Archive for the ‘Band Top Story’ Category

build around those who are committed…

Most bands like to measure themselves by their strongest, most talented people.  However, the strength of the band is always impacted by the weakest link, especially weak attitude links.  If you keep weak attitude links in your circle and do not address their poor behavior or hold them accountable for their actions, they can tear your band apart. You also do a disservice to all the band members who do things the right way if you keep weak attitude links, but you don’t work to change their attitudes.

It’s not a matter of ‘don’t be that person’,
but instead,
‘we do not have that person’.

Weak attitude links are not necessarily bad people; they are just uncommitted to the band and the musical standards.  You must take the time to work with them to bring them on board to what your band stands for. However, if you work with them for a while and they still choose not to get on board, you need to move on without them. The rest of the band deserves to have the best experience possible, and a weak attitude link diminishes the opportunity for that. Build around those who are committed to your band and your  standards.

Otherwise, you will lose the respect of those with the best attitudes if you do not deal properly with those with the worst attitudes.

#PipeBandLife #Kilted

Esse quam videri…

On Monday, 09 January 2017 the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums held our annual general meeting to review and plan for 2017 and beyond.  While Hoth like conditions enveloped the Raleigh-Durham region, about a dozen+ members were physically in attendance and another 35+ enjoyed the live stream on our members Facebook page.  A summary of the band’s presentation can be seen below.

Our band manager began the meeting with this quote —

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.

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?  This was addressed in an earlier post.

The evening commenced discussing Esse quam videri; to be, rather than to seem.  We were struck by this phrase as Wake and District has grown from our NC roots into a renowned and respected organization.   

  • To be: who you really are
  • To seem: who you want people to think you are

The words express the value of authenticity and are a good litmus test for us as we go forward.  For this conversion to be real and substantive, it must transform who we are and everything we do.

For this conversion to be real and substantive, it must transform who we are and everything we do.

The meeting continued on reminding everyone of our stated mission:

To provide a distinguishing tribute for our fallen heroes.

To be of service to the family, friends and co-workers of public safety employees of Raleigh, Wake County and all those who serve and protect throughout North Carolina.

Strengthen relations between the protective services and the public and to preserve cultural heritage and enrich our community by providing traditional bagpipe and drum music.

For Our Fallen is everything we stand for.

We will follow our mission while being mindful of the steps we are taking as a band.

We moved forward into the business of the band.  Elections were held and we are pleased to announce Joe Brady will continue to serve as band manager, Lindsey Kosydar as assistant band manager, John Schodtler as treasurer, Lloyd Johnson as secretary and Seth Wells as member at large.  It is reassuring to see 2 of our 6 founding band members on the board for the band.

The board went on to re-appoint existing NCOs and add new ones.  The band NCOs for 2017 are as follows:

  • Dalton Marshall, pipe major
  • Michael Iannuzzi, drum sergeant
  • Jason Lane, drum major
  • John McKeveny, drum major
  • Joe Brady, pipe sergeant
  • John Schodtler, pipe sergeant
  • Seth Wells, pipe sergeant
  • Andrew Kosydar, drum corporal
  • Ken McKeveny, G3 pipe major
  • Billy Gehringer, G3 lead tip

The board appointed  section leaders for the 2017 competition season.  They include:

  • Ken McKeveny, G3 pipe major and Billy Gehringer, lead tip
  • Dalton Marshall and Michael Iannuzzi as  G5 registered instructors

A 2016 year in review was discussed (a detailed description by our band secretary, Lloyd Johnson, can be found here).  We highlighted our renewed focus on perspective — reigniting the fires of ambition and commitment — and reminded ourselves to stay centered; not forget who we are and the mission we strive to fulfill.

We went on to recognize the following competition related accomplishments — 2016 was a full of constant change and evolution.  We ended our competition season with the following results:

  • G3 ranked 6th overall EUSPBA (21 bands)
  • G4 ranked 16th overall EUSPBA (41 band)
  • G5 25th place overall EUSPBA (93 bands)

As discussed at the 2016 AGM – it was a year of constant change and evolution.  We are proud of all of our members and their commitment to the work. 

