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Category: Life

Be Actively Passionate

One thing I have learned from being a business owner and performer is to be actively passionate about what I do. I love playing the piano in front of a crowd. I love the energy that crowd gives back to me. I even have a business doing what I love. But simply loving all of it is not enough. Sometimes headaches arise. Sometimes I have to deal with people whose energy wants to bring me down. That’s when I have to remind myself to be actively passionate – to let my passion boil through to the surface, swim in it, and show it. If I’m not excited about what I’m doing, how can I expect anyone else to be. Don’t be passionate. Do passionate. Let people see and feel what gets you going. Be an evangelist for your loves in life.

I know not everyone has a job they are passionate about, but find something in your life that wakes you up. Is it cooking? sports? The Walking Dead? Let people know what you are wild about. The world could do with a little more passion, so spread it around.

-Josh

What are you passionate about? Comment below!

Sweat the Small Stuff

You get to make hundreds of little decisions every day – no one is going to make them all the same as you. Every single one is a celebration of the uniqueness of you. So don’t stress. Don’t get bogged down in the decision-making. When little things go wrong (and they will), let it go. Learn from your mistakes and move on, but you have got to make yourself available to the little things because sometimes they go right. Take pride in small victories throughout the day and you will be happier for it. Look for joy in those little things in life. Celebrate them. If you spend all your time chasing the Big Picture, you are going to miss a lot of beauty in the world, so why not sweat the small stuff. Maybe “sweat” is the wrong word. Embrace the small stuff, because the small stuff is usually what makes life worth living.

-Josh

The Nods

A previous post was about starting the day off with a productive morning routine (here), but as the day chugs along, energy drops. Big time. It happens to me somewhere around 2 or 2:30pm. I hit a wall. Here are a few things I do to help get through the dip.

  1. Make some tea. The shift from doing work to the ritual of making tea helps shake the clouds from my mind a bit. The hot tea wakes up my senses. Plus, if I’m going to be up all night at a show, I’ll make a caffeinated tea.
  2. Meditate. This can really focus my thoughts and wake up my senses. I try to go full lotus when I meditate so that my body doesn’t relax too much. Fifteen minutes is a perfect amount of time to get recharged for the rest of the day. I’ll have a post later on about the specific process I use to meditate.
  3. Take a power nap. This is the big one! If you have the luxury of working from home, or are able to slip away from work without reprisal, grab a nap. I set the timer on my phone for twenty minutes and lie in the bed and relax. It usually takes me anywhere from five to ten minutes to fall asleep, and I awaken really charged up. CAUTION: nap for too long and you run the risk of feeling drowsy when you wake up – twenty minutes is perfect for me.

We all hate getting “the nods” in the afternoon and feeling like we can’t be productive. Take the hint. Get up (or lie down) and do something about it.

-Josh

What do you do to make it over the afternoon hump? Let everyone know in the comments.

I Thought It Was Clever

[Turns out Facebook doesn’t think an article with yesterday’s title is worth sharing (it appeared on fewer than ten timelines – usually it’s in the hundreds)! I’m not going to even include the name in this post, just in case the anti-spam algorithm searches the text of a blog post, too. You can check it out for yourself in the archives. Anyways, here’s the post from yesterday whose title Facebook didn’t care for.] -Josh


[title redacted]

Read, read, read! Keep those grey cells healthy and multiplying.

One resource you may not be taking advantage of is your local library’s e-book services. Here in Madison, our library uses the OverDrive app for e-book borrowing. All of the books that are available through OverDrive (and there are thousands) can be read directly from the in-app reader, and -get this- most of them can be downloaded straight to your Kindle! You get the book for twenty-one days and can renew it if no one is waiting for it. There are many new releases represented on the virtual shelf, and you have the ability to request that new titles be added to the service as resources become available (“resources” = “money.” There is a voluntary donation button in the app.). For those who lean more toward the aural experience, there are a bunch of audiobooks through the service, too. Did I mention that all of this is free‽ What are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Call To Action – Head over to your library or to their website and see if there is an e-book service available for you. Keep reading!

-Josh

Free E-books! (really)

Read, read, read! Keep those grey cells healthy and multiplying.

One resource you may not be taking advantage of is your local library’s e-book services. Here in Madison, our library uses the OverDrive app for e-book borrowing. All of the books that are available through OverDrive (and there are thousands) can be read directly from the in-app reader, and -get this- most of them can be downloaded straight to your Kindle! You get the book for twenty-one days and can renew it if no one is waiting for it. There are many new releases represented on the virtual shelf, and you have the ability to request that new titles be added to the service as resources become available (“resources” = “money.” There is a voluntary donation button in the app.). For those who lean more toward the aural experience, there are a bunch of audiobooks through the service, too. Did I mention that all of this is free‽ What are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Call To Action – Head over to your library or to their website and see if there is an e-book service available for you. Keep reading!

-Josh

Pen and Paper

field notesThere is still plenty of room for physical creative tools in today’s digital world. The weight of a pen and the touch of paper can sometimes be the best conduit for getting ideas out of your head, and for recording and exchanging that most precious and ephemeral of commodities – information. I whip out the notepad whenever I need to make a quick drawing, sketch out a map, or simply to jot down an idea to flesh out later. Something like Evernote or Google Keep can be good for the next step of informational organization, but for the raw idea dump, you can’t beat pen and paper.

I have recently fallen in love with a line of notebooks from a company in Chicago called “Field Notes.” The memo books are the perfect size for slipping into a pocket and are extremely durable. Plus, their mantra of “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now” rings especially true to me. In my line of work, for instance, the best method of memorizing lyrics is to simply write them down. The combination of thinking about something and physically recording it at the same time somehow really cements the information in your skull.

