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.