30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 23 Music

This is a picture of me with my favorite musical artist, Jewel! I’ve seen her perform multiple times, but I had never met her or bought a VIP ticket until her most recent performance in May in Texas. I wrote about how I excited I was to meet her here.It was a weird experience. We went to this room with other VIP ticket holders, and the room was entirely silent. I could barely contain my excitement and didn’t understand why everybody was being so sullen and quiet. Maybe they were nervous? It was very casual. We waited there until she was ready, and then she just came in the room and we lined up to meet her. I expected a table where she would be sitting and some kind of fancy backdrop and lighting or something, but no, it was just a regular room, and she just stood there awkwardly ready to meet us. It must get so old for her. But, I knew I would only have a few moments with her, so I got in the back of the line and tried to figure out what the heck I was going to say to her. What do you say to your idol?

My husband met her right before me and told her I was her biggest fan and then gave me the rest of his time with her. I’m not sure exactly what I said, but I know I had a huge smile on my face and rambled on about how much I love her and her music, that I also play guitar and enjoy playing and singing her songs, and that I had seen her perform many times and was super excited to meet her. I laughed and said, “this MIT get so old for you.” She was very sweet and said it doesn’t get old. We posed for a couple pictures then it was someone else’s turn. That was it! Then we found our seats and enjoyed the concert. It was amazing also because we got to go up on stage and see all her guitars. What a fun experience.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!



31 Day Music Challenge: Day 19 A Song From Your Favorite Album


“Pieces of You” by Jewel is a song from my favorite album. In fact, it’s the title track to the album. I love the song and the lyrics.  I can play it but haven’t recorded a YouTube video yet.  It talks about how all the little things we criticize other people for are things that we also have in ourselves.  It talks about many examples of putting other people down when you have some of the same qualities.  It’s not nice. Don’t do it.

Read the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!


JEWEL (05/27/06)

JEWEL (05/27/06) (Photo credit: minxual)

Jewel - CMA Fest 2008

Jewel – CMA Fest 2008 (Photo credit: tncountryfan)

Stand (Jewel song)

Stand (Jewel song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Satisfied (Jewel song)

Satisfied (Jewel song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 Become 1 (Jewel song)

2 Become 1 (Jewel song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Jewel 2008-06-05

English: Jewel 2008-06-05 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Way (song)

This Way (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Famous recording artist, Jewel, performs durin...

Famous recording artist, Jewel, performs during the Secretary of Defense Holiday Show 2000, “A Tribute to the Air Force.” She was one of many stars which supported the event at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on December 17th, 2000. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten (song)

Ten (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jewel performing for US troops in 2000.

Jewel performing for US troops in 2000. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m meeting my idol, Jewel Kilcher Murray tonight! Yes that’s right, later today in Ft. Worth, Texas, I will be attending the VIP meet and greet event before her show. I’ve never met a musician at a VIP event, and I am beside myself with excitement and anticipation!
What’s the big deal? Celebrities are people. I get that. They don’t have superhuman powers. But they are celebrities for a reason (usually..), and to me this feels like it will be a brush with greatness, the only time in my life that our paths will cross.  She’s been such a strong influence on my life, I feel like I’m some kind of superfan.  I want her to know how much I love her work and how much I admire her.  I anticipate only have a few seconds in person with her, and I have so much to say I just had to sit down and type some of it out.

