Back in October, my wife challenged me to write every day in November. The push was in the spirit of National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo), and although I would love to write a novel or screenplay one day, I’m still a bit removed from being ready for that endeavor.
Still, she felt I needed to get back into blogging and I, too, thought it would be fun to saddle up behind the keyboard with more frequency than I have over the past several years.
But coming up with content on a daily basis is not easy. Some days, the blog posts write themselves. Other days, however, it’s a challenge to pull something interesting from what was otherwise a bland and mundane day.
I know I’ve mailed it in before, but as I pondered what to write for today’s blog, I simply drew a blank. I then thought about the 900+ blogs I’ve posted since I started writing in 2004 as well as other material, and figured I’d just reuse one of my favorites from the past. “I’ll post it as soon as I am done with this show,” I said to myself as I sat down to watch Animaniacs on Hulu.
Then this glorious and serendipitous thing happened. It’s as if the show was reading my mind.
One of the luxuries of being in-between careers is having the time to go through and clean up emails. If you’re like me, you’ve probably subscribed to a slew of blogs and newsletters for which you receive emails daily. I always think I’ll make the time to stay on top of all these mailings, but the truth is that never happens.
Unless, of course, you don’t have a job to go to.
So as I was persuing my increasingly-cluttered inbox, I came across an email from Carey Niewhof entitled, “So You Want to Quit…” The title of the message caught my eye, and I dove into the accompanying post for the email.
In it, Niewhof is speaking primarily to individuals in pastoral roles looking to make a change in their work lives. Although not exactly 100% applicable to my situation, there are several parallels to what Carey outlines and what I experienced. What really stuck out to me was this comment:
Running Toward Your Future Is Better Than Running Away From Your Past
Here’s an excerpt of what Carey says about that.
So maybe you are called to leave. Maybe your season is legitimately coming to an end.
If you can—and in a carefully discerned departure you usually have time to do this before you go— ask yourself what you’re called to next.
Find some wise counsel around you who can help you discern what’s next before you leave what’s now.
Running toward your future is a much better move than running away from your past.
Included in this verbiage was a link to a previous post entitled 7 Signs It’s Time to Leave. Talk about a serendipitous find! I won’t bore you with the details, but my reaction to items outlined by Niewhof definitely made me feel even more confident about my decision to make a change. There was one point in particular that resonated with me.
You Feel Like a Fish Out of Water
Maybe you’re largely the same but the organization shifts, not in terms of vision, but in terms of style, culture, and feel.
That’s the best way I can explain the genesis of my departure. There was a cultural shift in the brief year I was with my previous employer, and it was clear I was no longer a good fit within that organization. Working with my volunteers was still great. The horizontal relationships I shared with my peers were amazing (and I miss that so much). But the vertical relationship within the organization just didn’t feel the same, and I knew that leaving when I did was the prudent solution to that situation.
I firmly believe coincidence is God showing off, and it’s no coincidence the Holy Spirit directed me to these emails today.
Now … if I can only focus on the remaining five-hundred seventy-three unread messages.
I was on my way to a session with my counselor this morning, and I was a little preoccupied about how the meeting would go. I knew the importance of the session given we’re in the middle of a pandemic and he recommended we meet in person (our previous sessions were via Zoom).
I had about a twenty-minute drive to his office. I connected my phone to my car, put the address into Waze, and toggled over to Spotify.
“What do I want to listen to this morning?”
It’s a little bit frustrating when I have access at my fingertips to almost every song in the history of music and I stumble mentally trying to figure out what to play. I’m a little boring when I am by myself in the car. I tend to stick to playlists from my favorite musicians and bands (Billy Joel, NEEDTOBREATHE, Van Halen, Will Hoge, and, of course, Sister Hazel). I also like to lose myself in 80’s and 90’s rock. Seriously, I can listen to Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind all day.
Then like a whisper, the Holy Spirit prompted me to a Sister Hazel album from 2004.
To say 2004 was a bad year for me is a gross understatement, and I took so much solace in listening to Lift, especially when preparing my father’s eulogy. I can’t claim it as my favorite Hazel album, but I do find it to be the most lyrically mature collection of songs they’ve put out. There’s so much depth to every song, and – if you’ll excuse the pun – the album really lifts me up every time I listen to it.
I got to track nine, Another Me, and I realized what I needed to focus on in my counseling session. This song brought me back to my one-bedroom apartment, the place I called home following the end of my first marriage. As I was dealing with divorce and the death of my dad, I struggled with dark moments and I feel beyond blessed to have come out on the other side of that season.
And I’m waiting for another me
One that can change the pain of yesterday
Carry me through another day
And I’m waiting for another me
One in between the burn
And the lessons learned
‘Cause being me ain’t no way to be
I cannot accurately put into words how much I related to those lyrics sixteen years ago, and I honestly believe this song helped me survive. I mean that in a literal sense.
So as I pulled into my counselor’s office, I was able to discuss with him an event during that time in my life I feel is at the root of the problems I’ve been facing. We’re working on reframing that memory so that it’s still there but no longer triggering me at a subconscious level.
I want to get better. I want to feel better. I want to be better. The only way I’ll achieve that is by exploring what is preventing me from being where I need to be emotionally. God knows this, and His Holy Spirit helped me press play on this new chapter in my life. He lifted me up indeed!
Following an amazing weekend of doing nothing except hanging with friends and chilling on a boat, we sadly made the trek back from Jacksonville to Dothan, Alabama.
Fortunately for us, Tallahassee is smack-dab on the way, and since we’d be driving through Tally, why not stop at Trader Joe’s?
Lee and I love TJ’s. Not only is the value excellent, but the quality of the products is so much better than what is available to us in Dothan. Not just that, the eclectic variety of products makes it worth the 90-minute trip for a grocery shopping excursion.
Our stand-up freezer is packed with frozen food items from Trader Joe’s, and they make for excellent, quick, healthful meals when we’re stuck trying to figure out what to do for dinner.
So if you find yourself near a Trader Joe’s (and by near, I mean with 150 miles of one), be sure to make the trip. It is totally worth it and you will not be disappointed.
Inspiration can take on strange forms, and as I’ve been contemplating moving into an entrepreneurial space, I’ve been hiding my fears by being productive in non-important ways.
Today I was perusing Instagram and trying not to think of the myriad of things that need to happen before I feel I am ready for that next step. And as I was scrolling past pictures of children I knew who are now adults (where does the time go?), I came across the following posts back-to-back.
The Holy Spirit is always going to do His thing when it comes to providing inspiration and direction, and today’s IG time is just continued affirmation that my recent decision and my future hopes are on the right track.
Being “in-between careers” means having some extra time on your hands. Lots and lots of extra time.
I knew this going into the decision of stepping away from my previous employer. There would be a runway from the time I resigned until the next gig occurs, be it with another company or in the arena of self-employment. The blessing, in my case, is that the runway is rather long.
So as my wife and I dove into some of the details of this transition period, one thing that became evident was my role as chauffeur to her mom. To provide context, Lee’s work is 100% remote and provides great flexibility. So whenever my mother-in-law Patsy would have a doctor’s appointment, etc., Lee would take her because I was usually at work.
With the change in that dynamic, it only makes sense for me to be the one to take Patsy wherever she needs to go or run any errands she needs to be completed. When Lee would do it, it was obviously off the clock. For me now, there is no clock.
And I do so with pleasure. First of all, Lee has been very supportive of my decision to do something different, and it’s wonderful to be able to sit with her, plan with her, and have her help with the execution of our plans. More importantly, Patsy does so much for us on a daily basis, the least I can do is provide loving support in return.
I will admit there are times when I do not feel like stopping what I am doing to run my mother-in-law to an appointment (that Play Station isn’t going to play itself, after all), but it is a blessing to share time with Patsy and be someone on which she can rely.
After all, no one likes being left out in the cold when they have somewhere they need to be.
Call me crazy, but I like folding laundry. It’s my Zen space. There’s something about the sorting and repetitive nature of folding that makes my brain happy.
I took that Zen to the next level this afternoon with an unofficial-official final task for my previous employer.
If you’ve ever attended a progressive, non-denominational church, you may have noticed their volunteers wearing t-shirts. The shirts help identify the volunteers to the guests, and sometimes the shirts vary according to function.
Before I left the church for which I worked, we had an order in for new shirts for our Guest Services team. Turns out the order came in this week, and rather than drop off two boxes and the printout from a spreadsheet, I wanted to make sure my the volunteers felt an extra ounce of appreciation for the service they provide, so I folded the shirts.
All 100+ of them!
Several shirts I will deliver personally (some of the volunteers have not returned to serve due to COVID concerns), the others will be neatly stacked in the volunteer area for the Guest Services team. Either way, I hope they know how much I miss them and how much serving with them meant to me.
It may sound cliché, but it truly is better to serve than to be served. It’s even more amazing when you’re able to surround yourself with selfless individuals who give so much of themselves for the benefit of others.
He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” – Mark 9:35 NLT
In typical, late-to-the-party fashion, my wife and I began watching The Crown on Netflix today. Truth be told, I had a passing interest in the show. The Royals and the whole British monarchy is not my cup of tea (pun intended), but I do love watching Olivia Colman on screen. Also, the new season of the show introduces the storyline of Princess Diana, and this is enough to pique my interest to start watching the show.
I feel privileged to have experienced Diana’s story in my lifetime, and I remember mourning her tragic death in the way I would have mourned a family member. She was beyond the title of a celebrity. Hers was a persona that transcended culture and defied explanation, and it’s a shame she was taken from us far too soon.
Growing up, Don Shula was the long-time coach of the Miami Dolphins, and as far as I was concerned, he always would be. But then he retired following the 1995 season and, sadly, passed away earlier this year. Pope John Paul II became Pontiff in 1978 (I was still too young to understand who the Pope is), and for all of my early life, he remained Pope until he died in 2005.
With that in mind, watching The Crown got me thinking about how Queen Elizabeth II is the last remaining constant in my life. I’m sure there are some minor things I may be overlooking, but when it comes to people of significance, QE2 is the remaining standard. For the entirety of my years, Elizabeth II has been Queen of England. That fact is still amazing to me when I think about it. More amazingly, however, is how it applies to nearly everyone I know. There are few people with whom I interact regularly that were born before June 2, 1953, so a huge shout out to my mother-in-law right now!!
But in all seriousness, there’s a sense of depth and gravity when you stop and ponder the tenure of the Queen. We live in an America where change is constant and the next thing is the best thing. And even though the United Kingdom has a Prime Minister (there have been fourteen to serve under the Queen), Elizabeth II has been a life-long given for so many of us. It’s almost nostalgic to think of that type of longevity, yet she remains a modern woman driving herself to and fro.
I don’t mind change. I actually kinda like it. There’s an excitement that comes with the newness of something, be it a house, a car, a job. In many ways, change keeps us challenged, on our toes, needing to be responsive and adaptive. But there is a deep sense of comfort and security that comes with consistency, knowing that something will always be there, knowing that special someone will always be there.
That’s how I feel about my relationship with God. In the whirlwind and occasional chaos that comes with change, I know I am secure in Him. No matter how turbulent the world may seem in my personal life, I am comforted in the knowledge that I am anchored to the resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. Sitting on my sofa, in the comfort of my house, watching a streaming service on my flat-screen TV, I am thankful for what feels like the never-ending blessings He has chosen to give me.
And when it comes to the Crown, His is the only one that really matters.