Archive for January, 2013

Taking Time to Take Care

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

In the last 6 weeks we've had three surgeries and 2 funerals.  Understandably, we're exhausted.  Of course, life moves on and we have plenty we have to do.  Someone has to clean the house, shop for groceries, and of course go to work.  This kind of upheaval tends to make one stop and think about what's important, access what really needs to be done, and also take time to figure out how to make it through!

Gus CuddleWe all need to rejuvenate ourselves.  This can be simple, like taking a few minutes to read, watch a TV show, or enjoy a nice slow meal with a friend.  Get a massage, exercise, pamper yourself with a spa afternoon, go shopping!  And… There have been evenings when just sitting with Gus for a few minutes would do more good for my soul than anything else.

Here's hoping the challenges of 2013 slow down and we can get back to normal.  Until then, I'll be conscious of taking time to take care, including plenty of Gus time!

Muscle Man in the Mirror

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

muscle man in mirrorYesterday on Facebook I ran across this picture.  Of course, this struck close to home, for I am always struggling with the muscle man in the mirror.

It is not uncommon for us NOT to see ourselves as we truly are.  We all look at the world through our own filter, and amazingly, this is also true–even when looking into a mirror.  Logic says that we would be seeing a true reflection of what we look like, but our own filter and context can make looking in the mirror a very different experience.

antoine valliant rippedI know that some days I look in the mirror and feel like Antoine Valliant, pro bodybuilder!  Other days I look in the mirror and see that little skinny kid from 7th grade that hated being such a weak little shrimp.  And I suppose some days I actually see myself.

Either way, this variance in my perception can be exhausting and get in the way of living my life happily.  I have to often stop and remind myself that I am working hard. have accomplished much, and am NOT still that little scared child from my past.  I know he's in there, part of who I am, but that is not my reality any more, nor is that my reality in the mirror.  So always remember to keep some perspective, and be patient on those days when reality is not right in front of you.

The Financials

Monday, January 28th, 2013

DCI is working through a bit of a crisis, where many corps are trying to find a working model for longevity.  I don't know all the details, but it seems that the present model of touring, travel, and performances is not seen as sustainable into the future.  Many are saying that something has to change or no drum corps will be able to survive.  Touch choices face everyone in the activity.

Tim Portrait 2011 TinySimilarly, all band programs have to be responsible with their budgets and fund-raising, and must operate in a sane way.  There are programs that have literally ceased to exist because one aspect of the program would not be denied.  Remarkably, a nationally ranked winter guard program can kill an entire band program if not managed sanely.  

Working with budgets is never fun, and many directors and creative people find this part of their job particularly onerous.  But all is not lost.  Most every band program has a parent or volunteer who IS good with these things, and who hopefully can be called upon for advice and assistance.  Then smart and reasonable choices must be made for what a program can do.

I'm always impressed when I see a program that makes critical choices for the good of the program's health.  Many bands travel to national marching competitions only every other year, or every few years.  Some make a big Spring Trip every other year, or every 4 years.  Choices of expenses for a marching show can be difficult, because the money spent really can make a difference in the effect of the show.  However, I would also hold that the best way to improve scores is to teach your kids to play their instruments better…to be better musicians.  And then to hire the right people to create your shows so that they have the best chance for success.

As a show designer, I know that I can create a show on any budget.  Sure, the more funds we have to work with for costumes, flags, and props, the more elaborate the show can be.  But it IS entirely possible to create a great, very effective show, with a smaller budget.  This requires more creavitivy and ingenuity perhaps, but it's doable.  This is similar to any arranging project I work on where a section of the band is weak.  Creating a marching show with only a few weak trumpets requires me to bring my A game and really be creative.  But don't tell me it can't be done!

So make smart choices, take the time to sit down and realistically make plans, and then use your hard work and creativity to make the difference!

Hobbling the Hobbit

Friday, January 25th, 2013

I know I'm coming late to this conversation, having just now seen "The Hobbit" in theaters.  A fan of the book, I was cautiously optimistic.  Alas, I should have stayed home in my own hobbit hole and read the book again instead.

The book, "The Hobbit" is fun to read because a lot of things happen very fast.  It's a rollicking adventure story where Tolkein does not linger or ponder too much, but tells us just enough to enjoy the moment and then….on we go!  Imagine if the movie, "The Hobbit," had been ONE film that lasted about two hours.  It could have rivaled "Indiana Jones" for fast paced thrilling adventure!  Bam: trolls, then spiders, a giant bear, saved by eagles, attacked by orcs, found a ring, ride in barrels, saved the day…. You get the idea.

Instead, the Hollywood greed machine pads the story with boring tangents—no doubt thrilling to the big fan, but not so interesting to the rest of us.  Long artistic shots of worried faces, pondering what it all might mean.  It seemed to take Cate Blanchett several minutes just to turn poetically to face us, no doubt struggling to pull herself away from the lovely view from the clif she was lingering over.  I just kept thinking, "Bring on the adventure already!"

The movie is gorgeously filmed and executed, and has made almost a billion at the global box office, so it's not all bad.  I just feel a sense of disppointment of "what might have been" if someone had decided to stay true to the tone and spirit of Tolkein's original masterpiece.  Ah…that's an adventure I could have loved!

Stopping to Think

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Today in the news was a tragic story of a deaf man who was stabbed because someone mistook his sign language for "making gang signs."  As ridiculous as this is, we can only assume that the man who did the stabbing "rushed to judgement."  No one who paused for even a moment to stop and consider would have made this mistake.

But in this day and age we live in, many people think that everything must happen RIGHT NOW.  We are so spoiled by the crushing rush of technology that we now get frustrated if a website or YouTube video takes more than 2 seconds to load.  We must know everything at this very instant…no waiting!

But this is not how life works, and many times we absolutely need to Stop…… and think.

Stop, and think.  Consider something for a moment.  Slow down ever so slightly to look at something and weigh our options.  Hmmmmm, what does this sentence really mean?  What did this person really intend to convey when they made that statement?  Could I see this another way?

You can't really stop and think if you're multi-tasking.  Doing many things at once means you're doing nothing really well.  And doing things in a rush just tends to make a mess.  Sometimes you have to take the time to scrub, or hunt, or polish, or massage an idea.

So take a moment today to STOP, and think.  Don't just blurt out the first thing that crosses your mind, and don't tweet your every thought as soon as you think it.  You'll be glad you took time to consider, think, and then….maybe…act.