Forward or Bust

What I don’t understand about life and the people who live it can just about fit into the Grand Canyon.   

I don’t understand an existence is without the burn of ambition.  I don’t.  Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted something else, something more and I would push against circumstances to get it.  As a little kid, I wanted to earn my own money.  I had lemonade/popcorn stands, I scrounged things from house to have garage sales, I did extra chores.  I started formally working at 14.  

In school, I pushed myself to make good grades so I could get into college. When I started working as an adult, I’d continue to push myself to earn promotions and raises, because I wanted to be able to support myself and my kid.  I wanted to put myself in a position where I wasn’t worried about money all the time. 

There was this energy, coming from inside me, that was pushing me, ultimately towards independence, but immediately towards the next steps that would get me there. 

I’m perplexed by those who don’t feel the same.  It’s not that I can’t intellectually fathom that the world is made up of different people.  Of course it is.  That’s what makes this place so interesting.  It’s what makes family dinners either entertaining or painful.  I know that everyone does not think like me - and I can accept and understand that - with this one exception.

From my observations and experience, if you are not growing then you are deteriorating.   That’s the rule of nature.  There is no standing still, nothing exist in a vacuum.   If you don’t consistently work your muscles, they atrophy. 

If you’re not building upon your skills, they become obsolete.  

This is the rule.  


On Beauty

I’m not sure why someone would call themselves ugly.  

I can understand having days where you don’t feel your best - bad hair day, bloated, etc.  What I can’t fathom is consistently insisting (out loud to others or in your own mind) that you are wholly unattractive.  

Why on God’s green earth wouldn’t you be your own biggest fan?  

This isn’t a rhetorical or facetious question.   

Why would you be so hard on yourself that it’s borderline abuse?  Think about it.  If you saw a husband repeatedly call his wife ugly (or fat or stupid), you would think he was an abusive asshole.  You’d tell the story to your friends with horror in your voice.  You would think that woman should get away from that creep as soon as possible.   

I don’t understand why that behavior is justified when you’re doing it to yourself in your own head.  It seems worse.  At least the poor woman can walk away and she won’t be able to hear the asshole’s voice anymore.  If you’re doing it to yourself, where are you going to go?

I’m not talking about conceit, only a basic belief that the container for your soul is worth loving.  Hell, even the confidence that you clean up nice is better than nothing.  Fat or skinny don’t matter.  What matters is what you think and the record you play in your head on repeat.   

What you think gets projected to the rest of the world.  What you think gets projected to you. 

The record you play?  It’s all your choice.  

Your playlist should only be that which will build you up. 


Letter to My Daughter

March 8th was International Women’s Day.   In celebration, a publication asked several high profile women to write letters to their daughters.  I thought I would do the same. 

Dear Lorren,

As of today, you are about five short months from turning 18.   You will be finishing high school in a couple of months. This fact is incredible to me.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think this day would come, of course I did.  It's just that I can still remember being in the hospital, holding you and feeling so overwhelmed with love and at the same time scared shitless. 

I think we’ve done OK.  I count it among my greatest accomplishments that you survived - especially that first year.  I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, I only knew that I loved you more than I loved myself. 

As you get ready to go out into the world, please keep your mind open to the possibilities of what you have to offer the world and vice versa.  Be wary of absolute assessments - of yourself and of others.  There is an entire universe of gray between black and white.  It’s in the gray that we find ourselves.  

Hard work will be the source of your success.  There will also be some dumb luck, but you won’t be able to capitalize on the luck unless you’ve done the hard work. 

Despite popular belief, the hard work will not stop.  There is no magical place you’ll reach in which you can now rest, except for death. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that things get easier with time.  They don’t.  New challenges come once you’ve figured something out and you’re back to not knowing what you’re doing.  This is what’s supposed to happen.

Don’t shy away from the hard things.  Facing challenges is part and parcel of a life well lived.  Keep the promises you make to yourself.  Continue to be kind, loving and accepting, but when people show you who they are, believe them.

