Sausalito Caroling Jangle

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Want to fill your heart with holiday joy? 

If you live in or around Sausalito, California, join us for our 4th Annual Caroling Jangle! Sunday, December 17, 3:00-5:00 pm

Here's the official Evite. Everyone is invited and no talent needed!

Simply print your Song Book and bring it with you (it's a great collection of all the holiday classics).

Now, want to know how this all got started? Here's my YStory....

One of my favorite holiday memories growing up in Montreal is being at home while my mother was cooking a big stew in the kitchen when all of sudden I'd hear the faint sound of jingle bells and singing in the distance. 

I'd run to the window and peek through the curtains and falling snow to see carolers coming to our door! I felt so lucky. We'd open the door as the cold winter wind flew in with the music. For a few happy moments, we'd all smile and be filled with joy. Then they were gone.

I'd always wonder, "Who were these happy people?" With childish optimism, I assumed every child in every town around the world had these people coming to their doorstep. Never once did it phase me that this didn't happen. 

When I became a mom, living in the picturesque town of Sausalito, California I was most excited for Christmas to hold my newborn son, Finnegan, when the carolers came. But no one showed up. Maybe I missed them? But next year, no one came. Or the next.

"Where were these happy people?" I wondered. I figured maybe caroling just didn't happen anymore.

Fast forward seven years. Our family was attending a holiday event at the historic Sausalito Women's Club when a bunch of women started circling around the piano singing holiday carols. Immediately, I became that little girl peeking through the curtains at the carolers. Finally I had found those happy people.

Soon Finnegan (now seven) with his holiday cookies in hand made his way to the piano to watch the women sing. One lady gave him a song book so he joined in. I almost started crying watching my son, shoulder to shoulder singing with 15 beautiful elderly women. It was like he was being embraced by a group of loving grandmothers. The extended family I so missed in my life.

The women were loving it, Finnegan was loving it. He quickly helped take the lead and was reminding the ladies when to turn the pages and announce the next song for the pianist.

In that moment, I knew we had to start caroling in town. Kids need to see happy adults singing.

So a week later, I dragged my husband and two children to downtown Sausalito with our holiday song books in hand to sing. Filled with confidence, I was ready.

I quickly realized though how much courage one needs to start singing even Jingle Bells in public! Thank goodness for my Australian husband (Aussies are always willing to jump off the cliff aren't they) who started the first song with me Away In a Manger. 

Quickly people stopped and asked for a songbook to join in. My brother and his family were in town and his wife Alison (who grew up singing carols with her mother) was helping us stay in tune. Within an hour, everyone was laughing and couldn't stop singing.

That was four years ago. Every holiday, more and more people show up to sing. Even tourists from all over the world walk stop to listen.

We even had a proposal. One year, while belting out Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, a young couple from New Zealand got so inspired, the boyfriend knelt down and surprised his girlfriend with a marriage proposal (she accepted with tears rolling down her cheeks) as he swung her around. We quickly serenaded them with Silent Night to go with the magic.

So print this Song Book and come carol. You'll leave with a full heart and connected to the true meaning of the holidays.

Fa la la la la,

Yasmine

What Makes Me Dance?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

I recently asked myself a question that I heard while watching a French movie,

What makes you dance in the street?

It struck a "chord" with me.

Very quickly, a familiar picture, one that I had forgotten about for decades, surfaced in my mind.

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It's one that used to come to me in day dreams. In it I am sitting with my friends around a campfire. Everyone's sipping drinks and telling stories. Kids are roasting s'mores, laughing.

Then, and this is the crazy part, I reach behind me in the picture and grab my guitar - yes, the same girl who has never held an instrument in her life - and strum. I not only suddenly know how to play, I actually perfectly play Stairway to Heaven. Everyone smiles. Pure magic.

Then, in the middle of my daydream, right on queue, just while I'm smiling and feeling good, FEAR raises its anxious head to remind me, "You're crazy Yasmine! It's too late to learn an instrument. You're a responsible Mom for heaven's sake. Leave it to the kids to play music."

But this time, I was done with fear.

I had asked the question with bold curiosity, and that alone gave me the courage to do what my own children often do. Ignore fear and its bloody rumblings.

So three weeks ago, I had my first guitar lesson. There we were - our inspiring music teacher Emilie Rohrbach, my two kids and I in a circle at home learning the C and G chords.

I cannot describe the wave of joy and curiosity that's come over me since then. I feel like I opened the door to a whole new planet where artists and musicians live, and I never knew it existed! Every song I hear now is like looking through a kaleidoscope for the first time. 

Yes, my fingertips and brain are hurting, and I have to fit in weekly practice (right now we're learning She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5, how fun is that!) But all I know is I'm dancing in the street and LOVING every second!

I feel like a better wife. A better parent. A more alive person!

So....what makes YOU dance in the street?

Go on, ask it. Remember, if I'll be playing Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin one day around a campfire, you can do anything.

How To Reward The Special

Photo by Paul Rysz

Photo by Paul Rysz

I love to give my time, money and compassion to things that are making our world more beautiful and pleasurable. I talk about it in this YMoment: Reward the Special.

To reward the special, you have to start with knowing your personal values. Then aligning your actions with those values.  Here are just three easy examples:

If you want bustling main streets across America overflowing with outdoor cafés full of neighbors laughing and breaking bread together – then perhaps next time your family heads out for dinner rather than drive to a chain restaurant if that’s the plan, walk together to a local family run restaurant in town. Over time, you’ll know the owners by first name, be asked to taste new dishes before they end up on the menu, and, from my own experience, your kids will be invited into the kitchen by the Chef whenever you pop by...priceless!

If you want to see a world with happy farmers and healthier people – maybe think before getting in the car and driving off to a big box store to fill your car with groceries shipped in from around the world. Instead reward your neighborhood grocers or farmers market for its curated, locally grown selection.

If you get a tingly feeling every time you step foot into a bookstore (we must be soul sisters if so) - think twice next time you order books online. Instead grab your bike or running shoes and head out to your local book store. Take time to meet the owner, ask for recommendations, and find out when the next author events are (so inspiring and usually free).  Then enjoy your new book at a local café in town.

I know sometimes these experiences could be slightly more expensive or sloooower paced compared to the fast energy of our culture.  So choosing fast and cheap sometimes over special and pleasurable is perfectly fine.

Just not all the time.

For if we really want a world filled with beauty, inspiration, artists, craftsmen, entrepreneurs...buzzing main streets…people making mundane tasks more beautiful and pleasurable for us.....oh and what about rewarding that little shoe repair man, you know the one, the man who's been in his little shop off the main street for decades and all you can see is stacks of shoes and boots through the window but he always manages to make his way through the piles to greet you with a smile because his purpose and passion in life is the art of mending shoes for people in town, then we must reward the special when we see it.  If not, think of the alternative for our children.

Write down what YOU truly value. Then give your time, money and compassion to things that align with those values. You will feel empowered and happy – authentically happy – every time you reward what is special to you.

PS. For those that read YMoment: Reward the Special and are now emailing me asking the location of this gas station, it's Bridgeway Gas in Sausalito, California. It's a simple place but the loving intention and beautiful music is wonderful (if for some reason you don't hear any music while pumping gas, the owner had told me to kindly remind his employee to turn on the classical music....so you should do the same!) Bridgeway Gas is also next door to my all time favorite café Cibo (another great place to reward some special). Enjoy!