A Fortunately Timed Fortune

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A little over one week ago, a fortune cookie told me, “You will inherit a large sum of money from an unusual source.” I posted a picture of it on Instagram stating, “I think this fortune cookie is trying to tell me I’ll be playing poker again soon.” At the end of the day, I made a wish and tucked it in the corner of my bathroom mirror, directly below a message of hope I’d scribbled to myself on the glass months ago: “Impossible things happen every day.”

Five days later, I found the opportunity I had wished for. I learned that Daniel Negreanu was going to buy one very lucky soul into the World Series of Poker’s Main Event. All I needed to do to enter was make a video saying why he should pick me in 30 seconds or less. The impossible had become possible.

I spent the next four days working and pondering what I should say. I could try to recall the dream I had that launched me on my quest to become a writer, artist, and poker player. I could boast that I believe I have the skills needed to go all the way. I could promise to donate a portion of my winnings and anything I crochet during the WSOP to charity. I could admit that poker helped me develop strength of character, patience, and the ability to endure bad beats. I wanted to say all of that (because it’s all true), but there wasn’t time.

So, I draped two of the scarves I’ve crocheted over the top of my gate and set out some of my art and vintage card decks on the ledge below to create a backdrop that would give a peek into the breadth of my passion for poker. Then, I used my video to tell Daniel three other honest reasons to pick me which I didn’t think anyone else would say. First, I stated my belief that I can get other women interested in the game. Next, because I’d seen a video suggesting that WSOP players are getting too serious, I suggested I could help bring back the fun. (I’m often up for conversation and full of wit and puns.) Finally, I told him about my fortune cookie’s prediction.

I decided that the odds of anyone who’s entering the contest getting that same message right now are lower than the odds it will come true. I decided to accept it was possible that this time, for whatever reason, God sent me a sign in a cookie. I decided there were reasons beyond the ones I knew when I nicknamed myself the Gold Digging Grinder. I decided to believe that it might be my time and mentally prepare for the fact that my life could change overnight. I decided to let Daniel Negreanu decide if that cookie was telling the truth.

 

Translation: Just Stay Calm

Life is like a hand of poker – you shuffle the deck and deal it out… and everything that happens depends both on how those cards fall and the reactions of each player at the table. Some things are under your control while others are a matter of chance. However, if you remain calm, examine every aspect of the hand as it plays out, choose your moves wisely, and believe that everything will work out as it should, it will. Last week was a perfect example.

I awoke Monday morning to an email from an author who’s children’s book I translated from English to Spanish in rhyme. The author had gotten my copy proofread by a friend and she now wanted to call me the Spanish Interpreter and her friend the Spanish Translator. I was livid, but I knew better than to respond while in that state. I’m a Sagittarius – a fire sign. Calm is not an emotion I feel on a deeper level very often. However, I try not to play “on tilt” or while “steaming” on the felt or in life. There’s a reason those terms are used to describe players when they’re frustrated or angry and letting it affect their game: because experience has shown that it doesn’t work out well.

So, I whined to my parents about the dilemma, spent a few hours searching for sea glass on the beach and sorting my thoughts, then attempted to write a response. I still wanted to say, “How dare you make me share my title with her?! She’s just a proofreader!” Instead, having not yet seen the revised copy which could reveal that my translation was full of errors (despite the fact that I too had it proofread), I said, “I’m confused about why I’m being asked to relinquish my title to someone who seems to be playing the role of editor/proofreader…” and that I would really like to see the revised copy. Rather than bully the author with a response equivalent to a pot-sized bet, I checked and asked to see the next card.

Tuesday morning I received the pdf of the new Spanish version of the book. It seemed like all my worst fears had come true. It was full of errors for which “typo” seemed too kind a word… and the author had written her friend’s name right after mine and the words “Traducido por”. We appeared like a team even though I was the one who had altered the Spanish translation to keep rhythm and rhyme. I was so upset I couldn’t imagine how I was going to respond again without being rude. That time it took nearly 36 hours, a lot of whining to friends and family about my dilemma, and a few suggested responses from my sister before I could stop steaming and pick my next move.

