Admit It, Staying Motivated is Difficult

Do ya ever get into a rut? Wake up. Start the day. Maybe you nailed your good morning routine. Maybe you didn’t and hit the snooze alarm, but you did get the stuff done you absolutely had to get done, like make breakfast for your kids. Shower. Get dressed. Drive your kids to school. Drive to work. Start working.  But maybe, like me, you skipped the other parts. For me, the “other parts” are wake-up at 4:55 a.m. (preceded by a 10:00 p.m. bedtime the night before), guzzle 500 mLs of water, take a half-hour power-walk, arrive home at 5:30 a.m.  Make a cuppa coffee. Write. Plan the day. And by 6:15 a.m. I will have done the “me stuff” because 6:15 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. is family time. Breakfasts. Clean kitchen. Empty dishwasher. Drive ’em to school.

Too often, though, I know I’ve got this vast safety net of time and I simply hit-the-snooze until 6:15 a.m. I call that my “last chance” moment. Or as my friend and coach, Nick G. says, “is that a ‘must-do’ or a ‘should-do’? Do your actions show you believe the things are a ‘must-do’, or only a dream?  And if it isn’t a ‘must-do’, why isn’t it?”

You get it, right? If sleep through my morning walk, excess water, a few moments of prayer and writing, nobody cares. Nobody is hurt. But if I just decided at 6:15 a.m. that, screw it, I’m gonna sleep until 8 o’clock, my kids would get out of bed and have to make their own breakfast. The dishwasher wouldn’t get emptied. My wife would have to do it all …breakfast, pack lunches, take the dog out, make sure everyone is packed up for school, quickly drop the older two at school and then get our youngest daughter to school and get herself to work. I’d miss out on family time and the morning chit-chat about what their days have in-store, I wouldn’t actually have any influence on their healthy breakfast, and my wife would be crazed and probably resent my laziness and selfishness for just sleeping through it all.

So you see …getting going at 6:15 a.m. is a must-do.

Nick G. (such a smart guy and you can see it for yourself) challenged me to turn my “should-do” and “wanna-do” things into “must-do” things.

But first I gotta admit it – I haven’t been doing the things needed to get anywhere near my dreams.

I admit it – I waste alotta time. I know it. And shame on me for that.

A month ago, I lost one of my best friends very suddenly and way-too-soon. He was 47-years-old. He was in great health and had recently started running again and hitting personal bests. He had an amazing job, more friends than I’ll ever have, a beautiful family, and in an instant, while out for a run, he was gone. Out for a run. Exercising. Just like we all should be doing and our doctors tell us to do.

Chances are you’ve lost someone too soon. My sorrow and grieving isn’t different than anyone else who lost a spouse, sibling, or child way before their time. We all kinda have expectations when we sign the contract on our lives, or our marriages, or when we have kids. We’re supposed to work, get to see all the milestone moments, retire, dance at our children’s weddings and then, if we’re lucky, get to hold some grandchildren. That’s the deal. That’s how it works. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

When someone, like my friend Matt, is ripped out of our lives and the contract he signed is ripped up and can’t be renegotiated, we all head to the funerals and are very sad and says its tragic, but we also say, “that could be me.”

If you want to read about how extraordinary my friend Matt was, please, take 15-minutes and read this.

Then. Stop hitting the snooze bar. Stop watching mindless TV at night (another tip from Nick G.), and use your time (the first “T” in Matt’s success formula). Start doing things as if your “wanna-do” and “should-do” become as “must-do” as things like raising your children and going to work.

Easier said than done, but I’m going to do it and, as is my way, will Blog about the journey. Don’t worry. I’m still gonna Blog about coffee and headphones and my other obsessions. I still wanna be fun and funny. But I’m going to make daily and weekly progress and stop wasting time.




Memories or Life Tips

My Uncle Jerry taught me many things in life, but something quite random he showed me makes an almost daily impact on me. My Blog readers know I’m obsessed about coffee. I don’t even have a drip coffee maker in my house – I only Aeropress or French Press my coffee (and sometimes when I’m lazy, I use my wife’s Nespresso).

One night at my Uncle Jerry’s house, after having enjoyed another incredible dinner from my Aunt Denise, he offered me a cuppa coffee and before he poured my coffee, he filled a mug, about halfway, with water, and microwaved it for a minute. He said, “it warms up the mug and I like pouring coffee into a warm mug.”

I’ve done it every time, since.


