Break Well

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On my breaks at work, I work.

I have my laptop with me, I go out to my car, and I write.

It’s nothing work-related – my job is not important enough for that. But my writing is important. It’s important to me that I write well enough to get a ticket out of this day job. So I don’t waste a second writing as much as I can during the small amount of time that’s given to me.

My colleagues however, go out to their cars and sleep. Or smoke. Or text.

And if they’re not in their cars, they’re in the break room watching The Steve Harvey Show or The Price is Right. And then they go back to their desk and complain about how much they hate their job.

So, I ask you, if you hate your day job – if you haven’t reached your dream job yet – how are you spending your breaks at work this week?

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In Remembrance of the Many

Memorial-Day

At this time of year, when Americans kick off their summers with holiday vacations and barbecues, it is good to pause and remember our countrymen (and women) who have answered the call to serve, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifices.

Please feel free to list the names of those you know who served our country so that we may know their names.

Conflict                                                U.S. Military Deaths

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)            25,000

War of 1812 (1812-1815)                       20,000

Mexican War (1846-1848)                      13,300

Civil War (1861-1865)

Union                                                        360,000

Confederate                                              260,000

Spanish-American War (1898)                   2,500

World War I (1917-1918)                            116,500

World War II (1941-1945)                           405,400

Korean War (1964-1973)                            36,600

Vietnam War (1964-1973)                           58,200

Persian Gulf War (1990-1991)                    380

Afghanistan (2001-present)                        500+

Iraq War (2003-2011)                                  4,700

A Beautiful Mind and Death

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My last post was about ignorance being bliss and I cited A Beautiful Mind as an example of this. The next day, yesterday, it had been reported that the subjects of the film John Nash and his wife Alicia were killed in a taxi cab accident.

It’s so sad when we lose such good and admirable people such as the Nash’s. As a small tribute I am pasting my thoughts on A Beautiful Mind below, hoping it spurs on a new generation of viewers and prompts old friends to re-watch this beautiful love story.

As tragic as their deaths is, it’s still beautiful to see that they died together.

Posted on February, 2014

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A Beautiful Mind

To some, this may just be a movie about a brilliant man with a psychological disorder. To others, it’s a really fascinating biography. Either way, it’s a movie not to be missed by anyone for any reason. But when I watch this movie, I see a love story at its finest. Watch it from the wife’s point of view. By the world’s standards, she had every reason to leave him, and few would have blamed her. But for a woman to choose to stay married to a man as impulsive and potentially dangerous as John Nash, simply out of love – that speaks volumes to me that Ron Howard and the makers of this film, not to mention the real life couple this movie portrays, really understand what true love can be.

How Ignorance Can Be Your Best Tool

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When I was young I used to think I would make it big in this would and it would be a piece of cake. I used to think that if you wanted something done, you just called someone up or wrote a letter, snapped your fingers, and you got what you wanted.

And then I grew up.

And every. Single. Thing. Is. Difficult.

Raising kids is difficult. Marriage is difficult. Work is difficult. Solving the world’s problems is difficult. Every single thing is difficult.

True as that may be, I think it’s time to go back to the mindset of an ignorant child. Because at least then, everything was possible. Nothing was impossible. And few things were difficult.

In one of my favorite movies, A Beautiful Mind, John Nash is plagued with Schizophrenia and he sees people that others don’t see – they’re imaginary. By the film’s end he isn’t cured of his disease, but he functions like the rest of us because, even though his imaginary people keep showing up and talking to him, he chooses to ignore them.

I like to think that the doubts instilled in us as we grow older are like those imaginary people. We can choose to ignore them – they’ll still be there, but we choose to press on with our goals, our tasks, our dreams.

Your doubts will never leave you, but you don’t have to pay them any attention. You owe them nothing.

And who knows. Maybe ignorance can be bliss.

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Music: She and Him

she_and_himYou remember the movie Elf, right? Or one of my favorites, 500 Days of Summer? That girl in those movies, Zooey Deschanel, is a singer as she shows a little in those movies. It’s her and another guy (M. Ward) in a band called She and Him. I wanted to share this band, as I’ll be doing more of, because it’s one of my favorite genres where the genre is alternative, the music is new, but it evokes the retro sound of pop 50’s music.

Very classical, very smooth, and very cool.

I love dancing around the house with our foster daughter – it’s a good pacifier for her when she’s throwing a tantrum. That’s how happy and upbeat this music is.

The duo has three albums out, plus a Christmas CD. Head on over to iTunes and grab some songs for your listening pleasure. Your day is about to get better!

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Favorite songs:

Don’t Look Back

Somebody Sweet To Talk To

Sweet Darlin’

Over and Over Again

I Could’ve Been Your Girl

I’ve Got Your Number Son

I Was Made For You

In The Sun

Sugar Town

The Elimination Game

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It’s Monday. Likely you are waking up right now, searching for a reason to go back to your soul-crushing job. Oh, right. The paycheck.

Every day you drive to work feeling like Sam and Frodo on their way to Mount Doom. “The one place in Middle Earth we don’t want to see any closer, and it’s the one place we’re trying to get to.”

And if you’re like me, sometimes you cry a little on your way to work.

You just know there are good, creative jobs out there that you’re more than qualified for! …But are you proving it?

Do you want to be a painter? You’re painting, right?

Want to write? You’re writing every chance you get, right?

Want to be a cop? You’re taking classes, aren’t you?

working-hard-300x225If not, then dare I say you’re right where you need to be. You complain about going to work, you begrudgingly put in the hours, then you come home and waste your evening watching Game of Thrones only to go to bed late and do it all over again.

If this is you, it’s time to eliminate.

The principal is simple. Evaluate your daily schedule and determine what sucks up most of your time that doesn’t enhance your chances for a better future and get rid of it.

That’s right. Cancel your HBO subscription. Do away with your Candy Crush account. Shorten your showers.

I deleted my personal Facebook account a couple of months ago because some days I’d realize I’d scrolled so far down my feed that I’d be reading statuses that said: “Boycott Carter for Boycotting the Olympics.”

I eliminated other things from my life as well (like iTunes shopping, reading five chapters a day, movies, etc.), because it is that important to me to become a bestselling author so I can quit my day job and actually make a living doing what I was born to do.

So my life is split into three categories:

1) Family

2) Writing

3) Day job

Now, I may still struggle between giving due time to my family and not write, but I make up for that time at my job. I don’t spend my lunches complaining about work with my coworkers, having the same gripe session over and over again. I don’t zone out to The Price is Right that’s playing in the break room.

No, I have my laptop with me and I’m working it to death because I’ve only got an hour to write as much as I can. I don’t tune out when work is slow – I pull out my pen and paper and write until my fingers bleed, or the ink runs out in my pen.

Every. Second. Counts.

I don’t want to be at this job a second longer than I need to be.

How long have you been at your dead-end job? Make a goal to be out by a certain time, and work to beat that goal.

You weren’t born to watch TV or play online Poker. Have you ever considered that you’re still at your job because of those things? Eliminate that crap and work yourself out of your job.

Or, just be miserable for the rest of your life.

Your choice.

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Fail Early and Fail Fast

Andrew Stanton: 'Spielberg and I compared notes on ET and Wall-E'.

The advice “Fail early and fail fast” may seem a little odd, coming from a country where the best of us still value winning, innovation, and success.

But this piece of advice actually stems from one of this country’s greatest and most innovate minds, storyteller, director, and animator Andrew Stanton. You’re familiar with his work on Finding Nemo and Wall-E.

I learned this advise first-hand recently. I’m currently immersed in a book project that’s literally taking all I’ve got. While I’m excited about it, a lot hangs on the line (more details to come). While I started off making good headway, the last week or so has really brought me down.

The stamina and determination were still there – it’s not a matter of completion. It’s a matter of content. I was struggling through the material, unable to make it convey to readers and myself (first a reader, then an author). With my brain stuck in the proverbial mud of anti-creativity, and with the clock running against me, I had to think back to my heroes of the craft of storytelling and I was directed to a book I recently read by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc. 

In it, he describes one of Stanton’s mottos while coaching his team on a film. “Fail early and fail fast.” The philosophy behind it is that we’re not perfect; we’re going to make mistakes. So seeing that failure is inevitable, fail early and fail fast. You basically have to ask yourself the tough questions early on: “Will people benefit from my work?”

“Will people really read this?”

“Is this really the best I can do?”

For me, the question was, “Am I having fun with this still?”

I had turned fun and entertainment into all work and all business. No one wants to read a book from an author who did not have fun and employ a liberal sense of creativity flowing through his/her book.

So today, I’m choosing to fail early and fail fast. I’m tearing out the last few pages I labored over. It’s better to do it now rather than later (trashing five pages instead of ten).

To put it into a picture, it’s like a maze on one of those children’s menus. You trace your Crayon through the labyrinth and, if you’re directionally challenged like myself, you’re going to hit a lot of dead-ends. Same with creativity.

So I ask you: Do you have the courage to fail early and fail fast? Back out, tear up, turn around, and start over in the right direction.

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