Begin Again, Again

It was only a few weeks ago that I mapped out a 3-month plan with a variety of fitness, financial, and other goals. I was pumped and ready. I was going to finish off my 37th year since birth strong as fuck. But, as is often (always) the case, things didn’t work out that way. I struggled to get things started or meet my early goals and then Hurricane Florence kicked me out of my home city for a couple weeks.

So, here I am, almost four weeks into my new plan and my progress is basically zero. There is really only one thing to do.

Begin again.

Probably the most important concept that I’ve retained from my on-again, off-again, always-a-struggle meditation practice is the idea that you are successful as long as you begin again. So, I will begin again, hopefully a little bit wiser and a little better prepared.

Last time I set goals for myself I was way too damn ambitious. I set goals like I was at my strongest instead of where I actually was. It was basically like a marathon runner taking months off of training and then deciding to pick up where they left off. Of course I struggled, of course I became discouraged, I was planning for someone that no longer existed.

This time, I hope I am setting better goals. Specifically, I’m getting back to basics and focusing on habit building instead of quantity. I have two daily goals for the next four weeks: meditate every day and run every day. If I meditate for one minute every day then I am 100% successful and if I run 1/2 a mile every day then I am 100% successful. I’m going to try to do more than that but some days I might be able to muster little more than a half-ass jog to the end of the block and 60 seconds of trying to count my breaths.

Besides those, I have two weekly goals that include doing yoga once and participating in a group/social exercise at least once. I’m even allowing myself to count both of those in one session if I do a group yoga session. I think these goals are manageable and next month I can start thinking of adding something new (maybe intermittent fasting or lifting weights) or adding a quantity goal for meditation and running.

Really, I just need to realize that there is no rush. It is better to succeed at slow progress than give up on large goals. This is something I struggle with in all areas of my life, I want things to happen quickly, I’m anxious to be active and accomplish things and I overwhelm myself. I set myself up for failure.

Hopefully, not this time but if I do fail then I will simply begin again.

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”

PJ Answers All: Step-Parents and Addressing Hurricane Flobags

First, I got another anonymous question this weekend from Sarahah. If you want me to give you my thoughts or advice on any subject feel free to send me a message on Sarahah, fill out this SurveyMonkey form, or contact me through more traditional means (see end of page) and tell me that you want it addressed anonymously. Oh, and the incomplete archives with about 100 questions and answers can be found here.

This may be different than your normal questions, but still curious as to your opinion (if you have one). What do you think of step-parents being called ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ by their stepchildren?”

Thanks for the question! To be honest, I have never given this much thought. My birth parents are still married and I haven’t been in a position where this affected my life directly. Though, two of my best friends birth parents are no longer together and so are some of my cousins and other friends. Homes are increasingly diverse, which may be a good thing.

Because this involves language there might be regional differences, but to me “dad” and “mom” are more of an emotional relationship than a biological one. You can “father” or “mother” a child and the word becomes a verb instead of a title, but you can’t “dad a child” or “mom a child”. To me, father/mother is mostly about biology.

So, I might find it a little strange (but really none of my business and not terribly important to me) if a step-child called their new parent “father” or “mother”. But it makes perfect sense to me for them to call them “dad” or “mom” as long as those words reflect the emotional relationship between the two parties.

I really can’t say when the relationship warrants that kind of terminology. I imagine it happens more commonly and quickly in families where the step-parent enters into the child’s life early on. For example, a close friend of mine’s mother remarried when he was in elementary school. His step-father, not his father, has always been his dad. But if my parents were to divorce and get remarried I would probably never call my step-parents mom or dad. Oddly, I do call my in-laws mom and dad.

I think it really depends on the relationship and it is something that should not be forced. I mean really, no title or relationship should be forced. A child isn’t going to love or respect and adult more because they are punished for not making specific sounds out of their mouths when conveying an idea about that parent. In fact, it’ll probably make the child resent the adult.

Thanks again for this question. I like giving thought to new things and this was definitely an issue that never crossed my mind.


Alright, I’ve got another issue on my mind that I wanted to address.

As some of you know, I live in Wilmington, NC and we are currently in the direct path of Hurricane Florence. Yesterday, I posted a quick Facebook post about my decision to (probably) stay and the reasons for that decision.

Unfortunately, some of my Facebook friends tried to talk me out of it. I know they had the best intentions but it comes off as condescending as fuck to try to convince someone that they are wrong, particularly when you imply that they are stupid or haven’t thought things out. I’m a 36-year old, college educated, entrepreneur, combat veteran who spent over two years travelling by bicycle without guaranteed shelter, access to water, electricity, or food. I have also lived in the South for nearly half my life. I love my life and don’t enter into decisions that may risk it lightly. So, you are a dick if you want to publicly shame me on my Facebook wall for my decision. If you really care or are curious about my thought process you should send me a private message. I fucking hate publicly posted unsolicited advice, particularly from people who, despite claiming to be libertarians, think they know my situation and what is best for me better than I do.

