from the inside out...

Mrs. Claus is driving the sleigh! Merch now available! 

Well, its been a long process to get to the point where I get to bring you some merchandise from the beloved Christmas book, “Two Cups of Milk” but its on its way! Knowing that you all would enjoy a shirt to wear as you go about making all the magic happen that pulls the line from the story “Mrs. Claus is the one driving the sleigh!” just seemed like the perfect thing for this year. I'm doing a pre-order right now through October 27 to make sure I order the right number of shirts so no one misses out! Tees, long-sleeve tees, and hoodies (you know I'll be living in mine!) available so go ahead and order and I'll send out a note when they're ordered (again, aiming for October 27) and they have about a two week production timeframe. Please please please tell your friends. Share the link. Buy one to share. Buy one to give. A portion of all proceeds will go to Yates Christmas Program that gives back to families right here in our community to make Christmas a bit easier for those who need a helping hand this year. 

Thinking about Christmas early so you don't have to! 



PS. Two Cups of Milk is now in stock as well, so make sure you order those books to gift as well! 

Two Cups of finally here! 

Well, my friends, I'm not sure this day could have taken any longer to get here...or that I could be any more excited to share this project with you all! My Christmas Book, Two Cups of Milk, is ready to make its way into your homes. This story, to me, is the other side of the Night Before Christmas and it fills in the story of what Mrs. Claus is doing with all her time, a story long over-looked. From one parent to another, this is a story that changes the traditions on Christmas Eve, and rewrites the history books in regards to all we thought we knew about Santa and his workshop!

I hired a local illustrator, whose worked I love, named Caitlin Pallischeck, and she really is the one who brought this story to life through her stunning watercolor illustrations. Caitlin is a local artist, native of Penn Yan, and fellow lover of Keuka Lake, and I can not tell you how pleased I was to have her join in this process. It was so important to me to have people involved in this project who understood my vision for just how timely this story was, and yet able to keep the whimsy and nostalgia that I love most about Christmas traditions in tact, and Caitlin did just that. Each illustration I love more than the last, and think I am able to pick a favorite until I glance at another one. If you aren't following her on social media, she is known as Stumblemouth on most platforms, and I highly recommend you give her a follow. I can't say enough good things about her art, and I truly think she's going buy something now! 

In addition to using a local illustrator, I also used a local graphic designer and press to get these stunning hardcover books to you. Now more than ever, I just think we need to band together in our communities to support local artists, craftspersons, and tradespeople. 

Pre-orders are currently being accepted because this first printing is a limited edition run! Only 250 copies are available, so make sure you preorder from my website and guarantee your copy of this fun twist on Christmas Eve for this year! 


I am grateful for all of you for your continued support of my artistic ventures, and I don't take any of this process for granted. Thank you all for your support and I wish you the safest and happiest of holidays in this most bizarre of years. Come get lost with me in this wonderful, fun, story that brings Mrs. Claus to the forefront. 

All my love, 


i'm not afraid of the quiet 

Hello friends! Its nice to be back here...thinking about connecting with everyone again. I'm not sure about you, but this new normal has me on a rollercoaster. One day, I am fine. I function as if it is my usual day off, yes even midweek. But then I hit a spell where the lack of movement unsettles me. We are all experiencing the very same feelings, just in our own ways. This I know. I don't have advice for you. That's never why I write. I think I write to give myself advice. 

I was talking with a friend recently, sharing our laments and joys through all of this, and we both decided there are parts of us that have needed attention that we had been too busy to address. I don't just mean we should go for a run, or take a walk, or for the love of all that's good, put down that sixth cookie you've snuck from the freezer today. But I mean, the things on the inside that are easy to ignore when on chauffeur duty, or working, or the daily grind that was our life up until about five weeks ago. But guess what? The quiet gives us room to breathe into that. To explore what's in our heads that we try not to deal with. Now we have no excuse. Perhaps you've been feeling that nudge also...

I'm certainly not saying that you should tackle things you're not ready to. But perhaps, consider the possibility of picking one thing. One habit. One vice. One goal. One thought that is not productive. That negative voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough, or that challenges you. Pick that thing. My guess is you're already thinking of it. You've probably thought of it as you've read this and pushed it aside several times already. Yes, that one. Pick that, and turn it around. Find some quiet in your home today. Or if you're in upstate NY as I am, you can go outside in the crazy wild wind and let it rush over you. Focus on why that thing is there. And turn it around. Turn your weakness into strength. Face it head on. Embrace it. And then, find some joy in the quiet...its the only place that allows you to get this work done. No TV. No music. Just you. Yourself. Your effort. Show up for yourself. Make an effort to make today better than yesterday, even if just for the ten or fifteen minutes you devote to yourself. Focus. Center. Reflect. Redirect. Energize. Express gratitude. Forgive. I'm not sure what it is you need to do, but today, I'm not afraid of the quiet...and you shouldn't be either. 

I am working on new music. I hoped to record this spring, but in light of all the things going on, that's not a certainty. But know that I am trying to tell it from where I am, and I hope to get that new music to you soon. 

Be well, and these blogs will be more frequent these days...I hope you keep reading. 

Love to all,


A Long Winter's Night  

Friends! Its been a long season of trying to work on finishing up and tidy up some projects that I desperately wanted to get into your hands. We have spent the last months reworking, remixing, and remastering this Christmas Album, and although we were thrilled with it last year, we felt we could address some of those smaller details that we heard and feel like we missed the first time around. I feel like there's really something to be said for letting things be what they are once sent out into the universe, but this one, we wanted to make better for you, and for ourselves. 

In the meantime, I recorded a brand new version of Coventry Carol to put as a bonus track on this record, and to me, its a haunting version of one of my Christmas favorites. I hope you love it, as I'm attaching it for you to hear! 

For wherever and however you celebrate this season, I hope these songs bring you joy, comfort, and a soundtrack as you carry on through one of the most special times of the year. 

From my heart to yours--



I've been radio silent for awhile, and I'm sorry I've been "away," but we've had a lot going on. Summer is a beautiful time where we live, and I look forward to summer all year long. I love the heat, and the sunshine, and flowers, and the breeze, and the water, and our boat. I have many things to be grateful for in the summer, and certainly more time to reflect on the things for which to be grateful. I am not working this summer as I have in past summers and I had all these glorious plans for what I was going to do with my time. Ha! Jokes on me for that one. I have instead been with family. I have only played a couple of shows during the summer and although I really do miss it, I realize that my summer has gone exactly as it should. I was invited to sit down, and rest, and be present.

Invitations are funny things...we often get invited to events, and I think for the most part, unless its for work, we all look forward to those invitations. But what about the invitation to sit still? Our vacation just ended, as my husband went back to work today, and we had grand plans for our vacation as well. The list we inevitably make for things to do to fill our time and our vacation ended up being a staycation. It rained for the first six days. I'm not even kidding. We were frustrated for the first bit, and then decided to just settle into it. We napped. We played board games until midnight. We sat in the rain. We danced in the rain (don't worry, video is forthcoming on this won't want to miss it), and we were together. And you know what? We had a great time. We watched Jaws 1 and 2...couldn't make it all the way through Jaws 3, but don't fault me for that one please. We ate a ton of food. We breathed for the first time in a long time. We were entirely grateful when the sun colored the sky again, and I was grateful when the air lightened up a little so my hair wasn't one big frizzy mess (c'mon, you know exactly what I mean for this one too...).

We were invited, only our invitation was to sit still.  Our invitation was to be together, because at the end of the day, that's really all that matters. Is that you're surrounded with the people you love, who love you. And that you love them well. We found so much to be grateful for, and for that, I can't complain. 

To love where you are, and who you are with, is what life is about. So I invite you to live your life, your best life, with a full and open heart for all that is coming your way. Find the joy in the small things. And if you need me, I'll be dancing in the rain. 





So we are in the middle of a crazy time right now with my daughter's dance recital coming up. But in all these hours I sit watching these young girls dance, I found myself watching just how free they are. They are young, and a tad bit nervous to forget their steps, but overwhelmingly the majority of them are so carefree. They move their bodies in this amazing way that paints the air and makes it swirl around them. And I find myself wondering, when am I that free? Am I ever that free? 

I'm not sure there are many places in my adult life, or even in my childhood that I wasn't concerned with what people thought of me, or if I was doing the right thing, or just totally able to be myself. I mean, its scary to let the world see you, to really see you. In the last few years, however, I have realized that I am most myself when writing music. Its such a natural extension of my thought process, and what madness is already happening in my head, and I can't imagine not having that outlet. And I wonder, how many of you feel carefree in your daily lives? Do you feel free at work to be yourself? Are you in love with your jobs? Or is it drudgery? Do you come home to a spouse or partner who lets you just be you in all your weird, odd ways? Do you have that one friend who you can sing Hero with at the top of your lungs? (Don't tell me that you don't know every word to that song, cause I know you're lying...)

