Could I Be Infected?

By a show of hands how many of you have coughed lately and wondered, “Could I be infected with coronavirus?”

I admit I have.

Buying toilet paper at Costco

I have also wondered if I “felt” warm even though my Oura ring said my temperature hadn’t changed. I have also been tired, mostly because I didn’t get enough sleep, and thought, “Isn’t fatigue one of the symptoms?” I wondered to myself, “Am I getting pink eye because isn’t that a new symptom?” And while having breakfast I blurted something like, “Wait, did you just say the mango has no taste? Can you still smell things because then it’s probably just a lame mango?”

And I’m not even going to go into the fact that I actually calculated our toilet paper supply wondering if we should stand in line at Costco to buy an extra thirty-pack or two.

By my calculation we had plenty, and there was no necessity for a Costco run.

What About Our Dog?

Yes, the coronavirus pandemic has infiltrated my thoughts, as it has, most likely, touched some of yours.

For me those thoughts have been “worst-case scenarios.” For example, my imagination has me getting Covid-19 and ending up in the hospital. Then I picture my wife is at home and ends up sick, and I can’t help her. Then, what about our dog if she has to rush to the hospital? On the other side of things, what if she gets sick and ends up in the hospital, then I get sick and have to rush to the hospital, then what about our dog?

Weird that these thoughts end up being about the safety of our dog. Really, who cares if my wife and I end up in the hospital, what about Milo?

Set Your Sail

At times I have been thinking that I have been failing these tests from my imagination, letting “worst-case” thoughts get the best of me, but it has also been a great time for me to come back to mental exercises and get my head back in the now. Some of the mental-strength building has involved reflecting more on the Stoic Philosophy I’ve been reading and trying to incorporate into my life, and the other part is a quote that I try to keep at the front of my noggin by a motivational dude, Jim Rohn, especially in these times of “rough winds.”

With the Stoic side I’ve been reflecting back on a book by Ryan Holiday called “The Daily Stoic.” It has 366 entries of Stoic Philosophy, one for every day of the year, leap year included. I recalled the entry for January 1st, from Epictetus – Discourses, “The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .”

That Stoic Philosophy also relates to the Jim Rohn quote I alluded to earlier, which is, “The same wind blows on us all, … the difference in arrival is the set of your sail.”

As I freak myself out with my imagination at times, I actually find it comforting coming back to the thoughts of a philosophy dude from 2000 years ago, as well as a dude who lived during my lifetime, both reminding me that there are things outside of my control that I can’t do anything about. The only thing I can do is make sure “the set of my sail” has me going in the right direction.

Can’t and Can Do

So, what can’t I do?

Old Man Yells at TV
I’m becoming an old man.

I can’t worry that much about the government response because I have no control over it. I can hope they do the right thing, but commenting endlessly to the TV during a press conference doesn’t seem to get them to go in the direction that I think is the correct course of action.

I can’t worry if some virus is left in the air or on a door handle. I have no control over the person who may have passed that way seconds, minutes, or hours ago, and no one seems to have a definitive answer how long this virus “survives” on surfaces.

I can’t worry if the virus mutates. Hell, if I eat enough donuts, over time, I seem to mutate.

So, what can I do?

I can try to make healthier food choices and not eat too much crap food, including those donuts, so that my body stays healthy. Okay, this is a challenge, as I believe my body appears to want to mutate right now.

I can keep exercising to keep my body functioning at a better level. Yes, I have been slacking on my Peloton riding and yoga flows while letting my mental state get in the way. It’s time to exercise again, daily. Crap, I was just beginning to like using this pandemic as an excuse to skip exercising.

I can social distance or do my best to avoid others when they don’t think it’s that important. I really dislike those people right now so, at times, I must be in charge of the distancing.

I can wear a mask, even if it seems silly, and it’s a leftover N-95 version that I can’t donate because it was on my workbench for about 3 years.

I can wash my hands. And wash them again. Then wash them again.

