Experiments in Loving Life

Life is journey, let's enjoy it.

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I don’t know what to say.

So there’s that. But is that really that terrible of a thing.  I spent the entire day watching a T.V. Show. I got drunk on a Sunday night. And before that a Friday. And before that a Thursday.  This is not who I am. I am falling apart and I can’t figure out why. I do not know what it is that has got me acting like a total – well, to use a word from How I met your Mother – a floozy. I’m acting like a total floozy. I’m not exactly contributing to anything and am not exactly making progress on anything either. and I tell myself even while I am feeling this way, that I’m just going to finish this season and a half of HIMYM before I even think about starting to be productive anyway. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME I SAY?!?! Hey, at least I’m not doing that secret thing I’m not even going to blog about anymore? It’s something I’ve been wishing I wasn’t doing for a while now and since I promised Mme. R. I wouldn’t do it anymore (last Wednesday or maybe Friday) I haven’t. Even though I’ve wanted to. I  find that it is much easier to stick to a resolution when you are following that resolution for somebody else rather than yourself. So far anyway. That combined with remembering that what I was doing essentially tore our relationship to shreds. Also, I don’t ever want to leave Oregon. More on that later?

 

~Austin

Success and Failure

So I’ve been thinking recently that in order to be really inline with yourself you should have the ability to say, at the end of the day, either: I have been successful today. or I have not been successful today. I have failed.

For me. Today. On June 4th, 2013. This will be a 50% day. But hey, I’m getting better.

I thought if I shared what success on a daily basis would mean for me and made a commitment to post whether or not I was successful on Twitter every single day, I would be more likely to actually be successful. So here goes.

For me, being successful on any given day means that I have done 1 of a few different things.

1) Written at least 50% or more of a blog post. – This one must be paired with something else. But should still happen at a rate of three publications a week.
2) Worked on the development of a clearly planned website or web-app for 2 hours.
3) Learned “something” – Javascript, jQuery, PHP, Ruby,etc – for at least 2 hours.

4) Done something nice and active and mind clearing. – this should also be done in conjunction with another task. Preferably not  a blog post.

A 50% day is a day that I only do a blog post or only go for a run/something active or only do 50% of either of the other two tasks.

A 75% day is a day that I either do a blog post and something active or do only an hour of the middle two items and Both of the first and last.

While a 100% day would be a day where I successfully complete one of the middle two items and and any of the other two items.

A 200% day would be a day where I get both item 1, 2 and either one of 2 or 3 done.

So there’s my definition of daily success.

What does Success mean for you?

Also, as a side note, in order to be more capable of reaching success on a daily basis, I have put in my two weeks at my second job. No more 80 hours a week for me and no more delivering Pizza! Extra Life means Extra Goodies.

Just an Update

I think it’s been awhile. Sorry about that. But I can tell you it has definitely been a wonderful but super super crazy couple of weeks. I don’t really remember where I left off but up until last week, I was working 80 hours a week and barely having enough time to sleep and eat. Hence the whole dropping off the face of the planet thing. And then last friday I traveled down to Boise to train the new Web Content Specialist for Boise and the College of Art and Architecture over the short week and spend some time with my family over the dual weekends. It was, as I said before, definitely wonderful but we ended up incredibly busy. Sunday I went out to visit Grandma, the cancer drugs have her all puffed up which is really hard to see and not be super sad, and I just helped out with some gardening chores around the house and whatnot. I took some pictures but my camera is holed up in my car right now so I’ll get to posting those later. Tuesday I went to a Lumineers concert (for free!) and Wednesday evening I played pinochle with granny and poppy all night. Pretty sure I won 5 or 6 out of 7 or 8 games. Thursday morning I woke up to learn that Grandma was back in the hospital and they had taken her off her all of her medicines. So Thursday and Friday both I visited her at the hospital before work, at lunch, and after work. But then Friday we all went Camping up at Cascade. And I assure you, that was a blast. Canoeing, Hiking, accidentally finding fresh Morel Mushrooms. Overall a very good time. And now I’m back in Moscow and Homeless until Tuesday. Before I left I was doing some reflecting on what failure and success mean to me so I’ll be sure to get that post out this week. I’ll get some more pictures up here soon!

~Austin

Space Pen

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I’m loving playing with codepen. The practical use of this pen here is pretty small but I think this may just be headed somewhere exciting. What does it look like to you? You can view the code here.

Deep Breathing and Change

I won last night. For the first time in years. And I was elated. So elated in fact, that I lost to myself. There was a little bit of gloating involved. I teased Savannah just a bit. And rode my bike 2 miles roundtrip just to post a status update on facebook detailing my success. For somebody that is actively trying to pursue a lifestyle of contentment, simplicity, happiness and all around goodness, I definitely feel as though I screwed up last night.