I just wonder...when are you free to be you? Twirling through life, enjoying the breeze on your face as you turn? I am free with my kids, and when I teach, and when I write. It took me a long time to be free when I sing. Its hard to be a performer...bc you're constantly worried about what people think, if you're forgettable, if you're in tune, is this the right note, what's the next verse, etc. But I can say, when I'm not hired to be a karaoke machine, I am free. I think people enjoy my music the most when I've written something that I love to sing. I think that energy shows up in my voice, and its contagious. One of my favorite people in this world carries that energy with her all the time, and when she sings, she lights up the room. I aspire to that sort of energy. Because I know she is free when she sings. I am a work in progress. My feeling free to just be me, and not be sorry for my imperfections is also a work in progress. I'm not perfect, and knowing that makes me afraid, especially as a performer. But, can I just tell you that up front? Can I just be honest, that I'm probably going to mess up every now and again, and forget a word, or a whole verse, or sing a wrong note, or whatever. Can I just let myself off the hook now so that when I sing for you, you know I'm singing because I just love to write and perform? And if I let myself off the hook, that means I'll let you off the hook too, as long as you'll admit that you're not perfect either. That you're a work in progress, and that you're aspiring to be a freer, better version of yourself also. Cause man, if we all have to pretend to be perfect, we're never actually going to get to know the most real versions of each other, and I'll tell you what, I don't want any part in that, and I don't think you want that either.

So, here's to tomorrow...may you find yourself just a bit more, and heck, even find yourself dancing a bit throughout the day. Go ahead, try it, you know you want to. If you upload a video of you twirling through your day, make sure to tag me and use hashtags on IG #thisisjoy, #beautybeckons, and #twirlingfree so we can keep tabs on each other being real. I suppose this is a bit like, stop and smell the roses, but instead, I want you to stop, and enjoy who you are, from your eyebrows to your toes, because you are so worth enjoying. Don't worry, I'll upload my own video, I promise. 

Goodnight my friends. 



Count on Me  

Count on me. That sounds nice, doesn't it? Like, "Hey, count on me, I've got this." Rest easy. Breathe. Just be. I'll do all the work for you. If only. If only that's the way things worked. But can we just all say out loud that counting on OTHER people is HARD WORK? Can we just all admit that we have this bone in our bodies that makes us all just want to do it ourselves? But listen, I want someone to move the world for me. I WANT someone to go to the ends of the earth for me. My husband has lapped the world several times and continues to lap it for me. I would hope he would say the same about me. I try to lap the world for my kids. I really do. Not that I want to give them everything in terms of stuff. But I want to give them EVERYTHING in terms of love, and trust, and security, and truth, and peace of mind. 

Peace of mind. That's another funny one. What actually gives you peace? Have you thought about it? When your head hits the pillow at night what makes it so you can rest easy? I know for a lot of us who are just too darn busy, sleep, regardless of exhaustion, is hard to come by. Its probably different for everyone, but maybe, just maybe, the relationships in your life are key to your peace of mind. I'm not saying you need to get married to have peace of mind. In fact, lots of us married folk would readily admit that marriage is a ton of work to really get to the place where you have peace of mind and can actually rely on the other person the way you probably thought you should when you got married. I'm just saying, maybe there's a friend or a sibling or a co-worker that you can open up and bare your soul to that can help you carry your load. Not that as adults we can't actually handle what life gives us, but man, it sure is nice to have someone to share it with. 

I often get lonely. I tell my husband often that loneliness comes in waves. I used to have a ton of girlfriends that I'd share my soul with. That list of friends has shrunk over the years and I have days when I miss the phone calls (yup, I do actually miss talking on the phone!) with someone, sharing life. Its no offense to my husband, which he understands, its just different. But let me tell you what, I MISS having friends to love. I miss buying birthday presents and eating cake and going shopping and all those girly things I used to do ALL the time with my friends. Part of my problem is that as a creative type, in order to be creative, I have to be alone. I can't write a song with a bunch of noise in the next room. I just can't. I have to be alone with my thoughts to figure out lyrics, and to process emotions to see how they translate to song. I write my melodies, progressions, and stories alone. That's part of the deal for me. But over the years, that need to be alone to become who I am meant to be creatively has led to a decrease in time, that coupled with life in general, and so finding time to be with those friends is harder to come by. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying in that I am blaming anyone. Of course I'm not. What I am saying is that its a tricky balance. And I miss having friends with open schedules and lives to share life with. Do you ever feel that?

