The Music Mom: Eileen Carey

As a mother, I am frequently asked right about now what I want for Mother’s Day. The expectation is that I’ll request some of the more traditional gifts we tend to give moms: chocolate, flowers, or a massage.

While I will gladly take any (or all) of these items (and not just on Mother’s Day), they are not what I think most moms want. Of all the things you could give your favorite lady for Mother’s Day, the one thing that seems to matter the most to the moms I know is this: your time.

Nothing can beat receiving the time and attention of someone you adore. Especially nowadays, when there seems to be a million and one distractions that keep us from our favorite people. Getting our loved ones’ attention always makes us moms feel special. Always. 

Now that you know what most moms want, go out of your way to give it to them. A lengthy phone call or FaceTime session is great. An afternoon chat at Starbucks is a wonderful gift. Even better, if you live close enough to do it, an unexpected visit will make every mom feel special.  

The point is this: gifts are great, but in the end, all the “things” we get our mothers will eventually crumble, fade, or spoil. In contrast, the memories made during the time we spend with our moms will last forever. 

If you’re not a mom, I hope you’re able to find time this weekend to meet, talk with, and enjoy your mother. If you are a mom, I hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day, one spent with all the people who matter to you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

As parents on the move, it is sometimes way too easy to settle for giving our families fast food or hastily made meals. The biggest problem with that approach is that it leads to poor nutrition. As a result, we often feel sluggish. Not only that, but we’ve all experienced the moodiness that comes from not eating properly. No thanks!

In contrast, taking the time to properly plan our family’s meals gives us, our spouses, and our kids the best nutrition possible. The result? We are able to have the type of healthy and happy family we want.

Here are 4 reasons why you should do whatever it takes to provide your family with the best nutrition you can:

1. Good nutrition leads to a greater sense of well-being. 

Eating a diet that is low in nutrition is proven to reduce physical and mental health. For example, the Mental Health Foundation reports that approximately two-thirds of people who consistently eat fruit and veggies report no mental health issues. In contrast, those who do struggle with mental health problems typically eat less healthy foods. All of us can enjoy a greater sense of well-being by making sure that we eat lots of vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates.

2. Good nutrition maintains our immune system.

We all hate when our kids are sick. We know that their immune system is their defense against disease, yet we often allow poor nutrition to negatively break down that defense. Maintaining a strong immune system requires an intake of proper vitamins and minerals. It’s simple, friends: making sure our families eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat foods will help support their healthy immune system.

3. Good nutrition gives us more energy.

As parents, one of the most frustrating things can be when our kids are sluggish and seemingly incapable of doing what we’ve asked them to do. It is at those times that we need to remember that their bodies get their energy from the foods and liquids they consume. The main nutrients their bodies use for energy are fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Any deficiency in these areas, as well as a lack of hydration, will cause low energy levels, and, worst of all, high irritability.

4. Good nutrition is less expensive in the long run than unhealthy foods. 

This may or may not shock you, but almost two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the heart disease, cancer, and diabetes that result from our poor eating habits cause an unnecessary $71 billion per year in medical costs. In short, it might sometimes cost a little more to eat well (although planning in advance can prevent this extra cost), but the long-term costs of a poor diet will be much worse.

 

 

Sometimes being a mom feels like I’m in the middle of an epic and mysterious novel. The plot is long and winding, and I’m not quite sure how the whole thing will end. As one of the co-authors of this story, though, I’ve got a pretty good feeling that all the characters in this book called “life” will end up pretty okay.

Thanks to an unforgettable Reader’s Digest article, I recently stumbled upon a series of touching stories about moms that will inspire you to hang in there, despite the many ups and downs of these riveting stories we share with our children, family, and friends. 

What follows are just some of the stories their readers shared involving their moms. In 100 words or less, readers from all around the world told their “poignant tales of the bond between mother and child.”

I hope these 7 short – but oh so sweet – tales warm your heart like they did mine: 

MOTHER OF ROCK
by Paul Anderson, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

For my brother, my sister, and me, Guitar Hero was a competition of who could score the most points on the hardest level. Mom, on the other hand, would play the ten-minute “Freebird” on the easiest level while we kids prepared for our next showdown. When Mom restarted the song after missing a note, we all shouted our disapproval. “Rock stars do what they want,” she said, and we laughed because we agreed: Mom was a rock star. That’s why, later, her funeral felt more like the last stop on a farewell tour, with “Freebird” as the perfect send-off.

