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.


Opening up to the energy

“Performance is not about getting your act together but about opening up to the energy of the audience and the music. And letting it sing in your unique voice.” ~ The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

When I came upon this quote. I stopped. Literally stopped. Something resonated with me on many levels. It resonated to me as a musician, a parent, and a therapist. Surprisingly, it isn’t the word “performance” that made me stop. It was the phrase “open up to the energy”. Yes, I know all things are energy at some level. But, what does it mean to open to energy?

As a musician, I can attest to many different energies during a performance. Often it is nervous energy. Judgmental energy is flowing (is my pitch correct, how is my phrasing, etc.) There is also the focus or lack there of by the audience. When I open to the energy of the audience and the music, the nervousness fades away. It becomes more a sharing.

As a parent, I know the energy emitted from my child affects the type of energy with which I need to respond.  The way the energy presents itself has changed as she has grown. As much as don’t want to admit it, there are times I have not been open to the moment and the energy my child is presenting.  Yet, when we are in the moment (when I am open), it is amazing what happens and the memories that are created.

As a music therapist working with older adults and young children, I am very aware of the energy they present for a session. Often I have to shift plans to better meet the needs of the clients energy.  I also must be aware of what  energy is necessary for the clients to meet their goals. Here openness means being aware of what is needed.

This time of year can be full of lots of high, fast, and loud energy which can drain our personal energy reserves. For me to be effective in my various roles, I need to open my awareness to my energy. Taking time for proper food, drink, rest, and exercise can help keep my energy from crashing. It means saying no to some things. It means being patient with myself.

How do you open up to energy during a busy time of year without burning out? Please share it in the comments below.


New year streamer
Image via Wikipedia

According to Your Dictionary the word “expectation” refers to “believing that something is going to happen or believing that something should be a certain way. (noun)”.  What a wonderful word to describe this time of year! There is a level of excitement, of wonder. Hope is creeping into our lives. We are in expectation of:

  • a new year
  • holiday presents
  • visits with friends/family.

On a personal level I am living in expectation of:

  • a new nephew
  • new business opportunities
  • time off with family
  • spring gardening
  • more freedom from clutter
  • offering more classes for preschoolers in Hays, KS
  • hosting some community events to share the love of music

Sometimes expectation has negative emotions tied to it. The expectation is for negative news. Maybe we feel this as we await biopsy results or preparing to say goodbye to a family member who is dying.  There is a tension and sadness with this form of expectation.

What expectations are you living with? How do they make you feel? Please share them in the comments below.

11-11 Moment

On The Front Porch
Image by larrymac via Flickr

Yesterday,the social media and the news were filled with comments of how special and unique 11-11 was. Why don’t we view each day as special  & unique? What would happen if we treasured more of our days in the same way? What would happen if we treasured a minute of each day?

I am currently listening to Victor Wooten‘s ” The Music Lesson” . Here is a “timely” quote which I listened to yesterday:

“Now listen here, son. How much of your precious little time is spent really becoming who you choose to be? Do you know? Actually all of it is, but you don’t know that it’s you doing the choosing. How much of that time is spent consciously making yo’self better? Not much. We can probably count that time in weeks, or even days…If you were to look back over yo’ Life, you could find time frames when yo’ actions did produce the outcome you were looking for. For example: you spent a few weeks learning how to walk, and you succeeded; you spent a few months learning how to talk, and you succeeded; you’ve spent years learning how to play the bass guitar, and you have succeeded. All the things that you’ve held yo’ mind to, you have accomplished, or will accomplish. You can believe that! And all of these time frames can be viewed as phrases.” pg 183

I challenge you to take moment every day and make it the best moment you can. Make is a snapshot worth moment! Find a way to record those moments – a photo, a journal entry. Cherish each day for the gift it is. Then, come back in a week and share how having a special moment each day has affected your life.

Until next week….

P.S.This is a very thought provoking book. I recommend having both the audio & written versions. The audio shares some wonderful insights while the written format allows you to reflect in a different manner.

Hey, I’m Imperfect!

“Owning our story can be hard but nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that light.”  ~ pg. 6, location 258

This quote closes the introduction to Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection”.  This is a book I will reread time and time again. Often I am reminded of my imperfections, leaving me secretly wondering (in my heart)  if I am good enough while my head said that everyone makes mistakes.  Guess what:

Image by karin ramaker via Flickr

It is generally easy for me to forgive others for their imperfections and mistakes. It is generally more difficult for me to forgive myself. Admittedly, the self talk is generally something along the lines of “What will they think when they find out I goofed up?” Yup, shame is my buddy.

If you, too, have struggled with similar thoughts, I highly recommend reading this book along with following Brene’s blog: Ordinary Courage.

Lest you think I am down on myself, I’m not. Rather I know:

“…I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” pg. 1, location 174

Imperfect Beauty
Imperfect Beauty by ToniVC via Flickr

Keep Your Head Up!

