I haven't really reached any level of success just yet, but when I do, I will attribute most of it to getting up early (4:30 am). Especially now, as I am in ramp of mode of multiple businesses, a full time job, and a family, 4:30 am allows me time to write, process life, and work before anyone else even considers waking up.
The video below shares some of the same thoughts.
Are you an early riser?
If you are like me, December is a month of making memories and reflecting. I tend to treat the entire month of December as an opportunity to reflect on the previous 11 months in order to set goals for the coming new year. So, in that spirit, I created a simple reflection and writing guide for you to use. It offers you an opportunity to look back at the past year, with a new focus each day in December (starting a few days behind since I am sharing this on the 5th).
The exercise is simple. Download the image file linked below and save it to your computer, or print it. Then, each day, whenever you have time, look at the prompt for that day’s date, and simply write down the thoughts that come to mind when you think about, say, “family” in 2016. Write down your thoughts, reflect, and think about your goals “family”, or whatever the topic is, in 2017.
I’m giving this away for free, and without asking for your email address. ’Tis the season :-)
If you like this, please share this post with your friends and family. Buttons are below to make sharing easy.
I hope you enjoy this exercise!
“You should call me beautiful,” Lindsay said with a smile, “you always used to call me that.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “back when I was in high school and I had zero responsibilities other than keeping my grades in the safe zone, writing you love notes, and lifting weights.” I shifted my gaze to the floor. “Now all I seem to focus on is making as much money as possible.”
Then I made a statement that she did not necessarily agree with, but I believe is true for most guys who are like me:
In high school we do nothing but look forward to what is next and how to get there.
In our adult life, once we have aged 10-12 years from graduating high school, we try to determine how to create the time we had in high school while maintaining the income we and our families have come to expect and need.
In high school I was hardly making any money. I always hustled at something, but the money was never in massive payouts. In high school I had a lot of time.
I was rich in time.
Fast forward 12 years since graduating and I hustle just as hard, make a lot more money, but have little to no time. Now I am rich in money, but poor in time.
Time is what we all want (ok, maybe not all of us, but a majority of us). A longer life, a longer day, a longer time having coffee chatting with someone special to us, more time to read that good book, etc.
And now, in our adult lives, the only way to create more time is to first create more money.
More money, if created wisely (i.e. in a way that is creating passive and residual income streams) will afford us the opportunity to spend our time the way we want to spend our time.
For me, this means looking backwards.
In high school, in my late teens, I feel and believe that I had hit the sweet spot in my personality, character, and being. Sure, there were some aspects that were off, and they were corrected, but, for the most part, my late teen years are years I long for.
I had time to create. To think. To read. To love. To write.
It was also a time of simplicity. A time where the K.I.S.S. principle was in full effect for me (Keep It Simple Stupid). And that KISS principle allowed my mind and body to be in a place of extreme vigor, to which I desperately want to return.
And that brings me to the simple and silly exchange I had with my wife at the top of this post.
I do need to call her beautiful more often (that’s what I called her in high school instead of using her name) and I certainly don’t need to wait until I have created more money to do so.
But the line of thinking, of stopping to think why I don’t call her beautiful more often, brought me full circle to what I have been working so hard to do for the past year and completely validated the time (and money) I am spending now so that I can have more time (and money) in the near future.
To be frank, I am trying to think of a take away for you, as the reader.
I don’t want to be one of those writers that only writes to self-examine, but I do think that there may be times when that is just as valuable as a more direct approach to writing directly to you.
Because at the end of the day, I write because I need to write. And I hope, that through my writing, you will find something of value that you can take away and use to make your life better, funnier, happier, or all of the above.
Question and Answer (in the comments)
Maybe I’ll just ask a question, and let the words above make the point, whether directly or indirectly. What is something you want more of in your life? And as a follow-up, what daily actions are you taking to achieve that?
Click the like button below if you enjoyed this, leave a comment if this inspired any thoughts, and certainly share if you think this would be enjoyed by someone you know.
But, most importantly, have an awesome day!
To be more precise, I feel like a terrible dad.
I wrote yesterday about how being a parent sucks. And I stand by that. It does, for so many different reasons. One of them being that sometimes what you, the parent, think is the right thing to do turns out to be the exact opposite and is the worst thing you could do.
Well, maybe not the worst, but it is in that general area of things.
Yesterday was Sunday. Which means rushing around the house to leave so that we get to church before the service ends. Due to this rushing, Sunday mornings typically lead to conflict of somekind with Mozzie.
Which is exactly what happened yesterday.
One more thing to set the stage.
I have this thing about my things.
I have them in a certain place and don’t want them to be moved from that place unless I am the one doing the moving.
Mozzie, being a three year old boy who loves everything about life, thinks that my things are awesome (even if they are just books).
His feelings about my things, and my feelings about my things, do not mesh well.
So with the Sunday Morning Rush, and the Don’t Touch My Stuff attitude I have towards my nightstand, in mind…let’s proceed.
I jump out of the shower. Quickly get dressed, mold my hair, apply cologne and other things to produce a positive scent, and rush out of the bathroom into our bedroom…
My nightstand looks like it has been robbed.
The cabinet door is hanging open, and the drawer is pulled out.
My Field Notes notebooks are scattered on the floor. Not good. Don’t touch my Field Notes.
I look in the bottom cavity of the nightstand where I keep a few books and see that it is emptied entirely except for a few bed sheets.
I take a few deep breaths and walk out of the room.
Mozzie is in our family room with my books. He is lining them up on the coffee table, muttering something about a library.
I walk over, and without a single word, collect all of the books and walk away.
He bursts into tears and I tell him not to touch my things (number one), and (number two) that he needs to focus on getting his pants on so we can go to church.
Fast forward 10 hours or so.
I find out from my lovely wife that Mozzie wanted to play pretend library with me. Not only that, he rummages though my things because he wants to be like me. He doesn’t do it to disobey or be annoying, she said. He is just using his imagination.
Remove my stomach and toss it to the dogs.
Cut out my heart and stomp on it.
a**hole parent I am.
I felt terrible. And of course he was already in bed for the night, with burns on his hands from the stove incident earlier in the day.
So here’s what I plan to do: when he wakes up this morning I am going to apologize profusely for being the worst parent ever. I am also going to tell him he can go through my nightstand whenever he wants to (I may have removed a few things permanently that I don’t want him touching). And finally, I want to play pretend library with him before I leave for work this morning.
And the big take away for me, and maybe for you if you can relate to anything above, is to just freaking relax and gain some perspective about things before reacting. This is advice Lindsay gave me last night after telling me what Mozzie was really doing with the books.
She said, “Before you freak out, ask him what he is doing.”
Ok. Can do. And will do.
Now I just need to get my stomach and heart back.
I don’t want to sugarcoat this, because I feel like it is sugarcoated all to often. Being a parent sucks.
It is hard. It is frustrating. It is overwhelming. It is not rewarding (at least not at the moment). It is uncharted territory for each new mom and dad (and no one can provide the adequate heads up that is needed).
We have a very active 3 year-old boy. His name is Mozzie. And he is crazy. Maybe not literally, or clinically, but he is all over the place. Some days he is a gem, other days, seemingly for no reason at all, he is a terror.
The past few days have been a roller coaster of his good days and bad days. And to be frank, it hasn’t been fun at all. For me as the dad, or for my wife, as the mom. Neither one of us enjoy this particular stage of his life.
Well, she may more than I do. She’s the mom. Moms have hearts. Dads just want their kids to listen and do well. At the age of 3, just listen to what I tell you to do and you’ll be off to a great start.
So it is probably more me than her. But I still want to write this, and will publish it so that other dads out there who are in their low 30’s with one or more kids under the age of 4 can know they are not alone.
And if you are a dad who thinks life is great and you always wanted to have kids, don’t say anything. You are truly lucky to have such a bright outlook on parenting. Good for you. Drink your wine and keep quiet.
To the other dads, the dads like me, who are struggling with being a parent, hear this: it doesn’t get easier. Not in my experience. Hang on. And hang in there.
Today, for example, Lindsay was making a sheet of simple Christmas cookies.
Great idea. What a treat on a cold November day, Christmas cookies!
Then Mozzie burned his hand on the stove after hitting it in a fit of rage because I turned the oven light off.
The burner was hot, because it was used a few minutes earlier for making lunch.
So he burned his hand when he hit it.
The cookies were finished 7 minutes later. But now I had the very pungent smell of peppermint on my hands because we were trying all sorts of remedies to help take the burn away from his hand.
Christmas cookies and all of the drama that they bring with them.
So yes, at the moment, being a parent sucks. Maybe it will get better in the future, but for right now I am resigned to the fact that it will get worse before it gets better.
