How I Got Here – Gains vs Loses

I lost it all. At least that’s how I felt.  No more steady high dollar income, no more life of crime, no more single life and no more steroids.

My life changed drastically 4 years ago. Some of the changes were voluntary, while others were forced upon me. Instead of appreciating what I would gain in my new life, I could only focus on what I no longer had.

My ex-girlfriend and I were moving in together to start a life as a family with her son. He was 3 at the time and I wasn’t going to allow him to be raised around a man who was selling drugs. He deserved better than that.  So I quit my lucrative profession of choice for the last 20 years and I had no idea what I was going to do.

Luckily, I had saved up a nice nest egg to make sure we would be well taken care of for a couple years. However, I totally lost perspective of that.  All I could think about was what in the hell was I going to do now.

I was lost and I certainly didn’t have the work ethic to go work for someone else. My ego told me that was beneath me.  I was an entrepreneur, so I had to figure out a way to be my own boss. It’s amazing what ego and arrogance can lead you to believe.

I was forced to give up using steroids because a scan found pool ball sized tumors on my liver. The doctors told me they were liver adenomas from using steroids and I had to quit using immediately. Two years later I found out they were cancerous and had be removed, but that’s a story for another time.

I had been using steroids off and on for the last 10 years. The last 2-3 years I used them continuously.  I was obsessed with how I looked and how “big” my muscles were. If I had to rank the importance in my life, it was in the top 3 things I cared about most.

Without steroids my muscles quickly diminished and my clothes no longer fit like they once did.  I would put on a shirt I used to love and have a meltdown complaining about how it used to fit.  I lost 15 pounds in a couple weeks. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without clothes on. (more…)

10 creative ways to squeeze writing into your day

If you’re anything like me, you’re always scrambling to find time to write.  I made a promise to myself I would write at least 200 words every day and see what happens.  I don’t always have the luxury to clear my schedule and sit down for an hour during the day and write without distraction.  So I had to get creative and use my “in-between time” to get my writing done.  Here’s the 10 best time’s I’ve found to write.

  1. In the sauna – I try to use the 10-15 minutes I spend in the sauna post workout to get some writing.  There’s some occupational hazards like your sweat falling on your jumbling up your words or your phone occasionally overheating.  But I have found a lot of good ideas come out when I am extremely hot and uncomfortable.  I’m actually sitting in the sauna writing this now.
  2. On the toilet – This is an obvious choice.  You’re going to be sitting there for a few minutes with your phone, why not write rather than scrolling through Instagram.
  3. At the end of your workday – I’m usually the last one at my office, so it’s quiet and there are no distractions.  I’m still in work-mode and haven’t been beaten down by the traffic on my commute.  This is also a good time for editing for me.
  4. Bedtime – When I crawl into bed at night I always have thoughts racing through my head.  Some are constructive, others are my insane ruminations.  Either way, writing helps me get to sleep by capturing those thoughts and emptying my mind.  I make sure to keep my phone near my bed so I can write down any ideas I get at night, because I know I will never remember them in the morning.
  5. Stuck in traffic – I don’t necessarily recommend this on for everyone, because it could be dangerous and illegal.  But I’ve been stuck in standstill traffic for 10-15 minutes and whipped out my phone and wrote.  I hate wasting time doing nothing.
  6. In between chapters while reading – I always get a ton of ideas while reading.  I jot them down and when I finish a chapter I try to make something out of my notes.  I use it as a reward for each chapter I read, because there’s times when I would much rather write than read.
  7. First thing In the morning –  Get those ideas out early and on paper.  Either while you’re still laying in bed or as part of your morning routine.  This is a very effective way deal with any anxiety you may be feeling about the day or you could use it to map out your daily goals.   Get it in front of you and see it for what it is.
  8. While at the dog park – It’s a little antisocial and I don’t want to neglect my dog, but on days she’s really into playing with other dogs, it gives me some time to get writing in.  When the weather is beautiful, it’s especially nice to be writing outside, taking in all that sunshine.
  9. In between sets at the gym –  I get 60-100 seconds between sets.   Normally I would be texting, checking SnapChat or a dating app. Instead, this gives me a time crunch to create something.  Sometimes a deadline can help get your ideas flowing.   Also,  its a reprieve from thinking about the physical stress your body is under and movement stirs up your ideas.
  10. While waiting – We all have empty spaces in our life, like at the barbershop, the DMV or before a meeting.  How often do you waste that time on social media or sitting there doing nothing? Why not use that time to write?  It helps control your feelings and emotions before a big meeting, like I’m about to have.  I write about my anxiety and fears regarding the meeting and how I may react. It’s a great prophylactic against blowing your stack.  I need that in my life.