But as I am becoming increasingly aware, everything is a process. Changing something as fundamental as a thought pattern isn’t something that you can just do overnight. Certainly it’s something that I can make an effort to change every night. And I believe that noticing those mistakes, those places that I am not acting or thinking or reacting in a way I really believe I should be acting or thinking or reacting is quite possibly one of the most important things I can do towards improving and changing those lifelong habits.

For instance, upon noticing that I was gloating and teasing last night, it would have been most appropriate for me to direct my excited thoughts towards more constructive outlets. At the very least it would have been more appropriate for me to just take a few deep, slow breaths.

In fact, taking a few deep slow breaths is one of the most effective things you can do to gain control of your mind period. Whether you’re stressed, excited, angry, frustrated, confused, terrified, or any other emotion, the simple act of taking 60 seconds worth (I like to shoot for 5 minutes) of deep slow breaths, 4 seconds in, 6 seconds out while thinking of nothing but your breathing or visualizing how you would like to be acting differently can completely eliminate all traces of cortisol from your body, What I really like about this exercise though, is that it seems to have the ability to completely reframe the current moment and brings a sense of clarity that is otherwise extremely difficult to come by.

Deep breathing is just a small step in the process but if you’re looking to change a habit I strongly suggest you give it a shot. It’s well worth your time.

~Austin

Education and Debt – where to draw the line.

Well I had another one of those weekends with absolutely no creative outlets.  But, what do you expect when I worked 29 hours this weekend. 29 long hours delivering Pizza.

That being said, I did something totally unexpected of myself! I asked my Boss for one weekend day a week off. And she said that it would probably be totally okay 🙂 That means I might have a whole 1 day out of 7 where I don’t have to work! I’m so excited!

I also may be lining up a really fantastic job-like opportunity for when I move back over to Portland. So, things are looking up for me! Not that they were ever really down to begin with. I’m just super super busy.

And as Zen Pencil’s Newest Comic, and most other things I read and believe in are pretty good at pointing out, we should make a significant effort to do the things that we really believe in and really love  and not work ourselves into an unhappy death.

I’m working on slowly backing off of working too much but It’s going to be  a long challenging journey for me. I put in 154 hours in the last two weeks and unlike most, it’s not so that I can buy that new car, house, or round of golf, it’s so that I can pay for my education without sinking any deeper into debt than I am already headed.

How do you make the decision of where to draw the line? Where it becomes okay to take on an additional couple thousand in debt to get an education vs. working your ass off, being miserable, and not being able to focus quite as hard on the things you believe in? Where do you draw that line?

Any advice?

I have no internet.

As of monday. I have no personal internet at my place of residency. In case you weren’t sure, this is weird. Very very weird. I fancy myself a normal(ish) person. Sure I work a lot (80 or so hours a week). But for the most part I’m normal. I occasionally watch movies on Netflix or T.V. Shows on Hulu. I listen to Pandora regularly (when my computer is on (always)). I use Facebook. I have 4 emails that I check multiple times a day. I have a twitter feed. I read blogs. I write on a blog.  Alright. That’s the super normal stuff. Let’s talk about some slightly more abnormal stuff. I’m a senior at Pacific University studying Integrated Media (Web Design and Development) and while, sure it’s Summer. That is WEB design and development. My primary job is that of Web Coordinator for the College of Art and Architecture at the University of Idaho. Yes you heard that right again. WEB Coordinator. Honestly, 90% (at least) of my life revolves around the web. So when I let my internet connection at home go away earlier this week, it seems needless to say that I have had to adjust.

The first thing I noticed was the silence. Almost. But not quite like the stillness at the bottom of a cup of tea.

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After that came the realization that I don’t get to check my email compulsively every 5 minutes. Besides that’s probably not the best habit to have anyway.

I took a bath. Nice and hot and soothing. For one whole hour. I did nothing while in the bath. Just laid there, feeling relaxed.  I honestly can not remember the last time that I took a bath or the last time that I let myself simply relax without feeling pressure to get things done. I think that has been my biggest takeaway from the past week. It is OKAY to allow yourself moments, or even the occasional hour of being truly relaxed and not needing to get anything done.

Aside from that, I remembered how to use iTunes. I remembered that the only thing I actually need the internet to do web work for is when I am either not working on one of my own projects or when I am working with servers (PHP, SQL, Databases, etc.) and even then I can test on self hosted servers! So for the most part, I can do can do almost anything on my own using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. In fact with books, things like learning JavaScript are still 100% in the question. What a revelation. I really only NEED the internet if I am actually going to upload new information (like this post) or if i need to communicate with people.

Hey that’s actually kind of cool! Maybe going the Summer without internet won’t be quite so bad after-all!

What would you learn about yourself if you had no internet?

An Inspirational Life – Cameras

I’ve been struggling to decide what kind of order I want to cover this lifetime of Inspiration series with. Do I want to chronological earliest? Chronological latest? Just go with whatever stands out on when I’m writing the post? For instance, I’m from a piano bench today and that reminded me that at one point in time pianos/music were definitely involved in the inspirations of my life. And if I go chronological with the latest things first where do I start? Yesterday? Last month? At the latest major life altering moment?

What I eventually decided was that I was going to go with a significant items presented in a semi-random order, occasionally interjected with “inspirations of the week” coming in the form of songs, websites, ted talks, podcasts, videos, or whatever else have you.

And of course that leads me to a new question right? How do I decide what holds enough significance to warrant a blog post? I think I will handle that decision with two questions. 1) Did it have a lasting impact on me? and 2) Would I be living the life I am living now if the event/person/thing was not a part of my life? I feel that if the answer to either of these questions is yes, then it is significant enough to merit a blog post.

pianoinside

When I was writing the first version of this post I was sitting at a piano bench in one of the study rooms in a different building where I work and, it being Summer and me working at a University, it was naturally a fairly empty room. Just me and one other person. The other person was reading a newspaper so every once in a while I would hear the raspy turning of a newspaper page as everything rubbed against everything else. And the only other sound in the room was my pen on my paper and, here’s the part I found lovely, I was writing with my hands and notebook on the actual piano keys, and my foot on the sustainer pedal, so every once in a while I would shift just a little too abruptly and the piano would make some random combination of notes that echoed throughout the whole room. It was truly wonderful to have been there.
piano

Anyway, today’s Inspirational Life post is about a camera.

A number of years ago, about 10 days before Christmas, I picked up an incredibly old digital camera for the first time and took a picture of my cousin’s face. And then I took another one. And then a took a picture of the kitchen table. And then the popcorn bowl. And then my cousin’s face again. However on that last pass at my cousin’s face, she stuck her hand out to deflect the camera from taking her picture, accidentally hit the camera, and it broke.

And that’s my story.

No I’m just kidding. The camera broke, but in just those three or four pictures, I was hooked. I wanted to take more pictures so badly and my grandma on my mom’s side who had been bugging me about what I wanted for Christmas suddenly had something to go off of. A cheap digital camera please! And in the 6 months after that Christmas I took over 10,000 photos. Certainly most of them were crap but I still took 10,000 photos and in August of that year, almost 5 years ago, I bought myself a Nikon D80. The camera I still shoot with today. The camera I was shooting with when I decided to start selling my photography at the local farmer’s market. The same one I was using when I chose what school I was going to attend and decided to be a photography major. That one moment when I picked up the camera literally changed my life.

And how funny to think that one seemingly insignificant moment can completely change the road you are on and the direction your life is headed. Before that I think I wanted to be a math major or something. Talk about a diverging road. While certainly I have shifted and altered my perceptions and desires and changed my bearing numerous times since I decided to become a photography, photography is still a part of my life and recently once again something that brings me immense joy.

That same D80 is the one I used to take these pictures during my walk at Lunch today 🙂
nails

A couple of nails sticking outside of this fencepost seemed almost like they were just itching to escape the confines of their wooden coffins. I don’t know how long it takes nails to work their way out of wood but it looks as though the one in back has a significant head-start.

ladder

 

And this ladder appeared to go halfway up the building and then just stop. That’s interesting. A ladder to nowhere. Where does your ladder go?

I look forward to hearing about any of your inspirations! Please leave them in comments!

Thanks for stopping by,

~Austin

I have way too much stuff

 

This is a slight continuation from post the other day regarding how quickly things can accumulate.

I ended up not really doing anything creative this weekend except for giving the plants that I was going to put in my garden to an old man that was actually going to have the time to keep from dying. With two jobs, that definitely wasn’t going to be me. And on the note of my second job,  I got scheduled for about 29 hours of work next weekend. Gross right. I probably won’t be doing too many fun things then either.

On another brighter note my roommate moved out today! I finally have the house to myself! And until I meet another minimalist Vegan who doesn’t own a T.V. and doesn’t do drugs, I will have the house to myself. I’m super excited! Since I’m moving in ten days I moved all of my things into the living room thinking that I would need to start preparing for cleaning and needing to stuff everything I own into my car; a task that I honestly didn’t think was going to be particularly difficult. However upon moving all of my things into one room it looks like I have WAY more than I though I did. Oops. I took pictures of all my worldly possessions except for my bike and my car. If you had to fit all of this in one vehicle what would you get rid of? I’d love to hear in the comments!

~Austin

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