Changes That Improved My Quality Of Life

I’m going to go off subject for this one. I guess now that my complex is back on lock down (everyone in my complex is either elderly, disabled, or both) I’ve had plenty of time to think. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the changes I’ve made over the course of my life. So here is a list of things I’ve done that improved my life so much I wish I had done them sooner. Here goes


Changes I Wish I Had Made Sooner

Learning how to ask for help

Being open about my mental illness

Cancel my cable service

Stop watching 24 hours news channels

Cancel all of my magazine subscriptions

Saving my letters from family and friends

Throwing away my old bank statements

Realizing that I don’t have to be defined by my job

Stop feeling guilty about not wanting to date

Gotten a bidet on my toilet

Getting rid of my music CDs and movie DVDs

Hanging art work in my apartment (most of it is done by my best friend)

Getting rid of my car

Give up on trying to please toxic people and bullies

Stop feeling guilty about wanting to spend most of my time at home

Give up fast food

Get my finances in order

Severely cutting back on caffeine

July 27 2021

Spent most of yesterday morning outside my apartment. Just hung out in the complex library catching up with the other tenants. Had some good conversations.

Been having lots of rain lately. It hasn’t been nearly as hot in my hometown as in most places. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. We still have another six weeks of potentially hot weather. Corn harvest will start in six to eight weeks. Football season is a little over a month away.

Haven’t been keeping up with friends like I used to. I imagine most people are busy and stressed these days. I usually spend my days reading books or watching educational videos on youtube.

Knowing Thyself

One of my teenage nephews got his first job shortly after school ended for the summer. It made me think back on the types of work I had over the years. It also made me think back on the career advice my parents, teachers, etc. gave me when I was growing up.

I did lots of chores for my parents from as far back as I can remember. I was mowing lawns for my parents from about age 8 and helping mom cook supper from age 6. My grandma used to let me help her in her vegetable garden. My grandpa and dad used to take me and my brother with them whenever they went out to cut firewood on a local rancher’s property. They didn’t let us run the chain saws, but they did let us stack and store the cut wood even before we started school. When I was 8, my dad gave me an old hacksaw so I could practice cutting on small pieces and limbs. When I was in junior high, I helped out at my uncle’s farm every summer. I usually had to store and stack hay bails, help take care of pigs, clean chicken houses, and things like that. And I loved it. I loved it all. I’m glad my family thought it was good to get their kids involved in chores and family business when we were still in grade school. I even helped my dad organize files and clean in his dental office.

I got my first “real job” as a fast food cook. Got told off by the owner my first day out of orientation. He might not have known it was my first day. I’ll never know. Lost the job a month later when I couldn’t work fast enough to be a cook in fast food. For the rest of the summer I worked on a construction crew at a livestock sale barn. We were in charge of rebuilding pens and fences to keep cattle and pigs in while they were being sold. It was hot and dirty work. But it didn’t bother me as much as working fast food.

Over the next several years, I worked in retail. I hated dealing with customers. Caused me too much stress. I usually did better when I was unloading delivery trucks, organizing the store room, stocking shelves, and cleaning.

There is an underlying theme in all of this: I did much better at jobs that didn’t involve interacting with the public and weren’t really fast paced. As bad as I struggled in retail and restaurant, I would have struggled even worse in sales and in person teaching. Of course, the mental illness made this even worse.

I think in addition to my mental illness, the big reason I struggled at work was I often took jobs that weren’t aligned with my personality and skills. As much as working in crowds and with people I don’t know bothered me, I’m sure more people are bothered by work when they would have to spend entire days alone or with the same people. Most people I know don’t understand how I spend days on end alone and not break. It’s just the way I’m wired and my skill set.

As it is I’m on disability for my mental illness. But because I don’t work a regular paying job doesn’t mean I don’t keep occupied. I read alot. I have this blog, while it may never have a large audience, has several hundred postings since 2013. And I spend my time reading up on lots of science and tech advances that most people simply don’t have the time or energy to research on their own after dealing with work and family duties.

Sure my work probably won’t make me rich, but I have what I need. I may be just below poverty line (at least by American standards) yet I don’t feel deprived. But I do have simple tastes. A good time for me was going to the bar with my then girlfriend and playing darts and singing karaoke. Or having a plate of chicken wings with a few college buddies while playing board games. Or going to watch a couple friends play baseball for my college. Or going to listen to a couple local bands perform at on campus concerts on Friday nights. I may not have enjoyed going to high school sporting events as much as some people in my hometown, but I certainly enjoyed playing football and competing in speech meets.

I guess the only work or life advice I could give my teenage nephews or any teenagers is simply “Know Thyself.” Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Try a variety of jobs and activities, especially when your still young, have lots of energy, and still living with your parents. If you don’t like being around people or don’t handle rejection well (like myself), you’re not going to do well in sales or as a business owner. Don’t try to be what your family wants or do something just because it pays a lot of money. Do something you have the skills for. Also be ready if you have to change jobs. Science and tech are destroying and creating jobs far faster than they were even twenty years ago. Know Thyself and keep leveling up.

Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

Thoughts on My Upcoming 40th Birthday

I’ll be turning 40 years old in two weeks.  I guess the days drag slowly but the years go fast.  I sometimes lose track of time during the day to day grind.  I’ve been a bit more nostalgic than usual lately.  Been listening more to the music I liked back in college and high school.  While I don’t buy into the whole ‘older music is better than new’, I do like a lot of the things that came out in the late 90s and early 2000s.  But, then again those years were real significant to me.  It was when I was growing into the man I would eventually become.  In those years, I had my first dates, my first kiss, travelled to Mexico for a couple weeks, actually had good physical health, could stay up all night and still do a full day of classes with little more than a couple Pop Tarts and a cup of coffee.

It seems the only true constant in life is change.  I risk sounding like an old man when I say I’m amazed at all the changes I’ve seen just in my lifetime.  I’m old enough I remember the last few years of the Cold War.  Even as a nine year old growing up in rural Nebraska, I knew that the Berlin Wall coming down was significant.  I was in fourth grade when my elementary school got a bunch of Apple II GS computers.  I felt like I joined the future right then and there.  Now those are ancient relics compared to what we have now.  I may sometimes give my elders a hard time for not being comfortable with computers, but my nephews would give me the exact same hard time for being uncomfortable with VR programs and 3D printers.  My thirteen year old nephew set up a VR flying program for my father, a licensed pilot and former Air Force pilot.  I don’t know how to do this.  Maybe I could after watching a few tutorials on youtube, but not until then.

Just in my forty years, I’ve seen computers go from clunky desk tops to fit in your coat pocket supercomputers that happen to make phone calls.  I’ve seen the electric car become reliable.  I’ve seen the internet become as much as a game changer as the printing press and steam engine in previous eras.  Saw 9/11 and the subsequent wars.  Saw China become a world power.  Saw the European Union and Brexit both.  Saw the rise of Populist politics on all sides in many countries.  I’m seeing the Covid 19 pandemic play out in real time.  Saw the rise of robotics and the beginnings of AI.  Saw the Human Genome Project get completed.  Saw the rise of social media and tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.  Saw Apple’s renaissance.  Saw the decline of video rental stores.  I’m witnessing the decline of traditional retail (and many of my previous jobs were in retail).  I’m seeing the beginning of driverless cars (I imagine our grandkids will find that term as quaint as ‘horseless carriage’ was in the early 1900s).  Heck I’m even seeing researchers trying to slow down the aging process.  And these are just the things that are in the headlines everyday.

I don’t know if I have another forty years left in this life, but it has been an exciting ride so far.  I would love to make it to 2060, if for no other reason than to just see what else plays out.  We do live in troubling times, with the pandemic and protests turning violent on an almost daily basis.  I remain hopeful that these are the birth pains of a changed for the better civilization that makes more efforts to not repeat the wrongs of past eras.  Granted, some days it isn’t easy.

April 2 2020

Went to bed right after sunset last night.  Must have slept for over 10 hours.  I had some groceries and medications delivered yesterday.  I have some more groceries coming on Friday morning.  So far I haven’t had a problem getting food.  Cleaning supplies, especially Lysol spray is a different story.

There are now at least a few cases in my town.  Don’t know much else about details.  As far as I know, no one in my complex has gotten ill.  I still haven’t gone out in public since mid March.  I check in on my neighbors every day.  I usually just call them or knock on their door and chat for a minute or two.  I still lift weights.  I can feel the old strength starting to come back.

Been watching an ancient history series on Netflix the last couple days.  Halfway through the series right now.  I think I’m going to watch The Men Who Built America this weekend.  History Channel put out some pretty good series about 8 to 10 years ago.

I have my cleaner coming this afternoon.  Even during a crisis, the place has to stay cleaned up.  I usually just sit in my recliner just to stay out of her way.  She seems to enjoy chatting while she works.

I still talk to my mom and dad every day, usually in the mornings.  My brother and his wife often work from home now.  A friend of mine and her husband are both working from home now in Omaha.

I saw that like six million people in the US alone have filed for unemployment.  Certainly tough times for lots of families.  None of my friends have had to file yet.  A friend of mine in Lincoln has been having coughing and fever for a few days now.  Since she works at a pharmacy she has been taking sick leave.  She was wearing face masks and gloves in public weeks before it became a thing here in the US, especially as she takes public transit to work.

One of my neighbors is planning on planting a vegetable garden once the weather warms up for good.  My mom has already put in a vegetable and flower garden at her house in Oklahoma City.  Most homeowners I personally know are doing this.

Been kind of lazy about reading traditional books this week.  I am reading a lot of online articles even though I try to avoid the news.  Not much I can do besides stay home and wash my hands several times a day.  Been buying groceries more often but in smaller batches.  I don’t buy for two weeks at a time anymore.  I have plenty of non perishables already.  About all I need to buy any more is fresh meat and vegetables.

I saw that the feds approved a stimulus check for most US citizens.  I don’t know if I’ll get a check.  But as I’m debt free and can do alright on my disability pension, I have no clue what I’m doing with it.  Won’t get much letting it sit in a savings account.

April 1 2020 Social Distancing

Got my social security payment this morning.  I ordered a few groceries and supplies.  Mostly meat and cleaning agents.  I should have those delivered this afternoon.  I have to drop off my rent check and do laundry today.  I do my laundry at least once a week.

Still doing well mentally.  I haven’t had a breakdown in over a month now.  I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m holding it together in spite the stressful time we’re in.  I think it helped that I got prepared earlier than most people.  I haven’t even had to leave my apartment complex in over two weeks.  I sleep a lot now.  I usually sleep at least ten hours a day.  I’ve heard sleep helps boost immune defenses and, for me, reduces stress.  I was doing breathing exercises in bed yesterday and was relaxed enough I fell asleep for over three hours.

I actually don’t have much problems with aches and pains except for when I wake up in the mornings.  I make a point of standing up at least once an hour no matter what I’m doing.  I haven’t read much other than online articles this week.  I still watch some youtube videos.  Much of what I watch are videos on the line of what positives will come from this pandemic and what tech will advance faster because of covid 19.  One thing I do see happening is that more companies will allow more work from home options.  Another is that grocery and medication home delivery services will become real popular.  I also see that fewer people will harass others via social media interactions.  I was starting to see this already.  It isn’t as bad now as it was three to five years ago.

I started lifting weights every day.  I just don’t work the same muscles two days in a row.  When I was seriously lifting in high school and college, I usually lifted five to six days a week but worked individual muscles no more than three times a week.

The days are starting to go quicker now.  For the first week of the self quarantine, the days felt like weeks.  It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t leaving my apartment complex, it was that even that option went away.  But, like many things, I adapted within several days.  I do still have some minor maintenance issues in my place that could be taken care of quickly.  But, for now, only vitally necessary maintenance is getting done.  So glad I got my new floor and paint before all this mess hit.

March 18 2020

Been back home for a week now.  Got all the necessary things in the remodel done.  Haven’t left my apartment in two days.  So far I’m doing alright.  Renewed my Netflix subscription and watching some movies and comedy shows I had always wanted to see.  Saw some Monty Python this morning.  Watched some George Carlin skits on St. Patrick’s Day.  I try not to watch the news much.  Sometimes it can get too discouraging.  The best I can do right now is keep my hands washed and avoid large crowds.

I talk to my family at least once a day.  Contact friends on a near daily basis too.  I keep hydrated and take a vitamin C pill every morning.  I started lifting weights again.  I took the previous two weeks off while the remodel was in progress.  I am so glad I got that done when I did.

Overall I’m just preparing to settle in and bunker down for the time being.  Have some money saved up for emergencies.  Hopefully won’t have to go anywhere anytime soon.  Sounds like things are getting crazy out there.  Stay safe and stay calm.

