Making Yourself Proud, Happy and Grateful

There is so much that happens in life that is beyond our control (for details, see: The World We Live In!).

I don’t think it is much of a revelation to point out that if we focus on the many things over which we have little-to-zero control, it is an easy way to feel helpless, powerless, and even at risk for despair.

And I think most of us can agree that, easy as it may be to go that route, it is not particularly helpful nor desirable.

So I invite you today to reflect on the power you do have in having some say over things. Because I daresay it is more substantial than it may appear.

Take a moment and reflect on some of the many positive things that never would have happened were it not for specific, intentional decisions you made, initiative you took, or opportunities you seized. You can ponder this in respect to the past week, month, year, or even the entirety of your life.

If you spend some time on this (seriously, take an hour or so and journal on it), I think you may be surprised by just how much agency you actually have, even in the face of All Things Uncontrollable.

For example:

  • You may have initiated contact with someone that led to a lasting friendship (or, you may have been on the receiving end of such a gesture and been open to it).
  • You may have made a suggestion that set into place the actual occurrence of something, be it a fun evening with a group of friends or a business idea that proved to have some legs.
  • You may have improved the quality of someone else’s day through a simple, kind gesture such as a phone call; a supportive letter, card, or email; a visit; or a surprise delivery of homemade food.
  • You may have made a decision to cut out an unnecessary expense that, over time, saved you a significant amount of money.
  • You may have purchased something, large or small, that greatly improved your life or someone else’s in some way.
  • You may have made a decision to try out a new recipe that became a family favorite.
  • You may have made a decision to quit a bad habit that had innumerable positive effects on yourself and your loved ones.
  • You may have come to someone’s assistance in a way that was profoundly meaningful to them.
  • You may have altered the entire course of your life by deciding to make a move, literally or figuratively.

(If you’re stuck coming up with examples, think back on some of your favorite memories and ask yourself what role did you play in having those experiences come to be? If you were there, you played some part!)

If you do this exercise, you may find the results staggering and empowering, and it may cause you to look ahead at the coming new calendar year more optimistically and imaginatively.

I also suspect there will be some key themes or patterns you may find in the decisions you have made that, upon reflection, make you proud, happy, and/or grateful (and who doesn’t want more of those in their memory banks?!).

For one thing, these have likely been decisions that reflect your most cherished values. So, it goes without saying that taking some time to consider the values you wish to embody further and prioritize moving forward might help you brainstorm ideas for how you might make yourself proud, happy, and grateful in the year ahead.

Ask yourself: how can I be more Courageous? Loving? Adventurous? Kind? Generous? Fun? In general, and with whom?

In regard to making things (or helping to make things) happen – that otherwise wouldn’t have, and that you can feel glad about – here are three obvious but important points to consider:

1. Have a Plan.

A plan is not a guarantee of results. But a plan is a blueprint for intentional action, and greatly increases the likelihood of success with almost any endeavor. What are you aiming for? What preparations and logistics need to be considered? How can you set yourself up for success? At some point, your project may take on an unforeseen life of its own, but even that wouldn’t have had an opportunity to arise were it not for your initial plan.

2. Getting Started is (Often) the Hardest Part.

Overcoming inertia – getting ourselves to begin – is a common hurdle to achieving anything worthwhile. For writers, it can be summed up in three words: butt in chair. It could be getting yourself out the door to begin a workout. It could be making the phone call you’re avoiding, getting up early, or doing something new for the first time. It’s doing the uncomfortable thing.

But once you’ve begun, you get to benefit from Newton’s first law of motion: paraphrased, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. In other words, once you begin something, you are likely to be propelled forward by momentum.

3. Show Up.

Once you overcome the inertia and get yourself to the literal or metaphorical starting line, the rest is just a matter of doing the next thing in front of you to do. You’re there, and other aspects of the situation beyond just your own will, such as the environment you are now in, the structure of the activity, the social pressure, etc., will be all the push you need to see the thing through.

***

Here’s a simple, recent example from my own life:

The Backbone Trail is a 67-mile-long continuous hiking path in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area that has long been of interest to me. I’ve hiked portions of it over the years, but never the entire thing. Being Angelenos, this is a close-to-home adventure (perfect for Covid times) for my wife and me. We both love hiking and exploring beautiful natural places (we met 16 years ago on a local Sierra Club hike), so I suggested to her that we do this together.

