Category Archives: Inspiration

Soundtrack for 2020

As a writer, I’m perpetually searching for fodder. Music is the sort of fodder that I’m naturally drawn to on a daily basis.

It’s the stuff that fuels me. It inspires me. It soothes me. It motivates me. It nurtures me in a way nothing else really can.

That is why I’ve decided to create a bold new playlist for just me, myself, and I. It will be chock full of tracks that will keep me focused on my own self improvement path. Songs that contain the messages I need to hear.

So indulge me while I play “DJ” for a minute (a job I’ve always wanted to sample) and share with you the “must have” songs for me in 2020:

  • “Shower the People” by James Taylor. The lyric “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel; things are gonna get so much better if you only will” is….just well, “IT” for how I aim to interact with others on the daily this year.
  • “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder. Not only does this song prompt me to break out in a happy dance, but it instantly improves my outlook. I like to think of it as a song that God inspired Stevie Wonder to write as a love letter to his beloved children. At it’s heart, it’s a song about faith.
  • “Everybody’s Cup of Tea” by Kasey Musgraves. I’m going to include a clip of this one because I don’t think it’s terribly well known, though it should be. I need to keep it on my soundtrack because I know that with my blogging and writing, not to mention my actual personal life, there’s going to always be people who don’t appreciate me. To stay strong and keep plowing ahead, I need to embrace that fact.
  • “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner-Overdrive. It’s the lyric, “Taking care of business, every day, taking care of business, every way”, that gets my motor going. It motivates me to stay on top of shit. To not get so sucked into social media, binge-watching Netflix, or even blogging that I’m not fully taking care of important business. Like keeping our home in good order. Getting to work on time each day and completing each task that presents itself to me. Self-care in all it’s varied forms.
  • “Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold. This song will be on my 2020 soundtrack because it’s important to me this year to make friendships, old and new, a bigger priority than in years past. To appreciate all the friends I have and nurture those relationships.
  • “Anticipation” by Carly Simon. This song is a very important one as I move forward in 2020. On account of my squirrel brain (which almost always has multiple tabs open simultaneously), I relate to the lyric “And I wonder if I’m really with you now, or just chasing after some finer day”. It stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be present. To focus on the “right now” instead of the “what’s next”. Because tomorrow is not a given.
  • “Take that Step” from “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. If you haven’t yet seen this Netflix documentary, do yourself a favor and watch it. Unless you don’t want to feel joy or be uplifted this year. The lyric “find that path others missed, life is better with a twist” is particularly inspiring to me as a writer with ambition!
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. I’m sure you all know this song. It’s a universal musical “pick me up”, don’t you think? The reason it’s going on my 2020 soundtrack is because 2019 was a hell of a year. A lot of not-so-great things happened; however towards the end of the year things started to really look up again. On top of that, this song represents what I’m seeking most in 2020: Clarity.

This soundtrack of mine, much like this blog, is a WIP. Throughout 2020, behind the scenes, I will be ISO more songs that will guide me through the year with a sense of purpose, love for myself and others, and the mindset and energy level I need to accomplish the goals I’m setting for myself.

Do you, fellow music lovers, have any songs in mind for your own 2020 soundtrack? Please share in the comments ūüôā

My last blog post for 2019: What are you ISO?

Man, I love myself a good acronym. Almost as much as a finely crafted mantronym (for those of you new to this blog, that’s a mantra that presents as an acronym).

The first time I saw “ISO” it was on a work email. One of the other social workers was “ISO” something or other. Probably a way to get rid of bed bugs, because that is the type of shit we had to help our clients with on a disturbingly regular basis. I had to read the body of the email before I understood that “ISO” was “in search of”.

My personal theory is that we are all “ISO” pretty much all the time. It might be a lost sock or cell phone. It might be recommendations for a dog walker. It might be for the best cheesecake recipe. Or it might be something deeper; like meaning, purpose, or peace. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above and more.

This song comes to mind as I’m writing this. I happened to hear a truly awesome version of it recently as I was tooling around in my CRV. Here it is:

I have gratitude for the fact that in this life I have found what I was looking for: a happy marriage, a place to call home, two awesome adult children, a grandson, a dog, and a career that have all brought me a lot of happiness.

But there’s still more I’m ISO.

What might that be? Well, a whole bunch of things honestly. But what it boils down to more than anything is balance.

Balance between writing/doing/connecting is what I’m searching for in 2020. Maybe I should christen 2020 as my year of Clarity. I need to avoid the “overwhelm” and remain rooted in the present, in my writing life, professional life, and personal life.

One of the major take-aways for me from 2019 is that working is highly important to me. Working at my part time job running the food bank. Working on my writing; improving my blogging skills. Working on strengthening the connections I have with the people I love and making new connections with those people I have yet to meet. I like staying busy, moving forward, accomplishing things.

