Tag Archives: FYI

Links that may just make your life a little better

Musical honesty: Ray LaMontagne

As someone who is crazy-nuts for passion and honesty in music (and in people, generally), I feel compelled to share this video with you.

Facebook friends may remember me going wild about the album God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise when I first heard it. If you’re familiar with Ray LaMontagne, you already know what I’m talking about and you’ve probably already pushed the play button, eager to experience the beauty of Ray.

If you’ve never heard Ray, well, you’re in for a treat. I’m pretty much opposed to categorizing most music into genres, so I’ll leave that up to you to decide, should you care to. What I hear are lyrics that tell human stories beautifully, loaded with concrete images and simple, raw honesty; beautiful instrumentation—the pedal steel and lap steel make me want to cry (for example, in the title track that starts at the 13-minute mark of the video); and a distinct voice for which I have no words. It has to be heard to be believed.

Take some time (a wonderful 55 minutes) to watch Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs bring artistic honesty and passion to Letterman’s stage:

If you like what you see and hear, check out Ray’s VH1 Storytellers show on June 10, to get to know Ray a bit better. You can be sure I’ll be recording that one.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Letterman video is no longer available, so if you missed it, I am truly sorry. Good news though: Here’s a link to the song he closed with when I saw him at Merriweather in  September 2011: “Like Rock & Roll and Radio.”  (And which left me with tears running down my face.) Like what you hear? Keep going through the clips from the VH1 Storytellers show!


Not what I wanted to write about

This past weekend, I went to see David Crosby and Graham Nash perform. And I am just dying to write about the experience! But, as timing would have it, I have a work deadline that is keeping me from doing that just yet. Writing, you see, takes quite a bit more time than many people realize, especially when you want to write well—and I’d like to write something eloquent and moving about the concert if I can, as it certainly deserves that kind of attention.

So, I had intended to not write a blog post today. Fortunately, reading takes a lot less time than writing, and as I was eating my lunch—I still am, actually—I clicked through the Facebook updates and stumbled across a blog. And I just had to share it with you.

The writer’s name is Dr. Kristin Shepherd, and the blog that I stumbled across is the one she’s writing for Yoga Journal’s website: “Beginner’s Mind.” But she also has a blog on her own website, which I highly recommend checking out.

Here are a few of the tidbits that spoke to me from her latest post, Everything I Need to Know I Learn from Theatre:

1. Truth is gorgeous. Trust that your truth is enough. Stop faking anything in the hopes that it’ll make you more substantial, more interesting, more charming, more successful. It doesn’t work.

5. Joy comes from committing to your choices, not from endlessly assessing the merit of those choices with your squirrelly mind, which will never be satisfied and which doesn’t know the first thing about joy.

7. Not knowing is all right. Often preferable.

8. You’ll be an idiot to yourself and others some days. Practice instant forgiveness.

But the previous entry—Who Are You?—was the one that pushed me to share the blog with you, my friends. The message, which brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart, is presented in a way that is amusing and fresh and rings with a resounding truth, at least with me.

So, while this is not what I wanted to write about today, it is definitely what I feel compelled to share.


Waiting (im)patiently

Earlier this week, I found myself in a situation that has become quite familiar over the past few years: waiting to deplane.

I was returning home from a business trip. After a full-day meeting and then waiting in the airport for my delayed flight, I used the two-hour flight to relax, reading a book and writing a little, not paying much attention to the time passing or the people around me. But as soon as we arrived at BWI, I noticed how antsy people got. It’s always the same. All of a sudden, everyone is absolutely desperate to get off that plane. It doesn’t matter if the flight is 90 minutes or five hours: the urgency doesn’t appear to set in until the wheels have touched ground. I started grinning. It’s possible the people around me thought I was insane, but that’s OK with me.

But really. It does seem a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? We can be patient for hours, for however long the flight takes—I assume because we know there’s nothing we can do about the length of time in the air. We know, after all, that we can’t flap our arms to make the plane go any faster. But once we’re back on solid ground, we seem to think we should be able to speed up the process. What’s taking so long to open the door? Can’t those people get their bags out of the overhead bin any faster? Come on! I need to get off this plane, now!

