After burgers at the Black Bear restaurant around the corner from U.C. Davis, my friend, Steve Streeter, enthusiastically urged "Oh, I've got to show you the #CompassionBench! Let's go, it's just a couple of blocks away." As we walked, he told me the story of how a man named David Breaux stands at the corner of C Street and 3rd Street (on the edge of AT&T's property) with a notebook asking people to share their written concept of the word "compassion." David raised so much awareness of compassion that the community came together and built the "Compassion Bench" out of recycled materials - plastic bottles, plastic bags, covered with with plaster and embedded
centerpieces of mosaics that include symbols and words extracted from the interviews.
Delighted, I investigated the bench with my eyes and hands - feeling the different textures and sensing the inspiration one person evoked in a community to make a difference. AT&T donated the corner property to the project, and a diverse group of people came together to create the #CompassionBench
Serendipitously, at that moment, David Breaux, the project's visionary, crossed the street to meet us. He shared his plans to take the Compassion project to other cities around the country. David has compiled the concepts on compassion in a book. He graciously signed a copy for me: To Pam
Live as Love through the compassion within your heart.
Zero visibility. Snow Storm - Looking out the window of my flight heading back to Nashville - only seeing white. I've spent 2.5 months, in 7 cities, 4 states meeting hundreds of people during "open enrollment" helping them sign up for benefits offered through their employers. I heard amazing stories from incredibly hard-working, low-paid people. Stories of losing children and husbands to bullets from the guns of friends and gangs. Stories of losing mothers, fathers, aunts, friends to cancer. Stories of working two minimum wage jobs to barely meet the bills. Stories from single moms making $9 an hour with daycare bills of $800 a month, and medical deductibles of $3000.
With all the Shouting about not increasing the minimum wage, and how "those people" feel they are entitled, I wish the shouters could be in my shoes and have met these incredible people. The last location I worked at was a nursing home for the mentally ill and alzheimer's/dementia patients. I met with the nurses, nurses' aids, cooks, therapists, security, maintenance and all helpers. In order to meet with all the employees, I had to cover three shifts. To say I am sleep deprived is an understatement. I could not have done it without the help of three amazing people who worked there - Thanks to Keith, Rita and Kenneth. And now, time to zzzzzzzzzz.
This morning within a two minute period of time, I spilled espresso on my bed; my computer charger died; and I received an email from Kyle Lehning, husband of a woman I greatly admired, delivering the news that she recently died of uterine cancer. Chris Caravacci. She was an amazing, beautiful human being. Warm and kind while equally a focused, strong business manager.
I am in tears thinking Kyle’s loss of Chris - they had one of those rare, enviable marriages. Kyle Lehning and Chris Caravacci It pains me to think of her suffering a three year battle with that monstrous disease, cancer. The hell of rounds of surgery, chemo, radiation. How it eats away at you little by little every day. I lost my brother, Randy, the same way - beginning with the colon - surgery, chemo, radiation - then moving to the liver - surgery, chemo, radiation - to the lungs - surgery, chemo, radiation and finally the brain. It was a long and terrible death.
There is no one and nothing to convince me that anyone who suffers from cancer, Auschwitz or anything else is because it’s “God’s will.” No, no, no!
Do I believe God is good and can cause all things to work together for good for those who love Him, and Even for those who don’t? Yes, yes, yes!
Life is beautiful and there’s always something to be grateful for. But sometimes life hurts, love hurts, disease hurts and quoting a Bob Dylan song title - “Everything is Broken.” That is why the little kindnesses we show each other along the way are like air, food and water for the spirit and soul. I believe that is God’s will.
I met Chris Caravacci and Kyle Lehning, then President of Asylum
Records, when I was hired by the VP of Promotions, to produce a
listening event during CMA for radio programmers to hear Asylum's incredibly gifted new artist, Mandy Barnett. Mandy became the
voice/persona of Patsy Cline and continues to perform the Patsy Cline
show in Nashville at the Ryman auditorium. Chris Caravacci became the
business manager for Scott Simon, who signed the Dixie Chicks, and managed Tim McGraw. Kyle continues to produce artists like Randy
Travis, Dan Seals and other greats as well as play incredible B-Hammond organ in a
jazz quartet called Leonard Small regularly at Nashville's classy jazz
bar and restaurant - F. Scotts.
I am ecstatic! Elliot just turned five years old and he is my new muse and collaborator! He plays harmonica and toy guitar; wears glasses; paints emotion-yanking paintings; giggles at funny sounding words, is lactose intolerant and knows how to bake a cake with no milk; guessed my age is 21 :-) ; knows quite a few notable rock-stars but never ever drops names; invites me to play games with him and says my voice calms him down.
Elliot is my new collaborator. We are beginning a new summer project - a book illustrated with his paintings with co-written and recorded songs.
I've had some amazing collaborators in my lifetime: Rich Mullins, Noel Paul Stookey, Wendy Waldman, Keith Steagal, Phil Keaggy, Pam Tillis, Al Perkins, Jerry Chamberlain, and now Elliot!
I've always been able to feel when a collaboration is going to be good - and I know this will be fun and wonderful with Elliot. He has exceptional parents - intelligent, Spirit-lit, artistic, inspiring and encouraging - Joshua and Rachel Lickter who are Rooted - Artistic - Welcoming Thanks for introducing me to Elliot!
I ferment in the fertilized creative hot bed of who I've become. I tell myself " There's a lot more to be done in a short amount of time so get moving!" and then I turn to my CREATOR and ask
"OK, WHAT? What do ya want? I want what You Want so Please (and I believe it is a collaboration) SO PLEASE, GOD, help me figure this out - I don't want to get it wrong." And I think I'm hearing back...."Girlfriend, relax, keep on doing what you do..... we'll figure this next challenge out - don't worry, I already took care of that wrong part." Whew! - Thanks! gOd GoD goD