The Lifestyle:

The Jedi Living Academy Program. Tier One is open to all members.
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The Lifestyle:

Post: # 12949Post Opie Macleod
Sun Feb 14, 2016 9:48 pm

The Lifestyle of a Jedi can be the tough thing about being a Jedi. Makes sense right? I mean how hard is it to read, reflect, and reply to online topics on things like the Jedi Code? Maybe a bit tedious for some, but really the act itself is pretty simple. After-all that was why the standard training time in 1999 and 2000 was about three months. With Internet time (a perception of having done something for a very long time when really you have just been talking online for a couple of months) it seemed more than enough to know, understand, and pass on the knowledge of the Jedi.

Of course there is a difference between knowing something and experiencing something. Living by the Jedi Way presents new challenges and insights which online interaction can rarely offer (don't get me wrong, after doing this online for a decade or two you'll get a lot of experience insight too). It is important you have an understanding and the experience of actually applying these concepts in everyday life. This will become super invaluable when you take on a student yourself.

Of course there are things to help ease the process. I use to enjoy the sink or swim approach. Here is all the Jedi stuff you need to know. Now go live it. Be free young Jedi, be free and experience the world as a Jedi. And technically I am still doing that. But there are some core tools that will really help as you seek to do that. And we'll look into those in this section.

Basically this is the Do-It-Yourself section. I'll hand you tools, assignments, and ideas. And you'll go off to your Jedi Temple and get to building. What are you building? The Foundations my dear Jedi, the foundations of the greatest Jedi to ever live - You. No pressure.
Last edited by Opie Macleod on Wed May 04, 2016 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture One

Post: # 12950Post Opie Macleod
Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:52 pm

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture One =-
As a Jedi you have accepted a lifestyle. This lifestyle is world-betterment through self-betterment all wrapped up in Jedi inspiration and terminology. Now in basic terms that means we will be focusing on some key areas of personal wellness. Physical Well-Being, Emotional Well-Being, Intellectual Well-Being, Social Well-Being, and Spiritual Well-Being. Jedi in Star Wars learned the Code, they learned of the Order and their mission, they learned self-defense and health issues, they learned to know themselves and how to deal with their emotions. Your training will not be much different.

In the Jedi Path book by Daniel Wallace he lists three pillars for the Jedi. The Force, Knowledge, and Self-Discipline. The first we can say, in one form or another, is in all things. So each thing we talk about is connected to the Force. I know, a stretch, but we won't be getting into the Force in an in-depth until much later on. So take what you can get. The second is definitely what the entire Academy, let alone website is about. And the third falls to you. And what this lecture is about.

You are going to have to be your own Jedi Master. Sucks. I know. But you do have what I did not and what many Jedi did not when we first started out. People who actually have lived this thing and materials by them. Still, I cannot make you do any of this. You want to read it, not live it, and post up a bunch of lies saying you did and how awesome you are at it. I cannot stop you. I will tell you that after a couple of decades of doing this thing, I am somewhat good at spotting the fakes. These practices, these lessons, all of them require you to give your time, energy, and dedication. You have to make that happen.

You will need time for Meditation. You will need time for website exploration, reading of lessons, and the typing out of your various assignments. You will need time for physical activity (fitness, working out). So you are going to have to prioritize a bit in your life. As you will still need time for everything else in your life.

Now if you are a full time student, working two jobs, you probably want to hold off on training here. Plenty of other Jedi sites which you can use at your leisure that will still offer you some good basics to work from. This Academy Program is time consuming and intensive. Which merely leads to another training program which also requires a lot of investment on your part. Life comes first - we get that - this place is not going anywhere any time soon. I mean I may change the name or color scheme or something. But ultimately it will be available to you.

Here is a Ten Point List to help you manage this better.
One: Prioritize Your Life.
Make a list of things that currently take up your time (from school to video games), write out how much time is usually taken (per day), and then list them in order of what is most important to you (and very absolutely honest with yourself on that - it is okay is reading Harry Potter is at the top of your list). Next you will need to look at exactly how much time you need for your Jedi Lifestyle and Studies (a basic overview will be given at the end). Then you need add all that up and see if it fits into a single day. If you are like me - probably not. So you'll have to make the necessary adjustments based upon the priority of your list and the necessities (school, job, etc. even if they are low on the list most likely you can't just quit them so you have more time to stare at the clouds).

Two: Schedule in the Basics.
Remember to include times for the everyday basics, like eating and showering, in your schedule. These might seem like second nature, but it's important to allot time for them among your other scheduled tasks to ensure that you don't skip them and that they don't put you behind schedule. Hygiene is important. Sleeping is Important! Do not neglect the basics. It would fail Jedi Physical Wellness right from the beginning.

Three: Utilize a Calendar.
The simple addition of a daily calendar or planner to your set of organizational tools will help you organize time efficiently. Most cell phones these days have them. Make the most of them. use it religiously. Write down every new deadline, assignment or meeting that gets added to your schedule. Take time each morning to review your calendar for the day so you know what's ahead of you.

Four: Avoid Double-committing.
Organize your schedule by avoiding overbooking yourself or committing yourself to too many projects or events at once. This especially goes for Jedi training. You can get burnt out trying to do too much at once. Take your time. It is the biggest "regret" among Jedi, they'd all tell their younger self to slow, take their time, and stop trying to do it all at once. Check your calendar before agreeing to anything to verify that the time needed is free. This will keep your time organized and keep you in touch with your regular schedule.

Five: Prioritize Your Tasks.
Manage your time wisely by planning to accomplish the most important or time-sensitive tasks first. Note these in your schedule with a special color highlighter or a small sticker. Schedule these top-priority tasks first to give yourself enough time to complete them, then work on less time-sensitive things around the prioritized ones.

Six: Be Realistic.
Allot yourself a realistic amount of time to complete each task. If you think something will take between a half hour and an hour to complete, give yourself the full hour. Being realistic about how long something will take will prevent you from getting overwhelmed or behind schedule. Seriously. Over-estimate if you need. Better to have more free time in your schedule than feeling overwhelmed.

Seven: Use a Reminder System.
Use simple reminders in addition to your daily planner to help remember important tasks or deadlines. Use sticky notes or voice or text alerts on your cell phone at certain times to remind yourself to do something or that you have something scheduled. This back up system will help keep you from forgetting things. Your cell phone should have the ability for multiple alarms. I don't care if your phone is going off every hour and it is annoying. Make sure you stay on point and have a system in place to remind you of the schedule.

Eight: Omit Distractions.
Organize your time productively by removing elements that could be distractions or cause you to get off track and behind schedule. Keep the television and video game system out of the area where you study or do the bills so you will focus on the tasks that need to be done first and save the fun stuff for later.

