Reflecting

It has been nearly a month since I posted. And my last post was just a short video.

I find my self today with time on my hands. I wrote 2 pages for my novel and then decided to go for a jog (see video below). Here is a story of my recent doings.

As January arrived, I started working at H&R Block. Doing taxes was all along my original plan for a retirement job. However, in the mean time, I also got a part time job at Starbucks. I got the Starbucks job in November because my house in Texas wasn\’t sold, and I didn\’t know how long I\’d have to pay the bills for it. Expenses were quite high. Since Texas has no income tax, their property tax is very high. Insurance is high too due to hurricanes. Anyway, the ongoing extra expense was not a part of my budget. So I got the Starbucks job to cover it.

So January rolls around and I start working two part time jobs; Starbucks and H&R Block. After about 5 weeks of this, I woke up to the fact that I was working more than 50 hours a week. Wait. What? I\’m supposed to be retired. Working all the time was not supposed to be my new life! I wasn\’t doing any writing and my exercise had shrunk to 30 minutes in between jobs.

I stopped to consider. One of the jobs had to go. And even though I worked very hard on getting the H&R Block job, and had high hopes for it, I decided to quit it. See, doing taxes is easy, but H&R Block has a lot of peripheral corporate baggage related to selling products which I wasn\’t enjoying. One evening, I lifted $300 off some poor young girl simply because she didn\’t know how to do her taxes. I felt crummy about that since she probably only made $12 an hour at her job in a nursing home. Also, after talking to some of the long term tax preparers, I realized that my dreams regarding pay and time commitments were unrealistic.

On the other hand, I finally learned most of what I need to know to work at Starbucks. I was starting to have fun with the other partners. The hours are very easily done. My body has become used to working on my feet for 5 or 6 hours and I think I\’m actually better off physically for it. My brain likes $200/week grocery money even though it is not necessary. I get out of the house for socializing. Even though I want to be a writer, I\’m not ready to just sit in the house every day all day and write. I will be getting benefits through Starbucks, like healthcare, dentist, 401K. I know: all the corporate benefits for 20 hours a week. I like a more even life style of working a little all the time rather than working a ton during 3.5 months of the year.

So I will continue to be a barista but not a tax preparer. I now have time, with just one job, to refocus on my writing and my running. My house in Texas is sold and the money is in the bank.

Aside, from material world activities, what is going on in my non-physical? I have time to contemplate and write. I realize my deepest childhood wound. I realize my highest spiritual connection. I have a sense of my soul and who I really am. I feel joy. I feel blessed. These feelings are not wild and crazy ecstasy. These feelings are things you need to stop and consciously experience. When you give them air time, they feel very satisfying.

Even though I work, I realize significant differences between my attitude about working at my engineering job in a corporation and working part time. My corporate job was killing my creativity and my freedom. My part time jobs aren\’t doing that. The corporation I worked for was a fine enterprise. A good place to work. But somehow, being a part of that culture was killing my inner being. I believe that joy is something present on the inside and every human can access it. I believe that feeling happy is a choice. But, while in the corporate environment, I didn\’t achieve happiness despite trying every day to apply my tools and knowledge. I felt like I was in jail. I believe that in applying my spiritual tools, I created a new life in a new environment. The path of least resistance was to move on. There have been changes in the corporate department where I used to work. Looking at that, I realize that I still wouldn\’t want to be a part of it.

There are many people who get up and go to their white collar jobs every day, not being happy. I think many of us have to do this. But as soon as you can find a way out, leave. Make an exit plan. If the plan takes a few years to carry out, then so be it. In the mean time, care for your soul. Nourish your soul consciously.

