Words in My Head

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Tag: music

Staying Positive in a Whirlwind

Mid-life crisis or not, it doesn’t change the fact that my life is caught in a perpetual whirlwind of commitments. School events. Soccer. Street Petz. Work. Crossfit. And then I get whatever’s left, though there usually isn’t much left.

So how do I stay positive and cheerful in the midst of the howling tornado raging around me? Damn good question.

Here’s a few things I’m working on and a few others I want to do more frequently.

Gratitude. I’m working on getting a bit of gratitude practice into every day. Some days it works. Some days it doesn’t. Some days I forget. But focusing on the things that go right rather than the ones that don’t definitely helps a bit change the narrative from “today was a shitty day” to “this happened and it was a good thing.” A subtle shift, but an important one.

Endorphins. Honestly I think without the endorphins released during Crossfit workouts I’d be in a lot worse shape than I already am — literally and figuratively. I can tell on the days I don’t work out that something is missing. Pushing myself physically releases a great natural high that I have come to enjoy and depend on for a boost during my day. I just wish my body (and schedule) could handle working out daily vs. the 3-5 workouts I fit in already.

And yes, I’m aware that sounds a bit like an addiction. But isn’t a healthy addiction preferable to other ways to get a high?

Escape. I love reading a good book — especially what I term “bubblegum” fiction. Those are the stories that are just fun to read and don’t require a ton of extra thought to comprehend. I enjoy media in that same way, preferring stuff that entertains me and gives me that escape. Unfortunately I watch far too much TV (it’s an easy trap) and catch far too few movies (more difficult to squeak into the schedule). And I don’t spend enough time enjoying good music the way I used to.

Perhaps it’s time to adjust media consumption a bit more.

Creativity. Writing. Yes, you knew that had to come in here. I need to do more. Some is personal, like this drivel. 🙂 Other bits are for games I’m working on. And I’d really like to get back to trying some fiction. I’m awful at it, but it only gets better with practice.

Same with drawing. At some point in my childhood I decided I was a crap artist and just… stopped. I want to start again to entertain that part of my soul again.

Music. That would also be good. My guitar is collecting dust. I thought by leaving it beside my desk it would get more use… Nope. Time to clean it up and warble along slightly out of tune again.

And games. Damn I forgot how much fun it is to play a role-playing game on a regular basis and guide the story. Doesn’t mean I know where it’s going to end up. This is collaborative storytelling, folks… A group of people enjoying a shared tale and seeing where it goes. Never tried it?  You should! Even crazy things like Cards Against Humanity can really liven up an evening and raise the laughter levels.

Do you notice how a lot of these activities are solo? That’s the introvert in me and why I’m so thankful for the ones that aren’t. When I lived alone, I spent a lot of my time lonely. Now I’m hardly ever lonely because I have a family and friends. But crossfit and gaming are not solo activities and have pulled me out of that realm. Sharing some of these other things may do the same.

So how do YOU stay positive and cheerful in the maelstrom of your lives? Curious people want to know (read: me!). Leave comments!

Review: La La Land

We’ve managed to see a few films over this Christmas break. Rogue One. Collateral Beauty. And the girls saw Sing. And now, for Mickey’s birthday, we went to see La La Land staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

Essentially this is the Hollywood story. An aspiring actress, Mia (Emma Stone) works as a barista serving drinks to movie stars while she auditions endlessly, never getting a callback. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) plays jazz piano and has dreams of opening a jazz club in Los Angeles. They bump into one another, have a love affair, and eventually attain the dreams they worked so hard to achieve — but in separate lives.

Neither Gosling nor Stone has a fantastic voice. But even so, the strongest part of the film was the music. As a fan of jazz, I hope this movie sparks some interest in this genre of music. There are some amazing arrangements and performances throughout, including some music from John Legend that I didn’t mind.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the songs with Gosling and Stone. You could tell they had fun with it. And there was an innocence or organic nature to many of the singing and dancing numbers.

But there were far too many parts of the film where I just closed my eyes and waited for the music to start again. One particular scene where the two characters were having an argument seemed to last forever. And in an already long film (a little more than 2 hours), I thought they could have done better with the story parts.

There were quite a few moments that looked great and sounded great too. Any time the main characters were doing their singing and dancing thing, I was engaged.

But the best part for me was how they captured what a composer puts into a song towards the end. From the first note to the last, there was meaning and story. Musical phrases linked to moments in their own lives. Lyrics and licks that tell tales through melody, rhythm, and pacing. And the story ends with the last note.

I really wanted to like this film more. Musical film is rare these days. Some of the better ones from the last few years include Into the Woods, Enchanted, Across the Universe, and Moulin Rouge. And I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones I can remember.

The story from each of those (except for the creepy Johnny Depp wolf in Into the Woods) held up better for me than the one in La La Land.

But I’ll still buy the soundtrack. 🙂

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