Cold Mornings

I keep hoping my morning walks will get a little warmer but alas, they are still freaking cold. If we didn’t have daylight savings time (can we please just get rid of the transitions?) then it would be a little less chilly or maybe if spring would hurry up and get here. I don’t go for a long walk, just a few blocks, but my fingers stay numb for quite a while after I return.

I can’t wait for spring to get here. Unfortunately, that means summer is just around the corner and summer’s down here are a bit muggy and hot. At this point, I’d prefer it to the cold though. I’m tired of being cold.

Backslidding

It was kind of a rough weekend. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, I just kind of hit a productivity breaking point. My plans for the weekend were to spend Saturday catching up on some work stuff, resting Sunday, and then taking care of a bunch of errands on Monday. Things didn’t really go that way though.

I ended up taking a little Molly on Saturday. I wanted to test a small dose to see how it affected me with my Bupropion. On the plus side, it didn’t seem to have any negative affects. On the negetive side (minus side?), I basically got nothing done on Saturday, which increased my anxiety on Sunday. But on Sunday I did little more than eat pizza and drink beer. I did get all my errands done on Monday, which was pretty good I guess.

I think the medication is really helping me. It is hard to describe but it kind of takes the harshness off my anxious moments. I still feel that “fight or flight or freeze” mechanism kick in during certain circumstances, but it doesn’t really spiral like it used to. I’m able to calm down a little and walk things back. I also seem to be better at using reason to adjust my priorities.

When I’m doing something that isn’t particularly productive two fairly new experiences happen that encourage me to get things done. First, I can more calmly see that my “laziness” isn’t a huge deal and I shouldn’t beat myself up for needing and wanting downtime. In the end, it is okay if I take a weekend off and don’t work or write every single day. This actually has the strange effect of encouraging me to be productive. Second, I am doing a better job of thinking about how my actions will benefit me in the future. Simple stuff like “hey, if I get the house clean before I watch Netflix then I’ll be able to watch it more guilt-free” or “If I knock out this work responsibility today then I won’t need to worry about it this weekend” become convincing and help me get shit done.

So yeah, it wasn’t a fabulously productive weekend but I don’t feel too bad about it either. I’m not behind on any of my work, my writing is starting to take shape, and I’m getting more and more comfortable with my fitness level. A day or two without exercise, work, or writing doesn’t feel like a huge betrayal anymore. Things are feeling pretty good.

So, those are the two issues I’ve identified that may be making Thursday a little rough for me. Hopefully, some minor adjustments will correct this and allow me a full week of productivity and creation.

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

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a social media break!

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

Thursday….

Thursday is almost always my least productive day. I seem to get less done, I’m drained of energy, and I am most susceptible to my worst gluttonous habits for food and drink. Focus on work or writing is almost non-existent and I constantly distract myself with mundane tasks instead of what’s important. Whenever my attention is drawn to an urgent email my heart rate quickens and stress chemicals flood my system. Of course, these emails are almost never actually urgent (very few ever are) but they feel urgent.

So, why is it Thursday that is so bad for me? Because a few things collide to create a storm that drains my batteries. Luckily, now that I think I’ve identified some of the culprits I can start to make some changes.

Problem 1:

The first issue is lack of sleep. I play D&D on Wednesday nights until about 11 pm, which means after walking home I am usually in bed around 11:30 but still a little wired. Sleep usually doesn’t come until midnight (and even later if I try to fill the bedtime boredom with email or social networks). Then, the alarm is blaring at 5 am. I’ve been operating really well off of 7 hours of sleep but 5 just doesn’t seem to be enough.

Solution 1:

This is a relatively easy fix, I should wake up at 6 am instead of 5 am. I think that extra hour of sleep will do me wonders and I am sure I can find some time throughout the day to gain an hour. Maybe just a reduction in my writing time or workout time or something. Actually, the working out might not be the issue here because I neglect my workouts most often on Thursday.

