Friday, December 30, 2016

The (Ultimate) Blog Challenge

Somewhere and somehow, I heard about this blog challenge a couple of weeks ago.  And a love a good challenge so...

I know very little about why this is considered the ultimate blog challenge.  But from the looks of this little sheet I printed off to keep track of my progress, it looks do-able, while still challenging.  Basically, during the month of January, I am to post a new blog every single day.

That's a lot. But it's not so overwhelming that it sounds out of the realm of possibility.

I've written 50 songs in 90 days several times through another challenge, which wasn't even labeled ultimate.  So I feel like I got this.  There's no reason I can't, and so, there's no reason not to do it.

What I know for sure, is that if you don't practice something regularly, you start to get rusty.  And fortunately, the opposite is true as well: If you practice something regularly, you will get better at it. I will get better.

Do I have enough interesting things to say over the course of 31 days straight?  To be honest, probably not.  But this will help me "re-discover" my writing voice, as I'm a little out of practice these days.

And what better time of the year to re-establish an important habit?

So here goes.  Starting January 1. A new post for this blog every single day.  31 days straight.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Today would be Mom's 81st birthday.  I so wish she was here to celebrate that...

Every year, since she has been gone, I allow myself total indulgence on this day- I'm always lazy, I usually go to the movies, and sometimes, someone I love tags along with me for at least part of the day.  I keep Mom in mind the whole day.  I'm kind to myself.  And each year, it's gotten easier.

Oddly, this year, I have a sort of busy day- and it's completely different than the others have been.

I have to go back in for a mammogram (and yes, I chose this day because I know I will have an angel watching over me). Later in the afternoon, I'm going to a friend's graduation from chef school. Then, later this evening, I have a neighborhood Christmas party to go to.  Other than the mammo, all of it sounds fun for sure, but it's not by any means, my usual day of self love and care, designed to keep me from wallowing in the sadness of missing Mom.

And that all makes sense to me.  Because I don't worry that I will wallow in my sadness of missing her anymore.  Although of course I wish she was here- of COURSE I do, every. single. day!, I'm not sad.  The days of meltdowns seem to be gone.  That doesn't mean I don't tear up and sometimes cry when I'm having a moment I know she would love, or whatever, but I am very much at peace with how life has moved on.

And life does move on.  Thank God.

I remember, shortly after she died, when the rest of the world seemed to be "going on" before I was ready, and I felt like I needed the world to just stop... or at least slow way down. But it's the human condition to recover, and find joy in life again. And I have.

Having loved Mom so much and having counted on her being around far longer than she actually was, has hard and great lesson that no one, no matter how much we love them, will be around forever.  And although that sucks, it also is a good way of keeping in touch with enjoying whoever and whatever is in the present moment.
Mom never seems too far away from me.  Even still.  I feel like I can have conversations with her in my head when I need to, because I knew her so well and was so connected to her, that I pretty much know what she would say.

Today, she's be saying, "Good for you for getting that mammogram!", and she'd be telling me to go off and have fun with my friends later in the day.  And I totally will!  Cheers to you, MOM!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Choosing New Books

For many years, I've loved reading suspense/thrillers.  I like that genre of movies, too.

I think that genre of books, has really grown in the last several years.  Probably due to the popularity of books like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. Amazon gets me nearly every time with their claims of some new book being "the next Gone Girl!" But, Gone Girl's been done.  And the magic of it was in it's fresh twist no one was expecting. But now, we all are just waiting for the twist. So really, there is no next Gone Girl anyway.

The other day I was reading a book a couple of friends had both told me was really good and creepy.  Used to, this was totally my thing: good and creepy. But as I was reading it, I felt like the author had just put some scenes in there for shock value.  It had torture scenes that were just vile and... gross. (And honestly, should probably come with a warning label on the cover of the book!)

Prior to starting this creepy book, I had just finished reading a book that was so beautiful and deeply moving that it made me cry.  In a good way. (I can't yet reveal the title, as I'm giving it to quite a few friends for Christmas--) Due to that stark contrast between the two books, this creepy one was just not doing it for me. 

However, I did have an epiphany.

Words are powerful.
Books are full of words and imagery, and I spend many hours each week with my nose in them.
I'm pretty sure all that stuff is absorbed into my general outlook and mood of the world.
Filling my head with the murder and torture, even if it's thrilling, and even if it's fiction, can't possibly be a good thing.

There is enough negative things in the world.  Why should I be piling on even more of that through the choices I make in what I read?

