Archive for Taking Charge

Oops-es and Updates

First of all, I owe the guys an apology. Last week I blamed them for my stuff, and they rightly took offense. I meant it to be a joke, sort of a “ha-ha, I’m blaming you for my actions” kind of thing, but it just came out dickish. For that I am sorry.

I may not have much of a sense of humor these days. Not that it excuses being a dick.

But things are looking up. I had a job interview last week. Tumbleweed, which is the kind of job I should have been looking for in the first place. So, fingers crossed.

 

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.

 

Back in Black

Well, I’m back.

I would be lying if I said I just “took time off.” I just quit writing. I got bummed out when a webcomic project didn’t launch, and the weather, and life in the city took that disappointment and made it full fledged depression.

The worst part of my failure to post for the last few weeks was that I brought my contributors down with me. Clark followed not too long after, and finally, even Austin stopped fighting the good fight.

I have been depressed. Hell, I still am some days. But I am writing something important to me. Not just this blog, but my other blog, and several other projects. And I have to keep reminding myself that in order to be a writer, you have to write.

You have to write every damn day.

The longer I stay at this, the more second nature it becomes. But with hard times, family trauma, and failed attempts at greatness, the comfort of writing is also a blight. Because no matter how much I write and no matter what the topic, I can’t shake the feeling that I suck at it.

Please, do not comment or message me any reassurances about my “talent.” I am not fishing for anything. I am simply voicing my very real fear that I am, in fact a terrible writer.

I think this feeling comes with the territory. The craft of writing requires a lot of critique and it doesn’t have a finished product like computer programming or architecture. Does the program work? Does the building stand? Job well done. But, do the words sound right?

Maybe. I can’t ever tell.

I’m trying. Not very hard, some days. But, I try. And as I keep growing as an artist and a person, my life is improved not my my progress in the craft, but simply by doing it. I am made more human by the act of  trying to achieve, and striving to be better. And most days, it is still a hard sell.

But, I keep going. I fall, and stumble, and screw up with surprising regularity. And when I look back on these past mistakes, I can become paralyzed with fear. But I have to keep going. And I still ask myself why and and tell myself I am kidding myself, but I keep moving forward.

Why? Because I must. Because that is my task in this life. To push to be a story teller and to try and build something. Not so it can stand the test of time or be the greatest story every told, but because in the act of trying, I am made whole.

So here’s to being back. I’m sorry I ever left,

-DC

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

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.

A Brief Check-In

Life is finally starting to resume after the strange fugue summer, Dan’s wedding, and the new job. I lost my new confidence and found it, and in finding it feel alive again.

I realized (again) I have a voice, and competencies, and a worldview. Even the people that have been at this job for years have things to learn from me.  There are things I need to improve upon, of course. I imagine literally everybody two months into a new job has things they need to improve on. But I’m stepping up more, and people are starting to tell me it shows. More than that, I’m starting to remember the old lessons on valuing myself, and I can feel that sense of congruence returning.

Big things are coming down the tube between Dan and I. Tomorrow I start really digging in my creative heels. I’ll let him break the news (because I know it would break his heart if he didn’t), but I will say some lifelong dreams are about to come true.

With Christmas on the way, and I’m finally in the same town as my family when it happens. On top of that, I have money to spend on them. Hopefully, that will be a trend for the foreseeable future.

With any luck, this is the start of that transition from surviving to thriving that marks an interesting life.

-Austin