Conquering your Mt. Everest

by Mike Aux-Tinee

What’s towering in front of you seems immovable, majestic and utterly impressive. The longer you stand and gawk the more you feel a sense of inferiority. This is a very unnerving feeling. You think to yourself, ‘I’ve chewed off more than I should have. I’m in way over my head. Maybe it’s better to tuck my tail between my legs and run and hide.’

The thing is you need to get to the other side because something is pushing you forward. The brain goes to work examining all the possibilities to overcome this obstacle. It dawns on you the only way is over the top. Your worst nightmare has just become a reality.

Bring on the one man rain delay. You stall hoping a better solution will present itself. Or maybe your fairy godmother will come along wave her magic wand and presto you are transported to the other side. Let’s be realistic. Whatever delusion you come up with is not going to happen. It does nothing more than provide a temporal escape for your brain. All the while you experience a brief and false sense of happiness or euphoria. But don’t fall for it, your Mt. Everest is still there, snubbing its nose at you, knowing all too well, who the badass of the two of you really is.

You sigh, which is a sign you are not committed. Hey, let’s give it the old college try and when you fail (because if you aren’t one hundred percent committed to conquering what is in front of you, you will fail.) you can walk around, spouting out jingoistic babble as to why things went wrong. Always pointing the finger and lying blame everywhere else other than where it really belongs – which is you. It’s nothing more than a façade and the prettier yours looks the more you will be able to bullshit the masses.

All the while, your Mt. Everest is still there, maybe even getting bigger as time passes.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

The problem will never go away until you take the first step, then another and yet another. It’s time to find out what you are made of and make a mole hill out of a mountain. And here’s how you can do just that.

1. Clear your mind

We have a lot of background noise that filters in and is distracting.  You need to shut it all out. Finding a sanctuary where you focus is very important. This is the place that will provide you the time you need to think, rest and marshal yourself for what you are about to do.

2. Take inventory of abilities

Jumping out of the gate without having the knowledge or skills that will be imperative for your success is going to lead to your failure. You need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and prepare accordingly.

3. Establish realistic goals and objectives

You cannot run before you learn to crawl. Chances are the task in front of you will demand a great deal of time, patience and change before it’s eliminated. Having short term and achievable milestones to reach will keep your motivated.

4. To error is human, expect to make some

You are going to experience some setbacks. So it’s best to expect them right from the start. But the strength and courage your muster to pick yourself up and keep going will help you achieve what you’ve set out to do.

5. Adopt the never surrender mentality

To be successful, you must absolutely, beyond a reasonable doubt become tenacious. Let hell or high water come before you quit. When you look at successful people, the one trait they all possess is the determination to complete what they set out to do. A great example is Thomas Edison, do a little homework and check out how many tries it took him until he invented the light bulb.

6. Never ask for advice, only someone’s help

Everyone has an opinion and is very willing to give it to you. When you ask the question, “What do you think?” You are giving the other person enormous power and stating to them, you are smarter and I am not. And their advice may not always be the best course of action.

7. Even though you’ve reached the summit, push past to the next horizon

All cylinders have been firing and you’ve knocked the stuffing out of your Mt. Everest. Stopping at the top may seem like the no brainer. Your life is better. You’ve gained a great deal of self-confidence, self-reliance and hopefully more independence. The thing is there is something that’s very cool just waiting over the horizon for you to come along and discover.  Now is the time you can explore more of what life has to offer, which you could not do before you started.

While this is a rather broad outline, it is a place to start. Take what I have written and customize it to fit your circumstances. Go forth and conquer.

Peace dudes!

Au revoir 2013 and Bon Jour 2014!

By Mike Aux-Tinee.

Now that 2013 is finally over and 2014 is here, it’s time to look back at what I did (and didn’t do). There were many firsts last year and I was busy as a little beaver. While I notched some major accomplishments, there were many things that slipped through the cracks.

In January I began taking yoga. I was in a 2012 post-holiday slump and needed to break out of it. I also realized I hadn’t been exercising as much and I was three months away from heading back outside to cycle (so long as the weather cooperated.)  I needed to take every opportunity to keep myself in shape and yoga helped a great deal.

In February I began the editing process for my first children’s book, The Voyage of the Sharky Sloop and the Quest for Orange Marmalade. I had written the book the previous fall and as soon as the calendar flipped, it was off to the editor for her review.

March was a rather busy month. To start off, I celebrated my one year anniversary of being debt free! As I wrote in my book, Islands of Happiness, which was published in November of 2012, it was the best decision I had ever made. And I am still debt free to this day (soon to be celebrating my two-year anniversary in eight weeks!)

Also in March, I began writing my second children’s book, Red Stocking the Pirate and the Search for the Golden Cutlass. Which I will be sharing more with you when I chat about 2014.

April-May: I put these two months together for the simple reason, I was busy rewriting my first book, writing my second, taking yoga and trying to find some time to cycle!

In May, I headed back to Europe for a vacation to The Netherlands. When I left here, it was in the 50’s and rainy. When I got to Amsterdam, it was in the 50’s and rainy! I thought I would get some sunny warmer weather… but no! I will be writing a post about that trip, so I’ll keep it short here, I had a good time, the people were very nice but I did not get outside as much as I would have liked… because of the cooler weather and so much rain. Oh well.

June-July-August: More of the same. I did finish my second children’s book and put it away. My editor and I feverishly worked toward completing The Sharky Sloop. In July and I hired an illustrator to create the interior art.

September-October-November: I was in panic mode. The interior art was taking much longer that I anticipated and it looked like the book would not come out before the end of the year. Thank goodness for YOGA! Since I was short on projects, I began writing my third children’s book and completed it in late November. This one will be coming out in 2015 (I hope!) The final round of editing on The Sharky Sloop book was completed and the interior art was in the last stage… the art was finally in color!

October I hit the big blue skies and visited New York City. It was my first visit there and from the moment my feet hit the ground I was whisked off. I saw the Broadway play Newsies, which was very good, especially from the front row. I spent a lot of time in Central Park, made it to the top of Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and had lunch a Carnage Deli (HUGE sandwiches!) but very good!

December: A lot more yoga… And on December 18th, my first children’s book was published! As soon as I approved the final proof and saw it on Amazon, I felt the weight of the world just lift off my shoulders.

2014:

With the New Year just three days old, I am eagerly looking forward to what this year will bring and what my priorities will be.

The first thing I’d like to point out is that I have not made any New Year resolutions. Let’s be honest, good intentions aside, they last only a couple of weeks anyway and by late February/early March they are gone by the way of Disco. Instead, I have several priorities that I will be focusing on in my free time and work to keep that list to a dull roar.

Last year, I did not spend as much time writing posts as I would have liked. I am not going to drudge up all of the reasons, but let’s just say that I am focusing more on writing posts and hope to keep the momentum going through the year.

I am going to celebrate my second year of being debt free! I will continue to look for more ways to live a smaller but more productive life.  I have come across several more websites about minimalism, travel and some exciting others that I hope will keep me focused and on track.

As for exercising, I am continuing with yoga, swimming and as soon as the warm weather returns, cycling.

On the travel front, I am mulling over going to Ireland, Portugal or Spain. As you know, January is when I begin making my travel plans and those are the front-runners. I have my Rick Steves’ books waiting at the library to be picked up. I will reveal my choice in a post once it’s completed.

As for writing, I am beginning to edit my second children’s book and with the experience from the first, I will not be waiting as long to start the interior art. I hope (but don’t hold me to this) to have it out by September-October of this year (finger’s crossed.)

With the New Year just three days old, it would appear I already have a lot going on… Calgon take me away!

Let me hear from you and what you are up to!

Peace dudes!

Mike

What it means to me to be a minimalist.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

Several years ago, I was reading an article about a writer who became disillusioned with his job, quit, and moved from the east coast to the west coast. Up to that point, I was right along with him (I had a job that I was not excited about either.) But where he lost me was what he did with his things. They were not packed in boxes and trucked across the country. Instead, he sold what he could and rest was donated to charity. All he took along were some clothes, a few personal items and that was about it. He made the decision to change his life and to live with less – a lot less and become a minimalist. There was more to the story and what it means to be a minimalist. I had only tripped across the tip of the iceberg.

I did not understand was why he wanted to shed the American Dream and everything else that goes along with it. I thought he was crazy because it’s what everyone does. The relentless pursuit of the American Dream, as we are told, will bring us happiness.

As I continued to read about minimalism, I discovered there were more people doing the same thing to one degree or another. And this confused me. How can this person claim to be a minimalist if they were not following the exact same path as all the others? The problem (my problem), was not being flexible in the application of minimalism. Once I scaled back and took a broader view, I found everyone was doing the same things, more or less. What I discovered, is that there are countless and different ways to be a minimalist.

To be a minimalist, there are no hard fast rules. But there are the general guidelines or principles to follow and here is what I’ve discovered:

  1. Be debt free or close to it.
  2. Downsize your life.
  3. Reduce consumption.
  4. Establish and pursue passions and interests.

Afterwards, it’s however you wish to live your life – as a minimalist. With that said, in addition to working on the above, I want to share what it means to me to be a minimalist.

  1. I live to travel and explore.
  2. It’s about quality over quantity.
  3. Personal growth.
  4. To be Mike and nothing more, nothing less.

I don’t think I will ever cross a finish line, after all this is not a race. But rather this is a life long journey. Being a minimalist is something that I need to work on every day and try to keep what’s important to me front and center.

One last thing I’d like to point out, no one is going to point their finger at you and say, “You’re not a real minimalist!” So work on the commonalities and then decide for yourself how to play out the rest.

I’d like to hear what you do to be a minimalist!

Peace Dudes!

Mike

Making the most of my time.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

It never fails. Every day I hear someone say something along the lines of  “If there was only more time in the day…”.  We’ve all been there and know what the problem is – too much to do and not enough time to get it all done.

Time is finite. Once the big and little hand on the clock run past, it’s all she wrote. The good thing, when we wake up tomorrow, there is another twenty-four hours! And maybe that’s part of the problem, we know there is a tomorrow so we kick the can down the road with the mindset that we’ll get to it tomorrow or the next day…or the next day…

By putting off until tomorrow, what you can do today, you are missing out on some awesome opportunities to accomplish something remarkable, have a new experience and even improve your life. The thing is, most of us are wasting valuable time on activities like watching television (the average American watches an average of six hours of TV a day!), playing video games or surfing the internet. Doing these things (we believe) make us happy, helps us to unwind after a stressful day or stay connected

I was paddling along in the same boat. My routine was nearly set in stone and went something like this. After work, I would head home, make dinner, turn on the TV and spend the next three to four hours staring at whatever was on. That was my life five nights a week and Sundays was even worse. I was stuck in a rut.

When I did make it out of the house to run an errand like going to the grocery store, I rushed to get it knocked out and be back home in time to watch TV. This was starting to take its toll. Frustrated, I decided that it was time to make some changes and discover for myself what life was like… out there…

When I began, my goal was to simplify my life and make the most of everyday. It was time to change my focus and establish priorities. It’s about spending time wisely on meaningful and quality activities instead of sitting around like a bump on a log.

I did a little brainstorming and established my priorities and here is (a very short list) what I came up with:

  • spend time outside
  • exercise
  • personal projects
  • take care of me first

With my priorities set, I had to come up with the time and that was the easy part. I was spending almost 21 hours a week watching TV. Then came countless hours spent on the internet; checking e-mails, writing blog posts and surfing websites (sometimes I would do both at the same time!). I cut down my TV time from 21 hours to 2-4 hours a week (including Sundays). I keep my internet time down to 2 hours at a time. Once the buzzer goes off, it’s time to move on to something else.

But there is more…

I hate to rush around from one task to another. I never sit and relax, taking the time to enjoy whatever I am doing at that moment. I discovered another problem – scheduling and multitasking.

We have been conditioned. We must get as much in as humanly possible every waking minute of the day. Because heaven forbid that something or someone wait a minute longer than whats ‘acceptable’. You know what I am referring to. Someone comes to us wanting something and we are expected to put down whatever we are doing, give them what they want so they can move along. There is a fire and we have to put it out…

To remedy this, I work to prevent over scheduling and multitasking. I make sure that I cover the basics, eating, sleeping and work. I have streamlined my life, paying bills when they arrive, shopping and doing laundry the same days of the week. Once those things are done, it’s then time for me to do whatever I want. When I head out and ride my bike, there are no plans to do anything else afterwards (other than eating, napping and taking a shower). This way, I can take all the time I want.

There have been some very noticeable benefits to this change. I am calmer and not as stressed out. I have become better at getting things knocked out so I can move onto something more important. I do not feel the need to be everywhere, do everything and have learned, that it’s not about the quantity but the quality.

If you have any suggestions, ideas or would like to drop in and say hello, I’d like to hear from you!

Peace Dudes!

Mike

A review of my book, Islands of Happiness.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

I was out on Amazon today, copying the link for my book for another post, Islands of Happiness and came across this review:

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem-Exellent Read February 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I finished Islands of Happiness this morning, it’s just a little gem. I gave it 5 stars because I actually didn’t want to put it down, it was so interesting. I love books on minimalist living and creating a happy life and this book delivers. I was browsing the subject and the cover caught my attention, the tropical picture in -31 degrees right now is very appealing. However, it’s what’s written by Michael Aux-Tinee that makes this book so special. He tells his story of his determination to live a life without debt and stay that way. The author explains how he did it, doesn’t sugar-coat it and teaches how you could do it too. He makes you realize how important it is to live your own life and enjoy your work and be happy. His chapter about getting the extra clutter out of your life really makes you think about the reasons you are keeping boxed up items. Also, he clearly defines the reasons we often think expensive things will bring us our bliss when in reality having freedom, love, happiness and dreams are what make life worth living. Really great practical ideas, no matter what your age!
While its’ cloudy and cold outside, the review of my book did make me very happy!
Peace Dudes!
Mike

Inspirational quote of the week.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

“We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King

Our priorities speak volumes about us, both individually and collectively.

We talk a good game. We come up with catchy jingoistic phrases to mesmerize, to wow and to give a warm fuzzy feeling that something is being done – end of discussion.

Time marches on. So does the score: the sum of our accomplishments minus what slipped through the cracks. History will be the final judge and there is no automatic booth review.

This is the number of people hungry in the world:

Imagine if we would spend more on feeding people than trying to kill them, what this world could be like and how history will sign our accolades.

Peace Dudes!

Mike

My resolution – to not make a New Year’s resolution.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

With two holidays down and just New Year’s left, I am looking forward to putting this year in the books. I’ve accomplished a lot this year: I became debt free in March. I traveled to Venice and Lake Como in August. Islands of Happiness came out in November. I have changed what I eat, exercised more and worked to improve my happiness. Not too shabby of a year!

With so much accomplished, one would think that I am spending every waking moment hovered over a Cray Mainframe Supercomputer trying to figure out a way to manipulate the time continuum so I could fit even more into my life in 2013 (well, just to let you know… I forgot the password to the security door…)

I know it’s an ice breaker at holiday parties to ask ‘what are your New Year’s resolutions?’. Every time I ask that question, the flood gates break open and I am barraged with a near perfect (no breath) run-on sentence. I walk away not knowing what the hell the person wants to do… (so I’ve stopped asking).

I’ve decided to make a resolution to not make a New Year’s resolution. So why am I doing this? Well, they are usually abandoned, busted, and broken some time in the second or third week in January anyway. You know this happens, I know this happens so how about we be realistic. I don’t want to experience failure so early in the year. It’s a motivation thing. And to keep me motivated all 365 days next year, here is what I come up with instead:

To work at improving my life and happiness…

I know, that could be considered a resolution, but let’s not split hairs here. It’s about making 2013 better than 2012. It gives me the flexibility to make adjustments and to not feel guilty if (or when) I change course and try something different.

I hope you play it safe on New Year’s Eve!

Peace Dudes!

Mike