Oak Communications
September 13, 2010
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Sitting in the back corner of the Lafayette, Louisiana Barnes and Noble Bookstore with two stellar musicians next to her, Yvette Landry captivated the small audience during a "beat the heat" in-store performance. Playing guitar and singing songs from her recently released CD, Should Have Known, Yvette also told stories about how she started playing music and writing songs. Yvette is a compelling story teller - both in her song lyrics and about her life.

Listening to her stories and her music, I knew that I wanted to meet Yvette and learn more about her. Yvette is a middle school science teacher at a well respected private school. She also is an adjunct professor of sign language at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She plays in several bands too, among them Bonsoir Catin, Lafayette Rhythm Devils, and Balfa Toujours. She sits in with other bands and also performs with her own group.

She plays the bass guitar, rhythm guitar, accordion, sings, writes songs, and has taught herself several other instruments too. Oh, and she has a son in high school. She says she has been able to juggle so many balls because she is organized, and out of necessity learned how to plan her time.

Yvette's life has not been easy. For many years she worked full-time, went to school full-time and raised her son as a single parent. She has always worked very hard.

Yvette's musical career began just six and a half years ago. At the time, she was experiencing personal difficulties, including her father's diagnosis of brain cancer. Confronted with personal challenges, many of us just want to curl up in bed. Or, we pour ourselves into caring for our loved ones and forget to take care of ourselves.

Yvette knew that she had to find something to do or she would "explode".

To continue reading Yvette's story, click in the Playing with Passion box below then email me to tell me what you are passionate about.

All my best,

Sue Schleifer
Musical Riches

Yvette Landry was blown away that so many of the local Cajun musicians play multiple instruments and decided that she wanted to do that too.

At Festivals Acadiens et Creoles recently, I saw Steve Riley play fiddle, accordion and sing in his own band, then hop over to play drums on another stage with the Savoy Family Band. And I too have witnessed that many other musicians play multiple instruments and do so well.

Amazingly, at Lafayette's Festival all of the bands for the two full days on four stages were from southwest Louisiana. And, many local bands were not performing this time around. People come from all over the country to attend the festival too. The talent in this region of the country is inspiring.

Writing Down Dementia Workshop

spiral cactus
 Ruth Bancroft Garden

Do you have a loved one with dementia? 

Have you lost someone to Alzheimer's disease?

Are you feeling isolated or overwhelmed?

Writing Down Dementia Workshop at Hospice of Acadiana
Friday, October 22, 2010, 10 - 11 am
2600 Johnston Street
Lafayette, LA

For more information, contact Sue at 337.534.0954 or Ann Wallace, Volunteer Coordinator, 337.706.3732

Writing Down Dementia offers a rich experience of creative expression and emotional support to people who have, or have had, a loved one with dementia. This workshop is also designed for caregivers and professionals working in the field of aging services.

Through short writing experiences and discussion, we share our fears, frustrations, joys and challenges of watching our lives change - and those of our loved ones - with the advent of dementia.

No writing experience is necessary.

If you would like to schedule a Writing Down Dementia Workshop for your organization, please let me know.

I am considering starting an ongoing Writing Down Dementia workshop in Lafayette, LA. If you might be interested in participating, please contact me.

Here is a link to an article in Louisiana Medical News for which I was recently interviewed.
Coaching with Sue

Headshot Sue

Have you been thinking about working with a coach?

Perhaps you are tired of feeling stressed and overwhelmed and want to feel a sense of clarity and energy.

Do you yearn to bring your creative side back into your life and not sure how to proceed?

Maybe you would like to make a change in your career but are not sure what is next for you. Or, you would like someone to be a sounding board for you in your role as a leader in your organization.

I would love to talk with you about how I can be your partner in building a satisfying life and career. Call me for a complimentary half hour telephone coaching consultation.

Coaching is extremely effective via telephone. Let's talk.

