Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Can You Reinvent Too Much?

The last few weeks have been spent wondering "what the hell am I going to blog about?" This started off as an experiment with me leaving Facebook and documenting it; and has morphed into my own non-private thinking out-loud forum, or as I like to think of it, "brain-barf." Knowing myself the way I do and my obvious case of adult ADD, I know that if I want to continue to blog (which I do), I'm going to need some sort of identity or direction. I can't simply sit down and start typing about whatever pops into my head; using that approach I can clearly see myself saying "no, that's lame, listen to music and dance around the house instead" (Don't act like you don't).

This self-reflection has brought me to an exciting place, actually. I've decided I need to reinvent myself a bit. Create an online persona, or presence, that has a bit more purpose than brain-barfing all over the place; something that interest me and perhaps others along the way. The exciting thing to me is, I'm no stranger to reinvention. I can think of at least four MAJOR reinventions in my life. There was the "oh shit, I better buckle down and start caring about my education" reinvention. Followed-up with the "oh shit, I'm not in college anymore and I need a job" reinvention. Who can forget their first "oh shit, I want a new career" reinvention? And of course, anyone who's been in a long-term relationship that didn't work out has had the "oh shit, I'm single now" reinvention. However those moments of reinvention are the obvious ones; what about the not so obvious moments of reinvention?

Aren't we in constant state of reinvention in some way? I'd like to think so. While it may not be so obvious, my point-of-view is that we are continually receiving inputs and stimuli from the outside world, processing them, and reacting to them. Now, unless you've created an entirely sterile environment in which you live and work in, you are probably likely to encounter a new situation at some point during the day/week/month/year. This new situation, while not glaring or obvious, will cause you to react and think differently in one way or another. Now, it's up to the individual whether or not they change anything because of this experience. After all, this is basic human behavior and brain-based learning theory. So am I really stretching in calling this a reinvention? Probably, and I won't argue that, but work with me here. What about the case of the disgruntled employee? This particular employee has a boss that is a micro-manager and is never satisfied with her employees output. She is constantly nagging on the employees and making them feel small or undervalued (anybody been here? I have). This employee has options. They can either continue to take the beatings and succumb to their own private misery. Or, they can reinvent themselves a little bit to best handle the situation. From this particular perspective, the reinvention can be significant, such as quitting or beginning to search for a new job, or it can be small, such as altering their own perspective of the situation to help lift themselves out of misery. Some might call it self-awareness or an attitude adjustment. In my opinion, a reinvention of sorts. The key to reinvention is recognizing when you need to change something; it doesn't always have to be a major life-changing event.

For this particular little reinvention, I'm going to begin by taking action in this blog space. I've recognized a need to change something and will take the appropriate actions necessary to make the change happen. I'll reduce the brain-barf, not eliminate it (I like having an area to think out-loud and present randomness), I'm going to focus on some things that interest me; such as health & fitness, fashion, food, and random nonsense & humor. Someone in my life has inspired me to start shooting some videos, so that's on the horizon (I've already got my first idea swirling around my head, I can also see some "Cooking for the Single Guy" videos brewing). From there, who knows? All that really matters is that I continue to improve, continue to change, challenge myself, take risks, don't take myself too seriously, and continuously reinvent myself. After all, I've seen the other side of's boring, stale, and stagnant...not for me. So please, for yourself, keep reinventing, don't let fear make decisions for you, get uncomfortable, and most importantly....take action!

Coming soon to a blog near you, brought to you by @MindOfJeff...if I can just figure out how tweak this page...wish me luck!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Days and Counting...

Disclaimer: This was supposed to be a wonderfully touching Thanksgiving post outlining all of the wonderful, but not typical, things that I am thankful for. That will just have to wait.

One Month Down

I woke up this morning to the sound of my phone; it was a calendar alert. When I rolled over to check my phone, I was surprised by the calendar appointment: "FB cutoff date".

"Has it already been a month?" I asked myself.

Indeed it has. Today is officially my one month anniversary without Facebook; and I must say, it hasn't been without its challenges. I still remember that first day clearly. Hell, I can still remember the first hour clearly. With my automatic impulses taking over, reaching for my phone, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on. In hindsight, I probably picked one of the most challenging times of year to conduct a social experiment that actually cuts me off from those that I care about.

Halloween was the first real challenge. Not being able to see my friends and my friends children all decked out in their cute and goofy costumes pulled at my emotional strings. Fortunately I was able to have them text me pictures of themselves and their wee 'lil ones.