She possesses amazing musical talent and is a true artist. She writes her own songs and can entertain a crowd for hours with just a guitar.  There are few other artists who possess that ability. I tried to list them today:  Eddie Vedder, Bob Dylan, Neil Young.  I can’t think of another female though.  Jewel does play with a band sometimes, and she does put down her guitar sometimes, but I’ve also seen her spend hours just singing and playing guitar. Pure talent. I admire her so much. She makes being a singer/songwriter look easy as it comes to her so naturally.  Her songs are simple yet beautiful.  Her lyrics are profound and poetic.  She is sensitive and artistic.
I’ve met a few other celebrities (President Carter, Chelsea Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Smits, Pierce Brosnan), but this is the first time I will ever meet one of my absolute favorites, one that makes me freak out with excitement. Jewel tops my list of favorite artists. If I was going to meet Michael Stipe of R.E.M., I would be flipping out too. I love Jewel so much, I added meeting her to my bucket list. It’s the first thing on my list to check off since I made it.
I’ve been a big Jewel fan ever since her first single, “Who will save your soul?” I remember when it first came out, and the first time I heard she was playing in concert was at the 9:30 Club in DC. I didn’t go! What a dummy. After that, I finally saw her for the first time at the WHFStival, a concert with multiple bands put on by the local progressive music radio station. I think that was December of 1996. She opened the show with this song, my favorite, Near You Always.  I fell in love with her and sang along with every song on the album, Pieces of You.  Here are some of my favorites from that album:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5Rjfyc7Gnc ( a song about drug addiction..I can play this one on the guitar, but I can’t sing it at the same time).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uy_kz2myh8 (the title track, love the candor, succinct words that say so much)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGj77BrEgj4 (recently learned how to play this song)

Her story was intriguing; raised in Alaska in a log cabin, she was eventually discovered singing in a coffee shop in San Diego, CA. She was living in her car and dirt poor, doing what she loved to make ends meet.    While I’ve never lived in Alaska, I have lived in a car before and experienced being dirt poor so I could kind of relate. People started telling me I looked like her, that girl who is singing in the bathroom in her video. I was so flattered because I’ve always thought she is incredibly beautiful. In 1996, I snuck into a MTV Pre-Inaugural Ball to celebrate Bill Clinton’s reelection, and reporters there kept mistaking me for Jewel. They tried to interview me a few times, and I just laughed and told them they had the wrong person.
Her music has become the soundtrack to my adult life. I bought every album and sing along with every single song.
Music is my life, and I’m a big fan of live concerts. This will be the fifth time I’ve seen her I think. Although I’ve seen her multiple times (DC, VA, NV, TX) I’ve never seen the option to buy VIP tickets. I’ve seen that option for other artists and clicked on the link to find out more information. It’s always been way too expensive. I was amazed at how reasonable her price was, so I went for it.  Here are more links to my favorites over the years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH5bC2jTluM (Down So Long – about seeing light at the end of a tunnel, things have to get better)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5gQeA5uETU (Hands – about finding personal power, my favorite quote comes from this song “In the end, only kindness matters”)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHbQjLc7GXc (A Life Uncommon – enough said)

I’m trying to add more links, but my right-clicker isn’t working on my mouse for some reason. I’m just going to take that as a sign from the universe that I’ve written enough in this post and go take a shower before my big night. I’m so super excited I can’t stand it.  What do you say to your idol??


Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!


Fiction Friday #17: Mothers


My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, Kelly DeBie provided the prompt. This is episode seventeen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first sixteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love

Your mother checked herself in last night after an attempted suicide. She is stable physically so far today, but she may need ongoing treatment at a behavioral health facility if she doesn’t show improvement.  She is clearly a threat to herself, so hospitalization is indicated.  And as you know, this isn’t her first hospitalization.  We are lucky she called for help.” Dr. Goldstein explained. “Her suicide note mentioned you by name so I wanted to inform you and see if we might be able to set up another therapy session online.  I know you are far away and can’t drop everything to come into town, although a personal visit is exactly what your mother probably wants.”

“Are you kidding me? What did it say? Why is this my fault? What did she do?” Amanda asked incredulously.  Her heart was beating fast imagining her mom lying in the hospital room alone.

“Amanda, she cut her wrists and then called 911 on herself before it was too late. She talked about the last time she saw you two years ago when she changed her flight and left early because she was so uncontrollably upset. That was  a few years ago as you remember.  She said you haven’t been calling her enough since then. How you don’t even care if she is alive and how she feels ignored and unloved. Your mom is hurting a great deal Amanda. I’ve tried over the years to help you two repair your relationship, since you were a child in fact.  It’s hard for you to understand her multiple conditions, but she feels very isolated and alone. She places an overwhelming amount of pressure on you to take care of her when really she is the mother and you are the child. It’s a classic behavior pattern for parents with Borderline Personality Disorder.  Add depression and anxiety to the mix and she needs a lot of help navigating through her life.  Although as you know she doesn’t like to have a label or a diagnosis or disorder.   I know this is hard for you. So please let’s sit down and talk about this.”

“Hard for me? Trust me I am dealing with a lot. The last thing I need right is for her to blame me for her problems. I don’t have much energy left to give. She is like a sinkhole of emotional energy. This is why I can’t stand to talk to her. Instead of being there for me when my life turns upside down, she makes everything about her….and even worse she blames her misery on me. I don’t know. I need to think about it.  She can’t manipulate me like that.  We haven’t patched things up since she left my house early during that one Christmas vacation years ago!  We’ve barely talked and have only had email communication for the most part.  Communicating with her is stressful for me and toxic to my life.  I’m a mother.  My kids need me healthy and happy.”

“This is a cry for help. She needs you.  She needs help, and I am working with her.  Think about it and let me know if you can make time.  Just call my office, and they will schedule a Skype conference.”

Amanda thanked her mom’s psychiatrist and hung up the phone. They knew each other for years, and she admired his calm demeanor, but knew inside she didn’t have the energy for a face to face meeting with them. Her mom was so frustrating because she was in denial about her mental conditions. She refused to take medication or accept diagnoses, but she claimed that she was overly sensitive and held on to baggage from her past as a defense strategy. On one hand she would say she lived a rough life,  and on the other hand she would say there was nothing wrong with her. She wanted people to feel sorry for her and to treat her differently because she was overly emotional and sensitive. Yet she refused to do anything about her problems herself. She blamed others for her unhappiness and raised Amanda with the constant threat that she might kill herself when they got in fights. Amanda grew up with the uncertainty of not knowing whether she would find her mom dead one day, and that it would be her fault because of something she did wrong. It was a cruel and unfair burden to place on a child.

     Now after all these years, she actually tried it. Unbelievable. I can’t believe this is happening. I need her to be there for me. I’ve lost so much. I’m hurting now. Other people can call their moms when they need support. Other people spend time with their moms, have fun and feel support.

She remembered that Christmas vacation that changed history with her mom.  It was the last time Amanda invited her.  She changed her flight to leave early on the day after Christmas because she was so upset she decided to take herself out of the equation.  She couldn’t control her emotions and felt agitated and upset, living in her own dramatic world.  Impulsively, she came downstairs that morning saying she was leaving a full week ahead of schedule.  Like she was doing us a favor because she caused such a scene in our family’s house the day before.  She unloaded emotional baggage to Richard explaining how her own parents never loved her on the main stairway in the house while the kids retreated to their bedrooms with doors shut to avoid their grandmother’s outburst.  At the time, Amanda did what she knew best.  She let her go.  Richard drove her mom to the airport.  A door inside Amanda’s heart closed when the front door closed behind them.  It was a final physical declaration of what Amanda grew up knowing all along, that her mom was unavailable to her.  Even if they both wanted a good relationship, it just wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime.

Her phone started ringing again.  The ringtone interrupted her train of thought with Jewel’s angelic voice saying “Follow your heart, your intuition. It will lead you in the right direction.”   It was Robert‘s school calling.


“Mrs. Keilsth?”


“Hi it’s Cindy in the nurse’s office at Canyon Creek East.  I’ve got Robert here with me. He is sick and needs you to pick him up.  He’s got a fever of 103 degrees.”

“Oh hi, sure, thank you so much for calling. Be there in a few minutes.”  Amanda pressed ‘end’ on her iPhone and shifted gears.

     I’m going to have to deal with my mom later.  Right now Robert needs his mom.

