Work hard. Be Nice. 

By now you, you all know my weekday routine of picking up my Mobile order at Starbucks and driving to work. I am a stickler for being on time each day. Traffic and inept people at Starbucks can mess with my timetable but I must plan accordingly for it. I need to get to work on time. In addition, unlike some people I know, I like work. I love what I do. Some days are downright challenging but I rarely have a day where I get up and say I am not going to the office. There also is not a day that goes by when I do not thank my parents for instilling this work ethic in me.I am sitting in an office doing what I love – managing a student and family population in an extremely large school district. It is only the third position I have held since college. My first gig out of the gates was for an insurance conglomerate (SAT word) which I cannot bring myself to even utter the name of as it still make me shudder when I think of how it all ended. That position lasted twenty years. I learned a multitude of lessons there about people and how they operated. It was not about the business so much as it was about managing people and how they ticked. It was the perfect arena to utilize what I had learned in one of my later Business Management courses. To this day, I thank that professor who introduced me to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Recognize that everyone has the same basic need and you will receive positive results. Understand that if you work hard and recognize what other’s needs are that you will be successful. Sure, there is much more to this theory but I do not want this blog to be a weeklong. Maslow and I became fast friends. In fact, when we were redecorating our living room last year I found the sign featured in this Blog episode. “Work Hard – Be Nice”. It is that simple. If you work hard and treat people with respect – you will reach your goals. You will. Maslow was not the only man in my life to instill this theory in my blood….in my bones.

In the summer of 1979, John Eastwood and I traveled on the LIRR to his office at the World Trade Center in NYC. I had been there countless times sitting in his corner office gazing at the Statue of Liberty and hoping I’d someday work in an office like his with a staff that was more like family than his work team. He had gained the respect of his team because he treated them like family and realized that they had personal needs and goals. I later learned how much my Daddy was loved because of how he made them feel. I worked each summer with Daddy until I went to college. I learned filing, typing, telex, receptionist coverage, and even letter writing (which by the way came to a halt when I did not proofread my letter to a Distributor. Yes, I had meant to write “Dear Ken…” but it came out as “Dead Ken”. That my friends is how my legendary typos started). My dad never let me call in sick to work. My friends were going to the beach and I was hopping on a train to work. I had lots to keep me busy and I loved it. When the business moved out to Long Island, I would carpool with one of Dad’s managers who lived in the next town when he was away on business. On one particular Monday morning, I was sick as a dog. I was suffering from the…well…”cocktail flu” after having partied too much at my friend’s graduation party the night before. I was green. Dad’s manager smoked a pipe each morning on the way in. I was fifty shades of green by the time we pulled into the office parking lot. I learned my lesson that day about calling in sick. You just did not do it. I did not learn my lesson about hangovers but that is a different blog.

By the time I started studying Business Management in college I was already well versed in the working world thanks to Dad. Mommy had also jumped in with instilling work ethic during my years in Bethpage. If you wanted to stay home sick, you could but there would be no TV and no going outside to play with your friends after school. If you were sick, you were sick. In bed. No questions asked. As a result, the only time I EVER missed school was when I had Chicken Pox in the 4th grade. I truly believe that work ethic is instilled in us at a very early age. My kids now actually want jobs. They want to work and earn money for themselves. It is refreshing. I do not want this to veer political but I will say this. Kids today need to work hard to earn money. Things. Get where they are in life. No one should be looking for a handout. I am pleased to report that Jake just completed his first 30 days at his new job. He received his review and was removed from the probationary period. I asked Jake how the review went. His response is just so genuine and pure. He said, “My manager thinks I am a hard worker and likes what I am doing. I treat the customers with a smile and always ask what else I can do to help”. Jake gets it. No surprise considering Ernie is one of the hardest workers I have ever met. For years in school, he worked three or four jobs to earn money for a car. Work ethic and hard work are an extreme attraction for me…just saying.

What will happen though with our next generation? I hope they do not take the easy way out and expect to skate through life. We now live in a world of instant gratification. Will that be a deterrent? I can ask Alexa for anything I want and it will happen. She makes our lives easier but will Alexa and her tech friends help us to get the job done? I suppose to some extent but she cannot make me want to go to work. She can’t make me want to help every single family I deal with at work as if they were my own. Instant gratification works for me to make my life easier but it does not replace good old fashioned/laser focused work in my eyes. In my book, you have to earn it.

