On Pursuing Passions (You down with OPP?)

(Cue the Pandora Christmas music station, which has an interesting and fun focus on the Rat Pack.)

Over the last six and a half years, I’ve participated in a number of conversations about working from home.  It’s not for everyone.  Frankly, it’s not for almost anyone.  There’s a theory that telecommuting is this amazing boost to your work/life balance that more than makes up for the isolation, and that technology has advanced to the point where time at the office is obsolete.  In my time building remote teams, I’ve seen enough marriages fall apart, enough top performers become disengaged and lose their jobs, and even worse from those who weren’t able to sustain the delicate balance of working and living in the same room.

This week, I celebrated my one year anniversary of joining my current employer.  I find myself once again working from home and dealing with some of the pitfalls, and for the last five months I had been struggling to keep myself happy without getting too unhealthy.  The most obvious symptom is the continued isolation at quitting time, when you log out and stay at the computer and suddenly it’s well past bedtime.  The lack of doing anything but endlessly refreshing Facebook and scrolling Reddit and playing webgames becomes a roadblock unto itself.

I could grill tonight, or I could go to the gym, or I could read a book, or I could ride this sweet new road bike I bought, but “meh.”  Always “meh.”  I mean, at the end of the day, the complete lack of interest, the weight gain, the irritability, it’s all pretty much a checklist for depression… and the isolation is both a cause and an effect.

So I’ve slowly been driving myself toward things that interest me until I got over the hump, and it finally happened last week after a surprise trip to the gym and a mile on the treadmill.  That’s the same day I decided to blog again, and I’ve generally kept it up for the past week with the exception of the weekend, during which time I was out and about, enjoying life outside of my own little office.  The return to the gym helped me kick my other recent pursuits into high gear.

I’ve been spending a lot of time volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign, and in the near future I’ll devote an entire blog post or two to that experience, but it’s worth mentioning that I’m happy to answer any question posed by my few random readers when it comes to the candidate.  I’ve never before campaigned for a candidate, and with the exception of one donation to Dennis Kucinich, I never handed over money to a campaign until I set up a monthly recurring donation to Bernie Sanders.  I’m phone banking, running some local events, administering some social media presence in my county, talking to the media… I’m truly excited about bringing the White House back to the left, and I’m willing to put my money (and sweat) where my mouth is.  I hope you consider joining me, and I hope you let me know.

Also, I’ve been thinking about how I can retool the barbecue sauce and dry rub business next year and more than a handful of ideas have popped into my head.  This year’s success has driven me to continue expanding slowly and thoughtfully, and to start using my brand to promote my voice on a wide variety of topics that could potentially be divisive, but at the same time hold a lot of importance.  I never meant to get rich off this company, only to pursue some of my passions for grilling, socializing, and marketing.  So far, I’ve been able to do just that and it has been a blast.  If I can do the same next year and put more of myself into it, that’s just an added bonus.

When you work from home, there are a lot of quiet days, and sometimes the quiet can be deafening.  For the eight hours a day that I’m not just playing TagPro at my desk, I’ve been very fortunate to land in a position with two other work-from-home coworkers with a gift for fun conversation and a sense of humor.  In addition to all the things I’ve mentioned above, it’s nice to come into work every morning (from the next room) and expect that, come whatever challenges, there will be the upside of a solid, friendly, and hardworking team to keep the day on the rails (or take it off them violently when the situation calls for it).

Tonight, Kristin and I put up the lights and decoration on the Christmas tree.  It’s a little smaller due to the new living room setup, but still decent, and it did put me in the Christmas spirit.  Christmas music has been playing most of the evening and suddenly I want to get some gifts under there.  Two weeks ago, my working theory was to avoid the holiday trappings (tree, presents, etc.) as long as possible, but once things got on track, they stayed there.  I gotta say I’m pretty happy about that.

So that’s my life lately.  Nothing groundbreaking, but after a year or two of mostly silence, it feels good to be catching up.  What have you been up to, trusty readers?  Hit me up in the comments.