(collection of past Homepage greetings and stories)
Nov 1, 2009   -to-   
Mar 21, 2010

November 1, 2009

Howdy my autumnal friends, Howdy my autumnal friends, Howdy my autumnal friends,

What a magnificent fall it has been here in the Northwest. The maple and chestnut leaves have been so beautiful. I must say though, they're not quite so pretty when the rain turns 'em into one big soggy leaf soup. There you are headed down the sidewalk on a wonderful October day, your beard all trimmed up, your mood all perky and so proud o' your new sunflower earmuffs. Then you feel a glitch in your footing, your arms start to windmillin' and your neck goes all rubberish. There is a moment, a millisecond, when time stands still and you think, "Lawdy, don't let nobody be watchin' this!" Just as your body thuds into the earth, your teeth sink into your own belly and your tender tailbone goes thumping down a dozen stairsteps. Yeoowww!!! That can't be the way a person's day is s'posed to go.

Which is where I come rushing in! Today, my friends, is your lucky day, as I am making available to you, for the first time anywhere, my one-of-a-kind invention, MT's Big Ol' Bohunkus Protector! It's thick! It's padded! It slides down the back of your panties (or drawers) and I'll guarantee* you podnas, you'll be taking big leaps off overpasses and landin' square on your butt, unharmed and happy as a kitten. In fact, I predict that once you're wearin' my Bohunkus Protector, you'll be tempted to insult bullies everywhere, since the searing pain of rapid, swift kicks to the anal area will be a thing of your past. With my BP in place, you'll simply turn around, grin real big and say, "Wha?? Is there a fly bumpin' up against me?" (*not an actual guarantee, results may vary according to individual nerve endings, sharpness of boots, etc.)

Well, enough about my invention skills. I don't mean to brag, it's just that I feel a call to share my gifts with the world. 
~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~
My sweetheart, Patricia, and I recently spent several days on a quiet getaway on Orcas Island. (I haven't told her yet about the BP, I fear it would spoil her slender silhouette) We go there every October but had almost cancelled this year when weather reports predicted steady rain every day. But we went anyway and to our great relief, on the ferry ride over you could see the dark clouds breaking up and making great frisky fun of local weathermen. Oh, what a chuckle them clouds had. It was contagious and we found ourselves rolling on the ferry deck, wheezing along with them wacky gray cumuli.

Our first night in our room at the Inn we were personally howled at by a stormy wind that sounded as if it would leave a path of broken trees by morning. All night long the wind whistled and yelped and pounded the cliff below our room, rattling the shutters like a hurricane while we snuggled up against each other under a quilt so heavy a person could possibly suffocate. Normally, I roll my side of the heavy covers onto Patricia, therefore doubling up the mass on her, and then I just use a light sheet on my side. But that storm was a woolly one. By morning the area had been transformed to the calmest, most peaceful world you could imagine.

I often tell Patricia that she has made a poet of me. Yes, I have songs that feel like poetry, but I've never in my life been moved to write poetry the way I have since we came together four years ago. Sometimes they are deeply meaningful, sometimes just little sketches of the moment. Here is one I wrote her that morning in our room after the storm and sent to her laptop, which was a mere five feet from mine. 
He Waits

Outside is wind
Shearing, scouring, sawing
Against rocky shores
Shoving trees aside to get

Where do the birds hide
When wind like this
Prowls the woods
The gravel beaches
And meandering country roads?

He sees only gulls and crows
Fixed still in the sky
Riding ragged waves of air
Then dropping to the beach
Feathers ruffled

He writes, gazing out glass
Over the bay
Past buck fence
Through black spruce outline
While his true love applies

On this stormy morning
He waits for her
His true love to emerge

~ for my true love, Patricia. With all my love. Michael

Have I ever mentioned that my girlfriend is a coffee achiever? Yes, she needs her coffee if she is going to be expected to do stuff like, well, talk and walk. So wherever we travel, I always hop up, put on my running clothes and head out in search of some good, solid coffee. A robust brew is best. Watery? Nope, that's a good way to get scalded, podnas.

After bringing her a couple of nice steaming cups and watching with breath held, finally receiving her infinitesimally slight nod of approval, I knew it was going to be a good day. Whee! We explored the town of East Sound that morning and hiked various autumn roads leading outside of town, enjoying the meadows and trees and houses while keeping an eye out for locations to do some taping for a new music video. Last year we had taped my song, Things That I Don't Know and posted it on YouTube and it's been one of our favorite videos - like a sweet postcard of our days on Orcas.

The morning was foggy and cold, not the best light for a video, but when we found a magnificent Chestnut tree rising out of the mist in full, glorious golden color, we decided that had to be the spot for our video. So we drove back to the Inn to get the camera and guitar.

