I Never Keep It Simple - A Dream In Which I Met Paul McCartney 

In case you haven't heard, I'm moving . . . AGAIN.  It seems like most of my life has been a long series of wanderlust (or as I like to call her, wanderslut).  This time around, it really is for personal reasons and by that, I mean, it's not just for my own personal love of adventure and new scenery.  Family matters have called me to Greenville, South Carolina and I'm excited for the chance to live in the Deep South again.

What I'm not excited about is packing all of my stuff and doing some declutter.  Anyone who knows me well has heard me lament at the amount of junk I own.  Marie Kondo in her book "The Life Changing Joy of Tidying Up" promotes the idea that you should only keep what brings you joy.  But what if, while simultaneously complaining about the clutter, everything you touch brings you joy?

So I'm going through the house evaluating every item and I have discarded a few things - a chipped mug, a sweater with missing buttons and a book I recently finished.  I'm also going through old notebooks - yes, the ever-present pile of my incessant ramblings and attempts at songs, novels, short stories, and essays that never got off the ground.  While I've always been a fan of keeping these things around for "some day," I realize that all of this paper is just taking up room in my life.  I'm ready to make some new room so I can attract new opportunities and to that end (gasp) I've been throwing away some pages out of my notebooks. In the process, however, I'm finding some pretty amusing stuff    and I thought it would be fun to include it here on my blog.  

It would be nice to know exactly when some of these notebook entries were made, but I often fail to date things - or I put the month and date, but I don't put the year.  So in the next few weeks as I go through some of these notebooks, get ready - we're going on a journey through my mind, starting with this funny dream I had about Paul McCartney a few years ago.....

     The world keeps spinning on this beautiful mid-January morning.  The events of our lives are foreshadowed, no buried, by the oppressive below zero cold.  I have found my pink notebook,* but one more day in this one so I can have a big, open space to write.**

    I dreamed before I woke up the first time that Paul McCartney played at my parents' church as part of the Mass.  We were all standing at the end and singing Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da like it was a religious hymn.  I gradually made my way up to the front row so that when he played a set after church I had a great seat.  He did this very showy thing where he had a piano he could hold in his arm and play at the same time and also slide down on the floor with, kind of the way bass players do.  And at the end of the whole thing I told him how amazing he was and that he was my favorite and how we had seen him in Los Angeles at Dodgers Stadium.  I didn't want an autograph, but then I saw all of these little kids with pieces of paper and I thought I'd better get one for Richard.  

   So I had to borrow a little white slip of scrap paper.  I left the church a little disappointed because my mom and sister were long gone and I didn't have a ride home.  I had that sort of letdown you have when you meet someone famous and they don't "connect" the way you had hoped they might and I was second-guessing everything.  Also, I was annoyed at how everyone in town was so unenthusiastic and I was walking down the steps and looked at the paper with his signature on it.  There was a chemistry diagram with electrons, neutrons and rings and a teacher's note that said: "Keep it simple."  Below that, Paul McCartney had written "I never keep it simple" and signed his name.  After that, I woke up and had a hard time falling back into the amazingly deep sleep I had last night

*I'm always losing my notebooks and then finding them again - another reason why the dates are hard to figure out

**I had just started this notebook and I love the opportunity of blank pages

The Value of Piano Lessons 


Sometimes it’s hard to believe the number of years I’ve actually been playing the piano, which is well over twenty because I started when I was just four and a half years old.  While I don’t remember the exact reason I wanted to learn the piano, I know it had to do with attending one of my sister’s piano recitals and the fact that my babysitter at the time also taught lessons. We had an old beat-up spinet piano in our basement and I used to bang around on it. I guess that was enough “natural inclination” for my mother to enroll me in lessons.   

My first lessons are a hazy memory of not really knowing what I was doing, but I remember loving the little dancing elf illustrations that accompanied the notes in my vintage secondhand John Thompson “Easiest Piano Course” book.  I remember that I was supposed to curve my fingers when I played and I wasn’t supposed to look at them, but I always did.  A lot of times I guessed at the notes and there was always a lot of going back to the beginning of a song and starting over.  For most of my lessons, I barely practiced and my poor, patient teacher, Linda, was a saint for continuing to teach me. 

