I know it’s taboo to apologize for not posting in a while, but it’s been a long freaking time since I’ve posted so I’ve decided that an explanation is in order.

Not only will an explanation make me feel better, the entire premise of any blog should be to serve others (unless it’s a journal), and I believe that my struggles can help other bloggers out there.  I love getting advice from ProBlogger and How to Make My Blog, but sometimes learning from less experienced bloggers can have better advice for me, because I’m in the same place they are.

The biggest reason why I haven’t posted in a very long time – I have no clue as to what direction I want my blog to ultimately go.  Here’s why:

1.  I’m Freaking Busy:  Lame, I know, but I’m not just busy.  I’m really freaking busy.  I have a very active life off the computer.  I am proud to be a husband and father, churchgoer, U. S. Navy Band member, graduate student, and part of other personal activities.  It’s not that these roles in my life take up so much time, it’s just that they take so much of my body, mind, heart, and soul that it’s hard to narrow my focus enough to write a helpful blog post.  This post is about a lack of direction, not time.  I am grateful for the thousands of little things that make my life worth living every day, but sometimes they go by so fast that they’re not in my mind when I’m ready to write.  I desperately need to start a journal.

2.  I’m In the Middle of Major Life Changes:  An obvious response is, “Who isn’t?”  I think my life is a little more unsettled than most, at least in the area of topics I can write about that not too many others are.  Seriously, I learn more and more about fatherhood every day, but a search of “Dad Blogs” turned up 22,300,000 hits.  Not exactly a niche I can just jump into and expect readers.  Teaching is a thought, but I’m an education student, not an experienced teacher – yet.  I have recently become a fan of Zen Habits and Simple. Organized. Life., and have been a Catholic for just over a year.  Since I am already into simplicity, I have been looking into some sort of simple, “zen” practice of my religion, but much has already been written on the subject… in the 1960’s.  Of course, I could continue with my current theme, or create blog accounts for all of the major parts of my life, but that puts us back at number 1.

3.  Seeing Lots of Successful Blogs Can Be Frustrating:  An obivious reason why many do not start writing in the first place.  If I want to be motivated to write, comparing myself to Seth Godin isn’t the smartest thing to do.  I have to remind myself that I am writing to practice writing, and success doesn’t happen overnight for anyone.  It sounds obvious and cliche, but sometimes it’s the obvious and cliche that teaches us the most – That’s why it’s obvious and cliche.

4.  I Like Twitter a Lot:  I’m not saying that I would rather stare at my Tweet Deck all day instead of write.  I was raised to speak my mind in the simplest way possible.  So this reason isn’t really about Twitter, it’s about writing less…. Okay, so one look at this post may make you think that writing less isn’t a problem.  What happens is I either write too little, or write too much.

5.  FEAR:  This should really be number one, but I felt it would have more impact at number five.  Fear is the reason why most people do not do most things.  It’s hard to speak my mind in conversation, because someone is bound to disagree with me, and offer an argument that I can’t argue with, even though they did not convince me that I was wrong.  I’m not the best in those situations (yet).  Now imagine that fear when I speak my mind and post it for potentially billions of readers.  The silly thing about fear is that my record day of readers was forty-eight.  Not forty-eight thousand, forty-eight.  Hopefully my writing will be better when I reach forty-eight grand.

Yes, this blog post is a call for help, but it’s also a call to help.  If you’re a frustrated blogger, please know that there are millions out there that have more than these five reasons why it’s tough to really focus on a blog theme.  I plan on getting through it, and being able to help others through my words.  I actually like these challenges I’m going through.  They make life interesting and fun, and especially more enjoyable.  If having a direction to my blog is one of the struggles in my life, I’m in pretty good shape.

Always Enjoy Life
Zach Ellerbrook

I hope I don’t offend any newspaper or television journalists, but I have become much more happy and relaxed since giving up the news.  Looking back, I have no idea when was the last time I watched it.

Let’s see how this has affected me.  My finances are in manageable order.  I am not in danger of losing my day job, and I’m even starting a new career path with hope instead of despair.  I lock all the doors that need to be locked, but I’m not looking over my shoulder worried if I’ll be the next victim of violent crime.  All in all, I actually feel more independent now than I ever did when I was “well informed.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still get news.  Thanks to Twitter, I heard about the Canadian man that stole an airplane, and was able to have a link to the story.  Now that’s news, but all of the tweets were saying, “Why isn’t this on TV?”  I hate to predict the fall of the status quo of news, but I personally get more of the information I want to get from the internet in many ways.

