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Make It All Go Away – Part 1

There are a few things you come to realize when you wake up knowing chronic anxiety is part of your everyday life.  You soon realize that you will never be like “them” again.  By them I mean people who seem “normal” who have never had it out with anxiety or fear.  You will always have an intimate knowledge of what it means to live in fear.  Fear means something different to you than it does to “them.”  It is at this point you have a few choices to make.  You can pray God will “Make It All Go Away,” You can dig into the fight against fear, or You can give in to living a life of fear. None of these choices seem like good ones.  If you were to ask me which one I would choose A) Pray to God He will Make it all go away B) Dig into the fight against fear C) Give in to fear D) None of the above.  I would choose D) None of the above.  I believe I have thought “Make it all go away,” but this was never really a choice for me.  When originally faced with the choice my faith was not in a place where I could pray this kind of prayer.

People, doctors, friends, family members will most likely be at a loss when it comes to giving you advice in this area.  Unless they have personally had it out with fear or anxiety, they will be unable to understand the battle.  Most likely you will be able to tell if they “get it” or not.  As much as they want to help you, they will disappoint you.  Perhaps the best thing they can do is with love, compassionately admit they do not understand.

If you are anything like me, you are left with choice B) Dig into the fight against fear or choice C) Give in to fear.  Here is where I would choose choice D) None of the above.  Many will encourage you to just accept your condition (the fear is a permanent part of your life.)  They do this with a great heart, but they do not truly understand what they are asking you to do.  They do not understand that for you, fear does not stand still.  It only gets worse or gets better.  There is no in between when it comes to fear.

So, here we are…I am not about to just “give in” or “accept my condition.”  This leaves me with the choice to B) Dig into the fight against fear.  What does it really mean to fight against the fear?  I believe the song No Longer Slaves by I AM THEY says it best.Posted on July 30, 2018Categories My StoryTags Edit"Make It All Go Away – Part 1"

The Danger in What You Cannot See

The Danger in What You Cannot See

In my last post, I mentioned the danger often being in things we cannot see.  There is a certain level of risk in everything we do.  Avoiding risk should never be our primary goal.  Learning to take calculated risks and make wise choices is what life is all about.  Without risk there is no reward.  There are proper ways of making decisions which involve evaluating the risk involved, identifying viable alternatives to achieving the goal, and surrounding yourself with people who can speak into your life. In the process making my decision to attend university for Mobile Development, I failed to do all three of the items mentioned above.  I allowed my blind ambition to justify spending an exorbitant amount of money to attend an unproven program at an online university.  There is a time and a place to discuss the high costs of traditional education, but I will table this topic for another post.

What I do want to address is allowing my blind ambition to throw caution to the wind and enroll in a very costly educational institution.  I did all of this without looking for viable alternatives first.  Keep in mind that other educational options such as Treehouse with their TechDegree were not as widespread.  My first mistake was I failed to weigh the risks involved in my online education.  I did not ask the right questions.  I saw an avenue to pursue my dream and I jumped on it.

I also do not want to paint the picture that this particular university program is not good for anyone.  I realize it has its place and will benefit certain people better than others.  I already had a traditional university education and I chose this one regardless.  What I realize now is that a program such as Treehouse would have been a better fit for me personally.

I started using Treehouse after I had been in school for a year and a half.  It got me through many of the courses at university which were in their infancy.  These courses lacked the basic instruction which Treehouse provided.

In the end, I left university because it failed to accomplish my goals at becoming a Mobile Developer.  So here I was with a base level knowledge with no portfolio to show for my work.  I had some of the skills I needed to make mobile applications, but couldn’t tell you where to start.  I had accrued most of the cost of the program which at the time which was about $60,000.

I was able to land a few jobs as a developer, but it had nothing to do with my investment in the university program.  I now had a pile of student loan debt which I had little means to pay for.  One of my positions I convinced my employer to make an app for iOS.  I submitted it to the App Store and it was approved.  My first app was published!Posted on July 22, 2018Categories My StoryTags Edit"The Danger in What You Cannot See"

Putting it All On the Line

Putting it All On the Line

When making life altering decisions, the danger is often not in what you can see, it’s what you can not foresee.  I so desperately wanted to make apps, I believe I was blind to any and all danger just up ahead.  I thank God for protecting me and my family while I chased after a dream.  My dream is still very much alive, but the challenges I can see now in looking back could have done much more damage. Apple had this great encentive program for employees which helped them pay for school and Full Sail Online (FSO) was one of their approved schools.  This was one of the pillars I built my decision on when going back to school.  I could work full-time at Apple while attending university online.  My employee discount was a big help in paying for my computer used for school.  All of my ducks were lining up perfectly, or so I thought.

I already had a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Management.  Many of my courses from the University of Central Oklahoma transferred to FSO which helped me to jump ahead into the program.  I had quite a bit of experience when it came to web development so this also helped me to skip through some of the web development basics.  The other basic courses were pretty solid since they had been taught for many years at FSO.  Early on, I had no doubts about the quality of my education which served to distract me when I should have been paying closer attention.

I was so entrenched into the idea of building apps, and I was getting so close to actually learning about it.  The grueling schedule of an accelerated bachelors degree started to sink in.  I was going to school full-time, working at Apple full-time and doing my best to be both a dad and a husband with my leftovers.  My excitement and ambition had carried me this far, but I did not see many of the hurdles in front of me.

It was merely months into this new adventure and other Mobile Development students were dropping like flies.  This would have been the time to stop, take note, and ask questions to faculty, but I had way too much on my plate.  This and I chalked it up to their lack of programming experience.  I also hated conflict and this seemed to be pretty confrontational, which I avoid as much as possible.

The more I got into the program, the more the program required from me.  I countered this demand with more effort.  This was not the first time my I would use my work ethic to try and solve a problem.  I was a night owl so I figured I would stay up an hour extra each night.  This and I would take less breaks from studying.  I know what you are thinking, just bear with me.

My grades were holding very well and I was convinced my extra work was paying off.  My relationships with my daughter, my wife Kristi, and God all suffered during this time.  I did not want to admit it, but they were getting the short end of the stick.  I justified it by saying this was for a short period of time and it would be over.  This came up a few times in discussions and my solution was to quit working to focus on school.  So I did.  I’ll revisit this later.

Thinking my relationships were more important than my job at Apple, I had good reason to move forward. Or was I asking enough questions?  Things were moving very fast and I was making tough decisions for the good of my family.  I knew leaving Apple would never be fun, I just did not know it would like this.Posted on July 21, 2018Categories My StoryTags Edit"Putting it All On the Line"

The App Store

The App Store

After roughly three years of working at Apple, I could tell this would not last forever.  The grind of retail and the numerous product launches had started to take its toll.  My position as Conceierge at Apple no longer existed and I had explored several other positions within the store.  One of these included being a team mentor which I thoroughly loved. Another was teaching about Apple products as well as repairing iPhones, iPads, and iPods. The App Store had launched and I became enthralled in the world of apps.  Working in an Apple retail store one typically becomes known for something, some specialty.  I soon became known for two things.  One was for helping individuals with accessibility challenges.  I began having people come into the store asking for me by name.  My managers were gracious enough to allow me to spend loads of time investing in this community.  It was an utter joy to see the look on the faces of customers who never knew such things were possible.

It was as if I had given these individuals a new hope where they believed none existed.  I was blessed to connect with so many individuals on such an increadible level.  These individuals yearned to interact with others in ways people without accessibility challenges can not appreaciate.

Another thing I became known for at Apple was for my knowledge of apps in the App Store.  The week of July 10, 2008 was one of the most exciting weeks I can remember while working at Apple.  I was hooked on apps and I could hardly keep up with what apps had been released in the App Store.  Not only that, but my church, Life.Church, had released YouVersion, the Bible app, as one of the first apps in the App Store.

The Bible was now available to download for free on my iPhone.  At the time, I knew this was big, but I had no idea how big it would prove to be.  As I began this journey into apps, I began to see a new path for my life.  I desperately wanted in on this world Apple called the App Store, but how? What do I do to get started?  Could I one day work at YouVersion?

This year would prove to be a turning point of sorts for my life.  I knew the field where I wanted to work, now I just needed to gain some experience.  Since I worked at Apple, I was not allowed to publish any apps in the App Store.  So I knew this would involve leaving Apple or working directly for Apple making apps.

In 2011, I began pursuing my dream of building apps by attending Full Sail University Online.  I started as one of the few(there were approximately 16 of us) new Mobile Development Bachelor of Science students.  The program was completely new to the university and one of the few in the United States at the time.  I knew the road ahead would be tough, but it is what I did not know which would proven to derail my career in Mobile Development.Posted on July 20, 2018Categories My StoryTags Edit"The App Store"

My Apple Family

My Apple Family

So, praying helped to ease my rocking, praise Jesus! But now what do I do?! How do I get back on my feet?  What does it look like when I get there?  Prior to this point it took all of me to make it through the day.  I was not used to thinking about anything else.  The highlight of my week was making it to church each Saturday.  It still is, but that was all I had at the time.  My wife Kristi and my Mom were taking care of me, making sure I took my meds, and trying their best to understand. I was making it out of the house, taking walks around the block, but what else should or could I do at this point?  What hope did I have of leading a “normal” life?  Do people recover from OCD and anxiety?  I had many questions and different people had different answers to my questions.  Some people would not answer my questions, no matter how subtle they were.  Some were quick to tell me that I needed to accept my condition and adjust accordingly.

Adjust accordingly…I tried my best to figure out what this meant for me personally.  I tried my hand in Real Estate, thinking I could set my own schedule and make a decent living.  It was something I really thought I would enjoy and I did, but 2007-2008 was not the time to try to break into life as a realtor.  It was one of the worst financial markets of our time.  After one year of being a realtor, I broke even financially and decided to look elsewhere for a career, but where?

I was often reading job postings hoping to find something when one day I stumbled onto an ad to work for Apple retail stores.  On a whim, I applied online and soon forgot about it.  This wouldn’t be my first time to apply online and never hear a word back from a company.  It was late in the year when I received a call from Apple about a position I had applied for months ago.  I was eager for anything, so I went on 3-4 interviews before landing a position with Apple.  I was new to Apple products, only having a MacBook Pro for six months prior to working there.

My training class was delayed several times which got me excited and left me hanging.  Would this actually happen?  It was around the first of a new year when my training class finally started.  We began training in the basement of the mall where the Apple store was located.  I never knew this mall even had a basement.  The trainers where oddly excited about Apple culture and what it meant to work for Apple retail.  I spent a couple of weeks in training which oddly enough did not involve being in the retail store.  What type of retail job was this?!  I was no stranger to working retail. What company in their right mind invests this much in their employees?

My time at Apple was more than merely a job.  It allowed me to briefly forget about the whole concept of a job.  I had the amazing privilege of helping people each and every day.  It was a job in the sense that I had an obligation to show up when I was scheduled to work.  I got paid…check!  I received a lunch break each day which I would spend escaping a bit from the busyness of the store.  The escape was different at Apple though, it was merely time to rest, eat, etc.  It was not time spent avoiding the work I was doing or needed to be doing.  My breaks were highly valued, but my work was not detestable either.  I enjoyed it plain and simple.

In my time working at Apple I do not recall a single time having issues with my anxiety.  I remember hustling to get to work, ready to leave at the end of the day, but nothing which I was unable to handle.  I believe this as a time when God smiled down at me.  It was not perfect by any means. I had frustrations with my job and with other people, but for a brief time I did not need to look or think of looking for work.  The pay was not fantastic, but it was not the lowest in my lifetime either.  My benefits were solid, rock solid.

I loved my time at Apple.  I knew it would not last forever, but my feet seemed to be on solid ground for once.