Getting up to speed (again), mastering new skills

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This has been a long time coming.  I get good at doing something and then I loose focus. Creating habits is difficult. I’ve been through university a couple different times (multiple degrees) and still taking time to learn a new skill or master a skill I already have it a challenge.

I spent years learning how to play an instrument. I started in middle school. Participated all the way through high school and then even chose to major in music when I went to college. Twenty years later I still play from time to time. So why do I find something like writing to be such a challenge to sit down and do say once a week?

I’ve seen this video before and it comes to mind now when I think about mastering a skill.  We as humans like to master skills. We like to think we know a lot about a certain topic or be able to do something others aren’t able to do. After so many years of playing tuba I think it’s easy.  I think more people should learn to play an instrument.  The thing is though other people find it challenging or frustrating because they can’t just pick up the instrument and play it.

I’ve wanted to do two things more in my life. Write this blog and read. I have been able to do some in terms of writing in this blog. I bought some books that I thought would be a good starting point for me learn to enjoy reading.  I’ve cracked the books but I probably haven’t read 20 pages at this point.

I wanted to do these two things to help clear my mind of some negative thoughts and focus on more positivity. With everything going on in the world it’s easy to find yourself focusing on things that bring you down emotionally.  Money, politics, school shootings or the homelessness issues we see here in San Francisco.

OK just since I started this post have I gotten distracted and sidetracked I don’t know how many times… That’s something I’m sure we all face.  Being able to say NO to a distraction and then add it to a list of things that need to be done is HUGE. In an age of 30 second to 3 minute videos I think our attention span has gotten pretty short. You’ll hear many people say that.

For now I’m going to wrap up this post and I’m going to finish a couple chores which I got distracted with earlier. I mean we all need to do laundry, dishes and cooking. The challenge is to focus to that specific task and then to get it completely done. Then move on to the next thing. Sometimes you can multitask say when you’re doing laundry.  Laundry doesn’t take 100% focus.  It’s really a timed task.  For example, 25 minutes to wash clothes and 40 minutes to dry them.

Last but not least a company that I found recently which I think is worth mentioning is Imperfect produce. This somewhat new company delivers produce that is surplus or doesn’t meet grocery store standards to your home. Right now I think they’re focus is metropolitan cities in California.  Check it out though because you could find something similar in your area. In your area it could be referred to as a co op.

Thanks for time!

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Monday update for the new week

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So today is Monday and I like most Americans was back to work.  I got up early to clean up some dishes and straighten up the apartment a little.  Doing this helps me feel motivated and productive.  I was able to break out some task and set my pace for the day. I think it’s really important to make small wins especially in the morning.

It always helps me when I’m feeling a little sluggish to get up and be active. Of course when I say active I mean just get up and get a couple things accomplished.  It doesn’t help that accomplishment can be found in laundry and baking. You know, when you do something for 5 minutes and then sit waiting for 30 to 45 minutes for something to finish.

That makes going to the gym a challenge.  Growing up on a farm you learn that running is to get away from a charging animal. It’s puzzling to sometimes to see people push themselves so hard at the gym or to see people running Marathons. A marathon is 26.3 miles. I mean really? Running 26.3 miles is about the equivalent of the drive we had to make to get to town when I was growing up as a kid.

Another good thing that came out of this morning is organizing.  I had a pile of mail on the table that I hadn’t completely gone through. So I went through the pile and threw away half of it. All the mail seems to be to just pile up.  I mean why is there so MUCH junk mail? People must respond to it and so the companies find value in it. I wish they would stop.  You think there’s a service to a list to get on to get that to stop?

Hey ask the all might internet and ye shall receive.  So there’s a site dedicated to reducing junk mail. I took a quick look and credit card offers is one of the things they call out. I know I get plenty of that kind of stuff.  Again there must be a big payoff in order to justify send out all those offers.

Check it out:  https://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail

So part of my new years goals was to eat healthier.  So for dinner I had some frozen burritos, fresh salsa and black beans. I made sure to eat more of the black beans so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat more of the burritos. That kind of the direction I’ve gone. If I’m going to overeat something it’s going to be a vegetable. I need to drink more water too. I don’t really thirst so it makes it difficult.  I can sit all evening and not drink one drop of liquid.  Not ONE DROP I tell you.

