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Stop Playing “Follow the Leader” March 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Less IS More, Mindfulness.
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The only way you can live the life of  your dreams is to focus on your unique desires.  So stop worrying about what other people want out of life. 

Instead, ask yourself, “What do I want out of life?” 

Then, go out and make it happen!

Aah . . . that’s better!  

When you stop hiding who you are, you have more energy to become more fully who you want to be. 

Ten Marvelous Musicals March 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Humor, Music & Dance.
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Cover of

Cover via Amazon

Music uplifts our spirits and soothes our souls.

Listening to Maria (Julie Andrews) sing “My Favorite Things,” and “Climb Every Mountain,” as she strolls  through the Austrian landscape in The Sound of Music, makes me smile with gratitude for my own favorite things. 

Watching Paul’s grandfather running amok in A Hard Day’s Night returns me to a simpler time in my life, allowing me to relax and unwind.

Fame and Flashdance both remind me that dreams do come true.

Perhaps one of these ten “musicals” will be just the ticket to elevate your own spirits:

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

The Beatles’s first movie ~ a groundbreaking comedy ~ follows the Fab Four through a “typical” day in their lives.  Filled with familiar songs, and adoring fans, the film showcases the impish appeal of John, Paul, George, and Ringo as they entertain us with chart-toppers such as “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “Hard Day’s Night.”

A Lot Like Love (2005)

After meeting on a trans-continental flight, Oliver Geary (Ashton Kutcher) and Emily Friehl (Amanda Peet) realize that, mutual attraction aside, they are perfectly wrong for each other. With an edgy, upbeat soundtrack, and smart, funny dialogue, destiny intervenes to bring them together again, but always at the worst possible time.  Anna Nalick reminds us to “Breathe, just breathe.” 

Beyond The Sea (2004)

A film biography of the tumultuous life of singer Bobby Darin (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth), including nightclub performances of pop hits (“Splish Splash” and “Beyond the Sea”) and jazz standards (“Mack the Knife“). 

De-Lovely (2004)

Starring Kevin Kline as the celebrated 20th-century composer Cole Porter, and Ashley Judd as his wife Linda, we see the drama, love and joy of their life together unfolding on-screen, as Porter’s hits, including “Anything Goes” and “It’s De-Lovely,” fill the room. 

Fame (1980)

This Academy Award-winning (Best Original Score and Best Original Song) musical depicts the search for fame by the students at New York City’s High School for the Performing Arts.  Allow the talented stars to sing and dance their way into your hearts.  “Fame . . . I’m going to live forever.  I’m going to learn how to fly.”

Flashdance (1983)

Despite weak plot and dialogue, this box-office smash offers viewers a chance to dream along with Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) as she dances to the uplifting Oscar-Winning title song “Flashdance,” and other energizing numbers, in an effort to leave the world of welding and erotic dance behind.  “What a feeling!”

R.E.N.T. (2005)

Featuring some of the original cast, Jonathon Larson’s award-winning Broadway musical lives on in this bountiful big screen adaptation.  Based on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” viewers share life’s joys and sorrows with the talented stars, as they sing, dance, and struggle to pay the rent, in New York’s East Village.  

Scrooge (1970)

In this lively, musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future teach Ebenezer Scrooge (Albert Finney) that life is to be celebrated, and relationships cherished.  Great sets and cast, including: Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Edith Evans, and Kenneth More.  

The Sound of Music (1965)

Maria (Julie Andrews) and the Trapp Family Singers follow their hearts in this true-life adventure set in Nazi-occupied Austria.  Overflowing with breath-taking Alpine scenery,  beloved songs, and majestic score, Maria steals our hearts as high-spirited novice, then loses hers as inexperienced, loving governess to Baron von Trapp’s seven challenging children.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

After Dorothy (Judy Garland) is swept away from Kansas by a tornado, munchkins encourage Dorothy and friends (Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Toto) to “follow the Yellow Brick Road” to Oz ~ along the way, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) and her flying monkeys attempt to steal the Ruby Slippers.  “Oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home.”

As with the earlier post, Ten Movies Worth The Price of Admission, the title links will take you to Netflix for more information about length, theme, actors, and ratings for each movie.

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Do you have any favorite musicals to share?

Related posts:   Ten Movies Worth the Price of Admission * Break Into Song (LittleMissEverything)

Generosity of Spirit March 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Spirit & Ego.
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Tigger-BouncingThe journey within does not, as some claim, lead to selfishness and self-absorption.

Instead, our growing spiritual awareness allows for more meaningful connections with others.

We realize that we are happier when we reach out to others in the spirit of cooperation, rather than competing with them to get a bigger piece of the pie.

The happier we become in our own life, the more we want to help others achieve lasting happiness in their lives.

Our compassion not only allows us to see and appreciate the suffering in others, it creates in us the desire to help them eliminate unnecessary suffering.

The pursuit of happiness leads to generosity of spirit, not selfishness ~ but we learn to be generous with the parts of ourself that we most want to share.

We no longer let others pressure us into doing what they want us to do.

We realize that time passes quickly and that every moment is precious.

We reflect on what is of value to us, and set our priorities accordingly.  And  we encourage others to do the same.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote:  If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  ~ The Dalai Lama

Ten Movies Worth The Price of Admission March 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Mindfulness, Travel & Leisure.
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Movies make us laugh and cry.  They entertain and educate.  They expand our horizons by revealing the immense diversity of viewpoints on this wonderful planet. 

