Monday, November 18, 2013

Fa La La La La - The Sounds of the Season

Ho Ho Ho! It's that special time of year again.
♪♫  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas  ♪♫
Everywhere you go;
Take a look in the five and ten, glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in every store
But the prettiest sight to see, is the holly that will be
♪♫  On your own front door. ♪♫
I can hear the distant sound of tinkling jingle bells - smell the mouthwatering aroma of gingerbread - anticipate the twinkling colorful lights adorning every other home on my block.

Of course, it wouldn't be the holiday season without the start of those incessant advertisements everywhere you look - beckoning, pleading, guilt inducing the unprepared gift giver into parting with their hard earned dollars.

And how about those holiday carols(of which we know every word) blaring over the airwaves on local radio and drifting into our subconscious at our local Walmart?

But you know what? Though I hear the grumbles from my family, friends, coworkers and the media that it's all too soon, it doesn't bother me one bit. I've never let commercialism dictate how my family and I celebrate the holidays and special occasions.

See, I don't like pressure. Or stress. And I won't be sucked in by the Madison Avenue advertisers who strive to use their Jedi mind tricks on the weak minded and influence their buying decisions. 

I will shop where and when I want. Purchase the items I want, and not the items they deem that I can't live without. I'll put up decorations when I feel the time is right (and keep them up year round if I so please, thank you very much). I'll watch the holiday shows and movies when I'm in the mood (thanks to DVD's I'm not dependent on the scheduling decisions of some yahoos in Hollywood). I'll listen to the holiday music when I'm in the mood via either my CD's at home or bopping along in my car with the radio turned up to 10.
Because of my resolve, I bet you think I'm not a Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopper. And you'd be right! I look for bargains and shop year round. But mostly I'd rather bestow memories or provide help year-round than another meaningless chotzke, like - movie, show or sports tickets - trips such as ski weekends with our children - dates with friends - pay someone's bills (like the year I had my parent's oil tank filled) - adopting a needy family - donating to a worthy cause - newspaper and/or magazine subscriptions - giving a photo album full of cherished photos.

How about you? What's your take on this time of year and all the hoopla associated with it?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Help! I've Fallen, And I Can't Get Up!

Not sure how or when it happened, but somewhere along the way (i.e. within the last 2 years, I think), I gave up caring how I look. Clothes, hair, nails, makeup, exercise... meh. It used to mean so much to me. I took lots of pride, not to mention time, in taking care of me. Now? Not so much. Argh and ugh.

It's not that I don't know to zhuszh up an outfit. I studied fashion and design years ago and have been a haute couture admirer from afar ever since. Oh, and I'm a lifetime devotee to all things What Not To Wear and Project Runway. Never missed an episode. I bow to the alter of Stacy and Clinton and dreamed that someone would nominate me. But my sweetheart of a husband said it would never happen; I was too classy of a dresser, too pulled together. (His words, not mine.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Honoring Those Who Serve - Veterans Day 2013

It's days like these that are made for reflection. A time to stop...close the eyes...and think about all those fellow Americans who served this country, and those that are still active military, and how they protected and still strive to protect our freedoms. The freedoms we too often take for granted.

I think back to the first time I could really comprehend what it meant to be a veteran. What it meant to enlist. And the consequences of that decision. It was 1967. My mother received the call. Her nephew, my cousin, had been killed in Vietnam. She was heartbroken. But she didn't let her grief show. Instead she chose to let her support and love of the men and women serving in America's military shine.

Four years later, we said a tearful goodbye to my brother who graduated high school and immediately enlisted in the Marine Corps. We followed every news story, every headline...yearned for phone calls from my brother...waiting for the announcement that the war was over. I feared that he would face the same outcome as our cousin. I had nightmares. Fortunately, my brother never saw combat. However, he did go on to serve 30 years and retired from the military as the highest ranking enlisted Marine.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Health Care For The Music Community - Tune In & Tune Up

About a year ago I began volunteering with the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame ("RIMHOF"). RIMHOF is a "nonprofit dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and preserving the legacy of Rhode Island musicians, educators and industry professional who have made significant contributions to the national and Rhode Island music scene". I was initially partnered with one of the board members who had begun a very substantial project: constructing an online database that would keep track of all the venues state-wide that offered music performances. Within a few months, we were also including non-profit agencies and programs that pertained to music. My role slowly began to evolve and I took on more responsibilities within the community outreach program, such as keeping track of anyone who had expressed a role in volunteering for RIMHOF. I also assist with organizing quarterly meetings for the music community where they can discuss issues affecting them.

Recently, I was quite surprised and happy to be asked to join the board as an official member. I didn't hesitate to say yes! I'm very honored to be associated with a great group of people whose mission is to preserve and support Rhode Island music. All the members have spearheaded various meaningful projects, from an online archive to the community outreach program.

Which brings me to today. This weekend. And one of RIMHOF's newest projects, the health initiative, Tune In & Tune Up. Per the RIMHOF site:
TUNE IN & TUNE UP is the new health initiative of the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame. The program came about because Board members, many musicians themselves, were fed up with the lack of affordable health care options for the R.I. music community. We also fully understand how confusing and daunting it is to understand what may be available to you. If you are a professional Rhode Island musician or industry professional (soundman, engineer, roadie, tech crew etc.) OR the spouse of a musician or industry professional, sign up to become a member of the TUNE IN & TUNE UP program.
In the coming months, TUNE IN & TUNE UP will be offering seminars and workshops, soliciting retail outlets that will offer discounts to our members, and creating a web page (linked off of the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame website) which will try to help you navigate and more easily understand Rhode Island’s health care & wellness options.
A quite worthy and very important endeavor!

To support and raise awareness of the
initiative, RIMHOF will be hosting the 2-day Unity Concerts. The fundraising concerts will be held this weekend at the Ocean Mist in Matunuck (South Kingstown), RI. The concerts will feature some of the best of what RI has to offer. Household names like, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, Roomful of Blues and Steve Smith and the Nakeds. Up and comers like Kim Petrarca and The Brian McKenzie Band.

It's going to be a great weekend of great music!

To learn even more about the initiative and the concerts, visit fellow board member Herb Weiss' very informative blog post here.

I'll be heading down there momentarily to help in any way I can to make sure that this weekend is a success. Healthcare and coverage are very important to all of us in these current trying economic times, and especially vital to those who are under or uninsured. Music is so important to enriching our lives, feeding our souls. We owe it to ourselves to do what we can to keeping the music playing, keep our musicians healthy and support those special people who bless us with their musical talent.

Hope to see you at the Unity Concerts!! ♪♫♪♫