So although I finished reading that book, I said to myself- no more.
At least not for a while.  And most definitely not as much of it.

So adding to my #goals list for 2017:
Read more books that fill me with good thoughts, less murder and suspense.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Creative Pursuits for 2017

There's is still a lot to do before we wrap up 2016.  But I'm trying to think ahead a little, and get myself excited about the new year to come. Because, it's coming! In previous years, I haven't set resolutions or goals for the new year, because I don't really give myself time to thoughtfully come up with anything all that meaningful.  But this year, I'm on it! And I think it just might make a difference in how I approach things. This year, I'm not necessarily making "New Year's Resolutions", but instead, I have some creative pursuits I intend to roll out for 2017.

Here are the main ones, that feel are the most vital, important, and fun:
1. Record 10 songs. Maybe new ones, maybe some I've already written, just never recorded. I've got a home studio so really, why aren't I using it?  I'm not saying I'm making a CD.  I just recording a batch of 10 songs. Even if I'm the only person that ever hears them. No pressure.  Just a creative outlet for myself and for FUN.

2.Make up a dance routine for Lucy and me and video tape it.  I watch those dog dancing videos whenever they pop up, and always want to do my own.  And I know Lucy can pull it off.  She already knows some of those dog dance moves I've seen in videos.  She LOVES learning and practicing tricks.  And we're both dancers at heart.  So why the heck not!?  Again, no pressure.  Just for FUN.  I'm pretty sure Ricky will be happy to just lay on the couch and watch from the sidelines, but who knows...If he wants to be in on it, we can make it happen!

3.Launch my podcast already.  I've been dreaming, scheming and saying "I want to start a podcast" for well over a year now, but I've not done it yet.  I think I'm just scared of investing a lot of time and energy in the output, and then not finding an audience for it.  But again: why not just do it for my own creative outlet and FUN? The people who need and want to hear it... WILL.

This next one may not necessarily be a "creative pursuit",but it is a pursuit none the less.  And it feels very important to me, so I had to include it as the "grande finale" of my list today.

4.Move to Colorado.  Or as Fermin likes to say, "Find a home in Colorado."  So let's just compromise it for now and say: Find a house in Colorado to live in at least 6 months out of the year.  I've lived in Dallas my entire life, but have always yearned to try something different.  And the mountains are it for me. So, Colorado- here we come!

More on all of these goals as they progress.  But the universe needs to hear my plans.  So I wanted to say them here.

2017 is sounding pretty amazing already!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Music Monday- James Morrison "Right Here"

I've been a fan of James Morrison since I heard him sing backup on some Jason Mraz song that I actually can't even remember right now.  The minute I heard that voice of his- soulful and scratchy- I bought his CD that was out at the time. It was his first. And I loved it.  I covered a few of his songs and threw them onto my own set list at the time.

Then his next CD came out.  And again~ bought it and loved it.

And just the other day I thought of him, although I hadn't listened to his music in a while.  I was in my car- which doesn't even have a CD player- so I looked him up on Apple Music.  Somehow, he had a CD in 2015 that blew right past me.  So... obviously, immediate download.

Luckily, it's the "bonus" edition of the CD so there are 15 songs on this batch.  And it may be his best yet. There's a good range of tempo and styles within these 15 songs.  I like all of them, but songs 4,5 and 6 hit the sweet spot for me.  I don't remember the titles, but that's the track order.  This is the 4th song, and it's called "I'm Still Here".

The lyrics come so fast on this one, so I was pretty happy just now when I looked it up on YouTube for Music Monday... Although there isn't a official video of this song, there is a lyrical one so it's a sing a long!  And that will help me (and you) learn the words a whole lot faster.

Happy Music Monday.  Get ready to dig into a great song.  The whole CD is impressive.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Joys of Snail Mail

Yesterday I got a little unexpected surprise in my mailbox.

My friend, Ann, who I have gotten reacquainted with over the last couple of years but had been my across the street neighbor growing up, sent me this:
I loved this for so many reasons.  First of all, I have always loved mail.  Even still to this day, I look forward to checking my mailbox daily.  It's usually just bills or junk mail.  It's so rarely just a note from a friend.  These days, we get emails-- mainly texts. Mail is such a thing of the past it seems. But every once in a while, something like this happens.  And it feels like so much more of an event than email or text ever could!

Also, I love that it was just a quick but sweet gesture, that showed me, someone thought of me. 

And lastly- VINTAGE JEWELRY- that in and of itself always, always makes me happy.

Snail mail.  It's a powerful thing. Let's bring it back into our lives a little!