Okay, now that that is out of the way.

I am still undecided on whether I am staying or going. A lot is going to depend on what the storm does in the next 24 hours. Regardless, my partner is leaving tomorrow morning with the animals. So, what is my thought process? Let’s lay it out. I think there are four basic scenarios… I feel like this might be a Prisoner’s dilemma type of situation, I should make a four-square chart. Anyway here they are from relative worst to best:

Storm is Really Terrible, I Stay: This is basically the worst possible scenario. As much as I’d like to stay and help my fellow citizens, after chatting with some experts I realize that I won’t really be in a position (nor do I have the tools) to help. I may even be a liability. Even if I end up being perfectly fine I will be stuck away from electricity, water, and additional food for maybe weeks. I have a bunch of reserves but that would suck ass. I also might die (but I think that is actually way less likely than people realize).

Storm is No Big Deal, I Leave: If the storm is mostly a bust with limited power loss and no major road closures then it could be very wasteful for me to leave. Any minor damage that our home has could turn into major damage if nobody is around for a week to address it. A small leak in the roof can turn into a small leak, floor damage, destroyed furniture, etc. if it isn’t taken care of quickly. Of course, it isn’t really possible to know the extent of the damage the building will take.

Storm is Really Terrible, I Leave: This would suck but leaving would be the best call. I would likely be stranded away from home for an extended amount of time, my house may suffer considerable damage, and there may be property loss. We have insurance but this would still suck. At least I would be safe at my in-laws and able to still work.

Storm is No Big Deal, I Stay: This is the best case scenario. If the storm ends up veering away from us (probably North) and we end up with nothing but weak-side winds from 100 miles away then the damage will be light, services will be quickly restored, and I will be home to fix the house and protect it from looters.

So, there are my options. I still don’t fucking know what I’m going to do. As of this post (8:35am EST, 9/11/2018) the storm is projected to center on Jacksonville, which is about 40 miles northeast of me. If it continues to slide north with projections north of Greenville on Wednesday morning then I’m likely to stay. That’ll put me just on the southern edge of the likely 2-day path. If it slides further south towards Wilmington again then I am going to leave. Really, the only tough decision is if the forecast puts it in the same general vicinity that it is now because it could easily either be No Big Deal or Really Terrible.

I guess all I can do is prep the house and wait and see.

 

 

Gentlemen, You Are More Than Just Your Dick

I haven’t spent much time on dating websites or apps. They were starting to become pretty common and popular when I lived in DC but, aside from a short-lived OKCupid account, I missed that trend. During that time I also solely identified as straight and had not really explored or accepted my more nuanced sexuality. That means I’ve never really looked for a male partner online.

Well, recently that has changed. With my partner’s support, I’ve started using AdultFriendFinder and similar sites to find more open-minded couples and singles in our area. I’m not looking for sexual partners per-se, but I am looking for non-judgmental friends that won’t judge me if they find out that we define monogamy a little more physically loosely than others. Originally, I was worried that all we would find were people that wanted to fuck but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a wide variety of people who want a wide variety of things on these sites.

I guess I’m not alone in my desire to not feel alone.

Overall, it has been a pretty positive experience with one major issue: the guys.

I realize that these sites are primarily for swingers but getting inbox full of dick pics and “Hey, wanna fuck?” is something I haven’t experienced (though, I’m sure 99% of my female friends have). This brings me to the purpose of this blog, to ask a question and to give some advice.

Question: Is this dick pic, monosyllabic message method actually work?

I have a hard time believing it does but it is so prevalent I wonder if I’m wrong. Maybe it is the relatively low cost to the men to do this. Maybe it is insecurity on their part and they are looking for some attention, any attention, or any validation that they are attractive or sexy. So, instead of being more vulnerable by showing their faces or personality, they just put a series of poor-quality cock pics they took with their phone.

And it isn’t even just the messages. Entire profiles are nothing but two dozen dick pics, as if we need to see it from every angle in every light in order to make a decision.

“Man, I was totally against a threesome with that guy until I saw dick pic #87, something about the way the cock looks in that mirror with the dirty bedroom in the background really put things in a new light. Let’s fuck”

I know that when I was prone to send dick pics unsolicited in the past it is usually, though not always, because I’m feeling lonely and insecure. So, I turn to something unnecessarily shocking and hope to get attention. I really can’t apologize enough for my shitty behavior in the past. I don’t know if I am still friends with any of the women I acted this way towards, but my god I am so sorry. It is never acceptable for me to use my insecurities and weaknesses in a way that violates the consent of others. I wish I could change the past.

Is that why these guys do this, or is it because they actually and truly think their dick is special and their best asset. Which brings me to my comment/advice.

Gentlemen, you are more than your dick and it is not your best asset.

Listen, I know it is absolutely exhausting and time-consuming and risks your ego to put your face and personality in your profile, and to send actual thought-out messages that show you read the profile of the person/people you are interested. But I truly believe that it will yield better results. Is your current method working?