I can keep my mind clear of worrying about future events that may not come to pass. Sure, there is some kind of saying, “If I think the worst and it happens, then I’m ready for it. If it doesn’t happen, lucky me!” In the end, if somehow my wife and I end up in the hospital, I’m pretty sure our dog, Milo, will be taken care of. We’ll probably have many more things to be concerned about that my imagination can, well, imagine.

Back to Normal?

If this pandemic has reinforced anything to me it is that there is a lot I can’t do, a lot I can, but in the end I can’t control the wind, all I can do is control the set of my sail. My destination, right now, is to arrive, safe and sound, with my wife and our dog, when life gets back to “normal.”

And maybe finally learn to play that guitar I have in my office.

Be safe. Set your sail.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

First Exercise, Next Food? On to Losing Weight!

I like ice cream.

“I could lose like 40 pounds easily?”

“No, it’s going to be really, really hard.”

That was the exchange between Penn Jillette (Magician, actor, interesting dude) and Ray Cronise (Scientist dude working to innovate weight loss). The exchange was detailed by Penn as he was interviewed on “The Tim Ferriss Podcast.”

As Penn continued, “No one had ever said that to me before.”

I Want to Exercise?

I know we don’t want to hear it, but finally it was said, changing the way we eat is hard. Me, I believe changing the way we eat is freakin’ hard. Go ahead and insert any other exclamatory word you want in place of “freakin’.”

I mention this because while the past few months have been, for me, about getting in an exercise groove, a groove I am happy to say is getting deeper and deeper as I shift from “I should exercise” to “I want to exercise,” I’m now beginning to take a harder look at the food side of things. Why? Because that is really where the weight loss magic happens.

Sure, I’ve incorporated a few, healthy changes into my eating repertoire, at least they seem healthy so far. I started a fasting-mimicking regimen that has seemingly helped an auto-immune issue I suffered with, my caffeine intake has plummeted from six-plus espresso shots coupled with three cups of coffee every morning down to just three espressos, and I’m eating more almonds and less chips. Yay, me!

My Three Amigos

I like donuts.

My current downfalls, though? Ice cream, donuts, and beer. Oh heck, just food, just about all food.

And crap, I really, really like ice cream, donuts, and beer. Oh heck, I really, really like just about all food.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m mainlining ice cream while eating donuts and washing them down with beer, but whereas the biggest challenge for adding exercise to my life was, some mornings, getting my ass out of bed so that I could get said ass on the Peloton bike, this food thing is mostly about taking away. Who wants to have stuff they love taken away?

The other thing that I think that makes weight loss so difficult is that you can look at most any “diet” plan and one of the selling points is how easy it is.

Fun at New Mexico Brew Fest

Weight Watchers is out there with a “program proven to make weight loss easier.” Something called “Noom” has multiple people in its commercial saying, “It was super easy.” Even the South Beach Diet, which has seemingly been around forever, on its website touts, “It’s easy and it works.”

I’ve tried some of these weight loss things as well as others, and sure, they seem easy at the beginning, but there has always come a point where I have drifted back into eating too much ice cream, having that extra donut, and suddenly they aren’t easy any longer.

Honesty is the Best Policy?

I like food.

Maybe these plans should be honest and, like Ray Cronise explained to Penn Jillette, tell you that losing weight is going to be really, really hard. I don’t know if that can be inspirational or awesome for you, but it most likely is the truth. You know why? It is hard. That’s right, it’s really, really hard to change your diet in order to lose weight.

Maybe, just maybe, you are one of the lucky ones and have found that “easy” weight loss program, one that you have stuck with for at least five years. If so, I would love to know what that is, just use the comments area below. Me, I’m going with a new thought that any change to my diet that is supposed to be healthier is going to be really, really hard. In fact, it’s probably going to be really, really, freakin’ hard.

I can’t wait to see how my new “The It’s Really, Really Freakin’ Hard Diet Plan” works!

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

Don’t Question Other’s Grief

“What?”

This was blurted out in tandem, by me and my wife, as she was fast-forwarding whatever we were watching and somehow landed on a graphic showing, “Kobe Bryant, 1978 – 2020.” 

“Kobe Bryant died?”

The rewind button was quickly pressed and there it was, the “breaking story” that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash.

The initial shock came to me, a seeming pause in time, as is normal when you hear of the sudden death of someone, whether they be a person close to you or even a celebrity.

I headed to Twitter where my feed instantly changed from blurbs about the impeachment, computer programming, and utter nonsense, to about 20 straight tweets of disbelief and hope the news was incorrect.

Grieve

I found myself stunned but not really sad. I felt bad for his family and the families of the other people who died in the crash. I kept checking if there was more news, maybe a reason for the crash, and then I caught the stories of visibly grieving people, folks who most likely never met the man but only experienced him as a basketball player. I have to say that my first reaction seeing them was to wonder how they could find themselves so emotional about a person with whom they had no direct connection except maybe through basketball.

Then I remembered my reaction upon hearing of the death of Clarence Clemons back in June, 2011. 

Yup, some tears came to my eyes back then, and I remembered him with a Facebook post, “RIP Clarence Clemons. Thank you for your saxophone playing, and for being one of The Three Most Important People in the World.” Some of my friends caught the reference to his roll in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”

It was one of the few times I actually acknowledged the passing of someone I didn’t really know.

The odd thing was that in the world of my life Clarence wasn’t that much of an influence, at least I never thought he was, until he died. Up until then he was always just a member of the E-Street band, and I liked him in the few movies he was a part of. For whatever reason, and maybe it just hit me at a time when I didn’t want to think about my own mortality, his death had an emotional effect on me. I grieved, if ever so briefly.

It's okay to grieve.

In reflecting back on my experience I re-understood how the people could get emotional over Kobe Bryant, someone they didn’t personally know. For me Kobe was a great basketball player, but to others he was much more. I’ve also realized those people needed their time to grieve, it wasn’t my place to wonder about it, and better they grieve at the moment, for, from The Daily Stoic and a quote from Seneca, “It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it. For if it has withdrawn, being merely beguiled by pleasures and preoccupations, it starts up again and from its very respite gains force to savage us.”

Me, I’m hoping to try to be less judgmental the next time I see stories of people grieving over a celebrity, because, heck, I have to remember that I did it, too. In the end it is never our place to understand why someone might grieve but to support them, and if that grief begins to, as Seneca put it, “savage” them, our responsibility is to urge them to seek out others who can help them conquer that grief.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

Just the Right Time

I keep a list of quotes I’ve heard. Some of them I put in my Inspire My Awesome app so they pop up from time to time, and others are just on this list that I revisit. It’s funny to me, though, how at just the right time one of those quotes will present itself because it’s what I need to help me break through a barrier.

The barrier might be a bad mood, the barrier might be self-doubt, or the barrier might be fear, but for some mystical reason the universe knows just what I need. It makes me revisit my thoughts, suddenly things are a little bit clearer, and I can move forward.

Save That Quote

Looking back with regret is a young man's game. - Rick Rubin

One of the quotes that just resonated with me recently was from Rick Rubin, “Looking back with regret is a young man’s game.”

I can’t remember what podcast he said it on, I think it was from “Broken Record” when he was talking to Brandi Carlile and Tanya Tucker, but at the time I heard it I thought, “That’s a cool quote,” and I saved it. It became tucked away on my list.

Lately I’ve been in that regret trap of looking back at “could’ve beens.” I think it’s because of the change to a new year and reflecting on the past. The two “could’ve beens” at the top of the list were my old website, “Entertainment Ave!”, and “The Entertainment Ave! Podcast” I used to record. I was reflecting back on how much I enjoyed both of them and how, at the time, they were cutting edge as I started Entertainment Ave! back in 1996 and the first podcast was back sometime in 2006.

Old Podcast Icon

While I still putz around with Entertainment Ave!, the podcast is long gone. Back in those old days the website was just starting to gain traction as the place for entertainment reviews. The podcast, while it had no traction, was at such an early stage most no one knew what a podcast was so its possibilities were limitless. The regret comes around when I think how “cutting edge” they were at the time, and if I had just put a little bit more effort they might have had the chance to “become something” as one might say.

No Effort

The thing is that I didn’t put in the effort, and I know it. That is what I was regretting and letting get me down. And then Rick Rubin’s quote decided it should show itself again, popping up on my app just in time to reset my attitude.

“Looking back with regret is a young man’s game.”

While I’m not an old man, I’m not a young man either, and thanks to that quote I have been able to change the regret thoughts back to the thoughts they need to be, “That’s the past. You can’t change it. Learn. Move forward. Live.”

If you are young and reading this, go ahead and let a regret super-charge you to your next level. You still have a chance to let the few regrets you might have help you redirect your path. If you are not young and reading this you don’t have time for regrets any longer, you just have time to live.

Don’t let today be another regret. Move forward. Live.

Thanks for stopping by! Keeping being awesome and inspired!

Some Days Fight the Urge and Take it Slow

Now, back a few weeks ago, I wrote about my newfound like, I hesitate to call it “love,” of exercise. At that time things were mostly on our treadmill using the Peloton digital service (find me as “InspireMyAwesom”). Things were going well, I was fairly content with the service, but I believe the folks at Peloton must put some kind of subliminal message in their video stream because ever so slowly all I could think about was their bike.

As I began to obsess my wife did one of the things she does best and gave that last nudge to make the purchase. The bike arrived in early December, and I was hooked. As December continued I felt bad for the Peloton instructors who did treadmill classes because I basically deserted Rebecca, Selena, and Matty for Emma, Sam, Kendall, and Alex on the bike.

Perfect Activity Month

January Activity Rings

As December was coming to a close, and it was the proverbial time of year to make a challenge for yourself, I decided that for the month of January I wanted to get a “perfect activity month” on my iPhone. If I were to just do one Peloton class every day, during January, I should have no problem closing both my “Exercise” and “Move” rings, and the “Stand” ring should easily follow.

Easy-peasy!

Then came the past weekend.

All was going great. I was through ten days, pushing harder than I thought I would, and figured I should take some recovery rides over the weekend. Sure, I could have pulled up one of the older “Low Impact” rides, or I could take a live class called a “45 Minute Sweat Steady Ride” with Jess King and just take it easy.

I opted for the live class, and therein was my problem.

The Ride Kicked My Ass

While my body said I should take it easy, my mind got sucked right into the class. I started peddling harder and harder, and I ended up getting a personal record for a 45 minute class. I kicked ass, and then the ride kicked my ass.

Nope, I didn’t listen to myself, I didn’t take it easy, and my left hip started hurting, my legs were super-sore, and all I worried about now was would I be able to exercise on Sunday.

Hobbling around the rest of Saturday I tried to stretch my legs, put on some gel that was supposed to ease the pain, and popped an Aleve. My January challenge had the potential to be derailed.

Bedtime came, I rolled into bed, let the heated blanket do some work, and surprisingly felt better on Sunday.

Just Ride

What to do? I know, a “Low Impact” ride with Alex Toussaint.

Now, I have come to like rides with Alex leading the way, but I have to say that there is nothing “Low Impact” about Alex. His energy is infectious, all you really want to do when taking his class is go faster, but thankfully, in between his encouragement to push it a little harder, he kept reminding those, like me, who needed to take it easy, that, well, we should take it easy.

As hard as it was to settle in and just ride, I did just that.

I had my second-lowest, 30 minute output during a ride since we got the bike, and it was just what my body needed.

My hip loosened up, my muscles got their life back, and thanks to fighting that urge to keep pushing it, which was really hard to do with Alex as the instructor, Monday morning came, and I was refreshed.

The lesson through all of this? Sometimes taking it slow is really the way to go. Outside sources might be urging you to push it a little harder, but in the end you should stick to your plan. My plan on Saturday was to take things easy, and I didn’t. It almost cost me. Thankfully I’m back on track for my perfect activity January, 13 days down, and 18 more to go!

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

Easy Dreams & Hard Dreams: Giant Checks, Pete Townshend, & Elton John

The other night, in my dreams, I was at a Costco. That’s simple enough, I suppose I needed big things. Weirdly, though, it appeared they were getting ready for a concert at said Costco. There were lights, a stage, and speakers in the area people are usually eating pizza. I asked the employee about the setup, and he seemed surprised. The situation was weird.

