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always dance…

We came across an amazing quote; no idea who wrote it, but we absolutely love it because it reminds us to celebrate this event called LIFE:

“As soon as you die, your identity becomes a “Body”. People use phrases like: “Bring the body”, “Lower the body in the grave”, “Take the body to the graveyard”, etc. People don’t even call you by your name whom you tried to impress your whole life…

Take chances…Tell the truth…Learn to say NO…Spend money on things you love…Laugh till your stomach hurts…Dance even if you are bad at it…Pose stupidly for photos…Be child-like…

Moral:  Death is not the greatest loss in life…Loss is when life dies inside you while you are alive…Celebrate this event called LIFE…”

Seriously love it! It’s true. We need to take more chances and laugh more and dance…always dance… (Ooga-chaka, ooga-ooga Ooga-chaka, ooga-ooga Ooga-chaka).  We need to live our lives as if we really mean it and appreciate each moment. We can’t keep sitting around waiting for the life we are “going to have someday”. We have to stop waiting for things to be as we want them to be and start celebrating what they are right now in this very moment. That’s what we need to do gosh dang it!!!

Thank you to everyone that came out tonight to celebrate another Tir Na nOg Fall Kilt night. We had a packed house. Special thanks to Bobby Glass and the Raleigh Roadhouse staff for hosting us. To Born Again Heathens —  especially Scott Ervin for help with sound.   Cheers to our great fans and friends — and of course the brilliant Albannach. And THANK YOU RALEIGH for your continued support of Celtic Events.  

Last night we also raised a glass in memory of our friend Patrick Taylor was laid to rest last month.  

Thank you Annie Nice for being a pillar of the Celtic community here in Raleigh.


what trifles constitute happiness…

“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional,” Oliver Sacks wrote in contemplating music’s singular power over the human spirit — a power that has humbled some of humanity’s most brilliant minds into a state of awe that transcends the intellect.

Among them was the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844–August 25, 1900). He who proclaimed that “god is dead” and believed that nothing worthwhile is easy found in music life’s sole unmerited grace.

In an autobiographical fragment quoted in Julian Young’s altogether fantastic Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography (public library), the German intellectual goliath writes:

God has given us music so that above all it can lead us upwards. Music unites all qualities: it can exalt us, divert us, cheer us up, or break the hardest of hearts with the softest of its melancholy tones. But its principal task is to lead our thoughts to higher things, to elevate, even to make us tremble… The musical art often speaks in sounds more penetrating than the words of poetry, and takes hold of the most hidden crevices of the heart… Song elevates our being and leads us to the good and the true. If, however, music serves only as a diversion or as a kind of vain ostentation it is sinful and harmful.

Nietzsche wrote these lines two months before his fourteenth birthday — a detail doubly poignant when contrasted with the “vain ostentations” marketed to teenagers today. But his profound reverence for music never left him. Toward the end of his life, he immortalized it in an aphorism included in his 1889 book Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer:

What trifles constitute happiness! The sound of a bagpipe. Without music life would be a mistake. The German imagines even God as a songster.

Complement the wholly illuminating Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography with the great philosopher’s ten rules for writers and his heartening 1882 New Year’s resolution, then revisit these seven essential books about music and the mind.


a nationwide tribute for fallen firefighters…

For the 10th year in a row, members of the band will be attending the 35th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg, MD.  This special Weekend honors the service and sacrifice of the families of fallen firefighters. New survivors will have the opportunity to meet fire service survivors from across the country, share experiences, make lasting friendships, and begin to look ahead.  It’s a time for pipe bands across North America to come together to honor their fallen comrades through music.

Our hearts go out to the families of these fallen firefighters. Their families have become members of a fraternity no one seeks to join.

These heroes are no longer with us. But we can tell you in our hearts, we will always remember and be grateful for your husband, your wife, your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your daughter, your son. We will make sure that their names and their memories live on in the hearts, minds, and souls of our community for generations to come.

This is our commitment to you. This is our duty —- For Our Fallen.


