Interesting…

0Why

I want to be a dating coach.

…. Interesting. That wouldn’t have been my opening line.

Brain, what do you mean? It’s the truth, I want to be a dating coach.

Well yeah that is cool and all but what about the other stuff?

I’m not following you.

Dude really? NASA, Moving to Houston, Salsa dancing, Random girl tickling you in the bar – is any of this ringing a bell?

Haha oooohh you mean my life events! Yeah! Sounds awesome. The tricky part about all this is remembering the details. I am a writer therefore I should write. The equation is straightforward and the execution difficult. It appears Brain developed a writing phobia too, so I need to soothe back into the blogging thing. By the way, I still want to be a dating coach.

Barry why? It seems really random.

For the longest time I convinced myself that dating didn’t matter to me. I masked my frustrations with clever rationalizations and embraced the “lone wolf mentality” for years. Self-deception remains an insidiously effective poison. Behind that stoic shield of solidarity stood a vulnerable lifetime insecurity. In truth, my failings in the dating world made me feel extremely stupid. More than that – it felt like an invalidation of my masculinity. From the outside looking in, it seemed like no other men struggled with this issue. Clearly, that means there’s something wrong with me then? The symptoms of toxic relationships, manipulation, and scalding resentment played themselves out for years until finally I got the courage to diagnosis the underlying issue: ME. I refused to acknowledge and heal that deeply rooted insecurity, letting it embitter my view of women, men, relationships, and the whole goddamn universe. The time came to metaphorically look myself in the eye and ask, “no bullshit, what do you want?” The unapologetic answer is I want to amazing at dating! I want to own my masculinity and feel competent and attractive. In the process I could pull guys out of the rut where I started.

That’s all for now, until next time – Barry

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Invisible Obligations

Rip up the intangible contract.

Forgo the unwritten lease.

Abandon the silent script.

Every day I see people doing things not aligned with their best interests so that they can fulfill an Invisible Obligation. What is an Invisible Obligation? Barryiam-Webster defines it as “Unstated rules or obligations we unwillingly invent or conform to.” What’s wild about invisible obligations people is how tightly people grip onto to them. Many times these invented obligations have no real consequence attached to them either. So how do we spot an Invisible Obligation? It usually begins with the qualifier(s) must, should, need to, have to.

“Unstated rules or obligations we unwillingly invent or conform to.” – Invisible Obligations, Source: Barryiam-Webster

For example:

I must go to Kathy’s party or everyone will hate me.

I don’t like the way John acts but I should hangout with him since he asked 5 times.

I really need to get my parent’s approval before I consider moving out of this apartment.

Becky walks all over people but I have to keep my mouth shut or she’ll get mad at me too.

In all of the examples provided the person weaved a tale in which they were relinquished of control. The inconvenient truth of the matter is besides eating, drinking, and staying alive you do not have to do anything. Obviously, there are unpleasant consequences attached to living certain ways, but we always have a choice. Bucking expectations only feels impossible. Take a quick browse through your memory banks and I guarantee you can find instances of people boldly abandoning what’s typically expected. Maybe it’s the class clown who always pulled gags and interrupted lessons. Maybe it’s outspoken teen who mother’s insisted she “speak like a lady”. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. The difference between them and you is a willingness to make a different choice.

“Courage is your birthright.” – Mel Robbins

Don’t be ashamed of taking ownership of your own agency. All I ask is that we be courageous enough to replace “ I have to” with “I choose to.”

It’s late now, I choose to go to bed – until next time – Barry

Crazy things I’m up to: 2x Speed

In an effort to keep my hyper active mind at ease I engage in a number of self-imposed challenges. I often refer to them as my “experiments” because I feel like I’m treating myself like a guinea pig. My latest experiment is a reaction to my massive impatience and absurdly low attention span. The driving question was this:

“Is it possible to watch Netflix on 2x speed?”

Barry what the hell? Why would anyone want to do that?

Let me break it down like this: Time remains my most valuable asset. I don’t want to squander it all on a Netflix binge-a-thon, but I still want to consume entertainment. Besides I have trained my ears to listen to podcasts at 1.6x speed, a movie shouldn’t be THAT different!

