Tag Archives: music

Dog Days Are Over

I’m totally digging this tune these days.  Love every bit of this song – the tempo, the chorus, the artistic vision, and the way it makes me feel.



Music Inspiration: M. Ward, She & Him

Ahh, listening to the music from M. Ward puts me such a relaxed and dreamy state. Matthew Ward is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from Oregon whose talent is effortless and innate.

My husband Neil introduced me to his music a few years ago and I have been hooked ever since. Last year we went to a show at The Vic and I was blown away by this man’s talent. He was on stage pounding his piano and jamming his guitar with such soul and passion – it made my heart pump with (musical) excitement.

His song Rave On (featuring Zooey Deschanel) from the Post War album makes me want to grab my kids or my husband and dance around the house.  When I listen the songs Rollercoaster and To Go Home, it mentally transports me back to 2006 when we were listening to his music and figuring out life with a newborn (Stella).

Now M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel collaborated again and came out with another upbeat record for their band She & Him.

Check it out!  It’s lovely.

7 Ways To Reduce Stress

One way to reduce stress - music therapy

The other day I was flipping through my book Prescription For Natural Cures to find out what causes eczema and the chapter on Exercise and Stress Reduction caught my eye.  Because my family and I suffer from stress and anxiety, I read further.  The chapter had some really interesting ways on how we can reduce stress naturally, so I thought I would share it with all of you innerpeace seekers.

According to the authors, James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D., “…people fail to see the connection between their health problems and how they handle their stress.  Unfortunately, many doctors fail to see the connection as well.  Research continues to show that how one handles stress is paramount to one’s physical, mental and emotional health.  Stress releases adrenal hormones, which are powerful chemicals and if are heightened and depressed for too long because of stress, a person is far more susceptible to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and other serious illnesses.”   Scary stuff.

The authors offer up some stress-reduction techniques to lessen the effects of stress on our bodies.  Everyone is different, so if you are interested in finding a way to reduce stress, choose one that suits your personality and lifestyle.

7 Ways:

  • Deep Breathing – According to the book, “Numerous studies have shown that deep breathing relaxes the mind, calms the nervous system, improves mental focus, and improves energy.”  I’m a huge fan of this one.  Whenever I find myself getting worked up over something, feeling overwhelmed, not able to concentrate, I connect back to my breathing techniques and try to focus on being present.
  • Exercise – “Exercise is one of the simplest and most underrated ways to reduce stress on the body.”  My dad is a huge proponent of running when he feels overwhelmed.  He owns his own business and during these hard economic times he sometimes struggles with all the stress that’s associated with being your own boss.  He hits the gym hard almost every day and just runs.  He claims it’s the best medicine for his heart.
  • Laughter – “Research shows that laughter prevents inflammatory triggers that leads to heart and artery damage, and it reduces the effects of stress.” Laughing with friends and family is a pastime in my household.  It’s a joy to be around jolly people who enjoy life.

Laughing with my little girl as she tries new ballet moves

  • Prayer – “It offers an opportunity to communicate with the Creator and cast your doubts and cares upon Him.”  Whenever things get tough, I simply close my eyes and have a conversation with God.  Afterwards, I usually feel like a heavy load has been lifted off my shoulders.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – ” Starting by curling your toes and holding them tightened for three seconds, then relax them.  Work your way up the body, focusing on how each muscle group feels as you tighten and relax it.”  This seems easy enough.  Set aside a few minutes each day to try this.  We carry a lot of stress in different parts of our bodies and this may help release some of that tension.
  • Tai Chi and Qigong – “…involves specific body movements and breathing.” These two aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine have gained a lot of popularity in the west as a way of reducing stress.  I pass by a Tai Chi studio here in Chicago daily and I am fascinated by the slow and steady movement it requires.
  • Visualization – “The visualization of positive images invokes a relaxation response.”  Close your eyes and visualize yourself and your loved ones in a positive light.  This also reminds me of my swimming days before a big swim meet.  We would visualize ourselves every step of the race to help prepare for our big events.
  • Yoga – “Yoga involves deep breathing, stretching and mediation.”  This is widely popular in our society these days, thanks to Madonna.
  • Music Therapy – “The human brain has been programmed to be responsive to music.  Examine any culture throughout the world, and you are sure to find music being used as a way to relax and combat the effect of stress.”  This one is definitely used by my family.  Neil, whom I admire greatly because of his sense of calm and clarity, practices this method; not necessarily as a way to reduce stress, but I’m convinced it helps keep him cool.  I love that he is instilling his love for music to our children.  They flock to him the second he breaks out his guitar, keyboard or just puts a record on.

Feeling calm and enjoying the music

Try one of these techniques if you find yourself getting worked up over something.  Please let us know if any worked! Good luck!

And a special thanks to Krystle! of Fly Vintage for the awesome pics!

Lady Gaga – Role Model?

Repost from Jan 16th, 2010

Blood-drenched lace costumes, fierce props, eccentric wigs, exotic makeup, outrageous and theatrical describes Miss Lady Gaga. She’s the latest rage these days, but has been around for quite some time, studying and performing as a young child and into her teens.

I caught her on Oprah and was quite surprised by her humbleness. Heightened humbless, I’m sure, due to the nature of the program (and exhaustion?) Nevertheless, her creativity is undeniable – her visions extremely clear and thought-provoking.

The confidence she exudes on stage is commanding and quite impressive. I’m sure her parents played a huge part in developing this creative “monster”. According to Gaga in an interview with MTV.com, her mother stated “Little baby girl, you can be whatever you want, and you are beautiful and you are talented and you could rule the world“. Powerful words in which Gaga took to heart.

While the formula for the recent rise in female pop stars relies heavily on looks, simple lyrics and with vocals fed through processors, Lady Gaga fuses performance art with thought-provoking lyrics and has the musical chops to back it up. As a mom of a young girl, do I think she’s a role model for women? Yes. In fact, I think she’s an untraditional inspirational role model because she follows her heart and makes no apologies.

So What Inspires You?

                                                                      Art work by Esther Aarts

People get inspired by different things.  I get inspired by Art (both creating and appreciating) and organization (a skill that I aspire to have).  My husband gets inspired by music, my sister – vintage fashion.

For some, sources of inspiration come from nature, photography, recycling, sex, exercise, children, traveling, reading, helping others and the list goes on.

Most times we feel inspired, but I think these days, more than ever, people are feeling less than inspired with the holidays behind us and chilly weather on the horizon for the next few months.  Why not dump these uninspired feelings and start finding or reconnecting with what makes us HAPPY?

What inspires you?  What gives you that “excited” feeling?  Is it your family? Your partner in life? Your job? It could be anything that makes your life feel purposeful and really pumped to be alive.

On the media side of things, it’s an easy time to get the encouragement.  Magazines, TV and a plethora of books are front and center with tips to help you “lose weight”, “detoxify your body”, “get organized”, “get connected with your family”, etc.  Let’s ride on this encouragement to find that something that inspires you and let’s feed it with love, hard work and happiness.

Please share your stories!  Would love to hear what inspires you.