June 15, 2009

I have come to the decision to end this 30-day-trial blog. I started it at a moment when I felt really down and needed to pick myself up. The purpose was to come back to surface by transforming myself. There were elements of my life that I knew deep inside that I wanted to change: the way I apprehend my own success, my relationships to money, food and alcohol. I thought that along the way, maybe some people could learn from my experiences.

Today, I am happy with what I have achieved, and I feel better emotionally and physically.

My general conclusion to personal development today is that trying to change a habit in your life or to grow is something that contains a strong element of figuring things on your own. Beliefs are often challenged, and I had to adapt my mind to handle the different challenges I have undertaken. Of course, there are support groups, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, but the support system around you cannot always be there, and it sometimes feels lonely to grow and change.

The questions that the visitors of my blog search the most on Google before they hit my site is : “how do you eat only when you’re hungry?” and my response is : “you just fucking do it.” You just force yourself until your mind has adapted to it. And that’s what I’m talking about : adapting is hard and feels lonely. Writing this blog made me feel a little less lonely in this process. When I failed, I tried again.

I have decided not to write about my last “secret” 🙂 trial, as I felt that it was so personal that it wouldn’t be relevant to other people.

Growing is not finished. I will not hide that this blog was therapeutic in many ways. I will carry on with the analyst I have been seeing in Paris for a while. With her, I have achieved a higher level of self understanding and progressing further will also take deeper work than 30-day trials.

Writing is not finished either. Two weeks ago, I completed the first draft of my novel… and decided to let it sit for 14 days, before I start editing it. Therefore, I will start that today. Also, because I was afraid that I would lose the habit of writing everyday, I also started the 1st draft of my second novel, which I like better that the first one. My new path is to try and live as a professional writer, and this growing experience requires different ways than doing 30 day trials. I want a blockbuster and before I achieve that, it may require that I write 10 books. And I may never achieve it. But right now, I find great satisfaction into writing every day and putting stories, characters, thoughts and feelings on paper (or on the screen, rather).

I encountered some successes in my experiments, and so the self-development was a success in itself. I also had more readers than I ever had. Of course, it’s nothing compared with the popularity of famous blogs, but considering that I invested very little time to write it, to market it, to improve it, I’m happy with the result. As of today, the site has been hit 8 500 times. I don’t know whether that’s good. But considering it’s just my own life I’m talking about, I’m pretty impressed.

I hope that some of the people out there who are thinking of giving up alcohol, of getting healthier will find some value in reading the thoughts and emotions I went through.

I have ideas for a new blog, so I hope I will find time to start a new one between my novel writing and editing moments 🙂 I’ll keep you posted anyway.



Following a budget for 30 days – April 1st to April 30th

May 1, 2009

For the month of April, I managed to follow a budget that I had set for myself. The lesson of my “account for your expenses” trial a few months ago was that there is no point accounting for expenses if I didn’t follow a budget. So I eventually got around to doing it, and I’m happy to say that I managed to follow it. Despite some unforseen events, I was able to stick between the spending limits that I had allocated to different categories.

It’s not really a trial per say, because it’s one of the things that everybody knows it’s better to do it, than not do it.

I didn’t like to do it, and even after 30 days, I still feel frustrated. I can’t buy everything I want, and any visit to a book shop, or to an electronics shop is excruciating. I even caught myself thinking: that two metre wide big screen TV is only 150 euros/month, just buy it! GAH!

It wasn’t fun at all not going to the restaurant all the time. Or watching my spending when going there. One night was particularly painful. I went to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and now, because I don’t drink alcohol and eat only when I’m hungry, I only had one main course. When the bill came, I asked to pay only my share, as everybody else had had wine, several drinks, and dessert.

Asking for this was painful. There was an uneasiness at the table. I don’t know if it came from me, or from the others, but I didn’t like it. Then I was asked to share a taxi, and I said no, I’m taking the bus.

