Contentment

To be content doesn’t mean you don’t desire more, it means
you’re thankful for what you have and patient for what’s to come.

Tony Gaskings,
Motivational Speaker and Life Coach


Once at an AA meeting I heard someone say, “Roll with the ups and downs of life. If your life was a straight line you would be dead.” While I agree with this, part of me gets edgy when life just goes on in a dull fashion. Addicts like chaos, despite whether they know it or not. But we strive for a serene, peaceful existence in sobriety.

As you’ve noticed I haven’t written here in a while. Part of me says to myself, “Who is going to care?” You’re just a another alcoholic who struggles through life at times. Is there anything new you can bring to the table? No no really, same shit, different day.

Life goes on like a ship passing through the ocean, up and down swells, during its journey to its destination. Everyone has their good days and bad days. But the good days out number the number of bad days. It’s the result of working on all that trauma I suffered in life due to my own making and coming to terms with it all. Yet, no one is perfect. We can all strive for more.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so contempt in my life as I am right now. All I may do is wake up, have my coffee, go to work, grit my teeth all day over stupid things I have no control over all day, come back home, eat dinner, finally lay in bed after a hard days work and repeat the next day.

Socially I have no friends at all anymore. People have all moved on with their lives. At times I get lonely but for the most part, I’m okay with it. I use to think it was me who drove them away. Instead now I realize people are put in our lives for a purpose. When their purpose in our life is complete, they leave. So be it. The eight hours of social interaction I have at work can be enough most of the time; I get tired of listening to how peoples lives suck, rants , raves, complaints about work, etc. It’s just not something I want to bring home with me. I’ve tried to reach out to old friends even just to say ‘hello’ and not received calls back. There was something there at the time we were friends and now that time has passed.

I am content with who I am and where I’m going in life today. There isn’t really a destination but a place of peace and serenity. For the longest time this place seemed far out of reach. All the experiences of my life, all the good times and bad, have brought me to who and where I am today.

The Lonely Life

After leaving SNHU I became a little depressed; working at WM until retirement (another 15+ years) isn’t something I imagined nor is the ideal story ending of my life. However, it is what it is and I’m beginning to become comfortable with it. What now? My family life is non-existent, my social life is nil thus many times I feel very alone in the world. There is a constant need to fill the void with something; I just have to find a spark of joy in my life.

I’ve always been the black sheep of the family. No matter how much I try to reconnect with those of my family it’s as if I don’t exist. For instance, I received a text from my sister the other day, “Are you alive? I haven’t heard from you in a while?” I wasn’t happy. It took me a day or two to respond. I was civil though I wanted to lash out. I haven’t heard a response. I learn everything about the family usually online through FB even the death of family members (aunts and uncles). No one bothers to give me a call. I’ve called people back but no one returns my calls. Honestly, I’ve just given up; I’m no longer going to waste my time in an attempt to make things right or even stay in contact – it is a two-way street is it not?

All the so-called friends in AA and through the years I lived here, no one has called to say anything in many months. I have reached out to people, a lot of people at times but no one returns my calls. I quit contacting my Sponsor long ago because he admitted he doesn’t return my calls because “I know you’ll work through it”. That stung. Some of my other friends have moved away, relapsed themselves, or I’ve just lost contact. The only person I still see, who I also use to live with happens to work at the same place I do, so we just casually say, “Hi” in passing.

There are times when I’m walking to work at 9pm it’s peaceful and serene. Most of the time I enjoy working graveyard, overnights. Whatever you want to call the 10pm to 7am shift. People say, “Aren’t you scared walking down the dark roads at night?” You just get used to the route. There is some active wildlife at certain times of the year, so I’m always scanning what’s ahead of me. Be it skunks (which I can usually see and smell quite well in advance) or the occasional family of deer (crossing the road or sitting in the middle of the field scaring the crap out of me when they turn their heads and their eyes glow). I’ve seen a beaver or two oddly enough. Groundhogs are quite common too.

Then I get home, I’m alone. Do I watch TV, do I play a game – which one? After a while, I get bored of the routine. I have choices of projects but I just can’t seem to stick with one for long. Besides, I have only four hours after I get home from work before I have to head to bed. I only have an hour before I hit the road when I leave in [my] morning. My weekends (Monday and Tuesday) can really get depressing. Can’t go anywhere. Besides, there isn’t anything really to do around here within walking distance. I just try to keep myself busy with this or that until Wednesday morning comes and it’s back to the same routine.