Big dicks and dick pics are a dime a dozen online, it really isn’t that special. What is special is someone who shows that they are a real person with interests and sends an actual articulate, well-thought out message. If a couple’s profile says, “We’re looking for like-minded people in our area to build a friendship with,” then a dick pic, a “let’s fuck” message, and a blank profile probably won’t get a response. And you do want a response, right? Or are you just on these sites to try and feel powerful by waving your dick around.

Have a little pride in more about yourself than something you have zero control over. You are a multi-faceted person and turning yourself into nothing more than a sausage who can string 4th grade level sentences together is dehumanizing. Show the world that you are complete.

I imagine most people looking for a male partner are less concerned about our phalli than they are about our personalities and whether we are respectful, kind, and compatible with their desires. Yes, it is riskier and makes you more vulnerable to show a high quality picture and fill out the profile, but if you are paying ~$100 to use the site shouldn’t you put some effort that might get results?

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe sending out a dozen dick-pics a day gets you what you want more effectively than I realize. But as someone who is now on the receiving end of those dicks, I am deleting most of them and only responding to the people who show me they think with the head between their ears.

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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”

Icelandic Agavemoon – Day 1

As some of you know, my partner and I spent last week camping around Iceland. Iceland is a place that has always interested me and it was kind of a dream come true to visit. This trip was the best in my life, it is nice to still have some “bests”, even better than my first Burning Man (though it is difficult to compare and contrast the two).

As the experience has marinated in my mind I have been struggling with how to share this experience. There were a lot of events and reflections that made this trip so important to me and it is difficult to figure out how to blog about it. In the end, I decided to use the writing technique I did with my book and just do it chronologically. When appropriate, I will go on tangents about my thoughts on a particular subject. Oh, and you can find some of our pics on our Instagram pages (@peterneiger and @anna_kale_27). We are still sorting through the pics on the camera but you can get an idea of what we saw/experienced via Instagram.

First though, here is a list of things that we were really, really happy that we had with us.

  • High quality waterproof hiking boots
  • Waterproof camera
  • High quality cold weather gloves
  • A highway map
  • High quality cold weather sleeping bag
  • A Jackery (or other battery storage for the phone)

Several of those items were quite expensive but they are lifetime investments. I’m going to hike a lot of trails, sleep in a lot of cold places, and take pictures in a lot of wet places. I don’t think you need high quality, expensive stuff to adventure (just like I don’t think you need an expensive bike to cycle cross country) but they are good investments if you plan on a lifetime of wandering.

And here are some things that we wish we had/knew:

  • Camping utensils (we own them but forgot them)
  • A basic knowledge of the language
  • A more hardcore vehicle for Highland exploration (more on that later)
  • An Icelandic/English dictionary for grocery shopping
  • A car phone charger (again, we have several but forgot them)
  • A travel credit card or a chip card with a PIN. You can’t buy gas with a credit card in Iceland unless you have a PIN and most credit cards in the states use a signature instead.

Day 1 – Saturday, August 25

We landed in Reykjavik at about 6am. Well, technically we landed in Keflavik but everyone called it Reykjavik. Due to the time zone change and our day-long layover in Boston we had only slept about 2-3 hours and that sleep was shitty plane sleep. Oh, but we did see the Northern Lights from the plane, so that was cool.

So, we were tired but the sun was up and we were ready to roll.

Our first stop, SADcars to pick up our rental, a beat-up grey Jimny that would prove to be a loyal, if somewhat frustrating, companion for the next 8 days. Once we had our vehicle we really didn’t have any solid plans. We had two reservations, one for a hostel on August 26 and one in Reykjavik on our final night, but other than that nothing was set in stone. Our “plan” was to simply head north for a bit and then east and then along the southern border. That would allow us to see the touristy stuff on the Golden Circle and explore a bit. Camping is available everywhere so we didn’t worry about finding a place to sleep.

The drive into Reykjavik was the first time that I really felt like I wasn’t in the US anymore. The different road signs, words I couldn’t pronounce, and the general friendliness of drivers was foreign to me. Luckily, we had a paper map, our phones showed our GPS location despite being in airplane mode, and all the signs in Iceland are pictures and most are pretty intuitive.

Unfortunately, “most” is not the same as “all”. Once we got downtown we were bombarded with signs that varied slightly and were difficult to interpret. What does a sign with a single red line across it mean? How does that differ from two red lines? These are all questions that we should have answers to. Which brings me to my first Iceland lesson:

Lesson 1: Familiarize yourself with road signs before arriving in country.

(I took a shit ton of notes, including several pages of lessons. Some of these are unique to Iceland but I think most of them are applicable for all international travel.)

