Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Take Your Time

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When I lived in Santa Fe, I used to housesit and dogsit for people. When a friend’s mother  passed away, she asked if I would stay at her mother’s house until she and her sister decided what to do with it.
This was no ordinary house. This was a gorgeous ranch with a guest house in one of my favorite places on earth. I was sure everyone was mistaken and I was really the one who had died because this was my idea of heaven. The days I got to spend in that home among so many beautiful things were unforgettable.
My friend’s mother was a remarkable woman who had crafted an astonishingly elegant life for herself and the friends, family, horses, and canines that kept her company.
One evening as I sat on the porch watching a spectacular sunset the idea occurred to me that I couldn’t hang on to this place or this experience any more than my friend’s mother could. The only thing I could do was fully appreciate the time I had there.
This is why I’m so protective of this time at the end of the year and seem obsessed with making sense of the year coming to a close.  I’m acutely aware that, as the classic Seals and Croft song goes, “We may never pass this way again.”
So I want to make sure I’m present for it. That I don’t rush through it in my desire to move on to bigger, better, faster, or flashier. I want to take my time and give it the attention a full year of my life deserves. I hope you’ll do the same with yours.
With that said, I’ll take you through the rest of the Year in Review template and tomorrow I’ll give you a different one to look at the year ahead.
What were the products that rocked your world? Every year there is at least one thing I wonder how I ever lived without. Usually it’s an upgrade or improvement to something I use every day. It could be as simple as a new electric toothbrush, slim velvet hangers, a new skincare product, or an app that reminds me to meditate, move, or feed the fish. What are those things for you?
Who were the people who rocked your world? Just as there are products you can’t live without, there are people who make it all worthwhile. It could be your yoga teacher, your rabbi, a rock star, a writer, your next door neighbor, Alexander Hamilton, or the dog-treat-dispensing bank teller. I was inspired by so many people that this will have to be a separate blog post for me.
What books, blogs, movies, music, concerts, conversations, or workshop/seminars/coaching programs/retreats changed the way you think and feel? The thing I like to remember is I am only one thought away from a new perspective and a few dance moves or dog walk away from a better mood. As much as I like to think about things, I don’t act on them until I feel something. Often times I need a nudge in the form of reading material, listening material, phoning a friend, or giving in to the unbridled enthusiasm of two dogs who think they are going for a w-a-l-k.
How did your relationships change or shift this year? Did you get engaged, married, divorced, have a baby, lose a loved one, start a business, hire a coach, fire someone, rekindle a romance, move to a new neighborhood, or retire from your job? When your circumstances change, usually your relations shift as well.
What health, fitness, food, or spiritual practices did you try, tweak, test out, or keep up this year? Maybe you took up archery or turned into a total foodie, much to your surprise and delight. Maybe you started a hip hop class or became a Buddhist. Maybe you did a 21-day cleanse or tried acupuncture. Or maybe you suffered a debilitating illness that turned your world upside down and forced you to do everything differently. How have these new practices defined you or allowed you to reinvent yourself?
What is the smallest change you made that had the biggest impact? Did you start meditating for 5 minutes in the morning or stop drinking soda? Did you start leaving love notes in your spouse’s lunchbox? Did you take up taekwondo with your kid? Did you give up lattes for Lent and never looked back?
And finally, what were your greatest contributions this year? Maybe you spent a Saturday afternoon being a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Maybe you took 3 carloads of career ready clothes to Dressed for Success. Maybe you sponsored a child, saved yourself and your children and left an abusive relationship, or fed some local families during the holidays. Whatever you did, make a note of it. It mattered.
Tomorrow I’ll look at what you want to call in for 2017.  But for today, take your time and tell me about your year in the comments below.
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Stop, Drop, and Roll

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It’s Day 10 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today’s challenge is a variation on stop, drop, and roll.
I learned this fire safety drill early on in my relationship with Fireman Bob. I believe it was the first time I offered to cook him a meal.
“Should your clothes catch on fire,” he warned as soon as he witnessed my wizardry with the gas stove,“your response is to stop, drop, and roll.”
Of course this is no longer a threat now that I’m banned from the kitchen. But, the lesson stuck with me and today I’d like to adapt the stop, drop, and roll theory to our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.
I’d love for you stop for 5-15 minutes today and review your progress so far. We’re about 1/3 of the way through our challenge. Nothing builds on the excitement of a movement like momentum.
So grab your lists and let’s review your to do’s-to be’s- to have’s , listen to a couple of your playlists, take a peek at those pics you took to post your progress, and gather your evidence that the world is basically good.

