Things I Do: Annoy My Family

I got up early to get crankin’ on some of this self-help book I’m writing for one of those guru type guys. The good thing about writing a book intended to motivate people and change their lives is that I kinda get wrapped up in the energy of it all. But I also get wrapped up in the seriousness and preachiness of it. Is “preachiness” a word? Well, I’m making it one.

What I have to remember is that, while I’ve been up since 6:00 a.m. writing about how you can delegate this and free up your time and how to measure and define happiness, the rest of my family has not. They wake up, well, cranky and all they want to do is stumble downstairs, sleepy eyed, and plunk down in front of the TV or with their Nintendo DSs, and wake up slowly. My wife doesn’t want to wake-up at all. And me? I’m on my 2nd cup of coffee and I’m all “up with people” and “life is what you make it” and all I get in return is, “Dad …breakfast is what you make it. I want a dip egg.”

One thing about “motivational writing” is that you’re supposed to employ a trick where you take a regular, every-day, common experience and use it to uncover an “a-ha moment.” Sometimes writers go big, and they compare our work-a-day lives to the great tales of achievment throughout history, or to the Grand Canyon and the hourly, daily, monthly, yearly, and millions of years of flowing water that carved it, and you and I are supposed to be all, like, “oh, totally, I just need to be consistent like the flowing river …always moving forward, never stopping, and eventually my life will be a deep, cavernous, ravine.” Or something.

So how would I put “waking up early” and “waking up slowly” and “writing” and “annoying” into a single parable or lesson?

Maybe I go with the idea that kids know what happiness is and unlike us grown-ups, they aren’t afraid to do exactly what makes them happy: a lazy morning, some cartoons or video games, and an egg and toast (prepared by Dad). The take-away line would be “find your source of happiness and start there.”

Or maybe I could go with the Grand Canyon and how, over the thousands of years and decades, the path it eventually carved wasn’t it’s only path. I could look up and probably find out that hundreds of miles away are the fossils and evidence of another canyon, and there was a river twice as large as the Colorado River and for some unknown reason, it dried up. The take-away would be “it’s OK if one path you follow and put all your energy into, one day, isn’t as exciting as it once was and you completely change course and try something new. It’s what the Colorado River did and look how that went.”

And to each of those, you the readers are supposed to be, like, “wow …I’m going to go annoy my family with my positivity but I’m going to help them realize how great life can be.”

So now I need to leave you with a take-away from this blog, I guess. I’m leaning towards the first lesson – that kids know “happy” and “happiness” and we grown-ups introduce all sorts of worry (debt) and uncertainty (trust in people, a job working for someone) into our lives and we lose track of what truly makes us happy. It’s not the paycheck or the things we bought on credit that make us happy, it’s the time it buys us to get back to doing that thing we truly love: sleep-in, get up and watch cartoons all morning, and not-be-annoyed by anyone or anything.

See? You’re inspired, right?

With that, I’m going to go grab one of my kids’s Nintendo DS devices, make myself another cup of coffee (no, not with the DS …it doesn’t make coffee …maybe I’ll make coffee, then sequester the DS device), and play some New Super Mario Brothers.

Happiness. Realized.

Things I Don’t Do: Write Enough; Live Enough; Be Bold Enough; Be Brave Enough

I have 4 writing clients, I’m contracted to ghost-write a book (I wish I could tell you about it but, well, “ghost-writers” can’t share that stuff), and I’m writing another guy’s memoir. I met with a guy on Thursday who runs two really great little businesses and he might hire me to write his blog, his Facebook statuses and tweets, and tell his story.

“Tell your story.” That’s what I tell my writing clients. I say, “you … you’re business …it has a story.” And I always pause for dramatic effect like I”m acting in a made-for-TV movie. I’m not going to lie, I might even sip coffee between “you” and “you’re business” just to make the point more powerful and warm. I’m forever a salesman.

However, I don’t always follow my own advice. Maybe I think things in my head like, “well, I’m writing so much for other people … (sigh, sip coffee) …maybe I don’t have time to write for myself. And ….well …(pause, look up-right, shrug shoulders) …who wants to read what I write, anyway.” I want to write a blog that is part #DaddyBlog, part writing advice, part humor, and part life advice. Not to mention some posts that I want to write to market my writing business and ghost-writing services, and some other blog entries simply about my kids and their soccer teams. Who would read a blog like that?

Maybe I need 5 or 6 blogs?

Maybe I just need to write a blog that caters to the unmotivated and slightly scattered among us who call themselves A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. simply because society told us all we must have a condition since we automatically chase shiny things for as long as it takes until we see another shiny thing.

Or maybe we’re chasing rabbits to a wonderland.

What’s better? A blog with lots of posts, written from the heart and whenever ideas pop into your head? Or a blog with nothing on it?