What I know for sure about 2020 is that it’s incumbent upon me to work even harder that I did in 2019. Up my game at work. Find ways to improve myself professionally. So that I can contribute more to the team, to our clients, to our mission.

Another thing I know for sure about 2020 is that I will need to hyper-focus on my writing via this blog (and otherwise, but that is currently a batch of baby WIPS that will need some careful coaxing to show themselves to the world).

Suffice it to say: I have much to say about a variety of things-from my personal history, my current reality and the (hopefully) fabulous future. I have stories to tell. I have more to say about some of the topics I brought up on this blog in 2019. I have more to do and say in and about the present. And I have a freaking ton to say about the future.

While all of the above is true and right and good for me personally, I recognize that I can’t blow off taking care of myself. Because in real day to day life of the year 2020, there’s gonna be obstacles. Some I am fully cognizant of and others will be new and uninvited. So while I don’t anticipate becoming a self-care guru (because really, we have so many of them we can refer to on the internets and in real life if we are so fortunate), behind the scenes of this here blog, I will be aiming to practice a healthy amount of it.

I sincerely hope you stay tuned.

But first, please indulge me and answer this question in the comments:

What are you ISO in 2020? This particularly curious mind would love to know.

Christmas 2019: a very merry rumination

My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.

I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.

In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.

GIVING

More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.

So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.

Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.

MUSIC

I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.

I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.

Such as:

  • Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
  • Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
  • Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
  • “Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
  • “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k

MOVIES

While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.

Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.

FOOD AND DRINK

Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.

I actually wrote about my own personal Esther a while back, before the wonderful Wanda Sykes named her: https://pollyannaspath.com/?s=about+my+belly+fat

But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.

What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!

DECORATING

When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.

I personally love it!

I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!

Kiss: my Guiding mantronym

I’m such a weirdo. I like to think the other weirdos out here in the blogosphere have received that memo by now. I like to think I’m in good company.

But just in case, let me tell you about my guiding acronym mantronym (because it’s not just a mere acronym, it’s also my mantra). The one that has been stuck in my head probably since I started blogging. The one that suits me best. The one that speaks to me. The one that repeats itself in my head as I write like an earworm.¬†¬†

That mantronym is KISS.

Traditionally, it stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. But for me, it stands for Keep It Simple Sister. Because no good can come from me calling myself stupid. I believed the lie that I was stupid for far too long and now I’m 52 and the fucks I gave in the past are (mostly) history.¬† I’ve evolved.

Keep it Simple Sister is a kind yet firm way to remind myself to not be verbose when I’m writing. Because while I am a bonafide spaz, I don’t think my readers need to be pounded in the head with it when they read my posts. You all have lives, right? Responsibilities. Schedules. Important shit to do. Me getting to the fucking point already in my blog posts is essentially my way of recognizing and respecting that.

But very possibly the best thing about my beloved acronym of KISS is how darn versatile it is.¬† While¬† “Keep It Simple Sister” will forever be the guiding principle as I write my blog posts (and live my life), there’s often alternate versions of this mantronym at play within them.

For instance, “Keep It Specific Sister”. This one came to me while I was using my wicked crafting skills¬† creative energy to put together my¬† vision board. I firmly believe that having a physical picture of what specific things or experiences you want in your life increases the chances of it becoming reality. For instance, instead of affixing a picture of, say, a wine bottle or grapes to my vision board, ¬†I affixed a picture of Napa Valley because that is a place I very much wish to visit with Hubs, asap.¬†Seeing it every day keeps it fresh in my mind, which is good because, I am 52.

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Then there’s “Keep It Sincere Sister”. Bottom line-I‚Äôm just going to be me. I will continue to write (and breathe) with my heart in the right place. Which happens to be¬†on my sleeve.

I also enjoy the “Keep It Sassy Sister” version of KISS.¬† Because. THIS.

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A highly important version of my beloved KISS is “Keep It Surprising Sister”, because that is what I’m aiming for. I want to surprise you, dear readers, as well as myself. But in an interesting and smart way of course. In a brave and new way. A meaningful way.

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A more recent version of KISS that I seek to inject into each blog post is “Keep It Sincere, Seeker”. Because while what I write comes from my heart, I’m also very much a seeker. A student who’s learning and growing as a blogger and a human. I’m eager to continue that, with the knowledge that I don’t know what I don’t know. I read lots of other blogs for tips and tricks as well as for inspiration. It keeps me engaged in the whole process. And I know that by continuing this practice, I am likely to keep improving as a blogger.

