Feb 08

My Story – How a bad day at work changed my life forever.

how-a-bad-day-at-work-changed-my-life

The Search

I had just moved to Houston, Texas from Los Angeles. I had just discovered spiritual things, and was looking to switch from an ambitious “I have to be a success” path to more of a spiritual path, but I had no idea how to do that.  I was still very much practical and was trying to find a way to live a spiritual life and pay the bills at the same time.  Anyway this struggle or search if you will went on for about 2 years.  In the mean time I did computer programming contracts, I am a programmer by trade, and these contracts were a convenient way to earn some money in a flexible manner while I pursued this more spiritual life.  At this point in time I still had no idea what my purpose was, what my real interest or inspirations were either.  One of the problems with this life was the fact that I would only do the contract work when we needed money and then I would stop.  So we kept having these boom and bust periods, which was getting kind of tiresome.

The thing that made it hard to deal with was the fact that if I wanted to I could have gotten a high paying job that would have taken care of all of our money problems.  But seeing how Houston Texas is an oil and gas town I was really dreading the idea of having to wear a suit and tie to a 9 to 5 computer programming job every day.  I just felt that it would be really hard to get in touch with my spirituality and or interests and live a balanced life doing that and I knew how some jobs could easily take 10 to 12 hours out of your day leaving you no time for anything else except sleeping and eating.  Plus, most of my working life has been spent doing my own thing.  I have had more businesses than jobs and am an entrepreneur by heart; it is just not in me to do the 9 to 5 thing.  But things were getting desperate. And after a failed attempt to take my computer contracts and start a larger consulting firm I threw in the towel and decided to “oh no” – get a job!  I remember it was a pretty clear decision. I decided that I wanted a job with a computer consulting firm figuring that at least there I would only work 9 to 5 versus the 10 hour days and weekends many software companies insist you work if you are a programmer.  I also wanted something that I would not bring home with me.  Programming work is mental work and lots of times you get stuck on problems and it stays in your head and permeates your being, even when you go home.  I did not want that.  I also decided that I wanted to earn a lot of money figuring that a lot of money would make it worth the hassle.

So as you can see I set a clear intention and was really clear about what I wanted, a significant point.  It would be much later that I would realize the power of intention and knowing exactly what you want. I applied spiritual techniques like prayer and visualization to the problem. I prayed about it and I visualized in detail the exact job I wanted, the pay and other details. I then sent my resume out to every computer ad in the Sunday paper, and by the next week I had one company that was very interested in me.  I met with them and without hardly any effort I got the job on Jan 18th 1999. And it was exactly what I had prayed for. Or so I thought.

the tower of successThe Job

The company I signed on with was a really prominent corporate IT consulting firm. A very formal place where you had to wear a shirt and tie and act business like.  Coming from more informal software start-ups, I really did not like that kind of work environment but I figured I had to “hunker down” and do what it takes.  I mean this is what I asked for right? I figured that if I just worked at least a year I could pay down all of our debts and we could get back on our feet.  I could then take any extra money and invest it in some business ideas I had.  If some of these ideas panned out maybe we could be on our way to being financially independent or partially anyway.  Well it was hard, I mean the job was fairly easy but my heart was not in it from day one.  But like I said, I just hunkered down and tolerated it figuring that’s what I had to do.  How many of us feel like we have to hunker down like that and ignore our heart – it’s totally stupid.  I kept going like this and then I started to notice all kinds of weird things starting to happen.

Cleveland OhThe Weird Things

The first thing that happened was that I was sent for training in Cleveland Ohio, this is significant in that most of my family lives in Ohio and it was almost exactly ten years since I had been there last.  I knew this was no coincidence and that I was meant to go there for some reason.  For some reason I end up in Cleveland every 10 years.  Once I was there at the training another interesting thing happened.  I was summoned to the phone in the middle of the training to find out that the company wanted to send me to Toronto Canada for my first assignment.  I had never been to Toronto and had never given the place much thought but from that moment on it was like I was on a whirlwind.  Everyone kept telling me how great and beautiful Toronto was.  The thing was,  I could not believe I didn’t know anything about such a popular place. How could I have missed it?  Weird. Anyway the cool thing was that I was going to get some bonus travel money that when combined with my salary would almost double the amount of take home cash I would have.  I decided to take the assignment immediately and also decided to bring my family along.  That would be my wife, my 6 year old daughter and 1 year old son.

