A Quick Diagram of Alcoholism

I’ve spent way too much time of my life doing flowcharts….

So I figured, why not?  The basic idea of an alcoholic decision cycle… as done in wreck-less fashion over the course of too few minutes with colors that probably make no sense!  Enjoy:

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Perhaps later I’ll do a Power Point but….. nah….

We have greenage,

~Joe

A Real Bummer

Down but not out

Last week I wrote about my goal of a career change and in particular a position that I interviewed for which had gotten me incredibly excited and wanting. Today I received word that they offered the position to someone else with a little more experience in the actual position. The president did mention in the email that he wanted to keep my name on file as he expects to be hiring again within a month or two and I would be his first choice. He also praised me on my eagerness to work for them. I absolutely wanted this job and must say that right now I’m feeling slightly crushed.

Fact is, finding a job is hard work even for qualified individuals and I cannot let this keep me from forward progress. I have established a massive amount of forward momentum over the past few weeks and letting a small setback drive me to quit is just not an option. Matter of fact I should be looking at this from the positive standpoint, all of the communication I received was directly from the president (and owner) of the company and each time he praised my eagerness and follow through. The fact that he stated “first choice” for the next opening is a very good sign as well.

 I can never go back to my old ways and survive

So dear readers, I must continue on forward. I may be feeling down today but I am not out of the game by any means. Changing careers is a difficult thing to do, applying for jobs that I have no direct qualifications or experience in while having a strong work history in a field that most consider a better paying / higher level career track. I understand the fears of potential employers that I may jump ship for better pay, and what the future holds for me is still uncertain but I do know one thing; I can never go back to my old ways and survive.

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As for today, I’ve spent a while firing off some applications and resumes and went straight to my most recent comfort activity of cooking!!

That which is well seasoned is bound to be good,

~Joe

Simple Things That Make Life Good

Memories and thoughts conveniently boxed and ignored

Last week I wrote about cleaning house and throwing away things I no longer need or want. I have had a day to explore the interesting newfound feeling of “just a little bit more freedom” and I thought I would share some of the thoughts that I have had in this short time.

Thought one: Things That Made Me Think

I came across a few items that had emotional and sentimental value, this naturally made me think back and remember things good and bad. I did get rid of a few items in this category but kept the bulk of them as they were small items (cards, letters, a rock my mother sent me on my 30th to hide under, etc.) and they did bring about a positive feeling overall. These items were set aside and dedicated a tub just for keepsakes in the interest of actually being organized for once!!

There were other items that made me think such as books, magazines, old notebooks from my time in the IT industry all of which I pretty much tossed. While it’s nice to know that I was able to teach myself a great deal of expertise in the past I don’t think a book on database management for software that was discontinued 10 years ago has any real reference use in my life today or tomorrow. The good news is that I realized that I can accomplish anything I want so long as I decide to put the effort in and not stop.

Thought number two, why did I even keep that?

Recently I wrote an article on collecting junk as a kid whether it was bolts, screws, even pill bugs!! This thought is still a very good and fond memory but probably not a very good habit in my adult life. I came across all manner of things that I haven’t the slightest idea what I was thinking when I decided to toss it! Some of these (well okay, most) things were absolutely ridiculous! I had cheap chocolate lollipops shaped like bears (broken of course), power supplies for nonexistent Walkman’s (yes the cassette players), rubber O rings for god knows what, film canisters full of little screws and plastic parts for laptops from 12 years ago, so on and so on.

I don’t consider myself a hoarder by any means I don’t find myself stopping at every garage sale and I can easily go into a thrift store and leave without buying anything. I just don’t throw anything away because I might be able to use it for uhm….. something? And so I find myself dragging around all these boxes and tubs of stuff on the premise of “it’s my stuff”. Toss, toss, toss and HAH! With each “thud” of something hitting the trash can I felt just a bit less tethered to garbage I simply do not need.

Thought number three, I can get more stuff!

Uh oh….. Now I’ve got this thought that I just made room for more stuff I want! This could be dangerous territory, I’m going to have to watch myself from here on out in this area. Several people I know have expressed a little confusion about why I am doing this blog let alone trying to get an article up daily. The answer has three parts (bear with me, the third is important to this thought):

  1. I have been journaling daily and have found it cathartic
  2. When journaling I tend to focus on the negative, by switching to writing with the idea of creating something positive for others, I can train myself to think more positively
  3. I never go back and read my journals, I do go back and read my articles particularly when someone likes or comments on them

So the focus on number three here, I can remind myself to not collect useless items by simply sticking with the ideas I present in this mess of random thought that is my blog. In fact I might PDF this one and just keep it on my desktop to read at my leisure, or screenshot this particular section. Who knows, depends on my mood I guess!

