New Year, New Mike: The wheel of reinvention never stops.

Yes, it is January. And what does that mean? Reflection but of course. My blog is one big ode to my self improvement. Years ago, I had the brilliant idea of using my blog as a way to keep track of my New Year’s resolutions. A look at what I want to be and a way to hold myself accountable. Since then, I’ve been able to look back at years past and see if I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. I’ve had surprising success writing out my resolutions this way and I’m excited to share what I have planned for this year.

What I’ve Learned

Since I’ve started posting my habits on my blog, I’ve kept my goals as continuous goals. It’s not a one and done list! Instead, I modify and adapt. As such, my goals aren’t shear chaos as they were in years past. They are a constant and I’m glad. With each passing year, they become more focused and refined.

I have started using January as a planning month. Instead of running to the gym come January first, I take my time to carefully consider what I want to do. Since I’ve only started doing this quite recently, I have no idea what the end result will be.

Not a French Kisser

One of my goals for last year was to learn French. My German has become much improved since my youth and I found it time for a new language. I have a French friend and one of my dreams is to make my triumphant return to Europe, not as a boy but as a man. So I’ve been practicing French. The great news is that I’ve started. The bad news is I haven’t been practicing as much as I like. So this year, I’m doubling down. Lessons every day, more French shows, and listening to podcasts. As an added goal, I want to do more to measure my success with languages. My reasons, pardon my French, are rather dorky. I am learning Japanese simply for the sake that I’ve played Nintendo games my entire life. French is to impress my friend. And German was so that I wouldn’t starve to death in the airport when I did study abroad.

My goal right now is to learn French, German, Spanish, and Japanese to fluency. Outside of those languages, I may or may not pick up sign language but only time will tell. My Spanish is rusty and needs work. German I can understand but like Spanish my goal is to learn it so I can hold conversation. This is going to be a year of polish and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

Coding

Coding went surprisingly well. My main focus this year is web development. I’ve been lazy the last couple of months but I found coding material that is not only practical but enjoyable. But tough. Very, very tough. If I build a game, great, but web development comes above all else. I’m putting no pressure on myself for this, I am simply treating it as another skill to learn. It could take years or weeks, but my pace is my own.

Piano Man play me a tune

One of my goals has been to hone my musical craft. In my effort to be the smartest man in the room, music is one obstacle I haven’t quite been able to tackle. Motivation is key. So I reviewed instruments and landed on piano. It’s a social instrument and meant to be shared. I can walk into a building and should I find a piano, nine times out of ten I can sit down and play. The other aspect is lessons are easily available. Piano song guides are plastered around the internet and if I want to learn a song, I can. Try doing the same for violin and you’ll find much more of a headache. I still have my Skillshare account, so I’ll be doing lessons over there. It’ll be off and on but I’m hopeful something will stick eventually. The goal is to make it fun and slowly but surely I am getting there.

Cooking

An elusive habit since I’ve moved back home. In college, I learned how to cook. I made many dishes during my studies and found that cooking was not only cost effective but also a tastier option to eating out. So this year, I’d like to ease back into cooking my own meals. The plan currently is to sign up for a New York Times Cooking subscription and to start looking through a cooking blog I only recently found out about, Food52. I am going to slowly integrate cooking as a lifestyle choice rather than simply force myself to cook for the sake of cooking. There is no set plan for my meals but I’m starting the year by simply looking at interesting recipes. Life is a little chaotic right now so I don’t know when I’ll go shopping but I have faith this year I can really get back into making delicious meals.

Big Picture Goal

Individual, SMART goals are great, but they’re not enough to move someone forward. As has become tradition, I’ve been theming my years. A year of Assertive here, a year of New there… These frameworks help set up the plan for the year and help bring together my “Why”.

So this year I want to be my year of Desire. Desire in the sense of asking myself what I want and setting out to get what I want. When I became an Eagle Scout, I picked out a silver coin of one of our laws. In that moment, I picked courteous as I thought it best represented who I was. Always thinking of others, trying to please everyone to the best of my abilities. Later in life I learned that if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. And now I’m ready for the next evolution of that concept; being courteous to myself. So this year is about my goals and getting ahead in life. It’ll be paying off my student loans, helping with as many events as I can and eventually transitioning to project management roles. It’s time I stop sidelining myself and focus on my success, whatever it takes to get there.

Other Goals for the Year

While new skills are a blessing to learn and typically what I choose to focus on, I also want to instill other habits beyond simply building my human capital. For that, I have two goals for 2022. And those two goals are more walks and riding my bike again.

