Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Balance: "Tightrope" by Janelle Monae

As August comes to a close, I am still in awe of the fact that I didn't have any day job, business travel.  No worries, dear reader, I'm back on the road twice in September.  <sigh>  As my friends would say, "I'm not complaining, I'm just explaining...."  Being home for an entire month really gave me time to re-establish some routines and think hard about what the future holds.

I'm not convinced that I want to be a corporate drone for the rest of my life.  And for the first time, in many years, I am starting to see a clear picture of what my next move should be.....nothing drastic, I promise.  Trust me, there are no major relocations on the horizon, but there is most definitely a refocus of my energy and efforts.

As my dear friend Doug, entrepreneur and mentor, said, "It's not a matter of talent and ability for us.  It really is a matter of time.  Where are we going to focus our efforts <in the short and long term>?"  His comments really hit me hard, because this VERY thought is what I dwelled on all weekend.  How do I want to focus my time?  And for me, it is truly about TIME and BALANCE.

So, what am I going to do?  The first target is to do a detox and mental reset.  Then redouble my efforts to finish my first novel - especially, since I have three agents and three editors that have asked me to submit.  Finding that balance between my day job and my writing is truly the golden ticket to even more adventures.

"Tightrope" by Janelle Monae

If you haven't heard of the ever lovely and FABULOUS Janelle Monae, then let me take a moment to give you a quick education.  Ms. Monae is a singer, songwriter, story teller, and performer tour de force.  Her two albums, Metropolis: The Chase Suite and The ArchAndroid, are R&B / Soul operas that tell the story of Cindi Mayweather - android #57821, who makes the mistake of falling in love with a human.  This act is illegal in the futuristic universe Ms. Monae creates via song.  There are chase scenes, near misses, and reflections on life intertwined in solid beats and subtle mixes.

One of the things that I love about the Tightrope video is that you can tell that all the dancers and musicians had a ton of fun during the filming.  You can just feel the positive energy flowing all around. Big Boi (one half of Outkast) is the featured lyricist on this track....but I think I spied Andre 3000 disguised in a wig and sunglasses, playing electric guitar, in The Palace of the Dogs Asylum band.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Plus check out the smooth dance moves - don't try that at home, trust me - especially after drinking a few glasses of wine - oh, wait, I'm detoxing... LOL!

"Now SHUT-UP, put some Voodoo on it...."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Crazy Week: "Rollercoaster of Love" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

This past week was a real roller coaster ride, full of emotional highs and lows.  Unlike the song I chose for this week, there weren't any affairs of the heart involved (for me), but there was plenty of drama brewing and boiling over.

I guess, the overall theme for the week would be: Lost and Found Opportunities.

At work: a co-worker's poor judgement led to their termination.  They were a really nice person, smart, with unlimited possibilities....but one horrible choice led to their demise.  I mourned the termination of my friend.  (I hope they land on their feet, despite the poor state of our economy.)  But at they same time, I recognize that it was their decisions that led them to this exact place and time.

Personally: two of my dearest friends cancelled their wedding.  It is true, that it is better for the decision to be made now than to find themselves in divorce proceedings later.  However, this fact doesn't make sending out "the wedding is off" notices, returning gifts, and separating any easier.  He made the choice.  She has to move out.  They have to heal.  Sounds simple, but the reality is much more messy.  We, the friends of both, are struggling, too.  How do you help one without offending the other?  The truly sad part is that they do, indeed, love each other and that the wedding was only two weeks away.

So, those are the lows of the week.  The high points were wonderful!  I reconnected with a dear friend who now lives in Oregon.  Another sweet voice from the past sent me a warm message from California.  My family is doing beyond well, they are awesome!  We had a team lunch, to celebrate the launch of a new product, at the Portland City Grill.  I am starting a new project researching opportunities in Latin America.  And I hung out with my writing friends at a book signing at my favorite indy bookstore, Jan's Paperbacks.

My hope is that I am now entering a period of calm.  Soooo much negative energy was swirling this week, it's time to get some positive juices flowing!

"Rollercoaster of Love" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

The original version of this song was titled Love Rollercoaster and was a huge hit for the R&B funk band The Ohio Players in 1975.  Given the fact that I was born and raised in Ohio, this song was played often on the radio in my youth.

One of my favorite bands, Red Hot Chili Peppers, covered this song in 1996 for the film Beavis and Butt-head Do America.  This film is not anything to write home about, but the Chili Pepper's cover of Love Rollercoaster is a real treat.

"Your love is like, a roller coaster, baby, baby...."

View from our private dining room at the Portland City Grill.

What memories does this song bring to your mind?  Let me know - leave a comment below.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sipping Pinot: "Red Red Wine" by UB40

It's a very rare occurrence for me to give up some portion of my weekend to hang out with customers.  I am typically on the road so much that my weekends at home are savoured like tiny morsels of Swiss chocolate.  Now, when I say that I stay 'home', that doesn't mean that I stay 'in' my house.  I usually have plans with friends or go exploring.  There are always loads of things to do in Portland.

So when an important client informed me that he was flying his wife in for the weekend after a few days of meetings, my co-workers and I went to work on planning a day of wine tasting and making lists of recommended sites for the balance of their stay. 

I work with a great group of folks and many are now dear friends.  We cover each other's backs and have fun along way.  My clients just happened to be great people, too.  As the wine and conversation flowed, we all realized that our client/vendor relationship had morphed into friendship.