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Youthful Exuberance

Yesterday, I got up at 3 am to spend an hour on my writing project, clocked in at Starbucks at 4:30 am, spent the morning making coffee and taking out the trash, clocked out at 11 am and did shopping quickly for my Secret Santa project, went to a noon meeting because I wasn\’t tired yet. After the meeting, went home to eat and rest. Then work online for my other job for 2 hours, then suddenly remembered I had a WordPress 101 class so ran off to the library for the class. Got home at 9 pm. Wow! I actually spent more time working at various jobs than I would\’ve at my old job. I\’m surprised that a 60 year old is still going this strong.

People think that since I retired, I don\’t do anything. But now, I\’m not chained to one one job all day so have time to fit in many jobs. I\’m more energetic than ever since a corporation is not sapping all my energy.

But here\’s the thing: I felt exhilarated about this day. I was energized by it; not exhausted. Not locked in an office, not bored. I am happy shifting around between various work activities, being flexible. If this busyness is retirement, and it looks pretty busy for the next 5 months, I\’ll take it. I retired to have more fun and enjoy my life; and that\’s what my current work gives me.

I got to run for over two hours on a trail today. It was a beautiful day and I love my new trail shoes. Slippery mud? Bring it on!

Just Like I Thought

Howdy Folks!

Hey guess what?

This year, my Christmas stocking is hanging in a Starbucks:

Yeah, thats me. Barista!

For as long as I can remember, I had envisioned retirement as being downsizing and working part time. And that is exactly what has happened. What is a surprise are the writing projects I have going on. Plus the ability to go running on park trails during day light ( spent the 38 years of my career running at 4:30 in the morning).

I have been very happy the past few months since leaving my career. I can\’t explain why I couldn\’t stand my career for even one more day. I can explain why I had to get out of Houston (all health related). My attitude about my career sucked and I couldn\’t go on living like that. So I am glad I changed my venues.

Now, I drive off to work in a snow storm and feel like the luckiest and happiest person on earth. Obviously I feel that way from the inside; not because it is that much fun driving in the snow, or having a job where you take out the trash and make coffee. I just feel better. I feel free. I love my access to trees and wooded pathways.

Besides Starbucks, I also work for H&R Block. I\’ve never worked harder to get a job! You have 60 hours of education plus examinations. And the first year won\’t be such a big deal as far as pay goes. But after the first year, you have clientele and you make commissions. Eventually, this will be my only occupation. At HRB, I find myself in a leading edge electronic environment. It is exciting to be using the latest; stuff like Watson!

I urge anyone: the instant you can live on a small bit of grocery money, you should down size and shift your life so you have time to enjoy yourself and the world around you. Don\’t stay employed just for health insurance. I assure you, there are health care solutions and you don\’t need to be trapped in a corporation. Don\’t wait for social security retirement age; take social security early if you have to. Get a smaller house if you need to. Don\’t stay in your corporate job because of the stock market. Life is for living. Give yourself the gift of life as soon as possible.

Last night, I was in a class with about 25 new tax preparers for this region. I noticed several people just like me: tired of the corporation, tired of being in jail 40 hours a week, but not ready to quit. So we have all crafted out individual lives of freedom, doing what seems fun.

Today I went for an 8 mile run and tomorrow, I hope to have time for 12 miles. Then, a Christmas party in the afternoon. I bought myself some new trail running shoes for Christmas.

I love my life and myself for the first time ever.

Super Saturday

Today is a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 60s. I decided to go to Weston Bend State park for my run. It is hilly. I did 5 laps of the 2.75 mile loop. Here is a video of a beautiful orange tree.

This week I continued to work on my writing project. To augment this work, I got a book from the library on the business of writing. How to be a writer. And I had to rededicate myself to putting my energy into this new phase of my life. Recreating my life is really what I was trying to do  with so called retirement.

So called retirement: well, I did get hired by a sporting goods store to be their part time \”Running Specialist.\” That so plays into my personal brand. And I get to wear a radio. I also have an interview on Monday at Starbucks. The reason for that is that Starbucks has some awesome benefits for part time employees. We\’ll see. I am open to all creative opportunities, but need to leave space in the schedule for writing.