Walking

In Corvallis, I opted to walk every day to class. It gave me time to think and enjoy simply being in the moment. I could walk everywhere and it was great. Now, when I try to walk, I find I have no destination. So I’ve been looking to change that. I’ve recently gotten into Pok√©mon Go this past year and downloaded Pikmin Bloom as a way to encourage walking. Now going out has a destination and I couldn’t be happier. This year, I want to ramp up my walks and make them more rewarding. Between the two apps, I think I’m on the right track.

Biking

I bought an electric bike. Right before the Pandemic… The good news, last year I finally put it together. How many times have I ridden it? Once… I went from biking every day in college to nothing. So this year, we are going to course correct. I want to ride and I’m going to use my brother to help me get back in the habit. He’s started riding a lot this last year and he clearly has found a motivation I am lacking. So the easiest way forward is to join him. Sibling outings until I’m comfortably riding on my own again. I’ve felt rather homebound for the last couple years with my anxiety, so I’m hoping bike rides will help restore some of the freedom I lost. It’ll be nice to bike to work instead of taking the bus and should I need to get somewhere, it’ll hopefully be less of an ordeal than it has been for the last two years.


Happy New Year! That’s it for the article! Overall, I’m hopeful 2022 is going to be a great year. I’ve taken a lot of time for myself during the Pandemic and have come away better for it. Cheers to 2022!

January 2022 Newsletter: The Clock keeps ticking

It’s reflection month! Each year I like to take time to look back at my life and see what I’ve accomplished and how far I have yet to go. There are two times I typically do this: September, my birth month, and January, the start of the year itself. The Pandemic has forced me to reassess a lot of my goals and find what I value.

A Look Back At 2019, 2020, and 2021

2019 was without a question a horrible year for me. My anxiety was at an all time high, I was working a dead end job of two years, and to round it off my father passed away. At 26, my life was unraveling before my eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Come 2020, I was ready for a fresh start.

The months following my fathers death were extremely difficult. A handful of friends knew and that was that. After October, I simply showed up to work and did my job. October 2019 was major life event one. Major life event two was The Pandemic. And I threw my hands up. I said enough and quit my job. Originally the plan was to work until I paid off my student debt and while I can handle a lot of stress, The Pandemic pushed me over the edge. I was put in a no win situation and my only real option was to quit.

2021 was consumed by the job search. For 6 months I strategized and learned the best practices. Three to Five applications a week, weekly meetings with a recruiter, and a completely reworked resume. On top of this, I was posting to LinkedIn every couple of weeks and keeping a strong presence with my network.

October was a tough month where I was studying to be an insurance agent, only to fail the exam. I am now working part-time and have recovered the money I lost during The Pandemic. Life has slowed down to a crawl and slowly but surely I am finding solid ground.

2022

Looking ahead, I have a better grasp on how I want to tackle my challenges head on. I’ve learned that I can persevere no matter the circumstance and my circumstances could be far worse right now. I am better off now than I was 6 months ago and that’s all I can really ask for. My main task for this upcoming year is to pay off my student loans. $14,000 left and frozen till May, I’m feeling I can turn my fortune around. It’ll mean extra hours at work but ultimately I believe it will be worth it in the end. I’m going to double down on coding once more and obtain certificates by completing coursework. In the coming month I’ll go over my goals in more detail but those are the most practical ones.

A Look Ahead for January

As has become somewhat tradition for this blog, I’ll be dedicating a lot of time to reflection. It’ll be an article focused month, most likely in the form of a new years resolution post and a look at the blog itself. The blog has undergone many changes throughout the years, so I always find it nice to take a look back.

This Year

The main goal is to get my fourth ‘Special Series’ month set in stone. I have been flip flopping back and forth this last year between a horror month and a short story month. Outside of that the blog is in a great spot. Mental Health, Poetry, and Sustainability Month have all been wonderful to write. The last aspect of my writing that I want to work on is writing short stories, hence why the fourth series is my most difficult.


That’s it. We are now in 2022. I can hold my head high knowing I persevered and survived. This year will put what I’ve learned to the test and I have to say I’m excited. Cheers to the new year and here’s to hoping prosperity finds you. This year I’m going to be trying polls! My hope is they spark a little more engagement and lead to more discussion in the comments.

A look back at the last Decade

The planning phases are nearly done for my blog. I have posts planned and ideas for branching my writing outside of WordPress. It took a Pandemic, but I’m slowly getting there. As the world ends, I’ve had time to reflect on my current predicament and take stock, something I recommend everyone do periodically throughout their lives. As we delve into the new decade, I wanted to take a look back at how far I’ve come and what’s next.

