It’s a time to reflect and renew your passions

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!

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.

How do you treat your friends?

It was suggested that I read the book Just One Thing, developing a Buddha brain one simple practice at a time by Rick Hanson, PHD.  I read the first chapter today and wow does it hits home.  The main question out of the first chapter is “Do you treat yourself like you would treat a friend?”

Many of us don’t treat ourselves nearly as good as we would a friend or even a stranger.  Why don’t we do that for ourselves?  I know I’m guilty of treating others better than I treat myself.  I’ve been seeing this theme come up a lot though on places like Facebook.

I like the way the book’s chapters are laid out. It’s met to be kind of a workbook.  You can read and process as fast as you want or take it slow and digest each practice it talks about.  Each chapter states the practice like ‘Be For Yourself’.

The first part of the chapter talks about the practice in your standard self help fashion.  Then it talks about how to apply it in daily life.  It gives you general times and ways that it may apply in your daily life.  Then it tells you how you might apply the practice.

I would recommend the book to those who are looking to person growth and development.  I am finding the book easy to read and apply to my daily life.  It presents the practices in easy to understand terms.  Then gives you specific examples of how to apply the practice.  Check it out!

When you take good care of yourself, then you have more to offer others, form the people close to you to the whole wide world.

I’m grateful for …

  1. Catching up with old friends (Myron) that you run into at the grocery.
  2. Old friends (Diane) who are still in your life.
  3. Current friends who will always be in your life (Susan).

I’m curious about…

  1. Being self employed
  2. Living abroad
  3. How to manage my day better

I’m surprised by

  1. How I treat others better than I do myself.
  2. How it’s so foggy in June.
  3. How I can be hungry an hour after eating lunch.

Unexpected surprises and delights

Today I attended a meeting at there was a guest speaker talking about changing peoples behaviors.  There was a lot of things that I saw in the presentation that I thought really applied to my daily life.  It’s funny how you can start to pick up things like this when you pay attention or are looking for them in everyday life.

One of the things that was discussed was really looking for an creating opportunities for Unexpected Surprises or delights in life.  I don’t know about you but I can tend to focus on the negative a little too much.  So if you start to create rewards for your small victories and celebrate then it brings a certain level of positive vibes into your life.

So I talked about being grateful before but he brought up 2 more things that would help in this positive outlook on life.  1) What are you curious about?  2) What surprised you today?  WOW that makes total sense because I actually find myself being curious and surprised by things going on around me.  Oh he limited his to only 3 since there were these other questions.

I’m grateful for…

  1. I’m grateful for my coworkers who gave me a ride to out off site meeting today.
  2. I’m grateful for apps that track buses so I know how long it will be before the next bus.
  3. I’m grateful for speakers with a relevant and good message at meetings.

I’m curious about …

  1. I’m curious why sometimes it seems like my battery depletes faster
  2. I’m curious why people eat vegan stuff…
  3. I’m curious how or why some people are ambivalent about life

I’m surprised by ….

  1. I’m surprised that the temperatures are so different between my home and work.
  2. I’m surprised at how different I can feel after having a single date.
  3. I’m surprised that I lasted 30 minutes on this new exercise machine at the gym!

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.