Custom Update: Metamorphosis

CLB Post Feb. 24th

It is Spring! While I am not excited to see the snow start to melt away, I am excited for some change. I went to the Pacific Science Center with my sister and brother last weekend and we saw the butterflies. They were so many and so beautiful and it reminded me of the beauty in change and the metamorphosis that CLB needs.

Can you believe that this is the 22nd post? I look back at where this began and see a breadth of growth. I am so glad I started this blog. Yet I realize there has been a hard deviation from where it started.  

Striving for a life personalized. That is the mission of this blog. I don’t feel like I have been echoing this in each post. I feel many of my posts lately have been a lot of complaining and less concerned with the process of personalizing my life. Albeit, there is a bit of discontent and volatile emotions in my current daily life, so there is some base. Though, just because this is a lifestyle blog, doesn’t mean my mood should diminish the content. It is a personal blog documenting my journey toward a custom life. My own methods, tips, and the reasoning for my choices, thus it should not be devoid of informational content. It should be filled with content told in the personal context of my experiences.

So next week, – I honestly cannot believe it is almost March – I am going to introduce a series about my journey parsing down possessions. I’ll include my methods, my reasons, tips, tricks, maybe even a challenge or two for you loyal readers. I want to talk about it now, but I’ll hold off until next week. I have to make sure you come back for something!

In other news, my friend and I had our first mastermind meeting! It was great, much more than I had expected. We shared ideas, progress, troubles, and came up with some goals for the week. All my goals were writing related, as that is where most of my productive struggles lie. It was really helpful bouncing my ideas off another individual. The ideas seem better once they are outside of our closed minds and in the open. I have spent some time this week flushing out my ideas for a particular story. I am excited for where it is going to go!

My other goal is to get onto a more consistent schedule with my posts. You may have noticed that the posts used to be at the beginning of the week and now they are coming out closer to the end of the week. It is time for that to change. It won’t happen quickly, but I hope that over the next month I can make the transition back. Or maybe I’ll just make it happen quickly. We’ll see. Changes are coming and The Custom Life, and maybe even my sanity, will better off in turn.


Custom Update: Roller Coaster

No photo this week. Personally, I am just happy that I am getting a post out.

Finding routine in a chaotic schedule is becoming a new priority. I miss college for a whole new reason now. College is a routine, it changes every three months, but on a week to week basis you could expect certain things to be stationary and consistent. You can build a pretty productive existence around a college schedule. Sometimes little things would change, but small changes are easy to adapt.

Working retail, easy adaptation is not the case. I have yet to have the same schedule twice. It is all over the place, every week is virtually completely new, which makes a routine nearly impossible. Add to that that I can only, at the max, see my schedule two weeks in advance, and now I am essentially planning from the seat of your pants. Each week is on the fly. I never thought I would miss routines so much.

Don’t get me wrong, planning on the fly is fun, but it is also incredibly inefficient. More often than not plans follow the path of least resistance. When I already expend an exorbitant amount of energy just trying to be present and energetic about my job the least resist path is often taken. So productivity suffers and important tasks are left unfinished.

Writing consistently is a challenge, coding on a daily basis is a struggle, and making sure I don’t explode from stress is a daily chore. It is exhausting. I want to find a rhyme and hit a stride, instead of continually falling over. I am sick of having to take the time to recollect everything, evaluate, and try again.

This is part of the reason I am excited for some accountability. Accountability will put me inside some loose structure. Just about the closest thing I can do to setting a routine. I never thought I was the kind of person that thrived within routine. Now I know, and I have to work with that knowledge.

Custom Update: Accountability

FEB 9 Update
Well, it seems I have become addicted. Skiing owns almost all of my lingering thoughts. It may be because it is new and exciting, or it may be because it is an escape, or because my ankle can ski, but not climb; in any case, skiing calls to me. I want to be enveloped by the rush, the to wind whipping my face, and the cold nibbling my nose. I want to feel my legs burn and my fears nipping at my heels. I need it like my body needs air.
If you can imagine, this obsession, and diversion of mental energy, is killing my productivity. Well, I guess it isn’t the only thing. My dirty habit of beige watching The Real World isn’t helping. Or the fact that because I am stressed out, about not being productive and getting the things I need to get done, thus I am sleeping more. Which in turn is stressing me out because then I have less time to take care of things. It is a vicious self created cycle that is darkly comical.
Accountability is going to be the key to success. That is why I am excited to start a ‘mastermind’ group with my good friend, Sheridan. We’ll Skype or chat over the phone on a weekly basis discussing our creative, professional and personal goals and keep each other accountable. I know I sometimes need a little extra encouragement and motivation to stay on track, and I am hoping that these meeting will help me. Not to mention, I like helping other reach their goals, so it will be exciting to see how it helps him as well.
I will say that keeping the mini notebook in my pocket has helped immensely in keeping me accountable in writing. I jot down thoughts, short story ideas, pieces of imagery and dialogue, so I am at least capturing some prose. I am just lacking the follow through at this moment to expand the small notes. The step between notebook and computer seems so long, yet, in reality, is simple opening my computer. The thing literally takes seconds to boot. I’ve timed it; I am a nerd. And still, I don’t open the computer and the little writing tool to transfer the ideas (we’re talking a few sentences MAX) from my notebook into the computer. Without the expansion, those little bits of prose are just going to sit there. It looks like this will be the next step in my writing journey.
In other news, my budget is also freaking my out. To be fair, this always happens regardless of preparation if I have all of a sudden spent more money. Was some of it superfluous? Probably, but most of it was spent with purpose. It is remembering that purpose that will make the difference.
Alright, I am out of gas on this one. PEACE.

Custom Update: Good Days

Photo by the author

Yesterday was a good day. Often times we declare the day will be good, but other times we just know the day is going to be good. That was yesterday for me. Why? Because I went out outside! I went skiing in Stevens Pass.

I had yet to go skiing in Washington, so I was a bit nervous, but over all I was just psyched to hit the snow. If you read my last post, I have really gotten a lot of value out of skiing. A part from the intrinsic value, it also gets me outside, and I am so excited for that. You may have noticed that getting outside is one of the things I am focusing on doing more often. It is so rejuvenating. It resets my mentality and keeps me energized to keep my head down and keep working hard.

It was fantastic being out on skis again. Even though it was only a few weeks ago that I was in Driggs, I was itching to be back on some skis.

One of the things I’m working hard at is my programming skills. I am currently working on my web design skills (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript specifically) and it is going quite well! For the most part, it is all reviewing and re-learning things I’ve known in the past, with some small new items. I look forward to applying those skills to customizing the blog in the next few months.

For a completely unrelated tangent, I have a rant I need to get off my chest. This is such a first world problem that it is ridiculous, but it’s the principle of the matter. So my job used my small amount of PTO for my past vacation. I did not want to use my PTO. Now, I would understand if I had to use my PTO, but I was given the choice whether I would use it or not. I did not want to use my PTO. It is not that I don’t mind the larger paycheck, but it is the fact that I had planned to use that PTO at another time. I did not want to use my PTO. They did it anyway. I do not like that. That is my earned time and should not be used without my permission. I said no, I want to save it, and I was told that is fine. Then they used it anyway. Was it a lot of time? No, but it was enough time, and it took time to save up. I’ll survive, but it is another chink in my chain with my job. The chinks are adding up quickly.

On the plus side, it boosted my budget for the month! For years, I have taken vacations without pay, so I am pretty used to getting nothing and I know how to budget for vacations. Also known as working your ass off for months and saving up. The other trick to budgeting for vacation is being willing to spend money, but know your cap. Limit yourself on somethings and just go all out on others. For instance, I made lunch everyday, brought snacks, and had oatmeal with granola for breakfast because it saved money. However, dinner was another story. We ate like kings for dinner. Homemade soups, salmon, steak, homemade pizzas, fantastic meals out. I would not let price stop me if I wanted something in particular. Vacation is a treat, so treat yourself, but obviously it has to be within your means and in moderation. So I was prepared to dole out a nice chunk of money on vacation, and I did, relatively speaking, but it was nice for once to get some money deposited into my bank too.

I will say, if you are preparing for an active vacation like skiing, climbing, or hiking, look into the Mountain Athlete training programs. I talked about doing their Alpine Rock Climbing program in the fall, and I finished it just before Christmas. They work great. I went from sea level to 9,000 feet with out an issue. I was giving guys that live at 5,000 feet and higher a run for their money on approaches (you know who you are and I love you guys).  However, be prepared to work really hard for that edge. It was 10 hours plus a week of training. Your legs, and butt, are pretty much shot for the first three weeks, so don’t plan any hard hikes. However, the benefits are great. I have never felt so fit in my life. I was climbing hard, fast, and moving with more ease than ever before. Hard work pays off, and Mountain Athlete will make you work hard.

Alright, that’s enough jabbering for one post. Keep an eye out for a sweet recipe this week. It is a classy upgrade to an all time favorite.


Lessons From Learning to Ski


As you may have read in my recent Custom Update, I have learned to ski. While I am still a beginner, I feel I am fully able to handle most situations in-bounds (meaning inside a ski resort area). That’s because I spent a substantial amount of time skiing. I mean I really pushed myself to get better. And after 8, almost, full days of skiing, I have come away with some new, and rediscovered, knowledge that I believe can be applied to many parts of life.

Do not let the Details Bog You Down

Let’s face it, the first few hours are awkward. You have long objects attached to stiff boots that don’t allow you to move per usual. Your basic instincts do not help you move, and there is a lot of technique to just moving, let alone gracefully. The little ways you shift your weight, the slight angle of the ski, how you lean, the position of your hands, where you look, so many moving parts and details to keep in mind just to move with control. Starting out, I focused on the details, trying to will my legs, feet, and skis to perform properly, but it often did not work. After several bouts of frustration, and some patient couching, I altered my focus. Instead of focusing on me, I focused on where to go; and my body followed. Refining the details are important, but in the beginning it is more natural to focus on the big picture and focus on the target. The body will adapt and know what to do, you just have to let it happen. Every time something was going wrong, I noticed I was to focused on the details. On the other hand, when I focused ahead, down hill at the whole picture, I skied well.

Expect Another Run, Not Perfection

It is amazing how often frustration comes at the smallest imperfection while we are learning. I often see it in new climbers, as that is what I have most of my experience in, but I cannot believe how frustrated I got learning to ski. I forgot that it is OK to be a beginner. I feel too often we hold ourselves to the expectation that we are supposed to just get something the first time (especially those of us that are ‘outdoorsy’). Worst of all we expect ourselves to be be good at it. That doesn’t happen. When it does, and that is rare, there is a word for it: prodigies. The word brings with it the expectation of master level proficiency and skill without trying. For most of us, there is a learning curve. So I failed often, I fell often, but there was always another run. I had the option to go and learn again, and too often we as beginners forget that. Accepting that failure in the short term is OK. There is another run, another turn, and another chance to improve and get better.

