A few weeks ago, my computer was doing an update. This prevented me from working on my projects, & I wanted to spend family time, so I didn’t use the computer in my bedroom. Bored & without anything better to do while I waited, I decided to go down a rabbit hole of looking up my childhood friends & see what they were up to now.
& it ended up being a very warm, heartwarming experience.
One is an environmental engineer. One came out as nonbinary & queer & became a doula. One who as a kid, I falsely judged to be least likely to be successful, became a successful engineer as well. Another works as a computer programmer. The mom of two childhood friends of mine who helped watch me as a kid is now a website designer.
Then I looked up some of my Dad’s childhood & high school friends. All of the ones I looked up were still alive & doing well. One is a successful lawyer with a nice house & car. One, a drummer who might have played in a band with my dad is still a drummer & now works at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville. One guy who worked as a server alongside my dad now owns his own restaurant. One is still a successful investor & stock broker.
And to see so many people either of us knew when we were younger? To see them thriving in more ways than I ever would have suspected? To see that legitimately every one of them was doing something I’d consider cool & they all seemed to be living uncommon & interesting lives?
It genuinely brought me so much joy & was almost a bit transcendent in a way. They had their place in each of our lives, & now they’ve moved on & are out in the world doing things & seemingly living good lives.
And it also put things in perspective that as much as I may feel like I haven’t done enough or that I’m a failure sometimes, it occurred to me that should they ever look me up, & see that I’m an actor & artist & writer & whatnot? That they’d probably feel the same way about me. I may doubt myself often, but people probably think what I do is cool too even when I don’t feel that way about myself.
It gives me hope that things do go right, & people can become what they want to, & that even people who we’ve outgrown but still wish well can thrive ♥
I feel guilty about unsubscribing from email newsletters.
Do you ever feel that way?
You’re checking your personal email account & there’s this one newsletter you just skip over when you see it. Like, it doesn’t even register in your mind when they email you anymore. Your eyes just skip past like it’s not even there at all.
One day, you realize you have a lot of unread emails. You take a closer look at them & see The Newsletter.
“Oh, I forgot I receive their emails still. Boy, there sure are a lot of them. All of them are unread.”
“When was the last time I opened one?”
Sometimes you only pay notice because the sender sends you one of those “Hey, let me know if you still want to receive my emails” emails, which typically inform you it’s been like a year since you even OPENED one, much less read it.
Or it’s a newsletter that has good information that has helped you in the past. Sure, you might open them, but you always make them unread without reading them so you can read them at some point in the future.
You say to yourself,
“There’s at least a hundred of these clogging up my inbox! I have 3,052 unread emails, but I feel like none of them are really important.”
You take a look at The Newsletter.
“Pretty boring. Why did I even sign up for it? Oh, that’s right. I got a free ebook if I did.”
You scroll down to the bottom to click the “unsubscribe” button. Should be pretty easy. You haven’t read The Newsletter in more than a year, the information is often mediocre, or maybe it’s a store you don’t really shop at.
But that’s when the sweat starts running down your face. Your finger or your cursor hovers, as uncertain as a chihuahua at an airport, over the unsubscribe button.
“But I LIKE supporting this company. If I’m not following them, this poor person is going to go out of business.” You say, if the email in question is the newsletter of a small business.
No, they won’t. You’re not doing them any favors by not reading their newsletter. All you’re doing is potentially costing them money if they have to pay for a certain number of subscribers, & making their send-to-open ratio a whole lot lower. If you’re not buying from them, & you never open their newsletter, you are not actually helping them, only feeling like you are. So unless it’s your mom’s business & you’re her only email subscriber, if you don’t open or ever buy from the newsletter, HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON.
“But SOMETIMES I learn something interesting.” You say, if the newsletter in question is informative.
Yes, you might. BUT ONLY IF YOU OPEN AND READ IT. You are literally learning nothing by staying subscribed to a newsletter you never read. NADA. So here, you must face a choice: either begin opening & READING these emails so you can learn what you should have been learning anyways, or HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON.
“But sometimes they have good coupons! I don’t want to miss out on a sale. What if they have something I might want?” You say, looking at the marketing newsletter from a medium/large.
A classic case of FOMO. You don’t wanna unsubscribe from the Groupon newsletter because sometimes they have sales you want to take advantage of. FINE. But if you never open the newsletters or never use the coupons they send (NEWSFLASH: probably because you don’t actually like shopping there are much as you think you do), YOU ARE NOT HELPING YOURSELF OR THE COMPANY. Also, especially if it’s a large company, literally hundreds or even THOUSANDS of people might unsubscribe from it daily. To them, you’re just a number. They’re not going to go out of business because you unsubscribed. No tears will be shed in the marketing department when you HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON.
Moral of the story: if you never read it, never use it, or don’t need to use it, HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON. No one who creates the newsletter is probably going to cry over you unsubscribing. There’s really no reason to feel guilty about unsubscribing.
And here’s the most magical part of all: if at some point in the future, you realize you miss the newsletter…
YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE TO IT AGAIN!
*cues balloons & confetti
And if you’re afraid of forgetting the newsletter, write down a list somewhere of what you have unsubscribed from.
You really have nothing to lose by unsubscribing. So how about you hit that unsubscribe button & experiment with not getting the newsletter, at least for a while.
I have deemed 2019 the year of my “second childhood”. I want it to be a year filled with as much childlike freedom & imagination & fun & play & believing anything is possible, as I can fit into a year.
But at the same time, I also have deemed it the year I stop crapping around & start acting like an adult. I want to stop using the “my parents will pick up my slack” line as a convenient excuse to be, at times, a broke slob.
How can these two things co-exist when they seem to be moral opposites?
Because each exists on its own spectrum. Yes. I believe that you can be chillin’ & paying down your credit card debt while playfully imagining colorful owls swinging on a swing set. Why?
Because the adult never had to come at the exclusion of the childlike.
It’s a cultural myth. Coming from a viewpoint, no less, that somehow thinks that being stodgy, stressed out, about to have a breakdown, unhealthy, & unhappy is more respectable & “responsible” than someone who lives whimsically, eccentrically, playfully.
