My Fellow Fathers

For trying to set a good example knowing we’re full of imperfections

For keeping it simple in a world full of noise and complications

For the (sometimes awkward) words spoken with love and the words we wisely keep to ourselves

For all that you do, especially the little things that go unnoticed

Happy Day to You Dad
and All My Fellow Fathers


Intentionally keeping this short even though I felt tempted to write more. Hoping for “less but better” by respecting the things that can be expressed better with silence.

My Drug of Choice: Take a (Lyrical) Hit

 “Music is a safe kind of high.”
 — Jimi Hendrix

As a semi-retired DJ, I’ve always known the high that comes from the right music at the right time. Music really is like a powerful drug. It can take you back in time where a particular song anchors memories from the past. It has the power to transform ordinary moments into special events. And this affective influence can touch the heart, the mind as well as the body.

Some of my favorite songs not only make you feel good, they’re good for you. More than words, there is harmony between [lyrics with substance] and [melody that moves].

Here are some samples. No prescription needed.

Antidepressant or Stress Relief

“I, recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone, yeah
I, recommend walking around naked in your living room, yeah

Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles

You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn

I, recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone
I certainly do
I, recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Feel free”

Alanis Morissette, You Learn (2015 Remastered)


“I’ve been waiting on the sunset
Bills on my mindset
I can get deny they’re getting high
Higher than my income
Income’s breadcrumbs
I’ve been trying to survive

The glow that the sun gives
Right around sunset
Helps me realize
This is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine
Oh, you’ll turn out fine
Fine, oh, you’ll turn out fine

But you gotta keep your head up, oh
And you can let your hair down, eh
You gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh

I know it’s hard, know its hard
To remember sometimes,
But you gotta keep your head up, oh
And you can let your hair down, eh”

Andy Grammer, Keep Your Head Up

When You’re Not Feeling Like Your Self

“So basically all I need
Is to be everything but me
Colored contacts
Liposuction
And some implants
Somehow that don’t make much sense
I must be out of my head
If I think, that I am governed by material things.

So I decided I’m
The definition of fly
And if you want to know why
I know what money can’t buy
Don’t go believing the hype
There’s no runway in the sky
And no way you could be fly
Not if it costs you a dime.”

 — Elle Varner, So Fly

For Acute Laryngitis from Introversion

“You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave”

Sara Bareilles, Brave

Cure for Creative Blocks

“Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten”

Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten

Love Potion

“Now better men, than me have failed
Drinking from that unholy grail
(Now check it out)
I’ve got her, and she got me
And you’ve got that butt, but I kindly gotta be like
Oh baby, no baby, you got me all wrong baby
My baby’s already got all of my love

So nah nah Honey, I’m good
I could have another but I probably should not
I’ve got somebody at home, and if I stay I might not leave alone
No, honey, I’m good
I could have another but I probably should not
I’ve got to bid you adieu
To another I will stay true
(oo oo I will stay true)
(who who I will stay true)

Oh, I’m sure ya, sure ya will make somebody’s night
But oh, I assure ya assure ya, it sure as hell’s not mine”

Andy Grammer, Honey, I’m Good.

Remedy for Homesickness

“Young mom on her own
She needs a little help got nowhere to go
She’s lookin’ for a job, lookin’ for a way out
’Cause a half-way house will never be a home
At night she whispers to her baby girl
Someday we’ll find a place here in this world

This is our temporary home
It’s not where we belong
Windows in rooms that we’re passin’ through
This is just a stop, on the way to where we’re going
I’m not afraid because I know this is our
Temporary Home.”

Carrie Underwood, Temporary Home


“I know sometimes you’re feeling lost
It’s hard to find your place in it all
But you don’t have to fear
Even when you mess up
You always got my love
I’m always right here
Oh, cause

Anything
Come what may
Don’t look back forget yesterday
Forget yesterday

It’s not where you come from
It’s where you belong
Nothin’ I would trade
I wouldn’t have it any other way
You’re surrounded
By love and you’re wanted
So never feel alone
You are home with me
Right where you belong

Don’t matter where you’ve been
You’re here for a reason”

— Kari Kimmel, Where You Belong


“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
— Billy Joel

Mixing and Sharing Medication

Even if you’re already feeling pretty good, music can amplify that. When I DJ, the desired effect is to mix music that lifts your spirits and makes you move. When I’m in the zone, I can alter your frame of mind, enhance your mood and get you dancing instinctively. The right songs act as a catalyst. As everything comes together just right, we share the high. The act of sharing the experience — grooving and dancing together — can bridge differences between time and space, language and culture.

JT sums up the feeling quite nicely…

“I got this feeling, inside my bones
It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops, ooh
I can’t take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
Room on lock the way we rock it, so don’t stop…

I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance, come on

Ooh, it’s something magical
It’s in the air, it’s in my blood, it’s rushing on
Don’t need no reason, don’t need control
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I’m in my zone”

 — Justin Timberlake, Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Now that you’ve had some samples, here’s your prescription:

Assess your mood, pick a theme and create a soundtrack. You may even share your playlist on Spotify. (There are links to my playlists at the end.) For whatever ails you…cue up your playlist. Plug in. Take a lyrical hit (or two). And call me in the morning.


Overdose

Playlists:

DJ ReCreator Mixes — Friday Flashback Series

What’s your lyric?

You have undoubtedly been inspired by a piece of music either because of the lyrics or the melodic composition. I’m always looking to take another hit and add it to my playlist. Please share in the comments section.

A Different Journey to Where You Want to Go

Along The Way Step by Step

When I was much younger, I had many lofty goals. Each one was accompanied by dreams about what life would be like if that goal were accomplished. Sometimes I would get sucked in by people who claimed to have a shortcut. No regrets though. I learned to fail quickly and to move on, learning what didn’t work. There are smarter ways than trial and error, and I’m sure some people actually do get lucky, but rarely have I seen anything meaningful happen overnight, even when it appears that way.

I’ve adjusted my expectations accordingly. For example, I’ve always wanted to become a writer and publish a book. I used to think it would happen after some whirlwind of inspiration poured over blank pages while I retreated to some remote cabin by a lake. Now, instead of hoping to be a published author with my first book becoming an instant bestseller, I just write a little every day. Baby steps. I don’t even write with a book as the final product in mind. I write just to write, and to use my words to document experiences and thoughts that inspire me. One day, I shifted from private morning pages to public blog posts. That was scary for me. Then I took a chance and submitted an article for consideration on LinkedIn Pulse. (I was scared to hit submit and my mouse hovered over the button for what seemed like forever.) As I read and re-read that first draft submitted, I was embarrassed to think that anyone could now actually read my raw writing. I continued to edit, tweak and refine until I couldn’t think of anything else to improve. Then I walked away knowing I put forth my best. It was good enough to know that I did it despite being scared. (It did get featured by the way. Beginner’s luck.)

Not sure what the next steps will be. I’ll take it one step at a time, one article at a time. I’ll continue to learn what I can from each step. Confidence builds with each stride and it feels good. Regardless of whether or not I eventually author and publish a book, I’m having fun learning from doing.

“A day at a time, a page a time, my daily three pages have unknotted career, life, and love. They’ve shown me a path where there was no path, and I follow it now, trusting that if I do, the path will continue.”

— Julia Cameron regarding Morning Pages in her book Walking Around the World

Kaizen

In the business world, I learned about the concept of kaizen— continuous improvement. Translated from Japanese and in general terms, it simply means change for the better. The aspect of ‘continuous’ is important to me though. It aligns with my step by step approach. And I think smaller steps might actually be more effective in the long run.

I like how James Altucher describes his daily practice and his balanced way of striving to be just 1% better each day. The idea of taking larger goals and breaking them down into very bite-size chunks has resonated with me.

Putting this approach into practice has transformed my loftier goals from daunting to do-able. As one Chinese Proverb puts it, “To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.” Taking smaller steps not only helps you get started but also helps you keep going.

The Benefits of Breaking It Down

  1. easier to get started
  2. less stressful and no longer overwhelming
  3. flexible by design
  4. encouraging to make progress even gradually
  5. more focus on the present than the future

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain

Breaking Things Down by Context

Whether it’s getting in shape, starting a new job, or learning any new skill, I break it down and find that I accomplish a lot more in a lot less time than I expected.

  • step by step
  • brick by brick
  • line by line
  • layer by layer
  • repetition by rep
  • one task at a time
  • one lesson at a time
  • one breath at a time
  • one day at a time

The Process

Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.
– William Shakespeare

Success, achievement and accomplishment are all great things, but the pleasure is usually short-lived. There’s something more lasting about the time and effort spent getting there. Perhaps there’s magic in the anticipation as you work. (Or maybe because you get a natural hit of dopamine with every step you take towards your goals. So I’ve read.) I agree with Gary Keller who—in his bestseller The One Thing—says, “Happiness happens on the way to fulfillment.”

“…when you can see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable. Most assume mastery is an end result, but at its core, mastery is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience.”
—  Gary Keller, The One Thing

Over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the journey more than the destination. I find joy in the process towards something. No need to wait until you get there. It’s just as important to enjoy the experience along the way. What takes away from that enjoyment is the temptation to hurry up and arrive already. While I strive for better, I remind myself to be thankful for what I’ve already accomplished and the good fortune I already have.


Supplemental Notes:

Read the chapter on “Effort Counts Twice” from Grit by Angela Duckworth and wanted to add some relevant quotes and notes.

“…the most dazzling human achievements are, in fact, the aggregate of countless individual elements, each of which is, in a sense, ordinary.”
Angela Duckworth

“Superlative performance is really a confluence of dozens of small skills or activities, each one learned or stumbled upon, which have been carefully drilled into habit and then are fitted together in a synthesized whole. There is nothing extraordinary or superhuman in any one of those actions; only the fact that they are done consistently and correctly, and all together produce excellence.”
Dan Chambliss

“So what is the reality of greatness? Nietzsche came to the same conclusion Dan Chambliss did. Great things are accomplished by those ‘people whose thinking is active in one direction, who employ everything as material, who always zealously observe their own inner life and that of others, who perceive everywhere models and incentives, who never tire of combining together the means available to them.”
Angela Duckworth

Writing Revisited

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve read that when it comes to writing, it’s important to write even when you’re not inspired. To write even when you think there’s nothing noteworthy. To just “show up.”  I haven’t done that consistently for the past month or so, at least not publicly. Although not everyday, I’ve been writing my morning pages more often. This is done in the Journey app and is my private journal. (If you’re interested in keeping a journal, I highly recommend this app.)

I’ve been focused on other things so I don’t regret taking a break from my public posts. After a couple months of regular posting, I started to feel like I was forcing topics and spending too much time in front of the keyboard. To regain some balance, I intentionally walked away from it to spend more time with the family for a while. Now I’m feeling the itch again. This time I’m going to adjust my approach a bit based on things I’ve picked up during my first dive into blogging.

Here are some things I’ve observed about my approach and what I think could be areas of improvement…

  • Even if I don’t publish a post regularly, it’s important to write my morning pages every day. Morning pages don’t need to be polished. They don’t even need to be coherent. Since the journal is for me to unload and clarify my thoughts, it serves that purpose well without having to take too much time. To improve, I’d like to shoot for one public post every couple of weeks on average, and to write my morning pages every day.
  • The stats behind each post can be addicting. I tend to be overly concerned with the numbers and the outcomes rather than just enjoying the process. This seems to corrupt my creative spirit as I become overly concerned with what others might think. While the statistics and analytics provide some useful insights, scheduling a weekly or monthly analysis would probably be enough.
  • While it seems to be a good practice to re-post the same article across multiple channels, it’s become obvious that some topics are just better left where it better fits the audience. At the very least, it’s important not to copy and paste. I’ve found that making adjustments to the intro or context, depending on the audience, sets up the same article to be better received. Similar to public speaking, it’s critical to speak to the interests of the specific audience. No matter how universal I think the topic may be, I still need to frame it a little differently from channel to channel.
  • Blogging is more fun as a conversation. I used to write like a monologue. If anyone commented, the most I would do is “like” their comment. After taking time to actually respond thoughtfully to each comment, the entire experience has become a lot more rewarding.
  • I write best in the early morning when everyone in the house is still sleeping. There are very few distractions and my mind is still fresh. It also helps when I get enough sleep (for me, that means 7-8 hours) and when I read a good book before bed the night before. The challenge for me has been to consistently sleep enough. When I’m trying to write on 6 or less hours of sleep, the right flow just isn’t there.

I will adjust my approach moving forward to validate or disprove any of these initial observations and thoughts.