So, this song, count on me, is about me wanting to share life. With you. I always tell my husband, we don't get to choose what happens to us, but we get to choose how it goes after the fact. We get a say in how we respond and how we make the next move. I somehow get the privilege of being a creator of music in this life, and I feel like these stories are important enough that I take the time to record them and send them out into the world, unknowing of how the world will receive them, and even if just one of you resonates with what I'm saying, or have been through, then somehow its all worth it to me. Totally, incredibly worth the journey.

Sadly, this brings me to the end of the stories of the songs on this project, and I can't thank you enough for sticking around. I so appreciate anyone who is reading this, and don't worry, this won't be the end...You can count on me, cause I'll move the world for you. 


Let the pen hit the page
escape the break of day
oh clear the air as the body waits

And though the fear is real
the longing for your love
and the current of being in your arms

Count on Me I'll move the world for you (4x)

Find a way to change the path
but the arrow's been pulled
released, direction moving on

eyes forward, ever strong
Oh I keep pushing on
for all the things that can be made right

Count on Me, I'll move the world for you (4x)

If you stay....

Count on me I'll move the world for you...

When the Watchman Sleeps... in Syria and at home...  

In this wake of what happened this week, I feel like this song is so timely. When the Watchman Sleeps was written after seeing an image of a boy in Syria covered in ash and blood (here's the link, but I won't show the image here as I don't own the rights to this. Syrian Boy)The news these days is just as heartbreaking and I find myself cringing often at the revelation of what we will do to each other. 

This song is the story of a people (insert any number of nationalities here) who trust those in power to protect them. Trust implicitly that those they elected will stand watch over wrongdoers. This is a story about those in power lying about what they are doing and how they are doing it. Its mostly about the loss of life. The loss of innocent lives in a battle far bigger than what our eyes can see. And sending those lives to slaughter willingly, like pawns in a game of chess. 

This song is also about me recognizing the ways that I sleep through what happens around me. The ways that I am silent. And the things that really urge me to speak up and act. I am guilty of being silent for far too long about the things that matter most. Its my hope that this song challenges you to see, to stand guard, and to not sleep while life passes by and is costing some people all they have. 

This story is far from over, but for now, I urge you to listen...and wake up. 

until next time,


Oh My Heart...  

Do you ever talk to yourself? Of course you do, you might just not want to admit to it. I absolutely know that I'm not the only one. And I sort of get a free pass because I'm one of those creative types, you know, "I'm just working out lyrics, or ideas, out loud. Its just part of the process." Well, I'm not ashamed that I talk to myself because sometimes me and I have really great conversations. (Its okay, go ahead and laugh. But just try it out, you might enjoy it.) This song was the last one written for this project, and was only about a week old when we recorded it. But I just felt that this thread of conversation was missing from the project, and was wholeheartedly needed. 

I often feel like the external world is exhausting. Some of that comes from the fact that I am by nature an introvert until I'm in my world of fellow creators, and then I am a total extrovert. The outside world is always moving, and always hurrying, and always telling us that we're not enough, that anyone who can't keep up will be left behind. And I think in every way this is so very wrong. Our world pushes us to do things before we're ready; everything from going to school, to reading, to writing, to loving, to growing up, to being perfect, to making decisions about our jobs and lives in front of us before we're 18 years old, and then urging us to never stop moving, even when our lives are falling apart in our hands. And let's not talk about grief or loss. Have you ever grieved? Have you ever lost anything so precious that it stops you dead in your tracks and you're not ever sure that you'll stand up again? Well, in several ways, I have. I remember one especially dark day when I was trying to keep going, keep moving, keep pushing, and I was in front of the dryer folding laundry when the grief hit like a wave that took me to the ground. I don't remember how long I laid on the floor that day. But it was that day that I promised myself, I wouldn't just keep going. I wouldn't just keep pretending. I would listen. Not to anyone else, but to me. 

