Part I: How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk

One of my original thoughts for this blog was that I wanted a space to document everything that I was going through (like a journal), as well as a space for me to write about what I’ve been watching or reading. Hence the notebook part of Nick’s Notebook.

Recently, I finished chapter 1 of the Richest Man in Babylon, but I haven’t finished any the activities associated with it, from a money focused group I’ve joined. I’m not ready to dive much into that yet; however, I’ve also read chapter 1 of How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

Learning how to talk to my kids more effectively has been on my to-do list for a long time. I’ve looked around for various books or articles on the subject, but I never actually pulled the trigger and did the deep work needed on the subject.

So, how did I stumble on this book and why did I get started? Timing. As I was miserably pumping my face full of food at the camp, I decided (like most people do) that Monday had to be the day. Randomly browsing twitter, I came across a tweet from Mike Cernovich (author of Guerrilla Mindset) who recommended the book. As luck would have it, it was free for those who had kindle unlimited (which my wife does), so I concluded that because someone I respect had recommended reading something on a subject I knew I needed to, I would pick it up.

The first chapter is on helping children deal with their feelings. There’s a direct connection between how kids feel and how they behave. If kids feel right, they will behave right. We make our kids feel right by accepting their feelings as they are. “A steady denial of kids feelings can confuse and enrage children. It also teaches them not to know what their feelings are” and “not to trust them.”

In an effort to help you, as the parent, understand how to accept your children’s feelings, the authors first provide a series of statements a child would make and they want you to write down what you would say if you were denying a child’s feelings.

It was pretty easy to do. A breeze, I thought. No problem. Wrong. Big problem – which I realized moments into the next paragraph of the book. It shouldn’t be that easy to achieve. It’s not an accomplishment to be able to write down quickly how you would deny someones feelings. I’m sure that is what this exercise is trying to show you – without much effort, you can deny your children’s feelings. For some context, here was my answer to the statement I had a dumb birthday part (after you went all out to make it a wonderful day).

Wow. That’s rude. Maybe you should try being a little grateful. Not all kids get a birthday party you know. We worked really hard on this just for you and this is how you are going to act? Unbelievable.

In an effort to try and help you understand how your kids might feel, the author then gives you a scenario in which your boss has asked you to do a project, quickly, that you didn’t accomplish. You try and explain yourself, but the boss doesn’t want to hear it and storms out. The exercise gives you 8 different friends who react to the news in different ways when you try and discuss it with them. They either: deny your feelings, give you a philosophical response, advice, ask questions, defend your boss, pity you, become an amateur psychoanalyst or give you an emphatic response. You are to write down how the communication style makes you feel.

The emphatic response, as you might expect, was the nicest and easiest to stomach. The amateur psychologist I felt was just someone I would ignore. The philosophical response and the advice both felt condescending. The pity just felt fake to me and when the person started defending the boss (over helping me), the words “F*** you” came to my mind. The person who asked questions was a mixed bag for me: some of the questions seemed help and the others made me feel as if the person thought I was just dumb.

I was surprised that the example where the person denied my feeling really didn’t bother me that much. It felt just like the standard response people give to situations like this. Maybe I’ve just become numb to this way of talking. I’ve noted that in my book with a few extra stars to come back to. It was a red flag to me and something I think I need to pay attention to on this little journey.

The author give you 4 ways to help children deal with their feelings:

  1. Listen with your full attention (and don’t give them lip service when it comes to listening. You can’t listen AND watch the big game at the same time.)
  2. Acknowledge their feelings with a word (“oh”, “Hmmm” , “I see”. Also, don’t, give them the answer right away – use those words to let them figure it out)
  3. Give feelings a name (ie: you feel angry, I see that you are feeling disappointed)
  4. Give them their wishes in fantasy (like the statement: “If I had a magic wand, I would make insert whatever they want appear before us!”

The final exercise has you look at a few statements and write out how you acknowledge a child’s feelings and provides you a few statements from a child to work with. I felt this section fit well with the topic but was the least beneficial section. Finding out how easy it was for me to deny was eye opening. I found in this section that I knew how to acknowledge their feelings easily as well, it just wasn’t my default.

Overall, I’m happy with the first chapter and it has opened my eyes enough that I’ll definitely finish. The authors want me to practice, for a week, acknowledging my kids feelings before going onto the next chapter, so that’s what I’ll do. I’ll summarize the next chapter again once it’s complete.

Today is a little different

Here is what I’m writing today’s blog post to:

I’m not trying to sleep though – this is more for the relaxing and calming part. I really enjoy the instrumental background noise, especially if I am reading or writing. I find it occupies my brain just enough so I can actually focus on the task at hand.

Today’s been a little different for me. It’s the start of the work week, but it just feels different. I prepped my whiteboard with a list of things I wanted to accomplish today and at the top I wrote today’s date with the words Today is the day beside it.

When I woke up this morning, that’s how I felt. I felt like today was the day. I got out of bed earlier than usual and I managed to keep my focus when the kids were talking to me. They’ll want to have a conversation while I’m cooking breakfast and I tend to shoo them downstairs. Not today. I’ve been saying I’ve wanted to get back to eating right/fasting, which usually falls apart at lunch time. Not today.

Although it’s annoying to be running to the bathroom constantly after powering back a bunch of water, it feels worth it. I look at the list of things I wrote down to do and it doesn’t look like a daunting task today. All of this, in turn, has me feeling pretty happy about the day and optimistic about the future.

I don’t even have anything else to really say. I’m not going to force myself to get to 500 words or more today. This is the blog post and this is another check on the to-do list down. You might call this cheating – but I call it giving myself a little bit of slack.

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Alarms and E-mails (to myself)

As I sit here, starting to write this, my phone is buzzing and my outlook e-mail is dinging me – both trying to tell me to do things that I’m conveniently ignoring. So, i’ll give you a rundown of what it is exactly:

  1. Watch my breathing
  2. Ask myself “who needs me on my A game right now”
  3. Meditate
  4. Quote of the day from Quitzilla (which I’m using to try and track how long I can go without eating junk food)
  5. Patient, Engaged and Grateful! (an alarm to remind me of what I want to be)
  6. Weekly Budget!
  7. Payday!

Coming up later today will include things like some meetings, my kids bedtime and a 9:30pm alarm telling me to get off the computer and go to bed.

Why do I have all these? It’s because when I’m thinking about what’s in my best interest and not allowing the day to go on auto-pilot, those are the things I would do. I thought that, if I could see them everyday, then I would be more inclined to do them. Most of the time, these alarms just go off when I’m not ant my phone and annoy my wife.

The alarms are just one thing I do. The other thing I like to do is if I read something I like, e-mail myself the information as if I’m going to do it. Usually those e-mails sit in my inbox for a while, followed by the great purge. All my hopes and dreams in the trashcan of my google inbox.

OK. That might have been a little dramatic, but it’s been a long time that I’ve been ignoring the things I know that I should do. I’m a classic example of: wants a better, more successful life but hasn’t been willing to pay the price to get it.

Part of paying the price would just be to follow these alarms. So, just like any habit, I’ve got in the routine of ignoring the alarms and e-mails. I would imagine that there is some psychological tomfoolery going on where I’ve actually caused myself to purposefully ignore myself by doing this, so I doubt seeing the alarms daily and ignoring them is helping me.

So – I’m going to get rid of them. All of them. Kaboom. In fact, hold on a second, I’m going to do it right now before I finish this.

Here are some others that I deleted:

  1. Weekly weigh-in (on Monday)
  2. 21 day challenge # (this is where I wanted to issue myself some mini challenges to build new habits)
  3. Payday! (I love money, I’m not gonna forget payday)
  4. Garbage Day! (it’s always the Friday of payday – I’ll remember)
  5. Weekly Budget! (Do this on payday – shouldn’t forget, though sometimes I ignore it)
  6. Phone off! Tech-less day tomorrow! (I wanted to start getting a day where I did no tech – I really should get back to this. At least no games or mindless activities)

I said a second – but I ended up getting sidetracked by my wife, which lead me to hit the grocery store for the kids food, making them lunch and then sitting back down here. Anyway!

I don’t know if getting rid of all the alarms is the right thing to do. I just know that I’ve ignored them and I feel like I need to switch it up. My wife ended up picking me up a whiteboard that I’m going to put behind my computer desk with the things I want to accomplish. I don’t know how I’m going to lay it out, but I think I want it to be more of a reminder than anything else.

Hopefully, this will actually lead to me doing more of these things regularly. So what am I going to do right now? 10 minutes of meditation and then sort out my whiteboard. I’ll let you know in a few weeks how it’s been going.

5 Bullet Friday – Clean Up

Over the past few days, I’ve been spending a little time cleaning up/out the small things that I’ve allowed to build up over time. One of those was the growing number of e-mails I had with information in it that I thought would be useful that I never got around to actually doing anything with.

One of those things is Tim Ferriss’s Five Bullet Friday. Tim sends you out an e-mail with 5 cool things that he’s found or explored that week. It could quotes, gadgets, books, people and more. It doesn’t take long to read and, if anything, you can claim you learned a few new things that week with only putting in an iota of the work he probably did.

I guess you could say that I’ve kept some of the e-mails because I’m a self help hoarder. I feel like if I keep all this self help stuff around me, that I might stumble onto something again in the future that will “change my life” – it won’t. I’ve just made myself feel better by saying “at least I get X, y or z each week.”

I don’t want to diminish any of the work Tim’s done because I think he’s really done the people he’s influenced a solid by giving them the information they need to succeed. It’s my fault that I haven’t turned much of it into action. I’m a little off topic though here – this isn’t to complain, it’s to action!

So, as part of my action strategy – I’m cleaning out my e-mail AND getting a good excuse just to write something.

I thought about just deleting the Five Bullet Friday’s that I saved but, I felt that would be a waste. Instead, here in a convenient blog post is the main bullet points that I thought were interesting and/or helpful and maybe you will too.

  1. More than 50% of atheists who had their first DMT experience didn’t identify as being an atheists afterwards. That’s pretty crazy. I have an addictive personality and I’ve always been too afraid to try and psychedelics or mind-impairing drugs (though I suppose you could argue sugar really messes with your brain). DMT fascinates me though and if I could do it legally, I think I would like to have that experience, even if it’s just once. I’ve heard it’s a really sobering experience and that it leaves you less likely to get worked up about things. I’d like that.
  2. On the same note, MDMA is having some success treating PTSD.
  3. “The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”― Eden Phillpotts
  4. “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”― James Baldwin
  5. A reminder that, even with everything going on in the world, that you need a break from the 24/7 news cycle. No matter who you are or what you’re fighting for, you need a change to rest and recover to be effective.
  6. “Hoard food and it rots. Hoard money and you rot. Hoard power and the nation rots.”― Chuck PalahniukAdjustment Day

Now that I’ve gone through them – I didn’t keep as many as I thought I did. I guess my general purging the other day was more aggressive than I thought. If anything else strike’s me as interesting from his newsletter, I’ll be sure to include it here.

If you’re interested, check it out at

Why I put my kids to bed early

My two boys are 7 and 5 and I’m a bedtime-a-holic and I’m a pretty big stickler when it comes to my children’s bedtime. Until recently (within the last month or so), getting ready and into your bedroom time was 6pm, unless there was some evening activity that required them to be up past that time. Bedtimes are now 7pm and 6:30pm, in case you were wondering.

I know that 6pm is early and if the first thought you had was: he’s doing this for his own benefit – you’d be right. I’m also doing it for theirs. I don’t want you to think I’m telling you when your kids should go to bed, I’m just going to offer you some insight as to why I keep their bedtimes early.

  1. My wife and I deserve the evening to unwind. Especially her. I work during the day (and until the COVID thing happened), I worked from an office. She homeschools the kids. They are with her all day, everyday. At the end of the day (especially if they are being extra wild), what she needs is some peace and quiet to recharge. The longer the kids are up, the less of her evening she has to do so. 
  2. They’ll be up between 5am and 6am anyway. Regardless of what time I put my kids to bed, they are up early. The only way to get them to sleep past that is to bring them to the camp, let them run themselves ragged in the pool while it’s simultaneously scorching hot out, for a few days and then we might get 6:15am out of them. Once they slept in until 7am and I’m pretty sure I almost had a heart attack when I looked at the clock because I was pretty sure they were dead. 
  3. Kids need their sleep. Who wants cranky kids anyway? That and sleep has a whole host of benefits for kids. Obviously, keeping them healthy promotes them to grow up healthy. Sleep also helps you regulate your body weight. If you want your kids to stay physically fit, make sure they’re getting enough sleep.
  4. Kids need space to be with themselves. I’ve been off and on practicing meditation and I’ve tried it, with mild success, with my children. They understand the basic concept but the whole sit and be silent thing really isn’t their forte. I think it’s important for kids to be able to understand themselves. We adults do things like journaling, blogging and meditation to try and achieve that. For my boys, allowing them to be in the room without forcing them to go to sleep is achieving that.

    They have no technology in their rooms. Just their beds, paper, pencils and books. By putting them in their rooms earlier than they need to be (because maybe they just aren’t tired), it gives them a chance to unwind and spend time with themselves. Reading what they want. Drawing whatever is on their mind. My oldest runs back and forth in his room, hitting the walls and talking to himself. (wow, that sounds crazier when you write it down – anyway!) He has a chance to let his imagination run wild. My other son, after he’s read his princess stories, typically snuggles in and goes to sleep to the sound of his older brother banging around. My oldest then decides when he’s tired enough to sleep, as then goes to bed.

Overall, this is what has worked for us. I feel that, over time, a healthy sleeping habit and giving the kids the opportunity to spend time getting to know themselves is going to be tremendously valuable to them as they grow up. 

Do people give me a weird look when I tell them how early the kids go to bed? Yup. That’s OK though – I’m doing what I think is best for them (and us). Feel free to use this as an example to others if you want to put your kids in their bedroom a little earlier. Pick 7:15pm and then say that at least it’s not as early as this guy on the internet does it. If it helps, I don’t mind. 🙂

12 days

I’m pretty good at time travelling. That’s right, I can easily put myself in the exact same situation I’ve been in in the past, over and over again.

12 days ago I said I was going to write 500 words a day, here, on this very blog and that I was going to take things seriously. I lied to myself. I didn’t do that and I barely made a conscious effort to do it either. I also said I was going to: exercise, not eat junk food, finish my courses, go to bed on time and get my act together.

So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I’m telling myself again today that I’m going to do these things. I have alarms on my phone, a bunch of apps to remind me and I’ve told my wife – again. I’m sure she’s just sick and tired of hearing it at this point. I’m tired of saying it – but my laziness and lack of focus get the better of me.

The sad part is that I know exactly what to do. I know exactly how to fix all the things I hate about me, yet, I still don’t do it. I haven’t been able to convince myself to pay the price of success. The entry fee to success, for me, isn’t even that high. I’m just being cheap and it’s causing my overall satisfaction to feel cheap.

Here are the things I know that I should do, that I’m not doing  and that I’m going to try to start doing again today:

  1. No junk food – that means no pop, chips, popcorn, ice-cream, chocolate, cookies – etc.
  2. Exercise daily
  3. Intermittent / Extended fasting – I find I feel best if I can go longer periods of time without eating. I have a serious eating problem and the feeling of winning against my desire to eat has been enough to change my outlook on the whole day.
  4. Sleep – no more 1am gaming session. I need to get back to my 8 hours.
  5. Meditation daily
  6. Breathing exercises
  7. Read daily
  8. Write Daily
  9. Cold showers
  10. Spend time with family and friends (typically with friends is gaming – so I have be careful not to overdo it)

It looks like a long list – but it really shouldn’t be that hard if I commit. I’ve done it before, which is what I need to remind myself. I just need to make sure that I make a conscious effort to do it. 

One of the ways I plan on tackling the exercise part is that my Dad is going to help me create a desk that will sit on top of the treadmill I have. Since I work from home, my plan is to try and work from the treadmill – walking at a slow 1mph speed – for the majority of the day. This way, I’m guaranteed to have gotten exercise. It should also mean that when I do it, I won’t feel compelled to be low-carbing and I can enjoy one of passions – BREAD. 

I know – I should probably give that up to. If I give up everything though, I might just say screw it and drop everything.

How I avoided tilting in League of Legends

I’ll admit – when I wrote the first 500 yesterday, it was out of complete and total frustration with the general lack of progress I’ve made on the things that (I’ve told myself) that I want. That frustration often boils over into anger, which will stick with me for a while before it explodes out in some way.

Enter League of Legends. A game that, for the longest time, I stayed away from because my desire to win was so strong that losing would send me off the deep end. I’d be tilted. What do you do when you’re tilted? Say a bunch of stuff you don’t mean, to people you don’t know so that they don’t get to enjoy their day because I certainly wasn’t – at the time. Oh, and you’re going to keep playing until you win – even if that means raging for multiple games straight before someone with a level head carries your sorry ass.

Why did I get back into League? My friends were having a good time playing and I didn’t want to be left out of the fun. Getting back into it was fun and then, as expected, the desire to win slowly crept back in and voila – we’re backing in the tilting business. 

You’d think that after yesterday, where I finally accomplished something I said that I would do, that I’d be in a good mood. Nope. I was actually in a worse mood. Why? I was pissed off at myself that simply writing a 500 word post a) took me so long (my lack of skill in that area) and b) that I hadn’t just done it sooner. So, what’s the best thing to do when you’re already worked up – of course it’s queue up in League of Legends.

I fire the game up and smash that refresh button on youtube and scan the brand new selection of videos I might recommend and this caught my eye: Psychiatrist explains why people tilt and /mute all. I clicked on it, saw that it was only an 8 minute video and decided that I had 8 minutes to watch before I queued. 

I think this is what they call divine intervention. The universe delivers things that you need in mysterious ways sometimes. The enjoyed the whole video – but this is the part that stuck out for me:  

“So why is it in one game you rage and in one game you don’t? It’s because in one game your concentration or focus remains on the game and on the other one, your concentration dissipates and it starts to think about other people. So as long as you focus your attention on one thing and just play the game, then your performance improves, your enjoyment improves and it is just an overall better experience.”

How could I focus on just the game rather than just the desire to win? What I decided to do was play support. For the next few games, win or lose, I wasn’t going to try and pick a champion to carry. A carry, for those who don’t know, is someone who’s probably going to do all the damage, get all the kills and look like the hero at the end. The ultimate “I want to win” type – because they assume they’re skilled enough to carry the entire team to victory.  So, I picked my support (Janna for any of you who play league), queued up and told myself that my metric for success would be how many times I did something that helped my team. 

I‘m not going to talk about the wins, because it’s easy to be happy after those. After the losses though, it was a different feeling altogether. I know that I technically lost the game, but it just didn’t feel as bad. Personally, I had done, in those games, everything that I could to support the team. I’m not saying I did it well or that I didn’t make any mistakes. I was just focused on doing the most I was capable of doing for the team. I left all my games that night with the same feeling I had when I first jumped back into the game with my friends – enjoyment.

I doubt this situation will always be the case – I’m just saying that this is how I, for a night, after already walking into wanting to play the game being emotionally charged, was able not to tilt and actually enjoy the game. If anyone reads this (or watches the video – you really should), I hope that if you’re a tilter, you find at least one night of peace and enjoyment, like I did

The first 500

As part of trying to step my game up in this little game we call life, I’ve been picking away slowly at some of the courses that I’ve recently purchased. I figured they were a good deal from people who I feel are credible and they might help. Let’s ignore, for now, the fact that I’m having trouble really sticking to anything right now and just focus on the minor victory that is this post.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: if you practice something, you’ll get better at it. We all don’t need a book to tell us that. Well, we shouldn’t anyway. For some reason though, after reading that one of the easiest ways to start leveling up my writing was to write 500 words a day on a single topic, I was inspired to start this here. When did I read this? Oh, about a week ago, but we’re all going to pretend that it was today and hurray, look at me go. 

Motivation is a tricky thing. It’s even something that sounds fancy, like a new car. “Woah!” you exclaim excitedly “look at that motivation, it’s so inspiring!” and you rush to get some of your own. The problem that I have (and maybe you do too) is that I seem to purchase my motivation second hand.

Someone else has a big dream or has accomplished something big and I feel like I want that too. I haven’t even begun to put in even 0.5% of the effort they did to accomplish it, but I feel like I should have it anyway. So I put my best foot forward for a day, come up with a large number of reasons why I can’t and then stop all together. What it seems to boil down is those people get addicted to the process while I spend too much time being addicted to the result. It doesn’t come fast enough – so it must not be worth doing.

This first post here is a vague attempt at “putting in the hard work” or “doing what I need to do.” It always seems like it’s a Monday when I’m starting these things, so I decided to do it today instead, on a Tuesday. Does that mean I slacked off another day? Yeah. I also broke a pattern of “waiting for Monday” to do something too. 

I’m also breaking the pattern of stopping and re-reading everything I write, thinking it sounds stupid and deleting it all. Right now my brain is screaming at me: “STOP. READ. You sound stupid. You’re whining and complaining. No one will want to read this. Well screw you brain, that’s what I want to say. Being 80% of the way done and backing out is some typical Nick bullshit.

Accomplishing nothing new, day in and day out because I’m too afraid to be judged is just getting really tiring. It’s time to stop thinking and start doing – knowing full well it took me like 5 minutes just to write that last sentence.