A Good Idea

A Glimmer of Enjoyment from My Morning Paper

Yesterday started with a whimper, I had no motivation but a million things to do. I was able to force myself to start going through things and doing the tasks I had planned but it was not easy. Over time I did manage to build up steam and as my attitude changed for the better I became more productive. I managed to get more done than I expected yesterday morning but still less than I wanted to, but that’s okay too.

This is not the subject I want to write about today though! Yesterday morning my mother noticed a review in my beloved morning paper for a play called “Sylvia” at a theatre that I had never heard of. The play is about a married couple who fight over a dog that the husband took in as a stray. Apparently, Thursday nights are discounted so we decided to fork over the big whopping $11.00 per person and take a break from life.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a play, in fact over 15 years! I dated a gal that was an actress for a few small plays and I would go and watch her. In any case the review stated to show up early so you can get front row seats and “see all the action on the floor”. We left early and showed up a half hour before the show started accidentally securing the first spot in line. The venue was incredibly tiny!!! Cool as all hell though, they had a string of doors connected together separating the entrance way from the seating and stage area and a tiny booth for the box office. Lots of local art, very uhm…. Modest.

What we saw last night at Funky Little Theatre Co. far exceeded our expectations!!! I commented to my mother after just the first 5 minutes that we already got our $11 worth!! The entire play was amazing, incredibly hilarious and incredibly touching at the same time. I was in tears several times from laughter and twice during sad parts. Turns out the director had to put his dog to sleep just last weekend so the program had a picture of his dog and a dedication. I am glad we made the spontaneous decision to see this play.

To add to the awesomeness they were taking donations, as well as selling raffle tickets to support a dog rescue group All Breed Rescue & Training and $1 from each ticket sold was also donated!!! What a great newspaper find!

In fact, not only was this a good idea, it turned into a great idea! I managed to get a card from the young man that produced the show, Chris Medina and decided that my experience was positive enough to ask him permission to mention him and the Funky Little Theatre Co. in this blog. You can count on it I will be going by there as often as I can to catch other shows in this wonderfully small 40 seat venue!

So, if you are ever in Colorado Springs, Colorado, check them out, you can hit the site at http://www.funkylittletheatre.org or give them a call at 310.909.3694 to see what’s going on!

Woof,

~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

Time to Turn On

Let’s put that positive attitude to work!

This morning in just less than an hour I have a second interview for a marketing company. I cannot say that I am particularly excited about the position, however I need the income and its comfortable territory given my entrepreneurial background. Business development is paramount to any company’s success regardless of market and of course that is what I will be doing should I get / accept the position.

This position will require me to talk to people, a lot of people! A skill that I developed over time and would like to think I am rather good at on most days. It is going to require me to maintain a positive outlook and attitude regardless of what is going on “behind the curtain”. The pay scale is, eh…. O.K. a long shot from what I was making as a network engineer. I cannot go back to that career for my own health though, and I will have opportunity for commission which could balance the scale.

It will come, it has to.

So, I sit here sipping my coffee and pondering the need for some dress shoes as I stare at my brown Merrell hiking shoes. Waiting for time to pass before I leave early to arrive early (it’s one of my good habits). With all that is going on I definitely need a job, I’m at the point where any job will do. In all earnest, I am having a difficult time finding a positive attitude this morning. It will come, it has to.

I’ve got less than an hour to find that golden egg, and so I will. Perhaps I might actually like this position? I do enjoy remaining active which is part of this position as I will be doing events and such. The stress reduction in having a stable income as well is a huge plus. Not to mention having something productive to do on a consistent basis. This might not be such a bad day after all!

Trudge on with a smile,

~Joe

Emotion, Attitude Translated

attitude-emotion-state-modificationemotion-attitude-matrix-1How a good attitude can modify emotional inputs

Recently I have been attempting to maintain as positive of an attitude as I can regardless of emotional state. To preface this I must admit that my life currently is in a state of extreme change and emotions have had a tendency towards the lesser desired. To accomplish this I have set goals to write and perform positive tasks throughout each day as a sort of self-experiment to see how it might affect the outcome of my actions and overall sense of being. This article is a part of the experiment attempting to detail the definitions of attitude and explore the interaction between attitude and overall mental state.

