Thursday, March 31, 2011

Facilitate sanity

I woke up this morning feeling fine, and then got to work and grew a pretty sizable headache that persevered until mid-afternoon. And, my right contact was foggy all day long. My day was hectic with meetings and groups to lead, and I was/am tired at the end of the day. But, dang it, I made myself exercise. What a triumph. The facility where I work offers its employees a really great price for its fitness center, so I've been using it two to three times a week for a few weeks now. Granted, today all I did was the recumbent bike, when usually I run on the treadmill, but I still did it, right? I am happy I am trying to facilitate my own sanity; I feel so much relief after I make myself exercise. And relief is really difficult to come by. 

I can hardly believe nobody liked that picture of the labradoodle I posted yesterday. That dog doesn't even look real. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I was in the middle of a song today, and I suddenly thought of something I wanted to investigate that had nothing to do with the session I was leading. There are so many things going through my head lately that I have trouble focusing. This distractibility could be a sign that I am already boring myself and need to infuse more energy into work, and/or that I am failing to organize my outside thoughts. One of the topics of one of the first posts here was compartmentalization. I should re-visit it and see if I can remember what worked for me then. Any other ideas?

Oh, and I like labradoodles. They don't shed, right? Seriously, poodles don't shed. Do these?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Solo songs

The weekend was fantastic, as I expected. We were able to see a number of family members. We are so fortunate that our families live so close to each other, and that we're really not that far from them.

Musically speaking, my band (though I always have trouble saying "my band," since I didn't form it), has a show tomorrow night. Last night during one of our we-haven't-practiced-for-weeks-and-we-have-a-new-drummer-and-a-show-this-week practices, I have a very simple, but beneficial, revelation: I should incorporate the melodies I frequently "write" on any given day at any given moment into my solos. Why haven't I thought of my solos in that way before?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To home

An idea I have for my higher-functioning music therapy groups: Introduce one perhaps-new-to-them instrument weekly. Challenge with this idea: Come up with one perhaps-new-to-them instrument, other than the two I've used this week.
This weekend, we will be going to see family. There are three birthdays to celebrate, all having happened within the past week and a half.
Have a happy weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My favorite read

I am entirely and decidedly unapologetically a behaviorist. I mean I consider myself a behaviorist on a personal level, not necessarily on a professional level. However, I wonder how personal philosophy doesn't seep into professional practice as a therapist. But my professional life isn't what's concerning me at the moment. 
One of my favorite pastimes is to worry, and most of the time to couple that worry with imagining the full extent of the very worst outcome of any given situation. (Ask me for the quote I used to describe myself in my senior yearbook. Hint: The picture of Janeane Garofalo has something to do with it.) I think, if I have done my best to think of the disaster that could be, then nine times out of ten I will be pleasantly surprised when such outcome does not happen. 
Janeane Garofalo, of course
I have known this about myself for quite some time, and have recently been noticing the behaviors I have when I am especially anxious. I won't describe the behaviors because, quite frankly, I have seen them listed as diagnostic criteria for a certain number of disorders in one of my favorite reads (p. 462, DSM-IV-TR). What I'm trying to explain is that I find that being conscious of my behaviors of anxiety is the first step in alleviating that anxiety, but actually stopping the behaviors or substituting others (like smiling) tricks me into believing that I am more relaxed or more happy. Breathing steadily also helps. And eating. Eating always works for me. 
Then all of this leads me to wonder, what is the difference between genuine feeling and manipulated feeling? Can your own behavioral manipulation identify the resulting affect as what is real? Chronic anxiety is not conducive to good health. So I suppose, anything I can do, like actually using the words to tell myself to smile could help my health. And yours, too, should you come across me when I haven't recently eaten.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fitting to scale

Minor frustrations at work include:
1. Rooms full of sleeping people, likely caused by the dark and rainy day;
2. People fighting with each other, likely caused by the dark and rainy day;
3. Very sick people whom I cannot help;
4. Providing a performance-based rehearsal that I haven't ever done, which was difficult because:
A. I needed to use keyboard, and I do not fancy myself a keyboardist;
B. We are supposed to have these rehearsals weekly, however every Tuesday in March and those few in February had conflicts;
C. The residents who are in this ensemble were pretty upset that I hadn't been facilitating rehearsals, even though the schedule is not within my control;
D. I cannot tell them it was not within my control;
E. The rehearsal was not what I consider successful. 
Successes at work include:
1. Providing a pretty interesting and engaging session with a resident on a one-to-one basis;
2. Facilitating the aforementioned rehearsal, even though I'd rate it a bandaged frowning face on a Likert scale;
3. Watching residents utilize a rain stick and ocean drum, which provided multi-sensory stimulation (as well as laughter and socialization);
4. Discovering I truly enjoy using yellow highlighting. 

