Beware False Gods

When I began the process of discovering “what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Google was my friend (well, still is my friend). I used every search term I could think of until I found the people who I thought would help me in my discovery. I subscribed to more newsletters, podcasts, and You Tube channels than I care to admit. I have even taken some courses (some free, some paid, and some I am still in the process of taking). The biggest lesson I have learned so far is, “Everyone is human and has their own journey to take.”

You see, I am a HUGE fanboy (or would that be fangirl?). When I like you, I like everything you say or do and sing your praises from on high (share as much as I can without being too spammy). My behavior could be described as “stalker-ish.” I will hunt down everything you have ever done publicly, no matter how long ago it was, just so I can absorb every word you have ever said or written. I hang on your every word and anxiously await your next post, tweet, video, interview, or podcast. I will buy every book you have ever written (even if it has nothing to do with my interests). You become my new “god.” Yeah, it’s bad.

So, when you (my “gods”) decided you had enough of it all or had your own mid-life crisis, I took it personally. I felt lost, unsure of what I was going to do with my life. I know, that’s an exaggeration but it really is pathetic how emotionally invested I can get in these strangers who take up so much of my time and thoughts. I almost felt betrayed. How could these people who were handing out such wonderful advice and insight NOT be happy with where they were in life? How could they abandon me? How could you be so human?

I had an epiphany while listening to yet another podcaster who, thankfully, has already been through his life-altering pivot. I started looking at my life and realized I was living vicariously through all these other people. Their joys were my joys, along with their sorrows. I had kept myself safely hidden in my cave, not taking any risks within my life. Instead of taking all the wonderful advice (and training) I learned and applying it to my life, I stashed it away, hoarding it like a dragon and its gold. What good is knowledge if it isn’t used? How is my life going to improve if I am unwilling to change? How can I discover my true desires and accomplish my goals if I continue to follow instead of lead?

So, today is day one of me sorting through all the information I have amassed over the last few years and slowly apply it to my life. Today I begin to change the things I can and plan the best course of action that will enable me to make the required changes that are too life-altering to make right now.

So, the four baby steps I am making, which began today (I have a checklist to keep myself accountable):

  • Step 1: Drink my water. I do not like water. Period. The only way I have been able to (in the past) drink water is to bribe myself: take a drink of water and you can have more coffee. Whatever it takes, I will get that stuff down!
  • Step 2: Meditate every day. I have a tendency to get extremely distracted with just about anything (and everything) and there are days when it feels as if I have no time to do myself (even though I do not work outside my house and my husband is gone 8 hours every day). Taking just 10 minutes a day to rest my mind will give me the focus I need to get me through the day as productively as I can.
  • Step 3: Do something physical every day. This step, since it is Spring, is actually written as “Work in the yard every day.” I am a very “all or nothing” person. My yard work tends to be a marathon day for 8 hours followed by 2 weeks of recovery, then not wanting to even venture outside for 3 months. Perhaps I will actually mange to grow something edible this year (aside from a single tomato).
  • Step 4: Write every day. I decided on a goal of 500 words per day (not counting normal Facebook posts). They may be here on the blog or not. Whatever manner they take, I will keep a tally every day.

So, those are my baby steps on the road to recovery … I mean the road to life.

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“But You Will Look Like A Man!”

Rachel McLish - The first woman I saw with muscles who still looked feminine.
Rachel McLish – The first woman I saw with muscles who still looked feminine.

I do not hear this nearly as much as I did when I first looked into lifting weights. I hope it has something to do with people being more enlightened but I’m pretty sure they just don’t want to be accused of gay bashing (or whatever). There are too many people out there who are either trolls who relish in stirring up controversy or the “eternally offended” who actively search for something to protest. Either way, I am tired of them all. And, since I am a female, I am allowed to say a bunch of stuff that will probably be considered sexist (or whichever -ist you may choose to embrace today).

The book I am writing is how embracing 9 virtues will make me a whole, well-rounded human being. While I have the 9 virtues separated into chapters and defined (and my whole “this is how I messed up and how I am fixing it” dialogue in there) I am trying to figure out how to explain the method I am using to fundamentally alter who I am. At first, I thought it was like embracing a new habit (so, I read a lot). It did fit the bill but then I began weight training again and that’s when it clicked. If you want to fundamentally change your life, it’s just like when you finally decide to get healthy.

