A while back I purchased a ukulele. I have yet to practice in earnest. Still, I keep it out in the open, knowing that I will pick it up and spend some time figuring it out.
It’s been a while since I’ve picked up my guitar as well. I’ve consciously kept from playing in order to focus on Perk. A bit of honesty: I tend to spread myself too thin over several activities. This is my major drawback, an acute lack of focus. Until now, that is. Peeling off activities and focusing on only a few (if that) has yielded great results.
There will come a day when I will create Perk during my normal business hours. This will allow me to have a hobby. I’d like to get back into the music. Until then, I’ll leave the ukulele playing to guys like Jake Shimabukuro. Watch his rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. You’re going to love it!
“If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a much happier place.” – Jake Shimabukuro
(File under “Health & Fitness”)
This past weekend, I participated in the Ultimate Gladiator Dash. (The website has electric rock guitar playing so you know it’s ultimate.) I fancy myself as neither ultimate nor a gladiator. Yet I feel dashing so I signed up.
The race is a 5K run with obstacles. There is climbing and crawling through mud and such, some running up ramps. This is the first such run I have attempted. I have heard of others (Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, etc.). Never done those. If I do run one in the future, I will do so with the wisdom I got from this experience.
The following are 7 things to do when preparing for a mud run:
1. Build a bit of upper-body strength - Add an upper-body work out to your running routine. There may be monkey bars and walls to climb over. The climbs weren’t all that bad but some folks had difficulty. A bit of upper body strength goes a long way.
2. Wear sunscreen - Though I rarely wear sunscreen – I’m Hispanic and dark-skinned by nature – I wore some this day. If you are running in a climate with direct sunlight, use sunscreen. Here in Las Cruces, NM (i.e., the desert), shade is scant. That sun will get you. The sun doesn’t care who it burns, it just burns.
3. Find a way to stay hydrated - At the entrance of this event, we were told to dispose of any water bottles before entering. Once inside, there didn’t seem to be many places to find water. I did not drink much water beforehand because I assumed (wrongly) that they would have more hydration stations. Luckily, I came across this booth for a product called Hoist, a rehydration drink. The girls manning (womanning?) the station handed out samples. I tried a few samples before and after the run. The stuff worked! I ran in the heat and felt fine. My buddy, J. Lopez, didn’t run and didn’t drink up got dehydrated. He’s the guy behind the camera by the way. I told the girl I’d give a good word for the drink.
4. Find a group to participate with or create a group - This is not necessarily essential for completing but it makes the experience a lot more fun. You’ll find many folks have a group they are involved with. If you go stag, you might find it difficult to just jump into a group. They might be tight. Besides, having a group keeps people motivated and encouraged. And you can come up with crazy names if you like with matching shirts and the whole nine. I ran with Iron Fitness, a cross training outfit.
5. Run, run, run - This may be obvious, but it seemed as though some folks didn’t take running into the equation. Even a three-mile race can be exhausting if one is not conditioned. And going through something like this without the endurance conditioning does not make for a fun time. At one point, I heard a guy earnestly say that he felt like he had already ran five miles. This was at the two mile mark. No fun running out of steam running while you still have obstacles to overcome.
6. Protect your knees - A fellow runner told me she learned her lesson at a Tough Mudder and wore leggings for this run. She said the leggings were for all the crawling. I didn’t see the point until I got in the mud pit and there were sharp rocks imbedded in the mud. I don’t know if this was on purpose but I didn’t like it. I admit that I am a big baby. And it is “Gladiator”, right? Still, I would have loved to protect my aging knees. They are healing.
7. Envision yourself finishing - The best part of the run is that the finish line is near the start line. This way you can see others finishing up their run. It’s easy to give up. To run the race and make it through the obstacles is uplifting. Envision yourself running through the finish line. It feels good knowing you pushed yourself through the run and still could trot through the tape.
And above all, have fun!
I’m listening to the book “Business Success Made Simple” by Bryan Tracy. There’s a lot of useful stuff in there. I found this to be inspiring:
Seven Steps to Success
Step 1: Decide exactly what you want
Step 2: Write your goals down
Step 3: Set a deadline
Step 4: Make a list
Step 5: Organize the list
Step 6: Take action
Step 7: Do something every day to achieve it
This is helping me immensely. He goes into it in more depth on his website (click here to go there). Check it out. It’s worth the read – both the website and the book itself.
I draw a lot of inspiration from Sergio Aragones (no pun intended). I’ve loved his work since I first laid eyes on it – which was in MAD Magazine. Ever since then, I’ve looked to his comic book “Groo the Wanderer” for inspiration whenever I’m feeling creatively spent.
I had a conversation at a party the other night about comics. I stated that most people think that there are two types of people: those who read comic books and those who don’t. The assumption is that the latter are not interested in superheroes or dramatic fantasy or sci-fi. I brought up Groo as an exception to the comic book realm. Groo is hilariously written and beautifully drawn. And, in my opinion, everyone would get something out of it since, at it’s core, it is social commentary.
Enough of the exposition, let’s get back to inspiration.
So as I came back to Perk at Work, I found my well of inspiration a bit dry. I had been spending entirely too much time involved in business-like, non-comic stuff. As per form, I gravitated back to Groo. But this time, I decided to go a different direction. I needed some inspiration in in 3-D off the page. I found these online:
I have to say, they’re working. I love how Sergio Aragones just does what he wants to do. And he does it well. His humor is intelligent yet still accessible to all. Great stuff. His work encourages me to keep moving forward in a positive direction.
Here’s Sergio Aragones talking about Groo at a comic convention:
The enemy is distraction. I have always know this but only recently have I paid enough attention to fully realize it. The bad news is that I could have accomplished so much more in life had I been focused. The good news is my life ain’t over yet.
Recently, I completed a course to get my real estate license. (I can use it at my day job.) I tend to get distracted easily, as we all do. Yet, I needed to pass the test so that my $95 test fee was not spend in vain. I was finding it difficult to study and work and draw and do everything else that needed to get done. I have never been great at studying, kinda always just passed my courses by remembering what I had read or heard earlier. If it were calculus or such, I could pass and simply say to myself that I probably would not use it in the future. With real estate, I have to know the laws. There are high penalties for making mistakes. So I had to study.
I quickly created a method to study effectively. Perhaps you may be a natural at this stuff. Not me. I had to devise a plan.
Here is what I did:
- I set aside two and a half hours each night to study
- I then set the timer on my phone to 20 minutes
- I studied intensely for that 20 minutes, not allowing myself ANY distractions
- Once the 20 minutes was up, I set the timer for five minutes and took a break, not allowing myself to even look at the study material. I simply sat there and listened to a favorite song.
- Then I repeated the process until six 20 minute sessions were completed.
I must note that I devised this study plan in the last week before my test. Using this plan, I was able to retain much more than I had in the weeks prior. I achieved more in less time.
Since I had success with this plan (I passed the test), I decided to use it for my comics. I was finding myself spending what I felt as too much time per strip. Using this method, I have been able to complete more strips and have even improved the quality of the strips. Additionally, I’m using the method for this post.
And my time is about up. Gotta go.