Find What Makes You Happy

Exhilaration abounds! Spirit of the Gulf, my Sweet Adelines Chorus, won our regional competition last weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida. We competed with 14 other choruses in the Florida and South Carolina, and we’re happy to say we earned 16 more points than our last appearance!resizedIMG_2875

People may think singing is easy, but a cappella singing in four-part barbershop harmony is anything but.  All singers must stay in pitch, match our word sounds and sustain top energy through choreography and long phrases. The goal is to sing as one unit – four parts. When all these things come together, barbershop chords “lock and ring.” Lock and ring is an actual harmonic phenomena that reaches the soul of your audience as well as the singer.

Many choruses prepare nearly a year for regional competition; if you win, you’re invited to compete at Sweet Adelines’ International competition, held in a major city in the United States. That’s when you meet Sweet Adeline “sisters” from all over the world, such as Sweden, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand!

I’m sure you have heard me say in the past that singing reaches our very heart. Singing generates endorphins like crazy, giving the singer and the listener a spark of happiness that can sustain inner peace and harmony (pun intended) throughout the day.

Alzheimer’s patients respond to the songs of their early lives because they are locked in the brain’s sacred file cabinet of their younger selves. They smile; they remember the words, they become cheerful and peaceful with the familiarity of the tunes, which release them from the mental cage of confusion brought on by dementia or Alzheimer’s.

It is ongoing therapy for my mother to have entertainers come into the facility where she lives and play the piano or boom box, filling the air with the joyful music of her youth. The years drop from her face as she joins in singing with gusto.  And she is still on pitch!

I know that my singing hobby and listening to great music will see me through my senior years, (whenever they show up) and when I can no longer maintain the breath that I need for barbershop singing, I’ll be a joyful member of the audience and continue to sing in the car and the shower. The benefits are well worth it.

For too long I have seen people retire from their jobs, believing that sitting around the house and puttering around will be enough activity for them. Baby boomers who have been in the rat race for so long oftentimes look forward to doing nothing. That’s too big of a shock for our bodies and our social nature.

The best thing to do is look into some activities BEFORE retiring; make sure that the children and grandchildren WANT you at their houses every three months; see how engaged you can be with one or two activities. If not, find some other activities by asking others. It’s never too late to start something brand-new.

It is also very important that some of your activities include other people outside your own family. My grandmother, who lived to 82, played bridge every week with another group of ladies. My mother went out to lunch with her church group well into her seventies, had tickets to a concert series, and flew to Florida at Christmas. Others plan trips to faraway places that don’t require extreme exertion. And the most healthy seniors exercise in some way every day, whether it’s a walk or a bike ride, kayaking or tennis.5683493621_c71be22449_z

One of my plans is to obtain a terrific sound system and turntable and play those LPs from the 60s and 70s that shaped my heart and emotions during my adolescence and college years. I can have my own Karaoke fest! Another is to continue to read classic literature that were required reading during high school and college, because I’ve found myself understanding their messages now thanks to life experience. There was so much that went right over my head when I was 17 – like everything!

I already limit my television watching to classic movies instead of the crime-ridden shows on TV. I watch comedians and funny sitcoms like Mike and Molly, but not that often. For me television becomes an addiction that shuts down my creative juices and turns my brain to mush. (Those were my father’s words after he moved into assisted living.)

My dad, who had some dementia, found many of the activities at the assisted living facility uninteresting. He was still a verbal, physically fit college-educated professional man in his 80s. He was there only because Mom was there. Most of the people at the facility were not able to hold a conversation or were totally non-verbal. Activities included word games, coloring, painting, and tossing a balloon around, activities geared toward advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia patients like Mom.

We engaged an aide who came by twice a week to take my dad out to the bowling alley, a park, to visit relatives, a restaurant, and talk about life with him. This gentleman was a God-send; without him I think my dad would have developed real depression and departed this world a lot sooner than he did.

We all deserve to do the things we enjoy in life. Don’t ever lay your plans to someone else’s dream. You are allowed to dream and make that dream come true. I did. I’ve always wanted to be a writer but never had the confidence to just let go of the fear and do that. Singing gave me confidence, especially as part of a real special group of women. Now I have them critiquing my blog!

I can show people how to be free of the rat race and do what you love, even if you think you can’t make money at it. There’s a system I use that does make money for me and help others be free at the same time. I’ll be happy to show you how. Just click on the link below.

Hope you find what you seek in order to be happy, and don’t ever give up!

 

Christy Kelly

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