Some weekends I enjoy the time by myself while others not so much. But there is this void in my life I wish I could fill with something enjoyable. At one point I thought about visiting the cat adoption center I use to volunteer. Yes, I thought about buying a furry friend. Unfortunately, I tried calling the number but it is disconnected. I tried to find it online but couldn’t.

Today I have a plan – watch the funeral of Prince Phillip at 9:30 EST. I have always enjoyed the royal family. Diana was a tragedy and I remember exactly when, where and what I was doing when I heard about the crash. All the drama of the royals past and present. Prince William and Prince Harry growing up, marriage and kids. I’m also a fan of Downton Abbey (watched all seasons), The Crown (again, watched all seasons) and I’m currently watching the Great British Baking Show (not related to the royals). The royal family is just something interesting to me, not sure why. So today, we say goodbye to Prince Phillip.

I don’t know. I guess I’m just rambling. I haven’t done it in a while. Sadly, now I have a funeral to attend.

Decision Made – No Regrets

With a new term at SNHU coupled with the stress at work brought me down to all new lows. Tuesday, I had a scare which brought me to a painful decision but I have no regrets. I looked deep inside to find out why I was doing what I thought was the right thing when in reality it was perhaps not the best decision at all.

As mentioned, a couple of times I was struggling with classes in college. After spending 12 hours on night on pre-calculus alone I put everything aside to take a real deep look at what was going on. Why was I back in college?

My whole family graduated with degrees. Mom had her nursing degree, Dad graduated with a business management degree and my sister graduated with a degree in child psychology. Once again, I felt like the outsider of the family. The black sheep who was different from everyone one else. I felt this ‘expectation’ to get a degree to ‘better my life’. Honestly, I was just lying to myself.

But I tried to make things work as my stubbornness kicked into high gear. On the other hand, my body said – no f**king way!

Tuesday night I experience another episode. I just didn’t feel right. Something was going on physically but I tried to convince myself everything was okay. It was just stress. Perhaps I need a quick break. But I didn’t have the time. Suddenly I could feel my heart racing like it wasn’t ever before. I took my blood pressure: 187-104-87. Holy crap…I haven’t seen those numbers in decades. So I got on the phone with an emergency nurse, we talked and she suggested I drop everything I was doing and immediately rest, then call the doctor in the morning. Did so, actually taking a nap, then called the doctor. They had a cancellation, so I was able to be seen within a couple of hours. Reported to the office with a blood pressure of 172-97-65. I ended up talking to my doctor and someone else (I’m not even sure what she was). We basically talked about stress and living a healthy lifestyle. After the conversation, I cried but it made all the sense in the world. I had to slow down before I had another stroke.

By now I’m sure you know what I had to do; I had to made the hard decision to withdraw from SNHU.

It may have been the best decision to save my life. By the time I got to work the next day, I actually got a compliment at work, “Mike, something’s changed. You don’t look so stressed out.” It was true.

What it comes down to is I was living in this expectation to get that degree. Look, I’m going on 50 years of age. I have health issues due to my alcoholism – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression on occasion, etc. I also don’t like in a ‘big city’ nor do I have any intention of moving back to one. Is it really likely an employer will look at my resume after college, with no experience in the computer science field, at age 50 (everyone knows they DO take that in account), living no where near a metropolitan area with (currently) no transportation and says, “We’d like to make you an offer…?” Don’t think so.

I just makes sense, at least to me. Now I’m back to taking care of myself and I feel much better about it.

No regrets.

Another Term Starts . . .

As many of you know I’m attending SNHU to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with an emphasis in Software Engineering. I think this is the third, perhaps 4th term; Terms just blend in together when they go back to back. Last term I excelled in HIS100 – Perspectives in History and IT140 – Introduction to Scripting. This term is also going to be challenging with HIS200 – Applied History and MAT140 – Precalculus (that is how they spell it??).

Work remains the same, “Same shit..different day” but I toned done my mouth quite a bit, just nodded and concentrated on what I need to do for the day. It’s best for my mental health and my continued employment. More broken promises, the blame game, hypocrisy at its best and clashing of egos (including mine at times) is just exhausting. Therefore, instead of giving in to it all, I’m just going to ignore it. Now all I hear is, “Wha….wha…wha….wha”, then nod my head and get back to work.

