A Blogger De-Perched

Where does the blogger stand in the world when there’s constant motion and conversation going on?

I used to think that each of us were entitled to our own little billboard. A little bit of real estate for us to paint on our canvas however we choose. I thought we’d be high above our crowds, hoping they’d look up at us as they scurry about during their days and nights in the real world, seeking some sort of connection to a beacon of ideas put out by us, the bloggers.

This was the fashion of blogging I felt obligated to do and promote for a long time.

Now I’m not so sure anymore. Lately I feel like I’m writing for the few, while accepting most won’t relate, read or respond to what I have to say. I’m fine with this. I’ve taken to the idea that I’m basically among the many, hustling about my days and nights on a quest for something. I’m on the ground level with everyone else, experimenting, ignoring most of the messages being shone down upon me from above. I’m relieved to not feel the need to be above the crowd anymore. This shift in my perspective came suddenly too. It’s quite strange.

Yet, I still shuffle through the streets with the many, I’m still a blogger and I wear my message and yearning for connection not on my sleeve, not on a billboard, but hopefully more like a piece of paper taped to my back that hopefully doesn’t read “kick me.”

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Just wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you to everyone who reads my blogs, comments, doesn’t comment or maybe just browses for ideas to critique social media with. I don’t always know where I’m going with this or what I want to prove, but I thank you for giving me a place to try… and yes, I feel like I’m only a blogger if my readers let me be.

One Way Ticket

Next week, I’m continuing to take advantage of my current situation of being (f)unemployed by planning a trip up the Northeast starting in New York City. Originally I wanted to get home to see my family at some point, but I thought about how there’s no more reason for me to be in Madison than there is anywhere else, that I should just plan a low-budget path up the northern East Coast until I make it through to see family in both Massachusetts and Maine.

And yeah… I only purchased a one way ticket because I wasn’t sure when I’d be back from my visits and I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself to leave.

Open ended… that’s when I’m at my best.

Think we might cross paths? Let me know. I’m happy to stay an extra day or two here or there. Leave a comment or shoot me an email james.r.moreau [at] gmail

I land in NYC next Tuesday, March 30th.

Nose To The Grindstone, Head To The Stars… And Then You’ve Gotta Do Something

The question of “why did I wait until now to start really living” keeps running through my head. Every day since coming back from Colorado, I’ve been making checklists, something I have not done in over a year and have actively taken steps every day to knocking off a few important items on that list that will make my life a little more enjoyable. I see this as the key; work plus actionable day dreaming.

A certain level of hard work is required to do anything well in life. There have been times where I’ve passed up dreaming entirely for the prospect of buying a house or paying down my student loans while working a job I didn’t care much for. I took for granted that I could just keep working, scrimping my expenses and trying to make something happen.

Nothing has really happened financially for me over the last 4 years since graduating college. In reality, I’ve made some locational progress (or regress, depending which way you look at it), but zero progress on saving money, gaining traction in my student loan battle or really having the freedom to live the life I feel I’d be accustomed to by now.

Is that lifestyle worth fighting for? Do I relocate to another state to take another mediocre job where I’m probably going to be under payed and over-charged for rent? No, I’m not going to fight for the right to lead that sort of life.

I’d rather work my ass off to do something a little more exciting and exotic. Something that’s more me. I feel like the one thing that no one can take away from me is that I’ve always been a dreamer and I’ve always worked hard when crunch time came. At this point, I’m self-righteous enough to say I deserve a break. I deserve this chance to go abroad and teach English.

Luckily the financial aspect of teaching English abroad make sense, particularly in South Korea. It’s one of the few places in the world with a high enough shortage in ESL teachers that they’re giving really great benefits to their teachers in exchange for year long commitments. From what I’ve heard from people who’ve done this type of program or who are doing it now, it’s not unreasonable to pay down LOTS of student debt while living a nice existence over there. Add on that I’ll be learning a second language and hopefully traveling a lot… I really can’t see passing up this chance.

Plus I’ve got crazy support from my family and friends that really matter to me. That’s so huge… I probably would have gone down this path no matter what, but knowing I’ve got people who care and have my back… few things can beat that.

No more working hard for the sake of working hard. If you’ve got something you want for yourself or for someone else, work hard for that. Otherwise, take the path that pleases you.

