Category Archives: Friends

Creative Afternoon

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Berthold Auerbach

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. – Charlie Parker

Music’s the medicine of the mind. – John A. Logan

Today was band practice. This was the best session we’ve had up to now. Everything seemed to click and all three of us were right on our game. As we progressed it seemed that the creative flow got even stronger.

We’ve focused our efforts on 13 songs initially with the goal being to do these very well or as close to perfect as possible. After that we’ll move on to increase our repertoire. As we completed a song after doing it well, it seemed to energize us for the next one. We continued at this high pace for about 3 hours.

The big thing was that it was incredibly fun. There were times that it was completely exhilarating for me. The sound of our trio is unique as there are two acoustic guitars and a drummer. You don’t see that very often and we have a lot of room for creative expression with the two guitars.

Our goal is to perform at a local open mic sometime in April. That gives us two more months of practice.

I’m loving it. It’s a like a dream come true. :-)

Michael

Parallel Friends

A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities. – William Arthur Ward

I am so appreciative of my close friends. One of the reasons I feel abundant in my life is because of them. Many times we seem to lead parallel lives. I find this very interesting.

This morning, I was talking with my one of my closest friends who lives in London. We were talking about some experiences that she has been having over the last several weeks which were similar to some I had been having in my own life. Within the one hour conversation, we both seemed to jump past some blocks we had been experiencing and moved past to calmer ground.  It was an exhilarating feeling.

Nat and I seem to constantly have this sharing of life’s lessons. The themes are the same and seem to occur at about the same time. But, the difference is that we are coming from a completely different set of prior life experiences (personal history), very different backgrounds and upbringing, different religious/spiritual practices and we went to vastly different schools.

Because of the similar themes we can support each other during those moments when we need it. Due to the vast differences we are able to help each gain alternate perspectives which allows each of us to grow that much more.

It’s just one of the many gifts my friends bring me. I’m quite fortunate.

Michael

Corner Cafe in Newport

Lately, Saturday mornings are reserved for Nat and I to write on our book. Every other Saturday we meet in Newport, RI and start our writing session off with a hardy breakfast at the Corner Cafe on Broadway St. I love breakfast better than any other meal. I could eat breakfast at dinner which I do many times. The service at the Corner Cafe is great. The food is wonderful. It’s a nice place to get your day off to a great start.

I’m glad we start our big writing sessions here, since I like breakfast so much. It really puts me in a good mood and I’m ready to write, brainstorm or do just about anything else.

For me, it’s also a treat. I think those are important to give yourself on a regular basis. It’s a small way to show appreciation for yourself. We tend to forget about ourselves in this regard. So, pick some things that you can do to give back to yourself. Do this on a regular basis. The short term effects will help you have a happier life. The long term effects will be staggering.

Have a great day!

Michael

The Band is Forming

If it sounds/feels good, you must be doing something right. – Unknown

It seems that the better you get, the more you see the importance of fundamentals. – Unknown

No matter how many chords, scales or modes you know. What matters is what you do with those things. – Unknown

Playing music is becoming more and more fun. We got together again today for about 3 1/2 hours. Our duet has now grown to a trio as a drummer has joined us. Very cool! It’s starting to feel like a band. We are currently looking for a bass player and another singer. Hmmm. Maybe it is a band.

After four sessions of playing together, we comfortably play about 16 songs and are working on several more. The goal is to have a good 50 – 60 songs in our repertoire. Our focus has solely been on working out our acoustic sound together. There is something about two acoustic guitars playing together that is quite special. We really are enjoying the blend of sounds. The drummer added an entire dimension that I hadn’t experienced before but now want more.

One of the things I love about playing music with others is how the creative flow works. Many times you get completely in sync with the other player and positive things happen that are unexpected. Today with the addition of a drummer that expanded to three dimensions. Our first session for the three of us was a great success. What’s exciting is that it is only the beginning and that all three of us are playing together because it is so much fun.

It was very fulfilling afternoon! I can’t wait until we get together again next weekend.

Michael

Couldn’t sleep

Last night was one of those nights in a hotel room when I couldn’t get comfortable. I was congested and, alternately, too hot and too cold and kept my wife awake by tossing around all night. So I got up and now have the early morning to myself in the hotel lobby.

The one thing I really like about winter is being awake in the early morning darkness. Somehow it feels like you are living a secret life, with only a few other earlybirds. It reminds me of winter mornings in my childhood during ski trips. We would get up early, complaining and grumpy, but then there was a hot breakfast and the promise of a full day on the slopes.

I don’t ski much at all any more, and it’s one of the things I have given up that I would like to return to. That is the best part of New Year’s for me, imagining what I will do this year to improve on last year.

I’m feeling optimistic about this year, confident that there will be lots of fun things to do. I’ve learned in the last year to look forward to the good things that are ahead of me most of the time, even when I’m struggling a little bit. It has really helped me be grateful for all the wonderful people in my life, who make me feel happy and appreciated at work, at home, and around town.

Happy New Year. (I intend to think this for at least two months.)

Holiday Traditions

My sister and her family arrived today. So, everyone that is getting together in our group this year is together. We have several traditions that we follow year after year. I love our traditions and I love the thought of traditions in general.

Traditions are important in several ways. They create points of sharing across time. They bring groups closer together by the thread of the experiences that occur within the tradition. They bring a level of excitement and anticipation that gives meaning to all who share. Most importantly, they are fun!

Some of our traditions are:

  1. We have a big family dinner on Christmas Eve containing more food than could be possibly eaten in one evening.
  2. We open our presents on Christmas Eve evening.
  3. The kids get an additional set of presents from “Santa Claus” on Christmas morning.
  4. We have a large family breakfast on Christmas morning.
  5. We have another large meal (some time around lunch) with everyone.
  6. We go see a movie together on Christmas Day in the afternoon.
  7. Some years, several of us go and play pool at a local hangout.
  8. We play games together with a little friendly competition. In the past, we have played dominoes, video games (DDR, Guitar Hero, Wii sports), card games, Pictionary and etc.
  9. We go take a walk or hike near or on Louisiana State University.
  10. We take a trip to get some authentic beignets (sort of like a doughnut) from Cafe Du Monde.
  11. We have as much fun together in the time we have as humanly possible.
  12. We usually go out to eat at least once to one of our favorite restaurants in the area.

The traditions have already started. I’m glad to be a part of them again this year.

What are some of your traditions?

Michael

Final Prep for the Holidays

I have finally completed all I needed to do to prepare for the Xmas holiday next week. All the presents I plan to give have been gathered. All the preparations have been made for traveling this weekend.

I start looking forward to the holidays about a week or two before they happen. I start remembering all the fun things we have done in the prior years. I remember all the gifts that were given and received. I remember all the movies we picked to see on Xmas day (It’s a tradition for us).

I remember the piles of food that were consumed. I remember the new additions to the family experiencing Xmas for the first time. I remember holiday decorations brightening up the rooms. I remember that some years were really cold while others were almost summer like. I remember the games we played as a family.

I remember feeling content just being in the same room with everyone else. No need to do anything. No expectations. Only enjoyment in sharing another holiday with the people you care about.

I’m ready to add more memories to the wonderful ones I still carry.

Michael

Bad day

I woke up this morning feeling angry and tired. I made the problem worse by staying in bed till I was going to be late for work. For some reason, and maybe it is withdrawal from caffeine, I couldn’t get myself to feel any sense of vigor. I haven’t been exercising regularly for 3 months, maybe 4. I stayed up too late 4 nights last week and drank coffee the next day, which I never do. I haven’t been a regular caffeine user for years.

So maybe today I was feeling disappointed in myself for not eating and exercising well. It doesn’t really matter, because I have been doing a lot of things I’m proud of. The way I am working through writing Christmas cards this year still makes me feel each night at bedtime that I know how to set a goal and work toward it.

I’m thinking that a day like today is a good test of how well I respond to the negative voice some of us carry around in our heads, the one that says, “You aren’t making any progress.” One good sign is that I recognize these bad moods for what they are. I realize they are not a permanent sign of a problem. In fact, a colleague at work told me this afternoon that I hadn’t seemed like myself all day. Naturally I felt good to think that my true self is more upbeat and friendly.

I am trying to learn lessons from days like today: that you can make things better by asking yourself at each moment of the day, “How can I feel better? What can I do?” Today I decided to try to solve a problem for a friend of mine. It was a small problem involving a computer, and it required me to run up and down the stairs to our computer support department. Up and down I ran, and on the third trip, I bumped into a work friend who has been out of the country for three months. We are having lunch next week. He looked great.

By 4:00 p.m., I felt fine, almost back to normal. And normal is good. It felt great to turn around a bad mood by helping a friend with something small. Maybe I’m learning.

Old Friend

Tonight I had dinner with a friend of many years, whom I haven’t seen for about four years. We worked together on a very intense project in Taiwan, and she is one of those people for whom I have equal measures of admiration and affection.

We left for dinner early, so we had plenty of time to catch up, about her grown, twin sons, their wives, and the grandson who belongs to one of them. With this friend, our conversation jumps easily from work to family to politics. Although we haven’t spoken in years, we had plenty to say. I guess the point is that she is someone with whom I have the sort of connection that picks up right where it left off.

On the drive home, I was thinking how grateful I am to be at the life stage where I appreciate the power of friendship, especially ones where you don’t see much of one another. When I was young, I used to think that it hardly counted as friendship unless you could see the person every week and keep abreast of all the ups and downs of one anothers’ lives. Now I realize that a dinner with someone I have known well long ago is a chance to savor the simple gift of affection and mutual understanding.

I enjoyed every minute of dinner and completely forgot that there were other things waiting for me at home. What a joy.

Playing Music

If it sounds/feels good, you must be doing something right. – Unknown

All playing requires energy; Good playing requires attention; Great playing requires passion (and maybe some luck too!) – Unknown

Yesterday I played guitar with a friend for over 2 1/2 hours. It was really the first time we had played together for any length of time. We had played for a few minutes together several months ago, but that was it.

It was a lot of fun and I think we were both surprised at how well we played together. It felt like we had been playing guitars with each other for many months. I suspect if we clicked this well on our first session, then in several months it should be quite amazing.

I love playing music, but I really love playing music with others. It makes for a much more exciting time. My new guitar partner knows a lot of music that I don’t and visa versa. Our goal is to eventually build up a small band with a couple of other people. That would be fantastic and a first for me.

There is something to be said about music and the creative process. It gets down into the soul level. That’s the kind of stuff that is important. Making deep connections with others is another. Playing music covers both.

I feel like I just got a great gift.

Michael