Archive for Refining

Gettin’ Back on Track

Alright, seriously guys. You need to get back on the wagon, because now your laziness is affecting me. I’m skipping posts because I am infected with your lazy. Fix it.

See, I’m doing it. We can muddle through, even when we have nothing to write. Except I kind of do.

I’m looking for a job, at a snail’s pace. I should be going faster, given how much I need any kind of income right now. But I’m stuck. Resigning from that last job shook me more than I thought. Once the dreams about my grandma died down, the dreams about the ranch came back. Horrible dreams where I’m blamed for constant streams of failures I am powerless to prevent. Gee, I wonder where that comes from.

Shows how selfish I am, though. The second I get any kind of closure from the death of a loved one, I go right back to feeling sorry for myself. Not that I’m dealing with that one like a champion, either.

You ever feel like you need to vent, but you don’t know what or how? That’s where I am right now. Trying to piece together the last three months, while moving forward like a healthy human being.

 

It’s Over 9000!!!

I haven’t slept much this week.

I’m not complaining – my sleep deprivation is actually a good sign. I’m starting a new project, and I’ve been too busy daydreaming and researching solutions to sleep. I’ve found something that interests me more than sleeping, which is really saying something. Like I said, this is a good sign.

A couple months ago, my wonderful mother sent me a link to a podcast named “You Have One Life – Set Bigger Goals” by designer Sean Wes. While I don’t agree with everything Wes says, I agree that it’s important to set huge, ridiculous sounding goals – to Dream Big. Sure, I haven’t fulfilled 90% of the goals I’ve set in my life, but that’s no reason to give up hope.

So, without further ado, here is my big goal:

I will gross $20,000 in sales with my artwork in 2015.

Sounds crazy, right? That’s a lot of paintings and marketing for someone that can barely find motivation to write a blog post. $20,000 requires lots of paintings, and lots of buyers.

That’s where the project comes in. I’m currently working on a licensing agreement with a designer in Germany. If everything goes well, I’m going to start raising capital for an art-driven, self-run business that I can run alongside my current job (or a new job, who knows?). If all goes well, I’d like to eventually go part-time on my current job and focus on my new business full time.

I’m not going to say anything more about the product I’m creating, but it’s something that would capture my art style and interests perfectly. I could make money from my passions, and use my skills and profits to help benefit others. I’m really excited to see how this whole thing plays out.

So there’s my sky high, ridiculous goal, and very few specifics on how I plan to reach it. As much as I wish I could tell you more, you’ll just have to stay tuned for updates, and hope that I have good news on my next post.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Some Kind of Medicine

It’s been two weeks since I left my job, and it still stings. Fiercely, if I’m being honest. Most of my time and mental energy is spent staving off the unhealthy. This is on top of my grandma’s failing health, car trouble, money trouble, and who knows what else. Understandably, I’m a bit overwhelmed right now.

But let it never be said I can’t take my own medicine. I’ve worked with people who were in situations as crappy as the one I’m in now. Crappier, even. I have a new appreciation for what they went through.

There’s something I used to tell my clients who were down, out, and unemployed. Coming back from something big isn’t something that happens. It’s something you do. It’s a habit you create. Right now, the dark thoughts and the listlessness, those are the things I have to fight. Not letting them get a foothold is a habit I’ve used before, and will use again. It’s a bigger job than I thought it would be.

That said, I’m taking a couple weeks, before I start looking for work again. I think I’ve earned that much simplicity. It might be hypocritical, it might be spot-on. I’m not sure.

I’m trying to stay busy, at least in spurts. Dan and I have big things coming out this week. In fact, there are going to be a few announcements this week explaining that better. And it’s going to be something We’re very proud of.

So there’s a silver lining at least. Stay tuned.

-Austin

The Meeting

God, December was a terrible month. So terrible, in fact, it rolled over into January. Here’s the crisis du jour.

Saturday, my boss calls me in to her office. She tells me that I’m not as far along as I should be in my job growth. I’m a headache for some of the other staff. She then tells me she, HR, and I have a meeting on Monday, which is now today. Which is, at press time, a couple hours from now. She wouldn’t tell me what the meeting is about, but she was fairly insistent it wasn’t about being fired.

