A Padlet Prompts Me To Reminisce About Driving

My friend invited me to a padlet titled Driver Wall. I decided to add some writing to the padlet wall. Here’s what I shared…

Driver Wall… I like that idea! If I take this literally, I always wanted to drive. In High School, I took a driver’s education class. This class was offered at the same time as the typing class. Driving was important to me as a 15-year-old, so I didn’t mind missing out on a typing class. Besides, I had great penmanship, and my little sister was super fast at typing. When she wasn’t available to transform a blank green monitor into a screen full of glowing letters, my neighbor was happy to type for me if I mowed his lawn or treated him to a burger.

The driving class served me well! I literally ACED the class, and due to the optional extra credit, I was able to complete the class with 150%… How is that mathematically possible? That’s WAY better than an A+! I shared the wealth of information I acquired with my siblings and friends who wanted to learn to drive. Over the years, I developed the skill of patience, so I ended up teaching my friends’ kids how to drive too!

After 3 decades of driving, I drove enough miles in California that after listening to a podcast about a reporter who gave up her car for 6 months in Los Angeles, I decided living without a car in LA would be a fun challenge. I started walking a lot and taking the Metro Goldline when possible. I had to leave earlier for appointments to account for walking and potential delays.

Yes, most trips would have been faster in my car, but I also loosened the tether my car had on me. I had time to discover new coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores as I walked around town. When I took the train, I could people watch, catch up on my ever-growing book list or whittle down my email inbox. Through the magic of slowing down, I actually became more productive. I actually SAW the buildings and shops I whizzed past for years. I was discovering the city in a brand new way.

It’s been 3 years since I took that nondriving challenge. I discovered that even though Uber & Lyft seem expensive at first glance, it was actually cheaper for me to rideshare than owning a car because I work from home. I was able to work or relax while being driven to my appointments, and as a bonus, most of the trips were tax-deductable. Some friends said taking the Uber/Lyft was cheating, but I saw it as a tool. If I were running late, I would rideshare there and take the train back to my neighborhood and walk back home.

When I noticed hailing rideshare was winning out to walking, I got creative and started a savings plan. If I walked instead of taking a $10 ride, I would transfer the $10 to my savings account. Before I knew it, that savings account was growing week after week, and I was happy to get up a bit earlier so I could get in my FitBit steps AND pay myself for walking!

As I write this, we are 5 months into Covid-19 life. I haven’t left my house much. I’m not driving or getting a Lyft around town. Much of my day is spent in front of a computer screen as I ZOOM to my meetings instead of walking or driving to them.

As I think back to high school, when a typing class was an option instead of a mandatory class, I sometimes wonder if I made the right choice? No driver’s education class is needed to walk or hail rideshare, but it sure is DRIVING me crazy that it took an hour to type this when it would have taken me minutes if I learned how to type!

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

My dad is constantly reading, and it’s rare to find him without a book in hand. He will pass many of his books onto me. One book was from a series called The Elenium by David Eddings. The central character was named Sir Sparhawk. He was a trained warrior who was intimidating in his metal armor, sitting astride his war stallion. 

Sparhawk had a habit of greeting everyone he met with the phrase, Hello Neighbor. I liked this habit and adopted it into my lexicon. Sometimes, substituting neighbor for friend or brother. 

Growing up in Southern California, our public access television channel, PBS, aired one of my favorite shows, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers was a war veteran, and like his friend, Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan), they decided to focus on peace instead of war. They appeared as guests on each other’s television shows.

Mr. Rogers’ classic catchphrase was, Won’t you be my neighbor? 

What does it mean to be a neighbor? Webster’s dictionary defines a neighbor as “a person, animal, or thing located near another person, animal, or thing.”

I moved to my current neighborhood about 10 years ago. I feel blessed to be here. I moved into my place in November. If you know me, you already know that I have a tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving Leftovers Party on the Friday after Thanksgiving for my friends & family.

This was the perfect way to welcome my friends to my new home. About 2 hours into the party, my neighbor, Manny, came over to talk about the music level. I asked if it was too loud. He said it wasn’t loud enough and asked if it was okay for him to bring over his big speakers. I liked him instantly.!

The house adjacent to mine was vacant for the first 3 years I lived there. When a for sale sign was posted in front of the house, I was curious who would be moving in. My neighbor Tom is a spry fellow, so full of energy and stories. I love listening to the tales he tells of adventure-filled his life.

One day as I was loading up my car in preparation for an evening event for, The Burrito Project, Tom asked if I needed any help. I invited him to join me, and now he’s a permanent fixture at all our Burrito Project events. 

