Stabbing Anxiety In the Face With a Soldering Iron, Part 2

Last week I discussed some of the things I do to conquer the physical aspects of anxiety. But what about the thoughts?

In order to kill bad thoughts it helps to understand the motives behind one’s thoughts. Most of my anxious thoughts stem from my severe need to be in control of all things. I am a control freak. When things are out of my control I panic. I begin to think the worst. I lose all faith and go into the selfish cocoon of anxiety.

Knowing what motivates my wrong thoughts helps in creating a strategy to defeat them.

So what do I do?

Well, I take control of the things I actually have control of. Despite my negativity, there are things I actually have some power over. Like my time, my children, and my personal space.

I make a schedule and try to stick with it, understanding that sometimes things happen that make that schedule obsolete for the moment. At the very least I follow a routine and make habits.

I work on establishing healthy boundaries with my children. Kids can be chaos incarnate, but usually only because we don’t put a foot down and make it clear what is allowed and not allowed. Discipline goes a long way towards helping calm that storm. Boundaries are important to all relationships, if there are other relationships in your life that create stress and anxiety it is likely that you need to establish some basic rules regarding it.

By personal space, I mean my house. I have control over the cleanliness and clutter of my home. Part of a good schedule and routine is taking time to organize and clean up. Visual clutter and messes are huge triggers for anxious thoughts. It took me years to figure this out, but it has made a huge difference since.

As for the things I can’t control… (which are far fewer in number than my mind will let me believe) those things get put into my prayers. Only God can control those things.

That may seem like a cop out answer, but I assure you that faith is harder than any scheduling, disciplining, or cleaning. Having faith requires catching my thoughts and correcting them. Taking every thought captive requires constantly telling myself truths to correct the lies that my mind wants to tell me. In order to do this I have to know truths, I have to study and think about truths, and I have to believe truths.

Anxiety is ultimately the antithesis of faith. Faith is ultimately the solution to anxiety.

Mid Year Review of My New Year’s Resolutions

At the beginning of the year I declared 2018 to be the “Year of Focus and Discipline.” This year was supposed to be the year when I finally got my self together and became productive. In keeping with that theme I am writing this review several weeks late.

How am I doing with my goal of more focus? As in all things it depends on what you look at. Some parts of my life are more in focus. Other parts not so much. Overall I think I am doing well.

What’s in focus?

My emotions. I am a bit more settled emotionally. I will talk about my anxiety regimine on Friday.

My blogging. I am a bit more committed to this writing thing. Despite sometimes feeling low on ideas, I have managed to keep up with my posting far more regularly than last year. I have made writing a priority and I have managed to stick with it.

My confidence. In writing, in painting, even in my sloppy guitar playing.

My finances. Even though we still have way too much debt and things are super tight, for the first time in my adult life I actually have some clue about where our money is and where it is going (for the ten minutes from deposit to going right back out).

My listening. I think I have gotten better at listening before I speak. My wife may not agree. I’ll have to ask, and then listen to her answer. Likewise I think I am doing better at responding rather than reacting.

What is yet to be focused?

My time management is still terrible. While I have developed some habits it is still difficult to keep track of my hours and days.

My anxiety still gets the best of me at times.

I still flounder a bit at taking care of myself. I do healthy things for awhile and then stop. Then I get bad at helping others because I am so wrecked myself.

Let’s hope the second half of this year is a bit more focused and that I can conquer those things I’m still weak in.

How’s everyone else doing on their New Year’s Resolutions? Do you even remember them? Let me know in the comments!

If you like my paintings/photography/blogs, please follow me!

And don’t forget to check out my Steemit page.
And many of my images are available as prints on my Artpal page @ https://www.artpal.com/driptorchstudio

Niche Markets Are Such a Bore

Because I can…

I read a post the other week which purported to tell the reader how to be a super successful blogger. I may or may not be a super successful blogger, I am not entirely positive how to judge such a thing. This person’s advice was to pick a niche and stick with it. Not a narrow niche mind you. But a niche just the same.

To me however, a niche is narrow by definition. A niche boxes you into a corner and tells you that when you just aren’t in the mood to write about the same topic “too bad, your audience wants consistency.”

Consistency is the key to success when it comes to blogging, so they say. Write every post about cooking or travel and you will get 10,000 followers. Write frou frou sentimental platitudes and people will read you every day. I agree with these assertions. I have seen them in action. The most successful bloggers are the ones who day in and day out write about the same crap ad nauseum.