With that, I have to get back to work. I have lots to do before I climb into my car and begin the drive home. Just remember – Work Hard. Be Nice. Four words to success.

 

 

To Every Season…

There is a certain time each year when I can feel the seasonal change coming. It is usually mid to late April when the air changes. Everything smells and feels lighter. There is a hint of grass in the air and you can almost smell the dew sitting on the lawn each morning. I start sleeping with the bedroom window cracked ever so slightly. My winter clothes are starting to feel heavy on me and frankly, I cannot stand wearing a jacket or coat to work anymore. It is here everyone. Spring has sprung.

Spring when I was a kid meant outdoor recess after lunch. We got to run amok for 19 minutes after being packed into the school cafeteria eating some type of meatball hero. Spring for me now means cute clothes, a weekly landscaper bill, weekly pedicures, the promise that school will soon be over for the year, ultra-cute work dresses, and the return of my ever-growing flip-flop/sandal collection…errrr, ok…addiction.

When we decided to stay in the Northeast, I used the change of seasons as one of my reasons for staying on Long Island. Once I got tired of one season…the next one rolled in. New clothing styles and holiday times. My tastes in the seasons have changed more in the past few years than ever before. It used to be that summer was my hands down fave season. I could visit the beach every day, swim in our friends’ pools, play outside, travel, and soak up every ounce of sun each day could deliver. Oh, and my birthday is in the summer. I would celebrate each day in August! Some will argue that I still do. The truth is though that I now enjoy each season and have found a reason to celebrate different events in each one. The birth of each season is a way to shed a little bit of our person and past and slide on into the next. It is our renewal in a way.

For me, my new love of Spartan racing officially starts in May. I have trained hard all winter long and I am ready to emerge onto the course. My toenails have all grown back from the prior season and are ready for another round of battle much to the dismay of my favorite nail technician who calls me her “Crazy Warrior Girl”. I shed the heavy sweatshirts and jackets and run in compression shorts and tanks through the mud and obstacles picking up cuts, scrapes, and countless bruises. I will heal I say as I slam into a wall face first and then smile after I realize that it could be worse – I did not lose a tooth.

Spring turns to summer and I continue racing and training like a lunatic. The gym is not air conditioned so I lose most of myself in a boot camp or lifting weights. Keep going I tell myself…it will hurl you through the next few months and hopefully over that wall with little to no help from fellow Spartans. I relax with floats in now my own pool and a few adult beverages at the end of each week. I still find solace at the beach where I often go to just stare that the waves and remember that the reason we are here is far more powerful than we realize.

Summer slows down. Before I know it, the sunsets arrive quicker and there is a chill in the air. The bedroom window is closed and I most likely will not touch the air conditioning button in my car until the following June. The trees start to turn the most brilliant colors. Starbucks turns into the Pumpkin Spice capital of the world and I am wearing black turtlenecks and jeans every weekend. Giants games on Sunday are carefully planned to include an appetizer and dinner during halftime. The Spartan season comes to a bittersweet end after the Beast and I again stare at my bruises and wonder how I got through it all. Fall also includes Halloween which I have always wanted to love but for some strange reason just loathe. Halloween could possibly be one of the reasons I am happy to see fall leave (pun intended) and move to winter.

Winter is sneaky on Long Island. The coats are suddenly heavier and before you know it, we are rushing to the supermarket for the last loaf of bread and gallon of milk because of an impending storm (which never seems to hit my town by the way leaving me with a loaf of French toast that I cannot eat). For me the best part of winter are the holidays. I live for Thanksgiving and still smile every time Santa Claus enters Macy*s Herald Square at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. It gives birth to the Christmas season, which still makes me feel like a little kid each year. I could do without New Year’s Eve each year but this is another blog for another day. The holidays melt away and we are left with the dreaded January through April stretch. The short days literally play with my moods and make me want to sleep until the following Christmas. I drive home from the gym in pitch black and collapse on the couch wondering what the hell I am doing training like this. Race season. It is coming. The seasons are changing. We are changing and renewing every few months. Feels good.

