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!

 

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!

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!

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!

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 🙂 ).

Respect for Elders

Those words (the subject line) actually popped out of my mouth yesterday while I was mid-rant to my husband.  They weren’t directed toward him (even though I AM older than him).  I was going on and on about an incident that occurred.  Now that I’ve been thinking about it (it’s been over 24 hours, so I’m much calmer now) it really isn’t about the disrespect shown to me because I’m an “elder”.  It was the disrespect shown to me … period.

See, if you are in my house, you are my guest.  I will do whatever I deem necessary to ensure a comfortable, pleasant visit.  That is the way I am, whether I like the person or don’t.  Why would I be that way to someone I do not like?  Because I respect the person who brought them.  That wasn’t the case, yesterday.  This person I actually liked but my reaction to the situation displays how much respect I have for the person who brought them.  Instead of my typical reaction, I walked away.

It took everything within me to turn around and walk out my back door.  I do not do well with being shown disrespect from those who I have welcomed into my home (and life).  I have a few examples I’m willing to share: When my boss got within an inch of my face, screaming at me, I squared up my shoulders and yelled right back.  When my eldest was a teenager, he made the mistake of calling me a bitch to my face and I slapped him, and when my youngest was a teenager and spoke to me the I was spoken to yesterday, I let him have it (vocally) with both barrels.  I even stopped being friends with one of my oldest friends for a much smaller showing of disrespect than what was shown to me yesterday … in my own house.

So, why am I writing about this today?  Because I’ve been thinking.  🙂  What does respect mean to me?  Respect doesn’t mean I bow down to anyone because I respect them.  It doesn’t mean that I follow anyone’s advice simply to show respect.  It means that I have enough respect in myself to either show restraint in certain situations or to defend myself and those I love.  Respect means that when you are in front of me, you will never know how much I like or dislike you (unless that is my intention).  I do not demand respect from others, I expect it if that is what I have shown you.

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!

Personal Issues – Tests

Victim Or Victor-2

I set forth on this journey to discover who I truly was and “who I wanted to be when I grew up”.  I was positive and excited.  Now, a family issue that occurred a little over 10 years ago is rearing its ugly head again and I’m stumped.  I feel like it just happened all over again and I truly have no idea what the outcome will be.

When this incident occurred, there was a victim.  Through family connections, there were others who, legally, were also considered victims.  I was one.  Now, the legal system has changed its mind so, here I am, stuck, trying to get those without the required authority to understand what I went through all those years ago and reliving this incident has been trying.  I was considered a victim then and there is no record of that decision, so I am liable (again).

I played no part in the incident in question.  I had no knowledge of it before it happened, did not participate in it nor did I knowingly allow it to occur, and once I was made aware of it, did everything I could to ensure justice would be served.  I did what I thought was right and just, despite the fact that this ripped my family apart and almost cost me my marriage.

Now, for some reason, this incident (and all the emotions associated with it) has poked its head up like a meerkat searching not for danger but for weakness.  This week has been an emotional roller coaster but I will not give in.  I will do whatever I can legally to remedy this situation and if that does not occur, then I will look into the alternatives I have.  Talk about reliving a trauma to learn to cope with it!  At least no one can say my life is boring!  🙂