A song from my album Unpainting Roses

It’s a long pull away from home, how we pull away and pull along

Use her for our own gain, push each other and go insane

Streets filled with moving body parts, fancy hairpins, popcan grocery carts

Doors are flinging, coat tails swinging, diamonds flashing, knuckles bashing

Where are we going? How are we going?

Which way did you say we were going?

What are we running from, what do we do?

I don’t know, we were following you

But all together we are one, one mislead confusing one

Try to reach out, or try not, voices dormant and left to rot

There is a love, there is a hate, was it supposed to be this way?

Where a man starves to death, outside your white house picket fence?

It’s a long pull away from home, how we pull away and pull along

Use him for our own gain, push each other and go insane

I wrote this song in 2004 and seems to apply just about every day in every way. There is a political tone here yes, but the idea for this song came when a friend and I were streaking in the highschool football field at night. We were running as fast as we could and yelled, “What are we running from?!” Man, I remember laughing my head off at the idea of both of us running because the other person was running, but having no idea what we were running from.

Isn’t that just how life is though? We hear a blip here and a tweet there and think we have enough to run on and then start spreading news like fire. How irresponsible really, but we all do it. The media stokes the fire to stoke the economy and we’re all a bunch of headless chickens with a little more tax money burning up our pockets.

By nature, I am not a political person, and I resent that I’ve been forced into speaking up about issues in my extreme group of friends. By that I mean extreme conservatives and extreme liberals. The minute you go extreme, you have decided to turn off your own agency and follow your team no matter what. That’s absolutely what America is ill with at the moment. Balanced friends are rare and it makes me sad.

Think of that, no matter what? Guys. That is willingly giving over your agency. That is God’s greatest gift, and the the fundamental value our country was founded on. As a human and as your friend, I would hope that before you start running, you are clear on what you’re running from. And more importantly, what you’re running for.

Today is the kind of day

When all that’s left to say, is oh well

Oh well, anyway

Come sit down, breath and sigh

It might be hard, you don’t want to cry

But if you let go and breath again

You’ll know this is not the end

The wind, the wind blows me around

I can’t seem to stand up or sit down

My hair is all over in my face

I’m running, I’m running, I’m running

I’m running, I’m running, I’m running

And I can’t win the race

Oh well, anyway

I wrote this song back in 2003, but it’s relevance keeps surprising me over and over again. Just when you think life is gonna be okay, another challenge, another storm, another slap to the face. All in the name of keeping you humble, right? And also, how come it always feels like it’s the last time?

This thing about getting caught up in the race, letting ourselves get entangled in comparison and competition and being the best and current and all caught up with WHATEVER is a total sham. We really badly need to sit down and breath and find our own center. I can’t help but wonder if that’s why God gave us a little covid kick in the butt.

Find out what’s really important to you, and be there. Don’t be where people tell you to be, be where your absolute heart of hearts tells you to do. It’s okay to disappoint people and retract from their expectations. In fact, it’s completely necessary for you do this. Your self worth and dignity are only useful if they’re intact.

Also, this song may seem like I don’t support a good cry every now and then. On the contrary, this song is validating that sometimes we become so caught up running around that crying feels impossibly inconvenient. That sucks, and it’s not healthy. You have to cry sometimes. To release the fumes, let that stuff outta there. Otherwise it stays and grows and becomes loud and fussy and toxic. We may try to make quiet with numbing addictions, but it will just continue to grow.

Why not just let it go?

Let go of feeling like you can’t feel. Let go feeling like you have to be perfect. Let go of trying to measure up to measurments that aren’t yours. Let go and find yourself.

Sit down, breath and sigh

This album encompasses much of the pain and sadness from my childhood, there never was an intention to paint a rosy picture. The sentiment behind Unpainting Roses is about the meticulous effort required to remove red paint (secrets, lies, and unrealistic expectations) from delicate rose petals. The Queen of Hearts insists that the roses be painted red because she wants to be royal and powerful, whereas Alice appreciates the beauty of a humble white rose.

The queen sees a plain white roses as weak, so she tries to cover it up. However, it was the heavy, synthetic red paint that made them weak. Reducing their ability to grow, breath, and pollinate, not to mention their deadened fragrance and glow. We all battle with these suffocating expectations. Whether from a parent, our culture, or our own imagination we all battle our inner Queen of Hearts. Our goal is to be like the Alice I imagine, who willfully disobeys the orders and even gets friends to help her carefully remove all the paint from these once pure roses.

The purpose of this album, for me, was to go through the painful things in my own life, and carefully remove the facade. A facade that happened to cause a lot more darkness than the original pain. Many of the songs are abstract letters to myself. I’m the girl who “Sits Alone”, “Your Jail” is actually my jail, and those dark blue “Studio Eyes” are mine (even though my eyes are a yellowish brown). I’ve learned that unresolved hurt thrives in the dark, getting more dangerous the longer it’s left alone. Unveiled in the fresh air, the menacing monarch’s power vanishes. What a relief, and also magic. You’re free to run in the sun.

Writing and releasing this album felt like a true release. The resolve I felt afterward created a whole new flood of songs. This time they were humming tunes of light and love. My hope is that the new songs will heal hearts in the same way they have healed mine.

As you listen to Unpainting Roses, consider it a dusty letter from the past, and look forward to the fresh morning rays of a Saturday Sunrise.