Thursday, September 22, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Time before the game

On weekends in the care center where I work, I typically do not provide music therapy sessions. Usually, I assist with other events or sessions or... well, I'll just admit that sometimes, on weekends, I call BINGO. 
(Actually, I don't hate it. I use my performance-enhanced enunciation and public-speaking-volume, and much of the time I get compliments from the residents. So there, it's a morale-booster.)
Every so often, I get the chance to spend time catching up with the residents while we wait for the game to start. Today I had that chance, and I am so grateful to be reminded how much I love these people. One of the residents' roommates just died, and I was able to listen to her relate how sad she was. I can't imagine how bizarre it must be to become friends with people, live with people, whom you realize may not survive the month. 
Some people are really impressive. I am sorry for their loss.

Friday, September 16, 2011

In sickness

I have been really ill this week, and didn't go to work for one and a half days while also canceling my private clients this week as I tried to figure out what was going on. I have a better idea, but even though I worked through a whole day today, I still felt/feel somewhat miserable. And this distraction I feel leads me to feel something else: guilty for not providing my residents my full attention. (What's funny is that my guilt may be aggravating my "sickness.") I am sure no one likes being sick, but being sick while working as I do turns out to be really difficult for me. I can just hope that soon enough I will be able to give all that I want.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And we're (hopefully) back

Finally, I am finding some inspiration again.
Tonight was the first night of my private clients' Fall session, and I saw two of them. I realize that the less time I spend doing something, the more I absolutely panic surrounding planning for it-- because I am still rather new to my private practice and the clients, and because we'd had a break at the end of summer, I had a lot of anxiety going into this evening. But, as has been the case with my care center work, I imagine I will find comfort somewhere down the line.
I actually used technology in the studio tonight. :) My fiancé has given me a set of iPhone/iPod/iThings speakers (probably not the most correct name for it), and-- guess what-- I used it. Now, I need to find some metal to add to my library as well as some Justin Bieber. Two very different clients...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


There is a resident at the care center where I work whom I respect and admire a great deal. I am reasonably sure this resident has no idea of this, and so isn't doing anything intentionally (I've never thought that about any of my clients). I am quite intimidated by this resident, though. I don't know her well, but I am distracted by her presence in the groups I facilitate on her unit. So much so that I notice sometimes I am tempted to change the flow of the session to include or highlight experiences I know she likes. Which is not wise of me, and pretty negligent. But, at least I notice it before I actually do it. I am happy that today I was successful in fulfilling a session plan that provided experiences most of the other residents could find useful in some way, even though many of the experiences I know that particular resident didn't enjoy. I am aware of this hang-up of mine, but I'm sure it's not too uncommon. I just need to learn to re-frame my perspective, I think. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

A break

Well hello.
This summer has been nuts. Clearly, I've not been writing much. At all, anywhere. 
Honestly, I've had trouble finding inspiration. As one of my very favorite music therapy instructors seemed to like to say, I've been incubating. Meaning, I've been internalizing most of my ideas lately, waiting for a reason or something to let them out.
My private clients are on break between sessions. I lost one client, but have kept the rest. I am still acclimating to private practice. 
I am loving my work at the care center. I love having opportunity to see the residents in most factions of their daily life. People are fascinating. One very dear resident died late last week, and that brought me down some. I am happy to have known her. 
Happy Labor Day to you. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Acquisition of tools

I am a private contractor who is starting from scratch. Do you know what I'd like? I'd like to have a list of must-have instruments and materials for those music therapists working with children. (And I'd also like to have the budget to acquire those things right now.) I am trying to accumulate a cache of tools as I am able, and I also find many, many ideas from other bloggers, but I still feel under-armed, if you will. I am trying to realize that this kind of business-building process will take its time. 

Monday, August 1, 2011


I have just submitted text for a brochure that will likely be sent to publish by the owner of the studio where I'm providing services. She said she'd like to have a tri-fold pamphlet advertising music therapy there, AKA me. I have never done such a thing before, and am hoping what I included was relevant and helpful. 

Ideally, in the next four to six months, I will begin speaking to communities who could use music therapy services.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blind ideals

Unfortunately, I have had a decent amount of inability to focus on any one thing lately. I feel like I've been fighting myself to forge through the days. 

However, though today I had a day off from the nursing home, I did see two of my most challenging clients in my private practice work. One of the clients is very lively, very young, and has a diagnosis with which I have had very limited experience. Both clients are still new to me, and I have had my "usual" (if ever there is such a thing when I am still in the beginning stages of my practice) three-session assessment process with only one of these two. I spent most of the day considering different approaches to treatment and different experiences to use, only to truly stress myself in the end. I am happy to report that, even though I tended to, let's say, agitate my day with second- and third-guessing myself, I found that, once again, what was most important in both of my sessions was that I listen to my clients and assess their energies, and to keep the goals and objectives in my head. I've been finding that I am pretty decent with improvisation, which is important in this work as the planning is important, but it's such a blind ideal-- only when I am in my clients' presence am I really able to plan the session.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I love how my need for believed perfection paralyzes me from remembering things I've learned well in the past. Tonight I had my first true assessment session with a child with developmental disability, and going into it, I was horrified that I had no idea how to assess this client, nor what experiences to use with the client. Then, my client's mother mentioned something that triggered my thinking of targeting impulse control, and with that, I remembered a flood of experiences I'd used before. Now, I feel much more at ease, and look forward to creating a treatment plan for this client. 

