Category Archives: Personal Growth

Time Stand Still

I can’t help but notice the deliriously ignorant approach my 3-year-old takes towards time. Being 41, even in the contemporary “40 is the new 30” mentality, I am far right on the bell curve – perhaps several standard deviations from the average age an adult human is a parent to someone 39 months of age. Most of my friends, even the “smart” ones (just kidding) have pre-teens, tweens or even teenagers. I have a very close friend that is a grand-uncle. Yikes!!!!

Back to time…..

I guess the fascination rests on two things I noticed today playing catch in the pool with Fisher.

First of all, is that these little folks really do live in the “Now”. We talk about living in the “Now” all the time. But these little people really do. Just stop and watch and listen: “I want to go to McDonald’s”, “I have to go potty”, “I want to go to the beach”, “I am hot”, “I am tired”, ” Are we there yet?” Rhetorically inscribed in all of these declarations (and questions) is literally The Power of Now. But are they all selfish comments from a toddler? Or the gargantuan chants of a Buddha?  In the now…. Interesting thing to ponder. What is the opposite of living in The Now? Responsibility? A stop watch? Calendars? 9-5??? Who said Time is a Healer??? Time is killing us….

Another observation, a confirming observation because this is something I have thought about for a long time, is that, as Einstein confirmed and proved – Time is truly relevant. At what age do we stop wishing we are older, wishing we are younger and as I recently did, take out a calculator and figure out how many hours I (statistically speaking, on average) have left to live??? It has taken exactly one hour and 17 minutes for my Fisher to eat lunch (and he still isn’t finished) – a rather large percentage of my statistical life. It is 85 degrees outside and not a cloud in the sky. And now it is nap time. He doesn’t care because he has x number of perfect days left to enjoy. I have far less.

But, every day with Fisher is a perfect day and I just wish time could stop. Time, please stand still or at the very least….take a freaking break once in a while….Jeez, some of of us are trying to live around here…………..

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SEO Your SEO (Social and Emotional Optimization)

Optimized Search for Personal Optimization? Huh? Looks like Temple University may have taken one of the first serious looks into how Social Media Networking may benefit those suffering through some tough times: Find Emotional Help on Social Sites. Sound familiar? This has been my thesis since I was able to lose 50 pounds in less than a year using Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, et al. It is the crux of this very blog. Losing weight was a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. It starts to get a little bit fuzzier if you have someone say that just got separated and is heading towards a divorce; how to apply the SMART principles in this situation may not be so cut and dry – it is much more than reaching a goal. I am a firm believer, however, that Social Media can be used to help develop definable and attainable goals no matter what the difficulty or challenge may be or at the very least bring us closer to what we want and move us further away from what we don’t. Now, for people with gross mental health issues like suicidal thoughts or extreme substance abuse issues, professional help and medication may certainly be the answer. I am not advocating ditching your Dr. and using the Internet as a sole substitute for any professional medical advice. Nor do I advocate a hermetic lifestyle where Facebook replaces traditional social stomping grounds such as the playground, local bar or bingo hall.

However, it is a Social Network and may prove a valid vehicle compensating for the diaspora in which we all live in this post-modern chaos, with grandparents living 1000 miles away, siblings 1000 the other way, friends from college off in new states with new friends and families, divorces, new unions, where half- and step- and -in law get so confusing they just get dropped. Point being, the traditional, socially nurturing network has slowly but surely been being destroyed over the past 50-75 years. But in its place is something else, something new and something actually pretty cool and exciting. Skype puts grandma right back into the living room. Twitter puts 1,000,000 sufferers of the same physical ailment from which you are suffering a click away. Facebook creates a high school reunion on a daily basis. Your parents had a tough time keeping after you when you were a teenager and probably didn’t even care so long as you made it home safely, but today corporations KNOW where you are, what you bought, who you are with… Certainly a brave, BRAVE, new world! It’s not going away, so lets learn how to use it and embrace it as the tool it was imagined up to be.

