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Cock-A-Doodle-Do! A Productive Morning Has Broken!

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Early Bird or Night Owl.

To which camp do you belong?

Are you reading this at 6 a.m. or midnight?

My Mom was a night owl, her RedBull energy kicked into gear at around 11 p.m. That’s Snoresville for me.

Welcome to this Hemingway’istic short post (goal: fewer than 500 words) about productivity and time of day.

Honestly, I love to get sh*t done… my TO-DO list is really a “I-GET-TO-DO-LIST” (IGTDL)...

… it’s like my daily mantra and goody bag blended into a kid’s bouncy castle.

Since my earliest days in then-tiny Stoney Creek, Ontario (yes, I was born in Stoney Creek but grew up in Hamilton without ever changing addresses), my IGTDL list has always been front-loaded…

… that is, if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen in the dawn’ish early hours of any day… writing, garden or construction projects, exercise, food prep, bowel movements, reading, bowel movements and reading combined… my eyes are at their energetically-widest aperture in bright a.m. sunshine. Holy Cock-a-doodle-do!

I have to remember that I’m fortunate to rise and enjoy a productive day with good health and financial stability, and a 2nd vaccine prick hopefully floating its microscopic immune magic in my veins.

Waiting for a brilliant burst of energy or some mind-blowing idea?

Hell no. Forget it… real life means real effort, something I should have learned before my first day of kindergarten instead of “why I shouldn’t trip little girls intentionally as a flirty and surefire pick-up approach“.

Productivity may be in the eye of the beholder, but my keenest observation over many years is that productive inspiration (like learning) is a verb and not a noun…. getting things done is best summed up by NIKE… JUST DO IT! Take a nibble and soon the whole muffin is gone…

At the beginning here, I waxed enthusiastically about my early-morning productivity rule… but now I’ll slam into reverse a wee bit because there’s an exception… yup, there’s ALWAYS an exception…

… like any language we learn, there are exceptions to rules, and productivity in my world is no exception to the exception rule *please stop saying exception Larry*…

Music, whether playing or writing is that exception.

Music as a creative force is a nighttime, darkness dweller. For unknown reasons, the Muses fear the daylight hours, and deeper emotions are best accessed in the quiet stillness of night.

OK, I mentioned real effort, and now I’ll leave you with one more wee golden nugget of Larry Wisdom… it’s a one-word mantra we should all adopt – FOCUS … multi-tasking effectively is a myth.

If you want something done, if you wish to accomplish something truly worthwhile, something important… drill in and do it… with singleminded focus… with focus comes flow…

OR … you could simply pass your numbered days sipping a glass of scotch on the ship of La Vida Suave.

That’s it…

WHEW! 493 Words (sure, I’ll wait while you count)… thanks Mr. Hemingway.

Now, what’s next on your IGTDL?

Checking Your NAVEL in COVID Times…

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navel gazing

I’m cycling… no, not on my bike, although I have been doing a fair bit of that lately too!

Nope, it’s my focus that’s cycling. Up, up, up … and then a little down…

Remember St. Patrick’s Day almost 5 months ago?

I do. And not only for the 6 glasses of green beer I quaffed (which truly I CAN’T remember).

On March 17, my wife and I were volunteering at our local Trout Creek Elementary School, popping dishes into the small kitchen’s dishwasher after the once weekly school lunch.

Hot dogs and fruit smoothies, it was an easy clean-up. Fun.

You wouldn’t want to see the mess made when the lunch menu had the angel-faced Kindergarten to Grade 5 kids getting mixed up with spaghetti and its mucky blood-red sauce and Parmesan cheese. Those are Freddie Kruger movie days.

On March 17, we could see dark, infectious clouds forming. Change – like virus particles – was in the air.

Things were beginning to grow more intense on the Coronavirus front and speculation was growing about what might happen after the upcoming 2 week Spring Break.

We were in the very early stages of not hugging or shaking hands with others. When we said goodbye to anyone, it was happening awkwardly at a distance with an embarrassed, somewhat bemused “what the hell are we doing?” look on our faces.

not shaking hands

The school Principal’s voice erupted over the loudspeakers, “We hope we’ll see you all in 2 weeks kids, but it could be longer. Stay safe.”

