Take the Time to Take Care of Your Mind

2022 has been an interesting year for me, already. I hit some bumps earlier on and realized I needed some time to focus on myself and my family. Well, I’ve taken that time. I’m now in a transition phase where I’m slowly trying to bring back some of the things I did before, including blogging here on my site. I’m trying to find balance. It’s been a lot harder than I had anticipated.

It Silently Creeps In…

Over two years ago I created The Art of Network Engineering Podcast and asked the team to join me. As the podcast grew so, too, did my interest in it. Before long I was slowly sacrificing more and more of my time to the podcast. The bigger the response from the community the more effort we wanted to keep putting into it. And then, the sponsors came…

Suddenly, this hobby that I enjoyed spending time on became this second job that I had obligations to. So, the podcast continued to consume more and more of my time. Before long I was starting to miss events with my family in favor of obligations to sponsors and other podcast duties.

This all came to a head in early 2022. It became clear that I was a shell of the father figure and husband I once was. My absence from family events became all too familiar and commonplace for my wife and kids. It was time for a change.

But First, COVID Gets to Me

I had avoided COVID19 for nearly two whole years since the pandemic began, and just as I was coming to this realization that I needed to make a monumental change in my life I tested positive for COVID19.

My experience with COVID19 was mild. However, I was more concerned for the rest of my family. The closest members of my family suffer from respiratory issues, are of an age that vaccinations weren’t yet available for, and either have or are recovering from some form of Cancer. So, naturally, it was the utmost of importance to me to protect them from getting it.

So, I locked myself away in my office until I stopped testing positive. The heaviest part of this was not the virus itself but listening to my wife and kids. Sometimes it was the struggle my wife would have with them after a long day and all I wanted to do was help her. And, sometimes, it was hearing the joy and the laughter of them playing games together, but I was stuck in cell block A, cell 1 – at least that’s how it felt.

Remembering my Father

During my time in COVID Confinement, I observed the 20th anniversary of my Father’s passing. Although, I had observed it 19 times before then, for some reason the 20th time was exceptionally hard for me. I miss my father very much.

Pictured above is me and my Dad in our Civil Air Patrol uniforms. I was a Cadet Officer in the Vermont Wing Civil Air Patrol, and that year I received the Cadet of the Year Award. This photo was taken months before my Father’s sudden death.

He died of a blood clot in the lung when I was 18 years old. He was only 57. My Dad and were like best friends. We shared interests, we worked on projects together, and we joked with each other.

As a reminder – I had this huge realization that I needed to make some big changes in my life, I caught COVID and had to withdraw myself from my loved ones, and it was the 20th anniversary of my Dad’s passing – all within about 4 days. This was difficult to process.

Meditation and Counseling

While locked away I found out that my employer offers a free subscription to the Calm App. I activated my subscription and found a 30-day course on beginning Meditation. Now, I’ve tried meditation before in the past, and maybe it was just timing and everything I was going through, but that 30-day course really resonated with me. The instructor was great and very reassuring that though I felt like I was doing it all wrong, I was doing it all right.

The meditation has helped in ways I didn’t think were possible! I am more… Calm… now than I have been in a very long time!

In addition to the meditation, I also sought counseling. I have the tools in my toolbox to navigate a lot of things in my life, but there are times when I need help and guidance from someone else and I cannot underscore how much counseling has helped me numerous times throughout my life. If you need help, get help. It’s okay!

If you need help call around to different offices, and talk with friends. I’m sure you’d be surprised to find out many of them seek help regularly. For some reason, mental health in America is treated as a taboo topic. Let’s normalize it! Your brain is like every other muscle in your body: It needs proper care. If it gets overworked then it won’t perform optimally. Take the time to take care of your mind.

Thankful for Friends and Community

I can honestly tell you that without my friends and people from the community I would probably be in a much different place today. It really helped to be able to talk to people about my situation. And while I emotionally vomited all over otherwise perfect strangers, it helped. Talking about the issues I was facing and how I was feeling, and letting all of those emotions flow through my fingertips and out through the keyboard helped to relieve the stress I was feeling.

There are too many people to thank and I’m not sure if they wish to be named. I only hope they read this article and know how truly grateful I am for lending me their ears. It made a huge difference in my life, and I am extremely grateful and appreciative to them for giving me their time.

Finally, the update part…

So, after all that where am I? Well, I’m doing much better. I’m spending a lot more time with my family and I love every minute of it. I’m finding that balance in life that I was lacking for so long. Trying to use my time wisely by spending time with my family, with just me, just my kids, just my wife, and of course my friends. I will continue with the podcast but will not be putting nearly as much time into it now as I did before, and that’s okay.

You see before, even though there’s a team of people that do the podcast I never asked for help. I enjoyed doing everything I was doing. Some editing, posting episodes, managing the inbox, coordinating with sponsors, managing the brand, meetings, scheduling, social media, the blog, and the list goes on. I should’ve asked for help a long time ago. I didn’t, and that’s on me to own. The team has graciously stepped up to take and own or help with various pieces of the operation.

I’ve also found a new hobby: Flying Drones (and photography). Having a new hobby that has nothing to do with Network Engineering has been so enlighting. Before, I would work all day on Networking, and then work away most of my evening talking about Networking. And, while I still REALLY LOVE Networking, it’s been really refreshing to do something I truly enjoy, and it has nothing to do with Networking.

If you’re interested in hearing me drone on about drones, you can do so here.

Take the Time to Take Care of Your Mind

I’ve said many times before; be it on social media, in the podcast, and many times throughout this article here. It’s important to focus on your mental health. Please take the time to do so. Your brain, your family, and your friends will all appreciate it.

If you need someone to talk to my DMs are always open.

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