Digging in, Digging out

Something *had* to give, and finally it did

I blogged a while ago about pulling myself out of a deep depression, sadly it did not last very long and I’ve found myself less than apt to do much.  Life has a way of being hard for everyone not just me and I must accept that.  In fact, it should be stated that I have been extremely blessed in life.  I have an extremely supportive family despite how poorly I have behaved both in the past and recently.  I have food in my belly and a roof over my head.

Stewing in all we’ve done wrong, not being able to shut our brains off and only catching sleep a half hour at a time becomes maddening

Not having motivation to do much is incredibly emotionally painful for those of us who have always maintained an active lifestyle.  Stewing in all we’ve done wrong, not being able to shut our brains off and only catching sleep a half hour at a time becomes maddening.  I found myself avoiding everyone in particular my family.  Something had to give.

 It’s a sad reality that when one plays a game against the self, he/she loses in either case

I used to suffer light depressive periods which are fairly normal for most human beings.  I never really understood a long term debilitating type of depression until now.  Short periods of pulling out and actually accomplishing small tasks such as cooking a meal or sweeping the floor, even smoking a cigarette (I don’t smoke inside) become major wins in life.  The frustration seems to feed on itself- depression keeps me from doing things, thinking about the things I haven’t done creates more depression.  It’s a sad reality that when one plays a game against the self, he/she loses in either case.

So I’ve been working here and there as a day laborer, which has paid me just enough to pay for the gas and cheap lunches with little left for living.  Yesterday (Sunday) I was prepping for a good nights sleep as the day labor game requires me to show up at 5:30 AM in the “hopes” of getting work among the 100 other people.  I received a text from a friend of a friend of a friend asking if I would swing by to talk about a job.  A job in a career field I have been in before: hardwood flooring!

This was a small lead I got about a week and a half ago, I used to do gymnasium floor installation about 20 years ago and not only did I enjoy it but I was also quite good at the work.  And so I went and met with the man, I start tomorrow (Tuesday) morning!  Good work, full time, good pay!  I decided that today I was not going to shovel dirt for no money and instead prep lunches for the week and practice a little self care.

For the first time in months I used my camera to take some macro shots of wildflowers, I folded laundry, I vacuumed, organized some things.  I’m in a good mood and am hopeful that this time around I wont slip back again.  Tomorrow morning I go back to a career I truly enjoyed decades ago and I’m incredibly excited.  I am taking today to go through and do a personal inventory of all the ways in which blessings and luck have fallen on me through my life.  No negatives, just the long list of gratitude’s.

And I might even call my mother

~J

Of not sleeping and avoiding going absolutely nuts!

So, it’s been a while since my last entry as I’ve been running at 100 miles per hour for a while now. Moving is hard enough but being a pack rat definitely exasperates the str- er frustation.

I hesitate to say struggle even though it seems that way. I have received unparalelled support from family as well as the upstairs neighbors.  I always knew I was a packrat but I was not expecting to have packed so many emotions away as well.

In particular the last two days have been filled with emotions good, bad, sublime, regretful, fearful, strong, even guilty. I have found myself so high strung and stressed that sleep has evaded me now 3 nights in a row.  It comes in little 15-45 minute spurts and I wake up with night terrors or a severe panic attack.

So I change my sweaty pajamas and try again as I know it will get better soon.  I find myself stress cooking which I don’t think of as bad.  In fact not only is it a more positive way of dealing with stress than many other methods I’ve engaged in but, I’m eating healthy food which I suppose is keeping me going.  Maybe I’ll write a cookbook on that someday “Cooking yourself sane”??

All in all I’ve made great strides, I am still throwing/giving away a lot and have listed a lot to sell.  I’m also remembering a lot of past experiences and people in my life and realizing that I’ve been amazingly blessed and lucky.  

It’s almost as if I’m reading my past as someone else’s story sometimes and thinking “this guys a few fries short of a happy meal”.  It’s not that I’ve come to realize most of my struggles and problems are self inflicted, it’s more that I’m beginning to accept it. I have always known I self destruct but change is tough.

I’m still working on changing and I suppose it’s going to be a long task.  For tonight though I’m feeling pretty okay about tomorrow, I even managed an entire 2 hour nap without waking up badly!! 

I have to confess though being on my inversion table and absolutely exhausted from putting it back together might have contributed.  In any case I figured while I wait for my “ham and bean with stress reducing veggie” soup to cool enough to freeze / refrigerate I would stop digging in boxes long enough to post.

A good friend once told me “Don’t be afraid of life”

~Joe 

(Note the image is yesterday’s stress cook not my soup lol)

My Ever Changing Life

Today I planned to take things easy, mom is leaving tomorrow morning so it was a day to get last minute loose ends tied and relax for a bit…….

HAH!!!!  Not a chance, while mom ran some minor errands I got a call this morning from a job I applied for earlier in the week asking if I could show up for an interview at 1:00 PM.  So much for spending the afternoon relaxing before mom left.

Last night we made lists for ourselves, my mother had to drop off a clock to be repaired, pick up some minor items, and we were going to drop off items for donation.  I had some simple tasks of going through things, getting my utilities and change of address stuff in, etc.  Nothing super difficult, nothing too tedious.  Then as usual, all hell broke loose (or rather we came up with more to do).  Things in my life seem to change every couple of minutes, all of a sudden I need to do this or we need to get that or, or, or.  At least my days aren’t always boring!

Between the job interview, going through stuff, getting another load from storage, on and on and on I’m absolutely wiped.  I didn’t even allow myself time to blog this morning!  I’m okay with that honestly, and truly today was a good day.  I will be sad to see mom go but also relieved (sorry mom, I love you but I also love my moments of solitude and self reflection).  I’ve got exactly a week before things double in magnitude on the hectic scale and I need to be prepared if I’m to make it through sane and sober.

All in all I’m incredibly optimistic, a little disheartened by the difficulties in changing career but this is to be expected.  If anything, I am learning to accept rejection better than I ever have and this is not a bad thing at all.  A lot of these jobs I don’t even want and would most likely be miserable after a very short time.  I have to face the fact that I need income, and rightly soon!  So, I keep plugging away in a seemingly futile attempt to avoid going back to the tech industry at all costs.  Something has to happen.

Something *WILL* happen.  I am sure things will get better over time, I’ve been working too hard at progress for it not to be achievable.  I just need to keep leaning forward and stop looking back.  Going through my belongings has made this both difficult and easy at the same time.  Throwing away some things makes me feel just that much more free, finding bits and pieces of the past here and there sometimes makes me dwell.  Odd how our brains and hearts work sometimes.  Time for a restful sleep and a good final morning with my mother.

Never trust a man that doesn’t love his mother,

~Joe

Feeling a Bit More Free

Sometimes you need to let go of some things.

If you’ve been reading any of my prior posts you will know that I am preparing for a move to a new apartment on the first.  I have also filled two storage units with items from the home I lived in about 3 years ago and have “stuff” scattered about two other family homes.  While I’m not exactly a hoarder, I must admit that uhm…. well….

*My Name is Joe and I’m a Packrat…*

Rather than my normal morning ritual of reading the paper over my coffee I began going through old CD’s and DVD’s that I have kept for the better part of 18 years.  Old backups, outdated software, just stacks and stacks of plain “old”.  Boxes filled with cd books stuffed fat, thousands!!

It took about an hour and a half before I decided anything labeled “backup June 2002” needed to just be dumped.  I haven’t had access to these CD’s in 3 years, and god only knows the last time I’ve pulled anything from them if ever.  So what was going to be a several day project quickly turned into another hour and I was done.  I pared two file boxes worth of CD/DVD books to one single book.  Yes from thousands to less than a hundred.

Being one with severe ADHD I’ve had a million hobbies over the long haul and the amount of stuff I have been dragging around since I achieved self consciousness as a child reflects that.

Oddly enough, I found the entire process rather enjoyable!  I feel a bit more free right now, dumping old files from a company long gone and a career I’m hoping to never return to felt like removing a pair of handcuffs.  In fact, dumping a lot of the things I’ve made decisions on yesterday and this morning has made me feel just a little bit lighter.

Why is it that we tend to hold on to some things that serve no utility and often really have no emotional value either?  Being one with severe ADHD I’ve had a million hobbies over the long haul and the amount of stuff I have been dragging around since I achieved self consciousness as a child reflects that.  Do I really need that electric motor from the remote control car I had when I was 12, or that sucker in the shape of a bear that someone gave me when I was 16?  Hah, not so much no.

Granted there are a few trinkets with great emotional value, and I plan on assembling a few “memory” boxes.  I see no need for a 5X10 “memory” storage unit anymore though!!  So today it is onward, hoping to do at least one more load of boxes though I don’t think I’m going to go as hard as I did yesterday.  I’ve got to help a friend figure out some technical things in preparation to a function he has tomorrow and lets face it, I’m in a good mood but holy hell I’m tired!

Keep the candy not the wrapper,

~Joe

Getting it Done and Finding Old Memories

Going through boxes during a move can be interesting.

Sorry for the late post today, I’ve been quite busy here going through boxes and boxes and yes… more boxes of stuff in preparation for my new apartment on the first. I did have my mother who is still in town helping which made things go a lot faster but there were some highs and lows when opening certain boxes. We got a late start, leaving to get our first load from the storage unit just a bit after noon. We did manage to do two loads in total with each one lining the garage in three rows and two rows respectively.   Working through till around 8 PM we finally finished sorting and re-packing not just both loads but a good bulk of kitchen items that I already had here.

What I find interesting is how my attitude constantly changed, I will fully admit to being a complete moody prick today. I can make up plenty of excuses for my changing attitude, from getting organized only to have mom move a box on me trying to help to not getting much sleep but those are just surface avoidance tactics. Excuses are a waste of effort for me anymore, I try not to make them and still end up doing it anyways out of habit and sometimes shame or guilt. Sucks to step out of myself and watch “me” sometimes, I don’t always like myself.

I turned into a rubber ball bouncing from highs and lows with so much as a glance at a random nick knack changing my course.

The reality is, opening each box was a moment of holding my breath. Not knowing what I would find and what memories would spark was the worst, harder than dealing with the memories most times. I came across a good number of things that fired up old emotions good and bad and with the added anxiety of the unknown.  I turned into a rubber ball bouncing from highs and lows with so much as a glance at a random nick knack changing my course. Wow, I’m absolutely exhausted mentally this evening!

All in, it was still a successful day, we went through about 30 boxes / tubs and a few tackle boxes that I use to organize random items. I’m quite pleased, I managed to thin out a lot of items to give away, garbage, or sell piles emptying a total of 14 boxes a rolling bin, a small tackle box, and a medium tackle box. These empties will come in handy for my next few runs between now and the first and I should have a smooth move overall.

I’m okay with that, I’m comfortable and safe here right now and those are good things to be.

Depending on the job situation I may end up having to stay here a few extra days before I can get my key and move my bed in.  I’m okay with that, I’m comfortable and safe here right now and those are good things to be. Besides, staying a day or two will give me the opportunity to help my grandparents settle in.

Tomorrow I think we will try another load if there is time, as well as get the donate pile dropped off and god, laundry, and everything else. Mom leaves Tuesday so we’re trying to capitalize on as much time as we can. We also plan to meet my love for lunch tomorrow and I am wholly looking forward to spending some time albeit short with her.

*Treasure*

I’ve kept every card my wife has ever given me, and found the box that I kept them in when we lived together, this made me smile and honestly tear up a little. I came across my father’s paperwork that he left behind, his arborist certification, etc. this was slightly stressful as he died from alcoholism while I was in my first rehab. I came across many photo books, one of my beloved Akita who passed several years ago; her ashes sit in a small urn underneath a beautiful tile made in her likeness in the back corner of this yard that I will soon see sold (I will be taking urn and tile with me). There were many emotional treasures I found, along with a penny and a Starbucks gift card with $35 on it!!!

I suppose over time these emotions will stabilize, I cannot honestly say I am enjoying feeling so much but I cannot say that I am hating it either. Life is odd sometimes, I can only hope to keep myself from being so moody in the future and work to become a better person that provides hope, support, and love to those around me most notably my love K. and my family.

Feel your emotions but don’t let them control you,

~Joe

 

Picking Myself Up

My Hectic Life and Not Giving Up

These past few weeks have been full of a lot of ups and downs, sadly there have been a lot more downs.  My job search keeps coming up with frustrating results and of course most of the aspects of my personal life have been less than desirable.   So I’ve been on this crazy emotional rollercoaster lately and it’s sure to have a few loops in the coming weeks with all that is going on.

So what to do this morning to set the right mind set?  I started with a cup of coffee and my paper as is my routine.  On the job front I took some time to set a goal of 10 applications submitted today and sat down with an intense focus.  I ended up hitting the mark of 18 with medium effort, coffee in hand and typing skills at my finest.

I did not pick and choose this time, and of course for every application I put in I know I am just one of many.  I am still hopeful of course, as I know I have a good skill set that can be put to good use should someone decide to give me a shot.  Career changing makes finding a job difficult, I could probably drop back into tech with so much as a few phone calls.

So today I am going to focus on making my living space a little cleaner, putter around the house while I seriously consider making those phone calls.  It’s a thin edge that I need to stay on the right side of to ensure my sobriety which is most important overall.  I’m still optimistic and plan to stay that way.  Sometimes it truly is hard to stay positive however I can pull this off today.

Drive on,

~Joe

Letting Go in a Positive Way

There is a difference between memories and physical objects

I love my grandparent’s home, I grew up here I have memories here. My grandfather built me a clubhouse in back, I used to climb a plumb tree and pick gooseberries and raspberries to eat on the spot. I remember my grandmother used to pick me fresh strawberries from the garden when I would stay the night and I would sit and dip them in a bowl of sugar to eat in the evenings before bedtime. I used to use the crawlspace under the stairs as a clubhouse, in fact “no girls allowed” is still scrawled on the little wooden doors. I remember watching Sesame Street on the color TV, one of those giant cabinet deals that must have weighed a thousand pounds!

I know this neighborhood, I listen to Revelry in the morning and taps in the evening from the nearby army base. I can hear the coal trains on distant tracks, I love this home. My grandfather always wanted a champion yard, it’s one of the best in the neighborhood and has been as long as I can remember. When I was in my late teens I moved in to get a jump start on a new life and tonight I sleep in the same room and the same bed as I did then.

Now word is they signed a year lease on a place in Arizona where they have been wintering the last two years. I think it is best for them, much better for their health as well as mobility as it’s a somewhat assisted living place. So, it’s inevitable the house here will go up for sale sometime in the future. I know they are stressed about telling me even though I already know as they are well aware of my attachment to the home. In all reality yes, I will be sad however this is the best thing for my beloved grandparents and I support that above any brick and mortar “thing”.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of “letting go” lately, today we moved all my belongings out of the home I shared with my wife for over a decade. Today was very emotional and between pondering this post and pacing the house aimlessly I’ve been stress cooking. Cooking has been a solid fall back for me to keep my mind off things, currently I am working on a soup for tomorrow with various beans, fresh veggies, and pan seared pork seasoned with turmeric, garlic, rosemary, and a little bit of Portuguese sausage seasoning. Unfortunately, now I am at an impasse waiting for the beans to soften, boil and soak… boil and soak… repeat.

It’s been an emotional week for me, and I need to remember to keep a positive mindset. My mother is in town and we have done well at mutual support. I also have an excellent support system in place by way of my online community at HipChat, everyone there has been nothing short of a god send for my sanity and most importantly my sobriety. So today I am going to re-frame, my life is in a reconstruction phase (go figure the title of this blog) and I have some flexibility in how I move myself forward. I can focus on the positive and create a better me and that is what I choose to do today.

The house going up for sale? I’ll probably get furniture and *hopefully* kitchen stuff for my new apartment. My grandparents moving out of state permanently? I can always visit, and I know they will have help when they need it from the place they are moving to. Moving all my things? Well, I need to go through them it’s an opportunity to clear out all the junk I’ve been dragging around. I will soon have a place where I can sit and not be bothered, a place of my own again. And it’s dog friendly so when things stable out I foresee a pooches in my near future!

I’m off to find something to cook,

~Joe

Life does get better if you work!

Exciting past 24 hours!

So as I type this I am chomping on a particularly darn good egg sandwich (I love my toaster with the egg poacher sidecar) and waiting for another exciting moment.

Let me rewind, in my last post I mentioned that I was looking forward to obtaining a new apartment as well as hopefully a new career in woodworking.  Later yesterday I received word…. the apartment went through!!!  Come the first I will have my own little space in the world for the first time in a long time, I almost couldn’t sleep I was so excited!  While it was slightly difficult to wait patiently to find out though I made it through.

I’m not going to say wish me luck, I’m going to say wish me positivity!

So fast forward this morning, I set my alarm for 6:30 and popped  out of bed at 5:00 with sheer excitement.  In less than an hour I will take to the road on my way to interview for this woodworking position.  I am currently well dressed wearing one of my best shirts and my Italian silk vest and I’m absolutely pumped.  I have a sneaking suspicion that if I maintain a positive attitude this morning I can clinch this thing.

I’m not going to say wish me luck, I’m going to say wish me positivity!  If there is anything that is going to get me this position it’s going to be a positive attitude, confidence, and honesty during my interview.  Very little “just happens” we have to be the catalyst and make things happen.  I will update you on how it goes later.

Be the catalyst to change for the better,

~Joe

When life gives you lemons, take em free stuff is always cool!

Staying positive on a semi bad day

This morning was a mix of lemons and sugar I must say, I currently have two big things in life I am trying to accomplish:

The first is that of a career change, finding a job is tough nowadays especially when changing careers. I’ve spent the last 21 years in the tech industry which on my resume reads to other industry HR as “He won’t stick around long as he’s overqualified”. Holy hell I’m sick of being considered overqualified for different industries just because I’m highly qualified in a separate area. On a separate note, just dealing with small business owners schedules puts me in a waiting game and I hate uncertainty.

Today I was supposed to have an interview with a local wood shop which I have been incredibly excited for. Woodworking has always been one of my favorite hobbies, my grandfather and great grandfather were both master carpenters I collect hand tools I absolutely love it. This morning I got a call to reschedule the interview as the owner had to do an emergency delivery today.

I really want this job!

On a positive note the call went very well and I was able to express my ability to “roll with the punches” to the owner of a small family run business that requires everyone involved to be flexible. So, the lemon is that I need to wait, the sugar is that I had the chance to exhibit my flexibility. I really want this job!

The second is that I am looking for a place to live, I don’t require much just a little space of my own that is affordable. I’ve found a little apartment in a 4 plex on the lower west side of town which is run down but quiet and very nice with trails and convenient access to the rest of the city. Nice and central which for me is a big plus. I’ve been waiting on the property management company who seems to be lagging.

The downside is waiting once again last night I put in my application so that they can run my background check. I’m not concerned about the check so much as aside from an auto accident recently I haven’t had any trouble with the law. In fact, I used to hold a clearance, it’s just the waiting game that is driving me insane. The good news is that just a few hours ago they contacted me for a copy of my driver’s license which tells me something is going on.

So today has been a mixed bag, I’m still hopeful and continuing to look for other open positions to apply for as well as other places to live. Life doesn’t stand still because someone else is dragging feet. I’m not going to let it bother me today and I am not going to let it cause me to drink today. In fact, I am working on firing off my resume to other places and peeking at rentals all around town. I’m going to spend the next few hours doing this and then I plan to spend some time with another passion of mine. I am going to spend some time in the kitchen cooking something, no idea what yet but it’ll come to me!

Life is tough sometimes but we can always learn from our mistakes and there is often always an alternative option or activity to cope. Someone once told me “When life gives you lemons, take them free stuff is always cool” hence the title of this article. Today I’ve got a lot of free stuff, I’m going to take it and see what I can do with it.

Pucker up folks,

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