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Where am I?

So here I am, 31 years old and thinking (which I do often). Not so much about the future..which is my usual realm of rumination. No, today, I decided to stew around and think about where I am (metaphorically) in my life as of today. Right now, I think I’m in a bit of a pit-stop of my life, with no real earth shattering goals that need to be completed in the next 3 months or pressing needs. I’m actually – for the moment – being still. My mother still doesn’t believe it.

And can I just say..it feels nice. Especially when I actually take the time to appreciate the fact that there are no fires to put out. Sooo while I’m here ..in a space of life where I’m not on the fast track, and am forced to practice patience while things line up for the next opportunity I thought it would be nice to take a look around at my life and take stock. Do a self-inventory. Investigate the state of my union ..with myself or something.

So this post is more for me than for you..as, actually this whole blog is.

So the easiest area to kind of take mental stock of ..is financially. So why wait! Lets jump right in..

1.Net Worth: 10,696.15

This number is actually super surprising to me. For most (I mean..all) of my adult life, my net worth has been in the negatives. This was a pleasant surprise and mostly due to some rise in the (perceived) property values. I generally hover around the negative and looks like I crossed into positive land on March 16, 2016. What a milestone. Only around 990,000 in order to make it into millionaire territory. Oh, why was it previously in the negative? Student loans silly. Stop playing.

2. Relationships

Relationships have traditionally been an area of weakness. Or just a consistent area of neglect. However, you like to look at it. The last couple years have seen me place an increased emphasis on making time for friends and cultivating new friendships with people I consider knowing. I think the change in priority has made itself apparent. I have a much more focused and rewarding group of friends. One of the biggest problems I have in this area is that one of my best friends is a ex. smh. So sometimes, I feel like that person asks a bit more than a regular friend might. Which, honestly, may be good for me..I can be a bit selfish.

3. Goals

I still have a healthy set of goals. And a 6 page 10 year plan. (Really exists.) But the nature of the goals I’ve set..or at least what I’m willing to do to chase those goals require a short period of time of focused patience while resources come to into alignment. Right now, one of my big projects (which may be over the initial hurdles) was the creation of a ebook and website [EscapingRetail] specifically for pharmacists. I find that many pharmacists get stuck in career ruts, often because of “golden handcuffs” or creating a lifestyle that doesn’t allow them the flexibility to pursue other options. Also, many of us move into the community setting and don’t have a strong idea of how to move from one setting to another. I originally had the idea to write a book that would pass on my experience in these areas. I finished the book in February and have since been building the website and working on creating content for the website. The content that is pending includes interviews with pharmacists who have successfully made the transition into other fields of practice. I’m both excited and wondering if I signed up for a much bigger project than I expected.

4. Career

Ah, Career. Right now, It’s a good spot, and Lord willing remains in a good spot for a while. I do want to step up my game and get board certified by the beginning of 2017 or late 2016 depending on how other goals move along. I see some changes coming down the pipeline at the institution where I currently practice. I think it would behoove me to make sure that I’m ahead of whatever changes will occur. So keep me honest huh? Remind me that I need to be BCPS by spring 2017! Thanks. No really, I appreciate it.

On the investing front – I’m currently paying off rehab loans and expenses incurred by my first deal. So I’m in a holding pattern as I just watch house prices rise. Loving watching certain areas of town blossom though.

So ..all in all. I’m feeling pretty good about where I am at the moment, although I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I really just thank God for his grace and my parents for their hard work. *points out into crowd* Here’s to better years ahead!

-OFO

 

 

 

 

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Beating Mr. Tonberry

Have you ever played Final Fantasy VII?

What about any 90’s RPG?

No? shame.

Why do I ask you ask? Only because I wanted to launch into a extended metaphor that related Final Fantasy to how I lived my life for a long time. You don’t mind hearing about it you say? In that case, sure, I’d be delighted to share.

Final Fantasy, if your not aware, is a role playing game or RPG. And as you would assume, it allows you to play the role of a heroic character (in this case – Cloud) and proceed through this video game land and storyline where you meet amazing friends who are willing to pick up arms and fight against villains that are both evil and awe-inspiring in their own right.

So, first off, let me just admit that I learned entirely too much about life from video games. For example, I’m convinced that the driver’s license tests in Gran Turismo taught me to be the amazing driver that I am today (ignore the moving violations on file at the DMV).

Likewise, Final Fantasy VII (FFVII), taught me certain lessons, that I, for better or worse, applied haphazardly to my life. For instance, there are areas of the game where you can kind of loiter and fight whatever random minor bad guys are hanging around. The purpose of this is of course to raise your stats in order to make fighting the Big Boss of whatever stage easier to conquer. This method works perfectly for a great percentage of the game, although it can lead to an overall longer time spent playing the game before beating it. I’m naturally, i think, a bit obsessive. So I would spend hours in these fighting fields. I would always seek to gain just a bit more experience (exp) , strength, magical ability or other stats that I would be sure would help me later on. My brother, would have to urge me to be more balanced, and go ahead and move ahead in the storyline.

For some reason, this method seemed to be good mental model to apply to my life for a time. I would look at my life as a RPG. College was Big boss #1. The library was my killing zone. I would spend hours in the library, wrestling with ideas and concepts. Stacking my exp points and trying to beat the stage. After a relationship that almost derailed my plan for my life; I learned to only superficially commit to other people. I would only give enough to withdraw whatever it was I needed from the interaction. I didn’t do this malevolently or totally unwilling to give back. I think, however, it was a bit more calculated than I’m comfortable admitting.

After learning that a large percentage of people couldn’t be trusted to have my best interest at heart, I refocused on my goals and comforted myself with the idea that like RPG’s this current sacrifice would prove worth it on the tail end. And it did. I beat that Boss. College was conquered, then graduate school, and residency. Interviews were approached methodically and before I knew it, I was at my dream job. Seemingly, beating the game.

But..

In FFVII, there was a particularly spooky character that always seemed unaffected by how much I trained. This character’s attacks were actually stronger the longer you had played, and one of his attacks was a one-stroke guaranteed death sentence. This character’s name was Master Tonberry, and while he wasn’t technically a big Boss he was the reason why I had to use save point’s on many an occasion. It seemed that no matter how much I trained, his health and attacks only grew proportionally. Defeating him wasn’t something that I could train for. There were no pre-Tonberry bad guys who could prepare me for him. No side quests that would give me insight into how to beat him. My previous experiences did not help, and in some cases hurt me. (There was a time attack  that he used that was more powerful the longer you had played the game. His time attack = [(Hours played *100) + minutes played]…don’t ask me how I know that… Nerd Alert!)

This year I’m 31. I can’t remember the last time I held a controller in my hands, and the luxury of hours spent in front of a gaming system is laughable. And perhaps, not even something I would enjoy any longer.

Here I am, decades later. A couple Big Bosses conquered, but somewhat unprepared to face a different type of challenge. The emotional and spiritual challenges that must be conquered in order to move from a me-centered, goal-oriented, successful career person to a human being able to take care of hearts and wanting to build a family around values that don’t depreciate and can’t be written off on taxes. How does one move from a self-centered life (even one lauded by corporate america) to a life where one may be required to choose peace over being right?

I don’t have the answers just yet..Just the questions and a desire to find the answer. Best of luck to us all as we fight our Mr. Tonberry’s.

..And Mom thought video games were a waste of time. ha!

OFO

 

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God is a poet.

God is poet.

“How do I figure?” you ask?

“Easy. Heartbreak.”

See, Love I get. Love makes sense. In order to get two people to commit to each other for a long period of time, love might be necessary. To get us to take a crazy risk that involves the rest of our time together on earth, love of course has to exist.

But heartbreak?

Heartbreak is the work of a poet extraordinaire. Heartbreak seems physical. Heartbreak waxes and wanes but stays close, ready to remind you of her presence in the universe like a overprotective older sister.

Heartbreak can push you into the darkness. Or it can motivate you to scratch and claw your way to a brighter tomorrow. Heartbreak is the ultimate chameleon. It might start out as anger, then morph into sadness, melancholy, regret, and finally (if your lucky)..acceptance.

Heartbreak demands patience. There is no rushing ahead of it. Not without repercussions. Heartbreak is a taskmaster. A sullen teacher that demands attention. If we’re smart pupils, we listen. We stop rushing around. We put ourselves first. We break out the first aid kit. and maybe some chocolate.

Heartbreak comes for us all at some point. We can either crumble under the weight of it, or use it. Accept it’s presence. It’s weight. The lessons it holds. Pushing against it daily, patiently, slowly, doing our best.

Imperceptibly, our muscles will grow. Our hearts will heal. And one day we’ll wake up, and find ourselves stronger than we were before.

God is a poet.

-OFO

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Podcast Review: Timothy Ferriss: 5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win The Day

I love listening to Timothy Ferriss (who doesn’t?). His podcast is one that i often frequent. His unique viewpoint that is a mixture of aggression, intellectual curiosity, and practical tactician insight is intriguing to listen to. His podcasts usually consist of him interviewing world-class performers and deconstructing their habits, thought processes, and viewpoints in the hope of distilling wisdom that can be disseminated to his followers.

This particular podcast was a bit different. This actually is like some of his earlier podcasts that were in the format of short to medium essays  that addressed specific topics. In this podcast Tim (Can I call you that? Thanks.) talks about some morning rituals that help him to effectively get a mental head-start on the day.

