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

Struggling to Give Good Things Power

“Suffering is sometimes cleansing,” said the man. His clothes were casual, but expensive. “It can purify.”

 

“It can also fuck you up,” said Shadow.

 

– Neil Gaiman, American Gods

I love it when the brain takes two completely different sources of input and creates something new.

I just wrapped up my initial round of studying Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (one of five novels I’ve decided to really break down and hopefully gain insight as to why it resonated with me and other people, and also why it didn’t resonate with some). I’ll try not to spoil anything, but the central concept is that things only hold great power if we believe in them. I’ll leave the universal truth of this up to theologians and philosophers, but the idea is a simple one and I believe it to be true on at least some level. I’ve seen thoughts have a large influence on actions, both with myself and with others. The whole movement behind “positive thinking” is testament to this creed.

But as useful as positive thinking can be, that’s only one part of the equation. Next comes the action.

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18, Holy Bible (King James Version)

Joe Rogan and Jocko Willink believe struggle is an imperative of mankind. Without it, we’re never truly human.

It’s so easy to give power to the bad things these days. How do we ensure that the things we become don’t harm us or others?

How do we give good things power?

Is a person you know suffering with depression or grieving? We’re so busy. We can send a text or make a quick phone call and leave it at that. That fits into the ten-minute time slot you have between meetings today. Then you can feel the lingering guilt the rest of the week over your token sympathy.

Or you can postpone the “me” time you had planned for Saturday and invite them over for their favorite meal, play a board game, and remind them of the good in life. Even better, you can ask them what they most need right now and do that thing for them — iron their clothes, clean their kitchen, and so on.

What about deciding what you’re going to put in your body? You can pick up that $5 cheeseburger combo meal on the way home from work and burp the night away.

Or you can take the extra time to stop at the market and pick up some fresh spinach, a few other vegetables, maybe some salmon if you’re omnivorously inclined, and spend the evening preparing a meal that your body will not hate you for.

All this isn’t to say we should always and only be struggling in life. After all, the point of struggling is the celebration of overcoming. Of knowing that you earned your place.

But it’s probably a good idea to keep a running tally of the things you’ve achieved of which you’re most proud and remember the scar-inducing battles you fought along the way. It’s also good to remind ourselves that not all struggles are large and visible. Most of them, in my experience, are quiet and personal.

Please, join me in the struggle to give the good things power.

-Phillip

Resolutely Resolving My Rubik’s Cube

Resolving to be Resolute
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2017’s beady eyes are peering over the horizon, and it’s the first time that I’ve bothered to look back in earnest at promises made in the haze of New Year enthusiasm.

Sounds like progress, right? Right.

So let’s see how those puzzle pieces are lining up: Read more “Resolutely Resolving My Rubik’s Cube”

Weekly Recap – February 6th, 2015

I think I wanna play the harmonica!
I think I wanna play the harmonica!

Two co-workers in training + two with the flu made for a week that never seemed to end. I made it to Friday with only a few bruises. That has to count for something, no? 🙂 Still, I’m not out of the weeds yet as I’m on-call this weekend.

But with my new-found “Gotta Get Organized!” mindset, I made time for family, reading, and writing. If I can do it, I’m pretty sure most anyone can. If you find yourself falling behind and are seeing your goals edge further toward the horizon, I recommend you find a way to manage your time. Though you’ll see forthcoming posts on how I do it, they won’t tell you how you should do it. I think everyone needs to find not only a way that works for them, but also a level of organization that works for them. You’ll know you’re on to something when you can look back at the end of the week and be genuinely proud of your accomplishments.

Anyway, more on that later. For now, enjoy the weekend!

-Phillip

Weekly Recap – January 30th, 2015

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That “Did I remember to lock my car?” moment…

This was a screwy week for me, work-wise, but Friday has arrived and I’m ready for a relaxing weekend spent with family and friends.

I’ve begun outlining a series of blog posts based on my new productivity kick, so expect to see the first installment soon. Also, I’ve lined up Police Blotter posts for every Monday reaching into April, so I hope you find those as fun as I do.

If I manage to squeeze out my journal entries tonight and tomorrow, that will put me at the one-month mark for daily writing! I’m pretty proud of that, but I’ll be even more proud when I hit two months. I’ve really been enjoying the experience. It’s funny just how many things I forget during the day that come back to mind when I’m putting down words.

Stay safe folks and if you’re watching the Superbowl, enjoy. If you’re not, take advantage of the lack of traffic!

-Phillip

Weekly Recap – January 23rd, 2015

“Withering tears, what good can come of tears? None I know of.” – Homer, The Odyssey
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Some of my accomplishments this week:

  • I’m halfway through my second reading of The Odyssey. Once that’s completed, I’ll post a review. If you can’t sleep or have a sadomasochistic streak, you can find my messy, ever-growing notes here.
  • I wrote a follow-up to my Grand Wattpad Experiment.
  • Angus is getting more interested in books! He thinks they’re delicious. *shrug* It’s a start.

Other than those items, I have to say, this new found “life organization” project has me breathing more easily each day. With my mind more at ease, I’m actually accomplishing goals, I’ve also begun carving up time for working on a novel again. Who woulda thunk? Of course, the recently converted are always the most fervent. Once the luster wears off in a month or two, it will be interesting to see where things lie.

I wish you all a great weekend!

-Phillip

Know Thyself

dec 20 2014jc small

A new year arrives on Thursday and I find myself at a crossroads.

Now, I don’t mean to trivialize problems far greater than mine that others are facing. For me, life is generally good. I mean, come on…look at that cutie on the left (obviously Angus, not me).

But in some seriousness, I’m wondering what is becoming of this ‘writing career’ I’ve been inching toward the past few years.

You may, or may not, have noticed sporadic posts on this blog over the past few months. The birth of a child has been more than a slight detour off Routine Road; it’s been a total loss of pavement, sending me white-knuckled over a field of potholes, ditches and sharp rocks.

And that’s thanks to just one healthy kid! I feel nothing but the utmost admiration for those who have more than one, or whose children have medical issues, and manage to get things done. You people are amazing.

Still, this new priority has entered my life and as I’ve become frustrated in my other endeavors, I’ve had to ask myself, “What’s really important to me now?” I’ve grown tired of beating myself up for not accomplishing everything I’d like to accomplish.

To carry on a cliché: There has to be a better way.

A time management course I took in October gave me the tools to look at the various roles in my life: Dad, Husband, Son, Brother, Friend, Author, Blogger, Engineer, Athlete, Student, and Chef to name a few. The idea was to honestly probe each role in order to determine my goals and discover what matters in one’s life.

As it turns out, a lot of things matter. I want to be an awesome dad, a loving husband, a thoughtful son, a fun brother, and a true friend. I want to become a successful fiction author. I want to regularly blog brilliant words of wisdom. I want to make meaningful contributions at work. I want to fit comfortably in my pants again. I want to read and study “the classics.” I want to give those 10-year-old, souffle-making Masterchefs a run for their money in my own kitchen.

That’s just a sample, but as you’ve figured out by now, there’s not enough time in the day to be really good at all of those things. We mammals require this ridiculous thing called sleep.

Therefore, the question of “What’s really important to me now?” naturally becomes, “What’s really, really important to me now?”

The list becomes smaller at that point. Family will always be #1. The job supporting my family becomes #2. Right now, to do those two things well, seems to require 90% of my time (I’m only counting the time I’m not snoring in bed). The other 10% is enough time to read a chapter or section of a book and take notes, or draft a blog post, or cook a fun dinner, or unwind by playing a game on my tablet.

#1 may get less time consuming with Angus, or more time consuming, as he gets older (the answer seems to depend on who I ask). My hope is that I can implement more automation and delegation for #2, making room for other roles on my list.

So, did you guys catch it yet?

The sharp readers likely noticed “Author” is off the shortlist. Following much thought and consternation, I’ve realized my top two priorities don’t leave me the time required to enter that ‘fictive dream state” required to write a novel at the level of quality of which I’d be satisfied. The planning, researching, outlining, writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, cost more time than I’m willing to pay right now. Those are minutes I can spend playing with Angus, talking with my wife, running errands, cleaning the house on a regular basis, and gaining knowledge through reading and study.

Writing a novel is still a dream of mine and always will be. I can’t wait to chase it again. But I’m no longer going to get down on myself for not giving it the attention it requires.

Of course, things change and only a fool sails against the wind. It will be interesting to see where things lie in the middle of 2015.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year and wish you success in your own goals!

-Phillip

Weekly Recap – August 1st, 2014

It’s been a long while since I posted a Weekly Recap. In all fairness to myself (it’s good to be fair to yourself every once in awhile), I’ve been spending a lot of writing time on Wolf’s Tail and other fiction.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I don’t have anything special planned; at least not special in the sense that I’m jumping out of an airplane. Just something like a nice dinner and watching a movie or two with my wife, but I enjoy nice dinners and watching movies with my wife.

As a kid, I used to wonder why my parents never got as excited about their birthdays as I did. Hitting thirty-six this year, I’m getting it. I don’t mean to make birthdays sound all bad. They’re a good reminder that life is short and we’re not growing any younger. To state it more eloquently, they warn us that we need to sh*t or get off the pot. Sitting there just makes our legs go numb.

One birthday I’m very excited about is my son’s. If the daily (and nightly) punches and kicks are any indication, the little guy is ready for an upgrade and should be right on time. Mom’s cozy studio apartment isn’t cutting it anymore.

Anyway, I wish you all a pleasant and safe weekend!

 

-Phillip

Weekly Recap – April 25th, 2014 – Overwhelmed but Kicking

Mea culpa for the missed entry last week. I didn’t have much to say. Not that I have much to say today, but I figured I should check in.

Getting ready for crunch time in the office. Beginning in May, I will be working almost every weekend and a lot of extra hours for a couple of months. Somebody, somewhere above me thinks more is always better than less, so why not take on multiple large and complex projects at the same time?

Thanks!

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. There are a lot of folks out there who wouldn’t mind being overloaded if it meant they could live more comfortably or even just get by.

On the baby front, mama and him (did I mention he’s a him?) are doing great. We received good news from the doc yesterday that mom will likely be off modified bed rest within 2-4 weeks. Also, our boy is a little over 1.5 pounds at this point and if his keeping mom up at night is any indication, we’re dealing with a future Karate Kid. Maybe a Pelé. Or maybe he’ll lead the future with some soccer-karate hybrid sport. I’d watch that. (Apparently someone had the same idea.)

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

-Phillip