A Good Life

Celebrate the accomplishments. Celebrate your life, no matter what.

If you watch YouTube, you might get the idea that getting a job and working for a living isn’t valuable as a lifestyle. Yes, I went to college and spent many years going to work at an engineering job. It wasn’t glamorous or high flying, but it paid well and that was worth it for me. Was I a prisoner of society since I basically went along with the program?

I have arrived at the age of sixty-three, more than three years into post-career life, with enough money for a roof over my head and food in my belly. Yes, the forty hour a week life of work was apparently less exciting than hiking the Appalachian Trail. I squeezed my joy into the weekends. It worked out ok. One year, even though I worked full time, I completed 22 marathons. No, I didn’t hike the Appalachian Trail. So what?

I worked with a lot of men who did their jobs for over 30 years. They didn’t buy into the line that working for a living is less than being an artist or a through hiker. No one, except perhaps Jordan Peterson, is making YouTube videos about the greatness of working for a living. I have a friend who is debilitated by COVID. She was thrilled to get a position where she could work from home; so she could feel like a contributing member of society. Her story is not on YouTube. Being a contributing member of society is not on YouTube.

Living in a van, hiking a long trail. These are dreams. Living in a van or through hiking is someone else’s dream, well packaged on YouTube to seem attractive. But these were not my dream. The inside of the dream is what is important. What is anyone looking for in their dreams? How do you want to feel? My dream was a simple lifestyle with plenty of space and time for running, and God showing up in the jogging. I got it.

My life is not only good enough but great. My dreams are simple and so I am living them. I also don’t need to run away from society by living in a van. Wearing society loosely is fine with me. I spent 38 years as an engineer. Don’t throw that away because some YouTuber appears to have a better life. They don’t. It is far easier to have a salary than to make money on YouTube. And remember, the YouTuber isn’t showing you the hard times, the boring times, or the small checking account.

Be proud of your job. Do it well. Reap the rewards. Enjoy your weekends. Save your money and get out as soon as possible.

Longview Half Marathon

The Next Phase of my Development

So. ten days ago, I ran 50 miles in a race. It was a high time. I was in the zone for many of those miles. No injuries. Yesterday I had an 11 mile run in the forest. Today I ran 7 very fast miles, 10.3 min/mile. Yesterday\’s video:

In the middle of this week, I decided to carry out some thoughts which had been in my head for awhile. Yes, a couple of events brought emotion into the picture and I snapped. I tried to quit my barista job. Mainly because it was interfering with writing. My identity is really not:barista. So I don\’t want barista work occupying my brain and using the morning hours which are best for reflecting.  As time went on, I was becoming more and more tired and less writing was happening. I tried to quit all together, but the store manager talked me into reducing to 2 short shifts per week, only one early morning and only one weekend day. That helps a lot to lighten the physical and mental burden. I can also plan on keeping the healthcare benefit for another year.

But now, I have my mornings for writing and editing. I won\’t be as exhausted. I\’m excited to have the free time and mental space to create new situations. I also have more freedom to follow intuition. I feel momentum increasing on my book project. This morning was my first time in months to do Morning Pages. Less work returns me to the plan I had a year ago when I retired to do writing. But I must not have been ready so I got a part time job. Now I\’m ready to try again. I know a lot more about what I need to do.

A Year Later

A year ago today, I quit my career and entered phase 3 of my life. Best.decision.ever.

What you should know, if you retire early, is that it is about quality of life and not money. My career was basically about making and saving money. Now, my focus is on learning new things and building a new life.

The key thing is that I am happy. I can\’t really explain why I was so unhappy at my career and the environment of the Gulf Coast. I should have been able to generate a good attitude regardless, but never did. However, upon moving north to Missouri and now working part time, I was instantly happy, and haven\’t looked back. Joy is now a skill I have and I do have to produce it consciously but it seems easy given my current way of living.

My plan for phase 3 of my life has been adhered to: move to Missouri, run alot, work part time, learn to be a writer and produce a publishable work from the material I wrote before I quit my career.

