The hand that hurts can also heal

Yesterday’s poetry and songwriting session was magical and also very insightful for me into the inner workings of the creative process (at least, as I experience it). Several people from outside of the center joined us. One person who joined us was our friend Mahmoud, who had been a resident for eight months at the…

We want to live in peace

There are themes that seem to resurface time again in the time I have spent, volunteering at the refugee asylum center. When I worked with a woman from Macedonia on her song, I asked her to tell me her greatest desire. She responded, I want a peaceful life for my children. In several songs, people…

Once a park ranger…

This week was an epic adventure in songwriting and in life. My experience in life is that I often make plans; those plans then take on a life of their own and generally turn out quite differently than I anticipated. This shift can lead to the unexpected, which can be uncomfortable at times but often…

Singing in the new year

I have not written about Monday songwriting in a few weeks. It is ongoing, though there have been a few times I have not been able to join. The center itself has been in a state of transition since this past December, when the rules regarding the asylum process for Belgium were drastically changed and…

We are bound together

After volunteering at the asylum center now for nearly two years, the repertoire of songs has grown tremendously. Periodically, I spend about a day going through photos and voice recordings. I try to keep everything organized by putting all of the photos and song files for each song in its own folder. This way, I…

The meaning of life

So far as I can tell from my 37 years on this planet, the purpose of my life seems to revolve around creating empathy and understanding. Since I was a child, I wanted to care for beings who needed love and shelter. My parents allowed me to adopt animals whose owners had abandoned them. I…

The birth of a song

It was legitimately cold on Monday when I met Sarah at the refugee center. We posted papers on the wall and invited people to join us. That morning, I had texted Sarah a few lines from a Robert Frost poem, “Fences make good neighbors.” She suggested that we write them at the top of the…

Treasure the moment

At the refugee center, Sarah and I greet each other with joyful smiles and warm embrace. In all weather, we meet each other in the spot along the covered corridor by the wooden door. We have found that the tape sticks easier to the wood than the brick wall. We never know if we will…

In between

I love going to the refugee center each week. Every single visit is unique, and I always feel better about everything after spending time there. I highly recommend paying close attention to the experiences in your life that completely shift your being in a positive way. It took me a long time to find the…

Embrace the positive

I got home late last night and tossed and turned for hours, reflecting on a difficult experience with a friend I had traveled with to a yoga retreat in the UK over the weekend. Somehow, her interpretation of my actions and a misunderstanding of something she thought I had done but hadn’t actually done had…