I went on vacation in early November, that was a small challenge. It was a little easier to face because really all I would've been doing is posting pics of my brother and I on a beach while our friends were busy working away. However, I like to think that close friends wouldn't have seen that as rubbing it in, close friends are interested in your good time, at least I am interested in theirs.

I celebrated a birthday while on vacation. This was a truly eye-opening event in my Facebook experiment. Now, anybody who's on Facebook should immediately know where I'm going with this. When you're on Facebook you look forward to your birthday and all of the wall posts from your friends. Friends who've never commented or "liked" anything of yours for the past 12 months come out of the wood works to write on your wall and wish you a happy birthday; and it feels warm and fuzzy. On this particular birthday, all but three of my close friends completely forgot about me. In fact, I received a call from my parents and two close friends, received a text from one close friend and received two birthday tweets; all of which gave me warm and fuzzy's. I have to admit that I did miss the plethora of wall posts. When I playfully called out my close knit college friends (all guys), the response I received, "dude, you're not on Facebook anymore I didn't have my reminder. Sorry bro". Totally understandable, actually. Just to be clear, I wasn't butt-hurt, just an interesting piece of Facebook. I would have to say, if anything, this is a case to be on Facebook.

Next up, Thanksgiving week. I went away to Tahoe with my parents for Thanksgiving; a tradition that we've upheld for about five years now. I love Tahoe. An interesting thing happened while up in Tahoe this week. My cell phone reception was non-existent. In fact, the signal was barely strong enough to let a few text messages go through on Thanksgiving day. Thankfully the cabin we rented was equipped with WiFi (an absolute must for me as my work is dependent on an internet connection). But not having cell phone reception while being in isolation can be taxing on a social individual such as myself. I was fine for the first few days. As the week drew on I noticed that I began to crave social interaction. I haven't talked to anybody outside of my parents for going on seven days now. Don't get me wrong, I love talking to my parents, but I am seriously craving some friendly conversation right about now. I would definitely diagnose myself with cabin fever. I feel a bit disconnected, unsocialized, and dare I say, ready to get back to the bay, back to home, and back to normalcy. I do believe that if I was on Facebook right now, these feelings would be at the very least, less intense. Facebook is good for connecting people; that's what it was created for, right? Another case to be on Facebook.

I have to admit that my Twitter activity has increased exponentially. Am I simply using Twitter to fill in for Facebook? Am I choosing the lesser of two evils? Do I even believe the two are evil? No, I don't. The two are completely different social networking tools in my mind, however they both keep you connected in their own ways. Maybe it's my way of trying to feel connected while being disconnected in the mountains. If I were to take a guess, yes. I am indeed doing what I can with my social networks to feel connected to the world outside of this cabin. And since I am no longer on Facebook, Twitter is assuming the role. I'm not sure how much longer my Facebook experiment will last. On one end it's been refreshing and on the other end its been a bit depressing. Pretty much all of my closest friends are on Facebook and I've essentially cut myself off from them. What's particularly interesting to me is that almost none of my friends are on Twitter. So the reality of it is, I'm connecting to relative strangers while on Twitter; and I'm cool with that. I just don't want to loose the connections with those I'm closest to. Maybe I'm being hard-headed, after all I'm half Sicilian, but I'm just not ready to give up on my experiment yet, there are more challenges ahead: Xmas & New Years.

Anyone reading? What do you think? Should I bail on my experiment and succumb to all that is Facebook, or should I keep going strong, challenging myself to create new and stronger connections without social networks?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Have YOUR Day

Back from my hiatus, feeling clear and refreshed, like a new man! I unplugged from the "real world" for a while and I'm feeling the benefits. I have to say that I hit the bottom a few weeks back (see 10/30 post). An experience completely new to me, but an experience that definitely made me a stronger person. It's amazing the "bounce" you get once you've pulled yourself out of the doldrums. Now back to living, back to life as I want to know it, back to manifesting my future the way I want it.

There is so much information out there regarding life and living, creating plans, manifesting, what it takes to be successful, etc. I'm sure we've all been asked about our "five year plan". But do we need a five year plan? Can we really anticipate what challenges and obstacles we're going to face over the next five years? Looking back at my last five years, I'd have to say "no". I'm not suggesting that planning a future is a bad thing, but I do believe there is a lot of pressure on people today to have things "figured out". Five years ago I probably did have things figured out. Did it mimic the reality of my life five years later? Not even close. Light years apart actually. There is just no way to anticipate what the universe will throw at you. Plan all you want, just be sure to build in some flexibility and anticipation of the unknown.

