How to Survive the Confluence of Suck

 

A confluence, as shown above, is where two rivers join to become one, or a situation in which two things come together or happen at the same time.

Something that sucks, well, that just sucks.

Over the past 11 weeks at my day job we have been moving from one warehouse/headquarters to a brand new building. This has required moving 200,000 boxes mostly by hand, all of the computer equipment, furniture, personal items, etc.

At the same time we found out that our landlord was moving back to the country and we had to move out of our residence, find a new place, move in, and take a fence down we had put up at the old place because the landlord didn’t want it.

That, my friends, was a confluence of suck.

Throw in the fact that I work a night job 4 days a week, we have two kids (one of which got a bad stomach bug during this time), a dog (who got into raisins and had to go to the vet), plus I got turned down for an opportunity that I wanted, and it’s just been a hard three months.

Yesterday, though, we turned in the keys to the landlord. 4 weeks before we were required to, (but still 4 weeks after we were already sort of in the new place). For 1 month we paid rent at two different places because my schedule severely limited the time we had to move. Note to self: next time, hire movers.

This Saturday is the final Saturday I should have to work for quite a while, and our lives will slowly be returning to normal – or at least as normal as someone who works two jobs. How did we survive? Well, looking back, here’s how:

1. Acknowledge that this DOES suck!

The simple of fact of stating out loud “man this situation really stinks”, validates the tiredness, the irritability, and the stress. So you and your partner should occasionally remind each other “Yep this isn’t exactly paradise”.

2. Make sure that it’s TEMPORARY, and REMEMBER that!

In my situation, we knew going into it that there was an end date. We knew the last box would eventually get moved from both the old warehouse and the old residence. If you’re going through a tough time, try to determine when it will be over and mark it on the calendar. If it goes beyond that date, you need to figure out why and how to make sure it’s temporary.

3. It’s sometimes better to extent the suck, if you get a short break in the middle.

Mothers day weekend we didn’t move any boxes from the warehouse, we also would occasionally not work a Saturday evening moving the things out of our house and into storage. While those breaks probably delayed us by a few days, it helped keep our sanity, and our health.

4. After it’s done, rest and recover before jumping into something else.

I have a bad habit of going, “Wow look at what I can accomplish when I’m in crisis mode, we should be this busy all the time!” Don’t do this. Rest and recover from surviving the suck, and then you can move on to another project.

 

The confluence of two rivers into one is a mighty big deal. But all rivers are temporary. They eventually reach the lake or sea. So hang on, and ride it out. You CAN do it.

Beware of your emotions tilting you

FreeImages.com/michelle kwajafa

FreeImages.com/michelle kwajafa

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity stumble across my desk. Without going into details, let’s just say it would have been a life changing experience that would have also put me in a place that would have helped me achieve many goals that I have.

I went through the application and interview process. I was praying I would get it. I thought I had it. During this time I found out that some contract work that I do on the side would be ending, so finding something that would replace that income would be perfect timing.

I asked people on Facebook to pray for me. I had close friends giving me encouragement…and then….

I didn’t get it.

I received the word, that I had not been selected. I was crushed. I spent the next seven days in an emotional swirl. Anger, sadness, disbelief, indifference.

While my emotions were churning, I was reminded about an opportunity that a few weeks prior I had said “No” to. I asked the individuals about that opportunity.

I was considering taking it, when I realized that committing to that opportunity would actually take me farther away from my writing goals than ever before.

So, I said “No” again. But this time, just barely.

Professional poker players like to use a term called “Tilt”. It’s actually an old pinball machine term. When pinball players would get worried about their ball being lost down the chute, they would try to tilt the machine to have the ball veer towards one of the flippers. Most pinball machines have a sensor, and if you tilt too much, the machine will stop responding and the turn will be over.

Poker players have started using this term to describe when they feel like they have won a hand, only to get beat at the last second. Their emotions will cause them to “tilt”. This means that they start to play with emotions rather than sound strategy, and lose even more chips because of it.