Nine: Ask for Help.
Ask someone else for help and delegate smaller tasks if needed. It will benefit your schedule overall if you swallow your pride and ask someone to pitch in with a few small chores around the house or with taking care of dinner on a busy weeknight. Better to enjoy some burnt Mac and Cheese while typing up your Jedi Assignments than not turning them in at all and still eating burnt Mac and Cheese. (Kidding, I am sure you and anyone who may cook for you are excellent Mac and Cheese chefs)

Ten: Stay on Top of It.
Don't use this for a day, not set reminders, and just let the practice fall to the wayside. Your time is Valuable and Important. The time you invest here is appreciated and respected. The last thing I or anyone here wants is for you to leave half way through because it is just too much. Because there just aren't enough hours in the day. Yes, some sacrifices might have to be made. Less game time. Less book time. You get some of that back after this program, but the practices/habits of the Jedi will stay with you for as long as you chose to live the Jedi Way. So don't disrespect yourself or your investment, really make sure you work on a proper schedule and priority system.
:: The Lifestyle Assignment One ::
Your Five Practices for the rest of your life. YAY!
Physical Fitness - I want you to commit 60 (if necessary, 30) Minutes a day to a physical exercise. I don't care what that is. Physical Rehabilitation. Basketball in your driveway. P90-X(1,2, or 3). Hitting the Gym. Yoga practice. Pilates. Jogging. Bike Riding. Martial Arts Training. A mixture of any of these. All of the above. Whatever. One Hour, preferably per day (though you may need rest days depending on activity - understandable physical wellness is about knowing when to rest as well).

Meditation - You will dedicate 30 to 40 minutes a day for Meditation. You can split this up into 15 and 20 minute sessions. You can do 15 two minute sessions throughout the day if you want. What would count as two minutes? [url=http://Check%20Out%20Our%20YouTube%20Breathing%20Exercise%20Video]Check Out Our YouTube Breathing Exercise Video[/url] Plenty of different Meditations out there. Explore YouTube from some Guided Meditations if necessary. I recommend The Miracle Forest if you go that route. Enjoy some Osho meditations (plenty of books and techniques out there from him). Whatever works for you.

Diplomacy - The key lesson here - Diplomacy starts with Words. What we say and how we say it. This will be a more in-depth practice than the previous two.
First, Work on the general politeness:  Please, Thank you, I appreciate it, etc. Common Courtesy is Diplomacy 101. You attract more flies with honey then with vinegar (and because Jedi are about knowledge - technically not true. Fruit Flies in particular confuse vinegar with the smell of rotting fruit). Anyhow...
You will alternate exercises (per day or week, whatever works best for you). First we are just going to focus more on listening to others: what is being said and the words used. How is it being said, and the tone that is used, NOT reacting either way to the words or the tone, but instead focusing on the meaning and the purpose. If someone says, "Take out the dang garbage!" Just say, "Sure thing." Stop what you are doing and get it done. After a little time with that, you can start requesting a "please." Seek to remove the emotion, and simply focus on what is truly being said and/or asked. Then act accordingly. This helps us in understanding that, in diplomatic situations, we have to remove the ego and focus on the issues, or the problems at hand.
(Alternate) This time, we are going to flip it to look at ourselves. I want you to focus on your own tone. Take full accountability of your tone, the way you say things, and how you ask for things. Even when cheesed-off, I want you to note your tone of voice. You are fully responsibility during this time for how people take your comments and questions. Mad at something else? No excuse for answering someone or the phone in an upset manner. You will assume full responsibility. Keep alternating for the duration of this Program.

Awareness (and Reflection) - Be aware. Of yourself, your emotions, your surroundings, the situations you find yourself in. Awareness is a multi-faceted concept. Bring yourself into the present moment. This will greatly help with the next part.
Next - Administer the The Rooney Mirror Test. (You can google that for more information if you like) It is simple.
At the end of the day, while looking yourself in the eye in a mirror, ask yourself the following 5 questions:
1. Did I exercise and develop my body today?
2. Did I eat well today?
3. Did I learn something new today?
4. Did I make someone feel better today?
5. Did I take a positive step toward a major goal today?
The scoring of this test is simple. If you can answer -yes- to all 5 questions, you pass. If you answer -no- to any of the questions, you fail. #jedilife "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill So one day down. Time to get ready for round two. Because we have a whole lot of rounds to go.

Self-Discipline - Self-Discipline is easy (and the toughest). Did you complete the five practices? Did you do your homework assignments? Did you follow through on any promises made? It is just about holding yourself accountable and following through on the things you said you would. So get to it.

Think you can cut it Jedi? Enough work for you? :onfire:
Last edited by Opie Macleod on Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Two

Post: # 12951Post Opie Macleod
Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:01 pm

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Two =-
Communication is important in just about everything. It is the life blood of any relationship from friendship to marriage. Likewise it is the one major way of getting where and what you want out of all things. You will not get that new computer from your parents if you do not ask for it at some point. You will not get that special date from your sweetie if you do not make it clear that is what you desire. You will not get that promotion at work if you do not make it clear you desire to have it. A million dollars is not going to walk up to your door and hand itself over, you must work for it, and communication is the key.

For Jedi, communication is the core of training. A Teacher and Student cannot grow as a team, nor as Jedi by never talking. It takes interaction, questioning, lectures, communication on many levels. As a student one must be willing to communicate with the Teacher, ask questions, express their thoughts and concerns. As well let the teacher know what is working for them and what is not. This is extremely important for a student's growth. On the same token a Jedi Instructor must be able to explain and communicate the Jedi Path and it's reasoning clearly or important lessons will be missed. Misunderstandings do happen, but by both the Teacher and Student seeking to communicate openly and honestly you can eliminate almost all those misunderstandings before they happen.

Misunderstandings are a major cause of most problems, missing what the other person is trying to say and/or not conveying your own meaning well. Whether you are training as a Jedi or having an argument in your relationship, clear communication at ALL times can remove most issues from even arising. Speak or write openly, clearly, plainly, and honestly, by doing this you will achieve much more than just wishing or hoping someone would "just get it." Picking your words carefully makes a difference. Choosing the right word to convey your idea properly is critical. This especially because very clear in online discussions and debates. Semantics can matter.

To be clear, communication happens on a variety of levels. It really really does. Body language is communication, and sometimes people can communicate with looks, just something in their eyes. As Jedi I advise learning how to read these communications. Study body language, eye movement, even read up on telepathy if you want. But do not rely on these as clear communications. Not in training, not at school, not to your parents, spouse, et cetera. These tools that may help, but we develop language for a reason. For proper communication use your words, written and spoken language will be your best bet at effectively communicating exactly what you want and/or need, at the moment you want and/or need it.

We have discussed (or more correctly started experiencing/exploring) diplomacy, this relates heavily to communication, both verbally and through body language. While it is vitally important to be clear on your intentions and wants, it is also important to remember your lessons in diplomacy. Being aware of other people's wants, desires, and situations. A Jedi must be clear in their speech and actions, at the same time as taking the situations and individuals involved into account. Communicate, but do not demand, unless necessary. Keep this in mind, but remember people are not mind readers, they are not going to just guess what you want, no matter how well they know you. Be clear and communicate that will solve 99% of most problems before they begin.

