2013 – A Year for Sharing and Gratitude

Recess Music has spent the year of 2013 emphasizing SHARING AND GRATITUDE. One is an action the other is a thought process. To promote SHARING, every blog post this year has made suggestions about how we can Get Organized in our own lives, to share with others in our communities and to do meaningful planning for our families and the future. I hope you have taken part in the “Get Organized” challenges for 2013.

Recess Music Best Foot ForwardGetting organized, long range planning, and taking personal stock of where we are in the stages of life has been a very valuable experience for my husband and myself. We are a few years away from retirement but we have been anxious to downsize our lives, our home size and our storage shed. Therefore, the 2013 Challenge to SHARE with others has been helpful and gratifying. We also wanted to use this time to share the very meaningful belongings we have with our children. Things like grandma’s candlesticks, pieces of antique jewelry, art work and the “can’t put a price on this” items, gathered along the many starts and stops of our family life. It has caused a walk down memory lane that we have found, at times, bitter sweet but meaningful and helpful.

We have made headway on downsizing our life and lifestyle. ABSOLUTELY THE HARDEST TASK OF THE YEAR! WOW THIS IS DIFFICULT! Where are we in our life together? Should we get rid of that item or is it still meaningful to BOTH of us? What size of house do we really NEED? A one level home or a two story? If he doesn’t like an item do I get to keep it anyway? How do we start a college fund for our grandchildren? We have wrestled with these questions and at least 100 more this year. The storage unit is not empty yet so we will carry this process on into…2014…and that’s ok!

Also, we have spent countless hours talking, debating, and meeting with our lawyer to accomplish the task of updating our wills. It is so comforting to have this task legally signed, sealed, delivered to the safe deposit box! We have also spent time talking to our children about our wishes for the future and why we have made the decisions we have for ourselves and for them.

Ultimately, 2013 has been about being grateful for all the things we have and the people we have in our lives, sharing the things that we no longer need and putting them into the hands of people who can benefit from them.

I hope this time of sharing and self evaluation has been good for you and your family! If you signed onto the organizational tasks set forth for this year, I hope you will carry on the practice of goal setting for 2014. There are always important things to do, goals to set and new ideas to explore. Doing this as one person is great…doing this as a couple or as a family can have a PROFOUND IMPACT on your children and teach them much about what is really valuable in life.

I hope your family has found this meaningful and that in some small way our 2013 SHARE! and Gratitude Attitude albums have been helpful you.

BEST WISHES FOR JOY AND GOOD HEALTH FOR THE NEW YEAR!

 

October is National Anti-Bullying Month

Big BullyWE AT RECESS MUSIC produce music that we believe will entertain, encourage and educate children, families and educators.  Our Best Foot Forward Music Series was designed to create a conversation about social issues that are a regular part of a child’s world today.  We embrace the ideals of global peace, social-justice, harmony and understanding.  Whether in the home or the classroom, in the car, or at Grandma’s house, we believe that music can help and heal.

NATIONAL ANTI-BULLYING MONTH may bring painful subjects into our conversations with our kids of all ages…but these conversations are vital to the safety and well being of our children.  Though this BLOG may be a bit heavy, our kids may be seeing bullies and their bullying tactics in school, on the playground, or on the sports field.  START THE CONVERSATION.

I think of a child’s brain as a very highly advanced, highly technical movie camera and sound recorder that fits perfectly inside of a child’s little head.  From the first moment of birth the camera is automatically engaged and from then on, as long as the brain is in working order, the camera is recording each experience in Technicolor with high quality sound.  The child records her parent’s first smiles, the sound of their voices, the emotion on their faces … all is on the film to be replayed on demand.  EVERYTHING is recorded, nothing is left out!

NOT EVEN THE NEGATIVE THINGS!

And when a child is bullied, or verbally abused, that is on the memory film too.  The snarls on the faces of the perpetrators, the pain of being struck, the verbal impact of the hurled words … to be played back, revisited, experienced once again, REMEMBERED, at any moment.  The film, in the movie camera and the sound recorder, can never be wiped clean, it is there to stay.

THUS IS THE IMPACT OF BEING BULLIED.  Whether a first grader, or a seventh grader, or an adult: bad experiences stay with us to be called up at a moment’s notice.

When the Best Foot Forward album entitled Big Bully was released, I heard from a lot of adults, and I was surprised that most of them commented on the album by recounting … remembering … like it had just happened … a time when they were bullied!  From years earlier the movie camera could replay, with perfect clarity, the experience of being bullied, the pain and humiliation was recorded too. These were adults, remembering being bullied from decades earlier.

