Making a You Turn

The book in the photo above is the number-one career book I’ve checked out of the library so far. I recommend you buy the book instead. Read it from the start to end straight through.

You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career is great for all job-seekers. Not just those of us who are changing careers after being stuck in a dismal career we hate.

Author Ashley Stahl’s uncommon advice in reality is common sense wisdom for everyone. Even individuals happily ensconced in a job or career would benefit from her stories and approaches on financing, networking, and hitting rock bottom and coming up again.

The book sells for $17 on Amazon.com. You can special order it at your local independent bookseller too. Or go to Barnes & Noble.

The Power of Identity

The Queer Advantage: Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity by Andrew Gelwicks is a book that was published in 2020.

Quoting esteemed individuals in different fields the author makes the case that acting true to yourself and being authentic is the only way to succeed on the job and in your life.

No one should feel guilty and ashamed for being who they are. In reality other people should not hate and judge you because of your identity.

From the book:

“Everyone should be able to bring all of themselves to the workplace and feel like they don’t have to hide or cover. You can only be your best when you embrace your authentic self… [It] is my lifelong commitment to achieving equality for all that has always been the driving force in everything I do.” 

     – Billie Jean King, Professional Tennis Player 

The question is: how do your bring all of you into your job when you have a mental health issue?

The choice is yours what to reveal and what to conceal. It’s still dice-y to disclose on a random workday as a matter of course.

The way I see it: the illness does not define me. I choose not to talk about it randomly or indiscriminately with the people I interact with on an ordinary day.

I would like that everyone walking down the street and in the corridors of a corporate office embraces and accepts individuals with mental illnesses.

Only I know we still have a way to go in terms of civil rights for those of us with a diagnosis.

Perhaps the way to chip away at other people’s fear of us is indeed to be open and honest about this facet of who we are.

We can take a tip from the leaders in The Queer Advantage.

It’s your right and preference to decide how open and honest you want to be.

In a future blog entry I will go into detail about the ins and outs of self-disclosure.

The Compass and the Radar

In the above book Paolo Gallo gives up-to-date tactics for finding a job on your terms.

He is Italian–which is inspiring to me as my heritage is Italian too.

The prime benefit of reading this book is knowing what questions to ask on a job interview. Gallo like Laurie Ruettiman in her book I reviewed too thinks you don’t have to wind up in a truly atrocious work environment.

By grilling the interviewer with poise you’ll be better able to uncover the true relationship dynamics on a future job.

I’ll end here with this quick and easy tip: Google “interview questions to ask employer.” You’ll find loads of probing questions to ask so that you can arm yourself with vital information.

The 1990s are gone. Heck we won’t see the early 2000s again either.

Today searching for a job and going on interviews is a different game. To level the playing field so you can achieve a “work-life balance” I’ll offer ideas in the coming blog entries.

Betting on Ourselves

Read the book above. You can check it out of the library should you not be able to buy it.

I recommend the book because long before I read it last week I’d been doing the things the author told readers to do.

One controversial thing that Ruettimann tells workers to do is to be Slackers on the job. How so? Not to break your back at work where you’ll wind up stressed.

Does any of us really want to be popping pills and slurping Frappuccinos to get by every day?

This is where it pays to research yourself and explore careers that are in sync with your personality.

My goal is to publish the book Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers this summer 2021. It has competitive information for finding and succeeding at a job when you live in recovery.

The trick to being happy and healthy is to have a balanced life. I call this living “a full and robust life.” In your after-hours and on the weekend that’s when it’s imperative that you do what you love.

If you ask me no one should be doing more than a half hour of overtime every day at our jobs. Finding the job that doesn’t require overtime is the golden key to unlocking the ideal balance.

Most workers in corporate offices won’t get more than a 3 percent raise every year. Or 2 percent like milk. While the CEOs earn millions.

How to fight this injustice? Show up to your job on your own terms. Live that full and robust life outside of your day job.

Read Betting on You to find out how you can win the battle of the bulge–of your overstuffed briefcase and ballooning midsection.

There’s a better way than passively accepting the status quo on a job.

Long before I read this Laurie Ruettimann book I too had become a Slacker to preserve my sanity.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about my own strategies for achieving peace and harmony.

Feck Perfuction

The author of this brilliant guide to making who you are what you do is James Victore.

He failed at one art school and was kicked out of another. His work hung in the Museum of Modern Art. He taught at the School of Visual Arts for 20 years. He bought an apartment in SoHo and a house in the country.

What is the morale of this story?

There is no one right way to do something. There is no right time to take action.

The only way is to act true to yourself. The time is now to do this.

James Victore reeled me in. For the first time I could see that everything I do that is unusual is what I’m supposed to be doing.

I recommend you buy a copy of Feck Perfuction to have on hand. Victore is right:

Forget trying to make art that caters to the masses. Dare to have your own opinion that you express in your own voice. The world doesn’t need another copycat churning out bland blanc mange.

See how far you can take yourself by being you.

I bet there’s an outer galaxy in the farthest reaches of your potential waiting to be explored and named.

Claim your greatness.

Live the life you want to live not the one others tell you to.

Come on now:

Today is the day for each of us to make magic being ourselves.

Feck perfuction.

It’s the only way to live.

Remembering Robin Hugh Cunningham

Robin was my mentor. Not that I asked him to take on this role.

He simply gave of himself freely that way without having to be asked.

In 2005 when I started writing the Recovering Together column for SZ magazine I called up NAMI-New Jersey where he was on the board. I told the woman who answered that I was interested in having Robin be a featured panelist for the Q&A on hot topics in recovery. I gave her my telephone number.

Exactly one half-hour later Robin called and said Yes. I had been talking to him ever since 2005.

Robin Cunningham lived to be 77. He died in December 2019.

He lived to be 77 even though he took schizophrenia drugs for 64 years–ever since he was 13 years old and first diagnosed.

For the first 10 years he heard voices that the pills couldn’t quell.

His doctor tried every new medication that came on the market. Ten years later Etrafon stopped the voices.

Robin recommended me to his boss at HealthCentral. In 2007 she gave me a job as a Health Guide along with Robin at their schizophrenia website. I held that job until September 2015.

The exclamation point – ! – is that Robin didn’t die 25 years earlier like news accounts claim that people diagnosed with schizophrenia do.

Robin had a full and robust life. He had a daughter and a wife. He was full of kindness and compassion.

Robin obtained an MBA and rose up to be the CEO of a corporation.

He told me stories about his life which I soaked up. I was eager to learn how a person diagnosed with schizophrenia could do these things.

We talked on the telephone from time to time.

I installed his memoir on my iPad. You can buy Descent into Chaos on Amazon or special order it from a bookstore.

Robin’s life journey was a testament to having a never-broken spirt in the face of adversity.

In 2000 after retiring from his business career he was a pioneer in becoming an Advocate for his fellow peers.

Robin Hugh Cunningham is gone. He should not be forgotten.

Coping Takes Work

I gave Ashley Smith the author of the book above a review of her book for the back cover.

I recommend you buy What’s on My Mind? Coping Takes Work. The book gives great information about coping with challenges while living in recovery.

While I do reveal details of my own life in my 3 blogs I carefully choose what I write to send out to everyone in the world.

Ashley Smith’s unvarnished honesty is the selling point of her blog and her books.

Coping Takes Work is even better than her first book that I wrote the Foreword to.

We need more peers like Ashley Smith who are willing to stand up and speak out to tell our stories

You can read her Overcoming Schizophrenia blog. I have been reading her blog since 2008 when she first starting keeping it with no photos and using an anonymous name.

For 12 years she’s been going strong as a go-to blogger on the topic of mental health and recovery.

Coping Takes Work Amazon page.

My Weekly Routine

While living indoors through the pandemic I’ve written down changes I want to make after I return to going outdoors every day.

I recommend reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.

In the book the author outlines simple steps to execute to adopt healthy habits and make them stick.

Today I’ve adopted these tactics to power through this extraordinary time:

  1. Eat as healthfully as possible every day.
  2. Exercise at home 2x per week as often as possible.
  3. Go outdoors only 2x per week to reduce the risk of getting infected.
  4. Write down on sheets in a weekly To-Do’s pad the food I eat for lunch and dinner every day.
  5. Place tomorrow’s outfit on the other side of the bed to make it quick and easy to dress in day clothes in the morning.
  6. Typed up and taped to an index card the weekly routine I’m going to establish once I’m outdoors every day again.
  7. Telephone my mother often to talk to her.
  8. Talk to a friend on the telephone.
  9. Keep a journal in a 3-subject college-ruled spiral-bound notebook.
  10. Read books and magazines.

Perhaps these habits will empower you to create your own routine while living through this pandemic and following through after the shutdown ends.

Late Bloomers

Like the dark horses and late bloomers in these two books, I didn’t see my life take off until later. This happened when I turned thirty-five and started my librarian job.

 It’s precisely because most of us have experienced setbacks and taken detours that we have the freedom to decide for ourselves what our right path in life should be.

I didn’t publish my first book until I was forty-nine. Life is not a race to the finish line—we all know where that leads. The point is that you can make a comeback at any age.

I recommend you read the book Late Bloomers. I can attest to the validity of the tactics listed in this guide. This is because I’d been using these strategies long before I read about them in the book.

One thing I’d been doing before that was listed in the book was to write about myself using the third person. Using the word she.

As well I use my given name Chris Bruni in the Bruni in the City column I write for an independent mental health journal.

Late bloomers share these six traits: curiosity, compassion, resilience, insight, wisdom, and equanimity.

Reading this book should empower those of us who didn’t crash through the starting gate early in the horse race of life.

All hail the late bloomers.