Good Thoughts for the Day: How can music HEAL?

Good Thoughts for the Day: How can music HEAL?

Music…and a few good thoughts for the day

Can music heal? Hell YES.

Music is a vital life force for countless people, including Yours Truly. Music heals the deepest wounds in my life, whether I am making it or sharing it. Additionally, just listening to music can deliver good thoughts for the day, no matter what is happening around me. I would be lost without it. Meaningful lyrics paired with the right sounds sets me on a direct path to joy in a matter of seconds.

And in addition to sharing a bit of original music with you, I am going to share my own good thoughts for the day with you right now. I want to spread the happiness that I feel when I am paying attention to the joyful things in my life, when I am actively living in a state of gratitude.

Yes, pure, simple gratitude. It is one of the easiest gifts that we can give ourselves and to those we love. We hear this cliche over and over, and say it all the time: Count your blessings. But how many of us actually do count our blessings regularly? Why do we even need to be reminded if it’s so powerful?

Why does gratitude elude us?

It is actually VERY easy to take life, health, wealth, opportunity, and relationships for granted. You don’t have to look far to encounter obstacles to your happiness. Simply reading or watching the news exposes us all to enough low-vibrational, life-sucking misery to crush out any good thoughts for the day before we even get started. It is like poison to the heart and soul, and affects us deeply when we take it in. Even music has trouble reaching us when we go too far down that rabbit hole!

Unhappy people can also have a profound impact on our degree of happiness. If you are surrounded by negative people and sour messages, what chance do you have to maintain your own good thoughts for the day? I guess that’s the million dollar question. HOW do we find joy while living a world of sadness? It is a dilemma that Buddhists have been addressing for centuries. But what does music have to teach us?

Music and gratitude

Now that I have introduced the idea that music can truly boost your good thoughts for the day, I am going to share a song I wrote – and a story – that helped connect the dots for me on both of those things. It is true that sometimes the most important life lessons arrive in spiny, painful little packages.

On the day the song Nettles was born, I had just picked up my brand-new Martin guitar, the guitar of my dreams, and couldn’t wait to play it. However, earlier that morning I had been spontaneously weeding my garden beds without wearing gloves, and ran into a fresh patch of nettles. Have you ever grabbed a handful of stinging nettles? They are aptly named. Tiny chards of thorny fibers lock underneath the skin and sting continuously for days until they work their way out. My fingers felt like they were on fire, screaming.

In this condition I played music on my new guitar nonstop for hours, despite the burning pain. During this time I composed the song that Brett affectionately coined “Nettles.” It lived as an instrumental for about a year. I penned the lyrics later …as the meaning of the song fully emerged.

Your good thoughts for the day: Gratitude is a CHOICE

The song Nettles contains my good thoughts for the day – music and meaningful lyrics to lift you up. Nettles suggests that gratitude is not something that just happens – is a conscious choice. We either choose gratitude, or we do not…because it’s more about what we pay attention to.

Every life is filled with pain. Everyone experiences sorrow and disappointment. What do you focus on, pain or happiness? Will you hold onto feelings of bitterness, deprivation and despair, or will you embrace love, gratitude and joy? Will you sit in silent misery or turn up the music that heals?

What we choose to focus on is what we ultimately get, and therein lies the good thoughts for the day that I wish to impart. It’s very simple, something the Buddhists got right. Pay careful attention to your thoughts, because they speak volumes about where you are directing your energy, and therefore your life. That is the gift of mindfulness.

Nothing can keep me down for long when I choose to connect to everything – and everyone – that are blessings in my life. For me, Nettles is a deeply spiritual song. I will share this music now – my good thoughts for the day – with you, my friends, to show how very grateful I am for YOU.

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

Get on Your Mojo! 3 Simple Ways to Be Positive

Get on Your Mojo! 3 Simple Ways to Be Positive

Positive spirit? That’s MOJO.

Strangely, you probably have a sense of what mojo is, but can you actually define it?

The origins of the word mojo are rooted in West African tribal cultures with traditions of practicing magic and spells. In modern western cultures, mojo is still synonymous with magic, but its meaning has become secularized. It can be defined as anything positive that seems to come from something mystical or unseen…a sort of magical power.

