Tag Archives: self help

Love Language

Total Read Time: 6 Minutes

“I thought they were another Buzzfeed quiz. You know? Those clickbait type quizzes to learn what kind of Pokémon you are?”


Don’t touch

See yourself in your Lover’s eyes
Painted holy and still tacky

Who am I then?

A museum piece
Preserved in a state of fallacy
For you’ll never again be
Who you were a minute ago

What if I stay really still?

And dry?
No, I’m Andrey.

I’ve been cleaning my suit of armor
Thinking with every passing day
How safe am I?

If I stare at this chest plate
Do I look away, Like I do reflections elsewhere?

Do I give this one another coat of polish?
Or
Languish and pray I never have to wear it.

-A


Welcome

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately.
Mostly introspective type philosophy, designed to bring forward a self actualizing being out of me.

It appears both kinds of fiction are capable of reaching deeper.

Mostly, I rely on these readings to habituate writing for me.
Like surrounding myself with instruments to promote music.

I want to share two moments of inspiration with you

The first is a story from Richard Power’s, The Overstory.

This is my summary:

A man commits himself to a Stanford prison experiment to earn $15 day because he had nothing better to do with 14 days.

He realizes purposelessness when he doesn’t give his blanket to save a man in solitary confinement.

He sends his previous selfishness aside by chasing purpose in Vietnam, where he loads carpet bombs and clears forests of life.

When he falls out of a shot plane, he is saved by a tree’s lush foliage and leaves the war.

He tends to horses and reads them Nietzsche through the winter, burning pages as he reads them.

When winter is over he digs up his savings and leaves Idaho, toward Oregon.

On the way he realizes how barren the forests are becoming thanks to loggers.

He commits the rest of this story to planting Douglass fir seeds in the ground by hand.

Reapplying a symbolic blanket to the earth.


When the purpose for which you act expands, as in the desired audience grows unfathomable, the act you do becomes more finite and yet incalculable. As simple as planting seeds. As infinite as the amount of seeds it takes to grow a national forest.

This thought process has helped me become a more disciplined writer.

Expand your desired audience

Simplify your daily ritual

Replicate until the end of time


The second piece I’d like to share with you is a quote shared with me by a dear friend.

“Don’t forget to practice your love language on yourself.”

Gary Chapman

5 Love Languages

Words of affirmation
Quality time
Gifts
Physical touch
Acts of service

Feel free to take the quiz and patronize Chapman for his fine work.
My lack of references are not out of disrespect.
I believe they would take away more than they provide here.

The point here, is we are all innately predisposed to be skilled in giving and receiving a unique combination of these languages.

What I’ve found is, most of the time they are different.

For example, I am least receptive to acts of service.
However I am very good at performing said acts.

They can change over time,
They sure have for me,
or maybe I’ve become more honest with myself.

Self examination

This part is quite interesting.

BUT

You have to be honest.

I’m sure you’ve already given some thought to which of the languages you’re great at; I do mean innately.

Now take a moment to think about which one (or two, but no more than two) you are uniquely horrible at doing

For Yourself

I consistently find it easy to perform acts of service and give myself gifts.

Physical touch is a much more serious topic that I aim to one day cover at length.
To summarize staunchly, I adamantly believe physical touch is a love language that solely deserves to be shared.

However, words of affirmation and quality time have always been a struggle for me.

I think it’s a self esteem thing, saying kind things to myself.

I don’t think the quality time is a loneliness issue, although that is how I’ve framed it for myself in the past.

For me, both of the love languages are a struggle born out of fear.

Recently, the best gift I’ve given myself is alone time and words of affirmation. It’s meditative and honest, creating a ripple effect of confidence throughout the week.

Fear is more present than I’ve ever believed.
And facing that fear by being alone with myself, listening to all the negativity, and realizing it’s all bullshit has been a beautiful shedding of armor.

I feel most things have to come naturally to someone.
So I can’t just say, you need to follow your fears and all of your questions will be answered.

I do think you can follow your fears and you’ll learn they’re not so bad.
You’ll learn you’re not alone.
You really find your true self down there.
I picked myself up down there.

Before you call me a stoic, I do think there’s validity in the cold shower. You can teach yourself, by exposing yourself to homelessness that it would be okay to take the big investment risk and have to shower in a puddle.

While it didn’t get quite as extreme for me as sleeping under the Fullerton bridge, it was as scary for me to make no plans with anyone and sit at home alone.

And yes, it was as simple as giving myself a pat on the back when no one was around to see.



For questions, and so I don’t feel so alone…

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

Thank you for reading this far.
You mean the world to me.
I write for you.

Self Sabotage is a Cop Out

Total Read Time: 6 Minutes

It can feel like a moat sometimes. Filled with tears, bridge burned, and castle doors boarded shut. They say to let people in, but sometimes you’re on the outside yourself. You’re the only one who can swim across.


It’s not like ruining your shoes
So you can’t run anymore
Or even ruining your reputation
By making an ass of yourself
And saying the wrong thing to your boss

It’s not driving through a late night menu
Or shoveling your way through a box of donuts

It’s not leaving them on read
and waiting for them to give up on you
You already did that

It started the moment you closed the door
And set the first brick
Of the wall between you
and yourself

A Cartesian argument
As cynically gregarious
or accessible
as it is a moment of eye contact
A moment of acknowledgement
and agreement
That you deserve not to win
And blame everything except them

It isn’t you every time is it?
The world just sucks sometimes
And the rest of the time it blows
If you’re into the whole wind thing

-A


A Writer’s Self Sabotage

It looks like cleaning the house and preparing a work station or fixing a snack and stretching, because we avoid it for so long and they all say stretching is so important to prevent lactic acid build up.