People get so frustrated in those few minutes there on the tarmac. I totally understand it. I’ve felt the same impatience myself. But once you realize how ludicrous it is, how the process is still completely out of your control, then the scene can become a source of amusement rather than frustration.

About a year ago, while on vacation, I bought a book called The Power of Patience. Considering myself a Type A perfectionist, I thought the book may be able to offer me some helpful ways to cope with my Type A-ness. And in case you’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m just not a patient person,” here’s a quotation from the book for you:

“The most important thing to know is that patience is something you do, not something you have or don’t have. It’s like a muscle. We all have muscles, but some people are stronger than others because they work out.”

What’s that mean? It means anyone can be patient, with practice.

So why should we practice patience? There are a lot of reasons: lower blood pressure, a more contented life, better relationships. As the book says, “Patience gives us self-control, the capacity to stop and be in the present moment.”  The book is loaded with very real examples of the role patience (or impatience) plays in everyday life, as well as in less ordinary circumstances, such as Nelson Mandela’s 27-year confinement. And so it is quite practical—easy to apply (or at least try to apply) to your life. There’s even a chapter with “twenty simple patience boosters.”

But being that I’m a person driven by logic almost as much as by emotion, understanding the “why” of something is often critical to my really “getting” it. And so one of the most significant tidbits I took from this book is this underlying idea: We get impatient when we wait—whether it’s in line at the grocery store or in the coach section of an airplane—primarily because at some point we decided that we shouldn’t have to wait for anything. Blame it on the invention of the automobile or the computer. Regardless, there’s no question that the speed of life has increased dramatically over the last century. But just because the things around you may usually be moving quickly doesn’t mean your happiness depends on that pace continuing, unhindered and uninterrupted.

A simple change of perception can make all the difference. When you realize that waiting is a normal—and, yes, even necessary—part of life, it takes on a whole new light. No longer is it this awful thing that you must endure, that makes you fume and grit your teeth. You may actually be grateful that you’re getting a break from all the hustle and bustle.

Ryan, M. J. (2003). The Power of Patience. New York: MJF Books.


Thank you, NPR

Who knew? Not me, until recently. But luckily, I have friends in the know.

On its website, NPR shares great videos of musical artists, videos you won’t see on MTV. Well, I can’t swear to that, since I haven’t watched MTV since probably the ’90s (whenever “reality shows” and other non-artistic time-wasters started getting more airtime than music videos). But I’m betting MTV won’t air Adele calmly sitting in NPR’s office and belting out three of her songs. This is a “Tiny Desk Concert” you didn’t want to miss. (Unfortunately, unless I was just experiencing a temporary technical snafu, it appears Adele’s video is no longer up for you to watch. But you can still hear the audio: click on the “Audio Only” link above the video screen.) You can, however, still see the Tiny Desk Concert from Iron & Wine.

And if you were one of the many people watching the Grammys saying “Who in the world is Esperanza Spalding?” you can listen to this 2009 Piano Jazz session with her. There’s interesting stuff about how she got started, and even better, you get to hear her play and sing.

The website also has a fantastic feature called “First Listen,” where new albums are available for listening, in full, for free, before they are released. I’m currently listening to the new Alison Krauss & Union Station album, Paper Airplane. Yesterday, I was listening to the new Paul Simon release, So Beautiful or So What. What is not to love about this?! (Both albums are great, by the way.)

So, if you’re a lover of music, check out NPR’s music website. You’ll be glad you did. And as I haven’t had time to explore the site fully, if you discover any site features that you love, please let us all know by commenting on this post. Thanks!


Contagious joy

If you haven’t already seen Matt dancing around the world, check this out. And if you have already witnessed it, what the heck, take a few minutes and watch it again.

The video: Where the hell is Matt? (2008), on YouTube

Watch the whole thing. Even though it’s all of four and a half minutes, it does build in intensity and emotional impact. And it will definitely change your day for the better.

The music: “Praan” by Garry Schyman

If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel compelled to have this song available to play whenever you need a boost of peace and joy, so I’ve provided a link to it on Amazon. (You can also get the song through iTunes.)

So now that you’ve just proven to yourself that joy is contagious, go out and spread some!

P.S. If you’re curious about Matt and how he ended up in all these places, check  out his website.