Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Because You Never Know

I hope this Tuesday finds you well. Here in snowy, cold Indiana, life is good.

I was thinking in my sleep last night (I tend to get most of my deep thinking done then, Ha) and just reinforced my ideas that I've been having. I've had a sort of epiphany at the 30 year mile marker in my life. I realized that it's now or never on certain goals, not that I don't have time left in my life, because that's not the case at all. I just realized that if I want to make an impact or reach a certain level, I need to really focus now. I want to be the best that I can be at my goals. My caveat: I know that perfection is the enemy of good, so I am keeping that close at hand as well. I just want to attain the level that I know I'm capable of.

What do I want to attain? Well, in pretty much all aspects of my life I want to be the best that I can be. Music and writing being my main focus, but keeping my career at center as well is important. I want to continue to grow as a person and develop as a person. That will come as I throw myself in to new challenges and situations. I firmly believe that the only way anyone can grow is to meet adversity, or at least a challenge of some sort, and then overcome it. It's certainly not always easy, but the general stuff in life isn't always easy either. I like this quote from the singer Bono of the band U2, "I'm tired of dreaming. I'm into doing at the moment. It's, like, let's only have goals that we can go after."

Man, I can agree with that statement. It's so important to dream. It's important to have lofty goals that are hard to attain, because it stretches us as intellectual people. This is what makes us differ from all the other animals on the planet. We are intellectual and think deeply. We need to be stretched from time to time. That's the only way we change and grow. Have you ever met anyone that has the same, boring, non-fulfilling job and doesn't step outside of that life ever? How is their personality? Do they inspire you? Now, don't get me wrong, if this is you or someone you know, I'm not criticizing. I simply challenge you to rise above the status quo and find a line in the sand that is hard to cross. Then go after it! Find that long lost goal and make it a priority.

I've been to some motivational seminars in my life because of my sales background in the Real Estate business, and while sometimes very cheesy or sale-sy (not a word, but I'm making it one), there are some good points that I've picked up. The main one that really sticks with me is that in order for us to make a goal real, we need to write it down and make it real. Write down all that you want to accomplish in the next 12 months, in the next 2 years, in the next 5 years. Then, take a course of action to make those goals happen in that time. Put yourself in a position where it's practical for those goals to happen. They will if you apply your time and energy in earnest. That's not to say that goals are always easy, that's why they are goals. But, how do you feel when you meet large life goals? It's a great feeling!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Thankful

I've taken a bit of a break from posting lately, but wanted to share my thoughts on the situation in Haiti while I've got a sounding board.

First off, I'm very thankful that I am where I am right now. Don't get me wrong, I love Caribbean countries and I'm fascinated with Central America, The Caribbean, and South America, so Haiti would be some place that I would travel to, if I could do so safely. That's remains in question naturally, but right now especially, safety would be questionable.

I feel as if the country has big enough problems that this became a "straw that broke the camels back" sort of scenario. Haiti has really steered clear of UN help recently and is obviously in need of it. There are many reasons why Haiti is struggling economically as of late, but here's a bit of a window in to why and how Haiti got to be so poor. There seems to be a common them of imperialism that pops it head throughout Haiti's history, and then abandonment after. Those two things have worked in other countries, but there is a bad cocktail of combinations that occurred in Haiti.

Slave labor created a great productivity during the French Colonial period. This left a lasting population of freed slaves that were uneducated, unemployed, and socially inept after the French backed out of Haiti. That's a powerful combination when you consider the social and economic implications. Combine that with the incredible amount of debt that Haiti incurred with their desire to be recognized by Europe on an governmental level. This debt plagued the Haitian government for almost 100 years. Imagine the amount of interest that they payed the French government to do so.

Then you come upon the U.S occupation of Haiti, which adequately did it's part to create the downward spiral that we're now seeing in Haiti. Guilt may play a big part in our agenda with regards to aid relief and assistance during these major earthquakes that rocked Haiti as well.
The US Marines took over the banks, revenues, government servants, and created a new constitution for Haiti in 1915. The Haitians have never really recovered from the creation of aid relief and the governmental influence from US backed governments. This has been a pretty lethal cocktail.

Then we have something similar to what's going on in Jamaica. Exporting food crops instead of relying on their own resources and planting techniques. This has caused prices to increase as the fuel costs and transportation costs rise with importing/exporting. Couple that with low income wages and you get a pretty disastrous scenario as well.

So, why am I thankful? I'm thankful because I've been fortunate to be born in to the US economy and be well educated. With that, I've not been stuck or without options in my life. For that, I'm very thankful. I do feel great empathy for the people of Haiti. I hope and pray that things stabilize and life gets back to some sort of normalcy for them. God willing, it will.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finding Balance

What is it about the work/play struggle that seems to get us tangled up? It seems like I get on a roll where I have a good work/play balance and everything is right with the world. At other times, one side of the pendulum is weighed heavily (my play refers to all my hobbies and free time expressions). For example, I can get absorbed in work for a couple weeks at a time and somehow lose a bit of focus on the passions that are so important to me. I don't ever lose sight of the passions completely, it's just that sometimes I devote a lot of time and other times, it's average.

So, this leads me to my question. How do we find this delicate balance? At what point do we realize our sweet spot with these things? As humans, we are prone to error and mistakes happen. We learn from them and move on. It seems like balance is one of those things that seems to constantly challenge us though. I am happy with my life, don't get me wrong. I am extremely grateful for what I have and what I've been given. It's the fine tuning aspect of life that I'm after. I like to fine tune all things in my life and this is just another facet.

Learning: I'm beginning to understand some things about myself and ways to keep myself in check. If I write myself daily notes to remind myself what to do and how to allocate my time, it helps. I don't like daily planners (to each their own, if they work for you, great!) because I can't seem to force myself to write everything down. I like to keep some of it in my head, otherwise I drive myself crazy trying to accomplish absolutely everything that I write down. That's not good either. Perfection is the enemy of good. Although I always strive for very lofty goals, knowing that good is enough helps me.

What works for you? How do you find balance?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowed In

Happy Thursday to everyone!

Indiana is being blanketed by snow as we speak. To the tune of 4 or 5 inches and I can't help but think about warmer weather and beaches elsewhere. :-) The snow is beautiful and looks very nice outside, but the reality of it is that it's exceptionally cold.

So, with the abundance of snow, I've decided to work from home today to avoid the drivers in Indianapolis that don't necessarily practice rational driving methods when winter weather bears down. I have 4 wheel drive, but that doesn't save me from bad drivers. Ok, enough ranting.

What to do? Well, I'm working first and foremost, but in my free time I'm writing (i.e. here) and playing some music. I've mentioned in previous posts that I've been working on jazz guitar skills and I plan on doing some more of that today. I recently got Band in a Box so I can practice full band arrangements by myself with my laptop. It's wonderful and I can program exactly the way I want. Technology is wonderful!

So, while some of you are cozy and warm in your home, I'm right there with you. Some of you may live in warmer climates and for that, I'm a tad jealous. What do you do on snow days (or just off days if you live in a warm place)?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Challenging Status Quo

Ruts happen and life can sometimes get stagnant. It's easy to do and for a lot of people, it takes a New Years Resolution to break away from it. I have some resolutions that I've made for myself and I truly plan to meet or beat them. Mine aren't the lose weight or stop this or that resolutions. Well, not true. I want to try to work less hours, but that's an over time goal. Mine involves music and my goals with music.

For too long, I've been side lining my music aspirations and that's no more. I'm going full force with the blues band, continuing to learn jazz guitar and mandolin (I want to be very proficient with jazz guitar; to the point of playing some jazz gigs), and generally just making the move toward playing music as a part time job. Every inspirational book I read says that I should get paid to do what I love. That's music. I like to do other things as well (like write, paint, run, hike, kayak, cycle, travel), but my true love is music.

I feel that setting realistic, but challenging goals is a great way for me to feel like I'm progressing and meeting my expectations. I have loved jazz for a long time and have been playing it in some capacity for a while now. I really want to be a "pro" at it though. Being a hack is no longer acceptable to me. I'm tired of being at a level that I feel confined by. Learning many more scales and techniques will put me out of my comfort level and make me better. Period. I am still excited about this too, and I've been at it for a few weeks now.

What is it that you can do to challenge your status quo? How can you grow with your hobby or passion? Do it!!! You'll not regret it, I promise.