I Won’t Complain!

7db895312950fe2cff968b845e69a8d6_400x400Of the following things, what is the hardest thing?

  1. Stop complaining about anything, ever.
  2. Write 300 or more words on a topic.
  3. Pick up the phone and call a stranger and ask for their time/money?

Each of my readers will have a different answer. Each of the items on the above list is difficult. The difference? The fear and anxiety are different with each.

I used to call myself a “writer” and then I stopped writing. Yesterday, a co-worker caught me Blogging and said, “I used to write a Blog and had about 3,000 monthly views.” She made me feel “less than.”  I thought, “I never had 3,000 monthly views,” but then again, I don’t have to say, “I used to write,” or, “I used to have a Blog.”

I still write. I have about a dozen people who read my Blog entries. Why don’t I have more? Every day I see some Facebook link or article that promises I can make, “$1,000 monthly writing a Blog.”

Fear?  Self doubt? Or perhaps I haven’t found that million dollar idea that makes my soul burn to keep writing. When I do, I’ll write until my fingers fall off and the world will want to read what I write.

I love this quote pointed out by super writer and coach, Rochelle Melander:

In his book, The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch wrote this about complaining:
If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.
Over the years (maybe currently), I’ve had co-workers that, I believe, make themselves feel better only by complaining.
Fear of failure won’t get you anywhere. Fear of rejection won’t either. Complaining about what you haven’t done and blaming someone for your current state won’t fix things.
Tomorrow, in my journal, I’m going to list everything I could be complaining about, and then I’ll flip it a challenge or a goal.
Complaint: I can’t lose weight because my workload is crushing me, I have no time to workout, and society is built around white flour and fattening foods.
Complaint: Why is everything so expensive? Ugh. Seems like every time I save a little money, it suddenly isn’t enough to buy the stuff I want.
Goal: Create an exercise and weight loss plan, write it down, schedule it, and lose weight.
Goal: Save $$$ every month, ask a finance expert what to do with even a modest amount of extra income, and leave a portion available to buy that thing. Oh, and start selling the hundreds of things I don’t use, wear, or want that sits around my house collecting dust.
So maybe complaining is good …for creating change and an action plan.

Obsessed with Sia

Is Sia pop music? Is she over dramatic? Or is she edgy and artsy? Can I let myself get past the very, very weird videos?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I know I’m a little over two years late to the Sia party, but how amazing is this song? Haunting, I tellz ya.

And another one bites the dust
But why can I not conquer love?
And I might’ve got to be with one
Why not fight this war without weapons?
And I want it and I wanted it bad
But there were so many red flags
Now another one bites the dust
And let’s be clear, I trust no one
You did not break me
I’m still fighting for peace
Well I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart
But your blade it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard
But I may snap when I move close
But you won’t see me move no more
Cause I’ve got an elastic heart
I’ve got an elastic heart
Yeah, I’ve got an elastic heart
And I will stay up through the night
Let’s be clear, I won’t close my eyes
And I know that I can survive
I walked through fire to save my life
And I want it, I want my life so bad
And I’m doing everything I can
Then another one bites the dust
It’s hard to lose a chosen one
You did not break me (You did not break me, no, no)
I’m still fighting for peace
Well I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart
But your blade it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard
But I may snap when I move close
But you won’t see me move no more
Cause I’ve got an elastic heart
Well I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart
But your blade it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard
But I may snap when I move close
But you won’t see me move no more
Cause I’ve got an elastic heart
Well I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart
But your blade it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard
But I may snap when I move close
But you won’t see me move no more
Cause I’ve got an elastic heart.

Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch

I’m not perfect at following through on things, but something I really stick to is changing all the bed sheets once-a-week, no matter what. I’ve read enough articles on Mind Body Green and linked in Tweets to know a dirty bed is a horror that will lead to bed bugs, asthma, poor quality sleep, and skin issues. Call me “OCD” or a hypochondriac, but I took on this phobia about 7 years ago and have never looked back.

It is my belief that my kids have fewer colds because I do this. I also think there’s nothing much better than crawling into a clean bed. It’s like a hotel.

Every Sunday the sheets. And once a month the mattress pad and blanket.

Now, for the comedy. My girls share a room. My girls are slobs. They might argue they appear to be slobs because they are two people living in one room, but truly, their room is consistently messy because they are slobs.

I built an elaborate and huge closet system with more than enough room for all their clothes, shoes, and clothes. But the clothes mostly go on the floor. I applaud them protecting the nice hardwoods, but trust me – they have a place for worn clothes.

They also have two desks, each with waste can underneath but guess what – trash rarely gets into the trash can. It’s a crazy phenomenon and every week, when I strip, wash, and make the beds, I “organize” the madness.

