(no longer) uninspired….

It’s been a while.

I needed to reboot, for many many reasons.

I’m feeling better. (Thank you, The Headspace Show on Netflix for being the pleasant surprise along my journey.)

I challenged myself today….I’m making myself write, even though I don’t feel like saying much. Like any good habit, the more you let it slide, the harder it is to pick it back up. As much as I hated writing term papers as a required part of my adolescent education years, writing this blog has helped me find myself, it’s helped to find a new outlet for creativity, and it’s helped me to reconnect some friendships that I thought were forever broken.*

Trying to reconnect with my “joie de vivre” of being creative….perhaps “LeFloof” can help?

*And yes, I realize that if it wasn’t for trying to write as accurately as possible for all those years, I probably would never have been able to write a sentence with such eloquently crafted verbiage as these last two sentences above have been written. Thank you Bennett Elementary and Onteora Central, with mad props to my 5th and 6th grade teacher, George DeFina!)

The incredibly sad news I received about my ex’s recent passing has made me think a lot about my past….it’s also helped me to realize that my future isn’t written yet, and for my daughter’s sake and my families’ sake, I need to stay as focused and positive as I can be in the present.

It’s been a while.

I needed to reboot for many many reasons.

And I’m truly grateful that I did.

i’m a narcissistic, insecure, social media whore…..

……and I’ve caused a lot of damage to people my entire life.

Sandy Quaranda, Melissa Fisher, Jennifer Gray, Amanda Donis, Peggy Dyer, Lori Petramale, Tina Pratt, Bonnie Longbotham, Michal Sears Stowe and Jennifer Otto Mendez Stowe – I’M TRULY SORRY.

To friends and fellow students and colleagues I’ve hurt along the way – Anne DeWitt, Becca Saltman, Lynore Lawton, Jennifer Rodgers, Jeni Munson, Chuck Wilson, Todd Googins, Nanette Fellman Kaiser, John McGovern, the Red Hot & Blue Band, Mike Olexa, Aurora Velasquez and Beth Loudy – I hope you can all one day forgive me for the things I both said and did.

To my brother Lee – thank you for showing me later in life that you are the greatest big brother I could ever ask for. Seeing the husband you are to Margaret, and the father you are to Rose, Claire and Alyssa, you are the living example of courage, strength and perseverance.

To my friends Will Lee and Donna Pescow…thank you for giving this awkward and dorky band geek from Shokan New York the ability to DREAM BIG. Although I never got to share the stage with either of you, you gave me the inspiration to believe in myself, and this helped me on many the day I felt like I was the only one who believed in myself.

Jenn and Lauryn – please know this….I will ALWAYS be with you. ALWAYS. (Jenn – You don’t have to hold the beach ball underwater anymore.) ❤️

These people mentioned in this post are the people that I’ve hurt the most in this lifetime, and I vividly remember how I hurt them. This is why I can’t blog anymore. I’ve realized just how much damage has been done, and to be very honest with everyone, I really don’t like what I’ve become, and I’m tired of being such a “surface person”….for all of the words of support and comfort these last couple of weeks, I wish that I had more genuine compassion to receive it the way it should be received.

This is why I’m “shutting up”….I need to focus on fixing what is severely broken right now, even if that means making the ultimate sacrifice for the betterment and happiness of the ones I love.

Bye, everybody…thank you for allowing me to use this blog to tear my wall of fear down. Be well in all ways. 😊❤️🎶

the 18th hole?

This might be my last blog post on “The Back Nine.”

I’ve been doing this for two years. I never thought of myself as a writer, and I still don’t. This space was what I needed, but all things must pass.

Although I have found tremendous growth by blogging, I’ve never felt more narcissistic that I do today.

I appreciate all of the feedback and well wishes. My entire future is up in the air today, and blogging/social media is not part of my solution.

Thanks for reading.

52.

This is definitely not how I expected the week to go leading up to my birthday.

