Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Key To Making Changes

It's not easy to make changes that effect one's life. In fact, when most people decide to take on a task such as this, they fail on the first couple of attempts. Ruts, routines, and simple convenience are the reasons folks tend to slump back into their old ways. Changing your life is definitely not an easy thing to do.

Take the age old practice of making New Years resolutions. Everyone has them. We want to lose weight. We want to stop smoking. We want to save more money. On and on it can go. Everyone knows these are things they ought to do, and deep down they really want to achieve these goals, it's just that habits truly are hard to break and when the job of breaking them becomes more like work than fun it is all too easy to give up. The initial desire fades over time.

Until it comes back. Then people find themselves angry and disappointed that they gave up. They feel like they are at the mercy of the very things they're trying to change. Worse, some people get the notion that because they did give up they must be a failure. This is where multitudes decide that they can't break old habits and they resign themselves to a future that includes whatever it was they wanted to change.

Nobody likes to feel like a failure. We're brought up being taught that we can be anything we want to be, and this is an adage that remains with us throughout our lives. The simple crux of it is that is a true lesson. We can be anything we want to be. Accepting that is the easy part. The hard part comes when people lack the skills to achieve their goals. They never learned how to do or to be whatever it is they've been dreaming about. They set themselves up for failure without even realizing it.

We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips. We have the technology to connect us to anything we want to see, have, do, or be. So why, in this day and age, are people still struggling with breaking habits that are detrimental to their physical and/or emotional well being? This should be easy, shouldn't it? In theory it is. In practice, the story is much different.

I'm a prime example. I had to wait to until I was in my late thirties to start the journey of realizing that I am responsible for my life. Whatever it is or is not, it's my choice. I can find excuses for not doing the things I dream about or I can get off my ass and decide to make things different. It all boils down to how badly I want the things I want.

I struggled with my weight for a long time. Up and down the scales would go. I had three sizes of clothes in my wardrobe: fat, fatter, and fattest. I knew I could control my weight but I found excuses not to do so. I was too busy to exercise or I didn't want to spend the money on healthier food or I was around people who broke down my resolve because I let their behavior influence mine. You see, it was much easier to just rely on these excuses to justify my unrealized dream of losing weight.

Then I woke up one day and it hit me right between the eyes that I would never make this dream of being smaller come true if I didn't get down to the task of doing it. I had some things to learn. I needed to know the nutritional aspects of the job I was undertaking. I had to talk myself into believing that time at the gym on a regular basis was a good thing. I also had to stop spending so much time around friends whose own poor choices I was allowing to intrude on my life. These weren't especially easy things to do when I set out on the journey, but I wanted to succeed more than I wanted to fail again.

That is the gist of what I'm getting at here. People need to realize that just because they didn't succeed in their first couple of attempts at making a life altering change doesn't mean that they can't eventually get there. What they must do is evaluate why they didn't make it. They've got to retrace their steps and find where they stumbled. Then they've got to start over again and make better choices. If they aren't sure what to do, the resources for finding out what they need to know are at their disposal.

Most importantly, you've got to stop believing your own excuses. You've got to realize that the decision is yours to make. If people or circumstances are holding you back, meet new people and get new circumstances. Nobody can do this for you. You've got to do it for yourself.

I have a saying that has become a creed of sorts in my life. "Success doesn't drive up to your house and honk the horn for you; you've got to go out and get it." Whatever it is you're trying to do, it's not going to simply fall into your lap. Anything you get that you didn't work for probably isn't worth very much to you in the grand scheme of things anyway.

To quote Judy Garland: "Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of somebody else." If you can bring yourself to believe that, you will move mountains if you so choose. It's never too late to start.


Thirty years ago today John Lennon was murdered outside his apartment building in Manhattan. At the young of 40, John and Yoko were returning from a recording session when crazed fan Mark David Chapman approached them from the sidewalk and shot John at point blank range. He died en route to the hospital.

John Lennon is perhaps best remembered as one of the Beatles. The 60's rock band that led the British Invasion into the US music scene, the Beatles are the most successful and the most popular group of the entire rock era. Topping the charts with one hit after another, John and his partners, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison became the phenomenon of the 20th Century. The legacy and the impression they left on popular music endures to this day.

When the group broke up in 1970, each of its members went on to successful solo careers. John, along with his wife Yoko Ono, became just as famous for his human rights campaigns as he ever was for his music. But it was his music that defined him and it is his music for which he is now remembered as a genius of the modern era.

Imagine is my favorite John Lennon performance. On this, the thirtieth anniversary of his senseless death, I like to imagine what it would have been like if that horrific evening never occurred and John had kept on making the kind of magic that only he could make. It's a nice fantasy, eh?

Wicked Wednesday

Judy Garland had one of the most successful careers in show business history. Rocketing to stardom as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she was only a teenager, Judy had already been making popular films with Mickey Rooney and she was also growing up, venturing into the fare that would take her into the next phase of her career.

Born Frances Gumm, Judy led a sad life by most accounts. Marred by failed marriages, inescapable financial problems, career setbacks, and a crippling drug addiction that ultimately led to her death in 1969, Judy’s world was a nonstop merry-go-round of ups and downs. The mother of Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft, Judy left behind a rich legacy of music, film, and television stardom when she made her all too early exit from this world.

Listening to her sing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas always gives me goose bumps. Originally introduced in her 1944 hit movie Meet Me in St. Louis, Judy continued to perform this holiday favorite each year until she passed. It’s a gem in a bubble in time that was forever captured for the ages.

This Day in History: December 8

1765 - Eli Whitney was born in Westboro, MA. Whitney invented the cotton gin and developed the concept of mass-production of interchangeable parts.
1776 - George Washington's retreating army in the American Revolution crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

1854 - Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The theory holds that Mary, mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment she was conceived.

1863 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln announced his plan for the Reconstruction of the South.

1863 - Tom King of England defeated American John Heenan and became the first world heavyweight champion.

1886 - At a convention of union leaders in Columbus, OH, the American Federation of Labor was founded.

1941 - The United States entered World War II when it declared war against Japan. The act came one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Britain and Canada also declared war on Japan.

1949 - The Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa due to Communists pressure.

1952 - On the show "I Love Lucy," a pregnancy was acknowledged in a TV show for the first time.

1953 - Los Angeles became the third largest city in the United States.

1962 - Workers of the International Typographical Union began striking and closed nine New York City newspapers. The strike lasted 114 days and ended April 1, 1963.

1980 - Zimbabwe’s manpower minister, Edgar Tekere, was found guilty in the killing of a white farmer. He was freed under a law that protected ministers acting to suppress terrorism.

1982 - Norman D. Mayer demanding an end to nuclear weapons held the Washington Monument hostage. He threatened to blow it up with explosives he claimed were inside a van. 10 hours later he was shot to death by police.

1984 - In Roanoke, Virginia, a jury found Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt innocent of libeling Reverend Jerry Falwell with a parody advertisement. However Falwell was awarded $200,000 for emotional distress.

1987 - U.S. President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty agreeing to destroy their nations' arsenals of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

1987 - The "intefadeh" (Arabic for uprising) by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories began.

1989 - Communist leaders in Czechoslovakia offered to surrender their control over the government and accept a minority role in a coalition Cabinet.

1991 - Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine declared the Soviet national government to be dead. They forged a new alliance to be known as the Commonwealth of Independent States. The act was denounced by Russian President Gorbachev as unconstitutional.

1992 - Americans got to see live television coverage of U.S. troops landing on the beaches of Somalia during Operation Restore Hope. (Due to the time difference, it was December 9 in Somalia.)

1993 - U.S. President Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.

1994 - Bosnian Serbs released dozens of hostage peacekeepers, but continued to detain about 300 others.

1994 - In Los Angeles, 12 alternate jurors were chosen for the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

1997 - The second largest bank was created with the announcement that Union Bank Switzerland and the Swiss Bank Corporation would merge. The combined assets were more than $590 billion.

1997 - Jenny Shipley was sworn in as the first female prime minister of New Zealand.

1998 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police could not search a person or their cars after ticketing for a routine traffic violation.

1998 - The FBI opened its files on Frank Sinatra to the public. The file contained over 1,300 pages.

1998 - Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi's first of eight babies was born. The other seven were delivered 12 days later.

1998 - AT&T Corp. announced that it was buying IBM's data networking business for $5 billion cash.

1998 - The first female ice hockey game in Olympic history was played. Finland beat Sweden 6-0.

1999 - In Memphis, TN, a jury found that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been the victim of a vast murder conspiracy, not a lone assassin.

1999 - Russia and Belarus agreed in principle to form an economic and political confederation.

2000 - Mario Lemieux announced to the Pittsburgh Penguins that he planned to return to the National Hockey League (NHL) as a player at age 35. He would be the first modern owner-player in U.S. pro sports.

Wednesday's Flashback

Stuck in 1985. Dare Me by the Pointer Sisters was one of the most played songs on radio that summer. The title track from their Contact album, it made the rounds endlessly on MTV with its funky video and the more airplay it received the higher it climbed on the charts. The Sisters’ last Top 20 hit, Dare Me has the edge that audiences had come to expect from them.

The Pointer Sisters were always known for their intricate harmonies, unbeatable sibling chemistry, and of course those hot songs that made them famous. After the triple platinum success of their 1983 album Break Out, Contact was a perfect follow up and Dare Me was just the ticket to keep them in ermine.

With younger sister June now deceased, Ruth and Anita are still touring with Ruth’s daughter Isa, and occasionally sister Bonnie, the original fourth member of the group. Hits like Dare Me, classic and always in demand on radio, continue to gain them new fans all the time. The Pointer Sisters are one of those groups whose popularity will forever rise.

Thought for Today

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. -- Judy Garland