I think we all instinctively can appreciate the value of rituals. Not rituals in the sense of slitting rabbit’s throats and painting 6 pointed stars on the ground although I’m sure there were reasons for those. (At least I hope not).  But rituals in the sense of repetitive behaviors performed in situations where the outcome is uncertain in order to reduce anxiety, and induce a feeling of control.

However, if your not feeling very instinctual here’s some science: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/

Timothy outlines the benefits of his morning rituals which consist of 5 activities:

  1. Making the bed
  2. Meditation
  3. Making Tea
  4. Spinal decompression via gravity boots
  5. Keeping a Journal

Couple thoughts on each:

Making the bed: I do a horrible job of this. It feels like I actually make the bed more messy after I wake up. But I can speak to the sense of peace that a made up bed gives me when I stroll back into the room later on in the day. I’m going to make an effort to do this for a week.

Meditation: I’ve been struggling with integrating meditation into my daily practice for some years now. The method I usually use is focusing on my breath for around 10 minutes – especially when my mind is especially chaotic. Which is very American. Very prescriptive after the fact, instead of taking more of a preventative position. I think in order for the changes that I want to make in my life to really take shape..I’m going to have to wake up a bit earlier. I’d like to [ideally] run a mile in the morning and then get some meditation in + make my bed. Which would require around 20-30 minutes of time + the time it takes me to actually roll out of bed.

Making tea: Sounds relaxing..but I don’t see myself integrating this into my morning routine just yet. to be honest, I think Spinal decompression also falls into this camp. Although there seems to be some evidence that spinal decompression can be very helpful for nutrient diffusion in people who do put a lot of strain on their backs.

Journaling: I actually find this to be a most helpful practice..although it is not currently part of my morning routine. I do find when I have nebulous worries or frustrations that I’m not really able to put a finger on keeping a journal helps me to spill my thoughts onto a page.  This blog also serves a similar purpose. A place to solidify thoughts, and maybe get rid of some unwieldy and recurrent anxieties. I think it can also be helpful for setting priorities for the day.  I think that maybe moving this from an evening activity to a morning activity may help me to get a better handle on day.

Definitely enjoyed this show!

-OFO

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Podcast Review #3: The Elective Rotation: A Critical Care Pharmacy Podcast – Sux vs. Rox

I’ve been trying to make an effort to make my self-education more streamlined and automatic, so I’ve been looking for podcasts and other forms of media that are easily consumed. In my search, I stumbled across this podcast hosted by a critical care pharmacist. This was the first episode I decided to listen to while running and…I really enjoyed it.

I’m not a critical care pharmacist but I’m definitely interested in learning and becoming better at my job of helping patients. This particular podcast dived into the long-running debate of whether rocuronium (Roc) or succinylcholine (Sux) is the better paralytic for rapid sequence intubation (RSI).

Some important points that this podcast made me more cognizant of:

  • Both Sux and Roc have essentially the same onset of action if dosed correctly. Sux is usually though of as the faster onset drug, but Rocuronium will work w/in the same 45 second window if you dose it at 1.2 mg/kg.
  • Rocuronium has a much longer paralysis time period ~ 90 mins vs. 10 minutes with Sux – which is usually a reason Sux is heralded as a safer option.
  • Both allow for equal success in first chance intubation, although b/c of rocuronium’s longer paralysis time period – doing neurological function tests may be out of the question for a longer period of time.
  • Relative vs. absolute contraindications for succinylcholine: With high potassium, crush wounds, or other myopathies with CPK rocuronium is often thought of as the safer more risk averse choice..however succinylcholine’s risk with higher potassium is often overstated and in patients with just hyperkalemia it may not be a terrible choice.

I learned a lot and look forward to further podcast from this pharmacist!

-OFO

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On Being – Louis Newman – The Refreshing Practice of Repentance

On Being is a really insightful, thought-provoking conversational based show hosted by Krista Tippett. Krista often interviews deep thinkers and philosophers about topics that range from DNA sequencing and epigenetics to the power of vulnerability.

In this conversation, which unedited goes on for 2 hours, Krista and Louis explore the concept of repentance. In the Jewish religious tradition repentance is regarded differently than how I traditionally viewed it coming from a Christian household. In both the Christian and Jewish tradition, repentance is human initiated. However, in the Jewish tradition – repentance seems to be something that requires more ongoing contemplation from us. We should turn toward God, but also acknowledge the mistake or character trait that led to sin, and then actively work on rectifying the mistake to the best of our ability. In the Christian tradition there can be an implicit suggestion that just the act of repentance is enough, but in the Jewish tradition there is such a focus on ‘action’ and fixing the problem (as much as possible) with the people who were wronged.

Since this conversation is waaay too deep to blog and give each thought it’s due discussion. I’ll instead pick out a couple thoughts that stood out for me.