Let Go of Fear

I will be the first to tell you that I was freaking out on a green. I’ll be honest, my body was clenched so tight going down a green traverse that my farts were coming out like bugle calls (Yes, I did just blog about farting. I’m human and I was stressed; sue me). Trumpeters don’t purse their lips that tight when reaching for high notes. I mean was I tense. And all that fear was for nothing, because two runs later I was peeling off that green onto a much steeper blue. Fear only limits us from our potential. Whether that be taking your dream vacation, speaking with the cute girl, or guy, or opening that business you always talk about. Our fears stop us when often we have little to lose in trying and more to lose in not. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes our fear makes sense. For instance, looking at a double black cliff face and your friend saying “That’s a no fall zone.” When you can count on one hand the number of runs you’ve completed in the past four days without falling, that is reasonable fear. But the reality in learning is you are going to fall, whether literally or metaphorically. Falling doesn’t always hurt, sometimes it’s like falling onto a bed of pillows. Sometimes falling hurts like hell, but by god the feeling of bombing a hill is so good that even though a fall at the end can leave a baseball size lump on your hip, the exhilaration is totally worth the pain. So my advice is swallow your fear and bomb the hill more often. you may surprise yourself with what you can really achieve.

Challenges are Exciting

There are probably many reasons why wing-suit base jumpers like to do ‘fly-by’s. Conceptually, I think of it as this: the challenge enhances the excitement gained through the perception of speed. Speed is perceived by the objects that surround us. So buzzing by the side of a cliff face or over the tops of trees allows one to feel the speed more than gliding in the clear open sky. Challenges on their own are stressful, not always in the sense that it is a bad thing, but in the sense that our bodies have a biological response. Adrenaline for instance. Our fight or flight instinct. When someone makes you jump and every nerve in your body pulses at the same time. How does this apply to skiing? The trees. Those tall, girthy, pines that will not bend when you hit them and will eat you if you get caught too close to them. Or aspen groves that are so close you feel as though you are being birthed again and that their claws will reach down and ripe you off your skis. They are terrifying obstacles to a beginner (or at least to me). My friend always wanted the tree and I did not get it. But then I tried it and I understood. The feeling of weaving through those trees successfully and blowing out the other side is a triumphant felling that is hard to deny. The obstacles make skiing even more exciting. If we didn’t have obstacles in life, it would be easy, but groomers are easy and we all know they can get boring. Embrace the trees that enter your path, they may be scary and stressful, but remember that you can also perceive them with excitement.

“If you’re not falling, you’re not trying”

This is a concept I have held onto for a while, but I really like how skiing showed me the broad application of the idea. It just applies to so many things. You have you push yourself to improve. Period. Simple as that. If your not falling off the rock, crashing your skateboard, having to work to create a program, or double ejecting every now and then when you try the back-flip, you are not trying. On that last point, shout out to Chase Krumholz, one of my best friends and the source of the photo at the top. Check out more of his badass photography. Some times you have to fail before you succeed. This is a really hard concept for me to swallow.

Be with Those That Build You

I would not be writing about skiing today if it was not for my friends who taught me, encouraged me, and pushed me to try and try again. I learned from people far better than me and it forced me to get better. I wasn’t the one who ever thought I would go down a blue my first day, but my friends believed I could. And I did, it wasn’t pretty, but I did it (and bombed the last hill with Ski Patrol watching and crashed epicly). I skied with this kind of encouragement everyday and got pushed everyday to get better and better. So now I can ski blues and blacks with confidence, because I had the best people to ski with when I started. Shout out to the Bomb Squad; blow it up!

Untitled design
Photo by Chase Krumholz

Custom Update: Finding Rhythm in Reality

Well, I’m already slipping. Fourth week of January and I have already missed a week of blogging. While I cannot go back, I can move forward.

Yet moving forward right now is difficult. I am in the ‘vacation coma’. This haze of reality where all I want to be doing is skiing with my friends in the mountains. Because I know how to ski and I feel I can ski decently well, that being blues, and some blacks, with confidence. First item off The Dream List! Sadly, the vacation is over and reality has set in.

I am not ready to be back at work though. I walked in the first day and felt like I was hit by a hammer. Just crushed. I felt out of place. Lost. Like I had taken the wrong turn coming home and should have gone the other direction back to my friends. I miss my friends a lot – here is your shout-out, Brenden, and the rest of the Bomb Squad; thanks for reading and your friendship – and it is pulling me down.

I have experienced few vacations as incredible as this past one. It was amazing. Just unbelievable how peaceful, relaxing, and comfortable I could be. We’re talking 12 days in the mountains, 8 days of skiing, 2 days of hiking, and 2 rest days. We found pristine ice to climb (sadly, we were unable to climb it because a friend fell through a frozen creek, water up to his thighs, and we had to get him to warmth), and much more. I don’t know if you have fallen asleep next to a fireplace watching huge snowflakes fall outside, but it is magical. Honestly, I could go on, and I probably will at some point (actually, later this week in a post about skiing I will), but right now, I need to focus.

I am not on vacation anymore. It’s the hard reality, and I wish it wasn’t true, but I have to accept it and move forward. Productivity is the priority now. I really need to start writing. Start moving forward, because frankly, if I don’t move forward and maintain my current emotional momentum, it’s going to get hairy (and it did for a time period). I can feel the darkness lapping at my ankles, staring me down, and I don’t want it to come for me.

So here I am on my day off, nursing an injured ankle, pounding away at getting ahead. It is time do work. A big part of that is finding my rhythm in writing again. Writing is one of my daily goals, and I have yet to meet that goal once this year. And that is sad. I call myself a writer, but I barely write. It is a contradiction and I don’t want to be that.

One thing I started doing is carrying around a mini notebook in my pocket and everyday I pick a prompt to write on. A story only told in dialogue, a character description, creating tension, suspense, anything I can come up with and I try to write a little bit in the notebook on that prompt. Or I can use it to capture my random ideas. Sometimes ideas blind side me and I tell myself, “I’ll remember that and write about it later”. It never happens. I am hoping this tactic with the mini notebook will solve some of my writing problems. I’ll update you guys next week on how it is working.

On a different note, one thing I get constant questions about, and with good reason, is what happened to my Van Life plan(spoken about in a past Custom Update). And to answer the question, it is still in the books, it is just taking time. I have been fortunate enough to have my sister and brother-in-law be SUPER supportive of the idea, along with inviting me to stay with them in the interim. It has been a great experience so far and they have allowed me to stay a bit longer than originally planned. Thus, I have been able to build my nest egg a bit more and search for a nicer van option. Finding a van that I want to call home is a big deal. In the end, the time spent searching will be worth it.

It is all about finding rhythm again. Little bits of effort everyday will get me there, it just takes persistence. It is coming together, it is just taking time.

Custom Update: Vacation and The Dream List

Alright, so the post didn’t come out on Thursday. But I swear I have a good reason. Wednesday evening I drove 13 hours to Driggs, Idaho. I am finally on vacation. It is the beginning of 13 days of blissful skiing, ice climbing, and quality time with some of my closest friends. In any case, I arrived promptly at 9:30am Thursday morning and and by 11am I was on the slopes learning how to ski for the first time. We got back to the house around 5pm and then we were shopping for food, making dinner, planning other trips and doing research, etc.

Thus, my post was not completed. . . for several days because sometimes hanging out with your friends is more important.

And let’s face it, I am on vacation. Beautiful, peaceful vacation! I am so happy to be away, recharging my batteries, and reconnecting with good friends. My productivity is taking a hit, but my soul is getting exactly what it needed.

Nevertheless, I am here this morning (along with continual bursts of effort every other morning), bruised, battered, full of joy, and ready to present the first iteration of The Dream List.

What is The Dream List? Think of it is my version of a bucket list, to do list, and The Impossible List from College Info Geek (based off the original Impossible List by Joel Runyon). This will be the central location all levels goals and kinds of aspirations will live. With them all in one place I will be able to track the ones I have accomplished and those I have yet to accomplish. I like the visualization of goals and dreams. There is something about seeing progress by crossing items off a list. Not to mention, publicizing these kind of goals is great accountability, at least for me.

So that is that. I am on vacation, loving the time with my friends, and learning a new sport. Sometimes the only update needed is that life is going well.