As most people know, I just found out that my ex-wife Michal died very unexpectedly and tragically nearly three months ago from a brain aneurysm. My emotions have been all over the place, as it’s a very complicated situation. There are moments of sadness and compassion, and there are moments of absolute anger and frustration.

There are fences to mend – not just with my former in-laws, but with many people. 10 years ago, I would’ve been driven by “getting approval” as my focus of mending fences. Now I realize that my motivation for doing so is because it’s simply the right thing to do.

I drove up to Pennsylvania this week and showed nothing but genuine compassion to my former in-laws. For as many reasons as I have to be upset and angry, I put all of that aside. I haven’t forgotten the things that happened between and Michal, but in comparison to the pain and grief her family is going through, my hurt is very minimal in comparison. I’m not the least bit ashamed to say that my heart breaks for my daughter and Michal’s family and friends, because I know they’re all truly devastated.

I’m also burying the hatchet with Miss Vitriolic (who’s name rhymes with “Seth Cloudy”)….she indirectly apologized for her actions towards me, and stated that what was said is not a reflection of who she is. In light of what else has happened this week, I’m at peace knowing that I forgive her, even if the apology was not directly given to me. Who amongst us has not ever hurt someone else very deeply. I know I have, and I’ve learned to forgive myself. By doing so, it’s easier for me to forgive others, including “Seth.”

Let’s go, Buffalo?
🎂🎉🎁🎈🎊☀️⭐️💕🦬

I’ve heard from a lot of people this week, telling me what I should do and how I should go about things in terms of my daughter. I genuinely appreciate everyone’s concern. I’m at peace with what I have decided going forward….as my focus is on her well being, I also know that she’s where she needs to be, and for me to make a sudden and shocking change in her life would not be good for anybody right now. As I’ve forgiven my ex-in-laws for the decision that had recently made regarding the communication around Michal’s passing, I hope that my family and friends can do the same.

I called this post “52”, as my 52nd birthday is Sunday. Although Jenn has been phenomenal in making this a wonderful birthday considering the circumstances, it’s going to be a bittersweet day, knowing that my daughter lost her mother. The best birthday gift I can ask for from everyone is to keep Lauryn and my ex-in-laws in your prayers. I’ve put and will continue to put my animosity in the rear view mirror.

With Jenn’s blessing, I’m going away by myself this weekend to AvalonFest, as it’s three days of live music. This was a planned trip, and I seriously thought about canceling. I need to get away for a few days….when people “run away”, it’s based on fear. I need to “go away” this weekend – to process what is happened, to enjoy the silence (except for the live music), and try to come back feeling like a better person than I do this morning. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and experienced receiving a lot of hurt in this life – lies, loss of trust, abuse…I choose to not live this way anymore, and to have a much healthier mindset. This is my birthday gift to myself.

I started to call this post “Lane Arthur Stowe, August 15, 1969 – August 15, 2021”, but I knew that everyone would freak out and misinterpret the title as a suicide letter. Trust me, that is something that I will NEVER do. I wanted to call it that because I’m hoping to “start life over” with this birthday. I’ve worked hard to get over a lot of the negativity that I have both given and received….I don’t want to be so unhappy anymore. Everybody’s lives look great on social media – I’ve used it to build this “happy persona” as a way of deflecting that I often deal with loneliness, depression and feeling inadequate. It’s time for me to “be the buffalo” – buffalos run toward thunderstorms instead of away from them….they face their issues head on.

Thank you to everyone for your love, friendship and support through this very challenging time….I’m going to do everything to ensure that my 52nd trip around the sun is brighter than ever before.

finding the true core of my creative soul.

Exactly two weeks from today, I’m going to be 52 years old.

For my birthday gift to myself, I’ve made a promise to not be afraid of challenging my true capabilities, out of such a fear of failure. Whether it’s writing new lyrics again, or becoming more fluent with the software I use with my job, or to learning acceptance of generosity and no longer fearing a failure to reciprocate appropriately.

