motivation

Views, Reads & Fans

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Just a brief introduction so you know where I am coming from.

1. I am a self-published author of a small book based on little known characters from the Bible. This was published through Amazon Createspace a little over a year ago. While it has gotten some traction, it is not anywhere near where I would like it to be. Of course, like any author, it would be nice to see it on a Best Seller List. One day, maybe that will come for something I write.

2. I was told about Medium in the Spring of 2018. I looked at it a few times, decided it might be a little too difficult or time-consuming to deal with, and kept shoving it to a back burner of my writing stove.

3. I have owned and designed my own websites in the past, and have been blogging for over 12 years. At one point, one of the sites I owned was regularly seeing about 3–4,000 unique visitors a day which some days seeing surges in excess of 8–10,000 unique visitors.

4. However, like many writers, it is easy to get discouraged. I got tired of trying to find more contributors and editors who would be willing to share the same passion that I did for the blogs. There are still a couple of people who have written recently on at least one of my blogs and I am very thankful for their contributions. So, the blog posts grew less and so did the readership.

That brings me to July 2018 where all four of these points come together.

I took a chance that somebody would be interested in reading my blogs, my stories, my poems, my Haiku, or my whatever I wanted to share. Much of what I wrote at the beginning was simply a response to Writing Prompts with a Facebook group called Warrior Writers (sadly, no longer in existence).

Then, I was reminded about something that I had forgotten about.

MEDIUM!

$5.00 a month? Are you kidding me? That is nothing. I spend more than that on each trip to the local coffee shop to get a raspberry white chocolate frappe. Why not?

Not one to start off with freebies, I decided to take the plunge and buy into the Medium Partnership Program. My ONLY goal was twofold. 1) To see if somebody liked my writing. 2) To eventually make enough money to pay for my monthly subscription of $5.00.

Here is what has happened.

July — 1 story

123 views

71 reads

24 fans

Earned: (Drum roll, please — — $0.00)

Not one to quit easily, I thought, well, I will give it another month or two.

August — 6 stories

432 views

265 reads

105 fans

Earned for August: (Another drum roll, please — — $0.19)

Part of the problem was that I had not figured out how to put stories behind the paywall. I was frustrated to say the least. However, I figured it out the first of September and things began to change.

September — 4 stories

488 views

347 reads

58 fans

Earned for September: $4.66

I will admit that I did a little jig. Told a couple of friends. Bragged about it to my family and signed my wife, Violet, up to write and make money. Barely enough to pay off my subscription, but I had done it.

I was on Cloud 9 and thought to myself, “Wow, only 4 stories and made over my goal!” However, another side of my brain said, “Don’t count chickens before they hatch!”

So, I set a lofty goal of making at least $10.00 in one month.

October — 12 stories

601 views

419 reads

118 fans

Earned for October: $12.39

Amazing! I have no doubt that Mark CAN make money off of what he writes. On to the next month.

November — 15 stories

1195 views

791 reads

232 fans

Earned for November: $9.88

When I received the total, I was disappointed, but still pleased that I was over the $5 subscription amount. So, on to writing in December and thinking that maybe I could take this a little more seriously.

December — 17 stories

4071 views

3103 reads

451 fans

Earned for December: $52.51

What??!! I made enough to take out the family for a celebratory meal. Ok, maybe it was just Denny’s, but this was huge to me. My 12-year-old girls ask my wife and I, as well as my son, Trenton, who has also started writing, how much we make EVERY Wednesday. They are excited and help to keep us encouraged.

For January 2019, I decided that I needed to step up my game and see what difference it makes. My goal is to write at least one story or article for every single day. I am ahead of my goals as I have seen four stories published as of today, January 4th, and I have three stories ready to go for the next few days.

Each month I read the newsletter that comes out and read that only about 9.1% of all writers make more than $100. I determined in November (and told my family) that my goal is to be one of those in the 9.1%. That means that approximately only 1 in 10 will earn enough to pay for a nice meal. This will be me soon, maybe even in January.

All of this to say that if I can write and make money, then you can do so as well! Write about what you love and what excites you. Pay for the Medium Partner Program. Ask to join and write for publications you like.

Celebrate your successes! I look forward to seeing where I am at in 6 months and then as we close out 2019.

Join me!

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Failure in the Box

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You probably have no clue, but you have a problem. In fact, it is the same problem that I have. It is not a new problem, but one that has existed for quite some time.

If you think you know what the problem is, then you are probably mistaken. Very rarely will you find a person who even knows how to correctly identify the real reason why the problem exists. This problem is not just an isolated case though. It causes continued failure practically every time that it makes an appearance.

At this point, I should probably give you fair warning that the real problem is going to shock you. Therefore, I will wait until you are sitting down comfortably. Grab a coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or a stiff drink.

Ok, here we go.

The real problem is YOU!

If you are thinking inside the box, then you are the problem! If you are not developing a mindset outside of the proverbial box, then you are the problem.

Before you get upset, please let me explain.

When we started our lives in kindergarten, certain things were expected of you and I. We followed along with the plans from the establishment. At the end of the year and with much pomp and circumstance, we were graduated to First Grade. Woohoo! Parties, ice cream, cake, and presents made us feel special, but we were just like everybody else.

Each year a new grade came and went. Elementary school finished and moved us into junior high, and then into high school. Each milestone produced another graduation and we again felt special. However, more likely than not, we were just like all the others. We were NOT different.

12th Grade — Senior Year — Class of ???? — Standing there in cap and gown, you and I insisted that we were going to be the graduating class that changed the world. But, we were all the same.

This has been drummed into us all of our lives. Are the teachers at fault? Yes, they must take some of the blame, but at the end of the day, they face the same problems that you and I face. They are a product of what they were taught to believe, namely, that everybody else is the problem.

Our lives in front of us, we either go to learn a trade, go to university, or begin a menial job. Each day, we continue to add to the reason why we are a failure.

Business school, success seminars, #1 best-selling books all contribute to the sad reality that YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. You have allowed yourself to buy into what we are spoonfed every day.

Still not sure what I mean. Let me give you a few examples.

“Be like Mike!” — The problem is that YOU will never be Michael Jordan. YOU will never even be like Michael Jordan. YOU cannot be Michael Jordan. YOU cannot play like Michael Jordan. Why? YOU are NOT Michael Jordan.

Take a person like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Princess Diana, Mother Theresa, or any other famous person that you can think of. YOU will NEVER be any of these people.

So, why get stuck in the box of thinking you can be? If you think that YOU can succeed by becoming just like somebody else, YOU will fail miserably. YOU will remain the real problem. YOU will continue to lack the strength to stand out from the rest of the crowd who are doing the exact same things that you are doing.

Even in your talents or skills, YOU will never be like somebody else. There was only one Beethoven. One Michelangelo. One Buddha. One Julius Caesar. One Michael Jordan. One Bill Gates. One Princess Diana. One Michael Jackson. One Will Smith. One _______________ (fill-in-the-blank).

To the delight of my adoring fans, there will ONLY ever be one ME.

Ultimately, there will ONLY ever be one YOU!

Stop being the problem and locking yourself into the boxes that you have built. NO matter how hard you try, and no matter how long you try, you will never be somebody else.

If you going to be successful, you need to break free from all the boxes that you have allowed yourself to be put into down through the years. You need to remind yourself that your talents and skills are yours alone.

However, there is a danger that YOU must avoid. If you follow this simple principle, you must work diligently to encourage others to do the same.

Personally, I hate “How I Did…And How You Can” type books. The real reason is because I do not act, think, speak, listen, or behave like the person who has written the book. Even if you and I followed every single step just like the “successful” person has done, we will ALWAYS reach a different conclusion.

The entire point of this blog is this –

If you want to write, then write, but don’t try to write like everybody else.

If you want to play sports, have a career, whatever you want to do, then just do what you have set your heart and mind to do. However, don’t imitate others because you are TOLD that is what you MUST do in order to be successful.

You have the freedom to choose your path. You have the availability and the responsibility to think outside the box. You have the choice to blame others for your failure or to accept that you are not where you want to be because of YOU.

Relish your new freedom.

Be different.

Be unique.

Let the real you shine in a way that NOBODY else can duplicate, because nobody else is JUST LIKE YOU!

A Drudge First?

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Ignacy Paderewski is not a name well-known in many households today. He was born in a city now located in Ukraine.

However, he was hugely instrumental in seeking the favor of President Woodrow Wilson to help Poland became an independent nation that was not part of the Russian Empire.

However, for those who know music well, the name Paderewski is synonymous with the playing and composing of classical music.

At just 18 years of age, and as a mark of the skills he had particularly in playing the piano, this man was offered the opportunity to become a teacher at the Warsaw Conservatory, which is one of the largest and oldest music schools in Europe.

Over the course of his life, he gave many concerts around Europe and the United States.

It is said that at one concert, a woman was enamored with him and his playing. After several minutes of this unwanted attention, the great pianist is said to have stopped her and said, “Madame, before I was a genius, I was a drudge!”

Each of us has the ability to do what we want with our lives.

However, many of us do not avail ourselves of the opportunities that present themselves. We might want to take advantage of them, but we are not willing to be a drudge first.

For example, I might say that I would LOVE to expertly play an instrument, or that I would LOVE to speak fluent Mandarin. The reality is that I do not play an instrument with a great degree of skill, nor do I speak fluent Mandarin.

The question is not whether I have the ability to do either of those two things for I have the ability to take lessons and learn how to play.

The real question is this

What am I willing to give up in order to become good at what I say I love?

A person who wants to be the best in their business will spend time researching and studying the lives of those who have been successful.

A person who wants to play an instrument must be willing to turn off the television and spend hours mastering the scales and arpeggios.

A person who wants to become fluent in a different language needs to find others who speak that language and learn the nuances of the language as well as the culture.

The truth is this. While I say that I would LOVE to expertly play an instrument, I do not really WANT it bad enough to make the necessary sacrifices.

I am not willing to become a drudge in order to be considered a genius in the field of music.

It is particularly true in the West that we live in a fast-paced society and culture. We want instant gratification. Why take years to learn scales and arpeggios if somebody could wave a wand and magically impart such a skill to us?

I am glad that there is no such wand for we would not have great appreciation for the skills and years required to become a genius.

If we want something bad enough, we MUST learn to make sacrifices. We MUST be willing to learn from others. We MUST stop trying and thinking that shortcuts will still allow us to become a genius.

Squibble Squabble

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Call me old-fashioned.

I’ll wait.

Ok, do you feel better now? What’s that? Oh you want to know why I am old-fashioned?

Well, I am glad you asked. Allow me to share a few thoughts that I had while shopping at Sam’s Club earlier this afternoon.

After avoiding some classically rude drivers who were either in a hurry or who had run out of blinker fluid, we arrived at our destination. Signaling that I was turning down one of the parking lanes, another individual coming from the other direction seemed upset. They had the wrong turn indicator on, tried to speed up, and then almost rear-ended a pickup truck. Speeding past me, I lost sight of them as I turned down the parking lane and found a place to park.

Going inside, the normal noise associated with shopping in a warehouse greeted the ears of my son and I. For the most part, I hate shopping — with a passion. Sometimes, I choose to go to the store though so my dear wife does not have to always face the maddening crowds.

Today would be no different. Two people took a cart from the lady at the front without a word of greeting or a thank you. We had been inside the front door no more than 3 or 4 seconds when she pulled a cart up for us and apologized for the delay! Wow, that is some service. We thanked her and wished her a good day.

A quick shopping excursion and we use the Sam’s Club app. This app is so cool. It allows you to scan EVERY item (including produce) as you put it into your cart. Then, when you are finished, you can pay right on your phone with your credit or debit card and walk right out the door.

Have I ever told you how much I hate shopping? Well, if more stores had apps like the one I use at Sam’s Club, I might just have to change my mind. However, I digress.

Stopping at the Deli though is an inevitable delay. After all, no son in his mid-20’s would EVER contemplate walking out the door without making a stop for a hotdog, a polish dog, an ice cream, a soda, or whatever he felt he needed to tide him over between “second breakfast and elevenses.”

And this is where the problem started.

Walking around to find an empty table, there were only about 3 out of 20+ tables in use. I planned on going to the far end. Skirting the outer edge, a handful of kids almost ran me over. One of them pushed my cart out of his way as he held a small puppy in his arms. There was no parent with any of these children. The next few minutes involved one of the older kids on a pair of shoes that have roller wheels on the heels. None of these children were more than 8 or 9 years old.