Yeah, I said it! 🙂

Updates

A few updates:

  • I’m sending Jess @OpenlyBalanced the book I did a post on last week called “Jack’s Notebook.” Didn’t get too many comments on that post, which is fine, but Jess seems like she’ll get good use out of it, so I’m glad.
  • I set up a Tumblr account for things that I want to share, but lack context or a lot of explanation behind them. I post videos on here from time to time and I want people to have a place to go and view snippets of what I find entertaining or moving without the excess baggage of my pontification. The URL is: http://lackingcontext.tumblr.com/
  • All necessary actions on my end have been set in motion to complete my application to teach ESL in South Korea. I’m getting amazing support and encouragement from friends and family, which makes it easier. Looks like it’s going to happen… as for the exact date, I don’t know yet. Probably mid-June or early July at the latest.

Funemployment has been very good to me thus far. I’m drumming up valuable perspective that I would have never gotten before. I’m getting more grateful for this every day.

Life Is Not A Rubix Cube

Symmetry is interesting to me, however it exists in numerous examples in nature and my own life and the clean cut ways of having your shit together in culturally or age acceptable ways doesn’t always seem like the best option. Especially when you’ve got lots of potential, options yet a lack of solid plans.

Mixing and matching is fun for me. When I see lots of different options being made available to me, it sometimes pains to me to pick just one. Obviously I need to pick just one of certain things in life (I guess), but overall I don’t see this as an overarching theme for me.

I’m still interested in doing lots of different things with my career and personal life and the more I meet amazing, interesting, driven people (as I have over the last few weeks).

A few months ago I told a select few friends that I wanted to take off and teach English overseas. Anyone who’s known me for any amount of time wouldn’t be surprised that I would want to do this, however I kept it a secret from my employer and people of influence in that sphere. Why? Well, thanks to an awesome friend who told me all about her experience spending a long time overseas teaching English, I was able to surmise that my situation would be perfect for taking off for a while to a foreign land, specifically South Korea, to bankroll some money and do what I’m natural at; seek adventure.

However, I had desired to do this on my own terms. I was planning on quitting my job for better or worse come this Fall and taking off to South Korea for my planned trip. Then the unexpected happened that seemed to throw a monkey wrench in my plans; two close family members of mine became quite ill and shortly thereafter, I was laid off from Brazen Careerist after a downsizing. These things happen, however my plans for the Fall adventure were put on ice it seemed because suddenly I had no idea where I’d be come that time.

Since getting laid off I’ve put major energy into figuring out where the jobs are in the country that I’d like and that I’d be good at. I’ve also put lots of thought into where I’d actually want to live, compared to my situation of landing in Madison, a place I don’t care for at all, for a job I really wanted.

I’ve figured a lot of things out like where I’d like to live, where I wouldn’t want to live, what jobs I absolutely won’t do and how little pay I’d actually accept for my “ideal” situation… and all of these considerations lead me to a relatively powerless position. I’m still at the mercy of the hiring managers that I continually reach out to and express interest in. Does this represent what my strengths are? Am I doing everything I can to better my position? These questions have flooded my brain lately and I can’t justify leaving anything off the table anymore.

So, to add onto my already colorful lists of options, I’m going to apply for English teaching jobs overseas. The opportunity to travel and launch myself completely out of my comfort zone once more appeals to me more than I’d like to admit. Might I take a setback overall in my marketing career compared to my contemporaries who are getting higher salaried, higher profiled jobs and founding successful businesses? Sure! Do I care about where I lie in relation to them in the grand scheme of my overall mission in life to live well? No, frankly I wish them the best, but I don’t really care what they do and where I relate to them.

Regardless of what some hack bloggers and pundits think, putting my real thoughts and stories out there has helped me continuously to work through intense ideas that bubble up to the surface of my mind as absolute truth, only to be eventually shredded apart through rigorous discourse.

My rubix cube is nowhere near solved yet. The sides colors do not match and I’m not sure if they ever will entirely. However, if I do as I please and help people along the way, I still win and spare myself the foolish effort of trying to slam my square peg through a round hole.

If I wind up landing a sweet job before flying off to a foreign land in a half-baked attempt to shake off my quarter century rust then so be it. But, this holding pattern simply doesn’t suit the fashion of my life’s design.

The Things You Do and Don’t Think About When Shopping (And Why Athenos Hummus Is Doing It Right)

A couple weeks ago I took an impromptu flight to Denver, Colorado to see family and friends as I re-strategized my personal and professional trajectory over the coming weeks and months. After being there a couple days, I got invited to a branding party hosted by Athenos Hummus for their new product line (oh yes, there were samples. Did you think for a second I’d miss this?)

I wasn’t sure what to expect except that there was going to be a two truths and one lie game show that people at the party would be competing in. The game show was really fun and the brand representatives were doing a great job in keeping everyone engaged and informed about the party. I was shocked at how much intricate detail was put into even the depth of the packaging so that you didn’t get hummus all over your fingers while dipping a carrot!

You can get a list of factoids out to journalists and bloggers with minimal effort, that’s not hard. However, these brand strategists actually thew a party that doubled as a branding event. I like this idea that brands are taking more efforts to connect with consumers on a personal level. Granted, you can’t throw a hummus party for an entire state or city, but figuring out who your key community is and reaching out to influencers (such as bloggers) is really smart.

Besides bloggers, who else do you see as key influencers of public opinion on brands and products? Is there another community out there than can be reached in a scalable and cost effective fashion?

I send kudos out to Athenos for getting it right. Plus their sample plates, appetizers and wine samples were amazing. I’ll be looking for more of their product next time I run out of hummus!

As for my two truths and one lie, take your picks:

a) I’ll always buy generic if the price is right. Brand loyalty isn’t something I really stick to

b) I’m a label reader and analyze the packaging and ingredients of all products

c) Corporate social responsibility is a major differentiator for me in my choice to support certain brands

[In the spirit of truths and lies, here’s some full disclosure for you: This post is connected to the Athenos Two Truths and a Lie Party in Denver, where they’re giving away lots of cool stuff, including a free trip to South Beach. I went and you can learn more about the party here.]

Wish You Were Here. Love, ~JR

I’m following through with an idea that I had just before I left for Colorado last week. I got caught up in the idea of collecting post cards during my travels starting in college. I was obsessed with some of the cool pictures on the front and how people would react to receiving them. Suddenly I had way too many saved up, similar to the situation with all my books.

This post is a hat tip towards Grace Boyle for her post on hand writing letters. A post card isn’t exactly a letter and lord knows I love writing letters, but I’d like to send my friends a post card that I think they’ll like.

Other reason’s why I’m doing this:

  • I want to downsize in case of the move I hope comes soon.
  • I realize I don’t keep track of people’s mailing addresses and if I wanted to send an impromptu letter, I couldn’t.

So, if you’d like a postcard, all you’ve gotta do is send me an email to james.r.moreau AT gmail dot com with your mailing address.

I hope this might spur your letter or post card sending impulses too. Pay it forward!

How Many Times is The Charm In Colorado?

The difference between feeling like you belong somewhere and thinking, “well, I guess I could make it this work” is really night and day.It’s taken me more than once to figure that out and I hold onto that feeling whenever a level of comfort comes over me in a certain atmosphere.

Colorado, my family and my friends in it have been incredibly good to me since I touched down this Tuesday. I’m honestly having more fun than I’ve had in a very, very long time. I am grateful for that.

Looking forward to the coming weeks to see where I’m going to be working next. I see hope for some really interesting possibilities.

As for this thin air, it’s definitely keeping me tired this late at night, so before I fall over, I’m going to go to bed and accept these short paragraphs. Hope everyone’s having an awesome week.

Morning People

Mornings like the one I had today are the sort that I care not to wake up to. The first thoughts that came to my head before even realizing what time it was were “oh my god, how am I going to go to Colorado while I’m unemployed and have no steady source of income? Shit, maybe I shouldn’t go…” I rolled over and wrapped myself up a few times to try and hide from these feelings which were bombarding me like cranes dive bombing into open waters looking for fish. I went to bed at 2:30 AM and when I woke up feeling dread and horror, I realized it was 8:00 AM.

I thought about trying to go back to bed but the thoughts didn’t really leave my mind, but rather instead of sharp pangs of angst, it settled into a dull dread that I knew wasn’t going to leave me right away.

So I got up, made some breakfast and turned on my laptop and started looking for jobs again.

I’ve been told many times in the past couple weeks that my attitude, a positive one, is going to help me attract new opportunities that I’d be passed over on if I was a sad bastard feeling bad for myself. I can manage this task because I’m a big thinker and my brain goes 8000 rpm’s at any given point in the day. But sometimes my brain goes a little slower, like in the morning when I let my eyes open, I stare at the ceiling and think about the simplest facts about my life and the people and things in it. This is when I’m vulnerable.

A dear friend of mine, a person who’s been there for me through and through during some of the hardest points in my life in the past 6 years has given me a lot of pointers and hopes for myself– some in the immediate term and some hopefully for the future. This person’s been sober for over 20 years and has helped me change my perspectives on addiction, especially with alcohol, greatly. This person told me about how hard mornings can be for a sober person, or someone dealing with a sobering event. Dealing with the hairy nature of life when things are still sort of quiet and still is a challenge that is faced every single day.

But my friend always reminded me at the end of these stories, “as the day goes on, it gets better. It gets better.”

Today it got better and it ended great. I look forward to another battle tomorrow, one that I intend on winning.