Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

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My Mom

Mom & me 1960

My mom was an amazing woman. I don’t think she ever thought of herself in that way, yet she was. She influenced my life in so many ways. While I no longer have her around to thank in person, I can let others know about her and how they (like her) influence the lives of others.

My mom was good with her hands. While not fond of sewing, she made mounds of clothes, curtains, pillows, and other items. She crocheted toys. And, it wasn’t just handmade items, she would often fix the washing machine or other household mechanical items. When diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she made sure to finish embroidering great grandma’s tea towels so we would have memories pass on.

My mom was creative. She could create things out of nothing. She could create an activity out of odd resources. Two strong memories are of a summer evening defrosting of the fridge from which mom created frost balls which she threw at my dad when he returned home. The second is off a pow-wow in the lot between the parsonage & the church. Mom built a fire and had the family share frustrations. Then she insisted we march around the fire and together yell the alphabet to excise all the “evils” from our life. (Can’t say the issues left, but we felt silly, laughed, and had lots of the town driving by to figure out what we were doing.) She set an example to try other media for expression when she tried her hand at painting and ceramics as an adult.

My mom loved music. She played the piano. In fact, she was my first teacher. She encouraged my singing as a child along with my other musical interests as I grew. She played all types of music on the stereo. My parents took us to concerts, sang with us in the car, and spoke about why they like certain music.

My mom was a  force. I mean that with great love & respect. She knew what she wanted, when she wanted it, and how she wanted it. I grew up with strong women in my life. For their example, I am grateful.

My mom had an eye for details. She could tell by looking when we had not followed the correct steps when polishing the furniture and wold have us polish it correctly. She noticed things like praying mantis walking down country roads. Her comments made me aware of things in my environment. I’m sure this eye for detail was part of why she was so gifted in science and math.

Most of all, my mom loved and cared for people. I grew up with loving parents and extended family. We had a house full of foster brothers and sisters, along with our friends. We made May baskets filled them with flowers from the garden delivering them to members of the congregation and the neighborhood.  Mom voiced her fears and concerns for others – whether it was a family friend deployed in Vietnam or a church member in the hospital. She was a Girl Scout leader willing to camp in the cold, allow us to get her wet when canoeing,and to eat the food we managed to burn.

Know that you, just like my mom,  impact the lives of those around you. And, Mom, I miss you!


Future Newsletter Ideas for Older Adults

My newsletters are currently released every two weeks.  Each is centered on a theme and includes songs, books, discussion questions, movies or other ideas to add a little fun to the lives of people.  I try to include ideas appropriate with active older adults, those in assisted living facilities and skilled nursing homes as well as those dealing with dementia,  While I have lots of ideas for future posts and newsletters, I wanted to get your input.  There is one week for you to select one of the posted ideas or to share your own.  So pass the word and place your vote today. 

P.S. If you don’t currently subscribe you can still vote.  Then, sign up by clicking on JoAnn’s Gems in the right column.

National Hugging Day


Image via Wikipedia

Today is National Hug Day! I think it is interesting National Hugging Day follows Valentine’s Day.  Maybe the creator wanted to keep the love flowing. According to what I found, Hug Day is a copyrighted day created in 1986 by Rev. Kevin Zaborney.  A lot has been reported on the health benefits of hugging.  Check out this article!

Hugs and Heart Health.

What a great day!  Most of my friends know I love any opportunity to give and to receive hugs.  So please join me in celebrating this day with your friends and family members.  If you’re brave, consider offering a hug with someone who lives alone.  It might warm both of you to a new friendship.

One Year

New year - which direction?

Image by randihausken via Flickr

This photo is titled “New Year – Which Direction?”.  It seems appropriate theme as a year has passed since I started this blog.  And, I am full of wonder as to what posts I will make in the next year.

What an amazing year of learning for me!  I have learned so much about connecting with people through the internet, learned some about making my entries of interest, started a newsletter, created a second blog…the list keeps going.

Thank you for being there along this journey. Please let me know what to start, stop and have more of here on this blog.  I remain open to your ideas for future posts.  Sharing my thoughts about music, inspirational finds, and miscellaneous ideas brings me joy and I hope a “spark” of new thoughts to you.

Happy Birthday, Music Sparks

One year ago, Music Sparks started up.  During this year, the business has slowly developed and changed to meet the needs of those in Northwestern Kansas.  Blogging and a Facebook business page became a part of my tools for communication.  A newsletter full of ideas is available every couple weeks for FREE!  Programming through Sterling House Hays and Great Bend along with intergenerational classes at Cedarview has taken form.  New classes are being offered through Northwest Kansas String Academy.  Now, there is a second business, Musical Gems, which has taken on the self-awareness piece of the business.

Thank you to all who have encouraged me, supported me, and taken part in programs.  It is a pleasure serving you.  Let me know how best I can serve you in the coming year.

The role of “stretching”

Sometimes as a therapist, there are times I encourage my clients to stretch outside their area of comfort.  It can be a way of learning about yourself and others.  It is important I also do this for myself.  One area in which I feel less comfortable is creating with visual arts.  I have found a very “safe” way to stretch myself through the use of visual media in the book “The Creative Entrepreneur” by Lisa Sonora Beam.  Take a look at this book and see what you think!  Or, check out the website:

Why have an intergenerational music class?

One of my favorite groups to offer is an intergenerational class for preschoolers and older adults.  Smiles, laughter, hugs, and friendship become just as much a part of the group as the songs, finger plays, dancing, and instrument playing which fill the time.  The preschoolers develop skills of helping others and seem open to sharing with the older adults.  The residents have shared how much they enjoy interacting with “the little ones”.  Together, these two groups (young and old) bring out the best each other. 

If you live in the Hays, KS area, consider signing up for the Music Sparks: Exploration class if this type of group interests you and your preschooler.  For those who desire a group just for preschoolers and an adult, look at the Music Sparks: Discovery class.  Details for both classes are available on the “Class” page.

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