In the woods; then and now.

I am five. I am in the woods in front of my house on the south side of Grand Island, NY. It’s winter and the forest is hushed with a muffle of snow. The trees are black and bare, like spiders against the pewter sky.

I am captivated by the silence and intimacy. It’s like a church, but spooky. I am intoxicated with freedom and independence. This is what is good about a large family. I can sometimes get lost.

Crunch, crunch, go the sticks and dried leaves under foot. I hit a smooth hard surface, brush away the snow with my vinyl boot and discover a mirror of ice. Underneath it are rotten leaves and black water, a glass paperweight.

I can skate! I run, and zoom on the smooth surface – my own private ice rink. In the middle of the pond, I hear a cracking and the ice groans and buckles under my feet. I try to run, but the ice traps my feet. The brackish sulphur-smelling water pours into my boots. It is only a foot deep, so I am safe, but shaken.

I slosh out of the pond and go home to stuff newspaper in my boots, fairly sure I will not receive a scolding; the first of many adventures.

I am fifty. I have left the comfort of a good job. The possibilities loom large. The silence of my home office is rarely broken. My time is my own. I am both exhilarated and terrified.

I make phone calls to prospective clients and meet with rejection. Press kits go out unnoticed. Calls to bars and restaurant owners result in tepid recollection.

I trudge on, practicing, creating, calling, writing and planning. I am shaken, but believe I am meant to be here and will find my path.

Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.
– Satchel Paige

This blog post was written by Mari McNeil. Mari spoke at MoMondays on 02/24/2014! Get your advance tickets for the next one here: Buy Tickets

Mari__150px Buffalo vocalist Mari McNeil sings classic jazz songs you love with a clear, lush voice that touches the heart. Mari was a graphic designer and performed as a folk singer before becoming a jazz chanteuse and it’s been a revelation. The great American Songbook is her playground and she sings up-tempo songs and heartbreakers alike with conviction, passion and energy. Mari surrounds herself with Buffalo and Rochester’s best jazz musicians ensuring a dynamic performance for concerts, clubs and special events. Make it memorable. Make it Mari McNeil. For more about Mari, visit

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