Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Answer: $950. The Question?

$950.  The question: How much does it cost to mail enough clothing, books, and video equipment to France and China to survive for a year, finish your PhD in psychology, and shoot two music videos?  6 boxes to China; 2 boxes to France.  Enough for me to survive and thrive for over a year. 

I purchased insurance for each of the packages too.  I asked how likely the packages are to arrive in China.  She told me that as long as the packages are not to Mexico, Brazil, or Italy, they probably will not get lost and will arrive.  How interesting!  I always knew Italian trains were often late, but packages too?!  And she told me I needed to worry about ITALY, and NOT China?!  That is CRAZY!  But I’m happy to have paid a little extra for the insurance to make sure I have money for clothing, a new video camera, new books, etc should they not arrive.

Off to the airport now.  Phone is scheduled to be deactivated on Jan 7th.  And then, it’s just email, FB, and Skype: unless I happen to buy a disposable French phone.  I will look into that once I get over there.

I’m a bit chagrined with how much it cost to send everything.  I didn’t even plan for ‘shipping costs’ when I planned my budget.  And so, I had to charge it all to my credit card, so as not to subtract from my liquid assets.  Not a huge deal, but I wish I had considered this all when doing my initial planning…   I did get a book royalty check for about $180 today though, and that’s helpful.  Every penny counts, right?!

I got a phone call from Lori today!  Her voice and her effervescence just makes me smile from ear to ear whenever I hear it.   She is one of my bestest of friends and... the first girl I ever kissed.  And it was on stage.  In underwear.  Me in boxers.  She in a silk teddy.  Junior year of high school at the Eastern Slope Playhouse in North Conway, NY.  The play: Equus. I played Alan; she played Jill, my girlfriend.  We've been really great friends ever since.  And she is the BEST modern dancer.  Just incredible.  It was so nice of her to think of me.  I miss her.  Always!  She was all ready to come visit me in China until I told her the cost of airfare.  Yeah, I know, Lori!  I so wish I were a millionaire and could just buy plane tickets and cars and stuff for my friends.  That is GOING to be so cool when it happens one day!  One day soon, I'm sure of it!

Okay, I have a 12:20pm German lesson, and then off to the airport at 1pm.  Au revoir, Etats Unis!  A la prochaine!

Monday, December 30, 2013

T-minus 36 hours and counting...

Monday morning
December 30, 2013
I am still awake!  Haven't slept a wink.  I JUST finished all of my accounting and bookkeeping for 2012 in Quickbooks.  I couldn’t bear to leave without having a full and clear picture of my financial situation, and I also want to be able to get my tax info to my accountant with as little hassle as possible: I will have enough to worry myself with overseas.  Now I am ALL DONE.  I just need to wait for my W2’s from Legal Aid Society and my book royalty statements, and W2s from the Army. 

I’m actually in better financial shape than I thought.  I managed to save up a lot of money these last two years thanks to my brilliant idea of moving back home with mom and dad.  Many people look down on my for moving back home, but in the back of my mind, I knew that it would only be temporarily, and if I had to pay rent, I would have no savings.  Instead, I have a nice travel purse.  Sure, it’s often been a pain living with mom, cause she can be difficult at times (isn’t every mother difficult at times?), but clearly it was and has been worth it: I can afford to go on a three-month sojourn through Europe before starting my paid teaching job in China.  Awesomeness.

Now, I need to make sure that I have $2000 set aside that I don’t touch.  I need $2000 when I arrive in China so I can pay my first and last months’ rent, plus security, and get a phone.  And I need money for food too during that first month.  I only get paid once a month, and since I start work on the 17th of March, I won’t get my first paycheck until April.  So if I don’t save at least $2000 on the side, I’m in big trouble upon arriving in Shanghai.  And I’m stoked: even with $2000 put aside, I will still have enough to cover my food and travel costs in France and Europe.  If I go over, I have a few credit cards I can use.  My Discover balance is $3000 now though.  And I owe $650 on Capital One.  So I’m already going into the trip a LITTLE in debt, but the good news is that I probably won’t have to go any MORE in debt.  And starting in April, I can start paying off the cards, and rebuilding my savings accounts.  Though when I get a couple more coaching clients (www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com), I will be able to start paying off the credit cards even before I arrive in China.

Truly, whenever I finish my bookkeeping, I always feel SO great.  I say this over and over, but it’s SO nice to know how much money I DON’T have, haha!  But seriously, it’s a wonderful feeling to be on top of your finances.  And there’s a zenlike effect that the bookkeeping itself has on me.  I listen to Pandora (usually the Aly & AJ station, or an Avril Lavigne station, or some Pachelbel) and I transfer all the numbers from all of my bank and credit card statements, and voila, eventually out come the P&L Statements, the Balance sheets, etc.  See: the MBA in Finance sure comes in handy.  :)

Wow, just one more day.  Just one more day.  Just one more day.

I admit that I was thinking about my ex a bit today, and I do miss her, but the truth is: I’m moving on.  Moving Forward!  Doing this trip/move/adventure was the best decision I could have made, and I’m ready to put her into my past.  Ahhhh…

In fact, I have to admit that in many ways, her breaking up with me has turned out to be a blessing:

I would never have started taking hiphop and house and dancehall classes at Broadway Dance Center had she not broken up with me.  And now, I'm a pretty good dancer!  The other day I was dancing in Grand Central, on the main concourse, listening to 'Brave' by Sara Bareilles, and 'Pompeii' by Bastille, 'Accidentally in Love' by Counting Crows, and 'Everything's Gonna Be Alright' by Naughty by Nature.  And I was hip hop dancing up a storm, and people were gathering around and clapping.  These two cute British chicks asked if they could dance with me while their friends took photos.  I can't WAIT to find a dance school in France, and certainly in Shanghai!

b) I would never have probably gone on this trip in the first place if she hadn't left me.  And this trip is like manna from heaven.  I think it's going to be life changing and positively fantastic on so many levels.  Yippee!
c) Finally, I would never have started studying languages so intently otherwise.  I started learning German once she left in hopes of impressing her should she ever take me back.  It didn't work, but I got hooked, and the study of German blossomed into the study of 20 other languages as well.  And I am BLOWN AWAY with the capacity of the human brain.  I never in a million years would have believed that it would be possible to actually study 20+ languages simultaneously, actually make progress in each, and not get totally confused unless... I were actually doing it, living it, and seeing it happen right before my very eyes. 

So, as is always the case, every terrible trauma has a silver lining.  Just took my 18+ months to see it.  But I'm smiling now.  Moving on to the next adventurous phase of my life.  And excited beyond measure to see what the next few weeks, months, and years have in store! 

Thanks for keeping up with my adventures!  HOOAH!

Oh, and if you'd like a free 15-minute career, business, or life consultation with me to see if my coaching services may be able to help you kick some major butt in 2014... let me know.  Visit www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com for my contact info.  I'd love to chat with you further.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2 days and counting...

Just had a great Russian lesson.  Went over the four different ways to say “Whose”: Masc, Fem, Neuter, and Plural.  And how cool: my Russian teacher Natasha lives in Moscow and I didn’t know this, but the Transiberian Railway runs all the way from Moscow to Beijing!  I thought it was just Russia alone.  She and I both were talking about Mongolia, and how neither of us have been there.  So she proposed that we each take the Transiberian Railway and meet in Mongolia.  Wouldn’t that be an adventure.  She would take her family; I would get a group of friends from China.  The train runs from Russia through Mongolia and into China. 