By the time we returned, we were dismayed to find that there under the chestnut tree was a teenaged girl slouching on a big stone, looking like she was in no big hurry to leave. She was dressed all in black, leaning against a long, low granite boulder and fiddling with her iPod. I didn't understand that she was a specific type of teenager until Patricia, having two daughters in their teens, explained, "Uh-oh, there is always a Goth Kid just where you don't need one." I looked over at her, impressed with her street smarts. "Is that what she is?" I asked, fascinated. "A Goth Kid? Is there a certain way you communicate with them?" "Yes," Patricia replied, "You sing songs from The Cure and it repulses them that any adult would know about their sacred music. They usually groan, roll their eyes in an exaggerated way and move on." I knew exactly what she was talking about. As a teenager I'd always hated it whenever I'd hear my dad humming I Am The Walrus. "Hum your own songs!" I'd imagine myself shouting. "Hum A Bicycle Built for Two or something! Leave John Lennon out of it!"

That Goth Kid was very sly. Just to scare us, the next time we came by she was lying down. Clearly, she was going nowhere until Halloween. But then a few minutes later she perked up, looked around, then strolled off toward town. Patricia's theory? "I was sending her a psychic message that I was about ten seconds from going over there and humming a Zombina and the Skeletones song." I looked at her in pure awe. The things my girl knows! With the coast clear now, I pulled the truck into position so that we could use my headlights for additional light, then I got out my guitar, cued up the song on CD, and started strolling around and singing under that glorious chestnut tree, while Patricia set the white balance and prepared the camera.

The light was terrible for photography that day - and by terrible what I mean to say is that my face looked like a pasty ol' pie crust. But despite this tragedy - which comes with middle age and years of poor lotion application habits - that tree was so glorious that we decided we had to give it a try and just hope people would look mostly at the tree and not so much at the front-ish part of my head.

Listen podnas, let me tell you. It ain't the easiest thing to do, being Director's Assistant on a video of my own song. Patricia is the director, the cinematographer and editor. I am in charge of the logistics and mechanics of the taping; light, sound, props, performance, and of course, my own face. It's not easy, doing all that stuff with my guitar strapped on and at the same time trying cue up the iPod and still get in on the beginning chord, stay in the light, match up my lips to the lyrics, strum in a realistic way and look carefree at the same time. We usually get about three or four versions of the song under my belt before I remember to take that grim expression off my face. Patricia always cheers me up and once I'm loosened up, it goes pretty well. She loves me and my music so much that, well, a man just can't stay somber for long.

She posted my song, The Way Out West, on YouTube a few weeks ago when there were a few days of summer still left. We took my Malibu convertible out to the Snoqualmie River and found a beautiful spot among trees to shoot.  When we get our new one under the big Chestnut tree posted, I'll send you notice.

Michael Tomlinson and Friends in Concert Michael Tomlinson and Friends in Concert Michael Tomlinson and Friends in Concert
Friday, Nov. 20, 8pm at Town Hall Seattle

I'm performing with a small band for the first time in many years and I'm excited to get to share the stage with my friends: Brian Dina on guitar and flute, Jay Kenny on keyboards, TJ Morris on percussion. This show has a theme I'd like to tell you about. In these last many months of arguing and sensationalism around the efforts to find a way to either create or deny health care for everyone in our nation, I've been as disheartened as you've probably been. It just seems like one big mess of human pettiness.

One day I was considering this when an old dream of mine resurfaced. I wanted to bring together people who work in Healing Arts with the rest of us, the people who support and need what they do. So I am calling my concert, In Celebration of Our Healing Arts Community. Maybe in the midst of so much politicization, we can have an evening dedicated to healing in all it's forms. That's what my concert is dedicated to.

My hope and dream is that there will be good will and the spirit of healing among all who come to the concert - and that people will share word of this event/gathering with friends, family, co-workers. We're opening the doors an hour before the show so that those who wish to come early and enjoy the community, will do so. I know it is going to be a night to remember and I am inviting you to come and be a part of it.  More about the concert here

If you have a service or product of some kind you would like to promote at the concert, perhaps you'd like to secure a Sponsorship Table to display at the reception and intermission. Read more about it here.

Thank you for reading my latest rambling. It means a lot to me that you check in on me now and again and read what I have to share. Ever since my first Thanksgiving in Seattle, back in 1983, when I first sang a new song to a house full of happy people at the end of a day of feasting, talking, laughing, Run Like the River Runs, has been a song of Thanksgiving to me. It speaks of the wonder I still feel at being alive, of the gratitude I have for life and Nature and friends, of the changing seasons that are the fabric of our lives and of the eternal questions I hope I never stop asking: "If I breathe like the wind, will I ever learn it all?"

I'd like to leave you with they lyrics to my song and a wish for a beautiful autumn and Thanksgiving Season for you and all your loved ones. Thank you for listening and sharing my music over the years.

Your friend in blustery Seattle,

Run Like the River Runs
©1985 Michael Tomlinson

Tell me what you will, my blue-winged friend
Did you hear me from where you drifted on the wind?
This autumn wind on a summer day
Sure can turn a blue sky gray
Oh, it's a lonely day and cold
There are secrets you've not told
And there are part of me that I have never known
And I wonder if you see
All the walls inside of me?

