Day Forty One: Resolution

Daily Journal:

seneca

“Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.” – Seneca

There isn’t much to report today. I bought a copy of The Art of Living by Bob Proctor as both Kindle and audiobook and listened to some of that while working today. I’m going on two weeks without a cigarette, reaching the unsexy stage where the lungs begin to  clean themselves of the damage from smoking: The Coughing Up Mucus Stage. Lovely.

 

In disappointing news, some goals just haven’t been working out lately. I haven’t written anything as a book draft, only went running once this week, and haven’t spend a few minutes each day looking for work. The honest truth is I’m maxed out. I’ve working 10 hours per day, 5 days a week. I’m getting up at 4:30AM. That is giving me enough time to shower, eat breakfast, and write a blog. Then it’s off to work. I go hiking after work on Tuesday nights and Thursdays are group meditations. I have kids during the weekends. No matter what, the blog gets written every day and I go hiking once per week. The rest I’m just going to keep the goals, and do those things when I have free time, and keep trying to make time for them.

Deng Ming-Dao on Resolution:

Today was a good entry for me. I’m being completely honest in this blog, so I’ll come right out and say it. I have a very big issue of holding grudges for a long time. I’m not a resentful person who holds grudges, in general, but there is a certain process that works every time if you want to get me to hold on to resentment that I can neither or control or let go of for about a decade. It works like this:

  1. Do something to me that is malicious, insulting, mistreating me in some way, or taking from me.
  2. Have no remorse about doing it.
  3. Blame me for your doing it.
  4. Expect that the passing of time will make what you did okay. Expect me to “just get over it”.

Intellectually, I know that resentment and ill will, even righteous indignation, are poisons. They hurt me, not the intended target. I get that. I don’t have a problem with comprehending that idea using reason. I have a problem with letting go of negative feelings when things are left unresolved.

Deng Ming-Dao says “We often let thoughts, regrets, and doubts from past activities carry over into the present. This leads us to conflict. Instead of allowing this to happen, we should act without leaving consequences.”

Daily Stoic: Anger is Bad Fuel

Today, quoting Seneca again, who had much to say on the topic of anger, Ryan Holiday states that anger never solves anything. He mentions the successful who say anger is a powerful fuel in their lives. The desire to “prove them wrong” or “shove it in their faces” is shortsighted, Holiday says, because when the initial anger runs out, more must be generated to keep going, until eventually “the only source left is the anger at oneself”.

FYI: I am now several days behind on my blog posts. The next few blog posts will be more brief as I catch up.

B.G.

 

 

 

 

 

Day Thirty: Lovemaking

waverly

Hiking the Fresh Loop at Waverly Park.

I had my last cigarette on Friday night, and as can be expected, I’ve been eating like a pig. Many resources, including the Allen Carr book I just read, say that the nicotine withdrawal is very similar to food hunger, which causes you to eat more.

Yesterday, I decided to go for a long hike through Waverly Park in Louisville. I did the Clinic Loop and the Fresh Air Loop, for a combined 5.3 miles, according to the map here. I was originally planning to hike the paved road at Iroquois Park, and made a last minute decision to try Waverly after seeing the sign to Waverly on New Cut Road. I was hoping that maybe I would see the famous, haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium. While it was nearby during part of my hike, I wasn’t able to see the place. What was surprising were the mansions and wealthy neighborhoods hidden in this area. Although not quite a ghetto, the nearby New Cut Road does have a blue collar vibe, with all the warehouse work nearby.

chairsinwoods

Two discarded auto seats on the Fresh Air Loop at Waverly Park.

I have noticed that with quitting cigarettes, my productivity has jumped tremendously. The reason for that is you never get a cigarette break. You are also really engaged with doing the work, because you aren’t half-assing the work so you can have the next cigarette break. So this weekend, I got a lot accomplished. My home is clean, I caught up with three days worth of blogs, did some cooking for the week last night. Otherwise, my sleep is disrupted from quitting. I’m waking up in the middle of the night, waking up earlier than usual, getting tired throughout the day, and going to sleep earlier. I’m expecting this to even out in the next few weeks as nicotine leaves my body.

I’ve also fallen off the wagon with my diet. The only reason is convenience foods aren’t usually healthy foods, and being busy working overtime this past week hasn’t given me much time for cooking. I did some cooking last night and I have some healthy food for today at least. Last week, I was also waking up late every morning. This was mostly due to long hours with no days off, and evening activities and blogging to do. I stayed up late every night to do housework before bed. Another issue was caffeine after 7PM. I’m not beating myself up over this. I expect this week to be challenging as well, with overtime worked to get out of debt and hit some savings goals.

Deng Ming-Dao on Lovemaking

Today’s 365 Tao entry is on the topic of sex, and he has a different opinion about sex from the many Buddhist books and lectures I’ve been devouring the last two years.

“Too many other layers of meaning have been imposed upon sex. Religions straitjacket it, ascetics deny it, romantics glorify it, intellectuals theorize about it, obsessives pervert it.”

“Sex should not be used as leverage, manipulation, selfishness, or abuse. It should not be a ground for our personal compulsions and delusions”

-Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

Following the end of my previous relationship (with the mother of my children), I found myself thinking about dating again and got into a rebound relationship a few months later. As had previously been the case in my relationships, I found sex to be misused as a tool for manipulation and power.

After that, I spent about a year being involved in the Men Going Their Own Way movement, which can best be described as the male equivalent of the “I don’t need no man” kind of feminism. I remember being inspired at the time by the Breitbart article, “The Sexodus, Part 1: The Men Giving Up on Women and Checking out of Society”. As the MGTOW.com website explains in their mission statement:

Men Going Their Own Way is a statement of self-ownership, where the modern man preserves and protects his own sovereignty above all else. It is the manifestation of one word: “No”. Ejecting silly preconceptions and cultural definitions of what a “man” is. Looking to no one else for social cues. Refusing to bow, serve and kneel for the opportunity to be treated like a disposable utility. And, living according to his own best interests in a world which would rather he didn’t.

I found inspiration from the monks at The Abbey of Gethsemani, a monastery here in Kentucky that I regularly visit for a hike on the property, sometimes attending a church service and visiting the gift shop. I noticed that I’ve been with a partner at all times for at least the last 15 years. For the most part, the relationships ended with each partner hating the other. Meanwhile, the monks haven’t had partners for most of their lives, and seem happier than I have ever been.

You sometimes hear the expression “Men Going Monk” instead of MGTOW. That’s the direction I went in. I decided to avoid romantic relationships in the present climate of perceived hostility toward men in society, but decided that I did not want to be as hateful toward women as MGTOW were. In other words, I would become a celibate who did not want to be in a relationship with a woman, but we can be friends.

I lifted my moratorium on dating women last summer and I am in a relationship with a woman now.

Prior to becoming involved with her, I did a lot of soul searching about sex and relationships. At the time it seemed that western sexual morals had failed me, and relationships did more harm than good anymore. What did the Buddhists say about sexuality? From what I was able to learn, Buddhists are not opposed to premarital sex, but are opposed to using sexuality to harm others (and yourself!) For me, that meant avoiding what they call “toxic relationships” (I can’t stand that tired expression anymore) or any relationship where there is manipulation or abuse. I also no longer become involved with people I don’t love or aren’t attracted to, and vice versa.

As Ming-Dao noted, most people probably have the wrong perspective on sex. He said, “Religions straitjacket it, ascetics deny it, romantics glorify it, intellectuals theorize about it, obsessives pervert it.”

Taoism, according to Ming-Dao anyway, seems to be a bit less casual, yet not quite puritanical, about sex in comparison to Buddhism”

“Sexuality an honest reflection of our innermost personalities, and we should ensure that its expression is healthy. Making love is something mysterious, sacred, and often the most profound interaction between people. Whether what is created is a relationship or a pregnancy, the legacy of both partners will be inherent in their creation. What we put into love determines what we get out of it.”

The Daily Stoic:

Ryan Holiday’s chapter title for January 30th is “You Don’t Have to Stay on Top of Everything”. By that he means that the media coverage runs 24/7 and we feel that we are expected to stay current on everything, and be able to articulate an informed opinion about all current events, or keep up with popular TV shows. He’s saying it’s okay to say “I don’t care.” I’ve noticed this on Facebook a lot. A certain scandal or controversy is going on this week: Gay marriage one week, the Confederate flag the next, Hillary Clinton and deleted emails, gun control, and so on. We can try to research the issues and have an informed opinion, if only we could figure out which news source is unbiased and reliable. The end result is a lot of time and thought spent composing debate comments. Everyone fights, tempers are lost, people are unfriended. Next week, it’s another issue and the old issue is forgotten. I consciously decided, as a 2017 goal, that I do not want to participate in Facebook trolling and debating anymore. I don’t need to stay on top of everything in the news. I’d be better served spending time on bettering myself and improving my life than wasting it on frivolous arguments and information overload.

Tomorrow is the last day of January, meaning that I have completed one month of daily blog posts, as I plan to do every day of the year 2017. I will record a podcast tomorrow where I will discuss the experience of blogging for one month, and how things are going with all  the goals, and what has been learned. I will also update my goals for February.

See you tomorrow.
B.G.

Day Twenty Seven: Feasting

Daily Journal

Today, I purchased and listened to the audiobook version of Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. I was aware of the book and I may have even checked the book out at the library years ago and perhaps even returned it unread. I know the actor Ashton Kutcher had been a heavy smoker and quit using the book. I have quit smoking several times over the past few years. My most successful quit was for about a year ancigarettesd a half, 2011-2012, using the nicotine patch. I recall always feeling that I had made a sacrifice and wanting a cigarette every day of that year. I knew my days as a non-smoker were numbered when I joined the band Moonshine Millionaires and two of the guys were smokers. It was so difficult to go without cigarettes during those breaks between sets.

I had planned a quit date of February 1st, but after listening to the Allen Carr audiobook at work in only one day, I decided I didn’t want to smoke anymore and just quit immediately. No reason to smoke three more packs and wait to quit. Hard to explain how the book works but I believe it’s the best method for quitting I’ve tried so far. The author is not a health professional. He’s just a former three pack a day chain smoker who figured out how to quit and made it his life’s mission to help others quit the habit.

I would recommend the book to anyone who really wants to quit smoking. I know this will be my last quitting attempt and I will remain a non-smoker for the rest of my life.

It works like this: You have to really want to quit. If you read the book and still don’t want to quit, read it again. You have to read the entire book. You can smoke while you are reading the book too!

So far this is the easiest way to quit smoking that I have ever tried, because it address the bigger psychological problem (“brainwashing” as he calls it).

Deng Ming-Dao on Feasting:

Feasting is the flame in mid-winter
That kindles the fire of friendship
And strengthens the community.

This reminds me of trying to keep bands together- or preserving the unity of the group. It could apply to anything. Your family, your circle of friends, your Thursday night poker group, whatever. I wish I could remember the name of the documentary I saw many years ago with a quote about keeping a band together. I suspect it was the jazz fusion band Yellowjackets. Whoever made the quote, I paraphrase from memory, said that they kept the band together by getting together once a week for dinner, or maybe watching a movie, no matter how busy they were playing music. It kept them like a family. I think this is what Deng Ming-Dao is referring to, basically.

He says “like any other human endeavor, the feast is vulnerable to manipulation and politics, the selfish maneuvering of cynical individuals”- which I’m sure many people can relate to, regarding Thanksgiving dinner and family dysfunction.

He assures us that this is difficult to avoid completely. He recommends:

  • Keep intentions strictly on its purpose. (As a rule for me, in reaction to family problems when I was a kid, I do not allow arguing over problems, bad grades, getting in trouble, etc. while having dinner with my family. I grew up with anger and rage at the dinner time, with dinner plates being thrown and shattered. Family problems are to be discussed at a more appropriate place and time, with more patience. Family dinner is to create unity, not for engaging in conflict, in my opinion.)
  • Select leaders wisely.
  • The leaders need to be as enlightened as possible.

The Daily Stoic:

Today Ryan Holiday writes about the three areas of training, this time quoting Epictetus.

  • Consider what we should desire and be averse to. We need to want what is good and avoid what is bad. (Once again, a coincidence! I am learning to be averse to cigarettes and not desire them because they are not good).
  • Examine our motivations. Doing things for the right reasons? Acting without thinking first? Acting because we believe we have to do something and not for a real reason?
  • Judgment. See things clearly using reason.

Tomorrow, I will be working on my finances a little. It’s also my mother’s birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Mom!

B.G.

Day Seventeen: Cooperation

Full disclosure: This blog is backdated. I was wrapped up with work for 10 hours on January 17th, followed by hiking 6 miles with my Meetup hiking group, coming home in time for dinner, call to my girlfriend, and heading off to bed, turning in a bit later than I wanted to.

Today, I did something I hadn’t tried in a few years. I sat down and created a budget. Over the years, I’ve mostly kept track of my finances in my head, which sometimes has worked out okay, but mostly hasn’t. My big problems have been impulse purchases and falling behind while in crisis, or after a disaster, and all those years I spent way too much money drinking, both at bars and at home.

moonshine-millionaires

Cooperation: Moonshine Millionaires, probably the best-managed and ost productive act in my music career. All members influenced each other, and were placed in roles that suited them best. We had an excellent, experienced, and well-connected outside manager, a career first for me.

I’ve been reading some Dave Ramsey material. Of course, he’s the wildly popular radio host of The Dave Ramsey Show, about getting out of debt and managing money. Seemed like a good place to start. I used the Dave Ramsey Quick Start Budget printout.

My key discovery- no real surprise here!- I spend almost as much as I earn, even after cutting many things out of my budget long ago, such as daily beer drinking, and dining at restaurants. In the past, at times, I was able to eat, drink, and be merry a few nights per week. I had multiple sources of income back then.

Here is a really good blog post by Brian Eisenberg called What Makes People Buy? 20 Reasons Why. This list is worth a look, if you wonder why you buy things.

While I’ve had some problems with emotional spending (“retail therapy”), I’m not really a fear buyer or one who must have all the latest fads. My #1 problem is buying due to addiction.

I am presently still a one pack per day cigarette smoker. I quit a few years ago, last over a year until my new band Moonshine Millionaires had a smoke break at the El Camino Restaurant & Bar in Bardstown. I caved. I quit another time for six months. Both times I used nicotine replacement therapy, having the most success with the patch. The best way to buy cigarettes is the get the lowest price on a full carton, which I have almost never done. Denial is very powerful, so of course, feeling that “you might quit any day now”, you just buy one pack at a time. You might quit tomorrow. Why buy 10 packs? Of course, years go by and you are still a daily smoker. The problem with buying one pack at a time is that means you stop at a gas station every day to get a fresh pack, and what usually happens? You buy other times, like a soda, candy, snacks, or decide you also want a six pack of beer. That pack of smokes can become a $20 sale for the gas station.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve also become addicted to energy drinks. My main brand has been Rock Star since Handy Food Mart in Bardstown has them for $.99 instead of $2.50. I also drink Venom Black Mamba, which is only $.99, when I can find it. I don’t like Monster. Red Bull is probably my favorite, but I can’t afford to spend $4-$5 for a drink. It wasn’t uncommon for me to spend $2.50 on energy drinks. I had gotten up to 2-3 energy drinks per day. Empty cans were littering the floorboard of my car. I’ll bet the average amount us energy drink users spend is around $1500 – $2000 per year. Having an energy drink once in a while wouldn’t be so bad. After stopping my habit of 6-12 beers every day, I can now go several months without a beer and never abuse it anymore. Hopefully, I will be able to do the same with energy drinks. Right now, I don’t want to pay through the nose for this newer addiction. I drank my last Rock Star on January 7th, purchased at a Circle K near the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix.

Another discovery I made is that my job requires a lot of my time and yet, I still remain a working poor person who is unable to save or pay off debts (and also maintain his addictions, of course), or deal with any kind of emergency. I thought about it, and this has lead to my having a poor attitude and resentment about work, but I can also see a LOT of money problems have been my own damn fault too. Right away, I can see that I will need to cut all unnecessary expenses to put what little money that is toward debt and savings.

I will need to work overtime on a regular basis or find a better paying job. In the past, I supplemented my income with cover bands, but I am no longer able to do that and still be present in my kids’ lives since live music is weekend work (my time with the little ones) and usually a much bigger commitment than you think it will be, with many demands on your time.

Starting February 1st, I will start a 66-day mini-project of spending 15-30 minutes each day making some effort to look for more income. This can be anything. Setting up a LinkedIn profile, browsing Craigslist looking for a random one-time gig, looking through Want Ads for a better paying job, anything toward earning more money.

I will be using the Dave Ramsey Plan, trying to get as far through the first three Baby Steps as I can during 2017.

  1. Save $1000 Emergency Fund.
  2. Pay off Debts using “Debt Snowball”.
  3. Saving $4800 (approximately 3 months of my living expenses)

Deng Ming-Dao on Cooperation:

Today was a good entry in Tao 365. I’ve really similar passages in the Tao Te Ching. Deng Ming-Dao says “true leadership is a combination of initiative and humility.

Key points:

  • When we join some kind of group, we gradually become a part of the group. There will be mutual influence.
  • We influence the collective, and we are shaped by our company.
  • To influence others: We need to know when to act, when to be passive, when others are receptive to us, and when they will not listen.
  • There will be both frustration and success.
  • Maintain our position or change it, if there is a better position.
  • Credit is never taken. The best leader should be obscure, not drawing personal attention.
  • Credit is awarded when people realize it was the subtle influence of the leader that brought success.

The Daily Stoic: Reboot the Real Work

To quickly summarize today’s chapter, Holiday is saying that making an effort improves the quality of your life and the world. Just do the work. Let go of the past and begin now.

Tomorrow, I will discuss some personal goals I’m laying out for different areas in my life.

Peace.
B.G.

Day Two: Ablution

I want to preface this post by explaining that I am still working out the kinks and difficulties with my audio recordings. I have been experiencing some difficulties loading the files up to Soundcloud. I just registered for an account with Libsyn. I will most likely have to create a podcast page and post audio files maybe once or twice a week instead of daily. In the meantime, I will just make daily blog posts. 

Washing at dawn:Rinse away dreams. Protect the gods within, And clarify the inner spirit. 

I was introduced to the word “ablution” somewhat recently, following a workplace controversy that was addressed at an all hands meeting late last year. Like much of the country, my town is experiencing an influx of Somalian refugees, and we now have many of them in the workplace. At certain times of the day, these immigrants will wash their feet in our restroom sinks, which are not designed for that purpose, before praying. Many of the employees were disgusted by the practice and complained about water messes in the restrooms. The company is now looking into installation of special basins to accommodate this ritual. I wondered if some of the complaints were about prejudices toward other religions here in the Bible Belt, and then I remembered that some Christian denominations also perform ablutions, usually called “foot washing”. I have no interest in participating in the controversy, but the practice intrigued me enough to learn about, and understand the reason for the practice. 

“It is believed that there are 36,000 gods and goddesses in the body. If we continually eat bad foods, intoxicate ourselves, allow filth to accumulate anywhere outside or inside of ourselves, then these gods abandon us in disgust.”
-Chapter 2, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao. 

According to Deng Ming-Dao, purification starts all practice. I suppose I should take this literally and choose to shower in the morning instead of the night before. That will likely result in two showers per day, since I come home dirty from work in the evening and shower before bed. Perhaps a quick morning rinse will suffice. 

By rinsing away dreams, he says we need to let go of illusions and anxieties in both our sleep and waking moments. Letting go of projecting  meanings on everything. As western Tibetan teacher Lama Marut says, “Things out there do not exist the way they seem to.” 

Protecting the gods within. (See quote above)

Assessment: 

  • I often eat bad foods. Particularly foods that are sugary, very processed, fast foods, candy, etc.
  • I no longer drink alcohol on a daily basis, and haven’t in a few years, but I still continue to smoke cigarettes, consume energy drinks, diet sodas, and take way too much caffeine. 
  • Much mental filth remains. Old grudges and resentments, self hate, negative self talk, etc. 
  • My house is pretty messy most of the time. Will address this issue in future after next week. 

Tomorrow: 

  1. Wake up at 5am. 
  2. Shower. 
  3. Blog. 
  4. No fast foods.
  5. Monitor negative thinking  throughout the day. 
  6. Drink water. Do not smoke during one break at work. 
  7. Spend an hour cleaning the house. 

“Knowledge—self-knowledge in particular—is freedom.” – Ryan Holiday, Daily Stoic.