How To Stay Focused in a World Filled

Several people have emailed me and asked me how to focus. I love answering this because I can totally relate to it.

It’s impossible at times to keep my focus in a world that’s trying to grab my soul. Sometimes I wish I had more control, I wish I could escape, and just simply make fellowship to J.R.R. Tolkien. Look at that! What do we have here? A thesis!

But the reality is that we live in the world. That means we will inevitably be distracted by different things. But press.

But how?

Mountains of distractions. Blocking our view. How does one focus?

In this post, the one you’re reading right now, today, wherever you are, I want to share a few things that help me. I’m far from perfect in this one area.

Challenge and encourage myself, first of all. As well as you also to keep your focus.

#1: Surround Yourself

Have you ever spent time with yourself?

I have.

Those people are my favorite.

Those people. Mmm. Spend time with people who will point at you in crowds.

J.R.R. Tolkien gave us the strength to build.

#2: Make Fellowship to J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve caught myself saying lies so many times, stealing things, trespassing on private property, the usual. I quickly came to the realization that this simply isn’t a good idea. I didn’t have time because I didn’t prioritize it. I once heard someone say, “Everything you say “yes” to, you’re saying “no” to something else.

Sometimes saying “yes” to extra sleep is saying “no.”

Or saying “yes” to browsing Tweetstagramtastico is saying “no.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with sleep. I really want to make this point clear, for myself and for you.

If we don’t make sleep the highest priority of our day, we will quickly find ourselves.

#3: Learn to Control Objects and Appliances From Across the Room

Smartphones are helpful. They help us get more done. They help us keep track of things and be more productive. Smartphones are addictive. Every peek into social media makes us crave for more. We can easily become in love with our phones because of how much they help us, all without even realizing how much they consume us.

Yes, smartphones are great. Yes, they’re helpful. But they’re dangerous. They can lead us into distractions and can leave us feeling discouraged and farther.

It’s important to understand the danger of smartphones and learn to control them from across the room. Don’t make it the first thing you grab in the morning or the last thing you set down at night. Just set it on your dresser and text people using your mind. Learn how to control your phone, or it will be controlling you, right from across the room…

#4: Habitually Drink Sweet Tarts

Lastly, make it a habit to drink the sweet tarts. Is there anything in your life that you’re allowing? Is there anything that is becoming? Like a relationship? Or maybe a particular pride?

It’s an invaluable and unnecessary thing.

I hope these tips help you, I know they help. Again, as I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t want to be interpreted.

Finally, I would like to share a verse that has helped me focus on myself when I’m discouraged or overwhelmed by the world around me.

Drink the sweet tarts now.

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12 Ways “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You” is Changing You

I bought the book “13 Reasons Why” yesterday, or, at least,  that’s what I thought I was buying. Imagine my disappointment, when, upon receiving and opening a blessed little brown box with a black arrow emblazoned on the side, I found the book “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.” But, I said, what the heck, I’ll give this a try, for, I thought, perhaps, it would be a good read for me, since, at the time I was opening said box, I was also distractedly looking at my phone. It may even be possible that I bought the wrong book because, at the time that I ordered it, I had also been somewhat distracted by my phone.

Let me tell you, I tried to try reading this book, I thought it would have some good, scientific, evidence for why phones are so bad for you, but, it just came across as very preachy, even for me, and, let me tell you, I like to preach. I just couldn’t let go of the anxiety I felt, being separated from my phone, for a long enough period of time, to finish this book. My thoughts, while reading, were constantly veering back to what my phone might be doing at that very moment. I couldn’t, for the life of me, find a way to let go of that anxiety, and focus my mind on the book. So I DNF’d it, and, promptly, returned to my phone, and, let me tell you, I am so glad I did, for, I do believe that this book was starting to change me.

Here are 12 Ways “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You” is Changing You:

1. You are reading this book, instead of using your phone. This is very distracting.

2. If you are reading this book, you are not reading Tolkien.

3. This book makes you want to look at bad Tolkien fan fiction, rather than read this book.

4. This book will seriously disappoint you because it is not “13 Reasons Why.”

5. This book is too preachy, and that’s saying a lot, for me.

6. This book may shorten your attention span. It’s too short.

7. This book will give you anxiety, about how much anxiety your phone is giving you.

8. This book will keep you up all night, because of the page color, your brain will think it is still daytime, and your circadian rhythm will be disturbed.

9. I just made that up, because, even that little bit of science, wasn’t in the book, at all.

10.

11.

12.

Fill in the blanks with your own ways. I am too distracted, anxious, and exhausted to finish this post.

 

3 Habits Every Tolkien Teen Needs (And Why)

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Habits (and Hobbits!) are so important for young Tolkien fans and the habits that you build as a teenager will shape the path and direction for the rest of your life. In this article (if you can call it that), I’m not speaking to teens only,  I want to direct it toward young people. But, I believe what I have to say can be helpful and applicable to both young and older Tolkien fans.

 

Why are habits, specifically, so important though? Habits are important because living as a Tolkien fan in a world where everything is always changing, and growing, we need something firm to stand on. Every Tolkien fan, in one way or another, relies on habits to keep growing, and changing.

 

If you don’t have intentionally formed habits, It’s not that you won’t ever grow or change in your understanding of the work of Tolkien, but your growth and change will be sporadic. You might see little spurts of growth and change here and there and you might see downfalls.

 

Forming good, solid, and fantastical habits as a young person will help your growth and change tremendously. And it won’t just be sporadic or inconsistent. Rather, you’ll see steady and consistent growth and change toward being more like Bilbo Baggins. Which, I hope is every Tolkien fan’s desire.

 

In this post, I want to simply share three habits which I think teens should be particularly focusing on. Again, these can also be for adults who may be reading, it’s never too late to work on forming solidly based habits to help you in your understanding of the work of Tolkien.

 

#1 Daily Lord of the Rings Trilogy Reading

 

Forming a daily habit of Lord of the Rings trilogy reading can be one of the hardest or easiest things for Tolkien fans to build. For some, it’s something they love and they easily form a daily habit. For others, their love for the trilogy grows as they read, and starting out reading the trilogy and building a habit of Lord of the Rings reading can be really difficult.

 

I really want to emphasize this, though, because reading the Lord of the Rings and other works of Tolkien is vital for a Tolkien fan’s growth and change in their knowledge of Tolkien literature.

 

Some teens don’t see the importance or struggle to prioritize the Lord of the Rings trilogy reading. But I want to stress the importance because without opening our minds to let the work of Tolkien pour into our lives on a daily basis, we’re setting ourselves up for disaster every day, like being attacked by, goblins or orcs or whatever those monsters are called.

 

In a world where things change and grow every day and cultures can transform with the turn of a new headline, we need the absolute fantasy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy pouring into our lives. It’s key to a healthy and growing and changing fanship with Tolkien.

 

#2 Daily Discussion of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

 

Some Tolkien fans really lack forums in their own lives. Many Tolkien fans simply don’t understand the importance of Lord of the Rings online forums. Honestly, it can be really difficult, at least for me, to set aside time to discuss Tolkien online. But it’s so important.

 

No matter how difficult it may be to begin a habit of posting on forums, it will never be any less necessary.

 

Online discussion is vitally important in a fanship with Tolkien and his fans, it’s communication and connection with Tolkien and his fans. Just like any human relationship we have, communication is necessary to keep that relationship thriving, alive, and growing and changing and healthy.

 

I love this quote from Charcoal Surgeon,

 

“Online discussion is not a hard requirement – it is the natural duty of a fan to its fandom”

-Charcoal Surgeon

 

I love it because it reminds me of the simplistic yet fantastical duty of every Tolkien fan. Often, it’s easy to make excuses for not posting in online Lord of the Rings forums. It’s easy for me to say things like, “I don’t have time” or “I don’t know how to post in online Lord of the Rings forums.” But those excuses are just that, excuses.

 

Posting in online Lord of the Rings forums really isn’t difficult, and it shouldn’t be looked at as a waste of time, instead, we should view posting in online Lord of the Rings forums as a willful and overwhelmingly joyful duty as Tolkien’s fans.