And this is how I write

A friend of mine has been struggling with writer’s block and asked me about my writing process.  I never gave much thought to the mechanics of my writing.  Then as I was reading “Steal like an Artist,” I realized I do have a specific creative process.

  1. When an idea comes to me, I stop whatever I’m doing, open up the Notes App on my phone and write until I no longer have anything coming out of my head in a rapid fire manner.
  2. I would write by hand, but my handwriting is horrible and undecipherable.  Using my phone is my way of handwriting.  I feel a greater connection to my thoughts and feelings using Notes.  It’s almost a physical connection, I can feel myself purging what’s in my head.
  3. I let my ideas flow without judgment.  I don’t worry about grammar or spelling because that gets in the way of me capturing ideas freely.
  4. I Write all in one block.  No paragraphs.
  5. Once the words stop coming out easily, I stop and close the app.
  6.  I go back and add to it as things come to mind.
  7. I Email whatever I wrote to myself and post it into a draft on WordPress to work on later.
  8. I take that raw data in block form and try to create something usable out of my cluttered thoughts
  9. I post it to my blog, Medium or Facebook
  10. Repeat

I don’t like to write on my computer because it feels boring and robotic.  I look at a computer all day at work.  It lacks authenticity and shuts down my creativity.  The only purpose it serves for me is fine-tuning and posting the finished product.

So that’s it, that’s how I write

 

Modified Keto and Me

We all know carbs are fucking delicious.  Pizza, Swedish Fish, pasta; I want to rub them all over my body they’re so tasty. But I’m older and my body hates me when I start eating more than 50-100 carbs a day.  Most days I aim for less than 50, but I need a cheat day once every 10 days or so.

I thought my life would suck without carbs.  I figured I’d be starving all the time and miserable.  I mean, how often could I eat meat and nuts or chicken and avocado.  Turns out I can eat these meals way more than I thought without getting bored.

I love going out to eat and housing some delicious gourmet.  However, most of my meals I consume for fuel for my body, nothing more.  Consistently eating the same or similar meals actually makes eating for this purpose much easier and less time consuming.  Which is great for someone like me who’s short on time and indecisive.  Now, making decision about what to eat is no longer taking up space in my day that I can devote elsewhere.

There’s some obvious benefits to cutting carbs, most notably is fat loss. When you start a modified ketogenic diet, your body starts using ketones (fats) for energy instead of sugars.  You can peel off a lot of fat while maintaining lean muscle if you keep your protein and fat intake high.  Somewhere around 250-300g  of protein and 90-110g of fat for someone my size (215-220) seems to be a good starting point.  You can experiment by increasing or decreasing these macros depending on your body goals, but we will talk about that a little later.

It’s important to choose your fats wisely.  I stick to coconut oil, olive oil, whole eggs, avocado, cashews, walnuts, almonds, lean meats and occasionally some cheeses. (more…)

Context

As I walked out of my office to my car, I picked up my dog to put her in the backseat and I noticed someone had smacked into my rear bumper.  There was plastic on the ground from my headlight and my bumper was dented .  I walked around to in hopes of finding a note from the person who hit my unattended car.  I wasn’t shocked when when I didn’t find one.

