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<editorsnote> Hi, I'm Jen Friel, and we here at TNTML examine the lives of nerds outside of the basements and into the social media, and dating world.  We have over 75 peeps that write about their life in real time. (Real nerds, real time, real deal.) Sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the stories!! </editorsnote>

 

 

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Tuesday
Jul172012

#NerdsUnite: A moment of gratitude & a lesson on escaping depression

We interrupt this post to bring you a sex tip PSA from our friends over at LuckyBloke.com: One out of 4 sexually active people has an STD. (And new statistics indicate that in the next 5 years this will escalate to 1 out of 2.)


I just wanted to take a minute and say thank you to each and every one of you. I haven't been writing about what is going on behind the scenes as much lately, but that is only because some very very very big things are brewing and it is overwhelming me in an extremely emotional way.

Very honestly, I didn't expect to succeed with this website, I was just willing to die to find out. (I shit you not when I say that either. Two failed suicide attempts do wonders for ya psychologically in the whole "not giving a fuck department!") In 2009 I thought there was NO WAY I could launch a website because afterall the web had been around for so freaking long at that point and the so called "experts" had already been established. To have taken this idea that I had one day after seeing a trend at a tech conference and have it grow into this ... thing ... that I still spend half my day trying to figure out makes me grateful beyond words.

I can't begin to tell you how dark the first 24 years of my life were. Look, here's a picture I just found on an old external drive ...

 

Look at those eyes, man - SO MUCH FREAKING PAIN THERE!!!

There is no rule book in breaking free of a depression for every answer you ever have in life is ALREADY inside of you. It's true that no man is an island, but we are SO much stronger than we ever give ourselves credit for and if we are quiet and still enough to just take a listen ... everything will start to change.

My change came about with social media.

I've been on computers since I was 2, but chat rooms and forums growing up were my savior. I never had IRL friends, the people that were supposed to be family were complete shits ... but it was online that I found OTHER people who were friendless and shared all the quirky interests that I had myself as well.

I always felt so alone in life, but it was there in this digispace where I would spend hours and hours and hours connecting with these people who although I had never met COMPLETELY saved me.

I can't begin to tell you how common it is in the nerd-o-sphere to have anxiety, depression, and overall emotional instability. (I learned this after I published the story of my nervous breakdown at 22.) I'm CONVINCED that it is a core ingredient to being a nerd in the first place since we are so cerebral and CONSTANTLY analyzing things ... but I just want to say to the nerderino that is still suffering that it really DOES get better if you make a concerted effort to change.

How does one make a concerted effort to change??

You start doing things that feel good.

It really is that simple ... if it feels good you need to keep doing it. The SECOND it stops feeling good ... you need to stop. Social media felt GREAT to me, and while I had no idea how to make a living doing it, by following each step it lead me down the path to self awareness which then became the path towards my business. I couldn't have the business until I became self aware, so your own journey is your own destination. You can't rush things, you can only stay appreciative for every moment and WALK.IN.BLISS. since that vibration on an energetic level will only bring you MORE bliss which will then help you sustain your existence.

There is no rule book in life, there is no one that will judge you or say you've done this wrong because HOW DARE YOU DISOBEY MEEEEEEE!!! You have to do you, speak your personal truth at ALL times and SHOW UP FOR YOUR OWN LIFE!!!

Your truth will also change as you are on your journey - but the more articulate you become and the more IMPECCABLE you are with your word, the faster the universe will help you manifest.

Of course too, you will be tested along the way. Intimacy is STILL something I am struggling with, however after exploring how much of my life has been an expression of shame - a lot more has come into focus.

It took me getting over that shame to now be able to feel worthy and comfortable enough with this site becoming more public. Things that I have been able to control image wise with this site is going to quickly change, and these stories that I have written FROM MY SOUL are now about to be shown in a more public manner. Does that freak me out? ABSOLUTELY!! Even in talking to my dad earlier today he asked me how comfortable I would be with some of these interviews and the process this journey is going to now take me on. I have no choice but to accept all of this, as again it is part of the process for this brand, but I just wanted to say thank you all so so much for reading and so so much for your tweets and Facebook messages. I'm scared EVERY SINGLE DAY doing what I do, but waking up to your emails and reading your messages keep all of this going and is helping me tremendously get over my own fear of the next steps.