I've started practicing my own philosophy on planning and manifesting, I call it "have YOUR day!" While I'm sure it's nothing new, I'm running with it and it seems to be working for me. I've actually been practicing this philosophy off and on for about four years, but only recently have I really been disciplined in my practice. It's a simple philosophy really; I consider it a hybrid of some self-help books that I've read. The two most influential books I've read to create my hybrid philosophy are "The Secret" and "Attitude is Everything" . Very simple concepts, you attract what you think about and you only have control over one thing in life, your attitude. Obviously both books go deeper on their philosophies, but at the very basic level, still a profound way of thinking.

In late 2008 I was laid off from a 5 year job and 10 year career. It was the beginning of the "Great Recession" and most "normal" people would've probably freaked out; which I did, for a moment. This was not a part of my plan. I had no contingencies lined up. I was under the false belief that I would retire with this company. What the hell was I thinking? I attribute this type of thinking to the fact that I am a child of Baby Boomers and the thinking of my parents' generation was "go to college, get a good job, stay there for 30 years and retire". But what happens when things don't go as planned? I was lost for a while, not knowing what I wanted to do with myself. One thing I did know, I did not want to go back into the only career I had known. I had accomplished everything I set out to accomplish in that space and was miserable. Being laid off ended up being a blessing in disguise. This is when I discovered the power of manifestation. I had read the books, taken bits and pieces from each of them and started to implement them into my life. I began by being very aware of my thoughts, actions, and attitude. I woke up every morning being thankful for what I had and thankful for where I was heading (although admittedly, I wasn't quite sure where I was heading). Once I finally figured out my new career direction, I had to put it out into the universe, I had to attract what I was thinking about. However, I didn't just create a vision board, put myself and my new career on it and think about it. I had to take conscious actions which supported my visions and thoughts. Long story short (I'm thinking about writing a fuller version of my story later on), in a matter of only two years I had completely changed careers and am currently in the fourth year of my career transformation. I have to say, this stuff works.

Recently I found myself with another life challenge. This prompted me to revisit what I went through in 2008 and how I overcame those challenges. I now start and end every day, having my day. It's a method of manifesting and planning in smaller chunks. I have an idea of where I want to go, but instead of mapping it out with a five year plan, I keep my eye on the prize one day at a time. Before I go to bed I reflect on what I want the next day to be and I tell myself to "have YOUR day". I visualize my entire day, from waking up smiling and feeling good, to completing work tasks, and even what I'm going to do for dinner. In the morning I remind myself of the "day" I created in my mind the previous night. It's amazing to me how effortlessly I can get through my days in this way. At the end of my day I reflect on the day I had and begin to manifest my tomorrow. Taking bite sized chunks allows me to be flexible when the unknown hits. If something comes up, it doesn't rattle my whole plan, it may just rattle my day. Who knows where I'll be in five years? I don't. I do know that each and every day between now and then, I'm taking steps. I'm more comfortable now than ever with not having things figured out. It's quite liberating. Just continue to have YOUR day! Stay in the present, go easy on yourself, be aware of your attitude, your thoughts, and your actions.

You can put a vacation on your vision board all you want. But if you're just staring at it and thinking about it, are you ever really going to go on that vacation? Take action. Like the great Henry Winkler said in Waterboy, "visualize and attack!".

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's In a Week?

Yesterday marked my first complete week without Facebook. It also marked my first week as a novice blogger. For those of you (none) who actually read my last blog post, you can also probably guess that I’m working through some shtuff right now.

I initially started this blog to document my leaving Facebook experiment. If I’m being really honest with myself, my choice to leave Facebook may have been driven, at least partially, by the shtuff I’m working through. As the week went on and I gave more thought to my new found hobby; I realized that I actually really like writing as an outlet. While I may not be quite “good” at it, it’s fun to toss around random ideas and concepts to write about while daydreaming about the possibilities of what my blog can become. This much I know: My writing along with this blog will certainly evolve as I do; and that’s something I can be excited about and am actually looking forward to. I’ll play around with the ‘design’ of the blog and perhaps add some topic menus, who knows? The sky is the limit! Right now I’m just letting things flow and am opening myself up to the universe and things around me while I toy with new interests. In the future I’ll probably shift my attention to life & leisure, food & drink, health & fitness, learning & development, humor, and of course random nonsense.
Facebook Update

I have to admit, it’s getting a lot easier to not be on Facebook. I think about the hours I would’ve spent browsing my feed instead of engaging in other more creative outlets, like this blog. To some extent, I feel like my mind is opening up and a more creative, curious, and borderline intellectual is trying to emerge. Have I been stunting my own development? I’m not ready to claim that yet, but it is definitely something I’ll be paying close attention to as my time away progresses.

