Friday, September 28, 2012

Roller Rink

A few weeks ago I was invited to go to the roller rink.  A man in our church was gathering some people there for a surprise birthday party for his wife.  I have not been on roller skates for many years but I was game.  It was nice to be included in this gathering.  Often times, I just need to be asked to do something and I am willing.

It must have been over 5 years since I laced up skates.  I went with the traditional variety, not the roller blades.

Once out on the rink, it all came back to me.  The music was fun and the physical exertion got me going.

There were a lot of young kids there with their parents.  I felt bad that a number of them were struggling to keep any forward momentum and were falling down a lot.  Even more difficult was to see that kid who went to the side and decided not to keep trying.

We as a culture are so against failing.  If we can't do it right away, we count it as a fail.  We want to be dignified and together.  Let me say this:  when at a roller rink, you can't keep your dignity.  You must try and it will take some physical effort to keep going.  We are all making slips and adjustments.  Enjoy the music.  Be happy and smile.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

All thumbs in the kitchen

This weekend I was listening to a podcast where the host mentioned that he couldn't boil water.  However his wife was a chef when it came to meal preparation.  It was yet another area that I identified with him.

I can make a sandwich, put the coffee on, and make a salad.  I have not been one who can put together a dish.  There are too many details and ingredients.  The recipe calls for things I have never heard of and then there is the whole measuring challenge.  I have noticed that when it comes to food, I like to eat it, but I get sleepy when it comes to assembling a dinner.

My contribution in the kitchen is clean-up and putting things away.  Although I don't relish getting my hands into the sink and scrubbing used dishes and utensils, I do it out of a sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tell me about yourself

Yesterday, I was at a career fair.  When talking to company reps, it is helpful to have a short introduction speech.  Here is what I had to say when asked, "Tell me about yourself".

Hello, my name is Keith Kemp.  My target area for my job search is Appleton and Fox Cities.  I would like to work with a small to medium sized, privately owned company, which has $10-50 million in sales.

The jobs that I am exploring are Business Manager, Contract Management, and Technical Services.  I am administrative in nature and have a Bachelors in Business Administration.  I like to process my work efficiently and keep everything up-to-date.  My preference is to work behind the scenes and keep out of the spot light.  I am comfortable on the computer but also need to move around some and be active.  I enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and travel.  I also like to have a certain amount of routine and predictability so I can improve incrementally.  

In the past, I worked as an Inside Sales Rep selling Cisco hardware and services.  I was at CDW for a short time and Convergys for 6.5 years.  CDW was a Chicago based company and I quickly realized that they weren’t my people.  While at Convergys, I was Inside Service Sales Representative of the year.  There were about 100 people on the program at the time and I won the award by consistently hitting my numbers.  Convergys was a good experience but I don’t want to go back to a call center environment.  Soft sales would be acceptable as I like the opportunity to earn incentives.  

I have organizational skills, computer skills, problem solving skills, creative thinking, and effective communication as well as interpersonal skills.  I am available immediately.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Traveling to Tennessee vs. Traveling Home

This past weekend I was in Brentwood Tennessee for the Quitter Conference.  My travels on the way down were markably different than my travels on the way home.

When I was getting prepared for the trip, I put into Google Maps my location and where I was headed.  For options, I selected "no tolls".  It had me going through Chicago on a straight south direction.  Some of the roads were not interstate but I was okay with that.  I wrote out my directions onto a piece of paper and brought it along.  For the first few hours of the trip, I knew where I was going and didn't consult my scribbles.

When I went through Chicago, I went onto highway 41 and I was surprised at how bumpy the road was.  There were also traffic lights on this route.  Eventually I got up on interstate 90 and 94 but even at 7:30 PM on a Thursday night, there was a traffic jam in downtown Chicago.  I could not believe the number of people on the roads at that hour.

As I went further on my trip, I stubbornly stayed to my written plan from Google Maps.  I remember getting lost at least three times where I had to double back and take a different direction to get back on track.  One time, I made a mistake and didn't take the left like I had written and ended up on some very narrow, very bumpy farm roads.  This was on the Illinois and Indiana boarder.  I really felt like I was wasting time.  I tried to breath and relax and recalculated my estimated time that I would arrive.

Getting to Brentwood was probably 13 hours.  But getting home was less as I didn't consult my notes and went interstate really most of the way.  It can also be scenic with needed rest stops.  When you are driving by yourself, without a navigator, it is also probably the safest.

I should have used the GPS on this trip for both ways as it would have saved me time and aggravation.  Google Maps wasn't wrong in the directions they gave me.  Their directions just involved so many smaller highways with numbers and places I wasn't familiar with that it wasn't the best choice.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quitter Conference

This last weekend I went to Jon Acuff's Quitter Conference in Brentwood Tennessee.  Jon is an excellent communicator.  He speaks well, naturally, and with relevence and humor.  I never sensed that he lost his place or felt uncomfortable.  As an audience member, I trusted Jon's message and believed what he had to say.  He gave inspiration by relating stories of his own or from other people who are going through the process of discovering their dream.  He also gave practical advise by giving step by step ways to deal with things like fears. 

There ended up being more to this conference than I first thought.  I was expecting speakers and some opportunity to network.  The event unexpectedly provided a free watch, a free t-shirt, a band on Friday night, but also more content then I expected.

Attending the event required a long drive for me.  I was on the road 12 hours to get there.  There were the usual costs of gas, hotel, and food.  It was also time away from home and my normal routine.  Yet, it was worth it.  I would recommend Jon Acuff to anyone no matter what stage of life you are in at the moment.  He has excellent material and I consider him a rising star.  We will be hearing more of Mr. Acuff in the years ahead.  Become a fan while he is still early in his career.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A jumble of contradictions

At times I feel like I am a jumble of contradictions that will never get straightened out.  As soon as I tell someone I am one way, I realize that I am just the opposite way at times.

For instance, I like meeting new people.  At least I tell myself that.  However, I almost go out of my way to avoid having to be around people.  Another example is that I tell people I don't want to be locked down in an office.  Yet, there is a part of my heart that wishes I could just work from home on my computer.  At times, I want to travel and be out there but other times I want to be at home.  On some days, I'll tell people that I would like to have my own business.  But then the very next day, I'll go to my states government job site and look for a job with the hope of finding "security".

I am not sure if this is me being indecisive or if a person can truly have strong feelings that seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Forgive me if I appear to be a jumble of contradictions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's like having a new phone

I purchased a Logitech h250 headset with mic this past weekend at Office Max.  It is one computer add-on that I never really thought about purchasing.  The headset is a little tight but there is a wonderful side benefit to having this item:  it's like I have a new phone.  My computer, the headset with mic, and Google Voice are all that is needed to make free calls through the internet.

To get it to work, I have to go to Gmail in the browser.  There is a small phone icon in the chat to the left.  I simply click the phone icon and a dial pad shows up on the right.  So far, I have called two people and they both said I sounded just fine.  No delay and no flutter.  No charge either, but I will keep my eyes open for that.  I think I had to sign up for Google+ to enable the dialing to work.  Anyway, it is pretty cool to think that I can dial out from my computer.  Now I need to figure out how I can receive calls through Google Voice on my computer.  That will be an experiment for later.

I love little upgrades and discoveries like this one.  There is something very satisfying about finding something useful like this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meeting new people

I like meeting new people.

One thing about a past office job was that as the years went by there were less and less new people to meet.  The program was losing more people then it was gaining.  On top of that the better people were leaving and the people arriving were less desirable.

I eventually worked at home and felt rather excluded and forgotten.  At first, I thought that I'd be coming into the office once per week for meetings and to check in.  However, any idea of bringing in the work-at-home folks was quickly forgotten.  I even asked my team lead if I could come in and she responded that she wouldn't know where to put me as all the cubes were filled.  I was surprised at her response because it seemed so different from the original plan.  It left me wondering if anyone remembered me.

When I meet new people I like to let my light shine into their lives.  I like to find something about them that inspires me to do something that I may forgotten recently.  Or maybe I can uncover something in their life that is totally new to me but is a great idea.

In the future, I hope that I can have more opportunity to mix it up with new people.  New people keep things fresh and alive.

Monday, September 17, 2012

My first 10k

Saturday I ran in the Bear Creek Kraut Run 10k.  It was my first 10k and I survived it.

Friday evening I drove up to the Bear Creek Community Center to pay my entrance fee and to pick up my packet.  The fee was $25.  The packet seemed a little skimpy to me.  It contained a cheep flashlight, a BioFreeze, 2 water bottles, a lip balm, and a can of sauerkraut.  The t-shirts had not arrived yet but I picked mine up on Saturday.

I prepared for this run by jogging 2 to 3 miles three times per week throughout the summer.  For the last few days, I had increased my water intake.  The night before, I laid out my clothes.  I attached my number to the shirt I would be wearing.

Saturday I drove to Bear Creek.  Coincidentally, I took a back route and actually drove 2 or more miles of the race.  I saw the markers, signs, and aid stations along the road.  This helped as it gave me an idea of the course.