The words we use, the way we say them, our faces, our voices are remembered, recorded, by all kinds of people every day.

What do you remember?  What do others remember about you?

BE KIND! 

WE ALL DESERVE TO HAVE HAPPY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES!

ESPECIALLY OUR CHILDREN!

STOP BULLYING NOW!  

The Dog House

Recess Music - Gratitude AttitudeCurrently, my husband is living in the “dog house”. We are approaching a momentous occasion in our marriage…one of those BIG number anniversaries…#40.  We have excitedly talked about this event over the year, discussed different destinations for a big trip, pondered “how in the world did we get here”, and appraised, examined, and dissected our life together.  With all of this conversation you can imagine my surprise when my husband announced that he had booked his annual buddy camping trip, in August, from the 22nd – the 26th.  “What!”  I said, “That’s!  Our!  Anniversary!  Weekend!”   “OOPS”, he said, “I forgot all about that.” Big Mistake!  You would think he would know not to say that after forty years.

Thus the dog house.
Of course this is only a temporary situation.  It is because of the 40 years together that this is small compared to the many things our relationship has weathered over the decades.  In fact, I feel an enormous amount of GRATITUDE for the life we have shared.  We have shared the financial ups and downs; from the early marriage struggles, the pinnacles of success, the expense of higher education for four kids to the concerns about having enough for retirement.  We have endured the relationship black holes, including the year and a half when all we could both agree on was that we didn’t like each other!   We have experienced the classic, monogamous marriage boredom, as well as the times of, “I couldn’t possibly love this person more”.  We have fought over parenting styles, financial goals, and allowing each person in this relationship to live to the fullness of his/her potential.

BUT HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART…We have come to understand that we are complete opposites in how we approach life.  He is unemotional/she is touchy feely.  He is a penny pincher/she isn’t.  She is the disciplinarian of the kids/he calls them his princesses.  He is easy going and accepting/she is always trying to make the world a better place.  She is stubborn/he is persistent.

CENTRAL TO IT ALL is that, at our core, we have the same ethics and morals, we find true value in the same things, we believe we belong together…we have a piece of paper that says so…we are always working on being better!  And we have the wisdom of all these many years together to know that:  this is life, this is the essence of human relationship, we do not and would not want to live life benignly, and this is being real.

WE ARE GRATEFUL, GRATEFUL, GRATEFUL!  for our forty years together, that we have succeeded, or perhaps just endured, where others have failed.  As we age, we are feeling more GRACIOUS toward the other and the physical challenges that are changing both of us.  We are THANKFUL that when we wake up in the morning the other one is still there.   THANKFULLY, whenever we celebrate this miracle of forty years together, it will be with confidence that we can probably make it through another four decades and still be together!

MOST OF ALL, WE ARE GRATEFUL, THAT ON THE MAJORITY OF DAYS, WE ACTUALLY LIKE EACH OTHER

Sharing Is Inspirational

After having two beautiful biological daughters, my husband and I decided to expand our family through adoption.  We chose to pursue a foreign adoption, South Korea being our country of choice.  We traveled to Seoul to meet our new daughters, biological sisters, ages 1 ½ and 2 ½.  These adorable little girls had been found abandoned in the streets of a farming community, many miles south of Seoul.  They were in poor physical condition with intestinal parasites, scabies, skin boils, and decayed teeth.  The oldest, at 2 ½, weighed 17 pounds, her younger sister weighed 14 pounds.  They were so ill that instead of staying in an orphanage, they were transferred into foster care to a family in Seoul. That small apartment, in a high rise in the city, is the place we first met our tiny daughters.

According to agency regulations, our daughters would be released to our custody for three days before departing the country.  Thus, planning for our trip, we began to assemble every healthy thing we could possible carry in our luggage.  Our family doctor in the U.S. provided us with any medicine he thought we might possibly need.  Antibiotics, ointment for scabies, lotion for treating their skin, vitamin drops, medicated soaps and shampoos, anything that could help them in the few days we were required to stay in Seoul.  If they were found to be ill during their final checkup by the agency physician on the last day before our journey home, we would not be allowed to leave Korea.   We were vigilant!

What spaces in our luggage that were not filled with medicine were filled with healthy things to eat (raisins, applesauce, canned juice, milk powder, crackers and cookies)  or diapers, clothes and a special outfit they could wear for their first meeting with the big sisters right off the plane.

