Invincibility – Revisited

Today’s “Daily Stoic” reading and associated journal prompt involve one of Epictetus’ most popular pieces of writing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important or a bit profound:

Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice. – “Discourses”, 1.18.21

Two short sentences.

A question and an answer.

So much to digest and ponder over. (In fact, I did a blog post about this subject a year ago…)

First off, is invincibility even truly attainable? Or is it some sort of religious/spiritual/philosophical ideal that should be pursued with full knowledge that it will never be attained? Is it an end goal, or a horizon like Buddhahood or Christlike perfection?

I see it as the latter. Something to desire, to strive for, to put into our daily practice but realizing that we will never be invincible and that we will be upset by things outside of our reasoned choice.

I have two reasons for seeing it this way. First, Epictetus seems to treat invincibility as part of a binary. Either you are invincible or you are vincible not invincible. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in the real world. Control over your emotions exists on a spectrum, it isn’t “yes, I’m in control” or “no, I’m not in control”, it is “I am more (or less) in control now than in the past”. Controlling our emotions involves practice and building the mental muscles necessary to handle the challenges, and the challenges are infinite.

Second, to see invincibility as attainable is to see the possibility of becoming THE PERFECT STOIC. But perfection in this sense can’t exist. Our minds are a combination of genetics, free will (maybe), and reactions to our environment. We can’t control two of those and free will may not really be a thing. I think this is one of the weaknesses of Stoicism (at least as an attainable ideal), it doesn’t recognize that there is more to our mental processes than just being strong and using our rational mind. Mental health issues are real and they distort these processes, some people can’t just use their rationality to overcome their emotions. Trauma, chemical differences, and a plethora of known and unknown processes shape how we respond to the world around us. We are more than just reason.

But, I still think it is something to shoot for. There is great joy in pursuing something that you’ll never attain, struggling just to struggle, pushing to see how far you can get before this moist meat-suit that we call a body decides to return to the dust from which it came. At least it is to me.


Day 3 Update of “Operation: Shut Off Facebook and Become Who You Want to Become”

Yesterday was my first real weekend and it went really well. I went to the gym, got my 10,000 steps in, read, meditated, did some coding, practiced yoga, and kept my calorie consumption where it should be. I even went out for a friend’s birthday party and stuck to my diet… and I didn’t even drink alcohol! I actually had a really good time, I’m not sure why but I felt more open, personable, and interested than I normally do in social situations where I don’t really know anyone. It certainly helped that Anna was there, that I sat next to our friend, and that two of the people next to us were SUPER talkative and friendly. Sometimes extroverts can be overwhelming to me, but these people were good conversationalists and asked us real questions. We chatted about world travel, the military (he was a vet), and drug use very openly. I think it helped that I didn’t have booze or Facebook to retreat into.

So, it was a good day. I didn’t lose any weight (but that’s not surprising given the 7 lb drop on Friday) but the weekend was productive and off to a good start. I have reasonable goals for today (several of which I’ve already accomplished) and my partner and I are heading down to the Dirty Myrtle tonight to make the most out of a quick work trip I have down there on Monday.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

In With the New

Pre-script: I’m sorry for filling this blog with just random “self-help” and personal routine stuff. I do plan on blogging about current issues, sexuality, and such more soon. And, of course, I’m always looking for questions for my AMA (Shit, I need to update that page with the last few “Ask PJ” posts). If you’ve got something you’d like me to talk about or have a question about relationships, sexuality, anarchy, drugs, or anything else that’s on your mind, or maybe you just want to tell me I’m wrong, then you can submit your thoughts anonymously to the following links: Sarahah or SurveyMonkey

This probably won’t surprise the two people who read this blog, but I kind of thrive off of new experiences. Variety is really the spice of my life and I find myself feeling confined, suffocated, and bored when things become routine. That part of my personality has driven me to live in 8 cities since 2007, bike across the country twice, explore drugs and new sexual experiences, and work at five different places since graduating college in 2009. I love that I’m adventurous and my personality pushes me into new, unexplored (by me) territory regularly.

Unfortunately, seeing “stability” as a four-letter word also has a downside. It is very, very difficult for me to stay interested and motivated with something long term. I get really excited about things and then burn out fairly quickly. I’ve been trying to be better about that, with mixed success. One thing I’ve come to realize is that I need to refresh my practices every few months. My morning routine has been awesome but it has started to feel a little stale and I’m happy that my current journal (Go Journal) ran out of pages and I started a new one (Phoenix Journal).

These two tools have a fairly similar goal but go about it in different ways. They both want to help improve your life, which is awesome… I need all the tools I can get. GoJournal is less of a daily time commitment, more philosophical, and great for reflecting on your life. The daily questions are mostly the same and include things like “What am I grateful for today?”, “How can I keep my life in balance today?”, and “What do I want to focus on today?”