“It was illusion, the way they told me being grown-up had to hurt,
They told me happiness was all a scam,
All around me I saw adults falling, into the depths of the rat race
They’d created, thought it was the way it had to be
But they were just trying to sell escapes to you & they were jealous of your dreams”
And recently, I’ve really been learning a lot about & finally IMPLEMENTING a lot of gamification in my life. Mostly thanks to reading “Level Up Your Life” by NerdFitness creator Steve Kamb & beginning to use the awesome Habitica app.
Google defines gamification as:
the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.
In other words, it’s about using fun, playful strategies to make things that might be boring or just not as fun as they could be into a form of play.
Which is why gamification is the primary tool I’m going to use in 2019 to achieve both my themes of “second childhood” & “greater self-responsibility”.
Here are a few specific things I’ll be doing to combine the themes using gamification that you can use too:
Giving cool, fun names to tasks that aren’t necessarily inherently fun. Instead of “clean your pet cages”, the task can be called & thought of as “caring for your precious zoo animals”. Instead of shopping, you’re Indiana Jones hunting for a treasured artifact or a hero gathering survival supplies or a pirate digging for buried gold.
Treating everything like a quest. Pretend everything is a quest or a step necessary to achieve a quest, or pretend you’re an awesome character as you’re going about your daily tasks (either a character from fiction, history, or your own creation).
Breaking things down into smaller, more manageable steps. Instead of trying to clean your bathroom all at the same time, try cleaning just one different part of it every day. Sundays, you might just clean the mirror. Mondays, you might mop. Tuesdays, you might wipe down the counter. Etc. This makes tasks seem less overwhelming & therefore, more likely to get done.
Making sure playfulness is a prominent part of daily life. Use your imagination more to tell stories about what you’re doing & who you are, just like when you were a kid. Take time each day to actually do something playful, whether you actually play or experiment or explore objects/places or even just a fun game on your phone. And if you’re too busy any given day to do that, at the very least you can approach problems & situations with a playful mindset.
Let yourself feel free. Try to see the world again through responsible, but childlike, eyes. Is it really the end of the world if you don’t tackle the WHOLE pile of dishes on the counter? Try to spend less time stressing out about all the things you think you’re not doing well enough at & take more time to just be. Flow through the day. Take your time. Give yourself some space to breathe. Take breaks. Let yourself change course or activities as the mood strikes you. My epic Florida road trip was very playful, but as I was the only one caring for myself, I also was entirely self-reliant.
Start being accountable for the results of your life. I was googling the idea of self-reliance when I came across this awesome quote from The Art of Manliness’ article, “Developing a Self-Reliant Mindset“. “[…] while it’s easy to get by by having other people do everything for you, ‘the trouble is, when you’re not self-reliant, you’ll never do more than just get by’.” I think that quote is one of the most important things I’ve ever heard. The truth is that nobody cares as much about your world or your environment or your dreams as you do, so if you’re always blaming others for how things turn out or when you don’t get what you want or always putting the responsibility on them to make things happen for you, you’re always going to be let down. Start accepting responsibility. Why? When you hand responsibility off to someone else, you’re in a sort of disempowered “victim” mindset. But when you take responsibility & look at your life & can healthily say, “Yes, it’s my fault that this didn’t turn out right.” You’re acknowledging yourself as source of the problem. But when you’re the problem, you’re also empowering yourself to be the SOLUTION. If it’s your problem, you can also fix it.
Playfulness & self-reliance are compatible, & if you want to be a next-level person, both are essential.
How are you going to mix playfulness & self-reliance this year?
I started out in the blackest pit, but I could still see a small patch of yellow sunlight as I lied in the bottom of the hole. I scribbled on papers around me; this time I’m going to get out this time I’m going to get out. With moist yearning eyes I raised my eyes towards the sky & hoped that some bit of warmth would make its way through to the inside.
That I would not only make it, but making SOMETHING of it. Something I could be proud of.
The roaring cacophony of quiet drowned out myself as I stood at the edge of a sea I had no knowledge of, falling into the same coping pattern I had always escaped from radical change by using.
She stood at the top of the pit, spitting down onto me & shrieking with laughter. I was dragged through the dirt. They threw putrid mud down into the hole, cackling at my inability to rise up. I numbed out, tried to dissociate from my experience in any way possible. Even if the whole numbing was a temporary fix, a question, possibly dangerous. But it couldn’t be more dangerous than it would be to leave me unchecked, left to my own devices, exposed & able to do worse things. She was not my worst enemy, nor was he, nor were they. I was. So I faded back just enough that I could crawl through each day & wake up again the next. Never enough time. That was okay though, maybe better. But I could never escape enough.
Was there really anything beautiful about acting as the tragic figure I’d written myself to be, but never really wanted to become?
I had just come out of the whirlpool with the new knowledge that what I had been seeking HAD NOT BEEN THERE. I finally had the experience, but it was worth much less than the price of admission.
Then the world exploded; all that I knew fell out from under me & was replaced, rebuilt, reinvented.
In the best way possible.
I woke up one day. It felt sudden, but I’d been slowly waking up for the past few weeks. And it struck me as soon as sunlight touched my skin: I was becoming sad less often. I had realized my sorrow for what it was: an illusion I had firmly believed in & lived, but one that didn’t have to be real for me any longer. It HAD been real: the pain was too fresh, the blood too vivid, the scars too deep for it to have been all in my mind. But as easily as it had planted its deadly seed deep inside the soil of my meadow, I could slowly pull the roots out from under the soil & destroy the plant before it destroyed the whole world I saw. The whole world I wanted to believe in.
And once I realized I had let the tiny yearning to feel something, the tiny yearning to understand melancholy, grow to such ugly proportions, it began to dissolve. It ceased to grow. It began to fade back into the darkness which it had come from.
And then another day, I woke up & realized I wasn’t sad anymore.
I have discovered that joy is always more interesting than sorrow. Each day I bask in the pure gloriousness of living that way. I am already a success. The binary of success & failure has always been an illusion. I have cut the threads holding me to what I once was: afraid of the future & afraid of what people would think. And now I am myself again.