I need to be a part of the solution to bringing passion back to creating music, and not be on the sidelines complaining about how most current pop music has become more about vibration than creativity.

It’s time to remember what it was like to enjoy writing short stories when I was much younger, and tap into the creativity, curiosity and wonder that helped me to find so many unique and one-of-a kind moments in my life throughout the years.

I’ve lived with this crippling fear since that horrific event so many years ago that altered the direction of my life, and I’ve created a comfort zone where I feel that it’s OK for me to be good enough, because I’ve been afraid to dig deeper to find out how good I could truly be.

I need to maintain the wisdom I’ve acquired in my life, but regain the level of curiosity and wonder that I had when I looked more like this guy.

In addition to continuing to write this blog, I’m going to select 52 of my friends whom I will write one letter to each of them over the next 52 weeks. I’ve always been the guy who writes those two “make them as impactful as can be” sentences in a card, instead of writing to friends in such detail in a card where I’m trying to express my feelings and end up being all over the place. (I’ve also always been the guy to say the shortest prayer. Mom, I’m so sorry.) I hope by doing so, I develop a much deeper sense of friendship and connection with these 52 people. Some of you may be VERY surprised to hear from me! 😊

I’ve more than passed the halfway point in my life, and God willing, I’m not at the 15/16th point (assuming our lives are in not created in sixteenths, of course). How much more capable can I become in my creativity? Is this the year I TRULY try doing stand-up comedy? (Dan Madonia and Mike Levinsky, you guys are part of the 52 friends group!) Is this the year I learn how to write sentences without using so many parentheses? (Hint: I’m not there yet.)

I’m excited, and focused on not being scared. To be pleasantly surprised and to have more gratitude on this journey is all I can hope for. Maybe that “To Enjoy The View, It’s a Mighty Nice Life” song popped back into my head for a reason.

By doing this, it’ll be a core workout. (True story – I was waffling between this and “it’ll make me happy to the core.” Damnit, there’s that parentheses thing again. And admit it – you giggled when you read that last sentence. I’m funny….get used to it. 😁)

my dog just ate your honors student.

One thing I remember very well from high school…..The Honor Society. I don’t remember it from being a member – I remember it more because of the snobby, “I’m smarter than you” attitude of the members in this “elite club.”

I remember being teased about my grades not being good enough, or that my average was inflated because of my grades for being in music ensembles (hello, Mark McNulty!)…here’s the thing – if not for those “fluff grades”, I might not have gotten accepted to the Ithaca College School of Music on the spot (both vocally and instrumentally….THANK YOU, Dave Unland!), and I would not have had such tremendous opportunities as a professional musician (see Cole, Natalie).

I don’t know if things have changed since 1986, but as we are now such a fractured society in terms of race, social class, gender, and just about everything else you can think of, I can’t help but think about how these seeds of division are created based on academic performance. As we now know much more about ADD and ADHD, as well as a much better understanding about different modes of learning, who’s to say that you’re a smarter human being just because of a grade point average?

Hey – does anybody know if Natalie Cole was an honors student?

Don’t get me wrong – in no way am I trying to diminish the success or careers of those who were Honor Society members….just like the jocks, the stoners, and the band geeks, we all fell into a certain group….some groups used their athletic and/or academic prowess as cause for feeling superior….I still think about that when I’m gigging, because I wouldn’t change what I’m doing as a professional musician to be a “brainiac”.

I remember seeing a bumper sticker back in the day that said “my dog just ate your honors student” …..although “my dog just shit all over your honors student” is funnier, I can only imagine the death stares I’d get from other drivers if I had that bumper sticker on my car.

To anyone who ever felt slighted or teased because of your grades – keep your chin up….WAY UP…we all have our unique gifts, and God knows we live in a world now where compassion and respect are far more important than just getting good grades.

And there’s a lot of honor in that.

a different kind of musical challenge.

“If you enjoy the view, it’s a mighty nice life.”

I’d love to say that I’m quoting a famous actor or entertainer with this quote, but truth be told, I was almost 100% sure that these were the lyrics from an R&B song I have not heard (and lyrics I obviously don’t remember) since 1983.

And that’s my new musical challenge….trying to find a 38-year-old obscure song of which I don’t remember the lyrics. For my friends who grew up with me in Woodstock – it was in a steady rotation on WDST in the mornings….yes, the odds are snowball-in-Hell, but I’m determined to find this song if it kills me….I loved the bouncy groove of this song, and I especially loved the chorus. I remember that the singer sounded a little bit like Irene Cara, but I’ve gone through her entire album catalog with no luck.

I look forward to the reward of this musical quest.

I’m hopeful that someone is familiar with this song, and that my description is enough to match it up. The last time I was on a quest like this was 2003, when I was trying to find D Train’s “You’re The One For Me” (thank you Ken Wine, for helping me find that!), so I hope to have the same success.

Although I’m not losing sleep over this, I know that when I do find it, I’ll have an incredible nostalgic flashback when I listen to it for the very first time.

That’s what makes this challenge so enjoyable!

8 things for which i’m thankful…..the cypress edition.

1. My awesome wife, who is not a nudist but supports me 1000% in my love of the clothing-optional lifestyle.

My only tan line this week.

2. That I’m getting the “Pastry Chef” award tomorrow, for getting through the week without burning my buns.

3. My family and friends who totally understand where I am this week, and the reason why I’ve been doing this for 26 YEARS.

4. My friends and family who totally do not understand where I am this week, and the reason why I’ve been doing this for 26 years. Just remember, I’m living MY best life, not yours.

5. The fantastic folks here at Cypress Cove…this truly is a community of acceptance, and it’s a community with a LOT of Upstate New Yorkers! Bonus!

6. The Mango Frozen Margarita industry….you will never go out of business….I’ll make sure of that.

Love my mango frozen margaritas this week!

7. The underrated bass playing of Darryl Dragon (the Captain in Captain & Tennille). It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a recording of C & T’s “The Way That I Want to Touch You” with the bass line isolated. He does some really impressive stuff on this tune. It’s been in my music rotation this week.

Refreshed and relaxed.

8. Laughter – if I had a dollar for every time I’ve laughed or giggled at the thought of my friends’ spectrum of reactions to my vacation destination this week, I’d almost have enough money to buy my RV….which would look perfect under one of these incredibly beautiful palm trees…😎☀️🌴

the woodstock effect.

Thank you, Max Yasgur.

Almost there.

Even though your farm was about 90 minutes from the town of which the rock festival was named, it created an event that is still revered and cherished almost 52 years later.

The Village Green,
in the heart of Woodstock, New York.

I’m writing this post from my brother’s house in Woodstock, where my niece Claire graciously let me have her room as my guest room for the past two nights. In some ways, this feels very “full circle”, as I remember thinking about many memories of hanging out in Woodstock the same way I did as a teenager 35 years ago.

The Woodstock Playhouse theatre

Because of a couple of floating holidays I needed to use at work, I decided to drive up to Woodstock on Thursday. As I had not been here since 2018, I knew I’d get the chance to catch up with my family and a lot of great friends, but I knew I’d get to do something very near and dear to me….I got to hang out on the Woodstock Village Green, and listen to Todd Rundgren’s “Something/Anything?” album….this was a ritual I started back in 1991, after I’d graduated and moved back home from Ithaca, but was struggling to find a job (thank you, recession) and face the world as an adult. I could come here, put on my Walkman, and enjoy a few moments of inner peace. And when I was going through my separation and divorce 11 years ago, this was somewhere I felt I could come to put on my headphones and gather my thoughts.

With Lee, my older brother

Yesterday was a perfect afternoon to sit there and enjoy the sunshine (in the afternoon) and feel very thankful for the love I felt these last two days. I’ve spent quality time with my brother Lee, my sister-in-law Margaret and my nieces Rose and Claire, and I got to see very close friends like Sean Tarleton, Paul Rakov, Bobby Weiss and Maureen Swingle. I’ve reconnected with former work colleagues, and I even did my part to support the local clothing stores, trust me!

