The secret your employer won’t tell you (but I will)

We all have to work in some capacity. Income enables us to pay rent, put gas in the car, buy food, spend silly amounts of money on coffee… Most of us go somewhere to work, or we produce something that someone else consumes. Regardless of how you obtain your income we all have customers/employers. These are the people who pay us for our services. Now there is a whole gambit of work scenarios out there now.

Many of your Gen X friends like me marvel at the new “gig” economy. We didn’t have those options when we were 20-30 and it’s really opened up a lot of possibilities for everyone. Out there of course are all sorts of competition, we now have a global pool of people whom we can get what we want from. Outsourcing is a thing, and if you have a good Wi-Fi connection you can work from anywhere in the world.

A lot of positives I know, it’s a great time to be working (covid aside of course). Many of us though suffer from anxiety and work, or more specifically, how we obtain income can be one of our greatest sources of grief. Many of us worry daily about performance, availability of work, pay scale, coworkers on and on and on. It can really wear you down and in some cases cause serious complications to your life emotionally.

There is a secret though, something that is never on a job description. You don’t hear it in your reviews, companies don’t normally profess it.

Am I contagious?
Really? They need me? Is that why they give me money?

What is it? THEY NEED YOU

Simple right? Try convincing yourself of it though. All of these companies and individuals who want your time/expertise/product need you. Sure maybe someone else can produce the outcome you can, but then they would just need them. You are highly valuable, that Accounts Payable job at XYZ company? Why are the advertising it? Because they don’t want to do it and they need you (or someone like you) to do it.

I know this all sounds rather simplistic and it is. The problem is, the person producing the outcome other people want (that person is you) is rarely, if ever told how much they are needed. Imagine you got that AP job did it for a year and then said “I’m done” and stopped doing it? It would still need to be done, so who does it? There are no practice squad teams out there, someone else will have to be brought in (and paid) to do what you did.

They need you, and that is your leverage position. If nothing else this should give you a sense of value that, while you aren’t being told regularly, clearly exists. That job you’re doing needs to be done by someone. Don’t ever forget that your value as a person is well beyond the measure of what people say to you. Exampled above, your value is also intrinsic in the notion that you are needed to produce a desired outcome.

That’s huge and as individuals with Anxiety we should be reminding ourselves regularly of just how valuable we are.

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Anxiety Apps

I spend a lot of time on my phone now from work, I also have two 20 something kids who don’t really understand how to actually make a call (they do I’m just being a chromogen) and everything they are doing now, it seems is on the phone. I don’t have many apps on my phone, as a gamer I spend leisure time on my PC. I suppose it’s generational, as a member of Gen X we still remember rotary phones, pay phones on the street and calling 411 information. Even though my phone is an extremely powerful computer in its own right I just don’t look at it that way.

That’s me. You? Maybe you do a lot on your phone, maybe it’s your primary means of viewing the outside world. I found a great article here on a bunch of apps you can get that help with anxiety.

From the article: “Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems, affecting more than 40 million US adults each year, and COVID-19 is only making matters worse. There are dozens of anxiety-related apps available, offering options that range from guided meditation to the digital equivalent of a fidget cube, but all that choice can be, well, anxiety-inducing. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a guide we hope will make your selection process a little more relaxing.”

Anxiety is common, for some of us its crippling.

The article then goes on to give a very extensive list of apps for all types of anxiety issues. I was honestly shocked at the number of them out there, apps for marginalized communities to organizers, to meditation apps. It’s a great resource and who knows maybe one of these would work for you.

As individuals who suffer from anxiety, it is paramount to be in the headspace that allows yourself the ability to ask for help. Maybe an App is the first step for you to break that ice? I don’t know your personal situation. I do know that any tool we can use that helps us deal with and get through the day to slog of anxiety is a positive.

Maybe one of these apps fits you, maybe it doesn’t, you won’t know until you try so check out a few and let me know what you think!

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The Wisdom of Tolkien .. Again..

From time to time on this blog we visit a quote from one of my favorite authors Tolkien. For many of us he is the god father of modern fantasy writing (along with Jules Verne). Tolkien gave us a lot of pearls of wisdom from his works, let’s discuss the one below.

“For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, 

What does he mean here? Simply put, those of you who have obtained wisdom or have mentors in your life cannot always rely exclusively on their view. Even those of us with a vast amount of experience cannot possibly foresee all possible outcomes. Tolkien is giving us a very important reminder here that you cannot rely exclusively on the wisdom of others.

Sometimes in life things happen that we don’t anticipate no matter how well we prepared for it. Those are often the most unforgiving and brutal of circumstances and they punish your spirit and soul. The key here is acceptance. Acceptance of the notion that life/fate is out of your hands. Things happen and it’s not always how well you are prepared for what might occur but rather how well you recover from the things you didn’t see coming.

One of the hardest things we have to deal with as humans and as humans with anxiety is picking ourselves up after a major calamity. Tolkien gives us a warning here, he is telling us that even the very wise cannot see all ends. Remember, live isn’t about how many hits you can take, it’s about how you get up and carry on after being knocked down.

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Back to Basics – Get a routine to fight Anxiety

Anxiety sucks, we can all agree on that. The problem in diagnosis and treating anxiety is it’s unique to each individual and that individual’s experience. As an example, driving in the snow causes me to have anxiety, likely you too, but why? The fear of crashing? The fear of getting trapped? A prior accident? We all have different issues and things can get out of hand very quickly.

One of the things we all can do to fight Anxiety is to create or recreate routines. Covid lock downs have created havoc for tens of millions. For those of us with Anxiety it’s even worse because those routines we clung to pre covid were shattered. Sure it wasn’t perfect but routines gave us some semblance of order and some semblance of control which goes a long way to fighting anxiety.

I haven’t worked at my office for nearly a year, it’s disrupted many of my mini routines and there are times when I am at home I feel lost. I get anxious because I have less structure, less focus, less interaction. It’s been challenging for me personally and I know there are many other people out there in a similar situation. Below are a few things you can do to establish (or Reestablish) routines.

Am I contagious?
This guy and his lists….
  • Go to bed and wake up the same time every day. This one is critical because it creates the conditions which your body can be more regulated, particularly your mind.
  • Workout the same 3 days every week. Mon,Wed,Fri or Tues,Thurs,Sat. Whatever it is you do, yoga, stretching, lifting, running, walking get a consistent routine for specific days.
  • 30 minutes a week work on your personal finances. The same time and day every week. My “personal finance day” is Sunday morning. I get coffee and from 10-11AM I look at my investments, balance the check book, pay bills, and look at my budget.
  • Friends & Family time. This one is harder but every week plan a call, plan a walk, plan a meal whatever it is plan something with a friend or family member not spouse and kids but siblings, parents, good friends.
  • Family night. This is the one for kids and spouses. A Netflix night, a movie, a game, a pizza whatever it is at least once a week (preferably every day) you plan one night with your immediate family, like a date night. Ours is Friday night, we get pizza and play cards or board games, and yes that includes occasionally boyfriends and girlfriends.
  • Personal hygiene routine. Now this one might be self evident but since we have all been trapped at home many of us have let this slip. Sure we all still clean up but are you waking, showering, face cream, shave, brush, mouth wash, grooming etc in the same manner as you were before? How about bed time? Get back into a consistent hygiene routine everyday no days off.

These may sound obvious or they may seem simple, they should be and are. The point is routine and structure give us a great tool to combat anxiety. Without it your mind gets to create whatever reality it wants and if your imagination is like mine that might not be the best outcome. Routines require us to focus on the task, and be present. They also create positive outcomes from the effort and that has the residual effect of making you feel better about yourself.

Get back to basics and get your routines (or several) back on track to fight back against Anxiety!

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Dressing to feel good !

How much are you worth to an employer?

  • Get Paid What You’re Worth and Spend Less Than You Earn.

Okay but what am I worth? First, I think you are priceless but I’m not hiring you. One of the hardest things to do when determining your worth is gauging the value of your experience. I’ve seen it many times as a former manager, people with great educations and no experience over price themselves, people with great experience and average education under price.

So, a few tips for you when determining your worth in the workforce.

  1. Research your field: There are many, many websites that aggregate pay for specific professions. These will help you get a general idea of what type of pay you can command.
  2. The cost of living where you work, might be different then where you live: If you live in the city and are working in the burbs, chances are your pay isn’t commensurate with the cost of living you are experiencing.
  3. Experience, and specific targeted experience, increases your value: If you are an RN with a lot of Phlebotomy experience and you are going for a pediatric position, your experience won’t be as valuable. TLDR: Stay in your lane if you want to maximize your earning potential.
  4. You must gauge their demand: Has this job been open for a while? Do they seem “desperate”? that affects your value tremendously.

