Sunshine for Your Pocket

The world can seem pretty ugly these days, can’t it? Is it any wonder we turn to entertainment for escape? Sometimes, we just want a happy ever after, a joyful place to visit for a bit. The Oscars are this weekend, offering up all kinds of beauty and one of the soundtracks caught my ear.

One of Original Song nominees is Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling. I’ve mentioned this song before but it’s worth repeating – how do you not get up and dance along?  It looks like pretty much everyone has a little sunshine in their pocket.

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Timberlake produced the music for Trolls and his fingerprints are all over it, including a cover of Earth Wind and Fire’s September – apparently, this is the first time the band re-recorded it, so they were in the studio with Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Do you remember?

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Been knocked around in traffic (see Traffic Jam)? How about Get Back Up Again, featuring Anna Kendrick?

Hey!

I’m not giving up today

There’s nothing getting in my way

And if you knock knock me over

I will get back up again

If something goes a little wrong

Well you can go ahead and bring it on

‘Cause if you knock knock me over, I will get back up again

Feeling a bit whimsical? The opening song on the soundtrack is Hair Up. I’m half tempted to get a bucket of gel (5 gallons might do it)and put my hair in the air. Yeah, it’s a little silly but everyone could use a dose from a glitter bomb. YOLOoooooo!

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Want another take on Sounds of Silence? Yes, seriously (more singing). It helps me relax. 😉

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And, if you want some pure beauty, watch this video of Kendrick and Timberlake performing a cover of True Colors at the Cannes Film Festival. If you’re a cynic about live performances and lip synching, this one will restore a little faith. Ahhhhhhhhh. There’s that sunshine feeling.

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Have a fabulous weekend, may you all have a little beauty. ❤

 

Traffic Jams

How was traffic today?

Imagine your entire day was made up of cars carrying a thought or feeling. I bet that your day was full of traffic, maybe even gridlocked, if today was stressful. Did you want to call a halt to everything? Or, if your thoughts or feelings were pleasant, did you want to go for a nice long drive in those particular cars and avoid the less pleasant ones? This traffic concept is one of the visualizations from a meditation app, Headspace.

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For those with preconceived notions about meditation, I’d like you to set them aside. Not all meditation is chanting phrases with your legs crossed. Instead, practitioners are taking time (10 minutes, in the case of Headspace) from the hustle and stress of our days to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. Some call it mental hygiene. Think of meditation this way: If you take the time to declutter and clean up your car, if you shower daily and do the laundry often, why wouldn’t you do the same for your mind? Meditation can improve concentration, self awareness, acceptance (Serenity Prayer anyone?) and physical well being (e.g., lower blood pressure). By the way, contemplative prayer is one form where prayer and meditation overlap. If you grew up, as I did, reciting the Hail Mary, then you’ve practiced contemplative prayer. Does it surprise you that this is very similar to the Eastern practice of mantra meditation?

Back to the benefits of meditation – this one is important for all of us who hope to age well: In one study, it appeared to slow the aging process in practitioners, including increasing the number of brain cells. Who knew you could grow a bigger brain?

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Blue is better!

Meditation comes in many forms (including the aforementioned chanting). The style I prefer is mindfulness. You start by focusing on your breathing, then taking stock of your physical and mental sensations. Throughout the meditation, your mind drifts off to tasks, worries, politics or whatever and you gently refocus. By the end of the 10 minute session, I’m calmer, less likely to react to things (pick any news topic right now) and, most importantly for me, a better listener for others. When I practice regularly, I find it easier to calm down in all kinds of stressful situations.

So, let’s get back to the traffic analogy. Do you chase after cars? Attempt to stop them? Do you realize how many cars are on your figurative road? What happens if you simply acknowledge them as they go by, instead of attempting to change them? Think about how you manage all of these thoughts and feelings today. Some of those self-management habits are healthy (e.g., going for a walk), some are less so, especially if you use them too often (e.g., alcohol or drugs). Meditation is free (or relatively cheap, like the Headspace app), requires no special equipment and travels well. All you need is you and a willingness to try.

I’ve mentioned Headspace before. It’s a meditation app that offers guided sessions and also gives you tools to help practice throughout the day. This traffic visualization is one of them. Helpful, huh? They have many others, like Blue Sky (Finding Calm). It’s a handy tool for finding calm when things are tough. If you want to learn more about Headspace or other meditation tools, you can follow the links in this post or just search on the web. I wish you peace this week!

 

 

 

We Will Get By

Waahhhhooooooo, it’s Friday!

I took most of January to just be.

That’s it. Just be… Be in the moment, be in the here and now.

I had no plans and did no planning.

I pretended I was a cloud and generally went where the wind took me. It was immensely freeing to stay in the moment, but this departure from daily lists and tasks won’t last forever so I’m enjoying it while I can.

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It’s Friday and we can all use a recharge as we wrap up the week. Here are a few songs that inspired my thinking, my floating, drifting with the wind, my appreciation of the freedom that comes with a career transition.

The Glee cast’s cover of Defying Gravity from Wicked Retiring is a lot like closing your eyes and leaping.

Disturbed’s cover of Sounds of Silence  Silence is what happens when you’re not on conference calls every hour!

Jack Johnson’s From the Clouds  Happy music with great imagery.

Michael Franti & Spearhead’s Sound of Sunshine  The video is shot on a beach, one of my happy places.

Finally, The Grateful Dead’s Touch of Grey  A happy melody with the best lyrics ever, especially if you’re feeling stressed. We will get by……one of my favorite ear worms.

May you do more than get by, may you find joy today!

 

 

Mother Trees

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, or is it?

Is every man only looking out for himself? I’ll warn you that I’ve searched far and wide for cliches today….

I was recently reading about networks and communities. No man is an island, after all. 😉 In my reading, I kept coming across the concept of ‘mother trees’ and a biologist named Suzanne Simard, who talks about big trees support seedlings, enabling them to grow. Like the mother trees in Avatar, these large, older trees rise above the forest and connect to other trees via a network of fungal threads. It appears these mother trees not only share nutrients with weaker trees, they’ll also do so when it means sacrificing their own needs. In return, the seedlings grow and will provide nutrients to others, including the mother trees.  Ms. Simard describes forests as complex networks of trees who communicate and support each other, making the whole forest more resilient.

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Some of you will say that’s a bunch of hooey and use words like “anthropomorphize”, meaning we’re attributing human traits to non-humans, but how else do you describe the passing of nutrients when needed? We can debate anthropomorphism another day and get back to my original question: Is every man or tree only looking out for himself? Or is it all for one and one for all?

I vote for B. We’re a community and our networks make us stronger. Our ability to support each other in times of need means that more of us survive, both literally and figuratively.

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Back to Ms. Simard for a moment. She also mentions that forests can be more vulnerable because of the trees’ networks. If you damage the mother trees, the whole forest declines. Or, if you let loose a scourge (I always wanted to use that word…. 🙂 ), like the bark beetle, the trees’ network may collapse. How do you make a forest less susceptible to a scourge? Diversity. Instead of one or two types of trees, you have many types of trees, some that are resistant to a particular attack. The more diversity, the less the risk of the community failing.

My point in as few words as possible:

  • Mother trees (hubs) matter. These are the people who connect us to each other and help us get what we need, especially in times of stress.
  • Even the smallest seedling can contribute to the well being of others and their community.
  • Diversity fortifies our community against harm.

As you go through your week, I hope you look at your world with fresh eyes. Who are the mother trees in your network? How do the smallest, youngest, weakest members contribute? How can diversity strengthen you and your community?  In short, how are we better together?

Better When I’m Dancing

What moves you? Is it techie or Trekky? Is it color, words or music? Is it smooth jazz or rhythm?  Can you tell when someone’s in their element, doing their thing? They light up, they dang near glow. They get lost in it, and they can likely go for hours without realizing time is passing.

My husband, Martin, and I often debate our favorite music. This started when we were dating and attended Dead concerts. Yeah, we’re that old, to have dated in the era of live Dead shows…. hush, y’all, hush. 🙂

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There was usually a Space/Drums transition in every show. Martin loved Space, an undefined jam with lots of woo-woo guitar and synthesizer. Space could be eerie and dissonant, it usually lacked obvious rhythm and could last for-ehv-ahhhh, at least in my view. Space was not my thing and I was known to fall asleep during it. Twice, as in, during two different shows. Seriously, not my thing.

On the other hand, I loved Drums. Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman (long time drummers for the Dead) were my Dead heroes. I could dance for days to anything with a beat. Even now, I still use strong rhythms to get me up in the morning and to pull me out of funks. How can you not be joyful when you’re moving to a fabulous rhythm?  I hear them in my head while I’m waiting in line at the post office, standing in an elevator or sitting behind the wheel. There was a time when you could have caught me tap dancing while I waited for a train. Time ceases to exist for me when I have a beat. Like Meghan Trainor, I feel Better When I’m Dancing. (She apparently feels the same, watch this making-of-video, where she explains that dancing makes her feel better and the inspiration for the song.)

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While Martin liked Drums, it wasn’t his thing the way Space was (and still is, thanks to the Dead’s prolific recordings). Neither of us is wrong or right in our love of Drums & Space, we just march to different drummers (pun intended!).

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So what’s your thing? What drummer inspires you to marching? What do you seek out when you’re searching for a little joy, a little more energy to climb those mountains? Life is hard, I hope y’all find that special something to  inspire you. ❤

Faith

Wow, it’s that time! countdownTwenty eight years ago, I walked into 633 Folsom in San Francisco, both nervous and excited to get started. My only goal? I wanted to work for a company that would give me room to grow. After my first day, my first week, my first month, my first year (!) I couldn’t believe they were paying me to do this stuff. (Yeah, that was not the first time I realized I was a nerd on a cosmic scale….. I can hear y’all snickering.) All these years later, I am so grateful for all of the adventures and opportunities I’ve had.

I’ve been so, So, SO fortunate to have y’all in my life and to have you share yours. I’m most grateful for your inspiration and I hope y’all know how much you’ve meant to me. There are not enough words (and y’all don’t have enough time 😉 ) for me to list all the things we’ve accomplished together. I have to mention, however, the most important of these was the world we built. We brought out the best in each other and I wish y’all the best as you carry on the AT&T community.

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As I sign off from AT&T for the last time, I leave you with this song –  Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande’s Faith (From “Sing”)

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Every time I see it, I’m reminded of the faith we have in each other, I’m reminded of y’all.

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Every time you see it, I hope you think of those in your life that need you for their inspiration.

Thank you for having faith in me and best wishes for a fabulous 2017!

Caryn

Joy

Let’s start the week with a little joy – watch this video of a woman enjoying the snow. I dare you not to smile at her pleasure.

Let’s list a few things that she could complain about, if she chose to:

  1. it’s cold
  2. she’s getting wet
  3. she has no gloves
  4. she might fall

These are all good reasons to stay in the car, right? I’ll bet it’s warm and dry inside and she could watch the snow falling just fine. What does she choose to do instead? She gets out of her comfort zone and she plays in the snow. I love her giggles and I love that her son (behind the video) is laughing along with her.

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May your day be full of joy, even when you’re cold and uncomfortable.

May you have someone to share your joy. ❤