Yesterday’s Therapy and Knowing My Path

At this point, it is no secret that I see a therapist. I have shared this before and I am not ashamed. I started seeing her at the end of last year to help me with some personal characteristics, my anxiety and anger as well as help me through some difficult times. Although things are going much better in my life I still try to see her weekly, to help with my anxiety and help keep me focused on how to get more out of my life. Yesterday was an exceptional day.

Lately things have been going really well in my life, but occasionally things come up that are hard to not focus on and anxiety can skyrocket. There was something I had had on my mind lately I was not too sure how to approach it. in my mind, it was a big deal and a huge hurdle. I was not too sure how to get past it and I needed help. My therapist didn’t even bat an eye. She helped me see this from a different point of view and took all of the “urgency” out of the problem. In reality, it was not a problem at all, and just something I had built up in my head. It is so refreshing to be able to speak to someone who helps me through this and teaches me how to view things in life differently. it truly is a game changer.

After my therapist and myself had talked about my life, marriage, work, and kids, the session was pretty much over. However, we went a little long, as we got caught up in conversation. She asked me about school and how it was going and I shared how exciting I was finding it. I have been doing really well in both of my classes and have been finding the content interesting. The hard part of doing my classes online, is that I do not get to engage in conversation as often with people about the content, but with her I could! We talked a few of the topics I had enjoyed and I was just finding it so interesting, especially when she shared info about her experiences working with people in such situations.  Through this conversation, I felt more at ease with my decision to go back to school and go after this different career. I not only enjoyed my conversation, I loved it. I loved the topic and hearing her discuss how she has worked with people. I wish I had done this earlier in life… but its never too late to go after what you want!

What value do you get out of therapy? I would love to hear some stories from others and what value you see, so if you would like, please share below!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Letter to Myself: 8 Years Old

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post asking if your 10 year old self would be happy. I got a lot of great feedback from that post and ever since I have written it, it has had me thinking about. Thinking about my life, where I was as a 10 year old and how my views on life has changed. Because of that post, I have been inspired to start a new series of articles based on letters to younger versions of myself. My goal is to choose 3-4 ages when I went through something crucial and it was a big life moment. I want to provide words of advice to myself; ideas that would improve my life if I was able to do it all again. I should preface this with I love my life (for the most part) and things are going well. But if I could have everything I have now, which a few minor tweaks to improve upon, what would those be?

Hey 8 year old me,

How is it going? You hanging in there alright? Life has been pretty rough this last year hasn’t it? Last year you moved from Tuscon, where all of your cousins lived (including your best friend/cousin) and everything you have ever known, for a small suburb outside of San Francisco. Your family rented a house last year and you finished off your 1st grade year at a new school. You are now in 2nd grade and yet again, at a new school. You have also recently gone to the orthodontist for your major overbite and now walk around with headgear…. its been rough.

I know it is cliche, but guess what: things are gonna get better. Your best friend across the street will one day be in your wedding. The house you live in now, your parents will not sell for another 20 years! You will not only grow up in this town, but you are going to thrive… for the most part.

Kid, its not a secret that you are a bit odd and awkward, but you know what, that is ok. It is a part of who you are and nobody should ever change that about you. I hope you understand that the way you are is not a problem. You have great character and you are a funny kid. Don’t worry about anyone else and what they say or think. be you. Do you. Know who your friends are, and do not worry about being the “cool” kid or the “popular” kid. Those guys do not really want to be your friend, and that is ok. This will be an ongoing lesson for you in life, but trust me: be yourself.

Anyway, continue to learn, and have fun in life: it goes way too fast. I will talk to you again in about 5 years.

Best, 33 year old you.

 

I know it is a little cheesy and other people have done this as well, but I have to admit, it is a bit liberating to write a letter to a younger version of myself. To be honest, I cannot wait to write another one!

In the comments below, feel free to share something you would tell an 8 year old version of yourself. Or write your own blog post and be sure to link to it below, and I will be sure to check it out!!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Taking My Daughter to School

This post will not be long, but it is something I wanted to share/brag about:

Today I dropped my daughter off at school. it was not big, there was no special occasion. But because of the hours of her school and the time I go to work, my wife usually just drops her off. However today I needed to drop her off, and for whatever reason it was fun. She was excited to she me her classroom and have me drop her off. She didnt cry, but she was sure to give me a hug, kiss and high five (her trifecta of good-byes) before I left. I even snuck in a little “I Love you” in sign language which she happily returned.

My kids are amazing, and for such a “small” thing to do, it brought me a lot of joy and happiness. Sometimes you have to really enjoy the small things in life to truly enjoy life as a whole.

Self Improvement: Managing My Anger

Hopefully by now, you are starting to learn a little about me. I am conscientiously trying to improve myself whether it is through reading, working out, or identifying some of my “flaws” and addressing them head on (as can be seen in my posts about relinquishing control or not being so argumentative. My life these days is a constant battle of managing my daily duties of being a husband, a father, a homeowner, a working man and a student, while also trying to better myself (and keep my sanity).

My little “Self Improvement” series has been pretty good for me thus far as I feel I am much more cognizant of some of my issues, and by sharing them, I keep it at the front of my head that it is something I must work on. This week, I am focusing on something I have been dealing with for a long time, and where it has been better lately, I feel it still has a long way to go. This post, is in regards to my anger.

Now, I am not the most angry person you have ever met. Hell, most would never even use that as a word to describe me. For me, it may not be so much about anger, as it is about having a short fuse and getting frustrated too easily. In my past posts I have discussed issues with giving up control of situations as well as always having to be right. And the funny thing is, not only were a lot of qualities overlapping between those two, but this topic overlaps with them as well. Far too often I feel myself getting angry over such little things that make no difference in my day to day life. Perhaps it has to do with a situation I do not have control over. Or perhaps it has to do with me having to have my way… but whatever it is, far too often I feel myself getting more agitated over time and end up yelling. Sometimes at my wife, other times at my kids. What I know for sure, is I have to be better.

What I have notices is that as life gets busier and I get more stressed, I lose my anger much more frequently (don’t we all?). Last year I noticed this was really getting out of hand and until other events happened, I was in the process of looking into some sort of anger management classes.  Instead, I now see a therapist once a week to discuss a number of things. However one topic we touch on frequently is my anger and why I continue to lose my anger. But more importantly, we discuss how to manage my anger when it does come up.

As I have discussed previously, meditation as a part of my daily routine is extremely helpful in this. it allows me to realize when I am getting angry and to calm my mind. Having an outlet for my anger and aggression is helpful too so I try to get to the gym at least 4 times a week. However in the moment of feeling anger, if possible, I try to take a walk and cool down. If I am unable to do that, the best I can offer myself right now is trying to catch myself and breathe before I act.

What are some of your favorite tips for dealing with anger? Please share below some of your favorite relaxation techniques or ways to deal with anger and frustration when it arises.

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School is Underway and My Schedule is Crazy!

I am finishing up my 2nd week of school and I have to say, life has gotten CRAZY! The first week of school, I was only attending one class (and by attending it is all online). This was a good entry for me as I was working on getting all of my classwork done while I also kept up with my job, and also making time for my kids at home. For this first week, I was not able to attend the gym as I still was not too sure how to balance my life.

This week, I unfortunately received an email from my second professor that my other class, Abnormal Psychology, had already started and I missed my first assignment. How could this be? I have been logging in weekly to check for updates as well as monitoring my email and I saw nothing… oh well. I was not dropped and I missed my first assignment (which was an introduction of myself) and missed out on 10 points. I should have been better about checking or perhaps sent out a n email to inquire when the class actually began. I have already started the homework for this week, and I was not dropped, so I should be fine. This was in line with the rest of my week however, as it was just crazy and hectic.

Wanting to start getting a better routine and schedule together, I opted to start going back to the gym this week as well, as I needed an outlet for stress release. This means either my mornings or late evenings are spent at the gym, the core of my day is at the office, and then at night I come home to spend time with my kids, put them to bed and then either do homework or go to the gym (if I had not gone in the morning). This doesn’t include time for me to go to therapy, chiropractor, or time for leisurely activities such as reading or watching some TV to relax, or time to deal with personal issues. As class picks up, I am sure I will have some weeks where I am overloaded and extremely busy and my anxiety soars through the roof. However, I am determined to get myself into a better routine and it will make it all easier. I just have to keep reminding myself why I am doing this 🙂 !

What are some of your methods when you dont feel you have time to breathe? Share your tips and tricks below, or let me know how crazy your schedule is!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Learning About Myself with 23andMe

Like many people, I have always had an interest in where I came from and what my ancestry was like. Growing up I knew some of the basics, such as that my entire Dad’s side of the family was Jewish and from Eastern Europe and that my Mom’s family was a mix of English and Norwegian. However I also knew that there was quite a bit else that was mixed in. When I got to college, I felt myself pulling away from the religious aspect of my Jewish heritage, and that didn’t leave me much left to identify with. My girlfriend (now wife) is 100% Portuguese, as she is actually a First generation. My best friend is Middle Easter as he was actually born in Iran. Me? I was born in Tucson Arizona, to parents born in the US, who were born to parents born in the US to parents who may or may not have been born here… we simply did not have good records of it.

With such great technology and advancements in DNA research, there are now a lot of great options for learning more about your ancestry and where you come from. So I decided to look into a few options and learn more about myself. I decided on 23andMe as I like the information they were providing and what they were looking to build with their own findings. In hindsight, Ancestry.com DNA may have been a better option as I have heard it is slightly more accurate, and I also have a lot of family that did it, and they will link you together. Either way, I wanted to share my experience with you and the whole process.

When I signed up for 23andMe, it was quite simple. I chose to pay a little extra and get the Health and Ancestry service, to not only know about my ancestors, but to also see if I have any genetic markers for things such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, etc. When my package arrived, the instructions were very simple to follow: essentially you spit in a tube and put it int he mail (that’s in a nutshell, as there are a few other steps). Once that is complete I also set up my online profile which consists of many optional surveys to provide the 23andMe company with information they can use to help enhance their database and provide more accurate findings of yourself. The questions are simple in regards to race and gender, to more interesting questions such as sleep patterns, anxiety and other health related items. Again, this is all used to help build profiles based on DNA submitted in hopes of learning more about what our DNA does and to better identify people through these means.

Once everything is sent in, the process takes about 6-8 weeks before you get your results. Once those results come in, you get an email that links you to all the reports they provide on you. I received my results last week and I could not wait to dive in. The reports were a very cool mixture of ancestry markers, health screenings as well as other markers (many of which I know already and of those, some they got right and some they got wrong). For me, the first thing I looked at was the Health markers. I am a bit of a hypochondriac so I had to make sure right away that I was ok. And thankfully, there was nothing that showed I would be at a higher risk for anything they would test for. After that, I had to dive into my ancestry.

Unsurprisingly, I was shown to be 99.9% European, with less than .1% being a mixture of East Asian and Yakut. of my European Ancestry, I was shown to be 47.3% Ashkenazi Jewish, which makes sense since I know my Jewish family came from Germany, Poland and Austria. The biggest category on my list however was Northwestern European, at 50.5%. This was a mixture of British and Irish (21.6%), Scandinavian (9.5%), French and German (7.7%), Finnish (<0.1%) and what was categorized as ‘Broadly Northwestern European’ (11.6% – which is likely my Norwegian heritage I know of). To me this was all very fascinating and gave me a better sense of belonging! Another cool part of this, is of all other users who use 23andMe, it shows me those who are related to me. Only one name I recognized (1st cousin once removed), but it found 1,233 DNA Relatives. It also was able to determine how many markers I have in common with Neanderthal Ancestry, which was surprisingly higher at 281 markers, which is more than 54% of all 23andMe users, and 1st among relatives I am connected to.

Beyond the Health and the Ancestry, 23andMe also provides a list of other features as well. Features they determine based on the surveys I answered as well as what other people have answered as well. They are not meant to be a diagnosis or even be accurate. But to tell you things that are likely to be true. From this information they did get a few things right: I am likely to not have red hair (I do not), I am likely to be average or below average weight (I am below average), likely to have darker eyes (this one is close, but mine are hazel, so I will confirm this) and likely to have straight hair (mine could not be any straighter).

However, for all the items this predicted accurately, I felt there were far more discrepancies that were not accurate. Again, this is based on people similar to me with my genetic makeup and is not meant to be 100% accurate. But my concern was with just how much they got wrong (makes me think what else is not accurate). According to this report I am unlikely to have dimples (I do), a widows peak (I have that too) and I am likely to have detached earlobes (sorry, wrong again).

Aside from these items, I found it all very interesting. The ancestry part felt very accurate to me, and that was ultimately what I was looking for. I am sure over time some of my other reports may change as more people provide information and the database for 23andMe grows. Until then, I will be satisfied with what I found.

Have any of you ever tried 23andMe, or perhaps another service such as Ancestry.com? I would love to hear about your experience! Please share your experience below or please let me know if you have any questions and I would be happy to share more!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Behind Every Man: Finding My Motivation and Drive to Make This Career Change

We have all probably heard the saying before that “Behind every great man, is a great woman.” This saying essentially says that every man is held up by a woman in his life, whether it is his mom, girlfriend or wife. While I do not think it is entirely accurate, in my situation I cannot help but to feel this is correct.

For the last 11+ years, I have been working in Tech/Business. My very first job was an entry level contract position at Google and I have been working my way up the corporate ladder (at various companies) since then. I started at Google right out of college and found it to be very exciting while I was there. However, even during this time, there was a part of me that was not happy. Not satisfied. I found an email I had written to my Dad a month or so after I left Google expressing my unhappiness in the corporate world. At the time I looked into going back to school as well as joining the Fire Academy. However I have outstanding injuries from my career as a collegiate swimmer and figured I would not pass a physical. I also discussed this with my then fiance (now wife) and she was very understanding and at the time encouraged me to do something I enjoyed. I looked into some options at the time, but as I have discussed in other blog posts, I felt stuck. I was engaged to be married to the woman of my dreams and all I wanted in life was to make her happy, support her and give her everything I felt she deserved. At this time, I decided the best option for me was to stick it out in the corporate world, find a job I enjoyed and make my money.

For years I bounced around between jobs, focusing on what parts I enjoyed, and trying to “fix” the areas that made me unhappy, After 11 years of this, I have found that overall, this line of work just isn’t for me. I had to find my passion. This is where the title of this blog post comes in. For me, my motivation and my change came from my wife.

A few years ago, my wife started a side business making hair accessories for kids. it started out slow, but as it grew I could see her excitement with it. Over time we discusses what she wanted out of this and what she wanted to do. At the time, she told me her goal was to build the company up enough that she no longer had to work her day to day job, could potentially get enough people to help run the company, that she could spend more time at home with the kids. As her business grew, I enjoyed very much helping her, build the business and achieve her dreams. I worked harder to find a better job for myself so that I could help support her and to help her quit her day to day and go with this full time. Near the end of 2015, we realized how closer we were. But we also needed more space. My wife’s business was taking up a good portion of our house, and with our growing family we needed more space. I was thinking about leaving my job then to do what I am doing now, but we needed the money to buy a bigger house and to help her expand. Last year we not only were able to buy a new house, but my wife was able to quit her job and do her side business full time! The drive and motivation she has shown over the last few years to get something she wanted, gave me the motivation to escape my unhappiness in the corporate world, and to do what I needed to find that occupational pleasure I was missing (which was ultimately spreading negativity to the rest of my life).

I have discussed this at length with my wife as well, and have her full support in going back to school and that we will be able to make it work. And while there are some other unforeseen circumstances that have come into this, and she has been on the fence for some time whether or not she made the right decision, I feel that had she not made this move, she may have always regretted.  I cannot thank her enough for her support and her leading by example.

Everyone finds motivation in different places in their life. Some have a friend or family member. Others loo up to those trailblazers and leaders of their field of interest. Where do you find your motivation? What is your inspiration. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

The Art of Self-Discipline

As I have now mentioned numerous time (and will likely mention again… that is what I do), I do not enjoy writing. One of those reasons is that I have a hard time of coming up with things to write about. Because of this, I started to keep a task list of different blog titles and what to write about. Today’s blog post, for the last month was actually geared to be written as part of the “Self-Improvement series” articles I have written in the past (and will write about again in the future).

I wanted to write about Self-Discipline, my struggles with this and what I am doing to work on it. However, a couple weeks ago, I was speaking with my therapist about this and she helped me really see this differently. For as long as I can remember, I have always felt that I have struggled with self-discipline (as I am sure many of you have as well). I feel that far too often I start something and never finish. In all honesty, I am surprised I am still writing blog posts!! Far too often I will do things such as starting a new gym routine, or eating healthier or reading more books…. and then after a week, a month or maybe a year, I slip up and find myself back exactly where I started.

Now in reality, this is something I still need to work on, so it does fit in line with my self-improvement process. However, I have come to learn I am not as big a failure at this as I originally thought. As it turns out, this is common. Extremely common. The problem is not that I lack self-discipline. In reality, the fact I am attempting these things shows the drive and determination needed to have self-discipline. My problem is that I am attempting to do something, that I do not generally like, alone. If I was extremely happy and loved what I was doing, the motivation to do this would be easier. I love going to the gym for example, however after a period of time, the routine gets boring and I no longer enjoy it and I find it harder to go. Eating healthy is easy at first because I feel better and see results, however I am such a picky eater I end up craving some sweets, and before I know it, I have consumed 4 Cinnabon’s in 3 days.

In speaking with my therapist, the secret I have discovered to this, is that failure rate when going about these things alone, is much higher than when you do these things with others. I.e. if you are having trouble going to the gym, get a gym partner? Not eating well? Get a friend to eat well with you. Do not enjoy writing or journaling? Come up with a good topic about something you are passionate about and start a blog. A blog that others are reading and keep you accountable for continuing to write. For me, I feel as if I am letting my readers (the handful of you who keep coming back) down.

So the truth is, I do not necessarily lack self-discipline. I lack the support to do a lot of what is needed of me. For years I have been unhappy with my job and my motivation to stay has always been to support my family. But that in itself has caused problems. My wife has always supported me going back to school, but that is now just becoming a reality. And with her support, and the support of the rest of my family, and my drive to help others and be happy, is all the self-discipline I need to better my life.

Do you struggle with Self-Discipline? What are some of your secrets to staying on track? Please share your secrets below, or any other comments you may have!

Please also feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Self Improvement: I Don’t Always Have to Be Right

I have always hated to lose. I have always been super competitive and because of that, I dislike losing. I am sure that comes with the territory, and lets be honest, nobody ENJOYS losing. But because of this, I seem to always take it to another level. I am an extremely argumentative person and have always battled this constant feeling of HAVING to be right. Even when I know I am wrong, I will keep up my argument just to win.

As you can imagine, this type of behavior has caused caused a lot of strain in various relationships, whether with friends, family or my wife. I will often make a mountain of a molehill, simply because I have to have my way or “win” the argument. As an example of how ridiculous I can be, a few years back, my wife and I were listening to a song and as we both sang along, we sang a particular lyric different. I was adamant I was right (even if mine made less sense) and she argued she was right. To end it, she pulled the lyrics up online to prove to me I was wrong. And then, with seeing the correct lyrics in front of me, the only thing I could say was “well these must be wrong too.” How ridiculous is that?! For years after I would still hold this up. And even though we BOTH knew I was wrong and knew it, I was smile and never admit the true lyrics.

It is stuff like this that can make me a difficult person to be around. I can be a contrarian and argumentative over just about anything, only because I want to be heard and I want to be right. I am sure a lot of this is just my competitive nature, but I am sure a lot has to do with my upbringing and how we went about arguing and discussing things.. not to mention when people gloat when they are right, they make you feel like shit for losing, so you just never admit defeat.

This last year, as we were under a great deal of stress (sold our house, moved in with our in-laws, bought a house, moved in and I started a new job), I could sense I was worse than ever before. As discussed in Relinquishing Control, I had to control everything and argue anything that was not going my way. I am sure a lot of my argumentative nature stems from having to have control of situations (or vice versa), but it is truly not a trait that is fun to be around. In December of last year, I started seeing a Therapist, and one of these reasons for that, was this very thing. I had to control situations, I was angry (perhaps a future blog post…), and I had to argue with everyone about everything. Part of this was the stress that was going on, part of it was my relationship, and part of this had to just do with feeling stuck doing work I did not fully enjoy. Regardless, my actions were not fair to those around me.

Identifying that I have this issue has been the biggest hurdle for me, because it wasn’t so much as identifying it, as it was admitting it. Admitting this is a problem feels like a loss to me, and as you now know, I dont like to lose. But its a daily battle. To work on this I am trying a lot of things. I am trying to listen more and understand the issues. I try to listen all the way through before speaking and I ask myself if what I am saying is warranted. I am admitting I am wrong when I can instead of holding it up. Aside from being an ass to be around when I cannot admit wrong doing, I want my children to learn that it is ok to be wrong and that good can come from it. For me, it is a constant struggle to remind myself to breath and not let every little thing bother me, and to not have to be right.

If you struggle with this, please share your thoughts and comments below on what works best for you, I would love to hear from you!

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Phil Dunphy is My Hero

If you are not watching ‘Modern Family’ every week, you are missing out on one of televisions greatest treasures. This Emmy award winning show will make you laugh, it will make you cry and… well it probably wont make you cry but it will make you laugh. This comedy follows an extended family as they navigate life in their own way. Phil is married to Claire and together they have 3 children. Claire has a gay brother named Mitch,and him and his partner Cam (who in their own right nearly steal the show from Phil) have an adopted daughter. Mitch and Claire’s Dad, Jay, is married to a young bombshell named Gloria (who had her own kid from a previous marriage. There is always a lot going on in this show, but to me, the greatest part is Phil himself.

Phil is a family man. He is funny, charming and witty (although he rarely succeeds when he tries). He reminds us constantly that he was a cheerleader in college and that he is an expert magician. He loves to bounce on the trampoline, dance and have fun. But most of all, Phil loves his family.

I have had conversations with friends and family on many occasions about how much I love Phil. What is funny is that everyone always says the same thing: I am just like him. Now, knowing better, I know they are making a joke, because Phil is an utter goofball and a nerd. He often finds himself at the butt of people’s jokes and in general is just a silly, fun loving guy. But when people compare me to him, I take it as a compliment.

Phil might be a bit of a doof, and may get picked on from time to time, but he has a heart of gold. Phil loves his wife and kids more than anything, and they come first in his life. Phil not only loves his job, but he loves his life and loves to have fun. All 3 of his kids are very different but he finds ways to bond with each one and to help lead them. Each kid is not punished or celebrated the same as each is unique, and he treats them as such. Phil doesn’t particularly care what others think, aside from his Father-in-law, who he is constantly trying to impress, so that he feels good enough to be the husband, to his father-in-laws little girl (I know the feeling). And at that, for being such a nerdy guy, Phil landed a smokin hot, down to Earth wife, who not only puts up with him, but cherishes him and truly loves him too. Who wouldn’t want that.

Over time, television has brought us many great TV Moms and Dads. Those we love, those we hate, and those that much us smile and laugh. To me, Phil is the penultimate father figure. Phil Dunphy is my hero 🙂 !!

Please feel free to share who your favorite TV Mom or Dad is or who you see a little of yourself in.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.Not a go