I am hoping I can sleep tonight; I've not had a good track record this week.

Tuesday night I was up all night. We have some major impending changes and Tuesday night was the night everything was solidified. I was at the point of drifting off to sleep many times, but was quickly jolted awake by my psychotic thoughts each time. I never did look at the clock, because I've learned not to torture myself with the "Omigosh, it's 4:48 and I'm should be sleeping!"

I didn't have insomnia until about five years ago. I think that's when my life as a lonely, isolated stay-at-home-mom began to change and I started to venture out into the world of people again. I began collecting friends and issues (and friends with issues) and other mental and emotional items like bits of yarn, and then I tried weaving them all together into a mismatched, wacky, frenetic quilt. I can make a pretty decent quilt, and match all the edges for the most part, but sometimes when I'm trying to sleep, I lay awake thinking about what a tangled mess I've actually made, and how I'll never be able to unravel the darn thing enough to actually make sense of it, and how everyone will laugh and laugh at my ugly, messy quilt. It tortures me -- not the whole thing, mind you, but the little, ugly, wiry ends that stick out and don't quite have a place to fit. When I'm least expecting it, I'll be jolted awake by a random, "What the heck was I thinking," or a, "I STINK at this," or, better (in my mom's voice), "Sarah, that's just stupid. You can't do anything right."

And once the self-flagellation starts, I am guaranteed to be up all night with variations on the theme. My quilt comes to life when I'm drowsing and devours me with its yarn-y teeth for six hours, and I get up at daylight bleary-eyed, headachey, and hungover.

I've tried everything the experts say to do: relaxation exercises, Valerian root, reading a book, watching TV, getting a drink, praying, journaling. None of them work. Actually, Tuesday night I took three Valerian roots, read, drank water, and watched TV all at the same time. I figured I'd condense four trips out of bed into one. It didn't work. I got up at 7:30 after finally falling asleep at 6:00, and my first word was, "Dangit."

So that was my Tuesday night.

Last night was better. I slept for most of the night, but David was "quilting" in his sleep last night, and he actually talks out loud to his quilt, so I was awakened several times to random speech and much thrashing around. I've learned to tuck earplugs under my pillow for such an occasion. I just wish they worked well enough to block out my thoughts when I need it. Or that we could coordinate our insomnia to fall on the same nights. Then we could have a virtual quilting bee.

Tonight will be better. I hope. With this looming threat of insomnia striking on any given night, I tend to approach bedtime with dread. I'll let you know how it works out.



I am not sure why it is innate in each one of us to idolize, or at our most mature state, to admire someone. Perhaps it is misplaced worship of our Creator: we were created to worship Him, and since we are fallen and have a difficult time worshipping Someone unseen, we turn our attention to those visible to us who portray to us the character of God we crave and admire.

When I was a child, I idolized Wonder Woman (actually, I still do, just in a more tongue-and-cheek fashion). I watched Lynda Carter every day. I pretended I was her in my room, spinning around till I was dizzy, hoping if I did it long enough that cool "pow" would happen and Id miraculously change into someone with superpowers and a cool lasso. My idol worship was immature and fanciful, yet there was something that attracted me to Wonder Woman her strength, her beauty, the fact that she always kicked the bad guys butts and had great comeback lines while doing so. She had it all, and I wanted that sort of confidence.

In Jr. High, Wonder Woman got relegated to the attic, and my idols were the girls I couldn't be: the girls who got to wear makeup in fifth grade, who had all the boyfriends, who were popular. I wanted to be them. They had it all confidence, poise, top position on the food chain, and everyone liked them. I wanted to be liked. Instead, I was the geek who got pinned down and fed baby food at parties. It was as if everyone around me got the joke but me.

When my dad died my thirteenth year, I didn't care about those girls anymore. I went inward, turned to God, found my confidence, and began to sing about it. And my idolization changed then, because I had learned to worship the only One who deserved to be worshiped. But I still had a few who I admired, mainly musicians who were doing what I felt I was called to do, and I modeled myself after them. They were the benchmark for me they represented the goal.