Eventually, we figured out how to drive and get around without killing anyone. I am a big fan of roundabouts and stop lights that give a yellow warning before turning green. Traffic control in Iceland is pretty awesome. Hunger was hitting us so we grabbed some breakfast at basically the only vegan friendly place that was open before noon (not a lot of breakfast restaurants in Iceland) and then went to the grocery store to stock up. Grocery stores were our best friend because they were cheaper than restaurants and being vegan limited our options. Luckily, we have two years experience traveling without modern appliances and we know what food to stock up on.

Being vegan actually made the trip easier for us because it acted as a filter to all the options. Every decision we make goes through a number of filters based on our tastes, preferences, finances, convenience, ethics, etc. Our veganism is ethics based so we can quickly cut out any restaurants that don’t have vegan options. Then we factor in where the place is located and what options are available.

Of course, decision making involves both binary filters and degree filters. Binary filters are simple “yes/no” filters that allow us to reduce options. Do they have vegan options? No, then it is gone. Degree filters, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated because it requires weighing options relative to each other. One place is 7 miles away and the other is 8, which do we choose? There isn’t enough information to really make an informed choice because things like menu options and price matter. So, do you go to the place 8 miles away with 10 vegan options or the place 7 miles away with 8 vegan options? It all depends…

Anyway, being vegan cut out a lot of the headaches because we could focus on the 3-4 all vegan restaurants that were available in Reykjavik. I was actually really surprised how vegan friendly Iceland was though. Almost every restaurant had an explicitly marked vegan option or two and the prices for vegan food were on par (or sometimes cheaper) than meat options.

After we had full bellies and a carload of food we headed north. We tried to find some allergy medicine for me because my body was acting weird but we couldn’t find any. We later learned that medicine can’t be sold in grocery stores or gas stations, only in pharmacies. It was kind of weird not to find that in a grocery store but find underwear hanging on the walls and lube prominently displayed at the cash registers with the gum and other impulse buys.

The roads we choose were pretty sparse and we picked them based on how scenic they looked or what random experience might be along that way. Due to this technique we found the town of Akrans that had some cool lighthouses that you could climb up. After that we headed out to Glymur Falls to hike up a few miles along cliffs to watch water obey the gravitational pull of the Earth. It was an amazing site and the pictures we took don’t do any of it justice (this is a regular occurrence in Iceland).

Up until this point we had not really ran into tourists. That would change in the future when we discovered there are basically two types of tourists in Iceland: Boots and Buses.

Bus Tourists tended to be older, stay in hotels, and take buses all around the Golden Circle. They shuffled off the bus, walked a few feet to a beautiful site, took a picture, and then shuffled back onto the bus. We knew that a location would be crowded and that we would leave fairly quickly when we saw a bunch of buses.

Book Tourists tended to be younger, camp out, and wander off the normal paths. They hiked along random trials, pushed their way through the rain to reach a glacier, and were mostly found in the southern parts of the country away from the Bus Tourists. These were our people.

By time we got to our hiking stop point it was starting to get late. We cracked open a couple beers, drank them and rested for a bit, and then we hustled down the mountain. We had passed a campground on the road earlier that day so we headed back there where we set up our tent, paid our fee (about $15 per person, which was pretty standard), had sex, and then went to sleep.

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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”

A Couple of Questions

Wow, it has been a long time since I received any Sarahah or SurveyMonkey questions. I’ve got a couple so I figured I’d answer them real quick. If you have a question that you’d like to submit anonymously you can send it via Sarahah or SurveyMonkey. There are no questions that I won’t answer (as you can see if you review my previously answered questions).

Dear Peter, I really found your blog post yesterday pretty interesting. I think I came from a similar background as you, I never really saw naked bodies and I felt like my body was odd and ugly. My question is, have you ever had anyone ask you for nudes (in a non-sexual way)? Would you share them if they did?

Hi person! It definitely sounds like we grew up in a similar environment. I hope that you are healing from the pain you may have felt in the past. To answer your first question… yes, sort of. I’ve had people ask for sexualized nudes before but I don’t think I’ve had anyone specifically ask for me to share my non-sexual nudes. More often it is a mutual sharing situation that I instigate, which is weird because I consider myself somewhat shy. I guess this is another reason where I am more comfortable letting my freak flag fly.

If asked, I would probably say yes. I can’t see any reason why I would say no. I’ve put non-sexual nudes in this blog before and I wouldn’t mind sharing more recent pics. I would hope that by doing so could make someone feel better about their body and give them an opportunity to share safely if they wanted.

I guess there is a risk that someone might use my non-sexual pictures in a sexual way, though I don’t think awkwardly angled selfies with flaccid penises is particularly erotic. I don’t think that would really bother me too much. While I would find that behavior to be against my ethics, I know everyone has their own ethical standards that aren’t the same as mine. Everyone is just doing the best they can 🙂

 

Hi Peter, I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of BJ Miller who is an end of life expert. This interview with him is one of my favorites of all-time. Cheers! https://tim.blog/2016/04/14/bj-miller

Cheers!

