The Music Mom: Eileen Carey

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As much as we might want to prevent it, our kids will eventually discover the ugly truth about events like Charlottesville. If we could eternally shield them from the ignorance, hatred, racism, and violence associated with groups such as neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the alt-right, we would. But we can’t. It’s out there, and with the ever-increasing reach of social media and technology, it’s more accessible than ever.

With that in mind, I was relieved to discover this article from The Los Angeles Times. Entitled “How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlottesville,” it begins by setting the stage for why we, as parents, currently face this particular challenge:

“As violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, with three killed and dozens injured at one of the largest white nationalist rallies in a decade, TV screens and news feeds across America were filled with images of chaos and terror. While politicians including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Senator Dianne Feinstein reacted by condemning the attacks, calling for “hope and prayers for peace” and reminders that “violent acts of hate and bigotry have no place in America,” parents seeing the news were faced with a dilemma that’s becoming an increasing concern for American families: if, and how, to talk about violence and racism with their children.”

The article goes on to list nine extremely helpful tips (all highly recommended by mental health experts and parents) for talking to your kids about what happened this weekend in Virginia. There is plenty of information to digest within the article, so they went ahead and broke it down to a few bullet points:  

How to talk to children of different ages

Elementary school age

  • Relate the issue to their world — make sure they know who they can go to if they ever feel unsafe.
  • Tell them that if they see people being picked on at school, to always tell an adult, and to treat others with respect.
  • Use age-appropriate language.

Teenagers

  • Watch/read the news with them, then ask how they feel and what they think.
  • Share your experiences.
  • Help them discover what actions they can take to educate themselves and effect change.
  • Remind them that you’re there, even if they don’t want to talk.

I hope this information helps you as you try to explain to your kids the type of things I never thought we’d need to explain in 2017. 

Love and care for each other. 

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That voice. That guitar playing. And those songs. Geez, I am really going to miss Glen Campbell. He was a huge influence on me and pretty much every other country musician who has strummed a guitar and sung their heart out during the past five decades.

Campbell’s God-given talents made him one of the most successful and influential country pop singers in music history. In some ways, he was the face of mainstream country music, the guy who casual country fans and suburbanites instantly recognized. His songs were gorgeous tales filled with evocative imagery, unforgettable odes capable of lifting listeners to another time and place. Absolute brilliance.  

As you probably know, Campbell endured an extremely difficult last few years due to Alzheimer’s disease. Because of that, I am glad that his suffering is over. Now we are left with his music and the impact it’s made on countless fans, musicians, and critics. 

Here are 5 songs that I feel best represent what Glen Campbell means to me. As you listen, spend a moment being grateful that we were blessed by a talent and soul such as his.

5. “Gentle on My Mind”

“Gentle on My Mind” became an early signature song for Campbell. Slightly older fans will remember it as the focal point of his 1969-1972 CBS television series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.

4. “Still Within the Sound of My Voice”

Easily the best single of Campbell’s later work from his time in Nashville, this late 1980s top 10 hit definitely sounded familiar to fans. The song’s arrangement had that same dramatic sound as many of Campbell’s earliest works.

3. “Southern Nights”

Allen Toussaint wrote “Southern Nights” about his memories of trips to rural Louisiana. Campbell instantly thought of his childhood in Delight, Arkansas. Campbell’s version is noteworthy because it includes one of the most memorable melodies in country or pop music history.

2. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” 

A double Grammy winner for Campbell in 1968, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” is often considered the best example of the Glen Campbell sound. The lyrics tell the story of a man who has made the agonizing decision to break away from his lover – despite knowing that it’s the last thing she would ever expect.

1. “Rhinestone Cowboy”

This iconic ode to big dreams became Campbell’s first country chart-topper in six years, and his first to top the Hot 100. It is the very definition of a classic, an instantly recognizable and catchy tune that inspires musicians to never give up on their dream of making it to the big time. 

