Lines on Ale by Edgar Allan Poe (Pocket Poem)

Lines on Ale

by Edgar Allan Poe

 

Fill with mingled cream and amber, I will drain that glass again.

Such hilarious visions clamber through the chamber of my brain –

Quaintest thoughts – queerest fancies come to life and fade away;

What care I how time advances: I am drinking ale today.

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Quix Tip: Here’s Your Change

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  1. Pick a change that you’d like to initiate this month. Ask yourself:
  2. What visible changes would you like to make in one month? What has been cold and dormant in you waiting for new energy? What dream would you like to make visible to the world by the end of the month?
  3. You can track your deadline by looking up into the sky at night and watching the moon’s progress to full at the end of the month.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities:

How to Lead Change – Learn how to be an effective change leader and lead positive change that lasts.
Change Quest – Time for you and your team to evolve quickly, whether you’re driving the change or the rest of the world is.
40 Days to Change For Good – Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts.

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Quix Tip: Breathe

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Breathing is not only the most important part of yoga, it is the most important part of being alive.  Your body completes this simple, beautiful task every moment of your life without the mind having to keep track of it, or put it on the To Do list. Beyond feeding the body with oxygen, breathing can pull you out of fretting about the past or future and connect you to the present moment. There is no other place, no other time that the breath can happen than right here, right now.

  1. You may find it helpful to close your eyes.
  2. Notice how you’re naturally breathing. Follow your breath’s path. Is it labored, shallow, quick, full, excited?
  3. Take a full, slow inhale, filling and relaxing the belly. Don’t strain, just allow the filling of new life, new oxygen, new energy.
  4. Pause at the top of the cycle of breath when you are completely full. What does it feel like to be completely full, to be at the moment of completion?
  5. Release your breath fully and deeply in a long, slow, relaxed manner. Slowly, deeply, fully, let your breath release all tension, worry, fatigue in your body and mind.
  6. Pause at the bottom, the place of no breath, completely empty. What does it feel like to have released everything and be in a moment of empty stillness?
  7. It may help your noticing to make the sound of your breath audible.

You can do this slow noticing anytime, anywhere for as long or as short a time as you’d like. Your breath is a simple gift that is always with you, a golden ticket that can be consciously used at any moment to bring you in good relation to the most wonderful place and time – right here, right now.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities:

Office Yoga – Learn simple techniques to stay productive at your desk or energize your off-site.

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Play the Symphony of Your Day

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 “I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear…each one singing his…each singing what belongs to her and none else.” – Walt Whitman

Take a moment to search with your ears to the sounds around you. It may be helpful to close your eyes – sound is noticed more fully when the eyes are closed. Take in your office symphony, the symphony of your day. You may hear people in the cubes next to you or elsewhere in the office talking on the phone, the click of a keyboard, people walking by, the ding of the microwave in the office kitchen. Perhaps you’re at home, out on the deck with a cup of tea, hearing birds and distant traffic. These sounds are part of the symphony created for you today, the symphony you’re part of.

There is a commonality in playing this symphony with your co-workers, with other commuters on the road or in the train, with your family at home. We’re all part of this day’s symphony and we’re all contributing our small parts. You are contributing to my symphony by reading these words even if I can’t physically hear you in this moment. Perhaps there’s a way we can see beauty, or at least a poignancy in every part that is played.

“What we play is life.” – Louis Armstrong

There is an inherent playfulness and joyfulness in music. We play music, we don’t work music. So if this day is a symphony, you have an opportunity to play your part well and to move through the music in a lighter, more playful manner than if today was just comprised of worry, deadlines, demands and drudgery. Even if that’s what this symphony sounds like to you, how can you conduct that same music in a lighter way? Classical music aficionados collect different versions of the same piece of music by different conductors and different orchestras. Even though the notes are written the same each time, the playing can be very different. And even though your day’s demands may be written very clearly, there is a great deal of freedom available within that existing framework.

“What he does is real, and true, and honest, and simple, and even noble. Every time this man puts his trumpet to his lips, even if only to practice three notes, he does it with his whole soul.” – Leonard Bernstein on Louis Armstrong

That freedom to play within the existing structure is very simple. Listen to the reality of this present moment – the sounds of today’s symphony – and listen to what your whole self, your “whole soul”, wants to give. Then contribute your part. You’re contributing something already. If you consciously listen outwardly and inwardly, your contribution transforms into your best, and you help not only your passage through your day but everyone around you. Every day, every moment, every action holds within it the possibility to give something that is, like Louis Armstrong, real, true, honest, simple and noble. We all could use some more playfulness, more joy, and more connection in our lives. If you want to see that change, perhaps today you can be that change and play the symphony of your day with your whole soul, no matter how humble. Like Louis Armstrong, play your life. And you too, like Walt Whitman, will hear America singing.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities:

Play the Blues – As featured on NPR and in The Meeting Professional  - Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together!