Sometimes I read and am so impressed with a writer’s style and vocabulary and pacing that I can’t help but compare myself to them. I quickly determine that I’ll never be that good and open up Instagram.

Entitlement of an Immigrant White Male

I grew up with a pessimistic defense against the world. I was raised to question the motives and incentives of people around me. Although they never said it, it felt like altruism was a ruse and every favor was a palimpsest of inauthenticity. Someone GAVE you that; you would be nothing without them.

I developed an opinion of myself that seeps through me to this day. That I am capable of more. That I’m holding myself back. That I need to work harder because this isn’t enough.

It’s a war between entitlement and complacency. At a core level, I don’t believe this is enough to get me by. I want more. I feel like I need more to raise a family; despite having been raised on less.

When the argument is really in favor of my opponent, I can pull out facts like salary and how expensive kids are. If I’m feeling up for it, I’ll even remind myself that I’m not making a difference and make myself feel like a waste of time.

Confronting a Gun

I don’t want to feel like it’s worthless. I don’t want you to either. You shouldn’t see me like this. But we both have to feel it to get through it.

Once I realize, I take more responsibility. It’s a puzzle worth assembling. It’s decoding a cypher where you have to take the dip into darkness before you can blame yourself for going into the shadow. You really don’t know what’s waiting for you in the clarity, but you need to realize it before it’s too late.

Forgive and Accept

The slippery slope is blaming yourself and letting it go on. It’s ammo against yourself, only telling yourself you haven’t gone far enough into the darkness. I was repeating myself when I would write out ideas for business plans and supplementary education I can arm myself with for success. I can’t tell you how many days I spent fawning over ideas just to quit like I never had them.

The truth is following your fear. That is the darkness. You have to go there and trust that nothing is going to matter until suddenly, it does.

If you got this far, you’ve come a long way. Congratulate yourself on starting an honest conversation with your soul. There’s meaning down there, and the steps to finding yourself are laden with pain and traumatic memories.

Wrestling a Worthy Adversary

The “discipline” that everyone talks about is not a pushup contest. Your schedule doesn’t have to be filled with to-do lists just like your boss already has for you. There’s enough to worry about at work.

Discipline starts with going to sleep at the right time.
Don’t let yourself watch Netflix until you’re struggling to stay awake.

Once you’ve slept an appropriate amount of time, discipline becomes about individual decisions and intention. It’s a whole lot easier to close Instagram when you’re properly rested. You also know the right thing to do with your time.

I feel most susceptible to bad decisions when I’m tired or fatigued. I’ll convince myself I deserve to eat a whole bag of chicken tenders for the protein and the carbs. I feel like garbage afterward and I’ll see myself for what I wanted to.

Keeping up the Momentum

I don’t have an answer yet.

I’m trying to think of writing as reps, relating it to muscular contraction necessary for tearing fibers and rebuilding stronger limbs.

What I’m doing is writing 30 minutes a day. I’m starting a few projects at the same time, to give myself direction. I also look forward to finishing one, to feel accomplished by having a contained work to show for my time spent.

This website is one of them.

Emails and Instagram DM’s keep me going. I hear from you and how I’ve, even for a moment, connected a thought or emotion to something you’ve struggled with. It’s okay, I’m really believing we are all struggling together; just at different rates.

I want to see you follow your dreams and aspirations, because you are significant and you have a fulfilling purpose.

I want you to feel how good it feels to know you’re on some kind of a right path. That’s how writing feels for me.

I would love to know what gives you that confirmation.

What is it that just feels scary and confident at the same time?

What has you feeling like, even if you fail it would be okay because you could just start over again?

How about if it’s not working?
What do you think is holding you back?

Email 
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

Thank you, so much.

-A

Moments of Clarity: What Do You Want?

Total Read Time: 6 Minutes

I’m working on shortening the down time.
It takes weeks recently, but it’s been months before.
I spend so much effort and time planning: writing down ideas, plotting out their fruition, mentally wrestling my own discipline to start wanting it enough to make something happen.

That’s the secret, isn’t it?
Wanting it?

After plotting out these ideas, something happens.
It is almost reliable. All of a sudden, I stop wanting it, and time begins to elapse. I lose interest and fall into a sense of loss.
I don’t know what to want.

That’s what I mean by “it’s been months before.”
It took two weeks this time.
Today, I found clarity again.
Today, I want again.


In a world where we skip from 
One desire attained

Into debt

The price for your instant satisfaction
To another debt paid through discipline
Laden with questioning whether it was 

Worth it 

To then 
New desire visualized

What will you do with your lesson learned?

What will you allow yourself to instantly attain?

To gratify yourself with 

What do you allow yourself to be spoiled by

And when spoiled what will you want for next 


Did you ever stop wanting 

Do you want to? 

-A


I woke up today without an alarm.
Only my thoughts.
I woke up wanting to write something for you to read.
Something worthwhile.
I immediately accepted that I had nothing, so I decided to read.

I’ve been reading Anthony De Mello’s, Awareness. I put my bookmark in last time with maybe two short chapters left.
I would normally finish a book with so little left, but for some reason I hadn’t.

Anyway, the point is I really wanted to get back to reading, because I had so little of the book left.

I reached clarity while reading.
I was sparked with desire and knew what I wanted to write again.

De Mello, “Every child has a god in him; our attempts to mold the child will turn the god into a devil.” … “The religion that makes people good makes people bad, but the religion known as freedom makes all people good, for it destroys the inner conflict that makes people devils.”

Before the pious quote eats all your attention and pulls you away from here, let me explain.

I realized when I listen to my body and soul, I am constantly telling myself something. There is always something missing. Why do I feel like I always want something? How can I choose what to want and when to want it?

I am not talking about a new t-shirt.

I want to read, but talk myself out of it because I believe I’d just fall asleep during the first two pages.
I want to eat something really unhealthy and sit in my own filth, but luckily my pantry is missing the lord’s chips.
I get bored and think it’d be fun to drink some wine, but thank heavens for Andrey’s rule number 1: no drinking alone.

Pay Your Debts

When you choose to stay up late and watch Netflix,
then wake up early and go to work,
then come home and stay up again
doing some other impulsive thing,
you have racked up one hell of a debt.

The debt is with your own heart and soul.

I keep telling you, you have to love yourself.
And, you did. You indulged. It’s okay.

However, you now must pay the price.

There’s an order to things.

You have to catch up on sleep.
You need nourishing food.
You must enjoy some exercise.
You will want do some fulfilling work.

Sleep is your first debt, just like it’s somehow the easiest thing to give up.
If you’re not caught up on sleep, anything that isn’t an impulse will bore you and you’ll just fall asleep when trying to force yourself to do the right thing.

Food is your next impulse. You will be hungry, and you must reach for the nourishing food that takes care of you. We’ve covered this, you know what’s good for you.

If you hate running, exercise does not mean run. It does not mean burpees, just because you’ve heard that burpees are where it’s at.
Exercise is meant to leave you feeling better.
Pick something you like to do, maybe a scenic bike ride, a hike through a forest preserve, a longer walk with your dog.

Getting your body moving starts an inertia of loving yourself that can’t easily be stopped. All of a sudden you’ll want to do more good.
That’s where fulfilling work comes in.

This is the feeling you get when you’re ready to take action.
When you know what you want.
When the world is clear.

When is the last time you felt clarity?

I wish I could feel it every day, but like I said at the beginning of this, it’s been two weeks, and before that it’s been months.

Have you noticed some trend in your moments of clarity?

I mean it, I’d really like to know. I’m always trying to learn better ways of being a better me, but we’re all human and this is hard for everyone.

How about your fulfilling work?
What do you do that fills you with joy and satisfaction?

I write.

If you have the time, let me know:

Email 
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

Thank you, so much.

-A

Latest Thoughts: A Theory on Alcoholism and Self Harm

Total Read Time: 4 Minutes

I like how recording artists release their work. The music of their heart and soul is poured out daily until they let go of a compilation. It is… released.


Released by a few bad shifts at work
Mindset is productivity
Responsibility and discipline highlighted
By their absence

Mindset as soil
Ideas as seeds.

Ever-changing soil can nurture seeds
Into rooted theories and concepts.
It can be too acidic.
It can ferment.

Sometimes, my mindset can give birth to noxiously attractive ideas.
Like a train wreck.

-A


Perpetuation of Self Harm and Substance Abuse

I’ve done a lot of self-experimentation. Recently, I’ve tried removing certain distracting elements from my life. I think of them as “easy” or more accurately, “obvious.”

Diet
Exercise
Alcohol
Sleep

I’ve written about these more specifically.
It would be a compliment if you sifted through this website.
I would love to connect and talk too.

Subtraction Past Zero

Assuming you can, once you remove the obvious elements from your life that are holding you back, you would think a massive light would emanate from your chest. It would feel like a sci-fi phoenix rebirth. You would hatch new colorful feathers and majestically screech like an eagle.

The truth is, it’s shockingly the opposite. You begin to miss having something obvious to blame. It was nice to feel like garbage, knowing you shouldn’t have drank last night. It felt comforting to say, I’ll eat healthy this time for lunch.

I liked having an easy answer.

Once you remove the obvious, you begin to see the less obvious. All of the repressions from your past begin to surface.
You are left with everything left of zero.

Think of this scale:

Subtractions : -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 <0> 1 2 3 4 5 : Additions

When your lifestyle is full of easy things to blame, you’re somewhere around 5. The subtraction of those things take you closer to where you’d like to be: zero.

Blame is the Trend

Continuing to find things to blame is the trend. You spend time focusing on blaming diet choices, exercise habits, and substance abuse. That focus carries you past zero and into the negativity of blaming your job, blaming loved ones around you, and blaming yourself. When you continue blaming things, you get further from zero and closer to -5.

Balance Blame with Love

You have to see the good in the world around you. You have to subtract a bad habit and replace it with a good one. After my father quit smoking cigarettes he told me he began to taste food again. His life had flavor again! He gained appreciation for having stamina. At that time in his life, he went to the gym again and got into great shape. I remember he would flex his bicep and challenge me to wrap my hands all the way around his arm.

Allow light to displace the shadows of negativity and engorge your life with love and self improvement.

You’re Not Alone

The heaviest thoughts when you’re low are thoughts of isolation. You want to be alone. You want to retreat. You feel like you deserve the blame and hatred for yourself.

I promise you, you’re not alone. There is a world of people who have lived through everything you’re dealing with. There is almost always someone In reach who has dealt with what you’re dealt. Everyone deserves to know,

You are Not Alone

I want the best for you.
I want you to feel.
I want you to taste.
I want your life to have flavor and light and excitement.
I want you to feel the love you have for yourself.
I know you are capable.
I know it’s somewhere inside of you.
Please, try and see it too.
Try and look past the shadows.
You deserve this.
You’re worth it.

Thank you, endlessly.

Thank you for your love, your support, your time.
You make my day better.
Always feel free to reach out.

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

Why do some people Never Break Up?

Total Read Time: 5 Minutes

What a lovely palindrome of a day (02 02 20 20). I was informed it was also our 33rd day of the year, with 333 days left. Allow me to geek out over numbers, moon patterns… moving onward!

