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. Pok√©mon 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!

Elon Musk Twitter: The Death of Twitter?

So it feels like ages since I’ve written a business related article. Years, in fact. Business has had a strange journey on this blog. Originally, that’s all I talked about. I would read a business book and then talk about those ideas. Eventually, that transformed into Mental Health and the rest of the blog has shifted away from a heavy focus on articles. Early in the Pandemic, I tried writing business articles on LinkedIn. Those saw some success but I felt a disconnect. Effort vs. Reward just wasn’t there. Here, I write for the fun of it. And I’ve been itching to talk about the Elon Musk acquisition of Twitter.

As you may be aware, I’ve done away with my social media presence since the Pandemic began. Think of this article as more of a continuation of what I’ve already talked about on my crusade against social media. If there was any doubt about my decision to leave the digital realm behind, it has been erased by watching the social media giants implode. Meta is a whole other story and quite frankly a mess. There’s a certain satisfaction in watching their fall but I also worry about those impacted by the collapse of the social media giants.

Twitter

Twitter has been on a wild ride within the last couple weeks. The biggest news is Elon Musk laying off half the workforce and charging $8 for a verification system that seems inconceivable with how Twitter was designed. That said, I can understand some of the decisions made. When I’ve envisioned Utopian social media, there has to be a way for the site to be supported. Typically, the two go-to options are crowdfunding or advertisements. You can either have it free and your data sold or you can give money to the creator to help support the site. If I’m not mistaken, Myspace was completely free, which led to it’s eventually demise. Myspace was the ideal and while I was too young to share in its joy, I still remember how amazing it was. A time when the internet was actually Utopian. Then came Facebook and Twitter. And now here we are, in uncharted territory.

What is Elon Musk doing?

It seems like madness and it seems like chaos but I’m intrigued at what’s happening at Twitter. My theory is Elon Musk is gutting Twitter as we know it and trying at least in part, to create a more concise social media experience (in a perfect world, where everyone was a rational being). I would not be surprised if we saw it integrated with his other companies and went the route of a professional social media service, similar to LinkedIn but more specialized. However, if he is forced into a particular vision remains to be seen. Advertisers are leaving Twitter in droves and soon we will see a mass exodus of users on the platform. Based on what I’ve read and watched, it seems Elon Musk does indeed want the current userbase to stay. While I gave up the Twitter life a couple years ago, I have hopped on from time to time to check in. With the acquisition however, my desire to do so has all but disappeared. The new verification system sounds exhausting and begs the question of who can you trust on Twitter? What would a post-Twitter world even look like? Once Pandora’s box is open, can you close it? While we don’t know for certain if Twitter will die, I think we can all agree that Twitter as we know it is done. It is essentially in the hands of a madman.

Random Thoughts

It’s a lot of information to process. One day, Twitter was fine (in the loose definition of the word). Then overnight, the Media giant was brought to its knees by one man. Half the staff, gone. Many others resigning, quitting. It is alarming to think that if one has enough money, they can do this. People’s livelihoods have been destroyed and for what? Seemingly nothing. A CEO does not simply do these things. At least, not a proper CEO. I always thought of Elon Musk as a sort of madman businessman but at least with his other companies he could hide behind “Vision”. A mission to colonize Mars, a mission to reinvent the automotive industry through electric batteries. While a tough sell, getting people to hit the grindstone when you have a mission to save the world makes the pill easier to swallow. With Twitter you’d have to be out of your mind to stay.

Covering Social Media

As part of my long term goal for the blog, I want to start covering social media trends on a more regular basis. I’ve written about their mental health implications and since then I’ve been noticing more coverage on the detriment behemoths like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have had on society. I know deep down in my heart, there are better ways to run Social Media. I’ll be keeping up with all new developments and look at the global impact. If you have any thoughts, sound off in the comments below!

August 2022 Newsletter: Summer heat ain’t so sweet

It is now officially August. The summer is coming to a close and it has been a chaotic summer to say the least. There’s been some small victories and other more frustrating endeavors but all in all I’ve landed on my feet.

The Good

I’ve been working near 40 hours a week this summer. With this extra work has come an influx of cash that I’ve been using to refill the treasury. I’ve been running a lot this summer and adult co-ed soccer was beyond fun. I bought expansions for my board games and think the next game night will be a real banger. I’ve situated myself to be working more hours in the fall and I’ll be taking on the additional job of a rock climbing instructor. I’m prepping for my old college roommates wedding and am beginning to think of what I want to do for my birthday. At the very least, it’s set up to be a smooth year for me.

