Day Twenty Nine: Scars

Daily Journal

Yesterday was very productive. The kids completed the tasks on their To Do list by 11:00

The latest book by Tom Hodgkinson, one of my favorite Gen X writers.

AM, and then went to the movies to see A Dog’s Purpose with my mother and sister. I took a couple of hours to catch up on three days worth of blogs I was behind on, and restored the kitchen back to a clean condition. I went through all my bills, using a bill organizer notebook I purchased for $2 at Dollar General. Remarkably, I noticed I had paid off $350 to a collection agency for debt owed to my doctor’s office for almost one year, and paid off half of what little defaulted credit card debt remained with this week’s paycheck. I ran my annual free credit report, finding 3 open accounts I still need to pay off. Surprisingly, I’m almost debt free. The problem seemed much worse than it actually was, but I’ve been so poor for the last two years that even paying off $1500 in debt seemed impossible. I finished filing my taxes yesterday too.


I downloaded two new books to my Kindle, and added to my Goodreads reading list:

I’ve been a fan of Tom Hodkinson since I first bought his book The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste at the Borders bookstore on Mill Avenue in Tempe, AZ sometime during the year 2007. I generally purchase every book he writes and Business for Bohemians is the latest one I didn’t have.

Write It Down
My advice now is to go for a long walk and think about your life. Then come home, sit down with a notebook and write down what you want to do and how you want to live. What brings you pleasure, and what brings you satisfaction? What would your ideal day look like? That is the first step.
-Chapter One: How Do You Want to Live?, Business for Bohemians by Tom Hodgkinson

My ambitions are return to a regular writing habit, keeping a blog, and writing ebooks which I put up for sale. I’d like to have some kind of part time job I don’t have, and a band that produces income and keeps my legacy and name out there. My ideal day will go like this: Wake up early in the morning. Shower. Meditation. Exercise. Breakfast. Writing or journaling. Maybe podcasting. In the afternoon, I have some kind of job I do that I don’t mind doing. In the evening, I have dinner, spend time with my family, maybe have a beer or a coffee, and read a good book. On weekends, I hike, play a gig somewhere, go on a road trip. 

This sounds like fantasy, but everything I’ve done started with goals. In 2007, it might have looked like this:

I plan to release several more albums with different acts, go on tour every winter, eventually getting a spot in a band with a bigger name, going professional. Quit my job. Maybe live part time in Kentucky, and do winters in Phoenix or Los Angeles. Write a book. My ideal day: I wake up whenever I want, work on my book in the backyard with a laptop, coffee, and pack of cigarettes. I practice on my bass or a guitar for an hour or so. I don’t have a job, and luckily I don’t need one because I make more from music than a job would pay me. In the evening, I socialize in a bar, drink as much beer as I want, and stagger home to bed. 

The reality went like this:

Three of four albums I played on came out. That would be The Earps debut and follow up called Get a Room. Back to Monkey City with Jeff Dahl. The Moonshine Millionaires EP. The idea that any of those works sold well enough to not have to work is beyond merely laughable. I moved back to Kentucky. I stopped writing blogs and failed at several attempts to write a novel. I did manage to earn $12,000 per year by playing every weekend in a country cover band, but that only lasted four years. The rest of the time I worked 40-50 hours per week at $10-$12 per hour dead end jobs. I was asked to join one of my favorite bands, Nine Pound Hammer, to the shock and awe of my old bandmates, particularly The Earps guys. I played two gigs with them, the summer Europe tour never happened and I was disappointed about that, and then the former bass player asked to rejoin the band and I was out. I did drink a lot, smoke a lot, and spend a lot of time in bars. After I turned 40, I started to think more seriously about my health. Everything fell apart when the ex ran off with a coworker, and I bottomed out completely.

I think it’s good to make a plan, and maybe follow up on it in six months, tweak it a little. I’m not sure everyone ever achieves their ideal fantasy life, but it does at least give you some direction. That’s all planning is really good for. It is remarkable how much of what you planned can be accomplished, even if those things are subject to disappointing results or Careful What You Wish For syndrome. Then there are some unplanned events and disasters. Note: Not all unplanned things are negative, but many of them can be.

Either way, we are really lucky to live in the first world, where we can pursue our dreams instead of merely pursuing our next meal and trying to avoid our own death today.

Deng Ming-Dao on Scars

Today’s entry is like Part II of yesterday’s discussion, focusing on the scars and abuse we were subjected to in the past. He says that “scars that have happened through no fault of our own may bar us from spiritual success. Unfortunately, it is often easier to give up a bad habit than to recover from these injuries, the scars mar us forever.” He goes on to say that doctors and priests can only do so much. Personally, I’ve dealt with many issues from childhood that have carried over into my adult life and helped set me up for failure, creating a lack of confidence and self worth, which I medicated with booze for about 15 years. Bullying, whippings, humiliation, and intimidation are really the only events I remember with any clarity from my childhood. At this point, not being able to change the past (yes, I can reframe the past, perhaps), I look more toward not scarring my own children and “try to acquire as few new problems as possible”. I’ve gone through psychiatry and counseling. As the author says, it only did so much. I was unsatisfied with psychiatry insistence on treating everything with drugs, and at best the results were mixed good and bad. I think Deng Ming-Dao gives good advice here that we must heal ourselves through self cultivation. Use many methods. “Travel widely”. Overcome our phobias. Do not continue living with your own toxic patterns and perpetuating more problems. If we cannot overcome each scar, they will “bar us from communion with Tao”.

The Daily Stoic: Keep it simple.

Good advice today. Don’t overthink things. Focus on what’s right in front of us. “We don’t need to get lost in a thousand other distractions or in other people’s business.”

On February 1st, I will celebrate an entire month of blog posts. I will record a podcast where I reflect on the experience of January 2017. February 1st begins a new challenge: I will spend at least 15 minutes per day doing some kind of work toward the goal of increasing my income. That can be looking around for a better job, looking for extra money gigs, updating resume, anything that might help improve my earnings for 2017.


Day Fourteen: Positioning

Yesterday, I cleaned up using the book Unfuck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman. I skimmed the beginning and while I hesitate to call it “fluff”, it was essay material. I went straight for the meat of the book.

Unlike the Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Hoffman is the proponent of “Do a Little at a Time “.

 I’m a “messy person”. The reasons for that go deep into psychology, habit, and laziness and I’m not really concerned as much about why as much as how I can fix it.

I will need to be tidier and more minimalist if I want to be more “Zen”, right?

Clean in “20/10s”, she says.20 minutes of work. 10 minute break. Repeat.Mini-challenges.

Mini-challenge #1:

Before: Absolute disarray. Nothing here actually belongs here.
After: Minimal approach. My faux leather-bound “bullet journal”, Kindle Fire w/ Bluetooth keyboard, copies of “365 Tao” and “The Tao of Pooh”.

Mini-challenge #2:

Before: Nearest flat surface. This is usually much worse. I have obvious issue with throwing things down on flat surface and not throwing trash away immediately.
After: Cleaned off. Incense holder, TV remote, “How to be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto” by Tom Hodgkinson, & two children’s books.

Kids Room Project:

Before: Just beginning to attack some clutter.
After: Not perfect, but much improved.

“One of the toughest concepts for people to wrap their heads around when it comes to housekeeping and cleaning is the fact that it’s a never-ending cycle. Cleaning, by its very nature, is never actually finished. That’s probably the most aggravating thing about it, and that’s why most people can’t stand doing it. You’re never done. How annoying is that? So we rebel against it or ignore it entirely, because why on earth would we bother doing all that work, just to have to turn around and do it all over again in a few days or next week or next month? It’s incredibly frustrating and makes the whole process seem pointless. And yeah, any task that needs to be repeated over and over really is a pain in the ass, because you never ever feel like you’re finished.” -Rachel Hoffman

Another tip I found helpful. I will put this as a Reminder on my phone and use every night before bed.


  • Wash the dishes in your sink.
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories.
  • Set up coffee/ tea/ breakfast.
  • Make your lunch.
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious.
  • Take your medication/ set out your meds for the morning.
  • Charge your electronics.
  •  Set your alarm.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Deng Ming-Dao on Positioning:

Key points:

  • Actions in life can be reduced to two factors: positioning and timing.
  • If we are not in the right place at the right time, we cannot take advantage of what life has to offer.
  • Almost anything is appropriate if an action is in accord with the time and place.
  • Even if time and place are right, we can still miss our chance if we do not notice the moment.
  • When life presents an opportunity, we must be ready to seize it. Position is useless without awareness.
  • If we have position and awareness, we make no mistakes.

The Daily Stoic: Cut the Strings that Pull Your Mind

“Understand at last that you have something in you more powerful and divine than what causes the bodily passions and pulls you like a mere puppet. What thoughts now occupy my mind? Is it not fear, suspicion, desire, or something like that?” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 12.19

Another great day from Ryan Holiday’s book. Ryan refers to “temptations and forces that distract us and pull us away from the things that truly matter.”

So, what does truly matter?

The first answer I found was provided by Gary Keller, author of “The ONE Thing’.He divides the most important things in life in 7 areas.

  • Spiritual life
  • Physical health
  • Personal Life
  • Key Relationships
  • Job
  • Business
  • Finances

That’s a pretty good list. Obviously, with Gary being something of a business guru, and my being more of a creative type, I would probably add “Creative Work” somewhere on that list.

List of my top distractions & temptations:

  • Facebook (particularly reacting and responding to provocative posts, time consuming debates, addiction to checking Facebook for new feeds and messages, etc.)
  • Smoking
  • Engaging in bickering and pointless arguments
  • Gossip
  • Eating junk food
  • Being angry at others
  • Fear

Tomorrow, we’ll cover the subject of “time”.