Results so Far…

Turns out it’s pretty simple to get faster playback speeds on Netflix, just look for a Google Chrome extension and presto! I supercharged the speed on the Rom-Com America’s Sweethearts and the result? Totally lifechanging! 2x speed turned out to be way to jarring for my unadjusted eyes – I hit a sweet spot at 1.3x speed. My eyes hardly perceived the change in speed and the faster pacing made the corny jokes a lot funnier. It’s only been a day however so I’m confident I can get my eyes to adjust to watching a movie 2x with even practice. This feels a bit counterproductive, watching a bunch of movies with the goal of watching less movies…

The absurdity of it makes it more fun! – Barry

Plan B

The other day I learned something crucial about myself: I would rather die than be someone’s Plan B. Specifically to know that my partner essentially “settled” for me.

Even the thought of this coming pass deeply disturbs me. If I’m the romantic equivalent of a silver metal what stops them from chasing after the gold? Even if my partner eventually valued me at gold status how could I reconcile with not starting there? Or does that really matter in the end?

My personal history book is spattered with chapters of unrequited love so obviously I am biased. A one point little miss codependency hovered over my shoulder too and during that time I experienced death by gaslighting. I’ve out run manipulation three times over only to greet her at the finishline. I drove myself to extremes for hundreds of miles for people unwilling to walk the last ten feet. I do not say this to garnish sympathy – simply to demonstrate the dangers of being someone’s consolation price.

Jordan Harbinger said it best: “You’re treating them as a priority and they treat you as an option.”

Never settle for being someone’s Plan B: You’re either Plan A or Nay.

Until next time ✌ – Barry

Return to writing and ideas

Sometimes I have to rummage through the foxhole hole of my mind to find good ideas. Like earthworms they wriggle around in the dirt waiting to be uncovered. Occasionallly bad fertilizer causes mind rot and all the ideas die. So what do you do then?

My secret? Train your brain to think in stories. Even the average can be transmuted into a spectacle with the right story. A simple start begins with inner dialogue. For instance Instead of thinking, “I need to go to the store” try to a quirky twist to it, “I must adventure to the modern marketplace” or “I’ll need to rendezvous at the supermarket later.” Once practiced repeatedly your brain will naturally begin to dramatize even the tiniest moments. I love writing because it allows me to elevate my experience in a way that’s fun and entertaining.

And what’s life without a little fun? – Barry

Appreciation Invitation

In the flurry of day to day madness easily allows us to get lost in the mundane tasks of life. Slogging through emails, texts, notifications: it’s like playing a never-ending game of mental air hockey. In those moments of monotony, we can feel reduced to unfeeling biological automatons. Compounded over a long enough timeline the daily drudgery can chip away at vibrancy of the human spirit. To alleviate this condition, I extend a simple invitation: give appreciation.

Give honest appreciation to those people who hold a special meaning in your life. Express to them explicitly why they are important. Fill them with a sense of everlasting gratitude. In this department action is key – The intention to appreciate someone weights nothing compared to the gravity of authentic praise. If you need permission here it is.

I hope you accept my invitation to appreciation – Barry

Emotional Contraband

Don’t hide the evidence! Get rid of it!

As a passive viewer of a crime thriller it drives me crazy when characters do seemingly irrational things. Audiences of horror movies are acutely aware of this fact, “why do they always split up?” Ironically, our life is the exact same way. To an unbiased spectator we are the unwise teens who intentionally run into a dimly lit cave. Luckily, you have some control over the screenplay of your life.

Setting the Scene

Imagine a typically Wednesday. You’re just chilling on the couch when suddenly you hear a convergence of footstep just outside your door. Before you have time to respond a squad of burly men equipped with riot gear brutally invade your living space. The Captain rattles a saltine colored search warrant inches away from your face demanding answers! “Where is it!” His thundering voice howls with an unquenched rage, sweat beads gliding off of his bald head into his unkempt beard. The shock of the in the dramatic turn of circumstances leaves you paralyzed. “What the heck is going on?!”

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Hope you have a good lawyer!

Well the DEA (Department of Destructive Emotional Actions) got tipped off that you were illegally hoarding emotional contraband in your apartment.

“Emotional contraband?”

Yes, one the most insidious types of contraband there is to own. The law defines it as any physical object or memento that causes unnecessary emotional pain. For example: pictures of ex-partners, old love letters, gifts from now estranged friends. Why do we feel so deeply compelled to hold on to these objects when all they cause is pain? Well I do understand. I harbored a deep sense of guilt whenever I looked at this wooden hippo that was gifted to me from a former friend. She bought it in a cheap gift shop in Paris because it reminded her of me. After a silent feud we had not communicated in almost a year and half, but everyday this hippo sat on my office shelf reminding me of her presence. It hurt to look at that damn hippo as it drudged up conflicting memories, yet I voluntarily kept it in my line of sight. Without a doubt this falls under self-inflicted cruel and unusual punishment.