I decided the best way to be kind (bet small) was to pretend that the majority of the mistakes were merely typos and to find a way to focus on something bigger. I decided to try not to say anything mean about the editor as I still had no firsthand knowledge of what she was like and I had noticed at least a few spots where I agreed with her corrections. I remembered that, while you might need to bully your fellow poker players to learn about their hand, in life people are often more than willing to answer your questions.

So, I began by trying to determine if they’d edited the book with items of concern to me in mind. Did the editor know the story was supposed to rhyme? Had the author requested the editor ensure my language wasn’t too formal and accidentally allowed slang terms in her book? I then gave examples of places where I felt the changes made were unnecessary and unfavorable because they took out rhymes. I offered to edit my copy one more time, but said we might need someone else to double check the final copy if we wanted to be 100% sure there were no grammar errors. I admitted I could see spots where good corrections had been made, but said there were so many mistakes in it now that I wouldn’t want my name on it at all… and that she did not have permission to use my new rhyming, non-literally translated lines without my name… and that I was not okay with the editor being listed as co-translator.

Thursday morning I got a (forwarded) email “from” the editor saying she would be happy to meet with me to go over the changes in person – an option I’d thrown in at the end of my email, but wasn’t too eager to pursue unless she proved to be more educated than she currently appeared. Her response said she was a certified translator and would be happy to show her resume, but I couldn’t forget the fact that the book was a mess. Furthermore, the author hadn’t responded to my concerns about my title. So, I prodded her. I said that I needed a response on “the co-translator vs. sole translator” concern before I did any more work on the project.

The hours ticked by slowly once I pressed send on that final email. I was worried I’d pushed too hard (bet too big), but also that I might have to take things further in order to stand up for myself. I began to cave in to the fear that I would have to investigate my legal rights to these new lines. I wanted to stay calm and behave as if I knew everything would work out, but I couldn’t stop worrying about what move I would need to make next. I didn’t want to take things to the next level, but I would if I had to.

That evening, the author called. She said she wanted to apologize and that everything was her fault. She had typed up the draft from the editor’s handwritten notes and failed to show her the pdf  before she sent it to me. All the things I’d decided to pretend were typos actually were.

Next, the author explained why she wanted to call me the Spanish Interpreter: because I had done far more for her than the average translator and she felt this work deserved a different title, a better one. She was very grateful for the special care I had taken with her work and wanted to be sure that was reflected in the credits just as much as I did. She also happily agreed to list her friend as the editor, not the translator, and said that the editor herself had never asked for published credit and had acknowledged long ago that our roles were quite different.

On Saturday, when I received the corrected draft, I was reminded of another good reason to play nice in life: so people will be kind back when you screw up. It turned out I had forgotten to translate an entire page, but the author kindly suggested the possibility that she might have overlooked it in the files when she informed me of this fact. Everything had worked out just as it should. What went around, came around. I’m not sure if I’ll worry less the next time I’m faced with a challenge of similar proportions, but for once I think I stand a chance. After all, the title of the children’s book I translated is “Everything Changes, Including Me” and I don’t think I’ll forget how beautifully this all worked out anytime soon.

My Game: Short on Cash, Full of Hope

It was not long after I had my heart broken two months in a row by two different men and just before I had to humiliate myself and ask my dad to lend me more money to pay my bills that I risked and lost the rest of my bankroll. I thought I’d been sent a sign that my luck was changing. I thought February 11th was the day. I thought I was going to win… or at least place high enough to win half my bankroll back as I’d done on Christmas Eve… but, instead, I left with nothing but the feeling that perhaps I’m not playing the games of poker, life, or love as well as I thought.

I berated myself for thinking that, at least sometimes, I play better poker when feeling down and out in life. I kicked myself for thinking that my game improves when I’m down to a chip and a chair. I ate junk food when feeling too lazy to cook. I let the dust and clutter (which had taken a lot of help to clear out in the winter) begin to accumulate once again. I played a lot of free poker on Poker Stars. Eventually, I visited my backer and told him I’d lost our cash. Unlike my own reaction, he was not upset with me for a single moment and still believes I can find a way to make my dreams come true.

When the time came to admit to my dad that I needed his help once again, I had begun to fear that I had gone too far. I didn’t want to give up on my dreams, but if I couldn’t find a way to support myself, I would feel like I needed to. I let myself dread the moment for so long that I ended up leaving my dad a voicemail request that he make a deposit for me the next day. Thankfully, my father knows how hard I push myself and promptly deposited the loan and sent a heaping dose of love and well wishes along with it.

