Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On giving things up...

I confess that I was a "you-have-dirt-on-your-forehead" clueless person when I went to college, despite having ex-Catholic father. As an accordion player, however, I've grown rather close to Mardi Gras and thus Ash Wednesday too.

Lent, however, has always been about hitting as many Fish Fry Fridays as possible (purely for the fries, obviously). I'm not a religious person, and I don't care for the idea to give up things for the sake of giving them up -- and purely for 40 days.

I do, however, totally support the idea of attempting to do something for the next forty days.

You've probably heard how it takes 21 days to form a habit. Pushing it to 40, one would think, would mean that the last 19 days are just routine rather than effort.

As a music teacher, performer, and parent, I've got my own list of things I'd like to do for forty days in a row. I thought I'd throw some out there for you:

Ideas for what to do 40 days in a row:


1. Sing to your child. Everyone talks about the benefits of reading to your child. It's possibly the single-most important thing you can do for her -- other than providing the basics, obviously. But playing music with your child also provides brain stimulation, releases oxytocin and helps your child stay musical her whole life. Singing isn't just for bedtime routine. Try 40 days of singalongs -- even if you think you have no musical talent. 

2. Get your 10000 steps. Yes, I'm obsessed with my Fitbit (this #fitbitch says, "I have more steps than you!"). This snowstorm is putting a damper on it, but wouldn't it be just good habit to start walking to the grocery instead of driving that half-mile? Or just changing a few car-trips into walking-trips? I would love to see 10000 steps a day for the next 40 days. 

3. Home-cooked meals. Don't think of it as a moratorium on eating out; think of it as expanding your cooking repertoire. Eat real foods made in your own kitchen for 40 days in a row. (This might be the most challenging thing of all for me.)

4. Practice your instrument. If you're already taking lessons, then let these 40 days force you into a good routine. If you don't have a teacher anymore (or yet), then practice on your own. Practicing is hard -- even for a professional musician like me -- if you don't have a deadline or a goal. It is so satisfying to get a solid 30 minutes of practice a day. And so effective. My current goal: Mozart's Sonata V in G major ... just because I haven't played Mozart in ages. I should hold myself accountable by assuring you a YouTube concert after Easter. We'll see...

5. Learn a language. DuoLingo is free, and it's fantastic. 40 days in a row, and I suspect you'd be conversational. Seriously -- imagine that in just over a month, you could actually be able to speak another language. Why not do it?

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