What are the biggest and smallest items you’ve been able to accomplish in 10 days? Would you have done these things had you not been doing the 1×31 challenge?

You are inching forward, are you not? You’ve earned bragging rights so go ahead a tell someone or share with the rest of us in the comments below.
Yesterday I took some work clothes to Dress for Success, which was a big item on my list. On Day 5, with the help of Fireman Bob, I got the pantry organized. (The pantry is not off limits. No fire hazards there.)
Okay, this is where I’m taking creative license with the Stop, Drop, and Roll drill and changing Drop and Roll to Rock and Roll. I think you know where this is heading. That’s right. Dance party.
Remember on Day 7 when I asked you to do something for the health of it?  Just in case you didn’t get around to that, here is your chance. As they say, dance like no one’s watching. Play air guitar. Break out the roller skates/blades. Or do the hokey -pokey and turn yourself around.
Just do some small physical thing (like throw your arms up in a victory pose as I did  when my feet touched this exquisite red sand near Zion National Park) to celebrate your success so far. If that happens to be drop and roll, so be it.  Otherwise, rock on!
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Okay, here’s your playlist to accompany today’s post:
Celebrate Good Times – Kool and the Gang
Rock On – David Essex – or if you prefer the Midnight Special edition, click here.
Stop, Drop, and Roll – Safety Safety Song for Kids- This is fabulous… a stop, drop, and roll song! These kids are amazing and their dance moves are awesome.
It’s Still Rock N Roll to Me – Billy Joel
Rock Me Gently – Andy Kim – One of my all time favorite songs:)
Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
Rock Me Amadeus – Falco
Roll With It – Steve Winwood
Only Rock and Roll – The Rolling Stones

  • The fascinating thing with compiling these playlists is I’ve never watched any of the videos until now.  I usually just searched for the music on iTunes. It’s been quite entertaining to actually watch the videos. Hope you enjoy them as well. 🙂

 
Your suggestions are welcome in the comments below.
 
 
 
 

Baby, You're a Firework

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In addition to everything else that today may be, July 4th is also Day 4 of Get Stuff Done 1×31.
There is a lot of picnicking, parading, and playing patriotic music in the USA today. In sticking with this celebratory theme, today’s task is to create an anthem.
We all need an anthem, a fight song, a Get Stuff Done 1×31 battle cry.
If cleaning the pantry and putting up deck lights are on your list (oh, right, that’s my list), you may want to create an iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Google Play, Tidal, or Apple Music playlist to get your through the tasks at hand.
Just as the soundtrack to a movie is essential to evoking the emotions necessary to move the action along, having a playlist for your project, party, or potential road trip helps you sustain your momentum. The music also anchors the event in your memory.
I’ve been making “mixed tapes” and playlists since I taught aerobics in the 80s. Trust me, it’s never been easier or more exciting to mix music than it is today.  If you have yet to discover the sonic sanctuary that awaits you at any of the above streaming music sources, take 5-15 minutes and check it out today. (Be warned, it may turn into an hour or all afternoon adventure.)
I know you’ve got the music in you. Tap into its power to propel you forward.
Here’s a little patriotic music in case you aren’t one of the 7 million people who have viewed this video. https://www.facebook.com/AnthemLights/videos/1434597926565706/
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Share your ideas or recommend your favorite playlists and artists in the comments below.
 
 

Shut Up and Dance With Me

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Before discovering Sirius XM and the singers and songwriters on the Coffee House, I was stuck in the 80s musically.  Of this, I am not particularly proud.
Today I can easily sing along with almost any song because I absolutely love discovering new music. And let’s face it, I have a lot of catching up to do.
According to JibJab, the song of the summer is Shut Up and Dance With Me.  Although I prefer the less offense directive “shut it” to “shut up”, it’s a very catchy tune and often times the only way to get someone you love on the dance floor.
One of the benefits of having over seventy needles poked in my face, ears, fingers, toes, arms, legs, and belly on a regular basis is not just the elimination of my allergies, but the triumphant return of Mr. Sandman and the Technicolor Dreams. In other words, I’m sleeping like a baby after decades of disturbed sleep.
Like Joseph, another Technicolor dreamer, my dreams are worthy of a musical. Based on last night’s review, my musical wants to be called none other than “Shut Up and Dance With Me.”
Actually the precise words delivered in the dream were “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”
This came after a jam packed day of College for Kids, meeting with the local press, staying late to meet publication deadlines  for our fall catalog, and deciding to watch an artsy movie on Amazon Prime, since our satellite provider went out for the eighth time in two months.
The movie was called Still Life.  It’s a slow moving, sad story about a bloke who lives alone and works in a sterile and solitary bureaucratic environment.  His job is to find the family or friends of those who die alone so he can give them a proper burial.  Unfortunately, these are usually people who have lived their lives in such a way that they’ve alienated anyone who might care.
But our protagonist cares in his odd and autistic way. Despite the depressing subject and the maddeningly methodical pace at which he performs his job, something compelled me to keep watching.
Maybe it’s the thing that compels us all to keep plugging away.  The hope that what we do matters to someone. That at some point in our life someone will hear the same beat we move to and ask us to dance. Or we recognize it in others and ask them to dance.
The problem with watching a movie or television or engaging in media before bedtime is it’s much harder for me to quiet my mind. Especially if the information I’ve consumed is emotionally charged or unsettling.
When I finally got to sleep, my own version of Still Life unfolded.  In the dream I was following a little bird through all kinds of quirky conundrums.
Despite the craziness, I remember feeling very much alive and pleased with this peculiar path.  Just before I woke up someone joined me as we were  perched precariously on the side of a building Spiderman style.
Realizing it’s all an absurd adventure that could end any minute, he smiled appreciatively and said like a true guru, “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”
And then I woke up to a chorus of birds chirping and presumably dancing outside my window.
I’d love to know how you are being asked to dance these days and, with all due respect, if you would “shut up and dance with me“?
Share if you dare in the comments below.

Sonic Sanctuary

We live in amazing times.  Just when I thought Amazon Prime couldn’t get any better, bring on the free music.

It seems like just yesterday I was buying albums so I could carefully blend the most magical tunes together in order to have a mixed tape for every mood.  I’d spend hours as PJ the DJ carefully curating the most energizing tunes for my aerobics classes, the subtlest of sexy songs for the dating ritual, the rowdiest road songs for adventurous outings, along with the occasional classical cut to cultivate my creativity or monastic chant to elevate my spirit.

These days all I have to do is search the playlists that are already assembled by other music lovers, hit the download button, and in the same time it took me to make one side of a mixed tape, I’ve downloaded twenty playlists.

I once listened to an audio program called This IsYour Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin.  I remember the author stating that we vividly remember the music of our younger days because of all the emotions associated with our developing brain and bodies.

Although that may be true, I’m finding it works miracles at midlife as well since this seems to be the second coming of hormone-induced hysteria.

Music is a universal language and when words fail us, we can fall back on our favorite playlist to do the talking for us.  There is something supremely satisfying to me to know I can search and rescue my favorite song from oblivion at a moment’s notice and share it with an unsuspecting niece, nephew, sibling, parent, partner, or passerby.

Before Sirius XM, I had been stuck musically somewhere in the last century.  Now I am  thrilled to discover new music every time I step foot inside the virtual Coffee House in my car.  When I’m not in my car, websites like Amazon Prime, Spotifiy, and Songza catapult me right out of the past and directly into the present where I can surround myself with all kinds of music from an incredible array of genres.

Who knew I’d once again be spending oodles of hours listening to music from the past and present like a lovestruck teenager?

As soon as I figure out how to add playlists to my posts I’ll add them to this blog.  (Feel free to fill me in if you already know how.)  That way if you don’t have time to read the post, you can just listen to the playlist.  I’ll think you’ll be able to adequately determine how things are going in my world just by listening. 

Plus, you can send me yours and it we’ll create a virtual record store… or better yet, a sonic sanctuary.  Oh yes, that sounds so soothing.  A Zen and Pen moment if ever there was one.

Give me a few days to figure it out and I’ll be back to rock your world!