Take that one step further . . . what’s better? A life with lots of adventures, trials and errors, stops and starts, old friends, and a constant stream of new friends and acquaintances, experiments, and big ideas all mixed in with grace and humility, some silliness, huge belly laughs, building Legos and playing Nintendo DS for hours at a time with your kids, a few glasses of wine every now and then and, sometimes, a few too many glasses of wine, dancing and singing (even if the dancing and singing is a little off beat and out of tune)  . . . or is it better to have a well focused life with nothing in it?

My new year’s resolution is this …I won’t be afraid to write on this blog random things that I know very few people will read. But it will be a metaphor for the rest of my new year’s resolutions …to not be afraid to do random things that very few people will do, and I won’t care if I do them well, fail, or make history. I’ll just have fun doing things.

I’ll write your story if you ask me or hire me . . . and now I’m going to write my story, too.

Oh, and if I was 17 or 18 years younger, I’m guessing I’d love this song, I’d learn all the words, and I might even find myself singing this very loudly in a bar along with a bunch of other people. Agree?

Things I Do: Recap The Bachelor at

Happy New Year, one and all!

Wanna hear stuff about  spunkybeanThe Bachelor, and my 2012 Voter’s Guide? It’s sorta hard to explain, but once again I’m recapping every sordid, tragic, heartbreaking, and dramatic episode of The Bachelor on spunkybean, and this season’s analysis will go a long way towards determining the next President of the United States. OK, well, I guess that wasn’t so difficult to explain after all.

Lots riding on The Bachelor this year. I expect Fox News to be calling me soon and I’ll be offering thoughtful political analysis. I’m just waiting for that phone to ring. Any minute now. I just know they’ll call. And when I appear on Fox, what’s my best color? I’m thinking green tones.

Last night’s season premier of everyone’s favorite televised reality dating show kicked off and I’m here to tell ya …I’m here … to tell ya … but not here. But here. Over at spunkybean.

It’s gonna be a super fun season and I hope you, your kids, your best friends at work, and the three people you’ve Friended on Facebook but can’t remember why …I hope all of you will watch along and read along with me the entire season.

Get started now. Thanks for reading.

And again …HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Things I Don’t Do: Exercise; Watch Movies

Can you believe it’s been nearly 4 entire months since I jogged, ran, climbed stairs, rode a bike, lifted weights, swam, or lifted anything heavier than 7 pounds? And yet, because of the 4-Hour Body diet, I’ve hardly put on any weight (just don’t ask me about my cholesterol).

So, like the rest of everyone, I’m resolving to exercise more in the New Year. My lungs have been feeling GREAT lately, so I’m thinking it’s about time I push their capacity a bit. I’m going to start with some brisk walking at the track inside a church by my house. It will be me and a dozen old people – I guess I could also try speed-walking at the mall if I find I really like talking about Medicare, Medicaid, and whether or not Tom Bosley or Wilford Brimley is a better product pitch man. Don’t laugh …brisk walking is where I’ll start. I’m not proud of it …I used to run miles at a time, and charge up hills and stair cases, and I’d mix in push-ups and down-ups, and deep knee bends and sit-ups and push-ups …hey …I’m gonna start slow and see how my lungs react. Maybe someday I’ll be Superman, again.

Also, I was going to make a “Top-10 Movies of 2011” list for spunkybean, and then I realized I only watched 6 movies for the entire year. Yes, I’m sure I watched some Disney Channel originals about talking dogs, hamsters, or chipmunks, but I’m not going to count those. Six movies! That’s it! I blame Obama …or possibly the Republican controlled Congress. Somebody is sabotaging all my time.

It’s funny, actually …before I had kids, I had all sorts of time and what did I do with that time? I guess I watched alotta TV and movies. Now, the cinema (be it the big movie-plex or the home theater) is a novelty and something I never do. The movie industry said 2011 yielded the lowest theater attendance in almost 20 years and they pointed to many possible factors, but my theory is this: Gen X was the “greatest generation” for movie makers and production companies. If we had time to kill, “watch movies” was always at the top of our list. And now that all us Gen Xrs are having kids, coaching soccer, working (something experts said Gen X would never do), and picking up hobbies, and because we don’t have any sustainable, increasing, or expendable income …we’ve stopped going to the movies.

You might ask …what about the Boomers and Millenials, who’s numbers nearly quadruple the Gen X numbers? Well …sorry to tell you …those generations aren’t “movie goers” in the same way we were. Boomers gave up on movies long, long ago. Sure, they’ll see the occasional blockbuster, but mostly there’s “nothing at the movies” they want to see. They’re picky and fickle. Millenials are connected and texting and Tweeting and they don’t see the point of sitting somewhere for 2 hours and not using their cell phones. We Gen Xrs, we watched anything that would make a screen glow and we still would …if we had the time and money.

