Mid-Year Check in

May 30, 2019

Goals are terrific, but without Check-ins, Really – What’s the point?  In addition to striving for things to be better in your life, you need to have check-ins to ensure that you remain on track or like I’m about to do – Level Set Expectations.

  1. I wanted to read 1 book per month – for a total of 12 this year.  I’m working concurrently on books 5, 6, and 7.  Haha – just like me to read 3 books at once and finish none of them.  I’m super close on book 5, have a ways to go on book 6 and book 7 is probably not going to get completed because I cherry picked my favorite parts and then returned the book to the library.  So for this goal, I’m going to say that I am ON TRACK!
  2. I wanted to write at least 11 blog posts per month.  I nailed this in January, was tracking in February and then fell off the map.  I’m going to Level Set Expectations here and attempt to meet this goal for June and then re-evaluate.  For this goal, I am Missing The Mark!
  3. I wanted to exercise at least 1 day per week.  What a low bar to cross.  I would say that I’ve met this goal, but to be honest – it is not too ambitious.  There was a period of time from late March until early April – about 3 weeks – that I walked at least 30,000 steps per day and 1 day outside of this stretch that I did 60,000 steps in 1 day!  For the most part, I nail this goal, but given my sloth like tendencies lately, I need to ramp this goal up in terms of intensity.  Every morning, after I drop off Jessica at school, I have a period of time before I start working.  I’m going to start utilizing this time to either go for a run, or hike or do something active.  For this goal, I am INCREASING THE INTENSITY
  4. I wanted to write a book this year.  I haven’t even started this.  A total disappointment.  At this time, I’m going to revise this goal.  I’d like to get 1 chapter of my book written by the end of June.  Once I get this chapter written, I can revise my goal to something more realistic.  For this goal, I am A DISGRACE (lol, just kidding)

Ok – so if I was grading my resolutions at this point, I would get a partially complete.  Intensity was great at the beginning of the year, but has tapered lately – time to re-engage and refocus!

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Is Organization Mandatory For Success?

February 25, 2019

In reading my latest book, If Success Is a Game, These Are The Rules, by Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott, I came across a chapter on Organization.  As I thought back to my college years, my dorm room was predictably a nightmare when it came to organization.  Looking back, I’m shocked that I made it through 4 years with the amount of chaos that I lived in.

During my senior year, I had a vertical dresser stacked on top of a desk and on top of that, a 13″ TV – with a VCR balanced on top of that.  This entire monument was practically touching the ceiling and just begged to come crashing down on me at any moment.  At the time, I really didn’t understand organization and this is what I thought being organized meant.  Essentially, I put all of the furniture in one vertical pile to free up space throughout the remainder of my tiny dorm room.

Growing up, both of my parents were very neat and specific with where they stored items.  Our house was kept up very nicely with rarely anything out of of place.  But, even with such great models, I never learned how to organize.  I only knew how to keep things out of eyesight, so as not to raise the ire of my parents.

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced success in spite of my disorganization.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% more organized now than I was 10 years ago.  The idea that I’m organized now is only a talking point as I’ve donated, destroyed, or given away so many items that I would have “collected” a decade ago.

My philosophy that I try to uphold was given to me by a teacher I spent my first year with.  Mike Schriffen was his name.  He was an outstanding teacher and all of the kids loved him and his methods.  One day I wandered into his classroom and noticed that his desk was almost barren.  Everything was in it’s proper place and there was no clutter.  It was definitely something to aspire to.  I asked how he kept his desk so clean.  By comparison, mine resembled a pitching mound with a froth of papers.  He responded that the key was this:  Touch every paper once.  Do something with it – File it, Throw it out, Do something with it and then pass it along.  That is absolutely my goal.  Touch everything once.  Sometimes, I’m good at this.  Sometimes, I struggle.  But, in my mind, that is the gold standard!

Life Transitions

February 19, 2019

I’ve always been a people person.  In fact, some of my favorite jobs were when I was working with a bunch of different people.  When I started working, while in high school, that is when I made friends that I still have to this day.

