10 Minutes

Today is a great day. I feel really positive today, even though it's a little bit chilly outside. Yesterday afternoon, I planted our modest vegetable garden. I am keeping it very simple and sparse this year. A couple weeks ago, I added some fresh topsoil and composted manure fertilizer to the raised bed in the backyard and covered it all with black landscape fabric to prevent weeds. Yesterday, Deborah and I went to the nearby garden center and bought some vegetable and flower seedlings. The flowers are intended for the flower bed in front of our house and we will likely work on planting those tomorrow, weather permitting. The vegetable seedlings were tomatoes (2), broccoli (2), zuchini (1), and yellow squash (2). I don't want to overcrowd the raised bed and all of these vegetables have a pretty large footprint. I cut holes in the landscape fabric and transplanted the seedlings into the garden. This way, I only need to weed and water around the bases of the vegetable plants, because the landscape fabric will minimize weed growth in the area that it covers.

In about six minutes, I am going to start a focus block of book writing work for about four hours, which may be briefly interrupted around noon when the tree guy comes to take care of a fallen weeping willow branch in our yard.

I have some chores I need to tend to that are weighing on my mind. I have a strong compulsion to take care of these chores before I start my focus block, but that's only because I am a little OC about that and don't want the distraction of unresolved chores to impede my writing progress. In reality though, there will always be chores and there is no great urgency on these particular chores. In fact, the ball is in other peoples' court right now, so it is really up to them to do their jobs and my pestering them about it is unnecessary busy work. I had planned to have a focus block today and I am not going to let anything screw it up. Boom. My book isn't going to write itself after all.

I'll conclude this free writing exercise with a non sequitur by noting that Larabars are pretty awesome whole food snacks. Check out the simple ingredients list of these Pecan Pie Larabars. Nothing refined or artificial. No sugar. No gluten or even flour for that matter. Just three totally whole food ingredients: dates, pecans, and almonds.

Deborah and I keep several flavors of Larabars on hand as part of our healthy diet.


The Lightest I Can Ever Remember Being

I weighed in at a solid 209 pounds this morning, the lightest I have weighed since any neurons in my brain that recalled a lower weight were annihilated, probably during my college years.

Losing almost 40 pounds over the past year was no easy feat, but nor was it especially difficult. It was what people call in the vernacular "not rocket science." I started eating healthy food and limited snacks and junk food to rare or special occasions, coupled with goal setting milestones and rewards (more on this in a minute). I joined a gym with my wife Deborah and began going there about thrice weekly for an hour or more, also incorporating moderate swimming and weight lifting into my regimen, something I never bothered with before. This kept me quite a bit more active through the cold Wisconsin winter months, when I would normally go dormant and sedentary in the past. It also diversified the portfolio of muscle groups that got some exercise every once in a while, increasing my overall basal metabolic rate.

I did not limit my caloric intake at all during my fitness kick, so I did not feel like I was ever dieting. Instead, I focused on eating as much nutritious food as I wanted and limited refined carbs, including keeping unhealthy snacks out of the house. I tracked my weight in a simple smart phone app and set achievable weight loss milestones. When I hit my milestones, I rewarded myself with a dietary "free day." To wit, for one day after achieving the goal, I can (if I choose) eat anything I want without guilt, but only for that one day (and it's a very fun and gluttonous day, I'll have you know). That way, I can still enjoy cake or milkshakes or fried cheese curds or pizza once in a rare while, but it is coupled with my fitness goals in a positive way. 

For example, my most recent goal was to get my weight below 210 pounds. I hit that solidly today, which means I can grant myself a free day here pretty soon. I'll naturally transiently go up a few pounds in net weight right after the free day due to the onslaught of empty calories entering my gut, but my next weight goal after that will be to get below 205 pounds, meaning I have to continue trending downward in weight before I can have another free day. So there is a potent incentive to stay on track, notwithstanding the 24 hours of unbridled gustatory hedonism.

Leave a comment or a question in the COMMENTS section below and I'll be happy to answer ASAP.


Live in the Now

It's common sense...but good luck trying to convince your pesky mind of this. The only reality that matters is RIGHT NOW.

