Tag Archives: Music and Musings Monday

Anti-Zen lesson 2

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When I wrote my first post on Anti-Zen I didn’t realize I had more bit of wisdom to share.

Today’s lesson is about feeling free to be yourself.

In Zen philosophy you should detach yourself from others’ opinions. As you allow yourself to be free you inspire others to be free.

Isn’t that lovely? It never helped me, not once.

I have writer brain. This means that I can get to a place where I am imagining all the different inner dialogs strangers could be having about me. Of course they care about me and what I’m doing. See how the universe spins? That’s me in the middle. Yep, right there.
So how did I overcome my fears? Well honestly I haven’t but I do have an anti-Zen saying that helps me.

No matter what I do, someone will hate it, think its stupid, or laugh. I can’t control this, but I also don’t have to live for that person because if I’m standing and watching others dance or on the floor getting my freak on (I have several friends who are now banning me from using this phrase BTW) someone will be judging me or wondering why it is I’m doing something. I can’t control this so I might as well have fun.

I must admit I really only have to worry about other writers. In conversations with my normal friends, i.e. non-writers, apparently they don’t stand in line at the grocery store and wonder why someone is wearing that outfit. They also don’t watch body language and create intricate relationships for strangers at restaurants.

So maybe my new anti-Zen philosophy should be, as long as there aren’t any writers nearby no one cares what you’re doing, so go and have fun. And if there are writers, have fun anyway you might inspire a character in their next novel!

Today’s music is another Eurovison Song Contest Song

High Maintenance Wife

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I am a very high maintenance wife. I’m not expensive, I just require a lot of time and attention. A LOT.


Anyway, one of the multitude of things my husband does for me is hide his finger nails. Not always. I’m fine with regular finger nails. However my husband is a landscaper. He designs and creates amazing Japanese gardens. In his work, Rod has to move boulders.


Frequently the boulders fight back, and his fingers and toes get squished. He’s even broken some, and inevitably one or more of his nails turns purple, then black, and then it falls off. I feel queasy even writing about it; it’s so gross.

So during the weeks it takes for his fingernail to heal my husband, being the amazing man that he is, will turn his hand the whole time so that I never see the utter grossness of his nail. How sweet is that? I can’t think of anything that I do for him like that. And yet every time his nail is that stomach churning purple color, he goes about his day, handing me things and talking to me and never once do I have to see his nail.

Rod is awesome and shockingly willing to put up with all of my quirks. I think quirks sounds good, less pathetic right?

How are you high maintenance? Come on there has to be something? Please, someone, anyone ….

One of Rod’s favorite song “The Maid Who Sold her Barley”

S&M Barbies

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So some of you might remember the tribute to my son when he turned 17. Well, my daughter also deserves a post because she’s very entertaining and the opposite of my son. This makes parenting interesting since I never have to deal with the same issues twice.


Tala is amazingly creative, she writes rockin’ poetry, she loves to create stories, and just like her mom, she is a total pantser. This drives her teacher, who wants her to plot, insane.

Her awesomeness doesn’t stop there, she sings, too. I placed her for voice lessons with a college student who is earning his doctorate in vocal performance. She plays the piano and composes her own songs. She takes musical theater class, and she likes to design clothes.


We did buy her a sewing machine but we need to get her sewing lessons. So right now her favorite medium is duct tape. Yes, duct tape, which she uses to make what I call S&M Barbies. She doesn’t know what S&M means, thank goodness. She wraps her dolls in a variety of duct tape which looks like vinyl S&M gear. It’s hysterical and bit worrying.

Tala is great, but I won’t lie: I am equally and excited and scared of what comes next for her and us.

And in honor of Tala one of her favorite Bollywood songs

Alica’s OCD tips for Holiday Happiness (pat. pending)

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By now most of you have gotten all of the holiday decorations put away, new gifts have found homes, and at least one credit card statement has shown up in the mail; you may or may not have been brave enough to open it yet.

One thing I feel safe betting on is most of you have vowed to do things differently next year. But how are you going to do that? What can you change to make the next holiday season better and do you really need to think about it now?

I have become one of those people who shops for gifts year round, mostly because I am addicted to teefury.com they have one-of-a-kind tee shirts. A new one each day and only for the day. So if I see something that is perfect for my sister I have to buy it right then, or it’ll be gone.

Tee shirts might not be your thing, but there are simple things you can do now that will make next year’s credit card bills less painful.
If you are crafty, start now. I’ll be picking a new pattern for knitted gifts and start working on them now so I have plenty for next holiday season and I’m not up at 3am knitting as fast as I can while watching a marathon of Say Yes to the Dress.

