life of prayer would be to go away for personal silence at retreats throughout the year.  It would be time set apart from schedules and demands and would be filled with time to listen and to rest.
It has been a discovery for me in my 30s that this practice of time set in silence is a powerful gift.  These times for me have become like anchors in my life....setting my course and giving me stability.  It is a gift to know that my father also lived this way and maybe without realizing it, set an example of a lifestyle of prayer.

Happy Birthday Dad - thanks for all you are in my life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

photo by Darrell Lecorre
Song Stories #10
Love Shines

This song has a long and continually emerging story - I will share some of it here.
It was the last day of recording the 'trust...inspirations from taize' CD (fall 2008) when I was in the studio with Philip. We were working on the last song and I remember thinking to myself that I had just used up every last drop of material I had - and there would be nothing left after this moment.  Philip received a phone call then and so I took a break and lay on the floor in the studio and rested.  In that moment, light shone through the window onto my face.  As I received the light coming to me, the first part of the Love Shines song just came to me.  I was so gripped by the simple melody and simple lyrics that when Philip did get off the phone and we had to get back to work, it was hard to concentrate.  So, Philip helped me by recording a few lines of what I was hearing so I would remember it later and come back to work on it.  And that is what I did and how the song became a song.  It became a sign of hope to me that my songs were not yet over and that song-writing days were still in the works for me.  I had dreams of embarking on my own and creating a Love Shines album - but it seemed like a daunting task.
In early March of 2010 I went to see my friend Christina Kautz in Florida.  As I walked into her home, she had all this imagery of stars and moons.  Immediately I wanted to sing for her the Love Shines song, but I didn't have my ukulele and she didn't have a piano - and so I let it go.  Then bizarre moments started to happen!  She was planning on taking me to a house concert with Victoria Vox, who I didn't realize at the time is a uke musician who was flying in for this event.  Victoria flew in a day early and we happened to run into her.  I found out she played uke and she graciously showed her instrument to me and I asked if I could play Christina Love Shines.  Victoria listened as I played and then told me about a Ukelele compilation album happening and the cut off day for entries was in 2 days and she thought this song would be perfect.  So, she asked me to sing it again and she recorded it on Garage Band on her MAC laptop and then we sent off the application.  Love Shines was accepted for this uke album, Song Still Remains,  which came out later in 2010 and thus the 'single' became born which helped me continue to dream about the larger project.
Just before I was to professionally record the single with Philip, my dear nephew Christian died.  I was so devastated that I cancelled the recording.  I just didn't know how I could do it.  But after two days, I realized that Chris would have wanted me to sing and to do my best and to bring the message that Love Shines.  So, I called Philip back and told me this, 'of course you need to do this Cathy.  This is exactly what you need to do.'  So, I recorded this song in the midst of intense funeral preparations and sang this at Chris's funeral.  I will never forget that moment.
So - this song is full of story - joy and heartache.....all of life.

here is an excerpt of the words:

Starlight shine on me

Moonlight shine on me

Sunlight shine on me

Source of all light shine down
Source of all light shine down 
Light shines and darkness flees
Source of all light shine down
Source of all light shine down
Source of all light shine down on me

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Song Stories #9

It was the afternoon the day of Myron Berg's funeral that Philip Janz, Boris Sichon and I were working on the song Prayer - which is a chant I wrote this past year.  Boris plays the didgeridoo as a low drone while I sing the chant overtop.  The low drone takes me to ancient sounds...sounds I have heard from other cultures and time periods.  It was a 'moment' during recording when Philip and I looked at each other and each expressed the same thing - 'I was thinking of Gillian'.  Gillian is the wife of Myron, who stood and expressed such deep love for her husband that very morning at his funeral which Philip and I both attended.  So, Gillian, you were on our minds and hearts as we recorded these sounds and words and as you choose each day to 'breathe'.  But I hope these are words that we can all resonate with - we all have a choice each day how we will choose to live.
In the video above, you can get a taste of the world music that Boris has in his fingertips.    At about the 4.30 minutes mark you can hear him play the didgeridoo which we have used on this  piece.  
Here is an excerpt of the words.......