I was able to order a new hard drive for my old computer. The computer which I ordered on the fly isn’t the best (memory wise) and freezes quite often with all my apps and webpages open. It was frustrating. Luckily, the installation of a hard drive is much easier these days, from those in the past, so it took like two minutes. Loaded Windows, another easy installation, and I’m done.

In a way, I’ve found my quiet, comfortable self again; the Self I enjoy to be with to move through this world. I just hope it stays for a while. I missed it!

An Afternoon with Prince Harry & James Corden

Back in the late 1980’s, I believe it was 1987, I had the experience of a lifetime. My sister was part of soccer team which was invited to a tournament in Europe. We spent three weeks touring various countries (England, France, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Scotland). Since my youth I’ve always had an interest with the Royal Family following them ever since. As you can imagine it’s extremely rare to get a glimpse of them in doing real things.

I happen to find this YouTube video of Price Harry with James Corden from February 2021.

I haven’t laughed so hard in quite a long time. First of all, I enjoy James Corden. He’s particularly funny most of the time. Second, to see Prince Harry without the pomp and circumstance of Royal duties is just amazing. It’s nice to see him and listen to him talk about his life, including things with his wife Megan Markle and their son, Archie.

It’s hilarious, here are some spoilers:

  • James Corden and Prince Harry have English tea on the top of a double-decker bus and something goes terribly wrong (non-scripted).
  • Prince Harry, “The first words Archie said was ‘crocodile’ [big grin from Dad]”
  • A stop at the real home from the Prince of Bel Air. Really Prince Harry you didn’t just do that?
  • The ending had me in tears…

The dialogue between the two the whole time was insanely hilarious too.

Watch it, if you have time. It was the best 20 minutes I’ve had in a long time.

Oh and yes, I’ll be watching the Oprah special on March 7, 2021 too.

Enjoy!

Counting Down the Days

Working and going to college full-time can be quite a stressful situation. One misstep, your behind and find yourself struggling to get back things back to current. Yet, when you put your mind to it, you can gain that momentum back to take a breath of fresh air. With a couple weeks left, the end is near. So is the end of 2020 and a much needed vacation from everything.

When I started this term, I thought it wouldn’t be difficult at all. It’s only two classes. You got this! Oh, how I was so wrong. My confidence was slipping. I was at a point where I was contemplating not returning next term. I honestly didn’t want the additional stress in my life. What was the point?

As I concentrated on a rough draft of my persuasive essay for English, I got behind a week in my math class. Then the walls really started to close in. Then the debates stated with myself. Why are we doing this to ourselves? We know better. Are you going to let history repeat itself? Or are you going to take this as a lesson to learn from the past to challenge yourself to do better and change?

Got home today from work, sat down to concentrate on my two math assignments and a discussion. As typical with classes, the first have is a review while the second is typically new material. Now it’s a little more challenging, however I got what I needed done for the week. Now I’m current. I can breathe.

The year of 2020 was challenging. However, those days too are starting to dwindle. Started a new job, moved into my own place, and started college. I forgot I put in a vacation request for the end of December. A notification arrived this morning it was approved. It’s just four days from Dec 27 to Dec 30 because I have to work ‘key’ dates. The college term ends the week before, so I’ll be free to catch up on other things I have put aside – small house projects.

The point I guess I’m trying to get across to myself is my own self-doubt. Despite some negative things going on (mainly work), I have the ability to make things happen. Concentration and determination. I can’t falter now. The end is right around the corner.

Looking from the Outside In

I’ve woken up in a nasty mood. After working on an English assignment I found many discrepancies but haven’t heard anything back. My neighbor invited someone back in her life, so here we go again. I feel like I got screwed because of the holiday next week, so I’m working an extra day. Part of me feels it’s just me being stupid.

Despite the working conditions I’m dealing with right now, I came home in a relatively good mood. I keep trying to tell myself, “Just go in, do what you can, go home and be done with it.” It’s worked well so far. But underneath it all, I must be lying to myself. Why can’t people people just work together to get things done? I must be living in a dream world. Reality – no one gives a rats arse about the next person. It’s sad.