Personally though, I couldn’t care less about a niche. To me, variety is the spice of life. If I bore you one day with history I may interest you the next with money making tips. One day you might snooze at my art opinions but after a few posts you might just fall in love with my frou frou sentimentality.

Why limit yourself to one topic, fellow bloggers? Why put yourself into a box of predictability? Does your niche really gain you a lot of satisfaction? Or are you writing just for the paycheck? Is writing for a paycheck allowing you to do what you love or have you given up what you love just for the paycheck?

The author made a point about goals. He said you can’t attain goals without consistency. Do you make it a goal to stay passionate about your niche? What happens when you lose that passion? Is your goal to have a million fans or is it to do what you’re passionate about? I realize those are not mutually exclusive, but I feel for some people, passion about a subject doesn’t necessarily draw a crowd. Maybe they have a waning passion, maybe the subject at hand is frankly boring.

Someone has to write the boring stuff. Someone has to write about the not-so-popular subjects. Someone has to write about history, or make suggestions about music, or long treatises about government, interspersed with sappy love stuff and poetry. We can’t all write about amazing foods we have tried in far off exotic places. Some of us just like to write randomly about whatever we want.

And some of us consider that ability to be a success.

Inky Blackness

I’m sorry, is my negativity showing?

Sometimes I lie awake in inky blackness, wondering why I can’t seem to get it right.

Which buttons do I push to get this whole thing to work?

How much do I have to grope around in the night?

Sometimes I wish I was an optimist.

And not just a long term optimist, but one who knows today is OK.

I want to be the optimist who knows he won’t forever be swallowed by a suffocating and inky blackness.

That’s not too much to ask, is it? That’s not a tall order once you are done tackling your anxiety.

Once you kill the thought that everything is not OK. Once you put to death the belief that your needs will not be met.

When those wicked thoughts are in their graves, then comes the optimism, right?

I am optimistically hoping so.

Music and Art Monday, June 11th 2018: Evolution

Sometimes I am a bit hard on myself. OK, much of the time I am a bit hard on myself. This goes for all things performance related. Life is performance based. We all strive to perform the best we can, at whatever we do, and sometimes we tend to beat ourselves up if our performance does not match our expectations.

Some things are easier to compare than others. If we are lifting weights we can see progress from lighter weight to heavier weight. If we are running we can watch our mile times shrink. Other things aren’t so tangible. Some things are so gradual that we hardly notice the change at all.

Painting is one such thing. Skill growth is so gradual that you won’t see changes over a short span of time. But if you look back you will see drastic differences.

Nicole, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Nicole, Oil on Canvas, 2018

Or you may see no difference at all..

After the Bath, Acrylic on Paper, 2014. My first painting.
The Room, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes you just have a change of perspective.

Fine Cigars, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Fine Cigars Revisit, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes your details get sharper.

Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, January 2014
Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, June 2014

Frequently you change the way you see yourself.

Self Portrait, Acrylic on Paper, 2014
Self Imposed, Acrylic on Paper, 2016

The evolution of our abilities isn’t always linear or perfect. We ebb and flow in our talents. Sometimes we meet our own expectations, sometimes we fall short. But we should always keep going…

The Beautiful Life

“Expedition Happiness” Watch on Netflix. Or don’t.

Sometimes when I read blogs or watch documentaries all I can think is “How do these hipsters make it look so easy?”

I don’t know what kind of world these people live in, they are always young, always attractive, frequently childless, and always seem to have an endless stream of money. They seem more like fictional characters than real people. You have to wonder what they do for a living, are they ever stressed? Do they get bored? Do they fight? Where is the ugly in their life?

Sure, sometimes the bus breaks down, the visa gets denied, or the cake in the oven falls. But these people always seem to handle it with a smile. Or at the very least they look gorgeous while crying.

Well, that ain’t my life.

I get sick. Nothing productive happens for days at a stretch. My kids make giant messes, animals get into my trash, my trailer sometimes smells like something died in it.

People thrive on positive. We love comedy and run from tragedy. We live vicariously through these adventurers and beautiful hipsters. We don’t like our conventional lives, so we read about theirs and forget our problems for a bit.

But who’s to say your conventional life is ugly? Who’s to say you aren’t living a beautiful life, even if it isn’t quite the adventure these people seem to have? Life is a gift, even with its warts and wrinkles. Life is beautiful even with the sickness and the smells.