So communicate, use your words, seek to be as plain and clear as possible. While we all like the idea of  the wise hermit giving enlightenment through weird riddles and enigmatic phrases, the truth is that clear communication provides the best results.
###
:: The Lifestyle Assignment Two ::
First - Watch This Video:
What did you think of the video and its message?
Second - For the next two weeks reflect, observe, research, and apply. Work on your communication skills. Seek to become more clear in your speech and writing. Say what you mean, mean what you say. After two weeks of practicing this (and observing during that time) reflect on that period of time. Answer these questions:
How has working on communication helped you?
Do you notice a difference in your interactions?
What tips can you give from your experience to others that might help their own communication skills?
Due at the end of the two weeks.
Last edited by Opie Macleod on Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Three

Post: # 12952Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:00 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Three =-
As our first lessons were Jedi Code week (two weeks technically) - this is turning out to be Ethics week - w00t!
Quick Note. I have archived my lesson on ethics. And have decided to use an outline from Ren Tohimaru who offered it and give me permission to make use of. This is altered from his original version (putting it mildly - basically I took his lesson and did a Opie make-over on it. Original Lesson can be found: Here.). This is due to set-up (his was meant as a seven week course) as well as my preference to ramble on certain subjects. And I really enjoy this subject (currently at least).

What are ethics?
When we are talking about ethics in relation to the Jedi Way we are referring to our philosophical principles that help us determine what proper or right action is. Generally speaking it is how we view and interact with the world around us. And serves as a way to categorize what we believe to be morally right or wrong. It is important for you as individual to have a good understanding of your ethic views and boundaries. It also will help you immensely as a Jedi to know exactly what you will or will not do in the most basic and most extreme situations.

Knowing the Difference Between Ethics
We will look at some various Ethical Schools of Thought. These are your major categories. Afterward will start getting into more individual schools of thought. But it is important to start with a basic overview of Ethic Thought and Understanding. For this entire lesson we will refer to Wikipedia as our source (I know, not the best source, but we aren't looking to get a Doctorates in Applied Ethics or anything, so it works for a quick overview). Again - don't go roaming off onto other Branches. Stick to the main article just to get an idea of what we are looking about (skim through it if necessary, just no wandering off). We'll explore the other subjects a bit further down.
First Normative Ethics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative_ethics
Next, Meta-Ethics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta-ethics
Lastly, Applied Ethics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_ethics

For Jedi Applied Ethics is the main school of thought that applies. In fact it is the Three Main Schools which we will be taking a look at next because they are the ones that directly relate to us the most. As you know or will know from the Jedi Method lecture. The Three Main Schools of Thought in Applied Ethics are:
Utilitarianism, the school of thought of the right action will be the one which results in the greatest happiness for the greatest number. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism
Deontological Ethics, the school of thought that there is an obligation to perform the 'right' action, regardless of actual consequences. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics
Virtue Ethics, a school of thought which asserts that the right action will be that chosen by a suitably 'virtuous' agent. In our case, Jedi. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_ethics

Take a look at each page. These are important. And as I said, play into other important lessons. So take the time to read over the main page of these Schools of Thought. Again though. No wandering off on wiki tangents. Stay the course.

And I am sure that is more than enough reading on ethics for you. I mean I could lecture for another page or five on it. But I think we'll just do some fun homework assignments instead. And yes fun - to me at least. You may want to pull your eyeballs out after this. Settle better than reading my drivel.
###
:: The Lifestyle Assignment Three ::
1.) Look up the definition of the word "Ethics". Read it over. It is worth knowing.

2.) The Battle of Ethics (each ethical thought links to its wiki page)
Psychological Egoism vs. Altruism.
Which one do you agree with more? Which one do you like better? Which one do you feel better fits the Jedi?

Ethical Egoism vs. Ethics of Care
Which one do you agree with more? Which one do you like better? Which one do you feel better fits the Jedi?

Consequentialism vs. Kantian Ethics
Which one do you agree with more? Which one do you like better? Which one do you feel better fits the Jedi?

3.) Q&A Time...
  • Why does a Jedi care?  If it's people's nature to be selfish, why are we not?
  • "Jedi use their powers to defend and to protect, never to attack others." - "Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy."
    Which School of Applied Ethics (Virtue, Deontological, Utilitarianism) do you feel best applies to these quotes?
  • A Jedi "honors the law", "honors the Jedi Council", "honors the Jedi Order", "honors there master", and "honors there padawan". Choose One. Which School of Applied Ethics do you feel best applies to it and why?
  • Jedi Ethics - why do you think they are important (if at all)?
4.) Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (A New Hope) mind tricks a Stormtrooper. Effectively taking away the person's Free Will and Ability to Think Clearly. This allows Luke and the Droids to continue on without incident. Was this action (the Jedi Mind Trick) ethical? Why or Why Not? And if not ethical - was it still the right and/or necessary thing to do?
Last edited by Opie Macleod on Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Four

Post: # 12953Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:04 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Four =-
The Five Goals of the Jedi come into play in this section. Service. A varied, but mandatory part of the Jedi Path. We will be looking at the five goals of the Jedi as well as various other ways a Jedi may be of service to the world around them.

Jedi have a strong connection to all life. Because of this connection you will often find that most Jedi want to help out the World, they have big dreams of helping not only humanity, but all living things within the world. You will find Jedi volunteering at animal shelters, home shelters, disaster relief centers, Red Cross, United Way, Optimist, et cetera. Yet one thing should be made clear, none of this is mandatory to living the Jedi Path. It is encouraged and recognized, but it is not necessary. And I believe that it says something that Jedi give of themselves even though it is not necessary.

Many people do the "right thing" because it is necessary. They donate to Toys for Tots only because the social group they belong to is doing so. It makes them feel good that they "helped" someone. And yet it took social embarrassment to push that help. For Jedi it is different, Jedi give of themselves even when they really shouldn't. The Jedi Path does not require a Jedi to do community service or donate money to any group. And still you will find Jedi there, you will see donation tags with Jedi names attached.

So you may be wondering, why this section? Mainly to point out that for a Jedi there is nothing to hold you to any sort of community service. And at the same time point out little things you can do around your neighborhood to help your community, to help life around you. As I said in the beginning Jedi have a connection to all life and if you have the ability to do something than you have the responsibility  to do something. Here are some things you can do:
- Pick up trash around the neighborhood, even if just around the block you live on. Take a trash bag out, go clean up the loose trash, and look to just keep things clean.
- For those older, you can go on patrol in your neighborhood. When I lived in Michigan I started to go on Patrol, just walking to the nearest store and back, taking the long round-about ways keeping full awareness of what was happening. In this you can use your cell phone in any situation that may arise and be of help. You might be surprised of the people you find; an old lady who needs help with a door or heavy bags, a dog that got loose, car accident, or a peaceful quiet night.
- Donate Blood, always a pretty quick and easy process, for the most part. And really does a lot of good. Especially from healthy individuals. Which Jedi are.
- In England there is St. John's Ambulance (and they have a youth program as well), in which you are trained to handle Emergency Situations when the professionals cannot make it fast enough.
- State side, you can join an Explore Program, Police Explore, Fire Explore here in the States. They train you accordingly.
- Merely give some time to help a Charity event and/or Organization.