It hasn’t always been easy; there were moments when I really wanted to get back online to see what was happening “out there.” Halloween in particular got my Facebook itch going. To not be able to see the ridiculous adults and the cute-as-all-hell kids was a challenge. After all, that’s one of the best benefits of Facebook to me, the pictures capturing life in action. I resisted. Instead I sent text messages to my friends with little ones. I’m an “uncle” eight times over and had to see what my lil nieces and nephews were dressed like. They did look damn cute. I did feel like I was “missing out” a little bit. I don’t have a set time that I want to stay away from Facebook, but I’m certainly not ready to give in yet. I think I’ll create a minimum time and go from there. How about through the rest of the year, minimum? I think I can do that. I’ll reassess on 2013.
More Creative Outlets Ahead

Besides leaving Facebook, I’ve also significantly cut back on my television time. This wasn’t a conscious decision; it’s just something that happened organically. I find myself only watching TV in the wee hours before bedtime. Sometimes I’ll just have it on as background noise while I do other things and other times I’ll veg out to some of my favorite low-brow comedies while heading off to see the sandman. What to do with all of this extra time? (Well, between work and finishing up my Master’s program there may not be that much time, but it feels like it all of a sudden).  On to another creative outlet for me! I’ve decided to start a photo journal for the month of November. Is a photo journal a thing? I don’t know, but it sounds right for what I’m going to be doing. I’ll be snapping pictures everyday in November, at least five a day, and creating a music video montage of my favorite photos for each day of the month. I began yesterday and have to admit, it was a lot of fun. In one day I was at the headquarters of the company I work for, the Oakland Raiders headquarters, and the Yahoo! headquarters. Quite a day and I captured it all in one way or another. I’m really looking forward to the finished product as I know I have quite a bit in store for this month. Keep an eye out in early December!
Well thanks for reading, whoever you are. I’m on a trip and you’re passengers. Get ready for an evolution!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pain is Temporary...Right?

As I laid on my couch in the fetal position, I couldn’t help but wonder “When will this pain go away?”

I’ve never considered myself much of a tough guy: I am scared to death of bee stings, being pinched is one of the worst pains I’ve ever experienced, and when I was a younger more fearless type, I was never one to engage in fights or other violence that could potentially hurt me. On the other hand, maybe it’s simply the perception of certain pains that I’m afraid of. After all, I can anticipate the sting of a bee, the burn of a pinch, or the crunch of my nose as someone’s fist makes contact to my less than hard to locate proboscis. I can also anticipate the pain of getting a tattoo, which undoubtedly hurts far more, and for a much longer time, than either of the previously mentioned pains. But the pain of a tattoo has never steered me away from getting one. In fact, sometimes when I’ve gotten tattoos, I’ve gotten them because of the pain. Not necessarily because of the pain that receiving a tattoo causes, but because of the pain I’m experiencing at that point in my life.
People get tattoos for various reasons, and being someone with tattoos, I’m often asked “what does that mean?” or “what does that stand for?” While I prefer to keep the meaning of my tattoos to myself, I’ll share a bit about my philosophy.  My tattoos are primarily life event tattoos. I can remember, quite specifically, what was happening in my life when I received each of my tattoos (even my first, which goes back over 18 years). The one common denominator that my tattoos have, outside of a specific period in my life, is trust. After all, if you’re going to allow someone to drill permanent ink into your skin, you’re going to need some degree of trust right? But I’m not necessarily speaking about trust in the artist (that’s there to a certain extent). I’m talking about trust in the universe.

We all know the saying “shit happens”? (If not check here for a refresher). Well “it” certainly does; usually when we least expect it. The approach I take when “it” happens? Trust.
I’m not necessarily an “everything happens for a reason” guy, in the sense that the universe has a grand plan for everyone.  I believe that everything does happen for a reason; and that reason can usually be tracked to actions and consequences of those actions, either by you or someone else. So when “it” does happen, you’ve just got to trust that things will get better and begin to take the actions which support that.
About three months ago I got a new tattoo; I was looking forward to the pain. I anticipated the pain from the tattoo; it was as I remembered. The pain from my tattoo has long disappeared…but there was no anticipating this pain…I trust this too shall pass.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Diagnosis - FOMO?

I had lunch with a couple of friends on Friday afternoon; one of them, having read my blog (caused by my guilt trip no doubt), laughed and said "dude, you have FOMO."
"What the hell is FOMO?" I replied.
"It's the Fear of Missing Out. It's like a Dr. Phil thing or something" he said.