People are so caught up in finding someone to be with.

Maybe it’s loneliness. Perhaps I’m wrong and people want to be left alone. I believe people live longer and are living happier lives when they are in healthy long term relationships. I would love that for YOU.

Here’s some stuff to look out for. 👀

I’ve racked my brain over healthy relationships. I’ve examined and analyzed couples who have confided in me with their difficulties. (I know you’re reading this, so know that I love you guys and can’t wait to hear from you).

This is a good spot to add, I’m no expert. I LOVE analysis. I find writing therapeutic. Please don’t do anything irrational after reading this. I only want what’s best for you and your loved ones.

Here are qualities that people in healthy relationships

MUST HAVE

Let me intensify: without these, your relationship is doomed.

I’ve chosen each word carefully

  • A Safe Communication Environment
  • Intentional Love
  • Compatible Foundational Life Goals

Things that make relationships inherently easier, NOT VITAL

Primary

  • Finding your person impressive
    • Imagine them in their element. Does it turn you on?
  • Similar attractiveness

Secondary

  • Equally opposite in masculinity/femininity
    • You’re both a blend of masculine and feminine. One of you is more masculine. The other is equally as much feminine as the first is masculine.
  • Similar Intelligence
  • A general predisposition for learning and improvement

Tertiary

  • Similar financial liquidity
    • It’s great to be pampered. Finances turn into really hard conversations when one person has had it easy all of their life while the other has had to struggle between paychecks. If you’re both on the same page, it just works easier.
  • Similar diet
    • I’m not saying you both have to be health nuts. I’m saying if one is a vegan, and the other hunts every season… that’s an important conflict.
  • Similar hobbies
    • Time is a precious commodity. If you both like to hike, that’s an amazing activity you can share in excitement with. The hike itself is fun, and the preparation builds the excitement that much more every day.

Clarification

Large caveat: I’m extremely lucky to be in a healthy relationship. Even more so, I’m lucky to be with someone who recognizes and values hard work. We’ve worked really hard to get where we are. There are still tough times. Trust is a huge factor. However, I promise it will be earned. I say will be earned because it takes the strength of time. Time will show you everything you need to see in your relationship.

Remember, I’m merely a man observing relationships around me. I’ve had the privilege to talk to some people about theirs. I’ve analyzed, from my perspective, what has led to their strengths. My writing is not absolute. Love has a way of defying all concepts of reason. The world doesn’t make sense some times, and yet works in a balance you can only observe in retrospect.

Let’s go back to the vital three.

A safe communication environment: A space where there is freedom to express each other’s opinions, conflicts, compliments, and so on. There is no judgment. This is a place for honest listening and cooperation. A place which brings us to…

Intentional Love: This is huge. Genuine, honest, intentional love. Intentional means you, at your core, want this. Love is everything that is good for your person. You truly want your special someone to be loved. To feel loved. To know that you love them.

Compatible Foundational Life Goals: This one’s tricky. This isn’t, “I want a house some day.” This is more like, “I want a lot of kids,” or “I want to serve my country as a Marine,” or “I want to live on the coast.” The goals of you and your loved one have to be compatible, they have to operate together and not contradict each other.

As for the following set of “Non vital,” I repeat they are not vital. They simply make getting along easier and making any compromises easier and more fluid.

Compromises

will make these flow into a healthy relationship. The vital list of three is a list I simply believe relationships need to end up with to make the long haul. I’ve seen people change for the better. I believe I am one of those people. That is what compromises are all about. The major factor here is Love. When you love someone, their needs make it easy to be selfless and commit yourself. If both of you are in love, both of you have a tendency to want to make sacrifices for the other. However, everything will crumble if you don’t feel safe enough to communicate your concerns, if you’re not sure if your person loves you, and if you’re both headed in opposite desired directions.

Thank you so much for your time

I’d like to expand in the future on the vital three. And maybe look at some relationships specifically and help or just walk through what works.

Please let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in!

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

“Consider THIS Before Your Next Conversation.”

Total Read Time: 5 Minutes

Have you ever heard about the family that you actually got to choose for yourself? How about that you are the average of the 5 closest people to you? (Tim Ferriss quote… Seems to be a theme in my mentorship). The common denominator is your choice.

It really doesn’t matter where you are in life, what you’re working on, how much you’ve accomplished up until this point, or where you’re headed. The most valuable thing in our lives, is our relationship with the people around us.

Let’s take a bleak turn to drive it home.

On your death bed… Here Andrey goes again… You really get a clear picture of what truly mattered in your life. This is a gratefulness exercise. Imagine someone close to you died yesterday. What would you pay/do for one more day with them? Probably anything. I would pay anything…

This should make most of the so-called “problems” in your life go away instantly. Your relationship with people is above everything else.

Consider THIS before your next conversation.

Your day is built upon choices you make. You employ discipline, you have routines, and you choose the manner in which you conduct your relationships.

Relationships:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Significant other
  • Boss
  • Coworkers
  • Mentor

Every interaction you have can be a withdrawal or a deposit into your ongoing relationship.

Visiting your mom and spending time cooking with her: Deposit.

Visiting your mom and communicating your stresses in life: it may sound like a withdrawal because stress can be vicariously taxing, but I’d bet it’s a deposit in your mom’s eyes.

Visiting your mom and recommending new exercises, yoga, hiking, and general motivation for getting more active: sounds like a deposit because of great intentions, but could be a withdrawal if mom is a human and takes criticism with a grain of salt.

The most immediate use of this logic is at work.

Everyone has difficult coworkers, an unreasonable boss, and unfathomable clients/customers. If you structure your interactions, with positive intention, your days will get better, I promise you.

