Saturday, October 31, 2009

Samhain!

Blessed Samhain and happy Halloween everyone!

I thought this might be a good song to share, since this is the day when the veil between the worlds is so thin. Enjoy!



By the way, this song is based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Juliette Gordon Low and Samhain

I want to talk about someone who I greatly admired and looked up to when I was younger, and who I still greatly admire today. She isn't one of my ancestors, but she's someone I suspect I'll be thinking of tomorrow. (For my non-Pagan followers: tomorrow is Samhain, a day when us Pagans typically honor our deceased relatives and ancestors.) And, by the way, her birthday was October 31st. Yep, she was born on Samhain.

Here are some lyrics from a song about her which I'd like to share:

She was a dreamer brave and free.
A little ship, a great big sea.
She sailed to light the way,
The journey we've begun,
And someday may our lights shine together as one.


You can find the rest of the lyrics to that song here. I tried to find the song on YouTube, but I didn't have any luck.

She faced many challenges in her life, including a husband who wanted her pretend to have an affair with someone so that he could file for divorce without the name of his mistress being besmirch. Juliette faced this challenge, and others, with her head held high.

After the divorce she wanted to do something useful with her life, but wasn't sure what. Eventually she met Robert Baden-Powell in England (she traveled a bit), who was the founder of Boy Scouts. After that, she knew what she wanted to do.

She founded Girl Scouts (GS's) in the USA. I have my disagreements with how it's run these days, but I got a lot out of it before before I dropped out as a teen when I didn't like how the program was being changed, and Juliette...well, she was absolutely amazing.

She did create badges whose purpose was to teach young women housekeeping skills, but she saw no reason to limit us to that. She also created badges to teach young women about skills that might be used outside of the house, including things such as sports.

There are other things I want to share about her that are really random, so I guess I'll just list them off rather than trying to lump them into one gigantic paragraph.

~ Her childhood nickname was Daisy. I'm pretty sure that her grandfather commented right after she was born that she was a little daisy, and that she was called Daisy because of that.

~ I seem to recall that her parents met because her mother was sliding down a stair-case banister at a nice party and accidentally landed on her father, smashing his hat in the process. lol That sounds like something Juliette would do.

~ She loved art.

~ She sculpted, painted, drew, and did other kinds of art unless I'm quite mistaken.

~ She was in theater when she was young. I don't know about when she was older, though.

~ She was deaf in one year by about the time she was in her twenties, and at her wedding a grain of rice landed in her good ear. That grain of rice did some damage, and caused her to lose hearing in that ear as well.

~ Once when she was at a GS meeting she wanted to share some new shoes. The method she chose to share them? She did a handstand.

~ The first girl she signed up to be a GS was her niece. When she broke the news to her niece (after signing the niece up) the niece didn't want anything to do with it. However, Juliette was able to talk her around.

~ As I said before, she was born on Samhain.

~ She founded GS's on March 12th -- which happens to also be my birthday!

Who are you thinking of this Samhain? I'm also thinking of my grammie, who died last spring.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Show and tell

Just FYI -- I haven't been online as much as usual recently, and I haven't even read any of the blogs I follow today yet. I've been busy, and I am tired.

However, I would like to share just two things.

I found this sign on campus today, and I had to photograph it.



Honestly, I'm really not sure what it means. However, I just Googled "Freethinkers University" and found this website. Make of it what you will. I'm too tired to make heads or tails of it. All I know is that the sign is cool.

Also, I wanted to share the song "I Enjoy Being a Girl." This is one that a young woman I used to know sang, and then a chorus (or was it a quartet?) sang it at the competition I was talking all about last week. So of course, I just had to go and find it on YouTube.



In a way it was funny when the girl I used to know sang it. You see, she wore a hijab, which is the head covering many Muslim women wear, so the line about a brand new hair do always sounded funny coming from her. But the last time I saw her perform it she added in the words "or hijab" after the mention of hair styles, which I thought was really cool. She took that song and made it her own! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Volunteering

Apparently Obama has called on people to do volunteer work. I somehow missed it, but I figured out that something was going on when about half of the comic strips in my newspaper started talking about volunteer stuff.