You don’t have to read blogs or watch fru-fru documentaries (both of which I do. Too much.) to enjoy a beautiful life. All you have to do is start enjoying yours.

Making Money Like a Millennial: Steemit

Old and new logos. I prefer the old.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for me to pick up the series again. I have decided to start the new year off with my favorite way to Make Money Like a Millennial: Steemit.

This may end up being split up over a couple of posts since it is such a big topic.

What it is:

In short, Steemit is a platform which pays you to create blog posts and other materials.

It’s actually much more than that. Steemit is a social network platform designed to reward posters with a cryptocurrency known as “Steem” and “Steem Backed Dollars” (SBD).

I’ve heard it compared to Reddit or Facebook, but it really is its own unique format. It is similar to Reddit in that comment sections can get quite long and in that posts are almost infinite in subject matter. There are upvotes and downvotes also.

It’s similar to Facebook in that there are… actually no. I’m not sure why it is ever compared to Facebook. It’s pretty much Reddit, but with actual rewards for your upvotes.

Steemit1
My Feed page, which contains posts mainly from those who I follow.

How to get started:

Very simple, go here and choose a user name, give them an email address and a phone number, enter the verification code, wait for a confirmation email, sign in and you are on your way!

steemit2
My Blog page, you can see the upvotes and amount of SBD for each post.

The best way to start your Steemit career is to post an introduction post about yourself. Basically just tell us your niche in the Steemit world. Do you write about cryptocurrencies? Do you blog about politics, love, marriage? Are you a photographer? Painter? Tell us about yourself!

What do you do

General experience:

Steemit is definitely a learning curve. The platform itself is relatively easy to use, but the finer details for success take time to learn. You won’t get rich quick by any means with this.

Overall I have enjoyed the experience. I like blogging anyway, so Steemit just adds to my experience.

How much money are we talking here?

I didn’t know a lick about crypto currency when I started and I didn’t bother to look into it for almost a year. Knowing how to trade your Steem and SBD for other currencies is key to success with Steemit.

At first you won’t make much at all. Your upvote will only be worth about $0.01 SBD and you won’t be out there in front of a lot of people. As you gain followers, get more upvotes, and upvote stuff yourself you will gradually watch your wallet grow.

My Steem wallet is currently worth about $3,000 US. Most of this is locked up in Steem Power, which is not easily converted. In the past four months or so, I have moved about $500 off of Steemit into other currencies. So, at my pace (admittedly slow, I was off Steemit for about 3 months) you can make about $3,500 a year.

I have seen some folks who have been on only a few months who already have twice as much. It depends largely on your content and how many whales you attract.

Also, just like any crypto you are able to invest your own money into Steemit. If you choose to do this your votes will be worth more and you will earn money quicker.

General tips:

Where to start? I may make a second post to give you all the tips, there are loads of them.

But for now I’ll give you these:

Stick with it! Persistence is key for most things in life, and Steemit is no exception. Post every day, even if it’s just a photo of something cool you saw the day before.

Comment and upvote, carefully. Don’t just scroll through your feed and ignore everything. Don’t scroll through and upvote everything either. Vote for only the stuff you think is really good. In the beginning you won’t have a lot of voting power, so use it wisely. And please, comment! A great comment can get you a new follower or two. And since it counts as a post and can be upvoted, a great comment can make you money.

Don’t follow everyone! Like upvotes, you should only follow people you think will post good stuff. Otherwise you will end up with a feed cluttered with crap. No one likes crap. It’s good to have 500 followers, it’s not so good to be following 500. Which reminds me, I need to go purge the rolls a bit.

Bottom line:

Steemit is a great platform to post blogs, photos, artwork, and just about anything else you can think of. With some persistence you can make a good amount of money. So definitely try it out.

And when you do, follow me. I don’t post crap! 🙂

This Year’s Resolutions

The Track of Time?

I’m a little late this year in getting some resolutions out there. Last year I did “Birthday Resolutions” instead of New Years. This year I guess I am too late for Birthday Resolutions, so they will have to be New Years instead!

But first, I want to examine how well I did on last years:

“My biggest resolution this year is to learn contentment.” 

