It’s Been Awhile…

When I first started this blog/website way back in 2006, my intentions for it were for it to be some sort of online business.  Seven years later and I have not earned a red cent from this blog.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t really tried that hard, but that’s mostly due to my various medical conditions stemming initially from a brain tumor I had about 10 years ago.  I get bad eye strain from typing for too long, and writing 1000+ word blog entries just didn’t seem appealing at times, and I didn’t really have anything valuable to share, at least nothing original.  But then again, there are hardly any original ideas out there anymore.  Everyone is a collection of everyone else’s ideas and thoughts.  I’ve heard from someone that most people go through their entire lives without having an original thought.  Isn’t that pathetic?

For the past six months or so, on and off, I’ve been going through Steve Pavlina‘s archives.  I started way back in 2004, and now I’m somewhere in the late 2008 phase of his blog.  That man is a true legend in the blogosphere and in the personal development field.  For me, he’s the person who started me on the right path after I was expelled from college for doing things that I would describe as bullying and passive-aggressive behaviors.

Now I’ve got a job that pays decent enough, I’ve saved over $26,000 in the past 4 years, and I can genuinely say that I’m happy where I am in most aspects of my life.  Sure, I may work the graveyard shift, and I may not always feel my best, but I definitely feel my life is far more under control than it has ever been before.  I enjoy the one person I work with each night, and there have been many that I have worked with.  I’ve accepted my disabilities and my limitations, and people who know what I have been through consider me a miracle, an inspiration to others not to give up.

For those of you who do not know, I had a pineal gland malignant germinoma, which resulted in me going through a very traumatic brain surgery, where the surgeon actually separated the two halves of my brain in order to pull out a piece of my tumor to see what kind it was.  It was a 9-hour affair.  I’m just glad I was out for all of it.  They took the back of my skull off my head and went all the way into the center of my brain to pull out what I believe was a few pieces of my tumor.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have to go through it.

After that ordeal, I had 30 days of radiation treatment, 15 days which were whole brain radiation, and the second 15 that were targeted radiation treatment to specifically melt the rest of my tumor.  I was 16 years old when I had the surgery, and 17 when I had my radiation.  It was one of the hardest challenges of my life, and it has affected me in oh so many ways, both positive and negative.  Sure, I might not have a college degree or a high-paying job, but I can say for anyone who is going through a similar experience that I never, ever gave up.

I am in no way perfect, but that’s not the point, now is it?  I’ve simply done the best I can with the cards I was dealt.  At least I have a supportive family who will stand behind me.  And I’ve got tons of interests in various things, including the nature of reality, reading (audiobooks mostly), writing from time to time, music, comedy, David Icke’s material, healthful eating, meditation (to the degree I can focus my mind), raising my level of consciousness, personal development, and others I can’t really think of right now.

Mama always said that God only gives people the things they can handle.  I guess God thought I could handle brain cancer.  I’ve only met one other person who has ever had a tumor in a similar part of the brain, and he had a far worse cancer than I did.  My type of cancer and its location were one in a million.  And I was born with it, and it slowly grew up until I was about 16, and that’s when it started pinching off a ventricle in my brain, causing headaches you can’t even imagine.  It’s been a long journey getting back to where I feel like I found a job I can do and have been doing for close to 4 years now.  As for making money from this blog, it’s not a pressing issue, although the extra income would be nice.  I’ll have to give that some consideration in the near future.

Peace out, world.

How to Build a Low Traffic Blog

I’m sure I can write a coherent article about building a low traffic blog because I’ve had one for around 4 years now.  Let’s not play dumb and pretend that my traffic is sizable.  It is not.  Check out my Alexa ranking.  Right now it is in the 5 millions.  I was actually surprised to see that because before it was in the 6 millions.  So I guess I’m moving on up.  My website is viewed not very often, I assume.  If there are 5 million other websites getting more traffic than me, then perhaps I’m doing something wrong.  Or maybe it’s just that people would rather read more established websites.  Perhaps my content has not been constant enough for the average reader.  I’ve talked about way too many different things on here, but that’s who I am.  I’m not a robot who only wants to write about one topic and stick to it.  I like to mix it up and go through phases, such as my anarcho-primitivist phase where I blasted humanity big time for probably about a year.  But I always said there was a better way to live and there is.