Getting into the spirit of Obama's suggestion, I'd just like to say that I have been volunteering at my local library for the past couple years -- as those who have been following my blog for a while will know. These days I pull holds on two mornings each week, and mend books one afternoon each week. When school is out, I volunteer more than three days a week at my library. (I confess, part of why I volunteer in the morning is to make sure I don't sleep in until noon.) In the past I have shelved books and shelf read.

It really is great to volunteer. Not only do you get to give back to the community, but you also get something out of it. Exactly what you get out of it depends, though, according to what it is you're doing. In the library I get to see more cool books -- which does have the downside of too many books and too little time -- and I got to learn how to mend books, which is a skill I'll have with my all my life.

If you want to volunteer but aren't sure where to look or get started, I'd suggest Serve.gov. I found it when I did a Google search trying to figure out what's been going on with all the recent stuff about volunteering.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chorus finals

The chorus finals were today. I hate to say this, but I wasn't overfond of about half of the show packages. But that's for another post.

As I said before, I was very interested in seeing how Lions Gate would do. What I did not say was that I was also looking forward to seeing where Rich Tones would place. Rich Tones is one amazing chorus, that has won several times in the past. They won yet again this year, which wasn't a surprise to me. Apparently their director was amazed, though, because she was crying when she realized her chorus had taken gold again.

Words can't do these choruses justice. What I really want to do is show you a recording of the choruses, but I can't find them on YouTube, other than of Lions Gate at international last time.

Hopefully something will pop up on YouTube soon, and if not, recordings should be posted on Sweet Adelines website soon. I'll try to make sure I share a link when that happens.

Oh yes -- and Lions Gate took second. :) They took third last time, second this time...I figure they ought to take first next time!

31 Days of Halloween!

Mrs. B. is giving away a really cute pair of hair sticks today, and I would love to have them. So, here I am blogging about them!

If you haven't checked out her givaway madness this month yet, I suggest you do.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Humor

I'm going to take a new angle on talking about Sweet Adelines. Today, rather than telling about how much I love the quartets/choruses, I am going to share a story that Martini told on stage today. It goes something like this:

Last year we went down to Florida to perform, and the show was in a church. Over in a corner was a gold phone, with a sign saying "$5,000 per call". It seemed strange, so we asked the priest about it. He told us that the phone was a direct line to God.

The next month we were in Oregon, performing on a show in another church. Again there was a gold phone with a sign saying "$5,000 per call". Again we asked the priest, and again he said that it was a direct line to God.

The month after that we were performing in yet another church, this time in Canada. Again there was a gold phone, but the sign above it said "50 cents per call". We assumed that it was also a direct line to God, but were puzzled about the drastic difference in price. We asked the priest, explaining that it had been so much more in the USA, and he said "It's only fifty cents here because it's a local call."

There were plenty of other good jokes, but I latched onto this one because I love anything and everything to do with religion. lol Half of the quartet is Canadian, and half are from the USA, by the way.

Ok, I'll admit that my memory isn't the best, so the specific locations they gave may have been different, but the first two were definitely in the USA and the last was definitely Canada.

Oh yes, and they placed fourth. I am quite amazed, since this is their first time in the top ten. But, their tenor pulled off the same feat with the chorus she directs -- Lions Gate -- a couple years ago.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sweet Adelines

Yet another post about Sweet Adelines!!!

I wasn't able to watch too many of the competitions today, due to my school schedule. And those that I did get to watch weren't those that I'd really wanted to watch. But oh well. The ones that I really wanted to see I'll get to see on Saturday, because they made the finals. :)

One of the choruses in particular that I've been curious about was Lion's Gate. I'm not sure when they first competed at internationals, but I can tell you that the last time they competed there was the first time they made the top ten. Not only did they make the top ten for the first time, but they placed third. Let me tell you, that is quite a feat. Naturally, I'm curious to see what they'll pull off this year.

I'd like to share the finals package that they shared last time around. I know it's a little long (about fifteen minutes) but it's oh so good. Take a look at it! For some reason I found it in two separate parts, not one, but don't let that deter you, please.





Yes, there is a lot of estrogen when you get a group of Sweet Adelines together. lol

I also want to tell you about the Melodeers chorus. They aren't competing this year, but they've taken gold several times (I'm not sure exactly how many -- that's how many times!) at international. They took gold last year, and so are our outgoing champs this year.

