Health-Music Update – Rebuilding My Chops!

Dear Everybody –

I’m happy to report that just 3 months after being paralyzed by the rare neurological autoimmune illness Guillain Barre Syndrome, I’m 99% back to normal.  Hooray!  (That’s an understatement!)  I feel so very lucky; the nerve-damage aftereffects of GBS often take 1 to 2 years to clear up.  My own experience has been far more rapid.

About 3 weeks ago the nerve sensitivity in my hands began to dramatically improve, and now my fingers feel perfectly normal.  I marvel that my dulcimer strings don’t feel like torturous knife-edges anymore, and that I can play evenly and expressively again on both dulcimer and flute.  That means I’ve begun practicing my music in earnest to rebuild my chops (I just wanted to say “chops” because that word makes me smile.  “Chops!”)

On March 9th I’ll play a house concert in New Haven, CT.  This is the only show I had lined up pre-GBS that I didn’t have to cancel.  I’ll be sharing the afternoon with a local folk-bluegrass band called  The Nameless Trio.  Last winter Matt, Morgan and Pat employed me to sing (and flute) a very sweet boy-girl duet for their new album Explore!.  You can listen to samples (I sing on Track 10, “All The Way Home”) and buy it here.  If you live in/near CT and would like to attend the concert, please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the host, my wonderful friend Louis Audette.

The GBS experience definitely rocked my world.  In my 47 years before this event, major illnesses were always the “stuff that happens to other people”.  Now I truly (and a little anxiously) realize  that random, unexpected “stuff can happen” to me or those close to me at any time.  Of course I always knew this intellectually, but now I feel it in a tangible way.  I’ve talked to friends who’ve gone through big health challenges and they nod knowingly … wide-eyed …  at this change in perspective.  It’s made me more compassionate towards anyone dealing with health issues.  It’s made me want to decide consciously how I spend my days on this beautiful earth.

What does this mean for my music?  I can’t wait to play my “comeback” concert on March 9th!    Then I’m headed to Alaska for the entire summer to sell our house and 10 acres, work for my sister in her wonderful Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe,  reconnect with friends and breathe the wild, open spaces.  I’m sure I’ll play a few low-key gigs, and will search out new gift shops to carry my Alaska-infused CDs.   It will be a great time for writing new songs, and letting music be music, and savoring everyday life.

Thank you again to all who sent me good wishes/cards/vibes while I was hospitalized.  I can’t help but attribute my strong recovery to the love that flowed my way, right through my soul into my nerve endings.  Also thanks to all who ordered my CDs during the holiday season.  That income really helped ease the financial impact of all those cancelled gigs.  I love imagining my music playing in your kitchen or car or headphones…

By the way, I’ve achieved almost half of my 2000 album goal, which means our “mystery painting” is almost halfway filled in.  I still have to go out and sing pretty for a lot more people to fulfill that goal so stay tuned.  And … stay warm!

Fairbanks Ice Show 2012
Photo of bundled-up Esther taken at 2012 Fairbanks Alaska World Ice Art Show