The good side of my writing project is that it is making steady progress. I have my content together and am now trying to sort through the information and organize it. I have learned much about the business of writing and publishing in the past year, enough to know what direction I am headed and what it could look like. I have the tools, though still learning to use them. As my writing project moves forward, it is bringing people and experiences into my life which I wouldn\’t otherwise have. I live near a public library which has a writing center funded by the Kaufmann Foundation. So, they have many classes, groups and staff to help writers. They even have a book making machine right in the library.

I never planned for my writing to be my source of financial support, so I am free to work on it a bit too slowly. What I wish I could do better is spend more of my afternoons writing, and doing deep work. But napping and then working out seem to take precedence, especially if I was up at 3 am for work. I seem to need the down time and then later on it is difficult to get my mind turned on and focused. I have been working on the habit of just getting my body into the chair at my desk, without YouTube.

I have entered a very happy time at my barista job. I have learned enough to be a valuable team member and to have fun. The young partners are accepting me. My body is better physically for working on my feet, lifting, bending, reaching, instead of spending all day at a computer. My mind is better for having to learn almost a whole new barista language and software. I\’m having to use parts of my brain that engineers don\’t need to use and so I didn\’t use them for decades. There is big value in an old person learning new things (hint: mental longevity). This part time job provides health insurance and pays most of my day to day living expenses. My assets have increased since quitting my career.

I survived the winter, but did not start 3 races due to cold weather. In Texas, I did not start races due to heat. But I did run all winter. I have run all summer. The Gulf Coast was a huge problem with overwhelming heat for 8 or so months a year. I suffered from heat related illness every weekend. That problem has disappeared here in Missouri. And so, I run faster more often. Running fast has been a blast. I had a great marathon a week ago. Even at mile 21, I was very happy (check out my smile):

In the area of Missouri where I now live, I am around people whom I\’ve known for 30 or more years. In terms of social capital, I am very rich. I got to celebrate my 34th sobriety anniversary with numerous people I got sober with all those years ago.

I have become a neuro science geek. Part of my writing project involves studying neuro science to explain addiction and recovery. In my retired life, I have time to read neuro science books and addiction books, which seem to be coming out at a furious pace. Luckily, the public library stocks the latest and greatest books.

Here is a video from today\’s jaunt in the forest:

Not Getting

It is nearly a year since I left my corporate job. It struck me this morning that who I am in terms of what I am trying to \”get\” out of life has changed.

I was for the first time today able to see clearly how much I was trying to get out of the corporation and its bosses. Stuff like recognition and self worth. As a corporate engineer, I was wrapped up in the corporate culture, criticism of what the bosses were doing, being angry because I had no place to grow to. Even on the weekend when I did my long runs, my brain was taken up with resentments and anger over work.

I was not able to just sit in a cushy corporate job and collect money but slowly die to creativity and hope for the future. I wanted something more, but I couldn\’t \”get\” it from the corporation. Now, I accept that my modus operandi: my career was about making money and I quit it as soon as that task was completed.

In the past, my feelings of success were dependent on what other people thought of me and what they were willing to reward me with. Success at work was huge to me. I only felt successful if I was winning at work. But now, I have nothing in the material world to hang a successful feeling on. It is impossible for me to be pointed out as successful because there is nothing there. This lack of exterior conditions forces me to either feel good about myself simply because I exist, or never feel good because I\’m not in situations to garner praise and rewards.

Now, whatever it was which I was trying to \”get\” from the corporation has been forgotten. I don\’t have any expectation of  being promoted or given a raise as a means to help me feel validated or wanted. I have no expectation of being asked to do special projects because of my expertise and using these to bolster my ego. Along with the loss of expectations is the ending of trying to wrest anything out of life.

I am more or less a free bird, living one day at a time. I think I don\’t have a purpose driven life. If I want to be validated, or feel better, I do it for myself. My happiness is not dependent on bosses at work but on my own seeking for good thoughts about myself from the inside. If I want to feel better then I am self responsible for finding those thoughts from the inside.

