Singer and songwriter Alex Woodard finds himself at a crossroads in his life. The loss of his beloved Labrador, Kona, as well as confusion about his own personal direction and his unfulfilled career ambitions send him into a prolonged state of introspection. But this is far from a solitary journey. It is a creative and collaborative adventure, shared with friends and strangers, and guided by written letters that serendipitously appear in his life.
The first letter is from Emily, who writes in response to Alex’s request for letters to inspire songs for his upcoming album. She doesn’t want a song, she just wants to thank him for his music, and tell him how it has helped her cope with the death of her great love. Alex decides he does want to write a song for her, and he shares it with other musicians who meet at regular “family dinners” in the neighborhood. Inspired, they begin to help him create and share his gift for Emily.
This is only the beginning. More letters appear, more songs are inspired, and Alex connects with more musicians and songwriters. They help him unravel and express the emotional connections he has with the stories of the letter writers. He notices that their questions, struggles, and revelations parallel his own. In the end there are 12 songs, many new friends, and a calming peace and acceptance for Alex.
My thoughts about For the Sender
I can’t say that I have ever had a reading experience quite like the one I had with For the Sender. This book was a quiet and peaceful read. Its profound philosophies just melted into me, I never had to stop and think hard, or struggle to understand them. Through descriptive prose, honestly expressed emotions, and poetic lyrics it felt more like the book was being sung to me, like a gentle lullaby.
There are so many spiritual books about self-discovery that encourage you to focus on yourself first and foremost, without discussing the importance of reaching out to others. Alex’s truths are revealed through his active connection with the letter writers and his fellow musicians, his willingness to share his talents with them unconditionally, and receive their love and talents in return.
His community supports him, challenges him, and enlightens him in a way he never would have experienced going solo. His writing delicately highlights the magic of these connections – the planets aligning /right place at the right time miracles that never fail to leave me awestruck. As I read about Alex’s chance meeting with Jack Tempchin, writer of the Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and how Jack quickly agreed to collaborate on a song with Alex, I get goosebumps.
We have all had the thrill of experiencing the perfect-ness of a creative collaboration at least once in our lives. But I have rarely seen it written about the way that Alex Woodard presents it in For the Sender. He takes us step by step through the practical motions of each song project, while sharing the deep life lessons revealed in the process. After sharing this journey with him, we are able to listen to several of the final song recordings on a CD that accompanies the book, and feel the same sense of joy and completeness that the music brought to others.
For the Sender is a book about the amazing healing and transformational power of togetherness. It gifts us with deep lessons about our natural state of being – we are always at our best when connected with others. In its beauty and simplicity, it presents a path for growth and understanding that is familiar and intuitive – something we once knew, but somehow forgot.
My favorite quotes from For the Sender
“Under my breath I tell myself to stay out of the way, to trust the process. Lately I’m finding that sometimes what I want isn’t really what I need and the right things seem to happen if I’m patient.”
“All these songs I’ve had a hand in, about someone else’s story and rarely sung in my voice, and I’m happier than ever. It’s my same dream of making a moment in someone’s life better with a song, but it looks different now. I laugh as I realize I call myself a songwriter, but I haven’t written a song about myself in months.”
How to get the book
For the Sender will be released on September 18, 2012. It is published by Hay House and can be purchased on their website at www.hayhouse.com. It will also be available online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo.
I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.