Dear 43 Things Users,

10 years after introducing 43 Things to the world, we have decided we have met our last goal: completing the incredible experience that has been 43 Things. Please join us in giving one last cheer to all the folks who have shared their goals with the world, as well as all the people who have worked at The Robot Co-op to build this incredible website. We won a Webby Award, published a book, and brought happiness to a lot of people.

Starting today, 43 Things users can export their goals and entries from the site. Starting August 15, we will make the site “read only”. 43 Things users will still be able to view the site and export their content, but we won’t be taking any new content from users. We hope to leave the site up for folks to see and download their content until the end of the year. Ending on New Year’s Eve takes us full circle.

It has been a long ride (one of our original goals was to "build a company that lasts at least 2 years” - we beat that one!) While we wish the site could live on, it has suffered from a number of challenges - changes in how people use the site, the advertising industry, and how search engines view the site. We wish the outcome was different – but we’ve always been realistic about when our goals are met and when they aren't.

As of today, you will be able to download your goals and entries. See more about that on the FAQ page. Thanks for 10 great years of goal-setting and achieving.

- The Robots.

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Tarrador

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Entries
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Do something to improve the house (read all 27 entries…)
The Crib

How the months are flying by. Already our little Universe is ready to be in her own crib, in her own room. Separation anxiety is normal, right?

She likes her new digs, anyway…



Practice the Power of Three (read all 7 entries…)
What Got Me Here Won't Take Me There

It is coming time for me to think about what comes next. I have achieved, in the broad strokes, most of the things I set out to do up to this point. I have the job I want, the wife I want, the child I want, the home I want… The many, many things I want I have achieved and while I’m not yet ready to weep for a lack of worlds to conquer, I am somewhat beside myself as to exactly what comes next.

I employed a woman I met in December of last year with the hope and ambition that this would be someone I could do interesting things with. She had ideas for a cookbook and a catering company and I found her concepts very intriguing. But it has become apparent that was all it was; she had nothing beyond ideas and vague concepts. Worst of all, she had no skills or talent to bring to the equation. I made her a member of the staff, hoping to plumb some spark of skill or talent out of her. I realized in the cold analytical review that not only had she failed to advance, she had contributed to dragging me backward.

The same has been true for other members of my staff. They have reached the apex of their usefulness and refuse to expand. They are content where they are. They see their role with me as an easy check, one where they don’t have to shine and they are okay with that. But I am not. While they have played their roles in getting me to this point, and have been well compensated for taking the ride, they are not the ones who will aid in elevating me to higher success. They have become dead weight on the rope of my climb. And dead weight has to be cut away.

I have observed that people tend to be the average of the five people closest to them. I have invested myself too much in people who will not reach the same levels I am trying to achieve. Amongst my friends, co-workers, staff, and peers, I cannot say where any of them will be 10 years from now, but I am sure it will not be where I want to be.

Yet I’m stuck in this slow motion life where things are not perfect, but okay. I’m jonesing for change, but content with the status quo. I spend 10 years getting here, can’t I take a break and just coast for a while? Part of me is loathe to labor and risk and fail and suffer humiliation and loss. Part of me is excited about the prospect of all that. Fight the good fight with high stakes! But right now I don’t know who to contend against.

There are three things I think that will be the first steps in taking me to the next level. Three things I’ve only done reflexively or inconsistently. To tackle not just the question of what comes next, but the question of how it comes, I feel like I have to focus on these specific points:

  1. Be Conscious and Aware: Steve Jobs would ask himself in the mirror every day: “If this were the last day of my life, would I be content with the way I was about to spend it?” When the answer was “no” too many days in a row he knew it was time to change. My first task has to be to be aware of where I am on this journey every day. Am I living above my average? Is what I am going to do today going to push me towards what I want for tomorrow? What opportunities will I seek today? Is this the right book to read? Is that the best thing to eat? Trying to drive myself forward without an awareness of what I am unconsciously doing limits my success.
  2. Have a powerful self-belief system: More important that goals is a belief in myself that my goals will be achieved. I have written hundreds of goals, yet is has only been the ones I really believed I could achieve that have been accomplished. I used to mistake a powerful belief system for ambition or drive or purpose. My revised view is that I must first have a solid, unyielding, uncompromising belief in myself that I can and will do whatever I set myself to. With that, the process of goals becomes practically self-fulfilling.
  3. Spend time with people who are the way I want to be: Hard truth: those who got me here won’t take me there. Worse, with their dramas and their familiarity, they can actually hold me back. Spending time and learning about people who are where I want to be puts me in the frame of mind for success and achievement. It’s not so cold as: “What can this person do for me?” type thing. But: “What can I learn from this person to help me realize my own goals?” Who has the greater secrets to success; the buddy who makes $12,000 investing in a new IPO, or the buddy who has to borrow $10 for parking? The guy who has spent years as a personal trainer, now ready to open his own gym, or the guy who wants to eat pizza and drink beer?(I know who I’d rather spend time with, but will that get me there?...) The people who vacation at a beach house in the islands, or the people who get away for a weekend to the lake? These probably seem like cruel divisions, and maybe even choosing friends and associates based upon what they have vs who they are. But to a degree what they have is based upon who they are. And in many cases where they are is where I want to be.

