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 :)