New year, new strategies

2014 and 2015 were mainly about playing by the rule book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing…rules help keep order to the world. But I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years when it comes to employment and the strategies I’ve used in employment. And I’ve definitely fouled up again over these last two years.

In looking back at the last several months I was in business (which has now become a hibernation), my employment at KU and the months I was unemployed, I seem to have worked from a position of weakness. I made bad decisions…in trying to stay humble and not rock boats, I kept my mouth shut more than I should have. And as I’m sure you’re aware, I have lamented many things and questioned myself a great deal over the past several months.

For many years, I was an impatient shithead, and wasn’t horribly concerned about telling you to stick it. Then I woke the hell up and grew up and started practicing humility. But the problem there was that I have always had some issues with passive-aggressiveness and being timid. I wasn’t as assertive as I should have been. And I probably got walked on more than I should have. And I spent too much time being hurt and angry and frustrated.

I know that I’m an intelligent individual with several skill sets that could be an ideal match in several places. The problem I have is trying to make an employer see that. But I need to remain patient and be confident. As long as I work hard, a little luck is eventually going to come my way. In fact, that luck may have already come.

And I’m a good person that happens to have a lot of friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, people pass into your life only for a moment or two…others come and go…others remain constant. It’s all the ebb and flow of life.

So, at age 40, am I finally reaching my balance point? I hope so.

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On 2015

Today marks the final day of 2015…and it has been one hell of a roller coaster for me! Fortunately, the year started and ended on a high note.

In January, we finished the final main piece of the Dynamic Learning Maps project over at KU before start rolling it out to the states. It was the culmination of five years of long and hard work, and I was proud to be there for the final year. Kids in 30 states will now be able to be better tested on their intelligence, despite having cognitive handicaps.

In March, I traveled across the western half of the country, starting in Chicago, then making my way out to Albuquerque and Cheyenne. I saw a lot of awesome natural beauty and got to hang out with good friends.

During the first six months of the year, I prepared for what has become one of the biggest moments of my life: gastric bypass surgery. Prior to surgery, I lost 40 pounds over five months. Since surgery on June 29, I have lost an additional 104 pounds, with more to come in 2016.

On August 4, I said goodbye to my friends and coworkers a KU, as my contract was not renewed. It was disappointing to leave, as I had enjoyed my time there. I had launched a job search in April though, because I knew the possibility of being let go was there. From April until earlier this month, I put out over 400 applications and was interviewed about 30 times. Sadly, all of the hard work lead to one job offer back at KU that I could not accept. Without a doubt, the last four months of this year were incredibly difficult.

Which leads us to today, where I am back in business for myself again. This was not in the plans, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. But I am enjoying the work and the money that it brings at this time, so I am definitely not going to complain.

I hope you were able to have great growth and enjoyment in 2015…though I hope you did not have to go through the extremes that I did. May your 2016 be a happy and healthy one!

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I made it! 40 years old! Whoooooooooo!

There have been times over the past couple years where I wondered if I would even see this day. My health has not been the best, and it was only 9 months ago that my weight was at 450 lbs (205 kg). And it seems like every five years that my life undergoes some sort of major change (2000, 2005, 2010)…and 2015 has not let me down.

On June 29th, after 5 months of preparation, I underwent gastric bypass surgery. Almost 4 months later, I am doing well…down over 100 pounds, feeling the best I have in years. On August 3rd, I lost my job at the University of Kansas. That was not a surprise…my job was a one year grant-funded position. I was hopeful that either the funding would be renewed or that I would be able to remain at the University in another capacity. Two and half months later, I am still hanging out at home, hoping that one of the 300-plus applications I have put in will lead to a job offer. Not wanting to be left out of the festivities, my wife was diagnosed with diverticulitis in June, and had part of her colon removed in late August. She has fully recovered now, and also lost some weight during the process…not the way you want to lose weight, mind you, but hey…

The last month has been particularly difficult. We tend to center our lives around our jobs, so when we don’t have a job, we feel like less of a person. Of course, we are so much more than our jobs…they only make up a small part of who we are. There have been some days where I just try to hide from the world, because I have just felt so down. I have put in over 300 job applications in 29 states, and have had 17 interviews over the past 6 months…but nothing yet. It has felt devastating at times.

BUT…something is going to come along eventually. I refuse to sit here and wallow in frustration and disappointment. I’ve had a good 40 years…the next 40 will be great. Hell, I’m just happy to be here right now.

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Before you cast your stone…

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the outrage connected to comments by someone at a Donald Trump rally in Rochester, NH last Thursday. Let’s go back to that person’s witty thoughts:

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American. Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”

Then yesterday, we got this exchange on NBC’s Meet the Press, between moderator Chuck Todd and Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson:

I think we have our fears mixed up. We keep focusing on the religion instead of the people. We’ve seen some really bad people over the years–and even today–use Christianity and Judaism for nefarious purposes. But how many people in the Western World really look at these religions as evil? How many people truly understand Islam? Or understand that there are different trains of thoughts in Islam as there are in Christianity and Judaism?

Stop being scared. Stop the fear-mongering. Educate yourself.

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Minding other’s houses

On Thursday night, at a rally in Rochester, NH, someone asked the following question to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump:

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American. Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”

Trump responded: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”

There are several things we could say in regards to this jaw-dropping Q-and-A exchange, but let’s focus on Trump’s response to his lack of response:

I can’t believe I’m going to say this…but I agree with Trump to a point.

Would it have been nice for Trump to refute the contentions of the crazy man at the rally? Of course. It would be nice if more of us took stands against those that are on our side. I’m proud to be a liberal, but I’m not afraid to call out my own. Am I hesitant? Absolutely! Why? Because it hurts to realize that your team may be wrong. But at the same time, I don’t expect anyone else to do what I do…BECAUSE it’s hard to do. In the end, we’re all on the same team. That’s similar to demanding and expecting apologies…if you go through life like that, your expectations are set too high, and you are going to be disappointed a lot.

So, where is that fine line? I’m not sure…I think someone running for president like Donald Trump should refute something like what happened on Thursday, especially when he doesn’t seem afraid to open his mouth at all. But we also know that the President is not a Kenyan Muslim, perhaps in small part because of the work of Trump. And at the same time, how many of us have taken on our own crazies?

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35 days to go

Sadly, there have been several–maybe lots–of cheat days recently. It’s so hard to control the cravings I keep having…sometimes, it takes everything within me to keep myself from giving in. Hopefully my last cheat day was Saturday (2 days ago).

I’m so ready for this surgery. I want the cravings to stop. I want the weight to start coming off. I want to be able to go out and exercise. I want to wear normal people clothes and do normal people things again. I want to quit sleeping all the time. I want to feel like I’m in control rather than powerless.

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So let’s do some catching up…and then there will be surprises!

Good day everybody!

If you know me, you probably know by now that I am not having hernia surgery…I am having gastric bypass surgery.

Since January, I have been going through a process mandated by both The Bariatric Center of Kansas City and my insurance company: a 3-month diet, visits with a dietitian, visits with a psychologist, approvals for surgery from all my doctors, an endoscopy to make sure everything looks good down below and a 2 1/2-hour seminar going over pre- and post-surgery instructions.

This week, my insurance company gave final approval and the surgery date was set today: June 29th.

My feelings at this point are…fuck, can we get this over already?!

I’ve lost 25 pounds with the diet and I do feel better. I also feel like I have more willpower. But every time I eat is a struggle…it’s like my mind and stomach are screwing with me all the time. And there are so many things I can’t do or struggle with because of my weight. I think back to how things were when I was at my lowest weight in 1994 (when I lost 70 pounds)…and I want to be and feel like that again. (I can’t quite be like that again…I’m almost 40…I’m getting old!)

There are going to be some big changes coming. I won’t be able to eat solid food for like 2 months. I won’t be able to eat some things any more. I’ll be recovering all summer, including missing 2 weeks of work. But I want to live a long and healthy life…and at the rate I’m going, I fear being dead sooner rather than later.

I kept this surgery hidden for…2 months, I think? During that time, I wrote some blogposts about the surgery that I was going to release after the surgery. Well, since I let the cat out of the bag early…if you look back to January, you will see some posts that you might not have seen before. I’ll try to label them accordingly.

So…53 days away…

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Hitting the checkpoints as time moves quickly (previously hidden)

No real need to set this up.

