Constant Juggle

Everyone I know feels like they’re living a cliche.

Chasing their own tails.

Meeting themselves coming and going.

Trying to keep their heads above water.

Taking two steps forward and one back.

Always striving, never achieving.

It sucks!!!!

Am I the only person who doesn’t think our parents…or at least our grandparents…didn’t feel like this? I’m turning 40 very soon (I say for the sake of age reference, but feel free to wish me a happy birthday while you’re at it) and I can guarantee that my grandparents were never lazy; never not working hard. But they were also not in a constant state of frazzle. So why us???

I feel like we are doing everything wrong as a generation and yet we are also leading the charge.

Well, your grandparents didn’t have social media. They didn’t have two parents earners, the dad worked and the mother kept house. They valued their down time. They didn’t have their kids enrolled in everything from soccer to tutoring or piano lessons to gymnast every day of their youth. …etc.

To that I can only say: True.

Yet, I am not going to give up my primary job or my passion projects.

I’m not going to put my phone down (it has my entire life on it and does the job that 10 people would have done in my grandparents generation).

I am not going to disconnect from my friends and loved ones.

I am likely not going to cook a perfect three-course meal for my family every night.

I may not make every school assembly or participate in every PTO event.

I may not take Sundays off from work occasionally because I took Saturdays off to go on a date or spend the day ALONE in an art museum…or three.

I may not always have poise or patience or grace or smiles.

I may not be my grandmother. I may not always be good at juggling. I may drop a ball or two in this life…daily. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

In a world where opinions are our most powerful form of currency, always present, always vying for our attention…

In a world where everything and everyone seems to have a voracious craving for attention, and is never satisfied…

This is the world in which we live, my friends, and I admit that I am as guilty as the next loud mouthed, selfie taking, video making, blog writing, social media posting, sharing, sharing, sharing person out there.

So, what the heck are we to do with all of this?

First, how are we supposed to have any time to create our own individual identities when life seems all about one-upsmanship?

Second, how do we quiet our minds even for sound sleep when we have a constant Twitter-esque feed of thoughts and opinions and post creation going through our heads around the clock?

And next, how do we truly take in all that is thrown at us and assimilate it in a way that we can do something with the good and discard the ill-serving?

How do we live through each day of this without going completely nutty?

Personally, I struggle even with creating content and the ever-present question: To share or not to share? I love to create, and that creation feels somewhat cheapened when self-promotion comes into play. So, do I write, paint, collage, graphic design, digitally sculpt, record, and post merely for the sake of the art of creation, then sit back and cross my fingers that anyone may actually be interested in what I have presented? I am reading a fascinating book (Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday) that likely is the catalyst behind today’s quest, but challenges the artist to create the art for the sake of creating masterpieces. Those masterpieces will stand the test of time if they truly are masterpieces, and if they are not then shouldn’t we either find a medium in which we can each create our own version of the masterpiece, or work harder at our craft until what we create truly does stand the test of time.

IF our creations are great, they will stand on their own and self-promotion becomes a moot point.

As much as I agree with putting effort into making great work, isn’t this why so many classical artists—artists whom now grace every cheesy calendar and coffee mug—were completely broke while still alive? When I was younger and spending every dime I made on art supplies I half-joked with every person I ever gave a painting to that they should be sure and hang onto it until I am dead because then it may be worth something.

Marketing genius Seth Godin comes closest to this create but don’t self-promote mindset of anyone I can think of who is living out this extremely loud and incredibly close digital era. Yet he is succeeding. He writes. He posts. He leaves it alone. But his genius is grasped onto by countless busy sharers who take his words and feed them to others at lightning speeds.

Therefore, if we all produce, produce, produce, but resist the pull to share, share, share, what happens to anything we’re creating in this, the Age of Attention?

This post may prove to be the worst-case-scenario of exactly what I am lifting up here. There’s no full-circle answer here, tied up neatly with a bow and a shareable quip. There are only more questions and the inevitable question at the end as I will again struggle with the if’s and where’s of social networking.

For now, I am going to focus my time and energy on creating. If you find value that makes me happy, however my joy is in the creating. If I allow my satisfaction to be derived from your perception of my work then (1) my own joy is in your hands rather than my own and (2) it is fleeting. I’m not a fan of “feast or famine” happiness and I encourage you to also take stock of the work you create and the WHY behind it. **Another great book: Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Until next time, my friends, I appreciate your time and attention. I know it is in short supply these days so if you’re still reading at this point, I sincerely thank you.