Overall, my life is enjoyable. Part of the reason for so called retirement was to enjoy my life some time before it is over. So if I get to run in a park for 8 miles every day: Success. That and connect with people. That and spend 2 hours or more a day in spiritual work. You could say that my life is exactly what I wanted.

Retirement week 4

Don\’t worry, I won\’t keep weekly reports forever. I do it now because I am so damn happy still.

Tonight I went to my first class at the library; and it was really good. And they are so friendly and eager to help anyone. Such a great resource.

Today, I went to a new trail, Line Creek. This trail wasn\’t there when I lived in Kansas City before. I really enjoyed it. And, I fixed my toilet. That was exciting because it was really easy.

One of the reasons I retired was to have more time to work on my writing projects. Each day I spend 2 to 3 hours either writing, doing research or now learning about the business end. The original writing part still goes quite slowly but at least I don\’t have to shut it down in order to go to work.

I am also enrolled in tax school. I have class twice a week and several hours of homework in between. Our first mid-term is this week so tomorrow will be spent studying for that. I think doing taxes will be a good gig; and probably will find another gig.

I\’ve been spending about 2 hours or more a day either jogging or walking. Some days I\’ve gone as much as 20 miles. And I finally got my other exercise equipment and weights set up, so I add that in also; especially on days when there is no class. I am signed up for a 24 hour race in 3 weeks so I am trying to balance time on feet while moderating the running part to prevent injury.

12 step groups are more like spiritual fellowships than whatever you saw on TV about AA meetings. I have reconnected with the AA group I got sober at 33 years ago. It has been exciting to see many of the same people, plus new ones. I was promptly asked to be archivist; and said yes. Service work is important.

I am living on the edge of a new life, discovering new ways of being in the world. I have old beliefs that need to dwindle away. I practice new ways of loving. Letting go of the hustle and strict scheduling. I don\’t think about my old career hardly at all; and it is very easy to notice when an old resentment comes up so it can be shut down before it gains momentum. What is frequently on my mind is the explanation to myself of why it was financially ok for me to quit my career. Just today, I suddenly realized how much of the day had been spent going over these facts in my mind. Now that I am aware, I can switch channels to the one playing my fabulous future. This work of controlling my thoughts is important because I create my own reality.

Once again, I recommend to anyone who wants to create a fabulous future life, check out Abraham Hicks on YouTube.

Retirement – Week 3

The alarm went off and I got up. And so I have time this morning before running off to accomplish administrative tasks. I had time to reflect on my life and my career; ending in gratitude.

I\’m still in a little bit of shock for what I have done. Did I really give up a career and move away? The decision and implementation of the plan took more than a year; but now that it happened, it feels like an impulsive move. But I still agree with it. I needed to move my life on to a different environment.

When I came squirting out of college, it seemed all systems were go for a magnificent and successful career. I had been elected outstanding senior. I had been elected president of engineering societies and leader of a senior project team. I could have got a job anywhere. As soon as I hit the corporate world, something was wrong. I didn\’t fit exactly. Oh, I am a great engineer, just not really able to commit to a corporation. I didn\’t really want to work as much was expected. I didn\’t really care that much how many pounds of product went out the door. \”Business\” didn\’t excite me.

My career never made it above technical expert, and then technical expertise became boring futility. I couldn\’t stand the dead beat managers, lack of recognition and opportunity for creativity. Still, and always, I had more energy invested in my private studies and running endeavors. Privately, I was achieving. At work, I was earning money. So, I guess my career gave what I wanted: money.

Onward. Suddenly, here I am in Missouri and wondering how this happened. That is a long story, yet to be fully unraveled and appreciated. But I still need to move forward. I truly want to do more with my life. So….

Today is exciting. I went to the license office and took care of business. Then I went to the library. OMG! They have so much help for small business and writers. They even have people to help you. They have a book printing machine. They have classes and groups. I got a book! Not knowing anything about running a small business, even a business with only 1 employee has been bothering me. I\’m so ignorant of everything. Now, I have a fantastic resource. I know where I will start to learn.