Which are all great questions and they help get me into a strong mindset in the morning. Unfortunately, my answers got quite repetitive (particularly with that last question). I can only say I want to focus on finishing work, eating healthy, getting exercise, and reading so many ways. In general, my days are pretty repetitive.

Phoenix Journal, on the other hand, is much more “nuts and bolts” to improving my life and it is a significantly larger time commitment each day and week. I spent nearly two hours this morning answering the set-up questions (see below) and planning my first 3-month, week, and daily plans. There is a few philosophical type daily questions but a lot of the journal’s focus is on incremental steps to accomplish long-term goals. I think my daily commitment to this journal is going to be about 30-45 minutes (as opposed to 5-10 for the Go Journal).

That all being said, I’m super excited to start this. I’ve got that “New Relationship Energy” (or NRE for all you polyamory familiar people out there) with the journal and I think it is more in line with my personality and goals than Go Journal. And, as a way to help me flesh out my thoughts and educate and maybe motivate others, I’ve decided to share my answers to the questions I completed this morning to get the journal started. If this sounds like a good plan for you I highly recommend you pick up the journal and make it a part of your morning routine (or use it to create a morning routine).

Oh, first some quotes that I highlighted. Some of these are kind of cliche but they are powerful (at least to me):

“If you realize that there will never be a time outside of this moment to act in alignment with your full potential, then you will have discovered the key greatness.”

“In order to create a powerful vision and goal, try to connect it as tangibly as you can with the four main categories of life: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.”

“Your thoughts preceded your actions. Your repeated actions create your habits. Your habits create your life.”

“If you get into the habit of going to sleep and waking up at consistent times, exercising regularly, and eating the right foods – your levels of mental clarity, energy, and focus will advance tremendously.”

“By spending just a few minutes every morning reading and touching base with your future visions, you will set your focus and intentions in alignment with these aims. This is important because our aims manifest our reality. A routine of exercise, meditation, visualization, and planning, every morning, can radically transform the quality of your life.”

“Whether or not you achieve your goals, true success lies in having the courage to live up to your own word.”


The journal starts with asking me to make a commitment:
I, Peter, vow that from this point forward I will be a person of my word. I will no longer treat my time as a commodity. From this moment on I will endeavor to be the greatest I can for myself, my loved ones, and the world. I give my word to make time for this journal every day until it is completed, and in doing so bring to life my dreams, my purpose, and my highest potential.

Then, a vision of my future:
I want to be a successful writer. This will allow me the freedom to travel, security to care for my family, and feelings of accomplishment.

I want to become healthier and stronger. I want to try out for American Ninja Warrior, model nude, be considered sexy and attractive, and see how healthy I can become. Strength and health will allow me to travel, climb mountains, go on yoga retreats, improve my sex life, and live a longer, healthier life. It may even allow me to live to the point where death is an option.

I want to heal others using yoga, meditation, massage, therapy, or something similar. I want to be able to help people recover from past trauma and injuries, as well as reach their peak potential.

I want to be a leader in my community through volunteering and philanthropy. I want to lead my community into a stronger, better future.

I want to be financially secure so that I can provide for my family, travel without concern, and have a few luxury items.

I want to learn as much as possible, which will increase the chances that creation and creative solutions will come to my mind. 

Next, a future I fear:
I’m afraid of wasting my life and dying alone and unloved. The ideas in my head will die with me, never brought to life. The years pass and I live a mediocre life without travel or adventure. I don’t end up seeing the world from a mountaintop or dive into the ocean or experience silent meditation or try new drugs. Instead, it is a sad, mediocre life without financial security or new experiences. I don’t truly live and I never find my potential. 

Now, it gets down to time frames to make the kind of vague “life” into goals with a Three Year Vision:
In three years I want to be:
– A writer with at least one published novel, a bunch of short stories, and The Adventures of Higgins Complete
– In the best shape of my life and I have run at least one 100-mile race and several obstacle course races
– I have started training along a healers path of yoga, massage, or therapy
– I am a volunteer in the community with the Unitarian Church and as an end-of-life doula. I continue to work with CFCLT to assist low-income families and also volunteer at a hospital or animal shelter
– I am debt-free (except for my mortgage), have maxed out my Roth IRA for 2017, 2018, and 2019, and I have set up investment accounts for my nieces and nephews
– I have read over 200 books and developed new skills (TBD)
– I’ve gone on at least one meditation retreat and one yoga retreat

