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.

June 2022 Newsletter: Hot boy summer

So we are now in June. The weather is supposedly nicer. It’s a time to wear tank tops and soak in the rays. My friends hate it when I call this summer hot boy summer but I’ve been working out and am in the mood to have a little fun. It is a packed summer and one that will hopefully conclude with the finishing of multiple professional certificates.

Getting Ready for July

July will mark the second annual sustainability month as I explore topics that are near and dear to my heart. For preparation this month, I am making it a goal to remind myself every moment I get to ride my electric bike, which I rode for the first time the other week! If all goes well, it’ll be a month of bike rides.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health awareness went really well! My goal with the series has been to measure my personal growth and push the limits of what I’m comfortable with. To that end, I achieved my goal. After I wrote ‘A tale of two Mikes’ I have made an active effort to go by Mike. I posted on LinkedIn regarding this change and think overall it’ll create a better me. It’s a small change but truly feels like a fresh start, where I can accept every aspect of myself. And of course I wrote about my Dad. When I finished writing the article, I felt a huge weight off my shoulders and I feel better than I have in a long while. It finally feels like my life will start moving forward after the last couple years.

Year of Desire

This year is about myself. A time to reflect and improve who I am. That’s not to say the other years I’ve neglected my well being but most of the time I don’t act. I wait and wait until feelings pass. So this year I am doing everything in my power to act. Other aspects of this year are my self image. I am working on body positivity this year! Already over the last couple months I have been feeling much better regarding my overall look. This has been primarily thanks to guided work at classes such as Yoga and Spin. It’s also a time to focus on dating and relationships over career. While I can juggle both at the same time, I feel in the past I have blatantly ignored my love life. An exciting year for sure and thus far I’m feeling good about my prospects.

For This Month

This month will be another relaxed month as I plan articles for Sustainability month in July. I may write an article later in the month if I have time but most likely it’ll have to wait till August as the series take a while to work on.

Outside the Blog

Life has been going relatively well. I’m making money, will be a day camp counselor in late June and have been working out with most of my free time. I joined an adult Co-Ed soccer league and played my first match the other week. I’ve been off social media for a while now and that includes dating apps. It’s overall been a liberating year as I do some much needed soul searching.

Cooking

Cooking has been going slow. I’ve made a few recipes here and there but took about a month off. The beet dishes have been my favorite while my experiment with eggplant went okay. For now, I might stick with beet dishes as I have a blast making them. For eggplant, I simply roasted them. In the future, I think I’ll need to prepare it in a salad and do a proper dish. Cookies have been fantastic and I seem to have a knack for baking. I have a lot of recipes planned, so I’m hoping for better cash flow over the summer so I can spend money on more dishes I’ll enjoy.


And thus ends this months newsletter. Next month will be Sustainability Month and with it three articles dedicated to a sustainable life. We’ll see how much I switch it up from last year and I’m excited to focus my efforts on the drafts this month. Come August there’ll once again be a Newsletter and we’ll gear up for the colder weather that comes with the changing of seasons. As always, thanks for reading!

February 2022 Newsletter: Is Love in the air?

How’s it going?

February is moving along. It’s a strange time in my life right now. I’ve finally found some stability amidst the chaos and I am able to take it one day at a time. I work about 13 hours a week and for the moment, the extra free time has been nice. No more 40 hours a week, wake up at 3am and get home by 1pm. Just simple evening shifts and a morning shift on Sundays. I know this cannot last forever but it’s been nice during the Pandemic to finally have a chance to catch my breath. Eventually, I’ll need to be working fulltime again and even consider continuing my education to add more capital to myself.

Outside of work, I have been doing a lot more walking as per my new years resolution. I’ve gotten way too into Pokémon Go and have been battling my way across my neighborhood for the last couple months or so. For whatever reason, I’ve been getting more shinies in the last year than I have in my entire 20 years of playing Pokémon.

For the blog

This month is going to be relatively low key. My ‘State of the Blog’ post took slightly longer than expected and landed into the first week of February rather than the last week of January. Nothing too crazy there. The plan is consistency and this year should have everything I want to write about finalized. For this month I’ve been brainstorming a poem and while it’s not quite ready yet I’m excited to be writing a poem since it’s been a hot minute since my last one.

Other Things

I tried Yoga for the first time the other day! It was surprisingly enjoyable. It involves stretching (which I suck at), exercise (been a hot minute) and a mix of meditation (which I have been rocking). Cooking has yet to manifest itself but I grow tired of frozen burritos and potstickers so I imagine it’s only a matter of time. My bike is prepped and ready to ride, so now that I have a job I’ll probably try commuting to work everyday.


Thanks for reading! As we gear up for March, the blog will start to pick up. April is National Poetry Month, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and July is my Sustainability Month. For now, I get to take a breath and enjoy the calm.

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