The Power of Music

http://www.houzz.com/photos/8406969/Music-Notes-Heart-Wall-Decal-contemporary-wall-decals

Music is a very powerful force. I’ve been exposed to music my entire life and I consider that a very good thing. I grew up listening to my mom’s records that included artists from the 40’s through the 80’s (I can still remember her repeatedly playing a Pointer Sisters record when she first bought it because we really loved one song on it) and nothing compares to the hiss and pop of vinyl. We had a player piano in our house and even though it wasn’t entirely in tune, it was always fun turning it on and listening to the music as the piano “magically” played itself. My mother would often sing snippets of random show tunes and although the lyrics weren’t always correct, they got stuck in my head anyway and I now do the same thing. I also sing a new generation of random songs and whistle tunes without knowing where they came from and I consider it carrying on a family tradition.

Music can affect me in various ways and I rarely listen to sad songs because I don’t listen to music to be sad. I listen to music to lift my spirit and when I’m on my walks, to keep my feet moving. There are many songs that evoke specific memories when I hear them and those memories are ones I’ve often forgotten until I hear the song. Sometimes I hear a song and remember the book I was reading or writing when I first heard it or I recall a certain event where that song was playing.

The song “No Air” by Jordin Sparks was popular on the radio around the year my father passed away. I remember that I’d burst into tears every time I heard it because the lyrics described exactly how I felt, as if I couldn’t breathe anymore because my father/strongest supporter/closest friend had walked on. I still cry when I hear it actually and sometimes I can’t quite sing along because my throat becomes too tight, but my father’s spirit shows me daily that he’s still with me and I take comfort in that.

Yesterday before my second walk of the day (the one I take sans Jazzmin), I made a point of loading my phone/mp3 player with some of the new music I’ve discovered thanks to Pandora. Finding new music I like via Pandora has become a lot harder than it used to be because they just seem to play whatever they like and it’s rarely in line with my tastes. Regardless, I found a few new-to-me artists and downloaded their music to my phone in preparation for my late afternoon walk.

That first walk with new music is always fun and exciting because hearing new songs or even ones I like that I’ve only listened to in the car, really boosts my spirit and my pace. I got so positively pumped up by the songs that I was smiling happily and even lip syncing along when there were no cars passing by to witness it. A little bit of dance snuck into my walking too as I have great rhythm and love to move along with the beat. I do pass houses on my walks but most of them are set far back from the road and partially blocked by trees. Even so, there’s the chance that people saw me walking while smiling, doing my little dance and lip syncing and they probably thought I was a crazy person. As I love to say, “Being a little crazy has kept me sane all these years.”

How often do you see someone walking, running or riding his or her bike and actually looking happy about it? I rarely do as most of those I pass by in my car look downright miserable or extremely focused. Exercise isn’t always fun and I’ve done plenty of workouts when I’m grumbling at the instructor on my TV, but it’s different when I’m out walking with Jazz or without. I love being out in the fresh air and sunshine and yes, I smile about it and don’t care who sees. Enjoyable exercise is the easiest kind to do for me and when I have the right music pumping through my body, I do more than burn calories, I glow!

Below are videos for some of the songs I’m listening to these days so you can check them out if you’re curious.

Kittens on keyboards

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I had a very productive day of the usual chores and a bit of beading bliss before I picked up my daughters at 4. I hadn’t seen them since Thursday afternoon and while that doesn’t sound like a long time, for me it really is.

Once we were home, we enjoyed relaxing. The weather wasn’t as nice today as yesterday so going outside didn’t appeal. Jaycie played with toys, Jordan helped me with some Trivia Crack questions and we had homemade pizza for dinner.

This evening, Jordan got her new keyboard out and was playing it on the couch while I was working on beading in my dad’s rocking recliner and Jaycie was playing with Littlest Pet Shop. Angel was sitting on the back of the couch watching when Jordan decided to grab her and help her play Mary Had A Little Lamb. It was quite adorable and I managed to snap a couple pictures before Angel decided music wasn’t her thing.

My life might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world but I’m happy and very fortunate to have unique entertainment that includes kittens on keyboards. 🙂

Visible Lyrics

Have you ever listened to a song and thought “Wow! These lyrics paint a really cool story!” No? Well I have and do often.  I then eagerly look up the music video for the song but very rarely does it meet my expectations. Not surprising really. I’m the only one who sees what goes on in my imagination while I listen to the song. The video producer isn’t psychically connected to me and has no idea what I feel would be the perfect visual representation of the song.

I have contented myself dreaming up my own videos for songs I like through most of my life. Until now. I made a promise to myself and my father’s spirit that I would dedicate the month of May to my writing and his memory. It might not seem like making a video does either of those things, but trust me, my father gets it.

The song I chose is one I’ve been thinking about making a video for through the better part of a year. The moment I heard it I began visualizing a comedy of errors, filled with clumsiness, a story I live quite often. I’ve bounced ideas off my daughters and they’ve helped me see different ways of showing what we feel the song should be about.

I’m almost certain that this particular song has meanings less innocent than what I’ve been visualizing. But that’s okay. Just because a song was written with a particular intention in mind doesn’t mean it’s restricted to that. Music is meant to entertain and enlighten and we’re all allowed to interpret it with our own perceptions. I think that’s one of the many reasons I’ve been blessed with this crazy imagination of mine. It’s yet another way I can “show off” my storytelling abilities.

I hope to finish up the video tonight and prescreen it with a few close friends before making it public. I don’t honestly know how it will be received, or if anyone will even take the time to watch it. I do know that it’s been a time-consuming but fun learning experience creating it and it’s given me a new outlet for my endless imagination.

What Makes a Writer

writing spirals and character sketches

What makes a writer? What makes me a writer? Good question. My answer? There are all these amazing ideas that pop into my head at all hours of the day and night that demand to be written. It’s been happening since I was 12 years old. I’d just finished reading A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony and I felt inspired to create my own fantasy world. So I did just that. I created a magical world called Zindar which I later renamed to Aindar and for the next 15 years I wrote books that took place in that world.

When I say wrote books, I literally mean I hand wrote books. I started out writing cursive pencil in five subject college-ruled spiral notebooks. Eventually I graduated to pen and printing. Then I took a keyboarding class in 9th grade and my parents bought me a Hewlett-Packard word processor and I began typing away at last! The first book I ever typed out was Spark of Beginnings which is now Dawn of Allies. I’ve rewritten that book at least three times since its creation and I’m still not satisfied with it. My first and still my biggest fan is my best friend Crystal and she will get a signed, gold-embossed, personally engraved first editions of every book I ever publish.

As I continued to write in my Aindar books, my Hands of Magic series, my characters aged and had children and I realized I had a lot to keep track of. I needed to remember what they looked like, the magic they possessed, what age they would be in each book, where they came from, who they married, etc. I knew there was no way I could track that all in my head so I started using Excel to create spreadsheets. I would also trace Marvel comic books and transform those heroes into the characters in my book. Those were my favorite visual references to work on. I’ve also traced models in fashion catalogues and from pictures printed off the internet. It’s not exactly fancy or high-tech but it works for me. I can’t freehand draw recognizable things like humans and animals no matter how vivid they are in my mind.

I used to sketch my castle and building layouts on paper but then I discovered a 3D home design program that allowed me to build my locations in a wonderfully interactive way. I built everything from small homes to a sprawling castle to an entire city. I could literally walk through the 3D renderings of my locations and get a feel for my surroundings. I spent countless hours creating visual representations of my world and loved every minute of it!

Layout of one of my buildings

Layout of one of my buildings

3D view inside that building

3D view inside that building

I’m not just writing, I’m creating whole worlds with the words I type out. I’m sure every writer knows what it feels like to breathe life and emotions into their characters. I remember being asked as a teenager what my chosen career was and when I’d say “I’m a writer” I’d usually receive a rather pitying look. What a silly notion to believe that I could make a worthwhile living as a writer. I imagine all artists experience this whether they’re writers, painters, dancers, actors or musicians. Non-creative people looking at us as though we’re insane while they hope that we have some sort of “backup plan” that will actually make us money. It’s understandable I suppose, but not entirely fair. We’re all entitled to our dreams and we all have the right to pursue our bliss.

My oldest daughter Jordan has inherited my talent for writing and she’s far better at it at 10 years old than I was at 12. She’s currently reading A Spell for Chameleon. She’s a very talented artist, flute-player and all around smart, clever little girl. I will never discourage her from writing, drawing, making music, painting and whatever else creative she wants to do. My goal is to show her that yes, it’s possible to make it as an artist. While it takes hard work, it’s the best kind of work because it brings fulfillment to your soul, spirit and heart. Never stop creating!

