What To Do

What to do?

It has been such a long time since I published any writings here. I kept putting it off thinking that I didn’t have anything to write. Then when I had something to write I didn’t write it. I would say to myself, “It has been so long since I’ve written something I can’t just write and publish out of the blue. I need to write an explanation as to why I haven’t written in such a long time.”

So, I wouldn’t write because I didn’t know how to write that explanation. And who, exactly, is the explanation for? Who gives a care that I haven’t written in so long? Nobody has inquired as to my whereabouts. Nobody has screamed from upon high lamenting my literary absence.

Nobody has indicated that the lack of my ponderings or musical quips have left a void in their lives.

So, why write? 

There was a void in my life. I wasn’t writting. I write because I’m a writer and to not write is to not breath, not nourish and not be who I am. It does not matter whether or not the writing is read. When you are a writer, you must write. Write something meaningful or crappy. It doesn’t matter.  The athlete must train even if they don’t feel like it. They have good training days and bad training days but they must train.

So, this is my training day. I took a few minutes to write. To let my mind and fingers do their exercises. Muscle memory will take over if you just get up and do it. 

Are You Willing to Fail

Are you? Are you willing to fail?
 –
You have to make the agreement with yourself to do things that are uncomfortable but have been proven to work.
 –
You have to make an agreement to take the time to do these things and withstand the time it takes before the change will happen.
 –
If the most successful people are doing these things and swear by them, but you disregard the techniques and then complain that you haven’t reached success or your life hasn’t changed for the better, then you don’t have a leg to stand on. Your claims are  null and void.
 –
I still complain, but the length of time I spend complaining is shorter. I don’t waste as much breath or mental power on the complaint. I know that unless I choose to do something to make a change then complaining is useless. Venting and letting it out feels good in the moment because it is like pulling out a splinter. But if I don’t do anything to keep the splinters from happening then I’ll have to keep pulling out splinters.
 –
Some of my recent fails:
  • Cold shower in the morning. Did it then stopped.
  • Got up to write in the morning. Did it for a month straight, then stopped.
  • Exercise in the morning. Did it then stopped.
 –
I was not being true to my word.  This is the first Agreement in Don Miguel’s Four Agreements.
 –
I lean toward doing what is comfortable in the moment but then pay the price later. That is a fail. It is a common thing we all do. It is a common fail.
 –
I failed before I even attempted a lot of things. I either didn’t make the attempt or I told myself going in I would only give so much effort because I could not count on myself to continue to follow through.
 –
I spoke to myself in failure speech. I accepted that I would fail.  I let that be the dialogue in my head.
 –
Now, I fight against that dialogue.  That fight has helped me get back up. I’m back to exercising in the morning and cold showers for the last 20-30 seconds. I’m not writing every morning, but I’m 2/3rds the way there.
I am still unsure about trying something knowing there is a high probability of failure. Though, failure is only 100% guaranteed if I don’t try. I’m still fighting the failure dialogue and it has me hesitant about setting goals and changing lifestyle habits. But, I’m willing to keep trying, because I also have positive dialogue in my head.
I get to choose which dialogue to listen to. That knowledge is pretty powerful.
Nate

I Was So Busy. In My Head.

How busy is busy?

Busy is a word we use when we don’t know what else to use. So is it the word we mean to use?

Busy can mean doing things around the house, running errands, parental duties, or other domesticated life chores.

Busy can mean your job/career has you doing things all day; phone calls, managing people, spreadsheets, customer care, driving all around, or other job related tasks.

We tend to think of busy as things we do. And sometimes we do a lot of things during our days. These things can physically exhaust us.

“How have you been?” A friend will ask.
“Busy,” we’ll respond, not listing the five things we had to multitask in the last hour and the million and a half things we still have to do.

Besides that, busy isn’t a feeling. “How have you been” and “What have you been doing” receive the same response, “Busy.” And don’t even get me started on “Fine” as an answer.

The truth for me is that I do a lot at work and home. Tasks are not happening all the time, yet, I feel like I’m so busy. And I am. In my head. I am thinking all the time about what I’ve accomplished but mostly about what I still have to accomplish.

I’m busy most of my days thinking, not necessarily doing. During my down time my mind is going over things past, present and future. Rarely is my mind not pouring over something I did or didn’t do. Or should do.

I think I am busy not doing things most days, but I think so much about doing things that I’ve tricked my brain into believing I’m am continuously on the move. Our brains don’t know the difference between what is actually happening and what is only happening in our head.

