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D-MoZone is the place to find out what’s new with pianist/composer/educator Diane Moser. Keep an eye on this blog for updates on music, health, gigs, fundraisers, random thoughts and all things D-Mo. And please keep sending your thoughts, good wishes and comments this way—they’re always needed and always appreciated.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Diane's gigging for a good cause in Brooklyn on Saturday

8th annual Lady Got Chops Womens Month Jazz Festival!
13 Luminary Women in Jazz!

This Saturday March 27th 7-11pm

338 Atlantic Avenue btw Hoyt & Smith
Brooklyn New York 11201

Schermerhorn/Hoyt street subway station 2 min walk down Hoyt to Atlantic!

Doors open at 6:15 for The Silent Auction-Exciting Donated Gifts auctioned off
Proceeds of the evenings events Donated to Doctor's Without Borders
for the Crisis in Haiti.

Admission $25

Two 90 minute sets of uninterupted Live Jazz in 100 seat posh Art Gallery!

Mala Waldron & Diane Moser-Piano / Noriko Ueda & Anne Iversen-Bass
LaRe! Keisha St. Joan! Lucy Blanco! Singing!
Dr Jan Grice-Bassoon Andrea Brachfeld-Flute Anette Lipson-World Percussion
Rachel Housle-Drums
Special Surprise Guests!

Please join us for this beautiful performance of Live exciting Jazz & support
Women in Jazz, Women's Month & Doctor's Without Borders.

After Party too!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There seem to be a lot of stories in the news these days about happiness. Everything from why don't you have it to how you can get it. But this story from the New York Times by Roni Caryn Rabin really caught my attention-it's about engaging in meaningful conversation. Social scientists have done studies that show we are far happier when we engage in meaningful conversation and not very happy when we engage in small talk.
Personally, I always feel a sense of renewed energy after I have engaged in meaningful conversation. I think it's the give and take that occurs during the conversation that somehow energizes me. There's the pleasure of giving to the other person (people) and then there's the satisfaction of having been heard. And then there's the discussion part-where the conversationalist spend time to "suss out" a challenge or problem-and that involves creativity-and that gets my brain going-and I really like that. It's a win win situation.
We all lead very busy lives, but to make time for some real face/ear time I think is essential to well being, I know it is for me.
In the words of my favorite little philosopher Christine..."for real, for real life "

Monday, March 22, 2010

My awe inspiring story of the day....Al Bell

Wow-that was fast-eh?! I just finished writing on the blog about awe inspiring stories, then looked at my email, and there was one from my high school piano teacher-an inspiring woman in her own right, who told me about a story in the Des Moines Register on Al Bell.
Al Bell travel around the world with his wife, they produced their own travelogues, then they would show up at school with all of their stuff, which included tons of musical instruments, their film and give us a show.
Every year I looked forward to seeing Al Bell-I couldn't wait! In my mind, I was traveling there with him and his wife to every country they went to. I was fascinated and thrilled by the sounds of the musical instruments that he brought back. I wanted to be Al Bell!

Those experiences influenced me and inspired me-and still do to this day. Those shows broadened my horizons, taught me about the world outside of Iowa, inspired me to search out other cultures, their foods, their religions, their arts-it inspired me to create the program I ran at the Brooklyn Children's Museum called "Found Sounds"-where I would take instruments from around the world into the pediatric wards of NYC hospitals-and work with very sick and terminally ill children-we played music together and learned about how sound is made.
Even today, when I'm teaching piano, I will pull out my world instrument book, my art history book and I always keep an atlas handy and talk to my students about how cultures influenced the making of music and design of instruments.
You can bet that all week I'll be showing my students the Des Moines Register article.....hope it inspires them too.

Inspiration........Epigenetics......Jin Shin Jyutsu

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far place. --Russian Proverb

The article and quote above, arrived in my email box via charityfocus.org, which I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter, always filled with inspirational stories of one sort or another. This particular article is about which stories, that appear in the newspaper, are emailed the most. The researchers figured it would be all of the "bad news" stories, but instead it was all of the "good news" stories, especially the ones that were awe inspiring.

They talked about a story that had.... an “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.”

And how it.." involves the opening and broadening of the mind,” writes Dr. Berger and Dr. Milkman, who is a behavioral economist at Wharton.