Emergency Preparation and Disability

A few years ago I wrote a couple articles about emergency preparations.  Now that COVID 19 has been officially declared a pandemic, now is a good time to review this.

Some musts people must have include several days worth of emergency food, mainly non perishables that require little to no preparation.  Things like beans, rice, canned foods, jerky, peanut butter (if you are not allergic), honey, several days worth of bottled water in case the water goes out are a good place to start.  The best are things that don’t need to be kept cold and or won’t spoil for a long time.

Other things that will be needed are extra over the counter medications like pain pills, cold medicines, flu medicines, nasal spray, and a first aid kit.  With as overwhelmed as hospitals could become, you may have to rely on yourself, family, and neighbors for anything that isn’t life threatening.

Prescription medications are a problem.  Most places won’t allow you to fill several months worth of medications at once.  It’s simply against the law.  Prescription meds are a tough call.  As for me, I have a set up where I get my meds filled for 90 days at a time.  I also had some samples from doctor’s appointments.  Do not go off your meds, especially anti psych meds.  We’re all already under stress as is.  Going off psych meds during a crisis like we are facing will make things even worse.

Having cash on you may be a good idea, especially if the power goes down or there are bank runs or ATMs run out of cash.  Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when away from home.

Get on good terms with neighbors and family if you aren’t already.  If things get really bad, like survival type situations, you will be glad you have a close by network of neighbors, friends, and family to fall back on.  I am limited mobility now, but I am on good terms with most of my neighbors and my land lady.  It helps that I helped out lots of people when I was still healthy and very mobile.

Also, wash your hands with soap and water.  I can’t stress this enough.  Avoid going out in public if you feel like you have a fever or are getting sick.  Stay home if you have to.  Wearing a face mask is not going to keep you from getting sick.  What it can do is, if you are sick, reduce the spread of germs from you to everyone else.

Finally, we are living in a time and place where history is being made on a daily basis.  Our descendants will be talking about these days years after all of us are gone.  Stay calm and avoid large crowds as much as possible.  Don’t be touching other people unless necessary.  We are living during stressful times.  But most will make it through.

Returning To Stability

It’s been a good day.  Talked to my landlady and I’m going to be having some maintenance work done in my apartment within the next couple days.  I’ll have to be out for a few hours while the work is done.  My neighbors said I could stay with them for the day.  It is work I have been needing done for a few weeks and it is finally being worked on.  One of the reasons I’m glad the holidays are over is that I can now get things accomplished that have been on the back burner for a few weeks.  Holidays are a stressful time for me, partly because almost nothing can get done during the holidays.  This is especially bad in the case of emergencies.

With some of my Christmas money I bought a few cheap games. I also subscribed to Disney +.  Yet most of what I watch is NatGeo.  I did watch Avatar a few days ago.  Hard to believe that movie has been out for over ten years already.

Been sleeping better since I received my new bed.  I also read more too.  I’m currently working on some of the classics I read in my early twenties.  I am keeping myself occupied in spite of the colder weather.  One of the things I like about winter is that I can get a lot of reading done during the long and cold nights.  I’m adapting well to the winter.  Winter and spring have always been my happiest times of year.  Late summers and early fall are usually my toughest times of year.

I’m still lifting weights three times a week.  I definitely feel stronger than I did when I started this routine last March.  I may have not lost weight in 2019 but I didn’t gain any either.  It looks like I have to adjust my eating activities to lose weight.  I want to lose weight, but for health reasons.  I really don’t care about impressing other people that much.  I can do most of my socializing at home anymore.  And my blog I can do from anywhere I can take a laptop and find a wireless internet connection.  I couldn’t have imagined doing what I am doing as a blogger even ten years ago.  Back in the mid 2000s I was still trying to get into writing through literary magazines and traditional publishing.  I probably couldn’t have gotten the audience and platform I have now except via dumb luck before blogging became big.

I still don’t know what this blog can become ultimately.  As it is I try to treat it like a job, even though I don’t make much money at it.  I didn’t know I had much of a talent for writing and story telling until I was in college.  I wouldn’t have figured this out had I never went to college.

Once I get these maintenance issues resolved within the next day or two, I’ll be set for awhile.  Just right in time for the next cold spell to come in.  I enjoy the cold weather.  I love reading with a cup of coffee and reading while under a fleece blanket.  I can hardly wait.