When I began working at Freddy’s, I still remember making some of the best friendships of my life.  For example – I was friends with a girl named Teresa – who I also went to school with.  High School Student Jeff could never talk to Teresa because he was a dork.  Freddy’s employee Jeff could talk to Teresa because they both had a lot to laugh and joke about.  In many ways, work gave me a chance to fit into society.  My parents had instilled into me a strong sense of workmanship.  So, when I went into these various jobs that I had while working through school, I was often in my element.  Coworkers knew that they could depend on me to do a good job without complaining and we had a lot of fun.

One of my lifetime golden lines was born while working at Freddy’s.  A customer asked me for a jar of Grape Jelly, so I went and asked the Warehouse Manager to help me.  He thought I was referring to Grape Jam and replied, “We haven’t had that since the Carter Administration.”  Such a simple phrase but I loved how clever it was and so I decided it was now mine.  I continue to use it to this day, which due to the time that has elapsed makes this phrase more and more obscure.  At least Jimmy Carter is still relevant in today’s society.

It is because of this, that I will encourage any and all teenagers to begin working as early as possible.  The benefits beyond a paycheck are incredible.

Marie Kondo is my hero

February 18, 2019

So, I’m one of the binge watches of “Tidying Up” on Netflix.  It’s the Marie Kondo decluttering series.

Decluttering is an important technique to cleansing not only your physical belongings, but also it allows you to declutter your mind.  I think when you live in a house that is overrun with items, then your mind isn’t as sharp because you’re constantly having to execute “work arounds” to keep your life in order.

Life is hard enough as it is – but have you ever noticed all of the things that we put in place that actually make life more difficult?  For myself, I leave a pile of papers and books at the side of my bed.  Why do I do this?  It’s a hazard when I step out of bed, and also what am I telling myself about the importance of these items that I am just discarding them on the floor?  What’s worse is that sometimes I will slip on the items by my bed.  Instead of taking this as an opportunity to declutter, I leave the items there and now they are no longer a neat pile.  They now look like a pile of chaos.

What is troubling about this pile is that it isn’t quite disruptive enough for me to do something about it.  It’s stressful, but not enough so that I would actually do something it about it.  All of these low level stressors are going on around my house and collectively they probably add a lot of unneeded anxiety in my life.  What kind of life could I lead if I didn’t have to worry about my piles of clutter that I leave in random locations?

So, Marie is teaching me to organize my life and create a happier environment.  I will start with the piles of papers.  Can I eliminate all of these papers – either by shredding them or filing them?  You will not even believe this….I just talked to a friend who told me his father recently passed away and he had papers filed from the 1940s!!!!!  Can you believe that?  I hope that through this process, I can also purge myself of papers that are becoming legacy items in my life.

Going through this process is creating happiness for me.  Instead of looking at items that I own through a negative lens – ie. “Ugh, this shirt doesn’t feel great on my”, I only kept the shirts that I feel great about.  Why keep things that don’t bring you joy?  By the end of this process, I hope to feel a lot lighter, mentally, in addition to getting rid of a lot of clutter.

Life with a Toddler…

February 11, 2019

T-Minus 25 days until we officially have a 3-year old on our hands.  I can’t believe how much my life has changed in the past 4 years.  4 years ago I had just come out of a destructive relationship.  Now, here I am 4 years later with a Beautiful Toddler,  a thoughtful and generous Girlfriend (and Beautiful too!) and 2 sweet step-daughters.

This weekend was an amazing moment for me!  Jessica and I have been practicing vocabulary words with flash cards.  Each day, we do 5 cards – usually we go through these 3 times.  We will repeat this each day until she’s able to say the word to me based on sight – before I’m able to say the word for her to repeat.  At that point, I’ll add 5 more words.  She’s currently up to about 30 words, with complete mastery of about 20-22.

What I started this weekend was laying several of the cards in a row on the floor to make sentences.  Jessica was able to read the words to form sentences.  So – stand by…..Wait for it….Jessica’s first sentence was…. “Jessica is Pink”, followed by “The Cat is Pink” and finally, “The Cat and Dog sit”.  I’m so excited by this – MY BABY BEARS IS READING SENTENCES!  I cannot believe it.  Not too long ago, she was barely talking.  Now, she’s reading!