Upon closer investigation they were filming a commercial.

That seemed more weird.

An Old Pete Townsend and a Young Elton John

Up rolled Pete Townshend of The Who. I write, “rolled,” because he arrived in a wheelchair, and Pete is still able-bodied as of this writing. Why he was in a wheelchair, I have no idea.

Elton John in Concert
Elton John, getting to be an elder back in 1998. Photo by me, Andy Labis.

Next came Elton John. It was not Elton John the elder, but Elton John the younger, looking, well, like Elton John from the days of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

Mind you I don’t recall thinking about either of these two fellows in the weeks leading up to this dream.

As the rock stars show up I tried to sneak pictures with my phone. It seemed like the phone was taking pictures, but every time I looked the pictures looked blurry, distorted, and generally messed up. Then, weirdly, my phone “squished” itself into a phone about half the size of my current phone, and I had to make it full size by stretching it.

And then I woke up.

Day Dreams and Night Dreams

Now, day dreams are easy to figure out. “I dream of winning the lottery!” That one has a pretty simple explanation, you want to hold a giant check in front of TV cameras. Or maybe, “I dream of having a big house!” Yup, you like vacuuming.

The tough dreams to figure out are the dreams you have at night.

Sure, there are a myriad of Internet places to analyze and interpret dreams. If you do the Google of “Interpret your dreams,” you might find a place called PsychCentral and an article by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. on how to analyze your dreams. At oprah.com you can learn about why your teeth are falling out, why you are cheating on your partner, and what an upcoming invasion by aliens might mean. There is something in The Huffington Post, of course, and someone named Laurie will tell you about your dreams at www.whatyourdreammeans.com, but only if you “share/like/follow or tweet my site on social media.”

Sadly none of the sites could explain an old, Pete Townshend in a wheelchair filming a commercial with a younger Elton John, at a Costco in the area where you might find yourself eating a slice of pizza. Well, Laurie might have been able to, but I didn’t feel like sharing her site on my social media.

Usually I can piece together something about a dream, but for this one I’ve got nothing. I suppose my mind is trying to figure something out about rock and roll and Costco, which is cool, but I maybe I should just get back to my dream of holding a giant check in front of TV cameras.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

Unexpected Fun

It was supposed to be just brunch, but then unexpected fun showed up.

My wife and I were in Houston to visit my family, and we timed the travel between the craziness of Thanksgiving and the short time off around Christmas.

Time for Brunch

A brunch with my nephew and his girlfriend was in order, but the question was “Where to go?” My nephew suggested Piggy’s Kitchen and Bar, on West Lamar, outside the downtown Houston area. My wife and I arrived first and, while coming up to the door, I heard some sort of ruckus on the outdoor patio. Not a bad ruckus, but some loudness and what sounded like Broadway show tunes. Weird.

We entered, were offered a table inside or on the patio, and me, I wanted to be outside with the ruckus!

Look, there’s Entertainment

The Broad's Way from Houston appearing at Piggy's Kitchen and Bar.

And there they were, The Broad’s Way. Turns out The Broad’s Way is a drag queen revue that performs Broadway show tunes amid some jokes. Yup, unbeknownst to any of us it turns out that Piggy’s currently has “Brunch with The Broad’s Way” on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, from 11AM to 2PM. None of us were expecting it, and unfortunately we weren’t there until about 12:30 so we missed some of the show. We did, however, catch enough of the fun and fantastically talented members of the revue who wonderfully entertained the crown amidst gathering dollar bills from the customers, including one from yours truly.

Yup, what was going to be just your standard “catching up with family brunch” turned into unexpected fun. People were enjoying themselves, laughing, and smiling thanks to The Broad’s Way, all the while eating some great brunch from Piggy’s Kitchen and Bar.

