Anxiety Attack!

I think if I had a guard dog I would name him “Anxiety” and I would teach him the simple command “attack”.  Just seems fitting for me this evening.  Work is busy with my schedule taking me through the weekend and all next week which is nice and honestly right now I don’t really have any reason for anxiety but yet it’s still there below the surface.  Not incredibly heavy and lighter than some of the moments I’ve had in the past few months.

It seems when I try to sleep like a normal person I just toss and turn, eventually only falling asleep by way of extreme exhaustion.  I’ve tried exercise, walking, even push up’s, I do find spending some time in my inversion table allows me a cat nap here and there.  At least I can say I’m eating well, and I’m doing good with my no smoking goal.  I have my relaxing morning paper to read and the kitchen is spotless seeing as how I find myself cleaning when I cant sleep.

I basically feel so unproductive at times like this and it’s getting old.  Eventually somethings got to give, writing on this blog as well as reading others does help and I find myself  more calm overall so I think things are getting better.  I just never was good at that whole patience thing.

~J

Wow I actually did it! Well some of it.

I told myself I was going to take it easy this weekend I needed to for my health and sanity.  This move and everything else going on has me wound tight I’m tired and everything hurts and yet I’m wound.

I suppose I would not be fair to myself to call it a fail, I’ll just say “redirected goal setting”.

Yesterday I didn’t fare well on the take it easy goal but I’m happy with what I accomplished.  I suppose I would not be fair to myself to call it a fail, I’ll just say “redirected goal setting”.  After all I accomplished a lot just not my original intended goal!

Today I still started out on Much the same way, moving this and that and running back and forth from storage.  Then, and don’t laugh I spent 3 hours sanding a small plank of wood by hand!  This was my me time I was absolutely in heaven!

I sanded it tediously with a block to hold my sandpaper all the way up to 1000 grit!  14 different cycles and I was happy! In my own little world giving “life” to this project.  I probably would have gone even farther except the rain came.

Okay, I’ve got boxes to go through anyway.  What I found funny is I rushed around to find the softest towel I could find so I could lean the piece against the wall.  Not for fear of damaging the wall but for fear of damaging the piece!  Then back to move mode.

I was in auto pilot, not void of thought but void of introspection.

As I sit here over dinner I keep thinking about the day and how my overall mood changed at each step.  Going through boxes of my past there’s a lot of steps hence a lot of mood swings.  For the greater part of the day I was in auto pilot, not void of thought but void of introspection.

When I started sanding the wood I figured I would just start and let the project take a few weeks.  Honestly I have no idea what I’m going to make it into a bench?? A nightstand?? The fact is I was so focused I felt the rest of the world didn’t exist.  It didn’t need to.

I had my place, I was comfortable truly comfortable.  I talked to the wood, gently feeling for any imperfections as I worked.  Wow reading that last bit to myself it sounds a bit uhm sick.  I was focused and yes, there were some imperfections that I could not fix. Strangely I accepted incapability rather than considering it failure.

For anyone interested lol the plank is a slab of “beetle kill” pine, the dark stripe up the outer edges are caused by a fungus that the beetles carry but yes the featured pic is my buddy!

When life gets rough like sandpaper let it make you smooth!

~Joe 

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)

We Didn’t Really Sluff Off, Oh Noes!

A Saturday Sluffing Off Part Two

Well, we didn’t really manage to meet our goal of “sluffing off” today. Today we planted an entire planter box all the while with me zapping paper wasps out of the sky with my trusty can of flying insect spray (cover fire). We managed to get the job1-IMG_6393 done and done fairly well in my opinion, even though it was quite a bit of work churning the soil around and moving this and that around.

Then of course we got to the flower pots…. Originally, we were looking at doing about 3 which turned into 8!! And another trip for more flowers as well as some wasp traps which I set and hung. Aaaaand some general cleanup of the houseplants…. Aaaaaand a few other cleanups here and there, hose hookups…. Yaaaadaaa yaaaadaaa yaaaadaaa.

Hah, and it’s not even 4:30! I’m going to start my rice for stir fry soon but I figured I would share some photo’s I took just a few moments ago 1-IMG_6371for no other reason than I could and I was losing my light.

Go big or well, don’t!

~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

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:

alcoholiccycle

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.

IMG_6364

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

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

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