I’ve got vacation on the brain. It is all I can think about and therefore all I can write about today.
Hubs and I are flying to Tampa next week (Coronavirus be damned), where we will meet up with one of our long time couple friends (Hubs’ first college roommate and his wife, Lynda) and drive a rental car to a 2 bedroom condo in Siesta Key. Where we will stay for 5 days.
There, we will be celebrating Hubs’ 50th and our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary.
Beyond having our flights and VRBO booked, no other plans have been made. Which is what makes me so excited about this trip (the element of surprise, you know). All four of us have agreed on our priorities while there: lounging on the beach, sipping ice cold adult beverages, and fishing in the ocean. That’s it. No further expectations.
The fishing part is all Hubs’ idea. Not that the rest of us goons hate fishing. It’s just that Hubs adores it. He and I went on a charter boat fishing when we traveled to Islamorada in the Florida Keys to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We both enjoyed it tremendously.
Lynda’s husband is wary of the “devil sun”, as he calls it. He will be slathered from head to toe in sunscreen, wearing a Minnesota Twins baseball cap and reading a newspaper. That is how he rolls, and we all know it.
Lynda and I will enjoy ourselves some chit-chat between our spates of attempting to catch “the big one”. Snort-laughing all the while. That is how we roll.
Of course, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit there are scenarios in my head of what we might do between the fishing, soaking up the sun on that white sand beach, and downing frozen fruity cocktails. Like kayaking, eating fresh seafood, and souvenir shopping (in tribute to my mom, Bonnie, who never failed to bring us all back tchotchkes when she came back from vacations).
And with the time I’ve left before this vacation, I’m going to be working on a playlist. Cool thing is, my office mate gave me a water bottle with a blue tooth speaker implanted in the cap. So I can take my bottle of cold *whatever* with me wherever we go, unscrew the lid and sync it up to my cell phone and together we can all jam out.
First song I will add to this playlist is going to be this David Byrne song that I discovered by accident. I was in awe of his performance with his talented troupe on SNL the other weekend, and it occurred to me that beyond the major “Talking Heads” hits, I wasn’t very familiar with his music. So I used google to grant my wish of listening to his music and this came up. As I was listening to it, I thought to myself that this is a perfect song to sit and listen to while on a beach in Florida with our friends. Then I looked at the name of the song.
At the tail end of 2019, I submitted in this post that 2020 ought to be my year of “Clarity”. I won’t presume that any of you fabulous readers will hold me accountable for this declaration, so I will do the deed myself.
I’ve gained much clarity in my work life in this new year. The dynamics are changing (new boss) and the expectations my employer has for me in the coming year have been clarified. I’m feeling enthusiastic about the new changes to come and the support that I’m experiencing.
I’m also feeling more clarity in terms of what I am paying attention to. As well as what I’m not giving my attention to. For instance, I’ve decided that for Lent, I’m giving up on stalking a certain state’s court website for updates on the legal status of a person who has wreaked havoc on the lives of my family (for the last 6 years, give or take), specifically it’s most beloved members. I’ve come to realize that this stalking I’ve been doing is draining my mental and emotional energy. Not to mention it’s completely pointless. What happens, happens. Checking it obsessively is not going to impact the outcome.
A musical “epiphany” I had recently drives this realization home for me. It’s from the momentous song we all know by heart: “Let it Be” by the Beatles. The line after “Let it be” is “there will be an answer”. And all this time I’ve been focusing on the “let it be” part. I have faith that there will be an answer, not only in this wretched aspect of my family’s life, but in all things. It’s about faith; letting go and trusting the answer will come.
My 2020 soundtrack is providing me with clarity in how I approach things these days. “Listen as your day unfolds”. That is a great line; the first in “You Gotta Be” by Des’Ree. I see it as a directive for me to pay attention to my environment in the day to day. To pay attention to the people I encounter. The feelings I’m feeling, both emotional and physical. The media I consume.
Clarity with what my writing process is happening as well. I’m honing in on what works and what doesn’t. A prime example is that, per David Sedaris’ suggestion, I’m jotting down my daily observations. I find it to be a sort of therapy in that after I’ve done it, I feel refreshed. It’s helping me sort out what it is exactly that I have to say and how I want to say it.
