The Secret to Having Discipline (also known as fake it ’till ya make it)

Growing up in the world of classical music, my life revolved around that word: Discipline.  The fact that I needed it, whether or not I had it, my peers who obviously did have it, those sad, talented kids who just didn’t have it (“what a shame!”….) Every day of my life was measured in how many hours I had managed to get myself to practice.  Did I manage 3? Or an epic, I-can-totally-hang-with-the-cool-crowd 5? Or did I sit on the couch and watch bad re-runs on TV while eating countless bowls of cheerios?  In high school, I was surrounded by an incredible group of like-minded, talented friends.  they were fiercely loyal, but also fiercely competitive.  Any practicing my lazy-ass self ever did during that time in my life was purely to keep up with them.  In college, I discovered that I had cultivated a bit of street cred for my ability to get up super early (I mean, 6 am–IN COLLEGE!  I deserved a medal!) and get my practicing done.  But even that was a matter of pride, rather than discipline.  Once people started talking about the fact that I did it, I couldn’t very well STOP doing it, right?  After college I went to the New World Symphony in Miami Beach for 3 years, and discovered other reasons to practice that had nothing to do with discipline.  Ex. A) wanting to stay on the same work schedule as my ÜBER disciplined boyfriend. Ex B) knowing that if I practiced BEFORE our 10am rehearsal, the Music Director (my boss) would sit and chat with me while I had my coffee outside the hall.

 

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And so, it wasn’t until I moved back to Boston and shared my first grown-up apartment with a non-musician friend that I learned of the true nature of discipline.  Continue reading

January 30-Day Focus: Blogging

 

I can’t believe I’m already on month 5 (F-I-V-E!!!) of my (year-long) 30-Day Focus Project, and I have to say, it has been an AMAZING experiment for me.  The clarity I have found in identifying the 12 most important areas of my life has been profoundly helpful in improving my ability to make plans, decisions, and set goals for my work, my relationships and in basically every area of my life.  I feel like I have accomplished more in the last 4 months than I have in the last 4 years!  I’ve been announcing each one as they come, but here is the full list in case you’ve been curious: Continue reading

The $100 Bill

What would you do if I handed you a $100 bill?  

I once had a student who started cello lessons with me when he was 5 years old, and he LOVED the cello.  He loved playing the cello, he loved practicing the cello (as soon as he woke up-at 5am! Much to his parents’ dismay).  But he had this weird thing he did–He only used about 3 inches of bow–ever (probably due to the fact that he was trying not to wake his parents up!).  And every week he would come into his lesson, sad about his lack of tone, and I would say “Use your whole bow!  Use more arm weight! Yes!!!! Just like that! Do it again!  Terrific!  Okay.  Practice this piece like that, with big bows, and you’ll always sound like that”.  And he would leave his lesson super excited about knowing exactly what to do to get that great big cello sound he was after.  And then he would come in a week later, using only 3 inches of bow, and sad that he sounded so wimpy.  And we would repeat the cycle. Continue reading

My Healthy September Post-Mortem

Boy ,this month got busy!  I started out letting you know about my Month-long Focus Project on my Health and had every intention of posting a couple of times each week about various things.  Somehow, it is September 28th and I have posted not one lousy update.  So, here we are,  4 weeks into the month, and 2 days away from a glass of wine!  Here’s how it all went.

“Sober September”.  Paul and I managed to go an entire month without drinking alcohol.  To be fair, we each had 2 cheat days.  For him, it was after the last fitted dinghy race of the season.  Tradition holds that the trophy gets filled with rum and everyone passes it around and drinks from it (I know, gross, but they LIVE for this shit) and I sort of felt like it was an important moment for him since it was also (possibly?) marking his early retirement from fitted dinghy racing.  My cheat day was when I was out having dinner with some dear friends.   Our 2nd one was after I returned home from a couple of intense weeks in Boston, and we went out for a romantic dinner.  We each had a glass.  All told, we both had the equivalent of 1 day’s worth of wine over an entire month.  Not too shabby.  Lessons learned?  Well, it was a very boring month, to be sure. We didn’t go out as often and spent most of our evenings at home working.  A couple of times it felt silly not to be enjoying a nice glass of wine (when we were out for tapas, after a long tough day at work, etc).  But I think we both realized that most of the time we are sipping away, it’s mostly out of habit.  I was just as happy drinking a glass of Pellegrino while cooking dinner.  It didn’t have to be wine.  And Paul was just as happy with a cold glass of ginger beer as he would have been with a dark and stormy.  What we needed was the ritual of stopping our work days, pouring a glass of SOMETHING and hitting pause.   I don’t think that drinking wine is going to be a part of our daily routine anymore, and I also think I will appreciate having a nice glass of wine with a nice meal, or to celebrate a happy occasion–once in a while. Also?  I lost 7 lbs, so there’s that.

Eating healthy:  This one I wasn’t so strict about, though I did do a massive food shop and meal-prep when I got to Boston for two weeks of teaching and rehearsals.  I cooked up tons of vegetables, some salmon, chicken breasts, wild rice, and salad fixings and was happy as a clam for those two weeks.  I had options (chicken or fish? Broccoli or asparagus) but my choices were limited enough that I never had decision fatigue about my meals.  I would make a jar of chia pudding or overnight oats for breakfast and mix them up with some fresh berries and a little coconut yogurt.  Lunch would be a salad from my pre-cut veggies, and dinner would be equally easy.  I felt great, slept great, was hungry at mealtime, but not starving for snacks.  I brought mini packs of almonds and dried cranberries to rehearsals and that was basically it.  Unfortunately, when I got back to Bermuda, that plan went down the tubes.  Paul and I just like very different kinds of food. He likes to throw things together into a kind of stew/chili/casserole type of situation (served over starch) and I prefer my food to be cooked separately (but unlike a three year-old, it’s okay if they are touching on my plate).  I can’t deny how much worse I feel for how I’ve eaten the past two weeks vs. how great I felt the first two weeks, so I might need to put my foot down and make it happen (sorry, babe!)  We watched the documentary “What the Health” which everyone and their brother seems to be talking about.  Honestly, It made me question both the validity of their accusations (it all seemed a bit too much) and how much animal product I’m willing to have in my diet.  Since I have trouble being any kind of an extremist (I couldn’t even go 30 days without a glass of wine!) I hesitate to say I’m never going to eat meat or cheese again.  I have been using Almond milk and I switched to coconut yogurt, and I’m trying to be more mindful of meat and dairy choices.  Voilá.

Exercise: I did manage to get back into a running routine.  I maybe didn’t run as often as I wanted, but I managed a consistent 3-4 times a week.  I learned two things.  1) it’s a lot easier to run when your body is lighter.  Seriously, I always wondered how women who had never run before could throw on a pair of sneakers, and go out and run a 10K that first weekend, when, after months of running, I wouldn’t have even made it through a 10K without huffing and puffing.  Now I get it. They are tiny to begin with, and aren’t lugging as much weight around.  Even just dropping 7 lbs, I can run faster and farther and it feels easier.  So, here’s to the next 7 lbs, and the next.  2) having great music really helps.  I downloaded Kayla Itsines’s SWEAT playlist from itunes and it is amazing.  Love it.  I want more.  Need more.  Please send playlist suggestions ASAP!

Small habits and check-ups:  I took care of the two big one (or two)-offs: My annual “wellness exam” and mammogram with my Dr. and seeing my dentist for a cleaning and updated x-rays, and I tried to tweak little daily habits: flossing more regularly, drinking a tall glass of hot water with lemon before I have my coffee (and drinking more water in general) and doing more sit ups and squats and things like that around the house at random times.

So overall, I think my first Focus month was a pretty big success.  Aside from the weight loss, I definitely have more energy, my skin looks better, and I just feel like I am living a healthier life.  I feel good about setting up good habits that I can continue through the rest of the year, am in a good groove with my running routine and am excited to continue to tweak my (our) eating habits.

New post next week to announce my October Focus Project! I’m excited.