Shine: A Mountain Story

Shine: A Mountain Story

Peaks and Valleys

The first time Brett and I went to Wyoming with my Boston-based band, the Experts, was in August of 2017. It was a bumpy ride for this one. I was unhappy with myself, out-of-shape and heavier than I wanted to be, and feeling insecure about my role in a 9-piece band comprised of Berklee professors, each one an accomplished musician with great talent. I questioned my value as a member of the band. I fretted unreasonably over what to wear at my gigs. For whatever reason or reasons, I was having a dark night of the soul that summer.

Being in Jackson Hole magnified my issues. Our lodging for the week was a posh three-bedroom suite on the 9th floor of the Four Seasons Resort in Teton Village, in one of two condos owned by our friend – remember Jim? My wealthy, confident, energized, entrepreneur, risk taker, guitar player, mountain goat friend? He flew all of us and our spouses out to Jackson and housed us in this incredible residence for 8 days, while the band played a single weekend at the famous Silver Dollar Bar in downtown Jackson. All week long Jim treated us to wonderful dinners, hiking adventures, and introduced us to the colorful local scene.

What an experience we had in this breathtaking location! On the day we checked in, Brett and I gazed in wonder at the fancy wait staff who were catering to residents in the pool area below, the view from our private balcony, while we sipped expensive red wine. It was exciting… and also intimidating. All my issues surfaced like monsters that had been living under my bed.

Life-Changing Discomfort

As I had mentioned in an earlier blog post, the events of that year had a life-changing impact on me. My challenging journey began when I was unable to hike up Cody Peak with Brett and my bandmates on a beautiful sunny day…this for two debilitating reasons: my paralyzing fear of heights and my poor physical condition. In addition, there were also some uncomfortable relationship dramas between me and two of my band mates, which compounded the existing feelings of insecurity. I drowned my sorrows in red wine and cried a lot when no one was looking.

Attempting to hide all this emotional junk was exhausting. It consumed a great deal of my energy. It is particularly hard when you are performing on stage and around other people for days on end. I wore a lot of makeup, hid my hair and face under visor hats, and smiled through most of it. 

Periodically throughout the week, Brett was on the deck working out a piece of music. As the days passed this guitar piece evolved into the song he calls Shine. I don’t really believe he wrote it about me or for me, but the song speaks to me on a very deep level, in particular the middle section, in which he sings about the life-changing experience of reaching a summit.

In November, after a weekend that Brett and I enjoyed in Florida with Jim, I made a game-changing decision. I made a commitment to do what I had believed was impossible, despite all the fear that was limiting my happiness – I wanted to see everything around me on the summit of a great mountain.

A Song Can Inspire Change

The song Shine is simple, both lovely and philosophical, and full of powerful life metaphors that ring true in my heart. Shine is one of the reasons I decided to climb the Grand Teton the following year. I want you to hear this home-studio recording, accompanied by a video that Brett made from clips of our Wyoming trip in 2017.

And yes, in case you are wondering, Brett does refer to that day hike up to Cody Peak in the video – he composed the song shortly afterward! I am certain that hitting the summit of Cody Peak inspired him to do so. I didn’t get to truly experience what he was singing about until I took the chance to climb that most daunting mountain of mine. It was worth breaking through my dark night of the soul, to feel that experience in my bones for the first time, standing 13,777 feet above sea level, on top of the Grand, looking over the mountain tops of Wyoming and Idaho. It was truly a ‘peak’ experience!

Perhaps Shine will inspire you to climb YOUR OWN mountain…

Speaking of mountains, we still have room in our Climb YOUR Mountain program, which starts this Monday, on March 16. We are SO excited! Check it out here!


Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”



Where does Brumbylon Music Come From?

This week’s feature: Waiting


“Pieces of a puzzle lay all over the floor, you used to know but you don’t know anymore”


There is a voice inside my head, it’s smarter than me. It tells me things, it writes my best songs. It asks me the best questions and gives me the best answers.

Sometimes….. I listen. 

