Archive for March, 2024

Unexpected Blessings

Thursday, March 14th, 2024
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A little more than a week ago, I was sitting in the same place I’m sitting as I’m constructing this blog entry this morning. My morning had started no differently than so many other mornings since COVID ran rampant across the world, causing many companies to shift gears and sway in a direction that required their employees to work from home. However, last week was a little different than this morning.

Around 9 a.m., a chat message popped up on my screen. It was a former boss, one I had not spoken to in any work related matter in about five years. The message itself didn’t catch me off guard, but the name of the person sending it did. Although it’s neither here nor there, as I sit here today, I still can’t find any reasonable explanation why a former boss from years ago would notify me with the HR manager in the meeting. I’d think it would make more sense to have the HR manager take care of that task.

After reading the message, I quickly navigated to my email and checked the invite that had been sent that morning. Since I only check my email a few times a day, I had missed it. There hadn’t been any meeting invitations sent earlier in the week to give me a heads-

Looking at the invite, I laughed to myself. There was no secret as to the meaning of the meeting. My former boss and the HR manager were the only ones on it. After the town hall meeting a few weeks back, I knew the days of corporate America in small-town America were quickly coming to an end. Some of us would go sooner than others, but we were all going to be sitting in the train station as the workloads hopped on the train and headed to different locations across the globe.

As they tried delaying the inevitable with a bunch of distracting conversation, the haymaker right hand was finally thrown and the TKO was in effect. My 33 years of service were done. I would finally be given an opportunity to find a more rewarding and satisfying path to follow, something I had halfheartedly searched for over the years. After all, flexibility is everything to me. Being wealthy never interested me, but living the richest life I could live always captivated my imagination and inner soul. I chased a good life; a life I could someday look back on and be thankful for. I accomplished that over the last 33 years, and I’ll be forever grateful for every bit of it. I learned a lot about myself, what I need to be happy, and most of all… what I want to avoid and where I want to go from here.

Although the process took no more than 5-10 minutes, it seemed like I was 5 years old again while my mother was driving around the parking lot looking for a closer spot to park before heading into Zayre’s department store to go shopping. I used to sit in the front seat seat (there were no car seats back then) and wonder why Mom was circling the parking lot instead of just pulling into the spot and getting on with things so we could go in and find a toy I could play with while she pushed me around the store. Heck, 33 years ago I was only 22 years old, but here I was in that childhood memory that always brings a big smile to my face. I loved going with Mom and her friend Barb Wood.

Hanging up the phone after being told I was done, effective immediately, the wheels rolled away from my desk as I pushed my feet forward on the plastic mat below it. I took a deep breath, smiled and welcomed the opportunity that had just been presented to me. While many people have no sense of job loyalty, I’ve lived a loyal career. I’ve never been one to surf across numerous platforms to find the next best thing. I chose that route to live a rich life, and I knew right then that I would start my search with those same wants and needs at the top of my list. People who have the most money are not usually the happiest people out there, but people who are able to live the life they choose are the ones who seem to attract envy from others.

So Here We Are

Now that a week has passed since my new life began, I feel good. I spent the week tidying up a lot of things that needed attention and reaching out to people in my network. Having a large number of people in my network from the numerous things I’ve been involved with over the years, networking is an essential part of staying on the path you have chosen for yourself. I guess I could say I feel like I’m 22 again. I’ve been blessed with a chance to start over and explore different things I never gave myself the opportunity to explore in the past. What would I like to do? Where would I like to end up? Do I stay local or do I travel? Do I get more involved in the business side of things that have brought the most enjoyment to my life? Do I try something new and totally different? Do I focus more on the writing projects that have always interested me? Do I finish the novel I started when my dad was sick? For the time being, I’m going to dabble in a bunch of things and figure out what will suit my lifestyle the best. In the end, I may not have a choice, but I’m going to give it everything I have to ensure I can build upon the richest — not wealthiest — life I ever could’ve imagined building for myself. Over the years, I’ve noticed that people who are totally immersed in things that bring them satisfaction are usually much more at ease and relaxed.

Although finding out that I would no longer be employed by the same company after 33 years of employment presents a great challenge, I feel well prepared for all challenges I encounter. I have my parents to thank for that. They taught me from a young age how to navigate life’s detours, and they gave me the necessary skills to stay grounded and remain determined, disciplined and focused. I welcome the challenges that lie in my path at the current time. When one door closes, another one opens. However, if you stare too long at the door that has been closed, you may be limiting yourself to new and exciting opportunities on the other side of the door that has been opened. It’s a cautionary tale I’ve always been warned about, and that’s why I sprinted through the newly opened door.

Amazing Friends

Your closest friends will always pick you up. They’ll have your back when they’re standing next to you when you’re at your worst, and they’ll stand tall to defend you when you aren’t there to defend yourself. They are the people with whom you should try to surround yourself, and I’ve been lucky to have people like this in my life. While there will always be surprises along the way, I’ve learned that if you treat people well and respect them, they will usually follow your lead. However, respect should always be earned, not given out freely. That’s why I treat the vast majority of people the same way.

