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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.