by Barbara McMillen

Sometimes I feel like a baby bird not quite ready to fly, waiting for my food to be delivered by my birdie parents, Walmart. There were exceptions. I went out to pick up groceries twice at Kroger and Sam’s.  This is the way, so many of us have felt lately. Now we are slowly poking our heads out of the nest more and more. Once upon a time, we had no time in our busy world, but now it feels like we are frozen in time.

Power of Reflection

In this time of aloneness, I’ve managed to realize that there is power in reflection.  In grieving the loss of community, we can find the substance of our soul in solitude. Free from the clutter of life, with the physical space empty, it’s time to turn inward for reflection.

I’ve realized that we can view isolation as a treat for ourselves and use the space voided from the clutter of daily life to take stock of what is essential in our lives, be kind to ourselves and pursue our dreams. Our experience of being alone can inspire new ways of living. I found myself having time to explore the following actions.

~ Catch up on lots of sleep and dream

Did you know that dream specialists have devised therapy to change nightmares into positive dreams? Yes, you can turn your dreams. I love to dream, and I’ve had some crazy ideas lately. One night I found myself with the Obamas at Lincoln Center as a prize for having received a songwriting award. Yes, I won the opportunity to go to Lincoln Center with the Obamas. I don’t remember what the program was. I fell asleep during the program and woke up horizontal with my head in the former President’s lap and my feet being rubbed by the former First Lady.

  What a puzzle. What a laugh! We can also go beyond the night into the day and take this time to pursue those waking dreams we’ve had for decades. We also have the chance to change those dreams and make a new plan. There is power in writing down your goal and aspirations. Check out this article on this. In a future article, we can explore creative visualization ss a mental technique that uses the imagination to make your goals and dreams come to life.

The Creative Create

It’s time to be our best creative selves and work on those projects that we’ve been thinking about for years. We can write those songs that have been boiling inside us, just waiting for a chance to be organized into a story. In the plague of 1600, when the theaters closed, Shakespeare penned King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra. Just in the past few weeks, Graham Nash has recorded half an album. Many performers have found a way to perform from balconies, living rooms, and drive-in movies. DSA has found a way to Quran-stream our open mic and showcases from Zoom to Facebook live. We have gotten creative to be creative.  Made lemonade out of lemons. We all can learn something new and apply it to your artistic goals.

Be Patient With Ourselves

To be able to deal with our suffering over the loss of loved ones, we must be patient with ourselves.  We’ve lost friends and family in a blink of an eye and without expectation. Even though we have been unable to gather to morn publicly, we can celebrate the memories we have of our loved one through our online groups. We are left behind while they are strong and free. One day we will join them.

~ Overcome The Fear

Take courage to leave the fear and worrying behind and trust in the almighty. Father Angeles Echeverry, a Benedictine monk, says this about isolation,” You’re not worried about the next thing, because the next thing isn’t happening.” Long term fear becomes anxiety, which turns into stress in the body. It does no good for us to worry. As FDR said during our last big struggle, our nation faced, “ We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It doesn’t hurt for us to plan and ask for His guidance, but we must place our plans in God’s hands.

~ Take Account Of Those We Love

You’ve heard them many times. Every time you board a plane as you are taking off. The stewardess stands in the aisle with an oxygen mask in her hand and repeats the written directions on the card in your seat pocket in front of you.

Those directions say to place your oxygen mask on yourself before doing so for your children. We can take this time to store up our power of self and then turn to give to others. We may feel trapped and cut off, but we are not cut off from our spirit – hope- and ability to encourage others. It’s time to reach out to those we love and help and even go beyond by reaching out to anyone who may need help.

Power of Giving

We are not meant to be alone. There are safety and power in groups, and there are still ways to connect with one another. I’ve found the time to give encouraging words to friends who also now have the time to take my calls because they are home from work. You may have the opportunity to lend a helping hand or a simple acknowledgment of their worthiness. A greeting card, a real paper one through the mail, will be much appreciated. If we have money, it’s a good time to give, but we can also offer our time and talents and be grateful that we have assets to give. The news is full of stories of folks making masks and giving them away. I’ve heard several stories of people printing plastic face gear. There are young people delivering food to those who should not leave home. Restaurants are serving free lunches to nurses and doctors on the front lines. No matter what level, there is a way to give, and the gift of giving brings great joy to those who get as well as those who give.