I have finally decided what world I want to live in.
I do not have to beat myself down & stay hidden & bleeding under the highway overpass in the darkest night. There is a whole other world on top of this one, layers of worlds, & I am the explorer discovering them all. Each one feeling better than the next, & I am the one finally letting myself feel good. The world I lived in was not tied to circumstance, but to choice. My choice.
I have seen both sides of the coin. I have lived in both dimensions. Both are equally as real, but it is always me who decides which one I will live in. And by the simple shift in perspective; flipping the switch & crawling through folds of energy until I am firmly back on the level I rebirthed myself on. The Vortex is real.
The Universe always had my back. It was always sitting there, hidden in the back row but cheering the loudest of all. It was always rooting for me even when I was afraid that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. Just when I thought all the lights had gone out, the Universe always showed up holding candles, slipping a crumpled piece of paper into my hand which contained a clue for what I should do next.
I found myself. She sat there alone & frightened, but I brought her back into the light. Alone on that dark sacred highway at night, as I drove under the warm yellow streetlights illuminating the smooth dark highway, with the jazz playing deep & quiet & ineffable in the background. & the feeling bubbled up inside me, it frightened me because it was so strong & so sudden, the pure vibrating eternal radiance of the sincerest relieved joy. I found myself on that drive home on the pitch-dark highway as I trusted in the golden radiance & recorded the exact color of moonlight on my arm. The moon shone down around me on the sacred fields & the tiny farmhouse & the sleeping cattle, quiet & smiling & deeply nurturing in the pale blue sacred light.
It turns out, the environment I most needed to change was the environment inside me.
And there I was, slowly & quietly chipping away at the darkness which had held me back for so long. Slowly building a better foundation, brick by brick.
I was afraid to let myself be happy because I was so used to being sad & afraid that a future that felt good was also an uncertain one. At least with sorrow, I had its cold stale hand to hold, a familiarity I knew I could always return to. With sorrow, at least I knew what my future would feel like & how I would cope with it.
When I realized it had all been a sham, the walls shattered, & I found myself free in a meadow of sunlight.
What had once been a darkness I relished & lovingly extracted every ounce of pain from now became a song I’d never liked but heard play too many times on the radio. My old standby patterns weren’t beautiful & tragic – they were just boring, & didn’t allow half enough time for me to merely exist & simply be. Too much of it was shrouded in routine & in monotonous pandering to the politics touted by over-idolized figures I wanted nothing to do with.
Sometimes before I would wonder what it would be like to disappear & reappear somewhere else, my future free & with my slate cleaned.
No baggage to carry, no fight against my own glass ceiling upper limits. And in a way, I have. I have found the hidden door in the forest, concealed behind twisted wooden vines, & I have stepped firmly from the land of darkness & into the light. I have approached the door & grasped the gold handle, stepped in the fallen leaves & heard the crunch of the new moon in the starless sky. I have stood in sudden afternoon light holding that door handle, hand frozen, afraid to move forward, refusing to accept that I AM WORTHY ALREADY.
Too separated to accept that the Universe will always love me anyways.
Too devastated by the secret knowledge that all along, another world has been parading in tandem with this one, & I could have stepped into it at any moment had I been ready sooner.
And then I opened the door.
Sunlight spilled forth. I trust you, I trust you. I picked the road leading in the direction of the same breeze I’d felt on the beach & in the city, one which wordlessly murmurs of home. And I have found that home.
The whole world is fresh. The whole world has been reborn. The Phoenix has risen from the ashes, ready to believe in its own greatness again. She would be proud if she saw me, to see what she becomes. To see she becomes the person she needed when she was a kid.
I know now that I have what it takes & have the tools to do anything & become anything that I choose to. The whole world is new, & yet it’s been there all along, waiting for me. Everything looks different, everything feels different, because now I see everything through the lens of vibrant optimism instead of the mournful, violent grays of sadness. I realized I have a choice in how I feel & what world I choose to see. In whether I struggle to survive, or flourish & thrive.
I feel like I finally decided which world I want to live in.
2017 was definitely an outstanding year. I went on my Epic Florida Road Trip. I rode on a plane for the first time (to go to Houston to see Queen in concert). I saw a lot of amazing bands in concert. l produced a lot of creative work & added to my business. I released my first app, & I published 11 books.
But 2018 is going to be THAT MUCH MORE AMAZING.
Because 2017 gave me the tools & the confidence I need to level up even more this year. For me, the theme of 2018 is: “DO DIFFICULT THINGS WELL”. I really want to challenge myself & grow as a person, so I specifically designed these goals to do just that.
Here’s what I have planned for 2018:
Become a self-made millionaire. This is my top goal because it will help a lot of my other goals happen. I’m going out there to get the good things that I deserve. I do this because I love myself, & I also love a good challenge.
Start eating healthy consistently & exercising daily. Over the past year, I have IMPROVED, but I’m still way behind where I’d like to be as far as healthy habits. I know I could do better. I end up only eating 1-2 servings of vegetables a day. This is due to my “addiction” to processed sugar & non-vegetable foods. I also walk a bit each day, but I can be quite sedentary at times & don’t exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day. Sometimes, I also eat too much sugar. But I want to eat healthier, I know it will help me feel my best & have the most energy, so I’m going to do this.
Live with passion every day. Like Tony Robbins talks about. I’m going to make 2018 my happiest year yet. Making sure I’m living with passion & taking time for self-care are habits that will help me do this.
Publish more books. This year’s book list includes: my Epic Florida Road Trip book. A photography album of artistic photos of the Tampa Bay area. A seven-zine series of photos I took on my road trip. The second zine in my Flowers series of photography zines. A zine of botanical garden photos. Several poetry books. My essay book, Not a Dime a Dozen. A Tarot card dictionary. Several more books for my Wonderful Wildlife & 50 Adorable Facts animal series. The second book in the Summer Hayes series. More issues of Assemblage.
Release my third album of music. I released my second album, “confusion is over”, in 2015. I’ve done some cover songs, but I have not released any more albums or singles since then.