Happy Holidays :-)
Writing Prompt: Write a thank-you note for a weekend visit where everything went wrong. Dude,
Last weekend. Don't worry about it. We all had a blast even though the dog decided to shit on the coats. We got a big laugh out of it, especially when we piled into your golf cart to that fancy French restaurant. And really. I know that you wanted to pay for dinner but completely understand that you had to get cash out first to pay the waitress for what happened last time. What happened then anyways? Topic for another time I guess.
He couldn't stop staring out the window. Instead of drinking his coffee and reading the book he picked up from the library, tomorrow's events had him biting his nails.
Apps. Phones. Computers. Tablets. Electronic books. Computer in your pocket. Always having access to virtually unlimited knowledge (i.e. Google). Never getting lost. Never unavailable.
What do we end up with after living life like this for so many years? Nothing but digital records.
This is something I'm beginning to have a problem with.
We are living in a time where having control over technology isn't even a thought. Instead, we always seem to be on the lookout for ways to have technology control us. I'm afraid we are beginning to lose touch with the Tangible Life.
More on this to come.
Quick food for thought today: If you have something nice to say, say it.
If you are happy to see someone, say so.
As you go through you super hectic days and focus on your never ending to-do list, don't forget that at the end of the day we all have one thing in common: we are humans. And since we have that in common most of us need to hear positive things every once in a while (some more than others, some less than others). You don't know what they need to hear or when they need to hear it.
So, if you have something nice to say, say it. If you are happy to see someone, say so. You just might make their day.
His life was boring. His hair was blond and messy. His doctor told him he was overweight, which may be true, he thought. His girlfriend never called, which he found to be suspicious. His parents never called, but they did call all of his other siblings, and his job had him traveling from town to town. Every town in the state for three years and counting. The reason for traveling, they told him, was to meet with the shoe makers in every town. "Shoe makers?" he asked his manager three years ago.
"Yep, shoe makers."
"But," he paused, looking at his shoes, "does every town have a shoe maker?"
"Probably not," his manager took a sip of his coffee and glanced at his computer monitor.
"Then why do I need to go to each town to find the shoe maker?"
"So we can update our shoe maker database."
So that's what he did. Traveled from town to town, looking for the shoe maker, so his company could update their database.
Someone else may have enjoyed all of the traveling, but he did not. The company car was outdated, his suitcase was too small, and the motels were never comfortable.
He was miserable. And bored. And standing in line at a post office. Which added to his boredom. The girl in-front of him was chewing what sounded like ten pieces of gum, and the guy behind him kept grunting. Bored and stuck between two annoying people.
Bored until the man in a black trench coat walked into the post office.
He was standing in line, facing the sliding glass doors that separated the boring line to the counter from the lobby. The man in the black trench coat walked into the post office lobby and turned right. He has a P.O. Box, he thought to himself. He found people who owned P.O. Boxes to be suspicious people, up to no good and all of them contract killers.
The man in the black trench coat walked past the first section of boxes, then turned left, out of sight, into the second section.
He imagined the man in the black trench coat inserting his key, pressing his thumb against the finger print scanner that appeared once the key was verified, and then swinging the locked door open to get his next mission.
He was looking for smoke to appear from the message self-destructing, when the man in the black trench coat came into view again and went straight to a high table that was set against the wall.
The man in the black trench coat was standing still now, so he was able to get a better look at him. The man in the black trench coat had black hair, a black trench coat, black dress pants, and black shoes. Even his phone was black. Definitely a contract killer.
The man in the black trench coat proceeded to tear a few letters in half without opening them (I guess even contract killers get junk mail). All but one piece of mail was thrown into a blue container. The one piece of mail that was important was slid into an inside pocket of the trench coat or maybe a black suit coat he had on underneath the trench coat. Whatever it was must have been important.
Instead of turning to leave, he went to the third section of PO Boxes. He has two PO boxes! He was out of sight for a few seconds, then returned to the same table and placed a large envelope on the top. The envelope wasn't flat, but had a noticeable bulge running down the middle.
The man in the black trench coat opened the package. Took out the object, quickly examined it (a white tube...), and shoved it into the side pocket of his trench coat. He threw the envelope into the blue container, and turned to walk out of the PO Box area of the Post Office.
The man in the black trench coat walked into the lobby, stopped in the center, and looked directly at him. The line hadn't moved, so he looked back. The man in the black trench coat reached into the left pocket of his trench coat, He's got a gun!, and pulled out a packet of cigarettes. He watched as the man in the black trench coat put a cigarette into his mouth, and returned the packet to his pocket. Then, the man in the black trench coat reached into a pocket on the inside of his trench coat, now he's got a gun!, and pulled out a gold Zippo lighter.
The man in the black trench coat tilted his head down, breaking eye contact, and lit the cigarette with his gold Zippo lighter. Bringing his head back up, the man in the black trench coat snapped the lighter shut, looked back up at him, and winked.
If I take five second of time, and think back to the first time I felt a desire to create something, I only go back twelve years. Approximately twelve years ago, maybe closer to eleven, I was a junior in high school. I was in "honors english" and loved to read and write, which holds true today. That five seconds of thinking takes me back to a night that I couldn't sleep. I had an idea. A story. And nothing I did to try to sleep was working. I had to write, otherwise I wouldn't get any sleep before my alarm went off the next morning.
I had a desk in my bedroom, located at the foot of my bed sometimes, or somewhere else, in a different arrangement of the furniture, at other times. That night I rolled out of bed, shuffled over to my desk, turned on my desk light, pulled out a spiral bound notebook and a pen, and began to write. I'm not sure how long I stayed up writing that night, but I wrote what I had to write, closed the notebook, turned off the light, and laid back down in bed to sleep, which came quickly.
The next morning I remember waking up with a foggy memory of the previous night. After getting out of bed I went over to the desk and flipped open the notebook, reading the first few lines of what I wrote. It wasn't that bad, actually. Not for writing it on a whim.
That week I would spend time at school and after school cleaning up the story. Adding details, removing details, and going through what I thought was an extensive editing process. Once I had it cleaned up I came up with a title, Freedom Shot, and a subtitle of One Shot. One Man. One Country's Freedom.
My english teacher, Mrs. Neis, loved it. She would always cheer my fiction writing, and criticize my analysis of Shakespeare. I turned the finished product in for extra credit (103% applied as two test grades) and for her red pen. This is the one and only copy I still have. The soft copy might be on an old hard-drive somewhere, but finding the hard drive may be difficult.
This is a time that I remember having an urge to create something. An urge that I could not quiet until acted upon.
The story I wrote did not stop there. In the same manilla office folder is another story called Freedom Shot. It has the same subtitle, but instead of saying "A Short Story" it says "A John Gloove Adventure." Apparently I wasn't finished with the story. This too was turned in and graded. And also marked up with Mrs. Neis' red pen.
Maybe Freedom Shot and John Gloove is an adventure that will be revisited. Maybe not. The point is that something was created. And that's all that really matters.
A lot of times we do things for ourselves. I am the main reason I do this thing or that thing. Human nature is to not really care about what other people want, but to care about what I want. This, over time, will cause friction between you and the people around you. This is something that I have been reflecting on the past few weeks, especially when it comes to family: the relationships you are stuck with. And I don't mean that is a negative way, stuck is just a way to emphasize the reality of family relationships. Your parents are your parents. Your siblings are your siblings. Same with Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Unless you die or move to another country, these are the relationships that you will always have. My advice: make these relationships the best relationships possible.
Now, I realize there are some parents that suck. And that sucks. I also realize this is true for every other member of your family and extended family. And that all really sucks. I am also not naive enough to think that 100% of families have zero problems. Families have problems, for sure, some problems are serious others not so serious. Assume that this post is reflecting on the not so serious problems.
Problems caused by pride, by stupidity, by a single family member. Problems that can all be dealt with fairly easily, but if not dealt with can cause years of, what seems like, absolute misery.
Another thing I know is that you can't control other people. Really the only person you have control over is you. And like I said at the top of the post, you, by the nature of your humanity, only care about you. Here's what you need to do when it comes to family: don't care so much about yourself.
If you are a son or daughter: care more about your parents. If you are a sibling, care more about your other siblings. If you are an Aunt or Uncle: care more about your nieces and nephews. If you are a Grandparent: care more about all of your family. If you are a husband or wife: care more about the other person in your marriage (and your in-laws!). If you are a father or mother: care more about your children.
Care more about the other people and less about yourself. This will do two things: 1) the other people will be happier and everyone will just get along much more than usual, and 2) you will be happier.
It's a weird thing, not caring about yourself. You end up being happier as a result. So do this today. If you have contact with any family members, don't care so much about yourself, but care about them more and see what happens. I think it will go better than you may think. :-)
BIG TIME DISCLAIMER: By writing this I am not professing perfection in the area of selflessness when it comes to relationships. Not by a long shot. Doing something like this, I believe, will be a lifelong effort and principle to always be reminded of. By posting this I am simply reflecting on recent experience and how I believe practicing the above is the key to a happy family life.