The End of My Life’s Little Instructions Run

I am a man of quirks and traditions. Over the years I have become known for doing certain things on a consistent basis. Whether it be just writing this blog or sending out extravagant holiday greetings, I like to give people something to look forward to, no matter how small it might be. When 2021 rolled around, I laid to rest one of my longstanding daily traditions.

For the past 14 years, I have had a page-a-day calendar called Life’s Little Instructions. Each day would feature a tidbit on how to be a happier, kinder, wiser, or healthier individual. Many times these quotes were hokey or outdated, but sometimes they actually hit the mark. For the first five years of using the Life’s Little Instructions calendar, it was these occasional nuggets of wisdom that encouraged me to purchase it year-after-year.

Me holding the 2018 Life’s Little Instructions calendar. 

But after a half decade the instructions started to repeat themselves and the novelty wore off. So what would make me continue to go through the same song and dance for another nine years? Social media.

An example of a Life’s Little Instruction.

In 2009 I started to post the instructions to Twitter and in 2013 I started to post them to Instagram. I found that my followers actually appreciated them. The repeating instructions didn’t bother me enough to pull the plug on the enjoyment of others so I continued to purchase Life’s Little Instructions and post the content on a daily basis.

I didn’t know it at the time, but 2020 would be my final year with the Life’s Little Instructions calendar.

My Instagram audience enjoyed Life’s Little Instructions the most. Over the years I have had several regulars comment and share the posts. However, no one gave me more of an incentive to publish the instructions on my feed than Ellen Seder. For four years, this college gym pal of mine would respond to every post with a humorous or witty comment. Most of her replies were self-deprecating as she would analyze the instruction in context with her dating life, reality TV-watching habits, or love for Prada. Whenever I would post in the morning I would think, what is Ellen going to come up with today? Her comments always brought joy to my day.

This is Ellen Seder, the person responsible for bringing a lot of humor to my Instagram account over the years with her comments on my Life’s Little Instructions posts.

The Life’s Little Instructions calendar kept me knowledgeable about the date, provided a lot of blogging ideas, gave me consistent social media content, and helped me not to take myself too seriously. However, I guess all good things come to an end.

I planned to continue my Life’s Little Instructions run in 2021. However, when I went to purchase the calendar at the end of December, I was told that a shipment of the Life’s Little Instructions product never arrived. The store manager said that the pandemic contributed to a lack of inventory. I turned to Amazon and found it, but if I ordered it online I would not receive it until mid or end of January. I decided I would discontinue my search. So, for the first time in 15 years, I started the new year without referencing my Life’s Little Instructions calendar.

Most good things come to an end.

A couple days ago, my mom was at Barnes & Noble. She texted me a photo of the 2021 Life’s Little Instructions calendar and asked if I wanted it. After thinking about it for a moment I said no thank you. It wouldn’t have been a big deal resuming my tradition after a week hiatus but I decided against it. My social media followers were getting along just fine without the daily instructions.

My mom texted me this photo of Life’s Little Instructions calendars at Barnes & Noble. She asked if I wanted her to buy it. I passed.

It is working out just fine for me as well. In 2021, I look forward to building an Instagram presence that centers on beautiful photos that mean something to me as opposed to eyesore calendar photos. Also, my Twitter followers will no longer confuse calendar quotes as something that I said or believe. Although at first it felt weird not posting the instructions every day, I am managing.

Thanks to everyone who followed and enjoyed Life’s Little Instructions over the years. It was a great run and hopefully they resonated with you every now and then. Don’t Blink.

Thanks For The Happiness, Birthday Girl!

Last night as I ripped to the next day on my Life’s Little Instructions calendar, I couldn’t help but smile. Considering today’s date, the advice seemed handpicked for me. You see, January 28 is Sidney’s birthday.

What a fitting Life’s Little Instruction for this date.

What can I say? The advice is true, at least from my perspective. If you read this blog or are familiar with our family, you know what part of the 90 percent equation I am on. Much of my happiness in life is derived directly from Sid or by something she has given me (such as a certain toddler).

Sidney blowing out her candles this past weekend while Sloan looks on.

If it wasn’t for this date and the girl who was born on it, I don’t know where I would be. I truly don’t think there is anyone out there who could give me 45 percent of my happiness, let alone double that amount. Sidney fills my cup for sure.

Happy Birthday, Sid!

A year after spending her birthday taking care of her sick husband and daughter, she is celebrating her special day in 2019 by doing something more on her terms. This evening, after opening presents with Sloan and I, she is heading off to Columbia, the state capital of South Carolina. Tomorrow is the “SC for Ed Money Matters Lobby Day” and she will join fellow teachers from across the state to let elected officials know the resources educators need to truly give the best educational experience to our youth. Let’s pray that Sid travels safe tonight and is well-rested for tomorrow’s festivities.

Happy Birthday, Sidney! Thank you for making me happy. Don’t Blink.

10 Thoughts

With so much on my mind and with the Thursday Rundown still a couple days away, tonight is the perfect time for 10 quick thoughts.

1. Remember how I told you that Sid and I play “Jeopardy” each night and keep a running tally of who has won each game? It is close! At the current moment, I lead 49-45-9 (yes, we have battled to nine ties!).

2. The average price for a Super Bowl ticket on sites such as Stubhub is almost $8,000. Unless I had a family member playing, I would never consider paying even $800 for a ticket to a sporting event.

3. We need to demand better from the mainstream media. The bogus story about President Trump telling Michael Cohen to lie was one thing, but the dishonest coverage of the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial over the weekend was wrong – we can’t use our youth as pawns to promote a false narrative.

4. The 2019 Celebrity Big Brother cast is stacked and our household looks forward to watching the competition play out. Go Tom Green!

5. In the Northern Hemisphere, they say the third Monday in January (yesterday) is the most depressing day of the year. Although this time of the year is tough for some, I think it is important that we don’t let it get to our heads. I hope you had a great day yesterday and that you try extra hard to make it a productive and happy week.

6. A year ago on this date, Monday Night Raw celebrated its 25th anniversary. Did you know I used to be a HUGE professional wrestling fan?

7. Today is National Blonde Brownie Day and I love nothing more than a homemade, warm blonde brownie. When I was a resident assistant in college, I would order blonde brownies for our floor snacks as many times as possible.

8. One of the recent pieces of advice from my Life’s Little Instructions calendar was Be as polite to the custodian as you are to the chairman of the board. I couldn’t agree more.

9. It is my wife’s birthday week – she was born on January 28.

10. Speaking of my wife, she came home tonight with a beautiful haircut AND made us steaks for dinner!

Doesn’t her hair look great?! (Just for clarification sake, I am talking about Sid’s hair).

Don’t Blink.

Be Happy With What You Have But Work For What You Want

Every now and then, I come across a page on my Life’s Little Instruction calendar that I want to do more with than just tweet out. Sometimes I like to elaborate with a paragraph or two. Today is one of those days…

This was today’s Life’s Little Instruction.

This instruction gives us two big nuggets of wisdom:
1. Be happy with what you have.
2. Work for what you want.

I subscribe to the thinking that all of us living in this country hit the lottery. With so much of the world’s population living in poverty, filth, and danger, it goes without saying that we have it pretty good. How did we get so lucky? Why did we get picked to live in a non-third world country?

It seems like I have been asking myself versions of the above questions quite frequently the past several weeks (making today’s instruction speak even more to me). Lately I have been extra mindful of the fact that I get to go to sleep in an actual comfortable bed under a nice roof in a climate controlled room. Many people will never even experience this once in their entire lives.

What makes me even more aware of my luck is that I know I have it pretty good just in terms of others living in the United States. Our country is great but we definitely have way too many people who lack necessities that many others enjoy. Undeservedly, I have it incredibly good. I have a job, I have reliable transportation, I have a family, I have available food. When I take the time to break this down, there is no way I can feel any way other than ecstatic about what I have.

However, just because most of us (I am referring to my blog audience) have it great and can bring ourselves to be happy with what we got, it doesn’t mean we have to be complacent. In my opinion, there is no issue with working one’s tail off to improve and get what it is that we want. As long as we keep the charmed life that many of us enjoy in perspective, working hard to achieve goals is not something we should be ashamed of.

I have always taken heed of the bible verse from Luke that says whomever is given much, much is expected. To me, it is the command for all of us to reach our potential. It is a directive that in order to live our lives to the fullest, we must work hard.