Their director is Jim Arns, and is someone who's fairly well known in our organization. We're rather fond of him, and have called him Our Little Jimmy on more than one occasion.

I wanted to share a video of them, but the following is all I could find. It isn't exactly the best thing to showcase their performances, I think, but it's better than nothing. It does show their singing, and I learned a few things about the chorus from it.



Sorry to bombard you with lots of things from youtube. *grin* I guess I'm getting a little over excited.

EDIT: I forgot to mention! The director of Lions Gate is part of the quartet Martini, which I talked about yesterday.

International quartet competition

Unfortunately I wasn't able to watch all the quartets I wanted to yesterday. First I didn't get to the webcast as quickly as I wanted. (Partially because I slept in...) Then in the evening my internet died. :(

By the way, I'm currently on a computer at school, listening to the webcast for the chorus semi-finals.

But on to yesterday's quartets! :)

I was quite happy about the attention that Paper Dolls got. Remember them? They're the quartet I talked about recently who strolled into my region and took first place. Also, their tenor is in second grade. They are fantastic. They took 48th yesterday. That's only a few places from last places, but whatever. I love them!

Another quartet I was happy to see was LoveNotes. I don't think I've talked about them here before. They used to be known as Under Age, but they changed their name because they're growing up -- one of their members is 21 now. I saw them live for the first time several years ago, and fell in love with them. Then their bass left and joined Razzcals (another quartet I'll talk about) which made me sad, but I'm now very happy with the quartet. They're fantastic, and took 13th. Wow!



Now, Razzcals. I wasn't able to see their competition yesterday, but I'll hopefully get to see them tomorrow since they made the finals! That means (I'm trying to remind myself that not everyone knows how the competitions work...) that they will compete against nine other quartets tomorrow who are all vying for the top place -- the GOLD MEDAL. I think of it as the battle of the titans.

I've known this quartet as long as I've known Under Age (sorry, LoveNotes). Then a couple years ago their bass left the quartet, which made me sad. I was quite happy, however, when the bass of the then Under Age quartet became their new bass. By the way, their bass and lead are mother and daughter now. Is that cool or what? It also means that their voices go together pretty well! :) I would share a youtube video of them, but I haven't found a video of them there.

I was also really looking forward to see the quartet Martini. Unfortunately my internet died in the evening, so I didn't get to see them :( However, they made the top ten, so I'll hopefully see them tomorrow!!! :D Pretty good.

I can't say that I've been in love with them for several years, because their quartet is only like a couple of years old. Actually, I think this is their third international. I will say this, however -- their members are from choruses that I love. :) And here's a video of them:



That's it for now! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweet Adelines

Waaa! The international competition for Sweet Adelines has started today, and I'm stuck at school! Not only that, but I haven't got headphones, so even though I've managed to get on a computer now I can't listen to even a little bit of it! :(

Please, don't deprive yourself of this wonderful music! Go watch the webcast!!!

Now I need to take off to go to a class...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

31 Days of Halloween!

Most of the stuff Mrs. B. is giving away I'm not interested in, but I was interested in something yesterday, and I'm interested in something again today!

Today Mrs. B., over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, is giving away a pair of really cute pumpkin hair sticks. And I get two extra entries for blogging about it, so here I am! :)

And by the way, I did win the runes I blogged about yesterday.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another blog award!


I've been given another blog award. That's two this month! Wow. It was given to me by Debra, whose blog is She Who Seeks. Thanks, Debra! :)

In accepting this award I have to answer thirty five questions, and then nominate six other people for this award.

Oh, and I'm supposed to answer each of the thirty five questions in only one word. That's gonna be a toughie for me, I think.

