A Real Wolf

“Never intentionally take a day off. Life will give you rest days.” – Jocko Willink

We’re heading to the hotel this evening. Yesterday was a final day of moving the big stuff off the first floor of the house. We’re at a bare minimum right now. Our whole family won the allergy lottery and even though we clean on a regular basis, there is so much dust being kicked up, we’re all sneezing and getting sore throats.

Oh, and the passenger-side window regulator crapped out in my wife’s car yesterday afternoon. We didn’t feel comfortable having an open window in the hotel parking lot, so we had to get an emergency repair from our awesome mechanic. He knocked it out this morning, so when we paid the bill, we also thanked him with a big box of donuts and some produce from our garden to balance things out.

All of the above has led to my body and mind to come together and stage an intervention.

“Phillip, we love you. We know you’ve been trying your best. But, right now, we’re concerned for you. Tomorrow, we just ask that you not wake up at 4:30 AM. We ask that you not go to the gym. And please, don’t worry about your current work-in-progress. Just take a couple of anti-histamines and go to sleep. Get some needed rest. Take care of your family. Take care of the immediate needs.”

It’s good to listen to these two every once in awhile. Even though they may be a collective boy crying wolf, sometimes they see a real wolf.

It’s times like these that I have to rely on the habits I’ve built. Keep the faith. Faith in the fact that I can get back to normal once the rest of the world around me has gotten back to normal.

-Phillip

* Wolf image courtesy of pexels.com

The Sultan of Skateistan 

The two women looked at each other, and to Helai’s keen eye, they appeared to nod simultaneously. She felt they were magnificent to look at, both cloaked in black headscarves weaved with intricate white lines depicting various skateboards and half-pipes. Dark skirts flowed outward from their waists, down to the edges of their charcoal-gray Vans shoes.

Each woman inserted a key, one high into the left door, the other low into the right. Excitement bubbled up against the back of Helai’s skull like boiling water. The pressure was released as the doors swung open and the gleam of the thing inside twinkled in her eyes.

“What is it called?” she asked the short man standing beside her.

“The envoy who brought it to me says it is called a Bi Cycle,” the Sultan said.

She stared at it for a moment, and then looked back at him. He nodded his assent. Helai approached the Bi Cycle, slowly, her hands held in front of her as if it would jump out and strike her. It was propped up in the middle of the Sultan’s room of private collections, beneath the sun’s rays from the skylight above.

There were only two wheels, each different sizes. The frame was composed of some sort of polished metal. It twisted and curved like a pair of amorous snakes. A chain connected a pair of pedals to the rear wheel and a soft, horn-shaped seat was perched behind what appeared to be handles.

“This will change everything,” she said.

“It will change nothing,” the Sultan snapped. His face was tense. “This is the only known version of such a thing throughout our lands.” His voice then took on a stronger tone. “Beside you, me, and my courtiers, no one must ever know of this.”

An ounce of fear settled in her stomach, quickly disarmed by the Sultan’s sudden smile.

“Come! Let me show you how to ride it!”

* Flash fiction inspired by article from Atlas Obscura – Skateistan, pg. 126 – website version of article

Keep Your Commitments

A long day of packing and moving furniture. It’s hard to keep the eyes open and my chin off my chest. But here I am. At least a few words. Sorry, nothing earth-shattering to proclaim or well-meaning advice to give.

Nothing other than to say, “Keep your commitments.” So far, 35 for 35 on daily blog posts. 55 more to go!

I hope to have a little flash fiction out tomorrow.

-Phillip

I Don’t Feel Like It

“The biggest fallacy there is about making good use of one’s time is that you have to feel like doing something before you can do it. That you have to know how to motivate yourself prior to your action. Try this: Have the action happen first. You can work up a sweat with wild action just by doing it. Then a funny thing happens. The motivation shows up. It was there all along.”

 

– Steve Chandler, Time Warrior

I knew the day would come.

And I’m sure it’s only the first of several on this daily blogging experiment of mine.

But if I can’t keep a simple commitment to type a few words each day, what does that say about me?

What if I didn’t brush my teeth whenever I felt too tired or more interested in other things? That wouldn’t be a pretty outcome for anyone.

During times like these, I find it useful to take a moment and analyze why I’m lacking in motivation. It usually has to do with the big three:

  • Physical or Mental Stress
    • Check and check. Painful strain on my left quadriceps after this morning’s sprints. Chalk that up to not taking the proper time to warm up. Also, the day job has been unusually busy. And I need to help pack up our entire first floor and move into a hotel next week due to construction.
  • Fear
    • What if I write something stupid? What if no one reads this? Again, I need to remind myself that I’m doing this for me. It’s not about readers. It’s not about writing something witty or thought-provoking. Those are all nice-to-haves. The goal of this exercise, though, is to publish a blog post every single day. Looks like I’m doing that, so hey, I don’t feel at all bad about putting another ‘X’ in the WIN column.
  • No topic
    • Had no clue what I was going to write about today. The mind was just plain dark. Like all the power went out. So I pulled out a brainstorming tool I’ve been trying to use more lately — the mind map — and just let myself go off on the topic of motivation. And, voila, here we are!

There’s nothing wrong with a little self-assessment. There are ways to address all of these things nagging me. Ways that have worked in the past and for which I have little reason to believe won’t work again.

If you “don’t feel like it,” take a moment to ask and answer why.

Change something up.

Then do it anyway.

-Phillip

Let’s Confer

In between putting out work fires, I’ve been attending a conference all day. They’re a good opportunity to catch up on the latest technologies, network with other professionals, and most importantly, pick up all that vendor swag (all right! another novelty USB flash drive!)

An event like this also reminds me to throw off the chains of the tyrannical computer screen and participate. Observe everything around me. After all, being a writer isn’t just about pressing keys or scribbling symbols.

-Phillip

* Image courtesy of freegreatpicture.com

Are You a Unicorn?

I’m a unicorn. I say this to people all the time. I am a total unicorn—you wouldn’t know I existed unless you saw me, that’s really the deal.

 

Crews, Terry. “Terry Crews on Doomfist, Battlefield 1 with Snoop Dogg, and building high-end PCs” Interview by Joe Donnelly. PC Gamer

Between acting professionally and running a fashion and furniture design company, staying in shape and bonding with his son over computer games, you can’t say Terry Crews isn’t ambitious.

I don’t know where he finds these hidden slivers of time in the day. Actually, I do know where he finds the time. He decides what’s important and makes the time. But that’s a bit of a side-trip from my main point here.

When Terry talks about being a unicorn, he’s acknowledging his diverse hobbies and influences. I can only imagine how much this gumbo of sensations and experiences contribute to each area of interest. With his planter filled with so many different seeds, they can’t help but cross-pollinate and bloom new and exciting things.

That’s something I try to take into account with my life. Whenever I feel myself growing comfortable and resistant to something new, that’s a pretty loud signal I need to indulge in new knowledge. Something completely outside of my wheelhouse.

My goal is to become the most magicalest, rainbowiest unicorn there is!


* Terry Crews image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Categories: Me

INTJs and the Continuing Theme of Fear

I’ve been published!

No, not my fiction. Still cruising the streets of Rejectionville there.

But friend, author, writing coach, mom, and all-around-Wonder Woman, Lauren Sapala, asked that I write an article for her popular website.

**PSSST** If so inclined, please support Lauren by buying a copy of her highly-rated book…

Lauren is an INFJ on the popular MBTI inventory (a lot of acronyms, I know). If you’re not familiar with Meyers-Briggs Type Indicators, start here. The system is based on the work of Carl Jung and is essentially a psychological framework that explains why we tend to think and behave in the ways we do.

A portion of Lauren’s audience have a similar personality makeup to her INFJ-ness, but are off by a single letter; oh what a difference a single letter can make.

You see, like me, these people are INTJs. We’re very close to INFJs on a lot of things, but when it comes to making decisions, we tend to favor cold, hard logic above personal concerns. To be clear, there should be no bias as to which is better than the other. It’s just a scale on which most of us tend toward one side more often than not.

Anyway, please check out the article if you’re interested in what it’s like to try and write fiction, essentially emotion realized, yet continually wrestle with the tendency to keep feelings bottled up. To fight to finish our work while contending with an amazing ability to convince ourselves that the odds are against us.

I learned a lot about myself writing that piece. I hope you find it useful as well.

-Phillip

Contemplating Fear

“Our greatest growth spurts happen when we are children risking and daring and falling down and embarrassing ourselves.” – Steve Chandler, Time Warrior

If you met me in person, you’d realize that I don’t have a lot to say. It’s not that the thoughts aren’t there. It’s just that they won’t come out of my mouth. Typically, it’s because you’re not interested in whatever’s on my mind, or more aptly put, I don’t believe you’re interested in whatever’s on my mind.

I might be right. I might be wrong. But you know what usually happens? People think I’m boring. People think I’m shy. People think I’m arrogant.

Of course I think those things about myself some of the time, and some of the time, I am being those things (*gasp*). Still, I don’t want to be boring. I don’t want to be shy. I don’t want to be arrogant.

It’s just the comfortable actions and reactions of an introvert.

Yesterday’s post was an example of me attempting to face this particular fear. I had several moments of indecision about the title of that story, because I’m normally not one to curse or be “crude” in polite company (outside of stubbing my toe on one of Angus’s toys for umpteenth time — then I’ll make the saltiest sailor blush).

This post is a continuation of facing that fear, admitting that I felt ambivalent over the post. I believed that title illustrated the levity with which the characters viewed the subject. Not sure if that came across, but I was willing to take the risk.

I’m human. No shining example of propriety. I often find things funny that some people find abhorrent or offensive, and others have laughed at things that I find wrong. That’s just the nature of humor. Who can explain it?

I’m learning that to be a good writer, I have to stop worrying about being appropriate. It kills the creative mind and it’s a losing battle — in the end, there is no final arbiter outside of your own mind regarding appropriateness. You have to accept that you may upset those whose opinions you value. It’s the only way to move forward. Ask anyone who’s ever done anything worth a damn and I’d bet dollars to donuts that they didn’t operate on fear.

You can be nice. You can even try to explain yourself if it matters that much to you. But don’t regret making that decision. Don’t stop facing down those fears.

In other news: Game of Thrones is back for its seventh season. My amazing wife had surprise GoT-themed cookies baked for me. I’ll post pictures this week. The sad feeling of destroying such beautiful things was quickly replaced by lots of “mmmms.”

Also, it’s an odd thing, watching a television show based on a series of books, in which neither has reached its end. Paths have diverged here and there based on character emphasis, character choices, and character deaths. I’d be lying if I said I was through waiting for George and his publisher to put out the next book, but I’m as anxious as anyone.

-Phillip

* Image courtesy of Max Pixel

The Dicks and Tits of Khalid Nabi


“I hope this is worth it.”

“It is the best idea ever dreamed of.”

“And what if it is all destroyed next year? Or the year after?”

“Great art requires great risks, brother.”

Nizam snorted, though he was short of breath. “Oh, this is art now, is it?”

“Of a sort,” Hiraz replied. A grin stretched across his face.

Nizam continued walking backwards, carrying one end of the stone phallus up the grass-covered hill.

“Think of all of the head scratching and postulating,” Hiraz said. “‘Oh, these people must have prayed to these large penises and offered sacrifices to the stone breasts.'” He shook his head. “It kills me inside that I will not be around to see it.”

“Here,” Nizam said. They stopped and dropped the heavy cylinder. It sank slightly into the moist soil. While his brother took a shovel from his sack, Nizam looked out over the past year’s progress. Already, hundreds of graveless headstones had been sunk into the ground. He wondered if there was anyone actually buried out here. Centuries of conflict between horse-riding raiders and settled peoples had taken place in these hills. The restless souls would be spinning in their graves.

A deep hole had been dug and together, Hiraz and Nizam lifted the penis on end and dropped the bottom half in. Hiraz stood back and admired the work.

“It is beautiful, is it not, brother?”

“Whatever you say, Hiraz.”

* Flash fiction based on article from Atlas Obscura – Khalid Nabi Cemetery – pg. 114, Article 2 – website version of article

** Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Shortcuts = Long Delays

We had an insightful speaker today at my writer group’s monthly meeting: Joe Ide, author of the acclaimed IQ.

I’m definitely picking up his books for a couple of reasons:

  • If he writes a story as well as he tells one, I’m already sold. The guy is full of charm and has an eye for telling details that really hook you in.
  • His two greatest influences are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Elmore Leonard. Given the fact that I’m in the middle of reading and absorbing Elmore’s western stories, I’ll take that as a slap-you-in-the-face sign.

He instructed his captive audience that there are no shortcuts to true greatness and that if you’re not going to try to be the best that you can be in such a competitive field, you’re just wasting your time. Despite his success, Joe still writes close to eight hours a day, seven days a week.

Good reminders.

A Saturday morning well spent.

-Phillip