Working at Enjoyment

It’s a weird concept but I’ve been thinking again recently about the self-discipline we require to do the things we love.

We might imagine that we’ll just get on and do the stuff we love doing and that we only need to discipline ourselves to do the things that we don’t like to do; the things we have to anyway.

It takes real discipline and resolve for me to do any gardening and a bunch of other things that aren’t really my thing but what about the things I really enjoy doing?

Shouldn’t those things come easily to me?

Perth’s beautiful weather makes my city the perfect place for cycling. It’s one of my favourite passtimes yet if I don’t discipline myself to get out there on my bike I’ll miss out on something I love. It’s easy to sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of rising early to ride with my cycling friends but I know that if I put in the effort I’ll get greater benefits from cycling than I would from an extra hour in bed.

When I force myself into the habit of regular cycling I feel fitter and more energised, yet that discipline can slip away so easily. With a ride right across Australia on the horizon next year, I’d better get that discipline happening soon or I’ll miss out on my big adventure.

If I love reading so much why do I need to discipline myself to sit down with a book for an hour?

A week or two can often go past without me sitting down to soak in some words from the pages of a good book yet when I make the time to read I can easily get lost among the words and I thoroughly enjoy every moment of it. Sitting down with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other is one of the most satisfying things in the world yet I can waste my time on the trivial things of life rather than reading.

We need to work on our relationships.

Some relationships are easier than others, but we even need to put in a great deal of effort on our relationships with those we love.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. ? Theodore Roosevelt

Do you find the same thing happening?

Are there things that you really love yet you find you have to discipline yourself to invest your time pursuing them?

I find the same thing with my faith. I’m never happier than when I feel that I’m in tune with the Creator yet I can let time slip through my fingers without making the effort to recharge my spiritual batteries.

The simple spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading the scriptures, reflecting and others that are absolutely life giving can be easily crowded out in our busy world.

Why do we let ourselves get robbed of the real stuff of life?

It’s somehow strange that we should have to exercise discipline and self-control to do the things that make us feel most alive but sadly it’s true. I guess that’s where priority setting comes into play.

What are you like at doing the things that you love? Are there things you love, things that truly energise you, that you have let slip away?

(This post previously published here at RodneyOlsen.net)

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Bing and Bowie 40 Years Later

I’ve got over four hundred Christmas songs on my iPod and they’ve been filling our home and my car with Yuletide cheer … whatever that is. Everyone from Michael Buble to Diana Krall, Bing Crosby, Run DMC, Barry White, The Wiggles, Guy Sebastian, Jimmy Barnes and even Russel Coight, along with many others, are singing about Christmas.

And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this song. It’s very much part of the soundtrack of my life. I’m not a huge fan of the song Little Drummer Boy but I am a fan of both Bing Crosby and David Bowie so I love hearing their Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth medley around this time every year. The chat at the start of the video is cheesy and somewhat awkward but I just love it.

Bing Crosby was my dad’s favourite singer and Bowie has always been a favourite of mine so to have the two of them combined has always been pretty special for me.

While the single wasn’t released until 1982, the video was shot in September 1977, just over 40 years ago, for Bing’s Christmas special. Unfortunately he never saw the special aired. Bing Crosby died of a heart attack in October 1977. Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas was broadcast on CBS in the United States on the 30th of November, 1977.

Little Drummer Boy was written back in 1941 with Peace on Earth written especially for this collaboration.

Do you have a favourite Christmas song? Do you have a favourite artist at Christmas time? Does Mariah Carey’s very successful Christmas album get a spin at your place each December?

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Let the Music Play

The old song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” but not everyone’s convinced. Either way, you can’t escape the all pervasive sounds of sleigh bells and cheery Christmas music at this time of year.

For some people it rings out the happy news that the big day is imminent. Others are left asking, “How did we get here so quickly?”

It’s the first day of December. Christmas is around the corner. That means it’s time for me to press play on my selection of Christmas music.

