Writing Mindset

Over the past few months, my writing has gone from an interest to an ability.  I used to think of post ideas and outline plots throughout the day.  I used to keep a list of concepts to develop and theories to explore.  I used to want to write.  Now I don’t.  It’s not that anything happened, I just don’t think about it as much.

I spend more time reading these days.  My schedule changed back in October and I have more free time than ever before.  But I don’t write, I watch Netflix.

I’ll occasionally think about getting back to it and writing more regularly.  The other side of my mind asks “Why?”  It’s not like I’m getting paid for it, my audience/community/platform isn’t loud enough to demand more words, if it’s not a passion, then why bother typing into the void?

I’ve written a book and hundreds of posts over the years; I’ve studied fictitious plots, creative nonfiction, and journalistic styles; I’ve tried my hand at 6 word stories and longer narratives.  I could continue spinning my wheels, but I don’t think I have anything to write about.

Hopefully in another year I’ll be helping the needy in some capacity.  Right now, I’m leaning toward India, Bangladesh, Nepal, or Bolivia.  I plan on writing a lot once I have something to write about.

Writing Mindset

Positivity

I’ve never been a positive person.  I am quick to find problems, drawbacks, and concerns; rather than benefits, advantages, and gains.  I wouldn’t consider myself to be negative, but then again, that’s what all negative people say.  This outlook works well enough, but I’m trying to be more positive.  Perspective is a powerful factor, one that can change a situation’s outcome.

I visualize positive results, not always first, but eventually.  Sure the car might explode and the house might burn down and I might be horribly disfigured and I might wake up in the hospital two months later as a quadriplegic and I might have to pay a three point eight million dollar medical bill, or everything might be fine.

Recently, my back pain has returned.  This morning, it took me ten minutes to shuffle and yelp my way out of bed, stand up (hunch over), limp to my phone, throw some clothes on the bed, and leave the room.  Ten agonizing minutes from 5:10 to 5:20, filled with fiery nerve pain and despair.  Not the best way to start the day, even though it keeps me from sleeping in.  If it hurts so much to get out of bed the first time, I am surely not going to repeat the ordeal for a bit more rest.

I remind myself that (so far) this is a recurring temporary inflammation problem.  I’m essentially disabled for about one month out of every four or five.  Not so bad, people have it worse.  Once I endure the morning, the rest of the day goes smoother.  Thankfully, I work at a desk these days, things were more interesting when I was expected to stand in flip-flops and walk up and down the sales floor for nine hours a day.  That was difficult, I almost bought a cane.

Today I took a few Advil and went to the rock-climbing gym.  Back pain or no, I refuse to waste my membership fee.  It didn’t work out.  I couldn’t climb anywhere near as well as normal, so I was about to leave.  But I’m trying to be positive.  Instead of whining about what I can’t do, I thought about what I could.  I worked on some different strengthening exercises, which went well.

I can’t climb, but I can work the campus board and systems board.

I can’t run, but I can walk on the treadmill.

I can’t do sit-ups, but I can do planks.

It hurts to stand and move, but I can still do it.

I can’t control everything about my life, but I can control how I think.

Positivity

How To Pay Off Your Student Loans in 5 Difficult Steps

  1. Determine Your Debt- Figure out how much you owe to which lenders, when they will start demanding payment, and how much that will cost you each month.
  2. Preliminary Budget- Add up your projected expenses (loan payments, rent, utilities, savings, insurance premiums, and food).  Cut this down as much as you can.  You cannot take a job that pays less than this every month, after taxes.
  3. Get a Job- Not the job, just a job; preferably in the field you just spend all that time and money learning about.  The most important consideration is that it pays more than your minimum expenses.  Lock this down, before your grace period expires.  Fold jeans in the mall, file paperwork, make sandwiches, not the job, just a job.  (You’ll look for the job later, once you’re out of debt and ready to move on.)
  4. Actual Budget- Adjust your preliminary budget to account for your new income and any new recurring expenses.  A simple spreadsheet will do, no need to complicate things.  If you’re paid every two weeks, consider budgeting on a 4 week month rather than a calendar month.  Once everything is set, stick to it.  The budget is law.
  5. The Grind- Keep your eyes on the prize, set a countdown timer if you like.  This is the hardest part, day to day.  Get used to saying “I can’t afford it” for the next few years.  Regardless of your income level, maximize your loan payments.  Don’t just pay the minimum unless you have to, go all in.

Helpful Links:

Mint

Credit Karma

Shopping Advice

How To Pay Off Your Student Loans in 5 Difficult Steps

4 Reasonable Ways to Minimize Student Loans

  1. Scholarships and Grants- Don’t only look for one or two big offers, apply for smaller awards too.  Some may only offer a few hundred dollars, but that’s money you won’t have to pay back later.  Every little bit helps, and it all adds up.
  2. Work- Part time or full time, but make sure you study enough to pass your classes.  Look into work-study programs, campus jobs, and your target field.  Unpaid internships won’t help reduce your debt, but they’re a good way to gain relevant experience.  When in doubt, go with the job that pays.
  3. Tuition Costs- Community college might become free, assuming the politicians and taxpayers can work it out.  Either way, it’s a means to complete core requirements at a lower cost.  In-state schools are much cheaper than out-of-state.  When it ends up on your resume, an undergraduate degree is an undergraduate degree.
  4. Living Expenses- Don’t live beyond your means.  If you’re reading this, I assume no one else is paying for your education.  Every dollar you borrow might be two dollars you have to repay in a few years.  Compare dorm-room and board costs with an apartment.  Don’t go out for dinner and drinks and DUI tickets every night.

Bonus: If you’re really committed, don’t buy textbooks unless absolutely necessary.  It’s possible to get decent grades in upper-level classes by attending lectures, taking notes, and not buying the books.  However, this tactic is not for the faint of heart.

4 Reasonable Ways to Minimize Student Loans

Sustainable Development and Planetary Boundaries

More than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty.  About half of them stay in rural areas, half in urban slums.  Most of them have no electricity, no transportation, no healthcare, no safe drinking water, no sanitation, and no schooling.  While great strides have been made in recent years, one out of every seven people on this planet struggle to meet their daily needs.

Industrialization and general development could help those living in extreme poverty attain a higher standard of living.  They could live healthier, safer, and easier lives, free from the myriad of difficulties they face every day.

However, this development must be sustainable.  The goals of economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability must be balanced.  Even the so-called Developed World has yet to achieve the necessary sustainability.  Heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy pollutes the atmosphere and oceans so much that it’s affecting the planet.  If the rest of the world develops along the same lines, we will only experience fleeting gains.

It is imperative that developing nations industrialize on a more responsible path.  The entire world, rich and poor alike, must balance economic growth with protecting the environment.  We all have progress to make, ignoring sustainability would lead to global disaster.

Sustainable Development and Planetary Boundaries

How To Build Incredible Lifelong Relationships

I stand when I’m around other people, even after they say I’m “making them nervous.”  People who belong sit down and make themselves at home, I hold up the wall and try not to make people nervous.  That’s one of the reasons I’m growing out my hair; to look more approachable.

I identify with Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower more than I would like to.  Only, I haven’t found an amazing group of friends yet, and now I’m too old.

I even saw the movie alone.  I asked my friend if she wanted to join me, but she didn’t want to see a sad movie.  She asked if I was sure I didn’t want to see James Bond instead.  I was sure.  James Bond is fine, but action movies are just action movies.  A small artsy theater screened the film, and when I walked out to blink in the sunlight I wasn’t sure how to feel.

I finished reading the book two hours ago, and when I leaned back on the couch to reflect, I woke up an hour later.  I’m still not sure how to feel.  I think that group of friends saved Charlie’s life, or at least comprised a compelling reason to live.  I think people are complicated and don’t make sense.  I think life is complicated and doesn’t make sense.

I’m not sure how to write this without sounding like I’m whining, but I’m not, my life is fine.  I have a job that pays, a place to stay, and about a year left on my student loans.  Things are going smoothly and I have exciting plans for the future.  The world doesn’t owe me a damn thing.

However, I don’t have any offline friends.  This usually doesn’t bother me too much, after all, I haven’t had a group of friends since 2002.  But I’m 25 now.  I have grey hair and back pain.  I have bills and obligations.  I have business casual clothes and no idea how to make friends.  I even googled it, embarrassingly.  The colorful infographics suggested I find people with common interests and build from there.  Trouble is, most of my interests are solitary, or online.  I absolutely appreciate my twitter friends, but since we’re spread out, we don’t exactly hang out too much.

I had most of these thoughts two years ago, when I saw the movie, I guess the book stirred everything up again.  Charlie’s letters make me think about my life.

Anyway, I’ve fine.  How are you?

How To Build Incredible Lifelong Relationships