The past already happened and can't be undone. Regretting past actions or feeling sad about things that happened to you in the past creates negative energy that subtracts from the positivity of the present moment and depletes your human potential in proportion to how much you dwell on past negativity. We humans tend to focus on past bad or sad things and often take past happiness and success for granted. The latter things can't be changed either, but when you are stuck on past negativity, a possible solution is to redirect your focus on something good from the past and use that to guide your present actions. Taken to the extreme, obsessing on past negativity leads to sadness and depression in the now, but that is counterproductive to moving forward in a positive direction and can lead to stagnation and failure to grow and progress as a human. Given that the past cannot be changed in reality, you have within you the power to change how it affects you in the now by using your brain to limit negative thoughts and focus on positive ones.

Exercise: When you catch yourself having a sad thought or a regret from the past, take a moment to reflect on something good that happened instead and embrace that positive energy.

The future hasn't happened yet and even the best minds can't predict with 100% accuracy what will happen. Worry about worst case scenarios or fear of failure in the future is counterproductive to actualizing the future you want. Worst case scenarios seldom occur. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I am going to make bad choices today and eff up my future." Everyone wants good things to happen in the future. The best way to achieve this is not to think about bad or negative future outcomes, but rather to visualize the best case scenarios and positive outcomes. If you don't already have one, begin to picture a vision for a future that would make you happy. You cannot predict the future in reality, but you can visualize it in your mind. You have that power, and having a solid vision for a positive future can guide your current actions in the direction of that future. You can periodically assess your current actions and situation against the vision and make small, actionable adjustments to steer you on the right path to future positive happenings.

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on the couch and meditate for 15 minutes (set a timer if you have to). Direct your thoughts toward a positive vision for your future, and picture yourself in that future. It doesn't have to be realistic, but it should be a future you want for yourself. The goal here is not to set unachievable expectations for yourself, but rather to orient your present being in the general direction of that future reality. Your mind will generate a magnetic pole based on that future vision and cause the present to orient toward it like iron filings to a magnet. Repeat this exercise daily or as often as you like. Over the next few days or weeks, you may be surprised how much progress you make toward your envisioned future.


Chore Crushing

Deborah and I crushed some chores today. The TO DO list was and still is long, but we strategized for maximal time efficiency and pounded out a fair chunk of it today.

The day started as it usually does, with 15 minutes of calming zen meditation. Most days I meditate on my own to some music chosen carefully from my ample, albeit outdated, CD collection. Today Deborah joined me and we zoned out on some relaxing spa type music she found on Youtube. Afterwards, I put in an hour of piano practice while Deborah got ready for the action packed day ahead.

Our first stop, at around noon, was the Pink Poodle consignment shoppe for women, a store that re-sells womens' undesirable but still fashionable clothes and shoes, and cuts you in on the profit from any sales. With my help, Deborah has been purging vestments from her supersaturated walk in closet and she had a solid pile of threads to ditch on the secondhand clothing market. While the staff at Pink Poodle assessed the value and marketability of the garments, Deborah drove me and a box of books and records over to Half Price Books. I submitted the latter to their Buy Counter staff in exchange for a small amount of cash, some of which then went to purchasing a secondhand paperback by Edward Abbey entitled "Black Sun." Pink Poodle only deemed three or four items of Deborah's discarded wardrobe worthy of resale at their establishment ("shenanigans!"), so we went to another different and less stringent consignment shoppe, which gladly accepted the remaining clothes.

After that, we drove over to Edgewood College, where I'll start graduate school in the fall, so I could clear up a financial aid biff on their part. That went smoothly enough and then we were off to Costco for a much needed supply run there.

Somewhere in between all this running around, Deborah used the Magical Internet to submit some of our wedding pictures to Walgreens to get tranformed via alchemy into prints that we'll send to my mom as a Mothers Day gift (not a spoiler, since my mom asked for this...HI MOM!). After Costco, Deborah dropped me and the groceries off at home. While she went to Walgreens to pick up the pictures from the photo wizards there, I attempted to find space in the kitchen to put away all the goods. This necessitated purging a bunch of expired flour, spray oils, canned goods, drink mixes, and other abandoned crap from a portion of our pantry, a task that needed to be done anyway. So add that inadvertancy to the tally of destroyed tasks today.

"I feel like we maybe don't need to go to the gym," I told Deborah after she got home. "I think we got a good workout running all those errands."

"Yeah. I'm pretty wiped," she concurred.

I made some food and then we both succumbed to power naps to round out a very productive day. After I woke up, I did some creative work, culminating with this blog post. Now I am going to call it a day and watch some TV as I slowly prepare for a good night's sleep.

The key is herbal energy supplements, my friends, most importantly RHODIOLA and ASIAN ENERGY BOOST from Life Extension, a high end nutritional supplement company. They work!


