Monday Music: Psalms & Olives

Happy Monday, Friends!   I started writing about music on Mondays, to get me blogging regularly again.  Music is such an important part of our lives.  And I always have something to say about music. Don’t you? 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to cantor, that is- songlead, at church. The Psalm setting of the day was one I had learnt last minute at my sister’s wedding, eighteen years ago.  Her friend and cantor had come down with the flu suddenly, and although I was also the Maid of Honor, I was called upon to sing for the entire wedding Mass.  I had heard the song one time only, during the wedding rehearsal.  But as it was also my profession as a church musician, I knew I could step up and sing.  It was like my entire life had prepared me for that moment.

I hadn’t heard it since.

As I sang the refrain from the ambo, I remembered singing at my sister’s wedding.  I had liked the psalm so much, I chose it for my own wedding which was only twelve weeks after.  As I sang the second verse, I looked out at the congregation and saw my two beautiful children sitting in the third pew.  And I realized, as I sang the blessing “Your children flourish like olive plants” that indeed, here are my children and how we’ve all flourished!  I saw my mother, and realized that as her child, we are all part of her olive branch.

I was so overwhelmed by this sensation that indeed, we have all been blessed.  I may have inadvertently changed the words at this point, I mean, who says “Olive plants” ?  Olives come from trees, with branches.  Right?  And then, I raised my arms to invite the congregation to sing along with me, and I sang “Happy those…” instead of “Blessed are those…” I guess I was happy.

That’s one thing I like about music ministry. The lyrics are prayers. The congregation is so forgiving. How can I keep from singing?

Happy Anniversary to my sister and brother-in-law! Olive you!


olive you

olive you


Monday Music: More Triangle

My family just loves this fun GEICO commercial depicting a classical triangle soloist gone wild.  Have you seen it?  Click here: Triangle Soloist Geico Commercial

I have a playlist entitled More Cowbell.  Sometimes I do wonder, though, if the guy playing triangle in Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” was paid by the ding.  Or maybe they were trying to make up for an underutilized percussion instrument in popular music.  I love castanets and cowbells in pop music, don’t get me wrong! But, every single measure seems a bit much. What do you think?

more triangle

more triangle

Last year I wrote a Monday Music post about the triangle solo in a Billy Joel song.  Check it out here. (Video link at the end of my post.)

And here’s that playlist- because I know you want it.

 *some songs featuring vibraslap may have snuck in  

more cowbell playlist

more cowbell playlist

Blog Tour Continues: Dee’s post on RachelintheOC Today!

Hey Everybody!  The Book Tour for Dee’s Dishes continues!

I’m so honored to be featured on RachelintheOC’s blog today!

How Writing Takes Me Out of the Crazy is here!


Have you checked out the other stops on this tour?


Don’t forget to stop my virtual party on Facebook tomorrow!  Follow this link to RSVP: Dee’s Dishes release party

I really hope to see you there!




B Street Mix is Back!




Did you really know all the words to your favorite songs on the radio back in the 80s?  Bonus points if you can tell me where this misheard lyric gem comes from: “Don’t switch the blade on the guy whose name is Ramon.”

Growing up in the 80s and going to school in the next town, B Street was the route my mom would take.  Later I drove myself to high school along the same route. I have such fond memories of listening to KFRC 610 AM radio in the family Pinto station wagon, and then popping in my cassettes for Wham! UK, Journey, and Saga in the “Plum” (read- Brown) Toyota Camry Sedan. And don’t get me started on my mix tapes.

Years later, as an adult, I found myself living in the same town and driving along the same street, after I dropped off my baby in my parents’ loving care. For twelve more years, B Street was my commute. And I popped in my 80s cassettes (or CDs) in my Honda CR-V.

Well, now I am back helping out at my old work location, and back on the B Street commute. I admit I wasn’t too thrilled with this change, at first. But my bestie reminded me that I could do the B Street Mix again, and that made me smile. I used to post on social media  the three 80s songs that made my playlist for that morning commute.  And my friends from all over would chime in about their happy  memories of the songs.

We are so lucky in the Bay Area to have an exclusively 80s music radio station, helmed by none other than MTV VJ Martha Quinn. And if you have Sirius XM satellite radio, there’s an 80s channel, as well as Classic Rewind, HairNation, and 1st Wave.  I also listen to Pandora.

Last Wednesday was my first day back on B Street. As I blasted Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, I thought to myself, why don’t I  listen to this song every morning?

Today’s selections were “She’s Got the Look” by Roxette, “Wind Him Up” by Saga,  “Separate Ways” by Journey, and “More than a Feeling” by Boston.

What’s on your playlist?



Wednesday Wellness: Prepare Ye

Happy #WellnessWednesday! (Or is it Wednesday Wellness? I can never remember.) I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I notice many of my friends who are creative types struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my humble journey to wellness.
Having just survived that family ordeal which we call Thanksgiving, we are now entering my birth month, otherwise known as that month which always has me running around like a chicken with my head cut off, run over by a train. (Writing run-on sentences and mixing metaphors, apparently, too.)

Let’s just all take a moment to acknowledge the winter holiday struggle and invisible illnesses, shall we?  Here’s “Unwell” by Matchbox 20.

