NAKED THOUGHTS: The Story Behind The New Song “RELEASE”

The Story Behind The New Song RELEASE

By Kara Johnstad

When I was little, I used to love to try to get a deck of cards to turn into a big card house. How high could we build, before it all crashed apart? And 20 years later, my family met on a late summer evening to play a new game called DJENGA and we loved watching the tower grow and grow and try to keep it all in balance. At some point it fell, and yet by then the excitement was so high in the room, that we screamed with delight, and doubled over in laughter and said more, more, more!
We are told to build towers and build careers. Build networks and create families. Ever expanding, ever growing. Always more to add on to the list of accomplishments, and when we are feeling a bit sad and tired, from all the building, we are told to put one foot in front of the other and persevere.
I personally, in these moments of exhaustion, would hear the echoes of broadway musicals coming in, “gray skies are going to cheer up, put on a happy face,” Julie Andrews would chime in and add her two cents worth, “when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad… I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”
I soaked up those songs and always put my chin up high and whistled a happy tune and knew that the show must go on. And so it did. And every time there was a problem it was solved, and every time there was a collapse it was quickly rebuilt and smiles appeared. THE SURVIVORS.
The stories of the prairies and how we conquered the west. Yes, I was deeply conditioned to think positive and never complain. Hard working midwestern gal, and in my mind, I thought I was a mini-hero. Identified with work and sure that if you dotted your i’s and ate your peas, were always kind and said yes, please, nothing could ever hit you that could not be solved.
What I didn’t realise is, that although things were moving quickly on the surface and I was building and building and trying to keep all the ships a sailing and all the balls up in the air, I had forgotten the rule about the card house. They can come tumbling down. I was so programmed to think positive and be strong, that I was not aware of how far out on the limb I had climbed.
And that truth be, no matter how strong and smart you are,
life is simply fragile. Death comes, illness comes, work comes and goes.
Life does leave its marks.
Something is gained and something is lost,
each and every day.
We need time to assimilate.
Your family, your work, your passions do matter and when the going gets rough you are allowed to say, no the tough do not get going. They stop. They take a moment to breathe. They let-go. They sit down and go quiet on the world. When the going gets rough, it is ok to say, “I do not know what to do and I am scared.” It is ok to weep. But do we? Do we allow ourselves the freedom to explore deconstructing and falling apart, as much as we invest in building? Not often.
And because we have so little experience with vulnerability, and more experience with window dressing, when hard times come it is not always easy to “let – go” to release. Not easy to change course, when we thought we were so clear as to what we were building and why. We have forgotten that perhaps life itself is the creator, and we are simply the sea.
Loving you was easy.
Letting you go is another thing.
Eve Rosenthal
So to come back to the story, behind this new single. As a matter of fact, this song arrived out of nowhere. It appeared suddenly, reaching out for somebody. I was receiving it, I had no choice, so I wrote it down. And in that moment I heard one word. “RELEASE!”

And everything I had been holding so heroically together, everything I had balanced so beautifully, all the towers that were reaching to the sky, started to collapse. RELEASE! My throat closed, my heart contracted, and the first tear fell, it was DJENGA time. RELEASE! Everything toppled. RELEASE! Time to “unbuild.” RELEASE! Just let it go. RELEASE! There’s a time for love to flow, a time to cleanse and heal, to trust in what is real. RELEASE! And the first salty tear made way its way down my cheek. Moved me through the troubled waters. Only this time, after I got up from the piano, I was on another shore. I never went back to the odd place I had been standing on. I was no more the one I knew. I was once again swimming free.