So, boom. Another bomb dropped on whatever zen I’m trying to cultivate.

At first, I was pretty shook. When anyone is trying their hardest and gets told it’s not good enough, it hurts. And with as much as I struggled with confidence and competence in the past, this opened up some old wounds.

And then I started thinking. I worked my ass off for grad school. I spent time, money, and effort pushing limits past what I thought I could do. Because of that, I can say I am good at what I do. It’s just that what I do isn’t what my job is right now. My job right now is care-taking. I took it because they promised me that after a couple months, I could move into a job where I know I can do good.

I kept at it this long because for all their faults and my headaches, I do care about the kids at the ranch. I want to help them, and I want to learn how to help other kids in their position. The management has made it clear that I can’t do that where I’m at now, and I agree.

Now comes the hard part. I have a ticking clock on getting my license to be a therapist. On top of being told I can’t stand still where I’m at now, despite promises they made when they hired me. So, at this meeting today, I’m going to have a lot to talk about.

Stay tuned, I’ll do an addendum post to tell you how it went.

This Was a Triumph

One year ago, Dan doubled down on dreaming big, Austin considered coping mechanisms, and I promised myself a year of hardship.

Today? Dan is declaring the death of his childhood, Austin is watching a loved one fade away, and my year has been overwhelmingly difficult.

Mission accomplished?

I think so.

All cynicism aside, this year has been a massive turning point for the writers of Gold in Them Hills. Dan made huge steps towards publishing his work, Austin helped dozens of kids find a sense of stability, and I completely abandoned my comfort zone on a quest for perspective.

Amid the paralyzing anxiety, forced deadlines, longing for companionship, inability to find my dream job, roller coaster of emotions, and utter confusion, I’ve managed to come out of 2014 with more passion and drive than ever before. Bigger things are coming, and this time I’m going to ride the wave instead of being pummeled by it.

There’s a fire in my heart, and it’s not going anywhere. I have a few announcements in the pipeline for 2015, and I’m sharpening my skills and hitting my knees for the next season of life.

So here’s to 2015. May you all learn from your mistakes, remember the good times, and be brave enough to keep trying when the times are tough.

– Clark

Obladi, Oblada

Life has a nasty tendency of going on. Louis C.K. wrote that life isn’t something that just happens to you. It’s something that’s always going on around you, something you participate in and witness. That thought helped a lot over the last year, as a lot about my view of the world changed.

I came back to it recently, as my grandma’s condition gets steadily worse.

It’s funny. I don’t believe in an afterlife anymore. I think we’re born, we live, then we die. Poof. That’s it. Once I realized that, my sense of theism just fell away and was gone.

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is that I can never admit it to people. Especially people who are on their way out, or to people who are just struggling with big life questions. There have been times I’ve just lied about my beliefs because it’s been easier.

The courage to live in line with my beliefs eludes me more often than not. I guess I’m not that different from the faithful in that respect.

I keep playing out a scene in my head. Nana asks me something about dying, and I lie to her about my beliefs because she’s dying, and I’d tell her anything to take some of the fear of that away. Dishonest, but comforting. There are worse things to live with. Might be a talent that makes me a better helper. Instilling hope, you could call it. If there’s no life after death, it’s not like it’ll matter soon, anyway.

I wish I had a better moral for that. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, maybe? More likely that soft lies can be kinder than hard truths.

Grit

I left for work with writer’s block, and I came back exhausted. So I’ll be brief again.

The idea of grit has been on my mind for a while. They mentioned it in grad school, and it has stuck with me since. Not just courage, but aggressive courage. A challenge, a dare to the situation to become more difficult, So that you can rise to it more. Not just perseverance, but worldliness on top of it.

It’s certainly something I’ve needed a lot of since starting my new job.

My heart goes out to these kids. Less so recently, I’ll admit, because mentally ill children are insufferable, and I get paid to suffer them. But still, all of them come from terrible situations, and living at the ranch is more punishment than opportunity. But, sympathy and mercy won’t help them. What they need is accountability, character, and some of that same grit I use.

