No. 11 and Counting

I never thought I’d write a book. Never gave it much thought. That is, until a year or so ago when I started writing short fiction stories. Mostly mystery and science fiction with a twist and macabre themes.

To date, I now have published 11 such stories since I sorta accidentally began this trek. I had considered early on that after I published an even dozen or 13 (Baker’s Dozen) I would try to get them published as a book. I’m still thinking that way. It keeps my mind going in a positive, if not challenging direction.

I just recently published the third and final installment in what turned out to be a trilogy of stories about the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, LA, featuring a time traveler and an evil general manager.

I have found that when I’m writing these stories, I get a sense of joy and adventure in figuring out what my characters will be doing and what surprises they encounter. It’s fun! It also keeps me from thinking about all the advertising work I’m not getting!!

What keeps you going, especially if you live alone? What keeps you inspired and up for the next challenge? What helps you stave off depression? Is it painting, crafts, writing? It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s a diversion from reality. Even if it’s writing about your depression or painting a portrait that, to you, represents what you’re going through. It’ll help you get through it.

Since Pam died, I live alone. Well, alone with my thoughts, which, at times, can be dangerous (not suicidal; though I’ve wondered how long it would be before my body was discovered after my death – hmmmm). They’re also, productive and exciting.

New story lines can be born amidst the depression that rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times. That’s why some of my stories have centered around Pam and her demise while others enter into the realm of the macabre (think Twilight Zone or Rod Serling; for younger audience members, Google it). Some stories, like the Majestic Trilogy, are simply science fiction mystery thrillers.

Now I’m faced with what will my next story be about. I haven’t a clue at present! But, I shall not worry about it as it will come to me eventually.

In Memoriam

This week I find myself reflecting on two milestones, both of which have an impact on me but for different reasons.

First, the untimely and unfortunate death of Lisa Marie Presley. Apparently of natural causes, Lisa Marie died last Thursday from cardiac arrest. I remember when she was born in 1968. Being an avid fan of her famous father, Elvis Presley, I sort of followed her upbringing. Also because she was only two years younger than my first cousin’s daughter, Patricia, her life interested me. I was very saddened and surprised when I heard the news.

And second, this coming Thursday marks the anniversary of my mom’s death back in 1981. Her passing didn’t surprise me although it naturally saddened me. She had been in poor health and never really got over Dad’s unexpected passing a few years before in 1978. In many ways, her death was a relief. She could now be back with “Sonny” and watch over me from above.

Joe’s Journey has taken many twists and turns since I’ve been writing this blog. I hope you have found it interesting and, at times, fulfilling. It’s been fun and medicinal for me to write it, having bared my soul perhaps more than I would normally do. But, that’s okay; at least you know what I’m thinking and feeling. Perhaps you have thought and felt the same.

Thank you for being with me on the ride. May we traverse the twists together!

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Do You Have a Purpose?

“People age well where they have a purpose” is something I read somewhere. Makes sense, I guess.

But what if you don’t know what your purpose is? What if you lose track of it somewhere along the way? Then what?

It’s not something you can just pick up and glue the pieces back together. Everyone’s purpose is different; they’re all custom made.

Same for your thought process. We all think differently. We’re all creative but in different ways.

When we lose track of our purpose do we then lose an inkling of what it might be? What do we feel in our gut? What’s our instinct? What do we think it is? Might we have more than one purpose?

That is up to us. Having a single purpose in life might mean leading a life too simplistic. It may not mesh with reality.

My reality these past few months has meant I lost my purpose. Life became too complicated and my interest level evaporated, especially for all things fun. I’m still fighting through this.

I was going from crisis to crisis, trying desperately to maintain some semblance of sanity. I lost possession of my car (long story) after it got towed, kept fighting cash flow with no revenue to speak of except for social security, and basically trying to maintain some element of a positive outlook on life.

I guess one could say my purpose then was to survive. And survive I have – so far. But is that all there is in life, survival? I think not. I need a renewed purpose; perhaps you do, too.

Without that renewed purpose, aging well is a non-starter. We won’t age well. We’ll tend to get swallowed up by debt, health problems, negative thinking, a couldn’t-care-less attitude and various other trials and tribulations of life.

I choose not to have this sort of life but find it extremely difficult to let go of it.

