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.


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?


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.

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!



Endings & Beginnings

Transition - New Beginning
Image by Mara ~earth light~ via Flickr

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Semisonic

As the year draws to a close and a new year begins, I am taking some time to review the year here on Musical Gems and to plan for the year at hand.

As part of my review I looked to see what created the most interest this year.   I wish to thank you for reading my posts, for sharing them, and for leaving comments. The top five viewed posts were:

  1. What Would Life Be Like Without Music?
  2. What are your six songs?
  3. Sharing Your Story, Making a Change
  4. Reflections on Music Therapy Conference
  5. Football fields are for Marching Bands (too)

Politics, fun challenge, advocacy, music therapy, and marching band…hum, things on which I have strong views.  Providing information others find useful, informative or fun is my goal. Please take a moment to answer this poll.

We’ll see what kind of exciting ideas we can share in 2012! I wish you much joy.

Living my life

I am blessed to be living a life I want – a wife, a mother, a music therapist. All these roles bring me joy. I have a passion for all of them. It is so easy to forget our blessings, to not fully live in the enjoyment of the moment. It is so easy to ignore what our bodies and our minds are trying to share with us.

Many years ago I was blessed to find a doctor that asked what was going on in my life almost every time I went to her when I was ill. She helped me create awareness for listening to my body, for pacing myself. I recently came upon this TED Talk and found a similar message.

Wise words. Don’t ignore what your body is saying.

10 Steps to Giving Time

Christmas gifts.
Image via Wikipedia

There are many people out buying gifts these day. People are wrapping gifts. People (at least children) are asking for gifts. Some people are saddened to have little expendable income for gifts. Why not give the gift of yourself and your time?

Before you say you can’t wrap time and place it under the tree, hear me out. I have a way you can wrap it.

  1. Think of things the person receiving the gift enjoys. Examples might be having a cup of coffee, eating ice cream, walking, playing cards, bird watching, …you get the idea. Write those items down. Chances are several are things that cost little or no money.
  2. Think of things you can do for that person. For example, you can read to a young child or play their favorite game with them. For an older person, it could be running an errand, helping with a chore. Write these items down.
  3. Think of things they currently do that you could join in. Watching a game, attending a concert, play on a playground. Write those down.
  4. Figure out a time line – Whether it is one week, once a month, over a couple of weeks, it doesn’t matter. Find dates you can be available to them. You may need to look at times you are available, too.
  5. Create a calendar with the dates and times. You can keep it simple of decorate it.
  6. Neatly write out some select items from your lists you are willing to share with that person. Place each item in an envelope, small box, or fold the paper and wrap it with a ribbon.
  7. Place the calendar and the items together in  a box.
  8. Write a note explaining you are giving them yourself, your time as a gift. Inform them of scheduling the items found in the box.
  9. Place the note in the box. Close the box and wrap it.
  10. When they open the gift, take the time to allow them to schedule then record the events in your calendar.

I would love to hear how this gift works for you. Please share your experiences in the comments below.