TWO SIMPLE WORDS
by Abigail Wortman, West Long Branch, New Jersey

On the first day of first grade, I stood by the front door with butterflies in my stomach. I voiced my biggest concern to my mother: “How will I make friends?” Crouching in front of me, she handed me advice I carry with me to this day: “Be Switzerland.” Be friends with everyone. Treat everyone equally and fairly. For all of my 20 years, I have lived by these words. Soon I will graduate and become a part of the real world. And on that first day, nervously facing new responsibilities, I know I will whisper two words to myself: “Be Switzerland.”

THE NEED NEVER GOES AWAY
by Saman Rahman, Peshawar, Pakistan

“Mommy, you are a fairy,” I said. My mother laughed like tinkling bells. “I am serious, Mother. You know everything.” “My child, I try to answer as best as I can. When you grow older, you will not need me,” she said. “No, Mom, I will always need you. Nothing can change that,” I said. Her words echo in my heart as I look at the blue sky: “Dear daughter, nothing remains the same except the vast blue sky.” It has been ten years since I lost my fairy. Mom, you were wrong about one thing: I still need you.

MEMORIES IN VERSE
by Pat Witty, Fairmont, Minnesota

The day I was dreading had arrived—it was inevitable. I had seen it coming but had chosen to ignore it for as long as possible. My very capable, intelligent mom had started forgetting to pay her bills, and it was time to take over her finances. As I looked through her wallet, I made a remarkable discovery. Tucked away in a tiny compartment were four Mother’s Day poems I’d written for her in the 1960s. She had saved and cherished those simple gifts for 50 years. What a happy surprise!

MIGHT AS WELL FACE IT…
by Beth Kailukaitis, Kalamazoo Township, Michigan

Coming home from work one day, I found my mom dancing to Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.” I watched, enthralled, as she moved and sang along, her hips twisting to the beat, big smile plastered on her face. It had been a long while since I’d seen her dance, so this display of pure joy was infectious. She died unexpectedly in her sleep a few weeks later. I have many memories of her that I’ll always cherish, but none quite as happy and carefree as her dance that day. It’s definitely the simple things—thanks, Robert Palmer!

PAY IT FORWARD
by Teresa Martin, North Aurora, Illinois

You reap what you sow: In her old country, my mom saw a very poor blind woman with her young daughter. She felt sorry for them and loaned them all her savings. Although Mom was worried sick about it, they miraculously returned every cent. Two decades later, when Mom left her Communist country and came to America as a refugee, the Catholic Church gave her money to feed her many children. She returned them every single cent, and her children continued to pay back through worldwide charities. Mom is now 90 years old and has a richly blessed life.

A STAND-UP WOMAN
by Robin Hynes, Slingerland, New York

My mom had a great sense of humor and a knack for making everything fun. One thing that resonated with me, even as a small child, was how much she seemed to enjoy her own company and found ways to entertain herself. As a kid, I remember her giggling while paying bills. What was so funny about bill paying? She would put humorous notes in the reference section of the check: For the electric bill, she might put “You light up my life,” and for the mortgage she’d write “Four shingles closer to owning it all.”

Have you ever watched one of those YouTube videos of a kid composing a beautiful piece of music or drawing a masterpiece that is way beyond his years? Perhaps upon seeing such creative magic you thought to yourself, “Hey! I want my child to do that.”

Well, it’s entirely possible that your son or daughter already has similar skills within them. The problem is that they have yet to unleash them. The good news is that it’s never too late to discover your child’s innermost artist, poet, or musician. 

So how do you bring out all that creativity that seems as though it’s been hiding in your kids? Raising children who successfully tap into their creativity is not an easy task, but it can be done. 

Here are 5 tried and true ways to raise children who fully realize their creative potential:

1. Remember that mistakes are not only acceptable, but they are good for the creative process.

Tons of recent research tells us that kids who fear failure are much less likely to think creatively. When your daughter messes up that drawing she’s been laboring over for the past three hours, focus on the process rather than the outcome. Praise the time and effort she has put into her work. The goal is for you to view mistakes as opportunities for growth, rather than failures. Your kids will be the better for it. 

2. Embrace a good mess.

This one is tough. I like a neat and clean space as much as anyone, but sometimes you just gotta let it go. Sometimes when our kids are smack dab in the middle of their creative groove, messes can develop rather quickly. Let them have at it. There will always be time to clean it up later on. The benefits of them fully diving into their creativity far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of a messy mess.

3. Model creativity for your kids.

How do you express your creativity? Is it through your drawing? Your songwriting? Your dancing? Or how about your cooking? The key is to let your children see you expressing yourself through your creativity. Kids who watch their parents participate in creative activities are much more likely to do so themselves. Plus, engaging in a creative activity is a healthy act for folks of all ages. Not only will your kids be inspired to do something creative if they see you do it, but you’ll be well on your way to making a better you.

