You Can Jump On My Shoulders

“I say we rob from the rich
And blow down the door.
On to the next
To dance with the poor.
Jump on my shoulders.
You can jump on my shoulders.”

—Song written and performed by Aaron Bruno (AWOLNATION)

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pens by Sakura, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil

Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pens by Sakura, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil

This art piece was inspired by the song “Jump On My Shoulders”, written and performed by Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION. He recently lost his personal studio due to the California fires. Looking on the bright side of a dark situation, he announced on social media “By the grace of God, my home is still standing somehow. My friends and family have been so inspiring and supportive that it brings tears to my eyes constantly.”

That definitely was good news. Not only that his home was okay, but that his friends and family took note of his very own words and became the shoulders he could “jump on”.

No matter how bright the news was that his home was fine, a loss is a loss. It’s hard when you lose something, especially when it comes on suddenly and is unexpected.

I dedicate today’s writing piece to Aaron and to all of the people and animals affected by the fires. Stuff can be replaced, but souls cannot. If you can’t support any of the California assistance efforts financially, send your good thoughts and prayers their way, for those are truly powerful things.

I have a personal connection to Aaron. It was a mere few moments, but I was “randomly” able to meet him and it was forever embedded into my memory.

Here’s my story:

I met Aaron Bruno on an interestingly warm and super windy October night in Northern Kentucky. My husband and I traveled there to see him perform live (our first time). The venue was a small performance house (it literally was an old house). His album Megalithic Symphony had just been released and I was so excited to hear it live.

We got to the venue early so I could pick my seat before the crowd arrived. As we walked among the small crowd, I spotted a balcony space that was very close to the stage. It was mostly empty except for a few people scattered about. It was perfection.

My husband and I climbed the stairs and found some seats right by someone who was quietly watching the opening band. I saw the back of the person’s head and instantly knew it was Aaron Bruno.

Now, many fans freak out when they see someone “famous”, but I did not. I really wanted to meet him as I felt he was an sensitive artistic soul similar to myself, so I suppose my desire for this occurrence won. Feeling he wanted to keep to himself and be incognito for a small second before he was in front of a big crowd, I kept my cool, knowing I would want the same.

I quietly said “Aaron?” and he turned around. We introduced ourselves quickly, as the opening band finished their last few words of their set, and he shook our hands. I asked him for a picture and my husband snapped one of the two of us. Then, as we finished our time together, I blurted out “I think you are really going places.” I felt in that moment, he needed to hear me say that. He looked at me and said “I hope so.”

We said goodbye and took our seats in the balcony. The show was amazing, and I’m happy to say his career is doing exactly what I thought. It’s definitely going places. I’ve been to three of his live shows and took my mom and friends to share his beautiful words and music. My mom particularly loves the lyrics “Blame it on my ADD baby” (and bought a shirt with those lyrics) from the song “Sail” as she’s dealt with ADD her whole life. He’s selling out larger and larger concert venues, was invited to be in a movie via a connection with Mark Wahlberg, and more.

Yes, it’s true, this fire is only a minor setback, if you look at it just like that. If anyone goes through a major life situation, you have to see the good in it. Again, stuff can be replaced, but souls cannot. I know he’ll pour his feelings and emotions from this situation into his art, which, to me, is the best form of therapy. (Just look at Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill to see art therapy turn into gold.)

Sending light and love to all who needs it!

Some song inspiration-The video below is of my all-time favorite AWOLNATION song, Sail. I was hooked from the moment I heard it. I know that’s why it’s been featured on tons of commercials and television shows. I loved it so much, that I created a simple video for it years ago with my puppet, Humphrey GoKart, and his friends. I made it when I was still teaching and my students loved it.


 Photos by Tommy Braden

Photos by Tommy Braden

Run [Explicit]
Red Bull Records

Generations of Love

“I’ve got love for you if you were born in the 80’s.” —Song sung by Calvin Harris, Lyrics written by David Devine / Adam Wiles (Calvin Harris)

Carolyn Braden Ive Got Love For You.JPG

I have love for anyone born in the 80’s (though I was born one year earlier than that!) but I also have love for all the generations in our world. I hope for everyone to understand it doesn’t matter how old or young you are….everyone is deserving of love and respect.

I love and respect my 94 year old grandmother just as much as I love and respect the young children in my life.

Every age also has something wonderful to share. You can learn something from all the generations of the world. I learned something from the children I taught EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

It’s amazing what you can hear when you open your heart and truly listen……

Some song inspiration- The song that inspired my art and writing is below. I got a different meaning out of the song than the video creator, but that’s what is cool about art…each person can interpret it however they wish!

I honestly just really like the beat.


Yes, Do!

Too often, we hear the words “NO” and “DON’T.'‘ We must strive to hear the bits of positivity through the negativity in order to continue spreading love and light.