Being in the workforce is a bastion of anxiety for all sorts of reasons but feeling like you’re not getting paid what you are worth is horrible. It’s up to you to determine your value, taking a job just to have a job is okay but you won’t be happy. Remember this is a financial transaction and you must remove yourself personally (as best you can) from the transaction.

Experience is priceless.

They want to pay you the least amount possible for the most work, you want to work the least amount as possible for the most pay. The answer is always somewhere in the middle but take the time BEFORE you get the offer to determine how much you are willing to work for.

If you know going in that you will not do this job for any less than 60K a year, you’re in control of your worth. So many times, we leave it up to the company to “make an offer” then we are in reaction mode. Take some time before hand to determine what the job should be paying, and this will help relieve a lot of anxiety.

Remember many of us work for money to do the things we love to do outside of work. A precious few of us get to work at something we really love. If you are the later, I cant help you as you’ve nailed it already. If you are the former, take the time to formulate a value for your work before getting into a serious job search. This is going to help you straight out of the gate with the new job anxiety, you will be working for a wage you determined was fair.

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Helping kids with Anxiety

We don’t have to rehash what 2020 was, it was a mess for everyone. Yes, including children. Imagine explaining to a 7-year-old that they can’t see their friends because they might get sick? School? No. Sports? No. Girl Scouts? No. Kids are very resilient often more so then adults, it’s one of the benefits of youth you don’t have enough experience in the world to understand how bad things really are.

I found a good article here That discusses some of the issues for kids that are going through serious issues like cancer treatments. These tools can be used to assuage children during any time of stress. Some of the examples in the article are extreme but in context these toys can help during the pandemic too!

From the article: “We want to create technology with empathy, which can help people who are experiencing really difficult health challenges lead more delightful, joyful lives,” Horowitz says. “We see Sproutel as a small but mighty change agent.”

Social robots aren’t new: For years, kids and adults have befriended dinosaurs, dogs, knights and humanoids with smart features and lifelike movements. Bringing these robots into medicine has real limitations, as they can’t cure cancer or take the sting out of an injection – yet.”

Spending time with your kids is the best anxiety relief.

Again this article is written within the context of serious medical conditions. I am extrapolating out the premise to be something that could be helpful in nearly any anxiety situation for children. The point here is we have MORE tools to help people with anxiety, in this case kids. The toys are actually brilliant because it gives the child an outlet to experience their anxiety with a toy in a similar situation.

One of the examples in the article was a child who had to have shots regularly and was able to practice with their robot toy. How about a toy that can empathize with a child who can’t go to school or see her friends? There are talking toys, we could do that. Maybe I am grasping at straws but one day maybe I will actually get one!

The point is more options for anxiety treatments at any age = a positive outcome.

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Hobbit Hole

The Wisdom of Tolkien…again…

“How do you move on? You move on when your heart finally understands that there is no turning back.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

If you are new here then you might not understand the “again” part of the title. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors from childhood. Regularly I feature on of his quips, or a phrase from one of his novels and apply it to the present. Here we have some direct, and extremely effective advice from Tolkien.

His answer to the question is prophetic as it’s so hard to get to that point but for any of us who have been there know, once you do get there it just clicks. Living in the past isn’t a horrible use of your time. It allows you to reflect on what transpired and to understand how to prevent, or emulate the outcome.

Matter of the heart? I am no expert although I’ve had my share of relationships. When you do realize that it’s truly “over” it can be one of the saddest days of your life. It’s also an opportunity, a chance to start a new journey. To put it bluntly, if you don’t let go of the past you will never move forward.

The heart is always the last to follow. When we look back its easy to cherry pick specific instances of “X” to justify how we feel currently. Move on, it’s time. You’re ready, they are ready (or already have). Your heart will thank you for it.

Looking for more Wisdom from Tolkien? Click here

Am I contagious?

I’m at a loss today.

You know sometimes I run out of things to post. I know bloggers are supposed to NEVER have this problem right? LOL. Believe it or not I write all my posts sometimes the same day, I rarely if ever have posts completed way in advance and ready to go. That’s just how I blog, I see things that interest me and I write about them. The last few weeks I have been very busy at work, along with the normal February crush (3 birthdays including my own + valentine’s day) so I have had a lot to do.

What does that mean for today? It means I don’t have much that’s substantive, lol. Although below are 3 random facts about the 1980’s, the greatest decade of all time, lol.

  • July 29th 1981 – Over 1 Billion people all over the world tuned into the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. It was broadcast on all the major TV channels, and yes I watched it!
  • In 1984 A loaf of bread was ($.93,) a pound of bacon was ($1.55,) and a dozen eggs was ($.58) you could feed your family breakfast for $4.06. Less than most coffees at Starbucks in 2021
  • In 1988 the world population surpassed 5 billion and many at the time suggested we were at our environmental limits in context of human impact. In 2021 we are now near or over 7 billion.

That’s all I got today, lol. Thanks so much for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it.

Beyond the Trees

Your one thing

Have you done it yet? Have you figured out what makes you happy? I don’t mean the standard “family, kids, my home” everyone says that. I mean you, what makes you happy? Is it miniature golf? Do you collect old pocket watches? Do you wear 1950’s clothing?

Something outside of the norm makes you happy. Me? I like to game. I know “he’s a 50-year-old gamer, GG boomer” I’ve heard it all. Yet, I have been gaming since 1983, longer than most gamers have been alive. Is it a waste of time? Not for me. Is it a silly hobby? Not for me. See I have something outside the norm that makes me happy. I know what it is, I am comfortable with it and most importantly I make time for it.

It’s time to go out on a limb and find your one thing.

How about you? What’s your one odd thing? The time is now, stop screwing around attempting to measure up to whatever the societal norm is today. Everyone has that one thing they think is cool that they keep within themselves and don’t reveal to others. It’s time to let it out and start investing time into it.

No one else is going to come along and do this for you. You have to be honest with yourself, no matter what this “thing” is. Maybe it’s a kink? Maybe it’s wearing horrible shoes? Stop hiding, let yourself out. Let yourself have fun, let yourself do that one thing more. Some examples:

  1. A coworker of mine breeds snakes
  2. My niece every year plays a character at a medieval renaissance fair
  3. My wife does stain glass
  4. My friend Shane collects Wrestling Memorabilia
  5. The football coach in my town is part of a Mazda Miata owners club

Time is slipping away, what’s your one thing?

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Anxiety is natural, until it becomes unnatural

I know the title isn’t great but I saw this article and I thought it was presented well albeit pretty simplistic. Meaning that those of us dealing with Anxiety issues know when it becomes an unnatural state. Its instinctual and while we all have various degrees of states of mind when you are consumed by a feeling that is an unnatural state. You may not have the tools to identify the degree’s, perhaps you are like this all the time.

The quote below from the article here is stated obviously but sometimes we need simple reminders.

Feeling apprehensive about something stressful—even a good thing, like a promotion or wedding—is a sign that your inherent survival mechanism is working as expected. “Some anxiety is helpful and necessary to motivate us to act; for example, if you need to start an assignment that is due tomorrow or if you are in the woods and see a bear,” Holly Valerio, M.D., clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety in the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, tells SELF.

Surviving 2020 & covid
One Day at a time.

A degree of anxiety IS NORMAL. You shouldn’t rely on others to justify how you feel but I’m not going to lie it is nice to see others say it from time to time. The article is a good read for people who are on the cusp, meaning those of us out there who aren’t sure if their anxiety levels are normal or not. Again to be clear, what’s normal for me might not be normal for you. So you are traveling to a new city and you need to drive to a location? Yes you should be anxious that would be a normal response.

When you get home and you have to drive somewhere on roads you have traveled hundreds of times should you be anxious? Maybe, but it’s a matter of degree, do you feel the same way you did when you traveled to the new city? If you do you should really take a few minutes and ask yourself why.

Anxiety is natural, your body is functioning correctly when you are in an unfamiliar situation and you feel anxious about what might happen. When these kinds of feelings begin to evade your everyday functions you need to be honest with yourself and identify why this might be happening. There often isn’t one singular event that we can track back to that was the trigger for anxiety. Most of us have anxiety from a cumulative effect of multiple events over time.

Your trigger isn’t my trigger, and your trigger doesn’t have a time stamp. What you did today might trigger you tomorrow and so on. Having a disorder does require a medical diagnosis. A blogger can’t tell you if you do or do not have one, I can only share with you my journey and what I am finding along the way. Your journey is unique to you but if you find more and more that anxiety is creeping into your life see a professional and get ahead of the problem.

Remember Anxiety affects millions of people, you are not alone.

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