Sing it, Rob

Here are a few things I am doing this year to help me find the light and keep the darkness at bay.

Honor Advent.
Many world religions celebrate the winter solstice. Read this. I have a book of meditations that I like to read at this time of year- part Christian, part Zen. I am also singing at church on the second and fourth Sundays.

Practice Self-Care.
I listen to guided visualizations on my phone before bed. After some basic yoga and maybe the plank challenge.
I am near done purchasing my holiday gifts, and just have to wrap them. Thanks to my handy dandy historical gift-giving spreadsheet, which I have kept up since 2004. I also search online for lists of books containing characters with my children’s and nieces’ and nephew’s names.

Tis the Season of giving. Many social justice organizations need your help now more than ever. Feels good to donate even just a little. If you are a homeowner, your charitable donation may have tax benefits, as well. There are many ways to give, starting with collecting unneeded clothes, books and toys in your home to donate to a local charity, many which swing by your neighborhood on a regular basis. Your old glasses could give someone the gift of sight. You can also donate your time. Sign up to volunteer with a local food bank or charity organization to sort or distribute donations. Sign up with a friend or family member and share the experience.

I do want to journal and blog more. Right now I am working on self-editing my new book, so hopefully I can return to regular writing in just a bit.

Maintaining the family calendar of all our events. We have orthodontist appointments, church, religious instruction, pageants, school, band practices, band performance, the Nutcracker, recitals, and three family birthdays. Still it’s all manageable with clever calendaring. I’m so excited that my 2017 Diary Planner has already arrived!

Say No.
Even though singing with a volunteer choir sounds fun, I don’t have time for all the rehearsals. So, Ive learned to say “No, Thank you. Maybe next year.” Try it.

Read my other posts on Advent here.

Advent Calendar



Wednesday Wellness: Back to School

My friends, I started writing on wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noted many of my artist and creative type friends struggled with wellness, as do I. 

I have never been a morning person.  In fact, I am a known night owl.  But my firstborn started high school two weeks ago, and he has Zero Period beginning at 7:05am.  So now we wake up at 6:00am.


Sunrise (c) Alexander Briel Perez via Dreamstime


Waking early with a focus is changing me.  Somehow it is easier to do more extra curricular activities at night, now, too.  I think it is because I am getting to work earlier, so I am also leaving work earlier.  I go to sleep earlier.

But I am also happier.  I am no longer so obsessed with some of those dark, unhappy thoughts.  I am not finding a lot of time to write, read, or watch TV. But I am considering volunteering- both at church and with marching band.

My daughter and I watched her brother’s marching band practice for an hour yesterday.  They’ve got great music and remarkable skill.    I remember my own days in marching band quite fondly. Some of the deepest friendships I have had were born in marching band.    Even today, there is not a day that goes by that I am not in contact with one of my marching band friends, usually in social media and online games.  I just know that my dear son is forming some life-long friendships right now!

As I lay down to sleep last night, I reflected on all that is going on in our lives, and how content I was.  I did some deep breathing and practiced gratitude.  I was so ready to sleep, I was astonished that I didn’t even have any of my anxiety remedies deployed!  (Lavender sleep mask, crystals, hematite worry stone, collagen under-eye treatments…)  I didn’t need them!  I said a prayer for the missing girl from my small town, that she is found and returned safely.

God is great.  Life is good.


Friday Fun: Mix Tapes

One of my favorite local radio stations has just switched to all-80’s, all the time. #IHeartthe80s I do enjoy the music of the 70’s as well, but it is the music of the 80’s which holds a special place in my heart.  I didn’t get the 90’s.  I spent the 90’s still listening to my favorite 80’s music.   A couple of years ago, I tried listening to 90’s music.  I was in a bad mood for a week. #truestory

So earlier this week, this happened. I was annoyed because I was put on hold, but the hold music turned out to be terrific! I listened to a song I had never heard before, and I became inspired to make an Advancement playlist for my dear son upon his Advancement from 8th grade (remember when we used to call this a graduation?).  I whipped up a playlist for him the night before the occasion.  I had always made mix tapes for my friends back in the day #IHeartthe80s and I have enjoyed making birthday playlists for each of my children, to commemorate their birthday party theme and favorite tunes of the time.

 A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to make a Pirate Fairy cd for my daughter’s birthday, as well as a Discernment cd for a dear friend who was considering Episcopalian priesthood. Surprisingly, more than a few songs were the same.  You might not think that a 6 year old girl and a Episcopalian Aspirant would net the same musical selections- but I found that as both playlists called for girl power, believing in self, and inspiration from above-  they did.

Who I Am by Natasha Beddingfield  (Theme from The Pirate Fairy)

  I Have A Dream by ABBA.

It’s Amazing by Jem.

You get the idea. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the Discernment cd spoke to Me, as I found myself with a deep question to ponder.

 So I wasn’t too surprised that my son’s Advancement playlist contained songs previously heard on various other playlists: Superheroes, Amazing Race, Raise the Bar, and even Girl Power.


What surprised me, what how the mix and the message spoke to Me.


It’s Your Life by Francesca Battistelli

I Could Not Ask for More by Sara Evans.


Don’t you find that the Divine speaks to you through your ipod shuffle sometimes?

What music is speaking to you today?



  • #FridayFriends returns next week