As I breathe in a new day before me
I breathe in Life

Fill me with courage to face the unknown
I breathe in Life
Fill me with wisdom for each step ahead
            I breathe in Life

Deepen my roots that I may taste joy
Deepen my trust that I may know peace
            I breathe in Life
            I breathe in Life 

excerpt from Prayer from the Love Shines CD

Friday, February 04, 2011

My Daily Woods - My Daily Bread
So, since I've been talking about my woods a lot - I thought I'd take you right into them. February 1st was a beautiful sunny day and so here is a little clip from my walk that day.
It is hard to really explain what these woods have come to mean to me, but I will try to express as best I can what I have learned and absorbed from this beautiful place.
 Life is beautiful - when I take time to really look...and take in the sky, the mountains, the trees, the eagles.....there is so much beauty.  I am invited to celebrate this beauty. It is a gift for us all.
If I am able, I long to absorb this beauty and carry it within me.  The openness of the sky, the strength of the mountains, the dignity of the trees, the playfulness of the birds.
When I walk with Indie in the woods, she teaches me to be present in the moment.  No use thinking about yesterday, or worrying about tomorrow.  Right now, there is a stick to chew and a trail to run on.  let's enjoy NOW!  There is something about being fully present to the moment that is full of joy.  It has been a hard place for me to find, but a dog always lives there it seems! So, Indie is my teacher in finding the present moment and leading me to gratefulness.
This week I brought two camera crews into my woods!
Jason Brown from Revival Art Studios was shooting pictures for the Love Shines CD project.  His photography has won many awards and is absolutely captivating.  I am so honoured that Jason and Darcie are adding their talent to this project.  You will see some of these wood shots on the CD Jacket!
Shaw Cable also came this week for an interview!  They interviewed me about my work and this will be aired in the next couple of weeks - will be posting more about that!  We ended out time with Shaw Cable following me out to the woods!  

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Eagles and Ukeleles and Zip Lines
June 2010 I was at Whistler and facing a huge fear of heights as I was strapped in the harness for the longest and highest zip-line in North America.  It is called, 'The Eagle'.  After you are buckled in, you have to walk down some steps and then basically leap into the open air trusting that the harness will not break because if it does, you are 20 stories above ground, going over a huge gorge between two mountains.  I was so freaked out.  I went up and down the stairs about 3 times and wanted to back out.  Finally I realized that the only thing holding me back was fear itself.  I decided to trust the harness and trust the guy that put me in the harness! And jump!  I screamed all the way across the gorge!  I'm quite a chicken I guess - but no, actually in that moment...I declared myself an 'eagle'!  I was 'flying'!!
As I stepped out with the Love Shines dream this fall, the feeling from that zip-line kept coming back to me...and I realized I needed the same courage as I had in that moment - the courage of the 'eagle' to leap off of what was familiar and 'fly'.  I found this artwork on Pender Island by Christian Riese Lassen, which then became symbolic for me as I entered the recording.  I have looked at this art every day in my office and have asked for 'courage to fly'.
Last week, my new ukelele came.  I am really, really pumped about this uke.  It is a very good looking instrument - I mean no embarrassment at all about this baby!  I thought, maybe I should name this thing!  So, I picked up the label that came on the uke and on it was the word, 'Aquila'.  I decided to look it up on Google.  
To my shock, the definition of Aquila is:
'EAGLE' in Latin!
It is also a constellation - and the song that I play the uke on is the 'Love Shines' - all about starlight!  Isn't that CRAZY?????

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Singing with Rebecca; 
Winter is Over
Song Stories #8 for Love Shines

When I was a young girl, I loved to sing. I would often sing alone on Saturday mornings in the parish church that was on the same property as my home.  It was my job to dust the pews and window ledges but instead of working, I most often swirled my dust cloth around and watched the dust particles dance in the sunlight that streamed through the yellow stained glassed windows.   As I danced with the dust particles I sang. Those are some of the most precious moments of my childhood.   My singing was hidden to most, except for my well-intentioned father, the one who heard me in these moments.  He would ask me to be quiet as he prepared his sermon on the other side of the wall in his office.  A child can so easily be overlooked in the area of their greatest longing.  It has been a long journey back to find this girl inside of me, the girl who loved to sing.  She became buried under a lifetime of not really knowing how to listen to her own heart.  However,  I have found her again and the passion to sing has been reborn in me in a profound way.  When people hear me sing, they assume I've been singing all my life. I have to tell them - no, it has been a long journey to find my voice and to let it out again.

Rebecca Sichon is a 9 year old friend of mine - she's also a student of mine, studying singing and piano.  I love her dearly and I love seeing her passion for music.  I have seen how she feels music deeply and loves to express it through her voice.  She is emotional and expressive.  She has a heart to communicate ideas through music.  I want to encourage her to follow her heart, to listen to the passion she has and to fly with her dreams of singing.  I think you can see why this is important to me!
It was my delight to include Rebecca on the Love Shines recording.  you will hear her voice on a new version of 'Winter is Over'.  It couldn't be a more perfect song for Rebecca to join me on - here is an excerpt of the words:

the winter, long winter
is over
the winter, long winter
is over
sing, sing sing

winter is past, a new day dawns at last
hope for tomorrow
an end of sorrow
beauty for ashes
springtime has come

excerpt from 'Winter is Over' from the Love Shines CD

Rebecca has recorded a few other songs that were written together with her sister Natalie.  To hear some of these songs, go to:  Rebecca & Natalie