Word: Fugacious.

Monday, March 21, 2011


What a great, perfect weekend. On Saturday morning, Thomas and I ran the Get Lucky 7K, which was fantastic. I never knew I would love that race so much. My face still hurts from smiling all day. :) Perhaps I will run another race in mid-April.
On Sunday, we bottled our beer. Now we wait two weeks to taste it. We're thinking of having a party in a couple of weeks where possibly our beer will be served/drinkable.

Happy Monday to you.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I have come up against something of a wall at work. Perhaps not a wall, but rather a hedge, or some heavy brush. Maybe like the grass-covered jumps that you'd see in those horse races, after which lies a few feet of water-filled ditch. Yes, I think that is what I've come up against. 
I'm already feeling stagnated in my job. I think the facility uses music therapy as song leading, and that there is potential that just isn't utilized. Now, I am the music therapist at the facility, and so I can and will shape the position and its programs as I see fit, but I'm finding that the staff likely doesn't know the applications of music therapy. For instance, I'd like to start using NMT techniques and experiences (I can elaborate on NMT if you'd like), but when I mentioned such a thing to one of my co-workers, she described it as "a crazy idea." Hopefully I will consider educating the facility an opportunity for myself, and certainly a challenge. I love challenges. I just hope I don't trip and drown in the ditch. 

Band: The Decemberists.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I question you

How do you listen to songs for the first time? That is to say, how do you hear songs that have vocals in them? Do you hear the lyrics first, and then determine how you feel about the song? Or what about the beat and the instrumentation? I have a lot of trouble listening to lyrics in a song. In fact, a lot of the time, I don't care what the lyrics are. However, I think they're very important. How hypocritical I am. I feel that, if the lyrics aren't going to say something (I pretty much detest "yeahs" and "oos," but for certain circumstances) then they shouldn't bother being included in the piece. At the same time, I rarely care what they say. Are you like me at all? I'm curious about what attracts you to songs. 

Artist: Bjork.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Good night, bad night

Until recently, I had worked as a server in a restaurant. I have done that off and on for a few years, and I hated it. Some days I would sit inside my car outside the restaurant and have to do breathing exercises in order to get up enough stamina to get out. Most of the time, I worked night shifts, and so I attributed some of the dread to the thought of spending my entire night doing something I most definitely did not enjoy. 
Now I've come to consider that possibly it's simply working at night, or rather doing anything in the evening that doesn't involve eating and passive entertainment, that bothers and somewhat panics me. I work at the nursing home, a job that I like, this evening, but I am already having trouble breathing. I wonder why that is. I am absolutely a morning person, but man, it's only a few hours that I'll be there tonight, and it's not going to be that difficult. I am dreading going, however. 
Maybe this dread is happening because I will be missing a chance to see The Music Never Stopped with a bunch of my music therapy friends and Thomas. I hope it's good and that I'll see it soon enough.

Band: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


My very favorite blog, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, has repeatedly addressed the concept of "fun" and one's ability to find what is fun for him or her. One of the tips she gives to help find your fun, if you don't already know what it is, is to think about what you did for fun when you were 10 years old. I wrote a lot. I think that has always been my fun, but I very rarely continue doing it on a regular basis for more than a few weeks at a time. Another faction of fun Rubin considers is that someone else's fun is not necessarily your own, and that you should try not to feel guilty about it. For instance, I don't enjoy snowshoeing. I usually feel guilty at all times of most days including when I acknowledge that I don't love walking around in the cold at night for the sole purpose of doing just that, but Rubin's point is that I should try not to feel horrible about it. Another example: I might go so far as to imagine that a lot of people don't consider self-diagnosis from the DSM-IV-TR to be particularly enjoyable, where I could do it on a weekly basis. Might be telling as to why my favorite blog is called "The Happiness Project."
Any thoughts? Does anyone else upset themselves when they don't love the same things as the people around them love?

Band: Lucy Michelle & The Velvet Lapelles.

Monday, March 14, 2011

To live with them

On Saturday night, we went to yet another Minnesota Orchestra concert (I don't believe I've ever gone to see so many professional ensembles in one season). I am so fortunate to live in a city with such a great orchestra. I know that one will find some tremendous ensembles in any big city, but I believe the Minnesota Orchestra has to be one of the better orchestras in the country. 
Listening to this concert led me to remember the last one we attended, in which Lisa Batiashvili performed as the soloist. I've had some trouble legitimizing performing in my life, but her performance began to change my mind. I started to consider how I would be as a performer were I to be good enough to be a member of this orchestra. I've played in orchestras before, but I never have considered myself a very strong classical violinist. I wondered whether I'd improve simply by being in the other players' presence. I imagine I would. I have had so many experiences in which the level of ability of the people surrounding me has directly influenced how I perform within that experience, on that day. Of course I remembered past choirs and musical ensembles in which I've been, but I also looked back on the various sports teams on which I've competed, too. I remember one day when I was playing volleyball on my league team. Our team was good, but not the best in our pool and certainly not even close to the worst. For whatever reason, on this day, we played really tightly together and communicated well. I attribute this to the other team's being among the best in the tournament. I don't recall whether we won the match, but I know we won at least one of the games. 
These reflections led me, somehow, to consider how the orchestra functions as a community. There are different sections of instruments who contribute their unique qualities and capabilities and who fill distinct roles. Depending on how one defines the term "language," every community has one. And certain communities are large enough to manipulate their language in such a way that a dialect is used. One can learn the dialect when he or she spends enough time within that community, just like I might be able to pick up the nuances of a professional, classical violinist if I were allowed time in his or her community of instrumentalists.
If only I were good enough to be granted a stay. ;)
Does anyone else experience this performance phenomenon?

Band: Talking Heads.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lessons and pancakes

Is there anyone out there who has a few suggestions as to how to go about starting to teach music lessons?
And, if you like Rainn Wilson, you might like the website he co-created with two friends of his called SoulPancake. You can find it at
Do any of you use Twitter? I am trying to convince myself to start using it, but I still haven't. 

Band: Dearling Physique.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I was really sorry to learn about the earthquake that hit Japan. I followed the story on the BBC and on the New York Times site this morning, but I haven't kept up with it since. I am also thinking of my friends in Oregon and hope that their weather doesn't do damage. 

Band: Tennis.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I've caught a bug

I was fortunate and surprised to see a friend of mine who is also a music therapist in the cafe at my workplace today. She works in hospice, and will work with some of the residents I see at work. She and her sister are starting an artists' workshop (all creative medium) soon, and I am already brainstorming about what kind of art I'll bring to the first meeting. Ideally, I'll bring songs I write, but that seems too intimidating for me at the moment. What is so great about the conversation I had with this friend today is that she reminded me that, when it comes to creating something (and I think it's true that every part of your day is a creation of yours to some degree), someone puts out a lot of junk in the experimentation process before he or she achieves success with that particular project. I need that reminder on a daily basis, I think. A songwriter friend of mine back in Portland told me once, "You gotta start somewhere." Of course. 
I drew this picture for two reasons: 1. my aforementioned friend said she liked that I included one of the other drawings I posted here, and 2. because I'd like to think I've caught this creating bug. (I don't know why, but the word "bug" came to mind, and I used it as a prompt. Dorky, I know. Oh well, it resulted in something, at least.)
Thanks, Lisa. :)

Band: Lykke Li.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I enjoy scheduling my days very rigidly, and then becoming upset with myself if and when I do not follow my schedule. Today, for instance, I worked a half day. I have decided a few weeks ago to use my Wednesday afternoons to learn a certain number of songs and to work on my guitar technique. I seriously fashion a calendar in my head that has slots for what I do on an hourly basis. There are a few days when I accomplish my schedule, so to speak, but today I was really tired. So instead of reading for an hour I fell asleep and now everything is screwed up and I almost feel like the day is a loss and that I have to shift my schedule to fit everything in at all. Because I "write" a calendar that is almost impossible to keep, I find it very easy to be disappointed when I don't accomplish it. But, how does a person get everything done when he or she doesn't do several things in any given day? How does one get ahead? How does a person get everything done every day? (And I don't even have kids. Or a pet.)

