Lessons Learned from Each Job

In The Art of Work, Goins says we should notice what we have learned from each job, regardless of whether that job was what we wanted to do. Everyone has had jobs they did not like, but they do not need to (and should not) be a waste. Think about what you can learn from them and how they prepare you for your true purpose. Here are a few of my examples.


Security supervisor

In this job I was under ongoing stress. If not dealt with properly, this can wear a person down, and I received an object lesson while on that job. For about a week I had an inflammation on my finger which was painful enough on its own, but it also aggravated my carpal tunnel syndrome. I reminded myself that this pain would pass and chose to look beyond my current circumstances and focus my attention on that future time. The same could be applied to the stress of the job. I also had to learn to be respectful and polite toward some co-workers who seemed to be intentionally difficult to work with. No matter how uncooperative some people are, we can still control how we respond to them.



In this job, I was on my feet for ten or more hours each day, sometimes for as much as 60 hours a week. I would lift boxes, cut them open, stock the merchandise, and then do the same thing again. The next day, I would do it again.. After a brief time off, I would do the same thing the next week. The work was taking a serious toll on my body. I knew I could not continue, but I felt stuck.

I knew I was intelligent enough to do something better, and so I did what needed to be done. I resigned that job, moved, and enrolled at a technical college to study cybersecurity. Yes, it was a risk. I did not have a job, and I had no guarantee of when I would find a job (it took eight months). On the other hand, if I played it safe and remained at the warehouse, then nothing would have changed, at least until my body failed me and forced me to quit that job anyway. Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith, break out of the rut. Sometimes you need to make a move, not exactly what will happen next except that it is the first step toward a better life.


Customer service

In this lime of work, I had to deal with many difficult customers. Sometimes they would yell and cuss at me although not because of anything I did. I had to take the abuse and be respectful. Dealing with this everyday can wear a person down, but I had to remind myself to brush it off. Life will go on. Do not carry the abuse with you. Besides, the customers sometimes had good reason to be angry. I would not cuss at customer service (cussing has never been part of my personality), but I could often understand their frustration. Sometimes, on the other hand, they really were jerks. Sometimes they were entitled. Nonetheless, I could not say what I sometimes thought. It was my job to help them.

In this job I also had to learn to make a habit of projecting a positive, friendly, and empathetic demeanor. Sometimes when I spoke with a customer on the phone, I came across with a deadpan voice. I was not uncaring, but an introverted and cerebral personality can give that impression. I therefore made the effort to intentionally project an upbeat personality that projected interest in the customer. For a while I had to make and intentional effort, but eventually I noticed that it had become a habit, something I did without trying. The ability to speak positively and show concern for other people will serve anyone well in any job.


I have chosen a field (cybersecurity) which can be difficult to break into, and searching for a long period for a first job can be discouraging. That is not a reason, however, to shut my ears and ears to what I am doing now and what it can teach me, while I continue the search despite the setbacks.




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Let Your Imagination Take Shape

After I started attempting to write fiction, I gained an increased appreciation for The Neverending Story. It demonstrates what can happen when imagination is set free and allowed to have fun.

I recently searched YouTube for a video of the theme song when I stumbled upon the video posted above. I have watched this movie countless times, but this time it hit me in a new way. Bastion learns that Fantasia has been completely destroyed (except for one grain of sand) but that it can be reborn in him. He needs only to make a wish.

At first he does not know what to wish for. Maybe he lacks confidence in his creative ability for such a huge task. Maybe he just does not know where to begin. The empress then tells him he can have as many wishes as he wants, and “the more wishes you make, the more magnificent Fantasia will become.”

He seems not so different from a writer. A writer holds a world in his head, but it is born only if he begins writing. Fantasia could not have been saved if Bastion had not first embraced his imagination by giving the empress her new name and then by making his first wish. If a writer does not begin, then his imagined world will never be appreciated by readers. If he does begin, then he can take that world in any direction he wishes. He can add as much as he desires, and the more he pours into that world, the more incredible it will become. And then, he can share it with readers and let it fuel their imaginations.

This movie also portrays what I suspect many readers of imaginative fiction would do given the opportunity – visit those worlds. Imagine having the opportunity to visit Middle-Earth during the Third Age, or Narnia during the struggle against the White Witch. It might be fascinating to explore Thimhallen, a world saturated with magic, or Krynn while people fight against the forces of Takhisis. It would also be fun to ride a racing snail in Fantasia or fly on a banshee on the moon Pandora.

Or, even better, imagine visiting the world you create in your head. Of course, you cannot visit it physically, but you (and your readers) can enjoy visiting it in your imagination, . . . if you apply your imagination to write that world. I am directing this exhortation toward myself as much as I am toward you. I need the encouragement as much as anyone else to develop the ideas in my head and let them find expression. So, let it begin.






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A Brief Update

After the pandemic hit, my employer made us remote, and so I am working from home. I appreciate the savings on gas. Even when I was carpooling to work, I used a tank each week. Now I can wait at least two weeks before filling up.

I also enjoy having my buddy Arwen with me while I work. She sometimes missed me when I was away at work, but now she enjoys having me at home all day. I placed her favorite blanket on a chair next to my desk, and so she often spends much of the work day with me. This blanket is old and worn out. Most people would probably throw it away, but she loves it. She has taken countless naps on it, and so I cannot throw it away yet.

She can be demanding when she wants attention. She does not bother me when I am working. Studying, however, is another matter. The semester is over, but I am studying for a certification test. Recently I was looking through some practice questions when she jumped onto my desk and dropped down on my book. It was as if she was telling me that it was time to stop studying and pay attention to her. I gave her some rubs, finished what I was doing, and then spent some time with her.

She continues to amuse me in other ways. She loves to chase her laser pointer. She knows the red dot is not a bug running across the floor. Instead, she knows it come from the laser pointer and that I control it. If I leave the top right drawer of my desk open, then she will sometimes dig through the drawer to find the pointer. If I am sitting at my desk, she might rub her paw on the drawer or gently claw my leg to ask me to play. When I bring out the laser pointer, she crouches down to get ready. Then the hunt begins, and I once again witness the contradiction that is the mind of a cat. She will chase the dot with a passion as if it a dangerous enemy she has sworn an oath to vanquish. She will then suddenly stop chasing it and lick herself, unconcerned and ignoring the dot, until she is ready to resume the chase. Cats are weird.

I am also back to writing. The demands of work and school can push writing aside, but it remains in the back of my mind. I let the habit fall away, but it continues to nag me. I cannot ignore the urge forever. To reorient my thinking on it, I am reading two books: 1) 47 Mind Hacks for Writers: Master the Writing Habit in 10 Minutes Or Less and End Writer’s Block and Procrastination for Good by Karen and Steve Dimmick; and 2) The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins. I have  found both helpful.

When returning to writing, Dimmick suggests starting small, so that it is easy to re-establish the habit, and then gradually increasing the volume. That makes sense. It is easier to reach a daily goal when the habit is already in place. Goins suggests that you listen to circumstances in your life that have pointed in a direction that you may not have originally planned. Even if writing remains a part time endeavor, various elements of my life do seem to point that way.

What do you do to commit to writing when time is hard to find, or when struggling with writer’s block, or when your writing does not measure up to what you see in your head?


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Worlds Trapped in My Head


The world inside my head, if you can call it that . . . no, more like worlds inside my head, or pieces of one world, and pieces of another.

Fragments, ideas, none complete. I see pieces. They intrigue me. I reach out, try to place them on my screen, and then they crumble. The words on screen are nothing like what I see in my head.

Sometimes they are like sputtering torches, or a scattering of sputtering torches, never really coming to a full flame, and never joining together into a cohesive while, and yet never going out. . . Never dying but never fully living.

They want to come out. I want to bring them out. Sometimes I think it would be fun to explore that story, that world, like a character of my story, amazed, in wonder at what I discover, not knowing what will come next.

In one world, I see an android facing a serious moral dilemma. In another, I see a revolutionary vacation resort gone seriously wrong. In another, I see a man on a river bank when the Grim Reaper lands his boat and asks for directions. In one world I see a man who becomes lost on a forest trail and finds himself in a strange realm. In yet another world, I see an author who dialogues with the character he struggles to write and then gives him the most fitting role. They are all there, inside.

Now I need to go, and so the real world calls. But the worlds, or fragments of worlds, call too. I want to let them out. When I rest from the real world, I want to bring out that other world. It is still there. I cannot ignore it because it does not leave me. What can I do to bring it out?

What keeps them trapped? If they can never come out, then why do they continue to call me?

On the other hand, if they keep calling, then they need to come out. What can I do? Keep trying. Study how it is done. Seek guidance from people who have been here before. I know I am happier and more alive when I write. Maybe that is telling me something.



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Inspired on a Forest Trail

This is a neat spot I found during a morning walk. Forest trails sometimes hold hidden gems. I discovered this trail during a another morning walk but did not have the time to explore it, and so I decided to try it during my next walk. After a short distance I found this spot.

