January 2023 Newsletter: Mike Cole’s year wrapped

What a year. As has become tradition at this point, I’m using the January newsletter to illustrate the previous year. I’ve fiddled around with the title a bit and since literally everything else has a “wrapped” this year, I figured I would too!

How My Year Starts

As I sit in my room, sipping on my coffee, I thought it’d be fun to go over how I like to start my year. Each year, I like to brew myself a cup of coffee and make myself breakfast. My new hobby has been listening to lofi and I have chill beats playing as I write. Now fast forward a week two weeks and here I sit once more. I am excited to say I just wrapped up my third day first week at my new job. A New Year, A New me. Once I finish this article, I can once more post my New Year’s resolutions to this site and thus begin again what has become annual tradition. In December I wrote about my habits and what I had achieved in 2022 and can say with confidence that I am proud. From being a man who was content to bum along to someone who has dared to dream, my journey has been long and the fruits I planted many years ago have become an orchard. Last year I highlighted the past but 2022 was a year spent living in the present, with much of the thanks going to the daily stoic. So, let’s highlight some of it!

MMO’s and going full nerd

This last year I doubled down on my gaming and found an MMO I enjoyed in Elder Scrolls Online. I have not played an MMO since Runescape and it’s been fun simply getting lost in a world. In ESO I officially joined a guild and have been working on finding communities that align with my interest. Whether I pick up another MMO remains TBD but most likely not as we’re talking hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of content with just one. With my new job, I’ll have less time to game so I’m in the process of figuring out my schedule as I readjust to having fulltime work. Pokémon Go I’m still active with and it’s been a year of questing through my hometown to catch them all. And looking at my wrapped, I apparently walked 930km or 578 miles thus far! I’m really glad I’m leaning more into my nerdy tendencies as I feel like that’s been missing from my life as of late.

This Year

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want out of the blog this year. This year will mark the 9th year my blog has been in existence and as I’ve learned over the years there is always something to improve. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own personal mental health and what I want to talk about come mental health awareness month and might even get an early start on writing the articles. I’ve also been looking at what’s been working and what hasn’t over the last year (fortunately more has worked than has not). As I’ve mentioned a bit before, I really want to start looking at my writing as a whole. For the last 9 years, I’ve been winging it and outside of an English class here or there, I haven’t really had any formal training. Do I need it, I don’t really know. I’ve seen fantastic writers over the years and read beautiful articles, so it’d be interesting to see how I can push myself even further.

New Zealand and other things

So, I just recently got my passport back and it is now good for the next ten years! I have one dream for this year and that is to do a working holiday visa. I’m anxious and stressed but also very excited as things are seemingly lining up to make this a reality. I plan to bring my camera if I do end up going over, so here’s to hoping everything continues to go well!

More Dating Articles

Speaking of looking at data regarding certain articles, one category that has done surprisingly well has been when I’ve talked about dating. It is odd because I don’t date often and truth be told I have yet to be in a long term committed relationship. That’s not to say I haven’t tried but it has been a long, messy process filled with few highs and a whole lot of chaos. Apparently most men don’t get bit by women, who knew? In the past, I always thought I should be going on dates and having these crazy adventures to talk about dating but this year I’m going to try something a little different. I’m going to start to open up and be a little more candid about my experiences as well as some of my speculations. There’ll be the craziness of it all for sure but I want to share more of the difficulties I’ve been having and talk about my thoughts on the current dating scene. I’m super excited and hope you like the content I have planned!

Are My Business Articles Dead?

One aspect of my blog that has changed over the years is what I write about. To think I used to write a lot of business articles on my blog! What I hadn’t realized is how much my blog has changed over the years and in turn, myself. Writing business articles no longer interests me as much as it once did! I enjoy talking about business related subjects but in terms of the time dedicated to writing an article I would honestly much rather spend that time talking about mental health, fitness, games, or other subjects that I find to be more interesting. So this year is going to have renewed focus on what I write and while I love business, it’s an easy subject to get writers block on and doesn’t bring in the views.


2022 is officially wrapped and what a year it was! 2023 is already shaping up to be a very exciting year with a lot of big changes! Expect my new year’s resolution post in a few weeks! As a preview, the year theme is “new beginnings”. As always, thanks for reading!

December 2022 Newsletter: An End to Bad Habits

So it is officially December and what a year! The biggest changes have been to my habits and this newsletter we’re going to do a little reflecting.

One Hell of a Ride

Usually I save the reflection for January but as fate would have it, Habitica has a New Year Resolution challenge. For the challenge, it’s asking for reflection during December and thus I write. So let’s dive in.

My goals have all been reached but one. This year I set out to learn as much as I could and I’m impressed with what I was able to accomplish. It was slow going but the wheel still turned. In Duolingo, I was in the top 8% for learners and spent a total of 953 minutes learning, which comes out to be a 16 hour total! I was able to reach a 50 day streak and am on track to make it for 365 days. My top languages were Spanish and French, staying true to my word.

In total, I cooked four meals this year and about a thousand quesadillas. I learned how to make French Toast and figured out the dishes that would give me the most bang for my buck. My cooking habits are in a good spot and I’ll be looking forward to more meals next year.

I walked a lot this year! I wish I had the data on how much walking I did but alas I do not. Pokémon Go got me out of the house and adventuring more than I ever have before. My Ebike has now hit over 500 miles on it and got me where I needed to go.

On WordPress, I wrote over 17000 words and averaged around 800 words per article! And this year saw 180 likes on my content!

With Piano, I practiced a bit during the summer and invested in online learning platforms. It is the final stretch and I’m going to try to learn the basics by year’s end. All other goals have been reached, this is it!

Challenges Faced

The greatest obstacle I faced was myself, as cliché and cringe as it sounds. I’ve learned that much of my life has been a failure to fully commit. I will tell myself to do something and the hours will not match. No matter how smart I am, I failed to understand what I wanted and to put the hours in. This realization came from my quest to Diamond League in Duolingo. Duolingo I used to do the bare minimum. I would do a quick lesson just to keep a streak going until eventually giving up. And then a friend added me on Duolingo. I started competing and haven’t stopped since. With this, I realized how much work I need to be putting into everything I do and really just enjoy the journey. French has made me want to pull my hair out until I just chuckled and let it be as it was. Progress is progress no matter how slow. For this next year, I want to reach a level where I put in the work and see the payoff. I say this every year but each year I get a bit closer; the difference now is I know exactly what I need to do.

Planning for Next Year

An end to bad habits. This year has really seen me digging into the trenches and pulling out all that goes bump in the night. I have really come into my own and looking back I feel a sense of completeness. What I set out to do this year has changed my way of thinking and has made me realize the importance of doubling down. There is always something new to learn and always room for improvement. Finishing up my habits has given me a new perspective on my blogging and made me realize how much I can improve. The format of my site I’m in love with and now I want to really focus on content. Doubling down and really writing my heart out. There are so many ways I can expand my writing and I feel like I’m in a good spot to set out on this journey.

Goals for Next Year

As I begin drafting my resolutions for next year, I’m really taking a look at where I want to be. This year has had a heavy focus on my habits and laid a foundation that I’m happy with. Coding I’ve begun earning certificates, which a few months ago I never thought I’d get to. I have an understanding of what I want to use coding for and have made steady progress getting there. Piano I’ve learned half a song and am jumping back into it to finish the year strong. Cooking adult recipes on my own has been great. So in all honesty, it might be a lot of the same with an emphasis on the hours I put in. I want to really sit down and be with my habits, strategizing with an end in mind. As this year comes to a close, I want to thank everyone for reading my blog and if I don’t post anything else this month, look forward to seeing everyone next year!

November 2022 Newsletter: When Chaos reigns

It’s been a crazy last couple months. There’s been a lot of good and a whole lot of crazy. Short Story month was a success. Adulting has been hard and the wheel of time never stops turning. This is the intro and now we’ll dive into the nitty gritty.

Short Story Month

The first “official” short story month was successful. I was able to publish two short stories and the second story I was especially happy with. While the stories did lean more towards horror this year, I’m glad I made the series open ended; the main goal is writing practice and to that end I achieved my goal. With it’s success, I’ll solidify it into the series rotation.

When Burnout Hits

So it has finally happened, I have reached a point of burnout with work. I’ve been working at a nonprofit for the last year now and it’s been an interesting experience to say the least. I have hit the maximum of part time hours I can work (about 30) and I have become well established in multiple departments. I work the front desk, teach rock climbing, and assist with events currently. Over the summer, I was a camp counselor and still assist with childcare from time to time. Teaching, Event Planning, and the right type of customer service. Here’s where it gets tricky; the pay. I did the math and I’m only bringing in $19000 a year (rounded-up). Short-term, this is ok. Long-term, not so much. Compared to previous years of income, this is the least I’ve made since entering the workforce. It is a rate that has not kept up with inflation and it is a rate that doesn’t sit well with me personally. Now that I have the experience, I can once again look at the factors that make for a satisfying life. While I have work that I find enjoyable I just cannot justify everything else I would be sacrificing.

This Month (and a little of last month)

I’ve been running around the last couple months. September I had a wedding to attend, my bike got a flat, and I was coasting along. Come October, I got my bike fixed, my student debt relief application sent in, and braced for another busy month. Now, my two main goals are health insurance (through the affordable care act) and my New Zealand application. I cannot believe how fast time has gone by. The health care application is nearly complete and I’m just waited to be fully approved for coverage. New Zealand is going to be a lot more work. Everything goes well, I’m still waiting four to six months for the application. Afterwards, I’ll need to renew my passport and get a RealID for domestic travel before the deadline. In the meantime, I will also be ramping up my job search as a backup. December might be the first month where I can truly relax this year. And yet, I’m still swinging a miss on one of my new year’s resolutions. And that is… Learning the piano. So, it is time to practice. If I can put 10 hours into deciding a vote, I can put time aside every week to learn the piano. I’ve been cooking, coding, walking, biking, and learning French. So it’d almost be criminal if I didn’t at least try again with piano.

The Drum Beats On

It’s a bit of a fever dream right now. I am in a weird limbo where things are going well but my heart craves more. I am pushing my personal goals forward but it all moves slowly, then quickly. The blog is exactly where I want it and no major changes will happen (unless I live in New Zealand, then you bet I’ll do another travel series). Poetry, Short Stories, Mental Health, and Sustainability all make writing incredibly fun for me. It took many years to get here, but we’re here. My posts get plenty of likes and there is not a whole lot of heavy lifting. I write what I want when I want and keep on schedule (mostly). With short story month behind us, November really could be anything in terms of content. A poem? A short story? An article? Hard to say.

Other Nonsense

As of right now, it’s just a lot of planning. Believe it or not, I’ve begun longing for the days of the call center. Full benefits and a work environment that in hindsight wasn’t all too bad with a large organization that gave me access to resources. That’s not to say what I’m doing now is bad, it just is very limited as far as what I can do career wise. Since I’ve achieved my work experience goals, it is a simple matter of moving on out. It’s been a year of personal growth and I’m proud of what I’ve done, I just hate how there always seems to be extra steps to get what I want out of life.

Voting

Quite recently, I voted. I have been voting since I turned 18 and this election I really dug in to understand my values and who would best represent those. For my entire life I have seen Oregon on the decline under the leadership of Kate Brown and I simply said enough was enough. Being a moderate my views run a spectrum so I sought to provide balance in our legislature. I watched a couple debates and found information on each candidate. Each ballot measure I looked over and thought about how it would affect me as well as the larger implications as a whole. I feel I struck a nice balance and all the choices I made I’m happy with. That said, long term I think I will end up relocating. Oregon is not as it was and I want a fun city in a fun state where I can live. The job prospects here have not been great and I’m wondering if I can use my alumni network to make a smooth transition elsewhere. So basically it’s a “we’ll see” sort of year.