4. Set aside time for creativity.

Setting aside time specifically for creativity can be difficult, especially for those of us who are working parents. Remember, though, that children tend to thrive when given sufficient unstructured time. This is time when they can build, imagine, experiment, and explore. The good news is that it doesn’t require a ton of time to allow your child his or her creative fix. Thirty minutes after dinner or right before bedtime will often suffice. Just make sure that you allot some time each day for them to do their thing.  

5. Reduce the amount of time spent in front of a screen. 

Ugh. This is definitely one of my biggest pet peeves. I acknowledge that we may never be able to completely remove screen time. But when we realize that time spent watching videos or cartoons is time that our kids are not drawing, painting, or writing a song, we might be inspired to drastically minimize the amount of time they spend staring at the television, tablet, or iPad. Cut out the screen time, and let loose your child’s creative abilities. 

What ideas do you have for unleashing the creativity in your kids? I’d love to hear what has worked for you and your family. 

I have spoken with several parents who struggle with properly managing the relationship between their children and social media. When we allow our kids access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even desktops, we open up the world of social media. That is something none of us are prepared for.

Because the adolescent brain is reorganizing itself and risk-taking is high and impulse control is low, I can’t imagine a worse time in a child’s life to have access to social media than the pre-teen and early teen years.

Here are 5 reasons why we should seriously consider not allowing our kids access to social media.

1. Social media was not designed for our kids. 

A tween’s underdeveloped brain is simply not designed to fight off the distractions and temptations that come with social media use. While it is entirely appropriate to start teaching responsible use of technology at this age, we must acknowledge that there is simply no way for us to teach the maturity that the proper use of social media requires. Make no mistake: our kids will use social media inappropriately until they are older.

2. Social media is nothing more than a meaningless form of entertainment technology.

Social media does nothing to make your child smarter or more intellectually curious. It provides no skills that will help your child succeed in his or her future endeavors. Its sole function is to entertain, and it often does this in a negative manner and at the expense of others. There are literally hundreds of other things your child can do that are a better use of their time. 

3. Social media is an addictive form of screen entertainment.

We now know that people of all ages are prone to addiction to the screens we see all around us. Kids are especially vulnerable to getting hooked on today’s technology, and social media is often the gateway to this addiction. Needing to keep up with every post, comment, and “like” can turn our kids into obsessed zombies. No thanks! 

4. Social media replaces sometimes difficult face-to-face interactions with peers. 

When kids primarily interact with friends via screens, they are prevented from sharpening the interpersonal skills they will need during their life. For example, it can be difficult to disagree with someone in person, but learning how to tactfully do so is a vitally important social skill. We deprive our kids of these learning/growing opportunities when we allow them to hide behind the wall of social media. 

5. Social media can cause kids to view their friends as more important than their family.

Strong family bonds are vitally important to the emotional development of our children. While friends do (and should) play a necessary role in the lives of our kids, they should never be viewed as more important than siblings, parents, and even extended family. With its emphasis on “likes” and other forms of artificial friendship, social media tricks our kids into believing that the attention and respect of their peers is what they ought to be pursuing. 

I hope I’ve convinced you that your child will be much better off without social media in their life. I know that it seems as though every other kid is using it, but in the end, you are only responsible for what goes on in your family. Good luck!

Let’s face it. There’s something very special about the bonds we form with members of our family. These bonds are often stronger than the ones we have with even our closest friends.

Maintaining relationships with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can greatly enrich our lives. The problem, though, is that doing so often takes a great deal of effort, communication, and coordination.

To help you keep in touch with your far away loved ones, I’ve compiled 4 of the simplest ways I could think of that will allow your family to stay close – no matter the distance between you. 

1. Read about each other.

Even with the sophisticated technology of today, news doesn’t always travel as quickly as we would like. I absolutely love hearing about the newest news involving my extended family, but sometimes it can take weeks or even months to learn of new births, anniversaries, or relocations.

One way to keep each other in the loop at all times is to design a family blog or private Facebook page. The hardest part will be getting in touch with everyone, but once you do, members will be able to make updates that everyone else can see.

2. Surprise each other with snail mail.

If you’re old school like me, you still get excited when you receive mail. Email is fine, but nothing beats grabbing a slightly worn letter out of the mailbox. A special package is even better. I’ve passed this appreciation on to my kids, as they now love receiving unexpected items via snail mail.

Sending photos, letters, and packages is the perfect way to let extended family know you still think about them. It takes more effort than sending a text or email, but remember: the effort of these small gestures go a long way towards maintaining the type of relationships you want with your extended family.