My current purpose in life or at least one of them is to fight my feeling of isolation. Being without a car is like being stranded on a desert island. We take the car and its benefits for granted. This, in turn, plays havoc on one’s psych. I can’t just get up and get out without thinking of why I need to go wherever it is I want to go.

Extended family and delivery services have helped but my independence is still waning.

One’s purpose in life, I feel, must involve both the serious and the mundane, both the interesting and the challenging, both fun and frivolous. I’m in search of the right combination for me.

One such development is how I post my blogs. Beginning in the New Year, I plan to write only one per week and alternate them. Joe’s Journey will be in one week, starting with this one, while my creativity blog will be the next week and so forth. That way I leave more time for each blog and to do other things.

I’m trying to switch things up a bit here in the new year and, hopefully, this will translate into a much more positive take on life and its trials. I wish the same for you.

Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to friends and family if you can. Do what you have to do so you’ll obtain a more positive outlook.

Here’s wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Happy Anniversary

Anniversaries, like birthdays, seem to come and go. I “celebrated” my 24th version with Pam yesterday. Even though I spent the day and evening with Me and Myself, it proved to be a memorable occasion. Pam and I dated for five years before we tied the knot, so we spent almost 30 years together.

It’s hard to believe she’s been gone for over two years now. I miss her dearly. I miss her smile, the back-n-forth with one another we did, listening to her advice and even taking it once in awhile.

Even though I don’t travel down Memory Lane that often, I still have a few boxes of photos to go through and decide which ones to keep. I’m not out to build a shrine but keeping several significant photos is appropriate.

Because she wanted to be cremated, I keep her ashes in a special container overlooking my desk. I can talk and visit her anytime day or night. This cremation aspect is new to me so it’s taken some time to get used to the fact that she’s here with me, just in a different form.

When I talk to her, I also try to listen to what she tells me. It does impact what I do and don’t do. Yes, she does speak to me but not in the way you may think.

So, Happy Anniversary my dear Pamela. I trust it has been peaceful for you as it has for me. Here’s to our 25th next year!

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

 

That Was One Pothole Too Many!

Oh the Good Times, may they return quickly. Assuming they’ve been here recently, which they haven’t. The last couple of weeks I’ve gone from pothole to pothole. Last week I finally fell into one, and it was deep.

I’m learning how to live when one falls into the ice. It’s freaking cold! I’m treading water. I seem to have an unwelcome house guest: Seems “Mr. Murphy” has come for an extended visit. Much to my displeasure.

He’s seeing to it that my bills are past due and the money in my bank account is insufficient. Nice guy, this Murphy! But he’s not wearing out just my welcome mat; he’s making the rounds.

He’s seeing to it that I not only take things one day at a time, but one crisis at a time. And there are several. He’s even questioning why I’m writing this post.

I’m posting my trials and tribulations to relate to others that there’s always an alternative to how terrible things seem to be. During this past week, I wasn’t too sure.

Now I’m not trying to gain anyone’s sympathy. I’m just letting you know that Joe’s Journey has taken a turn for the worst. One of the ways I cope is to write things down in my blog, hoping it will not only help me but others as well.

I must go up and down the despair/anxiety totem pole at least once a day. Challenging financial times is my biggest downer. Just when I think I’ve got them handled, I slip further down into the pothole. I’m sure some of you can relate.

Oh, and don’t expect any sympathy from various vendors, especially the utility companies. You can’t pay your bill this month? Don’t fret. They’ll just cut off the power until you can pay. I know, having just gone through that.

No human intervention; it’s all automated. Once the bills start stacking up, so does the anxiety until it becomes overwhelming.

You still have to take it one day at a time and one bill at a time. Prayers help regain a bit of focus so that it’s not so overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

While the economy is not wonderful and costs have risen on everything, hope needs to survive. I need to survive and flourish. My creative soul needs to prosper and begin to reignite my inner flame.

Oh, I’ve noticed some positives along the Journey last week. My health is good, the cancer is at bay, I’m being considered for some freelance gigs and, deep down, I persevere. I pray for patience and for others in need everyday. Perhaps we all will be blessed with good tidings soon. Hope so since my patience is running out!

Are you feeling like you’re deep in the pit of despair? Like there’s no tomorrow? Then pick up a pen or get to your computer and capture your feelings. Then call someone for help. Don’t mess around. Don’t do like me and wait. Times will not get better unless and until we act.

Contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline now. They can and will help you. You can also call your local psychotherapist or just a friend. Ok? Ok! {Note: Just to be clear, I have not felt the need to call the Crisis Lifeline but I’m sure others have. I do, however, enjoy a weekly visit with my psychotherapist.}

Now to scrape the sides as I inch top-ward, I need to crawl outta this pothole. I do see the top edge but, boy, are the sides slippery! Should have worn some gloves. No fear. I’ll get there. And when I do, I’ll rest a bit and continue my Journey. Before that I think I’ll encircle the pothole with that yellow crime scene tape. That’s just what it deserves!

To your health, my friends, and to our prosperity! God bless us, each and every one.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

It’s Fall . . . and Fall means Football!

My Journey Towards Home Is, Uh, My Home?

Below is an excerpt from a blog I receive by a gentleman named Christian Mihai, who, like Seth Godin, must blog everyday. Now I confess I don’t read thoroughly every blog Christian sends out but this time I did.

Maybe it’s because it has to do with one’s journey and home. Funny thing is I don’t know whether I believe it or not. Oh, I believe in some points Christian makes but, overall, I’m not sure. How ’bout you take a read and decide for yourself: Is your journey towards home, in fact, your home?

I’ve always thought of home as a safeguard for life’s ills. Maybe that’s because I was raised that way. I realize some folk were not. Christian thinks, evidently, the journey itself is your home. If that’s true, then currently in my life is a journey, a miserable place called home. I don’t like where I’m at nor what I’m experiencing.

What say you about your journey? What say you about home?

Here are some excerpts from Christian’s blog:

{We often think the point of being a human is to establish a self that is free from suffering, that is free from the outcome of pursuing happiness, love, success, fame, money…

The point of being human is not to travel to a place where everything is perfect. Instead, it is to understand that your struggle to establish a human self is inseparable from the self it creates.

In other words, your journey towards home is, in fact, your home.

Continue reading

When the Human Element is Removed

It’s a bitch! Nowadays most of us receive some sort of notification when we owe a bill. That notification usually comes by way of automation. No human puts their fingers to the keyboard. It’s quite impersonal.

Receiving a cancellation threat, a.k.a. notice, from a vendor only days after due date is automation insensitivity at its worst. On top of that, they’ll add a fee for just sending out the notice, and that’s not counting the late fee!

Additionally they cite extra reconnect fees if you don’t pay or don’t pay what they want. Hmmm, sounds like a form of extortion. I’ll be somewhat diplomatic here even when they aren’t; this is @#$%^&*! What’s really troubling is that all of their correspondence is electronic; nothing human or personal! Most of the time they have you over a barrel especially when it’s a vendor you can’t live without (electricity). I speak from personal experience.

Life is tough enough, and during these “recessionary” times, there are months when one can’t pay everything one owes. We hear that on the news every night. That’s assuming you’ve paid the electric bill so that you can get the newscast or the Internet bill so you can stream it. It’s a mindset of survival; you’re already being screwed by the economy, and Social Security doesn’t pay for all essentials.

It’s just lovely! What’s a well-meaning citizen to do (even after prayer)?

Borrowing? It’s demeaning and embarrassing, especially when asking close friends or family for dollars.

Financial institutions? Forget it. They just don’t care.

Non-profit food pantries and/or missions? God bless them! They only have so much money and they dispense it EXTREMELY judiciously. Now, while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not a given that you’ll receive anything when you apply. (I’m talking about $$ only, not food).

Interestingly, I received a phone call just yesterday (a holiday, Labor Day) from a vendor whose electronic notification I received recently. I renewed with them back in July after having been with them for several years. It surprised me to get the phone call and it went to voice mail. They did not leave a voice mail, not even an automated version.

Is it too much to ask for, in this case, to at least leave a message trying to convey their interest in keeping me as a customer and not just dismissing me for lack of payment? Answer: Yes, I think it is. In years past, albeit with another vendor, I did speak with customer service about a similar issue relating to my now deceased wife. The only thing that conversation resulted in was an increase in my blood pressure level (granted, I had to go up two levels of seniority to find someone who was actually, sincerely interested in helping me, and she did.)!

“Customer service” these days is more accurately stated as “customer dis-service”. However, their love of automation seems to be more reflected as “customer no-service.” Either way, the customer is getting screwed.