35 Questions

1. Where is your cell phone? Bedroom
2. Your hair? Knotted (That's a hair style, it's not unkempt!) (Darned, I already blew the one word rule. lol)
3. Your mother? Fun
4. Your father? HAM radio operator
5. Your favourite food? Depends
6. Your dream last night? None
7. Your favourite drink? Water
8. Your dream/goal? Heal
9. What room are you in? Living/computer/music room
10. Your hobby? Books
11. Your fear? Spiders
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Therapist
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren't? Ballerina
15. Muffins? Yummy
16. Wish list item? Books! (And time to read them.)
17. Where did you grow up? Great Northwest
18. Last thing you did? Facebook
19. What are you wearing? Comfy
20. Your TV? Dunno
21. Your pets? Kitties
22. Friends? What about them?
23. Your life? Good
24. Your mood? Dunno
25. Missing someone? Maybe
26. Vehicle? Mass-transit
27. Something you're not wearing? Bracelet
28. Your favourite store? Depends
29. Your favourite colour? Maroon-ish
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Dunno
32. Your best friend? I'm not giving real names here, sorry.
33. One place that I go to over and over? School
34. One person who emails me regularly? Mom
35. Favourite place to eat? Moonstruck Chocolates

Nominees

Carrie at [carrotspeak.]

Mrs. B. at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom

Magaly at Pagan Culture

Anne Johnson at The Gods are Bored

Mrs. Spit at Mrs. Spit . . Still Spouting Off

Thalia Took at Amused Grace

31 Days of Halloween!

I've mentioned before that Mrs. B. is doing a ton of givaways as part of her 31 Days of Halloween. I highly recommend people take a look at all the fun stuff she's doing this month, by the way. It's technically a Pagan blog, but a bunch of the givaways are stuff that non-Pagans just wanting to celebrate Halloween will also love.

One of the thingies that's being given away today is a handmade set of runes. I would love to have them, and I get to extra entries if I blog about it. So, I'm blogging about it! Wish me luck. :)

EDIT: I just realized that I should have provided a link! You can check out the runes and other stuff she's giving away today here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fur Baby Friday

I haven't done a Fur Baby Friday in over a month. It's something I've picked up from another blogger, in which I devote my Friday post to talking about one (or more) of my pets.

By the way, have you ever noticed how pets is an anagram for pest?

Anyways...

Today I'd like to talk about Saphira, the cat my dad belongs to. She's a Siamese with a champion bloodline, which means that a certain number of her grandparents and great grandparents and so on (and maybe other relatives?) have been champions repeatedly at various cat shows. It also meant that we had to pay extra for her, which I consider a downside to having a cat with a champion bloodline.

Both of my parents have had Siamese cats before Saphira came along, and love them. Siamese cats have a certain personality, and even though I've been around them my entire life I'm not sure if I can describe them adequately, but I'll try. They are very loyal, and even though they like multiple people, they only really latch onto one person. In fact, Saphira is so attached to my dad that she complains every time he leaves the house. Siamese cats can also hold grudges. If dad annoys Saphira (for example, if he's away from home for a few hours) she'll often shower someone else in the family with affection -- not that dad gets jealous, but apparently she thinks he should. Also, you never want to be mean to a Siamese cat. They can get darned nasty. I haven't experienced this myself, but my parents have seen it happen.

Oh, and they're LOUD. But I'm used to it. As I said, I've grown up around them.

This barely even begins to touch on the character of the breed, but ah well. I've given it a shot. Now, on to talking about this particular feline. :)

Even though Saphira was bought for my dad, it was my mom who picked her up from the breeder. This was because the nearest Siamese cat breeder lives several hours away (on the coast, actually) and with dad's medical problems he simply does not have the stamina to endure a car ride for that long.

So it was mom who went to pick her up, with Tall One and me tagging along. This was perhaps five years ago, and mom instructed us to be very quiet when we entered the breeder's house, so that we wouldn't disturb the kittens. (Siamese cats are very temperamental, by the way.) As the breeder and mom talked, mom held the kitten. I, on the other hand, fell in love with a little blue point Siamese kitten. I wanted so much to take the little blue point home but knew better than to ask, since they're so expensive. Saphira, by the way, is a seal point Siamese.

Siamese cats tend to be vocal, and as I mentioned LOUD, but Saphira was fairly quiet as mom held her. That changed when we took her out to the car. The cold ocean air hit her as we took her out of the breeder's house, she didn't like it, and she told the world that she was not happy. Fortunately we got her into the car in less than a minute, so she didn't endure it for too long.

I can't remember how vocal she was on the way home. What I do remember is Tall One slipping his hand into her cat carrier to calm her at one point, and her doing her best to escape it. She almost did, too. I was amazed at how strong she was, for such a little kitten.

When she got home, however, it took her a little while before she was willing to leave her cat carrier. I didn't see that, though, because she was alone with dad. It was part of their bonding.

By the way, her eyes are an amazing blue that is rather like the color of sapphires. Because of this, dad named Saphira after a certain dragon in Christopher Paolini's "Inheritance" cycle.

By the way, does anyone else here love Siamese cats?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweet Adelines

Have you heard of Sweet Adelines? (If you've been following my blog for several months the answer had better be yes.) It's an organization of women who sing Barbershop music, a style of music which I posted about last month.

Every year hundreds (or more) of Sweet Adelines gather together for an international competition. It's a blast. Unfortunately I won't be there this year -- darned school schedule and lack of money! lol Ah well. Fortunately, however, they do a live webcast of the competition. If my schedule allows, I plan to watch some of my favorite choruses and quartets, and I think you can safely expect me to blog about it some.

Oh, I haven't even mentioned when it is yet, have I? The competitions go from the 20th to the 24th this month. The first two days are the semi-finals, where all the choruses and quartets (on separate days) compete with two songs: an up-tune and a ballad. Then on the final two days the top ten (again the choruses and quartets are on separate days) do their finals package. This is different from the semi-finals because they have about eleven minutes for their package, and as such can do more than just their two competition songs, which again are an up-tune and a ballad.

In particular I'm looking forward to seeing how the quartet Paper Dolls does at internationals. This year they strolled into our region (Sweet Adelines is separated into fifty or so regions which have their own regional competitions, and the winners of those competitions get to go to internationals) and took first place. They're a rather unique quartet because their tenor is a seven year old! Take a look at this video of them.



They are amazing, and their tenor will be the first seven year old to compete at our internationals. I'm rather curious to see how they'll do. But I've already said that, haven't I? :)

The thing is, even though their tenor is cute as heck, her voice doesn't blend with the mature women's voices, which results in the quartet being heavier on the tenor than is normal for the Barbershop style. However, she sings so well that she makes up for the lack of blend. Oh, and one of the other quartet members (the bari) is her mom, so their voices probably fit together better than if the seven year old weren't related to anyone in the quartet.

I can't wait to see how things go. By the way, you can find the Sweet Adelines International website here. The link for the webcast is on their homepage, and I highly encourage you to check out the competitions!

ps. I'm trying to bear in mind that I'm speaking to people who aren't total Barbershop nuts like I am, and am attempting to alter my language and explain certain things (like how competitions work) accordingly. If I've left you confused, let me know, and I'll try to clarify! am more than happy to talk about this subject. :D

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Music therapy

Here's yet something else that's been shared by a facebook friend of mine.



As a student of music therapy I am practically jumping up and down over this like "OMG OMG OMG!!!!" lol It's amazing. Seriously -- it's using something musical to encourage people to adopt healthier habits. And, it worked!

I know this post is really brief, but I had a long day, need to get to bed early, and still need to spend about forty five minutes practicing piano this evening. So that's it for now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Halloween fun!

Since it's the Halloween season, I just wanted to share what Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is doing for this special time of year. Take a look, make sure you've got sound (though it's great even without the sound), and be sure to click on things!

How I found music therapy

I don't think I've shared how I discovered music therapy.

I discovered it last fall term, in a Bible as literature class. (Yes, a Pagan studying the Bible. So what?) My mom had suggested music therapy as a career to me before, but it wasn't really real to me, so I didn't pay much attention to her suggestion. I didn't know where I wanted to go in my life, but I planned to double major in English and religious studies. I love those subjects, figured they would take me someplace interesting, and planned to pursue my love of music non-professionally. Coincidentally, the university I was looking at applying to happened to be Marylhurst.

I was also interested in the health care, but I had no interest in being a nurse or doctor. Nothing against those jobs, they just aren't for me. It somehow never occurred to me that I could be a psychologist or something else like that.

Then, as a guest speaker, the Bible as literature professor brought in a music thanatologist -- a music therapist who specializes with people who are dying or who know they have a terminal disease.

