Minecraft is Mind Melting

I watch 7 year old Loudboy melt his brain these days while playing the game Minecraft. This is a relatively new phenomenon for us, less than a couple months old, but is all encompassing at this point.

If you don’t know what Minecraft is, it’s like an open world sandbox Lego toybox with graphics straight out of the 1990’s (circa-DOOM):

Minecraft screenshot

Minecraft screenshot

Doom screenshot

Doom screenshot

The boy paid I think $5  with his allowance for the real version that you can play on the iPad and is obsessed. You can build things, mine blocks with a pickaxe, mix different things you collect together to make new things, and even do some RPG-esque things like create new weapons or armor to battle NPC bad guys. His sister isn’t as obsessed, but plays a little and helps. They’re constantly chattering about emeralds or diamonds or obsidian or creepers. I’m not sure when the tidal wave of popularity started gaining steam, but Microsoft recently acquired the Minecraft creator Mojang AB for $2.5 Billion – billion with a “B.” For what looks to me like simple block world. Presumably to access the 33 million users of the game.

So right now we have to keep a close on this addiction or many days that would be all he’d want to do. Melting his brain, as I tell him, but I see there are things he’s learning. Economics, money and resource management, architecture, strategy, creativity, and work sharing (with other people on the multi-player version). When we finally kick him off, we’ll find him watching YouTube Videos of people playing minecraft – for hours if you let him. Or if you go into full electronics lockdown, he reads the minecraft books he bought at the book fair. All encompassing.

So we create boundaries on how much he can play or watch videos, make sure he’s doing his other activities he’s involved with (including playing outside with friends), and let him have fun in bursts. Then we make him get off and play with his dang Legos instead (I say that in jest, but only half so). There are some elements to role playing games with upgrading of armor and healing potions, and I actually think that stuff is pretty cool and I was into those games (including videogames – Final Fantasy anyone?) when I was a kid.

Maybe his strong interest in Legos and Minecraft will lead to something like Google Sketchup (a free CAD program) or programming or engineering? His builds in both Legos and Minecraft are very impressive. There are a lot worse things we could be letting him do, or games he could be playing (Grand Theft Call of Duty  Prostitute Killer or whatever) but still, he’s constantly chattering about all sorts of stuff he’s doing in his game. It is often the first thing he talks about waking up, and reading a book on Minecraft is the last thing he sees before bed. Just a phase? Or something to keep an eye on? Either way, hearing about pickaxes and diamond armor is sooo boring. And I never even have to respond since he’s basically carrying on a conversation in train of thought with himself. A few “uh huh” and “yeahs” every now and then will suffice.

Dad?! You know that if you take your pick axe and mine some sandstone and then add coal, you can make TNT… then you can stack the TNT up and then put a torch on it and make a huge explosion!!

Boring

Dad?! If you take five leathers and shape them different ways you can make leather pants or armor. and then if you get diamonds, you can make diamond armor. But you need a special pickaxe to mine diamonds because they’re so hard and an iron pickaxe will break. Dad?! Can there be wood pickaxes in real life?

Cool-story-bro-wanna-hear-mine

Dad?! Did you know that you can play with other people and then you can both try and kill creepers and zombies. The best sword is a diamond sword. You can build a house with windows, but to do that you have to take sandstone and put it in a furnace and then that becomes windows and then you can put them in your house.

Close Three toed Sloth Portrait

Oh, and Dad?! If you have lava and let it cool and it becomes obsidian and then if you get flint and wood and make a fire you can add obsidian and some other shit and make plastic explosives and it’s really cool. Did you know you can stack them really high and make the creepers blow up in a trap?Minecraft legos

So there’s the craze of the day in our world. We’re breaking out the game of LIFE tonight. Minecraft needs a timeout.

