Fear of Irrelevance

One of the contributing factors to my drinking was fear of irrelevance.

Everyone at some point deals with concerns for irrelevance.

The irrelevance of being left behind in an ever changing work environment that faces down sizing regularly. The thought of irrelevance that comes with being in a contentious divorce or a bad custody challenge. The thought of becoming irrelevant to your off spring due to age and the differences in generational culture. The thought of taking on more than you planned and becoming overwhelmed and unable to make a positive impact in anything. The concern that of all the relationships you’ve had reached an expiration date and by that very nature you can become concerned that you may become irrelevant to your current relationship. The concern that you become irrelevant with all the non-constructive time you spend drinking, planning around drinking and recovering from drinking.

The thought of being irrelevant can be pervasive and stressful. The further reality is that drinking can amplify these very real feelings.

So, how did I finally cope with it? Sobriety helped immensely. Let’s face it, when drinking our minds can go to places that our sober selves just don’t waste time on. The drinking mind can dwell on the darker elements of our lives and lament without end. The sober mind can focus on the here and now, the what needs to be done and the doing of things. The sober mind is much more capable of dismissing feelings that come from very small places.

I’m not without those small moments where these same things can come to the forefront. But the limited amount of time that happens is so much smaller than when the drinking mind is in control.

I feel grateful for where I am and this is one of many reasons I say, I will not drink with you today [IWNDWYT].

 

 

“Do What You Love” is BS Career Advice

“Do what you love” is BS career advice. Plenty of failed writers, novelists and fiction authors can tell you that. Plenty of would-be entrepreneurs and start ups lay along that road of dreams. And the list goes on.

I know because I explored those ideas. I had day dreams of being a writer and waxed poetic over the fame and notoriety that would surely follow. I did the homework and realized that for me to make a living at the time  (pre-internet) I would have made pennies a word and that the only way to make it a good living would be to achieve that rare hit. That one in several million novella or non-fiction blockbuster that brought the worlds attention flocking to your feet. The odds were against me.

I love to run, but I’ve seen very little realistic opportunity for me create a career around what I love. My ability to run does not excuse the fact that in this vast world, I’ve never been a high performing amateur, much less an elite athlete. And as life progressed, we have the commitments of time like making enough money to pay the rent, put food on the table and provide transportation.

“Do what you love” is such a purist oversimplification of what really should be a more complex concept.

“Do what you love” is frequently and inappropriately interpreted to mean “Do ONLY what you love and accept no compromises”. Or “Refuse to do anything else to do what you love and accept no compromises”.  This interpretation smacks of a serious lack of reality based pragmatism.

Life is filled with things we don’t want to do. No one really enjoys going to the bathroom. But it’s what we have to do to survive. I personally don’t enjoy having to lay down to sleep every night, but its what I do every day to survive. Frequently stopping for water or food is an inconvenience when we have better things to do, but it’s what we have to do to survive.

In response to the idea of “Doing what you love” as career advice I offer the following:

  • “Aspire to what you like while covering the basics”. 
  • Find something other people will compensate you to do for them. It doesn’t have to be glorious, fabulous or set the world on fire so long as it covers the basics. It can be a service or a product, just something.
  • Do what’s necessary to support yourself and take care of your responsibilities. Even if it means taking multiple jobs. Nothing can undermine your sense of pride and well being than finding yourself dependent on the welfare of others or welching on debts.
  • Strive for what you prefer. As you do what’s necessary, keep your eyes open for what you prefer and strive for that. In every aspect of life and work there are hidden gems and aspects of things you may find intriguing enough to keep you interested. Stay open to that.
  • Learn to appreciate what you get for what you do. When you have a job or career, someone is paying you for the value you provide to them, no matter how much you don’t enjoy it. Don’t agonize or lament about the perpetual woes of where you are. Appreciate the income you get.
  • Steer career changes to grow to love what you’re doing, or at least not hate it. I don’t know how many people I’ve met that tell me stories like “While working at x I got involved in this thing that led me in a completely different direction.” I’ve met a teacher that became an IT specialist for an entire school district. Law enforcement officer that became a chiropractor. A CFO that became a successful insurance salesman. And the stories go on and on. I have an education degree and I’ve been working for global IT companies for over 30 years.
  • Be flexible. Because people change, as you will too. People can find themselves falling in love with things others find routine or abhorrent. People can also find themselves falling out of love when it becomes a ‘job’ (aka “chore”).
  • Persevere. It’s absolutely rare the person that wakes up every day of their life saying ‘yay, I’m excited to get up and go do this for a living’. Even at something they ‘love.’ Do what you have to for today, because who knows what tomorrow will bring.

1000 Days Alcohol Free

As of April 2nd 2019, it’s official.

1000 (1K) days free of alcohol.

How do I feel? Fantastic. Not in a “throw a party” way. But in a thoughtful, reflective, appreciative way. I’ve rambled about the positive sides of not including alcohol in my life. But now I’ve seen it and lived it for a good while. And the more I look at, the more I realize how trans-formative it’s been.

As I look back, I realize how much more of my life I’ve reclaimed to be productive.

In my pre-1K history, I would go through several ‘sick’ episodes a year, about every month an ‘illness’ or ‘gut’ problem would last two or three days. The kind of thing that would put me out of sorts, ruin a weekend and hold me back from feeling or performing my best. During my 1K days, I can only think of two brief episodes in the past year where I’ve had any episode. And by ‘brief’ I mean two days or less.

The further domino affect to this new found health, is that my overall normal wellness and vitality became much better. Probably because my body was able to self correct. I picked up running again. In spring of 2018, I finished one year of one 5k race a month. Now the new project is a one year progression from a 5k (already completed), a 10K, a half marathon (both already committed) with a target of a marathon in spring of 2020.

Even better is my mood. I am much more calm with others. I am also a lot less likely to bottle things up. In the past I had used bottles of alcohol to bottle up feelings of frustration and anger. Now I am much more capable of having a meaningful conversation with others without it devolving into a match of anger, insults or victimization.

Instead of planning around the evening pour, I’m going bowling or installing a kitchen back splash or working on some other ‘project du jeur’ that interests me and fills my life and relationships with meaning.

Instead of planning around the morning recovery, I now plan the morning run route or the supporting exercises. How far will I go? What’s my target pace? Will I see fish jump in the channel as I run by? Which muscle groups do I need to strengthen?

I’m also better able to be there with friends and family instead of struggling to get out the door and socialize. Which is so much easier when you are not fighting through the fog of hangover’s, dehydration, headaches and frequent maladies when drinking.

Do I occasionally consider a beer? Sure, for less than a minute. I enjoy the memory of drinking, but turn aside when I realize the downside before really completing the thought. That might happen once every couple months or so.

I’m happier without and grateful for the past 1000 days. IWNDWYT.

Evie Launcher changes

If you’re an Android user, you might be aware of the ability to use different ‘launchers’. A launcher is the user interface that manages your screens look and icons you use and a ton of other features allowing you to organize the way you view and start your apps.

In a previous post, I shared my logic behind switching to Evie launcher.

However, recent changes had me a bit concerned. They added a news feed very similar to Google Now (which I came to dislike, a lot).

My first reaction was here we go again. Then I long pressed on the home screen, opened the settings and found that it can be disabled. I switched it off and ‘voila’, no more news feed.

I also found the setting that hides the search bar. Interesting idea if you’re concerned with screen real estate. I used the search function often enough that unhiding would be a pain.

Kudos to the Evie developers for designing things better than Google. Bravo!

‘In the Scheme of Things’

Applying ‘in the scheme of things’ can help improve many facets of your life.

“In the scheme of things”. I mentally re-use this phrase repeatedly. Whether it’s determining what widget to buy, what option to choose with financial investments or what recommendations I provide to my employer, or whether taking a drink is worth it.

‘In the scheme of things’ (ITSOT) speaks to ensuring that we view things with a larger perspective in mind than what’s immediately in front of us.

I see lots of conundrums that I relate to the exercise of thinking through ‘In the scheme of things’.

For instance, when shopping, if you see eggs that are ten cents cheaper at a grocery store you don’t normally go too, that’s 30 minutes out of your way, does it make sense to spend the time, money and gas for the bragging rights of saving that ten cents? That’s a very narrow question with a lot more variables involved. Some people insist on achieving those bragging rights, even though the ultimate cost savings would be nullified.

By the very nature of the phrase, we step back to view a larger picture, making some value statements that are relevant to us, and base a decision on those values.

That doesn’t mean emotions don’t come into the equation, but value statements should check knee jerk emotional reactions.

Recently I was in the midst of selling my current house and written communication passed from the buyer side suggested that we knew about a problem that we intentionally didn’t disclose. At least, that’s the way it was expressed. My initial reaction was of course, emotional.

Then I had to ask myself ‘In the scheme of things’. Did I care their opinion? Did I care what they thought or felt? Did I want to run the risk of poisoning the sale and risk thousands of dollars and lots of anxiety? In the Scheme of things, no. I didn’t want to create the worst case scenario because of wounded pride because I read something as an implication, correctly or not. I checked myself, used ITSOT,  replied with facts, ignored emotion and moved on.

I also had to remind myself that ITSOT there were lots of middlemen in these communications (our agent, the inspector, the buyers agent, and then the buyers) and every hand off could have caused some distortion in the message. By using ITSOT, I was able to remember what was more important to us at the time.

But, let’s put this in context with alcohol. My wife and I have had this conversation multiple times over my 721 days and her exceeding two full years  alcohol free.

‘In the scheme of things’:

  1. We no longer spend hours recovering from a night before and all that entails.
  2. We no longer wake up wondering what stupid thing we may have said or done.
  3. We no longer spend thousands a year on alcohol.
  4. We think without the fog of alcohol either depressing or stunting us.
  5. We’ve both dealt with emotional stuff from our individual pasts.
  6. We’re more up front emotionally with each other, our family and friends.
  7. We, as a couple, communicate more often and more clearly with each other.
  8. We have a more purpose filled life in a mutual direction related to our life goals.
  9. Both of us have had significant career improvements as a result.
  10. Our collective health is significantly improved.

All that being said, ‘in the scheme of things’ I’m very thankful that we, as a couple made this change and that we have been there for each other on this continuous improvement journey.

The Heart is Willing … or maybe not?

It’s been a while since my last post. Suffice it to say non-blog related things have been stealing my attention. The latest being the most impacting.

I was in a Kiwanis meeting May 4th, when I began to feel ‘not right’. I became light headed and felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.

I politely excused myself, took some deep breaths, thought I had it under control and rejoined the meeting.

It was no more than five minutes and I excused myself again, this time I took my things with me.

The light headed feeling persisted. I kept trying to clear my head with deep breathing, but kept getting weaker. I checked my Fitbit and my heart rate was around 100, which didn’t make sense considering my level of inactivity. We have good conversations, but not that exciting.

I was lucky enough that the meeting was in conference room at a Mansfield Methodist Hospital and I walked myself down to the Emergency Room. By the time I got to the service counter, I was struggling for breath, I was near fainting, and my legs were about to go. I was able to give them my name and they were catching me with a wheel chair.

In minutes, they wheeled me to a room, got me on a bed, attached a number of leads all over (chest, abdomen and legs) and put an oxygen feed under my nose. While I was half fainting, I became strangely emotional, like I was about to cry and I said so. Just the weirdest thing. I normally handle stressful situations calmly.

I was struggling to tell them medical history while it felt like the right side of my head was becoming extra tingly, like I was losing circulation on that side of my head. I was scared. I thought it was my end.

They hooked up an IV, ran saline and monitored my heart. My BP was 180 over 110 and my heart rate was easily 100 or more. I was having a hard time, but they let me keep my cell phone and I called my wife. She insisted on coming to the ER.

I texted members of Kiwanis to let them know. A small cadre of them were allowed to hang out with me while I went through whatever this was.

And I texted my kids that I love them, but I didn’t let them know more than that. If this was the end, it was important. But I didn’t want them doing anything rash, like jumping on planes when there was nothing they could do.

My biggest fear was that they would rush me into surgery and crack my chest open.

The rest was a blur of emotions and trying to make light of a situation with humor. That’s my coping mechanism. My wife arrived and I know she could see the uncertainty in my eyes. We shared hopes for the future and I professed my feelings again.

Then there were several hours of imaging, evaluation, ekg’s that eventually led to a conversation with a very good ER doctor. You know the kind you hope for that will take the time to converse rather than do a brain dump and leave you confused.

He explained that the lower left chamber of my heart had been beating uncontrollably and after consulting with a specialist, they put me on a script to keep my heart from running out of control.

When they were sure my heart was under control, they released me and I drove myself home.

Thinking about this, in the back of my mind, I’m reminded of the ‘holiday heart’ and wondered, did my drinking cause me permanent and irreversible damage?

I’m not sure I’ll ever know for sure, but… it makes one think.

 

 

 

I Planned, Fate Laughed

Somewhere around 593 days of alcohol free (late February 2018) and in my 51st week of training for 5k’s I developed a soreness in my knee.

Naturally, I had been pushing myself to try and get a decent time for the last 5k to complete the ‘5K a Month’ for a Year challenge. I had also taken it for granted it was in the bag and had already begun thinking of goals immediately beyond that, like a 10K and a half marathon and dreams of a marathon in the next year.

Unfortunately, I believe I over trained. So for the final run of the year, I intentionally cut Continue reading “I Planned, Fate Laughed”