Another fun fact I learned while looking at a map: the tips of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakstan, and China all intersect: China from the south; Russia from the north; Kazakstan from the west, and Mongolia from the east.  That would be a pretty wild meeting place haha.  Seriously, check it out: go to google maps and look.  I wonder why THAT is the intersection point of all four countries, i.e. what's the history behind those borders.  Gotta look into that.

I checked the train timetables here:  http://www.traintomongolia.com/trans-mongolian-train-timetable/   Very very interesting.  Though I notice that it apparently takes about 7 days from Moscow to Beijing.  That doesn’t seem very ‘express’.

I was on the transiberian express once, from Moscow to St. Petersburg.  Back at Franklin College in Switzerland.  During a class trip.  Spent the night in a sleeper car, which was pretty cool.  There was no murder.  Though perhaps that’s only on the Orient Express.  Hmmm… :)

I have to do my damn accounting now, for 2013.  I want to finish all my Quickbooks bookkeeping before I leave, so I can just send the stuff to David at www.ActorTax.com from China, without having to do the bookkeeping over there.  If you want a great tax guy, he's wonderful.  But I’m still stuck in April 2013, and have many more months to catch up on.  I really should be doing that, and not writing in this journal/blog.

I really hope to find time to work on my novels again soon. I’ve neglected them for the last few weeks.  I’m up to about 18,000 words in Soul S.T.A.S.I.S. and I need about another 30,000 to be considered ‘novel length’.  And I need to start doing the research for Shanghai’d, another new novel I am working on, about the crazy practice back in the day that birthed the term of the same name.  And ugh, more PhD work.  My goal is still to finish the entire dissertation and earn my PhD by the end of 2014, but I’m not yet sure if that will be possible.  Which reminds me, I need to email again to Kim (my dissertation advisor) about whether he received my latest research proposal draft.  It got signed off by my other two committee members, and now it’s time for the ‘scientific merit review’ process.  If I get through that, then it’s IRB time, and then awesomeness: I can actually begin the research subject recruitment process.

And the movie.  Still waiting to hear back from the US distributor.  We're so close to finalizing a deal, and I really hope it happens in January.  Time will tell.

Hard to believe I’m only going to be here for another two days.  This time, in 48 hours, it’s off to the airport.  Oh, did you know that they use the Cyrillic alphabet in Mongolia.  Another fun fact.  Ya know, for the next time you're a) in Mongolia, b) trying to impress a friend, or c) are on Jeopardy haha.  But this is yet another reason I’m stoked about learning Russian and Bulgarian: the Cyrillic alphabet has multiple uses.  Not just for Russian.

I’m still so sick.  I think I’m sick AGAIN.  A new sickness.  I think hanging out with Nicole did me in.  I went over to her house to help put together her daughter’s dollhouse for Christmas last week, and she was coughing.  Nicole.  And I think I got whatever she had.  Lovely Christmas gift, haha.  No good deed goes unpunished.

It’s raining out now.  Drizzling.  The sounds of the droplets landing here and there is nice.  Soothing.  Calming.  Nothing lasts forever, even cold December rain.  That's a play on a GNR song, for those who may not be up to snuff on 90s music culture.  

I still can’t believe I’m doing this.  France, yes.  That’s understandable.  But China?  That’s just CRAZY!  Everyone wants to go to France for a few months; but who goes to China?!  FOR A YEAR?!   It’s so rugged, and ‘out there’!  Japan, Korea: they somehow seem more tame.  China feels like the wild west to me.  As wild a place as Iraq was.  As Africa.  That safari I went on in South Africa.  Living almost with the lions, in the tents, with a protective fence along side.  I remember walking along the fence at night, pitch black, tress all around, feeling like I was in Jurassic Park.  Waiting (and secretly hoping) that a lion would roar out from behind the other side of the fence.  And I would wrestle it to the ground.  Alas, I just day dreamed like Walter Mitty, and ended up crawling back into my tent with no stories to tell.  Well, scratch that: I just told a story.  Haha.  Yay, I got a story out of it after all!  And yes, I ended up seeing lions the next day when we actually went walking around.  Inside.  With no fences.  Pretty wild.  No pun intended :)

I should also update and post my acting reel before I leave.  It is almost done.  I really should do that.  Maybe I will try to work on that later today.  I don’t think I have time to make it ‘perfect’, but hey, as I love to say, ‘good now is better than perfect never’.   I also need to head into the city today to see one of coaching clients before I leave.  I promised I would try to seem him twice in person before we switch over to Skype, and well, it's important to be a man of my word.

I also got nominated to be a part of this new thing at Fryeburg Academy: the hall of excellence.  That’s a nice honor, regardless whether I get picked.  Thanks to whomever nominated me!

Okay, may the force be with you all.  I’ve got a million and a half things to do.  I am sure you do too.   So stop reading already and go do them!  Yes, I'm talking to you Monroe!  And YOU!  READER!  Chop chop!  Get moving.  Do what you need to do. :)

Three Days Till New Years on an Airplane!

Okay, packing for a trip is hard enough but today has been a puzzle of the highest magnitude: trying to decide what to bring on the plane; what to send ahead of me to France; what to send directly to China; what to leave here.  I fly on Tuesday afternoon.

I went to FedEx first, and yikes, a 15lb box would cost upwards of $250.  I asked if they had a slow boat to china, but they laughed, and said no.  Humph.  Next stop: Post Office.  Still expensive, but better: 30lb box to China about $130.  I also asked them if they had a slow boat to China, and the woman did NOT laugh.  Cause apparently, there really did use to be a slow boat to China.  But it's gone.  GONE!  WHY!  Apparently the Post Office stopped shipping by boat a few years ago.  All international freight is by air now.  Humph.  Again!  I originally planned to bring a lot more books, but alas, it's cost prohibitive as we can see.  I sure do love my books!--and some are simply necessary, unfortunately: my language books; my psychology books for my PhD; etc.  Pain in the butt.  I can't find them anywhere else, and I hate reading on an Ipad or kindle, so... sucks to be me.

Anyway, today has been quite the accomplishment in itself: I have managed to consolidate everything into 3 large boxes and 3 small boxes to China, with most of my clothing for a year, plus my books and whatnot.  And 1 large box and 1 small box to France, with some clothing and books. 
And finally my necessities for the next two weeks, since it will take at least 7 - 12 days for the boxes to arrive in France.

I'm sending the China-bound boxes care of my Chinese Language School, Mandarin House.  They are being truly accommodating.  I'm SO stoked to take Chinese lessons three mornings/week when I arrive!

But alas, my adventure is first taking me to France.  Landing in Paris on the 1st.  Ha--gonna spend New Year's on an Iberian Airlines plane (Spanish).  I'm sure this will end up being the one and only time I actually fall sound asleep on a long flight, and at midnight, I'm gonna get woken up with, "Feliz Nuevos Anos!"  My Spanish isn't so great, but I think that's how you say HNY.

I bought my Eurorail pass today as well at www.eurail.com.  That's a dream come true.  I've always wanted to 'backpack around Europe' and now I'm gonna do it: $660 for 15 days of continuous rail travel, starting March 1st.  I'm gonna be teaching at the high school in France until Feb 28th (a full two months), and then I'm off on a two-week adventure throughout Europe, starting in, I expect, Oslo, Norway.  It only costs $55 to fly from France to Oslo, and then I'll start taking the trains, speaking different languages along the way (how fun!) until I eventually end up in Rome, staying with my friends Roberto and Helen for a few days until flying to Shanghai.  Direct flight from Rome to Shanghai.  Leaving in the evening and arriving the next day in the afternoon.   

I got a text from one of my coworkers at work today.  She told me that I inspired her.  That my decision to leave my job as a public defender and go after my dreams inspired her to reevaluate her life, and what she is doing with hers.  I've been getting a lot of these emails/texts lately.  Really makes me smile.  I'm proud and excited to be living my dreams, and proud and excited to be inspiring others to pursue theirs as well!

Oh, my phone: I have to figure out what to do about that.  When to shut it off.  Do I get a disposable in France for two months, or just stick with wifi Skype on my iphone?   I did buy my foreign plug adaptors today, for France, and for China.  One less thing to worry about.  I'm really excited that I'm 90% done with the planning; that in 3 days, I will be on the trip.  Flying to Paris.  Wow.  And I'm sure, at 30,000 feet, thinking, "OH NO, I FORGOT TO ________!"

Oh, speaking of Skype, I had an hour chat with my host family mother, Veronique, yesterday.  She's awesome.  I really like her.  Neither she or her husband, or her two daughters speak English, and so I'm pretty stoked: we spoke in French the entire time, and it's how it will be for an entire two months.  And wow, how my French has improved.  The conversation was easy, and we talked about jobs, the weather, the best way to get to Barcelona, arrival times, about our families and our futures, and huh, I'm pretty proud of myself.  All this self study these last 5 years has actually paid off: my French is infinitely better than it was the last time I stayed with a host family in 2005 (during my two-week leave from Iraq.  Go figure that while everyone else took their break from war to go home, I chose to live with a French family and study French.  Haha!  That's me in a nutshell.  Haha)

So I'll be landing in Paris, and immediately taking a train for two hours to Lyons to see my friend Eva.  I was originally going to meet my friend Maura (German chick who is in university in Netherlands) but alas, her schedule didn't work out.  I'm excited to see Eva.  She's French, and lives in a town called, "Vienne" which is close to Lyons.  See: I was originally going to be teaching in a school in northern France, and to save money, I bought my plane ticket before my school placement was confirmed.  But in the end, I was placed in a high school in southwestern France, near the Spanish border.  8 hours by train from Paris!  Oh mon dieu!  But it's working out fine, because I'll hang with Eva for a few days up in Lyons (a city I have never been to), and schedule permitting, she is going to drive me down to Castres--by car it's apparently only 4 hours.  Isn't she a total sweetheart?  Oui, Eva, c'est vrai!  Tu es VRAIMENT gentille!  So we shall see.  She's super cool, and even though she speaks English, she loves speaking only in French with me, and I love it.  So for the few days I'm with her, it's more French immersion!  And we Skype every few days and I love speaking in French with her.  And she looovvveeeesss my accent.  Cause I'm soooooooo adorable.  (wink).

But coupled with my adorableness is a little sickness still.  Slight runny nose.  Headache.  Stuffy head.  But much better than I was last week.  I'm hoping to be on the plane with a clear head and a non-sniffly nose! 

That's it for now.  I think I'm gonna go check out the movie "Walter Mitty" now, either with my mom, or alone: I want to see as many movies as I can before I leave, cause pretty soon, I won't be seeing many films in English, I'm sure...  I hope she comes: I won't be seeing her for quite a long time.  I won't be seeing anyone from home really, unless you people come visit me! :)  I really wanted to have a farewall 'concert/speaking gig' but it's been too rushed and harried and I haven't had the time to plan it.  Maybe I can try to do something on Monday evening in Manhattan, but I'm not sure if I can find a venue and promote it.  On verra.

My damn neck is still twitching.  War injury from 2005.  From the body armor I had to wear constantly.  Nerve damage.  A doc two weeks ago gave me Baclafen, a muscle relaxer, to reduce the spasms, but I'm not so sure it works.  Just makes me tired.  I guess it's just a casualty of war I have to continue to learn to deal with.  We all have our struggles, alas, do we not?  But on the bright side, my leg is almost 85% better, thanks to the great physical therapy I received at Performance PT in Greenwich, CT.  Kevin, I miss you my love!  Haha.  My therapist and I have a very special, close relationship.  Though I doubt he will read this blog, so seriously, HOW CLOSE OF A RELATIONSHIP IS IT!?  KEVIN, WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME!?  WHY DON'T YOU READ MY BLOG!  I'M ONLY WRITING THIS BLOG AS A WAY TO SHOW MY LOVE FOR YOU!  I MISS YOU!  TU ME MANQUE!!! TU ME MANQUE!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! I Just Quit My Job!

It’s true!  I quit my cushy job as a public defender!  Two weeks’ notice two weeks ago, and on New Years Eve I fly to France and then China.
See, it’s been a good two years (aside from the terrible 18-month post-relationship-breakup depression!) and I learned a great deal, but I’ve always been one to follow my hunches and tackle my dreams.  Well, I got this cool job offer a while back but for various reasons, it doesn’t start until 2015.  So I decided to take these next 14 months and do something REALLY cool; something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. 

And so… I’m going to France first, to teach English in a French high school near the Spanish border.  I arrive in Paris on January 1st.  I’ll be living with a French family and my hope is to take my advanced French to a true level of fluency.  In March, I’m flying to Oslo, Norway and with a eurorail pass, taking the train down through Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, and down through Venice, and into Lugano, Switzerland where I’ll be giving a talk at my alma mater, Franklin College.  And seeing some friends along the way. 
Then down to Rome, Italy to stay with my good friend Roberto for a few days, and then, a direct flight to Shanghai, China, where I will be living for a year: studying Chinese three days a week; teaching English five days a week; and along the way, learning Kung Fu, shooting two new music videos from my album, and finishing two new screenplays and two novels I’ve been writing. And hoping to score a new non-fiction book deal.  Boomshakalaka.

And I decided two things:

a)      I am going to share my adventures and thoughts with you here on this blog.  Everyone loved my book, “To Benning & Back” which chronicled my adventures in Army basic training in day by day stream-of-consciousness journal format, so I figure it might be nice to do that here too: but on a public real-time blog.  Whoah!  Groundbreaking craziness!  But seriously, everyone always tells me that my life should be a reality show, so hey, why not a reality show in words?  As much as I can, I hope to share my life with you: the trials, the joys, the sorrows, the vindications, while protecting the innocent at all times. J  So I hope you will be sure to visit this website often: www.WhatIsMonroeDoingThisWeek.com  I think you will find it fun, funny, amusing, enlightening, and thoroughly enjoyable.  Or your money back!  (How does that work with a free blog?)

b)      I also relaunched my life, career, and business coaching business, under a new name: www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com  Awesome name, right?!  Of course, I still offer Unstoppable Artists Coaching under this new banner, but now also Time Zen Coaching; Guerrilla Networking Coaching; and General Life & Business Coaching, all based on my various books I have written, which you can find on Amazon/BN.  Check out the website www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com and see how I may be able to help you or a friend!  It’s amazing how Skype has revolutionized the world: I can keep in touch with friends overseas, and now, run a worldwide coaching business while I am traveling that very same world.  Romp on!
So the truth?  I’m a bit nervous.  About it all.  Why wouldn’t I be?  It was totally scary quitting my job, particularly since I will be getting paid far less in China, and also because so many of my law school buddies are still out of work.  But that’s always been me: never happy with security; always pushing the envelope and taking risks.  But yes, IT IS SCARY!  I’m probably not going to be back home for 15 months.  I’m leaving everything I know!  At the same time, it’s exhilarating.  I love travel.  I love foreign languages (I am studying 22 at the present moment, no joke).  And I have always wanted to work in France, and in China.  And voila, it’s happening.

I’m reading this great book now that my friend Robert Riger (Head guy at Pimsleur Language Products, Simon & Schuster) gave to me called, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris” by David McCullough and a few of the quotations jumped out at me.  See, in the 1830s, there was a huge exodus of Americans to Paris, always via tall ships and voyages lasting six weeks minimum on the rolling seas.  I feel as these people did.  Washington Irving wrote of his first trip across:
“But a wide sea voyage severs us at once.  It makes us conscious of being cast loose from the secure anchorage of settled life, and sent adrift upon a doubtful world.  It interposes a gulf not merely imaginary, but real, between us and our homes--a gulf subjected to tempest and fear and uncertainty, rendering distance palpable, and return precarious.”

Although I am traveling by plane, the distance is the very same.  My job at Legal Aid Society ‘the secure anchorage of settled life’.  And the doubtful world: the vast continents of Europe and Asia that await me in this next year.
Charles Sumner, the once US Senator, wrote:

“A smacking breeze has sprung up, and we shall part this company soon; and then for the Atlantic!  Farewell then, my friends, my pursuits, my home, my country!  Each bellying wave on its rough crest carries me away.  The rocking vessel impedes my pen.  And now, as my head begins to slightly to reel, my imagination entertains the glorious prospects before me…”
And so too am I leaving my friends, my family, my home, my country.  Fortuitously perhaps, I don’t speak to my sisters anymore, and my ex is totally out of the picture, and my best friends all live across the country and the globe anyway (or in the city), so leaving is not as painful as I thought it might be.  For a while I thought I met this girl who would have made leaving really hard, but that didn’t work out, and thanks for that!  One thing that saddens me is that my dad is 92 years old (me 36) and I fear he might move on while I’m away.  But ya know, I thought the same thing in 1997 when I went to Switzerland for college, and when I got home, he was still alive and kicking—I’m sure the same will happen now.  He’s a hardy son of a bitch, and I hope I’m as virile as he is when I am 92. J  He was in Shanghai himself during World War II--he stayed at the Broadway Mansions hotel for four months, a hotel which is still standing!  I highly doubt he will fly over to see me, but at the very least, I'm gonna stay in that hotel one night, just as he did back in the day. :)

And that ‘rocking vessel’ Sumner talks about?  The turbulent aircraft.  Makes me smile, because I remember back in Officer Candidate School, with the US Army, I was selected to be a chopper pilot.  Only the best of the best get picked for flight school, and I was one of them.  And for a week, I was on top of the world.  I WAS GONNA BE MAVERICK BABY!  TOP GUN CHOPPER JOCK!  And then mom says, “Um, Monroe, you get airsick.”  Haha.  Damn, my armpits are sweating like crazy now!  Damn antiperspirant not working one iota.  Wait one sec: need to change my shirt.

Okay, anyway, when she said that, she struck a chord.  Today, I take Dramamine before every flight and I do fine.  But I always dreaded the two-hour helicopter missions in Iraq, and particularly when the bay doors were closed, and when we were over hostile territory: the chopper had to swerve a lot to avoid getting hit by possible antiaircraft rockets/RPGs.  But I am very proud of myself: I didn’t throw up once in Iraq!  Diarhhea: that’s another story. ;)
And finally Nathaniel Willis, as if speaking from my own mouth, wrote:

“The dream of my lifetime was about to be realized.  I was bound for France.”
As am I!  I’m super thrilled.  Super stoked.  Excited, excited, excited!  In a year, I will return to New York, speaking even better French; and NO WAY!—speaking, reading, writing, and understanding Mandarin Chinese!  A NY attorney with an MBA and who speaks Mandarin?  Sounds pretty employable to me!  And I will have lived in virtually every part of the globe: The New World, The Old; The Middle East; and Asia.  And with my continuing language studies with Living Language (Portuguese, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew, and Arabic); Pimsleur (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Norwegian, Lithuanian, Swahili, and Turkish), Babbel (Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Danish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, Turkish, and Spanish), and FSI (German, French, Chinese, and Bulgarian), I can honestly say that in three years, I WILL and AM GOING to speak at least 20 foreign languages at a conversational level.  Mark my words!  And check in with me in 2017. J 

P.S. if you like learning languages, buy the platinum language sets from Living Language at Amazon or www.LivingLanguage.com; email to www.Babbel.com and tell them you want all languages for a year and you will get a HUGE (I mean HUGE!) discount; go to www.PimsleurDigital.com and download amazing language products right to your iPhone / iPad; and for free, www.fsi-language-courses.com, direct from the US State Department, free thanks to public domain.
Well, that’s my update to you and a preview of what you can expect over the next year.  As always, I heartily encourage you to go kick some major ass, get OFF your ass, and stop being lazy.  You KNOW you are being lazy about something so just stop procrastinating already! 

P.S. - You can also sign up to receive direct updates via email.  Just visit www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com and sign up to my email list on the contact page.

P.P.S. - Merry Christmas to you!  I'm an unapologetic Christian, and today (and this entire holiday) is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  So there!  Happy birthday Jesus!  (that's HAYTHOOTH--I'm practicing my Spanish accent for my visit to BarTHHHHelona, haha) And if you want to read a TRULY inspiring book, read Joel Osteen's new one, "Break Out".  It should be your battle cry book for 2014.

Friday, March 01, 2013

New Book & Come See Me Speak on Monday!

Hey Awesome Person You!  

THREE QUICK REMINDERS  (and the third one is an inspirational kick in the pants just for you):  

a) NEW BOOK: Yay! My new book is now available everywhere. It's called "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog - Motivation & Inspiration for your Journey to the Top" by Monroe Mann & Lou Bortone. If you want to check it out on Amazon, just go to Amazon, and type in the title. Enjoy!  

b) COME SEE ME SPEAK MONDAY: "Agents, Managers, & Entertainment Attorneys-- What the heck do they do?" There are about 20 FREE seats left in the 250 seat auditorium at the New York County Lawyer's Association in Manhattan for this special event. I am part of an inspirational 5-person panel kicking off at 7PM, this Monday, March 4th with after party and DANCING following. Yeah! You MUST RSVP here: http://www.nycla.org/index.cfm?section=Calendar&page=event_Detail&itemID=3226&dateID=20130304   Copy that link, paste it, and then click on 'register' at the end of the first paragraph (it's small, but it's there). If anyone wants to come at last minute and hasn't registered, text me: 646-764-1764 and I will see if I can give you one of my reserved seats.  

c) GET OFF YOUR ASS! Take some time this weekend to stop watching tv; stop playing video games; stop taking naps; and START: kicking ass. Seriously, we all have dreams. Some of us do something with them; others just let them languish in our brains as our souls slowly rot. Take some time to revise (or write) your 5-year plan--yes, write it down--on all aspects of your life: money, love, career, education, health, etc. I will be doing it too. And then, figure out what you can do this weekend to get started on that path to glory. And then DO IT! DO SOME MAJOR STUFF THIS WEEKEND DAMNIT! Remember: it's the unreasonable man who changes the world; not the one who follows the rules. Game on.  

Oh, one last thing: you guys should consider taking hip hop and house dance classes---it is SO much fun. Plus, tap, contemporary, and ballet. I take classes every Thursday night and Sunday afternoon/night at Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan. I am actually becoming a really good club dancer, and it's so thrilling! Plus, great exercise, and you get to meet some really great friends in the classes. Check it out: www.broadwaydancecenter.com Only $18 for each 90-minute drop-in class. I hope to see you in class (and in the clubs) with me soon! I'll be at Hang Time down on Mercer street this Sunday night.  

ROMP ON! Meet you at the top!  and thanks for your continuing support.  

-Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA, Me Facebook me. :)  

P.S. - FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO YOUR FRIENDS  Sign up to receive these emails at www.rahrahk.com

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Your 2013 To-Do List -- Monroe Mann Style

After a 7-month hiatus, I'm back. :)  Note: This newsletter is LONG.  But I promise you: read the whole thing (print it out if you can) and you will be extremely glad you did.  It will inspire you, motivate you, give you clearer direction about your life, and get you thinking bigger than you have ever thought before.  That, I can guarantee.
-Extra! Extra!
-Sharing the Vibe
-My 2013 To-Do List (To inspire you)
-YOUR 2013 To-Do List (to accomplish, duh!)
-Parting Words

EXTRA EXTRA: Before I get to your 2013 To-Do list: Wanna learn how to produce your own projects... for FREE? 
Well, now you can: on YouTube!  If you missed your chance to see me speak and play music at SAG/AFTRA this past June on the topic of "How to Produce Your Own Projects" (movies, books, shows, CDs, etc) fret not, cause I had the entire 2-hour seminar recorded (yup yup!) and ladies and gents, the link is live: http://www.youtube.com/monroemann  Get inspired right now while learning the ten simple steps to producing your own projects (which are the same steps my team and I used to produce our feature film, "You Can't Kill Stephen King") and catch an exclusive live performance of my awesomely inspiring and catchy hit song (no joke, I'm apparently becoming sorta known in Canada), "The Sun Is Always Shining Somewhere" from my album, "Get Off Your Ass" at the same time.  Oh, and please tell your friends about this free online seminar! No strings attached. :)


So AGAIN, I Say Wassup roe!
Before I get to your 2013 New Year's Resolutions (yep, prepare for some major inspiration!), I first wanted to prep you by giving you a quick (and oh so exciting) update on what's been going on in my life these last 12 months, with a 'lesson for you' after each update.  Remember, I'm not bragging--I'm "sharing the vibe".  Why am I sharing the vibe?  In hopes of inspiring YOU to kick some major ass in 2013, of course. All it takes is a dream and some determination and you can make this next year the most productive of your LIFE.
a) HUGE MOVIE UPDATE--I cannot believe that after over 12 years in this unforgiving business (of show), a project of mine is officially and undeniably taking off like wild fire--and around the world!  "You Can't Kill Stephen King" (which I co-wrote, co-produced, co-directed, and in which I play one of the two leading roles) has now officially been sold in nine countries (England, Ireland, & Scotland--via Anchor Bay--Japan, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, and South Korea), and is being considered by a handful more.  Plus, a U.S. distribution deal is in active negotiation.  In all territories, the film will be released in 2013.  While it probably will not be a theatrical release (in theaters), you will be able to watch it on all other platforms, whether it's on television, on demand, on cable, on DVD, on Netflix, on Redbox, or in bix box stories like Walmart, etc---one way or another, you're going to be able to see our film in 2013!  And quite possibly in your native language. :)  And how nice: the distributors--NOT US!--are going to be the ones promoting it!  That's a nice change, haha.  If you haven't already, please check out the hilarious trailer (yes it is hilarious, so everyone tells us) at www.YouTube.com/CantKillKing And if you're on Facebook, like our page! 
(Lesson for you: you can do the impossible.  It just may take you over 12 years.  How important is success to you--THAT is the question.)

b) THE SUN IS ALWAYS SHINING SOMEWHERE A HIT IN CANADA--I am stoked to report that the music video for my song, "The Sun Is Always Shining Somewhere" has been picked up by a whole slough of outlets, including the famous Much Music, which is Canada's version of MTV.  It's pretty awesome.  Just go to their main page at www.MuchMusic.com and in the search box, pop in my name.  And voila, my very own page comes up, and there's even a news section, haha. And it's a real honor: it's not like you can just 'add yourself' to the Much Music lineup; you have to get picked.  And I was.  And I'm smiling ear-to-ear!  If you like the song, there is a free download link at the bottom of this email.  Or, you can go to iTunes and pay $.99.  I prefer the latter, but I encourage the first. :) 
(Lesson for you: if you are passionate about something, and you continue your drive for success, you just may start to get noticed!)

TWO MORE MUSIC VIDEOS/MY ALBUM -- If you like THAT music video, you can also see the video for my song, "Life is Tough" which is also online, plus, I'm excited to report that I am almost done shooting and editing the HILARIOUS music video for my song, "Hollywood Girls"--which too is from my album, "Get Off Your Ass".  Quick note: the album is half music, and half motivational speaking (I call it 'rah rahk', and well, it rocks.  If you want to truly be inspired, go to iTunes and download the entire album!

(Lesson for you: keep pushing and creating.  Believe it or not, "The Firm" was not John Grisham's first novel.  The Pelican Brief was.  But no one wanted the Pelican Brief.  He kept writing.  The Firm took off.  Keep throwing things at the wall: something is bound to stick eventually.)
d) ROMANTIC SUICIDE SELLING QUITE WELL & RELATIONSHIP SUICIDE COMING SOON -- Many of you know I wrote and published a new book in 2012, called, "Romantic Suicide - The 45 Unbreakable Rules of Dating".  It's a practical inspirational book on what to do and not do during the first few weeks and months of a relationship.  It works.  Well, only under two circumstances: a) if you follow the rules, and b) if you are not officially boyfriend/girlfriend.  I failed to follow the rules, and I falied to realize that my relationship had transitioned into one of boyfriend/girlfriend.  As a result, 2012 was the worst year of my life haha.  I didn't follow my own rules, and I didn't realize that the love of my life had become my girlfriend.  So silly foolish me: I lost her, and I was devastated.  And so, I am now hard at work on my SECOND romantic self-help book, this time tentatively entitled, "Relationship Suicide -- the 45 Unbreakable Rules of Long-Term Dating".  Some of the new rules include: neglect her at your own peril; recognize when you have become a 'couple' because if you don't, you're gonna mess everything up; stop dating other people when you know she's the one; don't be afraid to commit; constantly remind her how much you care about her; make her your priority (not your job or career); and this list goes on and on.  To many these may be obvious, but to someone who has never been in a relationship before, these are solid gold nuggest that can save your relationship, and great reminders for when you find your dream girl or guy.  I am certainly never going to make these same mistakes again.  I hope. :)  Check out "Romantic Suicide" here:
(Lesson for you: we all make mistakes.  However, only some of us truly learn from them.  The past is past.  We can't change it.  But we CAN do a post-mortem and resolve to never make the same mistakes again.  Make 2013 the year of never making 2012 mistakes again.)
e) SUPER CATCHY NEW SONG: LONELY AT THE TOP -- As much as I wish I could turn back time and save my relationship with the one girl I ever truly loved (Her name--sigh--is Louisa Reimers), I can't.  But thankfully, not all was lost, and I turned that pain into a song called "Lonely at the Top": www.YouTube.com/monroemann.  You see, I have a feeling that I will look back on 2012 as the year when all my dreams began to come true and at the same time, the year I lost the dream girl I had been seeking my whole life.  That's why I called the song, "Lonely at the Top".  It's a super catchy upbeat song, partly inspired by Taylor Swift (you'll see when you listen to it), and it neatly sums up these last 365 days quite (I was going to say nicely, but I think sadly and regrettably are better words to describe it haha).  I really hope you like it.  And I think anyone who has ever experienced some kind of success (that means YOU) will readily relate to what I'm singing about.  If you like it, tell your friends.  P.S. - This is one of 13 love songs I have written, and they are currently being compiled for my next motivational rah rahk CD, entitled, "Don't Fall in Love".  But lest you think I am jaded, nah.  I just submitted my audition DVD for the tv show, "The Bachelor".  I'm gonna find my true dream girl one way or another!  P.S. - Create your own "Monroe Mann radio station" at: http://www.jango.com and listen to Monroe Mann right alongside Dave Matthews, Michael Buble, and your other favorite artists.  Just type in my name to get started!

(Lesson for you: everything has a tradeoff.  Weigh your decision carefully.  Wargame every possible result of a big decision before you make it.  Otherwise, you may be blindsided by the ambush from the side...)

-- As many of you know, I have been pursuing my PhD in psychology for the last three years through the amazing school known as Capella University.  I am nearly done with my coursework, and after many months of trying to figure out my dissertation topic, I have finally settled on one.  Completely inspired by my breakup with my ex--absolutely the most devastating event that has ever happened to me in my life, and yes, far far worse than combat in Iraq--my dissertation will be a grounded theory research study seeking the answer to the following question: "What is the process of enduring and overcoming a broken heart?"  I want to understand why my ex leaving me spiraled me into the worst depression of my life.  I want to understand why I am STILL suffering from this.  I want to understand why some people get over someone in weeks, and why others (like me) take months or years to get over someone.  And ultimatekly, I want to figure out what the absolute best coping methods are.  For example, some say that breaking all contact is the best way to get over someone, and yet others say that keeping some hope alive is a more gradual withdrawal process.  I aim to find out as much as I can about this phenemenon by interviewing about 40 - 50 research subjects over a period of time and after analyzing the data via open coding, axial coding, and selective coding, synthesize it all together into a new scientific theory the world has never before seen (which is in fact the very purpose of a doctoral dissertation in psychology).  I head down to Georgia at the end of the month for my final five-day colloquium with Capella University to refine my research topic, and officially start my dissertation research in June.  Giddyup!  Some of the topics I will be researching and addressing include: attachment, co-dependency, depression, anxiety, commitment phobia, narcissism, loneliness, happiness, life purpose, suicide, and anti-depressants.
(Lesson for you: NEVER STOP LEARNING!  Commit to going back to school this year, whether it's a dance class once a week, or a full-blown university---NEVER STOP LEARNING!)
g) MY INSPIRATIONAL COLLECTION OF MOTIVATIONAL BOOKS FOR YOU -- I'm super stoked to report that my other books are still selling really well, and I'm pretty sure it's for one reason only: they really work. They are really inspiring.  They are really worth reading.  If you want to learn how to get 96 hours of productivity out of each 24-hour day, and are ready to tackle 2013 with a vengeance, check out Time Zen.  If you want to learn how to attract the very people you want to meet, check out Guerrilla Networking.  If you feel like an underdog and want to be inspired by the best 'bathroom book' ever written, check out Battle Cries for the Underdog.  And for those in showbiz, if you haven't yet read my bestseller The Theatrical Juggernaut - The Psyche of the Star, DO SO ASAP!  And yes, Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog is coming out in 2013.  Finally.   Check 'em out at www.amazon.com and www.bn.com.

(Lesson for you: write your damn book already.  We all have at least one in us.  Really, it's NOT that hard.  I got a D in Senior English in High School.  Look at me now baby!  Step one: come up with a tentative tiitle and a tentative table of contents.  It should take less than 20 minutes.  GO.)

h) RECEIVED MY LLM -- Oh, I earned another degree this year.  A masters of laws from Pace Law School in Commercial Real Estate Transactions.  Boom shakalaka. And no, NOT BRAGGING.  Remember: just sharing the inspirational vibe baby!

(Lesson for you: if you want to go back to school, I PROMISE you, you can.  Just stop coming up with excuses.  And lack of money is not an excuse.)

i) SEVEN FOREIGN LANGUAGES -- If you are my friend on Facebook, you may know that I have been voraciously studying seven foreign languages this year: French and Italian (which I already speak very well, but can always improve); German (at a basic level now); and beginner Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Arabic.  And yes, I can actually have (and understand) basic conversations at the Chinese restaurant, at my hip hop and tap classes at Broadway Dance Center with my attractive Japanese classmates, on the subway platform with the inevitable Spanish speaker, and with the guy in court who hails from Saudia Arabia.  Pretty exciting, and I owe it all to two things: a) my discipline, yes, and b) www.livinglanguage.com  I have tried Rosetta Stone.  I have tried Pimsleur.  I have tried FSI.  I have tried them all.  Living Language is the best, and they are SO afforable.  I recommend the Platinum program.  P.S. - If you're not my friend on Facebook, friend me!

(Lesson for you: Learn a foreign language this year.  Learn it well.  Why?  Because it will make you cultured.  Interesting.  And you'll put a huge smile on a native speaker's face when they realize you speak their language.  Most importantly: it's fun!)

j) OH YEAH, MY JOB --I know it's hard for a lot of people to believe, but I actually have a full-time job on top of all this.  I'm a public defender (attorney) , and I work for the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, representing in court those accused of felonies who can't afford an attorney.  It's a great job, one that I am proud and honored to be able to do, and I have learned so much this year about our criminal justice system.  Fascinating is an understatement.  Now, I've had this job for all of 2012, Monday - Friday.  And despite having this full-time job, I was still able to accomplish quite a bit this year.  So no, you do NOT need 'more time'; instead, you simply need to learn how to better use the time you DO have.  How?  Read my book, "Time Zen".  You laugh, but I'm serious! :)  Or call me up or email me and I'll become your time management coach and get your 2013 on track.

