What can $450 do?

I’ve taken about 75% of the career coaching courses and have reviewed the first draft of my new resume, along with a few paragraphs of notations. (Please see my last post.) My biggest takeaway is that I spent $450 to realize that I am not a career-oriented person.

I don’t understand the trending lingo or the need to prove my productivity using percentages and values I don’t have access to (although my wife says to just make it up). I don’t hold any specialty certifications, nor do I have any accomplishments I can apparently quantify in a resume that will stand out among the masses. However, I’m confident in my ability to speak and relate to people. All I need is a real conversation.

But the thing is ~ I’m not built to be married to a career, nor am I highly motivated to drastically increase the revenue streams of the already well-off. The truth is I’d rather use that energy to build something for myself, like building my Davis Made brand and expanding brick-and-mortar sales locations. Or, engage in an activity that creates a tangible result, such as having our vegetable garden supply all of the veggies we need to eat for the year, or ridding our house of the dust and spiderwebs. It took me $450 to realize how unmotivated I am to fuel the dreams of others when I have my own agenda.

Being as productive as I have been for so many years, it’s a bit of a shock for me to realize that a standard career isn’t what I want. I’m going to continue to work on sharpening my resume, learning about myself and figuring out what it is that I want. I know what I don’t want – and that’s to be caught up in the rat race where all that matters is money.

So I’m chewing on all of this and likely will for a bit. Almost like Facebook is listening to my inner-most thoughts, I ran across this art installation entitled “Can’t Help Myself” while scrolling today:

A more formal take on this piece can be found HERE.

It feels like it was on purpose that I stumbled across this when I did. It’s haunting, beautiful, and so relevant in how I see people managing their lives while trying to find a balance between that life and what needs to be done to afford it. I’ve wasted so much energy in my adulthood chasing things that didn’t matter and giving people who didn’t deserve it access to me, much like this machine spending years trying to keep its shit together, only to not even need any of that shit ~ because it ran on electricity, not on the fluid it was programmed to try and keep pushing into itself to survive.

So, what can one buy with $450? I can tell you what I’m beginning to see I bought – realizations about myself and my goals. Fuel for my journaling. The understanding that, career-wise, I may be a square peg in a world of round holes. Motivation and inspiration to grow and learn more about the things that bring me happiness. The clarity of what my priorities are and the beginnings of brainstorming of how I can preserve them better in a world that is constantly pushing and pulling at my concentration.

“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.” – Marie Kondo

The past couple of weeks have been challenging for me because I fell into a cycle of restlessness and interrupted sleep patterns. As mentioned in my last post, sleep deprivation increases my anxiety and my anxiety increases my sleep deprivation.

In these cycles, I begin to fixate on things. I refer to it as “spinning” because the same handful of thoughts will circulate around until something breaks it. The interruption can be as simple as acknowledging it out loud it or taking action. An example of the latter would be if there’s a project left unfinished…just finish it. Even if that project isn’t a priority or even a part of what is bothering you, sometimes completing that one thing feels like a balm on a rash.

So when I began my spinning, I also began my plan of actions.

Although I can’t attack all of my stressors at once, I pick something I can accomplish. Last weekend I finished the majority of decluttering my closet and drawers. I donated a large tote of clothing, shoes, and miscellaneous household goods to my local Salvation Army and kept a small stash of items to resell. Just like most people tend to do, I accumulate items I don’t really need or obtain joy from. A significant part of the prior weekend was making the decision of what to keep and what to pass on.

The result? A much smaller choice of items in my wardrobe which feels like a breath of fresh air, with plenty of room to get creative with each piece’s versatility.

So, this action took care of a physical need. Now on to a mental one.

At times, these spin cycles make me question if I am leading the life I want to lead. This current cycle is one of those. I have had…what can only be scientific classified as…a metric fuck ton…of work stress. This has me questioning if my current field of work is healthy for me or has it become too much. Has the nature of my job changed or have I? [Answer: it’s likely a bit of both.]

Again, I chose to take action. I’m working with a professional resume-writing and career coaching company to revamp and revive my career goals. While it may be taboo to be sharing this because a co-worker or one of my bosses could read this, I am choosing to take this decision as a positive one. I’ve been in my career for just over 17 years and it seems logical that one could feel a bit stale. If I am to stay in my industry, I need to be re-energized and working with a coach can help me re-evaluate my skills and set career goals. As in, sometimes we need an outside source to remind us of what we bring to the table and what we have the potential to bring.

Alternatively, if I do begin a different path, I need to see how my experience translates with the current trends and the confidence to take that leap. This is why I feel my decision to work with a professional on this is a win/win situation. No matter the outcome, it should improve my situation. Instead of sitting in that pool of frustration, I’m doing something about it and, as it usually does, it’s gotta start from within.

If you can relate to any of this, please leave me a comment below! If you feel comfortable, share a way you get through your ‘spin’ cycles. One thing I love about blogging is that we never know who is reading. We never know if our one tip or piece of advice can be a saving grace for another.

Sleepy Time Routines & Striving for Peace

For years, I’ve been yearning for a life free of prescriptive and/or addictive substances that act as a substitute for sleep, peace, and calm. I am not convinced that struggle and hardships beget success, that a person’s worth depends on their level of productivity, or that anyone should eat, sleep, breathe their ‘grind’ in order to achieve goals. I used to think those things and they are likely a contributor to depression and anxiety in my adult life.

I occasionally have trouble sleeping which has been a double-edged sword for me. If I don’t sleep enough, my anxiety is worse. If my anxiety is bad, I can’t sleep. I have a hard time functioning.

In the spirit of openness, I have a prescription for anti-anxiety medication and am largely caffeine-free because it has only served to heighten my anxiety over the years. I also believe in examining my lifestyle and seeing where there can be improvement. I’ve read about how I shouldn’t scroll on my phone or watch T.V. before bed – about how I should find myself a sleep routine that trains my body and brain to realize when it should begin shutting off for the night.

So, here I am, fully settled into a sleep routine that I LOVE. Here’s what I do every night:

First, because it’s still chilly at night, I turn my heated blanket on.

Second, I spray my bedsheets and comforter with THIS room spray.

Third, I lather my hands with THIS lotion.

[Do you sense a theme?]

It’s all about the smell! I’ve fallen in love with lavender fragrance. It is peaceful, calm, soothing and it gets me in the mood to snuggle in and relax. There’s nothing like snuggling my head into my pillow with all the good smells. Do I look at my phone after that? Sometimes, but I do prefer to read a book until my eyes become tired and my mind quiet.

This is what inspired my latest works, which are now available on my website. Something as small as a scent can transform a mood – and, if you’re like me, perhaps even some lavender could help ease you into a more relaxed state. All you have to add to each of these reed diffusers is the essential oil fragrance that puts you in the best and most relaxed mindset.

…and from here, I can continue my baby steps toward figuring out how to cultivate more peace in my life.

Untangling feelings about convenience.

Up until recently, I attributed my dislike of anything convenient to my modest upbringing. As I work toward shedding thought patterns that no longer serve me, I have to wonder if that’s true or is it just an attitude I developed to soothe me when I perceived I lacked something.

The thing is – conveniences that ease certain tasks can help reduce stress. I’ve been slow at learning this; however, I’ve made some purchases in the past 6 months that have helped my small business. If time is money (and personally, I feel time is more valuable than money), then upgrading and streamlining processes is worthwhile.

The best purchase I’ve made for my business (besides replacing an old computer) is my thermal label printer.

Jadens BlueTooth Thermal Label [click to see on Amazon.]

Before buying this, it was a struggle to print labels wirelessly from my phone to my standard printer. My old desktop computer was not compatible with the standard printer…so when I couldn’t get my phone to send the info to the printer, I’d have to e-mail the label to my wife and have her print them or I’d print them at work. It was entirely too fussy and annoying. Printing off a shipping label should be the easiest part of online sales.

Jadens BlueTooth Thermal Printer enters the chat and shipping has been an absolutely breeze since then! I downloaded the app on my phone and it automatically connects me to the thermal printer and, within 3 seconds, I have a label ready to go! It has been much more convenient for me and I love the fact that I will never have to buy ink. $159.99 and one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I purchased another item along with this printer and it is a…

Shipping Scale [click link to see on Amazon]

…a real shipping scale! Before this, I would occasionally lose money on shipping because I was using a food scale that was not entirely accurate. I’ve had zero problems in that regard using this $19.99 scale.

I’m learning there is no shame in having things that make tasks more convenient. It doesn’t make me spoiled, entitled, better than anyone else, lazy, or soft. These two items save me frustration, time, stress, and money and I would recommend them to anyone who sells items online – whether it be secondhand or handmade items.

Shying away from items of convenience has been my M.O. in adulthood and I’ve always attributed it to how money was viewed during my adolescent. But I think this is an attitude and mindset that I created and it is certainly one I can abolish.

Looking in the mirror: Hushing my inner critic

**explanation at the bottom of post**

In my quest to get to know myself better and heal the things that need healing…I’ve moved on to the Throat Chakra and am taking my time with it.

There was a chapter in my life where I was boisterously outspoken. On the positive end, I appeared fun and confident. On the negative, I was a gigantic bitch with a chip on her shoulder. No one [my age] may have guessed that my inner dialog was unpleasant, but maybe all those more experienced than I saw through my bravado. Regardless of how much I loved to fight, I’d never have spoken to anyone the way I was speaking to myself on a daily basis.

While I outwardly calmed down in my 30’s, my inner voice became harsher. I’m older. Weary. Less sure about the world around me and what I know as truth. The truth is fluid and largely dependent on one’s perspective – given this, my hunger for debates or arguments has waned.

With the world as confusing and complicated that it is, the least I can do is not beat myself up over who I think I should be or what I think I should say and do. I can forgive all the faux pas that taught me so much and I can stop talking to myself like I’m a gigantic, incompetent asshole. This is what I’m currently working on – flipping the script and talking to myself lovingly, with honor and respect.

**Okay, so what’s up with the photo? These are 3 of the 6 Throat Chakra themed candles I made for The Grounded Goddess shop on Jay Street, Schenectady. I’m enjoying making Chakra candles that walk side-by-side with my journey.

Healing and getting to know myself – starting at the Root.

I can pinpoint exactly when my life shifted into a better gear: it was the morning immediately after I attended the journaling and meditation workshop I mentioned HERE. I woke up early and the first thing I did was reach for a recently gifted journal to write.

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t just recording events or ranting – I was diving into something much deeper. I didn’t know it right then and can’t realize the full extent of it now, but I can see and feel the rippling effects of it. Journaling has helped me begin the process of getting to know myself.

I also purchased a beginner’s book called “The Ultimate Guide to Chakras” by Athena Perrakis, Ph. D. , as these were mentioned in the workshop and I was curious. I had been feeling emotionally off-balance for so long and didn’t want to go back to relying on pharmaceuticals to reconnect. The book starts with the Earth Star Chakra and moves upward; the second Chakra being the Root Chakra. This is where the book began making sense to me – when I read the symptoms of an unbalanced Root, I related to them. Using my own words, I was ‘spinning in circles’ with just about everything, unsettled in my relationships with others, wildly swinging between joy and despair, and frustrated with feelings of lack of progress, no matter how hard I tried.

While I’ve since moved on with my learning of the Chakras, I wanted to celebrate the progress I am making in getting to know myself, plugging back in to my life, and finding the ground. I wanted to revisit the Root Chakra with my latest series of candles for the Grounded Goddess in Schenectady.

Browns to represent the earth, with flashes of vibrant red for strength. The candles are scented with clove, which is said to be protective, an attraction of what you seek, and helps to connect with feelings of love and safety from childhood (says Athena Perrakis, Ph.D, in The Ultimate Guide to Chakras, pg. 51). Lastly, these candles will be topped with tumbled red jasper pieces.

I can’t express how much better I’ve been feeling since that day where I picked up my journal and began. I look forward to writing – to finding a deeper understanding of myself which, in turn, has helped me give others a bit more grace. I feel like I’m making progress, while realizing the journey is on-going.

“Are you a celebrity or something?” Thoughts about champagne and celebrating the small things.

Earlier this year I ran into a co-worker at a liquor store on a Friday evening. Besides “hello”, the first thing he said to me was “Are you a celebrity or something?”, as he noticed I was leaving with a bottle of champagne. I responded that I was celebrating the fact that it was Friday.

I’ve gotten big into celebrating the small things. Made it to the end of the week? High five! Got dressed and left the house? High five! Didn’t have a total meltdown? High five! Took care of yourself? High five! It’s Friday? Go get yourself a bottle of champagne and enjoy it! This is how I’ve made it through the past year; simply trying to keep a focus on the little victories instead of setbacks or what may be looming in the corridors.

I can’t say what prompted me to consciously start doing this except for my dogged survival instincts. Either way, I do credit it for keeping me sane and optimistic [most of the time – I’m human].

As it turns out, my idea isn’t radical, crazy, or even lacking scientific basis. Just yesterday, I discovered an episode of my favorite podcast discussing a very similar concept – specifically, what happens to your mindset and self-confidence if you high five yourself in the mirror daily for 5 days. You HAVE to listen to this – it’s amazing!

I continue to allow myself to roll around in good things, whether it be as simple as waking up and feeling joyous, taking a step forward and achieving something, or just being. There doesn’t need to always be a reason. I believe in its mind-set transformation.

When I received a request from The Grounded Goddess (Jay Street, Schenectady) for more candles – I was already feeling pulled in the direction of transformation, discovery, and hope. This was the day before I found that podcast episode so I felt like it was absolutely the right message I wanted to share.

I forged a relationship with the owner of The Grounded Goddess when I attended a journaling and meditation workshop there. Shortly after, she purchased a couple of candles from my website and, when I delivered them, I approached her with an idea of my creating a spiritual line of candles for her shop. So, I celebrated not only her purchase from my website, but her acceptance of my offer, my eagerness to expand my horizons and learn more about Chakras, crystals, stones, and myself, and being able to provide 8 candles to start that I was proud of.

I celebrated the sale of the first candle from the shop, and, last night, the sale of the final candle…all as the 7 new candle casts cured. I’m celebrating the new 7 candles today*, which I’ll drop off early this evening, the fact that I took a chance and it’s panning out, that I’m making the time to write this blog post after a few months of silence! I’ll be celebrating inside ~ lettin’ the good vibes flow ~ and will be celebrating outwardly with a yoga class.

*Featured in the photo above are 3 out of the 7 candles I’ve made in the past two days in their first drying stage. I chose to vary the designs of “transform” to be tree-like, simple and minimal. This is because transformation doesn’t always have to be big and noticed by the world. Transformation can be small, a secret. It can be understated and it can be loud. Everyone is different. These candles are all lavender scented and feature crushed amethyst stones across the top ~ calling to your Crown Chakra.

What does healing look like? [A personal reflection.]

While speaking with a close friend, I couldn’t put my finger on a specific reason behind my emotional turbulence. In this past week, I had a day where I emotionally shut down. I left work at 9 a.m., crying, and continued to cry in bed (still in my work clothes) until about noon, with smaller crying spells into the early evening. A couple of days later, I felt extreme anger and frustration. I spoke to strangers and about other people in ways that do not represent who I am. Yesterday I felt nothing at at. Today? Peace. Joy. Contentment.

This is the healing process. This is me healing through my mother’s passing and the stress of her diagnosis in early 2019. Through years before that, making myself sick over what others thought of me. Through treating my body like a dumpster and talking to myself like there is something inherently wrong with me. Through pushing my body to the limits in my early 30’s and acknowledging [today, in my late 30’s] that I really hate conventional exercise and today’s diet culture. Through over-caffeination, late nights, and too much alcohol. Through allowing others to treat me poorly and disrespectfully because I thought any attention was better than none at all. Through the parenting I received and prejudices ingrained in me that are not useful. Through things I have said to others that served no purpose other than to inflame and cause harm.

Although the lows are…low and difficult…without them, there would be no comparison with the highs. I think that’s why there are so many damned articles about how healing IS messy. Without the “mess”, we have nothing to compare to the “clean”. If I wasn’t feeling so many emotions with such intensity, I wouldn’t be considering how I can overcome the obstacles or being present in what I was feeling in the moment.

My healing is a roll of the dice every day for me. To others, it may look like unanswered calls and texts; a sudden disinterested in maintaining a relationship. My healing requires keeping more to myself because I am easily overwhelmed. I am changing my participation level in the busy and distracting world we live in.

As for my distaste of exercise – I spent too many years harping that a certain style was superior than the others. I spent too much time selling and not enough time listening, watching, and learning. I have and still use physical activity as a way to help manage my anxiety levels but I am saying it now, out loud and with conviction, that if I not enjoy the activity, I will not do it. Because consistency is so important, I will not reach my fitness goals if I hate the exercise enough to not be consistent with it.

With that being said and out of the way, I am not holding myself to my 2x a week resistance band training with cardio peppered in. At this point in my life, getting my brain on to a healthier path is my main priority. I am starting from the inside and then will move to the outside. I don’t want to feel like a fitness routine has to be a “go hard or go home!” type thing. I will continue the cardio movements I enjoy (which is primarily outdoor bike riding and the Peloton nature rides when the weather isn’t cooperating) but I am adding yoga to reduce stress, and removing the strength training. I signed up for a yoga course through Peloton and am looking forward to the 20-30 slow, mindful movements. And that’s how I know it is the right thing to do – I am happily anticipating the classes instead of trying to find ways to avoid it. See? Listening more. Healing is meant to change, if only we do not fight it.

How do I get through the loss of a parent?

In my last post, I shared that my mother passed away.

I have been plodding along at a slower pace since then and although I have my moments of sadness and anger (the latter being in situations that do not generally call for it), I feel I am doing pretty well. My counselor had suggested reading up on grief, in case I was someone who needed to identify and label feelings. I have not done so. I don’t feel I need to put whatever emotion I may be experiencing into a box. I don’t need it to make sense. It can just be – in whatever form it is in.

While I have kept myself busy, I have not kept myself too busy. I haven’t plunged into any new hobbies nor habits to pass the time. I’ve made it a point to be quiet, yes, but I’ve also gone out and had fun. Between a vacation to the beach, the ordering of a new bicycle, the long weekends at an AirBnB planned in the near future with my wife, a craft show the weekend after next, bike rides alone and with others, reading of books, fetch with the dogs, dinners with my dad, and the usual things like chores, work, and home-life…I have a lot of good and positive things going on. Due to all of this and despite the weight of the last few days of her life and the whirlwind days that followed, I know I will make it through the rest of my life just fine.

By appreciating the good things going on in the here, now, and in the future – I believe this is how I will make it through her passing. I don’t need an article to explain this to me; I’ve been doing it without much effort. I think this is what being quiet has shown me – my mind and body knows the way and all I need to do is not struggle or force anything.

My mom’s last coherent words to me were “keep your faith”. I will, mom, and I’ll see you on the other side. But for now? There’s so much amazing left in this world that I want to experience.

Life Happens: How do I know when it’s time for a new career?

The turn into 2021 suggested a cosmic shift for me. I recall feeling that big things were going to happen this year, the largest of which would be the saddest – the passing of my mother. We had no way of knowing in January that it was going to happen (and it happened 11 days ago), but I had this nagging sense that things were going to change and change they did – relatively rapidly.

The months leading up to her final days, I began to question a lot of things. I pulled back from people to conserve my energy, choosing to engage less frequently. I considered the strength and purpose of relationships, if these relationships were a benefit to me or just a way to fill time. I examined my career and was (and am) trying to determine if what I am doing is what I want to be doing. I am thinking about the stress of it and pairing my grief with that of my clients ~ asking: Am I going to be able to assist them properly while managing my own thoughts and feelings? Asking next: And do I want to?

There are all sorts of articles online about this very topic, but I think that figuring out when to know when it’s your time to go is personal – no amount of Google searches is going to make your decision easier. I sometimes look to others for feedback when I should be trusting myself. Nobody else knows me as well as I do and the best decision I can make for myself would, naturally, be very different than someone else’s decision for me. We are a product of our own perceptions and experiences; as much as we can try to put ourselves in their proverbial shoes, we are limited.

Instead of relying on others to aide me in determining if I am meant to continue being an estate and trust administration paralegal, I am going to carry on with my quiet consideration. I am going to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings to ensure that whatever decision I make is not rash or emotional. My heart may be broken but that does not mean I have truly lost heart in my work. I could be having a completely normal emotional reaction to my mother’s passing and attaching it to the nature of what my area of law is – all things post-death. In plain words: I may not necessarily be having these feelings if I worked in another area or law or was in a different career path entirely.

I am very blessed in that I do not suffer from a lot of the typical work-place issues that others do. I do not work in a toxic environment; I have experienced no bullying, no regular, super-unrealistic expectations. There’s always something new to learn and my bosses have always been very flexible and understanding of me and my family’s needs. I am treated extremely well and I feel appreciated. My workload is too much for one person, but no one is pressuring me to work overtime nor treating me as if I could be or should be doing more. People that find themselves depressed due to work, whether it is the work itself or your co-workers and managers, the answer is easy: Go. Prioritize yourself and move forward. I hope you kick ASS at whatever it is you choose to do! Nobody deserves a beat down from their job every day.

So, I will sit with myself on this.