“Seeing the Grand Canyon, standing in front of a beautiful piece of art, hearing a grand theory or listening to a beautiful symphony may all inspire awe. So may the revelation of something profound and important in something you may have once seen as ordinary or routine, or seeing a causal connection between important things and seemingly remote causes.”

Dr Berger goes on to say..."people who share this kind of article seem to have loftier motives than trying to impress their friends. They’re seeking emotional communion, emotion in general leads to transmission, and awe is quite a strong emotion.”

So let's take this a little further.....if you are experiencing "awe" , then you are experiencing inspiration, which may propel you to do something you've always wanted to do,go somewhere new (the Dalai Lamma recommends going to one new place every year) a creative project, or just spread a little kindness for the day.

And all of this has a huge impact on our "well being". I watched a "Nova" program last night called "Ghost in your Genes"-it was about epigenetics-very fascinating-they are little chemical tags that can turn a gene on or off. I was riveted to this program, because this is what my medication (Gleevec) is working on-keeping that gene turned off that created the cancer.

They also talked about other factors that can manipulate these little tags-environmental, nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, and of course-emotions and traumatic experiences (which my nutritionist had talked to me about)-and how we can manipulate them back! That's where Gleevec comes in, and the reason for writing this in the first place and that is Jin Shin Jyutsu.

Mark Dresser hipped me to this wonderful body energy work many years ago. I use it everyday, and go to a wonderful practitioner every other month. The main focus of this work is like most body energy practices-to release stuck energy and get it flowing again. In Jin Shin Jyutsu, energy is associated with 5 basic emotions, anxiety, fear,anger,grief, and what they call pre-tense or trying to hard. Then, there are energy locks that are associated with various medical and psychological issues, as well as organ flows. I work on the energy locks for digestion, and mental clarity, and combine that work with meditation. It gets me going in the morning, and de-stresses me in the evening.

So there are genes that we are born with, and little chemical tags that buzz around them that have been influence by environment, lifestyle etc., emotional and psychological trauma-and I forgot to mention that they have proven all of that can also be inherited. But those little tags can be manipulated by reading an inspiring story everyday, passing that along to others, meditating, body energy work, doing something creative, spreading a little kindness, learning something or going somewhere new-even if it's only a new place for lunch or a different route home.

The other part I want to add is something that my first acupuncturist told me "there is the energy that you are born with-ancestral chi-and the chi that you generate"-sounds a little like what these biologist are talking about with genes and epigenes.

So while western medicine-which I am extremely grateful to-finds new ways to manipulate epigenes which in turns eradicates or as they called it-restructuring the cell with the cancer causing protein-I am working on another level of manipulating those little buggers ;-)
And-keeping a look out for "awe inspiring stories".

Thursday, March 18, 2010

D-Mo in the news ...

There's a nice article about Diane in the March 18 Montclair Times. Good job by writer George Wirt.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fightin' words

Another insightful article by Dana Jennings about coping with cancer. This time he takes on the language we routinely use to describe dealing with the diagnosis and treatment, and for those who have/had cancer: battle, bravery, survivor, fight, victim. He analyzes the word choices, describes his reaction to them, and makes some suggestions of what we might do rather than "reach for the nearest rotted-out cliché for support."

Jennings wraps up with some real food for thought: "Strangely enough, although cancer threatened my life it also exalted it, brought with it a bright and terrible clarity.

"So, no, cancer isn’t a battle, a fight. It’s simply life — life raised to a higher power."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gleevec Brain a.k.a. Chemo Brain

There's a little secret that all of us- who have been on some sort of chemo-have, and that is chemo brain. It's interesting, the reaction I get from my friends who are cancer survivors-we talk about it in a very hushed voice-nobody wants to admit to it-but we all live with it-and "it" chemo brain-is the "new us". The docs didn't tell us we would be fighting this too along with everything else. Once we start the conversation, and we have confirmed for each other that we are experiencing "chemo brain" there is the huge sigh of relief-finally-somebody else understands.

One of my friends hipped me to this website-a wonderful resource-please share it with anyone you may know who is struggling with chemo brain http://www.chemobraininfo.org/
Once I got to the website, and saw the books my friend wanted me to see, I immediately got in touch with my local library-one they had-the other they're getting from another library.