Thought number four, OH MY GOD THIS IS COOL!!

Finding things I forgot I had has had some downs as illustrated in thought 3, howevimg_6363er I must say there were a few really excellent up’s!! I found some pretty cool things that either already have been used or will be used quite soon. Bringing out my inner child I’ll use the best example of excitement I came across. Pictured right is a blow gun, I don’t expect everyone to know what it is or understand the absolute fun that can be had from such a contraption so let me explain. One inserts a dart into a simple tube, the dart has a set of fins or plug that keep it firmly in place and creates an airtight seal within the tube. The tube is then aimed at a target (in my case typically a paper target taped to a cardboard box) and the user exhales a quick strong breath into the tube thus launching the dart at the target. How fun is that!!!

 

So in closing, I must say the idea of just cleaning house has led me to a rabbit’s hole of emotional excitement! I’m incredibly excited to go through more boxes and tubs in the future for sure.

Aim straight and let the darts fly,

~Joe

Coping With the Perpetually Unhappy

Why be happy to be unhappy?

Yesterday I did something rather normal even for me, I went grocery shopping. I had a printable gift certificate that I wanted to use and given that the grocery store I patron had just changed point of sale systems a few weeks ago I expected a little bit of trouble. I have been through this before and at this point I can tell the checkout clerk the exact steps to take to use the gift certificate so I was pretty confident things would go smoothly.

The checkout clerk was a little frazzled to begin with, it seems he wasn’t having too good of a day. This is fine I tried to be as cheery as possible making small talk about the weather and such, my ID already on the counter for him as I was also getting cigarettes. And then the gift card, he scanned it first. This of course was the wrong way to go and it resulted in a little bit of delay which he apologized for. My response, “I’ve got more time than money no worries man” I wasn’t worried as I expected it and really I had nothing pressing and was in a particularly good mood to begin with.

Unfortunately there was a woman directly behind me who had just gotten in line that did not share such an upbeat attitude. Immediately she began to make comments about having ice cream and frozen chicken and making some of the most intense and ugly faces I have seen in quite a long time at the cashier and myself. The cashier made several attempts to assure the woman that it would not be very long she gathered all her items and turned around to use the self-checkout, giving us the finger after she moved her groceries.

This woman did not have a whole lot of groceries, I’m not sure what the hang up was, nor do I really care. In the end I was rung up and checked out, and as I walked by the woman who was still checking out at her new post all I could do was smile and say “Have a nice day mam” Having been around a lot of people in a lot of situations I have learned to identify those that seem to only be truly happy if they are unhappy. This woman fit incredibly well into this category, as she continued to grumble and make more nasty comments she proved that not only did she fit in the category, she *wanted* to be there.

I just couldn’t jive with this at the time in fact I had to actually try to keep quiet. I wanted to comment regardless of knowing that it would do no good other than to validate her anger with the idea that the world is against her. I have had times in my life where I have been in a hurry and things would hold me up and slow me down; in fact if you’ve read yesterday’s article on ADHD and have experienced any of those such symptoms you might understand how incredibly frustrating this could be to me. Still, I don’t think I have ever been so passive aggressive to throw snide comments at the world around me simply to validate my own existence. This woman’s anger actually attached to me and made me angry.

Wait… I have spent the last several days trying to spread positive attitude in the same exact way! I have set out to purposely spatter happy positive thoughts on anything and anyone I could. The confusion I have is that this woman most likely had no conscious idea that she was spreading her negativity. The dynamic is something for me to consider in depth for sure, why is it that spreading positivity is so difficult to do yet spreading negativity happens so naturally and often with very little effort?

The question of why popped into my head as I was driving home with my stock of veggies and healthy stuff (and yes the cigarettes) why would this person exert so much energy just to be sure everyone was absolutely aware of her disdain for what was a common and unintentional mishap? What does anyone stand to gain through such efforts? I began to think about times in my own past when I had acted in such ways and realized that in fact I myself had spent many years with the same negativity demon. Anybody that has known me for any long period of time can most likely bring up several instances of me exhibiting this same action. Oh wow!