All I needed to do was listen. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Putting on a show

Hmmm... I have reason to believe my guitar could be damaged soon. There is no doubt I need a better guitar, but I wasn't planning or budgeting for that in the next week. I do need more instruments. Hmmm...

Today I facilitated the very first performance of any kind, ever, in my life. Family members and friends were there, there was a reception following, and I even took time during the performance to educate the audience members on tone chimes. The whole day was pretty stressful, but everyone seemed very pleased and thankful. I wonder how to better facilitate the next performance.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

She speaks in numbers

Every Thursday, I facilitate small group sessions with residents who are in the TCU. I have had a number of good sessions there, but today I had a favorite. On that unit lives a woman who speaks in numbers, but she does it so well and with such effective inflection that I can usually understand what she means (not, of course, exactly what words she is intending to use). Today she sang with me, whole songs, lyrics and words aplenty. I love that.

I also had opportunity to co-facilitate a session today, on the palliative care unit. I found that to be really beneficial. I was targeting an improvement in gross motor function, and there are only so many hands I have. With two of us, much more was accomplished. I also love that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New book

As found on Twitter, AMTAInc. is selling a newly-released book, Music Therapy and Geriatric Populations.

Oh, if only I had the energy and desire to read work-related books when I'm not working. Maybe in time I will have that energy reserve that I think I'll need for that. Anyone buy the book? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A favorite realization: When I see a resident wearing a sweater that I know I own. And the sweater is brown. Coupled with some nice Velcro shoes, and I'm set.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nickel Creek gave me a present

Recently, I have moved, and my mom has begun allowing me to repossess a number of my old belongings that she no longer wishes to store at their house (politely insisting I take back my crap). Last night, Thomas and I went through one of the giant plastic bins The Mother had had. In it, I found an AHSSA (American High School Speech Association) travel mug (I think I got it at one of the All-state competitions [notice I said "one of"]), a weird collection of Stanley Kubric DVDs that I think were pawned off on me by a friend in college, some pictures of babies in my family (back when they were babies), a couple of opera scores, and a lone Nickel Creek CD. Of course I love the pictures of the babies. But I remember that CD with very specific clarity. I especially like "Tomorrow is a Long Time" (though with that clarity I do not recall why I like it so much). I love how music can do that. This, I know, is not a discovery, because part of the reason any music therapist practices music therapy is for the realization of that phenomenon. 

I love that I found that CD. I feel like I was given a present. By myself. Because I forgot where I'd put it. Since I'm unorganized and lazy and moved so many times that I soon  entirely abandoned any effective means of tracking where and what I'd packed.

So it was sort of like opening a present.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From place to place

Not only do I work at a care center, but I also work at its adjacent apartments, for those more independently-living seniors. Many of the residents of the apartments are married to residents of the care center, and I am so fortunate that I am able to spend time with both members of the couple in separate environments. I don't know any other person on either staff who is afforded such an opportunity. I am able to put faces with names that come from memories related to me from someone in the care center, while also getting to hear from the other party (sometimes) similar stories. I love it. One of my favorite parts about my job is how continuously fascinating peoples' stories are.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I don't happen to be one of those musicians who loves to play and/or sing at any moment of any day. There is a time and place for my music, and, apparently unfortunately, that place is at work. 

So when my boss called me the morning of my day off to ask that I provide the entertainment for our department's barbecue that same evening, I explained to him my feelings about the music I provide. To this, he responded, "Well, maybe you could just play a few songs, no pressure." I e-mailed him, thanking him for asking because I am happy that he'd think I could entertain (that word, that word) everyone, but (I think) politely and professionally said no. The other music therapist at my facility had reminded me of maintaining boundaries, and had I not declined and not provided music for everyone that night, I would have been distracted and distant from everyone instead of feeling closer to them as co-workers in a social context. 

A few days have passed, and even today I was approached by a co-worker who applauded me for refraining from working at a non-work event. 

I applaud myself, too. 

Monday, June 20, 2011


I am starting most of my work from scratch. I am new to music therapy, I am still relatively new to the cities (so I don't know a large number of music therapists here), and I am really new to working with kids and people with developmental disabilities. And, I have never worked as a music therapist who is an independent contractor. 

So I thought it was fortunate and opportune that when Thomas and I walked into Target yesterday, the whole front portion of the $1.00 bins were dedicated to children's items (like dry-erase boards, beginner's math workbooks, etc.). I can do $1.00 for most of that. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Private practice (not the TV show)

Today, I officially began practicing as an independent contractor. I had only one client tonight, and will have three on Thursday. I am excited for what could lie ahead. 

I will be using much more piano with these clients than guitar, which is absolutely out of my comfort zone. But everything about this private practice is out of my comfort zone, so why not add a main accompaniment tool? I am starting from scratch with these clients; I have very few instruments to use, and not a whole lot of experience with this population. But, I have to start somewhere. 

'Twould be nice to have Nordoff-Robins training, and another music therapist for co-facilitation. Not in the cards.

