Desensitisation: 3 immediate benefits of dog ownership

Satya knows I’m the pack leader. She follows me around with a codependent face, and howls when I’m gone. We’ve hardly been together for two weeks and she sticks like Velcro.

She is a bit of a boss too. I can’t lie in anymore as she has to go for her walk early each morning. She is a greyhound which means our strolls are not exactly leisurely (think sprints @ 40mph in Hyde Park).

And since I’m an efficiency freak I squeeze jogging and yoga sequences in between. An hour later we run home for breakfast.

People warned me dogs are a serious commitment, that they take up your time. If my experience is anything to go by, dogs actually give me time. They release hidden pockets of idleness back into my day.

What’s more, my skin complexion looks healthier after all the vitamin D I’ve absorbed. My cardio too, is improving with all the running, chasing and tug of war.

That’s the genius of it

I wouldn’t even call it a habit. Habits require discipline to maintain. Taking care of a dog is not a habit; it’s a job you can’t escape from. A job that is actually good for you.

So no, dogs don’t take time. They take effort. Mind you, not all effort is hard. Want to know how I feel when I pet Satya? The excerpt below is a good approximation.

Deep down, we never forget that once we were connected with the world, and in the depth of the sense touch the longing to reconnect with that original world remains alive. That is why the need always remains to express all intimacy through the sense of touch. We keep hoping we will enter this world by means of touch after all, but we always come up against a wall.

~Albert Soesmann, Our Twelve Senses

(Is there any wonder why touch screens are so addictive?)

Often I have no idea what I’m doing. I haven’t learned how to get her to do basic things, like wait and stay down. Dog trainers have prospered in London but I can’t afford one right now.

Our main challenge is separation anxiety. She won’t let me go far before she alerts the entire block with her howls. I received two calls yesterday when I left her for ten minutes.

I read about the need to desensitise them by progressively longer absences. Desensitisation works with humans too. Several years ago I did Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to treat my OCD. The therapist had me place my hand down a public toilet and then into my mouth. Several times.

Turns out having a dog is good for my OCD. She kisses my face after cleaning her rear-end. She lies on my pillow and farts on my face. I’ve desensitised alright.

Is this why doctors prescribe dogs?

2 weeks ago

Desensitisation: 3 immediate benefits of dog ownership

Satya knows I’m the pack leader. She follows me around with a codependent face, and howls when I’m gone. We’ve hardly been together for two weeks and she sticks like Velcro.

She is a bit of a boss too. I can’t lie in anymore as she has to go for her walk early each morning. She is a greyhound which means our strolls are not exactly leisurely (think sprints @ 40mph in Hyde Park).

And since I’m an efficiency freak I squeeze jogging and yoga sequences in between. An hour later we run home for breakfast.

People warned me dogs are a serious commitment, that they take up your time. If my experience is anything to go by, dogs actually give me time. They release hidden pockets of idleness back into my day.

What’s more, my skin complexion looks healthier after all the vitamin D I’ve absorbed. My cardio too, is improving with all the running, chasing and tug of war.

That’s the genius of it

I wouldn’t even call it a habit. Habits require discipline to maintain. Taking care of a dog is not a habit; it’s a job you can’t escape from. A job that is actually good for you.

So no, dogs don’t take time. They take effort. Mind you, not all effort is hard. Want to know how I feel when I pet Satya? The excerpt below is a good approximation.

Deep down, we never forget that once we were connected with the world, and in the depth of the sense touch the longing to reconnect with that original world remains alive. That is why the need always remains to express all intimacy through the sense of touch. We keep hoping we will enter this world by means of touch after all, but we always come up against a wall. ~Albert Soesmann, Our Twelve Senses

(Is there any wonder why touch screens are so addictive?)

Often I have no idea what I’m doing. I haven’t learned how to get her to do basic things, like wait and stay down. Dog trainers have prospered in London but I can’t afford one right now.

Our main challenge is separation anxiety. She won’t let me go far before she alerts the entire block with her howls. I received two calls yesterday when I left her for ten minutes.

I read about the need to desensitise them by progressively longer absences. Desensitisation works with humans too. Several years ago I did Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to treat my OCD. The therapist had me place my hand down a public toilet and then into my mouth. Several times.

Turns out having a dog is good for my OCD. She kisses my face after cleaning her rear-end. She lies on my pillow and farts on my face. I’ve desensitised alright.

Is this why doctors prescribe dogs?

2 weeks ago

How to quit your job and adopt a dog. All in the same day.

Ten days ago I quit my job and adopted a dog. All in the same day.

You may think I’m nuts. An irresponsible goofball who doesn’t know what’s good for themselves, let alone a dog. Who knows, maybe I am.