Planned on coming home to complete an English assignment for the week. As I’m reviewing a writing plan of a peer, I went back and forth with an Announcement sent out and the actual instructions for the assignment finding discrepancies. In the Announcement, it stated we had to respond to TWO PEERS writing plans. Well, dammit, my oversight. Yet, in the actual assignment, it specifically states, “You will respond to one peer…”. In addition, the writing rubric and grading scale only mentions ‘peer’, not ‘peers’. Am I attempting to call foul on a technicality? First thought which came to my mind was my Sponsor, “You just have a problem with authority, so you try to pick everything apart to your advantage. Character flaw? Further instructions state to use 4-6 to answer questions, download MS Word doc, then repost in discussion. But I don’t have access to the 4-6 lesson? WTF. Two emails sent to the instructor but I’m not sure if it’s my English or math instructor who is Jewish and takes Saturday off for Sabbath. I respect that so I sent an email to a peer reviewing my work. I haven’t heard from either. Part of me blames myself for waiting until the end of the week when I should have started the assignment earlier in the week. However, I have accepted the idea I can just turn it in late with a 10% penalty. Thus far, I have A’s on the rest of my coursework, so it shouldn’t be a big hit to the rest of the semester.

Throughout the day I’ve heard, “F..[this], f..[that]” from a person my neighbor has apparently invited back in her life. It’s been peaceful downstairs for the last month or so. They ended the relationship because she finally ‘saw the light’. A week after, he totaled her car in an accident, so she had to withdraw from her 401K to get a new one. Now he’s back annoying as all HELL. Woke up several times because of his loud obnoxious, yelling obscenities. Is that the reason for my bitchy mood? Lack of sleep and disrespect from the jerk downstairs?

Lastly, I should be, at least in my opinion, looking forward to a three day holiday. My two days off Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday off. Those of us on third shift get it off for Thanksgiving having to return to work to prepare for “Black Friday” on Thursday evening. At first I was scheduled for Wednesday night, which after review the boss said, “It’s funny because you were the only one in the store scheduled that night.” When he switched the schedule he had me off on Monday and Wednesday. Then in another conversation he decided to change it to Tuesday and Wednesday with me working Monday, a sixth day this week, to have the forty hours for the week. Yet, I assumed we all have three days off, two regular days off and the third paid day off. I guess I am wrong and I’ll just keep it at that.

When I step back and take a look in I’m not sure what is going on. I’m surprised it’s week four of the term, halfway to the end. There have been some rough patches but I’m pulled through thus far. Work is work – that is never going to change. Why do I even car about my neighbor?

Wait a thought …

Having I been living in a glass house and someone threw a stone?

Don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but it does to me. In the end, I have to trust things will work out in the end. Perhaps this is all about acceptance?

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

p. 417, Acceptance is the Answer, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Adjusting Slowly

The adjustment to working and going to college full time is progressing slowly. This week I got ahead of myself finishing all required assignments a day early. As the holiday season approaches and the COVID-19 numbers climb, work can be stressful at times but I’m managing. The one take away from all this is I must take at least a day away for myself.

English composition and quantitative analysis mathematics classes aren’t difficult; they are just time consuming. I’m narrowing down my persuasive essay in English to discuss how the development of artificial intelligence benefits society and counterarguments of its determent to society. Mathematics is one of my strong subjects. But I have to remind myself to slow down. Just like in programming, if you miss something (a negative to a positive, wrong calculations, etc.) the whole problem just fails miserably. During the week, I find myself thinking about nothing else than these two subjects.

I’m sure you’ve heard with the pandemic Walmart is expanding their Black Friday specials over a period of weeks. Also as the holidays approach, we’re getting a massive amount of product delivered almost on a daily basis. In order for me to get through the night I have to remind myself, “Go in, work your eight hours and clock out.”

As one can imagine sometimes I find myself not taking care of myself. Of course I’m going to lose some hours of sleep on a daily basis with college. Other times, I can’t remember if I’ve eaten, paid bills or done other daily living activities. For me, that is a red flag, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”

With the remaining four weeks of college classes and holiday season it’s best, I believe, to take at least one day to reset. With Mondays and Tuesdays off, last week I allocated Monday as a “me” day. I didn’t invest any time in my college courses. I literally turned my phone off for the day. I made sure I ate, bathed and got my house in order. It was quite effective. Tuesday I was ready to dive into coursework completing a day early this week.

That’s going to be the plan unless something unexpected comes up. Technically you can’t catch up on sleep but I’m woke up refreshed. Let’s get this eight hours done, so I can relax! Bring it on!