Before I sign off here, I have a question for you all: What are you clear about in your writing and/or personal life? Right here and right now-in the current?
As a writer, I’m perpetually searching for fodder. Music is the sort of fodder that I’m naturally drawn to on a daily basis.
It’s the stuff that fuels me. It inspires me. It soothes me. It motivates me. It nurtures me in a way nothing else really can.
That is why I’ve decided to create a bold new playlist for just me, myself, and I. It will be chock full of tracks that will keep me focused on my own self improvement path. Songs that contain the messages I need to hear.
So indulge me while I play “DJ” for a minute (a job I’ve always wanted to sample) and share with you the “must have” songs for me in 2020:
“Shower the People” by James Taylor. The lyric “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel; things are gonna get so much better if you only will” is….just well, “IT” for how I aim to interact with others on the daily this year.
“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder. Not only does this song prompt me to break out in a happy dance, but it instantly improves my outlook. I like to think of it as a song that God inspired Stevie Wonder to write as a love letter to his beloved children. At it’s heart, it’s a song about faith.
“Everybody’s Cup of Tea” by Kasey Musgraves. I’m going to include a clip of this one because I don’t think it’s terribly well known, though it should be. I need to keep it on my soundtrack because I know that with my blogging and writing, not to mention my actual personal life, there’s going to always be people who don’t appreciate me. To stay strong and keep plowing ahead, I need to embrace that fact.
“Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner-Overdrive. It’s the lyric, “Taking care of business, every day, taking care of business, every way”, that gets my motor going. It motivates me to stay on top of shit. To not get so sucked into social media, binge-watching Netflix, or even blogging that I’m not fully taking care of important business. Like keeping our home in good order. Getting to work on time each day and completing each task that presents itself to me. Self-care in all it’s varied forms.
“Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold. This song will be on my 2020 soundtrack because it’s important to me this year to make friendships, old and new, a bigger priority than in years past. To appreciate all the friends I have and nurture those relationships.
“Anticipation” by Carly Simon. This song is a very important one as I move forward in 2020. On account of my squirrel brain (which almost always has multiple tabs open simultaneously), I relate to the lyric “And I wonder if I’m really with you now, or just chasing after some finer day”. It stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be present. To focus on the “right now” instead of the “what’s next”. Because tomorrow is not a given.
“Take that Step” from “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. If you haven’t yet seen this Netflix documentary, do yourself a favor and watch it. Unless you don’t want to feel joy or be uplifted this year. The lyric “find that path others missed, life is better with a twist” is particularly inspiring to me as a writer with ambition!
“I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. I’m sure you all know this song. It’s a universal musical “pick me up”, don’t you think? The reason it’s going on my 2020 soundtrack is because 2019 was a hell of a year. A lot of not-so-great things happened; however towards the end of the year things started to really look up again. On top of that, this song represents what I’m seeking most in 2020: Clarity.
This soundtrack of mine, much like this blog, is a WIP. Throughout 2020, behind the scenes, I will be ISO more songs that will guide me through the year with a sense of purpose, love for myself and others, and the mindset and energy level I need to accomplish the goals I’m setting for myself.
Do you, fellow music lovers, have any songs in mind for your own 2020 soundtrack? Please share in the comments 🙂
My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.
I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.
In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.
More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.
So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.
Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.
I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.
I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.
Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
“Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k
While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.
Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.
FOOD AND DRINK
Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.
But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!
When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.
I personally love it!
I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!
Seems I haven’t written a music-themed post in quite a little while. As I’m knee-deep into another WIP for this blog right now, which is not going to be ready for public consumption for at least another week, it feels like a good time to talk about the music that is currently inspiring me.
I like the idea of having a “theme” song. Not just one, however. We humans are not one-dimensional after all. It’s how ever many speak to you. A song based on what’s going on in your life in the moment. A song that expresses how you are feeling about what’s going on in your life in the moment. A song that speaks to your spirit; your soul.
