Motivation

Motivation

Grab The Wheel


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Grab The Wheel
By RJ Harrigan

grabwheel

Let’s start with a few truths:

1: You have no control over where, when, or to whom you were born.

2: You don’t have the mental capacity to take control of your life as a child.

3: Some things are just NOT YOUR FAULT.

Now, what does that mean?

If you have no control over your past, and if you aren’t to blame for your upbringing, then what is in your control?

That’s right, NOW. Right now. Your life, your choices, and everything you do despite your circumstances is all in your control.

You have to look at two truths. The first being, what should be, and then the other truth is the harsh reality of what is.

For example. You should be allowed to dress however you want. You should be judged by your character and not by your appearance. You should be treated as an equal member of society regardless of apparel. Sure, I agree with that. However, the harsh reality is that you can’t in most cases. If you want to work in a corporate setting, you have to dress the part. If you want to dress like a street kid (which is how I was, 90’s baggy-to-the-ankles jeans), then you are going to be followed in the convenient store. You’re going to be profiled by the police. You are going to be assumed a lower member of society.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE. You can stick your middle finger to the man and keep it real, wear whatever you want, and for some of you, that will work. For most, probably not. The other choice is that you can dress for success and remove one obstacle from your journey, because let’s face it, you’ll have plenty of those on the way as it is.

You can blame your circumstances on your past, on your poverty, on your race, on your gender, etc. You can point the finger in so many directions, and EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, you are relinquishing control of your own life. Why would you want to do that? Do you want society to dictate your short comings? Do you want society to tell you that you are disadvantaged? Do you want pity, or do you want glory?

The two truths apply here. It isn’t fair that you are disadvantaged because of your living situation, or your race, or your gender, or whatever, and I AGREE! It shouldn’t be that way. But, what is the harsh reality? You are judged. You are disadvantaged. You were born into a shitty situation. That’s just what it is, and no amount of Facebook statuses or supportive profile pictures are going to help you out.

What can you do?

Well, the first step is to OWN IT! Take full responsibility. That’s right. Take the “blame” for things that aren’t your fault. Why on earth would you do that? Because, it puts you in the driver seat. It gives you the power!

Owning your life is the first step to changing it. I was born to a single mother who had no guidance and made terrible financial decisions, which meant we lived poor and moved around a lot. I didn’t have many friends, I had zero confidence, and I grew to repeat the cycle of barely getting by because that’s what I saw. You know what I did once I was on my own? I blamed my mother for everything she did that disadvantaged me. I blamed her for her bad decisions, which I wasn’t wrong about, but I used that as an excuse to not make my own life better. I basically convinced myself that my mother was broken, and therefore I was broken.

My friends were the same way. They had broken households, and they had no idea how to get out of it and blamed the world for their situations.

I let this be my narrative for too long.

Finally, I realized that my upbringing doesn’t have to define my future. I took ownership of my past. I admitted to myself that it wasn’t my fault for how I was raised, but it is 100% my fault how I chose to live. Living in housing projects wasn’t my choice, but the friends I associated with was. Even though I was too young to make good life decisions, that only allows me to forgive myself for my choices, not deflect responsibility.

I chose to break the law. I chose to skip school. I chose not to pay attention and learn. I chose to smoke. I chose to drink. I chose to have sex. I chose to rebel. I chose to refuse to live by my father’s rules when I moved in with him at 17, and then I chose to live on the street instead of giving in. I chose to pursue a rap career, and I chose not to invest back in the business. I chose to party instead. I chose to go out to California with no plan. I chose not to work hard when I got there. I chose to take pills that led to my overdose. I chose to make a change in my life right then and there. Then I chose to call my dad, come home, and join the Navy. I made all of those decisions, but I only took credit for the last few that were good decisions.

Nothing is going to get better until you accept FULL responsibility for your actions, past and present. You must forgive yourself for the past decisions you’ve made that were during the times you didn’t have control over your life. You must forgive yourself, but you CAN NOT EXCUSE yourself. You just do your best from now on. You get in the driver’s seat, you grab the wheel, and you steer yourself to the life that YOU choose. It isn’t easy, and the road may be long and windy, but would you rather sit back seat to someone else’s adventure?

Motivation, Musings

Writing Tips


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Writing Tips
by R.J.Harrigan

Being a writer is one of the hardest but most rewarding passions to pursue. Unless you’re thinking monetary rewards in which case, be a doctor or something. I kid…not really.

How to be a writer is another challenge. Here are 3 simple tips to follow so you can call yourself a writer too!

