Taking a Break From it All

Hey, it turns out that Ann’s dad gifted us his old laptop which actually works rather well and that said, it looks like blogging may be a regular thing once again. That’s good news to all two of you who take the time to read it!

First things first, the whole family has gotten their first COVID microchip implanted in them so Alex Jones knows our every move (this is all a joke, folks). Seriously, we’re all doing well and looking forward to Shot 2 in a few weeks.

As for the title of this post, I’m currently on a social media detox with Facebook and Instagram being the main offenders. While Facebook gives me its own set of reasons to keep me away, Instagram tends to be my creative outlet but even so it can turn toxic rather quickly. I sometimes find myself struggling to find subject matter to shoot and later post. It turns into work instead of fun but for what? A few likes? Nah. I need a break from that.

I also need a break from the thick-as-syrup, Pollyanna bullshit posts that some people lay on to make the world feel sorry for them. Come on, now. Ann is missing several organs and gave birth via C-section and didn’t whine like some people do getting a tooth pulled. Yeesh.

As far as Twitter goes, I haven’t posted/read anything there on a regular basis in months. Strangely, since January 2021. Things that make you go “Hmm…”

And taking today’s date of May 4th into consideration, there’s only so many posts on any platform with that phrase I can take before I heave up my dinner.

Another reason I’m taking a break from it all is because, quite simply, they are rabbit holes. You can seriously sit with phone in hand and lose yourself looking at the lunches of strangers before realizing how much time you’ve wasted (look at your ScreenTime, Apple people) – and wasting time is exactly what you’re doing. Part of the detox is finding something else to do with that time and one of those is sleep – and it’s been a good thing.

Another thing I started doing last night was – wait for it – read. Yes, the guy who hates reading because he does it 8 hours a day working from home has decided to try it again. And last night’s choice was The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. It’s not a long book by any stretch of the imagination but the wisdom contained within it is timeless. We’ll see how far I get tonight because uh, I fell asleep last night while reading it.

And this is why I don’t read.

I’m also trying to draw a little more on that shiny new iPad Air I talked about in my last post. In fact here’s my latest drawing done in Procreate: a mashup of the character Pops from Regular Show and the Cincinnati Reds’ mascot Mr. Redlegs.

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Colors are subject to change and the username you see on the bat is my art account on Instagram. Like a few other drawings I’ve done, this is destined to become a sticker that literally nobody will buy. In fact I closed my Etsy store because I sold only one of my first sticker and it wasn’t worth the effort to keep it open. Maybe once I get a few more and make sticker packs they will sell since people will feel like they are getting a bargain, rather than pay X-dollars per sticker.

Well I better get some reading done before I fall asleep doing it again. We’ll see how long it is before I start getting messages from people on Facebook and Instagram asking where I’ve been.

That’s if they’re not busy being a hangnail martyr…

 

 

Cleaning Up

So here it is, the third day of February, and I’m writing my first blog post of the year. Anyway…

At the end of 2019, I had decided to make some changes once 2020 rolled around and once it did, you bet I started and am continuing to stick with them. So here they are, in no particular order.

I Started Reading. For those who know me really well, they understand why this is a big deal and pretty surprising. Why, you ask? Because my job requires me to read All. Day. Long. and the last thing I want to do when I get home is read some more.

The main reason I did so was because I discovered that there is an iOS app for Google Books where, as an Android user year ago, I amassed a decent collection of e-books. And I started to read some of them but because my Samsung tablet had such poor battery life and awful performance, I stopped. I wiped the tablet clean and tried again and nope, it was still slow. But once I installed the Books app on my iPad and realized how many I had, I thought that it would be a good time to start all over.

I did at the beginning of January with The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living and, much to my surprise, finished it yesterday. A whole book. All 300+ pages. That’s something, and I’m not done yet. I’m going to take a break and focus on something else this month and start on my next book in March.

Being Clutter-Free. One of the things mentioned in said book is the removal of clutter from your living space in order to keep your mind focused, and ridding yourself of material goods as a means of sticking to one of Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths: attachment is the root of all suffering (and it really is). For me, it went beyond that silly made-for-television “Does it spark joy?” mantra by someone the world has since forgotten about; it was a matter of “When was the last time I used this shit?”

And if I couldn’t remember, it got thrown out. I started in the den by cleaning out the cabinets around my TV where I found so many useless things I had collected over the years. But if they had been in there for this long and not used, away they went. There’s still work to be done but it was a real test to take on this task and see exactly how badly I might be attached to any of this stuff. I got my answer.

This also continued in the garage where we applied the same philosophy. If not for my rarely used drum set in the back, we’d have more space but I keep it because it’s fun to bang on now and then. But wait! There’s even more room in there now because…

I Sold My Motorcycle. I bought a 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3 back in February 2016 because, after two years of riding my scooter, I wanted something a little faster and sportier. Here she is, showroom-fresh just before I started the paperwork:

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Was it fun to ride? Yes. Economical? Of course. But once I was in my scooter accident in October 2016, I swore off riding and returned to being a “cager,” a not-so-endearing term that riders use to describe people who drive cars.

So basically the motorcycle sat in the garage from then until this weekend when I sold it to a local dealer. I had tried to sell it there in the past but because I owed so much on it then (the dreaded “negative equity”), they wouldn’t buy it because there was no money to be made. When I got my last statement I decided to research its value and realized it was now worth more than I owed. So I rode it over and pretty much said I want to get rid of it and they made me an offer which I happily accepted because selling a motorcycle privately is a bit more difficult than a car. I didn’t make a lot of money on the deal because it needed some maintenance but I didn’t care. It’s gone, there’s room in the garage, and I’m saving over $150 a month from the payments I no longer have to make, plus insurance I no longer have to pay. I loved riding but with the Big 51 coming in a few weeks, nah, I can’t take anymore chances.

I’m Fasting. I had heard about intermittent fasting as 2019 was wrapping up and decided to give it a try to see the benefits. While you can simply set timers and alarms on your phone to notify you when you need to start and stop your fast, I’m using an app called Zero that keeps track of all of your fasts and lets you add journal entries and emojis to record how you felt each day. There are several fasts you can try or you can personalize your own: mine is currently a nightly fast of 12 hours. It’s by no means easy – I often find myself wanting to snack once I’ve started but that’s something you have to resist along with drinking lots of water. The app has lots of useful tips if you’re just getting started.

Have I felt any different? After the first week, I went for my walk/run and did more running than I had in a long time. The energy was definitely there and I felt great. Then, of course, I got sick with a cold for about a week, took a few days off work and didn’t exercise for a week.

Tip: I would not recommend the Zero Apple Watch app. It will drain your battery since it will be running the entire time of your fast.

So the literal and proverbial cleaning will continue for as long as it takes to get things in order.

Change is hard. But change is also very, very good.