I’ve come to realize over the years that it has always been there for me, quietly nudging me in a certain direction or pointing out subtle synchronicities. It has never been aggressive but more suggestive. It is the most patient voice I’ve ever encountered. It tells me that if I would just listen more closely, let it guide me more fully that I would be the best version of me that I could ever imagine. Although I believe this to be true, all too often, I don’t believe I’m capable.

Why is that? I have evidence that it knows me and what would be best for me. It writes songs that answer my questions or sets the bar for where I need to be to grow into that best version of me. So yeah, that voice is all about me. It is me, me without all of the filters and protective devices I’ve constructed over the years to survive in this crazy world.

I’m like a puzzle put together with pieces of love and fear, success and failure, shoulds and shouldn’ts, do’s and dont’s. Every once in a while, I fall apart. I loose “myself” and then I have to rebuild. It’s not pleasant, for me and those around me but it does allow me the opportunity to build a better version, each time getting closer the the best version. Each time allowing me to bring a little more light to my world.

What is your relationship with your higher self? How do you expereince that. What does it take to be your best?



Enjoy our little gift to you from Brumbylon – we hope it finds you well and feeds your soul. Stay tuned for next week’s feature when we invite you back INTO THE CAVE!

Such a Long Way

Such a Long Way

Where does Brumbylon Music Come From?

This week’s feature: Such a Long Way


As a young boy in a new country with a new dad and a past I didn’t want to remember, I did my best to fit in. I worked hard at losing my Kiwi accent because I didn’t want to be different. Different did not feel safe.

In my teen years I became a bit rebellious (I know, how unusual). I got into a lot of trouble and became a ward of the court for a couple of years. It was during this period of time that I became aware that I had some issues. As it turns out, I was angry at my mother (have at it, Freud).

It was not easy to live with such deep anger AND love for my mother. It was very confusing. I even harbored some hurtful, retaliation-type thoughts toward her that would haunt me for years. Fortunately for both of us, I never followed through on any of those.

It wasn’t until 2013, during the time leading up to my first trip back to New Zealand since childhood, that I looked for a way to reframe my story and try to understand mum’s choices. I had a lot of questions. Why did she abandon us? Did she even really abandon us? Why did she separate us from our siblings and extended family and bring us halfway around the world so SHE could start over? In short, my thought loop went something like this: I was a victim. My mother hurt me. My mother abandoned me. That was my story – a painful, disempowering one – and at some point I realized that I wanted to change it.

Such a Long Way is the new narrative, one of understanding. I tried to put myself in mum’s place, to see the events of those early years from her perspective. I started piecing together the accounts of family members with whom I had been reconnecting, and seeing where they were compatible with mum’s testimonies. The song is a new story, and possibly more true to my mother’s life than the victim stories I had woven in my head as a boy.

Here are the facts as I recall them:

Mum went away for a long time.

She and my father had divorced.

She fell in love with an American sailor.

She felt it was her best option at a better life.

She sent for the 2 younger of her 4 children to live with her in the States.

She created a stable home life for my brother and I.

I’m ok.

I am still learning about our life and family in New Zealand. There are conversations I wish I could have with my mother now, but things have changed. Almost 4 years ago, mum fell down a flight of stairs and took a severe blow to her head. She survived the event, but not entirely as the woman she used to be. I sense that she is unaware of the damage to her cognition, and I am glad for that. She turns 89 in March and seems happy with the life she has, as limited as it is. My dad, Julian Brumby, is the best caregiver anyone could ever want and is 100% dedicated to mum and her comfort.

I also feel fortunate that I arrived at my new understanding before her injury because she got to hear the song.

My mother was not perfect. She was, and I believe still is, a courageous woman.

For you, Margaret Agnes Wadsworth Grennell Brumby, with love, your grateful son.

Enjoy our little gift to you from Brumbylon – we hope it finds you well and feeds your soul. Stay tuned for next week’s feature when we invite you back INTO THE CAVE!

Got To Get To You

Got To Get To You

Where does Brumbylon Music Come From?

