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

 

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Why not Try Something New!

Dust yourself off and make a go of it!

♥♥♥♥Love what you do and the sacrifice can be worth it♥♥♥♥

Authors note: I was originally going to sit down and type out a recipe for a friend tonight as I have already published an article today.  I found myself incredibly excited and thus decided to maybe type a future article.  This came instead, and given the timing is now being posted.  I hope you enjoy and as always comments and criticism are welcome.  ~J

To say my life is in a period of great transition right now is an understatement; looking deeply at career, home, habits, appearance, thoughts, all aspects that make up the landscape of what “I am” is in flux. As I write this I am impatiently awaiting bedtime as I have a job interview tomorrow for a position which I could easily be labeled as “overqualified” with pay that is well under what I once made in the past. I WANT this job! During my initial phone interview, the president of this small company asked me directly why I was interested and asked about the pay absolutely confused as to why I was so highly energetic on the call about taking what would typically be considered an entry level labor intensive position.

perhaps the presence (or lack) of joy in what I do is a key

I laughed! I did not even have to think for a second before presenting my answer “Well sir, I want to once again wake up in the morning and want to go to work”. Rewind about 15-20 years and I was up rearing to go every morning, I spent most of my time at work because I absolutely enjoyed what I did. I was the low man on the totem pole wage wise as I lacked the fancy education and certifications that were hot at the time but most importantly I was a doer. My goal at this point in my life is to recapture that amazing feeling one gets of satisfaction with life. Over the last several months I have had a lot of career disasters admittedly, most have been self-inflicted. In a way, I have become my worst enemy as it relates to moving forward, perhaps the presence (or lack) of joy in what I do is a key to this conundrum?

When an opportunity appeared to apply for this position at a company in an area that I have enjoyed interest in since childhood, I was all over it. When the response came asking for more information and the subsequent phone call which resulted in tomorrow’s interview something miraculously happened in my mind. I became excited, happy, incredibly positive, and super charged! I couldn’t sleep I was so excited (though I hope I get good sleep tonight I need to be prepared!) I was vibrant with life despite the many things going incredibly wrong right now.

The point here that I am leading into (apologies for the long lead in, I’m still excited about this job) is that of deciding in the wake of a downfall. The idea that I had failed so many times at forward progress over the last few months but still had the brass ones to dust myself off and keep looking for the next step. The idea that in looking for that next step I found an opportunity to not only pick myself up, but the incredible opportunity to again feel energized and content with what I do daily to sustain life. I am interviewing tomorrow for not a job but enjoyable tasks that happen to pay!

I subconsciously turned the negative….. into the positive of enjoying what I do….

Some may say I am “punching down” and downgrading based on my qualifications and skills, I disagree! I feel that I am challenging myself and attempting to “punch up” by learning a new skill that I have so been lacking; I am pursuing an opportunity to learn happiness and enjoyment. I cannot explain in words the excitement that has come over me in waves over the last two days since I was offered the interview, the mere ability to work in the area that I will be in is such an amazing thought to me that wage suddenly turns into a matter of “if I have to, I’ll take a second job just to keep this one”. Perhaps my plan is working, I subconsciously turned the negative of a lower wage and laborious work into the positive of enjoying what I do and who I do it for.

My goal when starting this blog was to attempt to train myself in positive thinking by having to write with a positive connotation often if not daily. I cannot claim mission accomplished however, I can claim progress and that my dear readers, has been incredibly exciting! So, I urge those of you that may be in a similar position, if you have options (and most of us do given a little effort) please be sure to rate happiness in your decisions as well as financial security and whatever other factors you have. Dusting yourself off and rebuilding takes an extreme effort, why not enjoy the results.

Love what you do and the sacrifice can be worth it,

~Joe

Self Blame vs. Responsibility

Don’t Blame Yourself but Take Responsibility

All of us have experienced situations where we feel we were wrong, in some cases we absolutely were this is not just something that happens to addicts / alcoholics. The fact is that humans are humans and we are not perfect even though some of us might think we are at times. As a second fact of note sometimes when we are wrong damage occurs, whether it be physical, emotional, financial, whatever. Most of us find ourselves looking back at times when we were wrong and caused “damage”; often we look back and merely think we have caused damage when in fact we caused no damage at all and still in some cases we have caused irreparable damage.