Obviously given my new little Facebook experiment I had to do some research on this FOMO business. Now, I'm sure I'm late to the party with this (given the amount of articles, blogs, etc. that I was able to locate), so I won't get into the nitty gritty details of what FOMO is, outside of the self-explanatory acronym. If you want to research a bit more about the the condition, there's a great article here. Oh and for the record, I didn't find any Dr. Phil FOMO info. Screw that guy anyways.

Fear of Missing Out? What on earth could I be fearful of missing out on? I thought about my Facebookoholism. What types of behavior did I exhibit while on Facebook? I was certainly an active user; it's safe to say that I posted status updates or photos at a minimum clip of five times a week. However my "checking" Facebook behavior was far more frequent, into the five times an hour arena, if not more. At first thought, it's pretty easy to assume that I had FOMO. After all, doctors nowadays pretty much tune you out after the first couple of symptoms and diagnose you regardless of what comes next. My initial self-diagnosis is FOMO.

FOMO, according to the articles I found, is social media related, it is not Facebook specific. This prompted more thought; I'm not cutting off social media, do I need to? Am I just putting off the inevitable? Is something else going to be my new Facebook? Will I now reach for my phone in the morning to check something else? From a social media standpoint, I use the following: Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. I also use some very cool apps that link them all together. I would have to say that if anything fulfills my FOMO, it would have to be Twitter. Twitter, to me, is real-time information that tells me what's going on right now. Through those that I follow, I'm certain not to miss out on anything that I care about. So if it is FOMO that I'm suffering from, I'm still going to suffer as long as I'm viewing my Twitter feed. For this reason, I'm claiming my Facebook experiment is not caused by FOMO - diagnosis debunked.

For me it started off as wanting deeper connections; this was about me and the people that I have in my life. Is there the possibility that I miss out on something that someone I care about is doing by not being on Facebook? Absolutely. Is that a risk I'm willing to take? Absolutely.

The other day I called one of my friends:

"Hello" she said.
"Hey what's up?" I asked.
"Oh nothing, I'm just sitting in a chair getting my nails done. I'm having a girls day to myself...didn't you....Oh that's right you're not on Facebook anymore" she replied.

Didn't see it on Facebook, didn't miss out. Had a great little conversation with a friend and found out what she was up to the old fashioned way.

I spoke to another friend the day after I had attended a Halloween party:

"How was the party?" she asked
"It was fun, they did a nice job" I replied
"I saw that picture, that was a funny costume" she said
"What picture?" I asked
"Oh yeah. It was posted on Facebook so you didn't see it" she answered.

I guess even when I'm not on Facebook, I'm on Facebook. Only this time, there was no fear of missing out, I was living it. And not once did I feel the need to update my status, post a picture, or otherwise.

This is getting easier.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Facebook Anonymous - Day 2

I've noticed the withdrawal symptoms immediately.

Not more than three hours after the plunge I found myself reaching for my iPhone or iPad with no intention other than to press the glowing blue icon with the familiar "f" emblazoned on it; it was automatic. The icon wasn't even there. I had deleted it on all my devices (step number 2 after deactivation is to remove all remaining Facebook stimuli and reference). My brain, so used to the shot of excitement and my physical body, so used to the muscle responses, have clearly adopted a habit. Mind you, this didn't happen once, this happened on four occasions in the first four hours of disconnect! "What the hell am I doing?" I would ask myself after each failed attempt.

Obviously it was going to be important for me to invest my energy into something else. Simply cutting off my Facebook world wouldn't suffice. By following that approach I would undoubtedly develop some sort of twitch and inevitably fail my mission with a relapse of epic sorts. Besides, then I would have to go crawling back with my tail between my legs. After all, some of the final comments I received when creating my next to last Facebook post were along the lines of "see you soon", "you'll miss us", and the ever loving "get lost eh." I couldn't succumb to that fate, not now, not so soon. I'm sure I'll be back some day, just not today.

What would I do with all that extra time I had just discovered? You're reading it. Well, nobody is reading it yet, but maybe someone will stumble across this and find it semi-interesting. If not, I don't care. This is a new outlet for me and I'm going to give it a run. Of course blogging is soooo yesterday, hell, it may not even be yesterday, do people still blog? So here it is, my second ever blog post. I won't always write about my Facebookoholism, but right now that's my flavor of the month.

15 hours down. Yep, not even 24 hours yet. This morning when I woke up the mental and physical habit took over again...I reached for my phone with only one intention....I can't wait to break it.