So my suggestion to you, try it.  After CSI, SVU, or that show that’s taking ER’s spot, turn the TV off.  Read a book.  God forbid, talk with your spouse.  It’s just one of the little things I have actually taken away that has made life just that more enjoyable.

Always Enjoy Life
Zach Ellerbrook

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Never underestimate the power of a good haircut.

I was going to say to never underestimate the power of a bad haircut, but I try to stay in the positive as much as possible.  Not just in my attitude, but in my language as well.

But think about it, really.  How was your mood after a bad haircut?  Now, how was your mood after a good one?  For me, my mood used to be a lot stronger after a bad haircut than after a good one.  In other words, I was always more upset than I was satisfied.  The difference in someone that always enjoys life is that their emotions for positive events are stronger than emotions for negative events.  I would like to say that I’ve been a person that always enjoys life for a long time, but even when I became a real positive thinker, my haircuts were so bad for a while that I just became numb to them (I should have kept going to my hometown barber, but I was too lazy to come back from the city).

This all changed after I visited Frenchy’s Barber Shop in Millington, TN.  I’ve been in the U. S. Navy six years now, and the “barbers” on base were so bad that I had been getting my hair cut high & tight and short for a while.  Okay, okay, maybe they weren’t bad, they just didn’t cut it the way I wanted them to, but I still left the shop feeling like I wasted my money.  That all changed when I started getting my hair cut by Louann at Frenchy’s.  She would take the time to actually do a good job…. She actually cared about her performance.  How often do we see that anymore?

I finally got the guts to grow my hair a little, and Louanne has done an awesome job keeping it look good.  I can look like a Sailor instead of a Marine again!  Of course no offense to our U. S. Marines, but their haircuts look like crap on me.  I actually leave the barber with the feeling that man, I look good!

Sure, at first read, this post can seem silly.  But before you laugh, really think about your mood after visting the barber or stylist.  Good or bad, I’ll bet that your mood is altered after looking in the mirror, at least for the moment.  I’ll also venture that most of you will be talking about your haircut for a little while afterwards.  Of course, how you handle it is up to you, but how you look is up to the barber.  Hope your next haircut is an enjoyable experience, and don’t take it for granted.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

Blogged with the Flock Browser

I like this idea from Jo Jo Tabares’ Communication FUNdamentals blog on Art of Eloquence.  Every Monday, she asks a question and asks her readers to write a blog on it.  It’s a nice way to get people to read each others’ blog and as a bonus, gives me a topic!  Then again, this is a blog on how the little things make life worth living.  I don’t know who I would be without the following story.

This Monday’s question is:  What Is Your Favorite Dr. Seuss Book?

My answer is probably pretty sappy and mushy, and it’s not even written by Dr. Suess.  There are a few books in the Dr. Seuss world that were written by other authors, and this book is Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman.  It’s the story about a baby bird that hatched while his mother was out getting food.  Since there was no one in the nest, he decides to venture out to find his mom, asking a dog, a chicken, and some other animals the recurring question, “Are you my mother?”  It’s not quite the storyline as The Cat In the Hat, but then again, neither is Green Eggs and Ham.

I just remember this book the most out of all the others.  My mom read it to me a lot, and I always liked the part right before the bird finds his mother.  Maybe it’s not exactly “Seuss-ish,” with all the rhyming, but I liked it just the same.  Call me a momma’s boy, I don’t care.  This is my favorite book anywhere (sooooo sorry for that…).

At least my kids are normal.  My 4-year-old is crazy for Green Eggs and Ham.  Let’s see what the 14-month-old goes for…

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

Blogged with the Flock Browser

This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

Do you hit your brakes every time you see a cop?  Do you ask people what you did the night before, worrying about who you might have hurt or offended because you drank way more than anyone should?  Do you tell more lies to cover up one lie?

I’m not asking these questions to call anyone out, I’m just thinking of things that people do to violate God’s commands, when following them would be a lot easier.