Any of you other fellow weirdos have a mantronym? Or a mantra? Or a guiding acronym? Or does “KISS” resonate with you? Perhaps you have other suggestions for what “KISS” could stand for? I’d love to read any commentary you have about this ūüôā

How this WIP is Rolling Right Now

Right now, life is very good for me and mine. I love my life here with Hubs and Radar in Colorado. I love my job. I’m excited about the opportunities it presents to me.

I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I want to these past couple of weeks, however (though I did manage to finally re-vamp¬†my About page).¬†¬†I’ve been busy “doing” instead of writing; taking care of business rather than simply “being”. This is on account of me being left to my own devices with Hubs having to be out of town for work more often and my compulsion to stay on top of all the social planning that comes with the looming Thanksmissween holidays.

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Speaking of which, Halloween is coming up next. Just 15 more days. I’ve been consumed with figuring out costumes for the two of us and Radar. And planning a Halloween potluck costume contest extravaganza for work. I’ve got a freaking awesome costume figured out for myself, btw. If it turns out the way I envision, I will surely post a pic or two in an upcoming blog post.¬†

Radar is the best boy ever. We have totally bonded with him. He is so very smart. Two Sundays ago, this dog that started as a raving lunatic in beginner obedience training at PetSmart graduated from “Intermediate” obedience training, as a matter of fact. We plan to move on to “Advanced” obedience training in 2020. I’ve been tempted to write more posts about him, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the best path for me right now. So instead, I’ll share¬† recent pics of him to get it out of my system:

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20190922_162302 Top Pic, aka Before: Radar donning his brand new Minnesota Vikings bandana  Bottom Pic, aka After: Donning his partially chewed up Minnesota Vikings bandana

While Hubs was off doing his work stuff in another state, I did take a little “me” time and watched an amazing movie on Netflix: “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. I seriously could write a whole post about each and every detail I adored about this movie, but instead I’ll just give you a quick summary:

It’s a documentary by Steve Young, a former writer for “The Late Show with David Letterman”. He happens upon industrial show tune albums, created between the late 50’s and 80’s for big company’s sales conventions, which were used for bits on the show.¬†He uncovers this totally unknown-to-the-general public genre of music and essentially becomes obsessed with it. He becomes a rabid collector of these albums, making friends with other collectors along the way. He meets and has lovely interviews with some of the composers, writers, producers, and performers of these industrial show tune albums.

Here’s a a prime example of these wonderfully odd show tunes.

Steve’s story inspired me on several levels. Here he is, pushing 50 and about to enter a new phase of his life, as this was at the end of the run of “The Late Show with David Letterman”. He pursues this very specific, odd genre of musical entertainment out of a sense of sheer wonder and curiosity, like a dog with a Kong toy. In the end, he proudly displays his “freak flag” with this pursuit and shares the all the wonderfulness of it with the world through this documentary.

 

I think I ought to add this song to my “Soul Song” playlist ASAP!

So tell me, friends, how are you rocking and rolling right now?

Pitches and Badass Bitches

I’ve been re-thinking my “About” page these days¬†(yes, again).¬† I read somewhere on the blogosphere not long ago that readers check out the “About” pages on blogs more than one would think, and their impression of them may either turn them on or turn them off. I for one, do peruse the “About” pages after reading a post or two I like on another blogger’s site.¬† Suffice it to say, I think it’s time to give my “About” page a makeover.

At the very least, it needs some flair. 37 might be over the top when it comes to my blog though.

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I do not have a salesperson personality. I do not want to come across as a salesperson on this blog. Yuck. Just yuck. In fact, I freaking detest being approached by salespeople in a clothing store, or whatever store (or any other setting for that matter). It seriously turns me off. I want to make my own, informed, personal decision when I’m considering a purchase. I don’t tolerate it well when I’m being bombarded with information I didn’t ask for just so I can earn someone a sale. Or a follow.

That being said, I also accept and understand the role of the “pitch”. In my job, I’ve been put in the position of having to attend “speed networking” meetings. These meetings are typically held in assisted living facilities and all attendees are professionals who work for companies and non-profits that serve our aging population. A good chunk of the attendees are marketing folks. So I have learned how to “market” my organization in the span of 3 minutes at a time, because I’ve had to.

So that’s how I’m going to approach making over my “About” page. It’s a pitch, right? I’ve got a lot of overthinking pondering to do on this. Stay tuned.

That brings me to the “Badass Bitch” part of this post. Because truthfully, I’m striving to be one. With my blog of course-but I will not limit my pursuit of personal badassiness to just that.

But enough about me.

Let me tell you about the women I find to be particularly badass, and I strongly encourage you to share yours.

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First, there’s Lizzo: You’ve certainly heard of her at least, right? She’s the hip-hop, rap, music-maker of funky/catchy tunes who I am certain will be winning Grammys left and right before long. My favorite badass artist turned me on to her (that would be Spawn #2).