Looking back, I like to call it my boat song.
The one that got me back out onto the open seas.
If you do not take the time to deal with the full array of powerful emotions when they appear, you might find yourself in utter surprise when the tip of the iceberg, that you thought was so solid and strong, starts to melt. Everyone around you looks up in surprise, because you were the one they always turned to, the one out front, the head of the company, the mother of the family, the one who always had that solution. And suddenly you unravel at the seams, and have to admit that you have run out of answers. Your heart is heavy and the walls seem to cave in as you look for an exit. There has got to be an intelligent way out of this muck. But,
The only way out, is in.
And just like the clay pot has to go through the fires to be usable, just like the lotus grows in the mud, so you, too, are being asked by life to transform. But how?
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Kahlil Gibran
You are a dark, deep and salty sea,
and the tears start to appear out of nowhere.
They had been there all along, hiding. Slumbered. Waiting for you to put your tap shoes away and come to grips with the hard truth. There is a darkness we can not run from, and until we can make friends with it, we are not free. There is a deep melancholy which is also. yes, also a natural part of life. And there is emptiness and nothingness. In learning to unbuild and empty, we learn to open to bigger possibilities. Reach new horizons.
The trees know it, how they must bare themselves in order to arrive at spring. The eagles know it, how they must lose all their feathers and break off their beak, stand naked to the wind in order to evolve. And so too, must we, at some point in our lives, have the courage to lay it all down and release. If not, life will usually do it for us. Until we have learned that each day we die a little death. Learned that through trusting in this deep let-go, we become more alive. Learned that the thrill in playing with the card houses, is the building and the moment it collapses and we rebuild.
The brook that flows over stones makes the sweetest music.
If you remove the rocks, the brook will lose its song.

Life gives us many challenges to go through.

Yes, we may be asked to accompany someone through an illness which is incurable, we may be confronted with the loss of a beloved, or the painful betrayal of a close friend, or we may be facing problems we have no solutions for and are trying to simply continue to breathe as we buy a bit more time until things can work themselves out, it is not always easy to “let-go.” We are afraid we might just fall apart and not be able to get the pieces back together again.
The beauty is, though try as we might to think “positive” and see only the sunshine and smiles, life wants us life wants us to think “whole”. Life wants us not only to grow higher, but deeper, not only smarter, it wants us a bit wiser. Life wants wholeness. We are truly strong when we can show our fragility. We are truly beautiful, when tears fall. Tears of sadness and tears of joy. The night wrapped in day and the day in night. It is the water that wears down the rock…
My new song RELEASE is single number 8 in this year’s Naked Thoughts Album Series. It is a series where I am allowing myself, as a songwriter, to strip and bare my rough edges like a gorgeous oak in winter. Connecting lost pieces and not worrying about lengths of songs or formats of jazz or pop. Simply letting the song that wanted to enter me and move me to another shore, a boat song, you could say, be just that, a boat for you to honor the moment, by sharing it with the world.

Perhaps RELEASE will teach us all that when sadness or anger or frustration appears, instead of whipping out the quick phrases of “chin-up and onward we must go. To be able to say, come, sit down and share with me. Come, release your worries and pain and let it go so that you are free to welcome in a new day. Allowing ourselves to be all that we are. In all our shades.

In 2012 I am opening my journals to the world. Deep, deep down, we are a dark and salty sea.
May the song find you in the right moment of time, as we continue on the path together.
Stay Gold,
P.S. Share your genius in the comments, and feel free to join the Voice Your Essence™ Tribe and the Daily Sisterhood Tribe over on Facebook  
I’m really excited to hear what you have to say.
Thank you, as always, for tuning in, reading and contributing.
Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it.
Kara Johnstad is a creative visionary, transformational catalyst and a powerful voice in the time and age of transition. She is a singer / songwriter, creator of The Essence Radio Show™, and founder of the Voice Your Essence Program and a regular contributor to The Daily Sisterhood Blog.  If you are ready to take your voice and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription of her weekly eZine, at
Images of Kara by Joerg Grosse-Geldermann
Cover Art for “RELEASE by Linda Gavin
Image: “Rainbow over Fischtalpark” by Kara Johnstad


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About karajohnstad

Kara Johnstad is a creative visionary, transformational catalyst and a powerful voice in the time and age of transition. She is a singer / songwriter, creator of The Essence Radio Show™, and founder of the Voice Your Essence™ Mastery Program. Leading change agents, healers, personal development speakers and others recognize her as being a unique source of powerful truth and wisdom. As a top voice expert she has helped thousands with her "break-through" voice techniques and shares with us the secrets behind this powerful instrument and the role the human voice plays in fine tuning our Mind-Body-Spirit systems. Kara connects each and every week with subscribers from around the world via her Voice Your Essence™ eZine. Enjoy listening to Kara's soulful music as part of your daily ritual of reconnecting to source or jump onto the next level and experience personally the power of your true authentic voice with Kara Johnstad's VoiceYour Essence™ Mastery Program

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