I must disclose that I have no psychology experience (other than that of a patient) and anything in this article should be taken only as my experiences documented as I see them. In a way, as a recovering alcoholic this article is also an attempt to maintain honesty with myself as it relates to my emotions, my attitude, and my actions through this experiment.

Digging in I feel it imperative to define what I believe emotion, attitude, and mental state are. Without correlating definition this article has no direct context and will inevitably be misread.

Emotion: For context I am defining emotion as any raw overall and direct feeling over a mid to long term meaning more than just minutes. These feelings typically last several hours or days to several months or even years. By direct I mean that these feelings are singular in nature and not a varietal combination of feelings.

Attitude: Again for context, I am defining attitude as a more immediate sense of how things are going or are going to go within the short term. Attitude is much more dynamic in nature and can change quickly. Typically, an attitude is held for hours and sometimes days or months with practice.

Overall Mentality: I would define overall mentality as the immediate sense of being or the absolute of how one is feeling overall. Overall mentality directs how we interact with the world around us and think as it relates to “right now”.

So now that we have our definitions let me begin with my overall thought process in how these interact, we will dig a bit deeper later. Again, as this is a self-experiment I will be using myself as an example for context.

The past few months I have bounced between two primary emotions: fear and sadness. More recently I have started this idea of maintaining a new attitude: positive. This is to say that I can be sad and positive at the same time. Originally. I would frame my mental state to be either one or the other however, through this self-experimentation I am finding out that they are indeed two separate items that maintain an interchangeable relationship.

I have found that emotion itself is merely an underlying constant and attitude is more of a current modifier that acts as a catalyst to create overall who I am at any given moment. Over the course of the last few weeks my attempts to maintain a positive attitude has directly affected the outcome of multiple aspects of my life:

  • Despite numerous setbacks I have persisted in my forward progress
  • I have been much more approachable
  • My overall routine has become more enjoyable
  • I have been able to maintain solid productivity
  • Etc.

I find myself examining this dynamic and piecing together a somewhat “aha” moment as it relates to my propensity to sometimes fall into periods of depression or anxiety. If I examine periods of say, depression and work backwards treating the depression as my overall mental state things get even more interesting. Working backwards, I can see that during my most recent fit of depression I had a pessimistic attitude combined with emotions of either sadness, fear, or guilt.

In the middle of the spectrum I have had times where even with a happy emotional state moments of negative emotions change the dynamics resulting in a less than desirable emotional state. What I find more interesting about this is how quickly an attitude can change due to external influences.

I can describe the times when I find myself moody by this effect. I may have the same emotions however my attitude will bounce up and down like a rubber ball. Others then describe the outward appearance of my emotional state as “moody”. Examining this personal trait illustrates how something so simple as maintaining a singular attitude can have a profound effect on day to day life.

So, I begin to ask myself a whole new question entirely, how can I maintain a consistent attitude towards the positive regardless of external influence? If I insulate myself entirely from external influence I cut myself off from possible inspiration. Opening the flood gates to let everything in allows for poor circumstances to directly change my mental state.

The goal here would be to establish some sort of effective filter allowing external influences that reinforce my target attitude, while denying other unnecessary influences. This water gets muddied when I examine how external influences and growth of intelligence are directly tied together. As part of human nature; we often associate our own opinions to be factual (or at least semi factual), when those opinions are challenged there exists opportunity for intellectual and emotional growth.

By filtering out any challenging thought, we tie ourselves to perceptions that may be one sided or inherently wrong. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something that drives me nuts when counselors say it to me: “What does that look like?”. If we were to erect such a filter how many layers are we building around ourselves simply to maintain an attitude?

Consider for a moment the option of “practicing” a positive attitude. If I make the conscious effort to relate maintaining a desirable attitude during an assault of undesired external influences with perhaps military boot camp; it now becomes a training exercise. With this idea in mind I can reduce the smothering nature of so many layers of filter and allow for open dialogue to change views or increase intelligence.

