Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tiny Silver Compass

Sunlight bounced off windshields as I pushed our double stroller through the parking lot, my three girls dangling from my skirt. We were on our way to find Kristen, a dear friend, who was singing her first major debut. Summerfest in North Salt Lake.

Afternoon sun filtered through the maples as I scanned the crowd for her face. We caught eyes and she made a beeline for our crew. You may remember Kristen from this post, and some of her lyrics from this one.

She's a remarkable lady. We served LDS missions together in Nauvoo, Illinois - a well-known historic site significant to Mormon history. Ironically, there were several musically-inclined sisters in our group, one of whom even brought her guitar, but all that time I had no idea Kristen played.

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It wasn't until she started blogging a couple years ago, that I discovered Kristen had a real talent for music. And it was no longer hiding under a bushel.

Kristen has five children, including tail-end twin girls the same age as Ali and Sami. About the time she stopped changing their diapers, she picked up her guitar and started writing songs. Soulful songs. Songs that keep her going, help her see her children, her motherhood and her life, for what it really is. Hard, joyful, important.

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I wish you could have been there with me to hear her sing.

It's one thing to listen to her CD. Another to hear her live. To listen to her explain the story behind her songs, feel the energy of the audience and the stage. I teared up at the first sound of her voice. I knew how much this meant to her - this stepping stone. How hard it was for her to find time to write, play, yank out a part of her soul every time she finished a song.

I know she's wrestled and wondered if this is worth doing. Who do I think I am? she said to me once. Questioning if she had any right to record her songs, stand behind a mic, belt out her heart. And who is going to listen? Well, I listened. And I hope you will too.

I wanted to shout to the world, "Can you believe she's doing this?" I felt this way at the launch party for Brodi's novel. I feel this way when I watch Jill and Emilie, dance. Watch them dance like they are flying, like they are moving from the inside out. I want to support Kristen for the same reason I want a filmmaker to pick up Michelle's screenplay, Brittney to finish her memoir, my sister Becca to write that children's book she's been thinking about.

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(Kristen also plays the ukulele)

I believe dreams, aspirations, and abilities are placed within us for reasons. God wants us to experience the greatest amount of joy we can during our stay here. And when we magnify these things, let them grow and swell inside us, we become more like him, step a little closer to our potential.

Sometimes we think we can't move ahead with something until God accepts it, condones it, says it's okay. But much of the time, if what we want is right and good, I believe he wants it too. He is just waiting for us to decide. Kristen explains this concept beautifully in her own post.

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(Kristen with her friend Bridget on cello, playing a number about Jupiter, her great-great grandfather's guitar.)

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We sat behind Kristen's husband and her children. I think Nate recorded every song she sang with his iPhone. I love the way her family came out for her, rallied around her. That too had me a little choked up.

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Kristen helped us find a good seat up front and off to the side so my kids would have wiggle room. Then she asked her AnnaKate to sit with us, help me with crowd control. AnnaKate wove some kind of magic with my boys. Since then, on two separate occasions, Gordon has demanded her presence. "I only want AnnaKate!" This is AnnaKate (above) gently stroking Ali's hair.

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Kristen's handsome boy, Luke.

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My favorite song she sang (and wrote) was one I hadn't heard before called Silver Compass. She performed it with Danny Heslop, a very talented player. Her lyrics depict so well the confidence I see in Kristen. The confidence any of us can have if we follow that tiny silver compass inside us that whispers what we ought to do, which way we ought to travel, and how we can possibly navigate the difficult road. Here are my favorite lines:

I wear a tiny silver compass
on a silver chain around my neck
and I can feel it pull me where I need to go
I don't even have to check

I know where I'm going
even though I look lost to you
cuz i can still see it
in the far distant blue

I wear a tiny silver compass
on a silver chain around my neck
and I can feel it push me where I need to go
even if my eyes are closed

I can still hear it
even though it's miles away
and I can see that you don't understand
but that doesn't take the truth away

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Kristen wrote this song last fall when she realized if she didn't have a vision of who she was and what she wanted her life to be, no one else was going to do that for her. She said, "If we don't listen to those inklings and follow them, however uncomfortable, we'll never create or meet our full potential."

She continues, "I had to lose the female notion that being confident or believing in myself is braggy, prideful, or personally uncomfortable. It's been a kind of inner progress or mountain climbing. To anyone else, it looked like I was standing still, but I could feel how much I was growing and changing inside my own mind. I was letting go of outdated ideas about myself or my life and building a confidence and resolve I didn't have. All very much with God's help and tutoring. I still feel like I'm in the middle of this. It might take me a long time and lots of experiences but I'm happy to be moving up this hill."

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My kids were troopers. They sat down with children they didn't know, worked through a whole bag of dum-dum suckers, and cheered and clapped with the rest of us.

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I recorded Kristen singing part of Silver Compass. My videography skills are definitely lacking and my quick pan of the crowd might make you seasick, so just close your eyes and listen.


Whitney Johnson explains in her book, Dare to Dream, that perfection immobilizes us, prevents us from trying. If we cannot accept imperfection along the road to our dreams, we can easily become stuck, safe on the side of achievements (p. 200).

Kristen inspires me because she's not afraid of a little imperfection. She is risking, living, taking leaps, and I admire her courage. Her choices remind me of this quote from Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher.

"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself."

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This is the Friday crew (family and friends) that came to support Kristen. With a close-up of Kristen and Nate below. I told Nate, I know he's the other half of the equation here. The man who makes it possible for Kristen to do what she does.

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Kristen, you make me want to live braver and more attuned to that tiny silver compass around my neck. I know I can't go wrong when traveling the course it directs, but you helped me understand how important it is to know first, where it is I want to go. I love you.


To purchase or listen to more of Kristen's songs, check out her website.

10 comments:

  1. That song is amazing. She is amazing! I wish I could have been there.

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    1. Thanks Raising4Cookies :) If I ever get that song recorded I'll send you a copy

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  2. those squeaky cracks in my voice were my fear and embarrassment showing up :/ Getting up there and singing was the only way to set myself free from them. Thank you for this post Catherine. You are a friend I love and need.

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  3. Kristen gave me the link to your blog and you are such a talented writer (and your family is adorable!). I'm so glad that she has great friends cheering her on because I love her music too. I'm glad that you could make it there!

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    1. Dear Bridget, it was such a delight to meet you. Your complement with the cello (which I didn't mention in my post) was divine. Truly. It was such a beautiful piece, the two of you together. Best wishes with the arrival of your new baby!

      And Kristen - you know I love you. Cheering always for you. xo

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  4. Very nicely done, Kristen! You are very talented and your music is soulful and soothing. Best wishes to you!

    Catherine, I am so behind on everything (except house projects…which are hopefully, finally coming to an end soon). How I've missed you! I feel like there's a little hole in my heart after not being in touch with you for so long. Your words are always a balm to my soul.

    After probably the most intense (physically and emotionally) summer of my adult life, I am finally on the cusp of "normal" again. I will write more soon. Just know that I love you.

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    1. Dearest Anne Marie - It sounds as if life dealt you a challenging summer, from several fronts. I am anxious to hear more. Please know it is your absence that left a hole here at me 'ol blog. I have definitely missed your encouraging words and understanding. I'm praying for you, that all is well and you are settling into this second year with all your boys at school, finding "normal" again, and that you are happy, with light all around you. xo

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  5. Oh, that's so great! Jill and Chad Morris, their brother/sis-in-law, are some of my best buddies... Well, Jill is :) since high school. What a small world :)

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    1. Yes, a small world! Thanks for leaving a note here. Kristen has a wonderful family. How wonderful that you know them! Blessings.

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