Let me get this published and book my next pedicure….

BON VOYAGE

So there we were with a pink and green Welcome Home Mylar balloon and a homemade Welcome Home sign at JFK Airport’s Terminal 4. Hard to believe that just 9 days ago Jules boarded a plane for Paris with 8 of her classmates. She was excited yet I suspect nervous. On the other hand, we were nervous yet I suspect excited on the inside. When it was time to say goodbye I hugged the stuffing out of Jules and realized that was it. Every day of our life together had been preparing us for that moment. Julia was heading off on her second big solo adventure.

All of the lessons learned in school and in our home were with Julia. Would she remember what we talked about…Be aware of your surroundings…trust your gut instincts…be polite to people…treat people the way you want to be treated…Would her “Scooby Senses” kick in while in a crowded space? I realized I still locked in a bear hug with Julia when I heard “Mom it is time for us to go”. I watched as she walked towards the security line and disappeared into the crowd.

The rest of the night was a blur. Somehow, I fell asleep despite the sheer panic I was feeling on the inside. On the outside, I was in “flight attendant mode”. Maybe you do it too…you enter into the “all will be well” mode and put on a sunshine and lollipops appearance. Never let them see you sweat. Right before I feel asleep I remembered the first night we brought Jules home from the hospital. I was a worried nut – worried that I would do the wrong thing. Julia was a wise kid from day one. She figured things out quickly and grew to be a VERY active girl with an extremely creative mind. Certain days were more…er…challenging…(yes challenging) than others and made me question my path as a parent and some days a person. I would think, “Was I being too harsh? Not harsh enough? By today’s standards, I am from the old-fashioned world in that I believe in being a parent and not a friend first. I like being old school. Anyway, the years went by and each year with Julia I would think, “When does this get easier? It does get easier, right?” Many nights I would be awake wondering what Julia would be like as an adult. Would she be like me? Would she handle things like Ernie in a very direct and matter of fact matter?

Day 4 into Julia’s grip and it hits me – our Princess is on the trip of a lifetime. She was literally off to see the world. Paris and five other cities and Monaco. She would arrive home a new person. More decisive. More mature. More independent. In two years, we will be packing up the car for college. That will be the ultimate test of how well have your prepared your child for the world. I digress. I cannot go there yet. This 9-day trip was enough for now.

I am standing at the gate waiting. All of a sudden, I was back at the steps of the preschool waiting for the kids to exit. It seemed like yesterday. I waited forever for these high school days. Suddenly I heard Jake say “There’s Julia!” I think he was actually excited to see her, which is crazy because these two are rarely excited to even exist in the same household. I looked up and saw our 16-year-old coming towards us pulling her suitcase behind her and wearing her fave Hamilton cap. She was smiling so big. I have not seen the same smile since I brought her to the Hannah Montana concert in 2007.

We all hugged and welcomed our girl back home. I tried to fight back the tears but decided not to. One the way out of the terminal, Jules held my hand and said “Mom I had the best time. Thanks for letting me go.” That’s when it hit me…No Jules…thank YOU for letting me let you go.” Here’s hoping you have many more amazing opportunities ahead of you. You earned your place on this trip and in what lies ahead. Boy Voyage Jules. The world awaits.

Eastwoods. Forever.

Sour Cream Onion Dip. Plain Wise Potato Chips. The New York Giants. UNC Basketball. Golf tournaments. Beach vacations in the motor home. Busch Gardens in shorts, white socks, and black dress shoes. Easter weekends. These are only a few things that remind me of Bill Eastwood. We all have that one relative that is a rock star in our world. He is mine. He is my Uncle Bill.

Stay with me here because this is all key to my weekend story. There will not be a quiz at the end however; all of this information will be on the final exam. Bill was the first son born to Grace and John Eastwood. He grew up a brother to John, Carol, and Grace. He married Mary and brought us Mary Grace, Billy, and Kathryn Rose. His brother John married Anne and had my sister Kathy and myself. Carol married Bill and brought us Bill and Diane. Grace married Alan and gave us Michael and Brian (and years later many more amazing cousins).