The short story

Weeks in advance, I asked my mum to book a flight and come help with the impending dog. I took a day off, de-cluttered the flat and got ready. The logistics were all in place for an orderly dog adoption process.

But … life is disorderly, life is messy, life is entropy. So I learn anyway.

The company

My 3-month tenure at this marketing tech company opened my eyes as to what constitutes a young thriving workplace.

Insightful fresh vision, impeccable work ethic, Nespresso machines, stand-up meetings, roof terrace, summer parties. And best of all: unrivalled leadership.

I’m convinced they will rise to dominate the digital consumption space within the next five years.

So why leave?

Cliché I know, but I did learn a hell of a lot and had great fun doing so. The position however was not right for me.

I could’ve stayed. You know, bite my tongue and keep going until I get what I want. Continue to pay my dues, longing for the day I land the right role.

I carried my doubts out in the street. I wondered down Brick Lane for awhile and took a barefoot stroll in the park.

An hour later I knew that quitting was the right thing to do. Even if there is no other gig around the corner. Even if I have no money left. Even if there is nothing but uncertainty ahead.

I need to be doing my best work ever, with a hungry smile carved on my face or … otherwise I’ll keep looking, until I find the right thing for me. I can’t afford to compromise.

Quitting

I took the requisite time to word-craft my resignation. I didn’t want to come across as a diva, but I had to be crystal clear about my reasons; what worked and what didn’t.

They would “love to have me back in the future”, my boss said in response. How wonderful that would be, I thought. Should the right opportunity come up of course.

Entropy

Quitting a job is rather upsetting but there was no time to dwell on it. A large dog was about to move in. It wasn’t until eleven at night before it was over.

I was alone now, inside my dark studio, next to—gasp—my new dog.

Dear God, what have I done?

Desperation, helplessness. The spoon of life stirred all the way down, reaching profound depths in me like never before.

And then we fell asleep.

A week has now passed and the fiery organisational freak in me has since recovered his step. I took her to the vet, got her a new collar, a leash, some good food, a water bottle and something to chew.

I also got her a new name.

Satya

It means truth. A reminder to follow and serve what is true, even if crippling fear says otherwise. Follow her to an intuitive world where things are messy. Where things grow and thrive … And break and fall apart too.

Follow her to where life is.


2 weeks ago

Are you getting any?

I just typed up my notes from “The Quantum Doctor” by Amit Goswami (you can read them here). It was during this second pass of his magnum opus (no exaggeration, you should read it now) that I discovered this little tidbit:

For the throat chakra imbalance of vital energy, to deal with frustration of expression, the psychological >task is to find avenues for creativity.

Writing is brain hygiene

Writing sweeps away all the mind-stuff that loiters around in my brain. What it leaves behind is clean reality; what is.

And if I keep writing, if I keep flushing things out, then there is no dark stuffy space for the fungus of frustration to thrive.

One of the greatest ailments of humankind (too grandiose a statement I know) is frustrated and ultimately misdirected “energy”. There are several avenues for that energy to manifest. The grossest and most obvious one is carnal. Sex and violence for example.

Now, I’m 35 and I’ve not had any mind-bogglingly great sex yet. My sex life was never marked by high levels of quantity or quality. Back in my twenties I was frustrated aplenty. I was boiling in my stew.

An interesting symptom which I couldn’t explain (or bothered to explain) back then was this recurring throat pain. It wasn’t your typical sore throat. The pain was not superficial; it was deep-rooted.

What my body experienced was a physical representation of something lacking. That something was creativity.

Fast forward a few years

Writing came to my (ultimate) rescue and, thank God, I’ve never been in that ugly place again. This doesn’t mean I don’t need to “release” myself. Of course I do. But my approach to such gentlemanly activities is more planned and deliberate. I’ve assigned a specific day of the week for it.

TMI, I know, but what I’m trying to convey is that sex has ceased to control me. It gets done, yes, but only when it’s convenient. It fits in my calendar in the same way I schedule, dunno, my weekly cooking sessions.

Does my sex life sound boring?

That’s because it is. I think about sex in the same way I do about food. Of course I can appreciate a good meal, but it is more of a bodily need than a pleasure or obsession.

When I feel frustrated, all I have to do is pull my iPad out, launch (Editorial)[http://omz-software.com/editorial/] and unleash myself. Type anything I want and need. And if I feel misunderstood then I post it online too.

There is no better medicine than this. Try it for yourself.

1 month ago

Are you getting any?

I just typed up my notes from “The Quantum Doctor” by Amit Goswami (you can read them here). It was during this second pass of his magnum opus (no exaggeration, you should read it now) that I discovered this little tidbit:

For the throat chakra imbalance of vital energy, to deal with frustration of expression, the psychological >task is to find avenues for creativity.