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you probably understand that I’m a total geek when it comes to making Google playlists. I’ve got numerous playlists, all filled with songs under a specific theme. From my “CFO” (Chill the Fuck Out) playlist, to me and Hubs’ “Road Trip” playlist, to my “Soul Song” playlist (which I talk about here and highly recommend you do, if you find music inspiring at all-if you don’t, you might want to get that checked. Just saying!).
But this post is not about my Google playlists. It’s about songs that come into my mind in particular moments. The ones that sometimes define my days.
“Bitch” by Meredith Brooks: I’m feeling pretty fierce when this is my theme song. Confident, like I’m embracing all that I am as a woman in today’s world. With gusto.
“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus: I know this may seem like a cheesy choice, this song that was written and performed by a child 10 years ago. But bear with me here. It is a very well written song and the lyrics resonate with me as a blogger with big writing dreams. And yes, it is on my “Soul Song” playlist, thankyouverymuch.
“Anticipation” by Carly Simon: This song speaks to me in the moments when it dawns on me that I’ve allowed myself to perseverate on future plans. It brings me back to earth; the present, the now. It reminds me that right here and right now, living a great life with Hubs in Colorado, that “these are the good old days”.
“With a Little Luck” by Paul McCartney and Wings: This is the song I sing to myself when I’m stressed about our Spawn and what their futures might look like. When I feel like Hubs and I have done all we can to support and guide them but still feel anxious. It’s a little reminder to myself that Hubs and I have gone through myriad ups and downs, with our children, our careers, our personal selves and extended family through these last almost 30 years, and we’ve always figured things out, made it through. And with a little luck, we’ll keep on keepin’ on. It gives me a sweet little boost.
Do tell me, my music-loving, lyric-loving, self-loving readers: what are your theme songs?
I appreciate a good song. Just like when I was a teenager and I would tape the top 40 countdown directly from the radio (anyone remember Kasey Kasem?), I’ve got loads of thoughtfully put together playlists on my tablet.
One such playlist I titled “Current Faves”. It is a work in progress, but so far I’ve got 18 songs on it. It’s my way of staying current. But not so current that it’s loaded with pop hits from BTS or FXY or whatever the youths are listening to on their Ipods. This playlist is mostly focused on a genre I have been digging for the bulk of my adult life: Adult Alternative. While most of my other playlists are chock full of songs that would be considered “classic rock” or “pop hits from the 80’s and 90’s”, my “Current Faves” playlist is comprised of songs that were put out in the 2000’s.
Informer by Snow. I heard this song for the first time while listening to “The Current” on the MPR station out of the Twin Cities. I often listen to this program on my tablet as they always play a solidly eclectic mix of upcoming and formerly upcoming artists, and I often hear songs I have never heard before.
Now onto my “Current Faves” playlist.
I’m not necessarily what one would refer to as a fan of rap or hip-hop, but this song has such a catchy melody. It reminds me of songs by the artist “Shaggy”. I think my friend CJ at Feeding on Folly would concur.
Take a listen and you may see what I mean:
I defy you to not shake your booty to this!
A couple of months ago, Hubs and I caught the band Greta Van Fleet on SNL. We really dug them. They, to me, are reminiscent of classic rock bands from the 70’s (Led Zeppelin especially comes to mind). I’m always intrigued by band names, including of course this one. It’s not like there’s a lead singer by the name of Greta. The band is comprised of male millenials, after all. Turns out, the band was named after one of the band members grandmothers. Isn’t that the sweetest?
Don’t you just love how this band looks like it just walked out of a 70’s supergroup album cover? And the lead singer! What a pretty face he has, right? He kinda reminds me of Marcia Brady’s crush, Davy Jones.
I’ve also got a couple of Elle King’s songs on this playlist. She is something else! Feisty, talented, and entertaining! She makes no apologies for who she is and what she represents.
Check this out:
Next month, Hubs and I are finally going to see a show at Red Rocks, after living about an hour from there for almost 3 years. Honestly, our decision to purchase tickets to see the Head and the Heart there was more directed by cost (some of those shows are ridiculously expensive!) than anything else. However, I knew a couple of their songs and since purchasing the tickets have been listening to them more and more.
