“Better Times Lie Ahead”


Bagua Mirror

“Better times lie ahead.”

That’s a quote from an Android dev whom I emailed regarding an app they created. I donated a few dollars since I use the app all the time and said that I would give more if I could but unemployment sort of prevents me.

He truly deserved my donation since the app is free and I appreciated the work that went into it.

He told me not to worry about it and that indeed better times lie ahead.

He was right.

Since adopting this new way of thinking with my meditation and elimination of all things negative, I haven’t had a single “Woe is me” day and continue to plug along as if everything was fine.

Because as far as I’m concerned it is, despite being unemployed at the moment.

Now, about those mirrors. What you see above is a bagua mirror, a Chinese mirror that is used in feng shui and believed to deflect negative energies away from the home. I found two of these at a thrift shop earlier this year and they sat around the den until I decided to place them on either side of my incense burner as a way to add some décor.

I later learned that using them indoors is highly discouraged. And strangely, whether you want to believe it or not, I lost my job soon after placing them as décor (when I had yet to learn about proper placement).

Soon after learning of their actual purpose, I hung one of the mirrors above the front door and one facing my neighbors to the north of me. We have quite a history. I did that in the hopes of the mirrors doing the job that they are supposed to do and ridding our home of any negative energy.

I also recently rid myself of someone who seemed to find joy in spreading negativity. Not sarcasm, flat-out negativity. I can be sarcastic. There’s a distinct difference, and this person was not someone I wanted to remain in contact with anymore. I don’t need that kind of person around me, even if only in pixel form.

I’m continuing to be optimistic about everything even in these tough times when my unemployment checks are akin to making $6.50/hr. working 40 hours a week. Yes, they are that small. But we’re getting by.

So, getting back to those mirrors. Are they really working?

Since placing them, we haven’t had any problems with the neighbors and the one above the door could very well be keeping the positive energy inside the home.

And tomorrow, exactly two months after being laid off from my job, I have an interview scheduled at 11 am. Considering that I didn’t get any calls for interviews the last time I was unemployed (except for the one that led to me getting hired), I’d say that getting called in only a few months as opposed to two years was pretty good.

If you can believe it, I was on the phone with one recruiter when another one called. The first job, however, was too far so I had to decline but everything has been arranged for tomorrow’s much closer interview.

You can call it luck, you can call it anything you want. As for me, I’d like to think that it’s been a combination of everything I’ve been doing in order to look on the brighter side of things. I even think those few words of encouragement from a total stranger put me in a better mindset about everything.

I’m heading to that interview tomorrow and giving it my best shot. And if it turns out I don’t get the job, it’ll be disappointing but definitely not the end of everything.

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But I’m counting on you, maneki-neko Smile

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Finding Happiness


Stress-Free is the Way to BeHere I am at age 44, unemployed and not entirely sure in which direction my life will be going next.

But I’m happy. Very happy, in fact.

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine tonight about what it takes to achieve personal happiness. And the one thing we both agreed on was this: it takes one person, and that person is you.

The choices you make, the words you say, the things you do are ultimately what will lead you to your happy place.

This was apparent when a Facebook friend posted a Status Update regarding some people who may have been offended by the pictures of her art she was posting. Judging by her comment, that’s exactly what happened.

The art was by no means repulsive nor sexually explicit, but it was definitely eye-catching. Personally, I dig what she’s doing and her explanation was that it makes her happy in a time when, like myself, she is dealing with being out of work. Her art is her expression, something that as a blogger and artist I can fully grasp.

My reply was that if you go through life doing what makes you happy and not hurting anyone, then you’re doing what’s right. And she definitely is. She’s making a choice to be happy by engaging in her art, and my hat is off to her.

And as I mentioned in a previous post, losing my job this year was not the catastrophe to end all catastrophes. But didn’t seem that way in 2009 when I would wake up in the morning feeling lost after being on the job for nearly 3 years. I felt as if I had lost everything.

Since I started to read about Buddhism and other philosophies this year, I’ve been having a different outlook on many things. Evening meditation is also helping me clear my mind from anything that might be fogging it up. As a result, instead of moping around when I wake up, I welcome the day – even when my unemployment checks are a fraction of what they were back in 2009.

And here’s why finances are not a big issue with us right now. When we got our taxes done last year, we paid off every credit card we had and swore to not get ourselves in such a bind ever again. It’s no fun having to talk to credit card people about arranging payments and if that can’t be done, opening letters demanding immediate payment with interest.

We made the choice last year to rid ourselves of such debt and as of now, outside of standard living expenses like food, car payments, cell phones, and utilities, we don’t have any. The result is happiness that we chose to make for ourselves: a mailbox full of ads and occasional “real” mail, 98% of which can be thrown out because it’s nothing but junk. In fact we often joke that most of the stuff isn’t even worth delivering because we know that most of what’s in there will be trivial.

Same with phone calls: now all we get are solicitations from contractors about solar panels. Well, save for the letters and calls we get from collection agencies for my brother, all of whom think he lives here.

He chose to be in debt. Now he’s up to his eyeballs in it, and I’m pretty sure he’s not dancing in the streets over it. Having been in that situation and resolved the matter, I just can’t feel sorry for someone who lets their debt spiral out of control.

Again, his choice. I know it’s fun to have nice things but when you can’t pay for them, you’re asking for trouble. And now he has it.

So what makes me happy?

Running makes me happy. So does cycling, karaoke, writing, doodling, being with family (pets included), watching baseball games, or simply waking up in the morning. Being happy is indeed a state of mind and it’s something that you have total control over.

That’s not to say that every blog post from here on in will be flowery and filled with unicorns and rainbows. In fact I can practically guarantee you that you will still see negative stuff on here, the result of which won’t be due to a personal choice. Chances are it will be the result of something well out of my control, and the blog will serve as an outlet to express my feelings about it.

And you really shouldn’t let stuff beyond your control bother you. It’s tough but I’m still trying.

By the way, the graphic you see at the top of the page is a screengrab from an app called StressCheck. And while I understand it’s only a phone app and my no means scientific, the result you see is no fluke – my stress level is at 1% nearly every time I try the app, even on Ann’s phone.

Okay, fine. Here’s my heart rate taken with Instant Heart Rate.

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Again, the norm for me. I’m usually between this and 56 which is darn good.

So what does all of this health stuff have to do with finding happiness?

A lot. I believe that by choosing what you think is right, chances are you will reduce the level of stress in your life and not fear that your heart is going to explode.

This is the path I’ve chosen to take, and it has brought me much happiness in a time when most people would be upset. I appreciate the small things and don’t stress over much of anything anymore.

Don’t waste your time being miserable. Happiness comes down to one person, and you see them every day in the mirror.

May the choices you make be the ones that bring a smile to your face.

Namaste.

Adventures in Unemployment, Part 2


First and foremost, I’m on yet another Facebook break. I’m not posting anything over there but will approve and accept all Candy Crush Saga requests. So to all of my Facebook friends, no, you won’t see me for a bit but I will happily take all the Candy Crush help I can get.

Secondly, if it seems like I’m writing a lot about my current employment status (that of being unemployed), you’re right. If anything, it gives me something to write about since every experience feels absolutely incredulous.

And today was no exception.

I had received a notice a few weeks ago that I had been selected to attend a so-called Initial Assistance Workshop at the local my assigned Career Transition Center (not to be confused with the one that offers little help). Here’s what the workshop was supposed to have covered:

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By the time we were finished, all we did was fill out some paperwork that had little to do with any of this. If anything, it seemed like those in attendance were being audited by the state for not filling out proper forms. And while the notice stated that the workshop would run from 9am to 2pm, we were done by 10:30am.

As I normally do, I felt out of place at this workshop. If anything, I felt like the smartest person in the room despite forgetting my Social Security card and having to go home to bring it back. If not, they would have had no record of my attendance and could have delayed my unemployment check.

Anyway, back to why I thought I was the smart cookie. A woman I’ll call Susan was in charge of the meeting and went over the forms we were to fill out, none of which were difficult. While we filled them out, she told us that one of the reasons we were there was because we hadn’t uploaded our resume to the state’s job-hunting service, hadn’t logged into it, hadn’t registered, etc. She called out all of us individually and explained what we needed to do in order to get up to speed.

I was the only one who had everything done right. No further action was required.

And when you go to anything dealing with state assistance, you always get a handful of characters. Today’s workshop was no exception.

One guy who admitted to not being computer savvy said that his computer crashed while he was in the middle of uploading his resume, which he claimed was difficult enough. This was also the reason his unemployment check was delayed. But if he’s not good with computers, it’s doubtful his computer crashed. I’d wager to say that he never did anything in the first place.

A woman left the meeting after a lengthy Spanish discussion with Susan. From what I picked up, she asked Susan if this meeting was going to be in Spanish as well. She told her no and gave her a time and date of the Spanish meeting.

Another woman wasn’t even supposed to be there. Susan asked for her packed and she left.

The guy next to me had questions regarding guardianship and how to list it on one of the forms. Toward the end of the meeting, Susan reminded us that we needed to return next week to return one form. The guy then spoke to Susan about the date, telling her he had a court appearance that same day. I don’t know what arrangements they made and I didn’t want to eavesdrop but it was hard to ignore when Susan said, “You have a court date?” in a voice that commanded attention.

So I will return on Monday to return my form for whatever reason. In the end, I don’t think I accomplished much and will continue my job search on my own. The place is depressing and filled with understandably unhappy unemployed people, but some tend to voice their displeasure about the services more than others and that’s not a vibe I want to be around. It’s bad juju, man. I’m telling you.

But something good did come out of today’s trip.

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I got to eat at Dave’s Burgers, a local institution. Dave’s holds a place in my heart not for obvious reasons but because it was the first place I went right after Anthony was born at the hospital down the street. Tiffany, Dave’s owner after the original Dave hung up his spatula, was one of the first people outside of family to learn I was a father.

I hadn’t gone there in a long time so after the workshop I thought I’d catch up with Tiffany who once knew me on a first-name basis and had my order on the grill when I arrived. Yes, those were my Fatty Fatty Fat-Fat Days.

But Tiffany had to do a double-take when she saw me today and was shocked when I ordered a cheeseburger, not my old usual Jumbo Double with everything. It was good to chat with her, even if she is now baffled at how I run 10 miles on the weekend.

“Damn, how the hell do you do that,” she asked with a curious look. And she must weigh 90 pounds sopping wet.

Speaking of running, registration has opened for two of my favorite events.

Grrr. I need to find a job – soon.

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