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?"