So I’ll rise to the challenge. Again and again. Until I prove to myself and the world it can be done. Then I teach it to these kids. Maybe then I can start making that difference I set out to make.

-Austin

Big Fish

I applied for a job today. Well, not exactly applied, but I talked to the owner of a large Manhattan company about building a new website for his business.

If he had been interested, I could have moved to part time in food service and reintroduced web design into my daily schedule. Unfortunately, he already had someone on the job, so I’m sticking with the food service lifestyle.

Post-move, I keep hoping that I’ll strike it rich – that I’ll find one job or one connection that will pull me out of my retail/food service world and into the professional Manhattan lifestyle. Every time I think I’ve found my break, it crumbles away in front of my eyes. This was one of those opportunities, and I must say it stung a bit.

This rejection makes me think that it’s time to look for some smaller breaks. A bunch of normal-sized finds that add up to something bigger. I’ve been looking for a very large Lego™, while maybe I should be building up the small pieces that already surround me.

Who knows, maybe a small website gig will turn into a big job. I’ll never find out unless I start trying. The idea of working full time while taking on side work is terrifying, but not nearly as terrifying as being stuck in an expensive city with too much fear to take risks.

So it’s time to brush off my Photoshop, defrag my computer, and start kicking some web design butt.

Commitment

I wasn’t sure what to write about this morning when I woke up. Well, that’s not entirely true. I knew what I wanted to write about, I was just going to avoid it and half-ass something else.

See, I had gotten a bit of feedback on Saturday. My boss that I wasn’t doing enough to step up at my job. Coworkers didn’t feel like I had their backs. For a place where one of the hazards includes being attacked by mentally ill teenagers bigger than you are, that’s serious criticism.

So I spent the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself. After the pity party, I decided to make a change. Turns out it really can be that simple. See, inside the pity party is the implication that I didn’t think I was able to make any kind of change. Experience has proven that this is not true.

I’ve been volunteering for more. Making sure I’m the first one there in a blowout. Offering to take over and tag out for all manner of thankless jobs and paperwork drudgery. I’m only two days in to manning up, but I think I’m going to be okay.

When I buckled down and committed, it was like a bunch of puzzle pieces in my mind clicked into place. The inaction and the leaving the crises to other people were bad habits left over from when I wasn’t allowed to do much more than shadow. Action and effort suit me much better than anxiety and inertia.

I think the lesson here is in committing to a better way of doing things. Once you really go for it, things start to line up. Dan experienced it when he got back into acting and writing. Clark experienced it when he decided to take the plunge and move to New York. And now I’m experiencing it. If it happens that often it can’t just be coincidence.

So, at the risk of being preachy again, here’s my challenge to anyone reading. You know the right thing to do. Get out there and do it.

-Austin

Priorities

I chipped a tooth last night. I was flossing and a piece of tooth just fell right out of my mouth. I don’t know why.

You know those dreams where teeth fall out? I think it taps into that weird tooth paranoia those dreams create. I’m actually pretty worried about it. Like, more worried about it than most of the new job problems I’ve had over the last couple months.

Looks like I’m more vain than I thought I was. Oh, helping treat mental illness in kids? Pshaw. A small dental problem that can be fixed in an hour? Stop the presses, my life is about this now.

I feel a little guilty. When instinct reveals my priorities, they’re always so selfish and petty. Heck, usually the biggest impact on my day isn’t the strength of my lofty ideals, but what I’m planning on doing when I’m done with my shift. I literally care more about my X-box than improving the lives of children.

I can talk a good game, but I’m as much a monkey as everyone else on this rock. I’m not the person I say I am, I’m just a selfish asshole that puts talk before action. Here’s how I know. All the talk I’ve done about wanting to help people? Clearly not, If a chipped tooth is instantly at the top of my list.

Ir’s a silly rabbit hole to go down, I know, but this is where I’m at as of press time. I want to be a better person, but right now I want my tooth fixed more.