Travel & Lifestyle

I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.

Well, this one’ll be a longy, faithful blog reader. I recommend pouring a glass of wine. Maybe put a party pizza in the oven. I’ll wait.

If you’ve known me for some time, you’re aware that I’ve had multiple and varied “lives”. Professionally, I’ve been a pretty wide variety of things, from musician to missionary to entrepreneur to marine to radio executive. Currently, I purposely live a confusing life wherein I’m not sure what to say to people when they ask me what I do. “A little bit of everything?” I’m a fan of dabbling. I enjoy being involved in multiple things at once. It keeps people guessing. It keeps me guessing.

There was a time when I thought I’d be an astronaut. I carried that one from grade school all the way up to college. Then I thought I’d direct films for a living. I had a hot minute when I thought I’d join the priesthood.

In June, for the first time in my entire life, I realized that I had no aspirations. No professional goals. No ambitions. On one hand, this was incredibly freeing. I’ve spent most of my life assuming that ambition was “the thing”, but really most who make ambition their main thing are just assholes. I am not an asshole most days, so perhaps making ambition my focus was never a good idea at all.

It’s just that even with my love of dabbling and my apparent dislike of ambition, it feels good to have a “thing”. You know, your thing. The thing you do. The thing you’re passionate about. The thing you’re good at. Maybe the way you make money, maybe not. Either way, it’s the thing you spend time on not because someone’s making you, but because you love it so much. Does it completely define you? No, but it’s certainly among the top three things that do.

When I was 18, I did an exercise with a group of young adults wherein we worked through some activities and answered some questions over a 3-day period, all focussed on figuring out what we wanted to do with our lives. I’ve since come to believe that asking an 18 year old kid what he wants to do with his life is about as productive as asking an egg whether it plans on being a chicken or an iguana, but I digress. The exercise wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was the result we thought we could obtain. The definitive “What do I want to be when I grow up?” answer.

This exercise included working through questions like:

  • What have people consistently told you that you’re good at?
  • List activities that bring you joy.
  • Describe your dream job without including specifics about the job itself, but rather what it’s like to do the job.

You answer all of these questions and cross reference them, which should produce some general career ideas, one of which should resonate with you deeply.

At that time, it pointed to “filmmaker”. That result affected so much of my life, from my studies in college to my military career. I don’t regret it. I’ve made friends in the film world, and I even once optioned a screenplay, a lifetime ago. Dreams of making movies did affect my life, but I’d say for the better. And I believed that about myself for more than a decade.

Then in June, in my 30’s, looking my 40’s dead in the eye, for the first time I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Somehow “filmmaker” had faded, over the years of not making movies.

Last month, I got out that old workbook and redid the exercises from all of those years ago. This time not as a bright-eyed 18 year old kid, believing that he was setting the stage for the next 60 years of his life, but as a seasoned adult who knows that nothing is permanent, including my passions.

Wanna know what the result was this time?

A writer.

That’s right. A writer. The thing that brings me the most joy, the thing I believe for which I have some natural talent, the thing that’s given me some success, it’s always been writing.

I still want to be a serial entrepreneur. I still want to be a professional dabbler. One thing’s for certain, the idea of doing the same thing over and over again for 40+ hours every single week for the rest of my life is awful. Stuff of nightmares, man. But I still want my main thing, and that main thing is writing professionally.

Why? I’m so glad you asked!

  • Writing is one of the purest creative outlets there is. A writer is limited only by words and the imaginations of his readers.
  • Though my skills are rough and need considerable work, I believe I have some natural talent in this arena.
  • Writing can be done anywhere, and if you know me, you know I hate being tied down to any one physical location.
  • Writing can be done any time, which means that my other passions can continue to be part of my professional makeup. Which is really great, since I probably won’t be able to make a living from writing for quite a long time.
  • I’m super excited by storytelling, and writing is the starting point of story.

There are some challenges ahead for me, no doubt about it. For one, I’m not really all that accomplished, and I’m not the youngest of dudes. Also, as I mention above, I’m not that great at writing, from a skills point of view. I make very common writing mistakes all the time. I’d say I’m about a C-grade writer who occasionally produces B-grade work on accident. I need to be consistently A-grade if I want to do this professionally.

Full disclosure, I have indeed been paid to write here and there over the years. Editorials, web content, ad copy. I’ve even sold a piece of creative work. So I’m blessed that I’ve actually tasted what it could be like to write professionally. I’m lucky that I’m not starting completely from zero, just very close to it.

Here goes. Wish me luck!

Um, so yeah. In conclusion…if you need something written…uh…consider me?

Health & Fitness

October is for lovers.

Or, you know, healthy people or something like that.

So, October’s focus is “health”. I should let you know that a lot of that is physical health for me, but mental and emotional health are certainly being considered as well.

I’d like to think, generally speaking, that I’m a healthy person. But when I start tallying all the wonderful ways in which I let my health down on a daily basis, I suspect that there’s stuff going on beneath the surface that will bite me square in the butt later in life.

Ideally, I’m taking some of the habits I form in these months and carrying them into my full-time life later. I’d like to hope that this is a month of things that will stick, because I want to believe that these are just good habits to have.

  • 1 Gallon of water every day. (Maybe a bit of overkill, based on recent proclamations by health professionals, but it’s more about having a good habit than anything else.)
  • No more than 1,500 calories per day. (Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with being skinny. Lower calorie diets have been shown time and time again to have loads of health benefits.)
  • Vegetarian 5 days per week. (So, basically, be vegetarian. Again, not necessarily about the health benefits of vegetarianism; rather about watching and controlling what goes into my body.)

Of course health has to do with SO much more than diet…but I do believe that diet is central to health. Pivotal, and the biggest influence on my overall health, including spiritual and emotional.

Also, remember that I have some seriously healthy habits that I’m already doing for the entire 10 months, notably getting proper sleep and meditating. So adding three dietary habits seemed appropriate.

I’m curious about how this will make me feel. Hopefully effing amazing, because giving up cheeseburgers feels like a ginormous sacrifice.

Health & Fitness, Philosophy & Religion

Updates! Mayhem! Radical Changes!

September’s been going well, my curious friend. (You know. The one who reads this blog.)

I’m not tracking my success/failure at this 10-month adventure, but I think I’m safely north of the 80% success rate one should hope for in any enterprise.

There are some changes. Good ones. I’m sleeping better, getting fitter, and in some ways, I’ve been happier. Life is good, which is sort of radical, I suppose.

In a separate document (my notebook), I wrote some ground rules that sort of define my approach to life change over the next 10 months, and I thought I’d share them today. Why not? Two-thirds of this blog will be boring AF, so what’s one little boring post?

Track nothing.

Yep. Kinda flies in the face of most self-improvement literature you’ve read, huh? Well, I’ve dropped the spreadsheets, the charts, the guilt…I’m just focussing on each hour as I’m living it.

There is no past.

I don’t know about you, but my morning failures often turn into entire days in which I make no progress, and likely go backward a bit. “Well, I already blew it,” I think, “might as well eat an entire Dominoes pizza.” Days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months…you know where this is going.

Take one day off each week on purpose.

You probably don’t need me to describe what this looks like to you. Yes. It’s limited hedonism. Lots of studies have indicated that this isn’t just healthy, but important when trying to stick to something difficult.

Celebrations don’t count.

This one’s tricky, because my brain could easily use it for an excuse to abandon the program at will. That’s not good for business, so allow me to define what this means exactly: No, I can’t eat that Dominos pizza just because the Broncos won a game, but I’m eating Thanksgiving dinner and probably not writing a damn word on Christmas.

If I’m a guest, I graciously do my best.

With all respect to my friends who are passionately committed to a lifetime of this lifestyle choice or that (being vegan, hating Coldplay), I just can’t bring myself to allow my personal choices, regardless of how passionate I am about them, to fly in the face of my host.

When it comes to eating and drinking at someone’s house, if I have a dietary choice I’ve made, it simply doesn’t apply. If I have options, I’ll choose the option that fits, but I don’t expect my friends to know my current requirements and whatever they put in front of me, I’ll smile, thank them, and enjoy every drop and every bite.

Rabbit Trail

I realized just now when writing this that so much of what I write about involves food and drink. This isn’t by accident. Food and drink are central themes in my life, and very, very important to me. They simultaneously give me life and make my life better, despite being my most dangerous vices. You’re going to notice that I use food metaphors quite a lot, and that’s just who I am. I should probably write a post dedicated entirely to food…

Those are my ground rules, and quite honestly are what keeps me on this path. I don’t think I could continue without regular “breaks” from the schedule. It’s an inhale/exhale thing.

Health & Fitness, Philosophy & Religion

September: Discipline

About 2 years ago, I raised several health concerns to my doctor, a tiny Chinese woman with very little tact.

“Lose weight. Eat more leafy greens. Take up yoga.”

This was her matter-of-fact response. Easily one of the best prescriptions I’ve ever received.

A couple of months later, I was complaining to a friend about my inability to follow her simple instructions.

“Seems like you just lack discipline, man.”


September’s my first “focus” month of this journey, and Discipline, a value of mine I happen to be lacking, is what I’m focusing on.

I’ve read countless articles on the topic, and most experts seem to agree that discipline works very much the same way that physical fitness works: you gotta work at it to have it, you gotta work harder to get more of it, and if you stop working at it, it goes away.

In other words, you have a limited supply of self-discipline each day, and exactly how much that is depends largely on you.

Agree or disagree, this is how I’m approaching it. My month will be spent largely on restricting myself, as indulgence is my biggest enemy right now.

September’s Rules

  1. Wake up at 6:00AM every day.
  2. Abstain from alcohol and tobacco.
  3. [insert rule so personal I can’t share]

I’m writing this one from my phone, so I’ll be brief. Also, I’m going to try and pepper in some entertaining posts now and then, once I have my computer back…

Philosophy & Religion

So, I’m flawed, but not fundamentally.

I’m not exactly sure when it started, but at some point in recent history, the tone of the world started to make me feel guilty for who I am. Fundamentally, I mean.

Not everything about me, but specifically this: I’m a white, 30-something, middle-class, American, Christian, heterosexual male. I belong to what is essentially the least marginalized, most privileged group of humans alive today. I’ll never truly understand what it’s like to be…

  • Black
  • Female
  • Gay
  • Abjectly Poor
  • Muslim
  • A Cat

Now, I’m certain that if I asked anyone who advocates for cats or for women’s rights or racial equality or whatever, they most certainly would not say that being what I am is wrong in and of itself. They would agree that I’m not fundamentally a mistake, and there’s nothing morally wrong with being W3MCACHM. (Trust me, it’ll catch on.)

The thing is, I’m not talking about any one person making me feel this phantom guilt. It’s the tone of media. The conversations I read online. The issues du jour. And seeing others in my little racial-sexual-religious-socio-economic class vilified (c’mon, you know it’s true), often just for the spectacle of it.

I’m not denying that I come from an incredibly privileged perspective, relatively speaking. And I’m definitely not denying the importance of bringing social issues to light and addressing them. I’m not going to say “my life is harder than you know”, or “you don’t know where I come from”, or anything of the like. Please don’t lump me with the All Lives Matter crowd, and please don’t think that I’m crying about how tough it is to be a white boy. Because frankly, it’s not.

What I am saying is that if I’m going to success at this 10-month journey I’m on, I have to start with what I accept as an axiom: I’m flawed, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with who I am. 

There is plenty of stuff in my life to feel guilty about. Plenty. Simply being W3MCACHM is not one of them.

Those are things about me that I didn’t necessarily choose, and are mostly impossible to change. So I shouldn’t feel any shame about them, and they aren’t really things to be particularly proud of, either. They’re just who I am. Part of my makeup. And feeling guilty for them is just as ridiculous as bigotry cast at anyone different from me.

Moving forward I’m going to remind myself daily, as a part of this process, that though I have flaws that I’m working on, I am not fundamentally a mistake. I am not a moral aberration. I’m uniquely me, and that’s totally okay.

Necessary Disclaimer Note: I’m most certainly not making a case for not drawing attention to the social issues that are so incredibly important today like racism, sexism, etc. If you think I am, you’re missing the point of this post, and likely this here blog thingy.