Leave only footprints

Archive for October, 2011

Making a First Relationship

We’ve all been there; it’s your first day at a new school, or in a new class without any of your friends in it, or a new job and the butterflies are going crazy in your tum-tum. You are completely alone, no friends yet, a little confused about what exactly is going to happen. Unless you are an out-going person who loves meeting new people and being everyone’s friend you are in a strange situation. The first thing you try to do is make at least one friend. You try to find someone to talk to and feel a little less awkward. We all have a desire to fit in and not be the outcast. We want to feel at home. Let’s face it, when you have a job you spend more waking hours there than you do at home. And college? That’s worse, because it is your home. If you don’t feel comfortable there, you won’t do well. That first “relationship” is crucial to success in your new setting.

According to American College Testing (ACT), one in every four students leaves college before completing sophomore year. What’s more, nearly half of all freshmen will either drop out before getting their degree or complete their college education elsewhere. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BTR/is_4_22/ai_84599442/)

A major reason for this is that they don’t make a strong connection with someone. This isn’t a physical connection either (but it helps a lot) it’s simply finding a friend who can help you get through the hard times and meet new people. It is so much easier to make friends when you already have one. I met my first friend at my college orientation. At the end of the 2 day event we decided that we wanted to be roommates freshman year. Our reason was because we didn’t want to get stuck with a “weirdo”. Turns out that’s what we both got. The thing here is, that we had started becoming friends and it made staying in college a lot more desirable and obtainable. We ended up staying roommates until he went to a different college to work on his new major in education. We remained friends to this day and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have joined a fraternity that I eventually became the president of. One thing that happened freshman year was that my roommate started to take on some of my traits and behaviors as I did some of his.  Halfway through our first semester our RA (resident assistant) couldn’t tell us a part. One night we were drinking in a friend’s dorm room, which was a no-no, and Corky (my roommate) ended up leaving. About 20 mins after he left the RA came and busted up the party. He asked if I was Corky and I told him that I was Joe. The RA said that he could never tell us apart since we were always together. A lot of people would just say hi to us without knowing who was who. While we were getting written up Corky comes back to grab a hoodie he forgot and the RA said, “So you’re Corky” and he said that he was, thinking that we had ratted him out. If we weren’t so alike he wouldn’t have gotten in trouble with the rest of us. This just goes to show how when you make that first friend you start to become like them.
Our situation was unique as we were both in a new situation, but what happens when you’re the new person and your friend is a seasoned veteran. Typically the new person takes on the friends traits while the person who has been in the job longer doesn’t change much if at all. In my 3 years at my current job I have watched people change from the nervous little mice that come in to the protégées of their “mentors”. It happened with me as well. When I came into my current position, my mentor was a jaded/suspicious/quiet person. In a matter of weeks I too was jaded and suspicious as well. It’s sad when I see people come in and they make the wrong first friend. There are some downright mean people here and when a new person comes in and finds themselves sitting next to a mean person, within a couple weeks, that new person is just as mean. We find one person to help us adjust to the new setting and subconsciously we begin to portray the same personality traits as that person. This can be beneficial and detrimental. If the person you meet is a nice, friendly, helpful person; your role in the new environment will be the same. If the person is a nasty, cunt of a whore, you will start to become one as well. This is all part of our desire to fit in and be accepted.


4 Hour Work Week

Picking the winning lotto numbers, inventing the next “Snuggie”, finding a fried chicken head in your bucket of wings, these are all ways to get out of the rat race without trying. Sadly, leaving the work force to follow your true passion is harder and scarier than that. Even though one of my missed opportunities is, in fact, that I didn’t sue when I found a chicken’s head fried with my wings back in 2004.

There are ways we can transition from working person to life loving person. There is a theory out there by Tim Ferriss called the Four Hour Work Week. And this is the bridge from working all day everyday to following your true passion and being happy doing what you love.

The four hour work week is an amazingly simple design. Basically it says, cut the crap and do your job. If you cut out all the time you spend on facebook/ebay/twitter/myspace?/google+….(do I need to keep going?) and cut back on the chatting with co-workers you can get your days worth of work done in half the time. Americans spend over HALF of their work day not working. Let’s look at it this way. Instead of wasting half of your work day goofing off and not staying focused, get super focused and get your days worth of work done before lunch. That way, you can take that 4 hours of screw-off time and put it towards your personal legend.

I know this isn’t the popular image of the personal legend. When people hear “personal legend” they think of throwing caution to the wind, quitting your job and just going. Yes, that is one way of following your personal legend, but it’s not the way it’s going to work for the modern American. We need our gadgets, we need our social networks and we need our money. Allowing yourself the extra four hours a day to cultivate your interests and doing what you love to do is much better than not doing anything at all to get to your true calling.

The four hour work week is detailed on Tim Ferriss’ website: www.fourhourworkweek.com His book teaches you how to get out of the rat race and live your life. He has the blue-print to how to finance your personal legend. I highly recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in living their life and being happy while doing it.

Do your best to keep your current position wrapped up and separate from your goal. Think about what you want to do with your life and start making changes to get there. Use the extra time you get from the 4 hour work day to do this. Share if you liked this and subscribe to get emails when new posts are put up. There are new ones every Wednesday and Saturday with the occasional shorty mixed in. The next topic is “How to Find Your Personal Legend”.

Long days and pleasant nights,

Shoeless Joe

If you are lucky enough to have a job that is production based this works beautifully, if you are hourly, still do it, that way you can’t get behind.

Negativity Breeding Negativity

One thing I’ve noticed at work is that negativity breeds negativity. If you’re having a bad day, the people around you suddenly have bad days also. On the flip side: if you’re having a great day, the people around you are more likely to be upbeat and happy. Now, I know that this is hard to do, but you need to leave whatever baggage you have at the door when you go to work (all of this applies to school and classes also!). No matter what is happening in your life that day, as soon as you cross the threshold of your job you leave it all behind you. If you don’t leave it at the door you will have a less than ideal day. It will be straight-up crap. The less you are concerned with during a meeting, the more of that meeting you retain.

You can get your entire days work done in half the time if you just stop making personal calls, chit chatting, facebook, twitter, writing blog posts (whoops!*) the list goes on and on. But that’s secondary to the point I’m trying to make here and will be covered in a different post.

You need to stay positive. Last week one of my supervisors was having a not-so-great day. He would grumble responses to your questions; hold his head down as he walked, exasperated gasps every 2 minutes, it was just an overall negative image. The people who sit around me were all joking around earlier that day. I was in a chipper mood and it woke up the office. Everyone was having a great time and getting along until his day when to shit. As it did so did everyone else’s.

In a matter of minutes one person’s negativity caught like wildfire and destroyed the mood of the entire office. I know he didn’t mean for this to happen, but that’s the result of a pissed of supervisor; everyone under him follows suit. It’s a psychological thing. The way I see it is that when your boss is angry you are more afraid to enjoy yourself because you think that they will snap at you, or you start to think about what you did to make them angry at you. It most likely had nothing to do with you, but I know that is what I think every time someone in the office is mad.

It’s easy to have a happy office. It really is. If everyone just forgets their troubles while at work there won’t be any negativity to spread. It just has to start with one person. If you can be extra happy while at work the people around you will feed off of that happiness and hopefully spread it to others until the whole office is happy and no one is having a bad day. OK, I admit, it’s not that easy in practice, but as long as you try and live each day with a smile on your face you will see that more happiness will come your way. Whether it’s at work, school or home, if you keep a smile on your face and try not to let things get you down you will find that your life just got a hella-better.

Long days and pleasant nights,

Shoeless Joe

Leave a comment if something moved you or if there is a topic you would like me to cover.

Click Subscribe to get an email from me when my posts come out. The next one is about the 4-hour work day. What is it and how is it possible?

*I write posts during my breaks at work.

Missed Opportunities Are Not Always Bad

If you could go back in time and change anything about your life, what would you change? For me this is a simple question. I’m sure most of you have an answer already. I would change______ I wouldn’t have dated _____, I would have tried harder at _____, and the list goes on and on. Sure, there are things that could have gone differently in my past, but without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So my answer is: I would change nothing at all.

It’s always fun to daydream about what your life would be like if you made different decisions early on. For me, it was what college I went to. I went to Daemen College (originally for Bio-Chemistry) for Political Science. But that wasn’t my first choice. Originally I wanted to go to college for music composition. And I would have too, if it weren’t for my high school band and choir teachers. They both told me that I wouldn’t do well at a music school. Now, it wasn’t my talent that was the issue, it was actually that I loved it too much. Music just came so naturally to me. During my music theory classes I would spend most of my time doing side work for the teacher; either re-arranging songs, selecting pieces for the jazz band and concert band to perform, or just taking extra time to work on projects.  One project we had to do was write a basso-continuo piece that was at least 12 measures long and we had 40 mins to do it. After the 40 mins, the other 6 people in the class had their 12 measures (about 10-20 seconds of music) and I had a full 4 movement piece. The reason I was told not to go to school for music was because music was my love, not my life. I wouldn’t have handled the pressure of structure in a music college. It would turn from a hobby to a job and music, to me, shouldn’t be work.

I agreed with what they said and backed out of the Music School race and settled on my next top skill, Chemistry. What a job that was, halfway through my first semester I changed from bio-chem to biology, then during my second semester I changed to Political Science and that is what my degree is in. As you can see there was one extremely different path and two less different paths that didn’t work out for me.

One day I sat down and thought about how my life could be different if I actually went to college for a degree in music composition. I thought about where I would be living, how I would be living, who my friends would be…and then I realized something that made all my day dreaming moot: I wouldn’t know anyone that I’m currently friends with. The best part of my life is my fiancé Nicky. If I went to a different school I wouldn’t have met her. I don’t want to think about how my life would be without her in it. We’ve been together 7 years now and she’s my best friend. I also thought about all of my fraternity brothers and all the stories we have together. That would be a huge loss. Right now, this life, this present, I am happy. I can’t say how I would be in a different now, a different life created by different choices, because I didn’t make them.

All of the mistakes you make, all of the hardships you face, all the people you meet make you who you are. Don’t wish you could change something about your past. It’s not worth it. You are stronger from your experiences and the universe will do its best to get you in the right direction. Just listen up and go with it. I really like my friends right now and none of them would be in my life if I didn’t go to Daemen.

The majority of missed opportunities happen for a reason. Yes, the universe wants you to be happy and to succeed, but if you miss an opportunity it’s ok. You learn from your mistakes and gain from your successes. All you did was choose a different path and that path could lead to the trail that leads to your happiness, success and realization of your personal legend.

Long days and pleasant nights,

Shoeless Joe

Recognizing The Signs of Your Personal Legend

Your personal legend. Your true calling. Your ultimate passion.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, it will find you and make itself known. Whether it’s a subtle nudge in the right direction or a giant slap in the face, if you know what to look for you will discover what your are destined to do. It may not be clear at first, but it you take that seed of hope and nurture it; it will blossom into a beautiful flower of happiness and content.

People don’t have one calling their entire lives. You’ll have many different paths to take that will lead to happiness. As you grow and change your tastes differ, what you enjoy differs and who you are differs.  So if you are ignorant to the signs of one path, hopefully you will pick up on the directions for the next one. Life isn’t about one straight line; it’s about taking chances, finding a trail that branches off your current path and taking advantage of the lessons learned while exploring new directions. Whether positive or negative, if it is your personal legend you will benefit. Society tells us that we are set up to fail, we need to follow certain rules, act a certain way and be a certain person. But we are not like that. Humanity needs diversity. Without it we would live in a boring world. We need different to be happy. A bad experience is simply a guide to how to try it next time. It’s like the old adage says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

One of my missed paths was the Alto Saxophone. In high school I was an above average sax player. I could bend my notes a whole step down, play an improvised jazz solo using only three notes (and it sounded amazing) and I could be as technically correct as the next person. I could do all of this without practicing. The only practice I had was during the school day at band practice. I never practiced at home. My senior year, when preparing for Solo-Fest, all I did was read the music. I didn’t play it, only read it. I thought to myself, ‘Well, the beginning is pretty easy, the end is alright…man, this section here is going to be trouble. Yup, that’s a tough part right there…’ but I didn’t practice. I decided to just “wing-it”. And wing-it I did. It was one of the hardest solo pieces performed at this competition and out of 100 I earned a surprising 93. I did better than most people without even playing the piece before that day. No, for those of you who don’t know about solo-fests, you go into a room with a judge and you perform scales, the piece you (hopefully) prepared for, and a sight-reading section. My piece was a 7-8 minute song and there wasn’t enough time to play the whole thing. I started playing, nailed the beginning and when I got to the first hard section the judge told me to stop and start towards the end of the piece. JACKPOT! I nailed it. Did great and had a great day.