We experience the positive effects of mojo in any number of ways: by spending time connecting to nature, slowing down the frenzied pace of our work lives, engaging in a bit of inner reflection, being creative, practicing self-care, or meditating in a quiet space…or perhaps just being present in the moment.

Mojo is also the title of a song – a Brumbylon original that carries a positive message expressed via a joyful tune. We had this lovely bit of music, a guitar duet that had been crafted in alternate tunings and joined together like pieces of a puzzle. We named the instrumental Disintonation because of the weird pairing of two guitar parts in different tunings.

On June 14, 2019, the last day of work at my high school, I penned the lyrics that would transform Disintonation into the song Mojo. It was a glorious afternoon, warm and sunny, and birds were singing up a storm. I took my guitar outside onto our private deck overlooking the woods and started to play. Positive doesn’t adequately describe the magical feeling of joy that conjured my mojo that day. Creativity had grown wings and took to the sky.

Tapping into mojo

My mojo returned when I received the gift of time with open arms – with joy and gratitude. I didn’t know how badly I needed a break until I got one. I normally run like the Energizer Bunny until my battery is drained, but at the end of a school year I finally stop – just long enough to return to myself. Once I recalibrate, my energy runs clear and I am positive again.

Mojo is accessible, but not when you run nine ways to Sunday. Poof! You just burned out your own positive, magical energy. WHY are we like this?

American culture is notoriously harried and stressful. We work long work hours and are subject to high input/output expectations placed on us by employers. We run ourselves into the ground, unwitting accomplices in the rat race. It is very easy to cave under external pressures that urge us to work to the point of physical and spiritual depletion. It is equally hard to remain positive when we are drained all the time – our mojo runs too low.

At present – and for some it may feel like an eternity – life as we’ve known it has ground to a halt. The confinement can be challenging. For others who are still working on the front lines of the epidemic, the stress can be overwhelming. Such conditions deplete our positive energy. But, oddly enough, a wealth of opportunity lies just underneath the surface of all this madness. The question is…HOW do we tap it?

Finding your mojo in hard times

What we most need in times of stress, isolation, confusion, and energetic depletion, are ways of reconnecting to our positive life force. You CAN get on your mojo, even in the hardest of times!

It is important to realize that there is never only one way to do something – there is no one-size-fits-all. We are individuals. That being said, I recommend three simple ways to get on your mojo TODAY:

#1: Connect to what brings you JOY. This is always a great place to start. You may think, well duh, that’s a no-brainer. But ARE you actually joyful? I talk to so many people who feel lost without their normal, familiar routines, and do not yet understand the merits of living outside the boundaries of the comfort zone. Joy is the key…a gateway to recovering your mojo.

#2: Explore Buddhism’s Eight Pillars of Happiness. Even though we are individuals, we also share commonalities that join the human family across cultures. Buddhism offers practical wisdom, and is compatible with all spiritual traditions.  These 8 pillars can be applied to your own particular circumstances, so please get to know them.

#3: Get outside and MOVE. Do not dismiss the benefits of fresh air, nature and movement. If you feel down, depressed and stuck, the best medicine is nature and exercise. It is deeply healing and can immediately enhance your positive outlook. It’s also free and immediate…kind of a magic bullet. Walking is a healthy habit that you can easily work into your daily routines.

The positive benefits of mojo

There is no limit to the positive benefits of finding and working with your mojo. It should become and remain your life’s mission to do so. Life is nothing more than a series of lessons designed to reach you and teach you. Become a lifelong learner and reap the harvest of building on the work others have already done. As Joni Mitchell so aptly states in her song Woodstock, “I don’t know who I am but, life is for learning.” Basically, it’s a journey, folks.

And if you haven’t heard it yet, check out the song formally known as Disintonation. There is a great deal of wisdom in Mojo, which encourages us to take time out from the rat race, to stop long enough to determine, at the very least, if all that running is either necessary or worth the cost to our health and happiness! Note the reference to the cliché that claims you’ll die with unfinished work.