Strive for excellence, not perfection

EXCELLENCE-VS-PERFECTIONExcellence is something that can be obtained, perfection, not so much. And often,  while waiting for perfection, you can suffer perfection paralysis and not accomplish as much. For example:

  • You won’t start going to the gym until you’re “in shape,” but you can’t get in shape given your current life circumstances so you’re left in limbo
  • You don’t initiate sex with your wife unless the circumstances are perfect, which they rarely are. Hence, infrequent marital connection.
  • You aren’t happy in your current job, but won’t apply for that dream job because you don’t hit every check-box of the posted position.
  • You have interest in an activity, but are afraid of not getting it right away and being given feedback or criticism on your technique, so don’t even start.

Perfectionists, despite their name, are not perfect. When they run into difficulty, they often get overwhelmed or give up. They don’t respond to criticism very well, avoiding it wherever they can. Winning is important, instead of finding win-win situations and bending a little so collaboration can take place.

Instead, striving for excellence and being open to the learning experiences that come from striving is a much better life approach. Criticism and feedback provide learning and growth opportunities.  Dealing with temporary obstacles and overcoming them requires grit, a favorite quality of mine.

Let’s take those bullet points from above, and instead of chasing perfection, let’s simply strive for excellence and see an alternate outcome:

  • You want to look and feel good, but know you’re fatter than you want. You are willing to be humble, go to the gym and start slow, asking for help, because your long-term goals of looking good naked are worth short term mental and physical discomfort as you strive to pursue betterment.
  • You realize both your wife and you are tired from work and kids and life, but also recognize that sex is important to you and your relationship. She may or may not be into it right then, but initiating and getting your needs out front and center instead of pussy-footing around the issue is the act of a confident man, and one who is striving for betterment of his sex life and marriage. Remaining positive in the face of “not tonight, but tomorrow,” raincheck is better than never getting in the game to begin with.
  • You’re career has gone well, but you’re ready for new challenges. The odds and ends of the various projects you’ve been involved with over the last two or three jobs paints a picture of a hard worker with a variety of skills. However, the job in the sister industry has all these requirements in their job posting and you don’t meet all of them. Go after that job anyway! You just never know what they’re looking for, or what training they’ll be willing to put in to find the right person. As one who hires, finding someone with the right personality, that fits with the team, and brings in new skills or perspective can be much more valuable than someone who checks all the boxes but has limited upside or doesn’t fit the group.
  • You recognize that you’ve got to learn how to hit a target/take elementary coding/get tapped out a million times as you start MMA /etc., and essentially build your skills over time before you can become proficient in anything. Rome isn’t built in a day, and the process of improvement itself can be rewarding as you’re working towards a goal.

As flawed people, we rarely achieve perfection. In Major League Baseball, in over 300,000 games and 135 years, only 23 perfect games have been thrown. It just doesn’t happen that much. As I’ve matured over the years, I’ve backed off from near-perfectionism of my youth to become more appreciative of the process. In doing so, I’ve obtained the state of flow much more often, and find peace more often than I ever did with closed-minded perfection driving me. With kids, it becomes much more easy to go with the flow when they aren’t doing things exactly as you’d like. Instead of yelling at my kids for their imperfections, goofing off on the field, and general lack of athletic skills (it’s genetic – I suck at ball sports), we smile and ask if they had a good time (usually the answer is yes) so things are good. We don’t tie our or their worth as a person in getting things perfect.

Live with integrity, and try to be a little better each day, but don’t strive for something that can’t be achieved consistently, or you’ll only end up feeling worse. And stop comparing yourself to others. They aren’t perfect either, despite what you may think. Good luck on the journey.

excellence

Lessons from TV show House Hunters

When we had cable, my wife used to love watching House Hunters on HGTV. Now that they’ve added it to Netflix, it’s been on frequently in our house. They have both a domestic (U.S.) version and an international version. Both are similar in that there is usually an American citizen or expat involved, which shows just how fucked up American’s are with their budget management, expectations, and entitlements. It’s illustrated to a higher degree in HH International where buildings are usually older or general house or apartment infrastructure/features are so different than typical modern homes in the U.S.

If you haven’t seen the show, they take someone looking to buy or rent a house, often due to a job relocation, and you get to see three houses or apartments they’ll get to choose from within or just above their budget. Often they are couples, either moving in together for the first time or married and moving. It’s really a first-hand view of social dynamics between a couple and is fascinating to watch for that reason alone.