That is one missed opportunity I wish I could have back. If I wasn’t a dumbass, I would have realized that this was a sign. I had so much talent and caught so many breaks. The universe was telling me, THIS! THIS IS IT! THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO BE DOING TO BE HAPPY! But I didn’t do it. Since graduating in 2004 I have barely touched the thing. I do pick it up every now and then, but it’s nothing like it used to be.

You need to take advantage of those signs. You need to be active in understanding how the universe works. The universe wants you to be happy, it wants to push you in the right direction. Have you heard of Beginners Luck? That’s the universe saying, “Hey! You’ve found something that you will enjoy! Congratulations, here is a few wins to get you started.” I had a friend who had never thrown a Frisbee before in his life, then he plays Kan Jam for the first time and gets the instant win slot. If that’s not beginners luck, I don’t know what is. My major slap in the face was that solo-fest. I should have taken my saxophone talent more seriously and perused it with fervor.  My life could have been so much different. I could be a famous musician or a movie composer rivaled only John Williams (google him). But I didn’t do it. I ignored the universe and now I’m here, living this life, in this present day and that’s alright with me.

Long days and pleasant nights,

Shoeless Joe

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Working on Leaving the Living

That wonderful day I graduated from Genesee Valley Central School I had this amazing picture of how my life was going to play out. I was going to go to Daemen College, have fun, and earn a degree in “Women and Beer”. After college I was going to be a big shot making that paper (and a lot of it). But, here I am. In that future, and it looks nothing like I expected. The college part was great. I had a ton of fun, met a lot of great people and couldn’t have asked for more. When I was a senior and about to graduate I thought about how much time I “wasted” doing fun things. I thought of all the things I didn’t get to do, then I realized that there wasn’t time to do those things because my time was spent on grand adventures and overall great times. I am not upset with the way I lived my life in college, what I am upset over is the debt I accrued while there. Credit cards are the devil. I wasn’t that far in debt (only around $5,000) but when you miss a few payments here and there, your interest rates go sky-high and then, BOOM, out of no where your 5 grand just turned into 8. Tack on the student loans and you have a horrible situation.

I currently work full-time at a health insurance company and part-time at the College. The money I make pays the bills, not it’s nowhere near what I thought I would be making at this stage of my life. I had to get rid of my car because the insurance and cost of gas were getting to be too much for me. I’ve had to make many more cuts, including not having cable for over a year. The point I’m trying to make here is that I really don’t like how my life is going. If I could take on more responsiblity at my job at the college and work full-time, cut my job at the health insurance company to part-time, I would be a lot happier. I really enjoy what I do at Daemen. The environment there is top-notch, the people are the best you’ll ever find.

The ultimate goal for me is to not work at all. I’m not saying that I want to be a bum, live in my parents house and mooch all my life. I just want to live. Work shouldn’t be work. You should do what you enjoy and enjoy what you do. So, I’m working on leaving the living. I’m working on finding my “personal legend” my “true passion”. That’s where this website comes in. The things I enjoy and the things I’m good at all involve the outdoors. I love being outside, walking through grass barefoot, building shelters out of nothing and staying the night in them. Camping, hiking, music, story-telling; that’s me. Turning that into a job is my personal legend. Owning a campground and running an outdoor gym are a couple of things that come to mind. It takes time and faith to find and follow your true calling. You have to power through and trust in yourself. You need to start making moves towards doing what you love.

Changing up my current situation from full-time claims analyst and part-time Daemen staff to full-time Daemen and part-time claims would be an amazing leap in the right direction. Running this website, talking about the outdoor, being barefoot, camping, survival skills and live is a step in the right direction for me. Making YouTube videos to correspond with the website is a step in the right direction. All I have to do is focus!

Focusing is hard. It takes a lot of energy to focus on something that seems destined to fail. But I’m giving it a chance. I’m throwing off the chains of self-doubt that society has placed on me and going for it. Thank you for being a part of it. The more you comment on my posts, the more suggestions you have and the more faith you all have in me, the more focus I can have, the more drive and determination to succeed I will have.

Thank you all again.

Long days and pleasant nights,

Shoeless Joe

F aith

O verwelming

C auses

U ndoubted

S uccess