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Those Thoughts That Destory

I am now fully aware that I have for the longest time not believed, nor felt, that I am good enough.

Good enough to be accepted
Good enough to be loved
Good enough financially
Good enough intelligently
Good enough creatively

In my head I will justify why I will not ask for more. I believe that there is always someone better to do the task.

There is someone better to be a friend.
Someone better to be a partner.
Someone better to do the job.
Someone better from whom to get love and security.

I believe I don’t deserve more money at work because what I am doing is not deserving of more recognition or financial compensation.

I was in a relationship for 20 years and I believed I was not enough. I didn’t communicate enough. I wasn’t assertive enough. I didn’t take control of situations enough. I didn’t make enough money in my single job and should have worked more to provide enough.

That is what I believed.

Some of my “not enough” thoughts are my own concoctions based on things I heard and saw as I was growing up. Some were developed through the years as an adult.

These self-damaging beliefs are so pervasive I find it very difficult, at this moment, give you a list of reasons why you should spend the day with me. Or be my friend. Or date me.

Yet, I could make a healthy sized list of why you would be bored in my presence. I will not do that here and now. It may be a healthy sized list but it would not be healthy to do.

I continue to have those thoughts that destroy my sense of positive self-worth. I knew they were here inside me. I knew they kept me from taking risks. But I hid from them. I didn’t know that hiding from them was giving those beliefs power over me.

Because I was hiding I didn’t realize that I started to accept these beliefs that I was not good enough. That is why I never paid attention to the things I do that give me worth. And even when I knew I had worth, I believed that somebody else deserved [place thing here]. They deserved whatever it was more than I did.

I would look at another guy walking down the street or in a store and my thoughts would be, “That guy is better looking than me. He’s in better shape than I am. He probably has a high paying job and can afford to go out and spend money with no problem. So, any girl I would be with would regret being with me because she could have that guy.”

I have this negative scenario that loops in my head: If it came down to a choice be between me and “that guy”, “that guy” would always be chosen over me.

Since I believe that and live that in my actions, of course “that guy” will get chosen or “those other people” deserve more than I do.

Those guys deserve the love, money, and relationships more than I do. They are more willing to bet on themselves than I am. They say “I am worth it. I want it and so I will get it.” So they deserve what they get because they believe in themselves more.

This is the battle of thoughts that I fight everyday. Or do I really fight in this battle? Sometimes I think I do. Other times I think I was defeated a long time ago and continue to nurse the battle scars.

However …

I am aware and recognize the negative self-talk that is fueling the negative self-belief. And I am able to stop wallowing in self-pity. These are steps in the right direction, but the process is too slow.

I need to get out of my negative headspace to save myself. Being more honest in my writing is part of that process.

Nate

 

There Were Supposed to be Explosions

When I started writing this blog, I was aware that I had started two other blogs that I did not keep up on. They were great idea blogs: one about our family with pics and witty sayings and another about being a dad.

They died. The family blog had a little fight in it towards the end, but the dad blog died quickly without even a whimper. I just wasn’t willing to dedicate the time it took to write and upkeep. So they died as all things will do without attention and nurture.

I put off starting this blog because I didn’t want it to be a failure. I knew I wanted to write my thoughts, post my interests in writing and music and get a big following. I even came up with a cool title after carefully thinking about it. Life Supernova. My life was exploding and imploding and I wanted to write about it. But I wasn’t ready to write about what really mattered. More on that later.

However, I kept putting it off. Years of putting it off. I knew at the time I would not commit to writing for it. Hell, that term there gives a glimpse of my thought process. “Writing for it.” Not writing for myself. Not writing because it is a deep need with in me to write.

I was looking for external reasons to write. Where were my internal reasons?

I don’t know. Maybe I wasn’t looking for them.

Then my life did explode. It was a contained explosion. First the slow implosion of anger and resentment towards my wife for her long hours at work. Which left me pretty much as a single parent with a full-time job.

It was a situation we both placed ourselves in. Our children suffered her absence and our marriage suffered due to the lack of communication in her absence.