Three years is still way in the future, so the next step is a 12-week vision (which takes up all the active pages of this journal).
– I want to end my habit of drinking alcohol and have a healthy relationship with it
– I will have finished my Rite of Passage podcast series, written/submitted three pieces of essay size writing and one short story
– Near my goal weight of approximately 155 lbs and 15% body fat, run a half-marathon, and found an active hobby that I attend weekly (MMA, dance, rock-climbing, etc.)
– I have attended the Unitarian Church several times, I donate to the CFCLT, I have donated blood at least once, and found a new volunteer activity
– My Roth IRA is maxed out for 2017, I’m caught up on my taxes, my credit card debt is $0, and I have paid down 25% of one of my student loans
– I’ve found an end-of-life doula training session to attend and I’ve read one book each on meditation, yoga, massage, and therapy.
– I’ve finished 15 books, completed all the free CodeAcademy courses, and the Tableau courses I paid for on Coursera
– I am practicing yoga almost daily and attend at least one group class per week

After all that prep work it gets down into even more incremental details. I hope this works for me, but even if it doesn’t completely (or I flop on it like I have so many other times) I know I will learn something from it.


Day 2 Update of “Operation: Shut Off Facebook and Become Who You Want to Become”

Things went well yesterday. I found myself still occasionally opening the browser on my phone mindlessly and typing “f” in the search bar so that I could log on to Facebook. I don’t really miss it, but the muscle memory is there during times when I’m bored, procrastinating, or waiting for a work thing to load or download.

According to the scale I lost about 7 lbs yesterday, but I know that isn’t all fat. It is mostly water weight from a super salt heavy weekend and using up all my glycogen stores from fasting. Realistically, I probably lost about 1/2 of fat from the fast day. I stuck with my fitness and nutrition plan really well yesterday too, I only ate in my 8-hour window, consumed 1721 calories (despite having a small piece of cheesecake), walked 15,898 steps, and burnt 1,254 calories from exercise. My exercise was a 6.5-mile run, 20 minutes of yoga, and a little walking. I’m a little worried now that the weekend is here because there is less structure and more distraction.

Oh well, I’ve set reasonable goals for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday… basically go to the gym 1-2 times, run daily (even just for a mile), meditate daily, read when possible, get 10,000 steps daily, and keep those calories in check. Any other accomplishments are nice bonuses.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger

 

Curiosity Over Certainty

It is pretty likely that everyone reading this is human. It is also pretty likely that the majority of creatures that we interact with, love, and hate are also human. So, I think it is very important to try and understand why we humans think the things we do, act the way we do and find ourselves disagreeing so strongly with each other. We are all made up of the same flesh and bones but we come to drastically different conclusions on things. The easy way out is to dehumanize other people, to assume there is something wrong with them, that they are wrong (obviously, because my perspective is so clearly right).

But, when we take the easy way out we do ourselves and our community a disservice. The truth is, I should not be certain I am right because there really is no “right” perspective. All of our points of views and opinions and passions and habits are shaped by a combination of our genetics and environment, and if I had grown up in a different place or time then my views would be different than they are now. I have had your life, then my thoughts would be very similar to yours. If I lived the life my mother did then I would be a conservative Christian who abhors drug use, sexual promiscuity, non-heterosexuality, and non-monogamy. If my mother had grown up with my life then she would be taking Molly, engaging in pleasurable acts with many consenting adults, explore bisexuality, and tend towards polyamory.

Conflict arises when we see our perspective as an absolute truth, which eliminates opportunities for understanding, compromise, and love. As is stated in “Difficult Conversations” by Sheila Heen, Bruce Patton, and Douglas Stone (my current morning read):

There’s only one way to come to understand the other person’s story, and that’s by being curious. Instead of asking yourself, “How can they think that?!” ask yourself, “I wonder what information they have that I don’t?” Instead of asking, “How can they be so irrational?” ask, “How might they see the world such that their view makes sense?” Certainty locks us out of their story. Curiousity lets us in.

So, as I encounter people who make decisions or have points of view that don’t make sense to me I’m going try and be more curious. What information do they have? What have life experiences led them down that path? What would make a reasonable, rational person have that point of view?  Whether they are Trump or Clinton supporters, atheists or evangelicals, straight-edge or drug use advocates, polyamorous or monogamous, vegan or meat-eaters, white nationalists or cultural internationalists, these people I meet all have experiences that differ from mine that has drawn them to their current perspective… and I would gain a lot by being curious, learning their stories, and striving for understanding.

It can gain a lot of understanding and compassion simply by changing, “They are wrong/evil/should be destroyed” to “What would have to happen in my life so that I would agree with what they are saying? What experiences would push me in that direction?”