Writing is brain hygiene

Writing sweeps away all the mind-stuff that loiters around in my brain. What it leaves behind is clean reality; what is.

And if I keep writing, if I keep flushing things out, then there is no dark stuffy space for the fungus of frustration to thrive.

One of the greatest ailments of humankind (too grandiose a statement I know) is frustrated and ultimately misdirected “energy”. There are several avenues for that energy to manifest. The grossest and most obvious one is carnal. Sex and violence for example.

Now, I’m 35 and I’ve not had any mind-bogglingly great sex yet. My sex life was never marked by high levels of quantity or quality. Back in my twenties I was frustrated aplenty. I was boiling in my stew.

An interesting symptom which I couldn’t explain (or bothered to explain) back then was this recurring throat pain. It wasn’t your typical sore throat. The pain was not superficial; it was deep-rooted.

What my body experienced was a physical representation of something lacking. That something was creativity.

Fast forward a few years

Writing came to my (ultimate) rescue and, thank God, I’ve never been in that ugly place again. This doesn’t mean I don’t need to “release” myself. Of course I do. But my approach to such gentlemanly activities is more planned and deliberate. I’ve assigned a specific day of the week for it.

TMI, I know, but what I’m trying to convey is that sex has ceased to control me. It gets done, yes, but only when it’s convenient. It fits in my calendar in the same way I schedule, dunno, my weekly cooking sessions.

Does my sex life sound boring?

That’s because it is. I think about sex in the same way I do about food. Of course I can appreciate a good meal, but it is more of a bodily need than a pleasure or obsession.

When I feel frustrated, all I have to do is pull my iPad out, launch (Editorial)[http://omz-software.com/editorial/] and unleash myself. Type anything I want and need. And if I feel misunderstood then I post it online too.

There is no better medicine than this. Try it for yourself.

1 month ago

Love Found Me from Max Zografos on Vimeo.

1 month ago

I’m Stupid

Stupid

because I couldn’t think of a better title for this post. You know something that is about you the reader; not about the self-absorbed me, me, me.

Stupid

because I often think I’m better than everyone else. That is not by choice. It is not by choice because I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to be deluded. And yet I can’t help but feel better when I’m surrounded by people that trigger this in me. I don’t know who projects upon who, probably both parties do, but my ego thinks he is entitled to feel superior. As for me—me being that thin sliver of consciousness interwoven with that ego—I just feel …

Stupid

because I am 35 and still haven’t found an occupation (see job) that pays me to like it. I’m stupid because I am seriously considering adopting a dog when I haven’t figured how to pay rent next month.

Stupid

because I go to bed without having agreed with myself what I’ll do in the morning (I do have an early morning exercise regime—thank God, I couldn’t survive without it. What I don’t have is a fixed schedule for when there is no client work).

Oh, and I’m stupid for telling you all this. Such ramblings don’t make for inspired reading. Which leads us to this unbearable …

Cognitive Dissonance

My ego thinks he is a genius. My detached observer self thinks he is stupid. Those two selves cohabit the same brain. Which means I get World War Z happening in my brain …

Every single fuckin’ day

1 month ago

Haven’t watched any news this year. I’m still alive.

I’ve been hearing folks bemoan the fear-mongering and stupidity-inducing agenda of mainstream news programs ever since I can remember.

I never quite took their message on board. Such issues were beyond my sphere of influence or concern. Besides, I couldn’t think of anything else to tune-in while doing the dishes. One needs to stay informed, right?

Then I got lucky

Several seeds were planted over the years. One was by Nassim Taleb. In Black Swan he writes about the uselessness of daily news. How they are consumed with minutiae and miss the bigger picture. He advised on weekly publications instead, the Economist for example.

His approach seemed sensible but didn’t quite address my need, namely for something to listen while I attend to mindless errands around the house.

Then podcasts arrived. I could now curate my producers and expose my ears to healthier stimuli, at a time of my choosing.

Which brings us to now

My favourite podcasts these days are from James Alhucher and Tim Ferriss. These guys are not exactly mainstream. There is nothing en-mass about their product. It cannot be.

"Men differ in their virtues but they are alike in their vices." ~Ayn Rand

James and Tim appeal to somewhat niche audiences. They cater to nobler and kinder aspirations. Their style is informal and generous. They don’t hold back. They are prepared but not staged, successful but approachable.

And then

It came as a surprise to see James interview Tim this morning. I don’t know why, but I had this feeling they didn’t like each other. It turned out to be a great episode and one of James’ best.