Problem 2:

The second issue is the way I handle my weekly blogging schedule. Thursday is when I publish a weekly wrap up, including my fitness results. The problem is that this gives me a sense of completion about the week, and when I’ve mentally finished something I don’t want to jump into something new. I want a period of recovery instead of just going about my day like things are normal. I also am much more likely to go on to Facebook to see if anyone has liked my post. I return to get a little endorphin fix instead of working on my writing and job.

Solution 2:

Again, a relatively easy fix. I think if I push my workout posting schedule until Friday afternoon once work is complete. I am not really someone who has a consistent “week” and “weekend” right now, but I’m becoming more convinced that I need that. I need to be able to shut down after a certain hour each day and after a certain day each week. I’ll still exercise and read and do the things I love, but my work needs to stop. My final blog that wraps up each week should actually come at the end of the week.

 

So, those are the two issues I’ve identified that may be making Thursday a little rough for me. Hopefully, some minor adjustments will correct this and allow me a full week of productivity and creation.

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

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a social media break!

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

Week 5 Update

In keeping with my pursuit of deeper conversations and connections with friends (and future friends), here is an update on my week, the intimate and mundane. If you’d like to start a conversation with me using this post as a prompt, or really using anything you want as a prompt, please email me at pjneiger@gmail.com . Or, if you’d like to send me an anonymous message or question to respond to you can message me at pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH. I won’t really be checking Facebook or other social media networks consistently.

March started off pretty well for me. My partner and I went over to a friend’s house last week for wine and snacks and had an incredibly good time. Making friends for two introverts like us can be tough in a new city and I finally start to feel like we have some friendships blossoming. Even when we meet people it seems difficult to get out there and do things. Life gets busy and we don’t feel like doing much more than Netflix at night, or we do things but they are kind of spontaneous and I feel awkward randomly inviting people at the last minute (I’m getting over this, though). Regardless, the friendships are developing and I hope more nights like last Thursday will happen soon. It was really the first time that we’ve found people who were not judgmental about some of the, umm, less conventional parts of our lives. Basically, it was the first time I felt like I could discuss my drug use in a place where people understood, had similar experiences, and possibly still enjoyed the occasional roll (nobody else admitted to doing it semi-regularly like me but it seemed possible other MDMA users were in the house). I’m trying to make a much more conscious effort to reach out to people and create opportunities to hang out.

On Friday, our favorite bottle shop, “Hey! Beer” had their third anniversary and it was a madhouse. There were so many people there that we couldn’t really enjoy a board game and stuff like we (somewhat) planned. I am really happy for the owners though, our favorite place has really grown in popularity over the last year, but the chill atmosphere we love about it isn’t really present during big events. I’ll always still go out and support them but my expectations are shifting.

My weekend was mostly filled with catching up on work. A deadline was pushed up a bit and I had to focus on finishing a project. Not an ideal weekend, but it didn’t take too long.

The big highlight from this week (so far) was seeing a therapist for the first time in a long time. I met with a psychologist and discussed my nutrition, the stuff I’m struggling with, goals and such. After hearing about the things I was struggling with we came up with a CBT plan, he gave me some books to read, and then he referred me to a psychiatrist to see if medication might help me during the weeks before CBT can take hold. The psychiatrist asked me some similar questions and then came up with a medication plan (Wellbutrin) that he thinks will help. We are going to reevaluate in a few weeks. I’m on my fourth day with Wellbutrin and it has been a really solid week, I feel good and productive but part of me wonders if that might be a placebo effect. So far, no real side effects except a slightly diminished appetite and a higher sex drive.

One thing that really stood out to me about this whole experience was how focused they were on my diet and exercise. They really wanted to make sure I was getting the nutrition I needed and plenty of outdoor time first before turning to any medication. It was actually reassuring and nothing like the “just drug them up” mentality that I thought a lot of psychiatrists had. Actually, after some research and talking with my psychologist, it really sounds like general practitioners prescribing psychiatric medicines are the ones who are doing it improperly, not mental health professionals.

On Tuesday I went and got a massage from an amazing massage therapist in town. I met her through a friend and she really knew how to work the muscles that were tight and aching. 10/10 Will be back soon.