Quick Day 1 Update of “Operation: Shut Off Facebook and Become Who You Want to Become”

Things went pretty well yesterday. I was (and still am) riding that productivity high that comes from starting a new project. I took yesterday off of work (except for sending out an invoice and a few quick emails), which helped with my overall productivity but I think quitting Facebook has freed up about 1-2 hours of time. My only concern is that I’ll find some other shitty thing to replace it… so I got to stay on top of that.

Yesterday, I fasted and ended up losing about 7 lbs (probably less than 1/2 lb was actual fat and the rest was just water weight, digestive tract, glycogen, etc.). According to my phone, I consumed 550 calories and burnt about 1600 from exercise. I know that counting exercise calories is a really imperfect science and I’m not really aiming for certain numbers (on the scale or otherwise) but keeping count does help motivate me.

Overall:

  • woke up at 6am and did my morning studies
  • ran five miles
  • spent an hour at the gym
  • did 30 minutes of yoga
  • recorded 30 minutes of a podcast
  • finished one book
  • went grocery shopping
  • spent 30 minutes on CodeAcademy
  • wrote a blog post
  • cleaned the house
  • meditated
  • took an ice shower
  • started GRE studying

Today is off to a good start as well and I hope to keep busy. I’ve found that when I give myself too many moments of downtime I ended up procrastinating, so moving quickly from task to task is important for me. I’ve also found that masturbation seems to kill my productivity, so I’m trying to save that for the end of the day (daily orgasms are important for your prostate health… so go do that).

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger 
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger

Here we go again!

So, the holidays are finally over… I guess technically they ended a month ago but with my partner’s birthday in late January and my birthday in mid-October, it feels like the holidays never end. The new year is off to a steady but chaotic start and I am pretty unhappy with how much I’ve let myself go. Eighteen months ago I was in the best shape of my life and now I am closely approaching the worst. It is time to bunker down and make some changes, so I’m going to get back into the habits I was in when I felt and looked my healthiest.

First, fuck Facebook. Facebook is a time suck that destroys my productivity and mental health. There are some diamonds in that rough, but I need to be honest with myself and admit that I am addicted and right now I can’t handle just a little taste from time to time.

Second, I need a month (at least) off of alcohol. So no booze in February. It won’t be easy because there are a handful of events this month but I need to stick with it. One drink turns into two drinks turns into four drinks turns into junk food, missed workouts, and periods of depression. Again, I can’t take a little taste right now and abstinence is the best course for me.

Third, get my diet under control. I need to have fast days once or twice a week, get back into an 8-16 eating schedule, and focus on micronutrients instead of calories.

Fourth, get back into a strictly scheduled routine that stimulates my body and mind. When I was at my healthiest every day basically looked like this:

  • 5:45am – Wake, coffee, morning readings
  • 7:00am – Daily run and other exercise (gym or yoga) – yes, I ran every day. sometimes it was 6 miles and sometimes it was 1 mile
  • 9:00am – Shower (ending with 1-3 minutes of cold water)
  • 9:15am – Meditation
  • 9:30am – Write
  • 10:15am – Skill building with Khan Academy, Coursera, CodeAcademy, etc
  • 11:00am – Work
  • 3:00pm – Walk
  • 4:00pm – Work
  • 7:00pm – Evening routine
  • 7:30pm – Run or Walk
  • 8:00pm – Read
  • 9:00pm – Netflix and Chill
  • 10:00pm – Lights out

So, why do I want to do this? Because I feel healthier, happier, and sexier and because it will allow me to accomplish the things I want to do with my life. If I keep the trajectory of the last six months then I am going to start facing serious health problems and lack the strength necessary to live the life I want. A healthier Peter is a better lover for his partner, a better volunteer in the community, and a better employee. Bodily health increases mental health increases relationship health increases community health.

So, I’m going to turn this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And read all these this year:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to try and track my journey over the next month(s). So, here are my starting measurements:

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’7″
  • Weight: 187.5 lbs
  • Waist: 37.75″
  • Hips: 37″
  • Neck: 15.5″
  • Chest: 41.5″
  • Biceps: 13.5″
  • Thighs: 23″
  • Calves: 15″

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backwards? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger 
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger

Spiraling Away From My Goals

The last week or so has felt very hectic to me, like I’m spiraling out of control and away from my goals. It is frustrating and difficult and I’m annoyed with myself for letting even a small part of my life fall victim to chaos.

But with time that annoyance passes and I see the beauty in the chaos and realize that is where life is truly lived. Those moments where I lose control, where days drift by, where I neglect my nutrition and fitness and sleep schedule are the days that I live for. I use periods of control to strengthen myself so that I can jump into chaos with minimal repercussions.

There were times in my life when a weekend of booze and partying and MDMA and late nights would have thrown off my life for a week or more. One weekend would turn into a week would turn into a month. One small moment with my guard down, a moment where I allow myself to enjoy life would start a flood of dominos that were impossible to set right.