If you want long lasting, sustainable changes, you don’t immediately throw all the “bad” foods out the door, get rid of all your sodas, and take up the same weight training program Arnold used to win Mr. Olympia. Not only will you get withdrawals, not have enough food to eat, and possibly hurt yourself (and other people with your wild mood swings), on your first “cheat day” you will scarf so much food you will not be able to walk for a week. Then, you will beat yourself up for being so weak-willed, and, after resupplying your pantry with all those “bad” foods, you will throw them all out, and repeat the pattern over and over again until you just decide you will be happier unhealthy.

No, the key is to start small. Change your sodas to diet sodas. Then, add some water to your drinking habits (which I did by bribing myself, “I can have some more coffee when I drink this water”). If you are going to reduce your carbohydrates, have 2 instead of 4 pieces of toast at breakfast but add an egg or slice of bacon. Do that for a while, then change another small thing. After a while, once you have altered your food intake enough and done it long enough, your tastes will change and your new dietary habits will now be normal (I now feel physically ill if I eat a Hostess cupcake, so I haven’t eaten one in 6 years).

If your goal is to write a book (and you haven’t written a dang thing outside of a school essay), the same thing goes: write 500 words a day, whether that is a blog post or a journal entry or your book (for that, do research and find out exactly how to write the kind of book you want). Write some letters or emails to people. Just write, then add words every day. After a while, your day will not feel complete until you have written.

And when it comes to improving myself, like the 9 virtues I am implementing within my life, I am taking each virtue, defining it, and changing each aspect of that virtue that I am not embracing or I did not fully understand. Once that change is implemented and fully embraced, I am moving onto the next aspect.  Through this process, I am taking copious notes about what has worked, what hasn’t, and that is the basis for my book. It is taking much longer than I expected. I thought I was a pretty decent person before I began this process but sheesh, was I wrong!

 

Creative Badass Challenge – A Year Later?

 

Wow. It’s difficult for me to believe it has truly been a year since I posted about this challenge. It has also been a year since I put it on hold (that was the month of my husband’s cancer diagnosis and he is, so far, still cancer free). I decided to go back to it, see where I left off and get the ball rolling again. What a shock for me to discover that the challenge has disappeared from the web. The only consolation I have is I kept every email sent out and, thankfully, Dave Conrey did not delete the private videos from his You Tube channel. I am thoroughly disappointed that he chose to set that challenge aside, especially since it took very little effort (at least on the public side) to just park the entire project and let people discover it on their own.

On the other hand, look at me and what I have done. I have spent so much time over the past few years trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I have grown a lot but throughout that time, I have kept the majority of these changes private (unless you are my friend on Facebook). A while ago, I shared that I am a student and a teacher. Well, what did that mean? What does that have to do with “the price of tea in China”? That’s what I have been working on and I finally discovered what that meant to me.

I started by getting a real URL: www.brendanolen.com. I cleaned up my website a bit (it is still hosted on a friend’s server). Then, I thought I would start a business making things for people. I made some crocheted and knitted items but I also sewed some quilted bags. With each project, I learned more about my skills. Then, I got physically tired. For me, it is extremely tedious doing the exact same things over and over again. I got tired of counting and my hands got very angry with me (carpal tunnel). So, someone suggested the real money is selling supplies, not the finished product. There is no way I could ever compete with Hobby Lobby, Jo Anne’s, or Walmart, so I thought I would create patterns.  Well, guess what? I have to crochet or knit each size of each pattern to make sure I wrote the pattern correctly!  Didn’t I just say doing that made me tired?

So, I put all of that aside. I have had an idea for a book for a while (all it took was for my son to say one sentence and that sent my brain into a dance of ideas). While that idea was percolating, that’s all it did. I did nothing with the idea until about a month ago. That’s when I decided I needed to get busy and take this writing “thing” seriously. That involved (which it always does with me) extensive research. I have absolutely no formal education in the art of writing. I thought about taking a college course. Have you seen the price of community colleges today? WOW! So, I turned to my favorite research tool, Google.