Now lets keep in mind the five goals of the Jedi:
1.) Train Diligently: Be capable of fulfilling the role and course of a Jedi.
In order to be of service, we must be capable of providing said service. Regardless of what that service may be. As individuals we will all serve in our own way, in the way best suited for us. However, you must still train and be capable of fulfilling that role.
2.) Provide Support: Sometimes the best help, is merely encouragement and support. A Jedi does not always have to be hands-on, but instead provides the needed support.
How many times are we, as Jedi, as friends, as family, called upon to be a support structure. To be a pillar of strength (whether emotional, physical, mental, or even spiritual)? Sometimes the best service we can give is simply being supportive of those around us (whether we agree or not in some cases). And really just being there as the person grows.
3.) Render Aid: Sometimes it is resources that are needed the most. A Jedi can give their time, money, services, and/or supplies for the service of others.
In our world many things can strike at what people need most. Shelter, food, water, security. In this there are many options for Jedi to be of service to others and the world. Whether feeling sandbags, giving to organizations that are battling a crisis. Usually there is something we can do to help aid those in need.
4.) Defend Those in Need: Sometimes people need help defending themselves. Whether that is by sticking up for them in a argument or unfair situation. Calling the proper authorities to correct a situation. Or showing that they have someone who will not allow physical harm to come to them. A Jedi defends those in need.
Sometimes our services are needed simply to help people feel secure, assured, to help them have the confidence to stand up for themselves. In this we simply need to educate how to do so, or buy time for one to gain that understanding/confidence. Sometimes all one needs is to know that there is one person out there that cares; one person who is willing to stand up and protect the value of others. That defense is not always (and should be rarely used, if ever) physical, generally it is just sticking up for an option. Pointing out the validity of a comment in a indifferent manner. Many ways to defend the idea of life and the freedom to it.
5.) Study of the Force: A Jedi continues the study and advancement of the Force. Further defining the Force, by continually experiencing, exploring, and understanding.
Many may not see the service here. This is a long term service, a long term goal, something that can have a great impact on the Jedi and thus life as a whole. As we explore and build understanding of the Force, we may find those secrets to repeatable results, to do amazing things. And thus establish the Jedi much like our fictional inspiration. And thus place in a better position to help the world.

In all of this we are really just being examples to follow, to encourage, to inspire hope. It can be a dark world sometimes. And by being of service, by following the five goals, we as Jedi, can show people that there are still people who care. And if we all work together, it doesn't matter how little we give, if we all give it will build up. And that is a good start. It helps bring a little light back into that darkness.

Important Tips on Giving (Aid/Support) Wisely:
  • Budget for Giving. - Wise giving often entails proper planning. If you're going to commit to a charity organization, then you need to make room for it in your finances. Include your philanthropic activities in your budget. It's just better that way; and you don't get caught off guard.
  • Be an informed giver. - Wise giving isn't just about writing a check to any organization that asks. It's about knowing which charitable organization is actually worth giving your money to. So, don't be afraid to ask questions when you're asked to give. Look out for things like the specific name of the solicitor and his or her relationship with the organization, how much of your gift will be used for overhead, the specific project the money will go toward, and other important information.
    Give only when you feel comfortable that your money will be going to support an organization or cause you know and believe in. Network for Good provides information on more than 1 million charitable organizations from the GuideStar database. Make use of it.
  • Keep the Right Records. - For gifts of less than $250, a canceled check or credit card statement is sufficient for IRS requirements. For larger gifts, you'll want to get a properly worded receipt from the charitable organization as a confirmation of your tax-deductible contribution.
    Be aware of how much is really tax deductible. If you receive a premium in exchange for your gift (such as a book or a dinner), the amount of your tax deduction is reduced by the fair market value of the premium. You can turn down the incentive item if you wish to claim a deduction for the full amount of your gift. Ask the receiving organization for more details.
  • Consider alternative forms of Giving. - Don't overlook the benefits to you and your cause received from bequests, charitable gift annuities, gifts in kind, endowments and many other creative forms of giving. Ask your tax advisor or attorney to help you make the best plan for you and your family.
  • Volunteer! In addition to financial support, consider giving your time and skills. Not only will you help the organization, but you'll also make contacts, hone your skills, and learn more about the charitable cause to which you're committing your time and money.
  • Don't Forget You have the Right to say No. - Give generously when you can, but if you're unsure or feel uncomfortable - or if an organization simply falls outside your plan for wise giving - don't be afraid to say no. Or, ask for more information and take more time to think before making your decision.
  • Be a Proactive Giver! - You don't have to wait to be asked. Plan a wise giving strategy in advance. Contact the charitable organizations of your choice to discuss how your gifts can be most effectively used and help make a difference in your community.
###
:: The Lifestyle Assignment Four ::
Be of Service. Fulfill the Five Goals of the Jedi (each one at least once/in one way or another) within the Two Weeks. Report back here with what you did, how you did it, your general feelings on how this relates to the Jedi and our Path, how it felt, and your own impressions of the five goals and how they relate to service for the Jedi. Due in two weeks.
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Five

Post: # 12954Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:16 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Five =-
Jedi tend to become defacto leaders in certain groups and situations. You may have already noticed people coming to you more and more, or sort of being the deciding voice in your group of friends, etc. I know it happened to me and I wasn't quite sure what to do as that is not my preference and certainly wasn't my usual role beforehand.

As we expand our knowledge and experience, we tend to be placed into a position of leading others. Those in Police or Military (Fire, etc.) academies see this often. Those in-charge will pick someone to be Crew Chief or Class Corporal or Group Leader (whatever). And it is my opinion that all Jedi are leaders, even when that is not their individual nature. I dislike being a leader, I am a great grunt/solider and prefer that over having to lead a group. Yet our training, abilities, and situational awareness often place as at the front.

There is a lot of responsibility in being a Leader. There is a lot to it and yet at the same time it is a very simple thing. Sometimes we are leaders because no one else is willing to stand and say something, to do something. Fear of failure and/or embarrassment keeps people from acting. And you have to do your best to let that go. It isn't about succeeding first try. It is about experience, going for it and learning (and teaching - sometimes what not to do). The experience is what counts. Failure and Success ebb and flow all the time in our life, but what doesn't is our ability to learn from both experiences. Plus, generally the first to try always gets slack and better instruction. So generally in your favor to step up first rather than wait (Opie Hint).

As a leader people want place responsibility on you. Yet always remember that your responsibility only extends so far. As a leader it is simply about organizing and using the team, the group, as best as possible. It isn't about being a one-person show. It isn't about accepting all blame, it isn't about accepting all praise, it is about getting a group to reach the goal together.

Here is Five Reminders in Jedi Leadership:
1 - Being a Leader Doesn't Mean Doing Everything Yourself. Defer to better judgment and/or experience. Listen to the opinions of everyone in the group. Make your decisions based upon the collective knowledge, opinions, and experience of your group. Also, delegate projects to people best suited for them and/or have a strong desire to complete them.

2 - Know Your Team. Get to know those you are working with. Whether friends, group project, an Academy class, whatever it may be. Learn about the people you will be working with, hanging out with. Take an interest in them and learn what they have to offer. In this you can put the best people in the best positions.