Nailed that one.

On March 17, face masks were something worn for sterility purposes by medical personnel in hospitals and by a few East Asians concerned about “germs” in general.

It felt like the door was opening to a Twilight Zone episode written years ago by Don McLean who penned the song “American Pie” and the iconic words, the day the music died.

  • I stopped washing school dishes on March 17, 2020.
  • I stopped actively investing on March 17.
  • I stopped chopping vegetables at the soup kitchen on March 17.
  • I stopped visiting the college to tutor a young man in nearby Penticton on March 17.
  • I stopped eating movie theatre popcorn on March 17.
  • I stopped eating in restaurants on March 17.
  • I stopped shipping wine from my little “retirement” job on March 17.
  • I stopped using my own reusable bags at the supermarket on March 17.
  • I stopped waiting for my Hamilton Tiger Cat football team to fire up training camp after March 17.
  • I stopped visiting and playing music at Open Mics on March 17.
  • I stopped babysitting my energetic grandson one day a week on March 17.
  • I stopped attending boot camp, yoga classes, and the swimming pool on March 17.

Noticing a trend? Does it sound exactly like your life except for the specifics?

Anything and everything tilted on March 17.

world tilted

The precise date might be slightly different in your world but otherwise… sameness. Everywhere in the world. India, Peru, Egypt, France, Australia… all the same.

Normal became… disinfectant flowing like flood waters… masks more widespread than at Halloween… line-ups outside of stores (those that were open)… health questionnaires and temperature checks… distancing “dots” on store floors. Dystopia days…

Yes, lots of things stopped on March 17th.

But… March 17 was also the day something fired up again … my focus.

On March 17, I found my “navel” and it was good.

I had been so involved in floating downstream when I really needed to paddle upstream against the current.

Songwriting. For some years I had been internally lamenting that I just couldn’t make myself focus on the arduous, but ultimately rewarding task of songwriting. I wanted to, I longed to… but a million other little things interjected time after time.

Yes, I found my focus.

The modern cycle of busyness was slowed by the virus and almost came to a stop. Routines changed. Rush and diversion backed away like sheep from ravenous wolves.

My mind and and body settled and relaxed. It was almost like full-time yoga.

This new-found focus had me adjusting my blog posts so that I wrote song lyrics every 3rd week.

I zeroed in on lyrics and melodies and harmonies and guitar licks as if I was back in my old laboratory job. I concentrated for hours in the way I used to sit in dark rooms searching for tiny, fluorescent Chlamydia antigens under the microscope (and never broke my oath of confidentiality on any of you!)

The near-stoppage of time because of this nasty virus cloud gave me permission to concentrate deeply, to focus.

Things were clicking and the work was paying off. I started and completed maybe 6 or 7 songs over these past 5 months. A groove, a muse, nestled in and it didn’t feel as hard as it had for many years. It was exhilarating.

And then… gradually in the last month or so… I sensed a creeping slippage.

Former “normals” were filtering back….

  • My little job of shipping wine fired up once more as wine sippage continued enthusiastically in homes, then restarted in reduced-seat restaurants.
  • Lineups dissipated and I toted my reusable bags to the grocery store again and paid the tab across a plexiglass shield.
  • I sweated profusely to Boot Camp videos on YouTube.
  • I (with my wife’s tutelage and patience) looked after my little grandson weekly.
  • Although my physical attendance at the college for tutoring stopped, my student and I have continued uninterrupted with online learning sessions.

Bit-by-little-bit, despite this novel virus not taking a holiday, most of us, myself included, have begun to take tentative steps back to the world of “before”.

And now, I only hope I haven’t fallen off my new cycle.

Sure, we’re not the same people we were before March 17. We don’t measure our days in the same way.

We’ve adapted, lamented, adjusted, fumed … and maybe, just maybe…

… we’ve re-discovered some tiny store of focus for one or two of the things we’ve been waiting to delve into for so long…  those navel gazing wonders that pump up our spirits and enthusiasm.

