Friday, May 31, 2013

Are You Going to Try or Not?

Hi All!

Hope you had a good week -- it was busy, busy again here this week.

Gary Burton
Don't recall if I mentioned (although I'm sure I did) that I'm taking an online class through  It's a free mini-class offered by Berklee School of Music -- a Jazz Improvisation class taught by Gary Burton.  I'm not a jazz person, so I didn't know who Gary Burton was -- turns out he's a famous (in jazz circles) multi Grammy winning musician.  Has taught at Berklee for 33 years as well as touring the world with his group.

I'm enjoying seeing something different -- I'm pretty familiar with Celtic, Folk, and Rock music, but don't know jazz at all.  Interesting seeing the different emphasis (chords are sophisticated and are the story in jazz, not so in the genres I'm familiar with).  Because of the chord sophistication, you can actually use all of the main modes (scale patterns) when soloing.  In the genres I knew, you can get by with a Pentatonic scale almost all of the time (especially with Rock).

I'm kind of geeky, so I really got into the technical parts of the class -- but enjoyed the last part most when Gary just spoke about music.  He compared it to speech -- it uses grammar, it needs to stop to take breath, it tells a story. (Actually, I'm glad he did that because I was starting to get lost in the technical stuff!)

Anyway, as part of the assignments we have to record solos over various jazz backings.  That's been taking a surprisingly large amount of my time lately -- between that and work, I haven't done much else.

Only two more solos to record, though -- then it's on to the next class!  If you're looking for fun things to do, check out the free courses at  There are hundreds in many different categories (not just music) and they're all free!

Okay, enough about me -- let's jump into this weekend's reading.

Well, maybe one point before the reading.  Someone sent me an email commenting on what a prior reading "told" them to do.  I just wanted to stress that the readings don't really "tell" you to do anything -- they simply suggest things that you might consider.  After considering a particular point, you might accept it ... or reject it.  It's the considering part that counts -- helps you see different perspectives and maybe understand yourself (and others) a little better.

Okay, now the reading!

We start with ... the 8 of Swords.

This card suggests those times when you feel trapped by circumstances.  Maybe you're in a position or place you don't want to be -- but you feel you can't get out of it because external circumstances are keeping you there.

This card depicts a young women trapped by a cage of swords.  She's bound and blindfolded; she's on a beach where the tide is coming in.

At least, that's what it looks like at first glance!  This women really seems trapped by things around her ...

Until we note that the cords binding her are really pretty loose -- she can easily wriggle out of them and can then remove her blindfold.  The "cage" of swords is full of gaps -- she can easily walk past them and walk away from the rising tide.

The message -- this woman is only trapped if she decides to remain trapped.  If she decides to try and escape, she can take control and manage the situation in order to free herself.

And the same message applies when we feel trapped in a situation.  We can acquiesce and just accept the situation -- or we can take control and do something about it.  It's not the situation that's forcing us to remain trapped -- it's our own choice whether we do or not.

What happens if we do take control?  Our second card offers a suggestion -- the Six of Wands.

This Six suggests a victory parade -- we've been successful in our endeavors and are now receiving the acclaim (from others ... or from ourself) for that success.  Doesn't mean that we won't face more challenges later on -- just that we should take a moment to enjoy what we have achieved at this point.

When we put these together, we might feel that the "success" isn't necessarily happening when we break away from an undersirable situation.  It instead comes when we take control of ourselves and try to manage things the way we want them managed.  Whether we succeed or not isn't important -- it's that we're trying to succeed that counts!

Sometimes we have to fail several times before we finally break through -- but if we never try in the first place, we're guaranteed we'll never succeed at all.

And that's it for this time -- have a great weekend, and I'll talk to you again next week.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Be Hard-Headed!

Hi all!

If this was a holiday weekend for you, I hope you had a good one.

The Memorial day stereotype is that everyone barbecues -- doesn't apply at my house.  I'm not allowed to barbecue any more.  No matter how I try, my gently smoking pit always instantly turns into a roiling blob of flames!  It's really frustrating, because I used to be pretty successful when I was younger -- maybe they're making the meat differently now?

No, I know it's that I get distracted and don't pay attention when I shoulda oughta be paying attention.  Oh well.  Would be nice to find something to blame instead!

