Thursday, January 8, 2015

Do something different

Well, it's 2:00am.  I'm wide awake and can't get back to sleep.  I knew the minute I woke up to go to the bathroom that there wouldn't be anymore sleep.  That's happened a lot lately.  My brain is firing away with thoughts coming thick and fast, work, running, family, friends, more work, more running, more family, more friends.  It doesn't end unless I can shut things down.  Usually I just get up and play some mind numbing game like solitaire on my phone.  That tends to get my brain on a single task and shut down all the wildly firing synapses.  Usually that works pretty well.  Tonight I decided that I wouldn't do that just yet.
As I lay in bed with my deluge of random thoughts (anyone with ADD will understand), one that kept going through my head was to do something different this time.  I always play something different.  I always write about running on this blog (it is titled Jim's Running Adventures, duh) something different.  I tend to keep thoughts and things that bother me to my self and not really share with others, conflict avoidance and all something different.  Quit writing in this blog and go back to something different.
I'm a lousy writer.  I'm an Engineer by training and demeanor.  That means that my writing is technical, dry, boring.  I don't have a way with prose.  I have a couple of friends that I'm envious of because they.can.write.  They can put it out there, make a point, be both funny and profound.  I wish I could do that.  Not because I want everyone to think I'm an awesome writer but because I want to be able to better express my thoughts, both in writing and verbally.  I just have a hard time with that.  Usually I know what I want to say.  I go over it and over it in my head.  It's all so logical and makes sense, at least to me.  Instead, what comes out tends to be verbal garbage that makes very little sense unless it involves numbers or how to make or fix something.  It's incredibly frustrating to me and I know it is to my wife.  So I'm trying to do something different.  Maybe I can.
So, in my effort to indeed do something different, here are my thoughts.  Because of my Engineering demeanor, I have to put them in an organized list.  I'm not necessarily anal about things like that, but it does help to organize my thoughts somewhat.
Thought #1 - I want to cut this short and go back to bed.  I'm lazy like that.
Thought #2 - My job.  What the hell.  I've been in my current position for the past 15 months.  My title is Project Manager, but it's not really that much of a project management role.  It's a contract position.  That means it's temporary, pays hourly rather than salary, and I have to buy my own benefits.  I was hoping that perhaps it would turn into a direct position, but it's looking as though that won't be the case.  In fact I may be out of a job again in the next couple of months.  That sucks...again.  I've been applying for position after position over the past two years.  I've had countless interviews.  Many that I thought went very well for positions that I thought would ideally suit my strengths, training, work history, etc.  Nothing has come all.
Thought #3 - Not being able to find a job makes me feel like a loser.  I left a perfectly good job at ATK for a position that I thought would be that "something different".  Different line of work, different industry.  Well, that ended after a couple of years.  What am I doing wrong?  Why won't people hire me when I'm clearly the best candidate for the position?  Am I too old?  Do people think I'm over qualified?  Yes, I have been told that.  Do people think that because of my experience that they can't afford me?  I've been told that as well.  Obviously my current approach to job hunting is not something different.  But what?  Do I get some training and change careers?  Or get some training to enhance my current skills?  I.....don't.....know.  Why can't someone just give me the answer?  I'm always hearing that to get a job these days you have to "network".  Hell, I know huge numbers of people through my running.  So to all of you that I know (or don't know because I'm lousy at remembering names), check out my LinkedIn profile.  Maybe you need someone with my skills.  Maybe you know someone that's looking for someone like me.  Who knows?  Can't hurt to ask.
The thing is, I need to figure out what I want out of my work life.  Do I want the corporate job?  It pays a wage, benefits, vacation time, etc.  There's a lot to be said for that.  I have no illusions about job security.  I never have over the past 30 years.  I've always figured you make your own job security through education, training, job skills.  Yeah, how's that working out for you now Jim?  It's not, I thought so.
Thought #4 - I want to cut this short and go back to bed.  I'm lazy like that.
Thought #5 - I'm running out of writing steam and want to call it a something different.
Thought #6 - Maybe I should do something different on the job front and buy a business.  I do have my race directing business that's been pretty successful so far.  Trouble is, I can't quit my day job and do it full time.  Something about paying bills.
Thought #7 - Maybe I should grow the business I have now.  I've kind of been trying but these days the race field is getting really crowded.   I love directing the races I do.  I love watching people crossing the finish line.  I love having people come back year after year because they like my events.  I don't want to start any new events unless I know they can be financially successful.  Making money, that's kind of the point of having a business.  Must.banish.negative.thoughts. I would like to find some races to buy.  Trouble is, I have no idea how to go about that.  Ideas anyone?
Thought #8 - This one is going to take some effort to write.  Many different thoughts here.  What to say, how to say it, do I put myself out there, how much do I put myself out there, by writing this will I open myself up to ridicule?  Will family that reads this be upset or concerned (don't be, I'm not airing dirty laundry)?  By nature I'm a pretty private person with my personal life.  My lovely wife obviously knows me and I can open up to her.  I have a very, very few close friends that I feel safe with and can open up to.  Other than that, I put on my happy face and go about my business.  The good thing is, my happy face is pretty genuine.  I'm a happy, optimistic kind of guy.  To me, the glass is usually have full....of good beer and a solid adventure run in a beautiful place, or playing with my grandkids and spending time with my family.  That stuff makes me extremely happy.  And the only reason it's not full is that I've already drank half of it and I'm working on the rest.  I'm stalling, trying to gather some thoughts for the next push.
