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Stepping Out

person rock climbing

“When was the last time you left your comfort zone?”

I find this to be a strange question and odd prompt – do people really hunker down in their comfort zones for weeks at a time, maybe even months or years?

Of course they do and I have been there a few times in my life. One of the great needs for humans is the need for homeostasis; stability in a crazy, ever-changing world. I may have misconstrued the prompt slightly – “write about the last time you left your comfort zone” – but my opening message remains the same.

I am not sure that there is an easy way to pinpoint this because I feel that ever since I asked my now-wife to marry me, I have been challenging myself to leave my comfort zone as much as possible so that I could grow in life. And while I say this, we always have one thing that we cling to and hold onto for dear life as the constant that gives us some sanity in life. Maybe it is the family life, maybe it is your career, but the truth of the matter is that you cannot thrive in a comfort zone and if you feel yourself sinking into one, you need to assess it – and challenge it if you ever desire growth in your life.

I believe that every morning when my alarm goes off at 4:30am, and I actually get up rather than snoozing it until 5:00 or 5:30am, then that is a successful day because I have removed myself from the first comfort zone of the day, my bed and my peaceful (though often dream-filled) sleep. We all need an adequate amount of sleep, so I am not saying to neglect your body’s needs, but if you have big goals & dreams set for yourself, how will you conquer them when you are asleep? If I lay there, or am able to snooze and pick up an extra 15 minutes of sleep, I have to ask myself the question – was that 15 minutes even restful sleep, or could it have been better utilized on other tasks in the morning to prepare me for attacking the day?

I think that the latter will always win out because the psychological weight of missed time & opportunity will weigh you down through the day more than the missed sleep. If anything you will feel more awake & energized with that small victory under your belt so early in the morning.

I’m sure that I could have dressed this “leaving my comfort zone” post up much more, but I am a huge believer that small things make the biggest impacts in our lives. So often people will go way over the top just to prove a point to themselves, or the proverbial ‘they’, without realizing the action did not fit the situation and will not illicit a reaction they desire because they have not calculated, but have dropped an errant bomb with no purpose other than destruction to prove a point.

So often we think that we must be showman, that what we say has no weight without theatrics, or that a blog post must be long, intricate, and perfectly manicured with a stylistic flair that jumps off the page. Sometimes all it takes is asking yourself “what is the right thing to do” and executing on that thought no matter how much fear bubbles up in your gut.

Use the fear as a guide of where you can leap out of your comfort zone – and take your steps to freedom of mind and watch your life get better with every chance you take.

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Garden Plans for this Sunday

Yellow Gingko leaves with blue sky background

The Time it is a-changin’!

Today is one of the greatest & most hated days of the year, when Time decides to leapfrog forward a whole hour to disrupt our sleep cycles by stealing an hour from us – but it is also a strong signal that spring is on its way! Yesterday I saw that we didn’t have freezing weather in the foreseeable forecast of 15 days out.

Whether or not I believe that we won’t dip into freezing temps, or maybe a light frost, is debatable, but my Hope for an early & strong Spring is not. I have been fairly patient this year with seed starting – I have some onions, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli started – and somehow I have refrained from planting tomatoes & peppers just yet.

All of this sunshine and pollen has my biological clock spinning out of control and screaming at me to plug seeds into the ground and get the garden rolling for the spring. Though I can’t fully follow my urges, I wanted to plan out a few things that I could do at this point of the season:

  • Seed Starting – though I said I was going to control myself, it’s been 2 weeks since I planted my first seeds of the season – so now’s the time to follow-up with a succession planting. This means that I’ll plant another 24-48 lettuce seeds and 60 arugula seeds or so – who knows, maybe I’ll get some cauliflower or something else started today too. I’m planning on getting a plot at the Piqua Community gardens, so I should be able to grow a much more diverse crop this year – and since I failed so miserably with Cauliflower last year, I really wanna prove that I can grow that little beast. And Kyla loves Cauliflower (call-EE-flower) wings, so I feel like I gotta deliver for her 🙂
  • More Seed Starting – I’ve been putting it off for long enough, but now’s the time to get those tree seeds started for bonsai trees. I have no clue if the time of the season is right, or if the seeds actually vernalized – but we’ll see what magic we can work. The varieties I am planning on starting include:
    • Baobab – this is a tree species from Madagascar and is extremely unique looking, with a fat trunk and small limbs/canopy.
    • Boxwood – I could easily take cuttings of these, but I really wanted to see if I could crack the code on growing everything from seed, not just the veggies for my garden.
    • Gingko – Gingkos are one of the most beautiful & ancient tree species on the planet. They have a unique leaf shape and turn an amazing shade of gold in the Fall
    • Sycamore – there’s also something magical to me about Sycamore trees. They are one of the mightiest varieties of trees with an ancient-scroll-style of bark that every kid loves playing with, a large imposing shape & profile on the skyline that any person can recognize, and they bear a striking resemblance to the dendritic structure of the neurons in our brains & bodies that connects them to us in a primal & subconscious way.
  • Mind & Body Exploration & Experimentation – today’s high temperature is supposed to be over 60 degrees so I am going to take advantage of that by going on a long bike ride – the first one of the season. There is nothing that can clear the Mind & push the Body like a long bike ride. It is soothing and challenging at the same time. You have the opportunity to push your body to new limits, but it depends upon the strength of your Mind, the power of your Will.
  • Writing – this blog is the beginning of me actually writing when I feel the inspiration – rather than collecting ideas like a hoarder and then never releasing them because I am too busy contemplating & strategizing. Beyond this, I think I just need to write – it is my natural state, a natural way of me to communicate; not only with the world, but with myself.
  • Meditation – I have been on & off with mediation – I do it when it absolutely needs to be done, but I think I need to treat it as a part of my nightly routine, in the same category as flossing & brushing my teeth. If we want to feel fully great, we have to commit to the things that we know contribute to our success & optimization of Life.

These are my plans for the Gains that I’m Cultivating in the Garden of my Life, I wish you the strength & the passion to cultivate your dreams & ideas into Realities 🙏

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Talking Permaculture, Music, & Perspective with Romo Loco

Producing a podcast was at the top of my Resolutions List this year & I’m finally making it a reality thanks to my lifelong friend Tyler Gutman (aka Romo Loco). We had no plans, agenda, or structure going into this podcast, but I really feel like we got into a great flow & cadence – would love to hear your thoughts on the topics we dove into! We start off talking about the origins of our names – “Romo Loco” & “Gardening 4 Gains”, talk about Tyler’s time in the jungle & the practices of Permaculture he learned. Then we talk about Tyler’s music & what he’s currently working on – then we go everywhere from DNA & genetics to politics & just about everything else – Enjoy!

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Oil Change of Pace

mechanic handing keys to you
mechanic handing keys to you

I took a half-day off work today to get some long overdue chores out of the way before the holidays & inevitable travel that follows. We don’t have to travel far for family but Kyla & I both have 10 days off work between Christmas & New Years – who knows where we may end up with all that time.

I love my new job as a Product Manager, but when you dive in head first every day going 110%, with a huge variety of tasks, you need to unwind every once in a while – everyone needs a break – and not only that, but I feel as though it is necessary to get out & explore new terrain. Winter isn’t ideal but we can get creative & adapt.

And the more I think about it, bring on the cold! Lately I have been feeling like forcing myself into a certain amount of suffering – and by that I mean breaking out of your comfort zone – I feel like if you’re not struggling in some capacity, then you’re getting comfortable, and when you get comfortable, you become vulnerable. But vulnerable to your routine and inability to adapt, or better yet, to innovate; to be visionary instead of reactionary.


