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Why I Love Self Improvement

Self Improvement is a beaten up term. Such a pure and noble meaning, yet it's been dragged through the mud to connotate seminars in low end hotel conference rooms and people who chant, "I manifest everything for life's highest purpose", but live otherwise unremarkable lives.

Self improvement has a stigma to it. It's embarrassing to be into it. So embarrassing, in fact, that some of its modern day figureheads have tried to rename it. Personal Development. Lifestyle Design. Self Actualization. Fluffy euphemisms, some of which admittedly do sound pretty cool.

But I'll come out and say it. I love self improvement. I don't need to call it anything else,I like it for what it is.

Early on Sunday Morning

On Where Pianos Roam

It's a hazy, lazy day today.  I'm in my pajamas yawning, groggy, and still really tired.  Out of habit, I woke up at 6AM.  I really should just sleep in, but I'm not wired that way right now.   Ugh. I'm constantly thinking about the year ahead.  I'll be promoting the new album, doing shows, traveling, and being as busy as humanly possible.  I'm trying to remember to try to be happy and have fun through it all. In this context, what I mean by "Happy" would be stress-free, physically healthy, and full of enjoyment.  There are certain key elements that I am thinking of in order to accomplish this.  I've been thinking a lot lately about how to keep my life simple in spite of the madness of being a musician in the music business.  Here are the thoughts in my head thus far: 1.  Excercise regularly. Yup.  I'd like to stay as thin as I have always been.  I still fit in clothes that I wore in highschool and even just ten years ago.  Besides, this helps me reduce stress.  Going to the gym is also one of the few times in the week that I allow myself to watch TV.  When I'm on the ellyptical at the YMCA down the road from my house, I plug in my headphones and watch HGTV (my current favorite network) on the attached monitor.  I sip my coffee and walk about 3 miles.  It's so much fun watching homes transform as I exercise.  I love it. 2.  No more stuff-itis In America at least, we are a capitalist, consumer-driven society.  Everywhere you look, you are encouraged and coaxed into buying something.  There are billboards out on highways selling cars.  Quirky tv commercials touting big sales for the holidays.  At the check-out aisle, there are rows of odds and ends encouraging you to buy something on impulse.  You turn on the radio, and there's a song that you find out is available on i-tunes.  When you log on to your myspace account, there are adds for weight-loss programs.  All of it is inescapable. Now, mind you, I love to shop just like anyone else, but I've lately become much more selective about what I buy.  I've come to a personal understanding that as a consumer I'm really just accumulating a bunch of stuff--most of which is really quite unnecessary.  Conveniently, because I've been saving up money to pay for my album, I've sort of forced myself only to buy what I know I really need (along with an occasional treat once in blue crescent moon).  This set of circumstances has lead to a few personal decisions. --From now on, I will only buy what I need and what is really useful and practical.  This helps me majorly cut down on stuff-itis (the desire to want and buy too much useless crap). --From now on, I will make sure I save money before I spend money.  I'd rather have the piece of mind in knowing that I have savings in case of an emergency or to get me something expensive that I REALLY want.  This is a better alternative to having a bunch of useless nicknacks. 3.  Live on a budget This might sound like a depressing notion, but I've been doing some research lately.  Budgets don't have to be oppressive.  If anything, it is a really useful tool to help you manage the way you spend money.  I have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish in my life.  This is a major step towards that end.  Besides, there will be a "fun fund" in the budget.  This is a small allowance of money spent only to reward myself for sticking to my budget.  This is all a work in progress. 4.  Stop eating so damn much!!! It may not look terribly obvious about me, but I eat a lot!!!  Fortunately, I'm a very active person and somehow all of it dissipates instead of congealing into a role of bodily blubber fat.  After doing the math, I spend more than I should on food.  Those damn impulse buys get me every time--a small and oh-so-tasty little bag of Doritos, a yummy slim jim, those new flavored water drinks, gum, an espresso at Starbucks, those heavenly white chocolate/macadamia nut cookies at Subway, FREAKING SUSHI (!!!!!!!!!), a decadent Mcgriddle from McDonalds, the ENTIRE menu at dirt cheap Taco Bell, divine chicken nuggets and Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers from Wendy's, Oreo cookie shakes from Jack in the Box (THE BOMB, by the way!!), breakfast bacon burritos from Sonic------------------OH MY GOD!!!  I'm getting hungry!!!!!!!!!!! Well, okay, I love food--maybe too much.  So, yes, I must be more selective about what I eat.  Not only will I save money, but I will also be much more healthy.  Bacon McGriddles be damned!!!!!! By the way, I just ran downstairs to the kitchen to get a snack.  How much do I suck?  Eat less?  Me?  Oh, we'll just have to see. 5.  No more TV!! This is actually something I've been practicing for a while now.  It depresses me completely to think that millions of people sit in front of a tv screen for countless hours watching other people make something out of their lives.  It numbs the mind and makes thinking much easier than it should be. Besides, I really just don't have the time.  I would not have ever finished my album if I watched tv all day. I do make a couple of exceptions.  Thanks to the cultural phenomenon that is Tivo, I am able to make the time to catch up on "Heroes".  This is probably my favorite tv show right now.  It's essentially a show about people who act upon the goodness and the greatness within themselves.  It's purely brilliant. Then, there's the entire HGTV network.  If anything has the power to get me to veg out for a day, it is HGTV!!!  They should just rename the network.  It should be called "FABULOUS!!!". Naturally, who could resist the occasional episode of the Golden Girls?  I grew up on these seemingly harmless older women, but boy do they have sass!!!  Everyone should have an Italian Grandma like Sophia. Aside from these glowing exceptions, no tv, period.  I'm actually quite happy without it. 6.  Finally, give myself time to relax. I suspect that I am a bit of a workaholic.  I'll have to look up what constitutes workaholism, but I think I might fit the bill.  In any case, I have a hard time getting myself to do nothing.  I need to get better at this once in a while--just to frolic, hang with friends, have lunch with family/friends (okay, maybe not lunch!!), take Oreo and Buttercup out to the park.  Oh well, we'll see.  This, along with food, will be the biggest challenges. I think this covers the thoughts in my head about trying to simplify my life and enjoy it more.  I think it helps most that I am at least aware of these things. In any case, I hope to have one of the best years of my life. Have a flower .  .  . Please have yourselves a lovely week and stay away from those McGriddles!!  They'll get you every time. -g

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