A few weeks ago, my Dad (that is right…John) asked if we would like to join he and my Mom on a trip to North Carolina to see Uncle Bill. Uncle Bill was recently diagnosed with the beginning stages of Dementia. Dad was insistent on seeing Uncle Bill now so that we could still witness his sharp wit. Kathy whipped the trip into shape and before we knew it…Kathy, Mom, Dad, and I were on a Delta flight to Greensboro, NC on March 31.

The plane took off and I realized how excited I was. It reminded me of how over the moon I would get when the Southern Eastwoods would drive to see the Northern Eastwoods a few times per year. I would wait for hours in the front window until their station wagon with the wood paneling would come gliding into the side of the house. All of the kids would produce and perform variety shows in my basement. We would eat at the “kids table” and devise game shows. We would have epic Easter egg hunts (at Easter of course – it would be weird if it was at Thanksgiving) and go to the beach or the Bronx Zoo on summer visits. Trips to Greensboro as kids was spent with fun, cookouts, and later many golf tournaments at the palatial Forest Oaks Eastwood Estates. We did not realize then that these tourneys would be legendary in our family history and storytelling. Words like “Shicken” and phrases such as “I think this just sucks” would reappear in every family story told by Billy and Aunt Mary. We would all fall down laughing. Our annual trek to Busch Gardens almost had a vanful of family members arrested on our quest to find a Waffle House. Good times indeed.

I was leaving my family behind while I traveled to Greensboro. Thoughts of what I needed to do upon my return was playing on my mind. Julia’s upcoming trip to Paris, the Junior Prom/Banquet, Jake’s job interviews, my work schedule, gym schedules, and a gazillion other things were floating in my head. Before I knew it, the pilot announced that we had landed in Greensboro. I glanced at my parents next to me. They looked so excited. Dad was nervous. He was worried about what he would find in Uncle Bill and it showed. My Mom…well she had somehow become involved with April the Giraffe and her impending birth and was concerned that she would miss the birth on the way to the hotel. They make me smile. I’m so happy I still have them with me every day.

Kathy’s carefully orchestrated details allowed us to sail through departure and the rental car pick up with ease. Waze navigated and delivered us to the hotel where we collapsed and let the cousins know we made it safely into town. I thought about my cousins. We were all over the place. Once one big family wrapped by a single cord, we had broken or unraveled into single cords…within our own families. We all had different responsibilities…sadness…deaths…second marriages…adoptions…sometimes horrible pain…and disabilities. We also had joy that we took time to celebrate every chance we can. This weekend though we were coming together again to rally behind Uncle Bill.

On day two together, my Dad fired up a slideshow he had put together of all of the last three family get togethers and played it while we were all together at an afternoon cocktail party. The room was hopping with the stories. All you heard was very loud laughing, screeching, and even some snorting by yours truly (you know you have gotten to me if I let out a snort). In the center of it all, was Uncle Bill sitting in front of the laptop watching the slideshow. He was smiling. The type of smile that you see on a child when he opens up his favorite gift on Christmas morning. It was the brightest smile I have seen in a very long time. The light was infectious. I took a step back and observed all of us. We were not 30, 40, and 50 year olds. We were 10 and 12 year olds again.

Sadly, we live in a today where it is all about instant gratification and the feeling that we are in a Power of One society. This weekend though….this weekend was not about each of us. It was about coming together as our family. When one of us is in need, we come together as family. It is powerful. None of our trials and troubles we may have at home were there. All of our single strands came together as one cord and it was wrapped around Uncle Bill. Someone pulled it tighter made him smile. It made us all smile.

It was hard to say goodbye to my cousins who are more like siblings to me. My mouth hurt from smiling and talking (my God I never stopped talking). Know what? I hope that hurt never goes away. I don’t ever want to know a day without my family. We are nuts, we are crazy, and the best part? We all love Uncle Bill. Thanks Billy, Paige, and Kathryn for the best weekend ever. I love you.

Eastwoods. Forever.