To boil the entire instruction down in a different set of words, I think it is safe to say that we need to be happy but not complacent. We need to recognize on a daily basis everything we have been given but we still need to push ourselves. Never underestimate the power of both gratitude and hard work. Don’t Blink.

It’s Coming Back in 2016

While many people know me for this blog, there is something else that I am almost equally known for as well. No, it isn’t something prestigious or particularly relevant but it is something that I take great pride in. In fact, I take such great pride in it that I give time and dedication to it 365 days a year.

Some people know me as a blogger, others know me as The Guy Who Posts ‘Life’s Little Instructions’ On Social Media.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@brentreser) you know very well what I am referring to. Even if you aren’t connected with me on those services, you might know what I am talking about just from reading this blog. I have devoted a whole post to my daily habit and I have also written about the person who has added so much spunk and humor to it over the past few years.

Life's Little Instructions will be back on my social media accounts in 2016.

Life’s Little Instructions will be back on my social media accounts in 2016.

But if you still don’t know what the heck I am alluding to and if you don’t want to click on the above links, here is a quick summary. Each year I purchase the latest “Life’s Little Instructions” page-a-day calendar. Every Monday-Saturday during the year (there is just one instruction per weekend) I will tweet out that particular date’s instruction and also take a photo of the instruction and post it to Instagram. Pretty simple, right? Sure it is! But for whatever reason, people seem to really appreciate it.

I am writing today to announce that I will once again be posting Life’s Little Instructions in 2016. So for those who can’t get by without reading the daily cute/corny/cheerful instruction, you can rest easy. I went to downtown Spokane yesterday and bought the newest edition. I always make sure to go after the Christmas holiday and make the purchase as calendars are marked off 50%.

This was today's Life's Little Instruction.

This was today’s Life’s Little Instruction.

This year marks a milestone. It is the tenth year I have used the Life’s Little Instructions calendar. Additionally, it will be the eighth year I have posted the instructions to Twitter. It will be the fourth year I have posted them to Instagram.

This is me in late December 2014 holding my 2015 Life's Little Instructions calendar.

This is me in late December 2014 holding my 2015 Life’s Little Instructions calendar.

What about the status of Ellen Seder, the girl who has made us all laugh with her witty comments underneath each instruction that I post to Instagram? I have not reached out to her yet and asked her to continue in 2016 just because I am embarrassed to! She has worked so hard over the past 2+ years that I just feel really bad asking her to devote another year to the cause. But Ellen, if you are reading this, please know that I would love for you to continue!! However, I just don’t want to put you on the spot and pressure you in to doing something that you might be getting tired of doing. I will find out what you plan to do on January 1 🙂

This is Ellen Seder, the person responsible for bringing a lot of humor to my Instagram account.

This is Ellen Seder, the person responsible for bringing a lot of humor to my Instagram account.

I look forward to opening up the 2016 calendar. It is always weird to go from a bare calendar to a fully loaded one with over 300 pages. Thanks to all who have supported and enjoyed Life’s Little Instructions over the years. I assure you that I won’t miss a beat as we transition between years. Don’t Blink.

Instagram Resiliency: Ellen Seder

Today I want to recognize a certain person who answered a challenge I put forth in the waning days of 2013. This particular social media all-star showed endurance, creativity and humor throughout 2014. Before this year ends, I would like to say well done to Ellen Seder.

This is Ellen Seder, the person responsible for bringing a lot of humor to my Instagram account.

This is Ellen Seder, the person responsible for bringing a lot of humor to my Instagram account.

Many people know all about my Life’s Little Instructions calendar. I have written an all-encompassing blog post on it before and I have used it for inspiration for several other blog posts in the past. Anyway, each day I Instagram and Tweet out that particular day’s little tip. Several years leading up to this current year I would always get moderate interaction from the instructions I would post. However, in 2013 I became delighted with the sporadic humorous Instagram comments I would receive from a certain follower of mine. A couple times each week, my friend from my Missoula days, Ellen Seder, would comment on the LLI images I would post. Her comments were always funny, witty, and relevant. I wanted this humor more than just twice a week.

My Life's Little Instructions calendar will be back in 2015...and so will Ellen.

My Life’s Little Instructions calendar will be back in 2015…and so will Ellen.

Just a tad bit over a year ago I issued a challenge to Ellen: Comment on every single Life’s Little Instructions I post on Instagram in 2014. She accepted.

This was the challenge I made to Ellen on December 28, 2013. She accepted:

This was the challenge I made to Ellen on December 28, 2013. She accepted:

Throughout this year I have had the joy of reading a humorous caption that addressed the Life’s Little Instruction for that day. When I would open up my Instagram app and see that I had a comment notification I would always say to myself “What does Ellen have to say today?” She would never disappoint. Her comments addressed so many different topics and taboos but if I was pressed to categorize her responses under one major theme I would say she wrote under the banner of “The Struggles of a 20-Something Girl.” Self-deprecating and light, her comments resonated with many.

Although you can't even see the captions she was commenting on, you can get a taste of her sense of humor.

Although you can’t even see the captions she was commenting on, you can get a taste of her sense of humor.

My other Instagram followers became just as accustomed to seeing what Ellen had to say that day as they were to seeing the actual Life’s Little Instruction post itself. Many times throughout the year people asked me face-to-face (with endearment), “So who is that @ellenseder person who always comments on your photo.” Frequently other users would piggy-back off of the comments she would make. Ellen made herself a big part of my Instagram account in 2014.

Not all of her comments were for a laugh though. Sometimes Ellen offered inspiration.

Not all of her comments were for a laugh though. Sometimes Ellen offered inspiration.

It takes commitment and creativity to comment on something 365 times a year. Her comments, although definitely silly (most of the time), always revealed a lot of thought. I guess it makes sense though, Ellen is a very dedicated individual who is in a career that would allow her to strive at a challenge such as this. We met as regulars at the University of Montana gym and she now holds a job as a social media manager in Westlake Village, California. Her background made her an absolute rockstar as she completed my challenge.

Don't worry! Ellen will be back commenting on Life's Little Instructions in 2015.

Don’t worry! Ellen will be back commenting on Life’s Little Instructions in 2015.

The best part of this all? Ellen has graciously accepted to comment again in 2015. That’s right, come the new year, the comments that everyone has grown to love will continue to appear under my Life’s Little Instructions Instagram post. Ellen, thank you so much for all your hard work and time you put in to brighten the day of myself and all my Instagram followers. You are very appreciated. Don’t Blink.

Time Alone

Every now and then I like to say a few words about my Life’s Little Instructions thought of the day. The wisdom dished out for September 10 held some truth for me personally so please allow me to go on for a few brief paragraphs.

This was today's Life's Little Instruction.

This was today’s Life’s Little Instruction.

For those who can’t read iPhone photos of text, the thought says this: “To be happy when alone is an exquisite happiness.” I couldn’t agree more. Some people dread being alone, not me. I find peace and harmony locking myself in my apartment and writing, reading, Tweeting, and watching television. I don’t yearn for a big thrill, I don’t become restless, and I don’t become needy…I just become…well…happy.

Not that I am an anti-social loser either (at least not the anti-social part). I love my family more than anything, I have a great girlfriend, and I have a solid pool of friends living all across the country. But I do covet the time when I am alone. Notice how the quote defines the solitary happiness as an “exquisite” one. The word exquisite to me means very fine and top of the line. I think that describes my sense of joy when I am relaxed at home perfectly. It is just a stress-free, effortless type of existence.

I keep myself company very easily. I don’t get scared while alone. I don’t feel left out or like something is missing if it is a Friday night and I am home by myself. I don’t feel any negative emotions at all…I just feel joy.

I am an outgoing, people person but I am also a recluse. I love to travel and do things but I am also very appreciative of time alone. I really do enjoy the “exquisite” things in life. Don’t Blink.

Life’s Little Instructions

One thing I am not is a quotes guy. As I have explained extensively, I find quotes both overused and corny. I am not one to recite them, write them down, or share them over social media. However, I do have one exception when it comes to quotes. For seven years, I have had a desk page-a-day calendar based on the famous “Life’s Little Instructions”.

Before I dive into story time, let me educate those out there who are not familiar with “Life’s Little Instructions”. Basically, the concept of “Life’s Little Instructions” is to educate a person in one or two sentences about the lighter aspects of life. Some of the instructions are helpful, some are funny, some are witty, and some are just downright stupid. To illustrate what these instructions are like, check out the entries from the past five days: Politeness is called for even when you dislike someone (3-6) / Don’t go looking for trouble; it will soon find you (3-5) / Give people a second chance, never a third (3-4) / Laugh more. Frown less (3-2 and 3-3) / Don’t finish other people’s sentences (3-1) . Get the idea? Okay, let’s move on.

This is an example of what a daily instruction looks like.

This is an example of what a daily instruction looks like.

Every year for Christmas for as long as I can remember, my mom would always buy the three of us kids a page-a-day calendar. For me, themes ranged from this day in sports to bible verses to Jeopardy trivia. But that one Christmas seven years ago my mom decided to try something a little different and got me the “Life’s Little Instructions” calendar. As a freshman in college, the little bits of advice helped to keep me in line while also giving me a laugh. Each morning, like never before with my previous calendars, I looked forward to ripping the previous day off to see what the new instruction on the new day said. I enjoyed these instructions so much that as the next Christmas came around, I asked my mom to get me the same themed calendar.

The evolving then started to begin. When I got my second “Life’s Little Instructions” calendar six years ago, I decided that I wanted to share the daily wisdom. Because texting had just started to pick up steam, I used that avenue to spread the advice. Because she bought me the calendar, because I knew she would appreciate the little sayings, and because it was a great way to communicate with her on a daily basis, I started to text my mom the daily “Life’s Little Instructions” tidbit each morning. Although it started out a little rough namely because my mom did not truly understand text messaging and because the texts arrived at 4:30 a.m. for her (during my college years I would get up to work out at 5:30 a.m. and in Montana we are one hour ahead of Washington State), she quickly started to enjoy them. Not only were the instructions good, but it also let her know that her son was okay and up and ready for the day. Presently, my mom is still the first one to get my “Life’s Little Instructions” piece of advice each morning.

It is me with my very special calendar!

It is me with my very special calendar!

Seven years ago I started to get the “LLI” calendar, six years ago I started texting them to my mom, and then five years ago another development occurred…I got a Twitter account! Even with my disdain for sharing quotes on social media, I went ahead and started tweeting out the little instructions each day. I did this because the quotes are really not quotes in the first place…they are instructions. I simply just put quotation marks around the advice to let my followers know they are not my own words. Secondly, I wanted to do something that kind of gave my Twitter account its own special twist. Just like how I sign off each night with “Don’t Blink”, sharing the daily “LLI” gave my account more personality. Thirdly, I just wanted to tweet them because many of them are actually useful while others provide a good laugh. So, it just seemed right to start that little tradition and five years later it is still going strong.

The sharing of my page-a-day calendar has branched off once more since Twitter. Fifteen months ago I got an Instagram account. Knowing I needed to do something to make me constantly update my account, I decided to take a picture of my calendar each day. After I text my mom the daily advice and after I tweet it out, I Instagram it. I take a picture of the specific date, apply the “rise” filter to it, caption it with “Life’s Little Instruction for (month, day)”, and then upload it. I never realized how many people would actually enjoy the Instagram version of “Life’s Little Instructions”.

While my mom responds to about 30% of the “LLI” texts I send her and while I will occasionally get a reply or a retweet when I tweet out the instruction, nothing compares to the response I get from sharing it on Instagram. In particular, nothing compares to the response I get from females about them.

Each day on Instagram I can always count on several “likes” and at least a couple comments on the advice for that particular date (mostly all from women). I have had girls text me and ask “Where do you get those pictures of advice from? They are so cute. Do you know where I can get my own?” Today a friend of mine messaged me and she asked if I could picture message the advice I shared on Instagram earlier this morning. About a few times each week, someone will come up to me and say that they look forward to checking Instagram each morning to see what the instruction will say for that day. If it is a weekend and somehow I forget to upload the day’s instruction right away, people will check in with me to make sure I am okay…and then tell me to get it up ASAP.

Where my calendar sits in my room.

Where my calendar sits in my room.

So what does it say about me that I like something just as much as a bunch of females? Well, I rather not think about that. Instead, I just find it cool that I have started a little tradition that a lot of people enjoy and even depend on. A calendar that my mom purchases for me each year for about $10 yields a much higher return on investment than I could ever calculate. Thank you for sharing with me “Life’s Little Instructions” each morning. Keep the reaction coming! Don’t Blink.