Now I’m sitting at the auto body shop at 2:30 on a Thursday, waiting for the guy to come out of his meeting and give me an estimate.  I’m bored and annoyed because I have to be here dealing with this.  I had to come in here to do a bunch of shit I could have easily done over the phone with them.  My day could be filled with way more productive activities; who’s the asshole that decided this ridiculous process was worth anyone’s time?

Then it hit me. Why the fuck am I complaining about some first world problems?  My life’s real hard.  I’m getting an estimate for damage on my car when most people would be working.  My life allows me the freedom to take care of life’s annoying little inconveniences whenever I choose.  I make those decisions for me.

At face value, I should be super grateful and realize how fortunate I am to have the time and resources to take care of mishaps like this when they occur.  Others aren’t always that lucky.  My life’s a cakewalk in a lot of ways.

It’s all this kind of bullshit that so many people, including myself, allow to ruin our day or frustrate us.  But life happens, that’s just the way it is.  The sooner we learn that lesson and roll with the bullshit we’re dealt, the sooner we can get on with focusing on how great life is.

A couple of years ago I would have been pissed off and argued with the people at the shop for wasting my time.  Now I accept it and go about my day.  I’m not telling this to prove how mature and well balanced I am, because I’m certainly neither of those things.  I’m saying this to create perspective.

18 months ago I was laying in a hospital bed cut open from my sternum to my stomach, worrying if my cancer had spread.  Now im blessed enough to be here today being annoyed because I lost 20 minutes of my day.  Seems crazy to let this bother me when I frame the situation in that context.

Life’s bullshit will always get in our way, there’s no way around it.  Our problems scale depending on how severe they are and how capable we are of handling them.  The thing to remember is every problem is temporary, even the most serious ones.  Eventually circumstances will change and those problems will no longer be an issue.  Even the sickest person’s problems end once they pass on and become energy again.  That’s the cycle of life.

Stressing and being angry only robs any chance of happiness in the present and possibly the future depending on how we deal with it  Whatever it is, it will pass.  I forget all to often I had cancer 18 months ago.  Sometimes it’s nice to remind myself I’m going to die one day.  It forces me to live and experience all I can today.  That’s the purpose of life, to experience all that we can in the short time we have.  Good and bad, it all writes our story, it’s how life works.

Ambition is a Bitch

Sometimes ambition is a bitch. I often wonder if a life without ambition would be easier and happier. No stress from worrying about achievements.  No fear of not being enough or creating enough during your life.  No struggling to become more than you are right now.  Instead, simply being happy with where you are with no need to achieve more or be better.

Without getting philosophical or playing devils advocate about what ambition is to other people, I’ll use the dictionary definition for the sake of this post.  Ambition is defined as “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.”

I always viewed those who lacked ambition as lazy or ignorant.  Maybe that’s accurate.  Or maybe they are content with what they have.  Maybe they don’t need anything more than what they have right now to be happy.  It’s possible that people without ambition are able to be the most present and can enjoy life more than others who are working to be more in the future.

I met a guy in Costa Rica who seemed happier than most I know. He told me he had no savings and shared a small apartment with roommates. He didn’t own a car or any sort of transportation. He walked 15 minutes to work everyday from his little house in the jungle.

He had a menial job, from my perspective anyhow, working at the little hotel I was staying at.  He manned the front desk and occasionally helped out at the hotel bar. To paint an accurate picture, the hotel had 8-10 rooms; the bar had 3 stools and 5-6 tables on an outdoor patio.  It wasn’t like he was working at the Ritz-Carlton.

When I spoke with him he was cordial, funny, intelligent and easy to get along with.  During our conversation we briefly discussed careers and aspirations.  When I asked him what he would like to do with his life, he smiled and calmly said “this, why would I want to do anything else with my life. I have a roof over my head, food to eat and people to share my life with.”  Part of me judged him as being unrealistic and full of shit for giving me that answer.  While another part of me was insanely jealous because his answer seemed genuine.

Ambition can, at times, be the root of all my suffering.  Wanting to be more, achieve more, make more.  The constant feeling of needing to work harder to be better.  Being a Type A personality, it’s ingrained in my default setting.

However, ambition can also be the driving force of most of my happiness.  The feeling of making progress in life and bettering myself may be the most addictive drug in the world.  However, too often I allow my happiness and contentment to depend on that feeling.  Needing to always be more can leave me feeling incomplete and dissatisfied with my life. (more…)

It’s Really This Simple

I’m a little high and I got way too much sun today, but I’m pretty sure I realize how life works now.

I spent a lot of time on the beach today.  I had been pay attention to everyone surfing, trying to figure out what made some of them better than others.  I’m a wannabe, novice surfer at best, so I wanted to figure how I could get better.

The surfers who were really ripping it up were patient and perceptive.  They didn’t try to ride every wave they saw.  Most of them were out there for hours.  They didn’t look frantic or panicked trying to pop up on their board they way I did.   They took their time and choose the right waves for them, then took action.

After I was done surfing and watching the sunset on the beach.  I was walking back to my little “jungle hotel” and thinking about how life works. It came to me that life really boils down to three things: Action, choices and chances.  The more action you take, the more choices you make, the more chances you get at living the life you want.  I’m pretty sure the majority of life really is that simple.

Everyday we get out of bed, we decide how we are going to live our life for that day.  For me personally, if I lay around in bed half the morning, then fuck off for the next 90 minutes trying to pull my life together so I can go on with my day; I’m probably making the choice to be a piece of shit that day.  It doesn’t have to mean that, but usually it means my day is screwed and destined for jacking off and watching TV. (more…)

Your Trains Off the Track – What Doesn’t Work To Catch Up in Life

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There’s many reasons we fall behind. We’re sick, bored, depressed, busy with other aspects of our life.

Life has a way of kicking our asses even when we’re in a solid place mentally with our actions being consistent and congruent with what we want to accomplish.

Right now, I’m stagnant and falling further behind. I’m struggling to control my actions and emotions. I’m acting like a childish dick who lost his lunch money on taco day – What the fuck am I going to eat now!

I’m not sure why I’m in this slump. I’m uncertain of what will work to get my life back in order and on the tracks after I’ve derailed. However, I’m absolutely sure these things won’t help anyone play catch-up.

  1. Beating the shit out of yourself for being in your current position – This one is always they hardest for me to avoid. I can be very self deprecating and drive myself into a further hole with all the belittling self-talk. I have to get to a point where I say “Ok self, I’ve most likely made some really shitty decisions to get into the situation I’m in, I can’t change what’s happened, but I can work on making my future situation much more enjoyable and fruitful.” I have to stand up to myself and put the negative voices in their place in order to have the mental freedom to make progress.
  2. Rushing to get everything back together in a couple of days – This leads to more stress, aggravation and subpar output in your performance. When I rush, I end up having to redo the task down the road in order for it to be worthy of being considered complete.
  3. Forcing yourself to do the things you hate at the wrong times – Work on the things you are motivated to do at that time. If you’re forcing yourself to make sales calls when you really have the burning desire to create marketing materials, you will end up banging your head into the phone and your potential customers will sense that in your voice and tone. Prioritize your to do’s based off of what you can produce at the highest level of quality at this juncture.
  4. Continuing to remind yourself of how far behind you are – I get it! I’m not where I need to be. My life’s in shambles, I’m overwhelmed by list of to-do’s, I’m not sure what task to start with and I’m driving myself crazy over it. At this point, I need to politely tell myself to “Fuck Off” and pick ONE thing I have some motivation to do. As I work on that one item, I’m always surprised by how motivated I become to do something else. Especially when I’m really engaged and excited by the results of what I’m creating. It’s a process of moving forward; objects in motion, tend to stay in motion.
  5. Wasting time on your fucking phone – The answers you’re looking for aren’t on Facebook, Tinder, SnapChat or anywhere else on that productivity drain we call a smartphone. On numerous occasions, I’ve spent 45+ minutes sitting on the toilet (not actually going to the bathroom) checking out each social media app on my phone looking for answers and this is what I’ve found. Your news feed is full of idiots talking about shit they don’t understand, SnapChat is making you jealous of other people’s lives that appear to be much better than yours for the 10 second snap they recorded and the person your chatting with on Tinder will most likely be a giant disappointment because they don’t look like their pictures. There, I’ve just saved you an hour or more of your day by summarizing what you’re going to see every time you jump on social media. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to enjoy all these aspects of social media, but that time isn’t right now when you’re already down and behind on your life. Forget about that shit for a while and focus on what matters, YOU!