I used to risk my life living that way.  Instead of looking both ways before crossing the street, I would just say to myself, “They have brakes,” and just amble on across a busy street.  Sure, I thought I was having fun, doing whatever I wanted to do.  Lying to my parents about what I was up to because I was having “fun” partying all night.

The Bible verse about just really made me look back on my younger life.  I used to be afraid of the life I have today, afraid.  I thought that sitting quietly on a Friday night, writing a blog of all things, was the most boring thing I could ever do (even though there was no such thing as a blog back then).  But you know what?  I’m not looking over my shoulder anymore.  I’m not worried about my manager catching me skimming the register anymore.

I guess my life isn’t as exciting as it used to be, but it’s a lot less work, and I’m lazy.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

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And never take yourself too seriously.

I’m amazed by how serious some people take life, and how grumpy they can be.  I have never, never understood how some people’s general character is that of the ultimate seriousness.  Are they preparing for something?  Do they know something I don’t?  Most importantly, are they happy and content with the life God has given them at any moment?

Maybe I’ve found the secret to life after only 11 blog posts.  Jo Jo Tabares’ Twitter profile (@JoJoTabares) describes herself as a “goofball by nature.”  What a wonderful way to live!  I immediately became one of her followers.  I mentioned how I appreciated her Twitter profile and she explained to me that her daughter has taught her to “embrace her inner wierdness.”  Wow.  Then again, my kids teach me to embrace my inner goofball and they’re only 4 and 1.

As you can tell, wierd may be too strong of a word for some, so I encourage you to embrace your inner goofball.  It may be tough at first.  In fact, it could be a little wierd.  I’m telling you, increasing your ability to be silly can increase your enjoyment of life by a factor of 10 (I have no scientific proof to support this fact, but it sounds like a good number to me).

Do one thing that is goofy today… on purpose.   You’ll be that much closer to claiming with confidence that you enjoy life all the time.  Just like I do.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

Blogged with the Flock Browser

“For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.”  -Alice Kahn

Today I would just like to post a short review on the new Flock browser by Mozilla.  I don’t think it’s really new, but I first heard about it on Sunday, so it’s new to me.  At first, Flock is simply a browser that you can browse the Internet on, but it goes so much further.  Upon my first startup I was asked to enter in my login information to my e-mail accounts, plus popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, You Tube, Flickr…. and many other sites that I hadn’t even heard of.

After logging in to all these sites and importing my RSS feed into Flock, I was ready to rock n’ roll.  No matter what I am reading on the Internet, there is a toolbar in the upper-left portiion that has icons for my social networking sites, media, RSS, and e-mail.  Every time I get a new message or addition to my RSS feed, the corresponding icon glows.

In other words, I don’t check my e-mail anymore.  My e-mail tells me when I have a new message.  I can recieve e-mail and other messages in real time!

That’s the best part about Flock.  I’m able to act much more quickly to those I communicate with, so my life is made easier in making life easier for the people I correspond with.  Not to mention that they have a blog editor.  In fact, at the bottom of this post you will see that I am writing this review using Flock.

I’m not really the best reviewer, but I wanted to sing the praises of this new browser upon my initial reaction.  Plus, I had been getting really deep lately, so I wanted to come back to the little things that make life worth living.

I have no idea who Alice Kahn is, but she’s dead on.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a technology review in a blog about always enjoying life, but a new internet browser definitely falls under the category of small things that make life worth living.  You wouldn’t be reading this if it wasn’t for  the Internet, so a new browser is definitely something I can grateful for.  I have recently gotten active on Twitter, and would have not discovered the Flock browser had it not been for one tweet.  Don’t get me started on the usefulness of Twitter (but you can follow me at @zellerbrook!).

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

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I don’t have bad days.  No really, I don’t.

First of all, how often do you rate your day?  How often do you decide whether today was good, today was not so good, or today just plain sucked?

When you do rate your day, what made it good, or what made it bad?

When I have a bad day, it’s usually because so-and-so did this, or so-and-so did that.  The weather was bad.  I was sick.  I’m sneezing and blowing my nose because it’s a water fountain and I refuse to take allergy drugs (okay, so that’s a current personal complaint).  These are things that are simply out of our control.  There’s nothing we can do about it.

Why would I ever allow something beyond my control decide whether I have a good day or not?