“This isn’t manipulation, unethical, or deceitful. The key is to care.”

If you struggle to care for someone, realize they are structurally tied to “the mission” and you will lose without their help. If you want a good shift at the restaurant you work at, the bad server needs help with their 3 table section. If they don’t get help from you, they’ll give poor service, bring out food late, force the food to get cold and the table will ask for the food to get remade, that will slow down the kitchen, and then YOUR table’s food will be slow and your table will be upset with YOU. I digress.

Surround yourself with Positivity

My best friend David DM’d me a quote on instagram: “Pay attention to with whom you feel your best.”

I later saw another one of those quotes: “Pay attention to who is happy with you, when you’re winning.”

It’s so environmental. Tying back to one of my earlier articles, The Hands That Hold You Down, your environment is directly responsible for not just holding you accountable, but directly influencing the quality of the decisions you make for the day ahead of you.

It’s quite easy once you do the mental heavy lifting. And that is, Honesty. Once you are honest with yourself and answer the following questions, you can easily delegate your attention toward the positivity in your life.

  • What facet or quality of your life would you like to make more deposits into? (Love, Health, Finance, etc.)
  • When you think of a deposit, what does it look like?
    • Is it more time with a loved one? Is it eating healthier foods? Is it avoiding going out when money can be allocated more prudently?
  • Think about who helps you deposit into those categories and who forces you to withdraw from them.
    • At the same time, think about who gives you negativity when you share your progress and who celebrates with you and supports your successes.

Confronting these people can seem so difficult, but I promise you it’s easier than you think, and quite addicting after you start.

For example, I’ve recognized alcohol as a slippery slope in my life that I needed greater control over. See Andrey’s Alcohol Commandments. I had to take an honest look at my life and recognize who I naturally drank more alcohol with.

“My approach was initially light handed”

I suggested alternative activities like playing frisbee, skateboarding, bike rides. Fortunately for me, some of my friends really enjoy doing those things and it was easy to structure hanging out without alcohol needing to be involved.

After hanging out, I just needed to decline an offer to go to a bar or hangout and have a beer.

However, some of my other friends really don’t do much other than drink. They would ask me to hang out, and I had to say I’m busy. It wasn’t unreasonable, since I work a lot and generally live further away. (It really helps that I work night shifts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and they work a M-F 9-5). Conflicting schedules, busy lives, and if all else fails…
“I’m saving for a wedding.” (Also very true and an incredible motivator).

Prescribe yourself Positivity

I freaking love a conservatory. Plants are beautiful, the buildings are warm and humid, it’s oxygen rich, everyone is in a good mood at a conservatory. I can’t think of a better place to go for positivity than Nature. If it’s cold outside, if you’re in a big city like me, odd’s are there is a conservatory near by that eliminates the cold and the distant forest. The Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago is free, and parking is free, so there are really no excuses.

Start a day off with some arugula, sunflower seeds, an apple, some olive oil. Visit a conservatory. Take some photos with your phone of a weird plant or a cool turtle.

“Clear your headspace by flooding it with positivity and displacing anything that’s been holding you back.”

Once you’re in that state of bliss, go through the questions again. It’s uncanny what a new mindset can shed light on.

It will have a domino effect

Surrounding yourself with positive influences and people who celebrate you cascades into every facet of your life. People who you care about, and who care about you give life a new meaning. It gets easier to wake up in the morning. You fall asleep quicker at night. Stress dissipates and so does the blood pressure.

I want everyone to feel significant. If you take the time to filter your life for the things that lift you up, you too will want to give back as much as possible.

Thank you

To the people who help me climb to new heights, you know who you are.

Thank you.

Andrey Starostin

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When to Promote Yourself to Manager

Total Read Time: 3 Minutes

Short answer: right now, but it’ll take people three years to believe it.

Leadership starts every day when the alarm goes off.

Start by managing yourself. People naturally want self improvement. It’s called progress. We do not like to go backward. When those people see you succeeding, they will want a piece of the action. They will come to you for advice and for vicarious thrill.

DO NOT SEEK OUT PEOPLE TO LEAD

Do not start a cult. Motivation works better when it is sought out by those looking to be motivated.

Trust me, when you’re winning, people will look to be led.

Why it Takes THREE Years

Year ONE:

You enter as a beginner, albeit with a set of predisposed skills, but in the eyes of everyone around you, a beginner. You are developing relationships with those around you. You care for them like your family. Without them, there is no winning. YOU CAN NOT DO IT ALONE. You stay humble, you learn from the people around you with tenure, your job is to care.

Year TWO:

You begin to master your surroundings and naturally see areas in need of improvement. You suggest and implement new strategies and processes that benefit everyone on the team. Your relationships are strengthened.

Year THREE:

People see consistency in your actions. You truly want what is best for them. You’ve made prudent choices and beneficial improvements for the team. You’ve made the Investment of Time. There is no better evidence for your commitment than time.

Start today

Congratulations, you’ve been promoted to manager. If you’re here for money, power, control, you can go home. In order to EARN the position, you have to act as though you already have it. You have to care. Above all else, you have to care. Anyone can see through bullshit. If you are motivated by anything other than seeing everyone around you thrive, you’ll fail, because they won’t believe you.

Thank you for your time, for your attention, and for your support.

Every time I am notified that someone has read my writing, it makes me feel significant. Every time someone has a conversation with me, shares their personal experiences, asks me for further clarification, I am made whole.

