Keepsakes and Memories

I posted the following “story” on Blooms to Blossoms Facebook page this week.  

One of the many ways a quilt can have meaning is as a tie to friends and family. My friend Carol rescued a quilt from the materials bin at the church and has completed the work of the initial quilter.  During the time, Carol was working on the quilt a neighbor provided more insight into the quality of the work and materials used. After telling me the story of the quilt, I stopped by Carol’s house to see the project AND loved it!!!  Not only is the quilt a perfect fit for use in my home but the story and her “rescue and recovery” work is meaningful to me.  Since our move to the neighborhood Carol has been a great friend.

“Good friends are like quilts. They age with you, yet never lose their warmth.”

I am reading the Elm Creek Quilt series by Jennifer Chiaverini and the timing of Carol’s find and work is a nice coincidence.  A quilt is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere. 

Carol’s quilt

I started looking around my office, my home and even my yard and my car…interesting to consider the stories behind the keepsakes and mementos that surround my life. Tangible reminders can be inspirational and a guide. Revisiting the meaning of items in my office gave me the idea for my blog. I have a replica of a 1948 F1 Green Ford pick-up in my office. The significance is my Dad started his first business using that truck. He believes “we are all made up of potentials which can grow to be actuals” so that’s what I believe!! I have a cup of buckeyes (picked by me from under a buckeye tree outside of the Rec. Center at OSU on graduation day) with my doctoral degree graduation tassel and butterflies on a shelf in my office. My education provides opportunities for me to spread my wings to move from potential to actual. Putting these two “Elaine artifacts” together gave me the idea of Blooms to Blossoms.

The keepsakes of your life are objects that mean something to you; symbolizing a snapshot of your life that has personal meaning to you.  Keepsakes are forever and a reminder of a person, experience, event. Sarah Hosken (2014), a cognitive-behavioral therapist and counselling psychologist, encourages people to keep memento boxes. She explains that the overall process of keeping mementos stimulates people to put time aside to reflect upon what is precious to them at various stages of life’s journey. Gathering mementoes of places, people, and situations past, present, and future, inspires people to savor the meaning of their positive life experiences and to enhance their overall sense of wellbeing.  

Ways to preserve memories:

A memory book or box is a place to keep sentimental items, but not to display or to have on hand daily.  The tangible reminders of life that affirming interaction, encourage reflection, and celebrate events. Examples of items to include are: a book that inspires you, a bracelet, a letter from a friend, pictures, charms, knickknacks, quote from a card.  Keepsakes remind and comfort. There are so many items I’ve kept that I now look at and smile back to myself. Having something tangible is just one extra thing that helps me re-live the memories. 

Bookmark from Dad in 2015 that has also at times been a cat toy!!!

Reminiscing activity group comes from the therapeutic recreation field is another way to preserve memories. It is a social participation activity that stimulates and shares memories with others. Sharing with others the stories of the mementos are as important as preserving the mementos themselves. 

Sharing stories with others (verbally or written) can entertain and enhance relationships. DearPhotograph is an interesting way to share photos, tell a story, and preserve family history.

The Story of Campbell (told to me by my mom)

We were at a small, scenic park that we often like to drive through from time to time.  One morning on the way through the park, something caught my eye.  We stopped to take a better look and there next to a trash can was a tiny, little kitten with its head stuck in a Campbell soup can. The poor little kitten could not get its head out of the can…goodness only knows how long it had been there. As we tried to remove its head from the can without hurting the kitty, it would occasionally mew.  Finally, its head came loose and with a startled look it broke loose and ran into the woods.  We often reminisce about the kitten, we named Campbell, that was almost ours. 

The picture I added to depict the story
(this is not Campbell)

A study from the Association for Psychological Science (2014) reported that nostalgia is now emerging as a fundamental human strength.  Studies by Hallford and Mellor (2015), Melendez Moral & Fortuna Terrero, Galan, and Rodrigues (2014) support the idea of enhanced self esteem, life satisfaction, socialization and overall wellbeing through reflection and sharing of key life events. 

What mementos tell your life story? 

Feel free to share a story with my readers.  

Recreation & Leisure: Rhythm of Life

The real value of recreation and leisure is
its effect on life itself.
Look at the people around you.  
How many of them look like they enjoy life?  
How many times have you heard reference to
life as a rat race? 
Life is more than existing, and 
an active lifestyle can give you that extra ingredient.

Six points stand out when considering the value of participation in recreation and leisure activities.

