Friday, November 27, 2009

In Search favorite Christmas music

I debated before starting this blog whether I should say "holiday" music or "Christmas" music, but since there is only one Chanukah song worth mentioning at this time of year (Adam Sandler's Chanukah song), I thought I was okay going with Christmas.

I have been enthralled since early childhood with all things Christmas. I love the lights and the music and mostly the idea of everyone being nicer to each other. I also enjoy the baking and the presents. So if you resemble Scrooge in any way, this may not be the blog for you today. (And also, to my Jewish family and friends, I'm betting there are many of you who feel this way too. Forbidden fruit and all that.)

I started off this festive season by loading some Christmas CD's in my car and heading for the mall on black Friday. Many hours later, after sitting in traffic and standing in lines most of the day, it occurred to me that this was probably not the wisest idea I ever had...even if I did want to soak up the full flavor of the season. I did, however, enjoy listening to my music while stuck in the car, and it got me thinking about my favorite Christmas CD's of all time.

I will tell you that the best perk of being in the music business is that I am surrounded by the most talented people on earth. Most people think of this business as strictly being comprised of huge stars like Madonna, Mariah, Rihanna, and all those other one name entities. But there are thousands of people making music, and I dare say that the best ones are the ones you may not know. So while it would be easy to make mention of the ones we all listen to this time of year - the Amy Grants and the Nat King Coles, I thought I would give you all a treat and lead you to some true gems.

The first is brand spanking new this year and it is by far my new all time favorite. It is BethAnne Clayton's Remember. It is a combination of original songs and old favorites and it spans the gamut of most musical styles. I would tell you which song is my favorite, but it keeps changing each time I listen. It also moves me in a different way each time I listen. Hats off to BethAnne for a stunningly produced and amazingly sung CD. It is sprinkled with magic.

You can listen to samples and purchase BethAnne Clayton's CD at her website: ( ) or at CD Baby(

The next album that tops my list of all time favorites is an instrumental CD. And since it is purely piano, it too gets its own #1 slot. It is Christopher Finkelmeyer's Unforgotten Christmas. I can not say enough good things about it. It is moving. It is soothing. It is soul-stirring and magnificent. Normally I would worry about building this up too much, but I know you will not be disappointed.

You can hear samples of the CD on Chris's website ( ) and you can purchase it on

Mak Kaylor's Glad Tidings has consistently been one CD that I love listening to each year. His voice is touched by God, and unlike many recordings that artists do, his vocals are imbued with the faith and passion of a true believer in what he is singing. You can listen to samples and purchase Mak's CD on his website (

If you like big band Sinatra style music, you might want to give a listen to Perry Danos's This Christmas. In the interest of full disclosure I must tell you that this CD is also brand new and I haven't heard it in its entirety yet, however Perry (who sings a duet on BethAnne's CD as well) is one of my favorite singers and one of the nicest people I know. So you can check out his CD on his website ( ) and purchase it on

This about rounds out my list of top Christmas CD's. I hope you go check them out and purchase them. I know you'll enjoy them.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends, and don't forget to enjoy the season!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Search of...a Thanksgiving blog

So it's turkey day and I'm relishing the quiet that comes with a holiday such as Thanksgiving where it feels like everyone is taking a breather from the normal chaos of their everyday lives. I myself found time to catch up on some shows I DVR'd and even worked out in preparation for eating...before I realized that I neglected to buy junk food in the first place.

I'm thankful for so many things that it is hard to know where to begin or end.

First of all, I'm thankful for life - for the journey it has been thus far and for the journey it will be from this moment on.

I'm thankful for my family and friends who sustain me in every way imaginable.

I'm thankful for pizza. There, I said it. Both the kinds found in New York and Chicago.

I'm thankful for sunsets, and children's laughter, and all things purple. I'm thankful for the Yankees winning the World Series, for Christmas lights, and even the mere concept of Peace on Earth. I'm thankful for hope that springs eternal, for a Supreme Being (I call God) who shaped it all into existence, and for the tiny part I get to play in the tapestry of humanity.

I'm thankful for being a writer in every format that I've tried, and I'm thankful to you for taking time out of your lives to share a part of mine.

I'm thankful for thunderstorms and snowy days, for ocean waves and forests. I'm thankful for artists, inventors, poets, and dreamers who dare to imagine a world that's different than the one we currently live in.

I'm thankful that I have enough food to eat and clothes to wear and water to drink and bathe.

I'm thankful even for all the things that I forget to be thankful for.

To all of you on Thanksgiving, I wish you your own endless lists of things to be thankful for. And yes, thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Search of...proof that the world is ending

As the holiday season fast approaches and I resume blogging more consistently (hopefully), it occurs to me that I ought to catch up on all the politics that I've missed talking about so I can be free from all the bottled up vitriol and enjoy this festive time of year.

I think what transpired politically over the weeks I wasn't blogging can best be summed up as this - nothing. Oh yes, Congress is still doing the healthcare reform polka, this time officially in both the House and the tune of about four thousand pages collectively. What is in these four thousand pages? God only knows. I do know, however, that I could sum up what we should have in a page and a half at most, depending on the font size.

Here, I'll give you an example:

Hereafter the date of this bill it will be illegal for any insurance company to deny claims or coverage to any already existing customer or to drop them altogether. In addition, no applicant can be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and premiums increases must be capped at no more than 10% of the initial policy rate every two years. (These numbers are completely arbitrary, but you get the idea.)

In addition, every American will be entitled to Medicare for All, both the currently uninsured as well as anyone who is not happy with their existing insurance policy.