The summer before I started third grade was the first my parents allowed my sister and me to stay home alone.  We spent a lot of time watching daytime television hosts, eating air-popped popcorn because we weren’t allowed to use the stove and swimming in our above-ground pool.  Out of sheer boredom I started playing the piano more.  One day I went through all of my old piano books and pretended to have a “recital.” I acted out different characters and had them announce their songs before playing them.  I even got up and bowed to a fake audience. My sister must have been outside and not heard me talking to myself or I’m sure she would have accused me of being a weirdo. But it was on that afternoon after almost five years of lessons that everything finally clicked.Suddenly, I knew what the notes were and how the songs were supposed to sound!  In just a few short years after that, I was playing actual classic music compositions and not the adaptations of these classical pieces that were often in the music lesson books I used.  When I graduated from high school, on a whim, I decided to take some music classes and eventually declared music as one of my majors. 


In my case, the advantages of taking piano lessons are obvious, since I went on to become a singer-songwriter, but there are countless advantages to taking lessons at a young age.  In fact, there are countless advantages to learning the piano at any ageand before you say, you’re too old, I can give you several examples of individuals I know who started learning in their thirties, forties and fifties who went on to become very good piano players! 

While there are various instruments one can learn, I think piano is the easiest because it does not require complex coordination the way learning guitar or a wind instrument does.  All it takes is getting your fingers to do what you ask them to, without having to worry about breath or developing callouses too!    

The obvious advantage is that when you learn to play the piano in a classical setting, you learn basic music theory.  This includes how to read musical notes, including their letter names and rhythm types.  Music theory is also how notes are put together to make up chords and encompasses the actual structure of songs (verses, choruses, bridges, etc.).  All of these are transferable when a person goes to learn another instrument and for many major artists, piano was their first instrument.  Learning piano can also help with learning how to sing because it trains the ear to hear how notes are put together.  

Besides the obvious advantage of learning music theory, learning music offers the following benefits: 

  • Improved small hand eye coordination 
  • Pattern recognition 
  • Counting and math skills 
  • Helps with language development and expression 
  • Focus 
  • Goal setting 
  • How to practice 
  • Dedication and commitment to a craft 

Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have awesome teachers as I did who will let you explore different musical genres as you learn to play, you will develop a lifelong love of many different types of music too! 


         As we all know, nothing comes easy.  Learning anything takes time and patience and it takes practice.  Full disclosure: as a former piano teacher, I have to say there is nothing more annoying than students who show up week after week with bare minimum practice or no practice at all.  One simply can’t move forward if the proper steps aren’t taken and the proper foundations aren’t built.   

         Perhaps the ancient Latin statement Repetitio set mater studiorum (repetition is the mother of all learning) says it best.  If you want to get good at the piano (or anything for that matter), you have to continually show up, make the mistakes, correct those mistakes and build on your strengths.   

         What are the best ways to practice?  While there is no one-size-fits-all method to practice, these are my general guidelines to help make rehearsals go smoothly: 

  • Make it a point to work on the piano every day - even if it’s just for ten to  fifteen minutes at a time (a great way to accomplish this is by setting a                            timer before you sit down to practice). This helps to build consistency and prevents the feeling of starting all over every time you sit down to the                              piano 
  • Eliminate distractions - shut off televisions and radios, place cell phones on silent, ask others to leave the room if possible 
  • Always start slow and then work up to playing fast 
  • If you make a mistake in a certain spot in a piece of music, don’t go all the way back to the beginning of the song and start over - really focus on that                       part of the song where the mistake happened and fix that. Otherwise, you’re going to get really good at the parts you’re really good at and never                             get good at the parts with which you’re struggling.  If you’re really struggling, take a short break and come back to it.  When you can do that                           hard part really well several times in a row, call it quits for the day so that you end on a good note (pun intended). 
  • Lastly, Have FUN!  If you or your child are just starting to learn, don’t him expect him or you to be Mozart overnight. Just enjoy the journey and all of the little steps. Also, look for an enthusiastic teacher who is strict on the fundaments (i.e. doesn’t let anyone move on until they’re truly ready), but has an enjoyable, supportive teaching style that incorporates a spirit of play into the lessons. 