Interesting facts/what makes Lizzo seriously badass:

She was mentored by Prince. If you are a Prince fan, you will hear his influences in her songs.

She is a flutist. She actually planned on being a professional flutist in fact.¬† When she pulls that flute out, it’s unexpected and truly magical.

She’s an actress! Triple threat, right there. She will soon be seen in the movie “Hustlers” (she pulls out the flute in one of two short scenes she is in), and provided her voice talent to the movie “Ugly Dolls” (which I totally need to see ASAP).

I thoroughly enjoyed Lizzo’s “tiny desk” concert on NPR. I think you will too. She is charasmatic, funny, and just so stinkin’ talented.¬†Check it out!

Another badass bitch you likely have never heard of is this lady, California Congresswoman Katie Porter.

Interesting facts/what makes Katie a badass:

She turned Orange County California from red to blue as the first Democrat to be elected in her district. 

She is a single mother of 3, after having gone through domestic violence in her marriage.

She has a wicked sense of humor (see below clip).

She grew up in Iowa which has given her an understanding and appreciation of farmers and other Americans who break their backs to earn a meager living.

Watch her go toe-to-toe here with Bill Maher. I am so paying attention to where she goes politically. I like to think she’ll reside in the White House some day.

 

 

The HighWomen. They are a new “supergroup” of badass country/Americana singer/songwriters comprised of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby. Their song “Redesigning Women” has been a constant earworm for me as of late. To me, it’s the modern day woman’s version of¬† Dolly Parton’s¬† “9 to 5”. Like if they ever did a remake of that movie, this would need to be the theme song. I can really relate to the lyrics, as I imagine any American middle aged woman would.

I love, love, love, this video!!!

Greta Thunberg is the youngest badass that I’d like to feature. If you haven’t heard of her, she’s a teenager from Sweden who is determined to do all she can to turn the tide on climate change. She fell into depression when she learned about climate change in school a few years back. Once the depression lifted, she became hyper-focused (she is on the Autism spectrum and embraces it, as one should) on doing every single thing she can to ensure world leaders start acting now to combat climate change. She started by doing a school strike and now she’s traveling the world (by train and not air, as to not compound the problem) to protest and bear witness to this crisis for her generation.

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I think we need more Greta Thunberg’s in this world, don’t you?

What’s your theme song today?

Seems I haven’t written a music-themed post in quite a little while. As I’m knee-deep into another WIP for this blog right now, which is not going to be ready for public consumption for at least another week, it feels like a good time to talk about the music that is currently inspiring me.

I like the idea of having a “theme” song. Not just one, however. We humans are not one-dimensional after all. It’s how ever many speak to you. A song based on what’s going on in your life in the moment. A song that expresses how you are feeling about what’s going on in your life in the moment. A song that speaks to your spirit; your soul.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you probably understand that I’m a total geek when it comes to making Google playlists. I’ve got numerous playlists, all filled with songs under a specific theme. From my “CFO” (Chill the Fuck Out) playlist, to me and Hubs’ “Road Trip” playlist, to my “Soul Song” playlist (which I talk about here¬†and highly recommend you do, if you find music inspiring at all-if you don’t, you might want to get that checked. Just saying!).

But this post is not about my Google playlists. It’s about songs that come into my mind in particular moments. The ones that sometimes define my days.

Like:

“Bitch” by Meredith Brooks: I’m feeling pretty fierce when this is my theme song. Confident, like I’m embracing all that I am as a woman in today’s world. With gusto.

“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus: I know this may seem like a cheesy choice, this song that was written and performed by a child 10 years ago. But bear with me here. It is a very well written song and the lyrics resonate with me as a blogger with big writing dreams. And yes, it is on my “Soul Song” playlist, thankyouverymuch.

“Anticipation” by Carly Simon:¬†This song speaks to me in the moments when it dawns on me that I’ve allowed myself to perseverate on future plans. It brings me back to earth; the present, the now. It reminds me that right here and right now, living a great life with Hubs in Colorado, that “these are the good old days”.

“With a Little Luck” by Paul McCartney and Wings:¬†This is the song I sing to myself when I’m stressed about our Spawn and what their futures might look like. When I feel like Hubs and I have done all we can to support and guide them but still feel anxious. It’s a little reminder to myself that Hubs and I have gone through myriad ups and downs, with our children, our careers, our personal selves and extended family through these last almost 30 years, and we’ve always figured things out, made it through. And with a little luck, we’ll keep on keepin’ on. It gives me a sweet little boost.

Do tell me, my music-loving, lyric-loving, self-loving readers: what are your theme songs?