Ride Sharing is Caring

My mother was in town for 3 weeks. It was a fun experiment in getting around town.

As I mentioned before, I was recently in a car accident and my car was totaled. Instead of replacing my car right away, I thought it was the perfect time to try a travel experiment in my life.

A couple years ago I heard about someone who decided not to drive for a year. It seemed like an impossibility for someone living in Los Angeles, but with my current circumstances, it seemed like the perfect time to try this for myself. 

WDW, It Requires People To Make The Dream A Reality!

While walking through the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, my sight was drawn to this shield on a wall surrounding a construction site. It read, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney.

As my birthday approaches, I look back upon this past year and the many years before it, and I am thankful for all the people who have had their hand in shaping my life. There were those whom I shall never know. The ancestors who built their lives and raised their children. Those children repeated the process and after generation upon generation, eventually my parents were born.

My parents meet in college, (I should really inquire about how they met and get the whole story). How much of their meeting was chance? It blows my mind to think about that. Eventually, they get married and several years after, I am born.

I am born into their group of friends, acquaintances and families and we are linked for life. My godparents come from this pool of friends and I see them throughout my life at all the special occasions, including my birthdays. They had children about my age and I wonder where life has taken them since we lost touch?

People flow in and out of each others’ lives. Some are there for a short time and some are there for decades. I realize that it also takes effort on my part to stay in touch. Late at night, I think about souls I have met and I am thankful for them in my life. Some have shuffled off this mortal coil. I think about them the most. Death had a huge impact on me as a child, and I carry those who have died with me in my heart, more than I realize.

I am very thankful for my teachers in preschool, kindergarten & elementary school. I was a rambunctious kid and they had more patience with me then I may have deserved at the time. Their patience really helped to motivate me in school and gave me a love of learning which I still have to this day.

I may have been a dream for an ancestor long past? Of maybe, I am just a link in the chain for a future which was dreamt ages ago? Either way, I strive to live true to the dream I have for myself. I know I can try to do it alone, but why go that route, when I have chosen friends who will walk, run, dance and skip along the road with me?

I thank you for being part of my life and I hope I can help inspire you as others have inspired me. Remember, you don’t have to build your dream alone. There may be more help available than you realize. Sometimes, though, all you need to to is look around and ask!

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Walt Disney World Adventures In January Two Thousand Nineteen!

I love to work! In fact, I consider myself a workaholic! But, several times a year, I book a trip out of state, to force me into another “state” of mind. This month, I’m in Orlando and I also booked a trip to Amsterdam to attend a friend’s wedding later this year in July .

I wouldn’t say I’m a HUGE DIsney fan, but I must say I have a great time anytime I’m at a Disney amusement park. Do I have a Disneyland Pass? Yes! Hmmm… Maybe I’m a bigger Disney fan than I thought I was? So, what am I doing in Orlando? Well, it just happens to be my birthday weekend, so why not travel across the country to visit the Magic Kingdom?

I usually work from sunup to sundown, and maybe a few hours beyond that. It’s coming to my attention that maybe this isn’t the norm for most people. I always, ALWAYS travel with my laptop, so I can sneak in some work when I have a spare moment. An extra bonus about traveling to the east coast, is that I’m now 3 hours ahead of California time. It makes me feel so responsible when I can reply to emails and phone calls 3 hours earlier than normal. It also makes it easier when I return home to hit the gym early in the morning.

I took the redeye from LAX to MCO. I was marveling at the ease of travel these days. In the past, I would beg a friend to drive me to the airport, but now a shared ride service like UBER or LYFT make it super convenient to travel around town.

A friend of mine in Los Angeles always complains about how hard it is to meet new people. I find it interesting that I always meet new people and it usually feels very spontaneous. As the saying goes, it takes 2 to tango, so I know the mathematical equation needs to start with 2 people. Or maybe, it just needs to start with 1 person, and that person is YOU.

I can rely on the OTHER person being open to meeting new people, or I can take responsibility and be in the “vibration” of wanting to meet new people. By taking the initiative, it makes it so much easier, because now I can just be ready to talk to anyone who is willing to talk to me.

Oh boy, this may sound like so much new age mumbo jumbo. I must say that it simply falls into place when I’m in the right vibration. Tonight, after taking the whole day off to wrap up a project, I was pleasantly surprised to meet an outgoing gal and her friends while visiting THE EDISON in Orlando, (which is modeled after THE EDISON in downtown Los Angeles).

My new friend, who shall go by the code name “J” approached me and said hello. We danced a few songs and then I met her friends, and then she met my friends, and it turned into a HUGE dance party. Now, I can chalk it up to coincidence, or I can give credit to my friends and our fun loving attitude and seizing the moment. =)

It’s still the beginning of the year and if you want to meet new friends, the first step, is to be open to the idea of meeting new friends. I consider myself an introvert, but I have learned to be more outgoing by practicing being outgoing. I took baby steps; talking to people in an elevator (which is always fun and potentially against the rules), talking to my cashier in the checkout line (as long as it’s not too busy), striking up a friendly conversation at a bar, or even volunteering time at a local food bank and talking to fellow volunteers. Sometimes, the conversation can be stilted at first, but it gets easier with practice.

Whatever you’re interested in trying more of this year, practice by doing more of that thing. I have found that www.MeetUp.com is a great resource, especially when I’m visiting a new city. If you want to explore the outdoors, join a local hiking group. If you want to start running, sign up for a 5K run. They can usually direct you to local training groups. If you want to explore new dining experiences, join a local foodie group, and if none exists, start your own and see what happens.

Many years ago, I had a dining club in my neighborhood and it was fun sharing my dining experiences with my friends and their friends. By special request, I’ll be starting up my dining group again very soon, so If you’re in Los Angeles, I would love for you to join me.

Good Luck on your adventures!

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Done Is Better Than Perfect

This has been an exciting week for me! It’s the 2nd week of the new year and I’m still (mostly) on point with my 2019 goals and intentions. I’ve read and made my bed daily. I’ve hiked Inspiration Point twice and I’ll probably go again this weekend. My daily steps need some help, but I did log in 24,000+ steps yesterday while swing dancing at Lindy Groove in Pasadena, CA.

I have been voraciously consuming the podcasts from Side Hustle School and I ONLY have 582 more to go until I listen to all the past episodes. Today, while listening to episode 588, Chris Guillebeau mentioned a quote which electrified me. The quote was: “Done, is Better Than Perfect.” A quick google search and the quote has been attributed to, Sheryl Sandberg.

Done, is better than perfect, really resonated with me. As a perfectionist there are many times I find myself frozen when I’m so close to completing my goal or project. Ever since I was a child, I would have a paralyzing fear of not doing my work perfectly. This has been an issue for me my whole life, but when I heard the quote today, I suddenly felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

Currently, I have about 20-25 work projects which need to be completed this month and I was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of time I would need to complete everything perfectly. When I applied the quote to my work, I suddenly realized I could still do Grade A work without the pressure of making it Grade A+ work.

I do amazing work! I’m really good at what I do. That’s not just an idle boast. Because of my perfectionist upbringing, I have really honed my skills over the years. One thing I am very aware of though, is that the time needed to bring a project from great to perfect can be an additional 30-35% of additional time.

Many times, I would look at the competing work in my industry and I was baffled at the projects which would pass inspection. If you compared my projects to similar projects done by someone else, you can definitely see the difference. When my “competition” was getting hired for more work than I was, I was profoundly, perplexed. I questioned one of my long time clients about why I wasn’t being hired as often. He said, “because all I need is a quick sketch, and you’re trying to create a photorealistic oil painting worthy of a classical master.”

In my effort to, “just get it done,” I’m happy to say that I had an idea for a “Side Hustle with my buddy Frank. We were talking about it last year, and I decided to just make things happen. I stayed up late one night and built a prototype for our website with some sample products I thought we could market. Now, to select a handful of products we will actually be selling on our website.

It feels good to have it DONE. Well, in reality, the website is nowhere near perfection, but it’s created and just needs to be refined over the next year. Normally, I would have wanted it to be be perfect before I let it go live. I know I am a work in progress, but I see the value in getting the job done instead of getting the job done PERFECTLY!

Best of luck to getting your work DONE this year. I’m excited to work on www.FrankAndAlan.com this month and to completing at least 15 of my other projects over the next 2 weeks.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Hello 2018! Inspiration Point, Bite Sized Goals & Infinity Abundance!

Hello 2018! I’m super EXCITED for this year and ecstatic about the next 365 days!