I wish you every happiness that life has to offer.

I will love you forever.



Crushed Nuts

What is the deal with all these men age 35 and under with theses tight ass suit pants ?  

What. The. Hell.  

It's the same look over and over - blue suit, light blue shirt (like a chambray color), a narrow tie, brown shoes and funky socks of some kind.  It's not terrible, but some of them are wearing their pants entirely too tight.   

Nut huggers is what they'd be called where I'm from.  I really don't know how comfortable that can be.  Or how you’re affecting your future reproductive prospects.  Or why in the hell some of the pants are not only tight, but high-waters as well.   If your pants hit an inch above your ankle, they are capris.  

Here's a Cliff Note: Capris are not pants that are made for dudes.

I understand the premise of current fashion, I just don’t understand why you’d want to walk around like your nuts are in a vice.  Don’t they need to breathe?


Amor Fati

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.  

-Ecce Homo, Friedrich Nietzsche

Amor Fati is latin phrase that means ‘Love of Fate’, which can be interpreted also as ‘love of one’s fate’.  It is a notion that presents the ultimate emotional/mental challenge when what appears in your path brings you to your knees.  When the something that happens makes you want to tell Fate to go fuck itself with the business end of a .45. 

At first glance, loving whatever comes your way sounds like lunacy, right?  A truly awful thing has happened and you just want me to accept it?  Not only accept it, but love that it has happened. Yes.  

That seems like a stretch, right?

The way I see it, there are levels to this, just like with any type of mastery.  You start small, like with everyday life.  Long lines, getting the wrong order, traffic.  

You start with the understanding that nothing in life is inherently good or bad.  It’s the value that we assign that makes it so.  You decide how you are going to react to what is happening.  You can decide to go completely apeshit and bemoan the fact that the world is indeed against you, or you can decide to look at things as opportunities for a different experience.  

When I was in Seattle last month, I lost my wallet.  On the airplane.  It was completely my fault.  I didn’t put it back in my purse properly, it landed on the floor somewhere and I walked off the plane and out of the airport without my ID, a couple hundred in cash, my debit and credit cards.  I didn’t realize what I’d done until a couple of hours later, when I reached in my purse to pay for something and there was no wallet.  It was late when I the discovery was made - after 11 pm.  

There was the initial heat of panic.  I’m not a person that loses things frequently; this wasn’t a situation I was happy to find myself in.  I took a breath and remembered, that getting mad wasn’t going to change anything.  I was visiting relatives, so at least I wasn’t trying to stay at a hotel with no ID and no way to pay.  In that moment, I decided that while I would do everything I could to get my wallet back, if I didn’t, then I would just roll with the situation.  Getting home via airplane with no identification? I would figure it out somehow.  I knew I wasn’t the first traveler to lose their wallet during a trip. 

The first call to the airline that night yielded no results, but it turned out that mine was the last flight for that plane for the day.  That was a plus, but I was sitting near the front of the plane, so that meant that no less than 50 people passed my seat.  Any of them could’ve spotted my wallet and helped themselves to the contents. 

A second call to the airline the next morning meant another small wait, while the helpful contact reached out to the morning crew to see if anyone found my wallet.  I waited an eternity - about 7 minutes - to finally hear my cell phone ring.  

They found it. 

I picked my wallet up from the Virgin counter at SeaTac airport and everything was in there.  Cash, license, credit cards - everything. 

Without a doubt, I was ecstatic that I got my wallet back.

I was even prouder that I didn’t lose my shit.   Did I love what happened?  Hell no, I’m not at master level with this, but I decided not to descend into complete panic. 

The way I see it, if you can live this principle, you become impervious to the vicious turns that life can take.  Almost like a super power. It does not mean that you don’t have any feelings about what has happened, nor does it mean that you cannot make moves to try and improve the situation.  It means that you recognize that your reaction to these circumstance is always a choice. 

This is acceptance in its truest form. 