P.S. – I added more to the Unbroken Flames excerpt on Corbin Creations. The ideas never stop coming…

Lunch Walks Down Main Street

Mystery blossoms on a fruit tree shaped into a bush

Mystery blossoms on a fruit tree shaped into a bush

Tons of tulips and other flowers

Tons of tulips and other flowers

Tulip Tree blossoms about to bloom

Tulip Tree blossoms about to bloom

I only work part-time at my office job so I get a half hour lunch break every day before most people even think about lunch. When the weather is nice like it finally is here, the highlight of my work day is going for a walk down Main Street on my break.

Spring has finally sprung so flowers are blooming, leaves are coming out and birds are flitting happily about. I love to see how things change from day-to-day. The tulips open up more, the hyacinth blooms get too top-heavy and droop over, forsythia bushes burst out in yellow flowers and fruit trees show off with lovely pink, red and white blossoms. I always stop to smell the flowers, take pictures and feel joy that I don’t suffer from seasonal allergies.

I’ve always got my ear buds in listening to my latest mix on my MP3 player and the tempo of the music influences my pace. This week’s mix consists of Usher, Olly Murs and Little Mix so I’ve been really strutting down the Main Street sidewalks. I’ve also thrown in a little sound clip of Iron Man saying “Doth Mother know you weareth her drapes?” from my favorite movie, The Avengers. Every time that clips comes on I can’t help but grin!

I encounter a few of the same people when I walk and usually smile or say “hi” as I pass. There’s an older gentlemen who walks his dog named Daisy and we always exchange pleasantries. Daisy is an adorable little Shepherd mix and she came from Happy Tails which is the same shelter I adopted Jazz from. She’s also still learning the right way to walk just like Jazz. Daisy is always friendly and happy to see me and I can tell she has a great heart.

I do occasionally get honked at by passing cars and motorcycles and I find that amusing. It’s also somewhat flattering because it means that even as a single mother of two, I’ve still got what it takes to grab a little bit of attention now and then. Honk away but don’t expect me to stop because I have the sun to warm me, the clouds to shade me, the wind to cool me, a beat to walk to, flowers to sniff and admire and a mission to accomplish. Just another girl on a walk down Main Street…

Mistress of Mowing

Mistress of Mowing's Front Lawn

Mistress of Mowing’s Front Lawn

I’d never driven a riding lawn mower until I mowed the acreage of my new home in the summer of 2011. It took me 3.5 hours that first time and when I finished I’d made such odd-looking circular patterns the lawn resembled a golf course. I was tempted to stick some flags into the center of the various circles but I resisted. Regardless, I was proud of myself and enjoyed the experience. Almost two years later, I still like mowing my lawn.

Yes, I said I like mowing my lawn. Even on day’s like today when the battery was giving me trouble and the shed doors closed just after I started the mower which left me coughing in exhaust fumes. I then had a stern talking to the doors (hooked them open) plugged my battery into the charger and set about my morning, all the while wreaking of tractor exhaust. I didn’t see any point in showering when I still had to mow once the battery was juiced up. All that is not what I enjoy about mowing though.

When I finally did start mowing, it felt wonderful being out in the sunshine under the bright blue sky. The air was warm, there was an occasional breeze and the grass was finally dry enough that it didn’t bog down my mower. It’s still early in the season so my grass was only really deep in a few areas but I did the whole yard to give it a uniform start. I listen to music while I mow and quite often dance along to it. My neighbors undoubtedly think I’m insane for all sorts of reasons so I don’t see any harm in doing what makes me happy during chores. I occasionally pause in the shade to change my music or answer a text but otherwise I continue mowing.

There was one lone white butterfly flitting around the front yard as I finished that last 1/3 of my property. I adore butterflies and always take them as a positive sign of hope and renewal. There were few other bugs out thankfully and I didn’t have any other major issues mowing today.

When I get off the mower my whole body is still vibrating from the ride but eventually that subsides and I feel human again. I came inside and happily washed the mower stink off and dressed in comfortable summer clothing. I enjoy mowing but it isn’t my entire life and I don’t obsess over every little spot or insist on weed whacking every time. Mowing my yard is something that has to be done and I take as much pleasure in it as I can. I am not a master of mowing because I’m always learning but I am a Mistress of Mowing because I am skilled at being the keeper of my land.