First one to the table gets a clean fork

I call, Time to eat.

No one comes.

[Back story] There’s a pile of dishes in the sink. No clean silverware whatsoever. Last night for ice cream, the kids had to dive into dirty dishes to find a spoon, and — heaven forbid — wash their own. Amidst groans and grumbles.
I call again, Time to eat!

Still nothing.

Cooking for kids is thankless work and I feel like a short order cook.

I’m annoyed when “it’s ready” and no one arrives. This isn’t the first time.

I try once more, Time to eat!

Holding onto the “eeeaaattt” with an upward tilt and irritation they know by heart.

Yelling across two rooms, I add:

“First one to the table gets a clean fork,”

Now they come running. It becomes a race. I hear the competitive trampling of feet scoot through the living room.

My two oldest slide through the threshold onto the kitchen linoleum.

While the youngest was hip checked and flung onto the couch.

She wines, “Not fair.”

Then an argument between the two oldest ensues:

“I’m first.”
“No, I was first.”

I interrupt, “You’re both first. Sit down, my little stinks.”

Everyone sits.

I feel satisfied and relieved. Dinner is still hot. Everyone is finally at the table.

A chorus of “yays” breakout.

I’ve prepared their favorite: pesto pasta with chicken and mushrooms.

They start passing around the Romano.

I’m happy. Because that’s all I want. For my kids to be at the table together. Eating the dinner that I made. Talking about the highs and lows from the day.

So I finish cleaning dirty forks. 🙃

Everything is good when we’re all together at the table for dinner. ❤

These are days to remember.

30 Deliberate Practice Days To Get Better at Life

Eric L Walker with a smile at the greenhouse.
Eric L. Walker at the Greenhouse. June, 2023

I ran into an old acquaintance in aisle 12 at the grocery store. Someone I hadn’t seen in years. He told me I looked like I’d been hitting the gym.

“What are you getting all fit for?” he asked.

I replied, “Life.”

Reflecting on the encounter later, I thought about my response. Underneath it all, I have a simple goal:

To continuously improve as I grow older.

It isn’t just about aging – I’m just trying to improve life. And the people I enjoy spending time with the most have the same AWARENESS.

It makes me think of the word: “practice.” For me, practice is about my parenting, job(s), faith, talking, relationships, writing, fitness, and much more. Thinking this way means I’m staying aware of what I’m doing in all areas of life instead of drifting along.

Another way to say it:

“Practice” means doing something purposefully, taking care of, and wanting to pursue growth. Awareness means paying attention to the feedback life is giving you.

I like these ideas. Part of my “practice” is writing them down and sharing them.

I wanted to break down some of the things we hear people say all the time and define them against everyday life:

– “Doing something on purpose” means living with intention.

– “Taking care” can mean focusing on meaningful things and/or bringing meaning to the mundane.

– “Wanting to grow” makes me think of “kaizen,” another excellent idea from Japan, which is about small, continuous improvements that make us better every day.

– “Feedback” is critical to improving because it underscores being capable of “adapting,” which only becomes more important as we age.

Ultimately, this isn’t about perfecting everything or comparing yourself to others. It’s about being present and paying attention in everything we do daily, aka being “accountable.”

All those words I put in quotes are buzz words that orbit around the same thing: improvement.

This is me talking to you like we’re at coffee, and as I finish that last sip, I’d like to conclude by doing a thing. Maybe a few of you will follow what I’m up to and by all means, join in.

It’s all in the effort to continue getting better at life.

1. Wake up early. I’ll define early as by 6 AM.

2. Write down my thoughts before bed. Like right now, I’m writing this under my reading light.

3. Exercise 4 days a week for no less than 30 minutes, i.e., getting sweaty.

4. Sit in silence for 10 minutes.

5. Walk or ride a bike every day for 30 minutes. This is separate from exercise.

6. Read an actual book for 10 minutes a day. I prefer the Bible.

Do you want to join me?

People like us do things like this.

Why I turned to the Bible

Isaiah 5:20 says:

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

I turned to the Bible during COVID-19 out of frustration. From my point of view, the leaders I once trusted were calling bad “good” and good “bad.” Things needed to be clarified.