Mothers Love

Mothers Love (Photo credit: krandolph)


Here is the prompt:

May is the month to celebrating motherhood. Start this week’s post with the following:

“Your mother….”:

Please visit my other Friday Fiction Friends to see what they wrote with the same prompt:


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Susanne’s World
DeBie Hive
Grass Oil
World’s Worst Moms
Clearly Kristal
Near Genius

31 Days of Music: Day 1 Your Favorite Song

English: Jewel 2008-06-05

English: Jewel 2008-06-05 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a new month, and I feel like doing a new challenge. So, I’m going to post every day this month about music. Here is a link to the 30 day music challenge on my friend, Kelly’s, blog.


My favorite song is “Near You Always” by Jewel.


It’s sweet and simple. Her words braid together to tell a story of love and desire wrapped up in rejection.  It’s about loving someone you can’t be with.  It’s hard to pick one favorite song, but this is it if I have to pick one. I wish I wrote it. I can play it on the guitar.  Here is a video.


Daily Prompt: Musical – What role does music play in your life?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's compositions charact...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s compositions characterized music of the classical era. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music plays a huge role in my liferuns started playing violin when I was three years old and Also played a little guitar, piano, and clarinet when I was growing up. My mom got her master’s degree in piano and organ, anthese frequently played classical music at home. I am very familiar with many of the classical composers and downloaded some of my favorites like Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi on my iPhone.

I grew up in a DC suburb and started going to live shows at a young age (with a fake ID). I was into all kinds of music in the new-wave, post-punk era. When I was around nineteen years old, I saw the Grateful Dead for the first time. I was never a true “deadhead” who travelled the band around on tour, but I did see many of their shows as well as Jerry Garcia Band shows. I was a REM head from the beginning. Saw them many times. Followed the Meat Puppets on tour from Virginia to Colorado one summer.

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote a separate post listing all the shows I’ve seen, and that list grows all the time. Lots of awesome bands and solo artists come through Dallas, so we get out to concerts quite often. One of my favorite artists to see live is Jewel. Her talent amazes me. She is one of those rare artists who can entertain you with just their voices and a guitar.

English: Jewel 2008-06-05

I typically listen to music every single day. I hit shuffle on my iPhone and see what songs come up. It’s always interesting whenthe mix of songs matches something that’s on my mind or that’s going on in my life. Music makes me feel emotional and reflective. It can also bring out high energy and help to release anger. I like to make playlists for different purposes, and before digital music, I loved making mixed tapes and CDs as a cathartic experience when going through certain changes. I also sing all the time, either with or without music. Even though I irritate people, it’s my way of being joyful. And that is my right, damn it!

One of my dreams is to write a song one day. I still take guitar lessons and love to play all kinds of music, from rock to reggae, from folk to pop, from rap to bluegrass. Music is my life. When words fail, music speaks. It’s poetry put to rhythm and melody. It’s a sublime way of communicating. It’s math and science.

Thanks for reading this entry! Peace out.

My Music Habit



1. REM

2. The Police

3. U2

4. Duran Duran

5. Prince

6. Alabama

7. Grateful Dead

8. Bob Dylan

9. Steep Pulse

10. Ziggy Marley

11. James Brown

12. Circle Jerks

13. Fleshtones

14. Echo & The Bunnymen

15. The Ramones

16. Dishwalla

17. Hole

18. Gin Blossoms

19. Bush

20. Jewel

21. Gwen Stefani

22. Kelly Clarkson

23. Akon

24. O-Town

25. Alice in Chains

26. Red Hot Chili Peppers

27. Steely Dan

28. Jane’s Addiction

29. Meat Puppets

30. 10,000 Maniacs

31. CSNY

32. The Cure

33. David Grisman

34. James Taylor

35. Ani DiFranco

36. Joan Osborne

37. Britney Spears

38. Christina Aguilera

39. Beyonce

40. Pink

41. Pussycat Dolls

42. Justin Timberlake

43. Timbaland

44. T-Pain

45. Lil Wayne

46. Snoop Dogg

47. 311

48. Soulja Boy

49. Young Jeezy

50. Jay Z

51. KISS

52. John Legend

53. Lynyrd Skynyrd

54. Kid Rock

55. Green Day

56. Taylor Swift

57. Kool and The Gang

58. Rick Ross

59. Van Halen

60. Sublime

61. Sam Adams

62. Staind

63. Linkin Park

64. Incubus

65. Sheryl Crow

66. Rush

67. Rage Against the Machine

68. Fugazi

69. Waxing Poetics

70. Phish
71. Zeitgeist

Daily Prompt: Kick It

What is the eleventh item on my bucket list?