I haven’t really created any writing this week (except for the daily blog posts below), but I did get a fair amount of reading done.

Books Completed:
“Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth about Reality” by Brad Warner
“Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca” by Dr. Richard Miller

Currently Reading:
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling
“Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport
“The Batterer: A Psychological Profile” by Donald Dutton
“Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World” by Robin Ochs

 

This week has been a really good one for my fitness. I’ve had a great session with my trainer, went to Outside the Box Fitness on Tuesday, they gym yesterday, and biked, rucked almost every day. I’m really starting to notice progress in my appearance (though, I’m not sure if the pictures are showing it). I’m happy with how things are looking into “More Muscle March” and I think I’ll be near my next weight milestone by mid-April. Oh, I actually hit my first weight milestone this week when the scale was in the 160’s for the first time in nearly a year. Yay!

 

 

 

 

 

So, here is what my next week looks like so far:

  • Physical therapist appointment today
  • Work on and complete a new work assignment that I’m actually pretty excited about
  • Anna’s going to be basically away for the whole week with work
  • I want to check out the Unitarian Church on Sunday
  • Normal workout stuff: personal trainer on Monday, gym 2-3 other times, get outside daily for running/rucking/cycling
  • Dental appointment on Monday
  • Zen meditation group on Tuesday that I want to check out
  • Hope to finish two more books

 

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 about life in general?

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”

 

On The Periphery

There are certain things in my life that always seem to have been floating around the peripheries. Philosophies and ideas that I never quite got motivated enough to research or spend time contemplating. Habits and practices that I never really dedicated myself to developing. Pursuits and creative endeavors that I never quite made time for. These floating possibilities provide different ways I can shape my life, different paths I can take as I explore this (probably) one beautiful life that I have. The pursuit of any of these things with seriousness could shape how I view the world and how the world views me.

Meditation is one of these things.

I’ve long been convinced of the benefits of a meditative practice. I’ve read a few books and heard testimonies from high performers, but I’ve never really been able to make it work. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the most productive, healthy, fit, and happy periods of my life involved meditation. But was I meditating because I was in a productive phase or was I in a productive phase because I was meditating regularly?

I’ve tried a variety of tools like guided meditations online, the Headspace app, and my own failed attempts to just use my willpower, but nothing seems to stick. I try, and I fail, over and over and over again. I don’t really notice any tangible results, it never really got easier. I suck at it… but still it sits, floating seductively on the edge of my consciousness luring me to try it again because maybe, just maybe, this time it’ll stick.

So, I’m going to start giving it another try. But this time, I’m going to get some help. I’ve recently realized that I need professional help to thrive in the way I’d like. My fitness is benefiting from a personal trainer, my mental health from a therapist, my career from a coach, and my overall life from bi-monthly Skype sessions with two dear friends (who in a way are also mentors). I’ve decided to start attending group meditation sessions with the local Buddhist community, Bhavana Community of Coastal Carolina.

I was really inspired when I finished reading (well, listening to), “Hardcore Zen” by Brad Warner. The way the author spoke of zazen has me itching to stare at a wall. We will see how it goes. I’m sure I’ll fail, but I’m equally sure I’ll get back up and keep following the siren-call of silence.

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 about life in general?

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”

Where I’d Like to Work

I’m reading “Deep Work” right now and it is really making me want to build some sort of work sanctuary at my house. A place where I can truly isolate myself that is dedicated solely to writing and creating. My home office is pretty good but I use the computer in it and room for other things as well. I think I could really benefit from having a place without internet or distractions. Maybe I’ll try and build one if/when we buy a house.

Actually, I also have grander ideas. I think it would be super awesome to build some sort of working (and living?) facility that incorporates the philosophy of “Deep Work” for people who work from home. Currently, there are nine people that I know in Wilmington well enough to really call if I needed something or wanted to hang out and five of them work from home. My sample is obviously skewed because most people meet friends at work and I don’t, but I think a joint office space for business and art could be awesome.

I kind of envision it like this. It would be a fairly large building with two main rooms and a lot of smaller rooms. The first main room would be a food, drink, and relaxation area where people can talk, socialize and discuss their passion projects. This could allow for collaboration and spontaneous ideas. Who knows what would develop if architects and managers and painters and authors and entrepreneurs all hung out together in an area dedicated to deep work and creation? There would be whiteboards and paper around to record any spontaneous ideas.

The second room would be a library and study room. I imagine lots of books and journals lining the walls from current and past passion projects. There would also be computers in this room with access to the internet (maybe). Here is where people would go when they hit a technical roadblock. Deep, creative work is necessary but if you need to know facts or familiarize yourselves with someone’s theories then you need to read up on them.

Lastly, the smaller rooms. These rooms are the soul of the workspace. Each person who was part of this work environment would have a room to customize as they need. Some people may need a blank room while others have a small speaker or art on the wall. This is where deep work would happen. The rooms would be soundproof and free from distractions. Nobody would disturb someone in this room unless the building was on fire or something. No internet, no tv… just a space to work deeply, create and enter into a flow state.

Maybe it could be run as a non-profit to lower costs, but I imagine that there would need to be some sort of monthly payment on behalf of the participants (unless I become a Bitcoin Billionaire randomly). I guess it could start small and scale up. I have no idea how I would go about creating a space like this or even if it would be valuable for other people. I can’t help but wonder though…

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 about life in general?

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”

What Should We Do With Batterers?

I’m currently reading “The Batterer: A Psychological Profile” by Donald Dutton and Susan Golant and it has brought a lot of old questions to mind. Primarily, what do we do about abhorrent behavior like abuse, racism, etc. Particularly, what do we do with people who act this way and how do we prevent it in the future?

Let’s take an extreme case, someone who sexually assaults small children.

It is easy to say “throw them in jail”, but what does that actually solve? It may get someone off the street for a certain amount of time but does it help that person heal and become a part of society? Or does it just put them in an environment where they will face violence, become more violent themselves, and cost society limited resources? Does it actually help the victims or prevent this behavior in the future by other people?

If we are seeking to make the world a better place then we need to recognize how complex and multifaceted these behaviors are. As Dutton and Golant in “The Batterer”:

“It’s easy, given the atrocities against battered wives, simply to dismiss abusers as less than human or to see all men as inherently violent, as suffering from, as some call it, ‘testosterone poisoning.’ But if we do that, we draw a firm battle line between male and female, viewing all females as victimes of intimate abuse and all males as perpetrators. And drawing those lines limits our ability to understand.”

If we want to prevent future harm and help all parties heal, then we need to understand. And to understand we need to recognize that the perpetrators are humans and are likely victims of past abuse as well. I know that this is uncomfortable because to look into the eyes of someone who abuses or rapes or murders and realize that they are like me, that my urges and thoughts are not that different from theirs, that given a different life or genes I would be acting as they act, is terrifying. It forces us to hold up a mirror to the dark sides of our own identity. It is much easier to treat someone as subhuman and abandon them to the criminal “justice” system or vigilante justice. But that won’t really improve the world. Things don’t get better if violence is met with violence if instead of exhausting all options for healing and understanding we simply say “that act is bad and we are going to cut you out of society”.

If we want fewer racists, healthy families, and safe children then we can’t treat abhorrent acts as acts that dehumanize the perpetrators. Instead, we need to recognize them as complex individuals and we can’t view the circumstances that brought about those actions and views as compartmentalized. Society, religion, family, genetics, etc. all play a role in creating abusers and bigots and rapists. They don’t just materialize out of thin air. If our response to them is one of attempting to heal and understand and prevent, then we create a world where those acts are less likely to occur. But if instead, we create a world where those acts lead to dehumanization, violence, and ostracism, then we only help breed more harm to innocent people in the future.

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 about life in general?

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”

 

Toronto? or DC?

The last year and a half has started to bring some clarity into what I’d like to spend more of my life doing. Working in therapy has been at the top of the list but I was never really sure which area I’d like to work in. Relationship therapy for LGBT families? Assisting polyamorous and open families navigate that dynamic? Using MDMA to help others deal with trauma? Building a healthy relationship with kinks, fetishes, and sexual desires?

I love them all, but I think my passion is moving a different (sort of) direction… towards death. I think I want to help people have a healthy relationship with death and assist people transition in a peaceful way. The first step towards this is to attend an end-of-life duola training event to get a better understanding of what I might be in for.

Luckily, there are over a dozen training events across North America and I have finally figured out which weekend I can go: May 18-20. My two options are Toronto, Canada or Washington DC. But which one should I choose? Let’s make a pros and cons list…

Toronto Pros:
New city to explore
Likely to be more social because I don’t know anyone
Unlikely that I’ll be back in Toronto again

Toronto Cons:
Travel is more expensive
I won’t know anyone, which may mean I just bunker in my hotel
No opportunity for free room

DC Pros:
Cheaper travel
I know plenty of places that I can sleep
Get to see some friends that I haven’t seen in a long time (or ever)

DC Cons:
I’ve been here before… a lot, and I don’t really like it
I probably won’t make as many connections with other attendees
I’ll be back here again, probably soon

Actually, when I look at that list it is obvious which one I should choose.

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 about life in general?

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”

Balance

How can I find the balance when planning my day? My week? My month? My life?

Do I plan things in a conservative way so that I don’t burn out? But if I do that, will I ever reach my potential?

Do I plan things in an aggressive way so that I stay busy and reach for the stars? But if I do that, will I burn out fast and end up quitting?

How many times a week can I work out? Three times? Seven times? Fourteen times?

How many words can I write each day? Five hundred? One thousand? Five thousand?

How many books can I read each week? One? Two? Seven? Ten?

How do I combine these goals into the perfect alchemelic formula for gold? One workout, 1/5th a book, and 1,000 words per day? Two workouts, 1/4th a book, and 2,500 words per day?

Where do I put my goals? How do I reach for the stars with a sense of reality?

How can I recognize my own real limits without selling myself short?

How do I handle the disruption that comes each day from work and love and life? How do I stop being five-minutes off schedule from snowballing into an hour and then surrender?

What weight do I give each day to physical health and creative pursuits and time with my partner? Does the weight change each day or week or month?

How the fuck do I balance?

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 about life in general?

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”

Self-Assessment

“Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self-estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can.” – Seneca, Tranquility of Mind, 5.2 (From “The Daily Stoic”)

Oh papa Seneca, how right you are sometimes. But I would take it one step further or, more accurately, add another extreme to avoid. I believe we commonly think that we can do significantly less than we really can. At least that’s been my experience.

I am much more likely to avoid something because it seems difficult than to tackle something that I can’t handle. In fact, it is pretty rare that I’ve tried something and really failed at it. I’m generally too lazy and lack the motivation to push my limits. Or, maybe, this all just a huge failure at finding a true self-estimate of myself.

It is very possible that I am misremembering how challenging things seemed up front and I’ve forgotten my failures. Minds are a funny thing that helps us view the world through a majorly distorted lens. I don’t really think a “true self-estimate” is possible. We just can’t be objective about ourselves and there are so many complex variables that establishing an objective system for self-analysis is almost impossible. It would be nice if life was like D&D and I could just check my stats… oh, I have 9 Charisma, well I shouldn’t try that or I should work on improving that. Oh, my Dexterity is higher than my Strength, that means I should leverage that focus on activities that match my skills.

But life isn’t like that. We are not yet at the point where we can look to a computer screen to see our level, strengths, and the nature of our relationships with other people. Instead, we need to turn to others that we trust (who will also be flawed but with enough inputs from a variety of sources we can triangulate the truth). So, I turn to friends and professionals. I ask my best friend to be straight with me, I send writing to an editor, I seek a coach and trainer to address my weaknesses.

Only then, can a true self-analysis begin to form. But it isn’t a “self” analysis because nothing in this world is that individualistic. We are communal creatures and the sooner we recognize that, the better.

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 about life in general?

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”