I have been a podcast listening/webinar watching/information downloading fool! I have also begun my book (which became two), almost finished a compilation of some public domain works that I have fallen in love with, and have about 6 more books percolating in my brain.

The best thing about this process for me is realizing I don’t have to focus on one subject. I can publish whatever I want about whatever subject I want! Isn’t that fantastic? With all the knowledge I have gained over the years on a wide array of topics from low carb eating to cooking to crafting to business to surviving this life, I am so relieved I do not have to solely focus on one topic and cast aside all the other knowledge I have swirling around in my brain.

I will be sharing about what books I publish here (and my other two blogs if they are too subject specific). If you would like to be emailed when I release my book(s), be sure to join my email list. I just wanted to warn you that this blog, right here, is truly the heart of who I am and will encompass every aspect of me.

In the words of Cartman (from South Park): “Whatever! I do what I want!”

So, have you figured out what you want? What you are going to do about it? Let’s get busy!

Creative Badass Challenge – Dave Conrey

I know.  I talk about him quite a bit.  I swear, I’m not a stalker but he resonates with me.  I love his attitude, his delivery, and message.  I have been taking his Creative Badass Challenge (I could have sworn I posted about it before but I guess not).  I signed up to participate in this challenge on June 3rd (2015).  It’s a 28 day program to help you “change the way you live & work.”  Officially, I have completed Day 16.  It has been much longer than 16 days since I began this challenge but some of the daily challenges took me a lot longer than a day to complete (not to mention my husband’s surgery and other health issues).  As of today, I already have a business I am planning for (and thoroughly excited about), and you read my last post outlining my progress in other aspects of getting this business ready for lift-off.  I’m just so excited and, when I did the day 16 challenge I just could not believe my eyes: the challenge is to do something that I am currently doing already (began doing this a couple of weeks ago because of my “shiny object” affliction).  That’s when I knew I had to spread the word far and wide.  You NEED to sign up for this challenge (and complete it … and don’t put it on hold too long, like I did with my Public Speaking course on Coursera so now I have to repeat the last chapter).

Aside from the knowledge and insight you will gain, a great thing about this challenge is IT IS TOTALLY FREE!!!

Dave has been very generous over the years but this, by far, is one of the best deals around.  Take this challenge!  You will not be disappointed.

Here’s a video explaining the challenge:

 

Kick Fear In The Face

So, while doing my daily You Tube regime, I decided to actually take a look at one of my favorite person’s channels, Dave Conrey.  Well, it turns out he did a series of very short (3 minutes or less) videos, titled “3 Minutes To Freedom” and the first one is what I’m working through right now (but I’m much better than I was just a few months ago), “Kick Fear In The Face!”  Check these out!

2 Articles to Share: One on Etsy and the Other About Social Media

This Teen Paid for College by Selling on Etsy. Here Are 5 Ways She Did It.

In three years, this teenager has used her artistry, marketing abilities and time-management skills to rake in $100,000 on Etsy selling handmade jewelry on her shop DesignedByLei. Think: dainty layered necklaces, statement pendants, knuckle rings and her latest obsession: wire jewelry. Not only does it provide a creative escape from schoolwork but also is a way for Secor to pay for college tuition.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247609

And this interview on Fresh Rag:

Improve your Social Awareness With Caitlin Bacher of Little Farm Media

With all the different social media choices out there, it can be really difficult to separate wheat from chaff, and decide where to spend our precious time online. Some might have you believe you need to be everywhere, but is that really the case when it’s possible that some of your people may not be in some platforms?

http://www.freshrag.com/improve-your-social-awareness-with-caitlin-bacher-of-little-farm-media/

Problems? We All Have Them.

Now, with this new branch of my learning/growth, I’ve also discovered something else that I need to share and be more open about.  My life (the good and the bad).  No matter who we are, it’s not the problems in life that define us, it is how we have overcome them that shapes our lives and who we will become.  I have tried to keep mostly positive, never sharing when I’m having a rough time of it.  Well, I am currently having a rough time.  Just about a month ago, I found out someone I dearly love has cancer (my step mom).  It was a shock to everyone.  After processing everything and getting into a more positive place, BAM!  Not only does my husband have a gluten sensitivity (not sure yet if it’s celiac), he has to have surgery.  See, he went in for a colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist said everything went well, then two days later I get a phone call from a surgeon.  They tell me we were referred to them by our gastro and they would like to set up an appointment for a consultation. BAM!  It feels like Wile E. Coyote just slammed a huge hammer on our heads (by the way, this phone call was June 3. 2015).  Thankfully, the gastro called a bit later (thank you so much for the warning), stating it’s not cancer but still, this was a huge shock.

Now, these are not the only problems we have experienced.  We have been together for 16 years (married for 15) and have lived through some incidents that I would not wish on anyone else.  But now, I’m older and in a much better place spiritually than ever before.  So, I would like to share my insights as I learn to deal with these.

If you are human, you have problems.  Period.  It does not matter if you are the Dalai Lama or me.  To be human is to experience problems and deal with them (or not … it’s your choice).

How we deal with these problems that surface will define not only who we are but how successful we will be in all aspects of life.  No matter what the problem is, never (ever) say to yourself (as a form of comfort), “Well, it could be worse.” Worse for who?  This problem is yours and how big or small of a role it plays in your life is defined by you and your circumstances.  If someone else would react differently, saying to yourself, “Well, so and so had this happen and they didn’t get upset at all” is a way to blame/shame yourself for having an emotional response.  We are not computers, the Borg, or Vulcans (bet you can’t tell what genre of movies/shows I like).

You are allowed to be upset.  You are allowed to cry.  You are allowed to be sad.  You are allowed to get depressed.  You are allowed to be angry. 

Suppressing any of that will backfire down the road with the next challenge/problem you face.  All those suppressed emotions will build up each time you stomp them down into that hole you have created until, one way or another, they will explode.  Whether that explosion is in the form of a rage-filled temper tantrum or health issues (just think about where you feel it when you bottle up those emotions: your gut.  Do you think it’s some magical coincidence that so many people today have acid reflux disease and/or ulcers and/or intestinal issues?).

So, what are my favorite ways to release my emotions?  Lately, I’ll be sitting here and all of a sudden want to cry.  So, I let myself cry.  There have even been some evenings recently when my husband asks what I want to do (it’s usually a choice between watching a movie/television show together or playing a video game).  My answer is: “I just want to cry.”  And he says, “O.k.” and waits.  Then, I’ll usually pick a movie with lots of testosterone (Action/horror) or we’ll sit a kill demons (Diablo 3).

My ultimate favorite way to release these emotions, though, is to scream/yell.  Seriously.  I just stand outside and just let loose (I’ll do this inside if it’s too late so I don’t disturb the neighbors).  Have you ever watched the movie, “Full Metal Jacket”?  Let me hear your war cry.  I do it as long and as many times as I can until I think I’m done.

Let me hear your war cry!

So, what’s next.  Breathe.  I’m serious.  I take a long, deep breath then let it out slowly.  It’s amazing how little we breathe when we are upset.  We usually take shallow, quick breaths when we are too upset to think straight.  It usually only takes me a few breaths until I can think a bit more rationally.

Now, I ask myself:

Is there anything right now I can do to remedy this situation? 

  1. If my answer is yes, I make all the plans necessary to do it, then do it!  I don’t wait or dwell, worry or fret, I get busy (depending on the situation, Google is great for this).
  2. If the answer is no and there is nothing I can do right now to remedy this situation, I figure out a way to let it go, mentally, for the time being.  This is especially difficult if it is a health issue.  If it is, for the love of yourself and everyone around you, DO NOT CONSULT DR. GOOGLE!  That one “innocent” search could take you from having a minor ulcer to colon cancer in three clicks.

You may be asking me, “O.k., smartass, how do I just let something like that go?”  Find something, anything else to occupy your mind.  I’m completely serious.  Just make sure whatever it is takes all your concentration.  So far, since finding out about my husband’s surgery consultation, I have cleaned my neighbor’s house (it’s my neighbor, so I had to concentrate and do a thorough job), listened to 4+ hours of interviews from Hay House’s 2015 World Summit, written two small blog posts (this will be my third and longest one), meditated a couple of times (this one was the most difficult to do), done my free weight lifting routine (if you have ever used a barbell while not concentrating, you know the consequences), begun physically reading two books and have started the Creative Baddass Challenge.