The mindset of these vendors seems to be in the gutter when it comes to customer treatment. They simply don’t give a damn. Plus, it’s astounding to me that in this tight, cash flow restrictive economy in which we live that there is not more leniency when it comes to paying bills.

This is one pothole along Joe’s Journey that will be most difficult to climb out of. We shall see this week. Yet, there are countless others who are experiencing the same fate. The saying, “join the club,” has a bittersweet meaning for me. This is one club in which I care not to have membership!

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

 

 

 

Remote Vs. Hybrid

Amongst a lot of other issues on my mind lately, this is one of them. It’s mostly because I’m looking for Remote work. It’s where my Journey takes me this week.

Recently, I read a post on LinkedIn about Remote work. Interestingly, I had previously decided to do a blog post about Hybrid v. Remote work. As such, and because I agree in general about most of what the LI post says, I thought I’d carry over some of those parts to the blog.

Remote work is nothing new. It’s been around for years. I believe it still has to do with a company’s culture as to if and how they adopt it. I think most are still struggling with it. That’s why I think the relatively new concept of Hybrid is slowly being tried as a compromise.

In its present form, Hybrid (3 days in office, 2 days remote) could stand improvement since a lot of folks prefer Remote (for some very legitimate reasons).

The LinkedIn post excerpts as edited by me (in quotes and italics) . . .

 

I saw a picture on LinkedIn and it got me thinking about something: In Office work.

The first thing I thought of were: Cubicles… and how much I don’t miss them. At this point there isn’t much I miss about being in an office.

I don’t miss 45+ minute daily commutes. Feeling rushed if an accident happens and you’re now stuck… (AMEN!!)

I don’t miss the office distractions. I don’t miss someone just walking up to my desk and asking me 5 million questions while I’m in the middle of a coaching, or trying to meet a deadline.

I don’t miss bright, sterile office environment. The smells an old crusty office brings… News Flash: slapping a new coat of paint on the walls and putting up a few inspirational quotes that your organization doesn’t even believe in isn’t working.

Being remote has been the best thing. I have increased my productivity! Less of my paycheck is spent on gas and food. And I like the way my house is decorated: no cliches, no weird moldy smells. If I have a migraine I can sit in the dark and work.

I enjoy, the privacy of a home office.
I enjoy the moments of venting to my wife and going back to work like nothing happened.
(I wish I had my late wife Pam back with me to vent when needed!)

I enjoy setting my pace to get my work done without distractions!

Remote does not equal laziness! Remote does not mean I am trying to hide anything. It simply means I have the option to work in an environment that allows me to flourish, be successful, and to be present.

 

Companies don’t seem to want to have employees or contractors work truly or mostly remote. Two days at home and three in office is usually their version of compromise for today’s new work scenario. Don’t know why they don’t believe in, say three days remote and two in office. Companies must get really nauseous when they hear of all remote work scenarios!

Personally, I don’t care for long commute times even in a so-called hybrid environment. Currently my situation prevents me from any commute times so that’s not even an option. That’s why I’m focusing on Remote opportunities.

How long the Remote v. In-Office debate will go on is anybody’s guess. Freelancers will do what’s in their best interest. So will companies. As such, the “compromising” standoff may continue for quite some time (‘till Hell freezes over?).

Thoughts?

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Feelings and Memories

Memories can be haunting. They can also be wonderful and rewarding. Some are bittersweet. That’s what I felt this past Saturday, August 20 when I remembered the passing of both my Dad and my wife, Pam.

It was August 20, 1978 when I lost my Dad and it was on the third Saturday of April, 2020 when Pam passed away. To say that I felt a double whammy this past Saturday would be an understatement. However, I had a long and constructive “talk” with both of them Saturday. I pray everyday that they guide me through the pitfalls I’m currently enduring.

I commemorate Dad’s passing every August 20 with a toast and a talk. To some extent, it refreshes my soul. As the years have gone by, my tears have lessened but my heart still hurts. Pam’s passing is still raw as it has only been a little over two years. I talk with her every day.

I’m sure to those of you who have lost someone close, you know precisely what I mean. You experience it everyday. Don’t forsake your memories. Deal with them as best you can. At times, they’re all you have. They’re especially difficult when you’re living alone. Photos can only go so far when reaching into the depths of one’s soul.