Feathered friend, I wish that you could say
Why you sit on that wooden post and watch me play
The sky is yours and the ground is mine
Do you want to trade sometime?
And let me soar above these trees
See the earth through golden leaves
Breathe the air and watch the rivers from above
There are many things to love
But it's these that call to me

     If I run like the river runs, if I fall like water falls
     Oh, if I breathe like the wind, will I ever learn it all?
     If I change like autumn leaves
     If I grow like summer weeds
     If I'm as quiet as snow, will I ever know it all?
     Learn it all?

I don't really know from day to day
If I'm willing to walk this road or turn away
But something here in the silver sky is exactly what I need
To begin the song again, help me sing my winged friend
With the melody you rise and float away
Then I'll leave the way I came, but I'll never be the same

     If I run like the river runs, if I fall like water falls
     Oh, if I breathe like the wind, will I ever learn it all?
      If I change like autumn leaves
      If I grow like summer weeds
      If I'm as quiet as snow, will I ever know it all?
      Learn it all?

from the CD  Run This Way Forever
 and the solo-acoustic  Watching the Storm Roll In

December 5, 2009
Howdy Holidays my friends,

I took a hike this frosty evening just before dusk. My friend Brian and I had been working on my website all day and we barely got finished and outside before dark to take a hike down by the river. We were in Bothell, a homey little town outside of Seattle, and at that time of day there you often see hundreds of crows returning to roost for the night. It's always a thrill, but tonight was something different. For one thing, the sky itself was spectacular, a kind of bruised peach above us, with sculpted clouds of mango overlapping like giant fish scales all the way to the sinking western sun. We had just stepped outside when we looked up and the entire sky was filled with crows - all flying in a northeast direction. The noise of it alone was breathtaking. And just when you'd think that had to be all of them, hundreds more would appear, wave after wave of them surging from over the tops of huge bare maples and dark Douglas firs. Under this wild cacophony we wandered through the small downtown and down toward the river with the sky alive like nothing I'd ever seen before. Crows lined all the telephone wires, they filled stark winter trees like dark Christmas decorations. And down near the river they increased in number until you could literally see thousands in the sky above and to the horizon. We stood there turning in circles, looking up, making noises of astonishment for several minutes. I said to Brian, "you call a group of them a 'murder' of crows." I wondered what you would call ten-thousand of them, because that's what I'd have guessed we were seeing.

I wished I'd had a camera with me, but even then that unimaginable scene would have been impossible to capture, surrounding us on all sides and in all parts of the sky. It felt like such a sign, a blessing, an unforgettable gesture of good fortune, to get to see such miraculous bird life, abounding in such numbers and filling the world around us. I thought, they probably look at us on the ground and think the same thing sometimes, "Wow! Look at all the people! Where do you think they sleep?" I'm just guessing, I don't speak crow so I don't actually know what they may have been saying.

I just wanted to tell you about the strange beauty of it all because it was one of those moments when you look at something in nature and cannot possibly fathom how such a thing could exist. You can't help but feel a sense of wonder and grace. Those thousands of crows left us dazed and breathless. It's night now and I guess they're probably quiet now, filling a few hundred trees along the wetlands and huddled close together for warmth. I'm just glad we got to witness that magnificent sky full of crows.

My Recent Concert: on November 20th I performed one of the most memorable concerts of my life. In fact, compared to that one, all others blur into one big smear of strummin' and yodeling and joking and guffawing. For the first time in a decade I performed with a small ensemble of musicians. But it is in the getting there that the interesting part of the story lies. Yep, I'm talking about Sound Check. Now, audiences don't really know much about sound checks. Do ye? I think not. Don't you just think of the players standing there saying, "Check, check, check!" into a microphone and then going backstage to eat green M&Ms and sip Chivas? That's what I always thought too. But nope, there is more to it. In fact, on that very evening the sound check took three hours! I'm serious as dang chewed off thumb. We stood on that stage from just after four pm until seven-thirty, leaving us exhausted, dizzy, hallucinating, starved and about to collapse from the terror of what was to come during the actual concert.

Brian impresses MT with dazzling guitar work.
Let me 'splain, please. Town Hall Seattle is a wonderful hall. For 80 years it was a church. A vast open space that, from stage, looks almost like a large dome with two smaller domes merging. It's now used for public speakers, authors and singers. But I ask you, have you ever sang directly into the Goodyear Blimp? That's the sort of acoustics I'm talking about, podnas. With every note I sang, there were at least twelve of me answering back. Now, toss in the six strings of my guitar, drums and cymbals, shakers, keyboards, lead guitar and flute! If somebody had invented a gigantic blender and tossed us all in there and hit frappe', well, that's the sound you'd hear.

We had rehearsed so diligently! Brian Dina and I had worked out our guitar parts carefully over several months. TJ Morris, my percussionist, and Jay Kenney, my keyboard player, had also worked very studiously to learn their parts. But during The Sound Check From Hell, we found preparation to be highly overrated. We could have walked in there with instruments none of us had ever seen before and sounded at least that good.

