Shine On

Where your spirit is

It’s been quite sometime since I added some new thoughts here. Last night, I was finishing a Netflix series called ‘The Gift’. It’s set in Istanbul and is better with subtitles than it is with the voice over in English. (The acting connects more in the original language, even if you do not speak it.)

There’s a scene where a character is guided to focus on their pain…

People say where you hurt the most is where your spirit is.

The Gift ~ Netflix TV series.

Much of my writing on this particular blog captures my spirit when it is hurting. This is an obvious double edged sword as I personally do not want to hurt and yet savor being in touch with my spirit.

Numb and Move

Pain is not the only conduit to our spirit. Throughout much of the last year, I’ve worked to numb and move despite the pain that I felt.

I started 2019 recovering from a failed relationship, struggling to make ends meet trying to keep my nose above water in a home I was challenged to afford alone. I dove into some new opportunities, in parallel as I had no option to abandon the work that was paying something, even though not enough.

Just as the new opportunities were getting a little traction, my father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I took on even more in the aftermath of his passing, working with my family to hold things together for all of us.

The seeds of very old web development opportunities started sprouting and by mid summer I was engaged in 3 different businesses, business development for my father’s former business, web development for my old business and systems integrations between ERP / CRM / Automation tools in the new business.

I’m a web developer by profession mostly these days. I haven’t written professionally since the financial crisis started in 2008.

I numbed myself in staying busy. I started to contain and get caught up on some of my financial problems. A new relationship rekindled out of the ashes of the previously failed relationship. I enjoyed summer a bit. I encountered a couple odd injuries during yoga, and my practice of the same faltered.

Life was generally going in positive directions. I was not living in balance. However, I was correcting some deficiencies from times when I was mentally/physically/spiritually more in tune.

My Aunt passed away in the fall after a rapid fight with cancer. The onset of cancer was sudden and the fight lasted a few months and she was gone.

Again my family and I were dealing with another loss. At the same time, one of my large web development projects came to an end soon after. It had been a chaotic project with biweekly changes in direction from the client, their team and a series of 3 different CEO’s. The chaos of this project had driven me nutty and at the same time, the money had helped me fix a lot of things.

I did a lot of good work, but was not allowed to do my best work. It conflicted me when it arrived, as it happened and since it ended.

The rest of the year saw a mad dash to wrap up other projects ranging in size from large to medium to small. Without the anchor of the large project that had ended, every week and month felt like a struggle to make ends meet.

Christmas felt like it would be my undoing trying to make ends meet let alone make a holiday for my children and family and make a trip to bring them all together come off.

With non stop work, and help from my mother and family, I made it happen. It was not easy to get into any kind of holiday spirit.

Just Surviving with a bit of Life re-Building

December of 2019 was a month where I just tried to survive. I kept telling myself, I don’t think I can get through another holiday like this. I don’t think I want to try anything like this again.

And yet, I also remembered my Father’s ability to pull out all the stops to bring Christmas together. He loved Christmas. The rest of the year might be great or it might be terrible. He might have behaved poorly or well, but during Christmas, he’d try to atone for everything.

In so doing, it could make christmas awesome and sometimes very stressful too.

He saved my Christmas a few years back at a time soon after my divorce when I was in a place that seemed like yet another rock bottom.

The weird thing about rock bottom, is that this is often where we find our spirit, where that pain allows us to connect. Its the place where the seeds get planted and from which the roots nestle in and we grow out of the ground again.

So in the current holiday, I told my departed Father that I loved him everyday and did my best to make due. I accepted some of the gifts offered and this helped as well.

I made it all the way to January 4th, where I sit now on my yoga mat looking out on a gray day with the sun not quite breaking through the clouds.

I came home from the holidays with a coughing chest cold that had me wiped out for a good 2 days. I survived through the beginning of the month and can pay most of my bills. This was an important accomplishment as none of this was certain 4, 3 or 2 weeks ago.

It wasn’t even certain 48 hours ago.

I have entered 2020 with many of the same conditional driven anxiety that I brought into 2019.

Things are very different Now

I came into 2019 fighting to survive. I made new opportunities and opened up to new options. I said yes to almost everything that was thrown at me.

I used wisdom to say no to a few things.

Staying busy and taking on more helped fuel me through the year. This is and had long been one of my super powers. The more I have to do, the more I am able to get done.

Too few things to do is my kryptonite and the source of procrastination and ADHD or whatever.

Things are different now, because I was able to get caught up on a lot of things in 2019. I got caught up on many debts (not all, but many). I took a big financial hit to help buy my youngest daughter braces, completing a trilogy and I’m still paying off half of this.

I invested a lot of time and money in a new aspect of business. Its a new area of work for me that allows me to wed my experience and skills and education in finance and accounting with my web development and business development skills.

I’m in the midst of taking my new systems integration and automation medicine.

A few years back I put together a vision board or two that put me on a path to automating more of my business. I can not personally scale. I needed better systems and processes to bring the magic out of my head and into an actual business. I had operated like an artist for many years. I needed to systematize the art, so that it could scale and help more people.

I needed it to scale such that I could earn enough to move beyond surviving.

I’m making that happen now. In November, I started consolidating and merging my former systems into a single integrated unit.

In a business sense, I’m aligning the mind body and soul of my essence in business in a way that I can manage it and grow it with others in the future.

A 2020 plan emerging

I do not have my resolutions or plan for 2020 ready yet. I am still finishing up some important action items from the end of 2019. These are some problem areas that need attention.

Finances – I am working on a fast track plan to clean up the rest of my finances this coming year. There have been several problem areas in my life that I simply had no way of addressing in a few of the last years. I’m getting other things sorted and can tackle these soon.

Health – For several years, I have started to envision a future where I might leave meat behind. It started just after my separation years ago. Back then I ran like crazy and then lost a lot more fluff when I took up yoga 6 days a week. A few months later, I met my girlfriend who introduced me to some amazing foods. She is not a vegetarian and yet through choice and necessity looks at foods as part of her medicine. The long and short of it is, she helped me experience that healthy food can be prepared in ways that taste amazing. In 2020, I may or may not go meatless. I’m going to approach my food differently. I’m renewing my focus to emphasize a lot more plant based foods. I may even go vegan someday. Not ready for a commitment, but definitely headed in that direction.

Business Growth – I have lots of work to do here. Again, I need to finish my 2019 work and develop this more.

Travel – This has not been easy over the recent years. Its been several years since I traveled on a regular basis for work and personal reasons. This year I am changing this. I am long overdue to make travel a central part of my life.

Writing – And finally I get to what I am doing in this current moment. I need to make space and time to connect with my writing spirit. I know how to connect with my spirit even without having to focus on the pain. I can also do this through nature, through dance, through beauty, through food, music, story, art. The thing is that I’m alone mostly. There’s a part of my (fun to observe) ego that needs to be witnessed. If I don’t open up and share my spirit, then its just a tree falling in the woods unobserved, unheard. If I don’t write it, its as if I wasn’t there at all in too many ways.

Shine On

So I will make more time… I will allow more time to write again and share the connection with my spirit with you. Whether you are just one person or many, alone or in the lonely company of others, I’m hear. I’m trying to shine and hope to witness your shine on as well. I am not the tree alone in the woods waiting to fall alone and unobserved and neither are you

We are the rays shining and radiating out.

Happy New Year!

Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

When is it wrong? Putting big rocks in the jar first

The Past Becomes the Present

Last week it was the end of the month and my February is not over yet. All week I was trying to get some big rocks into my jar.

You’ve probably seen the science like repeatable, experiment. Given large rocks, a jar, some water, sand and medium sized pebbles, you are asked to put it all in a jar.

If you put the sand and small rocks in first, the rest will not fit.

If you put the big rocks in first, then the smaller pebbles and then sand and water, it works. The smaller items settle around the big items.

Its a nice visual metaphor for life and priorities.

The human lesson we learn from this physical experiment is to take care of your big priorities first. Later, fit the small worries into place.

I have been working at this with intention all year.

And as the short month of February wound up, I had to refocus. I had new big rocks to contend with.

I worked on getting them into the jar.

February ended, and the big rocks were still not in the jar.February 1st, 2nd, 3rd came and went, still no big rocks in the jar.

Now its Monday the 4th.

My jar is still pretty much empty.

I am real close to having a big and important rock in the jar…. and empty is still empty.