I arrived about 7:50 AM, parked my Ranger, and took the fob off my keychain and put it into my pocket.  There were people milling about at the park where the race was to start.  A few speakers were set up and music was playing (rap, which does nothing for me).  I headed to the outhouses to empty out one last time.

By then, it was about ready to start.  I tried to find a few other people with the same color number as I had, which indicated that they were 10k racers.  My concern was that I would not know the route to take and somehow get lost.  The last song played over the speakers was by Europe and it was "The Final Countdown", which I like.  The race got started on time.  The 5k and the 10k racers all started together.

As I was running my first mile I was in a small group.  I talked with a big guy next to me.  He was from Clintonville Fire and Rescue, which was the beneficiary of the race.  He was running the 5k and said I'd have no trouble with knowing where to run.  We split up later down the road as he was going at a faster clip.

I brought my iPod Nano along for music and distraction but it ended up being a burden to carry.  The ear buds kept falling out.  I would try to jam them in my ear and twist them but I could not even make it through one song.  My shopping list now includes over-the-ear type ear buds.  Another extra burden was my wallet which I forgot to leave behind.

At around mile 4 my left leg was started to hurt.  Not joint or bone but muscle I think and just in a general way.  The pain never went away but I had to push through it.  As soon as I was done with the race, the pain stopped.

When I run, I like to repeat Bible verses in my head that will help me.  "The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul."  " I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  " The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe."

When I got back to town, the people in front of me were out of sight.  They had turned on the burners and finished well ahead of me.  But that left me wondering if I was running the right route.  I did not want to cheat.  Later, I asked another runner who finished right behind me and he confirmed that we ran it completely.

After finishing, at 63 minutes and 4 seconds, I grabbed a banana and walked around for a while.  I got my time and watched others finish.  I stayed around for another half hour as winners were announced.  The winner of the 10k came in at 38 minutes plus a few seconds, so I was way off the winning mark.

My goal was to finish and not to stop or walk.  So I consider the event a success.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Playing games in the interview

This week I had a face to face interview with a company that is locally based and respected.  The lady I was suppose to meet in the lobby was not there and I called her but got her voice mail.  After waiting 5 minutes wondering if I had blown it, a man came down the elevator and introduced himself.  He explained that the woman I was scheduled to meet with was unavailable and he had been chosen to interview me.

When I was brought upstairs and into the side office I was guided to an office chair to sit in.  The manager excused himself to get some papers.  When I actually sat down, the chair was super low.  I attempted to adjust it upward but the mechanism was locked.  I tried to find the right lever to release but still nothing.  I thought of exchanging the straight backed chair behind me as it was higher.  I would like to tell you that I went with this inclination but I decided to stay in my chair.  I saw that they were playing a game.

The interviewer came back quickly and he and I were not at eye level.  I was low in my seat and uncomfortable with the arrangement.  My knees where above my waist and when I put my arms on the desk they were practically at my chin.

I saw this as the company playing games.  They wanted to give the message that they were in charge and that I was not.  I understand the whole manager and employee relationship.  However, I do not like to be put into a situation where I am not on equal footing.  I already had some mis-givings about this company and the job they were hiring for.  The chair being so low and what that represented did not make me feel any better about them or what work they had.

Have you experienced companies playing games like the one described above?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saying the truth is not being negative

A number of times I have been accused of being negative.  It surprises me when I hear that from others that I care about.  Let me explain to you why I am not negative.

I am observational.  I view things, pass them through my filters of experience and understanding, and reflect what I think is reality.  My goal is to be truthful and to communicate as accurately as I can what is really going on.  My intention is not to cut someone or something just to be mean.  In fact, what I am attempting to do is to gauge the situation correctly.

My goal in life is not "fun at all costs", laugh at everything, and hurt people by letting them think what they are doing has no meaning or consequence.  I think many others lead their lives with little care for people and truth.  I don't.  I want people to live the very best that they can.  Sometimes that means they need to know things that may make them uncomfortable and require change.

I like to have fun but satisfaction is more important to me.  Part of being internally satisfied is doing things correctly and accurately.  So I may say things that are deemed negative when in fact I am trying to reflect the truth.

Before you accuse someone of being negative, consider that he or she may just want the best for people.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shame and Fear

It has been said that we are motivated by shame and fear.  Over the last several months I have been in this process of finding meaningful work that pays well.  When people have asked, I have said that I am an Active Job Seeker.  Honestly, that is getting old.  However, it does lessen the feeling of shame to say it that way rather than "I am unemployed".  Sometimes, I am sure I hold back in conversations because I do not want to be asked that unimaginative question, "what do you do?"  Avoiding talking to my neighbors is also in some manner shame working itself out.

Ironically, the feeling of fear I now have is less than when I was employed.  I am not so afraid of people coming to take things from me because I only make payments on my house, and we have that covered for some time yet.  Really, I don't own a lot of things.  When I was working at my last two jobs over seven years, I was often gripped by a strong feeling of fear.  It felt like I could be fired at any moment.  I never seemed to get a straight answer from management on how I was doing.  If they gave me a favorable answer, I wasn't sure if they were holding back or shooting straight with me.  There were many times when an issue or error with the quoting tool was twisted to make it look like I was incompetent.  I was made to look bad because the tools we worked with were so awful.  Instead of fixing the tools, they choose to take it out on us.

So funny enough, I actually am living fairly free of shame and fear.  This could well explain why I would like to find my own customers and start a service to them as working at a traditional job has caused some shame and certainly fear.  I know that I can manage myself well.  It is finding that income stream.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Number one follower

This week I was in a class setting and the place was packed.  Every chair was taken.  After the class started, a woman walked in late, and she didn't have a seat.  The instructor said that one of the men better give up his.  I jumped to my feet and allowed her to take my place in the back row.  What I didn't know was that there was one more chair in the room but it was the teachers.  The student was hoping to use that one but she took mine quietly.  Then the instructor gave me his and I sat up against the back wall.  He called me out in a good way and asked the women in class a rhetorical question, "what do you women think of Keith?"

On the surface this seems like I was doing a good thing.  Yet, upon reflection, I realize that nothing has changed in me.  I had an urge in my heart to offer the woman my seat but it took the leading of the instructor to get me to act.  I wasn't leading.  I was following.  I waited until I was told what to do.  After being asked, I took action.  Leaders do the right thing in the first place.  I was just being a good follower.

The women in the class commented that I was nice and all.  But that too is another indicator that nothing has changed in me.  My goal is not to be nice.  The Bible does not tell us to be nice.  I should have acted on the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  My heart was telling me to give up my seat and I responded by sitting there secretly telling her that she should have come earlier.  How's that for being "nice"?  I should have been leading, acting, taking initiative, and doing it with humility.  And that is not what I was doing.  We are told in scripture that even our righteous acts are like filthy rags in Gods sight.  I think that apply's here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What I want my life to say

Stay out of debt.  Keep your freedom.  Pick up your stuff and keep things neat.  Love the Lord and obey Him.  Take care of the temple He has given you.  Stay married.  Buy quality.  Live simply.  Keep learning.  Give generously.  Respect nature.  Travel every chance you get.

Am I the only one who wants my life to say something?

Friday, September 7, 2012

What brings joy to my heart

Garages:  I like seeing a new exterior garage go up on someones property.  It thrills me to think about putting everything away in the new storage building.
Mowing the lawn:  I feel good once the lawn is trimmed and cut.  I like putting my signature on the outside.
Water:  I love swimming.  I love using water to clean things off.  I love viewing water and listening to it moving.  I love being on water boating and flowing with the current.
Updated email & software:  Getting all my emails read and processed and software updated to the latest version brings joy to my heart because I like the feeling of being caught up.
Balanced checkbook:  My checkbook is balanced to the penny and that makes me feel good.
Check list:  I am happy when I see my to-do list with everything checked off.
Finding a deal:  I love finding a deal, preferably on-line.  I like big discounts and the right product for the right situation.  Free shipping is also wonderful.
Listening to music:  I like turning on the radio or pulling up a YouTube video of a performance.  Music can be very inspiring and it touches me in a way nothing else can.
Being there:  I like getting invited to events or happenings.  Especially events where showing up is really the only requirement.  I like to be myself and I like to give my love by being present.
Wildlife spotting:  When I see an animal moving around outside, I love to share my discovery with those I am with.

These are somethings that bring joy to my heart.  What brings joy to your heart?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I have noticed that I have some knack at editing.  I am not perfect but I seem to see things that others don't.  Like I will see an extra space in a sentence on someones resume and I will tell them about it.  Or I will read through a document and words misspelled with a red underline will get my attention and I use the Control-Click combination to select the right word.  Doing so is almost impulsive.  Sometimes the words on the overheads at church will be misspelled and I want to get into the sound booth and correct them.  There is a local park that recently was updated with new placards but those displays had many misspellings on them.  It really irritates me that people could not have done a better job at getting the words right.

It is important to me that words are spelled correctly and sentences look orderly.  Something is triggered inside me to do something about words that are not quite right.  Editing then is something I believe I can do for others as I can work quietly on the computer and it is something I enjoy.

Do you know some place that could use my editing skills?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Is "giving your all" really a formula for success?

The advise, "Give it your all" seems on first hearing it like a reasonable demand for winning and being the best.  However, giving it all in any one area of life will quickly lead to imbalance and lots of failure in other important areas of life.  If I were to "give my all" to being good at financial management when would I have time to actually earn money?  Or if I were to "give my all" to my physical well being, when would I have time to spend with my family?  In the same way, giving my all at work or giving my all for my career only leads to imbalance in other areas of life.  At first, it seems so right.  But when did career become the most important thing?  Why is our job the one area of life were we can spend an inordinate amount of time and yet still have people's admiration and approval?  Work is just work and our jobs are just our jobs.  They will come and go, as will the title and the money.  I don't believe that giving my all means I have to give away my entire time to my career.  In fact, I think I can be very productive in a short period of time and free up even more time for those other areas of life that tend to get overlooked.

Have you noticed an imbalance when you have "given it your all" to one area of you life?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

People I don't like to be around

I find it is difficult to be around some people because they take a lot of energy out of me.  My senses are constantly aware of all sorts of things in them, like their words, actions, and attitudes, due to how I monitor and observe.  People who constantly swear, who have poor speaking habits, who do not care about their appearance, who habitually blame others, putting others down, not telling the truth, and not taking responsibility for their own lives are examples of people who are draining.  I don't like being around people who only talk about wild times, parties, drugs consumed, and beverages drank.  Excessive talk about sports and sport stars can also be tiresome.  Someone who is in need of always being number one and keeping a packed schedule can make me feeling little and this feels tiresome too.

Who do you not like to be around?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cooling off to LinkedIn

Over the last week or so I have noticed that I have been cooling off to LinkedIn.  In the past, I kept a tab open for LinkedIn and refreshed the page every few hours or when I noticed an update.  Now, I get on LinkedIn, check the few things I always do, and close the page for the day.  I think I am growing weary of the site because many of the people on there are way too put together.  They are corporate, they have the titles, and the amazing picture.  Competing with them is nearly impossible.  The other thought is that I have joined an on-line group called Free Agent Academy and they emphasized independent business ownership.  I find owning a micro-business very attractive and inspiring.  LinkedIn emphasizes the traditional job.  Linear income is not what I am after.  I much prefer residual income.  A last reason that LinkedIn has become boring to me is that other people do not update their profiles.  They do not add a picture, their job history is out of date, and they never join in conversation.  I wish more people would get themselves involved and be pro-active about their on-line professional profile.

I have spent a lot of hours on this website.  I have updated my profile and I have tried to jump in and provide some help for others.  Now maybe the time to let it go as it is not providing the return that I was looking for.

Are you using LinkedIn?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Attendance at church

I believe attending services at a Bible church very important.  For one reason, God has told us to.  In Hebrews 4:24-25 it says "Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together".  When we obey God we are living our lives in a manner that says that we love Him.  Later in verse 25 it mentions we are to come together for "exhorting one another".  Exhorting is to strongly encourage someone.  We can't do that on our own.  We are also to come together as a group to present ourselves to the Lord.  It is also a public testimony of our faith in God.  We vote with our feet after all.  We also praise the Lord through song corporately, we have the chance to give out of our increase, and we can grow in our faith by hearing the Word preached.

It bothers me how people who attend church for a while will just drop out and never say anything to me.  I am left wondering if they are no longer believers (in that case, I should warn them) or if they are assembling with believers elsewhere.  It also bothers me when people leave church for petty reasons.  Someone supposedly said something that miffed them or the pastor got hot under the collar at a board meeting.  Aren't we suppose to love people through their faults and forgive them?

Attending church on a regular basis is of high importance to me.  When others attend my church it boosters my faith and I am encouraged.  People need to realized that their presents and absence does have an affect on me.

Do you attend church?  Why or why not?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Not much of a winter fan

We are seeing changes in the outdoors here in Wisconsin.  It is getting darker earlier, leaves are just starting to change colors, and the temps have become more mild.  Football is coming soon and so is school.

Fall only means one thing.  Summer is over and winter is not far behind.  That whole realization is not something that really lifts me.  I am not much of a winter fan.

Winter activities are not something that I participate in.  I do not snowmobile, ski, ice fish, or ice skate.  When I think about it, I really just shovel snow and try to get inside as quickly as possible.  Being indoors with few chances to get outside for 6 months seems like a lot of wasted opportunity.

I don't like to be cold.  I could live with 33 degrees but 20 below zero is tough to deal with.

If you like winter, what do you find appealing?