IT’S LIKE READING FOR YOUR EARS

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Audiobooks, man.

I recently signed on for Audible at the suggestion of a friend. Now, I should start by saying this is not an add for Audible. I like it fine and the library is good, but you could legitimately use whatever audiobook service you prefer for all I care. Who am I to tell you what to do? Live your life. Jerk.

Anyway, to return to my original statement: Audiobooks, man. They’re great. I was always hung up on the idea of like listening to a book. In my mind it always felt like more of an achievement if I actually¬†read the book instead. Also, I never really saw an opportunity to just pop on a book and press play. It’s definitely not something I can do for background noise, since that really defeats the purpose. However, I never really traveled long distances by myself nor have I had much of a commute, both of which are when a lot of people engage audiobooks. When I do go out of town, it’s typically with someone else, often my wife, and I’m a talker. I never really felt motivated to listen to audiobooks while cleaning as I typically need a peppy upbeat soundtrack to get me going. All in all, I just didn’t see when I’d have the time to let someone read a book for me aside from time that I could use to just read a book myself.
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Unanticipated Improvement

Sometimes unexpected changes to plans can be the source of lasting memories.

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A few weekends ago, Tee and I traveled out to New Mexico to visit my brother’s family. My parents were also gonna be out that way, so we figured it would be a good chance to get the whole family together in one place, a feat that is incredibly rare these days. So months before the trip, Tee and I made plans, booked flights, and got excited.

About a month before the trip, the airline we had booked with changed our flight in to New Mexico. Instead of a short layover in Denver and an arrival time of mid afternoon on Friday, we instead had a 6 HOUR layover in Denver and wouldn’t be arriving until late that night, effectively killing an entire day’s worth of time I could spend with my family. I decided to cancel the flight and find something new, which ultimately resulted in us having to pay almost double for tickets. During that struggle, I had an idea: What if we JUST flew to Denver, rented a small car and drove the 6 hours down to Albuquerque? I found a super cheap flight to Denver on Thursday night and an equally cheap hotel in the area. It felt like a crazy idea and a somewhat illogical work around. Why not just pony up the larger ticket price and fly in? Why add a six hour drive to an already long day of travel (we have to fly out of Orlando since the Gainesville airport is literally the most expensive airport in the state).

I can tell you right now, it was the best choice ever.
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Everyday

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Maybe the trick to doing something everyday isn’t to remind ourselves how important it is but to instead convince ourselves it’s run of the mill.

It is incredibly hard to do something every day.

I’m talking one activity or practice for some amount of time

Every.

Single.

Day.

For many things, like writing for instance, there are experts everywhere that tell you the best way to get good is to do it each and every day, even just for a little while. I remember a long time ago, my mom handed me “On Writing,” a book by Stephen King that laid out his memoirs and tips for writers. In it, he mentioned muscle memory several times (if my brain memory is correct) and how writing a little every day is better than just writing one day a week for a long period of time. Even back then, in high school (I believe) and having a world of time around me, I thought to myself, “How is that even possible?” Everyday is such a commitment. It includes weekends and holidays. It includes days we’re sick or generally not feeling like it. Everyday disregards the weather and our emotions. It doesn’t care how much we’ve eaten or what our sleep was like the night before. How is it possible to commit to an everyday? Yet, here is Stephen King, an immensely successful writer, telling me that Everyday is the key. And it doesn’t stop at writing. I’ve also heard this advice plenty of times from music instructors, personal trainers, meditation guides, hiking/nature advocates, dating/socializing counselors, foreign language teachers and plenty of other people in different fields. The topic may be different, the execution specific to the field, but they all agree on one the: the effectiveness of whatever you are doing is going to be at its peak with an Everyday mindset.
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Nobody Watching

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Keep your meditation and yoga, I’ll take private dance parties every day.

So there’s that phrase everybody knows: “Dance like nobody’s watching.” Ultimately this just means have confidence in yourself on the dance floor and that dancing should be about YOU and not being concerned about if your moves are good enough or how you look. I’ve talked in the past about how beautiful music is when you just let it consume you. It’s true, when you get to that point where you just gotta dance, you definitely SHOULD forget everything around you and just let go. It’s more than just dance-specific. I believe whoever originated this phrase really meant that whatever it is tugging at your passion, you should just let go and not be concerned about what everyone around you thinks. For me that concept most often manifests when I’m playing the drums. Getting into the music and just letting go, flailing like a madman. It’s a magical experience.

However, I honestly wonder how many people know what its like to ACTUALLY dance when nobody is watching. I think the prequel to the opening phrase should be “you by all means SHOULD dance when nobody is watching. You should take every chance you can to throw on some music and boogie. Shake parts of you that you don’t often shake.” But I guess that doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.

Honestly, if you have never just had a solo dance party, you’re missing out. It is honestly one of the easiest ways to get hyped before a day of work. It is relaxing and refreshing. It fills you with confidence to approach challenges and energy to approach creativity. If you take it in the right direction, it can even be a good work out. I mean hell, why do you think there are so many dance-focused video games. The benefits of just absorbing some music and letting our bodies go is astounding. I don’t frequent dance clubs, but you best believe when I’m home I’m getting my Risky Business on.

I love it, to be honest. I never approach a day stronger than I do when I’ve let myself have a moment to just listen to some loud music and boogie, however that may manifest. And by all means, let your dance be specific to you. Wanna just bang head to some heavy metal? Tear up, satanicus! Maybe you feel like a private hoedown. Well then, do-si-do it to it, pardner! The music doesn’t matter, the moves don’t matter. All that counts is that you let the music grab you right in the emotions and you move the way it tells you to.

Like I said, I always find that getting a little groove in is great way to clear my mind and charge up for the day, but it’s not just me saying it. There have actually been studies that look deeper into the mental health benefits of regular or occasional dance, as well as groups that use dance as active therapy. There is seriously a ton of literature out there about different effects dance and music have on the mind as well as the body, and while the full effects are still being recorded and re-recorded, the overall consensus is that dancing both freely and as part of a organized group is one of the most beneficial activities you can take part in. It explains why we as humans are always so drawn to it. Hell, our modern concept of popular music is almost exclusively driven by the ability of a song to be “danceable.” We have had dancing and rhythm focused video games for literally decades. Popular group exercise programs like jazzercise and Zumba have been popular for literally as long as I can recall. We as people WANT to dance, however that movement might manifest, so if you haven’t just let go in the safety of your own home, then you’re severely missing out.

I invite anyone who reads this to dance. By yourself, with a friend, with a significant other. At a club, home alone, in the street (maybe not). Dance while running on the treadmill (carefully). Dance while vacuuming. If your jam comes on during the pre-show at a movie or in the waiting room at a mechanic or while you’re trying to find the ripest honeydew at the farmer’s market, then dive in and boogie-oogie and also oogie.

I also think if it’s something you’re interested in, consider finding a class or group and start doing that. Not only are you getting the benefits of regular dance, you’re getting the benefits of socialization and meeting a bunch of people with the same interest. You don’t have to be the next lead background dancer in the next [Insert Popular Music Personality Here] video (gotta keep these blog posts relevant for years to come). You just have to let go and get your groove on. Dance for yourself and follow where your body wants you to go.

Just dance like nobody is watching.

Some of my dance jams:

StandoutProf
Genghis KhanMiike Snow
Pork SodaGlass Animals
WowPost Malone
Check Yo SelfIce Cube
PARAD(w/m)ESylvan Esso
LazarettoJack White
SuperpositionYoung the Giant
Something for your M.I.N.D.Superorganism
bad guyBillie Eilish
Wintergreen – That Handsome Devil

[Hardest part about writing this post was not making this longer than 10 songs. Honestly, it just gets less relevant and weird the longer it gets.]

~C

On a Break

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So, May is crazy.

Trips and changing things around and working on projects. So much going on this month, I’m not even sure I’ll make it out the same on the other side. I mean, April was¬† busy enough, but MAY? Holy Toledo…

Like that shit, right there. “Toledo.”

When did I start saying “Holy Toledo?”

Anyway, I’m going to take a month off from the blog. I have a few chainsaws in the air, so I want to have more time to focus on them.

What chainsaws you ask?

This one: RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

And this one over here: VRRRRM VRRRRM VRRRRM

And a few others that I don’t have anything definitive for right now. (I’ll add chainsaws as they come up)

Catch me on instagram if you want to keep up (it’s really the only social media I use anymore). Going to MegaCon in May, so probably get some good stuff on there soon that isn’t just me complaining about food related things.

I am going to try and still have content pop up, maybe some guest blogs. So we’ll see.

Catch y’all in June!

~C

&Run

^^^Love this song.

Anywho, this post isn’t about the song, awesome though it may be.

I’ve started running again. Moreover, I’ve started running at NIGHT!

Cue “but what about dangerous muggers” talk.

Okay, fair, running at night isn’t for everyone. You certainly want to be in an area where it’s cool to do so and safe to do so. Be it safe from wild animals or wild muggers or the even more terrifying Wyld Stallyns, though then you just get a sweet party in a cool 1980’s styley.
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A Little Bit of Reprieve

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So, I’ve missed a few weekly posts lately.

Things have been intense. The Wife and I have decided to restructure our apartment so that it focuses more on function over form. We just came to the realization that the way we laid everything out was more based on “how rooms should be laid out” and not “this is how we want it.” So we shoved the computer and desk into the second bedroom of our 2/2, put the couch smack dab in the middle of the living room facing the TV, etc etc etc. However, two weeks ago we just decided it just wasn’t making it easy to do the things we want to do in life.

We had a dining room table that we honestly never use, a dresser that just took up way too much space, and a handful of other shelving things that were unnecessarily bulky. We shipped those away with some haulers to be donated somewhere, moved the desk out to the main area and set up stations throughout the apartment. There’s a small table for painting miniatures, a crafting desk for Tee’s cosplay and etsy stuff, a reading nook, and the full desk for writing and research and photoshop and whatever else. In our bedroom, we even managed a small music area with a keyboard and guitars. It’s fetch as hell.

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What we had come to terms with is that there are so many hobbies and creative things and productive things and yadda yadda that we want to do on a regular basis, but we have been hindered by honestly just being to lazy to set them up. I’d like to get back into piano, but getting the keyboard out of the closet and setting it up somewhere was dreadful. We both want to paint, be it minis or canvas or other things, but that would involve finding an area with good light, setting up a table, and hunching into it for a few hours. We were constantly barred from these things we want to do, and hell ENJOY doing, by simply not wanting to do any set up and tear down. That’s why the two of us don’t play many board games one on one, because getting the gaming table (a large foldable poker table) out was just a hassle through and through. Now everything simply boils down to sitting down and doing, no set up required.

And it’s super friggin nice. Being able to dive into things whenever. We replaced a bunch of the shelving we removed with more compact Ikea pieces and VOILA! Functional home.

However, I am now super pooped. We were doing this all while traveling to see family, dealing with holidays and special events, Tee quitting her old job and finding a new one, and me finally being fed up with my daily schedule and thus switching my sleep schedule around dramatically (a three-ish hour shift back so I wake up right before work instead of 3 hours before work).

With how busy I’ve been, I found that I was in this sort of mode where I’m trying to make sure everything is a rigorously planned itinerary. Every moment for the past few weeks has been “what do I do now” or “what gets built or moved or created.” My expectations for how I spend my time have shot through the freakin’ roof to the point where tonight I’m literally a bit light-headed from the fatigue of going full 110% for 20+ days. It’s not a good look.

It culminated today with me literally being in a panic about how I wanted to spend my Saturday. SATURDAY. MY WEEKEND had become something that needed a strict schedule. I was wracking my brain with what felt like the right choice. Should I go somewhere? Maybe play some video games with my boys. Perhaps go out drinking for the holiday. Maybe lie in bed and do nothing. All of these things, mind you, are things that are typically not approached the same way someone would approach a problem like “okay, which spreadsheet takes priority according to deadlines?” However, here I was, trying to rigorously fold it out.

Then suddenly I had an epiphany: What if I just didn’t plan? What if one whole day I just let myself do whatever I felt like and didn’t worry about if it was the best use of my time?

So, I’m not planning SHIT for Saturday. I am a directionless floater. A leaf on the wind.

And it feels nice.

The message: Sometimes it’s good to leave a schedule blank. Let your whims decide the outcome. Feel like video games? Play ’em. Friend wants to hang out? Do or don’t based on how you feel (and be comfortable saying NO, it’s your life and they should understand that). Want to get some chores done? Cool! Weirdly adulty, but cool! Just ride the wave. Just exist. Let your feelings drive.

So, I’m gonna dial things back a bit with the go-go-fucking-go attitude I’ve had recently. Just coast a bit.

It’s good to start feeling back on track, to be honest.

~C

Steps

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I have a friend who wants to be an actor.

Anytime somebody asks what his one true goal in life is, that’s what he says. To act. To be paid to act. To have a career in acting to some degree.

However, he actively does nothing to progress this dream. He acted in high school and college, but ceased regularly auditioning for roles after that. He works in a field he isn’t interested in. He’s done some small videos for local productions and one theater production a couple years back. I’ve occasionally told him about productions I’ve heard about or paid commercial gigs. He appreciates it, but never actively pursues it. Over the years I’ve heard him mention time or long-term plans or not being the right fit.

The cycle always ends the same: My friend passes on opportunities and then laments not having the career he so desires.

Unfortunately, my friend’s story, while an extreme example, is not uncommon with many people I know and have spoken to over the years. People find something they want or something they’d like changed, but take no action to achieve it. They so desperately want their life to be one way, but they avoid taking any of the appropriate steps to do so. I myself still have plenty of things that I wish upon wish for, but seem to pass on constantly for various reasons.
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Calm

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[I wasn’t paid or asked to make this post. Simply sharing praise on my own accord]

Just want to take a moment to praise the Calm app.

Sometime last year I picked up this app out of interest based on their commercials. You’ve probably seen them: the soft sounds of rain falling on leaves behind a command to do nothing for 30 seconds or so. It’s effective marketing because it presents itself like a challenge. Whether you’re just idly watching TV or using it as background music, the isolated sounds of the drizzle pull your awareness to the screen and the countdown timer locks you in. I found myself stopping whatever else I was doing anytime this commercial came on and just focusing on the sound. Then it pops up with “Calm” and how to find the app. It’s effective marketing in the most simplistic because it’s jarring in it’s lack of noise and music like so many other commercials. It because noticeable because of its serenity, which is exactly what Calm is getting at: breaking from the noise of life to spend a small amount of time every day being calm.
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Busy-ness is My Business

I recently read an incredible article from Buzzfeed News titled “How Millenials Became the Burnout Generation” by Anne Helen Petersen. It was an extremely insightful article and really connected to me on a personal level. It was cathartic going through the piece and seeing feelings and struggles I regularly experience described and analyzed. The roots of issues sussed out and expanded upon. Honestly, it’s worth a read whether you are a millennial or not and whether you feel exhaustion or not.

I definitely understand the concept of “errand paralysis” and it’s connection to exhaustion. I have such little time day to day that I’ve had to throw a lot of the things to the wayside, those things often being matters of cleaning, organizing and general home upkeep. My time is a premium and I need to be dedicating as much of it as I can to the things important to me. I find myself, much like the examples in Petersen’s article, constantly so busy with other things that errands and chores become too mundane to factor in. The freaky thing is that I never even realized I was doing it. I was shoving things off to the next day or the next week without really comprehending why.
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