62 minutes | Aug 20, 2021

The Music Between Us : Memoir of a Bedside Musician

This week, on The Conscious Consultant Hour, Sam welcomes Musician and Author, Steve Litwer.Steve Litwer was raised by a single, mentally ill mother who suffered with both schizophrenia and bi-polar. The effect of this upbringing was something that thwarted his social interactions and relationships throughout his life. These were often contaminated by a legacy of fear, agitation, confusion, and feelings of inadequacy.As a young man, Steve wanted to be a musician. Largely self-taught on the guitar, he lacked the talent to play professionally, so he chose another career path until he retired, working in TV and radio stations in Kansas City, Memphis and Charlotte.In his retirement, as a volunteer, Steve began playing music for hospice patients. As their bedside musician, his private performances and companionship to those nearing the end of their lives began to unlock long-buried memories of his own past.The result? Surprising lessons and new insights about the events of his life and finding the path to emotional health and forgiveness for himself and his mother.The Music Between Us is a memoir about reckoning with a painful childhood, spiritual awakening, and discovering some of life’s most important lessons in an unexpected way. Incorporating moving and sometimes funny true stories of people in hospice, this book explores the mysterious ways that Steve has come to understand and reclaim his life through the power of music and the unexpected gift of the healing he received from those who cannot heal.Tune in for this enlightening conversation at TalkRadio.nyc or watch the Facebook Livestream by Clicking Here.Segment 1Starting off today’s episode, Sam reads a section from his book Everyday Awakening. In this section, Sam talks about the dance we all learn to do in our lives: the dance between fluidity and integrity. He gives an example that, when you’re doing transformational work with people and there’s some kind of agenda like needing to go to lunch at a certain time, there may be a situation in which someone is having a breakthrough moment and you, as the leader of the group in charge of the agenda, may have to alter it slightly in that moment. Yes, it is important to keep one’s word, however, in certain situations like the one described above, other things take precedence, Sam describes. Before going to break, Sam introduces his guest for the week Steve Litwer. Segment 2After the break, Sam asks what encouraged Steve to volunteer at a hospice as a musician. Steve explains that when he was an advertising executive, he came back from a business trip and his wife informed him a friend’s husband was in hospice following a heart attack. She asked Steve if he could get his acoustic guitar and play for the husband at hospice. He agreed, and he says he never forgot that experience. About ten years later, a couple of years into retirement, he got an email with listings of volunteer opportunities, and one of the opportunities was from a hospital looking for someone to spend time with people in hospice. Thus, he got into playing music in hospice regularly. This prompts Sam to ask, what was it about working at a hospice that drew him rather than repelled him. Steve answers this question by describing how he learned to find a balance between the nonattachment necessary to do his work and also the deep sense of empathy required. Segment 3After the break, Sam asks Steve about how he came up with the title for his memoir The Music Between Us. Launching into an explanation, Steve gives his answer before also delving into the process behind creating this memoir. After this conversation, Sam asks Steve which story from hospice had the most impact on Steve. Steve talks about how he did research before going in to perform music for his clients, purposely picking songs that were from the genre that his clients listened to back when they were in their teens and twenties. For a specific client, based on his research, he played a song by the Everly Brothers. While he played, the client suddenly started shouting “Donny,” as in Donny Everly from the Everly brothers. She explained that the reason she had this reaction was because she used to date Donny. Steve describes that he and the client talked for a while about Donny Everly and his family. After this conversation, he was triggered to remember his own personal experience with his family. Next, Steve gets into a discussion about how music holds memories for us.Segment 4Sam welcomes us back from the break, and Steve answers a question that Sam had for him before the break: did he ever see a therapist. Steve answers that yes, he did, and through therapy he was able to access memories and emotions he had previously blocked out from his childhood. Switching subjects, Sam asks Steve how long he had been doing his current work playing music at hospice. Steve answers that he has been lucky enough to do this for about two years, and that when the pandemic hit and he could no longer go to hospice, he felt like he was going through withdrawal. About two months ago, thanks to the vaccine, he started being asked to go back to hospice. However, because of the recent delta variant of COVID-19, he says, has not been able to go back these past few weeks. Steve then gives advice to those who are doing the same work that he has had the opportunity to do. Closing the show, Steve lets us know where to find him on stevelitwer.com, his personal blog.Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-conscious-consultant-hour8505/donations
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