Now try to be me for a minute. I've been sending out announcements for weeks. Placing posters and fliers all over Seattle. Really talkin' up the show. An ad has been playing on the radio all week about this event. My first time with a band in a decade. My point is, people are about to walk in the door expecting this concert to be more than a jumble of warbly sounds and goofy grins. But we are growing more and more terrified that that's all they're going to get. By the time we were told that we must leave the stage so that the crowd can come in, we are zombies. I'm afraid to look my players in the eyes for fear that they will see my despair, my realization that I am about to receive the equivalent of a public butt spanking right there on stage.

My sweetheart whispers stuff to the pooch
Noticing our pallid complexions and stupefied demeanors, Patricia and our good friend, Rick, had wandered dark, rainy streets in the night and found a place to have sandwiches made for us. They were tough sandwiches, made with hunks o' bread that you might imagine a mountain man breaking off and gnawing on all winter long. But they were delicious. We sat in the green room gnawing, occasionally swallowing whenever we judged the crusty cellulose to be ready for passage downward. But we didn't so much as look at each other. We were like criminals headed for hanging and unable to face head-on our destiny. So we just chewed and awaited our humiliation.

Though we couldn't hear them from the green room, in the Great Hall people were filling their seats, talking excitedly, their anticipation so very different from ours. I'm sure they imagined delightful musical sounds where we ourselves knew that only screechy farts and anguished bellows were about to fill the hall. I changed clothes, at the last minute scrapping the idea of wearing the new fedora I'd bought for the show. It's a great hat but lends a sort of goofy cool that I thought might not go so well with sheer onstage terror. Nope, I was going to need my most sincere and humble appearance this evening. I would need to state my case that it was not we who sounded like honking geeze and pounding surf, but rather, the acoustics of the dome-like room.

Finally, I heard my name announced and stepped onto the large stage, surprised at how many folks had turned out. There were probably 400 people there and their applause and whistles and exclamations were quite an uplifting surprise. Still, l was going to have to pick up my guitar now and sing into the deep well we'd been dropped into during sound check. I said something or other to greet them, strapped on my guitar and started the rhythmic strumming of the first song I'd written after moving to Seattle in 1983, No Bad Dreams. Many recognized the chords and started applauding again. I took a deep breath and sang the first line, "Dreaming on, I'm all alone, a midnight walk and they don't know. . . " What!? I was stunned! It sounded good! The layer upon layer of echo in that big dome was being soaked up and altered by the four hundred bodies, coats, purses, heads of thinning hair! By the first chorus I was a changed man, my sentence reversed, a presidential pardon issued, and I was almost cocky breezing through the bluesy lines, "I have no bad dreams, just a few tough scenes, any way you want it you can make it be, from now on I'm living, living my dreams . . ."

I cannot tell you how wonderful it felt to realize that I sounded good on that stage - like I'd never sang better, tossing off spontaneous flurries of notes made up on the spot, scatting and  reveling in the resonance of my own voice. It was such a joyous feeling. I looked down at the first row and saw Patricia beaming that beautiful smile at me and knew that she must have struck a deal with Saints. The sound was amazing. Then the band came out and we broke into the opening chords of Asphalt Dream. The notes were clear, not awash in echoes, like yodelers in the high Swiss Alps! It was our first show together but the band did a wonderful job. We responded to each other's playing, and the audience seemed very happy with what they heard.  The entire evening was a delight.

Earlier that week, knowing I could not completely fill the hall on the small amount of money I had for advertising, I'd been looking for ways to give some tickets away to folks who could not afford to attend. Then I heard from someone associated with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance who asked if I'd be willing to give some tickets to their patients. I was thrilled at the idea. I called them and offered tickets to patients and their families, even staff and volunteers. They loved the idea and asked for 100 tickets. I delivered them that day and couldn't wait to tell the band.

Now, you might think that a performer could only be so happy about a hunk o' tickets being given away. After all, I'm trying to make a living at this. But you cannot imagine what it meant to me to know that folks associated with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance were going to be at our concert. To know that people going through such difficult times would be listening to my songs of love and friendship and gratitude, earth and sky, seasons and weather, I knew that it was going to matter to them, that it would be uplifting and hopeful music for them to hear. And it gave our performing so much more purpose. I love these songs, I am thrilled at how these melodies move through me and become songs that feel like friends in my life. I love that they become friends to people around the world. And when there is the opportunity for them to be used especially to help people who need something extra, it's as rich as it gets.

That night I saw so much in the eyes of the folks listening. I saw their love and their appreciation. I saw forgiveness and compassion. I heard them laugh and I sometimes saw tears flowing. I saw men reach out and pull their wives closer. I saw people hold hands and others start friendships. It is truly the reason I sing my songs and I was given the gift of getting to see what can happen when I follow my heart and share what I have been given.

If you were there, thank you. I'm honored that you came to spend the evening with us. And if you were one who sent good wishes, thank you for that. There is a lot of good will in my life and I feel it every day.