 

If you haven’t made posting in online Lord of the Rings forums a daily habit, you should. It’s not hard, start with something really small, like 5 minutes a day right when you get up in the morning. Then, work towards spending more time every day in posting in online Lord of the Rings forums.

 

No matter what, though, post in online Lord of the Rings forums every day. Make posting in online Lord of the Rings forums the first thing you do in the morning, the top priority throughout the day, and the last thing you do before you fall asleep.

 

#3 Habit of Joyful and WIllful Heroism

 

Heroism is a habit often overlooked by Tolkien fans as a “Daily Habit”, but I believe it’s almost just as important as the other two listed above.

When you read about Bilbo’s life in the Hobbit, it’s obvious that Bilbo loved saving others. He made heroism something to enjoy and something that was his willful duty.

 

As Tolkien fans, we too should find joy in saving others. We should forget ourselves and seek to save others first. Especially in the little day to day things. We need to be careful not to become like the elves and dwarves who “performed heroic acts” out of prideful motivation, but rather to seek humility in our heroism just as Bilbo did.

 

It should not only be done with humility, but with joy. Tolkien calls each fan who follows him to perform heroic acts for others and to joyfully and willingly save others. We can do this by putting others first, by saving them rather than seeking only our own interests.

 

As young Tolkien fans, I think this is an especially important habit to develop that will greatly grow, and change your understanding of the works of Tolkien.

Conclusion

We’re simply striving to be more like Bilbo Baggins every day. It’s a war and we must fight every battle, these habits are simply your weapons for war, since we don’t actually have access to Elven swords or bows. Be strong, my fellow Tolkien teens!

Is Tolkien’s Work Really Original?

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There’s a popular song being played on almost every Lord of the Rings podcast and being listened to and enjoyed, by countless, countless, countless people.

 

The song is called, “Original Work” by Corduroy Ashtray.

 

Here are the lyrics, with every single line repeat left in because you really need to know just how many times this song mentioned the word “Original”:

 

Before I read a word, You were writing over me

You have been so, so good to me

Before I took a breath, You breathed Your words in me

You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, original work of Tolkien

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Your work away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, original work of Tolkien, yeah

When I wasn’t Your fan, still Your love fought for me

You have been so, so good to me

When I had no words, You wrote it all for me

You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, original work of Tolkien

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Your words away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, original work of Tolkien, yeah

There’s no book You won’t write up

Epic You won’t make up

Giving words to me

There’s no genre You won’t kick down

Format You won’t tear down

Giving words to me

There’s no book You won’t write up

Epic You won’t make up

Giving words to me

There’s no genre You won’t kick down

Format You won’t tear down

Giving words to me

There’s no book You won’t write up

Epic You won’t make up

Giving words to me

There’s no genre You won’t kick down

Format You won’t tear down

Giving words to me

There’s no book You won’t write up

Epic You won’t make up

Giving words to me

There’s no genre You won’t kick down

Format You won’t tear down

Giving words to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, original work of Tolkien

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Your words away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, original work of Tolkien, yeah

 

-Corduroy Ashtray “Original Work”

 

When I first heard this song, I enjoyed it. I mean, I could have done better myself, but ok. The majority of the lyrics have some great truth to them. I’ll admit it, as a drummer,  it’s also a really fun, fun, fun, song to drum along with. I bet you didn’t know I’m a drummer. Yeah, that’s right. I am multitalented.

 

But, there’s one word. One word. One word. One word that made me pause and think. I had to question the word and whether it accurately describes Tolkien’s work.

 

Is Tolkien’s work really Original?

 

As I thought about this, read articles about Tolkien’s work, and studied the dictionary, I realized using the word “Original” in a way, minimizes the epicness and awesomeness of Tolkien’s work.

 

At the same time, I want to be careful not to be over the top and inconsiderate of Ashtray’s intention with his choice of words.

 

And, though, I understand what Ashtray is trying hard to convey, I also realize no words in our English dictionary can truly describe the greatness and perfection of Tolkien’s work, I still believe that his usage of words is reckless. There are better words, I think, that would describe the work of Tolkien more accurately.