I started perusing thru their articles, and found the first 2 from the NYTimes......
This one "The Fog That Follows Chemotherapy" by Jane E. Brody http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/health/04brod.html?emc=eta1 talks about the symptoms of "chemo brain", one of them I had to laugh at-"inability to follow instructions when cooking or knitting"-ha! I tried to re-learn crocheting, I wanted to make a baby blanket for a friends first baby, and I got as far as the first chain, then I completely lost it, couldn't follow the directions, became dizzy-I gave up. (and yes, I had crocheted a baby blanket before...)

The second article "Taking Steps To Cope With Chemo Brain" (same author) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/health/11brod.html?emc=eta1
talks about coping mechanisms-all of which I do except for the ask for help part-although-just this week I had arrived to the conclusion that there are things that I just can't do anymore, and that I would need support. That's a very difficult place to get to and to be in.......but I think the fact that I recognize that now, will help me move forward.

Many folks laugh this off-but I take this very seriously. It's not just about making sure you pay your bills on time, do errands, remember passwords etc. etc.-all of that is remedied by making lists (which I did months and months ago-lists upon lists-and still use).
But it's having conversations, creating art, engaging in life. When those neurotransmitters are on the blink, the light goes out, and all of a sudden I'm in a void.

Many people have this experience after emotional or physical trauma and that rings true for me too. But I'm still taking my "chemo", and the drug is still affecting me in this way-on top of the emotional, physical trauma, and all of the drugs that I had in the hospital and all of the xrays, and cat scans.......

Somehow I think there is a different answer to all of this. How interesting would it be for everyone who has "chemo brain" to just say "okay-I don't really fit into the life I had before, so I think I'll create a new one-one that allows for "chemo brain" . Why are we as a society so insistent on making sure everything goes "back to normal", when in reality, there is no normal, there just "is"-in fact-I wrote a blues about that back in the 80's called "It Is", because that's what our lives are about-whatever "it is" at the moment.

I'm interested in reading about the what's and why's of chemo brain in these books, and maybe I'll have a different viewpoint when I'm done. But my opinion is that "reality" is what is in my mind at any moment in time, and if my mind is experiencing "brown outs and black outs", then I have to go with that.
Or more literally-flow with that.....

Friday, March 12, 2010

1 year anniversary....

This week has been the start of my one year anniversary of my surgery-hospitalization-and generally new life!
Libra Zebra has revamped the opening of the blog,thank you Libra Zebra and I celebrated with my son Chad and my other "2 sons" James and Ryen at out favorite pizza place-Star Tavern in East Orange, NJ-best thin crust pizza in NJ-I know so because the Newark Star Ledger Pizza Patrol Contest says so-plus-we love it!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Okay, now I have the evidence-ha!

Although this article refers to "older people"-maybe that means me too, I don't know what the author's idea of an older person is, but I definitely experienced cognitive malfunctions after my hospital experience, and I still do to some extent. Many people just laughed at me when I would try to explain this phenomena, even my doctor told me I was over reacting.
But I know the difference in how my brain worked before I went in and after I came out, and it was distinctly slower on the outbound side.

Maybe some of the cognitive slow down had to do with the trauma of it all in general, I would buy that theory. Multi- tasking for me is not what it used to be, and, my reaction to extreme multi tasking these days usually results in high anxiety (one of my favorite Mel Brooks' films). Sometimes I don't even know I have high anxiety, until I pop! That doesn't happen that often, but when it does "mommy needs a time out"!

Now here's where the benefits of one the "so-called alternative therapies" comes in.
Meditation, is a very useful and beneficial activity. Meditating allows your mind to process information, without really thinking about it. Sounds paradoxical, but it's true.
And there are many different ways to meditate, you don't actually have to sit with legs crossed, index fingers touching, palms up while humming "ohm". I meditate while I'm playing the piano.
I meditate while I'm walking-usually in the park on a circular track-that way I don't get run over by someone who is drinking a latte, talking on their cell phone while driving their car.
I used to meditate while swimming, but I had a very close to drowning type incident and decided that just the zen-like feel I get from swimming would suffice.
Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure and restore-guess what-brain activity.

I started my exploration of meditation when I was in the 7th grade-I found a book at the library called "Kung Fu Meditations". How a book like that ended up in our tiny town in the middle of Iowa I have no idea. But I followed the steps and found a certain kind of peace that helped me through those crazy middle school years. Now I follow more of the Mindfulness Meditation concepts. There's a lot more leeway in that camp and it fits my lifestyle.

