Category Archives: personal

posts related to my personal life

Day Two

So I’m only at day two, and already I’m really feeling the change of diet at the physical level. Yesterday and today both I have felt my energy level decrease quite a bit. What is new today is in the late afternoon my brain started to get what I’d call… muddled. Definitely not thinking as well as normal at the moment.

I was thinking about it today and I’m guessing that in following this diet I am likely to be doing the whole “ketosis” thing, though that wasn’t a conscious choice… my carb intake is certainly going to be low enough that it’s going to happen. I’d also assume that’s probably what it is that I’m feeling right now – the “keto flu” as they call it. The internet tells me it can last about a week – hopefully it’s not any longer than that. I do have some keto strips I bought awhile back when I was about to take a stab at the keto diet, so, I’ll have to check after awhile to see if I do in fact achieve ketosis.

Tomorrow morning I will also be adding in bulletproof coffee to the mix, as when I was using that before I was finding that I felt a lot more energetic – so I’m hoping that will offset this lack of energy. I would have liked to have remembered to do that this morning.

That’s it for day two – we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Day One

So for probably about a month now I’ve been plotting some sort of diet plan to get back to where I need to be weight and health-wise. I toyed around with a few ideas, and listened through Penn Jillette’s book on his weight loss, in which he did crazy things like eat nothing but potatoes for 2 weeks. Crazy things kind of appeal to me, but, his book isn’t really a how-to, and also the guy who I guess guided him through the diet doesn’t seem to have put out a book with his diet plan in it yet, so, while I’m sure I could use Penn’s book and the internet to piece together what to do, it would be a lot of work. Combine that with the fact that it leaves you on a vegetarian diet, and it really stops appealing to me at all anyway. Also, it’s questionable if getting such low protein and losing muscle along with fat is really a good thing (FWIW, Penn claims the muscle comes back fast after you finish the weight loss phase of the diet).

I also was recently listening to Jordan Peterson discuss his carnivore diet with Joe Rogan recently. So he’s literally only been eating meat. So that’s kind of crazy too. I thought about it briefly, but, again, there’s not really any evidence regarding how this will affect a person (as of the podcast I believe he hadn’t yet had bloodwork done since starting that diet). So, I’m not going to go quite that crazy.

Anyone who has listened to Joe Rogan on a regular basis will know that he typically promotes just eating meat and vegetables, which seems to me to be a pretty good place to “reset” a diet to, and that’s the one thing that I sort of got out of Penn Jillette’s book… that I need to sort of hit reset on my diet and how I relate to food.

I’ve known for awhile now that I have a bit of an unhealthy relationship with food… If I get sad, or stressed out, or have a bad day, that is where I tend to turn. Eating a cheeseburger and fries, or a pizza, or a donut, etc, will surely make me feel better. And I mean, they kind of do, at least for a bit. But I’ve also recognized that it’s self-defeating, as doing that long term will lead toward feeling kind of crappy.

Of course there’s also what is the typical American bad relationship with food, which is just sort of… “Hey, want to hang out? Better get a lot of food. Maybe some dessert and snacks too.” Any time anything good happens, we tend to celebrate with food. So if you eat crappy food when you’re sad, and you also eat it when you’re happy, you’re pretty much eating crappy food all the time. And so that’s why I need a reset. I’d like to get myself where I start to think of food as nothing more than what it is… sort of a “fuel”. I thing I need to survive. Not something to make me feel better, not something that I have when I’m celebrating. It’s just food.

And so my plan is this – For the next 90 days, starting today:

I will eat only meat and vegetables. I will allow most seasonings, butter, and some sauces  – as long as they’re very low in calories (such as hot sauce). The carb heavy vegetables will be kept to a minimum.

I will drink only water, unsweetened tea, and coffee (w/o cream or sugar, which is how I mostly drink it anyway). So that will mean no cappuccinos, no soda, no beer, no wine, no liquor. Mostly the idea is “don’t drink calories”, but also I’m going to avoid all artificial sweeteners for the duration. That said, if I happen across a different drink that has no calories and no artificial sweeteners, it would theoretically be allowed.