They say that pain is an indicator of a greater problem. And in so many ways that's very true. We, especially in our western world, run from pain. We do all we can to not face it, especially emotional pain. And I have to say it is not easy to face it. Its so much easier to ignore, until it just can't be anymore. This song was written for me, to me, by me. A love song to my heart. My heart is no stranger to receiving pain, nor to causing pain. I will tell you that the day I promised to listen to myself, to my body, to my heart, the weight of my pain was not as heavy. I promised to wait for my heart to heal, not to rush it, not to push it, not to force it. Rather, to encourage and admonish it to be made whole again. The verse from Proverbs now rings so true: "Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life." Wait, what? Everything you do flows from your heart? You mean its that important? Without question. 

So, this song is for me, to me, by me. 



Dust of the Road and Coffee, too.   

Track 9: This one is for my Grandmother, Jeanne. She was literally everything I could have hoped to be. Never uttered an unkind word about anyone. Had faith that moved mountains. Had an unending love for my grandfather. Had a fierce love for her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Loved God in a quiet but certain way. Stood her ground when she needed to. She always joked that she was never the grandma that baked cookies or anything. But she always had coffee. That might actually be my first memory of being at her house. All of us gathered around her very small kitchen table, but somehow we always had room, with an endless supply of coffee. We are of Danish descent, and I was always assured that was the reason for the goodies always present with the coffee.  My first cup of coffee was offered when I was little. Maybe not even in school yet. But it was always mixed by my aunt who gave me more milk and sugar than coffee, but nevertheless, there it was. As I got older, the coffee formula changed until I was drinking the same as my mom and my aunt--extra cream and just a tiiiiny bit of sugar. (Mostly because Grandma liked her coffee dark, and sort of thick, or well...strong). She knew the minute I was pregnant because I couldn't stand even the smell of coffee and never uttered a word until I felt far enough along to tell everyone we were expecting Jenna. It was only my first pregnancy that I couldn't stand the smell of it, but I went without it for both pregnancies, and she always very kindly offered me tea instead. 

After my Grandfather died, (I'll tell you stories about him sometime soon, I promise,) my Grandmother didn't spend one night alone for the eleven years she lived past him. We all took turns staying with her, and those nights are some of my fondest memories. It was my great pleasure to wake just before her and put the coffee on so that the house filled with that familiar fragrance the beckoned the start of our day. Our conversations over that coffee are some of my most treasured memories. It was then I learned of her adventures with her friends taking 40 mile bike rides and train rides, and renting a cottage on Keuka Lake with her girlfriends before she was married. She was an adventuresome girl who had lived through the death of two siblings (one very young, and one almost 18 years of age) and could still smile and laugh. She outlived her parents, whom I never met, but always spoke so highly of. (They both came over to America from Denmark and my great-grandfather even survived a shipwreck on the way!). I like to think I get a bit of my nomadic personality from them. My grandmother literally had to walk up hill to school both ways because of where she lived, I know, we always just thought it was a joke, but alas, for her, it really happened. There is a road in our town named after her family's farm, and that is where her family was shielded from many of the effects of the Depression...often taking in and feeding those with far less than what they had. She never had much, but she was always willing to share. 

Life was not easy for her. She had polio, and was in quarantine for an entire summer, away from her two very young children at the time. She went on to have four more kids after learning how to walk again, though polio took a great deal from her. She never drove. She was always quite dependent on my grandfather for pretty much everything. He loved her well, and in turn, she loved him. His last words to me were, "Take care of Momma." She was literally the last thing on his mind before he left this earth. And he was hers. As the end neared for her, I recall her talking about him, even if in her sleep. She often dreamt about him. That love was no small miracle. But year after year, nearly 57 if I recall, years of choosing to take care of each other. She worked hard with both her hands and her heart. 

This song is so much more than just that. Its my best attempt to date of trying to convey the immense gratitude and love that I had, and still have, for this woman whom I was privileged enough to call Grandma. I saved every note she every wrote me because her writing was impeccable. She used to design advertisements for the local paper as a job. Every beautiful font and design was hand drawn. This impeccable eye for fashion and detail. She always looked stunning, without being overdone. I believe my mom called her a fashion plate. I really can't say enough about her. But at the end of the day, when I think about what to say, I say this, "She loved me. And I, her." 

"...She was tied like the strings on her favorite guitar, worn and frayed, as she played the sweetest of songs, Tried and true, overdue to come home...Oh the dirt on her feet, and the dust of the road. The dirt on her feet, and the dust of the road..."