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.

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Still Summer

It is October, but summer weather was still with us as of yesterday. Amazing! But summer weather in Missouri is still far better than summer weather is on the Gulf Coast.

I an a year into phase 3 of my life, my post career life. I built in several situations for phase 3, and these are evolving.

I\’ve been a Starbucks employee for 11 months, but in my current store for only 6 months. I find that my partners are now loosening up. They see that I am upholding my end of the work, and that they don\’t need to be scared of an older person. I am enjoying being on the team more each day. My body has become used to the work and I find the really busy days to be energizing. I know many customer\’s names and so relate to them also. So I count this part time job as a successful experiment.

Now that my situation with work is more routine, I can divert attention to writing projects. I find myself mulling over and over the neuro science of addiction, modern addiction treatment and spirituality. The decision to have a spiritual life is really a complete separation from the addicted life. The spiritual life is a complete shift in focus, and combating addiction is left behind. The missing piece is that spirituality works but can\’t be grasped in a material sense. Yet I think my approach to writing about it sufficiently provides the needed glimpses. The content is written. I continue too plow through editing and filling in gaps. This week, I got a chapter introduction done to share with my writer\’s critique group.

In general, and several times a day, I feel satisfaction in where I am at in life. I can still go out and run 10 miles for fun. I feel joy in physical fitness. I live in a place that is perfect for me. My bills are paid. I have time to read and write, or do the \”deep work\” as Cal Newport calls it. I live in a different world than the older ladies of my socio economic group, and I\’m happy about that. I am extremely glad to be me, and that is a huge change from a year ago when I was still stuck in a corporate box.

Appreciation

Today, 9/17, was a day off. It is hot around here, but I didn\’t make it out of bed in time for running in cool temperature. Instead, I headed off to a state park about 25 miles away. That park is mostly forest, so runnable even if it is very hot. It has a 2.75 mile paved bike path. It is a hilly park so climbing muscles get used. I had a lovely time for 2.5 hours.

I spent some of today\’s run thinking about the road less traveled. I am unbelievably happy to be outside the system of 5 day work weeks. I am also outside the television system and the religion system and the meat eater system and the sedentary system and the over eating getting fat system and the big house system and the dote on your children system, and the corporate manager system.

I am also incredibly pleased to be part of the gig economy. I\’m happy to be working even though technically retired. And I look around at the gray hairs standing behind cash registers and I know that we share a secret. Many of us are not there primarily for the money. We are there because we want to be and are receiving non-physical riches.

After I came home from running, and showered, I took a nap and read a book. I suddenly had to put the book down for a moment and cry over how grateful and appreciative I am to have my life. I just feel wonderful, even about the difficult job at Starbucks. I feel hopeful of my future and the slow molding of thoughts which is my writing project. I feel hopeful about running long term. I love being free of the systems. (Aside: I should mention that Starbucks is difficult because it is on your feet, involves lifting and being on the go for 6 or so hours. The physical is the challenging part. So different from the difficulties from my corporate desk job.)

In my life, there were many roads not taken. And, many times where I\’ve failed to complete someone else\’s road and had to quit. But now I feel as if all the roads I\’ve taken brought me to the exact right spot. The exact right spot is not for the rich and famous. It is for the thoughtful. It is for the runner. It is for enjoyment and fascination.

I have spent my life involved with mental improvement and spiritual studies. Somehow, this has resulted in a great deal of healing. I now think of my parents fondly. Fondly! Incredible since ours was a classic alcoholic and dysfunctional home. I think of various experiences I\’ve had and am grateful for the journey. I\’m excited that the journey is not over. I can envision where it is going and how it will feel. I know so.

The end of The Road not Taken by Robert Frost:
\”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.\”

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:

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.

Man I Feel Good

This morning was another early morning at Starbucks. Today I worked the whole time on the front, which means I served the face to face walk in customers, made coffee and helped with food. After a 6.5 hour shift, driving home, man I felt so happy. I worked hard and feel happy. Incredible!

But before that, I got up at 3 am in order to have time to connect with my spirit before going to work. My spiritual reading was of my own writings. Well, actually editing my own writings. But also musing the spirituality of it, and talking to my higher self about it. I remembered a key point to my whole retirement. I wanted to be alive, that is, know I am alive while I am alive and experience the aliveness of it.

For some reason, I didn\’t feel this while I had a career.

Starbucks is a great place to feel alive.

Abraham Hicks (check it out on YouTube) has helped me to choose happiness. \”I am happy because I want to be happy.\” I try to set an intention or a feeling of joy before I go to work. It is a very subtle feeling that I find before work. But after work, the happy feeling was 100 times more than my pre-paving. Obviously felt, and I still feel it now hours later.

I even got to teach it today. One of the guys likes to say he is only plastering on his happy face and doesn\’t really feel happy. I told him it was up to him and didn\’t buy into the culture of not being happy or not wanting to be at work.

I like feeling happy. I have decided to feel happy. And so I feel happy.

I also love myself now. Growing up in an alcoholic home, there was no chance of being taught how to love yourself, regardless of the other people. Abraham Hicks helped with this also.

Most humans, talking the first worlders now, aren\’t happy. I wasn\’t happy for most of my life even with an engineering career. I wasn\’t really alive either. I mainly survived each workday, could hardly wait to leave. I didn\’t know how to be alive and didn\’t know how to choose how I feel. Is there something about today\’s white collar corporate or financial jobs that makes this very difficult? While working at Starbucks makes this very easy?

It could have something to do with sitting at a desk for eight hours staring at a computer. That could be why there is a FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement. These FIRE  people know they hate their white collar jobs, but these are the jobs that pay alot. So, save your money and get out as soon as you can.

In other news:
Monday I ran very fast for 13.25 miles.
Tuesday I did a slow 13 miles.
Wednesday rode the elliptical for 35 minutes. And worked.
Thursday I hill walked for 7 miles. And worked
Friday I ran medium speed 10 miles.
Saturday I rode the elliptical for 50 minutes and lifted weights. And worked.

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.

Wanting to Live

A strange new thought occurred to me today. A thought which I believe was the result of spiritual work.

I was on my 30 minute meal break at Starbucks. I was walking to my car to sit and eat. This thought passed through my mind, \”I want to relish every minute that I am at Starbucks, not wish that it was over soon.\” Wow, it was a thought easily expanded to my whole attitude and outlook on life and how my view seems to have transformed.

See, for most of my life, I wondered why was I alive. I mean, what good am I? Why would God make me? Sure, I\’m a pretty good person, but there isn\’t anything \”great\” about me. I am above average smart yes. I\’m in extreme good health, unlike most 60 year olds. I did my career. I\’ve been sober for 33 years. But, I really had no purpose for being alive.

And I spent most of my career wishing it was over. I saved money for the purpose of getting away from my career as soon as possible. And well, I guess I\’ve wanted life to be over as soon as possible too. Everything I ever did with my life was a chore and I wanted it to be over, so I could rest.

So today, when I actually felt how much I could be aware and awake and liking working at Starbucks, I….   woke up!

Wait, I want to be alive for every second of my life from now on. I don\’t need a purpose. I just want to experience my life. I don\’t want to just go through the motions, hoping it would be over soon.

I have suddenly dropped the rock of having to have a purpose for my life, or even doing anything good while I am here. I just want to be alive in my own life, to see it, to be awake in it. Not just hope life will quit bothering me soon.

And so I am free.

Monday Reflection

Is it Monday? No problem. It is my Saturday.

Weird thing about working at Starbucks, I can hardly wait to go back to it. I don\’t think that ever happened with my career job.

The Easter Bunny was working at Starbucks yesterday:

I never wore bunny ears to my career job. That was for grocery store clerks and other poor low wage under achievers. Ha! I had alot of fun when people noticed that a bunny was taking their order. None of my other partners did bunny ears. I\’m glad I can be silly.

Yesterday afternoon, I took a trail run at Hodge park. These trails are very easy, very runnable. They twist and turn through the trees so you lose a sense of where you are. Meditation occurs because your brain is focused on rocks and roots; not anything of the world. There were no trails like this near my house in Texas. In Kansas City, I have access to several parks with trails, near my house. Super. Next weekend, I am going in a trail half marathon. Should be fun.

I didn\’t pay to much attention to the religious aspect of Easter. It has been a long time since I was involved in religion. I stopped supporting the Catholic Church when Pope Benedict was elected, because, in my opinion, he was the \”priest predator protector in chief.\” I think predator priests belong in jail, and non-celibate priests should go find another denomination which approves of sex and marriage for clergy. I also think that the Catholic Church has rules about celibacy for priests because it wants to own and control both the priests and The Eucharist. No one can own The Eucharist, and no one should own a priest. I decided that Jesus wouldn\’t support that church. I became spiritual not religious.

Last Friday, a couple pastors from a church came into Starbucks. They wanted to buy everybody\’s coffee for an hour, and hand out cards announcing their Easter services. The shift supervisor allowed it. From my point of view, this was a pain in the ass. When someone makes an order, a sticker is printed which goes on their cup, and then the bar knows what to put in that cup. But the church guy didn\’t give me his credit card and tell me to go to town. No, he wanted to pay at the end. So each order took 3 times as long to process because I had to take it to a certain point, save it so the sticker would print, copy it onto a different register, then void it on my register. And, I had to explain to people that a church wanted to buy their coffee and that they should go get a card from that guy over there. I wasn\’t that enthusiastic about making this speech, mainly because I\’m not a proselytizer for any church. I am in favor of nourishing the soul, which Starbucks coffee does.

Most people were happy for a free coffee. Some didn\’t want a church buying their coffee. I don\’t know if any lost souls got a free coffee and went to that church for the first time this weekend. \”He is risen,\” is the cry that went out from all the Christian churches. Anybody who really believes the religious story of Jesus probably already belongs to a church. My own story is that I decided long ago to \”shamelessly follow Jesus.\” That vow takes me to truth, inner truth, the truth of my being. And so, here I am, just me as Source made me.

Source made me good.period.