Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Having Trouble Sleeping?

If you are, you might want to try listening to a few of these streams.

Bluemars has 3 different "channels" to choose from, my favorite being Cryosleep. This one relaxes me and knocks me out rather quickly. I highly recommend it.

The Drone Zone is another great station you can check out. It can be found at the SomaFM website. They have many great stations to choose from - I find myself listening to Groove Salad quite a bit during the day.

I've always liked ambient music and was drawn to it at an early age. The band that started it all for me was Tangerine Dream. They were pioneers of the genre. Brian Eno is also one of my favorite ambient artists - he's basically considered the father of the movement.

The average listener may feel that the music is repetitious and boring. In order to appreciate ambient music properly, it should be listened to in the less active periods of our time - e.g. meditation or sleeping. It was designed with this in mind, and it can bring a tremendous calm feeling over you (if you allow it to.) The real treat is to listen to it through a good pair of headphones, and just let yourself go with the flow. Let the music guide you on your very own journey.

Like It?
There are many streams out there, but these are my favorites to listen to. If you have your pc by your bed, have a dedicated hardware media player, or some other means of listening (ala FM stereo transmitter, as I do,) give them a try. They may help to relax you into a nice deep sleep.

Goodnight Everyone!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rewiring Thought Processes...

Overhauling My Mind...
Yep. That's right - I want to "rewire" my entire thought process. I want to undo 25+ years of negative thinking and self-talk. I want to undo 25 years of anger, sadness, despair, and fear. I want to get right in there and rip it all out. Or do I? Perhaps I need to take a different approach.

It Wasn't All Bad...But...
I've said it before and I'll say it again - it wasn't all bad. Indeed, the negative events stick out more than the positive ones - only because that's what I chose to see. This is how I was raised, whether my parents want to believe it or not. I don't blame them for this - maybe they just didn't realize what was really going on. Looking back, it seems that they chose to be reactive, instead of proactive - allowing themselves to be subject to life and its events. As a result, this has shaped their lives accordingly.

I was always told when I was growing up, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." Essentially that meant, "don't complain." Yet it seemed that every day was filled with complaints and criticisms from all the adults around me. They felt justified in complaining about work and everything else. "Do you know what they took away/did to us at work today?" was a very common phrase in the household. On the road during a family trip I heard things like, "God Damn It! We'll never get there! Where do these people learn to drive?" Of course, you know what happened - I adopted this philosophy and ran with it. The seed of negativity was planted - My dad got angry at traffic, so I should too then. It seemed simple enough. Little did I know that this would be just the beginning.

Today I was in therapy and brought up the recent debacle on Saturday night. My therapist helped me to understand what my true feelings were at the moment I exploded. I basically came up with the feeling that I wasn't good enough. My evidence was that the room was essentially empty, and nearly non-responsive. Of course, I took this as "I guess I/we suck pretty bad then." Just before I went off, a negative thought from somewhere worked its way into my mind and lodged itself there.

"You Can't Do Anything!"
The first thought that came to mind was physical education class, during my grade school years. The thought of being in the gymnasium on little platforms called "scooters," was the first thing to surface. I remember we were split up into several teams, and we would race down to the other end of the gym. I don't remember how many times we did this, but I remember not doing too well, and catching hell from my teammates for it. One phrase stuck in my head all through these years - "you can't do anything!" That really hurt me deep inside, and it started the ball rolling in the lack of self-confidence or self-esteem department. Perhaps it was something else, but that was the first one that entered my head. It basically triggered the belief, "I guess I can't, so why should I bother to even try?"

Changing The Thought Pattern...
After bringing up that particularly painful memory, my therapist introduced me to a technique - that of which the name escapes me. I believe it has the acronym of EMRN, or something to that extent. She said that she will bring me more information about it next session, so I'll talk about it in a later entry. Basically, it involves focusing on a thought and changing the reactions attached to it. Doing this several times helped me to see things much differently than I did previously. I was able to let go of the pain, frustration, and hurt that I associated with them. I can now honestly look back and say that I don't feel those emotions anymore, because I don't allow myself to succumb to them. Ultimately, this affects my behavior as well. That little "voice" that says that I have to fight for my life doesn't have much to say now. It used to say things like "are you going to just stand there and take that," or "show them that you are going to do something about it!" I now tell myself things like, " I'm not a little kid anymore. I'm not fighting for my life against the schoolyard bully. I can let this all go."

The True Me...
A while ago, I was having a conversation with my dad about my childhood. He told me of a time when I would try to make friends with everyone, and that I was genuinely interested in meeting people. He had to track me down a few times (at the mall especially,) because I would get lost trying to make new friends. I think that stopped somewhere during the first time I moved to a new school.

Picking Up Where I Left Off...
Anyway, the point I'm making is this - I want to become that Danny that loved life and people. He didn't feel sorry for himself, and he had a very positive outlook on life. He didn't let others' opinions influence limit his growth, or allow him to become jaded.. I think that it's time for him to come back into being. He's a great kid, and he can reach out to anyone he meets, without feeling hostility, prejudice, or any other negative emotion. He's larger than life (the tallest kid in kindergarten,) and wants to learn more about others as well as himself. He's a little over-the-top sometimes, but that's okay. That shows that he has boundless energy, and is determined to enjoy his life, no matter what! He refuses to live in fear and shame.

What I need to do is to bring him back, and allow him to gradually take over this faulty wiring system - fixing things that need to be fixed, and to throw out the trash that doesn't need to be there anymore. He can take the good things and put them to use. However, he can also look back at those hard times and learn alot from them. He can assess the memories for what lessons they hold, not the emotions that are triggered by them. He can take those negativity tapes in the brain and began to record positivity on them.

Resetting The Odometer...
Begin again? Sure! Why not? Why let previous events in life cause you to become taciturn and jaded? Yes, there are things that happen in life that are painful and we do suffer through them. You don't have to indulge in the behaviors that so many others do - and that includes what your parents did or still do. You have a choice to see things differently. You have the opportunity to see it YOUR way, and no one else's. This is precisely what I am working towards - my own sense of identity and beliefs.

Be Yourself!
Now, I'm not saying that all of our parents' beliefs and such are bad - I'm just saying this: THINK FOR YOURSELF! To become jaded is to limit yourself to being the person that you truly desire to become. Don't let what others think keep you from doing what you want in life. Don't stop to care what they might think of you or how unpopular you may be. Just because they think that something sucks doesn't mean that you need to also. If you choose to see it in a more positive light, do it! To run with the herd is to deny yourself of INDIVIDUALITY! Uniqueness should be celebrated, not exploited!

On a closing note, during the DBSA conference, one of the speakers said something that really hit home:

Labels are for cans, NOT people!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Neat Stuff

I just wanted to share a great link with you. A very dear person in my life found it for me a while ago, and it has helped alot with depression in my life. It is operated by the Australian National University, and it's a great hands-on environment to learn about moods (and how they affect us.) If you can't afford or don't have time for cognitive therapy, this is very helpful.

Give it a try - do the exercises and take your time. People who suffer with Bipolar Disorder or Depression could learn quite a bit from it. I sincerely hope that you do try it. If you come across and tools online (or offline) that have helped you, please feel free to drop me a comment.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

12 Hours Later...

Gathering Thoughts...
Sigh...I looked at the clock and decided that it was time to wake up - after all, I had been asleep for at least 12 hours. I got in from the gig around 4am. Let me rephrase that - I got home about 3:30am and proceeded to park my truck in the driveway. I was so tired that I just sat there for a few minutes. I remember turning the key to the accessory position, so that I could listen to the radio. Eventually, I passed out behind the wheel for a good 30-45 minutes, before I realized I still had not unloaded my gear yet. I know that it was around 4am when I brought everything in the house - that much I can be sure of. I remember going to the freezer and getting my last pint of ice cream, eating it, turning on my radio, and going to sleep. That's the end of a pretty eventful day - in positive and negative ways.

What Happened?
Considering that I had been running on about 2.5 hours of rest from the previous night (morning,) I knew that Saturday would be a "dynamic" day. It ran the gamut from being extremely happy to enraged. The beginning of the day went well - everything just seemed to click together like magic!

The Conference...
I had a great time at the DBSA Road To Wellness Conference! There were several great speakers who had so much to say. Of course I took copious notes so that I could bring them back to share with my support group. I grabbed as much literature as I could, and bought a copy of Andy Behrman's book, Electroboy. The group that I rode with was very cordial,
and I enjoyed my time spent with them. I couldn't ask for a better day - however, I was constantly aware that I was running on only 2.5 hours of sleep, and it was starting to get to me.

The Rush...
I got home around 7:30pm and quickly changed into my gig clothes. I stayed home about 10 minutes at the most. Thankfully, I had given my gear to our drummer so that I wouldn't have to run around like a madman setting it all up - it would all be there, ready to go when I got there. I grabbed some food on the way and showed up to soundcheck. Things still seemed to be OK for the moment.

The Gig...
We were set up and ready to roll by 10pm, which is our usual start time. Things seemed to get off to a somewhat rocky start, but it didn't seem to be an issue. As time went on, I started to notice people just getting up and leaving. Of course, this started the negative self-talk in my head, "now they are leaving! I guess we just suck so bad that they don't want to stay and listen. Damn!" The incidences of mistakes and "fuck-ups," was increasing, and it was taking a strain on everyone. It seemed that we all had our moments of falling on our faces. The first set wasn't so bad, and I just spent a little time walking alone outside.

Break Time...
By the end of the second set, I was feeling pretty nasty. I went outside and sat on the ground, and became nearly catatonic - I didn't know if I wanted to meditate or just to cry. I just sat there, looking at the reddish-pink glow that played on the grass. The neon sign was pretty bright, and I guess that it provided the landscape for that moment. Perhaps it made me see red, literally, which was foreshadowing things to come. The guys came outside to find me, asked me if I was OK, and helped me back inside. We played the next set, looser than the previous, and then it happened... I lost it.

We were about halfway through the set, and we decided that I should sing a few. I was tired, but I agreed to do it. As I was getting ready to grab my Strat, the club DJ stepped into his booth and said, "take five, guys." Of course, this totally caught me off guard, and I just gave him a look of death. Then our drummer and guitarist came over to him, and I could feel the anger building within me. Old thoughts surfacing, saying things like, "Who the fuck does he think he is? Does he not have any respect at all for musicians?" I reached a fever pitch (screaming my thoughts about hip-hop noise,) and threw my Strat on the ground, hitting my amp and nothing else. I ran outside, screamed for a few seconds, hit the brick wall with my fists, and sat down on the ground. I stayed out there for a few minutes, realizing that I had spun out of control, and that everything was starting to come at me from all sides. I truly thought that I was going to have a psychotic episode. The urge to "walk across the street," was there, but I didn't act upon it. I just watched the cars go by and eventually made my way back into the bar. The DJ came up to me almost immediately, apologizing and trying to justify what he had done. I looked at him and said, "It better not happen again." I was still pretty angry, and that wasn't going to change.

The Side That I Didn't See...
I found out that he did that because he thought that we were going on break again. Our vocalist sat down, as I was going to sing for those few songs. Around the time, a girl came up to the DJ and asked him to play a song - of course some crappy ass hip-hop garbage, and proceeded to play it, after saying "take five, guys." I still think that he was in the wrong. His personality irked me, and if I was still stuck in my old ways, I would have kicked the shit out of him, ended up in jail, and not asked to play there ever again.

Left Over...
Eventually, I got over it, and finished up the night - to a nearly empty room. For a performer, that is one of the most painful and discouraging things that we sometimes have to do. For the remainder of the night, I didn't move much, and just played as best as I could. On a positive note, we did have some folks come up to us and ask us when we are playing next. That's always a great feeling. I was feeling pretty run-down, so I just started to tear down the equipment, while that crap was blasting in the background. Hearing that doesn't help to make tear down any easier, and I again reverted back to my old ways. I began extolling my virtues of how I pretty much hated that kind of music. They whole-heartedly agreed. That helped to ease the frustration and get things done in a timely manner. By 3am, I was ready to roll. Of course, then I came home, had my snack, and went to bed.

Lesson Learned...
Well, that's it - in a nutshell. I learned a very important lesson from all this. The next time several events pop up over a 48-hour timespan in this manner, some of them I will refuse to do. I don't care what it is - even work. I've always known that loss of sleep is one of my triggers, and I do my very best to get enough sleep. I'm not going to be Superman ever again. Some things will just have to wait. I know that I didn't use the techniques that I am learning, but that's OK.

Going On...
I'm not going to beat myself up for it. I just know that I was extremely vulnerable yesterday, and that it would make anyone feel "out of their element." Of course it would be difficult to be ready for anything. I think that bad days like this, help me to appreciate the good ones - even more than I do already. I refuse to dwell on it any longer. I tell these thoughts, "Thank you for all that you have given me. Thank you for serving as a reminder of the person that I am working to be. You can go now." I borrowed this phrase from the very first guided imagery tapes that a therapist gave me. Now, on with today, already in progress...

Friday, August 26, 2005


Neuro-Linguistic Programming...
I promised that I would go into detail at a further date about NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and today is the day to do it. This will benefit all of us - including myself, as I feel a bit blah today (nothing serious.) I have listened to the tapes so many times that I have phrases memorized and can nearly recite them at will!

What is NLP?
On the tape, Master Trainer Charles Faulkner calls it, "the study of human excellence. It helps us to understand how the brain "neuro-codes" our experiences. " He cites examples, such as skiing. Most people thought that skiing was something you had to have talent for - you either had it, or you didn't. Once someone else learns how to do something, ANYONE CAN DO IT! That's a key point to remember in your development through life. It gives us hope!

This technology allows you to use visualization strategies - to help you see yourself doing something successfully, and without fear or self-doubt. There are ways to control how you remember experiences, good and bad - to make them less intense, or more intense if you so desire. You learn to connect (associate) with good feelings, and disconnect (dissociate) from the bad ones - this alone is a great tool. You can overcome phobias using the techniques! Some are a derivative of Gestalt therapy, in that you view your prior experiences and the feelings that accompany them - but that's just the beginning.

Bend Me...Shape Me...
You can twist, distort and manipulate painful experiences that have been bothering you for years, and actually make them humorous! They encourage you to play the images backwards, add funny colors or music - to change your perception of that event or experience. I guess that you could call it like Emotional Origami - twist that thing so you don't recogize it anymore! You could be a director of your own "movies," in that you create what you think about - bringing certain things into clearer focus, and casting others away. They really encourage you to use your imagination, and get some enjoyment out of the process. Once you do it a few times, it gets to be enjoyable, and it becomes a part of you. It encourages you to think like a kid again. " your mind's eye..." is a recurring phrase on the tapes. Of course, there are many other techniques, involving seeing the other person's point of view, and seeing yourself through the eyes of love, which works tremendously as well. I strongly reccommend trying them all.