 

Believe…

Morning….Starbucks Barista Dan the Man hands me my coffee as I barely kiss the brakes on the drive-thru window line. I hear “Have a good day Karennnnnnnnnn”. I mutter thanks and hope he hears me as I shimmy my way out of the lot into traffic. The sun is coming up and I settle into another drive into work. Texts start appearing on my phone. Siri acts as my secretary with my girls as we chat about what Boot Camp classes we will take and what is driving us nuts at the moment (right girls?). Howard Stern is boring today so I turn to my iTunes playlists to get me going. Bethpage to Massapequa traffic was extra “special” and challenging this morning. I digress. That is another Blog topic for another day.

I thought about which class I was taking at Boot Camp tonight. It is a strength class that I absolutely love. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many classes I don’t love when it comes to Boot Camp. For those who are not familiar with my world, the gym has become my home. It has given me a new outlook on life and a new sense of strength that I haven’t felt in years. Quite frankly I don’t know if I ever felt this level of strength.

My mind jumps to what I’m training for. I set foot on this path to hopefully become healthy and finally look good in a pair of jeans. One class a week turned into two…three…then to five. I was hooked. My gym team asked me to join the Spartan team. In 2015 I declined the offer thinking that my sister’s wedding was immediately following the first race and how would my sister react if her Matron of Honor was hobbling down the aisle on crutches and with gashes all over my face. I continued to train with the team. I regretted not running Spartan that year but decided to commit to it the following year. I volunteered for a Spartan race at Citifield in April 2016 where I met many new friends from the Spartan community. I was hooked on the energy. I drew from their enthusiasm and training tips. If you asked Ernie, I started to become obsessed with the lifestyle. Little did I know how this enthusiasm would help me in the months to come. In June 2016, I became a Spartan when I jumped fire and crossed the finish line. My life changed forever as they placed the medal around my neck. That fire had reignited a force in me that I had forgotten about. I was 50 years old and felt like I could do anything. I was bruised, banged up, full of mud, and covered in cuts from head to toe. I didn’t care. I knew that I was never going back to the old Karen. She didn’t exist anymore.

Training sessions increased over the next few weeks. I was on a food plan that allowed me to drop weight and body fat while gaining muscle. I felt stronger and even more empowered. I ran a Tough Mudder and a Spartan Super. There were so many moments in that Super where I could feel myself changing. Was there fear? Of course there was fear. I grabbed a rope to climb the slip wall at the end of the race and pulled myself over. I saw the fire ahead of me and the finish line beyond the fire. I just had to make it over the fire. I charged forward and right before I was about leap, I froze. Froze. I attempted to hop over it and froze again. My teammates were cheering me on but I was frozen. Fear? I don’t know. Dammit I was a badass and I couldn’t do it. Suddenly there was a hand on my shoulder. This voice said “You are going over. Hold my hand and I will take you with me.” I said to this person I did not know “What if I fall?” He looked straight into my eyes and said “Then we fall together. We are Spartans.” I held his hand and we jumped. The tears started mid jump. I could feel them. I wondered if I was sobbing when my feet hit the ground. I was alive and not on in flames. I looked around for him and he was gone. I ran to the finish line and received my medal. I looked back. My friend said to me “You made it”. I said I have to go back and thank that guy. I was shaking as I said “I need to thank him”. I looked for him. I knew he was a volunteer based on what he was wearing. Everyone working there said they never saw anyone matching his description. I left there knowing that an angel had helped me and I was forever grateful.

I went on to finish the season by completing the Spartan Beast which turned out to be a 15.2 mile course in South Carolina. I had already been changed by this path I was on but that race. That race…I’m still trying to process what it did to me. When I returned home I realized that my life would never be the same. My outlook was different. My house was different. My outlook at work was different. I sliced friendships that just didn’t support me anymore. I started to realize that I don’t need certain people to make me feel special or important. I have the power to do that on my own. It was suggested that I leave this new lifestyle behind now that I accomplished my goal. I won’t do that. The old Karen was living in a very comfortable world…in a very comfortable house…in a very comfortable lifestyle. Comfort was no longer an option.