1. Go to Seoul South Korea and meet any of my relatives.
2. Speak Spanish.
3. Learn to solo on the electric guitar.
4. Write a song.
5. Be a grandmother.
6. Take Calculus.
7. Turn 100.
8. Visit my dad’s grave in NY.
9. Be a great grandmother.
10. Visit the Hawaiian islands and Tuscany, Italy again.
11. Meet Jewel.

30 Days of Truth: A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)

Dear Jewel,
You and your music have gotten me through some tough ass days.  When I think about a band or artist who has helped me get through tough times, I think about when my toughest times were. I hit rock bottom when my first husband and I separated, and subesquently, I lived as a single mom for four years in my mom’s house (1994-1998).  I had a baby girl (same birthday as you!), and I lived in my mom’s basement in Springfield, Virginia (a DC suburb) while I put my life back together..  A long time fan of the DC music scene, I remember when you first played at the 9:30 ClubPieces of You was released in 1995, and Who Will Save Your Soul was always on the radio. People told me I looked like you in that video with the girl with a guitar singing in the bathroom.

Jewel in the video for Who Will Save Your Soul
me in 1997

Your voice caught my attention, and your story intrigued me.  Like you, I had lived in my car before. I knew what it was like to be broke.  I knew what it was like to struggle.  I listened to your first album over and over and sang along to every track. I knew all the words by heart.  Who Will Save Your Soul made me think about how we choose to live our daily lives.  Pieces of You pointed out interesting parts of human nature.  You Were Meant For Me was simple yet expressed the pain of heartbreak.

Previously a granola-type person who didn’t shave or wear makeup, I started getting my hair highlighted, wearing makeup, and shopping for a professional wardrobe as I struggled to make ends meet as a single mother.  As I learned to enhance my natural beauty, people kept telling me I looked so much like you.  Being compared to you is a high compliment!  I remember crashing the 1996 MTV Pre-Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC with a girlfriend, and reporters kept asking me if I was Jewel.

Spirit came out on CD, and I moved to Reno, NV in 1998.  Down So Long, What’s Simple is True, Deep Water, and Hands were instant favorites. Again, I loved to sing along with every song.  I’d moved to Reno with a guy, and a few months later, it fell apart (long story).  I met my husband there in 1998 and worked as a teacher for three years supporting my daughter.  We were best friends, and then he stepped up to the plate and asked me to marry him. Shortly thereafter, we got married and had a little girl together in 2000.  Your music inspired me to listen to my heart.  What’s simple is true – those words are very true.

In 2001, we moved back to VA so my husband could attend law school.  9/11 happened, and your song, Hands, became one of the songs being played to inspire people.  This Way was released.  Jesus Loves Me, Break Me, This Way, and Standing Still  were my favorites.

From that point on, things in my life have been on an upward trajectory.  As you and your music continued to evolve, I’ve always been inspired to be “the kind of woman I’d want my daughters to be.”  In 2010, I wrote this blog entry and ended it with lyrics from your song, You Are What You Are. 

I play guitar, and I love playing your songs.  I’ve seen you performing live many times including at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA, S.Lake Tahoe,CA, and Bass Performance Hall in Ft Worth, TX. Your poetry and song lyrics continue to enrich my life and inspire me to be gentle with myself, to find beauty in the world all around me, and to follow my intuition for it will surely lead me in the right direction.  My deepest gratitude for you and your music.  Thank you Jewel!

Susanne Nelson