Friday, October 1, 2010

Short Term Travel Goals and More Motivators

Six Weeks from Bliss

Been a while since the last update, but that can be a good thing as being busy means I'm doing things, and that's not a bad thing. It's been busy, and a lot of good has been going on. Right now I'm trying to keep up a pretty insane work pace through the first two weeks of November, in large part because with the way everything is falling into place there's a chance for me to take a four to five week vacation right at the end of the year if I can keep up the torrid pace through mid-November. And based on this year, I can definitely use an extended break. Making it a long jaunt of travel is going to be very refreshing for me, and hopefully kill off the cabin fever that is driving me nuts right now.

Also, I think it's easy to lose sight of goals that are worth working and fighting for. I haven't enjoyed a good trip or extended travel in almost 10 months, and then it was a brutal last second road trip to California to run around all week and help prep a wedding. So while it was great to see some old friends, get traveling, and cross Utah off the list, it wasn't exactly a "this could be my lifestyle" motivational moment.

Travel is an absolute passion of mine, and there are very few things in life that make me happier or more content than travel, exploring, and seeing new places while enjoying all the adventures that come naturally with that. And it's been way too long. There haven't even been many weekend getaway trips this year. But if I work my arse off until the middle of November, there's a good chance I can take 4-5 weeks off of travel and vacation, with only minimal work while on the road - as in two 4-6 hour days a week at most.

This isn't only a great experience or a great vacation by anybody's measure, but it gives me a chance to see many of my great friends, travel through several states, and get a taste of what a fully passive income could provide for me. It also gives me a badly needed recharge physically, mentally, and emotionally. Maybe even more importantly, it will be the perfect reminder to me of what I'm working so hard for and why it's worth it.

As things stand right now, I'll be spending a week with one of my best friends in Asheville, North Carolina. Getting there via Amtrak, enjoying a week in the beautiful North Carolina countryside and then road tripping with him down to Florida to spend Thanksgiving in Tampa, one of my favorite cities, with several of my favorite people. After that...well it's pretty open. I've been thinking about hopping over to Austin to visit some of the old sites again, but I also have a lot of friends in Colorado...but weather is a major factor on that one. If there are blizzards galore, then I'll definitely be skipping that. But if it's all clear in early December, then maybe so. If not, I can always cut up back through St. Louis for a few days before making my way back home.

Taking a lot of time off, and then being able to work in very short, strong, and effective bursts when I do is just what I need to get recharged again. Add in a taste of my interpretation of the good life, and this looks like a real potential winner.

Otherwise I'm working to keep on a good diet - which is really hard during football season and when you work so many long hours, it's easy to want to cram the junk food for energy. So far I'm having mixed results, but I'm going to push myself for a good end of the year drop.

Business wise there's a lot of what I've probably said the last few months: love the progress and love what I'm seeing but not happy with how long it's taking. December is going to be great, and maybe the solution to this one is choosing to focus on the positive and just accept that in the short term it's better to focus on a few things and accept that the bigger projects will take a little longer to hammer out. Better to do it right. Besides, there's absolutely no question that concentrating on one thing at a time with 100% energy gets a lot more done more quickly than spreading out the efforts. Getting constant monthly income in sizable chunks from affiliate sales makes it easier to concentrate on the longer term stuff that might not make money right now but is better for the long run.

I have discovered a new drink I'm very fond of, Disarrono and Sour, but being on the diet means I can't enjoy it too often. Ah well. Trade offs.

Otherwise, finding time to creatively write each day and work on more creative projects to help my sanity and keep myself passionate, and otherwise still wildly optimistic about what the remainder of this year holds and what next year holds, as well. Things are beginning to go well, and it seems like so many things in my life now are all headed in the right direction, it's just a matter of time for all of it to work out as the foundation is in place.

So I keep at it, and keep hammering away and see what happens next. But it's looking good and I'm going to choose to keep pushing myself hard for the next six weeks so I can spend the six weeks after that remembering why I was doing it to begin with.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quietly Turning the Corner

Mountains Move Quietly

Well that's one sub-title that's not going to rank well in the Search Engines, LOL, but it just came to me as a way to explain how major life changes, and major shifts in decision making that sound combative and huge, could happen so quietly, day-by-day, with very little fanfare. I probably will never say this again, but thank you Geology. Mountains move, and continue to move and grow very slowly over long periods of time - but that doesn't change the fact that mountains far larger than any personal demons or struggles any of us have do move - and they do it without noise. Yet a mountain moving even 12 inches would definitely qualify as a lot of movement considering the sheer size and scope.

So in a lot of ways, that analogy seems to be a good one for a lot of what's going on in life right now. The slowness of a mountain moving seems to be, as well. In many ways, I'm all but financially set at this point in that I'm making enough per month, and will continue to do so, to pay off all my bills (which will become FAR easier when I get some roommates to split rent in the apartment), and will continue to make enough to pay off the debts and put some aside.

In a short matter of a couple of months I've basically doubled my monthly (and thus yearly) income, and that amount is still steadily growing. Financially, I'll be in great shape by next year once I work through the dental surgery, past medical bills, and credit card debt. And being someone who craves freedom and travel, that's really big news to me that goes way beyond the financial implications alone.

So the dental surgery is part of the news. The wisdom teeth were pulled in the spring, and now the damage they caused is getting fixed piece by piece. My two front teeth were cleaned, the infection treated, and fillings put in. They look fantastic, and especially after dealing with tooth decay for so long, it's amazing how that little detail brings up the entire self confidence. The other two really bad ones get repaired on Tuesday, and it won't surprise me at all if a jump in self confidence and just overall well being occurs after the fact. If nothing else, it will be nice to not have the stress of knowing I have to get dental work done somehow, some way, without any money to pay for it. This will pretty much cost the entire "best contract I've ever received" but at least it is done and out of the way.

The weight loss is plateauing where it generally always does, but very slowly bit by bit I'm getting closer to my goal, and even when the scale says my weight is the same (or even higher) the clothes keep fitting better and I keep having to buy in smaller sizes, so something is definitely working. Generally feel better and stronger, although some days are better than others. I can run again for the first time since the car accident at the end of 2005, so that was actually quite ridiculously exciting considering I never liked running - but I hate not being able to do something even more.

I walked to Barnes and Noble a few times the past few weeks, and finally decided after so many 16-20 hour work days in a row, I deserved to buy myself a little gift. So I finally spent $30 on the Newly Revised The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. I bought the audio book version to listen to it on my laptop, and for those of you who read the original: YES, this is definitely worth the buy. I know the title sounds hypey (and he admits he doesn't like the title at all but marketing forced it) and not everything in the book applies to everyone, but this is a work that can change your life simply by learning to be ultra productive in less times, challenging pre-suppositions, and learning the truth about the sheer amount of options that people have. It also teaches a critical lesson about why you shouldn't mindlessly follow any conventional road to career, college, or success.

This was an excellent pick up, and it was necessary anyway since I somehow lost Disc 2 out of the original 6 disc set I had. The revised version is on 11 discs, to give you an idea of how much more is there. And to me, it's the best type of motivation. Not hyped up or pie in the sky or touchy feely, but filled with case after case after case of people who have learned to live the lives of their dreams by taking risks, using technology, and are enjoying all the benefits of that. They're the type of stories that inspire me. I lived that way for a while to a limited degree, but I want the whole pie and without the oppression of debt that I'm stuck with right now.

And even a few months ago that seemed really far away. Right seems to be getting closer. Now the one issue with the mountain moving thing - I'm not a patient person. It is very easy for me to get frustrated. Why can't I be out of debt RIGHT NOW? Haven't I done enough work? Can I really do this for x more amount of time, etc and so on and so forth.

So even though I realize the corner has been turned financially, I still have to daily fight against the frustration or depression that comes from the bills that still have to be paid and the dental work that still has to be paid, and one more year of high rent before moving to a more reasonable place. Some days this is a complete non-issue, other times it's a sludge fest. But that's part of my nature. I like taking action, and the daily chipping away at a mountain doesn't satisfy the part of me that craves that decisive and bold advancement.

But I've already decided on taking one month off next year and going to visit Belize. Have wanted to for years, and I've noticed when I talk about wanting to do something, life often gets in the way. When I decide to do something, often times it happens. So I made the decision that next year it's going to happen, as is a long road trip covering all the states I haven't managed to visit yet, from Idaho to Massachusetts to Louisiana.

Also looking at buying my first house. That was definitely one of the unexpected developments of the past few weeks. It won't be done this year, but I'm looking at moving next year to a small Missouri town about 45 minutes from Kansas City. I have several of my best friends who live down there, and it's ridiculous how cheap it is to buy a good modern house there. It's ideal for what I want - a nice home base with good friends, a nice quiet area with plenty of outdoors options around, and a good place where I have friends who can keep an eye on it while I'm away for weeks or months at a time enjoying life and having adventures. It's more centrally located to a lot of places than I am now, and close enough I can still visit my sister reasonably often and also be reasonably close to family.

And with the way my businesses are growing and work is going, in theory by the end of next summer I might be able to save up as much as half for the down payment. Or if things keep really going well, then the whole thing.

So a lot's changed, even though I'm still in Cedar Rapids, still in the apartment, still hacking away and typing a way bit by bit, still working the ridiculously long days. Doesn't look any different, but a lot's changed and is changing, and determination was definitely the driving force behind it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Process Continues

So Where Am I Now?

Well it's definitely been a while since the last post, which was before the mid-point of June, but a lot has happened and as much as I was thinking of a goal of updating this blog twice a week throughout the year, when it's between this blog or keeping business momentum going, this blog or getting some emergency freelance work done (for $40-$50 an hour), or this blog and a nice weekend vacation up in beautiful northeast Iowa complete with trout fishing, card playing, and hiking the Effigy Mounds, well the blog comes in second.

But here I am, and there has been a lot that's happened, and the process continues for me. Some things are going extremely well, others slow and painful, but considering everything I've been through this year, it's actually beyond amazing that I'm doing as well as I've been doing. The mind over reality thing might seem on shaky ground, but actually considering how much is going right in the midst of how much is going terribly wrong, I actually think the conscious work on a mentality shift is very impressive, and I'd be curious to see how amazing it would be in a year that was relatively quiet of absolute disasters.

So how's fixing my life coming along? Eh, it's moving. Slower than I want in many ways, but my goals were probably overly ambitious and with everything that happened this year, there was just no way that everything was going to sail smoothly.

But I'm still losing weight, I'm getting into better shape once again, and the legs aren't great, but they're getting better. I can run for the first time in five years, since the car accident, which is actually really exciting. I've always hated running, but once it became a "you can't do it," you can imagine how well that went over with me. Right now I'm reveling in it...and trying not to dry heave right after, but it's been a while so I'm sure it'll take some more time.

The work has been going amazing. My passive income is growing at a steady and consistent double digit rate that has me extremely excited for where I could be by next year, and the freelancing has absolutely taken off. Basically, you can't hire me for less than $20 an hour anymore, and that's a minimum. Rush rates start at $40. It has taken several years of work to get to this point, but the freelancing income has exploded literally this year. Back in January I only made $1,500, and now I'm bordering on $55,000 a year, so you can do the math on how the averages have changed dramatically.

Virtually no chance of me ever working for someone else again, which is a really great feeling. There aren't a lot of people who control their own fate regardless of the economy, but I'm fortunate enough to be part of that group.

Saturday was a really good day. Ate at The Londoner, a fantastic local English pub with an amazing menu, saw an old friend who I haven't seen in many years, and had the single best dessert I've ever had in my life. Seriously, it was heaven. I'm still babbling about it days later and I've had very good desserts at very expensive restaurants, but their sizzling apple pie with butterscotch, caramel, and vanilla bean ice cream takes the cake. That was a definite plus.

On the negative side, I haven't gotten out nearly as much to socialize and test my comfort zone, in part because of working so much. That's the problem with having such diverse goals: many times it is one or the other. But I'm really excited about Truth Exposed Publishing, and I think it's going to end up being huge. Eventually multi-million dollar huge if we just keep at it, so that has been getting a lot of attention from me recently and will continue to do so and just see where that ends up taking us.

I'm putting together a collection of short fiction to send to several contests, and am spending a little more time back with my creative writing, because that's always been the passion and it's just something that I need to do. It's as important to me as eating, drinking, and breathing.

Done a little traveling, visited several new places, and hiked the Effigy Mounds. Hoping to take a short "work vacation" here in the next eight weeks, and I'll be getting all of my teeth fixed before finally paying off one of my credit cards completely. The passive income keeps growing, and I have a plan next month to really hammer away at that and make sure that the explosive growth continues, or even speeds up.

Other than that, a lot of goals I still need to work on, but there's no question I have solid traction, and that I'm at least moving in the right direction. Life is getting better, and in a week when one of my best friends moves across country to pursue his real life dreams, I get the big room in the apartment with incredible AC and an actual bed for the first time since I've been in grad school (May of 2007). And unlike my current room, that room stays cool and doesn't get humid, which means my work production will only get better.

I'm starting a strict eating regiment next month and beginning training because now that I can actually run, even if only for two minutes or a short sprint, I want to obliterate all the barriers by training to run a 5k, something I've never been able to do up to this point in my life. And then I'll have to work some more because I have the great problem that many of my shorts don't fit anymore even with a belt...they still fall off.

So that's the update for now. I'm sure I've missed a lot, but right now it's work, work, and more work and trying to dissect the rest of my time well in the meantime. Hope everything is going well for ya'll - and challenge yourself to one goal before the end of the year. Even small cahnges can add up to huge results.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Learning to Change Reality

Changing Reality

I'm not completely sure how to go about this post. I'm kind of hoping for short and sweet since I have a ridiculous amount of work to get done, but on the other hand I like to ramble and this is the closest to a break I get. I'm going to try to keep this post somewhat moderate - especially after the 5,000 word ramble at my freelance writing blog about freelance writing, momentum, and compounding. I think there was plenty of useful tidbits in there, but that was definitely a level of ramble I should probably cut back from in the future.

So the biggest struggles I've had personally in recent times have been a strange duality that at times seem to be punctuated with sudden mood swings. A lot of this I think is stress and emotional trauma catching up after everything that's gone on. Not only was there everything with my sister and the completely unbelievable BS with the way that turned out, but within a month and a half our grandfather died, Lanny Fintel, a great family friend and a major influence in me and my brother's life, also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is going to be fatal. Another close friend of mine is fading out in Oregon after a long battle with HIV/AIDS, and a major writing contract I thought I had fell through.

Beyond this are the "normal stresses" like having to cover rent, student loans, credit card bills, medical bills, food, and having to take on more than my fair share of expenses in the apartment. With one roommate leaving for college, I'm looking at covering nearly 90% of the expenses of a 3 bedroom apartment until I can find more roommates. The business is growing well, but using every spare dime to cover for new expenses or expenses I should be getting help with instead of being able to pay off my own debt or medical bills gets really frustrating - which adds to stress.

The ordinary stress load I have is pretty ridiculous, and adding in all the recent traumatic instances, and to not being able to vent at the time of getting the news. I had to cram it all in, help others, and then cover everyone who didn't cover for themselves. It's been a frustrating process, especially since it has taken a huge bite out of the time I have to work on my businesses, on my projects. These have been quite literally a God send, and a really clear sign to me that things could be going great by the end of the year.

But even good things like new projects and new work still add their own stress...and I've been pretty seriously burned out since September of last year. That's an almost impossible place to start from before going through everything else going on, and today is one of the days where I'm feeling the weight of everything, as today the stress feels like an actual physical weight to the point where it takes more effort to lift my arms, to sit down and type more articles, to get up and keep moving to try to get awake. It's hard today. Tomorrow, I might be 100% focused on the good and it will be easy.

The last few weeks have been very much like that. In part because the stress, exhaustion, and general trauma is catching up to me at a time when actually a lot of things are going EXTREMELY well, and I think this is part of the reason why there is some degree of back and forth. Because I'm not doom and gloom right now, because a lot of the whole, "I can change my reality simply by willing it," hypothesis that I started this blog and this year with has actually been working in a lot of areas in my life fairly dramatically.

I make a lot more in my freelance business working less hours, and I have excellent 15% average a month (which the previously aforementioned rambling Master Dayton blog post alludes to as actually being quite a bit higher) growth in my passive income, which if that compounding keeps up through next year, I'll have the ability to retire by fall of next year, at age 30, even with my unwieldy debt loads from the combination of medical bills and the unwise decision of going to grad school.

I won't, because I have a LOT of awesome projects in the pipeline, because I'm just beginning to realize the potential of what I can pull of the next few years, and because I genuinely really, REALLY enjoy what I do. It's a powerful combination, especially with motivation and compounding on your side.

So where am I at now?

There's a lot going well. I'm on the low side of the 290's for the first time in 5 years, and pushing to get right at 290 by the end of the month. There's a pretty decent chance I could hit my weight loss goals by the end of the year, and the place I'm noticing it the most is with having to buy a lot of new clothes, because even with the belt all the way on its furthest loop, I've had one incident with my shorts falling right off in public. It was pretty freaking funny. If you can't laugh at yourself when that happens, when can you?

The freelancing ceiling has also shot up dramatically for me. If I worked the same number of weekly hours as last year, I could clear 60 grand this year. I'm not going to, because I want more time to work on my business start ups, my creative projects, and give myself some time to do some camping, work out, and take care of the other things on my wish list for the year. But I can work less (i.e. work very reasonable hours) and still make well over 30 grand a year while developing the rest of my projects that are really beginning to take shape. As my per hour keeps creeping up, those numbers are going to get even better.

My passive income is outright compounding, which Einstein once described as one of the most fascinating forces in the universe and I can definitely see why now that I'm experiencing how it can work first hand.

Also contemplating a possible move to Tampa, Florida, based on a job offer. I'm somewhat in the air on that one. I absolutely love the city of Tampa, and it is possible that I might have a great friend moving there, which would be a big shove for me towards the "Definitely" category. The job itself isn't impressive in and of itself, but the amount of work they expect per week and would be very happy with I could do in 20 hours a week, and I would have the ability to work off-site from the office - which is a HUGE plus for me because that leads to steady pay, gives me enough time to keep my freelance work where I want it, and still have time to work on my projects. The combined pay from all 3 would definitely equal a lifestyle upgrade, as well.

The biggest hold up for me right now is a combination of recognizing a need for stability, and also wondering how a move would affect some of my projects and burgeoning business plans. Most of what I do is online, which for freelancing means I don't have to worry (and ditto with passive income building) - but a lot of my developing business options involve partnerships, and until the foundation is solid enough, that's something you don't want to take a chance with. So that's just going to be up in the air until late August, because that's how long I have to decide on the job offer.

And if I decide later I do want to move, that's still a completely realistic option. It's very nice to control my own income and be my own employer.

Despite some unexpected medical expenses and having to pay a lot more of the apartment expenses than I had budgeted for, I'm still making really steady progress on the debts. Under $80,000 now, which is a ridiculous total number for not having a house or car, but that's reality after grad school and the American medical system. But I'm under $80,000, which still feels like a huge milestone.

And if you want any indication of how confident I am about how things are going, I expect all those debts to be paid off in less than 3 years.

The confidence levels are increasing, and I'm no longer wondering about if I'll ever make it big time with my businesses and my writing projects, it's only a when...and I'm confident the when is a lot closer than I originally would have thought.

So I hope everyone is doing well - and if you have any recommendations for how to quickly re-charge the batteries through burn out when vacation isn't an option and a day off isn't an option, I'm all ears.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Late May Update

Moving Beyond Devastation

So in theory this was going to be a short update on what's going on, my sister's situation, my overall situation, personal and business advances, "how I'm doing," etc. But it's 5:30 in the afternoon as opposed to 3 am, and despite knowing better after two days of struggling to get more than the most basic work done, and still needing to get a new blog post at my Master Dayton freelance writing blog, I still feel the need for a few hours of procrastination. I've worked enough 14-20 hour days that I think I've earned it. So this is going to be a LOONNNNGGGGG post about what's been going on, while still keeping many things intentionally brief or gray when the situation dictates it.

So the title seems apt because that's exactly what I'm faced with right now, and maybe I think too much but I think you gain potential to understand different facets of psychology really well when you're stuck in tons of psychological turmoil or struggle. Especially when you're self reflective to boot. So what do you do when you've decided to change your life by sheer mental force, to declare it's your year, and a good year, and then you hit absolute devastation in your personal life with a family member?

The psychological back and forth really can be overwhelming. It doesn't do any good to be miserable, but how horrible a human being am I to be happy when this is happening? How can this be a good year when my sister is going to prison for something she didn't do? How can you "just get on with life" when something that devastating has overwhelmed everything else going on? At what point is "being happy" fake surface for your true feelings? Is is better to feel angry or numb? If you go on and enjoy the good things, you feel guilty as sin. If you feel miserable, well you feel miserable and guilty for letting the situation destroy, you, too, and the damage that does to everyone else suffering, as well.

It's really the type of cycle that's designed to strike down everyone in its path, like a black hole that won't allow anything to escape.

It also just gets really tiring of saying "other than the obvious elephant in the room." As one great line from the movie Garden State put it: "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?" By about the 20th time saying "All things considered, I'm doing okay," that answer just begins to piss you off, as well.

So to get the obvious out of the way, the trial was a farce, a well choreographed hanging in a very thinly veiled guise of a fair trial and my sister was convicted of a crime she didn't commit, and is going to prison. I'm not going to go into details beyond that, other than appeals are already under way, and even a couple of professors and a class of criminologists following the trial don't understand how the State had enough to charge her with anything, much less get the worst case scenario conviction. But in the meantime, we have to move on.

I work to write my sister weekly, visit when I can, although that will change when she's transferred from jail to prison, and I'm absolutely blown away and inspired by how she's dealt with her anger at the injustice, came to terms with what the situation was, and decided to focus on her faith, on what she could control, and looking ahead to getting an education and keeping hope for the appeals. She handled the situation better than the rest of the family, I think, and is already looking ahead to what she can do to better her life, even in a terrible situation. I can't say enough how proud of her I am. I would hope I'd get to that mindset if I was going to prison wrongfully, but I'm pretty sure I'd spend weeks or even months being angry at everyone and everything and have a breakdown first. She had her one bad night in solitary, and then moved on. This is amazing to me.

But as hard as it is, the advice about having to move on and enjoy life and live life is completely true. Nothing good comes out of letting this situation destroy all of us. My sister and seeing how she's handled everything has really inspired me, and reminded me that the best I can do for her is to be successful and to live the life I want to live. She's also reminded me that the best way to deal with the deep rage that our family gets from seeing injustice of any kind isn't to blow up, and it isn't to ignore it or squash it, but to hone the massive energy that comes with righteous anger and use that as determination and drive to accomplish greatness.

And as Forrest Gump said: "That's all I got to say about that." At least for now.

I think one of the most important psychological aspects for healing and for moving on is understanding that "moving on" does not mean leaving behind, forgetting, or accepting injustice. It doesn't mean shunning anyone away, it simply means picking yourself up, and as hard as it is, to keep pushing on because that's the best I can do for myself, and for everyone who cares about me, as well. The actual emotional feeling of this process to me feels like the first time after September 11, 2001, when they put the flag from half mast back to the top. That first day it felt weird and strange and utterly wrong - but it had to be done. The emotional feeling I had then is very similar if not exact to the emotion I have now with everything going on.

So to keep moving on:

Work: My freelance work is going extremely well. In fact it's the best that it's ever been and this will mark the first month where I will make more freelance writing in one month than I did at my previous dream job in Austin, Texas. And that's a trend that should continue with every month for the rest of the year. In fact, on the freelance side of things there are many sites I used to work for that I don't write for at all anymore, and my minimum writing rates have gone up again. As far as the freelancing goes, 2010 is looking really damn good.

Then there's also the passive writing income to talk about. That's going extremely well for me. Moving beyond HubPages, Xomba, InfoBarrel, eHow, and Squidoo where most of my passive income generally came from, I'm really beginning to figure out how the niche website set up, and the AdSense and Amazon monthly earnings have not only doubled for me in the past few months, but they are consistently hitting those numbers so I'm definitely happy with that progress.

The major projects I'm passionate about with Truth Exposed Publishing, LLC are coming along slower than I would like, but there's no reason the big launch won't happen by the middle of June and we have a lot of small projects to follow. We also officially hit our first $100 in profit, so that was worth one round of Jamison Whiskey to celebrate. As I said in the toast, $100 down, the first of $100 million to come.

We also had our first hater comment along the lines of "anyone saying college is a bad idea for anyone is an idiot" comment. So that was cool to get a reaction. We figure half of our marketing for the coaching and products we're hoping is coming from outraged people who make a lot of noise and bring a lot of attention. Because our research and services are rock solid and attention is attention, especially in the beginning.

Well one of the side effects of the trial was crashing and burning as far as not being on a diet at all and not working out at all. For about 4 weeks, literally. The damage was pretty brutal, but after getting back on the wagon on the 5th, I've already lost over 7 lbs in 10 days, so the body's taking back to the exercise well...although my legs have definitely lost some endurance. I'm consistently hitting everything again, and the results are already showing so at this rate I'll be back to where I was in early April by the end of next week, and then it'll be all about hammering through those annoying two plateaus that have stopped me cold the last 4 years.

One habit I've started that I definitely appreciate more now is always keeping a fiction or non fiction book in the bathroom. Since doing this I've finished 3 books in the past month based on bathroom reading alone. The last two books I've read were: Cold Beer and Crocodiles, A Bicycle Journey into Australia by Roff Smith, and also the classic travel novel A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. I would recommend both reads, and while I found the Smith book a bit more interesting, in part because Australia seems exotic to me, it's really interesting reading about America during the time that Jenkins began his walk in the 1970s and the great way he has of reporting and diving into his travels without apology to what others may think. It's a very honest accounting, IMO. Currently I'm reading The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane, and although you have to give him 30 to 40 pages to really get into the story, it is very much worth the investment.

As far as non-fiction reading, beyond Writer's Digest there hasn't been too much since I finished the "History of Cannibalism." Still need to find something to fill that void, as the copy writing books are more to be studied than read. If anyone has a recommendation, feel free to live it in the comments.

Also on the intellectual level, anyone who views themselves as a Polymath, Intellectual, or Renaissance Man or Woman, go to YouTube and look up TED Director. These are some incredible lectures that vary from aging to happiness to evolution to human habit and psychology, creativity in education, and everything in between. I've listened to hours of these lectures and am strongly enriched because of it. Some of these seem strongly appropriate to my situation, while others have just been stunning in general. So I'll leave this very short (believe me, I really truncated this one) and finish with two videos from the TED project, and one joke that is my personal favorite.

And also:

So I hope you find those as entertaining, useful, or intriguing as I have. The happiness study jumped out at me immediately, while admittedly, it turns out I vastly underestimated Tony Robbins and what he does and what he studies can go way beyond "self help."

So my favorite joke: Two cannibals were sitting down eating a clown, one turns to the other and asks, "Does anything taste funny to you?"

Friday, April 2, 2010

An April Fool's Day Bonus

A Bit Late in April

So this post is definitely a bit late considering it was started 14 days ago, but considering how crazy this month is and what all is giong on, I think it's definitely understandable. There might be a quick second post after this one, or maybe not, then one more after the trial and that will probably be it for this month.

The very beginning of the month, right around April Fool's Day of all times, several things happened at once that helped at least temporarily help with the stress and exhaustion and just out right worry that comes when something major just looms over everything in life. God willing, none of you reading this will ever have to go through the same thing, or anything even remotely similar, but I wonder how often in life it's not the decision of a person that led to the destruction in their own lives, but something happening to a family member or loved one became a "black hole" that destroyed everyone around them.

Anyway, with the upcoming criminal trial of my sister coming up, and the absolute stress of praying that the system works instead of fails (and so very little faith in the justice system at the same time), it's hard to not let this dominate everything in life, and it's hard to go on with the day to day and do the work and keep moving on in life. Early on, it seems outright wrong. But no good is done by allowing yourself to be victimized by tragedy, by the event.

But the beginning of the month brought a series of mini-victories, and many of the little lessons in life that remind us how often "little" things really aren't, and how necessary it is that during the hardest and darkest times in life, we can see some humor, and take a break from the stress to help us fight on.

At the beginning of the month, those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I pulled a fast one. What surprised me most was that I thought maybe the move was too subtle and nobody would notice at all. As it turns out, despite years away from most of my friends, the "Shane getting hooked up would be funny/ironic/poetic justice," theme is alive and well as ever. I went to Facebook and changed my status from "Single" to "In a Relationship." That was it. No announcement (which everyone would have seen right through, I figured), nothing. Just that one little change.

Within a day I received over 14 comments on the relationship status change, followed up with over 20 e-mails, including some from old friends who don't have Facebook. The congratulations, compliments, and incredible fawning about how lucky she was was so heart warming that for the first time in my life, I felt guilty pulling a prank that worked. Especially since it looked like only 2 people were suspicious, but I suppose Courtney and Joe know me about as well as anyone in the world, so nicely done, guys.

So this prank I thought would go unnoticed was probably my most successful in history, and the response was so overwhelming I thought it was HILARIOUS! Definitely kicked off the month right. The apology and revealing that it was a joke, at 12:03 a.m. April 2nd, received many compliments for the subtlety and effectiveness. Once again, big boost.

I'd like to declare myself master of the universe of pranks at that point, but my Mom got me good on the same day. She sent me a text message saying to call her immediately, and then listed a phone number I had never seen. So I called and received a message in classic 1950's used car salesman voice that informed me I had been "duped, scammed, made foolish, punked, and outright fooled" and the list included several explicative statements as well, all going back to how much the person just punked me. I was not expecting that from Mom, and I have to admit, the phone call was hilarious. It reminded me of Cole's birthday card from my Freshman year of college, which I own to this day. Still have yet to get another b-day card that tells me to "F off" a dozen times and then hopes I die, then adds with "happy birthday, sincerely." Great card, Cole. To this day, still my all time favorite.

Then there was my buddy Joel, who gave me a compliment a couple days later that maybe topped all of that, especially as this is a goal that is important to me, but has fallen by the wayside a bit. Joel came in and I had my shirt off, and he made the surprised comment, "Where the hell's your Bhudda belly? You usually have a huge belly, now it's all gone!"

Yep. Sometimes there's a lot more to losing 10-15 pounds than what the numbers themselves indicate, and compared to a couple months ago, I'm definitely looking good. This has been somewhat frustrating for me, as the last several weeks I haven't lost any weight - but my stomach keeps getting smaller, the shorts keep getting looser, and I need a new belt. So I guess really there's not much to complain about as long as the improvement keeps up.

Anyhow, that's it for now. Appreciate any thoughts, prayers, good vibes, or anything else positive to my sister and all of us as the trial happens next week, and there's so little evidence they think it's going to be done in 3 days, 4 at the most. So praying the system works, the innocent are found as such, and the right thing happens in a world that so often seems wrong. She can't get the last year back, but it's a small price to pay for vindication and the rest of her life. So thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers ahead of time, and I'll update again after the trial.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Can You Be Wounded and Not Know It?

Probing for Hidden Obstacles

Well I have to admit that it feels really good to have my 2010 list of goals blogged about and out there and out of the way. I have a copy of them in my room, as well, written in black sharpie on a large piece of sketch pad paper and taped up to the wall with white duck tape. It's rather funny, because when I first mentioned this blog on my writing blog, it was as a writing goal for the month of March:

"12 blog posts on my "Fixing my Life" blog (going swimmingly by the way, thanks for asking)"

If we wanted to be super duper analytical about it, I've only crossed off 3 of 126 bullet points from the list and we're already almost a quarter of the way into the year. Even with the 3-4 I might knock out next week, and two year long goals I can measure by income and say I'm ahead of schedule, that's still WAY on the low percentage scale.

But that's the funny thing. I'm firmly convinced you need solid, distinct, concrete goals that are actionable to work step by step on the huge things that aren't so tangible. I can say "I want to be less shy," but that's so general and overwhelming that there's no way to attack that (as opposed to a goal of something like 'talk to 20 pretty young ladies this month at Barnes and Noble - which is something concrete that still makes you take a small step to the bigger goal). BUT that also means that with a concrete list the numbers checked off often don't come remotely close to accurately gauging "how it's going."

The comment I made on "fixing my life is going swimmingly" was a bit of a snarky joke, but it was all meant in fun and honestly, that's the way I feel. Maybe the steady commitment alone has been enough to begin to turn around some major things, but part of the process that's not going to be revealed by those goals on the wall is working out of the inside rubble.

So before diving into the thoughts I've really been wrestling with this week, let me set up some framework that might bring some background and organization to this post before I ramble away. The ground rules, so to speak.

  1. I'm very reflective and introspective by nature. I also know I can be a really complex person, so when I start digging through the emotional dirt, sometimes discoveries come in layers.
  2. I tend to have a pretty strong understanding of what influences me both big and small, so what is simply subconscious to some people is something I explore instead of letting it be.
  3. I'm aggressive. Once I figure out there's something to work on, I keep digging no matter how ugly it gets or how much most of me really doesn't want to do it.
  4. My life is complex and can often appear like a paradox. Those of you who know me well understand this easily, and are probably even laughing at me right now, thinking of classic examples you've witnessed.
  5. I'm not a surface person. Hypothetically, assuming most people never go more than 30% deep into who they are, what they believe, and why - it's a pretty safe bet I go 60, 70% or more - or at least understand those extra layers are there and try to deal with them.
Those 5 pretty much lay it out. After that, as my friend Gabe once said: "I'd describe you as the most ridiculously well adjusted train wreck I've ever seen." I thought that was a pretty exceptional and apt description. A lot of people think I'm remarkably well adjusted, and as far as being functional and being able to cope with trauma, yes, I've gone through the gauntlet plenty of times and here I am being rebuilt and becoming stronger than ever. On the other hand, is it because my life is in order and I actually am well adjusted and not at all affected by past traumas? Not even close.

Absolutely no question faith plays a huge role in the coping and strengthening process, but I don't know what you call the rest. Functioning in spite of trauma and dysfunction? So used to both that they just become a permanent part of the background in my life? Is being unbending and obsessive with dealing with my problems, past, and personality the same attitude that simply makes me strong enough to deal with everything because I pull it out into the open?

I have no answers for that because I don't know. But I liked Gabe's quote. In many ways I am an absolute train wreck beyond what even my closest friends can imagine, and it would take all my fingers and toes to count the number of times a good friend has told me they couldn't imagine going through what I had been through and coming out anything but scarred, destroyed, or something else. And none of them get more than bits and pieces. But on a day to day and week to week and in a life in general way, I function very well and outright excel in many areas of my life. And at the worst, I always keep going. It ain't easy, but I don't recall anyone telling me that life was. So I'm a ridiculously adjusted train wreck. I like that.

So a question that I've been wrestling with while trying to deal with all the past junk (we all have it to some extent, my closet just might be deeper than a lot of others) was wondering if I could be wounded and not know it. I mean emotionally or mentally. Obviously I would recognize a knife sticking out of my leg, so that's a non-issue...unless it happens then at the time that probably would be a pretty big one.

But I wonder. Many, if not most, of us have major parts of our personality that are probably very strongly dictated by past events or reactions to past events that maybe we don't even think about any more. Maybe it was conditioning from a childhood embarrassment long since forgotten, but that conditioning remained and affected so many other things along the way. Think the domino effect. Just push one, and the others keep on falling.

There are definitely memories that were hard that have a strong emotional impact on me, but I wonder if some of these problems and obstacles I'm finding in myself have a deeper root that just isn't that easy to identify. I can vividly recall being absolutely verbally and emotionally destroyed by one of the very few women I ever loved. It doesn't surprise me to know how that affected me, and I don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that those memories have a very direct influence on me being defensive and careful on letting certain people in, and in my overall view of dating. But what is it that's made me shy since I was a young kid? Why do certain memories from say the college years stick with me as minorly embarrassing or odd, (or even a moment without an emotion attached) but it has no obvious connection to my life as being something that should be important or still having an effect on me?

Are those wounds that I don't even realize I have, or is that just something else entirely? Why do certain memories seem embarrassing now when they didn't in the past? I wonder if that's a red flag to what I'm saying...or if maybe I'm way over-analyzing the whole darned thing.

I suspect that no matter how self-aware we are, there's always more buried from our conscious understanding of who we are. To go way back to the first point: the list has barely been scratched, but the irony is taking solid small concrete steps is leading to a lot of this personal reflection, working out past memories or troubling emotional responses, getting my personality back more to where I want it, and maybe seeing work going on in me that I didn't expect to happen - or didn't understand that I needed.

Case in point: previously afforementioned heart breaker who definitely turned me off from dating for quite some time - after spending way too much time brooding and being bummed and overly sentimental in my reflecting (something I think most of us can relate to), thinking about her or what happened hasn't been an active emotion thing for me in a couple years, and fuller healing even came after that. In other words, it doesn't hurt to think about her, there isn't the regret, the anger, the "what ifs." In fact, I hit the full acceptance and the emotional release that comes with that well over a year ago. So I figured all my healing from that was done and there was nothing else to heal.

So one more quick story from a couple weeks ago and then I'll wrap this novel up: I walked to Barnes and Noble because working 12-20 hours a day at a computer 7 days a week is much harder in the spring than the fall. At the book store I looked around at the new authors, enjoyed just walking through the place, and just like a cabin fever released writer who was enjoying the day out way too much to pay attention, I bumped into someone coming around the corner and knocked the books out of her hand.

She was a George R.R. Martin fan and so it was very easy to start chatting because we already had that one huge thing in common. At first I was nervous, then comfortable, then simply enjoying a conversation with someone who could really hold their own. At the end, and for most people this is no big deal but for me its a pretty bold move, without even thinking about it (and that is the part that encourages me about this the most), I asked her if she wanted some coffee. She had to go, and the look of regret seemed pretty genuine, so a little nervous I asked for a phone number.

A got a gentle hand on my shoulder, a smile, a thanks for the great conversation, a brief explanation about not being ready for anything even close to a date, and one more thanks for the list of books I added to her reading list.

So in the end I walked out with one new book, and the lingering touch of a hand on my shoulder, and was happy to know not only did some real healing take place, but what I left with really was more than enough to make that a beautiful day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Long Overdue Goals List

100+ Goals for 2010

It's so easy to get caught up with what's going on RIGHT NOW, that sometimes you have to stop and make sure to take care of the basics. So before I get into a lot of the stuff I've really been delving into, like the argument of nature vs. nurture, impact of environment, and my general amazement at inter-connectedness, at some point I wanted to share my long list of goals or things I'd like to do for 2010, especially since some of these things are accomplishments I've already done.

Some of these are going to seem strange, and if I explained each one individually the post would grow too long for anyone to finish. So this list is a combination of goals, things that simply need attending to (like medical), and a lot of odd and end stuff that either has an odd story with me, a personal meaning, or simply makes sense based on my life priorities. For example, I have a lot of individual states listed that I want to visit. This is because I've always wanted to visit all 50 states by the time I was 30. It occurs to me now that I'm not sure if this meant by my 30th birthday, or until the end of the 2011 when I turn 31. It feels like I meant the second, but hey, mine as well take a run at all the states.

And some of these will be "in code" because I have a lot of ideas and you simply can't copyright ideas, so they're coded so they can't be stumbled upon and grabbed by someone else. Many of these goals are also heavily business or money oriented, but those are important issues in my life (and I imagine about everyone's) at this point, and achieving those goals also opens up a lot of other things. I can live in a safe neighborhood if I can afford the rent - and I've disarmed enough people with knives in the past to know I'm not quite as fast as I want to be, and I just don't want to deal with that kind of crap anymore. Also, if I have full time passive income, I can travel and spend money learning new skills and really enjoying a drifter's life the way I'd like to. Having the business do well enough to make a full time income would mean financial independence and having the joy of helping so many people. It's all related.

So anyway, I'm just going to toss out the list with minimum commentary and if anyone is fascinated, confused, or has a question, go ahead and mention it in the comments. Goals that are both bolded and italicized means the goal has already been done this year.

Goals/aims/etc for 2010:

  1. Lose 100 lbs from my heaviest weight
  2. Visit Utah
  3. Be a "Hero" for a day
  4. Visit friends in Oregon
  5. Write my mini-screen play (zombies in Fairbanks, AK)
  6. Really get Just Plain Wrong, LLC going
  7. Co-author screenplay with Tom
  8. Finish brand new novel
  9. Finish co-written novel
  10. Study Spanish to become conversationally fluent again
  11. Learn basic tourist French
  12. Write 10 zombie stories
  13. Fully revise My Brother's Keeper one more time to send out
  14. Get Truth Exposed Publishing, LLC to full time income
  15. Get 10 short stories published
  16. Get 5 poems published
  17. Get 5 essays published
  18. Visit Idaho
  19. Visit Montana
  20. Visit North Dakota
  21. Visit South Dakota
  22. Visit Wyoming
  23. Visit Louisiana
  24. Visit Mississippi
  25. Visit Alabama
  26. Visit Georgia
  27. Visit North Carolina
  28. Visit South Carolina
  29. Visit Hawaii
  30. Visit Delaware (you know, since supposedly it exists)
  31. Visit Massachusetts (sorry if I butchered the spelling)
  32. Expand my IMDB page
  33. Earn over $40k
  34. Pay off all credit cards
  35. Learn a new arts or crafts skill
  36. Double my bench press
  37. Develop my passive income to a full time level
  38. Write a weekly letter
  39. Watch 5 classic movies I've never seen
  40. Read 5 classic books I've never read
  41. Have 1st draft of "College" non-fiction book finished
  42. Establish myself as a copywriter
  43. Enter and place in a sit down (not online) poker tournament
  44. Write 300 additional pages of fiction
  45. Enter 20 writing contests
  46. Practice golf swing - couple of trips to the driving range after church
  47. Eat @ 20 new restaurants
  48. Really explore The Amana Colonies
  49. Save up enough to open a Roth IRA
  50. Get driver's license (stunned this has managed to slip through the cracks this long)
  51. Get a passport
  52. Visit foreign country
  53. Earn enough to enjoy a week vacation in Las Vegas
  54. Learn basic flair bartending
  55. Learn to box
  56. Visit 20 flea markets
  57. Get my wisdom teeth and infected molars removed
  58. Get my other teeth fixed
  59. Get those important eye tests done
  60. Read 20 novels off my "someday" list
  61. Get "Sports Haters" site started
  62. Try to average one blog post a week at Master Dayton writing blog
  63. Get 20 niche sites set up
  64. Learn a new fighting skill
  65. Find a shooting range
  66. Camp at least 1o nights this summer
  67. Meet with JT & Iver
  68. 4 weekend or local adventures
  69. Tithe regularly
  70. Get to 200 published HubPages hubs under Jerry G2 handle
  71. Get to 200 published Squidoo lenses
  72. Re-gain lost self-confidence
  73. Get $1,000 in a savings account
  74. Be into shape to run a 5k
  75. Be able to bike 30 miles in one sitting
  76. New wardrobe (I admit this is LONG overdue)
  77. Change somebody's life for the better
  78. Find something to volunteer for
  79. Spiritually feed myself daily
  80. Meet 5 famous people in person
  81. Visit 5 out of state friends
  82. Ski
  83. Fish
  84. 20 mile hike in 1 day
  85. Donate $500 to charity
  86. Donate $300 to Coe
  87. Write 200 new InfoBarrel articles
  88. Write fiction daily
  89. Try to average 2 blog posts a week on here (more of an accountability thing, the actual numbers are less important on this one)
  90. Learn to cook Chinese food
  91. Learn to cook Cajun
  92. Compete athletically in something
  93. Challenge myself to overcome a fear
  94. Re-capture that old flair
  95. Learn to sword fight
  96. Start YouTube sketch comedy show
  97. Write TC parodies - full scripts all episodes
  98. Read 5 biographies
  99. Start 10 niche blogs
  100. Develop PA strategy - ebook program to follow up
  101. Develop "secret project"
  102. Make functioning recliner out of cardboard and duck tape
  103. Improve throwing knife accuracy
  104. Pay Mike off completely
  105. Finish paying off medical bills (finally)
  106. Re-gain thorough lust for life
  107. Go to 4 concerts
  108. Take personal time daily
  109. Complete first full collection of poems
  110. Finish new novel idea, co-authoring with Tom (yes, that would make 3 new novels written in a year)
  111. Learn to say: "That's not an iguana! You dummy, you shot a coconut!" in 20 languages by Christmas.
  112. Forgive the last few people I've had a really hard time forgiving
  113. See the Atlantic Ocean again
  114. See the Pacific Ocean again
  115. Visit old friends & hang outs in Austin, Texas
  116. Blow up something
  117. Show some amateurs how you really build a bonfire
  118. Make my first mini-film
  119. Be somewhere interesting on New Year's Eve
  120. Open myself back up to take a chance dating or opening up to someone new
  121. Heal
  122. Build my Master Dayton blog to 100 search engine visitors/day
  123. See if I can actually get someone to call me Master Dayton. So far I've been laughed at a lot. I'm just saying if Ph.D's are doctors, shouldn't MFA's be masters?
  124. Go back to blowing past and destroying limits imposed on me instead of being held down by them.
  125. Take the time to take advantage of the random opportunities life throws at me
  126. Look back at 2010 and be completely and utterly amazed at the goodness and awesomeness of it all.
So that's it for now. There are 126 goals or whatever else you want to call them for 2010. It's a long list, but there are a lot of days in a year and in the end there is little worse (and more depressing) than a dull and boring life.

Thanks for reading, all, and hope you're having a good one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Great Will Smith Interview

This isn't going to be my main post for today, but I ran across this interview with Will Smith, and I think a lot of what he's talking about with the Universe, not being realistic, and force of will with hard work are things that really fall in line with a lot of the things I believe and/or find interesting in life. It's a good motivational video by any stretch.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Short Term Goal Update & Food For Thought

What a Couple of Weeks

I have to admit, this blog is starting to get a wee bit frustrating so far as I have several topics I'd really like to dig into in depth such as:
  • Nature vs Nurture, and if enough negative reinforcement early in life can become strong enough in habit to become like nature
  • What I've come to realize in how my time in, and away, from Alaska have worked as an allegory or metaphor for what I've realized is one of my biggest problems that's hampered me in being able to live life
  • Having a happy life or happy times versus being happy with yourself (because I know from experience what it can be like to have 2 years of fun, living life well, but still be incredibly unhappy or dissatisfied with yourself on the inside - it's not a contradiction)
  • The list of 100+ goals for the year aimed at improving my life and myself. Probably should get those up before the year is half way over :)
  • A long detailed study on habit. Really, there's a ridiculous amount of interesting things to explore there when you think about it.
In fact, I was hoping to tackle 2 of these this week, but there were some huge obstacles completely beyond my control that have really shot up the plans and goals. For one, I wasn't planning on being severely sick for a weekend between the time I set all my goals and the time the deadline arrived. It doesn't matter how quickly you recover or "shake it off," you're just not at 100% after a stomach virus that drops 9 lbs off of you in one day. It took days to shake off all the lethargy from that one.

Problem 2: Mediacom cable. 99% reliable my (anatomical posterior). I work online. All my finances are based directly from having Internet and being able to work. The Internet was down for 6.5 hours one day, and it was a day I was fired up, "feeling it," and all set to make up for a bad day and still smash it all out. Then when the Internet finally came back up that night, 6 hours later it went out for another 7 hours - during many of the hours that are often my most productive of the entire day.

It's not just hours loss, but it's also falling behind versus being ahead. I think the mind set you have between those two situations, not to mention the freedom of options that disappear when you're behind, represent far more than actual numbers. But for numbers sake, at a minimum those two outages cost me $150, and probably closer to twice that.

So I set a lot of goals for March 9th as a short term exercise, and in all honesty I failed to meet most of them. But I don't feel bad about that because several of them I did make, and I'm at least working on the others. So the quick recap and run down:
  • "Floating Debts," are all paid off other than Mike, which is good since there was another $150 that cropped up that I had forgotten about. Mike also has a check on the way, so progress is moving well there.
  • Lowest balance credit card. It's not paid off, but see the Internet being down. Right now I have to make sure I have enough to cover the gauntlet of bills that come up in the middle of every month. But, there is plenty of income I've earned on its way, but I have to wait for PayPal and my bank to process it. Then the credit card will be paid off. So I call this tardy, but a victory.
  • Gym: Nope. Done some body weight exercises at home, and still dedicated to losing weight, but haven't been able to make it back consistently. See "sickness" and there were other factors beyond my control.
  • Start 20 conversations with strangers. In retrospect this was a little too ambitious, and the downed Internet time resulted in me working at times I was planning to go socialize. I did make it to 6, though, and met our new neighbors down the hall.
  • Still working on the 2 chapters for my sister.
  • I have wrote all 4 letters, now need to send them off tomorrow, so that's close enough, right?
  • I crunched the numbers, and even with the Internet down, I did write more articles in those 2 weeks than the 6 before them. Made it by one.
  • Picking up the plastic bins tomorrow.
  • Daily personal time is a resounding success. It's been very nice.
  • Haven't finished 2 new books, but I've started one new one and am over half way through.
So like I said, not a staggering success, but I'm feeling pretty good about the flow of things. There's no question I feel more like myself than I have in years, and hanging out with my buddy Dan today for several hours was a blast. That's the kind of time hanging out with a friend that's good for a soul.

I've already noticed several friends from earlier parts of my life have tracked me down and whether through e-mail or Facebook or whatever have become part of my life again, and for that I thank God and them. I appreciate every one of you, and it's good to have ya'll around again - even in cyber form (or "imaginary" as Mike likes to call it).

In other news, may have made our first sale for "Truth Exposed Publishing" - the company my brother and I started, even before the first product is finished and ready for launch. You have to feel pretty darn good when you're getting that level of support from the people around you.

The insane writing goals for March continue. I have to say, those 2 Internet outages probably finished off any chance of hitting all (or even most) of the goals, but when faced with the choice of tossing it all in the wind or continuing head on against impossible odds anyway, I chose the latter.

Like I've said before, it feels really good to be back.

So when the end of the month is here, I'll update those results on my freelance writing blog, as well as this one. I'm really happy to find that even stating the year in complete burn out, dealing with deep emotional and personal issues, and deciding to throw all the messes in my life out into the open at once, I'm finding the energy, the strength, and the faith to really make it work. The past couple years I think I would have folded, instead, but this time it's different. I hate using cliches, but it really is one of those "I'm turning a corner," situations.

So while I have to go catch up on some more freelance work, I will be getting back to update this blog soon. Thanks to everyone reading, and I'll make my goal to get the list up by the 15th. One more thing, a teaser for next time.

I'm going to argue in a future blog post how Sinbad's comeback comedy special gives wisdom that could directly help I'm guessing well over 50% of guys with some of the hardest questions they ever had to wrestle with. That's right: Sinbad can help solve the question of "how to be a man." So that's the teaser.

Hope everyone is doing well. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rubber Legs & Solid Progress

Quick Update

This is going to be a fast update once again because it's been a little bit crazy recently, and I'm actually pretty tired even though it's only 1:47 a.m. For those of you who know me, you know how tied that means I am right now.

Well the goals from the previous post are a bit delayed, and I'm giving myself an extra week for most of them for what seems like a really good reason to me: shortly after the last blog post, only a week after recovering from severe dental surgery that saw the removal of multiple wisdom teeth and impacted molars, everybody in our apartment caught a severe strain of stomach flu. So a lot of strained muscles in the back and side later, some (lots) of kidney pain later, and after all the unpleasant details that I'll skip the long and short of it can be summed up in this: I lost 9 lbs in one day.

Not very nice, and since solids were off the menu, again, it's taken me until today to recover, and I'm still running on only about 60% normal energy. Worked out in the gym today for the first time in 3 weeks, and felt the rust. Rubber legs and a lot of soreness, but I did manage 15 miles doing hills on the exercise bike and I did it in 40 minutes, which felt like breaking through to some crazy new level so I was really happy with being able to push myself like that considering how sore, stiff, and rubbery-legged I felt even before getting started.

Also had one of my best buddies from Alaska call me, and he was kind enough to let me vent some minor frustrations that have been building up, and that's just healthy. Talked to his wife, who is also a very good friend of mine and I forgot how much her voice always sounds cheerful and uplifting. Wish there was a lot more of that in the world.

Recently on my writing blog I wrote a post I wanted to link to because in a lot of ways it reflects my shifting back in thought, my refusal to let the slide go on any longer, and a willingness to work and take risks again. This post was on my ridiculously ambitious writing goals for the next month. I even failed to mention that the supporting articles I would need to write would number around 300 for the month on top of everything mentioned.

On the plus side: so far so good. I know it's only three days into the month, but so far I'm even doing slightly better than my writing goals. And in addition to that, a strange thing has happened that has already made my month. Usually when I am buried in freelance work, my creative work suffers or disappears or becomes a chore. The part of my brain that functions highly for freelancing has always been the complete opposite of the one that is firing when I'm getting ideas left and right for my fiction, poetry, and screen writing.

Except this time, for the first time, my creative writing mind is firing on all cylinders again at the same time I'm absolutely killing the freelance writing. In the last couple days I thought of a new idea for a great story, wrote the outline, wrote some killer lines, and am already two full pages (single spaced) into it. Even while writing this post I stopped and put down a couple paragraphs of a pretty sweet soliloquy for another future story. Oh yeah, I already wrote something like 20 articles today and did some editing work, too.

Started reading a Clive Cussler novel. I'm a big fan of Cussler, and I find it easy to get into his stories because I've always been a huge history buff and a huge David Morrell fan, and Clive seems to hit the 50/50 balance that fuses the two.

Along with everything else going on, I have a split in my heel. I think from my skin getting way way too dry, and it's painful, so hopefully over time that heals and I can earn the money this month to get the rest of my teeth fixed. Those are the most important medical issues now. Already having the wisdom teeth out and recovering has made a huge difference.

So the more detailed posts are still going to be later this week, and I think I have some dandies lined up, but for now, I think it's bed time :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Minor Set Back

Guess I Was Due for the Flu

Well my guess is pretty strong that I won't be making most of the short term goals I set for myself in my last blog post on fixing my life, in large part because I wasn't planning on getting a severe stomach flu, straining all the muscles in my back, and having to go back to an all liquid diet while struggling to sleep 12 hours a day. But these things happen. I only tend to get sick once every couple of years or less, so in that respect I am lucky and this flu bug did only last 24 hours, although the pulled back muscles and some other side effects I still need to deal with.

So that set me back about three days. On the plus side, if there is a silver lining, I dropped 9 lbs, and I'm still 5 down after re-hydrating, so hey, that's something I guess. Didn't really have much in the way of life improvement beyond that, as the illness was brief, but it hammered me. Couldn't read, work, do much of anything at all.

So the next few days will be healing, getting some work done, and hoping the back muscles heal enough so i can get back into the gym. On the plus side, I did finish two books this past week, which definitely falls in line with my goal of wanting to read more again. The first was The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley, which is absolutely fantastic. In fact, there will be more on this in later posts, maybe even a book review of sorts, but since I have so much to catch up on, that will have to wait (as will more blog posts on here) until I'm a little bit more caught up. The basic gist of the book is about studying disasters, panic, and human response to both. It is an extremely interesting work of non-fiction, and very easy to read while dealing with both the science, as well as applying that to real life disasters.

The other is The Modern History of Cannibalism. I don't think that really needs any more description.

Anyhow, healing and on the mend. My personal freelancing and online work is starting to pick up and show some really positive signs, as is the business my brother and I have started. So hopefully our health holds up and we can keep hammering along. Next post will probably be more substantive, but sometimes the most you can do is just heal and keep on going.

Hope everyone else finds themselves in good health. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do Not Be Afraid

Apparently This Is a Centuries Old Problem

This is one of those posts where I'm going to give two fair warnings, although I don't really think neither is probably necessary. A big chunk of this post is somewhat spiritual in nature, so if that's not your cup of tea you might want to skip to another one. Otherwise, here goes. I found out something really interesting today (well technically yesterday since it's 2:34 a.m. - taking a break from work and listening to "Masters of Chant"). The most common command in the Bible has absolutely nothing to do with rules, laws, money, sexual orientation, or even moral teaching as most religions would frame it. The single most common command in Christian scriptures (and it's not even close) is this:

Do not be afraid.

I find that one fact incredibly fascinating, especially since it's been 10 years since my conversion and I'm 99% sure that not once have I heard this fact or heard this in a sermon. I'm allowing the 1% because 10 years is a bloody long time, especially the way I manage to pack things in there. Plus a couple serious head injuries, and you're never quite completely sure again, but I digress...

The immediate reaction of some people I tried to discuss this with was to instantly tie it to faith, and I've often heard the maxim "faith is the opposite of fear," and maybe in a few of the Scriptures this is the context, but I know in many of them that's not the context. Many times these words appear in Biblical stories where God shows up and the person/shepherd/prophet soils themselves from being scared crapless. Then comes the command to not be afraid, and this command is often the very first thing said, even before identification.

This is really interesting to me. How often this command is stated depends on your interpretation. If you're going by exact phrase, about 46 times, but the similar "do not fear" pops up at least another 67 times. Both these numbers are estimates due to differing translations, but if you include other times where not being afraid or being told not to fear is mentioned, the number pops up to around 360 total, and that's based on the Protestant Bible. The Catholic Bible may have more, but I'm not versed enough to know for sure.

Do not fear.

It's a clear cut order, and one that often stands alone in context so it means that and only that. Don't be afraid, don't fear. It really bothers me how often that is brushed over and extrapolated from, because the deep meaning of that, the reflection on the human condition since the beginning of time, is profound and amazing and no one seems to talk about it.

Apparently I'm not the only one who has struggled with falling back to habits of fear and anxiety, it's a century old problem for mankind in general. I wonder how many people desperately needing something when the wander in on a Sunday morning would begin to find their answer in those simple 3 or 4 words.

Regardless of what you do or don't believe, I think the fact that those words are commanded by far and away more than any other in the Bible opens up an intensely interesting discussion on fear, on anxiety, on what that reflection on the human condition and human nature means.

So I've spent a lot of time mulling over that today. In a way it's a far cry from one of my favorite philosophers, Seneca (of the Romans), but in another way the two can definitely be related. There's no way I can properly explain succinctly how cool I find Seneca's philosophy. It's a form of Stoicism, and although I could see a thousand angry comments from this, since I don't have 20 pages to explain it, I'll use the analogy that Vulcans from "Star Trek" would actually very much be a Stoic-esque society.

But many of the quotes of Seneca that speak to me are about understanding that the fear of misfortune undoubtedly will always be worse than the misfortune itself. Basically, a person willing to use logic, look forward, and continue the pursuit of self improvement would never suffer as badly from misfortune as their fear would suggest.

I really dig this, and agree with it. This is one of those things where understanding it in your mind and translating that to your instincts and habits can be two different things, but really, this truth is part of the reason that fear and doubt can be so insidious.

I've been homeless more than once. Now I was fortunate from the standpoint that there were safety nets in place for me of a sort all but one time, and that one time I still had a p.o.s. laptop so I knew I could eventually work my way back as long as no one stole it. But the point is, how many people worrying about money now are in actual danger of being homeless? As in $0, nowhere to sleep, no way to get to people who would help you out, no direction, owning what you have on you and that's it?

Bouncing back is never easy, but it is possible, and you know what? It really isn't that hard to scrape together $5 to eat at Taco Bell if you have to. When you have to find a warm place to sleep, you'll be amazed at what you find when your mind is completely focused on that one task. There's so much fear, but once I was there at the worst of my fears, I still ate, I still found places to sleep, and with a little work and a little luck (and the two of those almost always go hand in hand) things picked back up.

And reflecting on it, things were NEVER as bad as I feared they would be, even when they were at their worst. Funny thing: the prospect of being homeless doesn't scare me one bit. I've been there, done that, and gotten through. If somehow it happens again (and I don't think it ever will now, but once again, life is strange so who knows), what of it? The reality for me wasn't as bad as the fear.

Now part of the trick to fixing my life is reinforcing that in other areas of my life. Don't be afraid. Be not afraid. Well, it's easier said than done, but it's something I need to challenge head on. That's it for this post, although I'll end with a few of my favorite quotes attributed to Seneca, and one from Michael Jordan. It should be pretty obvious who said what.

"Sometimes even to live is a great act of courage."
"He who is brave is free."
"The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity."
"Courage leads to heaven, fear to death."
"True happiness enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future."

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." MJ

Monday, February 22, 2010

Self Improvement: Little Victories Matter

Changing Life Daily

My first blog post on taking responsibility and fixing my life went over pretty well. Did receive a couple of concerned phone calls, which is very touching, but these problems were years in the making - not a sudden outburst. If anything, overall I'm actually feeling really good about 2010 to this point and about the strides I'm beginning to make in getting to where I want to be. Monday was a very good day, and while the blog post I'm going to write sharing my large list of approximately 120 goals for 2010 will have to wait for a few days based on schedule, time constraints, etc. I did want to share a little bit about today and a small amount about what has happened already, what the short term goals are, etc.

Well Friday was pretty good, too. I told my brother that one of the most frustrating aspects of being where I am now in life is falling back to the old fears and anxieties that come up every time I think about talking to someone I don't know, approaching random people to chat, and especially so with females. This goes back to issues from my youth, in which I was painfully shy up until, well about half way through age 19. This fear and anxiety frustrates me the most, because it's not like I don't know that all the senseless fears about socializing are just that - I've been a very outgoing extrovert and also know how well people respond to a genuine extrovert. So how am I back to this point?

Well Friday I had to walk through a lot of piled up snow to get to Barnes and Noble and buy some books on how to use Microsoft Power Point 2007 for a freelance writing contract I have now. Once in the store, I decided to take an hour off from life and just enjoy myself. It was warm, I had gotten one heck of a workout just to get to the store, and there were some books I wanted to skim, including the revised version of Timothy Ferriss's The 4 Hour Work Week, which I'm a huge fan of. So I found a copy, read through a lot of the new material, and decided to force myself to work through the fear of talking to random strangers by refusing to leave until I struck up a conversation with three people.

After putting the book back, the first person I ran into was a very pretty young lady about my age whose name turns out is Christy, and she was looking at one of my favorite books. Perfect. I didn't even need to come up with an ice breaker beyond "hello," and Christy was actually really nice, we ended up chatting for about 20 minutes. This should be something simple to do, and at one time in my life it was, but now for where I am and for overcoming old fears, it was a really perfect set up. Admittedly, I didn't talk to two other people, but I figured 20 minutes was plenty, and that was a great way to end on a high note. Another small step to returning to the person I want to be.

Once in a while, taking a step to change your life actually turns out to be nice and easy. Today I worked. A lot. Friday was the first day I felt normal since the massive dental surgery, and my production has been fantastic since then. With the 3 month fever gone from the infected wisdom teeth, I also feel a lot less miserable and a lot more like myself. But to Monday. Gabe got great news that he was accepted into college. It's not either of his top 2 choices, but now he knows no matter how the rest pans out, he'll be able to continue on to achieving his life long dream of going to and graduating from college. He has his safety net. I took 4 hours off work in the afternoon to hang with my brother and one of my best friends, and that night we celebrated by going to IHOP (one of Gabe's favorite places).

And personally, it was a great night for me and an example of how self improvement comes with a lot of little victories that even the people around you might not begin to realize are happening. Going with the self confidence, the socializing comfortably, and the getting over the instinctual fear of talking to the opposite sex (and once again I can not stress how much this old anxiety really ticks me off and even embarrasses me). Eating out with my friends felt like it used to. I had no physical anxiety at all, cracked jokes half way across the room with the waiter, and kept throwing out jokes and jests until the pretty waitress was cracking up. Eye contact, smiling, laughing, and I felt relaxed. I finally felt relaxed!

Some of the old fears and anxieties had gotten so bad over the past year I actually had some panic attacks in crowded public places, which even at my most nervous/least self confident had NEVER happened before until the past year. So being relaxed and happy and joking wasn't a small victory for me by any stretch, even if I'm re-claiming ground within myself I had owned years ago.

Changing my life to get to where I want to be means making daily life changes. One thing that encourages me is that humans are (science even says) habitual creatures. This is why things seem to come "naturally" for some people while for whatever reason it's next to impossible for someone else. If I work daily on a conscious level to overcome fear, doubt, frustration, and anxiety then eventually the positive opposite of those like confidence, self esteem, faith, and happiness will become habits, and then become subconscious habits. In the same way a long spiral can turn your mind and body against you, the same concept can be used to your advantage to turn things around.

I know from experience how much my entire attitude or emotional make up can change simply by making a daily conscious decision to look at the silver lining, regardless of circumstance. Self improvement is like personal growth: it has to be a conscious choice, especially once you've fallen off the path for quite some time.

There have been some good things going on in other areas, too. I have landed some major freelance writing contracts, and am in great shape for the next 2 or possibly even 3 months. In fact, there's a chance that from March to May I'll make nearly 70% of what I did all of 2009 combined. I've also paid of some of my short term "floating debts." I use this term to refer to non monthly debts that I had for short term reasons. I reimbursed my brother for groceries for when I was really suffering with the wisdom teeth recovery, as well as for the medications. I re-paid Gabe who loaned me an emergency $60 at the beginning of the month when a student loan company screwed with my checking account right before rent was due. Half of my wisdom tooth surgery is paid for, with the other half on monthly payment plans, and the gym membership is covered for another month. Not bad.

Oh yeah, Truth Exposed Publishing, LLC is about 2 months ahead of schedule, and Jon and I are watching the passive income increase something like 200-300% a week. The pure numbers still aren't much, but based on how AdSense, search engine rankings and indexing, and other online stuff generally works, we're way ahead of schedule and it's really a great sign for later this year when enough time has passed to see the full effect of our early work this year.

My own passive income is growing about 20% this month above normal, which definitely adds to the confidence in my ability, but even better is I had one of those "A-HA!" moments that really changes the game. Enough so that by my 30th Birthday this year I'm hoping to be at the point where I don't have to freelance write at all any more if I don't want to because my passive income will be enough to pay all the bills and then some. In January that was a dream. Now it looks like a very achievable goal.

Speaking of which, some very short term goals for the next 2 weeks for me, so things I want to do or want done by March 9th:

  • Pay off all "floating debts." Right now, that would be a $75 donation promised to Coe, about $150 I owe lawyers for drawing up the LLC papers, and the hardest of all, $600 I still owe Mike from when he basically made sure I got to Austin to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, something I still greatly indebted to him for.
  • Pay off my lowest balance credit card. That one would be at $350 right now.
  • After spending this week getting back up to speed in the gym, I want to bike a marathon distance a day, so 26.2 miles a day on the exercise bike, 5-6 days a week (it varies how often we make it to the gym). And yes, I did get this idea from The Biggest Loser. While workouts have gone extremely well, I need some big time goals to really push me, and that one certainly counts. Especially since I bike the steep hills program on the exercise bikes.
  • Start 20 conversations with strangers I meet while out and about...which will force me to also go get out and about.
  • Write 2 chapters of a book for my sister.
  • Send 4 letters (old fashioned, snail mail) to various friends and family, especially thanking them for the good they've done for me in my life.
  • Write more freelance articles in these next 2 weeks than I did in the first 6 weeks of the year combined. This might actually be necessary to make the financial goals mentioned earlier.
  • Get some plastic bins to act as dressers. I'm really tired of living out of suitcases.
  • Take some personal time for myself daily.
  • Read 2 books I haven't read yet, or started reading yet.
There are others, as many of my goals are long term but require daily or weekly work, but this is a pretty ambitious list as it is. I had no illusions. Even though I've been to the "promised land" before, I know that fixing my life, much less changing my life, is not going to be an overnight thing, and it's not going to be easy.

But I feel good. Recently I've been joking a lot more, smiling and laughing like I used to. The confidence is beginning to ebb back, and I'm finding it easier and easier to concentrate on the silver lining again. Some of the fire is back, and the fight in me is definitely back. Not sure that part ever left, but it might have been getting stomped down on the ground for a couple years. At least it's standing again.

Sometimes self improvement is great, and sometimes the process sucks, but my goals are clearly set, and I'm not afraid of a lot of 18 hour days to get there. Thanks for the kind words and the support everyone, and I hope ya'll are having a good night and peaceful dreams.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why Do I Need to Fix My Life?

Changing My Life Begins w/ Fixing My Life

So I have to be honest right off the bat, while it's completely true that I feel like I have to fix my life, and that it won't wait any more, I'm a little bit anxious about sharing this since I never really imagined having a blog online that actually reflected something on my personal life. That said, there are some things I'm not going to be completely open about because there are plenty things in my life that need to have privacy, both for me and those I care about.

But starting in 2010 I find myself in a weird place. Not to sound like some self inflated self help guru who is always pumping pep and sunshine (those people and their fake plaster smiles drive me nuts - if you're THAT happy about a Perkins muffin, how much joy is left when something actually relevant good happens?), but I am definitely at a place where I've reverted back to too many bad habits and old habits, and I'm not happy with this backslide because it's keeping me from being the person I want to be, can be, and who I've even been.

That's right. I said fix my life because I am not one of those people who desperately needs a change because I've never done anything. Quite the contrary, despite having the same anger, self-doubt, and mal-adjustment issues a lot of people have coming out of high school or a small town, I absolutely BLOOMED in college.

I'm not going to go into the full story here, I'll go into an abbreviated version of the back story later, but basically from high school I was ostracized and unpopular for a good portion of the time, and didn't develop a lot of the social skills that came naturally to people who weren't in the same boat as myself. That awkwardness definitely made the beginning of college bumpy, but I came into my own and transformed my life to become one of those rare people who really was "THE MAN."

Not that there's ever just one, and granted the giant beard that made me easily identifiable all across the Coe College campus helped, but I was extremely popular, went from completely introverted to extroverted, depressed personality to out going and happy. I enjoyed every single moment of life, even through huge strings of tragedies and turmoil, loved my friends and fellow classmates dearly and saw a lot of that returned. I had an incredible amount of self confidence in who I was, what I was becoming, and the faith to tackle anything regardless of the obstacles.

And despite amazing adventures, great friends, and more stories in the last 10 years than 99% of people will have in their entire lives, somehow I lost it. The mojo, my confidence, I was beaten back into old habits and fell into an old shell I thought was done for good. It's easy to fall into old habits you don't like. Very easy. It was amazing I held out for as many years as I did, but here I am reflecting on my life in 2010, 10 months away from turning 30 (and how the ((explicative)) it got here this quickly from "college age" is beyond me), one year after the worst year of my life (and 2005 was utterly devastating enough it almost destroyed me - and it didn't even compare to 2009), and so I sat down to look at my life.

There are several clear cut reasons for this reflection now, some bad, and some actually very good. The main ones are:
  • 2009 was so terrible, I threw in the towel in October, so I already had 3 months to look ahead.
  • In 2009 a friend died on my birthday, the 3rd time in 5 years that has happened. That will screw with you pretty badly.
  • A change in environment with a nice apartment, good roommates, and a SAFE area have helped me to stabilize my life and stop the sinking feeling.
  • The freelance work has been FANTASTIC the past 3 months after two terrible years, which also included me losing my dream job in Austin, Texas. My brother and I's business has me excited and passionate for the first time in quite a while.
  • The past 2 years are the first time I haven't been happy, content, or driven (at least one of the 3) on a day to day basis in 10 years. It's also the first time I've had to deal with severe depression again for the the first time in a decade. That scares me, saddens me, and it pisses me off that I'm not getting pissed off enough about it.
  • There have been some really cool/amazing/odd/opportune projects and potential projects both work-related, creative work related, and otherwise that have begun to come my way, seeming to line up very much with each small stride I make in "returning" to being me.
  • There are a LOT of people right now abusing power, wealth, position, and situation to unfairly and unjustly hurt friends and family of mine, and that's brought up a lot of conflict within me of my old self vs. my new self, old codes of honor and faith vs. new ones, and has forced me to examine every part of who exactly I really am right now. There were a lot of things I didn't like at all when I looked honestly, with the scales fallen away from the eyes, so to speak.
So the reflection brought a lot of things clear to me:
  1. I need to fix my life, and I need to do it RIGHT NOW, and I want to fix my life forever - hence the name of the blog.
  2. I'm not the person I want to be, can be, or need to be. I'm a firm believer that everyone has a degree of purpose - maybe not necessarily a specific calling, destiny, or fate, but that if you're really in tune with who you are and who you should be, you're happier when you're on that "path" because you're in line with being who and what you're meant to be. Time for me to get back on that line.
  3. I was a person who could change lives just by being me. I am just as capable of being that person, or even greater, and it's time for me to dig with all the past scars, traumas, and bad habits until I am that person again.
  4. I'm the only one who can drastically change my life, and here comes the rub: I have the power to do it by sheer will alone, if I simply have even half of the old confidence or belief in my abilities that I used to have. So how do I change my life by sheer will power when I don't have it? Well there's the rub again.
  5. I'm not content with being content. I know what my realized potential can be, I've tasted it. Here comes the scary but brutally honest statement: I'd rather die than go back to being stuck in the old shell, bound by the old chains, plopped down in a mediocre life that I depressingly accept as "good enough."
That's not a suicide threat, it's not a cry for help. In some ways it was an INCREDIBLY encouraging revelation for me, because it showed a spark of the old fighting spirit that everyone knew me for. Life could crush me over and over, months could go on where I was a living example of Job (old Testament guy with a real bad stretch - not the synonym for work) but I was always fighting, always moving forward, and always growing.

That fire is an inherent part of me, and I want it back. All of it.

So now we're getting down to the nitty-gritty. Fixing my life, changing my life. I don't intend to get back to being the person I was, I intend to become better and work tirelessly on becoming the full embodiment of the person I know I'm capable of being when that potential is being realized and I'm following MY path.

So I don't want this post to go on too much longer since it is the introduction, but just a little bit more and I'm sure there's tons of stuff about fixing my life in this post that will eventually be full blown posts in and of themselves. So I'll end with several points, observations, caveats, rules, whatever. You'll get the gist of it while reading.

  • A lot of these posts are going to be about money and business. I'm passionate about the business Jon and I are starting, I'm passionate about freelancing, and since these (and paying off debt to free myself) are huge parts of my life, there will be a LOT of posting about these topics.
  • I recognize everything is connected. Dropping 50 pounds so the downstairs neighbors think I'm cuter isn't just a vanity thing - it's health, it's self confidence, it's a self image thing, it's emotional, it's the type of thing that can cause an avalanche of positive side effects. The same could go for paying off credit cards. Less stress, confidence from a goal achieved, money freed up can allow me to travel, help others, pay for a gym membership, take an arts class, etc. It's all connected. Little things matter a whole lot.
  • Spiritual is important to me. If you don't believe in any of that, fine. We all have a right to our own point of view, but if you don't like reading about how the spiritual impacts my life, just skip those sections. That said, I'm not going to over-spiritualize things, either. I'll talk about what's going on as I'm viewing things at the time I'm blogging and fixing up my life, and that's how it stands either way. I'm okay with positive or critical comments in the comments section as long as it's not a flame out.
  • Goals are important. Does 99.9% of the world think that building a functioning recliner out of nothing but cardboard and duct tape has nothing to do with self improvement? Probably - but this is something I've wanted to do since 2002. I can't tell you why it would be important to me, but it is and I'm not going to feel guilty or odd about it. If something on my upcoming list of 150 goals for 2010 sounds bizarre - feel free to ask about it in the comments. Could lead to some really lively conversations, but step one is admitting the problem and being honest so there will be some weird stuff on there.
  • I have no idea where this blog is going. Yes, it's about fixing my life, and if even one reader fixes their life because of it, or just improves their life, or if one person even thinks about self improvement, great. But this blog is kind of an odd experiment, so no promises about where it is or isn't going. I just don't know.
  • Personal can get uncomfortable. Just a fair warning.
  • Some situational information I just can't share. I'm going to be as open and honest as possible, and maybe putting myself out there with something like this that I'm kind of uncomfortable with is that first step to re-gaining the lost confidence and swagger
One last point that is important enough for me to hold by itself. This blog, and the entire idea behind it, is from me deciding, simply deciding, back in December of 2009 that 2010 was going to be MY year, no matter how certain events turn out for better or worse. I'm coming back, I'm going to own it, going to dominate it, and it's all going to happen because I decided it would.

Call it metaphysical, call it fringe quantum physics (if this sounds confusing, take a look at the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know" the title will be all in mathematical symbols and this movie is stunning even if I don't completely agree with some of the more controversial claims or interpretations - it's still worth seeing), call it destiny. Call it overly optimistic raving lunacy.

All of those descriptions have a point, but I honestly believe that reaching a breaking point where I simply decided to change my life forever is enough to do just that. So call it what you will, but I'm already beginning to see it this year, and future blog posts will show what has already happened, where I started from, and where I'm going bit by bit.

So thanks for reading guys. I put myself out there, went against every single old instinct screaming at me to NOT share this on Facebook so others could see, and so now I'm out there and vulnerable. But it feels good. It feels like the first step to being back.