After a few additional unexpected gifts from friends floated into my life, seemingly to distract me from the despair I was still fighting over my struggle to pay the bills, it finally hit me. Although I thought I had been doing it all along, I wasn’t truly loving myself or believing in myself fully. I had failed to go all-in on my dream. Despite the fact that I technically had the time, I hadn’t spent much of my spare time pitching articles to magazines or trying to find more retail shops that want to sell my candles. I had continuously looked for jobs I didn’t love to help me keep the bills paid. Perhaps the reason I couldn’t find anything better than what I have is because I’m better at convincing others I will achieve my dream than I am at actually taking the steps to achieve it.

Still, I needed cash fast… and writing gigs don’t pay right away… and it’s harder to sell candles in the Spring and Summer because people burn more candles when it’s cold outside. So, I took a sales job through Craigslist… because I finally found something that sounded fun… and it was great… for about a month.

Then, suddenly, I realized that, if I spent as much time and energy promoting my own products in the days to come as I’d spent in the previous month promoting someone else’s, perhaps I could finally find success. Perhaps I’d finally spent enough time worrying, brooding, planning, and preparing. Perhaps that time had been more fruitful than I thought and I actually had been loving myself by indulging the stress of allowing my brain to spit out a plethora of problem solving ideas on all those difficult days. Perhaps creating and brainstorming were the best ways to show myself love then, it just wasn’t the case anymore.

Now is the time for action. Now is the time to remember that I sold over $1500 in candles at A Crimson Holiday in La Cumbre Mall this past winter and find a few places open year round with similar earning potential. Now is the time to be proud of my newfound ability to translate children’s books from English to Spanish in rhyme and find the authors who need my services. Now is the time to wear my leggings to places that might be interested in buying a wholesale lot to sell. Now is the time to write the articles I’ve been mulling over for months and pitch them to the right publications.

Perhaps it was fate that I lose my bankroll (for now) because I had gotten distracted from everything else I was working on. Both life and the game of poker have a tendency to provide you with a metaphorical slap upside the head whenever you need it most. Now that I’ve recovered from mine, I’m excited to see what comes next. I think there’s a good chance it will be awesome and help me somehow find a way back to the felt. One good thing leads to another, right? Or, am I just thinking that way because I’m a gambler who’s short on cash, but full of hope and love?

Are You With Me?

As I tucked my latest winnings into my bankroll, safely separated from my everyday cash, it dawned on me that I hadn’t truly specified what I plan to do with my profits and, since you may think the number one reason I love poker is the potential of winning money, I figured it’s about time I tell you that you are wrong. While many people choose a career (at least in part) based on its income potential, I chose mine based on what I felt called to do by God. I can’t say that winning a jackpot wouldn’t bring me an immense amount of pleasure, but I can say that becoming rich is not my goal.

Playing poker has improved my decision making skills immeasurably and helped to make me brave enough to face the life challenges I confront on a daily basis in order to pursue entrepreneurial lifestyle I desire. Thus, the lessons learned while playing and the feelings that the game evokes are the reasons I most love the game. The money is just a means to an end, both for myself and all the other underdogs of the world. In my mind, I’m playing for all of us.

I have big plans for my bankroll. I want to turn my original $1,000 into $15,000+ for the 2017 World Series of Poker. I then hope to win enough to give my backer a hefty payday, make sizable donations to charity, and have plenty leftover to support my life as a writer and entrepreneur. In addition to my lofty goals for the near future, I have some more urgent needs from my bankroll – to pay some of my bills and provide my backer with enough rewards to not feel guilty about gambling with his money. So, I sketched a bankroll payout chart to envision how I can accomplish all of the above.

My first payday will come when my bankroll first goes over $2,500. I will take $300 and my backer will get $200. We will repeat this payout method for every $1,500 or so that the bankroll increases up to the $15,000 mark and then keep all “extra” cash in play through the end of the World Series of Poker. At the end of the series, my backer and I will split the winnings 60/40 and I will become a wholly independent player. Once I have some idea how much money I may have available to donate to charity – 10% minimum is the plan – I will reveal what causes I find most worthy and allow the public to help me decide who gets what.

So, there you have it. I am not your average player. I play to gather the information needed to write my novel. I play to become stronger and wiser. I play because I want to take money from “the rich” and give it to the poor. I play because God told me that is where I was meant to be. What I want to know is, are you with me? Do you believe in me yet?

Reading the Universe’s Game

Am I, or am I not, reading the world correctly? That is the question. I thought the universe was telling me to return to the felt, so I found a bankroll and got back to playing poker at the casino. The results have been mixed. I also thought I had found the day job I would keep until I became a full-time freelance writer… but I lost that job last week. I got into playing poker as an adult because I wanted to improve my people reading skills to the utmost degree and it feels as if now is the moment of truth. Is it possible that the only thing I needed to finish transitioning to my new path was the time to do so?

I was at the Laundromat last Tuesday when I missed a call from my boss from my day job and, soon thereafter, got a text asking if I could meet with him that night or the next morning before work. My gut immediately told me I was about to be let go, but I spent every minute until we were face to face convincing myself I was overreacting. Then it happened, just as my instincts had predicted. On the one hand, I was sad to lose a job at a place I enjoy very much. On the other hand, I was intrigued by how boldly and accurately my gut had spoken.

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Just five days prior, I’d had the magical experience of witnessing a monarch’s first flight at the job I would soon no longer have. Someone special had gifted me a chrysalis and I had been watching it grow in the window for more than a week. I held it for at least five phenomenal minutes as it stretched and dried it’s wings to prepare to soar, marveling at the fact it had only taken ten days to transform from caterpillar to butterfly. When I found myself at home with far more free time than expected, wondering what the immediate future will hold, I couldn’t help but think of that butterfly. Perhaps it was sent to show me that my caterpillar phase is complete – after a short hibernation, I will be ready to fly.

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So, for the past week, I have been attempting to split my time and efforts to fix my financial issues 50/50 between traditional and entrepreneurial methods. I created a Zazzle shop full of goods (playing cards, journals, reusable bags, leggings, and more – 58 items and counting) using the artistic texture images I’ve been selling on Shutterstock (600 background textures and counting). I am exploring various options for affiliate marketing that might be appropriate for this blog. (I aim to provide honest, quality product recommendations with links and refrain from adding pop ups or banners.) I have been working on querying more magazines with my article ideas. I am drafting serious marketing plans for Homemade by Hoyt in hopes of getting my products back on local stores’ shelves and into the hands of many more consumers. In between all of that, I am picking up extra barista shifts and applying for new jobs of all kinds.

So far, I’ve only sold one Zazzle order (Thanks, dad!) and one custom candle, but it feels like many more blessings are about to come. I have two other (potentially large) candle orders coming soon and I got scheduled to work at a catering event this Saturday at one of the many wineries within short driving distance of the casino (which seems like a sign in itself). Saturday is the tenth day since I was let go from my day job. The butterfly took only ten days to transform. Someone else is paying for my gas to drive to and from the casino on the tenth day of my transformation. I have a bankroll that’s been waiting around for me to feel unemotional enough to play. Thus, I will follow these signs and head to the poker table when I get off work this Saturday because that’s what I think you would want me to do. Am I right?

Call Me The Gold Digging Grinder

Shortly after my IndieGoGo campaign failed miserably, people began asking me how I was doing at poker. Trying with all my might not to show my sorrow over the missed opportunity, I explained that I couldn’t afford to play. I had been unable to sell enough candles to afford the time off work to go to the tournaments that my backer had agreed to fund. The plan was void and my “game” was struggling to stay alive. What I didn’t say was that things had actually gotten worse for me. My hours were cut (again) at one of my jobs and I realized I would soon have to request yet another loan from my dad to keep my bills paid – an act which pains me like no other. At times, the most optimistic thought I could muster was, “You’ve hit rock bottom. There’s nowhere to go but up.”

I took a few days to wallow, then made myself get back to working as hard as possible to dig myself out of the muck. As I resumed juggling two jobs, occasional catering gigs, a candle business, and my writing career, I found myself feeling increasingly confident about my career path despite the lack of stable finances to prove it. After nearly twenty years in town with only two or three sightings, I crossed paths with three celebrities whose work holds meaning for me in a single week – The Dude, Dori, and P!nk. I took it as a sign to “Take it easy, man.” and “Just keep swimming!” knowing that, in loving myself because “no one could be just like me anyway,” I could, “light the world up for just one day,” each and every day I chose to show myself that kindness.

Lo and behold, I was finally right. As I walked taller, content with my status as a poor but published writer, happily bragging about my article in Santa Barbara Magazine (p. 108 – Perfectly Illogical) by day, it became easier to find inspiration to write and create Boxes of Flare by night. I bid on and secured a chance to write blog posts and case studies for a local company which does extremely interesting work (thanks to a referral from a friend). Then, thanks to my penchant for conversing with strangers, I stumbled into an astounding interview opportunity and felt my world begin to change and warp speed. I now have a collection of interesting information I must find time to pitch to the appropriate publications (as it is certain to take my career to the next level) and am amassing a list of people to interview next.

One week after I was showered with blessings by a group of Tibetan Monks (a story for another time… maybe), engrossed in my researching my next writing projects with every spare moment, it took me nearly fifteen minutes to realize I was sitting next to Kevin Costner – the man whose famous line, “If you build it, they will come,” had long been used to justify my multi-faceted approach to constructing a creative career. He caught me sneaking a peek at him and, to reassure him that I was merely looking because I’d recognized his voice and didn’t hear whatever was being discussed in his meeting, I added, “I’m a poker player.” before “It’s nice to meet you.” I realized how brightly I am now shining when I turned back to my phone while he chose not to end the conversation there. “Are you any good?” he asked with a smile. We chatted for more than a moment about poker and each of our writing careers, then went our separate ways. (Did you know Kevin Costner recently published a book – Explorer’s Guild? I didn’t know until he told me, but hope to check it out soon!)

The next night I went out to karaoke, heard that my local casino has a very big tournament coming up soon – $100,000 guaranteed prize pool – and began to think it might be time to make my move. A few days later, I went back to my backer and asked if he would still be willing to give me that bankroll he handed me a few months ago for the World Series of Poker. He said yes. So, this Friday, August 12th, on my 16 year un-anniversary, I will break in my new bankroll. It marks approximately 14 years since I got divorced and roughly 12 years since my dream to become a writer began. It seems like the perfect day to celebrate the fact I am finally (at least mostly – no one is perfect) the woman I always wanted to be.

You can call me The Gold Digging Grinder. (Click here if you don’t know what a grinder is in the poker world.) I don’t date men to get my hands on their money, but I metaphorically dig for gold every day. Whether I am working at one of the jobs that keeps me out of the house 40+ hours per week, informing designers about my handmade candles with custom colors, pitching my next article to a magazine or transcribing an interview, uploading more background texture photos to my Shutterstock portfolio, or (coming up soon) grinding for riches on the felt with my somewhat rusty poker skills, I give my all and seek to make each moment sparkle. My bankroll is not gigantic, but I believe it could be enough to launch a career. It feels as if I’m striking gold everywhere I discuss my writing career lately. It is time to take that luck and confidence to the felt.

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The Night I Got My Bankroll

We normally play poker for pennies, but today we cemented a priceless bond. I missed his birthday party yesterday because I was working (10:45 AM to 10:40 PM with an hour break to commute and change clothes in between jobs) and had come to celebrate with him for a little bit… and ask a big favor. I pulled out the super size dark beer I had brought to share (the only gift I could find in my house to bring), he poured us each a glass, and then I popped the question. “I need to ask you,” I said, taking a deep breath, “How serious were you when you said you would be willing to give me a $1,000 for the World Series of Poker?”

“I could give you $1,000,” he said as he sat up a bit taller, listening intently to the two minute description of my IndieGoGo campaign and the poker tournaments I hoped to play in should the plan to fund my artisan candle maker and freelance writing career succeed. Then, he simply said, “Okay,” or, “That sounds fun,” grabbed his checkbook, and handed me my bankroll. It was the most surreal moment of my life to date. It got even crazier when he suggested that I only owe him the $1,000 should I win and nothing if I lose. I had to explain that he deserved the lion’s share of any profits I acquire. I am a nobody and this is a huge sum to be given with no strings attached. For taking this type of chance on me, I believe he deserves 60% of my profits (after taxes).

So, who is this crazy man willing to throw gambling money my way? Around these parts (my blog), he is known as Willy. One of the first stories I posted here was about our penny poker games and the way he and his friends make me feel like a poker shark. We met about nine years ago through one of my many jobs. He is a bit older than me and has admitted he finds me attractive, but he has never made me feel he expects anything in return for any of the generosity he has shown me over the years. All he has ever done was remind me that there are great people disguised as average human beings everywhere you turn. It’s unlikely anyone would have predicted this level of friendship would grow between us, but it merely goes to show that you truly never know what can happen unless you ask for what you want.

My IndieGoGo campaign is already 40% over and I am only 5% funded, but I have the seemingly least attainable piece of the puzzle already in my hands. If you fund the campaign designed to help me break free of my minimum wage evening job by Friday, I will reveal the identity of my backer. This angel gave me the funds to buy my way into the poker tournaments that will make my entire dream possible. I would leave this Saturday morning to visit my cousin and interview her about her experience surviving a double lung transplant then play in the $20,000 guaranteed first prize No Limit Hold’em tournament at Lucky Chances Casino in Daly City on Sunday before driving home. The following Wednesday, I will enter the satellite tournament for the World Series of Poker Main Event at Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. The rest will be up to fate to decide.

Help Me! I’m Not Sick, But I Am.

Most people give up once plans A, B, and C fail. Me? I move on to Plans D, E, F, G, and H simultaneously, believing that if I work exponentially harder and smarter I will eventually achieve my goals. I’m fairly certain I’ve exhausted multiple alphabets’ worth of plans at this point in my quest to earn a respectable proportion of my income as an artisan candle maker and freelance writer… but I have not given up! I began changing my eating habits around the same time I got serious about building a writing career, about three years ago, believing that my physical and emotional (creative) well-being are intricately related. I now believe that the proof of my determination to live my dreams and its effect on my health is written all over my pale, bony body, for better or worse.

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Dec 2013
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June 2016

Beginning about six months ago, when I first slid into a size two after more than a decade as a plus size woman, friends, both close and long lost, often through Facebook, began inquiring what I had done to lose all the weight. This group of friends thinks I look amazing and wants to know what I did so they can yield similar results. At the same time, a smaller but still noticeable portion of my friends inquired if I was/am sick. These people seem genuinely concerned I might have cancer as I have never been anywhere near this thin the entire time they’ve known me. After thoroughly pondering this dichotomy, I have come to the conclusion that both groups of people are seeing part of the current me accurately. I am both healthier and happier than I’ve ever been and a bit sick and tired of the race, holding a high potential to lose my mind. I lost the weight in healthy ways – juicing, eating more vegetables, lowering my overall caloric intake and cooking my own meals from scratch as much as possible – but I’ve been eating plenty of sweets, bagels, and other formerly forbidden foods lately in order to maintain my weight.
Ever since I took a night job as a barista seven months ago, I’ve struggled to find time to prepare even the most basic meals. It’s not that I have zero free time, but all of it has been monopolized by my dreams. I work 40 to 50 hours at “real jobs” to keep my bills paid – positions which inspire me and fuel my creative heartfire – and the only thing I want to do most days is work on my dreams. I don’t wake up wondering what I want to eat for breakfast. I wake up wondering how many writing, candle, or photo projects I can complete before I head out to work and/or after work before I need to go to bed. Food is an afterthought. I feel honestly too busy to care if my stomach is growling some days. It’s not exactly a healthy attitude. I scrutinize my behavior enough to ensure that I eat at least 1200 to 1600 calories per day and began taking daily vitamins (most of the time) to make up for my sacrificed nutritional moral code.
The deep, dark truth of the matter is that juggling all of my needs and desires is beginning to drive me a bit crazy. I must do the thing I hate to do most. I must ask for help. I must admit I cannot achieve my dreams alone. You are my only hope.
I realized I needed your help months ago, but it took a bit more time to figure out a plan that would lead to success. Not having a night or weekend job would open up the time I desire for candle making, writing, traveling, and playing poker. Unfortunately for me, I need money now. Thankfully, I have a plan. If you would be so kind as to support me in at least one of the following ways, I believe my dreams can come true:
1) SHARE MY STORY – This is the most important part. I need the support of several hundred people for my plan to work and know that it’s unlikely I will find that many in my immediate circle of friends. I have around 1000 contacts between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I’m fairly certain I can not get 40-50% of you to buy in to my plan literally. However, if ten to twenty people with 500 friends I don’t know share my story, I would only have to engage around 5% of the audience to succeed. That seems possible.
2) SUPPORT MY BOX OF FLARE CAMPAIGN ON INDIEGOGO -This is my plan to raise the capital needed to break my unhealthy cycle. This plan will buy me time at home to work on my dreams and nourish my body and (possibly) buy me some time to play poker and work on my novel.
4) BUY A PIECE OF MY POKER ACTION – I attempted to set up a campaign for backers on YouStake.com, but have been unable to get them to add the tournaments I wish to compete in to their database. Please contact me directly if you would be interested in backing me in the $350 NL Holdem tournament on Sunday, June 26th at Lucky Chances Casino ($20,000 guaranteed first prize) or the $550 satellite tournament for the WSOP Main Event at Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles which I believe to be my best (and possibly only) chance to get in the big game. (I chose the tournament at Lucky Chances both due to the prize pool and so I can travel to interview my 25 year old cousin about her experiences with cystic fibrosis and surviving a double lung transplant.)
5) CONSIDER USANA – I have decided to work on my health using the vitamins, meal replacement bars and drinks offered by USANA. In fact, the ethics of the company’s head scientist impressed me so much my sister got me to break my boycotts on vitamins and participation in MLMs. Let me put you in touch with my sister, Dr. Sarah Pollard, so we can stabilize our health together in the days to come. Your choice to set up an auto order for vitamins could send me a little love for many, many months to come. (It is possible I will earn a commission off your choice to order USANA.)

A Poker Analogy for GMO Foods’ Existence

We have verbally duked out our opinions in public before and gotten nowhere. So, this time, my friend requested my thoughts by texting me a link to an article entitled, “All of our food is ‘genetically modified’ in some way – here are the different types of GM technology.” I, naturally, decided to take my sweet time responding… and write a blog post.

I would like to begin by admitting that I can see the logic in this type of reasoning. The argument is sound in its own way. The problem for me is that it fails to adequately address the fact that the mere existence of genetically modified foods is the underlying concern of opponents like myself, because they represent an entirely new level of risk. While making a plant better able to resist pesticides (or repel the bugs itself) might be a scientifically similar process to increasing the plant’s ability to survive a drought, the potential for undesirable consequences is plainly far greater.

Pesticides are poisons. They kill bugs. They harm things. Is it really possible for them to harm one type of being and not another?

GMO crops are not confined to laboratories or grow rooms. Pollen and other plant particles blow in the wind and spread naturally. How can one say that proficient cautions were taken when these new crops are allowed to corrupt all others that surround them?

The author of the aforementioned article says that the chance of risk with GMO crops is low, then links to this article which discusses a fail-safe that might someday exist because it has been developed. The need for this scientific breakthrough is backed up with a quote from George Church, a Harvard Medical School genetics professor: “I don’t want to be alarmist or anything, but I think the point is that these organisms do spread.”

So, please tell me, how is the fact that we are developing protections now supposed to calm my fears about the effects of changes we have already spurred into motion?

To me, it’s as if I just caught you with an extra Ace in the deck and you refuted my accusations of cheating by saying that you were merely trying to encourage the continued evolution of a deck of cards as we know it and, subsequently, the game of poker. While it is true that the precise number of cards in the deck has changed over time – Jacks were once Knaves, and Queens and Jokers were admitted shortly before playing cards took their modern form – none of these changes were done covertly. The cheater (or evolution proponent) with the extra Ace gained a distinct advantage over those around him by asserting the desires he now claims were for the good of all involved. Whether the game continues with or without the extra Ace is not the issue I’m most concerned about. I want to know what we are doing to ensure that all are aware of and agree upon the rules of the game going forward and how we are going to repay those who were directly affected (aka cheated out of something) by the changes that began prior to unanimous consent.

In poker, when you catch someone changing the rules during the game, you kick them out and confiscate their money. Conversely, thanks to U.S. patent laws, when traces of GMOs are found within neighboring crops, the corrupted seeds are confiscated and given to the patent holder. Without the ability to use the seeds that their own crops produced, the farmers must buy seeds from somewhere in order to stay in business. Thus, merely letting the GMO farmers continue to play their game as they designed it fuels the market for GMO seeds and the goods they produce. It’s as if the cheater is allowed to both keep his chips and steal the chips of any who didn’t notice the extra Ace in the deck. It is infuriatingly wrong. Any questions?

My Brain on Poker: 5 Fundamental Beliefs

  1. Everyone is most concerned with their own game (aka personal gain) and I must take full responsibility for the direct and indirect consequences of my actions. Sometimes we poker players purposely “misplay” a hand or two to make our opponents doubt our skills. We set them up to pay us off on a larger reward in the future. I believe corporations with great power have utilized similar tactics to ensure their success and I try not to play into their game. For example, I do not wander around my local stores looking for something I want and/or need and would prefer to see in person before purchasing, then turn around and buy it online because it is $10 cheaper. Cheaper is not necessarily better. One of the easiest ways to go broke as a poker player is to participate in every inexpensive hand that comes your way. The path to success requires pondering and maximizing the value of each bet placed. In life, that means pondering what kind of jobs the companies I support create in the world and how they influence our culture as a whole in addition to evaluating the true worth of the products themselves – be it a cab ride, pet sitter, vacation rental, paperback book, or article of clothing – because each choice matters more than we imagine at the time.
  2. While just playing the game is fun, it’s more fun when you’re winning. Everyone isn’t so much “out to get you” as they are “in it to win it”. Most people (or businesses) don’t want to step on your toes to move up, but they will happily do so if they “need” to. The thing is, we actually need each other to succeed as a whole. Progress comes from working together. Exchanging ideas is an invaluable aspect of life and everyone, everywhere is playing off the information they receive on a day to day basis as they live out their game plan. It is human nature for us each to put our own wants and needs first – to try to win – so, if you let the world make your decisions for you, don’t be surprised when you aren’t overjoyed with the results. Play your own game and play to win.
  3. You must know both when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em in order to play a good game and only you will know when those times are for you. Everyone is dealt a different hand in life, just like they are at the poker table. Even among those playing “the same hand”, each is looking at it from their own unique perspective. We might share five cards in common, but we have two of our very own to use with them and a position that could change everything. What works for one person may or may not work for another, so take each piece of advice with caution, remembering that each of us is ultimately responsible for looking out for ourselves. We should begin our game using the knowledge of those who have already proven successful, then allow our own unique experiences to teach us the modifications that best suit our own needs.
  4. The only thing I can control is myself. We need to respect the fact that everyone is playing their own game and take pride in devising our personal strategy. We cannot make people like or want us, but we can grow into the person we want to be one step at a time. Once you have devised (and mastered the daily implementation of) your own unique strategy, you will be more content and likely to succeed in life. However, in order to achieve long term success, you have to be adaptable and change up your game from time to time. Predictable players face predictable problems. In fact, being flexible is likely the most important component of any life plan or poker strategy as change is one of the few things we can expect with certainty. Also, change is far less scary when you anticipate its arrival (if only by acknowledging its continued presence) and take control of each opportunity to react in a way that helps you grow into the person that you want to be.
  5. Always be willing and ready to go all-in, but wait for the opportune moment. Winning players spend a lot of time preparing before they venture into high stakes poker. I believe they personify the statement, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” That’s why I’m not rushing to the felt as often as some might think I should if I really want to play. I do really want to play poker, but I believe that “extra” cash will appear when the time is right for me to take my game to the next level. In fact, one might say it began trickling in this week when I received a few ridiculously generous cash tips. Coincidentally, right before the money began to appear, I learned that my favorite local game has started up again. I may not have my desired casino bankroll yet, but somehow it feels only a hop, skip, and a jump away. If you do find me seated at the World Series of Poker’s Main Event in less than eighty days, it will seem an immensely lucky feat. However, it is a ridiculous dream for which I believe I have been preparing my entire life – a lucky moment I would not be surprised to see in my future. You can’t push me all-in, but you can be sure I’ll call that bet when the time is right.