Doing my part to support local-owned business.

The original Woodstock was about love, peace and music. After the incredible turbulence of the year 2020, it’s nice to not only see these three things starting to reappear in our society, but I got to come up here to see and feel them in the place where I grew up. Listening to Todd Rundgren’s “Hello, It’s Me”, my favorite lyric in the song is “It’s important to me that you know you are free. ‘Cause I never want to make you change for me.” I’ve spent many years meditating on those words, and yesterday this brought me a tremendous feeling of peace, as I know have have the love of my family and friends.

The beautiful Catskill Mountains.

This is what I call “The Woodstock Effect.” And it’s pretty groovy, man. ☮️💟🎶

knowing your value.

35 years….a lot of lessons learned. (Picture on right copyrighted by Michael G. Stewart, Photographer.)

There’s a big difference between the person on the left and the person on the right in the picture above….and it’s not just the hair.

The picture on the left is me in 1986. Insecure, unhappy, not knowing I was suffering from depression, and suppressing a traumatic experience that I didn’t realize was already consuming me. Behind a layer of arrogance and anger was a person who felt he was not good enough at anything – music, school or friendships.

I was living in other people’s shadows, both dead and alive….my father, my brother and Allen Roosa, a music student in my high school who died tragically in 1979 during his senior year. He then was considered the “gold standard” of all music students in our school district going forward, as a music award was created in his honor.

There are days when I can’t believe I didn’t truly try to take my own life during these years. I remember the night of my graduation in 1987 as the time I came closest to doing it. As I spent my last year of high school at a junior college, I had no desire to go to my high school graduation to feel judged one more time. As my peer received the Roosa award along with a slew of other awards I was given the equivalent of a “seventh place trophy” award that night, I would rather have not gotten any fucking awards that night, and that was a moment that pushed me over the edge, as my dad made me go to graduation because of how it would make him look if I didn’t. I heard one classmate crack a joke at my expense as awards were being presented. I felt no self-worth, and felt beyond numb. I just wanted to walk out, get in my car, drive to the Rhinecliff Bridge and just be DONE.

Instead, I just went to the movies by myself, where I felt I could just “vanish”. After years of being picked on and being looked at as not good enough, self-value was not part of my vocabulary. I now post this senior picture for fun – part of that was to create a new narrative for that picture compared to the negative one that had been in my head for years.

I’m thankful for my years of therapy, and I’m not the least bit ashamed or embarrassed to say that I suffer from depression, that I’m on medication for it, and that some days there are triggers that still can bring me down. After years of making mistakes and finally facing my demons, I’ve learned (I’m still learning) the importance of self-worth. Although I appreciate compliments about my musical ability, I still hear the voices of my critics (my dad, my high school chorus teacher) who loved to bring up my “deficiencies”. I don’t play piano – I’ve always felt like I’m not a good musician because of this, as this has been thrown in my face more times than I care to remember. (It’s also the reason why I now have no desire to learn).

Doing the photo shoots with Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet was a lot of fun….I look at the picture on the right very differently than the one on the left, because the picture on the right represents a lot of hard work. That smile comes after a lot of years of darkness. At 51, I finally feel the confidence that I wish I had when I was younger. I’ve still had people try to knock me down – from my ex-wife to Miss Vitriolic 2019, who took every possible shot that she could – where I would have felt like a failure about what was said, I know know I can consider the source with those types of comments…and besides, why give that much power to a self-righteous douchebag, or an incredibly racist asshole? (Or a “Karen”, as the kids say these days.)

These pictures represent two very different people, even though they are one in the same. I’m glad I’m still here for the journey, and I can look back at my life with a lot less shame and guilt. Although there are still days where the struggle is real, I just try to be as positive as I can be each and every day.

There’s a lot of value in that.