Last night Vince and I attended a private party to honor my friend Ray Berglund on his 81st birthday. I met Ray and his exquisite wife Phyllis last summer at a pivotal time in my life.
I was sitting outside Starbucks writing the musical story of my life, knowing that I needed emotional and spiritual support in order to make my dream of performing Noelle Remembers for a full, live and engaged audience a reality. Vince and I had been in quite a cocoon socially, and did not have many friends.
But in walked Ray and Phyllis to Starbucks, and our spirits instantly connected.
I was drawn to this man (who I thought was in his 60s, but later found out was about to turn 80!!) who exuded joy, strength, love, and confidence. He laughed constantly, had incredible experience with famous musicians, and I knew immediately that God had provided the support I needed. We sat outside Starbucks as I told them my dream of sharing my story with a live audience. I wept right there with my new friends, as they poured out their unconditional and full support for whatever I needed to make this dream come true.
LIFE really does provide whatever we need when we are following our destiny with passion. Ray and Phyllis were instrumental in making that day a huge success at the Red Frog Coffee Shop last August. There were 33 attentive, engaged, fully supportive people who sat outside and listened to my musical story. Ray and Phyllis were my angels that day, and in the days that followed.
My friendship with Ray has grown into a partnership in music. He gave me his first book of poetry, and I was instantly inspired to set 2 of the songs to music, which I did for his 80th birthday last year. There is something about his words that deeply resonates with me, and the music just flows effortlessly. I sit down at the piano with one of his poems, and I don’t even have to think — it’s like it was already a song, and I can just let it flow through me. So this year, when I read his 2nd book of poetry, which is even more stunning than the first, I was inspired to write 4 more songs.
Check out Ray’s latest book of poetry on Amazon for only $4.49!! Footprints On The Sands Of Time
In his poetry, you get a glimpse into the story behind this now joyful, exuberant, strong man who exudes God’s love. As it is with most of us, it took a lot of pain and struggle to get Ray to where he is today, and his journey has been a struggle greater than most.
He was born in the middle of the Great Depression in extreme poverty, and was forced to work in the farm fields of Wisconsin starting at the tender age of 6; however, the harshness of his circumstances could not keep his courageous, dreaming heart from rising above. After serving his country in the Navy-Air Force, he hitchhiked his way to California, settling where his soul felt at home, among the stars in Malibu. He journeyed into a life where he eventually built a highly successful construction company in California and became great friends with radiant people such as Olivia Newton-John.
Last night at dinner I was telling Ray about some of my struggles with doubting myself in music, and he revealed to me that when he was in elementary school he wrote a story he was very proud of, and when he showed it to his teacher in great anticipation, she said it was
And it was decades before he wrote anything again.
How glad I am that Ray overcame that lie from his teacher, and has poured out his beautiful soul into these colorful, emotional poems. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be so inspired today with my music. It’s because of his poems and our friendship that I know I can do anything I want to do with my music. He has given me confidence. He’s taught me to believe in myself just by the way he looks at me. When he looks at me, I can see the real Noelle in his eyes. This is the circle of life and love, when we overcome adversity and follow our personal legends.
So today, I leave you with one of the songs I shared with Ray last night. It’s called Birthday Of A Saint, and my favorite line is
“The universe is a better place because you live”.
The world truly is a better place because of you, Ray. You are my angel and a true Saint, sent from God to lift me up and give me the support and friendship I need, right when I need it most. I love you!