A discussion was had how members, music and uniforms come and go; it was sad to see several plays step away from Wake and District in 2016.  We are happy to announce so many new players joining the band – including new “traveling players”.

We are also excited to be starting a new academy of new piping and drumming students.

The band made tremendous investments throughout 2016 — purchasing new Premier snare drums and Hosbilt mid-section drums.  We also invested in new competition vests purchased with the help of USA KILTS.  The new kit will debut at the Loch Norman Highland Games in April.

Expectations were discussed in terms of rehearsals – in addition to competitions and performances.   The band is progressing and learning new music.  Missing a rehearsal during this growth period sets members and the group back.

Our Pipe Major reminded us — “…in life we are a family, but when we circle up, we flip the switch to become a team.  Both are crucial for the band’s success, but let us all attempt to create a clear line between the two.”

We discussed which games we will be attending in 2017 as a band.  They include:

  • Loch Norman (Rural Hill, NC) 08 April
  • Virginia Tattoo (Norfolk, VA) 29 April
  • Murphy Indoor (Raleigh, NC) 22 July
  • Chicago Games (Chicago, IL) 17 June
  • Celtic Classic (Bethlehem, PA) 23 Sep
  • Stone Mountain (Georgia) 14 Oct
  • Central VA (Richmond) 21 Oct

We also marked out  dates for events which include the following:

  • Burns Supper
  • North Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parades
  • Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day events
  • Running of the St. Paddy’s Saturday, 25 March
  • Tartan Day North Carolina Thursday, 06 April
  • NCFFF Memorial March and Service
  • Raleigh Indoor Pipe Band Contest and after party 22 July
  • and perhaps a concert or revival of our Tartan Ball in November…

The band is progressing and learning new music – most of which will be classic marches.  Our set list will include:

  • Amazing Grace
  • Cullen Bay
  • Crags of Tumbledown Mountain + At Long Last
  • Scotland the Brave + Rowan Tree
  • Green Hills + Battle’s O’er + Balmoral
  • O’Sullivan’s March + Jean Mauchline
  • Band QMM: (Shoals of Herring + Farewell to Nigg + Pipe Major JK Cairns)
  • New Band MEDLEY
  • G3 Medley
  • G3 MSR

As always, some new tunes, some old tunes, some modified tunes and some tunes archived; something for everyone. While mistakes may originate from a single person, it is the band that makes it.  It’s not a matter of ‘don’t be that person‘, but instead, that ‘we do not have that person‘.   No matter where or when, we should display the best the band has to offer.

Our Uniform Standards Guide was updated by our senior Drum Major, Jason Lane.  It provides detailed instruction on our various uniforms and how they should be worn.  A discussion was had on the importance of appearance and having all the proper uniform items on hand.

Our senior piping instructor, Ken McKeveny thanked everyone for their hard work throughout 2016 and asked for everyone’s commitment to practicing at home and coming to rehearsals ready to play.  Competing both as a band and as solos was discussed – and we look forward to many of our members stepping onto the solo boards.  Ken asked members to stop making excuses and come to play.   Progress was made throughout year with tonality much improved.  We struggled maintaining numbers in circle for all grades.

He went on to add members should step down when not at their best; it’s about the band – not you.  He closed his comments asking us to  participate fully and have fun.

Ken’s goal for 2017 — for the G5 and G3 bands to march off as winners at the same contests.

The evening was closed with a quote from Matthew Kelly’s The Rhythm of Life.

“The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards.

They either help us to become the best version of ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves.

We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own.  The people around them help to make them great.

We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the best version of ourselves.”


expand your horizons…

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
If You Want To Improve, Stop Defending And Start Listening 
(you can follow her daily blogs at )


Thanks Michael.

renewed focus on perspective…

Inspiration.   It can come from the simplest of imaginings, or it can be almost unattainable at times. In a word, this defines our band during the past year. We have sought it out in every possible way. From the written words of well known speakers, to the encouraging words of others. We were honored by visits and in-house workshops by influential players and friends from across the globe. We looked for inspiration in everything we did this past year, as it was a year of constant change.

We have spent the last year focused intently on what and who we are. It has been a time of reformation, as the band has breathed and groaned through the growing pains and the changes necessary for continued development. It has been a time of reaffirmation of our mission and our ideals, to instill in our newer members an understanding of just what it is we strive to do. This must be understood above all else…For Our Fallen is everything we stand for.

As we have done since our humble beginnings, we continued to honor our local communities and our public safety community whenever called upon. We reached out to share our heritage through local events, from kilt runs to Christmas tree lightings and everything in between. We supported higher learning, through participating in graduation ceremonies for Wake Technical Community College and Campbell University. Once again, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with our friends in North Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The band was honored to be selected as a participant in the 2016 Virginia International Tattoo, a week long display of military music and the largest of its kind in the United States. Wake and District performed alongside 1500 performers from Ireland, Jordan and all corners of the globe. With several days in hotel rooms and many exhaustive hours of practice, this was a massive commitment that stretched our participating members to their limits. It was an effort that all involved will agree was absolutely worth it, as they made new and lasting friendships with like-minded musicians from around the world, made possible by the international language of music.

Our commitment to our public safety family was honored in 2016, as we added, in our own small way, to graduations, promotion ceremonies and academies for agencies including the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Wake County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Raleigh Police and Fire Departments.

As in years past, we continued to honor our fallen in memorial services around the country, including the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial at Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Our commitment to music extends into the realm of competition, as we believe it makes us stronger performers and allows us to further sharpen our playing abilities for the times when we must honor our mission to our public safety brothers and sisters. Competitions across the southeastern U.S. provided the band with motivation and inspiration to strive for more. In 2016, the band also gave back to the piping community, by sponsoring a competition right here in Raleigh. The Inaugural Mike Murphy Memorial Indoor Pipe Band Competition was an officially sanctioned event, held on the grounds of Ravenscroft School, attracting bands from across the southeast with the lure of an air conditioned indoor pipe band contest in the blistering heat of July. It was a great time and well represented, with many favorable comments from participants and attendees. We look forward to sponsoring the next offering of this event in 2017.

During 2016, we found ourselves homeless, in a way, as the Irish pub known as Tir na nOg closed its doors. Having been our “home” from the beginning, we became a wayward pipe band, being welcomed into pubs and taverns across the area throughout the year. Our band mother, Annie Nice, however, refused to give up on the idea of a home for the Triangle’s Irish community. Through her hard work and dedication, Tir na nOg was reborn on East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh, and a welcome sight it was. Best of all, Wake & District was included from the start, with our influence scattered throughout the pub. We are sincerely thankful to Annie and our pub family for creating a new home that includes us.

One of the hallmarks of successful organizations is their ability to remain dynamic. Their leaders recognize that change becomes necessary to avoid stagnation and to stimulate creativity. The band has been no different, as some changes in leadership have taken place this past year. The membership has looked on somewhat tentatively as our “founding fathers” have taken a step back; a well deserved rest after years of shaping and building this group. At the same time, we are hopeful, as new leaders emerge and bring their influences to the group. The transition thus far has been smooth and impressive. We look forward to what lies ahead in 2017 and beyond.

As you hopefully have gathered by now, 2016 was a very meaningful year for our band. It was a period of intense focus; of reigniting the fires of ambition and commitment. It brought a renewed focus on perspective; what is truly important to the life of this group. We were reminded to stay centered; to not forget who we are. And so we press on. We continue striving for more. Becoming satisfied can be a slippery slope. Rather than settle for being satisfied, we instead prefer sliding down that slope head first. What waits for us at the end will come up fast, but we will be ready for it. We will change if we must, but no matter what, we will have a fantastic time getting there; and we hope you will come along for the ride.

