Letter to Myself: 14 Years Old

Not too long ago, I wrote an article here that contained a letter to a younger version of myself. The writing of it was quite therapeutic and in that moment I decided I was going to do this a couple times, targeting various ages and turning points in my life. The first post in this series was when I was 8 years old. I had just moved to California, leaving a lot of my family and close friends behind. In the year I moved to California I went to 2 different schools and lived in 2 houses, forcing myself to make new friends all around, a few of which I am still friend with today.

Deciding on the next age range to write about was not easy, as the next 5 years of my life were difficult, as they are for anyone. I made it through Elementary school with headgear and neck-gear, braces and retainers. I then got into Middle School, had my Bar Mitzvah and overall just had a hard time fitting in. Because of this, I decided to write to my 14 year old self. One year removed from my Bar Mitzvah and the end of my Middle School life in 8th grade and the start of High School and a new direction that would change my life.

Hello 14 year old me,

Life has been interesting these last few years, hasn’t it? As I write to you from your future, I know how difficult things were for you. To say you went through an awkward phase would be selling it short. But, who isn’t going through an awkward phase right now? You started off with a big growth spurt, taller than all of your friends, but then it seemed everyone else went through puberty before you… but don’t worry, you will get there.

Now that you are 14, life is really going to change for you. 8th grade will be fun. You will rule the school and be on top. You will also be on the basketball team, and although you will not play much, the coach will reward you for your heart and effort. Never lose that (seriously). If I could give you any advice, I would really say to pay attention to your school work, especially on the foreign languages. I know its not easy, but you will truly appreciate being able to speak another language later in life.

Aside from working hard in school, keep a good head on your shoulder. Sure this year you will be the king of the school in 8th grade, but next year it is off to high school where you will be the bottom of the barrel. High School will be an interesting time for you as you will hang out with the wrong crowd. Not that you get into trouble, but you actually think you are cooler than you actually are, and the people you try to hang out with, will often wonder why you are with them. You will give up all sports this year and focus primarily on swimming, which will be a huge decision. But these other swimmers are your friends and where you should be spending your time. They are all great students and they are your true friends. High School will be much better and enjoyable if you know your friends and your place from the start.

Continue to work hard, both in school and in the pool. You do not know it yet, but you are starting to set a lot in motion for your life. Your work ethic and attention to detail starts now, otherwise you will be working double time for the rest of your life. College will be easier if you learn more in High School. Have a little fun, too while you are at it. But school needs to come first, and then swimming. Know who your friends are and try to enjoy yourself. Understand what you want out of life, not what others want from you. This will go a long way to making you happier.

Talk you you again in a few years,
34 year old me (you)

Understanding who you are is a part of growing up, and if we had all only listened to our parents at that age and believed them, life would be so much easier. Obviously, I probably wouldnt have changed much, considering I am where I am in life thanks to all of this. However, if I knew then what I know now, and could still end up with my current situations, I think that would be the perfect situation, don’t you?

What would you say to yourself if you could go back to that age and have a conversation, or write a letter. As I started off this post saying, thinking about this is quite therapeutic and it allows me to explore feelings I had then and look back on how that all helped to shape me. I encourage you to do the same!

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Keeping Busy and Growing a Mustache

I know, I know, it has been a long time (again) since I last posted. I really am not good at this… haha… but hey, I warned you!

If you have actually been wondering where I have been, the truth is, life has just been busy. Work has been fairly busy as usual and the kids have also kept me busy. School has been a lot of fun but it has also been quite busy. I am holding around 100% in BOTH of my classes and actually have a final in my Personality Psych class this week. Because of the finals and classes, lots of studying is being done as well.

Outside of work, school and my kids, I truly do not have a legitimate excuse for not updating this, other than a touch of writers block, a touch of laziness and a whole lot of mustache growing. Yes, you read that correct, I am working on my MOVEMBER Mustache.

My family is not blessed with facial hair growing genes, so unfortunately, my mustache is sort of ‘pervy’ looking, but it draws attention and I guess that is the whole point of Movember. if you are not familiar with Movember, for the month of November, Men grow their mustaches to help raise awareness for Men’s Health issues such as Prostate and Testicular cancer. I myself lost an uncle to Prostate cancer a few years back and continue to fight on his behalf.

I normally do not like to go around and ask for money, however this cause is VERY dear to my heart and I would not be gorwing this ridiculous looking mustache if I truly did not believe. if you feel so inclined you can donate at the link here: https://mobro.co/zackzucker?mc=1

I am not asking for much, I would honestly be happy if all you were able to donate was $5. Every little bit helps and I want to stand up and fight for all the men in our lives.

Please feel free to share your stories below or share my link with anyone you know.

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.

Finding Time to Enjoy Life

Two weeks ago (in my last post), I explained my absence from blogging, citing life had been busy and I also had no idea what to write about. Well not much has changed since then. Life is still extremely busy, and finding things to write about is hard for me… so I figured I may as well just update all of you with what it is I have been doing with my time.

My time has been very limited lately, as I work full time for a software/tech company, I am a dad to two amazing children, I am a devoted husband and I am now also a part time student. This does not leave a lot of room for anything else. Although while I do not have much extra time on my hands, I have been very focused on enjoying that time. Far too often in my life I have spent my extra time doing any number of things, but often I would spend it doing yard work or just laying around, napping and watching TV/ And while napping and watching TV are VERY needed at times, I am trying to spend more time doing things that make me happy. I now pay someone to do most of my yard work, which frees up a lot of time (although I still enjoy doing some of it). I also try to get my gym works outs in before work while everyone in my house is still asleep. Why waste time when everyone else is awake when I could be spending time with them?

Time management has become extremely crucial to me these days. Whether it is going to the gym early in the morning or studying for a test after everyone has gone to sleep, everything I am doing these days is all about maximizing my time, building relationships and enjoying my time with those I love. My wife and I had gone through a bit of a rough patch recently, and we have been working very hard lately to mend fences and improve our relationship. I have also been working on my relationship with my kids. It was a strong relationship before, but I am trying to be as cognizant as possible about what I say and do around them, as I know everything can affect their lives in one way or another. But above all else, I am just trying to enjoy all of my spare time as much as I can. Games with my kids, a good TV show now and then, and a good date night with my wife every couple of weeks at a minimum (last week we went and saw “IT” in the theaters. I am not normally into those types of movies, but it was a fun movie, and definitely super creepy).

Life is flying by and its a waste to spend it doing things that do not make you happy. My wife makes me happy. My kids make me happy. Doing things I enjoy make me happy… so I have spent my time with them, doing the things that make us happy.

What makes you happy? What sorts of things do you enjoy doing? Share your thoughts or comments 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.

Busy Life and Writer’s Block

Some of you may be wondering where I have been lately. Others perhaps think I have finally caught up with myself and the blog train is ending. Well, I have enjoyed blogging up till now and I want to continue, but to be honest: it’s hard. Between work, school, parenting and being a (probably the world’s best) husband, I find myself with less and less time. On top of that… I have no idea what to write about.

I am currently finishing up another book that I hope to write about. I could write about school, but I am not too sure that anyone would care all that much or find it helpful for themselves…. But I am sure something will come to me.

The last couple of weekends were the first time in a LONG time, I was able to go and do some stuff for our house. We went to IKEA and bought my son a new bed… as well as about $400 worth of other stuff too. We also organized the house a bit, helps some family move, and enjoyed a little (very little) relaxation time as well (oh and I took a Personality Psych Mid Term… it went fairly well, I knew my stuff I thought, but ran out of time on the last question as I spent a little too much time on the multiple choice… but you live and learn).

Well for now, I think that may be all I have… I know, I know, a little boring, not very helpful and possibly pointless, haha. But please share with me some topics you feel would be great to blog about. What do you want to hear from me??

Lastly, if you have not done so already, pease 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.

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.

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.

Book Review: Bigger, Leaner, Stronger

To continue my summer of self improvement, I was able to read another book this summer, just before my vacation. The second book I read (after the School of Greatness) was titled ‘Bigger, Leaner, Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body’ by Michael Matthews. I actually had a few reasons for reading so much this summer. The first reasons was there was not a whole lot on tv. Second, I wanted to start getting my mind ready for school. Third, I truly want to start improving my life as much as I can in different areas. And finally, I had a Google coupon for some cheaper books, and figured I would pick a few that stood out to me (one of which is the book I am reviewing now).

Growing up , I was always very active, playing with friends, running in the street, or playing sports. As I got into High School I focused on swimming as my only sport and did everything I could to better myself. That sort of mentality has always stuck with me, especially when it comes to being in shape and taking care of myself. Overall I am in fairly good shape, with the exception of being more on the thinner side. I have always been slim… almost as if it was a curse. For the life of me, I have always had a problem gaining weight (I know some of you wish you had this problem, but for me, it is frustrating, as just like overweight people, I have body issues as well). I eat and eat and work out and never seem to be able to change my look, and that is where this book comes in,

I had recently heard about this book as it helps to debunk a lot of myths we believe about weightlifting, and it helps to focus in on what you are trying to do, and without wasting time. I have tried different workout routines, followed advice from trainer and professionals alike, and never am able to stick to a routine that has shown me results. But for some reason, I feel this time will be different. I have recently started working out following this routine and have already felt a difference in my strength. The best part about this book too is he not only tells you the science behind everything, but explains why certain things will work and others do not. From there he actually provides you not only a workout plan that fits your schedule, but he also provides you a nutritional spreadsheet too to help you maximize your gains.

At the end of the day, for me it gives me a new reason to be excited about going to the gym as well as a way to focus on my lifting and eating habits, and hope to start feeling better about myself here soon.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can check it out here.

If you want to follow Michael Matthews, you can find his Instagram here (his other social media links are on his website), and his website here.

Have you check out this book before, or have another workout read that is worth exploring? Please share your findings and results 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.

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.

Back from Vacation. Back to Reality

While I may still be a bit jet lagged, I am now back from my vacation and already back into full work mode. Our plane was delayed a little on Tuesday night and by the time we landed, went through customs, got our bags and got to the car, it was 2 hours later and our kids were exhausted. But I was in bed by 12:30 and had to be up bright and early for another day at work…. so with that, back to reality!

For our vacation we spent our time on the Island of Faial in the Azores. I personally have never been out of the country, so that in itself was a fantastic experience. But this island, was essentially heaven on Earth. Faial is amazing in its history and beauty. The people are all friendly and happy and aside from the mugginess, the weather was beautiful!

Over the course of the 8 days I was on the island, we did so much: checked out the Capelinhos (volcano), the Caldeira (crater), the Marina, Pico (an adjacent island), Pedro Miguel (town my in-laws grew up in). We drove around the island, walked, ate and drank! So much food and so much to do! I am not seafood eater so I missed out on a lot of the local cuisine, but there was still plenty for me to choose from.

The last few days we were on the island, was also the start of Semana do Mar (the Week of the Sea) which is a large yearly festival right in the marina. They close down streets, and their is music, dancing, food and lots of happy people!

This trip was SO MUCH FUN, and we did so much… so much I could write 10 blog posts. But as of right now, I am beyond exhausted and still jet lagged, so this will have to do :-). Please check out my Instagram account for a few pictures from my trip.

Now that I am back, it is also time for me to get back to reality; work, school, and creating a better life for myself and those round me!

Have you ever been to the Azores? Please share your experiences below… or share one of your favorite vacation spots!

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.

Off to Portugal!

I write this blog post full of excitement, as tomorrow morning, my family an I are off to the Azores Islands! This is especially fun for me, as I have never been out of the country!

My Father-In-Law turned 70 this year so he is flying the whole family (him and his wife, my wife, kids and myself, My wife’s sister and her husband and 2 kids as well as my wife’s brother) out to his home island for a week of fun and celebration. Even my parents will be stopping over for a few days as my Dad celebrates his retirement!

I have been practicing and teaching myself Portuguese the last couple years (I am usually awful with foreign language) and I am very much looking forward to seeing how much I really know. Also, I have school starting in mid-August as well, so this will be a good final R&R before school begins… life is about to get really crazy and hectic I think…

I do plan to schedule a blog post to be posted while I am gone, but other than that, you can follow me on Instagram and check out some of the pictures I will (hopefully) be posting while I am there!

If you have ever been to the Azores (specifically Faial or Pico) please share some of your favorite things to do there. Otherwise, what do you like to do when traveling?