Week 8 (and March) 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. It all started with this blog post and now I have a half dozen or so people that I regularly exchange emails with. We talk about family, love, struggles, work, small talk, our passions, sex, death, money, and everything else under the sun. Several of my new pen-pals are people I’ve never actually met, but I feel a connection with them and look forward to someday meeting in person.

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 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.

The month has been a little rough for me. I fell out of my solid February routine and spent most of the month treading water or taking two steps forward and one step back. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I felt like things were sliding a bit. Mostly, it comes down to both my natural cycle and March being a pretty hectic month. I’m excited for April though, for two reasons. First, my partner and I are committing to an “abstinence April” where we are giving up all food with added sugar, including beer. Second, I have basically nothing on my April schedule except for VegFest in two weeks (and that isn’t a stressor). Though, I think we are going to take a 10-hour break from our “no added sugar” rule for VegFest because we won’t really be in control of the food.

My business for March really came down to some very good reasons, primarily health and friendships. I had eight different medical appointments, including a dentist, therapist, physical therapist, and massage therapist. These appointments were valuable and necessary but they did seriously disrupt my routine. When two days per week have a mid-day appointment it becomes difficult to get into a fitness routine (particularly one that has scheduled classes involved) or even a life routine. But April won’t have those.

Additionally, I had a trip to Myrtle Beach to see the Avett Brothers and friends, two different sets of Couchsurfers/Warmshowers people stay with us, and that kick-ass rucking event that I did last week. All of these were awesome experiences, but it means that my weekends couldn’t really be described as “relaxing”.

So, without a solid weekday or weekend schedule, my ass had trouble finding solid ground to sit on. But, I’m proud of myself because despite the chaos I didn’t really backslide this month. I may not have made the progress I wanted, but I also didn’t regress.

Okay, enough about a quick month recap. Here are the intimate and mundane details from the last week:

  • I’ve really struggled with my social media blackout this week. I’m still trying to figure out why it has been so difficult but for some reason, I’ve been checking Facebook constantly. It is time to change the password again (once I memorize the password there is no additional barrier) and get back into weekly checking. Hopefully, I can get to the source of my urge to check Facebook and address the root problem.
  • I finished “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and cried. Then I watched the movie and I cried again.
  • I’m having trouble deciding what book to start next. I am reading three books right now but they aren’t exactly “sit down and get lost” books. One is about CBT therapy and is really more of a self-help book, one is a massage therapy textbook, and one is some personal essays from bisexuals around the world. I need some fiction or something intellectually stimulating but my bookshelf is giving me paralysis from all the choices. (I will be starting the next Harry Potter next month when my next Audible selection can be made for free)
  • Work has been a little slow on the deliverables this week and I’ve been focusing on mastering a new work-related skill set (Disaster Relief planning) and being available for spontaneous work
  • Had a great day with the trainer on Wednesday despite still being fucking sore from the ruck weekend.
  • Oh, and I had the 16-hour ruck weekend, I won’t regurgitate it here because I already blogged about it.
  • I got back into regular blogging and put up five blog posts, the goal is daily posts though:
  • During D&D we snuck around a fire giant’s lair, had a rogue join us, confused some goblins, stole a seashell, freed some slaves, and I almost caught a bed on fire
  • Got another filling, only one more dental appointment this year before I’m caught up. To be honest, I’m thrilled that all I needed was three fillings and a crown after going over ten years without seeing a dentist
  • I had a brainstorm/support session with one of my close friends last night on Zoom. These bi-monthly meetings with friends where we support each other and help find solutions to struggles is becoming incredibly helpful
  • I met with my therapist today and it went really well. I’m joining a mindfulness meditation therapy program next week that I’m excited about.

During the next week I really only have two things:

  • A massage on Tuesday
  • Two friends of ours that we met on our cross-country bike ride are coming to visit this weekend
  • Mindfulness therapy group starts next Friday

Alright, on to fitness progress. At first, I really didn’t think I made any progress this month. I was going to be very happy with just maintaining my February gains. But, after looking at the numbers and the photos I see that I’ve actually lost five pounds in March and I can see greater muscle definition in the photos, particularly in the arms. This is why tracking lead and lag indicators is important and beneficial to me, it helps me recognize my achievements when I feel down. Despite the last two weeks really not moving things in the direction I want, the overall trend is still positive. At this point, I am about 10 lbs away from my preferred weight.

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”

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