2016 year in review by founding member Lloyd Johnson.

learn to play the bagpipes or drums…

Raleigh’s Pipe Band – the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums currently has 60+ members who come from all walks of life and bring an indeterminate amount of experience with them. Our members are police officers, lawyers, engineers, students, machinists, Doctors to name but a few and all are tremendous individuals who share the common goal of being a successful and competitive pipe band.

January 8th and 15th  from 3p-4p
at the NCSHP Training Center
3318 Garner Road, Raleigh (see map below)

Our mission is to provide a distinguishing tribute for our fallen comrades and to be in service to the families of public safety employees of the Raleigh region and across North Carolina. We desire to strengthen relations between the protective services and the public while preserving cultural heritage and enriching our community by providing the highest tradition of Bagpipe and Drum music.

We are seeking new members
to grab hold of this tradition…

Want to learn to play the bagpipes or drums?

We can help you. One of the primary goals of the our band is to teach anyone who has a sincere desire to learn to play. We will provide you with lessons, with the only obligation being your commitment to learning.  Please see our Frequently Asked Questions below for more information.

One of the biggest questions we receive is with regards to age — what is a good age to start learning the pipes/drums?  While the bagpipes and drums appear to be very physical instruments, pipe band life starts with practice chanters (similar to a recorder) and drum sticks and pads; we start with teaching music.  Our youngest students have started at 8 years old.  Our youngest piper started at 11 (same with our youngest drummer).  It really depends on the child and most importantly…parents.


I’ve heard the bagpipe is a difficult instrument to learn; is this true?

Yes and no. There are more skills to learn with a bagpipe than with most other instruments. You will not only need to learn to play the notes of the melody, but there are also embellishments to learn which give the bagpipe its distinct sound.

Also there are some coordination issues involved such as playing the notes while blowing into the bag and squeezing the bag. You could compare this to learning to ride a bicycle. You have to balance and pedal and steer all at the same time, but once you put all of these pieces together it all falls into place.

In addition it takes a fair amount of lung capacity and endurance to play the pipes. This will develop as you learn to play the instrument.

Will I have to pay for the lessons?

For group lessons, no.  You need only provide a sincere desire to learn and a commitment to practice.  One on one instruction is available starting at $25 per lesson.

Will I need to purchase any supplies to take lessons?

Yes. You will need to purchase a practice chanter (about $100).

How long will it take to learn to play?

This will vary greatly depending on your natural ability, previous musical experience and the amount of practice time that you devote. With average ability and a reasonably dedicated practice ethic you could reach minimum “street level” (parade) playing ability in about one year.

How far you progress beyond “street level” will likely depend on how determined you are and how much practice time you dedicate.

Once I learn to play will there be a place for me in your band?



What kind of drums are played in a bagpipe band?

There are basically three types of drums used in a bagpipe band.

I. Snare drum: This is the most prominent sounding drum in the drum line. The snare drum that is used in a bagpipe band is different from the snare drums that are used in other bands. The pipe band snare drum has snare mechanisms on both the top and bottom drumheads. The drumheads are also tensioned much higher than on a normal snare drum. This results in a very high pitched and crisp snare sound which compliments the notes played on the bagpipe “chanter”.

II. Tenor drum: This is the drum that fills in the middle tones in a pipe band. The tenor drum is usually pitched the same as the bass drone on the bagpipes. Some bands may have multiple tenor drums and pitch them to various notes on the chanter scale. Pipe bands can have two types of tenor drum players:

  1. A “flourishing” tenor drummer does fancy “swings” with his/her mallets which visually compliment and add excitement to the band’s performance. A flourishing tenor drummer also plays rhythmic beatings which fill in the overall ensemble sound.
  2. A “rhythm” tenor drummer focuses on rhythmic beating which compliment the music. A rhythm tenor drummer usually plays within a pattern framework (ex. Hard, soft, medium, soft) that helps set the “groove” for the band.

III. Bass drum: This drum is the heartbeat of the band. The bass drum is usually pitched to the bass drone of the bagpipes, but an octave lower than the tenor drum. The bass drum sets the pace of the music as well as adding the harmonic “bottom” tone of the band. The bass drummer must have a strong sense of rhythm. A good bass drummer will set a strong “groove” for the band that makes it easy for the pipers and drummers to play together.

The importance of drums in a pipe band: The drum sections keeps the beat for the bagpipe band, but that isn’t it’s only job. The bagpipe is an instrument that can only be played at one volume level. There are no mechanisms for increasing or decreasing the volume. Everything sounds the same – LOUD! The drum section provides the illusion of the band playing more quietly or more loudly. This musical effect is referred to as “Dynamics”. A good drum section will work together, playing softer or louder parts together. The tenor and bass drummers may accent (strike more loudly) a beat that will compliment the accents that the snare drummers play. The snare drummers will often play parts or “chips” throughout the music to further enhance the dynamics within the ensemble.

Will I have to pay for the lessons?

For group lessons, no.  You need only provide a sincere desire to learn and a commitment to practice.  One on one instruction is available starting at $25 per lesson.

Will I need to purchase any supplies to take lessons?

Yes. You will need to purchase a drum pad (about $30) and a pair of drumsticks (about $20). In addition you may want to use a small cassette recorder to tape your lessons.

What will the lessons be like?

We like to start each new student as if they are starting from scratch (if you have previous experience this will likely be a quick review). We start with the very basics: Learning to properly grip the sticks and strike the drum. New students are given exercises to work on at home to develop proper technique. At each week’s lesson the student will be given instruction in reading drum music as well as developing the drum rudiments, such as rolls and paradiddles. The lessons are progressive; as each lesson is mastered new material is added.

How long will it take to learn to play?

This will vary depending on your natural ability, previous musical experience and the amount of practice time that you dedicate. With average ability and a reasonably dedicated practice ethic you could reach minimum “street level” (parade) playing ability in about one year. It has been done quicker.

How far you progress beyond “street level” will likely depend on how determined you are and how much practice time devote to the instrument.

Once I learn to play will there be a place for me in your band?


How do I get started?

Send an email to for more information.


North Carolina State Highway Patrol Training Academy – 3318 Garner Road, Raleigh, NC

All rehearsals are open to the public.  Rehearsals are held at the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Training Academy – 3318 Garner Road, Raleigh, NC — Building #4.

one last gig…

Today, we played our last band event for 2016 — the Campbell Winter Commencement.  As we thought about our “last” band event for the year, we remembered coming across a story which really touched us.  This story is an amazing reminder for all of us to express our love to our families and friends.  Life is full of uncertainty and we should never let a day pass without having those in our lives know how much we love them.

The story goes that in July of 2007 there was an airplane accident in Brazil in which 199 people were killed.  A note was said to have been posted on a communications board afterward by the husband of a flight attendant who died in the accident. The posting was titled “Tomorrow Never Comes” and it was based on a poem written by Norma Cornett Marek.

If I knew this would be the last time I would watch you sleep,
I would hug you tighter. I would plead with the Lord to protect you.
If I knew this would be the last time I saw you walk out the door,
I would hug and kiss you and call you back to hug and kiss you one more time.
If I knew this would be the last time I would hear your voice in prayer,
I would record every gesture, every look, every smile, every one of your words,
So that I could listen to it later, day after day.

If I knew this would be the last time,
I would spend an extra minute or two to tell you, “I love you,” instead of assuming you already knew it.

If I knew this would be our last time, our last moment,
I would be by your side, spending the day with you instead of thinking,
“Well, I’m sure other opportunities will come, so I can let this day go by.”

Of course there will be a day to revise things,
And we would have a second chance to do things right.
Oh, of course there will be another day for us to say, “I love you.”
And certainly there will be another chance to tell each other, “Can I help with anything?”
But in my case, there isn’t one!

I don’t have you here with me, and today is the last day we have—our farewell.
Therefore I would like to say how much I love you,
And I hope you never forget it.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old.
Today might be your last chance to hold tight to the hand of the one you love
and show all you feel.

If you are waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
Because if tomorrow never comes, you certainly will regret for the rest of your life
Not having spent some extra time for a smile, a conversation, a hug, a kiss,
Because you were too busy to give that person what ended up being their last wish.
Then hug tight today the one you love, your friends, your family,
and whisper in their ears how much you love them and want them close to you.

Use your time to say,
“I’m sorry,”
“Forgive me,”
“Thank you,”

Or even,
“That was nothing,”
“It’s all right,”

Because if tomorrow never comes, you will not have to regret today.
The past doesn’t come back, and the future might not come!

We want all of those in our pipe band life to know how much we  love and appreciate them.  Even many of you who we have never met before personally have found ways to touch our members through your kind comments (likes and loves), emails, and letters.  Thank you to all of you for being a part of our pipe band life.


The things we remember…

If you were asked what you did on any given day three weeks ago would you be able to remember without going back and checking your calendar first? Or what about a day two weeks ago? More than likely the answer is no.

But what if you were asked where you went on your last vacation – could you remember that? Or what you did last Christmas or on the Fourth of July? Chances are you remember exactly where you went and what you did.

That’s because we tend to remember the experiences that are out of the ordinary. When we do things that are novel such as going on a vacation, or eating at a new restaurant, or trying something new we remember these things vividly.

We also remember the repeated experiences which is why it is so easy to recall what we did during the holidays each year and what traditions we celebrate.
We also remember “firsts”. Our first kiss, our first love, our first heartbreak, the first time we rode our bike, the first time we drove a car,
We remember people that we feel close to in life and we remember people who impacted our lives in a majorly positive way as well as people who impacted us in a majorly negative way. We remember our relationships that were meaningful to our lives.

We don’t remember days,
we remember moments.

This week at the Virginia International Tattoo was a mere 8 days together. Each of us sacrificed a tremendous amount to be a part of it. We ‘leaned in’ together, accomplishing so much – and shared in a lifetime of moments.

If we can stop ourselves from just saying “no I’m too busy” all the time we can open the door to doing things that will forever be amazing memories. Be more willing to do “first experiences”. Be more willing to start and keep up repeated traditions. Be more willing to make time to get close to people who can impact your life for the better. These are the things you are going to remember in your life. These are the memories you get to take with you. Focus on making more memories in life! They are AWESOME!

Hashtag that.

how to make the right decisions…

Every now and then I will go back and read past blogs I have written on subjects that I am dealing with in my life that day. Tonight I read one of my blogs from back in 2012 that was exactly what I would have written to share tonight:

Life is so full of decisions that have to be made on a daily basis.  Some are small and insignificant.  Yet, some have huge impact on our lives and our futures as well as the people around us.  So how do you make the right decisions?

There are times the decisions can be made by simply looking at the black and white of what is right and what is wrong and then choosing the right thing.

There are other times when the facts point to what is right and what is wrong, but we get all tangled up in our own emotions and we allow those emotions to make us question or rationalize the decision in order to avoid dealing with the emotions we might be feeling (for example, you know the person you are dating is bad for you but at least they keep you from feeling lonely…or you know you should help that stranger in need but you are feeling embarrassed to approach them…or you know you should fire a person from work because they are doing a poor job but you feel sorry for them because they are struggling in their life…you get the picture?  In those situations it is critical to take the emotion out of your decision and base the decision on only the facts of what is right and what is wrong and then go with the thing that is right, ignoring that it might be emotionally tough to do.  When you can do that you will always feel better in the end even if you struggled to get through it.