On Grandiosity

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Grandiosity may be the single biggest threat to my life. So many of the problems I have create for myself are rooted in grandiosity.  It’s a character defect which has decimated my relationships, my health and my finances.  Grandiosity is a little voice inside of me that tells me I am above other people and the outcome of my actions will always work out, for the simple fact that I am me.  Any factual data or empirical evidence that has proven me wrong in the past is overlooked and I ride blindly on my impulses, because this time will be different.

Grandiosity is like gambling.  My adrenaline pumps.  My head is filled with visions of success.  I know the house always wins in the end, but I put my chips up anyway.  Only to watch them dwindle down to nothing in front of my eyes.  I live for the rush and dread the crash.

My issues with addiction are in large part part stem from grandiosity.  I struggle with an overblown sense of invincibility because I’m certain the rules don’t apply to me.   I’ve told myself thousands of times I can use certain drugs without any consequences.  I play out these bullshit fantasies in my head where I I’m on top of the world, until I come down. Then reality sets in, along with disappointment, guilt and shame.

I never realized or understood how many of my actions were driven by grandiosity.  I dominate conversations.  I can’t wait for people to stop talking so I can talk about my favorite subject, me.  I fantasize about saving people and harming those who I feel have done wrong.  I try to bully others into doing what I want, regardless of how they feel, because I am the center of the universe and the my needs are more important.

So often I thought I was being selfless and helping others.  In reality, I was trying to control them by pushing my beliefs and values upon them.  In my mind, if others listened to me and blindly followed my instructions, everyone’s life would get much better because I know what is best for them.  When in fact, my need to control others comes from not being in control of myself.   How I can I drastically change someone else’s life for the better when I struggle to do it in my own life?

I was convinced I could drastically change peoples live’s in positive way.  They would find happiness beyond belief and receive everything they dreamed of, all because of me.  I saved them. I was their hero, their shining light.  It was all about me and no one else. (more…)

Turn Down the Noise

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My natural instinct is to distrust everyone.  If you give me a compliment, I think you’re lying and want something from me.  If a girl sends me a picture, I ask who else she sent them too.  If you pitch me a business deal, more than likely I assume you want to rip me off.

I find myself becoming insecure over the littlest things lately.  Everyone is out to get me.  My business partners want to screw me, friends are lying to me, women are holding things back from me.  It’s an insane amount of paranoia.  I haven’t been this far off the mark in a long time.  It’s addict behavior at it’s finest.

My mind is going a million miles a minute trying to figure out every angle every person is playing.  I waste more time in a day playing out these insane, nightmare scenarios in my head than I spend on making my life better.

I want instant gratification.  If I don’t get immediate results something must be wrong.  I want to control everything and everyone.  My thoughts are racing and I can’t find peace.

That’s when I know it’s time to take a step back and slow down.  I can’t  have any serenity when I can’t be in control of my thoughts and actions.  I needed to write this post as a reminder of how to get myself grounded again.

There are only a few ways I know how to silence my evil master (my mind). (more…)