Thank you,

Andrey Starostin

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Live On Purpose

Total Read Time: 6 Minutes

This is one of the hardest and at the same time easiest topics for me to write about. The difficulty comes from how important it is to me, because I’m okay at failing at things I don’t care about. This is not one of those things. The ease: because it consumes me; there is no shortage of material in my brain when it comes to this. -Andrey Starostin

It hits when you’re confronted with the question of time. How much time do I have left? For some, it’s so crystal clear and in focus, that their next steps have no alternative. For the people who face the doctor, prescribing the amount of days they have left, I have the utmost respect. I’m most impressed by their outlook on life. In every experience I’ve encountered, be it podcast interview or story, the individual who has accepted the finality of life has disconnected with entitlement and focuses with pinpoint accuracy what is most important to them in their remaining days.

There is a lesson to be learned here. Living every day as if it was your last is not practical. However, living the next 5-10 years seems to get closer to the point. The point is one I’ve made repetitively throughout my writing; and it is intention. What are you doing on purpose? I mean truly thought out with reasoning and discernment.

Let’s take it back a notch and examine the span of one’s life… from a western perspective with a heavy bias from what I’ve seen and experienced.

I truly apologize that I do not have the end all be all answer to what is the meaning of life. I can only write what I can be genuine about.

The life of Andrey Starostin

  • Birth
  • Immigrated to USA, without speaking English
  • Raised through the United States educational system
  • K-12 into higher education (Bachelor’s)
  • Spat out into the real world, with no more curriculum
  • Self betterment: job hopping and career development through business education – entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Ended 4 year relationship and started the relationship I never knew I needed
  • Self betterment: emotional stability, facing past traumas, dealing with self honesty and intentionality, discipline, and leadership.
  • Today: 19 December 2019

Analysis

Self analysis… ahh the bias… wowww he’s full of himself…

My goal here is to articulate the necessity for intention, based on where in my life it has struck organically and the impact it’s had.

Let’s start with the lovely topic of immigration.

I moved to Chicago, Illinois at 5, almost 6 years old. One huge takeaway, believe me there can be an entire book on it’s own, is assimilation and conformity. At a core, I am a mix of extrovert and introvert, but overall I need to feel like I belong and I recharge independently (most of the time just the 10 minutes on the toilet scrolling through instagram while my legs go numb is enough). As a kid, not knowing English really threw a wrench in my whole needing to fit in. My parents told me of the stories I’ve evidently repressed when I came to them crying because I didn’t know how to ask the neighbor’s daughter if they’d come outside and play with me. My parents also told me about the phone call they received from the ESL program director, exclaiming my sister and I graduated into acceptable fluency in record time.

I believe this was the beginning of my exposure to the power of intention.

Although K-12 were some exhilarating years of my life, I’d like to talk about

Falling flat on my face in College

Entering the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I was dropped off in my dorm room and for the first time in my life, I tasted freedom. Although I had a great time, after my first year of adjusting to independence it would be an understatement to say my grades and personal development suffered. Sophomore year had to be different. I switched majors and essentially started over, having to make up for lost time by overloading my schedule. With the intention of finishing school in 4 years and not being a failure in the eyes of my family who raised me in an educational siphon, I was able to graduate on time and learn self sufficiency and independence.

My first bout of intentional self betterment was through my first business:

Starostin Photography

During my sophomore year of college, while my sister was planning her wedding, she spoke with her photographer and I came up during the topic of hiring more help. The business asked for my portfolio, which I of course had never compiled. To save time, I’ll say I never heard from the business again. Nonetheless, the endeavor gave me the lens to view photography as a business I could do. (Obligatory photography pun)

I started the business taking photos of families, couples, animals, etc. and it taught me such a tremendous amount of lessons. This blossomed into research about business, when I was introduced to Tim Ferriss’ and Tony Robbins’ work amongst many others. Thus began:

Andrey Starostin’s Self Help Education

I was engrossed by the possibility of making it in America on my own. Yes, I had a college education under my belt, but I truthfully desired being my own boss and creating something meaningful for the world. I re-examined my life and, despite a durable effort to reach out to the professional Editorial world, Photography wasn’t it for me. I was back on my keister with a restaurant job in a failing relationship. Until…

The Life-changing, Unapologetically Honest, Love of My Life, Kyrie came along

This is a topic I will be returning to many times.

Kyrie has been the first person in my life that made me look at myself and want to be a better person. As selfish as it sounds, self-deprecation was my go-to anytime a decision needed to be made. I realized with Kyrie that I have a future and I have goals of being a husband and a father. I wanted immediately to work on and make myself the best man I could be. With the safety of the trust I received from Kyrie, she scraped down to the core of my being, picked up every broken piece of my traumatic past, and made it okay for me to be vulnerable. That my friends, is Love.

19 December 2019

Which brings me to today: the Andrey Starostin full of intent to better himself into a husband and a father. Yes, that is the end goal. I could not imagine a better life than the honor of being a husband and a father.

Again, I wrote out my life up to this point to highlight the times that have been truly life changing. I owe those times to,

Intention

If you were going to die in 10 years, what would the next 12 months look like? Odds are, you’d probably go back to the same job at first, but then what?

It is that question that answers my priorities for me.

Money: I hate money. I’ve always hated money. Damn it we need it though. Money is flexible and can come from a variety of sources. Let’s put money on the back burner.

Family: There we go. That’s important. Let’s talk more than the family we were born into. Let’s talk about the family we made for ourselves. The people we choose every day to surround ourselves with. That’s the family I’m talking about. Yes, you could spend more time with them, but you can’t take them away from their lives for 10 years. Every time you do spend with them, could have more quality, more intention, more attention.

Work: Remember, money is on the back burner. I’m talking about the work you’re here on this Earth for. What, if you died today, would be work left unfinished that only you could complete?