Usually, the expectations are unrealistically high. And I will totally paint with a broad brush here, but are often driven by the wife or girlfriend. It will be something like “I want a large yard, an extra bedroom as a playroom for the kids, large master bath, huge walk-in closets, fence, great curb appeal, well landscaped, great neighborhood, and open floor plan, and I’m hoping to pay $1,000 per month.” Then the Realtor shows them what their budget will really get them: a small house on a busy street, no closet space, with a small yard. So they’ll nitpick every little thing (“I don’t like the narrow kitchen” or “the countertops are old” or “it looks a little warn”) and poke holes in all the homes, only having to choose from one of these dogs. Or alternatively, they’ll have a huge budget (not sure if these people overextend themselves or just have high-paying jobs) and be shown three McMansions and they’ll still hate large portions of each house.

A few International versions we were watching had a European dude (one was french, one was English or Irish) and an American girlfriend who was moving to work or go to school, after a long distance relationship. So much awesome in those episodes, and by awesome I mean the entitlement syndrome of the American women is a train wreck to watch since they have little income. The apartments in Europe are much smaller, or older, or different than in the U.S. Things like a “wet room” are common (bathroom and shower combined into a single room). The ladies predictably hate these, though Holly (who lived overseas in a non-English speaking country) said they are common and you get used to them.

wetroomThings we take for granted here (like a dishwasher, or “normal” sized refrigerators) are often a luxury. Seeing their whiny expressions and reactions to these European commonalities makes me smile. And the boyfriends didn’t give a single shit. They were used to this (and if you’re like me and grew up in a house without some of these modern conveniences, you are hardened to some degree and know you can live anywhere), and simply wanted to appease their harpy girlfriends. When they were choosing, the man’s attitude was literally “I don’t care one iota, you make the decision.”

And that’s where seeing life through the Red tint of the ‘sphere colors even a simple TV watching experience. My wife and I discuss those relationship dynamics and can see trouble ahead at this early juncture of the marriage or relationship. When the dude is already putting his balls in his girlfriend’s purse completely, or giving up proximity to a job (making life much more inconvenient to him) so his stay-at-home wife can have a different bathroom or a dishwasher, it’s like the stress cracks are already there but unnoticed. I think watching a House Hunters International – Where are They Now would be a great show. “Oh, we broke up, it just didn’t work out,” showing the ex-girlfriend with a $2,000 Coach purse, living back in the U.S. surrounded by White Knights and being $100,000 in student loan and credit card debt to boot. Meanwhile, the Spanish ex-boyfriend is still taking his public transit, living in a smaller home or apartment, enjoying 8 weeks of paid vacation, living a frugal lifestyle and happy in that environment.

So men, regardless of if you really care what you eat, or where you live, or what house you live in, at least make up an opinion and have a backbone. Watching these wet noodles buy homes as they get bulldozed into decisions you can tell they don’t really like, is painful to watch. Having a wishlist is fine, but in reality, if you are happy in life and your relationship, having a roof over your head is all you really need. Sometimes pushing back on unrealistic expectations (and especially budget) can pay back immensely in the future, both monetarily as well as in your social dynamic. Compromises can be made, but don’t just bend over and make a bad decision to avoid confrontation. I absolutely hate the term “happy wife, happy life” as it is usually said by a sappy puppy dog of a man with a wife up on his pedestal. How about “happy couple, have life” instead, with you climbing up and being a leader on that pedestal?

Anyways, I expect this show will be on in the background for many hours in my house this winter while I’m reading, and I’ll enjoy the relationship train wrecks and fighting that occurs on many episodes when they disagree.