At the end of the day, people do business with people
And, naturally, people prefer to do business with people they like.

"Red Red Wine" by UB40

So...I hadn't actually noticed, until now, that the lead singer is actually drinking beer and NOT wine in this video.  It was the 80's...was anyone concerned about continuity (or color coordination) back then? I mean, REALLY?

Though this song is about drowning your broken heart in glasses of red wine, it remains one of my favorite summer songs.  It's also great for workout cool downs.

"Red, red, wiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnneeee....."

Wine and yummy snacks at Colleen Coleman Winery.

What memories does this song bring to your mind?  Let me know - leave a comment below.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bonus Track - What Was I Thinking?: "Insane in the Brain" by Cypress Hill

This past Saturday. Stacey, Mindy, and I headed to Washington to participate in the Zombie Run for Your Life 5k.   Ok - so some of the runners said that it was a little shorter than 5k, but who's really taking the time to count miles when zombies are chasing you!

What the HELL was I thinking?  I guess thinking about STARTING your training on race day is a little late, huh? <sigh>  I was on the fence about actually attempting the course until it was time to line up for our heat.  The organizers were kind enough to line us up based on speed: Appetizers (fast runners), Entrees (medium speed runners), and Dessert (the slow pokes).  I looked for the "After Dinner Liqueur" sign without success.

(For those of you who don't know me, I have struggled with weight loss my entire life.  Though I have walked several 5k courses and trails, I have never attempted to run one until now.)

Mindy and Stacey actually had trained and lined up with the other Entrees.  I lined up with the Desserts.  Let me tell you something....standing in a line, nervous, and feeling VERY alone in a crowd of people is one of the worst feelings on the planet.  Stacey came over and gave me a big hug.  She smiled and said, "Just have fun."  I almost cried.  In fact, I'm crying (right now) as I am typing this up.  Her simple statement was exactly what I needed to hear at that instant, in that moment.  It is hard for me to express in words how much her support meant to me standing at that starting line.  I will always love her for that simple act of kindness and encouragement.  Now fearless, I waited for our start countdown.

I did manage to finish the course.  It was a HOT day, so I needed to make a few water and shade stops along the way.  I had a blast teasing the zombies, though.  One even gave me a bear hug - which left me slathered with fact blood - yuck! And when I crossed the finish line, caked with mud and soaked from head to toe in nasty, muddy water, I was glad that I overcame my urge to bail.

Stacey and Mindy waited at the finish line for me.  Cold water from a fire hose never felt so good!  It was a GREAT day and I did, indeed, have fun.

I want to take a moment to give a shout out to the guy that gave me a leg up out of the last mud slide pit.  Thanks dude - I'd probably still be standing waist high in mud without your help!

"Insane in the Brain" by Cypress Hill

Zombies eat brains. Combine this 'fact' with how insane I felt before starting this race and Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain" immediately came to mind.  Though this track contains some 'beef' digs on Chub Rock (no pun intended), it has a rousing refrain that still fills the dance floor.  Plus, you can tell the guys had fun both writing and performing this rap - especially when you see them perform it live.

"Insane in the membrane...Insane in the brain...."

Where's the "After Dinner Liqueur" line?  Yup - I lost all my lives along the way.
Quick Note: I will be changing my post days to Sundays this week forward.  I think of Sunday as the start of my week.  Therefore, I feel it's a better day to reflect on my previous week.

What memories does this song bring to your mind?  Let me know - leave a comment below.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Manners: "I'm Afraid of Americans" by David Bowie (feat Nine Inch Nails)

Simple question here....What happened to manners?  Are parents teaching and enforcing manners in their homes?  I am sure that many bloggers have written rants about the demise of our culture and the downfall of our society due to our lack of etiquette.  I DO NOT believe that we are going to hell in a hand basket, but I do think that technology has inhibited our ability to empathize with our fellow man.  It's just way too easy to post a mean spirited soliloquy when you can remain shrouded by a goofy screen name.

Take the Denver movie theatre shootings, as an example....I am floored that some online comments have questioned the manhood and bravery of the folks in the theatre.  It's real easy to play "Monday Quarterback" and talk about what you 'would have done' IF you were in the theatre.  My bet is that unless you are combat, special ops, or police trained, you would run for cover - that's called being human...It's a real basic 'fight or flight' response.

A little closer to home, for me, has been some of the comments posted about my friend Elle Zober.  Elle is a beautiful, funny, and creative soul.  She has an AMAZING eye for photography.  In fact, she took the picture that I use for my profile.  Elle is recently divorced and is trying to sell her home.  She found a very creative way to market her house in a near dead housing market.  Her sign has garnered national media attention....it has also garnered vicious comments on her website, blog, and voicemail.  Who are you (cyber bullies)?  And why do you feel a need to comment on anyone's weight, looks, or marriage?

The wild thing is that all of this negativity is completely unnecessary.  Just say, "I'm sorry for your loss." and move on, no other opinions are needed or required.

"I'm Afraid of Americans" by David Bowie (feat Nine Inch Nails)

I love this song and the associated video.  I have long been a David Bowie fan and the addition of Trent Reznor's driving score only enhances the underlying tension in "I'm Afraid of Americans" lyrics. Plus, Mr. Reznor lends his spooky presence as 'Johnny' in the video.

As a writer and artist, I believe in freedom of speech.  I also believe that God is watching over us and holds us accountable for what's in our hearts.  And I know that 'karma is a bitch'.

"I'm afraid of Americans..."