………………………………..

PS As a sign of my diminished focus, I have a backlog of song lyrics that still need their musical component to make it to the finish line.

Therefore… no song lyrics this week as has been my practice lately. But, on the positive side of things, I have been working away on my guitar “Travis picking”. Travis picking (named for Merle Travis) involves picking an underlying bass line on the lower guitar strings while simultaneously carving out a melody part on the higher strings. Below is a sampling of a song I recently recorded called Foxglove, written by guitar guru Bruce Cockburn in the 1970’s. Hope you enjoy.

My Island of Lost Focus

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educated

The bloody epic battle between knowledge, education and understanding vs Trump World idiocy and xenophobia will end soon.

I have to have hope.

Reading leads me to greater understanding. Reading takes concentration and focus.

Educated (Tara Westover) and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (Yuval Noah Harari).

These are the books I’m currently “reading”. They’re both excellent, somewhat disturbing books for our disturbing times. But ultimately they offer hope.

Hope is a human joy and strength.

Some people read a book or two each week. I’m lucky if I get through one per month (or 3 months).

I don’t read enough to truly satisfy my quest for greater understanding of humanity and I probably never will.

You see, I hope that if I read of someone else’s effort and expertise I can shorten the 10,000 hour requirement of getting weally good at something.

But I don’t seem capable of juggling my desire to participate in 10 activities simultaneously with any aplomb. Sad.

The clutter in my mind is a blessing and a curse. You too, right?

My daily to-do list starts as a focussed, “I’ll do these 3 things… well” affair that evolves into a list of a dozen items. It’s my pseudo-ADHD gene acting up.

Focus Lost.

Which brings me back to reading because reading demands focus and attention.

I just hate it when I’ve read a page of great writing only to discover that I’ve totally not absorbed a page of great writing. My mind has moved on to the next item(s) on my daily list. Squirrel!

Yup, Focus Lost.

Reading is only one example of My Island of Lost Focus.

Today I’m using you to help me focus on FOCUS.

So, what are 8 things I can do to re-establish focus in my daily world?

  1. Be ruthless in making a daily to-do list that doesn’t exceed 5 items. I’m sorry, but anything else will just have to wait (or be lost forever). Example from today’s list: 1. Write this blog post 2. Research and write up a list of potential investment choices for a friend who’s asked for my help 3. Write an e-mail of condolence to an old friend whose Mom died recently 4. Work on developing an introductory instrumental for a song my duet partner has written lyrics for 5. Investigate the purchase of an inexpensive used laptop for my Syrian student.
  2. Always do the most challenging point(s) early on in the day (before 11 am). Anything I do after the witching hour of 11 am or noon is just sheer gravy. Peak productivity for me happens for only a half dozen hours after my 5 am internal alarm rings. I admire those who have power surges in the evening, but when the sun sets, so does my kinetic energy.
  3. Take a short break every hour. Make a cup of tea or latte and then return to the task with a refreshed outlook.
  4. Or change tasks for the next hour, not all points need to be completed in one go so long as I come back to finish it the same day.

da vinci quote

 5. Be sure to share the important things that you want to do with your family and friends so that your feet are held to the fire. Motivation comes from the energy and input of the ones you admire and mirror. Remember you’re the average of all the people who surround you.


 6. Listen to some bright, peppy music to get the energy flowing back to its peak. Beach Boys, Eagles, even an old ’80’s song I listened to while run training by Wayne Gretzky’s former girlfriend Vikki Moss.

 7. Stay focussed on the bigger picture. A life can pass by so easily by doing only the tiny everyday items (laundry, vacuuming, washing the car) that obstruct our view of what we truly want to accomplish with our time. We’re all working in a world of limitless possibilities but we’re also in a world of limited time.

8. Finally, I must remember, like in Desiderata, Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself … And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

…………………….

Whew… that was a mere 8 Lessons for the 21st Century for me … OK … item #1 knocked off my to-do list (of course I got diverted while writing and have already completed numbers 4 and 5!).

Latte time, then it’s back to #2 and #3.

