Monday, May 28, 2012

Struggling with my Retirement

I have to say, it is a lot harder to let go of work than I thought. I was supposed to look at my sales numbers only twice a month. I have not followed that. I was good for a while but then I broke down on the 25th and then I kind of broke that again yesterday and to a degree today. I was reading a thread on my forum and they were talking about how most self published authors only make $500 a year. Can you believe that? I make that in a couple of days. It was good perspective.

What came with reading that thread though, was me examining why my numbers aren't higher. I did discover something about my sales. Barnes and Noble and Amazon German are both consistently up, but I'm a big fail when it comes to selling books on I made $1200 in Jan, but only $700 in April. This can all be explained by filtering my titles. It's unfortunate, but that's life.

But that got me to thinking how I can increase sales of poor selling titles. I then made those changes and in the day or two since it has had an effect. So after I realized it had an effect,  I had to keep checking to see how much of an effect it had. But looking again and again has had the same effect that it always has; me asking myself why isn't it more. We human beings become unhappy because we keep asking for things to be other than what they are. It is a trait which is hard to escape.

I'm starting to think of my attitude toward selling books like an addiction. Like I'm a work-a-holic or something (haha!). But I can either be retired or not retired. Alcoholics can't drink just half a bottle without finishing it. I can't retire half-assed.

Here's the thing, if I fully act like I'm retired, I am going to leave money on the table. How am I supposed to walk away from money on the table? I don't know, but I can either be happy or I can collect all of the money for off the table.

When I got to college, I was elated to be out of the Bahamas. I almost hated that place. My childhood was often hellish. It was just horrible. College was this incredible place where I was no longer alone. It's tough growing up unique. It's not like I wasn't liked, because I was. People found me interesting and I'm pretty sure they liked me for it. But looking around and feeling fundamentally different from everyone around you, including your friends, is hard. I couldn't breath there, and when I got to college, all of a sudden I could breath... and talk. And boy did I talk.

I talked so much that by the time I was a sophomore I felt the need to go on a vow of silence for a week. It's wasn't like anyone ever asked me to stop talking. I just got sick of hearing my own voice, and for that week the silence was wonderful.

And when I was 16, I decided to step away from my life for a monk-like life. There was no masturbation or impure thoughts. I meditated twice a day and vowed a spiritual life. In other words I have a history of giving up things. And all of those things that I gave up helped me to cleanse my mind. They felt good. And I have to remember that now.

How much money and celebrity do I need? How much can I strip away from my life without feeling wanting?

Unfortunately, if I ask myself, what's important to me, I know what the answer is. Nothing. Nothing is important to me. That's kind of sad. I used to say that my friends were important to me, but today I think I realized that their not. Once again today I was faced with a situation where I could either advice a friend in a way that would bring us closer together, or I could advice them in a way that would make them happier but pull us apart. I advised them in a way that would make them happier but pull us apart. It broke my heart a little to do it, but I did. Now I think that if their friendship was valuable to me, I would have pulled them closer. But I guess nothing truly matters to me. Nothing does.

That might have been why I have chased after money and celebrity for so long. I guess the truth is that after I abandoned my spiritual beliefs everything lost it's meaning for me. The only thing that's important in life is what you give importance. And now that being a valuable member of society isn't important to me, nothing has importance. And the sad thing is that I don't think a change of location would change that.

I have to truly retire. I have to stop checking my numbers or figure out a way to devalue them for me. I look around at my apartment and I'm happy with it. I don't have a lot of stuff, but I don't need anything more. I have a couple of friends whose houses are just stuffed with stuff. Why? Why would someone need so many trinkets. I just don't get it.

I'm wondering if I should start meditating again. There have been many times in my life when I have said that I have to start meditating again and I do it for a week or two but then I stop. In those situations, the truth has to be that meditation wasn't something that I truly wanted. The things that I truly want, I do and I don't stop doing. That is how all of us are.

Research has shown that meditation can cause an elevation in, I think, oxytocin. And when I was meditating a lot I could feel it. It felt so incredibly good. God damn did it feel good. I remember thinking at the time that I was whole. I didn't need anyone else to make me complete. God I wish I could feel like that again.

I don't know how I could be so good looking and so well liked yet unable to find someone to pair up with, but that's the fact of it. I haven't been on more than one date with someone in 11 years and it's not about to start now. I should really ride out the time I have left in a state of wholeness. How great would that be?