I quickly considered what sorts of fantasy stories could find inspiration from sitting here and absorbing the look, feel, and sounds of the place. The sights and sounds remind me of the Channelwood Age in Myst (a classic adventure of the 90s). What else could be discovered here if one’s imagination is set free? Imagine yourself finding a fantasy world with fantasy creatures that you never noticed before but which always existed in the woods behind your house or just down the street. Why did you never notice them before? Why have they kept themselves hidden from view by the modern world? Will you explore that world again tomorrow? Is it safe to do so? Will you be able to return to your world afterward, or would you want to return?

The answers to many of those questions depend on the life and struggles of the main character in the story which forms in your mind as you explore hidden locations like this. Whatever you decide, keep your eyes and ears open to sources of inspiration which can create worlds in your head and make life in the real world more entertaining and interesting. I will need to return here to sit and read and to enjoy what comes to mind as I take in the sights and sounds.

The day after I took this video, we had a heavy snow storm (heavy for Georgia), and so I had to check the trail again. I felt like I was in Narnia.

I had to walk carefully along the walkway across the water to reach the pavilion. I then sat on a bench to experience the sounds and feel of the place.

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People, Please, Take Your Eyes off of Those Phones

I wrote this today at work during my lunch break after noticing how many people were glued to their cell phones (a daily occurrence).

People, please. Take your eyes off of those phones.
There is a world surrounding you, a real world.
Talk with a friend; go for a walk.
Read a novel; write a story.
Listen to some music; paint a picture.

Experience life . . . not through a plastic box with wires,
But with your eyes, ears, hands and feet.
A storm is brewing outside today; listen to the rain.
Pet a dog; rub a cat.
Hike a forest trail.

Do something . . .
Live your life . . . a real life.

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An Appeal for Christians to Rediscover the Power of Imagination

Yes, it has been quite a long time since I posted. As many of you know, I have been in school, and that takes much of my time. I have also studied for some certification exams, and so far I have passed CompTIA A+ and Security+.

On top of studying, I have spent time attending job fairs and other networking events, and I have started a job at a call center. Needless to say, I have been busy, but that is not the only reason I have not posted. I have also felt uninspired, and I have struggled to find the drive to write. I must say, it is nice to be back at it. I do not know how often I can write while I am in school, but I enjoy it when I can.

This post was unexpected. Last Monday night after I finished all of the school work for the night, I was relaxing with an old issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine that I never finished. After reading a few pages, I thought that it would be nice to have a Christian equivalent of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Some of the stories in this periodical are entertaining, and some deal with interesting ideas. Often, however, I see sexual immorality, intentional jabs at religion, and profanity.

Now, do not read me wrong. I understand that this is not a Christian publication, and so I do not expect the authors to write as Christians. They are free to write as they choose. I also have no problem reading stories written by non-Christians if they are well-written, entertaining, and deal with interesting ideas. I can recommend many that I have enjoyed greatly (Isaac Asimov, who was an atheist, is one of my favorite writers).

Nonetheless, I do think Christians would benefit from an outlet through which they could use the power of speculative fiction within a Christian context, a place where they could bring their stories together in a shared medium. I made some inquiries online to see whether there is such a place, and I was told of a few. I do not want to recommend any of them here without first evaluating them myself, but you can ask The Rabbit Room Chinwag on Facebook.

Whether in one of these forums or in another, maybe more Christian writers of fiction should consider what they can contribute. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien showed how powerful the fantasy genre can be, and their works have become true classics. Science fiction is another genre which has proven numerous times to have immense potential to explore the cultural, political, and technological trends we see today. What would we see if Christian authors today combined the cultural and political foresight and Christian convictions of Francis Schaeffer with the captivating storytelling skills of Lewis and Tolkien? That would be something worth reading.

Writers must, however, keep in mind the quality of their contributions. I have no problem saying that many Christian movies . . ., well, they just stink. I appreciate the Christian worldview that they present (when it is not incredibly shallow), but the storytelling is often painfully inferior to many secular movies. It should not be that way (remember Lewis and Tolkien). Christians should strive for quality in all creative endeavors, whether on film, or on paper, or on a canvas.

In Art and the Bible, Francis Schaeffer encouraged Christians to be more involved in the arts in service to the glory of God. Because Christ is the lord of a person’s entire life, that life can produce both truth and beauty through art. The same can be applied to literature. Schaeffer also argued that legitimate Christian art does not always need to have specifically religious content. A Christian can paint a picture of a beautiful landscape simply because it is a beautiful landscape which he knows was created by God. In the same way, a Christian can write an entertaining story simply to write an entertaining story, and he can also write a story with a biblical purpose and message. Both are valid.

Fantasy and science fiction both have power to capture the imagination, and they are limited only by the imagination of the author. This makes them great vehicles with which explore ideas and to address the real world in which we live. Let us see what Christians can do with that.