The final bit of the diet is, I’m going to allow the option for a cheat day after every 30 days. If I use a cheat day, the cheat day doesn’t count for the next set of 30 days, and while I don’t have to use the cheat day on “day 31”, for the purposes of acquiring another cheat day, it will reset the counter whenever I use it. For my first 30 days, I will have a strong motivation to really not use the cheat day, because I know I will want to go to the fair, and due to the timing of starting this, using the cheat day would make the very last day of the fair the only day I could eat there. Or maybe by then I’ll no longer desire fair food. We shall see.

Oh yes, and I plan to post a little something here every day, with a subject line of what day it is, and… I dunno, probably something about how I’m feeling, maybe what I ate. I’ll certainly require myself to post about any screw ups, as that will help with motivation a bit.

So, here goes.

Two Weeks

At about this time, 2 weeks ago, I was preparing to drive with my mom up to McClure, PA to pick up a Shiba Inu puppy from a breeder. She was just 8 weeks old, and she had the most adorable picture posted on the online listing I found.

The breeder was calling her Molly, but I changed her name to Yuna.  The breed was an older Mennonite woman, and so when we drove up to their house it was a bit like entering another world.  We went inside and saw all the puppies, Yuna and her brothers and sisters.  We looked out the window into a fenced area and saw their mom.

As we were leaving, she started to cry.  I know that she was scared, but I knew that I was going to be really good to her.  We put the sock monkey toy someone (I’m still not sure who) had sent to her back with her and it seemed to help.  She slept for most of the drive.

We stopped at Super Pets to get her a harness and some padding for her crate.  We also got a bunch of toys.  The employees in the store loved her, especially the guy who was checking us out.

When we got home she spent a lot of the evening lying next to me as I sat on the couch.  I started taking her out for walks in my parents’ back yard that night, and she was already doing an amazing job of waiting to go outside to go to the bathroom.  I’d never seen another dog do as good as her.  That night when it was time to go to bed I put her in her crate and she started crying again.  I didn’t want her to cry and so I took her out and brought her into bed with me.  She pressed herself right up against me all night.  I didn’t sleep very well that night, but I know it made her feel safer.

As the days went on she came out of her shell more and started to be more independent and rambunctious and want to run around and play and get to places she wasn’t supposed to go.  She really liked to chew.  She wasn’t immediately all that interested in any toys or treats, but the bully sticks I had ordered for her were the first things that I found that she loved.  She’d chew through them really fast. Then she’d chew on anything else she could find… including my hands, arms, and feet.

We had pretty good routine down during the week.  I’d wake up, make my coffee and get dressed for work, then I’d take her outside to go to the bathroom and walk to my car.  One morning, we ran into a guy with a couple of dogs off leash and she played with them for a bit.  He asked to hold her and so I let him for a minute or so.  After we’d get to the car I’d drive her to my parents’ house where she’d spend her days so she didn’t have to be alone.

She continued to sleep in my bed with me the first few nights.  She was really good.  She started to sleep a little bit away from me instead of right up against me.  Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night and lick my neck and wake me up.  When I would wake up in the morning she would lick my face and paw and bite at my beard.

I took her for walks downtown, and even if it was a time when there weren’t many people out, it was hard to get her even around the block without at least one person stopping to comment on how cute she was or ask if they could pet her.  At a busy time I could take just a couple steps out my door and tons of people would stop to say hi to her.  Everyone loved her, she was a very popular puppy.  She was afraid of walking on the metal doors and grates on the ground.  I made her walk on them sometimes because I wanted her to see that it was ok and she didn’t have to be afraid.

She would try to play with Malcolm, my parents’ Alaskan Malamute, but most of the time he didn’t want to.  He was getting better at tolerating her, and they did play together in the snow.  She liked to bite at his hair, and his tail.  He liked to growl and bark at her, and then she liked to just keep doing what she was doing anyway.

I transitioned her from sleeping in the bed to sleeping in her crate, because I thought it would be better long term.   She did really good with it, I think she was starting to like it.  She would only cry in the morning when she realized I was awake.  So I’d try to get up as quickly as possible to let her out.  She was always really energetic and would jump up and lick at my face if I was low enough, just like she did when she was sleeping in the bed with me.

On St Patricks Day, I took her for a walk in Baker Park and her harness came loose and she got out.  I was really scared.  She started running and I had to chase her until she hid in a bush near the clock tower.  Later that night, after I took her for another walk, one of my neighbors came out with her visiting family while I was standing with Yuna outside.  As we went in, she invited us to come into her place for awhile.  I sat and talked with her and 2 of her (I think) cousins.  Yuna  and my neighbor’s bulldog interacted a bit, but unfortunately the bulldog was a little too aggressive with his approach so Yuna was scared and he had to be held back.  We were over there pretty late, and Yuna went to sleep underneath her couch, so I decided to take her home.

On Thursday she had her first appointment at the vet.  The receptionist and the other employees there all immediately fell in love with her.  When the vet examined her, he found that everything looked good.  He gave her a dewormer and a distemper vaccination.  Before I left, he told me that he believed Yuna would have a bright future.

After walking her from the car to the apartment, where she was still being fawned over by passersby and even some drivers, I could tell that she was feeling tired.  She laid on top of me while I watched TV for awhile and she slept off and on.  I eventually got up and put her in her crate so that she could sleep.  She cried a little bit because I went over to the other room, but then she was ok.  I thought about letting her sleep in the bed that night.  I wish that I would have.

We went through our routine that morning, a little rushed because I was running late for work.  I let her out and she followed me around as I got ready and made coffee that ended up spilling all over the counter.  I quickly got her away from it as it dripped and cleaned it up enough so it wouldn’t keep dripping onto the floor.  We went outside to walk to the car and it was much like any other morning.  She went to the bathroom on the way, and then we got in the car and I brought her into my parents’ house.  She was running along and biting at my Dad’s pant legs.  I left and went to work.

This is what was supposed to happen:  I was supposed to come to my parents’ house after work ended.  She was supposed to be jumping up at the gate that kept her in the kitchen, excited to see me.  I was supposed to pick her up and let her lick and bite at my face.  Then I’d put her down and watch her run around, and throw her ball for her a few times until she decided not to bring it back to me but instead just lay down and chew it.  Then I was supposed to take her home, and she was supposed to irritate the hell out of me chewing on everything.  And then I was supposed to play with her some more, and then lay on the couch with her watching TV, and then we were supposed to both go to bed, and then wake up this morning and start our third week together.

This is what did happen:  Yesterday around noon, Yuna died.  We aren’t 100% sure of the cause, but it appears she suffocated, either due to choking on a piece of her food that may have been drawn into her esophagus, or possibly due to a reaction to the distemper vaccination she had received the night before.  I don’t know what the latter scenario would look like, but my mom, who was there with Yuna when she died, and did everything she could to try to save her, believed that she was choking on food.  She was rushed to the vet, and they performed CPR, but there was nothing they could do to save her.

I missed my Mom’s phone call because I was on another phone call, but she sent me some texts after she tried to call that I saw immediately after I got off of the phone.  I hurried home as quickly as I could, never returning to work after my lunch break.  And then I sat with Yuna, petting her and holding my face up against her.  She was still so soft and fluffy, and looked so sweet and peaceful.  I held her in my arms and I didn’t ever want to put her down.  It’s strange the way the mind works, because I felt like if I put her down I would be losing her, but the truth is she was already lost.  But then the longer I held her, the more dead she seemed, and I knew I had to put her down.

I wrapped her in a towel, and I placed her out on the enclosed deck behind my parent’s house.  And that’s where she is right now, directly behind me, as I type this.  Soon I have to call to have her cremated.

Two weeks and a day ago I had nothing less than what I have now, but nonetheless it is a great loss.  All I can do is think about the things that I was supposed to do with her.

I was supposed to:

  • Enroll her in a puppy class, and teach her to sit, to lay down, to stay
  • Help her learn to stop mouthing people and biting up their hands and arms.
  • Teach her that it’s ok walk on those metal grates.
  • Help her learn to walk better (but she did pretty good for a puppy)
  • Set up her puppy pen that had just recently arrived
  • Feed her treats through the pet camera I got her while I was at work
  • Go on jogs and hikes with her as she got older
  • Have to take care of her for years and years

I don’t have that many pictures, because I was supposed to have a lot more time.  But I have a few pictures, and a few videos.  I don’t want to forget her.

I wanted someone who depended on me and who I had to take care of, someone to come home to after work and who would be happy to see me, and who would love me no matter what.

And for just under 2 weeks, I had that.  And then it was taken away.  No person is to blame… everyone did everything that they could have done, and what they were supposed to do.  Even if it was a reaction to the vaccine, we couldn’t have known that it would happen.

And so in just 2 short weeks I grew to love Yuna with all my heart and then she was taken away from me.  She wasn’t quite 10 weeks old.  And so today I have to say goodbye.  I miss her.

Desultory III

So I decided about a week ago that I would reactivate my Facebook account tomorrow.  I am writing this post prior to the reactivation because I don’t want to make any kind of “I’m back” announcement, or draw attention to it in any way, but, for my own records (I really do like to go back through old posts, chat logs, emails, etc…  so when I say I’m writing for me here, it’s completely accurate), I want to write this.

I am going forward with some rules for myself in regard to my Facebook use.  The main one is that I am not going to install the Facebook app on my phone.  I am unsure if I achieved all my goals with taking the break, but if I can be more intentional in my use of Facebook rather than just using it as a way to pass by time, than I think I will have achieved success.  While I didn’t post here as much as I intended to during this time, my posting has definitely increased from the almost never that I was doing so before, and so it was successful in that regard to.  I have also made some progress in writing a personal project that I had been meaning to get to for some time.

My plan going forward with this blog is to reduce the number of intended weekly posts to 2 for the time being, allowing one of those 2 posts to be one of these rambly aimless “desultory” posts about nothing.  The other I will require myself to put some thought into and have some substance.  Of course, I if I have 2 such posts that I want to write, both of the weekly posts may be substantial ones.  My limit will be what my former goal was, however, 2 substantial posts, 1 desultory one.  Should I want to write a 3rd substantial post in a week, I may write it, but I won’t publish it until the following week, when I may be struggling to find motivation for something to write about.  In the unlikely event I am struck with constant motivation, I may revise these rules for myself.

In any event, I’m interested to see what it’s like to get back to Facebook now that I’ve been gone for a little over a month.  We’ll see how long it lasts!

Desultory II

Without fail, when I say I am going to do something with this blog, I will fail to do it.  That’s not really true, but I do often suggest that I am going to do something here and not follow through.  I was otherwise occupied last week.  But, I have a couple of ideas for things to write about, so hopefully I’ll get in a couple of posts with real content here tomorrow and Saturday.

I decided the other day that I am going to actually take a stab at doing a podcast or YouTube channel.  I’ve thought about it for a while, and about a year ago really decided what I would want to do with it if I ever committed to it.  Surprise, it would look a lot like the sort of things that I write about here… sort of an intersection of politics, culture, faith, and philosophy.  I’d like to focus on the interplay between all of those things, as well as examine some specific aspects of them all.  Obviously I will be coming at it all from my own political, cultural, religious, and philosophical perspectives, but I also want to consider some things that I do not hold to as well.  Anyway, I picked up a pretty decent microphone, and I created a YouTube channel (nothing is there yet).  At first it’s going to be all audio and I’ll probably just cut together some images to talk over.  Once I’m comfortable with the voice aspect I might capture some video as well… almost certainly I’ll just be using my iPhone’s camera for that, as it should do the job well enough and anything better would be a bit pricey.

In any case, I am probably weeks away from actually posting something, but I plan to start recording audio (you know, as trial runs) tomorrow.  Tomorrow might literally be just reading through the blog post I write, or maybe just talking off the cuff about the same subject.  In any case, it will literally be just for me, as I won’t be posting it anywhere.

Soon though!

Oh, I guess I should update my feelings on being disconnected from Facebook.  It’s still pretty great!  I don’t miss it at all really.  There’s been a couple of times when not having it was slightly inconvenient because a link on google was leading me to someone’s Facebook page, or some app I was using wanted to log in to Facebook, but I really don’t miss being on  there.  This COULD last indefinitely, though whenever I decide that it will, I will probably briefly activate it to pull down all my pictures and whatnot on there.  I’ve found that life feels less contentious, and I’m not feeling that obligation to stream through that flood of information.  I guess the one thing that I have felt is a bit weird is whenever I come across something that I think is great (a video, or an article, or whatever), I haven’t really known what to do with it.  But I think that’s good.  I can share it directly with someone who I think will appreciate it, or I can just absorb it and use the information when interacting with someone, instead of just randomly shooting it out there and hoping that people “like” it.

Ok, that’s enough rambling.

Real post coming within the next 24 hours!

Desultory I

I haven’t taken the time the past couple of days to sit down and write, but I’ve been thinking of occasionally just blasting out a post of whatever random, disconnected thoughts pop into my head.  So that’s what this is the first of (that’s a roman numeral 1 up there, so be prepared for a II at some point).  This is unlikely to be the most profound thing you’ve ever read or that I’ve ever written, but, take it or leave it… like I always say, what I write here is primarily for me in any case.

Abstaining from Facebook is going pretty well.  I was surprised to realize that my previous break from it was over 2 years ago.  Didn’t seem like it had been so long.  That time for the first week or so I experienced strong urges to log in and would catch myself starting to type in the address or looking for the tab in my browser.  This time around I’ve barely thought about it.  That time I had planned on staying away from it for at least a month, and I think it had worked out to that almost exactly in practice.  This time, I have no planned timeframe, but it will almost certainly be longer than that.  Especially if I continue to not miss it.

The job search continues.  I’m trying to expand my options but my hopes continue to be with BSW.  It took a good while before I heard back from them the first time around, so I’m hoping that’s all that is happening this time…  I think I submitted my application about 3 weeks ago now.  There’s no way to know for sure for the time being.  Otherwise, I have a contingent job offer, but it’s going to take a while for that to go through, so I at least need something temporary in the interim.

I’ve gotten back into playing Final Fantasy XIV after a fairly extensive break.  I’m really enjoying it again, much more so then when I had decided I needed to get away from it for a while.  MMOs can sometimes start to feel like a chore rather than being fun, and when that happens, it’s best to step back.  Expansion is coming in just a few months and I’m excited for it.

I’m hoping to dedicate some more time to writing over the next couple of weeks.  I still haven’t done much work on the novel that I’m wanting to write.  It’s just a matter of setting the time aside.

Now that the weather has been really nice, and I think is going to consistently be getting nicer than it has been overall, I’m looking to do some more active things outdoors as well…  mainly going on some bike rides and running… maybe mix some hikes in there as well.  I’ve done a couple of bike rides already, and went for a run which was enough to realize I need to get my endurance up all over again.  Oh well.  It will come.

Going forward with this blog, I’m going to try to write 2-3 thought out topical posts per week, and 1-2 of these random thought posts to pad it out.  For the first couple months it’ll probably be on the lower side of those ranges.  But, I think it should be doable.

So… look forward to it!  Or don’t.  You know, whatever you want to do.


Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.
-Isaac Asimov

“Transition isn’t pretty, but stagnation is hideous.”
-Nikki Rowe

“When our first parents were driven out of Paradise, Adam is believed to have remarked to Eve: “My dear, we live in an age of transition.””
-Dean William R. Inge

Many times in my life, I have found myself in states of massive transition.  I suspect that I have experienced more of them than most people my age, though, I would also wager there are many who have experienced more than me.  Unfortunately, the last couple times it has felt like my life has come to a screeching halt while the rest of the world moves on around me.  Suffice to say, it’s not a pleasurable state to be in.

I have definitely questioned a lot of the choices I’ve made, and I wonder how things would be different if I had decided different things, or if I had reacted to events differently.   I tend to think that I’d probably at least be in a more stable and established position if I had done so.  But really there’s no way to know what would have happened.  There are many people that I would never have met, and loads of experiences I would never have had.  I can’t help but come back to the Taoist parable that proclaims “Who knows what’s good and what’s bad?”  It may be pointless to even reflect upon, because at this stage, there’s no going back.

So again I am at this crossroads of trying to find somewhere I belong.  The most obvious aspect of this for anyone that I interact with is that of employment.  I need a job that pays decently and that is at least tolerable.  This one is probably also the simplest, while it’s taking long than I would have hoped, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until something works out.

Less obvious might be that I don’t really have a social group that I feel like I really belong in anymore.  Which isn’t to say that I don’t love and appreciate my friends here, it’s certainly not their fault that this is the case.  But I don’t have even one single (as in, not in a couple) friend here.  In the best of cases, it’s limiting.  This is where some of what I wrote about in my previous post comes in…  I need to be better at meeting people.  Even forging one connection with, say, another single dude, could help greatly in connecting with more people.  That said, I feel an itch to be elsewhere, which I suppose may or may not actually be scratched by actually being elsewhere.

All in all, I would say that at present I feel profoundly unfulfilled.  I have few local friendships, and virtually none of those are terribly active, I have no romantic prospects, ever since my contracted at BSW ended I’ve lacked fulfillment in a job as well, and now have plenty of time to think about all that lack of fulfillment.

I recently decided to start working on a novel.  It’s not a format that I’ve done very much writing in, but I want to give it a try at least.  It seems like a good creative outlet for me for the moment at least.  Hopefully it will provide at least a modicum of creative fulfillment once it really gets going.

Anyway, I have to figure things out and find my way to a point where I’m at least partially, and hopefully mostly, fulfilled.  It’ll probably take some time and some effort… but I’m sure I’ll get there.

Sorry for the depressing post, I promise it gets better from here!

There Isn’t Really A Word For It…

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
-Dr. Seuss

If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
-Timothy Ferriss

It’s insecurity that is always chasing you and standing in the way of your dreams.
-Vin Diesel

I think we all have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, whether it’s shyness, insecurity, anxiety, whether it’s a physical block, and the story of a person overcoming that block to their best self. It’s truly inspiring because I think all of us are engaged in that every day.
-Tom Hooper

I spent a while trying to come up with a word to describe what this post is about for the title in order to keep with usual modus operandi of simple one word titles, but I really couldn’t think of or find one, so it’s two posts in a row with multiple word titles.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are familiar with the fact that I recently decided I was going to deactivate my Facebook account and take a break for awhile, and then enacted that deactivation just prior to posting this.  I didn’t want to post about any of the reasons why on Facebook, but if you bothered to come here perhaps you are interested, and even if you aren’t, I consider this blog to be more for myself than for any of the very small number of people who read it.  Truthfully there are a lot of reasons, but I am only going to talk about one of them, at least for this post.  You’re probably not going to see the connection to Facebook at least at first…  but maybe you will by the time I’m done trying to explain it, if we’re lucky.

I’ve never been what I would describe as a self-confident person.  I would say that most if not all of the negative aspects of me probably derive from that fact.  One of the most negative aspects of me, in my opinion, is that I am dreadfully terrible at meeting new people.  The main reason for that is that I am terribly uncomfortable around people when I don’t know how they are going to react to me.  And for some reason, I tend to believe that they are going to react negatively to me.  I’m sure this is probably rooted in some childhood experience and is a behavior I’ve never managed to unlearn, but I would really like to.  But more so, I want to reach a point where it doesn’t matter as much to me whether they like me or not.  Not feeling that need to be validated (or really I guess not feeling the need to not be invalidated) would take the pressure off of me when dealing with people I don’t know.  If I am dealing with just one new person, or just a few among a group of friends, I can handle it much better than I can when thrown into a large group of unknowns.

The problem mostly dissipates on the individual level as I get to know a person.  I feel like I can safely assume that once I know someone really well, I don’t need to worry about that anymore.  Although I can’t give voice to why I should be worrying about it in the first place… not being liked/validated by someone shouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  However, I often find myself moderating some of my thoughts around people who I know disagree with me about things because I have grown to like them, and I fear that they will not like me if I give voice to my contrary opinions.  This is one of the key areas where I feel like Facebook has been problematic for me.