**Sociability – making and keeping friends
**Transmission of and adherence to proper values
**Deemphasize spectating
**Supplement stimulation of physical fitness; carries over to emotional well-being
**Self-identify enhancement

Most participants determine the purpose of their engagement through their own attitudes and values. Some play for fun, some play for serious competitive reasons.  Daily activity programs are more and more a way of life.  Leisure-time pursuits not only enrich present life but adds enjoyment to the quality of life in the future.  Participation should emphasize the recreational aspect of experience.  While certain sports requiring tedious training are beneficial to the participants, equal attention to activities that can be enjoy spontaneously is important.  Fun should not be organized out of leisure activity. Participation should be enjoyable.

Participation in leisure activities afford an opportunity for individuals to achieve purposeful living. The experience allows a discovery of personal goals and builds relationship with other people and the environment.  The participant is becoming more self aware.

One of the most important values of recreation and leisure endeavors is the opportunity for individuals to respond to success and failure experiences.  A measure of success can be encouraging while failure can be motivating. The mental adjustments to success and failure is excellent training for similar experiences in other phases of life.  Success and failure elements exist whether in competition with others or as one tries to improve personal skills.  It is these elements that are of immense value to an individual’s development.

Where the physical begins and intellectual ends is difficult, if not impossible to determine. Advocates of “total development” suggest that fitness extends beyond the muscle and we must view a person as a whole.

Physical activity develops strength and endurance and the neuromuscular coordination that contribute to agility and confidence in the control of one’s movements. Participation develops the ability to handle the body gracefully and efficiently.  The qualities of strength, endurance, and agility are directly useful in meeting the stresses of everyday life.  Indirectly, they comprise a great asset for anyone through the inner confidence and self-assurance achieved. An active lifestyle is one of many ways through which we may reach the goal of total growth and development.

The learning ‘products’ of active engagement with others include qualities such as sportsmanship, appreciation of effort, and factors associated with adjustment and modification of reactions to others and their ideas. Experience in group activities broadens the individual viewpoint, enhances self-assurance when in the company of others, and teaches the meaning of loyalty and cooperation.

I believe the purpose of an active lifestyle contributes to physical, social, intellectual, and emotional well-being.  A goal of participation is to enhance the quality of life, feelings of self-worth, and satisfaction through leisure pursuits.  The purpose of participation is simply and fundamentally to achieve a better state of being.

Oh the Places You Will Go

In the mid-1800s Abraham Lincoln stated, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” My perspective of Lincoln’s quote is that undertaking self-improvement throughout life is the aim of enhancing knowledge, skills, and competences. Lifelong learning is a continuous development and improvement process aimed at personal fulfillment.  The result of this effort will be a life well lived.

Learning by doing and using prior knowledge in new situations are attributes of a lifelong learner.  These are attributes that would lead someone to being “wiser today that he was yesterday.” The concepts above could apply to the message of Dr. Seuss’ 1990 book Oh The Places You Will Go! 

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.

The main distinction in the above two examples is the influence of being with and learning from others can have on personal development and personal fulfillment.  Interpreters of Lincoln’s quote express that you “must decide to walk with wise people and learn from them.”  A lifelong learner is curious and open to the valuable lessons of others. A lifelong learner is also self-motivated and self-reliant. Rather than a passive role in life one is actively engaged. Including others in your experiences and independence not only enriches the growth opportunities but contributes to personal well-being. 

Ron Charles of the Washington Post, May 2019, discusses how Seuss’ book …”became a graduation-gift cliché”. He expressed the idea of a need to progress beyond moving through life in solitude.

Take a few minutes to skim the Washington Post article and review the Dr. Seuss video. Then consider the following comments.

Being self-sufficient, confident, ambitious, self-motivated, and achievement oriented, as in the Dr. Seuss book, combined with the ability to “walk with wise people and learn from them” will result in desired outcomes of lifelong learning.

**Enriched life
**Relationship building
**Engaged contributor to society
**Adds meaning to life
**Increases wisdom/mental stimulation
**Creates curiosity

Recognizing and understanding your personal learning style will guide choices of hobbies/activities. Understanding self contributes to the quality of the experience.

Learning Style
Visual (spatial)You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
Aural (auditory-musical)You prefer using sound and music
Verbal (linguistic)You prefer using words, both in speech and writing
Physical (kinesthetic)You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
Logical (mathematical)You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
Social (interpersonal)You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
Solitary (intrapersonal)You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Narushima, Liu, and Diestelkamp (2016) study on effect of lifelong learning and well-being and Park, Lee, and Dabelko-Schoeny (2016) study evaluating a lifelong learning programs found enhanced personal development and fulfillment through individual and group engagement.  Being autonomous and expanding social networks both offer knowledge and skill development.  Continuous participation in a pastime, hobby, or taking a subject matter course sustains psychological, social, and emotional wellness.  Whether the interest is creative, athletic, academic, something distinctly personal, or something social YOU make the choice. What matters is that it is something you find meaningful and enjoyable.

I read the Washington Post article a month or so ago.  I “googled” Oh The Places You Will Goto refresh my memory of the book.  I found that my view of Seuss’ work differed from Charles.  I realized that lifelong learning and personal development is an individual pursuit to find your own path.  Choices made to guide the path taken differ with each of us…”one size rarely fits all”.  

Find Your Own Path by Cory Miller
(partial excerpt)
 Be careful when you expect
or demand someone else do
it your way. 
And be careful attempting to do it someone else’s exact way. 
One size rarely fits all. 

Nature, Wildlife & Well-Being

Photo Source: Maria C Dawson: Stupefied “Connection”

Last week I found a squirrel with a broken back leg on our porch. I was able to (hopefully) save it by taking it to an emergency rescue location near our home. It made me a bit stressed and then a bit hopefully (emotional wellness roller coaster). Since this experience I have been thinking about nature, wildlife, and wellness. 

Personal well-being is a primary focus of Blooms to Blossoms.  One aspect of wellness that I have not discussed yet is environmental wellness.  Environmental wellness includes an awareness of surrounding environment and community and the ability to live in harmony.  Attention on individual well-being leads to a consideration of what is important and beneficial to our personal lives, but it must include what is beneficial to society.

In my May 20 blog, I shared my intent (purpose) to build a community to discuss the meaning of an integrated life. Together, our effort will result in the creation of a well-being legacy to live and to pass on to others. I concluded the blog by asking the question:

How can we live and share our personal well-being legacy?

Our personal well-being legacy has a broader scope reaching beyond ourselves to the larger community.  How do we care for ourselves, others, nature, and wildlife?

University of Minnesota Taking Charge of Your Health and Well-Being Blog series titled Nature and Us explores how nature can impact well-being.

The 4-part series includes:

How Does Nature Impact Our Well-being?
**Nature Heals…decreases stress/anxiety, increases pleasant feelings
**Nature Soothes…trees, plants, openness of outdoors mitigates pain
**Nature Restores…time in nature enhances vitality and mood
**Nature Connects…encourages support person to person and person to the larger world

Enhance Your Well-being in Nature
**Encourages “getting outside”…if nothing more than the breath fresh air and give your mind a break.

Bring Nature Indoors
**Shares ways to “bring small doses of nature into your home” to enhance well-being.

Nuture Nature
**Discusses the influence animals and pets can have on personal wellness.

Brittnei Miller also shares insights about nature and us in her August 2018 blog Why Should You Care (WSYC). She states, “I believe that positive self-care will generate additional positive feelings throughout our lives.  We generally feel more likely to take pride in the world around us (people and animals) when we are also taking care of ourselves.”

Bringing nature and wildlife together as an influencer for wellness, a 2017 WSYC blog post summarizes a 2011 research study published in Tourism Management by Ballantyne, Packer, and Sutherland titled Visitors’ Memories of Wildlife Tourism: Implications for the design of powerful interpretive experiences.

Four main categories emerged:

Much of our neighborhood and our house backs up to a conservation area. Over the past several years I’ve had many encounters with wildlife. Below are 3 collages of pictures I’ve saved.

Pieces of life weaves together in many ways. My blog on July 15, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul , shared my perspective of a lifetime of running. Thinking about the above comments from Miller’s and U of MN blogs another aspect of my running is more clear. I enjoy being outside. Interesting that when I think about places I’ve lived I can still envision my favorite running routes. Most of my runs were alone and with my surroundings.

The level of engagement I have had with the animals visiting my yard is varied and touch on all aspects summarized in the 2011 Memories of Wildlife study.

**I was able to “pet” the calves before Farmer John herded them back home.
**Catching lizards and frogs in the house is a ‘game’ my cats enjoy.
**Being able to watch the bird we rescued fly off into a sanctuary area was fulfilling.
**Providing a nesting blanket and watching the squirrel ‘tuck’ himself in for the ride to the animal rescue location was a bit emotional…felt sorry for the squirrel but happy I was helping.
**Observing ‘mom deer’ jump my fence and retrieve her baby was amazing.