Tom has a few decades on me but has the energy of someone half MY age. He is usually the one inviting me out for late-night visits to the local karaoke bar. I love this guy. His wife is delightful too. She will knock on my door and bring me a tasty vegetarian meal. I guess they’re doing the neighborly thing and taking care of the single guy next door. 

During the Covid-19 quarantines and curfews, people were losing their jobs. Getting to the store was tricky for those who still had jobs. My neighbors Manny and his wife, Carol, saw a need and went into action. They created a food bank for the neighborhood to ensure everyone had enough food. There is an apartment near our homes, and Many & Carol created food boxes with fresh produce and food staples to make sure everyone living near us was taken care of. As I write this, they have been doing this for over 3 months now.

Even though I’m not really into sports (except for poker), I have helped host the neighborhood Superbowl party. This is a great kickoff for the New Year when all the neighbors get together and enjoy laughter, camaraderie, food, and libations.

I was already grateful to have fantastic neighbors. During Covid-19 in 2020, I have been even more touched by the compassion and generosity of the people who live in my neighborhood. While I was focused on a work project yesterday, Tom asked for my grocery list because he was headed to the grocery store. I am truly blessed!

For some people, a neighbor might be someone who lives near them. For me, a neighbor is someone who is FAMILY! We care for each other; we look after each other, host parties for each other, do favors for each other, and serve our community together.

I have a penchant for sweaters & canvas shoes. I think Mr. Rogers had a bigger influence on me than I realized. I will sign off with a quote from my wardrobe role model. “The greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.” Fred Rodgers, thank you for the quote, your life’s work, and your amazing wardrobe.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Beyond Wealth, Wanderlust & CoinZoom!

With all my EXTRA time during Covid-19 quarantine, I found my to-do list growing longer and longer. I was getting so distracted, but I had so much I wanted to do. Ultimately, I was getting nothing done.

I needed to organize my days, so I allocated specific time blocks for reading, exercise, work, writing, and returning correspondences. Of course, I dedicated 30-60 minutes a day to researching cryptocurrency services & projects.

In my mission to find a company that had all of my favorite crypto services, I was introduced to, Beyond & CoinZoom. I love Beyond’s philosophy of helping people “live their best day ever.” Several years ago, I read a book by Matthew Kelly, and I was introduced to the concept of living as the “best version of myself.” These 2 guiding principles were in harmony, so I decided to explore further.

I know these “doctrines” may sound cheesy, but I love the idea of helping others reach their full potential, just as I am on my very own journey to do the same for myself. It’s easy to live the “mediocre version” of me. Living the BEST version of myself takes consistent, daily work! I’m definitely a work in progress!

After meeting one of the founders of Beyond (via Zoom calls), I realized this wasn’t just a slogan but a guiding principle of the company and its leaders. I decided to explore further, and I became even more impressed with what I found.

Beyond is planning to launch a new digital division called Beyond Wealth, not to be confused with Well Beyond’s health and wellness division. Beyond Wealth is focused on bridging the gap between fiat currencies and the cryptocurrency markets. Beyond Wealth will officially launch on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

What excites me most about this company is that they have everything I am looking for. It’s almost as if Beyond Wealth was created just for me! Hmmm… maybe it was? CoinZoom is their partner, a fully regulated digital exchange, and issues their Visa-branded debit card.

Under the Beyond Wealth umbrella, you will be able to stake your crypto, trade your crypto, and even utilize their AI cryptocurrency trading service called Sigma AI. CoinZoom has a utility token (Zoom Token), reducing the already low fees on the CoinZoom exchange. In my opinion, this is the best place to buy bitcoin. It’s even cheaper than my previous favorite service, CashApp. As a side bonus, I picked up some Zoom Tokens when they were 11 cents. It makes me smile when I look at what they are trading at today.

For those who send money domestically & internationally, the ZoomMe feature allows you to send money instantly and for FREE, from one CoinZoom account to another. Think of all the fees which will be saved instead of using bank wires and companies like Western Union & Money Gram. Once the money is received, it can be spent or accessed through the CoinZoom Visa Debit Card.

When the Covid-19 restrictions are loosened up, and it’s safe to travel again, you can sate your wanderlust with Beyond Wealth’s travel portal appropriately named, Wanderlust. This travel portal allows you to book travel for up to 65% off rates found on the most popular travel sites on the web.