Go With the Flow

Sure, it would have been easy to be upset or perturbed that there was some event interrupting the catching up of family, but sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow. When the unexpected does show up embrace it, enjoy it, and let it turn a normal experience into one with a story. The best stories many times come from the unexpected, and this time the story was one of unexpected fun.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

Some Questions Have No Definitive Answer

What way does the bow go on a wreath? There is no definitive answer.

On one of my other websites, Entertainment Ave!, I can always tell when the Christmas holiday is coming? Why? Because I had a poll called “The Wreath-Bow Conundrum.” The post was about where the bow should go on a wreath. Simply, should the bow be on the top or bottom of a wreath? Oddly, for this, there appears to be no definitive answer, and that’s okay.

Every year around the holidays the post starts to get an uptick in views. I’m guessing it’s simply that people are beginning to decorate their houses for whatever they are celebrating, and if wreath hanging is involved, and said wreath has a bow, there is generally a discussion on if the bow should be at the top or the bottom of the wreath.

Conflicting Answers

Over the years this has fascinated me for some reason because there really seems to be no answer. If you Google “bow on a wreath” and look at the images, there is a multitude of wreath pictures all with the bows on the top. The wreath that we hung on the door the year of the post had no definitive answer, either, as there wasn’t a hook for the wreath to signify top nor bottom. As we hung the wreath, with just a little manipulation, the bow was able to hang in either direction.

We opted for the bottom of the wreath for the bow that year.

Also, whereas the Google images lean towards top placement, the poll results on Entertainment Ave! showed an overwhelming, or at least a bunch of people, prefer their bow on the bottom (60% bottom hangers to 40% top hangers), at least as of last week.

Internet searching is also no help. Some sites say the top, other sites say the bottom, but the general consensus is there is no answer as long as you think it looks okay.

Two Wreaths?

The problem, however, is if you think the bow looks good on the top of the wreath while your partner thinks the bow looks better on the bottom, or vice versa. My suggestion for this dilemma is to hang two wreaths.

With whatever holiday you are celebrating this season just remember that of all of the arguments you might get into, for the subject of bow placement, there is no answer, and that is okay. Just do what makes you feel good, even if that means hanging the wreath to make your partner happy. Really, isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to be about anyway?

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

Motivation Even When Denied

It’s funny, sometimes, how the smallest of things can be a form of motivation, and then, when that small thing is taken away, well, it’s tough to get the motivation back.

The funnier thing was that there was no guarantee, at the beginning, that this small thing would even be a possibility yet I let it motivate me, and then somehow I let it being taken away motivate me more.

Let’s get to it….

The Challenge?

I was told about a possible exercise challenge. The gist was that if you hit some exercise goals you could earn up to three dollars a day.

How could I ever get F.I.T.?

One goal was fairly easy, $1 for walking 3,000 steps in 30 minutes. That’s not too bad as all it really came down to was a brisk walk for about 20 to 30 minutes.

A second dollar could be earned if you walked 10,000 steps in a day. I thought to myself, “Self, that shouldn’t be too bad, especially if you are getting those 3,000 steps in.”

Lastly you could earn a third dollar if, I suppose, you had no job because you had to figure out a way to walk 500 steps in under seven minutes, during six different hours. Even I can’t come up with that many breaks during a day.

So, two dollars a day for five to six days a week over the course of a year, that was my goal. Yup, $500ish bucks for getting healthy, or at least being an awesome power-walker!

And so, without the confirmation of being able to actually be a part of this exercise challenge, I started.

Search “InspireMyAwesom” on Peloton

Search for InspireMyAwesom on Peloton. Don't deny my motivation!

The good thing was that I already was slowly getting back to exercising. We had a treadmill so that was a start, and there weren’t any coats hanging on it. I decided to join Peloton Digital. Yea, you know those people with the exercise bikes? Turns out they also have a treadmill, or, for people who don’t want to re-invest in a new treadmill, you can at least participate in their classes via their digital platform.

I signed up with the username “InspireMyAwesom” a month or so before the thoughts of this exercise challenge even arrived, but now I was really stoked that this could actually help pay for my monthly subscription. All I had to do was get on that treadmill, let Selena Samuela, Becs Gentry, or Matty Maggiacomo keep me motivated, and Bamm!, here would come a dollar, and I would be well on my way towards two buckaroos a day!

