Wok on Water

I’m thinking today I’ll put in for something very different…

Several years ago I had this idea, my mom lives on the channels in Oxnard, California where many of the homes have private docks at the rear of the homes.  I love to cook (I absolutely LOVE to cook) and many of my dishes are Pan-Asian inspired.  Out there the popular thing is to have an electric boat they typically call  “cocktail boats” and just putter around the channels watching the seals and generally hanging out.

So I thought to myself why not modify a little boat Bladerunner style (favorite movie ever btw) and cruise around cooking and slinging stir fry?  I named this dream boat of mine “Wok on Water” and, while somewhat of a pipe dream it’s always good to dream.  I’ve been battling a touch of anxiety lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe I don’t dream enough.  Stewing in all that can go wrong or all that is wrong often yields piss poor results for someone like me as I do just that, I stew.

I dream now and then of a food truck or a career where I can just cook so I think perhaps maybe it’s time for me to rethink and just go find me an entry level kitchen job and follow a passion.  What’s the worst that can happen?  People might say no, I might end up in a dish pit for a while, maybe I’ll get lucky and find a prep job.

It’s on

~J

The Miracle (and Curse) of Modern Technology

Poking around today looking for the next career I found myself getting incredibly frustrated.  It seems more and more every application is done online and many of them have accompanying “personality” tests.  Whatever happened to a handshake and an application directly to an employer.  How does one prove his or herself to a prospective company without the capacity for face time?

While it’s somewhat of a boon that we can fire off resume’s and applications like a scattergun from the comfort of our living rooms, there’s just no more heart in it.  I find it quite sad that through technology many of us have lost the personal touch.  People lock themselves indoors on computers or sit at the dinner table with a face buried in a phone.  No longer do we make conversation or value community connection and while we seem to possess more communications capabilities than ever before in history we rarely actually communicate.

Just  some thoughts to ponder today and maybe reflect on how we can improve our communities simply through paying just a little more attention to those around us.

~J

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

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

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

A Real Bummer

Down but not out

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

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

 I can never go back to my old ways and survive

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

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

That which is well seasoned is bound to be good,

~Joe

An Honest Discussion About ADHD and Self-Medication

A Little Story With a Big Boogeyman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take it out of park,

~Joe

When Life Gives You Lemons, Take Them!

Free Stuff is Always Cool!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Pucker up and stay zesty,

~Joe

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

Dust Yourself Off and Go For

Where do you see yourself in five years?

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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