Seasons of a Self-directed Learning Journey

Ukulele and music for Turn turn turn.


To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time to every purpose, under heaven….


This photo from 4 years ago turned up in my Facebook timeline this morning.


Learning to play ukulele, playing and singing with other people, has been a challenging and rewarding self-directed learning project for me. And there have been seasons – when I first started I was excitedly practicing every day and meeting with my mostly homeschool mom friends weekly with our matching blue dolphin ukes. We went to Uke Festivals and workshops. I was so excited I wrote a song and created a photo series I call Dr. Uke says…to show what songs I was working on and how I was feeling. The group was evolving, I started working on the books, and mom’s illness progressed. The season and my learning journey shifted.   

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Start Your Day with Some Gratitude!

Start Your Day with Some Gratitude verse from song by Lisa Nalbone, Start your day with a song LisaNalbone.comI love to keep a gratitude journal.

Each day I try to write at least ten things I am thankful for. It started as a way to check-in when a friend and I got together for coffee when I was a twenty-something, living in Seattle, and trying to figure out life.

I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to be when I grew up and she was trying to get into med school. I was dealing with my family’s issues with alcohol, divorce and finances and her mom was in the end stages of breast cancer.  We were both overwhelmed with all the troubles in the world we were becoming aware of: poverty, lack of social justice and inequality.

First we would list ten things that were troubling us, using a combination of writing and sketches. Then we shifted to ten things we were grateful for. The shift in energy was significant.  I realized if I would  focus on the ten good things each day, I’d feel a lot better about all the uncertainty in  life. 

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How to Make a Happy Ukulele

Making Ukulele's talk by Dave Iriguchi post at
Making Ukulele's talk by Dave Iriguchi post at
Dave Iriguchi talks about making ukuleles.

Last week I attended a presentation by Dave Iriguchi of the Happy Ukulele held at the Davis Maker Space.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dave when our Uke group attended the Reno Uke fest for the first time in March 2012.  As a brand new ukulele player, I was in awe of his handmade instruments,which I consider musical works of art.  Or works of musical art.  I was really excited to hear about the process of creation.

Dave talked about his ukulele making process, his designs, innovations, tools and philosophy. He gave details that went right over my non-builder head, but I could see other makers in the room taking notes.  Even if I couldn’t follow all the details, I was entranced.  It was fascinating to hear his story and see  and try the beautiful instruments.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Last year my mom and I took a little mother daughter trip to Tahoe.
It was Mom’s first time to see the big beautiful lake in a mountain bowl. A room with a view and balcony worked for both of us.

Mother's Day Gratitude at
Tahoe getaway with Mama and Dr. Uke

 When mom was tuckered she could cool off and relax,  but still see the water.

I could cool off and relax, too. It has been so wonderful that my new relationship with Dr. Uke has been great for my relationship with my mom. She seems to enjoy my playing and singing.

Plus it brings  her back good memories of her mom who played banjo and ukulele.  Granny even played her uke and sang on an old time radio show, Major Bowes Amateur Hour.

Dr. Uke on Lake Tahoe balcony. Amazing Grace at LisaNalbone.comAmazing Grace.  Gratitude.

Wishing you some amazing grace and gratitude as you celebrate with or remember your mom.