My friends asked me how come I was watching my spending after I got my new MBA job. Granted, I earn a much better living than before, but I’m still reimbursing student – and credit card- debt. And if I follow my planned budget, there shouldn’t be any improvement in my spending until January 2009. I didn’t really understand why I was being questioned for my choices, and I felt that people thought I was some kind of uncle Scrooge or something.

The same people asked me about week ends to Brittany, London, the South, etc… Right now, I had to turn them down. And this is making me feel like shit, unsuccessful, a loser, etc etc.

Anyway, at least I was able to follow my spending for the 30 days, so that’s one success in all this.

I think that this is part of the learning process, not to give in to every buying impulse I have, so I feel frustrated I am still at the beginner’s stage financially, when they all seem to be doing so well… So right now, no kite-surfing trips, no London trips, and no big screen TV 😦

Update on the secret trial

May 1, 2009

It’s still going 🙂

The 60 000 words threshold

May 1, 2009

A little more than a week ago, I crossed an important threshold : I passed the bar of 60 000 words on my novel.

When I started writing it in August 2008, I started to tell some people about it, and the common question was: “how far are you?” and I didn’t know what to answer, because I don’t know where my story is going. I’ve let complete freedom to my characters and to improvisation.

So I used some MBA skills and I googled “average number of books in a novel” and I found the number 60 000. So after I wrote 6000, I told people: “I’m 10% through”, and “half-way through” after I wrote 30 000 words.

“When do you think you’ll be finished?” people ask me often. And I said: 1st draft cmopleted around mid-April, because this is when I thought I would hit the 60 000 words; and indeed, I hit that number according to my prediction. I’ve got one problem though: the story is not finished at all ! So I don’t know what to tell people anymore.

A theatre vibe

May 1, 2009

Lately, theatre has made a little come back into my life in weird ways.

4 years ago, I was performing a one-man-show in Paris that was the result of two years of working the comic scene in Paris. I did that show for one full season. That was until I met a woman, fell in love, moved to England, started to work in Marketing, and abandoned performing.

But theatre has never really completely left my life. In London, I managed to keep contact with the feeling of speaking to an audience by attending the London Business School Toastmasters club, and then when I moved back to France to follow my MBA I created the public speaking club there.

I got so involved with the school end of the year theatre show (both for the intake before mine and my own) that at one point, I wondered if I was in business school, or back in fame school.

I thought that following an MBA program would finally make me abandon my artistic hopes, the exact opposite happened ! I wanted to be a writer more than ever; I found a confidence that I never had before. When preparing the show and reading the scripts that other people prepared, I knew what to edit, I knew what to develop, I advised on moves on the stage that would look good and it worked! I hated myself for allowing some skits into the show in the last minute without having done any editorial action on them.

I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, but after years of feeling unconfident about performing and the arts, all of a sudden, I felt like I knew what I was doing (of course, that’s only when the event has actually happened that one can say that, because when the curtain opens, we are all beginners)…

So even if I went to look for a “real” job (one has to pay the student loan back), I started to write a novel and also blogging about personal development experiences.

Artistic dreams were never too far away-

Three weeks ago, I took my team to see a comedy play in Paris. That’s when the signs started.

The day after I made the reservation for the tickets, an ex-colleague emails me out of the blue. She used to come and see my shows. She emailed me to say that she had written her own show, and she directed it. So I booked a tick for that too.

Then my sister calls me, and part of her high school diploma examination consists in doing a theatre scene. She asked me to act in that scene. It’s in 3 weeks!

Two nights ago, I went  to see my friend’s play. In the audience, I see a girl I used to take theatre lessons with! and, get this, the day after, a guy who took the same class contacts me on Facebook to be his friend and sends me a message that said: “Ben, it’s X from theatre class!” (the two events are unrelated as teh two people didn’t keep contact)

That’s a LOT of signs in 3 weeks!! I’m trying not to get too excited over this. I’m just happily welcoming all of it, and I will prepare for my sister scene diligently…

Another Spam award

April 22, 2009

This one was in my work inbox.

Subject of the email: “Astonish women with that monster inside your jeans

comment spamming

April 21, 2009

if you write a blog, you know that even if you barely have any audience (like mine 🙂 ), you still get comments generated by machines that spam blogs at random in order to get more links to their website and get a better rank in search engine. this is an annoying linking strategy, as you always have to clean regularly your spam filter. I can’t dare to think how many of those the most visited blogs get. So as I did my erasing tonight, I found one comment spam that truly deserves its “palme d’or” of comment spamming. It is totally irrelevant to this blog, makes little effort to fit, and is just… well, judge for yourself. Here is it:

“One of the most important things I found out about colon cleaning is you MUST juice fast for 3-5 days to get the OLD stuff out of your system. Of course clear the fasting with your doctor first.”


A secret trial for 30 days :o

April 20, 2009

so I gave a lot of thoughts about what my next trial should be… I had several ideas, that were very different from each other.

They included :

  • do a writing exercize every day
  • read the international news section of the newspaper every day
  • meet a stranger everyday (this idea was given to me by N)
  • go to the gym everyday
  • put out an intention everymorning and see how much has been magically fulfilled at the end of the trial

But I’ve decided to do something else. And I’m not gonna tell you 🙂


That doesn’t mean I won’t blog about stuff, like movies, or give my comments after watching my expenses during the 30 days of April, or continuing the discussion on eating when you’re hungry if that discussion goes any further.

But for the next 30 days, I’m going to try something, and I don’t want to share it.

At the end of the 30 days, I may or may not decide to talk about it. 🙂 We’ll see…

In response to “A canadian reader”

April 19, 2009

hi… so I finally got some time to sit down and continue the discussion started last week about “how to eat only when you’re hungry.” Wendy, also known as “Canadian Reader” here, posted a long reply to this discussion on her blog, called “the red leather boots syndrome.” Thanks for sharing such an intimate story, and it resonated with me in many different ways.

Since the long term goal of this discussion is to ultimately help people find a positive appreciation of food again, and be able to eat when they’re hungry, and stop eating when they’re not hungry, I’ll share the thoughts that go in that directions.

First of all, good job for opening the can of worms, and digging  out the stuff from the past that may influence your eating habits today. Articles and books that I have read on the topic of being overweight often suggest that this “syndrome” is often rooted in the past, especially childhood. I tend to believe this, and I think I am no exception to this rule. In a way, I envy Wendy to have so much clarity and to have been able to shed such a bright light on how her eating patterns are influenced by the past. In my case, I think this is where I must dig, but I have no clue how the past is influencing me today. Well, I know that it did make me want to be self-destructive, but I do not know the psychological mechanisms at work behind it.

All I know today, is that the past doesn’t need to be fully solved and understood to re-develop a healthy relationship to food. Of course, if it was, I think the challenge would be easy. But I know that I didn’t have to gain full clarity on my background in order to re-develop a healthy relationship to food, and to remove self-destructive behaviours (cf, the non-alcohol 30 day trial)… I even think that because I have removed the means of escapism (and this month, I’m taking care of overspending, and trust me, this is another scary situation that I will tell more about later) I will now be able to work on removing the negative influence of my past on my life today.

The reason why I am saying this, is that for a long time I have thought: “well, until I haven’t figured out the past completely, I will not improve”. And I have discovered that it’s not true. Now that I have accomplished my latest 30 day trial, I know that I am capable of sustaining this way of eating for an extended period of time, and it will take me less effort to go back healhty habits… Today, I have figured out that no matter where I stand, no matter how much clarity I have, I can make steps towards a more positive life, and I can be the artisan of the kind of existence that appeals to me more.

the feel good moment of the day

April 15, 2009

Courtesy of N, in her blog, the N files.

I thought it was appropriate since the last post was about trying to make a dream come true.

Here it is.