Once in Seoul, and with great trepidation, we left the agency with our daughters, to begin the three day required stay in Seoul, at a downtown hotel, before we would be provided with their exit visas.  We had no idea what to expect from these children … Would they be frightened of us?  Would they cry all night?  Could they feed themselves?  Regardless of what our experience might be like, it was time to give them their first medicated bath and then proceed for our first meal together in our hotel dining room. YIKES!

We discovered at dinner that our oldest daughter, Hillary, could feed herself, but she would stop to search for even a grain of rice if it slipped off her spoon.  Our youngest daughter, Samantha, could not feed herself, her fingers were bent and weak from malnutrition, she could not sit up alone or crawl.  I fed her with a spoon at dinner, but we later discovered that she had saved food by stuffing it into the sides of her mouth.  At 1 ½ she had developed survival techniques, methods for saving food in case there might not be another meal for the rest of the day.  Clearly these little children had been starving!

But our greatest surprises were yet to come…

Following our early meal we left the hotel for a walk with our daughters using the umbrella strollers we had hauled half way around the world.  I pulled out two tiny boxes of raisins, opening the first one to give to a child – both of them watching me closely – I handed the first one to Hillary, the oldest.  She peered inside the box, took one raisin to put into her mouth and amazingly handed the entire box to her little sister!  We were astounded!

To this day, it is the most impactful gift of sharing I have ever personally witnessed!  This little hungry child, not knowing if or from where her next meal would come, shared everything she had, and what she needed most, her food, with another person in need.  And there was more…

We returned to our hotel room to get ready for bed.  We had two over sized twin beds for four of us.  Have they slept in a western style bed, or any bed, before?  Will they be afraid of the dark?

We put them down, side by side into the bed, we covered them, we talked and patted and soothed, we gave them their new stuffed toys brought from America.  We climbed into the other small bed, less than three feet away and watched.  They lay together and stared at us with bewilder looks on their faces, I’m sure they were wondering about what will happen next.  We turned off the light and hoped they would settle.  Samantha started to whimper.  Before we could even react we watched Hillary get out from under the covers, she crawled to the end of the bed by her sister’s feet and began to rub and sooth her, speaking to her in Korean.  Words we couldn’t understand.

And then gently, having soothed Samantha, she curled up at her sister’s feet and prepared to go to sleep.

We lay in our twin sized bed, humbled and amazed, wondering how a child so young could have the capacity to give so very much regardless of her own needs.  In our few short hours together our two little daughters had taught us what it really means to Share!

The 2013 Share Challenge – The Next Chapter

Share!HOW is the space cleaning and life renewing task going?  By being better organized you will reduce stress, save money and contribute to the needs of others.  There is nothing that brings more calm to my life than being free of clutter.  It saves time because I can quickly find what I need to complete any task.   Keep going…you will be glad you did.

When you clear out the clutter, you make room for more important things!

Now let’s begin the next chapter of the 2013 SHARE! Challenge

Think about some lovely quiet evenings…You and your significant other…a nice glass of wine…the kids tucked into bed or watching a movie…long talks about ideas and dreams and long trips to foreign places when you retire…your hopes for your children and exploring their talents and weak spots…your hopes for their education and for their places in the big world!
All important, all need to be done, all about looking into the future and planning for the best that can be for your family!
Then, SHARE!  your plans and ideas with your children.  Not in one big event, but over weeks and months and years.  “Here is what we hope for our future and yours.”   SHARE! your tragedies and triumphs and your stories with your kids!   “This is how I decided what to do with my life.”  “Mom and I will go to Paris when we are 65!”  “This is the story of how lost I was when my boyfriend dumped me for my roommate.”  By sharing your history you help them understand how life works.  Why we can’t have everything we want.  Why we have to choose if we want to reach our goals, if you want to go to college, if Dad and I want to retire someday.

The other side of planning is preparing for the “what if’s” of life.

Before age 30 I was widowed with a young child, a few months later, when I met my future husband for the first time, he was also young and widowed.   We were thankful to have found each other and married the following year.  Because of our unusual experiences for our age, we know to take nothing for granted and to BE PREPARED.  Long range planning and preparedness is a very positive way to care for your family.  TO PREPARE IS TO SHARE!

It is time to write a will.

And it isn’t about the money.   Instead, it is telling your kids and relatives, that you have made plans that will keep your family SAFE if you are no longer alive.  Tell your children where they will live and who will take care of them.  Share what your hopes and dreams are for them if you are not alive, and that you have planned to help them reach those goals even if you are not there with them.   This is also about teaching your children about the one part of life that we will ALL face, and that is death.  It is preparing them for the “what ifs”.  It is telling your children that you have prepared for all the possibilities.  The good and the bad!