For the past several years, it’s been my tradition to hike to Inspiration Point to start off the year with some great exercise and to write out my goals & intentions at the top of this mountain. The view is always breathtaking and the effort to get there is rewarding. It’s not the highest peak in the neighborhood, but it’s no easy breeze either with an elevation gain of about 2,700 feet.

I love that on a clear day you can see Catalina Island and most days you’re looking down at the local clouds. When I arrived, there were 2 other people already there scrolling through their phones, possibly doing the same thing I was there for? It was super quiet and felt sort of like church or a library. I was almost afraid to talk because I didn’t want to disturb the peaceful silence.

I made several goals, many of which had a bite-sized component to them. In 2017, I think I barely squeezed in 4-6 books all year long. In 2018, I want to read 4-6 books a month. This seemed nearly impossible at first glance because I’ll probably be more busy this year than last year. After doing the math though, if I set aside an hour a day to read, I think I can easily get through a book a week.

I love my fitbit because it gives me a fair assessment of how much I’m moving on a daily basis. My monthly goal is 400,000 steps a month with a high end goal of 500,000 steps for the month. Ideally, I would love to hit 100,000 steps a week which is always a great accomplishment. This past week I worked so much, I hit less than 2,000 steps a day several days in a row. (That was slightly embarrassing). I understand it’s more about my daily activity than cramming it all in on the weekends, so I’m setting a 10,000 step goal minimum for each day, but I would LOVE to hit 20,000 steps per day. If I can hit the higher daily goal, I can easily hit my big monthly goal. It’s all about the bite sized activity.

With dancing at last night’s NYE party combined with the Inspiration Point Hike today, I jump started my year, month and week with a 41,000+ step day. I’m excited to get this year’s fitness started.

I love numbers and one of my favorite numbers is the number 8. I love it because it looks like an infinity sign. I am planning to launch 3 new businesses this year and with any new business, it’s probably similar to another business in the neighborhood.

I have really been focusing on the  idea of abundance. There’s more than enough for everyone and if I offer excellent service and quality, then I know there’s a chance to succeed. My focus is to provide the best value possible for my clients. If they win, then I win too.

I love that there’s an “8” in this year. It’s yet another sign to me of a prosperous year full of infinite abundance!

Cheers to you!

TofuAlan

Sayonara 2017

An amazing year of up’s and down’s and now we find ourselves at the final day of the calender year of 2017.

I have an intentions list I read weekly (daily if I’m on point) and I added on some extra goals at the beginning of December.

One of my many goals for 2018 is to learn how to ride a unicycle and to juggle. It’s a little out of my comfort zone, but a dream talent since I was an kid.

Tonight, I was invited to a friend’s NYE party near my home. Although the past 2 years I celebrated new years eve by going to bed before 10 pm, this year I felt compelled to go out in public instead of hiding in my cave.

While chatting with Jon, a new friend at this new years party I attended, I find out what he does for a living and it blows my mind.

He’s part of a physical comedy duo with a performance featuring juggling and unicycle tricks. What are the odds? He’s totally legit too. He’ll be performing at a Lakers halftime show in LA on January 21, 2018.

I tell him about my newest goal for 2018 and with a sly grin on his face, he offers to show me something in his trunk.  We walk to the parking lot and he opens the hatchback of his vehicle and laying there is his unicycle.

This thing is amazing, super tall with extra fancy gears. It’s the most sophisticated unicycle I’ve seen in person. I ask if I can take a picture, and he poses with the unicycle.

As we walk back to the party, Jon asks me what my favorite colors are and if I have a nickname. He offers to send me a free sample of personalized starter juggling balls in my favorite color. I find out Jon also has an online business and sells juggling gear.

Wow! Thank you, 2017 for helping me get started on another goal on my list. 😁

Yet another example of writing it down so it can become a reality.

Cheers to 2017 and welcome 2018!

Traffic + Poker = Taco Man?

I live in Los Angeles, so traffic is a normal way of life when traveling the freeways. This particular day was extremely hot and the normal traffic flow came to a complete stop. I’ll reshare the story of what can happen when we take regular ingredients in our lives and mix them up with a dash or adventurous fun. It’s a fun memory for me and a lesson in creating different results when approaching a situation with a different attitude.

2014-07-26 09.16.32

On Friday, July 26, 2014, I was headed to Orange County to teach dance classes at Atomic Ballroom in Irvine, CA. It just so happened that my usual route along the 5 Freeway from Pasadena to Irvine was destined to be a parking lot for over 3 hours from about 3pm to 6pm that afternoon.

Traffic was at a complete standstill due to a man standing on the ledge of the overpass half a mile ahead. After sitting on the freeway for over 20 minutes, I noticed a guy 3 lanes over fill up his water bottle from a water jug stored in the side of his construction vehicle. Armed with my extreme thirst, a red Solo cup and a box of Triscuits, I walked over to guy with the precious water jug and offered a trade of crackers for water. The man greeted me with a smile, some Triscuits were exchanged and as I weaved between vehicles on a path back to my car, I shared my crackers with my fellow drivers who were stuck on the freeway with me.

Soon, people were getting out of their cars and chatting with each other offering snacks, conversation and even lending mobile phone chargers to fellow drivers stuck in a strange situation on a Friday afternoon.

I had hosted a Fundraising Poker Tournament the week before for The Burrito Project and my poker chips were still in the trunk. I noticed a folding card table in the SUV next to me and proposed setting up a poker game in the middle of the freeway. Within minutes the poker table was being set up including a red table cloth.

2014-07-25 17.01.08Sarah Jung, of Los Feliz, posted a photo of the scene on Instagram. Her picture was displayed on the local Channel 7 news. Someone took a screenshot of the TV, posted a caption about tacos and within minutes a poker game among stranded drivers was being portrayed on the media as a #TacoMan setting up shop on the 5 Freeway.

As the afternoon hours were spent on the 5 Freeway this crew of new found friends shared laughs, stories and posed for pictures which were being snapped by fellow drivers with their mobile phones.

2014-07-25 17.10.01Two young ladies who joined in the fun were headed to San Diego to referee a soccer game the following day. After playing poker, a soccer ball magically appeared and this fun group of people had time to play pass between their stopped vehicles.

Soon after we started playing with the soccer ball, the CHP approached us and relayed the good news that all the drivers should return to their vehicles so we could safely turn our vehicles around and drive off the nearest exit which was behind where we were parked. Within 30 minutes the freeway was cleared of cars and these friendly drivers returned to our busy lives with a story to tell our friends.

When I was asked why I first decided to get out of my car, my first response was, “It was hot and I was really thirsty!” I have been told that I could have fun in a stuck elevator. Whether or not this is true, I know for a fact I can have fun on shutdown freeway.

2014-07-26 17.02.37

Most of this post was reproduced and modified with permission from this original interview: http://theburritoproject.org/fundraising/poker-tournament/freeway-poker-or-taco-entrepreneur

News Article: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-stuck-on-5-freeway-some-played-texas-hold-em-20140725-htmlstory.html

Seven Eleven aka 7-11

Happy 7-11 Day!

These days, most 7-11 stores are open 24 hours, but I’m old enough to remember when they were open from 7am to 11pm.

As a child, I distinctly remember when my local 7-11 changed its operating hours to 6am to 12am. I wondered if the store would be changing it’s name to 6-12? Within a few years most stores expanded their hours and were open 24 hours a day. The brand name 7-11 lived on without changing it’s name. Then I wondered, if they are open 24 hours a day, why do they have locks on the door?

When I think of 7-11, the word Slurpee immediately comes to mind. The Slurpee is amazing frozen, sugary drink which overwhelms my taste buds and causes brain freeze. I don’t drink them as much as an adult as I did when I was a kid, but I do indulge once in awhile.

One of my fondest memories was meeting with my cousin Isaac (who I like to call my best cousin on the whole wide world) on Monday nights at 7-11 after dance class. We would purchase Slurpees and Corn Nuts and crunch, crunch, crunch away and freeze our brains and chat for hours about nonsensical things, much like this scene in Stand by Me:

This may seem odd to most people, but my favorite Slurpee flavor is banana! It’s not available at all locations, but when I see it, I will usually buy a small banana Slurpee. Which brings me to the purpose of this post…

On July 11th aka 7-11 aka 7-11 Day, you can get a FREE small Slurpee between the hours of 11am – 7pm (at participation locations).

Just remember, people LOVE FREE STUFF, so go early to avoid the long lines. Most locations only offer the free small Slurpee until they run out of small Slurpee cups. Most locations offer a discount to upgrade to a larger Slurpee size. You’re getting the Slurpee for FREE, so be a nice patron and purchase something EXTRA. I recommend the Corn Nuts.

Cheers!

TofuAlan