Right now I don’t know what I want, what my next series of goals are. I don’t know where it will take me or what I will have to risk or sacrifice. I’m terribly afraid I am at my own apex, incapable of higher achievement or greater things. I’m terribly excited that I’ve barely scratched the surface of all that I am capable of mentally, physically, creatively, and spiritually. I fear going off the edge as much as I am eager to take the leap. It took all that I had to get to this point. Whatever comes next will require more that I have, and more than I am.



Change the Energy (read all 53 entries…)
As Changes Go

One thing I have learned about this goal: My efforts to change the energy around me have resulted in the energy changing me just as much. Maybe more.

At first I wanted my aura to become like a physical force; something that could alter the atoms of reality just by my presence. I wanted to walk into a room full of negative people and immediately alter their moods with the power of my own personality. If I myself felt a certain way that wasn’t profitable to my being, I wanted to project an energy that countered that negativity, over-rode it and washed it away. Later I wanted to use my own energy as a shield and barrier against toxic energies produced by other people. I wanted to use my energy as a source of willpower to outlast others who were contending against me (in energy-drawing ways). I eventually sought to change the energy within myself in many ways, to undo my moods and mental programming and self-image and moral tremulations, driving myself on to be a better, more positively charged, more effective, and happier person.

I hate going to work here; change the energy
She’s being a real pain in the ass; change the energy
Traffic sucks!; change the energy
I’m afraid of what others will think of me; change the energy
I never get what I want!; change the energy
What if I don’t ever have it?; change the energy
These people will never agree with me; change the energy
These people are energy vampires; change the energy
What… do you mean… you are “out”... of fried chicken?; Well, sometimes fried chicken is the answer, not the problem.

Through this journey I’ve come to see “miraculous” results where changing the energy had great effect on circumstances, mood, attitude, and even on other people. It makes me a believer that change in energy is not only possible, it is natural. People and circumstances and matter all respond to the applications of energy. Not in a duplicitous or manipulative way, but a natural way.

  • A woman I know was complaining bitterly about a circumstance (and she had ample justification to complain) to me one time. The more she dissected and examined each element of the unfairness and distress of it all, the further down in emotion and energy she sank. I stood and listened, initially boiling with anger on her behalf, insulted and grieved on her behalf. But then I started not listening to what she was saying. I didn’t answer her or affirm her injuries. I just kept thinking, mantra-like: “You are beautiful. You are loved. You are valued. You are a gift. You are precious… and the like. I let the energy from these thoughts lift my emotional attitude and I projected my thoughts and feeling out toward her like a lighthouse beacon. After a time her descent into self-pity and anger stopped. She began looking for the bright sides. She made affirmations and promises to not let this get her down. She looked at me and told me I made her feel wonderful about herself. I hadn’t said a word, I promise.

Lots of other things, too. Nothing you could put a scientific label on or photograph or document. And trying to do so attaches too much significance go outcomes vs emotions and energy, anyway.

And while I’ve been busy changing the energy, the energy has been busy changing me, too. It has rewired the way I think and respond. It has reformed my attitudes and emotions. It has shunted much of my fear and doubt about myself and others. It has bent me in new directions away from my selfish expectations and onto a path of acceptance. I didn’t get a big new job I wanted, one that I focus much energy and intention upon. Okay, I accept that. I missed my chance last year to go to Costa Rica on what turned out to be a false lead toward adopting a baby. I accept that, too. And I have accepted those things, wholly and without reservations of anger or remorse. The ways in which my use of energy has changed me has made that possible.

Oh, I’m no glowing being of light and energy, washed pure and unstained by this crude matter of flesh. No. I am still a weakling, a sloth, a glutton, a whore, a fear monger, a griper, an intolerant. I still get angry, bitter, stubborn, lazy, forgetful, indulgent, drunk, and self-pitying. But the truth is, it is a little bit less, degree by degree. I spend less and less time in the back of the cave, scrawling my sins on the wall by torchlight. I move closer and closer to the entrance, where the sun is. Ha ha, I didn’t even mean to. I just did, because it was natural for me. Because the energy has changed me in that way.



Bid a fond farewell to this site in the old style (read all 7 entries…)
I Will Not Go Quietly

Woke up with a heavy head and I thought about leavin’ town. I could have died if I wanted to- slipped over the edge and drowned. But, oh no baby, I won’t give up so easy.

