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GDPR – I Don’t Get It

I’ve been terrified of blogging lately. Apparently, under new rules if someone from the EU visits my site and I somehow don’t comply with their trillion page policy I can be fined for millions of dollars? I don’t usually swear until much further in posts when passion reaches a swearing level. But, what the fuck! Seriously, I just started this blog as a place to share my thoughts and may one day make some money at it. At least, if I learned now and started it would much easier to begin an online business down the road, right?

Well of course, when I decide to do something that’s when it comes crashing down. It can’t be true. I can’t be liable for millions of dollars in fines, but I also don’t get it. I’ve read multiple articles and some say it’s so important that companies are choosing to not even do online business in the EU anymore. And others are saying it’s no big deal.

And then there are articles saying the US will implement their own policy and that slowly by slowly, country by country, we will begin putting our own policies in place and shutting each out. Our open world will again become isolated like it was, and to be honest, that might not be entirely bad. I’ve pretty much known the internet my entire life. I was just a kid before it, so my good memories are probably from a time when I lived in the moment and didn’t know any better, not because their was no internet. But my parents talk about a time when they enjoyed life more than they enjoyed world that our devices have sucked us into. A digital lobotomy they say.

Those were different times though. I get it was nice before then, but can we really go back. The world has changed, people are dependent on the internet. Those living in developing countries have been given hope and becoming online entrepreneurs which is changing their lives. Will the GDPR and other policies like it eventually tell bloggers in countries with far less wealth and resources that they can’t make a living online anymore or risk being fined for millions?

Of course that is absurd. The blogger could just comply with the rules. But apparently, the rules are not so easy to comply with. I’ve read that all I have to do is install a plugin and I’m good to go. If that were true, why are some companies spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to become GDPR compliant? I get that their software is more complex, that they have mulitple systems and so on. But the principles are the same for everyone are they not?

And this isn’t just people in developing countries. The reason I wanted to eventually make money online is because I know the economy here is not going to last. Whether it’s corruption because our governments and the rich do not give a shit about us, or if it’s automation and artificial intelligence that takes our jobs. We need to take control of our own future. But now they are regulating the one tool the gave us a fighting chance. And for the record, I really hate it when people say “they”. Who are they? I sure as hell don’t know.

I also want to make it clear for the 2 people (if that) who ever read this. I know the purpose is supposed to be a good thing, to protect people’s privacy and personal information. I get that. What I don’t get is that I can be opening up myself to legal punishment simply for having a blog. So I’ve decided I’m not going to get crazy with it for now.

For two reasons;

1. I don’t understand it fully and I don’t want to be liable for something I don’t understand. I mean, do I trust someone’s article, opinion, and interpretation I just found online? No. But I’m also not going to hire a lawyer just so I can run a blog.

2. What if I do all of that; set up my blog social media profiles, an email list, affiliate marketing accounts, learn SEO, and start putting in hours everyday only to have it all go to waste when more of these policies prevent our websites from even being seen by other people. It’ll be like the digital versions of the Berlin Wall.

I also don’t want to be pessimistic and give up before I even try. It’s like trying to buy a house and hoping your timing is good. I’ll keep reading and learning, but I’m certainly not ready to yet. And yes, I also realize that somewhere in the back of my brain I could be using this as an excuse to not start.

~Les

Our Own Worst Enemy

I was inspired by Lily to write this post. It’s amazing how our children are a reflection of us. Not just “our” children… but children in general. What I mean is, as adults we think we’ve outgrown childhood. That we’re better and more evolved. But it’s not always true. We can learn so much from children, if we look at them as a mirror into our own mind and soul.

Lily was playing outside in the yard yesterday and I sat on the porch watching her. I know… I should have been writing but for now, my blog is for fun not to get rich. She was gathering sticks and leaning them against a tree to make a shelter for her dolls. It started out okay, but as she added more sticks, or twigs really, a few of the others would fall. She’d put them back into place, add another… and then another would fall. This went on for at least 20 minutes and she finally has her shelter built.