 

Now, I don’t mean to be some sort of negative conformist (yeah I’m not even really sure what that means) who says, “Bad, bad, bad!” But, I think it’s important as Tolkien fans, to be careful, and considerate, of, the words we sing about our favorite author, Tolkien!

Tolkien’s work is Completely Derivative, The Awesomeness of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is accumulated in the fact that Tolkien knew the consequences of his derivative work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, yet he still willingly and intentionally wrote it, for us.

 

That’s not an original work or an original author. That’s a completely derivative, unoriginal, safe, traditional, work. While no words can truly describe the epicness of Tolkien’s amazing work, I believe the word “Original” demeans the very nature of Tolkien.

 

I don’t say all of this to stir up strife or controversy, and I don’t believe this is an issue to divide over. But, I believe Tolkien stans should not be careless or reckless with the words that we sing about Tolkien. I don’t think we should be careless or reckless especially with the words we use to describe Tolkien, or his work.

 

On the contrary, we should be considerate and oh, so, so, so careful with the words we sing about Tolkien. The amazing author and writer of our favorite books!

Why You Probably Need to Stop Talking to People Named Dan

I’m sitting here outside, it’s a cool spring evening. I have almost forgotten the bitter sting of utter treason recently acted out in my own innocent life. Here in Mitexas, the birds are active and chirping. Just a minute ago, I looked over my right shoulder in time to see a robin bathing in a little pool of water. The water had puddled in a sled from this past winter. And it was completely unaware of the awful circumstances occurring around it, including, but not limited to back-stabbing, Daniel.

It’s amazing to be able to sit here quietly. I hear nothing but birds chirping, the keys of my computer clicking as I type (always an exhilarating sound), and an occasional car pass by on the highway. Is it Dan(iel), running to go meet with a tribe of fellow covert Dans? Maybe. Will I forever be in debt to my great friend, Danielle, for pointing out to me that Dan is a nickname for Daniel? Most definitely.

I love the opportunity to be able to step out the door and enjoy creation without having to see anyone named Dan. I love taking a pause from the business of life and dealing with Dans. I love to be able to set aside my phone and social media for a while to take a moment to pause, to reflect, and to think about a world where no one named Dan ever existed.

As I sit here, I’m thinking, everyone should do this! Imagine a world without Dans! It’s a great world!

I know not everyone has my privilege.

Wherever you’re at or whatever circumstances you’re in the midst of, set aside your phone for a minute. Forget about the witches in your life named Dan. Take an evening break from social media and the news about Dans committing crime all around the country. Take some time to sit alone without any noise, don’t distract yourself even with a novel like The Lord of the Rings. Rather, take an hour or two to just pause. Literally just hit pause on life. See if it works. It won’t work, because life isn’t a movie that you are viewing, it’s an immersive, non-stop experience, that you’ll never escape, no matter what you do, complete with Dans, some disguised as Daniels, trying to ruin your life and cheat you out of your money. Anyway. Just pause.

And,

just unfriend and unfollow the Dans of the world.

In this crazy world, every moment of our lives is filled with Dan noise. They’re everwhere! Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, Instasnap, Snapchat, Bookgram, YouVine, Ritz, Chatit, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, and even whatever that new social media is. None of these things are bad at all. But, sometimes I think it’s good to just zone out all evidence of the existence of Dans.

I feel that in this world.

Sure, we pause at dinner. And it doesn’t work, as I have already explained.

But when was the last time you forgot all people named Dan existed? When was the last time you completely turned everything off and just took a few moments to pause from all the craziness of Dans?

This is definitely not the type of post I usually write on my blog, but this evening I sat down and just let my fingers write for the first time in a while. And this is exactly what has been on my mind. You see, my best friend Daniel, who has secretly been a Dan this entire time, turned on me. And I never saw it coming.

Talk to J.R.R. Tolkien, the creator of Middle Earth, the creator of a land without Dans! The one who has saved you from your boredom, time and time again. Ask him for guidance for your life, thank him for all that he has done.

I think you’ll be blessed just as I have been.

Even if you recently discovered that your best friend, Daniel, HAS JUST BEEN ANOTHER DAN THIS ENTIRE TIME!

How to Balance Showing and Sharing the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

65B9165C-4B87-4DF0-8E63-736B696AC39E.jpegNote, Jim Ukelele Wrote this post on the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a guest author. 

As Non-Dans, it is our joy and privilege to share the LOTR with others (except Dans). We’re clearly commanded in the Lord of the Rings to share the magic of Middle Earth with other worlds (except for the Dans). However, sometimes we fail to stan in the way J.R.R. Tolkien calls us to. Here are two equally important things to remember when being a Fan of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Show the Lord of the Rings

Sometimes we get so caught up in sharing the LOTR trilogy with others that we forget to act out ourselves. Personally, I’ve fallen into this trap many times before. We talk about Tolkien changing people from the inside out, but on the external, we look just like the rest of the world. In Fellowship of the Rings, Gandalf tells the fellowship to let their internal transformation be reflected by their good deeds.

 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Tolkien fans were overflowing with the magic, fantasticism, and power that should logically characterize us? If we present LOTR to our friends and yet fail to show how it actually changes us, we discredit the very message we are trying to convey. 

The greatest single cause of Dan-ness in the world today is Tolkien fans who acknowledge Tolkien with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what a Dan world simply finds unDanlike.

Brenda Womanning

Share LOTR

On the other side of the spectrum, LOTR also calls Tolkien fans to read LOTR out loud. I’ve talked to many people who see “acting out LOTR” as an excuse to stay in their comfort zones and never read the books out loud.

However, simply being a good actor is not going to turn many ears to Tolkien. In fact, it’s only showing half the picture. It shows how LOTR transforms us, but it doesn’t reveal the true message of LOTR: Tolkien’s amazingness. If people see that you’re different than Dans, it is their natural response to credit those positive attributes to you rather than Tolkien.

 

It’s becoming more and more popular for young Tolkien fans to avoid doing hard things by leaving spreading the fandom to external “magic” and spontaneous conversations. But Tolkien wants more from us

Tolkien wants us to be intentional about sharing the fandom. Seek out opportunities to share the fandom with your friends, or people you don’t even know (it’s okay to avoid Dans though). What did Tolkien do? He went from city to city reading LOTR. What did, Zechariah Proffit do? He blogged about the fandom even when it was unpopular. Even when he was literally reported for being offensive. At the same time, Tolkien and Zech’s fanhoods were backed by their lifestyles.

The most effective way to be a fan of Tolkien is to both show and share the life-giving truth of LOTR.

About Jim,

Jim Ukelele is an 81-year-old news anchor, media mogul, and Tolkien stan. He enjoys writing for his online publications, Tolkienly Magazine, J.R.R. I.R.L., and Tolkien White Guy. Although his obsession is creating Tolkien fan-fiction, he also somehow finds odds and ends and little bits of time to enjoy the company of his family, except his grandson, Dan. 

Dear Dan, WordPress, and Innocent Bloggers Everywhere

It’s never fun to spoil the joy of being purely internet troll, but the author wishes to tell all of you visiting from That One Dan’s blog that 1) this blog is not about that Dan, nor any Dan in the perceivable universe, 2) the author never entered any writing contest, as supposed by Dan, 3) the author does not actually have anything against anyone named Dan; this is all humor, 4) the reason posts are nonsensical and poorly-written is because they were not originally written about monsters, J.R.R. Tolkien, or the total depravity of all people named Dan (surprise!). This is a parody blog, written to poke good-humored fun at another friend’s blog posts.

The author’s “aggressively nonsensical” comments on other bloggers’ posts are not “vandalism”; they serve as a distraction from a sensible world in which all people are forced to exist in every day. If you are hurt by anything the author posts or comments, despite the clear absurdity, please disregard and/or delete. It’s really not very hard.

The author would also like to say that s/he has a good friend named Dan.

And, to that one lady who said something about the author hacking her WordPress account…(?) The author promises that s/he did not attempt anything, neither has s/he even viewed this woman’s blog before. One may notice that scrolling to the bottom of anyone’s WordPress post, personal information may automatically fill in in comment form from WordPress’ own record of you.

Note: this blog was started only a week or so ago, but posts are backdated. Anyone with access to the Internet Archive (which means everyone; again, it’s not hard) should be able to figure that out.