I’ve got over four hundred Christmas songs on my iPod. There are songs about snow and the cold weather, which sound really weird when we’re looking down the barrel of hot summer days, through to odes to a fat guy in a red suit.

Everyone joins in with music from Michael Buble to Diana Krall, Bing Crosby, Run DMC, Barry White, The Wiggles, Guy Sebastian, Jimmy Barnes and even Russel Coight, along with many others. There aren’t too many musos who haven’t released something Christmassy over the years.

Then, among all the excitement of all that the big day holds, comes songs that tell of something deeper. I love all the fun of the season but the Christmas music that speaks most clearly to me is the music that tells the simple story of a baby, born two thousand years ago in humble surroundings, and arriving with the massive task of healing a broken world.

One of the songs that captures that story the best is still Randy Stonehill’s Christmas Song for All Year Round. It not only speaks of the baby we celebrate at this time of year but of the price he paid on our behalf.

Christmas Song for All Year Round
-Randy Stonehill

I wonder if this Christmas they’ll begin to understand
The Jesus that they celebrate is much more than a man
‘Cause the way the world is I don’t see how people can deny
The only way to save us was for Jesus Christ to die

And I know that if St. Nicholas was here he would agree
That Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me
They led him to the slaughter on a hill called Calvary
And mankind was forgiven when they nailed him to the tree

But most of all the children they’re the ones I hope will learn
That Jesus is our savior and he’s going to return
And Christmas isn’t just a day and all days aren’t the same
Perhaps they’ll think about the word and see it spells his name

And I know that if St. Nicholas was here he would agree
That Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me
They led him to the slaughter on a hill called Calvary
And mankind was forgiven, mankind was forgiven
We were all forgiven when they nailed him to the tree

So Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

I wonder if this Christmas they’ll begin to understand??

What is your favourite Christmas music?

Do you have a favourite Christmas song? Do you have a favourite artist at Christmas time? Will your songs be filled with sleigh bells or a saviour?

Let me know about your musical tastes around Christmas.

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Farewell Glen Campbell

Glen-Campbell

The world has lost a great talent with the passing of musician, songwriter, presenter and actor, Glen Campbell. He was 81 years of age.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Glen is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, TN; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; ten grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.

Campbell released more than 70 albums during a remarkable 50 years in show business. He sold 45 million records during his lifetime. Among the 70 albums there were 12 Gold albums, four Platinum albums and one Double-platinum album.

He also won many awards including five Grammy Awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame honors and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Academy of Country Music awards and a 1998 Pioneer Award recognition, three American Music Awards, two Country Music Association Awards and a 2005 Country Music Hall of Fame induction, three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.

The Final Years

In a sad twist, the man who created so many memories for millions of people slowly lost touch with his own memories.

In June 2011, Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six months earlier. According to his family, symptoms of the disease had been occurring for years, becoming more and more evident as the years progressed.

Campbell went on a final “Goodbye Tour”, with three of his children joining him in his backup band; his final show was on November 30, 2012, in Napa, California. During the tour’s concerts and rehearsals, Campbell would often forget which songs he was supposed to play, repeating them after finishing a performance. He also frequently had to be reminded that he did have the disease, and relied on a teleprompter to remember the lyrics to most songs. Newer songs from his later albums had to be scrapped altogether, as Campbell struggled to remember the chords and lyrics for these. He performed “Rhinestone Cowboy” as a goodbye at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 12, 2012, his final televised on-stage performance.

In April 2014, news reports indicated that Campbell had become a patient at an Alzheimer’s long-term care and treatment facility. On March 10, 2015, NBC News reported that Campbell could no longer speak for himself.

On March 8, 2016, the Rolling Stone reported that Campbell was living in a Nashville memory care facility and that he was in the “final stages” of his disease. – Wiki

A Personal Reflection

Back in February 2008 I took my then 11 year old daughter, Emily, to see Glen Campbell performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) at the Burswood Theatre in Perth. The concert was absolutely amazing.