 

Playing with TNT: guys or girls night out

I’ve always been of the opinion that guys or girls nights can cause major problems, as can work conferences. Mixing isolation away from the wife or husband, along with alcohol, along with maybe a hotel room and plausible deniability as to your whereabouts can lead to poor decision making. Even if you yourself really love your wife, or your wife you, sometimes the flattery of that hot guy or girl, along with the liquid retard-maker that alcohol is, can lead to a one-time poor decision that can crater something that is 15 or 25 years in the bank. I’ve seen it happen. Movies like Cedar Rapids are more reality than fiction, though obviously most people at conferences behave themselves. It’s what made me uncomfortable with some of my wife’s past jobs, where work conferences and late night marketing events were common. I’ve posted about it here and here if you feel like reading more on that topic.

Anyways, readers know I love my wife, and we have a very solid marriage and sex life. Even still, I’m not immune to biology and like a man am wired to appreciate feminine beauty and youth, as well as the dopamine drip that can come along with it. So let me tell a story to illustrate how even good men and women can get tempted.

Over the weekend I went out for an event with two friends that we had free tickets for. Afterwards, we went out to the local pubs since, as married men with busy family lives, we don’t often get a night out to just have fun. Sad but true. It wasn’t a planned Guy’s Night Out, but after our event it turned into one, hitting the local towny bars. Despite living two years in my town, I hadn’t been to two out of the three bars we went to that evening.

One of guys we went out with is in sales and can make friends with anyone and is on the extreme end of the extrovert scale. He’s a good lucking guy, and dresses like a conservative dad. The other friend is a little quieter in social situations until he gets warmed up – quiet confidence, and is a little thicker. He came from work (owns his own business), so was dressed conservatively. Me – I look about 10 years younger than my age, and dress very casual. That night I was wearing t-shirt with a red hoody, jeans, Adidas Gazelles (a shoe style that I’ve worn for 25 years – love ‘em), scruffed up hair. Not really trying, just wear what I wear. Like my own situation, both have good looking wives, and are committed to their marriages and kids.

So after finishing watching some college football at Bar#1, we headed to Bar#2. Loud, thumping music with a “DJ” playing music from 80’s to today. Social friend starts talking with a couple of young women probably mid-20’s at the adjacent table – one a very cute blond, one a decent looking brunette with a big nose. They looked sort of like this:

Like this, but with a small mole above her lip -sorta like Cindy Crawford

Like this, but with a small mole above her lip -sorta like Cindy Crawford

Sort of like this, but with shorter hair

Sort of like this, but with shorter hair

So we start talking with these women who are 15 years younger than us. I apparently hit it off pretty solid with the blond, who is closest to me, while Mr. Social is making friends with the brunette. Very early on in the convo blondie notices I’m not wearing a wedding ring (as I’ve noted elsewhere, I haven’t worn a ring for a few years [Holly wears hers though]. My reason was initially due to finger dermatitis that irritated my fingers when wearing a ring, but since cleared up, my fat fingers don’t fit the ring I had sized 30 lbs ago. This situation actually supports the fact that I need to get it resized). She makes a statement to the fact that she was surprised I wasn’t already “taken,” notes my lack of ring, and asks if I’m married. I state that I am but don’t wear my ring, and Mr. Social says we were just talking about this topic and were giving me shit over the fact. Doesn’t seem to impact the cute blond’s apparent interest in me as she’s very chatty, and even I can tell she’s into me. Now, due to my life circumstances I don’t deal with this type of thing that often, and my ego swells. The girl is very hot. Even us married guys get reduced to 16 year old horny boys who are thinking “pretty girl likes me; I could totally hit that if I wasn’t married,” especially after a few beverages.

The girls were meeting some friends at Bar#4, a few places down, so the five us us head out to Bar#3 next door, somewhere we were planning on going anyway. We’re enjoying the company, and I’m enjoying the attention. We do some shots, but my guys and me know that more drinking, and more bar time, is a bad idea and head out. The girls head to the next bar before we left, and I could tell blondie was disappointed we (me?) weren’t going there too, asking if we’d change our mind. Not a chance.

So that was our night. A few more (bad) decisions, a few more drinks, and bam — you find yourself thinking with the wrong head despite your best intentions. Again, I’ve seen it happen. You need to take efforts to protect yourself from yourself. My friends are morally solid and are a good support network. Even if I had wanted to start going down the wrong path, they wouldn’t have let me, nor me them. They say you are the average of the five people you hang around the most, these are two on that list. I’ve found myself in situations like this before (even if you don’t seek them out, sometimes they just happen), and have always done the right thing, but it doesn’t mean I’m not weak. I’m a man, and even at our best we are weak. Staying away from drinking in these situations is a good start. Staying with moral friends and not isolating yourself is another key aspect. If you keep these three rules in mind, you’ll end up doing the right thing (at least most of the time):

  1. Don’t drink too much
  2. Don’t let yourself get isolated with members of the opposite sex (especially those you find attractive or who find you attractive) when out in social situations where drinking is involved
  3. Surround yourself with people of similar moral gumption – going out with your recently divorced friend with a history of infidelity is the opposite of who you want for your wingman or woman. When you or they start to make bad decisions, reeling in the party going off the tracks is part of helping a friend.

Bottom line, it is flattering to have a sexy person be into you, and you can create a whole fantasy life on this single event. Better to keep it a fantasy, stop drinking, leave the situation, and later show your wife how hot you still are for her, than to keep drinking and make your fantasy into your worst nightmare.

Coming up for air

When I brought the rental car back after a six day work trip, the odometer read 1621 miles. It’s been a long week, but I’m actually in a better mood than I have been in awhile. I’m wrapping up some loose ends, taking care of business, and extracting myself from a toxic work situation with diplomacy and tact. And I’m taking a day off to recharge and recover. Weekend plans include getting a new suit for a job interview next week, rehab on some soft tissue that’s misbehaving, working out with a good friend, pumpkin patch and corn maze, kids soccer games, apple picking, wine making (pineapple this time), camping in the living room (complete with tent), and a scheduled hangout with a good friend that is long overdue. Good times all around.

My wife and kids are happy I’m finally home, and sometimes it really is “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” No one will accuse me of having my priorities out of whack. I was talking with one of my work mates on the drive back about marriages that fall apart or drift apart due to work. We know of several high work achievers that let their work-family balance get pretty far out of line, with the end goal in their world being very different than mine. My world is a world of “enough.” Enough financial stability, enough things, enough stability. Working longer hours to have more of those things usually results in having less. You’re constantly chasing something that cannot be achieved, instead of enjoying what you already have.

work life balance ball

My wife puts more emphasis on salary than me, as she sees that as a reflection on her value as a person or employee. Research has shown that once you meet a salary that allows you to have the basic necessities (house, food, clothing for example) and enough to support supplemental endeavors (like some sort of vacation, entertainment, and “toys”), having MORE does not equate to more happiness. Maybe you could go on “nicer” vacations, or have more toys, or a more expensive car, but in the grand scheme of things a $120,000 a year income isn’t that different than $75,000 – both can be Enough if you don’t overextend yourself.

In the past, I’ve occasionally changed jobs by choice to make less money when the future opportunity or fit or position was better than the one I had. And that has ALWAYS been the right decision. As I settled into those situations, I was promoted quickly and my earnings became higher than the position I left. But even if that hadn’t been the case, it still would have been right for me simply for the increase in skills, keeping things fresh in motivation, or other benefits Position B offered over Position A. As Holly and I discussed the salary range of the upcoming position I’m interviewing for, in her mind, it isn’t worth me leaving my current job (that has become stagnant, and I’m afraid of being pigeon-holed in) for a new one unless I’m making more money. I disagree on that point, recognizing that we have Enough right now, we would have Enough whether I make $10,000 less or $10,000 more, and also recognizing happiness or worth cannot be defined by money alone.

I liked this blog post from a CEO who resigned due to life imbalance, choosing family and fulfilling work over the big paycheck. Resigning, he wrote:

I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.

