Life Of Riley Playlist

hatspringbreak2015-150x150Today’s prompt is: Put together a a musical playlist of songs that describe your life, including what you hope your future entails.

It’s a good start. These say a lot without even including lyrics. How can one possibly include them all?

If the House is Rockin Don’t Bother Knockin – Stevie Ray Vaughn
I Go On – Kyle Adem
Our Lady of the Well – Jackson Browne
Strength – The Alarm
These Days- Jakson Browne
The Difference – The Wallflowers
Not Dark Yet – Bob Dylan
Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel
Cruel to Be Kind – Nick Lowe
The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel
Fatal Hesitation – Chris Deburgh
Amor – Cristian Castro
Wonderful World – Louie Armstrong
Moon River – Henry Mancini
See Me Through – Rascal Flatts
Too Late to Apologize – One Republic
When the Rain Comes – Third Day
Losing my Religion – REM
War of my Life – John Mayer

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mix Tape.”

Half-Popped Kernels

IMG_4747.JPGKernels at the bottom of a popcorn bowl taste better than the popcorn itself. I’ve often thought about enterprising a product that is them alone, no regular popcorn. Perhaps it’s the truth they are the origin of popcorn goodness that resonates with me as I eat them. Maybe it’s the crunchy texture I feel when I bite into them. Then again, there is the danger factor. There’s that possibilty I will break off a tooth. I’m not, by the way, talking about unpopped kernels. Eating those would be tooth suicide.

These are the ones that are half-popped. You can see the white yellow softness pushing out the prison bars of the kernel skin. I’ve loved these ever since I was a child. They are truly an amazing snack from nature. It’s weird though, some popcorn bags don’t produce them. In fact I have found the machines and stove methods will produce more of these half-popped kernels than microwave. Kernels are the start of things, sometimes halfway there is tastier.

This post is in response to the prompt at Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

My Starbucks “Blog Office”

online-diarist-at-starbucks-150x150I make sure I have everything I need in my satchel before I head to my Starbucks blogging office. It’s my blogging couch away from couch and I love the atmosphere so it gets me inspired to blog. Of course, the Cafe Misto does the muse good as well. I have all sorts of blogging tools I use there to help me get “in the zone.” I can choose from 4 input sources: my iphone and a folding keyboard, my Windows 8 tablet using their free wifi. Be careful because not all Starbucks have working wifi. Having a bluetooth keyboard for your iphone is essential to avoid a buzzkill. I was using the wifi at the Adelanto Starbucks for the longest time when one day they just decided to let it lapse and I was left with no way to blog that morning. They still haven’t fixed it, now weeks later.

image5-320x214I have a large bulky laptop I can use but it won’t fit in my satchel. I rarely use it at Starbucks. The last thing I can use is an iphone 6 keyboard. I use the iphone 6 plus which is about 1/3 the size of an ipad. I love it! It’s a must for a blogger in the field. It can be used on my lap if that’s more comfortable or if tables aren’t available. I recommend at least 4 options like these. One day they may figure out a way for me to blog while driving with Google Glass. I’ll be right there to buy it when that happens! I told d_at_starbucks-320x320my daughter, who is big into writing stories, that one day when she is in her 20’s or 30’s they may have a way to read my thoughts onto WordPress. When that happens, I hope I’m still around to try it! You might think it wouldn’t take that much time to blog. Trust me, I waste all sorts of valuable time doing it. It’s wonderful. You’ll see me searching ideas, cropping photos, using photoshop, taking photos, paper and pen journaling, etc. So there you have the technical blueprints of blogging from the field. Now for the aesthetic appeal.

17100500711_5465efa782_k-150x150Entering “my Starbucks office” I take a deep breath of that coffee aroma. It’s corporate but still a local “coffee house” like Ben Franklin wrote about. I feel historical inspiration from that. It’s an earthy place where big thoughts are fleshed out into sentences and semicolons. I find a seat I like and set up my blogging writing business. These days I average about $150/month but there was a time when I used to do sponsored posts that I made as much as $500/month. I like how I do it now: I write whatever I want and get paid for it. It took me a lot of years to operate that way but it’s the best situation I’ve had since starting in December 2005. relaxation beach hutThat is the place I get lost, in a good way. An hour, 2 hours, half the day will pass as I am composing across three blogs. Recently I have syndicated all of them into this blog called “Riley Central.” It’s where all my online stuff comes together. For those who don’t know, my blogs are related to teaching, diary keeping, a Tumblr, and prose (like this). In addition, you’ll find my statuses, photostatuses, link statuses, and flickr photos here. Updating this blog at Starbucks is one way I get lost and caught up in bliss. This Summer I’ll be blogging from the beach as well.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Zone.”

Empty Classroom Lingering

Damien Riley classroom setupI’m a teacher and that’s unfortunate as a blogger because sometimes the experiences I find commonplace, the general public doesn’t really understand. Setting up a new room each year is one of those events. When I come back from my summer, tanned and rested, I get my keys from the school secretary and enter my room for the start of a new year. It always has a dank but glorious smell. It’s like a blank slate in the form of a scent. It represents a building foundation upon which I can create a successful year, no matter what odds may be stacked against me. If the rich school down the street has all the latest laptops and devices and my school has left-overs and hand me downs, it doesn’t matter. If we didn’t quite get the book adoption I wanted, it doesn’t matter. This is where I work with what I have.

The off-white fabric walls call to me and I let my mind run wild with them. Will I have a sound/spelling cards wall or a bigger writing wall. Usually I set up my desk and some music first. Then I make myself a cup of coffee in my Melitta pour-through, a great way for teachers to make coffee. Then I sit back and just linger over my coffee. I doodle in my diary creating and innovating the new school year fantastic. I love having a clipboard with quality grain lined college-rule paper and a soft lead #2 pencil to draw my ideas with. I think way out of the box when I do this. In the same way, I carry a leather journal everywhere I go and I love a Uniball black pen for making tasks and doodling ideas. These tasks and doodle become innovation and most of hem come from lingering. I love lingering in a new year’s classroom because it allows possibilities to fly through my mind.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Linger.”

Sleep Rejuvenates the Brain

600x600brainlogoEverybody thinks about sleep but it’s rarely talked about. When I went in to see a therapist a long time ago, he was always asking at the onset of every meeting about my sleep patterns: ie; how much was I sleeping. was I having trouble sleeping. I think that’s because good sleep habits are helpful to a positive outlook and good mental health. I do pay attention to my sleep patterns. I used to have insomnia all the time. It was rare I went to bed and didn’t get up and go downstairs. Luckily for Sarah she got used to it but there was a stretch of time where it woke her up and then she couldn’t get back to sleep. The perfect couple right? It made for some nice talks in the early am hours but she didn’t like them as much as I did. All in all, I prefer sleeping through the night and I do now most every night. If I don’t I’ve learned some techniques to get me in the direction of sleep.

Breathing is so very important to getting sleepy and falling asleep. Deep breaths are really good for you. I’ve also found if I count my own pulse I trail off into slumber land. There is a lot of information online. I try and avoid sleeping pills. I’m not judging people who use them because I used to pop one or two every night years ago. They mess with you body and I think they should be used only in extreme situations. A final issue I’ll note is dreams. I don’t remember dreams like I used to as a kid and young adult but when I do remember them, they are vivid just like back then. I can remember a really vivid dream I had in my childhood where my mom was walking around a corner in a dark ornate house, kind of like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I tried to run and catch up but she kept eluding me, even though she was moving slowly. This was an odd one. To close, sleep is magical when you do it right. It’s the time we can truly relax and rebuild ourselves. Once the brain is rejuvenated, we can wake up to the creative and innovative life we were meant to live and Go.For.It!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.”

Windshield Wipers Talking

I love a rainy night, the windshield wipers almost speak. I’ve been thinking about life. They say: Set priorities in direction of goals. 
If you want to be a model, don’t prioritize food and living. If you want to be a podcaster, prioritize time to do it. Commit time to doing it. Nothing is automatic in life, except growing old.

As you spend time in the direction of goals they will appear ever increasingly larger in your windshield view.

The “Willing to Work on it” Attitude – Don’t be stubborn, wake up and live

How do you face change? When you are told at work there will be new ways fo doing things, do you cringe or do you get eager to find out what they are? With your spouse, when they sit you down and say they have something difficult to tell you do you cringe or do you get curious to hear what it is? I have found that adversity has one of two effects on people at work and in relationships. Let me explain them and you can decide where you stand.

One response to adversity is to ignore it. Playing aloof about the need for change is like ether, it puts a person to sleep and retards growth. At work these people react with phrases like: “Oh well, just another thing” -or- “I’m not going to do that” -or- (my personal favorite) “I already know and do all that.” These people are frozen in the past unable to change their habits and energies to be in sync with “now.” In relationships these people ignore issues of failing intimacy and assume they are right all the time. If their partner is passive and enjoys abuse of this nature, they will stay and enable the person. On the other hand, the spouse may not be so forgiving and she/he may leave the marriage. The ignorant person will make excuses for their lack of action. They will refuse to see the need for change as an opportunity to be happier in the relationship and instead … blame the other one.

The much better response to change at work or at home is what I call the “willing to work on it” attitude. When the boss explains everything will be changing, this person doesn’t have to me gung ho but they can show interest by being willing to work on it. People like this thrive in life and relationships. They don’t die when the old model of business and relations fails. They continue learning, growing, and moving outside their comfort zone*. In fact, they learn to feel relatively comfortable outside of their comfort zone. It’s quite a feat but with effort, most anyone can attain it. In a marriage, this type of person is always reminding her/his spouse that she/he cares and is willing to change as needed. There is a bit of stress here but that is not always a bad thing. The person who is “willing to work on it” will be respected more in the long run. She/he will also be far more trusted and thereby entrusted with the treasures of work and home.