1: Carving Time

The single most important thing when it comes to writing is actually WRITING! The number one excuse I hear (and have used) is

“I don’t have time.”

I know it might feel that way but let’s be honest, there’s time. You have a few options. Either accept that you’re never going to write the next great American novel – or find the time. Take note of how you’re spending your time throughout the day. How much are you spending:

  • Watching TV
  • Browsing the internet/social media
  • Playing video games
  • At the bar
  • Chasing dates

You see where this goes? You have the time, but you’re not prioritizing writing. Find a time that you can use to write, whether it is 30 minutes a day, or an hour, and keep to it. Be consistent.

I only started prioritizing my writing in the fall of 2018. So, just a few months ago. However, I decided to write in the morning, before my day starts, and that meant waking up earlier, around 5:30 am to write; which meant going to sleep earlier, which meant adjusting my night routine, which meant eliminating caffeine after 5 pm. It seems like a lot, but it was actually easy after the first week. I wrote every day, regardless if it was a few hundred words or a few thousand. I didn’t put pressure on it, I just enjoyed writing. Now, as of this post, I have 53,000 words, 168 pages written. You can do that to, one page at a time. Just make sure to keep writing!

2: Don’t Get Hung Up On The Details

If anything prevents you from writing, put it aside and come back to it.

Look, I know what it is like to write a line, or a paragraph, or a page, and think, “This sucks, I need to revise it right now.” However, that can lead to frustration, and exhaustion, and eventually quitting.

Guilty.

I’ve quit so many times in my life, taking months off before writing again. It wasn’t until this recent attempt that I decided not to get hung up on a line. If something doesn’t feel right, I just highlight it in yellow and move on. The important thing to remember is that writing is rewriting. You can always come back and make it better!

3: Take It Seriously, And Make Sure Those Around You Do Too

Yes, that means your spouse, children, friends, etc. My wife is very supportive and understanding about my writing, but we’ve bumped heads a few times when I said,

“I can’t right now, I have to write.”

Those around you will see it as a “hobby,” because you’re not getting paid (at least I’m not, yet!) to write. So, if it gets in the way of what they want you to do, whether it is a chore, or drinking, they will tell you that your writing can wait. If those things fall inside the time that you’ve carved out (see step 1), then you must choose writing!

Obviously, you can make the exception if it is an emergency, like hospital worthy, but not emergency like, “Bro, it’s my only night off this week.”

That’s it! 3 Simple tips. Make time. Keep writing. Take it Seriously. Do these things, every day, and you will be a writer! Good Luck!

Motivation, Musings, News and Updates

New Year’s Resolution


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This year I am going to finish my memoir and hopefully get it published!

I also want to get more viewers to my site, especially participants that will submit writing to me for my “What’s Your Story?” section.

Most importantly, I want to be happy and as stress free as possible. I put in some serious work in 2018 to lower my stress and I made it a good portion of the year being happy, but the last month started taking its toll on me and I can feel myself slipping backwards. I am fully aware of it and doing what I can to prevent myself from taking too many steps back. Sometimes a step back is necessary to move ahead, so I’m going to chalk it up to that and keep it moving.

Writing has been my outlet that has saved me from breaking. I always feel better, calmer, lighter, after writing. It feels so good to put my laptop screen down, signifying that I’m done for the moment, and knowing that I am one step closer to finishing this book. I can’t express the joy I feel in being proud of myself. It isn’t a feeling I’m familiar with. I’ve always downplayed my achievements because they weren’t things I cared about, just what I thought I should do. Writing this book is something I care about, and every day that I write, I still can’t believe that I’m actually doing it. If I can, anyone can, a tired cliche that I loathe myself for saying, but (again at the risk of sounding cliche) it is true. Ask anyone who knows me personally and they’ll tell you, I had the potential, but not the drive. But here I am, new year, 52,000 words deep in this memoir. I can’t be stopped and I can’t wait for you all to read it when it is done!

Happy New Year!

2019’s mantra is “Keep it light, Dutch. Keep it light.”

Motivation, News and Updates

The First Draft is Done


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Today is a very special day. I have finished my first draft of my memoir. It is just a skeletal outline of the whole story, but it give me a framework to work with. I have just over 50,000 words and 157 pages.

I have been taking notes along the way and already have at least another 30,000 words to add. So, I am a little ways away from being completely done, and like my professor told me in college, “When it comes to writing, nothing is ever done, just due.”

I can’t even begin to express how happy I feel about this. I never thought that I would actually do it. I have been talking about writing this memoir for a decade but didn’t sit down to do the important part…writing.

