Do You Know Rudolph Like I Know Rudolph?

Welcome to the second installment of holiday fun and an interview with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Do You Know Rudolph Like I Know Rudolph? 

image of the cover of Robert L. May's book available on Amazon--Do You Know Rudolph?

Rudolf’s Birth

In 1939, the Montgomery Ward Company asked their ad man to create a story for a Christmas promotion. The ad man, Robert L. May, wrote catalog copy for the company, but he had a way with limericks and parodies

May’s life situation depressed him. He was heavily in debt trying to pay for his dying wife’s medical care.  And his failure to be the novelist he dreamed of haunted him.

But May believed in his story. He had a friend illustrate his manuscript. Together, he and his friend convinced his boss to publish the story. 

Rudolph’s Q&A

1. Who is your role model?

Santa Claus. He’s always jolly and kind. Unlike certain reindeer. Not that I hold a grudge.

2. Who knows you the best?

Santa Claus. He knows when I am sleeping. And he knows when I’m awake. He knows when I am bad or good. 

3. What would your friends say about you?

They used to laugh and call me names. Now they say I’ll go down in history.

4. What is the question people ask you most often?

It’s alway the same. Where did you get that nose?

5. What is the thing you’d never say to another person?

I would never ridicule a reindeer or a person for their looks.

6. What is your greatest achievement?

Saving Christmas one foggy night.

7. What is your greatest failure?

white space image of reindeer horns with ornaments hanging from it, two black eyes and a red nose. Do you know rudolph?

Hating my nose and not believing in myself. 

8. What did you learn from your greatest failure?

That we all have a purpose in life. Sometimes it’s a big thing, but more often it’s a tiny thing to us but a huge thing for someone else. Sometimes we never know who that someone else is, and that’s okay.

9. What is the thing you are most proud of?

Helping people who look different feel better about themselves through my story.

10. What would you like to change about yourself?

Not one thing. I used to hate my red nose, but it helped Santa more than once now. I learned that sometimes our imperfections are our greatest assets.

The Rest of the Story

Read the original story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s a bit different from the versions we see today, but it remains delightful. 

The Montgomery Ward Company sold more than 2 million copies of the story. But apparently the company thought of the story as nothing more than a promotion. They gave the rights back to May.

May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, was a songwriter. May talked him into writing a song about Rudolph. Harry Brannon sang the song first. Then in 1949 Gene Autry picked up the song. And it sold more than 25 million copies and the rest as they say is…history.

Do You Know Rudolph?

Image of an outline of Rudolph and a Christmas tree on a blue background--do  you know rudolph

Learning about Rudolph and interviewing him was fun. I hope you enjoyed it, too. If you missed my interview with Frosty, please take a minute to read it. 

Do You Know Rudolph? If you didn’t before, you know him better now. Happy Holidays!

When Your Motivation Needs a Boost

It’s November, and that means a lot of writers are taking up the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month—this month. This is an annual challenge that many enjoy. And one that many “fail.” Rather, they don’t write 50,000 words within the month. But this, the eleventh month of the year, is also a time when the long-running pandemic is flaring, a contentious election is happening, and social outrage is high. Most people are worn out. Many are struggling to stay motivated to get through the day. Here are a few strategies you can use when your motivation needs a boost.

small olive branches above and below the handwritten words don't give up--a sign for when your motivation needs a boost

Know What Your Ultimate Goal Is

You may think this is obvious, especially a writer. You might say my goal is to write a book. Maybe it’s that simple, but in this case think bigger. Do you want to be the author of one book? Perhaps you want to have a retirement nest egg? Or do you want to move to a tropical island? 

Visualize your future self. You’ve accomplished your big goal. What does your daily life look like? What does it feel like? How do you feel about the road you took to get there? 

Journal or draw out these ideas. These will be important 

Your why is usually pretty simple. Why do you do the job you do? Remembering this is key to keeping you on task. Here are a few suggestions that may help you remember your why.

Remember Your Why

Monetary Gain—you will get paid. Maybe your goal is to keep a roof over your head, food on your table, and clothes on your body. 

A Sense of Accomplishment—it may be important to you to be better at something or to have reached a goal. 

Personal Gain — you’ll get the degree you wanted, you’ll learn something new. Be careful about this one. It can easily slide into something you have no control over (if someone else has to agree to give it to you—such as applause or a job promotion—you might influence the outcome but you have no control.)

A Step Toward a Larger Goal—you know your big goal and the steps needed to get there. Word your goal as a fraction of the way to the ultimate goal.

Other motivational discussions mention fear and power being reasonable motivations. They may be for some things, and they can definitely be positive motivations. But there’s a danger that they will become soul-crushing for you or someone else. There’s enough negative energy in the world right now. Try to find a positive energy motivation. It will take you further.