If you have storage space start buying things as you see them. Would your cousin love that book? Your son that dinosaur? Your husband that new bedroom toy? Go ahead and get it now. I have a storage box I tuck gifts into as I get them. And if dinos have been replaced by robots by next year, give it to another child on your list or donate it to one of the many toy drives.

“But I don’t have storage space,” you wail. Fear not I have a plan for that too. Gift cards. No, you don’t have to give them gift cards as gifts, but buy gifts cards to the stores you shop at most for the holiday and spend them instead of using your credit card. This is great for those of us who don’t save well. Tuck them in a safe place that you’ll remember. Every time you go to one of the big chain stores pick up a gift card to the place where you shopped the most this year. Me, I’ll be colleting Amazon gift cards. If you’re worried about your money tied up in gift cards you can’t use, buy Visa gift cards.

I know thinking about the holidays now doesn’t feel right or takes the fun out of the season, but wouldn’t it be great to have the stress of gift shopping done by Dec 1st so you could actually enjoy all the parties?

For those of you who have vowed to “do things different” I encourage you to try some of my tips, a little bit of time and money now could mean a huge difference next holiday season.

While searching for a song I found that the 2012 Eurovison song contest has started!!!! I’m so excited, so I’ll post favorites, and weird songs, and whatever catches my fancy. Here is Switzerland’s entry this year. What do you think?

What Does Your Food Tell Us About You?

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Last night my son and I were snacking on Flaming Hot Cheetos with Lime. I didn’t have any cream cheese to dip them in, so while they were good, it wasn’t the perfect snack. Recently my son switched from a self-paced, half-day charter school full of kids who couldn’t cope with regular high school. to a private college prep school. It’s an interesting story, maybe someday I’ll post it here.:)

As we munched, I asked Logan if the kids at his school ate hot Cheetos. He snorted and said “No.” I was surprised because at the group home hot Cheetos are like crack. The kids will do almost anything for them, even behave well for relief staff.

When I asked about his old school, Logan said the vending machine had four slots for hot Cheetos. This started me wondering How much does the food we eat tell about us? My food has changed over the years, including vegetarian, vegan, preggy cravings, and now vegetarian and gluten free. I don’t know how much my food tells about me any more. Maybe there is some research about upbringing, whether you fell on your head, and the phase of the moon at your birth that makes you more likely to become vegetarian.

As I’ve worked at the group home I have been introduced to hot Cheetos with cream cheese or avocado which you scoop out of the rind with the Cheetos, sour cream in spaghetti, and Mexican candy, a mix of chilies and sweet.

I took my son, who does eat meat, to get Sonoran hot dogs. These are hot dogs wrapped in bacon and covered in beans, salsa, onions, cheese, and avocado. He fell in love with them, and really why not? Yet, it still isn’t something everyone in Tucson eats. It’s not served in the Mexican restaurants in predominantly white areas, it a Mexican/Mexican food. And why are these so different?

Have you even gotten to go to a restaurant that caters to its own people? In high school I had several friends who were Chinese, with parents from China, and they would take me with them to Chinatown. The food we would get was very different then anything I had ever eaten at an American- Chinese restaurant. The flavors weren’t as salty or sweet, the textures of the foods were different, and I’ll admit it took me a bit to get use to the more chewy rice noodles, but they are really good.

What does your food and drink tell about you? Could someone go through your cupboards and figure out how you grew up? Ever tried Flaming Hot Cheetos with Lime? If not, trust me, you want to eat them with cream cheese.

Today’s song is from Dhoom 2 and preformed by the amazing Aishwarya Rai

Being My Own Best Friend

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In the coming year one of my goals is to be treating myself as I would my best friend. Not only is my inner dialog full of ugliness, but I don’t care for myself very well. If my best friend were allergic to wheat, I would never serve it to her. I would make sure there were treats around she could eat. A pretty glass candy jar like the kind my Grandma has full of hard candies, ginger candies, and really dark chocolate, so she could have a sweet treat but not be tempted to eat a bunch of them. If there were something tempting, I would hold her hand and remind her that her health is important and together we could get through these few minutes.

Yet I give into wheat temptation all the time, leaving myself tired, headachy, and sick.

If my best friend were trying to lose weight, I would serve her healthy, yummy foods. I wouldn’t cover things in cheese or stock quick heat-’em-up foods in the house when I know she’s so busy that they’ll be a temptation. I would support her any way I could. Making salads, or making sure there are leftovers from healthy dinners, and definitely encouraging her to go to bed early so she feels like working out in the mornings. But I don’t do these things for myself.