Traffic started to move and I tuned into the song that was on. It was “Believe in Yourself” from The Wiz. I heard these words…

If you believe

Within your heart you’ll know

That no one can change

The path that you must go

Believe what you feel

And know you’re right, because

The time will come around

When you say it’s yours

Believe there’s a reason to be

Believe you can make time stand still

You know from the moment you try

If you believe

I know you will

Believe in yourself, right from the start

I don’t care at what point you are at in your life. You CAN do anything you set your mind to. The fire within you can reignite any goal or dream you have. It is NEVER too late to accomplish something. There will be people to help you get there – angels who you just never expected to walk into your life and make a difference. Forever friends who can change your whole day with one word or look. Hopefully one day maybe just one person can see that if I can do this, that they can do it too. You just need to believe in yourself.

My Playlists

I’ve always considered the power of music to be extremely therapeutic. It is different things for different people. For some it may be background music…music to drown out what is going on around you. For me it has always been a way to Comfortland. I can remember discovering different artists and genres while sitting in […]

I’ve always considered the power of music to be extremely therapeutic. It is different things for different people. For some it may be background music…music to drown out what is going on around you. For me it has always been a way to Comfortland. I can remember discovering different artists and genres while sitting in my living room at home. We had a turntable or record player (stay with me millenials) that was on a tall brass stand. I’d flip through my parent’s albums and listen to all sorts of their faves. I grew up with Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams. I would repeat my turntable rituals at my grandparent’s house in Brooklyn every week with selections from Perry Como to an Irish folks singer who’s name I just can’t remember at the moment. The point being is that I was lost in music. It was fascinating to me and allowed me to think and just enjoy.

As my love of music grew through the years, I developed an appreciation for the artist and musician. This happened early on when I discovered that I cannot carry a tune. Sure I pretended to in chorus classes but the truth is I am just not a singer. I’m not good by any stretch of the imagination. I never let this deter my love of music appreciation. Hey, I was a good singer in the shower. Aren’t we all? Don’t even get me started on Karaoke. I’m a star on the Karaoke (or Karenoke as we later called it). This friends is another story for another blogspot.

I discovered concerts. Andy Gibb was my first concert at Nassau Coliseum when I was in 7th grade. Jean Daly and I were dropped off (yes, dropped off in 7th grade. That’s right. Don’t call CPS on my parents – it was the time and we as 7th graders were mature beyond our years) and enjoyed nearly 2 hours of Andy belting out tunes like “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” and “Love is Thicker Than Water”. I was hooked. It would be the first concert of many throughout these years. Sometimes seeing your favorite artist live was a religious experience while other times it was not. For years (don’t you dare judge me) I would sit on my gold/yellow flecked shagged carpeting in my room with ALL of my Barry Manilow albums around me. I’d read every single liner note on the album insert while listening to Barry belt out tunes as if they were written just for me. Years later I had the chance to finally see Barry at Jones Beach. He took the stage and I literally burst into tears. Suddenly I was ten again watching my idol sing those very songs to me. It was magical. One of the best performances ever in my mind. Ernie and I have seen Billy Joel 13 times and each time was a different yet religious experience. A few years ago however I found myself ten feet from the stage at Webster Hall. I had waited years to see this artist. I listened to every song he’d written…watched every show and movie he’d been in. He was my modern day Andy Gibb and I adored him. Ok, ok I even fantasized about him at times My ideal. I nearly passed out when he took the stage and seemingly looked down at me from his mic. Yes, the moment was here when I was eye to eye with Lenny Kravitz. After he took a swig from a huge unlabeled green bottle and stumbled that I realized that he was so drunk and high that he barely made it through 9 songs. I became disillusioned. Ernie called him a skid and I can’t say I didn’t agree. I still listen to his work but quite frankly I could care if he lived or died at this point.

One of the greatest inventions in my mind is the iPod or my iPhone in my case now. You could download music to a playlist. It is our modern day cassette tape. How many of us (I will slice those who cannot relate) sat for hours creating the best tape to reflect our moods? Ok no one? Come on. We all did. I dated a guy once who made me a bunch of “love” tapes that reminded him of our times together. Fortunately the relationship did not work out but those tapes were gold. I’m still making tapes…errr playlists to reflect moods and fave artists. I have my Training list for the gym, a Sunday list that I play while having coffee and watching the sun come up, Hamilton (sheer genius if you ask me), and a vintage Karen list.