The next type of decision is the one where you think you might be right but you doubt yourself because perhaps you worry you don’t have all the facts?  Or it could be that you doubt your own ability to make the right choice and insecurities keep from you from being able to decide.  Or it could be that you are afraid to make the choice because you simply don’t want to end up being wrong.  It’s never fun to be wrong, so often time’s people avoid making the decision at all – which I will say I think is one of the most dangerous ways to handle things.  Inevitably by not making a decision you make a decision.  Things happen and opportunities are missed.  Thus, making no decision made the decision for you.  So how can you avoid falling into this trap?

Lastly, there are the times that there isn’t a clear right and wrong decision.  Not because you have emotions involved, not because you are afraid to decide, but because there may simply be two decisions that are both good options and could both be right – how do you decide then?  An example of this would be choosing between two careers that could both be good options…or choosing to spend time with a child versus choosing time to spend with a spouse…both great things to do, so how do you decide?

I don’t have all the answers on this but I will share with you what has helped me to get through tough decisions in my life.  If there is a clear right and wrong decision I force myself to always choose the right thing.  I don’t allow myself to even consider the wrong thing as an option and that makes my choice easier.  Next, if I know I am struggling emotionally with a decision I try to sit back and look at the hard core facts, without my emotions involved, and if doing that allows me to see a clear right and wrong then I again choose the right.  If I come across a decision where I feel insecure or uncertain or for whatever reason or if I come across a decision where it feels like more than one answer could be right – well that is when I get on my knees and pray about it for starters.

The other thing I try to do is to find a quiet place to step away and just sit and let my mind go clear and I listen.  I know that probably sounds weird, but the fact is that when I try to sit and just listen it allows my mind to be open to things and it allows me to really be at peace as I consider my options.  And then I trust what answers come to me. Sometimes the answers come through a feeling; sometimes they come from a thought in my head that pops in there suddenly; other times it comes from a gut instinct that I should go with one option over the other.  And then there is the most important part – once I get an instinct or a feeling about something I have to learn to TRUST IT!

Learning to make good choices and learning to trust your instincts are critical in life. They are especially critical when you hold positions of leadership because so many people are counting on you to do the right thing.  Never let yourself hold back on making a decision out of fear, and never allow yourself to make the wrong decision based on fear.  Both of those will always turn out bad in the end. You have to be willing to step up and make decisions and as long as in your heart you are always trying to do the right thing, then have confidence in that and move forward.

~Amy Rees Anderson

unite in gratitude for our freedom…

November 11th — Veterans Day —  we honor those who sacrificed of themselves so that a Nation could protect the sacred gift of freedom for its citizens. We stand in awe of the amazing Veterans who so selflessly served, as well as those who continue to serve, for such an important cause. These veterans willingly chose to leave their homes and put their lives at risk, knowing they may never return to their families again, and that was just the start of the sacrifices they made:

The biggest sacrifice veterans have made for their country do not just happen on the battlefield. They happen quietly, without fanfare, without recognition. They happen in small homes and living rooms, with only those left behind as witnesses. Everything a veteran must do is a sacrifice, from leaving behind their lives, to stepping onto the battlefield. The sacrifice of time is just as important as the bravery shown in war, and oftentimes much more difficult. These sacrifices are what make veterans special.” -Unknown

We often question if we, as citizens of this great nation, do our part to be deserving of the sacrifice of our Veterans. We can’t imagine that these brave soldiers risked their lives for the freedom of Americans so that Americans could behave by turning on one another and viciously tearing each other down. These Veterans risked their lives so that the citizens of our Country could live together in peace.

Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan

If we want to honor our Veteran’s we should do so by treating each other with respect and kindness. We should honor them by handling our conflicts by peaceful means. We should honor them by proving that we are indeed ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, that is GRATEFUL to be living in this great country, and that is willing to kneel in prayer to ask God to guide our leaders and to soften the hearts of our citizens so that we may each live worthy of the sacrifices that have been made on our behalves.

America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under…We can’t have it both ways. We can’t expect God to protect us in a crisis and just leave Him over there on the shelf in our day-to-day living. We wonder if sometimes He isn’t waiting for us to wake up, He isn’t maybe running out of patience.” – Ronald Reagan

We thank God for this Nation and we thank our Veterans for their incredible sacrifice. And we pray that the citizens of this country will unite in gratitude for our freedom and move forward with the intention of working together to make both God and our Veterans proud.

thanks Amy Rees-Anderson

a sort of homecoming…

When is the last time you were in a parade?  Like actually in the parade itself?  Marching down the street smiling and waving at the crowds along the route as you enjoy the music of the marching band…  For us it was yesterday as we marched from the site of the shuttered Tir Na nOg building on Blount Street to it’s new home at 108 East Hargett Street — next door to the London Bridge.  As we slowly marched around the block and into the garden of the London Bridge and the new Tir Na nOg  — we thought “Life needs to be more like a big parade!”

You see when you are in a parade like that it is impossible not to be totally present in the moment.  Not just physically present, but mentally as well.  You are focused on your surroundings, enjoying the view and smiling and taking in the faces of those around you.  You are fully present in the moment to totally appreciate it in every aspect.

So often in life we are physically present for things but our minds are racing a million other places and worrying about a million other things – we end up mentally somewhere completely different then our physical body is at any given moment.  It’s like we are constantly disconnected from ourselves.  When we allow that to happen we literally miss the actual moments we are living in because we were mentally somewhere else.

We need to walk through each day as if it is our parade route, smiling and waving to those faces we pass by.  We need to be present, both physically present and mentally present.  We need to focus on each moment and appreciate each step along our own parade route.  We need to hear the music of the pipe band in the air and have that spring in our step as we walk along the route.  We need to enjoy each segment of our life parade.  Laugh.  Smile.  Wave to everyone (wrist, wrist, elbow, elbow – you gotta do the proper parade wave!).  Skip along. Dance at times. March to the beat of the drums.  Throw candy to the crowd.  Make them happy.  Be happy yourself.  Don’t worry about what’s ahead in your parade route – know that it’s just more excited people waiting for you to pass by them so there is no need to be concerned, just focus on what’s around you in that moment!  This is your BIG PARADE!  ENJOY IT!

As we reflect back on the shuttered building on Blound Street – we recognize it’s not the building or the home that will matter – it is the memories we create within the walls of that home which will turn it into a home.  It is the love and the laughter and time that will create those feelings of making this new house a home for us.  And so we will continue working hard to decorate the new house and to hang photos so we can recall those memories from our old home as we walk through the walls of homecoming Queen’s new castle.

Welcome home Annie.

Thanks Amy Rees-Anderson

From Triangle Downtowner Magazine — Tir Na Nog has reopened in its new location on East Hargett Street, just around the corner from its former home of 18 years. Although the interior is smaller than the original, the new place seems somehow more inviting and intimate, and now offers a large outside seating area.


London Bridge and Tir Na nOg partners Michael Ruiz and Darren Bridger Annie Britton-Nice in front of their pubs on Hargett St. in Downtown Raleigh.

When asked about plans for the pub, co-owner Annie Britton-Nice of Camlough, Ireland answered, “For now, we’re serving drinks and good times with live music on special nights.”

According to Annie, a full menu service will be available sometime in December. Until then they’ll be offering catered food service for events and large parties prepared by their chef.

The new nOg is within walking distance of many other downtown hot spots, has a stage for bands, and there’s even a back deck shared with its sister pub, The London Bridge.

Annie is happy with the number of excited new and returning regular patrons during their first week of operation. She expects numbers to grow even more as previous session bands return to play, and when the kitchen is ready for service.

Hours are 5pm to 2am daily, closed Monday and Tuesday with the option to open for private parties.

Tir na nOg Irish Pub
108 Hargett Street