But that’s not all folks…

Beyond Wealth also gives you access to their Velocity Nodes. This is an amazing program that I’m NOT sure I fully understand yet, but be sure I will be studying this in more depth. Don’t quote me on this, but from what I comprehend so far, you can purchase or lease a Velocity Node, and you can earn guaranteed residual monthly payments from companies that need to expand their blockchain network. I’ll share more as I learn more…

Finally, they created the robust, Infinite Success App, which can help you share ALL the amazing products and services that Beyond offers. If you would like to join their affiliate program, this app will be your favorite tool. You can invite people to claim their FREE gifts by joining the Infinity Line for FREE. With a few clicks of a button, you can easily send an invitation to your contacts phone or email.

If you have Facebook and would like to join the Beyond Wealth Infinity Line for FREE, you will receive an upgraded CoinZoom account as well as a Visa Debit Card, which you can use to spend your fiat & crypto anywhere Visa is accepted. As a bonus, you can earn up to 5% back with this Visa Debit Card.

Can you tell I’m excited??? I’ll share more as I learn more… You can read more about, Well Beyond & Beyond Wealth here: CryptoBurrito.com

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Marching Towards Spring And Wonderful Things

Today was a beautiful Sunday! It was such a hectic week that I realized I never reviewed the sheet music for the 2 church services I sing at. Normally, the music is emailed to me on Wednesday to review and rehearse throughout the week. It was never emailed to me. With the crazy week and twice-daily conference calls for the Merchant Services company I started this month, I never followed up regarding the missing email.

I was early on my ride to church, so I hoped I would have time to review my music quickly before the service. As luck would have it, there was no more than a moment for a glance. I’m happy to say we had a wonderful morning of music. My brain was hyper-focused, and I impressed myself with my improved sight-reading skills. I’ve had this position as a music minister for over 6 years, and I’m so blessed to work with such amazing musicians. Plus, my Spanish has improved since taking a job where I get to sing in Espanol.

I have a fun cryptocurrency project I’ve been working on this past week. I was able to collaborate with my partners on the project today. I think tomorrow will bring some great results. Of course, I’m not a financial advisor, but crypto is on sale right now. So is most of the stock market. If you’ve been thinking of investing, this might be the perfect opportunity to go on a buying spree. =)

I didn’t get my daily walk today, but I did get a great afternoon with my family. I saw my baby niece. She’s walking and starting to talk. It’s amazing how quickly kids grow up. I spent time with my dad and my brother at a birthday barbecue. I was able to see both of the LA sisters. I helped my dad with some paperwork and emails to kickstart his week. We talked about some business and prioritized our current architecture projects for the week; ADU (1), Dance Studio, ADU (2), Restaurant, ADU (3) & 2nd Story Addition. That’s a project a day. This is going to be a productive week for us.

This week I have 5 leads and 2 appointments for the merchant services company. I’d love to book 12 new clients this month. That’s 3 new clients a week. I know that’s ambitious, but I love challenging goals.

Cheers to your success this week too!

TofuAlan

Leap Day, Fitness Routines and Merchant Services

Leap Day has always been interesting to me. I had a friend in high school who was born on February 29th. When I turned 16, he turned 4. Who gives a 4-year-old a driver’s license? When I turn 48, he’ll ONLY be 12. His children are older than he is now. maybe even twice his age? =)

Routines are another interesting thing. If we aren’t consciously aware of it, we fall into routines without even realizing it. This year I want to focus on implementing conscious routines into my life. I’ve limited my screen time on my phone. I’ve added more walking into my daily life and even started running again. Lap swimming is next on my list. I renewed my gym membership, so now I can get started swimming in March.

I plan to start journaling too. I hope to blog more often here and on my other websites. Once a week seems reasonable to me. I’m excited to improve my typing skills. Oh yeah, did I ever mention I never took a typing class in high school or college? I’ve been putting off writing because it takes me so long to type with my hunt & peck method. However, I must admit that typing “properly” is taking even longer, but it’s fun to see the letters “magically” appear on the screen.

March is going to be a fun month. Along with starting my swimming routine, I’ll be launching my new Merchant Services Company. Yes, this is not a new business for me, but now I’m going solo with my own office. I had a heart to heart with my former business partner, and he encouraged me to go solo. He’s going to keep all of the customers I brought to the table, so this will be a completely new start for me. Last Friday, my application was officially approved, and I’m ready to start saving my fellow business owners and entrepreneurs on their merchant credit card fees.

Some of you might be wondering what a merchant services company does, so I’ll happily tell you more about it in a future blog post. I’m still thinking up a name for the new corporation that will house the merchant services business. Of course, I’m open to suggestions.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

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. 

Pre-Birthday Musings.

I always thought I would die before I was 21 years old. In fact, I thought I might die before I was 18. When my 18th birthday approached and passed, I was bewildered that I was still alive. I then presumed I must have made a mistake and 21 was my new expiration date.

I had a near death experience at the beach when I was about 9 years old. I was a very confident and strong swimmer, but I was ignorant of how to respond when caught in a riptide. If it wasn’t for a fast-acting uncle, who was also a trained lifeguard, I might have been swimming with the fishes. Or is the expression, I would have been fish food? After that experience, I had a vision, or more likely a dream, or maybe a waterlogged hallucination of future me dying very young.

I have survived 3 major car crashes. All 3 occured while I was at a standstill. The 1st car accident was a hit-and-run which occurred when I was a teenager. I was waiting at a red signal light and a car speeding down the hill didn’t stop in time and knocked me into the intersection where 2 other cars just barely missed me. The car that hit me, backed up and made a right on the cross street to get away from the scene of the accident.

Once I got my bearings and restarted my car, I chased down the car that hit me in an exhilarating car chase and we were finally able to exchange contact information. As it turns out the driver didn’t have car insurance, but my uninsured motorist policy kicked in. My 1966 Ford Mustang was fully repaired after the accident and it was better than new with a shiny new paint job! My advice, always spring for the Uninsured Motorist Policy.

The 2nd car accident occured on the newly opened 105 freeway while I was on my way to teach a swing dance class near the LAX Airport. I heard and felt something out of the ordinary while driving and thought I might have blown a tire. I safely pulled over to the right shoulder of the freeway to inspect my front tires for damage. While I was looking at my front right tire, I felt a wave of light brush over me and I heard or maybe felt a familiar voice say, “get back in the car and put on your seatbelt.”

I’m not one to argue with preternatural voices and feelings, so I did what I was told and got back into my car. As I was inserting the strap into the buckle, I looked up into my rearview mirror and saw an opalescent white Lexus attempt to illegally speed past a slow moving car by using the left shoulder. The driver realized too late that I was already parked on the shoulder blocking his way and he attempted to swerve back into his lane.

He was traveling too fast to avoid my car and as I was watching the approaching Lexus in my rearview mirror (strangely in what felt like slow motion), I locked eyes with him and I could see the fear in his eyes as he struggled for control of his vehicle. I took a deep breath to relax my body and slipped my car into neutral in preparation for the inevitable collision.

He clipped the rear left corner of my car while veering back into his lane sending my vehicle into a clockwise spin. The front right corner of my car (where I was crouched just moments before while inspecting my tire) crunched into the wall to my right. When the car stopped spinning, I was facing oncoming traffic. Several drivers pulled over to help me out of my vehicle and give me their contact information as witnesses to his erratic driving. My car was totalled, but I was able to walk away from the accident without a scratch.

I called my dance partner, who was driving separately, and she was on the scene within minutes. She was crying as my car was loaded onto the flatbed of the tow truck. We were only a few minutes late to teach our dance class, and our client was totally understanding of the situation. My dance partner drove me to the hospital after dance class and the doctor said the physical movement of dancing was probably the best thing I could have done to help calm my nerves and muscles, but I should take it easy the next few days.

The 3rd accident occured on Friday the 13th of last year. I was waiting at an intersection to make a left turn. As the signal light turned yellow and then red, I started making my left turn and a brand new BMW ran the red light and T-boned my passenger side of my vehicle. When my car stopped spinning, I was covered in glass from shattered passenger window and windshield. I remember thinking that it looked like I was covered in diamonds.

I was meeting a new friend for dinner and I was less than a mile from the restaurant. When I called her, she jokingly said the only excuse for being late was if I was in a car accident. When I told her what happened and she finally believed that I wasn’t joking, she asked where I was and was there within 10 minutes. She thoughtfully showed up with orange juice, some juice smoothies and snacks. She shared them with me and the driver of the other vehicle and said the sugar would help with shock.

She waited with me until the police took our statements and the tow trucks towed our cars away. She then drove me to an amazing Korean Restaurant where we were able to finally enjoy dinner. I’m so thankful for thoughtful friends and because I was able to walk away from another car accident I consider Friday the 13th my lucky day!

I am thankful to be able to journey yet another rotation around the sun. Many more than I ever thought I would be able to. I’m excited to add another candle to my vegan birthday cake and use this borrowed time to bring smiles and joy to everyone I meet.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

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