When I lost the opportunity that I really did want, my emotions started to tilt, and I almost took an opportunity that I knew I wasn’t the right fit for. Luckily, I followed these steps and avoided a mistake:

1. Slow down and think about it

Initially when I heard about the opportunity that wasn’t good for me, I said, “No.” When I revisited it later, I ended the conversation with, “Let me think about it.” Very few times in life does a big decision need to be made immediately. So take your time.

2. Talk to your spouse, significant other, or trusted friend

My wife and I sat down and discussed all of the pros and cons of taking both opportunities. Once we did that, the answer to both was obvious, one was “Go for it!” The other was “I don’t think this is the move we should make.” In both cases, talking to someone allowed me to verbalize concerns and thoughts that kept things moving in the right direction.

3. Imagine yourself in the opportunity

For a day, as I drove around in my car, I actually had conversations out loud that I would have to have with both opportunities. The more I did, the more I realized the answers for each one.

4. Review your written goals

I keep a list of goals. When I went back to review them, that’s when it REALLY became clear which decisions would actually cause me to drift away from what I want to accomplish. This was the nail in the coffin for me.

I encourage you to be methodical about big decisions that pop up. Make sure that your emotions aren’t leading you astray.

Resist the tilt.

2016 is Challenging

It’s been three months since my mom died, and since my last blog post. I’ve wanted to sit down and write, but I just haven’t been feeling it. Back in the fall I was totally motivated about getting things started and really becoming a writer.

Then January happened, and she was gone.

2016 has been a challenging year. I had flirted with the idea of quitting my day job, I had taken on more trivia shows to host my night job. We have still been climbing out of the self-inflicted financial ruin from 6 years ago.

The 1.5 year old has been extremely difficult. The 5 year old is about to start private school. My mother-in-law has been living with us while she goes through a tough patch. We bought baby goats for our back yard, only to find out our landlord is moving back to the country. We have to sell the goats that my daughters have grown fond of, and move.

I’ve been trying to clean up our credit, disputing the inaccuracies on our report, and pay the people we owe. My day job has tasked me with redesigning their website, and we are getting ready to work six days a week to move into our new headquarters.

We had discussed leaving the kids and going on a weekend trip with some friends, but now that seems impossible. I’m missing a trivia tournament because of life.

I’ve cracked a tooth, and have another that needs a root canal.

My wife got bit by the dog in a bizarre accident.

It’s been a really challenging year.

We all have them of course. And Lord knows that there are people going through tougher times that I am. I mistakenly set my clock for 45 minutes earlier than normal last night. As I got up and left the house, I realized I had an entire hour to myself. I went to the local park and walked around the pathway.

I wish I could tell you that the exercise gave me some sort of euphoria that melted away the stress, the anxiety, the anger, and the sadness that I have been dealing with. But not today.

I have parts of me that want to quit everything.

But I go on.

Because that’s all I can do.

It’s been a really challenging year.

A eulogy for my mom

My mom Sheila, Me, my sister Amy, and my dad Eddie

My mom Sheila, Me, my sister Amy, and my dad Eddie

My mother passed away on January 28. I gave a eulogy at her funeral. I purposely cut it short. What follows is the entire thing.

A lot of people have been asking me, “Is there anything we can do?” and while in the coming weeks and months, I’m sure there will be things that will come up. Right now, I can say there are three things you can do to honor my mom.

Pray for someone. – Anyone. Pray for us. Pray for the lost word. Pray for those that are having job problems, or having trouble starting a family. Pray for someone. Because that’s what she did. I saw it all the time. As a matter of fact, if you are here, and knew her, the chances are highly likely that she prayed for you.

Help someone. – I can’t remember the number of times mom helped someone. She would call to see how people were doing. She’d organize food when someone died. She coached softball. If you’re one of the girls that mom coached, she looked at it as helping you. So help someone.

Make someone laugh – Mom loved to make people laugh. 25 years ago she heard a comedian by the name of James Gregory do a bit about airline pilots showing up drunk. The punch line to the bit was that next time you were on that airline, and they came to take your drink order, just say “I’ll have whatever the pilots are having.”