And the truth is that no one else can make you whole. Only you can make yourself feel whole. And that state of wholeness is only a combinations of neurochemicals in either case, so what's the point of the trouble of relationships. I'm not going to be in a relationship in either case, so why fight that fact anymore. "Let go and let god" as they say. Let what will be, be. I'm not going to stop the sun from rising in the east, so why should I try.

I think that the only way that I will truly be able to retire will be for me to start meditating. Nothing has value to me, so what would I be doing otherwise that's more valuable than mediation? Nothing of course. When I was a meditating kid, I did it because there was nothing more important to me than that. Now I don't have a job I need to worry about. I don't have a relationship that I have to be concerned about. I don't have money problems or anything. What do I have that's of importance to me? Nothing. So why not ride out the rest of my life on an oxtocin high? There are a lot of worse ways to go... like every other way. Hmm...

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Effects of my Retirement

It has been a little over a week since I have decided that I needed to retire. I don't know if I would have considered what I'm doing retirement prior to this, but there is a forum thread on the social site I hang out on and they talk about retirement there. The first time I read it, I didn't think what they described was retirement, but now I get it. Retirement is leaving the stuff that you don't want to do and instead filling your life with the stuff that you really want to do. Retirement isn't sitting in your house doing nothing.

I am a hard worker. My father was a hard worker. My mother wasn't afraid of hard work. I have long believed that the answer to all of my problems would simply be to work harder. But recently I learned that it's crap. There is a limit to how much working harder will do. But one thing that attitude did do for me was that it perfectly filled my time. I both wanted and needed something to completely occupy my time, and that did it. There are certain things in life that I don't want to have to think about. Endless work gave me that gift.

Now that I'm retired I get concerned. Hiding is comfortable and safe. Giving yourself time to feel things might result in feeling something you don't want to. Having time is risky business, but so far it's been fine. In fact, the happiness that I retired in search of, felt closer than it's ever been. I really have let go of that endless drive. It's feeling nice.

I did start to notice something though. Internal motivation is hard to maintain without reward. As human beings we have evolved to be reward for everything that is worth doing. Our bodies release great chemicals that tells us to keep doing what we're doing. I continue to write and record audiobooks because I want to, but without the reward of seeing that they're selling, I feel a little hollow. It's like singing into the wind; you can only hear yourself and can never be sure you are the only one.

I guess I'm writing today because today was my designated day for checking my sales. What I found was that I have sold the most I have ever by this time in the month. I feel pretty safe that I will make my quota. One might think that would make me feel good, and it did for a little while. But within hours, my thoughts that I'm not good enough returned. "Why isn't it more?" I asked myself. I could barely stop the thoughts. They simply flowed.

I was glad that I did check my sales though. It turns out that I now sell more in German than I do in English on, and I do it with fewer books. That tells me that I have to get more books out in German. I also found out that a book that I had translated on a whim, is now my best selling book overall. I have three more books in that series, so they will be my next translations.

Knowing my sales also motivated me to attempt something which I first attempted 2 months ago. I thought that the powers-that-be deleted a very important account that I have. It turns out that my plea was listened to and my account was reinstated. Because I was knocked back by its initial deletion, I didn't even bother to check back. But they had listened and today I made a very strong move toward increasing my sales. This wouldn't have happened if I didn't check my sales numbers. Checking my sales is an evil for me, but a necessary one.

Now, I just have to get my mind back into that better place. I need to remember that I'm not required to increase my numbers. Hell, I might need to institute some sort of punishment if my sales go up, to deincentivize myself from making money my goal instead of happiness. It's a tricky thing. I think that my new flower garden has helped me to remember to choose happiness. Seeing flowers makes me happier. But the main thing that I have to look out for is my desire to hide from life popping out in some other way. The problem is that in the past, I have never realized my new addiction until I was knee deep in it. Oh well, I probably won't see the next one coming either. But I have to still venture forward with my plan, and I need to make some time to enjoy the first surfing lesson that I paid for.

Other than that, I feel like a should write 2 stories this week. I have been paying for a promotion all month long and I should really have 2 more stories out before the promotion is complete on the 29th. But on top of that, I have a production assignment. It promises to be a busy next two weeks.

I hope that I will continue to remember that I am actually retired. And I hope that I can find the internal motivation to continue on, even though I don't know how others are responding to it. I think it might have been easier back when publishers would only give you sales figures every six months. I'm sure that authors constantly thought about how well their book was doing, but I bet that it did free the author's mind to focus on other things since you knew that would never know them until the designated date. I guess knowing vs not knowing is a situation that gives as much as it takes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Most Recent Psychic Event

If you read my last post, you would be familiar with my penchant for considering myself psychic. In my last post, I mentioned my way of getting answers from the universe. I also mentioned that I asked the universe whether or not I would find love and I was distressed that the universe wasn't coughing up a coincidence as an answer. Well, I just experienced a coincidence and possible answer. Here's what happened, though I haven't analysed it yet.