My Bandathaday: The Thermals.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Smile, dang it

I am happy that I am finding a small sense of comfort at work. I am becoming more able to use similar session plans for each group throughout the day (I simply do not have time to write different ones for each group) and am more able to adapt them for level of ability. And I smile. That works so well, so surprisingly well. One of my music therapy instructors commented that I had an uplifting and powerful smile, and it turns out I do. I will use it to my advantage-- another tool, like my guitar. Honestly, Tuesdays are really long for me and my voice and body are tired, but I was able to pull through today. That's progress-- last week I was sick. Any tips for challenging days?
Happy Mardi Gras.

My Band o' the Day: April Smith & The Great Picture Show.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Skiing and beer and blogs

I had the distinct pleasure to go downhill skiing this weekend, one day with my family, and the other day with friends of Thomas. I have been only a handful of times over a period of probably eight years, and teaching myself to do it again on Saturday was absolutely frustrating. On Sunday, however, I felt much better about my ability. I am very sore, but I am also preparing to run a race in a couple of weeks, so I had to run today after work. I've gotten to the point, luckily, where I consider running and physical activity to be more for my mental health; I feel so accomplished once I finish with whatever physical experience I'm doing. 
Drowning the beer bottles in cleaner
This weekend we also made some progress on our beer-brewing attempt. We are essentially done with our secondary fermentation and have started preparing the bottles for the bottling process. 
I've come across another blog I like, thanks to Thomas. The writer of "Dilbert," Scott Adams, writes a pretty good blog (at least the few posts I've read have been interesting). It's called, simply, "The Scott Adams Blog," and you can find it at Anyone out there read any good blogs? 

My Band of the Day: The Generationalists.

Friday, March 4, 2011


A few posts ago, I mentioned that I was curious about how I came to be a musician, as I don't seem to be very musically inclined. Today I was surprised to remember that I like to perform. I had to be the "entertainer" for a couple of hours at work, as the hired performer who comes in from elsewhere could not make it. I was pleased with how it went, both musically and energetically. I don't get much chance to perform, as music therapy is absolutely not music performance. But, as I am getting over a cold and it's been a long week, my voice is really tired now.
On another note, March is (apparently) Music Involvement Month. And next week (I think) is Music Therapy Awareness Week. I had fun with some music therapist friends last night, leaving me even more excited to help create monthly song-shares and get-togethers with them. I'm somewhat lonesome as a professional.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Riding lesson

I remember learning to reign as a horseback rider when I was younger. The most important piece of information to consider when reigning is how to distribute your weight, or at least that's what I took away from my experience. The horse I had was very sensitive, and I remember that the best way to indicate to it that I wanted to slow down was to sit down, so to speak, on the saddle. To slow the horse down, I needed to relax my weight into the saddle, and even lean back a small amount, too. I love when I can generalize skills learned in entirely different contexts so that they may help me in current circumstances. Like today, I had a full day of sessions to lead, and though my voice is getting stronger, I still feel ill. So I decided that, instead of stressing out about session planning, I would take what I already have at hand and lead with it. Sit down and relax, in effect. That's what I did, and the group about which I was most worried turned out to be the most fun and most interactive. I am happily surprised. I will hopefully continuously come prepared, but be able to relax into my ability once I'm ready.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I have gone a long, long time without being sick, and I'm glad for that; I feel completely useless when I'm like this. My voice is affected, and I could hardly do anything with my clients today because of it. Let's see, I've been drinking nothing but water, I've been sleeping, taking NyQuil and Robitussin, I've been using ibuprofen for my headache, and have been consistently taking zinc and B complex vitamins. I am frustrated-- because I (luckily) never get sick, or at least don't lose much of my voice, I'm not very practiced in remedies. I catastrophize; I wonder if I'll ever get my voice back. :) I imagine I will... right?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"The Music Never Stopped," even when I was sick

I have been sick the past few days, and yesterday I wasn't able to read because of the headache that was ever-present. But today I saw this trailer posted on my friend's blog, Music Therapy Group for Autism. I am happy that music therapy is getting attention from its involvement in Representative Gabrielle Giffords' rehabilitation and at the Sundance Film Festival.