Mid Year Review of My New Year’s Resolutions

At the beginning of the year I declared 2018 to be the “Year of Focus and Discipline.” This year was supposed to be the year when I finally got my self together and became productive. In keeping with that theme I am writing this review several weeks late.

How am I doing with my goal of more focus? As in all things it depends on what you look at. Some parts of my life are more in focus. Other parts not so much. Overall I think I am doing well.

What’s in focus?

My emotions. I am a bit more settled emotionally. I will talk about my anxiety regimine on Friday.

My blogging. I am a bit more committed to this writing thing. Despite sometimes feeling low on ideas, I have managed to keep up with my posting far more regularly than last year. I have made writing a priority and I have managed to stick with it.

My confidence. In writing, in painting, even in my sloppy guitar playing.

My finances. Even though we still have way too much debt and things are super tight, for the first time in my adult life I actually have some clue about where our money is and where it is going (for the ten minutes from deposit to going right back out).

My listening. I think I have gotten better at listening before I speak. My wife may not agree. I’ll have to ask, and then listen to her answer. Likewise I think I am doing better at responding rather than reacting.

What is yet to be focused?

My time management is still terrible. While I have developed some habits it is still difficult to keep track of my hours and days.

My anxiety still gets the best of me at times.

I still flounder a bit at taking care of myself. I do healthy things for awhile and then stop. Then I get bad at helping others because I am so wrecked myself.

Let’s hope the second half of this year is a bit more focused and that I can conquer those things I’m still weak in.

How’s everyone else doing on their New Year’s Resolutions? Do you even remember them? Let me know in the comments!

If you like my paintings/photography/blogs, please follow me!

And don’t forget to check out my Steemit page.
And many of my images are available as prints on my Artpal page @ https://www.artpal.com/driptorchstudio

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Niche Markets Are Such a Bore

Because I can…

I read a post the other week which purported to tell the reader how to be a super successful blogger. I may or may not be a super successful blogger, I am not entirely positive how to judge such a thing. This person’s advice was to pick a niche and stick with it. Not a narrow niche mind you. But a niche just the same.

To me however, a niche is narrow by definition. A niche boxes you into a corner and tells you that when you just aren’t in the mood to write about the same topic “too bad, your audience wants consistency.”

Consistency is the key to success when it comes to blogging, so they say. Write every post about cooking or travel and you will get 10,000 followers. Write frou frou sentimental platitudes and people will read you every day. I agree with these assertions. I have seen them in action. The most successful bloggers are the ones who day in and day out write about the same crap ad nauseum.

Personally though, I couldn’t care less about a niche. To me, variety is the spice of life. If I bore you one day with history I may interest you the next with money making tips. One day you might snooze at my art opinions but after a few posts you might just fall in love with my frou frou sentimentality.

Why limit yourself to one topic, fellow bloggers? Why put yourself into a box of predictability? Does your niche really gain you a lot of satisfaction? Or are you writing just for the paycheck? Is writing for a paycheck allowing you to do what you love or have you given up what you love just for the paycheck?

The author made a point about goals. He said you can’t attain goals without consistency. Do you make it a goal to stay passionate about your niche? What happens when you lose that passion? Is your goal to have a million fans or is it to do what you’re passionate about? I realize those are not mutually exclusive, but I feel for some people, passion about a subject doesn’t necessarily draw a crowd. Maybe they have a waning passion, maybe the subject at hand is frankly boring.

Someone has to write the boring stuff. Someone has to write about the not-so-popular subjects. Someone has to write about history, or make suggestions about music, or long treatises about government, interspersed with sappy love stuff and poetry. We can’t all write about amazing foods we have tried in far off exotic places. Some of us just like to write randomly about whatever we want.

And some of us consider that ability to be a success.

Inky Blackness

I’m sorry, is my negativity showing?

Sometimes I lie awake in inky blackness, wondering why I can’t seem to get it right.

Which buttons do I push to get this whole thing to work?

How much do I have to grope around in the night?

Sometimes I wish I was an optimist.

And not just a long term optimist, but one who knows today is OK.

I want to be the optimist who knows he won’t forever be swallowed by a suffocating and inky blackness.

That’s not too much to ask, is it? That’s not a tall order once you are done tackling your anxiety.

Once you kill the thought that everything is not OK. Once you put to death the belief that your needs will not be met.

When those wicked thoughts are in their graves, then comes the optimism, right?

I am optimistically hoping so.

Music and Art Monday, June 11th 2018: Evolution

Sometimes I am a bit hard on myself. OK, much of the time I am a bit hard on myself. This goes for all things performance related. Life is performance based. We all strive to perform the best we can, at whatever we do, and sometimes we tend to beat ourselves up if our performance does not match our expectations.

Some things are easier to compare than others. If we are lifting weights we can see progress from lighter weight to heavier weight. If we are running we can watch our mile times shrink. Other things aren’t so tangible. Some things are so gradual that we hardly notice the change at all.

Painting is one such thing. Skill growth is so gradual that you won’t see changes over a short span of time. But if you look back you will see drastic differences.

Nicole, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Nicole, Oil on Canvas, 2018

Or you may see no difference at all..

After the Bath, Acrylic on Paper, 2014. My first painting.
The Room, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes you just have a change of perspective.

Fine Cigars, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Fine Cigars Revisit, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes your details get sharper.

Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, January 2014
Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, June 2014

Frequently you change the way you see yourself.

Self Portrait, Acrylic on Paper, 2014
Self Imposed, Acrylic on Paper, 2016

The evolution of our abilities isn’t always linear or perfect. We ebb and flow in our talents. Sometimes we meet our own expectations, sometimes we fall short. But we should always keep going…

The Beautiful Life

“Expedition Happiness” Watch on Netflix. Or don’t.

Sometimes when I read blogs or watch documentaries all I can think is “How do these hipsters make it look so easy?”

I don’t know what kind of world these people live in, they are always young, always attractive, frequently childless, and always seem to have an endless stream of money. They seem more like fictional characters than real people. You have to wonder what they do for a living, are they ever stressed? Do they get bored? Do they fight? Where is the ugly in their life?

Sure, sometimes the bus breaks down, the visa gets denied, or the cake in the oven falls. But these people always seem to handle it with a smile. Or at the very least they look gorgeous while crying.

Well, that ain’t my life.

I get sick. Nothing productive happens for days at a stretch. My kids make giant messes, animals get into my trash, my trailer sometimes smells like something died in it.

People thrive on positive. We love comedy and run from tragedy. We live vicariously through these adventurers and beautiful hipsters. We don’t like our conventional lives, so we read about theirs and forget our problems for a bit.

But who’s to say your conventional life is ugly? Who’s to say you aren’t living a beautiful life, even if it isn’t quite the adventure these people seem to have? Life is a gift, even with its warts and wrinkles. Life is beautiful even with the sickness and the smells.

You don’t have to read blogs or watch fru-fru documentaries (both of which I do. Too much.) to enjoy a beautiful life. All you have to do is start enjoying yours.

Making Money Like a Millennial: Steemit

Old and new logos. I prefer the old.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for me to pick up the series again. I have decided to start the new year off with my favorite way to Make Money Like a Millennial: Steemit.

This may end up being split up over a couple of posts since it is such a big topic.

What it is:

In short, Steemit is a platform which pays you to create blog posts and other materials.

It’s actually much more than that. Steemit is a social network platform designed to reward posters with a cryptocurrency known as “Steem” and “Steem Backed Dollars” (SBD).

I’ve heard it compared to Reddit or Facebook, but it really is its own unique format. It is similar to Reddit in that comment sections can get quite long and in that posts are almost infinite in subject matter. There are upvotes and downvotes also.

It’s similar to Facebook in that there are… actually no. I’m not sure why it is ever compared to Facebook. It’s pretty much Reddit, but with actual rewards for your upvotes.

Steemit1
My Feed page, which contains posts mainly from those who I follow.

How to get started:

Very simple, go here and choose a user name, give them an email address and a phone number, enter the verification code, wait for a confirmation email, sign in and you are on your way!

steemit2
My Blog page, you can see the upvotes and amount of SBD for each post.

The best way to start your Steemit career is to post an introduction post about yourself. Basically just tell us your niche in the Steemit world. Do you write about cryptocurrencies? Do you blog about politics, love, marriage? Are you a photographer? Painter? Tell us about yourself!

What do you do

General experience:

Steemit is definitely a learning curve. The platform itself is relatively easy to use, but the finer details for success take time to learn. You won’t get rich quick by any means with this.

Overall I have enjoyed the experience. I like blogging anyway, so Steemit just adds to my experience.

How much money are we talking here?

I didn’t know a lick about crypto currency when I started and I didn’t bother to look into it for almost a year. Knowing how to trade your Steem and SBD for other currencies is key to success with Steemit.

At first you won’t make much at all. Your upvote will only be worth about $0.01 SBD and you won’t be out there in front of a lot of people. As you gain followers, get more upvotes, and upvote stuff yourself you will gradually watch your wallet grow.

My Steem wallet is currently worth about $3,000 US. Most of this is locked up in Steem Power, which is not easily converted. In the past four months or so, I have moved about $500 off of Steemit into other currencies. So, at my pace (admittedly slow, I was off Steemit for about 3 months) you can make about $3,500 a year.

I have seen some folks who have been on only a few months who already have twice as much. It depends largely on your content and how many whales you attract.

Also, just like any crypto you are able to invest your own money into Steemit. If you choose to do this your votes will be worth more and you will earn money quicker.

General tips:

Where to start? I may make a second post to give you all the tips, there are loads of them.

But for now I’ll give you these:

Stick with it! Persistence is key for most things in life, and Steemit is no exception. Post every day, even if it’s just a photo of something cool you saw the day before.

Comment and upvote, carefully. Don’t just scroll through your feed and ignore everything. Don’t scroll through and upvote everything either. Vote for only the stuff you think is really good. In the beginning you won’t have a lot of voting power, so use it wisely. And please, comment! A great comment can get you a new follower or two. And since it counts as a post and can be upvoted, a great comment can make you money.

Don’t follow everyone! Like upvotes, you should only follow people you think will post good stuff. Otherwise you will end up with a feed cluttered with crap. No one likes crap. It’s good to have 500 followers, it’s not so good to be following 500. Which reminds me, I need to go purge the rolls a bit.

Bottom line:

Steemit is a great platform to post blogs, photos, artwork, and just about anything else you can think of. With some persistence you can make a good amount of money. So definitely try it out.

And when you do, follow me. I don’t post crap! 🙂

This Year’s Resolutions

The Track of Time?

I’m a little late this year in getting some resolutions out there. Last year I did “Birthday Resolutions” instead of New Years. This year I guess I am too late for Birthday Resolutions, so they will have to be New Years instead!

But first, I want to examine how well I did on last years:

“My biggest resolution this year is to learn contentment.” 

To be honest, I am probably about as content as I have ever been. I am exactly where God has me, and that is never a bad place to be. I have learned to accept every day as it comes for the most part. Anxiety still keeps me from doing this perfectly, but it is a bit easier every day

“For as long as I can remember my focus has been on the negatives of life. I have always seen all of the wrongs and never the rights. I apologize for enjoying anything and feel like I should be ashamed of good feelings. I push down all the good and instead focus on all of the “shoulds” of life. Far too often my response to a blessing is “This should be____” or “I wish this was more____”.” 

This pretty much sums up the definition of anxiety for me. I always assumed that I was just cursed to be a pessimist, but it was so much more serious than that. Thankfully this past year I was able to truly identify the problem and have been working towards fixing it. 

“This year I want to learn how to enjoy my blessings and be content with all that God has given me.” 

See above. 

“I resolve to play with my children more.” Still nowhere near as much as I would like. Exhaustion and busyness tend to get in the way of this. 

“I resolve to love my wife more passionately and with more abandon.” Again, improving but definitely not where I want to be.

“I resolve to take every day as a gift and work to glorify God in each one.” 

There have been whole weeks this past year where I blinked and it seemed the week was gone. This definitely demonstrates that I am not taking my days one at a time and making the best of them. 

“I resolve to live life according to what is, and not according to what I wish it was. I resolve not to take for granted my work, my talents, my family, my friends, or my days here on Earth. I intend to stop saying “I’m sorry” when I enjoy my blessings and instead say “thank you.”” 

I think all of those are good forever resolutions. I would be lying to say that I have vastly improved on any of them, though I feel all have been improved. Sanctification is a slow process. I do say Thank You quite a bit more than I used to. 

So how about 2018? What do I want to work on this year?

Well, in addition to continuing work on all of the above, this year is the year of focus and discipline. 

Focus because anxiety has wracked my brain to the point that it no longer stays on target very well. I get very distracted from simple things like cleaning up a mess or writing a blog post (seriously, I just spent ten minutes looking at the proper use of “wrack” VS “rack” even though I was confident in my usage. Then I went and check my Steemit blog to see if I got any upvotes. It’s bad…)

Discipline because it is very closely tied to focus. Focus is part biology, part discipline. One can have discipline without focus, but one definitely cannot have focus without discipline. I want to be more clear about my purpose. I want to determine priorities and stick to them. There are things in my life that should be givens but are not. I intend to make these things absolutely critical and shape my life around them, not let my life dictate whether or not I get to them. These types of wants take discipline to achieve.

This year will also be the year of listening before I speak. No. Actually listening. Not just thinking about my response the whole time the person blabbers on. No matter how much they blabber on. It’s hard, but I know I can do it. 

Likewise, I want to work on responding instead of reacting. Too often I get triggered and blow up. Or I sweep the feelings of others under a rug before they can fully express them. This is largely because I don’t want to have have feelings myself. It’s another offshoot of anxiety.

Seems like I blame anxiety a lot eh? Anxiety doesn’t make me do anything. I am still responsible for my actions stemming from it. But identifying the weakness and the sin spurring my actions has been immeasurably helpful in getting those sins killed in my life. So if you think you may have genuine anxiety, get help, you’ll be glad you did! 

Anywho. I’ll keep it simple with those. We’ll just assume that I intend to eat right and exercise (isn’t that the normal resolution?).

What are some of your resolutions? Comment below if you have any interesting ones.