 

 

NPR recently premiered in their Songs We Love segment a powerful piece of protest pop, the creative video for Jenny O.’s “People.” Here’s how they describe the song:

“Jenny O.’s “People,” from her album Peace And Information, is a song written in the midst of a cultural shift that has thrown the Western world into a state of panic. How did this happen? What world are we living in? “People” goes back to the basics with a core message that those in power so quickly and easily forget that they are not superior to those over whom they have power. It is a breath after a crash, a memory test to reorient ourselves.”

Jenny O. breaks down the song’s message like this: “The song is about equality. I was trying to write about racism, authority — how can anyone feel superior to anyone else? When people are protesting for their lives, listen to them. ” Her final point is a poignant one: “Change is a long game, but it begins with dissent and compassion.”

As for the video, NPR paints a pretty accurate picture of what’s going on both sonically and visually: “Animated by Brazilian artist Caco Neves, “People” takes on the style of a classic propaganda film in collage. Jenny O.’s voice floats over warm ’70s mid-tones while photographs from different eras of oppression are cut out and played with, interacting and telling a zoomed-out story of a world desperately clinging to the arc of justice, trying not to fall off.”

The video for “People” is as intriguing as the song is relevant, so check it out. 

 

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In my last post, I suggested that you sneak in at least one road trip before summer ends. August is already here, so now is the time to gather your family and hit the open road.

Of course, if you’re going on a great escape, the music you listen to on your voyage matters almost as much as your destination. 

With that in mind, I’ve hunted down several playlists for your ultimate summer road trip. The Internet affords the luxury of choice, and when it comes to summer songs, there are some really amazing playlists out there. 

First up is this list of top tunes from our friends at Alpha Mom. It includes tracks from Johnny Cash, Rascal Flatts, Van Halen, and Queen, so it’s right up my alley. There’s nothing better than a diverse blend of genres and catchy hits, so I highly recommend this one. 

Meanwhile, TakeLessons.com took the time to compile what they call “97 perfect road trip songs the whole family will love.” That’s literally the title, so you know they mean it. And after browsing the list, I have to hand it to them: they have compiled quite an eclectic collection of hits. Turns out that was on purpose, as they so eloquently explain:

“It can be difficult to make everyone happy at all times — but we’ve got you covered, with our top picks for country lovers, pop fanatics, and oldies-rockers alike.” 

Cafe Mom included some of my favorite artists of all time in their family road trip playlist, including Blondie, John Denver, REM, and The Rolling Stones. This playlist features so many catchy tunes that I actually planned a day trip after stumbling upon it. That’s how good it is!

Fatherly.com has compiled a fun-filled list that is intended specifically for your kids. If you are traveling with little ones, you’ll definitely have to check out this list. It includes talking animals, tons of sound effects, and lots of other fun stuff that is guaranteed to prevent your kids from asking the always dreaded “are we there yet?” question.

Popular blog 3 Boys and a Dog created an awesome soundtrack for your family’s summer adventure. This one is easily one of my faves, as it includes a ton of country classics, including Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” Rascal Flatts’ “Life Is a Highway,” and Brooks & Dunn’s “Red Dirt Road.” There’s also a healthy dose of rock and pop, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

I hope these playlists provide you and your family countless hours of fun and quality time together as you make the most of your next summer road trip. Enjoy!

 

The calendar has turned to August, and with it comes the sad realization that the end of summer is a mere month away. With that in mind, I suddenly feel the need to do all things summer – and to do them fast.

As a result, I have compiled a bucket list of must-do summer activities for us to enjoy during these here dog days of August. I hope you dive right in and get the most out of the rest of your summer. 

1. Hit the road for the ultimate road trip.

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The open road and summer make for an irresistible pair. The best part is that you don’t even need a specific destination. Just some gorgeous weather and good travelin’ company and you’ll be ready to for an unforgettable road trip. 

2. Eat some incredibly unhealthy (but scrumptious!) food at a state fair.

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Fruits and veggies are typically not on the menu at state fairs, so get your share of the sweet and salty stuff when you visit these 5 best state fairs.