I call it Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch. And a new Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch are created each week. You gotta believe me, on Sunday evenings, the beds are made and Clothes Mountain and Little Gulch are torn down and thrown away. A fresh start. Fresh, clean sheets. A clean room. Usually, the laundry is mostly clean, folded, and put away.

Then, in the course of a week, an unnatural disaster happens. And funniest (to me) is that as I strip the beds, it’s not just blankets and pillows, but somehow, random articles of clothes and tags and trash and gum wrappers, pen caps, hair ties, socks (usually only one of a pair), tissues, ear buds, and so much more are enveloped into the sheets and blankets.

I’m a great Dad (just ask me), but I’m in charge of a nice, clean bed because I’ve made that my mission, but I will not pick up and sort all their clothes and trash items.

So I make Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch in the middle of their room and now I’m Blogging about it as to embarrass them somewhere later in life (or right now).

I worry I’m raising future pack rats who will collect newspapers and fast food bags for decades. Or maybe, I simply have teenagers who share a room and don’t have enough space.

Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch tours start at 10:00 a.m. and leave every half hour beginning Sunday at Noon. $5 donations accepted and you get a free “I Survived Litter Gulch” window decal for a keepsake.  See you Sunday.

I Love Don Week, Recap

At work, we set goals, we launch initiatives, we have budgets and we work to make them happen. After a time, we review and assess performance. I Love Don Week should be treated the same. Let’s look at the good and the bad and next year, make it even better.

My Dollar Shave Club razors and shave butter arrived today. Hooray. Can’t wait to shave in the morning.

I received the following items, too:

  • brandybigBlack iPhone charging cord
  • A new desk
  • Barsmith Old Fashioned mix
  • Tickets (from my sister in law) to Cedar Point for her whole family and mine and it turned out to be the best day ever at Cedar Point – no lines. Seriously. No. Lines.
  • Patriotic Detroit Tigers T-shirt
  • Loud dress socks
  • (2) outdoor chairs and outdoor lights
  • Hosted a small gathering at my house (I like having people over, what can I say?)
  • Lusty Claw Bourbon (from my co-workers)
  • Dinner of my choice on my birthday

I gotta say, with the trip to Cedar Point, the amazing Saturday evening hosting friends, and then the strolling, progressive series of birthday meetings that started my day at work on Tuesday, bookended with a quick happy hour with more co-workers, only to arrive home to homemade Chick-Fil-A (my daughter found the secret sauce recipe online and, shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone) …hard to imagine a week could be much better and end much better.

The only thing I might say could be better is more random gifts from random people, which is really on me. I should’ve posted a more comprehensive list. So that’s something I’ll do next year. Also, because I pretty much stole the entire concept from my brother-in-law (a week devoted to himself prior to his birthday), I might as well steal his idea of having I Love Don Week t-shirts.

So, next year, let’s keep doing what we’re doing, people. Gifts. Over-the-top recognition and praise. And …next year, we’re making and selling t-shirts.

If you have other ideas on how to improve I Love Don Week, please leave a comment. No idea is a bad idea. Green light thinking.

Thank you, everyone, for playing along with my birthday madness.

 

 

I Love Don Week, Part 2

Day 5 (or was yesterday Day 4?) was a fantastic success. It took nearly 3 1/2 hours, but the desk is complete and it’s glorious.

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I can just picture myself sitting there writing my collections of short stories into a book about growing up in the Midwest – stories that everyone can relate to and someone will option for a movie. All because of the desk. When I accept my Oscar, or whatever award they give authors before that, I will thank my agent, my family, and my Ikea desk.

1488809996_whiskey-bottle2

Also, a gift I didn’t even know I wanted – Barsmith’s Old Fashioned mix. I typically drink Manhattans (as the four or five readers of this Blog already know), but I like the idea of an Old Fashioned. Enter Barsmith’s Old Fashioned mix.

 

old_fashioned-124x460-14350329621

Maybe longtime drinkers of Old Fashions will scoff at this, but last night, while having friends over, I found my new favorite drink, and it goes like this…

 

  • 1 oz. Barsmith Old Fashioned mix
  • 2 oz. TC Whisky’s American Cherry Edition Bourbon (this is my favorite bourbon …period …the cherry flavor is only a hint, but just enough).
  • Splash of bitters
  • Orange wedge
  • Lots of ice

It would not surprise me a bit if next year about this time I’m Blogging about a drinking problem. OK. That’s a bad joke. It won’t be a “problem”.

If you’re keeping score, I’ve gotten a black iPhone chord, Tigers t-shirt, loud socks, two deck chairs, a new desk, Barsmith Old Fashioned mix, and entry into Dollar Shave Club.

I hope you’re having an equally amazing I Love Don Week.