Now, I’m not telling you to just ignore whatever situation/challenge you find yourself dealing with.  Thoughts and feelings regarding it ARE going to pop into your head (and depending on the severity of the situation, this might happen quite often) but you can’t dwell on something that you currently have no solution to. Just acknowledge those thoughts, fears, or worries then let them drift right back out of your head like they are floating on a stream.

And that’s pretty much where I’m at now.  The thoughts float in, then I let them float right back out of my head (except this morning when I was trying to fix the @#$% wi-fi … that’s all I could think about, so at least I wasn’t dwelling on the bigger issue 🙂 ).

Who Am I Currently? I Am The Teacher And The Student!

So, through all of this self-discovery: looking deep within myself to discover who I truly am and what I truly enjoy, it basically comes down to two titles: I am a student AND a teacher.

As I’ve said before: I love to learn.  I am constantly on the lookout for some new idea to explore or some project to learn or some skill to master.  Along the way, though, I love to teach what I am learning/have learned with everyone who is willing to read what I type here (or on my other two blogs).

I just read an article yesterday “A Writer’s Dirty Little Secret” by Dan Wells that just clicked with me.  I do not want to teach, type up blog posts, fix my website, or share links for the betterment of my readers.  I do it for me.  I find it exciting to not just learn these new skills but to share HOW I learned those skills.  I love the challenge of discovering the proper wording to enable people to understand what I am sharing (without relying on my favorite go-to words like thingamajig, doohickey, or thingamabob).

When I was in high school, I took a creative writing class.  One of the assignments was to write out instructions, teaching someone how to brush their teeth, while assuming the person had never seen a toothbrush or toothpaste.  It was illuminating, discovering the need to dissect terminology which so many of us take for granted when they have been performing a skill/trade/job for years. I know you have run into it before:  How to manuals or websites that have you looking up the definition of words just so you can understand what is required of you just to complete the first step (I have even run into that in many of the “For Dummies” set of books, which did a lot for my self esteem at the time).  I have always done my best learning with simple instructions, whether those are from someone I am learning from or I am giving them (especially at the start of a new learning adventure).  I learned that quickly when I was an adult, helping jewelers (over the phone) fix a computer problem.  🙂

So, now that I have discovered this about myself, it’s time for me to share something I’m currently learning about myself.  Stay tuned!  🙂

Brenda

Public Speaking – Coursera

Since I know I want to make You Tube videos and/or podcasts (still don’t know what the subject will be) I decided to take this free course through Coursera:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/publicspeaking/

It’s a self-paced course that does not offer Verified Certificates but it’s a start.  See, there is a disconnect between my brain and my mouth.  When I’m typing, it’s almost like channeling an intelligent entity.  When I speak, I stumble and resort to wording that typically is not meant for the general public. 🙂

I’m REALLY hoping to be able to purchase a video camera soon, so hopefully by the end of the class, I will be able to post an awesome video with no “uh”, “um”, or (my latest term for a person’s name who I really don’t want to work to remember) “whatshisnuts”.

Speaking of Coursera, I am kicking myself in the back side for not taking advantage of more of the courses when they first started.  Then, they were all free and most offered certificates of completion.  Now, I have noticed, you must pay for most of the courses that offer certificates (if you want that certificate, which would be nice to have).  See, my formal education is pretty sparse.  The only proof I have that I know certain topics is my word (or to show examples).  Those pieces of paper would help immensely if my word/examples are not good enough for a potential employer.  I’ll figure something out but in the mean time, I will be loving every second of every free (appropriate … can get easily distracted on the website) course I can get my grubby little paws on!

The 2015 Version Of You – Setting Goals

My Atkins Journey

And another fantastic bit of wisdom shared by Elliott Hulse. I’ve never really been a goal setter. No, that’s not true. I’ve never set big, life-altering specific goals for myself. I set small ones all the time (like finishing a project) but I have always found it difficult to not only figure out “what I want to be when I grow up” but how long it should take to get there and what specific steps I need to take.

That’s where I find myself now. I am now, at the age of 46, truly looking at my life and, by attempting to define who I am at this moment, doing my best to figure out what direction I want my life to take (basically, who and what I want to be when I grow up). I’m going much deeper than the typical New Year’s resolution (which I don’t do).

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