I’d never really been a big Glen Campbell fan before seeing his show but many of his songs have helped fill out the soundtrack of my life. At that time I was working in radio and I was asked by WASO if I’d like the opportunity to interview Glen’s daughter Debby on 98five Sonshine FM just before Christmas 2007. At that stage Debby was travelling and singing with her dad on some of his tours.

I enjoyed chatting to Debby (You can hear the interview by using the audio player at the bottom of this post.) and when I was asked if I’d like to go to the show I was more than happy to accept.

Having WASO involved always meant that it would be a spectacular show but it was even more impressive than I could have hoped.

Glen Campbell took to the stage and opened with Gentle On My Mind then Galveston and then continued to roll out hit after hit. His voice was in fine form but his guitar playing was extraordinary. Seeing him play the William Tell Overture on his 12 string electric guitar was breath taking. When he perched the guitar on top of his head and continued playing at lightning speed I just thought to myself that a guy of his age really shouldn’t be able to do that. He was 71 years of age at the time but apparently no one had told his fingers that.

When Debby was introduced I was ready for a change of pace and possibly some good vocals. She blew me away. She has a magnificent voice and it amazes me that she isn’t recording and performing full time. As well as doing a few songs on her own she joined her father for a number of duets. Brilliant.

The song I was really wanting to hear was the first one after intermission. As soon as the orchestra started playing I knew that Witcheta Lineman was on the way. It’s a song I love and the performance didn’t dissapoint.

Towards the end of the evening Glen Campbell walked on stage with some bagpipes which he said are the most temperamental instrument he’d ever tried to master. He used the bagpipes to great effect during a moving rendition of Amazing Grace.

The evening was completed with a fantastic version of McArthur Park. It’s an incredible piece of music and the orchestra really got the opportunity to show just how good they are by performing faultlessly.

Oh … and about me saying that I’d never really been a big Glen Campbell fan … I sure am now. I added some of his music to my collection right away and always enjoy listening to such an enormously talented man.

Glen Campbell will be sadly missed by millions.

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Soundtrack of My Life – Laughing With

Most of us have heard the quote “There are no atheists in trenches.”

Whether that’s true or not, there is something about difficult times that bring our deeper thoughts and beliefs to the surface. It’s when we’re in the trenches of everyday life people often look for higher meaning and search for something or someone bigger than themselves.

Soundtrack of my LifeThis is one of a regular series of articles highlighting some of the music that has played a part in my life. You’ll find a range of songs from old to new. Whether it’s the lyrics, the music, a time in my life, or a combination of reasons, the songs in my soundtrack are part of who I am.

If you take a good look you’ll probably find music that has been part of the soundtrack of your life too. You can also check out some of the other songs that make up the soundtrack of my life.

Laughing With – Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor is one of my all-time favourite singer/songwriters. Laughing With was the first single from her 2009 album, Far.

In a world where God and faith are increasingly seen as nothing more than objects of ridicule, this song reminds us that there are moments that bring sharper focus to the bigger questions of life.

Spektor also touches on the fact that part of the reason that many people are laughing at God is that some of His supposed followers have twisted his message. She sings about the ‘crazies’ who tell us God hates us as well as those pushing a ‘prosperity gospel’ that imagines God as some kind of genie waiting to grant our every wish.

Her interest in religion and religious themes doesn’t indicate a personal faith but there’s plenty we can take from her music and her observations on faith. Spektor spoke to Spin Magazine about her interest with religion in 2009 when the Far album was released.

I’m always fascinated with faith, religion, and spirituality, and what those things are to each other, or how they come together or don’t come together.”

When I was done with this record I was like, “Whoa, I have a lot of stuff here that’s just about, like, religion.” Which is amazing. It wasn’t planned, but it’s one of those concepts that my mind is just fascinated with, and I’m always mulling over. Sometimes I’m really positive about religion, but, you know, sometimes I’m really sarcastic about it, too. Hey, that’s God, that’s life! – Spin

Lauging With

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke,
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’ve lost all they’ve got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughing at God in hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God

I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

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