I remember being in school and loving to read.  I used to look forward to Dick, Jane, and Spot.  My reader in 1st grade was titled, May I Come In.  The dork that I am, I used to make a song surrounding the title… “May I come in?  Yes you may, but tomorrow you may not, hot to hot…”  Listen – I get it, my imagination was unique, but my love of reading made everything in life so much easier!

Image result for May I come in Reader

I searched for this image so that I could show you what my reader looked like.  It brought back a flood of memories from Elementary School.  Anyone use this book when they were in elementary school?

 

This one is for me…

February 10, 2019

For those of you that check in on my blog periodically, this post is one that I’m writing just for me.  I’m not putting out the link, just leaving it out there for anyone that would like to read it.

What is on my mind today is how difficult it is to live in the moment.  Think about it.  When you’re a kid, you can’t wait to be a teenager, or to learn how to drive, or to be able to vote, or to be able to drink.  For me, I couldn’t wait to move out of my parents house.  For years I kept hearing that while I was living under their house, I had to live by their rules.  I couldn’t wait to move out and do things the way that I wanted to do them.  Then once I moved out, I realized that I didn’t have a lot of money and so I couldn’t wait until I had a job where I could make good money.  As I advanced in my careers, I made more money, but along with that the stress of work took away from the freedom I enjoyed while living in my parents house.

What I, and others, sometimes do is have a desire to get to the next stage of their life so bad that they don’t enjoy what they are currently doing.  There is so much going on in each of our lives on a daily basis that goes unnoticed because we are so focused on the day-to-day grind.  What if we stopped for a moment and just looked at the scenary around us before getting in the car to drive to work – or what if we looked deeply into the eyes of a loved one to understand what makes them tick.

There are times when I just stare at the face of my girlfriend to study the characteristics that make her.  I’m sure that she thinks I’m a weirdo, but I just want to look deeply into her eyes and see what they’re telling me.

Funny thing about this – almost 4 years ago, when we had our first date, she was so nervous to meet me that she said we had to sit side-by-side so as not to look each other in the face.  A year after our first date, we went and reenacted the scene and sat back to back rather than facing each other.

It makes me smile to think of that first date and how I try to live in the moment and ensure that is that last time I don’t get to stare into her eyes.

You’ve Got To Want it…

February 6, 2019

Ok – first off, it’s fun to write in different colors.  Haha! 

This is my first blog post in February.  I have some work to do to get to the 10-11 blog post mark, but I’ve definitely got it in me.

Today, I’m going to tell the story of how I ended up in San Diego.  Like most people in San Diego, I’m a transplant.  I moved here about 7 years ago from Charlotte.  At the time, I was working at Belk in the Cookware Department and lived in a beautiful home in Fort Mill.  Seriously – why can’t I take that home with me?!?

One year, I visited San Diego on vacation and I was blown away.  I couldn’t believe how nice it was.  The weather was amazing, of course.  The people were so friendly and it seemed that there were endless possibilities of recreational activities.

It was at that moment, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to figure out how to get myself to San Diego.  You know that feeling when you go on vacation and you say – OMG, I need to move here.  I think people pretty much say that about most places that they go on vacation – but I really felt like San Diego was attainable.  SO I WENT FOR IT!

That’s where you separate the thinkers from the doers.  I was stuck in a rut and needed a change.  Without action, all I had was a dream to be in San Diego.  So, I created a plan – first off, I would learn everything I could about San Diego.  What were the pros, the cons, etc?  What neighborhoods were experiencing growth?  What was it like to live in San Diego housing?  What could I do for work?  How much could I expect to make?  Would I fall in the ocean as a result of a massive earthquake? (That question literally crossed my mind – mostly because my friend and co-worker, Becky, would mention it every couple of days).