For almost two and a half weeks I busted my ass, clocking in about 178,000 steps and 83.5 miles. I would drive my wife crazy walking through the house to get 500 more steps until she did the smart thing, as she does, and suggested I go walk on the treadmill instead of freak out the dog by walking around the kitchen island. I suggested longer walks on non-treadmill days, parked a little further away from entrances, but then the day came….

No Dough for You!

“Sorry, you don’t qualify for the challenge.”

Yup, my hopes of easy money vanished into thin air, and crap, I already would have earned $26.00.

I can't believe I did 178,000 steps! How's that for motivation?

My dollar motivation was taken away.

As dumb as it sounds, I was bummed. Thoughts of just stopping exercising quickly came to my head, let alone walking around for an extra ten minutes just to get 10,000 steps. I mean, what was the point? The tiny bit of money motivation factor to go those extra few steps was gone.

The next day, however, those thoughts began to change. Maybe this exercise thing was actually starting to become a habit. I mean sure, I wasn’t getting to 10,000 steps each day before the possible exercise challenge anyway, but I was really enjoying the Peloton classes. I always looked forward to the live classes at 5AM especially when I would get a shout-out, and even when there wasn’t a live class, I mean, who doesn’t like a 30 minute Broadway Fun Run with Matty or a 30 minute interval run with Selena. Heck, I even liked the Yoga Flow classes with Anna Greenberg and hoped to put more of them into my schedule.

Suddenly the thought of seeing how much real money I wouldn’t make had turned into motivation. When my wife and I would go for a walk, and I made the 3,000 step goal, I would say to her, “I didn’t make a dollar!” The other day I had already not earned a dollar by walking over 10,000 steps, but I looked at my Apple watch as I got into bed and it read “Total Steps: 10,999.” Yes, I got out of bed and walked so I would get over 11,000!

Did I Really Want to be a Power Walker?

The other thing is that the loss of that financial motivation might now be a proverbial blessing in disguise. Why? That exercise challenge limited the benefit to steps. I could bust my ass benching 300 pounds for 30 minutes and guess what? No money that’s what! I might find myself doing yoga for an hour and what do I get for my effort? No dollar! Without the dollar or two my exercise possibilities have grown. Why be limited to walking around, I mean, how am I going to get abs of steel and giant guns for biceps by just walking, right?

How long will this exercise thing last? I’m shooting for the rest of my life, but who knows? What I have discovered with this is that sometimes we get motivated by what we might obtain while sometimes the motivation comes along from something we are denied.

Would I like the money? Sure, but somewhere along the way feeling better has become worth more than a couple of bucks.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep being awesome and inspired!

Ready for Sale!

Inspire My Awesome App

This app development road wasn’t supposed to be this long, I mean, it started in late 2018. Finally, though, Inspire My Awesome is ready for everyone with an iPhone or iPad, and it’s even updated for iOS 13 with dark mode!

The journey began with my desire to get one of my older apps, Make Me Smile, updated. To do it I would have to learn the Swift programming language and convert the app over from Objective-C.

A Lot of Learnin’ to Do

Right off the bat I realized there was a lot of learnin’ I was going to have to do in order to get my little ol’ app updated.

To get there I hunted for a variety of places to learn Swift. The good news is there are a ton of resources out there if you want to learn on your own. The bad news is there are a ton of resources out there if you want to learn on your own.

I settled on a combination of printed material and some online courses.

My starting point was this big ol’ book called “Beginning iPhone Development with Swift: Exploring the iOS SDK.” I had the book lying around for years and knew some of it was outdated, but the concepts would be the core knowledge I would need so I finally cracked the binding. Apple had their “Everyone Can Code” series which I downloaded, I studied some of the Stanford classes on iTunes U, and even went the Udemy route with a course “iOS 11 & Swift 4 – The Complete iOS App Development Bootcamp.”

While the various “courses” took me through the learnin’, in the back of my mind was another thought, “Why don’t you make a new app and update Make Me Smile down the road?”