It’s amazing to me that she can focus on one thing for five minutes, never mind twenty. But she didn’t give up. She didn’t even get frustrated. Lily just kept trying different ways to lean those twigs up until she succeeded. I asked her later if she wondered if it wasn’t going to work and she looked at me as though she had no idea what I was talking about… because she didn’t. She’s seen on TV and in books many lean-to shelters so it not working was never even a consideration. It was simply a puzzle, a new thing she had to figure out.

Now, when did we as adults lose that? What I mean is that, the shelter was not about her, it was about the shelter so it didn’t even occur to her that it would not work. How many times in life do we do things that we know other people have successfully done and thought, maybe it won’t work? I’m not talking about dunking a basketball here. I’m talking about every day successes that other people have achieved. Nothing extraordinary.

As we get older something changes and that thing we’re doing becomes about us. Why can’t I do it? Why won’t it work for me? But that’s bullshit. Creating a successful blog for example. I get online all of the time and find people who are succeeding online. Like Work From Home Happiness for example.  I envy others who can make this blog thing work, and I ask myself all the time if it can work for me. There are millions of people making money with their blog online, so I know it can work. In an objective sense, it has nothing do with me. If I learn what to do, and do it, it will work. It’s not about “can it work for me”. It’s about “can I work for it”.

But that’s not what we do as adults. We project the doubts we of ourselves onto the objects of our ambition, and then doubt the object. Lily didn’t doubt the shelter. That was a given. And, being a child she hasn’t developed personal limitations either. She just does, and there is no question.

Among the other walls we put in front of ourselves, the distractions, indecisions, and excuses; this is just another one of those things that we do that make us our own worst enemy when it comes to achieving the things we want.

~Les

I’m Learning About Affiliate Marketing

I haven’t posted recently, in part because I’ve been busy with home stuff… but also, I’ve been researching and learning more about this online thing. At first I thought it would just be an online journal, a place to share my thoughts. Then I learned people were actually making money with their blogs, and with other methods online. But knowing a little, is different from actually doing it. I’ve always said I’ll share what I learn here along the way… and that’s what I wanted to do today.

I feel like I’ve been searching and searching, how to make money with my website… and there is so much information it’s really overwhelming. I found a lot of products that had nothing to do with blogging. I found some blogging products that didn’t really talk about making money… and then finally, as I fell down the rabbit hole I found this Wealthy Affiliate review from a husband and wife blog called Gig Hustlers. The reason it stood out to me is because Jay also had a blog, like me, and didn’t know how to make money with it either. So… I’m learning all about affiliate marketing.

I knew that some bloggers had partnerships with some companies, sponsorships and advertising, but I didn’t really understand how big this was online. Affiliate marketing is everywhere. On Youtube, Facebook, podcasts, and yes, blogs. Every time I researched something online and read a review, I was learning about the product from an affiliate marketer who is earning commissions by linking to places I could buy it. I thought maybe they were getting paid as an advertiser, but it doesn’t really work like that. They only get paid if you click their affiliate link and buy the product.

So, my question (to myself) is what kind of products would I want to feature on my blog. The purpose of this was never to talk about products, so I don’t think I will be doing reviews or anything like that. I don’t think so anyway. I also don’t want flashing signs and things popping up on my website. So for now I’ll learn more about it and through Wealthy Affiliate I’ve met some people who are helping me out. I’m not in a hurry to make money online either because that wasn’t the purpose of my blog.

I’m also not sure if I need all these products to start an affiliate marketing business, so I must be careful what I buy. Especially until I learn more about it, because I’m not sure if I really need them or not. One is a keyword tool which tells you how many people are searching something and if it’s popular. And it also tells you if there are a lot of other websites that answer the question people are searching for. If there are too many other websites it means it will be too hard to write a blog post and get noticed in the search engines. If no one is visiting your website you can’t expect to make money, so it makes sense to have that tool, but I’m going to do some more research to find out if there is another way to get that information. I mean, I can just search for things myself and see how many people are writing about it. It’s probably not that easy, but I want to find out more first.

The good thing is that I already have my website, which is one thing I won’t have to learn. This is giving me too many ideas though and now I’m not sure what direction I want to go with my website. Either way, I feel like having it is half my battle and once I figure that out I’ll be in a good position to start. I’m excited. For now though it’ll remain as my personal journal, my compilation of letters, words, ideas and thoughts. Of stuff that might only matter to me.

I’ll be sure to talk more about affiliate marketing in future blog posts so you can learn too.

~ Les

 

I Thought Blogging Would Be Easier

I started this blog with the hopes of writing every few days. I’ve written in my own journal on regular basis, for years. Blogging should be easy right? But, life has funny way of throwing you box of trouble just as you’re bending down to pick something up. “Oh no you don’t! Try this”, says Life. Should I complain? Of course… why not? It doesn’t mean I’ll stop. I’m just expressing my frustration…. being human, being real.

So the title of this post is a little misleading. When I say I thought blogging would be easier, I don’t mean to say it’s hard. Actually, it’s exactly what I thought it would be. It’s my life that strangely became more complicated, at the same time I started blogging. And like a trail of on the edge of cliff, with big rocks to climb over and small stones that slip under your feet, the inability to rest and find a moment for myself has made it hard to get in the writing mood. I suppose that sharing my thoughts where others may read them plays a part. I don’t mind writing a sentence or two in my private journal. But here is different.

My husband jokes because I need to fix my hair and try to look good for the fast food drive thru. I don’t mean to do it, and I think it’s ridiculous too. Who really cares? I guess I do. I don’t want to, but I do. Writing here is just like that. I don’t want to care that people may read what I write, but I do. I care that my spelling it correct, that I’m using proper grammar, saying what I want exactly as it should be said. That’s not what I wanted this to be. It should be real and raw. There’s enough fake polished Stepford blog posts that read like plastic. If I want to curse, I’ll curse. If I’m not in the mood to, I’ll edit it out.

There is a risk that my friends and family will read this, and to be honest that scares me. So I’m not sharing this with friends and family yet. I’m not sure I ever will. That’s the great thing about a blog. It’s not social media, and my friends and family won’t be looking for me here. And I can’t imagine a scenario where they’ll be searching for me on Google and find my site. It’ll be interesting if they do, but they’re as much caught up in their own drama as I am in mine. Which is a strange thought.

If I’m the only one who really cares about my own drama, and everyone else cares about their own drama, does any of it matter? I mean, I get that we’re all in this world together. I have tremendous empathy for others, and I know I have people who care deeply for me as well. But no one’s problems matter as much as our own. We’re all caught in our heads, thinking the same bullshit, over and over and over. And if I don’t care, who does? And maybe that’s the answer. To not care. I don’t mean completely not care. Of course I care about my daughter and my husband, and they’re pain is mine also. I’m talking about the trivial stuff, the little things that add up and get us down. The dent in the car I can’t afford to fix. Which drives me absolutely insane every time I see it. How could I have been so stupid? Why can’t I go back in time and think just a second longer before pulling out of the parking spot to notice the barrier? It eats away at me, as stupid as it sounds. Nobody else gives a fuck. Why do I? It’s not a life or death situation. It bugs me even when I’m not looking at it. When no one is looking at it. The dent just exists, in the driveway where no one gives a fuck about it, or even knows about it. And yet, I’m bothered by it. Surely that’s a defect in my mind.

I guess in a similar way, I thought about how long it’s been since I wrote a post in here. No one is reading it, and even if I get a few visitors, they’re certainly not at the edge of their seat waiting to read what I’m going write next. On the flipside of life’s imperfections that bother us, there is the beauty that only belongs to us. Without imperfection, we can’t have perfection. And while perfection is rare, every now and then I sit, feel the wind on my face and think it’s a perfect moment. Every now and then, even if only for a second, I’ll forget my troubled marriage, the baggage and I’ll experience his perfect touch. It’s rare, and never more than a second before my mind fills the perfect moment with our past, but I have that second.

perfect moment
Do Perfect Moments Exist?

So getting back to blogging being harder than I thought. It’s not what many would think. Yes, time is always a problem. But it’s the fear of what I should share, and how that effects my mood to write. I don’t know if I ever asked the question while writing in my journal if anyone cared. I just wrote. It was for me, and that’s what mattered. Now that others are invited to read those thoughts, just like the drive thru, on the most subtle of levels, I’m trying to be someone other than myself to impress people who may be emphatic, but against the backdrop of their own problems and insecurities… don’t really care… which is both depressing and empowering.