This may seem like a strange choice for a guest speaker in a Bible as literature class, but in a way it isn't. The Bible actually talks about people being cured or soothed by way of music. Hence, the music therapist.

She shared how she discovered her path (she saw something on TV), sang and played her harp for us, and talked a little about her work.

I knew then that music therapy is what I want to do with my life.

So now, a year later, I'm at Marylhurst University. But rather than double majoring in English and religious studies as I had originally planned, I'm in the music therapy program. That's not to say that I've abandoned my books and my love of learning about religions, it's just that I'll pursue those interests outside of my professional life.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zombies!

Normally I'm not the least bit interested in zombies. Nothing against them, I'm just more into dragons and faeries. However, one of my facebook friends shared this song recently, and since it's Halloween season I figured I may as well share it here.




Changing seasons

People these days generally consider themselves separate from nature. Yet, today I found more proof that we're still closely connected to it.

I was reading the Sunday comics, and noticed that more than a few of them (I didn't bother counting) were about the coming of autumn. One of them was about raking leaves, and the others were about the beauty of the leaves that are changing color.

Think about it. When winter comes, the comics will start talking about snow, and the fact that it's winter. At the beginning of spring, they'll start talking about the return of migratory birds, about the weather slowly warming up, and about plants starting to grow again. When summer comes, they'll talk about the long lazy days (I always laugh at that) of summer, and the characters will be wearing tank tops. Oh that's another thing -- people wearing different clothing, according to what the season is. And of course when it rolls back around to fall again next year, they start talking about the changing leaves again. So the cycle goes.

Of course, this is a reflection of real life. Even as people say that nature is something that isn't really part of our lives any more, it's all around us, and we notice it whether we realize it or not.

By the way, this seems like a good place to mention, I'll be changing the header of my blog according to the seasons, and perhaps also according to whatever fancy strikes me. So you might be seeing some random headers up there, but you can also safely expect to see the header changing according to the seasons. That's just a reflection of my own earth based spirituality. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Piano and music stuff

I had my first piano lesson at Marylhurst yesterday. I now have two new songs that I am working on, which I've shared here.



Of course I'm not doing the above one with a full orchestra, but this is what I found on youtube. I've got to say, I love the photos provided, and that they go through the full circle of the seasons.



Tall One plays this rag, by the way, and I got the music from him.

Yes, in addition to playing the bagpipes, Tall One also plays piano. He's better than me at it, and I've gone to him for help in trying to figure out rhythms on the Serenade piece.

My going to him for help on rhythms led to a discussion about compound meter versus simple meter. I don't know how many times I've had them explained to me, but I still can't say what is what, or explain them. I'm still unsure, but I'm closer to understanding now than I was before.

Afterwards, Tall One said that our discussion reminded him of a certain scene from The Court Jester. And since I'm apparently going nuts with youtube this evening, lol, I'll share that scene. It's the first half of the following clip.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rolling backpacks

My fellow students and I found a found a new use for my rolling backpack: it can be used to lead a blind person.

As I mentioned before, one of my fellow students at Marylhurst is blind. She can usually find her way around fairly well, but the thing with this campus is that it has a lot of open space between buildings. Big open spaces are trouble for her. She can get lost in them.

We were going to choir after lunch, and of course I was bringing along my rolling backpack with a bunch of textbooks. (I would leave them in my car when I don't need them, except that I haven't got a car.) Another classmate was leading the blind woman, until she pointed out "Wait a minute, Sarita should lead me! I can just follow the sound of her backpack!"

So, my backpack now has a new use. :D

I just need to be careful of smooth surfaces that my backpack doesn't make a sound on. I got to a spot like that, made a turn, and she went straight. Whoopsies. lol That got straightened out fairly quickly, though, and we laughed at it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Music

Imagine a room full of people, and everyone has a musical instrument of some kind. One lone drummer starts beating out a tempo, and slowly others start doing whatever they feel like. Notice, I say whatever they feel like. This isn't something that we've practiced, and we don't even know what the other musicians have in mind. We aren't necessarily even familiar with the instruments we're holding.

We did this last week at school. It was amazing. Beyond words.

Last evening we did it again, except we were singing. Ok, so a few people had instruments, and a few others drummed on the tables. But mostly we were just singing.

