Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Non-Snake Oil Way to Regrow Hair?

Larry of the Three StoogesThis article will be the odd man out. It may be unusual for me to talk about a physical self-improvement matter since I spend so much time focusing on cognition and emotions, but this is a self-improvement blog, so all things relevant are on the table.

Anyhow, for a few years now I've been dismayed at how much I've thinned on the top. Even though I never have hair cutters take any off the peak, it usually never grows longer, except for my bangs hanging across my face. When my hair is patted down it shows the scalp's skin to an embarrassing degree, and since my sides grow so thick I end up looking like Larry Fine (from the Three Stooges, image above) at my thickest.

But ah! Man with Male Pattern Baldness are doomed to have it by genetic default, aren't they? Well, perhaps not.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Conduct a Memory Dig to Unearth Knowledge

Photo by Leo HarderRecently I read this very interesting article on memory that intrigued me with its assertion that memory improves by attempting to memorize *harder* things, that which is hard to come to mind. I'm surprised I didn't think about that myself.

As previously mentioned, I'm very fond of the Tell Me Everything You Know technique, which is essentially a mnemonic technique wherein you recall the learnings of the day. The thing the articles points out that I missed is that by writing in the items that easily leap to mind means that I'm not really making *additional* progress in learning. That is, I'm not challenging my memory sufficiently to actually get better; sticking to recalling easy things means you've already mastered them.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Are You Goku or Vegeta?

Found on Wikipedia, created by Bird Studio/Shueisha and Toei Animation.Strange what cross-identifications the mind can make when contemplating something during a particular mood.

While irritated with something, I got to thinking about a show I really enjoyed called *Dragon Ball Z*. Concisely, it's about people using martial arts to save the world, with unique metaphysics involving flying, shooting disembodied (or pure) energy, and so on. My irritation at the time happen to be about my abilities and my visibility to others, and suddenly it struck me that two characters have differing mentalities related to this issue.

Two important characters in the show are Goku and Vegeta, the former the main character. Throughout the series they're primarily rivals to each other, the leftover survivors of an alien race who compete -- in a way -- to see who can come out on top. Goku, from the start, always stays on top, and perhaps its this pair's particular approach to self-improvement -- their particular mindset -- that determines definitely whether or not they actually succeed.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Practical Autodidactism is Inherently "Messy"

By Josembea (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia CommonsHopefully you haven't forgotten our little mission in autodidactism! . . . you did, didn't you! Oh . . . well, I'll remind you.

My greatest educational curiosity right now how great men like Clarence Birdseye and Leonardo Da Vinci taught themselves. That is, they were primarily autodidacts that depended on their own self-teaching to expand their knowledge. This is of great intrigue because these men not only made a mark in history, but also have managed to be productive and well-off too, such as Clarence Birdseye, who became a millionaire from his inventions. (Or think of Thomas Edison.)

This flies in the face of the usual picture of learning, inoculated from school, where a person recluses himself in a library and studies books day in and day out. The traditional schooling method of learning primarily in a classroom-like fashion may be fine for bringing up children, but the fact that people like Birdseye are able to become so intelligent, competent, productive, AND rich says that an entirely different method of learning is practical. After all, for such men as him to become so wealthy means he has no time to camp out in libraries. The autodidactism of great men is a totally unacknowledged subject in today's culture.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Angry Resting Face: Fixable?

Recently I had a considerable revelation about my "Angry Resting Face" which changes my whole way of looking at it, and offering hope of fixing it. (Factor X explained here.) One day I was randomly, for whatever reason, reminiscing about my last three years in Michigan, and some interesting events caught my sight.

Somewhere down the line in revisiting those memories I realized that a couple people in my family responded to me in uniquely different ways over time, which may offer up a huge clue as to the true nature of Angry Resting Face. Perhaps it isn't a genetic default after all. Perhaps it's actually an unintentional perceptual tell of one's discontentment.

I don't want to be super-specific, but when I lived in Michigan, right after I dropped out of college, I lived with a person with whom I was on good terms an the time. I was very focused on fixing myself and creating a better self, and with great, sustained effort I managed to transform significantly, totally changing my thinking habits and giving myself an unusual appetite for life, a happiness I had never been able to experience before.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shall I Change the Title?

I know that I'm a bad blogger at present, writing so infrequently, but I could use some input: Would it be worthwhile to change the title of this blog to something like *What a Giant Does* or *What Giants Do*?

Embarrassingly, it took me some months, but recently I noticed that my current title of *A Giant Doing* could be interpreted as an arrogant supposition of myself somehow being a "giant", and what "I" "do." I don't claim to be a giant, but I can see how the title might accidentally insinuate myself.

This blog is geared towards self-improvement, especially mental and cognitive self-improvement, and I wanted to use Rod Serling's quote "A giant is as a giant does." to emphasize that the focus here is that in order to become great in life, you have to have great habits, and the lives of people like Leonardo Da Vinci (a tremendous polymath) are worth examining for methods to adopt. (It is also a rebellion against those obsessed with appearance. I remember too much in my youth how often people got away with being consider good or decent because they could smile and look nice, the involved parties ignoring their horrible behavior.)

A change wouldn't be too much, but first some input would be nice. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Directed Attention Fatigue: Coping and Defeating

Probably the greatest intellectual problem I've faced in self-improvement over these past several years is dealing with the problem of Directed Attention Fatigue. Oh! I kick myself for not researching it sooner, for a gigantic problem it is!

Directed Attention Fatigue, I've recently learned, is the phenomenon where one's powers of concentration and/or focus are depleted, and are either inhibited, lessened, or even totally unavailable until a recovery period has passed.

For me, this has been nearly the number-one obstacle to my desired cognitive improvements. During my fiercest autodidact days I would concentrate so hard that I would arrive at the point I literally could not concentrate any more regardless of any acts of will. I viewed this as an accomplishment, as I have a hypothesis that the greatest mental growth occurs when you push yourself to exhaustion, much like how properly intense exercise (such as BODY BY SCIENCE) leaves the muscles sore. I analogize it as “pushing” one's walls – one's limits – further and further away by actually hitting it, by actually hitting limits.

The difficulty is that after I had accomplished the feat my concentration would, surprisingly, be gone for several days. If I picked up a book I was trying to study my eyes would quiver left and right, my vision would go blurry, and the mind blank. It was literally gone for the duration of the recovery period, and I was forced to take a break.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Seven Ways a Stopwatch Can Change You

A few posts ago I mentioned that a stopwatch is one of my most important self-improvement gadgets. For years I've not only used it for workouts, but also to speed myself up at my dish-washing jobs.

It wasn't until a few nights ago that I fathomed how comprehensively a stopwatch actually changes me. It isn't just a mere tool of speed, but something that actually affects the character: It changes your habits, motivation, potential, psychology. Aside from enhancing efficiency, I've found it actually changes me as a person.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Paying Attention to the Good Things

While writing an entry in my "Tell me everything you know" journal last night, I was completing the section where I write down the good things of the day, to feed my spirits, when it impressed me how unusually large the number of items I put down were. It was in great excess than what I can usually push myself to write.

Immediately I noticed there was a subtle, but still purposeful, shift in the methodology I had been using. In mulling over some disappointments with people who have let me down -- those who reciprocate little of the attention I've given them -- I realized that it's nonsensical to pay any sort of mental attention to those who offer no attention back, and from then on strived to shut those people out of my mind with the aid of click-tracking. It's not only focusing on negative things; it also shuts out awareness of the good things that are in my life, such as the friends I actually have who pay me good affections, but to whom I may not be reciprocating in equal value for my folly in focusing on the cold disappointments.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

For Those Aimless: Take Comfort in the Process

One angle I just realized in regards to my process for creating passion is that understanding the process of creating passion itself can alone be used as a stress-relief fallback.

Being aimless in life, not having major goals, is an extremely uncomfortable state to be in. Not only does one feel totally lost, one also feels an incertitude about the worth of each and any actions, and it's hard to feel secure in making any commitment without the security of knowing it fits into the major picture. Without major endpoints to drive your life towards, it feels impossible to be in control and achieve your happiness, and that extremely stressful to endure.

However, I'd like to emphasize that if you can summon the confidence that such a process as mine will certainly lead to a direction in due time, then consciously put those worries away and trust the process. Simply trust the process.