10 years ago today

Twenty-Ten. My God. A lifetime ago. I was a Sophomore in High School and a scrawny cross country runner. I went to class, played video games, and ran; that was my life. Fall was cross country and come Spring, track and field. Socially awkward, I tried to impress everyone, and really only had a few close friends. I had a High School crush, someone I had known since the first grade, and life was relatively well. It was the year after my Freshman year and if my faded memory serves, I was happy. I’d go as far as saying it was the peak of my High School years. Then came Twenty-Eleven, my Junior year. This was the year it all began to fall apart. I brushed off my childhood crush and a week before homecoming found out she was dating another runner. Had I had the courage then, I wonder how things might have turned out differently. My whole love life in High School was a complete mess to be honest and what could’ve been never ended up being. My 4.0 GPA began to waver and I simply stopped caring whether I succeeded or failed. This was the year I applied for a couple colleges and chose Oregon State for my studies; it was also the year I tried to get my family to go to counseling. Looking back now, it’s clear that I was depressed, so as you can imagine, I was not in the best shape going into my Senior year.

Twenty-Twelve. Twenty-Twelve in all reality, was my ticket year. I had one singular goal; to graduate and prep for College. I grew out my hair to the point it covered my eyes and stumbled my way into College. Years of Alcohol abuse by my Father had left it’s mark and I had the foresight then to know I had to remove myself from the environment I was born into. My great escape, if you will.

Twenty-Twelve

This was my transition year. My Father, in all likelihood, was too drunk to notice I was even in college. Regardless, looking back, this was a fantastic year for me. I had successfully done it; I had removed myself from my haunting household. This was a year filled with chaos but I have always had the drive to be better and I used that as my compass. From pre-engineering to undeclared to pre-business, I had successfully transitioned to where I needed to be. The College of Business saved my life and while in the end I was ultimately pulled back to Hell with chains only Hellfire can break, I am still eternally grateful for Oregon State and the opportunities it provided me. I would say I could never repay the debt, but I’ve currently been paying that down over the last year and it’s now a much more manageable amount than it was. While I’ve told this story before, I think my experience throughout college is worth sharing. The more I tell it, the more I can see my growth and finds ways to improve even further. My Freshman year ended with a choice; continue College or drop out. If I continued, I would essentially be on my own, with sporadic funds from my parents. Dropping out would’ve been easy and I knew I would essentially be signing a death sentence for myself, so I chose to stay.

Twenty-Seventeen

… Five years later. Haha, you didn’t think I’d go over the entirety of my college career, again? Did you? If you’re curious, check out my Journey’s End series where I reflected upon my Journey through College as a final project for my Leadership class. The Twenty-Sixteen, Twenty-Seventeen school year was hands down the best year of my life. Everything that had been set in motion had come to pass and I not only realized that my dreams were achievable, but that I had actually accomplished them. Every goal I had set for myself, I had accomplished and I had become the man I had always wanted to be. Come June, when I walked, I hugged our Dean before throwing my cap up and grabbing life by the horns. But I had made a mistake and hindsight is always 20-20… For now, I could revel in my success and know, that despite every challenge I had faced, I had rose above and made it. Not simply tell myself I had made it, but actually made it.

Present Day

Ok, so not quite present day. In a nutshell, I graduated into a strong economy, and found work relatively quick. I’ve been with the same company, in the same role for the last 2 years now. On paper, I look great. And to be honest, I still believe I am in a good spot. I am ready for my next big adventure and I finally know how I want to get there. I want to go abroad to study Business Analytics or at the very least, go to Portland State University. After a Masters in Analytics, I want to further my studies with a PHD in Sustainability. And I am gearing up for logistics driven, supply chain management roles. Shame it took a Pandemic and weeks left to my own thoughts to realize this. But ultimately, I think this is where I will be happiest. I won’t know until I get there, but it’s the best picture I have had since graduation. And that was my Grand Mistake. I spent so much time doing what I thought I should do to be better, by the time I graduated I had no idea what I actually wanted. Necessary? Perhaps. But a part of me will always wonder.

In the Meantime….

I am applying my logistical and analytical mindset to this blog. Call it the missing link if you will, but I’m excited. I have time to write and I’m going to use it. The Pandemic has actually given me the courage to speak up when typically I have kept my head down and simply done my job. LinkedIn is becoming home to business related articles written from the heart (I’ve written one article, but the ideas are there!). No new poetry for a bit as I compile all the poems I’ve written into a book and publish hopefully during World Poetry month! And I’ve reformatted how I ask for donations based on feedback as I want to make it as easy as possible to support me as well as fun. I am cutting into my emergency fund right now, so any help is much appreciated. As always, comment below; I love hearing from everyone!