Last Monday my mom is at a hospital in Jasper. They are determining if they should airlift her to a hospital in Chattanooga. As the medics from the helicopter are checking her, they say they need to consult with the pilot. One of them asked my mom, “Can I get you anything?” According to my dad, she looked at them and said “I’ll have whatever the pilot is having”. And they both laughed.

The Dress

My mom loved making me laugh, and the best way she could make me laugh was by getting one over on me.

When Sarah and I were planning the wedding, Sarah told me that she might not get a completely white dress. She said, she might pick one that was off-white, and wanted to know if I was okay with that. I said, “Sure.” So a few days later, she, my mom, and her mom, all went to pick the dress out.

I came back home, and asked mom, “So how did it go?”

She said, “Well, we got the dress. But it’s not white.”

I said, “Oh, yeah, but it’s like an off-white, right?”

“It’s black!”

I stood there, feeling all the blood rush out of my face and into the pit of my stomach, and then mom busted out laughing. I started laughing too as I realized, that she had pulled one over on me.

The Tongue

A few years ago when mom wasn’t doing very well, Amy called me and told me to come to the house, that mom wasn’t acting right. Later we found out she was just suffering from a small dip in her blood sugar, but at the time, I had no idea what was going on and feared a stroke.

Remembering I had once saw on television that if you thought someone was having a stroke, ask them to stick their tongue out and if it drooped to the left or right, you could be right.

So I asked her to stick her tongue out for me. What I had failed to realize, is that she knew this too! And she intentionally stuck her tongue out to the side and then started laughing!

I laughed!

The Jeopardy! Story

My parent’s cable television provider gives them the option to watch both the Atlanta broadcast stations, and the Chattanooga broadcast stations. Several years ago, Jeopardy would air at 4:30 in Atlanta, and the same episode would air at 7:30 in Chattanooga.

Now when we watched Jeopardy at our house, we competed. If you yelled out the correct response before anyone else, including the contestants, you earned a point. One particular night, I had come home and mom had Jeopardy on at 7:30 on the Chattanooga station.

The first clue came up about Jimmy Carter. She got it right. Then she got the next one. And the next one. She ran the first category. I was stunned. Then she got the next three right, before I realized she had a note pad and had wrote all the answers down from earlier in the day.

“HEEEEYYYYY” I yelled.

“HEEEEYYYYY” she yelled back.

And we both started laughing. She had got me again.

 

Pray for someone, Help someone, and Make someone one laugh. If we do these as often and consistent as she did, we too will have a life well lived.

If you want to change clothes you’re going to have to get naked.

If you want to change clothes you’re going to have to get naked. We understand that you can’t just constantly change your outfit by putting more clothes on top of the clothes you are already wearing. At some point, you’re going to have to remove the layers that you’ve covered your body with and start again.

Or you could wear the same clothes forever. Look down at the outfit and decide “well, I sort of chose this, so this is what I’m stuck with”.

Could you imagine wearing the same shirt and pants from when you were a child? I hope you didn’t grow. I think it would be mighty uncomfortable to go through life being voluntarily restricted as you grow. I hope those clothes don’t go out of style. It would be bad if you were wearing a polyester leisure suit in 2016.

I hope they don’t fade. I wouldn’t want you to be drowned out by all of the other colors that are fresh, bright, and noticeable.

It’s not always fun to strip down. You’re briefly cold. You may even be uncomfortable with what you see. But, it’s a short term thing. The risk of being temporary vulnerable to achieve more self-satisfaction. It makes complete sense.

Yet, people every day stay in the same relationships, careers, and lifestyles that limit who they can be. They think that because they are in those roles, that they sort of chose, they are stuck there. It takes 1% of your day to change your clothes. If you were to live until 80 years old, 1% of your life is almost 10 months. If you spent 10 months of your life working towards a change, would it be worth it? What would you be able to accomplish in the remainder of your life if you spent 1% of it working towards that change?

If you want to change clothes, you’re going to have to get naked. If you want to change your life, you’re going to have to go for it.