I have  actually heard of BJ! I actually listened to his TedTalk many years ago before I was more actively interested in end-of-life care. I am gonna revisit that TedTalk and listen to the Ferriss podcast. Thanks for the recommendation and reminder!

That’s it for now! I plan on starting my blogging about Iceland tomorrow, unless something else random pops into my brain 🙂

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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”

Are nude pics okay?

My partner and I spent the last 8 days in Iceland. It was a phenomenal experience and I will be blogging about that in more detail soon. But first, I want to write about something that I reflected on somewhat deeply this week. (Therapy has really got me thinking more deeply about “why” I do things, feel things, fear things, etc.)

Nude pictures.

In Iceland there were many opportunities to be naked. In fact, nudity isn’t against the law there and the culture seems fairly body positive. Of course, it is fucking cold there so not a lot of people were naked (read: nobody). But, despite the cold weather, I found a few opportunities in waterfalls and hot springs to shed my clothing and hang out in nature au naturel.

During these moments sans clothing I took some selfies and other pictures, just like I would if I had clothing on. Unfortunately, I realize that these pictures can only be shared privately and before sharing something like this I believe in getting full consent from the recipient. Luckily, I have a few friends who have consented to receiving uncensored pictures.

In our society nudity is, unfortunately, tied very strongly to sexuality. It is very difficult for us to separate the two, something that isn’t really a problem in some other cultures. I’m sure some of you are thinking right now, “he sends nudes? Is this some kind of sexual voyeurism/exhibitionism thing?”

No. It isn’t. Voyeurism and exhibitionism is something that I have experience with and could blog about, but that is not what sending nude pics really is. Seriously, it is pretty difficult to find much sexual about a guy taking an awkward selfie in a hot spring. Do you know how unflattering the selfie posture is when sitting an hunched over? It definitely is not sexy.

If I wanted to send or receive pictures of a sexual nature then it would involve getting another level of consent from the recipients/senders. I have no problem with pictures like that but I think it would be immoral to use a person (through sharing or receiving) for sexual gratification without getting the consent of that person. To me, the Harm Principle or Non-Aggression Principle is not a strong enough standard for this interaction.

So, if I’m not getting my rocks off then why do I send pictures and why do I ask my friends if it is cool if they receive them?

Because it feels intimate. I grew up in a household that was body shameful and it feels really good to have friends who accept me for me, and that includes the nude me. It is nice to not need to censor myself or hide part of myself or wonder if I’m offending someone with a picture I send them. I want to celebrate beautiful adventures and moments in my life with my friends without running to put pants on. And I feel really blessed to have a handful of friends who are comfortable with me sharing myself so openly, so raw, so exposed.

That doesn’t mean I ask every close friend of mine if I can send nudes. Some of my friends I know well enough to assume they will be uncomfortable with it (I guess if we are friends and you think I’m wrong then correct me). It also isn’t the case that every friend I’ve asked about this has said yes. Many have said no or stated that they are only comfortable with a certain degree of nudity because of their preferences or the restrictions from their partnership and some have even asked that I include their partners for transparency sake. Basically, the degree of comfort varies between individuals/couples. I always respect those boundaries and am not offended or hurt by someone telling me that they aren’t comfortable with seeing all of me. I totally get it. Not everyone views nudity as representative of a deeper emotional bound.

There is a second reason that I like sharing pics that is a little less personal and more political. I think we should normalize nudity and increase the amount of non-porn, non-movie star, non-model bodies that are seen. I’ve had (and still do) some significant body image issues because I didn’t really know what the average body looks like. There is something freeing about seeing and sharing our nude bodies with friends and acquaintances, it breaks down pre-conceived notions and makes us seem more real.

As important as sending nudes is in my life I never expect pictures in return, though it happens sometimes and it feels nice to be trusted with a similar vulnerability that I share. I’m always honored when someone responds to my sharing with sharing of their own, or unexpectedly asks if they can share a picture of themselves with me because they feel strong or attractive or are experiencing something beautiful sans clothes or would like some attention. With apps like SnapChat it is much easier to share without long-term consequences, to be momentarily exposed and have that disappear after a few seconds. Some of my friends prefer that ephemeral representation while others prefer something more concrete and we exchange via text or email.

I recognize that the way we show love differs from person to person. One of the ways I show that I value a friendship or feel that it is deep is that I open myself up in a visual way. Other people show how valuable our friendship is through time spent together or gifts or phone calls or a thousand other things.

One of the things I find beautiful about the world is how we can all carve out unique ways to show love and ask to be loved. And one of those ways that some of us try to show that we care about someone is to ask, “Are nude pics okay?” and then set up the boundaries from there.

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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”

From a New Entrepreneur: Lesson 1

“Perfectionism kills every dream – better to just start.”
Mike Michalowicz, “Profit First”

Lesson 1: Just do it

The quote above is not particularly revolutionary. I’ve heard something along those lines for much of my life…

“Perfect is the enemy of the good”
“The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement”
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content”
“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week”

Many minds greater than mine, in this case Voltaire, George Will, Leo Tolstoy, and George Patton, have realized that perfection is unattainable and often counterproductive. I’ve never been much of a perfectionist, quite the opposite, but I do get trapped in analysis paralysis a lot.