You see, I have a bad habit of not admitting when too much is too much. I have a pattern of not speaking up or speaking out. I don’t speak to my needs. So over time: explosion.

This is damaging to any relationship; friend, partner, marriage, work, etc. And I continue to have this issue. So over time: explosion.

Now I am a single parent (explosion). I live in a small two bedroom apartment. My kids have to share a room when they are with me, which is 50% of the time.

This is the reality that I haven’t written about. It is the reality that I need to write about, whether or not it gets read by anybody else.

My life supernovaed and this is my truth. Single. Parent. Afraid.

Nate

Music Post 005: A New Game

Music Post 005: A New Game

It would seem this learning a song per week has petered out. But I haven’t let it discourage me. I have a new game.

This new game is to practice a handful of songs that I could play at a given notice or while out and playing with others.

I’ve been practicing Plush by Stone Temple Pilots. I keep practicing Times Like These by Foo Fighters. I’ve started to learn Here I Go Again by White Snake.

Some other songs I have learned in the past and want to practice more to get better are:

Promise by When In Rome
Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam
Hold Me Now by Thompson Twins

If I can get to know between five and ten songs I will be better about my attempt to learn more songs this year.

I’ll post the songs when I record them.

I may even throw in a few of my own. To play my own stuff live will be fun, too.

Nate

Music Post 004a – My 20’s Soundgarden

Music Post 004a – My 20’s Soundgarden

I recently read the Pandora write up on Chris Cornell. I like to read up on the history of bands and other music artists. Whatever is available I’ll soak it up. So, in reading up on Chris Cornell, I was reminded that Soundgarden released an album in 2012, King Animal. I wondered why I had not purchased it or at least try to listen to it.

As I recall, a lot was going on at that time in my life. I believe, I had mentioned it in my post about the Foo Fighters (see Music Post 002). I was busy with life, family and career.

I decided to listen to the excerpts from King Animal on iTunes. The tracks rocked. I enjoyed them. And I felt a pull. A pull back to the 90’s, alone in my dark bedroom with just the light from my TV to illuminate things. Sometimes, I would listen to my CDs on my Sega CD system because I liked the screen saver. I spent many nights like that, alone, pretending to be a drummer, guitarist and lead singer. I’ve been dreaming that dream since listening to Beatles records in my bedroom in the 80’s.

Being taken back to those nights in the 90’s, I realized I wasn’t that kid anymore. Not that I don’t have those same dreams of being a rockstar, at times, but I’m not that kid, now a man. A man who cannot afford to waste my time wallowing in my own self-pity and depressed mood. There was a time I could soak up that music and bathe in the anguish and angst that was so prevalent in my generation at the time.

I wouldn’t have been able do that in 2012. The Nate of 2012 was married with two kids and had a career. As much as I enjoyed listening to the Soundgarden of my 20’s. The Soundgarden of my late 30’s wasn’t a good fit. I just wasn’t melancholy about my existential self anymore. And especially now in my mid-40’s, I don’t think I could grasp existentialism. I’ve got bills to pay and kids to feed. And not only kids to feed, but kids to maintain a healthy relationship with, and I can’t maintain a healthy relationship if I’m wallowing in some type of self induced misery.

At this point in my life, I’ve listened to and read books on ways to get shit done in life. I listen to podcasts like The Art of Charm, James Altucher, Tim Ferris and Marc Maron. The guests and authors of those books and podcasts are people who have chased their dreams and made them a reality. Or they just plain did the things they wanted to do and ended up doing those things for a living. I’ve heard their successes and how they got there. There is no room for quitting (which I do a lot) if you want to succeed.

So, I cannot wallow anymore. That is a form of quitting.

The demons I fight are my thoughts with the voices of others. My fears sound like people I know telling me, “You can’t do it. Life sucks. There is no way out. Nothing will change.”

I fight those voices everyday. The thing about having other people’s voices in your head is they start sounding like your own voice. So you start believing all the negative you are telling yourself. I never told myself I couldn’t do something. We never tell ourselves that originally. That notion doesn’t happen naturally. That shitty advice comes from others. It is their fear injected into us. And once I listened, I let that fear in. It is a bitch to shake. It doesn’t want to let go. I’ve held back doing a lot of things I’ve wanted to do because of it.

Fear doesn’t want to let go because it will die. I wish it would die, but wishing won’t make it die or go away.

I have to keep kicking at it and pushing it. I have to stop feeding it. My body needs to reject it like a transplanted organ. That donor of this fear and bad advice gave me something toxic that my body/brain should be rejecting.

My brain should be screaming, “These are not my thoughts! These thoughts do not belong here! They are killing us! Get them out of here!”

. . . Wow, I didn’t know that is where this post was going. But here I am.

I will go back and finish listening to the King Animal excerpts and most likely not do more than that.

The three Soundgarden CD’s I own from the 90’s will continue to be my Soundgarden. I think I’ll learn one of those songs to include in my year of Learning a Song per Week (sort of).

Music Post 003 – Revolution Radio

Music Post 003 – Revolution Radio 9/11/17

I took my son to his first concert: Green Day, the Revolution Radio tour. He has been loving Green Dayfor the past year and the timing was great. Serendipitous, in fact. I like when these things happen: when you are into a band, movie, comic book series, TV show, podcast, and then there is a tour and it comes to your town just at the right time because you’re so into what is happening with it you gotta buy a ticket. This has been happening to me for the last 6 years or so, as I’ve mentioned in my last music post. (See Times Like These – Foo Fighters). I stole from my own writing and used it here. I think that’s okay. I probably won’t mind the plagiarism this time.

I had never seen Green Day live when they were at their height of popularity back in the 90’s. However, I could be totally wrong in saying that. The concert I went to a few weeks ago was packed. Park was an insane nightmare. But, anyway, I enjoyed their radio played songs over the years. I had the Nimrod CD that I bought some time in the early 2000’s. It was the only Green Dayalbum I ever owned. So, I was more of a passive listener.

Then American Idiot came out and I became more of an active listener. It is still my favorite Green Day album to date. I feel to this day that it is their opus. That is strictly my opinion. Some may feel 21st Century Breakdown was another opus. I could agree, but it wasn’t made into a Broadway musical. The documentary, Broadway Idiot, about the making of the musical is a great watch. I highly recommend it. I wish I had gone to see it when it was playing, especially when Billy Joe took over the role of St. Vinny. It would have been worth it.

As far as having learned Green Day songs in the past, I started out with “Brain Stew” and “Basket Case”. When I started to learn guitar back in the late 90’s, those two songs were in my learning book. They became the Big Two that I could play and sing along to with consistency. I say “Big Two” meaning I could play and sing to myself, in my room, with nobody else around.

I attempted to learn a few songs from American Idiot. I learned the title track, but never to the point that I could play comfortably from beginning to end. I didn’t learn the lyrics fully, either. I did that with many songs. Classic me.

There will be room for another Green Day songs along this trip, but I chose Revolution Radio for two reasons. It’s is a fun song and I recently saw Billy Joe and the boys (like I know them like that to make such a reference) in concert. It helped that my kids kept singing it, so I guess it was sort of chosen for me to learn.

I screwed up a lot on this recording. I recorded a few times but there were parts that I struggled with and it sounds horrible, but I only give myself a week before moving on to the next song. I kept procrastinating on this one because I knew where I sucked and that the final product would be rubbish. I didn’t bother with the lyrics. It’s just my version, the guitar only. So, here you go warts and all.

Enjoy.
Nate

 

Watch Anything

After watching another two episodes in Season 2 of Game of Thrones and not blogging about how I continue to fail at learning a song per week, I decided to watch a TED Talk from the TED app on my Amazon Fire Stick. (Shameless plugs or just part of everyday lexicon?)

I was feeling frisky and in the mood for anything, I chose the Watch Anything option. Why not let TED pick for me. It chose Esther Perel’s The Secret Desire in a Long Term Relationship. I looked forward to uncovering the nugget of information I’d get from this talk. Though, I had watched it before I thought I might be inspired by some new, personal interpretation. So, I paused the talk and started writing this post in anticipation. But I took so long constructing this introduction that the Fire Stick screen saver came on.

I had been booted out.

When I went back into the app Esther’s talk was gone and I had to chose the Watch Anything option again. This time Aakash Odedra’s A Dance in a Hurricane of Paper, Wind and Light came on. I figured since I was in the mood for anything, I would accept this option.

The dance piece was called “Murmur”.

I won’t try to interpret what he did. He has his message in his language and it should be interpreted by those who watch it to decipher the meaning they pull out of it.

To me, it was a man who put his art out there for anyone to see. He created. For himself. Allowed others to view it. That is courage. That is what creatives are meant to do.

I think this falls in line with a recent post by James Altucher. James said “Process is art.” The act of creating something is the art itself. The product is the end result. Just like learning and education. It isn’t just that you made something and say “hey, look what I did.” Or in the case of education, “hey, look what I know.”

Posting the work as you go. Talking through the work, about the work, is just as important.

I say all this and want to believe it, but I don’t do it. I want to say, “hey, look what I did.” But if I don’t think somebody is watching or going to see what I did, my motivation, or interest, wanes. That is not loving the process of art. That is not believing in the art. That isn’t anywhere near it.

I’ve finished projects. And thinking on it now, I finished those projects because I loved the process. The process of wrighting my two novels. The process of writing my graphic novel. They were stories within me that I nutured as they grew out of me. I wrote out many scenes. I edited, added and cut and deleted. Then added again.

Thought, time and effort went into those projects. And who read them but a few. I didn’t write so others would approve. I wrote because I loved it. I wanted to see what was at the end of the process. I said to myself, “hey, look what you did.”

Of course, I would like for these stories to be out there in the world for others to read. I want others to like them. I think some people would. I think others wouldn’t and I don’t want my babies judged by haters. My work doesn’t deserve that. No one’s work does.

Sending our babies, our children, out into the real world is scary. I mean this in the creative sense for both our flesh and blood children and the children we put our blood, sweat and tears into.

Fear of judgment. How it keeps us from taking those risks that are part of the process to achieve our goals, dreams or whatever you want to call what you are after.

That is what I got out of this TED Talk. So, I’m going to post my process on the Green Day song. It is just the guitar part and it is all I have completed for now.

Will you read the next post and listen to my process? I hope so, but if not that’s ok. It’s not about you.

Emotion Rethink

I won’t get into how I came to listen to The Art of Charm podcast. That is a topic for another time. Right now, this is about their Minisode Monday #73 that I just listened to: The Positive Intent of Emotion.

My interpretation of the message is that every emotion is intended to produce a positive outcome. Our happiness, sadness, anger, etc. are produced in our brains to create a positive outcome for us.

That would mean that our brain is capable of helping us survive. I can see this technique used by people who suffer though trauma. Their strength and resilience lay within their ability to reinterpret the emotional pain they experience in the moments of the trauma and after.

I have lived through my own traumas and the ability to keep moving forward has been key to my survival. But I did not know the science behind it or see what I did as being a positive coping skill. I just did it.

For others, they may need to develop the understanding that a “behavior” their brain is to create emotions so they survive the ordeals in which they find themselves.

However, there are brains, like mine, that don’t seem to work in such a perfect way. Sometimes I act in ways that seem totally selfish and self-centered to get my own needs and wants met.

Maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen. In order for the host body to survive the brain must produce the emotions and thoughts it needs to keep the host body alive.

That makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense is when the brain produces emotions and thoughts that cause people to want to end their lives.

Why does my brain produce thoughts of self-harm and suicide? That is not going to prolong the life of my brain’s host body. Those thoughts come and go. Even when there doesn’t seem to be a reason. So, why do they happen?

Perhaps, the negative emotion that feeds the negative thoughts can be filtered through a more positive lense. I think that is the suggestion from Jordan on The Art of Charm. He has interviewed many doctors and scientists over the years that study human nature and the brain. They have done the research and experiments. They have written about their findings.

Life changes through explosions. One type of explosion is education. Another is application of what we learn.

I have put forth effort to seek out the books written by those specialists. I have a willingness to try the methods about which they write.

So, now, my effort will be to rethink my emotional responses (especially the negative ones) to make them work positively for me After all, my brain is trying to tell me something. Perhaps, I should listen.

 

Nate

Important Things

The important things in life are simple: breathe, relax, love, share.

There are others things. The list can grow longer, which can complicate the list and then the important things in life are no longer simple.

Spend time with a friend. A good friend. A friend with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings. Let them critique and give you counsel. When you ask them for their opinion they will feel that you value them. When people feel valued they will trust you to share things about them.

This is a simple post. Hopefully, it sparks thoughts within you to have conversations with others.

 

Contagious

In Damon Davis’s TED Talk, Courage is Contagious, he names fear and courage as having a contagious effect on people in groups. I think not only are those things contagious, they also cause movement in people to act. Act is part of action. Action is what people do, even if you think they are not doing anything. Action is walking towards something or walking away. Even inaction is an action. The stillness we exhibit to think or the standing by as something happens and we do nothing. Desicion to do or not do is an action.

Sometimes inaction causes us to jugde and place shame. Shame on the person who didn’t act how we thought they should act. Shame on them. Because if we were there we would have done something.

But what if doing nothing, inaction, is contagious? Then doing nothing can infected those around it. If fear is contagious and we believe that it is, should we shame others for catching it? Was it their fault?

Maybe they were never inoculated from it. Maybe it has already effected them so much their bodies are riddled with inaction.

We don’t shame others when they get cancer. Why shame someone when they are infected by fear? Perhaps, we can help them get treated. We can help inoculate them with courage. That would mean giving of ourselves to infecting another.

Can we do that?

Shame is thrown too quickly onto others who fail to act within at particular time frame; a matter of seconds. Or onto those who don’t act at all. Assumption and shame are precursors to the spread of fear.

Fear has three symptoms: fight, flight and freeze. You don’t know which fear you or someone else will get or how the body will react. All infections are like that. Unpredictable.

If we can see these contagious behaviors as changeable with support, care and love, then the infection won’t spend so much or so quickly.

We can help each other. I believe we all want to help each other. What infection inside of us keeps us from doing that?

My take away from these thoughts and Damon Davis’s talk is that we have the inoculation already inside of us. Courage. Two easy things we can do to get at it: search within ourselves or search for others who have it.

Music Post 003a Pre Revolution

Reality set in early on with learning a song a week. My recording of Green Day’s Revolution Radio was troubled from the beginning. I went into it feeling overwhelmed. It is a pretty basic song with cords I’m familiar with put into a rhythmic pattern that was unfamiliar. I struggled physically and mentally to learn and produce this song. Perhaps it is due to the recording process being added to my learning that has added this element of being uncertain with my abilities to produce a listenable version.

In other words, I was scared. I was scared to fail. Scared to record and re-record the song with every new take being worse than the ones before it. I didn’t practice enough. I wasn’t ready, so I prolonged recording. I know I said I will record and play back warts and all, but some warts are really ugly and when I’m the one wearing the warts I think are too ugly and unexceptable for others to view (or listen to in this case) I won’t show them.

I screwed up on the parts I knew I would screw up on. I would have left it alone if that guitar part sounded anything like it should have, but it didn’t. The guitar part is played during the verse “We will be seen and not be heard”. That part happens twice in the song and the second time the guitar part adds a change up with the lyrics “We are the songs of the disturbed”. I totally fucked that part up. I would have been able to sing along to it.

Those are warts I don’t want to show so I have to go back and re-record those parts. They don’t have to sound perfect or flawless, but I cannot leave them as they are. There was another part where I got sloppy on a riff but I’m willing to let that be heard.

So two songs in and I’m already meeting challenges. Song three will have to wait.