Where Do You Want to Go?

Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be?

I don’t know your answer to those questions. Maybe you don’t either. But your options are nearly unlimited. Or rather, they are only limited by one thing: you.

What do you want?

The first step in anything is having a plan. Choose something as your goal. Weight loss. New career. Launch a podcast. Walk the Pacific Crest Trail. Anything. Find a goal, something that you are passionate over, and make a specific goal statement. Picture what success looks like. Write your goal–on paper–and attach it somewhere you will see it frequently. Be as specific as specific as possible. Set a deadline, for all goals except weight loss. Our bodies are frequent obstinant about losing weight. Focus on the end weight, not a due date, and you will have less frustration.

The next step is take action which moves you toward the goal. Right now. Don’t wait. Tomorrow will not be any better than today. Just act. Will it be the right action? I don’t know. Neither do you, until you try. If you want to lose weight, maybe that means downloading a calorie-counting app (like LoseIt, which I use.) Start using it. If you find success, great! If after a few weeks of consistent use, you find it unhelpful, try something else. Nothing will happen until you do something!

You may decide to get more active. I wear my Fitbit to help keep me moving. But you need to 1) wear it, and 2) keep moving to get any benefit!

I have a friend who stated in November 2013 that he would launch his podcast in one year. To date, he still is chasing ideas for his podcast. As he puts it, “When you chase two rabbits, you don’t catch any.” Now, that isn’t a terrible thing, but until he know what he really wants, he will continue to chase those rabbits.

Deepak Chopra put it nicely when he said “No solution can ever be found by running in three different directions.”

Do you want a new career? What do you love doing? That isn’t necessarily what you enjoy as a hobby, but what makes you feel completed? I homebrew beer. For a few years, I actively considered creating my own brewpub (brewery and restaurant) because I make really good beer, I am a good chef, and I love servin people my food and beer. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized that while I love brewing and cooking for myself, my family and my friends, doing it every day, on a demanding schedule would not make me happy. Look into classes at your local community college. Maybe you can test your resolve by taking a class in accounting (if you want to become an accountant) or welding (if that is your plan.)

Side note: here in Northeastern Wisconsin, we can’t seem to find enough skilled welders. The college that I teach offers welding programs that are always filled. A good job, if you like that type of work, might be waiting for you in Wisconsin.

Do you want to start a podcast, blog or write a book? Well, guess what? Those don’t magically appear. They all involve writing and a significant committment of time and energy. And they all take consistent effort. That is similar to students who buy a textbook but rarely–or never–open it, and then wonder why their test scores are low.

Find a resource, sit down and take action. To learn how to podcast, go to Meron Bareket’s Podcast Starter Kit. Starting a blog is easy when you follow Leslie Samuel’s “Become a Blogger” plan. Jeff Goins is an awesome author and his blog “Goins, Writer” helps new authors get their start.

So, you have a plan and you took your first steps. Are you having any success? You need to always evaluate your progress. Maybe not daily, but weekly or monthly is a good timeline for assessment. Sit down at the same time each week, and look at your metrics. How many pounds did you lose? How many days did you eat within your budget? How many words per day did you write, or how many interviews did you record and edit? Is that answer what you need to reach your goal? If yes, stick with it. If not, consider small changes to maximize your chances of success. Maybe find a mentor, face to face or vitual to help provide accountability. That is what I do for my weight management clients.

When should you do this?

Right now. What will be accomplished by waiting? Even if you say that you need to wait until tomorrow for that flight to Tibet, you can still take action today to prepare for it. Act now. It is the only time that you now you will have.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
Note: the links to LoseIt, Fitbit and the Podcast Starter Kit are my affiliate links. (Other links are simply excellent resources.) That means if you click on those and buy one (or all) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today. That is the only firm of payment I have here, or in the podcast. I tell you about tools that worked for, and if you belief they can help you, your purchase keeps my work going. And for that, I thank you!
All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

Find Your Own Voice!