Everyone has their own form of therapy. For me, it is the gym and music. Sometimes I combine the two. Music in my world is normally played at a ridiculously loud level. I’ll belt out a few tunes on the way to work after leaving Starbucks. Again, I can’t sing but that’s ok. I could care less. That’s the problem of the guy driving next to me.

Have a good week everyone…

 

 

My Playlists

I’ve always considered the power of music to be extremely therapeutic. It is different things for different people. For some it may be background music…music to drown out what is going on around you. For me it has always been a way to Comfortland. I can remember discovering different artists and genres while sitting in my living room at home. We had a turntable or record player (stay with me millenials) that was on a tall brass stand. I’d flip through my parent’s albums and listen to all sorts of their faves. I grew up with Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams. I would repeat my turntable rituals at my grandparent’s house in Brooklyn every week with selections from Perry Como to an Irish folks singer who’s name I just can’t remember at the moment. The point being is that I was lost in music. It was fascinating to me and allowed me to think and just enjoy.

As my love of music grew through the years, I developed an appreciation for the artist and musician. This happened early on when I discovered that I cannot carry a tune. Sure I pretended to in chorus classes but the truth is I am just not a singer. I’m not good by any stretch of the imagination. I never let this deter my love of music appreciation. Hey, I was a good singer in the shower. Aren’t we all? Don’t even get me started on Karaoke. I’m a star on the Karaoke (or Karenoke as we later called it). This friends is another story for another blogspot.

I discovered concerts. Andy Gibb was my first concert at Nassau Coliseum when I was in 7th grade. Jean Daly and I were dropped off (yes, dropped off in 7th grade. That’s right. Don’t call CPS on my parents – it was the time and we as 7th graders were mature beyond our years) and enjoyed nearly 2 hours of Andy belting out tunes like “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” and “Love is Thicker Than Water”. I was hooked. It would be the first concert of many throughout these years. Sometimes seeing your favorite artist live was a religious experience while other times it was not. For years (don’t you dare judge me) I would sit on my gold/yellow flecked shagged carpeting in my room with ALL of my Barry Manilow albums around me. I’d read every single liner note on the album insert while listening to Barry belt out tunes as if they were written just for me. Years later I had the chance to finally see Barry at Jones Beach. He took the stage and I literally burst into tears. Suddenly I was ten again watching my idol sing those very songs to me. It was magical. One of the best performances ever in my mind. Ernie and I have seen Billy Joel 13 times and each time was a different yet religious experience. A few years ago however I found myself ten feet from the stage at Webster Hall. I had waited years to see this artist. I listened to every song he’d written…watched every show and movie he’d been in. He was my modern day Andy Gibb and I adored him. Ok, ok I even fantasized about him at times My ideal. I nearly passed out when he took the stage and seemingly looked down at me from his mic. Yes, the moment was here when I was eye to eye with Lenny Kravitz. After he took a swig from a huge unlabeled green bottle and stumbled that I realized that he was so drunk and high that he barely made it through 9 songs. I became disillusioned. Ernie called him a skid and I can’t say I didn’t agree. I still listen to his work but quite frankly I could care if he lived or died at this point.

One of the greatest inventions in my mind is the iPod or my iPhone in my case now. You could download music to a playlist. It is our modern day cassette tape. How many of us (I will slice those who cannot relate) sat for hours creating the best tape to reflect our moods? Ok no one? Come on. We all did. I dated a guy once who made me a bunch of “love” tapes that reminded him of our times together. Fortunately the relationship did not work out but those tapes were gold. I’m still making tapes…errr playlists to reflect moods and fave artists. I have my Training list for the gym, a Sunday list that I play while having coffee and watching the sun come up, Hamilton (sheer genius if you ask me), and a vintage Karen list.

Everyone has their own form of therapy. For me, it is the gym and music. Sometimes I combine the two. Music in my world is normally played at a ridiculously loud level. I’ll belt out a few tunes on the way to work after leaving Starbucks. Again, I can’t sing but that’s ok. I could care less. That’s the problem of the guy driving next to me.

Have a good week everyone…