There are a number of ways you can break the distance up into manageable day hikes, and we decided to follow the guidance of an LA Times piece that divides the trail into eight point-to-point segments.

Even though we were both on board with the idea and knew we would enjoy the experience, there were still some psychological hurdles to overcome. These are hikes that require some advance planning, including getting up early enough to allow time for placing a car at both the start and end points of each hike, as well as traversing the distances on foot at a relaxed pace, especially during the shortest hours of daylight of the year. We needed to have our food planned out, as well; not a huge task, but still one that requires some planning and preparation. And we needed to resist the temptation to sleep in on cold winter weekend mornings! In other words: we had to commit to doing this.

But, sure enough – by planning, overcoming inertia, and showing up – we completed the first section together on Christmas Day. Starting from the gorgeous coastline at the Ray Miller Trailhead in Pt. Mugu State Park, we hiked eight miles through the mountains to Danielson Ranch (inside lovely Sycamore Canyon), and another three miles from there to the closest parking lot (Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa) from which to shuttle ourselves back to the start.

The hike did not disappoint! The scenery was expansive, varied, and breathtaking, the weather also varied but perfect throughout the day, the mountains aromatic with the pleasing scent of sagebrush, the peaceful silence a salve from life in the big city.

Seven more sections to go!

The takeaway here is that we can seize the agency we have in an effort to give ourselves positive experiences and lasting memories. We can create joy and meaning for ourselves where and when and however we can, even if we cannot control the shape of world events at large. A good, and perhaps necessary, reminder to take with us into 2022.

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On Giving Birth and Pursuing Dreams

Twenty-five years ago this month, I gave birth. To an album of original songs.

Back in those days of yore the Internet, at least in terms of wide usage, was in its infancy, and the compact disc (CD) was the go-to format for both purchasing (yes, purchasing!) and listening to recorded music.

I finished the album in September of 1996, shortly after turning 24 years old, and held the finished product – a shrink-wrapped, professionally packaged CD direct from the manufacturer – in my hands for the first time that December.

Though the moment of opening the box and pulling out a record store-ready disc was strangely anti-climactic, the achievement it represented was nothing short of the realization of a lifelong dream I had spent years actively working toward.

Having been rejected or ignored by 75 record companies, I released the album on my own small label, Hominid Records, which had a business license, PO box, toll-free number, checking account, and staff of one (yours truly). The label operated out of my bedroom in the single-floor house I was sharing with a drummer roommate in Nashville.

Though the disc did receive some airplay on radio stations across the U.S., the hoped-for-with-all-my-being music career that I believed the CD would help me launch never came to be, despite Herculean efforts on my part.

That said, I was – and still am – damn proud of it. I made the best album I was capable of, and on quite a limited budget. I took painful personal experiences and feelings, mixed in some hopes, philosophies, and a heap of musical influences and inspirations, and fashioned them into my own words and music.

I collaborated with a seriously talented friend to realize my vision for each song in his recording studio. I gathered amazing musicians, most of whom I met at writer’s nights or day jobs all over Nashville, to play on the album. Without being beholden to any record company executives or financiers, I claimed total creative freedom over the project. I paid for it myself. I put my heart and soul and countless hours into it, on the studio clock and off. I made a ton of decisions and stretched myself in myriad ways. I learned by doing.

I then did everything I could to get it out into the world, to see what would happen…

***

Pursuing your dreams is risky business. No matter your dedication, drive, hard work, talent, and/or anything else, there are no guarantees of how things will turn out. Life owes none of us anything.

When you invest yourself wholeheartedly, when you allow yourself to care deeply and passionately about something or someone, you risk incredible heartache. It comes with the territory.

Music not panning out as a career for me, despite giving it my all until I had nothing left in the tank, broke my heart. The wound cut deep. My confidence took a major hit, I suffered a crisis of identity, and experienced what some refer to as a dark night of the soul.

But you know what?

I regret none of it.

