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Life IS Short – Play your song

I’m sure you’ve heard NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter and another entire family were killed over the weekend in a tragic helicopter crash.  It moves me to write on urgency.

Before I get there let me say basketball skills are not my gift. As a result, I don’t follow too much of the NBA. I have of course seen Bryant in action in highlights and even to the untrained NBA “fan”, the guy was something special. I saw some clips of his Top Ten and he’s definitely working on a different plane than the rest of us or even the players on the court.

The loss of life strikes home with me.  And urgency is what’s important in deciding what to do everyday.  Separate the everyday stuff from the important.   The important is what’s urgent and what you will be happy focusing on.  What’s important?

We think our jobs are, but consider that if you get hit by a bus, the business will still go on without you. You are not essential to your work. Not even me. People will still need to be adjusted and somebody will still be adjusting. That said, for some, they combine their unique gift with their job. That’s when your job is urgent, but not because you make money. Because you love it.

Consider what is uniquely yours. What can you do that nobody else can? For which, there is no replacement. Those things are your gifts, like Kobe’s amazing basketball prowess which he happened to be born at a time when that was celebrated. If he were born 200 years ago, it wouldn’t be recognized.

All of us have these things and ideally, during our lifetimes they are celebrated. If not, so what. You still do them. Nikolai Tesla died broke. He did what he did because it was his love, his passion and his gift.
You may have a flair for decorating like nobody else. Maybe you play the ukulele. Maybe you are stellar at plumbing.

One way to determine if it’s your gift or your job is, consider whether you’d be doing it if you didn’t get paid. Or, do you lose track of time doing the activity.

The other super important thing that is urgent is your relationship to others. You are the only mom, the only dad, the only brother, the only oldest sibling, the only youngest, the only you…. to the people around you. What is urgent is you consider how to be that person for them and be the gift that you were given.

What do you need to do? Just move those relationships to the foreground in daily life. Practice and refine your gifts so the rest of us can see them. Do not hide your light under a bushel basket so to speak.

A couple years ago I was urged by a member of our practice, to pick up playing an instrument again. As I child I was naturally attracted to playing the piano. I never took lessons but there was a piano in the house because my sisters all were required to take lessons. (I don’t know the reasoning for this and my parents are no longer here to ask) I could hear things on tv and play them on the piano. I would play jingles, weekly theme songs and some movie theme songs for some reason. I don’t know how I learned these because the movie was only shown once a year or so. Like the theme from Brian’s Song and Exodus. Those are weird songs to learn when you’re 10 or 12 but they stick in my memory.

I had played in a band in high school and then until I was 31 years old and quit it all cold turkey because I thought that running a business was urgent and being a parent was urgent, requiring all of my time.

I donated all my gear to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, the last “gig” I played was keyboards for their Easter production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1992.
Geoff, the aspiring guitarist member of our practice was putting pressure on me to play again ostensibly so he could play in a group of some sort and jam. As a concession to “help him” I actually did begin to play again. That was exactly 4 years ago. I still refused to go back to keyboards thinking, I’ll never be “that good” again as when I was playing full time 6 nights a week. I could only disappoint myself. So, I learned to play the ukulele in concession to Geoff’s request. We played a few songs that summer at a pool party. People were very gracious about our skills. 6 months into learning the uke doesn’t exactly sound like Jake Shimabukuru playing Bohemian Rhapsody on his uke. We’re talking 3 chord rock here.

But, what happened next is, I kind of got sucked in. There was a free piano on Craigslist not far from my house. Now, it isn’t that I couldn’t afford a piano, it just that I wasn’t ready to admit this was something I was going to spend money (energy) on. But, free? well, OK….. I can excuse it then. So, I picked up this baby grand, had it tuned and started plinking around on it. Turns out, it’s much simpler for me to play this than the uke. Geoff happened to be over practicing some 3 chord uke stuff, or maybe a new song for which I was having trouble getting my fingers to do what they needed on the uke and just walked over the piano and banged it out like I knew it. My friend wryly commented “What are you doing with the uke?” Basically, ‘you’re and idiot’. “You sound REALLY good on the piano.”.
Well, long story I know…. what happened from then to now is, I picked up some other keyboards, started actually playing in a band again. That is coming up on 1 year since my first live gig on Valentine’s Day last year.
All during my gigging years in the 80s, people were very appreciative of the music I played with the band back then. I never really gave it much credence because I thought anyone could do it if they just decided to. After all, I didn’t have to be forced to do it. I wasn’t sitting their after school trudging through sheet music. It just was a natural for me. So, I never gave much thought to people’s compliments. I always thought that “anyone can do this”. I turned 59 last week. And NOW I see the error of that thinking. That’s like me telling Kobe had a great game and him thinking… well, you can do that Dan. Ummmmmm….. No. I can’t. Not in this universe. Maybe if they had a Peruvian basketball league, where I’d tower over all the Peruvian’s…….

I understand now that in addition to my blessings of being a father, husband, friend, sibling…. all important and urgent to keep up those things. I’ve also been given at least a few gifts that no one else possesses. And that one, playing keys, I’ve kept under wraps unwilling to share for 25 years. What a mistake.   What if I never got good at adjusting?  What if I never regained my music skills.  What if I never told my kids or my wife I loved them?  What if I never went shopping with my wife?  What if I was too busy to go to my kids’ games?  (actually, during my kids’ teen years I was only at the office Mon-Thursday because I regarded being a father as more urgent)  What a waste that would’ve been.  That’s what’s important and that’s what’s urgent for me.  You have to figure it out for you.

Fortunately, you and I woke up this morning with yet another opportunity to share our gifts. That is what is urgent. Share your gifts. Play YOUR “song”. Nurture your relationships. And by all means, protect your health so you CAN share your gifts and nurture your relationships. I know all kinds of people who let their health go and can no longer play music, ride a bike, heck… even hold a job.

If you’ve lost your health, that’s a rare bird that can also keep relationships up. Losing your health takes so much time, energy and money. The people in ill health haven’t much left in their lives other than doctors, treatments, hospitals and such.

Health isn’t the most important. It is number 2 though. I’ll save the tools for staying healthy for another blog post another day.

Thanks for being you.
Thanks for sharing your gifts.
Take care of your relationships.
Take care of your health.
Blessings,
Dr. Daniel T. Barrett

Welcome to 2020!

It’s time to consider what you’re going to feel like and look like by the end of the year and what you want to be doing so that you become that person that looks and feels like you would like.  We could consider this every day, week or month, but we don’t. We all like to hit the ‘reset button’ at the start of the year.  So, let’s just up our game for 2020 beginning in January.

Step one: What’s it look like for you?   Are you happy with the way things are with your health, family, job or fun?  If you’re like me, there’s SOMETHING that isn’t exactly the way you’d like it.
Today, we’re going to focus on the health aspect since everyone’s coming off a holiday week where it’s hard to stay on track eating and working out.   I can tell you that last year, was not so great for me.  I even developed sore elbow joints, knees and wrists because I succumbed and ate one too many cookies or something.  I thought I was getting old.  I’m thinking,  ”what the heck!  This is what people come in complaining of.  Now it’s happening to ME?”    It took me til mid January to realize it was the “falling of the wagon” that caused that.  So, step one for me was, I needed my life to look like it did prior to that holiday season.   I wake up without an alarm clock.  I don’t have aches and pains.  I don’t get the coughs, colds, influenza stuff.  Pretty much enjoy pain free, happy go lucky health.    Sometimes just getting back to where you were is good enough.

Step two:  Happy go lucky health isn’t an accident. There are steps to follow and a price to be paid for not following them.  So, decide how much health you want.

We use a scale in here on your initial paperwork.  The question is “How willing are you to change your lifestyle to achieve your health goals?”   Rate that on a 1-10 scale.    This changes over time for people.  As much as the platitudes will admonish ‘There’s nothing more important than your health’, I can tell you after caring for people for 28 years, that frequently people decide there ARE more important things than their own health.   Moms are notorious for putting kids before themselves for decades.  Guys are notorious for putting everything from the house to the pontoon or ’63 Stang in the garage, ahead of their health.   These are generalizations to be sure, but you know these people.  They are real choices that real people make in different seasons of life. So, decide for yourself for 2020.

It’s your life.  You call it like you see it.  So, if  the answer is you rate your willingness to change at 3 out of 10, don’t beat yourself up for your health experience.  Just accept you’ve chosen other priorities for now.  Call it good if you cut back to a half pack a day, or only a couple cans of soda per week.

If you’re kind of a 5 ish person, well, you can make some progress.  That’s where you are willing to look at a couple areas and make small improvements in activity levels and junk food consumption.  Great.

If you’d rate yourself a 7 or 8, well then, explore what area is going to be easiest to dig in and improve the most for 2020, but work on all of them.

If you’re going to say, 10..  I’m not going to accept anything less than my best… well, then make sure  you’re coming to all the workshops this year.  Focus across the board.  From your spine, to nutrition, to workout, to relationships, to spirituality and your retirement account.  You will need to change where you get your information, how many books you read, how you take care of yourself, etc… beginning with making your bed everyday.

I watched a biography of Luciano Pavarotti yesterday. He’d survived life threatening illness as a child and vowed that he would enjoy every sunny day, every thing to eat, every song, every friendship…..  Exemplified in a disagreement with record company over an exclusive contract.  The record company exec called him up furious to learn that Pavarotti was making recordings with his wife, because she wanted him to and he enjoyed it.  Pavarotti claimed he did not know his contract meant he couldn’t record for anyone else.  Seems a bit naive to me, but anyway, Pavarotti says “Life is too short for this”.   Meaning, limiting himself to this record company.  He didn’t care what it cost in money, fame or future fortune.  He was focused on enjoying his life and doing what made him and his family happy.  He parted ways with the contract by paying a sum of money to be done.  There ARE more important things in life….

And one of the most important is life itself.  His then adult daughter (older than his then wife) quoted him as he was dying as saying he felt cheated in life.  He finally had a wife he loved and a new baby, and here he was dying of pancreatic cancer.

Pavarotti, clearly winning on all fronts, rockstar status, no financial concerns at all, homes here and there, ladies’ man.  He had it all…. and his only regret was his health.

So, yes… pick an area of your life to work on for 2020, but recognize that health has the largest return on investment.  January then, is when we get focused.

So, if that’s where you want to improve, our next workshop is going to be on fasting.  Fasting isn’t just for weight loss.  It “resets” the immune system.  Fights cancer.  Reverses type 2 diabetes.   Clears the brain.  And, yes, teaches your body to burn fat for fuel.

That’s going to be
Monday, January 20th 6:15 PM in Oakdale     651 -777-3611 to register
Tuesday, January 21st 6:15 PM in Edina          952-835-0006 to register

We will be doing more workshops this year.  Shopping Tours, Detox, Weight Loss etc… pretty much all things that you need to get healthier for 2020.

We look forward to seeing you.

Yours in Health,