Saturday, June 21, 2014

Expelling my internal storm

There are big changes happening to a lot of people right now. I still feel like I'm in a huge holding pattern, but getting closer to some kind of execution. Yesterday on Facebook I posted that I am feeling overwhelmed and this still holds a bit true. But I have terrific friends who come out of nowhere sometimes to give me support.

So I can't talk about my professional situation for compliance and other reasons. But in general terms it's the difference between what you do for a living as your life's calling, a mission to serve everyone you know and try to help make the world a better place, and what you do for a living is your job which provides you the opportunity to pursue your life's mission and calling on the side.

I'm also mindful of my dad, Bob Early, who died 12 years ago yesterday. A friend responded to my feeling post about being overwhelmed and thinking about dad:
 It sucks that he's not around to see the man you've become, but take comfort in the fact that his work in that regard was finished, and he can consider it a job well done.
And I sincerely appreciate that notion. In dad's case, he's often my example of how not to live one's life. I remember him fondly, don't get me wrong. But he did die at 52(ish) years old. Self-employed. Single income family. He lived a life of anxiety as I recall, and dealt with that by drinking and working (being away from the family), rarely taking a day off. I am prone to work anxiety to a debilitating level, and I keep myself and everyone around me to help me make sure I don't become an alcoholic. So one of the biggest things I'm weighing right now is how can I have a professional life without becoming crippled with anxiety.

Top priority for me in life at the moment is to have the freedom to be present with my family and not be forced to work and be away all the time just to make ends meet. I also don't want my daughter to transfer my anxiety to her in anyway. Best way I know how to do that is to somehow avoid that anxiety. Best way to avoid that anxiety? Well that's the question.

I can certainly achieve all this with my present career. To do that it requires breaking up things into seriously tiny pieces and only focusing on what's in front of me and not let the big picture overwhelm me. That is really hard to do. To let go of everything that is stressful about my present situation, and to just focus on checking things off my daily checklist. Making those tasks easily doable. In my present career I can help people directly affect their own lives for the better. It can be seriously rewarding. But like dad, it's running your own business, which comes with its own costs, variable income, etc. Those things cause me a great deal of anxiety. It would be true if I were running my own business in any other field I think.

On the other hand, working for someone else of course can provide a little more income consistency depending on the position. You have to deal with having a superior/manager, which I haven't really had for several years. The anxiety in facing that possibility is of course things like: What if I think I can do a better job than my boss? What if I can't stand the job? I'd be giving up A LOT to leave my current career.

At the end of it though, what is it that gives me life, energy, motivation, excitement? I know I don't want to feel guilty for spending time with my family for fear/feeling that I'm not working enough, and then vice versa. Feeling guilty for working to support the family and not spending time with them. A vicious cycle.

Maybe if you know me, you can help me. Sometimes you're so entrenched in your own situation you don't know how to see yourself, or what your strengths are, etc. Gonna let go of my fear that people might think I'm fishing for compliments, and maybe if you feel like it, you can help me out by sharing what you think my strengths are, or what you have observed about me when I'm at my best. I think I've been out of touch with what's inspiring to me, what drives me, what I'm best at, etc.

For some I have been able to help give ideas about where a person might look for a new line of work, just based on what I know about them and what I think they'd be good at. I'm interested in similar feedback for myself. All things aside, is there something that comes to mind when you think of me? But mostly it's the qualities... if I'm in the right place now and I just need a new perspective and a reconnection/awareness to/of my strengths, motivations, what I'm like when I'm at my best.

Either way, thanks for being there for me everyone.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Holding Pattern

My health is finally better. Tried giving up gluten, corn and soy for 30 days, which was a giant pain. Made a few other attempts at reducing stress, like exercising for 5 minutes a day in addition to trying to walk 30 minutes a day. Other hope-inducing opportunities surfaced as well. So yeah, things are better in that regards.

Now I'm just in a holding pattern. What is really important to me? What could I be doing that could make me happiest? What sorts of things would make me excited to get out of bed in the morning? What am I willing to do to get what I want? What the hell do I want in the first place? What am I worth? These are questions that are most on my mind, along with am I appreciating the people in my life enough?

A friend and colleague of mine passed away last week. I miss him a lot. There was a time when I believed I wouldn't live to see 40, for whatever reason. Dreams of dying in explosions haunted me for several years in the early 2000's. I don't have those dreams anymore. Not for a while. No, now I have an amazing family; I live in the place I want to live; we bought a house last year that actually feels like home; I have amazing friends. Life is overall pretty damn good in those areas.

