12 Weeks to Playing the Ukulele

ukuele last checkin

Did you guys all have a fantastic long weekend?  I sure did!  I went down to Kiawah Island and Charleston with my girlfriends and we had a fabulous time.  A few beach days, some exploring the city, and lots of wine and adult coloring.  A big thanks to Jessie for turning me onto these amazing coloring books geared toward adults.

Anyway… There is good and bad news today.  The best news is that we’ve completed our 12 week summer learning challenge!!  How did you DO?

I know some of you were learning skills that had a very measurable tracking process (like my uke) and others had longer term, intuitive skills (like styling).

Regardless of what you chose waaaay back in June, I want to hear how your progress went and how you feel like you’re doing today, 12 weeks after the start of our challenge.  Let me know in the comments below and by tagging #earnestchallenge on social media!

For me, I chose to learn how to play the ukulele.  I was excited to learn something totally outside my wheelhouse.  And I mean totally out of my wheelhouse…. Usually when picking up new skills, I choose something craft related (learn to knit),  language related (I’m currently learning Italian), or sport related (this summer I tried my hand at golf).  With all of those things, however, I already had a pretty good understanding of how to learn them.  I am crafty, so learning new crafts is just like another drop in the bucket.  Similar with languages.  I speak 3 well, so piling on another isn’t a huge deal. And sports, well, I played lacrosse in high school, so I have a general understanding of sports that involve sticks and balls (haha).

When it came to playing a musical instrument, I had no foundation.  I had never played in the school band or taken piano lessons as a child or anything like that.  I did sing in the choir, but that was the extent of my musical base.

Throughout the 12 weeks something were easier than I thought they would be and some things were more difficult.



Learning chords – (and making them sound good!). I was surprised how early out of the gate I could string together a few chords and kind of hear a song. It’s encouraging to see progress so quickly.

Tuning – I bought the Guitar Tuna app (with it’s uke extension) and it made it very easy to tune my ax each time I went to play it.

Reading music – I thought reading uke tabulature would be really hard, but it made sense and was fairly easy to understand.

Learning new songs – just ‘You Tubing’ a song I like pops up with lots of tutorials and they’re pretty great.  I primarily used the Ukulele Teacher and his tutorials are great! Now if I could just get a handle on the hard parts of playing…


Actually strumming – while getting the chords came simply to me, strumming did not.  I thin it’s because the chords are a very black and white thing… you do or don’t hit it the note. But strumming is more of a personal preference thing.  You just have to feel the pattern of the strum and tempo.  That is something I do not have yet.

Conditioning my fingers – guys, my fingers are SORE.  I feel like such a weenie! I wrap my strumming finger in multiple band-aids before I play, or else the cuticle gets seriously abraised.

Tempo – I can play lots of things very very slowly.  Picking up the tempo takes lots of time and practice.

Singing – The second I start singing with my planing, the whole thing falls apart. It’s like patting your head and rubbing your stomach, but much harder.

So, at the end of 12 weeks, I think I’ve come along way, but I still have a lot of practice. The basics have been learned and I have a good sense of what I need to continue doing to get better, which is all a girl can ask for in just a few months of something so completely new. I am committed now to pushing my skills and becoming proficient enough to have a good party trick to bring out.

Back to YOUR progress.  Below in the comments, please let me know ONE easy part and ONE hard part of the skill you learned!  Ok, go!


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How to Meditate for Beginners

beginner meditation

Do you know how when you have something specific on your mind, you seem to see it EVERYWHERE?  Kind of like when you get a new car and start seeing the same kind of car wherever you go.  Or when you decide to cut your hair and then you suddenly start noticing how all of the people you come in contact with have cropped locks.

It’s been this way with meditation.  I started meditating back in January after reading Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier, and since then I feel like I’m hearing someone talk about it everyday.  It’s one of those polarizing things that either people either love or hate… and for good reason… it’s hard to learn, but once you’ve turned a corner of seeing the benefits, you are a believer.  And over the last 6 months, I’ve tried a few different tactics and landed on a few things that work wonderfully for beginners.

First things first, for me, meditation isn’t about transcendence.  It’s not religious or based in spirituality (although I do like some of the spiritual basis, it’s not my primary focus).  In my life, meditation is a way to train by brain to think thoughtfully through the chaos of life.  When I’m meditating, I feel like I can more accurately recall information and problem solve without getting overwhelmed.  Meditation builds up a buffer of patience and focus. If learning how to meditate is something you’re interested in, then here is the best way to get started.   [Read more…]

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the happiest hour

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But, there is another reason why I love happy hour.  There is another reason why this time of day – the magical time when the sun is shining, but work is complete – is the happiest hour in my life.  [Read more…]

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uke update

We’re here for another #EarnestChallenge update! My ukulele playing is coming right along and I hope that whatever skill it is that YOU’RE devoting some time to learning is progressing nicely as well. Let’s finish strong!

My progress has been a little slower than I’d hoped.  I am not musical whatsoever, so picking up an instrument has been a little bit of a learning curve for me.  I learned during these last few weeks that practicing a string instrument hurts your fingers! Ouch! I actually bandaged my strumming finger up because it was getting so raw (I know, I’m a total weenie!).

Like always, I have a little video to share my progress.  [Read more…]

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southern france

I bet you have a guilty pleasure? Right?  I think it’s pretty normal.  For some of us it’s gossip magazines or bad reality TV.  For some of us, it’s cruising social media and for others its playing that one song on repeat in the car over and over again.

For me, it’s scouring international real estate listings. I search in all of the areas that are a romantic notion to me – Florence, Rome, Paris, Provence, and every now and then, Amsterdam. I dig into the sites, compare square meters, prices, if this one has a terrace or how close that one is to the city center. I speak about them and think about them like I’m really in the market. [Read more…]