toronto canadaToronto Canada

We arrived in Toronto and immediately we felt a change.  We felt like we had been transported to a new and magical world.  It was great, we had the time of our lives.  I don’t think we will ever forget that trip.  But all was not well in paradise.  The assignment I was sent on was truly an assignment from hell.  Canada and Toronto were nice but the assignment was horrible.  To give you an idea of how bad it was, as soon as I arrived for work the first thing that happened is that I was introduced to these people.  For the first minute we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries but immediately after, this one guy starts yelling at me that the system is down and has been down for the last week and that no one knows what is going on and why haven’t we fixed it yet and that they expect us to stay the night and have it fixed by the next day.  I still had my computer on my shoulder and my coat on.  I had been there no more than 5 minutes!  I was in shock.  I thought what the heck have I gotten myself into now?  I said “well let me get situated and call my boss and find out what the situation is and I will get back to you.”  Luckily I had an office so I could close the door.  I made the call and luckily that situation was resolved.  It turned out there was mega politics going on on several levels and unfortunately, as I was to find out later, my partner and I were the ‘guinea pigs.’  There were a few smooth days but basically that initial negative exchange set the tone for the assignment for the following 6 mos and it climaxed in the last 2 months.

Fancy DinnerLiving it Up

In the meantime we really enjoyed our time in Canada, I did not even try to save any money figuring that you live only once and who knows when we would be in that situation again. So we spared no expense to do what we wanted.  We traveled ate wherever we wanted, rented a nice furnished apartment and basically lived it up.  It was the life except for one nagging problem, my job, and a big problem at that because it was not like I could just quit.  This job that I hated more and more everyday was the source of the money that was allowing us to live high on the hog. But as the months wore on and we had seen every thing and pretty much done every thing there is to do in Toronto, the job was starting to take its toll.  Around the fifth month I started to rethink the whole thing.  The funny thing is I was so enamored by the whole situation that my spirituality had just gone completely out the window.   I hadn’t read a single spiritual book or meditated or prayed since we got there.  But things were getting nastier and nastier at my job.  It was getting hard to deal with.  Soon the stresses reached such a point that I was ready to just totally freak out.

Joan of ArcReawakening

Luckily, I remembered that I had some spiritual tools to help me deal and that this job was not my true source of happiness.  The event that triggered this reawakening was, believe it or not, a movie on TV.  It’s amazing how God decides to reach a person.  The movie was Joan of arc. And although it may or may not have been an accurate portrayal of what happened, it didn’t matter. What mattered is that something in the movie moved me spiritually.  I guess it was the way Joan seemed to be in touch with spiritual forces no matter how dire her situation, even as she was being burned at the stake.  I was also impressed by her passion and dedication to her cause.  For instance, She wasn’t distracted by things like money, fame or success.  This movie moved me and got me rethinking about spiritual matters for the fist time in months.  I felt moved to go to the bookstore and then started reading spiritual books again, books like the ‘Course in Miracles’ etc.  I also started meditating again.  It did not take long for these spiritual things to have an effect on me.  My spiritual eyes reopened and it became painfully obvious that I was in the wrong situation and no amount of money was worth it.  I started to remember being happier with much less money.  Times when I had nothing more than rice and eggs to eat.  Something had to give.

the straw that broke the camels backThe Straw that Broke the Camels Back

One day while I was counting the hours the situation at work got really stressful.  There were some problem with the system we were working on and several people were trying to pin the problem on my partner and me.  Usually when things got that stressful I would just leave and go get some tea and take a walk. But this time I couldn’t leave because they had us calling in with some test results every 30 minutes.  As the day went on, I was starting to really get stressed.  By this time for political reasons, they had kicked my partner and me out of our nice office and we were in a small hallway working on little printer desks, not even real desks.  So here I am scrunched up in this corner next to a door that everyone is coming and going out of every five minutes – bam – bam.  There is mega fear in the office because of the situation and I can’t leave!  I felt really trapped and I just wanted out of that situation so bad you could not believe. I came this close to just walking out and saying sayonara to the whole thing.  I needed to escape and the only way I could think of in that moment was to just open my laptop, dive in and start writing…

inspirationWhat is Inspiration?

