Category: Stuff I Love (page 1 of 2)

Playlist Therapy: Using Music To Boost Your Mood

Seeing as how my novels revolve around the music industry, it should come as no surprise that music is one of my go-to picker-uppers. I never cease to be amazed at how much power a song can contain.  One simple melody can lift a bad mood or heighten one that is already good.  A great lyric can become a rallying cry when you’re in need of motivation. A familiar tune can spark a million memories, bringing you in touch with parts of yourself you normally close off. There’s no limit to what music can do.

Of course, as someone who loves music, I’m constantly coming up with playlists. Sometimes they revolve around a theme, like songs that mention the word “sunshine”,  and sometimes it’s all about a certain vibe. Regardless of the common thread, I always put a lot of thought into these lists.

Awhile back, I was in a bit of a funk and decided to put together a playlist comprised of songs that made me feel like I could take on the world. I burned a CD (yes, I still play CDs!) and put it on while I was cleaning the house, driving in my car, or preparing to get down to some writing. The results were fantastic, and I began creating new lists of songs for different mindsets I wanted to achieve.

In the course of putting together these lists, I would find myself searching for songs that other people associate with whatever theme I was working with. Time and again, I was let down by the lack of rock and roll on these lists. Nothing against the current pop favorites, but sometimes you need something with a little more bite.

Today, I would like to share 10 songs that are instant mood-boosters for me. These are the songs that I know put a smile on my face, no matter what.

I Love Myself Today-Bif Naked

I’m not sure how I came across this song but I’m so glad I did! Although it’s a break-up song, I feel like it can apply to breaking free from any situation that isn’t working out for you. The chorus is insanely catchy and singing along definitely brings a sense of empowerment. Who doesn’t need to affirm their love for themselves from time to time?



I Wanna Be Somebody-W.A.S.P.

This song…you guys, I don’t know if I can accurately express how much I love this one. In fact, it’s one of those songs that I’ve played so much that my husband and our daughter both roll their eyes whenever they hear it starting. I play it when I’m feeling a bit down and need a pick-me-up, I play it when I’m frustrated that things aren’t progressing in the manner I’d envisioned, I play it when I need an extra boost of confidence, I play it when I’m already feeling confident. Not only is the driving beat motivating in and of itself, but the lyrics definitely give a dose of motivation as well! Who says metal can’t be positive?



Stick To Your Guns-Motley Crue

This is one of those tunes that gets overlooked way too often! Honestly, I could have put just about any Crue song in here. Their music sparks something in me that nothing else can replicate, and they generally dominate my feel-good lists. This one,  however, is something special. When the going get’s rough, the reminder that “what’s right for you ain’t right for everyone” can be just the thing to put things into perspective.


Let There Be Rock-AC/DC

Is it just me, or is any AC/DC song generally good for getting you pumped up? They tend to show up on a lot of my playlists, from work-out songs to preparing for a night out, their upbeat style is always a good choice! This one is a particularly good mood-booster for me. You just can’t go wrong with a light-hearted celebration of the simple joy of rock and roll!



We’re Not Gonna Take It-Twisted Sister

There’s always something in life that you’re not gonna take anymore, and belting it out definitely gives you a feeling of control over those situations!



Do You Love Me-The Contours

This list isn’t all hard-rock! And, it’s not all about the lyrics themselves, but the vibe. I can’t imagine how a person could not want to dance around to this song. This one is definitely an instant mood-booster for me!


Twist and Shout-The Beatles

I could have chosen at least 12 other Beatles songs to go in this spot, but this one always puts a smile on my face. Like the song above, I find it hard to sit still and can’t help but to sing along!



Bad Reputation-Joan Jett

Who better to make you feel like an unstoppable force than Joan Jett? She is the epitome of female power, in my book, and this song captures that perfectly. We all need to reaffirm our bad-assery from time to time!



Stand Tall-Killer Dwarfs

This song is another one that should get way more love. Have you figured out that I have a soft-spot for songs about staying true to yourself and not letting anyone or anything get in your way? It’s kind of my thing. This song is another great example of that inner drive that we all strive to maintain.



Push Comes To Shove-Jackyl

Sometimes you need a cathartic outlet for pent-up frustration to turn your mood around, and this song always seems to do that for me! Plus, that guitar riff just does something that makes me smile!



Do you know how hard it was to narrow this down to 10 songs? I easily could have done another 140, easy! In fact this may be something I do from time to time on this blog from now on!

What are some of your go-to pick-me-up tracks? Let me know in the comments below!



The Best Thing About Winter

Cozy sweaters, warm jammies, fuzzy socks. Hot cocoa and hearty soups. Holidays and family traditions. When you stop to look, winter is full of wonderful little treats. Simple pleasures that are all too easy to overlook as we focus our attention on complaining about how damn cold it is. All of these things are great, but none of them compare to what I truly love about this season.

What I love most is how things slow down.

Sure, there’s a little bit of a hustle around the holidays. There’s gifts to buy, crafts to make, about 800 events to attend as you try to see everyone you hold dear. But, that’s only small part of the season.

Winter signifies the end of the year. The days are shorter, the garden no longer shows signs of life. Much like our friends in the animal kingdom, the cold forces us into a sort of hibernation. We shift our focus to staying safe and warm, spending most of our time indoors.

As we bunker down, we are afforded ample time to reflect on our lives and plan for the year ahead.  We are filled with the need to rest and recharge so that we can take on these new goals.

Personally, I love this quiet time. Nights snuggled on the couch with my family or curled up with a good book. A nice, quiet respite.

I will be taking advantage of this time and taking a short break from blogging to squeeze in some peaceful moments before the holiday madness ensues. I will be back after the New Year begins with some fresh new posts and insights.

I hope you all have a marvelously wonderful holiday season and that you find some time to enjoy the beautiful quiet this season has to offer. May your days be filled with light and love!


happy holidays, best thing about winter, christmas


For Those About To Rock

It should come as no surprise by now that music makes up a huge part of my life. In fact, I think I’ve mentioned it enough that it’s just a given by now. Hell, I’ve even released three books with music as a central theme!

The other night, I was sitting around listening to music with my daughter and we had some pretty great discussions about the different songs that played, like we always do. At four years old she is already full of little rock and roll factoids and it makes my heart smile.

As I was contemplating writing a post about it, I remembered that I had written about how important her musical education is to me. Today, I will be sharing that post exactly as it first appeared on my old blog on January 10, 2014.



Last night, Almost-Mother-In-Law and I were sitting at the dining room table discussing my concerns that my daughter has inherited insomnia. It runs high in both my family and Almost-Husband’s and we have been fighting numerous sleep issues with her since she came out of the womb. As the conversation progressed, she started talking about what worked for her and her kids when they were small.

“We used to play an alphabet game,” she tells me. “I’d say, for example, animals that start with the letter B and he’d name one, then he’d ask me and so on.”

“I know that game!” I enthused. “Except when we played it with my mom we did bands or songs!” I went on, explaining that it didn’t stop with the alphabet. We’d do bands with a color in their name or songs with love in the title, for example. The games could go on for hours, especially on road trips. I still try to start one up every now and then.

Almost-Mother-In-Law looked perplexed for a moment. I could see the thoughts churning in her head: what kind of weirdo of a mom does that? How is that educational? There’s really people that into music? No wonder Brandyn’s the way she is!

I laughed as I explained that this is the same woman who had all us kids able to name all the members of the Beatles and the Stones by the time we could speak. In fact, a lot of time was dedicated to our Rock and Roll education. We’d listen to the radio and mom would give us a fun fact about the artist or the song. A rocker’s birthday never passed without acknowledgment. The older we got, the more in-depth the discussion became. We’d talk about the meanings of a song, the use of metaphors in lyrics, how to look at things in context. If we were looking for something to read, she’d helpfully guide us to an autobiography of a rock legend.

She also would have bought us this bear.

When we developed our own tastes, she’d make sure we had all the books and magazines we could want about our favorite bands and that we always had the full discographies. She’d go out at midnight to be sure we had the new releases when they came out. She’d listen with patience and enthusiasm while we prattled on about our favorite artists, even if she didn’t particularly like them or already knew what we were saying. She’d take us to concerts and signings, even if it meant a 7 hour drive or going without sleep the night before her yearly trip to Beatlefest. She validated our rights to have our own likes and opinions, to question the world around us, and to be heard. She encouraged our fancies. She made an effort to know what we were into and use those things as a frame of reference for teachable moments. In short, my mom rocks.

Now that I’m a mother, I find myself doing many of the same things. For example, the other day we were in the car and “I Can’t Drive 55” came on the radio. “That’s Sammy Hagar,” I told her. “He’s the Red Rocker. We like him solo, but we don’t like him with Van Halen.” She’s heard things like this repeatedly throughout her 14 months of life. She’s learning that David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, that David Lee Roth is Diamond Dave, that Johnny Cash is the Man in Black, that Ozzy Osbourne is the Prince of Darkness, Elvis is King and Lemmy is God. She hears that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the Glimmer Twins and that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are the Toxic Twins. I could go on with the nickname thing, but I think you get the point.

We watch music videos and I point out each of the band members and tell her what their name is and what instrument they play. We work on pumping our fists, flipping the horns, and banging our heads. We dance, we sing. If she responds strongly to a certain song, we make sure we play it often for her. All because I feel that music is just as important to her education as colors, shapes, or the ABCs. It’s a wonderful medium that provides rich ground for all sorts of learning possibilities, regardless of what type it is and I can’t wait to see where this part of our journey will take us.

Now, the funny thing about all this is that not even an hour after having this conversation with Almost-Mother-In-Law, I ran across this. Funny how life can sync up sometimes. For those of you who aren’t going to click the link, it’s a freakin’ hilarious piece about talking to your kids about Ozzy. It’s done in the style of a bit about talking to your kids about sex or drugs, and it just so perfectly captures how my family does things that I couldn’t help but to share.

Maybe your family’s thing isn’t music, or maybe it’s a different type of music. Maybe it’s baseball or it’s larping or something. Maybe your family has many “things”. Maybe your family hasn’t found its thing, yet. Whatever the case, I think shared interests serves to unify a family and strengthen it’s bond. They can provide a starting point for engaging conversations. The more you’re able to communicate, the more chances you have to impart your lessons and values. The more often these come up organically as part of a mutually enjoyable conversation, the better the chances are that those little nuggets of information will really sink in.

Music is how my mom got through to me and I’m grateful that I had such an amazing teacher. I hope that I am able to use the same template to serve my daughter as she learns, develops, and grows, whatever her “thing” may be.

What Fuels Your Soul?

With me rockin’ this work at home gig, and my husband working for four 10 hour days, Thursday is my family’s Friday. It is also payday, so I spend the morning ordering our groceries and taking care of bills, then I prep and freeze as many  meals as possible for the week ahead. After that, I catch up my housework and try to squeeze in some writing. By the time my husband gets home I’m  more than ready to start our weekend.

We usher in the break with a few adult beverages and hours of good tunes. We sing and goof around, and just relax. Until our daughter’s bedtime rolls around, she rocks out with us. It’s my favorite part of the week and makes me think of my own childhood.

Music has always been a big part of my life. My passion for music began at home. My parents always had the radio on, and my dad is a musician. My mother was passionate about it as well, and we spent many, many nights dancing together in the living room. Those memories are priceless and I love creating more of the same with my child.

As I was sorting through some old posts from my now-defunct mommy blog, I ran across a post that perfectly summed up how I feel about the role of music in my life.  I smiled as I read about the way my daughter reacted to music at such a young age and I couldn’t resist sharing it here today.

passion for music, set your soul on fire, my daughter and I

*Originally published on December 19, 2013 at Life, Motherhood, And The Pursuit Of Happiness*

My daughter’s favorite song is “Hold On Loosely” by .38 Special. Every morning she picks up her daddy’s cell phone and hands it too him, watching expectantly as he puts on her song. She immediately snatches it from his hands and begins dancing. Watching her react to the music fascinates me and always puts a smile on my face.

Even in the womb she reacted strongly to music. At 7 months pregnant I went to Beatlefest in Chicago (which I guess is now called The Fest For Beatles Fans, but I refuse to make the switch), like I have every year with my mother, my aunt, and my best friend. Every night that child would kick my insides until I was sure she’d come bursting through my belly.

She did the same thing when I was 8 months pregnant and went to see Kiss and Motley Crue. I must note that she kicked more to Kiss than she did to the Crue, which disheartened me a bit and delighted her uncle.

She was born to a Beatles playlist and the instant she entered the world she was greeted to her father and I singing “All You Need Is Love”. Since then we’ve exposed her to a variety of music and there isn’t much she doesn’t like, although she is definitely starting to show some preferences.

What amazes me the most, however, is that it can just be the sound of one of us drumming on the table and she will stop whatever she’s doing and dance. It’s like some primal instinct that she just can’t control, something inside her just tells her to move. I know that feeling well. That divine moment when the music enters your being, touches you to the core, and everything else just falls away. All your worries, all your inhibitions, gone in an instant.

I live for that feeling. The rush that I get from certain songs and certain artists is beyond measure.It’s helped me through the worst of times and it’s enhanced the best of times. If I am to be entirely honest, it’s the only thing that makes me feel truly alive.  It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, and although it has caused me great joy, it has also brought a degree of pain. I found it hard to relate to other people from a very young age, which pushed me further into my obsession with music, which made it even harder to relate to others. Music was my salvation. Songs can’t judge you, they aren’t going to suddenly change, they can’t leave you.

Over time, music has become as essential to my well-being as air or food or water. Singing has become like a reflex to me, a lot of time I’m not even aware that I’m doing it. I’m sure it gets annoying for the people who have to be around me on a consistent basis, and I’m grateful for the people who choose to put up with it anyway. I’m even more grateful to the few people who really get how important it is to me.

Denied the release that immersing myself in music brings me, I turn into a whiny, nagging ball of stress. Almost-Husband has likened the phenomenon to a wild animal kept in captivity that needs to be let out to run. I think he nailed it.

I’m sure everybody has something that affects them so profoundly. I wonder what it will be for my daughter. While I hope that my daughter shares my passion for music at least to some degree, I also will never push her to it or try to divert her from whatever her passion may be. My only wish is that she finds fulfillment and happiness in life, and that she can put up with her crazy mother with an understanding smile.

Whatever it is you love, embrace it. Enjoy it. And don’t ever let anyone take it away.

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