Something New for Me

Today’s post is a plug for my favorite duo, Straight BS (, and for a new writing skill I was able to practice, thanks to them!

West Virginia Eastern Panhandle musicians Bruce (B) Reich and Steve (S) Van Order blend vocals with mandolin and mandola, melodica, fiddle, dobro, guitar, cello and electric and piccolo basses to deliver a uniquely creative and energetic performance. They feature Bruce’s melodic originals as well as creative arrangements of fiddle music, American standards, bluegrass, country, and rock tunes.

Bruce recently asked me to write lyrics for what was then one of his unnamed compositions. Though I’ve written my own songs before, it was challenging to find the words that not only fit the melody but matched its mood. Here’s a video of “Somehow,” the end result:

It was really a fun experience collaborating with the two of them to come up with the finished product!

For more videos of their different take on some old favorites as well as some of their originals, check out:

Straight BS will be performing at the Berkeley Springs Brewing Company from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 26. 

Thank you!

First, I have to thank my dear friend Rev. Sarah Anders for turning me on to “A Year of Being Here, ” a daily email subscription curated by Phyllis Cole-Dai. Each day, Phyllis sends an email with a poem dedicated to mindfulness, and I find it to be a nice way to start my morning.  I sent her a few of my own poems for consideration, and Saturday morning my inbox had my own poem coming back to me.  So a second thank you to Phyllis.  Here’s the link to her web site and my poem “Another Moment.”

More About Writing (and changing) our Life Narratives

An article in today’s Washington Post explains how writing down our “life narratives” can be the first step in changing the parts of those narratives we wish were different.  For example, if you’re always telling yourself that you can’t see a project to completion, try creating a story about yourself where that isn’t the outcome.  Quoting from ‘Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,’ written by University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy D. Wilson, the article’s author writes:

In the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, “small edits can lead to lasting change.”

There are some interesting exercises at the end of the article to help get you started.  Check it out!

Journaling: Good for your health!

The benefits of journaling seem to be in the news more and more these days.  Recently, I saw this piece describing some of the physical health benefits to getting those thoughts out of your head and down on paper (or computer screen):

According to Dr. James Pennebaker, a psychologist and leading expert in the field of journaling, research studies have shown that journaling strengthens immune cells called T-lymphocytes and is associated with drops in depression, anxiety, and increases in positive mood, social engagement, and quality of close relationships.  The article quotes him as follows:

“We know from multiple studies that there are enhancements in immune function, drops in blood pressure, improvements in sleep, and drops in other markers of stress … Other studies find faster wound healing, greater mobility among people with arthritis, and the list goes on.”

If you’re interested in learning journaling techniques that could help you feel better physically as well as emotionally, sign up for my next Journal to the Self workshop the weekend of March 13-15 at the beautiful Cacapon Resort State Park in Berkeley Springs, WV.

See to register for the next session!

Scientific Research Shows the Power of Writing!

In the January 19 edition of her Well blog in the New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope describes some of the research that shows the benefits of writing about ourselves.

In particular, she mentions studies about writing and then re-writing what is called our “personal narrative.”  How others perceive us — or, how we think others perceive us — can strongly influence how we perceive ourselves.  Writing those perceptions down and then editing them can help us alter our behaviors.

Were you the one in the family who “always had a bad temper?”  Did co-workers at a job label you someone with a thin skin?  Are you known among your friends as a whiner?  How have these perceptions held you back?  How have you used them as excuses?  And what would happen if you no longer claimed them?

Many of the exercises I teach in my Journal to the Self workshop can help you identify the false perceptions you have allowed to become ingrained in your personal narrative, and how to eliminate them.  See to register for the next session!