I have good days when I do something for someone else in abundance.  Wait, those are my best days.  I have a good day when I do something for someone else at all.  Sure, I have good days when people treat me the way I think I should  be treated, but that goes back to  the point of this blog post.  To quote an old friend of mine:

“I have good days, and days that don’t go my way.”

So if you have a “bad” day, try to decide if there was something that you could have done to make it better.  Maybe I said something to trigger this person yelling at me (I tend to have a quick tongue).  I probably would not be so upset if I had just let that person cut me off.  Those people weren’t giving me a bad day, they just weren’t behaving the way I wanted them to.

After adopting that attitude towards the external situations in my life, my number of good days has significantly increased… and I have never had a bad day.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Just over fifty pages of one book has proven to me that I absolutely never ever have anything to complain about in my life.

As mentioned before, I have committed to the 1am-2am slot every Friday night/Saturday morning at adoration for Lent.  I had thought about skipping the other night because I had to go to work at six the next morning, but I played the card of, “No, I made a commitment so I guess I’ll go even though I don’t like it.”  I decided that I would bring my own book that night.  Though the time is for prayer and meditation, it’s okay to bring a book, so long as it’s spiritual and not some romance novel or something.

I’ve been meaning to read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and I figured it would be a great book to read, especially in the quietness of our small chapel.  Little did I know how much of an effect it would have on me.

Reading about Frankl’s experiences at Auschwitz was humbling enough (I’ll spare the details), but then reading how he was actually able to rise above the psychological and emotional effects of three years at the most notorious Nazi concentration camp?  Now that’s almost beyond understanding.  Now picture in your mind how I am reading this in a small chapel in the middle of the night and you might be able to understand how moved I was.

When I got home that night/morning, I had the most comfortable three hours of sleep I ever had.  To be able to sleep on a thick pillow, with a plush comforter on me felt like a real privilege for the first time.  It might sound odd at first, but I really saw the gifts of God in my bed, pillow, and comforter.

Dan Miller says that he reads Man’s Search for Meaning about every six months to keep a healthy perspective on life.  I haven’t yet finished the book and I think that I’ll be doing it myself.  You know, my kids just won’t leave me alone as I am trying to write this blog and sure, it’s annoying me.  But you know what?  My kids are annoying me, while I have the privilege to write a blog, on my couch, in my home.  I hope you get the idea because I’m tired of hitting CTRL-I.

So if you are not enjoying life, ALL – THE – TIME, read Frankl’s book.  It gives an entirely different meaning to, “Hey, it could be worse.”

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

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Ever had one of those wonderful dinners from Chef Stouffers or Chef Lean Cuisine?  Would you say that you were enjoying life after you ate it?

I say that there can be immense joy found in cooking food yourself.  It tastes better, it saves money, and best of all, you can customize your meal however you want!

Jamie Oliver has taken on a campaign to get people cooking again, to show them that cooking is “fun, cool, can save you money and help you, your family and friends to live a healthier life.”  He calls it the Ministry of Food, and I’m a believer.

To “Pass It On” like Jamie recommends, I’ll share how I found some yellow, red, and green peppers to add to an omelet, Jamie-style.  I didn’t think I would like an omelet without meat, but this turned out pretty good.

First, I turned on my stove top to about 5 or 6, chopped up my peppers, added a little olive oil to a pan, and threw the chopped peppers in.

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I scrambled my eggs while the peppers simmered in the pan.  Once scrambled, I added the eggs to the peppers.  There’s a neat thing that Jamie does with his fork to make sure all the egg mixture gets cooked.  You’ll have to watch the video, because he makes it really  simple.

peppers_eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After much practice, I have learned to be patient and wait for the eggs to be really cooked before I add the cheese.

peppers_eggs_cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, I got so excited about eating my breakfast that I didn’t take any more pictures!  Watch the video to see how to flip the omelet in half  (it’s really easy with a little practice).  After flipping, I let it cook for about 30-seconds on each side, and just slide it onto my plate.

Keep in mind that I made this… the other day and I still remember it.  I remember my omelet more than what day of the week it was!

So, if you know someone who says breakfast isn’t exactly an experience that makes them enjoy life, invite them over to my place and I’ll make ’em an omelet.

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook