Dedicated to our mother, Barbara Barntsen. Because of you, we truly know that "Health is our greatest wealth.”
In 2007 we faced a devastating crisis that changed our lives forever. Our mother experienced a severe manic episode and was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and Schizophrenia.
Our mother is an incredibly loving person who had a passion for helping others. She worked for nearly a decade in childcare and cared for the kids as if they were her own. She was always looking for solutions to everyone’s problems, especially in the areas of health and nutrition. This is why, even at a moment of personal despair and hopelessness, we had a compelling sense that we needed to help other people. In essence, the emotional loss of our mother inspired us to carry on her legacy of helping people get healthy, we just weren’t sure who we wanted to help or how to make it happen.
The next 7 years
We suffered alongside with our Mother, through seven years of ongoing crises that included hospitalizations, arrests and homelessness. These experiences were frightening and traumatic. Her mental illness created a complex matrix of problems. Everyone was involved: police, neighbors, nurses, strangers, priests, extended family and friends. Many situations threatened death or incarceration for our mother. We had to put many other facets of our lives on hold to deal with what was happening. We sacrificed our professional careers, our relationships, and exhausted ourselves physically, financially, spiritually and emotionally.
Navigating the Crises
Crisis after crisis, we began to experience the holes in the public health system and the deficit in resources for people with poor mental health and their families. However, when we did encounter the few programs available, we found that the people there were overworked, underappreciated, and often experienced compassion fatigue (something all too familiar to us.) We became frighteningly pessimistic about our mother’s recovery and indifferent to the life or death crises she encountered during her battle with poor mental health. Without key organizations such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Buckelew, we couldn’t have navigated through these crises as they gave us the necessary support and mental health education we so desperately needed.
As years went on, we continued to face the challenge of helping our mother get stable. We realized this was not a sprint but a marathon, and decided to focus more on taking care of ourselves with different forms of therapy, exercise, social gatherings, and enjoying live music amidst the chaos. It was these forms of self-care, along with setting boundaries that allowed us to get our lives back on track.
In January of 2014, we decided it was time to take action to support the health of our entire community and Live Music Lantern was born. We chose to support educators and social service providers because they were there to guide us throughout our childhood and in later life crises with our Mother. Because live music is the greatest source of inspiration and healing for us, we are dedicated to sharing it. We wish to “shine a light” on the wonderful teachers and social service providers in our community by providing them with the means for self care through live music.
Co-written by Kaya Barntsen/Co-Founder
Live Music Lantern