Thank you for visiting my website and taking the time to read my latest rambling. I started this at five in the morning and now it's nearly 7 and I'm thinking it would be nice to close and maybe crawl back into bed for a bit more snoozing.

I hope your Holiday Season is a loving one. Find some way to make it so, my friends. Reach out to someone and offer a kind gesture. That is what this is all about. A simple hand on a shoulder or doing something special for a friend or stranger, it's going to turn out to be your greatest gift of the year.

And don't forget to take some deep breaths and get lost in the present moment now and then. It's pretty peaceful in there.

         Your friend in frosty Seattle,

My music for Holiday gifts? My music for Holiday gifts? My music for Holiday gifts?
I've got 11 Titles to choose from and I can get them to you quickly
-or- mail orders directly to your loved ones.
  Click here for Special Holiday Offers

New videos on YouTube New videos on YouTube New videos on YouTube

My sweetheart, Patricia, has posted a couple more music videos for songs from my new CD. They've been getting great response. Take a look and if you like them, be sure and leave a comment.   The Way Out West      Valentine 

You can help sponsor a concert You can help sponsor a concert You can help sponsor a concert

I'm on a mission in the coming year to make as many of my concerts as possible benefits toward worthy causes in the cities I perform in.  I've done many of these over the years, but I feel that I'd like to do many more. Because this is my sole way of making a living, I need help to be able to do this. I need sponsors to support the show so that I can afford to do the show and have a portion of the ticket sales go toward the causes we support.

If you have a business or product or service that you feel would benefit from exposure on my website, on concert fliers, even presented at my concerts, please get in touch and we can talk about ways that you can be a part of supporting me and my music and the worthy causes that I perform on behalf of.

Thanks to the folks who sponsored my concert at Town Hall Seattle (see below)

Personal Safety Nets

Christine Upchurch
and the folks at NW Reconnective Healing

Dr. Cat Saunders & her wonderful book
Dr. Cat's Healing Handbook

John Giovine, The Honest Mechanic
Import Car Care (206) 325-5377

Jeff Labow at The Green Brush
Eco-friendly Painting

Center for Ethical Leadership

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Ernest Becker Foundation 

I spent a couple of days writing a quite humorous little rambling for you, but then, with the disaster in Haiti, I just couldn't focus on silliness right now with so many in the middle of such pain. It's not that I don't think laughter is always good medicine, it is. But I also know there is a time for sincerity and to focus love and light and good will - and that's what I want to do now. I'm offering up a new free song download this month, in honor of the people in Haiti who have lost so much that they love, their loved ones, their homes and, in some cases, even their cities and towns. Seeing footage of Haitian cities crumbled in ruins, I thought of a song I once wrote about grieving moving away from a city that I loved so much. The song is "All is Clear" and is one of my favorite. I've long performed it onstage with the introduction, "this is about leaving a city that you love," but after hearing from the family of a man dying in the hospital, who gathered his family around and said, "this is what I want to say to you," and then played "All is Clear", I came to see it as a song about surviving sorrow and loss and soaring again with new life and love. It is a message I would hope to share with our brothers and sisters in Haiti right now.

I have watched my friends
Scatter out across the land
And I wonder if I'll live so long
To see them all again
And if I don't, well it don't matter
They will love me all the same
For the hearts that I love most
Remain unchained
Way up here it all is clear
And I'm not afraid of living with these tears
Way up here it all is clear
And I'm not afraid of living in these years
January 19, 2010

I know is not easy to keep from falling into a sense of doom when we see what is happening there. That is why I am watching very little of the footage shown. For one thing, we cannot possibly see the miracles, the precious nuance involved as millions of people love and help each other through this. On television news programs are mostly going to show the most desperate or aggravated situations. In my case, it feels better to give what I can outwardly, and then to hold the people there silently in my prayers, imagining them rising to the level of love and strength that will be required of them. 

It is a small thing, but I am sending $5 from each CD order I receive to the Red Cross in Haiti. If you wish to take part in this, just order a CD and in the comments area, say, "please send $5 to Haiti." I will do that. 

~Making a Living in 2010~ ~Making a Living in 2010~ ~Making a Living in 2010~

In the first place, who the heck ever thought, as a kid, that you'd even make it to the year, 2010?  But here we are friends, and now we've got to do something about it. 

In our lifetimes, there has never been this much upheaval on a massive scale involving the remaking of social systems involving livelihood and education and housing. It can be hard not to be frightened by this when you see how many millions have lost their homes and jobs in these last few years. But I know there is more happening than we can possibly understand. There is a wave of change in process on our planet and much of this change is for a greater good, even a healing and purging. Still, it's painful and disorienting getting there, and we need to have compassion for each other along the way.

This stress is not limited to folks working day-to-day jobs. Like many of you, I'm trying to flow with it to, trying not get overly fearful, and at the same time attempting to stay open to creative solutions for how I may get through this time until the economy is flowing again. As important as music may be to our upliftment and well being, it is pretty much the last thing that anybody considers buying when money is tight. Buying tickets for concerts seems to fall several rungs down below paying the mortgage and insurance payments. 

