Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Daily Affirmations

Last week I wrote a post about the morning rituals I've recently implemented into my days, after reading the book The Miracle Morning.  I mentioned that I still feel a little weird saying affirmations.  But I've heard they can be powerful.  So I keep trying.  So far, I've just been writing them down in my journal.  I don't yet speak them, out loud, in front of the mirror.  Perhaps, I should...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I Can't Feel My Face-- Now I Get It!

I've been annoyed at the song "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd since I first heard it.  It says mostly the same lines over and over, and I don't have any idea what the hell it means.  And even though it annoys me, I know all those repeated lines and I end up singing along.  I can't help myself.  Ug.

But today, I made a huge discovery.

It's not just some stupid love song about loving someone so much it feels like your face is frozen and you can't feel it (what?). It's actually a drug reference song!  It's all about cocaine!  Once you think of the song in that context, it actually makes sense. 

I learned this on a really cool podcast I've recently started listening to called "Switched on Pop".  It's hosted by 2 guys, one's a musicologist, the other's a songwriter, and they discuss the making and meaning of popular music.

This week's episode on "Switched on Pop" is episode 20, and it's called "The Weekend: Dance Of Deception".  It's a fascinating 23 minute podcast.  So put on those sneaks, put in those earbuds, go for a brisk walk and have a listen.  You'll never think of that song the same way again!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Miracle Mornings

For many years, I've said, "I'm not a morning person."  But in the same breath of that, I will confess I'm not really a night owl either.  I stay up late watching tv, but I'm not productive or worthwhile in any way.  So instead, it's more accurate to say I've been a lazy night owl for many years. 

It's not that I'm grouchy when I wake up, or that I'm especially challenged to "get going" once I'm up, but I just love my bed.  Occasionally, I blame my dogs, Lucy and Ricky for being too cuddly. It's their fault I often get up too late to feel like I've got a chance for much of a productive morning.
See the problem?!

As soon as I do get up, I take each dog on a long walk.  Then I go to yoga most days. Then I take a shower-- Well, okay- If I'm being honest, often it's a bath.  If it's not a day I need to wash my hair, it's a bath.  And once I'm in the tub, suds-ing up, I feel like I deserve a little R&R so I end up laying in my tub and reading for about a half hour.  And then guess what?  It's time for lunch.

And the day is half gone.

This, I realize, is a little ridiculous.  And it bothers me.

Several months ago, I stumbled upon The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. He talks about the importance of positive morning rituals to start your day.  He's combined 6 good (and common) practices, just 10 minutes of each, and named it, "The Miracle Morning".  Basically it's this (and in no particular order):
10 minutes of meditation
10 minutes of writing in a journal
10 minutes of affirmations
10 minutes of positive affirmations
10 minutes of reading something inspiring/self-helpy
10 minutes of exercise like push ups, sit ups, and yoga stretches

And all of that, adds up to a miracle of sorts.  In just an hour!

He also gives some advice on how to get yourself up and at 'em at an early hour.  First of all, he suggests, don't ever hit snooze on the alarm clock.  Hitting snooze is telling the day, "I'm not excited about you." So get right up, he says.  Wash your face, put on your clothes, brush your teeth and drink a glass of water.  By the time you've done that, you're UP. And before you know it, you're AT 'EM.

Also, don't go to bed at night thinking, "Oh crap- I only have 6 hours to sleep before my alarm is going to sound.  I'm going to be so tired."  Instead, as you drift off, affirm, "I am getting the exact amount of sleep I need to feel energetic in the morning and throughout tomorrow."

Well, I've been doing "The Morning Miracle" stuff for months now- But, like Hal Elrod says is allowed, I've customized my Miracle Morning to suit me better so it looks like this(and this is the order I do it in):
6 minutes meditation (that's quite enough for me for now, thank you)
15 minutes of reading (because 10 isn't enough!)
10/sometimes 15 minutes of writing in my journal
3 minutes of combining affirmations and visualization (I need help on these- they feel a little off still)
10 minutes of sketching/doodling/zentangling (I make myself stop at 10 minutes, but like the reading, this could turn into at least an hour if I didn't time myself)
10 minutes exercise

That all adds up to just a little under an hour.  I keep telling myself I'll add in something music related- either songwriting time, or sight reading practice, or something.  And I will. 

I've experimented with different times I've set my alarm to wake me.  7am felt early at first, but by the time I was done performing all of my miracles, it was already 8.  I decided I wanted to get up before it was light outside.  So I was getting up at 6am.  But lately, 6:30am has been feeling much better.  I've decided I need to start going to bed earlier if I want to happily pull off a 6am wake up time, and not be begging for an afternoon nap.

As soon as my hour is up, I go on the long dog walks. Then, I'm showered (or bathed) and ready for the day by 9/9:30am- A couple days a week, I catch a yoga class, which tacks on about another hour.  But either way, I'm doing much better than before.

I feel like I've already been pretty productive with my version of a spiritual practice, and it sets a good tone for the whole day.  I wouldn't necessarily claim it to be a miracle morning, but it's a better than it was before I was doing this, for sure.

I take a day off, every now and then.  Usually, that would be a weekend morning- just because it's fun to lounge around on a Saturday and/or Sunday morning.

I've found that maybe I am a morning person after all.  These rituals all help get me in a great mood to approach the day.  That is ultimately what it's all about, I think. I'm set up pretty well for the day once I've completed my little set of fun rituals.  I'll admit, the affirming and visualizing is bogging me down a little.  But for now, I'm sticking with those- I can handle 3 minutes of just about anything!

So, you might try it.  You don't have to get up super early.  You can customize it however you feel it best suits you (once you roll through it the suggested way first a few times). If you want, you could even just spend a 5 minutes on each ritual, and get it all done in 30 minutes if you don't feel like you can get up an extra hour earlier. If you do try it, or if you're already in fact doing some version of it, please tell about it in the comment section below.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

in training

Ever since returning from the songwriting workshop I attended in Nashville a few weeks ago, I've shied away from writing about it.

Maybe it feels too precious, and I don't want to mess it up with words.

But words are kind of my thing.  Stringing them together on a blog post, or in a song especially, is my favorite thing to do.

A blank canvas, so to speak, can feel a little intimidating when you really want to capture something that feels so important.  But once you make a few marks, and start digging in, you start to feel less afraid.  That first step tho...  Ug.

The workshop.

With Jonatha Brooke!  And Mike Reid! And Emily Saliers! Getting to hear Keb Mo! And Christopher Cross! It was almost too much for only 3 days.  There wasn't one single minute I was bored.  And I tend to have a very short attention span, so that's saying a lot.

Inspiring- for sure.
Not just being around the above mentioned artists.
But getting to talk about songwriting for 3 days straight, after having put it on the back burner in my life for the last several years.
And opportunities to step outside my box!-my little box that has gotten smaller and smaller lately.
Being in a new place, around new people...
All that. And more.

The day after I got back, my sister happened to be in town, and we met up so I could to tell her all about it.  She was the perfect person to tell.  Just talking about it made me cry, and I wasn't even sure why.  But she told me, and I think she was right, it was just emotions bubbling up.  Right up to the surface.  As I was talking to her, all that emotion was really getting in the way.  When I cry, my voice locks up.  And although I wanted to express myself, I couldn't.  And like most people do when they are crying, I kept apologizing.

I wasn't crying because I was sad.  Or even because I was happy. I was just full of emotion in the retelling of the meaningfulness of that weekend in Nashville that I SO needed.

I'll be writing more (and more) here.  My writing muscles (blog and songwriting) have gotten a little out of shape due to lack of use.  But I'm currently in training... Please, please stay tuned.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Music Monday: BOY Seven Little Numbers

I am obsessed-- OBSESSED with this CD that was released in 2013- Boy's "Mutual Friends".  I have worn the whole thing out, but yet I never tire of it.  The more I listen, the more I love it.

The songs are hooky, I love the singer's voice, and the production is just how I like it.  There's a couple of bonus tracks, which are actually acoustic versions of two of the tracks- They are my absolute favorites!

Over the weekend, I was Googling around, trying to figure out when BOY is going to release more music, and praying that it's soon...

Well the exciting news is, yes! They have a second batch of songs available thru both iTunes and Amazon.  The bad news is that it's only available if you're in Switzerland, Austria, or Germany.  I didn't even realize there's different stores for US and Europe.  Big stupid bummer.

Maybe in a few months, it will be available here.

But fortunately, in the meantime, I just learned they have a whole acoustic CD full of the songs from "Mutual Friends", plus a few others I'm not yet (yet!) familiar with.  I just downloaded it, and bought a hard copy as well.  Amazon offers it all for one price of only $7.99.

Here's one of my favorites- The acoustic version of "7 Little Numbers"- you might be familiar with their studio version of this song- It got a little airplay on a few stations.  Happy Music Monday.