Chasing Inspiration

Friday, December 25, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

Merry Christmas! If you're reading this blog entry today, thank you. I do appreciate it. But stop reading now and go spend some time enjoying the holiday! *grin*

In honor of the holiday, today's Soundtrack Friday contains not one but two tracks. I had a difficult time narrowing things down to one song. There are so many touching and sentimental songs out there for the season and I have a healthy collection of Christmas music.

First, we have a soulful Christmas song from one of my musical icons of the 80s, Richard Page. While Richard isn't putting out albums at the moment, he did write and produce a song for the season back in 2008 and released it on You Tube and iTunes. I Always Cry At Christmas is a wonderful reminder of the wonder of this time of year.

As a special holiday bonus, we have Third Day and the song I Want To See Christmas Like A Child. Katie, this one's for you!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

All I Want For Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and it's been snowing since last night. I'm not complaining. My husband takes care of keeping the driveway and walk clear, Velcro Dog loves the snow so when the hubby is outside Velcro Dog goes with him. And I get some quiet moments sitting at the table, looking out at snow covered trees through the windows and enjoying a hot cup of tea. This is my idea of bliss. Especially after taking Velcro Dog to the park to run around while I snowshoed and hubby shoveled a path for some of the less adventurous.

In the truck on the way home, with a sleepy Velcro Dog curled up in the back of the cab, Hubby asked me what I wanted for Christmas. We usually exchange gifts in January rather than over Christmas. This is by design to alleviate the pressure of needing to have our gifts figured out while at the same time shopping for family and friends. I shifted in my seat and snuggled close to him and smiled up at him. "A house elf," I replied.

My husband is not a fanciful man so rolled his eyes at my suggestion. "We're not getting a cleaning service or a housekeeper." Yeah, my suggestion was a long shot. That doesn't mean I won't keep trying.

I turned serious and pondered his original question. What do I want for Christmas? I could say a Nook e-reader or a gift card to Barnes & Noble. Books are always a welcome addition to my life. But Hubby feels odd giving me books since I buy them for myself all year long. I could ask for a spa day or makeover but as fun as those sound I would want to go with someone and that could be a scheduling nightmare.

I don't really need anything. What I want I have. A good relationship with a man who knows all my quirks and loves me because of them. A house that is evolving more and more into a home we are proud to own. A dog who loves us and brings us joy. Friends. Health. Meaningful work. Dreams. Passion.

I have everything I need or want. The rest are inconsequential trappings - nice to haves that won't necessarily add meaning to my life. I told my husband that. He snorted, which I take to mean I'll be getting something like flowers for Christmas. Or maybe new wool socks. Either gift would bring a smile to my face. It's nice to be in that content state of being where I can acknowledge this moment as being full and complete.

Merry Christmas, everyone. May this holiday be filled to overflowing with contentment and blessing.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Today it dawned on me, finally, that Christmas is only three days away. I have purchased nothing. I have baked nothing. I have no cards picked out yet alone addressed. There is no tree. No decorations. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Am I panicked? No, and I'll tell you why I'm not.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter if I get the nephews and nieces their presents on time, or if I have the perfect homemade cookies or if cards reach family and friends before the 25th. At the end of the day it matters that I show up. That I'm present and engaged and fully with the people I love. The trappings of Christmas don't equal being present.

So, if this year my family gets New Year's or Epiphany gifts instead of Christmas gifts, that's okay. If I bring store bought goodies to parties, that's totally fine. And if I choose to spend my time with the people I love instead of rushing around to find the perfect tree or card or gift, that's just fine.

If you're feeling the crunch this holiday season, I encourage to take a deep breath and to
remember that it's not about the stuff or the decorations or the food. It's about being present. Fully and completely connecting with those who matter most. So let go of the worry that it's not going to be perfect or the stress of getting it all done. You're not a failure if you don't. I repeat, you are not a failure. In fact, if you are present and engaged you are a huge success! People
notice these things and remember them. It's in being present that you truly touch lives.

Here's to a guilt-free holiday season for everyone! Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

I heard this song on the radio this week and I was tickled by the chorus. You see, the song mentions one of my favorite bands from the 80s - Mr. Mister. Naturally I downloaded the song from iTunes, along with both soundtracks from Glee because I'm in the mood for music I can sing along with in car. The song makes me happy. So very happy.

It's a song about belonging, finding that soul connection so many people long for. It's a song with an up beat, quirky lyrics and a mandolin. And it's a song that Jason, the main male character in Mallory's story, said to me embodies how he feels about someone. Might be Mallory. Might not be. I'll eventually wrestle that out of him so I'm not worried there. But I did think Jason was more of a hard rock or alternative kind of guy. All this boppy music is starting to make me wonder what lurks beneath his calm exterior. I thought it was angst and self recriminations. Perhaps he has a refined sense of irony I have yet to tap into. We'll see.

In the meantime, today's soundtrack Friday comes to you from San Francisco's very own Train. Hey, Soul Sister is their latest single off their new album Save Me San Francisco. I dare you to not smile while listening.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time in a land not so different from our own, there lived a princess. This princess had the magic ability to squeeze more hours into her day than the average person. No, she didn't sleep less or stop eating. She was able to bend the physics of time in order to squeeze in more to every minute.

Because of her special ability, the princess often over committed herself. Which increased her need to bend and manipulate time. Every time she squeezed more into a minute, her special ability lost some of its potency, which made each attempt more and more tiring and difficult.

Eventually the princess was unable to bend time. No matter how she tried she could not squeeze any more into a minute than her normal subjects could. She was exhausted, stressed and unhappy.

How often do we fall prey to the myth that we can have more hours in our day? It's impossible to have more than 24 hours in a 24 hour day. And yet we all want to stuff more and more into our days. Like me with my Office Downsize Project. Which is woefully behind. Why? Because I was over committed. I didn't take into account all the things that I had already committed to and how much time they would require of me. I didn't look at my commitments and eliminate or delegate something. I held on to them all and kept thinking, as so many of my clients do, that if I only had the right tool or the right timer or the right something I could get it all done.

I gave my Make Time To Write talk to my writing group back in October. And I was reminded that I only have 24 hours in a day. How am I spending those 24 hours and does that match up with my goals? If the answer is they don't match very well then Houston, we have a problem.

I was ill over Thanksgiving so I spent some time filling out a hypothetical calendar. I had a column of what I thought I was going to do and how much time I thought it would take me. Then over the course of the long weekend I filled in what I did and how long it really took me in another column. The results were interesting.

I had written a fairy tale in my head about how I spent my time. That it took only so much time to do certain activities and that I would get things done whether I felt like it or not. Reality was that I often got side tracked during tasks so they took much longer. The internet is a bigger detriment than I thought and if I was in the middle of a good book, I was often loathe to sacrifice reading time for doing time. The tasks I did complete were not always the tasks that had the most impact on my values and goals.

Color me gently rebuked. December has started off a little better. I'm more deliberate with my choices, or I try to be. I have taken my fibromyalgia into account and when there are environmental changes that I know are going to impact me, I pay more attention and adjust everyone's expectations - even those at work if needed. I have a running list of what I'm committed to and when things need to be accomplished and I've done a fairly decent job of updating the list daily or every other day. I've started eliminating those activities that don't serve me well if at all.

I want to rewrite my fairy tale. I love a happily ever after. In this case, the princess doesn't have the ability to bend time. Rather, she has the ability to make smart choices about her commitments and is not afraid of telling someone no or not right now. She's in control of her tasks and reviews them for efficacy and goodness of fit. Now, if she could also foresee the winning Power Ball numbers and dance as well as Ginger Rogers. I guess a girl can't have everything.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

The last week went by so quickly! I think that's because with the deep freeze moving in I started hibernating...and time always passes faster when you are asleep. *grin*

With the cold weather comes the realization that it's almost Christmas. Out came the iPod with my various Christmas/winter mixes. The following song was written as a parody and happens to be in my of my favorite Christmas movies ever! And every time I hear it I smile. When it's freaking cold out, like it is today, sometimes the extra heat you generate from a good belly laugh can be the difference between frost bite and just a little cold. If you don't know what I mean, you'll just have to trust me on this.

Today I give you a little bit of seasonal joy with Billy Mack (aka Bill Nighy) and his black horse Christmas hit from the movie Love Actually. Enjoy this cheesy, schmaltzy, totally irreverent parody of Love is All Around in the guise of a seasonal sensation - Christmas Is All Around.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dickens with a Twist

I just heard about this on the radio, and being the sci fi geek that I am thought it an intriguing train wreck of Christmas goodness. Someone translated A Christmas Carol into Klingon. I love Star Trek as much as the next person, and Worf was one of my all time favorite characters. I think he should have ended up with Troi instead of whatsherface on Deep Space Nine. I think the complexities of this Klingon raised by humans were amazing in their depth and gave the writers of the show an exceptional vehicle with which to explore so many areas of humanity.

That said, I'm not sure I want to see Dickens performed in the made-up language of the fictional Klingon race. And yet, that is just what one theater company in Minnesota has decided to do. One reviewer has described the Klingon adaptation as:
[a]dapted for the proud and war-loving Klingons, this production features no sermonizing about the triumph of charity and goodness over penny-pinching and miserliness. Instead, the story has a Klingon-appropriate story arc and moral: SQuja' (the Klingon Scrooge) has no courage and no honor; the three spirits are on a mission to turn the cowardly protagonist into a fierce warrior. The performance is almost entirely in tlhIngnan Hol, the Klingon language that sounds suspiciously like coughing up a lung.
I have to admit I'm intrigued. Not enough to pay money to go see a play in Klingon (even though they do have English titles projected above the stage). It's amazing just how far someone will go to immerse themselves in a fictional world, isn't it? Well, I wish the actors well and have this feeling it will be well attended by the Trekkie faithful. Live long and prosper. And Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 04, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

There's a song making it's way through the air waves of America. It sounds peppy and upbeat. It talks about fireflies and what could be more whimsical than those sultry lightening bugs? When the song plays I see people bop at the desks, sway on the street. Every one has a little lilt to their step.

I did to, still do when I hear the song on the radio. The music really grabs me and makes me want to smile. Then I listen closely to the lyrics. They aren't really upbeat. They are more puzzling then peppy. And sound to me like the late night ponderings of someone who likes to live in that in between place before sleep, someone who might have odd and disturbing dreams and who relies on these fireflies to keep him safe by surrounding him with their whimsy.

Of course, I may be reading way too much into the lyrics. They could simply be an interstellar recipe for soup.

I do like this song. Apparently, so does Mallory's friend Jason. Jason is the main male character in Mallory's story. He's a man of the cloth who is dealing with a crisis of identity and faith. This song shows how on the outside he's the same man he's always been but on the inside he's dealing with things that are unsettling and looking for that anchor to hold him in the storm. He's also looking for a way to reconcile two different desires within himself. Aren't we all? :-)

I had a hard time reaching into Jason's character until I had listened to this song a few hundred times at work while it was on continuous loop at someone's desk. Amazing how inspiration comes from almost anywhere, isn't it?

On today's Soundtrack Friday I give you Owl City and their latest hit Fireflies. If you haven't heard the song yet, where on earth have you been hiding? I mean, it is literally everywhere!

Enjoy the pep and dance a little in your chair today while you listen. Sometimes you just need to tap your toes to know all is well.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Books Read in November

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead -- A great start to an urban fantasy series where you just aren't sure if the heroine and the potential hero will ever work out since she will suck the life force out of him if they ever consummate the relationship. Lots of great references to mythology and religion.

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher -- I ::heart:: Jim Butcher! His Harry Dresden series is always a delight and with events in Turn Coat I'm more curious than ever about where the series is going. Another gripping read!

Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl -- Lynn gave us the Darkyn series, her take on the vampire mythology paired with science, as only Lynn can. Shadowlight is the beginning of a spin off series about the Kyndred, those genetically altered humans who have the ability to become Kyndred without dying and who have unique traits all their own. This book was a wonderful bridge between the two series and leaves me rooting for the Kyn on both sides of the genetic code.

Can't Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards -- A fun book about food, restaurants, and finding yourself that was a delight to read. Entertaining and hilarious with enough poignancy to really pull the reader in. I will definitely read the next book Louisa writes!

Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis -- Jill offers a sexy and entertaining contemporary romance that hits the spot with book 2 of her Wilder Brothers trilogy. When I'm in the mood for a good romance, I turn to Jill. Nuff said.

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts -- Book two of Nora's Brides Quartet is a fun book. Not as much conflict as I usually like, but a great story about sisterhood and falling in love.

Eyes like Stars by Lisa Mantchev -- The theater literally comes alive in this first book of the Young Adult Théâtre Illuminata series. A wonderful story about belonging and becoming amidst the chaos and camaraderie of the world of the theater.

Mountain Investigation by Jessica Andersen -- A nice light read that is what it is and nothing more - a short romantic suspense that centers on two people tossed together because of danger and intrigue. Harlequin Intrigue does it right when I'm in the mood for romance amidst, well, intrigue.

Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery -- The final book in Susan Mallery's Titan Sisters series is a great ending to a roller coaster ride. Susan does a great job of redeeming the hero and bringing a family together despite their history.

Burn by Linda Howard -- Burn is more suspense light than romantic suspense and while it feels implausible, the characters save the plot and kept me reading. I actually would like a sequel just so I can see what happens next.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer - I wasn't that thrilled with the first Crusie/Mayer collaboration. It was okay but felt much more Crusie than collaborative. This book has a great blend of voices and talent and even though it's on the lighter side and things happen quickly, the story sucked me right in and kept me entertained as well as guessing.