Why wait to tap into the deep well of your own positive spirit? If not now, then WHEN?

Perhaps it is time for YOU to ‘get on your mojo.’ Begin working with these three simple action steps today and watch the magic unfold!

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

How can you be happy alone?

How can you be happy alone?

Why are some people happy alone?

Being alone and being lonely…they are not the same thing. They may go hand in hand, but being alone does not have to result in loneliness.

There have been times in my life when I felt alone, dejected, miserable, and deeply lonely. It is probable, I think, that most people experience loneliness at some point in their lives. From the vantage of the prolonged social distancing, I am even more curious about the factors that result in the condition of loneliness, which, oddly enough, can occur even if you are around other people! What I am hearing from others on social media is a diverse array of experiences, everything from “I am really enjoying myself” to ” I am deeply depressed.”

There are plenty of folks who do not experience loneliness in the absence of company – they are genuinely happy alone. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are misanthropes – people who dislike people. Some people simply prefer to be alone.

Perhaps the condition of loneliness is the result of not feeling connected. This is worth exploring, whether you are happy alone or not, because connection of some kind is an integral part of human life, even if you are a misanthrope. When we experience disconnection, we are less likely to be, well…happy.

The connection connection

To be truly happy alone a person still needs to experience some kind of connection. The question is…connection to what or whom, and perhaps also how?

Consider the depth of this inquiry, because people are uniquely complex. Factors like age and personality play a role in being lonely or happy alone. Some of my socially extroverted friends are self-labeled “huggers,” while my more introverted friends cringe at the thought of getting physically close to other people. The huggers are suffering from the absence of physical contact, and cling to their online connections to get through the prolonged social isolation. The non-huggers are probably better at being happy alone, but that is not always a given either.

We must then bear in mind one very important connection, and that is to SELF. What is your relationship to the person who occupies your skin? Many of my extroverted hugger friends who are happy alone have cultivated a deeper connection to themselves. They have explored the uncharted territory of living inside out, and perhaps engage in creative or meaningful activities that afford them a sense of accomplishment and joy.

Maybe they have simply been around longer. The ability to be happy alone – in the absence of a partner for instance – also seems to increase with age. A single twenty-something is more likely to experience lonliness in the absence of friends or a partner than, say, a divorcee in her fifties. Perhaps it is because older people have lived through more of their challenges and have more experience under their belt. They have learned a few life skills that may still elude a younger person who is sorting out who they are and what they want from life.

Are YOU happy alone…or lonely?

Which one are you?

If you enjoy prolonged solitude and are truly happy alone, what are the connections that foster your happiness? I invite you to share these gifts with the lonely folks who need support. These are difficult times for so many.

Perhaps you are not enjoying the isolation. You may be climbing the walls and pining for the company of others…maybe you are truly lonely. What can be done to alleviate the pain of loneliness?

This is an unprecedented time, for better or for worse. If you have a lot of time on your hands and would like to learn how to be happy alone, there are tools available to help soften the edge of your discomfort. Maybe it is time to do a “deep dive” into your inner world and reconnect to what brings you joy. What are your interests? How can these things be explored within the confines of prolonged social isolation?

For a few useful tips on how to be happy alone, check out this healthline article. In the meantime I wish that peace and sweet connection are restored to you pronto. Remember…this too shall pass. Hang in there, friend.

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

Use vulnerability to live your life to the fullest!

Use vulnerability to live your life to the fullest!

Can you be vulnerable and still live your life to the fullest?

Have you found it challenging lately to live your life to the fullest? We have limited freedom to come and go as we please, are sequestered to the relative safety of our houses, and either live in solitude or with another individual or a small family group. Some of us are lucky enough to be working from home, but either way we are still “social distancing,” the new verb.

Perhaps you enjoy the change of pace, or the luxury of sleeping in. You may be a nurse or a doctor working on the front lines. Maybe you’re chafing against the confinement, or annoyed at the time it takes to de-contaminate your groceries after braving the markets. Do you dodge and dart past the virus-deniers ninja style with your mask and gloves on? Yeah, that’s me.

