Tag Archives: Guitar

Motivational Soundtrack Part II

Posted on

After posting my motivational soundtrack yesterday, I decided to go to some of my hobby coaches and find out what songs motivate them. AND I took it one step further and asked each of them why they chose their songs. What you’ll read is sure to amaze you–and inspire you. Here are some of the answers I got:


Christopher Grady
(Guitar Lesson):
“I Turn My Camera On” – Spoon
“It’s nearly impossible to have that song come on and not move from a walk to a strut. It has all the swagger of Staying Alive but none of the cheesiness. Plus it makes every sidewalk feel like a catwalk.”

April Brucker (Ventriloquism):
1.” Causing a Commotion” – Madonna.
“This is because it reminds me the world is mine and the stars and sky is only the limit I make it.”

2. Glamorous Life-Fergie.
“It makes me know my dreams and the Hollywood life are within my reach.”

3. Stay-Madonna.
“It gets me going and it is a song I covered.”

4. Take Me Home-Lisa Lisa.
“Reminds me that I am worth only the best and to respect myself in business and in life.”

Jon Hanson (Downhill Mountain Biking):
“18 Candles” – The Sessions
“The song is from a mountain biking video called seasons with one of my favorite riders Matt Hunter. The video is like 5 years old, but any time I watch Matt’s part, I get stoked to ride.”

Nicholas D’Sent (Pilot LessoN):
1. “My Life” – Gwizz

2.  “I Believe I can Fly” – R. Kelly
“Because he said if I can see it then I can be it.”

Flynn Michael (Jedi Light Sabre Training & Stilt Walking):
“Heh, favorite inspirational song as a kid was High Hopes (Rubber Tree Plant) song, but as an adult, I’d say Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name Of.

Laura Fisher (Singing Lesson):
“Creator” – Santogold
This song has all of the wild, dark, inspiring energy I need to get me going any strange day I wake up and need some abstract coffee. The lyrics also give it that equally important layer of self-empowering wordwisdom that I need to toss me up on top of the world. a gleam of chorus:

“Me, I’m a Creator
Thrill is to make it up
The rules I break got me a place
Up on the radar
Me, I’m a Taker
Know what the stakes are
Can’t roll it back, it’s understood
Got to play our cards.”

Brandon Jacobs (Drumming Lesson):
“Rearview Mirror” – Assorted Animals
“I know that it is a little self indulgent to choose a song by my own band, but it is a song that does truly inspire me. Not only is it a testament to what I have accomplished with my band in New York City, being that it’s on our first self produced album recorded in NYC, the song itself has a great message.

“Isn’t funny how things always seem to seem/Oh the grass is much more green/as it disappears/through my rearview mirror.”

It’s a message of always looking forward, and even if you look back and it might seem better, it doesn’t matter because we always have to move forward towards something better.

That and it’s a kick ass song that’s catchy as hell. That doesn’t hurt either.”



Jason Schneider
 (Welding):
“Nightcall” – Kavinsky (featuring Love Foxxx)

(Excerpt from an amazing email Jason sent me when I asked him to name his motivational song and why–make sure to check out the doc he’s working on and more at JsWorks.Org)

“I first heard this song while watching the movie “Drive” with Ryan Gosling. I had just started my documentary, and in the beginning, it was going to be much more of an uplifting film. I hadn’t even thought about tackling any heavy issues / conflicts within myself, and wanted to show mostly the uplifting or “overcoming” aspects of my story / disability.

It sounds corny, but something clicked inside me when I heard this song sitting in that movie theater. The idea of the lonely driver, who’s essentially a good man, but has some dark demons he’s trying to hide from / escape, really resonated with me – because that’s how I felt about myself for most of my life (post accident).

I’ve always had a passion for music, and really identified with / attached personal meaning to various songs over the years, but the dissonant tone of the beat, coupled with the lyrics, just stirred something up inside me. It made me realize in that instance that I had to go places I hadn’t wanted to ever go before… push myself to explore all the negative feelings / thoughts I’ve ever had about who / what I was – and my “disability”- on camera.

There are things I have accomplished in my life that I should be really proud of – and some could look at it as the whole “overcoming” thing – but at the same time, I constantly feel like I haven’t accomplished enough, or pushed myself hard enough. I feel like these internal demons (thoughts / feelings) really weigh me down. But I realize now that many of those feelings come from the very thing I’ve been running away from (or chose not to face / explore until now). I don’t know if my internal conflicts have helped to drive me (no pun intended) all these years, or if they’re standing in my way of something bigger.

Throughout the process of my film I’ve played the song over and over as a source of inspiration. Every time I listen to it, it still gives me the same feeling / motivation to dive deep into uncharted territory within myself.

How to Relax Without Being a Lazy Bum

Posted on

After someone told me, recently, that I needed to rest–and to give myself a chance to relax, I laughed. And then I realized she was right–I’ve been on the go a lot. The problem is that when I think of relaxing, I think of the terrifying idea of wasting a day lying on a couch, legs dangling over the end, and a bag of chips within reach.

So I got to thinking what are good hobbies to do when you want to relax–but you don’t want to be a lazy bum? I came up with running, drawing, pottery, and dance. While running and dance may seem TOO active to be relaxing, I’ve learned that you can find ways to really “zen out” while doing even the most exhilarating of hobbies. (Lindsey Lewis over at MindBodyGreen even argues this feeling in the article “Why Meditation is Overrated” as she lists 9 activities you can definitely meditate on.)

I then began to wonder–what are other people doing to relax, but to also stay active both mentally and physically? So I took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and posed a question:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.19.59 PM

The results varied from activities like surfing, which is physical and can remove mental stress (unless of course you are terrified of that ocean like I am), to things I know I need to try– like painting and gardening which give the body a break but still exercises the mind a bit.

Here are some of the responses:

K.M.: “Gardening , it is relaxing and you can see results. Some are immediate but many are gradual little rewards of beauty for steady maintenance and patience. It helps the soul to work with your hands in the earth and with plants. Fresh air , sky and greenery. Also hiking. It’s the nature again, keeps things in life in perspective.”

Robert DeSanti: “I paint/draw pictures of dinosaurs, do tasks in bright colors. I do it cause it’s fun and makes me smile.”

His painting/drawing made me smile too .
Robert_Dino

Julia Ember Ricciardi: “Cooking/baking! Because there is always a delicious pay-off in the end!”

Rachel Miller: “Gardening. I love digging in the dirt and being part of the growing process of plants. Plus the added benefits of adding beauty to the outside space and growing your own food.”

Ashley Castle: “Walking through my neighborhood, wine tasting, journaling.”

 IMG_4885

 Adam Marland: For me, relaxing can mean a couple things. If I’m drained from a crappy work day or something, the goal is to check out mentally AND physically, and that means comfort food, beer, sweatpants, and movie marathon. If I want to relax physically but be engaged mentally, I just drive somewhere pretty and enjoy; a beach, a scenic overlook, whatever. The drive and getting out is as much the reward as the destination. In contrast, if I need to be engaged physically but not mentally, I find activity therapeutic; basketball if im in the city, but a hike or swimming hole are my favorites.”

Sarah Steeland: “Would have to be surfing for sure” (She even shared one of her awesome doodles to show)!

surfing sarah steenland

R.G.M.: “I love to hike around Turkey Mountain, a local spot with oodles of walking, biking and horse trails … just 3 miles from my house. And my favorite indoor hobby is photo editing. I can play with one pic for hours!”

Grant Ryan: “I have three said hobbies when I want to relax but not be lazy, the first is obvious, running – it might not sound like relaxing but its very zen to me, it clears my mind and eases my stress. No music, no phone, just a pair of sneakers and a road! The second is cooking, I love to create, and i find it artful and soulfully stimulating – it relaxes me in a different way, not so much zen as it is just adult play. Lastly I like to take a glass of red wine, and a new book and let my mind drift to worlds impossible – it might sound lazy, but I find it to be mental excersise and an escape from reality. I can literally go anywhere with the turn of the page. Wine isnt always necessary, but it definaltey relaxes me and it stimulates my creativity for hobby #2.”

Grant Ryan

Bekah Eaton: “Mudding!”

Emelie Samuelson:  “Slacklining, crocheting, or hiking.”

Joe Cicala: “I go to book stores and hang out in the cookbook section. Cooking at home is also relaxing. And at work when I make pasta and when I butcher and cure meat. That’s my zen time. I completely zone out and let my mind wonder.”

Jason Schneider: “I like to play Bass. I learn new songs and feel like I’m being productive/getting better at something, even though I’m just messing around playing music.”

A.M.: “WII Just Dance”

Hannah Brencher: “Is it possible to make gratitude into a hobby? If that be the case then gratitude has been my hobby for a while now. When I want to relax, but not be a lazy bum, I create care packages, and make cards, and just make things for people in my life that matter most to me. I roam the aisles of Target for little gifts or spend the afternoon writing letters “just because.” There is an indescribable feeling that comes from pouring myself onto people I love that never makes me feel lazy but leaves me feeling completely refreshed and relaxed. My hobby is also a remedy.”

PhotoCredTiffanyFarley (15)

Photo Credit: Tiffany Farley

Celeste Headlee: “I have a strong sense of guilt whenever I sit down to watch “Mad Men” or “Downton Abbey” because I can hear my mother’s voice in my head saying incredulously, “Are you just going to sit there?” So, I have a whole host of hobbies that I can do while I’m seated. One of my favorites is needlepoint and cross stitch and I especially love the complicated variety that take months to complete.”

Tammy Tibbetts: “Reading in Central Park, Yoga for Runners class at Jack Rabbit NYC, and watching Mindy Project with my friend Erin to name a few!”

Maitland Ward Baxter: For sure yoga. Pretzeling myself helps me de-stress. #theflexibleshallnotbebentoutofshape

How about you–What are YOUR favorite hobbies to do when you want to RELAX but don’t want to be a lazy bum?

Here’s one of my drawings from when I want to relax–but I don’t want to be a bum…

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.24.45 PM

School of Rock & Roll & Friends

Posted on

IMG_5012

I can’t echo myself enough when I say that the most intimidating moments of my year have not been when I was face to face with creatures of the sea in the shark tank—or in the moment before I was going to jump out of a plane. No, instead the most intimidating moments of this year have been when I have sat down—or stood—with a friend and taken a chance to learn their craft. It’s as if I don’t want them to think I suck—or that I am insulting their craft with how bad I am. But even they were beginners once too—and that’s the part I have to remind myself.

I recently had the chance to sit down with two of my good friends in New York City, on two separate occasions, and learn both of their skills—both of their full-time hobbies—and both of their passions.

I first sat down with Grady who taught me how to pluck four chords on a guitar, and I then sat down with Brandon who taught me how manage a loveable beat on the drums.

I was fortunate enough to meet Grady and Brandon who perform in a band together called Assorted Animals, when I first moved to the city. After getting invited to a party that they were both at, I slowly became more and more integrated into their group of friends, started going to their shows, and enjoying post-show chats and outings.

71511_715299107834_7460720_n                                                GRADY and ME 2010 Going Away Party

67259_715298883284_6598091_n                                                ME and BRANDON 2010 Going Away Party

After just a few months of living in Manhattan, I was happy to have found such good friends—talented friends.  Due to hectic schedules and the rush of New York City, we don’t get to hang out as much as I’d like, so this was the perfect opportunity to see and spend time with both of them.

As I sat down with Grady, I reminisced on just how lucky I was to have met him—to have this opportunity to learn from him. Patiently and perfectly, he described how to sit comfortably, how to hold the guitar, and how to relax my hands to make for better playing. I remember just once prior to this lesson picking up a guitar, in 7th grade music class, and being incapable of wrapping my head—and hands around the musical beauty.  But now, after less than just two hours, I had gotten the basic four chords down and Grady was playing along with me.  Appropriately, we were playing a slowed down version of “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.

374050_10100393311003534_1415106079_n

This past week, when I sat down with Brandon, my patience with the drum set, grew thin. Like trying to figure out a rubrics cube, I could feel myself growing frustrated: I couldn’t get my left hand to work with my right or my right hand to work with my right foot. I felt as though I was a shambles. I’d turn to Brandon and apologize for my inability—and he’d smile and say, ”It’s okay. Let’s just try again.” And so we did—again, and again, and again. “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,” I whispered to myself. “Right hand/right foot, right hand, left foot” and I continued this repetition until I was playing 2 measures—3 measures—4 measures, and at some point I lost count—at some point I lost myself in the music.  And even though we weren’t playing the Green Day hit, as I had with Grady, I still felt as though I was having the time of my life.

IMG_6259
Early in the drumming lesson, Brandon told me that this was his first time ever teaching drumming lesson. My response was simple, “Great! That means you are hobby hoarding as well. YAY!” After our lesson, I told Brandon he should continue giving lessons—that I really enjoyed his time and felt that I had learned a lot. I also told him that this year has given me a way to spend time with people that I don’t often get to spend time with due to harsh schedules and that I was grateful we could work something out. Brandon was grateful too.

On the earlier occasion when Grady and I left the studio, I smiled and thanked him immensely. He seemed just as pleased with this lesson as I did. And while walking toward the train, Grady turned to me and said, “I think I want to start teaching more lessons.” And soon after, I received a text message from him saying, “That was great fun and quite inspirational for me as well.”

My intimidation of working with friends was now gone. I could tell that this was just as much an experience for them –as it was for me.

And with Grady’s message I knew, the hobby hoarding—had done as I always hope it will—worked both ways.

228770_1609774177584_1835743_n                                  BRANDON & GRADY July 4, 2011: Courtesy Grady’s Facebook

Brandon and Grady perform in a band called Assorted Animals. Their keyboard/piano/vocalist Laura Fisher can be seen in one of my earlier posts giving me a singing lesson.

Check them out at www.assortedanimals.com

%d bloggers like this: