Boundaries, Imperfection, Self-Care

Bells and Whistles

Today, I started the process learning a new app to which I recently I subscribed. Finding out how it works; what are its bells and whistles? As I attempted to connect the app to a different program I use, I was prompted to upgrade (and pay more). The bells and whistles are doled out at different price levels.  

How badly did I want the integration? At that moment, it seemed really important. If nothing else, it would have offered a sweet dopamine hit in the ‘ol neuroreceptors. It’s the same dilemma that presents itself anytime I buy a phone, computer, or other sundry gadget. It’s what do I need versus what I want.  

Tonight, I held back. I’ve spent the last week or so paring a lot of bells and whistles out of my life. I talk a lot about being able to define what is “enough” for myself. It’s really important to know what I’ll use, and what I actually need. (And in the end it was more than I wanted to spend). 

But I wanted the bells and whistles really bad.   

Success! You’re on the list.

The Serenity Prayer Problem

You’ll likely know The Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

The problem is in the final caveat: How and where do I gain the wisdom to know the difference?

I think Ben Bergeron suggested an answer on Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism” podcast.


He suggested a person who complains, is nearly always complaining about something out of their control. Does this mean I shouldn’t complain? Not necessarily, after all complaining could be a signal to let me know something is out of my control. What I might do if I find myself complaining is ask myself how I might accept what is happening, (or how I might act to change it).

Success! You’re on the list.
Songwriting, The Song Well, Tunesday

Tunesday: Sept. 8th: The Good Times Are Here

Every Tunesday I post a boldly imperfect, one-take song draft of a song.

Success! You’re on the list.

Can’t sleep tonight
for the roses in my sheets
Can’t sleep tonight
For the thorns my soul does keep
The highway is all backed up
The devil’s toasting cheers
The good times are here

Don’t want to fight
with the rise of the levee
Don’t want to fight
with the boiling of the sea
I’d rather season all my french fries
with the saline from my tears
The good times are here

The moonlight is a mule
Caffeine espresso fuel
My cupboard’s dreams are bare
I want sleep but sleep don’t care

I can’t sleep tonight
I’m locked out in the cold
I can’t sleep tonight
I’m a weed on a side road
I don’t have to find my way home
but I ain’t sleeping here
The good times are here

The orchestra is playing
And banjos are all I hear
The good times are here.

Boundaries, Resistance

Reading the News

One of the lessons of Tiny Habits is to simply watch what I’m already doing, (without judgment) and build on that. This is a way of looking at where my motivations lie. (It’s also a lesson of from animal trainers—try as I might, climbing a tree is a behavior I’m not likely to elicit from a seal).   

Interesting things that come out of this. For instance, in my mind, I’d love to be someone who doesn’t read the news. There’s a lot of judgment and effort I’ve put into not reading the news. 

Yet, I still do it daily.  

I’ve found I can build habits into my life that preclude reading so much news, and also that I actually just enjoy reading the news.  

There’s a chance I just haven’t tripped over the correct approach to excluding news from my life. There’s also a really good chance that all the judgment and shame I lay on myself over my news reading habit is just wasted energy.   

Music Theory, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Saturday Songwriting: Road and Weeds

We all struggle from time to time with doing the work we’d like to do. It’s hard to find time to write. It’s easy to fritter away an hour or two on Facebook while intending to write. Beating ourselves up when we don’t use our time the way we’d like to is easy too. (Saying it doesn’t help much to beat myself up has rarely stopped me from doing it). So what’s the answer?  

I think one answer is in BJ Fogg’s, “Tiny Habits,” (which I talked about a little last week here). 

The question he poses goes something like this: 

What’s the tiny, nearly effortless step you can take which could work as a catalyst to get you started?  

One of his examples is flossing one tooth. Another is doing two pushups. When he does either of those things, he celebrates, which helps encode the behavior that his brain should repeat (and celebrate more). There’s a lot more scaffolding BJ talks about to support and build the habits we want in our lives, but it’s pretty much that simple.   

1. Find a habit you’re already doing that could naturally lead into the habit you’d like to add into your life. (He calls the current habit an anchor). 

2. Find a tiny behavior that supports that habit, like flossing one tooth—something so small you don’t need to be motivated to do it. Then do it. 

3. Celebrate performing that behavior.  

Which leads to the question, what is a tiny habit you might use to start writing a song? Email them to me, I’d love to know how you plan to get started. (Celebrate having doing one before you email me).  

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Denise Antaya’s image, Puddles

The Musical Idea: