Tag Archives: Music

Happy Anniversary – Friday Fictioneers

Okay, I’m trying my hand at Friday Fictioneers.  This is a first for me, and I’m a little nervous.  And I think my story is sort of lame.  But it was really fun doing it and a great brain exercise.  So, what the hell – jump in with both feet, right?


Photo courtesy of David Stewart

Photo courtesy of David Stewart

A line of hungry tourists snaked out of Wilson’s door.

“I know it’s our anniversary, but do we have to get ice cream?” asked Dave.

“Yes! It’s tradition! We can listen to the band while we wait.” Sue smiled. “Aw! They’re playing “I Love You Truly”! My grandpa always sang that with my grandma.”

“Like them?” Dave pointed to an elderly couple harmonizing by the pavilion.

“Yes, exactly like….” Sue stared, her mouth dropping.

The older couple looked back at them, smiling. The woman blew a kiss as they faded with the music.

“You have a weird family,” said Dave.

Bell Choir Reject

I don’t know if I told you guys this, but I joined the bell choir at church.  If you are unfamiliar with the term “bell choir”, it’s a choir made up of people ringing hand bells to play a musical score.  Each person has 2-4 bells which they ring when their notes come up in the piece.

Dropping these in the middle of a piece is frowned upon.  Do not ask me how I know this.

Dropping these in the middle of a piece is frowned upon. Do not ask me how I know this.

I can hear you now.  “Sue?  The bell choir?  You do know you can’t use colorful metaphors when you play the wrong notes, right?  What were you thinking?”  It was a weak moment. I was tired and emotional (long story but the majority can be blamed on hormones) when the ring leader approached me (“ring leader”…get it? Hahahahaaaaa! I kill me.) one morning after church. She had an opening in the choir and remembered that I had played a few years ago as a mentor in the confirmation class and thought I would be a good fit.

A lot of factors played into my “yes” answer, besides hormones.  First of all, this was the second time she asked me – the first time being about a year ago and at that time I felt too committed (or maybe just needed TO BE committed.  You know, to the looney bin) to other things so I said no.  Plus I figured this would give her a chance to come to her senses and find someone who might actually know what they were doing.  Apparently, “coming to her senses” wore off after a year.  Or maybe she was desperate.  People will do a lot of unreasonable things when they are desperate.  Like asking nonmusical people to play in the bell choir.  Or accepting said bell choir offer.


Second, I kinda felt it was something God wanted me to do.  This has been a rough year for a lot of reasons (sadly, not all to be blamed on hormones), and my mind likes to play the Circle Game.  This is not a fun game.  It’s exhausting and frustrating and sometimes it makes me cry.  And yet, every time my mind suggests it, I’m all “Sure!  That sounds like fun!  What issue are we going to obsess about nonstop today?  My Life Is Going Nowhere?  Great!  We haven’t done that one since yesterday!”  Playing in the bell choir gave me something to concentrate on that I actually had control over.  Plus God was shoving me (rather firmly) from behind.

And finally – I love being the center of attention.  Shocking, I know.  I have always wished I had a choir appropriate voice. I have spent many a lost youthful hour belting out John Denver and Tony DeFranco songs in my trusty tape recorder, only to play them back in abject horror.

Still, I practice in the car every once in a while, to see if anything has improved. Sadly, it has not.  Dave still cranks up the radio to drown me out and my kids yell, “Oh my God, Mom. Stop.  STOP!  STAAAAHP.”


Playing in the bell choir allows me to live the dream.  I get to say things now like, “I’m sorry, I can’t attend.  I have choir practice.”  “Oh sure, I’ll come over, right after choir practice.”  “I have to be careful with my voice hands.  I’m in the choir, you know.” So now I get to be part of a choir, practice is only once a week and I get to create pretty music with a bunch of really nice (and patient) folks.  Everyone’s a winner.

Except, of course, for anyone listening, because Hello! – I can’t read music. When I played with the confirmation group, she had all of our notes color coded so it wasn’t very difficult for us to follow. When I saw a pink or green highlighted note, I rang my bell. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeesy.

There is no color coding in the adult bell choir.  No conductor counting the measures out loud and pointing briskly at me when it’s my turn. I have to learn to read music, people.  REAL MUSIC.  And it’s seriously cutting into my obsessing time.  My own kids don’t recognize me.  “Who’s that lady over there humming at the kitchen table?”  “I dunno.  Mom?” “It’s not mom, you dork.  If it was mom, our ears would be bleeding.”  “I’m not a dork.  You’re a dork.” “No, you’re a dork.”  “No, YOU’RE a dork!”  “DORK!” “DOUBLE DORK!!”

So far, I have had about 5 practices and played in 4 services.  And I screwed up in every single one, without a single colorful metaphor escaping my lips.  Now that’s progress, people.  The rest of you will just have to worry about the world going to hell in a handbasket without me.  I’ll be over here, highlighting my notes.

Until next time,


PS.  Cake was not involved in any of the bell choir practices or services.  I have a note in to management.





I happen to love bacon.  Probably not as much as cake, but it’s up there on my list of delicious foods.  However, this post isn’t really about bacon.  I just used it to get your attention, because who doesn’t love bacon?  And I am pretty sure you were all hoping I had a new weight loss solution that involved unlimited bacon.  Sorry about that (not really).

What this post is really about is revamping your workout (if you have one).  This has been a rather long winter, and if you are like me, you are at the point of sticking bamboo shoots under your fingernails than face another excruciating day in the gym.  Here, then, are my top 5 ways to get your exercise head out of its rut.

  • MUSIC – Did you see me change font colors there?  I’m, like, a professional.  Okay – this one is pretty easy.  Pick new music for your exercise playlist.  Be creative and look at music you might not have considered.  Ask your friends for ideas or look at music you already have that you don’t listen to normally.  See below for some of my favorites.  No picking on me either.  
  • GET OUTSIDE – Again, pretty easy.  So what if it’s snowing and the wind is howling and throwing ice pellets in your face.  You’re an animal!  A machine!  A warrior!  Cold increases your metabolism!  Tornadoes make you run faster!  Snow is just an excuse to run in snowshoes!  Only wussies stay inside!  Are you a wussy?  Exactly!
  • TRY SOMETHING NEW – Do you run every day?  Or spin?  Or do you lift the same routine?  Even if you are mixing it up, you may still be bored.  Time to hit YouTube and check out the bazillion workout videos posted there.  Some are cheesy, some are awesome.  See below for some awesome.  Don’t freak out if you run across something you are not sure you can do – this happens to me all the time.  The point is to TRY, then MODIFY.  
  • PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS – Sign up for an event.  Better yet, sign up for an event that requires a little fundraising and helps out a charity, plus you get to meet some pretty cool people.  Step out of the box and look at something you have never done.  Nothing motivates like a looming physical challenge.  See?  Now you just have anxiety and panic, but no more boredom!  Whee!
  • BUY NEW WORKOUT CLOTHES – I know this is shallow, but it works for me.  I love wearing new fun colors, and even if I still hate the workout, it at least gets me dressed.  Even a new exercise bra is motivating to me (yes, I know I’m a weirdo.  No need to point it out).  Besides, that gym shirt you have worn for the last two years probably has some major smell issues going on, no matter how much you wash it.  Don’t be that guy.

As promised, here are my top 10 Workout Songs!

1.  Bad Reputation – Joan Jett

2.  Pump It – The Black Eyed Peas

3.  What I Like About You – The Romantics

4.  Numb – Linkin Park

5.  Big House – Audio Adrenaline

6.  A Little Less Conversation – Elvis

7.  One Thing Leads To Another – The Fixx

8.  Ballroom Blitz – Blue Oyster Cult

9.  I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys

10.  Motivation – Sum 41

And some awesome folks who have some great workout videos, like Zuzana Light and Blogilates:

And for the completely impossible – this guy:

Please tell me your favorite workout songs or videos!  I am always looking for new music and ideas!

Stay classy San Diego,



Wild and Crazy Inspiration

“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending…” – Kermit the Frog, Rainbow Connection


What inspires you?  What drives you?  What motivates you?  What keeps you going when you want to quit?


Different things have inspired me at different times in my life.  When I was a teenager, I learned to play the banjo because of Kermit the Frog and Steve Martin.  True story!


My friends and I were huge Steve Martin fans, and listened to his comedy albums all the time.  Regardless of what you may think of his sense of humor, you have to give the man props for being a phenomenal musician.  I can remember playing the part of his album where he plays “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” over and over – I loved it made my heart pound a little faster and put a smile on my face.  Like Steve said: “The banjo is such a happy instrument – you can’t play a sad song on a banjo”.

And, of course, Kermit plays the banjo in the Muppet Movie.  It was like a sign – learn to play the banjo, then go to Hollywood to become famous.  Three of us did learn to play the banjo.  We found an instructor (Barb!) at Mecca Music on the corner of Baird and Main in Green Bay (anyone remember that old music store?) and we would schedule our lessons all in a row so we could all go together – probably much to Barb’s dismay, although she seemed to genuinely like us.  While one of us was in the lesson, the others would be across the street getting malts – real chocolate malts, mind you.  Superbly delicious chocolate malts, the likes of which I have never had since.  I would love to tell you the name of the malt shop but time has worn it from my memory.  It might have been Dehns?


While we didn’t become famous (although we may be legends in our own minds), I don’t think any of us regret buying our banjos and the time and money spent in lessons and practice.  Or the malts, for that matter (if I shut my eyes and concentrate, I can still remember how they tasted.  THEY WERE SO GOOD!!)  We played our banjos for school projects, in talent shows (I think), around the camp fire, and later,  to entertain our children.  We used them to make up limerick songs at parties and to get out of doing dishes (I have to practice, Mom!).  One of us, I know, still owns hers.  I’m pretty sure she plays it in her garage bar now and then!


I stupidly sold mine in a rummage sale.   A RUMMAGE SALE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD  – WHAT WAS I THINKING?  It’s not so much that I want to buy another one.  I just want my old one back.  So many memories!


This post has totally taken on a life of it’s own.  My main point, though, is this:


Don’t sell your banjo!  Maybe you don’t play it anymore or maybe you think you’ve outgrown it or maybe your goals are polar opposite of what they were when you bought it.  However, that banjo is a reminder of the driving force that made you make a change in your life.  It’s like framing the first dollar a business earns – a symbol of the spirit and inspiration that brought you to where you are. And while maybe the results weren’t exactly as you planned, they certainly weren’t a waste of time.  Maybe you just need to write another ending.




PS – Steve Martin is STILL a phenomenal musician and STILL a very funny guy.  You should check out his latest CD’s – The Crow and Rare Bird Alert.


PPS – While Jim Henson may have gone home, his Muppet legacy lives on, and continues to bring joy to many.  What is your legacy?  What are you leaving behind to give others hope and joy?  Food for thought!




Forgot To Mention…

Hammered dulcimer

Hammered dulcimer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


On my last post, “Weekend Update”, I forgot to mention Ted Yoder.  Ted plays the hammered dulcimer, and he played during our church services on Sunday.  I wanted to mention him, because I thought he was pretty awesome.  So awesome that I bought all 4 of his CD’s.  I listened to three so far, and haven’t been sorry.  I am saving the Christmas one for the day after Thanksgiving.  I just can’t bring myself to put up decorations or listen to Christmas music until then, even though I know the stores are already bombarding us with it.


I just finished up a book study on Francis Chan’s “Forgotten God“, and our group had a discussion a couple of weeks ago about the time King David danced in his priestly underwear in front of the Ark, and his wife was embarrassed and basically told him he was nuts.  We talked about what would have to happen for one of us to ‘dance before the Lord’ in such a manner – I mean, it’s kind of ‘out there’ for most midwesterners to dance in church.  Actually, to dance at all, even at a wedding, unless they have imbibed in several ounces of liquid courage.


Kermit the Frog

I used to have the Muppet Movie soundtrack but it was on cassette from my high school years and who knows where it is. I do, however, own “Muppets: The Green Album” thanks to my home girl, the divine Miss J.