3 - Solidarity. Take responsibility for your group. Praise them when they deserve it, especially publicly. Save admonishments for private conversations, and seeking to make all mistakes teachable moments for the entire group (without putting anyone in the spotlight).

4 - Make Clear Decisions; Give Clear Directions. Open communication, be clear in your speech. Say what you mean. Don't try to get all wise goat on the mountain on people. Know your Goal and lead the group to that end as clearly as possible. Affirm that people know what is expected of them. Keep the lines of communication open. And address any problems, questions, and/or concerns as soon as possible.

5 - Lead By Example. Be what you expect from your group. Do work yourself, don't ask anything of someone you wouldn't do yourself. Remember that being a leader doesn't mean being above anyone else, it just means you have proven to have a clear idea of what needs to be and how best to get it done. People are trusting you to help them succeed and one of the best you can ensure that is to be an example of that success.

Jedi are leaders, they need to be. In the worse situation a Jedi is right where they need to be. It is what we train for. But that training won't amount to anything if the people around you do not follow your lead. If they do not listen to you, then how many can you truly help? By being in a leadership position a Jedi takes control of the situation. They lead people where they need to go, both physically and leading them to a certain line of thought.

It is not an easy role to fill, it is not easy to explain how one becomes a leader, outside of elections. Yet even that does not truly make one a leader. If you are incapable of providing the answers, do not place yourself within a position of leadership. Do not assume a title if you cannot fill the requirements of said position. And certainly do not point fingers at those who follow you.

Leaders lead, it is that simple. If you are in a position to lead by example; then do so. Provide advice, guidance, and information (materials if necessary, books, notes, lectures, etc.) to help those under your leadership grow better then yourself, avoid your mistakes while still learning from those mistakes.

It is a hard position to fill properly, but do it knowing the responsibility you take upon yourself. And if you are found wanting, than either become better or give-up the position. I recommend growing yourself, admitting your faults and growing with those follow you. Being a leader doesn't mean you are above, separated, or removed from anyone. In fact some of the best leaders those that stay in the trenches with those they lead.
###
:: The Lifestyle Assignment Five ::
What was a time that you found yourself in the leadership position?
How did it come about?
How did it work out?
What did you learn from it?
Name a person you feel was a great leader. Why? What qualities did they have, what made them a good leader? They can be fictional characters if you want. Though I want you to consider the many historical figures, Edward of Woodstock, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ; the choice of course is yours, these are just examples on can look too. Due in Two Weeks.
"Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." - Mordin Solus
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Six

Post: # 12955Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:26 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Six =-
Each State of the United States has it's own laws. Each Country in the world has it's own laws. We are Jedi, we are not above the law, we are not enforcers of the law (unless that is your career - law enforcement). We are not vigilantes or galactic crime-fighters. We are merely people in the world living by a way of life we feel is best for us. As citizens of the world it is our duty as Jedi to uphold the local laws. Personal opinion of the laws aren't relevant, what is relevant is acceptance of differences of opinion. So no matter where you are in the world, no matter your beliefs, as a Jedi you should respect and uphold the law.

In the United States on a very basic level that means no stealing, killing, blackmail, or running of red lights. Obviously the laws extend much further than that, but the idea I am seeking to convey here is that a Jedi lives according to the society they reside in. Laws are created and enforced to help maintain order within a given society/government. While we may not always like or agree with the rules enforced upon us, but they are there for a reason and we should seek to uphold them.

Now some may argue if you live in a society of injustice, such as slavery and murder being the way of life, and interfering being against the law, that a Jedi should not follow the law. Thankfully we do not have too many places like this. But should a Jedi find themselves a citizen of such place than yes, a Jedi should seek to help those in need. But a Jedi should consider very carefully how best they can help. Becoming a quickly forgotten martyr, whether by death or imprisonment, rarely helps anything. We cannot be reckless with our help. And should always seek to find a more lawful way around any problems we encounter.

Along with this common courtesy of the local laws (again regardless of your stance on government), it is important to have a general understanding of Good Samaritan Laws. I believe countries such as United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom all have these type of laws in place. They are made to protect one when seeking to help out another. For a Jedi, this is extremely important.
If you pull someone out of a smoking car that has been in accident, but slip on some glass and lose your secure hold for a moment. And within that moment tweak the person's neck causing a serious injury. The question becomes are you liable?

If you see someone being beaten and raped, you call the police and then feel you need to physically intervene else the person will not survive. Yet in that physical altercation you break the assailant's nose and further seriously injure the attacker before you can restrain them (and most importantly before help arrives).
In these situations: Could you face criminal charges - Jail, a fine? Civil Charges - Can you be sued for everything you have? In certain cases Good Samaritan laws will protect you from such because of the circumstances. And there are cases where you are not protected.

The Law isn't there to inconvenience anyone. It is meant to help people, to protect them, to deter others from hurting and using others. It is a sign of civility and civilization. Does it always work? Does the system always get it right? Is it perfect? Of course not. And if one wants to change society's laws, there are careers to do just that. For the Jedi, we are here to help build the structure, civility, and stability that law is meant to preserve. We are not  judge or jury, simply concerned citizens that would love a world where the enforcement of law wasn't even necessary.

Overall this section is just a reminder that Jedi are not police officers (unless they are by career, still point being), we are not enforcers of the law (in that sense), we merely seek to uphold the law. We follow it, and report those that don't within the confines of the law. We are not above the law, merely citizens living to help others help themselves. And all without tights and cape and breaking vigilante laws.
###
:: The Lifestyle Assignment Six ::
Two weeks to research and tell me the laws in your area concerning Good Samaritan Laws. I want specifics, I want the word for word. If there is penal codes, case law, give that too. And I want you to give examples of a situation they would protect you and how far. And a situation where you would not be protected. Due after the two weeks is up.
"Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." - Mordin Solus
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Seven

Post: # 12956Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 1:24 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Seven =-
I often list the main areas of well-being as physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual. There are other areas which I use to look at, but they played into some or all of these main areas. The one we will be looking at during this time is Environmental Well-Being. This has a direct affect on your physical, emotional, and social wellness and can impact your spiritual and intellect as well.

Now this topic, like the bigger ones, is a bit multifaceted. I am not just talking about the environment in general. Yes, an awareness of the planet, its condition, climate change, and things of that nature is important. So recycle, reuse, and all of that good stuff. Be mindful of water usage (California resident here, so a big issue for me). Don't litter. Cut the plastic rings found on drink packages. All of that. Be a friend to the planet. Plenty of others out there trashing it up - we can make the effort to be different.

Anyhow, the focus of this lecture is more on YOUR environment. As in where you live. As in where you are reading this right now. As in where you lay your head at night. This very much includes your social and family circles which have a direct impact on your environment. Constant negativity has an impact. Surrounded by people yelling and arguing all the time has an impact. Having a dirty and trash filled room has an impact.

I want you to take stock of this. To be aware of what is around you. To really look at the conditions you are living in. Most of the time we forget certain things aren't helpful or normal. We have lived with them for so long or just got use to certain things being around that we forget it isn't good for us. So stop. Take a look around. Take notice. And remember that you are a valuable and worthwhile human being. Make sure you are giving that to yourself and not allowing your environment to be dominated by negative and poor energy (behavior, trash, etc.). This is also a great for some to appreciate what they have and the environment they do live in - especially compared to others.

10 Things to Improve Your Environmental Wellness (be sure to read each point carefully):
Remember to Recycle: If someone does a kindness for you, pay it forward. Did someone smile at you? Smile at the next person you see. Did someone help you out? Look for an opportunity to do the same. This is something we clearly see in the Five Goals of the Jedi. So no excuses Jedi.

Keep It Fresh: If life seems a bit stale, change things up a bit. Alter a routine - instead of lightsaber practice in the morning, try it at night. Or rearrange your room - make yourself a little meditation area or something. If you are trying to improve in something or stop a bad habit and it is not working, try a different approach. Consult a friend or mentor on other ideas and ways to approach the issue.

Go for the Natural Stuff: Act natural. Be yourself. Appreciate your uniqueness. You don't need to be someone or anything you don't want to. Stick to what makes you happy. What makes you - you. Hopefully that vibes with this Jedi thing, but if not - no worries. We love you just the same.

Stop Pollution: Your focus determines your reality. So stay positive and don't pollute conversation with negativity or gossip. If you need to express your emotions then do so in a constructive manner. Talk it out with a good friend. Clear the air and move on with your day/life. No need to share your misery with every person who crosses your path.

Don't Litter: Unlike Star Wars not everything is black and white. Emotions aren't of the Dark Side.Don't try to throw away or cast off "dark" or bad aspects. Instead seek to understand them and what they mean to you. What yur reactions and habits are trying to tell you. Feeling anger is fine, acting in anger is not. Seek to turn your emotional energy into something worthwhile and positive. Or at least beneficial . Upset? Good time to hit that Zombies! Run! 5k Trainer app with the music that gets you moving.

Stop Global Warming: The Jedi Community is rife with debates and heated discussions. If you find yourself getting heated, take a step back. Take a couple of minutes to cool off and gather your thoughts on the subject. Especially if it is online. Don't worry about the little things (that probably won't matter in two weeks let alone two decades). Some causes are worth fighting for. You relationships are worth your energy. But you don't want to burn down either just to make a point. So deep breaths and approach the subject again when in a more Jedi State of Mind.

Eliminate Toxins: Don't let emotions build up. Especially the supposed "negative" ones like guilt and resentment. Just like a physical chemical spill. Acknowledge the spill and apply the proper techniques to clean it up (meditation is a good one). You get rid of these things by accepting and addressing them - not ignoring them.

Water the Grass: If you fulfilled a Goal of the Jedi or felt you accomplished your five practices and didn't think you would - reward yourself. You are the grass and the water is a way for you to celebrate your victories in life. Big and small. Don't humble-pie yourself into the ground - that isn't self-honesty. Acknowledge your efforts and hard work and congratulate yourself accordingly.

Conserve Energy: Focus on the things that matter. Prioritize, remember? You cannot do everything at once. So why waste time and energy on that stupid comment one person said online? If you run a youtube channel like I do - you know that this is invaluable. Move forward with your life and save your emotional energy for doing things that you do best.  Or for those surprise moments with family and friends (it is the worse to be emotionally drained at a happy get together).

Trust the Process: It can take a lot of time to adjust your life to the point where you want it. The main thing is to trust the process. Be patient. Allow things to play out as they will. And in the meantime, don't be so busy trying to be happy that you miss just being happy right now.
###
:: The Lifestyle Assignment Seven ::
If you want more information on Environmental Wellness you can check out this help 20 point guide: HERE.

How would you rate your Environmental Well-being? 0 being non-existent and 5 being exceptional. Did this before and after the two weeks.
In the section Eliminate Toxins - give me some examples of how you do this or would do this?
What changes can you make over the next two weeks (and over your lifetime) to help improve your Environmental Wellness?
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Eight

Post: # 12957Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:00 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Eight =-
Probably pretty pointless now given that you are what? Two? No. Four Months into this training program. I am sure you got the whole Computer and Internet Safety thing down. Still I want to give a couple of tips on those subjects and then I want you to do something you may not have done before - Coding. Mainly I want you to be aware of the benefit of the internet and computers, but also safe with them. And then I hope to have more educated people than myself teach something new (hopefully - though given the way things are going I am sure the next ten year old who joins here will be a Coding Master).

First a few tips on Computing Safely (From MIT's Information Systems and Technology)
1.) Patch, Patch, PATCH!
Set up your computer for automatic software and operating system updates. An unpatched machine is more likely to have software vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
2.) Install protective software.
Sophos is available as a free download for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux from IS&T's software page. When installed, the software should be set to scan your files and update your virus definitions on a regular basis.
3.) Choose strong passwords.
Choose strong passwords with letters, numbers, and special characters to create a mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create a different password for each important account, and change passwords regularly.
4.) Backup, Backup, BACKUP!
Backing up your machine regularly can protect you from the unexpected. Keep a few months' worth of backups and make sure the files can be retrieved if needed. Learn more about TSM and how to backup your system.
5.) Control access to your machine.
Don't leave your computer in an unsecured area, or unattended and logged on, especially in public places - including Athena clusters and Quickstations. The physical security of your machine is just as important as its technical security.
6.) Use email and the Internet safely.
Ignore unsolicited emails, and be wary of attachments, links and forms in emails that come from people you don't know, or which seem "phishy."((if you don't know what phishing means, google it)) Avoid untrustworthy (often free) downloads from freeware or shareware sites. Learn more about spam filtering.
7.) Use secure connections.
When connected to the Internet, your data can be vulnerable while in transit. Use remote connectivity and secure file transfer options when off campus.
8.) Protect sensitive data.
Reduce the risk of identity theft. Securely remove sensitive data files from your hard drive, which is also recommended when recycling or repurposing your computer. Use the encryption tools built into your operating system to protect sensitive files you need to retain.
9.) Use desktop firewalls.
Macintosh and Windows computers have basic desktop firewalls as part of their operating systems. When set up properly, these firewalls protect your computer files from being scanned.
10.) Most importantly, stay informed.
Stay current with the latest developments for Windows, Macintosh Linux, and Unix systems. IS&T provides a news page and we recommend that those interested subscribe to the IS&T Security-FYI electronic newsletter.

Some General Internet Guidelines:
  • Never post your personal information, such as a cell phone number, home number, home address, or your location on any social networking site or through mobile apps like Snapchat or Instagram.
  • Never meet in person with anyone you first “metâ€� on the internet. Use time, real-time chats, video chats, and references in the community before you run off meet other Jedi. Some people may not be who they say they are.
  • Do not post inappropriate pictures of anyone. That includes yourself.
  • Never respond to mean or rude texts, messages, and e-mails. Delete any unwanted messages. You may need to delete friends who continuously bother you or post things that are not appropriate. Your time, your environment. Make sure you invest your energy wisely.
  • Never share your password with anyone. Anyone.
  • If you wouldn’t say something to another person’s face, don’t text it or post it online.
  • Use the privacy settings of social networking sites.
  • If anything makes you feel uncomfortable online, while gaming or when using your cell phone, talk with someone about it right away. Environmental Wellness applies to the online world too.
###
:: The Lifestyle Assignment Eight ::
1.) Q&A on Safety
What is personal information? Why should you keep it private?
What could you do to be safer online?
What would you do if anyone online asked to meet you face-to-face?
Besides me, who do you feel that you can talk to if you are in a scary or uncomfortable situation?

2.) Go to https://code.org/starwars (Note: You will need about an hour, at most)
If English is your first language (or main) than use javascript (https://code.org/api/hour/begin/starwars). If not you may use blocks (https://code.org/api/hour/begin/starwarsblocks). But I really prefer you work with javascript to really learn something. If it proves to difficult again you may use the block.

At the end you'll create a game and get a link to share it and come back to it. Share that link by the end of the two weeks. This gives you some time to make a fun game. And allows you to go through the process more than once to really help you learn Code.
"Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." - Mordin Solus
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Nine

Post: # 12958Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:49 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Nine =-
There is something I say often - Jedi are not the charity. Frankly I find it embarrassing that many in the Jedi Community paw for money - especially without earning it. I really have a dislike for when Jedi Groups make themselves non-profit. Some have even sought to require dues. What many do not see is how that money goes back into the Jedi. This is not unfamiliar practice in most non-profits. In fact some of the highest paid people in the world are chairmen and board memebrs on Non-profit organizations. My experiences with Jedi in-charge of such things has never been good. But really it is just a way for many people not to earn living and live off the charity of other Jedi who are working.

Of course Jedi want to help others. But you must be in a position to help. It is rather hard to provide support and render aid when you are homeless and broke. Just scraping by means you have nothing to give or offer outside of happy thoughts. Which is fine, but as a Jedi you can do better. You don't have to be rich (doesn't hurt of course), but having a good sense of your money and budget can really help you get ahead in life and put you in a good position to help as you may desire as a Jedi. And maybe even attend some of those Jedi Gatherings.

First some general tips on understanding financial wellness.
1.) Learn Self Control
This is a really simple principle and one I hope you have master by now. If you have credit cards - don't spend over what you can pay-off at the end of the month. It is that simple. Do not spend more than you earn. This means keeping an eye on your budget and making sure you do not over indulge.
If you make a habit of putting all your purchases on credit cards, regardless of whether you can pay your bill in full at the end of the month, you might still be paying for those items in 10 years. If you want to keep your credit cards for the convenience factor or the rewards they offer, make sure to always pay your balance in full when the bill arrives, and don't carry more cards than you can keep track of.

2.) Take Control of Your Own Financial Future
If you don't learn to manage your own money, other people will find ways to (mis)manage it for you. Some of these people may be ill-intentioned, like unscrupulous commission-based financial planners. Others may be well-meaning, but may not know what they're doing, like Grandma Betty who really wants you to buy a house even though you can only afford a treacherous adjustable-rate mortgage.
Instead of relying on others for advice, take charge and read a few basic books on personal finance. Once you're armed with personal finance knowledge, don't let anyone catch you off guard - whether it's a significant other that slowly siphons your bank account or friends who want you to go out and blow tons of money with them every weekend. Understanding how money works is the first step toward making your money work for you.

3.) Know Where Your Money Goes
Once you've gone through a few personal finance books, you'll realize how important it is to make sure your expenses aren't exceeding your income. The best way to do this is by budgeting. Once you see how your morning java adds up over the course of a month, you'll realize that making small, manageable changes in your everyday expenses can have just as big of an impact on your financial situation as getting a raise. In addition, keeping your recurring monthly expenses as low as possible will also save you big bucks over time. If you don't waste your money on a posh apartment now, you might be able to afford a nice condo or a house before you know it.

4.) Start an Emergency Fund
Pay yourself first. No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt and no matter how low your salary may seem, it's wise to find some amount - any amount - of money in your budget to save in an emergency fund every month.
Having money in savings to use for emergencies can really keep you out of trouble financially and help you sleep better at night. Also, if you get into the habit of saving money and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly "expense", pretty soon you'll have more than just emergency money saved up: you'll have retirement money, vacation money and even money for a home down payment.
Don't just sock away this money under your mattress; put it in a high-interest online savings account, a certificate of deposit or a money market account. Otherwise, inflation will erode the value of your savings.

5.) Start Saving for Retirement Now
Just as you headed off to kindergarten with your parents' hope to prepare you for success in a world that seemed eons away, you need to prepare for your retirement well in advance. Because of the way compound interest works, the sooner you start saving, the less principal you'll have to invest to end up with the amount you need to retire, and the sooner you'll be able to call working an "option" rather than a "necessity".
Company-sponsored retirement plans are a particularly great choice because you get to put in pretax dollars and the contribution limits tend to be high (much more than you can contribute to an individual retirement plan). Also, companies will often match part of your contribution, which is like getting free money.

6.) Get a Grip on Taxes
It's important to understand how income taxes work even before you get your first paycheck. When a company offers you a starting salary, you need to know how to calculate whether that salary will give you enough money after taxes to meet your financial goals and obligations. Fortunately, there are plenty of online calculators that have taken the dirty work out of determining your own payroll taxes, such as Paycheck City. These calculators will show you your gross pay, how much goes to taxes and how much you'll be left with, which is also known as net, or take-home pay.
For example, $35,000 a year in California will leave you with about $27,600 after taxes in 2008, or about $2,300 a month. By the same token, if you're considering leaving one job for another in search of a salary increase, you'll need to understand how your marginal tax rate will affect your raise and that a salary increase from $35,000 a year to $41,000 a year won't give you an extra $6,000, or $500 per month - it will only give you an extra $4,200, or $350 per month (again, the amount will vary depending on your state of residence). Also, you'll be better off in the long run if you learn to prepare your annual tax return yourself, as there is plenty of bad tax advice and misinformation floating around out there.

-=-
Pro-Tip go to your app store get the Mint app. It is a financial app that will help you with a lot of these things listed above. It can link to your own bank accounts, credit card accounts, and help you manage your money. Showing exactly what you spend you money on and how much. You can set-up weekly and monthly budgets. A lot of great tools to really help you keep an eye on and manage your money.
-=-

Remember:
Don't Waste Money. - Money goes fast. And "convenience" is the fastest way to lost your money. When grabbing coffee in the morning, a smoothie, fast food and a candy bar when you’re filling up your gas tank, these seemingly insignificant items can easily add up to $20 a day, $100 a week and $400 a month. That’s a car payment. Keep tighter control of your money.

Get that Credit Score and Keep it. - This really should be done by parents to help kids get a good jump on the credit rating. Which can be done by a joint-card and using it only for a specific thing (like Gas). Of course if you are looking to build credit yourself you may have to go with a down payment card first. This is where you pay like 200 or 300 dollars to a company and they give you a credit card with that amount as a line of credit. Then what you do is use it for your Monthly Netflix account or SWTOR account. Something minimal and a way for you to pay off each month. And always pay off the total of your card each month. Each company/card is different but generally after a year or two of paying your bill on time you'll get for initial deposit back (be sure to read the fine print on that).
You'll get plenty of card offers in the mail there after. Only after a year should you pick one. Look for Zero APR and look very closely at the interest rate. And once again use it only for very minimal things and pay it off completely when your payment is due.

Keep the Necessary Luxuries. - Look I understand Pandora without commercials is much nicer. But you are basically tossing money away for commercial free radio. Which really isn't that much of a deal. And do you really need Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime subscriptions? Or will Netflix be enough? I mean subscription services are good and can really help with managing the budget and keeping costs low. But really keep an eye on them and only subscribe to the "necessities" - like SWTOR.

Learn to Cook. - It will save you plenty of money. Learn to make your own salads. Seriously. Five dollars for a single serving pre-packaged salad. Spend ten on the ingredients and have salad for a week. Rice by the pound. Chicken breast by the bag. Learn to cook your own pinto beans properly. You don’t have to be Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay, but if you learn to cook three or four meals you enjoy and make them regularly, you can save thousands of dollars a year on food costs. Buy your ingredients on sale or in bulk. One meal turns into three when you make enough for another dinner and lunch the next day.

Choose the right roommate. What are the characteristics of a perfect roommate?  At the top of the list is someone you can rely on to pay rent on time every month. Then you’d want someone who is clean, keeps to him- or herself and is never around! Before my kids were born, I rented out a room in my house to medical residents doing their rotations at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Medical students were perfect roommates because they paid their rent on time and were interesting to talk to when they were around (which wasn’t often).

Sharing your space can be a huge boost for the budget, but you have to pick the right person or it can be a nightmare.  If you think about it as a business arrangement rather than living with your best friends, you have a better chance settling into something sustainable.

No seriously Save Your Money. - Saving money that you don’t touch is paramount to success.  There are a couple of ways to ensure that this happens: You can set up an auto-draft from checking to savings, open a savings account at a different bank so you can’t easily transfer funds between accounts, or skip the debit card for your “don’t-touchâ€� savings account. Do whatever it takes to make the savings stick.

Unfortunately, most Americans live on the edge when it comes to money. According to recent research by Bankrate.com, 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a study from CashNetUSA reported that 46% of people surveyed had less than $800 saved for emergencies.
This lack of financial stability makes us all vulnerable. When an emergency hits and we get a call from a family member for help with a rent deposit or moving expenses, are we going to turn them away? Of course not. We are going to help, but those funds have to come from somewhere. When you can manage your cash, are able to borrow money at decent rates and live on 75% of your income by doing the above, that means financial security not just for you, but for the entire family.
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:: The Lifestyle Assignment Nine ::
Get to it. Sit down and really budget out your money. Write it ALL down. Over the next two weeks keep every little receipt, note every little purchase. Be aware of exactly where and when you are spending your money. Then fully work out a budget and be sure to include a way to Save Money and a way to save for retirement (I don't care if you are 11 years old balancing your lemonade stand income). Be keenly aware of where your money comes from - how much you actually get - and exactly where it goes.
Have a Full on Budget set-up by the end of the two weeks. I call this The Honor System Assignment. Meaning I am not asking to see it (and it really is none of my business or anyone's who can access your journal area - remember the previous lesson). But this is important so I want you to get it done.

If you can talk with someone you know to be educated on the subject - I recommend it.
"Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." - Mordin Solus
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Opie Macleod
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Re: The Lifestyle: Lecture Ten

Post: # 12959Post Opie Macleod
Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:52 am

-= The Lifestyle: Lecture Ten =-
We leave off on one of the more desire topics. The Force. There is no quick answer or lesson to be had with the Force. Some see the Force and think cool oobie powers, like telekinesis, moving things with the mind. They think Jedi Mind Trick, how cool would that be? But even if these tricks are possible, that is not an answer to the Force. And offers little understanding of the Force. If you want to learn about the Force, you first have to forget such ideas as Force Powers. That should not be a goal for a Jedi. A Jedi is a Jedi because of how they live, not because they have unlocked some mystical trick.

The truth about the Force is that we do not have a definite answer for it. It can be classified in many ways. And while most go with a more paranormal or supernatural view, I call the Force Ineffable. Mostly I like to think of the Force as an idea. An idea to live up to, an idea to follow. It is said that the Force is created by all living things. It connects us and binds the galaxy together. What a wonderful idea to guide someone in life. An idea that what we do effects us all.

It is not a new idea or one which is solely the Jedi's. However it is a great guide to action. We are connected, there is a flow between us all and our actions, our reactions, effect all we are connected to and change the flow that surrounds us. You can break this down into two different well-known principles. The first being, treat others how you would like to be treated. And the second being a cause and effect principle, an understanding that your choices do have effects and consequences, thus one should not act/react carelessly.

We can say that the Force is an energy field. And we would have basic science to support us to a point. We could say the Force is the mysteries that reside in our brains, human will, our drive to not only survive, but to excel. We could compare the Force with other established ideas such as Tao in Taoism. Or the Holy Spirit in Christianity. Or we could compare it to ideas of Chi/Ki as present via Qigong. In the end, the source material doesn't really matter to the Jedi Path, because it is an ideal.

Sure, if you want oobie powers and fancy party tricks, you need to have a clear understanding of the source. If you are seeking immortality then you would need to have pure understanding of the essence of life. If you are seeking to move objects with a wave of your hand, then you need to understand the principles to make that happen. But if that is your goal, than you are better suited looking elsewhere. Plenty of paths out there that promise great rewards. Jedi promises a life-long path of world-betterment through self-betterment. It is lots of work and responsibility. Fun, fun.

I also like to look toward the Force in known science, in the basic laws of physics. I see the Force in everyday life, in life in general. I see it in our five senses. In the electrical currents in our squeeshy brain. The thermal energy we radiate. The kinetic energy we can produce. Nothing really mystical, just the amazing way the universe seems to work and follow. I just tend to allow the mysteries to be mysteries and live in wonder of the things we can currently record and explain. There are plenty focuses and ways to explore the Force. And that is something for each Jedi to chose for themselves.

And that is what this boils down to in the end. We will explore the Force more in-depth in further tiers of this Academy. But that does not change nor should it change how one approaches the spiritual, the mystical. The answers of the Force are found within. They are for you and you alone. Spiritual well-being is core, but is also very personal.
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:: The Lifestyle Assignment Ten ::
What do think the Force is? Write in your journal your current view. Does not have to be in-depth.
After that I want you to take the next couple of weeks really exploring what the Force means to you. How you feel it. How you define it, if at all.
Just take time to observe life. Stand for a few minutes in the backyard or park or forest, and just observe the trees, flowers, insects, life. Take time to sit outside a coffee shop and just people watch, observe as life moves on. Go for a walk and notice the ants, the spiders, the birds, the flora. Seek, during the week, to incorporate a time of reflection and observation. As many times as you can during this time. Feel free to add in some meditation if you so desire. Also consider looking into other ideas out there such as Tao, Chi, etc.
At the end of the two weeks re-approach the question - Tell me, What is the Force?
"Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." - Mordin Solus
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