It was like I was taking a class on San Diego.  Every night, after dinner, I started doing research.  I looked at what people were saying on the San Diego Yelp page.  I looked at the types of things people were posted on the San Diego Craigslist pages.  I asked questions in message boards about the different things I was thinking.  I began emailing realtors and asking them questions on what to expect in a move.

I emailed one realtor, Dennis Kaiser, and he was kind enough to send me back an incredibly detailed email on everything I needed to know about San Diego neighborhoods.  That email became my bible and years later I still referenced it.  When it became time to purchase a condo, I remembered Dennis and looked him up.  He was everything I could have hoped for and then some.

There were plenty of slip ups on the way, but the point of this is that I had to go for it.  Otherwise it was just a dream that may or may not be realized.  I say this to anyone that is unhappy in a job, a relationship, where they live – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!  A friend once said to me – “…listen, I only got one shot at this….I don’t get a redo…”  So much truth to that – you can always change what you don’t like.  It is never too late.  Don’t stay in a situation you don’t like just because it is easy.  And, yes, change is scary.  But, if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back.  As long as you’ve done your homework, you will be equipped to handle adversity when it comes.  YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO WANT IT THOUGH!!!  Don’t go through the motions in your life.  Enjoy it as much as you can.  If you are in a difficult situation, try to make the most out of it.  I’m giving you all mental hugs right now, and then a push in the back to GO FOR IT!  MAKE YOUR WISHES AND DREAMS A REALITY!

Celebrating January Contest – Win AgeProof + an Amazon Gift Card!

January 29, 2019

~Originally Posted to Blogger on 01.21.19~

Today was an amazing day for me!  I finished Book #2 in my 12 Book New Year’s Resolution Challenge.

I started this off as an attempt to read 1 book per month, and now that I’m finished with my second book in less than 1 month it is time to celebrate and reward a loyal follower (or maybe you just stubmbled on this post, but yes this is for you too!).

Image result for ageproof cover image

AgeProof is a self-help book written by a financial guru, Jean Chatzky, and an accomplished doctor, Dr. Michael F. Roizen.  The book takes a look at 2 aspects of your life that work in concert with each other – Your money and your health.  The idea behind the book is by improving your life in both of these areas, you can improve your longevity – but also that they are intertwined.  For example, if you are experiencing financial difficulties, then this leads to elevated stress levels which shaves years off of your life.

By ensuring that you are living a healthy lifestyle and that you are properly saving money to fund this lifestyle, you are setting yourself up for long term success.

This book has helpful pointers and is a fun read with little blurbs in the margin where either of the authors interjects on a point that is being made – many times in a humorous way.

To ONE lucky reader, I will be giving away MY COPY OFAGEPROOF AND A $25 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON.

Ok!  So, here’s how you enter the contest –

1.  Follow this blog.  It’s really easy – on the right hand side of this page, there is a box under the heading “FOLLOW BY EMAIL”.  Type your email and click “SUBMIT” and you’ll get a notification via email when I’ve posted a new blog.
2.  Comment on Why you’d like to read AgeProof (Make sure your name is somewhere in your comment or User Name.)
3.  Do all of this by the end of the month (January 31, 2019)!

For all of the people that enter, I will pick one person at random and that person will receive FREE – my copy of AgeProof and a $25 Gift Card to Amazon – ideally to buy the first book I enjoyed You Are a Badass…
CLICK HERE TO BUY YOU ARE A BADASS,

…but IT IS TOTALLY UP TO YOU!  Spend it on anything you’d like!  The Winner will be notified on February 1st!  Good Luck!

What to Expect in a Cross Country Move – Part 2

January 29, 2019

~Originally Posted to Blogger on 01.21.19~

As a continuation to my last blog, I’d like to discuss some things that I experienced during my move.

As a reminder, here is a link to Part 1 of this series.

Cross Country Moving – Part 1

Leave Yourself More Time Than You Need
Yes, of course, most of us are able to power through and drive 12-14 hours a day.  That’s what I did to get the trip completed in the least amount of time possible, but I’d strongly advise making the most of this Cross-Country Drive.  You likely won’t have the chance to experience it very often, and there are some really cool sights to see in the states you will be driving through.