3. Plan a barbecue with your friends and family.

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This is one of those rare activities that you will not be able to do in a few months – at least not comfortably. What could you possibly be waiting for? Check out these delicious recipes, and then fire up the grill and invite your favorite folks over for one of the trademarks of summer. 

4. Watch a movie at a drive-in theater. 

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This is one of the classic summer things to do. According to our friends at Mental Floss, there are currently only 336 drive-in theaters throughout the United States. Hunt one down and enjoy a truly unique cinematic experience while you still can. 

5. Take a short hike and watch a long sunset. 

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Views like these will soon be a distant memory, so get to a point of high altitude and watch our favorite star in all its glory. It is the perfect way to end a summer day. 

6. Dive into a local swimming hole.

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This is most definitely one activity that you will not be able to enjoy in a few months. The dog days of August are known as the hottest weeks of summer, so enjoy all the perks of your local swimming hole while you still can. 

7. Read your favorite book outside. 

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Picture you and your favorite book on your favorite grassy knoll. If this sounds like a fantasy, it doesn’t have to be. Summer is the perfect time to combine literacy and lounging, so get outside and recline, read, and relax to your heart’s content. 

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Today is the big day. As we spend time celebrating Mother’s Day and reflecting on what our moms mean to us,  I thought it’d be fitting (and fun) to look at 10 quotes that perfectly express the love and gratitude we are all feeling today. From Abraham Lincoln to Stevie Wonder, there are definitely some gems here. 

Once you’re done with the day’s celebratory meals, coffee, wine, gifts, and laughs, share these powerful words of wisdom with your favorite woman in the entire world: 

1. “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” – Jewish proverb

2. “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie

3. “I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.” – Maya Angelou

4. “Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” – Stevie Wonder
 

5. “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

6. “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” – unknown

7. “A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all.” – Washington Irving

8. “I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” – Mitch Albom
 
9. “Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
 
10. “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” – Robert Browning

Much like our favorite songs, mothers inspire us and are always there to provide comfort. With that in mind, I’ve gathered eight songs that represent the sweetest elements of motherhood. Mother’s Day is right around the corner, so feel free to share this playlist with your favorite person in the world: mom.

1. “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” by Carrie Underwood

This touching ballad finds Underwood paying tribute to her husband Mike and son Isaiah. With lyrics like “Never pictured myself singing lullabies / Sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night / In the quiet, in the dark / You’re stealing every bit of my heart with your daddy’s eyes,” “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” is a wonderful ode to motherhood.  

2. “This Angel” by Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles wrote “This Angel” following the birth of her child. It is a testament to the enriching and transformative experience of becoming a mother.

3. “In My Daughter’s Eyes” by Martina McBride

Martina McBride’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes” is an exceptionally poignant song. In it, she describes the world as it is seen through her daughter’s eyes. Best of all, McBride then expresses her desire to see things exactly how her daughter does. 

4. “Lullaby for Wyatt” by Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow’s tender “Lullaby for Wyatt” is dedicated to her son, whom she adopted in 2007.

5. “Gabriel and Me” by Joan Baez

Folk singer Joan Baez wrote “Gabriel and Me” when her son was little. Today, he is all grown up and playing drums with his mom’s band. Such is the mother-child bond that can form through music. 

6. “To Zion” by Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion” is definitely the most controversial song on this list. It is about Hill’s decision to have her son despite the urging of her music industry peers to have an abortion. Hill’s decision speaks to the complexity – and the joy – of motherhood. 

7. “Lullaby” by The Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks wrote the ultimate sleepy time song with their sugary sweet “Lullaby.” The lyrics are incredibly touching, asking every mom’s favorite questions, “How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough?”

8. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

Lee Ann Womack’s hit “I Hope You Dance” was written by Tia Sillers and Mark Sanders. When Womack heard it, she immediately knew her experience as a mother would allow her to make it entirely her own:  “The song made me think about my daughters and the different times in their lives. As a parent, you just hope those are the kinds of things you will make your children think of.”