This is not to say that I will not be filtering at all, there are many instances of extremes both to the minus and the plus that should be avoided. Becoming overzealous and overly optimistic can often be just as damaging as having a “woe is me” vision. As far as the intensity of the need for a negativity filter, simply spend 5 minutes looking at the news and the reasoning should be directly apparent.

To avoid beating a dead horse I will close this article at this point and attempt to illustrate attitude training in a future article. As always comments and suggestions are welcomed and this article as well as its accompanying diagrams will be available for download via pdf.

~Joe

Promoted Before I Have the Job?

I guess stranger things have happened, crossing fingers!

I need a job, any job regardless of my technical background.  Not only do I need the income but I also need something to do I don’t like to sit, I need to be doing!  Last Thursday I applied for a customer service position with a local company, lo and behold human resources for this company called me Friday morning with an interesting twist.

 I don’t even have the job yet?!

The call came in while we were shopping which made it slightly awkward but I can roll with the punches.  Let me find an empty flat space here and whip out my trusty notebook and pen.  I always carry a notebook and pen, this is one of the reasons why!  Anyhow time for the twist, I effectively got promoted for a job I don’t even have yet!  The woman stated “I know you applied for customer service but based on your resume I would like to bring you in to interview for Business Development Manager”.

Wait, what??  Okay, I’m game lets do this!  We had about a 15 minute conversation during which time another shopper asked me if I worked at the place we were shopping at.  I get that a lot, maybe it’s the fact that I like to dress nice?  In any case she mentioned that they needed to fill the position fast and we set up an interview for Monday morning (today coincidentally).

So off to the races, another interview.  I must say shot gunning applications and doing constant interviews with either no word back or “your overqualified” is getting extremely old.  Something has to give, maybe this one will be it?  I can not exactly say I am excited about marketing and business development but having done the entrepreneur thing it’s not exactly uncharted territory for me.  And let’s face it, despite the fact that I hate people I will approach and talk to anyone.

So, wish me luck!  I’m going into this with a positive mindset and the idea that I can do whatever they need without much struggle.  Effort yes, struggle no!

Attitude wanted, inquire within,

~Joe

Happy Easter! A Day for Rebirth.

If you do not celebrate Easter, I guess happy Sunday. I’m no longer exactly religious but I do consider myself spiritual.  The ideals surrounding Easter itself have always been interesting to me.

It’s interesting to think that Easter is about the “Resurrection”, in spiritual terms “rebirth”,”regrowth”, “new life”. Much like the Phoenix rising, there are many stories and spiritual mentalities based around the theories of destruction and reconstruction.

Looking at this time in my life I myself am experiencing my own sort of reconstruction phase. My destruction can simply be explained as self-destruction via alcoholism. I could probably write books delving into the why’s and how’s pertaining to burying my old self however, this is a positivity blog. I instead will focus on my reconstruction and forward progress into what I hopefully believe is going to be a better life overall.

So, as I sit here in quiet meditation thinking (and writing) about my current reconstruction I begin to mull over the list of major changes that I have been making over just the last few weeks and will be working on over the next few weeks. It may seem short sighted at first, but I believe I cannot fully move forward long term unless I take a serious look at the short term. So, short term this is what’s been happening:

  • Currently attempting new career tracks that prioritize passions over pay
  • Focusing more heavily on my peers and friends within the sober community to be a source of positivity, both for myself and others
  • Obtaining a new place to live as that I may establish a space of my own
  • Owning up to some of the past characteristics so that I may move forward unabated
  • Maintaining a stricter routine so that I can plan and prepare more effectively
  • Trying to focus more on positive mental attitude regardless of how I feel emotionally
  • Ahh yes, staying SOBER

What can set me apart during this phase of my life is how I maintain my positive attitude and forward momentum.

Some of these are not small tasks, some are quite simple. At the core of reconstruction, the largest requirement is that I put in my best effort. I am certain to stumble now and then and run into hurdles but this is an unavoidable constant for any living being and in this way, I am not so special. What can set me apart during this phase of my life is how I maintain my positive attitude and forward momentum.