It's my professional life that I'm struggling with. There, I said it. In public. It's not the actual work I do with people. I love that part. The company is great. But someone had the gall to pose me a question that has had me reeling for over a month and a half: "What if for your income you were a speaker of some sort, something with a message that mattered to you?" And something about my wife being intrinsically linked to my ability to do what I do. The possibility that I could make a living doing all the things that give me life, energy, excitement, and full meaning. I immediately thought again about seminary. But that's been shot down with so many holes. "No, being a pastor/preacher seems too limiting for what you would do" I was told.

I think back to that palm reading too I had, where he said that I was made to be a performer, and that I need to be performing right now!

I just don't know how they are all connected. What would be this mysterious career? Would it be the same one I have, just coming from an entirely different paradigm or perspective? Whatever I'm doing right now is clearly not working. Or would it be something entirely different I never even thought of?

I mentioned "hope-inducing opportunities" above. One such possibility has been brought to my attention I never thought possible, and I have a lot of excitement at the prospect of it. But it that path seems to be cooling. Even if nothing comes of it, which would certainly be disappointing, it's given me an example of something else that would be right up my ally. The details are not important. What I know is important is to understand myself, to clarify what I want, to evaluate how all that is going, and determine next steps.

I don't know if happiness is the most important thing in life. Making life better seems a higher priority. But that's meaning that will take an entire lifetime to unpack. Where to get started?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I have never been so sick, so often than I have been in the past several months. And the bastard thing about being sick is that just as you recover, your immune system still isn't fully back to 100%, leaving you vulnerable for something else. I'm just now at the tail end of some stomach horribleness, although the muscles around my gut are only slightly clenched, rather than fully squeezing at my intestines.

Yeah, it's been a trip. I'm back to kind of eating real food again. But what I am struggling the most with is a kind of gripping anxiety and depression. I started my work year off with a lot of good momentum, seeing a lot of people, making the start of my year feel really productive. And it was. And then all this sickness started in the family. Typically starts with the girl, then to Cindy, then to me. Then back again. I have been SO sick that I couldn't possibly sit across the table from clients. Momentum has slowed to a near stop, as I get my bearings and confidence with my stomach.

It's not that I don't know what I need to do to get back to work; to get back at it. I'm just filled with so much anxiety over my present situation, depression over my self-perceived effectiveness... I need to feel and believe that I actually make a difference.

I've struggled with chronic anxiety and depression for many years, unmedicated. Not untreated, just not medicated. To some extent I feel like I've managed it okay. I have good support from Cindy and friends. But I admit it's getting more difficult. A lot more difficult. Maybe it's time to evaluate some kind of medication.

A friend of mine recommended I seek a naturopath to maybe get my immune system back to par. Might not be a bad idea. Just made an appointment for next week.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Discovery of an earlier me. Pun intended.

We are going through a lot of stuff lately, getting ready for the baby. Cindy's in high nesting mode and I"m doing my best to keep up. II do appreciate getting rid of clutter and reevaluating what do we value. We discovered some old journals and diaries, and one in particular kind of jarred my attention. It was the notebook I wrote poetry in when I was in college. The poetry I won't subject you to, but I did find a list of goals, and what appears to be theological understandings. I went through a lot of transformation at PLU theologically, but it's nice to see that I recorded it. I may have been preparing for my candidacy essay as well. Later on I would discover that was folly. Oh well.

I will resist the urge to edit this list, as some of it seems a little silly, but to be true to where I was at in my life I'll preserve it.

In 15 Years, dated March 31, 1998. That means I got one more year left to make good.

  • I will have graduated from PLU
  • Married
  • 1-2 children
  • Graduated from seminary/ordination
  • have a congregation of 800
  • Gone to Scotland and back to develop roots
  • Read Greek and Latin regularly
  • Begun graduate work on Luther theology
  • have worship styles - contemporary (jazz, blues, pop, etc) & traditional
  • have theatrical messages/productions regularly (direct)
  • have a house
  • have investments - mutual funds, etc & untaxable $ for college fund for kids
  • Give theological lectures/discussion groups
  • Developed/created family traditions
  • Develop stronger self esteem
  • Know how to dance
  • Train in martial arts regularly
  • Be a well known figure in the local area
  • Active in Lutheran political work
  • Have good health coverage for whole family and retirement plan
  • Have organized financial life
The congregation size and worship styles goals made me laugh out loud. I can't even begin to unpack what I was thinking then. But it was stunning to see so much of this list actually come to pass. This is interesting because this is BEFORE Dead Gentlemen. At this time I had not developed a plan to go to Scotland, but I fulfilled that part the following year. It's also interesting looking at the financial language I wrote, and the concepts I was thinking about. Who knew I would end up working in the financial industry?

What's not on this list is also pretty amazing. After this, I would go on to:
  • Co-found Dead Gentlemen Productions
  • Direct a feature length movie my senior year of college
  • Travel and study in Scotland, as I previously mentioned
  • Experience serious identity theft
  • Experience the death of a parent
  • Produce DG's most successful project so far, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, and see that it gets on Netflix
  • Collaborate with an industry leading RPG publishing company to create the Demon Hunters Roleplaying Game, which I would then co-direct the video content of the rebooted Demon Hunters world.
  • Move to Bellingham
  • Help build/repair boats
  • Sell fiberglass 
  • Move to Los Angeles and actually work in the film industry by supplying them with fiberglass and other products, and consult with them on mold making.
  • Be laid off in an economic downturn
  • Sell Volkswagens
  • Go to Germany and visit family
  • Move back to Bellingham with no solid employment lined up
  • Buy a new Volkswagen.
Sure there's tons of other things, but I must say it's been a pretty eventful last 14 years. And now we're having our first child, a daughter, named Caitlyn Iona Early. Her middle name comes from the profound experience I had when I went to the Isle of Iona off the coast of Scotland. Truly magical. Just like this first pregnancy has been.

I'm not going to copy down my theological musings from 14 years ago, but I will say this. They sound VERY similar to my recent musings on Facebook. It's more than interesting to me to find that what is making sense and speaking to me, is something that I had come to understand 14 years ago. Now I feel I just understand it deeper. In another decade, I fully expect another transformation of a similar deepening.

Okay, so it worked the last time, I need to set out some goals for the next decade.

In 10 Years, dated 3/18/2012
  • Sticking with the 1-2 kids
  • Buy a home
  • Buy a house/space for my office/business
  • Visit Scotland with people close to me, and revisit the Isle of Iona.
  • Found a non-profit ecumenical, or at least Lutheran, beer brewing organization that offers proceeds to support local needs, like the Food Bank, Lighthouse Mission, and other things like that.
  • Exercise daily
  • Develop a coveted BBQ sauce
I guess that's about as big as I can dream at the moment. So say we all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Complacent, or Contentment?

I've been struggling with an odd sensation lately... an absence of ambition. One might think depression or anxiety goes with that, but for me, I'm neither depressed nor fidgety (well apart from my normal bouncing knees when I sit). I discovered this as I tried to set some goals that would motivate me. And I found that I think I pretty much have everything I want out of life.
  • Happily married
  • I love where I live
  • I like my career
  • I have great friends and family
  • I have a car that I love
  • I game regularly
  • ...
Sure there are things I'd like to have, but I've just noticed a kind of lack of passion. The things that used to drive me don't anymore. I'm not unhappy about it, it's actually kind of peaceful.

I feel like something's wrong. Something's missing and I don't know what it is. I'm strangely comfortable and content. Maybe it's complacency?

Camille helped me see that I really haven't done anything truly creative (apart from gaming) since we moved to LA. So yeah, no creative movement probably suggests the lack of a particular passion. But you can't just force that, decide to be passionate about something, or create something when you're not really inspired and you're basically okay with that.

Except I guess I'm not because I'm writing about it, and questioning it. It's just the first time in my life I look around and go, you know, things are pretty great. But I'm only 32, that can't mean I'm done. I got a LONG ways to go.

Help me out folks, what do you think?

Monday, March 29, 2010

My next blog post

Will be way better than this one. I pulled this up as I felt like I had something to say, and then stared at a screen for 2 minutes and realized I really don't.

I have seeds of ideas and reflections that just starting out. I'll disclose them later. Disclose. That's a word I've picked up from my insurance studies.

And who the crap ever thought I'd be studying insurance and securities? I went to PLU and got a degree in Classical Languages because I was going to spank everyone in Biblical Hermeneutics thanks to my ability to read the ancient languages... Ah yes, well that fell through. But my education did give me a rudimentary system of critical thinking and a higher awareness, and a serious amount of close friends that have lasted all this time... Including some professors!

And what have I learned so far, now that I'm almost 32?

When you graduate from High School, you kinda think you know a lot. When you get to college, realize you don't know crap. When you graduate from college, you have a sense of entitlement.Hey, I have a college education. People are supposed to hire me. WRONG! Wait, but I paid all that money. I got great grades. I did everything right... Too bad. The world is not college. You have to pay your dues just like everyone else who didn't go to college.

But in college you learn how to think for yourself, or at least ask good questions. That WILL help. But lose the entitlement stuff. Just accept your lot, take your life by the scruff, and do something about it. Seize opportunities. You could die tomorrow. No really, you could. It sounds like a cop-out, but it happens every day.