You can go your own way and be your own person. Or you can be one of the sheep. The choice is always yours.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sheep. Seeing a large flock of walking puffs of clouds over a rolling green hill is relaxing. They are cute (well, at the petting zoo for my kids, they were cute.) They make wool. I love a nice wool suit. And delicious meat (roast leg of lamb is incredible.) And they produces milk for cheese. They are…well, they are animals that graze and exist until we need some part of them.

They are a commodity. An object used to create something else for sale. And just about any single sheep can be replaced with any other sheep. They may have different personalities, but they are interchangable in their role within the drove.

That is a lot like people, in a way. People like to think they are irreplaceable in the job. But they aren’t (and deep down, I think we all know it.) We are needed only because we can push the right button, or throw a football nicely, or sing a song beautifully, but in reality, many people can push that same button, throw a football, and sing that same song. In the workforce, people are commodities.

We are all just a very large, very fast-moving flock of people. Everything we do is a blur. Everything runs together, like a watercolor painting left out in the rain. We are all interchangeable. Oh, it may take some retraining to pull one person out and put a new person in their place, but that is the same as when you introduce a new sheep to the pasture. There are 7 billion people on the planet.

Or maybe there is just one person, but with seven billion different faces.

This is not what I normally write about, is it? Sort of grim. But wait, this is only half the story.

See, as a nurse, I am replaceable. Just about any nurse can be taught the skills needed on the job. As an instructor at my local community college, I am a little less replaceable, but only because there are less nurses with the right education credentials. But those can be earned.

So where am I going with this?

There is one way I am irreplaceable. Only one position that only I can fill. One area where I am not a commodity.

As a person, I am the only ME there is. So I need to make the most of it. While many people can do what I do, I am the only person who does it exactly I as do it. I am the only person with exactly my background and history. In all of the world, there is likely only one nurse who is:

  • male
  • weight loss coach
  • bartender (6 places)
  • chef (2 places)
  • a television guest chef
  • fast food restaurant manager
  • security guard, 
  • courier
  • dairy bottling plant shipping manager
  • direct salesman (4 companies)
  • telemarketer
  • carpet cleaner
  • grocery store clerk
  • car wash attendant 
  • day care custodian/substitute teacher
  • home brewer
  • certified beer judge
  • who is also a podcaster, blogger, and YouTuber.

I think I can say I AM unique.

That is what makes me separate from the herd. I am a herd of one (to borrow from a US Army slogan.) I use all those experiences to make me a better person at everything.

That does not mean I am an expert at everything. Heck, I’m not an expert at anything. I am gaining new skills every day. I will admit to making mistakes repeatedly, although I try to not make the same mistake twice.

This realization did not happen overnight. I’m 51 years old and it’s only been in the past couple years that I have started to believe this. As an instructor at the college, it took more than five years to find my voice. There is working “outside your comfort zone” and “learning the lay of the land.” I started teaching in January 2009, and it was not until this semester that I finally decided to remove parts of my mask and show the real me. Just yesterday, a colleague commented on how much more engaged I am, and my only response was I finally feel as though my real voice is taken as valid.

But the point is that I am finally being myself!

Stepping out, seizing your own space, using your own voice, those are all methods of being your own authentic self. And all of those can be intimidating. But until you take those steps, you are just another blurred face in the crowd.

If you don’t use your own voice, if you don’t act the way you truly feel, you are not loyal to yourself. You will change as the powers around you change. You will be a flag in a hurricane, whipping violently in one direction until the hurricane passes and then you will whip violently in the opposite direction.

In doing so, you lose yourself.

“If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything.”
Claude McKay, Jamaican-American writer and poet (1889 – 1948)

I’ll leave you with a few questions. Please feel free to answer them in the comments.

Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you want?

What do you bring that no one else can? Do you use it, every day?

In researching this essay, I knew that a collection of sheep was a “herd”, but was not sure about any other terms. According to the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center a collection of sheep can be called a “flock, herd or drove.” I knew that elephants were a herd. Do you know the name for a group of apes? Badgers? Martens? Eagles? Starlings? Toads? Trout? Jellyfish?

(That is the sort of thing that interests us nurses who are guys that have experienced that list of careers above.)

Unsplash License:  “All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”

How to Make Crispy, Crunchy Fried Chicken

Crispy, crunchy, breaded chicken is easy. Simply deep fry it.
But if you are looking for a healthier version, that requires baking it, and sometimes the results are not as crisp or crunchy as desired. I tried several versions, and found that the secret ingredient is Panko Bread crumbs. (My preferred brand is Kikkoman.)

Panko Crumbs adds an excellent and light crunch to everything!
In both versions, I used a buttermilk wash and seasoned flour. I baked the chicken on a cooking rack to allow airflow around the chicken, but the pieces that were given a second coating with panko turned out demonstrably crisper and crunchier.
These pieces had a crisp and satisfying crunch and that contributed to the excellent flavor.

This was very flavorful, but lacked the crunch.
The specific details:
I used chicken legs (thighs and drumstick.) I left the skin on (because sometimes I just want all the flavor possible.) I think this technique would work with skinless chicken, and I will run that test soon.
I seasoned 1 cup whole wheat flour with 
  • 2 tsp onion powder 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed sage. 

My wash was buttermilk.

The flour-only version was dipped in buttermilk and rolled in flour. The panko version was rolled in the seasoned flour first, then dipped in buttermilk and coated in panko.

Bake on a cooking rack in another shallow pan (I used a 10x15in jelly roll pan) at 425F/225C for 15 minutes, then 375/190C for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temp is 165F/74C.
Don’t bake solely based on time. If you remove the chicken at 165F/74C, you will have perfectly cooked chicken that isn’t dry. However, the downside of this is you don’t get the beautiful golden-brown color of deep-fried chicken. (I can live without the color!)
This recipe was requested from Tosha, one of the listeners of my podcast, Make Your Someday Today. In MYST 53, Tosha left a message on my voicemail system (Speakpipe) which you can find on my home page. If you have a question, please give me a call!

Stop Trying To Be Happy! Just Enjoy Life!

Today we have a guest post by Scott Wilson. An author and engineer, Scott finds problems and then designs the solutions. With his blog, Designed2Succeed, he helps his readers design their most important project: their own lives.

After you read his post, please leave him a comment here, and then check out his thoughts on his blog.

Everyone wants to be happy, right? I mean as far as goals go this one seems to be right up there on most people’s list. The United States constitution even guarantees the right to pursue happiness. So much of the modern advertising industry is built upon the premise of selling the elements that deliver happiness. It is safe to say that trying to be happy is definitely a common priority within our society.
People do many things in their unending efforts to become and remain happy. They seek friendship, love, romance, marriage, children, fame, fortune, spirituality, god and so much more all hoping that these will lead to lasting happiness. It is my observation that all of these things have at best fleeting success in attaining happiness.
Every single one of the ideals that I have mentioned above is mixed with joy and pain, happiness and sorrow. The best friendships will still occasionally disappoint. Romance waxes and wanes. Marriage and families are filled with great joys and heart-crushing events. Even religion and spirituality do not grant immunity to the trials and pains of life.
And yet mankind spends an amazing amount of time and effort chasing the dream of happiness. In this powerful pursuit we demonize sadness and depression. North America is an abundant and rich country where we enjoy a standard of living that far exceeds that of over 60 percent of the world. Still Americans currently spend an estimated $11.3 billion dollars annually on anti-depressants, consuming more per capita than any other nation. American use of anti-depressants skyrocketed 400% from 1988 to 1994. We go to great pains to avoid being unhappy in any way and in the process we treat almost all sadness as an illness.
So what is wrong? Why can’t we seem to lay hold of this ultimate prize despite our herculean efforts? We have material wealth and security like no other nations but we are failing at the very pursuit that our predecessors nobly guaranteed for us. It actually seems that the harder we try obtain happiness the more difficult it becomes to obtain. I actually believe that this principle holds true, and so I propose that it is truthfully our very quest for happiness that causes the problem.
We live in an impermanent world. All things that live will die and everything that is created eventually decays and fails. Why then do we expect our happiness to be permanent? In Zen Buddhism it is believed that our attachment to objects in this ever-changing world that leads to sadness and frustration. There is much truth to this belief, however even detachment will not guarantee happiness just as an absence of pain does not guarantee pleasure. So the problem of happiness remains.
I propose that we release our iron grip on the pursuit of happiness and instead focus our pursuit on joy. No, I am not just playing with semantics. Joy is defined as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (from Merriam-Webster). I believe that it is the last part of this definition that is telling: ‘emotion evoked by… the prospect of possessing.’ There can be joy in the pursuit even if the item pursued is not obtained. I would go so far as to say that we can actually enjoy pursuing happiness even if we fail in that pursuit!
I further submit that joy supersedes happiness. As my father lay in pain dying of bone cancer in I enjoyed our much of our time together and so did he. Despite all that my father was experiencing he still enjoyed the simple pleasure of a cappuccino from a local coffee shop. Were we happy? No, not at all. That did not stop joy. In my life and in others I have seen joy in the midst of sorrow, pain and even death.
We need to allow ourselves the ability to experience joy. This often involves slowing down and actually paying attention to and experiencing our lives. We can have goals and quests for worthy ideals but we need to expect that there will be bumps on those journeys. Let not our pursuits rob us of our joy. I have observed people in pain struggling to be happy at Christmas, the supposedly happiest time of the year. In their struggle, these poor souls not only fail to obtain happiness but they deprive themselves of their joy.