For that I thank you. I thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

I can't believe I am finally this free. Holy shit this actually worked!

#kthxbye

 

Saturday
May192012

#Zombies: Rule 1 - Cardio (a nerd's baseline approach to fitness)

<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Adam. I met him when I ousted him as mayor of his apartment building on Foursquare during my loverly couch surfing adventures. Really great dude, and SUPPEERRR pasisonate about all things fitness. He's here today to give you some tips and tricks on how to get your body in tip top shape. I only have one more thing left to say ... HIT IT ADAM !!</editorsnote>

#TalkNerdyToMeLover's @thekerp

Fitness is important to me on many levels. Sure it’s about physical health, but there so much more to it. It’s about mental health, it’s about poise, it’s about a physical reminder of things that aren’t always so simple to grasp, and above all it’s about preparedness for the zombie apocalypse. It’s also an undeniable part of my past as an athlete. Either way, game on.

My approach to fitness is a bit bewildering to people, sometimes it comes off as stubbornness, or maybe just craziness, and as I try to explain my mindset this doesn’t always get much better. Mostly this consists of me trying to explain that the crazy things I’m doing, plan to do, or have done in the past “aren’t that hard.” That’s about the point I lose people. I suppose it comes off as false modesty, but it’s this reaction that’s made me realize the problem. It’s a problem of understanding how the body works, how the mind works, the relativity of the idea of a “workout”, and really the idea of fitness in general. So I hope can chip away at some of that here, and send you away with a little homework.

Question 1: What’s the point of fitness?

In my mind maintaining a level of fitness is not only relative, but also a matter of understanding the actual meaning of “fitness”, and what that means about your goals. To most people working out, or maintaining some level of fitness, is a chore. I tend to suspect this boils down to a question of “what’s the point?” Going to work out is kinda of monotonous, and it makes sense that it’d be hard to motivate yourself if the idea is just, well, the world says I should do it, so there must be a point. So… What’s the point? Here it is…

The point of general fitness is to keep the body and mind ready for the chaos of life. It’s not about having a lower time in some race, or the number on the weight you lift, or any of that bullshit that people compare to try make one person better than another. It’s about being able to get out of the way of the skateboarder flying at you on the side walk, or bend over and pick up your backpack without having to think about how you pick it up in order to avoid injury. When was the last time you saw any animal in the wild carefully lifting with it’s legs. If you went down to your local gym right now you’d see a number of people that you might think of as “in shape” but their “fitness” is probably pretty poor. That dude may be able to bench press 400lbs, but if he can’t do it standing on one leg then it’s not much use, because most of walking is standing on one leg or the other, never-mind running. So, sorry bro, unless I need you to move a boulder from a cave entrance, you’re probably not much help to me.

Question 2: What is “Baseline Fitness?”

I joke about the Zombie Apocalypse, but that is actually sort of a valid way of thinking about it. If you suddenly had to fend for yourself, while occasionally escaping a predator, how would you do?That’s your fitness level. Believe it or not this is exactly the physical dynamic that the body is built to withstand. This, of course, brings up the first mismatch that makes this stuff so tricky. Society has progressed past what our bodies are built to deal with, we don’t have to run from beasts, and climb trees, and so on, but we still have a body built to store energy when it gets it, run from the predators, and chase down and kill prey. This is why it feels like a chore, because it’s really not that important for actual survival anymore. Unfortunately the physical systems in our body haven’t re-calibrated for this, and they won’t, so if you want to keep the body happy and functioning you have to fake it. This is a fundamental difference between athletes and your average person. Athletes have found a replacement. Whatever they’re training for has replaced running from a bear.

So here’s your first assignment: Find something to run from. Zombies, dogs, your mother-in-law, whatever. But if the shit hits the fan, can you get away from it? Want to get trickier, what supplies can you carry while you’re running? Want to get more Rambo with it, also pick something to fight. A shark, a bear, your mother-in-law, whatever. Whatever you think you can handle now, that’s your baseline, the point of working out is try and make the things you can fight, flee and carry a bit bigger than they are now. But for now just think about it. Think about it when you go up the steps, when you bend over to pick something up, whenever.

Question 3: How do I raise my baseline?

