New Writing Habit

(photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash)

Thank you Paul Taubman of  Digital Maestro for hosting your amazing Ultimate Blog Challenge again this month. I am grateful to have met such wonderful and supportive bloggers who write so beautifully. All of you made this experience special. Today is the 31st and final day of this challenge. And this is my 31st blog post.

I have written before about the power of creating new habits that are in alignment with your core values and goals. Doing a task over-and-over, day-after-day, becomes a habit. New wiring is formed in the brain. And the longer our habit goes into the future, the wider and stronger the wiring in the brain becomes. Writing is one habit that I want to continue.

There were days when I woke up this month not knowing what I would write about. And it would sometimes take many hours to put the finished blog post together. As the month went on, I was able to put this concern away, and clear my mind. Sure enough, when my mind quieted down, a writing topic would pop into my head, and then the words would flow. I believe that this writing flow occurred because I had gotten my mind in the habit of writing.

I have found that trying to start back up again with something after a long layoff can be a challenge. For example, during 2020 I practiced the guitar every day. Recently I did not practice for several weeks. When I finally dusted off my guitar, it took time for my fingers and mind to wake up and remember chord formations and notes. And not to mention that the callous on my fingertips from my previous playing had gone away, so it has been painful to press my fingers into the guitar strings as I’m starting my playing back up again. The same is true for writing or any other hobby or task. It takes time to get in a groove. And once we are in the groove, we can advance our skills to the point where it becomes second nature. It’s all about practice time. Even just one minute of practice per day will make a world of difference as compared to no practice. That’s why the concept of taking small steps can produce big results.

Many of my blog posts this month have ended with a question for you, the reader:

What is one small step that you can do related to (enter topic here)?

My hope is that you take time to identify core values and goals in all areas of your life (whatever this might be for you), create small-sized action steps, and take action on a regular basis. A clean palette awaits you. Take a moment to quiet your mind, and fill up the canvas with your creative talents. Find your groove, enjoy the process, and watch your small steps produce big rewards.



Boston Music Experience

(photo by Tim Toomey on Unsplash)

Ever since I raided my brother’s record collection during junior high school, I fell in love with the sound of the rock band Boston. Their sound contained unique melodic harmonies, turning the band into an instant hit.

Although Boston signed a contract to produce ten albums within six years, they only produced two albums before contract disputes led to years of legal red tape. Their third album, Third Stage, came out eight years after the second one. And during the making of Third Stage, changes were made to the original line-up.

I saw Boston in concert during their Third Stage Tour. The music was still great, but I was disappointed when the split happened. The original line up came out first to play music from their first two albums. Then they switched line ups to the new one to play their third album. As a fan, I had an allegiance to the original band members, and I still do.

Moving forward, I continued to follow the original band members as they moved on to other endeavors. In particular, guitarist Barry Goudreau created new bands over the years. First was his solo album, which came out after Boston’s second album. Barry’s bandmates for this album were Boston’s lead singer Brad Delp, Boston’s drummer Sib Hashian, and bass player/singer Fran Cosmo who would become a future member of Boston. One possible reason Boston’s original line up changed is because Tom Shultz, the mastermind behind the music, was angry with how the marketing company marketed this solo record as a Boston project, even though Tom gave the okay for Barry to move forward with his solo project.

Barry’s next band was Orion the Hunter, which produced the hit So You Ran in 1984. Brad Delp and Fran Cosmo were carryover members into this band. Keyboardist Brian Maes joined the touring band as well.

Then RTZ (Return To Zero) was formed around 1989 with a line up of Goudreau, Delp, Maes, bass player Tim Archibald, and drummer Dave Stefanelli. Hit songs included Until Your Love Comes Around, There’s Another Side, and All You’ve Got.

And during the 21st century, three additional Goudreau bands were created: Delp-Goudreau (2004) collaboration album that produced the song What You Leave Behind. Ernie and the Automatics (2004-2011), and currently – Barry Goudreau’s Engine Room – with many of the same musicians from RTZ.

My all-time favorite concert experience occurred at a small restaurant in a small Massachusetts town on a Tuesday night. Ernie and the Automatics practiced every Tuesday night at this restaurant. Luckily, during a New England visit to my brother, a band practice was scheduled. I got to the restaurant early. And when I drove into the parking lot, there was one car in the lot with the trunk open and a man behind the car. It was Barry Goudreau taking out his guitar!