3. See each other online. 

If your family is like mine, they are probably spread out all over the country. This often makes visiting with each nearly impossible. Again, thanks to modern technology, we can bridge that gap via video calling services such as Skype and FaceTime.

It is so incredibly easy to chat with those family members who we might otherwise never see in person. This particular means of communication also allows our kids to maintain relationships with the folks they hardly ever see. 

4. See each other in person during a family reunion. 

Family reunions are growing in popularity. Yes, they take quite a bit of planning. And yes, they might require some traveling expenses. But the truth is that a family reunion can be as simple as a lunch or dinner at everyone’s favorite restaurant. It can also be as elaborate as an extended vacation at a far away resort.

Regardless of how you do it, meeting lots of extended family members at a reunion is always worth the time and effort. Nothing beats seeing the people you grew up with in person. 

If your extended family is important to you, I strongly suggest finding ways to stay in touch. All the new memories you build will definitely strengthen the bonds you already have.

As parents, we spend countless hours trying to make sure that our kids think, say, and do the right thing. How often, though, do we take time to ensure that they have the self-confidence necessary to actually follow through on those positive behaviors?

Here are 5 simple – yet effective – ways to make sure that you are raising your child with enough confidence to successfully handle all of life’s challenges.

1. Teach your child to be a good communicator.

Communication is everything. It allows us to be fully understood, thus leading to a greater sense of self-esteem. Teaching your kids to express themselves clearly and concisely will allow them to become master communicators.

They will then be able to handle pretty much all situations they encounter, both as children and eventually as adults.

2. Stop telling your child “good job” for every achievement.

This one might sound a little confusing. After all, telling them “good job” is a positive thing, right? Well, yes, it is.

But that particular form of praise is much too generic. Your kids deserve a little effort if you are going to try to give them credit. Your child’s achievements, no matter how small, are very important to them, so they deserve you replacing “good job” with specific compliments.

This method of praise also reinforces the fact that you really are paying attention to everything they do. 

3. Show your child that what they are doing really is important.

It is sometimes easy to dismiss what our kids are doing. We can act as though we are genuinely interested, but if we are not, they will notice. As you can imagine, this can negatively impact their confidence.

To prevent this type of deflation, get down on your child’s level and treat what they are doing as you would any other important task. If you want to convey to them your interest, take the time necessary to ask them questions about what they are doing.

Dive into the things that take up their time. Doing this will prove to them that you are truly interested in not only them, but also the things they do. 

4. Teach your child to create their own goals – and then help them follow through.

One of the most important things we can do for our kids is to teach them how to create achievable goals. Whether they are short-term or long-term, goals help foster focus, determination, and pride.

Discussing with your son or daughter what types of goals are worthy of their time and attention also helps instill in them a sense of perspective. They can glean from the process what is worth pursuing, and what is not.

Remember: it’s okay if your child sets a somewhat lofty goal. I’m a supporter of dreaming big, so let them reach for the moon. 

5. Model for your child how to handle failure and rejection.

At some point in their life, your child is going to fail at something. How they handle it will be due in large part to how they have seen you deal with your own failures and disappointments. Be open and honest with your child about the times that you have experienced rejection or failure.

Even more important, show them what it means to be positive, determined, and resilient. Doing this will go a long way towards teaching them how to overcome even the most painful times in their lives.

Unfortunately, we can’t prevent our kids from encountering these negative situations. But we can rest assured that we have instilled in them the type of confidence necessary to survive and thrive during life’s most difficult moments. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s untimely death. While an assassin’s bullet succeeded in tragically ending MLK’s life, there’s nothing on this planet that could ever erase the visionary’s timeless words and relevance to American society. His stirring words and writings inspire us today as much as they did during the 1950s and ’60s.

With tomorrow being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I think it is a perfect time to reflect upon 10 of MLK’s most poignant quotes. His words represent extraordinary levels of purpose, compassion, and selflessness. I hope and pray that they motivate us all to do what we can to make this world a better place.

1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

2. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

3. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

4. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

5. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

6. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

7. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

8. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

9. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

10. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Hello, friends. Check out this press release for my upcoming show with Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. It happens on Thursday, January 18 at one of my favorite venues, The Rose, in Pasadena, CA.

I would love to see you there.

Thanks again for your support!

Eileen

PRESS RELEASE

An ocean and several decades may separate them, but 1960s British Invasion legend Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits and modern country pop chart-topper Eileen Carey share one essential skill that transcends space and time: an uncanny knack for writing memorable feel-good pop songs.

Fueled by her recent award for Independent Music Network’s Entertainer of 2017, Carey will open for Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone at Pasadena’s The Rose on Thursday, January 18. Tickets are now available.

Gracefully breaking down the barriers between country and pop, New Music Weekly 2017 Crossover Artist of the Year Carey will share the stage with Noone, who achieved international fame as the lead singer of the legendary ’60s pop band Herman’s Hermits.

Noone’s hits included “I’m Into Something Good,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” and “There’s a Kind of Hush.” Ultimately, Herman’s Hermits sold over sixty million recordings. In all, fourteen singles and seven albums went gold.

Credited by POPDOSE with “blending pop, country, and rock in a way that feels uniquely hers,” Carey has appeared on CBS L.A.’s The Weekend Morning Show and Nick Jr.’s Take Me To Your Mother. Her singles “Good Bad Girl,” “In the Air,” “Faith,” “Bring on the Big,” and “Bottle Your Crazy Up” have danced atop the New Music Weekly Country, NMW’s Adult Contemporary, and other Top 40 charts.

According to Ron Wynn of Nashville Music Guide, Carey’s message of empowerment is as powerful as her music:

“Carey has emerged over the last few years as both an accomplished storyteller and effective stylist, all the while making music that deftly combines country influences with pop arrangements. Her songs also offer distinct, prominent messages about personal empowerment and emotional fulfillment.”

Other recent awards for Carey include NMW’s 2016 Country Breakthrough Artist of the Year, National Hits Radio’s Favorite Female Country Artist of 2016, and the Los Angeles Music Award for Country Artist of the Year.

Carey continues to post in her new blog, The Music Mom. The Music Mom reveals Carey’s desire to positively impact others via the sharing of her experiences and wisdom: “The world is filled with ups and downs, so I want to help people see things in a more positive light and find a better place in life.”

Happy new year! As we begin to embrace 2018, I think it’s a great time to remind you that setting realistic goals for the new year is an effective way to bring about the better you you’re pursuing this year. Coming up with a reasonable list of practical goals works much better than crafting a long list of unrealistic resolutions. 

With that in mind, I’m offering up 6 simple skills for the new year. I’ve decided to focus on skills because there is no greater satisfaction than being able to “do” something. Knowing stuff is fine and dandy, but actually doing things is where it’s at if you’re looking to build your sense of confidence and self-reliance. 

I hope these 6 skills make your life easier, healthier, and more enjoyable. 

1. Learn to do your own home repairs.

This one is definitely a challenge for me. But I can confirm that, for example, it feels pretty darn good to clean out your own sink pipes, rather than paying big bucks to hire a plumber to do it. The satisfaction that comes from doing something that is entirely doable on your own is well worth the time it takes to figure out how to do it. Besides, imagine the money you will save. Learn to do basic home repairs on your own, and you will eventually reap the many rewards that come from it.

2. Declutter your house.

One of the best things we can do for our mental health is to declutter our houses. When we do this, we transform our homes from hotbeds of chaos and stress into havens of peace and inspiration. It all begins with ditching the things in your house you no longer need. Next, organize everything that is left. Having a neater, more organized home will allow you to live a less stressful and more comfortable life.

3. Learn an instrument.

Can learning to play the piano or guitar really improve your mental prowess? The research says yes. For example, it is now proven that the brains of guitar players work differently than those of everyone else. The process of learning to play guitar chords can open up new neural pathways, thus rewiring the brain in a way that can lead to long-lasting cognitive benefits.

4. Read as much as you possibly can. 

This is perhaps the most important skill on this list. Reading not only introduces you to intriguing new information, but it also expands your worldview. A good book, magazine, or online article can take you places you never thought you’d see. Much like learning an instrument, reading also sharpens your mind. Whatever type of text you have in front of you, dive right in. 

5. Learn self-defense. 

One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that you can defend yourself if, God forbid, need be. It is incredibly reassuring and confidence-building to have the skills to physically protect yourself. Everyone should spend the time necessary to learn some basic self-defense skills either formally via a class or informally through a friend who is an expert. There are several major martial arts techniques from which you can choose, too, so you have options. 

6. Learn to cook like a pro.

There are countless benefits to learning to cook like a pro. First, as the sole maker of the food you eat, you will always know exactly what is going into your body. Don’t like the tired and heavy way you feel after eating fast food? Well, cooking like a champ gives you total control over how much fat, sugar, and salt goes into your meals. This allows you to instantly create a healthier diet for you and your family. Oh, and one more thing: cooking like a pro may cost you time, but it will eventually save you a ton of money by eating at home instead of at a restaurant.