Stupid, Friggin Metaphorical Breakdown

The thing about metaphors, is they are visual examples of a bigger more complex system.

They help us bring clarity of vision and purpose to a universe can appear much more chaotic.

We apply our metaphor, our belief system, our past history, our models of what should work, and we do our best.

When the Metaphorical tire goes flat

And sometimes any of those, might not work in a situation.

Then we have to do the supremely human thing, and adapt a new model.

That’s me today.

Instead of putting all the rocks into a jar at one time.

I need to focus on rapidly putting one bunch of things in at a time. Next I’ll carry it across the room, dump it in a collection bin race back and repeat.

My ultimate goal in my new metaphor is not to fill a jar, and see the accomplishment and be ‘all done’.

I have to shift.

Today, I have to see that the jar was meant to transport and not hold the things. It was not the ultimate destination.

I have no ultimate destination today.

I have flow, I have movement and so will all of my rocks.

The benefit of moving all those rocks out of the way

I’m going to declutter my rock pile. Get most of it moved. I need the space and clarity to refocus on those big rocks.

Sometimes, yes we need to get the big rocks in the jar.

The jar is just a tool. The jar is not even real!

We don’t have to hold ourselves hostage to our beliefs, our mental models about how it ‘should’ be.

We use those models when we need em and shift to the next when its time.

So how might you shift today, this week, this month?

Have you been following

  • an awesome,
  • totally sound,
  • served you very well in the past,
  • tried and true method for being successful, and
  • its not working any more?

Well, now is your chance to use that amazing human adaptability talent and just change it up!

Love to hear your experience and progress with this or lack there of…. Its not all break throughs.

I was stuck on one of my recent big rocks for 4 days, chipping away at it, rolling it around, finding and trying new angles to fit it in and not succeeding, but so so very close.

Sometimes, it helps to simply share where and how we are stuck. I’m not offering to fix nor help here. 🙂

Its your rock and not mine.

However, we are all in this together too. We are flying through space on a common big rock.

Sure it is a paradox and nothing wrong with that.

The funny thing is, funny in another unique human way as opposed to funny ‘ha ha’, sometimes as soon as we express how we are stuck, complain about it even, vent, dump, whatever,

That can clear the air for us, and suddenly we can see through the dissipating smoke and observe the obvious answer. It might have been there all the time. We just needed to expel some hot air and blow the fog away.

Go for it today!

A New Beginning

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“Beginnings.” It was the new theme for a new year. A new theme for a renewal and a night of writing. It was the concept that I just wasn’t quite ready for, even though I wanted to be ready for a new beginning. All day, all weekend, all year, These last five days and the year before it, all 365 of those.

A new beginning that’s what I really yearn for.

And Here I was stuck on anything but a beginning, all day. The Last Day of this particular week with my children, I was full up with their time. I was full up with their need for attention. And yet I already regretted they would depart soon for another week.

A new beginning would mean that I would have time to restart, through the week. When they weren’t here and the minute they left, a new beginning of loneliness, loss, regrets and self-indulgent sorrow.

That’s what I would experience.

That’s what I experienced every other week when they left.
A few years back, I lost half of the rest of their childhood. My time with them that is.

They still have their childhood.  I have my children seven days on and seven days off.

I only have half of the remainder, and I don’t really know how to live with that, the other half gone. I simply try to work on myself, move forward, create momentum, build a better life, build a new beginning.

This evening, the first of their departure like many others like it, is always a tug at my heart, A challenge, A depression. I ate too much, I snacked too much.

I watched Lethal Weapon 3 the one that ends in vengeance. Lethal Weapon with a vengeance?… No, it is not lethal weapon at all. It’s Die Hard with a Vengeance. I’m getting my series confused as I try to think of a new beginning.

Watching Detective McClain and the Good Samaritan defeat the bad guy… It did lift my spirits. That and too many chips ahoy cookies dipped in Almond Milk with vanilla flavoring.

And then I finally felt some sort of equilibrium. I Went to bed on time. It wasn’t quite comfortable in bed. So I got a heat pad out and reminded myself of an old trick from a few years back, a heat pad relaxes my shoulders just a little and lets the tension, loosen up.

As I lie there, the muscles in my shoulders quivered in a way that if I’d been lying on a skateboard I would have ollied up a couple of inches or two with the movement. It felt goooood, just to let go that tension that anxiety and all that stress.

A new beginning as my new cat walked into the bedroom. And climbed up on a footstool near the window. And proceeded to bat, at the string of the venetian blinds, and bat at the wooden blinds themselves, BANGing them over and over and over again.

What does she need? Does she need attention?

This is her new thing some new kind of signal. What in the world does this signal mean?

It’s loud. I’m tired. I’m zoned out. I’m relaxed. I’m ready for sleep. I’m listening to meditation music with earbuds, and the cat is banging, RAT-A-TAT-TAT, TATTING on the venetian blinds. I reach for my cell phone, I turn on the flash light. I make noises. I tell the cat to stop. The Marvelous Mrs Mrph Mrph continues.

Fred sits next to the footstool. Fred is a reedy plant of about four feet tall. Fred sits in a pot of dirt. Probably holds four or five gallons of dirt. I’m thinking four after watching Detective McClain fight off the terrorists, when he had to defeat the elephant-fountain, mind bender. The one where he had to figure out how to get four gallons of water with a three gallon and a five gallon jug.

And he just about does it. And even then I had to pause the movie and recalculate it in my head. I have figured out this trick before but it’s a new beginning and who knows, someday I might need to know how to get four gallons out of a three gallon and five gallon jug too.

And Fred sits in a four gallon pot full of dirt, and suddenly!, I realize that the cat too is sitting in Fred’s four gallons of dirt And The cat is digging and the cat is squatting and all of a sudden there a new beginning in the air.

It’s a stench. It’s a cat’s stench. And I hear the flatulence sounds of a cat and

I think, “Oh shit”.

Deep sigh I get up. It’s not the cat’s fault. It’s a new cat. I haven’t figured out how to train the cat to go in the litter box, sitting pristinely in the other room.

It’s a new beginning, and this cat doesn’t know what a litter box is, but I keep trying but not tonight.

Tonight I have a stinky plant named Fred sitting in four gallons of dirt with something on top.

I turn on the light and I let the cat outside. It’s ALL too obvious what the rat-a-tat-tatting on the venetian blinds was all about.

The room smells like a cat can only make it smell, when there’s no kitty litter to defuse the odor. I don’t have a pooper scooper for such things so I get a plastic hanger from Old Navy hanging in the laundry room.

I scrape at the dirt because the cat had managed to clean or cover or dust off or dust over something. I think.

It smells like there should be a substantial amount of something there. But as I dust around with plastic hanger I’m not really finding any clumps of anything to pull out. I sort of find clumps, what it is. I don’t know if it’s dried up dirt or what.

And I think to myself a new beginning is what I needed when I added plant sticks to my shopping list for Walmart earlier in the day, nitrogen food for the plant.

And now the plants got something else. Maybe it’s better. Maybe it’s toxic, maybe it’s worse, but it sure does smell. And I’m not going to be able to sleep in this room if this continues. So I step into the bathroom and I grab the vestiges of the chips of sage left from my ex-girlfriend’s smudging bundle that she would burn on a regular basis.

And I light it up and it’s smoldering and I’m smudging essentially around the bedroom trying to get the smell to die away.
And it’s not quite working so I grab the Lysol and think,

“Well you know, The room will smell like Lysol. What the hell. I was in high school once and I learned how to huff Glade. I don’t really want to do that now in my mid 40s but it sure beats huffing Mrs. Mrph Mrph’s Flatulence.
This isn’t quite the Zenned out new beginning, I thought would start my week when I was relaxing on the heat pad.

But it IS the new week I hope I get now, as I relax on the heat pad again now and as I recite this into a voice recorder so I can transcribe my new beginning, tomorrow.

The weeks over, but not me

You have caught me! I am taking a quick break.

The sun is about to set here at the White Water Center. I just finished a bit of outdoor yoga, a slow flow almost yin session. It had been 5-6 days since I practiced last.

The skip was not intentional. Life has just flowed quickly. Life is flowing well the last 7 days.

10 days ago, It felt like I had hit a wall. I wanted to crawl into a hole.

I did the opposite of that.

I have worked the last year to better prepare myself for some of life’s bigger challenges, bigger surprises, more bristly briar patches.

It paid off this last week.

Live music is playing while I write this. I am surrounded by people and dogs. A St Bernard just stopped to drink some water from a bottle. He/she had a little help.

The sun is just on the cusp of setting and it is suddenly extra bright.

So this last week, money was running out. Clients were having cash problems left and right. As a consequence, I was having problems.

A few months back, I set up an invoicing financing system. My invoices almost always get paid. After 13 years in business, I have had 4 bad invoices. Two were less than $40 and I wrote them off to good will.

Two were four figures and they hurt as much for the amount as the expectation that I would get paid.

Invoices are not paid in a timely fashion by a few clients. This usually has more to do with corporate culture and at this time of year, vacations.

Summer is often the slow season, at least June.

So I started financing my invoices, factoring or borrowing on them. In the business world, this is not uncommon. In a past life I factored hundreds of millions in invoices each month.

In this life it’s a lot less.

It works great when the invoices are paid eventually.

Well, it doesn’t work as well when invoices do not get paid. Then I end up holding a loan and owing interest on it for something I will not see.

Instead of potentially writing off say $1k, I write off $1k and pay interest of $100 too!

I have been careful with this financing program, but it got real tight last week.

I offered up some big discounts for clients that were looking at new projects. I offered up discounts to anyone with open balances.

Some of those worked.

But it wasn’t quite enough.

I also signed up to drive with Lyft.

Then Monday I went and applied for a job at Aldis (didn’t realize until I got there that they wanted someone willing to relocate to Virginia. Not an option as I share custody of my children with their mother. None of this had been mentioned before and it made me question whether this was an age screening technique.)

I let it go. It got me out of my comfort zone.

Things started moving along faster after that.

I got a partial payment from one client $90. It was a mistake and the rest should come any day, so there’s my car payment.

I signed up a new client with a down payment that will pay my rent next week.

I have 3 more new clients in the pipeline too.

I am racing to finish the open projects I have from last week and the new one from this week.

The partial payment client has more for me next week.

A long time client has been keeping me busy with smaller things this summer too.

My girlfriend just left town for two weeks to visit her family in the UK. It’s been 7 years for her and I am super happy she is getting a chance to see them. It also gives me some new space to focus on me and my business.

I need the space for a couple weeks.

I have been working to reboot my own website and automate things. One of the deals from last week is contingent on me moving my own site, making space for a client site to run on my soon to be former server. That will save my client about $50 a year, and actually give them access to a server that would normally cost them $130 more than what they are paying per year.

There’s a lot more.

Little things to save money, doing my own brakes to save $100. Cleaning my landlord gutters to save $75 on rent.

Buying new automation tools to speed up my design and development speed. Hoping to be able to serve more clients in shorter amounts of time.

Fifty feet from me, two pairs of dogs are in a bark off.

The sun is mostly set and people are still taking selfies in front of the water.

My picture taking skills are nothing to write about.

I received some glowing reviews/kudos/recommendations from past clients this week as they referred me to new clients.

There is something extra special about a great recommendation and even more so when you need the work!

I am very grateful for those and happy that I have helped them in the past and will do great things for the new clients coming on board.

An Australian sheep dog leading its owner, just walked behind me.

There is a super happy, white-glowing-white Pit Bull just to my left stretching and chasing a roll away water bottle.

So why am I sitting here typing still?

I have a dozen websites migrating to new faster servers. With all the new projects coming on board, I needed to get to a faster server running PHP7. I was building on PHP5.6, then upgrading to 7 one at a time.

But I trust 7 more now and each upgrade takes a day individually.

So I bit the bullet and movers everything under construction today, so that tomorrow I can finish jobs and all future new jobs will run on the faster system.

But

While that is happening, I am a bit stuck and can’t touch those sites as they are moved by tech support at my host.

So I get a bit of a break tonight, got to go to yoga, listen to music, write up this brain dump, and maybe get to go to yoga tomorrow too!

On the downside, I accidentally ran out of money.

I have money, but this afternoon it was all in the wrong accounts.

I set up a few transfers to get things to the right places by next week. (ACH transfers are free but not always quick)

But I made a small mistake.

I move a bit too much from one account and right after, some automatic payments came out of it.

That was my operating funds for the weekend.

As a result, I have $35 to last me until Monday when my transferring funds will land back in their respective accounts.

Fun times. 🌞

I am not complaining, laughing at myself a bit, and recognizing that I did the best I could in the situation.

I was in a hurry and trying to take care of many other things.

Violin music is going crazy right now and probably impacting my thumb typing on my iPhone.

There is a very fuzzy, berry obese and tailless brown and white sheep dog panting by.

The sky is turning pink.

So this is where I find myself.

I have read a lot of audiobooks over the last month, helping to keep me sane.

I just finished The Road to Dune.

I highly recommend it for any Frank Herbert fans. It includes an early version of the book Dune, it was a very different first draft. Good in its own way and includes a lot of backstory in an interesting way. There’s a lot more than just that.

Well, the bugs are starting to bite and it’s time for me to walk and stretch my legs.

If you have read any of this, thank you.

I needed to unburden myself with everything I have packed in.

I do this from time to time as it allows me then to live more in the present.

I did all these things and lived them in the moment.

Yet, I need to share them too and get them out of my system.

There is not so much a deep reflection here, small little insights maybe.

This is just a sanity cleanse.

I hope you find your own amazing sanity cleanse soon too!

Eating 4 month old Halloween Skittles while blogging

A few big things – One Each Day

The first week of the year was not a classic New Year experience. I had no time for coming up with a New Year’s wishlist of things to do.

I ran around trying to keep people healthy, get them better from being sick with the ick, flu, stomach bug, head cold, cough, puke, sore throat, etc.

I worked to dodge it all myself as I had just gotten better on antibiotics the week before. I almost succeeded. (Head cold 2.0 caught up with me)

My ‘To Do’ list got longer each day, and I rarely marked anything off…..

But!

I did get some big things!

Over the course of three days….

Parks and Recreation Committee Citizen Advisory Board

I had an interview for a position on the board of a group in my city.

The City council members interviewed me. After I and the other interviewees left, they had a vote.

I got the position. (I do not think it pays anything.)

Charlotte WordPress Meetup Group Organizers

I connected with an acquaintance, who was interested in the WordPress group I have organized in Charlotte since 2008.  He and a friend of his were planning on going and speaking at the Greenville and the Atlanta WordCamps soon. They wanted to put together a group for a road trip or something.  I’ve been to the Atlanta event twice, spoke at one of those.  I have not been to the Greenville event.  Sounded great to me.

My group needs new organizers and I invited them to become co-organizers. They were both interested, and I’m excited to add some fresh blood to the team.  I’m looking to get the group back on track to hold a WordCamp in Charlotte sometimes in late 2019 (at least 18 months from now) and lots of regular new meetups along the way.

I need to find more co-organizers and add more diversity, but was happy to have some new eager members right at the beginning of the year!

Book Organization mind mapping Software

On Saturday, I spent a few hours getting an important software program running on my Mac. I’ve been writing two books. One of them has gotten more complex than originally planned and I needed a very good mindmapping program to help me organize the chapters, and the purpose and social media plans for those chapters, and much much more.

I have that ready and prepared to run with it.

Finishing my book, loosely titled ‘Happy on Facebook’ is one of my primary goals for the early part of the year.  It’s going to be a lot more than a book.

Vision Boarding for Couples

Today, Sunday, my girlfriend and I worked together to create a joint vision board.  We did it! (made the vision board)

I had very happily and successfully made one of these for myself 5 months ago.  A couple years back, she helped coach me in something similar as well (using post its and a write up).

We now have a large 4×4 foot paper right outside the bedroom door. The first thing we’ll see in the morning after we roll out of bed.  That happens to be near the front door in the hallway too! So we will see it coming and going as well.

It felt like almost everyone in the house was sick last week, but they are getting better now. I made it through and am looking forward to an easier week and many more big things falling into place.

Oops! – Update and I mate it to first week of Therapy!

Almost forgot, I made it to my first week of therapy at the VA.  I am now in a DBT therapy group, which was very helpful right away. And I had my second session with a psychologist. She guided me to track my time in a log.

I downloaded an app to my iPhone and I’ve been going to town with that!

 

More to come on that later, I’m going to be posting something regularly with my activities, mostly to help hold myself accountable to get things done!