Our first Music Together class!

For Christmas, Marsha, my mother-in-law, gave us a session of Music Together classes at our local chapter.

Will and I postponed signing up with the excuse that we were going to transition from one nap to two and had no idea when that would happen and thus could not commit to a time.

Marsha reported back to me that the woman she had spoken to had said earnestly, “oh, they should come sooner.”

And she was totally right.

If you know me very well, you likely know that I have a history of crying at such mundane banalities as long-distance phone call commercials (woah, dated reference!), soap operas, the Great British Baking Show, virtually all movies… You get the idea.

I didn’t have a chance to put on my eye makeup before we headed over and within the first five minutes, I was so glad. It was all I could do to stifle my tears. My mascara would have been all over.

The kids were soooo cute. The songs were soooo fun. It was such a relief to just be and forget my busy week and weekend. And watching Quinn become comfortable and then boogie his little butt off during free dance… Well, my heart warms and tears spring just thinking about it.

When Will and I put off signing up, we were seeing these classes as another weekend obligation.

But, I can’t wait to go back. I had just as much fun as he did. I’m excited to hear him add some of the songs we are learning to his repertoire that currently consists of mainly a slurred “Twinkle, Twinkle” (or is it the “ABCs”?? I can’t wait to figure that out!).

Our teacher in the class made a distinction between making music and consuming music; a distinction that I hadn’t considered before. We listen to a lot of music as a family, and we have a lot of silly songs that we sing already. After Sunday’s class, our daily activities have become even more musical. Will actually got out the guitar the other night. Instead of singing along to music on the stereo, I’m more likely to sing a song and invite Quinn to join. And I downloaded the Music Together app so we can sing the songs we sang in class on our way to and from daycare.

We are making more music as a family and it is the best ever.

In class, we are making music with our neighbors and that’s pretty cool too. No cell phones are allowed so you are forced to be present, musical and silly. I can’t think of a better way to spend forty-five minutes a week.

My Life is Good

So good, I’d hazard to say it’s practically perfect.

I have an amazing home with a boyfriend I love. I have a cat of 12 years who I know as well as I know myself. I have a new kitten (still nameless!) to work in some excitement. And yesterday I exercised for the first time in weeks.

The #1 reason that my life is awesome: it’s 10:33 on a Monday and I’m lying in bed with my coffee and the kitten working on this website, jenniferheller.com.

This site has been a labor of love for many years. Whatever my passion du jour (mosaics, pet portraits, wood carving), I never stop wishing for more time and energy to devote to this site. I wished for so much time to work on this site (and other silly projects) that I threw caution to the wind and quit a full-time job I’d had for years on March 31st, 2009.

Since then, I’ve been forced to overcome many challenges. My perfectionist instincts, for one. And the realization that my dreams change almost daily, for another. The first dream I followed was a failed attempt at a pet portraiture business, Van Gogh My Pet.

Hangoverville was even less of a success. Lushes in Love caught on, but never proved profitable.

But these attempts were not without their lessons. I learned that “If you build it, they will come” is frankly not true. No, if you build it and promote it AND it’s brilliant, then they will come.

I launched Artsy Geek to capitalize on the web development and marketing skills I’d been building since I built my first website in 1996. Artsy Geek, I thought, would pay the bills and then, finally, I’d have the time and energy to work on this site (and other silly projects).

This year has been particularly trying. Artsy Geek has tripled its business since January.

Tripled! I didn’t see it coming.

That growth has brought with it more challenges than I ever expected. I regularly bemoan our success, saying “If I’d known it would be this hard to grow a business, I never would have launched it.”

I wonder at this moment if I still mean that. With a team in place that I can trust, I can scale back the 60+ hour work weeks. With the confidence to charge higher prices, I don’t have to work as hard for every dollar we earn. With a great reputation, we have enough business coming in that I don’t feel the need to jump at very last dollar. (Knock on wood!!)

And having survived on practically no income for many months, I can truly appreciate every dollar in my wallet.

With this new found breathing room, my sister suggested that I take my mornings to myself. With my mornings to myself, I can be sure to exercise more often and — perhaps most importantly — to pursue my long-term dreams of being a writer, a blogger and a talk show host.

So here I am. My head sings the Randy Newman song, My Life is Good:

Sure, I don’t have a housekeeper to write my songs for me or Bruce Springsteen asking me to be boss for awhile. But I do have a purring kitten, a stack of blog entries I’ve been dying to write and infinite appreciation for what I’ve built.

Ching ching!

Apparently, we’ve been living under a rock.

And under that rock, there was no Gotye, no Kimbra, and certainly no Somebody That I Used To Know.

Thanks to Lindsay, we’ve crawled out from under that rock. I’m afraid that perhaps we were better off before. My brain will never be the same.

Anyone have any tips on how to get this song out of your head?

A good first step would probably be to stop listening to it.

Bravery is Rewarded — How I Finally won at Karaoke

If you know me (or follow this blog), you know I love karaoke. We go a few times a year to the Shattuck Down Low on Tuesday nights. It’s pretty much the highlight of my life.

