Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Burnout Tastes Like Burning… Welcome Solstice & Goodbye 2011

From 2011-12 (Dec)

8:15 PM
I talk about this later in the post, but I wanted to let everyone know right at the top that this will, probably, be the last post until 2012.  I am taking a break.  It’s been a heck of a year, and I’ll be back, fresh and ready, after Winter Break! 

This includes the Photo of the Day on Rubble.  One sign of my burnout is that the Photo of the Day has become the photo of every now and then.  Daily posts will return in 2012.

2:30 PM
Winter Solstice today, thank the Gods!  Now the days start getting longer.  Happy day.  It was also my birthday yesterday.  These days, though, other anniversaries feel like bigger deals than just making another trip around the sun…  It was a nice day, though.


The sun is out and The Big One and I are going to take the dog out for a long walk.  Hopefully I can take some pictures and keep on getting to know the new camera I received for said birthday and for the upcoming holidays.

Yes.  Burnout.  I am very burned out.  It has been a long year.  The new year is not here yet, but I am a year older and the days are getting longer, so this seems as good of a time as any for a 2011 wrap up post.

This is the last task I am knocking down before stepping away from the computers for a couple weeks.  No Photos of the Day (or of the every few days, as it has been going recently), no posts to any blogs, little to no activity anywhere else.  Stick a fork in me, I am done.  Break time.

For the next couple weeks it is about the kids, books, cameras, watching some movies and catching up with some Breaking Bad, Rescue Me, and some other badly neglected shows.

It is going to be some time to get some perspective, to get some rest, and to get ready for 2012. 
This past year was a strange one and not an easy one.  2012 looks to be very different.  No less easy, but definitely more stable. 

2011 was a year when my life was on hold.  I started in California helping my mother with several issues, and ended in Gresham helping my children through several issues.  Those tasks took up the whole year.

But that leaves me in a strange place where my plans for my life in 2012 look exactly like my plans for my life in 2011.  This is not to say that I did not accomplish anything in 2011, far from it.  The work with my family has been tremendously productive and rewarding.  But in 2012, the main goal is to resume work on my own career and to start earning some damn money.

This also not to say that the work with my family is done, of course it is not.  The boys have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go, a lot of healing left.  Their wounds are no longer bleeding, but they are far from being back to normal.  The Big One still has a long ways to go before he is back up to speed with school.  The Little One, well, he has a long way to go before he’s back up to speed with life.

However, the progress they have made since April and May is amazing.  Some solid foundations are now in place and they are both further along than I would have guessed they would be at this point.  They are far enough along where I am feeling pretty good about heading back to work. 

There will be challenges, of course, with this transition, but I think they are part of the growing process now, challenges encouraging growth, not obstacles hindering it.

Time to get out in the sun for a few.  More later.

From 2011-12 (Dec)
From 2011-12 (Dec)
From 2011-12 (Dec)
From 2011-12 (Dec)

6:00 PM
Dog walked, boy walked, errand ran, dinner cooked and served…

Burnout. 

I’ve been putting a lot of work in on the RubbleSites for the last couple months, a lot of posts, but even more time spent behind the scenes getting this and that set up.  I feel, for the most part, this work is coming to a close and that, after a few small projects that will be completed after winter break when the boys are back in school, that I am at a point where I can pretty much just focus on content creation.

And that is a good thing, because once I am back to work, there is going to be little time for anything else.  Posts may get shorter, and fewer and further between…  I think my goal at that point will be one decent post for each blog per week, with some other, smaller “feature” type stuff thrown in here and there too. 

Of course, I’ll be keeping up with my photo of the day and throwing music I like up on Retrovirus Lab, too.

So, the plan is, after the break, to take two weeks to finish the construction of these sites and to put a new portfolio together.  Then my full time work and only major project will be landing a new writing contract. 

One of the things that has been a little rough the last month or so is that I’ve fallen into a strange schedule with life.  Since most of the uninterrupted work time I have these days is at night, after everyone is in bed, I’ve become rather nocturnal these days.  I get a few chores done during the day, then the afternoon and evening has been spent working with The Big One and his homework, cooking dinner, usually more work with The Big One and his the homework (let’s face it, it has been more homeschooling than helping with homework), then getting everyone to bed. 

Only then have I found the time to get the serious work done on the bigger projects I’ve been working on, like the One Day on Earth video, the Occupation photos and videos, etc.  Since The Ex One gets up early, she’s been handling the mornings, getting the boys out the door to school.  Through the end of November and up until the last few days, I’ve been going to bed about the same time she’s been getting up to get her and the boys’ day started.

This schedule actually worked pretty well for that period, for the most part.  The Ex One was fresh for the mornings, and I was fresh for the afternoon and evenings, and the boys were spared dealing with a tired and grumpy parent!

Now that the boys are home, though, this schedule is terrible!  Today we hardly got anything done.  I have a few chores I need to complete before I start my break, the day is almost done and I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.  Of course, on the old schedule, my real work wouldn’t have even started yet, but I am done with the nocturnal thing.