For me, learning to play the piano has been one of the most influential experiences in my life.  Not only is piano a major part of my career, it has become part of my spiritual practice as well.  I am grateful that on a bad day (or a good day), I can sit down at the keyboard, open myself up and just play and write music in way that for me sometimes actually feels divine.  I hope that you’ll consider learning the piano or encourage your children to do so!   

         I’d love to hear your thoughts on learning the piano - did you take lessons as a child?  What was your favorite part about it.  With what did you struggle?  What questions do you have about your child starting lessons?  Are you scared to learn and why? Be sure to leave a COMMENT!

A Day of Reflection  

Yesterday, was my grandmother’s wake and today is her funeral.  She was my last living grandparent - I never knew her husband, my Grandpa Rex, because he passed away before I was born.  My grandmother, Margaret Mausser, died in 1989 and my grandfather, Bill Mausser, died when I was 18.  Grandma Gertie lived to be 96.  She lived a full life, with plenty of adversity, but for the most part a positive attitude.  Her experiences were varied and looking at photos during the wake yesterday it was wonderful to see how broad and genuine her smile was.  When she was happy she was truly happy. 

I told my husband last night that when I find myself crying, it’s not only from a sense of sadness at losing my grandmother, but it also  is from a sense of loss of memories of an entire generation. These are the last of those that had the Old World values of their Turn-of-the-Century immigrant parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who came to this country and really built it during the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Opulence.  The Greatest Generation, as they’re known, had a Jack of All Trades of mentality.  They grew up in an age when many people still used real horses for farm labor and clothes were sewn as opposed to being bought from the store.  They knew how to grow their own food, prepare their own food and store their own food.  If something was broken, they knew how to repair it and didn’t just go to the store and buy a new one.  Their families were incredibly important - their children their greatest treasures - not a new house or cars.  God and church were an irrefutable part of life and I think there was a greater belief in something bigger than themselves and the material world we live in now. 

Life was a struggle, but everyone was in it together and the goal was to enjoy the little things and the things that truly mattered - relationships with others and meaningful experiences.  I’m not saying EVERYONE believed this or lived it (my Mausser grandparents, for example, definitely liked their stuff) but most of the people I know from this generation seemed to live by a code of simplicity that seems to be lost in our high-speed, high-expectation, high-strung society. 

As I reflect on my grandmother’s life, it reminds me to step aside now and then from the mad rush and make sure to develop strong relationships, both with others and my higher power.  I want to learn more practical skills so I can do more things for myself  and be of greater service, developing community as I do.  Perhaps most importantly, I want to be better about smiling through it all….

Turn This Year Around Blog Series 


I just returned home from a show and decided I really need to write since it is July 1 (it’s now 12:19 a.m.) and, as my husband Richard and I discussed yesterday afternoon, this represents the fact that the year is half over.  Have I accomplished anything I set out do????  The answer is no, but there is still a chance to “turn this year around” and that’s why I’m creating this blog series.  The purpose is to make some kind of public proclamation to move forward with the goals I set on January 1.  I say goals because I really do mean GOALS, not resolutions.  Resolutions don’t work, everybody knows that - but goals are another story.  So in order to “turn this year around” I have a number of tasks to undertake.  The first task is to actually find my goals (identify), review them, seem if they’re still relevant (evaluate) and if necessary, create new ones (change).  Then I need to figure out what is keeping me from moving forward with those I set and reset any that need to be modified.  After that, it’s just breaking these goals down into smaller projects and tasks (strategy). 

Without even reviewing anything, I can already admit that one of the biggest reasons I’m not completing my goals is because I don’t regularly review them.  I know this is something I need to do EVERY DAY because, well, out of sight out of mind.  A few years ago I read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and this was one of the biggest pieces of advice.  Paraphrased, it goes like this: create a written statement of how much wealth you want to create and your means of achieving it and read this statement every day.  I definitely have not been doing that. Most likely because I’m not doing this, I’m also allowing myself to become distracted.  It feels like forever since I completed an actual project and I don’t want to be one of those people who flits about from one thing to the next. 

I also lack routine.  As an artist, there is this part of me that is so completely scatterbrained and I use the excuse that I thrive on variety and I feel dead if things become too mundane, but this approach to life hasn’t exactly resulted in great results, so perhaps it’s time to create a different plan. 

Lastly, I’m just a messy person.  I have too much stuff and feel a strange compulsion to use things up rather than just getting rid of them or letting them sit right where they are.  For years, I’ve attempted to use up everything I have - by that I mean, go without buying a new pen or notebook until everything is used up and read every book I own before purchasing a new one or taking one out of the library but it hasn’t worked, so I want to figure out a way to let the compulsion go. The compulsion is the major reason I start a new project before finishing an old one.

It’s late.  I’m exhausted.  My 96 year old grandmother died this week and I have been doing a lot of reflection on her life and the lessons she passed along to me.  I hope to use these lessons in the next six months to grow and really make something of my ambitions that will make me proud and would have made her happy to know her influence resulted in something good.  The wake is tomorrow and I know it will be emotional, so I’d best get some rest…. 

A note to end on: 

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” - John F. Kennedy 

(read this tonight in Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto) 

Being a nonconformist means not doing what everyone else does and for me right now, this means the mundane things that most people do that keeps them from their true dreams - things like watching television, eating bad food, spending too much time on social media (guilty as charged), and resisting exercise when I know it has such a positive impact both physically and mentally. 

This quote also makes me think of a Bible verse I read the other night: “. . . make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perserverance; and to perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”  (2 Peter 5-7 NIV).  That’s a tall order, but I know it’s entirely possible with the right plan!

The most frustrating Hotel experience in a while 

 Hotels.com would not let me put this entire review on their website, but I thought it was so clever that I needed to share… A few nights ago I was in a hotel room with construction going on below me! And as bad as that was, nothing is more frustrating than trying to get work done and not being able to because of terrible Internet service.  I'm not just trying to complain - I actually enjoyed writing the review and simply want to share it as a good creative writing exercise! I hope you enjoy it and if you see me and want to know which hotel it was I will be glad to tell you…


This is one of the most frustrating hotel stays I have ever had.  I am an independent touring musician so on my downtime I try to get work done which means I need good internet service (updating my websites, emailing venues etc.).  The internet service here is 1992 dial-up slow and even though I was told it would work GREAT in the lobby, I can't get the internet to work here either.  I have to use my phone as a hotspot instead, zapping into my data plan.  In fact, the internet is so bad here I can barely leave this review.  

The rooms are nice enough - they are comfortable and clean for the price, though I just heard someone complaining that there were no towels in their room. Most of the lower-priced hotels in Taos are a little 1972 which adds to their charm - unless you need internet access. This place could still use some work.  The tiles in their pool area are chipped and cracked, I overheard someone complaining that the ice machine was broken, and the landscaping looks like something from a Quentin Tarantino film.   

They offer a free breakfast in their cute little kachina cafe or whatever but I have been unable to eat there because of other commitments - namely going to a cafe where I can get internet access. 

Service here is okay.  Last night, I had to listen to two men on spring break get into an argument worthy of an episode of "Cops" about one guy leaving the other guy and going on the town without him while he was paying the bill all night.  The walls are thin: I heard the whole thing - and when I called the front desk to complain, the clerk said she'd "get right on it" but these two bozos continued their tirade for another forty-five minutes, ultimately ending with one guy exiting by slamming the door very angrily.  I later heard him in the parking lot complaining about how he could not get his anger management app to work because of the poor internet service. 

The Dreaded Hotel Breakfast 

Last summer while I was on the road I found myself writing several journal entries based on my experiences at the free continental breakfasts some hotels so gloriously pride themselves upon.  Just this morning, I was having a conversation with a fellow musician friend about why, in general, it is preferable to stay in a hotel when on the road. Among our reasons was the fact that  you can just relax and hang out (you can even go pants-less if you want - something you cannot do if you stay with other people).  Also, you don't have to entertain your hosts and your hosts don't have to entertain you. You don't have to worry about getting stuck on a couch with six dogs and three cats lying on top of you all night. Obviously, staying in a hotel is not always the most economical choice when you're on tour, so when you do stay in a hotel, you should be delighted to get a free meal, right?  Wrong - at least for me.

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the morning is get up and write.  As I wrote in my last blog, I make these crazy journal entries that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone else, but somehow this gets my day started in the right direction.  I enjoy a few moments of alone time, the opportunity to get out the mental cobwebs of sleep and have a good cup of coffee to stimulate me back into consciousness. Unfortunately, this is not possible at a hotel's free continental breakfast.