Make it a great day,

Marilyn

More Isn’t Always Better 

We live in a time when more is more and we are getting stuffed to the brim with MORE. I’m in overload, how about you? Forget the 1980’s being touted as “the age of excess,” this is the age of excess right now. Here. Today. 

I’m not all about the pendulum swing in the total opposite direction, either. I don’t want to be gagging on extra extra everything, but I am also not a minimalist, per se. I am a fence walker. 

I want to be socially connected without ignoring the breathing lives in front of me. I want to consume enough information about the world in which we live to be able to add value to conversion. I want to allow my children to grow in their age as I was allowed to in mine without allowing them to live strictly through their devices. 

Here’s the rub. We all say stuff like this, but too often we do nothing to change this habit we have formed. Like complaining about being overweight while eating a banana split. 

More is just more. But sometimes we need to realize that our proverbial pants don’t fit anymore, our relationships are suffering, and hours consuming have merely spent your hours and given nothing real in return. 

PRODUCT REVIEW: Mushroom Coffee!

Um, hello! Could anything sound more disgusting but taste more delish? Answer: NO!

First off, let me say I’ve never been much of a fan of the ‘shroom. The texture, the taste…the smell. However, I know that certain varieties of mushrooms are incredible from a health standpoint, so when I heard about this awesome thing called “Mushroom Coffee” from Tim Ferriss’ podcast, I was just too curious to resist!

Four Sigmatic is made up of some buddies from Finland who have developed easy, tasty ways to enjoy mushrooms, the “super food” that was a super food before super foods were all the hype 🙂  After perusing their website, and trying to decide what to try first, I saw an awesome sampler box that held everything I wanted, one dose at a time!

20160922_104315.jpgSo, although I originally thought I would put together a video about these goodies, I decided there are plenty of awesome videos if you get on YouTube or the Four Sigmatic website and check them out. However, I would like to share my take on each of the “flavors” I got to enjoy…and the one that I didn’t. Here’s my spin on things, in order from my most to least favorites:

  1. Mushroom Coffee w/ Cordyceps: “Stimulation without jitters” Guys, this stuff tastes amazing!!! It smells like coffee, tastes like a zesty instant coffee, and made me feel ohhhh so good! The company promised this good stuff as stimulation without the jitters and that’s exactly what I got! I didn’t feel a jolt or a crash, just a nice, steady, delicious ride through a sea of productivity.
  2. Mushroom Hot Cacao w/ Cordyceps: “Energize & feel good” I don’t know that this would pass as hot chocolate with my kids, but it’s still a truly tasty, chocolaty treat without the choco guilt, milky mucusy gross, or heaviness of the real deal. This hot cacao has a spiciness like a fancy Mexican hot cocoa, and is rich, delicious, and still gave me an awesome pick-me-up on a cool autumn morning!
  3. Cordyceps Elixir: “Energy boost & recovery” So, clearly, I like the cordyceps! I didn’t even know what it was before this sweet sampler box, but I’m officially a FAN! Apparently, this magical mixture helps support adrenal glands and maintain constant energy levels…no wonder I love it so! All I really know is that this elixir tasted as good as the mushroom coffee and hot cacao recipes which include the cordyceps, and it offered a great boost for my day.
  4. Mushroom Coffee w/ Lion’s Mane: “Increase productivity” This coffee, while still delicious, smelled like mushrooms…or feet. I still got all of the feel-good benefits from drinking this cup of hot deliciousness, but enjoyed it much more once I put it in one of my lidded to-go cups so I wouldn’t have to smell it. I know Lion’s Mane is a great addition to my health regimen, and I love the nutty flavor of this ‘shroom coffee…as long as I don’t have to smell it 😉
  5. Mushroom Hot Cacao w/ Reishi: “Melt away stress” There’s just something special about hot drinks; they’re cozy, they’re soothing, they’re something to be savored, they’re meant to take a little time to enjoy. This mushroom cacao is soothing like that. Also nutty with a creaminess that hints at chocolate, this is just a really wonderful, hot cup of yummy.
  6. Chaga Elixir: “Bulletproof immunity” With this elixir, I begin the downward slope of my list, but I do it with this caveat: I drank these on their own, mixed only with hot water. I understand that there are many wonderful ways to enjoy these elixirs, herbs, mushrooms, etc. that may taste more delicious, be more palatable, and even boost the nutritional pow…but I wanted to find out my thoughts on the individual packets before venturing down that path. The chaga was good, and I knew it was good for me, so I enjoyed the warm cup and dreamt of future cuppings which may include some coconut oil, almond milk, or some other variation.
  7. Lion’s Mane Elixir: “Brain power” I even referenced drinking this in one of my “Get Ready with Me” videos! I enjoyed the flavor of this elixir, but similar to the mushroom coffee that included the lion’s mane, it definitely has a distinct odor. Tastes great, made me feel good, but gives my teenage son’s feet a run for their money!
  8. Reishi Elixir: “Relax & sleep deeper” Guys, gotta be honest here. I couldn’t even finish this one. It tasted so bad to me…I don’t know if I got enough into my system to help with sleep or relaxation because I likely only swallowed about three sips. If I ever have an opportunity to try this one again in a different form, or added to some base that would mask the reishi taste, I would like to. I could definitely use the hormonal regulation and lowering cortisol levels that reishi is known for, but straight with hot water isn’t happening again.

