The last refrain 

No where in a music score does it tell a listener how to react properly. When you read music as you play it’ll cue your brain to manipulate the instrument that you are playing into crescendos or fortissimo or some other type of expression, but it doesn’t give the listener any cues as to how the music will affect their heart.  It’s up to you the musician to put  passion and voice into the music to make it memorable for the listener. 

He was the former band director of our little school in Iowa, and he passed away in a bike accident a few short days ago. Last night as I sat in the hot gym I sat with  his friends and family as we listened to speeches, scriptures and songs given in honor of a man who devoted his life to the art of making sure the listener listened to the music being played. 

His friend spoke of times they adventured. His oldest daughter spoke of his love for doing small things everyday to master anything.  Love poured out of the lifelong friend who sang “Bourning Cry.” Then there was a band, 40 steller musicians that offered their time and talent to honor the legacy of a man who had touched them in some way. 

I listened to the music played by this all star band made up of former students, colleagues, and lifelong friends and my heart captured a glimpse of deeper things that happen when one gives their time to play in a band. The diligence of practice that must occur. The friendships that form between people who play the same instument. The sheer grit it takes sometimes to get through learning a new song or instrument. And for this band specifically, it was the beauty of many parts making something amazing together to honor a man who knew God consistently, loved his family emmensly, and gave over 30 years of his life to the art of making music in the local school. 

Mr Dahn, you’ll be missed by this community you called home. You’ll be missed by generations of band students you so patiently guided and lead over your years as band director, but most importantly your life will be missed by a whole host of people that you encouraged excellence from simply because your passion for great music was contagious. 


making it to adventureland.

What follows is my May. It really isn’t intended to be poetic, meaningful, or solved. It is what it was, a super busy month that I walked through by the grace of God and with very little tears for myself, but for the folks around me I watched walked through it all as well. The friend who lost, the husband who lost, the students who lost, the mom who graduated her only babies who are triplets, the daughter who lost her mom, the grandkids who lost their grandma. I wonder sometimes when I will get over the feeling of feeling for others. Loss is important to mark I think, and so I am with this post. Forgive me I just need to dump some stuff off before June and start fresh.

We sat around a table in a backyard shortly after we all had walked in her absence for a few days. Grief laden we shared a meal and then shared memories until 3am. Threads of fresh grief wove themselves into the recollecting of memories shared. When you are chest deep in grief it’s really just comforting to just be around people who loved deeply and are feeling the missing texts, notes, and constant encouragement of a fellow traveler that was called Home just a bit to quickly in anyones book but God’s.

Meanwhile, I had just officially moved into the new studio on Broadway. Piles of art supplies, chairs and tables littered the new space desperate for a home, but that had to wait.

A wall simply had to come down before life could proceed as normal. While this was happening I received a text. “Kelly, I need to talk to you. When is a good time?” Texts like that are nothing but annoying simply because they hijack your thinking for a thousand and one minutes.DSC_1525

When he came over to my house that night, we discussed his new job opportunity and what that would mean for the future. Pride and grief flooded my thoughts yet again, he is just so brave to be answering God’s call but I wasn’t only losing an amazing friend but also someone I looked up to in his field that my changers loved. How could they possibly hire anyone as great as he? My chest tightened as I realized that once again the momentum of grief was swallowing me whole.

I sit here typing on day 29 of the month but on that 2nd of May I really just wanted the whole month to end. I set a goal. Just make it to Adventureland (a middle school band trip to an amusement park here in Iowa that I LOVE to chaperone.)  on the 30th and May will be over.  Make it to Adventureland.  Make it to Adventureland, but first you have to shoot a wedding…


and The Studio was looking to have it’s busiest month ever….

hosting creating for over 80 people, a memorial create and chat time for my friend,  a pop up clothes store, moms day out, Mr and the Littles, over 10 birthday parties and a weekly journal club. All this was going to happen in the midst of a renovation on that wall.

Her funeral was encouraging. I knew right when I rounded the corner to the church that it was going to be a packed house. I actually sat in the soundbooth because there was no more chairs. A full room to celebrate the life of a close friend who would have loved to be there too to see everyone. It was a beautiful God honoring service. It was the 16th of May.

But May stopped for nothing.

The week of graduation of my middle changer from high school the Lead singers grandma was admitted to hospice, and died a few days before the actual ceremony. Death’s sting knocked on the door of my heart and again I was ushered into the wave of loss, not only for my Lead, but for my beautiful sister in law and mother in law who walked Grandma Peg into Jesus’s arms.

After hosting a “Nacho Party” for 250 of our closest friends to celebrate my Middle Changer’s graduation. I immediately went into planning mode to finish the studio and host the amazing North Iowa Bloggers in an effort to get that word out about the Summer Kids Create Club. I knew they would take pictures of everything.. so everything had to be amazing.

Thankfully, Diamond Ridge Printing of Austin, MN was on board and they came and installed all the signs, (except for the front one.. there’s a town committee that needs to sign off on that) At this point I would have loved to just sit down and cry, but I forged ahead. A middle school band concert and a choir musical review, a very important day at a parade with the marching band (Band Fest Meredith Wilson award AND band queen!)

and I am now sitting on the cusp of Adventureland realizing that when the feelings of being overwhelmed snuck in I was quickly reminded to just do the next thing, make a list and just do the next thing I can, but even with that I was surrounded by folks who were carrying their own loads of May, but still took the time to lift me up in prayer, stand by my side handing me Kleenex, texting me to see if I was handling it all, and offering hands on support (especially for the grad party.) It might be true that it takes a village sometimes to walk through things together and I’m super thankful for my village, and tomorrow when I ride that raging water ride and eat those yummy funnel cakes I’m gunna be grateful for making it through to June.