Facial emotions.
Image via Wikipedia

Last week on the Music Sparks site I shared the need to “Weave Me the Sunshine”. I seem to have my emotional antenna up these days. First, I decided to purchase “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, Ph.D. I’ve just started reading the book, but I am finding it a fascinating read. Vanessa Busch describes general premise of the book as:

“…above all other ingredients of living an emotionally healthy life is the importance of loving ourselves. In the grips of what she took to be a breakdown, or midlife crisis, Brown came to understand she was experiencing a “spiritual awakening” and worked to explore its significance and the interaction of knowing and understanding yourself and loving yourself. She intersperses her own personal journey with research and clinical observations of others of the work of living a “wholehearted” life, or “engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.” The point is to embrace life and oneself with all the imperfections, releasing the stress of overdoing and overworking. Brown offers exercises for readers to plumb their own emotions and begin to develop the kind of resilience needed to stand up to unrealistic expectations of others and ourselves.”

Be watching for future posts about my journey through this book.

Next, I heard a song this week that speaks to emotions while riding in the car with my teenage daughter. Take a listen.

Do you think it speaks to dealing with our emotions in a genuine way? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below,

Are you a dreamer?

Imagine - John Lennon's Memorial
Image by dimic- via Flickr

Today John Lennon would have turned 71. One of his songs that stands out is my memory is “Imagine“. In it speaks of being a dreamer. Of what do you dream?

I dream of:

  • slow walks on the beach
  • days filled with laughter & sharing with family and friends
  • listening to stirring music performances
  • health
  • wholeness

When I look at this list, I am amazed it all currently exists in my life. For that I am grateful. I also have dreams for the world, many of which Lennon shared in the song: peace, no hunger, freedom.

As you listen to “Imagine”, please take a moment to dream of what it is you want in your future. Then share it in the comments below or in your blog. ]

Happy dreaming!

What makes you smile like nothing else can?

Persian Smile
Image via Wikipedia

National Smile Day is October 7th. At Music Sparks I am sharing a post of smile songs. Which begs the question: “What makes you smile like nothing else can? Here’s my top 10 list:

  • A walk on the beach at sunset on a beautiful summer evening with my husband and daughter.
  • A warm cup of fresh coffee on a cold morning.
  • Cuddling by the fireplace with my hubby and a glass of wine on a fall evening.
  • Being with my Dad and siblings as we tell stories and share laughs.
  • Watching my husband conduct – especially one of his compositions.
  • Watching my daughter perform well in an ensemble or alone as an instrumentalist or a vocalist.
  • Spending time in my garden and seeing the fruits of my labor.
  • Making music with family & friends.
  • Being part of a moving worship experience.
  • A baby – human or animal.

What makes YOU smile like nothing else can? Share it in the comments below.

Still wading through the junk

Awhile back I posted on my plans to dejunk and reorganizing. I am still working on this project. But progress is happening.  The biggest change so far is cleaning my desk off each day.  Even if that means setting the papers on top aside into a to-do file, I find it makes for a totally different approach to how my day begins.

The bound calendar is gone. I have had several challenges in the transition such as google calendar and iCal not playing together even with purchased apps. I ended up with everything disappearing. But, now Google is working & I can access it. I have printed out the weekly flow and the monthly overview. Lucky Google plays nice with my android phone, so I am feeling more comfortable.

I now have three baskets on my bookshelf: one of materials to read, for children’s programs, and one for older adult programming. I work much better with open baskets than closed files. And, being able to grab a basket and go spread out materials is an added plus.

My storage area is still not far along. One large container of clothing has been taken to a battered women’s clothing closet. We did a major “take it” event. (Think garage sale without the pricing and monitoring.)  We were left with one car load and item for our alley clean-up. This will create space for me to work on work storage.

Stay tuned for the next update!

In the Mirror

A mirror, reflecting a vase
Image via Wikipedia

My church has started a new ministry called Crosswalk. It is creative, fun, and challenging. We are currently spending four weeks on the topic “How do I see myself?” Last night we dealt with “how we see ourselves through our own eyes, through the eyes of others & even through God’s eyes.” We took time to look in a mirror & answer  for ourselves what we think others see? We wrestled with what we see and our true emotions.

Views of oneself seemed to be a recurring theme for me this week. I read a post about research on reverse facial image and preferences. Unfortunately, I didn’t bookmark the post so I am unable to locate it to share. I did find a PDF from a 1977 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled “Reversed Facial Images and the Mere-Exposure Hypothesis”.  Interesting thought that we prefer our own face as a reversed image but a friends face as a “normal” image. In other words, we prefer photos of ourselves as we view ourselves in a mirror.

As a music therapist, I know and use many songs that deal with emotions and some that deal with mirrors. We spent a fair amount of time last night discussing the appropriate expression of emotions. We spent most of our focus on verbal expression and behavior. Personally, I find there are many more ways to express and to explore our emotions among them physical movement, various visual art mediums, and music. Music is my preferred medium.

This following song was shared during last  night’s service. It seemed to  resonated with several people in attendance.What emotions do you hear in the lyrics?

As you look in the mirror and within yourself, treat yourself with the love and respect you treat others.