I called my mother on mother's day like a good son. We haven't spoken in a while so we spend 2 hours catching up. I told her about the 3 things that I would like to do this summer; scuba lessons, hang-gliding and a trip to Mexico. Mum then asked me when was I going to Mexico. I told her I didn't know and she asked me who I was going with. I told her that it would be a surfing trip and she replied disappointingly.

She then told me that she wants to go to Mexico to see the pyramids that they most recently found. She then wavered about where the pyramids were. I told her that I couldn't go because of the cost. She replied by saying that Travel Zoo has had great deals ever-so-often. With that in mind I go to check Groupon and LivingSocial. There weren't any deals there.

I hang up from her and go about life. The next day I decide to check my Groupon/LivingSocial email address (since I rarely do). What do you think that I find? It is a LivingSocial deal to Machu Picchu. I remember that there are pyramids there so I check it out. Machu Picchu is in Peru but I send it to my mother anyway asking her if this was where she meant. She wrote me this morning saying "Yes!!!". I then go to my email address and do a search to see if trips to Peru come up often. In the 2 years that I've been a member of the 2 groups, this is only the 2nd time a trip to Peru has come up and the only other time wasn't a trip to the pyramids. This qualifies as a big coincidence.

So, as I said before, with the psychic technique that I use, the next big coincidence usually has the answer to the question that you've asked. That means that somewhere in this incident is my answer. These things usually require some interpretation, but not that much. 

My first guess is that the answer to my question is that 'what my mother wants will be available.' My mother has been very clear about what she wants. She thinks that I use our shared history as an excuse to avoid relationships and marriage, and she wants grand kids from me. Even when I informed her that she wouldn't get that, she hasn't conceded her desire like I have gotten her to do on other topics.

Ya know, I have to say that my interpretations to past coincidental events have been super cool and enough to delight friends at parties. This one, in comparison, would be pretty lame. But I do know that the answer always involves the person that the coincidence is being shared with. In the other most cool coincidences, the questions were about the person that I experienced the coincidences with. 

Hmm... I guess that in a way, like the cool psychic experiences, my question is also about my mother (the person I shared the coincidence with), because my mother is the only one that has vocalized that she wants me to be in the type of relationship that I asked the universe about (I think that only one other person in the past 15 years has said anything anywhere close to that to me.). So the question that I asked could have just as easily have been, will my mother get what she wants for me. If I had asked the question, "will I experience what my mother wants from me" the answer would totally have been, "my mother will get what she wants." 

The problem is however, that although it could have been the same question, it wasn't the way I actually phrased it. And if there is one thing that I have learned time and time again from my psychic experiences, it's that the psychic world is very literal... painfully literal... excruciatingly literal. You have to take the answer you get without adding on assumptions, because it is those assumptions that will break your heart when they don't come true. And every single time, after getting my heart broken for an assumption that didn't come true, I have thought back to the psychic event and the literal translation of the event is always exactly what occurred. So now the question is, is my current interpretation closest to the literal understanding of what has happened?

Hmm... I need to think about this a little more.

It just hit me. I was correct. That was the answer to my question. Ha! And for all of those that that think that it is some how good to be psychic, let me share with you what the universe has told me. Keep in mind that when asking the universe something, you have to be extremely specific. In turn, the universe will be very literal in its reply.

So the very specific question that I asked was: Will I be in a loving relationship, that involves sex and makes me happy.

The universe replied: What my mother wants will be available to me.

Here is what my mother has stated that she wants for me: She wants me to get married, even if she lives in the Bahamas while I live in LA. And she wants me to have kids.

Love doesn't seem to come into play there. Nor does sex or happiness. So when I asked if I will have a happy relationship, the universe said that what I will be able to have is a marriage. Ha! That is the answer. That even sounds like their types of answers. They never answer yes or no. They present information. So the answer is, and here is where the assumption part comes in, I will NOT be in a loving relationship that involves sex and makes me happy. I know that isn't exactly what the universe said, but something tells me if the answer was "yes, I will have those things" they would have created a different coincidence.

Question asked. Question answered. Now I have to start the fight againt the self-fulfilling prophecy. Yay me. Yay psychic abilities. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Perception of Self

Perhaps this is not a good day to blog considering that I'm sick. Whenever I'm sick my mood drops tremendously. And I can say without a doubt that I'm not happy right now. I'm feeling defeated and like giving up. Last week I was feeling like this and in turn I took 4 strong steps to recover. Really when I'm feeling like this it is usually based on sales numbers.

Currently my overall sales are up. My German sales, Amazon English sales and Barnes & Noble sales are all up. But my audio book sales are down. And that fact alone is just killing me. I was counting on audio books as my future and I had a 50% drop in sales between March and April. Considering how much time I've invested into audiobooks, it just depresses the hell out of me.

Adding to that, last weekend I went to see Avengers. I was putting butter on my popcorn when a woman walked up next to me and stood waiting for the butter pump. I look over at her and she doesn't look directly at me but she starts to blush. I turned back around wondering what she was blushing at since there was no one else there. I then walked off, but by the time I get into the theater I realize that she was one of the most beautiful women that I've seen in a long time. (I'm slow on the uptake sometimes.) I then keep an eye out for her to walk into my theater but she doesn't. That missed opportunity does not do my mood any good.

You know, I look at my life objectively and it's not too bad. I write for a living; I'm taking some time off to work on a movie; I'm pitching a huge game changer to one of the largest publishers in the world; and someone volunteered that I was good looking. (Usually I try my best not to hear compliments, but it was said so disarmingly that I couldn't help but hear it.) So one would think that I'm just fine.

So what this makes me think is that I'm low on Vitamin D though I'm not. My body has probably adapted to it so I'm no longer getting that dopamine boost that I get from it. And I haven't been taken my other feel good supplements long enough to feel an effect. But damn I'm not in a good mood. I have this overwhelming desire to lay in bed and just stay there. If anyone knows me, they would know that would never happen. But the desire is there and I can't shake it. And no new venture or project has managed to shake this feeling out of me.

Ok, you want to hear something that is going to sound a little crazy? So I'm psychic, right. Just accept that as fact. I'm not going to lay out the mounds of evidence that started from age 14. And one of the psychic techniques I use involves me asking "the universe" questions. Using this method I have about a 75% or 80% accuracy rate. I don't use it very often, but I have found it incredibly accurate.

So a few weeks ago I wasn't feel particularly happy and I decided to employ this technique. I have never really been in love. I'm pretty old for never having really been in love and I'm constantly aware of this. So I decide to ask the universe whether or not I will ever be in love during this life time.

To me the answer was easy and obvious. Of course I will. So I sat back waiting for the answer. The way I get the answer is that something extremely coincidental happens. I then have to dissect that coincidence and within it is an answer. The incidences aren't kind of coincidental. They are really coincidental. And I always get an answer. I went through a short phase where I got 2 incorrect answers in a row, but I always get answers. The only time when I didn't get an answer was right after I become unemployed after the recession hit. I had asked the universe where would be the next company that I would be fully employed at. I got no response at all.

That lack of response led me to shun everything psychic. What I interrupted that lack of answer to mean was that I would never again be employed by a company. As a person who had no clue where my next paycheck was coming from, I did not like that answer. I hated the universe for giving me that answer and I rejected it. But of course, if you have been reading about my writing journey, you would know that as it stands, I no longer have to find employment by another company. I am gainfully self-employed. I couldn't imagine that answer (or lack of one) as being a good thing at the time, but it was.

So a few weeks ago I ask the universe if I would ever find love. Can you guess what the response was? It was silence, just like when I asked the question about employment. And yes, I considered that the technique has stopped working for me, but I have had two really impressive incidences of coincidence between those two unanswered questions. I guess it's possible that it takes time for the universe to arrange for these coincidences, but it has been longer than I remember it ever taking before.

Typing this I'm reminded of a TED lecture I saw about perception. The gist of the lecture was that our perception of things matters more than reality. Well, my perception of my life is not good and involves the terms loveless and failure. Is that reality? Who knows.

On a side note, it looks like I will no longer get my office back because my roommate doesn't now seem to be moving out anymore. The upside is that I no longer have to rapidly increase my income. So perhaps to give life some meaning I should write a book that has the possibility of surviving me. The YA book seems so daunting to me right now, so maybe I should finally work on '10 Things that Every Kid should Know By 18... And How to Teach Them.' It shouldn't take me longer than 3 weeks and maybe it will make me feel better about myself.

Why I currently need to feel better about myself I do not know. But in spite of my promise to be better to myself, I again seem to find myself mumbling the word "loser" to myself. Do I consciously think that I'm a loser? Not even close to it. But clearly my subconscious is not liking something about what's going on, and I have to figure out some way to address it.