I hesitate to write the next few sentences because I didn't let my friend know, but one of my very close friends is going through a difficult period in her life.  I spent some time with her just listening and being supportive.  One of the main things she kept coming back to was that she had to be true to herself and not live a lie.  Yes, it may hurt a few people for awhile, but in the long run things will be better.  I'm stalling some more, trying to gather thoughts in a coherent manner.
Anyway, what she said caused me to start thinking more deeply about my life than I have in a long time.  Maybe that's why I couldn't get back to sleep.  Am I living a lie?  Am I being true to myself?  Is that selfish?  Should I be selfish?  Good grief, my hands are shaking as I write this, it's hard.  Maybe I'm just cold, we do turn the thermostat down to 58F at night.  More later on being true.
As I get older and get beyond middle age and into old age (holy crap!), I often wonder about a legacy.  For the vast, vast majority of us, we will be forgotten within two generations of our death.  How's that for a happy thought at 3am?  I know very little about my great grandparents.  What do I want my great grandkids to remember about their great grandpa.  What do I want my grandkids to know and remember about me?  Here's what I think I want to be known for.  I have no illusions about being remembered more than two generations past my death.  I have done nothing that remarkable in my life except raise two wonderful children that I love more than life itself and somehow manage to remain married to most wonderful woman I have ever met.  Yeah, I haven't done anything profound enough to change the world or make it a better place for humanity.  So, I want to be known first for being kind and thoughtful in word and deed.  There's a lot to be said for keeping your mouth shut and your thoughts to yourself, especially if it's negative.  I know a lot of people are of the opinion to just say what's on their mind regardless of the consequences.  Instead, say a kind word, do a kind deed.  I have a somewhat hard time with this.  It's not that I'm evil, it's just that I tend to hesitate to offer that helping hand, or that kind word.  My plan to do something different is to do more.
Second, I want to be known for being fun to be around.  Life is hard enough and short enough to not have fun.  I want to be able to make fun of myself, I want to have fun with my life.
Third, I want to be known as a loving husband, father and grandfather.  To me, there isn't anything much more important than that.
Fourth, I want to be known for being that friend that people can rely on.  To lend a helping hand, offer a shoulder or ear, drink a beer with, just have some fun adventures.  I deeply treasure my close friends, and I really need to tell them that.  I grew up moving around every few years, and I've moved around quite a bit during my adulthood.  As a result I never really developed very many close friendships.  Now that I've hopefully moved for the last time, I feel like I'm putting down some roots.  Some of those roots are the friends that I now have.  So do I tell those that I consider my close friends that they are indeed my close friends?  There's a danger in that they may not feel the same way.  My initial thought is to not say anything.  Why open myself up to possible rejection.  Still, I think it needs to be done.  Hopefully I can grow a pair and do it.  So many more thoughts here.  Do I write them down and share, or hold them close like I always have.
Fifth, I want to be known that even someone as ordinary and unremarkable as me can accomplish some pretty hardcore shit.  To be truthful, that just flames my ego :-)  I'm not into death defying things, I'm scared of heights (I've got a pilot's license, go figure), and the possibility of severe injury or death scares me too.  Pain hurts.
Thought #9 - More on being true.  Karen and I had a conversation last night about why do we remain married to each other.  The obvious answer was that we both love each other.  But what exactly does that mean?  Obviously this topic has been written about for centuries, but it's different when it's personal.  So, am I being true to myself when I say that I'm married because I love my wife?  I've thought about this a fair amount over the past several days and I came to the conclusion that, yes, I am indeed being true to myself.  I would rather be with her than anyone else I can possibly think of.  Yes, we both have our faults that annoy the hell out of the other, but when it comes down to it, yep, she's the one.  So in the "do something different" category here, I plan on doing the same thing I have been doing because it's working.  Yay!  Something's working!
Thought #10 - Holy crap, this is becoming a book, no one is going to read this thing through, too damn boring.
Thought #11 - My train of thought just left the station and I'm still on the platform.
Thought #12 - Oh yeah, here it is.  Nothing like a senior moment.  There are a few reasons I'm writing all of this crap down.  I can't sleep because all of these thoughts are in my head.  Perhaps by vomiting them up, I can get some relief in my brain.  For some time I've wanted to try and write something a bit more profound than just the usual running garbage.  Dry race reports and adventure run reports with a  few scenery pictures thrown in.  All designed to show just how awesome a runner I am and the awesome adventures I have.  And I have to admit, I am kind of looking forward to reading any comments once I post this.  Once again, it's an ego thing.
Thought #13 - One of the other "do something different" things is to ask more for help.  I really enjoy helping out, but I have a very strong tendency to just do things myself.  I was raised that you should be able to help yourself and help others as well.  As a result, I tend to not ask for help, it's hard for me to admit that I need some help.  When offered, I tend to reject help, I can do it myself.  It's not really an ego thing, just a personality trait I have.  Or maybe it is an ego thing.  I don't know.
Ok, now I'm running out of steam and thoughts.  That's probably a good thing.  Last thought, it's after 4am, the alarm is set for 5am because I am at the gym at 5:30am, do I stay up or hit the sack for a short nap.  Ok, staying up, maybe I'll check Facebook.  Wait, wait, wait, one more thought.  I'll probably have a crap ton more thoughts after I post this, or wish I had worded things differently.  Oh well, it's posted.


