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Someone actually bet me a drink one time that 1) I didn't know the words to this song and 2) even if I did, I wouldn't get up on stage and sing it for karaoke. Yay, free drink!

I would like to thank my mother for being obsessed with Shirley Temple.

P.S. Someday, I'll make real posts again. I'm just having so much fun with these.
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This is the song the band plays at kickoff at my high school's football games. You hear the Rocky theme song? I hear the Bobcat theme song.
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This song reminds me of Christ Fellowship. It's the only place (well, besides my own house and car) where I've ever heard it, and I still hear Erin and Conan singing it (and much better than the person singing it here, in my opinion). I remember when they had Ben and Robin Pasley (who wrote the song) over for a house concert. I've always considered, of all the songs that we sang, that this was most likely our theme song as a church. My hope is that it still is true for us, even though we're no longer together.
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This is such a fun song. I like the whistling part.

Music

Jun. 2nd, 2011 02:00 am
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I've been kind of lax with the whole Happiness Project. I think it takes more time than I have. Also, other things have come up. But I have a focus for June - music.

I have always loved music. I suppose I love music in the same generic sort of way that everyone loves music, but it was always a big part of my life growing up. I took private piano lessons for ten years, and I've sung in choirs and substituted on worship teams, so I have a bit of a background. And I don't quite know how to explain this, but some of you will get it - I think like a musician. The mindset that it takes is how my brain works. I just haven't done anything recently (i.e., for the past couple of years). And I miss it. As soon as I read one Rubin's goals with her children - "Sing in the morning" - I ached for it. It's the same ache I feel when I hear certain friends sing or when they played recordings of Mr. Currie's piano arrangements at his funeral or when I hear someone play the piano in the Union. So much of my early identity was wrapped up in music that when it's not around, it leaves a hole that nothing else can fill.

So how do I get restarted?

1. 30 Day Song Challenge. Several of my Facebook friends have been doing this, and I've enjoyed hearing the things that they post. So I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Yesterday's prompt was "Your Favorite Song," so naturally, I chose this:


2. Seek out the music of others. This is where being at UNT will come in handy. There are hoardes of recitals and concerts, and most of them are free. It's summer, so there may not be as many around, but we have a great local music scene as well. I originally planned to do this in March, when I was going to spend a week in Memphis, but I think having a less busy month will make it easier.

3. Find a way to play. I don't have a keyboard, and it's going to be a while before I can afford one. Also, I am super shy when it comes to playing in front of others, especially now that I'm so out of practice. But there has to be a solution. My goal this month is to seek it and find it.

Simplicity

Apr. 7th, 2011 02:10 pm
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I’ve been keeping track of all my Happiness Project goals on one calendar. It was a good idea when I started, but as I’ve added goals, that little calendar has started to look really crowded. Actually, it’s started to resemble the notes pages of conspiracy theorists or the clinically insane (implied parallel unintentional) in movies with the small text going every which way, notes in the margins, etc.

So I’m simplifying it. I’ve been coding some things and writing out others (hence the diary-of-a-madwoman look), but I’m going all code now. Clicky if you want to read my progress.

C is for Cleaning )

V is for Vegan Day )

R is for Reading )

W is for Writing )

P is for Prayer )

A is for Activity )

And to hell with the food diary )
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So my plan was for March to be the month I focused on music. Having played piano since I was nine, I have always considered music to be a large part of my life, even though in recent years I have been neglecting it. And since I spent Spring Break in Memphis, home of the blues (I'm planning a blues tour of the city when I have time to explore it properly), music seemed to be the proper theme.

Then I spent the week in Memphis, where three things happened.

First, I went with a bunch of shutter-happy college students. Everything was a photo op. We were shameless tourists. And I ended up in a lot of pictures. Now, most of the time, when there are multiple pictures taken of me, I like some, dislike others, and have apathy toward the majority of them. Not this time. I hated them all. Every single picture that was taken of me last week, I despised. Now, I could tell myself that they were all just bad pictures - every single last one of them - but that's not so likely. Which means, a) I need to learn to stand up straighter and b) I really do look like that. *chagrin*

Second, we spent the week working at the Mid-South Food Bank, which was rewarding, hard work. We were tired and sore at the end of every day, but they told us that we ended up boxing up enough food to feed over 4,000 people. One of the most memorable things about the week, however, was seeing how much food gets wasted because it is too far past its expiration date to be safe. We threw away cheese and bread and all sorts of originally delicious things, not because there aren't hungry people to feed but because of a breakdown somewhere along the production/distribution line that just didn't get it to them before it went bad. It was sobering to see so much need and then, right beside it, see so much food that could have potentially met that need go to waste.

Third, the food bank was hard work. It was physically draining. I ached and creaked like I never have before. And I know that I am comparing myself to people at least a decade younger than I am (or, as I demurely phrased it to the 18-year-old baby of the group, young enough to be my son if I had been a slut in high school), but still. There is no reason that six hours of work - even very physical work - should affect me so drastically. I am seriously out of shape, and that's not something that gets easier to maintain with age.

So my conclusion is this: I need to spend a month (or two) on my relationship to food and fitness. I need to focus on how they affect my mood, my energy level, and my overall vitality.

I am not looking forward to this, but I find it necessary.

I already think a lot about food and health, but that's usually as far as I get in the process. Thinking. Sure, I've upped my activity level and I'm making better food choices overall, but my commitment to it is still sporadic at best.

I also want to streamline my kitchen to make this process easier. My kitchen is the most functional room in my house, but I notice that the things that are the most readily available are the things that are the worst for me. I would like to change this so that my healthier choices become the more convenient ones. However, I cannot bring myself to just throw away the less healthy food, so I'll need a way to distribute it.

A few ways I plan to incorporate these changes:

1. Fine. I'll do a food diary. This is something that I have avoided doing, because I expect to be appalled at how random my eating patterns are. But I am committed to it for the rest of March and April. We'll see how well simple awareness plays into accomplishing this goal.

2. Make more active choices. Instead of Eat This, Not That, it will be a Do This, Not That. Instead of sitting down to watch one more episode of Big Bang Theory or Psych (which, as an aside, I really do love, just a whole lot. Shawn and Gus? They're adorable.), I will pop in the Pilates DVD (and actually do Pilates, just to be clear. Not just watch it...which is totally what I did with that yoga video I popped in yesterday). Or I will go for a walk or jog. Something to get me off the couch. I should probably keep track of this, too. I wonder if there will be enough room on the calendar to include this information with my food diary. We'll see.

3. Give my kitchen an outbox. The outbox concept is something that is helping me de-clutter the rest of the apartment, so I figure it will help in the kitchen as well. Then I can bring the unwanted snack food up to the desk at the dorm, where it will be consumed within the hour. This is one scenario in which the students' locust-like behaviors will come in handy.

I am hoping that I will not make this more overwhelming than it needs to be. Because yes, I want to be more fit to be healthier. And yes, I want to be more organized in what I consume and how I spend my time. But right now? I mostly just want to avoid taking pictures like that again.
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It seems weird to spend a month on something so foundational to how I'm feeling/doing overall. The amount of time that I spend in prayer is the singlemost accurate predictor of how happy, how peaceful, how stable, and how content I am. So I suppose no happiness project of mine would really be complete without it.

Some specific ways that I will be focusing on prayer this month are:

1. Read books on faith. The main deterent to my prayer life is lack of focus. When what I'm reading reflects what I'm praying, focus comes more naturally.

2. Finally get into the practice of having a prayer journal. I have several journals, but I have always been told that I need a separate one for prayer. Or at least something more private than lj. I know I can make private entries, but I'm paranoid. I never put anything on the Internet that it would disrupt my world to have just anyone read. I can't imagine that it will be incredibly structured. But I'm excited about the prospect of a journal where I record my gratitude, longings, notes from reading, etc., as this all bleeds into prayer life. I haven't actually kept a paper journal in a while, so I'm also excited about starting this up again.

Other than these two practices, I'm confident enough to just let this month develop into wherever God wants it to go.

I already feel detached about it. Interesting. We'll see.

Edited to add: In other news, both colleges I work for have been shut down every day this week except for Monday. I can't say I missed having to spend all day today in meetings, but I'm a little afraid for what this is going to do to my schedule for next week and beyond.
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The first week of school went by quickly and without incident. It also went by without interest, so I will move on.

I have learned one thing so far with my New Year's Resolution. Meaning to be restful and actually being restful are two different things. I put up a calendar in my office to keep track of how I'm doing with my vitality month, and yesterday I realized that the answer is "not so well." It takes such simple things to restore me. I think that, because they're both simple and things that I love to do, I just assumed that remembering to incorporate them into my days would be easy. It turns out that, unless I plan them into my schedule, they don't really get done. Not as regular habits, anyway.

This weekend has been awesome. I had people over for a Scentsy party on Friday night, and I made dinner. We spent most of the evening talking. I have spent the rest of the weekend basking in my cleaner living room, watching the third season of Lost, eating leftovers from the week, reading things that require no attention span (Bad Marie, Little Tales of Misogyny, and a collection of short essays written by women about exes entitled What Was I Thinking?, just to balance things out), and sleeping. I went out for a little while to celebrate a friend's birthday last night, but other than that I have not left the house. It was just the sort of weekend I needed.

I haven't decided if I've given up on sending out cards. I can't really call them holiday cards any more. Unless the holiday I mean is Valentines Day. It's one of those things that I want to do, but other things seem to keep taking priority. I am in desperate need of simplifying my life. I find lists on how to do so inspiring. Ironically, they're mostly lists of more things to do when the logical key to simplicity is to do fewer things. I purposely forsook one of my daily resolutions for the month today (clean a little every day), and I feel just glorious about it. Perhaps it's just as important to know when to take a break from a good habit as it is to develop it.
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New Year's Resolution time! I don't want to do anything that puts a lofty numerical goal on me, because while the Six Lists of One Hundred Things resolution from this year was successful in many ways (overwhelmingly so, in my view), I did not fulfill even one of those lists to a hundred. And the last few years have been like that. I will find at the end of the year that, although I've accomplished/learned much, I will have failed on a technicality. So this year, I'm taking away some of the technicalities, because I don't really work like that anyway. I'm leaving room for the goals to breathe - to expand and contract as necessary throughout the process.

So, I read The Happiness Project (Gretchen Rubin), and I liked it. And as I happened to read it around the time I started pondering what my New Year's Resolutions were going to be this year, it played an integral role. In the section on getting started, she said, "I had everything I could possibly want - yet I was failing to appreciate it." Well, I may not have everything I want, but that's no excuse. I'm still woefully slack in appreciating what I do have. So my resolution this year is to take on my own sort of Happiness Project. I'm even stealing the title. It's not that I'm particularly unhappy (although I could definitely list a few areas of my life where I could stand to be happier - couldn't we all?), but I am restless and dissatisfied (even more so than usual). I would like to spend the year tunneling out of that, or at least putting it to good use.

I identified eleven areas where I see a need for improvement, giving me a month to jumpstart each one (and December to practice all of them). I haven't thought through all of them yet, so I will just post at the first of each month to detail the additions of the month (you know you're excited).

January: Vitality

I borrowed her first month, because vitality seems essential to all other goals. So in January, I'm going to focus on this relaxation-action dialectic and see if I can't find some sort of balance between the two. I started by asking myself when I can remember feeling the most relaxed and when I can remember feeling the most energized. The answer to both questions was the same - the vacation to Cape Cod. In looking back at my writing that week, I found several key elements on which I usually don't focus in my everyday life - cooking (or, more specifically, eating) foods made from wholesome ingredients, sharing drawn-out meals (and perhaps a bottle or two of wine) with people, reading, writing, being outside, having an uncluttered living space, seeing new places, praying. So my vitality goals to start in January are as follows:

1. Eat more vegan meals. I know that this is not everyone's ideal diet, but one thing I learned this past year is that it's the diet that gives me the most energy. I am not at the place yet where I am committed to go full vegan, but I want to be more mindful of how I fuel my body.

2. Do something to unclutter my living space every day. Whether this means loading things into the dishwasher or putting away clothes/shoes or organizing CDs or adding things to the Goodwill pile, I have a few minutes a day to spend on where I live. I'm currently relishing the tail-end of my luxurious two weeks off. Some of these days have been productive. And some days, I have sat in front of the television and watched the first season of Lost. And I feel rested and energized. Rome was not built in a day, and my messy apartment will not become suddenly spotless in one day either. I've tried several methods before, but I think that this one is more practical for me.

3. Have someone over to dinner at least once a week. This was my favorite part of every day at Cape Cod - the evening meal. We would sight-see or lounge all day, but then we would gather for a meal and sit around and talk. I miss doing this. Besides, having people over will give me a little extra incentive to stick to my uncluttering. I definitely tidy up for company.

4. Read something. Write something. I'm simply more focused when I'm exercising my mind, and these are the primary ways that I enjoy doing it. I would like to read and write something every day, but I'm not going to be a stickler about it. More specifically, this year I'd like to re-read at least one book I have loved (Starting with the book of Isaiah in January. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Stand, Crime and Punishment, and The Eye of the World are a few others that spring to mind) per month and finish my Fishbowl story.

5. Take at least one long walk a week. I define a long walk as anything that takes me more than half an hour.

6. I would like to visit a new place every month. My budget won't allow for that visit always to be out of town, but there are plenty of places nearby that I haven't seen. There are B&B's I can't recommend because I haven't stayed there and wineries I haven't toured. I think it's time to explore them.

Prayer is vital. I want to have a month to focus solely on prayer, so that will lead us into February.

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