Category Archives: sleep

Sleeping and Music

Standard

 

When people say it is best not to go to bed angry, I can understand

their logic. There is a saying, often quoted, derived from the Bible,

“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” I used to have a hard time

sleeping, while young,  if things were unsettled or unresolved in my life.

Recently, I read another way of looking at this,  a different perspective

being:  Why ‘battle it out’ while tired? Instead why not go to bed and

‘sleep on it?’

While we are sleeping, many neurons keep on firing in our brains.

Many people come up with book ideas, song lyrics or other creative

thoughts, along with going, “Ah ha!” and waking up refreshed and

having a whole different outlook on their life or problems. I know a

few people who have had a pad of paper and pen or pencil on their

bedside table, sometimes called a ‘night stand.’ The brain still practices

music, it is still active while we are still and deep in our REM mode of

sleeping. Instincts sometimes keep our mind alive, while we have a little

baby in our care, whether we are a parent, grandparent or babysitter.

Animals are on ‘guard,’ while we may be more sorting through our fears,

re-thinking and processing, our cautions may even become ‘fixed’ and

we may solve a way out of our danger, at hand.

While our bodies are slowing down, our metabolism also is slowing.

We have growth and cell repair sources released while we sleep.

Something scary that researchers are now filling us in on is that

those who are more likely to get Alzheimer’s and dementia are people

who have gone through most of their adult life, lacking sleep, this would

apply to nurses, doctors, air traffic comptrollers and others who have a

busy and hectic schedule, allowing less sleep and rest in their lives.

 

Some positives gathered from several sources gained from our deep and

tranquil sleep:

Mathematicians solve algorithms and problems while sleeping.

Scientists figure our solutions, structures and finish ‘their daily work,’ in

their sleep.

When we make mistakes, our mind rolls the process around in our head,

we are much more cautious, an example given, when we approach a slick

piece of ice on a road, after we have had an accident.

 

We may have our best songs that we sing and our best pieces of art,

while creative minds were finishing their projects, organizing and

composing.

Leading me into the next subject. . .

There is a musical milestone that we past last February: 100 years of

ASCAP.

Many songwriters don’t get the money from our downloading ‘free’

music. This organization was created in 1914, representing currently

over 1/2 million songwriters. It ensures the rights to make money while

others may sing their songs.

I have known two local groups who write their own music, who joined

ASCAP.  Team KNYCE (a trio of rappers with some blues and jazz

influences) and Morgan Treni, who wrote all of her own songs on her

Fall, 2014 release of her Essays album. A group that plays locally folk

songs, whose advice I sought about this subject, also all are members.

 

The American Society of Composers, Authors  and Publishers is a long-

standing organization who has famous members, including Irving Berlin.

This is a world wide organization and it is emphasized by mentors of

musicians to join this, to protect your music. When performers sing the

Irving Berlin song, “White Christmas,” his heirs will get checks. It protects

performers who sing their own songs. Although artists get royalties from

sales of albums, there was a time when famous musical composers would

die, virtually ‘penniless.’

 

Just for your interest, I found out the estimated sales of the song, “White

Christmas” make it the most sung and highest number of all time, as over

50 billion song copies sold , with the second most being Elton John’s,

“Candle in the Wind,” at 33 billion copies sold.

 

The President of ASCAP is the well-respected and likable Paul Williams.

I was amazed when I saw him speaking recently on television of all the

wonderful songs he wrote. I enjoy his sense of humor, along with in the

past, numerous guest starring parts on television shows. Here are just

a few examples of Paul Williams’ songs:

Three Dog Night sings his song, “Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song.”

The Carpenters sang his song, “Rainy Days and Mondays.”

The theme song for “Love Boat” still brings Paul Williams some royalty

checks, as it repeats and reruns on television.

 

ASCAP President Paul Williams (composer and singer) says it is very

frustrating how many sources on the Internet ‘try to steal music’ and not

allow the original artist or songwriter to get their ‘cut’ or ‘share of the pie.’