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Try Something New: The Optimism Test

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What happens when you try something new that is in some way challenging? How do you react you when you don’t quite get a new skill right away, or master a task? What do you tell yourself?

These are questions I ask during our music team building programs, whether it’s Play the Blues, Rock Band Inc. or Bang On My Drum All Day. All of these programs let people try out a new skill. And just like the first time someone tries to ride a bicycle, there are moments of failure before playing a song successfully. And the responses I hear and see from people holding harmonicas or drums for the first time are varied, even in a small group. In any given program, I’ll see enthusiasm, tension, playfulness, intense concentration, laughter, frustration, hesitation, excitement and defeat within a minute of starting.

The two ends of the response scale, the enthralled excitement and the giving up, especially intrigue me – what makes some people give up on a new challenge and what makes others thrive and take that challenge on, whether they are actually seeing progress yet or not? It’s especially interesting because something like a harmonica or a drum has a relatively low threshold level of expertise, unlike complex tasks such as learning a new computer program, learning to play the oboe, or even driving a car.

A Moment of Truth

I like to think of the moment of truth for people in these workshops (and in the myriad moments when we’re confronted with new challenges in an ever-changing world) as an optimism test. If you give up on something small, whether because of unrealistically high expectations (“I’ve been playing for five minutes and I still don’t sound like the guy on those Muddy Waters albums yet”), ‘challenge overload’ at work, or a myriad of other reasons, odds are you’re likely to give up more quickly when large challenges come your way.

Conversely, if you stick with something new, stay humble, are able to laugh at yourself gently, and have some faith that “I’ll be able to play something for my kids when I get home even if it doesn’t sound like much now,” you also stand a good chance at approaching life’s larger challenges with that same positive attitude.

Our Capacity for Happiness

Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, (http://www.authentichappiness.com/) has spent a lifetime studying optimism and pessimism, happiness and depression. He says that how we explain events to ourselves when we fail is a key determinant for our capacity for happiness. He says, “When we fail, we all become at least momentarily helpless.” Whenever we try something new, we fail many times in small ways – we fall off the metaphorical bike, again and again.

But what do you do then? Do you give up? There are people out there who have given up on riding a bicycle, finding true love, making a positive difference at work, writing a book, giving the best of themselves. What stops us from living our best lives?

Seligman notes that people who explain events in a pessimistic style feel helpless when something bad happens. They see momentary misfortune as being permanent and universal. “I wasn’t able to play that note just then and Sarah next to me could” becomes “Everyone’s getting this except me. I can’t play this thing. I’ve never been able to play music. My first grade teacher told me I was tone-deaf and she was right. I’ll never be any good at this!”

The Optimism Edge

Optimistic people see failures as temporary, with specific causes for the failure. So, “I wasn’t able to play that note just then and Sarah next to me could” becomes “That was the first time I tried getting that note. It makes sense that I wouldn’t get it right away, but I know I will.”

Other optimistic thoughts that might follow? “This is just like learning to golf last year. It wasn’t until the 100th swing that I started to get a little of the magic of the game. I’m going to keep trying, I know I can get better at this – if Sarah can do it, so can I. And my kids are going to be really excited when I play a song for them tonight before they go to bed.”

Research shows that optimistic people are physically and mentally healthier, and more successful in school, sports, and work. But how do you exercise your ‘optimism muscle’ and stay in the game, no matter how tough it gets?

 

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities:

Play the Blues – As featured on NPR and in The Meeting Professional 
Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together!
40 Days to Change For Good – Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts.
Resiliency: Five Keys to Success – Leverage the five principles of resiliency – engagement, efficiency, endurance, flexibility, and loving the game – for peak work performance and enjoyment.

Posted in Happiness, Persistence, Positive Psychology, Resiliency | Comments closed

Quest Story: drumSTRONG

drumSTRONG is the world’s longest continuous rhythm DRUM-A-THON. Produced by DrumsForCures, the event showcases cancer health resources and features non-stop drumming for 26 hours. “We are making a sound impression on the health complexion of our community beating cancer!” founder Scott Swimmer says.

“It’s probably the hardest thing in the world to hear that your child has cancer” – Scott Swimmer, founder of the drumSTRONG event.

In 2004, Scott Swimmer’s son Mason was diagnosed with cancer. After riding in Lance Armstrong’s 2006 Ride for the Roses, Scott and Mason came up with the idea of drumSTRONG on the plane ride home as an inclusive way of bringing a community of people together to support cancer survivorship, education and raise money for treatments and cures. People that may not be able to walk, run or ride a bike to raise money and awareness can still play a drum, they reasoned.