Emotional Contraband – any physical object or memento that causes unnecessary emotional pain. For example: pictures of ex-partners, old love letters, past gifts from estranged friends/family.

One day I gained the courage to throw it away. Guess what? I felt an overwhelming sense of relief afterwards. With that tiny act I purged myself from the guilt of that lost relationship.

What is your wooden hippo? – Barry

Work/Life Balance

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*I orignally wrote this for a Graduate Discussion assignment about Work/Life Balance and got carried away…*

My approach to Work/Life balance is simple: Take a systems perspective. By this I mean people should design a system in which balance in built into your schedule so that it not something that needs to be consciously performed. My primary strategies for maintaining balance fall into the following categories: scheduling, routines, rewards, boundaries. I like to think of this approach as the “Triple Redundancy” because if scheduling fails you can always rely on the other pieces of the system.

Scheduling

Recently I’ve begun preparing a weekly schedule in which I assign time slots in hour-long increments to all of my activities. The rigid items typically get inputted first so things like class, office hours, internship hours, morning routine. Secondly I look for spaces with the gaps to fill with miscellaneous activities I enjoy: Creative writing time, laundry, podcast, going for a walk. I find that adding fun things onto my schedule helps me treat them as a priority.

Routines

About nine months ago I began experimenting with a daily morning routine. A morning routine is a deliberate and habitual set of activities that an individual performs everyday. Creating and sticking to a morning routine has been beneficial for me because it gives me a sense of stability in a otherwise chaotic day. For those interested my routine looks like this:

Wake up 6am

Gym 1 hour

Shower 12 minutes

Meditation 10-20 minutes

Breakfast 25 minutes

Experience shows that my routine typically lasts around 2 hours so I never schedule anything to interfere with the first 2 hours of my day.

Rewards

Another tactic I exploit to maintain work life balance is a personal Rewards system. I have a mental contract with myself that if I perform certain activities I am allowed a very specific reward. One that has helped me get healthier is very straight forward: If I exercise during my morning routine, I am allowed to shower that day. Otherwise I am not allowed to shower. I LOVE taking showers so if I get lazy and miss the gym the punishment is I am not allowed to shower that day. I find the technique to be powerful, I typically do not go longer than 2 days without showering/exercising. Another experiment I’ve been running involves using visual rewards to reinforce behavior. For those interested look up “The Paper-Clip Strategy” and the “The Seinfeld Strategy”. These strategies are good for creating long term habit formation.

Boundaries

Lastly to maintain work life balance I have refined a clear set of boundaries around how I use my technology. Essentially a list of rules of engagement for my smartphone here are some for example:

  • No smartphone allowed in bedroom during bedtime
  • No checking email before my morning routine
  • No checking phone while I am driving
  • No  distracting social media apps allowed on my smartphone

I have also disabled most of the notification noises and alerts on my phone (with the exception of the default text message app).

Until next time – Barry

The Missing Ingredient

For a while I got the sense that something felt wrong. My commitment to embracing self-discipline remained rock solid. Besides the occasional cheat day my health was on point. Fortunate worked hard to keep skewing things positively in my favor – to the point where I started to think Lady Luck had a crush on me! If things are great why is there a thought gently nagging in the background of mind? What could I possibly be missing?

After two months of mulling it over I figured it out! The Missing Ingredient: FUN.

The most obvious things usually get overlooked. Somewhere along the way I forgot I that I’m allowed to have fun. It sounds stupid in it’s simplicity, but I think I feel into the trap of believing that being a real “adult” meant taking things seriously. Super seriously. Then I thought

“Like, seriously?”

Seriousness not a sustainable long-term strategy. To constantly approach things from a space of seriousness puts a limiter on the amount of joy one can feel. My mind’s default operating system is one of deep analysis of stringent rationalized thought. Running on this mode takes a huge power load so I’ve learned to let my mind unwind and embrace absurdity. We need to allow space for fun, creative, and uplifting thoughts. I borrowed Tim Ferriss’s question, “How can I make this more fun?” to spice up otherwise boring activities. It doesn’t require all that much extra effort either. Simple examples:

  • Jam some tunes and dance while you do house chores
  • Play with new words, phrases and emojis when you communicate
  • Occasionally indulge in “childish” interests or hobbies
  • Experiment with new foods/restaurants

Here’s my recipe:

Take a pound of Life

Grab a hand full of fun

Sharply flick the wrist…

“BAM!” – Now ya livin’!!