Tomorrow marks my second appointment with the nutritionist. I met with the surgeon and my caseworker two weeks ago.

My progress is coming along nicely. I am down 22 pounds since my first visit to the nutritionist just over a month ago. My energy and stamina have increased…going up and down steps is easier. Eating has only been frustrating in that I’m still not getting as much protein in my diet as I should. I will start doing supplements this week.

The only thing that I have been bad about is having carbonated water…I won’t be able to have it after surgery. I don’t drink it as much as I used to, and if this is the worst thing I’m doing, I figure I’m doing alright.

The cravings come and go. They are not as intense as they used to be, but sometimes, they sneak up on me. I think the worst indulgence I’ve done is the buffet at Hy-Vee, which we don’t go to often. And even then, I try not to overdo it.

Hopefully, the nutritionist will be pleased with my progress and I’ll see even more weight loss tomorrow.

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On fighting weight and demons

I have to have a hernia surgery. It has to be done soon, but it is not critical yet. My doctors would like me to lose some weight before performing the surgery…so for about a month now, I have worked with a dietitian.

I’ve yo-yo dieted all my life…I’ve been fat almost all my life. But in recent years, I’ve been trying to sincerely make changes and live a healthier lifestyle–THAT’S a real diet. Sometimes, the changes stick for a while…a long while. Others, not so much. 4 weeks in, this change is sticking so far.

There are a lot of people out there giving advice right now…Big Pharma vs Big Alternative. And we’ve always had it stressed to us that skinny is the “right” thing; now we have some that seem to be advocating the opposite.

Here is what I KNOW: my poor eating habits have led to several health problems over the past several years, and probably play a role in my anxiety as well. It is not healthy for someone of my height to weigh as much as I did.

So I started eating “better”…not doing a bunch of crazy diet stuff, but I focus mainly on protein. I eat some carbs, though not as many as I used to, and I don’t worry much about fats. And I read labels…and I know what corn can be turned into.

Both my primary care provider and my cardiologist approve of the diet. In three months, I hope to be off Metformin…maybe even another medicine or two. I’m down over 20 pounds and feel physically and mentally better than I have in a long time.

Occasionally, I’ll stop in a gas station to use the restroom…very rarely do I buy anything at one anymore other than gas. I am amazed at how much time I used to spend in these places and how much awful shit I used to buy there and put into my body.

It has taken an extraordinary amount of willpower to get to where I am today. Some days are better than others… And it gets better every day. But the temptations are still there.

I hate hearing shit like, “Well, if you care about x, you’d do it.” Or, “You just have to do it…no excuses.” Yeah…that’s a nice fucking Utopia, isn’t it?

I’m not going to claim to be an expert on addictions, but having dealt with two powerful addictions in my life (nicotine and food), I think I have enough insight to speak on it a little. You can WANT to do something so badly…you can WANT to make a change…but, at least for me, it has taken trigger of sorts to finally say, “Yep, I gotta do it.” And once that trigger hits, your mind is in the right direction…and it makes fighting the addiction MUCH easier than before. It’s still a bitch to get through, but the next thing you know, you’re over the hill and fighting less. And that is the greatest feeling.

If you know me and you are a smoker, you know that I have never given you the “Reformed Smoker” riot act…and I won’t. Now, I may not want to hang out at places where there is a lot of smoke, because it causes me physical issues these days. BUT…I know that is a tough habit to break. And when you’re ready to quit, you will. Hopefully, it won’t be too late for your health though.

So, let me wind this up. Yes…you have to want to make a change. But you have to be ready to do it too.

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So, it’s been a while…

If I’m going to keep spending $100 a year to host a website, it seems that I should make better use of it. That’s the problem with social media for me…I just babble there all the time, rather than using blogging to form thoughtful paragraphs of babble.

So it’s been a while since my last post here…almost a year. Here is what you have missed: the closing of my business, another bankruptcy, a real job that I love and…that’s about it. I mean, that’s what life is all about, right? The more things change, the more they stay the same?

Anyway, while I enjoy the easiness of social media, I feel like I need to write more “formally,” lest I forget how. You never know…someone might want me to pen an essay or something. So expect new stuff…regularly…soon.

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