My Life As a Gamer

I’ve never had an addictive personality; I can’t stand cigarettes and grew bored of alcohol sometime after college.  For a very long time, however, I was addicted to the pixelated joy of gaming.  The original Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, turns 30 years old this week. I personally haven’t touched a game controller … Read more

The Story of Two Monks – What Does it Mean to You ?

monkAssome of you may know, I regularly practice vinyasa flow yoga tohelp keep my back flexible as well as promote overall wellness.  At the end of one of my recent classes, my instructor read us a short story to meditate on during shavasana.

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her.

The senior monk carried this woman on his shoulder, forded the river and let her down on the other bank. The junior monk was very upset, but said nothing.

They both were walking and senior monk noticed that his junior was suddenly silent and inquired “Is something the matter, you seem very upset?”

The junior monk replied, “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The senior monk replied, “I left the woman a long time ago at the bank, however, you seem to be carrying her still.”

Although I later learned this is a classic story from the Tao, it was new to me and I found it deeply interesting on a few different levels  After class a small group of us spoke about how it meant letting go of the past and either accepting situations for what they are or coming to a peaceful resolution.

Although I agreed with this translation of the story, I found as the week continued to march on, the story took on new meaning for me.  In terms of goals and decision making the story of the monks reminded me to focus on the bigger picture.  While the younger monk thinking all the reasons why he shouldn’t help the woman in distress, the elder monk realized this was an opportunity to work towards the purpose he has devoted his life to, the betterment of man.  Although I’m not a monk and have never aspired to be one, I assume the main objective of a monk is to reach enlightenment and commune with nature on a high level of consciousness. I’ve been reading, or more accurately listening, to Grant Cardon’s “10x Rule” lately and found his overall message is not unlike this interpretation of the monks’ story.  Although his unapologetic style meant to rile up the listener with a dose of equal parts inspiration and moxie is a far cry from the peaceful monks tone, both teachings remind us to focus on whats important in life.  Don’t waste your time and energy on coming up with reasons why something won’t work and focus on how you can make it work.

This past week also started and ran a fundraiser to benefit a friend who lost her home to a fire.  I’ve always had an altruistic nature and have been a member of several different charitable and community organizations in the past.  I set a goal of raising $1,000 and proudly touted my goal and my plan online.  I was initially surprised and almost dismayed when some people I had counted on helping out flat out declined to participate. I had to pause and tell myself I’m doing this not for my own benefit but to help out someone in need.  Perhaps these people who didn’t want to help were assisting in other ways and if not, it wasn’t a reflection on me or my friend it was a reflection on that person.  Needles to say, I re-focused on the task at hand and continued to plow ahead.  I didn’t hit my $1,000 goal but at the end I had raised money from sales and donations, which I originally hadn’t considered I would receive at all.  When I collect the donations and deliver them to my friend later this week, her happiness will have made the journey worth it.

Let’s look at this from the other monk’s perspective, one can always learn something new by looking at the other perspective.  In this case, the younger monk was confined by the regulations of his order.  I’m sure we’ve all felt confined by regulations and guidelines at one time or another. That being said, the monk in this situation should have focused more on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t do.  Perhaps he could have procured a boat or canoe to help the woman sail across the water.  Maybe he could have found a way around it by wrapping her in cloth so there was’t any skin to skin contact.  Either way this is a case of ambition, if the younger monk really wanted to help the woman he would have found a way.  The fact he didn’t help the woman doesn’t make him a terrible person; sometimes good people fail to act in good ways, but in his mind he knows he did wrong.  If not he wouldn’t be preoccupied with “would have” or “should have.”  He expected the other monk to ignore the woman as he chose to, the fact the elder monk acted differently bothered the younger monk, not because he failed to act but because he felt the actions of his associate made him appear like less of a person.

In summary, here’s what I took from the story of two monks:

  1. If you have a goal that is important to you, you’ll find a way to reach it or to stay true to your path to reaching it.
  2. Over-thinking, under-thinking,and not taking action doesn’t help anyone. and finally…
  3. When faced with adversity, don’t focus on why not, instead ask yourself how.

What are your thought about the story of the two monks?  What is your interpretation and how does it apply to a challenge you’ve faced or something you want to accomplish? I want to know – comment below and let’s chat.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. Phil is also all about that bass. 

 

 

The Lesson I Learned From George Clooney

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I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately but I’ve successfully worked out of it and I owe it to George Clooney. I’m in a time of transition and change isn’t easy but it can be rewarding. I remain positive by focusing on my goals, associating with positive people, and putting up as many positive vibes as I can via Facebook, Instagram (@philtasticphil), twitter (@pmtick), and of course this blog. Part of change also includes avoiding old bad habits. This weekend I almost tore open an old wound typing up my original blog topic, life lessons I learned from George Clooney movies ( specifically “The Descendants” and “Up In The Air”). I found myself tearing up someone I used to be very close with, something I promised myself I would never do and took pride in the fact I’ve always acted above board. I feel it’s important I share what happened to me this weekend and how I dug myself out of it, in case you may be struggling in your own situation right now.

1. Let it flow – about halfway into my post I realized I took a turn somewhere. It was obvious I struck a nerve within myself and it needed to be addressed or it would have just festered. I let my typing continue until I was exhausted

2. Examine and diagnose – I reviewed what I had typed and said to myself ” why did I say this ?” In this case when the relationship ended there was a lot left unsaid. Part of me wants to say, ” Look I know you weren’t on the level with me and played me for a fool.” Then I remind myself, some things are better left unsaid but everything happens for a reason.

3. Evaluate where you are now – I stopped and thought about what has happened in my life since then. I rekindled old relationships with friends I was not allowed to associate with while in the relationship and cut ties with negative people I was over encumbered with ( most got the picture, two I have to ignore to this day). I started a business which really spawned a flurry of personal development in growth in me. I learned about goal setting and put an action plan into motion. This directly lead into me losing 70 lbs and improving my overall physical health. I also grew more confident by simply dating women and realizing some of my better qualities something I couldn’t recognize while in the relationship. I made new, positively minded friends who support me and help nurture my growth. I become more active and Started studying yoga. I intend on becoming an instructor one day.

I also remembered an incident about six months ago, I was leaving my Elks lodge after an event and was supposed to meet my girlfriend at the time for dinner. I was running late and hurried to my car. As I was getting in I heard a familiar voice in the distance. I peeked out of my window and saw this person, her sister, and the two negatives who can’t take a hint I noted above. I rolled down my window and said hello. This person, a single mother well into her thirties, physically hid behind her sister not unlike a shy child. She had gained a significant amount of weight and was most likely embarrassed. I don’t mention this to sound shallow, she always had an unwarranted fixation with her weight despite constant reassurance she looks beautiful. I only mention it to illustrate the different mindsets we both had in this moment. An honest person has nothing to hide, nor any reason to feel guilty. Then, one of the negatives attempted to pick a fight with me. Understand I know he didn’t want to fight, he was looking for a reaction ( juvenile I know). I smiled. It was at this time I realized how much the group had hampered me, like weeds choking plants in a garden. Without their negative influence I was able to embrace my own value and self worth to realize I shouldn’t spend time with people who devalue me.

4. Have faith – I’m not a religious person, I believe in God but I am not a regular churchgoer. During the really hard time that followed the breakup, someone gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard. “You did everything you can do, now just throw it up to God and trust he’ll lead you in the right direction.” All of this success I’ve achieved since I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if I was in that relationship because I was with a person who embraced negative thinking and was ultimately wrong for me. God led me away from the negative environment I was in because I wouldn’t have grown if I was still there and there was no way I could ever allow myself to regress.

5. Breathe deep and exhale – this is something I can say I have learned from George Clooney. Understand I’m not a diehard fan but nor will I rush out to see a film if Clooney. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are two films I had in mind when I decided to write this piece, Up In The Air and The Descendants. Both films share an underlying theme: no man is an island. The human experience is enriched by sharing our lives with others. Not everyone we meet will be pleasant or will help us be better than we were before but the people who do should be cherished and the people who deserve our attention. Without spoiling either film, Clooney’s characters go through an arc of personal enlightenment resolving when he accepts his circumstances, even though they may not be ideal. Rather than getting stuck, he breathes deep and resolves to move on.

These aren’t the type of films to have sequels but unlike a motion picture, life goes on. The best part is everyday is an opportunity to write a new chapter, create a new scene, and work towards your ideal finale. You can choose whether the story of your life is a comedy, a drama, or a disaster movie and the part you will play. With this in mind, what films have impacted your life and how ? Please reply and share.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. His favorite George Clooney film to date is Out of Sight.

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Spread Your Luck this Weekend

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In prior posts, I’ve mentioned I have pretty big goals for myself.  These goals and desires came out of wanting to do more, earn more, really just be a more well-rounded person.  There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious or wanting to leave your mark on the world but it’s also important to take a moment and appreciate what you have in life.  About two years ago, I came to a really simple but personally profound realization: I am one lucky guy.  I’m 35 years old young enough to still be on the go but old enough to avoid the pitfalls of youth, I live in a fairly quiet suburb of New Jersey with safe neighborhoods and access to anything I desire, and I’m healthy.  My parents are still with us and supportive of all my endeavors whether they agree with them or not, I have amazing siblings who inspire me in their own ways, and I have a large extended family I’m close with.  I live in a country where I can worship any religion I want, have any political opinion I’d like, and not worry about the consequences.  Don’t believe I’m so lucky? Stop and think about the young kid who has to walk to school everyday through a rough area, think about the millions of people living in poverty and squalor all over the world, and think about those stricken with mental or physical ailments preventing them from living a normal life.  I know it sounds a bit dramatic and heavy but these humbling thoughts help me be more appreciative of my lot in life.  I’ve always been a person who feels obligated to give back to those less fortunate, in the spirit of stewardship.  As a young adult I joined multiple non-profit organizations, some local and some national, with a thirst in my heart to help others.  I’m not as active in any of said organizations currently for a multitude of reasons, but I still look for the opportunity to volunteer or donate whenever I can.  Sadly, an opportunity to help another has come to my attention recently.

The precious baby pictured above is 7 month old Jackson Silva of Garwood, NJ.  Jackson suffers form a terrible disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy otherwise known as SMA.  Jackson has been diagnosed with Type I, also known as the Werdnig-Hoffman disease.  It is the most severe form of SMA and is the number one genetic killer of children under the age of two.  SMA destroys the nerves in the body by depleting it of SMN protein, essential for motor control.  In Jackson Silva’s case he is unable to move his arm and legs. He also has difficulty holding his head up.  Much of this information I obtained from a flyer given to me by Dave and Maria Silva, Jackon’s Grandparents. I did some additional research on my own and found additional grim and upsetting details about this truly horrible disease.  Sadly of those afflicted by type I SMA, only 10% are known to live into adolescence and adulthood.  Those who do survive have a greatly diminished quality of life.   Worst of all there is no cure for SMA.

Although I don’t know the Silva’s very well their resilience and faith during this extremely difficult time is very moving and a testament to their family and their beliefs. I will be participating in The Steeplechase Distance Walk/Run this coming Sunday (09/28/2014) in Hillsborough, NJ.  If you live in the area, Sunday is supposed to be a beautiful day, come participate in the events or purchase a t-shirt to support Team Jackson and SMA research.  The last time I posted a link to my blog, my page was suspended for a few days but if you’d like more information go to www (DOT) steps-together (DOT) org, do a web search for “Jackson Silva SMA” or better yet- like and share “Jackson’s Journey”on Facebook.  For additional fundraising info or support contact Jackson’s Grandpa, Dave Silva, 908-482-5500 or email ABetterWay2Live@aol.com.

In closing, please consider the following: you too may very well be a lucky person, and I hope you are.  I can’t make you to do something but I’m a firm believer in “paying it forward.”  Even if you can’t attend the walk this weekend, please consider supporting Team Jackson in any way you are able to.  Spread your luck, awareness, and prayers for Jackson Silva and all infants suffering from Type I SMA.  Share Jackson’s Journey posts on Facebook, share this blog post, and really draw attention to this vile ailment.  Whether or not you attend the upcoming event, please share your experience with SMA or ideas on how we can help Jackson Silva below.  In the words of Horace Mann, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”

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Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like-minded optimists. Phil supports Team Jackson and hopes to see you at the Run/Walk for Jackson on Sunday Sept 28th in Hillsborough.