We are here for a short time. Why waste the precious gift that is your life not pursuing your biggest dreams and most heartfelt desires?

Do you think you will spare yourself heartache by not doing so? Maybe you will.

Everything in life, after all, is trade-offs. We must each decide for ourselves what trade-offs are worth it to us to make, what we are willing and not willing to risk or attempt.

These are personal decisions, and ones only you can make for yourself. Whatever you decide, you – after all – are the one who must live with the consequences.

My personal opinion is that if there is a “goal” to aspire to for this bizarre situation we find ourselves in called a human life, it might be to minimize regret.

Yes, pursuing your dreams is risky business, and could very well lead to heartache. But what about the heartache of being on your deathbed and realizing you never even tried? From that vantage point, not pursuing your dreams is perhaps the riskiest business of all.

So why not be courageous then? There is no such thing as guaranteed safety or permanent security. These may be compelling illusions, but they are illusions nonetheless.

Incidentally, the heartbreak we experience in life, while not something most of us would ever seek out, has the capacity to transform us in profoundly positive ways. We can become stronger, wiser, and more resilient people for it. We can shed old ideas of ourselves that may have been misguided, unhelpful, or incomplete. We can feel a closer connection to other souls everywhere, dead or alive, because most, if not all, of us at some point experience some form of heartbreak.

Giving birth – to a literal child, a piece of art, or a new version of yourself – is an act of courage. No matter how devoted a parent you may be, you have no idea how the child you raise will ultimately turn out or fare in the world. Your control over such things is limited. That can be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.

Yet, you love your child with all your heart anyway and do the best job you can on her behalf, and this alone will likely shape you into a more loving, capable, mature, compassionate, and overall better human. Your child, whatever becomes of her, may become your greatest teacher. And she just might grow up to be a blessing to others, as well.

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The Sky Always Wins

While vacationing in Utah several years ago, Samantha and I found ourselves in the visitor center of Arches National Park, watching a film on the area’s dramatic natural history.

The narrator was explaining the forces and processes that, over tens of millions of years, created the confounding and awe-inspiring landscape we were now privileged to behold. The signature geological feature in the park, of course, is its many naturally-formed arches, designs that seem improbable but are plentiful throughout (and beyond) the park’s acreage. 

The precarious nature of these formations was highlighted in the film; it was pointed out that some previously documented arches had already collapsed and, eventually, all of those currently standing would face the same fate. New ones, meanwhile, were emerging, if ever so slowly and not always perceptibly through the lens of the human eye. 

In the description of how the elements shape these rocks over time, one particular line of narration stood out to me so much I’ve never forgotten it:

“In the battle between the rocks and the sky…[dramatic pause]…the sky always wins.”

If Planet Earth is a casino, the sky, apparently, is the house. There is no “winning” to be had by us mortals in the long run. We exist only with the permission of the elements around us, and are subject to their reliably unpredictable whims. 

Yet…here we are! As unlikely, perhaps, as naturally formed rock arches. Each of us is here for our time in the sun, and then gone (pretty much instantly from the perspective of those rocks, regardless of our lifespan). 

Though our stay at The Sky Resort & Casino is decidedly brief and our ultimate fate already sealed, we do have some choices to make with the hands we are dealt. While these choices might not matter much in the grand scheme of things, they will still have an effect on the quality of our experience and the experiences of those around us, maybe even a radical one. And that matters, wouldn’t you say?

Perhaps the most important choices we can make are in regard to our attitudes. Whatever happens to us, we can choose how to view it, how to see it, how to interpret it, how to respond to it. 

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden put it this way: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

In other words: the sky always wins. But while we are briefly living under it, we can decide to make the best of and the most of our experience that we can, whatever rains down on us from above.

Posted in Philosophical Musings, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Navigating Life Through Uncertainty (Three New Videos)

This week I added three new videos to my YouTube channel. They all address, in one form or another, the challenge of living in the face of uncertainty. I hope you find some helpful takeaways within:

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How to Build Self-Discipline (Video)

This week I launched a brand new YouTube channel as an experiment in creating and sharing video content. I’ve posted three videos thus far, two short ones and this longer one, called “How to Build Self-Discipline”:

Feel free to subscribe to the channel if you so desire.