This isn’t always a negative thing. Some of the best athetes will practice visualization for running plays, golf and tennis swings or throwing a ball. Writers visualize whole stories before even writing a single word. Musicians will visualize playing their instrument while sitting in traffic or standing in the grocery line. Fingers moving along an imaginary fret or keyboard.

Those are meditative practices that have been studied and proven to enhance a person’s performance. Watch the movie The Pianist to see what I’m talking about.

Our minds are always working, either for us or against us. We can choose to feed it with all kinds of things. Otherwise, it will feed on itself and the result is usually bad. Negative thinking will creep in and set up a home and then slowly eat away at everything until you are racked with despair, crippling anxiety and no self-worth.

I’ve been there. Many times.

Our minds are busy every second of every day. That’s why we will tell people we’re busy but not be able to give those internal examples about why we are exhausted from doing so much. We have convinced our brains and our brains in return have convinced us that we have been doing so many things.

I haven’t written a post in over a month. The past two weeks I’ve been busy thinking about how I haven’t posted in a long time. I didn’t realize just how long it had been until I looked it up this morning.

I’ve had doing tasks and thinking tasks over this past month. I’ve also had down time where I could have written something.

I was busy not writing. I was busy telling my brain reasons why I couldn’t write. I told my brain I was doing so much and had some much more to do. So my brain believed it and in return convinced me to believe it. What a lovely team of procrastinating liars we are, my brain and I. The perfect pair to never get anything done.

So, here is a post. When is the next post?

That will depend on what my brain and I decide to convince each other.

Nate

 

What’s My Age Again?

My mom came up to visit this weekend, since this is my weekend with the kids. My kids love their mom mom. I have been fortunate that my mom has such a great relationship with my kids. Due to my two younger brothers living in Florida and our mom living in New Jersey, she doesn’t get to have a close relationship with her other grandchildren.

I live the closest in Pennsylvania. My kids have been able to benefit from living so close to their mom mom. I am truly thankful for this.

I’m, also, thankful for her visit today because we all got to get out of my cramped two-bedroom apartment and go to an indoor trampoline park called Get Air. It was her treat.

The last time I went to one of those parks (Sky Zone), I stressed a muscle in my lower back and ended up sit out for the majority of our stay. So, I was apprehensive to engage this time. But my son and daughter wanted me to join in so I said yes.

I have a dodgy lower back. Damaged it in high school lifting weights back in the 90’s, many years of chiropractic adjustments and finally had back surgery in 2016. Jumping on trampolines seemed like a distant, never to do again memory.

I changed up my approach to this issue over the past four to five months and did one of the best things for my lower back: I started to engage the core.

Sitting, standing, bending over and squating down, I engage my core. I put the focus on my stomach muscles and the prolonged lower back pain has become short-lived.

My back still aches at times but not for days or weeks like it used to. It has been amazing. Better than any pain med has ever helped.

So, I said yes to my kids and we jumped. Whenever my back started to feel like I was over doing it, I would sit down to take a break. I didn’t stretch my back when I felt the pain. I learned that would just aggravate my back muscles and make thinks worse.

So, why the title, “What’s My Age Again?” That is a phrase that gets thrown around too readily. Age doesn’t matter as much as fitness.

There was a grandfather there with his granddaughter dunkin’ balls through one of the basketball hoops. He was much older than me and was a damn inspiration. I want to be that grandparent to my grandkids.

Of course, given the ages of my kids, 11 and 7, by the time I’m a grandfather there will be jetpack parks called Screw Gravity. I hope I can keep up as a 70 year old grandparent.

I’m grateful for being able to keep up now.

Age doesn’t matter when I look at my kids’ faces and they are totally excited that I am out there on the trampolines with them.

I have made it an expectation that I will be on the trampoline, on the floor with the LEGOs or creating some art project from the recyclables bin.

There is no age limit for doing those things.

Though, sometimes I just want to sit and do nothing, but today was not one of those times.

Nate

Time is Pricelss

Your attention and time are the most precious things you have. You have given some of that to me and I appreciate it.

Thank you.

I believe that when time is given to me the best way to show my appreciation is to give my time to you.

I have visited some of the blogs of those who have visited mine. I dove into more than one posting by some of you. I really like a lot of what I have read; especially, those posts where you have shared about yourself and your struggles. The most impressive writings to me have been where you have shared what you have done to be good to you.

Choosing yourself in order to be available to others is an inspiration to me. One of my reasons for writing this blog is to be more honest with myself through my writing. I’m still working on this.

Life is tough and rough and we have to treat ourselves well.

If I don’t stop telling myself “I’m not worthy of things”, then why should I expect anybody else to think me worthy. I say some pretty horrible things to myself. If I were to say those things to my friends, I would not have any friends. If I were to say those things to my kids, I would be a horrible father and my kids’ self-esteem and self-image would crumble. Thinking about that happening to my kids breaks my heart. I would want to punch myself in the face if I said those things to my kids. So, why doesn’t it break my heart when I say those things to me? It does break my spirit. I should probably punch myself in the face for having such negativity towards me.

But physical violence only begets physical violence. We see it happening every day. Negativity begets negativity. It happens in my head all the time. That negativity has kept me from striving to do more. I have backed away from many challenges in my life because I didn’t fully believe I was worth it.

Personal examples in my creative life:

I’ve written two novels and a script for a graphic novel. I’ve attempted to get agents for one of my novels. I even knew someone who worked for a literary agency and she submitted my manuscript. It never went anywhere.

I reached out to a few artists to collaborate on my graphic novel. One artist just stopped communicating with me and another did not get back to me. It never went anywhere.

So, I’ve been knocked down and was left rejected. However, there are two points about the above.
One, I could have done a better job of following up by asking more questions. I wasn’t told my work sucked. I just wasn’t told anything. What else could I think?

Two, my passion level was not high for what I had created and promoted. It wasn’t that I didn’t want my creations to go to the next step. I just didn’t believe in myself enough to advocate more strongly for them. I didn’t give myself enough worth. I didn’t give my work enough worth.

This is something that I recently began to understand about myself. I’m a low-key guy most of the time. I can get heated and excited but mostly I try to keep my “cool”. This is not a good thing when I am trying to promote myself and my creations. How can I get others excited about what I created if I’m not getting excited about it?

I would smack my forehead, if violence didn’t beget violence. And you know what, passion and excitement begets passion and excitement. It’s those mirror neurons everybody is talking about. (You know, everybody.) If I’m acting excited then it is almost (almost) impossible for someone in my presence to not feel a little bit of that and not get a little excited themselves.

Time for low-key Nate to get out of my way to make room for passionate Nate. Excited Nate. Enthusiastic Nate. The Nate who believes his work has worth. My work does have worth.

Your work has worth. Why create it in the first place if it didn’t?

Let’s be good to us. Keep writing. Keep creating. It is worth it.

Nate

 

The Four Agreements

I seem to be drawn to reading things on how I can change my perspective about my life in order to improve myself. I want to think myself healthier, think myself happier, and, in some cases, to stop thinking so much and just start doing.

In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements he presents a simple formula to follow that seems to offer a way for me to combine thinking and doing.

Perhaps, using the term formula is not correct. But I don’t know what else to call it. Maybe a process. A reprogramming. He does use computer terminology, such as, our old agreements being a virus in our programming as humans.

Miguel states that we have agreements within our minds that allow us to accept the ways things are, the negative things we believe, and the way people treat us. And no matter how detrimental those beliefs may be to or for us, we will continue to agree with them.

Miguel says there are four agreements that we can use to combat the negative agreements within ourselves. The Four Agreements are:

Be impeccable to your word

Don’t take things personally

Don’t make assumptions

Always do your best

They seem pretty straight forward and can leave you saying to yourself, “Well, of course that’s all you gotta do. Easy, so easy.”

But you have to explore them deeper, which Miguel does in his book. He explores the depths of what those agreements mean and what you must do in order to adopt them into your programming.

I am aware much more now than I ever was in my past about the negative agreements I hold onto about myself and other people. I know I am folly when it comes to talking to and about myself. My thoughts are not nice.

Over the past few months I have been able to recognize my negative self-talk about me. The power of my rationalization to not do things out of fear. I know better how to recognize my fear. How the fear plays its hand in my decision making.

Fear has played a part in most of the decisions I have made in my life. Fear has powered my rationalization to not speak, not change, and not do.

And I know so much better now that even though I know this, I am not free from the power of fear. I still watch it and let it control me.

I let fear use rationalization most recently to not play my guitar with my friend in his band. He had offered and I had gladly accepted. I’ve played with him several times live in the past. But for some reason I let fear tell me “no” this time. It told me that I wasn’t good enough. That I should go to support him and his band, but I was not good enough to play.

I ended up spending much of that day with my kids at my ex’s house, knowing that I was supposed to play that evening with my friend, but fear told me to stay longer and longer because “I’m not going to play. I’m tired. I can’t solo as well as my friend. My guitar never sounds good. My guitar is a bit dusty from sitting out and my friend my see it and make fun. The other band members will wonder why I’m there and why would my friend invite me to sit in. Just stay here with my kids for as long as I can. I’m not going to play. I just tell my friend I didn’t have time to stop off at home to get my guitar. I’ll sit on my ass and watch him play because I know I am not good enough.”

And that’s what I did.

I let the fear rationalize and put me down and talk me out of playing. And lie to my friend.

The lying makes me feel badly about me. It also makes me upset with myself for letting my fear make me miss out on another experience.

I may not be the best guitar player but I cannot let that be fuel for my fear to stop me from doing something that I really do enjoy doing.

I was not impeccable to my word. I made an assumption about what others would think of me and I didn’t do my best.

Miguel points out in his book is that we can expect to slip up and not follow those new agreements at times, maybe a lot of times, but to not get discouraged because we can always start again. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to get it right every time.

Miguel also let’s me know to be aware of the Judge, Victim and belief system within me. It is like a Bizarro World Holy Trinity. Not that Miguel describes it that way.

The Judge bestows guilt and shame. The Victim agrees to the verdict of guilty and accepts the shame. The belief system is the agreements that are in place that allows the Judge and the Victim to play their roles.

In the coming weeks and months I will continue to explore and write about how my Fear and the Bizarro World Holy Trinity (BWHT) attempt to keep me from Action.

Some of my thoughts on the Four Agreements.

Be impeccable to your word – I am doing that each morning. I write my three morning pages. I treat my inner artist to creative dates.

Don’t take things personally – This is difficult. As much as I may say to myself, “this isn’t about me” I still think things that happen to me are about me.

Don’t make assumptions – This is part of what I do as a therapist. I make assumptions based on people’s behaviors and what they tell me. If we know what motivates us, or other people, we can make an assumption as to how we will react or respond to situations and people in our lives. This can be very helpful. But it does not mean our assumptions will be true.

Always do your best – I like this one just as much as the first agreement. Miguel says that our best will be different for every situation due to many factors about ourselves including emotions and health at the time we are to deliver our best. Some days our best is not going to be good enough to achieve something that we want.

If we can agree that we did the best we were capable of doing at that time, then we should be satisfied. There should be no looking back. No placing blame or guilt on ourselves because we gave all we had at that time. It is okay that our best isn’t going to be good enough every time. We don’t always have to succeed, get “it” right or be perfect.

We should accept ourselves warts and all.

Nate

 

 

Shear Panic

Recently, I woke up in the morning with almost paralyzing anxiety. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to go to work. I wanted to call out sick. I wanted to just stay in bed.

I was sick. I was in a grip of hopelessness.

There have been some changes happening at my place of employment and I am overwhelmed.

I’m a manager and whenever there is change, I am one of a few who have to coordinate the change among our limited staff and resources.

And I am worn out.

One of the other managers is moving on and out of the company. She is number four of those who have moved on within the past two years. Every time one of them has moved on, more change has occurred.

And I’m worn out.

In the mornings, I wake up to NPR playing on my clock radio. It’s news I can listen to. Normally. But that particular morning it was one bad headline after another. Budgets that support big business. Political support of child and women molesters. Repeal of protected lands so oil and gas companies can drill.

I had watched a Netflix documentary that past evening, “Saving Capitalism.” If you want to know what it’s about, just see my description of NPR’s news cast in the last paragraph.

A raping of society in several ways that keeps getting worse. Nothing was right or fair in the world.

And I am worn out.

I eventually got up and out of bed. I’m not truly sure how I did it but I did. I showered and even managed to get food in me. My anxiety usually suppresses my appetite, but I made myself eat.

I took many deep breaths along the way. I used all my coping techniques that I could think of to get me through.

Then while getting my shoes on, my wall broke down. My skills were of no use to me anymore at that moment.

The tears came. Real crying came. Not just watery eyes and feeling overtaxed. But real crying. Sound and all.

I hated being brought to that point. Why had I been brought to that point?

The crying felt good. I obviously needed to cry. I was hurting inside. For many reasons. I had been strong for so long. I had to stop being strong. It was hurting me.

I’m still hurting. I’m still getting up each day. I am still worn out, but I’m looking forward.

It is time. Time that I was looking and attempting to move on from my pain.

Nate

 

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