Interesting…

~Les

Frozen

Do you ever get in one of those frozen states? I don’t mean cold frozen, but “unable to do anything” frozen. You know what to do, what you should do, what you need to do, and what should have been done already. But you’re frozen. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately, and I don’t know why. Am I depressed? Am I missing some nutrient? Not getting enough sleep? Frustrated by home and financial pressures? Maybe all of the above.

Without knowing the problem, it’s a hard problem to fix. I was reading an article about mental health issues the other day, and although I sort of dismissed it at the time, I think mental health issues are not absolute. I don’t think I have “mental health issues”. But maybe I’m not mentally healthy either.

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

When i started this blog I did not intend on getting too personal, but I’ll share a piece of my life. I won’t mention details. All I will say is my husband and I were having some serious problems a few years ago, and although on the surface we have worked them out, underneath I still think about them everyday. Not always consciously, but I feel those thoughts manifest in other ways. Agitation. Frustration. A need for change. He would never read this, I hope, but I would be lying if I did not say I often feel like I just want out. I don’t know where I want to go, or what I want to do, but most days I know my life as it is, is not what I want. But I should be grateful for what I have. Despite our problems, I have a husband who loves me and of course, my everything… Lily.

I must also admit to feeling a little stupid. Just the other day I was writing how tough and principled I was. How I wouldn’t spend a moment in a job I didn’t like or with people I didn’t like. And here I am, living a life I’m not happy with. Frozen. I’m a hypocrite. I want to say beautifully flawed.

But maybe I’m thinking too deeply. Maybe it’s nothing a multivitamin can’t fix. I would say I’ll just sleep a little more, but I have difficulty sleeping. And I suppose that kind of answers my question of what it could be. More sleep. But how? I won’t use drugs to help me sleep. Not that I’m afraid of medicine. If I’m in pain the more pills the better is what I say. But drugs to sleep just make me groggy, not just at night, but the next day and it seems to carry on and on and on. I do meditate, but I’m not good at it. And even though I search for presence, and the lack of thought, I can’t deny I always have a lot on my mind.

If there’s one good thing about feeling this way it’s that apparently,people who are confused or stuck in a rut are talented, intelligent and ambitious. And that’s what I keep telling everyone. I’m intelligent and ambitious. I don’t know so much about the talented part =) Anyway, I can’t remember where I read it but I remember something about the small rope that ships use to throw ashore so someone can pull the heavy one. Getting unfrozen is kind of like that. Before we can haul all of ourselves out of our stupor, we need something small, something simple, and most importantly something that does not overwhelm us. I was kind of hoping this blog post would be my small rope. My small gesture to get me moving, and maybe it has been. We’ll see. I kind of feel like picking up my guitar. Unproductive I know, but better than the endless trap that’s social media or another show on TV.

Sorry, I don’t have any wisdom or epiphany to end today’s post. If I had to say one thing though, it’s that if you find yourself feeling frozen or stuck, I promise you. You are not alone.

~Les

Money and Material Desire

Is it wrong to want material things? I spend so much of my time searching for the emptiness that makes stuff possible, the space between thoughts. The space between desire. And then a red Corvette drives by. Yes, I am a car fanatic and since I saw my first Corvette when I was kid, I’ve been in love. I know, you might think I’m a fancy person, and while their is beauty in those “fancy” things they don’t compare to the refined sex of a sports car. Yes, I said it. Sex. Thousands upon thousands of pieces, large and small, singing together in a symphony of power.

I could go on, but by now you probably already think I’m crazy =)

So here’s my dilemma. How can I have passion for both nothingness, and somethingness? Like the search for a unified theory of everything I struggle to come to terms with material obsessions because they require money. Money requires my time and my time is something I don’t want to part with. And yet, when that red Corvette growled, my heart rate rose and I felt both passion and pain. The pain of course, because I can’t have one. To be more honest, I’m not willing to do what it takes to have one.

What bothers me more though, is that half the people who own their dream cars (or houses, jewelry or whatever material possession they covet) probably were not willing to do what it took to get it either. Fortune shone down on them, and the money flowed easy. But you know what bothers me even more than that? I’m bothered that it bothers me. It’s not fair for me to assume how someone makes their money, and many have certainly worked hard for it. More importantly, fawning over what others have and what you don’t is a certain path to misery.

But so is fighting your feelings, your thoughts, your present moment. What is…. is. You CAN do something today to change tomorrow, but you CAN’T do something yesterday to change today. And as far as the present moment goes, it already is. To say no to it, to say no to your thoughts, to say no to your passions and desires, is exhausting. And all of our time which is so important tick-tocks away into the void.

So the answer I think is to want both. To want nothing, and to want something, and just be okay with wanting. If I can have both, it’ll make me happy. But if I can have only one, I need to know for certain which one I want more. And since I’d rather have time over money, I chose nothing. Well, not absolutely nothing. But not a red Corvette either. Perhaps one day I’ll make enough money online to buy my dream car, and when I do it will be on my own terms. I won’t do it working at a job, even if I could. Nope. The only way I’ll submit to money and material desire is on my own terms.

And my terms are certain. I won’t live with regret. I won’t spend my time with people who bring me down. I won’t work a job that makes me unhappy. Those things will most certainly occur, but when they do I’ll do what I need to fix them. To move on with my life the way I want, with the people I want. And sitting on a park bench with nothing will make me happier than sitting at desk surrounded by people who I don’t like and having something. Figuratively speaking that is. My daughters must eat, and they must have the things they need in life. And don’t think I won’t work hard. I just won’t get lost chasing Corvettes.

It all sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it. This is the beauty of writing, pouring your thoughts out on a page and having them reflected back in the form of words. Learning about yourself as you go. Because as strong as I think I sound, I know tomorrow, or the day after, I’ll be walking contently enjoying the sun on my skin, the breath of air that fills my lungs and a I’ll be distracted by another car… or something I lust after, and all my contentedness and good intention will be lost.

And that okay.

~Les

Letters become Words become Beauty become Wisdom

Language fascinates me… How we put together sounds, represented by squiggly lines, sticks and hoops to form letters. In the perfect order, the letters form words… again, ordered to convey ideas, knowledge, wisdom that ignites our imaginations and move us to the core.

These are some of my favorite uncommon compositions of words…

  • “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • “In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived. How well we have loved. How well we have learned to let go” ~Jack Kornfield
  • “Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”
    ~Amit Ray
  • “When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you”
    ~Lao Tzu
  • “Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”
    ~Sonia Ricotti
  • “Don’t wait to be successful at some future point. Have a successful relationship with the present moment and be fully present in whatever you are doing. That is success.”
    ~Eckhart Tolle

It was Eckhart Tolle that changed my life. I stumbled upon his words accidentally during a difficult tragedy. You see, this is one of the reasons I’m fascinated with the impact words and letters have. He helped me (unknowingly of course) understand that the past and the future do not exist. The past may have existed, and the future will one day (or in one minute) exist. But all we know, all there ever is, was, and will be… is the present. Therefore, the only place the past and future exist, is in our thoughts. If I could control my thoughts, I should be able to control my past and future… if not in substance, in significance. I had forg0tten the present, ignored the only thing that exists… and in sense, gave up my own existence. I was here in body, but not in mind. My suffering came from my past, and my fear… was of what my future would hold. My awakening to the present moment was like being born for the first time. The mist lifted and my mind was clear… for everything there was, was now… and I had everything I could possibly need.

This is the power of words. From my eyes to my mind, I was moved, inspired and my life changed forever.

How could it be? Simple shapes on a page ordered in such a way that the story I call my life would never be the same? That the way I perceived others was on a much deeper level?

So I began to write myself. At first a little, then a lot, until I fell in love with it. I don’t remember the exact moment when it hit me, but as I watched myself put those squigglies, sticks and hoops on the page I realized… they are not just letters. They are not just words, and they are not just sentences. They are my ideas, my passions, my hopes, dreams, and my fears. The letters were simply a tool… a creation to share… well, to share our creations. They are the bond that joins our thoughts across time and distance… Through these words, you will know me, you will sense my presence, even though you are weeks, months or many years in my non-existent future, and in a place I do not know.

~ Les