Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Day of the Year

So, here we are. The very last day of 2012. It's time for a bit of reflection and thoughts about what has happened this year.

January 2012
January brought a surge of creativity for me as well as intern #19! I posted quite a bit about changes to my website including the launch of the section about Therapeutic Music Experiences (TMEs).

February 2012
February found me involved in the 2nd Online Conference for Music Therapy, at home with bronchitis, and at the end of my January creative surge. I thought I would be able to start the CMTE process, but that did not happen financially.

March 2012
Manipulation and Mallets were the themes for March. I started my webinar series with a presentation about making mallets. The first webinar went fine...I have since changed the presentation format since the first format was little bitty, but it was an empowering feeling to be able to engage in online conferencing. For this, I have to thank John Lawrence, a music therapist from Canada who started the Online Conference for Music Therapy and who introduced me to this form of communication. I also welcomed intern #20 at the end of the month.

April 2012
The debate about music therapy's entry level Masters degree took over lots of my attention in April as did clients who did their best to injure me (and succeeded!). April was a challenge as I was not feeling like I was able to complete the tasks that I had set for myself. There also seemed to be a lack of creative impulses going on.

May 2012
I finally saw some changes in this month. A co-worker who had caused me LOTS of issues in the previous year (and who had contributed to my feelings of challenge in the early part of this year) was FIRED! I also had a break from work. This gave me lots of time to sit and think about topics like Supervision and Things I Love to Use in Music Therapy.

June 2012
The birth of the Happiness Initiative. I spent lots of time in the summer finding things that made me happy and attempting to find alternatives when things did not make me happy. I was able to find lots of things that made me feel happy, and I was able to work through the things that did not make me feel happy in a way that allowed me to figure them out!

July 2012
July found intense heat, cranky feelings (mostly from me!), and a quest to find happiness in small situations. Lots of things were changing around me, and this month was a challenge to my ideas of my role as a therapist at my facility.

August 2012
I celebrated 2800 views of the blog in the month of August. (Strange to think that I have gone from 2800 views to over 5000 views in just 4 short months!) I was thrilled that my little blog had been seen that many times. The happiness initiative continued.

September 2012
Aaah. Such a bad month for me. Patient readers were given a glimpse of my frustrations with my supervisor and with myself.

October 2012
In a word, CONFERENCE! Bella took over one of the posts, and there were lots of thoughts about the political process, debates, and my responsibilities as a citizen.

November 2012
The past month was challenging for many reasons. I feel like I have been targeted by my supervisor for inappropriate reasons, and I wrote about it. I also tried VERY hard to find the positive things going in my life rather than just wallowing in the negative. I found many things to be thankful for, especially my clients who allow me to interact with them using music as a medium.

That brings us to December 2012.
There wasn't much to be said for the first half of the month - continuing issues with my supervisor, looking for a new job, making difficult decisions about my future, and trying to continue to organize my living space. I have finished this year out at my parents' house and will be starting off 2013 heading back to my routine!

On this last day of 2012, I am happy to be leaving this year of challenge. I am hoping that 2013 will be a better year for me and for all of you!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Adventuring Through Thrift

Today is my last day to purchase anything before having to figure out how to get it back to my neck of the woods. This may not seem like such a big deal, but when you have to pay to ship stuff 1500+miles away, every ounce becomes precious to you!

Here's the situation. I am currently visiting my parents and will have to send my holiday presents and everything I purchase today back to my home on Monday. I have one backpack and one checked bag to take back with me. The conundrum?? How many boxes will I need to send, and how much will it cost??

Regardless of that conundrum (which I will take up seriously after my adventures today), I am going out shopping with my Mom and Sister. This fills me with a bit of trepidation as they are champion shoppers who often disappear for hours at a time and travel all over the lower half of the state looking for "just the right thing." Now, I consider myself a decent shopper - I like a good deal and will hunt until I find the right thing, but I am NOTHING like these two! So, I hope to a) survive, b) find some great things for my clients back home, and c) escape after only four stores! (Dad's on tap to get me if they aren't ready to go home after two hours!!! I love my Dad and his difficulty understanding their need to shop!)

So, we are going to start off at the thrift stores.

I am a music therapist for a school district and a non-profit organization. I have no annual budget for instruments, music purchases, or materials. I do get assistance when my stereo breaks, but no other financial assistance from my facility. (I have asked about getting a budget line item, but am always denied by the powers that be!) So, getting new things for use in my clinic is my responsibility. As a result, I am quite the penny-pincher when it comes to materials for my clinic.

I have learned how to make my own instruments, mallets, visual aids, seat covers, bags, you name it! One of the things that I have found, however, is that there are just things I cannot make. For those things, I prefer to buy on the cheap! The first place to look is a thrift store.

My inspiration - Mom's Garage - almost all thrifted!
I love thrift stores, but really like going with my Mom and Sister. They can sniff out bargains and have creative imaginations. The thrift stores that they have found are always crowded both with people and with wonderful things for my music therapy clinic, Mom's Occupational Therapy practice, and my Sister's 1st/2nd grade classroom. We've decided that lots of teachers must donate their stuff there since it is easy to find things to use in our various roles as school personnel. Saturday is also buy one, get one day! So, when I go into the store and find an electronic drum toy for $3.98, I can get another one! This sends a thrill down my spine!!

Now, in order to be a really good thrifter (which I admit, I am not), you have to go at least once a week, pay very close attention to what is available, and learn to buy what you see when you see it! If you wait, you will miss out on the item and the deal. Sometimes the thing that you want is part of a larger packet full of things that you don't really want. Buy it anyway and donate the things you don't really want back to the thrift store. Understand the layout of the store, and get to know the people who work there - they can help you find things!