Once I start the job hunt, I will need to be on a normal schedule.  Since it would be murder on me to swing back and forth between day and night schedules every two weeks for the next month or so, I am not.  I am just going to switch to a days only schedule and keep it there.

After break, my days will be compressed into what I can get done while the boys are in school.  That means I will probably be a lot less productive, but there are no big projects, just a few small ones and wrapping up some big ones, so that should be fine.  The challenge will be not getting sucked into any new big projects.

So, for the rest of break, I am taking some time for me.  I might get caught up editing a few pictures here and there, but that is pretty much it.  I have a small project, also, that I need to complete for my mother’s Christmas gift, but that is a small project. I might also finish the One Day video, but probably not until the boys are back in school.

That is the project, the One Day On Earth video,  that was really burning me out, and it is still not done.  I put a lot of time into that video and, at this point, I am not crazy about the results.  With the limitations of the camera I shot the video on, well, there’s not much more I can really do with it. 

I took a break from the video for the last 10 days or so, once the deadline was extended for a month, to get some distance from it and to make some decisions about it.

Pretty much, I needed to decide if it was something that I wanted to put another 40 to 80 hours in to or was it something I wanted to just wrap up and move on from.  The break was good.  It is time to put a few final touches on it and to move on.  I was thinking about recording new music for it, nope.  I was thinking about re-cutting the whole thing in Lightworks, nope. 

I do need to put a couple more hours into it, but that is all.  Upload it and move on.  But it took several days of distance from it to realize that this was the best thing to do here.

The other big project I still need to finish is editing and posting all the Occupy Portland material.  Of course, that stuff was sort of time sensitive, so the longer I go without posting it, the less relevant it becomes, the less of a priority...  Still, I do want to get it up while it is still something of a current event and before it becomes history.  But at this point, January is fine.

And that is about it.  All that stuff, in a nutshell, was 2011.  And since I am putting everything not done at this point off until 2012, that means my year is done.  And I am tired.  It is time for a long break and a lot of rest.

See you next year.  It should be an interesting one!

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

All my base are belong to you… A first post


All my base are belong to you: Geek love poem : Shiny Shiny:
AW for this. Found sketched on a pavement in California. Take a lesson English boys.
Note: Cross posted from All My Base Belong to You....

Well, I feel that my blog Suburban Eschatology Part Two has a bit of an identity problem.  Half the time I am posting tech related articles about new / social media issues and the other half of the time I am posting long navel gazing musings about my life and silly videos of my children.

One of the two topics had to find a new home.

Considering that SE2 was always intended to be my personal journal, well… Here we are.

I wanted to call this All My Base Are Belong To You… but that was taken.  So I snipped them by one word.  That blog is about Japanese culture, this one is about other stuff.  I hope no one gets confused.

Looking at some deadlines today...

I have nine days to get through all of my One Day On Earth photos and videos.  That is a hard deadline.
Before I work on that stuff, I want to get through the last of my Occupy Portland photos and videos from the eviction night and N17.

It is going to be a busy week or so.  But today, I am going to throw up my Photo of the Day and call it good.  It is sunny outside and I want to get a little hike in.  And this evening, an appointment with The Big One. 

I am not worried.  I will still be buried in projects tomorrow.  They are not going anywhere.

That, pretty much has been the theme this week: Resetting Priorities.  After getting my calendar put together, I needed a break.  Outside of my family obligations and getting a little rest and recuperation from the many long hours I've been putting in on all of these projects for the last couple months, anything else that got done this week was bonus.

But, starting tomorrow, it is time to get back to work.

So, there it is... A first post for this blog.  Sort of.

Actually, I've been writing posts for this blog for quite some time, I just haven't had the proper place to post them.

Eventually, as with my other blogs, I hope to run through and sort out all of the old posts over the last ten to twelve years and get them ordered properly in their proper homes.  Backdated, for the most part, so there should be earlier posts in this blog in the near future, but that, as with any further design work on this blog, will have to wait until I knock down some more pressing projects first.

I leave you with the ten year old meme I borrowed the title from...




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Monday, November 28, 2011

NOW AVAILABLE: A. F. Litt 2012 Wall Calendars

Note: Cross posted from Rubble.

 

It’s been a long and winding road, but at long last and just hours before my hard deadline, here it is.

There are two versions to choose from.  The only difference is the size, the content is the same

Oversized Wall Calendar; Calendars; RubbleShop by A. F. Litt:

Oversized Wall Calendar

A. F. Litt - 2012 Calendar

$23.99

Product Information

Keeping track of important dates on your calendar is easy when you can view 12 months of inspiring images that reflect your personal interests. Our high-quality calendar has oversized date boxes providing plenty of room to write in important events.

    • Each page measures 17" x 11"
    • Measures 17" x 22" when hung on wall
    • Full bleed dynamic color
    • 100 lb cover weight high gloss paper, wire-o bound
    • January 2012 - December 2012, 2013 preview, US holidays marked

 

Wall Calendar; Calendars; RubbleShop by A. F. Litt:

Wall Calendar

A. F. Litt - 2012 Calendar

$17.99

Product Information

Keeping track of important dates on your calendar is easy when you can view 12 months of inspiring images that reflect your personal interests. Our high-quality calendar is printed on thick 100lb cover weight paper and adds impact to any room.

