Getting Going

Steve Madewell

I have a few minutes to enjoy the perfect temperature and the wisteria on my porch before the sun crests the tree line. I try to close all the windows in the house before the day begins to heat up. I open them in the evening and close them at about 8:30 in the morning. It is the summer routine and it helps keep the house from getting too hot. 

Routines can be pretty important.

Some days I jump out of bed with an attitude to attack the day ahead, other times I just don't feel like getting up. It is the little routine things that pull me to my feet, like closing the windows. Things that are mundane but are somehow important enough to warrant my attention and manifest my intention. They often have a simple reward or maybe just prevent complications. 

I don’t have a dog. If I did, I know it would help me start my day. Dogs need to go out, they need to be fed, and a dog needs to be reassured that you love them and that you are ok. I have had the privilege to have shared time with several great ones and I am not sure I will ever have another. So, it’s up to me to get going. 

Ultimately isn’t this what we are all challenged with, finding our motivation?

There are lots to do, both around the house and yard, tending the bees, and cleaning up the barn, and I have a few other obligations that I have taken on that need work too. All of my projects are in various states of completion. This just seems to be the way I work. These things hang in my mind like a collection of wind chimes gently tinkling in the breeze, always present but demanding no action until I see something beginning to break or fail or see a situation that motivates me to respond.  

The work of creating, the routine of performing, the business of music, and the process of simply maintaining sometimes feel to be an overwhelming universe of chaos, but yet in that universe lies the mystery of order. And we are all intrigued by a good mystery! We are challenged to find our path through this process we call life. 

The road to discovery starts with getting going, taking the motivation for that first step.

Competition is a big motivator for many people. Wealth and material acquisition are widely accepted measures of success and being successful is a tremendous motivation for most folks. However, I understand that even success can get old. While talking with a friend recently, he told me he had gotten tired of “winning”. I couldn’t help but think that it was time for him to change his definition of success and begin looking for new motivators and challenges.

There is a fair amount of research that indicates in addition to competition and self acquisition, humans are motivated by and receive a great sense of reward from engaging in caring and nurturing actions. Of course of if it was that simple, caregivers would consistently be the happiest, most fulfilled people on the planet! But I have many friends in the business of healthcare who suffer from burnout and empathy fatigue. 

I suppose without moderation anything can become overwhelming. Perhaps it is a balanced equation of giving and taking: The process of giving, as opposed to being taken from, the ability to give freely, and the process of sharing. 

It is easy to forget the notion of sharing as a primary motivation for writing and performing songs. Capturing an observation or feeling, reflecting that feeling in words, finding an evocative melody that creates a mood or mindset means so much more to the creator or performer when that presentation is shared. And the reward of sharing can be greatly enhanced by the response of an audience. 

And so goes a reciprocating relationship that is as old as humanity. The reward of giving as opposed to taking, sharing as opposed to acquiring, appreciating as opposed to expecting. 

So after I stop writing, what will today bring? I will make some breakfast and maybe work on some tunes. I have several in the works that need to be finished inorder for me to share them with folks who seem to like my songs. Maybe their response will motivate me to continue to strive to create new ones.

Time to get going and shut the windows.

Growing Up 

Pedestrian Ramblings 4/4 
Growing Up 
The collective “we” tend to start asking youngsters at a very early age “What do you want to be when you grow up“? As innocent as that question is there is an implication that we need to aspire to become someone beyond where we are or do something of consequence and lasting value. 

I suppose this question continues to haunt some free-spirited folks throughout their life. 

My friend Mark Freeman and I have taken a few walks and talks around Chapin Forest recently and I…

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Pop A Relative Perspective 

The late fall and winter months have always been a very reflective period for me, and 2020 has provided a great deal to reflect on! A global pandemic, a record turn-out for a very contentious presidential election and the ongoing shifts and changes of life, and of course, the changing world around us.  
Such is the transient nature of things.  

It’s been nearly a year since my father passed on. He had just turned 95 and by all accounts, lived a remarkable life.  
Thinking about him and the issues his…

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Finding Motivation In The Time Of Covid  

Interesting Times 

October 25, 2020

We are living in an ancient eastern proverb, “May you live interesting times”. To say these are interesting times is perhaps an optimistic way to summarize the current time here on planet earth.  From nearly any perspective, everything seems chaotic. What are our societal norms? Is there any single unifying cause in our country, or on the planet today? I’m failing to see it if there is. 

One might think that preserving the function of the natural systems essential for…

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My Aim Is True 

My Aim Is True Funny how the recollection of a song can trigger so many memories and emotions!

So for some reason, as I was padding out to the freezer this morning to get some bread, I found myself singing the beautiful Elvis Costello song, “My Aim Is True”. In addition to immersing myself in the lovely melody and the haunting storyline, I began to stroll down a wonderful path of emotional recollection. There are many songs on that album that are simply great and after I exhausted my lyrical recall for…

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The Art of Nature 

In 1976 I had a summer job at Brukner Nature Center outside of Troy, Ohio. I was hired to supervise, babysit if you will, the children of Hispanic migrant workers. The nature center had received a grant to provide childcare for these kids while their parents picked fruit and vegetables. It was my understanding the existing staff really didn't want to deal with the additional workload and there was a scramble to get someone to specifically deal with these kids. So the nature center asked and received…

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Don't Try and Knock Off A Bank In Coffeyville 

  Coffeyville Community College Humanities Project Fall 2019 During the process of self-evaluation I decided this year I would get involved with more professional music organizations, so this spring I joined Folk Alliance. This is an international organization and I attended one of their conferences several years ago. It was held in Cleveland and was a great experience and this seemed like a good organization to plug into. The Midwest region of the Folk Alliance is called FARM and they have an annual… Read more

Superior Songs 

Spring 2019

Bowman Island, Lake Superior, Ontario Ca.

Pedestrian Ramblings

Superior Tunes: A return to Nipigon 

It has been three years since I first visited Nipigon, Ontario. My friend Jerry Darkes had invited me to accompany him and a group of other anglers for a week of fishing at Gary Langs’ Bowman Island Lodge. He no more than mentioned Nipigon and I told him I was interested in going. This is a fabled place in the world of anglers for it was here that the world record brook…

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Christmas 2018 

Pedestrian Ramblings


December 24, 2018



A Life Time Of Ornaments

I reflect on the past this time of year more so than at New Years. These reflections were enhanced last night as MJ and I were decorating the tree. First, I have to say I bought the most “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” ever.  Tall, spindly, and asymmetrical! It looked good hanging up in the lot, but as soon as I pulled it out of the truck I knew I had a bit of a problem. You see, my contribution to holiday preparations is…

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An On Going Tradition 

Pedestrian Ramblings


November 28, 2018


Deer Camp

An Ongoing Tradition

Sitting at the cabin evening reflecting on years past. My cousin Kieth and I started deer hunting with my pop and my uncle Marvin when we were 12 and 13. That was 50 years ago. 

I always think about the times spent in the field with a myriad of family and friends past on the night before the opening day.  

Good memories.

 Anyone who has been involved with cold weather, outdoor activities is well aware how quickly clothing and…

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The Evolution of a Song 

Pedestrian Ramblings


September 20, 2018



The Evolution of a Song

From an idea, to a song, to a recording


I doubt that many people think about how a song they hear changes from an idea, to a song to a finished recording. There are a remarkable series of steps involved, each with their own contribution to creating the finished product that might be heard on a CD or the radio. Most of my involvement with recording for other folks has been showing up to offer a specific contribution, like singing a…

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