At the time I had no great inspiration for a new app, but the thought of creating something new sounded exciting!

Inspiration From a Lousy Inspiration List

Who knew a lousy system for inspiration would actually be part of the inspiration for a new app?

You see, for years I had kept this document simply called “Inspire Me.” I would add things to it that were supposed to help nudge me along in this life, but the list was just kind of “there.” I rarely looked at it except to add more tidbits of inspiration. It was kind of sad, really, as I would see the list and realize most of the things on it had been forgotten as inspirations.

What could I ever do with this list to remind me of the things in it to stay inspired?

Jar of Awesome?

Along with my crappy inspiration list was something not so crappy. During a couple episodes of The Tim Ferriss Show, I heard Tim talk about this thing called a “Jar of Awesome.” The jar of awesome was well, a jar. He was told by his ex-girlfriend to “write down the things that were awesome that happened that day, however small they might be, fold it up, put it in the jar of awesome.” Why? As Tim says, “When you get into a funk, when you’re feeling down, when you’re feeling uncreative, whatever it might be, go through and read these pieces of paper, these little self made fortune cookies of goodness from this jar.”

I found the concept kind of fun. I also thought it might be more fun being digital instead of a big ol’ jar on the counter, because, well, I do like clean counters even if I do let clutter occasionally creep in.

Better Inspiration Through Morning Pages

While my nighttime had become a time for studying and learning, part of my morning routine has been doing this thing called Morning Pages which I read about while reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The easiest way for me to describe Morning Pages, if you haven’t heard of it before, is that it is basically a brain dump before the day gets going. Part of it is kind of journaling, part of it might be getting things out of your head that are bothering you, and for me, sometimes new ideas or resolutions to problems present themself while I’m just writing down the thoughts in my head.

As it was, during a session, I went back to the idea of creating a new app instead of updating my old one, and a thought came to me, “Why don’t you combine your ‘Inspire Me’ list with a digital ‘Jar of Awesome’ and make an app that will remind you, during the day, of your awesomeness as well as things that inspire you?”

Who Doesn’t Like a Leprechaun?

I thought about it, liked the idea, and “Inspire ‘Me’ Awesome” was born. Something didn’t seem quite right about the name, so I ran things past my nephew. He liked the idea for the app but thought the name sounded kind of like a Leprechaun talking. So, I asked, “What about ‘Inspire My Awesome’?”

He thought that sounded better.

He’s a smart dude.

With much of the online classroom work completed, sketches were made of the flow of the app, initial concepts came and went, and things kept getting tweaked for a better user experience. With the learning taking place in late 2018, the coding finally started in early 2019. I had to add learning about Apple CloudKit so the app would share the things between devices, found a way to handle subscriptions for users who wanted to add unlimited entries (thanks RevenueCat!), and went through the sometimes nerve-racking submittals of the Apple app store.

Ready for Sale, Eventually!

Inspire My Awesome Ready for Sale

My first submission was rejected, as I write about in App Rejection Doesn’t Mean I’m a Failure, but then it came, “Ready for sale.” It was just as exciting for me as when I launched that first app, Make Me Smile, some nine and a half years ago.

I had a new app on the App Store!

There were a couple of tweaks needed to tighten up the app experience, a few updates to make sure it would run on iOS 13 and be ready for dark mode, but I’m finally at a place where I can see Inspire My Awesome grow.

There are a lot of updates planned down the road, I will be revisiting my other app, Make Me Smile, and writing a lot of blog posts, but finally I can take a quick breath and be reminded of things that inspire me and of my awesomeness. My inspiration list is no longer just “there,” nor is it sad, in fact, it’s kind of awesome!

Don’t be like I was and put your inspirations and awesomeness in a list you will never revisit! Let Inspire My Awesome help you check in on them from time to time! Head to the Apple App Store. Inspire My Awesome is free for up to fourteen entries, and for the price of a couple of cups a coffee a year, or a few giant sodas, or a beer and a half at a ballpark, unlimited entries and the ability to add inspirational photos can also be yours.

Thanks for reading! Keep being awesome and inspired!