If you Become a Dog, Look for the Joy in Sniffing your Own Butt

Kakegurui

Kakegurui

If you become a dog, enjoy it.

At some point in your life, you may lose things that are important for your ego in society. Your status, your money, your job, your home. Maybe even friends or lovers.

So if it happens, just accept it and say F*** it. If you do your best, or made what you thought were the right decision, yet still lost status and face, well F*** it. Shit happen. Don’t beat yourself up too much or blame yourself and see yourself as a useless human being. Life is full of decisions and forces out of our control. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes wrong. But just keep going.

Our wellbeing is often tied into our perception of status and how (we think) we appear in the eyes of ‘society’.

But who is society? People around us – friends, work colleagues. They are busy worrying about how they look to others. We are all worried about how we look to others. What a neurotic world we live in.

As a woman at a job used to say some mornings when she came in: “Good morning Fellow Slaves”. I told her, “It’s too close to the truth”. We become slaves to the perception of status.

Society is status orientated

We’ve all had this – meeting someone at a party – the ‘what do you do?” question. For several reasons, its a pretty pointless question. Or you are asked to fill in your occupation on some kind of registration form. Those are worse, because the answer you give in the moment can define you generations later, when your descendants look at those papers (and judge).

Those of us, with a less ‘straight and narrow’ approach to life may change their occupations many times at various time in their life. In that case, what do you write?

“Shop worker, office worker, manager, driver, teacher, actor, farmer, therapist, writer, unemployed, gardener…”

Or what do you write, if you are one of those guys that electrocute battery hens to death for a living? Or inject tumours into lab rats. Awkward.

“So what do you do?”

“Well, I torture and kill animals for profit.”

And that is why we invented fancy job titles.

What you do can change from week to week, month to month, year to year. You may do many different things in your life. What exactly is the true answer?

Uusally this question refers precisely to salaried work? Not everyone does that.

Answers are usually graded. Top marks go to doctors, lawyers accountants, corporate workers. Mid range marks go to clerks, admin, sales, nurses. Lower marks get graded to services – (even though arguably they are more essential to society and may often have more money than mid range marks) -e.g builders, gardeners, plumbers, pest control.

Booby marks go to those unemployed or with suspiciously (non work-type) professions. That sometimes includes acupuncture – depending on the type of party.

Overall its all pretty much pointless. Because if you going to rate someone, you may as well rate them on income and their wealth, rather than on a job title. This may sound materialistic, but jobs and job titles can be temporary and always changing. Whereas wealth pretty much stands for itself. and that is all anyone really takes notice of anyway.

So at a party, when someone asks “And What do you do?” Just answer, “I have a net worth of £110,000, how about you…?”

Pause… “Oh… Erm… I have a Tesco club card!”

‘Keep Face’ Book

And you may be surprised but a lot of people that look good ‘on paper’, ie with status, professional careers, fame, or big houses new car etc – may actually be insolvent, carrying lots of debt and that includes mortgage debt.

You hear often of bankrupt celebrities. They get lots of money, but either they overspend or some unscrupulous accountant or business partner rips them off. I think that true wealth probably doesn’t reveal itself too much. It comes in the form of people wih modest lifestyles, simple appearances, second hand cars and simple diets. Basically saving more than you spend.

Ultimately it is all pretty much unimportant and the reason for that is very simple. No one cares about you. People only care about themselves.

All that matters is you are satisfied with what you are doing. You are happy with what you are doing in life. If you truly are happy with your path, than you will greet everyone in that party exactly the same manner whether it is the garbage collector or the surgeon. Everyone will be interesting in your eyes.

Most people don’t do this. That’s why they play the point system.

Jewel in the Rough: Where else can you find one?

One of the most interesting guys I met was whilst working in a factory, in my hometown in my early 20s.

He was a man in his 50s, fit, and with a positive zest and enthusiasm for life. He was friendly to everyone. At the time, I was a temp, after having just dropped out of law school and was suffering with recurrent gut health problems (colitis). I was feeling pretty miserable. Even more so working in that factory.

But this guy told me his story. He wife had been suffering from cancer. She died a few years earlier. He had to stop working. And after her death, it hit him hard.

But, his tragic story became a story of inspiration. He decided he was going to learn karate, which he did so with enthusiasm and passion. He practiced regularly. He became a black belt. It made him fit and strong, both mentally and physically.

And though he worked in a factory with low pay and inherent instability, he had a positive vibe around him. His positive attitude livened up all the other factory workers – these middle aged women. He sometimes taught them karate moves. He taught me one. He was friendly and engaging with everyone. Including me, on the very first day I came. He shared his story openly and I was glad he did as I was only given one shift there.

He was even considerate towards a young female worker who suddenly felt faint as she had missed out on her breakfast to lose weight. Not a good idea when doing physical labour.

Lifelong impressions

Could you imagine being the kind of person who leaves a lifelong impression on someone after only a 30 minute conversation? We all imagine that celebrities or Presidents have that kind of power. But I think it can come from anyone potentially, with an interesting life.

Though brief, he left a lifelong impression on me. From a status point of view, he’d be down on the scale. As a human being with a life of interest, he was way up there. For a young man, hearing a story of how someone went through an extremely difficult loss, but maintained a positive frame of mind by taking on a mastering a new hobby was extremely inspiring. It made me question the issue of status and how imprisoned I was by its power over us.

‘Important’ People

On the other hand, being from a law family, I frequently met ‘respectable’ people, at the ever-frequent and torturous ‘dinner’/house parties I was subjected to from my mother.

One of the worst people I met was the owner of a law firm. He had the wealth, the status, the fancy car and clothes, but he was a dick. The only time we spoke, he was rude and antagonistic to me. At the time, I was young and naive, but usually very respectful to any elders I met. Big mistake.