  • Each page measures 11" x 8.5"
  • Measures 11" x 17" when hung on wall
  • Full bleed dynamic color
  • 100 lb cover weight high gloss paper, wire-o bound
  • January 2012 - December 2012, 2013 preview, US holidays marked

2010 Calendar 11282011 12754 AM

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Kindle Fire vs. iPad

I am not sure that I want either…  But there are a lot of things I now find indispensible that I, at one time, never wanted.  Being a bit of an anti-technology luddite, it takes me awhile to warm up to these things…

Kindle Fire review: Amazon’s new tablet isn’t nearly as good as the iPad. But it’s really cheap - Slate Magazine:

I found that it delivers: Amazon set out to build an underachieving tablet, and that’s exactly what it got.
...
Fans of the iPad will regard these flaws as losing the whole ballgame, and many will dismiss Amazon’s device as just another in a long line of failed iPad killers. But that would be shortsighted. The Fire’s got a lot of problems, but none of them outweighs its one overriding advantage: It’s super cheap. In my few days using the device, I managed to do pretty much everything that I like to do on my iPad. Still, when you take into account its reduced capabilities and inferior interface, I’d rate the Fire as something like 70 percent of an iPad. When you consider that the Fire costs only 40 percent as much as Apple’s tablet, though, that’s not a bad deal.
 

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

A strange trip through the past year…

From 2011-11 (Nov)

I didn’t re-read everything I migrated over from the old Live Journal blog tonight, other than glancing at a few paragraphs here and there…

The last year was an uncommon year.  An unusual year.  And it is a year I hope not to have to repeat ever again.

A lot of “spam” out to the social networks today.  Looks like Facebook and Twitter quit taking the Hootsuite posts.  Maybe I should have scheduled them.  That would have been more work than it was worth, though.

Now, as I go back through the remaining nine years worth of posts, I am not going to post them at the top of the blog, I am going to back date them.  But I knew this was a lightly posted though eventful year, so I thought it would be interesting (okay, maybe a few years from now) to have the details sorted out in order like this.  Of course, since they are out of sequence now, I may never be able to find them later!

Blah.  A couple chores and then bed.  Long day tomorrow.

The main reason I wanted to jam through all of that, though, was to test out the new posting system, and I would call it a success.  Also, I was able to populate delicious.com with a lot of posts from all four blogs to help get the new “Related Posts” app up, running, and functional.

Yea!

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Update from California

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (November 12, 2010)
 

Current Location:
Fair Oaks, CA

 

Well, I guess checking my email every day or two was a bit optimistic this week, since it has been a week since I have been on-line.  Mom had a bit of a setback on Tuesday and ended up being rushed back to the hospital in an ambulance.  Turns out that she developed Congestive Heart Failure from all of the fluids they pumped into her to get her kidneys working again.

 

She was back home by Wednesday afternoon, though, and is doing very well.  She is on meds to get rid of the excess fluids, is breathing better, and apparently has suffered no permanent heart damage.

 

But Melissa and I have been busy since then.  Tried to make it out yesterday, but by the time we were done with the drop in nurse and the physical therapist, it was getting too late to find a cafĂ©.

 

We're all doing well enough, though.  Just getting by one day at a time.  Mom's strength is returning, and we are getting her appointments set up for next week to start with her follow up care and to start  addressing the issues that led to her collapse last week. 

 

There is a lot of work to be done, and it looks like I'll be setting up camp in Sacramento for quite some time.  Today is also the first time I've had in quite some time to sit down and to follow up on some business I've been neglecting up north, but hopefully I can resolve any current loose ends right now without having to make an unexpected hell run up I-5. 

 

Right now, my plans are pretty vague.  Depending on some things, right now it looks like I'll probably be down here, though, except for maybe one week this month, and probably next month will look pretty much the same as this one.

 

Melissa is back from Europe on paid leave from the Air Force and can probably stay through the end of the year, but, right now, it is still a lot of work for one person to handle on their own.  Since I also have more experience dealing with these sorts of issues than she does, I hesitate leaving her on her own for more than a week or so at a time for the next couple months.  Not that she is not plenty capable on her own, she is, but all the help she can get makes it a better situation for everyone involved; Melissa, Mom, and Mario (Mom's husband, who is exhausted from working full time on top of looking out for Mom for the last year).

 

 The good news, though, is that, at this point, there appears to be no reason why Mom should not be able to get back up to nearly full speed in the next couple months, but getting here there will take a lot of work from all of us.

 

As for myself, I am hanging in there.  For the most part, I really couldn't have scheduled a better time for something like this to come up.  Still, it is tough being away from home.  I am using my phone a lot keeping in touch with everyone back up north, and I am starting to get to know a few people down here and getting settled into some interesting meetings here.  So I am hanging in there, except for a nasty cold that wiped me out pretty bad last Sunday and Monday.

 

So all is as well as can be.  And for that, I am very grateful.


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Final Update From California?

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (January 27, 2011 4:07 PM)
 
Current Location:
Fair Oaks, CA
Current Mood:
apathetic apathetic
Current Music:
Musak

Well, hopefully. I may be delayed a few days on the return due to personal issues, not issues with Mom, but I should be home next week, one way or the other. It will be good. It has been three months and I feel that I have done pretty much all I can here (or will have by next week) and I am more than ready to return to my life up north.

I am tired and burned out. It is not that it has been a lot of hard work, or unpleasant, or anything like that. I think it has a lot more to do with just missing home. Not really homesick, but just feeling ready to go home. My days have been pretty busy, between helping Mom, keeping up with some nasty issues involving the boys up north, and trying to get some work done on some personal writing projects while I have the time, and while things will not necessarily be any less hectic up north, probably even more so for the first couple weeks, I will, at least, be in my own home, surrounded by good friends, etc.

So it was a bit disappointing to find out today that I may be delayed for a couple of days. It has left me, well, I don't know… Just taking a break, this afternoon, sitting in Starbucks, getting on line for what will probably be the last chance I have to do so for a while, and just feeling a bit numb. Starting tomorrow, I need to get serious about the final push, wrapping up a bunch of chores, before heading out next week. I should have started today, but I just couldn't find the traction. After dinner, Mom and I are hitting a meeting and then I need to check in with Jenna and the boys, but that is about all I have in me today.

I think, this week, I really started feeling like my life is on hold for the first time since all of this started back in November. I've been hearing about things going on with the boys back home and I am really feeling the need to be up there. And Mom is doing remarkable well and has been getting out and about on her own this week, so the primary purpose of my stay has pretty much wrapped up. 

And it is time to get back home. On to the job hunt. As a friend of mine put it recently, it's not looking for a job, it is getting a job. It has been two years and a long road between my last contract and my next one, or any sort of employment (not necessarily holding out for a technical writing position), and while getting back into the fray does feel a bit intimidating, I think I am ready. As for the health issues that were plaguing me for a year and a half or so, I feel better than I have felt in years. 

So I am stuck in the transition today. The plans I made fell through as far as leaving on Monday. That is still a possibility, but I will not know for sure until tomorrow. And I am getting tired of all of the "If this, then that’s…" which have been a big part of life for the last three months. I thought, short term, those were done. I guess not.

But it is what it is and it could be a hell of a lot worse. I suppose this is not much of an update when it comes to any real facts or information, but it is what it is, and it probably is a pretty true reflection of how I feel this afternoon. A bit larger than I need to be and devoid of much content. But that is just a state I am passing through.

I am really looking forward to the drive home. I am really looking forward to taking a couple of days to myself when I get home without worrying about much of anything (yeah, right). I am really looking forward to seeing some friends. And I am really looking forward to seeing my children. I suppose that as much as anything explains my mood right now. A lot of looking forward, not a lot of anything to look at right here, right now, today.

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Notes on the current family situation...

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (February 18, 2011 12:21 PM)
 

Written on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 6:31 AM

 

As some of you know, while I was in California for three months helping Mom through some tough issues, things in Beaverton with the boys did not go well.  It was a very difficult choice deciding whether to stay in California or to come home to Oregon, and after much prayer, meditation, and counsel with others I made the decision that my time was better spent in California.  There was more that I could do there to be immediately helpful to Mom than I could do in Oregon to be helpful to Jenna and the boys.

 

Down there, I was a live-in assistant, up here I could be nothing more than a part-time dad.  This is just one of the realities of life since last Summer when Jenna and the boys moved from the complex across the street from me to Beaverton.  So even if I had put on my superhero tights and flown home in a frenzy, swooping in to save the day, I would only have been saving two or three days a week and the rest of the time the boys and their Mom would have still been left to their own devices.

 

And we've done the daddy living on the couch thing before.  For about a year, from the Spring of 2009 to the Spring of 2010, I was on the couch across the street most nights, probably about 75% of the time that year.  Yes, the boys did pretty well when I was there, but it was crippling to my life and, it is obvious now, no real, long term improvements occurred.  The problems Jenna and the boys were having before I took up residence on the couch were still there when I left the couch and, by last fall, things had once again become almost as bad as they ever have been.   And I lost a year of my life.  I was not able to focus on the things I needed to focus on regarding my own health issues and rebuilding my life in the aftermath of those health issues.  Issues such as getting back to work, which is still the next thing on life's agenda for me.

 

So taking up residence in the Beaverton house is not the solution.  We've tried it.  It didn't work.  While it did have some benefits, and while the boys did better temporarily, no long term changes occurred.  It was a band-aid solution to deeper problems that were just put in stasis for the year.  It would be foolish to repeat the experiment.
 

Slump?

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (March 2, 2011 11:53 AM)

Note:  November 20, 2011, 6:55 PM
Been working on tweaking and changing some of the tools I use to post, and the new method makes it very easy to migrate posts from one blog to another.  Eventually, I would like to move everything over here from the old LJ blog, but that is not a huge priority right now.
However, working on the system for doing that, I did want to move a few over tonight.  I posted a couple on their original publication date and posted a few for tonight.
In the future, I will probably just sneak most of them in behind the current posts on their original date.
I will also be working on a couple years worth of posts that were pulled down off of Rubble when it was repurposed and never put up anywhere else, the new SE2 or the old.

It has been a crazy four months. Hell, it has been pretty crazy for the past 11 months. I think I have hit a bit of a slump in the last couple weeks. My endurance has been down since I had that nasty cold a couple weeks ago and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. Nothing major, though. I've just been moving at a slower pace for the last week and a half or so.   A slower pace, I fear, than life really allows right now, but it is what it is.

Not that I have been a couch potato by any means. In the last two weeks I've put around 850 miles on the car. And last week was, for me, a low mileage week. But I've just been having a hard time cramming 30 hour days into the 24 hour days we are given. I've been having to hit the pause button from time to time. I've been having to behave like a mortal. Damn it.

 

So I am doing things like today, taking a slow morning, watching some Daily Show clips and writing a bit. Later on I need to go check in with a charitable organization about getting my power bill paid before it is shut off.   Then I need to go visit a friend at the VA who is dying from cancer.   Vague plans have also been made involving grocery runs store and helping a friend pick up some of his things from his ex-girlfriend's place. I suspect that only one of these chores, the most important, will be accomplished today. Yesterday, tomorrow and Friday were and are set aside for Beaverton family issues. Those runs tend to fill most of my day up by the time I drive out and back.   It is not, by any means, a slow week, but it is only Wednesday morning and I already feel like this week is a wash when it comes to other, critical tasks that I need to accomplish.

 

But the main thing I need to accomplish in life right now is getting back to work. And in this area, my efforts have been severely lacking. I can blame family issues, internet issues, and other fires that have needed attention before commencing with a full time job search, but I do not feel that these excuses really explain my slacking in this department. Life has been busy, and my endurance has been low, and my access to the internet has been limited during my "free" time, but this is a crucial task that I need to get started on.

 

I've been feeling a bit frustrated and down the last couple weeks, and I know that not starting the job hunt is the main reason. I feel a bit stalled in life. Until I returned from California, of course, the time just wasn't yet right for me to return to work, but now it is. It is the vital next step in getting my life put back together after the health issues that derailed me for two years. It is also, after a month of reviewing the difficult family situation, where I can help there the most. Once I get back to work I will have the ability to make longer term plans with the family and I will, hopefully, have a little bit of cash to help out here and there and to get the boys out and about more.

 

At this point, I am really not even looking at getting started on this project until the weekend, but at that point, it really needs to become the top priority in life. This may mean being less available to the family for awhile, at least until I get really entrenched in this project, but I need to make it happen.

 

Still, I cannot beat myself up about taking so long to get started on this. I knew, when I returned from California, that it would probably take two or three weeks to get started on this new phase in my life, and, at this point, halfway through my fourth week home, I suppose I am only a few days behind my original schedule. What a sin. Still, life has been so busy that it feels like I have been back a lot longer than I really have been and that I am further behind schedule than I really am.

 

And the "distractions" I have been dealing with since my return have been pretty major, and there have been some solid accomplishments. While I feel that the situation with the family is still pretty bad, I do feel that I have been able to put together a clear view of what is going on over there and to come up with a solid definition of what my role can be moving forward there. It is a difficult role, relying more on inaction rather than action, but after much prayer, meditation and talk with others, I feel it is the healthiest for me and for the family. I need to focus on making my home the healthiest it can be for when the boys are with me, and I can help out over there when and how I am asked, and that is just about it.

 

Another big change in life is that, last week, I picked up a, so far, part-time, temporary roommate. This has been a very good situation for both of us. He is a fellow that I've been working with in the recovery community and, to this point, this new arrangement has been working out very well for both of us (for me, at least, I hope he feels the same). He has been helping me get caught up on a couple chores, helping out with some expenses where he can, and just having someone around helps keep me focused on life. The latter is huge. It will probably be another week before we look at how to work the boys into this situation but, for right now, I feel this is only a temporary delay in our weekends and the benefits, for me, perhaps selfishly, out weigh the cost of this two week interruption with the boys. Essentially, when it comes down to it, I cannot afford this place completely on my own right now, and it has come time to accept that I need some more help, even if it is slight, if I want to continue living here. God provided.

 

So, life is moving in the right directions. My return from California marked a huge transition between phases of life for me. While transitions can be touchy areas in my life, this one has been a good one and the new shape of life that is emerging is a very good one. It is still a work in progress, of course, but life always is, at least if we are growing. And if we are not growing we are dying.

 

It is time for another small transition in life. I do feel like, after three and a half weeks, that I am settled back into home now. I've settled into the family situation in Beaverton and I've settled back into my roles in the local recovery community. The foundations are laid and are solid. So now it is time to move ahead into Phase IV of my plan to take over the world, so to speak. It is time to get back to work. And with the work I have done since my return, I feel like I am in a really strong place as I move forward into this next phase of my life.

 

Now, if I could only figure out how to squeeze another six to eight hours out of every day...

 

Of course, I just got a call that Jason needs to be picked up from school and Jenna is not available, so today just got a bit fuller...


Related Posts

Powerlessness and Unmanageability; Fear and Faith...

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (March 3, 2011, 9:58 AM)

The last few days I have been feeling very overwhelmed and a little down. I've been focusing a lot on what I haven't been able to do and not on what I have been able to do and what I can do. This funk has extended across all the boundaries in my life, from recovery to family to work (which is looking for work right now). Last night, surrounded by good friends, I heard something that reminded me of some basic principals that I have been neglecting the last few days, and afterwards, I felt much better.

I had to sit down and take a look at some fundamentals. Have I been doing the next right thing as it comes along? Yes, I have. This is not always what I plan, since when I make plans, God laughs, but I have been doing the next right thing as life is presented to me. I've been able to help my family a bit, I've been able to help some people in recovery a bit, I've been getting a few basics taken care of in my life. I have been clean and sober. I have been sane. All of these are good things and I should take none of them lightly or for granted, I should be thankful for them. To paraphrase the Sheen, I've been winning.

Have I been caught up in self-will, or have I been trying to follow God's plan for me to the best of my ability, thinking of what I could do for others, of what I "could pack into the stream of life?" Here, too, I feel I pass the test well. While I have taken some time over the past week or so to take care of my own health and sanity, a couple naps, a couple long walks, and a couple hours in the hills taking pictures and decompressing, my life over this period has been all about helping others, primarily my family and others in the recovery community. While right now the work with my family is very frustrating, my work within the recovery community has been very rewarding. Sometimes I worry that I put these people too far ahead of myself, and that is a danger, but this work is also very selfish in some ways, it is the core of the recovery program that makes everything in my life possible. Without it, I can easily get lost in much darker territory than the little funk I've been wandering through the last few days.

Most of this funk, I can see, has come about from forgetting a couple key principals of my life, primarily that I am powerless and that life is unmanageable for any human power, including my own. Instead of surrendering, doing the next right thing, and letting God lead me, I've been bucking the reigns a bit and this has created the feelings of frustration that have been creeping up on me recently.

Yesterday, I had plans that I could not follow through on because they were not the next right thing to do, picking my kid up from school and helping out in Beaverton were the plans God made for me. Yesterday, I was frustrated because my family does not follow or, apparently, value my advice or parenting experience with my children, nor do they seem to value or follow the advice of the many years worth of counselors, therapists, and doctors who have been involved. But all of that is beyond my control. I can not change them or control them, I only have power over my own actions and my reactions in those situations. I have to, as they say, "let go and let God..."

Another element I have been dealing with is fear. Quite a bit of it, in fact. Fear over my finances, fear about the welfare of my children, fear over my own personal security at home and the ability to keep it safe and sane (essentially, security, safety, and sanity here being defined as keeping the lights on, food in the fridge, and the rent paid). I need to combat that fear with faith, and action. Of course, it is the action part that has been kicking me in the ass. I've been trying to get some things done in this department, and I have done what I could, for the most part, as I could. But I fear that it is not enough or that it is too little too late. I fear that if I ask for help it will be denied, or that the cost of the help will be intolerable, so I run the risk of procrastination. I may have some difficult choices to make today, and I fear choices… Choices are dangerous things for me that must be handled with much caution (and only with prayer, meditation, and council with others).

So, while I feel I have been doing the best I can in the action department, I have been lacking a bit of faith here, and this has been taking its toll on me. And this, really, lies at the root of everything I've been going through for the past week or so. I've been lacking faith in myself, in others, and in God. I've been letting fear seep in, tainting my days, and I've been letting it distract me from faith. I've been lowering the white flag, and seeing life as a battle to be won, not as a path to be followed. I've been trying to navigate that path according to my own will instead of following it to its inevitable destinations.

When I grab the map and start charting my own course, I lead myself and others into trouble. Things can get pretty bad, pretty quick. For the most part, I have not done this recently, but I've been fighting the urge to grab the map and to take charge. If I truly have surrendered my will and my life to a power greater than myself, then I need to have faith, and take comfort, in the assurance that God is leading me to exactly where he needs me right now. I may not like that place, it may not be the most comfortable place, it might not be where I want to be right now, but it will be where I need to be right now. His will, not mine…

Time to start today.

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On Parenting: The Perils of Friendly Negotiations

 

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (March 15, 2011 2:07 PM)


The following was written after reading an article on npr.org, “Experiencing Teen Drama Overload? Blame Biology” by Patti Neighmond.

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129150658&sc=fb&cc=fp

 

Really excellent article.  I think the section on girls has some good information about being a mother, regardless if they have a son or a daughter (still, thank God I have boys), and I really liked the section about boys.  I already see these some of these patterns emerging in my eleven year old, though he is a lot more sensitive than a lot of boys his age. 

One of the real keys I've found as a parent, so far, and the first few paragraphs of the article reminded me of this, is how important it is to remember that we must be parents first, friends second.  This does not mean that we cannot be friends, or friendly, but that if we focus too much on being friends, it becomes really difficult to be the parent.  It can be confusing, difficult, and painful for both the parent and for the child when we have to suddenly stop being a friend and switch over into the parent role, making and enforcing rules or imposing discipline.  If this foundation within the family is laid wrong, if the priorities are misaligned and healthy family roles are not established, then suddenly, when we have to act as a parent, not as a friend, it feels like a betrayal, to both parent and child, and complicates difficult situations immensely.   

However, I find, when this foundation has been laid properly, we are actually able to be better friends with our kids.  When we are friends before parents, when we do, inevitably, have to take on the parent role and these feelings of betrayal come into play, our set family roles are shattered and trust is destroyed.  But when our roles in the family are built on healthy models, we can go back and forth between the roles of parent and friend much easier, and the trust is always there. 

Also, when we are parents first and friends second, there is a level of respect between the parent and child that actually helps reduce the number of conflicts that arise between the two.  When a friend tells a friend to, say, go clean his room, it seems silly and unimportant.  Then we get frustrated when the child does not take our instructions seriously, and the child gets frustrated when we enforce our demands.  We think, "Why do we have to tell him to do this three or four times and finally have to threaten discipline to get the kid to do anything?"  Meanwhile, the kid is thinking, "What's the big deal and why is Mom or Dad suddenly making a big deal out of it?" 

One thing I think about a lot regarding this issue is that relationships between friends are essentially based on negotiation, as in, "let's play the game I want to play first, then we can play the game you want to play," while in parent-child relationships, negotiation must play a lesser role, and when it comes to the child's health and safety, there is often no room for any negotiation at all.  I notice that parents whose balance between friend and parent is out of whack often get very frustrated because too much of what they ask or tell their child to do ends up being some great negotiation, spanning the distance between the kid saying, "I'll do it later," through to, "I'll do it only if you…" - the big, "what's in it for me" deal.  Bickering, arguing, and fighting often ensues.  These stresses then go on to actually undermine the friendship between a parent and child.  This is another way that, by trying to be a friend first and a parent second, we actually make it harder to be a friend to our children.

Of course, all of these things are going to happen from time to time between parents and children even if our balance is properly maintained.  The issues discussed in the article and the excerpt are always going to pop up- it is all part of growing up, both as a child and as a parent.  In the end, though, because of the challenges we face moving into the tween and teen years, I do believe that it is vitally important to have our family roles properly in place for when these issues arise.  Every little thing we can do to smooth out these challenging years for our kids works towards keeping the tough times from becoming disastrous times.

August 17, 2010

Revised: March 15, 2011


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What is a home...

 

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (March 18, 8:12 PM)

Home… A home is not stuff in a place.
It is not Internet access or Cable TV.
It is not furniture.
It is not a pool or a fireplace.
It is not movies.
It is not washers and dryers.
It is trust and faith and love.
It is purity of self; mind and body.
It is security, safety and
wubbies.
It is love.
Home is love.

Home is where we ask, “Are you OK?” before we ask, “Where were you?”
Home is where we feel bad for others before we feel bad for ourselves.
Home is where we run to, not where we run from.
Home is where the boys cry because they will miss their Nana, not because they do not want to be in their own house.

I first wrote and posted this in December of 2004.  I reposted it in October of 2009.  I think it is worth posting again now...  Not a poem, just a doodle.

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When a slump is not a slump but just a break...


Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (March 19, 2011 11:34 AM)


Note:  November 20, 2011, 6:55 PM
Been working on tweaking and changing some of the tools I use to post, and the new method makes it very easy to migrate posts from one blog to another.  Eventually, I would like to move everything over here from the old LJ blog, but that is not a huge priority right now.
However, working on the system for doing that, I did want to move a few over tonight.  I posted a couple on their original publication date and posted a few for tonight.
In the future, I will probably just sneak most of them in behind the current posts on their original date.
I will also be working on a couple years worth of posts that were pulled down off of Rubble when it was repurposed and never put up anywhere else, the new SE2 or the old.


So I have definitely been feeling like I've been in a bit of a slump this week. I've been stressed about this and that and I've been worried that I am falling behind on my plans in life. Of course, this is mostly just my own fears, but I have to be careful that I am not making excuses to go "hermit" again.

Today the sun is out, though, and I am feeling the call to get outside. After being stuck at my desk in my little office nook in my bedroom for the better part of the last week, it is time to get outside. Also, after a week of battling the slow internet at my place and my slow computer, I finally got those issues resolved a bit yesterday and was able to knock down a big, overdue project so I am feeling pretty accomplished this morning.

Overall, life is looking all right at this point. Today is looking really good. And, over all, I have little to complain about. This is why the feeling that I've been in a slump bothers me a little.

I think it has mostly been due to the fact that life has just been very crazy for the last six months or so. It has been full of major life changes, long periods out of town, major family health issues, and, I believe, that last week everything just caught up with me and I needed a bit of a break. But now I have had one and it is time to get back into the swing of things in life.