Oh, and thanks for keeping me from being a forlorn castaway on My Island of Lost Focus.

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I SHOULD Write A Thousand Words Today…

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1,000 words

… but I won’t this time because I’m ultra-focussed.

Totally narcissistic. Self-indulgent. Hungry.

Each day I write out a To-Do List. You too?

And then I fail…

Each day I remind myself that focussing on 2 or 3 items is the life-blood to making real headway on the things that are extra important to me, my writing and music… the creative existence.

Each day I listen to a new song on YouTube or Apple Music, seeking a theme song of inspiration for the day… then silently ponder the beauty outside my window, urging calmness like a quiet meditation into my sense of focus. OOOoooooommmmmm…

Each day I begin with this short list of the critical, the important, the passion-filled.

And here’s where I fail. Again and again. No motivational gurus like Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy have come to my rescue.

Despite my best intentions I look down at my sheet of paper squished in the narrow space beneath my computer keyboard and the edge of my desk… and realize that my shortlist of 2 or 3 items has mystically and maniacally expanded to 8 … 10 … even 15 items.

Where is my focus?

Sigh.

I’m a refugee inside my own world… an outcast from the creativity urgings that seek updrafts of warm air.

I look around at people like Stephen King or Paul Simon or Carole King, JK Rowling or Brian Wilson or Joni Mitchell, and marvel at the focus and drive that brought them to a God-kissed magnificence. I drool and desire like a 13 year-old boy with unlimited access to porn!

I lust after their nucleus of theme and priority.

1,000

1,000

Numbers. My blog posts have talked a lot about the power of 10,000 hours in practice…. or even 1,000 hours in practice and preparation.

And each week I write down about 1,000 words in this blog that I’ve been playing with for more than 6 years now. 340 blog posts.

It’s been the chronicler of me – to me – that I share with you because I think we all contribute pieces of ourselves to a common existence and inner understanding. And when I write I magically discover pieces of me that I never knew existed.

I read others’ writing to add to my work of understanding life and history and my place in it.

I hope that sharing my words with you may occasionally give you a tiny nugget of insight into your own motivations and understanding of who you are. Maybe even an occasional smile. Maybe.

Priority

I’ve added some shiny new features to my world since I “retired” 4 years ago. Bartending, tutoring, soup kitchen, grandparenting are all part of the cutting edge in my days. Music has always been there too but – like my new grandson – is growing and expanding and filling me with enthusiasm and excitement that refuses to be contained.

So as part of my journey going forward, I’m looking to carve a small slice of additional time and focus that can be re-allocated to this continually new and hopefully improving me.

OK… I know I’m me.

I suspect the numbers of items on my daily To-Do List may still end up as long, but going forward, I’ll slide a small portion of the hours I spend each week writing these posts over and spend some more quality time on a revised list of priorities.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Maybe I SHOULD write a thousand words today. BUT, 500 will just have to do.

Instead, I hear a super sexy tune in my head that needs to be captured before it gets lost in a whiteout featherstorm of lost time.

featherstorm.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXERCISE!…

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comes in lots of forms

… they all hurt until they feel great.

 

exercise.png

  • Writing this blog exercises my writing mind, pushing me to be as clear in my communication as possible.

I spend a good deal of time writing, rewriting, editing and re-editing these posts to make them as understandable and relevant as I can manage (you may think I fail terribly… oh well!).

It’s frustrating and sometimes hurts my head trying to finding new ideas and new approaches that fulfill my needs while also hopefully finding a message that occasionally intrigues you.

A satisfying payoff comes every 4 or 5 blog posts when I hit on a thought, maybe a metaphor or a way of thinking that sends a chill of thrill up my spine.

It’s like finding a hidden cinnamon bun in the freezer and no one is around to catch you eating it… 0 calories!!

  • Playing and practicing my guitar exercises a part of my brain that requires coordination and memory and nuance of tone, timing, and volume.

I rehearse and practice songs over and over, trying out different keys and styles of approach (is this better in country format, jazzy, or slow and soulful?).

Jackson Browne would sit at his piano practicing a song, or even just one line of a song for hours until he hit on just the right sound he wanted. I think the best musicians follow a similar pattern to Browne’s.

