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Personal

Revised Listserve… and the Hamster Wheel

June 18, 2016
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It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.

I wrote a post a while ago on what I would write if I won the listserve. It’s a cool community of about 25,000 people, all over the world, who are on an email list. Every single day a new winner emerges and gets to write a single email to the ever-growing subscriber list. That email can say whatever you want it to say, you can write and inform and inspire and vent and reminisce as long as you don’t add any links of any kind. So, no links to your business or website or blog or whatever, but you can promote yourself or your music or your art or your creativity or whatever, any way you’d like.

Communities that captivate…

I’ve been an avid member of this community for over a year now, I’ve never won…..bummer. Yet there is still hope that I will one day have my time in the spotlight to speak to the other members of this community.

The Listserve in textI’ve been captivated by people’s willingness to share their lives, it’s as breathtaking as it is depressing. And I mean that in a way that connotes true deep sadness from my own life. Because…. I think I’ve forgotten the meaning of my own life. People talk about certain moments in their life that changed them, parents discuss their child being transgender, or how saving the life of a stranger morphed them, or how their job could either help or destroy a life, or a high-schooler contemplating his options for college and how it’s such a dramatic decision. People take these moments, they take their lives, and they need to attach a meaning to it, because meaning is what we are all here for.

We all have meaning…it’s the reason we do things we don’t necessarily want to do.

We all have meaning (or at least I hope we do), it’s the reason we get up in the morning, it’s the reason we do things we don’t necessarily want to do. But without that meaning, life is lost. I feel as we grow older, that meaning changes into something we didn’t necessarily mean it to change into. I get that dreams fade, or disappear, or you tell yourself you’re an adult now, so your dream of being an artist has just got to be a hobby. And that’s ok, except for when you resign yourself to the fact that “this is it” — that’s a horrible place to be.

People say get a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. But as most of us know, that’s hard to do. If you had millions of dollars and never had to work another day in your life, what would you spend your time doing?

The heartbreak that I feel sometimes and this dysphoria inside makes me gaze back on my previous years, the ones that are long behind me, yet still dance around my mind like party-goers on a mischievous night. I’ve had moments too that change me. Moments that add meaning to my life. Moments that are so meaningful you segment your life into two sections: before this moment, and after it.

It makes me want to search again, to find anything that’s meaningful, to feel anything that isn’t the numbness of my everyday life. But I’m here, writing this post, instead of out there, trying to live.

inspiring sunset over an island ocean
Random Sunset Image
Hopefully that cheered you up from my depressing rant!

I glimpse inward and realize that my life has come to a cross-roads…as many lives do over the course of a natural life-span. I am not close to where I want to be. I am living on the edge of a precipice that is miles outside the inner warmth of my most prized possession—my happiness. And I believe I’m not alone.

Technology and its correlation to our lives…

I recently wrote a post on the affects of technology in our culture and I’ve briefly searched the internet to find a lot more on the subject: We are not obligated to build our lives around technology and Technology is changing how we live, but it needs to change how we work. And the list goes on and on… The point to make here is that many of us, and I do mean many, use technology as their crutch or their excuse. I know I do. To not live a life that you truly want. It’s gotten so easy to be distracted by technology, and work, and emails, and Facebook, that I have to wonder to myself if we’re all really living anymore. And I think there’s a direct correlation to people’s (I don’t want to called it unhappiness, but..) uneasiness of their current situations. Many people live to work, right? Find a good job, find a career, get married, have kids, stability, savings, retirement….oh retirement, now I can pursue the things I want?? I know people say “well…that’s just life..” but I ask — “does it have to be?

Sustainable living versus the hamster wheel of life

I recently started looking into articles about people living off the grid. I know, we’ve all heard that term, and do we really understand what it means? Well, off the grid means you live a sustainable life, which means if something happened to the city water supply or electricity went down for an entire county, you’d be comfortable! I found this article about the off-the-grid guy and how he went from paying thousands and thousands of dollars every year on things like sewage, water, and electricity to paying only $300 per year in bills, that’s pretty awesome! If you want to read his story, check it out – http://www.vice.com/read/a-guy-whos-been-living-off-the-grid-for-20-years-how-i-can-live-more-sustainably

And he’s not the only one who’s done this, there have been others. And now what we’re seeing is that “living off the grid” is being banned in certain areas. That’s right, parts of Canada and the U.S. are now banning living off the grid. Which seems really crappy to me. Because if you take the guy who “lives off the grid” and see what he was paying for bills every year, and what he now pays, that’s a significant decrease. Yet people trying to be sustainable and leave a smaller carbon footprint on the earth, are being banned to do so. Why is that?

I don’t want to call it conspiracy, but we live in a hamster wheel most days. Get a job, buy a house, workCartoon business guy running on a hamster wheel to pay off that house (it’ll only take you a lifetime!), spend money to live in that house on extras like water, electricity, cable, garbage disposal, lawn treatments, repairs, and the list goes on. And this is why humans work constantly, to pay for the American dream that really doesn’t feel like a dream anymore. It feels like a trap.

So….what IS important? I guess my guess is as a good as yours. What’s important to me? I mean, when I really sit down and think about it? My relationships. With my family, my friends, the people I’ve connected with over the years. The things I’m passionate about are important to me like music and writing. The dreams I still have that I won’t let die. I’m also really interested in technology, that’s why I blog about it and work in it. But I can’t use it as a crutch anymore, it needs to be used thoughtfully and not all the time. Otherwise, I feel like my life will just pass by and the days of feeling like I’m really living will be over. I don’t want that, I don’t think anyone does.

And just to be clear, I’m not telling anyone they need to live off the grid or not be on the computer as much. What I’m saying is this… when the road ends for you and you look back on your life, what regrets will you have? What will you wish you would have done? Do that thing….NOW!!!

Technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories

I am totally enthralled with the Amazon Prime original series The Man in the High Castle, it’s ah-mazing and edge-of-your-seat kinda good! Seriously, check it out. But as I sit here and watch, completely enamored with what’s about to come, it dawns on me…. I have my laptop open. How can I be enthralled when the screen I’m looking at is partially blocked by another screen with a brighter contrast (*reminder to turn down my blue light now!)?

   …Technology is everywhere…

It’s there…all the time, where ever we turn. We wake up to an alarm on our smartphone or a buzz on our FitBit. We watch the morning news on our television while we surf articles on our iPad mini. We work all day behind a laptop or a desktop connected to our peers, bosses, coworkers, and friends. We drive to destinations using our GPS, we find destinations using our voices through the advent of intelligent assistants like Siri and Cortana.  Then we “veg” in front of our TV’s watching the latest episode of House of Cards and trying to beat our Angry Birds highest score on our Androids, while stalking our friends on Facebook and Instagram. Technology just isn’t in our culture…it is our culture.

So, I started looking at how I really used technology. And the above paragraph is a pretty accurate assessment. Except, I don’t play games on my smartphone (not much of a game-goer). But technology (because I work in it) is my career, without it, I could not do my job. Could any of us? But separated from work, which we all know is hard to do, how was I using technology?

Well…let’s just say I’ve let it take my life over. I’m texting my friend from WordCamp while I’m grocery shopping. I’m checking my Facebook idled at a red light, I’m looking up “where do I know that actor from?” on my iPad while I’m watching a movie. Technology consumes me…..but I see it consume a lot of people my age. Even my mother plays her puzzle games on her iPad while watching the evening news.

And that’s only one piece of the puzzle of technology in our culture…

The other piece are the feelings, the emotions, and the perceptions. People say all the time that they don’tPeople at a bar on their cellphones let technology affect them, but that’s not true at all.  I see people bogged down with technology at restaurants, too busy intrigued by what their childhood crush is doing at that very moment online to order their food and enjoy the process of eating out with real-life friends.

I hear people say (and write) on Facebook (and other social channels) that they “won’t let other people take them down” or “they aren’t going to worry about what others think of them.” Yet I’ll see from that same person they’ve written some long diatribe that counteracts their statements, and I’m not sure they realize it. Then I’ll read the comments and I’ll see that they definitely didn’t realize it. But here I am reading this rant and these comments and the feelings are all too real. Technology affects us all and in different ways.

Facebook rant image

Let’s look at the opposite end of that. Something really cool happens and we post it online. I bought a new motorcycle and instead of just going for a ride, I take pictures of it and post it on Facebook (this, I’ve actually been guilty of). Is my excitement from getting the motorcycle and the freedom you feel when you ride it? Or is it from showing it off to my online community of “friends”? Maybe both? Not sure if I’ll ever know. We take pictures, we say words to get validation or make a point. But is that point made, or that validation received? Or is that only our perception?

Technology is the vehicle for how we drive our lives and relationships forward

It’s a place we live—online, connected, available, vulnerable. It is, truly, the way most people validate their lives now—through the lens of a blue light. We celebrate our birthday’s online, our promotions at work, our child’s first step. It’s all super important online, what our friends and our peers think about these things, and how that makes us feel. But it should be about how we actually feel about these things.

But obviously, there is a flip-side to all that, as there is in life! People are sharing more than ever online, which can be a good thing depending on the contribution. We have access to information that was never possible before. People display their art, their music, their screenplay, their creativity, their passions all online. And that can be beautiful.

But as I sit here and reread these words, I realize yet another truth, that technology’s burdens to me could be someone else’s beauty….and vice versa.

So, when you’re online, do what you feel is right. Keep it in or out. Wake up to it, or not. Be connected all day or only a small fraction of the day. The reality is that there is no way around it, it’s there and will always be now. As time continues to move forward, those of us who remember what life was like without a computer will slowly fade. And our culture will forever be connected to technology.

In the words of Laurie Anderson, “technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories.”   

I wanna tell some goods ones and contribute to the culture, what do you want to tell?

The Mercy of the Tides

April 5, 2016
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We’re all just ships at the mercy of the tides.

Are we?

I look back on my life, how its stride has quickened and its step increases the older I grow. Yet, do I continue to grow or just exist – with my good job, my city apartment, and my insecurities. A question I seem to be asking myself a lot lately, am I living the life I want?

The short answer, is no. The longer answer isn’t that simple…obviously.

I recently moved back to my home town because of my ability to work wherever there is wifi. I moved all my stuff back down into my parent’s basement cluttering their life with my weighty and burdensome possessions. Stuff I like to call stuff. Stuff I know I don’t need, but hold onto anyway. Why, as a people, are we tethered to goods and objects? I believe it’s because we feel like we’re made of substance when we are surrounded by substance, but it’s mock substance, not real palpable, absolute substance that stems from your passion, your desire.

Last weekend, I saw an old high school friend who I hadn’t seen in close to 15 years. She knew me a long time ago when I was…well, when I wasn’t what I am now. Which is a success story (her words!). But after I thought about it, she’s right, I am a success. In my early twenties after the whole “rock star” dream didn’t come to fruition, I went into somewhat of a downward spiral, drinking a lot, and feeling sorry for myself.

I got my life back on track and worked in a number of different industries including sales, construction, and tech. I fell in love, then out of it. I went to college, didn’t graduate, but I went and learned. Wandered until I found a place I thought I belonged. I like being in Providence, the city is ripe with authenticity, she’s quirky and cool, and walking down Westminster will always cheer me up.

Today, I am on my way to Austin for a tech conference (WOOConference to be exact!) and I’m really looking forward to it! I love events. I like my job, a lot! I make good money, I can work anywhere, I’ve met amazing people over the last few years, and for those of you who know me from the old days – I am definitely a success story. But I’m not so sure I feel like one—and here’s why:

  1. Work – I work an obscene amount of hours. On average I work about 65-70 hours per week. Which, in this day in age, is getting to be the norm. And when I’m done with my day, my head aches and all I want to do is veg.
  2. Stress – the amount of stress you incur working for a fast-paced tech company is demanding. It’s in the air, it’s always there. I’ve learned to recognize it and deal with it, but it can still be hard.
  3. Always on – this means that being in sales at a global tech company you are always on. I go to events a lot (which is cool), but I’m always on. Always talking with someone, always getting an answer for someone, emailing, texting, skyping, slacking, and on and on.
  4. Time – it flies by, literally so fast and I can never get that time back. Which saddens me, I used to be good at time management when my time wasn’t so limited (lol!), but now that my time is spread thin, I need to rework where I allocate my time. This is the world’s (and your life’s) greatest commodity.
  5. Sleep – I’ll wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I sent that email or signed a proposal. My brain operates 24/7 and that’s just a part of the job.

But I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, believe me, I am not. Because here are all the pro’s of being successful.

  1. Accomplishment – I feel really good about myself. I look at the things I’ve learned in a short amount of time and I’m amazed. The fact that my brain has the capacity to compute all this shit is pretty cool.
  2. Stability – ahhh..this is one I have never really had in my entire life. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived on my own before and survived in two of the toughest cities in North America, but what I have now is real stability. I have a portfolio, 401k, I think about retirement, hahaha. If you knew me, this is laughable, sincerely, and in a good way!
  3. Freedom – Because I have money now, I have more freedom. And we all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can alleviate some of the issues you’re facing and it’s nice to not have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore.
  4. Networking – I meet a lot of people. People on the entire spectrum from CEO’s to sales guys, to strategist to founders. I’ve made friends and I have mentors.
  5. Reputation – I’ve done pretty well in my career so far and have gained a reputation as a solid, truthful biz dev guy. This means a lot to me because I have principles and like to know that they’re noticed.

So, you take the good with the bad. When I worked construction, my body ached, I was dirty and smelled pretty bad when I got home, but I had time to play my guitar, I had time to hang out with my friends. Now, things are limited. However, lately I’ve been taking 10 minute breaks throughout the day to get in a small jam session, it feels incredible!

But where do we go from here? My sister wants to start a business and I’m down for that, but where am I going to find the time? I really have to budget more time to getting the things I want to do done. And that’s the hard part. Do  I get less sleep? Maybe, but I’ll be honest, I don’t get that much sleep anyway!

So, are we at the mercy of the tides?

I don’t know, I think I am right now, but every single day I get a little better at allocating my time, for me. Not allowing nonsense to fill up in my reserves and run on empty. Balance the workload with the lifeload. Because, honestly, I want more. I deserve more, like we all do. Whether that means to be my own boss, or just play solo acoustic shows on the Connecticut shoreline once a month, I’m not sure. But I do know that if I don’t get behind the wheel of the ship, I won’t be able to steer it in the direction I need to go. The direction I want and have to go in. It’s the way to my life, that thing I’ll look back on and call extraordinary.

 

Work/Life Balance

November 8, 2014
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As I sit here on a Saturday morning totally neglecting my life/fun/relationships/and other commitments, it makes sense to quickly talk about work/life balance, of which I have none of!!

Life

Ok, so this is pretty straightforward, right? You should only be working 40 hours (yeah, right) a week, or so that’s what the American government says is fair. Which, I do work 40 hours a week, I just also tack on about another 20 or so hours for events, and meetups, traveling from office to office. I enjoy it, but others in my life tell me it’s always going to be like that unless you find a balance. So, I’m trying to find a balance. And how do I do that? I go back to why I first got into this tech game, to code. I’m starting to learn the command line once again! I haven’t had much time to continue to code ever since my job took ahold of me. But what I’ve learned over the last few years is that I like being in front of my computer. I have a number of digital properties that need my attention and require that I spend some time on it. My idea of adventure (nowadays) is learning, that’s my exploration!

Work

This is where it gets tricky. You want to perform, you want to make things happen for the company you work for, but where do you draw the line between what you do for them and what you do for yourself? I think this answer is pretty simple. When you’re on the clock, you’re on the clock. That time is what you’re getting paid for and for 40 hours a week, it belongs to your company. The other time spent working is not only for your company, but also for you. Network with other companies, get a sense of what’s out there and how you could fit into the landscape as a whole. Think about your career and not your job. Don’t think about that next promotion or title you could get, think about what makes you really happy and healthy in a work environment. Is it running around all over the place and talking with people to try and sell them your company or is it sitting behind a computer and conquering the world of programming languages. What do you want to do??

You

This is where you should focus your time. Do things that further and better your own life. Because in all honesty, life is about you, your life. Not anyone else’s. Not your family’s, not your company’s – yours, and yours alone! At the end of the day, at the end of your life, you’ll look back and thank yourself for following the path you wanted to. Not what someone else wanted you to follow. Be bold, be brave, be you!