Get a pet tortoise & pet crested geckos. I’m currently prepping for a red foot tortoise hatchling right now & I’m doing a ton of research. Tortoises are fascinating & so sweet. I’m really looking forward to adding one to my critter family. Sometime later in the year, I plan on getting some baby crested geckos too.
Create & release my first Udemy course. I’m working on a course RIGHT NOW that’s based on my 101 Ways to Love Yourself course. I still have a pretty long way to go on it, but it’s going to be an amazing, comprehensive course. It will have more than 100 videos, many worksheets, podcast versions of each episode, & much more.
Go to A LOT more amazing concerts & other awesome places/events. I have some of these activities planned already. I’m making sure I always have something to look forward to doing. I learned in the past year that adding to my “experience library” is something that adds immense value to my life.
Release at least two more apps for iOS devices. Last year, I released my “Adorable Fall Stickers” app for iOS devices, & I have a few more apps in the works.
Travel to a state I’ve never been to, travel somewhere else in Florida, & travel to another country. This was on the list last year. I did go somewhere else in Florida & to another state, both of which were goals on the previous list. I’m refreshing this goal because I want to do the same thing this year but with different places.
Become a certified ethical hacker. Ethical hacking has always fascinated me. If nothing more it will help me educate myself about web security for my own benefit. I bought the Udemy course, & now I just have to DO THE COURSE.
Go on another road trip. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals. I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
Buy an RV. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals, & I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
Become a life coach. I love helping & coaching other people achieve their goals & live their best lives. I realized that last year, so becoming a life coach is definitely going to be something I pursue in 2018.
Direct, produce, write, film, & act in a full-length indie film. This was on last year’s list & I didn’t do it. Which means I HAVE to do it this year. I love film, I love acting, & I think it would be super-awesome to actually make my own film. I’ve completed four short films, but I’m taking the bull by the horns this time & making a feature-length film.
Expand my network & make genuine friends. Everybody can benefit from this, & it’s something I definitely need to do. It’s also outside of my current comfort zone, so you know what that means? I have to do it to grow.
Get all the domains I have purchased but never made websites out of made into websites & making money for me. I currently own 10 or 11 domains, & I’m only using three of them. I’ve owned some of the domains for years & still haven’t made them public. This is embarrassing. They’re sitting around costing me money & no one can see them. So VERY SOON, all these sites are going to be up & running, & I’m going to post links to them on this blog when I do!
Become a fashion designer & start selling my first original clothing design. I have some great designs that I will release over the next few months. I’m so excited about seeing them when they’re done. I’ll be even more thrilled to be able to wear them myself, & being able to share them with others.
Walk a marathon. Last year, I walked a 5k. I need to challenge myself physically. I don’t enjoy running, but I did want a goal that was out of my (current) league, so I chose this. I know it will require a lot of training, but I’m ready to train. This will also help me achieve my goal of making 2018 my healthiest year yet.
Launch several products that I have in the works. Many of these are things I’ve wanted to do for forever. It’s time I made them something you can buy!
Complete all the online courses I have purchased. I bought them, & like my domains, they can’t benefit me until I use them.
Read 75 books. In 2016, I read almost no books. In 2017, I read 57 books. My goal for 2018 is 75 books. Another stretch goal, but I’m going to do my best! Besides, for a book-lover like me, the idea of reading 75 books & gaining all that knowledge makes me drool.
Interview more people for my blog. I love doing this, & I have a few people slated for this right now. It’s so much fun, I love the value I’m able to provide whomever I’m interviewing, & I always learn a ton.
Grow my online store. I have so many products, product ideas, & new designs that I can’t wait to show you!
Become more of a minimalist. I made progress here in the last year (it was on the 2017 list too) but I have a lot more progress to make. To echo what I said in my 2017 blurb about it,
“This means excluding things – physical things, mental things, wasted time, unhappiness – to make more room for the things that really do feel good. I’m not trying to have as few things as possible, but as many things that make me happy with as few unnecessary things as possible. I really like this quote from this article I was reading earlier, titled Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi. ‘Everything in my life become my favorite thing.’ I want to live my life like that. “
Become a contributor to the Entrepreneur Magazine website. They’re one of my favorite websites. It would be an honor to be considered “good enough” to be a contributor. This will require me to improve & hone my writing skills, so it’s a good challenge.
Partner up with some of my favorite brands & companies in a way which benefits us both. With these new products & new ideas that I will launch in 2018, I’m going to add a LOT of value to the brands I partner up with.
You can stay updated on these projects & follow me on my favorite platforms with these links:
I signed up for Groupon a little before Thanksgiving. I knew people who got really good deals on it so I went to check it out, & I was impressed. They had some really, really good deals on things. I bought several Christmas presents from them. Even more interesting to me than the “Groupon Goods” was that Groupon sold were tickets/admissions to real-life experiences in my area. I found some amazing things I never would have thought to look up, & at great prices!
I love Groupon. I still do. I think it’s a great tool for finding cool experiences you can have in your area or somewhere you’re traveling, & getting a great deal on those experiences. It’s got some pretty nice discounts on things you might want to buy yourself or someone else for a gift. I love that it makes me aware of things I might want to do & experiences I might want to have.
STOP EMAILING ME SO OFTEN.
I wouldn’t mind getting a Groupon newsletter. Getting deals sent to your inbox, making you aware of deals they have, & reminding me of Groupon’s existence are all very good things that I have no problem with.
But getting what seemed like 3+ emails EVERY SINGLE DAY from Groupon (or anyone) is just way too much noise. Even after Black Friday was done, they just wouldn’t stop emailing me. I get a lot of newsletters, & I don’t have time to read most of them. I don’t like being emailed constantly. I don’t like subscribing to a newsletter where as soon as an email arrives, it feels like a burden to read or something to frantically keep up with. If it starts feeling that way, there’s a 99% chance I’ll either delete all the emails as soon as they arrive or unsubscribe entirely.
There is a really easy solution to this. One that allows the brand to increase the amount I’ll spend with them, stop bothering me with emails, AND keep me as an email subscriber.
I had the same problem with Zulily a year or so ago. Zulily, the clothing-&-gift deal website, is kind of like Groupon — great deals, limited-time-offers, cool things to buy. But they also shared a penchant for sending me way too many emails. Minimum of once a day, there would be an email from Zulily. I started deleting the emails without even looking at them.
I was about to unsubscribe completely.
But Zulily had a nice little feature that I discovered on my way to unsubscribe.
You could choose how often Zulily emailed you. Once a day, once a week, or never. They also have a “Snooze” feature where you can keep your current settings but not receive any emails from them for 30 days.
Some email newsletters just piss you off because they send an obnoxious amount of emails & give you nothing in return. With those, you just want the emails to stop. With a newsletter like Zulily (or Groupon) that sends you good stuff but just emails too often, you’re willing to negotiate. You WANT to stay subscribed, you just don’t want constant emails.
I picked “Once a Week”, & Zulily has never annoyed me again. I have purchased way more stuff from them AFTER decreasing the frequency of emails than I would have if they kept emailing me every day, because then I would have unsubscribed completely & not thought about them very often.
When I started getting annoyed at how often Groupon emailed me, I clicked on the link at the bottom of the screen that said “change frequency of emails”. I thought, “Awesome, I can fix this like I did with Zulily!” I was excited & relieved. But to my disappointment, the only choices you had were to either unsubscribe completely, change the region the deals were for, or unsubscribe from individual types of newsletters, like Groupon Goods, Groupon Getaways, etc.
No option to change how many times PER WEEK I got an email. For any newsletter that sends out “daily deals”, I think this being able to opt out of just those & have control over the frequency of emails is essential.
With no other choice, I did what I had to do.
I unsubscribed from the Groupon newsletter.
I think a lot of brands are afraid that if you don’t get emails from them at least once a day that you’ll forget about them. If this is the reason these brands don’t offer an option to reduce how often you get an email, this doesn’t make any sense to me. Annoying me by constantly telling me about how many sales you have makes me LESS LIKELY to read ANY of the emails because I find it overwhelming, even if the content is good. I’m only going to spend my money when I WANT to spend my money.
I don’t like feeling like when a brand is pressuring me into impulse buying stuff I don’t want or need, rather than making meaningful purchases when I feel like it & developing a mutually respectful relationship with the brand.
If I unsubscribe, I have to manually go to the website & look for deals if I want to buy from them. I’m not going to do that, say, once a week, so I’d be seeing their stuff a bare minimum of 4X more if they gave me the option of only receiving an email weekly vs me unsubscribing altogether. Sure, I might miss some deals that I might have been interested in, but I’ll still buy way more stuff from the brand because I’ll still be subscribed to their newsletter.
Groupon, if you’re reading this, I will gladly re-subscribe to your newsletter once you offer an option to only be emailed weekly. I miss seeing what you have to offer!
Marketing should be more like a mutually-beneficial conversation & less like someone shoving an ad in your face. I know you’re better than that, & I think the payoff you’ll get from giving your customers more email options will be more than worth any effort you would put into implementing this.
I don’t know how yet, but I have some exciting ideas. But the how is not the important thing just yet.
The important thing is that I’ve decided.
Declaring this goal publicly is equally important. Being publicly held accountable for ACHIEVING the goal you set is supposed to be really helpful. Public accountability makes things happen.
So I need your help, just one tiny favor from you:
HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.
That way if I wimp out & DON’T do this, I’ll know that other people were counting on me to hustle & make my goals happen. I’ll feel embarrassed that I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’ll be disappointed. I hate disappointing myself, but when it’s only you you’re answering to, it’s easy to say, “Well, I guess it just wasn’t the right time yet.” When really, you could have done it if you had a reason to.
If you knew you HAD to. If you burnt all your boats & went for it.
By saying this to you, I’m making it so I HAVE to do this.
Not that I don’t have very compelling personal reasons “why” even without anyone knowing about this. I do know my “why”. My “why” is because being a millionaire would allow me to live my best life, provide for my family beyond their wildest dreams, help elevate & empower & promote other artists/writers/musicians/awesome people, & to do my part to take care of the world. They deserve me living my best life. I deserve me living my best life. I feel like achieving that level of success so I can do those things is my duty. Because I can’t lift up other people as much as I’d like to if I’m in the pit too.
IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE ALIVE, YOU MIGHT AS WELL TRY TO BE ALL YOU CAN.
I know I deserve to live my best life, because I’ve always, ever since I was a kid, known I was destined to. I’ve definitely had my dark times & doubts, but they never were able to kill that underlying thread, the message deeply entwined in who I am that one day, I AM going to make it big.
When things have been dark, that knowledge that I’m meant for something greater — the greatest happiness, the greatest success, recognition, wealth, & intentional & good-feeling fame — is what’s allowed me to rise back into the light. I have always been heading towards these things.
I hold myself accountable to a very high level. But even I sometimes wimp out & play small & think, “maybe I don’t deserve this”. Or I stop when I don’t know how to move forward & let myself get distracted by other things. Or I’m afraid of succeeding. Afraid I won’t like it once I get there. & then I don’t make it happen. I don’t try push enough. Then at the end of the year, I look back with some disappointment that I didn’t do what I TOLD MYSELF I was going to do.
& because I’m getting very tired of falling back on playing small, on not LETTING myself have the money & the success & the HAPPINESS that feel far away even though I know they’re totally within my reach, I’m trying something new this year.
That’s why I need your help.
I just read the amazing “ What Happens When You Take Full Responsibility For Your Life” article here on Medium from one of my favorite writers, Benjamin P. Hardy. The article is about taking radical responsibility for your life & actually COMMITTING to making your dreams happen. Unconditionally & unquestionably RESOLVING to achieve your goals. I highly recommend you read it if you want to make 2018 your best year EVER.
In his article, he challenged the reader to make a big decision & then make sure everyone else knows about your decision so they can hold you accountable. The reason it encourages success is because people like being seen as consistent with what others believe they are. You like seeing YOURSELF as being consistent with what you believe you are. This is one way you “burn your boats”.
Your mind will almost literally move mountains to keep up with what it believes its standards are.
This is why people who don’t believe they deserve something will go to great lengths to sabotage any sort of success. They can’t believe they deserve it, so they don’t let themselves have it. Even if having it would be way easier than resisting it.