A Step in the Right Direction

Last weekend I put myself through an emotional roller coaster. I was overwhelmed with three areas of my life: college, work, and myself. At times I didn’t know up from down, nor down from up. There were times I didn’t know if I was going to survive; I almost gave up. Yet, when I took the time needed to take a look at myself, trusting in the process, I woke up refreshed taking a step in the right direction.

First, there was this overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Since I work overnights, I don’t have a lot of contact with my support network. Yet, I forgot the most important thing – the connection with a Higher Power.

I became so enmeshed with time constraints I began to cut things out. Since most of my free time has been studying, reading, writing, and solving complex mathematical problems, I just skipped right past it or didn’t read it at all. That includes the daily posts I put up here. Yet, when I slowed myself down, took a deep breath, something changed. The connection with my Higher Power was rekindled.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

p. 417, Acceptance is the Answer, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The above is one of my favorite quotes. At times I forget to remind myself of it. It wasn’t until I started writing this entry; this quote came to mind. That one little paragraph says so much. The most powerful message, for me, is the very last sentence, “I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.

Ever heard of Rule #62 – “Don’t take your life [yourself] so damn seriously!“. It’s another good one. When I think back and read what was going on, especially with school, it appears to be a form of perfectionism. That is common in many addicts; the desire to be perfect all the time or an OCD everything must adhere to their specifications. While I do want to do well in school, it doesn’t mean I have to jeopardize my health and sanity for an A. Just like high school, no one is going to ask what I got in my college algebra class when I apply for a job – or they shouldn’t! It doesn’t matter. Perhaps use the same principle I try to at work every day – do the best with what you learn and leave the rest.

Even today I wasn’t as frantic about getting everything done. I could (but avoid) turning things in late for courses with a 10% penalty. I just reviewed last week’s grades, which I passed with all A’s. I got a 95% on my MAT136 assignment, but now the instructor says I could go back and re-do those I got wrong for a better score. WTF? Why?

If I remember to keep these points a top priority in my life, perhaps I won’t sink into that dark abyss. At least it’s a step in the right direction. I’m at peace again.

This Too Shall Pass

How or where do I even star?. I’m thankful this week is over because it’s been a very rough week with my college courses and work. Sometimes I just want to cry. I feel like I’m falling apart about to fail at everything. There is so much going on it’s overwhelming.

First, work is a struggle each and every day – mentally, physically and spiritually. In January, I thought I was going to enjoy it. It was something entirely different than an office environment. What was required of me wasn’t demanding, so I thought. What I’ve come to find out is exactly the opposite.

Honestly, it is a complete shit show at work right now. I’m almost on the edge of just walking away. But I know doing so it a stupid decision and won’t solve anything. It doesn’t help Walmart has decided to change the management structure right before the holidays and during a pandemic. The overall feeling I get is no one cares about anything. People have become extremely lazy, unhelpful and are only looking out for themselves. Sometimes I feel like I work with the most unintelligent, lazy, disorganized, stupid morons on the planet. This is where I need to stop thinking such things. It doesn’t have anything to do with them – it’s all about me.

Looking at myself can be scary sometimes. But it needs to be done to see what and how I can change things. I’m full of doubt and fear.

Did I make the right decision to start school or even return? I don’t want to be working where I am all my life. It’s not a career; it’s a job I endure to pay the bills. After work each day I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I have no motivation nor can I concentrate on anything. I just want to go to bed. Then I wake up the next day and do it all over again.

This doesn’t leave much time to what’s required for my college courses. I barely had enough time this week to get all readings, discussions and assignments turned in. Then the doubt and fear creeps in I’m going to fail because I’m not doing the quality of work needed at this level in college.

With all my heart I want to succeed. I have to succeed. Obviously, I’m not happy working where I am and it’s not the time to find other employment. Besides, I should be grateful my employer is paying for me to go to college.

I called off work because I needed a break. It just so happens I have the next three days off because I have Monday and Tuesdays off. But why do I feel so guilty about calling in? My employer gives us ‘protected time off’ for whatever we choose to use it. It’s meant to be used on such occasions. Again, I should be grateful my employer offers such benefits.

Here comes the tears dammit…

Change of subject because all I’m doing is getting myself in what I call a ‘tizzy’. We’re having out first snow fall of the season. It’s a small accumulation. Just looking at it brings me joy. A change in the air.

Then I go back inside and I get depressed all over again.

I despise days like this but they happen. Since it’s Monday I might as well use this time productively and get a head start of my coursework for this week. Perhaps if I accomplish something it will brings my spirits up.

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