If my friend wanted to take a class, or needed new clothes, or a vacation, I would help her go through the finances and schedule and figure out how to make it happen. I would make these things a priority. Because her happiness is a priority. Yet mine isn’t.

I would NEVER EVER tell my best friend she is worthless, ugly, lazy, a failure, or stupid. If she didn’t get something done, or fell behind in her routines, I would smile and remind her that we all do these things. Together we would take a deep breath and I would ask her, what one thing, just one, can you do to help yourself get back on track. This is great advice from a dear friend of mine. Then I would remind her of all the good and positive things she has done, and how much she has in her life to be grateful for, and what wonderful things are coming up in the future. Do I talk like that to myself? No of course not. I berate myself and say nasty things driving my depression deeper. Why do we do this? Who taught us to do this? And how do I keep my kids from following this pattern?

In 2012 I’m going to treat myself like I’m my best friend. Anyone want to join me? What five steps could you take to care for yourself as if you were caring for your best friend?

I’m going to-
1. Write a gratitude journal everyday.
2. Make myself that candy jar.
3. Make healthy yummy foods.
4. Get enough sleep so I can take proper care of myself.
5. When I’m feeling upset or craving something I’m going to write down, Right now I feel _______. This will pass. I will take care of myself as soon as I can. Until then I will do __________.
I’ve used this before, and it really helped.

In the spirit of things that make me happy boy bands- today’s is from England McFly “The Heart Never Lies”

Surfing Life, crap it’s another wave!

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I used to think that achieve balance was like walking a tightrope. I did everything I could to get all my ducks in a row. I made charts, lists, graphs, and so many schedules I could have ran the entire world, if the world worked that way, unfortunately it doesn’t.

No matter how much effort it put in or how many different colors I use in my schedules, there is nothing I could do to make my world be static enough to find and achieve balance.

Balance requires flexibility, strength, humor, and Matrix like reflexes.

My husband’s new favorite quote is “The wave is coming: are you going to let it pound you or are you going to surf?”

I am trying to figure out how to surf. I’m not gifted with this level of flexibility. Have I mentioned I like all my ducks in a row? But I am getting better at this. One thing I do is avoid over planning. Instead of a schedule I have a list of what I need, want, and hope to get done. This creates a basic form, a surf board, to help me guide myself and family through each day. I breathe and take things as they come as best as I can.

While I am better about letting stuff go, those things I’m still holding onto, those few ducks I have super glued in place, when those are messed with, when my attempts at balance don’t work, well then you get pouting, bitchiness, and another moment of anti-Zen.

Today however I’m surfing and in my mind I look very graceful and hot too!

And for today music I have Seth Lakeman “White Hare” I don’t think I’ve posted this song yet. I adore him and if I lived in England I would so be a groupie.

Passive Aggressive Gifts.

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Do you ever feel like the gifts you’re given are more of a passive aggressive snub then a present? Of course there’s the fattening rich food when everyone knows you’re dieting. The heavily perfumed soaps and lotions with a note, “So you’ll smell sweet all the time.” What does that mean? you think, as you sniff yourself. Or the gift certificate to “their” stylist when you’ve never shown any interest in their hair, at all, ever.

All of these are true passive aggressive snubs, but it is gifts to children that the real passive aggression can come through.

Messy gifts. Your three year old was just given a huge set of paints. Is this someone trying to encourage their creative side of your child or do they want to ruin your carpet?

Toys with small pieces. Your slightly OCD boy has been given a toy with lots of small pieces, many of them clear. You know have to check every dust pan and vacuum bag for missing pieces. Is the giver hoping to drive you insane?

Toys that make noise. I shudder even thinking about these. Now there are two levels: ones with batteries and ones that the child can make noise on continuously. The fire truck with real sirens that screech any times it’s moved, day or night. My eye is twitching just thinking about it. But batteries can be removed. Don’t let the giver win! Take those damn things out and just keep “forgetting” to buy more, never keep a stash of batteries at home, ever. After a bit, if you’re lucky, the child will forget it made sounds and just enjoy the toy. Then you win and the giver loses! Yes!

But what about the toys that make noise without a battery? The rattles, drums, rain sticks, and recorders? What then? Well it depends on the age of your child. Given to a child under six those, are weapons designed to drive a parent over the edge. What exactly did you do to the givers to make them hate you so much? An older child can be taught to play with those outside or in their rooms.

You can tell when the giver really loves you and is trying to encourage your child’s musical side. My parents gave my daughter a key board for Christmas a few years ago and sent headphones along that plug into it so we never have to hear the hours of practicing. This is how I know my parents love me.

So, as you buy gifts this year stop and think what message are you sending? Have you ever received a passive aggressive gift? Have you ever given a passive aggressive gift? Are you one who hunts for the nosiest child’s toy to give to that “special someone”?

For today’s song I give you Loreena Mckennitt – The Holly and The Ivy

LUSH the key to holiday bliss

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Today I am going to save you all frustration and harassment of finding the perfect gift for whatever holiday you celebrate. LUSH is the answer. LUSH is a small company which makes a variety of amazingly wonderful bath goodness by hand.

LUSH is the perfect gift for your family and friends who are: environmentalists, travelers, stressed, divas, and teenage girls. YES. Teenage girls love LUSH.

Allow me to show you why LUSH is so awesome. I only need one product: shampoo. LUSH has two forms of shampoo. liquid and solid. Their solid shampoos are perfect for those concerned with the environment. There is no plastic bottle or other damaging packaging. The traveler will love the solid shampoo because it won’t spill in the suitcase. The variety of natural scents will appeal to those who need stress relief, the divas who want pampering, and the teens who change their mind about their favorite scent on a daily basis. Both the liquid and solid shampoo have rich lather and leave your hair clean and lightly scented.

LUSH’s other products suit a variety of people, too. Our environmentalist and travelers will love the solid conditioner, soaps, and lotions. There is another line of products they call body butters, and you use them after you’re soapy in the shower. My favorite is the Buffy bar, it exfoliates as it moisturizes, and it smells divine. Convenient metal reusable tins can also be purchased to store your LUSH products for easy storage and transport.

Don’t worry, those stressed and in need of pampering, the divas who demand pampering, and the teens on your list haven’t been forgotten. There is a huge variety of bath jellies and bath bombs which scent, bubble, color and/or glitter the water. Lip scrubs polish the skin of your lips, then because LUSH is awesome, you can lick it off. They make the scrub from sugar and nature flavors. There are lip balms, perfumes, and a ton of other delectable items to choose from.
Wait, don’t cower in fear at the magnitude of choices, LUSH is here to help. You can go to one of their many stores through out the world. I love their staff, always so nice and eager to share with you their newest product by giving you samples. I love getting free stuff 🙂

You can also go to their website LUSH. They have a gift finder button. Just put in whom you want to buy a gift for. There are nine different choices including Secret Santa and kids. Then you pick a price range: under $25, $25-50, or over $50 (you can use the last one for me 🙂 And TA-DA! The perfect gift will appear on your screen ready to be shipped right to you or the lucky recipient.

I unfortunately don’t have a LUSH near me, and the body bar I adore melts at body temp. Having stuff mailed to me is a challenge, living as I do in the desert. Even in the winter, temps can be too high for safe mailing. So I drive to my closest LUSH. The fact that it’s two hours away should tell you how much I adore their products. So please save yourself this holiday season, go and check out the awesomeness that is LUSH, and yes I will create a twelve step program for next year once you’re all addicted.

Something else that makes me happy- Asian boy bands. I don’t know why, but I love them. I don’t think I’ve shown this one before- I really need to start a list.

Create Diversity Tip Eight: It’s okay to give your characters flaws

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Create Diversity Tip Eight: It’s okay to give your characters flaws

Sometimes to prove that we aren’t prejudices we will make perfect minority characters. Perfect characters are boring! It is our job as writers to torment our characters. I do not mean having your black female in a tizzy over going to Yale or Harvard and her loving supportive Leave it to Beaver parents smiling in the background.

I’m not saying your black woman can’t go to those schools, because of course they do, but give them some real issues to deal with. It’s even okay to give real life issues. As I’ve mentioned before Native American’s have a problem with diabetes. This is a fact. Not all NA have diabetes, but it is a concern among many. So add it to your story. It doesn’t have to be a big issue, maybe they are careful with what they eat, or maybe it is a huge issue for them and a driving plot in your book. It’s your choice.

We all have problems to deal with: money, health, education, drugs, alcohol, gangs, etc. We all worry. We all encounter different things in our lives. Your characters need to have some of these same experiences.

Jewish people are often encouraged/pressured to marry someone of their religion (as are many from devout religious families). Not all Jewish people face this issue, but it doesn’t mean you’re stereotyping to make it an issue your character has to deal with.

Let go of being PC and create well rounded, interesting character that you torture.

To mark the end of my tips for creating diversity I give you the Wicked Boy Ballet Company, they are dancing to Smells Like Teen Spirit preformed by Scala. I think it’s a great example of creating diversity.