The only thing that kick started it was my final project for my master’s degree. I didn’t want to write a thesis paper, so I asked if I could do something more creative. They green lit the idea to write a sample of my memoir, then a 10 page paper “justifying” it. I had an adviser, Askold, that guided me through the process and read my work along the way, but most importantly, he gave me deadlines to adhere to.

After I finished the requirement for the project, I passed it in and received my passing grade, only to tuck away the memoir and not look at it again for almost a year.

I made a promise to myself that since I spent my twenties focusing on physical growth (I was skinny growing up so I hit the gym and kitchen hard), I would spend my thirties on intellectual growth. That meant more reading and writing. I wasn’t keeping that promise to myself until a few months ago when I read this quote that said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who can not.” That hit me hard for some reason.

I made a new morning routine that I still stick to. I wake up early everyday, and the first thing I do is make coffee and sit down at my computer and work on my memoir. I don’t have a word count that I must hit, but I average about 1000 words daily. Then, I read 25 pages of a book. Then, I write a blog post. That’s the routine and it has changed my world!

50,000 words, four 300-500 page books read in a just a few months. I can’t wait to see where I am in a few more.

Motivation

How to Get Back on The Horse


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“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”

That was my motto for many years. If I was great at something, I showed off. If I sucked, I pretended it sucked and that I wasn’t to be bother with whatever it was. Loser mentality. However, I’ve grown into a person who admits failure, and that is something that I’m proud of.

We’ve all seen them, the people who are amazing and never fall. Well guess what? That’s BS. They fail, all the time, but they, like I used to, don’t admit it. When you see a photo on Instagram and you think, “Wow, why can’t I look that perfect?” What you don’t see is the 100 photos that got deleted, or the number of filters put on it, or even some Photo Shopping that happened.

When you see a video of someone doing some crazy stunt, a flip or trick, they’ve got hours and hours of footage of them falling, failing, and trying again. You just see the final product.

Even your favorite TV show or movie has an outtake reel.

The point is, no matter what you’re trying to be better at, the road to success is built on failed attempts. I’m not perfect at any of the things I preach. My diet slips now and then, and I’ve gone on a 3-day Chinese food bender. I’ve skipped workouts, and I’ve even missed some writing days. It happens, and that’s okay.

Don’t let your idea of perfection ruin your attempt. Be proud of your failures, because that’s what makes your story great! Nobody wants to read about someone who was born amazing and never lost. We all love a good comeback tale. I learned that lesson early. My brother was the “screw up” and I was mommy’s perfect little angel.

I couldn’t understand why, even though I was the “favorite” child, did my brother get all the attention. He got unbelievable praise for basic stuff. Like if he didn’t misbehave in public, he’d get candy or a compliment. I behaved all the time, but nobody rewarded it. It was expected of me. I got good grades, and my brother didn’t do his work. If he ever did, he was showered with love. It wasn’t until I fell off my pedestal that I got attention, but negative attention. When you do the right thing all the time, people notice when you don’t. When you do the wrong thing all the time, people notice when you do the right thing. It’s a strange dynamic that we all tend to do. We grow accustomed to people’s behaviors and expectations form.

After a while of doing bad things, it wasn’t shocking to my family any longer. I was expected to be rebellious. Then, whenever I did something right, I got that praise I longed for. I learned that people love to see you fall from grace and come back up. They will criticize you the whole way down, but, depending on how far you fall of course, they will build you back up too. There’s no hope for Cosby or Weinstein, but we’ve seen many celebrities fall down and come back. Robert Downey Jr. Brittany Speares, Mike Tyson, etc. Their failures give them character, and it makes them interesting. Yours do too! Embrace them. Yes, people will judge you, and that is why we hide, but I’m telling you, they will forget and/or move on and suddenly you will be revered for overcoming your failure.

So make mistakes, fall off that horse, but don’t destroy the evidence of trying, embrace the error, learn from it, get back on that horse and maybe fail a little less next time. Repeat and before you know it, you’ve succeeded at whatever you were trying to accomplish, and ready to fail at something new!

 

pandasuccess

Motivation

Quotes I Adore


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“A wise man has something to say, A fool has to say something”

“Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence.”

“A single raindrop feels no responsibility for the flood.”

“Remember, you’re just a walk on part in everyone else’s play.”

“Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.”

“Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic.”

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

“When you start yelling, you lost the fight.”

“What we think, we become.”

I love quotes like these. They help me ground myself when I am off balance.

 

Motivation

What’s Your Story?