Additionally, I think that for someone such as myself who struggles with many social situations, Facebook can become kind of a social crutch.  Although it might be more accurate to re-appropriate the immortal words of Mitch Hedberg and say that Facebook isn’t a crutch…  “a crutch helps you walk, [Facebook] is like a step I didn’t see.”  Facebook is all about the illusion of social connections and it makes you kind of sort of feel connected to people when you really aren’t.  That’s problematic for me.

Even as I write this, part of me feels that I shouldn’t post it.  Some part of my brain is telling me that I’m running the risk of being invalidated and that is something that should be avoided.  But that is why I need to post this.  Maybe someone will think it’s pathetic… I mean, hey, that’s cool, I actually think it’s kind of pathetic too.  Who goes through as much of life as I have and is still this bad at interacting with people?

If/When (I assume I probably will, but I’m not committed to the proposition) I return to Facebook, I want for 2 things to be true.  First, I don’t want it to be a social crutch any more, preventing me from obtaining and maintaining more real relationships.  Second, I want to no longer fear receiving invalidation or hope for validation based on whatever I decide to post.

So hopefully this is the start of a path to becoming a better human being.


I am pretty good at being persistent with following my desires and ambitions for limited stints of time… which is a very positive sounding  way of saying that I am really bad at being persistent.

As an example, in a period of about 8 months I went from never having done much running (discounting another roughly year-long period where I did so regularly in college), to running my first 5K, and 10K, and half marathon, in marathon.  Then I slowly became less and less persistent, until I stopped running regularly and only did it sort of occasionally.

I have also gone through time periods where I have been really committed to writing, and time periods where, despite a desire to write things, I just don’t seem to be able to bring myself to do it.  It’s easy to simply decide that one doesn’t feel inspired… just as easy as it is to tell oneself that one doesn’t feel like running in fact.  To paraphrase some comedian who I’m too lazy to look up who it is right now…  It’s really hard to find the time to do something when you really don’t want to.

That may be a bit contradictory, but if it is, then it is.  I can’t say that I know the experience of other people, but I often find that I am in conflict with myself on any number of matters all the time.  In fact, that is part of why it is important that I spend time writing my thoughts down… If I don’t do so, then I am not going to work out my inner conflicts.

Yesterday I picked up a book entitled “A Writer’s Guide to Persistence”.  I am several chapters in, and it has been quite helpful to me thus far.  You see, if there is one thing that I know I need to develop if I really want to write, it is a consistent writing practice.  As it stands, I write when I feel inspired.  That might mean every day for a few weeks, and then maybe once or twice a month for a couple of months, or anywhere in between.  The reality is that not feeling inspired is just an excuse to not have to face the difficulty of really working things out.  It can also be a way of shielding myself from writing something that I think may elicit negative feedback, or simply to save myself from experiencing criticism because I am quite certain that much of what I have to offer is quite regular and boring and inconsequential.

I think that sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the things that we already know.  Often the way that I do that is to watch something that I find particularly inspiring, and so when I really don’t feel like I have anything worth saying to anyone, I watch my favorite movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  If that movie strikes such a chord with me, then there is at least one other person in the world who is also resonates with, and there are likely many others. If someone (Charlie Kaufman) can write from a place that resonates with me, surely I can write from a place that would resonate with him… which is not to compare my writing ability to his in any way, or to say that my voice would be exactly the same.  But, just feeling that some sort of potential is there is enough to inspire me to write SOMETHING, even if I know it’s probably not going to be as good.  Especially when I hear him say things that sound like he doubts his own abilities as much as I doubt my own.

The obvious truth that I manage to keep myself from grasping is that while in one sense my experience is unique, that does not mean it is not relatable.  While no one comes from the exact same set of experiences that I do, there are many who can relate to many or most of them, and would identify with my own struggles and pains and joys.  Therefore, there is someone out there that I have something to offer to, and so it seems to me that I should.

