Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nighean Gheal

Fifteen years are gone:
You  mature so beautifully,
I am quite humbled.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Our innermost souls,
suddenly pierced by events
seek that which matters.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I have an issue with things I cannot control - more specifically, I have an issue with compensating for the things that I cannot control.

There are a great many things I feel that I have no control over in my life.  In fact, these things seem to fill my day every day.  Events I cannot control, things I cannot make happen, tasks that I cannot turn aside from - every day and every week, a life full of that which is not controllable.

My solution?  To find those things that I can control in my life - and do those.

The issue, of course is that generally such things are not good for one.  They run from the fairly benign (shredding my nails in frustration) to the not really good for me (binging).  They have consequences of course, consequences that I cannot avoid - but I do them anyway.

Why?  Because they are the things that I can control.  They are the things that I can choose or not choose to do (and generally they fall into the "choose category for me) because they are the things that I have power over.   I cannot turn away the task at work that is useless but no-one else will do it.  I can choose to eat or not eat a sugar laden snack.

I am not sure how to remedy this.  The easy answer is "find ways to take more control of more things in your life" - but that seems about as useful telling a penguin to fly:  without the ability to do so the thing becomes impossible.  Yet exerting control in these small things does not do anything for me either - the behaviors are at best not good for me and they do not really solve my underlying problem.

What I want to say the solution is is to find those things that I can control even in the uncontrollable situations and build on those.  I think that is the correct answer - but it does not feel like it resolves anything.  How do I find a sense of moving forward in the midst of small tasks in the midst of larger items?

A thought to ponder for the day:  Are all situations truly beyond my control?  Or is just some?  And if some, why or why not?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Burying The Dead

I need to bury the dead.

I realized it yesterday when I was having a conversation with some fellow coworkers about my former boss, who was caught in Hammer Fall II.  As we got to talking, we moved from the foibles that all boss (including myself) seem to have to a certain level of bitterness which was evident to the point that one of coworkers made the comment "I detect a note of satisfaction in your speech."  I thought for a moment and said that after getting the bus run over head enough times and being undercut it was difficult not to be too upset.

And then I realized I had to let him go.

I have conflicted feelings about him.  He was not a bad person, especially outside of work.  Certainly he only wanted to do what was right and best for the company.  And yet of all the managers I have had, his was the most fractious and least productive relationship I have had.  Of all my managers, his is the only example I can think of for what not to be like.  And even though I should not, I still let the bitterness from various incidents and comments in my review live in my brain:  Advancement may have been delayed, perhaps now  made unattainable, because of the fact that (at least from his perspective) he based as much of his response to me on the fact that I did not humbly acquiesce to his will without question.  I may never be able to resolve all of the issues that his decisions or lack of will have left behind.

But I need to let go.  For better or worse, he is gone never to return while I carry my anger and bitterness and rage with me as if he were still present and I had another staff meeting coming up.  Really I should be working on forgiveness - right now I would just settle for a tamping down of the virulence in my soul.

Why?  Because now I have tied myself to him - or rather, to his memory.  It is as if took the corpse to a grave and laid it there, buried it, and then continued to walk around as if I still had it on my back.  Once the dead are buried, it makes no sense to continue to act as if they are still alive, nor to carry their weight.  The stream of time has moved on; it is only I that continue to keep myself in that place.

"De mortuis nihil non est nisi bonum" - Speak nothing but good of the dead, said the Romans.

Or perhaps, better not to speak of some dead at all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Job Change and Excuses III

So we have established that the thought of a job change is heavy on my mind.  We have also established the fact that the true reason I do not seem to want to do it is not for lesser reasons that can be resolved but that I have an image in my mind of how I view myself - a beggar pleading for a career rather than someone confidently making a career and being a valued resource.

How does one find this confidence?

It is not as if this is an unsolvable problem.  I have plenty of friends I know that have done this:  Miss C with her art or Himself with Real Estate or friends that have gone on to consulting jobs in companies they have founded.  People I know have done this - why cannot I visualize the much less difficult task of simply confidently looking for a new job?

Is it the system?  Sure, the job search system as it currently exists does not help.  One becomes a faceless number submitting a form - and even if one is fortunate enough to land an interview, one finds more often that not that a follow up is never given - more often than not, unless you get the position you never know that you did not get the position.

And there is always a high sense of competition in the interview process - not just that you are trying to do well but that you are competing with others not just on experience, but on price and your location.  To me it really does feel like you are are in a competition.  And if an competition long enough without results, you begin to suffer doubt.

So how does one overcome this?  Some thoughts:

1)  Remember:  Remember what you have done in which you have been successful.  For me, I have that string of things in recent history - Iaijutsu, Heavy Athletics- things where I have succeeded in learn to do something and accomplishing something.  If I have done it once, I can repeat the experience.

2)  Support:  Part of any successful effort is the people that one surrounds themselves with.  I am fortunate in that I have found activities where such support is readily found - Highland Athletes are by far the most supportive group I have met in a long time and my iaijutsu training partners give me confidence in areas where I feel week.  But I realize now it is just not enough to surround yourself with them - you need to engage their active support as well.  The reality is that most people are willing to be quite supportive but they can only so when they know there is a need.  Do not be afraid to ask.

3)  Fix:  Fix those things you can control.  If there is a skill to learn, learn it - now more than any other time in history the knowledge is available and the concept of self taught is not something that puts people off.'

4)  Be confident:  This is the hardest thing of all for me - but the most important.  If I do not believe in myself, no one can really believe in me either.  There is an aura of one that is self confident that is hard to define but easy to recognize, a sense of "I can do this - and if I cannot do it here, I will do it somewhere else.   My value rests with me, not with your opinion of me."  Believing this turns the most cringing of individuals into the most confident of interviewees or one who can face an uncertain future with the confidence that they can make their way through it.

The reality is that what I feel is not forced on me by anyone else.  I am saddling myself with it.  But if I put it on myself, then I have the power to take it off again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Job Change And Excuses II

Why do I make excuses for why I cannot - or will not - look for a new career?  This is the outcome of my pondering on yesterday's consideration and going through the process of living through my day at work.

What are my excuses?

- Money, of course.  As Pioneer Preppy pointed out so well yesterday, money is a huge consideration.  The thought of disrupting the money flow is a terrifying thought at the best of times, and as The Firm proved, making a bad decision about money can haunt you for years after the decision both financially and personally.

- Experience.  I argue with myself that I have "invested" 16 plus years in my current line of work and starting from the bottom again will just be an exercise in futility that I do not want to undertake for a second time.

- Difficulty.  Yes, it is hard to find a new career field.  Lots of searching, lots of applying, lots of rejections.

But in writing them out, those are pretty tame excuses considering my rising level of unhappiness.  Not enough money?  Find a way to make more.  Not enough experience?  Be creative - how does your current experience level translate into other areas - or simply learn new skills.  Difficulty?  Sure, it is difficult - but lots of things that I have done in my life are difficult.  What is my point?

The last is the most telling to me.  Difficult.  But I have done many difficult things - I have sung in front of people, performed on the harp, created and written four books, wrote 50,000 words in 30 days, learned a sword art form, and competed in Highland Athletics.  Any one of those things could be considered difficult - yet I have done them all.

It comes down to self belief.

I do not believe that I can do this thing.  That is what it is.  I do not have the internally energizing belief that I can find a new line of work - or even create one for myself.  Always in the back of my mind I see myself as the one with my hand out, begging for a job rather than being desired for one.

How did I end up with such an image in my head?  Years of the job process I suppose, always applying for multiple jobs while hoping against hope that someone will say yes, that someone will beneficently agree that you are the one.  But in every other example I listed there was no deus ex machina which made it happen. Yes, I have had more help in each of those things than I could have ever dreamed off.   But that help would not have made a difference - indeed, would not have been offered - unless I made the effort to do the activity, and believed that I could.

So there is the key - changing my image from a beggar pleading for a career to someone confidently making a career and being a valued resource.

How does one make this happen?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Job Change and Excuses

The thought of changing jobs keeps haunting my mind.

It occurred again last night when I was tying up the final edits of my next manuscript, waiting for it to upload to CreateSpace.  I reminded myself again how much I really enjoy writing (no idea if I am any good at it, but I sure do enjoy it). And then I started going through my list of things that I want to be about this year:  two more books, more Highland Games, more God, more Japanese, more Iaijutsu, more gardening and cheese making and mead making, more family.

You will notice what is missing from that list of course.  My current employment.

I keep trying to nudge myself that way subconsciously - and then I keep beating myself back, convincing myself that such a thing is impossible.  As if my most recent manuscript was not about self imposed limitations (which it is).  Just like I thought that Highland Athletics were impossible - until they were not.  And writing was - until it was not.

It comes down to that self confidence thing that has bedeviled me for year.  A man without self confidence will not do many things if even he can.  The man with self confidence will do many things even if he does not know how at the moment.

And a priority.  I need to make it priority. Yes, I know that I love to do these things and yes, I know that career changes are never much fun, but what I am finding is that I am subconsciously burying this desire to move on by not making any attempt to change anything.  "It's not the right time"  I tell myself, "I do not know where to begin."  Silly when I type it out of course, because there really is no better time than right now to start anything.

It comes down to this:  if you do not love what you do, why are you doing it?  Or more precisely, what excuses are you giving as to why you cannot change?