Tim, for example, talked about how he’s always tried to surround himself with five / six people that are already successful in what he aspires to be, until he becomes them.

That is the beauty of said podcasts. Listening in to hand-on-heart discussions—which as I said, are not staged—is like hanging out with them, taking a long walk and chatting about work and things.

I get to glimpse into their lives, and perhaps even borrow some of their courage and conviction to do something with mine.

As opposed to, you know, listen to what Rihanna* wore (or didn’t). *Was it Rihanna or Beyoncé? Oh well …

1 month ago

Haven’t watched any news this year. I’m still alive.

I’ve been hearing folks bemoan the fear-mongering and stupidity-inducing agenda of mainstream news programs ever since I can remember.

I never quite took their message on board. Such issues were beyond my sphere of influence or concern. Besides, I couldn’t think of anything else to tune-in while doing the dishes. One needs to stay informed, right?

Then I got lucky

Several seeds were planted over the years. One was by Nassim Taleb. In Black Swan he writes about the uselessness of daily news. How they are consumed with minutiae and miss the bigger picture. He advised on weekly publications instead, the Economist for example.

His approach seemed sensible but didn’t quite address my need, namely for something to listen while I attend to mindless errands around the house.

Then podcasts arrived. I could now curate my producers and expose my ears to healthier stimuli, at a time of my choosing.

Which brings us to now

My favourite podcasts these days are from James Alhucher and Tim Ferriss. These guys are not exactly mainstream. There is nothing en-mass about their product. It cannot be.

Men differ in their virtues but they are alike in their vices. — Ayn Rand

James and Tim appeal to somewhat niche audiences. They cater to nobler and kinder aspirations. Their style is informal and generous. They don’t hold back. They are prepared but not staged, successful but approachable.

And then

It came as a surprise to see James interview Tim this morning. I don’t know why, but I had this feeling they didn’t like each other. It turned out to be a great episode and one of James’ best.

Tim, for example, talked about how he’s always tried to surround himself with five / six people that are already successful in what he aspires to be, until he becomes them.

That is the beauty of said podcasts. Listening in to hand-on-heart discussions—which as I said, are not staged—is like hanging out with them, taking a long walk and chatting about work and things.

I get to glimpse into their lives, and perhaps even borrow some of their courage and conviction to do something with mine.

As opposed to, you know, listen to what Rihanna* wore (or didn’t). *Was it Rihanna or Beyoncé? Oh well …

1 month ago

Meaninglessness almost killed me

When I launched this site several years ago, I pledged to myself (and you) that [my posts will be honest and true. So true that they won’t be easy. I promised to risk enough to make it worthwhile.

Over the years however it all changed. I fluctuated and wavered. I focused on technology, social media and productivity, as if everything else was somehow fixed.

Don’t get me wrong. I still dwell in this digital cornucopia of geekdom. I still live, breathe and sleep with my iPad. I do believe technology is our next evolutionary step. Talking about tech is very natural for me.

Alas, it’s also very safe.

The true reason my posts changed over the years is because I had things to lose. Career opportunities for example. What if a potential employer were to visit? Would they dismiss me out of hand? Would my career get penalised?

As with most things, blogs are not self-contained. Fear held this blog back, and kept its author from taking some much needed leaps of faith.

I didn’t call it fear of course. I preferred elegant names like… simplicity, minimalism. I drank the cool aid, voraciously so. I unchained myself from everything. I owned nothing anymore. No computer, no smartphone or data plan. I sold all cameras, gizmos, yoga mats, clothes. I donated the rest.

I was left with space and time.

There is tremendous upside associated with space and time. At its basest level, the benefits arise from reduced expenditures and commitments. But as I’ve been discovering lately, there are significant risks too, and they should not be taken lightly.

Space turns into an abyss, in the absence of meaning.

My intention was to get.RID of everything. To dematerialize myself so I can channel my energy onto the nobler realms (I know … whatever. I even wrote a book about it).

What I didn’t factor in was the hard part. Practice. Disciplined practice. I.e. what am I choosing to fill this extra space / time with? I can’t choose to avoid it. I can’t fool human nature and essence.

Here is the truth. I’ve been too lazy to choose. Too lazy to appreciate that there is no such thing as perfect action. Too lazy to kick myself in the rear end and commit to some honest-to-God hustle. Too lazy to appreciate that grace follows sustained and prolonged effort.

Grace is fought for. Grace is earned.

All this laziness came with frustration. Viktor E. Frankl called it Existential Vacuum. Lack of meaning, he wrote, is the reason why addiction is so prevalent in industrialized societies. Devoid of urgent things to strive for, we lose meaning. The main conclusion of his book is that meaning is a matter of life or death. I now understand why.

1 month ago