In college, after the typical disillusionment and honing and shaping and refining that typically happens when you are coming of age one thousand miles from home, I was flailing about wondering what the heck had happened to my dreams. The music I had always made wasn't doing it for me anymore; I knew there had to be something else. I was going through a lot of self-discovery, actually coming out of the roughest part of it all, and a friend of mine called one day to tell me about his recent jaunt on tour with Don Williams:

"Sarah, wow, you have to hear this amazing CD that I heard while I was on the road. It's an artist named Mary Black, and the CD is called 'Babes in the Wood,' and wow. It's incredible. The sound guy played it every night as the pre-show music. You have to come over and hear it!!!"

So one day while I was at my friends house, I gave Mary Black a listen. My world was instantly turned upside down. It was one of those CDs that comes at just the right time in your life, like you've been prepared for it your entire life, and it hits you right where you are. I was blown away. I "got" it. I was spellbound. It touched me to the core her voice, her delivery, the songs -- it was everything I'd ever wanted to be as a singer and a songwriter. It all came together in that moment, and the next day I went out and bought a guitar and started to write. I was re-inspired.

I had the opportunity to see Mary Black live a year or so later, and it was amazing. I felt like I had been to church. It was the most beautiful, stirring show I'd ever experienced. Yes! my spirit cried. I want to be her! I must do that. I have to. It's what I was made for, and now I know it!

So I began to fumble towards my dream, and in the process, got married, and began to share the gift with my husband. What a privilege. And our little hobby that began as baby steps, banging out songs on the back deck of our house in the middle of nowhere, grew into a CD, and then soon we started planning for a second CD.

We happened onto a producer who was the brother of the studio owner. He had the credentials, and when we talked on the phone, he mentioned Mary Black and a few other artists I loved. "This guy obviously gets it," I told David. "He actually knows who Mary Black is. He must be the right guy for the job!"

So we went ahead with our plans to record, and picked our songs for the album. We decided to record one of Mary's songs from that first CD that had changed my life as a nod to her for essentially mentoring me. We recorded the vocals for the song late one night after the rest of the band had gone home, and when I was finished with my take, I came into the control room to have a listen.

When the song finished, the producer sighed and said, "Wow, that song just blows me away. That whole Mary Black CD is one of my all-time favorites. In fact, 10 years ago, when I was running sound on the Don Williams tour, I used to play that CD as pre-show music."

I literally almost fell out of my chair. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My head began to spin.

I think I actually pointed at him and yelled, "YOU!" It was all I could say. I think I frightened him. "You?" I cried. "You were the sound guy that played the Mary Black CD on the Don Williams tour? That was freaking YOU?!"

I explained to him that because he played that CD on that tour, my friend got me hooked on Mary Black, which changed the course of my entire life. We sat in silence for several minutes soaking that in what are the odds that that very sound guy would just happen to end up producing our record? I couldn't have tracked down that sound guy if I tried, and here he was, sitting next to me, producing our record.

I knew in that moment that we were doing exactly what we were meant to be doing, recording the album that we were meant to record. It was such a beautiful moment of being able to see directly into Gods plan, to see that all this time, when I thought I had gotten so off track, He was guiding me.

A friend of mine from Wales recently went to a Mary Black concert in England and handed her our CD. Having met Mary a few times, I know her to be down-to-earth and interested in her fans, and so theres a decent chance that shell actually give it a listen. Besides, her guitar player played on the record, so there's some added interest there. It's a strange and amazingly cool thing to be able to give your hero the person who has been the single greatest influence on you as an artist your art. Its one of those privileges unique to musicians, I think, to be able to give as tangible evidence of someone's influence a piece of music that will now become part of their lives like their art became a part of yours. It's a cosmic giving-back, and it's such an amazing blessing to have the honor of being able to hand them your art and say, "Thank you. You are why I did this." I don't really know how to explain it, but it is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. I am a huge believer in thanking one's mentors, giving credit where credit is due. Of course, ALL glory goes to the Creator, the author of all creativity, but there is something necessary in also "paying it backwards" to those He uses in our lives to spur us on.

So Mary has our CD, and I have it on good authority that she really likes the cover. She may hate the music, and use the CD as a coaster, and if so, that's okay. At least it's out there, the karmic "thank you" whispered to my hero. Mission accomplished.

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