Note about deer: beautiful animals and I enjoy seeing them, however, it would be nice if they would quit eating my landscaping. :- )

Raccoon looking in my office window, Cows broke free from neighboring farm & are heading toward our front yard, ducks and gator on our pond, and sand cranes visiting the front yard.
My recent squirrel rescue, a bird released after rehab (neighbor and I saved), mom deer retrieving baby from backyard after baby napped in my flowers, owl (same neighbor and I) released from a pool enclosure
Osprey maintains residence in wooded area behind our pond, catch and release (thanks to my cats) of a lizard (green anole), catch and release of a frog (thanks to my cat), herd of deer passing through, turtle heading for our pond

I hope you enjoy some of my experiences….I hope you enjoy the video below. Please share a story or two with our readers.

A healthy, diverse and vibrant natural world is essential to human health, happiness and wellbeing.

Play the Ball Before It Plays You

Reactive vs Proactive
Who are You?

There is nothing I can do….OR….I wonder what an alternative might be

They will not allow that….OR….I wonder what different approach I can take

I must do that….OR….I choose to do this

If only I could….OR…I will

Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989. This book continues to be a best seller along with several of his other publications.  Following 7 Habits in 2000 he published Living the 7 Habits: Applications and Insights.  Below is a table summarizing Covey’s principles.  Consider how you might apply his “habits” to move yourself from the reactive to the proactive approach to the opening scenarios.

Watch this 6 minute video to review Covey’s 7 Habits
Be ProactiveTake Initiative
Begin with the End in MindConsider the Goal
Put First Things FirstPrioritize
Think Win/WinConsider Both Sides
Seek First to Understand, Then to Be UnderstoodCommunicate (Listen)
Sharpen the SawReflect

Summarizing the above when addressing the options in the opening scenarios Covey is saying “play the ball before it plays you”.   

Personal well-being can fit into both categories…
proactive and reactive.

Avoiding a healthy lifestyle focused on integrating wellness and lifelong learning does not consider the long-term goal (Covey’s 2nd principle).  We would all agree that daily exercise and a healthy diet has positive benefits for body, mind, and spirit.  The key is…are we proactive or reactive to achieve that goal? Personal well-being is an ongoing process which is dynamic and progressive.  Optimal well-being relies on your choices (proactive) rather than luck (reactive).

More examples of proactive approach to well-being include:

  • Drinking plenty of water help lubricate joints, boosts skin health, aids in accessibility of minerals and nutrients to the body.
  • Chiropractic adjustments aid in alignment of the spine for good posture, affects central nervous system, improves joint mobility, improves circulation.
  • Viewing wellness (body, mind, and spirit) as part of your planned self-care.

Review the wellness resource to apply Covey’s 7th principle (reflection) to determine if your personal well-being is on track.  Consider how you would respond to each question in the following ways:

  1. What is my status/condition?
  2. Is this factor important to me and if so, how does it fit into a priority list?
  3. How can I be more proactive to achieve my wellness goals?
Borrowing from goal setting strategies take the S.M.A.R.T. approach to design your plan.
SSpecificWhat is the desired result/outcome?
MMeasurableHow to quantify the outcome?
AAttainableWhat do I need to achieve the goal?
RRealistic Is the goal tangible?
TTimelyWhat is the timeframe for completion/reevaluation?

In 2004, Covey published The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness.  The 8th habit is “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” Through my blog I hope to be a voice to inspire others.  I am providing a list of a few blogs I follow.  Each blog resonates with my purpose (integrating wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development).  I share this list as a resource to build a stronger knowledge base for all of us.

Blogs I follow:

Mission to Learn 
The author writes on living fully, well, and wisely

Thrive Global
On a mission to unlock human potential

The Well-Lived Life
Live a life you enjoy waking up to

Keep Inspiring Me
Inspiration served with a heavy dose of reality

Best Self
Think bigger and achieve more

Rory Feek
Living an extraordinary, ordinary life

“Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”
~ Stephen Covey

Learning to be more proactive about your wellness along with active engagement in your overall well-being is an ongoing lifelong learning process – there are always actions to take.  Remember, being proactive in your lifelong wellness is a skill you can develop and train. 

Run For My Body, Run For My Soul

Dewey (1933, 1938) in his works How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process and Experience and Education believed that reflecting on our experiences is a key to personal development.  He pointed out the importance of reflection to connect experience with learning to create meaning and stimulate growth and change.