I spend days planning and planning and planning. I have literally dozens of spreadsheets that map out financial goals, fitness routines, nutrition plans, and pretty much every other part of my life but very, very rarely do I execute the plans. There always seems to be one more thing I can tinker with or today just isn’t a good time to start… maybe tomorrow.

Basically, I suck at execution.

But, in the last couple of weeks I have blown through my reluctance and made some positive steps in my life, specifically starting my own business. I wish I would have done it earlier but I never really felt ready. This time around I still didn’t feel ready but thanks to the encouragement of my partner, my friends, my supervisor, and my therapist, I took the plunge. I bunkered down and filled out paperwork, paid a bunch of fees, and scheduled an appointment to see a CPA. And, strangely, after completing all that stuff I found myself feeling much more ready than before. Nothing substantial had changed except I had committed myself in a way that I never had before.

I think there are a couple of reasons why I feel more ready and motivated. First off, there is some momentum going. I’ve done “something” and I am encouraged to prevent that effort from going to waste. Second, I have some financial skin in the game. I’ve paid fees and committed to a system that requires a certain level of effort. Third, I have some accountability through my first hire (CPA) and the general Facebook public who I blab to about everything in my life. Lastly, creating a business has made me feel like I am not quite faking it anymore. It is what Steven Pressfield calls “Turning Pro”.

After all that effort I feel more motivated than I have in a long time. My actual job and income source hasn’t changed but I find myself wanting to work harder and learn more for that firm. I think this is the difference between feeling like an employee and feeling like an owner. I don’t think I was a lazy employee, but I think the incentives for employees do not align with those of owners. I had a disconnect from the vision and a lack of authority. If I spent more time learning new skills, researching more about my field, and expanding the customer base then there was not necessarily a direct link between that and a greater payoff for me.

As an owner, the incentives are quite different. My job is exactly the same, but if I expand my knowledge base, meet new clients, and become an expert than Neiger Consulting LLC can directly benefit. Maybe this means I get jobs outside of my current client or maybe I’m in a better place to petition my current client to try new things. That second point is mostly a psychological difference but mindset matters.

Being an employee and being an owners is the difference between reactive incentives and proactive incentives. It is the difference between feeling like you should just do what you are told and feeling like you should do what is in your (and the organizations) best interest. Ownership gives a feeling of authority that being an employee doesn’t.

I am lucky in that the organization that I’ve been working for for the last few years has been more flexible and open to change than I’ve ever had. they have encouraged me to expand my skill set and be creative, but I had a mental block that stopped me from really fully committing to that. That block is gone now. By becoming an owner of my own business not only am I going to benefit, but so is the organization that I work with. I will become more skilled, more motivated, and our incentives are now aligned because we both have a profit-motive that runs parallel to each other. What is good for me is good for them.

So, after all this I have one piece of simple (but difficult) advice to anyone who wants to start a business: just do it.

Right now.

Seriously.

If you have time to read my blog then you have time to register as an LLC in your state, get an EIN, and get the process moving.

You don’t need a single sale or a single dollar in profit to get started. In fact, it might be better if you haven’t made any money as a 1099 or under the table yet because you won’t be locked in to bad habits or a production system that primarily suites others. Don’t wait to prove the concept, just get things started.

Want to be an author but have never written a word? Go register Phoenix Publishing LLC, pay the fees, inform the IRS, call a CPA, read “Profit First”, and feel the motivation to start writing.

Want to design t-shirts or become a graphic designer or professional dog-walker or a beer brewer? Do it now. Take steps. Action breeds action. Commitment leads to creativity.

No, seriously. Whatever your business idea you should get the ball rolling. Today. You may be sitting on your computer naked drinking a cup of coffee (or maybe on your work computer dicking around… probably not naked) but you obviously have access to everything you need to stop being an employee and start being an owner, of both your employment and your life.

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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”

 

The Upside to Anxiety?

Since seeing a therapist and getting on Bupropion my anxiety levels have become much more manageable. I very rarely freak out, enter downward spirals, or procrastinate to the point of panic. Life seems much more manageable and not as overwhelming. I am much more at peace with myself, my relationships, and my future.

But, the results of this healing has not been a Pareto superior move. Sure, parts of my life are better off but there has been a cost and parts of my life are worse of. Specifically, my motivation to excel.

Anxiety, a feeling of doom, lack of satisfaction, catastrophizing… those things all lead to me pushing harder and harder towards whatever goal I became fixated on at the time. It as absolutely no coincidence that my motivation to work out has somewhat peetered out. I am still in fine shape and I am much more emotionally satisfied with my fitness level now than usual, but I am not at my healthiest and I have neglected some practices that I really should be doing to become healthier.