I eventually let the thoughts fade off and returned to my new positive and happy to be here attitude that I have found to be quite simply much more enjoyable and healthy overall. I actually began to feel sympathy for this poor woman as I thought about the experiences I missed myself by pushing anger and negativity outwards. It was actually quite depressing thinking about it, so I found myself in this anger -> depression cycle that kept going on and on, I was angry that I had missed out because of my anger… the only answer was to come back to my positivity.

Bringing life back to the present, I try (and after a while it is starting to come naturally) to be as positive as possible, small talk and good comments no matter how trivial they may seem have absolutely changed my life and hopefully at least the days of others. If avoiding that one comment, or making a simple gesture and putting the small effort of a smile in can make somebody else feel better I now have a hard time understanding why anyone would not do this.

In the days of instant everything, the microwave, the internet, online shopping we have all but destroyed the reality of patience and god forbid we be held up for an extra minute or two even if we have nothing planned. Let’s take a moment to relax, and understand that maybe things do not need to happen so lightning fast for our own good, let’s compliment those in front of us rather than pander to our online friends. Today I choose to be positive and happy, I will take my time and enjoy my actions on purpose simply because I can!

Don’t shoot the messenger,

~Joe

An Honest Discussion About ADHD and Self-Medication

A Little Story With a Big Boogeyman

Authors Note: This is the longest and probably most difficult article I have written thus far, it was originally intended to be posted as my second article with an entirely different title and subject.  As I wrote to illustrate my point the article changed drastically into what is essentially a part of my life story.  As raw as I have tried to be in writing this, I will not be adding any pictures or fancy quotes, just the article as I completed it.  As always, and in particular with this one please let me know your feedback, ideas, rants, anything.  And look forward to at least 3 off shoot articles from things that came to mind during the writing of this one. A PDF version of this article for sharing can be downloaded here.  ~Joe

I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD more times in my life than I’ve stubbed my toe or hit my funny bone combined. Quite often people will comment that I also have a bit of OCD (more on that later). I wanted to take some time to explore how I have turned my so called “disorder” into positive adaptations that have brought me success and an interesting life. I also wanted to examine how my failed attempts at self-medication has caused destruction of those successes and held me back. All told, when I am thinking clearly I can honestly say I would never trade this so called “disorder” for anything.

I’m going to start by framing the view of ADHD I have come to adopt, it was once explained to me that ADD, ADHD, and many other similar so called disorders are in fact nothing more than different evolutionary types of “brain wiring”. The tag “disorder” is merely a societal method of coping with a version of personality that may not fit the present view of “normal”. To be more detailed as it relates to ADHD vs. “The Norm” it was described as a hunter / farmer relationship. It is not so much that we have developed disorders as it is that society itself has changed.

The hunter (being ADHD) has to maintain a high level of alertness and be ready to snap into quick hyper focused action during a hunt, or dangerous situation. The farmer (current norm) has to maintain a great deal of routine planting, watering, sowing crops on a clockwork schedule. This made perfect sense to me and I have built on this theory since it was first presented to me as a young man. Centuries ago the hunter could have been considered the norm or, in the very least the respected ones in society as survival required the natural skills to respond and react to danger for protection as well as prey for sustenance. Whereas presently in most modern cultures systems are in place to provide our protection, food, materials, and services for us without the need to hunt them down. Society itself has changed to a more routine mindset and over a great number of decades this mindset has become the norm pushing other thought patterns out into the fringes that we label “disorders”.

So now that I have described my viewpoint on ADH (omit the D) let me go back to the OC (again omitting the D) has come to play in my life. I have always been incredibly disorganized (a common trait for ADD / ADHD of course) often late, forgetting commitments, masterful at procrastination, quick to panic (and often get flash angry) when things spiraled out of control. Over time I began to force myself to organize, keeping things “just so” and religiously using alarms, lists, and stacks of notebooks to “normalize” my life. I *Made* myself OCD! Did I need to go to such lengths? Probably not, but the structure put me in a position to be incredibly superior in what I did, efficient and effective.