As I said, it is beyond words. It is like stepping into the Otherworld.

You're probably reading this and thinking that there's no way such a thing could sound good. But believe me, it does. I don't know how, but it does sound good. Not just good -- amazing. Amazingly amazing, if I may borrow that phrase from Douglas Adams.

I highly recommend trying this the next time you're with a group of friends. I don't care if none of you consider yourselves musically talented. Give it a go. See what happens. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Samhain


My Pagan followers will know all about Samhain, but my non-Pagan followers probably don't. Since it's coming up this month, and I'm getting excited, I think I should tell a little about it.

Ask any Pagan and most likely they'll tell you that they consider Samhain to be the most important of our holidays, and that it is also their favorite. And by the way, its date is October 31st.

Yep, it's the Pagan holiday that we get our modern Halloween traditions are from. It's the time of year when the veil is thinnest between the worlds, which is why Halloween is supposed to be spooky. Because it's when the veil is thinnest, it is also the time when we honor those who have passed away.

Don't ask me where the trick-or-treating comes from, though, because I don't know. All I can tell you is that I like it! :D

I know that there have been a few who have questioned whether or not Pagans should have fun with Halloween stuff, since Halloween is sort of a "rip off" if you well of our beliefs. Personally, I don't have a problem with it. Things evolve, and yes in some cases they evolve in a bad way, but I don't think there's anything wrong with Samhain turning into Halloween. Truthfully, I expect that I'll be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters this year.

31 Days of Halloween!

Maybe I should have blogged about Mrs. B's givaways before now. :)

Mrs. B. is having a blast doing 31 Days of Halloween over at her blog, and I highly recommend you check it out. She's giving away all kinds of cool stuff.

In particular there's one thing she's giving away today, which is a really cool pendant. I'm slightly more likely to win it if I blog about it, so that's what I'm doing here!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Coping with ADHD

There are a few challenges that ADHD presents, but the main one I have to deal with is my attention span. Sometimes it's no problem. Sometimes it's a bit of a problem. Occasionally it's a huge problem -- one time I had just gotten a hold of a book by one of my favorite authors, was super excited about it, but could hardly get through the first paragraph. In that case I was frustrated but could wait to read it later (even if I wasn't happy about waiting). Sometimes it's schoolwork that I can't concentrate on. In those cases I can't really wait, and as such have had to find ways to cope.

This is actually what I had wanted to talk about yesterday, but I wound up talking about something else. So, today I am sharing some of the different things that I have found help me to focus.

1) Listening to music. I used to just put on a CD, and will still do that, but I've also discovered the joys of YouTube. I recently put together a play list of songs that I think will be particularly good for when I'm having trouble focusing.



I'll add more songs as I go along, and might wind up removing one or two. We'll see.

2) Frequent brief breaks.

3) Listening to an audio book that I'm very familiar with. Believe it or not, this can be a huge help when I'm trying to write an essay or read. It sounds strange, and it seems strange even to me, but it does help. When I do this I generally listen either to the "Abhorsen" trilogy by Garth Nix, or "Inheritance Cycle" by Christopher Paolini.

4) Exercise.

5) .......?

I'm sure I have more tricks, but I can't seem to remember them. Ah well. Numbers one through three are what I do most often when I'm having trouble, though. Music is what I typically like to use to cope with attention problems, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes it is actually counter productive, and rather than helping me focus on writing or whatever it is I'm doing for school, I find myself singing along to the music instead. When that happens I move on, and try some other trick.

I don't seem to have much trouble with concentration when the schoolwork is to practice music, however. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I am ADHD

I can't remember why, but yesterday I mentioned to a woman that I'm ADHD. She replied either "You shouldn't let people label you like that" or "Don't think of yourself with labels like that." Either way, I know she used the word "label." But you know, I think I'm better off knowing that I'm ADHD and acknowledging it, than trying to hide it.

I am ADHD. I just am. It means that I often encounter certain challenges, and by the way, it's easier to handle these challenges if I get to the root of the problem. It doesn't help so much if I just know that I often have trouble focusing, even on things that I'm enthusiastic about. It doesn't help much to just know that I often have trouble staying still. It does help a lot if I know that ADHD is at the root of these challenges I face, and learn to work with it rather than simply the symptoms being ADHD.