To be honest, I am probably about as content as I have ever been. I am exactly where God has me, and that is never a bad place to be. I have learned to accept every day as it comes for the most part. Anxiety still keeps me from doing this perfectly, but it is a bit easier every day

“For as long as I can remember my focus has been on the negatives of life. I have always seen all of the wrongs and never the rights. I apologize for enjoying anything and feel like I should be ashamed of good feelings. I push down all the good and instead focus on all of the “shoulds” of life. Far too often my response to a blessing is “This should be____” or “I wish this was more____”.” 

This pretty much sums up the definition of anxiety for me. I always assumed that I was just cursed to be a pessimist, but it was so much more serious than that. Thankfully this past year I was able to truly identify the problem and have been working towards fixing it. 

“This year I want to learn how to enjoy my blessings and be content with all that God has given me.” 

See above. 

“I resolve to play with my children more.” Still nowhere near as much as I would like. Exhaustion and busyness tend to get in the way of this. 

“I resolve to love my wife more passionately and with more abandon.” Again, improving but definitely not where I want to be.

“I resolve to take every day as a gift and work to glorify God in each one.” 

There have been whole weeks this past year where I blinked and it seemed the week was gone. This definitely demonstrates that I am not taking my days one at a time and making the best of them. 

“I resolve to live life according to what is, and not according to what I wish it was. I resolve not to take for granted my work, my talents, my family, my friends, or my days here on Earth. I intend to stop saying “I’m sorry” when I enjoy my blessings and instead say “thank you.”” 

I think all of those are good forever resolutions. I would be lying to say that I have vastly improved on any of them, though I feel all have been improved. Sanctification is a slow process. I do say Thank You quite a bit more than I used to. 

So how about 2018? What do I want to work on this year?

Well, in addition to continuing work on all of the above, this year is the year of focus and discipline. 

Focus because anxiety has wracked my brain to the point that it no longer stays on target very well. I get very distracted from simple things like cleaning up a mess or writing a blog post (seriously, I just spent ten minutes looking at the proper use of “wrack” VS “rack” even though I was confident in my usage. Then I went and check my Steemit blog to see if I got any upvotes. It’s bad…)

Discipline because it is very closely tied to focus. Focus is part biology, part discipline. One can have discipline without focus, but one definitely cannot have focus without discipline. I want to be more clear about my purpose. I want to determine priorities and stick to them. There are things in my life that should be givens but are not. I intend to make these things absolutely critical and shape my life around them, not let my life dictate whether or not I get to them. These types of wants take discipline to achieve.

This year will also be the year of listening before I speak. No. Actually listening. Not just thinking about my response the whole time the person blabbers on. No matter how much they blabber on. It’s hard, but I know I can do it. 

Likewise, I want to work on responding instead of reacting. Too often I get triggered and blow up. Or I sweep the feelings of others under a rug before they can fully express them. This is largely because I don’t want to have have feelings myself. It’s another offshoot of anxiety.

Seems like I blame anxiety a lot eh? Anxiety doesn’t make me do anything. I am still responsible for my actions stemming from it. But identifying the weakness and the sin spurring my actions has been immeasurably helpful in getting those sins killed in my life. So if you think you may have genuine anxiety, get help, you’ll be glad you did! 

Anywho. I’ll keep it simple with those. We’ll just assume that I intend to eat right and exercise (isn’t that the normal resolution?).

What are some of your resolutions? Comment below if you have any interesting ones. 

Making Money Like a Millennial: Miscellaneous Tips

Since my next few installments of this series are going to require some research I have decided to put them off until next year. Thankfully for you next year is next month…

For now, here are some miscellaneous tips that I may have missed in my first four:

Unemployment:

In New Mexico, one can make up to 20% of their unemployment in other money before it affects your unemployment. As in, you can make up to $85 driving Uber before they reduce your $425 unemployment check. 

Arizona deducts dollar for dollar. I don’t know about other states, check with your local office for information. 

Uber and Lyft:

Get used to many many smells. Between the food you pick up for deliveries and the potheads who obviously don’t realize how much that stench sticks, you are going to smell many unusual and strong smells. You may want to keep an odor neutralizer around for the lingering ones.

And that one. And that one…

Which brings me to my next point. If you should happen to be able to tell that your passenger is enebriated, drive extra carefully. You wouldn’t want them to create an extra long-lingering smell for you in your back seat. I have heard there is a substantial clean up fee that Uber will charge for this, but who wants the hassle to begin with?

Uber:

It looks like they have finally added a feature like the one Lyft has which allows you to go online from any screen. But I haven’t been able to figure it out. So I would stick to the plan as outlined in my previous post.

Pizza:

Take a pen. Two pens if you can. 

Wear a shirt with two pockets. One is to hold your wad of twenty ones (for change) and one is to put your tips. Pants pockets tend to get a bit more sweaty, particularly if you are running everywhere you go. 

Which you should. Not only is it good exercise, it shaves off precious seconds. 

Keep ten each of quarters, dimes, and nickels. And twenty pennies. This gives you plenty of change to give exact change. And if you dig enough your costumers often get impatient and say “nah, just keep it”. 

Keep it in a coin purse. There is nothing more annoying than dealing with loose change at the metal detector in the courthouse or town hall. Which reminds me… 

This is a deadly weapon… Leave it in your car.

Any sharp objects, including can openers, should be left in your vehicle. A lot of security guards are jerks that won’t hold something for you even if they can watch you walk in, deliver, and walk out. 

Don’t worry too much about non-tippers, eventually you figure out that most non-tippers are balanced out by good tippers. Two good tips can completely erase a non-tip. Besides, getting grumpy just makes you sloppy, and being sloppy is a great way to guarantee non-tips.

I hope these are helpful, keep checking back for more installments. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, please do. 

And if you have any tips or suggestions of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

Love Your Wife: Love Yourself

Simpson Selfie
Sometimes I see myself as a Simpson, apparently…

From stay-at-home moms being called bad moms for wanting an hour to themselves, to husbands and fathers who just want some time away in their “mancaves” being called irresponsible, self-care gets a bad rap.

In blogs and books and sermons, folks are told that they should give up everything and give themselves to everyone else’s needs far above their own. People are beaten to death with the line that true happiness is only found in complete and utter self-denial.

But the Bible implies something very different, especially to husbands, in Ephesians 5:28-30:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

In order for a man to properly love his wife, he must first love himself.

But… This is not the selfish, narcissistic, self serving “love” that many men demonstrate through cruelty, waste, disrespect, slovenliness, and misplaced passions.

The self-love spoken of in these verses is informed by a proper perspective of self. The man who practices this self-love is enlightened by Gods own view of him. This man sees himself as God sees him, frail and sinful, fallen and weak, but loved, saved by grace, imperfect, but being sanctified daily and made more holy. God is pleased to see us as image bearers reflecting His glory back to Him. Instead of wretches clothed in rags He is pleased to see us in the robes of His Son.

A man who loves himself will care for himself, he will take pride in himself. He will understand that his value and loveliness is not in his success, his wealth, his looks, or his health, but simply in his createdness. Only when he understands this will he be able to take care of those things. When he properly loves himself he will be able to properly love those things and care for them.

And when he cares for those things he can care for his wife. Only when he cares for himself will be able to care for her. When he takes care of his health he is able to care for her. When he tends to his wealth he is able to care for her. When he is successful in any number of other areas, he will be able to care for her.

A man who eats too much, sits too long, and invests far too much time in pursuit of wealth and “security” is not a man who is able to care well for his wife. A man who hates himself and takes no pride in the fruits of his labors is most often married to a miserable woman.

Christ cared for Himself, He took time away from the crowds, the disciples, and from healing. He knew enough to rest, because His humanity was frail like ours. By taking the time to care for Himself, Christ was better able to care for His bride, the church.

About a week ago I was forcefully informed that my self-hatred was killing my marriage. My life to some degree has been falling apart because I have been refusing to take pride in my own life and worth, and refusing to care for my responsibilities (because what’s the point?). Even what I learned back in February seemed to be going by the wayside.

I tried to take care of everyone, tried to make everyone else better, but neglected myself.  I shut myself down, never expressing feelings thoughts or emotions. I never had an opinion that didn’t agree with someone else.

I became a nothing. And my wife despised it.

She wants a man who loves himself, who takes charge of himself, who disciplines himself, who prioritizes himself. She wants a man with a voice, opinions, thoughts, challenges to her daily life. not a lump of flesh. Certainly not the weak-willed mumble I was quickly becoming.

I am learning, slowly, to love myself. I’m figuring out how to to do the things I want, to make time for me, to refresh my soul and take care of my body. I’m making sure to take care of my appearance as well, as this is important.

And for the first time in my life I’m learning to take some pride in what I do, instead of loathing the silence from critics or friends, I’m taking it as a sign to improve and keep striving. Eventually I’ll get someone’s attention. At least I’ll know my capabilities.

It’s refreshing and terrifying all at the same time.