In my first blog, I stated that gaining a personal knowledge of practice (how you live life) requires reflection.  After writing my last blog titled “Recreational Sports Contributes to Personal Development” I started thinking about my own sports experiences.  The July 8 blog focused on traditional aged college students.  I think it is important to consider how an ongoing active lifestyle contributes to personal development. I have been a runner for over 40 years.  I don’t run as much as I did “back in the day” but running and exercise (being active) remains important to me.  

While discussing the importance of reflection in my first blog I suggested to my readers…

  • Consider your past, present, and vision for your future
  • Consider ways you can share with our readers, family, friends, colleagues, students
  • Consider ways your experiences transfer from one aspect of your life to another

Taking my own advice, I thought I would share some insights from my past, present, and future plan as a runner.

My past

I was a scholarship athlete (track and cross country) as an undergrad.
I raced competitively (road race, duathlons, triathlons) for 20+ years.

My present

I workout usually 6 days a week…sometimes 7, sometimes 5.  
I lift weights, bike, pilates in addition to running.
I take part in group workouts for the added social benefit.

My future  

I plan to continue to workout regularly with a primary focus on weight bearing activities. 
I expect walking and swimming will be part of my future activities BUT I plan to stay in the present for as long as possible. : )

During my competitive years I had a quote on my bulletin board.

To those who keep pace with the sun,
the day is a perpetual morning.
Henry David Thoreau

I continue to start my day with exercise and predict mornings will continue to be “my time”.  Never (well almost never) is there a day when I don’t look forward to my workouts. Sometimes not a long or fast workout but I always go.  My motto at this stage in life is ‘something is better than nothing’.  

Start without an end in sight
Remember that anything is better than nothing.  
Let the pace find itself.  
Run for yourself.  
Run for today.

In the past, my running was a priority…now it does not fill my day, but it does influence the rest of my day.

Running is fun. Not HA-HA fun, but a quieter kind of contented fun.  
Not fun every minute of every day.  
But fun in the overall effect.  
My running is easy and comfortable, and it feels good.  
Seldom is there is a morning when I do not feel 100% better
in the last mile of a run then I had in the first mile.
Joe Henderson

As I move forward in life, I know I will continue to pursue my activities.  The older I get, the more I realize there is more to these activities than just the competitiveness I found in the past.  Improving and enhancing body, mind, and spirit result from my physical activity. 

Check out these two articles:

Why Fitness is a Spiritual Practice

What Does Running Mean to You

I’ve also added a couple books to my reading list:

Time for you to think about your lifetime hobbies and how these experiences have been beneficial to you. Pulling from a classroom assessment strategy, the one minute paper I’ve listed some questions below to help stimulate your thoughts. A one minute paper is a short writing task to prompt reflection.

**Why was the hobby important to you in the past?
**In what way is the hobby important to you now?
**How has the value of the hobby changed over time?
**How will the hobby be a part of your future?
**How has your participation in the hobby impacted your life (past and present)?
**How do you expect the hobby to contribute to your wellbeing in the future?

NOTE: Your initial answer to each question should take 1 minute or less.

Feel free to share your thoughts…I’m interested!!!

Music Matters: Music for Me!! Music for You??

Music enriches lives and society through two contrasting but complementary ways. Music is linked to the private self yet is often a collective, public experience (Hesmondhalgh, 2013). Music is not only a vehicle for expression. It is an inspiration to think and take action. Music can reflect social condition as well as facilitate social change. Malchiodi (2015) shares the idea that the arts may be as important to health and wellness as nutrition and exercise.

Music changes as society changes…ever evolving to reflect “society of the time”.  A quick review of music since the 1920s shows the direct association to societal trends/issues. Below is a synopsis of information shared about popular music through the decades by The People History (2019).  

1920sPost WWI music was upbeat and optimistic as the economy boomed and parties roared despite prohibition in the US
1930sPopular music served its purpose by providing an escape from the harsh conditions in the Thirties
1940sMusic reflected the pain of WWII while also trying to remain upbeat and looking towards a positive future full of possibilities.
1950sMusic of the 1950s reflected the beginnings of major social changes in the world and in the US
1960sThe 60s presented a split between commercialism, revolutionary artists, and musical innovation
1970sDisco became one of the biggest and most despised trends in music during the decade. 
1980sAppearance of musicians and gimmicks became commonplace due to introduction of MTV.
1990sMusical taste was as varied as the events happening at the time.
2000sMusic had to strike a fine balance between upbeat and optimistic while still reflecting the pain that many experienced. 

You can read more details about the past 90-100 years of popular music by reviewing the website.  Also, there is a link in each section with a more expansive description of each decade.  