Well, this is the essence of the idea of “training”. But for now don’t sweat where your baseline is. We’ll get there later. First there’s some more stuff to think about…

Here’s the thing: any one human can only ask so much of the body at one time. The ability to adapt from one day to the next is finite. Yet people tend to look at goals they want to reach that, when look at in the face of this look pretty damn demoralizing. To say you want to do 100 pushups, when you can only do 10, 100 seems really far away. Demoralizingly so. We also make the mistake of comparing ourselves to athletes. The point of thinking of baselines is to try and diffuse this frustration.

The important thing to remember is that your baseline is yours only. The idea of ” a workout” is measurement relative only to you. I used to be a competitive swimmer, a sprinter, and our average workout was somewhere on the order of 7-8 thousand meters. That’s roughly 300-400 laps in a 25 meter pool. Sounds batshit crazy right? Well it’s really not. For one, we took years to build the ability to go that far, and once that baseline is there it’s only the last 1000 or so that’s actually hard. I mean, it takes time, calories are burned, it’s work, but it’s not really difficult, it doesn’t really hurt. It’s that last bit that’s causing adaptation. It might still sound nuts, but that’s how baseline’s work, and how awesomely the body can adapt. If it’s used to doing 7 thousand every day, then the workout is only really the 1000 that gets you to 8. It’s that little % extra that will make you stronger the next time. What’s a workout for you might not be for me, and what’s a workout for me is nothing to Lance Armstrong, but that doesn’t mean shit. The point is to push yourself to adapt, the point isn’t some number, it’s that push. And this is the problem with the normal view of fitness. We shouldn’t be looking at where we want our baseline to be as a goal, we should be looking at achieving that extra percentage relative to whatever we’ve got as the goal. If you’ve hit that, then you’re done for the workout, pat yourself on the back. Keep at it long enough and the further goals fall in line.

So we’re back to the thing I mentioned earlier, how much we can ask of the body? It’s actually easier to think of in terms of volume, or water. You’re a jug, and your “baseline fitness” level is the size of your jug, which is also going to control how much water you can put in it. The way our body and energy systems work, and once that jug is full, we can only add a couple more shot-glasses to that jug with every workout. But guess what, that 2 shot glass limit applies across the board. This is the fun thing. You can only add two, I can only add two, and Lance Armstrong can only add two. We can only exert ourselves a certain amount past max, but it’s that little bit that will stretch the jug.

The point is always to look at your baseline, and to make the goal to push just a bit past it with every workout. When you think about it this way you realize that you’re already on a level playing field with Lance Armstrong. Maybe he can ride 100 miles in a day and you can ride 20. But if he rides 100, you ride 20, and join him for the the last 10 it’s going to hurt just as much for both of you. And you’re both going to wake up better the same amount relative to where you were yesterday. And only focusing on that, and knowing that you can only reasonably adapt so fast is how we bring the baseline up.

So here’s your second assignment: I’m still not even going to give you a workout to do. It’s another mental exercise. This one is about reframing your goals. It’s about looking at whatever picture you have on the wall, whatever weight you want to get down to, whatever distance you want to run, and remind yourself that we can only adapt two shotglasses at a time. Me, you, and Lance Armstrong can only do a tiny bit each day relative to the goals our imagination (or our fucking doctors, and that’s a whole different discussion) can dream up. Think about those goals, but focus on the two shotglasses, and think that once you get started those two shots aren’t optional. They’re life.

That’s it for today. See…the homework isn’t even that bad, it’s all in your head for now. Keep doing what you’re doing, but try to think about those new things. Just trying to shift your perspective on those two is extra workout enough. It’s that mismatch of mind and body I alluded to earlier. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for the effort mental tasks take. You might not sweat, but doing these two things will be a hell of a workout for a week.

Any questions!?  Hit me on Twitter (@thekerp).

Good luck!

#nerdsunite

click here to follow Adam on twitter!

Tuesday
May152012

#NerdsUnite: Hey @VirginAmerica- Can you help these two nerds unite?

To whom it may concern at Virgin America,

Hi, I'm @JenFriel and I have two AMAZINGLY AWESOME friends by the name of @zrdavis and @ashleycrowl.

Here they are ...

Ashley is a KICK ASS rugby player that lives in DC and Zach works for a super popular tech blog and lives in San Fran. I travel a lot, so I've had the wonderful opportunity of meeting these two MULTIPLE times and hanging out - but I really really really think these two could be a good match in the love department. Dudes, I did 103 dates in 9 months, and I study social dynamics ... I will say with an EXTREME amount of confidence that I think this is going to work out. The only problem is, like most people right now - they're strapped for cash and can't afford to go visit one another.

So, I was thinking if we could possibly get a sponsored round trip ticket from you guys (and of course we'd blog and tweet about the entire weekend) we can get them to LA (where I live) and they can come kick it for a weekend and get to know one another. TNTML has a super popular base in LA so we'll even throw them a little shindig out here for finally connecting, and we can all see what happens.

You guys are the coolest airline out there, and I KNNNOOOWWW these two are perfect for each other, we just have to get them in the same room.

Want to know a super sweet back story about these two as well? Zach just hiked the Appalachian trail last year and Ashley actually baked him cookies and mailed them to him on the trail. True story. These two are a match made in nerdy heaven, and the sparks that happen in 140 characters is REDIC!!!

 Bottom line what we need: 1 round trip ticket from DC to LA.

(If you're feeling uber generous one from SF to LA would be appreciated too, however, I will personally pay out of pocket for Zach to get down here if necessary. A greyhound bus is only like $60. Sorry it's not as cool as Virgin Zach - but I'm doing the best that I can.)

Please help unite these two nerds, Virgin!!

Thank you SO FREAKING MUCH for your time. It's greatly appreciated.

<3

@JenFriel

And if everyone reading this post can please tweet this to Virgin:

"#NerdsUnite: Hey @VirginAmerica - Can you help these two nerds unite? http://bit.ly/Mh3zfM"

Fingers crossed, nerds!!

#nerdsunite

 

Tuesday
May082012

#NerdsUnite: The journey is the destination

<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Ali. She and I bonded on Facebook a few years back over our love of everything Pete Cashmore. ::SIGH:: so dreamy. She is here today to talk to you all about her new adventure which included quitting her job and hitting the road. Pretty rad right?  I only have one more thing left to say ... HIT IT ALI!!! </editorsnote>

We’re in Spain!  The border change was a bit of an anti-climax.  I didn’t know what to expect but had the passports ready just in case and well…there wasn’t even a sign!  I literally looked at the Sat Nav and saw that ‘Rue’ had become ‘Calle’ and so we must be in Spain.  The weather here is so much better, the sun is almost always shining and we’re spending our days by the sea.  We’ve seen some spectacular sunsets and fallen asleep to the sounds of the ocean.  It really has given us those special moments we were looking for.

It’s not all been plain sailing though.  Today as we went to leave Bilbao, one of our favourite cities, the van wouldn’t start.  If we managed to get it to judder into life it would cut out the instant the foot left the accelerator.  We tried and we tried but no joy so we gave in and called the breakdown company.  Rain started to pour from the sky as we watched the van get towed away and I just felt heart broken.  What if this was the end?  What if the van couldn’t be fixed?  It’s old, maybe we pushed it too far.  I couldn’t help but cry.

We trekked into town with the belongings we could carry and settled down on a park bench.  The amazing thing about living in a campervan is that your home is wherever you want it to be from one day to the next.  The awful thing is that when it’s towed away you’re homeless. 

 

We sat in the park for hours on a rainy humid day, feeling miserable and terrified that this may signal the end of our amazing adventure.  After what seemed like an eternity the breakdown cover company confirmed it was just a broken seal in the fuel pipe and the van should be in full working order by tomorrow.  In the mean time we were to be put up in a fancy 4 star hotel.  So I sit here on a real bed, using the free wifi after a glorious shower wearing a crisp white towel with the world’s biggest grin on my face.  When life throws you lemons, grab some tequila and have yourself a party!

#thatisall

click here to follow Ali on twitter!

Tuesday
May082012

#NerdsUnite: Around the world with @HeatherReusz

<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Heather. She's a nerd who is currently living in Japan by way of Chicago. Yep, talk about a culture shock. She's here today to talk about her life, love (which she is currently balancing long distance) and all things nerd. I only have one more thing left to say ... HIT IT HEATHER!!!</editorsnote>

#TalkNerdyToMeLover's @HeatherReusz

I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks! This past week and a half has been Golden Week which is basically Japanese spring break. I knew that this was my last break before leaving Japan so I wanted to fit in as much sight-seeing and random adventures as possible. I knew exactly where I wanted to go too, Kyoto. As the old capital of Japan, there a ton of shrines and important historical sites in the area as well as some super cool nearby cities like Nara, home to the biggest Buddha statue in Japan, Osaka, with super amazing terrible for you food, and Hiroshima, which was a historical must-see for me. I won’t tell you all of the details but suffice to say it was an amazing trip that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I will share with you my favorite day of the trip though. It all started with a sudden change of plans. I was going to spend the day seeing the Golden Pavilion and Kiyomizu temple. However, that morning was cloudy. I wanted to be able to see the Golden Pavilion in sunlight to get the full effect so I hopped on a different train last minute to a temple called Fushimi Inari. Some of you other hardcore Japan nerds may know this temple as the one with thousands of tori gates in a row. It’s featured in plenty of animes where the main character runs through the winding tunnels of crimson gates. It was definitely on the top of my list of places to see in Kyoto. Once I got there, I started reading the guide book and stopped dead in my tracks. The gates all lead up to the top of a mountain. Cool. Except that I was nowhere near dressed or prepared to handle a two and a half mile hike up a mountain. I’ve gotten really into Japanese fashion. Anyplace where it is socially acceptable and encouraged for you to wear a black mini skirt with knee high socks, heels, and an oversized shirt is totally awesome in my opinion. So there I was staring at the gates up the mountain with my heels on and no water. I decided it was just time to put my big girl pants on, suck it up, and do it. I didn’t come across the country to NOT do this hike.

It was well worth it. There are no words that can describe how beautiful and peaceful it was on the path. When the sunlight hit the tori gates in just the right way, they shimmered. I swear I can understand why some people say it’s a path that can lead to inner enlightenment and peace.That’s not to say it was easy though! It was very hot. I huffed and puffed my way up taking frequent breaks. My legs ached for days but it was all worth it.

After my exhausting hike, it was only about 1 o’clock so I couldn’t very well call it a day. I took the train back, napping the whole way, to get to one of Kyoto’s most famous temples: Kiyomizu. It’s mainly notable for the fact that the whole thing was built off the side of a cliff using no nails in the construction. It also has a famous spring that people from all over Japan flock to drink from. Taking a drink for this spring supposedly grants you a wish if you wish and pray hard enough while drinking.

I was totally surprised by the size of the main temple off of the cliff. It was almost unbelievable that this thing was standing and stable let alone that no nails or anything like that was used in the construction.

There was a long line to get to the spring but I waited patiently to get my wish granted. The water from the spring is pumped into three overhead rivers. It comes down almost like a waterfall next to a platform. When it’s your turn to drink, you have to take this metal cup attached to a long bamboo pole to catch the water and then drink what you got out of your hands. I was surprised by how strong the water flow was. I almost lost my grip on the cup. Then there was the difficulty of trying to fish it back onto the platform without hitting anyone else. I got about three handfuls of water in my cup. Hopefully my wish will come true after all that.

After my fun afternoon at Kiyomizu, I headed towards a nearby shopping district: Gion. Gion is most famous for how well preserved it is. The shops and restaurants are very reminiscent of Kyoto in its heyday as the capital. The reason I was really interested in going though was because that’s one of the only places in modern Japan where you can catch a rare glimpse of geisha. I’ve been fascinated by the geisha culture and profession for many years now. Before you even ask the question, geisha are not prostitutes. That’s a myth that was really reinforced in post war Japan when prostitutes would dress in gaudy kimonos and paint their faces white to attract foreigners who came looking for “geisha”. A true geisha is a living piece of art. Literally, that’s what geisha translates to. They are trained in all traditional arts from dance to tea ceremony to conversation. They are the perfect hostess. It takes a lot to become a true geisha. It is a very respected and revered profession.

In the modern world though, it is slowly becoming less prominent. I knew the odds were against me to have a geisha spotting but I patiently strolled to streets seeing if I could catch a glimpse of one heading to an engagement. Lucky as I was, not only did I see one but two. They were hurrying along the street to get to their destination. A couple of people approached and asked for pictures but they continued on ignoring them. I thought I would give it a shot as well. I approached and tried my best in my stumbling and broken Japanese to ask them for a photo while bowing just to show how passionate about this I was. They got a kick out of it and said sure. So to these two lovely ladies: Thank you for making my life!!!

#nerdsunite

click here to follow Heather on Twitter!