Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Throw it Out!

In case you're sensing a theme in the photo, this is my Red Hat group -- the Red Hat Rovers. And two weeks ago we roved to Merrimack Hall here in town and attended a program by Gail Blanke called Throw Out Fifty Things.

Based on her book Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life, the program sought to empower attendees by encouraging us to literally throw out fifty things in our homes and unclutter our lives both physically and emotionally.

Gail is a motivational speaker, columnist and life coach in addition to her role as an author, and she shared with the audience her "6 1/2 Steps to Owning Your Power." * Conquer these, she says, and you'll be on the road to a truly exceptional life.

First, you tap into the power of a vision. When he was planning the Disney World property in Florida, Walt Disney told his crew, "Build the castle first" because that's where the magic is. We all need to determine what our "castle" is and build it first. Then once we've discovered the magic inside us, we can do anything.

Second, let go. Get rid of the garbage, the junk, the negative, the doubts and fears. She said, "If it makes you feel bad, get rid of it!" And this doesn't just apply to things. Remove yourself from negative relationships and toxic friends, too. This is where her book title comes into play. To get in the "letting go" mode, her book lays out a plan to go through your home room by room and declutter. And you are supposed to keep a list of the things you get rid of to give yourself a true idea of the "stuff" you've allowed to accumulate.

Third, make a list of defining moments in your life. These may be as simple as changing from first period biology to fifth and finding a teacher who lit a fire under you about science or as bold as a moment when your back was to the wall and you made the toughest decision of your life and your life took a 180 degree turn. When you string these defining moments together you'll see a pattern of tenacity and determination that will see you through anything.

Fourth, adopt an entrepreneruial spirit. Be open to new ideas. Be receptive to change. Be willing to let go of the past. As the old saying goes, "a rolling stone gathers no moss." In today's quickly changing world, you don't want to be caught with any moss hanging on you.

Fifth, develop your brand. Learn who you are, who you are not and what you stand for. A song lyric goes, "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." Find out what that "something" is and take your stand. Gail said, "The world belongs not to the one who fits in, but to the one who stands out." And lest you worry that this might cost you friends, she also said that if enough people love you, the ones who don't, don't matter.

Sixth, learn the difference between fact and interpretation. Too many times we live our lives based on negative interpretations. Instead, take on a positive outlook and re-think how you react to events. Instead of calling things "problems," call them "challenges." Stop saying, "Don't forget to..." and replace it with "Remember to..."

And sixth and a half, find a song that becomes your "power song" and sing it. Pick a song that makes you feel good about yourself, one that emboldens you and reminds you that you're special and unforgettable and truly extraordinary.

So... I came home and I started my spring cleaning a little bit late. Okay, a lot late. Last week a local veterans' group hauled away about one hundred things I'd cleaned out of closets, cupboards and cabinets. A few days later I donated two boxes of children's books. And I still have to go through my attic.

I'm still trying to decide what my brand is. Gail gave us this sentence to complete: "I'm _______ and I'm the one who _________." Obviously my name goes in the first blank but I'm still working on the second.

The part I've enjoyed the most is trying to come up with my power song. She told of one client whose song was the Triumphal March from the opera Aida. Okay. Whatever cranks your tractor. Another client had a call-back interview with MTV and desperately wanted the job, so all the way to the interview she sang Elton John's "The B*tch is Back." And she nailed the job! I have a list of possibilities and they include Helen Reddy's "I am Woman," Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," Mariah Carey's "Hero," "Sisters are Doing it for Themselves" by the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin and, believe it or not, Miley Cyrus's "The Climb." I may just have a "power playlist" because each of those songs speaks to a certain part of my life. Who says it has to be just one song?

You assignment (did you honestly think I'd give you a lesson about life and not hand out an assignment?) is to come up with your power song. Post a link to YouTube or some other site where we can all listen to it. And while you're thinking about what the song might be, throw something out!

P.S. Gail thinks Huntsville, Alabama rocks!

*Full credit for this information goes to Gail Blanke who empowered me that night. You can learn more by logging onto

Photo is property of Huntsville Hospital's Laugh & Learn program.


Michelle Styles said...

Why not

Defying Gravity from Wicked?

It has worked for me on a number of occassions.

PM's Mother said...

Being an eternal Procrastinating Pollyanna my power song is
"Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie".

Of course I will throw out 50 things tomorrow!

Smarty Pants said...

Hmm... may have to think on this. At the moment, whats coming to mind is Bon Jovi's "It's My Life."

Problem Child said...

That sounds like a great workshop. Hell, there's probably 50 things on my desk I should get rid of.

Theme song... hummm. I'll have to think about that.

Playground Monitor said...

Michelle, I'm not familiar with "Wicked," but that's an awesome song. And I finally recognized the witch as the actress who played Patrick Dempsey's girlfriend in "Enchanted."

I love "Tomorrow" too, and with all the rain we've had lately, it's sort of become a literal power song for a lot of folks. And today we actually have sun!

Love the Sinatra reference in the Bon Jovi song!

We won't talk about desks. I probably have 50 ballpoint pens I could toss, but the purple one is so pretty and I need both of the ones with green ink. And even though the one from RWA conference doesn't write worth a hoot, it was my first RWA conference. Then there's the one from my cruise with my sister and... Well, you see my pen obsession. I'm like a magpie. "Oooooh! Shiny pen!"

Kathy said...

Awesome list, PM. Much food for thought. :)

My song: I'm Livin' in My Own Private Idaho by the B52's. (Like a wild potato....)

Minna said...

Here are a couple of my power songs:
One Girl Revolution

Pave Maijanen - Elämän nälkä (hunger for life)

"This is one of those mornings
when I don't know if I should get up or stay
pull the blanket over my head and to be buried under a stony shell
in the wee hours heart beats alone
and can't get through the mountain of sorrows
fear moves along the darkness
it feels as though the day wouldn't come
and then like a breath of morning breeze
something fills this small room
it finally wakes me up

hunger for life attacs from the foot of the bed
doesn't save it's strength
pulls me up
hunger for life sits on my sholder
tells me to already to leave from here
encourages to go forward
encourages to go forward..."

Minna said...

The curtains slide aside and I watch how the light pushes away the shadow which wrapped my soul into the night
even though I wanted to get rid of it
when I was beaten down and no one
could carry me over a deep river
life between the earth and the sky
life brings its light to my fall

and then like a breath of morning breeze
something fills this small room
it finally wakes me up

hunger for life...

Jane said...

Mine is Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.

Angel said...

Wow! Awesome post, PM. Cool comments. I'll have to check out some of these songs!

Hmmm... I do love "The Climb" and "Unwritten".


sapphiremry8 said...

HI Marilyn,
Here is the theme song I have been singing in my head lately!

Red Rubber Ball
I should have known you'd bid me farewell
There's a lesson to be learned from this and I learned it very well
Now, I know you're not the only starfish in the sea
If I never hear your name again, it's all the same to me

And I think it's gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball

You never care for secrets I confide
For you, I'm just an ornament, somethin' for your pride
Always runnin', never carin', that's the life you live
Stolen minutes of your time were all you had to give

And I think it's gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball

The story's in the past with nothin' to recall
I've got my life to live and I don't need you at all
The roller-coaster ride we took is nearly at an end
I bought my ticket with my tears, that's all I'm gonna spend

And I think it's gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball

Oh, I think it's gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball

Mary Ward Gustafson

Playground Monitor said...

I'm running behind on listening to all these, but I promise I will. I did have to comment on Mary's song. I had that album and had to Google to see when it came out. The answer is 1966, so that was high school.

Mary said...

The Beatles!!! Now the story of my life!!!