For more information on the memorial — and to watch live streaming of the candlelight vigil and memorial service — visit their website @


we can be all in or we can get out…

When things aren’t working the way you want them to, or you feel you’re surrounded by problems, it can be tempting to look outward and try to change the things you feel are causing issues. Chances are the issues you’re facing aren’t so cut and dry. The solution to the problem might just be your attitude. That’s what pastor and educator Charles R. Swindoll believes:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Good advice – thanks Amy Rees Anderson.



reason, season, or lifetime…

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
— Unknown



innovation, inspiration, and hard work…

Albert Einstein  said — “Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.”  Creativity is one of the most intrinsically rewarding endeavors we engage in.  Creativity requires a combination of innovation, inspiration, and a tremendous amount of hard work. It allows us to explore both the wondrous potential and the incredible detail of things. And let’s not forget that those little shots of dopamine that creativity releases in the rewards center of our brain…how could you not love that?!

Every single one of us has the ability to be creative. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of Creativity:

Do’s —

  • Do be curious on a constant basis. Constantly ask “Why?” and “Is this the best way to do it?” Recognize that others may do it a certain way simply because that is the way it has always been done, not because it’s the optimal way.
  • Do believe you can do it. In order to accomplish anything great you are going to have to believe that you can. In believing that you can, you open yourself up to the infinite source of inspiration that exists within each of us.
  • Do your research. Coming up with creative ideas stems from understanding the problems or area of focus in depth. Gather data, ask questions, look at what has been done before and look for ways to improve upon it.
  • Do get started! The number one most important element in creating anything is to start!
  • Do stay humble and teachable. Ask others for their advice, opinions, and experience. Be willing to listen and learn from the input of others. Then consider all you learn and make the decisions that you personally feel best about.
  • Do know that the best ideas don’t have to be your own. It’s your implementation of the idea that will lead to success, not the idea itself. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but those who implement them are priceless.
  • Do course correct when necessary. The more you learn in the process of moving forward the more you understand how to adjust your course to take you where you ultimately want to go. See course corrections as a positive element in your progress.
  • Do persevere. It’s never been a matter of being the smartest or the most talented, rather, it’s always been a matter of moving forward, falling down, getting back up, and continuing to move forward a little wiser each time. Always keep moving forward. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is perseverance.” – Steve Jobs

Don’ts — 

  • Don’t be afraid to start. It is called the start for a reason…it is the beginning, not the end.
  • Don’t over criticize your early ideas, doing so stops your creative juices from flowing. “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” –Joseph Pearce
  • Don’t wait until you find the perfect idea to start. Whatever idea you start with will morph over time anyway as you continue to learn so don’t get hung up, just get going.
  • Don’t wait to figure out every little detail before you start. It would be impossible to think through every scenario and every possibility.
  • Don’t get discouraged when things don’t go as you’d hoped. There are going to be a million failures before you achieve ultimate success, accept that it’s all just part of the process.
  •  Don’t ever do anything that would compromise your integrity. Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Enough said.
  • Creativity is one of the most exciting and enjoyable parts of life. It motivates me better than anything else can. As Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Not only is it fun, it’s also highly contagious, so the more of us that will get creative, the faster we can spread more fun!

From Amy Rees-Anderson


fight or flight…

To grow and improve is a desire that most all of us share. Yet, in order to grow and improve we must first be willing to acknowledge our areas of weakness; we must accept who we are in order to become something better. So how can we best recognize our weaknesses? We can stop defending and start listening.

As Ken Blanchard declared, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Feedback is the quickest way to learn about our weaknesses and those areas we most need to improve. Knowing our weaknesses is the most important step in overcoming them. So, why then do people get defensive the moment they receive feedback that challenges or corrects them if that is the very thing needed for them to improve?

We have all heard the term “fight or flight” in describing what happens to someone when feeling physically threatened. When a person’s views, ideas, or behaviors are threatened, especially when they have put significant time, effort, or money into them, there is a similar response known as being “defensive”. Any suggestion whatsoever that conflicts with their idea or behavior can send a person into defensive mode. The person’s nervous system begins to overheat and their body becomes tense. In this state, they are unable to take in much new information as they become solely focused on defending their position.

There are many different defensive strategies used when a person is feeling challenged, criticized, or corrected: They will deny, make excuses, challenge, rationalize, explain, justify, blame, avoid, withdraw, or go on the attack (just to name a few). To a person on the defense, any new knowledge feels threatening and they are unable to see any side but their own. Learning and growth become impossible when a person is defensive.