But what's the point? Right now, I think the point is to know thyself. Sort out your priorities, and make your life enjoyable. Zombieland had some great things I think apply:

Rule number 1: Cardio. Start exercising, fatass. Or skinnyass. The zombie apocalypse could happen tomorrow, and you'd be food. And as an added benefit of getting in shape to outrun the evils of the world, you actually do feel better and maybe don't hold as many grudges in life because you just kind of work them out. It's similar for dogs. If you exercise your dogs regularly and rigorously, they stop being pains in the ass. Same goes for humans. Thank you Caesar.

Rule number 2: Doubletap. Well that's just common sense.

But one he added later on in the movie, was: Enjoy the small things.

Last night it was windy as heck, and then it rained like crazy. We had the window open in our bedroom. I've had a hard time going to sleep at night. Just with all the studying and the concentrating and the new information racing through my brain... but the sound of the wind howling out there through the trees, sang me right to sleep.

I love where I live.

I also love my wife very much. I don't think I tell her it as much as I should. (I know, we all think that, but again, maybe we outta do something about that). The thing that I think is amazing is how she tolerates me and even supports me. Don't get me wrong, she draws the line and I respect the hell out of that line when it's drawn... but yeah, thanks babe. I'm a handful.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Rum-inations

I have a definite lack of rum in my eggnog. It's a problem.

In less than 2 hours I leave for the airport to fly down to Burbank to meet my lovely bride for Christmas Eve. We'll be attending midnight church service tonight, and then figuring out our driving plans for tomorrow. Traffic SHOULD be light on Christmas day, one would think. I think we'll make the best of it.

Well, we did it. We've up and moved from California. Cindy's retaining her job and working remotely, and I am unemployed looking for work. Currently I have three prospects. One is a local VW dealership, that also sells Audi and Porsche. Very nice place, great reputation. If I'm going to sell cars, that's where I want to do it. I'm also pursuing heavily an opportunity with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. I'm setting up an interview with the other financial consultant here in Bellingham for next week. Finally, I also have an opportunity where Dupp works. A sales position just opened up that I definitely fit the bill for. I am continuing to look for opportunities, and I have faith that Cindy and I will be okay, despite the amount of credit card debt we've had to rack up for this move. The credit card debt stresses me out a little. We've been credit card debt free for a while now. But I still feel this was the right move. And I love our new place.

Dead Gentlemen Productions is turning a few new leaves with new projects in the works. We are finally getting to a point where several people are contributing content. We're not totally there yet, but we're definitely stepping in the right direction to spread out the workload. For years we've struggled to answer the question "What is a Dead Gentlemen Productions?" Does it have to be a comedy? Is it feature films? Is it only gaming related? Originally we had set out to be the next Monty Python, or at least our own incarnation of a similar group. Recently I had an epiphany about this question and I'm acting on it. A Dead Gentlemen Production is something that the Dead Gentlemen do together. Whatever it is. It's the group of people who work together that make it special, and it's special and it works because it's those people who are making it together. So rather than genre or whatnot, I've made that the center in determining what project to do, and why it should be done. I feel responsible for a lot of the rifts and disagreements with Ben and Matt because I didn't have this understanding before. I felt obligated to a certain genre, or catering to a particular audience. Both of those foci are incorrect if DGP is ever going to grow beyond their current successes, and I feel like I've alienated some people because of that. I just hope it's not too late. If it is, I think DGP will be looking for a new president. I don't want to run a company that doesn't include the people I want to work with. Kind of leads into my next Rum-ination: purpose.

I still struggle every day trying to find a sense of purpose. I just dug up some old journals of mine and reread them. I had such a strong sense of purpose a decade ago. Even 6 or 7 years ago. This time alone these past few weeks, up here by myself, settling in, sorting things out... it's been a good time for reflection. I've identified that I lack a cause nowadays. Cindy and I had strong causes back in college, just those few years just outside of college. But I think it's faded. Taken for granted unintentionally. We both chose to turn away from becoming ordained pastors because we wanted to be married to each other and not a congregation. I've sought out in some prayer if I or we should be thinking about seminary again, and I still don't feel pulled in that direction. I'm thankful that the church might have lost me as a pastor, but the gained Chris Ode. It's almost like we swapped lives or paths there at one point. Maybe I should ask him what he was going to do before he was called to ministry. :)

I know a few basic things I want out of life. I want to buy a house and plant some effing roots and stop moving every year. I have averaged a move once a year for the past 13 years. I'm sick of it. I also want to start having children in the next couple years. There, I said it.

Think I'll use my plane ride down to Burbank to do some goal setting and some objectives to reach those goals, with timelines. If you don't set goals, you'll never reach them.

Happy Holidays everyone. Merry Christmas. Think of us tomorrow as we make our drive back up to the PNW.