Leisure: Fast forward a month, maybe even just a week into you finding out you’re dying in 10 years. You’re burnt out from all the emotional pressure. You’re overwhelmed and you need a release, a distraction, something to ease the tension. Hobbies are invaluable. Truly fulfilling hobbies are the best way to recharge and get you back into a meditative stable state of mind. It could be reading a book. It could be kickboxing. It’s different for everyone.

Fitness: What if the doctor was wrong? Do you cave and let yourself go for 10 years? Or do you look in the mirror and fight for the 11th, and the 12th. Fitness is more than going to the gym. Fitness is a lifestyle of dedicating yourself to feeling optimal. Fitness is work that can not be bought. Only you are responsible for looking that damn good.

How do you get the most out of 10 years?

Let’s make a plan. Let’s make a weekly checklist of meeting your priorities.

Where and when will you organize your family, work, leisure, and fitness? Ideally, we begin with a blank calendar assuming you are starting entirely fresh. They are your priorities for a reason, so fill them in first. In between all of those things, we have to talk about money.

You have a choice.

Either you can slide all of those priorities around and make money fit when it comes from some extra job you work at, OR you can make your life’s work (the meaningful one that only you can do), your leisure (the one you truly enjoy), or your fitness (that you’re doing to better yourself) make money for you. It would be an even bigger bonus if you could combine two or more.

Remember, never mix family and business. Money and Blood don’t mix.

If this sounds too hard, let me ask you, have you even tried?

If they’re truly your priorities, you’re already doing the work, enjoying the leisure, and making yourself fit every day, every week.

This is where Intention comes in. Take some time and examine your priorities. Look at what means the most to you in this world and write it down so it doesn’t consume you while you’re trying to sleep at night.

If you are awake at night, thinking, I ask for you to do one thing: Be grateful for the world around you. It is so much bigger than you. This life of yours is worth more intention. This world needs all of you.

Thank You

I am so thankful for my family and friends that support me every day.

Thank you Kyrie for your undivided love and endless patience.

Lastly, I am thankful for you, my audience and the time you dedicated to read this.

Thank you,

Andrey Starostin

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Andrey’s Alcohol Commandments

Total Read Time: 7 Minutes

I been here for years. It’s made me an animal. There’s rules to this. I wrote me a manual.” – Notorious B.I.G.

(Not comprehensive, Very apprehensive)

I’ve worked in restaurants for a decade now, specifically in restaurants that specialize in beer. I was one of the brewers and bartenders at the last restaurant I worked at. I’ve seen first hand, the industry behind alcohol production, sales, and consumption.

What I’m getting at is my exposure to a decade of individuals and circumstances involving alcohol. Without getting into the details…

I take alcohol very seriously.

At least I do now… I feel like I had to see the dark side of moon to realize I don’t like going to the moon so much in the first place. It’s led me to make some internal arrangements for myself: some commandments to live by.

So far, I’ve seen my consumption significantly under control, with the greatest achievement being: Intention.

Let’s go over some common rules before I get into my own. Here are some written in a great tone that touches on the respect for alcohol and more so on the control and intention behind it.

Men’s Health writes 12 rules of Drinking:

  1. Be the master of your own drink
    • I agree: find what you like and stick to that repertoire. More so, if you find something that makes you feel like garbage, forget about it.
  2. Listen to your Liquor
    • This one’s tricky… I think the novelty of paying attention to the drinks throughout the night easily results in you studying in hindsight, “what the hell did I do last night??” Despite the amount of times you’ll check, the answers are not in the toilet.
    • I’d lean more into starting the night with a set amount of drinks, or with a set amount of money, or with a set amount of time.
  3. Drink only enough to do the job
    • What is the job? If you’re drinking to get hammered, there’s better ways of embarrassing yourself. As a social lubricant, it’s a slippery slope if you don’t have your footing. “Know your limits” is what they say. I say, “Know your intention.”
  4. See others through a glass, lightly
    • “In the wise words of Don Marquis, we drink to make our friends more interesting.”… “A shared drink is a conspiracy, a hand extended in the hope that we’ll find common ground…”
    • I love a good night with the boys.
    • Understand your relationship with your friends. If it takes alcohol for you to bear their presence, are they worth your night?
    • I’d say before you pick who you drink with, pick who you’d like to learn from.
  5. Let the wine go to both of your heads
    • “Liquor, daintily done, sharpens the high spirits that want to become romance and sex.”
    • Alcohol is a powerful thing. Again, pick your partner before the liquor picks her for you.
  6. If she’s had too much, Let her go
    • “… a righteous man helps her into a cab, not into the sack.”
    • Women deserve our utmost respect.
      • I am all for gender neutrality and equality, so spare me the judgement as I slip into a patriarchal mindset.
    • When I go out with my woman for drinks, her safety is my priority. Let’s have fun and enjoy a night out, but if, and when, the drinks do their worst: get her home, make sure her contacts come out, and get her some water.
  7. Never measure masculinity in a shot glass
    • I’ve had these friends before…
    • If your accomplishments solely happen at the gym and the bar, congratulations, you’ve peaked in high school.
    • “Men don’t drink fast. Boys do.”
  8. Buy drinks, don’t sell them
    • I don’t know about handing out drinks to people; that get’s pricey.
    • The point is, “A man never encourages a pal to drink.” … “he never exhorts anybody to hit it harder and never implies that reluctance to keep it rolling somehow demotes a man to a mouse.”
    • Abe Lincoln, Muhammad Ali, Warren Buffett, John D. Rockefeller, Gandhi. Some men never touch a drop.
  9. Drink along only when you think alone
    • ”Joseph Conrad wrote that men are drawn to the sea because it gives them a chance to feel their strength.”
    • The advice is to allow alcohol to sharpen your thinking when you’re particularly stuck in your own head.
    • I personally disagree with this one, but it’s worth mentioning, “a drop or two can do wonders for manly contemplation.” A drop or two just too quickly turns into a the sea Joseph liked to test himself in. So I don’t do it.
  10. Master the toast
    • We all know the guy… stands up on the chair and holds up his whiskey… Odd’s are his name is Kai and he learned a new chant during his time abroad in Scotland.
    • We all need a Kai, but we can not all be a Kai.
    • I just don’t have it in me. If I stand up, in my feels, I might just shed a tear before I get the manly toast out.
  11. Respect the sacramental wine
    • Some religions look up to drinking as a way of reaching our inner selves. Sometimes, it makes our sins more bearable.
    • I don’t drink according to any religion other than my own… but if the blood of Christ reaches your glass, drink it on your terms, no one else’s.
  12. Pass these rules on to your children
    • I guess that’s why I’m here, isn’t it? Let me know how I did: I’d love a critique 👌
    • I would love to have this dialed in before my kids are born.