Sue Schleifer
510.316.3319 - cell
Consulting Services
I also specialize in helping organizations to fulfill their missions, work smart, and communicate effectively. One of the ways I do this is through working to improve the internal communications in the organization.
  • Is everyone clear on their roles and responsibilities and how decisions are made?
  • Is there tension between people that is getting in the way of productivity?
These are just a couple of the questions that we might explore to help get your organization back on track.

For more information, contact:

Sue Schleifer
510.316.3319 - cell
Playing With Passion
(Yvette's story continued from above.)

Yvette knew that she had to find something to do or she would "explode". "I had an impulse for survival." Normally her release was sports. Now she couldn't afford the three to four hours of time away from home she would normally spend playing volleyball or tennis or teaching aerobics.

She recalled a time two years prior when one of her fellow teachers had asked her to play the electric bass for an event at their school. The French department wanted to perform a Cajun song in the chapel for the kids. She convinced Yvette to play bass in the band even though Yvette had never played the instrument before. Yvette had played piano and all of the wind instruments when she was a child but had given up music once she went to college.

Yvette's colleague loaned her an electric bass and she practiced for a month at home, playing the 2 bass notes in the song that they would be performing. By the time of the performance, Yvette was ready. That day hurricane Lily came along, school was cancelled, and the band didn't get to play. She returned the bass to her colleague and forgot about it.

But she didn't forget about how it felt to hold the bass and pick out the notes, playing along with country music CD's. So two years later, when her life depended upon having a personal outlet that she could do on her own and was transportable, she remembered how much she enjoyed playing the bass. She spontaneously bought a sleek black bass at a local music store and once again started playing along with CD's.

"Part of the reason I truly fell in love with this music is that it was all about playing by ear. I could hear melodies in my head and I could make them come out on my instrument. It was just total creativity and that was so much fun." She would bring her instrument with her everywhere and would play it whenever she got a chance, even to the hospital in Houston where she played it unamplified. Her parents enjoyed her playing as much as she did.

An acquaintance who heard that she had bought a base, suggested that she go to Mitch Reed's Cajun jam sessions out on Gloria Switch Road. One day she was driving by on her way to Lowe's and remembered that the session was close by. Tentatively, she walked in to the shop and was amazed by what she saw. The next week she came back with her bass. She enjoyed sitting in the circle with people of all ages and learning how to play Cajun music. "It was a whole new world for me." Even though she grew up in "Cajun Country" she was not familiar with the music or the local music scene. It had never been a part of her conscious world.

Within three months time, she was asked to play a gig with a Cajun band. She couldn't believe it. At the end of the evening, she was leaving the gig and the band leader asked her where she was going. She said she was going home. "Don't you want this?" he asked her. He handed her $40. "You get paid for doing this?" she exclaimed.

The next day, band leader Randy Vidrine called her and told her the guys enjoyed playing with her and invited her to join their band, the Lafayette Rhythm Devils. Six and half years later, she and the rest of the band will take off soon for a two-week tour of Germany and England. She just returned from performing at the Richmond Folk Festival with Bonsoir Catin. Her performance calendar is full and exciting.

The past six years plus have been a whirlwind of musical activity on top of her very full life as a dedicated teacher and parent. She has pushed her own personal boundaries. She never imagined herself as a songwriter or a professional musician. At one point she was learning four new instruments at one time. She acknowledges that all those years of playing classical and band music as a youth probably contribute to the ease with which she is able to pick up music now.

"It was total therapy initially. But it quickly became a love and passion. I reconnected with my roots and it was an amazing thing."

So what can you and I learn from Yvette? We can take care of ourselves as we take care of others. Listen to our bodies, minds and hearts to find our own passions. Pursuing our passions is good for us and for those around us. Work hard at what we love and share it with others.

Yvette's dad convinced her to put her songs on CD, and I am glad he did.
Oak Communications

Lafayette, LA and throughout the country

510.316.3319 - cell

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