There you have it, folks! The quality of all of these handy-dandy packets was so great! Each powdery mixture dissolved like a dream in my hot water, without chunks or anything gross. The packaging is so creative and top-notch, and the natural elements of knowing this is an environmentally friendly operation made me feel extra good purchasing and drinking their goods. When consumed as I did, all of these dual-extracted mushroom mixtures are vegan and paleo-friendly. For every box, Four Sigmatic will use part of the revenue to donate mushroom kits to cancer patients! AND, as an added BONUS, HERE IS A $10 COUPON FROM FOUR SIGMATIC TO USE TOWARD YOUR FIRST/NEXT PURCHASE!

If you have tried this or similar mushroom super food products that you love (or hate, for that matter), I’d love to hear about them! What should I try next? Do YOU love Four Sigmatic??  What helps give you a pick-me-up that also is doing good things for your body? Thanks for sharing!!!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

If You’re Counting Down to Quitting Time…

Do you count down to quitting time every work day? Do you dread Monday mornings with a sick passion? Are you always wishing for a little more vacation time and a little (or a lot) less work time? I’m here to encourage you to create a life you don’t need to take a vacation from.

If you hate your current job then you can’t shine at your job. If you don’t shine, you don’t feel that happiness, pride, and sense of accomplishment that makes you glad to be there, working, and earning. There are plenty of other people who would love your current job, and there are plenty of jobs you would love that would also financially support your life and family.

If you hate where you are, get the heck out of there and find the money-making source that feeds you, where you can feel necessary and critical, and that you don’t need a vacation from!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,
Mari!yn

Where Do You Sit?

I had a PolySci professor who would bellow again and again and again, every single class, “Where you sit is where you stand!” It was a call to action. It was a call to the realization that even NOT taking action is also an action. It was a call to the reality that even a non-decision is a decision unto itself.

He didn’t want us to just go along with the status quo. He wanted us to continue to challenge the “this is the way it’s always been done” of life. And, although he an I were on opposite sides of the political fence, he felt as if he had done his due diligence by making sure I stood somewhere, that I chose to stand for something.

I don’t remember much from that class except that prof allowed me to spend an entire semester studying all there was to know about Arnold Schwarzenegger for my semester project, and this phrase the he would repeat. However, I do remember that line A LOT. I remember it when I am challenged or when I’m unsure. I remember it when I am indecisive or calculating. I remember it when I don’t feel like creating a #DAILYCHEER video for my YouTube channel but then hear that phrase in my mind’s ear and always remember that optimism and energy and motivation and problem solving is what I stand for.

So, where do you sit or stand today? Even in this presidential election year, this isn’t actually meant to be a classically political statement. It’s more of a statement to encourage you to live the life you believe in, one that you are proud of. Allow yourself to be heard, realizing that sitting back and just allowing life to happen to you is making it’s own statement. Don’t allow yourself to be relegated to the back of the bus on issues you find important. Stand up.

Where YOU sit is where YOU stand!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

BOOK REVIEW: 2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas

I’m writing this review in the middle of the night, by the bright glow of my phone screen in the otherwise pitch black room, sipping on an imaginary glass of whiskey to properly set the tone for 2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas, by Marie-Helen Bertino. It just feels like the only way to do this book justice.

Books like this are among my favorites in the fictional writing category; the tale of several characters where the lives and storyline intertwine in the most eloquent of ways. Centered around a young girl and the many people (and animals) that she interacts with, this book is delightfully entertaining for a quick and easy read.

Set in the crisp of the winter season, this brash girl is left to fend for herself after her mother’s death and the resentful disconnect of her father. It takes a village, however, and Madeleine Altimari has a village! The hair dresser, the little old café owner, the concerned teacher, Madeleine is surrounded by people who love her special type of person in their own special way.

This book would be a particularly great read over winter break from school or work, and would be a fun gift for the reader in your circle.

{Mari!yn Rating: 4 out of 5 Rock Stars}

FTC: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Dare to be Great!