Anxiety pushed me very hard because I felt like I had no choice. It was like an eternal Sword of Damocles hanging over my head and my distorted thinking thought I could outrun it if I just had a six pack, fucked enough people, read 100 books an hour, or made a bazillion dollers. That last one isn’t true, even at my most stressed out I never really concerned myself with money. Coming from a poor family and spending literal years without a house means I am pretty comfortable with being broke and in debt. Weirdly, money almost never stresses me out.

Now, I no longer really feel that inevitable doom but I also have yet to develop a healthy way to motivate myself to a place of reasonable moderation. I am no longer at an extreme but I’ve shifted to the other side of the golden mean. I am struggling to find a healthier way to motivate myself, which really isn’t surprising since I am undoing decades of programming.

I wouldn’t undo my decision to see a therapist and seek help, but it hasn’t been a clear path to my desired goals. Progress is not linear and I am facing new struggles with procrastination, excuses, and motivation. I’ve got about 10 days before Iceland and I’m not nearly in the shape I wanted to be. I can’t do anything about the past but I can get things moving again today. I’m going to go for a short run, hit the gym today, and try to get my diet under control a bit.

I can’t start to fight these new challenges yesterday, but I can today.

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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”

Three Dreams

Last week, I had three memorable dreams. I usually don’t remember my dreams but I took some 5-HTP last week and that always helps me remember my dreams. So, these three dreams left me thinking and I decided to ask my therapist what her thoughts were on them.

I started by asking what her thoughts on dreams were and I was happy to hear her response. She said that she thinks individuals are the best at interpretating their own dreams. Books that try to generalize or universalize dream interpretation are unscientific and usually wrong.

I basically agree with her. Personally, I think dreams there are two sources of dream interpretation. First, the dreams are our subconscious working something out. It taps into stuff we have suppressed or struggle with and tries to find purpose and healing. Second, I think some dreams are absolute gibberish but we interpret them using our unconscious perspective, like seeing something in a Rorschach Test.  Regardless of the source, I think there can be value in analyzing our own dreams and running them by a therapist who can provide a somewhat removed perspective.

Okay, on to my three dreams.

Dream 1: I had a dream that Anna and I were at an event (rave? festival? random travel?) and she basically ignored me the entire time. Instead, she spent her time hanging out with friends and left me alone.

Interpretation: I am struggling with working from home and not having much of a social life here in Wilmington. Part of that is because we’ve been travelling so much that scheduling stuff with friends has been difficult. I also have some buried frustration (jealousy? resentment?) that Anna has a friend group through work and I don’t. When she gets home I am antsy to be social, go out, and do things, but she has been surrounded by friends all day and is more interested in relaxing. I definitely don’t want this to metastasize and this dream has reinforced the need for me to be more proactive in being social.

Dream 2: I am laying down with my head on my therapist’s lap. I’m in the fetal position and crying. My therapist is significantly larger than me (which is strange because my therapist is fairly petite and definitely smaller than me), I am basically child-size, and there is some sort of transparent aura that extends out from her body around me.

Interpretation: I increasingly view my therapist as a safe, protective, and maybe even maternal support system. A lot of what my therapist and I have unpacked are things about my past, my childhood, and how I tend to hide the “child” in me. I also still have some very strong subconscious issues when it comes to feeling safe or secure with women because my first two serious relationships ended because I was cheated on and, in one case, abused.

I was actually somewhat scared to share this dream with my therapist. I was afraid that she would interpret it in a sexual way and decide that it wouldn’t be right for her and I to keep seeing each other. I guess because I tend to view things through a fairly sexual lens then she would as well. I told her about my fears and she reassured me that there was nothing wrong with my dream and that even if I told her that I had a full-on sex dream about her there would be nothing wrong with that and that wouldn’t be cause to stop seeing her. She assured me that she wasn’t going to abandon me or push me away or shame me for my thoughts, feelings, or actions. I cried a little bit.

There is a part of me that is actually a bit surprised that I haven’t had particularly strong sexual thoughts about her. She is very attractive and kind of my “type*”, but I think that is why I’ve been so comfortable opening up with her. I tend to be more open with women I am attracted to. As time has gone on though my sexual attraction to her has diminished and a platonic friendship(?) has come to the front. I think that’s a good thing.

Dream 3: I was sitting at a table gorging myself on food that I’m ethically opposed to eating. I felt like a huge sinner but couldn’t stop shoveling meat into my mouth.

Interpretation: This really goes to the core of some of the things that she and I have been working on. I feel like I am very flawed, guilty, and unlovable. I also catastrophize things where every small mistake, misstep, or “sin” causes incredibly anxiety and I can’t forgive myself (or others). My medication has helped significantly but I still have not completely rooted this out of my system.

I think this all comes from my upbringing. Being raise in an environment where something like masturbation could lead to burning eternally can really fuck with a child’s self-worth and ability to accurately judge reactions. That child then becomes an adult who can logically see the errors in that way of thinking but the ruts have been worn in those neuro-pathways and it is difficult to create new ones.