This is also why people who believe in their own success will overcome even the most crushing of setbacks & achieve outstanding things. People can do miraculous things when they really believe they can do something.
People also don’t like letting other people down, because disappointing others & not living up to their expectations doesn’t feel good. Especially if they expect something great from you & if they genuinely want something for you which is in your actual best interest.
So, if I’m not a millionaire by the end of 2018, I’m going to feel disappointed because I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’m not going to feel like I was consistent with what was expected of me. With what I TOLD YOU I was going to do.
But I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I believe this IS possible for me. Even if I can’t see exactly how yet. But I do have a lot of options, a lot of ways it could pan out.
Sure, it’s an ambitious goal. It’s by far my most ambitious yearly goal yet.
But I’m no stranger to making big goals. At the beginning of this year, I made some pretty big plans about traveling by myself for the first time, & they weren’t even very specific goals. ALSO, a lot of the goals I set at the beginning of the year were NOT things I actually expected I would accomplish this year. I made them with good intentions, but I also put them on there like, “Well, I hope this happens this year (but deep down inside it’s probably not going to)”.
& I still made them happen. Because somewhere along the line, I started genuinely believing they WERE possible.
That’s how 2017 ended up being the most freaking amazing year of my life. I went on an epic road trip around Florida by myself (my first trip away from home), traveled from Tampa to Houston to see Queen (one of my all-time favorite bands) in concert, saw a lot of my other favorite bands in concert, ran my first 5K, published numerous books, acted in a play, started investing in the stock market even though I knew nothing about it when I started, grew my online business, started a podcast, bought my absolute DREAM guitar (Fender Telecaster Thinline 72′ Series), & started my own weekly show on YouTube. I also really figured out what I wanted & who I wanted to be.
An amazing freaking year. & yet at the beginning of the year I assumed the year would be cool but also kind of lame, & that I wouldn’t really move forward much. That it would be just like every other year before it.
But I was wrong. I got out there & made shit happen.
& I learned who I want to become in 2018. What I want. Another piece of the map showing me the way to my best life. The best life that I am actively creating for myself.
It’s time I took radical responsibility for my life. It’s time I stopped playing small & pretending I can’t have or don’t deserve the things that make me light up.
So I’m sending my declaration out there loud & clear. I’m ready. Let’s make this happen.
By the end of 2018, I will be a millionaire. & it’s going to feel really good, in all aspects.
So, will you help me?
Will you hold me accountable?
& I’ll hold you accountable too. Let me know in the comments what you’re going to create for yourself in 2018.
We’ll watch those boats burn together. Then, with no more excuses stopping us from becoming our best selves, we’ll watch 2018 become the most amazing year of our lives yet.
Thank you so much for reading this! If you could click on the APPLAUSE button on the left, that would be fantastic! Hope you have a really great day.
I am much better-equipped to handle life now than I was a year ago. I remind myself of all the ways I am different now, & how this year, I think I can make it.
A year ago I was terrified to even be in the play. I desperately wanted to break out but I was also desperately scared to. I kept deliberating over whether I should or shouldn’t. The whole process terrified me. Now look at me. Going on road trips around the entire state of Florida all by myself. Traveling around the country to go to meaningful concerts. Taking actual strides – big, massive actions – towards those goals I have so desperately loved.
When the Universe speaks to you, you should listen.
I refuse to let others make me feel small. For too long I have shrunk in their presence, packaging myself for them as something easily understood & easily pigeonholed. For much too long I have let them make me feel like I am inferior, in a variety of ways. But I am not easily packaged up, not easily defined, not easily categorized or classified or described. The world wants me to be just like them. THEY want me to be just like them. Therefore, my greatest rebellion is to be authentically myself & to reinvent myself continually.
“The strong give up & move on, while the weak, the weak give up & stay…”
What do they have that you don’t have? What separates the successful from the unsuccessful? You are made of the same stuff as they are; you have the potential to stand beside them as their equal, just as they did when they were starting to stand next to their heroes as equals. Run to it. You have just as much right to be there as they do. You have just as much right to be there as they do.
Theme of this year :: make life my playground, & love every minute of it. Create that which I know is mine. It is mine.
The sublime moment when you were driving home in the gorgeous afternoon with the perfect lighting & that song was playing. You had never heard it before, but it struck you as being the most beautiful song you had ever heard. When you heard it on the stage, you knew it was.
You listened to the same album three times in the same week. Twice in the same day (funny of him to mention that song). Each time, it became more beautiful. This is where it’s at. You whispered the very first time, & you were right.
“I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them.”It doesn’t matter what they think of me. I do not have to answer to them. A number of them will never understand me, & this is something wear proudly every day. I am glad that I am not like them. I am glad that I am not so simplistic & easily understood that they are able to falsely believe I am the same as they are. Alien. Different. Beautiful & strange. Alive. I am completely myself. I will know when I have found my people, because they will understand me without trying to categorize me.
I am the same age now as you were when you first started. This is incredibly inspiring.
I think of all the things that I am creating for myself. All that I have accomplished in a year & all that I will accomplish. How I not only survived, but thrived. Even when I could have I did not break down & I did not give up. How I fought, tooth & nail, for what was mine. Even when it was unpleasant. I did it. All the projects I am working on are exciting to me. The books I have a deep need to write. I am going to be on that show. The music that flows from me. The art that I see in my mind. Training for that race, & the things I will learn there. Investing, in all aspects. Branching out & connecting with people instead of continuing to hide. Finally getting my shit together. All the places I will go. I know now I have the power to make all of this happen for myself. I am determined as hell, & I will make this happen.
I am wealthier now than those who try to bring me down will ever be.
It didn’t have as much value to me as everyone told me it was going to have. This wasn’t to say it lacked value – the value remained in knowing, & in being able to put a name to experiences. It also contained value in the simple subtraction of being able to tell the difference between the things I really liked & wanted, & the things I felt like I was supposed to enjoy but found unnecessary. The value was in knowing myself a little more.
the difference between what I want to do & should be doing / weekends, weekends spent playing / the breeze & sunlight reminded me of when I was a child / I remembered lying under the umbrella on the deck, recording my own radio show with a tape recorder / it was an illusion, the way they told me being grown up had to hurt / they told me happiness was all a scam / all around me I saw adults falling into the depths of the rat race, the rat race they’d created, thought it was the way it had to be / but they were just trying to sell escapes & they were jealous of your dreams / the sign on the wall read happiness was a journey, happiness is an adventure / I thought about how the magic had been missing for quite some time / I needed to carve out a safe space for it to live & make sure I cherished it & welcomed it / whatever it takes, I’ll keep that magic alive
STOP WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP. THERE IS NO OTHER SHOE.
The first time, as they were leaving, I whispered into the deep encompassing warm noise, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I thanked them specifically. I thanked them for what they had given me. I thanked them for being there. A few days later, I knew I had to go there, if only to thank them. To thank them for helping me through one of the toughest periods of my life. Their art saved me, & it was only right that I had the chance to thank them. To show them I am no longer what I was. To love them, & to feel the love. That type of gratitude can be life-changing. Thank you thank you thank you. I made this happen by myself, for myself.
The real value of it wasn’t even in doing it, but rather in the type of person I would become by doing it. In knowing beyond any shadow of doubt that I am capable.
The things that stress out other people will energize me. Being busy energizes me. Working on my art energizes me. Everything I do energizes me.
Without speaking about it, without having to, I was quietly moving myself towards the sunlight & freedom that belonged to me. The Magician. Strength.
I think about how good it will feel when I am there. We will be playing music together & I will know then completely free of doubt that I am exactly where I am meant to be. It will feel so damn good. It will be one of the best things I have ever done in my entire life.
What you see here is what contains an infinity of multitudes. It contains all the art, all the ideas, all the energy, all the love. I am made of stardust. I love you so much. I have never been more proud of who I have become than I am right now. You are doing amazingly. You have come such a long way. I cannot even begin to describe my absolute love for you. I love you I love you I love you.
I found the magazines in the closet. I hadn’t gotten rid of them like I had intended to, three years ago. I laughed. It felt like coming home. They were still there. This was the first time in five years that I was finally obsessed with the music again. The knowledge & love that I thought I had lost was still there. I saw things & the names of them popped back into my head & I suddenly knew them again. I finally had something to do again. A mission. A dream. No longer dormant. This time it was for real. It had always been my favorite. It wasn’t something I suddenly developed a longing for even though I hadn’t known if it a month previously. I had always loved it, it had always been a part of me. I reveled in it. It was real, it was transformative, & it was mine. It felt like coming home.
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.” “Be obsessed or be average”.
On the road I found myself quietly in between the nurturing trees & the radiant city streets at night. Lights on the water. The immensely beautiful coral reef ocean floating quietly. I could see for miles. I touched what had come before me & what was yet to come. When I had to fight for the only thing I had. I have myself & myself has me. Holding that close. I faced what terrified me & emerged the warrior.
It was the kind of change I felt deep in the very center of me. It shook me to my core, & laughed to myself. I finally bought the album & listened to the first two songs off of it. Then I put on the most beautiful song I could think of & danced. I felt the energy shifting as I orchestrated & sculpted the year before my, my fingertips brushing softly past all the beautiful things I am creating. The beautiful things I am creating. It is all mine. All mine. Then it turned to midnight : I hugged myself & put on a different song. My new anthem. Authenticity feels so amazing. You can change, you can change. You can make it.
You are capable of immense happiness. Remember the feeling you had as you drove on the quiet highway with yellow streetlamps & the jazz was playing & you found yourself spontaneously laughing even though you didn’t know why. Remember how fucking powerful that was. Remember the incomprehensibly beautiful transformation where you literally felt the shift inside, literally felt the Phoenix being reborn from the ashes, metamorphosis. Remember how it felt at the end, better than anything else you could have imagined, you were trembling with joy, as the cocoon slowly slipped away & was left behind as you emerged & drank deeply from the rich deep night. Remember the exact color of moonlight on your arm as you drove across the quiet darkened countryside, how the moon vibrated radiantly in the sky & you laughed freely. Remember how free you felt as the chains were finally left behind in a darkened seat by the stage & you were not the same person that had walked in there. Remember how it felt to finally, mysteriously, beautifully heal. You are capable of immense happiness. That is your “RISE”. That is your flame. That is everything you ever needed. Now you know what to do.
“When you realize you lack nothing, the whole world is yours.” “Everything I need is inside me right now.” Remember these. YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED.
What an amazing way to begin. This is going to be my best year yet.
“Now it’s up to me, ooh, what will be…”
I am finally becoming the master of my own fate. I am finally HERE. I am fucking unstoppable. I am fucking unstoppable.
Tom Petty’s songs made special moments better & ordinary moments feel significant.
I first heard Tom Petty’s music when I was fifteen & just getting into classic rock. His songs would come on my classic rock & Beatles-themed Pandora radio stations. I realized that Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly was different than Pink Floyd’s. The Traveling Wilburys bridged my love of the Beatles with my newfound love of Bob Dylan. As my musical interests continued to change, his songs kept finding their way into my Pandora stations. In that way, I became familiar with some of them.
My father & I walked into Guitar Center. Mary Jane’s Last Dance was playing distinctly over their speakers as a guy crouched down cradling a black guitar tuned it. The combination of the two sounds mingled with the sounds of what everyone else in the store was playing. The memory, the aesthetic, of the way it sounded is what I always think about when I hear that song now.
The first time I heard American Girl, I was leaving my neighborhood. The song was playing quiet over the car stereo. My dad was trying to make a phone call so I strained my ears to hear the lyrics. I immediately fell in love with it. There was something about the jangling guitars & the continuous pedal tones & the slightly bittersweet optimism that made me love it. When I got home, I looked up the lyrics & saw it was a Tom Petty song. Months later, I stayed in the car longer in the parking lot at the dollar store just so I could hear it.
A year ago, everything in my life felt stressful. I was overwhelmed. But I always sang along to I Won’t Back Down. Listening to it made me feel better. It became my anthem. I wanted to give up, I wanted to give in, but then I was always reminded of this declaration of strength. & I knew I was going to keep fighting for what was right for me & the kind of life I wanted to live until I got there. No matter what.