With us now just under two weeks away from this year’s Mother’s Day (May 14), it is the perfect time to begin pondering creative new gift ideas for our favorite person in the entire world. After all, a sign of truly caring for someone the way we care for mom is giving them a thoughtful gift.

The truth is that selecting the perfect gift for someone you love can be a stressful task – especially if it’s the woman who lovingly raised you. Finding a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift that shows what she means to you while also being something that you know she’ll love might seem like a tall order, but it’s more doable than you think. Plus, one of the great things about moms is that you can pretty much guarantee they’re going to love whatever gifts you give them.

Whether she loves to squeeze in an early morning workout or spend the afternoon curled up with a good book, there is definitely a thoughtful gift out there just waiting for your mom’s unique personality. The best part is that you don’t really have to spend a fortune to show your mother how much you care.

With prices ranging from $10 to $100, you can easily find the perfect gift to celebrate the woman who changed your diapers, taught you to read, and hauled you and your friends all around town before you could drive on your own. Here are 5 thoughtful gift ideas guaranteed to make Mom happy on her special day. 

1. For the chef at heart

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Rather than taking your chances by buying a kitchen gadget that your mom may or may not want or need, you should sign the two of you up for a cooking class. You are often able to choose between a demonstration class in which the chef does all the cooking and a hands-on class that is pretty much all you. Either way, every time she makes that very special meal, she’ll think of you and the quality time you spent together.

2. For the bookworm

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If your mom is like mine, she loves nothing more than diving into a good book. With countless genres of books by a plethora of acclaimed authors, a subscription to Book of the Month just might be the perfect gift for your favorite bookworm. Subscriptions are now more affordable than ever before, with prices ranging from $45 for three months to $144 for a year. If you want to invest in spending more time together, you could also buy the same books for yourself for the purpose of starting a mini book club.

3. For the fitness guru

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It seems that everyone nowadays is obsessed with physical fitness, and moms are no exception. Help your mom pursue a healthier and happier life by buying her a fitness gift card that will encourage her to engage in her tried and true exercises or venture into a new method of getting healthy. Fitness options abound, with yoga and meditation classes currently all the rage. If you have a higher budget, perhaps finding your mother her own personal trainer is the best idea.

4. For the wine connoisseur

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I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s pretty much a universal thing that moms love wine. After all, they had to deal with us as kids, right? Whether she likes red or white, you might be shocked at how much she will appreciate you buying her a bottle of her favorite wine. Not only can you buy her a bottle of wine, but you can also take things to the next level by combining her favorite wine with a set of simple wine glasses and a few carefully selected food items.

5. For the green thumb

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When I think of gorgeous green gardens, I think of moms. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother planting flowers, fruits, and vegetables. I miss those days. Luckily, there are a ton of options for those moms who own a green thumb. A gardener’s apron, rolling garden seat, or garden clogs are just some of the thoughtful gift ideas for those mothers who find peace and pleasure in their garden.

Kinetic Kickstarters: 6 Kickin’ Songs to Jumpstart Your Exercise Routine

In my last post, I sang the the praises of listening to music while exercising:

First, because music distracts you, you are less likely to focus on the difficult work your body is doing. As a result, you are much more likely to have a longer workout. Another benefit of playing music during your workout is that the right kind of songs, the ones that offer an inspiring message (think “Eye of the Tiger” or “Walking on Sunshine”), can keep you in a positive mindset. Uplifting tunes can cause you to push harder during a workout by reducing your perceived exertion during the most challenging/exhausting/painful moments of your session.

So, lucky for us, the end result is less perceived pain and a longer workout. Dr. Costas Karageorghis of London’s Brunel University told TIME Magazine that listening to music while working out can improve endurance by close to 20 percent.

Karageorghis also explained how to choose the best workout music. You should choose a song that builds to the same beats per minute (BPM) as your target heart rate, with the target rate being somewhere between 120-140 BPM. 

I have put together a list of 6 pop and country songs that I think are perfect for working out. I hope they provide you with tons of inspiration and energy as you try to build a better you. 

“Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s feel-good hit “Shake It Off” not only told off the haters of the world, it also completed the young singer’s metamorphosis from country darling to pop superstar. Keep that radical transformation in mind as you look to change your physical health and appearance. 

“Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

If you’ve ever spent your time on a treadmill imagining yourself in a music video, you’ve probably pictured a scenario similar to the video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” In it the Boss pulls out of the audience a young lady who is fortunate enough to join Bruce onstage. Couple the fantasy of such an experience with the song’s heightened sense of urgency (“I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face!”), and you have the ultimate workout song. 

“One Way or Another” – Blondie

Blondie’s “One Way or Another” is a catchy and energetic song that possesses the perfect amount of hook and attitude. Debbie Harry and her band of hip new wavers demonstrate the type of indomitable spirit and personal resolve that should inspire you to work out harder and longer. 

“Let Your Love Flow” – The Bellamy Brothers

The Bellamy Brothers may not have known it when they were writing it, but their hit “Let Your Love Flow” does wonders for the soul in need of a quick pick-me-up. With lyrics like these, how can you not feel inspired?

There’s a reason for the sunshine sky
And there’s a reason why I’m feelin’ so high
Must be the season when that love light shines
All around us

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen

What could possibly be more uplifting than Queen’s Freddie Mercury channeling the swagger of Elvis Presley? Well, that’s exactly what you get with Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” This is perhaps the most feel-good song on my list, as its infectious beat and rockabilly sound are sure to provide you with all the positive vibes you’ll need to make your way through even the most difficult workout. 

“Maniac” – Michael Sembello

Michael Sembello’s 1983 hit “Maniac” is an intense, synth-drenched kick in the pants from the hugely popular soundtrack to Flashdance. It is virtually impossible to listen to “Maniac” and not want to get off your behind and burn some calories. If you’re a fan of ’80s movies like I am, the sweet nostalgia of Flashdance and “Maniac” will only add to your enjoyment as you sweat to what is now, somehow, an oldie. 

Healthy Hymns: How Music Helps Your Mind and Body During Exercise

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Are you one of those people who can’t wait to go to the gym? Or are you the type of person who can’t wait to leave the gym? Regardless of your feelings on exercise, it is more obvious than ever that music and exercise are pretty much a perfect fit. In fact, including music into your routine has been proven to increase the efficiency of your workout.

There are some folks who can seemingly run for hours in complete silence. I am most definitely not one of them. If you’re like me, you probably can’t even begin working out without blasting some tunes. I need a sonic distraction, something upbeat to take my mind off the repetitive and sometimes painful nature of exercise.

I used to think that the exercisers who preferred silence were kind of crazy, but it turns out that this is because there are actually two distinct kinds of workout personalities.

The first type, associators, turn all of their attention inward while they are exercising. They prefer to focus on things like their form, heart rate, and breathing.

Dissociators, meanwhile, turn their focus to anything that can distract them from the hard work their body is doing, be it a book, television, or in my case, a steady stream of music.

If you think you might be a dissociator, welcome to the club. There are several reasons why music might be your best choice for a better workout.  

First, because music distracts you, you are less likely to focus on the difficult (and sometimes tortuous) work your body is doing. As a result, you are much more likely to have a longer workout. My preference is music with high beats per minute, or BPM. This will help you as you try to maintain a more rigorous workout by keeping a faster pace.

Another benefit of playing music during your workout is that the right kind of songs, the ones that offer an inspiring message (think “Eye of the Tiger” or “Walking on Sunshine”), can keep you in a positive mindset.

It is scientifically proven that uplifting tunes can cause you to push harder during a workout by reducing your perceived exertion during the most challenging/exhausting/painful moments of your session.

In short, the right songs can make you not physically feel all the negative things you might associate with working out, thus allowing you to last longer. 

Less perceived pain AND a longer workout? That is all I need to know to convince me that my iPod will always be joining me as I prepare to exercise.

Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll discuss some of my favorite workout songs.