(Lesson for you: do NOT tell me you don't have time because you have a full-time job.  So many people gave me that excuse in the years before 2012, and I thought maybe they were right.  I thought: maybe the only reason I get so much done is because I work for myself.  But in 2012, I got my first true full-time job working for someone else (not counting the Army, and not counting lifeguarding over the summer), and guess what: I STILL made things happen, and STILL made my dreams come true.  Enough bullsh**.  Get off you ass and stop being lazy.)
k) AND A BUNCH OF OTHER STUFF.  I also had three major surgeries this year: 1) meniscus repair of my left knee; 2) tendon fixing in my right hand; and 3) a procedure in my left eye.  Each of them put me out of commission for quite a while.  I still got things done, and in fact, passed the most rigorous physical fitness test of my life this past November.  No excuses people.  I also went skydiving 6 times this past summer, and on the last two times, jumped out from 13,000 feet with my own parachute.  Pretty wild.  Finally, I also got interviewed by Fast Company (another dream of mine come true) and you can read the article about me, Johnny Cash, and Guerrilla Networking right here: http://www.fastcompany.com/1838045/with-guerrilla-networking-a-little-monkey-business-will-get-you-noticed
(Lesson for you: even a surgery shouldn't be an reason why you don't get things done this year.  And regarding skydiving: really, what's the worst that could happen? lol)

MY 2013 TO-DO LIST -- WHY READ THIS?  You want to read this because? Because I have big plans for 2013, AND I WANT YOU THINKING BIG TOO!  If 2012 is any indication, I am probably going to accomplish most of these tasks... AND I WANT YOU TO ACCOMPLISH BIG THINGS TOO.  Here is a list of just some of the things I plan to accomplish this year, to get YOU thinking big.  Also, when you share your strives publicly (not goals, see below) with the world, you create accountability.  So I am about to share my 2013 strives with the over 4000 people on my email list, and infinitely more when I post this on the internet.  I hope you will do the same with your 2013 strives, with as many people as you can. 
Here's my (Monroe Mann's) partial to-do list for 2013.  You ready?

1) Finish my two new screenplays called, "Outtakes" and "Operation: Jessica Simpson"
2) Finish rough drafts of my two novels, "Soul S.T.A.S.I.S." and "Identity Crisis"
3) Publish my new books, "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog" (with co-author Lou Bortone) and "Relationship Suicide"
4) Finish and release the music video for my song, "Hollywood Girls" and shoot the videos for "Look Around", "Get Off Your Ass" and "The Perfect Girl"
5) Continue to promote and sell my/our movie "You Can't Kill Stephen King" to distributors around the world
6) Become a PADI SCUBA Divemaster Instructor
7) Became an A-level certified Skydiver
8) Completely pay off my last and final credit card balance
9) Learn how to dogsled (yeah with dogs!) and cross-country ski across the Minnesota ice fields while living outside in sub-zero temperatures while living off the land for a week with fellow combat veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars (already booked baby, and paid for by anonymous donors for vets via Outward Bound!)
10) Start my PhD dissertation
11) Begin recording my new motivational/music album, "Don't Fall in Love"
12) Become irrefutably fluent in French and Italian; reach the advanced level with German; reach the intermediate level with Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Spanish; and learn to speak basic Portuguese (Spring 2013) and Russian (Summer 2013). 
14) Finally learn how to play Piano
15) Surf Hawaii's North Shore
16) Move from 'basic' tap and hip hop dancer to 'intermediate'
17) Make some major (particular) career moves (can't tell you right now)
18) Learn how to make relationships (and not accomplishments) the primary focus of my life this year, and from my life henceforth
19) Find the love of my life, and this time, not make the same mistakes I made in 2012.
20) Make sure that 2013 is ten times better than 2012 emotionally, cause emotionally, 2012 (for me) was a total disaster



Prepare yourself, cause things are about to get intense.

1) GET IN THE RIGHT MINDSET: First off, last year I read two things on December 31st.  My horoscope, and this article in some newspaper. 

So to begin with, I am going to share these two bits of wisdom, for you to ponder as you delve into 2013.

a) My horoscope (I'm a scorpio, fyi): "The only thing standing between you and a certain very desirable reality is the occasional mental interruption of the false thought that you were not meant to have what you really want out of life."

b) The article excerpt: "So far, my strategy of being more adventurous was producing mixed results.  My life seemed richer and more interesting--but it also involved a lot more groaning, clutching my sides, and intermittently praying for death.  My advice for the coming year is that before you say no to an adventure, make sure it's you talking and the woodchuck that bend the front fork of your motorcycle.  You won't enjoy every new adventure, but I promise that you will enjoy being the person who said yes."

The lesson here?  Stop thinking small.  Stop being pessimistic.  Stop predicting doom.  And most importantly: take the chance.  You have GOT to take the chance.  Otherwise, you're going to be in the same place 365 days from now, that you are right now.  Not cool.  

2. STOP BEING LAZY AND STOP COMING UP WITH EXCUSES: Seriously, THIS is why I get more done than anyone else I know: a) I refuse to come up with excuses, and b) I get off my ass every day and get stuff done.  Every day is a dream day.  In other words, you need to be working EVERY DAY to make your dreams come true.  I'm not gonna become fluent in Chinese, become a certified skydiver, finish two screenplays, and complete my dissertation by squandering my time.  GET OFF YOUR ASS YOU LAZY BUM!  Seriously, look in the mirror and ask yourself: "Do I respect my dreams, or do I take orders from lethargy and short-term pain?"  Choose your answer wisely.
3. FIGURE OUT YOUR TEN-YEAR PLAN: If that freaks you out, do your five or three year plan.  Just figure out where you want and NEED to be in the future.  Write it down.  Be specific.  THINK BIG.  Be outrageous.  Cause if you play it safe, you're gonna fall prey to Parkinson's Law (google it).  You need to put so much on your agenda that you feel a bit antsy and nervous.  Cause THAT is what gets you off your ass.  Bottom line: write out your long-term plan.  Go up and read my 2013 to-do list again.  You might notice something about it: all of the tasks are derived from my ten-year plan.  For example, the 'end' is not to write two new screenplays.  The 'end' is to take my success from the Stephen King film to raise money for two new screenplays and to make them even more successful than this current film.  The end is not the screenplays.  The screenplays are a MEANS to the end.  Get it?  For more info on your ten-year plan, buy my book, "Time Zen" which goes into this in far more detail.  Or call me or email me!
4. REMEMBER THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRIVES AND GOALS: I never liked the idea of goals.  Why?  Because they are inflexible deadlines.  "My goal is to lose ten pounds in two months."  Well guess what?  What happens when you don't?  You feel terrible right?  My philosophy is different.  Your goal needs to be the end result.  The end result, that's it.  For example: Lose 10 pounds.  There is NO time associated with completion.  Next, you have what I call 'strives'.  My STRIVE is to lose 10 lbs in two months.  It's a strive because you are merely 'striving' for it.  If it takes you a little longer, no problem.  If it is completed sooner, great, no biggie.  A strive is FLEXIBLE.  So with your 2013 to-do list, don't worry if you don't get everything done by December 31st.  Just STRIVE to.  And earnestly do your best.  A little each day.  And I promise you'll be surprised with how much you have accomplished by the end of the year.  Remember the difference between strives and goals.  Always.  And again, if you want more specifics on this, buy my book, "Time Zen"--you will love it!
5. REMEMBER THAT IT'S REALLY HARD TO QUIT ANYTHING COLD TURKEY. Remember that you can't quit anything cold-turkey very easily.  If you do, typically, this results in relapses.  So make BIG GOALS, and smaller but incrementally bigger strives.  For example, don't start off working out three times a week for an hour.  How about just commit to once a week for 30 minutes.  Much easier right?  And don't commit to completely quitting smoking: try cutting the number of cigarettes by ¼ each month.  Get it?  And instead of deciding you are going to write a screenplay, how about for starters just write out a one-page synopsis of the story.  Making sense? 

6. PUSH HARD FOR SUCCESS, BUT DO NOT SACRIFICE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS IN THE PROCESS. -- I made a monster-sized mistake this year, and neglected the one thing that truly mattered to me: my girlfriend. While I am incredibly proud of my accomplishments, I am also mad at myself for letting the movie, my job, and my ego get in the way of what truly mattered to me.  I put my girlfriend in the number 4 slot.  She should have been in the number 1 slot.  Or at the very least, tied for 1st place with my top projects.  Caveat: I see too many people use the 'my relationship is my top priority' as an excuse for failure in other parts of their life.  For instance, "I'm SO happy that I have my husband and two kids, and even though I wanted to become a doctor, I wouldn't trade my family for anything."  Um, why do you need to trade anything?  Do both dammit!  Figure out how to make your family AND your career equally important to your well-being.  I screwed up, yes.  But I also learned from my mistakes.  And I assure you all, very soon I will not only be celebrating my dreams coming true, but also celebrating those dreams coming true with the love of my life.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  Same thing with friendships.  Meet you at the top, WITH your friends, family, and significant other.  How do you like them apples?  I like them very much.

7. DON'T BE SCARED TO COMMIT TO SOMEONE OR SOMETHING.  -- Note that this applies not just to romantic relationships, but also friendships, and even jobs, opportunities, and whatnot.  The major reason people (myself included) have trouble committing to things/people/situations is because they fear making a mistake; they fear going down the wrong road; they fear making a decision from which they can never turn back; they fear getting STUCK in a 'prison-like' situation that eats at their soul.  But something I realized this past year is that you can turn back on almost any decision.  For example, if you sign an employment contract, people seem to think they can't quit.  But you can: you just need to be ready to deal with breach of contract issues.  If you agree to commit to a significant other, people seem to think they are 'stuck' if it doesn't work out.  But they can: you can break up with the person if it doesn't work out.  And people seem to think if you commit to one field, you have to stay in it for the rest of your life.  But you don't: just go back to school, retrain, move into a new field.  So go ahead and take a chance by committing to something that scares you.  If it doesn't work out, there's always a way out.  And hey, maybe it WILL work out.

8. DON'T BE SCARED TO ASK FOR HELP.  Too many people think asking for help is a sign of weakness.  I consider it a sign of strength, because it shows how humble your ego.  People who don't ask for help are letting their ego get in the way.  "I want to be independent!" they cry!  "I pride myself in my independence!"  Bullshit.  No one is independent.  If you live in an apartment and don't 'depend' on your parents, you're dependant on your landlord to keep the building safe.  If you walk everywhere and don't 'depend' on any vehicle, then you're dependant on your legs.  If you only use cash and don't 'depend' on the banks, you're still dependant on your ability to not misplace your money.  Have I asked for help this year?  Yup: the movie couldn't have been sold without the help of an agent.  My emotional turmoil this past year could not have been tempered without my asking for help from a psychologist and psychiatrist.  My student loan for my PhD could not have been approved without asking my mother to co-sign the loan.  See, we all need to ask for help sometime.  I have no shame in it.  Neither should you.  None of us is as confident and 'independent' as we'd like others to believe.  We are all dependent on someone or something, so get off your high horse and realize you're not perfect and you're not all that independent and bottom line: what's more important: your success or keeping up appearances?  I have no desire to keep up appearances, and couldn't care less what ANY of you think about me.  Sure, I hope you like me, but if not, I'll survive.  Most importantly, I'm not ashamed to ask you (or anyone) for help if it will help me on my life's journey in some way.  Oh by the way, here's a P.S. - I live at home with my parents.  Why?  Because success is more important to me than keeping up appearances.  It's less expensive, I can save the $1400/month I would be spending on rent, and guess what: I probably have more money in savings right now than 80% of you.  How do I know?  Because 80% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings.  Sad, right?  Bottom line: I learned a lot from my bankruptcy (oh, did you not know that either?  Yeah, I declared bankruptcy in 2004 before I deployed to Iraq.)  And it'll never happen again.  And for that reason, I'm not ashamed to ask my mom for help if it'll keep me in the black.  As for you: get off your high horse.  We all have skeletons in the closet--I'm just not ashamed to open the door, llet the pieces fall out, and ask for help putting them back together.  Neither should you.

9. MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE MISTAKES YOU MADE THIS YEAR.  Make a list of all the mistakes you made this year.  Grab a piece of paper and do it.  Then make another list of how you are going to avoid ever making those mistakes again.  Do this TODAY.

10. NEVER GIVE UP IS A PRINCIPLE, NOT A RULE.  We all have heard the serenity prayer.  If not, google it.  The truth is, no matter how hard we try, sometimes we DO have to give up on something.  But here's the rub: it doesn't mean you have to give up the big picture.  For example, if a guy or girl doesn't love you back, maybe you do indeed have to give up on that one person; but you don't have to give up on love.  Maybe you do have to give up on one particular position with one particular company; but you don't have to give up on a great job and career.  But here's another rub:  On the other hand, sometimes you just can't give up AT ALL.  This past year, two things happened to me, proving both of these concepts.  In one case, no matter how much I fought, I couldn't win.  And I have finally given up on that one mission... but not the battle.  And in another case, where I thought something was impossible, I kept getting back on my horse and trying again, and wow, a life dream came true (you may hear about it in 3 or 4 years, but not now).  Finally, remember that 'doing nothing' is not the same as inaction.  I read that in a horoscope too (a lot of wisdom in them things!) and it reminded me again that patience doesn't mean waiting; it means being steadfast despite opposition.  Sometimes 'doing nothing' is exactly what you need to do in order to get the desired result.  Ben Franklin once said, "He who has patience may have anything he desires."  Well, all I can say is that I am going to get everything I desire. :)

11. FINALLY, GET IN TOUCH WITH ME: I encourage you to get my books, or contact me!  My books Time Zen, Guerrilla Networking, Battle Cries for the Underdog, Romantic Suicide, To Benning and Back, and if you're in showbiz, The Theatrical Juggernaut can all help you reach your goals (and strives).  And if you're feeling saucy, why don't you get in touch?  

THANK YOU for all of your support over the years.  It continues to mean so much to me that you are a part of my life.
Meet you at the top!

ASK ME A QUESTION -- Go ahead.  Ask any question, and I will be happy to answer it.  Or, just visit www.rahrahk.com

In still other news:
FREE MONROE MANN SONG!  Congrats!  Just click here and you get a FREE complimentary copy of my song, "The Sun Is Always Shining Somewhere" for you to download, put on your iPod/MP3 player, burn to CD, whatever:

13 The Sun is Always Shining Somewhe.mp3

Romp on!