short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

“Choose Life”

It’s probably not what you think.  I’m not thinking about the big “Choose Life” you see on the bumper stickers; I’m thinking micro-choices, mini-choices.  (In no particular order….)

I choose life when I…

…choose a healthy meal or snack over the unhealthy options;

…drink more water and less soft drinks, caffeine, sugars, etc.;

…pack my gym bag the night before and go exercise first thing in the morning;

…read materials that motivate and inspire rather than bottom-feeder news;

…turn off the television and work on cool projects;

…go to bed at 10 or 11 at the latest;

…make a point of speaking to my neighbors and touching base with family;

…take time to read a psalm and sit with God a few minutes in the morning;

…help when I see a need I can fill;

…check my facebook a couple of times a day rather than twenty.

I choose life when I…

…write notes of encouragement;

…practice all along–rather than cramming for the test;

…listen more and talk less—particularly when praying;

…let go of those old ghosts of the past—the hurts, the failures, the debilitating shame;

…do my best to do my best—then move on;

…savor the beautiful, the excellent, the noble;

…ask people ahead of me on the path for their take on my situation;

…encourage those behind me on the path;

…stand up for the little guy;

…help somebody every day.

I choose life when I…

…remind myself that I am mortal, and I can’t do everything;


…just say no when I know I should just say no;

…remember my roots and the people who have believed in me;

…let a few trustworthy souls into what’s really going on in my heart and mind;

…stop comparing my weaknesses to other people’s strengths;

…seize the moment and savor the day;

…do unto others as I would have them do unto me  (Jesus’ idea);

…grow a moral spine and do the right thing;

…love better, deeper, wider.

I hope my list jumpstarts yours.  Choose life.

Keith   9/29/13


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“Something New, Something Old…”

The idea came to me one day when I was trying to attack a ridiculously varied list of unfinished projects and wanna-do’s.  Old wedding wisdom came to mind.  Remember, brides, on your big day, don’t forget to wear  “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

I tweaked the saying for the greater good.

For a better day, everyday, do “something new, something old, something borrowed, and something bold.”

For me the “something new” comes first thing in the morning.  It’s new song Ideas or book outlines or blog ideas.  For me, it’s a stream of consciousness thing.  Just let the new ideas run, unimpeded by the clutter of headline news and phone calls and interruptions.  What might be the “something new” for you?

For me, doing “something old” may be working to finish a song, or working on a book in progress.  It might be anything from washing the car to clearing the e-mail in-box, to having a long-overdue cup of coffee with a friend.  Call it “taking care of business.”

The “something borrowed” has to do with personal development.  It’s sharpening the proverbial ax.  It’s a morning devotional–i.e., borrowing from the reservoirs of God.  It’s reading a book or trade magazine, or watching a motivational video that grows your skill set.  For me it might be listening to and learning from songs by great songwriters.  In essence, we are “borrowing” from someone else’s library of life experience; learning from people who have walked the path before us.  In my experience, people are amazingly generous with their knowledge when they are convinced that we are sincere.

And “something bold”?   Here, I try to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone.  Maybe I dive into a new recording technology that has intimidated me.  Maybe I try out a new song at a writers’ venue.  Maybe I make booking calls—always a scary prospect.  What would qualify as “something bold” for you?

So there you have it.  Your key to success.  If you turn it carefully, you will lose seven pounds in six days; get invited to appear on The Tonight Show; win the Powerball Lottery; or, at least, get a little more zippedy-doo-dah out of your day.

Keith   9/19/13

“Love ‘n Life”


My new CD is out as of last week. Love ‘n Life.  Folk-ish like me.  Eleven songs.  Eleven takes on love and life… love in life… loving lives.

“Just Add Water” is a call to do love, to be love, to do-be-do-be-do love in a bazillion ways.  “It’s a drop, it’s a bucket, it’s a whelming flood… it’s all holy water in the heart of God.”  When we love, at least for the moment, God smiles and life’s good.

“Bridges” is a song about…well,… bridges.  Truth: it’s a God-thing to connect things—to heal, to restore, to bring things back together that have come apart.  Bridge-building, reconciling, peacemaking is a God thing.  “God so loved, he came to be the first of many bridges….” 

“I’m No Saint” is a true story song about a homeless man who faced a moral dilemma and chose to do the right thing.  Choosing to do the right thing, regardless of the consequences, is love.  It respects others and life and God and self.  Forget love in the abstract!  Do the right thing and love in the concrete.

“Long Time Old Friend” is about old friends and how they don’t just happen overnight.  “It takes years of good and bad days, hanging out and hanging in there….”  Still, if you are a thinking soul, there comes a day you realize, you didn’t make anything.  That long-time old friend is a gift from the oldest Friend of all.

“Better Late than Never’ is a tale of unfathomable love.  “Love Song” is my attempt to put into words a love you can’t quite put into words.  “Love, Love, Love” is a fun ditty celebrating the truth that “everybody wants to be in love.”  “Made for Promises” is a wedding song that resonates with souls who know.

There are a few other cuts, but you get the idea.

Do-be-do-be-do the Love.


p.s.,  To hear clips of Love ‘n Life, or read stories behind the songs, follow the links at

Keith   9/16/13

“Fail Forward”

Famous Failures

The slide with “Famous Failures” is a ray of light…a rope of hope to all of us not-so-famous folks who may have yet to see the magic happen.  Oprah, Walt Disney, The Beatles.  Can there be any more enormous success stories?  And yet there was a point when they were at the bottom—unknown, unproven, disrespected, discounted as losers by “people in the know.”

One thing I have learned about most people-in-the-know—i.e., the critics—is that they are critics because they can’t perform themselves.  They can’t play the sport or the instrument… or write the hit song or the novel… or get elected to public office. Talk about losers—how about the coach who cut Michael Jordan from the high school basketball team?  How about the educator who said little Albert Einstein would never amount to much? And the station that fired Ms. Winfrey because she wasn’t fit for television?  You think those geniuses haven’t kicked themselves to China and back a few times?

Everyone knows failure—at least, everyone who’s ever tried to do anything worth doing.  Learning to play a musical instrument.  Learning to swim, or to paint, or to speak before a crowd, or to sell, or to write a song…or to surf.  Write it down: there will be wipeouts along the way.

You’ve heard of the successful businessman (could have been a woman, but in this case, it was a guy).  In an interview he was asked about his secret to success. “Good decisions,” he answered.  “And how,” the interviewer asked, “did you learn to make those good decisions.”  “Bad decisions,” the man replied without hesitation.

There’s no question whether or not we are going to fail from time to time.  The question is, what will we do when we do.  Wallow in shame?  Blame the world?  Quit?  To quote Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman with bad teeth) in the movie, Hook“Bad form!”  The call of the day is to do your best to succeed, but on those days you do fail, fail forward.  Grow from the mistakes.  Process the pain and apply the newfound knowledge to that next challenge.

The Bible calls that “wisdom”.

Keith   9/12/13

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