Well, hooray? One of the dynamics of ADHD is that of extremes, extremely distracted, extremely focused, extreme emotions, and so on. As I began to achieve my personality changed immeasurably, often cocky and egotistical, opinionated, boisterous, argumentative, and overly driven, I became an ass. I developed a fear of failure and a need for achievement that was so intense that success itself became an end game that meant I would no longer have something to do. This end game had to be avoided at all costs, add to this a deep seated emotional view that I didn’t deserve success, and a self-destructive cycle that would inevitably devastate my life as I knew it began.

Something happened to me, I became human. I had injected myself into a lifestyle that was hyper paced with little to zero room for a recharge. I had stormed castles that were beyond my ability to protect after capture, pillaged items that I had no means of transporting, I had overextended myself without consideration for anything, completely reckless. I began to self-medicate, drinking at first to relax and calm down, or in many cases to wine and dine a potential client, to be social, nothing too heavy.

Moderation and judgement were short lived, as soon in the same ways that I had trained myself to be obsessive / compulsive about my organization I had trained myself to be a highly functioning alcoholic. I could perform the most complex and intricate tasks perfectly while under the influence. This combination of achievement mixed with self-medication worked for me, until it didn’t.

I very quickly began making mistakes, forgetting to do things, losing my edge. The emotional distress caused by failure, or sometimes just perceived failure brought me to my knees. I began drinking to black out and numb myself no longer did I care about the buzz or enjoyment. Socially having a few drinks gave way to hiding in my workshop drinking vodka straight by the gallon with passing out being the only thing that would stop consumption; coming to and restarting the process at the wee hours of the morning.

I had crossed a very thin line from a treacherous path directly into absolute obliteration of my life as I knew it. I spent the next several years in a repetitive cycle of clawing my way to recovery only to fall right back into the pit of relapse, soon I had torched all but my own mere existence. At the time of this writing I am sober, slowly and carefully working to reconstruct my life. I say reconstruct rather than rebuild as I have come to the realization that in order for me to continue I must work towards something that does not resemble what I was.

I originally started this article thinking that I might do a list of “tips” on ADHD self-management; I had a pretty good start until I began to truly examine my experiences over the long run. Lucky for me there is this wonderful invention called the backspace key! I decided instead to illustrate my view of ADHD and the plight I experience that is self-medication and perhaps finish off with some positive lessons that I have learned. I am a firm believer that mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities that begin with a negative consequence. This does not make mistakes bad, in fact it is probably more beneficial to start with the negative and end with the positive rather than the other way around (this thought may be a topic for another discussion).

So, in many self-improvement and recovery programs there are aspects of creating “lists” if you will of ideas, goals, accomplishments, dreams, mistakes, etc. 12 step groups often refer to this as an “inventory”, many of the RBT (rational behavioral therapy) or CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) types use “lifestyle balance” tools. In any case I thought it important to look over some of my own past “lists” to continue this article. Below is a small cropping of notes I took while going over several journals and lists that I have created (the types of tools I used will be in the footnotes):

Positives Negatives
Serial Entrepreneur Flighty and aloof
Self-taught high level IT High strung
Flexible in task shifting Low frustration tolerance
Successfully built business Poor time management
High level of economic understanding Poor personal finance management
Ability to learn new things very quickly Bored with new things very quickly
High level of analytics Overly critical at times
Incredibly fast at accomplishing tasks Often cannot say no
Able to talk to anyone Sometimes present false masks to protect myself
Driven Low self esteem

This is in no way an exhaustive list, in fact creating this list was exhausting!! The good news here as I see it is that I’m examining my strengths and weaknesses. Again I must state that I am program agnostic however, the 12 step program has a very immaculate way of describing this in the terms of “taking inventory” and “defects of character”. My personal experience is that it is all too easy to get lost in the negatives when taking such an intensive look at myself and with my new goal of reconstruction I decided to focus on the positive aspects and try and narrow what has become a 2 page list of sometimes incoherent ramblings down to a simple sentence.

I am a flexible individual who is highly energetic, driven, curious, and capable of attacking new challenges while maintaining a high degree of integrity, honesty, and open communication.

That simple statement took me hours to come up with, and I am seriously considering writing it on my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker much like I used to write my to do list when I first started my career in IT. My point for this whole long explanation of my history with ADHD and self-medication is that self-medication in itself is not always bad; it is the way in which we choose to self-medicate that defines the results.

To further explain my theory on this I would like to describe my new methods of working with my so called “disorder”. With my reconstruction I have really put a lot more effort on living a healthier lifestyle, my sleeping habits, my morning routines, the food I eat, beverages I consume, my activity as a whole. In the past I kept myself so busy with my drive that I often forgot to take care of myself, I have found that changing this dynamic has helped me to become a lot more rational and has opened a window of opportunity for me to learn a better way to control my shifting of focus.

While this method of self-management is new to me, I can attest that even in these early stages I feel much more centered, focused, at peace with my history, and overall I am happy with the direction I am going. It has been a long time since I could say that! And yes I am still driven, excitable, inquisitive, energetic, and scatterbrained at times but I am back to learning how to harness those traits rather than shutting them out with alcohol. Since beginning this journey of attempting to write a positive article for each day I have noticed an overall general calm about myself, I’ve experienced no cravings, no urges, not even a thought of my affliction as it relates to today or tomorrow.

My hope is that I can maintain this forward progress and become a better human being I owe it to myself as well as my family and friends; and I would like to think that maybe, just maybe my smattering of words into the internet might help someone else.

Take it out of park,

~Joe

The Positive Benefits of Creation

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One of the authors hobbies, Gummy art.

Why not take action to improve yourself?

Creating something, whether baking a cake or building a table, even snapping together a Lego set or creating a blog entry can become an incredibly cathartic process of not just focus and self-reflection but also discovery of one’s own capabilities. Often it can also serve as a distraction or outlet from a myriad of problems we encounter through life be it anger, depression, addiction (urges and cravings), and of course boredom.

Smart Recovery © calls this a form of VACI or Vitally Absorbing Creative Interest and it is recommended in point 4 of the program “Living a Balance Life”. While it is very true that engaging in a hobby or activity (which can be anything ranging from hiking to simply meditating) is not just beneficial but in many cases required to achieving life balance; I would like to suggest that activities that produce some sort of output can be useful in all stages of life (or to frame within SMART© Point 2 “Coping With Urges” and Point 3 “Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors”). In the interest of not seeming to focused on one single program I will also point out that many 12 step sponsors will recommend a sponsee perform a task when called about an urge or craving.

This translates farther than addiction though; often with scenarios of high anxiety, depression, even avoiding or reducing the extent of dementia, or Alzheimer’s symptoms. The positive effects of a hobby are far reaching in that it exercises the mind, helps to achieve focus, generates a sense of accomplishment and, in the case of creating something it can also produce income or a gift for someone else.

Recently my personal experience has been that when I have an urge come on I can manage it very quickly and easily by engaging in one of my favorite “creational” hobbies, cooking. Often by the time I assemble all the necessary pots and pans and utensils and whatever ingredients I will need the urge has disappeared. Sometimes instead of cooking I will start a wood working project or fiddle with any manner of craft from stained glass, building a camp stove out of a coffee can, photography, and yes even this blog.

The articles for this blog is not only a very good example of a creational hobby but also in my opinion a very timely and excellent demonstration of how effective such things can be on changing overall attitude and improving well-being. I started this blog approximately three days ago, this is the fourth day and I have already noticed a major shift in my overall attitude to the positive. I find it easier to engage in conversations with a much more upbeat and relaxed tone, and shrug off comments that I would ordinarily respond to with argument or insult. I haven’t had an urge or even so much as a slight craving in the last two days, and my sleep has been better than I can ever remember throughout my adult life.

Here where I am at in Colorado, I impatiently await the days I can go out with my cameras and snap pictures of whatever strikes me in hopes for those few great shots that I may print and frame as gifts for friends and family. I cook a meal once a week for my much younger cousin who is living on his own for the first time a few blocks away. These creational hobbies not only provide me joy and absorb time that I might have normally spent looming in depression, but they also bring along a secondary feel good when I do something for someone else just because.

I invite anybody reading this to take a good look at what creational hobbies might become a useful tool in adjusting attitude and lifestyle to a more positive and productive meaning.

Happy creating,

~Joe

When Life Gives You Lemons, Take Them!

Free Stuff is Always Cool!

Oh how I wish I could take credit for that saying, I first encountered it some 20 years ago while in an underground IRC chat room for “network security enthusiasts” (i.e. a mixture of hackers, wanna be hackers, and general misfits). At the time I was a high school dropout with no formal training and an incredibly strong will to succeed in a career in the IT field. A friend (whom I still talk to today) made that comment to me after I went on a rant about my employer hiring college graduates at a higher pay rate while I spent every waking hour performing said graduates jobs due to their incompetence.

