Category Archives: Blog

My experience with counseling

I learned today is #WorldMentalHealthDay, so I decided to talk a bit about my experience in regularly seeing a counselor.

 

A few years ago, I was struggling with a job that was about to let me go, a lot of debt, infertility issues, and a lot of other things. I just felt I was at my breaking point. So, I googled to see if there was a therapist close by and scheduled an appointment.

 

I had no idea exactly what would occur in a session. I’m the type of person that has a hard time trying something new. The vulnerability of doing something new makes me extremely uncomfortable. When I met with my therapist, she simply asked “Why are you here?”

 

I begin to explain the last several years of my life. Some decisions that seemed smart at the time had turned out poorly. I explained about losing two jobs in the past few years. I explained about how we were drowning in debt. I explained a family history of suicide, and how I felt like I had been drifting professionally since I graduated high school. I explained everything over twenty minutes and looked straight at her and said, “That’s why I’m here.”

 

Her response made me smile. “Well….shit” she said.

 

And at that moment, I felt a huge burden just come off of me. It was a vindication that the feelings that I had, the overwhelming hopelessness, the stressed out anxiety, the exhaustion, was what was SUPPOSED to be happening. For someone whose motto has always been “just outwork the problems”, I started to accept the fact that sometimes you just can’t outwork them, you have to deal with them.

 

I don’t have anyway to compare my experiences to what yours will be like. I just know over the past few years I’ve been meeting with my therapist bi-weekly to just discuss the stresses that are in my life and the ways to handle them. I feel better after these sessions, and my wife can tell a difference in my mood when I have to miss a session.

 

I was raised in a family where you were supposed to bring all your troubles to God and Jesus in prayer. Well thankfully, God made therapists. God also encourages you to accept help when it is needed and to seek out wise counsel.

 

So if you are in a time where things just don’t feel right, I encourage you to look for a therapist. Most insurance covers it and if for some reason you do not have courage, many therapists have a cash plan that can be reasonable. Also, if you are concerned about taking medication, share that with your therapist. While we’ve discussed it a few times, I have not taken medication for my issues. Medicine shouldn’t be stigmatized, but if you are wary of it, don’t let that be the reason you do not attend a session.

 

I hope this helps. We’re all in it together.

 

Thinking Like a 100-Year-Old

One of the most common things I hear from people as they age is, “Time feels like it goes by so quickly now.” Well, there is a simple explanation for this. It’s because it does.

If you were 100 years old, any one year represents 1% of your life. If you are 50 years old, any one year represents 2%. If you’re a 10-year-old, one year represents 10% of your life!

This is why Christmas seems to take forever to come when you are a kid and seems to happen faster when you are an adult. It’s a fun thing to think about, and we could stop there and feel like we’ve learned something about time and perception.

But I think there is something more important here. The fact is that the skewed perception when you are younger sets you up for regrets when you are older. I’m currently evaluating an important decision. I’ve been seeking counsel from a therapist, a career coach, my wife, and others. If I were to commit to an idea that has currently presented itself to me, it would take a 12-month commitment.

It’s terrifying to think about 12-months of uncertainty, and while there are many different positive signs that I need to make this decision, I can’t help but think about how long an entire year is, and I am desperately worried that it may be a mistake.

But if I were to assume that I live to 100, it would only be 1% of my overall life. That doesn’t seem like a big risk. If I had to gamble 1% of my net worth for some reason, I’d probably be okay with it. It’s only 1%.

If I think about 1% of my life as a 35-year-old, it’s only 4 months. And if I had to risk 4 months of my life right now would it seem like a big deal? Probably not.

Confused yet? Yeah me too.

And I’m sure confused will be a big percentage of my life no matter how old I am.

The Art of Reinvention

Art of Reinvention

 

Have you ever had the desire to completely change major parts of your life? I have, and I do. I’m currently going through a reinvention of sorts. Several weeks ago, I decided that my current career path was not working out. For the past six years, I have hosted trivia at restaurants across North Georgia, and for the past five years, I have been working in I.T.

“Do I really want to keep doing this for another 30 years?”

That’s a question that has been going through my mind A LOT during the past few weeks. I keep reviewing 401(k) plans, and health insurance benefits. I look at all the money that I’ve been able to make to provide for my family. I struggle with this internal desire that there’s more. I finally decided to commit to this reinvention and canceled one of my shows to free up some more time. I am now ankle deep in this reinvention.

For years, I’ve talked about this with my wife. Eventually, I started going to therapy. That led to creating sort of a “home base”. We worked on the internal questions about why I feel unsatisfied. This past week, I hired a career coach, and we are starting on a new journey looking at my skill sets and my personality traits to determine what the appropriate next steps are.

For the record, I have “reinvented” myself before. I once lost my job as an insurance salesman. I had to reinvent myself quickly. Eventually, that led to becoming a Trivia Host. When I’m in the process of reinventing, I try to find someone doing something that I want to do. I then study what they do well, what I think they could improve on, and what makes them overall successful. I’ve been lucky enough to seek advice from these people before too.

In the end, I don’t try to copy their success as much as I try to go down the same trails that they’ve marked. I’m now doing this again, except this time, on a much larger and challenging scale. The two people I’m now studying, from afar, are successful full-time authors and speakers.

Their personalities have both similarities and differences from me. Their audience is different than what I picture mine will become. But they’ve both followed similar paths to arrive where they are.

I’m now at the starting line of their trail. And while I may take a turn or two that they didn’t, and there may be a new obstacle that has fallen onto the path since they came through, I’m looking forward to meeting them at the top.

What I was reminded of in front of 4.4 Million people

Bobby Moynihan (L), and me winning $50,000 (Source: ABC)

Bobby Moynihan (L), and me winning $50,000 (Source: ABC)

This past Sunday night, I was on The $100,000 Pyramid. It was a game show that I grew up watching the reruns to, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to be selected to be on the show. Of course, things of that nature don’t just “happen”. It was a long six-month road that I traveled to get onto the show.

When I learned about the open-casting call, I began doing some light practicing with my family. We would play “Catch Phrase” which is very similar to the main game, and we would review subjects from the Winner’s Circle of old episodes on YouTube. The day of the tryout, I almost did not go, but my wife said, “You’ll regret it if you don’t.”

When I arrived at the Atlanta hotel, I started chatting up with our potential contestants. I immediately realized that I probably wasn’t the person they were looking for. I felt out of place. But, I decided to stay and take a chance. If nothing else, the audition process would be fun.

We met with a casting director and I did okay, but we received a variant of the “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.” I said my goodbyes and went to the car wondering if I had blown my chance. My phone immediately rang and I was told to come back in.

From there on it was an intensive process that lasted several weeks through different Skype sessions, applications, and photo uploads. Eventually, I got THE call.

“We’d like to invite you to play Pyramid.”

All of a sudden the light practicing turned into a full training camp. We bought an old version of the board game. We studied every nuance of the rules. We learned all of the hidden tricks of the game. For example, if the word/phrase is “BETTY WHITE”, you just have to get your partner to say “WHITE”. And if that’s the case, instead of a long drawn out clue about “The Golden Girls”, simply say, “opposite of black”. Boom!

When we arrived on set I looked at the big game board. It was an updated version from my childhood but still very familiar. I met my partner, Debi Mazar, and we began to play. The first game was tough and I lost by one point. My opponent went to the winner’s circle and came 1 clue away from winning $50,000.

At that point, I was trying to not panic. I wanted to keep smiling and keep pressing on. It’s been the thing I’ve tried to do my entire life. When the pressure is turned up, do what you do as best as you can. The next game I partnered up with Bobby Moynihan from Saturday Night Live. We won the game and headed to the Winner’s Circle for my chance at $50,000.

It’s amazing how your training, your skills, and your life’s experience can all converge in a sixty-second moment. The first clues we got quickly (CITIES, and SCHOOL JOBS).

The next one was “THINGS A PEACOCK WOULD SAY”. This is where my preparation had paid off. Prior to my arrival at the studio, I scoured the internet for any clue of who would be participating when I played. I had found out on the website to get tickets that two SNL cast members were scheduled. I refreshed myself about everything SNL before that day.

I looked straight at Bobby and told him “I’m the NBC logo”. Bobby, being a cast member on a weekly NBC show said, “Things a Peacock would say?!?”

You could hear the audience gasp at the quickness that we got that clue.

We moved on up through TYPES OF BATTERIES, a clue that my wife and I had actually practiced, and THINGS THAT ARE SMOKED.

We got to the top of the Pyramid and to the final clue. THINGS THAT ARE TRIANGULAR. I noticed we had 30 seconds left (the clock being viewable for the first time in the show’s 40 year history this season). I took a breath and remembered the rules, no prepositional phrases, and you must give a list.
I’m looking at a Pyramid. That’s Triangular.
“A Pyramid”

Bobby looks at me and says, “Things that come to a point” and actually makes a triangle with his hand.

“A Flat Pyramid”

“Triangles?”

BOOM! $50,000 and a bear hug from one of Network TV’s biggest stars. Later a handshake and hug from Michael Strahan.

In front of a live studio audience of 200 people, and 4.4 Million people watching at home, I was reminded about: how important training is, why to keep a positive attitude, why not to panic when the pressure is on, and why to give something a shot even when you believe you are not the person for the job.

Later, I was told by someone that I was the only person asked to be on the show from that Atlanta casting call.

Transitioning from survival to thriving

Over the past several years, my wife and I have been fighting. Not with each other, but against the grind of trying to survive the world. We made some stupid decisions when we first got married (bought a house we couldn’t afford, racked up a ton of debt, stayed employed at a job that I should have left). We are in year 11 of our marriage and are finally starting to see some real progress.

 

That’s an advantage of getting married at 23, you can screw everything up for the first decade and still be in your early 30s. Of course, had we waited, maybe we wouldn’t have been so young and dumb.

 

Over the past few months though we’ve really seen some good things happen and our focus is now able to start shifting from fighting for survival to fighting tactically. And as I look around at people that are in similar situations, I realize that there are lots of us that don’t understand that switch is needed.

 

Have you worked so long in “panic mode” that when things are relaxed you feel like you’ve missed something that needed to be done? I have. When bills are paid and there’s money left over in the savings account I feel extremely uneasy. After becoming accustomed to money always being tight, as we’ve started to do a little better, surplus money feels like I’ve made an error.

 

Do you sometimes self-sabotage things because if there isn’t a crisis you don’t know how to stay on track? I keep using money as an example because it’s so familiar to me. Have you ever been financially on track and then go buy something frivolous that messes everything up? Afterwards you think, “Why did I do that?” but then you take a sort of sadistic pleasure in bearing down, tightening up, and out working your mistake? I have. As a matter of fact it happened this week. I decided I wanted a Playstation 4. And instead of waiting, like an adult, until I had saved the money, I just bought it. Childish urges ruin me sometimes.
But as we continue to do well, I can understand that I haven’t worked on the skills that are necessary to make decisions when decisions aren’t cut and dry. Several years ago we would have been making a choice between food and electricity or a Playstation. That makes decision making easy.

 

The lesson here is to keep looking for skills that you haven’t developed as you move into a new mode of life. Because you will not be equipped for new phases when you get there. We are all learning on the fly.