Nothing can stop me. Incredible.

Notice how excited I am. I am excited about my writing project and it was for this that I quit my day job.

Retirement – week 2

The first week of my retirement I spent around the Houston area; packing up my house, running in the rain, trying to avoid mosquitoes. And the moving tuck came.

The second week I spent driving to Kansas City, setting up my new house, running in various parks, beginning tax school, working on my writing project.

Yesterday, the moving truck came. Now all my belongings are here; still mostly in boxes. But the washer and dryer are hooked up and work. I got the printer onto the new network and it works.

Even though I got rid of alot of stuff before I moved, I see that I moved alot of stuff I don\’t really know what to do with and haven\’t bothered with for several years. Aggghhh!

What is really important is better thoughts, better feelings. When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, \”I believe in myself.\” Wow! What a great thought! When I had a job, I woke up depressed and hateful and hopeless for having to go to work. Last night, I realized that my writing project will take years to complete. I\’ve been pushing it forward everyday, like I worked on it for 3 hours today; but it takes awhile to produce a great work.

I still need to learn to enjoy my existence for its own sake. I feel better than ever about myself; but I suspect that some rocks still need to be dropped.

Today I ran 6 miles in English Landing park. Here is a picture from flicker.

Running here is very easy on my legs and I have good success. I\’ve been feeling very good despite a lot of miles; so I signed up for a 24 hour race at the end of October.

A Moment in Between

Yesterday I spent my time with movers, packing up my house in Texas. Then I drove to Oklahoma and spent the night. Today, I will continue driving to my new home in Missouri.

Some of my thoughts yesterday reflected around how momentous this thing I am doing is. Sure, everybody retires some time. I took my time earlier than most based on a desire to grow. Seriously, I had to move on. Where I worked was \”not that bad,\” in fact pretty good. The condition of the work place alone does not justify quitting.

Finances provided an escape route, something like a catalyst.

But the real crux of the matter is the interior of my heart and soul. There were positive desperate needs and negative desperate needs. Ultimately it came down to a dream, a plan, an idea.

I just started reading a book written by a doctor about addiction, its neuro-science and its childhood development. I have to admit that a few screws were maladjusted in my childhood. This makes for a life outside the norm. And now I can see that I am embracing my truth.

By \”outside the norm,\” I don\’t mean badly weird. I mean that suburban life, going along, just earning money in a good corporate job and carrying out that life to the end, was not enough. Look, I have moved around alot in my life from job to job. Look, I ran off to a monastery in mid-life because I was interested in contemplative prayer. Look, getting married and having kids could never have been for me.

Without the surroundings of a corporate culture, I don\’t have to pretend to be like \”them\” anymore. Like, you work with people daily for years, never talking about sobriety; because they wouldn\’t understand and might hold it against you. The spirituality of a 12 step program, or ultra-marathoning, is impossible to express to the un-initiated. I even had trouble admitting that I got up at 3:30 am every day in order to have time for both spiritual study and running.

I don\’t know how my creative ideas will turn out. But I can clearly see the next 2 or 3 trail markings.

I am a bit apprehensive for arrival at my new digs. How will I feel once I finally get there? The whole decision to buy this place and get out of Texas is an emotional affair. Yes, I can scream about logic, but the emotion is really what life is.

So, enjoy the ride. I am where I am. My life is now totally about the \”receiving mode.\” The Receiving Mode is something I heard about from Abraham Hicks. I have to strengthen my spiritual practice above all else.

Wow! Now that I am free, I can allow my mind to just go crazy with ideas and creativity; and I have the means to capitalize.

Holding Pattern

I quit my job a week ago and on Monday a moving truck comes. These few days have been a waiting period. Done with my life here but not yet started with my life there. The rain has hindered running a little bit, but mostly it is the mosquitoes which are keeping me away from the parks. Even if I spray myself, a cloud of the little buggers hovers around me trying to find places which are not sprayed, like my face.

This little holding pattern got me thinking about how my most of my life has been a holding pattern. A holding pattern of waiting for work to be over so I could do what I want.

First look at the pattern: get up at 3:30 am, time for spiritual study, time for exercise, go to work at 6:30 am (to beat the traffic), be at work, come home from work, eat, rest, exercise, read fiction, go to sleep at 10. Five days a week, an incredible 3+ decades of work.

Astonishingly enough, my work as an engineer was mostly boring; only occasionally would an interesting project come along. Rarely was creativity needed. Most of engineering work is \”putting the lines on the page.\” That is, after the initial excitement, carrying out the project is a routine technical activity. Often, completing a project does not bring a reward. They don\’t tell you this in engineering school, but most of engineering life is putting lines on the page.

There wasn\’t much dopamine reward in my work pattern. Mostly I went to work to earn the paycheck. My work environment was like many others. It was cynical and underfunctioning. I obeyed the rules. I played nice with others. I kept my mouth shut. Mostly I was surviving. My work was a holding pattern because for most of this life\’s daylight hours, I was restricted to the work environment. Creative ideas had to be shelved for later or discarded entirely. Even work related creativity mostly got discarded.

My dopamine rewards were not coming from work. The good feeling brain chemicals came from morning and evening exercise, spiritual investigations; and running marathons or ultra-marathons on the weekend. The little medals given at the end of a race represented more rewards than I obtained at work in years. And this comment comes from a highly competent, reliable engineer; not some slacker that nobody liked.

Americas best minds are warehoused in the work related holding patterns. Every corporation is wasting these resources. I am not unique.

So is it any wonder that I left the system as soon as possible? I am filled with creative ideas. I want to carry them out. Even the act of writing this blog would not be possible if I had needed to go to work an hour ago.

Personal Mount Blanc

It is Labor Day in the US. I still had to run outside to put out the garbage since I heard the truck. The waste company has put several people out of work since they went to automated trucks.

I have time to sit and reflect. I read the blogs about the Catholic Church sex scandal, The Benedict Option. I watch YouTube videos of Ultra Trail Mount Blanc (below) and tears come to my eyes. I think of my own situation.

I am on the cusp of quitting my career. I wanted to retire before my body got too old so that I could go in lots of races. As I sit here now, one of my knees is somehow in trouble; so I won\’t hit the ground running.

The thought crosses my mind as I look at the faces of the three women winners of UTMB (video below), \”I want to be who I really am.\” This thought also brings an important point to the surface. I am quitting my career, not just because I have the money, but because I was caught in fake me.

Real me is an athlete and scholar; and has been allotted an hour or two of living each day for my career. Real me is incredibly smart, creative and peruses the metaphysical universe seeing the energy connections of life itself. Real me runs miles and lifts weights. The fake me shoves itself into a corporate box and uses the intelligence to out perform inferior colleagues, please under-functioning bosses and make money. The real me is bored with an engineering job which became rote a couple of years ago, and frustrated with the niche of expertise. The fake me continues to wish for some sort of corporate recognition; which will never come because thats not what corporations do. Fake versus Real is an emotional conflict which I am allowing Real to win. I want to be authentic.

Now, facing retirement, the real me is eager for more time to write, to work on web pages, to learn the business end of being a professional writer, having a personal brand. No one can stop me.

I, and we all, have an inner spirit, a real me, that refuses to be boxed. For the first time in my life, I have the finances to give the real me both space and time. I realize a transformation will occur. Even I, who knows that inner energy, don\’t really know what will happen.

I have my own version of Mount Blanc. I\’ve been climbing for years. Sometime soon, the next few years, I\’ll reach the finish line. And then go on.

I will keep the agreement with my inner spirit. I\’m leaving the ordinary world and stepping into the extraordinary. Yes I can.