I know that things always work out in my life. To me, it’s not an IF statement, but a fundamental truth. Holly feels the same way. We are convinced of this fact, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have ups and downs. Anxiety and stress. But mostly we have Love, Happiness, and Abundance. As I come up for air after a brief period of insanity, I know things are always moving in the right direction, even if we don’t know how or why. And despite the fact that stressful times often kill motivation for pursuit of dreams and implementation of creative ideas, we (I) need to continue to fight for those things one small step at a time. Because one week of not eating well or exercising or [insert life goal or dream here] may not be a big deal, but one week often becomes one month, which spirals. And before you know it, you haven’t played guitar or painted or written anything in 2 years. Do those small things that keep you moving in the right direction, even if you don’t really feel like it, and enjoy the process, celebrating the small victories along the way. Happy Friday!

small victories

high five

How to deal with a sleeper creeper?

I haven’t been posting much content recently, just been too busy. I’m in the middle of a stretch of meetings in four different states  on four consecutive work days. Some posts I want to get to, but just need some time. Writing this one in a hotel tonight.

Anyways, in my personal family/kid/wife life, we are dealing with a sleeper creeper. Seven year old Loudboy will get up to go to the bathroom at night, usually between 2 and 4 AM, and then creep into our marital bed. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, and sure you all gave me good advice, but it is still a minor marital disagreement in the philosophy.

family_bed

Loudboy has always been a bad sleeper, even since he was a baby. For whatever reason, he is anxious going to bed or falling asleep, wakes up, and wants to be comforted. He was a bed wetter until maybe a year ago, so that may have contributed some. And now he wakes up to go to the bathroom, which is good. An old thunderstorm white-noise CD I had helps him go to sleep now, and if I wake up while he’s sneaking in, I tuck him back in and he usually is fine. But if I don’t wake up, there he is in the morning, like Groundhog Day.

Now Holly and I disagree on the parenting approach. I think we need to take a harder stance on the creeper, to the point of locking the door (since talking to him about not coming in doesn’t seem to work). Nights I have locked the door, he knocks, I put him back to bed, and then the next night(s) he is anxious about the whole situation. He’s a more sensitive and high-strung kid than his sister. She will come in about once every 3 months with a nightmare, which I am ok with. Kid being a kid.

So we are/were somewhat hippyish parents. Did the whole cosleeping thing with the kids for most of their first year while they were infants for breastfeeding purposes. My wife (especially) and I are big on snuggling with the kids, and want them to have a loving environment to grow up in. We also both recognize these snuggly, small kid moments are fleeting, so value them a lot. But it’s a fine line to walk, and every night of a sleeper creeper is too much for me. Holly said she used to do the same thing when she was a kid, and I never did this (with parents that didn’t show that much affection), so our perspectives are very different. I don’t think either of us is wrong, and family beds are apparently pretty common in other cultures.

We still get sexy times, so this situation isn’t impacting that, just sometimes better sleep (Loudboy moves a lot in his sleep). This study found kids who sneak into bed are less likely to be fat, so at least we have that going for us. Which is nice. Personally, I think it’s just a phase, but one I don’t want lasting for too long.

This funny (and clean) song describes my life, including the mix-breed dog part:

Motivation

Spend 6 minutes and watch this. There are no overnight successes, so make today better than yesterday and build on all those past yesterdays.  You can change your world, one small step at a time.

Sorry to say, your problems aren’t really that big

I was walking Dum-Dum the dog tonight where the stars sparkled like diamonds. I had just received an e-mail at 9 pm (very late for our business) from a client (that I pretty-much hate) that covertly accused me of not making an outside vendor do, what an outside vendor said he was going to do – something out of my control. A bullshit (covert, and passive aggressive) accusation all around. Up to this point, I was having a great overall day, fun night with the kids, reading positive books, and in a very positive mood. That was briefly shattered, and why I really try not to check work e-mails at home.

So while I actually reflected on life, while Dum-Dum was pooping, I thought to myself (like I oftentimes do), “Why the Fuck do you Care what fuck-head thinks? You have a great life!” So true. As I pondered the 300 billion stars in our galaxygalaxy1 (1) (even picking out a few constellations tonight, like the Big Dipper and Orion [so amateur]) I thought about how even the biggest problems in our own life, are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, or the Universe.