I Love Don Week 2017, Part 1

Just because I haven’t Blogged anything about I Love Don Week, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening and isn’t amazing. I guess you could say I’ve taken I Love Don Week underground and now it’s a sorta cult type thing. People are toooootally into it and give me gifts and praise me, just like normal, but it’s, like, veeeery exclusive.

Side note. Did you see how I wrote “tooooootally” and “veeeeeery”? When you write something you’re going to say slowly, make sure you’re multiplying the correct letter. There’s a woman at work who would write those as “totallyyyyyyyyyyy” and “verrrrrrrrrry” but if you said those out loud, it wouldn’t be the effect you were hoping for.

OK. Back to me and I Love Don Week. For those new to this worldwide phenomenon, I Love Don Week is the 6 days prior to my birthday (July 11th). I looooooove my birthday, but one day didn’t seem like enough, and when I heard my brother-in-law had invented a week for himself, and when I started Blogging and embraced social media and saw how our narcissistic society was evolving, it seemed to me just posting on Facebook wasn’t enough. I needed lists, and daily updates, and demands for praise.

Here we are, already on the fifth day of I Love Don Week, which amazingly kicks off on July 4th and everyone shoots off fireworks to mark the start of the week, and this is my first Blog entry on me and my week.

It’s been quite fantastic, so far. First, I got a black iPhone-to-USB connector chord to replace my ugly, awful white chord. I get it, Apple. Your thing is white. But my thing is black and pretty much every day I hopped in my car and had to plug a white chord into my iPhone and that white chord just sat there looking awful in my black car with black leather interior – it’s been hell. Now I have a black chord, and it looks much better.

Then, my daughter picked out some loud socks, which is still trendy, and an Independence Day themed Old English “D” t-shirt that I can wear once a year (or maybe I can wear it on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day). A t-shirt and socks, you ask? Isn’t that kinda cheap and insignificant? Hey! My 10-year-old picked it out, and I’m not going to yell at her for lack of effort and value.

On Day-2, as a gift to myself, I joined Dollar Shave Club and almost 90% of the reason I picked Dollar Shave Club was because of the video the founder has on the home page (embedded below).

Day-3, my wife bought two fantastic outdoor chairs for my deck that match the existing outdoor couch and table almost exactly. We toasted me with a whisky-gingerale as we sat in said chairs.

And then, on Day-4, my wife bought me a new desk. I had a “writing desk” but it was black and didn’t fit the new color scheme of our family room. Yes. I love black but I had to give-in on this one, because the kitchen into the great room is all brown tones, and the black didn’t work. Hence, a white desk. And the desk is better because it’s built to hide my PC tower, has drawers and cabinets (my “writer’s desk” didn’t) and my son and I can’t wait to build it and hide all the wires and make it ‘simple.’ That’s a big thing with some desk/computer people. My son and I actually follow a few ultimate-desk set-up fans on Instagram (examples here).

Day-5 will be building that desk and having people over for drinks and bonfire.

Want to get involved? Comment below. Send me an Amazon gift card. Buy me a new pair of Bedphones, or send me coffee. If you need ideas, Tweet me at @donkowalewski.

Let’s Talk About My Underwear

Do you ever think we live in a world where we dwell on the importance of things that aren’t really important? I’m about to Blog about two competing underwear brands, and I’ve Blogged about pillows and headphones, and I get obsessed with these things.  I can’t help but think of my father, father-in-law, their fathers, and their fathers before them. Somehow the “greatest generation” and generations previous to them without fancy generational names managed to raise families, hold jobs, and build the world and they didn’t have space-age memory foam mattresses to sleep on, their pillows had feathers and they slept on them for decades at a time, and their underwear was white and tight. That’s all there was. If you came across a time machine and zapped yourself back to 1972, I’m pretty sure you would only find white underwear.

Why underwear? Mainly to protect our good clothes from the worst part of our body. That’s all underwear is and was ever invented for. It’s a liner that goes under our clothes that protects our “outer” garments.

tommyjohn

Then models in the 80s looked hunky in underwear, someone thought boxers was a good idea, Victoria shared her secret with the world, and now we’re obsessed.

Well, I’m obsessed, anyway.

This Blog is going to compare my Costco-bought cotton Hanes, my Tommy John‘s that someone bought for me, and Frigo Revolutionwear Coolmax Stretch Collection. I got for free as a promotional giveaway.

*** If my father-in-law knew I just wrote that last sentence, he might ask for his daughter’s hand back and force our divorce ***

Hanes Boxer Briefs from Costco – I think even Clint Eastwood’s cowboy characters weren’t savage enough to deny the boxer-brief is far superior to a classic flowing boxer or tight mini briefs. We all use electricity and we don’t kill our own food, so some level of evolution is acceptable. They’re cotton. They’re soft. The boxer-brief design means they go down the leg a little bit. You can get 12 in a pack so laundry only gets to be desperate every two weeks(ish). But if you happen to be doing something that makes you sweat, you’re going to feel like you’re wearing a crotch sweater. Going to back to my thought on why underwear exists in the first place (to protect your outer wear), the Hanes boxer brief serves its purpose and doesn’t cost very much.  If you’re playing a vigorous sport (which nobody really does after age 25), wear a supporter. For less than $30, you’ll have underwear covered for years (I think my current collection of Hanes might be 8 years old or more). Hanes Boxer Briefs from Costco, Walmart, or Target are ‘good enough’ and your life will be just fine. And I think even my 77-year-old father-in-law and my 90-year-old neighbor would wear them.

boxersFrigo Revolutionwear – If I didn’t already own a pair of Tommy John underwear, I would be declaring this the best pair of underwear I’ve ever worn (even if I think their nut-sack flap …my word …doesn’t do anything). Frigo underwear is why old dudes look at us young dudes (I’m not quite 44 years old so I’m still going to categorize myself as “young” so shut up) and laugh and call us soft. This underwear is so high-tech, the website has a “how to wear” tutorial, boasts the personal-fit technology, and guarantees you’ll love them or they will refund your money. Underwear. We’re talking about underwear. Just watch this video!!! Wow!!!

All laughter aside, and if you can refrain from thinking of my hairy Dad-bod stuffed in those, these Frigos are a very comfortable pair of underwear. This next part is difficult to write, but I’m ashamed to admit the Frigo Zone (TM) Netted Pouch doesn’t seem to do much. It’s supposed to hug and hold the you-know-whats, and there are straps and buttons to adjust it to my unique needs, but I think if I cut that netted pouch out, I’d still love the Frigo Revolutionwear. What I really like, and I won’t be wording this right, is the silicone (might be rubber) piping around the bottom of the legs that hold the underwear in place so the legs don’t ride up as you move around throughout the day. When I first saw this rubber strip, I thought it would pull the hair on my legs like crazy, but it didn’t.

Bottom line, I would probably buy another pair, but the $36 price tag (per pair) will make it something I ask for on Father’s Days, birthdays, and Christmas when you ask for non-essentials like $36 underwear. Oh, and I will almost definitely order a Frigo Coolmax T-Shirt because I’ve suddenly become obsessed with my t-shirt collection and widdling it down to just under 20 shirts, and fewer logos. But, here too ….$48 price tag = special occasion.

Now we come to the life-changing underwear – the Tommy John Second Skin Boxer Brief. I don’t know where the human race is headed, but if the human race (the men, at least) were to all at once make a 100% transition to Tommy John Second Skin Boxer briefs, there would be no more war, no arguing, and the Pope could retire because he wouldn’t have to campaign for peace, love, forgiveness, and mercy. I regret only having one pair because I’m only amazed once every couple of weeks on laundry day. This underwear is so incredible, on normal ho-hum days, I move it aside and wear Hanes from Costco because I feel like I should only break out the Tommy Johns on special occasions or when I have a big meeting, interview, or sales pitch. Even men 70+ who might grumble and ask, “isn’t it just underwear, whadda hell does it matter about my  underwear, that’sa problem with the, what do they call them, Manila …no …Millenables …they worry so much about their underwear and mattresses, they oughtta worry about getting a job and saving. I fought in two wars.”

Ah, old people. Imagine how much better they’d have fought in those wars with underwear like Tommy John. Just sayin’.

What’s so great, you ask?  Basically, if you’ve read this far you might go back to the beginning to remember I said for decades and decades cotton briefs were enough. Hey, we once lived without microwaves and we had ice chests instead of Freon powered refrigerators. We read books by candlelight.

We evolved and when you wear Tommy John underwear you will notice a difference. It’s like walking around all day in cheap shoes versus well crafted, well-designed shoes. You notice at the end of the day. It’s like wearing a Columbia parka in the middle of February in Michigan and realizing the technology rated to -40 is working. Sometimes, you get what you pay for, and if you spring for the $37 Second Skins, you’ll notice. It’s like it’s not even there, and yet it’s totally there.

In conclusion, upgrading your underwear is wholly unnecessary and my religion and faith tell me if I have $30+ to spend on a single pair of underwear, I really should be giving more to charity. However, my American consumerism compels me, at times, to spend money on things I don’t need and if your American consumerism flares up, these high-end underwear options are as good as any. We wear underwear every day, keep the same pairs around for years and years, so why not do it in style and feel great if the option’s available.

If I was a real Blog, I would offer you a discount code or “free pair” if you share this Blog, but nope …I just like write.

Thanks for reading.