Doing the Math

So I’ve done the math [my favorite phrase today, apparently]. Career wise, I cannot stay any longer than the end of the year. Early 2023 is fine but any more and I’d be doing a disservice to myself. I also cannot outright quit as it is still nice to have a source of revenue (and the work is enjoyable). The schedule and hours all work with my current plans so I can simply build on what I’m doing. The weekends are typically pretty quiet, so I simply work on my blog and get my coding goals done. It also affords me time to read books and just really sit back a take a breather after the last couple of years. However, if I were not doing these things, I’d be bored out of my mind. And that is not ideal for a workplace environment. Overall, I think it’s good to have this type of experience during my 20s. I’m jumping around and just figuring out this thing we call life.


This will be a month of doing. Ramping up my coding, finishing a few books, and getting the foundation laid for next year. It’ll be a time to learn piano and make sure all personal milestones have been achieved. I’ll be looking towards the future in what will be another busy month. As always, thanks for reading!

September 2022 Newsletter: Where’d August Go?

So I had August plans. I was going to write a few articles and finish up my sustainability month that only had one post. Instead, I wrote a few drafts and when I looked up the leaves had started to turn.

A more casual blogging experience

My blog has grown exponentially over the years. What started as a simple hobby has turned into quite the endeavor. I never really saw myself writing this long and it’s become a natural rhythm in my every day life. The seasons turn and my blog remains. It is something I can take wherever I am and something I can do always. As the blog has developed over the years, I have grown more comfortable with not sweating the small things. Sustainability month had one great article and honestly that’s enough for me. I spent the better part of a year developing the four series and while two to three for the month would be great, I’m content with just seeing how I feel each month.

A Debt Paid

The biggest piece of news in my life is that, with the student loan forgiveness, I will be debt free. It has been five years since I graduated college and I will not be saddled with debt for the rest of my life. It means that I can finally save my money and plans postponed are no longer postponed. It is a great feeling, like the entire weight of the world being lifted off my shoulders. My personal goals have been centered around paying off my debt and as such I’ve taken to simply focusing on living day to day. There is merit to be had in this approach but in part I had been lying to myself that I was doing just fine. If all goes as planned this year, I’ll use this opportunity to once again live abroad. New Zealand is my country of choice and in December I’ll start solidifying plans to apply for a holiday working visa for a year. I have the option for 6 months but feel the year will be a nice reset. If the opportunity leads to more travel, I welcome it. I need a change of scenery and this is the catalyst I needed. It’s a great time in my life to do such as I have no obligations that are tying me to one place or another. I’ll talk more about this in the coming year but for now I’ll try not to get to far ahead myself.

What else is new?

So with debt out of the way, I’m tackling the question of what fulfills me. I’ve been hustling it for the last year and while that has been fun and necessary my goals are once again shifting as one must do in life. Without debt, I can finally assess my passions in their truest form. There is no caveat, if I want to pursue a passion fulltime, I now have the opportunity to do so. Right now my needs are met but coming out of debt I’ve realized I need a bit more professionally. The idea right now is a year in New Zealand will provide new perspective and lead to something I can truly smile about. In the truest sense, I can put the past behind. I can be proud that I graduated and the debt I was saddled with has been paid off. I am now on a level playing field.

A Month of New Beginnings

I have always enjoyed September. There is something about Autumn that brings about a calm that’s hardly experienced in other seasons. It is the month of my birth and I always use the time to reflect on the life I’ve lived. This month I’m going to try and double down on my commitments. On the 16th (my birthday) I will be traveling by train to Seattle. I chose the upper carriage so I should get a panoramic view of the West Coast. From there, I’ll be staying in a hostel in the heart of downtown Seattle. I have not stayed in a hostel since I did study abroad so I am beyond excited to be reliving the experience (and it’s much cheaper than an Airbnb or a hotel!). I’m still planning the trip but I’ll be there for four days, so I’ll have plenty of time to explore after the wedding. Right now I’m thinking doing the city underground tour as well as doing a ghost tour. The aquarium sounds fun but we’ll have to see how much time I have. All in all, it’s set up to be a great month.

In Closing

This month I’m going to play it by ear. I have a couple unfinished drafts waiting to be published and outside of that I might try and get a poem done but we’ll see. I’m less busy now that I’m not doing summer day camp so I should have more time to write! As always, thanks for reading!

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