God willing, there are more changes on the horizon. A return to the workforce. Steady employment and pay... these are the next steps on the agenda. I need to get in and to take care of a medication issue first, one involving the health issues that took me out of the workforce two plus years ago, but that does not mean that it is not time to start getting my resume out there again. It is not an excuse to put off starting this process.

The work I accomplished this week, chained to my desk, was actually the first steps towards eventual employment. I spent a lot of time revamping my personal web life. Getting some things organized. I still have some work to accomplish here, I still need to update my portfolio and find a good corner of the web to hang that shingle, but that is actually work I look forward to.

Just sitting down and spending many hours this last week working on some of these things was actually a great start, getting me back in the habit of working at home. It was an important step in gearing up for what needs to be my full time job for a while, finding employment.

But there are other fears I need to conquer here, primarily the two years I have not been working. For most of that time, I would have qualified for Social Security Disability, but I was more focused on getting myself and my family healthy than on bureaucratic acrobatics. Being on SSDI might have helped me to explain the gap in my resume to potential future employers, but maybe it won't make a difference at all.

A year ago I prematurely started looking for work and I had some solid leads and interviews for a couple technical writing positions. At that point, due to the job market, no one even blinked at me being out of work since late 2008. But a year later? I am not so sure. Looking for work in the manufacturing sector doesn't hurt this explanation, that there was just no work to be found. But, in my case, that explanation has very little to do with the real reasons why I was out of work for so long, coping with and getting treatment for some severe health issues on my end and working with my family on some pretty heavy issues on the other end.

While in California, I started future tripping on the job hunt. I need to get back towards the faith I found then when dealing with these fears. I realized a couple months ago that my job hunt is in God's hands, not mine. I am responsible for making the effort and God is responsible for the result. I need to set aside my fears that hiring managers will not take my resume seriously, that the gap in my employment will derail any attempts to return to my field of expertise, that I will end up working in a job I hate, or that I will be forced to take some menial job "below" me somewhere just to pay my bills.

But, really, all of these fears are beyond my control. I am willing to take just about anything for work, whatever I can find. Of course, I hope to return to the field I left in 2008, but if I cannot, then I am fine with that (relatively). I just want to work. And I will not know anything about my current options until I start getting some resumes out there, until I start following up on some of the leads that I've been finding. The fear I am struggling with regarding what sort of job I will be able to get is going nowhere until I actually start looking for work.

And since the result of this effort is in God's hands, not mine, I can use faith to battle these fears as well. Sure, my brain goes straight to some hiring manager looking at my resume and laughing, but so what? I need to put myself out there to get anything. I look at it this way, I will end up in whatever job God sees fit to provide for me. If it is the next step ahead in the career I took a break from in 2008, then that is great. If it is stocking shelves in a warehouse, than I have to accept that too. I think of Moses and the Pharaoh, with the Pharaoh's heart being hardened by God against setting free the Israelites. When I've applied for the job I am meant to have, God will soften the hiring manager's heart and I will get the job, no matter what it is, whether I will like it or not. It will be what God intends for me at this point in my life.

But God can't do much if I am not getting my resume out there. So it is time to do my part.

This long digression is meant to provide some background on my worries about the possible, recent slump I've been going through. I've been concerned that I haven't started on the job hunt in any real way over the last couple of weeks, but this is not entirely true. Most of my time this week was spent leveling the ground for this project. Getting the site prepared. Next, it is time to start on the foundations, cleaning up my resume and getting my profiles on the job hunting sites freshened up. After that, only then is it time to start submitting resumes and really focusing on the search. It is a process, and I have started it.

So, my fears that I have been procrastinating and letting fear shut me down are really just that, only fears. This fear has made me feel a little uneasy the last couple weeks, but that was also due to some legitimate fatigue and a need to slow life down a bit. But it is good that I do have these fears, they help to keep me from making my fears a reality.

I just need to be honest with myself about what I am and am not doing with my time, and I need to understand what my capabilities are at the moment. I need to keep moving ahead, in a sane and sober fashion, and I need to make sure that my foundations are solid as I continue rebuilding my life.

Time to get out in the sun, that is enough of this for now.


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Who's counting anyway?

The manufactured on date stamp on my old Dell, the original frankenPC. One day older than The Big One!                 From 2011-06 (Jun)

Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (March 27, 2011 11:36 AM)

Working on my old, 11 year old Dell (it is almost exactly the same age as my 6th grader), and an old Quit Counter popped up from a failed attempt at quitting smoking several years ago.  It congratulated me on hitting a milestone of not smoking 68,500 cigarettes since I "quit." 

Other statistics it is offering me:

Aaron - Free and Healing for Four Years, Eight Months, Eight Days, 12 Hours and 23 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 237 Days and 20 Hours, by avoiding the use of 68501 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $11,401.17.

These days it is that last statistic that really gets to me.  I cannot afford this vice anymore.  Quitting, again, is in my relatively near future.

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