It has been a bruising, soul-wrecking struggle, this matter of 43T closing down. Its like a girlfriend who wants to break up with you, but won’t tell you when. Its like a job that says they are going out business, but won’t tell you when. Its zombie-land… the desert of uncertainty and unfinished business. And just when we thought everything was going so well. I initially thought about just chucking it in. Beat them to the punch, quit before I got fired, “you can’t break up with me; I’m breaking up with you” kinda thing. That way there was closure, finality, term. The end. But something I’ve learned about myself (in no small part because of my participation on this site) is the voice of my own fear. I wanted to feel in control of something out of my control. I wanted to feel like I couldn’t be hurt by this site’s ending. I wanted to flee the battleground and hide in the hills before the last blows were struck. I didn’t want to be there at the end. Like I wasn’t there for my marriages. Like I wasn’t there for friends. Like I wasn’t there for a ton of goals that amounted to ink on paper mouldering in a notebook somewhere. I wanted to quit 43T like I have wanted to quit everything that might actually come to an end. Even life. But I know me so much better now. I’m rarely confused about the man I am and the man I want to be. I still know the man I want to be, I just know when I’m being the man I am. And I know the voice of my fear. And I won’t give in to it.

Too many tire tracks in the sands of time. Too many love affairs that stop on a dime. I think it’s time to make some changes ‘round here.

For one, I’ve invested too much onto this screen to just quit. Too much of me is here, the real me, the wanna-be me, the use-ta-be me. There’s no other place, no other diary, no other record as broad and deep as the entries on this site. For another, there are too many friends and allies here to just walk away from. Those to leave, I understand. And I do not begrudge them in any way. But to me everyone here is a treasure, and aid, a support, and an inspiration. The spirit and honesty with which all of you pursue your goals and life-wishes on here fuels my spirit to not give up, give in, or listen to the exclusive counsel of my demon. 43T or no, that is something I still need, want, and will work for. In a different way, of course. No other site can right now, and probably never ever will, be structured in the same way that made everything here as special and important to us as it has been. But change is a-comin’. I can be in front of it or under it.

Yeah, I’m gonna tear it up. Gonna trash it up. I’m gonna round it up. Gonna shake it up. Oh no baby, I will not lie down.

My goals are simpler right now; be a good dad, be a good husband, keep my job, make money, enjoy my life. These are the broad strokes. I still have dreams of visiting Costa Rica and Thailand. I still want to paint and draw. I want to visit friends in Manchester and Maui and Australia and San Diego. I still have duties like pay this credit card off and do this pile of laundry. Goals and ways to fulfill them will always be a part of my life. Its like when you are crossing a bridge on fumes in your car, and it runs out of gas. You still need to cross the bridge; you’re just going to have to find a different means of transportation. Its been a great ride of 43T, but now I have to get out and walk the rest of the way. The site is ending, but not my journey.

I’m brave enough to be crazy, I’m strong enough to be weak. I see all these heroes with feet of clay whose mighty ships have sprung a leak, and I want you to tell me darlin’: just what do you believe in now?

Popclogs, 1001Days, Over50, all the alternatives that are not really alternatives, not like moving to a new land but to a new planet, in the great diaspora there’s little chance we will all land in the same place. And shouldn’t my first consideration be to find a site or a means I can use? The most important element of 43T was (at least initially) it’s anonymity. I could post about fears and feelings and desires without concern who was reading them. Not a luxury enjoyed with Facebook or Twitter. I mean, I could have, under a fake name, but what’s the point of public protest if no one stops to listen? LiveJournal or blogs; what is the value of conversing with an audience of one? We could wander in and out of conversations with ease on 43T. Flamers weren’t encouraged, they were admonished and trounced. Even though we didn’t know each other’s names, we understood each other as people. Where would I ever find a place that offers that?

Well, c’mon over here baby, you ‘bout to gimme a heart attack! I wanna wrap my lovin’ arms around the small of your back. Yeah, and I’m gonna pull you, pull you, pull you, pull you right up close to me.

I’m making the trades in information to keep up with the 43Friends who want to stay in touch. Some people I’m making closer connections with because the relationship to them is much more special. It won’t be the same, but I won’t let you guys go.

Yeah, we’re gonna tear it up. We gonna trash it up. Gonna round it up. Gonna shake it up. Oh, no no no, I will not lie down.

Everyone from Moses to Patton could look at defeat and find opportunity. The ‘Bots at 43T aren’t perishing, they are moving on, and one hopes to bigger and better and grander things. Wouldn’t it be funny if one day we all met again at an even better website they created? But today I have to look beyond the loss of this site… we all do. Bigger and better and grander things. We are not just flower to wilt from a lack of water. We are those weird walking weeds that send out tendrils and migrate from one sustaining source to another. Nature made us to survive. Maybe this is the push the Universe is giving me to make me bigger and better and grander. Maybe I’ve grown too complacent and quiet in this port of shelter. Maybe I need to be on the rough seas for a while, shouting at the sky, challenging the gods. I know about setting goals, I know about telling myself the truth, I know that failure is simply a road to another opportunity. If so, then my goals, and my avatar, should be bigger and louder and grander than ever before. Not goals I want to do, someday, but goddamn-no-bullshit-absolutely-for-mother-fucking-certain goals that are going to get done!

Turn this thing around, I will not go quietly. I will not lie down. I will not go quietly. I will not lie down. I will not go quietly. I will not lie down. I will not lie down.

Be it a Popclog, a Facebook, a blogspot or a wordpress, I will choose to take this situation and turn it into an opportunity. I have no choice in what is happening. I can only choose how to deal with it. I won’t, and my icon/avatar won’t lie in smoking ruins among 43T’s ashes. What I’ve created here does not end here. Because it is mine, not theirs.

Well, don’t you ever get lonely? Don’t you ever get down? Don’t you ever get tired of all the wicked tongues in this town? Oh baby, I just wanna take you away from here.

I am a little (quite a bit, actually) nervous about not being able to come here and check on my friends, even surreptitiously. I already feel disconnected with the protracted nature of this site’s closing. I write simple goals because, what’s the point? In a few days/weeks it will all be gone, or inaccessible. Maybe it is time to migrate, to get out of town, to leave before sunset. But no. I think that is fear and loneliness talking again. I want to be here, like the final scene in “Fight Club”, when it all falls down. Just wish I knew when it was…

I ain’t no tiger, I ain’t no little lamb. Suppose you tell me mama, who do you think I think I am? And oooh baby, don’t you give a damn?

I’m not the man I want to be, not yet. I’m not the man I used to be, not anymore. I am who I am right now and that is all. Busted up, frail and fragile and mortal and wicked and wistful. But I am self aware in a way I never was before I came here. Maybe it coincided with age and alleged maturity, or maybe it was the process of presenting myself and my choices and dilemmas and achievements here, and receiving the feedback. So many people have said so many kind and supportive things. Happily, no deletions, no shut-downs, no endings can erase that.

Yeah, I’m gonna tear it up. Gonna trash it up. Gonna round it up. Gonna shake it up. Oh baby I will not lie down. Turn this thing around, I will not go quietly. I will not lie down. I will not go quietly. I will not lie down. I will not go quietly. I will not lie down. I will not lie down.

This is their end, not mine. You will see me on the other side, somewhere.



Read at least 52 books in 2014 (read all 14 entries…)
#10: The Third Gate by Lincoln Child

Rather than a Kindle, this was an actual paperback I had picked up somewhere and had been meaning to read. It is almost pure pulp, and meant to be read for enjoyment.

A man whose specialty is researching into the supernatural is recruited by an archeologist who is believes his latest expedition may be cursed. They are searching for the tomb of Egypt’s first king, and strange things are happening at the site, which is located in the foul swampiness of the Sudd, a stagnant, muck-filled swamp in northern Sudan. The researcher discovers that they are using a woman who returned from a near-death experience to channel the spirit of the king to find the tomb. It’s part Indiana Jones and part X-Files as excavation and curse collide.

The novel is not bad, but Lincoln Child does his best work when he teams with Douglas Preston, and Preston’s stand alone novels are generally better, too. Child freely admits in the afterward that he plays fast and loose with history and facts, but hey, it’s a novel. To me that’s just an indication of laziness. And that seems to temper all his novels: a certain laziness. He’s no Michael Crichton, though I think he desperately wishes he was. Reading Lincoln Child is kinda like watching a made for Syfy movie. You don’t have to think too hard, a lot of stuff isn’t gonna make sense, but you’ll have some fun, at least.



Run the 2014 Peachtree Road Race (read all 2 entries…)
X Marks My Start

I received my packet info for the race, including my race number and what wave I’m in. Wave “X”, which is third from the last. It is the furthest back I’ve been ever, the 21st wave. I know it makes no real difference and I won’t have to be at the start line nearly as early. But it makes me feel I’ll be coming in last place now no matter what. What’s worse than being passed by “Z” wave?



Read at least 52 books in 2014 (read all 14 entries…)
#9: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I read this book as part of a book-exchange with Josh and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The story is of a young woman who, after feeling herself lost and without identity due to her aimless lifestyle, decides to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. She tackles the trail alone (without a hiking partner), but gets support and companionship along the way. It is still a type of walkabout for her, as she confronts personal demons related to drug abuse, her failed marriage, a fruitless relationship, and the untimely passing of her mother.

While some of the face-to-face with her issues borders on pendantic, it can be said that the author holds nothing back. We are treated to every bodily function she endures in the woods, every lust, every fear, every hunger, every pang. But also she opens up her soul and is fearless about her vulnerabilities, where she got it wrong in her choices, her resentment and anger at her mother for dying, her own fear of a life unworthy. She thrashes these angsts out on the trail and we are the silent therapist, sometimes squirming in our seats at her forthrightness.

Interspaced between the pages of her personal dramas is the unfolding and changing landscape of the PCT. She describes them with a style of clarity that makes me feel like I am there on the trail, by the lake, at the campground, in the rain, and in the woods with her. Never the less, the endless grind of walking the uncounted miles does become tiresome, both for Stayed and for the reader. I’ve no doubt a man would have written a different book about the exact same experience, but this was a story about more than the immediacy of the path. I still like “Into Thin Air”, and “Up The Amazon Without A Paddle” better for their muscular, pertinent, present prose. But “Wild” is a trip you can see yourself making, both physically and spiritually.

Additionally, I stuck with my program of reading at least 10% of the book every day, so I was able to complete it in under 10 days. It’s looking very much like I will not complete the goal of 52 books by the end of the year, however.



Read at least 52 books in 2014 (read all 14 entries…)
#8: Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

Zorba the Greek is one of those semi-classics I always felt I should have read. A young intellectual and a mysterious, rascally, larger-than-life sexagenarian team up to work a mine and export timber on the island of Crete. The learned young man has all his views and philosophy and idealism challenged and upturned by Zorba, who lives moment to moment, drinking in life, happiness, sadness, anger and abandon. While the learned narrator has his books and schooling, Zorba communicates his deepest emotions through song and dance.

It’s hard to pin down the lessons or the plot of the novel. The narrator seems to realize that his ideas gleaned from pages and pages of books offer him no more knowledge of the world or man’s destiny that Zorba’s hard-scrabble life experience. In some instances it is Zorba’s profane yet practical wisdom that triumphs.

There are certainly parts of the book that depict the rawness, beauty and harshness of village life. Just as you are about to be drawn into simple and pure peasant life you witness the mob-driven, brutal murder of a woman to preserve the tribal integrity, the burning of the monastary by a mad monk, and the avarice of neighbors at a village woman’s passing. Mix that with descriptions of the sun, the sea, the sky, and goats, and the village comes across as a real place, cruel and simple and beautiful, without the gilded edges of the narrator’s many books.

The story got somewhat plodding for me near the end, with a back and forth of philosophy vs Zorbasophy, covering ground already trod. It prompted me to toss the book aside, as Zorba would have done, and just lived life. I can see adding it to any library of great books for men, but it didn’t carry the visceral punch of other classics by say London or Hemingway. Still, the old, unrepentant scoundrel Zorba sums up his eventful life by announcing that he’s done heaps and heaps of thing, but he should have done more. He should have lived a thousand years.

A good epitaph.



Dine at Tarrador's Table (read all 32 entries…)
Sweet Potato-Cantaloupe Smoothie

It’s smoothie week. I’ve been making green smoothies with spinach and avocado, kale smoothies with sweet potato and spirulina, and spinach-parsley smoothies with coconut oil and chlorella. Washing it down with 2 quarts of iced green tea with a little ginger root in it. The purge of heavy carbs, meat and dairy is having a caloric drop that I can really feel. It is the temporary step where the body reacts to the change.

Among the smoothies I’ve been having, I made one from sweet potatoes, which are low glycemic, high in potassium, vitamins, iron and flavonoids, and cantaloupe, which is high in vitamin A and C, beta carotene, potassium and adenosine. I drank this about an 2 hours before I went to bed, and it made me feel full (but not gorged), energized, yet relaxed, and able to sleep all night and awake in the morning without craving something to eat immediately.

Sweet Potato-Cantaloupe Smoothie

All measures are approximate
4 oz roasted and peeled sweet potato
4 oz peeled and diced cantaloupe
4 oz greek yogurt, plain (low in carbs, low in sodium, high in protein. Stick to plain; flavored yogurt often has sweeteners added)
1 tablespoon raw almond butter
1 tablespoon red palm fruit oil (high in vitamin E and rich with antioxidants)
1 tablespoon organic agave nectar (optional; I use it as an added slow release glucose)
4-6 oz organic coconut milk beverage (about 60 calories and a good boost of vitamin D)

Dump everything into the blender, Vitamix, or Ninja and blend thoroughly.



Practice the Power of Three (read all 7 entries…)
Take Three Deep Breaths

As I’ve said before, I abandoned the medication I had been taking for my depression a few months ago. It was having side effects that I simply could not contend with any longer, and I was, after all, feeling fine.

I dumped it cold turkey, without consulting anyone (doctor, therapist, wife… no one). At first I went through major emotional changes, and everyone noticed. People suggested I change my prescription, get a new type of med, or something. I put them off and told them I would… I would.

Once purged of the chemical manipulator, I felt like I evened out, but I was still subject to emotional peaks and valleys. Not like before, but still recognizable as symptoms of what led me to seek medication to begin with.

Now that I recognized the signs for what they were, I sought ways to deal with them. One of the most successful techniques I have been using is mindful breathing meditation. Right before I settle in for sleep, I consciously take several deep breaths, lowering myself into a greater state of relaxation with each breath. By the time I get to about 8 or 10 breaths, I’m relaxed enough to just fall off to sleep.

From this, I began using the process of taking three deep, purposeful breaths when I felt an emotional peak or valley coming on. This worked whether I was experiencing an emotional burst of anger, anxiety, or frustration, or if I was experiencing bottoming out, desperation, sadness, or sense of purposelessness and loss. The first step was to recognize it for what it was: a lie my brain was telling me due to misfiring neurons, inconsistent with the reality of circumstances around me. So any reaction I made, good or negative, was out of proportion to what was actually prompting the reaction. But knowing this wasn’t enough. I had to break the process of reactions I was having.

So, three deep breaths, not focusing on the reaction or the situation, but focusing on each breath. A form of counting to ten, but more meditative. Whatever emotion I was feeling, I gathered it in my breath, and expelled it on my exhale. By the third breath I had reached an even and neutral level of calm. I could look at the situation that initiated my response with more clarity, and (most importantly) respond more appropriately. This has been a very useful tool in helping me maintain my emotional balance without medication.

But I have also found it useful for other decision-making processes. If I am stuck on a menu item, or figuring out a complex issue, or contemplating a purchase, or preparing to undertake something arduous, taking three deep breaths and focusing not on the issue at hand, but the breaths in and out, helps me clear the air and make what I feel to be better choices. When I have something I don’t want to do, something I am avoiding for some reason, I use the three breath method to help motivate me to go ahead, put away the excuses, and just do it. It puts me into a calm, relaxed state of mind and body.

Sometimes it takes two rounds of deep breaths. Sometimes just three aren’t enough. But to me the difference is measurable and obvious.



Maintain and Improve My Fitness For Life (read all 15 entries…)
Let's Talk About Pain

Let’s talk about what’s really bothering me:

Chronic pain.

I’ve been hard on myself over the years. Two broken ankles, two broken wrists, sheared ligament on my finger, torn rotator cuff, ripped bicep muscle, sprained back, and assorted lacerations, puncture wounds, and burns. My job requires me to be on my feet 8-12 hours a day, which has strained my arches, wracked my knees, and jacked up my hips. And my back, it has ruined my back. I’m still overweight, and the decline into maturity has only amplified problems that were already developing. I had an x-ray a couple of years ago that suggested I’m getting arthritis in my neck and upper back. My neck tilts a couple of degrees to the left, off-setting my head from the center of my body. When I stand up, my knees pop like fingers snapping. When I get out of the car, my hips are so stiff I sometimes have to limp across the parking lot. I have to work the kinks out of my back before getting up in the morning. I once read that John Kennedy used to prefer the bottom position because of his crippling back pain and I thought: “I feel ya, brother”.

It is no exaggeration to say that I am in some kind of pain all the time. All the time. I have been in some kind of pain so long that I cannot recall a time when there was no pain. It is not the kind of pain that puts me in a wheelchair, or keeps me bedridden, or makes me retreat to a darkened room for hours on hours. It is a chronic, but manageable pain.

Never the less, it overall diminishes my quality of life. And I want to do something about it. I currently pop aspirin on a daily basis to ease the aches. I’ve been reading a lot about anti-inflammatory foods that decrease inflammation in joint tissues, and this week I’m drinking only green smoothies. I’m also slowly getting back into circuit workouts, but it hurts.

I don’t believe it is normal to be in some level of pain at all times. If this is the onset of RA or one of its cousins, or the steady, irresistible decline of age, then there are things I can do. I can exercise more and change my dietary habits. But it is hard. Fried chicken wings, beer, and salty fries don’t suppress inflammation, it seems. 50 squats devastates my ability to walk, and discourages further exercise. The pain I am about to endure is not worth the long range success I’m seeking to achieve. I want a bag of Tostitos so bad it gives me a headache (more pain…).

Gone as of this week are sodas and fruit juices in favor of at least 2 quarts of iced green tea every day. Added to my daily routine are a daily vitamin supplement and a multi-omega oil tablet. Open the door to coconut milk beverage, organic red palm oil, flax seed and almond butter. Out are glutens, dairies (except for greek yogurt), meats and sugar. Well, sugar is almost out. I have some raw honey and raw palm sugar (which tastes awful on its own, btw). And I put sugar in my one cup of coffee each morning. For now. Don’t judge me.

Losing some weight will definitely help with the pain in my weight-bearing joints. I already know I have to improve my posture. I can’t go on extended smoothie diets (might as well not set myself up for failure), so I’m on a rotation of vegetarian, paleo-style, juicing, and raw diets as well. Keeping up the variety will help prevent me from caving to pepperoni pizzas and deep-fried ice cream bars (crap, I shouldn’t have even thought about that…).

On this point, on the matter of pain, it is not enough to maintain and improve. I have to rid my body of its aches, stiffness, cracks and pops and moans. Or at least reduce the impact it has on my life.



Bid a fond farewell to this site in the old style (read all 7 entries…)
I've Done 239 Things

Since I signed up on this site in March of 2007, I have cleared 239 things off my list. I can’t recall what the first thing was, and some of the things were only “fun” goals (like wish such-and-such a stupendous, amazing, blueberry-eating birthday on such-and-such a date, or exchange Christmas cards). Still, that means on average I accomplished 34.somethingsomethingsomething things each year that I have been here, or nearly three goals a month.

I feel like a bit of a faker or a failure if a goal sets in my list for too long. Even the long-term ones get stale after a while and I wonder: “What am I actually achieving? What am I really getting done?”

“Nothing,” growls the beast in his cage. “You make list after list and you never get anything done. You talk-talk-talk, you drown in your own bullshit, but you don’t get anything done. You fail, and you will always fail.”

Of course that is not true, and I have to move out of earshot from the beast in his cage. Which is difficult, because there is a chain on my leg leading back to him. But when I get far enough out, I can think and I can see that everyday I accomplish something. Every day I drive a little closer to those goals that are really important to me. Every day another item is crossed off or another post-it is crumpled and thrown into the trash – missions accomplished.

It’s easy to write lists and lists of goals. It’s easy to bury myself in bullshit. But what I have been able to do here at this site is to clarify what was really important. By writing it out, by posting about it, by receiving support and feedback, by sharing my experiences and victories, I have thought out what I really want and what it means to struggle for it. Each post forced me to think about the value of what I was doing, and how it fit into my life. If out of 239 things only 50 were really worthwhile (and I mean from a personal growth and accomplishment status), that is still more than 7 things each year, on average. If each year passed and I was able to achieve 7 important things, I think that is pretty damned good.

This wasn’t my place to brag, or to find other people who wanted to “learn to snowboard”, or just talk-talk-talk. It was my place to think about what I wanted. It was my place to bleed and weep and rant and swear and divine and learn how to achieve what I wanted. It was my place to change my mind about what I wanted and how I wanted it. It was my place to admit defeat and start again and to always strive to keep my head up and a whistle on my lips.

This has been my place to start with nothing and form my own reality. So far, I’ve done that… at least 239 times.



Maintain and Improve My Fitness For Life (read all 15 entries…)
In From The Cold

Cold showers has been a hell of a goal to practice. I have not come close to my 8 minute goal, 4 minutes being the closest, and that being done irregularly.

I still believe it is mostly psychological and if I could steel my nerve, the actual practice would be possible. But I am a weak puddle of human pudding. My resolve is no match for the stinging needles of ice cold water coming from the shower. And the excuses that I make… I am a fire sign, after all; cold water is an anathema to my spirituality. This cold lead to hypothermia and pneumonia. This is stupid, why am I even doing this?

Somewhere, in some other Universe, there is a better version of me, showering under an ice cold stream, yodeling and scrubbing my buff body with a pine bark washcloth. This other version of me has a thick wooly beard, piercing eyes, and a penis like a salami, unaffected by frigid water. When he’s done with his cold shower, he’s going to chop down a forest, build an adobe fortress, make love to a harem of women, or saddle a buffalo and roam the praire.

Back in this Universe, it’s just me, finding excuses.



Bid a fond farewell to this site in the old style (read all 7 entries…)
Ha!

Finally, a real use for the “Orange Banner of Doom”!



Read at least 52 books in 2014 (read all 14 entries…)
#7. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

I blew through this novel over the weekend while visiting the wife’s family. I love my in-laws, but it is also good to have something to retreat to.

This is the fourth novel in the “Dresden Files” series featuring Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing wizard for hire. The novels read like a mix of noir detective fiction and sword and sworcery. There are tons of supernatural characters, from pixies and faeries, to werewolves and vampires. The novel was fairly well paced and a bit of a who-dunit. It also has a kick-ass Armageddon battle scene at the end. For my own preferences, Bob the Skull did not get nearly enough “face time”. One short scene involving him is a bit of disappointment after his larger role in other novels. The book maintained its formulaic format of supernatural battles, wise-cracking sidekicks, and moral delimmas for poor Harry, who despite his best intentions, can’t seem to catch a break. I guess if he had it easy we would be reading his stories, though. The novels are breezy easy, and I can see myself reading more of them, just for entertainment.

I should be further up on this goal that I am, however. 21 weeks in and I’m only on book 7 (8, actually, as I am nearly finished with another one). That is averaging about one book every three weeks. It has more to do with my schedule than my reading speed. If I can block out an hour or two for television (or four or five hours for a House of Cards-athon), then is it really that hard to find an hour or 90 minutes to sit and read? Have to work harder on this one.



Bid a fond farewell to this site in the old style (read all 7 entries…)
It's Not Fair... It's Not Fair... There Was Time Now...

Drats!

Just about the time my schedule slowed down and allowed me time to return to and refocus on my goals and posting… the rumor is that my most effective goal setting and meeting avenue is closing down.

Which, I guess, teaches us not to take time for granted. Just about the time you scrape and save for that once in a life time vacation, the virgin paradise you longed to visit is paved and condo’ed. Just about the time you decide it’s time to work on your relationship, she’s headed out the door, suitcase in hand. Just about the time you decide you’d better do something about this weight and high cholesterol, you get hit with a fatal heart attack. There really is no time for later. All we have is now.

Lots of times my goal list has served as more of a “wish list” or an “observation list” rather than a list of specific things to do or get done. The format of this site has made that possible and it has helped me open up avenues into my own way of thinking and achieving that I never found before. This has not been just a place for listing goals, it has been a place for framing my life.

The people I’ve encountered here have been some of the best influences on me that I can recall. Perhaps not in the way the crafters of this site intended. Rather that join in on their goals, I would just read and watch their own individual developments, be it build a birdhouse, deal with depression, or learn to be whole again. It was like reviewing a bunch of mini-blogs without the hassle of jumping from website to website. And the support and encouragement I received on my own goals was priceless. I have developed very close and deep friendships with people here over the years. Those friendships I am sure will endure past a platform for writing about goals.

If the shuttering of 43 Things means anything to me, it is that time is what I make of it. The very banner that leads each goal makes the philosophy of this site clear: “Tarrador is doing 18 things…” Not, “wants to”. Not, “is thinking about doing one day when all the circumstances are perfect and all the stars are aligned”. Not, “would have done if only”. “Is doing”, every day, with every action, with every intention. I guess I always thought I’d have time to fully embrace that concept; when the work was done, when the bills were paid, when the child was fed, when the house was cleaned…

If 43 Things does, or does not, go dark in the near future, I can do my part to make sure that my goals and intentions are something that are not just a past-time of reading other’s posts or writing occasional, non-concluding updates on my own murky goals. Time and goals are finite, and there is never as much time as we think there is.



Dine at Tarrador's Table (read all 32 entries…)
House Lemon Curd

This is the way I make it, and it turns out really good and functional in a variety of uses.

Ingredients

makes about 16 ounces

3 whole eggs, large
1 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of lemon juice, freshly squeezed is best
2 oz butter, diced
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons of lemon zest

Process

  1. Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a double boiler over simmering water until mixed well, then continue to stir until thick, 7 to 10 minutes. When it covers the back of a spoon or runs off the edge like thick honey, it will be right.
  2. Drain through a mesh sieve to get rid of lumps. Transfer to a bowl for storage. Fold in butter until well incorporated. Fold in sweetened condensed milk until well incorporated. Mix in lemon zest.
  3. Cover curd with plastic wrap. Push the plastic down onto the curd until it touches so that it does not form a “skin” and chill in the refrigerator until it has thickened, about 4 hours.

I have been using this a lot as a basis for tarts, dessert shots, pie filling, and other stuff. I began adding the sweetened condensed milk to help stabilize and thicken the mix.

When I have a sufficient batch left over, I can it to extend its life and have it available whenever we encounter something that would do with a dollop of sweet, sour, rich lemon curd.



Dine at Tarrador's Table (read all 32 entries…)
Dessert

Chocolate cheesecake with Pinot/raspberry glaze and whipped cream, in a mini mason jar.



Celebrate the Magic, Remember Dreams Come True April Scavenger Hunt (read all 6 entries…)
Second Star To The Right

A quick 30 minute spit paint featuring an astronaut on a sailboard, aiming for a swirling nebula.



Make Some Nice Digital Art (read all 6 entries…)
May Inspirations

For the next couple of months I’m going to try and draft out some images in the spirit of artists who’s style I like and admire. I’m not trying to copy their style, only to reflect some of it and try to broaden my skills by taking note of their techniques and use of space, design and color.

It was common in the Renaissance art schools for student to begin by setting up easels in front of the canvases and frescoes of the Masters and recreating the images. Studiously coping the shapes, the values, the hues of the best paintings in the world. Even Leonardo Da Vinci began this way, xeroxing his teacher’s works, until his teacher noticed that Da Vinci’s copies were getting better than the teacher’s originals. I don’t believe my scribbles will come to that, but the practice seems like a sound one.

I’m starting with a piece that I never quite finished, done in a sort of Paul Gauguin style. I admire his broad use of bright and solid colors, his primitive postures, his emphasis on color, design and shape over detail. Nothing he painted looks life-like (as it would in a photo) but it is all filled with life. In retrospect I could have used more bright colors, concentrated less on detail in the face, and gone for a less somber posing.



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