Personal Update – November 8, 2018

Surrender isn’t the same as giving up but it sure can feel like it.

The insurance adjusting never paid off. Thousands of dollars, 6 licenses, 32 certifications, over 600 hours of training, and I never worked a single job. Some things just aren’t meant to be.

I’ll take what I learned there and try to apply it somewhere else but in order for me to do it right and to continue pursuing my goals to turn to writing full time I need to be able to support myself and can’t do that alone on the substandard wages I made in Mobile.

So I came back North to finish out the season hoping I could make enough before freeze to at least pay off the debt I created trying to change careers and bank some to see me through winter, but it’s not happening. Freeze came early. The season is pretty much over.

Unless something unexpected happens I have no choice but to commit to driving truck for the full season next year. The man I am working for in Montana is providing a comfortable trailer rent-free as part of my pay so saving money will be easier.

I’ll head back to Mobile for a few months when I know for sure the work season is over and return in the spring.

I was optimistic and hopeful when I moved to Mobile last year and while I’m not giving up on my goals I can’t help feeling like I failed even if it is just a temporary setback.

But that’s just a feeling and I am neither defined nor controlled by it.

I will make the best of what I am given and keep moving forward no matter what.

Winter

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I was not dead then
I gathered life
Like wheat at harvest
I shed the seeds
That flourished and bloomed
I breathed the sweet air we all share
Bathed in the life giving glow of the Moon
Swam in the endless sea of light
Traveled months of darkness without fear
Sensing all I was a part of
With awe and gratitude
No, I was not dead then
But I am so much more alive
Now

Dreams – 10/26/2016

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So long
So long ago now
So long ago I hardly remember
I stood in the tall grass
For the first time
With disbelief
That the world was so large
So large that I could barely see my toes above the sharp blades
That housed the hopping
Chirping
Crawling
Flying
Life
So large that it could encompass my every dream
Dreams that altered space and time
Dreams that excited me
Thrilled me
Scared me
Now the world is small
Infinitesimal in comparison
And nearly meaningless
Except for those dreams
Of so long ago

 


 

Note: I think I will rewrite the end. I was probably not feeling terribly optimistic at that time. If written now it might end something like:

The world is smaller now

Almost infitesimal

Yet filled with meaning

The dreams of so long ago

Only began to reach

 

Or something like that 🙂

 

Crossroads Moon – October 24, 2018

Welcome to the season of indecision. Buckle up, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride that will either end with nausea and bruises or an elated arm pumping “YESS!!”

It’s also going to be a long ride that won’t officially roll to a stop until the total lunar eclipse on January 21, 2019.

That big box you see in the image is called a Grand Cross and it represents exactly what you might think, a crossroads. In this case, a crossroads of influence.

Think of the image as a flat surface, like a plate, only it’s loaded with pits and peaks and gravity defying turns, and at the outer edge of each direction is a magnet.

Now imagine that you are a steel ball resting somewhere near the middle but already polarized to a particular direction because of recent events and your overall emotional and psychological state prior to this conjunction.

If you were to enter the crossroads unaware or uncaring of the influences there’s a good chance you will gravitate further into that field. Especially if you are already drifting toward those fields where the magnetism is a little stronger. That’s the blue line.

Making sense? I hope so because it’s the best analogy I’ve come up with.

Here’s the cool part: Influence does not equal destiny.

Just because we may feel naturally inclined to roll in a particular direction does not mean we must roll in that direction. We always have a choice and when we make that choice, either consciously or unconsciously, we send energy to one of those magnets and because a charged magnet has a stronger attraction we will invariably be drawn towards it.

This is always true, not just now, and it is our best method of creating desired change. Some refer to it as the Law of Attraction.

So, Mr James, why the big explanation? What’s this buildup all about?

I’m glad you asked.

The magnets here, which mostly deal with love and relationships under this phase of the moon, represent polar opposites of each other: security/insecurity, commitment/abandonment, independence/interdependence, stability/instability.

The natural flow in this case, the position of the charged magnets, is at abandonment and instability. Yay!

Why “Yay?” Because this creates a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow and all I have to do is make a choice and commit to it. Fooo!

Why “Fooo?” Because it will be more difficult to commit during this time.

Therein, as Shakespeare says, lay the rub.

It’s likely that in the coming weeks we will feel both the desire to be in a lasting relationship and the impulse to walk away from the ones we already have. It’s also likely that we will be more inclined to hedonistic urges and (good news/bad news follows) suddenly find ourselves facing the possibility of entering a new relationship, with someone younger or less mature.

If you are single that’s sort of good news. If you are not single it’s going to be a challenge. Either way, it is unlikely to last because those who find themselves in that situation will be drawn there by the negative aspects of those polarities.

But wait! There’s more!

Because this crossroads will basically reverse itself in January the time in between could be a hell of a ride and you may find yourself pinballing back and forth across that plate until you are so beat up you throw in the towel.

Here’s what I suggest:

1. Make a choice. Stick to it. Everything you do is a choice. If you choose to ignore your choices and just go with the flow that is still a choice. So choose wisely and choose now and then focus only on that choice. Indecision is your enemy.

2. Be aware. Going through these next months with eyes closed will only make the ride worse. It’s always best to know what’s coming up and that requires we keep our eyes open and alert.

3. Be excited and unafraid. Getting onto a roller coaster with apprehension and fear will take all the fun out of it and this really could be the best ride you’ve ever been on.

Remember, as with all full moons this is a beginning, not an end.

So strap in close to your partner and enjoy the ride.

Hands up!!

Why I rewrote the narrative of my life

The following excerpt is from my latest contribution to Elephant Journal.

When I decided to change my life, the goal was not only to change who I am today but to change who I was yesterday.

I know that sounds a little sketchy, but follow me for a minute.

One of my brothers and I once had an argument about what color a particular car my dad owned was. I said red, he said blue.

That’s a pretty big difference and yet…


You’d be doing me a favor if you finished reading the article HERE.

Home

I left Mobile with a smile late in the afternoon yesterday after a last reshuffling of plans and unpacking/repacking of the car.

The original plan, based entirely on cautious habits acquired over the years, was to bring everything with me in case things didn’t work out.

I’ve gotten very good at eliminating all but the essentials. When I left ND to come here I left a fully furnished, down to silverware, toilet paper, and made bed house behind.

This time something had changed. I found myself wanting to load up everything and that wasn’t going to happen because it seems that when the wiring harness in my SUV melted down a few months ago it took out my trailer lights and I wasn’t about to risk another meltdown by attempting to repair them, which meant I couldn’t rent a U-Haul.

There was no way I was going to take everything with and that bothered me.

It wasn’t until a friend stopped by to send me off with a hug and a smoothie (Thank you, Professor!) and began pointing out things that I shouldn’t bother bringing with that it all began to make sense.

I was attempting to pack up something that is impossible to get into a box or a bag and I could spend the rest of my life trying to squeeze it into every available space I could find and never get it all in because its is larger than a $20 blanket or a rug I picked up from the curb:

Home.

I’ve spent so many years without a home that I forgot what it felt like. I even developed this inner philosophy that said wherever I go I’m always going home because the only sense of home I had for so long was the one I carried with me.

Over the last dozen years every time I’ve headed off to a job in the oilfield it eventually lead to another. Then another. And another. Until I ended up alone and isolated.

These things I’ve felt over the last week, the things that have kept me up at night, that frustrated and irritated, aren’t there because I feel alone.

I am not alone.

I have made strong friendships and have the support of people who love me as much as I love them.

The feeling isn’t that of being alone but of becoming alone, again, which is something that scares the crap out of me and keeps me up at night.

I had forgotten what it feels like to belong somewhere. I never would have guessed that place would be Mobile, Alabama and maybe it won’t be forever, but there it is, home.

So I unpacked everything and moved it all to the attic of the mansion I rent rooms in, much to the delight of the owners who were so honestly relieved and happy to know I would be coming back that they hurried to help me.

I left later in the day than I wanted but made it to Missouri around midnight.

When I looked in the back of my little Rodeo I saw that I brought so few things I had room to arrange a makeshift bed. I walked Brown Dog, the best traveling partner I could ever ask for, offered gratitude to the powers that be, shifted a few things to make enough room to stretch out in, then lay down and slept better than I have in days.

Storm


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There was I time I thought of myself as “Stormchaser”. It was a label I assigned to offset the difficult times that seemed to follow me as a way of reversing the odds.

I saw myself as not only actively engaging those hard times but as pursuing them in a “if life is suffering and suffering brings enlightenment then, for fucks sack, bring it on” mentality.

I was wrong.

Man, was I wrong.

The hard times pursued like a predator on blood scent and I, tough as the wind, really was bleeding, profusely.

I’ve said before how I’m only now rubbing the sleep from my eyes, but I look back with these blurry eyes and see that young man and rather than think “whaddadouche”, my favorite quote when it comes to ignorance, I can say “good start.”

It really was.

Since then I’ve learned that Life is more often concerned with giving lessons than with leading me to them and that the path of life is much more flexible than I thought.

She is the train
I am the rail
Or more like the spike
Or the ground it’s driven into
Or maybe just a house it passes by
Sleeping

That’s my attempt at Zen poetry, which I’m okay with, in a Zen sort of way.

My point is this:

I have felt the storm.
I feel it now inside me.
I’m not sure it ever goes away.
I’m okay with that.

That, by the way, has nothing at all to do with either Zen philosophy or poetry, it’s who I am.

So right about now you’re probably asking yourself what the hell this post is about so I’ll sum it up in six words …

 

We find what we are looking for.

 

… okay, seven words.

 


 

Audio: “Stormchaser” by J M Greff

 

Life

Almost a year ago I chose to move to Mobile to pursue the possibility of a committed relationship.

I learned quite a bit about love from that relationship and from the bond that remains.

Almost three months ago I made a decision to stay in Mobile to accelerate my training as an independent insurance adjuster instead of heading back North to earn enough money to carry me through until I get deployed.

In those three months I have learned ten times as much as I’ve learned in the last year and I have gained numerous certifications, but I have not worked a single day.

As I write this I lay alone in bed in the rooms I pay for through barter. I don’t know when, or even if, I will get deployed. I don’t know if my car, which I repaired with tape and a prayer after it started on fire due to faulty wiring, will last another month, or a week, or even through tomorrow. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep gas in it. I don’t know if I will ever reach my next goal of turning of writing full time.

While these things and more can and certainly do cause me some stress they do not represent my future nor do they rule how I feel today.

Those decisions I made, to move here and to stay, were based on hope and faith and love and a strong desire and the will to create positive change in my life and because of this they were the right choices regardless of how they turn out.

So all those things I don’t know are really no different than not knowing if I will get struck by a meteor tomorrow, and I don’t see any reason to worry about it.

If I could share just one thing I’ve learned in life it would be this:

I am not defined by the things that happen to me but by how I respond to them.

Am I stressed? Yes.

Will I get through this? Absolutely.

Is this my life? Well, yes. It is.

Am I grateful? Always.

 

 

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Who am I?

The Buddha was once asked if he was a god to which he replied “No.”
“Are you a wizard, then?”
“No.”
“Well, are you a man?”
“No” he said.
Confused by his answers they asked “So, what are you?”
The Buddha said, “I am awake.”

I can not claim that I am fully awake yet. I still lay in this bed I made and rub my eyes, trying to make sense of the world around me, but that simple answer, for me, begins to define the answer to my own question:

Who am I?

Over the last few years finding that answer has felt somewhat more critical because of the things I am trying to accomplish in life, and while I admit that I feel like I am no closer than when I began, I have begun to understand that it matters less than I originally thought.

Instead, I am finding that it is who I believe myself to be that is more important and that the expression of those beliefs is an expression of the things inside me that I give life to.

Those beliefs come from experiences and those experiences are interpreted through my previous experiences.

If I believe myself to be compassionate it is because I believe compassion to be of more value than indifference and yet indifference, selective and focused to achieve a positive goal, can have value as well. Much like not caring if I smashed my thumb with a hammer because that happens from time to time and does not mean I deserved it or am a horrible carpenter.

However, I would never describe myself as indifferent. In this way my views of Self are presented as more than expressions of those things I believe myself to be, they are expressions of who I hope to be, who I want to be.

So, who am I?

It really is simple. Much simpler than the explanation.

I am the sum and expression of my experiences, I am who I want to be, and I am who I believe myself to be.

I believe that I am on the right path. Making the right decisions despite their outcome because those decisions are based on faith and hope and love. I believe that everything will be okay. That my life will be everything I want it to be. All of those things require that I believe I am already the person I want to be regardless of how transitional my life may appear because that is how I become that person.

I may not be awake, but I am waking up.

——

Image: “Awake” by Martina Stipen

 

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Atlantis

The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle my life looks like most of the time are falling gently, and hurriedly, into place.

My trip North was cancelled at the last minute when the Universe stepped in and loudly said “NO!” in the form or local opportunities I could not pass on and while this caused (and still is causing) some financial strain it was the right thing to do.

At this moment I am boiling in my air conditioner free farm truck at a blazing 60 miles per hour with two of four windows open on my way to Atlanta. I’d open all four but two of them don’t respond to my wishes. I may have a talk with them later.

I will be attending a State Farm certification class and taking the exam on Friday. This alone was worth staying for but when I get back I have a day off before going to a FEMA flood certification class. With these two major certifications along with the score of other training, certifications, and licenses I have picked up over the last several months, I place myself a head above the very large crowd of people vying for positions as claims adjusters.

Maybe I haven’t mentioned my plan 🙂

I am done driving truck. Period. My goal is to turn to writing full time but trucking ties up too much of my time. So will adjusting when I’m in the field. But I’m only going to do catastroph work. Helping people rebuild their homes and their lives doesn’t disagree with me at all and the pay is good enough that I won’t need to work all year. The rest of the time I will devote to furthering my writing with the end goal of this stage as becoming a full time writer.

This stage. I don’t know what comes after this but I’m looking forward to finding out.

So here’s me, boiling in my car with 2/60 AC (2 windows down/60mph) and staticky music playing through ancient speakers and instead of wondering if my car will actually make the trip or if I’ll have money to cover rent or food or being worried that none of this will pay off or about the loose ends and things I have in storage in North Dakota, I am grateful simply for the opportunity and the fact that the Divine speaks so clearly to me and has never once let me down or led me astray.

The rest is just life.

——————

Note: Please don’t be James, don’t blog and drive.