I found Paradise, it’s over here.

Satelite View

The Peninsula, as it is affectionately known by its inhabitants, stands alone in its beauty here in southern Belize.  In a country filled with wondrous sights that feed the soul with every eyeful, there is a different spirit here in the south that embraces its visitors in a hammock like rapture elevating ones Caribbean experience to one of true bliss.

There are only two ways for one to access this small slice of 20130702_175306paradise, giving a natural exclusivity to our guest willing to make the trek, and ensuring that everyone that visits experiences what makes this place unique.  The first and most common way to visit is via a small airplane in a small airport.   This is not for the faint of heart, but those with the courage to face their fears are rewarded with endless views of rainforests, the Caribbean Sea, and some of the most beautiful shoreline in the entire world.  Those that choose to brave the automotive option of arrival feel the change the instant the start down the peninsula.  Maya Beach slowly flickers into view offering hospitality and beaches to weary travelers, as one pushes further he is embraced by the beauty and culture of the Garifuna People in Seine Bight and in just a few miles more the charming fishing village of Placencia.

20130722_150255Nestled among the beautiful Garifuna people in Seine Bight it my home, the Nautical Inn.  Introduced to weary travelers via a large sign on larger bright orange poles, the Inn consist of 4 uniquely geometrically shaped buildings, painted in bright colors, and quite cleverly arranged along the shoreline enveloping a pristine beach and shimmering pool.

Walking through the Nautical Inn bar and restaurant the first time is in itself a fantastic experience that latches itself to ones brain for recall from a nameless cubical at some  point in the future.  In addition to the warm and comfortable greeting, all five senses are raptured and true beauty is experienced.

Taste and smell are hit by the tropical breeze that blows off of the Caribbean Sea and through the entire property and of course the ice cold tropical drink that helps you set down the burdens of your1039496_615347505163198_1180576858_o journey.  As you walk through the double French doors opening up to the aft (Nautical term…get excited) of the restaurant your eyes are treated to the vast blue gem of the Caribbean Sea while simultaneously being embraced by the privacy and intimacy of a Secret Garden, lush with tropical vegetation.  Rising from the center of this visual feast is our fresh water pool surrounded by brightly painted lounge furniture and a quiet little cabana.  As the warm sun and cool breeze tickle your skin, the music of the waves crashing on the shore and the fountain dripping in the background create a symphony the reaches beyond ones soul.

This is my home now.  This is what I experience on a day to day basis.  I swim at night in the moonlight, I dive with sea turtles.  I 0TFamK6m_69soVHTYRRGlmFQMYr3u_IwbSFLhNCT4Z4bathe in waterfalls and eat fruit directly from trees.  Not a day passes that my feet do not feel warm sand and my eyes don’t drink in the wonders of the sea.  Even in a state of perpetual bliss, I still find most satisfaction in sharing my good fortune with others.  I have found paradise, come join me and I will show you.

Benjamin Blair

Innkeeper at the Nautical Inn.

Seal Beach/San Diego Vacation

Ok, so I am broke living in a one bedroom apartment in Georgia, lost my at home recruiting job after 2.5 years, and I am running out of the tiny stipend offered by my Unemployment Insurance.  I have been applying for jobs for weeks and had found very few promising prospects.  Why not take a vacation?

Palm

 

So I took off to Seal Beach, met Marissa’s family and some of the people she works with, and had a nice relaxing week at the beach…

Seal Beach Series

 

Seal Beach Pano

 

Seal Beach Pano2

 

Played with the pano feature on my Galaxy Note.  I love these pictures.  Is anyone else blown away by how great camera phone pictures turn out now?

One of my favorite beaches in SoCal in Huntington, so one night Marissa and I took a few duraflame logs and some camping chairs and enjoyed the sunset.  Followed up by a mug of hot chocolate, it was one of those nights I will look back on fondly for years to come.

Huntington Beach Fire Pit

 

Huntington Beach Series

 

The last leg of my journey was spent in the urban paradise of the gaslamp district down in San Diego, CA.  Marissa had points on her time share so we got to stay in a beautiful Studio Condo, 7 stories up, right in the heart of San Diego.  I have never been a big fan of the time share arrangements, but the Wyndham in SD is top notch.  It was a really beautiful way to end a great vacation that was very undeserved!

Gas Lamp at night SD Gas Lamp at day SD2 Gas Lamp at day SD

 

Ok, maybe I overdid the pano feature on the phone…anyway, great trip!!!

Internal debate of a kid

My eyes were closed, the somber music washed over me, “Just as I am without one plea, that thou my God would die for me.”  The combination of piano, organ, and dedicated choir in the church auditorium designed for optimal acoustics set the stage for a very convincing divine experience.  As I closed my young eight year old eyes, I remember thinking “what if?”  What if I was not genuine enough a few years ago when I first said the magical prayer and asked Jesus into my life?  What if my doubt that god was real would condemn me to hell?  What if my parents were reading the bible wrong and there was more to it?  What if the bible was the wrong book and one of the other ones was really from God?

Pretty heavy thoughts for an eight year old, but I shoved them aside in my mind and figured the best course of action to ensure my redemption from my apparent birth into sin was to plead for forgiveness from God and hope he understood that I was a flawed human that was doing my best to understand.  “Dear Jesus,” I prayed, “please forgive me for my doubt and sin.  I do not want to go to hell, I want to be a good person.  My family always talks about a relationship with you, but no matter how much I pray and ask, I never hear anything back from you.  Sure, I felt your presence when I was at camp, but it was never really just me.  You said in the bible that if I confess with my mouth that you are Lord and believe in my heart that you were raised from the dead than I would be saved.  Please save me, I believe!  Please use me, please let me be someone that is a true servant, please let me further your will on earth.”

This was a regular occurrence during my childhood.  Countless one-sided conversations with God.  I remember hearing the story about Jesus sweating blood while praying in the garden of Gethsemane and thinking, if only I pray that hard perhaps I will experience something.  Tell me, how do you pray hard?  Do we squish our eyes together tighter, do we raise our hands up in the air (I found these attention hungry jackasses ridiculous even as a religious kid) do you flex your mussels, or do we just beg more vehemently.  It might sound silly, but it was a problem that plagued me for years and was partially responsible for who I am as an adult.

I think if I had to describe my childhood in a word having retrospect as a tool, I would use the word alienated.  I never had trouble making friends, and my family was very affectionate and loving, but I always thought I was different on the inside.  Everyone else saw miracles in everything and had this personal relationship with the god of the universe, and I never connected with him in any real way.  I spent my adolescence pretending I felt the Holy Spirit and convincing those that didn’t that they should be more open to god.  (If you were wondering, yes, I was a pious little shit)  My duality between who I was in front of everyone and my inner monologue made feel alone.  The realization of this hypocrisy in my existence just made me renew my efforts to be genuine in my faith.

It didn’t work for me.  As I have aged, and hopefully matured a bit, I have a different view of things.  I do not think I was alone as a child.  I am pretty sure that no matter what your current faith is, if you were raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home you had similar experiences.  Any theologian will tell you that in order to have genuine faith you have to embrace the suspension of very simple laws of nature, ignoring the known and creating a parallel universe in which a being that represents everything you can imagine as good creates, controls, and manipulates everything in existence.

Millions of years of evolution have been teaching us the laws of physics and nature through instinct, yet as our brains evolved and we developed cognitive reasoning we started creating gods.  Gods, like men, are always impatient creatures that cause huge changes to the paths of humanity via supernatural feats while nature makes its changes gradually.  We can watch as we have taken over our own evolution via technology and tools, we have increased the speed of evolution dramatically.  In order to be genuine in ones beliefs, than you must reject the very instincts that are responsible for your existence.   Every human being knows that animals don’t speak, biologist know that they do not even have the organs necessary for speech, and yet the divine and perfect word of god has several instances of them carrying on conversations.

A child that is taught that magic (I use this term to describe anything that is supernatural or impossible in the natural world) is real by parents that actually believe it, is forced to reconcile what he is taught with what he knows instinctually.  Unfortunately, as much as we would like to see our lives as simply a series of events, this battle between logic and faith is a lifelong malady that actually becomes part of the psychological matter that makes up the child’s very identity into adulthood.

Occupation and Identity

It is amazing how much of our self-esteem is tied into our income and ability to purchase.  I think that we tend to draw too much of our identity into how we create an income as well as the quantity of that income.  In my career I have seen times of abundance and times of scarcity and have determined the hunger is the same no matter how much you spend.  As we gain wealth we socialize with wealthier people and get less power by comparison.  For instance a homeless man with $1000 is richer in his circle of friends, than Tag Romney hanging with Zuckerberg’s crew.

One of the advantages of the United States is the geographical and socioeconomic diversity.  Because of how beautiful this country is, if you can develop a way to produce an income on a digital plane without the need of regular direct physical interaction with your clients, you can manipulate your physical location to maximize your financial, social, and political power,  a large fish in a small pond if you will.

Another interesting portion of my psyche that I have been exploring as I seek the next opportunity is the connection between identity and title.  For years I was an entrepreneur,  I was a small business owner, for the last few years I have identified myself as a recruiter, (a damn good one if any potential employers happen upon my little rantings) I am any and all of these things, but how significant are these titles in terms of my Identity?  If someone offered you 250K a year for doing a job you would consider demeaning for the next 20 years, would you consider taking it as selling your identity?  Notice I left the job choice up to you, my fear of not getting my bills paid will not allow me to alienate any specific occupation.

New Chapter

That is how we put a silver lining around rough circumstances right?  We call it a new chapter…Well, that is what I have been doing this last week.  On Tuesday, April 23rd I had a call scheduled with my supervisor at Decision Toolbox to “go over the last quarter and plan for the future.”  I had been looking forward to the call all weekend because I had just received an excellent review from the head of training, and they had been telling me that a big contract was coming in for the last few months.  I had spent time putting together notes of my strengths and how I had grown in the last couple of years and was ready to really impress and get some more responsibility.  I love working with DT and I was just waiting for my skills to be harnessed and utilized.

When Nicole, my supervisor, was going through the polite pleasantries so common in a company built without a brick and mortar but with the aspirations and hopes of its employees in their homes, I sensed a bit of regret in her tone and things started spinning in my peripheral vision.  Nicole then said the sentence that sent ice down my spine, “It is during conversations like these that I really wished we could sit down face to face.”  It was in those 15 words I saw the last two and a half years of sacrifice and work slowly circle the proverbial toilet.  Nicole went on to explain that the company was not awarded the contract they had worked for and as such they were cutting their workforce.  All my patience, all of my painstaking effort to master the software, all of my investment in technology to be more proficient from home, all of my effort to reduce my overhead to compensate for the inconsistencies in income, and now here I am, unemployed with severance that would not cover half of my rent in a one bedroom apartment in GA.

Needless to say, for the next couple of days I felt betrayed and a bit bitter.  As frustrated as I was, I received an outpouring of support, sympathy, and commitment to assist from quite a few people within Decision Toolbox.  While I do feel I was mishandled and underutilized, I cannot say enough how well the company has done in creating a true, genuine connection between employees in a virtual office.  DT is definitely proof of concept, and I will always be grateful to have been part of that.

6 days have passed since that phone call.  I have gone through a myriad of emotions since then and even created this little website with the intent of using it to leverage my digital network to find new income opportunities.  After considering it further, I decided to use this feed to chronicle the next chapter in my life.  I am not sure if it will be either beneficial or have a negative impact on my job hunt, but assume it will most likely stay deep in the unseen portions of the internet.  Perhaps if I am honest and open with my vulnerability, my experiences will make me understand myself better.

In terms of the future, I have some things that look great;

  • My cousin has a home automation company and I might be able to get some work helping him pretty quickly 
  • I just worked 2.5 years with a solid RPO firm with a stellar reputation, and have received recommendations and compliments from most of the leadership
  • I had an over 80% close ratio within 3 weeks of launch

Welcome to the new chapter.  Like water off a ducks back…get excited!