BAM

*recipe trademarked by Barry Crocker*

Pro tip of the day: Don’t watch scary movies if you live alone.

Barry, what the heck do you mean? Why would I ever do that to myself?

Okay fair point. I suppose this post is more a reminder for myself than general advice.

I L-O-V-E going to the movie theater. Being able to kick back in a reclining seat in a pitch-black room while facing a gigantic screen gives me a cool wave of catharsis. Sure, Netflix is nice, but it will never truly compare to the traditional theater experience. To support my love affair with movie going I signed up for Movie Pass. The gist of the service is members pay a flat rate of $10 per month and the service allows them to watch one unique movie per day everyday of that month. It enables movie loving fans to enjoy a ton of films without losing a ton of funds. Pretty awesome right??!! It’s essentially the Gold Ticket for cinema junkies like myself.

Within 15 minutes of receiving my Movie Pass card in the mail I was at the down the local AMC theater watching Deadpool 2. I might have an issue. Then I got a clever idea: What if I watched every single movie that comes out this summer?

My batting percentage isn’t 100% but I’ve been ripping through movies. My hot streak includes:

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Life of the Party
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Deadpool 2
  • Rampage
  • Hereditary

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Keep in mind that I don’t bother to watch trailers anymore so I took a real gamble watching Hereditary without any prior knowledge. Wanna hear something fun? It was a horror movie! My natural inclination is to avoid horror movies, but this one was actually good so no complaints here!

Truth be told I wasn’t terribly scared while watching the movie. The problem arose when I return to my apartment alone….

I jiggled my keys into the lock and suddenly froze.

What if there’s someone in there already?

Shit don’t be paranoid just go in, I’m sure no one is in there.

But how do you know? They could be standing REALLY still.

My adrenaline glands started juicing up my veins as the thought sunk in further. I put my ear to the outside of my apartment door for a second. Goddamnit! Why I am suddenly afraid, just go in! I unlocked the door and quickly flicked on the lights, half expecting to see an pale apparition of some sort waiting for me. My blood pressure began returning to a state of calm.

Whpew! Nothing here, but you know the killer usually likes to toy with his victims first………

Fuck! Your right! My eyes darted around the living for any signs of secret invasion. I opened up all the drawers then closets, cabinets, shower curtain and checked under the bed – twice!

Okay Coolio, I’m just being a freak right now. I slumped down onto the couch and began scrolling through Tinder.

Hmmmmmmmm

Can I help you with something?

Nope. We feel pretty safe right now, right?

Yep! No thanks to you I might add.

Okay I may have gone a teeny bit over board…

Leave me alone, trying to find a Tinderalla here man.

Fair fair, we just haven’t considered one thing.

Oh jeez, what now?!

HE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

The sad part is I jumped as I was writing this. Don’t watch scary movies if you leave alone – Barry

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Featured Image: Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash

Hereditary Image: A24PalmStar MediaWindy Hill Pictures

Why Everything We Do Matters

The philosopher in me comes out at the strangest times. Like, for example, while drunkenly slouched next to an air conditioner in my aunt’s apartment during a family party a few weeks ago. My subconscious finally arrived at a conclusion for my burning question, “Does anything we do actual matter?” After weeks of simmering in my mental Crockpot the answer arrived on a cool silver platter. Turns out I just needed to splash a few drips of Heineken before it was ready to consume. I won’t retype my entire conclusion here. Instead I’ll share my inebriated wisdom from its primary source: a screenshot of the enlightening drunk text.

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May wisdom find you always – Barry

Ghosting: Side Effects

Ghosting is a strange phenomenon born out of our technology based culture. For some it is an innocuous act of disappearance, for others it is a degrading sign of disrespect. I’ll come clean – I have ghosted two people before. Both times I genuinely believed it was the only viable option. No communication allows for a cleaner split. I slept with a clear coconscious for years until recently. Ironic that the term is called “ghosting” – the two connections I digitally severed reemerged in haunting dreams.