Being vulnerable to a contagious pandemic virus does not feel okay. Frankly it feels scary.

You can use vulnerability to live your life to the fullest

Due to the closing of local public venues, Brett and I have been experimenting with live stream shows on Facebook. It was strange at first singing and playing to a cell phone mounted on a tripod. It was equally disturbing to end a song to a silent room, even though we knew there were many people watching us in real time.

Brett and I often experience a sense of vulnerability during these online shows because we are stepping outside our comfort zone. We also feel this is a great way to live your life to the fullest, even if it’s uncomfortable. Normally, we can gauge the response of an audience because people are right there in front of us. We are delighted by the welcome reception of our online performances, and engagement has been high. Despite a little discomfort, these live concerts have been more uplifting than unnerving for us.

That changed on Friday night.

We played a request, a popular original tune called Girls in the Trees. The song is a romantic reflection of my childhood years growing up with my younger sister. I was getting into the song, really connecting with the lyrics, and then suddenly…BAM.

I lost it. Right there on camera, in front of countless known and unknown people, my voice began to crack and waver. And then, to my horror, tears welled up and spilled over. They just kept gushing, and I was unable to finish the song.

Nana’s Curse

I don’t think I will ever forget the vulnerability of that moment. I wanted to disappear. I felt like I had been stripped to the bone. It was terrifying to be so raw and out of control in front of all those people. Wasn’t I supposed to be making people happy with my music? What was wrong with me?

It all goes back to my Nana.

Bessie May Fiola Wilson was my paternal grandmother. She was a sweetheart of a little woman, a violinist with a charming voice who cried at weddings, birthday parties and family dinners. It didn’t matter if the occasion was happy or sad. Nana Bess always ended up crying and was presented with a box of tissues at the start of every family event.

This phenomenon, which we dubbed Nana’s Curse, has been a running joke in our family for decades.

I am not the only one who suffers from Nana’s Curse. It is common in my family. I learned as a child that I couldn’t look at my father when he got choked up because I would also burst into tears. My sister and I avoided making eye contact with Dad whenever we played Dan Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band. He has Nana’s Curse too, and like Nana Bess before him, Dad passed it down to the two of us.

Vulnerability is a Teacher

I guess I have a preconceived idea of how I am supposed to behave as a performer, a teacher, a member of society. But in reality, I am just a person like you or anyone else. We feel things.

This is not an easy time to navigate because stuff comes up, and sometimes it is sudden and catches us off guard. It’s raw and it’s real.

Based on the comments I read during that part of the night’s performance, I now see that quite a few people appreciated my vulnerability. Perhaps they could connect to their own emotions through mine. Music, laughter and tears can provide both connection and release. They are also cleansing and healing.

I didn’t like it when I fell under Nana’s Curse in the middle of a performance. It was scary and disturbing to feel so exposed. And yet, I now realize that I have been holding a lot inside lately, perhaps in denial of feeling the trauma that so many are experiencing in these unprecedented times.

Artists can be very emotional. We feel and process so much. Emotion is the raw material that finds expression through our words and music, and apparently even our tears. Maybe vulnerability is a superpower and not a curse after all. In this regard, vulnerability may serve as a gateway to your internal power, and can therefore help you live your life to the fullest.

Thanks a lot, Nana. No, really.

Check out the song Girls in the Trees on our website and find out why it made me cry 😉

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!


To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

Are You Stressed Out?

Are You Stressed Out?

Hello fellow warriors.

Do opportunities for JOY exist during difficult times?

The answer is YES. Anyone who is willing to think outside the box can begin recognizing and connecting deeply with those opportunities. Let’s explore.

There is unlimited power inside each of us to transform how we perceive and respond to hard times. Finding this inner power can have a profound effect on our happiness and health. Every single person is capable of connecting to this source power…if you’re breathing, you have the capacity.

But…difficulty equals stress, right? Stress is bad. We need to reduce stress. There are thousands of articles and remedies focused on stress-reduction. We hear it all the time: Stress is dangerous for the heart, it creates conditions that lead to stroke, and can cause a host of other terrible ailments that will send us to the grave sooner or later.

I wish to challenge this simplistic claim. Seriously, if stress alone was that devastating few of us would have survived the teen years! It’s true that difficult times cause a lot of stress. No denying it. And yet…what if everything we ever learned about stress is wrong? What if stress itself is not actually the problem?

Another Take on Stress

Counterintuitive though it may seem, stress is both important and necessary. Think how your muscles would feel if you never exercised – without stress they would atrophy. What if there was no stress in achieving a college degree, no stress in the loss of a loved one, no stress in being a nurse or doctor, no stress in running a competitive race? We would turn to mush! We would become absolutely complacent. Our SOULS would atrophy.

Where is the challenge leading us to complete the next stage, or helping us adapt to inevitable changes?

It is rather how we perceive and respond to stress that matters. If we view stress as negative, then we compound our negative response to the conditions that are challenging us…we may react like white blood cells rushing in to kill a foreign agent that threatens the body!

If we stop long enough to consider that stress is calling our attention, rather than merely perceiving it as something to fear in and of itself, then we can respond accordingly.

Instead, consider stress as being something that opens the door to possibilities. It can be STIMULATING in a very good way. How we perceive and respond to stress has everything to do with its effect on our heart, mind and body.

I’m not saying that dealing with stress is easy. It can be…well, stressful! But if we back off just a bit, we may begin to see stress as simply information. It tells us that there is a challenge before us. The greater the challenge, the higher the levels of stress.

 Stress is a Communicator

If stress itself is not bad, then let’s look at what stress has to teach us. Consider that it is our response to stress that really matters. Instead of simply finding ways to reduce stress, we can look at stress as an opportunity to:

  • Alter the ways in which we perceive adversity
  • Devise self-care strategies to ease our negative stress responses
  • Step up the ways in which we meaningfully connect to what brings us JOY

Yes, JOY. Remember that?

We owe it to ourselves and those we love to figure it out. Whenever we connect to our joy we are building a purity of strength inside that can be imparted to others by example. In this regard, we are TRUE LEADERS, helping others learn how to be joyful despite challenges. We can begin this process by changing how we respond to STRESS.

Transforming Negativity

Like any other noble pursuit, reframing our response to stress requires attention and focus.

Here is a five-step plan to help you practice managing stress in the coming weeks. Block off a bit of time daily to build these new habits of mind…it will be worth it:

  1. Identify the source of your stress. Be clear. Write it down.
  2. Sit with that stress for a while. ALLOW yourself to feel it – it’s okay to experience discomfort! No guilt, please. We all feel stress, and it can be truly HARD to deal with.
  3. Next, allow time to clear your mind and heart of negativity around your stress. This could take 5 minutes or an hour. Here are some suggestions:

*Take 3-4 deep, slow breaths. Then sit in silence for a few minutes. It’s miraculous.

*Take a brisk walk or gentle stroll in nature. Allow the fresh air and natural beauty to heal your mind and heart. Pay attention to what’s around you. Connect to it.

*Clear your mind with a Loving Kindness meditation…there are many online. Find one that works for you. Regular meditation is transformative.

*Do some yoga stretches or other restorative physical exercise. It can profoundly soften the hard edges in your mind and heart.

*Write in a gratitude journal. Jot down at least 3 things you are truly grateful for. Gratitude releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones.

  1. Now…stretch your perception: Revisit your stress. Imagine how you may come to view these stressors from a different angle. Write your thoughts out until all negativity runs clear.
  2. Lastly, come up with 1 to 3 strategies that you could employ to respond differently to your stress. This one is really important because it is an action. It is repeated action that helps to embed a new pattern or habit. Commit to making it a daily practice.

Remember, changing your perspective and response to stress may take time to master, so mindful practice is key. Revisit these strategies when stress begins to overwhelm you with negativity. Above all…please be patient and gentle with yourself. These are trying times for all of us.

Over countless centuries human beings have found ways to thrive, despite hardship and unspeakable adversity. We are incredibly resilient, aren’t we, warrior?

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!


To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”