But not anymore, my work is paying off. Sticking with my routines that strengthen my body and mind most of the time means that I recover more quickly and can get back to them without any serious loss. Now, I can correct the spiral after two days instead of two weeks… and maybe someday it’ll be two hours instead of two days.

There is joy in losing control. There is a thrill as life spirals around me like a skydiver before pulling a chute. Joy in riding white-water rafting, taking drugs, one-way plane tickets, late night parties, and neglecting responsibilities… especially when you know you have a life vest, a day for recovery, friends and family, a warm bed, and plenty of time to do what is needed.

I love that I have a routine that is becoming more stable, but I don’t feel the thrill of life when I’m meditating, reading, writing, exercising, or eating right. Those are all just tools that allow me to experience the life I want without major repercussions. They are ways to strengthen my mental, physical, and social foundations so that I can jump out of that plane again and again and again… and just lose control.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.comSurveyMonkey:
Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback. Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

Ask PJ: Why doesn’t my hetero male partner like going down on me?

Welcome to another edition of "Ask PJ", where I answer your questions about love, sex, open relationships, drugs, politics, religion, and everything else. If you've got a question you'd like to submit anonymously you can find a link at the bottom of this article. Most questions I get are about "taboo" subjects like sex, drugs, religion, etc. but I'm open to answering anything, even personal questions.
 
Hey Peter! First, thanks for offering this platform for open and honest discussion/debate. I am always curious to see what you’ll post next, even when I find myself disagreeing with your viewpoints. It’s refreshing to have frank dialogue (even if some is initiated anonymously). A romantic partner said something to me recently that I took issue with and I immediately thought- “now I have an AMA for Peter- I want to know what he thinks of this!” Here’s the context: I have had an on/off hetero romantic/sexual relationship with this man for a few years. He’s typically very dominant and aggressive sexually. He’s also very closed off emotionally. We were discussing sexts and what types of photos you might request when asking for nudes from a woman. During the conversation- he mentioned how a genital pic from a woman wouldn’t “do it” for him. The implication was that he doesn’t like to look at vaginas/labia and that a breast photo would be optimal. Side bar- he also really dislikes performing cunnilingus. This is a man who is by all accounts 100% heterosexual. He’s never (that he’s willing to admit) been with a man sexually and has only had relationships with women. I’m perplexed that a straight man would have such an aversion to female genitals. What are your thoughts on this? I find myself going back to his level of heterosexuality- as if that should indicate more openness and willingness to look at and enjoy vagina. However- I think it may have less to do with the spectrum of heterosexuality and more to do with his aversion to intimacy and a deep buried mysogny. I’ve had sex with men who were much more fluid on the spectrum of hetero/homo and they were much more open and generous with their appreciation of vaginas. Do you think this is a form of sexual repression? Is this a form of sexism? Or is it just that some straight men really dislike the look and taste of vagina?
 
 
 
Hi stranger! First off, thank you for including labia in your question instead of just referring to the whole area as "vagina". Most people have never really seen a vagina because it is an internal part of the sexual system. What is generally visible are the labia minora and majora, vulva, clitoris, and clitoral hood. Okay... anatomy lesson over (for now... unless someone has questions about that).
 
 
 
So, why doesn't your on/off partner like sexts with your genitals and why doesn't he enjoy going down on you? I don't have any magic insight into his mind but I think it is one of the reasons you mentioned, or possibly a combination of them. Given the other information you've provided, I think it is most likely an aversion to intimacy and vulnerability and some buried misogyny. It is kind of an old-school view that going down on a woman was unmanly and that real men didn't do that (there is even an episode of The Sopranos where this subject almost started a gang war). Basically, sex was pleasure for men and any specific act that didn't stimulate the penis or provide the man pleasure was unmanly and a sign of weakness. Since you say he exhibits other red flags for misogyny like dominance and aggression this seems like a strong possibility.
 
 
 
It is also possible that he just doesn't like the look and taste of genitals. As for look, that kind of makes more sense to me. I am more aroused by the entire female form, particularly breasts, more than just the vulva in isolation but I wouldn't really say that a vulva pic "wouldn't do it for me". I do think it is a shame and concerning that he doesn't like performing cunnilingus though. There are lots of things we do in an equal sexual partnership that is more for our partner than for us. Giving you pleasure, learning your body, and participating in mutual sexual satisfaction should be some of his primary concerns, even if that means that he does something that isn't a focus on him. If having him go down on you is important then I hope you are making him do it (so to speak), you are within your right to withhold certain sexual acts or sex entirely if he is unwilling to give you something you'd like. Particularly if you are willing to go down on him.
Oh, and I wouldn't worry about the taste issue. In my moderate experience men generally, complain about taste as an excuse. Bodies that are showered regularly do not have any particularly offensive odors or tastes.
 