Sorry for the severe detraction but I can’t help but wonder what all these guys are thinking as I’m sitting at Sidney Tire, waiting on my oil change, while writing chicken scratch in a notebook. What kind of “kid” writes instead of being on their phone or laptop?

First, this is partly about not giving a shit what people think – if you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one. Secondly, I think that the action of writing, the mode I choose to write with, has been the bottleneck. It’s much easier to write & flow with a pen & pad of paper. Typing is mechanical and restricted to certain strokes, but with handwriting, you work your way down the lines, down the page physically, not in a theoretical technological representation of it.

We grew up writing everything & only recently have things been switched to digital. Does the younger generation feel weirdly about writing vs. typing/texting?

Either way, feel more creative with the pen – and I’m so thankful that I figured it out. If anything, it is the 1st draft & when I type it, that will be the time to refine & perfect.

And I thought didn’t give a shit – this African dude is blasting some African chanting music on his phone in the waiting area – some people just don’t care and that’s the way to be! No matter how cringe-worthy it can be for everyone else!

Being carefree & not judging one’s self is crucial to survival. And yet at the same time you need to care about a lot & be very judgmental of yourself in order to improve. Finding the balance is tough but one that I’m working towards in several aspects of my life: health, wealth, & happiness, to be extremely vague & cliché.

It all basically circles back to the statement I made about forcing suffering. Being overweight is a product of over-indulging on foods, not working out enough, not walking the dogs frequently enough. It is also a product of being in the happiest relationship I’ve ever been in, happy with my job – and simply being overall satisfied with the direction my life is going.

I’m not extremely overweight, but I would like to be slimmer. I’ve been bulking for about 5 years – it’s time to begin the cut for next spring/summer – after Thanksgiving.

It all begins with the consistency of lifting & activity. Since I spend the majority of the day at my desk, I NEED to walk the dogs (maybe run them), lift at least 3 times a week, and get cardio in wherever I get the chance.

When you force yourself into difficult situations like waking up early, lifting hard, doing morning yoga – when you overcome the struggle, you unlock more & more energy to propel you forward. Become the habits. Live the change.

Other than that I really am working hard towards formulating the right plot to take the garden to a full-blown farm. I keep talking about buying land but I think the better way to think about it is, “how much can I squeeze out of my small garden area that I already have set-up?” The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries, yet produces an enormous percentage of the world’s food & plant material because of agritech and grower knowledge that is beyond the conventional realm of agriculture & horticulture.

I feel confident that with more diligent planning, & the accumulated knowledge through experience and education, that I can at least double my production next spring on the same amount of land. To be fair, half of the garden at my parents’ house was devoured by hungry deer, but I think I can double production at the Garden of Gains South (my house) too. Through the use of container production, organic principles, biological controls, and a little bit of luck, I have learned how to dial it in & prevent disease rather than trying to cure them.

Learning from experience is different than education from classes though. Through classes, you learn more about the biology, the chemistry – and that fascinates me – I just wish that I learned those subjects under the same context in high school & college – it probably wouldn’t have changed my mind without me actively gardening though, but I’m glad that I found it at a certain point in my life. I was always interested in those areas of science, but never realized how I would utilize them in my future passion that is growing plants & gardening.

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Give Yourself Permission to Succeed

So often in life we feel as though things are out of our control because we aren’t in a position of “power”.

But true power is never attained – it is earned; it is something that exists within your soul already. You exercise this power by taking risks; taking calculated leaps of faith & fighting for your mission.

Sometimes you lose – most of the time you will lose – learn to love it.

If you always get your way, you will never learn the truth. You’ll never learn the true mechanics of the world and learn what the market desires; in the end it is the market that dictates who/what wins.

Your losses & failures seem so ultimate in the Now – our society celebrates success as if it always happens overnight; instant gratification. And when success isn’t instantaneous, we want to quit. We want to protect ourselves from the insecurity & vulnerability we feel – or fear we will feel. On the plus side, nobody gives as much of a shit about your feelings as you do.