Meditation helps to clear my head so I can work on the repair of those cognitive functions.
I'm not "all there yet"-but I'm much closer than I was a year ago.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

the so-called alternative therapies........

First, a little bit of a diatribe.......
It bugs me that acupuncture, body energy work, meditation, even nutrition are called alternative therapies. There was a time on this planet, that they were the main therapies for healing.

Let's start with acupuncture!
Acupuncture dates back to the stone age. There are hieroglyphics and pictographs of acupuncture and moxibustion from 1600-1100 BCE, the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (History of Acupuncture) which was compiled around 305–204 B.C, and in Europe, examinations of the 5,000-year-old mummified body of Ötzi the Iceman have identified 15 groups of tattoos on his body, some of which are located on what are now seen as contemporary acupuncture points. This has been cited as evidence that practices similar to acupuncture may have been practiced elsewhere in Eurasia during the early Bronze Age.

I was introduced to acupuncture by a chiropractor in 1990. I had fallen and rolled down the side of a mountain (not the entire mountain, but a few hundred feet) while backpacking in the Adirondacks. I seemed fine at the time, but one morning, 5 months later, I was in extreme pain and could not walk, I couldn't even get out of bed. Somehow, I made it to my chiropractor, and to the xray lab, to discover that I had a slipped disc. So for the next 3 months, I saw my chiropractor 3 days a week, and, an acupuncturist 2 days a week. I had lost the "electronic" connection in my right leg, which meant I couldn't stand on that leg but could drag it along as I walked, and I was in extreme pain 24/7.
The acupuncturist (also a huge fan of jazz ;-), applied needled and moxibustion. Slowly, the pain decreased. My chiropractor said he would prescribe pain pills, but I didn't want to go that route.
By the 4th month, I was down to 2 days a week at the chiropractor, and 1 day a week for acupuncture.
By the 6th month, the pain was gone and I could walk and stand on my right leg. I went to the YMCA for their "Y's Way To A Healthy Back", a wonderful course that helped me develop abdominal muscles and to learn how to move my body so that I didn't hurt my back. I also started a routine of daily walks.
By the 7th month, I was swimming again, slowly, only a few laps at a time. But by the 8th month I was swimming a half mile a day.
Most of the people I talked to who had experienced a similar accident and set of circumstances advised me to get back surgery. Many of those people are still in pain and have limited mobility.
I'm very happy I didn't go that route.

For the present......
A few weeks after I returned home from the hospital (March 28th, 2009), my current acupuncturist gave me the gift of weekly sessions for a couple of months. If you have never been to an acupuncturist before, the first thing they do is feel your pulse. Well, she could feel a slight pulse on my left, and no pulse on my right (which is where the tumor was). The pulse is not the traditional pulse as in heartbeat, but an energy pulse, actually pulses, which coincide with various meridians of energy. Basically, it tells her where to "fire up the energy line"-my translation, not hers ;-) So as she worked on those meridians, she also used a technique on my scar, to help it to heal and to prevent scarring, which included beads, aluminum foil and a little zapper tool that sent electric pulses-and it's lookin' pretty good now.

We are still working on that right side, the pulse is definitely getting stronger, and the left side is very solid. We're also working on reducing the effects of some of the side effects of the drug-edema, fatigue, foggy brain, cramping-it's a slow go, but there's improvement.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gigging for a good cause

D-Mo's playing at an event in Brooklyn to raise money for Doctors Without Borders' relief work in Haiti.

The 8th Annual Lady Got Chops Women's Month Jazz Festival presents 9-time Award Winning Jazz Singer & accomplished Musician LaRe alongside 10 Luminary Women in Jazz!

Clover's Fine Arts Gallery
338 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn NY
two block walk from Hoyt Schermerhorn Train Stop!
Saturday March 27th
Doors open 6pm
Showtime 7pm-11pm

Admission $25
Proceeds donated to Doctor's Without Borders relief work in Haiti

Mala Waldron, Diane Moser - Piano
Naoko Ueda - Bass
Keisha St Joa, LaRe, Lucy Blanco - Singers
Annette Lipson - world percussion
Melissa Jean - trombone
Rachel Housle - drums

Special Guest Jazz Performances!

There will be a silent auction of specially donated gifts auctioned off and proceeds will be donated to Dr's Without Borders!

Please be there early to participate & sign up for silent auction!

Kudos to bassist Kim Clarke for putting together a great Lady Got Chops festival lineup for Women's History Month.