An Unscientific Study Result

As many of you know, dear readers, I have been using myself as a guinea pig to study how lifestyle behaviors affect health and well being. I have a conclusion to report based on this ongoing, unscientific case study.

Working out at the gym for one hour, three to four times per week, leads to significant weight loss when conducted for a six month period. I have lost about 30 pounds since applying this protocol. This result is confounded somewhat due to the simultaneous implementation of healthier dietary habits over the same period. However, it is believed the diet variable acts synergistically with the exercise variable on body weight outcomes. This result is applicable to the cross section of the population that is ME.

Today, my body weight was 209 pounds, down from a high of 240+ pounds a couple of years ago. Most of the weight loss occurred during the exercise treatment period.


Da Wedder

Dear Giant Internet Brain and Associated Carbon Based Gangliar Nodes,

It's a beautiful weather day here in the analog world of Middleton WI. The weather forecast online in the digital realm claims that the high today will top out at only 58 Fahrenheit degrees, but I will be perfectly honest with you...I was just outside gardening for the past 90 minutes in a tee shirt, and the ambient temperature of the atmosphere is currently pushing 70 degrees and rising, so I'm gonna call shenanigans on the GIB's assessment of reality. Analog reality trumps virtual reality every time.

After morning meditation and a half hour of jazz piano practice, I took a fresh jug of Roundup out to the front garden bed and applied a proverbial "scorched earth" policy to the embryonic weeds that foolishly chose to settle there. There is about a 50% likelihood of collateral damage to some of the non-weeds in the flower patch, but well worth the risk when it comes to exterminating ISIS...er, I mean thistles. Once that was completed, I took to the backyard and raised bed garden with the spray weedkiller.

Last week, Deborah and I bought a bunch of top soil and composted manure fertilizer. My next gardening task this morning was to dump said "dirt" into the raised bed garden, grade and level it, and cover it with black landscape fabric, which I secured with landscape staples. This will help to keep weeds to a minimum in this year's garden. The way it will work is that we will buy vegetable seedlings at the garden shoppe and I will cut holes in the landscape fabric where we want to plant them. We will only have to weed the weeds that come up through the cut holes and the sides of the raised bed.

Deborah and I had considered installing a second raised bed garden this spring, and we still might, but it was found to be cost prohibitive this year. Apparently, we got a really good deal on the Costco raised bed materials last year, but they aren't offering them this year and these cost three times as much on Amazon. So we might put in a smaller raised bed and just plant a flower or prairie garden.

Gardening complete, my sights are turning toward today's exercise regimen. Last week we bought Deborah a sweet new bike and with weather this awesome, it's the perfect time to take it out for a spin. Deborah will be trying out clipless pedals with SPD cleated bike shoes for the first time and I want to make sure she feels comfortable using them. She's busily making phone calls this morning to change her last name with various banks, businesses, and bureaus.

After biking, we may run a few errands before I head out to drive Uber and Lyft a spell. She wants me to get new glasses, even though my prescription hasn't changed, because my old ones are wearing out. I am not sure I want to spend a ton of money on glasses though. But if it makes Deborah happy and I find something reasonably affordable, I'll do it.

Ciao now!


10 Minute Free Write on Tuesday 05/02/17

I really love my new wife and eternal soulmate Deborah. I know it sounds totally gushy to say, but this is a free write and I am not allowed to edit what I have already written. That said, I promise not to gush about Deborah any further, other than to say she is the awesomest.

I was in a super shitty mood on Monday (yesterday). I had insomnia on Saturday and Sunday nights, due to some rude and inconsiderate house guests, and got a combined four hours of sleep over the weekend.

"You're a dick!" I yelled out my car window at a punk-assed millenial in a shitty car who smugly blew through a red light in front of oncoming traffic. His window was down and I knew he heard me, though I don't know if he cared.

Realizing my mood on Monday was not conducive to my usual Monday job of Uber and Lyft driving, I instead took my car to Tires Plus for an oil change. They had an opening in their schedule, so I left my car there and walked the 1.5 miles or so home. The exercise did my mood a little bit of good.

Right now, I am at Barriques coffee shoppe in Middleton WI working on some reading and writing. I am reading Stephen King's book, "On Writing," a non-fiction of his where he basically gives his two cents on the art and science of writing. He says a person should read as much as they write, if they want to be a good writer. I am down with that. I am going to go read that book for a spell right now, before doing some REAL writing work on my science fiction novel.