Tonight I’ll sing his song THESE DAYS at an Open Mic with my own interpretation that I’ve practiced over and over.

The hurt heals to delicious pleasure.

Jackson brown piano.jpg

  • Investing exercises another part of my brain.

It’s the numbers part, the analytical and decision-making areas that weigh and decipher and calculate risk vs reward.

There’s a large set of reality-based and psychological components that need assessment and a steady mindset to produce a High-5 satisfactory return on dollars invested.

The level-headedness required to persevere when bad stuff happens to good investments is challenging, but ultimately rewarding when good analysis turns into good returns.

  • Running and other physical activities like spin class, yoga, and boot camp exercise my body.

Physical exertion forces large volumes of oxygen-rich blood to the areas where it’s needed to perform and work hard.

I try to work myself hard for at least a small amount of time each day… sometimes as little as 20 minutes with high intensity stuff. Half marathon training can consume a 2 hour period for long runs in preparation for a race.

I don’t mind if my body screams and hurts a little. Sorry to disagree with the “experts”, but sometimes… a little pain does produce gains.

The best showers are the ones that rinse away a ton of salty sweat.

sweaty guy

Exercise of all kinds comes down to habit and focus. Yes?

Self- discipline. Yes?

We all know that exercise in all forms is important in our lives.

Wrong… MOST of us know.

Here’s what Donald Trump thinks about exercise.

In a book (Trump Revealed) by the Washington Post’s Mike Kranisch and Marc Fisher:

After college, after Trump mostly gave up his personal athletic interests, he came to view time spent playing sports as time wasted. Trump believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted. So he didn’t work out. When he learned that John O’Donnell, one of his top casino executives, was training for an Ironman triathlon, he admonished him, “You are going to die young because of this.”

And, like all things TRUMP, I disagree. Every reputable scientific study disagrees… but there I go off on an unfocused tangent. Bad Larry. Yes, I digress.

Exercise is about habit and focus and self-discipline. But we also know that exercise is usually hard, a challenge to body, mind and soul.

Sometimes to pocketbook. OUCH!

For me in my life the hardest exercise is the creative process.

creativity ocean

 

Being creative exercises my sub-conscious mind and my powers of observation and interpretation and Idea Sex.

I can procrastinate my life away when I become lazy and try to avoid the creative process that I both love and hate.

I love the end result. I hate the process that takes me there.

We went to see the movie DEADPOOL 2 this week. WTF, Another tangent?

It’s the kind of movie you either love or hate.

It’s the 21st century equivalent of those 80’s and 90’s movies like AIRPLANE! or NAKED GUN… a bit of silly slapstick, a bit of Monty Python, buckets of blood and comic “violence”, even a kiss of romance.

But OMG, its approach to the superhero genre is so irreverently abrasive and inventive and original and CREATIVE.

I am in awe of the thought process (plus the multi-millions of dollars spent in its production) and independent manner that led screenwriters down this path.

I must have had some exercise in watching the show because my laughter muscles hurt afterwards.

Laughter can be THE best exercise, right? Shower time!

deadpool 2.jpg

 

The FOCUS of My Love and Hate

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focus.jpg

OMG… could I be more distracted?

Don’t answer that. Of course I could.

I love this new world. I hate this new world.

I love… I hate… I love… I hate…

  • I love that I can learn about anything or nothing at all at the drop of a hat because I have access to almost every brilliant (or demented) mind that has breathed air on this earth.
  • I love that I can read every poetic line penned, listen to every musical song written, the original artist or a dozen cover versions…
  • I love that I can book a trip, buy a book, sell a stuffed moose, give away a cat, check my APPLE stock dividend payment, order a pizza, study screenwriting with Aaron Sorkin, download a detailed guitar tab for Please Come to Boston.
  • And yes, I love that I can see Hillary Clinton naked (those photos aren’t Photoshopped, are they?), if I feel my carnal desire arising.