Given that our desire is to grow and improve, and given that we cannot grow when we are defensive, it is imperative to take steps to avoid this response. The most important element in avoiding it is to listen. Our ability to form healthy relationships with others in business, whether it be coworkers, advisors, board members, managers, clients, etc, is a direct result of our ability to listen well.

Sometimes when hearing feedback, we must force ourselves to take a deep breath, or, if necessary, ask to be excused for a moment so you might step away and regain our composure. Then we can return with a clear head, ready to actively listen.

It is important to note that when we are feeling tired or stressed out we can react defensively without meaning to, so it’s important to stay self-aware of how our emotions may be influencing our reactions during these times.

Be careful not to expect everyone to see things exactly the same way you do. One of the best things about diversity of thought is that it helps us to view things from different perspectives, so welcome the opportunity to expand your horizons. If, while receiving feedback, you are feeling attacked, feel comfortable to express you are feeling that way in a calm and respectful tone. It may very well be that the other person isn’t even aware that their tone is causing you to feel threatened, and your expressing your feelings might help them be more sensitive with their approach.

As the other person is talking, look for areas you can agree with them. Finding these areas of common agreement will help both parties to feel collaborative rather than combative.

If you truly can’t find any points to agree with then ask for specific examples, not in an accusatory way, but in a way to show that you have a genuine desire to better understand their point of view by seeking examples that will help illustrate the problem more clearly for you.

Be quick to apologize when you should. Doing so shows a tremendous amount of maturity and respect for the other person. It shows that you are willing to be accountable for your behavior and it demonstrates that you can be trusted to take responsibility for your actions.

Stay on topic. Don’t use the conversation as a way to start bringing up your own grievances that are unrelated to the current discussion – that is a destructive tactic that only manipulates you into believing that you are superior to the other person and therefore don’t need to listen.

After hearing the other person out with an open mind, if you are still struggling with their point of view, simply thank them for sharing their views with you and let them know that you genuinely want to take time to ponder what they have said, stating that you will come back to them after you have given it more thought.

When someone is willing to take the time to give you constructive feedback, listen. Remember that truly confident people are able to listen respectfully to other perspectives, then to genuinely consider and evaluate if there is truth in what others are saying. They are able to do all of this without feeling that other perspectives are in any way diminishing their own. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to learn. If you want to improve, stop defending and start listening.

~Amy Rees Anderson (you can follow my daily blogs at )


standing out…

Too much time and energy in life gets spent trying to fit in…trying to be seen as “normal”.  I personally think that normal is pretty boring.   After all, why be normal when you can be exceptional?! When something simply “fits in” it is too easy to blend in, to go completely unnoticed.  But when something stands out you cannot help but notice it.  You cannot help but have your attention drawn to it.

Now I am not talking about standing out in your physical appearance – I am talking about standing out with your character.  I am talking about standing out by going the extra mile, by being extra kind and compassionate toward others, by living a life of integrity.    And in today’s world, those qualities will definitely make you a person who stands out.

Every day we have the choice to STAND OUT.  Every day we have the choice to focus on being amazing…to go beyond the average or the typical….we have the choice to be EXCEPTIONAL.

Why follow the crowd when you can be leading it?
Why shoot for ordinary when you can be SPECTACULAR?!

Be proud to STAND OUT!  Be confident to stand up for what is right, even when you are the only one doing it.  Don’t lower your standards to fit in with the crowd.  Instead, let your example be what lifts others around you to raise their standards to yours.  Be a leader.  Stop worrying about fitting in and start aiming to STAND OUT!

From Amy Rees-Anderson


falling into place…

Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.”  The severity of a crisis or challenge is determined not necessarily by the traumatic situation or event, but by your reaction to it.

The word “crisis” in Chinese is formed with the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” A crisis presents traumatic disruption or threat, but it also presents a unique opportunity for growth.

While you are in crisis, you are forced to function outside of your normal comfort zone. The sheer nature of a crisis or struggle creates a certain amount of present moment awareness, which is where the solutions live.