Knowing that what happened cannot be changed and life must continue, even with this event as part of the timeline.  It’s where you can release it, so it has no power over you.  It’s you letting go of the notion of what should or what you wished had happened, instead accepting the reality of what did happen. 

This is a lifelong journey.  One you have to bring yourself back to daily.  The longer you are here on this plane of existence, the higher the probability that you will experience something potentially devastating.  

None of us is getting out of here alive, but we all have the power to decide how we’re going to spend the time we do have.   We can decide how we’ll react to our fate and whether or not what happens gets the best of us. 


On Armageddon

I’m not trying to shit on anyone’s religion.  Really, I’m not.  

There’s just one thing I cannot wrap my head around:  If an imminent date has been identified as the start of the rapture, why would you then give all of your material possessions away?  

I’m serious.  

This happened during Y2K and then again a few years ago . Again, in response, people gave all their stuff away.  This last time we were driving Lorren to a Tae Kwon Do tourney and a news story on the radio came on about "today" being the day.  
I was thinking how pissed off I was going to be if this indeed my last day on earth and I was spending it in a sweaty gym watch preteens try and beat the shit out of each other. 

But I digress...

These folks are giving away good shit, like TVs and speedboats and cars.  The whole thing defies logic.  If the world is going to end, then your neighbor won’t be able to use your flat screen either.  

Think it through, people.  

Enjoy your toys until the bitter end. 


Label Maker

Doesn’t everything about living feel a la carte now?  TV choices (cable v. Netflix v. Roku), investing, even your gender identity/sexual orientation.  I didn’t quite realize this until my daughter told me I was cisgendered.  

Say what now?

After an exasperated sigh (which no one can deliver quite like a teenager), she explained that it means that my insides match my outsides (in contrast to transgendered).  I identify as a woman and the body I was born with matches that identification.  It made my head hurt.  You know why?  Because she went on to explain that being cisgendered has nothing to do with my sexuality.  That’s yet another set of labels - heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, asexual, bisexual.  

There's also something called gender fluidity.  Fuck if I know what that means specifically. 


I don’t know if I can keep this all straight (no pun intended).  I can barely piece together all of the labels that apply to me.  I definitely cannot keep up with what other people are.  

I think I’m the vanilla version of what these labels are.  I don’t know how many of them it would take to describe rocky road.  

We should just stick with the label  ‘human being’. 

That’s fair and that covers everything.


A Small Rant

I don’t give a fuck about traffic, but every single day it seems like someone insists on talking about it. With me. 

Here is a recent conversation:

Them:  Did you ride the bus last Friday?
Me:  Ummm…yeah.
Them:  Did your bus take Freeway A or Freeway B?
Me: I don’t know, I was asleep.
Them:  Well they closed Exit X on Freeway B.  Traffic was horrible.
Me: Ummm…ok.

What am I supposed to do with that information? Who gives a fuck about traffic that happened in the fucking past?  I explained that I was asleep.  This isn’t the first time I’ve explained to this person that I either sleep or read on the bus.  I wouldn't know if the bus driver took surface streets or hitched a ride in the back of a semi like we were fucking Knight Rider.  Besides, traffic is the bus driver’s problem.  That’s why I pay for a bus pass - to be able to let go of bullshit like traffic.  Being aware of it or fretting over it changes absolutely nothing.  When I drive, then traffic is my problem, but I still don’t want to talk about traffic that happened days ago. 

What I’m simply saying is that you don’t have to fill silence with chatter.  If we find ourselves in the same place at the same time silence is perfectly acceptable.   Acting otherwise only does us both a disservice.   It makes you sound inane and I get a headache trying to hold a passive expression on my face instead of it morphing into one where I’m looking at you like I don’t understand why you are fucking talking.  


The Whip

In a marriage, do men really need to be ‘trained’?

I was having a conversation with two people - a man and a woman, both of whom are married - and the answer from both of them was a resounding yes. 

I wasn’t surprised at the woman’s answer, but had to do a double take when the man agreed.   The conversation felt like it was taking place in decades past, like when someone asked me if I thought they looked fat.  Since that’s not the narrative in my house, I didn’t realize that women (and apparently, men) still thought that way.  
The entire ‘training’ setup sounds objectionable on so many levels:

It assumes from the start that something is wrong with your man.   Circus animals and dogs are trained.  Your man should be your partner.  He’s already been raised and that cannot be undone.  I’m not saying he can’t evolve and grow, I’m just wondering who died and made you the final authority on how to behave. If he’s that terrible, that childish and inept - why would you fucking marry (or stay) with him?

Instead of a partnership, you create a parent-child dynamic.  If you feel your role in the relationship is to regularly monitor, critique and correct (read: control) the other person, that isn’t an adult relationship.  That’s a mother and child.  Just a word of caution here, shit could get lonely if you insist on taking this route.  No one wants to fuck their mother. 

Under the auspices of ‘training’, there seems to be a focus on all of the things the poor bastard is doing wrong.  With the ongoing correction regimen, most of the talk centers around all the things your man is not doing (or not doing right).  It negates anything good he does, because instead of feeling appreciative, your main focus is on what he needs to fix.  

There’s an assumption that somehow your shit is all together.  You need no changes, right?  If you’re going Emily Post, Queer Eye and Fashion Police on a dude, it must be because you're perfect, right?  There’s nothing about you that he’s turning a blind eye to?  Personally, I think the crusade to ‘fix’ a man (or anyone else) is a big honking distraction from the real work - yourself.  Besides, the basic rule is, you cannot fix other people, you can only fix yourself. 

Taking out the trash is a life or death situation.  The dishes were still in the sink.  Laundry wasn’t folded.  Bed wasn’t made.   Annoying? Perhaps, but not a capital offense.  Under this protocol, the trainer absolves herself of any responsibility for her behavior.  If she goes absolutely apeshit over a perceived infraction, well that just the way she is.  She can’t help it.  Bullshit.  Every single action we take everyday is a choice.  While we don’t choose what happens to us, we definitely choose our responses.  Assigning high emotional values (e.g you don’t love/respect/value me because you didn’t do this chore) to inconsequential activities is not going to make him wake up and see the error of his ways.  It just makes you look nuts. 

I’ve been married for nearly 14 years. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m a much different woman than the day I was on my wedding day.  My husband would say the same about himself.  We’ve grown together, but I went into the relationship not wanting to change anything about him.  Iyanla Vanzant said that in one of her books - and I'm paraphrasing here - but she said that when you meet the man you don't want to change, you know you've met the one.  It made complete sense to me, because I'd spent my first marriage hoping he'd change into someone I could actually be with. 

That's not love.  Not really.  It’s love with strings - if you become the person I want, then I can really love you.  It’s not the love promised in your wedding vows.  It's a facsimile of a relationship that only exists in your mind - because that's where the fictional version of your man lives too. 

Love him or leave him alone. 


I'm Clearly Dying

I’m pretty sure I think about dying too much. 

Ballpark estimate? 20 times a day.  

I'm not even sure why. 

Sometimes, I get these ‘pulse’ headaches - like in my temple.  There isn't any pain, just a slight pressure, for less than 5 seconds; however, in that moment, I am absolutely certain that I’m going to have a stroke and die.  

A few months back, I was having heart palpitations. Regularly.  I went to my doctor several times.  All kinds of tests run - blood, urine, x-rays.  More than once.  Apparently all my blood work, etc. is fine.  She thinks it’s stress.  I’m dying and she’s insisting that all these episodes are stress related.  I’m not sure I entirely believe her.  Even though my palpitations have stopped since I started meditating 2 months ago.  That’s just a huge coincidence.  The heart attack is still coming.

I sometimes imagine my commuter bus careening off of the side of the highway.  Me and the other 30-odd passengers being tossed around like rag dolls, breaking every bone in my body.  Buses don’t have seat belts.  I’m guessing it would take them at least 24 hours to find us, especially as it gets dark and we’re at the bottom of a 40 foot drop. I'm going to slowly bleed out from the bones jutting out of my body.

Less frequently, but still as frightening, I imagine myself waking up and finding a strange man standing over me.  He's going to do unspeakable things to me before choking me to death.  Yep, good times. 

Why am I letting my crazy leak out?  Again, no freakin' idea.  I just know that I feel a little bit better.

This is going to sound strange, but I don't actively fear death.  I like to use these thoughts as a way to help me appreciate whatever life I have left - even when they come to me completely unbidden. 

Maybe from now on I'll try to imagine myself peacefully passing away in my sleep...


To My Knees

Nothing brings a singular focus to your life like illness.   It trumps everything else.  I’ve spent the last 6+ days getting my ass handed to me by the flu.  It wasn’t as bad as it could be - I wasn’t hospitalized, but everything hurt.  My body was incredibly sensitive to touch, temperature and sound.  Nothing else mattered to me except feeling better - in any way possible. 

I don’t think I’ve ever had the flu best me in such a vicious way.  Really.  Three days was formerly my max and I went to work on the third day.   Nope, this time my body had been ravaged like the first Thanksgiving.

I realized a few things as I lay in bed, fighting for a comfortable position within my body:

I could actually rely on my baby sister to take care of me. We were visiting family in Seattle.  On the second full day of our visit, I dropped like a sack of rocks.  I was in bed from Saturday, until Tuesday afternoon, only because we had a flight home to catch. For days, my sister propped me up with drugs, tea, water and Jamba Juice.  She bought a thermometer and took my temperature.  She made me eat.  She plied me with loving looks and a warm hand on my forehead. Physically, I was a mess, but she nourished my soul (and got herself sick in the process).  It wasn’t that I didn’t already know that she was a caregiver, I did.  She took care of our Nana during those last, painful years.  I just didn’t know that she was going to have to take care of me.  

Thank you Leslye.  I love you.
Any of the remaining shit I continue to fret about is unimportant. When I was intermittently conscious, I had some time to think.  I couldn’t even read - it hurt my eyes.  Illness was my entire world, to the exclusion of everything else.  When you're sick, it's quite a simple process to figure out what's important and what isn't.  I did have the fleeting thought that if this is the way I was going to die, then that would be shitty.  Know why?  Because I’ve wasted a lot of fucking time while I was healthy not doing what the shit I was supposed to.  I'd spent lots of time watching TV.  Plenty of time shooting the shit. More time than I'd care to admit thinking instead of doing.  It was terrifying.  I was sorry - for all the time I’d wasted while I was healthy - doing nothing but bullshit.  Fretting about crap. Being too much in my head. Being lazy.  
Besides my immortal soul, good health is the most valuable thing I possess. I’ve always been healthy.  My body has always felt like it’s been on my side. I got pregnant and although I had five months of morning sickness, I only had four hours of labor.  I only gained 30 pounds and three weeks after giving birth I could fit back in my pre-pregnancy jeans.  My body has been my great friend. I cannot say the same. Not enough sleep.  Not enough water.  Shitty food.  No exercise for years on end.  Smoking (!).  My body is still trying to be here for me.  Now it's my turn to be here for it, after all we are in this thing together.  
More to come.  This is just the beginning.


The Void

Why one reads is important. If it’s just for escape, that’s all right, it’s like taking junk, it’s meaningless. It’s kind of an insult to yourself. Like modern conversation – it’s used to keep people away from one another, because people don’t feel assaulted by conversation so much as silence. People have to make conversation in order to fill up this void. Void is terrifying to most people. We can’t have a direct confrontation with somebody in silence – because what you’re really having is a full and more meaningful confrontation.
Marlon Brando, Playboy interview, 1979
Most people - at least the ones I come across - seem truly uncomfortable with silence.  Truly.   Me?  I like it.  A lot.  I appreciate that every silence does not have to be filled with sound.  It's a respite.  A welcome respite from the noise and confusion of the world.  A chance to think and recharge. 