—Carolyn J. Braden 10/23/2018

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pens, Sharpie marker, BIC pencil

Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pens, Sharpie marker, BIC pencil

I started reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, recently and it made me stop and think. A couple of sentences from the Motives chapter (page 98) kept making my head spin, so I had to go back and reread the chapter to try to understand her intent better.

Here is a quote from Big Magic:

“Whenever anybody tells me they want to write a book in order to help other people, I always think, Oh please don’t. Please don’t try to help me.”

She wrote on to to explain herself a bit, and from that I was able to translate what she was trying to say (write books for yourself and if they happen to help others, then awesome!) but the sentence “Please don’t try to help me” kept blaring in my ears. The word “don’t” sounded so prescriptive when used twice in a row.

While I know Elizabeth didn't intend to be negative, “Please don’t try to help me” could have been rephrased. It was her true feelings, so I am thankful for her being so brave to put her thoughts out there like that, but the thoughts that come to my mind after reading and re-reading the chapter are simply this: We are here to help each other.

Everyone needs help. We can’t do anything alone. Even writing this piece, I had inspirational help via Elizabeth Gilbert! Humans helping humans is what our world is all about. It’s in our nature. True, you can’t help those that don’t want help (and shouldn’t go overboard trying to do so), but everything we say and do has an opportunity to reach someone.

When I write, I know it is helping me, but I also am very thoughtful in knowing someone may read my writing. I try to be positive and uplifting because it helps me, but I also hope to be that “little positive something” in someone’s life when they need it the most.

I taught myself how to do this mostly due to teaching children for over 10 years. How I said things and what I did ALWAYS had the opportunity to affect a child. I wanted to affect them in the best way possible, so I always was thinking ahead before I said or did. Doing that for so long became a life lesson to try to continuously encourage children and adults in the best way possible.

Am I perfect in what I say? Of course not! I have a new puppy in my home right now, and the words “NO” and “DON’T” are hard not to say! However, I work on a daily basis to think of better ways to say things. It’s incredibly difficult sometimes (because some people trigger the worst in us), but you have to try your best to be graceful with your words.

So, let me now turn Elizabeth’s words into a phrase I would say:

“Whenever anybody tells me they want to write a book in order to help other people, I always say to them ‘Yes, Do! Write that book because you never know how your life story may help someone else out there that dealt with a similar situation. We are all here to help each other and your book could do just that.”

While I don’t love every thought in Big Magic, I completely respect Elizabeth Gilbert and her creative talents. I know everyone doesn’t love everything I do or say, and I respect them just the same. It’d be a pretty boring world if we all liked all the same things!

If you’d like to read her book (she also wrote Eat, Pray, Love among several others), check out the link to it on below.

Carolyn's #MondayMantra - I Am a Warrior (Of Love)

Shooting at the walls of heartache
I am the warrior
Yes, I am the warrior
And victory is mine

-Song by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth, Songwriters: Nick Gilder / Holly Knight

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pen by Sakura, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil.

Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pen by Sakura, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil.

The 18th installment of my #MondayMantra series: I am a warrior (of love).

Working on something cool, new or good like a magical project, renovating your house (or a room in your home), getting a new job, trying to save more money, bringing a a new pet or child into your home, adding more travel to your life, writing a book (or writing anything at all), adding more exercise to your daily routine, losing weight, gaining weight, or something else?

If you don’t know it yet, “good news” or “good results” take time.

I have to remind myself of this often. The biggest reason I have to remind myself of this is because the whole concept of time is completely different for each new thing I do in my life. Some things take minutes while others take years.

I heard the song The Warrior the other day and it played on repeat in my head for the next couple of days. It made me think about what being a warrior means.

Being a warrior, to me, means doing exactly what I do when I’m at my most tired: I stand up and keep going. Some days I am really, really tired. (Don’t we all feel that way?) When that happens, I’ll rest, but I always get up and keep going.

That’s the only way you can make anything great happen, really.

I say “I am a warrior (of love)” because when I keep plugging away at trying to make something great happen, it’s because I feel it with love. If I really love something, I’ll make it happen.

Be that warrior of love.

Write it, say it, sing it until you live it. I started writing it in my journal along with the words “help me to keep going and make stuff happen!”. It’s just that little bit of encouragement I need to tell myself because as I’ve said many times before, sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader.

Sending my light and love to all who need it!

Backstory on my mantra series:

A mantra is a word, phrase, or sound that is repeated to aid in meditation. You could also compare it to a sort of prayer. I feel my journaling and writing of my mantras is a form of meditation or prayer. It calms me and helps me make better sense of my feelings and all the thoughts swimming around in my mind.

I believe saying or writing something repeatedly, as you already have it, aids one in attaining dreams and goals. If you write something as you already have it, it makes you feel, somehow, as if it is truly happening no matter how drastic or scary it may seem. It's like a trick to help your brain catch up to what your heart desires.

Need a little musical inspiration? Here’s the video for I Am the Warrior performed by Scandal and Patty Smyth (1984):