Tired and ready for another day at the nursing home...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time and presence

I love my work. I'm bored with the songs I use, but I still love my work. 

One of the hardest, but most special, parts of today was when a resident pulled me aside and asked that I explain to her what is happening. She had just been hospitalized, and had before lived on a high-functioning floor, when now she lives in palliative care. I did my best to describe to her what changes she is experiencing. She was thankful for the explanation. 

I get so mad at myself about thinking I don't know enough, but sometimes being able to spend time with the people I see seems to be exactly what they need. 

Last week, one of my co-workers suggested she could run a residents' play. This immediately made me think of the movie, "Young@Heart." Watch this movie, if you're a person. I love it. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

More changes and developments

I have been in the habit of posting to this blog on a very regular basis, either on workdays or every day of the week. This week I have taken a break, as you can attest, because I am splitting the blog into three. Eventually, I will relocate this blog, but not at this point.

Here is where I will talk about my music therapy and music performance experiences. Here is my "professional blog."

As I have mentioned in the past, I do have a website in progress for the specific purpose of housing my professional web presence. We'll see how formal I get, but I do have some goals.

I will be taking over four individual clients as an independent contractor, starting next week. Yet another transition, and definitely one that is important for me to do. I look forward to the challenge. Also, I was asked today to consider facilitating music therapy for a group home (which is entirely separate from anything I am currently doing). I was asked what I charge. I'll tell you: I don't know. That's pretty much what I said, in some different language. 

Work is going well the care center, despite the fact that I had to use a loaner violin today. Dang. The sound is absolutely, in all respects, different, and it's hard for me to play it. I don't recall ever playing someone else's instrument. I look forward to reuniting with mine early next week. 

Beginning next week, I will be co-facilitating sessions on the palliative care unit with the other music therapist in the facility. I have been feeling like I have not been able to provide for these clients the way I should, and so I am positive having another pair of capable hands will be beneficial for everyone involved. 

Luckily, however, I feel much more adept this week than last. I've found that the more detailed I make my session plans -- even if I don't actually follow the plans -- the more goal-oriented my sessions are. Unfortunately, I haven't got everything figured out yet. :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Independent contracting and a broken violin

I had to give up my violin today. My bridge is warping, and it snaps out of place while I am playing. Frequently. And it freaks me out. So I am having them replace the bridge and re-mount my chin rest (two separate issues), and I won't have my violin for at least a week and a half. I have a loaner, but I am having some separation anxiety about this distance that has been created. I remember sleeping with my violin in its hard case when I was little. I don't sleep with my violin anymore, but, still. 

Oh, I miss it.

Now that I will be working as an independent contractor, I have needed/wanted to come up with a name for my "business." I don't know what I'm doing in the business world, but whatever I am doing is exciting. But yes, I have decided on a name. I will bring it to you in later posts...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Working out work

I am pretty excited right now. I have just returned from the first night of meeting some of my new clients, and though I am experiencing a very strong element of terror going into this new work, I do definitely feel thrilled as well. These clients each have developmental disabilities, and most of them are young. These are the terrifying elements, as I haven't had a lot of experience with either population for quite some time. 

The past few days I have felt pretty ineffective at work at the nursing home. I have already vented about my frustrations to another music therapist today, so I don't have that need anymore, but honestly, man, I hope I come up out of this hole soon. Of late I have been focusing on physical wellness, specifically fall prevention. I would love to co-facilitate with our physical therapists, but I am having trouble deciding how to approach them about this. 

My favorite picture of these two together. :)
Maybe we'll get to the yard tomorrow,
in the 90-degree heat.
On other fronts: We started showing the Harry Potter movies last night. We thought 'twould  be fun to review before the new one comes out in July. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wedding blog created

I knew today would be difficult, given that it was the first after a three-day, huge weekend. And given that I was/am still invested in the wedding planning that is going on. 

For future reference, Thomas and I have created a wedding blog. Should you want to know what's going on in that realm, you can find out at To Be Married in Minneapolis.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The past few days

A massive weekend is behind us. Thomas and I have just come home after having seen three movies in as many days. Thanks, Groupon

Oh yes, the length of my hair
will be right about here this time
next year. I just won't have
that mustache.

We also reserved our reception site for the wedding. I made sure to warn him that my hair is quite likely to resemble William H. Macy's in "Lincoln Lawyer" by that point (yes, this is one of the three movies we saw over these past few days). I will have to dye it a nice off-blond, just like Will. 

One reason I have to believe I am actually in my mid-eighties: I complimented (truthfully) one of the residents I had in a my music therapy groups on his delicious choice of footwear. Yes, Velcro played a major role in the construction of this shoe. And yes, there was food on the shoe. 

On the wedding front: I had a dream the other night that our guests were falling asleep at our reception because the music was so poor, but I saved the day by calling the DJ of my high school prom(s). Those guests were much happier dancing to Shania Twain, Sublime, and the like, than to the nothing that we had apparently provided.

In other words, the Memorial Day weekend has been very nice. Now, to another week. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Tonight I hosted a group for music therapists and interns who live in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. The group went well-- we shared songs, improvised, and even got to Skype with one of our newer colleagues who recently moved to Indiana. 