What do we do with that? All the self-blame, the guilt, sometimes shame, incredible frustrations with ourselves, and yes in many cases the excuses. I have over a long period in my alcoholism built up a very large reservoir of damage caused; I have apologized so many times it no longer has any meaning, dwelled in guilt enough to have paralyzed myself over and over. Often. I would bury myself so deep in guilt and shame that the depression would set in and to kill it I would begin the same self-destructive cycle all over again causing yet more external damage to feel more guilt and shame upon returning to life.

I have said it more times than Vizzini from The Princess Bride says the word “Inconceivable”

So, what do we do about cycles like this? What do we do for damage control, to keep from suspended animation or worse, running away and leaving more destruction in our wake? To pretend it never happened is ignorant and quite possibly narcissistic, regardless it’s wrong. Going back to all the times I’ve said I was sorry, did I really mean it? In every case where I feel guilt or shame over my actions I can in fact say: yes, I meant it. I am perfectly capable of saying I am sorry but beyond that what is my course of action? Remember, the sorry no longer means anything as I have said it more times than Vizzini from The Princess Bride says the word “Inconceivable”.
Responsibility is a versatile word, it can be taking responsibility for something that one must do (in most cases this is how we view it) or it can mean taking responsibility for previous actions, holding one’s self accountable for the results. This does not mean killing yourself to make amends or pushing to repay someone who doesn’t want to have any dealings with you at all. What this means is simply acknowledging your wrong, apologizing whether it’s accepted or not, and moving on with the notion that you will be more mindful of not making the same mistake again.

we can always know that we have tried and that we have learned from our history

Sometimes, we need to realize that positivity is not always about “feeling good”, it’s about the effects of our actions and our words, our beliefs, and our convictions, and yes sometimes our faults and our struggles on ourselves going forward as well as on others. While there are some people who may never forgive us, or accept that we are taking responsibility and action; we can always know that we have tried and that we have learned from our history. We can approach each new situation with a better understanding of ourselves and what pitfalls we may fall for, and an open mind to the fact that maybe we will be wrong again but when that happens….
We will take responsibility and continue forward!
Go clockwise,

~Joe

The Value of Self Determination

Accomplishments despite contrary influence

Authors note: Today is Saturday, I have decided to try and make Saturday a two post day (because it’s my blog and I can!).  Be sure and scroll down to read todays other post “Coping with Societal Negativity” and of course input is always welcome! ~J

So interestingly, the last two days have given themselves up to a very excellent stream of positive consciousness for me as well as an awareness of how strong people can be. I have two stories to relay in this article, both popping up over the last couple of days and both I have found to be quite inspirational to me. The first story had me in such a good mood I can only classify it as an emotional high even though the achievement in the story had absolutely no impact on me directly. The second story while, not actually so much of a “feel good” tale illustrates a long-term determination to succeed and how our failures might assist us over the long term. So, let’s dig in:

Story one comes from a member of my favorite HipChat group (I have mentioned them in prior posts) A Farewell to Recovery. I will note that any stories that I relay in my articles are done with permission and unless requested otherwise I keep the person anonymous.

Our subject recently had a very big announcement, the achievement of a GED or General Education Diploma which is an alternative to a high school diploma here in the United States. You might think “well what’s so special about that many people have GED’s or high school diploma’s, heck that Joe guy has his GED”. What makes this story so positively refreshing to me is that this person was told throughout life that it could never be done! In fact, some of the exact words were harsh enough to include the term “retarded”. Imagine going through your early life being told what you can’t do at every turn and not hearing much about what you can accomplish.

Over the course of about a year and a half this person exhibited the drive and perseverance that most people rarely tap. A fundamentally raw persistence to accomplish what according to the surrounding environment could not be done. What I find even more inspirational about this is that a year and a half is not a particularly long time to study for a GED. Add to that the continuing conversations about the next steps, aspirations to possibly become a Veterinarian Technician or possibly something else. Someone who had nothing but “bound to fail” reinforced over and over, and now quite successfully on a forward track that many “normal” people lack the stones to achieve. This story made my day, and inspired me to work just a little harder on my aspirations as well, thank you for that!

wow must be some socks!

Story two is a little bit different and close to home it involves a family member, my mother who is an avid weaver (don’t ask). She apparently has a “sock machine” which is some strange loom used for weaving circular deal for knitting socks (again don’t ask) which from our conversations is incredibly difficult to use. I had a conversation with her very recently about a pair of socks she was trying to make, in her words she calls them her “F***ety F*** F*** socks” wow must be some socks!

In my mind, mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities that begin with a negative consequence.

She has been trying to make this pair of socks for what I think is several weeks now (just go buy socks!) at one point having finished the pair but not being happy with them taking the pair apart back to yarn and starting over. Something happens here or there with the loom…. Tear down and start over…. Full moon…. Tear down and start over. At the time of this article posting, the socks are not complete and I’m willing to bet are either in a state of tear down or a state of start over. The endgame is decided in this case, there will be socks! While the idea of toiling so much for a simple pair of socks might not be a positive thought, the side effects are of a very positive nature. With the continued use of the machine, and the continued identification and fixing of mistakes my mother has been able to better master the use of her beloved sock machine! In my mind, mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities that begin with a negative consequence. (you can quote that).

May your feet stay warm,

~Joe

Coping with Societal Negativity

coping_with_societal_negativity <- PDF download of this article!

Dealing with the Emotional Negativity Pulse (ENP)

Authors note: This is not a political article so don’t worry! This is a smattering of my thoughts on how we can cope with generally negative people and maintain a good healthy attitude about ourselves.  Also, it’s Saturday!!! I will be trying to make Saturdays a two post day so be sure to check back for the second article!

It’s bound to happen. If you leave your bed, possibly multiple times a day. If you isolate in your home but turn on your TV, hop online, read the paper, turn on the radio. If you leave the house and are within earshot of human beings, maybe even dogs…..

I felt empowered!

Negativity! Body language, comments, and sighs OH MY!! As I write this and think about how powerful negative energy is I conclude that our ultimate display of strength is not in how we push our feelings on others but how we react when influence is pushed on us. I once worked the counter at a small neighborhood convenience store, not exactly a 5-star job but I decided each day regardless of how grueling the work was for so little pay that I was going to try to make every person that stepped foot in my store want to come back. So, I would put my uniform shirt on, and a mask every shift. I would greet people happily while mopping the floor and occasionally one would stop and comment something like “Every time I see you your happy man”. I felt empowered!

Like some super hero; I was changing the future for people, one happy “how’s it going today? Can I help you with anything?” at a time.

Despite everything that was going wrong in my life I had accomplished something great, I had changed somebody’s attitude! This may sound (or read rather) somewhat silly, but the fact was simply by being aware of my outward appearance and actions I had found this inner super power that allowed me some level of control over those around me! Like some super hero; I was changing the future for people, one happy “how’s it going today? Can I help you with anything?” at a time. The double edge sword to this super power is that it can also be used for evil. The most interesting thing about this super power is that all humans possess it should they decide to use it; the decision of good vs evil is quite often a subconscious one making it an even more dangerous power. Think nuclear warheads of the emotional variety.

So how do we defend against the nuclear attack? What kind of anti-negative missile battery can we deploy that will defend our own attitudes and well-being from this ever-present threat? After a lot of careful thought and consideration, I started to reflect back on times of stress where I have reacted in calm and effective ways; a time when someone entered my workplace with a handgun looking for his ex-wife’s boyfriend, all the times I’ve been hiking and come across someone that fell or had an allergic reaction and I had to reach into my trusty pack to render aid, stopping to pull someone out of a car after a bad interstate accident, the list goes on and on (sometimes I wonder if my presence causes the problem). Then I begin to think about how used to verbally insulting staff meetings, customers, co-workers, and bosses I became working in Information Technology.

Lots and lots of instances, I eventually had to stop thinking as I felt I was dwelling on the past. The lesson though had been found! In almost every case, the action under pressure, the getting screamed and cursed at, watching the fist pounding and throwing of glasses and pens; in most of the cases during the actual event I would focus my mind on staying calm and rational and attack the situation as it needed to be handled. This does not mean it did not change my attitude to the negative after the fact but during the event I would put myself on autopilot to solve the problem at hand.

So, what if we train ourselves to put some form of “positive defense” on autopilot? Maybe maintain that autopilot for a period that lasts not just through the event but also after the event? Maybe we focus on keeping rational when people are negative around us and think positive but also accepting thoughts like “I’m not sure what kind of things are going on with this person but maybe if I stay positive I can help”? Our best defense might be a 1-2 punch of positive self-talk and acceptance followed by a counter strike of positive outward attitude against our negative opponent.

When I was in active shooter response training we were taught AlICE: Alert, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. While there are several different trained methods this was the one I was taught; we can apply the same principles to a let’s call it “active negativity pulse” or ANP. I know, cheesy huh? Just bear with me here I know I’m going to get all kinds of comments on this one.

Let’s set a scenario where we are in conversation with someone who begins to emit ANP via body language and conversation. Our first step is to Alert ourselves consciously that we are under ANP attack this prepares us. Our second step would be to Inform ourselves and possibly others around us that the ANP is in fact happening, this can be through body language, conversation, and of course internal positive self-talk “okay we need to be on our toes”. Now we Counter with a positive interjection towards the source of the ANP, “hey did you see that (insert object here) made it to (insert achievement here)!” with luck this will deflect the ANP by changing the subject to something we can work with, it may not in any case we continue our work. Finally, we Evacuate if we can continue about other business we do so leaving the area, if we simply cannot leave the area we consciously hit the mute button on the ANP source or we consciously imagine walking through a door and having a wall between the speaker that deflects the ANP.

While this sounds silly, my thought process has three simple points:

  1. We are consciously aware of the negativity
  2. We attempt to change the subject or impart positivity
  3. If the situation does not change, we stiffen our defenses and allow it to “roll off”

As always, I invite your comments and thoughts. This one was a doozy to write given all the stuff swimming in my head but I have a little bit of confidence now that maybe it will help me to be more mindful of negative situations and when I need to put more active focus on positive influence.

Duck and cover,

~Joe

Why do I not deserve success?

I think I shouldn’t succeed!?

Writers note: This article came about after a conversation with a regular at the Farewell to Addiction HipChat group who was curious as to why I self-destructed every time I achieved or became very close to achieving success in something. The conversation not only inspired me to write on this topic, but also gave me a greater insight into myself as well as others in relation to success and achievement.

Over the last several years as I grappled with sobriety I’ve seen a great deal of counselors in a variety of situations. Whether it be one on one in an office visit, via an intensive outpatient, or through an inpatient or residential rehab environment. There always seems to be a common question they ask after examining me for a while:

why do you feel you don’t deserve success?

The reason for them to ask this question has been known to me for a very long time, my achievement cycle has been the same for as long as I remember. Since childhood I would find a path to something that would ordinarily be considered out of reach and drive forward like a rabid dog until I would achieve success or get within easy reach of success; and then I would self-destruct. After the self-destruction I would lick my wounds in stagnation for a little while and then start the cycle all over again with something else.

I’ve had conversations about some of my accomplishments, or things that I have attempted and people tend to ask me why I’ve done so many random unrelated things. The idea that I will attempt just about anything no matter how lacking I am in qualifications or ability seems to confuse people, including me. It has been suggested to me that I enjoy the struggle and art of creation; the learning process that often is filled with fits of trial and error and the excitement of doing something that I was never meant to be capable of. If the thrill of achieving the impossible is the reasoning why is it that I stop short of completion or tear down the final product? Counterintuitive would be the phrase I’m looking for, the person that inspired this article asked me “If you don’t feel you deserve success then why even start?” why indeed.

The maddening crux here is the complexity that is human thought

I’m somewhat of a mechanical thinker, I have always enjoyed the art of fixing things this is what I do. The maddening crux here is the complexity that is human thought, conscious and subconscious alike. What makes up our beliefs, our self-identification, mannerisms, values and ideals, how we react, what pleases or displeases us; the scholar will tell you there are “thought mechanisms”. I disagree with this being a mechanically minded person; I can look at a chain of gears and with a little musing understand how they function together and identify where the “breakdown” is in most cases. In my train of thought I have been able to identify the results of the problem I don’t deserve success as well as the consequences I need to destroy this and start again yet even with support from a myriad of sources I have not been able to identify where the “break” actually is.

Could it be that I am not listening to these “experts”? I have been through the process so many times I can almost repeat most counselors word for word from memory; trauma, depression, self-awareness, mindfulness, meditation, sleep hygiene, socializing, so on and so on. I still struggle with the actual solution itself! So, in my usual fashion I decided to come up with my own plan of attack I am going to form a habit of accepting success! As I have formed a habit of smoking there should be absolutely no reason I cannot accomplish this. I am going to force myself to accept whatever my next success may be.

I will keep you posted thanks for reading,

~Joe

Positivity in a negative time

The miracles of positive thinking combined with hard work

 

The last few months for me have been a time of serious and intense self-examination, a lot of reflection on the past and present, and probably not enough focus on the future. The last few weeks this all changed as I began to realize that my history is filled with just as many positive successes and improvements as it is with negative actions and self-destruction. I began to shift my focus from regret and shame about my past to an energetic hope and curiosity for today and the future.

Why is this shift relevant to my self-discovery in isolation? Quite simply I had an “Aha!” moment wherein I realized that despite possessing no more than a general education diploma, and having no formal education I was able to work my way to a top-level information technology position, start and eventually sell a successful IT services corporation, become a respected marine plankton researcher, establish a high level of expertise in accounting, finance, business development, and even teach myself macro photography. I did all this by keeping an attitude of “I can” and a willingness to work as hard as possible as often as possible on what “I can” do.

Of course, I also managed to self-destruct and lose all the wonderful benefits of these things in a short amount of time. Worse yet, each time I would try and rebuild I would dwell on my regrets and the negative actions and consequences from the past enabling myself to continue an inescapable loop of self-degrading negativity. I spent years in this loop laying a foundation to rebuild and then destroying it just as it was almost ready to support whatever structure I so chose. The idea of “almost” turned into something of a religious action, a self-destructive ceremony to celebrate the doctrine that I am not worth the success. This entire frame of thought is absolutely garbage in its entirety; an ironic thought given that my dream job as a child was to be a garbage man and “take out the trash”.

The thought that one can look at any positive action during a time that appeared to be primarily negative or simply stagnant and turn that positive action into a marketable experience becomes incredibly transformative when practiced.

Cue the aha moment, maybe if I stop living in regret and find the next thing that I want to accomplish I can break this loop. I have always enjoyed cooking, what some people consider tedious such as the act of chopping vegetables and other prep work has always been a form of working meditation for me. I have through practice established the skill of technical writing, I journal daily for myself to get my thoughts and ideas on paper though I rarely go back and read them.

Perhaps I should pursue the areas of culinary arts and amateur journalism; the absolute worst case is that I am unable to enter either field and so long as I remain positive I can remedy that situation by finding yet another new endeavor. The thought that one can look at any positive action during a time that appeared to be primarily negative or simply stagnant and turn that positive action into a marketable experience becomes incredibly transformative when practiced.

So given these positive thoughts, and a path forward the second part of my “little plan” begins; the part where I have to put in the work.  Closing the YouTube video of whatever political stream I was watching and coming here to build this site and begin my work.  Learning journalism the hard won way that I learned everything else with, that of trial and error.  I hope that this first musing (I hesitate to call it an article) not only invokes some sort of positive thoughts for you, but also invites constructive criticism to help me “find my way” in this new version of myself.

Thank you,

~Joe