I also went to the gym.  That’s important! I think in terms of weight lifting we did biceps and triceps today.  I’m bad about that.  I don’t really pay attention. Then we did 30 minutes of cardio. I’m not setting the world on fire but I made it to the gym and did exercise.

So that’s post is all over the place but I wrote over 500 words!  Again it’s all about habits and repeating those actions over and over again. Creating a new habit can be hard. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. So take the small win.

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While driving home today, holy cow!

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I leave work at 5 PM normally.  So it’s the height of rush hour here.  The freeway is packed with cars and it’s kind of a stop and go situation.  Tonight driving home I drove up to find a bull/steer standing along the freeway.  I had a good laugh over that for sure.  As I thought about it I started thinking someone probably should call it in to the highway patrol. Then of course I thought why don’t I do that. I called 911 and the officer who answered started taking my report and when we got to ‘what’s the object in the road?’ … I respond ‘a cow’. Of course we already know I thought it was pretty funny. The police officer on the phone sounded surprised but also she heard someone else in the office talking about the cow.  We wrapped up the call pretty quickly but I’m sure tons of people were freaking out. Maybe people thought the cow was going to run out in the freeway.

So since we’re on the topic of livestock.  I read these articles regarding a program going on in prisons where the inmates help train while horses.  I was pretty impressed by that as they can be dangerous and they aren’t doing traditional breaking.  These guys are “gentling” the horses.  Which has a lot to do with earning the trust of the horse. So these guys are on the farm taking care of the horses 24 X 7.  As you can imagine many of these guys don’t have a long temper and those working with these horses can be a real challenge because it doesn’t instantly happen.

Programs like these are located in California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Wyoming. These horses are managed or fall under the purview of the Bureau of Land Management.  The Bureau deals with the mustang population as well as wild burros in the western states. It’s been estimated in the New York Times article that after the 2017 season there may be as many as 86,000 mustangs or burros.  In the New York Times article is mentions that the ranch in Carson City Nevada has UP TO 2,000 horses corralled at any one time.

I thought the other thing I read which was interesting is that the program auctions off the horses they train.  So this would help subsidize the cost of feeding and training the horses.  When they have these auctions sometimes the inmates put on an impromptu rodeo and ride the horses in front of the crowd to show off the results of their training.  The record for one of these horses is $15,000.

It made me feel good that something good came out of this program.  Rehabilitation of inmates is something people don’t believe in many times.  Here’s an exactly of a program that’s working. It would be interesting to see if any of these men end up back in the system after going through this program.

For more information you can check out these two articles.

Prison inmates taming wild horses are learning how to handle themselves By Harry Smith – 

https://www.today.com/pets/prison-inmates-taming-wild-horses-are-learning-how-handle-themselves-t120889

Wild Horses and the Inmates Who ‘Gentle’ Them  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/fashion/mens-style/prison-horses-rehabilitation-gentling.html

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Starting a new year

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Hi everyone, just opening up the browser to start a new behavior in the new year.  That’s the hardest thing, right?  To start a new behavior is very challenging.  So we’ll see how this goes.

There are always things we want to do each new year.  Sometimes we can meet those challenges and actually change our daily behaviors.  Even something as simple as writing can be a real challenge because we’re connected to the internet and it is SO easy to get distracted.  It’s happened twice already in just writing this short amount.

So let’s see, some things I’ve been thinking about that I’m going to put in writing.

  1. Learn to be more positive (I’m a pretty happy go lucky guy…)
  2. Read more (got to find a topic/author I get into)
  3. Write more (just write, don’t get hung up on what, right?)
  4. Learn to focus more and get distracted less (WOW?!?)
  5. Be more organized (unclutter my life and learn that boxes and list aren’t a bad thing)

So let’s address why I think I should focus on these 5 things.

  1. Learn to be more positive

I’m a pretty go lucky guy but with everything that’s going on in the news, but it can be really difficult to keep a positive outlook.  We have a president who doesn’t support my views and he’s regularly attacking people on Twitter.  There’s been 4 or 5 major natural disasters in the past 6 months. (is that right?) Not to mention other news from different countries on Earth.

2)  Read more

Wow, I think this is just something that’s been slipping away from most people for decades. It seems like it’s not being encouraged in a manner that’s really encouraging. From other events going on in our country, it seems as though people don’t read and expand their view of the world. I guess I don’t want to say this but ‘the dumbing down of America’. is how it appears.

3)  Write more

This is something I view as an exercise for the brain.  By writing, I’m challenging my brain in a be creative and analytical. It takes a couple brain cells to come up with new topics and be able to put those in writing. If I can put at least 500 words down, that will be a mild goal really.  If we recorded everything we say in a day I’m sure it’s probably 10X 500 words in writing.

4)  Learn to focus more and get distracted less

This one is going to be a challenge. Doing just this post I ended up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and did laundry. Taking the time to focus on 1 particular item is again something people are doing less and less.  When the prime advertisement is only 30 seconds or a YouTube only last 3 to 5 minutes … that’s got to say something. This will improve the brain as well.

5)  Be more organized

This is going to be a real challenge. If you’re organized that means you know what’s going on and have a realistic view of what needs to be done. WOW! Again it will help the brain and focusing on 1 particular action could change my life. I try to keep my closets clean and not many things around that its becomes clutter rather than decor. This applies to finances and so many other things as well.

So there we have it.  That’s what I wanted to get off my chest and burn a couple brains cells today.

Oh, I almost forgot…

Made in the USA … I found this company today that makes jeans in Chicago.  Check out DearbornDenim.us today to see what they have to offer. For some Americans, these jeans will be too expensive but for those of us who can afford them … think about buying some jeans. Use the link above or go to http://rwrd.io/pteqsfc to 10$ off of your jeans.

Have a great day everyone!

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Getting back on track

Kamut grain
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So I’ve let my writing lapse over this past year.  It’s been something that I know I ‘should do’ but always put off for a ‘later time’.  Needless to say that never happens as proven by the tardiness in my post.  So I am in the process of making some lunch for tomorrow and starting a loaf of bread in the bread machine and I think to myself I should start a post RIGHT NOW.  I have time while I wait for this to start and possible finish a post.

Over the past couple of months I’ve started a new job.  That’s been a little stressful as I have far more responsibility than previously.  Mind you I’m not complaining.  I enjoy the work and I like the additional responsibility.  I feel like my contributions are valued and I have a voice at the table.  That makes the new job better than any prior job.

Kamut grainSo one of the things I’ve also neglected is my diet.  I’ve been eating more carbs in all their forms.  That’s lead to be gaining some weight.  So tonight I am working on simplifying my diet and lunch for tomorrow.  I have some chicken sausages, roasted brussel sprouts and Kamut (a traditional grain of Egypt).  The Kamut takes an hour to cook so it’s a hearty grain.  From the nutritional information I see it has 7 grams of protein per every 1/4 cup.

I also have a bread machine which has a loaf of wheat bread brewing.  That of course takes 4 hours so that will finish sometime after 1 AM.  Fresh bread is so amazing in SO MANY ways.  I like baking though just because it makes me feel good.  Of course those people that I share it with enjoy my baking as well.  I have a loaf of cranberry and pumpkin bread that I’m going to take to work tomorrow.  I’m sure they will be pleased.

I also made my daily FitBit goal today. I’ve not been good about that either for 3 of 4 months.  By the time I leave work I’m just wanting to be a vegetable.  So exercise is the last thing on my mind.  I’ve not been to the gym in about a month.  I HAVE started to walk from my house a little.  Both need to happen far more.  Some may say walking isn’t any big deal but if I walk from my house DOWN the hill to the Castro and then BACK UP the hill that’s about 2 miles with an elevation change of about 700 feet.

So today I can say that I’m back on track in some of my life goals.  I will continue to work forward on these goals.  I will not give up and I will not give in.  These goals are important and are help my mental and physical health.  Both of which are critical and extremely important to a healthy life.

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  What are you thankful for this year?

I’m thankful for my friends, job, boyfriend and life in San Francisco.  I am indeed lucky and thankful for what I have in my life.

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Finding body wash made in the USA

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So I’m sure you’ve seen some of my post related to products made in the USA.  It’s something I think we need to be conscious of when we’re out there shopping.  People say they don’t have time for this.  How much time does it take to flip over a package and see Made in …

This week I bought a couple different things which I can proudly Made in the USA.  Some research was required but again it didn’t take that much time.  I do sometimes get a little obsessed about it just because of curiosity.  I’m curious to see how many different items are Made in the USA.

So this week I need body wash.  So I went to Amazon and started searching for body wash products that were Made in the USA.  Surprisingly you can find a number of body wash products that are still made in the USA.

While I was at it I had a couple other things I needed to get also.  So I know that Amazon is hurting local retail sales but it sure is convenient. You can shop for what you need and you don’t have to drive around town.  In some areas that’s kind of funny because driving around isn’t difficult.  Here in San Francisco lets just say it can be a challenge.

How did I support American workers this week?  I bought these things to start

  1. Body Wash Products
    1. Ivory – body wash
    2. Every Man Jack – body wash
    3. Wash for Men – body wash
    4. Jane Products – hand and body soap
  2. Lodge Manufacturing’s – enamel dutch oven
  3. Gonesh Sticks – incense
  4. Clos du Bois – wine

So this week I supported multiple local restaurants and several American business.  Did you support a local or American business?  The wealthy get wealthier from sending jobs overseas.  Manufacturing has been minimized here in the US.

The only way we can change that is to change our busying habits.  I know not everyone can do that because some people are just scraping to get by.  If you can though instead of buying the cheapest product, buy something you know will help create jobs and employee someone here in the US. That will help the economy in so many ways that you would truly shock you.

Turn over the package and look.  That’s all it takes.

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August status update

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It’s September now but here’s how things are at the end of August 2015. This is an exercise in staying in the present. We all look to the future and sometime focus on the future FAR TOO MUCH.

August brought a anniversary that’s important to me. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year now.  For some people that may not be a big deal but the two of us believe it’s been a year of personal growth and expansion.

I changed jobs at the end of May.  I am now a scrum master at a financial company.  That was a good move for me because it was change from being a business person to being part of the IT department.  In all honesty I’m more of an Engineering Manager which is good too.

Yesterday I downloaded the book Driven, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink on Audible.  I’ve seen his YouTube videos many times and love what they tell us about human motivation.  It’s pretty thought provoking.

End point; life is good and that’s what I need to focus on.  Focus to the future and all that I have in my daily life.  People around the world would kill to have my life.  Even people closer then I would think desire “my life”.

Have a great day everyone!  Be Happy, Be Healthy!

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Hey you, yeah you in the green Tshirt!

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Made in the usa imageSo you with the green T-shirt.  Did you ever look to see where that shirt is made?  Probably not because we normally just think of T-shirts as functional or cool.  Who cares where they come from, right?

Well I’m sure there’s a lot of people who wish some of those jobs were still here in the good ol USA.  There are some shops still in operation but I imagine they are just getting by financially.  At one time there were areas in the North and South Carolina with textile mills.

The problem became when some retailers figured out that products could be made overseas cheaper due to the wages in those countries.  Then they ‘encouraged’ manufactures to move their production overseas so they could see the products for less.  OK encouraged is really not the right term.  They twisted the arms of those companies because the retailer wanted lower prices.  If the manufacturer wanted to sell their products in stores then they were going to outsource their manufacturing.

The thing some people miss about this change is that jobs started going away.  Our unemployment started to climb due to this trend.  Factory after factory started closing down.  It seemed like there was nothing anyone could do.

If people are on unemployment then they aren’t able to take care of their families or spend money for a quality product.  It’s a vicious circle and over the past 16 years I think we can all see how things have changed in this country.  I say 16 because that’s the span of the last 3 presidents.  We ended one presidential reign (Clinton) with a surplus.  The next president (Bush) ran the country into the ground. Then our current president (Obama) has managed to build the economy back up.

Now you could blame everything on the elected officials but I don’t go for that game.  We are just as much to blame for some of the problems with our country today.  Our everyday decisions drive the economy of this country.  So if we buy the cheapest shirt, pants, table, sofa, refrigerator or car then we’re only encouraging companies to make cheaper products.  The outcome of that is that companies have to move their manufacturing overseas to keep cost down.

Do you think you think if people bought more products that are made in the US that the economy would be the same today?  I would venture to get that it would NOT be in its current state.  It would be healthy and thriving.  More people would be employed and number of people in poverty would be an infinitely smaller.

So next time you pick up a shirt or a pair of pants check out the label and see where they’re made.  Think how buying products that are made here in the USA is helping a fellow American who are trying to feed their family, afford a home or pay for healthcare.  It may take a little work but the results will be tremendous.

I’ve started doing this so I’m not just preaching.  I’ve been buying clothing that’s sewn here in the US and some of the Christmas gifts I bought this year were Made in the USA.  Granted it’s not easy to find American made products but if you can just buy one new item a week that’s going to improve the economy and help your fellow Americans.

If you’re wondering I’ll be writing more about the products that I’ve found.  Sometimes it’s surprising how easy it is to find the products. Other times it’s more of a challenge.  The other thing to keep in mind is that if you’re buying say clothing it’s very likely be more expensive.  They are going to cost more like a luxury brand and honestly that’s what they are in comparison.  They’re made by Americans who are trying to produce a quality product.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Leave your feedback in the comments.

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Day 2 of 2015

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The first day of the year is always full of hope.  Day 2 is equally full of hope but it starts to get a little real as well.  This morning I started to think what can I do to support my goals.  I want to have better focus and create something awesome.
First thing I see in my inbox this morning was Ben Huberman’s article Make 2015 a Great Blogging Year.  I read it and I feel the power and support surge through my mind.  Why wouldn’t WordPress be the perfect place to look for support and encouragement?  Everyday we need support and encouragement and ironically it’s just a website away.
Something I have heard a lot is that you need to set time aside to do this thing you love.  The thing that I take away from this is you have to bring it down to the most basic components.  Many times people say there’s a shortcoming due to a lack of time.  Setting aside time is the easiest thing to do but we often don’t slice out the small amount of time that’s need to make ourselves happy.
Nothing inspires more than learning something new.  Ben mentions a Blogging 101 course that WordPress is going to offer.  I’m going to sign up for the 4 week course.  The course description talks about some pretty crucial pieces that I know I need to work on for successful.  I’ve always joked about how I wasn’t an English major in college but in today’s world I see how I need to improve my writing skills.
Something else I was thinking this morning is developing my skill at building a gratitude List.  I’ve been working on being more positive and nothing helps like a gratitude list.  I started doing it last year but I got away from it.  This year I’m going to renew that effort and try to find 2 or 3 things each day that I’m grateful for in my life.  It all starts with I’m grateful for…
I also believe that I need to read more.  Reading helps focus and calm the mind.  I’ve done it some but again I fell out of the habit.  Reading a blog post is the easiest thing to do.  Reading a blog post can take 15 minutes and give you inspiration and support.  I don’t know about you but I have a curious nature.  This would only feed and support this natural state for me.

Random Rant
Something else I wanted to bring up and put out there into the internet is when we shop do we support American businesses.  Do you think about where a product is made?  I’ve thought more about that lately.  One of the things I’ve seen is that most Americans have this disposable attitude.  When I say disposable attitude I’m referring to buying the cheapest version of a product.  This means it wears out quickly and you end up throwing it in the trash.  It sounds pretty hippy dippy but we can see how this has changed the face of our nation.  So many companies have relocated their manufacturing overseas.  I understand that we’re living in a global market but we’re upside down when it comes to what we import vs what’s being exported.
Do you look for the Made in tag/label?  Again I’m curious by nature so I’ve been looking for the Made in information for years.  I’m sure you can list the top 5 countries that would be found.  I don’t want to take the negative attitude that it’s a conspiracy or anything so drastic.  I want to urge you to think about how buying something as crazy as your underwear could impact people here in the USA.
So funny story I thought to myself last month.  How easy would it be to find underwear made here in the USA?  WOW it was slightly more difficult than one might imagine.  I did find some companies making underwear here in the US after using Google to search the web.
The somewhat shocking thing was the cost.  A pair of underwear made here in the US cost about $25 PER PAIR.  I’m sure that would be jaw dropping to most Americans.  Unless you’re a person who buys high-end underwear because they are “made by” a particular designer that’s a lot of money for a pair of plain white briefs.  If you go to Amazon and search for Hanes underwear you’ll see a 7 pack of plain white briefs for $15.
At one time the US had all kinds of fabric mills producing fabric and clothing.  Yeah, not so much today.  Most of those buildings I imagine are sitting empty and rat infested.  As Americans we’ve become comfortable with buying the cheapest version of a product.  The thing we don’t think about is how each time we buy something made overseas there are hundreds of people doing the same thing. The effect is that these companies or plants move their manufacturing overseas and close down the plant here in the US.  The piece we follow through on is downstream this means people are out of work and on unemployment.  I’ve had family members in this situation as many of you reading this have as well.
What are your thoughts on this issue?  Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.
Gratitude List:
  1. I’m grateful for a supportive group of friends (to long to list).
  2. I’m grateful for others out there who are sharing their stories.
  3. I’m grateful to live in San Francisco and all its beauty.
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It’s a time to reflect and renew your passions

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Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Well it’s January 1st 2015 and I’m thinking about how 2014 went.  2014 was a great year.  I was reminded this morning of how I’ve done a lot of great things and I HAVE been successful!

Today I’m out hiking with my friend Susan in the area of Ocean Beach and the Presidio.  The views were amazing.  It’s also a good reminder that I live in one of the most amazing cities in THE WORLD.  People travel to San Francisco from all over the world.  We have views that are breathtaking and even more are the views of the Pacific ocean.
This last year I had my contract extended twice.  So I’ve been successful with work.  The first extension was when the project I was working on hit a snag and it was going to take longer. The second extension came when I was finishing the first project and another manager wanted to bring me in to work on another project.  I mean if they didn’t like me they wouldn’t keep me around, right?
I met a wonderful person and we’ve been dating now for 5 months.  That’s a HUGE deal for me.  I’ve not been very successful in dating and this relationship is based on truths and honesty.  No one is claiming to be perfect and we own up to our shortcomings.  Everything is open for discussion which has made for a great relationship.
Over the past year I’ve kept my weight in check which has been a concern.  I’ve watched what I was eating but not as diligent as I had been.  I have been going to the gym over the past year so that’s helped.  I’m by no means a gym bunny.  Nor do I have a strict routine that I just HAVE to follow.  I would still far rather sit on my ass and watch television but I’m working to balance that with doing something physically exerting.
I’ve become far more connected with myself.  I know more regarding who I am, what I want  and where I want to go with my life.  I worked on being more positive.  I knew that being negative wasn’t going to attract a healthy friendship or relationship.  I’ve always thought I knew what I wanted.  What you want needs to be specific.  I had always had a bigger/larger/broad picture and that’s helpful to get you started but it’s like looking at the planet and saying “I want to live there.”  As for where I want to go it’s about a forward motion.  I want to be something more and do something more.
So what do I want to do in 2015 to move forward and make a better life?
Lets run it down ..
  1. I want to make an exercise routine for me.
  2. I want to blog on a regular basis.
  3. I want on developing my positive attitude.
Making an exercise routine specifically for myself shouldn’t be horribly difficult, right?  The great thing about the information age is that you can Google any subject.  You’ll have several options and you can cherry pick what exactly what you want.  An Exercise routine is nothing something I have ever thought I would need or use.
Blogging is something that I think will help me in many ways.  I need to improve my writing.  I think most to all people need to improve their writing skills.  It’s something we learn in grade school but most of us never really work to improve the skill.  For me it also it helps me build a better world.  There are some people that blog some dribble but I’ve been thinking that i want to ask people to think beyond the dribble of our daily lives.
Having a positive attitude is not even nearly as easy as it sounds.  I’ve been getting motivational emails daily.  I’ve also been reading a book regarding building a “Buddha Brain.”  So I want to do this more and really focus on reading the book.  This will also require some additional research but I don’t believe that’s going to be that painful.  Maybe I’ll become a Buddhist.  That my friends would send my family over the deep end. People in Ohio don’t really believe in Buddhism.  Buddhism to them is ‘hippy dippy’ and not ‘the christian way.’  Funny right because it’s NOT CHRISTIAN!
So this is my focus for 2015.  This is what I’m going to work on in 2015.  This is my list of New Years resolutions.
I welcome your feedback.  Ask me your questions and point out my faults.  I see this as a way to grow for this most part.

Happy New Years to all that read this!

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