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Sunday Reboot — December 17, 2023

Finishing the reboot a bit later than I anticipated. Apparently sticking to a newly self-imposed schedule is hard when the rest of your life is decidedly unhappy with recurring weekend plans.

I've got a new freelance project kicking off, so between family holiday fun, the "real" job, and this new gig, I've monopolized myself out of any free time.

Oh well, I'll get it figured out. I at least did myself a solid this week and drafted an outline ahead of time (which is very unlike me). Normally I just vomit words on the screen and mash the metaphorical "Publish" button without a second glance.

Maybe I'll figure out how to not procrastinate by the time I'm 40...

Pondering...

"Breathing in, I know suffering is there. Breathing out, I say hello to my suffering." — Thich Nhat Hanh

I'm hardly an expert in Buddhism (assuming "hardly" means "I know enough say stupid things confidently", although I'm also hardly an expert in words and stuff too), but a phrase I've heard in some of my studying is that "attachment is suffering."

"Attachment" in this context can mean a lot of things, but for me, "attachment" means comfort. When I get comfortable with certain situations, I become resistant to change, which in turn causes suffering because life is change.

Be it my job, my house, the luxuries I enjoy, the mask I wear when I'm around other people... letting go of the things we allow ourselves to identify with can be extremely painful, especially when those things become a part of who we are.

Last week, I was pondering a quote by Ryan Holiday about being yourself, and it's been a eye opener, because I've really lost sight of who I am in the last few years.

By traditional measurements, I am a pretty successful person, but lately I've felt like that success just happened to me. It's not like I didn't work hard for it, but I never actually stopped to ask myself if my definition of success is the same as the one I was measuring myself against.

I don't feel like I have done a good job honoring my true self, and that's a tough pill to swallow.

I'm not exactly sure what that means for me yet, but I do know that my measurement for success as a man pushing 40 is a hell of a lot different than it was a decade ago. It's not about the title or the things anymore, it's about what I'm putting out into the world with the little time I have in it.

I have a few ideas of what I'm actually meant to do, but it would require such a significant change in my and my family's life that just the thought of it is spiking my blood pressure... so for now, I'm breathing into it, and learning to embrace the suffering so I can move past it.

Listening...

I know I just said that it's Christmas Music time, but during my recent Explosions in the Sky kick I saw that they released a new album this year. End is pretty solid, a bit more upbeat than The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, and (like all of their music) instrumental, so great to work and read to.

Because I'm a sucker for retro media formats, I ordered End on cassette, and it arrived last week! So when I find myself getting burned out on Christmas music, I've been picking up the Walkman and zoning out to End.

It's been delightful.

Reading...

I finished The Terminal List pretty quickly (easy reads are easy reads), and have gotten back to my regularly scheduled non-fiction reading. I'm still slowly picking through Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy and have also started Managing Humans by Michael Lopp (also known as Rand from randsinrepose.com), which is a well-written collection of advice for Engineering Managers (although much of the advice applies to anyone who manages any type of person in really any capacity).

On an unrelated note, I've also started studying for my ham radio license exam. I got the study guide for my birthday back in February and have done exactly zero things with it, so I decided to force myself to actually follow through on it by locking in an exam date in January.

It's not the most difficult thing in the world to learn, apparently, but it's been a while since I've done something that actually resembles formal studying (instead of my usual non-deadline-bound groping around in the dark), so it's been a nice change of pace.

Struggling...

Thanks to my "no gray days" policy, last week was a good week.

It was also fucking exhausting thanks to the ritualized trimestral torture known as Quarterly Planning. Getting out of my emotional slump has been a huge weight off my shoulders, and has me more focused. The consequence of that focus is a flare up of a bulging disc I have in my neck (I tend to tense up when I am really engaged in things, resulting in severe pain and numbness).

I repurposed an old adjustable workbench as a standing desk, at least for work stuff, but I've never been able to code standing up so for personal stuff I'm trying to be more mindful of my posture, taking more breaks, moving more to prevent stiffness... it's not going well.

Advil Dual Action, Icy Hot, and 3 different kinds of foam rollers have entered into the picture, and I'm not super happy about having to rely on them so much, so I'm also trying to incorporate more mindfulness into my schedule (something enhanced by the Thich Nhat Hanh quote I'm pondering this week).

Considering I spent all day today clacking away at my laptop without any significant increase in pain or discomfort, I'd say it's working... but one day out of seven is hardly a huge win, so I've got some work to do here.

Creating...

A quick update on my book proposal pre-proposal letter: No Starch Press turned me down. That's okay, though. I know that publishers tend to align their marketing plans around certain themes, and if what I pitched doesn't fit, there's no amount of convincing I can do.

There's also a story about J. K. Rowling in here pitching to publishers a million times and getting rejected that's supposed to make me feel better, but honestly I don't need it. You win some, you lose some.

But also, I reached out to O'Reilly Books and they actually requested more information about my proposal, which is hopeful. We're going into Christmas and New Years, so it'll be slow back and forth for a bit, but as long as the lines of communication are open there's a chance.

Wish me luck.

On an unrelated note, I'm also working on building out my LinkedIn presence and network. Based on conversations with friends who have actually published books, the size of their network helped everything from the pitch process to advance negotiation to sales.

I can't say I love being on social media again, but I can see the value in a strong professional-oriented network, so it's an experiment worth running for a little bit.

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This is post 007 of #100DaysToOffload