Cherish your feelings and your memories for they will be with you forever.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Why Am I Still Here?

I don’t know.

This post is a little different than what I usually post. Some may even find it dark. I’ve been feeling down for the past few weeks and really meloncoly lately. Most of my memories seem to be of long ago, during happier times.

Life is more difficult. Very few friends left. One younger colleague died recently unexpectedly while another longtime friend suffered a massive heart attack, though he’s okay now, resting at home.

Why am I still here?

I don’t know.

I feel I have limited resources compared to my younger self. Everything is more difficult to do especially when you don’t have transportation. Still not sure what I’m going to do about the car since I can’t stay marooned forever.

Tempted at times to just say F#%K it and cash in. Let others worry about life’s pitfalls. I’m tired. Tired of not having enough money to do things I want and/or need. Tired of looking for remote work appropriate and viable for me.

Fed up with weather and not being able to go anywhere.

Why am I still here?

I don’t know.

Now I’m not ready to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline, so don’t worry. However, I’m sure that some people are. Go ahead, they’re pros at this. Meanwhile, as I’ve previously said in these posts, try and focus on the better times, the fun times to help reignite your motivation. I also know that’s hard as hell to do at times. You, like me, need some “mini victories.”

The mini victories can help offset the day to day doldrums of today’s life and the misfortunes. Be selective but choose one or two things that will make you feel better. Try not to think long term; too much can change. Short term goals and thoughts can better be controlled and accomplished, and the simpler, the better.

Why am I still here?

I think I may know.

I still have too much left that I want to do.  I have a creative mind that needs exercising. I have a body that needs it, too. Though I don’t care much for being a widower as I still love my departed wife, I’d like another relationship. I want to renew some hobbies. I want to get my life back together again even though it may be a different kind of life.

I realize I’m very fortunate to still be here. I do, however, feel unnerved by all the friends I’ve lost and close calls I know about. That’s life with all its mysteries.

Why am I still here?

I still have a book I need to publish. I have stories I need to complete that go into that book. I need to write more often. I need to steer my life down paths on which I have yet to journey.

Recently, I’ve had a few “not give a damn days” and they are difficult from which to recover. I usually do, however; that is, until the next crisis comes along. How do you handle your “not give a damn days”? We all have them and suffer from them. Find a project, any project, to get your mind re-centered on the positive.

Why am I still here?

Because, like you, I still have contributions to make to society, to my own well-being. My soul needs re-nourishing. My Journey takes me onward. Sidestepping the Twilight Zone. For now.

 

Goodbye July. Hello, August

Believe it or not, Summer is almost gone. Alas, the HEAT remains with us. Damn! While the dog days of Summer still linger, the tropical storm season is on the horizon.

With it being the hottest Summer on record, exercising or walking is pretty much out of the question. Staying in under the fans is more of a viable solution. Since my car is indisposed, I’m still looking for remote work which means I have a pretty good case of cabin fever most days.

The exception to that was last Wednesday when I made a trip to MD Anderson here in Sugar Land for lab work and then a follow up call with my oncologist, Dr. Iyer. Seems I’m still good to go in my fighting off, and winning, my battle with Leukemia. Good news, indeed.

Doing everything I can, like you, to conserve energy and electricity and trying to live on a limited income makes for challenging times, to say the least. Do what you can even if you haven’t considered it before. I’m doing things to cut expenses that I’ve never dreamed of in the past.

Still, I have a daily battle with depression and frustration. The meds help but so does trying to maintain a positive mindset. Easier said than done!

As I touched on last week, focusing on what you can control will help one’s mindset. Meditation will also help your focus. Set aside some time each day to gather your thoughts and prioritize. We now have a fresh month to do just that, hot or not!

I would be remiss in this post if I did not recognize and acknowledge two global pioneers and trailblazers who have recently passed: Nichelle Nichols and Bill Russell. Nichelle, of course, played the iconic Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek while Bill was an 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics. I’m an avid Star Trek fan and tuned in every week to catch the latest episode. I grew up cheering for the Celtics and to look back at Mr. Russell’s career with the team simply has me in awe.

You both will be missed not only for your contributions on the screen and court but also for society and race relations. Class acts both!

Yuck! Never lick ice cream off a hot pavement. Blaah!


Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Ideasnmoreblog, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.