Silence gives way to thoughts.  To strolling around unsupervised in one's own mind.  Not such a hot idea.  I’m misquoting here, but the average mind is basically a bad neighborhood that no one would ever willingly visit alone.  Obviously, because that’s where all our shit lives.  All the bad, scary voices.  All that baggage from childhood.  The failed relationships.  Our brokenness, our imperfections, the parts we hide from other people (the parts we hide from ourselves).

The modern world does not make it any easier.  There’s always something waiting to grab your attention - some flickering glowing screen that is demanding it’s due.  That’s just distraction. Sometimes I think people talk so that they don’t have to be alone with their own thoughts, but that’s a fools errand; I just don’t think it’s possible to live a fulfilled life without taking the time to visit the scary places.   

You have to make friends with your monsters. 

You have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

You have got to learn to live in the void.


The Best

I’m not into perfection.  In fact, any declarations of perfection make me wary ("This has to be perfect." or "I'm a perfectionist.").  It seems kind of silly; perfection isn’t possible. 

What’s more intriguing and swoon worthy is doing one’s absolute and uncompromising best.

What sounds better - and more attainable?  Being the perfect wife and mother OR being the absolute best wife and mother than I can be?  Perfect is always someone else’s idea and we feed and worship it until we actually think the pursuit of such a notion makes sense, but in that place we are never good enough.  

I'm convinced that the idea of perfection is a ruse designed to make perfectly good people behave like insane assholes, to themselves and others.  

Getting to the place where you sincerely believe without a doubt that you've given your absolute best to something...well, that's real perfection in my book. 

The sooner we can make peace with our best being enough, the soon we can get to the good stuff.  



Time Bandit

A few recent experiences have me questioning exactly what the fuck I do with my time:
  1. I reviewed my 2016 goals and realized that I had not accomplished ANY of them.  No, not one.  That was a nausea inducing punch to the gut.
  2. I looked at my annual credit card statement.  Christ on a cracker, did I really spend that much on Amazon?  
  3. I realized that I have 27 (yes, twenty seven) physical books sitting around waiting for me to read, most of which I was supposed to have read by the end of summer, 2016.

I’ve got to get my shit together.  

Wait, this isn’t a pity party.  Not by a long shot.  It’s not like I did nothing in 2016.  At my 9 to 5, I was part of a team that launched our new client-facing and internal website.  I also spent time traveling to other offices around the country, training people on the new website.  I was accomplishing my work goals…just not my other ones.

I’m not really a person that goes for the whole New Years Resolution.  Not in a formal way.  I don’t give up anything for Lent.  However, going into 2018 with 1, 2 and 3 remaining the same isn’t an option.

I think number one hurt the most because it included important writing goals and I never even got out of the gate.  I started slacking on my blog posts because I was “too tired” and the research I was doing for another project just fell to the wayside.  I also finished writing a short and I was sincerely interested in getting things together so I could make my film.  I have to write.  I need it.  When I don’t write, I get a little insane.  Instead of writing, I spent most of my weekends in 2016 falling asleep on my couch while trying to catch up on the shows on my DVR. I rationalized that I was using my weekends to recover from my work week.  I told myself that “next weekend” I would get back into the swing of things, but next weekend turned into months.

I’m not saying that I don’t need some form of recovery time or that I don’t need to sleep.  What I am saying is that I leaned into that excuse for too long and before I knew it, it was the end of the year and it had been months since I’d posted anything on Brick Sandwich and I was no further along on my writing projects.  Realizing that broke my heart a little.  It felt like a failure. 