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ~Aristotle

Being great at something costs greatly. It costs your time. It costs your effort and your concentration. It costs will power and the humility to fail over and over again until you succeed. It costs your ability to truly care what others’ opinions are about what you are accomplishing.

If you give others’ opinions rule your world, you will never gain anything of your own.

Dream big. Dare big. Own your successes!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Everything That Glitters

We want, we want, we want, but when we get what we want…was it really worth it? The time, the effort, the money? So often in my own history I have falsely desired some thing, some happening, some person, just to win and then as soon as the new wears off I begin to wonder why that was so critical to me in the first place. The older I get (and this is a lesson I wish I would have learned much earlier), the more I see that accumulation is not the answer to my happiness. Depth of character, self-awareness, and loving myself and loving others the way the greatest teachers in the universe have taught throughout time, these are the answers to our desire for more.

Instead of an upgraded phone, more opportunities to connect with those around us in a meaningful way.

Instead of a new boyfriend, more practice at appreciating your own likes and dislikes, more time “finding yourself” in the midst of everyone else’s opinions swirling around.

Instead of a new job, more thankfulness for getting paid for what you do, for the excellent work you put into your current job, and the ways you contribute to the bigger organizational picture.

Everything isn’t better on the other side; everything that glitters is not gold. True story.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Digging Deep

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My son was born a cyclist. He was born the year Texan Lance Armstrong started winning overall accolades at the Tour de France. He was born the year this generation of America realized cycling existed. Morgan is 17 years old, now. He’s a senior in high school. He has only been interested in reading cycling books, and since there are very few cycling books, he re-reads those that exist over and over and over… He has only been interested in endurance sports for the sake of improving his cycling. And, when it’s his turn to pick on Family Movie Nights, it will inevitably be a cycling documentary or movie.

Even with all of this passion and focus, even with the combination of determination and pretty gifted athleticism, this past weekend Morgan gained his first official podium spot! Silver medalist and so happy!

He has won medals and trophies before–mostly in cross country and other distance running races–but he always saw that as cross training for cycling. Watching him take his 2nd place podium spot this weekend, was different. It was the culmination of 12 years of training. Bicycles and broken bones. Trying to find cycling jerseys to fit his little kiddo frame back before there were little kiddos obsessed with cycling and looking official every time he jumped on his bike. Trying to find some obscure cycling-based book or movie for holidays because there aren’t that many to choose from. Trying to afford gas and lodging and food and time for rides and races that are virtually never close to home.

I would love to know how many hours Morgan has racked up on the bike so far in his lifetime. Lots of kids ride their bike, my son does it differently. He doesn’t ride his bike as a means to a destination–he’s not getting on it to ride over to Ben’s house to play football or soccer. He’s on the bike because that’s exactly where he wants to be, for hours most days. I would love to know how many hours Morgan has racked up studying and planning and strategizing.

All this being said, as his #1 passion for his entire life, just now achieving that 2nd place finish may not sound all that impressive. You may be reading and wondering why he didn’t focus all of that energy on running, since he has had much success in running. You may be reading and wondering how he can compete in race after race, year after year, and never give up. The reason is simple: each race was a step in the journey, not the destination. Morgan analyzes his performance and bases his wins and losses on his own history and expectations. For this reason, I’ve seen him as happy with a fifth place finish at the end of a multi-day stage race (where there are multiple races of different kinds over the course of multiple days), as he is when he gets a flat tire at the critical end of a fast race where he’s dominated but ends up not even finishing the race.

Staying solely focused on one thing takes a certain kind of mindset. It takes an ability to see past surface victories and ripples on the water. It takes the determination to dig deep and take everything into account. When you see your life goals as a puzzle, each training ride, each book or clinic, each recovery practice, each meal choice, each purchase, each race is a piece of this puzzle. Every piece has a part to play, each piece is important.

Next year, Morgan goes off to college. One of his puzzle pieces is to gain a place on a university cycling team, and every school he’s interested in has one. As his mother, of course I wish that for him, as well, and think any team would be smart to welcome this kid with such heart, such determination, and such depth to their team. But…I’m his mom. Realistically, I don’t know if his track record is strong enough. However, I’m not worried. College team or no college team, I know Morgan’s cycling dreams won’t be deterred. He’ll continue to race, and he will continue to earn his stripes and move through the cycling point system ranks. He will continue to study cycling from all sides, and he will study it even more in-depth as his goals are to study the body and it’s performance through his university years, from a medically-based standpoint.

Everything is a part of this great puzzle, and to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves requires some depth. Goals are just pipe dreams if we’re not willing to do the work.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn