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

Pulling Myself Out Of The Brink

Depression and wasted time go hand in hand, I’ve lost a week and all without taking a drink.

So over the last week a lot has changed, inside and out.  Just the last two days I’ve found myself struggling to force myself to do things, to get up and be a human.  Last Wednesday I went to take an early afternoon nap and found myself living in my bed for days.  I did not sleep much as I still have issues sleeping but I did not move.  I moved just enough to use the restroom and eat now and then.  All I did was lie in bed and consider how much I hated myself.

This obviously was not good, I could blame the overcast clouds or weather but honestly it was my own failure that wasted a week.  I had things that I committed to that I failed to do, this ended up pushing me into a spiral hating myself for hating myself and failing.  Examining this is difficult this evening but I need to avoid going through the same thing again.  The bad news is that it happened, the good news is that through all of it I did not drink!  I locked myself in my apartment and lived in my bed for a week, not good either way.

So yesterday morning I had enough, perhaps its because I had a full nights rest for the first time in months or maybe I was just done.  I went to meet a friend of a friend for work and got a line on a hardwood installation job (I used to install gymnasium flooring) and I am today still patiently awaiting the business owner to return from the rodeo he performed at over the holiday weekend so I can nail some flooring!  I planted seeds, some veggies for our complex out in the yard.  I shredded potatoes for hash browns, swept, mopped, vacuumed, and cleaned.

Then I got a phone call from a friend, his gym was doing an exhibition for a no kill rescue (I forget the name exactly and am waiting for pics and info but I think it was DMK).  I’ve spent years practicing eskrima and they wanted to know if I could do a quick 5-10 minute routine, I did a performance of a Sinawali “Heaven Six” which are the basic 6 movements in stick fighting.  Then of course I entered the ring and proceeded to get my ass beat by a friend all in the name of getting pooches adopted.

The last time I was in a ring was probably 17 years ago, it was interesting and yes I spent today nursing wounds and sore.  My pooch, a boxer named Charlie was adopted that evening!  In fact there were 8 of us doing the exhibition each sponsoring a pooch and all 8 pooches were adopted as of this evening!!  I’ve gotten used to deleting emails as most of it’s noise but today I got one that just made me smile.  Three days ago I was a bedridden emotional mess, today I can say I’m actually somewhat happy.  I’ll try and post our group photo as soon as I can get my hands on it, 8 roughnecks in sparring gear with 8 poochies of all sorts.  (it was all I could do not to bring the blue heeler home).

Tonight I hope to sleep, and tomorrow morning a phone call to see if I can go nail some flooring.  I miss the activity and the work but to walk into a massive room with a concrete floor one day and 3-4 days later to walk out of the same room with a wood floor is an amazing feeling.  I’ve got a lot of calls to make and apologies to give out but I will live, and hopefully never find myself in the proverbial “pit of despair” again.

Adopt a shelter pet!!

~J

A Day Can Change In A Minute!

Do not discriminate against the downtrodden for often they most understand ill fate…..

I haven’t cracked my laptop in weeks, I’ve enjoyed it and I had no plans to blog at all today or for a few days even.  Then today changed, all within well… a minute or so!  I was returning home via the interstate here and on the off ramp to the road that would take me on my way home turning right when I noticed in the first left turn lane (for some reason lefty’s get two righty’s get one… hrmm) there was some young kid stalled out at the end.  Now this may seem to be just a simple bummer but we’re at the peak of rush hour and man it can get brutal.

Then something wonderful happened that changed my view of life and humanity as I have known it the last few days on it’s ass.  There are a few “regular” vagrants living under this bridge, this underpass if you will.  Well, 7 by my count over the last few weeks all the same all the time panhandling and what not.  ALL 7 of them came rushing out and set up, one flagging and the other 6 preparing to push as the light turned green.  The car in the far left lane knowingly hit his hazards so that they could cut in front of him to get to the gas station just a block away.

Not thinking, I cut over and wedged myself in front of the BMW that was trying to cut around, and shielding the car pushers as they managed to get the poor young kid up the street and to the gas station.  The only person not cheering during rush hour when everyone is trying to get home on a Tuesday evening…. the BMW driver who was instead cursing me.  I shrugged, continued to follow the car pushers and turned around to go back home.

often the greatest of humanity lies in those that have suffered

I sacrificed a block, those on the off ramp sacrificed 15 minutes.  The so called “downtrodden vagrants” sacrificed sweat, energy, and a compassion that made my day.  Everyone hooting and hollering and giving thumbs up, it reminded me that yes there is humanity out there.  It reminded me that often the greatest of humanity lies in those that have suffered.  I know several people who have rebuilt and done great things, truth be told that’s where I am at this point in my life.  To see the “lowlife” come quickly to aid while one that is more apt to help attempt to skirt the entire issue putting others lives at risk was polarizing in my mind.

I promised myself if I ever happen into a bit of good luck and enough spare change and the same “Compassionate Seven” are still there, I will march my lucky ass right on up the street and buy each one of them dinner!  What is interesting to think of and what is on my thoughts right now is that events like this happen every day, probably every minute across the globe.  I cant help but realize how blessed I am at this point in my life.

This gives me a great appreciation for experience, a great hope for humanity and assistance, and a great reason to be a better person tomorrow.

So Mr. BMW, you will be forgotten probably by the time I publish this.  To the “Compassionate Seven” I can only hope that my memory of your selflessness lives on throughout my life and actions and may you have touched the lives of all those others cheering out their windows at you as you assisted someone more fortunate.  I spent almost an hour coming up with the top quote for this article but I cannot take credit for it inexplicably belongs to you.

Be a better person regardless of where you are in life, people are changed by the strangest of things!

~J

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

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

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

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!

Cleaning House

Realizing How Much Baggage I Carry

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Sometimes it’s good to take out the trash!

Like most people during a transitional period I have been recently going through my possessions, boxes and tubs of things I have pack ratted away over a period of time. Granted not all of my stuff is with me and is stored at another location and I must wait to go through that, I am still able to go through what I do have with me. I started this process on a whim as something to pass the days as I wait to hear back from potential employers and it’s becoming an incredible experience thus far.

I’ve always had two habits when it comes to “stuff”:

  1. I collect it
  2. I randomly jam it in tubs and boxes and forget about it

 

 

Sometimes I’ll need something and start going through tub after tub looking for what I needed (often never finding it) and pulling out other trinkets and baubles along the way to mess with “later”. This cycle results in things lying around in stacks until eventually I shift it to…. You guessed it another tub, hah!!! Going through every so often and actually discarding items that I do not, and will not ever need is one thing. Going through and realizing that the cost of keeping something around that I may need sometime in the distant future is a whole new ballgame altogether!

our emotional well-being is often impacted negatively by clutter, disorganization, confusion, and the sense of being overwhelmed when trying to clean up

I suppose I should explain what I am intending to relay when I mention the word cost; from my experience in various warehouse and business settings I have come to learn that inventory has costs that are not directly tied to the purchase price of an item. These costs are the time to move items from one shelf to another, the time spent finding an item, and of course the cost of space where the item resides. Add to those an emotional cost that is often connected to the negative aspects of clutter and disorganization as it relates to personal possessions. Quite simply, our emotional well-being is often impacted negatively by clutter, disorganization, confusion, and the sense of being overwhelmed when trying to clean up.

Initially I had no idea where to start, the first tub had me pulling things out willy-nilly thinking “wow I forgot about this!!” and slipping into my cycle of pulling things out only to create more clutter and disorganization. Eventually I started looking at the items I had spread out over the floor; I stood up and grabbed a trash bag. Quietly and thoughtfully taking each item and focusing my thoughts on the cost of each item and how important it really was to me. As I began judging each item carefully and deciding whether to keep it, throw it away, or give it away things slowly began to change for me emotionally.

I began to feel a strange freedom from a lot of possessions that ordinarily I would never part with. I began to feel more at peace in my surroundings and lighter overall. The idea that when I am done I will know what I have and where it is has overcome my annoyance with how time consuming and tedious this process has become in comparison to my original “tub stuffing” method.   I will wholeheartedly admit however, I had to force myself the first few hours to think slowly and carefully about each item and what to do with it and this was no easy task at first.

I’ve found an amazing goldmine of items (some still sealed in the box!) that I will be in need of in a couple of months when I make my move to a new home. I also managed to consolidate and empty two tubs within just half a day! Two tubs!! Overall I haven’t put much of a dent in all of the stuff I have collected throughout my adult life but I have made a good dent in the possessions that I have with me during this transition. I have also found a number of items I didn’t realize I had that I will need soon thus avoiding additional unnecessary cost, and of course a few items of great emotional value to put in my little treasure boxes (I use cigar boxes for my treasures).

I feel featherweight right now emotionally, light and agile, no longer encumbered

Today’s start was a good one and I hope to keep the momentum, I didn’t think it would feel so good and expected it to be more of a tedious task that I would drop only an hour or so in. I’m actually excited to go and get a few more tubs and continue the process, it’s been rewarding knowing I can let go of a lot of things I no longer need to drag around. Almost like dumping emotional baggage at times! I feel featherweight right now emotionally, light and agile, no longer encumbered by so much stuff.

Chang Tsu once told of a story about a deaf, mute man whom many went to see to learn. (I’m going to paraphrase this as I do not remember the actual text) The student was confused as to how such a man could be so sought a teacher to which Chang Tsu replied “heaven and earth could collapse and he will not be moved, to this man losing his speech and awareness of trivial external things is like throwing away so much dirt”. I used to try and wrap my head around this thought and now I think I might have a little bit more understanding.

It’s invigorating to realize that I can part with things I no longer need or want, and to know that if I need or want something I still have the ability to put in the efforts to achieve should I simply decide to. Today was a good day!

Happy housecleaning,

~Joe