First of all, in the hotel breakfast lobby there is always a television.  Said hotel breakfast area is always blasting CNN or, worse yet, Fox News. For some reason, the hotel owner, always feels the need to hide the remote so that, even if you are the only person in the hotel breakfast eating area you can't turn it down. A blaring television is not conducive to starting your morning peacefully.

Secondly, people are just not that attractive in the morning and it blows my mind how many people decide to take advantage of the free hotel breakfast in their bare feet and ratty old pajama bottoms.  The worst of these offenders are those little creatures under the age of ten called children who show up all crusty-eyed and snotty-nosed crying about the cereal which they inevitably wind up spilling all over the floor.

Lastly, the food itself leaves much to be desired.  A few years ago I discovered that I have so many food allergies it's not even funny: peanuts, soy, eggs, gluten.  I really can't eat anything except meat, vegetables and fruit if I really want to be super-healthy. If you've ever eaten a free hotel breakfast, you know you're not going to get a single vegetable.  As for meat?  Occasionally, you might find a sausage link that's been sitting in some heater oven since 3:00 in the morning when the hotel owner started putting this spread together.  Even if I could eat eggs - the boiled ones they serve are seldom cooked in a way that makes them at all peal-friendly.  Worse yet: the waffle maker.  I can't tell you the number of times I have watched someone struggle with the waffle maker - unsure whether to fill it with batter, whether to turn it over, whether to use a spatula.  You would think a waffle maker is high-powered piece of machinery that it requires a PhD to use.  I have news for you: it does not.  All you have to do is follow the directions, people.

Because of my strange food allergies - thank you genetics - I mostly now carry a cooler, but occasionally I cheat when I stay with people so as not to hurt their feelings.  Still, after a great night's show I do enjoy a good hot breakfast - considering how awful of an experience the hotel breakfast is, it's worth it to splurge and go full-on at some local eatery.  Here's just a few of my more recent favorites: Tupelo Honey Cafe in Greenville South Carolina (BEST BREAKFAST OF MY ENTIRE LIFE - THE GRITS and BISCUIT)); Night Heron Coffee and Bookstore in Laramie, WY as well as Coal Creek Coffee (also in Laramie); Sarah's Table in Duluth MN (the salmon!); and Smokey Joe's Coffee in Des Moines.  How do you feel about the hotel breakfast?  DO YOU have a hotel breakfast horror story?  PLEASE SHARE!

Why I Still "Write" In a Journal 

It's true that I've been accused of being a dinosaur for my love of notebooks, pens, paper, pencils and all things "Staple's Office Supplies." I do realize that in the Twenty-First Century these things are kind of obsolete.  Who needs a notebook when you can chat into your phone and have it translate your words directly into typewritten text?   Frankly, for me and probably countless other artists there is magic in the act of physically writing down my ideas and thoughts.  In fact, one of my happiest moments in life is when I get to start a new notebook. Despite the countless technological advances that tell me there's no need to, I still prefer typing in a journal to any app. 

I am a little embarrassed to admit I have an entire steamer trunk full of unused notebooks (Hint: don't give me any blank notebooks as a gift - I don't need them.).  I'm certain the reason I love them so much is because of all they represent.  A new notebook offers the act of starting over and the freshness of a different perspective.  A new notebook is, after all no different than a blank canvas or a blank tape (well, what would now be a new ProTools session, but you get my point) and I generally have NO IDEA what will gradually be produced out of it.  Perhaps that's what's so beautiful about them.

My journals are like collages. One day I might chronicle a day's events - what I did, who I met, where I went.  The next day I might work on a short story.  Two days later, I start a poem that never gets finished.   Occasionally, I do a very casual review of a movie or a book. And, not surprisingly, the vast majority of my notebooks contain utter drivel! I'm not kidding - there's a lot of whining and stream of consciousness that goes in there.  I like to think this outlet keeps me from whining too much in the real world, though I often wonder if I should put a mandate in my will that the journals all be burned after I die or if I should let some curious stalker enjoy the journey of them long after I'm gone. 