They open our eyes and our hearts. 

And . . . they give us something to do with our minds as we mindlessly munch our way through huge tubs of buttered popcorn! 

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed many entertaining, educational, and eye-opening films which encouraged us to explore the issues covered in greater detail ~ either through further research or by conversing with other movie-goers to get their reactions to the themes covered. 

Here are a few suggestions of uplifting and/or thought-provoking movies to consider for your next Movie Night ~ each title is linked to Netflix to provide additional information on length, themes, actors, and ratings.


Defending Your Life (1991)

Shortly after his death, Daniel (Albert Brooks) meets the love of his life.  Before ascending to heaven with Julia (Meryl Streep), Daniel must defend his life in Judgment City.  Each day, the chasm between Julia’s fear-less life and Daniel’s fear-filled life widens, convincing Daniel that he’s lost Julia for eternity.    

Kundun (1997)

Forbidden from filming in Tibet, director Martin Scorsese filmed this eye-opening, epic drama about the 14th Dalai Lama in Morocco.  Wonderful cinematography, music, costumes, and art design lend historical accuracy to the brutal Chinese invasion, the forced exile of Tibetans to India, and the continued immoral Chinese occupation of Tibet. 

Last Holiday (2006)

If diagnosed with a terminal illness, what would you do?  Quit your job?  Blow big bucks on travel?  Stop playing it safe?  In this uplifting comedy, an exceptionally  timid woman (Queen Latifah) learns she is destined to die — she immediately abandons her previous play-it-safe persona and starts to live!    

Peaceful Warrior (2006)

Adapted from Millman’s autobiographical novel, Olympian calibre gymnast Dan Millman (Scott Mechlowicz) has everything he wants, until Socrates (Nick Nolte) points out that he is lacking both happiness and peace of mind.   As Dan recovers from a side-lining injury, Socrates takes him on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual healing.  

The Eleventh Hour (2007)

This enlightening documentary addresses the global environmental crisis, while  offering a message of hope for the future.  Leonardo DiCaprio effectively presents workable solutions, from leading minds, to show that we still have time to save our precious planet by creating sustainable technologies, and implementing those already available. 

To learn more:  http://wip.warnerbros.com/11thhour/mainsite/site.html

Thank You For Smoking (2005)

In this hilarious satire (Winner: Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay), spin-doctor Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) cleverly counteracts tobacco’s tarnished image (and obvious dangers) with personal appearances and product placements designed to recreate a time when smoking was revered, not reviled,  while simultaneously struggling for balance as his son’s role-model.  

Transamerica (2005)

Bree (Felicity Huffman) is a man about to become a woman.  One week before his/her final sex-change operation, Bree discovers a teen-aged son she fathered years earlier.  Overflowing with marvelously poignant moments, this entertaining look at gender and relationships leads characters and viewers alike on a thought-provoking journey of self-discovery.

Wal-Mart:  The High Cost of Low Price (2005) 

This pointed documentary by producer, director and activist Robert Greenwald addresses the real, if sometimes hidden and overlooked, costs associated with the proliferation of Wal-Marts.  Featuring interviews from across the country, Greenwald focuses on the costs to business owners, communities, taxpayers, and workers each time the mega-retailer opens another Super Center.

Who Killed The Electric Car (2006)

This thought-provoking documentary reveals what auto manufacturers and oil companies already know — clean, green technology is available.  Although GM EV-1 electric car drivers loved the car, GM crushed the idea and the cars!  Did conspiracy to maintain the status quo or lack of consumer demand stall EV-1 production?  You decide.

 For a sneak preview:  http://www.sonyclassics.com/whokilledtheelectriccar/

Why We Fight (2005)

Winner of the 2005 Sundance Grand Jury Award, this sobering documentary by Eugene Jarecki addresses the rise in power of the US military-industrial complex which President Eisenhower warned against.  Annually funded with 22% of the federal budget, the MIC directs US foreign policy decisions and profits from growing imperialism overseas.  

For more information:  http://sonyclassics.com/whywefight/main.html

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Do you have any favorites to share?

Related posts:  Ten Marvelous Musicals

Creative Visualization March 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Meditation, Mindfulness, Nature.
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We’ve touched upon Meditation and Silencing the Inner Critic.  We’ve talked about Choosing Happiness by replacing negative thoughts with more positive thoughts, and discussed a few ideas for clearing out mental clutter.

Now, let’s talk a bit more about using Creative Visualization as a tool to relax, solve problems, and gain clarity.

Get comfortable.
Close your eyes and watch your breath.
Imagine descending a staircase.
Feel yourself growing more relaxed with each and every step.

Relaxed?  Great. 

Now, picture yourself in a peaceful place.
Your sanctuary.
Where you feel safe and warm and calm. 
It might be inside a room on a rainy day
Or in the great outdoors with the sun overhead.

It’s your place ~ your sanctuary.  A place you can return to whenever you need a break from the rigors of daily life.

While there, you can relax, explore problems safely, or imagine the world as you would like it to be.

Where are you? 
What are you wearing? 
What are you doing? 
What smells, sights, and sounds surround you? 

Is anything amiss?
If so, change it.
Make this place absolute perfection for you. 
It’s your sanctuary.

Delight in the world you have created.
Feel the peace surrounding you. 
Relax into the gentle knowingness, the pulse of life.
Let the world recede. 

Listen to your heart’s desire. 

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote:  Never lose your child’s heart.  ~ Mencius