Prescription drugs will be covered for everyone with the same co-pay across the board for all citizens of $10, regardless of whether it is considered generic or a brand name drug. (And again, there will be penalties for those who do not comply.)

All of this will be paid for by ending at least one war in the middle east.

Lookey there, I did it in less than a page in a normal font size!!!

So I bet by now you're wondering what new proof I found that the world was ending. If melting ice caps, tsunamis and wildfires weren't enough to suffice, try this. I agree with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on something.

I know, I know, I was shocked too. It was right after the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (whoever they might be) recommended that women under 50 do not get yearly mammograms. In fact they recommend that they get no mammograms before the age of 50 and even then only every two years.

If it is possible for me to have steam coming out of my ears, then suffice it to say that I did...along with some healthy screaming at the top of my lungs. But I was not the only one. I happened to turn on The View one day and there was sweet little republican Elisabeth Hasselbeck with her own steam spewing forth. That's when I knew for sure that the world was coming to an end.

Both Elisabeth and I share something in common. We have mothers who had breast cancer in their forties. So there it was - cancer- the great equalizer. Now I could go on and on (and believe me, I have) about how this is a sure fire death sentence for women and a step backward in healthcare and human rights. I could tell you that it is reckless and cruel and ultimately about nothing more than saving money, but you, dear readers, undoubtedly know all that already. And I'm sure you also know that we would never be having this discussion about male prostate exams and PSA screenings.

So kudos to Elisabeth for being vocal and outraged. I am too. It's not okay to sacrifice women's lives when we know and have already done better than that.

If the Mayans are right and the world is ending in 2012, then this will all be over soon enough and Elisabeth Hasselbeck and I will sip tea in heaven...where there are no political parties. As for the people on this task force, I'm pretty sure they're going to that other place.

Okay, I'm done now. I can go be festive. Thanks for stopping by and please tell your friends.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In Search of...the end of life as we knew it

It sounds like it would be a bad thing - the end of life as we knew it. And maybe in fact, most of the time it is. It certainly seems that way when talking about the economy or a post 9/11 world, or the death of a loved one. But I've been thinking a lot lately about how to reframe things in a more positive light, and it occurred to me that "the end of life as we knew it" may not be such a bad thing.

Maybe it could refer to the moment that delineates a past of believing we weren't worthy of our heart's desire with a present and future where we know we're deserving. Maybe it separates hoping and wishing from doing. Maybe it signifies a letting go of everything that isn't worthy of us. Maybe like in the movie P.S. I Love You it signifies finding your soulmate and knowing that in the best sense possible life will never be the same.

Defining moments often creep up on us disguised as ordinary ones. There's seldom a timpani cue to signal that things are about to change. Rather things change in the blink of an eye and catch you unaware until after the fact.

Maybe in this new era of change we should all embrace the idea of letting go of life as we knew it and opening ourselves up to new ideas and ways of seeing ourselves. While this is a time of unprecedented challenges, it is also a time of unprecedented possibilities and it is in that very idea that promise lies.

So, adios life as I knew it. It's a new day. Thanks for stopping by and please tell your friends.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In Search of...some optimism in trying times

It's Sunday, and if it's Sunday it's usually politics day on my blog. But I've been too depressed lately about the healthcare bill to write about politics, and so I thought I'd write about something else - optimism. President Obama got elected on the wings of it - hope, change, and the audacity to talk about it, expect it, and make it happen.

Before you think I'm having a pep rally for the president, let me just say this. It's easier to be pessimistic, cynical, and hopeless. Look at the world around us. It's easy to see the darkness, the evil, the greed, and what's gone wrong. It is much more challenging to see light amidst the darkness, and order within the chaos. It is easy to see the futility. It is hard to see the point.

Maybe you're in a situation that you don't know how you'll find your way out of. Or maybe life as you knew it is simply over. I think most of us have felt that way for the better part of this past year. Maybe you've suffered the loss of a job or a career or a marriage and you can't for the life of you see how things will possibly get better. Maybe they won't.

So what's the value of optimism, and what is it exactly? Is it seeing the glass half full even when half the liquid in it is clearly gone? Is it losing sight of reality just long enough to be able to hang on for another day? Is it holding out false hopes and pipe dreams that will never come to pass? Is it pasting on a smile while you feel like you're crumbling on the inside?

Here's my answer to all the above questions - no. For my money, optimism is allowing for a different possibility than you can currently see. It is knowing that no situation, no matter how great or how awful, lasts forever and so "this too shall pass" - whatever it is. Optimism is not negating what is. It is finding the value in it. Sometimes that value is in the form of character traits that we develop out of necessity when we would give anything not to have had to develop those traits in the first place. Sometimes the value is in the different trajectory our lives take from our plans. Sometimes the value is in who we become, because what happens to us is not always within our control, but who we become because of it is.

It is easy to place blame and easy to be angry. Sometimes both those things are warranted, but warranted or not, they don't forge a path to anything but destruction, and haven't we had enough of that already?

So call me what you will, I am choosing right now in this time of seemingly insurmountable challenges to believe in the possibility that those challenges might be met and conquered in ways I cannot yet conceive of. I am choosing to believe that while my own thinking may at times be limited, there are no limits to what can happen for the better with a willing and receptive spirit and mind. It is not naive to believe such things. It is rather the only way I know to create fertile soil in which something new, wonderful, and unexpected can grow.

Life is a gift that's on loan to us, so if we're still here then we've got something to give and something to receive. We've got times of both sorrow and joy ahead and the strength to make it through whatever road happens to be ours to walk.

Whatever road you are walking, I wish you safe travels filled with good times and much love along the way. Thanks for stopping by.