I have visions for this group. I'd love for us to meet on a monthly basis and facilitate workshops for each other, such as guitar maintenance, vocal warm-ups for those therapists who were not trained in voice, and even how to utilize social media. Hopefully, more of the music therapy community will join. Ideas abound. (One of the perks for hosting this group is that Thomas bakes chocolate chip cookies for anyone who is there. Damn good cookies.)

I also have visions of conducting research in the future. But that's for another time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This Is How We Go Out

I will keep this short. I just got home from my first softball practice. My first fastpitch softball experience of any kind in nine years. 

I can hardly type, nor can I properly grip my beer. 

Now I have calloused fingertips on my left hand from playing guitar and violin, and a possibly- soon-to-be calloused index finger on my right (from pitching-- who knows how much I'll actually do at this point).

Wear your gem sweater.
(Another picture not taken by me.)
One of my best friends just informed me that he is going to get married next summer, too. Here is what he and his fiancé will be enjoying. Lucky.

"If you want to survive, just shoot them in the brains." -- Leslie Hall

Monday, May 23, 2011

Disney World in Maple Grove

I enjoy shopping in essentially no circumstance. Yesterday, we went shopping for eight hours. Eight hours. A full night's sleep. We happened into this Disney World-esque town that consisted of brand new shops, stores, and restaurants, mashed into a few blocks, surrounded by massive piles of the dirt that was moved to accommodate their existence. I say it was Disney World-esque because it seemed so new and pretty and resort-like. I could've sworn we were states away from Minnesota, only because this weird place seemed so foreign... And now you can tell how often I go shopping, and for that matter, shopping in suburbia. 

Tornadoes touched down, damaged property, and killed and injured people in Minneapolis yesterday. The weather seems to be especially bad these past few months. Thankfully, we were not affected by the weather and do not know anyone who was, but I feel for those people who were. 

Partially because of the weather, we did not go camping this weekend as we had planned. The other part of the reason is that I am much more indoorsy than outdoorsy. I like being outdoors, so long as I have access to the indoors. (This is much, much more true in the winter than the spring and summer. Let's just say I am not a happy snowshoer/inadequate snowboot-wearer who owns nearly no outdoor gear to protect myself from cold under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. And let's also say that I will take this information into account and continue to complain about how much I hate the cold.)

Does anyone else feel that music is their job and not their hobby, and that therefore it's no fun to do outside work hours? I ask this because, while we did not go camping, we did meet the campers/outdoorers for dinner, after which they were going to gather for a sing-along. I promptly rejected that idea, even though no one asked nor had they actually started to play.

Let's recap: This weekend was all kinds of crazy, but pretty neat, too.

No pictures today. I'm trying to get myself to take at least one picture once a day. But I did not do such a thing on this day. 

Friday, May 20, 2011


Apparently I glean a huge amount of confidence from simply being around other music therapists. On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity and privilege to rehearse with my ex- co-intern for an event in which we are performing, and the familiarity I share with him was so helpful to me. He and I are in the same, beginning phase of our careers, and we have positions in similar facilities, and the act of discussing experiences we've had with our co-workers and residents was just so dang refreshing. 

Bash in the grass
One of my favorite music therapy bloggers (Kat Fulton at Rhythm for Good) posted recently about the importance of creating space for a music therapy session. Oh, for that to happen...

This weekend, we are supposed to go camping, but of course we're also supposed to get a bucket of rain all day tomorrow. 

Tonight: an orchestra concert.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moonlit panic

Nothing like being completely worthless all night last night and then waking up at 1:30 AM because A., I was dreaming that I wore jeans to work on a not-casual dress code day that is every day but Friday; and B., I was convinced that I am doing a terrible job as a music therapist. I essentially didn't sleep for the remainder of the night. Maybe it was the full moon a couple nights ago. 

I "taught a class" or "conducted a session" (something I can't call music therapy because there aren't goals, apart from providing an engaging experience, in mind for my residents/clients) this afternoon that was one big factor for my unease last night. I "taught," or rather "shared," the knowledge I have regarding the difference between violin and fiddle. Ever seen/heard a Chinese erhu? Did you know that it is technically a fiddle? 

Another reason I can't call this particular session/class/what-have-you music therapy is because it's an open group-- anyone can come and go at any time. Does anyone have music therapy groups that are open? This is an honest question; I'd love to know.

And: Has any violinist out there have any suggestions for alleviating back pain that I am almost certain is caused by playing violin? My hard cider and extra strength Tylenol combination isn't doing the trick. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Maya Angelou and fall prevention

Today I attended a seminar on fall prevention in nursing homes/care centers/skilled nursing facilities. Doesn't sound like fun? Yeah, it wasn't, but our presenter was fantastic. She used a fantastic quote from Maya Angelou: "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." Unfortunately, she was using it to reference the kinds of care provided to residents of nursing homes decades ago. 

Tonight marks the only unspoken-for, unscheduled night I'll have for seven days. Luckily, the weather is fantastic, so we planted our few plants. 

