Joy in All Things

One of the biggest changes I made in this journey was to do my best to not dwell on the negatives but focus on the positive things in my life. I have a house. It’s not perfect (nothing in life is) but it is mine (well, will be in three short years). My husband has a wonderful job. My kids are adults (age-wise, at least) and are out of the house. My dog is just dumb enough to make us laugh but not so dumb that we have to worry about him accidentally killing himself when we leave the house (He is an awesome dog. He doesn’t even eat the dog food that is sitting in a bag, right next to his bowl or chew up anything he isn’t supposed to).

I whittled down my friends list on Facebook to those I truly care about (and figured out how to block certain kinds of posts without unfriending too many people). I discovered that I do not need to internalize every single news story I read (and have become very choosy about which stories I will even attempt to verify or just toss them to the side). I have also discovered that my “normal” is not shared by everyone (and that is a wonderfully pleasant surprise). For instance, I did not realize that I wasn’t the only one who had never thought about whether aloe plants flower or not (or what the flowers would look like) until today:

My Aloe Flower
My aloe plant in flower

Through the process of finding joy, I have been forced to distance myself from some people in real life, also. Misery loves company while despising solitude (at least this is the case with those I know). If these people are miserable, they see it as their duty to ensure that all those around them share in their misery. Heaven forbid anyone break away and refuse to participate. I had to build a moat around myself to keep these people as far away as possible. The negativity that exudes from them is like a black smoke that penetrates everything and made me feel the need to take a shower after each visit. Now, I have learned the joy of muting my phone and not answering my door.

While I am not a bundle of joy at all times (you really do not want to see me angry), I post my fair share of goofy animal videos and silly memes on Facebook. I make “evil monkey” moves at the mice who have insisted this is their house, not ours and I take great delight in giving my dog the middle finger just to watch him jump on me in excited glee. See? It’s the little things in life that can add up and finally, through trial and error, make each day end on a happy note.

So, aside from getting ready to sit down with my husband, eat dinner, and binge watch the show Supernatural (we are re-watching it, again), here is the happy note I will end my post (and day) with while happily embracing the former band inside:

Advertisements

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.

“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!

 

Podcasts and Twitter

I am about to head into my cave (well, the bedroom with the laptop and no distractions) to write some more. It’s funny. I started out with the basic outline of a book (well, Scrivener’s version of one). Got 9 chapters ready to be filled, found quotes I wanted to use to support my thinking, have written a good chunk of most of the chapters, and now I’m thinking the scope of it needs to be expanded (just a bit). It’s morphing into basically a multi-part lesson on changing and establishing habits, really. I didn’t envision that when I started this.

I just signed up for a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/brendanolen3) that is just me, not solely Atkins/Keto related or homemaking. Just me and all my tangents. Until now I have never been an active Twitter user but will do my best to be better at it.  I think I will have to take a Twitter for Dummies class.

I have always loved the spoken word. The first time I remember listening to an audio book was in my sophomore English class in high school. The teacher was fantastic! We had to read “Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare. Have you just sat and read Shakespeare (silently)? Ugh! Our teacher turned on an audio recording while we followed along in our books. THEN, we watched the movie version with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (to understand their relationship, you need to watch that movie and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. They were electrifying together). Since then, I have been hooked. It takes my attention-deficient brain a long time to sit and read a book. I cannot tell you how many times I have to re-read a page two or more times because my mind wandered while reading BUT if I listen I get it: I comprehend immediately. It’s a beautiful thing. That is why I enjoy podcasts so much. As long as I am not doing anything loud (running the vacuum or lawn mower) or something that requires all of my attention (like reading) I do not have to stop everything to be entertained or learn.

So, I wanted to give you a list of the podcasts I am currently listening to. It’s difficult for me to find someone I resonate with, so my initial list was much longer. I just started listening to Barbell Shrugged and The Fat Burning Man, so I don’t know how well I will ultimately like the shows. I am sure I will find others to listen to (and if you have any suggestions for me, fire away).

48 Days Podcast

Barbell Shrugged      Here’s the video version of a fantastic episode discussing how to not only change your eating habits but those of your family in a smart, sustainable way:

Darkness Radio

Hunt Gather Talk

Northern Runes Radio

RPCast (My Almost Baby Brother)

The Fat Burning Man

The Publishing Profits Podcast

The School of Greatness

The Tim Ferris Show     This episode was the last one that I had to share on Facebook: The Importance of Being Dirty: Lessons from Mike Rowe

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!

The Importance of Preparedness

 

I used to be a huge proponent of preparedness (I still am but I just don’t shout it from the rooftops any longer). Food, water, emergency essentials are all important.  So, what kind of preparedness am I talking about?  Wills. No matter what age you are, if something were to happen right now, does anyone know not only what your final wishes are but have the legal authority to take care of them?  Now is the time to get these important matters dealt with.

As I may have mentioned, this year has been one heck of a year.  There have been many accomplishments made, some setbacks but mostly it has been a year of discovering what is truly important and a year of reflection.  See, my husband was diagnosed with cancer in June (as of right now, he is cancer free).  May 1st, my mom (step-mom) was diagnosed with liver cancer (she passed in August).  Then, in October, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He just passed November 1.  Our family is no stranger to loss.

My mom is the last of the children on her side of the family and both of my grandparents on my father’s side passed away, most of them before I turned 30 years old.  The one thing that remained consistent with each passing was the breakdown within our families.  Siblings who always had issues in the past let it all out.  There was no holding back for the sake of the family.  I don’t even really remember (in those instances) the offending parties allowing for grieving to take place.  Heck, when my husband’s grandmother was still with us (hospice) things were being stolen from the house during visits (we cannot confirm or deny exactly who it was but only someone extremely close would have know where she kept all of her valuable jewelry and that stealing just the stones made it more difficult to report/track).  As soon as the patriarch (or matriarch) passed, it was every sibling for themselves.  Well, that is now happening with my dad but it isn’t the children stealing from each other, it is another relative!  I am so livid that his brand of poison is infecting even more members of my family.

And this is why I am writing to you today.  Do you have a will?  Is it with a neutral party who will not take sides and favor this person over that one?  Do you have your valuables stored securely?  If you look at someone and say, “They will never steal from me” are you sure about that?  A death in the family can bring out the absolute worst in people.  Is there anything you would like someone to have that you can give them NOW?  If so, do it!  If there is someone (like a child or sibling) that you do not want to have anything, be sure to name them in your will and give them 1 dollar (or penny).  They cannot contest, saying you forgot about them or some other such nonsense. Does someone have an item of yours that you want back?  You better get it back soon or they may claim it for themselves.

I found this website with free wills and other legal forms that can help you if you have no idea where to start.

http://www.free-legal-document.com/how-to-write-a-will.html

 

Windows 10-Update

UPDATE: Here’s an article on how to uninstall those Windows 10 apps, even the ones you cannot right-click to uninstall:

http://www.howtogeek.com/224798/how-to-uninstall-windows-10s-built-in-apps-and-how-to-reinstall-them/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the first time in I don’t know how long, every computer in the house is current!  We are all Windows 10 users!  I wanted to share this with everyone here, in case you do decide to take the plunge.

  1. There is a rumor going around that Microsoft will begin charging a monthly fee.  I’ve looked and the only monthly fee I have seen is regarding the professional versions of Office.  If I’m wrong, let me know before my 30 days are up and I can switch back to Windows 8.1.
  2. As I just mentioned, once you upgrade, you have 30 days to roll back your computer to your previous version of Windows (as long as it was Windows 7 and newer).
  3. Microsoft is spying on you.  Yes, they are.  I’m thankful they got rid of the “swipe on the right of the screen” feature they had in Windows 8 but I really hate apps.  I’m old.  I like a computer to be a computer, not a tablet, pad, smart phone, or anything else.  I just want to sit down with my mouse, keyboard, and MAYBE one of those nifty doodle pads but I’m still “Woah, wait, what the heck did I just do?” with my lap top touch pad.  So, those apps are running all the time, unless you disable/delete them.  Here’s an article on what you need to do: http://bgr.com/2015/07/31/windows-10-upgrade-spying-how-to-opt-out/
  4. In that same vein, I really do not like the “Start Menu” … didn’t like it on Windows 8 and still don’t like it on Windows 10.  So, this is the program I have been using since venturing away from Windows 7: http://www.classicshell.net/.  Here’s what my Start Menu looks like:

Menu

The only issue any computer had was mine and it was no driver for my ethernet card.  For some reason, Windows 10 did not want to install one for my Intel card.  Thankfully, we have more than one computer so after fighting all the settings and getting really angry (yeah, I threw the phone and was really rude to my son … sorry, again), we downloaded a driver on hubby’s computer and installed it.  BAM!  I was online.  The other computers (which are both older than mine) had no problems what so ever!  I have also decided on one aspect of my life but that will be another post (I have a “job” 🙂 ).  Happy August!

Stress

stress

You know, sometimes, things are going so well.  Everything is running smooth, the creative juices are flowing, I’m focused and on target and then BAM!  Something smacks me upside the head and somewhere in the back of my mind, this small thought takes shape, “What the hell do you think you are doing?”  Today, with everything else on my plate (that I have, I think, been handling pretty damn well), something else reared its ugly head.  It wasn’t just one thing, either.  Then, for about 30 minutes, I just sat here, mentally throwing my hands in the air and quitting.

So, I walked outside.  I took a deep breath.  I looked up into the sky and watched the hawks catching the breeze.  I spied two Chinook helicopters (OD Green with three large red crosses on the side) and thought, “Heck, maybe I shouldn’t have joked yesterday about going to war.”  See, yesterday I heard a Chinook fly by then a couple hours later, a Russian mig flew over (there’s a guy here that owns one and takes it out for a joy ride occasionally).  I joke to hubby about war breaking out.  This ramble does have a point behind it.

That ramble right there got me out of my “poor me” funk.  I giggled (it’s amazing how easily I can amuse myself), came back in the house, and proceeded to make more quilt blocks (I’m teaching myself to quilt to see if I like it and if I do, maybe I can make something to sell).  And now, an hour later, I’m am back to my old self (but less crabby than normal).  The issues I must deal with, I don’t have to right now.  Right now, there isn’t a damn thing I can do about them so I am not about to ruin this day by wallowing in self-pity and worry.

Some stress is good but stressing (instead of preparing or planning) is a waste of energy.  If there isn’t anything that can be done right now to alleviate what stresses you then go do something fun.  That’s what I’m getting back to right now.  I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

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:

 

Selling Yourself–The Art of a Winning ‘About Page’ with Melissa Cassera

http://www.amyporterfield.com/2015/07/about-page-melissa-cassera/

So, I have made some steps toward fulfilling my goal of figuring out who I am. See, in an earlier post, I mentioned I am a teacher and student. I love to share all the new crafty things I have been learning … well, no. I love sharing anything I learn, from how to fix your refrigerator to how to crochet this new-to-me stitch. I have also been a bit of a freak (for years and years) about business.

I have always had a voracious appetite for anything having to do with business. My interest was never in a specific business but business in general. I consume anything I can get my grubby little hands on that is even remotely related to business. This week begins a new chapter in my business education. I will be retooling everything. I have registered a new domain name, have come up with a business format (something I will truly love doing that is perfect for my Attention Deficit Disordered mind), and will (once again) be building a new website. I may also (though I’m not quite sure how the transition will happen) be consolidating this blog with one of my other ones and kicking that identity to the curb. I have been feeling that coming on for a long time, that need to break away from the identity I used for so many years on my website, forums and even online radio. I am no longer “Sustainablehome.” I am Brenda Nolen, happy to share who I am and what I have to offer with the world.

That’s where the link above comes in. I can’t tell you how many times I have stared blankly at my “About” page and had no idea what to type. Heck, despite just listening to this podcast, I still have not checked my “About” page here to see how well I did (that’s because that will distract me from my tasks for the day, so I will probably take care of that within the next few weeks).  You really need to listen to this podcast if you want to have a fantastic “About” page anywhere (whether it is your blog, web site, Facebook page, or just about anywhere you talk about yourself).