Don’t be afraid of the word death.  Do you have trouble even saying it? Or thinking about it?  Let’s begin by confronting that fear.  Here is one easy way to begin…
In nearly every community you will find cemeteries.  They often are meticulously maintained, quite beautiful, decorated for special holidays, and contain some of the most beautiful statuary you can find in town.  Visit them with your children…Not gruesome at all!  In fact interesting!  Military heroes may be buried there, as well as founders and leaders of your community, and you will find interesting and historical information written on tombstones.  Cemeteries are conversations starters for your family no matter what age your kids might be.  If family members are buried there, that presents an opportunity to start sharing family stories with your children.  How you remember grandma and where she came from, her home you used to visit, how a member of your family fought in WWII, or helped to build the library in town.  It is a way to begin thinking and talking about death and life!  My kids call it, “visiting the dead relatives”.  This is just one way to begin the dialog about death and dying with your children in a non-threatening way, in a beautiful place.  It opens the door to presenting new thoughts and words.   It is just one way to help your children see the full circle of life.

After all, your goal as parents is to raise responsible adults, right?

Begin your long range family planning today.  Start thinking, start talking about the future.   Ask your parents, siblings, and friends about the plans they have made for their families and their future.  Start the conversation, the struggling, the debate about these hefty decisions.   Begin to plan!  Find a lawyer and prepare a will.

You have eight months remaining in 2013 to write your will…start NOW…this will be the best gift you will ever give your family… WHAT A GREAT WAY TO BEGIN 2014!

The 2013 Share Challenge

How would you like to end the year 2013 with a feeling of accomplishment, renewal, goals met, and gratitude?  The 2013 SHARE! CHALLENGE can help you attain those goals.  Throughout the year, I invite you to follow the Recess Music blog, as I present possibilities and goals for doing just that.  February 14th is a great day to begin!

The goal is to bring order to your life both in the present, as well as in the future, with some long range planning.   Some goals will take manual labor other goals will need brain power and decision making.

We begin, in February, with the process of cleaning every closet, room, garage, basement and box that is contained within your home in the next few months of 2013.  There is real value in the things you might find there.  If you are not using it…someone else can.  If it is a “keepsake” or family heirloom, well then, let’s find a place for it!  Art work created by your children?  Preserve it or frame it.   How about making scrapbooks for each of your children?  Bring together pictures of Mom and Dad from grade school, old report cards, letters sent home from camp, pictures of grandparents, even long favored family recipes. Your kids will love them. The perfect gift to put under the tree for in December, with months for planning and creating!

Let’s begin today, make a plan, for each week/month, for which spaces to tackle, and get the family involved.  How about the neighborhood? A block garage sale, with a goal for donating to an agreed upon charity in your community, is a great idea.  Set the date now for your block sale, it will get everyone motivated!

This is the perfect way to share.  The things you find in your closet can be the warm coats and mittens for another family, or an opportunity to donate to the recycle center or the Goodwill, instead of the landfill.  And you can be kind to Mother Earth by recycling, reusing, repairing, donating, and sharing.

So, are you in?  Up for the challenge?  You know you need to do this!  No time like the present!  What a great feeling you will have on December 31, 2013!

In the coming months I will invite you to organize other areas of your life.  This is where the brain power will be needed. Some of the challenges may be more difficult, some will be more fun, but in the end, I hope the process will be beneficial.
So, if you will excuse me, I’m starting with all the medicine cabinets and linen closets this week.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Nancy

A Year of Sharing and Gratitude!

Recess Music Best Foot ForwardWould you like to turn over a new leaf in this New Year?  Would you like to feel more and more organized as we move through 2013?  You can have a positive impact in the lives others just by opening a few doors and more!  Throughout this year, with postings to my blog, I will guide you step by step into a process of sharing and gratitude that will impact your life in a positive way and the attitudes of your children, your family, and your community.

Musically, Recess Music will emphasize Sharing and Gratitude through its BEST FOOT FORWARD MUSIC SERIES.  SHARE!, our first release in 2013, is a musical collection that can help kids and families understand the concept of sharing, in both big ways and small, with the help of the some of the best musicians in North America!  Let’s help our children understand the things they can do to share with others in simple practical ways, while getting the whole family involved.

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE, our second musical collection, slated for a fall release, will look at the opposite of sharing…that is… how to be grateful for what we have.  I can be thankful for the food on my plate, grateful for my family, appreciative for the friends in my life… important life concepts for all, regardless of our age.

I think of the goal of Recess Music for 2013 as a way to provide musical bookends for the year by providing a musical opportunity to examine these two, very important, life lessons.

Are you ready to put your Best Foot Forward?

Peace,
Nancy

Get ready…look-out…uh-oh…SPLAT! THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE!

Recess MusicThis year let’s try(again) to put the calm back into the next eight weeks.  First up is Thanksgiving and being together around the table and acting like we are all thankful.  Around our table we ask each person to tell the others gathered for what they are most grateful.  The youngest ones mention baseball gloves and bikes.  The older talk about some new human experience they have encountered and conquered, or an illness or health scare they overcame.  From our elders it is often the simpler things…just being at the table for another Thanksgiving, noticing how much the children have grown, or the several generations sharing the same meal.  In the end everything declared is a window into the age or stage of each person around the table and is a lesson in listening to and appreciating others. It is togetherness.

In our home Christmas is celebrated in a rather unique way.  We spend the entire day together opening gifts.  It isn’t that we have a lot of gifts, instead it is the way we have always planned the day.  Each gift is opened ONLY after reading the hints attached to the gift, guessing about each hint, shaking the package, and talking about what might be inside. FINALLY the present is opened.  Then, if it is a game we play it or a book we read some of it.  A new dress or sweater?  You have to try it on and show everyone how it looks.  No one grabs at gifts and no one rushes, we have learned to enjoy the day!  Before the next round it is time for muffins and juice.  We stop to gather around the table and talk to each other about the Christmas day.  When everyone is done eating it is back to the tree for the next round of gifts.  We begin our day around the tree at about 8am and we are often still there at 2 or 3pm. We pause frequently throughout the day to shower and get out of our jammies, to make our Christmas dinner together, even some times to take naps or watch a favorite Christmas movie.

I can only imagine what some of you are thinking who usually watch your kids rip into their gifts all at the same time and are done within minutes each Christmas!   Perhaps you would like to try a different approach to the holiday this year.  We have celebrated Christmas this way for many years and believe me, Christmas has always been a really beautiful, long, calm day for our family.  It has become more about being together and less about what we get.  I know our children wouldn’t have it any other way!

October Is National Bullying Prevention Month!

The Best Foot Forward Series and National Bullying Prevention Month.

What are the effects of bullying on children?   According to stopbullying.gov, the effects are far reaching.  Bullying effects the bully, the child being bullied and the child observing the bullying episode!  In other words all children, directly or indirectly, are impacted by bullying behavior, including the bully him/herself!  These children display the effects of what they experience by loss of appetite, changed sleep patterns and withdrawing socially, and more.  Please take time to look at this site it will help all of us to understand this damaging social problem.

MUSIC CAN HELP AND HEAL:  Do you want an upbeat way to address the bullying issue during the National Anti -Bullying Awareness Month at home or at school?  Why not add music?  Especially happy, on topic, music with a beneficial message!   Music does affect the listener in positive ways.  Songs like Bully Bubba from the BIG BULLY album, Great To Be Me, from U R SOME 1, and There’s No Place For Bullies In Our School, from the SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES collection, are just three examples of meaningful music addressing anti-bullying, self confidence and social empathy from the Best Foot Forward music series… all being performed by some of the best children’s musician in the world!

The Best Foot Forward Music Series was created with the vision of it being played, not only at home, but also in the school and classroom.  I could envision kids walking through the doors of the school, scurrying to lockers and classrooms, while hearing music from the BFF Music Series being played over the intercom system.   After all, where are kids most likely to encounter bullying, self esteem issues, or people different from themselves, than the place where they spend the greatest amount of time for the largest part of the year, outside of home?

Listen… is that the I’m Sorry song being played in the hall at school this morning?  What a great way to start the day.Educators are taking notice…over the past year Recess Music has received requests from teachers and librarians for the lyrics for the songs on various albums.  One, a language arts teacher, was required by the school to provide lyrics for any music played in the classroom.  We were happy to accommodate the request, and excited to hear about an innovative school program teaching language arts along with music!

This is just one way that music can help and heal.  Let’s help our kids get the best out of their time at home and at school by spending time listening to great music!

Someone Else’s Shoes is Golden!

Someone Else's Shoes We’re very excited to announce that Someone Else’s Shoes has been awarded the Parents’ Choice® Gold Award!  You can check out their review HERE.  Also, our La Bella Stella CD was awarded the Parents’ Choice® Approved Award. To celebrate, both of these CD’s are on sale in the Recess Music Store for $9.99 +s&h (regular price is $12.99).

Click here to go to the Recess Music store.