Had I spent half the energy I wasted on this useless hate….

In full disclosure, I travelled life for a long time with a chip on my shoulder against formal education and while I still sometimes get frustrated with inexperienced graduates acting as “experts” in areas they have only scratched the surface of; I have come to learn that holding a grudge because I chose a different path is not only pointless, it’s plain stupid! Had I spent half the energy I wasted on this useless hate on my work, I probably would have cut a good 5 years off the time it took me to scramble to the success I achieved in my last career.

Presently, I am in a massive state of flux affecting all aspects of my life. It seems every time I turn around I notice something that needs to be addressed, a setback, a mistake, many times many things that could very easily discourage any human being; but this is a positive thinking blog, remember?!

When I first entered the IT field I used to wake up excited to go to work, I lived there pouring everything I had into what I did. I was excited and simply could not learn enough, it was one of the best moments of my life. As I think about how energetic and genuinely happy I was during those early years I realize that I’ve got something many people will never have, the chance to do it all over again! This time I have an upper hand as I have garnered a great deal of experience in dealing with people, business matters, communication, and a wide variety of other mechanical and thought based “stuff”. While I may not have direct experience in the field I am trying to enter I do have some sharp useful skills.

This whole thinking cycle has me coming to a few impacting realizations (whether I like them or not):

  • Wow, maybe I misjudged those graduates based on perception of direct experience
  • Oh my god, I’ve become rational as I grew up
  • Complaining about opportunity is stupid and paralytic
  • Time to once again be uncomfortable for my own sake

 

And, yes there are a ton of other thoughts swimming around this pot of soup I call a brain but at the time of this writing these are the most impacting and interesting. I have this great opportunity due to how life (and often my own actions) has handed me a barrel of lemons. I absolutely *HATE* lemonade but still I can absolutely state that nothing beats a squeeze of lemon on a good cut of blackened salmon!

Pucker up and stay zesty,

~Joe

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I didn’t have any pictures of lemons in my collection and I strongly oppose posting another’s art without permission so have a picture of me with a puppy from several years ago!  Improvisation!

Remembering the Best Parts

Sometimes I find reminders of the good in my past

There was no internet, no “I” devices

Yesterday while I was cooking lunch I heard an awful loud and rumbling noise outside, I looked out the window to spot a street sweeper passing by. It has been more than 25 years since I have seen a street sweeper in a residential area and I had a little chuckle over that. I did how ever have a spat of disappointment when I noticed the sweeper was using nylon brushes. I remembered fondly as a child riding my bicycle or walking with friends or family collecting whatever “junk” I could find. The metal street sweeper blades were the top echelon of “junk” one could collect.

There was no internet, no “I” devices, just baseball, bicycles, fishing, club houses, and of course junk collecting and trading. We used to keep our junk in tackle boxes or coffee cans, whatever we could put it in! I would collect all manner of nails, bolts, pill bugs (roly-poly bugs), strange parts and pieces of whatever was strewn along the side of the road or in the fields. One had a sense of accomplishment when looking through all the fun “stuff” collected over time.

Realizing I was lost in this thought and my pasta sauce was about to burn I ran back to the kitchen and finished my lunch with a sense of calm serenity. I had a kind of solemn happiness thinking about how I had so many good moments as a child. Throughout my adult life and my battle with alcoholism in particular I have been conditioned to focus on the negative aspects of my past and present. The idea of working with past trauma, and accepting past mistakes is beneficial I understand however, I don’t really recall any situations in counseling or meetings where past positives were a focus.

There are a number of therapy methods centered around positivity such as focusing on daily gratitude and such but most therapy focused on the past (that I know of) seems to be centered solely on the negative. I’m not discrediting any of the methods by any means it is just something I’ve noticed. In any case I will say that gratitude is a good thing and I should probably start working on that more myself! Back to my original thoughts though!

The image that comes to mind is from 2001 A Space Odyssey; Dave removing the “memories” from HAL “Daisy Daisy….” It’s as if Dave is in my head moving the memories around!

In the short time between what I affectionately call “the clean street incident” and the time of this writing I have experienced numerous moments of happy reflection on good times of my childhood! This experience has been wonderful in helping me to continue my momentum of maintaining a positive attitude. I’ve found myself remembering moments long forgotten, almost as if some unseen force has changed the tape in my head. The image that comes to mind is from 2001 A Space Odyssey; Dave removing the “memories” from HAL “Daisy Daisy….” It’s as if Dave is in my head moving the memories around! Lucky for me his goal isn’t the same as it was with HAL, I don’t feel like he’s shutting me down. I think he might be trying to help me organize my storage space.

So for today I think I am going to relish in these good thoughts and maybe jot down some experiences as I remember them to reflect on in times of negativity. I wonder now how different my life would be if I had focused on the positive experiences rather than the negative long ago. Perhaps I should not even wonder this, what’s done is done! Today and tomorrow are what matter most, I should get my priorities straight!

Remember the best,

~Joe

 

Cleaning House

Realizing How Much Baggage I Carry

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Sometimes it’s good to take out the trash!

Like most people during a transitional period I have been recently going through my possessions, boxes and tubs of things I have pack ratted away over a period of time. Granted not all of my stuff is with me and is stored at another location and I must wait to go through that, I am still able to go through what I do have with me. I started this process on a whim as something to pass the days as I wait to hear back from potential employers and it’s becoming an incredible experience thus far.

I’ve always had two habits when it comes to “stuff”:

  1. I collect it
  2. I randomly jam it in tubs and boxes and forget about it

 

 

Sometimes I’ll need something and start going through tub after tub looking for what I needed (often never finding it) and pulling out other trinkets and baubles along the way to mess with “later”. This cycle results in things lying around in stacks until eventually I shift it to…. You guessed it another tub, hah!!! Going through every so often and actually discarding items that I do not, and will not ever need is one thing. Going through and realizing that the cost of keeping something around that I may need sometime in the distant future is a whole new ballgame altogether!

our emotional well-being is often impacted negatively by clutter, disorganization, confusion, and the sense of being overwhelmed when trying to clean up

I suppose I should explain what I am intending to relay when I mention the word cost; from my experience in various warehouse and business settings I have come to learn that inventory has costs that are not directly tied to the purchase price of an item. These costs are the time to move items from one shelf to another, the time spent finding an item, and of course the cost of space where the item resides. Add to those an emotional cost that is often connected to the negative aspects of clutter and disorganization as it relates to personal possessions. Quite simply, our emotional well-being is often impacted negatively by clutter, disorganization, confusion, and the sense of being overwhelmed when trying to clean up.

Initially I had no idea where to start, the first tub had me pulling things out willy-nilly thinking “wow I forgot about this!!” and slipping into my cycle of pulling things out only to create more clutter and disorganization. Eventually I started looking at the items I had spread out over the floor; I stood up and grabbed a trash bag. Quietly and thoughtfully taking each item and focusing my thoughts on the cost of each item and how important it really was to me. As I began judging each item carefully and deciding whether to keep it, throw it away, or give it away things slowly began to change for me emotionally.

I began to feel a strange freedom from a lot of possessions that ordinarily I would never part with. I began to feel more at peace in my surroundings and lighter overall. The idea that when I am done I will know what I have and where it is has overcome my annoyance with how time consuming and tedious this process has become in comparison to my original “tub stuffing” method.   I will wholeheartedly admit however, I had to force myself the first few hours to think slowly and carefully about each item and what to do with it and this was no easy task at first.

I’ve found an amazing goldmine of items (some still sealed in the box!) that I will be in need of in a couple of months when I make my move to a new home. I also managed to consolidate and empty two tubs within just half a day! Two tubs!! Overall I haven’t put much of a dent in all of the stuff I have collected throughout my adult life but I have made a good dent in the possessions that I have with me during this transition. I have also found a number of items I didn’t realize I had that I will need soon thus avoiding additional unnecessary cost, and of course a few items of great emotional value to put in my little treasure boxes (I use cigar boxes for my treasures).

I feel featherweight right now emotionally, light and agile, no longer encumbered

Today’s start was a good one and I hope to keep the momentum, I didn’t think it would feel so good and expected it to be more of a tedious task that I would drop only an hour or so in. I’m actually excited to go and get a few more tubs and continue the process, it’s been rewarding knowing I can let go of a lot of things I no longer need to drag around. Almost like dumping emotional baggage at times! I feel featherweight right now emotionally, light and agile, no longer encumbered by so much stuff.

Chang Tsu once told of a story about a deaf, mute man whom many went to see to learn. (I’m going to paraphrase this as I do not remember the actual text) The student was confused as to how such a man could be so sought a teacher to which Chang Tsu replied “heaven and earth could collapse and he will not be moved, to this man losing his speech and awareness of trivial external things is like throwing away so much dirt”. I used to try and wrap my head around this thought and now I think I might have a little bit more understanding.

It’s invigorating to realize that I can part with things I no longer need or want, and to know that if I need or want something I still have the ability to put in the efforts to achieve should I simply decide to. Today was a good day!

Happy housecleaning,

~Joe

Dust Yourself Off and Go For

Where do you see yourself in five years?

me1
The author, 22 years ago

I simply want to enjoy what I do and who I work with

This question was asked of me during a job interview today for a job that I could be considered well overqualified for in a different sector than I have been in during the bulk of my working life. A long while ago I realized that if I did not change my career, I would most likely never be generally happy. While my first choice was culinary arts, the environment at entry level would grant me a level of exposure to alcohol cravings that I do not feel I am ready for presently. I decided to stretch and focus on the employer’s environment rather than actual career track as I am certain I can learn anything I wish to should I make the decision to put the effort in. To put it in a one liner “I simply want to enjoy what I do and who I work with”.

This is bound to be a decision that will have far reaching effects, a lower wage translating to a change in lifestyle as the most obvious. What of a lower wage? Perhaps a lot of my prior excessive spending (and yes alcoholism and depression) is a symptom of a much more sinister problem? If I am incredibly unhappy with what I do and no longer wish to do it, what good does it do me to make more money that is bound to get spent in other areas simply to seek some form of satisfaction with life? If I can achieve satisfaction through my work and seek positivity and joy through those I surround myself with there may not be a financial issue at all!

This interview rates as perhaps the best interview I have ever experienced in my life as I met with the owner, and each and every employee (including the company dog!). The environment appears incredibly dynamic with employees that are very close and tight knit, supporting each other and generally enjoying life. The tasks for the position are diverse as the company is small employee wise (only a handful) and in environments like that people generally have to wear many hats dependent on what the workload is at any particular time. As an ADHD adult with a touch of OCD and a consistent thirst for knowledge , this interview has done nothing but change my thought from “I need a job” to “I ABSOLUTELY NEED THIS job”

Naturally, after reviewing my resume and seeing 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field to include several years running my own corporation which I eventually sold the President hit me with the zinger: “Where do you satta-boyee yourself in five years?” oooh boy. I’m usually very quick in thinking and responding to most questions and having interviewed others myself many times through the years, I generally know what to expect during an interview whether it’s a panel or one on one. I had to think at this point as I had come to the conclusion that bombing this interview was not an option. “Truth be told sir, I just want to be able to make a living wage and wake up every morning excited to go to work; I want an environment where I can learn new things and surround myself with dynamic people whom I enjoy being around”. Not sure if I aced that answer but a few of the other team members were smiling and nodding.

 

Yes, I think I have answered that question well! Reality strikes that perhaps I answered that question more for myself to solidify what it is I really want out of my life for the next construction of myself. I have been musing over that question for years now and I can honestly say as I write this that I am content, albeit incredibly excited about my decision. I no longer care about monetary wealth, don’t get me wrong there are benefits to having a few extra greenbacks and I do have debts that I will be struggling to pay off.

The fact remains that so long as I am able to maintain my happiness and positivity, I have plenty of options to increase my income through a second job or continuing to consult in the IT sector. Coincidentally, one of the other questions asked was “One of the reasons we were very interested in you is your networking knowledge, we have some network issues. If we were to ask you to help in that area would you feel that it would be beneath you?” uhm, not at all sir I would absolutely love to help!

I’m flat broke…. and I couldn’t be happier

So my dear handful of readers I will keep you updated on how it goes. Upon getting home I immediately sent a follow up email which received a good response so I am of high spirits!! I’m flat broke, with little entertainment options where I currently am living (no TV or internet save my phone as a hot spot), and I couldn’t be happier!!! I have food in my belly, a warm place to sleep, an amazing opportunity on the horizon, and even a blog that I can use to sound off in a positive manner.

Time to make the doughnuts,

~Joe