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!

App Rejection Doesn’t Mean I’m a Failure

Your iOS app is rejected. Rejection doesn't mean you fail.

My first blog post on “Inspire My Awesome” wasn’t supposed to be this. It was supposed to start, “Yay! My app was approved!” As you can guess my upcoming app was not approved, there was nothing but rejection. Boo.

At first I was upset, “Why was my ‘perfect’ app rejected?” Then I read the explanations. One reason appeared to be technical, the other semantic.

Submitting a new iPhone app to Apple for review is strange mix of excitement and nervousness, at least for me.  It begins with hitting the “Submit” button, and then waiting.

You wait.

Sometimes the wait is short, sometimes the wait is long, but then “In Review” day arrives.

Then guess what?

Yup, you wait some more.

And you wait.

You have no choice.

Tormenting My Wife

If you are obsessive, as I can get, you are constantly checking the web site or the App Connect App. Maybe you missed the notification and, “Yay, my app was approved!” Mostly, though, you just keep seeing the little, yellow dot, “In review,” and torment your wife with “It’s still in review.”

As it was, my app was “In review” for a few days, it was a Friday night, and I figured nothing would really happen until Monday. I went to bed content for a weekend of not worrying about the status.

Then I woke up to use the restroom as sometimes happens in the night, and I glanced at my phone. There it was! The notification from Apple! “Holy crap, I went to bed and my app was approved!”

You Lose!

Nope. Sound the “You lose!” buzzer as loud as you can.

The app status has changed to Rejected. What does "rejection" really mean?

I did my business, and then checked why Apple decided my app wasn’t so “perfect.” It’s like studying your butt off for the final exam, taking said exam, turning in the exam thinking you aced it, and then finding out that you failed.

“Guess I won’t be sleeping any more tonight.”

“Crap.

“What the hell does “your server needs to be able to handle a production-signed app getting its receipts from Apple’s test environment” mean?

“Crap.”

“Crap.”

Those were some of the things going through my head.

What to do?

Time to Meditate

It was 1AM, I really should get back to sleep, and there really wasn’t anything I could do about it right then. So I decided to meditate.

Sure, it was disappointing, but really, it’s just a slight setback. I Googled the technical reason for the rejection and found many others had the same thing happen to them. The technical reason appeared to be something I missed in development, and can be fixed. The semantic reason just needs a better explanation from me to Apple, so that can be fixed.

While the meditation wasn’t the greatest of sessions, it did calm me down, and shifted my “feeling like a loser” state to “rejection doesn’t mean I’m a failure.”

Timely Reading

As coincidence would have it, my reading of “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living” for today, June 22nd, was “The Definition of Insanity,” where Ryan Holliday explains, “Failure is a part of life we have little choice over. Learning from failure, on the other hand, is optional. We have to choose to learn. We must consciously opt to do things differently—to tweak and change until we actually get the result we’re after. But that’s hard.”

It’s not back to the drawing board, it’s back to tweaking and changing, hitting “Submit,” and then waiting to get the result I’m after…

“Ready for sale.”

Thanks for reading! Keep being awesome and inspired!