The puppy let out a few squeals and squeaks as his holder squeezed him, almost dropped him, and then placed it off and on one of the tables. Did I forget to mention that these are the tables located in the Food Court?

My son brings some food and the couple sitting next to us makes several loud comments about the dog being in the food area while the little boy’s older brother continues to skate around the front of the store. Not once did he say anything to the workers or to the customers that he almost ran over. Incidentally, one of the managers stood at the front and never said a word to the boy even when he almost hit her at least once.

The children finally sat back down and a woman showed up with cups and food. The next conversation is not repeatable or printable in my estimation. Together, the mom and her children engaged in a rather foul conversation peppered liberally with vulgar swear words. The puppy just sat on the table and looked sad.

On our way out, I asked the cart-checking gentleman about the store policy regarding pets. He informed me politely that while he could not do anything about it, Sam’s Club has rules that clearly state pets are not permitted in the Food area. In fact, if you do not have a service animal, then the animal is not permitted in the store at all. I asked him why he could not and he replied that only management can say something, but only if they feel like doing so.

This brings me to the main point of my post.

Our society has degraded to the point of ridiculous foolishness. Rules and principles of decency are no longer upheld. The parents have no control of their children because they have no control over themselves. Parents, like the mother in question, have zero tolerance for anybody but themselves. Her attitude and potty mouth reflect a lack of respect for others including her own children. Hearing F-bombs from the lips of children, including one who was only three or four, is abominable.

The managers of the store refuse to say anything though because we live in a society where many do that which is right in their own eyes. If you confront a problem, you are liable to get cursed at or berated or maybe on a really bad day, you will be threatened with a lawsuit for daring to uphold the rules of the store.

However, the problem does not end there. Those who refuse to obey the easy rules or the common decency guidelines of life will eventually have no problem breaking bigger rules and even the law. Parents who think they are entitled to say and act however they want in public with zero regard for others is teaching their children to do the same and worse.

When I was growing up, if my siblings and I (at that age) had dared to be so disrespectful to others, at least half a dozen adults would have called us on the carpet, the manager would have been called to give us a good talking-to, and then we would have been disciplined when we arrived home for disrespect to others and for bringing disrespect to our parents.

One of the reasons that I hate shopping so much is not just because of the crass commercialism that inundates every aspect of the human mind and spirit. However, that is another reason that may just get a new blogpost soon.

The real reason I hate shopping is because I get sick and tired of seeing mamby-pamby, lazy parents being hit, mocked, or berated by children who have never been disciplined.

Part of the problem with the latest generation is that they have never learned the meaning of the word — NO!

We have taught our children through the years what we were taught as youngsters. When a child is told “NO”, it is their little spirit that is rebelling because it is what is in their hearts. When a child is 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and sometimes even older, they are not bringing any wisdom or coherent debate to the table when they are told “NO!” Further, when a child does not learn what “NO” means before they can walk and talk, then the parent will be in for a rough ride.

However, the reason why the latest generation does know the meaning of the word “NO” is because most of the Gen-X and Millennial generation that has given birth to the latest generation never learned what the word “NO” meant. They feel entitled. The world OWES them, and sadly, when the world delivers a hard lesson that nothing is owed, then the child/adult takes it out on those around them.

History will reveal that this is probably one of the saddest generations in modern existence. Niceties, pleasantries, and good manners are almost as extinct as a two-humped Bactrian camel.

Is it possible to turn this around? Yes, but it will take a long time. People will have to stop being afraid that they are going to offend everyone and anyone by what is said. Common decency still requires us to look out for others.

In fact, for being a so-called Christian nation, we fail miserably for Christ Himself gave two commands. First, love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and body. The second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself.

There is no third commandment to love yourself. That is a worldly philosophy that is driven by a selfish, worldview that no longer has God in view. An extension of the problem seen in the world today is the playing out of this humanistic philosophy. The world keeps telling you to love yourself more before you can do something for others. In turn, this destroys the responsibility each human has toward others.

To conclude, I was not upset at the children. I told my adult son that I felt sorry for the children for the way they were being raised. I told him that I was sad that their mother had no control over her own little children because she obviously had no control over her own life. As a selfish, self-centered individual, she is raising her offspring to be just as selfish or worse.

More to come…