I am developing a website to use professionally. I am considering dividing my blog, and dedicating a professional blog to that particular site, and moving this one to another place. When I decide, 'twill be done, and it'll be easy to use. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sometimes I should worry

A really intense few days lie behind me. Big downs and big ups, and I am happy to have had a day of a big up. However, I think it's interesting to notice that sometimes the amount of worry and anxiety I experience about a particular event really isn't too irrational-- I performed pretty badly, I am sorry to admit, at an event over the weekend, and it ruined my day. And most of the days coming up to the performance. I have always been one to worry, and this time it was justified. Huh. Not a fun realization. 
Flowers also known as tulips

But, Thomas and I have found places we'd like for our reception. That's awesome news. And we started the gardening process. Also good...

I am spent. Here is a picture Thomas took.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Live music and late posts

Blogger was down on Thursday, but dang it, I wrote a post anyway. The following:

Excellence occurred today. One of my groups did a significant analysis of lyrics, which led to discussion. Residents conversed with one another, and seemed to connect on the topic. All was well.

And, I got to see one of my very best friends, and also one of my bridesmaids, tonight. Her boyfriend played a show at the Triple Rock Social Club, and I will be fortunate enough to see her tomorrow night and into the weekend. If Ever Was a Fire will be playing tomorrow night in Des Moines and the following night in Ames. I wish them luck; their drummer was very good. J

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maintaining groups

I have picked up another job, as of last week (and potentially another, third job), and I am already noticing some possibly great opportunities with one of my groups, as well as challenges with my identity as a music therapist. I am content and excited to be developing more experience with the senior population, and that I am using my other primary instrument-- the violin/fiddle-- in a much more prominent way. But the challenge is that this particular group, and actually many of the others I facilitate, are open groups-- anyone can come, anyone can go. I am able to balance such a session with the 1:1s (that I am absolutely loving) with people in assisted living, which happen directly after this particular open group. However, I feel that there are so many obstacles in the way.

I would love to hear from any music therapist out there who works in skilled nursing facilities or care centers. Essentially, I'd like to know good tactics for keeping large, open groups therapeutic. (What a broad answer that could require.)

In other news: Bash had his first vet appointment today. He seems happy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Toward the beginning of the game
Before the storm

And the purple sky
Remember when I mentioned the Twins game in my post yesterday? Well, after four innings, we got to see pouring rain and hail, with a tornado warning siren in the background. However, they did wait long enough to resume play, but Thomas and I didn't stay too much after they started again.

Let's see, what else happened today... Oh, a volunteer at work stopped me in the hall to ask if he could bring all of the instruments he owns (which initially is super cool) to play on my units during my session times (which initially is not super cool), but not until after he asked if I had a guitar tuner so that he could point out he thought I was out of tune. However, he made a point to assure me, "I'm not trying to take your job or anything." (I highly doubt he knows what my job is.) I found out very shortly thereafter that he is, in fact, trying to find a job on our staff. 

And here I have encountered my first strange I-need-to-be-somewhat-possessive-of-the-music-that-happens-here moments.

Go Twins. (We were down 6-0 when we left.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Piano Bash

I will tell you what's cool. Using your smartphone to listen to Pandora while running for the first time in two weeks because you feel fat and have the first half marathon you've ever run to prepare for in a few months. And an expected 80-degree day tomorrow for the Twins game we get to see in the corporate box (free drinks and dinner).

I spent a good portion of the day fretting about having to use piano for a group at the end of the day. I didn't use it, but I will next week, so that means I have a whole week to worry about that. And to worry about the wedding music I will be playing on Saturday. Hopefully I will spend the time I want and need to spend on this music. However, there are so many other things to do in a day. Maybe I won't sleep anymore. 

Hello, Bash. You are skinny.
Here are some pictures of mighty Bash, whose previous owners invested some precious time in preparing him for us; he is the most well-mannered 10-month-old puppy I have ever known. I am really surprised by him and absolutely pleased. 


Friday, May 6, 2011


A real weekend lies before me. A real, two-day, grown-up weekend, that is happening on a Saturday and Sunday. And the weather is gorgeous, which is tremendous and wonderful. 

Here is another list of sentences I dislike (note that they are said to me by typically-functioning adults with well minds):
"You look sick."
"I can't believe you had such luck getting roles [in theatre]."
"I don't like that [wedding] dress on you. Your shoulders are so masculine."
"You don't seem like a theatre person to me at all. You are way too introverted. I just can't imagine you performing."
The following was said by someone in my facility, but it's just too unique not to share:
"Did you have a lot of acne when you were a kid? 'Cause your face looks like it."

Here is a list of things I lovelovelove that are happening on a daily basis:
Waking up at 6:00 and going for a long walk with Thomas and Bash;
Eating breakfast;
Having a reason to start my day with physical activity, and to take that same walk when I get home from work;
Looking forward to the next day as I fall asleep the night before.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May in May

I may have an opportunity to provide music therapy to clients with developmental disabilities on a 1:1 basis as an independent contractor. I may also have an opportunity to teach voice, violin, and/or beginners' guitar. I may too have an opportunity to develop my skills advocating for music therapy by presenting to a variety of groups throughout this area. 

I may really want to take this opportunity, should it be granted to me, because I am configuring a three-year plan that includes opening my own practice...

I may need to take a business class or two between now and when I decide to act on that plan.

I may also feel a pang of hesitation because I may really want to spend good time at home. However, maybe now is best to invest this kind of time so that in the next couple of years, when there is more of a pull to be home (not that there isn't now, but when it might be too hard to be away... ), I could maybe accomplish having my own schedule and my own clients...

I may, I may, I may. We'll just see how it goes. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blue and black shouldn't be worn at the same time

Here I sit, in my blue sweatpants and black sweatshirt (yes, nice, and yes, I did color coordinate with Mom), rocking in one of our two wicker rocking chairs on the enclosed porch, with Thomas sitting next to me and Bash (the new dog) sleeping on the doormat, and I am thinking that life is pretty awesome at the moment. 

Remembering to love moments like this is truly difficult for me. 

Because I could just as easily think that this is a great moment, but for the fact that I am not being productive. And because I am not doing things that need to get done, this moment, therefore, really isn't as great as it could be. And there goes my cherishing the moment... 

No, that's not true. I still am loving life. 

I do wonder, though, how to do it all. I could easily, and maybe should, spend hours each night working. I am still trying to find my balance.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The activity girl

Finally, it's over 30 degrees here, and the sun is out. I took Bash/the dog whose name may or may not be solidified, for a walk directly after work. I had a great morning, both at home and at work, but my afternoon has pretty much sucked for reasons I can't determine. Even the walk in the awesome weather didn't help me. 

Below is a list of phrases I dislike:
"Is there going to be a sing-along?"
"Are you the entertainer?"
"Are you going to perform for us?"
A staff member to a resident, as I am trying to gather specific people for a group: "Would you like to listen to some music?"
"The new activity girl is here." (This one is special; I don't like "girl," either.)

I do happen to look good in red.
I. can. hardly. stand. those. words. in. those. configurations. !

But I do. I do stand them. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ability vs. musicality; nature vs. nurture

On Saturday, Thomas and I had another opportunity to go to an orchestra concert. True, I was tired from having worked all day, and Thomas seemed tired from having run a 10K in the morning (and helping me move out of the apartment), but we went. I was again impressed by a violin soloist, Johnathan Magness, and I was reminded that I absolutely love Dvorak. Another thought I had, though, was about the act of teaching music. 

Clearly, this violinist and all of the orchestra members are terrific musicians. I had to help run an event at work that morning, also having to do with violin players-- and I say "violin players" because they were children, very young to maybe high school-aged. They were giving an annual recital. (Mom, they weren't Suzuki, though they did play a lot of Suzuki songs.) Now, they are learning how to play violin. They are learning about music by experiencing an instrument. But in my book, they weren't musicians. Yet. 

This is not Bash.
I have played violin since I was two (nearly three) years old. I can tell you that I do not ever remember being enthralled by the music I played. I do not have a memory of hearing a piece and having trouble resisting some temptation to learn it. I do, however, recall seeing a couple other kids who had a need to know a piece. Certainly, I have benefited from my Suzuki instruction, but my big question is: How is musicianship taught? Or is it? At what point does the ability to play an instrument, or use your voice to sing a song, become musical? I believe that I am a musician, but I do not think I was a musician until very recently. I suppose I am wondering whether or not musicality can be instructed. Can one be taught to be a musician, or is musicianship (and lack thereof) a part of one's nature?

On a very different topic: Thomas and I are now dog owners! Yesterday, we adopted a 10-month-old, black labrador/retriever mix from the Humane Society. We love him! We have (just this moment) named him Bash. (There is a story behind his name, but you'll have to ask me to have Thomas relay it to you...)

Pictures of Bash to come. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Celebrate when you can

I got on the elevator at work today, and one of the volunteers who is frequently there and one of my co-workers shared the elevator with me. The volunteer asked us to what floor we'd like to go, and then immediately started complaining about how stupid it was that people were excited about the Royal Wedding. My co-worker asked her why she was so upset by it, and she said that we should be thinking about the people whose lives have been utterly disrupted, if not lost, by the tornadoes. 

Well, yes. And no. I cannot imagine the pain the victims of the recent storms are experiencing. The closest I've come to that was a tornado that went through Iowa City while I was living there. The storm tore up the town, but no one, thankfully, died or was even injured (as far as I remember). That storm was scary, and it simply did not come close to the tornadoes that have killed hundreds of people in the past couple of days. 

I can appreciate that our hearts should go out to those families, and that relief should be pledged in some way for those victims. 

But I also feel that people shouldn't be berated for trying to experience joy or to celebrate something. There is always bad news. There is always something devastating happening. Please do not think that I am downplaying the tragedies of Alabama, or of Japan. But I don't think there is anything inherently wrong in trying to feel good about something. Especially in times of great loss and devastation, such as there has been all over the world for, well, forever. Good news comes so infrequently. Good things aren't reported as often as the bad, or so it seems. What is wrong with trying to enjoy someone else's happiness? Just for a day? Why is that good thing bad?

Finding happiness and reason to celebrate is much more difficult than feeling despair. Most news is bad news. Embrace what makes you feel good. That's the only way to keep going. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Coffee triage

Every time I enter our bathroom, I smell stale coffee. This is because one of the first things I managed to do yesterday at work was let my travel coffee mug (mind you, it was a travel mug, and it was sealed as tightly as it could be) tip over on my music cart and spill itself onto one of my beloved books of music. (Notice I wrote, "let my travel coffee mug," which actually incorrectly implies that I had something to do with it, as if I saw it tipping, and allowed it to follow through. This was not the case. Something knocked it from its secure position, standing freely in the middle of a moving cart. Not secure; I shouldn't have let it there, and I am sorry.)

Sorry doesn't adequately describe how I felt about it, because as I was trying to save the book and my water bottle (that should have been inhabiting the space) from coffee, I was also fully aware that I needed to start my group within minutes, and that there was an alarm going off nearby as a resident was falling out of her chair. Of course (and I hope you didn't question me), I attended to the resident first and fully. 

Which leads me to wonder how in the future I can better lead a group and attend to those residents in the periphery who are clearly experiencing problems of one kind or another. Triage. Needs must be met, by everyone, and in what order is an interesting dance I will continue to learn. 

So the coffee-stained book is now hanging by its spine in the bathroom. I love coffee, but I hate smelling it as it stales on the pages of a book that is very important to me. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter dogs

I notice the massive, inflatable Easter bunnies and their counterparts that live kitty-corner from our house (1. I heard somewhere it's actually "catty-corner," and 2. I love that I can now say "our house") have fallen to the fact that Easter is, once again, past. I was worried about the health and well-being of these neighbors, though, because until only a week ago, they still had their Christmas inflatables attached to their roof and fence, flapping in the wind as their insides had long-since been evacuated. (Good thing they don't have bowels.) Thomas says these neighbors inflate giant decorations for each holiday. I wonder how they'll decorate for No Diet Day on the sixth.

I wonder how Easter was for you. Mine was great. Thomas and I traveled to my parents' farm, where my brother and his son from out of state had been visiting. We spent the whole weekend with family. Even more family than had been there for Christmas. And that's a lot. 

The picture may be bigger than the dog.
We are considering getting a dog... Either a Pomeranian or a mastiff. You know. Something around that size. 

Are you kidding?
(This isn't me. Nor a dog I could feed.)
No, we really don't know. Preferably a dog that won't dig, as we are going to start planting/gardening. I thought maybe a legless dog, then, but Thomas doesn't seem to think that's a wise suggestion.

I am eagerly anticipating May. In May, I will hopefully be getting more hours at work and I will definitely be getting benefits. Wouldn't it be neat to just have a doctor's appointment?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Not me
Man, oh man, does sleep make a world of difference to me. I simply could not sleep last night, and when I got to work, I felt like I was imploding. I couldn't concentrate, and I had a lot of trouble singing well through the songs I was providing, and I was unhappy. I had had a great day the day before, so I knew it had nothing to do with how I was feeling with work. Luckily, Wednesdays are short for me, so I napped really hard and now feel essentially fine.

I remember hardly sleeping when I was in college. I had a number of consecutive semesters in which I had 20 to 23 credit hours, and I stayed in the library all night some nights. Sure, some nights were not spent at the library, but I wasn't the person who shoved something like 40 bars in a two-block radius in the ped mall.

Either I am getting older (of course this is true), or I simply didn't notice what effect sleep deprivation had on me those years ago.

Some people have religious leaders to whom they look for guidance, but I am telling you, I am not ashamed to admit that I really love Gretchen Rubin. Here is some of what she finds to be important about sleep. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Staying clear

Thomas registered me (per my request) for a half marathon in October. Hopefully my training for it will help my physique for our wedding. But, as much as I'd love it, I somewhat doubt I will ever get any smaller than I already am. Regardless, I will try. 

In my music therapy blog reading, I found the site Musicovery. I gave it a C on an A-F scale. Tell me, how do you grade it?
Where I thrive

I remember forming ideas for the coming year once the end of last year came upon us all. I remember saying I wanted to focus on music and my relationships. I want simplicity, so that the things in which I invest grow really well. I'm engaged, which is huge and wonderful. Hopefully I will continue to develop that relationship. :) And I have chosen to focus on my work more intensely and to clarify my needs in the world of music. Also, a good thing. So far in 2011, I am doing well. 

I thrive in Minneapolis. Thrive. :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Snow globe phase II (at least)

I have entered another snow globe phase. Not to say that much of life here, with me, had become settled in any respect. Its pieces had at least begun their drift down to the ground, though. Thomas and I are moving my stuff from my studio apartment to his house, which alone is enough to send me into a shake-up. But we are also trying to nail down a wedding date and make the first few big decisions that come in wedding planning. And considering getting a dog, in the next few weeks. All of these things are lovely and fantastic.

I am looking for more work, and it sounds like I may get another position in a facility affiliated with my current one. I am also considering "opening" my own "practice," and by that I mean, taking on some individual clients. I recently got a gig as a substitute violinist in a wedding trio, and I am trying to learn more music for work. 

All kinds of beginnings. Beginnings are exciting, but also intense and time-consuming (for me). Where do I concentrate? Where do I focus? Oh, and I've decided to register for my first half-marathon, coming this fall. Again, exciting, but exhausting. I get invested in work when I'm at work, but when I leave, I become consumed by home life (which is natural and probably best, I know), but, how do I divvy up my attention?

Another snow globe
You know?

I think I've had a lot of snow globe phases this year. 