 
 
Lastly, is this a form of sexual suppression or closeted homosexual desires on his part? Maybe... I actually first thought this until you said he enjoy receiving pictures of breasts. I'd say most homosexual men are not aroused by breasts but it is possible that he is somewhere on the bisexual scale and is aroused by the sight of breasts but not vulvas (brains are complex and have a ton of variety, our labels never do them justice). I don't know what is going on in his head but maybe when he is doing it doggy-style or receiving oral sex he is imagining a man but it is difficult to make that mental leap when licking a clitoris. So maybe it is some sort of repression and he covers that by being a "manly man" who dislikes pleasuring his partners. I do find it interesting that you said "He’s never (that he’s willing to admit) been with a man sexually" because that seems to imply that you have some doubts about what he has told you.
 
 
 
So, I guess I really don't know. I think it is most likely sexism, which could possibly include the other two theories you mentioned. Either way, I hope you are getting what you want and need out of the relationship and are standing up for your own pleasure (even if that means pushing him to his knees). All these theories do point to some red flags with this guy and I hope you act cautiously.
 
 
 
Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don't really say no to requests.
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Bookending My Day

I’m constantly trying to improve my habits and get the most out of life. When my partner and I decided to stop our nomadic lifestyle and live in Wilmington I basically had no habits for dealing with “normal” life. That clean slate was good, in a way, but it also meant that I had no idea what I was doing. Still today, almost two years later, my ability to build habits that will help me reach my goals is still in its infancy.

For me, the key to accomplishing what I want is using the time in my life wisely. We all have 24 hours in a day (obvi) and I realized that I was wasting much of this precious life by focusing on the wrong things and inefficiently approaching the right things. So, I know what I should do… alas, reality is much more difficult.

During a perfect day, my life would be broken down into four sections: Morning Habits, The Day, Evening Habits, and Sleep. Morning and Evening Habits involve the work I’m doing to improve myself. During this time I would journal, meditate, exercise, write, read, take online classes, record podcast episodes, plan The Day, etc. This is my time to start and end the day on a strong path. It is 1/3 of my day when I am focused on becoming, creating, and consuming the things I want. My life, my potential, my future is built during these hours. This is my general daily plan, which I often fail at:

Then, throughout The Day, I would take care of necessary business. When my partner is at work that means working but it can also mean cleaning the house, taking care of the yard, running errands, and any other responsibilities I may have. When my partner is home this The Day turns into hanging out, going on dates, exploring Wilmington, etc. Lastly, I would get around 7-8 hours of sleep between around 10pm and 5:30am. Here is a perfect day:

 

 

 

But, as can be expected, there is no perfect day. I wake up late, slack on my morning routine and try to make it up later in the day, I get distracted, stay up too late, and neglect my evening habits. A real day looks like this:

 

But, I’m going to keep trucking on. I’m going to keep trying new techniques and sticking with ones that have worked. I’ll build and rebuilt systems that push me closer to success, forever refining the process. And, maybe most importantly, I’m not going to be hard on myself when I backslide. Maybe I fuck up one day or maybe one year, as long as I keep coming back and trying then I am on my way to success. The perfect day is impossible, there is always room for improvement, and perfection isn’t really the goal I seek to attain (again, because that’s impossible). The goal is to keep trying, growing, and testing myself to see what my potential is. If I do that, then I will have had a good life.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com
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Humanizing Perspectives – Bisexuality

I recently started reading “Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World”, edited by Robyn Ochs & Sarah E. Rowley. The book is a collection of hundreds of short essays, some only one paragraph long, written by people who identify as bisexual. Reading it has been pretty eye-opening for me, even though I already have a fluid view of my own sexuality.

The book has made me realize how rarely we have the opportunity to hear from people about things that we have a hard time relating too. It is the most extreme voices that find their way into politics or onto the news and the average person is pushed to the back, their voice never heard. I know for me it would be great to read more books that collect essays from people that I have a hard time relating too. That would allow for humans to explain why they feel, belief, act the way they do so that I could learn. Nuance and humanity is lost in today’s society… sadly. And it makes us all worse off.

I also think it would be pretty cool to collect essays from groups that I identify as. Maybe a book by drug users, veterans, poly couples, anarchists, or atheists could allow others to view people like me with a little more understanding and love. And I know that my love and patience would increase if I could understand conservatives, Christians, straight-edge, and even White supremacists. There is no harm in trying to understand why people believe what they do. In fact, I think understanding is necessary if we are going to seek truth and peace as a society.

Here are a few excerpts from “Getting Bi” that I highlighted:

“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge in myself the potential to be attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not neessarily in the same way, and not neccesarily to the same degree.” – Robyn Ochs

“Different though the sexes are, they intermix, In every human being a vacillation between the sexes takes place and often it is only the clothes that keep the male and female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what is above.”
– Orlando, Virginia Woolf

“However, I truly believe that most humans’ sexual experiences lie not within exclusive hetero or homosexual boundaries, but somewhere in between. I hope that one day homophobia and heterosexism will dissappear.” – Mayra Santos-Febres

“Being bisexual is nothing other than being able to love, at least potentially, humanity as a whole.” – Miguel Obradors Campos

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.” – Andre Gide

“Dad, you warned me of the hazards of ‘trying to find myself,’ especially in today’s society. You were right.” – Amber Terrell

“I call myself bisexual because I feel I have the capacity to love both sexes as much as members of a heterosexual couple love each other. It’s not ‘swinging both ways’ or ‘being promiscuous’; it’s about my capacity to love both sexes equally and fully.” – Simone Pantaleo

“But just because someone is bisexual doesn’t mean that they have loose sexual ethics. It doesn’t mean they’re a swinging cat. It just means you’re attracted to men and women.” – David Ertischek

“Bisexuality (whatever that means) for me is about the ability to relate to all people at a deep emotional level. It is an openness of the heart. It is the absence of limits, especially those that are defined by the other person’s sex. It is about not needing to choose. Who said that to love someone you have to renounce something? Bisexuality is the realization that you can indeed have it all. It is the power of not giving yourself limits.” – Andrea Toselli

“Some people say that their feelings were always there or they’ve known they were different since they were children. That’s not the case for me. I totally decided to be this way and now that I have had a chance to be with another woman, I realize that this is who I am.” – Talia Erinna

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
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Ask PJ: Why the f*ck are you buying a house?

Alright, it has been a while but I received another anonymous question on Sarahah. As always, if you’ve got a question, comment, criticism, or genital pick you want to send me just check out the links at the bottom of the post.

Peter, we’ve never met before but I respect you and want all the best for you. So take this with a grain of salt that I know you will. Buying a house right now, might directly conflict with your goal of selling it in 3-5 years and traveling more. My brother bought a house before the last financial collapse near the peak of the market, which subsequently lost half of its value in a year or so. He is still underwater on his mortgage and having to sink in tons of money on repairs and maintenance. His future choices have been severely limited by this house. I wish to see you avoid a similar fate. Is there anything so bad about renting for another year or two?
Hi stranger! First off, I want to thank you for sending this question in a modest and appropriate way. You have asked for my explanation instead of just posting unsolicited advice on my Facebook wall. You are way better at this than most people.
Before your question, here is a little background information for those who may not be my Facebook friend (you should change that) or know who the fuck I am.
In 2014, my partner and I decided to leave Los Angeles and we spent about 2.5 years bicycling around the country. We had online jobs which allowed us a very nomadic lifestyle but we grew tired of it and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. We’ve been here for about a year and a half now and have just started the process to purchase a home.
So, you are correct that buying a house may conflict with my goal of selling it in 3-5 years and traveling more. That is certainly a risk but I don’t think it is a huge one, but first I think you make an assumption I should point out. You seem to think there will be some point in my life when I won’t want to leave a city every few years and keep traveling. That just isn’t the case. It is very unlikely that I will ever really live in a town for more than 3-5 years at a time for the rest of my life. I want to live in dozens of cities and countries, so renting for a few more years here and worrying about purchasing at another time is endlessly kicking the can down the road and off a cliff. The perfect day will never come… besides, I am an unapologetic imperfectionist. Now is good enough for a home purchase, so we are going to try it.
I completely understand your reservations considering what your brother went through. I clearly don’t know the details of your brother’s situation but my parent’s faced something similar. They bought their house at a terrible time, took at an ARM, and have been underwater on their house ever since, which is pretty shitty considering they are approaching retirement (side point: I’m 36 and would much rather make a housing mistake now than when I’m in my 40’s or 50’s). My parent’s experience is a huge part of why I have not owned a home at this point, I just didn’t see why it was worth all the risk. But, I’ve come to realize that that risk can be mitigated in a lot of ways.
First off, my partner and I are buying below our means. The general rule of thumb is to keep housing costs at about 30% or less of income. The home we made an offer on will have housing costs of about 10% of our income. In fact, our mortgage ($600 for a three-bedroom, 2-bath home near downtown Wilmington) will be less than our current rent of $775 for a smaller house in a less central location. Not only will we avoid just throwing money down a money pit of rent, we will be saving dollars on a monthly basis.
But, even if we weren’t saving money we would probably still buy because of the greater freedom it allows. We want to decorate and paint walls, get another dog, build shelving and modifications, build a fire pit in the backyard, install a screened-in porch, and a dozen other things that can’t be done in a rental. We want the freedom to turn our house into a home that suits us.
So, the second reason that I don’t think this is a huge risk is that it is very unlikely that the housing market is at some sort of peak like it was around 2007. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but I’m actually a Market and Data Analyst that focuses primarily on the housing market. I put a lot of research into both Wilmington and this particular neighborhood before we decided to do this. I don’t have everything sitting in front of me but here are a few data points that I think strengthen our decision to purchase a home in Wilmington:
  • Wilmington is about 95% developed and has very little room for new housing, the college (UNCW) is looking to expand the college by about 10% annually without providing additional housing, and the area is attracting a growing number of Boomers from the north for retirement, which points towards a significant increase in demand without an increase in supply (meaning, housing prices are potentially going to go up)
  • Wilmington’s housing market remained remarkably stable during the housing market crash with median home prices peaking in 2008 at around $215,400 and bottoming out in 2012 at $183,900 (or a loss of about 14.6%… which isn’t huge)
  • The area of town we are purchasing a home is currently being reinvigorated with new breweries, shops, and a nightlife. It is an “up and coming” area that may see significant increases in home values in the coming years.
  • My partner and I have actually saved enough money to almost buy the house outright if needed. The only reason we don’t is that the interest rate on a home loan for us using my VA benefits is much lower than the income we are generating in our investment accounts. The home interest rate is 4.125% and my annual return on my Wealthfront account is about 22%, and that isn’t even factoring in how much more money I’m making on blockchain investments.
  • Lastly, rental prices tend to be immune to housing market crashes and keep rising even if home values decrease. In 2008, the median gross rent in Wilmington was $817, in 2012 it was $881, and in 2016 it was $921. Meaning, the cost of renting is going to continue to rise but if we decide we want to leave our home we can easily rent it out to someone for more than enough to cover the mortgage, any repairs, and make a profit.
So, even if the market were to go completely sideways we are okay. We’ve done our research on the area to minimize our risk exposure, we’ve secured enough backup funding to cover unexpected costs or property loss, and we have a backup plan to rent the property if we really don’t want to be tied down but every other contingency falls through. This isn’t a guarantee that this experiment will be the right one for us, but life is risky and I’d rather take this risk now than wonder what could have been. We are tired of renting, we are tired of living by someone else’s rules, and we are very excited to enjoy home ownership.
 
Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH Email: pjneiger@gmail.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/pneiger
Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback. Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

I Did Everything The Wrong Way

My partner and I are in the process of buying a house. It has been hectic and stressful and exciting, particularly when I think about how impossible it should have been. I’m 36 years old and I stopped living paycheck-to-paycheck just last year. I haven’t had a real savings account ever and my Roth IRA has less than one years worth of investment in it.  I haven’t lived in one city for more than 2 years since I was 18 and I’ve had 5 jobs in the last 8 years. Only one year of my entire life have I made more than $30,000.

Yet, here I am about to buy a house and putting 20% down (well, technically 10% down because my partner is covering 10% but I actually could put 20% myself if needed).

So, how am I stable despite seemingly actively working against any sort of structure or stability or traditional path?

Because I pursued what was right for me. Though, the pursuit has been indirect. More often than not I was running away from what I knew didn’t work for me instead of running towards something I knew would work. I found a life perfect(ish) for me by process of elimination. I didn’t try to make the traditional path work for me, I didn’t try to change myself, instead, I went on a different path.

By all accounts, I should have monogamously married the first adult love of my life, secured a steady job in finance or economics or something, had a couple of kids, and slowly put money into savings accounts, 401ks, and college funds. But I didn’t want that… monogamy, steady work in the same place, children, low-risk investments… that life doesn’t appeal to me.

Instead, I decided to be true to myself and discover what life I could have. And by taking that risk, by quitting jobs and ending relationships and moving around the country and deciding to live a life of adventure before retirement, I ended up in a great place.

The purchasing of this house isn’t the end of my pursuit of an artistic, rebel, true-to-me life. The odds are pretty good that we will be moving out of this house in the next 3-5 years and trying out a new city or country. But it is very symbolic, it shows that I could have all the rewards of tradition if I wanted them. That trying something new isn’t necessarily a path into the wilderness or uncharted territories. New paths cross old paths often and we can switch how we live our lives at almost any point.

Nothing is guaranteed, maybe this risk will turn out to be nothing like I expected (much like moving to LA was), but it will be an adventure and learning experience. And if/when I die I won’t regret it.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits (as you will probably notice if you read through the on my AMA page). You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

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SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi

PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976