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Last summer I was taking a course called “Literary Sites and Spaces.” It was one of the best experiences I had ever had with a class. We took field trips for a week, visiting literary places around Massachusetts. For example, we went to Walden Pond and read excerpts of Thoreau in the woods, near where he had gone “into the woods to live intentionally.” We visited Louisa May Alcott’s home and saw the very spot that she wrote “Little Women” by hand. We headed to Salem, Ma. and took a tour of the “House of Seven Gables,” and read excerpts of Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. There were several other places we visited but you get the idea.

While on this trip, a group of us formed a bond and swapped life stories. I gave some examples of my past which often shocked the group. They came from stability and I must have seemed like Oliver Twist or something to them. I’ll never forget what one girl in the group said to me. She said that she didn’t feel like she had any stories to contribute because her life was so boring compared to mine. I assured her that her “boring,” normal life is what intrigued me. I was fascinated by people who got along with their siblings and actually hung out with them. I was fascinated by people who called their parents on a regular basis and met up with them for meals. I told her that her stories are like fairy tales to people like me and I would love to hear them. She eventually shared, and she explained how her sister is the “favored” one because she was married and pregnant, which their mother was excited for, and my friend was pursuing a career over family at the moment. I said, “See? You have some stories after all, and that one has some drama to it!”

I believe that everyone has a story. That’s what makes us unique. Although the path of life is linear, birth, career, death, when we zoom in to any one person’s lens, their path varies in their own way and that is fascinating. Even if your life isn’t filled with explosions, or adventure, and if you lived in a little town your entire existence, you still have a story to tell. Your life isn’t boring. Your life is your own, and you might think that nobody wants to hear about it, but I’m telling you that people do. I do. I love life experiences more than anything else in this world. Oddly enough, I despise reality TV, but that’s a separate issue. I want to hear your story. Pick up a pen, or start a blog! Write it down, and be brave enough to share it. I guarantee, somebody out there will read it and they might even say, “Wow, my life is boring compared to their’s” about YOU.

 

Typewriter What is Your Story

Motivation, News and Updates

Black Friday Update


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Let me begin by saying that it was stupid of me to attempt a new diet two days before Thanksgiving. Especially a Keto diet considering Thanksgiving is the carbiest holiday of the year! I’m not giving up, but I definitely chose to enjoy myself on Thursday.

With that being said, I want to remind those who are struggling with bringing new, good habits into their life that there will be days that are set backs. Don’t let that turn into giving up! I had two successful days of Keto, then I carbed up. Does that mean those two days are worthless? No. Even though I have to start over, I learned alot from those days. First, I learned that I can do go a whole day with minimal carbs. Second, I learned what meals to eat. So now, it will be much easier to attempt it again! Don’t let a set back ruin your motivation. You still learn with every attempt. I know people that attempted to quit smoking, 5-6 times before they actually succeeded! The goal was still reached, and they are living a much healthier life now. You just have to keep at it. What is the old saying? “If at first you don’t succeed. Destroy all evidence that you tried.” Just kidding. “Get your ass back in gear and try again!”

I think it is important to admit your failures. Especially when you’re like me and bragging all over the internet that you’re accomplishing your goals. You never now who is reading, or listening, and taking your words to heart. The problem begins when someone is influenced by you, but they reach a set back, and when they compare themselves to you, Mr. “Never fails” then they think they just aren’t capable of being better. I’m here to say, I’ve failed my way to success, every time. There are always set backs. I don’t feel bad about them anymore. I used to, but now I know that they are part of the process. Water beats stone every time in the long game.

erosion

After indulging in some delicious food, my wife and I decided to go to bed early to wake up and go out shopping. We didn’t have anything in mind that warranted being out at midnight, so we got up at 6 and headed to the stores after the mobs have left. It was slow at first, not really finding anything great, but after 8 hours of shopping, we made out pretty good. We got our daughter some stuff that she wanted for Christmas, and we got our puppy some bones and a few hoodies. He’s a little guy and it gets mighty cold in Massachusetts.

I took the day off from posting, but I’m back at it again today. Perhaps the break was necessary because this very morning, I finally figured out the plot of my book! I’ve been writing a fiction story for a few months now. I have written 50-60 pages, most of which is being thrown out, but it led me to where I am now. I have far fewer pages, but they’re good pages and I’ve got the plot now so it is going to zoom from here! I’m so excited. I used to write all the time in the past but when I reached a road block that would demand me starting over, or throwing out most of my work, I’d give up on the story entirely and start a new one. I thought that If I didn’t write it perfectly on the first go, then it wasn’t a good story. How dumb was I right? Now I know, writing is rewriting. A college professor changed my world when she said, “Nothing is ever done, only due.”