In less than two months since I started “in11months” I have learned an incredible amount from an astronomical quantity of people. Imagine if I had to pay $20 (my physician’s visit co-pay) to every person I learned something from over the past month. A back (of the back) of an envelope calculation tells me I am tens of thousands of dollars in the hole. Thank you everyone!!!! Yes even Mr. Sheen gave us #Winning which right now, thanks to all the folks on Twitter, I believe I am!!!


Parking Lot Prayer – Bird Brained?

This morning I pulled into my company’s parking lot and stopped the car and began to pray. This “Parking Lot Prayer” is a new practice I recently started mainly since embarking on “in11months”. In this new morning tradition, I usually ask God to give me strength to get through the day at this job in which I work in your typical Dilbert-esque cubicle world with no windows (added bonus – there is also an actual factory attached!). In addition, I ask him to give me guidance so that I can find and follow my passion, be a better person and lead a better life. Today I specifically said, “God, give guidance so that I may be nearer to you, so that the work that consumes me puts me with you at all times and doesn’t separate us.” Referring to the fact that I have to go inside this building with no windows all day long without any connection whatsoever with the natural world and rendering me nearly spiritually impotent. Just as I uttered that request, everything went kind of dead for a second and all I could hear was the sound of the huge fan exhaust system that blows the fumes of chemicals from our plant outside and then suddenly out of nowhere I heard the chirps of hundreds of birds, beautiful little chirps not distinguishable but certainly some type of shorebirds. I felt a warm sensation come over my body like static electricity and a voice inside my head said “Like this? Do you want to hear this? Listen to the birds singing? Do you want to listen to this?” “Yes!, yes!!!, yes!!!!! of course!!!!,” I said out loud. This is exactly what I want to be listening to and experiencing. And the first thing I thought of was that I AM a photographer. Why couldn’t I get back into photography…nature photography….and that way I could be “working” and spending time with God. Then, all of a sudden the sound of the beautiful chirps surrendered and the obnoxious hum of industry hustled its way back into my conscience. But on my way into the building as I was fumbling for the key fob for the back door of the building, I once again gave one last sigh and asked God for strength to get me through the day. And then from nowhere the chirps were summoned and I looked up into the sky and there they were. A whole flock of birds I do not commonly see…in fact I had to look them up and I believe they were Swallow-tailed Kites. Still not sure…but they were magnificent and they flow over me about 50 feet and sang their song – which by the way I believe most people would have thought sounded more like a bunch of angry shrills from disgruntled seagulls. But these were not common seagulls and to me they were operatic.

Well, this “experience” doesn’t end here….

Later in the morning I had to research something and pulled up Google and I couldn’t believe my eyes!!! Google’s logo (Google Doodle) today was an image of a group of American birds all perched on branches.

Today, as it turns out is John James Audubon’s birthday!!! Audubon was a French-American ornithologist who spent much of his life in Pennsylvania (very close to where I grew up in Pennsylvania!!!!), studying birds extensively and creating original drawings of his field observations. How weird………..

See: http://www.audubon.org for more information.


Soon to be in 10 Months!

Ok, it has been nearly a month since I started down this road “in11months” so now we are ticking down to 10 months. At first glance, judging from my blog entries it may appear as though not too much has been done or accomplished. However, I have made a lot of progress on Twitter and have spent an enormous amount of time and energy learning and starting to develop relationships with people that are either in the same boat or are coaches or mentors. I “follow” almost 1000 twitter accounts which is just insane – many people follow tens of thousands. This is like 5-20 new tweets coming in every second. Impossible to keep up with, so I have gotten very good at skimming really fast for something that looks good. Long story short, most of my efforts have been concentrated on Twitter and not so much on this Blog. But I am going to swing that back around now and start laying down the groundwork.

The most important components of my challenge are:

1) Making more money – not asking to be a millionaire, but I am making what I made 11 years ago which, because of inflation, means I am way worse off at 41 then I was at 30. I just got a 2% raise (the highest possible at my company) – inflation will probably run at 5% at least this year. So my standard of living will decrease about another 3% this year. I am worth far more than what I am paid. This was a fantastic job that fell in my lap at the right time when I needed a job – when Jenny and I separated. But even if my salary went up 25% or even 50%, it really wouldn’t matter…I need something else in my life now.

2) I want flexibility. Having already owned a retail store/business for many years I know what it is like to have your own business. The hours are long but they are yours. I need a job where I set my own hours. Right now I get 10 days of vacation – no sick days and no personal days and 5 holidays. I would like to have more time to travel, spend with family and be able to enjoy my many hobbies. Not that I am not willing to work my butt off, but I also need more flexibility and time off. I am also an outdoors person. Being indoors all day for 9 hours sitting down (very unhealthy) in front of an LCD screen just does not float my boat – it borders on torture. Not that I need constant up time either. I like the mix. When I was a professional photographer I had shoots where I was running around outside like a maniac and then the processing stage in front of the computer. It mixed things up nicely.

3) Most importantly, I need to be working on something I am highly passionate about. If you enjoy what you do it isn’t working. I have many passions – to a fault. And this is the crux perhaps of what in11months is all about. It isn’t so much “finding” a passion in my case. It’s picking one and sticking with it. And picking the one that is going to give me the best bang for the buck. Putting all limiting thoughts behind, I think I can be good and successful at any one of them. But I do allow some doses of reality settle in and I do need these reality checks – but without allowing them to be controlling, self-defeating, limiting beliefs.

So in conclusion: A time flexible job, making decent money doing something I love to do! Is it really that hard??? Why is this so seemingly challenging to create for myself?


“A New Life”

A new life, what I wouldn’t give
To have a new life
One thing I have learned as I go through life
Nothing is for free along the way

A new start, that’s the thing I need
To give me new heart
Half a chance in life to find a new part
Just a simple role that I can play

A new hope, something to convince me
To renew hope
A new day, bright enough to help me
Find my way


Push Me Off This Cliff Please

I have read so many self-help books and find it pervasive in Positive Psychology and in LOA (The Secret) and  Joel Osteen and Oprah and in so many Blogs that I read: “Get over what you have been told about yourself, the limiting thoughts….ultimately the fear that is holding you back from achieving and ALL of your dreams and everything else will magically fall in place!” What I don’t see much of is how do you actually accomplish this monumental task of getting over your fear. Its kind of like telling someone who is depressed to snap out of it. Or someone that is afraid of the dark to get over it. There has to be a a step-by-step manual to take someone through the “letting go” process which needs to be written by someone that was once scared, took the leap and landed in success or whatever it was that they were after. One thing that I have worked with lately that has stretched my capabilities and helped me to accomplish more has been this simple formula: pain<reward. The pain is less than the reward. This is of particular use for procrastinators like me.

Well, what I am really after is a book that takes the reader step by step through the process of building the confidence and shedding the fear in order to take that giant leap forward – off the cliff if you will  – into the world of fulfilling your wildest dreams. Anyone have any suggestions?


Now I Want to Stay

About a year ago Stacy literally took me kicking and screaming into a YMCA to work out. I did not want to go!!! I did not want to be there and while I was there I was counting the minutes…seconds….until I could get out of there. I had been working out, but it was in my condo complex gym which was usually empty and not filled with sweaty people, testosterone and gym smell. OK, I sound whiney, but I really am not a gym guy. I like to get my exercise playing sports or doing sport like activities like rollerblading or biking or kayaking or swimming or tennis…you get the picture. Stacy dragged me many more times to the gym and I still wasn’t with her program. Finally we joined a really nice club on Harbor Island in November. I figured that spending that kind of money would force me to go…which it did. I still was in the “practice” of only going with her (until recently), but I slowly started to enjoy it more and more and the desire to get out of there definitely dissipated. Last night, for the first time I can honestly say, I was definitely more jazzed about going than she was and DEFINITELY didn’t want to leave. We were lifting weights and she came and found me and said, “I am going to start abs now, do you want to join me?” This is the step we do right before hitting cardio upstairs on the treadmills. I was thinking, “Abs? I just got here!” And I said that to her. I did some quick power lifts and had to skip the abs because by the time I was done with that she was on her way upstairs. The half hour power walk felt like 5 minutes…. You can teach an old dawg new tricks!!! Besides, I couldn’t possibly let my 5′ 0, 100lb lady out-lift and out-run me….could I????

My current club: Harbor Island Athletic Club and Spa