Which One?
Of course, there are many variations and books dealing with NLP, but I started with the audiobook called, NLP - The New Technology of Achievement. I think that it's a great overview and a sort of primer on the entire technology - a great starting point. It works quite well in conjuction with cognitive therapy and medication. It allows you to take control of your mind, erase phobias, and to take steps in your life that you never thought possible!

A Student For Life...
I am still very much a student of all this (and will be for life,) and I do use several strategies to help me through the day when just maintaining a positive attitude is not enough - or when old thoughts come back to haunt me. That's the time to put it into practice - when you don't feel like doing anything to help yourself. For me, today is one of those crucial times.

A Confession...
I'll admit - for nearly a week, I've felt myself start to come down from the intense plateau that I was on for nearly a month. I'm starting to accept the fact that it may indeed have been hypomania. Regardless, it felt good, and I want to get back to it again. As I said before, I feel "blah" and somewhat disconnected, but not down and out. I told some friends how I felt, in this manner: "It's cloudy outside, and I want the sun to shine." The possibility of being depressed is there, but with what I've learned, I am able to keep it under control. I truly don't want to go back to that state of "learned helplessness." To me, that is the equivalent of the death of the mind.

The Tape Is Playing In Reverse!
I notice most prominently, that the urge to reach out and give has been reversed - I literally feel as if everything is getting sucked back into me. This causes me to become inner-focused, and I don't like it at all. I begin to think about things, and how they hurt me. I don't look at solutions to problems and challenges, but I focus on the pain. It's one thing to reflect on how we feel about things - however, it's another when you indulge in those feelings. Those that keep us "safe" and ensure that we don't do anything dangerous, (and at the same time ensure that we don't move forward within our lives.) In that mindset, risk equals sudden death. That having been said, I know why I feel like this -I've been neglecting my meds.

Admittedly, I started to feel that I didn't need them anymore (OK - go ahead and preach to me.) Anyone who uses psychotropic medications (or anyone who uses meds in general,) understands this. You get to the point where you feel that you are "cured," or "OK," and you try to live your life without "those pills." For a while, things are just fine, and you feel great. Naturally, that feeling does not last, and you start to come down - maybe even revert back to your old self. You criticize and admonish yourself for doing such a thing, which makes you feel even worse. Guess what? You're back where you started - maybe even a few steps back.

Remember This...
We take the medications for a reason, and we have to keep that in mind. When we feel good, we forget about those reasons - as those endorphins and other chemicals released during that time, will make us oblivious to that fact. I rationalized that I would "get more later, and I will just take them every other day until I get more..." This also makes us oblivious to the fact that brain chemicals come into play when we become depressed or manic. It's all about chemistry.

Association...And Assistance...
I was starting to run out of medication and couldn't get any more until I brought in my tax return. This would make me eligible for free medication (due to income.) It's so simple, yet I keep putting it off. Why? Paperwork is still a bit scary to me. I'm not totally fearless yet, but I am working in that direction. I need to stop associating so much pain and frustration to dealing with it, and resigning myself to the fact that I can't do it. My sister usually does the paperwork for me, because she knows my feelings about it. This time I want her just to be nearby when I need some help. I don't want her to do it for me. I spent alot of my life having things done for me - I don't want to be that way anymore. I'm thirty-two years old now. I'm a man, and not a child. It's time to learn to do things on my own.

Taking Action!
But I am going to make that call to my sister, as I promised my therapy group. I don't deserve to let myself live this way. I know that I can do better for myself, and I will strive to achieve it. The demons of bipolar won't get me down - maybe sometimes they will make life a little (or quite a bit) difficult, but they won't pull me into the abyss completely. I refuse to let it happen. True, I may feel a little hum-drum now, but it could be much worse, as I have demonstrated in the past. Do yourself a favor - at least tell yourself this:




Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Preparing For The Days Ahead...

Getting Ready...
I woke up about an hour ago, and started thinking about how to prepare for this busy weekend that I have lined up. Friday and Saturday will be busy days, but Sunday will be a day to sleep in and relax. Here's how I figure it:

Thursday night -
Get as much sleep as I can!

Friday night -
Go to jam night and play from 9:30pm until 1:30am (or earlier.)

Saturday morning -
Go home and go to bed (sleep from 2am-5am.)
Wake up, make lunch, and get ready to drive to convention meeting place.
Travel from meeting place to convention center.
Stay there from 8am until 5pm.
Come home by 6 or 7pm.
Change clothes and go to soundcheck around 8:30pm
Get ready to play by 9pm.
Play the gig from 10pm-2am.
Tear down at 2am (usually takes 30-35 minutes.)
Head for home and maybe grab something to eat on the way back.

Sunday -
SLEEP until 1pm!


I feel tired already! I also need a backup plan in case I'm not able to carpool to the convention. My vehicle has extremely high mileage on it, so I can't trust it to go into the city - this means that I'd take a bus to the airport and from there, take a shuttle to the convention center. The only trick with that is, I think that the shuttle is only for the hotel patrons. I am not 100% sure. If I get into a predicament, I'll certainly ask if this is true. I'm sure that everything is going to turn out great, and I'm stressing for nothing. I need to keep the "let go" mentality in mind. If all else fails, I'll just walk that one mile to the convention center. I'd better bring my tennis shoes!

I haven't been in the city alone in quite a while. I used to do it all the time when I was working there. Of course, that was a little different, as I knew exactly where I was going. Even the first time was not that difficult either. I won't deny that I do feel a bit of anxiety - my mind is starting to ask those useless questions - "what if...." I have to block those out and not indulge in those hard-wired thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Those do not serve my well, especially since the "fight or flight," adrenalin response system is malfunctioning, giving off false signals to thwart me from "possible dangers."

Taking Risks...
Of course, we take a risk every time we go out somewhere - hell, we take a risk just getting out of bed sometimes! We just can't be afraid to do things because our minds are asking non-productive questions, or lack of faith in ourselves. I remember talking about the bus idea, and my mind instantly started to go into panic mode. "How am I gonna do....?" And then I thought, "millons of people take a bus successfully every day. If they can do it, so can I." This put me at ease and helped me to realize that it wasn't a big deal after all. I am an adult, not a helpless child. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS!!!!

Look Forward...
With that in mind, I'll be able to truly enjoy the convention, pick up some literature, meet other folks, and authors as well. I'm really looking forward to attending, and sharing my thoughts and experiences (as well as literature) with my group. To connect with other people is an ultimate goal for me. The more functions I go to, the better off I'll be. Wish me luck!

Now to take on today...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Outdoor Fun!

Weed Eating...
I Just got back in from trimming the lawn with our trusty Black & Decker weed eater-trimmer. You gotta love the thing. It takes the hard work out of pulling alot of weeds. However, it's very temperamental, in that the line likes to run out very quickly.

Patting Myself On The Back...
As a result, no one else in the house wants to use the thing. They get too frustrated. I'll admit, I was getting a little frustrated this time - probably because it was hot outside, and there was a lot of traffic going by. I did manage to keep my cool, only saying a few things. I can definitely pat myself on the back. You may wonder what the big deal about all this is...


Hitting A Brick Wall...
Previously, I would try to do something, and when it didn't work, I'd do the same thing again...and again....and again...and so forth. With each degree of failure, I would get a little more frustrated, focusing on the fact that I was not accomplishing my goal - hitting that brick wall over and over...BAM! BAM! BAM! Obviously this is not the solution. I felt like Wile E. Coyote ! He kept going over that same cliff quite often - although he did suffer in other ways. One thing is clear, however - he never gave up, and he changed his approach when something did not work.

Winding The Line...
If you've used a weed eater/trimmer before (and I'm sure that you have,) you'll know that it works by spinning a spool of nylon line at an extremely high RPM, which "eats" the weeds. This is a very novel concept, and it works great as long as two things are accounted for: 1) the line is plentiful, and 2) the line is wound properly. If you do this, then you should not have any problems. I'll admit, it has been a long time since I've put a new spool of line in a trimmer. I had to refresh my memory a bit to remember how to do it, since it was completely out of line.

How Does It Work?
It's all a basic concept really - the line is wound in such a manner that it comes unwound very easily, via a spring-loaded mechanism in the "head." This is activated by pressing down on the ground with the head. In turn, this causes more line to come out...unless you have it wound on the spool too tight!

It took many tries for me to get it right - the first few attempts were lessons in winding it too tight, so I had to pull it all off (about 20 feet of line,) and start over. Each time I tried something different - however, the line was coming unravelled no matter what I did. That's when I had a moment of brilliance - nylon line, by its very nature has a tendency to recoil when you let it go. "Ah, so I have it way too tight!," I said and breathed a sigh of relief! I had the basic concept, and had to stop a few times to fix it, but I was on the right track. Pretty soon, I had it down to a science, and could fix it in a matter of seconds. Practice does indeed make perfect. Yay!

Have A Laugh!
Never mind the whole time I could feel my old mannerisms and thought patterns wanting to emerge. I felt my face get red, my mind start to race, and that old irritable feeling wanted to emerge. To stop this, I put the thing down and just smiled, which brought forth a laugh. I thought to myself what the people watching me thought. They probably thought that I was crazy to be out there in the first place. "Who's that crazy bald guy (in a long sleeve shirt,) with the weed eater, and why is he laughing? Why would anyone laugh or smile when they are doing yardwork?" That alone made me chuckle some more. I literally put that irritated feeling aside and started to annihilate some weeds (and some grass too, oops!) Take that, you little green devils! BRRZAP!!

Mission Accomplished!
All in all, I completed my mission: trimming because my roommate asked if I could do it instead. He claims that the trimmer is "too long and hard to balance." (read: he doesn't know how to wind the line and doesn't want to learn either.) I suppose next time I should hand him some shears or clippers and point him in the right direction, right? Better yet, I'll just give him a pair of gloves and say, "Ok, now do it by hand." Maybe he'll learn to appreciate the joys of owning a weed eater. I don't think that he's ever pulled weeds by hand before - I could be wrong though.

Today's Lesson...Indirectly...
Today was another lesson in how to make something that is not considerably enjoyable into something that can be. It's amazing what a little smile or a laugh will do - it adds a little kick to those things that are, at first, drab and unexciting. Why not try it? After all, does complaining and carrying on about something help to make it any better? Of course not! It just sours the experience when someone says something like "well, this is gonna suck," or "I hate doing this." I end up wanting to say "thank you for making things worse than they really are - you just caused a total paradigm shift in my thinking." What a buzzkill! Just remember this:

Don't let anyone else get you down - just because they feel the way that they do, doesn't mean that you have to feel that way also! Don't believe the hype!


Random Thoughts...


Today is a pretty good day. I woke up late (as usual, ha!) but that's OK. It's something that I am working on improving. Now that I seem to have my moods in check, it will be much easier to get motivated. I just need to refrain from falling back into old habits (i.e. staying on the computer for too long and staying inside all day.) It's a beautiful day outside - it was much hotter earlier, but now it's cooling off. It's a perfect time to go and...


(Yes, I do like yard work - provided I can go at my own pace and no one is breathing down my neck.) I'll be back later. For now, I need to get outside and get some...


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Instant Gratification...

By The Seat Of My Pants...
OK - today's topic took some thought. As a matter of fact, I'm still thinking of it now, so this will definitely be a seat-of-the-pants type of writing. Perhaps even a "stream of consciousness writing?" We shall see.

What I'm referring to is the tendency for people in general to look for an immediate short-term reward or self-satisfaction, better known as instant gratification. So many of us (myself included) have fallen prey to impulse buys, seductive ways, and the like. In that moment, we feel great, and that everything is just fine. Unfortunately, we don't stop to see what an impact it could have on us. Here are some examples.

Take for instance that fling you had last night - was it really worth all that? Imagine this - you wake up the next morning and feeling a shooting pain (guess where?) Yes, it hurts when you urinate! This happened to a good friend of mine. His exact words were: "Why does it hurt when I pee?" I told him, "because you were playing with fire, and you got burnt." Plain and simple. Think about that the next time YOU take someone home from the bar.

I'll admit that I do have a weakness for impulse buys. It's too easy to fall prey to them. A great example of this would be at the checkout counter in a gas station. Ever notice how they ALWAYS put the King Size candy bars right in FRONT of you, and make you look for the regular size? On impulse, we end up buying the king size one - even though it costs thirty to forty cents more than its counterpart!

Why Does This Work?
We fell for it - hook, line, and sinker. Why? Because of our tendency to gratify ourselves instantly - we want it NOW! Merchants realize this, and capitalize on it. I do have mixed emotions about it. On one hand, I feel that I've been taken advantage of and that it is simply a low-down dirty trick. On the other, I have to give them credit for seizing the opportunity! Ahh, the power of capitalism!

Everything's On Sale...
OK - I KNOW that we ALL have fallen prey to this - the "blah-blah-blah" sale." The prices are so incredibly low that we feel we have to act upon them NOW! We suddenly have an overwhelming urge to buy that special item that caught our eye - it's our desire that drives us to do this. Back in the day, salespeople were needed to help items get off the shelves - nowadays, things pretty much sell themselves! The price is attractive enough to get our attention - or is it?

Watch The Ads...

Just do this once - especially during the holidays. Watch the price trends on a few items that are in high demand. Take note and watch how just around the holidays, the price starts to climb higher and higher. Surely this is to stave off excessive demand...or is it? Once again, capitalism is at work. Again, take notice of the prices after the holidays - you know, the big "end-of-year clearance" sales? I'll bet, if you compared those discount prices to ones prior to the holidays, you probably wouldn't see much of a discount if you really got down to it. I got to notice this trend very quickly, having worked in retail previously.

Two For...?
You know these guys too - if you buy more, you save more money. The next time you are at the store, take a good look and do the math. You may be in for a surprise! Here's an example - carburetor cleaner - it normally costs $2.29 a can. The store has a great sale going on, hawking that X carburetor cleaner is "on sale," 2 cans for $5.00 (which amounts to $2.49 a can!) Most people won't think twice, and will pick them up off the shelves, thinking that they are actually saving money! And you know what the sad thing is? The "regular" price is RIGHT THERE ON THE TAG! Of course, it's in small print, so that you won't notice it, but that's a given, right? Why? Because people don't take the time to read it - they are in such a hurry, living their lives at 900 miles an hour and never stopping to take notice of anything. If they only knew what they were missing...sigh.

What Am I Getting At?
The point is simply this - if we want to lead a more productive, profitable, and enjoyable life, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions, such as the following:

"Do I really need this right now?"

"Are there any possible repercussions as a result of my choice?"

"How will this affect others and myself?"

"What do I stand to gain from this?"

"Will this allow me to achieve a long-term goal, or is this just for the short term?"

"Can I afford this?" or "Can WE afford this?"

These are just a few of the questions that you can ask yourself before you make a decision. Now, don't get me wrong - don't let these questions induce a state of panic or anxiety within you. They are only meant to test your values "on the fly," to capitalize on your morals and standards. Don't think you have to play it safe all the time. No - enjoy your life, but be very aware of certain situations that may come into play.

Critical Time...
Any time our emotional state is affected, be it positive or negative, we are "thrown off our game" or caught off guard, which affects our decisions. It's during those moments that we need to pay attention to that, and start asking some of those questions that I mentioned above. Imagine these questions in a fight scene in "The Matrix," and you'll get an idea of what I mean. Put the ball in your court, and think it through. See if from all perspectives, if possible. Better yet, see another person's point-of-view if they are involved or could be complicated within the situation. Don't let that high-pressure sales pitch cajole you into purchasing something that you might regret later...or that seductive pickup line that was handed to you at the bar last night land you in bed with someone that you truly don't know. Temptation is sinfully delightful (delightfully sinful,) and instant gratification goes hand in hand with it.

Coming Down From My Podium...
Wow - for that moment, I felt almost as a minister giving a sermon in church, talking about sins in our day-to-day life! As I've said previously, I'm not a born-again Christian or anything like that, but I do see parallels within biblical scriptures and modern living.

Something Clicked!
This stuff really started making a whole lot of sense, and I'm eager to learn more. The more that I use creative imaging (more about this later) to visualize things for what they really are, the easier it is to avoid these pratfalls as I go about my daily life. To go around these obstacles is the key - knowing that they are there, and always will be there, but I can safely dodge them and go about my business.

Inspiration and Reading...
You know, I think that all that listening and reading of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale is really starting to influence my way of thinking. If you want to find out what I'm talking about, read his many books and listen to his audiobooks as well. Titles such as "You Can, If You Think, You Can," "The Power Of Positive Thinking," and "The Power Of Creative Imaging," just might change the way you feel about yourself and others.

Reflections Of Ourselves...
True that he may have devised these strategies to help himself in the beginning, but isn't that where it all begins? We have to help ourselves before we can truly help others. It takes unconditional love of ourselves before we can truly love anyone else, for everyone is a mirror of our souls. We see in others the things that we like and dislike about ourselves - the things that we'd like to change, or appreciate more than we currently do.

The Truth...Forthright and Honest...
I'll freely admit that I write here in this blog as a means of therapy - to help me realize what's really important in my life and how I can deal with it. I'm literally talking myself through the challenges of life (and yes, I do talk to myself out loud as well, especially when driving!) What appears to be a rant (such as above,) is in disguise a lesson in allowing myself to see the other person's point of view. I may not see it right away, due to emotional attachments and the convictions or beliefs that I manifest. Sooner or later I learn to leave all reservations aside and to allow myself to think within that person's shoes. Of course, we might not think exactly as they do, but we can get a general idea if we know enough about the person's character.

A good method to use is Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or better known as NLP. Upon repeated practice of the techniques described, you can literally put yourself in someone else's body, and watch yourself from their viewpoint. Using what you know about this person, you can honestly see how you appear to this person, and why they are reacting to a situation in a certain manner. This in and of itself is an amazing tool that helps you learn to deal with people - especially the ones that seem difficult or indifferent. I've used it on more than a few occasions, and I can tell you that it's made a change in the way that I think about other people, and what effects my actions, thoughts and beliefs have upon them. This ultimately wins you over with people, and you can communicate effectively with just about anyone!

Read and Listen...To The Radio?
If you're truly interested in changing your life, there is so much great material out there that can help you to do it - be it in the form of written or audiobooks, seminars, or websites. What started it all for me was a radio station! Nearly 10 years ago, there was a little station in my area that dubbed itself "Personal Achievement Radio." I found it by accident one day on the way to work. I heard someone talking, and I just kept the dial there. A few minutes later, I heard another excerpt from another motivational speaker and began to realize that this was pretty neat stuff! I was hooked. It took me a long time to implement everything that I've learned, but it was well worth the time vested. If you're looking for ways to honestly improve your life, motivational materials can do wonders for you. They may not work for everyone, but for the ones that they do, it's truly exciting!

Hmm...I Was Thinking...
Hey, you know what? I think that I'm going to get back into radio - this time working in the motiviational aspect of it! I have a few projects in the works pertaining to that, and when the time is right, I'll divulge information to those interested. AriK, if you're reading this, I'd still love to write our book together. I know that I'm not "fully recovered" from bipolar disorder and that there will be trying times, so I'll be glad to bring everything, past and present, to the table for discussion. What do you think, should we do an infomercial for the book? Nah - just kidding!

Be Well, Everyone!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Back In The Saddle Again...


Well, I'm pleased to report that I am once again "online" from my home. I was given an old pc (and I mean very old) that works very well. I just slapped my net card in it, installed a few favorite programs, and away I went! It's a first-generation Gateway 2000 Pentium 200mhz mmx box. It's got 96MB of RAM, and a TWO GIG HARD DRIVE! Yes, folks I said TWO gigs. This was circa 1997, so that was pretty "state-of-the-art" back then.

Say What?

Who would have thought that XP would run on a much slower machine, with that little of RAM, and HD space? Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. I'm just totally flabbergasted that this thing runs with XP on it. And I thought that XP would bring a 233mhz P-II with 128MB of RAM to its knees! A real plus is that the monitor that came with it is a 17" - I've been using a 15" for a long, long, time. I am truly grateful that I am able to use it. I like to be able to type and read emails, and of course to blog whenever my little heart desires. I'm so spoiled!

More Good News...

I slapped my 80GB Maxtor drive from the PIII 450mhz in it (as a slave,) and it works just fine. It's not crashed in any way shape or form (sigh!) I went straight for the Osibisa album folder (thanks to Creepyking I have this treasure of 70's music,) It was nice to hear that after nearly 2 months of not being able to get to it. Shame on me for not backing up more often. I think that in my mental state of that time period, I really didn't care if I lived to see the next day, let alone some music.

Is It Time Yet?

So... I ask of you... is it high time that I just go with the flow and buy a new pc, maybe build one? I wouldn't mind having 1 ghz clock speed to play with. I could use all of those great Arturia soft synths that I have (ARP, Moog, etc.) I would have a reason to practice playing the keyboard again. It's true - I do love the sounds of the old gear, but I don't like the lack of reliability of it either. It's such a trade-off. I can see that the "modeling" that they do gets closer every day to the real thing. Hell, the only thing they won't do is to randomly pick a day when they break down (well, the computer does that on its own anyway, so that's taken care of!) I think that it's about time to step into this decade...and don't look back. Hello, Ebay! You've got a lot of goodies comin' your way....

In Conclusion... I sit again - in my favorite chair, with only the light of the monitor to guide me! Picking up where I left off, as much as I can, without getting frustrated. So far, so good. Now to stay off Ebay...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Catching Up... And Looking UP!

Time For An Update...

Well, here I am again - things are still quite good. At the moment I feel a little irritated for some reason, but I'm not letting it get to me. I figure that there is a reason for it, and I am looking for that reason. I just don't let the emotions come to fruition - this keeps me from getting angry. I feel that anger is not a viable option at this point in my life. I haven't gotten furious since the day I had that fight of rage towards my car. I realize now that it was not the correct action to take.

Dealing With Life...

As far as everything else is concerned, I have been doing much better in dealing with people. I now hold much better conversations, and show a genuine interest in what the other person has to say. I find myself listening more than talking. It's so much more enlightening to hear what someone else does, or how they fight off the demons. Sometimes I learn a thing or two because of this.

Being A Leader...

At the last few support group meetings, I have shared my strategies of dealing with life and its challenges. The ones who tried them happily reported that they have indeed worked! I was totally floored for two reasons: 1) I was able to help someone successfully, and 2) They appreciated what it had done for them. As a result, I was asked to facilitate the next meeting, and I will be attending the local DBSA convention on the 22nd. I look forward to talking to others who are in the "same boat" as us, and to meet the featured speakers.

What Does It All Mean?

I've come to this conclusion - I've been put upon this Earth to communicate, entertain, and help people. Amidst all my time of unhappiness, the things that I've endured have become tools to help others, as well as myself, through very hard times. I truly wish to touch those who feel that they are not good enough, those that have been abused mentally and physically, and anyone who feels that suicide is the only way out. I don't wish to throw my values and suggestions at them, but to help them implement these into their daily lives.

Thoughts On Therapy...

The easiest way to help someone is to let them find it for themselves - we can offer guidance that can give them a general direction of where they want to go. I honestly believe that's what a good therapist does. Too many of us go to therapy expecting to be "fixed." It doesn't work that way. It's all about you, and you must exert the effort required to get to where you want to be. YOU are the only one who can decide that you want help, and that you want to take responsibility in your life.

Every Day Is A Lesson...

Every day seems to hold a valuable lesson for me, whether it comes from a book, or just visiting a friend. I learn how I can discuss things with people I know, how to win over a little girl's heart, or what people really want from us. When I make a mistake, I take note of it (next time I'll...) but I don't beat myself up at all. I know that next time I'll be more aware of what's going on. Life is like learning in school - sometimes we get the lesson straight away; other times we may need to go over it in order to learn the how and why. It is truly fascinating to me, and I sincerely hope that it is for everyone.

In Conclusion...

Yes, my pc is still down, but that's ok. At this point, I don't foresee myself doing much with it anyway, simply because I'm having too much of a good time in my life right now. Read: it's not a necessary part of my life. I can deal with just checking my emails once a week, and the occasional blog entry.

Enlightenment In Many Ways...

Be assured that I have been doing LOTS of writing and recording thoughts on my microcassette recorder - nothing is going to waste. In books that I read, I underline key phrases and things that are pertinent. Listening to audiobooks and doing meditation exercises during the day and just before bed also help immensely. I would reccommend these to anyone as a starting point in their treatment. I started with guided imagery about 4 years ago, and kept going. I am going to take yoga as well, and check into holistic medicine. I am curious about the many treatments and perspectives of others, including doctors, psychologists/psychiatrists, and the like. I am extremely grateful to get to this point in my life. I could say that I wish I would have done this years ago, but I don't believe that I would appreciate it nearly as much. Everything happens for a reason - from bad things we can derive good things. I'll be glad to go into details later about my observations.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this, and your genuine concern means alot to me. I wish you all good health and success in life. I'll be back soon. Just remember this:

- Danny