100 days later

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We’ve surpassed the 100-day mark of 2019, and this post is holding myself accountable for my ten habit madness to kick off the new year. Here’s a link to original post, and here’s how it went down.

I documented every day with pencil and paper.

I only made it 52 days before eliminating six of the habits from my system.

I was either doing these every single day (Walk 10, Water 10, Schedule 10, Sugar 10, Fast 10, ) or was failing (coffee 10). Yes, I drank coffee every day. This article on the health benefits of coffee didn’t help.

So, let’s talk about the other four habits.

Yoga 10
I scored 85 of 100 days with a Yoga session. Granted some of the days were a mere five minutes and some of the days reached an hour. Mobility will remain a priority in 2019. I’m going to shift this focus to 3 days a week of a minimum of 20 minutes and see how this compares to the daily routine.

Mediate 10
I scored 90 of 100 days meditating, and only missed one day in the last 50 days. Mindfulness deserves and will receive a post of its own. I believe a commitment to guided meditation is one of the best decisions of my life. If nothing else came from this 100-day experiment, I’d consider it a huge success based on my meditation habit alone.

Life is as big or small as we choose to make it. It all depends on our understanding and perception of the limitless nature of mind.
— Headspace

Book 10
Thirty days in and I couldn’t tell you a single lesson I learned from my nightly book reading. So I killed it. Once again, confirming my struggle with reading books and my intuition that I battle some form of dyslexia. Books & reading haven't lost their place in my heart. I’m once again shifting my attention to Audible for books and dedicating the last 10 minutes of the day to skimming industry news.

Beer 10
Oh, beautiful beer. As predicted, this was a tough one. The final score settled at 62 of the first 100 days alcohol-free. What’s hopeful is the majority of those days came in the last 50 days. I’m still battling my Irish genes on this one, but have now set my sites on four days a month, one day a week. That’s doable. Right?

In summary, I’m giving myself an atta boy. Habits don’t come easy. Behaviors don’t change fast. I lost some battles, but I won the war. I challenged myself, and I learned.

And I’m doing it again.

Another 100 days developing habits for a better me:

Mobility: yoga daily, 3 days a week 20+ minutes
Move: Walk, run, swim, bike, move 1 hour a day
Eat: alcohol and foods with 4+ ingredients weekly.
Think: read & meditate daily, write monthly.

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More writing and thinking inspired by an eclectic group souls called the Western Writers Society. You can the see the works of the other at mario.to & nuture theory.

A look back at Ireland

In celebration of my Irish genes, I decided to spend a portion of my St. Patrick’s Day going back through my photos from our Saucony trip last October. I pulled my top 17 and posted below. And that’s the joy of taking photos for me. I can look back and reignite all my senses of the time and place. Even the temperature of the Guinness comes to life.









the learning truck

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The old truck recently crept over 200,000 miles. It took us 15 years to hit this milestone.

It’s a pretty basic rig, four cylinders, manual transmission. The fanciest feature is power windows – because I couldn’t find one with the classic roll downs. The best feature is the four-wheel drive – because I need it on almost every adventure.

I converted the back seat to a dog bed years ago. The truck outlived my first dog Madison and has traveled 2.5 years down the road with Chimehuin. I built storage boxes and a sleeping deck in the truck bed. I sleep like a baby back there.

The driver’s seat serves as a classroom. Yes, it’s where I learn.

I’ll crank up the Johnny Cash on the right stretch of highway, but I discovered over the years I also love filling travel time with schooling. The course materials started with books on CDs rented from the Missoula Public Library. With time, the mediums evolved to Audible, Digital Classrooms, and Podcasts.

Audible
Audible is my channel for books. I struggle to read books and always have. My Blinkist behavior supports this observation. I’m still a big fan of books, but I found I’m a stronger listener than a reader. I drove from Bend to the Oregon Coast last weekend and listened to books by Dale Carnegie and Guy Kawasaki. I would have never have consumed these books otherwise. I’ve also discovered I hear faster than I read. I keep my audible playback speed at 1.75x and will occasionally kick it up to 2x. I tend to buy the Kindle and Audible versions of the book at the same time. I listen on Audible and revisit the high points on Kindle.

Digital Classrooms
As digital classrooms emerged, they quickly found their way into the truck. Lynda.com, Skilshare.com, & Masterclass.com have all earned my money over the years. For example, Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects & Premiere Pro were learned in the seat of my truck thanks to Lynda.com. Don’t worry, the distracted driving offenses are not as bad as they sound. I don’t watch or study the details, I introduce the concepts and bookmark the tips to revisit in the office. Call it digital classroom skimming.

Podcasts
Podcasts are my favorite audio medium. Stitcher is my favorite player. You can listen to detailed conversations with the best of the best. Accessing these great minds of the world, all in the palm of your hand. Amazing. An exciting podcast makes me want to jump behind the wheel and drive. No really, it does. I’ll take the long way to the river for extra time with How I Built This or The Tim Ferris Show.

The point of sharing here is not to brag about my windshield miles and the schooling I've received. It’s to challenge traditional learning. Today, education has no boundaries. In seconds, your phone can outperform the greatest scholar of the last century.

Find the topics you love, the mediums you use, and the time in your life to learn.

On a recent trip back from the Deschutes River, the truck motor misfired, the check engine light came on, and I thought we had come to the end of the road. A couple of new spark plugs later and we're looking at the next 200,000 miles.

Of learning.

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Another piece of writing inspired by my colleagues in the Western Writers League. You can read their works at Mario Dot To and The Nature Theory.

My Pebble

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My office computer lies on top of an old dynamite box. In the back left corner of this box, you’ll find my pebble.

Not any pebble. A pebble fetched from the banks of my favorite steelhead stream. But that’s not what makes my pebble awesome. My pebble provides FOCUS.

Yes, FOCUS.

I make my living in the digital marketing world. A market segment that’s perfected the art of disrupting our lives. I too have fallen victim to the real-time drip of updates.

The phone dings and I grab it. The phone dings again, I grab it again. Each and every time disrupting the task at hand and resetting my focus.

Truthfully, I’ve never been known for my attention span – “oh look, squirrel” – but in recent years I’ve noticed an addiction to the ding and thus a decline in efficient, productive work.

These disruptions come at the price of time. Half hour projects take the entire morning. Morning projects take a day and on and on. The one aspect of life I can never get back – TIME – lost to a lack of focus.

Recognizing this slide, I vowed to establish habits in 2019 that would heighten my attention. One of these habits included daily meditation via Headspace. After making it through the basics, I started my current block on… you guessed it: focus.

Ten days into my focus meditation block, Headspace introduced the pebble. My Pebble. Each day I pull my pebble out of my desk, focus on my pebble, shift my focus away and then regain my focus again on my pebble. It sounds simple, but it really works.

I’ve become a big fan of my pebble. I’m now using it in other areas of my life to also anchor my focus. For example, I’ll place my pebble on my cell phone for 45-minute increments. While the pebble holds down the dinging phone, I only work on the defined project. Afterwards, I return my pebble to the corner of the dynamite box.

As I’m putting the finishes touches on this post, my pebble happily sits on top of my phone. My phone dings and I smile. My phone dings again and I smile again. My pebble directs my focus, not an arbitrary ding.

Months from now my pebble may become just another river rock again. For the time being, it’s doing so much more. It’s providing FOCUS. It’s freeing TIME.

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The 10 Habit

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What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.
— Gretchen Rubin

I have a serious sweet tooth. I come by it honestly. My papaw suffered from type 2 diabetes, and my dad loves ice cream (only time will tell). Knowing this, I limited my sugar intake to less than 10 grams of added sugar per serving for the entire month of July 2018.

It stuck.

Yes… I’ve had an occasional donut since this habit change, but… I can also say I no longer eat dessert after meals. I don’t miss sugar and I don’t crave sugar.

With my sugar crushing success, I’m taking the same formula and testing it in the first 100 days of 2019. I’m calling it The 10 Habit and it’s going to focus on time & diet.

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You always have time for things you put first.
— Unkown

Walk 10
Each day will start with a 10-minute walk with Chimehuin. This will deliver fresh air and blood flow to help wake up the body. I believe the timing of the morning walk means more than the duration.  

Yoga 10
10 minutes of Yoga will immediately follow the walk. At the time of this post, I’m on a 50-day streak of at least 5 minutes of yoga a day. I’m doubling down in the new year and striving for 100 straight days of 10 minutes of yoga.  

Meditate 10
I’ve also been experimenting with meditation and found it very challenging and very refreshing. In hopes to make meditation a habit, I’ll take a work break between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to clear my mind through meditation.  

Schedule 10
I have a long-standing habit of writing a list of tasks I’d like to achieve the following day before clocking out of the office. To strengthen this exercise, I’ll take 10 minutes to schedule these tasks on my calendar – visualizing the completion of each task the following day.

Book 10
As each day comes to a close, it’s much easier for me to watch a video, or read the latest industry news than pick up a book. I’ll end the first 100 days of the new year with a book in my hand.

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You can’t excercise your way out of a bad diet.
— Mark Hyman

Water 10
Before I head out the door on my morning 10-minute walk, I’ll drink two glasses of water. Followed by eight more glasses of water throughout the day.  

Sugar 10
I’ve already established a habit of limiting my sugar intake to under 10 grams of added sugar per serving. I’m pleased with the results, so I’m keeping it in place.

Beer 10
My biggest weakness is alcohol consumption. I enjoy a daily drink more than I should and want to change this behavior pattern. Over the first 100 days, I’ll take five beer breaks, each ten days long.  

Coffee 10
Vice number two, I love coffee shop cultures and I love a good Cup of Joe. I’ll align my 10-day caffeine free streaks with my 10-day alcohol free streaks.  

Fast 10
I started experimenting with intermittent fasting at the end of last year and want to continue this practice into the new year. Following dinner, I won’t consume any other calories until breakfast. I say 10 hours here, but my specific goal is 13-16 hours between my last calorie of the day and the first calorie of the following day.

The 10 Habit test will end April 11, 2019. On the surface, none of these habits appear difficult. Together they present a challenge. Some of these habits may already be in place (water, walk, sugar, etc.) Even so, I’ve never defined them, tracked them, and announced them to the public. To further my accountability, I’ll repost these desired habits and results in mid April.

Happy New Year!





The Placebo is the Brand

Placebos are wonderful because they don’t have any side effects and they actually work.
— Seth Godin

The Placebo.

Prescribed for the psychological benefit, not the physical benefit.

The Brand.

I’ve been highly susceptible to the placebo effect of a well crafted brand since an early age. I was a mediocre basketball player in any shoes, but I would pursue the latest Air Jordan sneaker release at all costs.  Any jacket would warm my bones, but only a Patagonia would suffice.

The performance remained the same. I was buying the brand. I was buying the story it told.

Nearly thirty years later, very little has changed.

Today, I found myself beaming with joy as I gazed at my purchase from my friends at Deschutes Angler: a 13 foot, 9 inch, 6 weight, CF Burkheimer Presentation Spey Rod. I’m so proud of this purchase, I carved off a piece of my schedule today to take portrait photos of the beauty.

Yes, I was once again feeling the effects of my placebo. I stopped and questioned WHY? My answers lie in the Master, the Maker, and the Memories.

The Master.

I purchased this rod from John & Amy Hazel at Deschutes Angler. From the first day I darkened their doors, I was a fan. We instantly found some mutual connections, including a unique silver trout bracelet from Three Forks Montana. Connections aside, their history with the fish that captures my mind daily, sealed the deal. They’ve forgot more about steelhead than I currently know. The truly love the art of the sport.

When I decided I wanted to upgrade my spey collection, I called them for advice. Their excitement for the mere mention of Burkheimer was clear through the phone. The stories they told about the role they played in the Presentation Spey sold me, I was really feeling the effects.

The Maker.

I have a weak spot for handcrafted products. I always have. I’m all for technological advances in production, but it’s the craftsman that I love. The maker cares more. This attention to detail radiates every piece of the C.F. Burkheimer Presentation Spey. The plaid rod sleeve, the smoked nickel & buckeye reel seat, the five layer cork handle. The art that comes at the bench of a maker. The differences in style matters to me. It speaks to my style.  

The Memories.

It’s no secret that fly fishing captures my heart and plays a restorative role in my life. I’d like to say the countless hours swinging flies for steelhead has dampened my fishing spirit, but the opposite actually holds true. The chase, the mystery, the extended periods of time between fish, increases the desire to go.

The first swing through the first run with the new rod found a bright steelhead that disappeared on the horizon deep into my fly line backing. A memory never to be forgotten.

Did I pay more for placebo effect that comes with the C.F. Burkheimer Presentation Spey Rod in my hand?

Absolutely.

With this purchase, I salute the master, the maker, and the memories. The stories they tell and what these stories tell others about me. That’s my placebo effect. The placebo is the brand.



My Curious Vow

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This post serves as my public pledge for CURIOSITY.  My Curious Vow. A commitment to question, learn, and change.

I’ve come to believe it’s the curious mind where a zest for life lives. It’s the source of inspiration, drive, and passion. It’s how we explore and how we grow.

Curiosity allows your mind & spirit to stay young as you grow old.

Let’s take fishing as an example. I love fishing examples.  

I developed an interest in spin fishing at an early age. This intrigue led me down countless dusty Ozark roads to new waters to wade. An introduction to fly fishing in Field & Stream Magazine sold me on my first fly rod at the age of 16. I was curious.

I packed this fly rod to receive an education at the University of Montana. This fascination for fishing with flies led to Alaska, Argentina, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Europe, and every fishable water in between. This too expanded to new fly fishing techniques in the salty waters of both the Atlantic & the Pacific. I was curious.

Most recently, my inquiring mind spey casts for Steelhead: a sea run rainbow trout that sparks my interest more than any fish that has come before it. I’m still curious.

I use fishing as an example for simplicity. I could easily provide journeys in health & fitness, diet, career, finances, spirituality, etc., all fueled by questions. There is clearly joy found in learning. Just spend time with a 5-year-old.

Besides the fun factor, curiosity also plays another critical role in our ability to evolve. It drives change in our dynamic world. It allows us to create & adapt.

Unfortunately, society does a fine job of destroying intrigue. The decline in the sheer number of questions asked from age 5 to 18 is well documented. We’re eventually trained to stop asking questions altogether.

Today, I’m challenging myself to continue to question. I’m taking My Curious Vow. A commitment to question, learn, and change.


Living that Hunter-Gatherer Life

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This past Sunday I hoisted my drift boat out of the Wild & Scenic Deschutes River and onto my trailer. It signaled the end of my seventh overnight journey down the river this year.

The short version of these river trips consists of rowing a drift boat, fishing, and camping.

The long version means so much more.

You join nature’s gym.
Each trip, I return mentally refreshed and physically tired. The Deschutes’ reputation for boulder gardens and slick volcanic edges makes for leg weary days. Balanced with time on the oars, the voyage delivers a full body workout. The “ stabilize on a boulder in fast water” or "carry 5 gallons of water up a slippery slope to camp" machines only exist in nature's gym.

You realize how little you need.
On all of these trips, I packed two pairs of underwear and only wore one. Actually, on one trip I wore none. When there is no need to judge your wardrobe, you don’t wear one. You wear what you need and you realize how little you need.

You get dirty.
Your gear gets dirty. Your body gets dirty. Your food gets dirty. Everything gets dirty. I’ve yet to fall ill from this addition of dirt in my life. A cold river cleanse never feels better. No soap, just wash off the dirt, refresh your senses, and get dirty again.

You sleep under the stars.
On all seven trips, I slept under the stars in a hammock. My best nights of sleep fall under these starry skies. When I wake in the night, the view can’t be matched by the world’s best bedrooms.

You bond with your dog.
It’s no secret I love my dog, and this friendship only strengthens on the river. I’ve fished with a golden retriever at my side nearly my entire life. I far prefer fishing with a dog than not fishing with a dog. On this most recent trip, I walked upstream to a fishing hole, leaned my fly rod against a tree, laid down in the grass, and pet my dog. Then I fished.

You disconnect.
As I expressed in my last post, we need social interactions for optimum health. We also need to disconnect. The river forces you to put down your phone. Verizon Wireless hasn’t reached the depths of the Deschutes Canyon, and this is a good thing.

More and more I ask myself: where does this passion for life on the river come from?

I believe I can thank our hunter-gatherer forefathers. It runs in our blood. At least in my lineage. Even the dog part. I’m almost certain I inherited the dominate dog loving, fishing genes in the Corbin Family Tree.

Let’s be clear, I have zero desire to go back to the hunter-gatherer ways of the nomadic Corbins. I believe we’re living better lives than anyone who has come before us thanks to the gifts of modern society. A delayed flight to Hawaii is now considered a big problem. Really? That’s a big problem?

Long story short, I’ve always enjoyed my time spent in nature. Only now, am I pondering the bigger role it plays in my life. I'm exploring the joys of living that hunter-gatherer life.

If a trip down the Deschutes heightens this happiness, take me to the river.

the need to connect

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I’m somewhat obsessed with my personal wellness, always testing strategies that impact my mind and body. This usually pertains to work, diet, fitness, and sleep.

Today, I’m adding a new area of focus. Building relationships. Being social. Connecting. 

A few anecdotal observations and thoughts on this topic includes babies, mobile phones, and meeting in - person. As random as these topics may read, they share one underlying premise, our need to connect with another being. 

The Baby Social
This curiosity for human interaction began when I repeatedly watched two babies crawl towards each other on the floor. Outside of being near each other, they had no other forms of meaningful communication. This closeness appeared to be enough. Their parents never taught them to crawl to each other. They openly expressed through actions, that’s what they wanted to do. This confirms my belief that being social is deeply rooted in human nature.  

The Mobile Social
I’m lumping everyone with a cell phone into the same category. From Gen Z to Baby boomers, I see mobile usage very similar across generations. For example, my parents don’t send Snaps, but they do sit on the exact same couch, in the exact same room, each staring at their phones, connecting with others not in the room.  

Phones are forever changing how we connect and their popularity helps prove this necessity to do so. It’s easy to argue against the quality of the social interaction, but the reality is these mobile devices are allowing us to socialize with others in new ways. Texts, emojis, snaps, tweets, likes, Facetime, phone calls.. all forms of humans being humans. Connecting. Being social.

Another observation from The Mobile Social pertains to utilizing the phone as a “Connected Crutch.” I’ve even caught myself reaching in my pocket for my phone when not successfully finding another human to converse with at the party. The alternative – not being connected – was more than I could bear, especially in public. 

Good, bad, or otherwise, The Mobile Social diversifies our communications and increases the efficiencies and scale at which we can connect with others. It may also serve as a barrier to the richest and most valuable social of all time.

The In-Person Social
Not much different than where it all began as babies, the ultimate form of connecting with another human is the In-Person Social. From babies to grandpas, the verbal and nonverbal communication that exists when two humans are together cannot be matched. Regardless of how the relationship started or evolved, it becomes richer In- Person. I’d even argue a positive "in-person" conversation with a total stranger will brighten one’s day on both sides of the equation.  

As such, the In-Person Social is my preferred means of communication to accelerate a potential bond or strengthen a relationship.

I realized today I've taken our need to connect for granted. That's going to change. I'm going to strategically plan to socialize and connect with others. I'll also strive to strengthen existing relationships through more meaningful communications. 

Being social is critical to our overall health and should be prioritized just as we prioritize other aspects of our wellbeing: work, diet, fitness, sleep, & connect.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a study to prove it.

Having weak social relationships poses a greater mortality risk than physical inactivity or obesity.
— Shankar Vedantam

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This constitutes my third post for the WESTERN WRITERS LEAGUE.  Please also read the works of my colleagues on the following sites:

http://mario.to/
https://www.nurturetheory.com/

38 lessons in 38 years

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Another year, another lesson. I started this annual reflection at the age of 31. I add one new lesson each year. 

1. It’s your life.  No two people are the same. Embrace the gifts, challenges, and opportunities given to you.

2. Nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems.  The bottom is not that low and the top is not that high.

3. Family matters. At least to me. Good, bad, and ugly, I know my family loves me and this gives me strength. Find strength in your family.

4. Find your passion. Branding, fly fishing….  Passions make life worth living and people with passions make the world go round.

5. Do what you love. This is generally the easiest thing for you to do. What you think about when you go to bed and what you think about when you get up? Do that.

6. Fill wasted time.  Road trip or long commute? Fill your iPhone with audio material you don’t have time to read.

7. Carpe Diem. I’ve heard for years: “you’re young.” Don’t wait for the perfect time, because it will never come.

8. Use your words. The brain is a powerful engine and words drive this motor. What you think and say is what you will become.

9. Stay on your feet. Sitting is bad for you. Run, walk, and stand as much as possible. 

10. Make lists. Simple “to do” lists have become my greatest productivity tool. Email, call, errands, projects, media, etc., all have their own weekly “to do” lists.

11. Buy tickets not toys. I have no shortage of toys, but reflecting back, it’s the trips I remember most, not the “things” I purchased.

12. Nobody is watching you. I’ve always thought people were watching me. What will they think if…? Don’t make decisions based on what other people will think, make decisions for your best interest.  (The 18-40-60 Rule)

13. Do your best. Win or lose you did your best, what more can you ask for? You gave your best.

14. You grow in the valleys not in the mountains.  Times get tough, that is inevitable. As bad as they may be, these experiences craft our character and build our strength.

15. Continuously learn. Read, listen, watch, write.  Never stop learning.

16. Everything is relative. Everything. A 15-inch trout is a great catch, until you land one that is 20.

17. Riches have nothing to do with money.  Today (2011), I'm going on a fishing trip with my dad.  At moments, it will be impossible to be richer than us.

18. Set Goals. I set about 50 goals a year each divided into six priorities in my life:  family, faith, fitness, finances, focus, freelance.

19. Tell someone the goals you set. This will increase accountability and likelihood of achievement.

20. Buy a dog. Health and happiness will follow. 

21. Eat right and sleep well. I used to think both were a waste of time and resources; I now realize they are two of the greatest inputs to energy and performance.

22. Be spiritual. Not offensive, wacky, sign-holding spiritual, spirituality that gives you peace and purpose. Spirituality that allows you to embrace your blessings.

23. Live where you want. If fly fishing, running, riding, recreation, craft beer, and community are important to you, live there. If they’re not, live somewhere else.

24.  Love. Marriage is my most prized possession.

25. Don’t be a critic.  It’s easier to be a critic than correct; respect the man in the arena.

26. Find your happy place. Go there when you need to calm the inner beast. 

27. Cheer for something. I always assumed I’d quit caring about sports when I hung up my high school cleats. I now relish the opportunity to cheer for my wife and cheer for the HOGS–Woo Pig Sooie!

28.  Keep a few friends. You don’t need a thousand friends, just a few really good ones.

29. You lose 100% of the races you don’t start. If you try, you’ll know. The “what-ifs” will haunt you, so you might as well try.

30. Measure. If you don’t determine metrics and measure, its impossible to gauge progress.

31. Have integrity. Without it, what do you really have?

32. Experiment.  “All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

33 . Go down the rabbit hole.  Follow a passion, thought, idea, feeling, etc. as far as it can possibly take you. Once you've arrived at this point. Keep digging.  

34. Focus on Right Now. Vision is great, but I've found my best work gets done when I'm focused on the next task at hand. 

35. Meet in person. No other form of communication (message in a bottle, blogging, phone, skype, text, social, etc.) can compare to the experience of meeting in person.  This holds true for all relationships, professional and personal.

36. Nobody cares about your story. They only care about their story.  

37. Altruism wins. 

38. You only control your mind. A bad experience can turn good with a simple change of perception.  

Body and Mind and Effort

WELLNESS (noun)
the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.

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I can't think of a word that better describes my current focus in life. I've come to believe our greatest gift in life is health and without health, very little matters. 

Physical and mental health are one and the same, but for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to try to tackle these separately.  

Body

Since my earliest memories, I've lived an active life. The wooded lot behind my childhood home brought far more joy than the T.V. could ever provide. Chiggers and all. As I grew up, I developed a love for sports (Why I Play). I'd spend countless hours practicing the craft. Catching fly balls, throwing passes, weight training. This deliberate practice gave me a goal to chase and a physical state I thoroughly enjoyed.  

Even after my dreams of turning pro fell by the wayside, I remained committed to physical fitness. I feel better and am more productive in other areas of my life when I’m fit. This much I’ve proven.

Sports aside, I've always devoted time to physically exploring nature. Nine times out of ten this consists of chasing fish, but I’m beginning to learn any time exploring the outdoors is time well spent. My lungs breathe deeper, my heart beats stronger and my MIND clears.

And Mind

It took me longer to understand the importance of the mind than it did to understand the joys of being active. The more I focus on my mind the more I realize how closely connected the mind and body actually are.  Similar to the body, the mind can also fall out of shape, weary and untrained. The mind powers the body. It's been proven you can increase free throw shooting percentages, and produce a biological response to eating lemons purely through visualization. Nothing revolutionary, but easily forgotten. The MIND helps determine the health of your body and your physical well being. In the words of Napolean Hill, “what you conceive and believe, you can achieve.”

And Effort

I believe health is a gift. Our body is a gift and our mind is a gift. They’re life’s greatest gifts and they require constant care. They deserve constant care. I’m not going to claim to have all the answers here. I don’t think I ever will. I hope I never do. Even so, I’m going to share my current efforts in each.

Body 2018: Disclaimer: this section is pretty "meathead," but hey it’s about the body, so that’s kind of hard to avoid. My 2018 body focus is on strength and mobility. I stopped running on January 1, 2018 (knee/back pain), and am focused primarily on bodyweight training. I love the simplicity and functional strength developed. I've also become almost entirely dedicated to App training. My two primary Apps are Freeletics (strength) and Asana Rebel (mobility). (Side note – the Asana Rebel tagline is “Feel Sexy & Healthy” and one of the workouts is called Bikini Flow – don’t judge me).

I’ve also come to realize exercise is a very small piece of the body equation. I now focus on lifestyle. I’m 21 days into an Eat, Move, Sleep workflow. It’s inspired by Tom Rath, but I made up the program myself. Some of the elements include:

Eat - No grains or legumes, or added sugar of any kind (beer, bread, rice, peanuts.. ouch)
Move - 6 days a week (Freeletics, Asana Rebel, other)
Sleep - 7-9 hours a night (easier said than done)

Mind 2018: Thanks to the digital age, learning has never been easier. The resources available for learning and people you can reach amazes me. I can’t personally call up Seth Godin and chat for 90 minutes, but I can listen to more than 30 podcasts where he answers in detail the questions I’d want to ask him if I could call him. Once more, I can even listen to his podcast (Akimbo), and I do. Aside from podcasting mentors, I can read the top 100 business books in a week on Blinkist. I can learn to edit video or optimize advertising on Skillshare, and I can learn story structure for free on Vimeo.

Although learning comes easy for me, my biggest challenge lies on the softer side of the mind.  My attitude. My ability to focus on what I can control. My ability to focus period. Easing tension, relaxing, and being present can all be trained. Here lies the part of my mind that needs the most practice, and the area I’m increasing my efforts. As of last week –yes, last week– I’ve been exploring answers through Stoicism, pioneered many moons again, but in my opinion incredibly applicable to the world we live in today. One stoic thought I’ve already embraced is “to keep your mind in good shape just as you do your body.”

WELLNESS. 

What a word. I'll likely continue my quest for WELLNESS until it's time to check out of this beautiful thing called life.

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This constitutes my second post for the WESTERN WRITERS LEAGUE.  You can (and should) read other works from colleagues as follows: 

Workday by Mario Schulzke

why i play

I’m just not obsessed with winning championships. It’s not the only reason I play. I play for my individual growth.
— Kevin Durant
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I love sports.  I played sports in my youth and have been a fan ever since. Sports provides us with a constant glimpse of what it means to dream and work diligently to achieve these dreams, a steady stream of lessons that apply to everyday life.

And at the heart of sports lies an ATHLETE driven by COMPETITION. Competition runs in our blood, it’s human nature. Competition also comes with a slippery slope. Although vital to progress, it’s equally detrimental when pointed in the wrong direction. When the competition is someone else, something else, or anything out of your control.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest athletes in sports aren’t competing with others; they’re not competing for trophies; they’re not competing with legacies. They’re competing with themselves. We have built a society designed on comparing ourselves to others, but the competition with oneself is where the greatest performances are rooted, and a meaningful life lives.

Although my days of playing sports competitively are long gone, I remain dedicated to setting goals & optimizing my life. Competing with myself. I start each year with a list of goals, each week with a list of projects, and each day with a list of tasks. I’ve even optimized this goal setting process over time in an effort to improve the outcome. I set professional goals, health & fitness goals, relationship goals, financial goals, creative goals….. Heck, I even set a couple of 2018 goals for our dog Chimehuin. For the record, she’s fallen behind on her biggest goal of the year but is still working hard, and that’s what matters most.

I digress.

When I maintain a focus on my goals or the task at hand I find happiness & personal progress. When I fail to set objectives, or focus on others, I find the opposite. That’s not to say I don’t struggle. I do. We all do. Hardship in life is a given. I’ve missed goals to the extent that is downright embarrassing when I look back at the lofty ambitions. Even so, I still believe in a life focused on personal goals. The catalyst being personal goals. We’re all different, and we should all have different personal goals.

As I was pondering my thoughts on sports, competition, and a driven life, I stumbled upon a 95-Year Stanford Study that said it best:

Actively pursuing a goal, even if you never quite achieve it, will make your life more fulfilling, both now... and when you eventually look back on a life well lived.
— Jeff Hayden

An even deeper dive into this study shows that determining what success means to you and actively striving to achieve this success leads to a longer-lived more meaningful life.  In contrast, “happy-go-lucky” people don’t thrive and often live shorter lives.

At the end of the day, there’s only one you and there’s only one life to live. Strive for individual growth. This means pick a target and vigorously chase it. The mark is yours and the competition is you.  

That’s how I’m playing the game of life. And that’s why I play.

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This constitutes my first post for the WESTERN WRITERS LEAGUE.  Very special stuff. You can, and should, read other entries on the same topic from my colleagues at the hyperlinks below:  

DRIVE

PURPOSE & TIME

CorbinsBrands.com vs. ChrisCorbin.me

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Welcome to the new ChrisCorbin.me. There is no telling how you arrived. ChrisCorbin.me has been turned on and off a couple of times over the years. My guess is you somehow arrived via CorbinBrands.com, which is why I feel the need to explain the current status of the two domains: CorbinBrands.com vs. ChrisCorbin.me

CorbinBrands.com
CorbinBrands, LLC started in the Gran Hotel lobby in Pucon, Chile in 2010. I had a handful of ideas and no clue how they'd play out so I decided to form an umbrella LLC for these ideas: Corbin Brands. At the time, my primary source of income came from one of these ideas, Lotic Water Marketing, which successfully started the first-ever water bank in Montana and burned me out of the water market in the process. Lesson learned. Over time, I shifted my self-made day job into freelance content creation, social media management, video production, and the like. This has slowly grown into "a small batch digital agency that builds brands through iterative creative." What's Iterative Creative you ask? It's our trademarked* process of creating ideas, testing ideas, analyzing ideas, and repeating the process. We believe this allows us to optimize creative for the best results and evolve with the ever-changing digital world. 

ChrisCorbin.me
The truth is chriscorbin.me predates CorbinBrands. I picked up this URL back in the day when all the cool kids had blogs, and I had a goal to improve my writing skills the same way I improve all aspects of my life, practice. Furthermore, practice in a medium the world can see. Somewhere along the way, I actually shelved this URL and moved the content to CorbinBrands, in hopes to win some freelance work. Skip to the present and I built Corbin Brands its own website with stronger agency vibe and dusted this old beauty off for my personal use. 

Although less time exists for this platform (4 posts last year), I've made a lifelong commitment to be better than before and still believe organizing your thoughts for the world (my mom and a couple other readers) to see accomplishes this objective. For the record, I don't think my thoughts so remarkable that they deserve their own website, but I do believe writing here will improve my personal self. And this makes it worthwhile. 

Long story short, if you want a landing page for a small batch digital agency that lives and dies by iterative creative, visit corbinbrands.com. If you want to hear my random thoughts on this thing called life, maybe an occasional video, photo, or other creative inspiration that strikes my fancy, stay right here.

Since you've made this far in a life update on two domains – really riveting stuff – I'd like to offer a personal thank you to Mario Schulzke. Besides teaching me how to spell teriyaki, and being a true friend, he's pushed corbinbrands.com and chriscorbin.me to their current positions. He's helped me clarify my thinking on both. 

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* well... we've filed a trademark anyhow, only time will tell. 

Some simple goals

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It's not New Year's Resolution time yet, but I'm getting started early. I can't remember exactly when –but many moons ago – I set a simple lifetime goal dedicated to continuous learning. For whatever reason a couple of simple ideas have come across my screen and really stuck. So much so, I thought sharing them here would help me execute. 

 1. Never say anything bad about anyone. Why? Because nothing good comes from saying something bad about someone else. Ever.

2. Make eye contact.  In the world of the cell phone, eye contact is becoming a lost art. I'm also guilty and focusing more and more on eye contact. 

3. Ask better questions & listen. Small talk is easy and adds little value to either party.  I believe the biggest drivers of meaningful personal conversations are the questions you ask and how well you listen. Honestly, I'm not great at either, so I'm making conscious effort to improve.

4. Challenge the story. All pieces of digital should tell a story or part of a story. If you're sharing content without a story, don't. 

5.  Set 3 important to-dos for the following day. I'm an avid list maker.  I literally have 45 active lists with 3-35 tasks each. I just counted. This clears my mind, but also creates to many task to accomplish. So, I've started making a list of the three most important for each. I'm already pleased with the results. 

6. Focus. I work in the digital world which thrives on a lack of focus. I frequently find myself bouncing from 1 social screen the next. I've experimented with this before, but am going back to 90 minute blocks of focused work.

8. Make it a habit. The only way for me to accomplish these simple improvements is to make them a habit. 

I'm just getting started with these simple goals and am already amazed by how difficult they are to execute.  Maybe they're not that simple after all. 

 

37 lessons in 37 years

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I started this annual reflection at the age of 31.  Each year I add a new lesson. In no particular order of importance…

1. It’s your life.  No two people are the same. Embrace the gifts, challenges, and opportunities given to you.

2. Nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems.  The bottom is not that low and the top is not that high.

3. Family matters. At least to me. Good, bad, and ugly, I know my family loves me and this gives me strength. Find strength in your family.

4. Find your passion. Branding, fly fishing….  Passions make life worth living and people with passions make the world go round.

5. Do what you love. This is generally the easiest thing for you to do. What you think about when you go to bed and what you think about when you get up? Do that.

6. Fill wasted time.  Road trip or long commute? Fill your iPhone with audio material you don’t have time to read.

7. Carpe Diem. I’ve heard for years: “you’re young.” Don’t wait for the perfect time, because it will never come.

8. Use your words. The brain is a powerful engine and words drive this motor. What you think and say is what you will become.

9. Stay on your feet. Sitting is bad for you. Run, walk, and stand as much as possible. 

10. Make lists. Simple “to do” lists have become my greatest productivity tool. Email, call, errands, projects, media, etc., all have their own weekly “to do” lists.

11. Buy tickets not toys. I have no shortage of toys, but reflecting back, it’s the trips I remember most, not the “things” I purchased.

12. Nobody is watching you. I’ve always thought people were watching me. What will they think if…? Don’t make decisions based on what other people will think, make decisions for your best interest.  (The 18-40-60 Rule)

13. Do your best. Win or lose you did your best, what more can you ask for? You gave your best.

14. You grow in the valleys not in the mountains.  Times get tough, that is inevitable. As bad as they may be, these experiences craft our character and build our strength.

15. Continuously learn. Read, listen, watch, write.  Never stop learning.

16. Everything is relative. Everything. A 15-inch trout is a great catch, until you land one that is 20.

17. Riches have nothing to do with money.  Today (2011), I'm going on a fishing trip with my dad.  At moments, it will be impossible to be richer than us.

18. Set Goals. I set about 50 goals a year each divided into six priorities in my life:  family, faith, fitness, finances, focus, freelance.

19. Tell someone the goals you set. This will increase accountability and likelihood of achievement.

20. Buy a dog. Health and happiness will follow. 

21. Eat right and sleep well. I used to think both were a waste of time and resources; I now realize they are two of the greatest inputs to energy and performance.

22. Be spiritual. Not offensive, wacky, sign-holding spiritual, spirituality that gives you peace and purpose. Spirituality that allows you to embrace your blessings.

23. Live where you want. If fly fishing, running, riding, recreation, craft beer, and community are important to you, live there. If they’re not, live somewhere else.

24.  Love. Marriage is my most prized possession.

25. Don’t be a critic.  It’s easier to be a critic than correct; respect the man in the arena.

26. Find your happy place. Go there when you need to calm the inner beast. 

27. Cheer for something. I always assumed I’d quit caring about sports when I hung up my high school cleats. I now relish the opportunity to cheer for my wife and cheer for the HOGS–Woo Pig Sooie!

28.  Keep a few friends. You don’t need a thousand friends, just a few really good ones.

29. You lose 100% of the races you don’t start. If you try, you’ll know. The “what-ifs” will haunt you, so you might as well try.

30. Measure. If you don’t determine metrics and measure, its impossible to gauge progress.

31. Have integrity. Without it, what do your really have?

32. Experiment.  “All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

33 . Go down the rabbit hole.  Follow a passion, thought, idea, feeling, etc. as far as it can possibly take you. Once you've arrived at this point. Keep digging.  

34. Focus on Right Now. Cue the Van Halen. Vision is great, but I've found my best work gets done when I'm focused on the the next task at hand. 

35. Meet in person. No other form of communication (message in a bottle, blogging, phone, skype, text, social, etc.) can compare to the experience of meeting in person.  This holds true for all relationships, professional and personal.

36. Nobody cares about your story. They only care about their story.  

37. Altruism wins. 

Revive Fly Fishing Journal

I'm lucky. I found a career I love. This took some time and many missteps along the way, including stints in water rights, and a trout & salmon genetics lab. 

Even with my love for the daily grind, I need my time out of the office. Time to think, reset the batteries, and play. 

This time is almost always spent fly fishing. 

Occasionally, my digital and fly fishing worlds collide. Like here, and here, and most recently in Revive Fly Fishing.* This photo essay is dedicated to my curiosity of why steelhead will take my fly. A question I'm not sure I'll ever know the answer to, that keeps me swinging flies time and time again.  

I don't see this obsession with fly fishing changing anytime soon. I enjoy the journey nearly as much as the catch. 

*This publication is always updating so you may have to search for Winter 2017 to find this edition. 

random thoughts

Oh yeah, that one time I opened my "Thoughts" page and typed my random thoughts.  Note, I reference zero data on many of my social media, user experience, and brand assumptions. This is just my random thoughts, today.  

  • Without conflict, there is no story. 
  • Social Media is half content creation and half community management. You need both. 
  • The Ned Kelly meat pie is delicious and will cause you to gain weight. 
  • The miracle of flight sure makes life fun. Travel.
  • Photos capture memories and inspire creativity. At least for me. 
  • Organically growing an Instagram audience comes through engagement.
  • Planning and process are foundations of success. 
  • Facebook is winning the "Brand" video war. Sorry YouTube.  
  • Iterative creative works. Idea. Create. Test. Repeat. Thanks Mario
  • Story is part of our DNA. 
  • Only famous faces perform well on Instagram. People digest content through their worldview and someone's face disrupts this worldview. Show their backs, hands, or feet instead. 
  • The goal of all brand content should be to entertain or create an emotional response. 
  • Define the brand and check brand continuity for all content. 
  • Selfies have replaced the autograph. 
  • I love dogs. We lost Madison in September and I cried for days. We picked up Chimehuin in November and I've laughed every day since. 
  • A team always beats an individual.
  • All decisions are trades in self-preservation.

That's it. 

36 Lessons in 36 Years.

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I started this annual reflection at the age of 31.  Each year I add a new lesson. In no particular order of importance…

1. It’s your life.  No two people are the same. Embrace the gifts, challenges, and opportunities given to you.

2. Nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems.  The bottom is not that low and the top is not that high.

3. Family matters. At least to me. Good, bad, and ugly, I know my family loves me and this gives me strength. Find strength in your family.

4. Find your passion. Branding, fly fishing….  Passions make life worth living and people with passions make the world go round.

5. Do what you love. This is generally the easiest thing for you to do. What you think about when you go to bed and what you think about when you get up? Do that.

6. Fill wasted time.  Road trip or long commute? Fill your iPhone with audio material you don’t have time to read.

7. Carpe Diem. I’ve heard for years: “you’re young.” Don’t wait for the perfect time, because it will never come.

8. Use your words. The brain is a powerful engine and words drive this motor. What you think and say is what you will become.

9. Stay on your feet. Sitting is bad for you. Run, walk, and stand as much as possible. 

10. Make lists. Simple “to do” lists have become my greatest productivity tool. Email, call, errands, projects, media, etc., all have their own weekly “to do” lists.

11. Buy tickets not toys. I have no shortage of toys, but reflecting back, it’s the trips I remember most, not the “things” I purchased.

12. Nobody is watching you. I’ve always thought people were watching me. What will they think if…? Don’t make decisions based on what other people will think, make decisions for your best interest.  (The 18-40-60 Rule)

13. Do your best. Win or lose you did your best, what more can you ask for? You gave your best.

14. You grow in the valleys not in the mountains.  Times get tough, that is inevitable. As bad as they may be, these experiences craft our character and build our strength.

15. Continuously learn. Read, listen, watch, write.  Never stop learning.

16. Everything is relative. Everything. A 15-inch trout is a great catch, until you land one that is 20.

17. Riches have nothing to do with money.  Today (2011), I'm going on a fishing trip with my dad.  At moments, it will be impossible to be richer than us.

18. Set Goals. I set about 50 goals a year each divided into six priorities in my life:  family, faith, fitness, finances, focus, freelance.

19. Tell someone the goals you set. This will increase accountability and likelihood of achievement.

20. Buy a dog. Health and happiness will follow. 

21. Eat right and sleep well. I used to think both were a waste of time and resources; I now realize they are two of the greatest inputs to energy and performance.

22. Be spiritual. Not offensive, wacky, sign-holding spiritual, spirituality that gives you peace and purpose. Spirituality that allows you to embrace your blessings.

23. Live where you want. If fly fishing, running, riding, recreation, craft beer, and community are important to you, live there. If they’re not, live somewhere else.

24.  Love. Marriage is my most prized possession.

25. Don’t be a critic.  It’s easier to be a critic than correct; respect the man in the arena.

26. Find your happy place. Go there when you need to calm the inner beast. 

27. Cheer for something. I always assumed I’d quit caring about sports when I hung up my high school cleats. I now relish the opportunity to cheer for my wife and cheer for the HOGS–Woo Pig Sooie!

28.  Keep a few friends. You don’t need a thousand friends, just a few really good ones.

29. You lose 100% of the races you don’t start. If you try, you’ll know. The “what-ifs” will haunt you, so you might as well try.

30. Measure. If you don’t determine metrics and measure, its impossible to gauge progress.

31. Have integrity. Without it, what do your really have?

32. Experiment.  “All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

33 . Go down the rabbit hole.  Follow a passion, thought, idea, feeling, etc. as far as it can possibly take you. Once you've arrived at this point. Keep digging.  

34. Focus on Right Now. Cue the Van Halen. Vision is great, but I've found my best work gets done when I'm focused on the the next task at hand. 

35. Meet in person. No other form of communication (message in a bottle, blogging, phone, skype, text, social, etc.) can compare to the experience of meeting in person.  This holds true for all relationships, professional and personal.

36. Nobody cares about your story. They only care about their story.  

B&W

No thoughts here, only photos from the summer. Not sure why I'm on a black and white kick, but I am. Oh, and I still like to fish and fly my drone Dixie.