I entered the restaurant and was seated up near the front, next to the saxaphone player’s wife. We chatted throughout the evening. And during a break, the saxaphone player Michael “Tunes” Antunes sat down and included me in the conversation. He was so nice.

Prior to the start of the set, I saw the bandmates at a table near the stage, eating dinner. When they were done, I got the courage to approach Mr. Goudreau. He was gracious and we chatted for a few minutes. And I also met the original Boston drummer Sib Hashian during a break.

The band’s set included songs from all the past bands. I knew many of them and had a blast. The highlight song at the end was a medley of Boston songs condensed into about ten minutes. It was an incredible night that I will never forget.

For anyone interested, here is a video of Ernie & the Automatics performing the Boston Medley. This is not from the night I saw them. Running time of 12 minutes.

(1) Boston Medley – Ernie and the Automatics.mpg – YouTube



Running Man

(photo by Martins Zemlickis on Unsplash)

Several years ago, I ran my first and only marathon. But I only trained for half a marathon. And that was a mistake. My knee pain began at the fifteen mile mark of that race. And that was also the end of my running career, as that was the start of my chronic knee pain.

The first twelve miles were a breeze. I purposely took it easy to save my energy for the second half. At the fifteen mile mark, I hit the wall. And the rest of the race was painful. With a few miles to go, my brother and a friend found me and ran with me. I was so exhausted that I would continually bump into each of them. I walked and stumbled through the last 1oo feet or so by myself, and did cross the finish line at mile marker 26.2.

And the timing of my solo trip to England the day after the marathon added to my pain and suffering as I hobbled around for ten days in Europe with a backpack on my back.

Later on, when I realized that my knee was not healing and that my running career was probably over, I went through a depression. For me there was no better feeling than running a race. I was forced to find other sports. Road biking, soccer (my childhood game) and ice hockey filled the running gap with no knee pain.

One of my favorite races was the Broad Street run in Philadelphia, where my brother briefly lived. We left his apartment expecting to take a subway to the race. But the subway was closed when we got there. We lucked out by finding the bus stop, and took the bus to the start. As soon as we got off the bus, we heard the starting gun shot. We instinctively ran from the bus through the starting line. We were literally the last runners to cross the starting line. I had a song in my head, was in the zone for the entire race, and kept passing runners left and right. I crossed the finish line strong at the ten mile mark, and felt great.

The reason I only trained for half a marathon is because my leg muscles got very tight during my training. I physically could not run anymore. Instead of delaying my marathon race into the future, allowing for rest, recovery, and better training methods, I chose to rest and run it anyway.

I had never run a marathon distance of 26.2 miles before. The longest race I ever did was a half-marathon, with 10k and 5k races my sweet spot.

A coworker who wanted to run a marathon, asked me if I wanted to participate. I said yes, and we trained together. But during one of our runs, my training partner twisted an ankle, and was out of commission. I continued training on my own, in a sense doing the race for both of us. That was part of my motivation to do the race, even though I really should have dropped out.

I have done limited running in recent times. And I would like to get back at it, in moderation. I plan to do some light weight lifting exercises that build up the muscles around the knees, and make stretching/yoga a regular routine. I have found that my body (and knees) enjoy short sprints around the local high school track. I have also been able to run short distances with no discomfort. Time will tell.

Lessons I learned:

Follow proper training methods. Marathon training plans are available. They reflect exactly how much to run (or rest) each day of training over several months.

The importance of Nutrition: water and sports drinks are not enough during long races and training runs. Easy to digest, nutrient dense foods are necessary too.

Stretching is very important after, and in between, workouts.

Listen to your body. Had I listened, I would not have run the race. Or I would have stopped running during the race.

What small steps can you implement to train smarter?




(photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash)

Creativity in any form, (i.e., music, painting, photography, dance, etc.) is necessary for growth of the human spirit and helps greatly to add meaning to life.  This means making creativity a part of everyday life.  It is very easy to get caught up in our daily life events that we lose track of this need.  Our society is all about the go-go-go mentality, without taking time to just be.

Because a quiet mind provides a strong foundation for opening up our creativity, it is no wonder that many people have not opened up to their creativity, and thus, a part of their life or personality may be lacking in some way.

Individual creativity is achieved by looking within oneself to uncover untapped energy that desperately wants to express itself.  The key is to take action yourself, regardless of your natural talents.  Talent is not necessary, although with practice most individuals will improve their skills at varying levels.  It is all about expressing oneself fully regardless of ability.

Society has placed limitations on what older children and adults view as acceptable behavior and this has stifled the natural creativity that once was in the forefront of our early childhood personalities.

Also, society has placed greater significance on left brain thinking, leaving right brain creativity behind.  While right brain thinking is an extremely important process, if it is not balanced with left brain activities, not only will our life force energy remain out of balance but we will never really know our true selves.  We rely too much on the messages, products and services that society pushes on us, which means that we are being led by others in directions that serve others most of the time.

Music, Art, Photography, and other forms of expression, created from within ourselves and expressed outwardly through our voice, paint brush, or pictures has the power to heal our inner selves on many levels. And once we uncover the natural healer within us and leave our ego behind, we can help others open up to their creativity and their natural ability to heal themselves too.

What is one small step you can do to make creativity a part of your day?

Positive Change

(photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash)

Hypothetically, if we took two identical twins that have the same DNA and separate them at birth with one twin placed with dysfunctional parents and the other twin placed in a nurturing home environment with mentally and physically healthy parents, would the twins’ personalities remain the same or would significant differences take place?  Based on the scientific field of epigenetics, the environment we live in is crucial to the healthy development and growth of our bodies and minds.  Thus, the twin brought up in the unhealthy environment would have a greater chance of certain negative genes being turned on that may lead to mental and physical disease.  On the other hand, the twin brought up in a healthy environment would have a greater chance of more positive genes activated with less negative genes turned on, leaving this individual with a greater chance of a happier and healthier life.

The key point to recognize is that we do have the power within ourselves to make positive changes to our lives by directing our mind on purpose.  This is a difficult concept to practice at first and does take time to master, but it can be done by anyone who is willing to make necessary changes and a drive to take appropriate actions over-and-over again until new healthy habits are formed and stick.  There are many ways to achieve results, including meditation, visualization and diaphragmatic breathing, just to name a few practices.  By experimenting with a variety of processes, you can identify those that work best for you.  By doing new habits at the same time each day, you will program yourself to expect that you’ll be doing this on a regular basis going forward.  Consistent repetition will produce results as we gain familiarity with these new practices and ultimately when these tasks get imbedded into our unconscious minds.  Because the unconscious mind is much more powerful than the conscious mind, we must utilize methods to help ourselves transfer these new teachings from our conscious mind to our unconscious mind.  I have found that playing self-help CDs over-and-over again as I drive has helped considerably in overwriting old, outdated information currently stored in my unconscious mind.  We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded with “brainwashing” from radio and television commercials, shows and news broadcasts.  Why not brainwash ourselves with information that lifts up our energy, instead of being brought down by negative advertising created by other people solely for their desire to make money off of us.

It is worth the initial challenges that will meet us head on as we begin to implement new habits.  Going against society at large can be more daunting at first then just going along with the crowd.  We owe it to ourselves to pay attention to our inner selves, uncover what makes us tick, and take actions that move us in this direction.  There is a balance between doing something for immediate gratification versus striving for long-term goals that require more determination and effort to achieve.  If it was easy to change than everyone would change for the better.  But that is not the case.  None of us have control over what part of the world we are born, who our family members are, or our status in the community.  And as children we are limited by the rules of adults until we know better, gain experience and gain independence.  Then we become free to live our lives fully and completely on our terms, within certain confines of course.  How do you choose to live your life?  Do you want to bring the consciousness of society up or down?

We can take an active role in helping shift the consciousness of the world by improving our own environments.  The contents of our inner world ultimately get expressed outwardly to the rest of the world.  If our inner world is still in turmoil, this negativity will permeate into our outer world.  We need to clean up our own mess first in order for worldly change to occur.  This does not mean that we are eliminating our problems and negative life situations.  As human beings we will continue to experience ups and downs in life.  What is referred to here, relating to cleaning up our inner world, is to learn how to move beyond the over-thinking mind and pay attention to what is underneath, the real you.  Pay attention to the real you, listen for clues, and then take action on the ideas that pop up.  You know best!