What ONE song makes ALL the difference for YOU?

What do YOU do when a project’s deadline is looming and you feel overwhelmed?  When your desk has become a mountain of paper and you want to bury your head in it? When you come back from a meeting in which the boss did NOT have kind words to say?  You know that feeling… when you want to crawl in a hole and not come out – for days.

One sure-fire solution is: to PRESS PLAY!

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The right music really can transform your mind from feeling like giving up to getting up and getting going!

A pivotal study from McGill University demonstrated that your body increases dopamine levels when you listen to music you enjoy! That’s the same chemical associated with being in love and eating sweets.  Music brings the same joy without any chance of heartbreak or tooth-decay!

His mommy gave him music, not sugary junk food to lift his spirits!
His mommy gave him music, not sugary junk food, to lift his spirits!

Since we’re all motivated by our emotions, why not reprogram your I-pod or whatever-your-musical-appliance-of-choice is to include a list of POWER-UP tunes? Download a set of music designed to get you back in the ring and fighting again.

You take your car in to the shop whenever it needs a tune-up or re-alignment, right? So, music can be a way to realign your emotions when you need a little emotional pick-me-up.

Here’s my TOP FIVE list of “Get-Back-At-It-Songs”:

5. “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty His unique scratchy voice and darling plaintive face make just the perfect combination for me. “You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down.” How’s that for a can-do attitude! Thanks, Tom.

4. “Roar” by Katie Perry – Sugar pop or not, this song is lots of fun. We got the cd for our seven-year-old daughter for Christmas and she and I sing the anthem together LOUDLY in the car on the way to school.  Who can’t feel better after yelling out “You’re gonna hear me ROAR!” ?!   

3. “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree – This song, to me, is true inspiration. Like the words say, “You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together. …” The singer is one beautiful and strong looking woman.  She knows life is going to have its ups and downs, but her encouraging theme of hanging in there always works for me. “You go, girl!” she seems to say.

2. “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles – Ray Charles could’ve sung the dictionary and I would’ve listened. His recording of this, to me, is one of his best. It’s got a rhythm and style that never fail to lift my spirits out of the doldrums. “What you say?!”  

1. "Tubthumping (I get knocked down)" by Chumbawamba – Okay, there’s a strong ‘cure-your-blues-thru-alcohol’ theme here that I can’t fully endorse, but its gleeful chorus: “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down” is so high-charged and upbeat that I simply CANNOT help feeling better after listening. And it’s brought to you by a group named “Chumbawamba” of all names. That sure says “don’t take life so seriously” to me.  Love it.

So there you have my list.  What’s yours?  What song makes all the difference for you?  I hope you have one – or two – or five.  Get listening and get going!

Lulu and friends joyfully dance the night away.
Lulu and friends joyfully dance the night away.

 Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.


Proof you CAN reinvent yourself on a trip to Ireland’s famous Cliffs of Moher

One of the most breathtaking experiences in Ireland occurs when you stand upon the Cliffs of Moher looking out over the Atlantic while the 702 foot (214 m) stone walls are rhythmically and dramatically battered by waves and wind.

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The Cliffs of Moher the day we visited them

Powerful and moving as it is, as I recently trekked them with my seven-year-old daughter, the cliffs would have been mere rocks if not for the rockin’ tour provided by our local Paddywagon guide, Michael.

Michael and another happy Paddywagon guest
Michael and another happy Paddywagon guest

Paddywagon runs a fleet of tour buses –departing daily from towns around Ireland like Dublin and our home here in Cork. I had been meaning to book an excursion for months but was afraid it might be a boring waste of money. Drive you to the sights with a few monotonous “on your left blah-blahs”along the way and that’s it. But no! Our driver Michael was an absolute raconteur. He regaled us with colorful tales of Irish history, sprinkled with juicy gossip, charming jokes and kindly folksiness throughout. He even sang us a few ditties that were high in personality even if they were a bit low on songmanship!

We, along with everyone else on the bus, were absolutely enchanted.

We had a terrific time, thank you, Michael!
We had a terrific time, thank you, Michael!

At the end of the day, before stepping down from the bus, I had to learn a bit more about Michael. We chatted and he told me he’s from Tipperary and worked as a professional engineer for years before he was suddenly laid off during Ireland’s (and many other countries’ ) recession in 2010. Michael described his life afterward:

I tried everything and then a friend encouraged me to get my bus drivers permit and I never looked back,

I logged onto Trip Advisor after we got home to tell everyone about Michael. What I found was that “Bus driver Michael” was already a Paddywagon celebrity. My review joined dozens of previous brightly glowing posts about him. While Michael may no longer be building roads and bridges, now, as he drives over them and tells his stories and sings his funny songs, he is building different kinds of bridges – those of warm memories and experiences - for tourists from all over the world.

Life is not about discovering yourself, it’s about creating yourself.

Coco Chanel once said that and I think life is a combination of the both. As you go through your life and your career, things will happen that you’re not prepared for; maybe you are unexpectedly laid off or fired.

And as you force yourself to update your CV and get back into the job market:

  1. You will discover you have a fortitude and determination you didn’t think was in you.
  2. Your discovery will give you the extra-strength and confidence to adapt and reinvent yourself in ways you may not have imagined.
  3. Stretch yourself. Maybe you won’t be in the same field as you were in before, but:
  4. You can create yourself anew.
  5. You CAN do it.

You are ready for the next chapter of your life. Life is certainly a journey, and if your journey takes you to Cork, Ireland – do yourself a favor and take a Paddywagon Tour.

lulu running

Ask for Michael, the engineer-turned-singing-tour-guide. Tell him Gina sent you. You’ll be glad you did.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.


Three thoughts on distractions to help us better focus!

This is the track I am speaking of - but today it was not nearly as sunny! ;)
This is Cork Ireland's Mardyke Arena track I am speaking of - but today it was not nearly as sunny! ;)

Two women were on the outdoor track this morning.  One, wearing a knit cap for extra warmth, had her head slightly lowered and was jogging at a steady pace.  The other in a yellow wind-breaker and no hat, was briskly walking with her head held up, and carried a paper COFFEE CUP in her right hand.

jog

I immediately wondered at the second woman’s choice to walk on the track – while also sipping a coffee. How much was she focusing on her decision to exercise?  And really, how effective did she expect to be at the task at hand?

Of course you could argue it was better than nothing.  At least she wasn’t sitting in front of the TV sipping her coffee.

But she could’ve easily done even better.  That’s the problem with any distraction, isn’t it?  When we don’t focus our attention solely on the effort  before us, we will likely not be as successful at it.

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  1.  As the number of attention-demanding tasks we attempt to do at the same time go up, the effectiveness of our brain to manage them goes down.

Many of us, myself included, may have considered ourselves good “multi-taskers.”  We seldom complete one task before moving on to the next one on our list. Instead, our workspace is littered with a variety of “ongoing” projects that get pushed aside as we take a ‘quick’ call,  check our email in-box, Instagram, Facebook or whatever.  Some projects may be better if you step away and take a break before reviewing, etc. But others need continued attention and focus in order to be completed in a timely manner.

We have limited brain capacity to focus.  Think about that the next time you’re working on a project or the next time you phone and drive. Even hands free.  In spite of what you may think, studies show they’re no safer than hand-held. We’re still distracted.

  1. Consider making to do lists in order of “attention-demanding” priority. Allot specific times to specific tasks.

When preparing for a presentation, for example, if you carve out an hour for research, commit to making the full hour only about research.  If you let distractions creep in, the hour will still pass by, but your research results won’t reflect it.

  1. Get rid of distractions when meeting with colleagues, friends, and loved ones.

I sat recently in a café and watched a couple sitting together at a table.  Although they were side by side, they spoke not a word, but kept their faces buried in their phones.  How many times have you met with a colleague who sits behind his or her desk and continues to check their computer?  How about meetings or presentations where laptops and tablets are clearly in play.  Putting aside such things for others shows respect and recognizes the value of everyone’s time.

It takes discipline to be methodological but time that is not managed, is often time that is wasted.

The one thing that money cannot buy is effective use of time.  Get rid of distractions and make every second count.

So the next time you’re on the race track, put down that coffee cup and get going!

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

 

 


Happy New Year - and Happy Women's Christmas Tonight!

Happy New Year! But wait, there’s one more Christmas celebration tonight:  Here in Ireland it’s “Nollaig na mBan” or “Women’s Christmas!”

Happy Women's Christmas!
Happy Women's Christmas!

As the Ireland Fun Facts website explains it’s a time for tired Irish women, who cooked and washed dishes all alone for their large families during the holidays, to finally get a break -  for one day at least.

It's a time for women to finally get a break

Yes, this one’s just for the ladies, gents. It’s one of the lovely traditions I will be experiencing for the first time since we moved here to Ireland.  A night for the women to celebrate surviving another holiday break with the children, the husband and their extended family all at home. Together. For several days. In a row.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the holidays.  I start cranking up Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” immediately while I clear the Thanksgiving plates.  And this year was no different.

During the holidays. I cooked. A lot. Family cookie favourites. Ham with maple bourbon sauce. Mountains of mashed potatoes and now that I have discovered the glories of goose fat, truck- loads of roast potatoes too. (We’re in Ireland after all.) Mince pies with brandy butter.  Boiled puddings with brandy sauce.  Just plain brandy sauce and feck it, just plain brandy!  Needless to say that with all that cooking comes all that eating.  Too much.  I loved the holidays with gusto and now I’m glad to add them to my ever-growing memory box.

Not our house after Christmas - but you get the idea
Not our house after Christmas - but you get the idea

So! Here we are in the first week back at it.

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Did you skip while you took your children back to school yesterday?  Did you attack your first gym/pool/pilates/yoga class of the new year with a vengeance? Have you already vacuumed up the last of the dead pine needles and packed the stockings/baubles/Christmas village buildings and figurines tidily away? Did you possibly even kiss your desk and/or co-workers back at the office?

I did. Except for the desk and co-worker part.  I am simply delighted to be facing a fresh new year square in its little hopeful pink face.  A new year with new possibilities.  I, like you, have plenty of work goals.  I want to consult on more projects in more countries with more clients.  I am excited about new prospects and opportunities.

But first, tonight, one more fest.  I’ll be meeting some girl friends here in Cork at a restaurant downtown.  It’s a French place I haven’t tried yet called Star Anise.  That likely means small delicate portions. That’s a good thing. It’s a new year after all.

Cheers and here’s to a productive, but still festive, new year!

Love,

Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.