In promoting nearly all my concerts I include a message that says, "if you're going through financial difficulty and cannot afford to attend, but would like to, please email me." Though I do have a few people take me up on this, there are very few who are willing to. I understand, we sometimes feel embarrassed by our down turn in luck and withdraw to weather it alone. But honestly, if there was ever a time to share with each other openly about our difficulties, this is the time. I encourage you to find a neighbor or friend to tell. You can always let them know that you are not expecting them to pull them through this, just share honestly about your struggle. There are two things that I know with all my heart will happen: 1.) you will feel lighter and more hopeful - and new possibilities that would never otherwise have occurred with be happening around you. 2.) You will have done a great service for your friend, trusting them, allowing them to listen to you and hold compassion for you.

In my own case, I am breathing and meditating, talking to a few friends and then doing the things to open up possibilities that I feel led to do. I can't say that I have come up with any brilliant answers, but I made one decision recently that really feels right - though it might seem at first completely backwards. I decided that I would play more benefit concerts  - and work toward finding sponsors who believe in what I'm doing and want to help me accomplish this by supporting my shows. That way ticket sales can always go to the worthy causes and I can still make a living by being paid partially by sponsors.

Sometimes, when I am feeling a sense of lack, the greatest thing I can do is to give something away. That is what I'm doing now, and partly why I began to give a way thousands of free downloads of some of my songs. Yes, I would very much love to sell more CDs, but when it comes right down to it, if my songs can give you something soothing and comforting, then I'd rather give them to you than for you not to have them at all.

Private Concerts at Your House (or venue of your choice) Private Concerts at Your House (or venue of your choice) Private Concerts at Your House (or venue of your choice)

Over the last 7 or 8 years about half of my annual concerts have been private concerts, where I am invited to perform for family and friends, small communities and companies. These are some of my favorite concerts and have been some of the most intimate and memorable of my life. I've played at a lodge in Glacier Bay, Alaska, on an island in Maine, a lovely home at the edge of the woods in New Hampshire. I've played on a deck overlooking a lake in California, on a little stage in a backyard in Vermont, a great winter lodge in Lake Tahoe, and to a hundred people enjoying a backyard sunset in Casper, Wyoming. Sometimes it's an intimate living room setting, a couple of months ago it was next to a fireplace in a small Washington State winery. I just never know where the next one will be - and that's what this is all about. 

My fee over the last few years has averaged $5,000, plus travel, for these private concerts. (that includes juggling, donkey dancing and cake decorating) Though there are plenty of folks around who can afford such things, I certainly wouldn't be one of them. And I know most of you aren't. In hopes of sparking more interest in private concerts around the country in this new year, I'm going to drop my normal fee and invite people to make a proposal. If you'd like me to come to your house or your town and perform a concert for friends and family or your employees or colleagues, make me an offer. If I can make it work with other events I am doing, I will take you up on it and together we'll create a concert that you and your loved ones will be talking about for years. 

Please visit my private concerts link and read a bit about what my concerts are like, what some of the considerations are in pricing and travel, etc. Then if you are interested, feel free to write me and we'll see if we can make your vision come true.

~Sponsors~ ~Sponsors~ ~Sponsors~

In the coming months I will be accepting tasteful sponsorships for my free song downloads page. Since I have giving songs away, I have been averaging more than 2000 downloads and listens of each song, and getting several thousand hits to my page per month. I've found that a number of folks have been sending friends who were unfamiliar with my music, and that's been a great boost for me. 

For potential sponsors, you'll be noticed by an audience of thoughtful people, who take the time to go and listen to a song - and may well be open to what you are selling. Of course, I will have to feel that we are in alignment with each other. I've never allowed my music to be used for commercials because I like to know that there is an integrity in what I do and that I won't use my music to sell something I don't believe in. Whether you have a book or some artistic creation to advertise, a business or some great cause to promote, if you wish to sponsor the download of one of my songs, please get in touch and we'll explore the possibilities.

My first sponsor is The Green Brush, Eco-friendly Painting. They are a highly trusted Seattle-based company specializing in painting with environmentally safe, non-toxic paints and stains. I really appreciate their support and hope you'll visit their site the next time you're thinking of painting or redecorating your home or business.

Thank you for visiting my site. Next month I promise I'll be back to my ol' humorous stories. I hope you're doing well this early new year and that you're remembering to take some deep breaths now and again.