Well, listening to Ted play on Sunday put me in a ‘dance before the Lord’ frame of mind.  Others too – you could see it on their faces – everyone was animated and on the edges of their seats.  And maybe it’s because he was in person – music has more of an effect on me when I hear it live than on a CD or the radio, and maybe you won’t feel the Holy Spirit move in you when you listen to it.  But I invite you to visit his website and check it out.  He’s very down to earth, and plays other music besides Christian.  One of his CD’s has his “Yoder-ized” version of “Rainbow Connection” that I love (from the Muppet Movie – yes, I am a Muppet fan.  I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you).


I’m always open to new musical experiences so would love to try your recommendations too if you are willing to share – what kinds of music or songs or specific artists do you listen to that you connect with on a spiritual level?



PS – tomorrow, I am back at the workout posts – I have a few things to share!


Step By Step


Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So if I stand let me stand on the promise

that You will pull me through.

And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace

that first brought me to You.  – Rich Mullins

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Rich Mullins, a contemporary Christian singer/songwriter who died 15 years ago in a tragic car accident.  I love his music, and often listen to it when I need a spiritual shot in the arm.  Selfishly, I mourn the loss of music he could have written had he lived to be an old man.

I heard my first Rich Mullins song about 20 years ago.  It was his song, Awesome God, and I remember being so excited because I didn’t know Christian music like that existed.  Perhaps I am easily impressed (a definite possibility) but his music had a huge impact on my faith journey.  I bought one of his albums, Songs, which is still in my top ten.  My favorite track is the one I quoted above, If I Stand.  I can be in a black mood, and eager for some ‘angry girl music’ and this song will pop on instead, and my world suddenly lightens.  (On a side note – do people still call songs on a CD “tracks” or is that a left over from my 8-track days?)

I have a lot of songs on my Ipod like that – songs that when I hear them, my mood changes.  Or that I listen to purposefully to support how I am feeling at the moment.  When I feel rebellious, I like to listen to Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation.  When I feel mellow it’s Dream by Priscilla Ahn.  When I am joyful, it’s Big House by Audio Adrenaline.  You get the picture.

The problem comes when I listen to music on purpose to support a negative, damaging mood.  It’s almost like having a mob mentality at the controls of my Ipod.  Bad day at work?  Let’s add some Limp Bizket and shake vigorously.  Feeling sorry for myself?  Just add Adele and tissue.  It serves no purpose other than to indulge myself to feed negative feelings.  And over all, what good does it do me or the people around me?

God tells us there is the power of life or death in the tongue.  Our words can build up or tear down, and I think this applies to what and who we listen to as well.  While I do try to practice “thinking before speaking” with the idea to speak words that build others up, I can’t say I follow it when listening to music.  I generally pick music that fits my mood.  If life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to that, I think that from now on I will try to choose a positive, uplifting music when dealing with the lemons life hands out.

I do have a list of my current favorite albums and singles – songs that get my feet tapping and my face smiling.  And sometimes belting out the lyrics in the car, much to the amusement (or horror) of the cars around me (thank you REO Speedwagon).  I have them listed below.  You will notice that the majority of them are secular, which is fine I guess.  But I can’t help but think that I am missing some good new Christian musicians too.  I just haven’t found a favorite to top Rich Mullins.

SUE’S TOP 10 ARTISTS/BANDS (the ones I would pay to see in concert):

1. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

2. Avett Brothers

3. The Lumineers

4. Rich Mullins

5. Earl and Scruggs

6. Toby Keith

7. Queen

8. Boston

9. Mumford and Sons

10. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

SUE’S TOP 10 SINGLES (songs I NEVER switch past on my Ipod):

1.  Bad Reputation by Joan Jett

2.  What I Like About You by The Romantics

3.  Big House by Audio Adrenaline

4.  If I Stand by Rich Mullins

5.  Dream by Priscilla Ahn

6.  Annie’s Song by John Denver

7.  Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Earl and Scruggs (and Steve Martin!)

8.  Shipping Up To Boston by the Drop Kick Murphy’s

9.  Time For Me to Fly by REO Speedwagon

10.  A Little Less Conversation by Elvis Presley (Remix)

Who are some of your favorite artists?  What are some of your favorite singles?  If you listen to contemporary Christian music, who do you like?

I would love your input – simply hit the “Leave a Reply” link below and a reply box should pop up.   Thanks!!