Getting back on track

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.

Getting back on the horse and focusing

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and it’s so easy to get out of the habit.  I can blame all kinds of things that are going on in my life but honestly I have no excuse.  I’ve watched FAR too much television for there to be any excuse.

So I’ve been on this journey where I would like to have my own business and find work that I love.  Now that being said I read something last week that said NO job is perfect every day.  I think that’s important to keep in mind and I think that’s something I can completely get behind.  No job is perfect because something occasionally goes wrong.

So in order to do this one must take many small steps.  Action is what will make this happen.  I’ve seen it and read it but now is the time to implement this!  So as part of that is setting up some goals.  Goals help drive you in a direction.  They are like a personal mission statement.

Goals:

  1. Make money by working from my laptop
  2. Explore the world
  3. Make a difference in the world by sharing my knowledge and the surplus in my life with other people.

So I want to be able to work remotely.  I want to be able to work from my laptop.  I want to add value to businesses and people’s lives.  So with the ideas I have and the help of people that I currently know I can start small and develop some different ideas that should create some income on a monthly basis.

Working remotely means virtual businesses or potentially traveling to a business’s location.  Those are both options and skills I have used and developed over the past 20 years of working.  I’ve also made plenty of connections that support that kind of work.  This will take work and I’m not going into this blind.  I fully expect that I will need to develop this slowly.

In order to get started…

Thinking ahead I can see one thing being critical and that’s doing debt reduction.  We all have debt and some of us are increasing that debt instead of reducing it.  I’ve been on both sides of the fence at different times of my life.  I think we can all agree though that having fewer bills to pay on a monthly basis is far easier on life in general.

So the main debt that I need to focus on is credit cards.  Credit cards can be great and help you if used right.  By using a credit card you can earn points towards all kinds of services, merchandise and travel.

A side effect to paying down my credit card debt will be an increase in my credit score.  Your credit score drives so many different big ticket purchases that require a loan.  A higher credit score means a lower interest rate many times.  That is a side effect that will be a HUGE plus in life.

One expense I can be thankful isn’t big in my life is the cost of an automobile.  Currently I don’t have a car payment because I don’t have a car.  So that’s a large debt that many people have in their lives.  Here in San Francisco I can get around easily by taking public transportation or by using CityCarShare, Zipcar, taxis, Uber or Lyft. It’s all about your schedule and how long you have to get between point A & B.

At some point I wouldn’t mind having a car but the thing I have to keep in mind is that unless a car is my main source of income I don’t need that expense here in this city.  If I lived in a different city it would definitely be a different situation.

Analysis Paralysis

So many people get caught up thinking about all the things that they need to do.  The truth for me and many others is that you just need to put one foot in front of another and start doing something about my goals.

This past weekend I was working on one of my small side projects and I found that there was some money I was owed.  There was some tax information that needed to be updated but after a short email exchange it’s been resolved.  The take away from that … I MADE MONEY!

OK it wasn’t a huge amount of money but it was something and it paid for my investment.  So now I have motivation to more with this project.  Additionally I know that there is potential income as a result of my actions.  That’s hugely important at this phase because in my mind income equals success.

What’s next?

The next step for me is to invest a little more time into that project that produced some money of course.  Potentially I could make more money and more money means more success.  More success will also drive all those feelings empowerment that help us lead happy lives.

I have a second micro-business that I’ve already done which I know can generate money.  Again money equals success in this case.  Sadly I lost my focus and stopped supporting it.  With no support it can’t succeed.  This week I’m going to support that micro-business and bring home another win for the team.

Both of these micro businesses can be done from anywhere and support my first two goals.  If it supports my goals and it empowers me to do more/better then I need to do it more, right!  The other good thing is that the extra money I make can also go to the support goal of reducing debt.

WIN WIN!

Taking in the positive

Buddha QuoteSo I’m still reading ‘Just one thing’ by Rick Hanson and I’m working on integrating his practices into daily life.  You know I just read the second practice and there were some extremely important take aways.  For example if you’re going to try to do any personal development you need to fully invest yourself.  It’s funny how it makes complete sense when you think about it.  It’s no different than if you were going to learn to play an instrument or learn to program for computers.  If you’re going to do any anything involving learning you have to engage fully.  If you don’t invest you won’t fully learn or development the skills you’re working to achieve.

So the second practice is to ‘take in the good’ or focusing on the positive.  No big deal right?  Oy! I don’t think this is easy at all.  In reading this section in the book I find solace in the fact that this book is written from a scientific point of view.  Scientifically they have noted that we respond better to the negative influences in our life.  If you look at the development of humans we’ve learned to survive by avoiding the whatever it is that going to hurt us.  So by reading this you find that it’s not something to beat yourself up about.  It’s centuries of human development.

Take in the positive!  Every little positive thing that happens your day should be noted and you should praise yourself.  EVERY LITTLE THING!  Don’t let the negative voice pull you down and talk poorly about your achievements.  I read all my email today.  I responded to all my email today.  I wrote a blog post today.  Someone may say well that’s no big deal.  You can dismiss this kind of negative response. This is negative and NOT something to affect you.

So my task for this week is to focus on the positive in my life.  I can see how I don’t give myself credit for all those small things that I do/get done in a day.  You know it’s the whole “day in a life of” thing.  So no matter how small of an accomplishment it is I need to recognize it the accomplishment and celebrate it.  For example, yesterday I went on a 3 hour walking tour of restaurants, stopped to visit my fiends at Eye a, went to the grocery story, prepared some pasta sauce, went to dinner with Susan, did a load of laundry and relaxed for an hour at the end of the day.  That’s a lot going on in a single day.  I have to remember that I do as much or more than most people.

If you like mental imagery the way I’m going to start thinking about this is to picture myself with a kind of bubble around myself.  This bubble helps filter out garbage (negative thoughts).  While the bubble lets the positive through like water or air.  The positive thoughts should refresh you and make you feel warm.  I’ll close my eyes and feel the positive accomplishments warming my body.

This is going to be a great week.  I will focus on the positive.  I will let the positive warm my insides.  This feeling will not leave room for negative garbage.  The negative will just slide off like a fried egg from Teflon.  I will work to make this my truth.

If you had something you want to share or add please leave a comment below.  I am interested in hearing what others think.  I’m sure many people have been through something similar.

I’m grateful for:

  1. I’m grateful for the fun opportunities that I’m afforded here in San Francisco like the Mission restaurant tour that I took yesterday.
  2. I’m grateful for my boss who is a great person.
  3. I’m grateful that I am a good cook.

I’m curious about:

  1. The extinction of honey bees.
  2. What my friend Bob is doing today.
  3. Why people don’t try to change their lives like I have.

I’m surprised by:

  1. The science that I’m reading the book, Just One Thing.
  2. How many NPR stories deal with California.
  3. How I miss the steamy hot weather of New Orleans.

How can I keep focus?

So in life we have so many distractions every day it seems.  If you’re someone like me I sometimes go find distractions to keep myself busy.  I find that I’m sometimes my own worst enemy when it comes to this lack of focus.  So now I’m asking myself more and more about why I’m doing this to myself and how to break out of the cycle.

Lets tear apart my day to see how I’m spending my time.

Time

Task

Duration

6:30 AM Get up, get shower, get dressed 30 minutes
7:00 AM Pack up lunch and get ready to leave 15 minutes
7:15: AM Get on bus to head to work 1.5 hours
8:50 AM Work 8 hours
5:00 PM Head to gym (walk, train, walk, change) 45 minutes
6:00 PM Work out 1.5 hours
7:15 PM Commute home 1 hour
8:30 – 9:00 PM The time I get home

That is how my schedule looks on the days I go to the gym or exercise.  So that would be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Tonight I’m also going to an orchestra rehearsal which run till 9:30.  After that I’ll drive home which should get me in around 10:30 PM.

OK so that leaves between 9 and 11 PM on the weeknights that I go to the gym.  Friday’s I’ve been working from home and my evenings aren’t structured.  When I say my evenings aren’t structured what I’m really saying is that it’s free time and I go out.  Saturday and Sunday are free and I schedule them as I find things to do.  So I really only have 2 days that I don’t have about 11 to 12 hours of the day committed.

So I find myself getting emotional over this because I feel like life somewhat out of control.  I have to remember it’s not out of control.  I’m doing more than most people.  I’ve had people say ‘You’re always on the move doing something.’  Of course they say that based on what they see on my Facebook account.  Looking at the schedule above though I am pretty busy.

So I think the lesson I need to take away after writing this down is I need to treat myself with as much positive encouragement and praise for the work I am doing.  So I’m doing a good job.  Next something I should do is work on posting my accomplishments to my blog.  Writing blog post about what I’m accomplishing and doing helps make all the things I do more tangible.  I think we can all agree that having tangible accomplishments is a good thing.  While writing my blog post I need to narrow down some what of what I’m looking to do in the future.  There are so many great ideas and things I want to do.  Now I need to go through that list and narrow it down.  Prioritize the list and see if there are any multiples.

Let’s review my next steps:

  1. Praise and encourage myself!
  2. Write my blog post!
  3. List out these things that I want to do.
  4. Prioritize my list

It may seem silly but I feel better already.  This reminds me of two things.  First is the Kiss principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Don’t let it overwhelm me.  Write it down and really see what you’re dealing with before jumping to conclusions.  Second is to set up SMART goals (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely).  So if I keep it simple and great SMART goals for myself then I’ll be successful.

What’s my next step?

First I’m going to write my next post.  I find it amazing and fulfilling to write these post.  I’m able to process so many feelings and thoughts.  It’s not import if anyone else reads it.  Most import is that it’s helping me get my own feelings and thoughts together and allow me to move forward.

Second I am going to make a list of the things I am telling myself I want to do.  I am guessing that there will be some very common themes.  From that I think I can categorize them and then start to put a priority to them.  This isn’t about the future.  It is about today.  What can I do today.  What would have the biggest impact today.  I need to focus on the present day and what I can do or what is important to me.

Third is something I almost forget to acknowledge.  I need to continue my focus on the positive by stating the things I’m grateful for in my life.  Seeing the positive people and events in my life are extremely important.

I’m grateful for:

  1. My friends who are there to support me.
  2. My workout partner who keeps me focused on exercising.
  3. Music and the fact that I am able to play my tuba.

I’m curious about:

  1. How difficult would it be to moving to a foreign country?
  2. Why haven’t I felts like I have roots in a city?
  3. What is my friend Bob up to?

I’m surprised by:

  1. People’s instability, never fails to surprise me.
  2. How involved people are in soccer.
  3. How busy I am on weekdays.

I’m grateful, are you?

So I’ve been thinking more about how to be positive in my daily life.  I’ve heard of different things but the one thing that seems to strike a cord is a gratitude journal.  Simply acknowledging the good things in your life in which you’re grateful. Simple enough, right?

What am I grateful for?

  1. I’m grateful for my cousin Scott, a wonderful friend.
  2. I’m grateful for Karen, a great boss.
  3. I’m grateful for my workout partner Rick, without whom I wouldn’t be going to the gym.
  4. I’m grateful for an empty BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) car on the trip home.
  5. I’m grateful for my very good friend Susan who’s always there for me.

Today I ask my boss if she grew up in a home where she was encouraged as a child.  I don’t really remember that about my childhood.  I remember the majority of my childhood being humiliated and bullied.  It was hard growing up different in a small backwater area of central Ohio.  I think that was the first time that I really ever spoke about my childhood and what it was like unemotionally.  Normally it’s a conversation filled with sadness or anger.  It wasn’t until I went to college that I found my people you might say.

When I went to college at Otterbein University (College) it was the first time that I met other people like me.  Funny thing is some of you might be thinking I’m talking about gay people.  That’s not it at all.  This was the first time I met other people my age who sought to further themselves with education.  Men and women from small towns around Ohio who came to college to better themselves.

As a member of the marching band we arrived at Otterbein a week before school started for band camp.  My first day I walked into my room and there sat my roommate, a football player.  I was a little shocked but made the best of it.  His name was Mike and come to find out his sister was a violinist with the Dayton Jr Philharmonic.  So he was OK with the band geek thing.  To this day I still have friends from Otterbein that I met in the band program 20+ years ago.

In today’s discussion I was able to say and feel that I’ve really accomplished something in my life.  In terms of education I went to Otterbein University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education.  I went to Ohio State University for the better part of a year and did their Masters of Education program.  Last but not least I went to DeVry University and received a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology.  Which may I add I maintained a 4.0 GPA while working a full-time job.

Image That’s pretty freaking impressive for a kid who came from a family who doesn’t value education, grew up in a house where you could see the wind blow the curtains (the window was not open), where the blanket I slept with froze to the outside wall one winter, and a whole list of other stuff if I really thought about it.  Yes we lived in poverty and we were poor.  I never really thought about it though because my parents made the best of it.

So today I say I’m grateful that I’ve had enough ambition to move forward and do what some may call impossible in my life.  I’ve received education.  I’ve traveled domestically and internationally.  I’ve worked for major companies.  I started a company.  I’ve bought a home.  I’ve lived in New Orleans and San Francisco. I’ve made friends from so many countries I couldn’t even begin to count.  Man, that’s something!

Today I posted on Facebook the following message. “I stumble along through life. I haven’t really sought out as much as I dream of.”  Well my stumbling has allowed me to do far more than I’ve ever acknowledged.  In my stumbling I’ve met so many WONDERFUL people.  I’ve played tuba in places that are amazing and beautiful.  I’ve sang songs that have made people cry (not because it was painful).

“I stumble along through life. I haven’t really sought out as much as I dream of.”

For a kid from Knox County Ohio I’ve done pretty darn good!  That’s the truth, my truth!  I’ve come a long way baby and I’ve still got further to go!  So I’m grateful for somehow, someway finding my way to where I am today.