Summertime: Ramping It Up

I strive (and often fail) to live my life in the same ebb and flow of the energy of the seasons. Spring and summer feel like natural times of year to be busy, enjoy being outdoors, connect with friends, try out new opportunities, etc. I try to skid to a halt in the autumn, and by winter, I want to sink into a pseudo-hibernation so I can recharge. Would that I could sleep through the winter… especially in Chicago… but really, what that means for me is attempting to stay home more, be still and quiet more often, and try and cultivate a feeling of regenerative peace. Never works. But I still make a worthy effort each year. I wrote a little bit more about the hows and whys of this practice last year over at Nature Nurtured.

But this is summer! Well, almost … it’s just around the corner. Suddenly, I look at my calendar and I am overwhelmed by the places I have agreed to be and the people I have chosen to connect with. This is all a good thing — it makes my little extroverted heart sing with delight.

Recently, I got to volunteer as a member of Game Control for the D.A.S.H, an annual nation-wide puzzle hunt. (Actually, I should say international – since this year they expanded across the pond to London.) My job was not incredibly difficult: pass out puzzles and, occasionally, bagels. But I still had a great time. It was enlightening for me to peek behind the curtain of a puzzle event and get a chance to connect with folks that not only really love puzzles, but really love creating this kind of experience. Since ‘creating experiences for people’ is my new mission in life, I soaked in as much as I could and laid some groundwork for continuing conversations about how to provide these sorts of opportunities on a regular basis. Oh, and the fact that I got to hang out with incredibly cool people didn’t hurt. Nor did the end-of-the-hunt margarita. All in all, a great day.

My online class on entrepreneurship with Coursera.org has started up. I’m now in week 2, and while there hasn’t been a whole lot of hands-on instruction yet, I am learning quite a bit about the entrepreneurial mindset. I am identifying areas where I have a lot of strengths and some traits that I might need to bolster in order to be successful. For a free course, it’s not bad at all. There are thousands of participants all over the world. I haven’t taken much advantage of networking over the online forums yet, but the opportunity is certainly there for me if I choose to use it.

In other news, I mentioned before that my dear friend and former roommate, Kevin Newhall, has his first CD coming out in a couple of weeks. (You can check out samples of his stuff on Reverbnation.) He is a piano player and songwriter with such a unique and beautiful sound. He asked me to perform with him at the release party, and we test-drove the duet we’re doing at an open mic a couple nights ago. I have never done an open mic before, so I was more than a little nervous. (Tried not to show it.) But we had a blast, the crowd really loved the song… and I think the actual show in a couple of weeks is going to be great. It’s a great, truly uplifting kind of song… really hard not to get engaged with it. It’s called “Today’s the Day,” and it’s all about taking life by the horns and getting stuff done — which sums up the energetic feel of my summer quite nicely.

Delight Report: 5/12/13

The last couple of weeks have been pretty rough work-wise. Frustrating circumstances and staffing conditions led to me working lots of additional hours on projects that were fairly stressful. But things have finally leveled out, and I can relax and get back to a few of the more important things on my agenda, like planning a wedding (not mine — I’m officiating) and continuing to work on my master plan for self-employment. Part of that master plan includes a class on entrepreneurship I am taking through Coursera.org, which if you’re not familiar with it, I encourage you check it out. It allows you to take college level courses from a number of reputable institutions — all online, all free. I think it is a remarkable service, and I am looking forward to seeing how this class pans out. It covers both the psychology of entrepreneurship as well as practical skills like drafting a business plan. Online learning hasn’t always worked out well for me, since I thrive on face-to-face interaction — but I am determined to give this one my full attention. Feel free to ask me how it’s going and help keep me honest.

I did get to take a mini-break during the work madness and drive out to Minneapolis. One of my nearest and dearest friends moved out there about 5 months ago, so it was the perfect excuse to visit her, see a bunch of people I love, and get to see the spectacle that is the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre Company‘s annual May Day Parade and Festival. “Spectacle” is truly the right word for it. Puppets on a grand scale, a ceremony that celebrates the return of the sun (Minnesota really needed that magic this year), and all sorts of wonderful moments and surprises. I was honored to help build the 7-circuit labyrinth that is a mainstay of the festival each year. I got to see so any wonderful folks I haven’t seen in a few years… it was just great to be there. Truly regenerating and truly magical.

I managed to survive the stressful work week and turn in the projects that were plaguing me – so I got to enjoy my weekend. Yesterday was spent with more gaming (referenced in the last Delight Report) and then an evening of relaxation, something that was a long time coming.

Today I got to go over to my friend Kevin’s place to rehearse a duet for his upcoming CD release party. If you’re near Chicago, the pertinent information can be found here. (A website with even more info and sample tracks is coming very soon.) Kevin is an incredible pianist, songwriter and lyricist. I have a hard time describing what his music is like… it really needs to be experienced. He lists his influences as David Byrne, Jill Sobule, Stephen Merritt, and Rufus Wainwright – but I think he truly has his own unique sound. And his lyrics are brilliant. Truly, truly brilliant. The man has a gift for wordplay and musicality that is quite impressive. I might be slightly biased… Kevin is a dear, dear friend – and a former roommate. But I can tell you, he would practice piano for hours when we lived together – and even though he played the same songs over and over, I never once got sick of hearing him … and believe me, that’s saying something. My attention span is not long. Getting to go over to his place today and hear him play made me both very happy and a little wistful. I miss having music in my life like that. But I digress. If you are in Chicago and free on June 15 — come see the show. I can guarantee a great audience, fabulous music and a wonderful time.

Kevin and I also have a long standing tradition of seeing comic book movies whenever they come out, so after rehearsing we topped off the day with lunch and a matinee of Iron Man 3. Lots of stuff blew up. In other words… it rocked.

I hope your week was full of all kinds of delights as well. Feel free to share them in the comments if you’re called.