Not to rain on those who are in a rough spot, but your Divorce pain will pass, and new beginnings are out there. Your job loss is likely super taxing and sucks immensely, but you will persevere in some way you didn’t think. Death is part of life – it’s very painful, but it will galvanize some other means within you. Not having the best week? Suck it up and try to stay positive.

If you look at the big picture (and I hope you do, at least from time to time – it doesn’t need to be God [though it very well could be], but something outside of you and a bigger aspect of society), you’ll see that A) your own problems will pass B) your own problems are not that significant in the Bigger Picture and C) As Bob Marley said, “everything little thing, gonna be all right.”

bobmarleydontworryaboutathing

So as I see with friends and co-workers, how do the problems stop?

First, stop denying there is a problem. Being honest that your own drama brings about the crap in your life. It’s hard to say it’s your fault, but most of the times it is. Not other people. You.

Second. Once you admit you have an issue, start to develop small goals to deal with it. With my coaching clients, they may not consciously recognize the bigger issue, but despite that, they start setting and accomplishing small goals to improve the big picture so they can face their fears one day with their sea-legs underneath them. Until your problem is out there, you can’t make improvement though. Surrender to your weakness and be redeemed.

Third, fight and motivate yourself to make your goals happen. The perseverance and grit you show will instrumentally increase both your sense of accomplishment and your happiness. You can’t really taste and feel the glory of what a successful effort is if you haven’t slogged to Mordor to obtain it. Hard work is a large part of self fulfillment.

I will always have problems, and so will you. Mental reframing can help you see them in a different way, and hopefully let you find some shred of good in the situation. Like maybe your problem makes you a stronger person, or teaches you to handle conflict. In the grand scheme though, if you take a step back, you’re problem is probably not that big. I’m sure it’s big to you, but if you mentioned it to 10 random people, would they see it in the same magnitude you do? Probably not.

Stay strong my friends, and let your problems go. This too shall pass.

This dog has let go of all his problems - meditation helps

This dog has let go of all his problems – meditation helps


Minivan is a four letter word

If you want to throw chum in the water and watch the tension rise in my house, just say the word “minivan.” For a variety of reasons, it has become a hot topic in our house, with my wife and I on opposing teams.

minivan

We live in suburbia, where minivans are commonplace. Our most frequented neighbors both have one, and I’m not sure if it’s the brainwashing that happens when you see others having something, but Holly has been insistent that a minivan is in our future. I am insistent it is not. We have two kids (no plans for more), and accordingly our sedan and small SUV fit our needs probably 98% of the time. Our vehicles strategy is to pay them off as fast as possible, and drive them into the ground – which usually means between 150,000-200,000 miles before safety or reliability are compromised. By that rationale, we both have vehicles with long life ahead, with her 2007 the next one to be replaced but my estimation is that it easily has 3 years of good miles left.

So my lovely wife, by bringing up the minivan topic, irks me in two main ways. First, most of the time, we don’t need a minivan. On occasion, when we do need space for an extra kid, or adult, things get a little tight. And camping is especially full, but those events are fairly infrequent. Second, as a frugal dude, buying a clown car, especially one that is on the pricier end (when we have two paid off cars), really chaps my ass. I’ve offered to let her drive my newish car, and I’d take  hers, but it doesn’t sound like that’s an option for her. So we’re at a stalemate, and this is not something that will be resolved anytime soon.

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The fact that minivans are not “cool” doesn’t bother me really. They are functional and for that, it makes sense. Especially if you have a large family. She did show me that a new version of the microbus may be coming back, which isn’t as bad as a normal minivan. But still, why?! Why Holly, why?!

VW microbusvw-walker

 

Any other people struggle with the minivan dilemma, especially with just two or one kid?

Pitching to the Universe

I was listening to one of Mike Dooley‘s books on a recent work trip, and I thought he put something I’ve been thinking in an interesting way that made sense. Hopefully you all realize by now that my outlook on life is a positive one. I think you can gain a lot of insight and knowledge mining the depths of the Manosphere especially if you’re struggling in a relationship gone sour and are looking for answers. But when you progress to a certain point in your life and relationships, the negativity gets to be a lot of dark noise, like watching the news on any given day. Prone to hyperbole and tending to focus on the bad instead of the good, it usually is good to just let it pass by without giving it undue attention to your individual situation – again, once you have the big elephants addressed and understand a few of the basic premises. I can tell others like Bold and Determined are trying to rise above the fray as well and focus more on life improvements. While I’ll mix it up from time to time, and throw some chum in the water, mostly I’m about positivity and improvement.

So, like an NFL team who is constantly trying to get better and churning over the players at the bottom of the roster, that’s what I believe most of us are trying to do with weak areas of our life. Maybe it’s mostly good, but you have that one or two things that you know aren’t where you’d like them to be yet. What’s really been interesting, is as I talk with other men about issues is how many are looking to find their passion or mission in life. I have heard the phrase “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” several times over the last few months from dudes around 40. To some degree, I have struggled with that as well.

Which brings me to the phrase I heard on that audiobook: ” Pitching to the Universe.” If you are trying to improve in your life, or find a partner, or find your passion and don’t know what it is, most of the time simply doing ANYTHING is the right answer. We aren’t sitting at home plate with our single At Bat in life, swinging for the home run. If that was the case, if you missed that one chance or opportunity, you would be SOL (shit out of luck). Most of us will never hit that home run. We won’t knock it out of the park. Instead, think of ourselves as the Pitcher of Opportunity, and simply the Universe as the hitter. By doing lots of little things (throwing a lot of pitches), you’ll likely see a lot of singles. Singles still drive in runs and pretty soon you’ve got a nice scoreboard to look at.

Not everything is going to work as you’re trying new things. Maybe that diet isn’t right for you. But by trying that diet you learn about Paleo or CrossFit, which does work to make you look and feel better. Or maybe that workout class ended up providing less than ideal results, or you decided it was too expensive. But by doing it you made a new friend that leads to another opportunity. Or maybe your first attempt at your side hustle doesn’t work, but by doing so your life takes a new direction and you find more passion and happiness. By continuing to throw pitches, you’re creating more opportunities to present themselves. And maybe one day, the need to churn the parts that cause you pain diminish and you’re passion can come out to play. The funny thing is, if you were to step back and look at your life right now, and compare it to say, 5 or 10 years ago, you will say “Holy shit! I really have made it! I may still strive for more, but man, I have an AWESOME life!” Appreciation. Gratitude. Don’t forget those things too.

I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while last week. We were both commiserating a little about our lack of feeling purpose or engagement in our current professional roles. But when I started telling him about this blog, and the book, and about my next “Big Thing” I have planned. In simply talking about some of my passions, I felt my spirit and energy rise and I instantly felt better. In doing my passions, I always feel great – both in the moment and afterward. I have a ways to go, but passion is seen more and more in my life.

I know I’m on the right path to finding my own purpose in this life. Starting this blog was one pitch I threw. Reading Athol Kay’s book was one pitch I threw. Reading a variety of books and engaging with some of you are pitches. Taking a  boxing class was a pitch, as was rolling BJJ with a friend. Doing the Citizen’s Police Academy was a pitch. Even paying that extra $100-200 a month on my mortgage could be a pitch. A lot of singles, with questionable short-term purpose besides just doing something. The Red Pill in it’s entirety was probably a triple that drove in some runs. But all of these seemingly random pitches don’t really appear to be amounting to any one thing on the surface with any regularity, but taken together, they are galvanizing my life and opening up different thoughts in my head. That’s in addition to leading to new experiences and relationships which is a reward itself.

I’m not exactly sure yet how it will play out, but I do have a rough map in my head, and if it goes in a different direction, I’m sure it will turn out well too. For you too, you may question why you are signing up for a salsa class, or learning about photography on a whim, but you can’t see the future, and more than likely, these small, seemingly random, activities will be stepping stones to something more. So keep throwing pitches. Apathy and inactivity is the opposite of this approach, so do ANYTHING to keep moving. Happy Friday.

Friday Note - the Universe