Payments!

This is still in its experimental phase! I am happy with what I have set up but if you have suggestions, please, please, please, tell me! How it’ll work is below is one link. Click on the link and you’ll be directed to my Payment page. Three options: Patreon, which is set up monthly, Ko-fi as a one time payment of increments of $3 so you can pay per post or whenever, and a simple payment button that’ll send the funds directly to my Paypal. In addition to the donation page being cleaned up, I will also be making it a point that if you like my content, please, please, please, share with your friends! I love having a community and my philosophy has typically been, “build it and they shall come”. Since I’ve finished up my planning phases for content flow and structure, I realized this is silly. Yes, great content is important, but sharing is part of human nature! So remember, give this blog a shout out anytime you think a friend might enjoy an article, it truly does help! And without further ado, below is the link to support this blog!

Support this blog!

Also, let me know what you think of the new format!

The Passion Dilemma

A title written, never finished. Perhaps, now, a fitting time to add words to a page and bring an article to life. As part of my ongoing project, I’m taking old posts never published and breathing new life into them.

This article was started October 24th, 2017 and the last timestamp shows 10:49pm And given the title, it’s fitting. A question without an answer and in fact, the question that produces more and more questions than it ever has answers.

A little while back I wrote “The Happiness Equation” as an update post to simply put thoughts to paper and try to make sense of my ever changing world. A reflection piece and one that I’ve since reflected upon.

As I translate my jumbled thoughts, a clear picture begins to emerge and while it’s still incomplete, it’s better than what I had before.

In a matter of speaking, I hit the emergency brake while I was still driving.

I let the stepping stones sink into the shallows of the river for one last glimpse of childhood and I’m glad. I’m not ready to drop my flame just yet, the real question is figuring out how brightly it burns and where.

Career wise, I’m in a good spot. I’ve moved laterally within my organization and my role is keeping my life fresh. I’m slowly learning to relax and take a breath.

My career goals have become increasingly a checklist. Every time I talk, it sounds like I’m trying to tick my box. Good or bad? Hard to say but I need to chill. My lifelong problem has been I always try to skip a few steps. I see point A and point B but tend to miss everything in between. So now it’s time to deconstruct and analyze. No more talk about College and where I was, the conversation must turn to where I am.

So, where am I? My passion is I enjoy helping others. I love the process of learning and sharing to those who might find what I have to say interesting. Outside of that, I can’t really say who I am. Writing as a hobby? Great. Photography? Enjoyable when I get out and take photos. I learn skills only to see no end, the constant acquisition of progress for the sake of progress. I stay relevant for the sake of being relevant and that is concerning. I said my career was a checklist when in reality it applies to my life as a whole.

I keep building and then breaking, to what end? Instead of thriving, I am simply struggling to survive. I can’t find my “why” even if it hit me across the face. Perhaps I’ve reached a point of insanity, trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results yet I keep trying.

I change the angle and still see the same road. I will be the first to admit I am broken and where once I repaired, now I begin to fracture. And that’s the beauty of life, riding the highest highs and lowest lows. The fact that my heart feels ready to burst at any moment and spread its warmth like confetti all over my cubicle is a good thing. It means I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone. Too fast? Too soon? Too Much? Ain’t that always the case.

My anxiety has ensnared me and I wonder as the chains break, that they weren’t holding the foundation underneath. I’ve been short of breath and my body wants to freeze, however, I’m not going to let it. My list is ever growing shorter and the page is about to flip unto a new chapter. As I learned in cross country: strength, confidence, and desire. I haven’t come this far only to fail now.

I am learning to trust once more and opening my heart (queue the eye rolls). No more paranoia and no more fear. I breathe and feel my heart beat, and if I’m alive, I can move forward. One step, one foot, slowly (if only, I’m running at this point), and with a map in hand. I now know where I’m headed and where I need to go.


Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed my content. It’s been ages since I’ve finished an article and am glad I can hit the “schedule post” button for this one. A fun little ramble as I go through my life and try not to vibe “hot mess”. Next month I’ll try to have one article published regarding mental health and the topic I’ve picked is anxiety. When will that be? God only knows. Outside of that, expect more poems and short stories sprinkled throughout the year as I reach the next chapter in my life and after I’ve had some time to swallow a few more chill pills.

cheers!

– Mike

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