But worry not, Hollywood …in about a decade, you’re going to see an inexplicable bump in movie going again and you’ll wonder why? It will be because Gen X sent their kids off to college and we’ll get back to the movie theaters, and back to the foodcourts in the mall, and we’ll get you back in shape.

Wow, Don’s blog. What was this all about, anyway? Just ranting. Anything to keep me from having to exercise. And guess what …tomorrow I’ll tell you all about my burr type coffee grinder.

Things I Love: My Logitech Wave MK550 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

This blog entry has two purposes (three, actually). First, it’s a love letter to my new Logitech keyboard and mouse combo. Second, it’s an experiment to see if I can blog on the WordPress iPad app and include links and pictures, and then quickly post it to my blog. And third, a thank-you note to my Uncle for always having well reasoned and well-researched advice.

Let’s talk about the Logitech Wireless Wave MK550 Keyboard and Mouse combination. I’m writing a ton of stuff. Multiple blogs, a book (two books, actually), Twitter and Facebook posts, and all the emails that accompany those things. I’m at about 20,000 words per week and with the new book deal, and the end-of-January deadline, I’m going to push it towards 100,000 words before the end of the month. If you write quite a bit …get this keyboard. The angled keyboard is vastly superior to the over-angled keyboards from a few years ago, the wrist-wrest is comfortable, and what’s really amazing is the spring action keys and the keys are higher and lower based on the length of your fingers.

Everyone who writes should have this keyboard. I’m going to recommend this to Scott Westerman. He writes alot. Much of his writing is done while traveling, it seems …but truly …the man should love his typing instrument at least half as much as he loves his timekeeping devices.

In Scott’s blog today he mentions expressing gratitude. Well, in 2011 I’m grateful that through my friend Jeff Smith, I was lucky enough to meet Scott Westerman’s blog, his Facebook updates, and his Twitter feeds. Scott heads up the Michigan State University Alumni Association and he’s a masterful communicator and he expertly puts pieces of pop-culture together with business ideals and concepts, and writes in a way that makes you feel like he’s just riffin’ from his dorm room (not that a man his age or of his stature would be living in a dorm room …I’m just sayin’ he seems very accessible). He’s made me think, and think again, a few times and I think he’s made me a better alumni, better employee where I work, and better at this new writing hobby/side job I’m pursuing.

I hope he reads this. Hi, Scott.

Second, if you’re reading this and the comment section has a “Yay!” written there, I blogged quickly and efficiently from my iPad’s WordPress app. If you see “Boo, hiss!” you know it didn’t work. If you see a picture at the top of the Logitech Wireless Wave MK550, again, it worked. If you don’t …well, I likely just threw something across the room and people nearby might’ve heard an audible curse word.

And lastly, I have that keyboard because of my Uncle Jerry and because he said, even with a laptop, I should have a wrist friendly keyboard and by golly ….he was right. Now I’m thinking I need a 23″ monitor on my desk at home so when I’m at home, writing, I will have a big screen to look at, and a Cadillac keyboard at which I can sit and write.

I blogged something. I recommended something. I mentioned two people within the blog post which means it’s possible this entry will have a minimum of TWO readers.

Blot atcha tomorrow, ya’ll.


Things I Make: Don’s 2011 Christmas List, Updated

As far as me blogging about things I want and things I’m getting, this Christmas season has been a failure. I mean, I’m still getting gifts (which is awesome), but I’m not blogging as much as I wanted to. Fingers crossed, of course, that while America is spending record amounts of money on retail that some of those billions (or is it trillions) are being spent on me.

You might think blogging about and posting one’s Christmas wish-list is selfish and doesn’t represent the spirit of the holiday, but I have a brand new umbrella and a cool baseball cap to prove you wrong.

This morning, the kids whom I drive to school every morning (along with my own kids …I don’t want you to think I’m just picking up kids and driving them to school) gave me an umbrella (a really nice MSU umbrella) and a baseball cap that says “A Good Run.” This was completely unnecessary and unexpected, but made my day. I only wish today wasn’t sunny so I could try out this umbrella. And the hat? Well, I almost take it as a sign …I need to start running again. I need to start exercising again. I’ve given my lungs 4 solid months of nothing and they’re feeling pretty good. Time to take ’em out running again and see what happens.

So, I’ve taken off the hat and umbrella from my list, added a few things, and you can still get me something for Christmas – only 8 days remain.