The other good news is that you have 60-100 years of life left (I’m planning on living to 132) to learn from those mistakes & to pivot towards a new path.

Your failure is never an end – it is a new beginning.

If your failure is a dead-end & you see it as your goal’s death, that is a problem with your perception, or maybe your ideas do suck!

How you react & refine it shows your faith in your mission, and more importantly, in your Self.

Give yourself permission to fail.

Failure is the only true path to success & victory because it shows how badly you want It. When you see success as “winning” and failure as “losing” – you lose! Life is not binary unless you want to limit the scope of your mind to that. In success there is room for improvement & in failure there are micro-victories to be celebrated – a little paradoxical, no? Well that’s life – confusing as hell & so complex that we will never fully understand the relationships that intertwine to form our reality.

Giving yourself permission to fail or succeed is the critical component in the equation of life. And if you think of it as an equation, that may be the perfect analogy.

What you want could be the product, sum, or difference & the rest of the equation’s components are in your hands – and then it is algebra from there.

My equation looks something like this:

[Blogx+3Instagramx+YouTubex+(15CSA+add-on products)-Excuses-TimeWaste]² = Greenhouse Grower / Farmer

In other words, I  know that I need to produce content on my Blog weekly, post at least 3 times a day on Instagram, create a weekly YouTube video, build up my CSA (veggie box subscription), and when I take that to an exponential level – I will be on the way to attaining my goals. I’m constantly tweaking that equation with different approaches. When I slip on one platform, then I know I need to increase activity on another in order to balance the equation. And as I fail, I learn – as I succeed, I learn & seek to replicate that or fabricate new ways to succeed further.

Your goals are only crazy if you follow them blindly. If you continue to see your ideas/thoughts/desires surface – maybe there’s something there. If they continue to fail, what is poking holes in your theory? Study its credence & eliminate its influence if you still feel as strongly.

I LOVE telling people that I’m going to be a farmer because I see the smirk, I see the doubt, I see the almost-condescending attitude pouring from them. But I also know the truth of the economics, and more importantly, I know the truth of my passion.

Most people love their cushy office jobs, but I love nature & I love work. I remember helping my parents mulch our house when I was about 8-10 years old and just loving the fact that I was sweating my ass off, working hard in the hot Ohio summer – that is the difference – I love what other people fear or avoid. And on the academic side – I seek to understand as widely & deeply as possible. When you can combine an academic mind with a body that loves work – you have a farmer.

Whether I succeed in the end depends on my short-term actions that map to my long-term goals. Today I start with 15 people who have subscribed to our Garden-Fresh Veggie Boxes, but just a couple years ago I couldn’t even manage to supply myself with enough produce!

The moral of this rant is to chase down your dreams until you catch them. Fear of Failure is the 1 thing that will deter you initially. But what is worse: to try & then fail? or to not try & never know the outcome?


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What do you want to Become and why?

Read Danny Neth's answer to What do you want to become and why? on Quora

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Your Passion is a House Plant

Your Passion is a House Plant.png

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My Passion Projects

2017 was an amazing year for me with a lot of execution on creative projects. Typically I’m not much of a creative, or much of a person that shares those things either, but 2018 is the year of speaking my truths & executing further on my dreams.

By dreams, I mean the eventual plan of owning a farm – or to stop the negative looks/thoughts/feelings that everyone has when I say I’m gonna be a farmer – I’m going to be a grower; a field grower, a container grower, a greenhouse grower.

And this is a PLAN – not a pipe dream. Pipe dreams are for wishful thinkers & dreams are for losers – there’s no room for pointless dreams in a world that needs action & execution.

So here’s a quick rundown of my projects & channels!

Gardening 4 Gains –  Garden Blog|Plant Shop|Mission – This is the engine that powers everything that I do! Gardening 4 Gains began as my Instagram handle & is a mix of my 2 biggest passions: bodybuilding & gardening. As my love for gardening grew, I began to do research, watching gardening videos to learn more. One of the biggest gaps I found was the amount of information that needs to be relayed to people about gardening, so I began blogging & have slowly gotten into YouTube – that is one of my top targets for 2018 – to post weekly videos of relevant, interesting, and engaging content to build the Gardening 4 Gains Community & spread the awesomeness of the art of gardening.

Plant Rant Series – YouTube Channel – One of my top goals for 2018 revolves around publishing to YouTube. And not just posting videos, but creating a stream of content that is highly relevant, helpful, and engaging for people curious about learning how to garden. If you’re stepping into the gardening world, leave me a comment with some of your top questions & I’ll be happy to answer!

Writing TV Show Script – Sorry, no link to this guy just yet, and I don’t think I can tell you much about the story until we get it polished & ready for the press! The idea for this show is something that my buddy Tony developed – we actually discussed this a few years back in college, but for some reason, it has just started clicking with us. That’s the thing about a great idea – it doesn’t die! It only becomes stronger in its slumber because it’s a living, breathing, ever-morphing idea in the mind and once we started writing, we rolled! Currently we have 5 episodes written, all between 25-35ish pages – so needless to say, we’ve been crushing it! Now we finish editing, polishing, and then we will be submitting it to multiple companies like Amazon & Netflix – where else should we submit?

Plant Rant Radio – Anchor Podcast – This is my least expected venture, but one I am having the most fun with. Anchor is an easy-to-use podcasting app that I have been using for my show called “Plant Rant Radio”. Anchor allows you to record 5 minute segments, add background tracks, add music from Spotify, call-ins – you can basically do it all! What you’re supposed to do is get all the components together & then stitch them together to create an Episode. This will allow you to make a podcast that is much longer if you only record through Anchor (you can upload from your computer as well). I like the 5-minute segments because it puts a limit on my Rant & forces me to be quicker & more creative on the fly. It’s interesting to see how this has been progressing; I’m feeling more comfortable & getting into a groove. My show has no real direction other than just talking about life – reflecting on the day or just ranting about the stuff bubbling up in my mind. I’m sure I’ll get some “Plant topics” in there eventually, but right now I’m having fun with being myself & being real!

Last year was monumental in the movement & traction I gained with my Passion Projects, 2018 is a year to execute further & take these ideas to new heights.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting around wondering what my passion was – worried that I would go through life just searching, worried that I was “wasting my life” since I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or had no true passions outside of bodybuilding & fitness. But it doesn’t matter when you find the thing that makes you tick – the only thing that matters is that you know it’s out there & if you’re paying attention, you’ll find your passion & turn your dreams into realities.




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Plant Rant Radio on Anchor

This year has been an inflection point for Gardening for Gains – our vision has been shared with the world & this coming year I want to really ramp up what that means.

The most difficult thing about running Gardening for Gains is having a clear focus on what I truly want (a farm 3-5 years down the road), yet maintaining what Gardening for Gains currently means.

So what does Gardening for Gains mean – what’s the point? what do you do?

And that’s why I have started my newest venture called “Plant Rant”.

I plan on doing Plant Rant segments on YouTube, but my main medium of delivery is going to be on Anchor.

Anchor is an app that allows you to have your own radio station. Quick, easy set-up and it’s Free!

Basically you hold your phone up to your ear like you’re on a call and that’s how you record your segments – super easy! There is also an option to add background music, interludes, and you can integrate music from Spotify.

Anchor used to have the Snapchat effect – your segments would be archived after 24 hours. Recent updates allow you to convert your segments into episodes. I haven’t really gotten too fancy with episode creation, but I imagine this is a way you can make a super-solid, professional-sounding radio show: throw a background track on it, add a song for an intermission between segments, toss in some sound effects for humor or drama & boom! You gotta radio show!

Check mine out here! 👇

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Would love to hear your thoughts on the show or any requests for future Plant Rants!

Leave some love!