If the process gives no reason to be doubted, then it's fruitless to entertain and visualize worries and concerns, no? In such a state they're simply wasted mental energy that amounts to no worthy conclusions or action plans.

Thus, if you're presently aimless in life and simply don't know what to do with it, but do, on the other hand, know what's necessary to actually create a passion, whatever it may be, then simply act. It will be a certitude that you'll cultivate it along the way, and all you need to do is be sincere in your efforts and let things unfold as they may.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Praise of *Zen Pencils*

I feel really silly for not bringing up the website Zen Pencils sooner, for it's one of the greatest comics I've come across in a long time. (Thanks to Jason Stotts for bringing it to my attention. [Note: The link goes to an explicit website about the philosophy of sex.])

The purpose of the website, for the most part, is to take well-know sayings and quotes and to symbolize them through the drawings in the comics, thereby making it much clearer as to what the ideas mean in reality. That is, put to actual practice. Even if you find a well-known quote you've heard before you may find it resonates much more strongly.

Last night I took the time to purvey the entire archives to date, and I can hardly find a thing wrong with any of the comics. The majority of them are overwhelmingly good and effective.

I thoroughly recommend it for it's an excellent source of spiritual fuel and motivation.

There's too many good ones for me to establish a short list of links, but if I had to choose one, I'd choose the below, for it represents so strongly that we are the measure of our actions. I made it my desktop wallpaper too, for a daily reminder:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Justification for Occasional Laziness (and Better Methods for It)

Recently I read an interesting article the importance of downtime, citing great men like Warren Buffett, postulating that their downtime could be a major element in how they've become so great. You know, for the usual reasons, such as the brain building itself up from sleep and whatnot.

That resonated with me because it pointed out a flawed effort I used to make during intense study, in that I refused to offer myself sufficient recreation after I exerted myself. I would be so adamant on chasing my goals, being disciplined, and always wringing myself for progress that I would burn out and linger in many areas, sometimes writing articles full of foolish errors I could have avoided, or having my vision go blurry every time I attempted to concentrate.

I still think that such intense effort -- to the point of getting those side-effects -- is admirable, for it means you hit your absolute limit, wherein, after your repair, your abilities will vastly expanded. The greatest leaps in my abilities have occurred through such intensity. It might be unpleasant to work yourself to the point of such utter exhaustion, but give yourself the thumbs up if you do!

However, this article wisens me up to know that when you reach such a point you should really grant yourself a great expanse of recreation, otherwise you won't have sufficient time to repair yourself, such as through sleep and playtime, in order to experience those new levels of performance. This is why, for example, you should have rest days in between intense muscle-building workouts: The fatigued muscles simply need days to repair themselves, otherwise performance goes down and progress is halted.

The same applies to the brain, for all mental activities.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Kind of Power in a Stopwatch

Stopwatch by Wouterhagens of Wikipedia CommonsNow that I've spoken about using a sports tally counter, I'm getting myself all enthused about self-improvement gadgetry, and am recalling all the aides that helped me so much. It's restoring much needed interest, for I realize I was actually foolish to cease habits of using certain gadgets that have proven their worth so many years ago.

For example, the simple stopwatch.

Years ago, I discovered that using a stopwatch in the right contexts was a great psychological motivation tool. Having gotten my first job at a restaurant, I wanted to improve my speed, and I got a stopwatch so I could set precise records in certain tasks.

What kind of practice you'd want to set up, if you wanted to try it, will vary with interest, of course, but for me back then, I went through the pains of setting up a word document to record my times at work. I would set a definite start and end to a task, such as mopping a certain section of the floor, utilize my stopwatch, and record my time.

The most intriguing effect is that it causes a surge of motivation to flood me whenever I used it. Activating it, it became very emotionally real that time was passing and there was a recorded document stating how well I should perform at the task, and I would erupt in a flurry to meet or beat my record. "Working fast" feels totally different when you formally time yourself.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tally Counting to Personal Change

Tally Counters by Wesha of Wikipedia CommonsAfter years of procrastinating on it, I'm finally getting myself a sports tally counter, that clicker device used to count. Oh, it'll help with so many self-improvement goals! I've used other things like putting tally marks in a notepad or transferring pennies from one pocket to another, but this will make the practice the smoothest possible.

The device may not look that valuable, but, using the right method, it can be an outrageously potent self-improvement aid, and I've always been extremely pleased by what a great help it is.

In short, my love for this technique is that it uses awareness to crush unwanted habits. What I do is define the perimeters of a habit I'm trying to get rid of, and whenever I notice a violation I take note of that incident, such as by putting that slash in a notepad, transferring a penny, or soon to be clicking that counter. With absolute consistency, it's shocking how fast a habit changes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Friends Help Friends With Invisible Aesthetics

Invisible Man Living Statue by Georges "JoJan" JansooneA long while ago I complained about having "Factor X," which was a set of some kind of attributes that I thought had an unfortunate impact on my life, and that I needed to resolve in order to get moving on ahead.

Factor X turned out to be two things: An accent and angry "resting face." I have an accent because my hearing-impairment causes me to interpret phonetics differently, which affects my speech, and for whatever physical reasons I also have an unintentionally mean and intense looking face (or, at least, a lot of people interpret it that way).

Factor X made me fret since I thought that it would be far more a struggle than necessary to maintain good human relationships since a lot of people tend to notice these features and misinterpret them wildly every which way. Some may interpret my accent as a sign of mental disability and underestimate me, or another may interpret it as a sign of intelligence . . . ironically . . . and then get offended, thereon displaying their vocabulary and foreign languages to "get" at me. The intense face, on the other hand, can frighten people into thinking they're about to get into a confrontation, and I've been surprised by all sorts of defensive mannerisms, such as instantaneous yelling, when trying to engage in friendly conversation.

I've come to terms that while I can do some things to treat Factor X, I ought to make peace with it by and large, for the misinterpretations of these features are mistakes belonging to other people, and it's worrying too much about what other people think to dedicate so much attention to solving these. A good life with great friends is still possible regardless, so I oughtn't fret so much.

Anyhow, the one thing I figured out is that Factor X has a much better term available: I would call these Invisible Aesthetics. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

An Experimental Recipe for Creating Passion

Uh-oh, I have to admit that in my present stage of life, I'm lost as to what to do, or what to dedicate myself to. In trying to choose my next major endeavor, my ideas are rather dry.

These past several years I wanted to become a chef who owned his own restaurant (and beyond), much to the caliber of the still-living legends of Grant Achatz of Charlie Trotter, but such a dream has faded. My interests in the culinary arts will probably remain strong for the rest of my life – for the love of cheese, charcuterie, and pemmican! – so I just no longer have the interest in the particular vein of becoming a chef-owner of a restaurant. I've hit a dead-end since I lacked the knowledge that working one's way up from the dish-pit is a impractical route, for too many employers have the perverse incentive to keep you there, so I'm going to have to pursue my culinary interests and education by another route.

That urges me to reopen the thinking topic as to what the ingredients to passion actually are, that fierce set of emotions that throw you into a career or set of careers your whole life, driving you to work harder and longer than anyone of weaker interest could ever make themselves. Having passion is one of the things that make life worth living, for it consists of deep, rich, and consistent emotions that make life worthwhile, and its experience gives one that sense of certainty that one's chosen pursuits are the right ones to be dedicating time to, other options not worth worrying about.

I think it's a huge fallacy that so many people giving advice on choosing a career focus on cycling through options to choose what's most suitable. It neglects the first essential step of actually enabling one to emotionally experience passion in the first place, thus putting the horse behind the carriage. Without nurturing a emotional capacity that can generate passion, choosing a path in life one can feel certain and fulfilled in is impossible, so any cycling through options is hopeless guesswork.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Usual Birthday Introspection

Ah, so today is my 25th birthday! That means I'm literally a quarter of a century years old now . . . quarter of a century! Multiply by two, and I'm fifty! It's not disturbing to think in that way, but how odd my age looks applying the math like this. 

As always, one's birthday tends to force an introspection about life. I think I know why some people hate their birthdays rather than relish them: It's near unavoidable to thinking about how your life measures up to your standards now that the digits have changed, whether one is reaching important standards up to this point, or is failing to make the grade. Perhaps that's why we have their weird social norm that it's impolite to ask a lady her age; due to that awkward "forced" introspection. 

Picking at myself, I admit my own birthday is lukewarm. I've come a long way, yet there's still further to go. 