This week’s feature: Got to Get to You


“Maybe a better way over, would be to find a way around”

Take 1


Some song meanings are very clear from the git-go, and some not so much. For me this would be the latter. This song feels considerably light under the dire circumstances presented: “I fell off the side of a mountain. There wasn’t much I could do”. Well, if one is actually falling, there is little that can be done, except maybe think about how you got there, and what you could or would do differently, if you happen to land safely. Or maybe just scream a lot.


The song was written in 2014 for reasons I’ll explain another time (relating to my New Zealand history). The video was made in 2018 because…well, mountain.


Lisa and I climbed the Grand Teton, the highest peak in the Teton Range of Wyoming, in August of 2018. I actually had a lingering thought in the back of my mind before climbing …could the song be a prophecy? Nahhh, couldn’t be. Let’s climb! I’ll just keep that little piece of superstition to myself.


In the song, Got to Get to You, the “You” is represented by Lisa, my awesome wife and partner of 21 years and counting! While creating the video for the song, my thinking of “get to you” was to reach a deeper connection with Lisa. Creating the video with that in mind, and writing this blog today, brings me to the following understanding:


I had always been very protective of my heart, and was reluctant at best to let someone all the way in (even married, which is particularly strange). Partly this was from fear of being hurt, but more likely fear of being seen. I mean really, how could anyone love the unlovable (me)? That may sound a bit extreme perhaps, but I had proof! You know, the longer you are with someone the harder it becomes to maintain a detour around the heart. People leak, things become visible, cracks show.


Still, in the song I consider there may be ‘another way around’ so I wouldn’t have to expose myself and risk rejection or abandonment – issues that have been paramount in my life, and hence the need for protection. It seemed “the mountain” was actually one of my own creation, and maybe falling off was the best thing I could do – maybe that’s why I seem so happy about it.


The song also talks about my propensity for distraction, consequently missing or choosing not to see something that could save me pain or frustration down the road… Right, everything’s fine, its all good…hey, look over here at the beautiful mountains.


In reality, the pain and frustration still came, as did the clarity of needing to get rid of some old beliefs, open my eyes and heart, and communicate. Its an ongoing process. Avoidance is only a delay tactic, often with compounded complications!


I guess I’ve always known that there is a way of being me that is more powerful, beautiful and authentic than I currently accept that I am capable of, or perhaps even worth. That is what I’ve got to get to. As in a lot of my songs, the conversation that I’m having is with that higher Self. My “you” is actually a better me! 


Take 2


This is my second (6th, actually, but who’s counting) take on the meaning/history of this song. As some of you know from my previous writings, I was born in New Zealand. I left when I was 7 and did not return again til 2014. That gave me 45 years to acclimate to living in the U.S. Overall I think I’ve done pretty well.


After much trial and error creating my first intended post about this song, I sent it off to Lisa to edit, as is our custom with these blogs. She inserted a statement that made me realize the actual inspiration for the song,  and it’s quite simple…New Zealand! 


The moment I read her addition (…relating to my New Zealand history), I remembered the thought I had about the first line in the song when I first wrote it. New Zealand was my mountainous home, and at seven years old all I could really do was go with the flow. My mother was relocating me and my brother to the states to be with her and our new dad. “I fell off the side of a mountain. There wasn’t much I could do.” I don’t recall being afraid or nervous, but it was a big move for a little boy, I think my passport photo is a little telling. 


I wrote the song, Got to Get to You, after returning from New Zealand. It seems that my visit stirred things up in me quite a bit, and left me with a strong desire to go back – not so much to live there again, but to spend time reconnecting with my family, my ancestral heritage, and my country of origin.

The second take on this song does not invalidate my first post. I think what confused me about it was adding the video, which carried a different meaning (as noted in my original post below). Welcome to my mind!



Enjoy our little gift to you from Brumbylon – we hope it finds you well and feeds your soul. Stay tuned for next week’s feature when we invite you back INTO THE CAVE!

This Old Guitar

This Old Guitar

Where does Brumbylon Music Come From?

This week’s feature: This Old Guitar


Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember! My parents played all over the South Island of New Zealand. My siblings all played and or sang at one time or another. My oldest brother Phillip will still pick up a guitar every once in awhile, just to accompany his beautiful voice, a voice that now reminds me of my father’s.


Then there’s my cousin, John Grenell. John had a very successful music career in New Zealand as well as some success in the states. I had the chance to meet him on my visit to New Zealand in January of 2014. He was recovering from some health issues at the time, but he was warm, engaging, funny, personable and always ready to play and sing. This Old guitar was inspired by my time with him.


John was as authentic a person as I’d ever met. John Grenell is his music, and more. He helped me realize how much a part of one’s life an instument can be, and how we can become so attached to a particular object that it becomes a part of who we are. It was a story that John told about ‘this old guitar’ (pictured below) that moved me to consider what his guitar meant to him, and what mine means to me.



Click here to hear John Grenell singing “Deep Water”


 I started playing guitar as a teen because I thought it would be a good way to get people to start a conversation with me. I was shy and lacked the confidence to initiate engagement with others (girls). So I learned some chords and started to play and write songs. Country music has never really been my genre,  but this is how it came out in honor of John. A lot has changed since then, but one thing remains the same – my relationship with my guitar has helped me express myself, and it has helped me understand myself better. Its where I work out my stuff, share my heart and mind. Its what connects me to my world. Here is the refrain from the song I wrote for John Grenell:

In this old guitar where I carry my soul

and all the memories that need a place to go

you will find me there even when I’m dead and gone.

Enjoy our little gift to you from Brumbylon – we hope it finds you well and feeds your soul. Stay tuned for next week’s feature when we invite you back INTO THE CAVE!

Your Voice

Your Voice

Where does Brumbylon Music Come From?

This week’s feature: Your Voice

Friday, July 18, 1969. My brother was 8, I was 7. My aunt, uncle, nana and granddad took us to the airport. Nana’s diary stated simply that “Kevin [our father] came in a rental”. It would be the last time we ever saw him.

My relatives put us on a plane bound for the west coast of the United States. We flew alone, tended by the airline staff who were in charge of us during our long flight. We left behind our father, a brother and sister, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and all manner of family in New Zealand to start a new life in America with my mum and her new husband, Jim, (Julian). The man I call my dad.


I had my issues throughout the teen years, and did not think much at all about my Kiwi childhood. Then, in Nov of 1981, my dad (Jim) gave me the news that Kevin Grennell, my natural father, had died in a construction accident. I pondered that for awhile. How did I feel? What did I feel?  I had a sense of what someone was supposed to feel when their father died, but the truth was I didn’t know him. I felt guilty for not feeling anything.


For most of my life I held the belief that Kevin Grennell was not a good man, or at least not a good father or husband. I softened on that story in my later years after talking with family members who had loved him. I met his younger brother, my uncle Maui, in 2005 during a work visit he had made to the U.S. We got to spend a couple of days together, which was pretty powerful for both of us. Maui remembered me as a boy, and told me many stories about Kevin. For me, it was the closest I would ever get to talking with my father. 


I also began to reconnect with my oldest brother and sister around that time. Conversations about Kevin with them, and later with other family members, helped paint a clearer picture of the man. My early judgment was based on a lack of information. It still is, but I can now see Kevin Grennell as a man who was doing the best he could at the time. I don’t believe he was a bad man, I don’t think he wanted to cause anyone pain. He, like many of us, had some issues.




Click on the picture above to hear an old recording of Kevin singing and playing. A gift he passed on to me.

I would like to have known the man who was dad to my two oldest siblings, the one whose genes cohabit in my physiology with my mother’s. It won’t happen. I am grateful for the life I have now. Everything up to this point has brought me here, to this song, to this post. Yet still, Kevin Grennell,

I wish I could recall something you said (to me).

Enjoy our little gift to you from Brumbylon – we hope it finds you well and feeds your soul. Stay tuned for next week’s feature when we invite you back INTO THE CAVE!