Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Once a year I get seriously self-indulgent on this blog and reflect on where I am in my life. There are worse things I could do with my time.

So: 45 years old today. I guess one of my b-day cards got it right: you know you're getting old when you start getting old-age jokes on your birthday cards. The grey hair remains grey--though, remarkably, it hasn't retreated too far up the forehead yet. The weight is down through a random, solemn decision to eat and treat myself better. I'm avoiding fried foods as a lifestyle choice. I'm snacking on things that are recognizably natural foods. I walk more.

And my oh my, is my professional life different from where it was a year ago! This time last year, I was still in Huntsville, Alabama, gainfully employed with a space/technology-focused small business. This year, courtesy of some government budget-cutting, I now AM a small business, back in the city I love, Orlando, Florida. I struggle here and there with finding business and paying bills, but thanks to the kindness of friends, I've been able to house-sit in genteel poverty, an arrangement that will continue through early November. I've had the breathing space to find and build clientele, for which I'm duly grateful.

Having come close to the bottom of my reserves in late spring, I'm now on a path to steady bill paying and taking steps toward improving my ability to expand my line of work (taking a grant-writing class, getting help from a coach, getting in touch with local friends to find new opportunities). Progress!

And here's the thing about freelancing that I'm coming to realize: I have no problem supporting customers, it's bosses I don't deal with well. I'm always willing to help or answer to a customer. A customer has come to me voluntarily, seeking my services. A manager, however benevolent, is there to tell me what to do. I don't mind that most of the time, it's a fact of life; however, the fewer layers I have above me, usually the better I'm able to function. I'm picking the type of work I do, the workload, and my hours of operation. I probably could and should have gone freelance earlier in life, but better late than never, I suppose.


Do I have any deep, new wisdom at the ripe old age of 45? Just one thing: the most important thing I've learned to do this past year is be me happily, with all the good, bad, and weird that entails. I...
  • Wear Hawaiian shirts and shorts for my standard "work clothes."
  • Try to stick with aerospace work because that is what I love to do and am passionate about doing. 
  • Take a lot of the low-key, low-visibility jobs with the Science Cheerleaders because I'm not particularly gung-ho to get on stage. 
  • Can speak on stage (if I must) without much fear or trepidation. 
  • Am blatantly geeky about some things, blandly conformist or mainstream about others. 
  • Am mildly to terribly conceited, and a linguistic snob. 
  • Am back to being a libertarian (with a conservative flavor).
  • Have a taste for philosophy, science fiction, history, and terrible puns. 
  • Cannot shut up on Facebook. 
  • Walk around theme parks, play John Williams soundtracks, and light up aromatherapy candles to relax. 
  • Read self-help books because I want to make myself a better person. 
  • Live and travel alone because I recognize my social strengths and limitations. 
  • Am an introvert with extroverted moments. 
  • Have a list of things I want to do, and I take steps to make them happen. 
  • Am not in any big rush to change the world or to boss around others. 
  • Love Orlando's afternoon thunderstorms and lack of snow. 
  • Don't share secrets, am not particularly interested in learning the secrets of others, nor do I wish to share whatever secrets I have with everyone I know. 
It's not a perfect life, by any wild stretch, but I prefer the problems I have to any others. My willingness to be honest with myself about myself allows me to be honest with others--as much as I think they can stand--and that's not so bad for 45. I'm pretty happy being Bart.

Again, better late than never.

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