  1. W.O.W. I've had a lot of sleepless nights lately too (xanax helps) and it's been a really strange week. You and Karen have been in our thoughts a lot lately for being such amazing examples of genuine, kind and honest people. We both love you guys so much. Second, you fly fucking airplanes, ok? That's badass in my book, not to mention the whole 100 miler thing. And we love the relationship you and Karen have. You're both so down to earth and independent and real. The job thing does insane things to our heads, I've been there. I will keep my eyes and ears open and share anything I can find.

  2. You are NOT a failure. Most of us (at least all I know) think this way at one time or another, and half of us think like this most of the time. I do. But as you went on to write about legacy, you nailed those things to be remembered for (and yes, probably not much further than a couple of generations): simple things, kindness, commitment, integrity, hard work, true friendships, ability to help. You got those right. As far as buying another race...well, I know an RD in TX who is looking for a buyer - is it too far? Can you create a new race(s)? Expand into something else, like training groups/running clubs?

  3. I love verbal garbage and based on the way your train of thought left the station and navigated quite the winding bit of track I'm wondering if you aren't an engineer in more ways than one. I'll take honest self examination over a race report any day. EVERY day. Hope your today and everyday is good, better, the best because of it. I'll remember you for as long as I am able as a helluva good, hell of an earnest, hell of an interesting guy. Follow your heart but let your head have its say too. Be well, Jim!