I have not done many good things for myself lately. I have done a few and done them well. I went dancing last Saturday for the first time in a couple weeks. It was perfect.
I went with my girlfriend, Sharon. She had found the event (Release Classic & Soulful House Party) and the place online. (Petra’s Piano Bar in Charlotte although there were no pianos there that night!) The place was located in the middle of what looked like a fifty-year-old brick strip mall. It could have been a washing machine repair place as easily as it was a bar. There were a half dozen people milling about outside when we arrived.
We got within about three feet of the door following a few people in. The people in front of us started bouncing. As we got through the door, we could see the bouncer bouncing. The lady taking the cover charge was bouncing. Looking around with a quick glance, everyone in the place was bouncing. Before I had finished looking around, Sharon and I were bouncing too!
It has been decades since I have been to such a happy and fun place. It was excellent. It was perfect. I drank from the tap of fun and didn’t stop.
I had been dehydrating myself in a desert of stoicism and hard work. My soul was parched.
Like a person that comes in out of the desert at the edge of death, I drank my fill and rapidly.
The place had an amazing energy, and we had an amazing time.
Launching into this week, I realized slowly that I have not been doing enough things that are good for me.
I have stepped away from the path of things that work for me.
I feel as if I had little choice in my path.
- I haven’t been to yoga in a couple weeks or so, but finances aren’t in a place where I can go.
- I have practiced at home a small bit.
- I haven’t been running much.
- I haven’t hiked.
- At times over the last few days, I have been living and working like a hermit.
Getting myself to step outside the door has been a challenge, a temptation. I need to save the little money that I have. I can’t spend it. I can’t spend it. I can’t spend it.
This is the mantra in my head. My accounts had gotten so low that I clung to every penny like a person dangling from a cliff clings onto the last rocky edge with a pinky finger.
It was all I had.
I’m sitting here now on my grass mat in my living room typing this for similar reasons even though mentally I am grinding my gears trying to shift into something new. Bosa nova and piano music are playing in the background on the BGM channel (Background Music channel)….
I did not want help. 🙂
Many people have helped me over the last year. Many people have helped me throughout my life.
This summer I reached some new level of something as I work to change, shift… Be reborn.
I wanted to emerge from my cocoon changed and flap my wings a couple times then fly.
When is the last time you ever saw a newly emerged butterfly being assisted by other butterflies as it flew through the air?
- I couldn’t imagine it.
- I wanted to have my independence and self-reliance and confidence and success back.
- I was turning away help.
- I was giving help.
This is a paradox of pride and maybe selfishness that I have written about before.
I felt perfectly comfortable helping other people. I felt completely awkward like a three-year-old child shyly accepting help. I still do.
But help is what I needed and help is what I have received.
I need a new line of work.
I have been doing three things:
1) I am working to rebuild my 10-year-old business. I am trying to reboot everything about it. I am working to fix those things that I never got around to fixing before. I am working to do those things, that I never had time for before. I am trying to keep doing everything that worked before. I see and feel progress. It is working and momentum is gaining, slowly, but it is gaining.
2) I keep applying for new jobs. It is extremely difficult to say anything positive about this experience. The feedback from applications and resumes has been on par with the results achieved by SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). At times, in fact, I think I have a better chance of beaming my resume into space and getting an interview from an alien. The feedback and responses on my efforts here have been zero. Nothing, nada, zip not a reply, not a ‘We regret to inform you’, not a “Your resume has been accepted and will be processed before the end of the next ice age after the one we are in …” This is very demotivating. I keep trying.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
I have been working hard over the last two weeks to completely rewrite my resumes.
I am very hopeful about the new result. Yet, I also need to do things even more differently. The online applications of resumes is simply not working, not working at all. I may go door-to-door, cold call, cold email, snail mail, fed ex with flowers, something, I do not know what.
Probably not snail mail or fed ex. I do not have money for paper, stamps or expedited shipping.
3) I have been writing like crazy all year, up until about a week ago. I entered a copywriting challenge. My last post here was the result of the first day of the challenge. I did not want to do that particular type of challenge when day 1 was served up nor that type of writing. (I have done it for the last 10 years in my current business). I felt like it was a huge step backward. I rebelled and tried to get creative.
I wasn’t real thrilled with that result either.
It was cathartic and made me feel temporarily better while writing it and soon after, but the writing itself was garbage. It was simply a way for me to get from one side of the creek to the other.
Rolling Stepping Stones
Sometimes when we cross a creek, we look for stepping stones. We might even set or toss a couple stones out into key locations to enable a dry crossing.
Every now and then, we may not realize it but one of those stones will turn and roll under just as we step on them. We might keep our feet dry, but the stone is lost and can’t be used again.
It is a one-time, stepping stone.
That’s what my last post was, a one time stepping stone.
Yesterday, I felt like I was getting my momentum back with my business. Summer is over and new clients and past, repeat clients are looking to get things done. Summer is routinely a very slow time of year for business. I know this. I expect it. When I can, I plan for it.
I do my best not to stress over it as it is like a tide that ebbs and flows.
The tide is coming back in. My boat is not only patched up and cleaned up, but much of it is rebuilt and ready to start floating again. In fact, if the tide comes back fast enough, I can’t wait to take it sailing in a strong wind.
This week I have had a series of very different and not so different conversations with friends, clients, friends that are clients and clients that are friends and more.
Most of these conversations are about relationships, challenges to relationships, and how we can shift into the new thing that we will need to do or become to take on these challenges in life. I’ll add that some of the relationships are personal relationships and some are business. They all follow a very similar theme.
Or maybe they seem similar as I personify them through my own current filter.
Communications came up as well as I was attacked online last week from a very unexpected source and then a couple additional sources. All of which live physically close to home.
I was beyond surprised, especially as the attack came from people that were operating with far less than complete information. The attack moved into public shaming for perceptions of wrongs that were not accurate.
Strange times will bring out strange behaviors. 🙂
I’m painting my own view of things on the situation to cope. They acted for reasons they thought were very important and good. I do not question their motives, but I do question their conclusions and their methods.
As the week went on, I had a number of very in depth conversations about public shaming in other situations.
It is a weird phenomena. With the rise of social media, it is much easier to engage in this act. What’s more, it can get actual results and maybe quickly with the power of numbers and the internet and viral aspects of things.
I am still digesting my own wisdom here, but one idea that keeps working its way through the muck is that people that would engage in public shaming of any type, almost always feel ashamed when they do it.
I am not saying that they feel ashamed about public shaming. I am saying they feel ‘shame’ about something, maybe related and knowing how bad that shame feels to themselves, they try to hand the hot potato of shame off to someone else they feel deserves the pain of shame even more.
They make judgments about themselves first and find themselves lacking. To subvert this pain, they then look for someone else that they ‘judge’ to be worse, a better target for shame. They then endeavor to shame that person in the most painful way they can find. They do this publicly and work to attract others of like mind, who are also feeling ashamed about something.
These people feeling the pain of shame try to ground their painful energy like a lightning bold into the hide of their target.
Last week, I was one unsuspecting target of public shaming.
The thing was ludicrous. It took me a few hours to get over being angry about the personal attack on myself.
After I got past the anger, I was able to start to see the pain that my attackers were feeling.
I’d like to say that using my intellect, I was able to magically illustrate the error of their ways, heal their pain and we all lived happily ever after.
That’s not how it worked. 🙂
I was able to heal my own pain and send that negative painful energy to ground. I had nothing to be ashamed about. I had nothing to feel self-hate about.
I could empathize with the people that were attacking me, but I could also see that they simply didn’t have enough facts to know what they were talking about.
I couldn’t convince them of that. So I walked away and left them to their pain and shame. I am hopeful that they were able to ground it and put it away. They are good people. I’m hoping they just had a bad day and with luck and love they will move beyond that bad day and bad phase in their life.
My Turn to Publicly Shame
I’d like to say that I am smart enough to learn from someone else’s mistake without committing the mistake myself.
I’d like to say that.
Things actually came full circle for me yesterday. I was working on an e-commerce setup for a client. They wanted to use what to me is a relatively new service for small businesses that is offered by First Data a very large company. The service is called PayEezy.
I have worked with many merchant service providers to process transactions over the last 15 years or so. The setup for this particular service was less than easy.
It was challenging in part because it was new to me. It was challenging in part as the user interface is a bit dated and also in part because I did not have the level of access I needed in one area to do what I needed to do.
The thing is the user interface and the setup guides provided, made absolutely no mention of the different levels of access.
They also included no pictures or video to see what had not been written. It was just some text written up explaining where to go and which buttons to push.
That’s all well and good when the buttons are actually there! But when the buttons are mysteriously not there and there is no explanation as to why…
I got frustrated.
As I was talking to a help desk representative working in the world’s loudest call center (background noise) it became apparent to me that it was an access issue. The rep figured this out too about 5 minutes later. With that noise, I’m surprised he was able to think at all.
I later had to write an email to my client and ask them to call tech support themselves in order to request that my own access should be increased. Apparently, this could only be done over the phone. Very old school in a negative way….
I was monitoring some separate conversations on twitter at the same time, and in the midst of that, I wrote a quick complaint to the twitter account for @FirstData .
I didn’t realize it then. I only just realized it about twenty minutes ago, but I felt ashamed to have to go back to the client and say, “I couldn’t do the thing. I need your help”
And when I felt this, I tweeted out this complaint to @FirstData publicly shaming them for not providing better tutorials and guides to speed the process along. (One of their competitors was quick to retweet the thing.)
Now, the practical side of this is that a handful of people might learn and realize that this system is a pain in the ass. 🙂 Their competitor might even capitalize on it. First Data is a very large company. I sincerely doubt that their bureaucracy will react in a way that fixes this system. Frankly, it needs to be completely rebuilt.
There is a reason why PayPal grew and Stripe is growing so quickly.
Still, I did not need to go negative and publicly shame them for their shortfalls. (I did offer to work for them and fix their guides! I do need a job.) 😉
But I went about the thing the wrong way. I’m not going to shame someone into giving me a job.
First Data needed help to fix their problem. I wasn’t helping. Their loud call center environment probably prevents golden nuggets of insight and opportunities from getting to the right people too.
It comes back to help.
I have not been very open to help.
First Data was not open to help either. As that became more apparent to me, I grew frustrated.
Last week, maybe my friends wanted to help me (so as to avoid vague talk, when I say friends, I am talking about my ex-wife and two mutual friends, plus some additional friends of hers). For whatever reason, they may have grown frustrated too. Some of it was none of their business too. 🙂
It might be that my ex-wife wanted to help, but as we are a few weeks from finalizing our divorce, she felt blocked from helping for some reason.
Maybe they simply had so much stored shame built up in their systems that they just couldn’t control it and had to let it loose with shaming lightning bolts going in every direction, but primarily aimed at me or so I felt.
I don’t make it easy for people to help me!
This is where the rubber hits the road. Accepting help has always been a weakness of mine. I grew up learning to do for myself. I also grew up with people that loved me and could easily help me. Many times the help came at the price of guilt though.
As I became more capable, I did not want to pay the price of help. I did not want to open up my wallet and pull out hundred dollar guilt bills and pay up. I learned to do my best without the help.
When I left home and joined the military and moved thousands of miles away, I got even better at…. Being a lone wolf and not asking for help and ironically in the military not working well on a team.
I can think of dozens of situations from that time where I martyred myself and took the wrong thing away from the experience. I took the accomplishment of getting the thing done by myself without any help. It allowed me to grow my confidence and achieve better and better things.
In fact, this is not all bad. It’s a mix, a paradox a little bit yin and a little bit yang.
Being self-sufficient is good. Being self-sufficient and living like a hermit and not accepting help from anyone or working with anyone, that’s not so good.
Just because it is not the type help you want ….
My parents are coming this weekend. I invited them. I can’t wait to see them. I also asked for their help, even if it was just their moral support of being here while I work through tough shit. 🙂
Soon after I made this request my Dad jumped in. He was locked and loaded with guns blazing trying to help me in three different directions at once.
He’s a great guy and I love him.
The help was totally overwhelming. I needed it too.
In the course of the day, he was pushing me to get my car fixed, buy a house, walk into the closest business and get a job and a lot more.
He was concerned for me. He loves me too.
He simply needed to know where the board needed to be nailed so that he could shoot a couple thousand rounds of nail gun nails into it.
Like the negative shaming energy, I had to find a ground for this helpful energy too.
It did help. After two months of problems with my car, I tried, AGAIN, to get the A/C fixed and low and behold, it is working now! (It might leak back out, we do not know yet. This might be temporary, short term, medium term or a permanent fix. But no matter what, it was HUGE progress.)
I was watching a Tony Robbins movie “I Am not your Guru” last night.
“We accept what we can tolerate.”
This is one of the ideas in one section of the movie. I had learned to tolerate being broke and having this broken car.
Not sure I had much of a choice in any of this, but I had definitely come to terms with it and it was becoming a part of my new normal.
Getting the air running again, definitely helped me move out of that cycle. Even more important, it helped me leap up a thousand feet and see the same attitude elsewhere in my life.
Intellectually, I want more. I know I have had more. I know I can make more.
Emotionally, I wasn’t feeling a path forward to achieving that. Worse I was settling into the consolation prize of the status quo.
This Bosa Nova music is speeding up. Not sure I can handle the status quo of this music much more. Thought I would be finished writing a long time ago…
I was watching that same movie and it was good.
It was damned good!
I was shouting, tears were streaming down my face, I was heaving with emotion like a damn had broken loose, especially as I got to this point in the movie where everyone starts thinking back with gratitude to all the people that have helped them.
I did this too. It was just a movie, but I was living it.
I was thinking of all the recent help I have received first. So much help with no strings attached and no guilt. It was new and beautiful and wonderful. I thought back through the years with gratitude and I was able to let go of the times when there was guilt. Those times are over and the net result of the experience is that even when there was guilt, I was still helped!
What’s more, that guilt… That was me feeling guilt and choosing to feel guilt and I did not necessarily have to pay that price of guilt.
When I was a kid, I might not have known better. I may have had to travel just this far even to figure this aspect of my life out.
But last night, I was able to do it. I was able to simply heal a big part of my life.
A blind man that can now see
I was healed in a big way. It was beautiful and wonderful. It happened from the culmination of my experience and lots of moments over almost 44 years of life and then I got it watching a scene in a documentary. 🙂
Now, that I am healed(ah the hubris!), I have to learn how to move forward. We can give a blind man like my former self, sight. But that doesn’t mean that he can read the next day. That may not even mean that he will recognize images of things like dogs or cats without any other subjective information that he does recognize.
Even after he can recognize it, he may not be super quick doing something with it. Maybe yes, maybe no…. The analogy breaks down for me.
I do know this, I have healed in a new way. I have a fledgling new ability to accept help without guilt.
This does not mean that I want help all the time nor do I want to rely on help. I am still fiercely independent.
But maybe, hopefully, I can be less selfish. I can help and be helped without putting myself through psychological hoops and torture racks. Maybe I can come in from my hermitage and the lonely prairies and mountains and deserts and join a pack or a tribe again.
I have come a long way. I have found new potential in myself.
That movie also gave me the epiphany that I want to write!
I have held back on that too much, again not doing the good things for myself that I KNOW work for me.
Today, I have fixed that a bit. I will strive to do even better going forward.
I hope you will join me in this striving and finding and DOING the things that work for you as well, so that we can make this an amazing day and an amazing life!