My therapist gave me some homework, as she usually does, that will challenge these beliefs and work to untangle my mind a bit. The most awkward assignment is that she instructed me to write a daily affirmation that I should say daily out loud, as well as recommended a book with daily readings on this subject, “Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On”. So, my morning routine has a couple extra steps that I’m going to integrate.

This feels super awkward and vulnerable, but here is my affirmation draft:

I am a good person who deserves to be happy.
My friends value me for my honesty, openness, and loyalty.
I am loved by many and I love myself.
There is nothing wrong with loving myself.
I will continue to be kind and patient with myself.
I am a human being with flaws but there is nothing wrong with that.
My pursuit of self-improvement and education is admirable,
but I am great here and now.
I am a good person who makes the world a better place.

*I don’t really have a “type”, I tend to be attracted to an overall aesthetic that can vary significantly in body type, outfits, attitude, etc.


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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”

The Upanishads

As part of my pursuit of personal growth I am spending some time reading spiritual texts. First, I read the Book of Mark and shared my thoughts on it (see earlier blog posts). Now, I am reading through some of the texts that influenced Hinduisms, the Upanishads. Like my exploration of Mark, I am going to share my notes, questions, and random musings in kind of a free-wheeling format. But, unlike Mark, I am completely unfamiliar with the Upanishads and will be viewing this through a lens that is very different than the texts. Namely, my Christian American upbringing will impact my perspective and references. I intentionally did not read the introduction to this translation or anything, I am entering it pretty much blind.

Anyway, on to the Upanishads. First up, Isha Upanishad.

*Okay, these are written in a poetic format. That will make things a little more difficult for me. I tend to work better with story format.*

1: Reminds me a lot of Christianity, to be honest. “The Lord is enshrined in the hearts of all” is a lot like the “god  shaped hole” that I was told everyone has. To me, this points to a united search for answers and spiritual meaning, similar to the Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy.

1-2: “Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord… Thus alone will you work in real freedom.” Definitely some Stoic vibes… did the Stoics encounter Eastern philosophy? Happiness, satisfaction, joy come from coveting less, not acquiring more.

After verse(?) 2 the discussion moves from the Lord to the Self. I’m not sure exactly what the interaction between the two is. They seem separate, but both can be denied with tragic consequences. To deny the Self is to be enveloped in darkness and devoid of love for the Lord.

The Self has a shitton of attributes… it is swifter than thought and senses, motionless but outruns pursuit, and is necessary for Life. It seems to move but is still, seems far away but is near, within all, transcends all… umm, okay.

6-7: Here there is a lot of talk about seeing yourself in other living creatures and all living creatures in themselves. Here is a pretty stark difference between Christianity and this reading. This seems to say humans really aren’t as special as we think and that seeing ourselves in nature (instead of above it) prevents fear and grief.

8: Back to the Self… indivisible, untouched by sin, wise, immanent, transcendent, and holds the cosmos together. This sounds a lot like the Lord. So maybe the Self and Lord are one?

9-11: I don’t really get this part. For people where the world is without alone there is darkness but it leads to action. For people where the world is with alone there is greater darkness but it leads to meditation. With action and meditation we get immortality. Is this sort of a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” thing? Is darkness inevitable, necessary, good?

Does this mean “time alone” or “loneliness”? I can kind of see that. When I am alone I am not alone I am encouraged to act and when I am alone I am encouraged to meditate. Maybe I should read the introduction to this…

12-14: Here the Lord is given two attributes, the same two attributes attributed to Self.

  1. Transcendent: beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience.
  2. Immanent: existing or operating within, inherent

So the Lord and the Self are spiritual and inside us all. I’m guessing that isn’t self-evident for many people and even those that know it may not believe it. It seems necessary to recognize both of these attributes. We cross the sea of death with immanence and enter into immortality with transcendence.

Shit. I need to reflect on that more.

15: “The face of truth is hidden by your orb of gold, o sun. May you remove your orb so that I, who adore the true, may see the glory of truth.”

Alright, now we are talking to the sun and its orb of gold. This isn’t really clear to me. I get how individuals may have an “orb of gold” that blocks the truth but how does the sun have one? Isn’t the sun an orb of gold?

16: The sun is the solitary source of life. But so is the Self. Are the sun and the Self the same? That actually makes more sense. Self is the sun but we are distracted by the orb of gold that blocks the truth. Alright, some of these things are coming together for me.

18: “You know all our deeds. Deliver us from evil, we who bow and pray again and again.” Sounds a lot like the Lord’s Prayer.

Alright, that is a lot of question marks. Clearly, this is kind of confusing for me and open to a lot of interpretation. My basic summary of this Upanishad is “To reach immortality we need to recognize that the Self and Lord (which may or may not be the same thing) are both transcendent and immanent. Also, picking one or the other to believe alone leads to darkness.”

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? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

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”