Archive for September, 2013

eliminatin artI’m about to move to my seventh address in the last five years. I wish there were a sexy reason for it, like witness protection or tax evasion. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it’s just straight up instability. And I’m so over it.

It’s time to get grounded! I’m ready for the dust to settle.

This five-year period of transience has been worth the price, I must say. It all started because I wanted a different life (be careful what you wish for). Back in 2009, I suggested to my now ex-partner that we shake things up and move to a different state. It didn’t take much convincing (my suggestion was his home state). So off we went to Los Angeles.


Mid-Week musings on Mid Life

(I occasionally run stories from friends in similar situations as mine. Here’s one of them.)

Yellow Brick Road artAh, the Great Recession. First it took my industry, then my house, then my savings. But I’ve come out of it all OK. Not exactly financially sound, but OK. Not exactly working in my industry, but working. Not in my own house, but I have a nice place to live.

Let me back up.

I got out of college in 1992 with an utterly useless English degree and a wind-swept plain where my career aspirations should have been. I. Had. No. Idea. So I worked retail for a couple years, then had a couple of traditionally terrible publishing and editorial jobs, then decided to go back to grad school and get a journalism degree (foreshadowing, dear reader).

writing art 2Writing this blog gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I won’t go so far as to say it’s saving my life, but it’s very likely restoring my sanity.

And I owe it all to Life Coach Laura. It was in her office where she and I collided at the intersection of “Ah-Ha!” and “That’s it!” The fix for most of my mid-life confusion became clear to us in unison: I needed to start writing again. Even if I never earned another plug nickel doing it. Because it might very well be the long-sought-after answer to the question: What do I want to do? What is my passion? What is my purpose?

And now I know. It’s to write. Again.

Background: For 11 years I was a reporter/writer for various publications, writing about everything from cockfighting to crochet (yes, I’ve penned stories on both). In the mid ‘90s I bailed because it seemed print journalism was dying a slow death and it turns out I was right. So the last article I was paid to write was 18 years ago. Seems so long ago it might as well have been chiseled on granite.

ADHD artHonestly, had a doctor diagnosed me with polio I would have been less shocked. An attention issue was never on my radar. I can carry on a conversation in a crowded room for at least two minutes before I start looking over the person’s shoulder at who else might be in the room. If I had attention deficit issues I’d start doing that after 15 seconds, right?

Well, as part of “middle-age reconstruction,” Life Coach Laura decided we should consider putting Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) on my menu of issues. Her credentials in the field spoke for themselves, with more than 20 years of clinical study and analysis devoted to attention deficit. After a lengthy true-or-false test and a couple short-answer responses she concluded that, yup, I’ve got it.

Well, turns out there’s more to ADHD than just the inability to carry on a conversation in a crowded room. What exactly were my test results? Well, only that I:

Identity Art 2 for identify postEarly into middle-age reconstruction my anxiety was so elevated I could barely sleep. My stress levels were through the roof and there was no credible reason for it. I’d made the decision to stop being a real estate agent, true. But I wasn’t making any money at it, anyway.

So why so petrified?

Life Coach Laura pegged it early on. The only difference was I no longer had a description for who I was. For 16 years I was a real estate agent. I had no idea how scary it would to lose that label. There was no longer a quick and easy answer to the question, “So what do you do?”

I had lost my identity.

Of course it’d been eroding for years, Laura pointed out. Eighteen months earlier I chose to leave a stable 10-year relationship. Two years before that, he and I left behind a big house and moved into a small apartment in another state. Seeking a different way of life, we downsized considerably, leaving behind a majority of the stuff we had accumulated over the years.

Two feet of a dead bodyI’ve slowly succumbed to all the trappings of living in Los Angeles. In my four years here I’ve dabbled in Buddhism, devoted three long weekends studying modern-day EST, I carry a medical marijuana card, and I belong to two gyms. Once I get a convertible, a surfboard, and a facelift, I’ll officially be an Angelino.

And now I have a life coach.

My recent decision to leave a 17-year career was not followed up with an equally well-thought out plan as to what to do next. So I hired Life Coach Laura to help me chart a new course. On the eve of meeting her, I was quite honestly a scared, confused and damaged middle-aged man. I had completely lost self-confidence, identity and rationalization. Every day brought the exact same challenges, which I confronted with the exact same solutions, thinking somehow they’d miraculously work today even though they failed yesterday.