To Learn, You Must Do

It’s rare when I am surprised by anything I read online. The last time I was truly shocked about anything in the public domain was when Trump won the Presidential election. Watching the election night coverage (yes, we watched all night) was true “shock and awe.” That was the best reality show we have ever watched and the reactions were priceless (and gloriously genuine). Virtually no one expected that outcome, especially me. I didn’t vote for Clinton or Trump. I can’t stand any of the Clintons but figured Hillary was going to win no matter who she was running against. See? “Shock and Awe.”

Most of the online election aftermath has caused my eyes to roll way too much. Both sides, with their diehard supporters who never really paid attention to what their candidates actually believed, just irritate me. As much as I love the MAGAs’ dread when they realize Trump isn’t the ultraconservative they assumed he was, I really loathe those Hillary supporters who assumed, because I did not support her (and definitely did not support Obama), that I was a Trump supporter. I knew some of these people for over 20 years, yet they lashed out at me like I had suggested someone needed to start drowning puppies. They chose to ignore the fact that I had never supported any of the chosen Republican candidates that ran against Obama in both elections. All logic and reason left their overly emotional brains and (from what I have seen) has never returned.

This has never been more evident than what has actually surprised me online: they are scared and talking about arming themselves and either advocating for (or anticipating) a civil war. I have even read some hoping for a military coup. It feels like a really bad episode of the Twilight Zone since this is the same talk I saw from ultra-conservatives when Obama was elected to office except then, the “fight” was to preserve the Constitution and now the “fight” is to dismantle it (despite the calls to arm themselves). They just aren’t thinking this through. Why would they want to give up control of their lives (and their right to protect their lives) to the very people they are protesting against?

This is new territory for me. I knew what to ignore when Obama was first elected as mostly grandstanding (or in my off-line words, idiots being keyboard commandos) but I don’t know this new crop of people. I am not sure how serious they are or are they just typing all of that to make others think they are serious.What I do know is there are too many people within society who do not understand that just because they think (or say) something doesn’t mean they will always win. These people also do not understand that with every loss, there is a lesson that can be learned if they are willing to remove emotion from the equation.

I do know that, outside of the anti-Trump groups, I have noticed an uptick in worry and a desire to begin preparing for … something. I am not sure exactly what the impetus to prepare is. I do not think it really matters. Whether people are preparing for some sort of civil war, civil unrest, disruption in the food chain, nuclear war, natural disasters, or any other imagined scenario, the path toward independence and security is the same:

You can have all the books in the world but if you have never grown a tomato plant, you will never be able to grow all the fruits and vegetables you need to sustain your family. This also applies to splitting your own firewood or baking bread (you know, actually cooking) or sewing a shirt or repairing your appliances or any number of skills you think you will need to survive any of the disastrous scenarios people can imagine.

This also goes for life in general (which was the original intention of this post). If all you do is read books without putting into practice what you read, you have learned nothing. Online marketing, SEO optimization, building your email list, writing (and publishing) a book, improving your health, losing weight, increasing your strength … none of the knowledge you acquire from any book, course, or video will do you any good if you don’t physically DO anything!

So, where do you begin? Go through everything you have learned over the course of the last year and figure out what one activity you can do today, right now. Choose just one. Then tomorrow, choose another. Slowly build up until you are practicing what you were taught (and learning what will work and what won’t). Not everything you have been taught will lead you to your ultimate goal (or end up working the way you intended). So, you set aside those things that are not working for you and move onto another activity.

The most important thing to know is you cannot control everything. You will not get everything you think you want (or things will not go the way you have planned). This is called life. You either embrace that fact or you will end up just spinning around in circles, blaming others for life not going the way you intended.

Even if you believe that the climate changing is caused by humans, what can you really do about that? Can you, personally, eliminate all excess carbon emissions from the planet, allowing your tomatoes to grow better this year? No, and even if you could, what would happen if the climate didn’t change back? What if all the scientists who support human caused climate change are proven wrong? What would you do with your life then?

We all need to focus on what we can personally change: our sphere of influence. Plant a tree, get your yard equipment serviced so it burns fuel more efficiently, stop using so many weed killers or bug sprays, pick up the garbage on your street (then the next street, then your entire neighborhood), dig up your lawn and plant food, vote for a city councilperson who embraces your way of thinking, etc. These are the types of acts that will ultimately change the world, not blocking traffic or hiding in your house waiting for the end of the world.

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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!

 

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!

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:

 

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/

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

Quick Update – Coursework

If you are interested in speaking in any way, I highly recommend taking this Coursera course.  I am just about to finish the first module.  Once I finish the course, I will post an update and hopefully you will be able to see the improvement in my speaking abilities (as in giving a good speech … not just rambling).  As of right now, the videos are unpublished but I will include links with my overview of the course.

I have yet to share my good news!  I have a brand new computer (tower) that we did not have to build (for those of you who work on cars, it’s been like that for YEARS.  Constantly having to “look under the hood” and replace things.  It’s so nice to not have to worry about anything breaking any time soon)!  We went to Fry’s Electronics and it was actually cheaper to just pull one off the shelf.  I then traded my old tower for a laptop AND last week my son gave me his old phone.  So, I not only have video/photo capabilities now BUT a better computer to process them on!

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!

Be Everywhere – Smart Passive Income Podcast

No, though it feels like it, I have not fallen off the map.  I have been dealing (and thinking about) those trials I discussed.  Then, once I finally decided how to deal with them, I needed a release.  I began a tutorial on Adobe Illustrator (so, once I decide on a logo that represents me, I will be able to make it myself) but spent most of the weekend playing Diablo 3 with my husband.

Today, I needed something that would not require me to sit still, so I thought I would finally listen to this podcast:

Be Everywhere – Building a Profitable BRAND by Thinking Outside the Blog

I downloaded it a while back, thinking I would listen to it once I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.  Well, it turns out that if you even think about having a blog, podcast, or You Tube channel (whether it’s for money or not), you NEED to listen to this podcast!  He gives wonderful tips for everything from which programs are the best to how to tag/which key words to use!  I don’t know why I didn’t listen to this sooner!  I am writing my list (I’ve already had video camera and digital camera on my list for a while).

So, let me know what you think and check out the rest of his site.  There is so much information that I could (and have) get lost on it!