The Power of Not Focusing

Today I downloaded the Forest app for my phone. It’s basically a gamified pomodoro timer. I have used the pomodoro technique to focus on doing things I need to do, but don’t want to do. Then I would reward myself with x amount of time doing something fun. For instance, I would clean for an hour, then reward myself with a TV show.

However, not enough focus is not usually the problem I encounter most often throughout my day. My problem is usually too much focus!

I setup Forest to build a virtual cedar tree, which requires 30 minutes of focus. The biggest value for me wasn’t the focus time, it was the timer that told me to STOP FOCUSING. When that timer went off: I got up, got a refill on my tea, kissed my wife, moved my eyes away from the computer and generally slowed down for 5-10 minutes. It gave me time to appreciate the moment and time to be still with God.

In the afternoon, I did a task that required deep focus which took about 3 hours, and I just went straight through without any breaks. Man, did I feel terrible! My head was killing me, my mood was terrible and it was just genuinely unpleasant all around. I wish I could say I did this on purpose so I could notice the difference between a good habit and a bad habit, but I genuinely just reverted to my normal state of deep focus. Nonetheless, going back and looking at my morning and my afternoon was a very stark contrast.

I am gentle with my failing today simply because showing me how my patterns are making me unhappy and less healthy in a very plain, straight-forward manner was an incredibly valuable lesson as I go into the new year.

2020 - The Year That Changed Everything?

2020 sucked. Lots of death. Lots of grief. Lots of loss. Lots of frustration. But there was a silver lining. For the first time ever, I finished a Bible in a Year plan on YouVersion. I’ve probably tried to do this at least ten times, but never stuck with it. There was always a reason to stop, but if I were to be honest, the reason was always rooted in the fact I have poor willpower (irony, hahaha) when it comes to my personal life. I’ve always excelled at work, but my energy was always sucked dry there.

This year, I took a step back from a job I absolutely loved because I knew I needed to make some changes in how I approach life. Throughout my whole life, outside of work, I’ve been a chronic unfinisher. Discipline has been hard to come by. I’ve always viewed myself as a total failure in life because of my lack of personal discipline, and for the first time, I’m starting to see myself through a different lens, one that I think is more aligned with how God sees me. I’m a very long way away from where I want to be, but for the first time ever, I see a path forward.

I don’t expect 2021 to be an amazing year…but I’m hopeful that it will be a transformative year for me.

Listening

I’ve made it a habit to start listening to my Bible in One Year reading plan rather than simply reading it. Listening is a hard thing to do, and truthfully it’s something I need more practice with. I’ve been doing it for a week now, and while I still have issues concentrating and my mind wanders, I’ve become better at bringing myself back. My prayer is that I will become a better listener to those around me, especially ones who are hurting and need to be heard.

Grief Devotional Now Available

I’m humbled to announce that my devotional, “Sitting in Grief: A Devotional Journey Towards Standing Again” is now available on YouVersion.

I wrote this devotional in the midst of my grief while unpacking what I was going through now, along with various tidbits I had stashed away after the deaths of my mom and my son.

I’m not 100% happy with how it turned out, because grief can hit people in such different ways and there’s so much more to say about grief than can be contained in five days. I pray that it will simply be a lifeline when someone feels like they’re drowning.

If this reading plan was useful to you, please consider filling out this form so I can pray for you.

Another Bucket List Item Checked!

I had the chance to be interviewed by Brandon from Humans of New York, one of my favorite spots on the Internet, about my relationship with my dad as part of the Quarantine Stories series. Check it out!

I’m really happy with how the story turned out, but no one story can encapsulate my dad. He was a wonderful father and I was an incredibly lucky son.

I’ve been working with the American Arachnological Association and I’m happy to announce that the GoFundMe that I started will be going towards the Norman Platnick Award for Arachnid Biodiversity Research. The Norman Platnick Award for Arachnid Biodiversity Research is given for outstanding student oral or poster presentations of research that progresses understanding of arachnid biodiversity through work in systematics, taxonomy, biogeography, or other biodiversity assessments. If you feel moved to donate, you can do so here.

Standard Notes

Just signed up for the extended version of Standard Notes. So far I’m really enjoying it. I really appreciate having multiple editors and the extensibility along with the encryption. It’s nice and quick, which is a must for mobile. I can capture what I need, when I need it, without friction.

The Room

A side project I’ve been working on is drawing to a close, which means I’ll soon have more free-time on my hands. I decided to use some of my free time to relax, so I picked up The Room for the Oculus VR headset and it is AMAZING! As a long-time fan of the franchise, it is everything I hoped for.

Bucket List item checked!

I spent nearly 8 year, wonderful years working to keep the systems that power the YouVersion Bible App up and running. For years, I have had a goal of writing a devotional in YouVersion, and today, that goal came one step closer. I am proud to say I have submitted my first reading plan for consideration! It’s called “Sitting in Grief: A Devotional Journey Towards Standing Again”, inspired by my own dealings with grief in losing my mom, my son, my friends and most recently, my dad.

If it gets approved, it will be in the app in 7-10 business days.

Enchantment Ink Collecting Guides

If you knew my father, Norm Platnick, from the spider world, one of the things you may not have known about him was that his love of research and taxonomy extended to other areas as well. My father was an avid collector of turn of the century illustrated artwork. He actually wrote 27 books about these illustrators to function as field guides and references. He put painstaking research into all of these books and even did all the printing and binding himself to make sure that the color photos looked great. Every single page in his books were individual Microsoft Publisher files, so the amount of time it took to print a single book was monumental. Truly, it was a labor of love.

Shortly after his death, I wanted to help make sure his legacy continued in the collector space. I tried to honor his memory by making PDF copies of every single one of his books and putting them on the Internet, for free. A huge shout out to Cognidox for open sourcing OfficeToPDF, which made this process relatively easy.

You can see more about my father’s work in illustrated artwork at his website, Enchantment Ink

NY Times Obituary

My dads obituary from The NY Times was published last month. Now that people are coming here from the reading plan on YouVersion, I thought it might be helpful for others to read more about the man whom I grieving the loss of.