Archive for December, 2009

LIFE: Making Resolutions

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

It’s the time of year where many people make New Year’s Resolutions about changes they want to make in their life in the coming year.  In reality we can make a “fresh start” any day of the year, but in our culture there is so much emphasis on this at the New Year that it’s a perfect time to stop and take stock.

It’s very healthy to take some time to look back over your year, remind yourself of the successes and failures, and think about your life in this broad perspective.  I take out my new calendar and transfer birthdays and anniversaries as I reminisce about the year I’ve just finished.

noteHowever, instead of “resolutions” I write down a list of “Goals.”  Resolutions tend to be broken, and the word comes with the baggage of a goal that is likely to fail.  Therefore I create a list of “goals” each year of things I want to work on, improve, or accomplish.  It’s not a set of iron cast momentous plans to weigh me down, but simply a way to keep my life moving forward and improving.

Many gurus suggest that you keep your list of goals at your desk and review it each morning before starting to work for the day.  This can keep you focused on the big picture and away from things which are either hurting you or distracting you.

While working on your goals for the coming year, it’s also very interesting to look at past years’ lists of goals, particularly the list for the year just ending, and see if you were able to accomplish any of them…or if they were even goals you still cared about a year later.

This process is not for everyone, but I find it empowering and motivating.  I want each year, and each day, to be happier and more successful, and having a list of goals keeps me on track and moving in the direction I have chosen for my life.  Whether you make resolutions or goals, enjoy the process and Happy New Year!

LIFE: Happy to be Dreaming

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

I was recently reminded that in many ways I’m not typical.   I know that I have written a lot of posts on this blog about “following your dream” and “pursuing your passion” and “not letting anyone deter you from reaching your goals.”  There is no question that I feel passionately about these topics.

TimLeeColosseum09But I was reminded recently that not everyone has goals, plans or ambitions.  And certainly not everyone has a passion in their life.  I feel so very fortunate to have a number of things in my life that I’m passionate about, but I sometimes forget that this is not true for everyone.

There are people who simply go through life seeing what happens and taking life as it comes to them.  Of course, if you don’t work to take your life in a particular direction, then you’re going to get whatever happens to fall upon you.  In other words, you end up with a typical, average life experience.

This is fine for many people, but I was never one to be happy with a “C”.  The average life experience is one of lack, hardship, low expectations, illness, and boredom.  How could anyone accept this kind of life?  Unfortunately, millions do, but we don’t have to be among them.

Now I should admit that this philosophy is not for everyone, and it is possible to live a successful and happy life with a different attitude.  Many people have taken a more passive approach and moved through life with success and happiness in their wake.  I’m just sharing my own personal approach.

As you look toward the new year and think about your goals (or resolutions) for the coming 12 months, make sure and take a moment to be thankful that you have goals, ambitions, passions, and aspirations for something better.  Then keep those goals in your mind and keep moving forward to a better, happier, EXCEPTIONAL life!

FITNESS: More Inspiration

Friday, December 18th, 2009

It is always inspiring to learn the story of someone who has accomplished something amazing.  The field of fitness and bodybuilding is filled with individuals who defied the odds to accomplish their dreams.

Namat10YearsMany a skinny guy has gone on to become a bodybuilding champion.  As these pictures of Steve Namat attest, amazing things are possible.  It never fails to amaze and inspire me to see such jaw-dropping progress.

We must remember that implicit in these pictures are hours and hours of very hard work.   It took Steve 10 years to build this physique.  Incredible amounts of energy and passion have gone into making changes like this.  In order to accomplish this kind of transformation, Steve had to invest all of his substance and devote all of his being.  Lots of time, energy, money, sweat, blood, and heartache are behind this accomplishment.

Not everyone can make these kinds of changes, but we can all make dramatic transformations in our lives and our physiques.  Use these pictures of Steve Namat, along with many others like them, to keep yourself charged up and energized to keep working toward your goals.  Wow, what an amazing achievement!  Now….what will YOU accomplish?

LIFE: The Kindness of Strangers

Monday, December 14th, 2009
Reaching for the Stars2

My teacher, Dr. Kennedy Shultz, once told one of his favorite Christmas stories.  He was a young man in New York City and, as he put it, “was over the whole Christmas thing.”  He was single and had no family nearby, and really just wanted to avoid all of the hassles of the season and spend a quiet Christmas alone.

On Christmas day he went out looking for a place to have lunch and ended up in one of his favorite restaurants, a classic New York City Jewish Deli.  Of course, this was one of the only places open on Christmas Day.  When he entered he noticed that the restaurant was full of other single men, eating alone all throughout the restaurant.  No one really made eye contact, either too embarrassed or just not wanting to interact with fellow diners.  Ken had a nice meal, and then got up to pay the cashier.

When he arrived at the cash register, the young lady behind the counter told him, “Oh, you don’t have to pay.  Someone else paid for your meal.  They asked to be anonymous.”  Ken was astounded, staring blankly at her for some time as he tried to register what she had said.  As he walked out of the restaurant and into the cold New York air, he was overcome by this simple gesture, actually breaking into tears as he walked along the sidewalk on his way home.

The simple gift of a stranger on Christmas Day touched him more than any lavish or elaborate gift he had ever received throughout his life on this holiday.  It’s easy to forget the impact that a bit of simple kindness can have on our fellow citizens of the world.  A smile in passing, a polite yielding in traffic, or even just holding the door for someone can make a difference in someone’s day that we’ll never know.  And a simple gesture like buying someone lunch in a Jewish Deli on Christmas Day can change someone’s life forever.

FITNESS: Tell Someone!

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

There is a tendency to want to keep our fitness goals secret.  It’s true that not everyone will support your goals and desires to change your physique, your health, and your life.  But one of the best ways to stay on track with a goal is to tell someone!

1504862224_lWe all have someone in our life who we can trust to understand and support us, no matter what our passion or desires may be.  Find that person and share your fitness goals with them.  This gives the goal an amazing amount of new power!  Simply sharing it with someone makes it much more real and, most importantly, makes you accountable to someone to accomplish it!

Find someone who you can be accountable to, and see if they will agree to be your “monitor.”  This is someone who you check in with weekly or biweekly or even monthly to report on your progress.  Did you get to the gym for each planned workout?  Did you stick to a diet plan?  Did you ride your bike or swim those laps as planned?  Many people find great extra motivation in being accountable to someone.  They are more likely to stick to their plan and not take days off if they know they have to report to someone.

Sometimes a gym buddy can be this person and you can take on this role for each other.  That way you are not only exercising together but also supporting each other all the way.  Or simply share your goals with a friend, and then support them in their life goals as they support you in yours.  Breathe life into your desires and goals by sharing them with a trusted friend or family member.  This will propel you on with greater power and enthusiasm, having their support and good wishes at your back.

BOOKS: Dombey and Son

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Charles Dickens is my favorite author, and each novel I read causes my admiration to grow more and more.  “Dombey and Son” is a somber, moody book which is relentless in its exploration of greed and pride.

Dombey_&_Son_Phiz_detail_small_sLike a great 90 minute symphony, this book is a slow progression of story and mood that builds over 600 pages to a climax so chilling that I kept gasping aloud.  Reading some of these Dickens novels can be a test of patience, but I have yet to not feel rewarded for my efforts.  His deliberate and brilliant prose builds slowly over successive chapters toward a conclusion that we have been dreading for hundreds of pages.  And yet even being pulled through the ringer by this master writer feels satisfying as the impact of his message is so brilliantly constructed and devised.

Master Dombey of “Dombey and Son” is a study in pride and arrogance.  His negligence of his daughter, Florence (the true heroine of this book), is heart-breaking and maddening.  The many scenes where Florence pines for the love of her neglectful father and feels somehow responsible …sneaking downstairs to simply listen at the door for his breathing and hoping he might suddenly appear and hug her for once in her life… these moments are as heartbreaking as any I have ever experienced in any book.

In a master stroke, Dickens pairs Dombey with a “trophy wife” who surprises him by being as prideful as himself, and the great battle of the book ensues.  Caught in the crossfires are the usual cast of colorful characters that we always expect from Dickens.

Included are such delightful characters as Capt. Cuttle (never was such a colorful sea captain ever seen in the pages of a book!), Doctor Blimber, another in a long line of inept and pompous schoolmasters, Mrs. Blimber, who constantly laments that she never knew Cicero, and the lovable Mr. Toots, whose unrequited love gives him to say things like “If I could be run over–or– or trampled upon — or– or thrown off a very high place — or anything of that sort — for Miss Dombey’s sake, it would be the most delightful thing that could happen to me.”

The villian, the endlessly creepy Mr. Carker with his giant teeth and horrible smile, is maligned for being the ultimate brown-noser and suck-up.  His pretensions and fake intentions are the most horrible thing in a book full of neglect and shame, saying alot about Dickens’ feelings toward businessmen of this nature!

Overall, “Dombey and Son” is a somber book with many sad characters and events, but which all add up to a worthwhile and rewarding read.  It’s simply enjoyable to read Dickens’ brilliant prose, even if your foot shakes with impatience or the chill bumps attack each time Mr. Carker appears on the page.  It’s another brilliant novel by the author I admire above all others.

MUSIC: Get it Off your Plate!

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

You would think that the end of the marching band season would bring rest and relaxation for band directors around the country, but the exact opposite seems to be true.  Directors find themselves busier than ever with Holiday Concerts, parades and appearances, Region and County All-State auditions, Fruit Sales and deliveries….the list goes on and on.

Even with all of this, I encourage directors and their staff members to stay diligent and accomplish one other important task: Decide on your show concept and music for next season.  The best reason to get this done is to simply “get it off your plate” so that when you return after the New Year you can give your full attention to Concert Band and teaching your students to play their best.  This is really the best way to improve your marching band scores, anyway.

Add to this mix Winter Guard and Indoor Drumline shows to write and teach and it becomes clear that getting the marching show decision made is very important.

Decide on your 2010 show music before the holiday break.  This allows your music arranger / composer to get started early, meaning you’ll get your finished music earlier, which in turn allows your percussion writer and guard staff to get an early start on their plans also.

Do yourself a favor and get the show decided NOW so that you can move on to focus on other things.   Get it off your plate, and then get all that great holiday food ONTO your plate with less worries and distractions!

MUSIC: New Concert March

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

I’ve written a new concert march, entitled “March of the Insecure.”  You can hear a computer recording at this website by clicking on “Concert Band Services” and then clicking on the title in the built-in MP3 player.

The new march is a Grade 4 to 5 concert piece in 6/8 time.  The opening of the piece plays with the ideas of insecurity before building toward a more traditional march format.  The piece is getting “test runs” at several bands now to get some “live feedback” before the music is finalized and published.  Anyone interested in acquiring a copy of the march should contact me by clicking on the “contact Tim” link on this website or via direct email at

The premiere performance of this march will be December 15 with the Newsome High School Band, Lithia, Florida.

Hope you enjoy giving the new march a listen!

FITNESS: Ignore those who don’t support you

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Unfortunately, we don’t always get a lot of support when we start a fitness program.  Our friends and family might not understand our desires or might think we’re strange for wanting certain things. “You really want 19 inch biceps?  What, are you CRAZY?”  “You look fine with a few extra pounds, don’t be so obsessive.” “All those muscles are gross.  Go for a swimmer’s build.”

Of course, everyone is viewing life through their own filter, and anyone who would say these things has their own fears and agenda that they are putting on this situation.  It can be intimidating and threatening to a spouse or partner if we start to look really good and sexy.  Plus it can make them self-conscious about their own weight or health issues.

Friends may like you the way you are, or feel threatened by your changes.  This comes from their own insecurities, of course, and it’s not uncommon to lose friends when you get your life together and make positive changes.  In the long run these are friends you probably need to lose, but it can still be sad to see a friend leave your life.

Begovic (c8eab2d5)2But be assured that new friends will find their way into your life.  Seek out positive people with similar goals or life attitudes.  These are the people you need to surround yourself with.

It can take a lot of will-power and focused drive to stay on track and move past negative voices.  But don’t let anyone dissuade you from moving forward with your goals.  It’s your life, your goals, and you should follow your own dream and build the physique or accomplish any goal that you desire.  Be bold and make it happen!

LIFE: Success has a Cost

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

One of my favorite stories, told my my teacher Dr. Kennedy Shultz, is the story of the “Plotnick Diamond.”

Mrs. Plotnick went to a party and her friend commented on the very large dazzling diamond she was wearing around her neck.  When asked, Mrs. Plotnick explained that this was the “Plotnick Diamond” and although it was very beautiful, it also came with the Plotnick Curse.  Her friend asked, “Why, what is the Plotnick Curse?”  To which Mrs. Plotnick answered, “Mr. Plotnick.”

phantom-regimentEverything comes with a cost.  Any amount of success in any field requires sacrifices of many kinds.  A great musician spends hour upon hour practicing their instrument.  (Malcolm Gladwell says it requires 10,000 hours to achieve mastery!)  A master teacher has spent countless hours in the classroom, in addition to furthering their education by taking classes or observing other teachers to learn how to be most effective and inspiring.

Anyone who achieves a high level of fitness has spent many hours in the gym or at their given sport.  While the rest of the world may be sitting in front of a television or wasting hours on unproductive activities, the successful person is lifting weights, shooting baskets, practicing their violin, or writing and revising a music score.

Alexey Shabuny 10So do the rewards of success justify the cost?  Are the hours spent and the hard work, sweat, and heartache worth the success achieved?  Every individual must answer this question for themselves, but I think that the great majority of successful people would say that it WAS worth it.

Find your passion and pursue it with all of your being.  Keep focused, keep your goal in your mind, and make smart decisions about what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve these goals.

The 18 inch arms may not be worth the time spent away from your family.  Making the Olympic team may not justify the “lost childhood” for some athletes.  There’s nothing wrong with taking a more balanced approach and moderating your goals to fit into a realistic life plan.  But if you decide to prioritize and pursue your dream, the rewards will almost assuredly be worth the cost and the sense of achievement and pride you receive is a treasure that no one can take from you.