Coffee Clarity (with a Jolt of Gary Vaynerchuk)

If you don’t like cursing, well, ignore it but watch the video below. If you don’t like me talking about myself, well, ignore this blog. If you think me saying, “I’m going to drink less coffee,” is code that I’m being held hostage but blogging in hopes someone reads this, deciphers the code, and comes and rescues me, well, don’t worry . . . I’m OK.

I’m more than OK. I’m having a Monday where I feel like this is the first day of the rest of my life. The first day of the life I am supposed to be living. The life where I balance a great job, perfect family, and hobbies (like writing a book, running a salsa business, writing another book, and writing a sitcom pilot that leads to a TV series and then my ultimate goal of putting my greatest-Disney-Pixar-movie on paper and watching it get made, with Steve Carell as the voice of the main character).

Note: My initial thought on my Disney-Pixar movie is that it could be a live-action movie, but the budget would greatly increase the way I envision this thing.

Back to the Monday at hand. Let’s crush it together. Watch Gary Vaynerchuk’s video below or here, and then watch it again. Heck, watch it three times. Maybe you’ll get out of it what I got out of it – if you’re lucky enough to have your health, and your family is healthy and, basically, you’re a normal person with a normal life, you can do incredible things. Why are the “incredible things” we see other people out of reach for the rest of us? Why can’t I be Gary Vaynerchuk and make a video every Monday morning? I’ll bet Gary wouldn’t claim to own the Monday morning video diary space.

What about the coffee thing I mentioned above?

Last week I read about, blogged about, and Tweeted about Bulletproof Coffee as made famous by Dave Asprey and I was ambushed by my Twitter friends about the recipe and they kept asking, “why?” It lead to much more reading and researching and thinking about why I’d ever put butter and coconut oil in my coffee. Why wouldn’t I (a) make and enjoy coffee, good coffee, fair trade coffee roasted locally and fresh and consumed no more than a month after roasting and then (b) find other ways to mix grass fed butter and coconut oil into my diet if I think a Keto diet is where I want to go, and because I think there are great benefits to having coconut oil in my daily diet.

With all these thoughts and opinions going on, and in reading, my latest idea is that I’ll enjoy coffee every morning. No more than two cups. Then I’ll be done with coffee for the day.

Putting things in my coffee (and this is just me) is like putting ketchup on a steak. Or covering a 3 Musketeers bar (my favorite of all time) in vinegar and oil dressing and cutting it up and eating it with sunflower seeds and chopped up spinach. What!?!?!?! I like steak with a little salt. Why ruin it? There’s no doubt about the health benefits of adding vinegar or sunflower seeds to your diet, and spinach is only a good thing, but they would ruin a 3 Musketeers bar.

I like a 3 Musketeers bar. So why would I ruin it? Same with coffee.

Plus, maybe controlling my coffee consumption will be another step in controlling my sleep. Which brings me to the whole point of writing this blog – last night I got an amazing night’s sleep and I feel like Gary V. describes in this video.

Watch me work. Watch me nae nae. Don’t believe me? Just watch. Have a GREAT WEEK.

Things I’m Doing: Using Evernote

So I follow this cat named Damien on Twitter and he’s a writer (writes alotta right-wing stuff, which isn’t my cuppa tea, but that’s not really the point of this blog). He writes alot and one day he opined about how much he loves Evernote. He’s not alone in my Twitter feed in his praise for Evernote. But I wasn’t sure, the few times I’ve tried it, how to make it work.

I asked him, he gave me some tips, and in two short weeks, I’ve managed to funnel just about every thought, article, task, list, schedule, and picture into I can think of. It’s on my iPad, my laptop, my iPhone, my computer at work, and if I could install it on my watch, I probably would.

I use it like my own personal Pinterest, but it’s better, actually.

If you’re a writer, or a multi-tasker, or you’re trying to balance home life, work life, hobbies, and other random activities, this is your app.

I fell in love when I got the idea to file the PDFs of my son’s and my daughter’s soccer schedules into it. See, storing a PDF, say, on my laptop is a good thing. It allows me to eliminate another email from my Inbox. But what if I’m sitting in a doctors waiting room and someone asks, “can you come for a follow up on such-and-such date?” And I say, hmmm, maybe, I’ll have to check because I think I have a soccer game that day. Well, with Evernote, I know that no matter what device I have with me, I can check.

I also have a book project I’m working on and my client shared a large document with me and I’ve been able to migrate material, research papers, etc all to a Notebook created specifically for this book.

For my job, I need to track leads, ideas, and sometimes record some audio …Evernote does it all.

Have I sold you on Evernote? Probably not. But if you meet me for a cuppa coffee someday, I’ll probably bore you to death telling you about how great this app is for staying organized across the many categories of your life.

I’ve even copy/pasted some Tweets to Evernote. Yes, I Tweet. I’m known as @donkowalewski on Twitter.

Things I Love: Great Coffee

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting at a coffee shop run by the biggest coffee brand in the world (which I won’t mention by name) and thinking, “is this really the best coffee can taste? Burnt and acidic?” And with that question and caffeine coursing through my body, I vowed to figure out a better way to enjoy coffee.

*** Hey, you can brag about your life-changing moments, I’ll brag about mine.

I’d had some scattered “good coffee moments” in my life, like after a good meal at an expensive restaurant, and once while visiting a friend somewhere and he made us coffee in a French Press. I felt great shame for spending more than $2 on a cup of coffee at this big chain, and it wasn’t even good. Basically, I was paying $2 for convenience, and it wasn’t actually convenient. I regularly waited in line for the same amount of time it would take to brew an entire pot at home.

I won’t chronicle my entire coffee journey, here, but I soon discovered the Aeropress and that I actually think an Americano (hot water poured over a strong espresso) is far superior to any other cuppa joe, and I learned about Chazzano in Ferndale, run by a man who turned his passion into his livelihood, and in the process roasts the best beans anywhere in Detroit. Period. And no matter what type of coffee you like or your brewing method, he’ll make sure your tastebuds sing.

Sad as it may seem, part of my looking forward to a three day weekend is so that I can slow down and enjoy good coffee every morning. Slowly. Without rushing around getting ready for work and staying out of the way while my wife and kids scramble to get out the door and to school on time.

Some drink coffee for utility. To keep going. I actually enjoy it better when it makes me slow down. I hope you take a few moments this Labor Day weekend to slow down. Maybe enjoy a great cup of coffee. I’ll Tweet about my coffee all weekend, if that sounds interesting to you. I’m at @donkowalewski.

Speaking of Frank at Chazzano, you gotta watch this. Then, pay attention to his weekend hours (Friday, August 30: 7am-4pm; Sunday, September 1: 9am-6pm; Monday, Labor Day, September 2: 10am-3pm) and make  your way over there this weekend.

Things I Do: Master my Aeropress Technique

If your name is Tom and you bowl with me, or you’re just someone considering an Aeropress, or you have one and you’ve struggled early with making the perfect cup of coffee, this blog entry is for you.

Fact: an Aeropress makes a superior cup of coffee.

Fact: at first, an Aeropress is a bit messy, and you’ll wonder if you’re using it right.

Fact: you’ll figure it out – just be patient. Don’t rush things.

Fact: eventually, the thought of waiting for a drip-brew pot of coffee to finish brewing so you can have a way-too-acidic cup of coffee . . . it’ll make you cringe and you’ll wonder to yourself, wow, did I actually live like that?

Fact: you’ll talk about your amazing coffee and friends will either (a) zone out, or (b) call you a coffee snob to your face or behind you back. But it’s OK, because you will have brought your coffee drinking to another level and when you have coffee as good as an Aeropress makes it, it’s worthy of conversation.

So, Tom (and Aniella and Lauren) . . . here you go. You’ll notice at the 1:30 mark I really have to lean on the plunger for the final bit of pressure, and that’s perfectly normal. I use a fine grind, but not too fine. If you get really, really fine, the plunger won’t push through. Practice with a semi-fine grind, then work up to a finer grind. Heck …practice with Kroger grounds just to get the technique. An Aeropress even makes cheap Kroger coffee taste pretty darn good. Good luck. We’ll talk at bowling next week and I expect you’ll have a big, coffee drinking smile on your face.

Things I Love: People Who Love Great Coffee as Much As I Do

If you put yourself out there, sometimes people notice. I made a video for my buddy Matt about making multiple cups of coffee via an AeroPress, and then some random guy on YouTube responded to my video with a video of his own. In it, he shows how, even while camping, he manages to prepare magnificent coffee for his family. I hope the guy puts as much care and thought into, oh I don’t know …food. But …I gotta respect his coffee passion.

Here’s @jcwalton‘s video response to my AeroPress video. Mad respect for the man.

I know what you’re thinking …“this! is a blog entry!?!?! This is bull crap!” And I agree. I have much, much to share about the run-up to my salsa’s debut at a farmer’s market, back-to-school stuff, book writing, my trip to a coffee roaster in Dearborn, and a new blogging/writing gig. You’ll just have to sit their on pins and needles. If you’re bored, watch that coffee video again.