Let's jump into this reading -- we'll start with our first card, The Magician.
The Magician suggests someone who won't take "no" for an answer.  He knows what he wants to achieve -- and he's going to make it happen.  He doesn't get discouraged if things don't work out initially -- he's too focused on his goal to worry about that.  He'll deal with temporary "bumps" along the road and wills himself forward when others might give up.

The Magician doesn't give up.  Frankly, he's too much of a hardhead to do so!

Let's see where this is heading -- with our second card, the Five of Swords.
Interestingly enough, this card kind of emphasizes this message -- don't give up when you encounter difficulties.

Some folks see this card as a negative one -- I always see it as someone who has faced greater odds and overcame them.

When we put these two together, we're reminded that if we really want to achieve our desired goal -- and we really want to put the effort in to make it happen -- then we're not going to be discouraged by what may seem to be difficult challenges.  Rather than seeing them as obstacles that can stop us, we should see them as temporary issues that need to be resolved so that we can move forward towards our goal.

So -- put on your hard head, dig your heels in the ground, and willfully press forward to your goal.  That's the big picture you want to focus on!

More later this week -- have a great one!


Friday, May 24, 2013

You Know the Answer!

Hi All!

Hope your weeks been doing well -- I've been in a training class most of the week.

I have to admit that most of the training classes I've been in during my professional life haven't been all that useful.  They may have introduced an interesting idea or two, but most of the time was just thumb-twiddling to fill up the schedule.

This class was an exception -- practically every minute was loaded with great information.  I'm really thinking I'll be able to apply everything I learned to be more effective. 

Wish there were more like that!

On to the weekend reading!

We'll start with ... the Nine of Swords.
Some folks see this as a really negative card -- but I normally see it as just describing a real situation.  We've seen this card fairly recently -- it suggests "worry" -- the kind of worry that might keep you from sleeping -- you just can't stop thinking about a difficult situation.

I don't see this as a negative card because it honestly describes something we all face.  Every one of us has gone through this before -- and we'll go through it again.  We can always anticipate facing a vexing situation that causes us anxiety.

And this is okay -- it's okay to be concerned about a problem.  What we want to be wary of is not moving from that "worry" state; we instead should look for ways to resolve the situation.

Sometimes that means we try to solve the problem -- sometimes that means we learn to accept the situation -- and sometimes it means we try to find an alternative and leave the problem behind us.  No matter what we choose, we need to move on.

How can we move on -- well, let's see what our second card suggests ... the King of Swords.
I may have said this before -- whenever I see the King of Swords, I see my Dad glaring at me after I'd done something really stupid.  He's asking "Why did you do that -- you knew better!  You knew what that right thing to do was!"  And ... he was right.  I did know what the proper course of action was -- I just didn't take it.

This King always knows the right thing to do.  He doesn't care if it's a difficult thing -- if it's the right answer, then it's the right answer and that's all there is to it.

What this means is that when we're faced with a worrying problem -- in the back of our minds, we know how to solve it.  We just don't always want to listen to ourselves -- because maybe the answer is too difficult.  Doesn't matter -- if it's the right thing to do, then it's the right thing to do!

When you think about it, it's really silly to agonize and say "What should I do? What should I do?" when you already know what you should do.  What you're really saying is "I know what to do, but I'm reluctant to do it."  That's okay -- but it's a completely different situation from the first one described.  You're not worrying about the problem; you're worrying about being able to implement the solution.

Be honest with yourself -- when faced with a difficult situation, can you see the right thing to do?  If so, then don't worry about the problem any more -- instead, start working on how you can achieve the solution.

That's it for now -- hope you have a great weekend (and it's a long weekend for many of us!  Hope you enjoy it!)


Friday, May 17, 2013

The "Old Fashioned" Way

Hi Again,

Managed to clear things away in time ... so we get a weekend reading this time around!

Nothing too special happened this week -- just a lot of busy.  That's not so bad, it helps the week go by quickly. 

Don't have a lot of plans for the weekend -- will play it by ear.  Will try to get out of the house so that I don't get roped in to doing chores!

How about that reading -- our first card is the Three of Pentacles.
I usually see this as a "Joy of Work" card -- it suggests that feeling you have when you're doing a task and are doing it really, really well.  Rather than avoid taking on tasks, we might look at them as opportunities to exercise our skills and grow in our capability.  How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice!

Where will this approach lead us -- our second card suggests ... The World!

There are three or four "happy ending" cards in the deck -- and this one is the best one of all.  It suggests that all the pieces come together in the best way at the best time.

Not a whole lot of analysis necessary here -- short answer: if you work hard, you'll be successful.  Doesn't mean you'll become Bill Gates, but it does suggest that the rewards you'll achieve after working honestly and effectively will be the rewards you'll most appreciate when you receive them.

Remember that old Smith-Barney commercial?  "Smith Barney makes money the old-fashioned way -- they EARN it!" (wow, am I dating myself!)  There's no secret to success -- you don't have to be lucky ... just work hard and you'll receive the success you deserve.

That's the short and quick of it -- hope you have a great weekend!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Something you can always count on ...

Hi All!

Hope your week's started off okay -- mine jumped right into busy-busy-busy ... but I'm hoping for a break in action in a day or so.

Spent the weekend in San Antonio -- I know it's touristy, but I really enjoy the Riverwalk area.  It's very relaxing. It's kind of amazing how beautifying a drainage ditch really vitalized the downtown area. 

We also spent some time in Market Square (I think it's the largest Mexican goods market in the United States) and did a bunch of other shopping.  Didn't do as much sight-seeing as I'd like, but we were just there for the weekend.

If you ever get the chance to visit San Antonio and have a little extra time, pay a visit to some of the  historic missions other than the Alamo.  (I mean, see the Alamo too -- it's amazing!  Just reserve a little time to see the others)  They're really worth the look.

How about our reading for this week?  We'll start with -- the Five of Cups.
This card portrays a person looking at three cups that have spilled -- but is ignoring the two cups that remain full.  This card reminds us to focus on the assets we have -- not the resources we've lost.  We're never going to win every single encounter -- but as long as we win the one's that count, we're in good shape.  When we begin to look backwards and concentrate on things that we've lost -- well, it's like trying to drive a car with our head turned backwards!  We have to focus on where we're going and what we have available to us -- otherwise, at best we won't make any progress (and at worst we'll run into a tree!)

What can we use to help us focus on resources we still have?  Why not ... the Two of Cups.

I believe we've seen this card recently -- this suggests new friendships or renewing old friendships.  Could be romantic, could be platonic -- but either way, being able to count the support of our friends helps hold us up when times seem bad (like when we spill three cups!) and reminds us of the things that really count (like the two cups still remaining to us!)

In fact, maybe this Two of Cups we've drawn represents the two unaffected cups in our original Five of Cups -- the friends and family we can always count on?  Draw strength and build those relationships -- they'll always be there for us if we cultivate them!

Hope you have a great week!  Hope to get back with you before the weekend!


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Start Anew

Hi all --

Hope you had a fine weekend (and Monday as well!)

Have you ever visited places like,, and ?  They offer free online classes from many different prestigous universities and are a lot of fun.

I've taken several in the past (mainly histories) and am in the middle of a Jazz Improvisation class right now.  Having lots of fun, learning stuff, and busy as heck.  We're having to play and record a solo against a jazz melodic backing -- I'm having lots of trouble getting the recording software to work the way I want it to.  Have recorded my first solo several times, but can't get the "loudness" levels right.  It's either too soft to hear or too blaring.  Will try with a different guitar tonight to see if that helps any.

I've played guitar (and other instruments) for many many years -- however, everything I play ends out sounding like a 12 bar blues piece.  Am hoping this Jazz course will set me off on different directions.

My four year-old grand-daughter caught me playing some Celtic tunes on my violin the other day.  It's now HER violin!  I actually have a 1/2 size violin I bought for her mom when she was a child -- will have to search it out so I can swap for my violin back!

Let's move on the reading, shall we!

Our first card -- The Ten of Swords.

We saw this card a little while ago.  While some feel it's a very negative card, I generally see it as suggesting the end of a vexing time, not the beginning of one.  We want to consider vexing issues that have reached their end -- it's time to let them go.

What kind of things -- well, let's look at our second card -- the Two of Cups.

This card suggests a new friendship -- or a renewal of an old one.  Perhaps this might be what our Ten of Cups was suggesting?  Do you have old friendships or relationships that have hit some rocks?  Hurt feelings?  Feeling the other was inconsiderate?  You know what I'm talking about -- things that are really petty when you look back at them, especially when you consider the value of the friendship or relationship they may be inhibiting.

If you can, let the issues go.  Forgive where you can, forget where you can't.  Try to re-establish what was really valuable ... the friendship or relationship.  Those can be so rewarding that they can mask any petty bumps they may have encountered ... as long as you let it happen.

And that's about it for now -- hope you have a great week!