I pair my notebook with the Fisher Space Pen. Yeah, it can write upside down, etc., but it’s the form factor that makes it a winner in my book. The small size when capped is completely unnoticeable in my front pants pocket, and the pen extends to make it a convenient writing size.

Paper is lightweight, never runs out of batteries, and if it’s well-made, can even stand up to the elements. Grab a sheet and keep writing, my friends!

-Josh

Morning Routine

The morning is the best time for getting things done. Your mind is fresh, your body is restored from sleep, and everything seems new. Why not take advantage of the morning every day.

Here’s the morning routine I wish I could stick to. I have designed it around self-improvement and sparking creativity. I’ve been getting better, and every time I do it I feel amazing, but sometimes lazy Josh wins, and I just head out to the neighborhood cafe without challenging my body or mind at all.

I begin each day with my normal hygiene regimen. One thing I’m still trying to puzzle out is how to do good note-taking in the shower, because I’ll be damned if that’s not where I do some of my best thinking! Any suggestions in the comments below would be most welcome.

Next, I start my water heating up for tea and start my workout. I have been trying an app called the 7-minute workout (Google Play Store), and it’s been great. The workout is in thirty-second increments, so when the water is ready, it’s easy to pause the workout and start my tea steeping. (Pro tip – I had been doing it barefooted, and I wound up hurting myself – wear shoes, people!)

The workout over and tea prepared, I throw on the day’s clothes and grab the morning paper. I prefer to only read the local and state section, as well as the editorials. I keep up with national and world news online fairly well, but the newspaper is tops for the local beat! I sit in my favorite chair in front of a south-facing window, soak some sun, sip my tea, and read the paper. Perfect morning.

Off to work!
-Josh

Onstage Energy

Is this familiar? You are lying in bed or sitting on the couch or driving to work and you just don’t feel like “bringing it” today. You’d rather lay low and fire up the Netflix. Are you ready to have your mind blown? I’ve had that feeling too. Yes, seriously! I know!!!! We have so much in common!

It doesn’t matter if you’re heading into the office or walking onto the stage, sometimes you’re just not feeling it. There’s a mantra for that. “Fake it til you make it.” Get up there, smile, and lie through your goddamned teeth. Throw yourself at the moment. Then the next, and then the next. Hell, tell yourself that you’re having fun. Believe me – our brains are pretty dumb when it comes to this kind of thing.

Here’s an exercise for you to try the next time you are feeling just plain neutral – not down, not up. Straighten up either sitting or standing, take a healthy breath (from down low in your gut), and hold a smile for ten seconds. I know you feel stupid. Shut up. As the ten seconds progress, I want you to take that weak-ass smile (oh I can see you) and gradually extend it first to your eyes (good – it’s getting more believable) then finally to your ears (just do it – you’ll feel what I mean when you try). See! You feel better already! You don’t? Well it works for me sometimes. Just fake it til you make it!

Do you have any tricks to get yourself going when you’re not feeling it?

-Josh

[Side note (or is this a footnote?) – after writing this post and going through the exercise as I wrote the steps, I went back to the top to start reading it back. That’s when I added the silly “yeah, I know” bit with all the exclamation points. My energy had actually been lifted by doing the exercise while writing this! Crazy, right‽]

-I am not saying that this trick can take you from sad to happy, nor is it any kind of treatment for any depression. It is simply a way to give yourself a little bump – a little pump priming to get you over that first hill. Chances are you’ll get rolling from there, but there are always bigger hills, and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to talk to a professional therapist or counselor if you need to.

Always Be Learning

I think that we have a responsibility to society as a whole to constantly be trying to improve ourselves. When one person learns, we all learn. When you sit down and read a book, our average intelligence as a species goes up a tick. Think about that – it’s true! You are making all of humanity better and adding a little bit of grey matter to your own head in the process. Altruism and selfishness – sweet! One thing I will be sharing on this site is the myriad resources available so you can sit down and learn something you didn’t know before. In the meantime, get your learn on!

-Josh

Write Every Day

I am not a good writer. I happily admit it. But I do know the secret to becoming a better writer, and it’s kind of what this website thing is all about. Are you ready? To become a better writer – write. Write every day. Your brain is like a muscle, and like any muscle, it can’t get stronger unless it’s worked out. Of course reading a lot and studying others’ thoughts on writing can help, but nothing gets you better faster than sitting down and doing it every day (at least I hope so!).

For example, when I first started songwriting, it was a real struggle. It was difficult to flesh out any ideas I had, lyrics came painfully slow, and it was all pretty cheesy at the end of the day. But guess what. The more I did it – the more I sat down and made myself try to come up with something – ANYTHING – the easier it became. I started writing songs I was proud of and that other people wanted to hear… hear multiple times! I even accomplished a personal life goal of mine and released an album (iTunes, CDBaby). [Quick side note – when I did a Google search to find the links for my album, I discovered that someone is selling a used one that I had signed. Haha! That really tickles me for some reason. Here it is if you want it – Amazon.]

Call to action – If you have something you want to accomplish, don’t just take the first steps. Dive in. Everyone knows the best way to learn a new language is through total immersion. It’s no different with learning to do anything else. (Disclaimer – maybe not ANYTHING else. This is probably not the best method for learning lion taming, for instance)

Have you discovered any tips and tricks for improving your own writing? Share it with everyone in the comments.

-Josh