I just wanted to share what is going on with me, with you. I’m just so excited to announce that my book finally has direction and I can’t wait to get back to writing it! Have a wonderful day!

 

Motivation

Attempting a Keto Diet


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I have been trying new diets for the better part of a decade now and I’ve been toying with the idea of going keto. It seems to be all the rage right now.

When I first started paying attention to my food, it was a mess. I wanted to gain weight, being a life long skinny man

swan

Yes, that’s a baby swan.

So, I only focused on the calories. I didn’t care how I got them, just as long as I kept shoveling food into my face. At one point, I was eating 4000 calories a day.

 

 

These became my portion sizes, every day. I was eating full meals, every 2 hours.

But I grew into a 205 lb beast!

bigboy

I got big, and strong, but also slow, tired, and not as little around the middle. I could bench 315, squat 320, and dead lift 405! Not record breaking numbers, but for the kid who could barely bench the bar when he started, it was like climbing Everest!

However, I couldn’t maintain the caloric intake after the military, because food wasn’t free anymore. Because of my metabolism, I quickly lost size. I shredded up, which was nice, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I lost all of mys strength.

Back down at 170

171

I started paying more attention to my diet. I cut out sugar, almost entirely. No more soda. I tried to eat vegan, vegetarian, and even a very short attempt at carnivore. I just didn’t feel great on those diets. I’ve lost even more weight, now back to my original 165 lbs, but with a much more solid frame. Recently, I’ve got the kick to try Keto. I’ve been hearing so much about it and decided that I’d give it a shot. I like trying new diets, and if worse comes to worst, I’ll just shovel pasta in my gullet and balloon back up!

photoshoot

Motivation

The Biggest Lesson I learned in my 20’s


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I don’t know how it is for everyone else, but my 20’s were a shit show. Well the first half of my 20’s. I was homeless from my late teens until I was 21. I spent my 21st birthday as a guinea pig for a group of friends who wanted to see if I could stay drunk for 21 days straight (which I succeeded at, then surpassed into a habit). Life was terrible because I didn’t care about myself.

Then, I decided to live. I joined the military (GO NAVY!) and got my life on track. Not overnight, because while in the Navy, I still drank like a sailor and didn’t do much looking inward at first. When I turned 24/25-ish is when I began to rebuild myself, from the inside-out. If there is just one lesson that needs to be learned in your 20’s, though it may sound cliché, but it is simply to learn to Love Yourself.

People like me seek the approval of others in order to define themselves. I’ve been like that for as long as I can remember. I had an easy time making acquaintances, but my problem was that I would latch on to people. If I made a friend, I would say it is my best friend, and then I’d go out of my way to make that person happy. They would usually reciprocate when it would be just us, but when there was someone they thought was “cooler” than me available to hang out with, guess who’d be alone? Yup, little ole me. It took me over 20 years to realize that this was a problem with me, and not them. I thought that these people were fake and not a true friend, like me. Don’t be so full of yourself. They had lives outside of our friendship and that’s okay. I blamed my lack of a life beyond them, on them. Not cool old me, not cool.

The real issue was that these people didn’t depend on me for happiness as I did to them. I wasn’t happy with myself and I was using them like a drug to numb my emptiness. I couldn’t be alone without crying my eyes out for no reason. Maybe you’re not as messed up as I was, but the advice still applies. Love yourself. Spend some time thinking about your own insecurities and then figure out WHY you are insecure about them.

For me, I found that my older brother and my mother played a big role in mine. My mom was a single mother, living in poverty, who worked constantly for little money. She worked all day, and when she was home, she would be too tired to spend much time with us. My brother bullied me verbally and physically, so I went out and found comfort in friends. It was in my 20’s that I was able to figure this out and forgive them for their faults. I’ve learned that they have their own insecurities and that they never maliciously contributed to mine. I’ve learned that my brother’s anger was a problem with HIM and not with ME. I have learned to love me for me and you know what? I can be alone now, in fact, I prefer it most of the time.

One good decision led to another and before long, I ended the bad relationships that I held on to for no good reason other than my fear of being alone. Good bye to the drug users and dealers, Good bye to the unmotivated and negative thinkers, and Good bye to the old me! I now keep a small circle and if I see them, I enjoy what I can, and if I don’t, I enjoy my own company.

Love yourself! Nobody has a clue what this is…Life. Some people are convincing and pretend that they know, but I promise you, not a single person has a clue. We are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have. Unfortunately some people have less to work with than others, but we all can find happiness within. And if you ever feel like nobody cares, just know, you still have you!