(My previous posts on fantasy and science fiction)

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Writing Prompt – Your Life in Print

At a bookstore you find a book which appears to be your biography. You are amazed because you never knew anyone wrote your biography, and you do not understand why anyone would want to. As you skim through it you notice that it contains events of that day and the moment you find that book. It even contains events which have not yet occurred.

  • You choose what type of bookstore. It can be a large store like Barnes and Noble or a small local store. In either case, provide a vivid description.
  • Do you visit that bookstore regularly, or have you never been there before?
  • Describe the books and/or magazines you look at before you find the biography.
  • Describe the biography. How large is it? How is it bound? Describe the cover art. In which section of the bookstore did you find it? Make the content of the book appropriate to that section, but it is still a record of your past, present and future life.
  • How detailed are the future sections? If they are vague, are the gaps filled in as you live your life?
  • Because you know what will happen, then can you change your future, or are you stuck with what the book predicts? Maybe you can change some detail but not the overall trajectory. Does the content of the book then change to match the changed events?
  • Are you afraid to read the book, or are you overwhelmed with temptation? You are likely to experience both. It may depend in part on whether you can change the book’s predictions. The inner struggle could make some interesting narrative.
  • Do you discover the origin of the book and how the store acquired it?

You are free to use this prompt in your own writing. If you print it or post it online, however, please credit this post.

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Another Semester Done

I took my last final yesterday. I have one A- and two A+ this semester, and I have one industry certification (Security+). I think that is a productive semester. This summer I will probably study for the A+ certification.

Although the semester is done, I am still busy. My sister is downsizing, and so I need to move. With that approaching, I am going through my shed and deciding what to throw away. I found some old college notes which i have not read for more than twenty years. I tossed those. i also have some old books and magazines. I will keep some and set aside some that might earn me something at a used bookstore, but I will toss some that are not worth keeping.

I also need to find a job. I do not think I could have survived this semester of three classes if I worked a job, and so in the Fall I will probably take two classes. I need to get work experience in this field. That can be just as important at the education. If that means I need to graduate a little later, then that is what I will do. The purpose of this endeavor, after all, is to move into a field which will provide a job with a decent living. I do not regret taking three classes this semester, however. I finished some classes which are prerequisites for many other classes, and so I should now have more flexibility with my choice of classes in future semesters.

Now I must go. My sister’s dogs need a walk, and I am ready to listen to some good music while we walk. As I leave, allow me to suggest a video. It combines the sounds of a fireplace with a rainstorm. I sometimes like to play some of it when I go to bed. I do not play the entire video – just the last thirty minutes or hour which is more than enough as I fall asleep.

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Working through Some Ideas in the Midst of a Busy Life

It has been quite a while since I last wrote, and I have missed it. My life has been packed. I am now in the end of semester crunch time with exams approaching, two projects to finish, and preparation for the Security+ exam. I am also attending professional networking events and looking for an IT internship so that I can get my foot in the door and set myself up for a full job when I graduate..

I simply have not had the time write each day (I have done some), but I have worked on some ideas in my head. Years ago I thought of an idea for a fantasy story. I never developed it much because I thought some parts were too derivative, drawing too much from common themes. Nonetheless, I still liked some of the concepts, such as the basis for magic. I did not see how I could use it, and then this week I realized that I could work that part into my imaginary mythology.

Maybe I should give a small teaser. In this mythology, I envision a world which is the manifestation of its creator’s dreams. Unlike our dreams, which can be fragmented and constantly changing, this is a complete world. It also does not cease to exist when its creator is awake. Instead, it just goes on hold and then continues the next time he sleeps, but without the inhabitants ever noticing the pause. I also imagine a close relationship between magic and music, so close that they cannot be fully separated. This is the concept that I brought over from the old story idea.

This will probably be a long time in development. I have so much to learn about writing, and I need so much development. I am also busy trying to get through school so that I can make a better life for myself.

I have also pondered a video that I saw on YouTube. I recently discovered the BrunuhVille channel. It posts nice background music, often with a fantasy theme. I especially like this one:

At the end of the video beginning at 3:05 you can hear elven voices. The composer explains that he does not give them a meaning so that each person can imagine his or her own meaning.

So what do you see while listening to this song? Consider the image. The woman’s clothes and jewelry suggest that she may be royalty or in another high position. Also consider the mood of the voices. It suggests a culmination, but a culmination of what? That is the question I am still trying to decide. Maybe whoever is handing her the leaf is resigning from an important role and passing that responsibility to the younger woman. If so, then maybe the voices are reciting a traditional verse to commemorate the event.

What do you think is happening?

Because of school, I do not have the time to fully explore my ideas, but I still try to have fun with them when I need a break.

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