If my attitude was different, and rather than saying "I am ADHD" I said "I am not ADHD," things would be different, and not for the better. For one thing, I would not have gone to the doctor for help -- and even though most of what helps me overcome the obstacles of ADHD I found by myself, without a doctor's help, I have still benefited immensely from going to my doctor a few years back and saying "I was diagnosed ADHD when I was young, and now I need your help again because I can't handle this by myself anymore." This would not have happened if I had said "I am not ADHD."

If I said "I am not ADHD" I would not understand why I encounter the challenges I do. Rather than recognizing that having trouble focusing on things -- even on things that I am enthusiastic about! -- is due to ADHD, I might think that I was simply too stupid. I might give up, and not go after certain goals or pursue some of my dreams. I would have less confidence in myself.

But I do know that I am ADHD, and I am not ashamed of it. It means that I face certain challenges, but that's ok. Everyone faces challenges. ADHD just happens to be one of mine. I have found ways of working with the challenge of ADHD, and will continue to find more ways of working with it. Doctors have helped me with it, and I know I can go to them for help again if I need to.

There's nothing wrong with being ADHD. What would be wrong is if I tried to deny this part of me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Donating blood

I donated blood today, and I highly recommend that anyone who eligible to donate also do so. But before I continue, I want to share a little two minute video.



Doesn't she make you want to go out and donate blood right now? By the way, to quote the Red Cross web site:

"Blood is needed for emergencies and for people who have cancer, blood disorders, sickle cell, anemia and other illnesses. Some people need regular blood transfusions to live."

As you see, blood donations are very important, and there is constant need. And yet, only 5% of everyone eligible to donate regularly does so. Think of the difference that would be made if every eligible person decided to donate. That would be amazing.

The first time I donated was last spring. I'd thought of donating before, but always said "I'll do that another time" because it seemed scary. In case anyone else is delaying for the same reason, I'd like to share what my experience has been, so that it hopefully won't seem as scary.


The first couple things they have you do was sign in, and read a little booklet type thingy with all kinds of info in it. They want you to be certain that you know what you're doing.

The next little bit is confidential. They take a look at your ID and your Red Cross blood donation card if you have one (if you don't they can mail one to you after you donate) and prick your finger to make sure that your blood is good -- they do further testing on the blood after they've gotten it to the labs, but they do this little one first. They also take your blood pressure. Next they ask perhaps fifty questions, such as if you've gotten a tattoo recently (henna tattoos don't count), to further make sure that your blood is good. If you give the answers they're looking for, you can donate.

Along the way they also ask frequently "Do you have any questions?" So if you're not sure about anything or want to know something, there is plenty of opportunity to speak up.

They have you sit in a chair so that you're almost partially reclining. They find where your vein is on the inside of your elbow and mark it with a marker so that they can find it easily. Next they clean the area, and then you're ready for you blood to be taken.

Before the first time I donated I was told by several people that you only feel a little prick, and that it's not really uncomfortable. Maybe that's how it was for them, but I find it uncomfortable. It's not too bad, though. I don't look forward to it, but I don't dread it too much either. And it's definitely worth it to help people like little Danielle in the video I shared. By the way, how long the actual blood donation took was being timed today, and I tied in first place at five minutes and twenty-five seconds. I didn't get too excited about it, but others seemed to regard it as sort of a race to see whose bag would fill up first. lol

After, they bandage up your arm, and you're supposed to keep the bandage on for five hours. (Mine is still on.) You then spend a minimum of five minutes eating snacks they provide, as well as drinking some kind of juice or water. They kind of use the time to make sure that you're fine, since sometimes people do have trouble after donating blood.

It's a good idea to drink plenty of liquids before you donate (I forgot, actually...) and you need to drink plenty of water after you donate. You're also supposed to take things easy for the rest of the day, which means that I'm skipping my Aikido class this evening. I don't think martial arts qualify as "taking it easy." lol

If you want to know more you can ask and I'll try to answer, or you can check out the Red Cross's page about donating blood. On that page they also make it very easy for you to find a place you can donate.

EDIT: I just have to share, even though I've already hit the "post" button, Top 10 reasons to give blood.