Your friend in windy Seattle,
March 21, 2010
Howdy my friends,

You know that feeling of frantic vertigo you get when you unexpectedly see yourself in the mirror and are startled to realize that something about your appearance does not look at all like you thought? Well, my experience last evening was a little bit like that. I had just returned home from being out and about for several hours; traipsing in and out of the post office, through my neighborhood market and into a coffee shop for a lengthy stay, when I noticed a shocking discrepancy in my footwear. How is it possible that for over seven hours I never noticed that I had on my left foot a shoe of an entirely different color than the one on my right foot? I'm as serious as a detached retina, my friends. All day long I had trotted around in public wearing one gray shoe and one brown one. Did people see this and snicker? I couldn't say. I certainly don't recall anybody pointing toward my feet and wheezing in hysterics, but it's possible that I missed it. I tend to block out all potentially life-threatening humiliation. I can only pray that I have not unknowingly been doing this sort of thing for years. If I am wrong though, if you have seen me at the opera with my pants on backwards or perhaps, at church with my deer antlers on upside down, I'd rather just not know. The next time you notice me in such a state, PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME! Just bite down hard on your lip and try to make it past me without snickering. And never, ever reveal to me what a buffoon I am. I will simply continue on, thinking of myself always as "The Continental; Well-Dressed Man About Town."
~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~
Yesterday, while typing on my laptop and oblivious to my footwear faux pax, I happened to witness a very tender scene at Tully's Coffee and thought I'd tell you about it. I don't often write at coffee houses anymore because of the caffeine factor: It can put an edgy spin on my writing that I do not intend. For instance, I might set out to write about the delightful chirping of young chickadees in springtime. But then, inexplicably, I'll find myself pounding out a frenzied, sweat inducing account of careening in a stolen vehicle to the squeal of bald tires on a hot tar road. Why do I do this? My parole officer suspects it's the caffeine but will not rule out some other root cause. At any rate, I seldom can find a way to tie my precious chickadees back into the story line and they usually end up flittering off on some flimsy tangent.
Perhaps caffeine also explains why in my real life, on the rare occasions when I have drunk a whole gallon of thick, black coffee with a dozen donuts, I will sometimes lose track of my activities and later notice broken furniture, one or two of my teeth missing, and deep tire ruts in my front yard. The furniture I can glue back together, the ruts are easily filled. I must admit though, tooth carving is a fine art that I have not sufficiently mastered. Thankfully, plastic Halloween teeth from China are cheap and easy to find. (I'm pretty sure they are well monitored for lead and other toxins - please let me know if you hear otherwise) Anyway, for today's rambling, let's just keep it simple and caffeine-free, shall we?

I was sitting in a Tully's Coffee house yesterday, about to begin writing, when a conversation between two people began at the table next to me. It was one of those intensely personal conversations that you simply cannot help but listen to, even though you feel you may be invading someone's privacy.

A man had sat down in a chair with his back to me. A few minutes later a woman arrived and sat across from him. Their appointment was clearly pre-arranged and seemed to be a business meeting. I didn't pay much attention at first. Then their short greeting ended and the woman somewhat loudly broached the subject of her very hurt feelings. It was a surprising statement to hear so boldly announced in the quiet of a coffee house. I looked around and saw that every person within earshot had also looked up from their reading and typing to give this their full attention. How amazing, I thought, that no matter we were doing, we all paused when we heard someone bring up the subject of hurt feelings.

From his sudden silence, I was pretty sure that the man was as taken aback as we were. I think he'd thought this was to be a friendly visit and not one where he was going to be taken to task for something. I couldn't see the woman from where I sat, but her voice was firm and surprisingly loud, considering the public venue. If you hadn't understood English, you'd have easily thought from her assertive tone that she was talking about business, but it was all about emotion. I tried to get to my writing, but it was as if there was a vacuum in the room and everyone's focus was being pulled toward their table.

Her words were clipped and distinct as she detailed an event from the week before when she and the man were sitting with groups at separate tables and he had apparently taken offense at something she had said. He started to blurt out a few words in his own defense, but she kept talking and he seemed to change his mind and sat there listening to everything she had to say. When she finished, the void she left seemed vast. It screamed for a response. But he waited a few seconds, maybe taking in what she'd said. Then very compassionately, he spoke.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know you felt that way. I guess I was feeling kind of hurt, too." It was not what any of us expected. Two women watching from nearby tables suddenly exhaled and relaxed, their postures immediately less guarded. It was as if the barometric pressure had just shifted, everyone's ears had popped, and we could all breathe again.

Then, in a completely new voice, she divulged something to him as if he were her trusted confidante. "Not many people know this about me," she said, "but I have fairly extensive hearing loss. So sometimes I not only don't hear well, I also speak too loudly and don't realize that I have done so."

That explained the loud presentation. I realized how wrong I'd been about her, judging her from her manner and voice. She went on to explain that at a gathering the week before, when the conversation at this man's table had grown too boisterous and loud for her enjoyment, she had made a comment that they should "hold it down over there!" The thing was, she explained, she had thought she was speaking to only the people at her own table, but actually, the folks at his table had heard her and thought it was a rude admonishment. They had been taken aback that she was shouting at them to stop having such a good time.

"I had no idea!" he said. "We just thought you were angry with us."

What happened next truly surprised me. She began to cry, and in an almost whimpering tone she said, "I-I-I-I'm sorry," and began to quietly sob, her posture crumpled smaller and more fragile. It couldn't possibly have been a more surprising change of mood. He pushed his stool back, got up and walked around to her and gently embraced her. It was the first time I'd been able to really see them and it was truly the most genuine, loving sight. It felt like everyone in the room let out a sigh. As the two embraced, I could only hear muted, murmurs between them now, something private that the rest of us could not discern. I was glad for that, wishing for them their own private moment of healing and forgiveness.

As I gazed at some of the strangers in the room, we held each other's eyes for an unusually long second. It was a moment filled with our mutual humanness; the things in us that are so very much alike. Every one of us knew intimately, from personal experience, something very close to what we'd just witnessed; the story of hurt feelings and misunderstandings and rigid stances. But also, we were reminded of the possibility of forgiveness, of the tender healing that can come out of pain when we finally stop holding onto a wrong we feel has been done to us and allow ourselves to breathe in love again. Sometimes it just takes the courage to listen to someone's story.

As they hugged, I heard him tell her that he was so glad she'd let him about her hearing. They even laughed softly for a moment. A few minutes later she left, her whole being radiating peace and gratitude, the exact opposite of what she'd walked in with. He sat there in silence for a while, and then a few minutes later, he left too. And I knew that whatever I'd planned to write you about had just been replaced with that beautiful healing I'd witnessed.

I doubt either of them had any idea what they'd done for those of us listening, what they'd left behind for us to feel and savor and think about. And I'm sure they'd be surprised to know that I had lingered afterwards to tell you their small, soft story of healing - so that we all might help it to ripple out even further in the world.

~Concerts~ ~Concerts~ ~Concerts~

There are several concerts I'm working towards. One of my most exciting is coming up on Whidbey Island at Mukilteo Coffee Roasters on April 24. I am so happy to have found out about them. Gary and Beth Smith are the owners and because of their great love of music and community, they have built a performance stage inside their large roasting room. They hold concerts there year-round and have invited me to perform there. I'll be doing a benefit for, the animal rescue organization on Whidbey Island. Click Here and you can read more about this show.

~A Morning of Music & Conversation~ ~A Morning of Music & Conversation~ ~A Morning of Music & Conversation~

               Saturday, April 10, 10:00am to Noon
For several months now I have been feeling drawn toward hosting some informal gatherings where I can play a few songs, we can talk and discuss our lives and thoughts, and then finish out with a quiet meditation. I used to do these sessions during my weekend retreats, which I named, A Gathering of Friends.

This will be my first of a new series of Songs and Conversation. It will be held at Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center in Seattle. Click here to find out more about the event. I hope you can join us.

~Private Concerts~ ~Private Concerts~ ~Private Concerts~

For several years I have played concerts in private homes, backyards, churches and community centers around the U.S. Sometimes I'm flown in for a special birthday celebration, a wedding, even a lovely house warming in Oakland, a few years back. I love these private shows and feel that there is something deeply intimate about stepping into a world of friends and family to share my songs for a day.

If you are interested in having me come to perform a special private concert in your area, please click on my Private Concerts link and read more. We can create an event that you will still be talking about for years.

~Free Song Download~ ~Free Song Download~ ~Free Song Download~

I have recently been offering up a free song for download on my website. I've been surprised at how many folks have taken me up on my offer. This month I am posting one of my favorites of all my songs, Cherry Blossom Wine. It's a song about my love of springtime and I think you'll really love this one. It's on my Watching the Storm Roll In CD, which is my favorite of all my solo-acoustic recordings. Please feel free to send friends by my site to download as well. Everyone is welcome.

Thank you so much for visiting and for reading my latest rambling. I never know what I'll write next, but I always hope that I offer you something that makes you feel your time was well spent. I hope this coming springtime is a lovely one for you and that you get outside and enjoy the trees and flowers and birds. And don't forget to take some deep breaths now and then.

Your friend in breezy Seattle,

PS, I'll leave you with the lyrics to Cherry Blossom Wine

Cherry Blossom Wine
by Michael Tomlinson ©1999

I was walking on a cool
Kind of cloudy afternoon
Something happens in the spring
I start to drift

Dreams are half already real
Quiet, waiting to reveal
When at last you have the faith
They can come alive, and will

Oh, the way it all became is sweeter than it seems
And everything here was born within a dream
And now you and I are part of all that's in this
Yearning Heart
That imagines all these things

She scatters seeds along the ground
She pours some water in a pail
When she sprinkles it around
We all think it's rain

Raindrops stream from the sky
Or from her eyes, it's all the same
Her benevolence of life
I just live and drink it in

Oh, the way it all became is sweeter than it seems
And everything here was born within a dream
And now you and I are part of all that's in this
Yearning Heart
That imagines all these things

For a moment I was lost
In the cherry blossom dust
Something finally broke the spell
I'm going home

I guess I'm still a little drunk
On that cherry blossom wine
I can never get enough
I overdo it every time

Oh, the way it all became is sweeter than it seems
And everything here was born within a dream
And now you and I are part of all that's in this
Yearning Heart
That imagines all these things

From the CD: Watching the Storm Roll In