In the last few days, I’ve had a few humbling things happen to me, and I really don’t have the right words to thank the people who have taken the time to reach out just to make sure I’m OK. Darren Collins, my pro-staff director for PSE, reached out to make sure I was standing on my feet and to tell me he had an ear tilted for anything that might interest me. Digger Cogar called me to ensure me that everything always works out for the best. I guess the biggest thing about these two people doing that is because they’re the only two people I told in the last week. When you have the respect of your peers at the highest level in any competitive arena, it ensures you that you are doing things correctly. I value the places of both of those guys in my life, and I’m thankful for meeting and getting to know both of them on my journey through competitive archery. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to call them good friends.

I went to see my archery coach, Mike Price, in Phelps, N.Y., earlier this week. We talked a lot about some issues that concerned me with shooting, and he offered is never-ending guidance. Without his guidance, I’m sure I never would’ve accomplished many things with a bow that I have been able to accomplish. Mike and I have always worked in silence and never seek attention. That’s probably why Mike’s resume is overlooked. However, if you take a step back and look at his own personal shooting resume, as well as the accomplishments of his students, there’s a reason I put all of my trust in him. When I told him about the predicament I’m in, he offered to talk to some of his friends and thought he might be able to land some work in ghostwriting from a few outdoor personalities and companies. The brief conversation gave me some more insight on other avenues to explore. I’d love to do any communications/marketing or writing for archery and outdoor companies, and my education and background fit perfectly into doing that type of work.

As many people know, I live at my local club in the winter. I’ve always found archery to keep me focused, disciplined and driven to succeed. The things archery has brought into my life have helped me with everything, including personal relationships and employment. When I shoot my bow, I focus on the process and let the rest fall into place. When I set the shot up correctly, the arrow is going in the X. Being able to ignore distractions, focus on the process and get the job done builds confidence, and confidence is necessary to succeed in anything in life.

There is a core group of people who are at the club every night, and I do everything I can to help them. While I’m not a certified coach, I have as much experience shooting in national events as I do from the job I no longer have. It allows me to teach people things to avoid to fall into a trap and lose confidence. If I can build their confidence and show them an easier way, I will do everything I can to help them as long as they’re willing to listen, learn and put the time in. People don’t see the work that goes in behind the scenes. They don’t see the sacrifices that have been made, and they don’t understand the commitment to discipline and determination that is required to get to the next level.

In the last year, I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time shooting with people whose sole purpose in shooting is to get better. They’ve all made great strides, and this makes me happier than any of my personal accomplishments.

My core team is made up of kids, adults, families, perfectionists, beginners, and a few whose bodies don’t allow them to do the things that are natural for the rest of us. Every night I roll into the club and know I’ll see Shane, Chris, Lauren, Justin, Connor, Aiden, Melissa, and Ryan on the line.

Shane will be operating on something on his bow, always having his toolbox in hand. Chris will be against the wall working hard to perfect his shot in his pursuit of a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Archery Team. Aiden will be back and forth between the shooting line and the red recliner, shooting Xs every chance he gets. Connor, Aiden’s little brother, will be a little wild man some nights and a quiet little fella on other nights. Lauren will be sitting in the chair trying to keep track of her male clowns in her circus, or she will be standing next to her husband working on improving her archery skills. Justin will be shooting arrow after arrow and be in his own little world while not paying attention to anything around him. Melissa will be somewhere near the middle of the line trying her hardest to improve while blocking out all of the other distractions and focusing on her breathing to center her energy flow. Ryan will be at the bow press with someone’s bow torn apart as he tries his hardest to get the bow to shoot the best it can possibly shoot for that individual. If he’s not doing that, he’s in his own little bubble while torching X after X after X, making it look so incredibly easy that we all get jealous watching.

As I walk in and set my stuff on the floor, I realize these people are my people. They are the ones I see the most throughout the winter. We all experience the highs and lows together. We try to pick each other up when we are down and we try to keep each other grounded so we don’t have false beliefs as we march forward. We support each other. We have created our own AA… Archers’ Anonymous. Our stories help each other, and we find comfort amongst one another that cannot be found anywhere else. Whether we talk about the past, present or future, we find a way to relate to each other, as we all walk through life doing what we love. Life is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard either. I’ve tried to help all of these people live rich lives through archery, which will carry into all other parts of their lives. We only get one shot at this game called life, and nobody gets out of the game alive.

Well, my people presented me with an unbelievable gift this week. It brought tears to my eyes, and I could never truly thank them for their generosity. I have never done anything for any of these people other than offer my friendship and what little expertise I’ve gained in my archery travels. I’ve never been a coach, but I guess they refer to me as their coach. I’m not sure what to think about that. I’m no different than any of them, and archery brought all of us together.

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So what’s my purpose in writing this? I just wanted to give people an update because I know a lot of people have been asking, as many things are kept secret from the people who are still left employed at the same company. I also want to give people hope that even in our worst moments, things seem to work out for the best. I’ve never been a chronic worrier. I have a lot of confidence in my network, the connections I’ve made over the years, and the simple fact I’ve been successful in many things in my life through hard work and nothing more. I’ve always given 100% effort to anything I’ve attempted, and that won’t change until I breathe my last breath. I also want to thank all of the people I mentioned and the many I didn’t mention. You all play a huge part in my life. If anyone in my network has any ideas or suggestions, I’m all ears. I’m willing to tackle anything out there because I’m sure if I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out. I’m too determined to conquer things to ever give up, so I always love a new challenge. Good luck to all of you who are fortunate enough to be blessed with a chance to start over. Not many people get that chance so shoot for the moon… even if you miss , you’ll land among the stars.