 Power of Gratitude

Yes, life has changed, and there is so much we miss from the old life, but I am grateful for the technology that we have to be in touch without physically being there so that I can continue to teach my songwriting classes at Collin College. I’m grateful for those at the college who trained the faculty to use Zoom. I’m thankful for my students hanging in with me through the end of the semester. I’m grateful for DSA, it’s directors, it’s members. I’m thankful to our A&R director, Harry Hewlett who embraced the challenge of Quaran-streaming, learned how, taught DSA members how, and continues to offer our events online so we can stay in contact with our community. It’s almost as good as a hug.  A musician needs to play. Songwriters need to write. I’m grateful for Ben Halim, our technology director,  who rescued the malfunctioning DSA website, gave us a new website, a new marketing plan, and this new blog from which our members can express themselves. His encouragement has pulled us, kicking and screaming into the future.

 I’m grateful for Bobby Montgomery for his years of service as VP of Programs, gently moving us forward, tendering our programs, fundraisers, and so many more things for me there’s no room to mention them all.

I’m grateful for DSA Prez Michael Brandenberger, who has steadfastly stood at the helm of DSA for several years and his wife Karol, who has become a good friend.

I’m grateful for Alexis Tapp, who is the best darn lyric judge, and who has many more talents, some you know as a singer and songwriter, and some that you don’t even realize. Did you know she is a visual artist also? I’m grateful for her long time friend. We went to the same high school.

I’m grateful for Jessica Ewy, who takes time out of her busy teaching world to share herself with us as secretary, keeping our minutes. She also served as a vocalist at our Hall of Fame program. She and Alexis supported my efforts to pull off the HOF program a couple of years ago against all the odds as background singers. We had no rehearsal at all.


I’m grateful to Joe and Linda Milton for their friendship, his recording talents, and his gifts as a sponsor for the Dallas Songwriters Song Contest.

I’m grateful to our new director, Don Wall, who brings his talents as a video producer and PR director.

I’m grateful for our treasurer Phil Casteel for helping to keep our finances in order and starting our Rising Star program.

I’m grateful for Jack Allday, Rene Sullivan, Ricky Gene Wright, Ken Duren, James Pappas, and all the rest of the DSA directors past and present who have helped keep the DSA wheels turning with their gifts and talents. I’m grateful for Paul Zander and John Jaggers and all our donors from big to small that keep us going.

I’m grateful to our song contest sponsors Roy Elkins of for almost 20 years of partnership and sponsorship and Casio Privia Keyboards for our grand prize sponsorship, plus all our other current and past sponsors.


I’m grateful for Buck, Roger, Steve, Mark, Ron, Sherrie, Joni, and all the DSA past presidents for their service and friendship over the past years.

It’s an excellent time to make a list of what we have to be grateful for, and I’ve just started my list. I have a lot to be thankful for on a personal level. Besides the apparent list of the people I love, the ones that have kept me from being lonely and my little nugget, Anna Bean. The list is long so that you can leave this part to me. I’ll wrap this up and continue my inventory and give you time to get started on yours. Once you get started, you’ll realize as I did that there are many levels on which to be grateful. I’ve found I am thankful for a backyard that I can share with loved ones now when so many do not have an outdoor space. So while you’re listing, don’t forget the fundamental level. I’ve found I’m grateful most simply for uncontaminated air and the bees in my yard. And so on and so on.


Cape Diem

I was as blindsided by our current situation as we all were. It is the stuff of scary movies – a nightmare that we can not wake up from. Can we ever be sure of what anyone’s future can bring? No, but we make the most of the cards we are dealt and seize this opportunity to decide what really matters, readjust our lives, and lead a life that is fundamentally more nutritious for our spirits and souls.

Our Founder, Barbara McMillen

Founding President Emeritus, Newsletter Editor, Administration & Song Contest Director Barbe founded the DSA in 1987

After running the group for several years as part of the now-defunct Texas Music Association. Currently a working Music Therapist, performer, and Associate Professor of Songwriting and Music Business at Collin College, Barbe is caring for the administrative duties and editing a newsletter for DSA. She is a member of the Producers and Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy. She has produced a number of albums for other artists and her own.

Her songwriting spans the genres of Rock, Pop, R&B to Americana. Her rock musical, Give Me A Break, has been performed in the metroplex and off-Broadway.

Barbara MCMillen

Singer,  Songwriter,  Teacher, and Musician Community Activist.