The Bad

Sustainability month was great! Except it was only one article! Last month put my blog to the test and ultimately I fell short. That said, I might extend sustainability month into August and make it a two month affair. August will calm down for me after the 18th, so I imagine I’ll have more time to finish up the articles then.

The Ugly

As my year of a desire, this year is all about getting back out there. It’s a year focused solely on my wants and needs. While I’ve seen great success in some areas, dating and relationships are just as messy as they’ve ever been for me. It’s a time of emotional volatility as I ride one high to the next and hope by the end of the year I dock in safer harbors. My one meet-cute this year has been a disaster and while it hurts less as I grow older, it still hurts nonetheless.

Where I’m at

It’s a strange time in my life. I’m doing what I want in life and life by every measure is good. I’m still aiming for great, however. The newly found stoic in me would say this is a folly; but stoicism is an ideal, not a reality. My present moment is very much present and while it feels good most of the time, there is still this undying pull that I should be doing more. My ponderings are not so much in what I’ve built this last year but more in wondering if it is but an illusion. Should that matter? Hard to say. Will opportunity find me or I it? Are these questions worth asking or a waste of energy?

In Conclusion

All is fair in love and war. To win at my year of desire I must outcompete. I thought I had accomplished this very aspect in my many years of personal growth but it appears I have more work to do to beat out ‘The Other Guy’. My final conclusion in this regard is to workout more often. I thought I could simply run and that would be enough but now I have to wonder if that is really the case. I speak Spanish, German, and Elementary French. I play Tennis, Write, and am learning piano. One must ask what more a man can do? So now I will try working my upper body in what will be a bit of a social experiment. The plan is to add swimming to my routine as a way to expedite results. With swimming in place, I will put an end to my hot boy summer. Will we see victory or defeat? Who knows at this point. Worst case, I have a wedding to attend in September and I know how to dance. Until then, cheers!

Climate anxiety through the lens of stoicism: Sustainability Month 2022

When I was a child, there was little I had to worry about. Most of my needs were met and many of the issues that would plague my adult life were simply over my head. Life was filled with hope and while I lacked the confidence I have now, terms such as climate anxiety had yet to come into existence. Had I known how much would change in a decade I would have wished I had focused on the present moment more back then.

Society as a whole is anxious and it seems there is no escape from the problems of the world. When the world shut down in 2020 the impact was quite magnificent for the environment and for a brief moment the world could take a break. During this time I picked up stoicism, which I have been practicing for the last year. Stoicism at its essence is focus on the present moment. All else matters very little to the stoics. I have struggled for the longest time to pull myself into the present moment. I have always had a focus on the future and the past keeps finding its way back into my life. This is anxiety in a nutshell. So while I’m not completely opposed to the idea behind climate anxiety, I wonder how much it helps to constantly focus on the terminology itself. Is the terminology itself doing more harm than good? Are there better ways to approach the modern problems of the world?

Where I first saw the term

How many years ago, I do not know. But it must have been when I was still in college and it was most definitely a New York Times article. In fact, the NY Times throws the terminology around quite liberally. I’m not saying the idea itself is wrong but the term is designed to create a sense of urgency that more often than not is less helpful than it initially seems. It paints a picture of climate drama when really we should be having climate hope (these terms are just as bad, I know). If we were to approach this issue from the lens of a philosopher, the conversation might look something like this, ‘The climate is in bad shape, but it could be worse, so what can we do today to make it better?’ This conversation acknowledges the problem but instead of an over emphasis on the future, it looks at taking it one day at a time. College Mike would have said no, that we need to focus on the big picture, which is true to a certain extent. However, the Mike of today sees the wisdom in just simply living life.

Years of Sustainability under my belt

A focus on sustainability has been one of those few things that has been a constant throughout my life. When I was younger, I would take trash and make art. When I was in high school, I sowed a community garden and recycled cans. In college I gardened, composted, and used energy efficient bulbs. I’ve cared about sustainability so much that I took sustainability as an elective course. When I was the service chair, I had our entire fraternity plant a pollinator garden for Earth Day. While it hasn’t always been a perfect journey, I can hold my head high knowing that I’ve made an effort to be more sustainable in every aspect of my life and know that I am all the better for it.

