#1091 You are beautiful just the way you are

Colbie Caillat

The pressure to measure up to some cultural standard of “beautiful” – to wear the right clothing and makeup, have the culturally accepted body type and convey sexiness (and, of course, accept blame if she’s assaulted) – is so powerful…


#1062 One of the best peace songs ever

Wailin' Jennys

We were driving a mountain highway, on our way to a meeting, when a colleague popped a Wailin’ Jennys album into the car’s CD player and introduced me to One Voice from 40 Days. I loved the group’s sound from…


#1059 Older ladies rock! And so does Donnalou Stevens

Donnalou Stevens

Donnalou Stevens will make you cheer; photo from her Facebook page

If you’re feeling down, meet the irrepressible Donnalou Stevens. Her Older Ladies video will rocket your spirits right out of the doldrums. It is no wonder it has gone viral since it was posted on YouTube in early June.

As an artist she creates joy and magic with her colourful art. She says in her Kickstarter video below that when people kept telling her the lyrics of her songs wouldn’t leave their heads, she decided she was never going to write another negative song. Her vision for her next project, If I Were Enlightened, is no small potatoes. She says:

I see this campaign in and of itself as an art project, a big collaboration, worldwide, with whoever wants to be a part of it, like a community, a community that stands for kindness, generosity, magic and play and celebration. That’s really what I want to create.

The 55-year-old says she feels as if she just got her wings, and it’s time to fly. Her Kickstarter fundraiser passed its original goal with time to spare. That means more good times are coming, and we are all invited.

Yee haw! Donnalou Stevens gives me hope.

You can follow Donnalou Stevens on Facebook and Twitter.


#1058 Music finds the vibrant soul inside dementia patients


Music touches Henry’s soul; photo clip from video below

The elderly and infirm may look empty, but they are Alive Inside. That is the title of a film being released this month that will make you look at people with dementia and major cognitive and physical challenges with new eyes.

Dan Cohen is the visionary behind it. He is a social worker who volunteered in a nursing home to test his idea that music could transform life for aging resident. He began loading iPods with music carefully chosen for residents. Watch the video about how that worked for Henry, and you can see how brilliant his idea is.

The pilot project proved so successful Cohen formed Music & Memory, a non-profit “that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or inform through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life.”

Dan Cohen is transforming the lives of people too often written off. He gives me hope.

You can follow Music & Memory on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

This post initially appeared on Hope Habit.


#1053 It’s not over till the old lady dances

Paddy and Nico

Paddy and Nico at Britain’s Got Talent; photo clip from video below

Paddy began dancing when she was two and a half years old. She stopped to rear four children.

Years later she and her husband moved to Spain. He died there 18 months later. She wanted something to do so began taking lessons at Nico’s dance academy.

This was not just a whim. It was a passion. Nico’s lessons took her farther than most 80-year-olds would dare go. They took their act to Britain’s Got Talent and wowed judges and audiences alike.

Paddy’s was a dream deferred. She gives me hope.


#1052 First-time, best-selling author at 65

Laura Ingalls Wilder; photo via Wikimedia Commons

When she began penning the books that would become one of the most successful children’s series of all time, Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65. Her homesteading family had not been particularly extraordinary in the heartland of late-1800s America. What made…


#1046 Salut Salon salts a classical quartet with the spice of fun

Photo of Salut Salon from their Facebook page

Photo of Salut Salon from their Facebook page

My love affair with classical music began when I picked up a bow and started scraping it unmusically across the strings of a violin. In spite of my screeching renditions of simple pieces, I could hear the stories embedded in the notes. My mind would hear a waterfall, see deer bounding through the forest, pick up a tea cup at a garden party, slip into pirate gear and sail through a storm. When I listened to classical music played by a professional orchestra or a local, amateur symphony, I was lost in another world.

But how can young people today, immersed in a world heady with distractions, be seduced by music? Part of the answer lies in a quartet called Salut Salon. I learned of them through a link to their performance of “Wettstreit zu viert” (“Competitive Foursome”). Their antics were hilarious. It is no wonder the video has been viewed more than 9 million times.

Comedic nonsense is, of course, only a small part of what they do. They are highly talented musicians who bring irresistible passion to their performances. But along with their virtuosity comes a healthy dose of fun. It shines through their videos and must be sheer magic in a live performance.

By taking their music seriously but adding creativity and joy to their performances, Angelika Bachmann, Iris Siegfried, Anne-Monika von Twardowski, and Sonja Lena Schmid attract people who might shy away from the stuffy formality of most classical quartets.

They give me hope for the future of fine music.

You can follow Salut Salon on YouTube and Facebook.