Our natural inclination is to look and get away from a crisis situation as soon as we possibly can. This desire to avoid pain and upset is a natural human response, but moving through or away from a crisis without taking the time to understand how it has impacted you can be a mistake. The feelings that get kicked up do not disappear because we stop looking at what happened. They go underground and continue to impact your life in ways that can be very confusing. Denying feelings and pushing them down will eventually distort them in such a way that it is difficult to understand why you might be responding to current events in your life in a particular way.

Below are a few ideas, influenced by an ancient set of Buddhist concepts, to maximize your growth/benefit from any crisis or challenge.

All Experiences Are Part of Your Journey:  If you can accept that all experiences, even the ones you do not want, are part of your life journey, you will look at a crisis or challenge with different eyes. Expecting that there will be difficulties along the way sets you up to react less negatively when things happen. Having patience with the process of your crisis will help you gain insight. Patience allows you to welcome difficulty with strength and endurance rather than fear, anxiety, and avoidance. None of us likes to be in turmoil, but if we can endure the turmoil with strength, without complaining or denying, we become ennobled by it.

Find the Gem: In every painful experience, there is a gem of self-learning. In order to gain the wisdom and growth from the experience, you must be willing to give up a victim mentality and be open to the profound life lesson that is waiting there for you. There is a gem in that mine of murk and mud!

Be Grateful for Everything: During the crisis, if you can remember to be grateful for all of your blessings, your pain will be lessened. It is so easy to focus on what is wrong, but no matter what is wrong, there are still so many things that are right. Gratitude softens the harsh sting of a crisis or challenge and helps to instill hope in your heart.

This story perfectly illustrates the title quote from this post:  “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.


healthy competition…

The 2016 Charleston Scottish Games games are officially closed.  What a terrific weekend for competing members of the EUSPBA.  “From the field” results are as follows  Grade 5 – 1st Jamestown, 2nd Palmetto,  3rd Wake and District — Grade 4 – 1st Charleston Police, 2nd Knoxville, 3rd Atlanta – Grade 3 –  1st Atlanta, 2nd Wake and District, 3rd Grandfather.

Several members of the band competed in solos and did VERY well.  Congrats to Jessica JohnsonAmateur Tenor Drummer of the Day (LADY AGL), Other “winning” Wake and District members included Steve Turnbull and Martina Murphy. 

Thank you to the young folks from the Citadel for stewarding, the staff at Boone Hall for traffic control and  for allowing competitions, to Peter Armstrong for orchestrating all of the pipers and drummers, the judges for their comments and critiques — and all of the wonderful pipers and drummers (old and new faces) seen throughout the weekend.

We played well, had a good time and enjoyed the bandsman-ship.  John Churton Collins said, “In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.

Even in good times, there’s enough difficulty to go around for everyone. Every season, every competition — poses problems.  In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.   We are grateful to all our friends and mates no matter the kilt they wear.

What makes competition a positive force over a negative force? And what is the definition of healthy versus unhealthy competition?

“If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.”

Let’s start by talking about Healthy Competition.  Healthy Competition can help to motivate people to put in that extra effort and perform at a higher level than they might have done otherwise.  It can give extra drive and ambition that help someone to do more.  It can add fun and excitement to the task or project you are trying to win or succeed in.

Competition becomes unhealthy or negative when you cannot feel happy for other people who win or succeed.  Competition becomes unhealthy when you find yourself hoping that the other person will not perform well so that you will have a higher chance of winning, rather than wanting to win based on your own better effort.

“Stop competing with others. Start competing with yourself.”

The reality is that if it wasn’t for competition we might find ourselves settling for mediocrity.  So competition is important in helping push us to succeed. But it is how we decide to compete that makes it a healthy or an unhealthy experience.  If we can use competition to motivate and push us to give something our entire effort then it’s positive and healthy in our lives.  We should always hope that we can win because we gave it 100% and we should focus entirely on our own performance instead of banking on someone else doing poorly in order for us to succeed.    If we can do that then we can keep competition in our lives a healthy and positive motivator that will help us become the very best we can be.

“A flower does not think of competing to the next flower, it just blooms.”

Have an awesome day!

Amy Rees Anderson