Whatever your why, write it down on a self-stick note or poster or white board and stick it about your workspace. 

Set a Goal

hand written message on pebbly brown surface for when your motivation needs a boost says "small steps are still progress."

There are the big goals, such as writing 50,000 words in a month. But it takes many little steps to reach that ultimate goal. Break your goal down into smaller steps. Smaller, until you get down to what you must accomplish in a day.

Be realistic about the daily steps. To write 50,000 words in a month, you must average 1667 words for each of thirty days. But will you really write every single day? If you can, great. If you have a day job, a family, holiday or other commitments, that daily activity may be impossible. So figure the realistic number of days you can expect to spend on your goal. If you spend five days a week for four weeks, that’s 20 days. You must write a lot more words (2500 words per day). 

Whatever your daily goal — write it down. Put it up where you can see it.

Prepare for the Unexpected

If 2020 isn’t a crash course in this, I don’t know what it. But you know life rarely goes exactly as you’ve planned. Plan for the unexpected. Know what you’ll do if you need a temporary change of goals, if an urgent family or life matter interrupts and keeps you from your daily goal. How will you adjust? When writing a novel, have a digital or handwritten backup in case of mechanical failure. Hire help to deal with the other issues or order takeout so you have another hour of working time. Have a plan.

Prepare for Flagging Motivation

This may be where many of us are right now. It’s been an unusually tough year. Perhaps you’ll want to have some inspirational quotes on standby. 

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

Martin Luther King Jr

Find quotes that motivate and inspire you. The best source of quotes I have found is Brainy Quotes.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.

Francis of Assisi

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Nelson Mandela

When Your Motivation Needs a Boost

Don’t give up. 

You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.

Chuck Yeager

Give your motivation a boost with music.

Don’t give up. 

You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.

Babe Ruth

Try a different post and motivational quote.

Don’t give up.

Don’t give up.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas Edison

Remind yourself of your why. Remind yourself of your goal. Then remind yourself to boost your motivation and don’t give up.

Ways Music is Good For You and Your Stress

If you follow my Facebook page or profile, you know I love to listen to and share music in almost all its forms. Turns out that music is good for you. In my continuing examination of stress, I share some science behind the ways it is good for you. And I share links to stress-relief acoustics both musical and natural sounds.

Scientific studies of stress and cortisol show that relaxing tunes may reduce stress and reduce the time you need to recover from stress. Some studies show that natural sounds (rippling water) may be even more effective than relaxing songs.

Image of a wave of musical notes and the quote, “Where words fail, music speaks.” by Hans Christian Andersen--We've always known music is good for you

Historically, musical theorists concerned themselves with the grammar and syntax of music. We simply knew a relationship between melodies and mood and well-being existed. Ways to measure and study this effect are now available to researchers. And we are only just beginning to understand that music affects every system of our body. 

In my brief review of the studies I found there is no one study that has found the answer. However, the studies show that there are many ways music is good for you.

Brain

Studies suggest that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves. Alpha brainwaves are present when you are relaxed and conscious.

Rhythmic songs may change brain function and treat a range of neurological conditions, including attention deficit disorder and depression, according to Researchers at Stanford University.

Cardiac

Medical News Today reported on a study that demonstrated the effects of music in combination with blood pressure medications. 

“The heart rates of the music-listening participants dropped significantly 60 minutes after taking blood pressure medication, whereas when they did not listen to music, the heart rates did not slow down at all.

Immune System

One study showed that listening to a relaxing melody before surgery causes an increase in the body’s immunity and reduces cortisol levels. (Read about the McGill University Study here).

In 2013, a study of premature infants reported that live tunes played in the neonatal intensive care was extremely effective. “Infants experienced lower heart rates, better oxygen saturation, higher caloric intake, and increased sucking behavior.”

Psychology & Behavior

A study published in Nursing Times that music therapy reduced agitation in dementia patients. Later studies indicated that this effect increased when the patients listened to songs from their youth.

Other studies have concluded that for disabled children, music’s form and structure “encourages coordination and communication.”

Listening to relaxing melodies may relieve depression and increase self-esteem in elderly people. 

Another study shows it can reduce burnout and improve mood among nursing students.

Intelligence

Experiments carried out by scientists at the University of California at Irvine found that students’ test scores improved after listening to a recording of Mozart, compared with either a relaxation tape or silence. They refer to this as “The Mozart Effect.”

Stress Response & Recovery

Some studies have found that listening to relaxing music before surgery reduces the patient’s stress. 

One particular melody listed below reduced study participants’ stress by 65%.

Songs That Works Best

Music enjoyment is subjective. You may have to try several styles before you find the one that works the best for you. Here is a list to get you started:

Many thanks to Melanie Curtin at Inc.com and the Counseling Services branch of the University of Nevada (Reno) for their music selections)

The Ways Music Is Good For You

You probably didn’t need to read this to know that music is good for you. But how music affects us when we are stressed is amazing. We’ll learn more about the ways music is good for you as more researchers complete more studies.

For more information about what stress does to our bodies see my earlier blog posts, 10 Warning Signs You’re Doing Too Much and Recognize Your Stress Levels.

Do you listen to music when you’re stressed? Please share a link to one of your favorites (only one link per comment so your comment isn’t marked as spam.)

A Musical and Literary Tribute for D-Day

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the day that changed history. The Allies sent soldiers in a massive assault against the Germans. Thousands went into battle. Thousands died, thousands were injured. We honor this day and remember those who fought and those who died. There is little new to be said, but we mustn’t forget the men and women who sacrificed to stop the fascists. This musical and literary tribute for D-Day is a small attempt to honor those whose lives were forever changed because of World War II.

Photograph shot looking out of the boat with soldiers wading to the Normandy shore. A musical and literary tribute for D-Day
By Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17040973

“I’ll Be Seeing You”

Billie Holiday, 1938

Billie Holliday sang this soulful song in 1938. In the lyrics she tells her love she will see him everywhere she looks (even though he’s gone away). It became the farewell anthem for soldiers and has been sung by many others.

The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank © 1947

German-born and Jewish, Anne Frank got a diary for her thirteenth birthday. A short while later, she and her family went into hiding. Her diary shares details of her daily life, her wishes, and her desires until the Nazis captured her and her family. She died in a concentration camp at the age of fifteen. Her father, the family’s only survivor, published parts of her diary in her memory. 

The honest, raw story is a study of optimism in dire circumstances. 

Amazon.com/Diary-Young-Girl-Definitive/dp/0553577123

“We’ll Meet Again”

The D-Day Darlings, 2018

The British song, “We’ll Meet Again,” originally sung by Vera Lynn in 1939 became quite popular. This recent rendition revives the song of hope.

The Flowers of Hiroshima

Edita Morris © 1959

This tender story of Hiroshima illustrates the horrors and the aftermath of the atomic bomb. This story will haunt you.

https://www.amazon.com/Flowers-Hiroshima-Edita-Morris/dp/0670321907

The Shawl

Cynthia Ozick ©1977

The Shawl is a powerful story of the devastating physical, psychological, and emotional scars suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Its imagery and characters will stay with you for a very long time.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679729267

The Shores of Normandy

Jim Radford, 2019

Sung by a veteran of Normandy this song expresses his memories in an effort to support the British Normandy Memorial. Its lyrics have touched millions and reached the top of the charts.

There have been hundreds of songs and thousands of stories written about or in reaction to the war. Read about another way to learn stories about the war in my post Remembering: Veterans History Project (not just WWII or D-day but all wars).

This musical and literary tribute for D-Day is small but heartfelt. The songs and stories have earned a spot in my heart and I hope you will sample them. Please add your favorite musical or literary D-Day or WW2 tribute in the comments. 

Women Empowering Women

Women empowering women is a strong and beautiful act. How does this happen? Women lift others with their voices through song, art, dance, speech, poems, stories, and mentorship and so many other ways including small acts of kindness.

Art

Feminist art emerged in the 1960s. From sculpture to paintings to drawings and performances, these artists highlight societal and political differences associated with gender identity.  Here’s a list of 15 artists to get you started.

Tammy Mike Laufer (תמרמייקלאופר) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ]

POETRY

Poetry, or words that make music in your heart, has many forms. And there are thousands of strong women poets. Below are two examples.

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

“You are more than beautiful” by Rupi Kaur

SPEECH

2014 Emma Watson gave this fabulous speech at the UN launcing the HeForShe campaign.

There are many, many TED talks about women’s rights and empowerment. Here’s a list of 3,000 titles.

BOOKS

There are many nonfiction books and many fiction books that tell the story of women empowering other women or themselves. 

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Margarot Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, and Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things To Me,  are a very small sample.

MUSIC

Songs of celebration to songs of protest, music has always been a means of communicating messages and feelings.  Below is a sampling across the decades.

1958 Here’s a sample “Songs of the Suffragettes” sung by Elizabeth Knight, released in 1958 by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Listen Here!

1963 Lesley Gore, “You Don’t Own Me”

1967 Aretha Franklin, “Respect ”

1978 “I Will Survive” Gloria Gaynor

1983 “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” Cyndi Lauper 

1993 “I’m Every Woman” Whitney Houston

2003 “Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson

2011 “Who Says” by Selena Gomez

2015 Girl in a Country Song Maddie & Tae 

Women Empowering Women

We’ve touched on just a few examples of women empowering women. Women mentor, they inspire through random acts of kindness, they start charities, and still that’s only a small taste of all the ways we empower each other. What examples of women empowering women inspire you? How do you empower other women?