My sister & I drove on through the cold dark December night. We were going to watch the play Proof at the theater. The classic rock station was playing. A Tom Petty song came on. My sister turned up the volume. “I love his music.” She declared. I was surprised learning this, because I loved his music & yet I never knew she did. We talked about this. I told her there was a Tom Petty concert happening in a few months, if we saved money maybe we could go to it. We made plans to do this, but by the time we had the money, all the cheaper tickets were sold out.
I was driving across the Overseas Highway on the forth day of my road trip. I’d driven from Key Largo to Key West & now I was driving more than two hours back to Key Largo in the same day. It was late afternoon, the space between the beginning of sunset & the beginning of twilight. I came upon the Tom Petty section of my playlist. All my favorite songs of his. The likes of Free Fallin’, American Girl, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Breakdown, Refugee, & I Won’t Back Down were my soundtrack. His music sounded like a road trip, like the open road. The songs felt special, hearing them halfway through the road trip, in the purity of freedom, on a very long highway when the sun was setting over the ocean.
I heard it on the radio when I was sitting at a stoplight. A few Tom Petty songs had played consecutively; I wasn’t sure why. “Remembering Tom Petty.” The announcer said. It felt like a slap to the face. The second of the day; the first was hearing about what happened in Las Vegas. They said he’d passed away earlier. More songs played, but now they all sounded bittersweet. I wanted to hear them & turn them off at the same time. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t. I thought about Mary Jane’s Last Dance in Guitar Center & American Girl in the parking lot & I Won’t Back Down on my stereo & Overseas highway. I thought about how my sister & I never did get to go to that concert. That we’d missed our chance. It hurt like when David Bowie died. I couldn’t believe it.
A few hours later on the way home, Don’t Do Me Like That finished playing. The announcer said, “Despite earlier reports that Tom Petty had passed away, apparently he isn’t actually dead. He’s in critical condition, but he’s alive.” I grinned & slapped my steering wheel. “YOU BASTARDS! You bastards! He’s alive! He’s alive!” I laughed. I came home. “Did you hear Tom Petty died earlier?” My sister asked. “Yes, but he’s not actually dead! Not yet!” I explained. No one online was sure now whether or not he was dead. Please be alive. Please, please pull through, I prayed. When I woke up the next day, I learned he really was gone.
How many people have been inspired to pick up a guitar because of him? How many of us have listened to I Won’t Back Down & decided, once more, to keep moving forward? How many moment of specific, perfect aesthetic moments have his songs soundtracked? Those are the things he has left behind for us. Those are the things we can keep close. Music, & the memories surrounding it, are something that cannot be lost. & what an amazing catalog of music he has left behind. But what’s perhaps an equally important legacy to me as his music is the reminder that even in a world that would rather we be what it wants us to be, we can still be ourselves if we choose to.
Much too often, perfect becomes the enemy of good. Perfection becomes more important than making progress in the first place. There have been so many times I’ve given up on something because I wasn’t able to do it as often, as devotedly, in the same capacity that I’d originally planned to.
But starting, even with the most seemingly insignificant action, is always better than not starting at all. The smallest action in the right direction, especially when doing it becomes a habit, is incredibly powerful.
The tiniest step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all. When done consistently, it can move mountains.
Sometimes, it feels like if you can’t commit to exercising an hour a day, if you can’t save 10% of your income, if you can’t write 5,000 words a day, that you might as well not do anything at all. That you should wait until it’s a “better time”.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to do something. Don’t stop & start over because you messed up, or you don’t think you’re ready, or you don’t have the time, the money, the resources. It will never be a better time than it is RIGHT. NOW. No one cares if you cheated at your diet for one day, or if you only start out writing ten words a day in the novel that’s been inside you for a decade.
What matters is that you DO SOMETHING.
Walking for one minute is better than not exercising at all, if that’s all you can do for now.
Practicing playing guitar for two minutes is better than not playing it at all, if that’s all you have time to do.
Eating a tablespoon of canned vegetables along with your burger & fries is better than not eating any vegetables at all, if you’re working on eating healthier.
Flossing one tooth every day is better than not flossing at all, if you don’t have the time to floss all your teeth.
Throwing out one item you no longer need is better than not throwing out anything at all, if you know streamlining your belongings would make your life better.
Opening one window in your house is better than no windows at all, if you want to let fresh air in but only one window has a screen.
Reading one new word in that language you’ve always wanted to learn is better than not learning anything at all, if learning that language seems too challenging.
Writing one line of code is better than not working on your app at all, if you’re working on becoming a programmer & getting your app out there.
Posting something on your blog, at the “worst” time of day, is better than not posting at all if that’s the only thing & the only time you can post it.
Choosing just once today to respond differently is better than staying stuck in the same habits or emotions or beliefs, if you’re trying to reach that next level.
Writing ten words in your novel every day is better than not writing anything at all, if you’ve got a story burning inside you that you know the world needs to see.
Putting $1 in your savings account each week is better than not saving any money at all, if that’s all you have the ability to save right now.
Painting one brush stroke on the canvas is better than not painting anything at all, if you don’t know what to paint, or how to paint it.
Because everything you do eventually adds up. It eventually counts for something. At the end of the year, you will have written 3,650 words more than you’ve written right now. You will have saved $365 more than you have currently. You will have spent 6.08 more hours exercising than you would have otherwise.
Everything you do will compound. Everything you do will leverage every other thing you do. You might be worried that you’re taking the easy way out by only taking one step. But if that’s all you can do right now, your tiny action is as valuable as gold. You will find the time, the motivation, the resources, to get better at it if it’s important to you. You will get to where you’re heading.
Consistency is more important than perfection ever will be.
What you do today to take a step further in the right direction is never a waste of time. You will be that much closer to living the type of life you want to live. The type that you deserve to live.
It’s kind of like the famous “Starfish Story”. You can’t throw all the starfish back into the water. But it will matter, invaluably, for the ones you do.
You can’t always make all the progress you wish you could make. You can’t always win every battle.
But it will matter, invaluably, for the ones you do.