If I have a purpose, it is to allow instead of try to get. I\’m learning to be an allower instead of a getter. I am not dependent of some corporation or its bosses to validate my worth or give recognition. I have no recognition to achieve. I am merely alive.

Spiritual study has been a part of my life for decades. For a long time, I was trying to get enlightenment from God, and mad that God had never given it. Even that type of getting is gone from my agenda. I have entered a way of living where I allow whatever is going to happen to happen. God does not have to give me enlightenment today.

So who am I really? Being. I am just Being.

Renaissance Appreciation

This morning, I ran 14 miles on a groomed trail in a nature sanctuary. I spent 3 hours, and it was a bit hot. I so appreciated the time, the activity and the environment.

I feel amazing about myself and about life. I am running really good, much improved over the past 8 years in Houston. I attribute this to a cooler environment, more hills and because I work at a manual job and on my feet for 24 hours a week. 60 year olds can improve their fitness.

It was a weekend of watching cross fit athletes sort out who is the fittest man/woman on earth. It has been 52 days of watching the 3,100 mile race. And here I am, running in a forest and just feeling so super pumped about it. Yesterday, I ran on my treadmill in the afternoon and I felt super pumped about that too. I was able to crank up the speed and add some incline and run run run.

My brain is better since leaving my career 11 months ago. Thanks to Starbucks, I have had to learn a whole new language. All those new synapses are a good mental workout for an entrenched brain. All the lifting and bending and walking back and forth help me too.

It is the eve of my 34th sobriety birthday. How grateful I am for my sober adult life. So much good stuff. Mostly, spiritual stuff. I have had an adult life of conscious contact with my inner being. I so appreciate that.

I am financially stable after 11 months away from my big paying career. Everything is is growing.

Its About the Energy

This morning, during my morning meditation, I had a big breakthrough in understanding. I\’m sure I got a glimpse of the way my Inner Being sees things.

Here is a story:

10 months ago, I quit my high paying corporate job and started a part time job at Starbucks. And ever since, some part of my brain has been annoyed with this situation. See, I\’m a 60 year old well funded, retiree, ex-engineer. What the heck am I doing working with twenty year olds for ten dollars an hour? Sure, I can make up some pragmatic reasons like I get my health care from Starbucks, or I\’m too young to sit in the house \”retired.\”

But thats not really it.

The reasons have to go deeper or they are not satisfying. The reasons have to be related to my conscious contact with my spiritual Inner Being, or they are not satisfying.

So, a little bit of back story.

The real reason I quit my job was to design and live Phase 3 of my life. I wanted to take my little ship and go off into the metaphorical high seas, exploring and learning, before I got too old to do such things. I had some writing ideas and I wanted to become a writer.

But what the heck am I doing at Starbucks? Especially since it is more difficult to work at Starbucks than you would imagine. There is a whole new language to learn, there are hundreds of drinks and sauces to learn to make. You have to learn the location of hundreds of buttons in the cash register, and quickly find them when needed. Being on your feet and using fast thinking is totally different from being an engineer who thinks everything through slowly and sits at a computer all day. Compared to the young people, I feel so slow and stupid. I feel out of place.

So what the heck am I doing there?

Well, it has to do with energy and vibration. And that is the break through in understanding I had this morning. Finally I might perceive how my Inner Being sees this situation.

At Starbucks, I am in a fast paced environment with young people who are trying to find their way in this world, still going to school and putting together the pieces. At the corporate job, I was in a slow environment with people who all made tons of money, had all the material possessions, were near the end of their careers, and basically were not learning or growing at all.

So, since my plan is to build Phase 3 of my life as something entirely new and different from my corporate life, then it is a huge blessing that I now hang around young people who are trying to build their lives. The young people have an energy and a vibration about them which is different than the old people I used to work with. My feelings of being out of place at Starbucks, and feeling like I can\’t keep up, are just symptoms of my energy pattern out of harmony with their energy pattern. But over time, my energy pattern is achieving higher frequency and matching the young energy pattern.

So, it is much better for a person hoping to build a new life at the age of 60 to have a young energy pattern. I need to vibrate like a young person in order to do what they are doing, putting together the pieces of a new life.

So, now I embrace the difficulties at work and am at peace with it because it is just a shift in energy patterns. The difficulty is just what it feels like when your energy pattern is out of sync with someone else\’s. In this case, I want to have their energy pattern. So I am living through the discomfort.

And you know what? Today at work, they put me on bar so I can start learning how to make some of those many many drinks Starbucks has.

Spiritual exercises are so worth it. If I don\’t persist in meditating and connecting with my Inner Being, I\’d never know what is going on energetically. Perhaps I wouldn\’t be able to build a new life without understanding the energy, and hanging in there for the change. Maybe I would just vegetate and slowly die.

I really want to experience full aliveness in this life. In my old corporate job, I wasn\’t fully alive. I was going to jail every morning and collecting the money. I couldn\’t stand it. I\’d much rather be out in the waves navigating new things. Maybe this is what self transcendence really is and I\’m really doing it.

I love hills

One of the reasons I left Houston was because the place is flat as a pancake. For a runner, that is annoying. Kansas City has hills. Hills are awesome.

Surprising to me, I am improving at my running since leaving Houston, even after a snowy winter here when I had to cut back on the mileage.

This morning, it crossed my mind about how peaceful many people seem to be after they retire. Suddenly they are out walking everyday, playing with kids, going to Starbucks, hanging out with the dog.

I continue to try and figure out why my job had become so intolerable, even though it was easy and a good company. Well, there was the issue of creativity. I have creative projects now and I am the boss of the project. No one around to tell me I can\’t.

But the issue that struck me today regarded being in a cage. My life as a career woman was lived in a cage. A big cage, but still a cage. A corporate cage filled with attendance requirements and behavior requirements. And I wasn\’t myself while being in the cage. Now, I live outside of cages. I am free to be me, not a corporate-fitter-inner.

I totally \”get\” the FIRE movement. Here\’s all these really smart people hiring into corporations where they hate their corporate selves. But, the salary is great. So, just save like crazy and get the heck out as soon as possible. These FIRE people are not just sitting around with their millions. They are contributing to society and the world in creative ways, divorced from money. That contribution is incredibly valuable.

The Next Thing

Well, last weekend I fulfilled a desired plan: I drove to Dallas, ran 2.5 marathons and drove home. I was incredibly happy that I didn\’t chicken out and not go at all. I didn\’t chicken out and not go the third day. I didn\’t try to do more than would make me happy by running a full marathon on the third day.

Now, a week later, I have one new toe nail and the dead skin has fallen off the insides of my big toes.

I have been perusing running calendars for months, trying to decide on what races to go in. Nothing really grabbed me until this week. And so I decided on my next marathon. It is a course I\’ve run twice before. It is very hilly. It has a 6 hour time limit. It will probably be hot. But I am focused now. I\’m happy with the focus.

And so today I ran my hills with extra energy.

When I got back to my car, parked at the library, I teased a guy parked next to me who had a huge stack of books, like 20 of the which were thick. He laughed and asked me if it was as humid as he felt. Then he said, but you are probably a beast. I guess I look like a beast in my hat, sun glasses and hydro-pak. Then I noticed that he was changing shoes and getting ready to hit the trail I had just come off of. So cool: 60 year old lady is called a beast!

Today is a day off my part time job. I slept long and I am very peaceful. It is nice to relax. I realize at this point, that I have a pretty predictable pattern of activities chosen because I like them. The person who had a career and tried to be important at work is gone. I had striven for greatness in some way for so many years. Now I am trying to sink deeper into my spiritual connections and not try to find anything out in the material world. After all, I\’ve been chasing more connection with my higher self my whole life and now I have the opportunity to be real about it. Trying to be a big hoo haa in a corporation or in my profession was a side gig and for most of my life I could hardly wait for the career to be over.

At Starbucks, we wear head sets if we are supporting the drive up window. Yesterday, I was listening to 3 shift managers talk on the head sets. As shift managers, they make very little more money than a regular barista. I guess that now that I heard what that hourly rate is, I\’m surprised at how little, except Starbucks does offer benefits, which counts for alot in my book. Other eating establishments don\’t offer the benefits. However, I do think a shift manager should be paid more than they are. But, they do seem to stick around for years so Starbucks would have no incentive to increase the pay.

Starbucks gave all of us gay pride shirts to wear during gay pride month, June. It was weird to have several drive up customers notice the shirt and want to buy one. I am not gay but work with many gay partners. I\’m suddenly realizing what a great proportion of the population really says they are gay. I wonder if it is not just that stereo-typical roles for men and women are no longer tolerable so people branch off into same sex relationships. I haven\’t been in a relationship for nearly two decades. I don\’t think I could tolerate the role that most men would want, that of dominating the female, like always being the one to drive or thinking the woman should cook dinner.

Part of my daily life is to work on my writing and learning to become a writer. The project still does not have enough momentum, but it does get a steady amount of activity, a little work every day. Twice a month, I participate in writing groups and this helps alot with momentum because I always prepare something to share. Each morning, I work on the spiritual writing project. In the afternoons, I find that I can add a paragraph or two to my novel. I can see two or three bread crumbs down the path for each project. I\’m not trying to push it. I could push it. I don\’t really want to. My latest effort is to write in an \”Upstairs Journal\” every day.

My social life is in the midst of people I have known for more than 30 years. It is amazing to me to have these connections. Especially when I realize that while I have moved around and been absent for years here and there, many of them were present for the whole time. I used to disrespect people like that. Now I respect that consistency.

Working part time as I do, I live outside the bounds of the 9 to 5 world. I am not in jail for 40 hours a week. I don\’t commute. I usually work on weekends. I am usually in a park every afternoon. I love my life now. I don\’t know really why my career job was so hated, but I clearly like how I\’m living now.

Musing and rambling done. Spirit out!

What its like now.

I have been a spiritual seeker for many years. I have studied the works of many spiritual adepts. I mean, over 30 years worth of study.

I have gone once before through a period where I wasn\’t teachable. I couldn\’t go to church because every pastor seemed un-meaningful to me. I wasn\’t inspired. What they were saying was fake, not a deep enough truth. All I could grasp for years was A Course in Miracles and the works of Paul Brunton.

I ran many many miles. Why was doing 22 marathons a year so important?

Then, I started working on my own spiritual writing project. It was conceived as an app for addicts. I continue to slowly type what I have already written. My own writing inspires me. I don\’t know where this work will end up, but it continues.

Along the way in the past three years, I met the works of Abraham Hicks. This information helped me to improve my connection with my inner being. This information helped me get out of my corporate job and into a semi-retired life.

In semi-retirement, Starbucks has somehow captured me. I can\’t explain what is almost addictive about working at Starbucks. I look forward each week to another set of shifts, yet each shift is difficult to get through. Working at Starbucks is not easy. We rush almost continuously. Driving home, I feel good. I have a load of endorphins from six hours on my feet.

Along side my app for addicts, I got the brilliant idea to write a novel. Because I am writing a novel, I need to learn how to be a writer. Because I need to learn how to be  writer, I have been reading books on that topic. This morning, I was reading such a memoir from an author which was dull. So dull a tedious, I couldn\’t do more than skim it. I wasn\’t at all gripped by the story of her life.

I teetered on the edge of giving up my own writing. What would make my novel gripping so others enjoy reading it?

I\’m not at the place which Abraham Hicks describes as \”alignment\” or \”in the vortex.\” Further, I can\’t seem to get there from here.

So I stopped to meditate. I prayed for an intuitive thought, inspiration or decision. I took stock of my life now. I love running and being in the forested parks available to me here where I live. I love my sober life and AA fellowship. I am captivated by Starbucks. I have two writing projects for which self motivation is needed. I still want to know my higher self more and more.

And so I decided. Pull yourself together and go on from here. I\’m again in the place of \”unteachable.\” Which means total trust in whatever intuitive thoughts I receive. I will walk forward each day. I want to succeed at being a writer, no matter how long that takes. I want to be sober for life and go to the Big Meeting sober. (This thought brings me to tears it is so meaningful to me). And, I will continue to seek and listen to my Higher Self. That pursuit will never end.

And so?

I am no longer trying to find something out there, from some other spiritual author. I am finding it within.

Get the clothes out of the dryer. Go to the grocery store. Got to an AA meeting. Go running. Meditate again.

Milestone

You know, it has been over 6 months since I left my corporate job. I didn\’t even realize that 6 months had passed until after they had passed. Time has flown by. Part of the reason is that my life is no longer counted in 40 hour work weeks, Monday through Friday. I work part time, and never the same hours or days of each week. So I don\’t feel bound my a parameter; like can\’t wait for Friday or hating Monday. Everyday is just a day.

Also, I continue to enjoy afternoons in parks. Usually I am done with work by 11 am. Yesterday I ran a very good 10.5 miles in Platte Purchase park. It was sunny and about 50F. But I ran really well; on top of having worked a morning shift. Today, I had an even bigger milestone: it was the first day that I went straight from a shift on my feet to the trail head; and walked 5.2 miles along Line Creek. No going home first to lay on the bed and recuperate from work. I am getting stronger both physically and mentally. Working at Starbucks has cause me to get stronger and more durable.

I\’m older than I\’ve ever been with more energy than I\’ve ever had. Hummm…

My ego continues to have difficulty with the actuality of working st Starbucks. It is not an easy job and when I make mistakes, I get down on myself. I really wonder what the heck I am doing there. Am I lying to myself about anger at that little job? However, last night, I wondered if my Starbucks job was actually saving my life from depression. Because…

The downside of retirement is lack of regularity. I do my writing, but I am in no way capable of spending days writing. My momentum towards a writing career seems hard to find. Even worse, I continue to suffer from beliefs that I am an inferior being; hence could never be an author. I am not inferior, and am evidently very intelligent, successful and prosperous. But I never feel good about myself unless I consciously decide to feel good about myself. That is very hard work. It is so easy to slip into the \”I am stupid\” emotional template. A template is just a choice of a neurological pattern. We can choose a different pattern and feel better. But it is mental work to do so. Feeling good is a chore. If I do it first thing in the morning, I have a happy day.

I have really been enjoying the AA group I got sober at 33 years ago. It is weird to think I am 60 instead of 26. And then someone will mention in a meeting how we grew up together and now their kids are 26 and 23. I\’ve been reading a lot over the past year about opioid addiction, to support some of my writing. They say that opioid use disorder forever changes your brain and you should be on medication for life. The disorder is a disease. They have medications which substitute for opioids. They have never proven this point for alcoholics or found a medication. Hence, the remedy for alcoholism continues to be spirituality. There is nothing else. Here is the danger for an alcoholic: I haven\’t drank in 33 years. Am I still an alcoholic? Testing the possibility could lead to death.

Today\’s adventure, plus the long run I did a week ago convinced me to sign up for a race. The race was close to selling out, so I had to sign up a little earlier than I wanted. But, I am in for 50k. And I am planning a triple marathon in May.

The human body is amazing for healing. I cut my finger a couple of days ago. After one day, it still was bleeding as the bandage was removed. After two days, bleeding stopped and new skin evident, filling in the hole in the skin. Amazing.

In general, I am a happy person at this time in my life. I have the tools to generate happiness. Happiness is my prosperity, my abundance. One day at a time.