Number two?  Well obviously I was on my computer - not writing.  I was too busy trolling Amazon looking for shit to buy.  I have a great job and very little overhead.  I’ve spent more time in my life counting my pennies than not, but I think I’ve now become a little too free with my discretionary income.  A while ago, I figured out that I wanted to be a person that values experiences over things, but the boxes  with the creepy arrow smile, that looks vaguely like a penis, were still showing up on my doorstep.  I will announce loudly that I don’t like to shop, but that really isn’t the entire truth.  I like to shop, but only online.  I hate trolling stores.  I loooooove books (hence problem #3).  Not all of the purchases were frivolous and I don’t have any credit card debt, but despite my hard work, I don’t feel completely comfortable with my improved financial circumstances.  Crazy, right?  Back when I was newly divorced, with an infant, about $25,000 in credit card debt and having to move back in with my parents, this - my current situation - was always my goal.  Back then, I’d see something I’d want and just dismiss it completely out of necessity.  I went years without buying anything new for myself.  I didn’t even have a cell phone, because I wasn’t spending $50 a month on something so frivolous.  If it wasn’t for my kid or on my debt, I wasn’t buying it.  

I’m grateful for that experience.  I learned soul changing lessons.  I never want to go back to that place again.  Ever.  It’s just that now that I can buy most things without really thinking about it, and…well, I don’t like that either.  It’s not that I haven’t earned it, I have.  What I don’t like is the unconscious spending.  I like it and I immediately click ‘add to cart’ or ‘buy with 1-click’ (damn you, Amazon!).   I feel out of control.  I’m setting myself up on a budget.

That’s brings us to number three.  I read a lot.  A lot.  Mostly on my Kindle.  It’s great for my long commutes to work, but not so great when you’re trying to be an active, engaged reader and highlight passages and make notes in the margins.  There were several books I wanted to read for that purpose and I completely dropped the ball.  Same old excuses and no discernible plan.  The pile just kept growing.  For this, I’ve made myself a pledge. I typed it up, listing every single book with a completion date of August 31, 2017.  I’ll cross them off as I finish. These books cost money - but it’s only money well spent if I actually read the books.  Looking at them sitting on a cabinet in my home office - well, that just feels like another failure.  Another broken promise to myself. Not cool at all.  

The problem is the same: waste.  Wasting time and wasting money.  Neither is good, but at least you can make more money.  I cannot ever get back any of 2016 and that weighs heavily on me.  Nothing can be done about that.  What I can do now is recognize the problem and take steps to eliminate the distractions.  

I’ve committed to posting twice a week on Brick Sandwich for 2017.   I’ve downloaded an app that allows me to turn off internet access to my computer for blocked periods of time.  I’ve shut down my Facebook account.  In the past,  I would have insisted on relying on willpower, but that isn’t enough.  I’ve gotta set myself up for success and if I can’t get on the internet for 4 or 5 hours while I’m supposed to be working, then I’ve got no choice but to either write or get reading on the next book on my list.  So far, it’s working.   These are just the first steps. I’ve got a lot further to go, but at least it feels like I’m moving in the right direction. 

I was reading a quote recently from a retired Navy Seal, Jocko Willink, who was featured in Tim Ferriss’ book ‘Tools of Titans’.  He said “discipline equals freedom”.  When I first read the quote, it made no sense to me.  Discipline is rigid and full of limitations.  Freedom feels easy.  But all I have to do is look at what happened with 2016 and I know that he’s exactly right.  Discipline would've gotten me a lot farther with my goals and I wouldn’t feel so shitty.  He also said “If you want to be tougher mentally, it is simple: Be tougher.  Don’t meditate on it.”  I spent so much time last year feeling guilty about not writing, but never really doing anything about it.   Just more meditating on it and more broken promises about writing the next weekend or when I got home from work.   It was a vicious cycle. 

In my heart of hearts, I long to be a good writer, but a prolific one too.  I need practice to get better, not excuses.  I admire people who can seemingly make a dollar out of fifteen cents, but with time.  That’s what I’m looking to do.  If I have 15 minutes - what can I do now?  If I’m waiting somewhere, what can I do right now to move things forward?   I may not always get blocks and blocks of time.  

What I know for sure is that the perfect time (when I’ve gotten enough sleep and nothing else needs my attention) will never come.  

I’ve got to make the most out of what I have right now and see where that takes me.