Drinking a bottle 20 proof hindsight has me rethinking my decision to ghost. Was the situation really so bad? Could those relationships have been salvaged over time? Did immaturity get the best of me? How has this person coped knowing I just vanished entirely from their lives? The frustrating thing is I can never ask outright. At most I can unblock, observe, and wish them well. These former connections remain a permanent smudge on my brain’s back window.  At the end of day I don’t regret it though. I used ghosting to gain emotional sobriety while stuck in a toxic environment. Past pains inform the present so I’ll probably never ghost anyone ever again.

Guess I’ll just continue living with ghosts. – Barry

*Photo by Pathum Danthanarayana on Unsplash *

The Idea Broker

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Writer’s block is that terrible creeping feeling you get in the back of your throat. The suffocation starts slow until finally your ideas perish. For months I suffered through this condition. The thought of a keyboard induced a hair tingling extra sensory sense of nausea. It was like being told to voluntarily walk the plank. Why would I ever submit myself to such madness? Here’s the other thing. Going for long periods of time without builds up an accumulated feeling of shame.

“Whatever happened to that blog of yours?”

“Are you still writing?”

Yes, well sort of….

I’ve been experimenting with prose on my mental typewriter. I’ve reading books and jotting down notes, that’s technically writing too. I suppose that’s not what you mean. You want to read what my mind conjures to me in fits of brilliance. The trouble with that is I do not permanently own a brilliant mind. At most I rent it for special occasions – at a premium might I add. So what’s the next best thing?

Promote yourself to role of an Idea Broker. Stock brokers buy and sell stocks with the knowledge that not every one will be a winner. Treat your ideas the same way. A poor idea expressed is better than a good one left to wilt. For ideas are beautifully fickle things. They temporarily possess us then flutter onto the next person until finally realized through creation.

Seth Godin said it best, “If you want to be a good writer my first question is this, ‘Where is your bad writing?’’

Until next time – Barry

Mission Statement

My Mission – To inoculate myself from Weakness. To forge a personality, mind, body and soul immune to Weakness.

Secondary Mission – Spread the vaccine to Weakness for those looking for the cure.

What is Weakness? – Weakness is any mindset, belief, force, person, place, or thing which prevents an individual from living a fully expressive and authentic life. It is anything that waters down the zesty flavor of the human condition.

What is not my Mission? – To propagate a formula which promises “perfection”. My life will serve as a blueprint for others, a recipe where the ingredients can be tailored for individual preferences. My mission is NOT altruistic. It is completely and entirely selfish. If my selfish actions breed altruistic consequences I will treat it as a benign coincidence.

Background – I spent the first eighteen years of my life living beneath my potential because I was convinced I wasn’t good enough. One-day out of the blue Courage seized me to commit a small act of personal defiance. That teeny act of defiance became the first insult in the war against Weakness. We’ve been engaged in battle every day since then.

Until next time – Barry

Two Tenets of my Philosophy

There are two core tenets of my personal philosophy. I like to think of them as “bedrock beliefs” simply because they are so ingrained into my psyche.

Belief One: There are things I give a shit about and things I don’t give a shit about.

On the surface this appears to be dangerously similar to puberty fueled teen apathy. It’s not. Lend me your imagination for a moment. In my mind are two humongous ice buckets. In black sharpie someone with sloppy handwriting wrote “Give a Shit” and on the other bucket well… the guy didn’t even bother to label that one. These buckets represent attention and focus. At any one point in time there are a million people trying to convince you to care about all sorts of things from shoe lace shortages, bee hive costumes, and any random castophre on reported nightly news. Even the most compassionate of us cannot care about it all. My approach? Pick a few to care deeply about and let everyone else do the same. Someone will find those missing shoe laces eventually.

Belief Two: ALL things are temporary.

Yes ALL things. Even you reading this right now. When expressed this belief tends to cause controversy, I get things like “so what’s the point?” or “that’s just an excuse not to care about anything”. These responses fail to capture what I’m thinking because they operate on the assumption that permeance makes something valuable. It’s actually the complete opposite. Any student in exposed to basic Economics understands the principle of Scarcity. Limited resources remain valuable due to their rarity. Our false sense of perpetuity leads us to take the most valuable things for granted. My mindset is this: If I understand that all things are temporary and, thus always susceptible to loss, I will take greater measures to enjoy it while it’s currently available. Contrasting this outlook with false permeance shows that I care deeply because I always anticipate loss in the near future.

What are your two core beliefs?? – Barry