Random Thoughts Make a Tiny Miracle During Shelter-in-Place

I’ve made more little critters than ever!I’m sharing a tiny gift I’ve found in this hot mess.

Bear with me, because it comes from a bunch of random issues, problems, frustrations, idle research on the internet, and resulted in my new-found work enhancer.

First: All my life, from the very first 45rpm record I bought (“Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds), I love to play a favorite tune over and over and over. (I can hear some of you screaming already…)

Also, when I am writing, or even reading, I can’t listen to music with words. It just jangles the connections in my brain. Soon I’m singing along, not aware that I’ve also stopped reading/writing.

So I can’t listen to lyrics during those activities. Put a pin there.

More on music: I have a CD player in my studio. Old school, I know. I also have Pandora radio, and I tried to use that, especially because CDs only give 45 minutes to an hour of playtime. I got the internet radio because my husband has had one for years. How many years? Let’s just say it’s a century in “internet years.”

Because he’s used it so long, it now automatically plays even random music that suit his tastes. Mine, not so much. I tried searching for artists, songs, music genres, etc. But it never complied anything I could listen to for more than five minutes.

So I quit using it, and went back to my CD player. At least I can play discs of music I love and have collected over the years.

But there were problems there, too. First, as I said earlier, I’m one of those obnoxious people, the ones who fall in love with a song, and play it over and over and over and over and over until everyone around me wants to scream.  (Have you stopped yet?) (I have my reasons why, but I won’t bore you with them today.) (Unless you ask, of course.) 🙂

So I have to constantly hit “replay”, which means I have to push a button every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Or constantly skip over the songs that annoy me.

I worry about driving my neighbors crazy, especially in my “one-song-repeat-a-thousand-times” mode. (Put a pin here, too.)

Also, I’m in a huge building with dozens of other artists. We all have our individual workspaces, and fortunately, we don’t share air systems or even heating ducts. (No heat.) But I can hear their conversations from time to time, off-key whistled accompaniments to their own music, etc.

I ended up wearing ear plugs, which work great. But now I can’t hear my music, right?

If I play my music loud enough so I can’t hear them, it’s actually TOO loud (because the ear buds don’t fit.) And if I play my music loud enough so I can hear it no matter where I sit in their studio, well, then I’m bugging THEM.

And after the shut-down orders came, I was a little stressed even in my happy creative space. It was harder than usual to focus and dig into my projects.

Put a pin there.

Around the same time, I was complaining to my husband how all my ear buds suck, because a) I can’t get them inserted adequately to get the best sound unless I hold them in place, which is not conducive to doing my art work because I NEED MY HANDS TO WORK; and b) they hurt my ears.

So he gave me his old headset, an inexpensive refurbished model he’d bought for his work’s online conferences, but never used because it didn’t have a microphone.

I love them. The sound is great, they are comfortable, and I can plug into my phone, tuck my phone in a pocket, and move about the studio easily. (Before, I would forget I was “plugged in”, jump up from one work station to move to another, and nearly destroy my phone and everything on my desk in the process.) (Pin!)

A couple months ago, I found a delightful little video by Ainslie Henderson online. I can’t for the life of me remember how.  I think someone posted it on Facebook?

I fell in love with it. He mentions how his little animated figures carry a bit of sadness, and when the little one pulls at the arm of a larger one who’s stilled already at 2:00 minutes into the video, I felt that.

I also fell in love with the music. When I looked up more of his film shorts, I saw how he has collaborated with various musicians over the years.

So I looked up Poppy Ackroyd, who did the music for that little video, and found more of her music. Her work sounds simple, but it’s also complex. How she makes it and puts it together is astonishing.

Then I realized I can “sample” Ackroyd’s album “Leaves”, which has three of my favorite songs on it: “Salt”, “Timeless”, and “Roads”.

They have NO WORDS.

They are hypnotic.

They repeat, in order, over and over and over.

No pushing buttons. No being tied to a three-foot leash. No noise to bother my neighbors. No noise to bother me.

And now I’m hooked.

I get to my studio, set up my phone for Acroyd’s playlist, put on my headphones, and get to work.

I work steadily for hours on end, happy, heart-lifted, and soothed.

All these elements and issues combined and resolved by a $14 headset, and….

A beautiful collaboration between visual artist and music artist.

I never would have found Henderson’s work without surfing on Facebook, which can be a huge time-waster and a hotspot for fake news, etc.

I never would have found Poppy Acroyd’s music without finding Ainslie Henderson’s video.

I never would have found Poppy’s music if they had not collaborated.

I never would have found such a powerful way for me to get deep into the ‘Zone’ without my husband’s suggestion of using a headset.

Today I’m going to send some money to Poppy Ackroyd. I figure I owe it to her.

And I am so grateful all these random little elements, missteps, personal quirks, etc., came together and gave me just what I need right now to reinforce my creative work time.

What have you found that helps you get into that deep creative space that’s so important for our work?

P.S.  Another earworm you might enjoy: Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Emmy Lou Harris collaborating on “Speedway at Nazareth“. (Headphones or whatever gives you the best sound quality. Worth it!)

P.S.S. I was going to apologize for dragging you through tons of “little bits” that all came together to tell a story. Until I realized this is the heart of all my creative work. Little bits that get sewn/knit together, all carrying something intriguiging to me, with lots of tiny details, braided into a story that lifts my heart.

I hope it lifted yours today, to

Lots of braided stories in this new series, too!


Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

16 thoughts on “Random Thoughts Make a Tiny Miracle During Shelter-in-Place”

  1. So, the loving one song thing in not just an ADHD thing, but it totally can be. I understand needing the music to disrupt the distractions, environment is also very important to me. I have play lists for everything. Working my day job, writing, making jewelry, doing my stained glass, cleaning, cooking, and baking. And baking is different than cooking, so it needs a different play list. I had a little mp3 player for the longest time, but finally switched to a phone and bluetooth headphones. The one-eared ones for when I need to hear at least some of the outside world and double ears when I don’t. I love the internet for allowing me to find musicians I might not have been exposed to and also for letting me pay them for their art. It’s such a gift, especially these days.


  2. Thanks for the links to Henderson and Ackroyd!!! Here’s one you might like too–Marconi Union, Weightless. Very meditative!
    Be well. Carol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You reminded me of our search to find something our autistic son could listen to at school that would help him focus and drown out the little noises of his classmates. Before iPods, we had a Discman with a music collection we put together for him to listen to on repeat. We found no lyrics (or he’d sing along) and classical music with an upbeat complex sound. Mozart, some Bach, Vivaldi. The other kids wanted one too, but the teacher told them that it wasn’t their favourite pop singer, it was ‘easy listening’ and let them hear a sample. They all backed away from that idea.
    It wasn’t perfect for him, but it was the best we could set up for him. Later when he moved to home schooling, we simply put the music on the computer and he could cherry pick what worked for him. He’s gravitated to what I call ‘Japanese bubble gum’ music, often theme songs for various animé series or games. A similar tempo to the classical pieces I chose for him, which is conducive to a good mindset for productive work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was delightful! I enjoyed reading what you wrote, revisiting the animation and checking out the music. And I love the way the green beads harmonizes with the buff of the little horse in that necklace.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pam, that was inspired by Susan (above). I’ve always used multiple colors for my faux soapstone, but I was down to one shade, and a comment Susan made on another post bonked my memory to make more!


  5. thank you for this post!
    i felt i was reading something i would have written…..i am a weaver http://www.jesamiehanwovens.com] and find words with music distract me….i need to listen to myself talk, not others…..and, i will, also, play a song over and over…like wearing a comfortable sweater..
    the airbuds frustrated me…uncomfortable, and kept falling out. Awhile ago i got a headset….
    first, it stays in place
    and second, i like the way the music feels like it is inside my head….not outside in the room

    The video was delightful, lovely. i shared on fB and then checked out poppy ackroyd!
    Lovely. thank you so much for sharing this
    I will find her playlist!
    pam bartl


    1. Pam, I’m glad you shared the video, it’s beautiful in so many ways.
      I’m honored my writing felt authentic to you, too.
      And your observation about the music “inside”, SO TRUE!!! Thank you for that, too!


  6. Lol…Love this – Our brains are very similar!
    I must say I’ve actually been enjoying this time in lockdown. I’m creating more, playing in art with more abandon & confidence, bouncing along wherever my thoughts take me, with no gotta do’s! Thank you for the lovely musical links! Even apart we all still manage to connect in ways that touch each other’s hearts & souls. So fortunate there are so many ways to stay connected in today’s world.


  7. Lol…Love your writing style!
    I must say I’ve actually been enjoying this time in lockdown. I’m creating more, playing in art with more abandon & confidence, bouncing along wherever my thoughts take me, with no gotta do’s! Even apart we all still manage to connect in ways that touch each other’s hearts & souls and offer new ideas & inspiration. So fortunate there are so many ways to stay connected in today’s world.


  8. Thanks for the recommendation! I’d never heard of her and the music is absolutely perfect for what I need! I’d been using the lyric-less techno of Worakls, and it’s so nice to have new stuff that fills the same niche!


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