I will try to be nice to myself as all of these newnesses come to be. I am still a new music therapist in a new position, and I am still newly engaged (my favorite). 

Anyway, I am happy to have all of my clothes in one physical space. That fact alone will make daily life easier. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moving out and moving in

One of the closest friends I've made here since I moved a year ago moves away this weekend. I was so fortunate to have been interning at the same site as Courtney, and I will miss her dearly! She moves on to a full-time music therapy position out of state. Good luck to her. 

I, too, will be moving this weekend, but within city limits. I truly detest moving, but it simply has to happen. I am excited to becoming settled and grounded in one physical space with Thomas.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday, Monday

Didn't finish.
After a really busy and productive few days, I sat down last night to watch a movie. Granted, the movie wasn't what I wanted to see, as I was looking for a simple, Jennifer Aniston-esque wedding movie. I chose "The Answer Man," which stars Jeff Bridges and that woman from "Gilmore Girls." I don't think I have ever seen anything with Jeff Bridges in it that resembles an Aniston movie in any way, but regardless, my choice had been made and I watched the damned movie. Until I got mad at myself because I was up so late and made myself go to sleep. But I watched half of the movie. Something close to half. I got to the part where Bridges' character, who had written a very popular book called Me & God, exchanged books he was trying to sell for answers to "god questions" the bookstore owner had for him. One of the owner's questions was, "Why can't I do what I want to do? I have all these ideas, and nothing ever pans out." Bridges' character's answer was that it was important to remember that everything one does is what he wants to do; no one can be made to do anything. 

Having little to nothing to do with the movie, I decided today to be in a decent mood (I had been feeling that work was the boundary between my getting to see Thomas tonight). I decided to sit back a little and consider the current moment instead of plan the next. How was my day, as a result? 

Irritating. I was irritated today. A co-worker complained about it being Monday, and I chose to admit that I wasn't feeling so hot about the workday-- on Mondays, I don't facilitate music therapy sessions. Instead, I facilitate other recreation therapy sessions. Sometimes that's a nice change, but today I was just irritated. Soon, though, I will be happy to see Thomas after his trip.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Local Rhythm

Tonight I had this explosion of interesting things to do. I was going to attend an arts workshop, but it got canceled. After this, I saw Local Rhythm downtown. I was super impressed and am excited to hear them play out again. I thought they were great. Following, I saw O'Death (who were much better than their name) in St. Paul. 

Why, oh why, do some bands insist on being too loud? (I didn't think O' Death was too loud, but one of their opening bands most certainly was.) When less volume will accommodate the venue, then less volume should do. I am of the school that more volume pushes the audience away, and less volume (and a tight ensemble) invites an audience closer. I hate amplification. I do. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Candy and tasks

I have spent a substantial amount of time over the past few days tidying up and organizing and doing things I generally don't like to do. Things I do much too irregularly. Things I spend an exorbitant amount of energy loathing. And in doing them, I have found, once again, as I have always found, relief. Not quite the relief I have mentioned in posts past, but relief nonetheless. That relief translates into a kind of happiness that is impossible to experience without finishing troubling tasks.

What do I do to reward myself? I eat left-overs from the brunch (including drinking some of the corked champagne) and watch a "Cougar Town" marathon. (Take it easy with your judgments. If there were Bravo to watch, I'd be watching. That crap is like candy for me. Empty calories that bring temporary joy, followed by self-disgust and regret.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I used the drive-through ATM today, during regular business hours, and was not at all surprised to see two other cars using the same ATMs. I wasn't surprised because I knew the drivers must be thinking what I'm thinking: I don't want to talk to people, especially about my money, when I can have the same service rendered me by a machine. The weather was gorgeous and there were plenty of pedestrians on the sidewalks, yet we drivers much preferred sitting in our cars to parking and getting out and carrying on conversations about the weather with strangers in line. So no, the ATM driving-through didn't surprise me. 

Not me.
What did give me pause was the realization that, in thinking back to similar circumstances not involving banking, I do the same thing. I'd rather go through a drive-through than be with strangers. I know I'm not the only one who would rather eat in the car than in a restaurant. I suppose that since these options have been provided us, we are clearly more able to be lazy. And I don't mean lazy in the physical sense, but in the social sense. Had I spent the energy to park my car and get myself inside the bank today, I imagine I'd be somewhat healthier now for having exposure to others. Socialization positively influences health. Now that I have options that enable isolation, I more often than not will take advantage of these. Why? Because doing so is so much less work, but brings so little benefit. 

My favorite part of the ATM drive-through is when one of the cars honked at another ahead of it. In the time spent waiting, he could probably have gone inside.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Re-frame and relax

I am again and again amazed at how rehabilitative telling myself to relax is. My Tuesdays are very full, and there is one group in particular I don't feel I do well facilitating. And I have thought, "Man, they all know how much I suck at this." But today, I decided that if I concentrate on the goals I have for the group and take myself out of focus, all will be better. Of course, I have aspects of my facilitation to improve, but re-framing my thoughts about the group helps tremendously.

Thomas might appreciate this.
I also must point out that, not only did Thomas and I announce our engagement on Sunday, we opened the first of the beer that we made. And not only did we try it, we served it to our friends; the beer was tasty! Success.