I wrote this blog post a month ago and never returned to edit it - to fix it. ‘Fixing my Life’ has kept me busy and I begin today, not sharing an apology for my delay and detour from my blogging schedule, but instead, with the SIX insights I have gained since last writing!
Insight Number ONE - To do anything right, the task/project needs our full attention, at least for a time.
I am extremely proud of releasing my book HTRP- The Adventures of Hugo the Round Pug this summer, and it has simply needed my full attention! That’s how it works- in fact, I just saw (on the IG page Successfulethics) a picture of Elon Musk with this quote that helped me find the structure and inspiration to finish this blog:
“You’re not lazy, but paralyzed by too many desires. Your mind wants 1000 things at once…[which] stops you from moving at all. Break the cycle. Choose one thing and direct all of your focus to it” - attributed to Elon Musk (I do hope he hears my Elon Musk song "Shoot for the Sky" one day!)
That said, I have included this picture of Dexter because that's what I've been doing in the wee hours of my day to relax and escape chaos --- watching Dexter. That’s where my mind goes when 1000 things need my brain’s attention – To Netflix. Which means nothing creative gets done– but this leads me to insight number two:
Insight Number TWO - The brain needs time to shut down and to escape to begin again.
Of course, I’ve been taking care of my responsibilities - the family, my day job, my business obligations. But the creative side has needed downtime. Spurts of creativity have still occurred from my mind – new song drafts - new chapters and ideas for HTRP - but there’s been nothing that has been finished (including this blog) - That’s the creative push that needed a break. Which leads to insight number three:
Insight Number THREE: The 80/20 Rule, The Pareto Principle
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? There are many ways to interpret this rule, but I'll focus on two of them:
First, “The Way to Live” version: Most of us spend 80% of our time doing what we have to do and only 20% of our time doing what we would like to do.
One of my major goals in life has been to reverse that! I legitimately now spend 80% of my time doing what I love to do and only 20% doing what I have to do. This does not mean a career cannot be part of the 80%! For me, performing cover song gigs, teaching college classes, and working with real estate are part of my 80% along with spending time writing songs, writing story, playing with my dogs, working out, watching movies, hanging with good friends or my young adult kids, and binging Netflix.
I can’t remember how long ago I learned of the 80/20 rule, (likely in college since I was a business major for a time), but I have purposely tried to achieve this 80/20 “Way to Live“ goal for at least the last ten years and it’s working! Leaving my high school teaching career was a big part of this - choosing more time than money so I could be with my kids more and work on creative projects changed my life. And the money followed! Most importantly, I am such a happier person now than I was when I felt trapped by my job– Side note: I absolutely LOVED working with kids, but the administrative side and the monotonous schedule truly used up all of my energy and made me feel dark and empty creatively, with not much left to give to my passions.
The second way to interpret this rule is that getting the 80% of anything done is easier than the last 20% - the details, the polish, the presentation…..
I ALWAYS struggle with the last 20%!! The fun part of any project is the 80% but getting that last 20% of any project done can be grueling!! Sometimes, it can even keep you from running off to the beach for a great escape! Releasing my album Mother’s Self-Rising and launching HTRP - The Adventures of Hugo the Round Pug were HUGE accomplishments for me in that I feel I would not have completed those projects without understanding the 80/20 rule and pushing myself through that stormy 20%! The 20% can cause anxiety, stress, and darkness, which leads to insight number four!
Insight Number FOUR - We all seek release from the “dark passenger” in our brain.
Today, as I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you, I came to insight number four when I asked myself what it is I LOVE about the show Dexter beyond the obvious dramatic escapades of the strong actors, compelling characters, and excellent writing!
It didn’t take me long to realize that it's the idea that we all seek release (relief) from our "Dark Passengers" as Dexter calls that ‘need’ of his to kill! In a world beyond television, we are not serial killers (thankfully), but those dark passengers live in our brains anyway….Or the dark passengers may be creatures actually living in our homes, sometimes taking all of our money and eating all of our food (no animal or kids' names mentioned here...lol)!
All kidding aside, sometimes the darkness comes from the weight of responsibility we have from caring for our loved ones, real life creatures that flood our brains with our need and responsibility and desire to care for them and to do best for them. That said, sometimes, the dark passengers are simply our own insecurities or thoughts, keeping us from moving forward as that Elon Musk meme stated.
But either way, we need relief from the dark passenger! We need to find a healthy (non-violent, non- killing) way to escape. And this leads to insight number five…
Insight Number FIVE - Art really is pure magic – a means of escape for daily chaos or a stormy, dark brain!
It’s fascinating to me how a movie or TV series can fill the void of emotional connections we may be needing, seeking, or even ignoring.
Especially with a show like 24 that keeps you on the edge of your seat and part of someone else’s really bad day (still hoping Kiefer Sutherland here's my "Dear Kiefer" song thanking him for offering me that escape!), or Dexter, where the main character often speaks to the audience as an aside – sharing his private, internal thoughts, often very dark, with the audience instead of with the characters in the scene. In both of these shows, we fall into the trap of feeling deeply connected to that main character! Now that is clever writing! And I admit it: I willingly fall for the psychological journey big time!
As you know, music has this power too — To take us on a psychological journey! Music can make us feel emotionally connected to the composer/songwriter/performer as if they have always been our best friends and confidants and as if they understand our deepest feelings! Art really is pure magic this way – a means of escape for daily chaos or a stormy brain!
I tend to watch Dexter at bedtime, when the passengers in my brain get too loud, so I stay up far too late binging a few episodes, making me even more tired to attack my day. But somehow, despite the sometimes gruesome content in the show, I sleep much better having spent some time with Dexter and the gang, clearing my mind of my own issues!
And now that I’m finally finished with this blog edition, a month after it began, I think I can admit that I finished Dexter and have actually watched a couple other series too (Stranger Things was awesome!)– I can also accept that it’s okay to escape and take a break once in awhile. Perhaps this is a bonus insight —
Insight Number Six: Taking a break, of any kind, is good for the soul.
I hope you find a way to take a break and find peace in your busy world.
As is my tradition, I'm ending this today with a thoughtful quote, this time, from author Alan Cohen - "There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither."
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Cheers and Be Well!