An example of how many songs are streaming was 7 million streams of

one Lady Antebellum song in a short period of time, losing quite a lot of

money for the group and composer, too. Taylor Swift was interviewed

about ASCAP, saying she was pulling her songs off of “Spotify.” Garth

Brooks and Billy Joel were also outspoken while being asked about this

landmark anniversary of the organization. They mentioned Pandora,

as another source which is a concern of theirs, allowing access to songs

without paying for them.

 

So, when you listen to “The Music in Me” (written by keyboardist Bias

Bochell, of the Kiki Dee Band), “New York State of Mind” (Billy Joel)

and Stevie Wonder’s “Dance to the Music,” you may not get these free

anymore.

There are some artists, musicians and composers standing up for their

rights, in the face of the internet. We will see if the songs that are pulled

off, will still reach the popularity level that others which are free and

available.

As fellow bloggers and writers, we must admire their integrity and

believe in their right to having their music kept original and protected.

 

Patricia Cornwell was a 1975 high school graduate. I graduated in 1974

which makes me feel like we could have been friends. My brother, Randy,

was a ’75 graduate so I hung out with a lot of his friends. She is an author

I deeply admire. I was interested in knowing how she reached her level

of writing and productivity. Her most recent book, “Flesh and Blood,”

was published in November, 2014.

 

I enjoy her murder mysteries that often dwell upon the forensics found in

the coroner’s office. Ms. Cornwell says her favorite book for years, one she

carried around everywhere, was titled, “The Inner Game of Tennis.” She

has been a tennis player yet never became a professional tennis player.

She suggests there is much to find in the book about life. She also slyly

mentioned in AARP magazine, that she may not play like a pro, but she

has through her writing and recognition been able to make friends with

Billie Jean King. Timothy Gallwey wrote this book Patricia admired and

studied.

 

Although she does not mention sleep and creativity, I imagine she would

say she discovered some of her best plot lines while sleeping. I contemplate

how rest can prepare you for reaching your own personal goals.

Patricia Cornwell on her personal motivation:

“After reading the book, “The Inner Game of Tennis,” I made it my ambition

to pay attention and not live a fear-driven life. When I sit down to write, I

remind myself to stay in the moment.”

 

J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan,” is often quoted:

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able

to do it.”

 

Sometimes, as in Peter Pan, it is fun to be child-like. In “Downton

Abbey,”

Elizabeth McGovern portrays the character, “Cora,” Countess of Grantham.

In her personal life, she may not be so serious, as exhibited by this quote:

“You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.”

 

Hmm. . .Or is this possibly a ‘slam’ on those who tend to act immature,

even as adults. . . up to your own interpretation.

Reversing Roles

Standard

Many times during one’s life, you may find someone older helping you and teaching

you. Especially as a young child, most of us were lucky to have parents and role models.

Sometimes, in unfortunate situations, there are children who have to become adults

far too soon. They become the ‘caretakers’ of siblings, they may even take care of their

mother, as my Dad did at age 11. The mentors in his life, teachers and a minister, are

who really ‘saved him.’

Here are some thoughts about a day with my Mom:

As my Mom slides more easily backwards in time, more comfortable in her childhood

outlook and way of looking at things, I see this in a brighter, happier light these days.

Reverting to a time where things always seem new and one can exclaim, “I have never

seen the sky so brilliant in a sunset!” or “The leaves are so lushly colored, freshly painted!”

It makes me smile more. I appreciate this way of thinking and it helps me embrace her,

hold her hand and guide her across dangerous paths where cars may not judge her slow,

plodding movements.

She loves her dog, it is like children want to give their dogs ‘treats’ every time they are

‘good.’ I have to remind her that Nicki only should eat twice a day, but don’t worry too

much as she is 12 years old. She can refuse if her belly is too full, she also can run around

and wear off the calories… Mom is very good at taking her on two long walks a day. We

go to the edge of a woods, where she uses her cane to remove prickly sticks and makes a

path less treacherous for her ‘little girl.’

Life, to my Mom, is full of excitement and she arises late with sleepy eyes, needing a cup

of black coffee, a tablespoon of peanut butter and I have brought her pancakes (one

morning), oatmeal a couple of mornings, but mainly she rubs her hands together in

anticipation to see if there is a sweet roll or Danish from the dining room. Her ‘expectant’

air about her is catching.

There have been some ‘stories’ told about my Mom, like a child who is part imp and part

angel. She has used a sharp tone when someone mentions Nicki needing to be brushed.

She has been insulted when she wore her pajama pants in the dining room. ‘After all,

many wear their sweat pants.’  She doesn’t like it when she forgets what day it is, nor

does she appreciate lectures about times for things. The rascal is quite independent and

I have less fear of her being ‘hurt’ each time I hear her strong-willed letters she has sent

off to the Director of the building. She has written about the sumac bushes around  the

lake, telling the staff that they should be trimmed, they hinder the residents view while

sitting on the patio. She feels her ‘rent’ should cover gardening and pruning. She wrote

another letter abut the rose bushes, their mites or bugs. She notes, “They need dusting!”

People who are not able to hear well should be paired with others who cannot. She is not

happy when she needs to repeat herself, just as children who must explain themselves

give up and throw their arms up. She misses the bus, when she feels they should ‘Wait on

her.’  Patience is expected by her of others, even when hers is limited at times.

My Dad had admired her ‘spunk’ and her strength of character. He would find it here, still

in large quantities of self-assurance. She still delights in mischief and would still capture

his heart, were he still on Earth….

 

While the rain dripped down upon the branches outside her balcony, she stopped several

times yesterday to exclaim over their appearance, using these words:

glistening,

glowing,

shining,

trembling

branches.

When the rosy-colored purplish hued sky was about to lay the sun to rest,

she had a radiant face aglow watching it from her balcony.

She turned to me, more than three times yesterday to say,

“I have never seen the Fall leaves so special!”

“This view is the Best one I have ever had!”

I could picture her, as a girl, fully appreciating nature’s wonderful changing, colorful

palette. I also thought of her bravery while children taunted her and for some reason

knew to call her, “Zema Puss.” Yes, she had had arthritis and eczema but had always

been beautiful inside and out. She had undaunted courage given her by her parents.

 

Giving the teen-aged servers candy in the dining room, this is one of her ways of

showing she includes the next generation. She may forget where her eyeglasses,

keys, purse, checkbook, medical card and other ‘meaningless’ items are, but she

takes the time to every season or holiday to spend money to make up bags of

candy for the ‘kids.’ She also says a few French words to the one who is studying

French, a much longer passage of Spanish to the one who is in her third year.

She asks Zach, who has this movie star quality, about his theater productions

and his college courses in drama and English. I have no clue why she is able

to retain this information and use the whole concept I used while raising three

teenagers: “They must have ‘selective memory!'”

As she leaves the dining room, she grabs packages of sugar, Sweet n Low packs,

and a handful of mints at the Hostess Station. She may be one of the best ‘pack rats’

around. She even gives that sly glance sideways, to see if anyone notices how big a

wad of those peppermints she has stuck in her pockets.

 

Mom is a quieter, less sure woman at night, as she turns on the light in the closet,

leaving the door askew, pushing the nightlights on in the bathroom (one), kitchen

(two), living room, (three and four), and the hallway (five). She looks down at her

little shadow, Nicki, and says,

“She gets scared of the dark. Hope it is okay to have so many of these on, Robin.

Will you be able to find your way to the bathroom?”

When I look down at Nicki, I almost perceive a gentle shrug of the shoulders, as

if her dog is saying,

“Let her have this habit. No big deal. Give this to her.”

Later, when I need to use same nightlights to guide me to the bathroom, I tiptoe

in to gaze upon her sleeping, serene countenance. A moment of remembrance of

doing this ritual with my own children, now my grandies when they sleepover. I

imagine her doing this for each of her three children, as we slept peacefully.

I kiss her forehead and whisper, “Sweet dreams, Mama.”

 

Holding my hand, we go to the doctors. I hope this one will go smoother than the

one this summer, when frustrated with her purse’s zippers, she threw her photo

ID and her medical card at the poor, slightly impatient receptionist, who repeated

the request instead of just waiting as Mom searched…

As we leave the doctor’s office, after paying her co-pay, I tell her that she doesn’t

have to go to another doctor until next July. She nods, repentant,  turning to tell

the receptionist, “Have a wonderful day and Happy Thanksgiving!”

 

Walking together, we lean in.

I am fully blessed,

counting the time (and steps)

I have left with my mother.

Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

Standard

As adults, lack of sleep has been found to be detrimental to our health.

Today’s children aren’t getting enough sleep either. There are suggested

times and hours needed for each age group. I won’t bother to quote the

many more hours we all should rest and sleep. I try but can usually only

“sleep in” reaching a whopping seven total hours a night. I found a sweet

album to suggest listening to, for any age.

A new music CD,  released from a long-term collaboration of two friends who

became fathers in 1995, is called, “Precious Child– Love Songs & Lullabies.”

There are some happy parts of this collaboration but one really sad one, too.

The Jazz guitarist and composer named Joe Beck combined with the singer,

composer and pianist Darryl Tookes.

Joe and Darryl worked on this album since 1995, moved by their new venture

into fatherhood. The album had to be put on ‘hold’ due to Joe’s being diagnosed

with cancer. During his illness, their friendship strengthened, but he did not

feel up to working. Once he passed away, Darryl finished the CD in honor of his

friend and their families continuation of friendship.

Although this friendship is about the celebration of family and friendship, I started

to think of this plot as a possible movie. It truly reminds me of that sentimental and

tear producing story of Brian Piccolo and the movie, “Brian’s Song.”

When Darryl was a child, he had parents who believed in the Civil Rights movement.

He also became involved, tagging along on marches and sit-in’s. He aids environmental

causes and contributes to charities for children. When he was in college, Darryl studied

physics. He currently teaches college students music.

Joe’s story about his days in a jazz group when he was a teenager, sound like fun. Joe

got a lot of practice in during the period that Darryl’s family was participating in sit-in’s.

Once an adult, Joe Beck’s music was featured in movies and in television shows. His

work record was diverse, including a period of time working on a dairy farm. Joe raised

money for college music scholarships and one special project: water supply to Darfur,

Sudan. He also was like Darryl, believing in his life making a difference.

I have heard this beautiful music. The story alone pulled my heart strings. Two musical

individuals joined by music, love of their children and family. Both so giving to others. I

imagine their children growing up with such a creative force burning through them.

Check out this new CD. I hope you will find soothing music to share with any children

you may know. It may just be the “thing” to rock you gently, calming you to sleep!

 

You may already have favorite songs to sing or hum to your children. Ever since my own

were young, I have treasured this short list of songs, some from musicals.

1. “Edelweiss,” from “The Sound of Music.”

2. “Feed the Birds,” from “Mary Poppins.”

3. “Stay Awake,” from “Mary Poppins.”

4. “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean.”

5. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

6. “The Johnny Appleseed Song.”

7. A simple prayer, “I see the moon, the moon sees me. God bless the moon, God bless me.”

 

Here were three books suggested by for children:

1. “Zzz . . .” by Trudee Romanek.

2. “Sleep is for Everyone,” by Paul Showers.

3. “Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book,” by Dr. Seuss.

 

Of course, more than once we have mentioned in our unanimous love for the books,

“Goodnight, Moon” and “Runaway Bunny” both written by Margaret Wise Brown.

Oh, for controversial reasons, I must add, “In the Night Kitchen,” by Maurice Sendak.

Although this book has won a Caldecott Award, it also has a nude child in it, so it has

been ‘banned’ and edited by librarians across the land.

I enjoy a cup of Sleepytime Tea, (which has a nice combination of herbs, including

chamomile) by Celestial Seasonings Herbal Teas. I like to nibble on a cookie or a

biscotti. It goes back to my childhood, where milk and cookies were our bedtime

snack. If I have a small glass of wine, it also helps produce sleep, if I am in a prone

position. If I am out dancing or mingling, wine doesn’t do this, instead it makes me

want to be on the dance floor. Rain sure helps, on the roof of a house. . .

 

Please add if you have any suggested reading or your own ‘remedy’ to help us sleep.

If you like, tell us some kind of special routine with your children or grandchildren.