Let’s take a look back at the history of this blog.  I started this blog sometime in 2006 to make money and eventually be able to live off of it.  That was my primary intention.  I wanted to help people, too, just make money as well.  I figured that I’m a pretty good writer, and I have ideas about things, so why not offer them to the general public?  So I did.  Within a year, I bought my first domain name and went from Blogger to WordPress.  I did okay with traffic for a little while, mostly because I was posting on topics that people actually wanted to read, like Personal Development and comedy.  It was a time when I was starting to truly build a small, but sizable following, and my ranking was somewhere in the 1 millions.  I still hadn’t made a dime from this site, but at least I was getting somewhere in terms of success.

Then I started really enjoying nature and started reading stuff about simplifying my life and how we humans are destroying the Earth, which is still true regardless of how few people want to hear it.  I got my inspiration from people like Dave Pollard and Ran Prieur, both who run pretty successful websites, at least compared to mine.  Dave Pollard has been running his blog since 2002 and Ran Prieur’s website has been up around just as long.  I totally resonated with what they were saying and jumped on that bandwagon pretty quickly.  And I still feel this way today, to a point, but the more I rant about it, the more people don’t want to read it.  I know the old adage that people will listen when they are ready and only when they are ready, but the planet is dying, for God’s sake!  And there isn’t much being done about it.  But that kind of talk still falls on deaf ears I guess, or maybe, just maybe, people are so entrenched in their current way of life that they would rather die than give it up.

Finally, I started talking about stuff like who are we, and what is reality?  I guess that’s what caused my traffic “spike.”  I’ve been steadily increasing in traffic for the last few months, although it is a small increase.  I’m still not an A-list blogger, nor do I think that will ever happen with this blog, mostly because my past entries are way too chaotic and I don’t have a good framework for high page views.  I tried installing plugins like ‘Related Posts,’ and it ruined my site until I was able to remove it.  It caused all the blog entries to become incoherent lines of code.  I have no idea why all the sidebars disappear when I click on just  one entry and read it.  I am clueless when it comes to computer programming and I hate it with a passion.  I’ve never been a fan of programming, and I don’t think I ever will.  It’s just so tedious and exacting.

I wish I had the work ethic or the programming skills to make this website better, but I don’t.  I wish I had someone to do it for me, but I don’t.  I am thinking of creating another website so I can start over from scratch, but without my name attached to it, so that way maybe I can rebuild some traffic and have mostly articles I know people want to read.  Not only that, I want to create a website that is much more technically sound than this one, and I have to learn all these skills before attempting this.  I want to still keep this website, but as a secondary one.  I’ll still post here semi-regularly, as I have for the past 4 years, but it will be less of a disappointment if I can get another blog off the ground where I can actually build sizable traffic.  It will be a whole new format, a whole new platform for me.  I won’t be linking to it from here.  I’ll be promoting it elsewhere, far far away from the stigma of a low traffic website.  It is going to be completely original because I know exactly what it is I want to do with it.

I’m going to have a central theme on that website.  It will be unavoidable.  But I’m not ready to actually create this website yet.  I might just create a free blog and post there for awhile until I figure out exactly what it is I want to do with this new direction I’m taking my blogging.  I’m going to learn from the mistakes I made on this blog, albeit 4 years later.  I’m going to market it better, have a bigger following, and create truly meaningful content.  Maybe I’ll even make some money from it.  That would be nice.  Because this website has made me nothing, even when I had ads on it, and I’m so anti-advertising that I would balk at even placing an ad in the corner.  I won’t make a dime without traffic, so that should be my main concern, and creating and delivering unique and valuable content.  Content that has high social value and high personal value.  I’ve often thought I mostly blog on here for myself and whoever might want to read it.  But perhaps I’ve been doing it all backwards.  I don’t know, but I sure as hell have a great example of a blog that hasn’t really blossomed the way I hoped it would and it is nice that this failure of a blog will be here for years to come.  It will be a good example of what not to do with a blog if you want to make money from it.

Here is a list of things I have done that I suggest nobody does if they want to build a successful, high traffic blog:

  • Not having any central theme whatsoever
  • Not posting with any regularity
  • Creating content that you know is not your best
  • Ranting and raving about the same thing for over a year
  • Not knowing how to make your website have all the neat blogging gadgets
  • Being afraid to offend anyone
  • Taking all negative feedback seriously
  • Writing about things most people aren’t ready to hear
  • Not optimizing anything or marketing whatsoever
  • Thinking that blogging will be easy
  • I hope you get the general idea…

I know that some people like this blog, while most either don’t like it or don’t know about it.  I’ve received tons of feedback, most of it positive.  My next website will not allow comments.  Why?  Because I don’t want to spend my time moderating them.  I still like this blog, I’m just admitting that it isn’t successful.  And that’s okay.  I’m not willing to say that it has been 4 years wasted.  I have shown flashes of true brilliance on this blog and I can’t deny that.  I just didn’t always have brilliant posts and some of them were simply too similar to the previous posts and that is where I think I lost a lot of people.  But that’s fine.  I’m going to start fresh soon with a whole new blog and do my best to correct the mistakes I am aware of and try to find the mistakes I am still unaware of.  Just scan the archives to see what the progression of a long-term low traffic blog is, because I am a prime example.  At least I admit it and at least I am trying to learn from it.  My next blog will be at least a little better and I can move on from there.  Maybe by 2020 I’ll actually be earning money from a website, or maybe from a book I write.  Who knows?

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Brain Tumor Experiences and Inspiration

Brain cancer sure takes a lot out of you.  I’ve been cured for seven years and I still can’t exercise without having to take pain medication afterwards.  My eyes and head flare up at the first sign of cardiovascular activity.  That is what happened today.  I figured I would go for a walk for about 30 minutes.  I hadn’t gone for a long walk in awhile, but I just wanted to see if I had progressed at all in the exercise field.  Sure enough, about halfway through my walk, which was not a brisk walk, just a garden-variety walk, I noticed pressure behind my eyes and a general overall headache.  I had to keep walking or I wouldn’t get back home.  So I kept walking and now my eyes feel really stiff and strained.  I guess I should really get to accepting my limitations.  But I want so badly to be able to exercise.  It seems we have a catch-22 here.  I don’t have problems if I walk a short distance slowly, but any strenuous activity puts me feeling much worse.  I guess it is the price I paid for having brain cancer and this has been a constant for seven years.

Being a brain cancer survivor comes with positives and negatives.  There are things I probably will never be able to do again.  And there is wisdom that I have gained from this experience.  I no longer sweat the small stuff.  The small stuff is inconsequential to me.  It has made me into more of a big picture type of guy.  It has made me think all the questions of why we are here and what consciousness itself is.  I’ve had a lot of time to think about so many things concerning the nature of this reality.  I’ve been able to read online via ReadPlease2003 (to prevent any further eyestrain) thousands of articles about a variety of topics that I have an interest in.  While it is extremely difficult for me to read pages of a book without experiencing pain and eye strain, I have the whole Internet at my disposal.  Life has not been easy, but there is always some way to adapt.  I’ve heard stories of blind people using the Internet using a program called Jaws.

I’ve maintained a full-time job for about a year now.  I have benefits and vacation time.  I work the night shift, mostly because it is easier for me on so many levels and I don’t always have to be 100%.  It’s easy to fix up shelving and take care of the occasional customer even if I’m not feeling my best.  It is a job that I can do with the conditions that I have and it has worked out very nicely for me.  I always get great reviews from my boss and supervisors.  I am even en route to becoming a supervisor.  So, I’m making decent money and working full-time, which is a hell of a lot better than I thought my life would turn out after all the problems I’ve had after cancer.

I have had periods of months where I was in severe pain in my eyes and head 24 hours a day with no relief in sight.  I have been discouraged, depressed, and frustrated to no end.  But I always seem to come out of those periods to a functional existence.  If I push myself too hard, I will pay for it for at least a couple of days with severe headaches.  My tumor is gone, but for some reason, my brain never healed completely.  I have a dural leak in my brain that is very vulnerable to opening after any strenuous activity.  Life has not been easy for me these past 8 years.  But I’m still standing.  I’m still strong.  This has to be the best year I’ve had since I was 15, which is saying quite a lot.  That was before I had the tumor.

Now that I’ve got all this positive momentum going, a lot of times I want to push myself harder, but every time I do, I pay for it.  So I just ride the wave I’m riding.  I wish I could do more, but unfortunately, unless I want to totally destroy what I’ve got, I need to play it safe when it comes to doing things.  I need ample time for relaxation.  I need to get good sleep.  If I don’t, the same rules apply as when I overwork myself.  I feel kind of fragile for someone so young (24).  But, like I’ve said, I can’t change what happened to me and it has afforded me benefits as well.  I inspire others by my actions.  I overcame something that was potentially fatal to become a productive member of society.

I just thought I would write something that shows how I live after brain cancer.  It may not be all roses, but at least I still have my mind and for the most part, my overall health.  I could have had a relapse and more radiation or even chemotherapy.  I can say that for what happened to me, I’m pretty damn lucky.  I could have ended up in a nursing home if they botched my 9 hour surgery.  The surgery where they actually separated both halves of my brain to get to the pineal gland to extract a piece of the tumor.  My headache seems to be subsiding now due to Fioricet.  Thank the Lord for that.

I think somewhere down the road I’d like to become some sort of motivation speaker for cancer patients.  Of course, being humorous in my speeches is second nature for me.  I’ve got plenty of material.  I want to show people that yes, there is life after cancer, even if it isn’t always easy.  The fact is that you survived.  You beat the odds.  You are living proof that cancer can be contained.  It may be hard to eradicate cancer, but the rewards are timeless.  Your perspective will change dramatically.  If you’ve beaten this, what else can you overcome.  What else can you accomplish?  Your fear should no longer hold you back.  If it isn’t life threatening, then what are you so afraid of?  You’ve beaten cancer, so you can do anything.

My speeches would go somewhere along those lines.  I know that my calling is to raise people’s awareness and allow them to become who they feel inspired to become.  It may not always be possible to become what you most want to, but to not even make the attempt is foolish and cowardly.  I know that we all could become greater than we are just by committing to becoming a better person each day.  Small steps or large steps, you decide.  We can all move away from fear and towards love just by deciding to.  And what an amazing world we will have once everyone is on the love side.  Imagine a world without fear.  Imagine how wonderful such a world would be.  That is my ultimate goal.  It would be paradise.

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Who am I?, Part 4

I figured, what the hell, I’ll post another blog entry.  Since I’m not working tonight, it makes sense since I’ll have no time constraints other than my will to go to sleep.  This reality is certainly interesting.  We can only take so much of it, then we have to sleep.  We finally get to take a break, but sometimes we even have to work during our sleep, like when we are dreaming.  Mitch Hedberg had a great line when he was still alive about dreams and sleep, “I go to sleep so I can rest, but then suddenly I have to build a go-cart with my ex-landlord.”  Or take the quote from Steven Wright, “I have to be in bed by 1 AM, because my dreams start then whether I’m asleep or not.”  Of course, these are paraphrased, but they relate to what I am going to talk about today (or tonight for those of you keeping score).  I want to talk about how dreams and reality have  a close relationship and how it could be entirely possible that we are living in a dream world of our own imagination.

Since this idea cannot be proven wrong objectively or subjectively, you have to assume it could be true.  How would you know otherwise?  If you knew your entire reality is nothing but a dream that “something” is having, with you being the first-person view, what would that mean for you?  Would you live this “dream” any differently than you life your current life?  Would certain pressing issues cease to matter at this point?  Would fear even be a problem?  Would you change your outlook on life to one of wonder and curiosity?  Or would it be the same old thing?

It’s interesting that when we are dreaming, it is very real to us.  We feel emotions that correspond with the dream events.  No matter how ludicrous the situation, it is plausible in the dream, as long as we don’t realize that we are dreaming.  Once we realize we are dreaming, one of two things happen.  We either wake up or become lucid within the dream.  I have had a couple of lucid dreams, maybe 5 total in my lifetime.  I could fly, and do crazy unimaginable things just because I knew it was a dream.  The excitement of that caused me to wake up.  Back to reality.  Or was it?  I have had a dream within a dream before and woken up out of the second dream and was still sleeping, but awake in the first dream.  Waking up within the dream felt really real to me, so for me it is entirely possible that this reality is nothing more than a really, really long dream.  Whether or not I know this to be true is not confirmed, but it is certainly in the realm of possibility.  And it is certainly something worth trying, at least for awhile, to see if it empowers or disempowers me.

The very truth is that we do not know for sure what the nature of our existence is, so we get to fill in the gaps with different beliefs and thoughts.  Keeping an open mind and adopting a belief like this is yet another experiment that could yield much better results than you are getting now.  It’s not like I’m going to go buy 50 puppies and just let them live in my house, or even build a go-cart with my ex-landlord, but being in this dream mental state, it makes reality that much more interesting and creates more and more curiosity.  I believe it was the Buddha who came up with the idea that life could be a dream and that it was a powerful way to transcend fear.  If everything is a dream anyway, what’s the harm in trying something new and failing at it?  There is truly nothing to fear, not even fear itself, once you’ve transcended it.  So if that is the only thing holding you back, it may be wise to try this way of living for awhile.  Just out of curiosity, if nothing else.  It will certainly make your normal days that much more interesting.  Imagine trying to interpret your life as you would a dream.  Talk about mind-bending…

I’m just trying to get to the core of who we all are and whether or not we can decode this reality to its very nature.  There are so many stories you can tell about reality and why we are here, but it makes more sense, at least to me, to come up with an answer that fits me and my understanding, while at the same time remaining open to any thoughts and ideas that may enhance what I already believe to be true.  Lao Tzu once said, “I had a dream I was a butterfly and now I do not know if I am a human who dreamed I was a butterfly or if I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a human.”  Food for thought.  Because we don’t really know for sure what is real.  Sure, things feel real and look real, but even that can be manipulated by stimulating the brain in certain ways.  We are the imagination of ourselves.  That’s what Einstein proved.  ”Matter is reduced to nothing but a slow moving vibration.  There is no such thing as death.  We are the imagination of ourselves.”  Bill Hicks does a great joke on that.

I’m just trying to open doors and not close any windows.  For example, recently the numbers 9:11 have appeared in my reality almost every day.  Some call 11 a wink from the universe.  Others call it a nod.  Some people deny what they are seeing and pass it off as coincidence.  But when these things keep showing up, what are you to do?  Cling to your objective framework and deny that there may be something more?  Or ask questions why these things are happening?  Perhaps there is a deeper meaning to all of this.  Perhaps this is a dream, but that doesn’t make it meaningless.  Perhaps this reality is manufactured.  We don’t know.  But that doesn’t change what we experience.  To us, it’s real.  We cannot deny what is right in front of us.  Our experiences are what make us who we are.  Also, how we perceive our experiences, which is what I am working on now.  I encourage you all to do the same.  Whether you want to experiment with a dream-based belief or some other belief about reality, try it out, see how it fits.  It may just be your size.

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