And thus, while I do not consider myself a devout Christian or Catholic I cannot deny the power of resurrection. I am not of the caliber that is spoken of in religious texts of course however, I can see on a macro scale the energy and enlightenment involved in the re-creation of one’s self. This gives me an interesting topic to meditate on throughout this day.

Regardless of religious affinity, I urge everyone reading this to take some time and meditate on the ideas of rebirth and the fortitude that we all posses.

~Joe

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

 

A Saturday sluffing off!

Why you should take time to *plant?* the roses!

It’s the Saturday before Easter Sunday and getting anything done outside of the home will most likely be a chore for some (depending on area of course).  Here, we have decided to start planting some things in several large garden boxes that were built last year.  The boxes were originally built for my Aunt to grow whatever she desired, and then of course later she decided to go to Saudi for contract work.  Of course we’re early in the season as well so are we jumping the gun?

No, I don’t think so… Lets look at the situation really the planters are set up on the automating watering system so barring weeding there really isn’t much maintenance to be done should we select the right plants.  And naturally if we select things that can be planted early season or rather “cold varietals” we should be good to go.

So these planters happen to be in my grandfathers backyard, granted I will be moving within just a couple of weeks but I will still be within a half hour of the place and of course, my grandparents arrive on the same day I receive the key for my new place.  If we make sure our selection doesn’t require a lot of maintenance it should provide a little bit more of a reward than it will a requirement for work.

I’m a huge fan of cooking; as such I love my herbs and vegetables, while it is too early for most herbs there are a lot of cold variety vegetables that we can drop into the soil with very little effort.  Also our season this year has been uncommonly warmer than usual.  I bet we get good results with the following:

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Radish

So off to the shop for some seeds, most of these seed packets are less than $2.00 so worst case scenario we’re out a little bit of money and time.  Well, today my goal is to keep my hands and mind busy so I don’t dwell on things so really I don’t think I would say I’ll be out time.

 Am I happy today?  No, not really.  Am I positive today?  Absolutely.

Of course my mother picked up some flowers to plant in the pots outside for my grandparents return so we will be playing with those as well, should make for a good distracting day.  Am I happy today?  No, not really.  Am I positive today?  Absolutely.

I think it’s something to remember, just because life isn’t perfect and you may not be happy it does not mean that you are negative.  I believe attitude and emotion are separate things entirely, both combined make up overall how one is “feeling”.  I can be incredibly unhappy and still be positive about the future.  I can be incredibly depressed and still be surrounded by support and hope.  I might explore this dynamic a bit more in the future.

Right now it’s time to prep for planting.  Remember Fraggle Rock?  The Doozers farmed radishes to make beams so they could build structures?  Some will some wont.  I’m hoping to provide some resources for the Doozers this year.

Time to distract myself in a positive way,

~J

Fast Friday 

I can honestly say that I have an amazingly supportive family.  My mother came in from California last night to help with my transition!

Needless to say we defied our own expectations today!

I had already prepared an amazing ham and bean soup so once she hit Denver I pulled it out of the fridge and plopped the pot on the stove.  We sat and had soup followed by cake that I had baked earlier in the week thinking “we’ll get a little done tomorrow”.  Needless to say we defied our own expectations today!

I have a morning routine: up at 5:30, start coffee, get paper, bathroom, drink coffee read a bit of paper, then start breakfast.  She grabbed her first cup while I was apparently in the bathroom and went back downstairs.  By the time she came back up I was reading while eating 3 breakfast burritos she apparently thought of going out for breakfast.  I eat a lot so okay lol.

Anyhow I’ll spare you more boring morning details.  Today we managed breakfast, picking up all the household supplies I will need along with bedding, dishes, silverware, glassware, a vacuum, mop, broom, condiments, and a few other things.

Then off to show mom the apartment, since I’m taking over a lease the current tenant was more than happy to oblige.  Lunch, then get storage unit just down the street for transition.  

More cake!

Back home, price truck and moving labor. More cake!  And now I start a load of laundry before I plan my next cooking idea.

It’s not even 5 PM yet!  And while we’re both a touch tired it’s not bad! And I still have cake.

Drive on,

~Joe