  • cast iron skillet
  • J. Crew Essential Chino (32 waist)
  • new cologne
  • New! Adidas barefoot running shoes
  • New! another Aeropress (for work)
  • New! $20 iTunes gift card (so I can buy iPad apps)
  • starter guitar and lessons (well, mostly lessons …someone has offered
  • coffee from Chazzanno
  • Casio watch (G-Shock …$35 or $50 price range)
  • Burr type coffee bean grinder
  • small desk lamp
  • full exterior body detailing from Classic Appreciation
  • 24 ounce thermos
  • slippers (though I really like these sock/slippers I got when I was in the hospital)
  • board game: Wits n Wagers

Things I Think: This is Clever

A friend sent this to me and I’ve read it at least a hundred times to try and detect what sort of political propaganda is being hidden in the message, and for a change, my friend actually sent me something without a hidden agenda. I thought it was pretty good …but, if you read it and think this is some sorta Democrepublitea hate speak, leave a comment.

A pencil maker tells all his pencils 5 important lessons before putting each in their box:

1. Everything you do will always leave a mark.

2. You can always correct the mistakes you make.

3. What is important is inside of you.

4. In life, you will undergo painful sharpenings, which will only make you better.

5. To be the best pencil, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you.

And now, some AMAZING pencil art.

Things I Love: This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

I don’t typically use my blog to talk about my kids or to talk about anything but me, really. I usually figure nobody wants to hear about my kids and, out of respect, they’ve never really given me permission to use their likeness to promote my brand. But I gotta spend a moment talking about my li’l 5-year-old. It seems she REALLY wishes she had a baby sister or brother, so much so, she’s invented one. For years she’s wished her own name was Riley (instead of the name we gave her). When my 5-year-old plays with her stuffed animals, one of them is always named Riley.

She loves the name Riley.

Sadly, my 5-year-old is our third born, and she’ll always be the youngest – except in her mind. My daughter doesn’t have an imaginary friend – she has an imaginary little sister …named Riley. And at school when she recently drew a picture of our family, Riley was included and she told everyone about Riley, and she was so convincing, her teacher had to ask my wife, “do you have another daughter?”

She’s a born salesman, and like all good salesmen, she’s first convinced herself so it makes it easier to convince others.

In her mind, she’s a Dog Trainer, as well. And if you ask my Dad, according to my daughter, we don’t brush our teeth during the day at our house and Mom let’s her wear jewelry (Mom’s jewelry) to school.

My Dad always tells me, and has told me for years, that we’ll have our hands full with our little one, and it seems like he’s going to be right. And sadly, it’s nothing new …and he’s probably right.

Things I Make: Don’s 2011 Christmas List

Usually I like to make my Christmas wish-list public by Black Friday so my friends, family, and fans can take advantage of the deals and savings. I’m off to a late start and if you’ve already bought me something, I’m sure I’ll love it. Afterall, there were quite a few things that didn’t get purchased off my 2010 Christmas list or my 38th Birthday “I Love Don Week” wish-list. I’m still accepting any gifts listed there, as well.

But without further ado, here is my 2011 Christmas Wish-List. It’s just the starter list, and I’m still rounding out some other items and I think I forgot a few things that I wanted, but my wish-list is an ever-evolving work of greed – so keep checking back.

  • Pro Combat MSU baseball cap
  • Spartan or Cadillac umbrella
  • cast iron skillet
  • J. CrewEssential Chino (32 waist)
  • new cologne
  • coffee from Chazzanno
  • Casio watch (G-Shock …$35 or $50 price range)
  • Burr type coffee bean grinder
  • small desk lamp
  • full exterior body detailing from Classic Appreciation
  • 24 ounce thermos
  • slippers (though I really like these sock/slippers I got when I was in the hospital)
  • board game: Wits n Wagers

I think that’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll have quite a bit more to add and if you have a great idea that you’ve been thinking, like, “ya know, Don would really like such-and-such,” …be my guest and buy me whatever you want. I trust you all to know how to spoil me.

Merry Christmas.

There’s No Place Like Home (for the holidays?). Win a $100 EyeToons Card.

Note: This is NOT a real blog entry and NOT a real company. This is just a pretend blog entry written for someone else – written for one of my writing clients. I’m NOT giving away a $100 of anything.

Have you noticed there are fewer and fewer days remaining in November? It won’t stop. It’s inevitable. December will be here before you know it and cold weather will come along with it.

The only good thing about cold weather is that it gives us a great reason to light a fire, flick on the gas longs, put on a robe, have a cup of cocoa, and don the fuzzy bunny slippers. You have fuzzy bunny slippers, right? Well …slippers are slippers and warming your feet in front of the fire is one of the great things about winter.

At Zenith Homes, cozy fireplaces come standard.

So, let’s see your cozy fireplace and your cozy slippers. Send us your best cozy fireplace shot featuring your cozy slippers and  you’ll be entered to win a $100 EyeTunes card from Zenith Homes. Bonus points if you work a cup of cocoa into the shot. Have fun. Stay warm.