He was one of most repulsive people I’ve met in my life, and left me feeling lousy about myself. He was also quite out of shape, which may be a reflection of his internal mind. No doubt he had some issues, which material success can only make worse.

This is not to say all people with humble jobs or high status jobs are like this. There are cool people and dicks everywhere.

It is healthier to idolise a rock than Ariana Grande (or insert celebrity name here if it is not 2019)

The worst thing to do is idolise or pedalastise people based on their status in society. They could be the worst people ever. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Celebrity worship is even worse. Worshipping celebrities – basically worshipping a fantasy is naive. The person we see on the screen in a favourite movie is not real. It is made up. You may as well worship a piece of wood on the ground. Celebrities are a story. Some are like a blank canvas, so we we can fill in our own worshipful story for them. But they’re all fake.

All except for Stephen Segal, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stallone of course.

Points

If you are dissatisfied or playing societies’ game of one-up-man ship, it means you are playing the point system. Unfortunately the point system imposes limitations on us, by keeping us stuck in the game. Even if you are at the top status wise, you can still be just as insecure as someone lower down in the system. Even more so.

Forever Home Improvements

Perhaps that is why there is so many shows about renovating your kitchen. People have to look for new ways to impress, to keep up, to portray your status. Perhaps people are looking for fulfilment by improving things they can improve on – like their kitchen, or building a loft renovation. Or buying a 4×4, SUV even though you live in the city, and the closest you come to nature is when you drive past some cows along the motorway.

Or you could buy a Tesler. Thats the current status symbol. It used to be BMW’s or porches. But now every Jack and Bill is driving one.

Down Dog

So what happens when you become a dog? In other words you lose your status. You lose something that is essential for the ego.

There are three possible paths.

One is the downward spiral. Your psyche is broken. You see no way out. You drop into that deep black pit. In its bleakness and pain, it is strangely enough, warm and comfortable. The longer you are there, the more you want to stay. This path imposes limitations as it means you are effectively in ‘stopping time’. You are withdrawing from life. At worse, it leads to extreme decisions. Even suicide.

The other is the Rocky Balboa path. You play Eye of the Tiger on a loop. Fight! Push hard! Struggle, suffer and dig your way out of it. It makes for an interesting story later on. You take on the role of the hero – fighting against reality, to bend it to your will. And overcome it with success or be crushed. And if you succeed you can relive your glory by telling people your rags to riches story. Even better, you can sell it as a program and make money.

A third path, is to fully embrace it. Enjoy being a dirty dog. Own it. Absorb it. Let go resistance. It could be as the Buddhists call it – ‘the middle way’. Embrace it with humour. See the irony of life. Perhaps yesterday you were flying high. But today you are a dog. Tomorrow you may be a dog still. Or maybe you’ll be flying high again. Doesn’t matter. Either way laugh at it and enjoy being the dog.

Debt

Perhaps you are stuck in debt. Massive amounts of debt.

I met some Americans some years ago at a seminar. They talked about the kind of debt students were getting from university fees at acupuncture college. Another person talked about her medical bills. These debts ran into the tens of thousands.

I thought to myself that this kind of debt is unpayable. At that point, you might as well stop stressing about it. Just accept it and say “Fine. I’m an indebted son of a bitch. Bite me.” At that point, there’s no longer any point in getting stressed about it. Instead, just figure out how to live daily life without it inconveniencing you too much.

A country cannot indebt its citizens to this ridiculous extent without there being a consequence in the future. Is this the modern version of indentured slavery? I think it is.

Fight the debt

You could take the Rocky path. Listen to Eye of the Tiger, buy all those Dave Ramsey books and dvds (on credit card). Fight your way out of debt. Like slaying a dragon. Some people do it. But there are some who just can’t.

The Dave Ramsey plan still depends on your earning more money than your debt is worth and cutting your spending. But not everyone can take an extra job or even increase their earnings.

No matter how much Eye of the Tiger you listen to, you probably can’t do more than two jobs without going postal at some point. Can you really scrimp and save, as inflation secretly increases and you have a family to support? Sure some can, but many struggle. Are you telling me that everyone who buys a Dave Ramsey book becomes debt free? If so, there would be no debt problem in America.

So if you can’t pay it, just accept it.

Aim to pay it off. Work, budget and manage your debt collectors. Make a plan. But ultimately, there needs to be a degree of acceptance.  Never think you are a terrible human being for being in that situation or that there is no way out.

We live in a time of easy debt, high (and hidden) inflation and stagnant wages. You are playing against the house in the gambling system of a world with funny money. This is the economy, which is really like a small town casino. The house wins. The house always wins. The best you can do, is keep your wits and emotions in check, don’t drink too much and plan to get out of the casino without too much of a loss.

Relationships

So someone leaves you for another Chad or Betty. There are billions of people on the planet. Think on that. Billions of women or men that can F*** you up some more if you want. It is not the end of the world. Be grateful and enjoy your break.

Or maybe you are the Chad or Betty.

Lives can be long and there are billions of people on this planet. Is life really meant to be spent with just one person? Relationships open us up to new experiences and ways to develop our personality. Do you want to play as bonobos or chimps?

Or apes? Treat them mean, keep them keen.

Some matches help us grow at one point in life, but then can suffocate us at another. Some things need to be gone through together, especially raising kids. But then some relationships are just toxic for adults and kids.

Maybe better to just buy a playstation and some woodbines. And cheaper too.

Hitting bottom (no, not spanking – I mean literally)

Anyone can hit bottom. No need to feel ashamed. Why add that extra layer of suffering. Some of the most charming people are those who have hit bottom. It makes a person more humble. It can be a great way to lose your ego.

It’s all part of the journey. Life has ups and downs. When life is up, people think it will always be that way. When life is down, it can feel like the bottom is dropping out of your universe.

I know some of the pain, but there are those that have fared worse. And so much will happen in life for as long as you live. Perhaps it is a training ground for our souls, as some say.

Failure, breakup, loss, money woes, embarrassment, and sickness, has hurt badly, but I notice that each time it happens it causes me to withdraw and go within. To ask myself, ‘is this the time to change my life course again?’.

Feed your soul and spirit

It’s taken years, but the main thing I’ve concluded, is to go put your mind, your desires and goals on doing what is important for your soul. If you have something that makes you tingle. That gives you life, then do it, no matter what. You don’t have to give up a regular job or family to do that. There is always a way to do what you want. Just do it on the side.

Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler

Here’s an example from Japanese anime. You’ll learn more from watching Japanese anime than you ever will from watching the BBC. Yes, Eastenders and the news are so enlightening.

Kakegurui is an anime about an elite high school, where the students are not judged on academic acheivement or atheltisicm. They are judged on their gambling skill.

All the students are children of the elite – politicians, business tycoons etc. The status of the student is based on how much money they win from gambling. The people who win have a higher status and more power over the others. The students who lose with debts, become nothing more than servants, or ‘pets’ to the other students.  They even get a pet name. If they are male, they become a dog. If a female, a cat. And they must wear a pet tag around their neck.

‘Mi-ke’ / ‘Mittens’

In one scene, the main character Yumeko loses a huge gamble with the student council and loses all her money. She falls millions into debt.

According to the rules of the school, she loses her status and falls to the level of ‘pet’.

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Her classmates ridicule her for her loss of status, and take satisfaction in planning to treat her as a pet. In her case, a cat.

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Howver, instead of become upset. Or refuse, Yumeko simply gets on her knees and plays the role of cat perfectly. She accepts her failure without regret. She does not care how she appears.

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Her classmates are disturbed by her unexpected reaction.  Instead of bullying her or making her feel bad, it is them that are shocked and want to leave.

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Yumeko places no value on her status or how she is percieved to others. She did not even feel any negativity to the person she lost to. She saw it as part of the game, which she ends up winning later on.

This kind of mindset is extremely empowering. If you do not fear losing status in the eyes of others, it frees you up to live a life of authenticity, as well as to follow your ultimate goals.

The animators make it clear that despite her huge loss, and seemingly weak position, actually, Yumeko has an intense amount of internal strength. This is apparent by the red, almost demonic eyes. This is the Eye of the Tiger.

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Perhaps this approach may seem irresponsible, but what is the alternative. You let it crush you. You disappear and drink yourself into oblivion, and give up?

The Pit.

Loss can hit hard and send you down into a pit. It may be difficult to get out. But I think that the pit has a purpose. It gives you a space to withdraw into. If you can pass through the self-hatred, blame, and other demons of the pit, you have the chance to turn this into a positive journey. It can provide introspection and deep reflection. To go spiritual.

The pit is an analogy to Alice’s rabbit hole.

Descent into the Well

In the Haruki Murakami book ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicles‘, there is this wonderful scene where the protagonist descends into a well in his back garden to escape from his life. Once down there, strange things start happening to his mind. He is transported to different places. Even into the mind of his antagonist. It is similar to the movie ‘Being John Malkovich‘.

It is apparent that, spiritual awakening comes not from how many hours and years you meditate, chant, attend a class, or worship an icon of your favourite guru. It comes from solitude and that dark place, where we all fear to tread.

Hence, why we hear of famed spiritual masters from the past who disappeared into the mountains, deserts, caves or jungles alone for 40 days and nights, or however long it took, for them.

Look at Ekhart Tolle. He didn’t attain his awakening from meditating or postive thinking or even ‘being in the moment,’ which he talks about all the time in his books. He got it from being stuck in weeks and months of an intense depression and sitting on park benches, until finally, it just came to him after an intense period of introspection. He went into the hole. Buddha also did the same.

The dark place, the hole, as I call it, is where awakening can occur. Ever wonder why life seems to throw so much shit at you. One disaster after another. One problem after another. You throw your arms up to the sky and ask why? Oh why me!?

I’m a good person. I do good things for charity. I help people. But this still happens?

Perhaps it is to make you resilient. To toughen you up.  Or to teach you a lesson. Perhaps it your karma. You were one of Stalin’s henchmen in a previous life. Maybe there really is no meaning. Just a random act. Or genetics..? Doctors like using that term.

But what if it is the universe’s way of driving you deep within. Or even your own soul’s doing? Down into the black hole where transformation and awakening can occur. That place cannot be reached in the world of daily life, jobs, holidays, renovating kitchens, SUVs, TV, caring about politics or buying houses.

That whole lot of shit sent your way; it’s purpose is to awaken you. Will you look at it, or turn away? This is the choice everyone will be faced with at some point. And sometimes many times in the same life.

Find your pleasure.

So forget status and how you look. Instead ask – what gives you excitement in life? What makes you come alive? Chase it. And if you become a dog in the process, it doesn’t matter.

Another way is humour. Humour is the antidote to worry and fear. This is the reason why the British are said to be so funny. The British have developed humour as a way of dealing with difficulties in life. Traditionally, they have a dry, tongue-in-cheek humour.

It come from hundreds of years of being exploited by the ruling classes to fight horrible wars and basically being trodden upon in poverty. Think ‘going over the top’ in the trenches in WWI. Life is more comfortable now and we have become horrendously complacent, almost slovenly, but it wasn’t always so in England. Once this was a damp, poor, grim place to live and work. (Wait, it still is!)

To end, a poem

A close friend of mine says that “poets are gay”. He means that in the American high-school sense of ‘uncool’ or ‘lame’ rather than homosexual, and was specifically referring to acupuncturists that write poetry.

Not sure I agree. I would recommend he read some Chuck Bukowski. Might change his mind about poets in general. Though maybe not about acupuncturist poets.

So anyway, I deicided to write a poem. Another gay acupuncturist writing poetry.

Here it is:

When you become a dog

 

The best thing about being a dog.

Is sniffing your own butt.

And not caring what other dogs think.

Because they are sniffing your butt too.

 

The best thing about being a Cat.

Is licking your own crotch.

And not caring what other cats think.

Because they are licking theirs too.

 

Behold Man. Master of them all.

 Man builds Towers. The cats hunt mice.

Man flies to the Moon. The dogs chases balls.

Mighty Man. Looks down on all

 

But alas, a Man will never reach the peaks.

Of the canine. Or the feline.

For no matter how much he stretch and strain.

His butt and crotch, he’ll not reach.

 

The undiscovered country.

Where no man’s nose can meet.

Or tongue can greet. And what’s more

He’ll always care what others think.

*****

Next Post

Death of the Shaman: Has the UK become a Spiritual Wasteland?


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Screenshots from Japanese anime Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler

*****


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Intermission: Blogging Update 6

A general update on my website and blog. On personal growth and the decision to close down my old website. Future goals and the value of teamwork. 

Say goodbye to the old world

I have made the decision to cancel my old website – ‘johndixonacupuncture.com’. I made that site with Webhealer.net. Here is a screenshot of my old website, preserved for future reflection:

Screen Shot John Dixon acupuncture old website

Webhealer.net is a website company that specifically creates websites for complementary or psychological therapists in the UK. I wrote about their services in an article, which used to get a fair bit of traffic, but I have since deleted as I see no reason to promote someone else’s business. I discussed some pros and cons in that article, and I think it explains why I have made the decision to quit Webhealer after all these years.

This would seem an illogical decision to take. I had a website, that is now four years old. It is indexed by google and it has about 1000 visitors a month. It had provided me with an adequate amount of clients these last few years.

On top of that, my new website has significantly less traffic. A handful of viewers.

So my decision to shut down a modestly busy website to focus on a new website with zero traffic is… to quote Charlton Heston in The Planet of the Apes:

It’s a Madhouse! A Madhouse…

Following my heart

However, I feel it is right to do it now. I have no doubt in my heart that it is right and the decision actually feels good to me. Like a feeling of relief.

That website went as far as I could take it. I could never push it consistently over the 1000 visitors a month mark. The most I ever got to was about 2000 early last year and then it dropped back down to its normal 1000 range. Out of these visitors, only a small percentage of people contacted me for appointments.

There are obviously other things I could do to increase patient contact. However, this is where I felt the limitations of my old website would kick in. Even if I maximised it, it would still be limited. I would be banging my head on the ceiling.

And really I want to grow, professionally, spiritually, physically and financially.

Signs that I should move on

Perhaps the universe is sending me signs that its time to move on. My old website has furnished me with lots of clients and experiences. It was one of the best business decisions I made and I would recommend this service to others.

However, truthfully, I don’t want to work in the same way anymore. There was always an element of ‘hustle’ about how I did things – chasing the clients, making myself available. For a time, I really enjoyed that pace of work but now I feel it is ready to go a different direction.

Slowing down

Perhaps another indicator from the universe that it is time to move on is that business has slowed down. In a way, this is what I wanted deep down, so I could focus on my family, writing and website work.

Also, aside from having  a few ‘flaky’ inquiries recently, I had my first ever spam message this week. I certainly do get my fair share of sales calls, but I’ve not had this before. Here is a screenshot:

crazy text

Hmm… so many thoughts come to mind.

I know of some female therapists who had this sort of thing before. And there was one time my wife advertised some clothes for sale on a website and she got a call from a man asking if she was selling any underwear.

There are lots of hentai out there. ‘Hentai’ is a Japanese word for ‘pervert’. Heck, even I’ve got a little bit of hentai in me. Not literally.

I do apologise if this is a genuine inquiry from a growth-conscious naturist. However, the likelihood is that it is some sweaty pervy guy.

Some advice – it is customary to start a text or email with a more mature inquiry, including some information and a name. Otherwise it is seen as spam.

So I take this as a sign that it is time to move on.

A new path

There were a number of other reasons why I feel it time to change, but the primary one is that of growth. I want to take my work and my life in a completely different direction. That website reflects the old me, the old way of working and also my old mindset.

I want a new direction, a new mindset and a bigger more expansive life for myself.

I also want to reach many more people than 1000 a month. How about 50,000? Does that sound so unreasonable? Yet that is what I want and I will say it clearly now. I want 50,000 visitors a month regularly.

Ok Universe, do your thing…

Providing value

But to do that means I need to provide a lot more value to people. It is not enough just to write about some personal trials or life experiences. I need to provide useful information that helps people. Hopefully, this is something I have started to do with some of my acupuncture and cancer articles. Though I still have much more work to do.

I also don’t want to have to adopt sales or promotional techniques. I prefer instead to take a simple and honest approach and draw visitors that way – basically a heart-centred approach. This doesn’t come natural to me as I have a tendency to close myself off. So I have to work on myself as I go along.

Thinking bigger

It seems that thinking too small in life only leads to a small life. And this has been the case for me; Living a suppressed and small life. It is such a waste of energy.

I am truly grateful for what Webhealer did for me. That website was one of the greatest business decision I ever took. It helped me in so many way and I would definitely endorse their services to any therapist, whose online presence is not furnishing them with any results  (In fact I did, and this is not an affiliated recommendation). But for me, it is now time to move on and leave the nest.

30 Day Spontaneous qigong Trial

I completed my 30 Day spontaneous qigong trial and decided to space out my last few posts in order to maintain a consistent publishing schedule of one or two posts a week. I also have a few other articles which I have written in advance and have scheduled to be posted. This is because I have a new addition to my family and things are very busy for me at the moment. I am already having a few sleepless nights.

In the meantime, I do have a series of articles and works planned to come out. Many of which are in draft form. When life settles a little for me, I will get them all finished.

Article accepted into Qi-Journal

On another positive note, I had an article accepted into the Qi-journal about qigong survivors and Cancer. I look forward to seeing that in print.

Many things in life are changing. There are several challenges to come. However, to date, I am still practicing 10 minutes of spontaneous qigong every day. It goes to show that a 30 day trial can be a useful way of creating a new habit.

Stagnant pond or flowing river?

I think that life is clearly about change and movement. A flow of energy is important for life. That means letting go of old stagnant energy and letting the new flow in. This not  only relates to life circumstances. It also relates to our habits and also our mind.

A constant movement of energy married in with passion, can make all sorts of things happen in life.  Perhaps even miracles.

Social media and promotion

There have been two new considerations for me recently.

Firstly, In order to achieve my goal for this site, I need to adopt a social media strategy. Fortunately, for me, Facebook is not the only option. These days, there is Instagram, Pininterest and Twitter to choose from. I read in another relatively popular blog, that it is a good idea to choose one and focus on that primarily. Don’t spread yourself between too many types.

Up to now, there wasn’t much risk of that happening.

Social media reject

Personally, I struggle with using social media. I don’t really get it. And this is why I have resisted adopting this approach up to now. I have halfheartedly used twitter and even Quora, yet, couldn’t click with either. I never took to Facebook even though I set up an account when it first started becoming popular. I soon deactivated it.

Instagram and Pininterest look really interesting and full of life, but it requires a lot more design skill to create interesting Instagram posts and pins. Some of the posts there are really creative and obviously took a lot of work to do.

However, I feel my best strength is in writing content and researching, particularly for this site. This is what I prefer to focus on.

Team work

This takes me to my second realisation.

I am trying to do this alone. I am always trying to do everything alone. It is a tendency picked up from my parents. Simply put, they didn’t trust me, nor anyone, so they always did everything alone. And I had the same mindset.

But it is wrong and it is selfish and is also a narrow-minded view of the world to take. So what if I succeeded? It is the feeling of connecting with other people, appreciating each others talents and the enthusiasm that comes with working with others that makes the reward taste sweeter.

So what if I succeed by myself. Who cares? Do I celebrate all alone. Isn’t that kind of sick?

I realise that there is someone close to me, who has a far greater understanding of social media. I have asked my wife to deal with my Instagram account. I will provide content and she will design and publish it for me over the next year.

And this decision feels right to me.

I think in life, being part of a team is the greatest thing – whether if it is a small team of family members or friends, or a large team of work colleagues.

I think any World Cup winning soccer squad, or even the builders of the Tokyo SkyTree – the tallest building in Japan, will know this feeling intensely. That it is the feeling of working together to achieve something with others, that is more rewarding than even achieving the goal itself. Whatever the level or scale of the task, there is always a way to build a team atmosphere.

When I think of one of my parents who achieved a lot by themself, I think – sure it gives you a great story to tell yourself and to boast about to other people, e.g. how you overcame such difficult challenges to do something. But it is a narrow achievement, because who is there to celebrate that with you? Who really cares?

In the future, I hope to work as part of a team or partner up with someone who I can gel with for future projects. It would be great to work together to create a business with purpose, where everyone respects and appreciates everyone elses contribution.

Theme changes

I also took this post as an opportunity to announce an experiment with a new WordPress.com theme. I previously went with Penscratch 2, for its simplicity. But I felt perhaps I should experiment and get something a little more colourful. I was attracted to the Rowlings design, which apparently was created by a Swedish design team.

The new theme is said to be more suitable for magazine-type format, whereas Penscratch is more suitable for text. I feel that in the coming months, I want to move into including more visual resources such as YouTube videos. Basically Penscratch is a little too black and white. I want to add some colour but I still also want to keep the overall design simple and functional.

Transition

I am hoping that the change of theme transition goes smoothly. Although the blog is a centrepiece of my website, there are others sides to it. For example, I have included a mailing list sign up and other links to books, articles and products. I understand it is usually a little annoying for people when you change the design of somthing, but usually after a while you can get used to it.

If it doesn’t work out for me, I can aways go back to Penscratch anyway.

Intermission: Blogging Update 5

I felt this was a landmark time for an Intermission Blogging Update. This will be my 60th Blog post for this website…

60 blog posts was a target I set for myself. I have wanted to build a good amount of content in order for my new website to be seen as a legitimate source of information by Google. The number 60 came from this Weidert.com article, which suggested that the first surge of exponential traffic growth can come in the 55-70 blog post range.

Project 60

With this range in mind, I decided to set myself the target of 60 to get to as ‘Stage 1’ of my blogging project. With this post, I have acheived that target.

In these last few months, I have also managed to write other pages and articles and add them to my website, including one new eBook. Overall, I am happy with the amount of content I have produced.

Has there been a traffic surge?

At this stage, there has not been any traffic increase for my website. Traffic is near zero. However, I have to take this as expected, particularly for a new website. I have read on other websites that it can take 6 months before you may start to see organic traffic coming in and in some cases even longer. This website has been going for 4 months, so it is still early days.

However, there have been some promising signs. For some of my larger articles, which are full of keywords, I have had a couple of visitors find their way to them through normal search-engines searches. I take this as a good sign that some of my articles are finding their way out there on the web.

Positives

It is a little frustrating having near zero traffic. But there are a few positives to it. Firstly, I can chop and change blog posts without worrying about how it looks to viewers.

For example, on a few occasions I have written very long posts. Upon reading them after publishing, I felt that they were too long, and so I decided to unpublish them and then chop them into two or three articles.

My website contains several examples of articles written in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 sections etc. My posts have averaged about 1,600 words per post. If I had not broken up some of my articles, that average would be higher.

Consideration of Overall Purpose

Another plus point is that it has really made me consider the ultimate purpose of my website. Upon achieving the Stage 1 goal of publishing 60 posts, I am also clearer about where I will focus my attention in the future.

Going Forward

I intend to write several articles on acupuncture for various medical conditions. I feel there is a demand for this kind of information. I have already seen one other website, which is popular on which I will use as inspiration. I feel that I will be able to apply a different approach to doing this.

I will also work on producing work based on an illness, that I have suffered with as a resource to help other people.

I will keep up my blog as a way to balance my content and also to express myself. However, for my future blog posts, I will adapt a different approach. I intend to keep my posts shorter in length and to follow a certain structure.

No Comment

I thought it is as good a time as any to write down my approach to comments. I have disabled my commenting.

I have heard that the whole point of blogging is to create a dialogue with others and that comments are an essential part of that. However, I have also read that there is no difference between disabling or enabling comments in the overall popularity or traffic of a website.

I have decided to deactivate my comments so I can simply focus only on producing content. I have a very limited amount of time to work on my website in a day, so I want to optimise what I do with my time. It’s hard enough finding time to reply to normal emails to people. Replying to comments online would just give me more pressure.

Mind you, considering, I have no traffic, I probably don’t have to worry about comments. Perhaps I’m just being lazy.

Experimental Posts

To end on a high note. I have experimented with different types of blog posts in my journey to 60. One of my more interesting posts was this one: 12 Years a Slave: I was a Prisoner of the Steve Pavlina Cult’.

This unusual post started out as a keyword experiment idea that gathered momentum. Initially I wondered – what if I wrote a satirical blog article about an already popular blogger, Steve Pavlina being a cult and filled it with keywords? Would that give me more traffic? So I wrote a comical fictional story about it. It was only meant to be a short piece but it took off and before I knew it, I had written around 4,000 words.

After I had written it, I realised that I really should check with Steve about this article just in case he took offence to it. So I emailed him to run it by him. If he had taken offence to it, I would have shelved it.

Positive feedback and Syncronicities

The great thing is that he read though my work and replied quickly saying it was fine with him and that he actually enjoyed the piece.

I took that as a great bit of praise as I have been following his work for years and I have to say, it felt good to make some kind of contact with him for the first time ever.

The other interesting thing was that the next day he wrote a post with a reference to Star Wars called ‘Your Hero’s Journey‘.

This article really resonated with me, but what was really curious was that at the same time, I had just completed the draft form of a new series of articles with a Star Wars-lightsaber reference called: How to Manifest Darth Vader with the Law of Attraction’. How about that for syncronicity?

No return

So overall, the blogging journey has been interesting. I have invested a lot of time into it. My worry is that perhaps this is time I should have invested into other things – for example paid work. I’m not rich and the bills are piling up.

However, I feel so strongly compelled to do this and the writing really flows. I can’t help myself, that I must keep working on this website, even though logically it makes no sense and the time may be better spent elsewhere.

I suppose it’s like that quote in the movie The Matrix, when Neo has to make a choice to stay in the car and be taken to Morpheus, or get out and return to his old life:

“You have been down there, Neo. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.”

And then Neo proceeds to have a giant robotic alien sucked out through his belly button. Ouch! Perhaps this is not a good analogy.

Nevertheless, I will continue to write and create. And see just how far down the rabbit hole it takes me.

Intermission: Blogging Update 3

30 days, 30 posts. Blogging So far…

This is my 30th article and it appears that I have completed the 30 day challenge of writing 30 articles in 30 days, that I mentioned in my other article – Intermission: Blogging Update 2. So that is a cause for a mini celebration. Perhaps I’ll buy myself a beer.

I did not set out to complete this 30 day challenge. I simply enjoyed the process of writing and the natural flow that I had fallen into. It was when I got to 20 articles that I became aware of this concept of the 30 day challenge from another blogger and I realised I was quite close to achieving this target. However, I would say that once I thought about going for this target, it did add a little pressure into my writing and at 25 articles I almost considered letting the goal go. Fortunately, a few ideas flowed and I continued. In consideration, I think it is far better to write for your own pleasure rather than an arbitrary goal. I think once you start to introduce targets into any creative process especially something like blogging, you start to take the fun away from it.

Blogging Optimisations

Another thing that has changed is I have started altering my writing styles to try to make them a little more SEO optimised. I have started learning how to break up my prose and make it more readable by adding headings and reducing the size of the paragraphs. I’ve also started adding links to other articles in my website and see that this is a way of building a road network to other parts of my website for travellers. Although I’ve started incorporating keywords, I am not too concerned with adding  them because I think if you try to put too many in, it can make the writing a little unnatural.

Other than that, I had started adapting my writing to a blog format and I think that has helped me to be a better writer. I intend to go through some of my older articles and see if I can re-format the to make them read a bit better. When I look at my earlier articles, I realise that some parts have really long parts of prose without headings or anything to break them up. I can see how that may be a little tiring to read after a while. But after making some alterations by adding a few headings here and there and , a few changes to the sentences, I feel they read a little better. I also want to be aware that not all readers are going to be seeking English as a first language, so I hope to make it easier for them.

Blogging Frequency

I have been considering my post frequency which has been quite high. Posting a new article every day is not that easy to do. It was fine at the beginning to give me a ‘starter’, but now I will switch to either one or two posts weekly. I think I am more likely to consistently post if I do this. I am also working on adding an information booklet as a sign up freebie. In fact, it is already completed, but needs some amending and so I hope to put that out live soon.

I have now also gone over the 40,000 word mark. Most articles have been over 1000 words. The thing about writing this many words in a short period of time is that I haven’t taken the time to go through the texts thoroughly and capture all the typos. I am sure there are still a few out there as well as awkwardly worded sentences. So this this is something, I need to go though later on and correct.

Blogging Content

In terms of article subject, I can feel that I am leaning to working more on health related topics rather than on articles for my other categories – spiritual, money, life and so on. However, again, I’ll see what takes my fancy and work on that. I do have a series of articles I would like to write on specific health topics. However, this will take a significant amount of time and will require a concerted effort, so it is likely to be something for the future.

Another thought is that although I like to use contemporary references from movies, tv series and music to make a point, I realise that some of my references are probably not so common or out of date. I don’t think many people like watching Married with Children. It was an early 90’s TV drama and could never be made today. I don’t think a lot of people can relate to this (even though it was probably one of the greatest TV shows ever made). In considering this, the Japanese word: ‘Shouganai’ comes to mind. The word ‘Shouganai’ translates as ‘it can’t be helped’. Using these references is enjoyable for me and so in that case, I think it is fine if I continue to do so, as it is more important that I enjoy my writing.

Providing Value

On writing these intermissions, I am aware, that first and foremost a blog article should provide some value to the reader. I suppose my intermissions do not provide any immediate value other then allowing the reader a snapshot into the kind of thought processes that occur when doing a piece of work, a report or writing. But just in case that is not enough, here is a health-related joke to finish:

The Nursing Home

A daughter went to visit her father in the nursing home. She was a little worried about seeing him as he was always restless at night and often tired the next day. However, when she arrived she was surprised to see that he was in good spirits.

“What’s happened to you?” she asked. “You seem so well”

“Well… its this new medication, they’ve put me on” he said, “It really helps me sleep at night.”

“New medication?” she asked, “what kind of medication?”

The father answered: “Its’ a combination of warm milk and viagra.”

“Warm milk and viagra! how on earth does that help?” she asked in surprise.

“Be darned if I know, but it’s great.” he answered.

So on her way out, the daughter went to the nurse and said “its really great that my father is sleeping better and is less restless, but I’m really curious about this new medication he’s taking: the warm milk and viagra. How does it work?” she asked.

The nurse relied: “Well, the warm milk helps him fall asleep at night”.

“Sure I get that!” the daughter said, “but what about the viagra?”

“Oh that…”  the nurse answered, “it stops him rolling out of bed”.

Enjoy.

Intermission: Blogging Update 2

Is Blogging like Marriage? How it’s going so far…

Following on from ‘Intermission: Blogging Update 1′, I have now written 20 posts and what surprises me is that my word count is over 20,000 words. That’s about the amount of words of a small novella. If I continued at this rate for another 4 weeks, I could have well over 60,000 words – the normal size of a full book. People say they would love to write a book. Well, all you really have to do is write a blog for 6 months – a few articles weekly, and you would have enough material easily for a book. This was a quite surprising revelation for me. I am becoming aware that there is a lot of potential in blogging and that it should not be dismissed as inferior to ‘traditional’ journalism, magazine or newspaper writing. I wonder what will come next after blogging? And can I arrive early to the party next time instead of later?

Another thing is that I have written and released an article every day for 20 days. This in itself quite an accomplishment for me. This week, I read about the concept of the 30-day challenge, from a Ted talk – the idea of doing something you always wanted to add to your life for the next 30 days. I read about this from another’s bloggers’ site – InkBlots and IceBergs, a great site from a lady who was trying this. I had heard the idea before of doing 30 day trials. In Chinese Qigong, they have this idea of a 100 day gong. ‘Gong’ translates as ‘work’. You do a particular exercise for 100 days in a row without fail. But that can be quite difficult to complete and so I think the idea of doing  a challenge for shorter periods makes sense. I did not set out writing this month with the intention of writing everyday for 30 days. I simply wanted to start creating content for my website. However I am quite close to achieving that goal so I will see if I can do it. But if I don’t, I’m fine either way.

I’m sure people struggle with time to sit down and write around their other commitments. I have a very small window of opportunity to write. At the moment I have exactly two moments. One is very early in the morning as soon as I wake up before my family does. The other time is usually last thing at night. But what I find is that all day, while I may be carrying on other activities, I will be thinking about what I am going to write. I may go over the same idea mentally several times. I am writing it in my head. Then when I sit down, it comes. I find it helpful to consistently think about it.

When I have certain challenges in life, I find that a way to help face them is to write. Writing helps lifts my mood and contributes towards creating a positive vibe about me. Difficult things happen in life. Its part of life. We can’t always control when bad things happen. But what we can control is our response to it. It may not be easy, but it is the only thing we have control over.

Of course, it is easy to say this. Most of us haven’t had a monks training like David Carradine in the Kung Fu series. It is not easy for us to approach all of life’s problems with Zen-like calm. For most of us,  when bad things happen, we get thrown off. Thus it is with me. I’ve had times in the past when things were bad and I responded by feeling down, angry, depressed and self-blaming. However, I’ve driven down that road enough and I just don’t see the point of going back that way. It doesn’t help to respond to difficult times in this way. When the big things in life aren’t going well and you’ve getting defeats. Focus just on achieving the small things – winning the small victories. It will help your mood and your confidence. But also energetically, bit by bit, thing will change.

So instead I look for small things to give me pleasure and put all my energy into that instead. One of these things is exercise. The other is writing and working on this website. The website is something I had wanted to do for years but never had the time to do so. Well now I do. I’m not doing much exercise at the moment, so I need to get back into that.  Instead I am mostly writing this blog. Perhaps, in some ways, this blog is like the ‘other woman’ or maybe its like a new bride. Just married. I am in the honeymoon phase of this blog. I am enjoying it. Making cups of tea for her in the morning. Going to the shop to buy chocolate just to keep my little darling happy.

Of course I know the monotony of married life may come, when the gloss fades, when you find yourself asking the other half in a nasally voice: “well what do you want to do today dear?” – knowing full well that you’ve done everything’. I’m trying to make a clumsy metaphor for when you don’t want to write anymore. Here are some Al Bundy quotes about marriage:

Peg, we’ve been married for 17 years. Can’t we just be friends?

“I don’t want to have to go to sleep after sex. I want to go to sleep after sex. I welcome the darkness.”

One of the things this blog reveals to me about myself is inhibitions. I am a very private person, even with close friends. Perhaps too closed. I think it’s an only child thing. So I think writing about my experiences and lessons and then putting it in the public domain helps make me a more open person. I still keep some privacy and never reveal anything about anyone else out of professionalism, respect and confidentiality. So everything is related to me alone.

Also I have barely written anything about Acupuncture or even Traditional Oriental Medicine. In fact I’ve probably written more about Al Bundy than I have Acupuncture. But it doesn’t bother me as I am happy talking about other topics for now. It all relates to life, and well-being anyway, so it’s all good. Also Married with Children was probably the funniest American Sitcom ever made. Personally I think more blogs should quote from this TV series. It would make the world a better place.

So going back, putting my energy into something creative is a great way of creating a positive vibe around you. It helps you to adapt to challenging situations and putting something out there with minimal expectations feels good. For me, it’s also a kind of experiment and I’m curious if it will open up new doors, new experiences and possibly new connections for me. That would be great, but there no expectations and it’s still early days.

So I should just enjoy the writing. There not much traffic but I’m quite happy with the little that I am getting. I will keep enjoying the honeymoon period and enjoy my bride before the boredom, the recrimination, the painful silences begin. To end, here’s another quote about marriage from the Vampire movie ‘From Dusk til Dawn’:

Vampire Female:  “I’m not going to drain you completely. You’re going to turn for me. You’ll be my slave. You’ll live for me. You’ll eat the bugs because I order it. Why? Because I don’t think you’re worthy of human blood. You’ll feed on the blood of stray dogs. You’ll be my foot stool. And at my command, you’ll lick the dog shit from my boot heel. Since you’ll be my dog, your new name will be Spot. Welcome to Slavery!”

Seth:   “No thanks. I’ve already had a wife”

Classic.

Intermission: Blogging Update 1

How it’s been going so far with blogging…

I have been blogging for a short time and I felt its a good time to take stock and see what I’ve learnt as well as think about my direction for this blog.

So, one thing that happened is a few people liked some of my posts for which I am grateful for. I also got followed for the first time, which is great. One of the good things about being liked by other bloggers is that it gave me the chance to look in turn at their websites. I’ve had a good luck through their articles, design and style.

Some bloggers have created some really great sites with interesting content and positive messages. But more than that, I am able to see the life or work of another person and I think that is far more interesting than any news channel of soap opera available on TV. I have learnt a lot from looking at these websites and see that in many ways, the blog is a form of expression for a person. It can also be a business. People take different approaches reflecting on what they are trying to achieve and convey. I think that in hundreds of years in the future, these blogs will be a useful way for our descendents to understand our lives.

Another observation is there seems to be a blogging galaxy of which I had previously been unaware of. It may even be a community, but it’s too early for me to know. I think that in some ways, blogging takes a certain type of skill. Writing posts requires a different type of writing ability compared to writing essays or articles.

Using Contemporary References to make a point

Another observation about my own writing, is that I notice I often use popular culture – movies, song lyrics or TV series to support a point or argument I am making. This is curious to me, because generally in everyday conversation I wouldn’t go around making references to movies or songs. That would be kind of strange. But in my articles, so far I have made references to Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, David Bowie, the TV character Al Bundy, songs by the Eagles, Frank Sinatra, Dave Edmunds, Depeche Mode.

When I think about why I use these as references points. I consider that the members of generation X, Y and the Millenials are more likely to search for answers from YouTube and movies than from parents, teachers or the Church. If we think about the Bible and Sunday sermons, people today would find it hard to relate to the teachings of the bible no matter how deep they may be. For example, the line from Jesus: “Consider the lilies….” Well, how many people today could consider the lillies? It’s not really something that most people can relate to. I’m more better able to consider a Macdonald’s Big Mac than I can the lillies. And so, even though the meaning of the sentence carries with it wisdom, the modern reader may already have been lost.

Here is the rest of the line:

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin”

Blogging, Communication and connecting

I think in order to communicate to people today, we need to be more contemporary and to use examples of sources from popular culture that everyone will have some experience of – art, music and movies or famous people.

For example, if I refer to the movies: the Matrix or Fight Club, some the messages of these movies are very clear but also carry a certain depth. So for example, the quote from Fight Club: “the things we own end up owning you” has more impact and resonance for a modern audience then the Biblical quote: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. However, I was able to use relatively older contemporary literature to make a point as I referred to Kipling, Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson in a recent post. We’ll see.

Or perhaps, my points are completely wrong. But who cares? It’s my blog and I can write what I like. Cue evil laugh.

Another thing is the images. I like to use an image for each article that conveys the message I am trying to get across. When I search for a photo, I have an idea of what kind of image I am looking for, but I cannot always find the right one. So then I will carry various different searches until I find something I feel fits. It may not be what I had in mind originally, but I am happy with many of the images I have found.

The next steps

In terms of my plans for the website. I have a background in Traditional Oriental Medicine and a long interest in natural health and so I have been considering doing a series of articles on health, which was my original intention, but as my interests range across many different areas, I will likely keep writing about random things under the categories of money, life, spirituality, health and miscellaneous. I will also keep up with the blogging updates as a way to check in. Here is part 2.

At the moment, I have been writing blog articles daily. I have enjoyed it a lot and it has been pleasing that some people have found it interesting. I will continue writing but may slow down the pace for a while and instead focus on building my home page, which until recently was pretty empty.