As I reviewed The People History content, these ideas came to mind:

  • the meaning of music
  • the impact of music on identity
  • the social nature of music and community building

There are many ways to describe music and what it means. The effect of music and what it means to me is twofold.  I listen to music and I “make” music so the perspective of the meaning of music is a bit different.  

Beyond music reflecting history (as discussed above)…

  • Music is science (melody and harmony)
  • Music is math (rhythm and tempo)
  • Music is a language (notes and symbols)
  • Music is physical (coordination and control)

In addition, research (Friedman 2014, Heshmat 2018, Hille, et al. 2011, Merz 2015, Spray 2015, Springer 2018) shows that music heals, contributes to cognitive function, and influences mood.

What listening to music means to me… music is calming, nostalgic, clears my head, lifts my spirit, motivational

I listen to a variety of music…some of my favorites are blues (such as Keb Mo), piano solo (classical), traditional hymns and country (Joey & Rory).  Sharing blues and classical with my husband is one of our hobbies. Traditional hymns are nostalgic because it reminds me of my grandparents. I just like the “stories” embedded in country music.

What making music means to me…playing piano is a challenging and rewarding accomplishment. It is creative, enjoyable, and hopefully more of a priority in the future as my interest in music has been reignited over the past few weeks as I’ve written Music Matters blog posts.

My current music plan includes: 

I have started taking lessons through PianoTV (asynchronous piano lessons) guided by Allysia Van Betuw.  Amazing to find the perfect piano teacher for me living in Saskatchewan. 

This week (June 26-30) I am participating in one of the first online piano conferences.  Definitely as an intermediate piano student some sessions I will need to revisit but it sure has been inspirational.  As a connection to a prior blog I am “lurking” my way through the conference.

Through Amazon I ordered the Fundamentals of Piano Theory (set of 11 books with the Teachers Answers Keys) by Snell and Ashleigh.

It is exciting to be getting back to “my music” and as part of my lifelong learning/personal development plan.  Music and my personal plan address many of the wellness components (social, emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual).

I would like to share a couple examples that show how music matters and can transform lives.

Clocks & Clouds trio combine “classical instrumentation with rock aesthetics” with a mission to entertain and inspire.  Lucas, the cello player of the group, wrote a blog in 2011 sharing his music students’ response to his question “What does music mean to you”.  The responses are insightful and show the impact music makes on life.

I mentioned in a prior blog (Music Matters: Master Class) that I worked with a local nonprofit a couple years ago. During that time, I became aware of the Austin Classical Guitar Society.  Founded in 1990, ACG’s mission is “to inspire individuals in the communities we serve through musical experiences of deep personal significance”.

 A Story of Transformation shares the experience and growth one student through the power of music making.

My questions for you…

What does music mean to you?
How does music impact your life?

Some descriptive words for music to stimulate your thought include:

soothe, excite, relax, stimulate, meditate, calm, enlighten, frighten, give a feeling of foreboding, help you re-focus, invigorate, rejuvenate, stir your imagination, make you happy, lift your mood, restore, cure, heal, empower, stir, incite, lift your spirits, make you more alert, exhilarate, and bring about practically any emotion.  

Music Matters: Musicians & Athletes

Teaching and performing music stem from a similar background as coaching and athletics.  The best teachers are coaches and the best coaches are teachers. The goal for a coach or a teacher is to unlock potential.  Hard work, practice, desire to improve, self-discipline, willingness to learn from feedback, patience, and willingness to learn from setbacks are a few commonalities musicians and athletes share. The responsibility of teaching and performing music should extend beyond skill development to a  holistic/wellness perspective.  Associations, organizations, authors, broadcasters, and others all agree that musicians and athletes are much the same.

The Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) has partnered with Athletes and the Arts, “to better understand health, physical performance, and physical activity needs uniqueto performing artists”.  The MTNA journal American Music Teacher provides an annotated bibliography of wellness resources for musicians and teachers.  The full document of annotations is in the Resources section titled AMT Wellness.  Of particular interest would be a series of sources titled “Playing Healthy, Staying Healthy” located at the end of the document (pp.14-19). Randall Dick from Athletes and the Arts and John Snyder from Artists House Foundation presented a webinar, Athletes and the Arts: What Musicians Can Learn From Athletes, sponsored by the College Music Society.  This 40 minute webinar is available in the Resources section. 

Perform: NFL Coach Trains with Concert Pianist…a Journey of Athletes, Musicians, Coaches and Teachers (2011) published by NFL coach Paul Alexander is “dedicated to aspiring athletes, musicians, speakers, coaches, teachers, parents and their admirers”. Mr. Alexander states on his website that Perform is a book for “anyone interested in developing elite human performance”. There are 3 videos (less that 15 minutes total) embedded in the website that are well worth your time to view.  The perspectives shared are from the point of view as an athlete and a musician.

The Balanced Musician: Integrating Mind and Body for Peak Performance (2013) by Lesley Sisterhen McAllister utilizes research from athletics and music to outline techniques for success.  Anyone with an athletic or a musical background will see the similarities just from reading the 1stparagraph of the introduction.

Preview the book

The task of making great music requires the integration and development of both the mind and the body working together, with the body perceiving and adjusting to what is made real to it by the mind. Neither of these two elements is more important than the other, and they must be trained to work together in a balanced and holistic way. Among other things, the mind allows us toanalyze the structure and harmony of music and understand its style and character; of course, it also allows us to learn and memorize it. The body formsthe framework by which we can put what is in our minds into physical reality. It is only through the assimilation of these two areas that we can reach our greatest potential as performers of music.Our technique must be trained through practice so we can attain the highest level of kinesthetic ability, but ultimately it functions as the means to an end rather than an end in itself. Great artists evoke the meaning and depth in every piece in their repertoire through coordination and integration, finding new ways to illuminate and capture the essence of each work with every performance.

ESPN sports anchor and host Lindsay Czarniak podcast Players with Lindsay Czarniak began airing October 2018.  

Listen to her brief introduction to the concept of her podcast.

“In an intimate one-on-one setting, Lindsay Czarniak invites her guests, who also happen to be the biggest “players” in country music, to reflect on perhaps the only thing as important to them as music…sports! Join Lindsay as she leads her guests in conversation about the significance of sports in their lives and how that has impacted their personal journey, revealing more about the passions, motivations, and inspirations behind these artists”.

Reviewing the above sources, and others, we can find some commonalities that tie in with Blooms to Blossoms purpose.

Music & Sport
Social & IntegrativeTeamwork include aspirations of sharing common goals with      others, performing well in front of others, and for friendship and socialization with people of like interests. 
Self-EsteemExperience positive feelings about self, provides achievable goals—musical or athletic—that also contributed to feelings of personal satisfaction and well-being. 

Kinesthetic AwarenessSatisfy the need for physical movement or contact, and the development or refinement of physical and technical skills. It appears that both student musicians and student athletes appear to value and need the physical aspects of their chosen activity. 

Self-EfficacyMusicians and athletes share in the notion that they are talented and possess the necessary skills to succeed in music and in sports. The analyses of these statements indicate a preference for one’s own personal proficiency and ability to help oneself during any activity.

Health and wellness of musicians is becoming a salient topic. The recognition that performers are athletes creates opportunities to draw from the research ideas for training and education that extend beyond music making.  Not only could the performance level and ability improve but overall health of a musician improves.  Ideas explored translate to professional musicians, and those involved in recreational music making.

I have shared a variety of sources this week.  I hope you find some items of interest to you.  Crossing boundaries of music and sports touches many lives.  I encourage you to share this blog and these sources with others.

Music Matters: Master-Class

A couple of years ago through my work with a local nonprofit we hosted a master-class program (individual lessons with an expert in a group setting) for guitar students.  The mission of this nonprofit included performance, education, and wellness.  During the planning and preparation for the master-class program we considered the idea of how this program addresses the mission. Of particular interest was the connection between the impact of performance on education and wellness.  

Wagner (2005) supports the idea that a master-class offers a great learning opportunity for the students by stating that a “fresh perspective from a professional musician offers a priceless commodity and an unforgettable experience for students” (pg. 42).  

Music is a more potent instrument than any other form of education. Plato

Artists and audience can benefit from concentrated public coaching. A master-class program provides a guided view of learning and appreciating music.  We can learn a lot from a master class – how to practice, how to play, how to perform, how to listen, and how to make sense of a piece of music (Haddon, 2014, 2017; Hanken 2010, 2015; Long 2012). One master interviewed by Hanken (2010) when asked about accommodating students and listeners stated, “It is a master class when the teaching benefits the audience about as much as it does the student performing” (pg. 151).

Music is the art of thinking with sounds. Jules Combarieu

To provide a structure for evaluating the student experience of the master-class program the planning group identified a set of program goals aligned with wellness components.  

Spiritual Wellness:  Finding meaning in life events…a master-class can share and expand the knowledge base of students and audience about the internal meaning of the music beyond the notes.  Music playing and listening can establish peace and harmony in your life.   

Enjoyment of Music

Social Wellness:  Building relationships (teacher to student, student to student, teacher to audience, student to audience) enhances the interactive nature of a master-class.  

Sharing Thoughts/Idea with Peers & with Others, Ability to Collaborate with Others

Emotional Wellness:  Performing in a master-class can provide opportunities for performance in a more controlled setting and with a smaller group of similar minded peers which can lead to increased performance confidence.  

Self Esteem, Future Perspective of Self, Self-Worth, Confidence

Intellectual Wellness:  Engaging in a master-class allows students and audience an opportunity to focus on the learning about music, engaging in new ideas on style and structure of playing and interpretation of music from the group and individual perspective.   

Creativity, Decision-Making

Physical Wellness:  Observational feedback provided by the teacher, peers, and even audience members aids awareness of practice and performing techniques.  

Skill Development

Students provided feedback through the use of a retrospective pre-post method.  Lang & Savageau (2017) give a brief description of the method.

Instead of collecting data at the beginning and end of the program, the retrospective pre-post approach measures students’ learning only at the end by asking them to self-assess what they know from two viewpoints – BEFORE and AFTER participating. The responses can be compared to show changes in knowledge/skills.  

Below is a portion of the instrument developed.  It is possible to change the structure for your own use.  For example, to:

**evaluate a program you are developing
**provide insight and reflection on your own learning as a music student
**expand the learning of your students
**provide direction for your teaching

I wanted to share my experience from working with the nonprofit master-class program to introduce the idea of how our daily activities and hobbies can overlap with personal development and wellness.  Music can be more than playing an instrument.  We learn lessons through the experience of learning, playing, and listening to others.  

Think about hobbies or activities you take part in…how might this experience contribute to your learning and development.

Next week I will explore the idea that athletes and musicians are similar. 

My Purpose + Your Purpose = Our Purpose

At the end of my first blog I stated, “The initial series of posts will be from a broader scope to build a foundation of common thought.” Promoting the idea that integration of life and learning makes a difference guides my purpose. I would like to share some thoughts on how finding my purpose and you finding your purpose can blend together. I also asked, “Have you thought about how you learn?”  Your first thought when asked that question was to a structured school experience from your past.  However, learning also occurs inadvertently and accidentally. Clark (2015) in his Performance Juxtaposition site describes four types of learning and provides a graphic depiction charting the types of learning.

Formal learning: growth & development in a structured setting

Informal learning: growth & development in a more spontaneous manner

Intentional learning: growth & development through self-selected activities based on areas of interest; set objectives

Incidental learning: growth & development that occurs secondary to a prescribed set of objectives

Using a collegiate cross-country runner as an example shows how the learning settings overlap with various wellness components. Consider the following examples:

Formal learning comes from the coach who structures the practices, supplies guidance on running strategies, or suggests a model of shoe to wear based on conditions.

Informal learning comes from experiences the individual runner has during a competition such as gaining knowledge of competitors strengths and weaknesses.

Intentional learning comes from voluntary summer workouts alone or with an informal group.

Incidental learning comes from the experiences of winning and losing or achieving a personal goal/milestone.

Our collegiate cross-country runner can enhance his/her physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellness through these various settings. Our runner will even find that the wellness components overlap from setting too setting. There will also be a connection to nature (environmental) and could lead to a future career path (occupational).

So how does this example relate to finding your purpose and influencing your learning?

Check out Kelsey Landrum’s (2016) post titled:
What Running Means to Me, And Some of the Life Lessons It Is Teaching Me

Kelsey shared her personal running experience to show that life is a cumulative process. Making decisions, building, and maintaining relationships, and finding an insightful way of putting various life pieces together will create purpose and balance.

Combining the ideas of Clark and Landrum we can find a path to designing a personal well-being legacy and a strategy to live with a purpose.

Richard Leider (2015), author of The Power of Purpose, provides a simple formula to help your find your purpose.

By reviewing my gifts, passions, and values has resulted in my intent (purpose) to build a community to discuss the meaning of an integrated life. Together, our effort will result in the creation of a well-being legacy to live and to pass on to others.

Mark Victor Hansen, co-founder of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, identified 6 tips to create a balanced life. Some of his tips include:

Assess your life as it is now.
Make a conscious decision to become balanced.
Set goals in every area of your life.
Be willing to take the risk.

Let us consider the idea of our joint purpose:

My Purpose + Your Purpose = Our Purpose

The guiding questions for discussion would be…

Together how do we define our purpose for Blooms to Blossoms community?
How can we live and share our personal well-being legacy?