Primarily, I need to stop being hard on myself and focus on the steps on the paths I need to take, rather than scolding myself so harshly for my errs.  It disappoints me that I, as an author of a self-improvement blog, can't claim the credit of having an overall set of good habits, to display my array of successes and up my credibility, but that's okay. Self-improvement is a process. I speak from prior successful experience, and submit myself to the process of bringing myself up all over again. 

My particular point of disappointment is that despite having lived in Texas for three years now, I have yet to fully restore the fierce ambition, determination, and emotional healing that I managed in Michigan, before I wore down from the stress of being trapped in an unhealthy familial relationship. Progress has been lumpy, from highs of being a man of indefatigable productivity and intellect, to lows of losing a great job by walking out on it, a very painful incident. Oh! And procrastinating on autodidactism! For three years I have yet to fully rededicate myself to vigorous self-learning. 

Though, not all is lost. Nothing is lost, really. I just needed to learn more about the natures of the difficulties I struggled with, from stress management to dishonest people, and the pain I've endured to now will pay off -- if I exercise my freewill -- in a great wisdom of how to keep up traction in life. No more naivete slapping me in the face like a wet fish. It's been learned how to cope with stress, get bad people out of life, and so on; now's the time to put action into practice, to fully measure as a man. 

How shall I celebrate this day? Well, it's one of those typical days where you've still got your job and other things to tend to, so I suppose I'll do a belated celebration by visiting the arboretum in a few days, something I've been pining for all year! 

More importantly, what do I think my life can amount to from here on, for the rest of the portion of life I have yet to live? Lots, of course; no use in dwelling on the spilled milk of the past. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Praise of "Kids' Stuff"

One of my petty pet peeves are people who will dismiss something, such as an animated movie, because they believe it to be “kids' stuff,” something unbefitting for an adult intellect. They therefore then ignore it and won't partake in it.

This is an unfortunate mistake, for I believe a lot of things deemed kids' stuff is done so for fallacious reasons, and to dismiss them not only deprives one of a potential value that could contribute to the enjoyment of life, but also talks down to the creators who put a lot of thought and work into their creations.

As an example, I submit my own case, where I dismissed Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse comics and later got refuted, much to my pleasure.

Given the sterile image of golly-gee Mickey Mouse, I immediately dismissed the idea of being able to enjoy Mickey Mouse comics, the three-word combination of which sounds silly on its own. His popular image is that of such a goody-two shoes that he seems fit for either greeting cards, toddlers' education programs, and a caricature  to be laughed at.

When I first heard they were taking the effort to reprint the comics created by some guy Floyd Gottfredson, I dismissed it for months. . . but then one day I ran into one of his comic sequences *Island in the Sky*, printed in another comics anthology, and was surprised to be impressed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Momentum Protection

Photo by Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental ProtectionOne of the things I worry about the most is being able to maintain a good set of habits once I do get myself into a mode of quashing my major vices and maintaining consistent progress in any area.

Personally, I don't think achieving success and completing goals are that hard. What's truly hard is setting oneself up in a kind of habitual momentum that presses one towards progress regardless of setbacks and obstacles, and then the task maintaining that momentum. Once that momentum is set, some of the hardest things can become shockingly manageable. 

For instance, intense and slowly completed weight-lifting exercises. (Called “super slow.”) They're incredibly difficult because the slow speed of the individual exercises matched with the discipline of form make this exercise style one of the most uncomfortable styles out there, and on the far end of a set, right when one is running out of strength, a dramatic amount of willpower is needed to maintain the pace and form, to stick it out until the end instead of given into the immense urge to give up. It's very difficult to perform any such workout like this, especially to maintain such incredible exertion it as a consistent habit. 

However, I've noticed that when performing these workouts in a period when I've got good momentum going – when I'm doing well to tend to virtuous habits and avoid my vices – the strength of my character transforms how these workouts feel. On the far end of a set, the most uncomfortable portion, my mind is absent of temptation to give up and my determination to finish with a new record actually goes through the roof, as if to emotionally rebel against the discomfort. In this state of momentum, I have never performed better at such difficult exercise and succeeded so well, all without the support of a trainer, too. 

It's highly desirable, of course, for all of us to maintain this kind of mindset when it comes to approaching the affairs of life, for if we can make a habit of it, then we're pretty much guaranteed to gain success one way or another, for in essence we're making a habit out of chasing and gaining progress without having to exert willpower to push against internal resistance. 

Yet, the thing I fear is how to protect this thing? How do we strengthen ourselves against the unexpected things which may derail us? I myself have suffered multiple times being derailed from periods of ambition from things I couldn't grasp or foresee. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Applicable Significance of *Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde*

One thing I need to start reminding myself more of on a daily basis is the true metaphorical meaning of Steven Louis' tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for it surely applies well to my life right now, though not in the good vs evil way. Though, this is worth explaining in perhaps unanticipated ways.

I think the deeper meaning of this story is at large either too unknown or unacknowledged in today's culture, particularly because people may not have heard of the story from the author's own work. It gets reinterpreted across a vast array of mediums from plays to children's picture books, and some authors even rewrite the story in totality in their own words, further obfuscating its meaning as people may not even remember this story even had an originator. Louis' original writing is well-worth the read for its better understanding of human nature and how it ought to apply to daily living, especially since so many retelling of the story are frankly bastardized.

By and large, most understandings of the story either portray Dr. Jekyll as someone who split himself into good and evil personas, or else had some monster become born out of the potion he drank, but the former is inaccurate and the latter is false. Really, Dr. Jekyll was a man who had irrational desires, and by striving to satisfy those irrational desires without sacrificing his virtues and the good things he's earned, such as his prestige as a doctor or the respect of peers, he does end up sacrificing all that and literally destroying himself in the end.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Watch Your Language

At times I'll come across a thought or idea that I realized was one I held and acted upon in younger years, and with me further into adulthood I'll realize too that I had a wisdom back then in that belief, and that I shouldn't have deviated from it.

In this case, in contemplating my typical conversations I realized that it's probably very impractical for me to divide up my language habits between how I talk to people in real life in contrast to the language I use in my head, on paper, or in this input box right here, which you're reading. One example in isolation, for instance, is that I swear very, very rarely in *any* sort of writing I do . . . so why should I allow it in my head, or in to-face conversations?

There's nothing inherently wrong in dividing up one's language habits mind you; rather, my angle in this case is in consideration of maximizing one's rhetoric habits, or in my case trying to be the best I can be in writing, which is a great hobby and value to me.

The division goes beyond just swears; encompassing things too like slang, general vocabulary, the care in articulation, and so on. The point is, if I want to perfect my own individual voice in writing, one I can truly be satisfied with, then isn't it to my detriment to be so slangish in person and well-spoken on paper? I speak hardly at all the ways I write here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Morning Focus

A tidbit to chew on in regards to concentration.

Before I get to that, though, I’d like to mention that I have a lot of other public writing available on my Facebook page, where I explicitly track my self-improvement goals (other stuff). Follow that if you want to see another subsection of my writing.

Anyhow, it’s already been stated before that I’m quite keen on the benefits of strong concentration. To me, the benefits are just too fundamental and multi-faceted to be neglected, so I urge myself to make a lifelong commitment towards nurturing concentration through means such as minimizing distractions and doing meditation, as it’s a skill necessary for success.

A wrinkle in my life that I’ve been working on ironing out is the nature of my morning routines, for I, admittedly, tend to lollygag and whatnot too much in the morning, making a bad habit out of “playtime” that takes up too much of the day, resulting in late starts and diluted powers. A few days ago I noticed a rather interesting effect in an undeliberate change I made.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Homelessness as a Potential Self-improvement Adventure

I find it awkward to talk about my homelessness since after mentioning it once I tend to assume it’s universal knowledge from then on, so it’s a bit weird reopening the topic to explain it to someone unknowing, but I suppose I ought to push through that awkwardness to relay this.

Although it’s not a desirable lifestyle, I do think utilizing homelessness is a valid self-improvement technique, which is essentially why I’m using it right now. I’m not forced into this position; I’m just so desirous to meet some financial goals that I’ve resorted to this to hurry up and get it done post-haste rather than solving my financial ailments at an agonizing pace.

As such, for those who may benefit, I’d like to relay to you what I’ve learned about the practical measures of this lifestyle.

First, why be homeless, and why become homeless voluntarily?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Perspective-Keeping with a Daily Tally

Steve Jobs opens the floor:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Mulling that over, I developed a perspective-keeping technique I’ve grown attached to which I call the “Daily Tally,” which I try to do every single day as my own way to look in the mirror.

One thing this quote made me realize is that oftentimes a lot of consistencies in my life will go unnoticed or unappreciated. I might be making significant progress on a goal, for instance, and not notice the individual increments of success since I don’t pay attention. Or, I might be treating people too sourly than I should allow of a personality, and I lose track since I get too focused on the trees in neglect of the forest.

To keep my eyes open, in my notebook where I track my goals I have written some questions I’m supposed to examine every day and internally and explicitly answer to keep track of what’s going on in my life. Where I’m moving forward. Where I’m moving backwards. Where I need to tweak.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

*The Addams Family*: Full of Healthy Philosophy?

One reason why I prefer being an adult over a kid is that with a stronger intellect I can deepen my appreciation and enjoyment of certain things through thinking. No such height of pleasure in kid cognition!

I recently had such an experience when I watched an analysis video by a person named Nostaglia Chick about The Addams Family. Despite the fact I grew up with, at least, the animated version, many of her insights make me look back upon it starry eyed, now.

In short, TAF may be unintentionally a work of art relaying a very healthy view of how to live your life.

Just make your own choices and indulge in the things you honestly take pleasure in, and don't fret about other people's judgments. TAF is completely eccentric in their lifestyle habits, to the point of being a unique phenomenon in their whole state (probably), but they're composed of very contented individuals that simply engage in their own interests, whether it be exploding toy trains or illuminating light bulbs orally, and it doesn't register with them emotionally to see other people's disgust or disapproval. They're not eccentric on purpose to garner such attention; they're eccentric because they don't let popular opinions determine their choices in life.

I find myself further heartened by Mortician and Gomez's marriage. In contrast to, say, The Honeymooners of the time, they're in love in incredible depth and find endless occasions to express it, and both are equal partners in raising their children.

What a good way of looking at life. The theme is stuck in my head now.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The "Tell Me Everything You Know" Technique

There is much in my mind to say about Great Men Autodidactism, but let us kick off with a strategy I've been thinking about a lot lately: The "Tell Me Everything You Know" technique.

I've learned of it from educator and education theorist Lisa VanDamme, who describes it as being utilized in her own school. Simply, it involves that, upon a given subject, you relay everything you know about it. Literally everything, regardless how annal is it.

The point is the develop memory recall and integration by combing the mind for more and more details, which would otherwise fade off in approximate form or be forgotten, not be integrated into one's knowledge, and so forth. Think of all the times we may have forgotten what we've eaten for breakfast. We've forgotten because we don't call that event to attention; it becomes an unmemorable occasion, and falls out of mind even though we may have spent a half-hour eating it.

But take a period of the day to recall such events as this, and suddenly you've mentally exercised yourself into having an infallible memory for the whole week's breakfasts, and more!

This method really excites me for both its practicality and potential time-savings. One significant factor in considering optimal autodidactism is the time dedicated to the methods: Remember, our aim is to find ways to learn best while living productive lives; not staying between shelves in libraries.

I'll have to do a ton of experimentation and thinking upon this method, however, for while it has great practical implications there's still many things to be tweaked out, such as the communication method used, the length of time allotted for it, and so forth.

For instance, one of the wrinkles to be ironed out is when to stop. If you were to, say, utilize this method in a written journal at the end of a college reading assignment, you may find that you go on and on and on and on . . . there's practically no limit to what kind of knowledge you can summon up.

And communication is important too. Internally verbalize it, or speak it out loud? Stick to writing? It's an important consideration, for I've found there can be odd glitches at time in switching between methods. For example, I've noticed sometimes that I can visualize in my head myself having great and witty conversations, but in actually utilizing my mouth in real-life I find I can't speak up to the caliber as I can in my head. There's a difference, and it may be best to find a balance between all three methods.

While i'm going to be making huge changes to this method in the coming weeks, for now, here's what I've got:

At the end of every day, I pull out a journal dedicated to this purpose and write out individual entries for to the day's worthwhile learning, memorable thoughts, worthy experiences, and so forth.

First, I comb my memory to chronologically go through the motions of the day to better enable recall, and put in squares a few words related to particular learning or thoughts. Afterward I either expand on them all or just star specific ones worth writing, letting the other ones go for time efficiency.

Then I put a hyphen to mark a new section, write out the subject (a book title, category such as "science," etc.), the time of day (for context establishing), and then write out as concisely as possible what I learned. Same for the following entries.

There are some changes I'm preparing to employ, however. For one, I may begin doing a spoken version in the morning and a written version at night to increase the degree of neurological and mental stimulation I get. Secondly, in the cover of the journal I'll jot down some words marking categories, such as math, science, the culinary arts, and so forth, that I could turn to and stare at to jog my memory, in case looking at something like the words "culinary arts" and "charcuterie" might help me remember some thinking I did about curing chorizo past noon while walking in front of a butcher counter.

Additionally, perhaps I could vary up the extent of the method. Before I set down a book for the day I could perform an exercise on the chapters read, and then review it again when it comes to performing the method on the entire day. Lots of experimentation is needed.

As of far, I need WAY more practice in this method, but the few nights I've done them have felt . . . interesting. It's a unique sensation to attempt to recall the major intellectual points of your entire day, especially when it comes to potentially important thoughts you've have and didn't document.

I think it's feasible since there is scientific proof that the mind and brain can be worked and strengthened like muscles. The more you attempt to recall and integrate memories and learning, the more the brain and mind grow and adapt to accommodate the purpose and make you better at it.

Such is one step towards better learning (and living).

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Autodidactism of Great (AND Productive) Men?

This post shall mark hopefully the first of a long ongoing process to figuring out the absolutely best way to teach yourself, to be an autodidact.

Now, autodidactism is a word I certainly use an awful lot. I'm rather infatuated with it since it denotes to me the mark of the best-minded person one could be, one who chooses to seek out and engage in learning on one's own terms, and to be dedicated to that process all of life, to contrast with the sordid popularity of going to school, getting a degree, and simply stopping any directed learning after that . . . for the rest of life. Any stupid person I met was always voluntarily like that, preferring the Ooze over the work of obtaining The State of Complete Vigor.

I like to consider myself an autodidact since my formal schooling failed me grandly. Because I have an accent caused by my hearing-impairment, the majority of my schoolteachers and classmates thought me to be mentally disabled or actually retarded, so most of my schooling was spent in special-ed classes either wiling the day away or else doing work several grade levels beneath my capacity. I dropped out of college after being horrified with the lack of an intellectual atmosphere, such as the professor who gave open-book final exams or to see my "peers" be intellectually idle. Since then, I've been trying to establish the right habits for lifelong self-initiated learning.

Yet, despite my years of bouncing the concept around, I was rather surprised to comprehend a few weeks ago that my view may be fundamentally flawed.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How to Reincarnate This Blog?

It must be disobeying a deep part of my nature to not to write, for the slightest departure from it haunts me like a bad deed, and if I be a bad blogger, I resort to being a good FB note writer, or handwritten journal introspector. Are those of us who like to write possessed by the near-painful urge to maintain the practice?

Well, I ought to write more to invest in what could be some meaningful skills in the long-term, and let us see if we can brainstorm a way to resurrect this blog. After some thinking, I think I've come up with a way to change direction only slightly and come back home here as the pad of paper to resort to.

Aside from the turbulence the originally occurred in my life, now subsided, I've lost the will to maintain this blog's original intention, which was to be a near-professional and profitable venture on focused self-improvement writing. It's my favorite writing category and easy enough to set habits around, but alas, profitable it did not become, and the turbulence that occurred really kept me from this for a long time and demolished the habits I had set around it. There's no longer any interest in me to be professional at this. Yet, there's still plenty of interest in me to relish in writing here somehow, so a reincarnation in some form might be better.

How about this: Why don't we fall back on a classic personal blog theme, meaning I talk concretely of my life's practices and general thoughts, and we fit that in with the overall self-improvement theme originally set for the blog? In other words, why don't I just spend more time talking about how I myself engage in self-improvement and my general thoughts to living a better life?

I think one of the biggest difficulties of my original conception is that I tried making most of my other articles "timeless" pieces that could be referenced for years come without showing noticeable age, such as very time-sensitive references to my life and whatnot. To be "professional," I wanted everything to abstractly laid out in principles as much as possible as scientifically as possible as if each individual article could be put verbatim in a book without awkward personal references or build-ons to older blog posts.

It makes sense, for the majority of my self-improvement techniques are continually at work in being perfected, and almost never can I write such an independent article that guarantees I won't make a significant change to the technique's methodology. Plus, it's a little strange to try and divorce the technique from concretes of my own life since I am not a scientist or guru on self-improvement, but rather a guy who practices these very techniques, spawning the thinking to begin with. It's not like I scope the literature of other people's practices and commentate on them; it's nearly all first-hand experience.

To become personalized and dispose of any thought towards profit making and "book-ready" article ought to ease up the restrictions enough to allow ease of consistent attention towards this outlet, rather than as a project upon which I must set up formal assignments and advertising procedures.

Though, I want to prevent breaking your heart in advance by promising no timelines or consistent posting. Perhaps ten times a week at all shades of daylight one week, a two-week break, and three posts at noon on the spot the following week. I may enjoy writing and wish to dedicate myself more to it, but there's still a real-life to tend to, as well as a career and hopefully entrepreneurial ventures. This shall be more a mode for me to sharpen my skills and brainstorm aloud with an audience.

I shall try in that vein, and let us see if we can fill the imaginary stadium seats for an audience again, and either come alive in your RSS feeds again or else return as subscriptions.

Let us try again!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What to Do Now But Change a Tide?

I announced receiving a new laptop a few weeks ago and despite the greater access to internet, this blog has not totally risen from its coma, so what am I doing? Well, my main routines right now are worthy fodder for a self-improvement article anyhow: I'm addressing my "Tide".

Tide is the term I used to describe the general theme of one's emotions in regards to activities, or, in other words, the general leaning of one's emotions as to what one wants to do the most. Now that I'm thinking more deeply on the term, it may be one of the most important things for a person to control in his life, a determinant of success, mediocrity, or failure.

To elaborate, the kind of Tide you have will determine what you're emotionally inclined to do day-in and day-out, and the desire of the kind of routine you want to maintain for the long-term. In short, how do you want to spend most of you days on a consistent basis? Do you have the eternal urging to be productive towards your goals all the time, to be idle, or something else?

Tide is the force behind that kind of person who actually wants to work all the time. For the non-workaholics amongst us, it can be emotionally difficult to project the emotions of those who can pull 12 to 14 hour workdays (or greater!) and maintain this day after day, week after week, year after year. What's different about them?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Part Five: A Finale and Restart

Let us mark this as the practical end of the blog coma! I've got a laptop at long last -- luckily, for free too -- and have got it running mostly smoothly with an alternative operating system called Puppy Linux Precise. There's no more excuse of putting off blogging since I'm free of library computers and their restrictions, now.

Though, there's no plans for full writing commitment yet. These months of absence have made me lose my way, and the lack of contact with the purpose of this blog has made me lost interest in its maintenance and attempt at profitability. Plus, while the laptop may bring about better writing habits, I'm still enduring the trials of a homeless lifestyle, and will, at this pacing, likely be enduring it until let year. Let's wax upon that, for in upcoming posts we'll have to meander to find our way back.

I have to say that becoming voluntarily homeless has been the most interesting and turbulent psychological experience of my life. Lots of ups and downs, and all so many insights into my personal psyches, my needs and stresses, and what makes me fall versus what makes me rise.

I've already mentioned being surprised at how tolerable it is, in all. It's silly to think I used to get so worked up over it when I still had my apartment, fretting terribly about this alternative and then walking straight into it as a hopeful solution for my financial problems. (No rent or utility means most of money can go straight to debts.)

At the same time there's a need to take better care of myself, for my psychology has definitely been evolving over time. At the start of this lifestyle I used to be extremely panicky about what kinds of routines I'd have to set in order to make things work and not be confronted by the police, such as waking up with extreme frequency during the night to scan the surroundings around my car. Then entered a more peaceful mode, where my routines morphed into habits and allowed me to nonchalantly sleep out in the open under the traveling security of some places, sleeping in audaciously while blending it.

Day times, of course, are seamless due to all the air conditioned places I can stay in all day, like the library. Night times are only a minor nuisance considering that I have to rotate my parking so few people notice any patterns, and the annoyance is that some spots I have to wake up super early to escape before people wander around and others I can safely sleep without alarms.

As of late, however, the stress sneaks in. It's been hard being a bright, witty, and helpful person amongst my friends at work as I once was, for the recent grind has made me feel dull and indifferent. The cause of my emotional deflation is to have been surprisingly abandoned by so many friends at random intervals and without reasonable explanation -- or even with any offensive interactions occurring at all. Additionally, my career is a downer since I've been persisting as a dishwasher for so many years without making any headway, and it hits me particularly hard since I take the object of my career very serious as my means to happiness, and I feel betrayed by the industry to have dealt with this much hardship and injustice. Lastly, it's shocking to me that even with the total elimination of rental and utility bills I'll still have to homeless for nearly a year to pay off my debts a satisfying amount, lest I get two jobs or else try my hand at some entrepreneurial venture (and most likely the latter, for two dish washing positions would drive me daffy).

Still, recently on Facebook I have acknowledged, regardless, that my own caving into stress is what brought about my condition by and large, and have dedicated myself to setting public goals and tracking them to get my act together. There may have been plenty of injustices unfair for me to deal with, such as an insecure, drug-abusing boss passively aggressively firing me or bearing my umpteenth demotion, but my own part in my downfall is caving into the stresses they've caused. I've allowed my motivation to drop and not vigorously look for better jobs, to cave into anxiety and spend on chocolate to "medicate" it, and to wander on long walks doing detached contemplation instead of combining thought and action.

Thus, truly, my problems are one part external injustice, and yet mostly a greater part my own reaction and caving in to the frustration of it. Bad bosses, envious coworkers, and so forth have only won insofar that they've scratch the nerve and got me to jolt from it.

If I truly want to resolve this cruddy situation -- to not only pay off my debts, but also be homeless for a far lesser time, advance in my career, and actually enjoy my life -- I've got to focus on restoring the personality characteristics that made me individually successful and strong in the first place, which is what I've allowed to erode all these years.

For a long time now I've reminiscences upon my first year or two right after I dropped out of college, for I had some significant habits and routines which resulted in my most intense, concentrated, and successful time of self-progression. In short order I really pulled myself together from the emotional problems I suffered, became a dedicated and virtuously severe autodidact, built up the willpower to do intense self-improvement, and made near-crystal clear my long-term career goals. I may have not been materialistically successful, but I'd give myself an A- for the psychological and intellectual changes I made to myself. If I restore those routines and habits, I'll restore their infinitely valuable effects, including a craving and increased speed for learn and super likable personality.

I only dropped from that pedestal since I didn't understand the stresses of some external situations I had to deal with at the time, and once I grasped how interfering they were I became focalized on it and began my round of "problem phases," where instead of improving and living myself I'm centering my thoughts and actions on how to solve a particular problem, which really just led to more problems.

For instance, I originally gave up my autodidactism and self-improvement so that I could escape my living situation in Michigan, which resulted in me coming to Texas. Then I focalized on getting out of the dish pit, for I got involved with chefs who flaked out on me after promising help in a job hunt, lied to me about jobs they never intended to give, and so forth. Fast forward, and now I'm in the problem phase of simply remedying financial debts and homelessness.

I've started this new practice called the "Daily Tally" where I vocalize in my head, in response to written questions, how I did in certain aspects of my day. Did I get a wise start. Did I eat well for my mind and budget. Did I socialize and treat others justly. At the end, the purpose is to sum all these together, recollect how I've been doing lately, and project how all of these behaviors will result in the long-run. Will it bring me to success or ruin?

Doing it, I realized I'm simply putting myself on a rollercoasting that gives me temporary success taken away by temporary lapses, resulting in an up-and-down which will simply persist unless I dedicate to consistent remedy. In the long-run, I'll have unstable routines and simply end up like those people I've desperately promised not to become, those who go an entire lifetime hoping for their problems to solve themselves or else for their emotions to get out of their way on their own, and wile away the whole lifespan being unhappy. I don't want to be like that. I proved to myself that I can be ultra-ambitious and so dead-set on self-improvement that I'll work until I get exhausted, headaches, or blurry vision.

If I dig my nails into those behaviors and never let go there's no way I wouldn't be able to obtain personal greatness, to be a giant after doing what a giant does. But I let stress won . . . for now.

Thus, my main focus at the immediate moment is restoring a high-exertion lifestyle. Since my career is going to be intellectual in some form, that means resuming a lot of cognitive routines, from the run-of-the-mill autodidact studying (math, grammar, culinary texts) to cognitive workouts (making myself forgo a calculator, speaking exercises).

Based on my prior experiences, this is the solution to not only healing my emotional problems and bad behaviors resulting, but also to clarify my long-term desires and needs. Being out of touch with the culinary arts by being a dishwasher, getting embroiled in conflicts, and combating stress, I haven't touched my passion enough to maintain it, so my original long-term plans are uninteresting and need to be reformulated. I still feel the spark of love for food, which is why I'm still in the restaurant industry, so I'm simply dropping the idea of becoming a chef-owner of a restaurant for something else. (Food writing? Selling charcuterie and pemmican online?)

High-exertion routines are the way to go. What happened last time is that continuously fighting against my desires, as to not study, made me successfully change the leanings of my desires, so that I preferred studying over taking a daydreamy walk as I once used to.

As an additional effect, I found that all this mental exertion made my emotions way more positive, deeper, richer, and profound. My enjoyment of life reached new heights, and in moving from venture to venture I eventually found one my mind stayed stuck on -- cooking -- and a little while later discovered becoming a chef was ideal for it, and so went that route.

I'm certain enough in the causation to trust the process will lead me  back. I won't worry about clearly defining my long-term goals right now as I view the important thing is to correct my emotions by committing to a high-exertion lifestyle, which will improve my abilities and not only make me feel good about life, but also in a magnificently deep and important way. Beyond that, it's all a matter of trying out ventures until I find the one my mind stays stuck on, and to be consistent so that I keep getting the benefits of such a lifestyle.

For now, I'm uncertain as to what to do with this blog. I'll be back . . . but the post will be slightly wandering and inconsistent until I find my way back.

But I'm back. I intend to bring my past, superior self back to. And to surpass him with a newer, greater self as well.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Part Four of the Bohemian (and Charlie Brown) Homeless Life

Whew, it's been about a full two months of homelessness now! It's really integrated itself into my habits now so as to not be an iota weird or offputting in any form. I'm totally comfortable slipping in parking lots under the nose of security guards and their orange flashing lights, and it's not a nuisance to be using public restrooms all the time. Geez, at this rate I'm almost thinking I might as well push through the winter even if I can pay off my bills and afford an apartment, for if I'm tolerating stuffy nights in a hot car during this intense summer I might as well reward myself with the mild Texas winter.

Yes, great apologies for the still comatose blog and my peek-a-boo entries, but these things go on. My lifestyle habits have changed significantly, and the lack of ready time and access for blogging means blog articles ideas aren't popping into my head anymore.

Unfortunately, unless I get another good job I'm likely to be homeless for quite a while longer. (Don't forget this is voluntary, to efficiently pay of debt.) These past few days have REALLY been Charlie Brown-like. I was actually a paycheck or two away from becoming current with my bills, when yet more car disasters unfolded, again making me miss payments and to expand the promissory note still standing at my automechanic. It was a real gut-punch to the spirit, enough so to make me depressed for a day or two and to suppress my immune system, making me catch a cold and miss out on the well-paying plasma donations for a bit, which is significant income.

While still possible, my original intention was to pay off my debts in November or December -- thus keeping up with the new year's resolution -- and to be done with homeless stuff. (Eating in the car is the most annoying element, especially with dark chocolate.) At this rate, unless I get a good second job, I'll probably have to continue living like this for a couple months or so at the start of 2014. It'll be yet some more paydays until I get current with my debts, and then months after that to actually pay them down. I'm so used to and tolerant of the aspects and trials of this lifestyle that I'm willing to endure it until then.

While mixed, I've made lots of personal progress. I won't evade the fact that I am primarily responsible for my financial problems, for I've had a hard time controlling my emotions in stress these past years (such as my frustration being stuck a dishwasher all these years, which pushed me to walk-out of my good hotel job where, in fact, I was nearly going to advance), so I've spent a lot of time thinking on my sins and trying to fathom how to *hold* onto whatever progress I make.

So far my sense of life has drastically improved. I am far more content and less bothered by my lifestyle, and have been bonding well with coworkers and bosses instead of being the bitter recluse I usually was. It's getting easier to stick to important self-improvement resolutions, and resistance is falling away from doing important things such as studious reading, especially since technological distractions are at a minimum.

Good luck will grant me a free laptop from an acquaintance within a few weeks, so I'm actually quite near to being able to reoccupy my old online social haunts again, and perhaps start a blogging schedule even. However, I've got a lot of rethinking to do on my habits, as being made to focus on books and regularly be deprived of Facebook has definitely bettered my life and mind, so I've got to restructure my habits to protect the "homeless benefits" to maintain my healthier habits. In a sense, I don't want to reintegrate into the social scene as I once did.

The persisting element, however, is haunting memories and bitterness about friendship disappointments. I'm totally fine with little to no monetary help and whatnot, as I became homeless to purposely get myself off charity, but at times I seethe about the lack of attention and moral support from individuals I was really attached to. Becoming homeless and drying up my activity on certain social networks, I feel forgotten about and uncared for. Memories of my old hotel job still burn, for instance, for too many relationships there terminated too fast for it to be justifiable, and I still have a lingering sense of betrayal and abandonment to be cut off from so many people so rapidly. It stirs of feelings of anger and wrath.

Yet, I am learning it's best to keep myself engaged enough so as to not have idle time to not think about it. I've got to master my emotions, after all, to master my problems, for absent that mastery is what caused the bulk of my difficulties. If those people shall choose to depart my life so readily then I ought to oblige in assisting their mental counterparts depart my consciousness, too.

Perhaps my next peek-a-boo entry shall be from a laptop marking my actual return to visibility and blogging, but the end of this sentence, for a small bit, brings about the coma again.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Part 3 Update on the Homeless Bohemian Lifestyle

Whelp, I've actually made it past one month of being voluntarily homeless, and it's been pretty easy with minimal hardship. I've only come into two awkward police confrontations with no consequence, and seldom any attention from other people. Though, about a week ago I did have a guy oddly ask me if I was alright and whether I had been shot by a gun . . . which made no sense why he asked that. (I think he was sneaking that in the conversation to intimidate me out of irrational suspicion.)

Now this lifestyle has become a full blown set of habits, and it no longer feels awkward brushing my teeth at the bookstore, eating a large sausage link in the car, or sleeping in the back seat at night. Quite a significant contrast to my first few nights, in which my anxiety was so high I jolted awake in the night several times in fear of onlookers, only to never have my fears confirmed.

Mentally I've grown, big time. The lack of omnipresent internet has changed my habits significantly, and without it constantly available to distract me, whether in seeking attention on Facebook or distracting myself with bird videos, I am much more focus and still, and feel a lot more intelligent and competent. My emotions are stable and calmer, and much more of my daily attention is focus on that which will authentically add something to my life, rather than tending to my anxieties or distractions. My mind is shifting more and more on autodidactism, wise money-management, habit development, and career progress.

I feel strangely more physically healthy too. I always wake up at 6 or 7 AM whether that amounts to a full night's sleep or merely 3 hours, and I absurdly never feel sleep deprived. All the time spent in the gym in cleaning up and cultivating my heat tolerance in the sauna has logically encouraged me back into working out, and I've restarted my Body by Science routines and feel all the better for it.

My estimate of this going on for 4-5 months longer remains about the same. I'm very unsure whether I want to stop when I catch up on my bills, pay most of my debt off, or what, but I do know that I can tolerate this lifestyle for a much longer time than I originally anticipated. In the daytime it's utter easy to stay within air-conditioned buildings such a the library or bookstore, and all my sauna training has enabled me to sleep comfortably without sweating. So far I've gotten by with some really convenient secret parking spots, uncaught as of yet.

Though, of course, it still isn't without its nuisances. There's always that one spot of worry whether anyone will catch me at my spot, or if I'll be seen and chastised on the spot, at night. While my body can tolerate the heat without sweating, it's still not the best of all sleeping circumstances, and my car smells like pork rinds consequently. My nourishment and hydration is easy, but the monotonous diet and inability to cook: Hmph. Oh so on, but all in all petty nuisances that amount to only mild annoyance and worry. Regardless, an apartment will be nice in the day that it comes.

I confess, however, that my greatest pain is not being able to maintain social contact with faraway friends as I otherwise could have with the internet. It gives me this painful feeling that the decline in activity is making me more invisible, and that friendships could be fading away by the day, in memory and affection. It's uncomfortable to think that I'll have to wiggle back into social networks of once close friends. I enjoy my alone time, but this solitude feels different. One feels connected to people when things such as phones and whatnot are available, but absent the means it feels different.

And yes, of course, there is still the slight shame that this blog still remains comatose. There's just hardly the means for it right now, with limited library access. My writing and my audience hasn't escaped my mind, however, and certain writing projects still continue to simmer within me.

For the months to come: More of the same. Clean-ups and working towards physical perfection at the gym, becoming a more robust worker at my job, saving and spending wisely -- especially with those overdue creditors, who seem nicer now that they know what I'm doing for them; and, most of all, correcting my flaws and setting up habits for greatness.

It is frequently on my mind how I am the author of my own problems, and the added solitude has emphasized my attention on the direly needed antidotes, and the things to be on guard against once I do get into an apartment with overly-ready internet access. This is now the time to become a better man, stay that way, and move towards self-mastery and becoming a prime-mover.

Perhaps at the end of it all I'll detail my experiences and practices . . . but for now, toodle loo. It is soon time to retreat to the library basement for more intellectual expansion. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Homeless Update 2: Still Going, Progressing, and Enduring

Woo wee, it's hard to believe, but I've been homeless for nearly a month now. It's astonishingly bearable, and it's worst discomforts are annoying at max. I feel preposterous now for fretting so heavily over this possibility all those months before when it's a smoother process than I ever imagined. Really, I wished I had done this much sooner, as perhaps by this time frame I could have healed lesser financial problems and be back in an apartment by now, and in addition take advantage of sleeping in comfortable Texan winter.

At my present financial progress I estimate I'll continue this lifestyle for about 3-5 more months. I could very well afford an apartment by my next payday, but again I'm doing this to pay off my flaming debts that have run amuck this year, my most difficult financial year ever, so how long this continues is just a matter of where I'd like to stop. Short of my student loans, or with debt totally paid off?

The blogging break shall continue for some weeks more, at least. My interest hasn't waned in this site at all; it's just that I have much more restricted internet access, and without the library I'm left with my Kindle Fire, which I'm certainly not going to agonize in creating a blog post on. Perhaps in my payday after next I'll get a laptop. Until then blogging isn't my greatest of concerns, and it's not the best place to type with all these prying eyes and a computer timer to urge you to race to the finish.

My psychology changes in adopting this lifestyle is something I'll have to chew heavily, as I ought to change my habits more drastically upon getting back into an apartment. I thought losing so much access to the internet would be more painful, and yet my life hardly feels amiss. I feel fine not staying so on top of minutiae news, or having Facebook to entrap my attention. In fact, my intellectual capacities feel enhanced, for outside of work all there's left to do is write, read, work out, and eat. I feel more dedicated to perfecting my body and intelligence, and both seem to be making better progress consequently.

This reminds me that the things we spend most of our daily lives are what we get good at and incline our desires towards. In being depressed in my apartment over my finances and wiling away the hours on Facebook, I became "good" at social networking, and as a result I was regularly thinking in that realm, of gather content and posting it, and was frequently tempted to spend hours on it. Subtract the possibility of the that temptation and now I get my mind so much more into books, what good writing I can create, and how to elevate my life. My daily habits will need a strict overhaul with hefty discipline inserted to maintain these unintended homeless benefits, for I want to get good at strength-training, thinking, reading, learning . . . not social networking.

The biggest nuisance so far in this lifestyle is parking at night. It's silly that it's almost literally illegal for me to park anywhere at night short of a consenting homeowner's driveway or curb, so minus that possibility for me I'm pretty much forced to sneak and hide. Sure, there's places like Wal-marts that allow for some overnight parking for things like RVs, but nothing indefinite. Concealed areas are a beaut, for in those I can hang my flashlight from the ceiling and read for some hours before bed. Parking lots are a nuisance, for I have to stay down and hide, which means I'm essentially forced to go to bed after businesses like bookstores close, unless I choose to ponder while looking up at the partial sky through the window.

This homeless period, I keep telling myself, is a period I need to take very seriously for changing myself. Bad luck involvement aside (such as car troubles), I've still caused the majority of my current difficulty through actions such as what caused me to lose my hotel job last year, which signaled and kindled all this troubles to begin with. Upon getting a new apartment I ought to be a new man to enter it, one stripped of bad habits, a sense of emotional mastery, a focus on his cognition and productivity, and distractions such as Facebook glared at as if there were candles capable of burning the whole house down. Life can be grand as I can envision in, but only if I'm willing to fully dedicate myself on acting upon my knowledge, as I know my mistakes comprehensively; all that's last is to practice the remedy.

I'd like to abstain from stating any of my further goals, as I'm not fully committed to them yet, and feel slightly embarrassed to admit my interest where passion does not yet exist, but I've got my ideas. It still revolves around self-employment to a great extent, for no matter how much I value my workplaces and coworkers, I still feel that I can't unleash my full value unless I work directly with the consumer, unimpeded by as few middlemen as possible, especially higher-ups to report to. 

Until then, I'll keep popping in and out some random weeks to give you an update, until I get a laptop and can consider committing seriously again. Keep on being your best.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Current Thoughts on My Homeless Bohemnian Lifestyle

Indeed as I report to you I am homeless. Before you panic (in case you’ve forgotten), I remind you I am not forced into this position. I’m doing it voluntarily because I think it may be the most practical way for me to go into hardcore debt-payment mode, which is what I want to do since I’ve been falling behind financially all year.

As of far, I’m utterly surprised at my response to it. I’m perfectly okay with it. I’m perfectly okay with sleeping in my car at night and spending my days camping inside the library and bookstore. It goes to show you that external circumstances truly hold lesser power than how you respond internally.

To think, I’ve spent months in my apartment complex panicking about the prospect of potentially getting evicted and becoming homeless, only to, upon my move out date, choose it calmly and willfully. I even tossed away some major things like my food processor, cutting board, plate ware, and so on to ensure minimal overflow of property to the backseat (to give peeping Toms less to see and decrease chance of theft, and to have a place to sleep as well), yet even with that I’m okay. After paying my debts I should be decently moneyed and buy it all back, especially my precious books.

I’ve renewed my gym membership to give myself a place to shave and shower, along with other perks cheaper than pay-per-trip truck stops, and eat decently. Nighttime actually gets quite exciting since I have to technically hide out. The alternating environment gives me something to contemplate the moments before going under in the back seat, and there’s a certain challenging element in sleeping in spasms, for once in sleep I regularly panic myself awake to survey the surroundings, only to go peaceably back under in moments. It’s becoming a peaceful habit to wake up at dawn – to slip out unseen – which makes my life feel extended in a way, with time less spent sleeping with the added enjoyment of seeing the sunrise.

Though, don’t think I’m romanticizing it. In all, it’s simply easier than I’d thought it would be, though, of course, trials are yet to come, such as the occasion I do get caught out or have to deal with night’s upcoming summer’s heat. In all, it’s a fresh experience which has allowed me to observe life and my habits from a different angle, but I still dislike since I don’t have a nice hard floor to sprawl out on, no access to cooking equipment for the discounted beef roast from Sprouts, and find it harshly lonely not to have my usual internet access. Without a laptop at present, it feels uniquely isolating not to check up with my friends in various states, especially since I haven’t met many people yet in Texas with my deep interests, sort of rendering me a temporary hermit in my real-life social network. However much I can bare it now, I still wish to end this lifestyle as promptly as I can, but not until I’ve paid off a significant portion of my debt.

Probably the biggest screwing up factor is the last of a full computer, which does mess up some rather significant plans I had for entrepreneurialship online. Plus, this blog is practically on hold. I’m at the library, but I don’t like that sensation of people looking at me. It’s not the same.

But let’s see how quickly I restore my credit and clear my debts without having rent, utility, or internet bills to pay, eh? Even if it’s a pain to be so deprived of the regular contact of my friends the subtraction of internet access does eliminate that distracting element, so while I’m incapable of engaging my entrepreneurial ideas at present my biggest goal these next few months (yes, months) is to work on building up as robust a mind as possible, one that is meticulously studious, vigorously creative, and overall enthusiastically active, both able to tolerate the mundane labor of my income-earning jobs while still exerting at at-home (er, in-car) improvement. Minus the omnipresent internet, there is far lesser excuse for me to not read or up my game at writing in a journal. (Though, darn it, I need to get myself a head lamp, for I feel forced into my bedtime with closing businesses and the sometimes dark parking places.)

My advice to you is to reevaluate your monsters in mind to see whether they’re truly as scary as they’ve been made out to be, or if it’s purely a matter of internal evaluation. Homelessness – the thing I’ve been so scared of all these past months – turned out not to be so painful after all.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Coming Climax, and Temporary Blogging Leave

Another boring update about the author.

I thought to notify you that this blog may go into remission for a bit, as -- now don't fret; I'm doing this on purpose -- I'll be living in my car for a bit in order to gather capital and get myself back into the black ink zone again. Overall, the reason why this blog has been so spotty is because of my turbulent finances, and this ought to be the last hurdle before I can really dedicate myself once again to my goals without excess outside concern.

I could probably afford an apartment, but I'm choosing the ultra-frugal car living because it distresses me that it was LAST year that I resolved to eliminate all my debt, and not only increased it but also, halfway through this next year, am still increasing it. The red ink accumulates.

Plus, it's been one hurdle after another, like having the reverse luck of Gladstone Gander. It isn't getting me spiritually down, but I have to remark at the silliness at how one event after another has been coming at me. The sun about rises over the horizon, and then oddly the horizon gets taller, bringing it back to pre-dawn.

For instance, I had to suffer the embarrassment of "lying" to my landlord because one of my bosses explicitly promised to increase my hours, which I passed onto my landlord as ensuring that I'd be paying my dues, and then the next week the hours would be arbitrarily hacked in divorce of working performance. Or I'll hit a sweet spot of having three incomes and so nearly having financial stability in my grasp, only to have something catastrophic happen to my car and whittle me down to one income plus walking to grocery stores.

Though, again I'm not complaining. It's just odd to me that this year of all years these events are occurring in a line like this. As such, reflecting upon this history and in being hit with the tremendous cost of car repair, I've decided to embrace voluntary, temporary homelessness as a way of finally getting the teeth out of my debt. It's a small one-person debt that can be paid off in a scant 3-4 months, but still irritating on the whole to have resolved for so long to get rid of it and see it laughing in the middle of the room, even bigger. Being Spartan for a bit ought to be the needed battle axe to cut it down to size and finally get it out of my face.

The majority of the considerations are solved. I'm at peace at having to whittle down my property a slight bit more to lighten the load, and my Paleo diet is still workable despite not having a dining area. I'll take advantage of an incentive to renew my gym membership to have a showering and shaving area, plus some dandy things like a place to do Body by Science workouts and utilize a sauna. (The sauna, in addition, ought to help acclimate me to approaching summer heat.) All that's left to work out is practical parking.
This means I'll have to take a temporary leave of absence from blogging, as I won't have access to my PC. With the money savings I'll try to get myself an affordable laptop -- like I've been blabbing about -- to bring myself back and to no longer have excuses for spotty blogging, and I should be able to afford it rather rapidly, under these circumstances.

It's odd to think I'm so at peace with this decision. I've spent all of these months, most of this year, getting stressed out and my heart rate up over eviction and homelessness, only to approach my move-out date and willingly choose it. It goes to show, again, that external situations do not have much power except how we react to them internally. The vast majority of our obstacles are on the inside . . . sometimes the entirety of our problems.

And! For those of you who may be scoffing at my claim to blog about self-optimization, in accepting homelessness in order to gain financial stability, I remind you that measuring how far you come towards your ideal goes by many standards. I primarily want to deal with here measures of psychological and character improvements, which may or may not lead to monetary wealth, so riches in themselves are the only measure of how successful a person's ambitious goals are. They can be, but we're more worried about the progress our mind and relationships make. We hope to be rich, but that isn't the primary concern.

The next time I broadcast to you, hopefully, is through a laptop at a Barnes & Noble, now stripped of any complaint of environmental distractions or being too busy with work to actually be a responsible author. I still have a lot of technology, computer, and internet related goals and projects to consider, like learning photoshop for an especial purpose or further mastering writing, which will bring me back to you in short-order.

Until then, my internet goes out Friday morning, and I shall largely be non-responsive for some weeks, I don't know how long. Any activity you see on my Twitter or Facebook profile is going to be automated posting.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Getting the Punch of Aromatherapy Cheaply

Now for a deviation into an isolated mental health technique, and good way to save money at it.

I think it's vastly understated how extremely effective it can be to use aromatherapy to nurture mental health. Applied only mildly, sure, it has some relaxing effects, but a few simple tweaks can have a dramatic impact, which is an immense boost to helping you not only keep stress under control, but also keep your cognition together, say in the case that an intense emotion might urge you to nail a bad thinking pattern down.

For me, I have to say that aromatherapy may have outright cured my rage problems. A good while ago -- though not anymore, thankfully -- I used to work at a restaurant that had a particularly abusive staff, and it resulted in some tremendous anger problems in me. I used to get myself really worked up even in the privacy of my own home, and be stuck in my fumes for hours. Upon a random discovery, I found that applying aromatherapy at those pivotal moments made me feel like my brain was being "punched" with relaxation: I'd inhale the scent, my brain stem would throb with comfort, and the anger would instantly vanish, to be replaced with inner peace.

However, aromatherapy as recommended tends to be far more expensive than it needs to be, and the particular methodology popularly suggested is quite flawed, making it even more pricey.

For instance, I think it's wasteful to go for things such as scented candles, for unless you're trying to impress a house guest those aroma molecules are going to fill up the receptors in your nose rather quickly, and once they're filled the scent not going to have that impact on your mental health anymore -- you won't even be able to detect it -- so you'll fill the air up with aroma that will cease to be noticed after ten or fifteen minutes. If you have hours to burn yet out of that candle, that's money down the drain for aromatherapy that won't work after your receptors are filled.

The essential thing I've found to making it cheap is grasping that aromatherapy is its most potent when you're experiencing an intense emotion or longing (such as comfort from depression), so you only need to apply it during those emotional experiences, rather than having it fill up your home all the time. Additionally, you need a great variety of scents, for that receptor-thing can render you numb to a particular scent relatively quickly, or at least vastly weaken it over time, so it's a must to have alternatives on hand.

Here's what you do: Buy some cheap vials of essential oils, and simply open and sniff them when you want to calm down, relax, or whatever. Don't apply them to your skin or evaporate them on a hot plate; kept in their vials, they should remain potent for years, which means you could buy an aromatherapy kit that's not only super-cheap, but also lasts virtually forever. With the money saved you could keep adding to the variety.

I say this because in curing my rage problems I found that a few simple inhalations were all I needed for the anger to dissipate. I'd run to the bathroom in a panic of my growing seethe, start smelling a desired vial, and it was so deeply relaxing that I'd be alright for hours, or the rest of the day even. Just a minute or less of smelling was needed; not hours of burning a candle.

Though! Remember to use aromatherapy only as a supplement. It's a vast physiological help, but will only go so far in treating physical symptoms, whereas you'll have to take an additional effort to identify and understand your emotions, and change your thinking patterns. For me, I would resort to such things as journal writing afterward, before which I used aromatherapy to clear my head, otherwise my explosive mood would prevent me from thinking and writing clearly, and I wouldn't be able to calm down by that method, perhaps. However dramatically effective, it's only a boost, an aid to other methods needed for long-term thinking habit change.

Now, as for an actual source, I'll go ahead and suggest my own favorite perfumery, Deb's Oils. The smallest vials -- which are all you need -- run about $3 a pop, so you could get an already effective collection just by buying three vials for $9, which was about all I had in curing my own anger, or spend more or else using future money savings to expand the collection to keep various scents potent.

If you treat them right, all these vials could last you forever, so you'll always have this emotional helper at hand, and won't have to waste money on hours-burning candles, those bath salts,  or fancy potpourri to tuck in your pillow at night.