Gratitude & Celebrating

My Birthday:  

Gratitude & Celebrating

 

Yes, thank you. More, please.

These words have become the mantra, prayer, wise words, and gentle request of one of my closest friends. She utters them when things get a little difficult, urging herself to recognize that the challenges of one day or week are only making her stronger and more capable to handle the future.  She shouts them with joy when joyful things are happening or when life is full of mundane. Because the mundane is actually just stillness and life needs that too.

When I call her, to complain or laugh, to celebrate or cry, she repeats them to me:

Yes, thank you. More, please.

 

Who are we thanking? Perhaps Source Energy, Great Goddess, the Universe, Good Orderly Direction aka G.O.D., Buddha, Mother Earth, your God, his God, her God…all of the above.

Yes, thank you. More, please.

So on my thirty-something birthday, I could write a list, but it isn’t the list itself that I’m proud of. It’s life: living, breathing, and being. Yes, thank you. More, please. All of the difficult parts, all of the sticky-icky and best left forgotten: Yes, thank you. More, please. All of the joy, friendship, and love. Especially all of the love. Yes, thank you. More please. For the sweet and simple moments.Yes, thank you. More, please. I am truly grateful.

Today I am excited for the many adventures yet to be lived. I have so many firsts left to experience:  places I haven’t yet traveled, friends I have yet to meet, and stories yet to be written. (Just last week I tried duck for the first time!) They don’t need to be placed on a list or in a bucket. Life will unfold as it has and always will: day by day, moment by moment, and depending on my point-of-view that day, a touch too quickly. Today I am celebrating that I’m here–with salted caramel ice cream pie from the local ice cream shoppe.

Yes, thank you. More, please.

 

Do the Thing

I’ve often wondered how to “come back” to this space.  In my head, I imagine it to go very much like a couple of long-lost friends bumping into each other at Starbucks (not that you’d find me there any more. You know. Saving money & all.)  Something kind of like this:

You:  “Hiiiiiiiii-eee!  How are you? It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!  How’s the family? Mmmhmm.  That’s fantastic!”

In between I’d calmly and sort of awkwardly answer: “Hiii. So good to see you! I’m great thanks. You? It has been awhile. A really long while. The family’s good- kids are growing and we’ve moved. Yes, definitely fantastic.”

And then you’d ask, because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t?:   “Did you Do the Thing?”

“Ummm. Yeah. So the Thing didn’t really get done quite the way we thought it would. We’re not upset by the not doing of the Thing. We just had a small change of plans.”

Back to you. This is where most people give great supportive comments along the lines of “there are more fish in the sea” type things. Only, pertaining to The Thing.  You’ll do so. I’ll accept them. Awkward moment over.

 

See? It wasn’t hard to come back to this space. It was a lot less wordy than the last time I took a break. An Upright Grand Piano & a Break. It’s good to see you here.

The kids are great. Getting big. Still not going to school and yes, we did indeed move.

We are living in the Philadelphia area now.  We can throw pennies on Benjamin Franklin’s grave any time we want. Not that I think he’d like that but people do it.

We will have to grab a beer next time we catch up. I’m pretty sure Franklin would be pleased.

 

Tips for Budget Friendly Music Lessons

pianokeysThere are so many wonderful and proven benefits to a strong music education program for students. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) cites increased confidence, improved memory function, development of language and reasoning centers of brain, development of spatial intelligence, and discipline and dedication among the myriad reasons a strong music education is important to students of all ages.
With budget cuts across the country, many parents and students in public school districts are seeing that their favorite arts programs are being lowered in minutes or not offered at all. So how can you give your child the benefit of music education while still maintaining a healthy budget? Is it possible to have weekly lessons that don’t add up to another $100 per month? It certainly is!

1. Purchase a General Musical Instrument
The first tip is to purchase a musical instrument that is a good foundation for the family to learn on. Used pianos are relatively easy to find and can be used and learned on by even the youngest members of the family. Finding a used piano will be simple once you start to look for it. Typically you can find them at garage sales, resale shops, in newspapers ads, and web-based or App based resale sites. Common prices for a used piano range from $50-$350 depending on condition and style. Remember: an out of tune piano can be tuned! (Even the best piano tuners only charge about $100.) If your children are older, a guitar may also be a great first choice for a family instrument. Children under the age of 5 may have a difficult time playing due to their small hands around the neck of the guitar.

2. Choose a Method
Once you’ve chosen an instrument and have it at home, you will want to decide upon the curriculum to use. If you don’t play the instrument as well, this is a perfect opportunity to learn right along-side your son or daughter! There are a variety of ways to learn any instrument: utilizing Youtube for free lessons, finding an online instructor (typically quite discounted compared to private lessons) or purchasing beginner lesson books. When deciding upon a book to use, pay close attention to the package it comes in: look for a series that offers music theory, and lessons, as well as practice music. For older elementary students starting out, it can be off-putting if there are too many cartoon characters. Visiting a local independent music store will be the best place to find guidance in selecting a series of books.

3. Set-Aside Time
By now, you’ve likely spent anywhere in the range of $150-$500. Music lessons can be helpful to some, but in the beginning, pure dedication and discipline are all it takes to get started. With daily practice for 20-30 minutes per day, your child (and you!) can go from knowing nothing about your selected instrument, to being able to play Three Blind Mice in a relatively short period of time.

Gaining the benefits that are laid out by the NAfME can definitely be accomplished in relatively painless and cost-effective ways. By demonstrating a love and understanding of music, you’ll have given your child a gift that will carry with them through the rest of their life. And you’ll have a better memory for it!