What the Future Holds

So the question is really whether or not we want to add to overall societal anxiety, which is another issue altogether. I’m grateful we live in a society where there are pressing headlines regarding the environment and ecofriendly options available. But it is not enough. In the 70s corporate America made a push to make environmental focus on the consumer to take attention away from what they themselves were doing to the environment. Instead of changing their behavior in a meaningful way, they chose to shift responsibility (and in turn, blame) to the consumer. The idea of a consumer focused environmental stewardship is not in itself a bad idea. I feel great when I compost, I feel great when I ride my bike, and I feel great when I walk. The anxiety comes with knowing no matter what I do, if corporations are left unchecked, very little can be done. And then you add that on a global scale. Even if the United States does its part, you still have industrial polluters such as China and India that have their own laws and regulations.

New Technologies Emerge

To counter this a few ideas have been thrown around. One is to go full nuclear which has seen much pushback throughout the years. Nuclear energy is a very safe form of energy and highly efficient. Nuclear waste can pose a problem but there are emerging technologies that can recycle the fuel rods and eliminate waste altogether. Wind and solar are good but can be dependent on the weather itself. The other exciting technology is carbon recapture technology which can one day hopefully be used as a source of energy and could even make diamonds. So there is hope for the future and it is not as bleak as it may seem. And the beauty of technology is that there will be future technology that we cannot even begin to comprehend.

Stoicism

Stoicism has been near and dear to my heart for the last year as I’ve read through ‘The Daily Stoic’. It turns out the ancient Greeks had much of the same problems we do in our modern society. There is a certain comfort in this. To know that centuries later, human beings as a whole have not much changed. We spend so much time obsessing about the future and dwelling on the past that it becomes all consuming. So for the last year I’ve done away with it all. I didn’t think much of the book when I first got it. A friend got it for me as a gift and it looked interesting enough so I did as the book said and have been reading a stoic quote each day. It’s been close to six months now and I can say with confidence my mindset has fundamentally changed. The journey has been up and down but overall the impact has been profound. My mindset has changed looking back and I’m excited to see where the next six months lead. And I think we can all take a page or two from the stoics. The present is what we say we all want to live in but how many people truly live in it? Anxiety forms when we think about what could be and what never was so stoicism as a practice is a noble pursuit.

Applying this to Climate Anxiety

I think to reduce climate anxiety, we really must truly understand what it is. The only time I truly felt it was with the Oregon Wildfires a year or two ago. It seemed like the world was going to end and there was a sense of helplessness that went along with it. I couldn’t go outside and the fires kept burning. I lost sleep with worry and where as a child the environment felt like an unmovable mountain that sense of stability was lost as I wondered if the next year would be worse. Looking outside and seeing clear blue skies puts a smile on my face this year as I can’t remember a summer ever being as nice as it is right now. I’m walking and biking almost everyday and it’s been a joy. The spring had a lot of rain and I thought it would never end, which I was more than happy to have as it meant wildfire season would be much less extreme. And with a summer this nice, I can only imagine a Fall that will follow suit.

Devil’s advocate would argue that this approach is too relaxed but the way I figure is the environment is always on my mind and I can make a difference each and every day. My long term goals are to buy a portable composter and use the compost to take up gardening. Our garden has been long neglected and it would be extremely gratifying to revive it.

Some other Cool Causes to Mitigate Climate Anxiety

Another thing I can feel good about is I can support causes through lifestyle choices. Many years ago, I took up meditation. And then I bought ‘Playne’, a meditation video game. Upon completion, the developer has a tree planted in honor of the milestone. It may seem insignificant but if enough people are focused on causes such as this, eventually you’ll have entire forests planted. The other app is ‘forest’ which is a productivity app where you plant a virtual forest. If you so choose, however, you can use the in game currency to plant a real tree. While these are small differences, they can help reduce the feeling of helplessness when it comes to being a good steward of the environment.

In Conclusion

Being anxious does not solve problems. We are constantly pulling ourselves out of what is and for no reason. The world is not all doom and gloom. New technologies are emerging that can mitigate the damage that’s been done to the planet and even reverse it. A life lived as a stoic can reduce some of the anxiety felt by a planet that arguably could have been better taken care of. However, there is a lot we can do ourselves to regain control. Ride your bike, walk more, even proper dieting can go a long way. It turns out a healthier life might just lead to a healthier planet.

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