On my trip, it took me 3 1/2 days to traverse the country.  If I had it to do over, I would have doubled that time and took a week to see some cool landmarks along the way.  Just remember, the more days it takes you, then the more money you need for lodging – unless you can stay with some friends that live in towns that are on your way.

As a rule of thumb, I always looked for lodging with a free continental breakfast.  This helped me get the day started off right and I was able to save a little money in the process.  If you’re in a hurry, some hotels will have “To-Go” bags for you that will allow you to brown-bag a treat to take on the road.

Plan Your Route Based on The Seasons
I highly recommend that you put some thought into the route you select.  If you’re in the winter time, plan a route that travels as far south as you can, while remaining on the route to your destination.  For example, while driving I could have taken I-40, or I-20 to go through some of the southern states.  I chose I-20, which was a more southern route (I was making this drive in December).  The route I was on was smooth sailing.  On the other hand, further north on I-40, there was a major snowstorm that completely shut down many parts of the Interstate.  Conversely, if I am making this trip in the summer, then perhaps I take a more northerly route to avoid triple digit heat conditions or pop up thunderstorms that are likely in southerly weather patterns.

Reasons Why I Chose to Move West
1.  The jobs are much more plentiful and the pay is a lot better.  Some will tell you that the pay is commeriserate with the cost of living, but I don’t believe that is universally true.  When I moved out West, my pay was about 50% greater on Day1 – doing almost the exact same job – and I did not experience a 50% increase in cost of living.  Obviously, it is different for everyone.  Do your homework on sites, such as, Linkedin, GlassDoor, Salary.com, to determine what you can expect to make.
2.  The Weather is a huge bonus.  Many people will say that you will pay the “Sunshine Tax” by living in California.  That may be true.  I would definitely pay more in taxes to live in California than elsewhere, mainly because the weather is so ideal that I am frequently outdoors being active.  When I lived back east, there were always excuses to stay inside – It’s too Hot, It’s too Cold, It’s raining all the time, etc.  So, what I’m paying in taxes is offset by the fact that I’m in much better physical shape now than that of my couch potato self.
3.  If you love sports like I do, then this next reason will hit home.  NO MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS THAT LAST UNTIL AFTER MIDNIGHT!!!  Football “night” games are over by 8-9pm.  Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, College Sports – you name it.  They all end early enough that you can still enjoy your evening and/or get to bed at a decent hour.  This also goes for those award shows that start at 8pm and go until 11 or beyond.  Out here, many of those are starting at 5 and will finish at a reasonable hour.  This one is a game changer!

Family Concerns
One reason that many people delay moving, even if they really want to go, is because of family concerns.  They are worried about leaving family.  When I moved away from home, my family encouraged me to go.  During my second big move (from East to West Coast), they bugged out.  Seriously, they acted like I was dropping off the face of the planet.  Fast forward and I think this turned out much better than any of us could have planned.  My parents and I talk almost every single day (which wasn’t the case when I lived back East) and with the developments of technology, we FaceTime or Skype Video Chat several times a week to catch up.  The biggest miss is being together for big family events and there’s truly no getting around that.  The best I can offer is that Alaskan or Southwest Airlines have really great flight deals that will allow you to fly Cross-Country to make the really important events.  You’re probably going to miss that Flag Day Cookout, but otherwise seeing family and friends is not as difficult as you might think it would be.

To be posted later this week, I’ll touch base on the aftermath of my decision and specific things that you should consider if you are thinking about making this type of life transition.

What to expect in a Cross-Country Move – Part 1

January 29, 2019
~Originally Posted to Blogger on 01.18.19~

Many people have reached out to me over the years to ask how I executed the move from East Coast to West Coast.  In Today’s Blog, I’m going to write about that and try to debunk some myths.

Plan Ahead
This one probably goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway.  Don’t move without a job and/or a good idea what you’re going to be doing about housing.  Sure, you could save up a pile of money and then try your luck at moving, but in my experience, the actual move takes so much in terms of capital resources, that you need to save as much as you can for that.

When I say “Plan Ahead”, what I really mean is to check traditional and nontraditional sources.  My 2 favorites were Craigslist and Yelp – but I’d like to amend this to include the Next Door App.

Craigslist – I used this to research what random apartments were going for in certain areas.  I was on this website almost everyday looking at places.  Use this for research purposes.  Most places that you will want to live in won’t show up on here until 30-45 days prior to when they come available, but it will give you a good idea how much the apartments are going for and what the quality of these apartments are.  I kid you not – There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t on this site.

NextDoor – Download this app on your phone and start looking at the chatter that is happening in the area you’d like to live in.  This will give you a resident’s eye view of the neighborhood in terms of the annoying things that might not be severe enough to hit the police radar.  Also, it might paint a picture of some hidden pluses in the neighborhood that you weren’t aware of.

Yelp – Did you know that Yelp has a chat section?  Scroll through this section and you can inevitably find a chat topic about moving to the area that you’re looking at (Be sure to change the region of your chat to the area you’re considering).  Sometimes the chatter will be off color, but sift through that and you can get some good tips on what to look for and avoid in your new city.  Plus – find out who your high volume Yelpers are and message them to find out tidbits on the area – or better yet read their reviews and you can see what is fun and exciting about the area.

You’ve secured a job, You have housing lined up – What’s next?

This next piece of advice I cannot stress enough.  SELL EVERYTHING!  Unless you have some truly sentimental pieces that you can take with you in the car, sell them.  No matter how well you pack things, almost everything will get dinged, dented, scratched, or worse.  When you’re traveling long distances, it is almost inevitable.  Just take whatever you can in the car and then sell the rest.

One thing that reinforces the point that I’m going to make is the size of dwellings out west respective to housing back east.  I lived in a 3600 sq ft house back east.  When I moved to the west coast, my apartment was about 1100 sq ft and considered huge.  The cost of my apartment was $200 more a month more than my home mortgage back east, so any illusions that you will net out the same, in terms of space and cost, should be dismissed immediately.

If you decide to ignore this last piece of advice and have a lot of stuff that you’d like to move, the company I’d choose is ABF U-PACK IT.  They send a trailer to your house and you pay for only the portion of the trailer that you use.  As the name suggests, you pack the trailer and then lock it up and arrange for a pick up and drop off date.  The total cost for me to use this was about $1200, which wasn’t bad at all.  As I mentioned before, everything had some type of damage and it didn’t matter that we packed it “carefully”.

Financially, What should this look like?
I moved to one of the more expensive cities in California (San Diego), so my recommendations are going to be based on that.  With the uncertainty of when you will get your first paycheck at your new job, you’ll want to cash flow yourself for at least the first 45-60 days.  I would estimate a total of $7,000-$9,000 to be totally secure.  There are ways to cut this back if you’re willing to cut corners, but keep in mind that this is for your first 2 months while you’re waiting to receive your first pay check.
Housing – $3000-4500 (An average apartment here will run you about $1400-$1700 – plan for 2 months plus security deposit.
Utilities – $500 – Electricity, Gas and Water are ridiculously expensive out West.  If you luck into an apartment where you don’t have to pay for Water, then that is ideal.  My estimate is on the high side.  If you conserve and watch your usage, then you might be able to knock $100 off of this.  I estimated $200 for water and $300 for Electricity/Gas.
Car Insurance and Other Fees – $750 – Insurance will be about $100/month for decent coverage.  As soon as you register your car, you will have to pay a fee for transferring your car to California in addition to your registration and driver’s license fees.  In addition to this, you need to get your car Smog Tested if you move to California.  All of this needs to happen within the first 45 days that you live in California (Not sure about other states) or else you will have to pay a fine.
Misc – $3000 – This bucket will be for replacement furniture, set up supplies in your new home, and to stock your pantry.  If you’re willing to shop at Ikea or Craigslist, then this number can be reduced drastically.  $3k is definitely a worst case scenario for an average 2-bedroom apartment.

Part 2 is coming and will explain how to make the most of your move.