Christmas With(out)

img_1521This is a Christmas of withs and withouts. I celebrate and mourn all at the same time.

  • It is my first Christmas with new traditions. New traditions borne out of my dad’s death in October. Man, I miss him.
  • It is my first Christmas spent in Hays and without beach walks in Sarasota. It is my first Christmas spent at home with our dog, Oscar.
  • It is my first (and hopefully last) Christmas living with cancer in someone I love.

All of these things are two sides of the same coin. Reasons for happy and sad tears. Reasons for rejoicing and mourning.

It is a season filled with memories. Christmas Eves spent in my childhood home. Steak dinners. Dad leading worship. Mom’s eggnog to close out the night. Christmas stockings with an orange, a peppermint stick, a few nuts and a small gift.

It is memories of my last 20 years as a parent. Celebrating with my husband’s family. Of turkey and dressing. Of wide eyed wonder growing into a beautiful young woman.

It is summed up in this beautiful song by Mark Schultz – “Different Kind of Christmas”.

It is not easy to admit, every Christmas is different. The changes in this year draw pointed lines to the the differences. It isn’t about recreating these memories. It is about embracing the brand new, the different ways I can, I have and I will celebrate.

Christmas is about the love I have to share with those around me and that I have shared with those no longer or not currently here. It is a day to embrace the withs and withouts.


A Gift for You from Sally Hogshead

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This post isn’t about me. It’s about YOU.

Branding expert and leading authority on the science of fascination, Sally Hogshead, has published her new book How the World Sees You on July 1, 2014.

To celebrate the insights gained from a decade of research, she is launching Project Fascination with the goal of showing 100,000 people how their personalities add value. As a part of this project, she’s given me a special code to share with you. The first 100 people who use it to take her Fascination Advantage® Assessment will receive the assessment for free! This has never been done before, and will only last until we reach 50,000 more assessment takers.

The best part is, you will trigger a chain reaction—a pay it forward situation. When you take the assessment using, you will receive 100 assessments to share with your circle for free, too! That’s $3700 of free market research at your fingertips!

So how do you take the assessment? Simple.

1. Like Musical Gems on Facebook.

2. Send me a message requesting the code. You will receive a response with it as soon as I am able to do so.

3. Go to How the World Sees You and use code.

4. Once you’ve taken the assessment, Sally’s team will load 100 assessments into your new account. Rinse and repeat. That’s it.

Now you’re ready to discover how your personality is custom built for certain situations, and which situations you should learn to avoid. And it only takes 5 minutes (you can even do it on your phone!)

28 questions. 5 minutes. A whole new way to communicate your value. Your Fascination Advantage® Report is the first big step towards knowing how your personality can be heard and remembered in an overcrowded market. Sharing the assessment will help others do the same. Find everything you need to put this knowledge into practice with your co-workers, close friends and significant other in Sally’s new book, How the World Sees You.

Remember that your code will expire once we reach 50,000 more assessment takers. Don’t let this $3700 value go to waste! Take the Assessment today and encourage your friends and followers to do the same.

The First of Many Lasts…

first of many lastsToday is the first of many lasts – our daughter started her senior year of high school.

This is a year that will be filled with many last events – last time marching in the high school band, last winter concert, last festival, …  It’s the kind of year filled with a mix of emotions and tears (both joy filled and sentimental).

Yes, we’ve had other last like the last day of kindergarten and elementary school. But, this time it is a marker of our young woman becoming more independent.

Proud? You bet!

Yet, I have noticed there are tons of books (and now blogs) about preparing for your baby. There is information on getting your child ready for school. What I don’t see is much to assist parents with this transition from teen to young adult – the how to prepare yourself and them for the empty nest.

During the last couple months I’ve taken some time to discuss this transition with friends who have recently gone through it. Here is some of what I have gleaned.

  1. Be sure you have maintained a relationship with your spouse/partner over the years. While setting aside time to “date” while you have children is not easy, it can be done. We elected to have a date night meal for just the two of us where we can visit without our child.  When she was young that meant movie night for her. Now, it is generally her night out with friends.
  2. Keep note of your personal interests. When the extra loads of laundry end and the scheduling life around a child’s schedule there will be time to fill. Filling it with your loves can be important.
  3. Allow yourself to miss the daily interactions. The child will have their own life which means checking in every hour or every day may not be appropriate. You have to adjust. Which leads to #6.
  4. Create new traditions with your child especially around points of contact. For example, since I left for college Saturday morning is my time to call home and check in.
  5. Have friends that are yours for reasons other than they are the parents of your child’s friends. Yes, these friendships through our child may remain. but we also need friends who share our interests and passions. Sometimes this is the same people, sometimes it is different.

What advice would you offer to parents as they begin a senior year with their child?


People Can Surprise You

Mega Surprise
Mega Surprise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“…people can surprise you in the most unexpected ways.” is a line from an interesting article “How David O. Russell Made Me a Journalist” by @callieschweitzer.  For me the article lifts several important points.


  1. We never know if something that happens in our life is good or bad. Good things can come out of the things we first perceive as bad.
  2. Ask! If we don’t ask for help, for a response then we can’t expect something to happen. Asking is powerful.
  3. Each of us has the potential to impact the lives of others. Whether we are famous or not isn’t important. We make a difference in those whose lives we touch.


People can surprise us in good and bad ways. Be the positive in your own life and in the lives of others.




Time to get back in shape

As I advance in age and my body chemistry changes, my body has changed. Now I don’t view that as totally bad. However, my wight has began creeping back up. Time to recommit myself to fitness and health. To that end I’ve established three starting goals.

  • Goal one: Lose 5 pounds.
  • Goal two: Beginning August 6th, meditate once a day.
  • Goal three: Do something physical every day for the next two weeks.

What has worked for you? How do you fit workouts into your schedule?

Share your thoughts and I’ll keep you posted along the way.

As June begins

Sparks (Photo credit: Gnal)

As June begins, I reflect back on this week. It has had some winning moments.

Professionally, I had a great time sharing at the Senior Health and Fitness event sponsored by the Center for Health Improvement here in Hays on Wednesday. I am working on a post with highlights over on Music Sparks. For now, you can access the power point slides. I am prepared for an Music Sparks Sharing group that starts Monday. Intergenerational groups are a favorite of mine. And, I completed another section on a group project. (One more section to go.) Lastly, video is prepped for a Father’s Day Blog Hop which will be up next week.

Personally, I did a major paper inbox sort. Filing is not my favorite thing to do so this is a biggy for me. I have walked the dogs each day and even played piano every day. Having that musical outlet is so important. It has been difficult dealing with the limitations of my sore shoulder and arm. But, that seems to be improving so I hope to get back to yoga and lifting this coming week. I have also spent more time in professional and pleasure reading this week. Feeding my mind is helpful.

I look forward to seeing where these sparks of acknowledgement take me as I continue to grow and develop.

Weekly Wins

Sharing my professional thoughts is a great joy of mine. But, I have spent little time reflecting on my personal self and sharing that with you. Today I came upon a LinkedIn group called 9 Minutes a Day. It served as a great reminder of the power just a few minutes each day can have on how we live our lives.

Today I thought I’d share some of what has gone well this week – my weekly wins. No, these aren’t all work related. But, I think life is about the whole me – mom, business owner, wife.

  • Roughed a chapter of a book I am writing with a group of friends.
  • Determined the format for a book I am writing on Intergenerational programs.
  • Released a newsletter and an upcoming events alert for Music Sparks. Posts for te week were completed.
  • Attended an information meeting with my daughter on the select choir into which she has been accepted. (She is so excited about the musical outlets this group will afford her. And, there are travel opportunities, too.)
  • Completed installation of garden edging in the front yard.
  • Attended a webinar that provided a ton of business brand information.
  • Talked on the phone with three of my siblings.

What were your wins this week? Share them in the comments below.

How will you create lasting happiness?


Over on Music Sparks,my attention is turning towards Valentine’s Day and Random Act of Kindness Week. Serendipity brought  a TED Talk with Shawn Achor titled “The happy secret to better work” to my attention. It has a lot of wonderful gems included in it. The one I wish to lift up in this post small actions you can take to create positive changes in your life. They are:

  1. 3 gratitudes
  2. Journaling
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditation
  5. Random Acts of Kindness

Take a moment to watch this video:

So what action are going to implement to create lasting happiness in your life? Please share it in the comments below.

Breath and Space

Make space to breathe each day. It’s worth it. You are worth it.

Take a moment…

Take a minute….

Sit down.

Align your spine. And breath. Exhale.

Breathe fully into your lungs. Exhale.

Focus on your breath….



Ok, now take that relaxation with you back into your day.

The Next Step

The Monument Steps
Image by Plbmak via Flickr


This week’s Human Business Works email from Chris Brogan challenged us to share how we plan to make this year different and take things to the next level.  Answering that question for Music Sparks isn’t much of an issue. I’ve done that. Answering that question for Musical Gems is an issue for me. What is my next step?

I have had lots of questions running through my mind:

  • Is having two blogs wise?
  • Is this blog serving a purpose other than my sharing personal thoughts? (In other words, my less business types of thoughts.)
  • What kind of content should this blog have?
  • What do people find interesting on this site that is not appropriate to my other site?

I need your assistance in answering an important question –  What do you want to find on this site?

Please, answer that question now in the comments below!