Friday Link Roundup

Here are a few links to a few articles that I’ve thought were interesting/relevant reads this week.

  1. Stop Accumulating Stuff
    1. Likely my favorite article that I’ve read the last few weeks. One of my long-term goals is to break away from the traditional “American Dream” of owning stuff, and more towards cherishing experiences. I want to be able to tell good stories of places traveled, and things seen, and people met. I don’t want to tell stories of missed opportunities and fear. A good chunk of this article revolves around Anti-Materialism, and there is even an excerpt from James Wallman’s Stuffocation. This was a good read for me, because I love stuff, but hate stuff at the same time. 
  2. The Friendship Exodus of Your 20s
    1. This was also a really good read for me. It hit home. I am a people person. I love hanging out, catching up, and meeting new people. One of my biggest frustrations with life is that I don’t have time to see all of my friends. This has been a tough pill to swallow, but one that it just a fact of growing up. Such a bummer. 
    2. Sidenote: There’s another article on this website names “An Intervention for Your 20s” that really calls out the fact that it’s not ok to say “30 is the new 20” as an excuse to waste your 20s, with the idea that “Everyone else is as confused and clueless as I am.” I really resonated with this idea that intentional progress is better than giving in to stereotypes. There was a line in the middle that simply stated “Treat yourself with respect. You deserve better.”  Perfection.
  3. The Millennial’s Guide to Stoicism
    1. I had never really given this much thought. It seems to be a concept largely synonymous with cowboys and superheroes. Instead, this focuses on the idea as a means of focus, discipline, and individualism. I can get down with this stuff. 

Also, big shoutout to my friends Phil and Lauren, who just started 517 Coffee (Site, Instagram)! It’s namesake is 2 Corinthians 5:17. Their coffee company operates as a NPO, and benefits oppressed people, whether it be someone stuck in sex trafficking, or someone else. Huge fan, and wish them all the best. They shipped me some coffee to try, and I have to say, it’s quite tasty. 

Lastly, big shoutout to my old pastor, and currently serving head pastor of Lakeview, Kevin Bruursema for his unique lent idea. He has been carrying a cross through his neighborhood for the last month. He admits to being scared to initially do it, and has gotten some ridicule, but has stuck it out, and really influenced a lot of people in his neighborhood, and now Chicagoland as a whole. Very cool stuff!




The Trouble with Discontentment.


I haven’t quite decided where the border is on discontent as it transitions to unhappiness. They seem to be related, and entirely separate at the same time.

The impetus behind this post is the mounting discontent that seems to exist in my professional life, as it relates to its encroachment into my personal life. Work seems to take up more and more of my personal life, dictating my schedule and engagements, and lately, preventing me from doing anything, by having me work a prolonged overnight shift. These things are alright in the short term, but they have ceased to be beneficial to me.

The only real reason that I mention any of this is to put my thoughts on paper. This seems to temporarily satiate my need to complain to people.

This brings up an interesting logical roadblock/paradox though:
A.) Do I tell myself that other people have it worse, and therefor placate myself with logic and empathy?
B.) Do I use the frustration as a catalyst for change?

Are there emotions available to do both, or is this a fork in the road?
Is there a way to simultaneously be content, but frustrated enough to motivate a change?

I will continue to examine these issues, and let you know how it goes.


Labels and Tinkering

By some function of being a left-brain dominated person, I feel the need to associate labels to everything. We, as a society, do similar things. People are often categorized by where they live, their accent, their job, their hobbies, their diet choices, their friend group, their schooling choices, places that they’ve been, hometowns, and music choices. Perhaps this makes it easier for us to keep track of peoples’ likes and dislikes, but I propose that it hinders our development. If we feel like we can only subscribe to the predetermined limitations of a position or calling, there’s no room for experimentation – no room for growth. Just because you went to school to be a businessperson, does not mean that you are incapable of being a painter. Similarly, growing up in South, does not prohibit you from living in Sweden. There’s no reason that a Christian female, who happens to be a musician hailing from California cannot befriend a Buddhist, computer programmer male from New Zealand. This can also be applied to careers and cross-functional “jack-of-all-trade” type people, but for the sake of brevity, I will stop digressing…

My point is this: The journey through life should be one of self experience. Experience will, in turn, lend itself to self-exploration, and with that, self-efficacy. I seem to encounter far too many people (I’m often one of them) who think that they’ve made certain decisions that they are locked into those decisions indefinitely. Unless the first thing that comes to your mind when reading that is a marriage, mortgage, or children, chances are quite good that you can change your mind about whatever it is that you’re thinking about. (Even the aforementioned responsibilities may be skirted, though I don’t recommend doing it.) However, if there’s something that you want to do, then go do it! It will either be a catastrophic failure, a huge success, or somewhere in between. But no matter what, it will be an enriching and learning experience. To quote Henry Ford,

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

There’s an effect called the Pygmalion Effect, named after Pygmalion, of Greek mythology. In a nutshell, it states that the greater the expectations placed on someone, the better that they perform. There is some controversy on how to properly conduct this study, but on the whole, I agree with it. It is similar to the myth that a goldfish will only grow to the size of the bowl that it is placed in. There’s nothing that I know of that says that these expectations need to be placed on a person by other people. Why not an internal motivation? 

My final assertion is this: We all need to put greater expectations on ourselves. If we believe that we can, then we will. John Wooden or Alan Lakein (contention over original source) once said:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

So does the corollary hold true for success? “Succeeding to plan is planning to succeed” has a nice ring to it. I think that I’m going to run with it. I encourage you to do the same. After all, Dr. Seuss once said:Image


– A.

Musings from a Commute

While sitting in traffic almost a month ago, I decided that rather than fight my commute like I’ve been doing, that I am going to use it for good. Or, as good as it can be.


Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time that I’ve tried to do something with my commute. There were a solid few months there where I listened to a Spanish-learning podcast, but I was bad about remembering to charge my iPod, etc. I almost always am on the phone during the commute home, whether with clients or friends. However, since most people don’t want to be on the phone around 5:30 – 6:30 in the morning (my normal commute time), what am I to do?

My phone, and indeed most phones, smart or otherwise, comes with a voice recording app. Though I feel like I’m speaking into my own Captain’s Log, I can actually speak some thoughts into my phone, and then give it a rest, knowing that I will get to it later. I wish that there was a way to do this more frequently. Alas, I have cube neighbors, and they may think it slightly disturbing if I talked to myself all day.


Nevertheless, here are my brief musings, coupled with the typical long-winded introduction.

It is 6:07am on October 2nd. There are two types of commutes that I do. There’s the regular commute, where I leave at 7am, to hopefully get to my work at 8 (typically 8:20, due to some jackwagon’s inability to drive without crashing into something on the way), and there’s the earlier commute, where I leave earlier and go to the gym before work. I get a good workout in, shower, and get dressed there. The major advantage of the earlier commute is quite obviously that I get to squeeze a workout in when there may not be time later in the day, and I get to beat a vast majority of traffic.

Even through the fog that currently encompasses my sleep-addled brain, there are a number of things that I can appreciate about both getting up early, and getting to the gym on a regular basis. Besides the aforementioned obvious benefit of there being less traffic, I also enjoy being up early. Lots of people aren’t up, it gives you a mental advantage to getting things done, and you get to see the city sort of “come alive” as you’re driving down Lake Shore. Depending on the time of year, the sun could be rising, which creates an absolutely beautiful view. The buildings are mostly dark, with lights here and there.

One of the things that stands out a bit currently is the difference in driving habits between the two sets of commuters. The “7am-ers,” we’ll call them, seem to drive begrudgingly to work, sort of soldiering on to work, with no real sense of urgency, save for the few who overslept and are now having to drive recklessly on the highway to make up for lost time. The “5:30am-ers” have a greater sense of urgency, which I think is driven by a sense of purpose. They seem to be more involved in what they’re doing. No one is really texting, and for the most part, most of them are focused on getting where they need to get, so that they can do what they need to do. I can really appreciate this, both from an efficiency standpoint, and from a maturity standpoint. I can appreciate that there’s a lot fewer people on the road.
The interesting thing is that it’s easy to appear dedicated when it’s the middle of the workday. You’ve had a chance to slug some coffee, send some emails, get fired up about something or another, and interact with other people. The people who are awake early are motivated by a greater sense of purpose. Just look at the difference in runners. The runners that you see out in the two circumstances are totally different. People that run during the day will sometimes run as part of a sort of “dog and pony show.” They like to be seen and see others. The people that run during the early mornings have busy days, but still enjoy being in shape. They’re no less friendly than their slightly more sleepy counterparts, but they’re not concerned as much with appearances. They’re concerned with results. Has my pace decreased? Has my distance increased? The people that run during the day are often in great shape. The people who run in the mornings come in all shapes and sizes, which I can really appreciate. They’re running to actually run, and they’re the real winners in my book.

Stay tuned for more commuting musings.


What’s in a name?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.’s Mother

This quote, which is popularly attributed to Mark Twain, was unfortunately not said by him. However, it is a fantastic quote.

After lots of time lost lamenting the fact that I don’t have a collective place to put my jumbled thoughts, I decided that it was time to stop making excuses about not having enough time, and just start writing. Writing for me, as it is with most people, just seems to be good for the soul. There’s something to be said for putting pen to paper; for getting your thoughts out of your head and onto some medium. Sometimes they look better, sometimes worse, but I almost always feel better, more directed, and more focused. I always said that it took my brain from running 100 miles an hour, and slowing it down to the speed that I write (or type, in this case) is good for everyone. I still contend that this is the case.

So about the title of this blog… Connecting the dots has been an idiom for “figuring things out.” You hear it a lot in detective shows, on mystery novels. I say it a fair bit, as far as that goes, being neither a detective, nor a writer. However, it occurred to me that the phrase likely came about as a result of the children’s activity. For those unfamiliar (I imagine here that: 1. people will read this blog eventually, and 2. you have been living under a rock until now), you start with a series of scattered dots on a page, which looks like nothing special. Each dot has a number associated with it. You put your pencil down at dot #1, and draw a straight line to dot #2. From there, you draw a straight line to #3, and so on until you run out of dots. You will then have a sketch of something.

I like the idea of this, because it shows that you can create something from what seems, at first glance, to be a mess of independent dots. To me, those dots represent my thoughts, or ideas about life. I’m sure that they can be connected, but I don’t know yet. I hope that by writing things out, that I can explain some things. I’m worried that this picture might look insane, or similar to something “A Beautiful Mind-esque,” but I’m genuinely excited to see how it goes.

Beautiful Mind Reference

There of course, are several flaws with this idea, such as thinking that ideas aren’t interconnected, and that there are straight-line conclusions to all of them, but I digress… Don’t want to ruin the blog name.. 😉