Now for my commandments. Again, some rules are left unsaid, but just in case let’s lead with “Don’t drink and drive: even a $50 Uber from the city is cheaper than a DUI.” Besides, what happened to the good ol’ friend’s couch?

Andrey’s Alcohol Commandments

  1. Never drink alone (Bars don’t count)
    • I told this to a friend who immediately checked for loopholes.
      • Facetime does not count either.
  2. Always be aware of why you are drinking 
    • The drink should come second to your evening. If you’re going out for the company of your friends first, let the drinks flow.
    • Never drink to numb or make feel better
  3. If and when you do drink, enjoy the damn thing.
    • How many people do you know who actually like Natty Light?
    • If you’re going to make your liver work, at least splurge a little and learn what you’re drinking.
      • May I suggest, a build-your-own six pack paired with Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer.” Figure out how that Barrel aged milk stout got it’s lactose.
      • Or how about a nice 2016 North Coast Meritage paired with the documentary, “Somm.”
    • Secondly, make the night worth it. Your REM cycles are going to be completely screwed up from your drinking. If you’re going to lose sleep over it, have something to show for your discretions.

“We’re all made of Earth and Air, and so are Beer, Whiskey, and Wine.”

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Bibliography

Thank you to all of my family and friends who support and encourage me. I can’t thank you enough.

How to Put On Socks Pain Free: Microwave Edition

Total Read Time: 4 Minutes

LIFE HAPPENS. YOU GET FAT. What now?

I’ve been there…
I realized something 35lbs ago, in 2014: Feeling unhealthy sucks.

I woke up while I was getting ready for work. My eyes were opened at the same time as the nerves in my back squealed, “HELP” I would have said it myself if I wasn’t holding my breath on the left sock.

I got fat.

No one knows it’s happening until it’s too late. I got fat. Nothing like a pair of socks to put the fear of God into a man first thing in the morning.

I’m not here to sell you a workout tape for the same reason You’re not here to do sit-ups. I want You to smile every time you put on your socks. Just like I do.


Step One: Break up with your Microwave

You’d be amazed how little of a limitation the microwave is, once you stop buying microwave purposed food. Processed, par-cooked food is not always bad for you, but forcing yourself to use your stove top will reconnect you to your food. 

The point here is to get you thinking about what you’re eating. All while making it harder to eat the foods that are admittedly too accessible right now. 

Yes, cook your own food. Besides, Restaurants are expensive. Your 401K is hungrier than you are, I guarantee it. 

I heard great advice early in my cooking education: “If you’re going to eat anything you want, make it yourself, from scratch.”

You heard that correctly. Cut your own potatoes for French fries. Mould your own burger. Bake your own pizza. Carbonate your own soft drinks. I’m serious, I brewed my own beer. 🍻

Odds are, you won’t be putting in the unpronounceable preservatives into your meals that you see in pre-made microwave meals.   

Also, don’t take this too seriously… everyone inherently knows what’s good for them. There’s a reason ripe fruit looks and smells so damn good. Dark leafy greens are the epitome of healthy to me; especially the veiny ones. 

Step Two: Sweat Purposefully

Forget the word exercise. This isn’t about getting jacked. This is about waking up feeling good as hell and putting on socks without pain. 

Sweat does not mean run, it does not imply gym, and it does not equal pain.

Stay within your skill level and don’t get overzealous. Play. You should feel great. Throw a frisbee. Go for a bike ride. Move your body. 

Step Three: Set Stakes 

Put money down, whatever amount means something to you, that you will lose if you do not reach your reasonable goal. You’d be surprised how much motivation you have when some money is on the line. 

For me, what works better is a Kantian enlightenment I had. (See favorite quotes) I repeated a process of letting myself down.

I realized it’s easier to get over my laziness than getting over a depressive guilt streak. 

Let’s emphasize reasonable: make sure your goal is not impossible nor too easy. Start small, stay consistent. 

Step Four: Most Important Step: Reward

You did it you beautiful human, now give yourself a reward. 

Set this celebration up on your calendar 

A week in a row of sweating and eating well

Make the reward worth it

Salmon works really well for me. It’s just luxurious enough that I don’t get to eat it every day. So after an agreed upon consistency in sweating,

“…winner winner salmon dinner.” 

If you spend all week eating like a pig, but only had one good day, you’ll still feel like a pig. Same goes for the reward.

Don’t feel guilty if your reward takes you to a Chinese buffet. It’s your cake. Make it worth it. Stay on task all week, pig out one day, you’ll still feel great. 

Step five: start today, start right now

What are you waiting for? 

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