… all from the very spot where I sit writing this blog post… in total comfort, with a steaming hot latte at my right elbow, Cali cat warmly schnoozing at my feet (I have a cat to give away if you’re interested! Sorry Cali…)

How many historic kings would have deliriously surrendered their castles for such indulgence?

  • I hate that I’m able to do all of the things above because it keeps me from working away for 1,000 or 10,000 hours on the stuff that’s key to my inner thrive, my need for productivity, my drive towards goals and desires. The internet well has no bottom, no end, it defines infinity in our everyday more vividly than contemplating the cosmos with a telescope. It’s a rogue thief that I don’t lock my doors against.
  • I hate that I struggle to finish reading a book… hell, I often struggle to finish a chapter in a book because my ADHD mind goes off like crazed fireworks in all directions and before I know it I’m scanning a web recipe for Penne alla Vodka or The World’s Best Chocolate Cake.

Throughout history, the world has been filled with artisans and specialists who dedicated their brief mortal lifetimes to mastering their craft, whether it was writing, or masonry, or ballet, basically any form of technical or creative endeavour that struck a chord.

Today this is hugely challenging.

And yes, we all know the answer why…

It takes a uniquely special and focused person to tune out the myriad distractions that fill us up with Facebook videos/messages and Instagram posts and e-mail memes, games and puzzles and “forwards” and “cc”s.

FOCUS is unsentimental and stern, like a nun with a ruler in her hand. FOCUS doesn’t care if you love her.

I want to write songs badly (but not BAD songs!). Well-written songs are beautiful children that bring us smiles and deep warmth, comfort in the evening’s twilight.

songwriting

In my imagination I view myself, Walter Mitty-like, laser-focused, moving forward, writing songs based on inspirational ideas that come to me in the middle of the night, in that wonderful dark room inside my head where my dream life is less distracted.

Certainly, writing a blog post takes a moderate degree of focus. In fact, writing these posts is one exercise I crave to keep my head grounded in concentrated reality.

But composing a song is a different level of focus, the difference between simple arithmetic and challenging algebra.

Musical writing … composing… is a multitask activity that gathers the need for lyrical, poetic inspiration interbred with musical melody and harmony.

It links back to the idea of musical prosody… melody and rhythm and lyrics that embrace like young lovers in a masterpiece that makes us believe the words and music are as one… inseparable and shallow without the other.

But that’s my imagination.

My reality is less idealistic, more scattered, more ordinary and everyday… more in sync with the current technology schizophrenia that traps many of us.

There are lists all over magazine covers and the internet with apparently simple answers to the puzzle that is focus…. Live Your Legend- 11 Steps to Insane Focus: Do More of What Matters …  8 Ways To Improve Your Focus – Fast Company … 12 Ways To Be More Focused And Get More Things Done Quickly. 

But MY best answer to this faraway bewildered quandary is my plain old non-technical caffeine and a daily TO DO List. And if a messy, paper-cluttered desk is any indication of a genius mind, Einstein and I could be twins.

The bottom line is we know FOCUS is hard work. F-words have a way of getting under our skin and stirring us up.

So even though I occasionally grouse about distractions – our love/hate relationship – the truth is I love this time and place where technology is sometimes taxing but ultimately an amazing perk… a creative self-care gift basket.

computer kid

The ADHD Perfect Week… Do You Have A God Complex Too?

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Was God ADHD-afflicted?

Maybe even a rotten heathen like myself has been constructed in God’s image… is it possible that I’m God’s Mini-Me?

Dog and puppy

I’m pretty sure I said GOD…

Let’s face it, anyone who builds universes and Adam’s and Eve’s and animals and plants, listens to every prayer, watches over every sporting event, administers individually to the multitudes of sick and dying, carefully allows wars and famines to take their course without interfering, blesses babies at their Baptisms and Bris’s, accepts and welcomes the recently deceased into his home, creates artistically gorgeous sunsets for vacationers…

… well… this entity we call God is beautifully smitten with a ravishing ADHD ailment.

I don’t think he/she can focus. That’s a considerable amount of activity and a lot of ground covered by one “person”.

I used to think I was crazy because I constantly shifted my focal point of activity not just on a daily basis, but on an hour-to-hour level.

So maybe you’ll understand that when I look at my actively scattered mind in this “God” light, I figure I’m doing OK.

To give you some context here, let me outline my typical week of activities. While representative, some items drift in and out with the seasons and my level of enthusiasm at any given moment:

  • Soup kitchen
  • Open Mic performance/guitar practice
  • Bartending
  • Boot Camp/Swimming/Weight Training/Track Running/Yoga/Tennis
  • Tutoring
  • Blog Writing
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Reading Books
  • Stock Market Investing
  • Building Stuff/Renovations
  • Movie Watching/Popcorn Inhalation

Family Circus

It’s pretty easy to call this a distracted ADHD-like whirlwind. (My apologies to those truly afflicted with a diagnosis of ADHD… I use the term loosely in my personal life)

Or, perhaps if you’re a female-type, you’re saying to yourself, “It’s called multi-tasking stupid man, we women do this every day of the week!“.

Sometimes, I think I’m losing touch with normalcy because even when I’m doing and enjoying an activity – experiencing the moment – I’m actually thinking about the next thing I want to do or should do.

It’s like Seinfeld says in his stand up routine, Whenever we’re ‘here’, we’re already thinking about what we should be doing ‘there’.” I talked about this idea a couple of weeks back.

It may appear that I’m riding madly off in all directions, but I prefer to think of my disseminated existence as “life balance”…

My Italian brother-in-law Don comically talks about his food “balancers”, the delectable little snacks he ingests constantly throughout his day that balance his need for calories!

I’ve merely taken Don’s “balancer” act and morphed it slightly into my list of busyness…  movements… my “to’ing and fro’ing“. I like the sensation of being an Olympic gymnast teetering on the balance beam, doing flips, then turns, and then somersaults while tenuously holding onto the central girder.

I’ve always been an adherent of balance in life. I may be mentally unbalanced but my day-to-day equilibrium remains intact.

The Oxford Dictionary describes balance as, “A situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” Who knows what correct proportions are but I think balance = healthy… as in…

… a healthy’ish blender mix of the physical, mental, spiritual, social, intellectual/educational, narcissistic and altruistic. Biting off a portion of each of these food groups of life on a regular basis builds the muscle groups of our existence.

WellnessWheel

I’ve observed very successful people who have a razor-sharp focus, folks who dedicate every waking hour to a goal or an outcome that burns like the fires of Hades inside them.

At the extreme, they relegate their physical health and/or family contacts to the bottom of the pile creating a diseased state of balance.

Do I believe that Steve Jobs was brilliant? Absolutely! Do I believe Steve Jobs was physically strong and robust, and had healthy family relationships… not so much.

While I admire the obsessive focus, stamina and dedication of these highly successful types, it’s not the house where I see the dreams of my world living.

I prefer to consciously allocate my 1,440 minutes a day in a proportioned balance to each of the areas I value…

I see my days in the same way I see my investing diversification.

I would never allocate my entire wad of $$ to one stock investment like Apple or Johnson & Johnson, even though these are fine companies and great investments. It’s common sense to spread your investment dollars just as it’s common sense to live a life of balance. Diversification in life = Balance.

So, let’s go back to the where I began today’s “sermon”… Was/Is God ADHD-afflicted? Or does it matter?

I’ll let you decide… because I’ve got a bunch of other things to do.

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“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Art of Focus… Never a Better Time… Pay The Price Now…

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Focus Art

The unthinkable is TRUE… it’s happening…

OMG… you can learn and excel at anything… ANYTHING… you’ve ever dreamed of and not have to leave your home.

You can get the best, most expert, most expensive instruction on:

  • screenwriting
  • acting
  • golfing
  • piano playing
  • knitting and sewing
  • furniture making
  • philosophy
  • bird identification
  • cake decorating
  • Romanian language 
  • basketball layups
  • doing an artfully erotic striptease…

banana-striptease

ANYTHING… it’s all there just waiting for you and me to dive in…

The internet has given me alone tutorials on songwriting, french language skills, grammar and the Oxford comma, concrete finishing, ancient history, beef roast cooking, SQL computer coding, chicken raising, growing better tomatoes, running a faster half marathon (fat chance!), and on and on.

I’ve had James Taylor in my home office patiently instructing me, coaching me on how to do everything from tuning a guitar well to proper picking form in Fire and Rain .

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will happily come into your home, you don’t even have to offer them a cup of tea, and give you driving instructions.

……………….

To be deeply philosophical about it, or more likely just to fool you into believing that I’m smart or something… all of the atoms in the universe have been cycled and recycled, combined and recombined over millions and billions of years, and somehow, by fate or whatever, you and I were fabricated from a mere dusting of these fragments and particles.

It’s a miracle really; a miracle that justifies something great and noteworthy, don’t you think?

But dear friend… it’s the best of times and… it’s the worst of times.

Because there are so many distractions, maybe fewer of us than ever are actually doing these amazing, diverse things… or at least doing them well. Good morning, this is your wake-up call...

I’ve struggled mightily all my life with mediocrity – boo hoo, poor entitled lad – you know… Jack of All Trades, Master of None.  

For the most part I’ve actually happily embraced being so-so at almost everything I do, rationalizing that because I do a bucketload of varied things with my time, that I can ditch the worry about doing anything really well.

CHANGE.

My thinking has and is changing … let’s see, my fellow Canadian JT (Justin Trudeau) has changed his thinking on electoral reform, and even Donald Trump has changed his thinking on China as a currency manipulator.

So maybe, just maybe, it’s OK for Larry Green to change his thinking on mediocrity in every area of his life (hmmmm, talking about yourself in the third person is a sign of encroaching narcissism, I’d better look up some remedial therapy courses online).

To be good or great, you have to hone the skills, spend the 1,000 hours… the 10,000 hours to become “special”.

shooting star.jpg

I’ve talked about this before, and I hate to be a nag, but in a world that makes learning so easy, and concentrated focus so challenging, it bears repeating.

When I – drooling over sexy music porn – watch Tommy Emmanuelle or Keith Urban play their guitar, the first thought that passes through my brain like a crawler at the bottom of the news channel screen, is, “I could never do that“.

WRONG… they became that good by… practice… practice… and more practice.

Your wise old Mom was right when she told you to sit at the piano bench, practicing your lessons for a half hour every day.

I, and similarly, you, have the ability if we’re willing to pay the price.

If I’m willing to commit hours, months, and years, I can do it.

It’s about committing to something you enjoy tremendously and making the effort, the hard, concentrated effort, to learn and progress and accept the difficulties and failures that come with slow, uneven progress.

It’s about The Art of Focus.

It’s about a willingness to say NO more often, no to the distractions and outside influences, and sitting yourself down to do the hard, often lonely, but ultimately pleasurable work of making something magical within yourself.

It’s about the inner feeling of goodness and creative spark that comes with a pat-yourself-on-the-back sense of mastery.

This beautiful blue planet we inhabit for such a painfully short time has evolved over millions of years to the point where, today, most of us rarely fear for our mortal lives or tremble about starvation, where crippling diseases are at a lesser tide than any time in history, where work days usually conclude after 8 or 10 hours, and weekends are for our own pleasure.

We’ve come to bat at the sweet spot in time and circumstance. HOME RUN territory.

I’ll cock my head, glance up into the bright sunshine, scratch some fine dirt beneath my cleats and rub my crotch for good luck.

The once almost unthinkable moment has arrived and you and I can decide for ourselves if these moments we’re allotted are meant for watching the world happen to us, or we happen to the world.

The internet gives us the gift of choice where we can be sucked into an intoxicating whirlpool of dullness, and a diet of artificial Twinkies, or… a tsunami of wonder and a dramatic reaching for the elegant twinkling of the stars.

Grammatically, an incomplete sentence is one where either a subject (YOU) or a verb (YOU doing something) is missing.

Every complete sentence has a subject (YOU) and a verb (YOU doing something).

YOU doing something is a complete sentence in a life fully lived.

You guessed it. I learned that from a grammar lesson I took online…

keith urban brad pasisley guitar