  1. “Sin is pretending something that is true when it’s not. Idolatry is pretending something is divine when it is not. T’shuva [repentance] is about turning toward what is true.” – Louis Newman

So I’ve mentioned this in a previous post but I think it definitely bears some reflection. This quote rings so true to me. Having been mired in different types of sins for varying lengths of time (and enjoyment), I can definitely relate to the fact that when I “woke up” that I realized that this thing or “idol” that I had devoted myself to was not worthy of the devotion and attention I’d given them. Whether they were money, sex, busy-ness, or other people’s opinions was of less important the fact that they each had consumed a bigger chunk of my time, energy, and attention ( = devotion) than they deserved.

  1. “If you change your path only by a couple degrees – over an extended period of time, your final destination is a very different place” – Louis Newman

I love this idea that repentance does not have to be a complete and instantaneous change. To me this idea is important because it allows a margin of grace that is often missing in the day-to-day practice of seeking God. This may be partly because of the way we see change depicted in movies and media. The media we all see depicts change as a process that is supposed to occur over the course of a 3-minute video montage accompanied by theme music and perhaps a voiceover. I think the real process of change for human beings is slow, up until the point where critical mass is reached and suddenly the change seems difficult to ignore.

  1. Paraphrasing: “God created the world as an imperfect place and that God is using us to perfect the world. So every time we turn toward God – we are working out the perfection of the world.”

This thought is intriguing and deserves much more attention than I’m going to give it here. How interesting to consider that God is welcoming us into the co-creation process of perfecting the world. That perhaps this imperfect world is a workshop for us to not only work through our sinfulness and move toward God, but also a place for us to – through each step towards God – to bring God into this world.

  1. The person who recognizes and struggles with his/her evil side/inclination and fights to move toward righteousness is more righteous than the person who has never known sin or been tempted.
  1. The 13 traits of God
    1. Compassion before a person sins
    2. Compassion after a person has sinned
    3. Mighty in compassion to give all creatures according to their need
    4. Merciful, that humankind may not be distressed
    5. Gracious is humankind is already in distress;
    6. Slow to anger
    7. Plenteous in kindness
    8. Truthful
    9. Keeping Kindness unto thousands
    10. Forgiving iniquity
    11. Forgiving transgression
    12. Forgiving of sin
    13. Pardoning

It’s mind blowing to me how many of His attributes are related to turning toward mankind, even in our sinfulness. I think that reading this list continually and meditating on the character of God can do a lot to help me to release some of the incorrect mental frameworks about who God is and how He feels about me.

All in all this podcast was a great listen.

-OFO

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Podcast #1 Getting started as a Business man, not a handyman with Fat Tony [BiggerPockets Podcast]

So Biggerpockets.com podcasts is one of my favorite online shows to listen to, mainly because the information can be both inspiring and informational and the hosts are a blast to listen to. This particular episode interviewed a BMX/Crossfit athlete “Fat Tony”.

Fat Tony is an interesting investor for a couple of reasons. 1. He’s never been a huge income earner. He started out professionally as a photographer for a company and rode BMX bikes and then transitioned over to Crossfit. #2 Fat Tony makes it clear throughout the whole interview that his number one concern is to enjoy the life he’s been given. This is almost the exact opposite of the life philosophy that I’ve adopted through my twenties. But it aligns with how I’ve been feeling as I start the trek through my thirties. I’m leaning less and less toward saving every dollar for a mythical retirement day, and instead focusing on taking each day as it comes while trying to plan judiciously. Understanding deep down that the world is changing more rapidly than any one person can really come to grips and that the future that I scrimp and save may never come. Whether as a result of globalization, technology, or an 18-wheeler accident is something I’m becoming more and more cognizant of. As a result my focus is shifting away from saving for retirement, and cutting costs to creating a life of meaning now.

One of ‘Fat Tony’s’ thoughts is that he realized early on, that he wasn’t interested in being a handyman or sacrificing his time to make the maximum amount of income. He was more interested in paying other people to do the things he wasn’t interested in doing. I think I’m a little more hands on, mostly because I’m a little more neurotic than Tony. However, I can see the value in prioritizing the fragility that is life over money.

This podcast actually dovetails into some pretty major realizations I’ve been having about my reliance on money as a type of idol. Listening to another podcast which I’ll review later – Sin was described as treating something as though it was something it was not. So idolatry is treating something like money like it was a God or The God. And for me, because of my childhood where my parents did not have money and as a result I wasn’t able to do some of the things that I would have liked to do. Then the years of struggle followed by hard work and watching every dollar in order to make it – the importance of money sometimes did ascend the peak of mount Olympus and dethrone the actual celestial being that should have resided there.

So this podcast actually did a great job of putting things into perspective and helping me to rethink what should be most important to me.

Short answer: Not money.

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