And, if you enjoy the above video, you may also want to check out my new online course entitled “Opening to Greater Possibilities” – you can learn more about the course and access a free preview of it here.

Thanks, and all best wishes! 🙏☮💗

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Kindsight

Have you ever noticed it can be far easier to treat other people with kindness than to do the same for yourself? You might be able to hold great compassion in your heart for others as they face life’s difficulties, yet be merciless toward yourself whenever you feel you have fallen short in some way.

Why is this? Why do we internally beat ourselves up in ways we would never think of outwardly doing to someone else?

Back in the ‘90s, Chris Farley captured this phenomenon brilliantly in a recurring comedy sketch called “The Chris Farley Show” on Saturday Night Live. (If you’ve never seen it, Google the segment in which he interviews Paul McCartney.)

In the sketch, Farley plays a version of himself who is endearingly sweet but nervous to the hilt as he interviews his celebrity guests. His character gets so upset over his own performance as interviewer he literally smacks himself on the head and berates himself out loud for asking such “stupid!” questions. His guests have to reassure him he is doing fine just so he can proceed with the interview.

The sketch was lastingly impactful because, through the genius of Farley’s physical comedy, he laid bare a nearly universal psychological experience of self-denigration.

While it may seem obvious that treating ourselves this way is unhelpful, counterproductive, and even harmful, it can be a hard habit to shake.

Something I have noticed upon revisiting old journals of mine is that I seem to be able to generate a great deal more compassion and understanding for my younger self now than I was able to do for myself at the time. I could (and did) judge myself harshly for perceived mistakes and flaws when now I am able to see things a bit differently.

I can see, for instance, how needs of mine were not being met and so of course I behaved the way I did. I can see how I had not yet built certain psychological muscles and had not yet had the benefit of more life experience so of course I was less skillful in certain areas. I can see how I could not predict the future (still can’t) and so how was I to know certain things?

I am also able to give myself a lot more credit for things I was able to do and accomplish, in spite of what were at times trying circumstances. I can actually be impressed with my younger self now over things I did not fully appreciate about myself then.

I have a theory about all of this.

Just as it is hard to have the presence of mind to say or do the perfect thing in the moment you are having a particular experience or encounter (it often occurs to you hours later, right?), I think it is harder to be kind to yourself in the midst of difficulty than it is to do so later on, or when the difficulty is otherwise being experienced outside of yourself – say, by another person, or even a fictional character in a movie or TV show.

In other words, it seems there is a relationship wherein a certain amount of distance optimizes our ability to be compassionate. That distance may take the form of physical and/or mental or emotional separation from the pain being experienced. This would explain why it might be easier to have compassion for a younger version of yourself since, in a sense, that younger version is a different person from the you that you are right now.

The term I use for this phenomenon is kindsight (I thought I had coined it myself years ago, but a quick Google search suggests otherwise). Kindsight, to me, is the ability – through the gift of hindsight – to look back with greater compassion and kindness toward oneself and/or others.

The wisdom derived from your own lived experiences, combined with the distance provided by the passage of time, can allow you to see through more understanding eyes and a more loving heart how you or someone who may have hurt you did the best they could at the time, given the resources they had – or lacked – within themselves. Kindsight can allow you to release some of the baggage from the past that may be weighing you down and move productively forward.

I believe the world would benefit from a lot more kindsight. In order to move on from our own mistakes, be they “real” or imagined/presumed, we must be able to forgive ourselves and love the person who made them. We must afford ourselves the same understanding and compassion we would give to any other person we deeply care about (or, in some cases, that we would even bestow upon a complete stranger).

Take a moment today and offer yourself a generous heaping of kindsight. A younger version of you buried deep within might just be yearning for it.

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Opening to Greater Possibilities…is Here!

I am very pleased and excited to announce that my brand new online course, Opening to Greater Possibilities, has arrived and is now available for purchase! 🥳

I am super proud of this course. It was a true labor of love to create, and I hope and trust that it shows.

Consider this the official launch, and you (my blog readers) the first to know and have access to it.

I have crafted an offer that I hope will appeal very strongly to those who would be most interested in and most benefit from this course.

You can find all of the details here.

Thank you for checking it out, and here’s to us all opening to greater possibilities: for ourselves, our loved ones, and the planet and its inhabitants at large. 💗🙏☮

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Life on the Other Side (Thus Far), Including a Creative Breakthrough

In the last post, Observations from the Other Side, here is a point I did not make:

When we are on the “before” side of a big decision, we can only speculate what things will be like on the other side of that decision. Our speculation can be informed by both past experiences as well as our innate human capacity of imagination. Some things may be known, or surmised, in advance; others can’t be.

I knew in advance of my own decision that, as I put it in this post on the subject:

I want to change the direction of this story, and leaving the job forces me to do just that.

Starting now, for sure, my day-to-day life will be different! I am well aware that “different” doesn’t always translate to “better”. I am signing up for certain challenges and stresses that I may otherwise have avoided or continued putting off.

I already knew – incredibly well – what delaying my decision looked like.

What I didn’t – and couldn’t – entirely know was what things would look like on the other side of it. That’s what makes big decisions scary. That’s why they require courage. And, perhaps, faith.

However, it is only on the other side of a big decision that we gain the real perspective. We see more clearly – perhaps with something akin to disbelief – what we had been putting up with, accepting, tolerating, or settling for, when we didn’t actually have to be. It might have felt like we had to. It might have felt like we had no real choice. But now, on the other side, we know otherwise. We know because we made another choice…and lived to tell!

If you are on the other side of a big decision and looking back at your “old life” wondering why it took you so long to make a change, I hope that you will have much compassion for your younger self.

Perhaps we wish we could have made such a decision sooner. But, for whatever reason, we were not ready or equipped to do so.

In life, things take us as long as they take us.

Despite the external appearances of some folks, and despite the social media “highlight reels” we are subjected to, the truth (as I see it) is that we are all beginners at this thing called life. Some things come more easily to us than they do others. And some things come far more easily to others than they do us. It is best not to judge ourselves (nor others, if you can manage that! 😉). It is best to have compassion for both.

A couple of quotes I love that speak to this point:

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“But this I know: if all mankind were to take their troubles to market with the idea of exchanging them, anyone seeing what his neighbor’s troubles were like would be glad to go home with his own.”
― Herodotus

I am not suggesting all of us suffer equally. I am suggesting, though, that suffering is damn near universal. And, even for the most fortunate among us, our fortunes can turn on the flip of the Universe’s switch, and the mere awareness of this can create immeasurable suffering in and of itself!

So: compassion is the way to go. With others, and with ourselves. This lesson alone can take a lifetime or longer to really grasp to the point where we are living it on a regular basis. I’m working on it myself, sometimes achieving greater success than others.

***

In the last post I promised to reveal the big “creative breakthrough” I recently experienced.

There is no question in my mind that, in my case, this would not have been possible without having first quit my job. I am not saying this is the Answer for you. I am fully aware that not everyone who wants to do the same is in a position to do so. (It takes as long as it takes…in my case, in part it required building up enough of a savings cushion to be willing to take the leap and the risk.)

But the gift of space and time was, for me, essential to my getting to said breakthrough and then riding the momentum of it once I did.

Back in October 2020 or so, I first came up with the idea for a book. I worked on it in fits and starts but never really gained a lot of headway with it.

In January of this year (before quitting my job, still) I published this post, in which I solicited input from readers to help inform the subject matter I was writing about. Which was, in a word: stuckness.

As further explorations and sub-topics occurred to me, I added to what became an entirely disorganized and unwieldy mess of a Word document. I managed to write an introduction I was pleased with, but the task of laboring through all that followed in an attempt to make it coherent felt weighty and burdensome.

One day in the latter part of May (after having already quit the job and settled in a bit to this new reality), I sat down to write out an anecdote I wanted to use to illustrate a key point about how our beliefs inform our actions and results in life. It was a simple story from my childhood, but I labored for hours to get the wording just right, chiseling and fine-tuning the sentences but never feeling fully satisfied with it.

At some point, I said to myself: this is ridiculous. If I were telling someone this story in person, it would take me all of a few minutes. And it would probably make a more lasting impression because I’d be able to employ my vocal and facial expressiveness to convey the story rather than rely exclusively on typed words to do all of the work.

An aha moment.

What if I experimented with video? What if I used the simple tool at my disposal (namely, my MS Surface Pro) to record myself telling the story, the way I would to someone in person?

It proved to be a revelation.

For eight weeks straight, I was on fire creatively, refashioning the unwieldy Word document, as well as ideas that emerged during the process of recording itself, into a full-fledged digital course. I cannot recall the last time I was so absorbed in a larger-scale creative project. It was amazing!

I worked day-and-night on it, but motivation was high, continuous, and completely unforced. Recording, editing, tweaking. Rinse, lather, repeat.

It felt like this was a project that had been gestating for years. And now I finally had the means of birthing it into being. It was ripe!

The result: an online course I will be offering soon, entitled Opening to Greater Possibilities.

(If this had remained a book idea, who knows if/when I ever would have completed it. Now, in course format, it is done. A concrete example of the theme of the course! 😊)

OTGP covers a wide variety of ways in which we can access and explore more of the possibility space around us, so that we can live with greater vitality, deliberateness, joy, and authenticity. The emphasis is on practical suggestions that are highly actionable. It reflects a lifetime of lessons learned and insights gleaned, and includes a number of personal stories to enhance the ideas within and give them a bit more substance. The vibe is positive, supportive, genuine, and intimate.

I am super proud of it! 😂

Here are some of the specifics:

OTGP consists of 12 modules (not including a short introduction and a course wrap-up).

• Each module features a video lesson (average length: 25 minutes), plus an accompanying PDF that highlights key points, sometimes includes supplemental material, and features journaling prompts to stimulate ideas and generate possibilities!

OTGP is self-paced. It is designed to be a resource one can return to whenever in need of ideas, a refresher, or a jump-start. It is chock-full of suggestions, and no doubt different ones will jump out and appear relevant for participants as they, and life circumstances, change. So, lifetime access will be granted to those who invest in it.

• There are optional discussion threads within, so – to the extent that participants care to – they can add to existing discussions or start their own. This adds a nice social component to what is otherwise a “private” course experience.

• A group of beta-testers has already gone through it, and some tweaks have been made as a result. The feedback has been stellar!

Now comes the challenge of putting it out into the world. Of getting it into the hands of those who would most benefit from it.

To that effect, I have been immersing myself in the overwhelming world of learning about digital sales and marketing. A lot if it, honestly, turns me off. I have decided I will simply not do those things that make me squirm, however effective they may be at “sales conversion”. I insist on treating those who would receive my offerings – and communications about them – as human beings worthy of respect, not simply “targets”, “numbers”, “wallets”, etc.

The goal is to reach those who would most benefit from the course and offer it to them, and  to charge a fair price that also honors what it took for me to create the thing.

Whether I like it or not, accomplishing this goal necessitates a certain amount – perhaps a large amount – of marketing savvy in the digital world.

I have come to the realization that, no matter how much I study, I am not going to be anywhere near as skilled at this as people who actually know the field. And, so, I am putting aside my DIY tendencies and willingly soliciting help from the right person/people/team. I have been interviewing freelancers on Upwork, and it has been reminiscent of my Internet dating experiences from many years ago! 😧 Still, I’m pressing on…

If you happen to be knowledgeable in this realm – or can refer me to someone who is skilled, reliable, has integrity, and would be interested in working with me on a project like this – please let me know.

Thanks, and more to come as I get closer to launching the course!

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Observations from the Other Side

No, dear reader, I have not died, and am not writing to you from the Great Beyond…

By “other side” I am referring to being on the other side of a major life decision. 😂

As some of you following this blog are already aware, I quit my job (of six-and-a-half years) earlier this year.

For the full scoop on how I arrived at that decision, see this post.

As detailed there, this decision took a lot of time, perseverating, and, ultimately, courage to make. I won’t belabor the points already made in that previous post. Rather, I will report here on my experiences since making that decision and my perspective on things a little further down the road.

The six-word version, for those short on time: I’m so glad I did it.

The more nuanced version follows.

Reclaiming ownership of my time was a tremendous gift to myself. Because I have a cushion of savings, I was able to not go directly into panic mode.

Still, I would not describe the time that has elapsed thus far as “relaxed”. Wherever you go, as they say, there you are. If you are bent toward existential angst, for example, odds are you will continue to experience that, even after making a big change that feels right. (Not that I know anyone like that. 😉)

Liberated from the tedium of my old job-related duties, though, I have been able to breathe anew. Giving myself this time and space has allowed me to more deeply delve into ideas that come my way, and to act upon more of them, and more frequently.

It hasn’t alleviated all worries, not by a long shot. I’ve essentially traded in one form of stress for another. So far, though, I can report that it has been absolutely worth it. It’s the stress I have willingly chosen, and for good reason (again, see this post)!

My approach has not been one of enacting some Grand Master Plan for transitioning from workaday existence to successfully-self-employed existence. Even if I had such a plan, I know better than to presume things would fall right into place. That’s not how the world I’m familiar with (after nearly five decades of experience here) works.

Instead, it has been more of a “one day at a time” existence in which I check in with myself through frequent journaling and determine my next “right-feeling” steps, one at a time, as they reveal themselves to me. And, of course, I am realizing the necessity of flexibility. I try out ideas, see how they go, and pivot/shift/adjust accordingly.

I’ve actually found myself working harder, and longer hours, than while employed. The difference, though, is that I’m working on things (or working on figuring out things) that matter to me.

It’s a big difference.

Of course, one still gets sidelined by the occurrences of everyday life, as is inevitable. A pulled muscle here, a dealing-with-insurance-companies-issue-that-takes-forever-to-resolve there.

So, when these things happen, you deal with them and, to the extent that they derail you from more productive and interesting tasks, resume your intended endeavors as soon as you are able.

The irony is not lost on me that this mode of existence – diving into solopreneurship and figuring things out as you go – requires that I face head-on three of my biggest lifelong challenges, which I documented back in this post from nearly seven years ago.

Those challenges (lifelong ones for me) are:

1) Patience.
2) Detachment from results.
3) TRUST…in life, myself, the Universe, what have you.

Another challenge that has come up has been one of balance. When I was an employee, it was so much easier to switch out of work mode once I clocked out, and actually have a better balance of self-care activities, hobbies, etc.

Jobless, I have more time to incorporate balance. Yet I find myself obsessed with business-related tasks, reading and research, and not actually carving out said time in a balanced way. This is not a complaint, mind you, merely an observation (from the other side!).

Part of this lack of balance feels right. The situation demands, for a time and to an extent, that I be out of balance, that I be consumed with getting things (namely, income-generating things) moving. However, I can see that this is not a good long-term strategy for living, and so I must figure out a way to incorporate some balance now, even if/when a lack of balance seems appropriate. Because I can see this becoming a trap one can easily fall into if one is not careful.

All of that said, I’ll tell you something really cool about being on “the other side”:

As my savings has been creeping steadily through the pinched center of the financial hourglass that I have willingly flipped over, I’ve already done, and grown, quite a bit. And I am learning new things every day!

Some highlights to show for the adventure thus far:

• I now have a basic website up and running on http://ericteplitz.com. Finally. After having had the domain name (I kid you not) for 15 years without ever having done anything with it. It’s a work in progress, but it’s a start.

• I have begun coaching. While I still have much to learn in regard to both the practice itself and the marketing end of things, this feels like a fit and a good use of myself. It is work I can bring my full self to, in the name of helping people with issues that really matter to them. It is creative, people-centered, and a stimulator of growth on both the client’s end and my own. This feels like it is part of my reinvention puzzle. Time will tell how much of a part.

• Due in large part to my solopreneurial efforts and endeavors, I have been reaching out to more people, and nurturing relationships old and new in ways I likely wouldn’t have prior to making the Decision.

• Most significantly, I experienced a real creative breakthrough! The details of which I will save for the next post, so stay tuned… 😊

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New Article on Tiny Buddha

My newest post can be found on the website Tiny Buddha:

It was a challenge to attempt to convey this highly personal story in ~2000 words, but I did my best.

Many thanks to Tiny Buddha for the honor of having it published on their renowned blog!

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