For some weird reason, which I don’t understand even to this day, I typed the words “What is inspiration?” into my laptop. I’m thinking “how the heck did I get in this mess, this whole job thing was a big mistake and this is the most uninspired situation I have ever been in!”  Anyway to my amazement I knew the answer or somehow the answer came to me or through me.  Immediately I started typing really fast and the answer to that question just flowed though my finders like water.  It was really amazing.  I am sure you know what I am talking about.  It was a feeling like I had all this stuff inside that just had to get out.  I could not type fast enough.  I felt like I was going to burst!  And when I was finished, I had written about a page of material.  It was one of those situations where you are like “wow! I wrote that? Where did that come from?”  We have all had those situations, right? But boy I had no idea that that one page would change the course of my life.   Here’s what I wrote…

InspiredWhat does it mean to be Inspired?

“It means to trust your instincts and to move into that space that is interesting, fun and alive!  Do what you feel inspired to do in any moment. Don’t feel like doing it, don’t. Feel like doing it, do!  But there is a difference between doing something you feel inspired to do and doing something out of fear.  Fear is the enemy.  It is easy for fear to disguise itself as inspiration when our ego tells us that the only way to get something is to do something else.  Then we feel like we must take a certain action because we think it is the ONLY way.  But we cannot see the divine plan.  The only thing you can do is to try not to do it all by yourself, don’t try to FIGURE it out.  Let God’s creative spirit move you in the right direction.  Think of life like a maze with many choices and dead ends, you can sit there and spend days analyzing the next best move, you can even study maze dynamics in college, but that does not mean you will finish the maze in the most efficient manner.  God on the other hand, made the maze, knows its every detail and can see it from every angle; he can see the whole maze and its most efficient solution.  So the thing to do is to ask God to show you the most efficient way out of the maze. And the way he does this is through inspiration.  Inspiration is God’s creative energy moving though you, God using you, God playing you as the most beautiful musical instrument that you are.  The goal is to let go and let God make beautiful music through you and the best way for that to happen is for you not to block his energy.  When you feel fearful, that is an energy block, when you feel inspired then it flows.”   –   Aug 1999

There’s a lot more to this paragraph than you might realize.  Definitely more than I realized at the time.  And as crazy as it might seem, everything in that paragraph is totally true.

Wake up callThe Wakeup call

At first I thought wow that’s interesting and I sent it to a few friends via email and said “hey what do you think?”  I got a little positive feed back.  I read it a couple of times and thought, “wow it would be nice to be inspired like that.”  But I had no real idea how to get started.  I was still very much involved with my job. I mean it really intrigued me and appeared to be a door to somewhere but I was not sure where.  But about 3 days later, at about 1am in the morning I was sitting on my bed with my laptop just goofing around, you know, checking emails, browsing some web sites etc and listing to some relaxing music.  (A great way to induce inspiration I would later realize) Then without any plan or intention I opened the paragraph I had written a few days earlier and reread it because I thought it was kind of interesting.

Then a funny thing happened.  Like I said, at the time I had no intention of writing a book. I just thought it was an interesting piece of writing.  I mean, I never considered myself a writer and I have always hated English.  I always thought writing was just words and grammar.  As I read it again, when I got to the end, all of a sudden I felt a strong need to add more. I figured I would just add another paragraph or so, but as I got to the end of that paragraph I felt the desire to write another and another, soon my hands were flying again just like at work when I had written the first paragraph.  I could not stop and I could not write enough.  It was that same pregnant, ‘I can’t get it out fast enough,’ feeling.  So I wrote and wrote and wrote and without stopping I wrote another 14 pages. Time stopped, I lost myself in what was coming though my fingers.  It was amazing! I was being told the answers to all kinds of creative issues.  Soon I stopped and looked at the time and it was 5 in the morning. I had been writing non-stop for 4 hours.  But it felt like only 1 hour.  When I looked once again I was amazed at what I wrote.  I thought, “how did I know this? Where did this come from?” Everything I wrote just seemed to ring true.  I felt I had finally been given the answers I had been seeking all my life about true creative freedom.  Most of what I had written was totally different than what I had been taught about what one needed to do to be happy on this earth.  It was only then after I read what I had written that I started to think “hey this could be a book!”

the phone callThe Miracle Phone Call

Well that was all very interesting but things at work calmed down and soon the drug of good money and all it could buy made me start to forget how much I hated the job. “Hey maybe this job is not so bad after all. I mean, the money is pretty good. Look at how much fun we are having.” I told myself.  So this went on for a few more days, maybe even weeks.  But just when I was ready to give in to that thinking – bam!  Another bad day at work.

I don’t remember the event but energetically it was a repeat of that last storm. Lots of fear, lot’s of stress. Lots of worried phone calls and people running to and fro talking about how the system is down and payments are on hold till it’s fixed. Who’s fault is it?  Blah blah blah. The same ol’ drill. It all came back. Then I knew in my soul that I had had enough and no amount of money was worth this crap.  I decided I didn’t’ care about the money and as much as I loved Canada I had to get out of that job assignment asap, the question was how? See the problem was I couldn’t just quit because we were in the middle of this big government project and if I quit it would have looked bad for my partner, my boss who got me the assignment and my company.  I was really aware of how actions have consequences and I didn’t not want my action of quitting to hurt anyone.

Not knowing what to do, in the middle of that chaos I leaned my head against a brick wall near my desk and prayed. “God, please get me out of this situation right now!”

You would not believe what happened – I mean it was like something straight out of a sci-fi movie! Right at that moment the phone rang. It was surreal, like a phone call from heaven. I looked at the phone and as the chaos spun around it, I slowly walked over, slowly picked up the receiver and in a real curious but scared voice said “hello?”  It was my boss from the consulting company I worked for who had placed me on this assignment. This lady was funny. On the surface she appeared to be real nice but the thing about her was that the more she praised you the worse the news was gonna be.

So she starts: “Will we love you, the client loves you guys, you’re doing an excellent job. We could not have asked for better,” blah blah blah, on and on she goes crescendoing to the climax. “but -”

long pause –

“We’re going to have to let one of you go.”

I could not believe my ears. Was I really hearing what I thought I was hearing?  It was my chance, my one chance to escape and save face.  I grabbed the opportunity faster than you could say “atchafalaya!”

“I’ll go.” I said as quickly as I could.

She was really shocked and surprised at how quickly I responded. Since this was such a golden assignment they were probably thinking it was going to be this painful thing of deciding who should go, me or my coworker Ling.

Once again as soon as I let God know exactly what I wanted, in this case, that I wanted out of this assignment, he made it happen.  This taught me several things. One, that God is real and is definitely in charge of the entire situation. And, that prayers can be answered very very quickly if we really need or want something from the bottom of our hearts.  Which means, there is never really anything to ever worry about!

My boss proceeded to tell me that the client had to cut back and one of us (meaning me or my partner) would have to leave the assignment.  My partner could not believe that I wanted to go.  He couldn’t believe that I would give up, what appeared to be, such a golden assignment.  But now I knew better.

How-to-find-your-Purpose-in-Life3A New Inspired Life

Soon we left Toronto and when I got back to Houston, I eventually quit that job determined to live the life of inspiration I had written about or Dream Power as I eventually called it.  I continue with that journey.  There is a lot more to this story and I have written a movie script called “Plan G” where I dramatize it in a really funny and entertaining way. I am currently novelizing the script so I can share it because who knows if and when it would ever become a movie.

I felt that before I could really share the Dream Power message with others I had to put it all on the line and live it myself.  The whole thing has been like peeling an onion.  I thought I had most of the answers when I wrote those 14 pages, but as I attempted to live my Dream Power I discovered that those 14 pages were but the beginning of a much larger work.  I was only at the door and those 14 pages merely pointed the way.  I have since written, as you can obviously see, much more.  I have discovered that there are many levels and layers to inspiration.  That there is a difference between just knowing about inspiration, finding it and living it.  I am not going to rewrite the book here trying to explain it all to you.  The rest is explained in the book which I now call “The Dream Warriors Handbook” and on this blog. Dream Power has grown a lot from those early days. for more about everything we are doing check out our main site www.MyDreamPower.com

Update January 2014

As we are coming up to the 15th anniversary of that fateful day in Aug of 1999, I thought it would be a good time to give a short update on my life as a Dream Warrior.  Well as I said I wanted to live the Dream Power message myself and I have over the last 15 years. It’ has been extremely rough and really fulfilling at times.  What have I learned? Well I have learned a lot and that is what I write about on this blog and it’s way too much to cover in this paragraph but I would say one of the main things is that God is a very real force in our lives. That you should not, if you can avoid it, do things just for money.  That we must listen to the wisdom of our hearts.  So if something doesn’t feel right, listen to that voice and if something feel right listen to that voice.

What have I accomplished? Well I rediscovered my passion for filmmaking which I had squished way way down. On that note I have written two screen plays, shot a documentary on Dream Warriors called Journey of the Dream Warrior, written about ten film treatments.  Done two narrative short films called Star Kids and a couple documentary short films.  Started a non-profit called the Dream Power Foundation.  Taken at-risk kids to four Cirqu du Soleil shows. Written the Dream Warrior’s Handbook (still working on it though).  Rediscovered my love of music and animation.   Working on a novel called Plan G.  Wrote several short stories including one called The Legends of the Dream Warriors.  I’ve started this blog Dream Warriors, and taught several workshops on Dream Power. I also have a blog about sci-fi and fantasy movies called Movie What! and a filmmaking blog called Dancing with the Light.

Ok well that’s what I have done so far.  The big problem is that money has been a bid issue and problem  from day one. After I quit that job I continued to do software contracts. I started a computer repair business called The Computer Guys which I sold in 2008.  Trying to balance doing my purpose and passion and paying bills continues to be a struggle.  I call this stage living as in living your purpose and I have to say it has been the most challenging of them all.

What went wrong on the journey?

Well a lot has gone wrong.  I have actually been homeless several times. Not on the street homeless (although we got close once) but homeless shelters and transitional housing etc.  I’ve gone totally low income at times too and gotten on welfare and food stamps in the past as well.  I’ve been at both extremes and both have their pluses and minuses. I’ve still have my wife and family but it has been a strain on our family to make this journey.  But all of my kids are very creative and on track to do their passion and purpose. I think some good lessons they learned is to see life in non-materialistic ways and to realize their creative power and that money, while important to our survival as a creative tool, is not the be all and end all of life. Looking back at everything I can’t say I would not do it all again.  Would I have quit that nice job if I had it to do all over again? Yes.  I think doing what I would call enabling work (work that is not stressful and supports your dream) is important. I don’t think it’s good to try to force your dream to support you too early which I did with really crazy results.   But there were many many miracles along the way which shows me that it’s ok to take risks and to fall and to try new things. God has proven to me time and time again that he will catch me when I fall. So I am a lot more fearless now because I have been to that place that so many are afraid to go and I can tell you without a doubt there is really never anything to fear.

The other issue is I have realized that our passion must meet a need in the world. I believe the energy behind our passion knows this.  Ultimately money is love energy. Money is creative energy put into the world in some form.  So it’s important to think how can my passion benefit others?  The more this is the case the more money will come from doing your passion.   Anyway, I will talk about this stuff more on the blog later.

The future:

Well at this point I have decided to embrace my entrepreneurial side. Since financing has been a big problem for most of my ideas, my current plan is to start a start-up incubator called Dream Machine. It will help finance the Dream Power businesses and projects such as the Star Kids Movie.  We will get investors via a fund to invest in these ideas.  I also plan to fully fund the foundation and launch several new non-profit ideas related to Dream Power.  I guess the big theme is funding. I realize ideas are great but we need funding to do them.  2014 is going to be the year Dream Power goes big. My goal is to be able to do this and earn a decent living at the same time without selling out the very values I am trying to teach. Will it work?  Stay tuned! I will be posting updates on the video blog.

Anyway, I hope you find the Dream Power information as helpful and as meaningful as I have. Although I wrote it, the information defiantly did not come from any conscious part of me.  At first I didn’t know where it came from but after several years I have come to the conclusion that it was angelic in nature because that communication continues even today. Not all but many of the writings on this blog were written by that same voice.  All I know is that the information rings true for me and it seems to ring true for others.  It is definitely still a work in progress though.

I have read the book several times for my own benefit, and it has helped me remember my true purpose every time.  I definitely believe that I must get this information out to as many people as I can.  I believe many people could benefit from it.  My challenge has been to stay true to what I have written and not get distracted by fears and the survival concerns of this so-called life.  Let’s just say this whole adventure has been a real eye opener for me.  I hope it will be for you too.

Well that’s my story, if you want to read more about my journey to not just know inspiration but to fully live it, I share everything I know on this blog.  Also, if you have any questions or comments please comment below.   If you have a story about how you awoke to your inspiration I would love to hear it as well. In the meantime, take care!