Any outsider breaking the rules of privacy and delving into these journals would be a little disappointed, I'm afraid.  For starters, I'm a little vain - I tend to write about myself  - and they don't contain many juicy details on anyone else.  They're seldom dated and, because I sometimes temporarily lose a notebook, I'll start a new one or go back to an old, unfinished one. The history of these things gets a little muffled.  By the time I get to the last pages of a notebook, I am DESPERATE to move on to a new one. Still, I'm stubborn and, just like I will sit through an entire movie or read an entire book no matter how bad it is, I will not abandon a notebook before it's "finished." Despite the chaos of these notebooks, something always emerges and it blows my mind how I can go back and read one three or four or even ten years later and see where I was in my life then and how I've evolved.

I realize that apps provide convenience and the obvious lack of clutter. Your whole life can be stored in the amorphous cloud, but there is a side of me that likes to think said cloud will one day evaporate and my journals will be one of the only remaining archives of life in the twenty-first century.  Mine will be the Mayan Calendar and Dead Sea Scrolls of their day.  I also have to say it just doesn't feel the same to wake up in the morning;  brew a stiff cup of coffee, throw on some beautiful music (I generally listen to instrumentals so I'm not distracted by lyrics) and start voice-to-texting into my phone to journal.  Or worse yet, imagine having to type all of that on your phone.  For those of you about to argue that I could type on Pages or Word and keep a journal that way, I worked in way too many offices before becoming a singer-songwriter and this just makes me think of fluorescent lighting, water coolers and photocopy machines - not exactly inspiring.

So, moral of the story: if you see me (or anyone)  writing with an unsophisticated ballpoint pen and yet another journal with a motivational saying on the cover, please just walk on by. This is my process - this is what works for me. As we all know, different things work for different people.   If you don't like the way I do things - well, you can just kiss my apps!


Melanie Devaney's 8 Tips For Getting a Good Night's Sleep 

As a singer songwriter I endure a lot of late nights, but as a human I like to go to bed early. On nights I don't have shows, I am usually in bed by 10 p.m. and up at 5:15 a.m. - not exactly a "rockstar" lifestyle. As you can imagine, this makes getting a normal sleep a little difficult. Sometimes it's difficult to maintain a routine schedule, but I've learned that sleep is one of the key ingredients to overall good health. Over the years I've implemented some helpful tricks to getting a good night's sleep and I'd love to share them with you now. Here are eight helpful tips:  

#1: Turn off all of your electronic devices. This includes the television, your telephone, and a radio if you still listen to one. Studies have proven that the electromagnetic waves produced by electronic devices actually prevent people from getting normal sleep. This is true for electric blankets too. (Just pile on a couple of extra blankets if you get cold.) 

#2: Don't sleep with your pets. For some people, this might not be a problem.  Studies show that for some people letting their pets in bed with them actually gives them a sense of security and helps them rest; but if you have an animal that doesn't sleep through the night, you might consider sending him to the proverbial "doghouse." (Aside from sleep, another disadvantage of letting your pet sleep with you is all the cooties - worms, bacteria, etc. - they might bring into bed - ewwww!) 

#3: Take a hot bath or shower before you go to bed. There's something incredibly soothing about that hot water and steam.  Immersing your body in this warmth allows your muscles to relax and your mind to  slow down. This is especially nice in the winter.  

#4: Use a natural sleep aid. When I say natural sleep aid, I am referring to an herbal supplement, an essential oil, or other organic type of product. And while, alcohol is technically natural, it is actually known to reduce REM sleep.  My two personal favorite natural sleep aids are melatonin and a drink powder composed of calcium and magnesium called Natural Calm. 

#5: Make your room as much like a luxury hotel as possible. If you've ever stayed at a swanky hotel, you know what I'm talking about. They're always clean, uncluttered have super nice sheets and comforters, and give you an overall feeling of relaxation. To recreate this environment, spend the extra money on a great mattress, elegant bed linens and a good bed if you can. Keep your room clean and uncluttered - pick up your books and keep your clothes off the floor.  Leave the surfaces of dressers and nightstands clear as much as possible. Another reason these types of hotel rooms can be easy to sleep in is that they are often noiseproof.  While it may be hard to completely noise proof your own bedroom, you can run a fan, get a special white noise maker machine or you can download a white noise app onto your phone and use that.  