I am not sure how to ensure that I become persistent in my efforts to continue writing, other than to keep trying to be persistent, and whenever I fail to do so, simply try again… and so that is what I will do.  I know that I am better off writing than not writing, and so if I can let that be enough, perhaps I won’t even need to worry about whether or not anyone else thinks that what I have to say is worthwhile.

You Are Partly Right

Lately I’ve been slowly reading through a book called “The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh.  Why would I read such a book?  Well, because I often feel like I’m pretty terrible at accurately communicating my thoughts to people.  When it comes to the written word, when I have time to think about exactly what I want to say, it comes out pretty good most of the time.  But, there are instances where I feel helpless to communicate exactly what I am trying to say even then.  I tend to write very haphazardly as well.  While I’m writing a post such as this one, I will go back and insert a new sentence or paragraph here or there, or decide a different order works better and copy and paste things around.  So when it comes to speaking, where I only have one shot at it, I just am not as good.  I tend to hang on to whatever I have to say perhaps a little bit too long as I think it over before I actually say it.  I think this certainly CAN be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing.  At the very least I rarely blurt out anything that I immediately regret.

Anyway, I saw this book and was interested as I had found the only other book of his I had read “Living Buddha, Living Christ” to be pretty interesting, and so I thought it might be beneficial.  And I was right… although I feel like it hasn’t really addressed things I was expecting it to (at least not yet, I’m only about half way through.)
I like the idea he expresses that the goal of all communication should be to cause the other person to suffer less.  I’m not sure this should be applied to literally all communication, but certainly in most of our personal conversations with friends. family, and acquaintances this seems like a pretty good goal.  At the very least, being mindful of how your words are effecting those hearing them is a valuable thing.
Last night I read through a chapter on “mantras”.  If you aren’t familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh, he is a Buddhist, and so much of the book comes from a Buddhist perspective, though he often invites or suggests you think of things in other terminology if that suits you better.  In any case, he refers to these mantras as “magic formulas”.  I don’t know if he really means it in a literal sense, but if he does, and I get the feeling that he does, I don’t really agree with that.  However, I can see the benefit of all of them, and I could see how they could be something akin to a magic formula in terms of their being extremely likely to bring about a desired effect if used appropriately.
All of these mantras are simple phrases that are meant to be said to another person.  He starts with things like “I am here for you” and then, “I know you are there, and I am very happy.”  They are mainly about acknowledging the value of the other person and their importance to you.  Now, they also strike me as things that would often seem quite weird if carried out exactly as he suggests.  But I think the principles behind them are quite worth learning from.
He gives a total of 6 of these mantras, and the one that I found to be the most striking is the 6th one.  “You are partly right.”  This one is a bit different than the others, as it is meant to be said in reply to praise or criticism.  It’s about a balance between false humility and hubris.  Depending on the person, it can be easy to think very highly of one self to the point of arrogance, and for others, and I must admit I fall into this camp, it can be very easy to think very little of themselves, to the point of self deprecation.  This mantra is about recognizing and admitting the truth to yourself in either circumstance.  Whether the person sees good or bad in us: “You are partly right.  You know that I have other things in me too.”  He goes on to write “So we accept ourselves with all our weaknesses, and then we have peace.  We don’t judge ourselves; we accept.  I have these qualities and these weaknesses, but I will try to improve slowly, at my speed.  If you can look at yourself like that, you can look at others like that too, without judgment.  Even if that person has many weaknesses, he also has many talents, many positive things.  No one is without positive qualities.  So when others judge you wrongly, you have to say that they are partly right but they have not seen the other parts of you.  The other person only sees part of you, not the totality, so you don’t have to be unhappy at all.”
For some reason, it’s hard (for me at least) to give yourself credit for your positive qualities.  There is only a focus on the things that you’re not good at.  Then any time someone points out one of those things, it stings all the more.  This is definitely something I want to work on… to be mindful of the good things about me as well as the bad.  And then especially to recognize when someone else only sees part of me…  and then with that hopefully I will realize that I “don’t have to be unhappy at all.”