No one stepped up to clarify, and all good cities were burning down.

Dr. Suess described my feelings best in his masterpiece, “The Sneetches,” when he wrote:

“No one knew… if this one was that one, or that one was this one, or which one was what one, or what one was who.”

The Bible provided me with comfort, solace, and moral guidance.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John helped me during those times of uncertainty and distress. The life and ministry of Jesus Christ offered me a comprehensive understanding.

Jesus’ teachings, actions, and significance gave me a profound source of a deeper understanding of faith.

Today, I’m sharing Isaiah 5:20 because it warns against moral confusion and the distortion of values.

Every day, I encounter situations and behaviors that make me reflect on right and wrong, good and evil, and the importance of maintaining moral clarity and values.

Those who know me best know that I’m no angel. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes.

Which is why writing this post feels awkward, and that’s also why I’m writing it.

I’m making a recommendation to read the Bible.

I’m a book reader. I’ve always been a book reader, but now… I’ve abandoned all books and prefer reading the Bible – 10 minutes daily.

Once upon a time, my ex-father-in-law, who has since passed, recommended that I read the story of Jesus. I said No thanks. I think of him often because 27 years later, I understand what he was trying to lead me toward. It’s a good path to follow.

I have found the Bible as a source of strength, guidance, and hope.

The Bible offers a rich collection of verses and teachings. It provides a sense of purpose, moral grounding, and a connection to something greater than myself. Especially as a committed Father, I trust that the understanding of some of the most difficult challenges is found in the Bible.

I read a headline from Wired [dot] com that read:

“Preferring Biological Children Is Immoral.”

Headlines like that usurp God with the audacity of the devil.

Being sensitive and astute to language, I encounter this type of audacity every day.

The internet is like a wild ride with content from all walks of life.

Many of the publications I used to love are now captured entities.

So when I close my laptop and put my phone down, it’s the Bible that works as a counterbalance, and that helps me feel more reassured and resolute.

I would like to conclude by bringing it back to Isaiah 5:20.

These verses are part of a series of “woes” that warn against pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. It cautions against individuals who trust their wisdom and understanding, thinking they are clever and self-sufficient rather than relying on God’s guidance and wisdom. The verse reminds us to remain humble and acknowledge our dependence on divine wisdom.

I take that advice to heart, and maybe you can, too.

With love and respect.

Embrace natural beauty

I notice young folks in their twenties striving to alter their natural youth and beauty. Similarly, people my age (around the upper 40s and older, when age becomes more apparent) opt for surgeries, procedures, and treatments to appear younger. But why? Could it be fear? Fear comes from within. Fear is an inside job that can’t be quenched by changing outward appearances. I want my daughters to avoid this path of insecurity, and wanting to be something other than who they are. As for me, I appreciate laugh lines, less perky breasts, and a bit extra around the hips and thighs. A person who embraces who they are is what I find most attractive.

What I do as a freelance writer

“The meaning of your communication is the response you get.”

I love this quote and want to unpack it to explain what I do as a freelancer.

But first, I’m happy to report that by all measures, I have reached my goals for what I set out to do almost a year ago. My hours are full; I’m working with clients and creating a second income stream.

Recently, someone asked me what I do.

In a nutshell, I’m contracted for my ability to write, but this gig is mostly about marketing.

Which brings me to the quote, “The meaning of your communication is the response you get.”

This is the essence of marketing and what owners, marketing teams, and agents of change seek my services for.

No matter your intention, the effectiveness of your messaging (i.e., marketing) is measured by the reaction it spurs in the audience you seek to address.

This applies to all varieties of personal and professional communication.

In marketing, I’m referring to content (written, video, audio) that resonates with a tribe or community by aligning with worldviews, embracing and elevating the unique aspects of a product or service, and ensuring that it’s remarkable and worth talking about.
Side note: I mine for stories to create this remarkable communication in every instance.

So storytelling is a big part of it. Another word I like to use for this is “affinity.”

Remarkable communication creates affinity, which helps build an audience that can fall in love with what is on offer.

That is the in-demand skill across the web these days. It’s what I seek to accomplish as a freelance writer, and it’s my response when people ask me what I do.

I get paid for the response my communication generates.

Next update, I would like to tell you about marketing funnels.

Don’t inherit liabilities

I’m 47, and thinking about midlife. I have this precautionary statement on repeat: Don’t inherit liabilities. Work toward reversing any “issues” that trend toward liability. Because where do I want to be in a decade? What will have made all the difference at 57, which happens to be when my youngest turns 18. What then? I’m preoccupied with that question (and acting accordingly). That sums up the reason “why” I’m choosing to post here, and will be documenting and unpacking around this topic.

Basics of healthy living

My message is to embrace the essentials.

The basics include:

Morning sun, earth beneath your bare feet, real food. Hydrate. Rise and fall with the sun, foster good relationships, prioritize love, kindness, and get closure on the “unfinished business” of life. Get sweaty daily, disconnect from screens, nurture mental well-being, manage stress. Writing in a journal. Thrive naturally and proudly live into my second half of transformations.

No apps needed. No supplements needed.

Comfort isn’t that comfortable

Just as “safe” is no longer that safe, comfort isn’t that comfortable.

I can’t be “comfortable” with the day job, carting the kids around, and Friday night pizza, so why do anything more?

For me, it’s these reasons:

● to prove I’m as capable as I think I am.
● to not back down from a self-inflicted challenge.
● to make a commitment and see it through.
● to step out of my comfort zone to pursue growth.

If I don’t do the above, I won’t be comfortable with myself.

I can accomplish the above points along with the day job, carting the kids around, and enjoying a slice of pizza on Fridays.

Summer 2023 project update

I’m still going strong with my freelance writing and marketing “side hustle,” juggling three clients while keeping up with my greenhouse day job and my kids’ ever-expanding lives. Life is hectic but fulfilling, and I’m genuinely grateful for it all.

I’m ready to take on a new -related- project: documenting my journey to healthy living. Specifically, I want to empower middle-aged men to conquer their challenges and embrace a transformative next chapter. Why this focus? Well, because at 47, I’m living it too!

I see immense potential in this niche as a freelance writer and marketer. So, I’m diving headfirst into creating valuable content in this space. Why? Firstly, it’s deeply relevant to my own life. Secondly, I want to connect with and support others on a similar path. And thirdly, I’m eager to attract high-profile brands to collaborate with on freelance projects.

I’m nine months into this freelancing adventure and couldn’t be prouder of my work. But to reach new heights, I need to go from being a “wandering generality” to a “meaningful specific.” I’m taking myself on as a client in the “longevity at midlife” niche to attract more clients from the health industry. Plus, showcasing my expertise through this project will boost my reputation and keep me in high demand.

So, here’s to embracing the journey and making a meaningful impact!

Where to start?

I’m now diving into the new Threads platform to expand my network. I aim to make a post or two daily and “find the others.” If you’re interested in what I might say about the challenges we middle-aged men must confront and overcome, give me a follow. More will come, but this is my small way to start.

Follow me here –> https://www.threads.net/@ericlwalker.online

Not another pic of someone in a cold plunge

It may seem trendy, but there’s a valid reason why many of us swear by this brief and uncomfortable act of plunging into cold water.

The physical benefits are well-documented and extensive, but we often overlook the mental advantages. I’ve guided a few individuals through their first plunge, and my initial advice is always: “Don’t overthink it. Just get in without pause.”

That advice applies to various aspects of our lives. Sometimes, we get caught up overanalyzing and envisioning irrelevant scenarios and outcomes. We convince ourselves of limitations that don’t exist, make flimsy excuses, and get trapped in self-doubt. Instead, set your goal and take swift action.

My second piece of advice is to find your rhythm amidst the discomfort. Embrace it until you discover your balance. It may be chaotic and unpredictable initially, but if you persist, you’ll experience a moment of release and harmony. This is the pivotal moment you’re seeking.

When embarking on something new or uncomfortable, we may appear disorganized and reactive, requiring time to find stability. Find that steadiness within the discomfort. Many abandon their pursuits prematurely due to the initial shaky phase accompanying new experiences.

The significant part is once you’ve experienced the calm that follows the initial discomfort, you’ll gain the confidence to repeat it. It becomes progressively easier. And the same goes for life.