#6: Get prepared for the next day. Before you go to bed, make a list of the items that you know you need to do the next day. Set out any items that you know you need to take to work with you. Make your lunch for the next day after supper. All of these preparations help you to feel  confident that the following day will be a successful one. This kind of preparation prevents you from laying in bed all night thinking about all the things you should do the next day or the days to follow.  

#7: Practice relaxation techniques. Some simple deep breathing exercises and stretching can help you ready your body for a good night's rest. One of my favorite relaxation techniques to use as I'm falling asleep is to picture all four corners of the room. Once I fix it on all four corners of the room I then try to picture other corners of other rooms  in my house. If I get through all of the rooms in my house, I picture the block, the town, and just keep expanding out - usually I'm asleep by the time I get to the corners of my room though.  This technique gets you grounded and helps you to breathe deeply.   

#8: Watch what you eat and drink. Of course we all know that caffeine can really harm restful sleep. As someone who absolutely adores coffee this one is kind of hard for me. I haven't completely been able to give up coffee, but I do try not to drink it in the afternoon as much as possible. In addition to caffeine-laden drinks, there may be some other hidden food issues that are causing insomnia. Things like dairy and wheat intolerance can contribute. So can food additives and sugar.  If you suspect you have a food allergy you can do food testing with a qualified practitioner or simply try an elimination diet for several weeks. 

I hope these tips are helpful! Please let me know if you currently use any of them and how they work for you. If you have any additional tips, I'd love to hear them! Here's to getting a good night's sleep - because even rockstars occasionally need to get some Zzzzzzz's. 

Pros and Cons of Living In a Small Town 

If you grew up in a small town, then you may, like me, have experienced a love-hate relationship with the little hamlet where you were born.  Even though I have lived all over the country - Florida, Arizona, California, Tennessee - somehow I am always magically pulled back to the little village of 1,700 people where I'm from.  While it has its advantages, there are also some drawbacks.  After living in Los Angeles for six years and now spending more time in Iowa, here are some of the pros and cons of living in a small town I have noticed.

1. Pro: Fewer streets make it less likely for you to get lost
    Con:  If you do get lost, everyone knows about it

2. Pro: No police helicopters flying over your house at night waking you up
    Con:  It's so quiet here you can hear wild animals mating

3. Pro: Less smog increases your chance of growing a successful garden
    Con: In'N Out Burger is a three day drive away

4.  Pro: It's an easy walk to the post office
    Con:  You will spend forty-five minutes at the post office because you run into someone you know

5. Pro: No traffic jams
    Con:  People here don't drive fast because there's nothing to hurry for

6.  Pro:  People are less likely to judge you based on appearances
    Con:  Having fewer reasons to worry about your appearances causes you not to think twice before eating the cream cheese-based dessert

7.  Pro:  You are less likely get hit on by sleaze balls at the bar because everyone is watching
     Con:  You are distantly related to most of the eligible men in town

8. Pro:  Less smog makes it easier to breathe
    Con:  More manure smells make you not want to breathe

9. Pro:  People are more friendly
    Con: People are so friendly they would walk through your front door without knocking if you didn't keep it locked

10. Pro:  You know who your neighbors are
      Con:  Your neighbors know who YOU are

There you have it, a quick list of pros and cons of living in a small town.  In all seriousness, I am grateful of the experience of living in a place where I know my neighbors and where the streets are safe.  I would recommend everyone live pop. less than 2,000 for some length of time because it can definitely change your viewpoint of the world.  What about you?  Have you ever lived in a small town?  Do you live in one now?  Which of these pros and cons do you agree with?

Hug Your Mum 

Mother's day is right around the corner (May 10) and it's a good reminder that we often take our mums for granted.  I decide to sit down today and write mine a little love note to tell her how much I appreciate all she does for me.  Some of you have met my mother, Betty Mausser, and you can probably guess she's the real brains behind Kidder Valley Music.  She does so much to help me be successful, including filing my taxes and tracking some of my accounting, booking flights and travel accommodations and reminding me to do stuff that you'd be surprised I still forget to do: like pack my guitar in the car!  Among the very unique traits my mother has taught me are: 1.) Think things through before you act on new ideas  2.) If you want to get something done, sometimes you just have to do it yourself  3.) Willie Nelson is quite possibly the greatest singer-songwriter ever.