I have so far added their songs “Rhythm and Blues” and “Missed Connections” to this awesome playlist.
Now, there’s one song I’m going to be putting on a new playlist I’ll be creating: The Ultimate Classic Rock Jam playlist. It’s inspired by our new housemate, Radar.
Anyone who has been following this blog even for a little while gets that I am obsessed with music. And that I love to write about it. For reference, I blogged about my appreciation for music here,here,and here.
True confession: I’ve always fantasized about being a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. That just might be the coolest job ever, in my opinion. Oh, the people I’d meet! The things I’d learn! The music I’d be exposed to!
I am also a huge fan of creating Google playlists. One of the many I have created is my “Beautiful Songs” playlist. This is the one utilized during those times when I feel the need for self care. When I’m feeling contemplative. It is composed of songs that I want to hear when I’m by myself during a long drive. Or when I’m home alone, cooking a good meal to enjoy when Hubs comes in from work (a rare occasion, these days, and admittedly very traditional, in a Leave it to Beaver sort of way). These are the songs that I will stop whatever it is I am doing (unless of course I’m behind the wheel) and pause to enjoy until the last sweet notes.
My Beautiful Song playlist is a *WIP, just like me (no, I am not finished with acronyms quite yet). Actually, all my playlists are WIP’s. That’s what makes them so much fun for me to create. They can be customized to my own personal moods and tastes.
Here’s a sampling of what you can find on my Beautiful Songs playlist, and why they belong there:
Wildflower, by Skylark: I’m pretty darn sure that Skylark was one of those one-hit wonder kind of bands. If they were destined to fall into the category of one hit wonder bands, they should be quite proud that this was that one hit, right? The lyrics bring tears to my eyes, as they remind me of someone I love very much who is struggling to find her strength as a young woman in this world.
Sunshine On My Shoulders, by John Denver: When I hear the first few lines of this on the acoustic guitar, my heart fills up and my eyes begin to well up. Pure auditory beauty.
Nobody Does it Better, by Carly Simon: The melody and musicality of this one, accompanied by Ms. Simon’s powerful vocals blows me away every time I hear it.
Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton: The first time I heard this song, it was at my Aunt Connie’s house. She was always a huge fan of music and frequently would insist we all shut up and listen to her favorite new song (think we share some genes? ha!). This was one of them. At her funeral (stupid fricking cancer), just a year ago now, once everyone was seated for the service, this song was played. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
This One’s For You-Barry Manilow: Yes, I will admit that I am a lifetime fan of Barry Manilow. I recognize that this statement is unlikely to entice anyone from Rolling Stone to come a’knocking on my door to offer me an opportunity to write for them. The first concert I ever went to was Barry Manilow. I went with my mom, my aunt, my cousin and a couple of other family friends. My cousin Brett and I were totally over the moon (being the “hip” 12 and 14 year old children of the 80’s that we were) about seeing Barry live. We even created a big sign that was emblazoned with the words “We Love you, Barry”. This particular song of his may be the one I find the most beautiful. It is quite likely I’ll be adding more Barry Manilow songs to this playlist (remember it’s a WIP!).
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road-Elton John: I gotta say, I’m a bit particular when it comes to Elton John. I dislike much of the music he put out from about 1985 to the present. But man, he really had some awesome songs before that. This one is probably my favorite, with the beautiful piano start and the questions: When are you going to come down? When are you going to land? Wow.
Harvest Moon by Neil Young: I think Neil Young is one of those artists, much like Bob Dylan, who people either really love or really dislike, voice-wise. Personally, I love his voice. I love that it’s not perfect. I love the way this song starts, with the simple ba-da, da-da-da-da-da and the percussion (you know that little brush they use on a drum). And the harmonica then the trombone towards the end make it extra special, like the cherry on top. It’s just such a sweet tune to me. My sister and I recently enjoyed a performance of this song by a two man band while sipping craft beer at an outdoor patio in Duluth, Minnesota. I know now that I’ll always think of this moment with her when I hear this song again.
So, fellow music fans: What songs would you have on your own personal “Beautiful Song” playlist?