I have tried to win their Valentine’s Day and Halloween Karaoke Contests for years. Awhile ago they started a contest every Tuesday where you could win a $50 bar tab by being awesome.

About a week ago I decided I was finally going to perform my favorite karaoke song of all, Pulp’s This is Hardcore.

I had performed it at Jenfest 2007 to much fanfare, but never for an audience of strangers. It’s one of my favorite karaoke songs because I love the song and it’s super long…which means more time with the microphone. #ilovemicrophones

There’s one major reason it’s not ideal: It’s basically about the making of a porno film. I love it for it’s drama and intrigue, but not necessarily the subject matter. Yet, I had decided that I was finally going to throw caution to the wind and sing it…

And then I chickened out, choosing my staple, Talking in Your Sleep by the Romantics, for my first song. It was a truly dissatisfying karaoke experience.

A gin and tonic later, and I was ready. I went for it. My love for the song took over any question that this was an inadvisable song to choose and pure joy overcame me.

No wonder they picked me to win. Though the emcee claimed I won to reward my courage to sing such a naughty song so well. Whatever it was, I sleep soundly now that one of my life goals has been achieved.

A good day, I’d say. Continue Reading

Do you talk to yourself?

Will and I are up late talking about talking to ourselves. He was talking to the record collection, you see…asking what should be played. The Stranglers song Tank won, btw.

He reflects that he always felt ashamed of how much he talked to himself as a child. He was ashamed up until he read that Alexander Hamilton shared the same habit. With Alexander Hamilton, he talked to himself so much that people actively complained about it. But he was a genius, so what were they going to do?

I remember a late night talking to a treasured photo of an ex-boyfriend. It was that talk that got me out of loving him…and into moving on. I think of what fun I’ve had over the years talking to myself…as if I were a character in Days of Our Lives and what I was heard would motivate the next murder plot…and as if I were another person, keeping myself company.

But I’m a people person.

Do you like talking to yourself? Are you ashamed?

Continue Reading

Wisdom from the Trenches

I did some volunteer consulting for Women’s Initiative the other week. What fun it is to reach out to fellow woman entrepreneurs! People who understand what it’s like; whose lives are similarly a roller coaster ride that never ends.

One of my clients shared the following lyric as one that helps her be okay with not knowing how things are going to play out…even when it comes down to how you’re going to pay your staff or afford that necessary expense this week.

A mind, that wants to wander,
round a corner,
Is an un-wise mind

– George Harrison, Be Here Now

It turns out the song’s pretty weird though. But don’t let that ruin this wisdom!  Since I acquired it, I’ve applied it everywhere…from planning travel expenses, to dealing with tumultuous relationships.  Fretting about the future takes pleasure from the present.  And who knows, we might not be here in another ten minutes.

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Partying, Partying, Yeah!! Fun. Fun. Fun. Fun.

Until today (coincidentally a Friday), I’d never heard Rebecca Black’s inane song, Friday.

That did not keep me from learning all the awesome tid bits …

“Front seat? Back seat?? WHICH ONE SHOULD I TAKE??”

“Gotta have my bowl…gotta have my cereal!”

And incorporating them into my life. Not a Friday goes by without a joke about our absent cereal bowls or our indecision around where to sit.

Well today seemed as good as any to finally hear her song. Alex and I just listened to it, and man, what a song. Here it is so you can experience it too:

I have to say…If I were a young person learning the days of the week from Rebecca Black, I would know that yesterday was Thursday, and tomorrow is Saturday…and even that after that we will have a Sunday. But what’s after that??!

You’re letting down young people everywhere, Rebecca. Everywhere.

Suggestion: Release a song called “Monday, Monday.” Here, we’ll even start writing it for you:

“Monday, Monday.
Back to school on Monday.
Yesterday was Sunday. Sunday.
Did I do my homework? Homework?
School, School, School, School.
Everybody’s looking forward to lunchtime, lunchtime!
Tater tots! Tater tots!
Chocolate milk up my nose!

It’s Monday…Monday…
Spitball in my hair.
Tomorrow is Tuesday. Tuesday!
Gotta do my homework! Homework.

…and so on.

Continue Reading

ADVICE: Don’t over do it on the head-banging! And the DANCING!

No school today! I just laid around watching the telly in pain while working on my history project. In pain?, you say? Yes, well too much head-banging has a type of hangover. My neck hurts like hell! So do the bottom parts of my legs!

ADVICE: Don’t over do it on the head-banging! And the DANCING!

But it was worth it! I had a great time last night! Even though now I’m sitting around in bed with a heating pad on my neck! The sounds of I swear by All-4-One being distorted by my walkman in my ears.

I <3 that song! It’s my new song! Right now all I have is a radio-recording but “I swear”–get it– that I’ll get a good copy! But I wish last night’ hadn’t ended! I just loved it! I mean, it was alot better than the dances! I don’t know why but I came w/ no expectations so I had a great time! I don’t know why it’s just… Maybe I just had a better time ’cause there weren’t as many people so I wasn’t so self-conscious! Toodles! Chow! Continue Reading