Every year in May, people gather outside of Charlotte, North Carolina and drum together, soliciting for per hour drumming sponsorships to benefit local and national cancer initiatives. A young woman in the throes of cancer named Jennifer J. travelled to the 2008 drumSTRONG event from Austin, Texas with her nurse and 10-year old son. She loves music (especially the Beatles) and wanted her son to share this experience with her so that for the rest of his life whenever he heard rhythm he would think of her.

It was a pivotal time for Jennifer, and inspired to her to take belly-dancing lessons and drum in full-moon drum circles on her return to Austin. She keeps a picture of the sunrise at drumSTRONG near her and told Scott, “This is what I wake up to and wake up for – to see the sun rise at drumSTRONG again.”

Visit drumstrong.org to learn how you can help. Quixote Consulting donates a portion of the fee from Bang On My Drum All Day to DrumsForCures.

 

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities:

Bang On My Drum All Day – Get in sync with one another and drum up good business practices.

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Quix Tip: Play Your Work as A Ballad

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  1. Pick one thing on your To Do list today
  2. Notice the tempo you usually choose to do that task
  3. Consciously slow down your speed
  4. Play it as a ballad - slow and pretty
  5. Notice what changes when you introduce space, beauty and feeling into the mix

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Persist Like a Phoebe In Her Nest

Every year a phoebe builds a nest somewhere on our house. This year she built it on the crook of a gutter drainpipe above the walkway to the house, a highly trafficked area. If I’m out on the patio or on the back deck, I can look over and see her sitting on the eggs in her nest.

She built it herself – that’s what phoebes do. The male accompanied her, but it took her close to two weeks to build it out of mud, leaves, moss and hair. Now she’s sitting on the eggs. They incubate for about two weeks. Then the hatchlings will be born – helpless and eyes closed – and she’ll care for them for another 2-3 weeks.

I’ve been appreciating her consistency of commitment. There have been some severe temperature fluctuations the last few weeks. And some intense weather – driving rain, high winds, abnormally hot days, followed by 40-degree nights. Through all of it she continues her commitment to her eggs, never acting upset or concerned. If I can’t sleep at night, it helps knowing that she is out there, continuing her faithfulness. As I type these words, I can see her.

We all have passions we commit ourselves to. It could be work related, or it might be your family, or gardening, or writing, or playing music, or being in nature. And we all can use inspiration to continue that commitment. If this phoebe is helpful, use it. Or look for another inspiration – a reason why you’re committing again and again to something that you care about where the outcome is unknown. Inspiration helps.

And so does appreciation. Appreciation is the antidote to worry. Perhaps you can pause right now and appreciate yourself for continuing to persist, to do the difficult work of being alive and awake on the earth.

Here’s to your commitment to your passion you’re incubating this lovely month!

Posted in Nature, Passion, Persistence, Purpose, Put It Together | Comments closed

Quix Tip: Thank a Military Family

Connect with purpose by reaching out and thanking a military service member, their family or a veteran. Here are three ways to thank. Try any and all:

Reach out personally to someone you know who serves, served or is the family member of someone who serves and thank them for their sacrifice. Make or buy them a nice meal or make them a little care package.

Write a thank you to a military family here and it will be sent to a family who could use the contact.

Pause what you are doing right now and take three deep breaths. On each inhale, take in the extraordinary amount of selflessness that exists in the world, in this case through serving in a country’s military and families supporting the service member. On each exhale, breathe out a long exhale of appreciation for them and wish them well, to continue in happiness and safety.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities:

Military Salute – Teams build care packages to be given to soldiers stationed overseas.
Teams Joining Forces – Craft care packages to be given to military families with soldiers stationed overseas.
Veteran Tribute – Teams build care packages to be given to disabled, underserved and homeless military veterans.

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Quix Tip: How to Play Lightly

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  1. Notice a spot in your work that is calling for a very rapid tempo.
  2. Imagine what you could do to do that work perfectly.
  3. Now note what the minimum is that you could do right this moment.
  4. Notice which of the two approaches is going to allow you to produce something right now.
  5. Start by just doing one thing and sending it out into the world.
  6. Celebrate the sending of a note from you, perfectly imperfect.
  7. Repeat – play lightly all day

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities:
Give the Kids Music – Learn to play and build musical instruments and then give the gift of music to underserved children.
Music of Teams – Music of Teams links music and the effective team and transforms your people into musicians of their work.
Build a Team Song - Write, record and perform an amazing team theme song.

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