Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I've Heard that Song Before - Recipe for Change

"It seems to me I've heard that song before,
It's from an old familiar score
I know it well that melody."

I was listening to this song last week for the purpose of learning it. It was written by the famous team of Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, recorded by Harry James and his Orchestra with Helen Forrest on vocals and became a pop hit in early 1943. Like many songs of that era, it speaks to memories and love lost during wartime. Sad, but sweet.

It occurs to me that the lyrics of this song could relate to my life, and how some of the daily tasks or situations in which I find myself have been repeated over and over (I've heard that song before). I thought perhaps, while acknowledging that I recognize that it is a similar tune (I know it well, that melody), I could think of a different way to perform this tune (task or situation) to facilitate a different outcome. Even if the original outcome for me is working just fine.

For instance, I've read that putting your pants on starting with the "other" leg, forces you to reconsider that small act. I've tried this, and find that it does make you think differently, forcing you out of an old habit just for a moment (I habitually start with the right leg). Any yoga or pilates teacher or physical therapist will tell you that switching sides when vacuuming, raking or shoveling snow helps your body be more balanced in its strength and coordination. So although our natural proclivity may be to always vacuum right (or left) handed, it's worth it to give equal time to the other side - I know my brain works harder, less on automatic pilot when I vacuum or shovel left-handed. Perhaps a little slower at first, but I get the job done.

Another way to make a change and promote a different kind of balance: if I normally didn't greet the people I pass on my walks (or the cashier, mail carrier, or woman in the next office cubicle), I could try nodding my head or just saying hello, and see if that helps me feel friendlier and more connected to the people around me. The worst that could happen is that they don't return the favor - the best outcome (and I am one to assume the best of people) is that that friendly gesture makes both me and the recipient of the "hello" feel noticed and appreciated. Small gestures can be very powerful and are not to be underestimated.

Making small changes like this can feel like a challenge at first, but practiced over time, can lead us to more thoughtfulness about our daily life, a feeling of connection with those around us, and a new and satisfying comfort level with change. All of this may engender a renewed feeling of openness and well-being. Positively.

The photo above is of American singer Helen Forrest, who began singing at age 10, in her brother's band, worked for big band leaders Artie Shaw and Bennie Goodman, then Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton, before being hired by Harry James. She left Harry James' Orchestra in 1943 to pursue a solo career, appearing on radio and in movies before singing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, then led by Sam Donahue (it was the early 1960s). Helen Forrest recorded over 500 songs during her long career and didn't retire until her 70s, when arthritis forced her to give up performing. Given all that she did in her lifetime, she is clearly a great role model for change.


Maia Berens said...

I like the gentle challenge you've given yourself in order that you "wake up" more.

Savina said...

Yes, this is a great suggestion and observation. Making these small changes can only add to our being more aware and awake in the small tasks. They add up. And we feel more alive. Great article.

David G said...

One of my mentors, in his ISA Experience, 30 years ago advised just this kind of behavior to enable us to be more aware (Awake).
i.e. shaving with left hand instead of right.
What it forces us to do is be conscious of actions that are ordinarily done automatically, with no thought to them.

CTK1 said...

Well done Elaine. And I like the lyric comparisons to your life, maybe all of our lives.

I think these suggestions are all a terrific idea. Starting with the pants, very good... I never thought of doing that. Or switching my sides at all. And because of it my left side is quite weak. I'm going to implement this starting now. I already nod and say hello to people in stores, on the streets. Some folks hate it, some like it. I keep doing it regardless. I agree, it's a healthy way to be amongst the people. I hope doing all these things gives you a new side to view :)

Elaine Spitz said...

Thanks, David and Tina - I find my snow shoveling to be a bit awkward left-handed, but it'll get better (hopefully no practice on that any time soon). Here's to our "other side" and to thoughtfulness daily!

Wildflower Studio (Michelle Dransart) said...

Great post! I like to change it up every so often and wake up. I wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog and commenting too. Its so nice to meet new bloggers :)

Elaine Spitz said...

Thank you, Shell! Connecting and spreading positivity is what it's all about, at least in my mind. Let's visit again soon ...

Jude Russo Caserta said...

Great suggestions! Using the non-dominant hand is a great idea. We miss so much sometimes going through life in a seemingly hypnotic state.

Great blog! I look forward to reading more!


David G. Carpenter said...

Last night at our monthly fire circle I met a lady who is teaching "Brain Gym" a way, as I understand it of creating new brain pathways that lets the brain be more balanced between the left and right hemispheres using movement while learning. For more info: http://www.braingym.com