Once you have your things, remember that they may need some loving care to get back into full use. Find a really good stain removing formula. Use large lingerie bags to wash the stuffed animals. Be prepared to repair book covers or seams. Use wipes to clean the electronics and use fresh batteries. Always remember that you are getting something used, so its life may not be as long as something new, but the cost of the item was great for the amount of life that you will be getting! (Does that even make sense??) I don't know about you, but I am much more comfortable giving a used item to a potentially destructive client than something that cost me $25 and is just out of the box.

In previous trips, I have found a mini drum set (missing the cymbals but that is all - I wonder who would give up the drums but keep the cymbals??? Obviously someone who knows nothing about kids and cymbals!), many electronic guitar toys and keyboards, and a thing called a Learn Through Music Device. I have two of these devices and about 15 cartridges that offer learning concepts and songs in a friendly, cartoon character environment. Best of all, in my humble opinion, these devices are old, clunky, but still use a touch screen to operate. I love them and eagerly scour the thrift stores for the devices every chance I can get. I just recently took them out of the closet and used them with my little kids. A young lady to prefers to scream in music therapy because I won't only sing the songs that she wants to hear sat and played with the buttons for 20 minutes before losing interest! It was amazing to me!!

Who knows what my shopping trip will yield today??

Off to my adventure for the day!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Forgive me for rambling a bit, but my brain appears to have shut down for vacation!!

It is time for a rest.

I am currently at my parents' home, away from my usual routine, and enjoying some time where there are little to no demands placed upon me. A week of rest is a luxury in my life, but one that is a necessity at times. My problem? I keep thinking about all the things I could be doing if I was at home rather than away. Sigh.

The holiday was a good one for me as a music therapist. My family members gave me various and sundry items that will enhance my therapy practice. Some new instruments, several new games, and a VERY interesting device that seems to be called, Symphony in B. Doesn't this thing look cool? I cannot wait to get things going with my little bits with diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder! You move the instrument pieces into a center area and press play. After that, you hear music with the different instruments and can change songs. Let me tell you, my brain is full of "I wonder if" statements!

I really enjoy getting into a time where my brain starts to think about being a music therapist again. This signals to me that my period of rest has done its job - a time away from all things that frustrate me about my job and a time of renewal. I haven't had this type of feeling about being ready to get back to the work of a music therapist for quite a long time. It is nice to know that things appear to be returning to the status quo.

I may not see you before 2013. If not, have a great and safe New Year's celebration wherever you may be!

Happy New Year's, music therapy friends!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Getting There One Step at a Time!

What you are seeing here is the update to my office! Remember the shelf picture from before? Here is the new laminating station ready for new projects! Notice that the space in front of the shelf is actually clear! If you could see the bulletin board, you would see that most of the paper is gone, the laminator has its own place in the office now, and that the specialty papers that I use occasionally have their own place as well! There is still lots of clutter, but I can see that things are getting more organized as I move along!


Here is the rest of my new creativity station! The scrapbooking boxes hold my materials for making file folders, Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) visual aids, and most of my Dollar Tree finds! The rest of the paper and cardstock is in file boxes under the scrapbooking boxes. The binder and the binding materials are in the same place! Can you imagine??

I have found that my biggest enemy in this process has been Pinterest (yes, Sarah, I look at Pinterest now! I completely blame you for this!! I refuse to become a pinner, though, as I know it would eventually take over my life!) If you have never been on the website, Pinterest, I would suggest that you take it slowly! Anyway, when I get on that website, I see examples of offices that are so organized, I would never be able to relax there. You know the ones... Everything white and sparkling, fit into a custom-made drawer, and entirely too precise for me! Every time I start to look at the organization sites, I end up feeling inadequate! So, I have had to stop!

Are there things or people in your life that tend to lead you towards feelings of inadequacy? You know, the person who can play barre chords on the guitar without having to look at her fingers, or the person who makes all of his gifts from scratch, using just a jigsaw and his imagination? I am sure that you do.

A secret that I FINALLY figured out, after many, MANY years, is that those people also feel those things - sometimes, even about you and me!! The adage, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, is often true for us. I often feel that I SHOULD be doing things differently from what I am actually doing.

I am constantly trying to remove the word SHOULD from my vocabulary. It often indicates to me that I was supposed to be able to be perfect, see into the future, and automatically know what would occur in every situation. I am not able to do any of those things. SHOULD also seems like a cop-out. I SHOULD do this, but I won't. I try to be a bit more active, rephrasing my sentences to be, "I WILL do this differently next time!"

So, my office will never be as pristine as the pictures on Pinterest, but my office WILL be more organized and functional in this new year.

Out with feelings of inadequacy - in with feelings of forward movement!!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

An Overview

I enjoy a good overview and took advantage of Wordle to see what came out of my blog this year.
Here you go! A word representation of what I have been writing as you, patient readers, have been reading! Thank you for doing so!!

I started this blog almost seven years ago as a place for me to write about my passions - specifically the passions of music and of therapy. This year, I have written about the joys and challenges of being a music therapist in the year 2012.

I'm hoping that next year's Wordle collage will include lots of references to CMTEs, webinars, and exciting new products offered by specially designed to improve the therapeutic lives of music therapists!

On this very dark, very cold December morning, I am thankful for this year of growth and challenge - I have learned so much about myself and my role in the much, MUCH larger world of music therapists!

Happy New Year, and may 2013 be a year of continued progress and acceptance for music therapy as an effective treatment modality for every client out there!!!!!