Can we still pursue happiness? Yes, but don’t expect to catch it and keep it. Happiness will come and go, and that is alright. Do not run from sorrow especially when the seasons of life call for it. Hold fast to joys, especially the simple ones. Joys can be our greatest treasures in times of tribulation. At all times take pleasure in kindness, smiles and love. In this challenging life, when happiness seems so far off, remember that there can still be great joy in the journey.

©Scott D. Wilson 2014

The Podcast is Up and Running!

I rarely directly ask for help here, but I AM asking now! I need everyone’s help!

I want to let everyone know that my podcast has launched successfully, with three episodes published, and the fourth to be released on Monday, Apr 14. I have 8 more interviews recorded, edited and scheduled for weekly releases, every Monday. I am recording more people every week to stay ahead of schedule. This podcast will run smoothly, with at least one new episode every week.

Make Your Someday Today is available on iTunes right now. 
I am waiting for acceptance to Stitcher, Windows, and Blackberry. You can also listen to it, or download it directly from my website. To be totally honest, the website is rough, but it works. Now that I have a grip (slippery, but it is a grip) on the podcast, I am going to focus on the web page.
When you listen to the show, please go to the website and leave comments on the show notes. If you download from iTunes (or any of the other sources mentioned) please go back after listening, subscribe to get future episodes automatically and leave me a 5 star review!
A few details:
The podcast is focused on helping you succeed, in any goal. I believe that reaching success requires the same steps whether you are trying to lose 50 pounds, write a book, run a marathon, or get A’s in school. It is an interview-based show (most of the episodes, at least) so you won’t be listening to me for the entire show, but rather others who faced challenges and yet persevered to reach success, and now are returning that success to others. You may know of some of my guests, especially if you already listen to podcasts, but the majority of my guests are going to be people like you and me, who set a goal, worked hard, and achieved success. We will learn their strategies.
Most of the interview shows run about 40 minutes. The non-interview shows run 15-30 minutes. The first episode was rough (in terms of sound quality) but I quickly got better.
  • The first episode is my story, and why I feel that I can help you succeed in your goals.
  • The second episode is about how the podcast will work, and the four key steps in succeeding at anything.
  • The third episode is a podcaster/entrepreneur who had plenty of challenges, and stepped outside his comfort zone to help create success for others around the world.
  • The fourth episode (available Monday, Apr 14) is a major blogger (250K hits a month) and cookbook author, who teaches a common sense way to enjoy life and still lose weight.
  • The fifth (available Monday, Apr 21) is the first LoseIt member. Many LoseIt friends will make an appearance on the podcast over the next 2-3 months.
  • The sixth episode will be a podcaster from Wisconsin who experienced a ton of challenges, and yet rose to become a successful business woman and entrepreneur.
  • The seventh will be a LoseIt member from Canada.
  • The eighth is a science podcaster, with 180K downloads a week.
If you want to know more, you need to subscribe and listen! And if you like what you hear (and so far, everyone is giving me good reviews) PLEASE tell others about the podcast in your preferred social media platform. (And a second reminder to leave a 5 star review on iTunes. That is critical to helping others find me easily in the iTunes directory, because placement is based on reviews.)

New Year’s Resolutions!

Pop quiz: This year, my New Year’s resolution is: ___________
How many of you already have an answer for that question? I’m willing to guess that many of you answered that question by saying one or more of the following:
·         More Exercise
·         Better Calorie Control
·         Eat Healthier Foods
·         More Water
·         Quit Smoking
You may even have resolutions to:
·         Start That Blog
·         Write Your Book
·         Start a Business
·         Start Your Own Cold Shower Therapy Challenge (Okay, probably not that.)
Those are very good goals. I wish power and success for you to help you reach your goals in that you will start in 2014.
Wait. What?
As I write this, it is Tuesday, December 17.  The New Year is 15 days away. Why are you waiting until January 1 to start working on your resolutions, which is really only another word for “goals”?
Are you going to magically have more strength, willpower and decision-making skills in 2014 that you don’t already have? Will it be any easier to buy healthy foods in 15 days than it is now? Is 2014 the “Year of Guaranteed Success” but only for journeys that are started in that year?
Pretty ridiculous ideas, aren’t they?
No, the real reason is that right now, for the next two weeks, you will be bombarded with feasts, parties, events, meals and gifts of foods. The temptation of food will be omnipresent. You will be focused on all those activities for the next 2 weeks. Those temptations will steal time from you and you will be unable to go out and walk in the morning, or up a flight of stairs at work. You won’t have the opportunity to say “No, thank you” to that second (or third, or fourth) cocktail at the office party. You won’t have the budget to drink water instead of your daily  Caramel-Mocha-Mint-Latteccino (venti size, of course.)
Pretty ridiculous excuses, aren’t they?
You will have the same time, energy, budget in 2014 that you have right now. However, in you will be missing one thing that you currently have: 15 more days to work towards your goal, if you start right now! That is two weeks toward reaching your goal, two weeks toward creating a new habit, two weeks closer to success.
Additionally, in 2014, you probably will have an additional 1-3 pounds around your midsection from all the eating that you will do. (Great–more weight to lose!)
But here is what will happen to most people. You are going to wait to start your resolutions. And then, on New Year’s Day, you are going to wake up, and say, “Well, today is a holiday, and all the college bowl games are on, so I’ll start my resolution tomorrow.” The next day is a Thursday, and you all know that the best day to start anything is a Monday, so let’s just wait until…2015?
I am optimistic by nature, but a realist by experience. Most people quit on their goals. Many never even start. And that is too bad, because I believe that anything is achievable, as long as you start and never quit.
By the way, for any goals/resolutions such as weight loss, increased activity, smoking cessation, do you know the absolute best to start working toward that goal? No? The best time was any time before right now, so that you wouldn’t have as far to go before reaching success.
But since I don’t have a time machine, I can’t send you back into the past to let you restart, so the next best day is today. Right now.
If not now, when? If not you, who?

But even I have a resolution, effective today. I will avoid eating the delicious Caramel Cashew Chex Mix that I made last Sunday in preparation for upcoming holiday parties, and now stored in a 2.5 gallon Ziploc bags out in our freezing garage. And, like many people working toward goals, I am going to remind myself of that resolution/goal every day. (Because this morning I was unsuccessful in holding myself to this resolution.)
What is YOUR goal (not a “resolution”)? When are you starting?