A 2020 Update

Date: 2020-09-03

Time to Read: 5 Minutes



Photo By: Daniel Weiss

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted, mostly because I haven’t had much available time to sit down and collect my thoughts into a somewhat readable post. Also, I generally prefer to limit the amount of simple personal stories on my blog in favor of posts that are more substantive and informative to my readers. Despite this preference, here’s an update for all three or four of my readers.

First of all, it’s safe to say that the year 2020 has been an interesting year for pretty much everyone and my experience doesn’t differ in that regard. In mid-February, suspiciously in alignment with the conclusion of my series of posts regarding career development advice in software development, I accepted an offer to work for the investment company, Vanguard. I had been working for the University of Mississippi as a lone software developer for over four and a half years and my role had become relegated primarily to support and maintenance of the system that I had spent the first three years of my tenure building. So it was a necessary change for me to experience the role of actually being part of a software development team with the various requirements that such a role expects. With that said, I completely appreciate my time at the University of Mississippi and the experience and freedom that it provided. And I also appreciate that they were willing to keep me employed in a part-time capacity for the foreseeable future.

Taking a new job brought about the usual difficulties. Shortly after accepting the position, I was informed that my start date would be just a little over a month away. This added a large amount of relocation-related tasks to our collective plates with one of the most important tasks being: what to do with this house?  We had purchased the home less than three years prior. Thankfully, a little of foresight regarding this purchase managed to make this decision easier to make. We had purposefully picked the house as a possible future investment property from the beginning, an idea that would be realized in March 2020. Unfortunately due to limited time, we would be moving into a much smaller two-bedroom apartment.

Even though we had only lived in that house three years; we would miss many of the amenities that it provided. Amenities such as space, a large backyard with our recent addition of a covered pergola and also my beloved Big Green Egg. I would miss my neighborhood dog walks, our neighbors, our town, and all of the familiarities of Oxford that I had developed over my roughly ten years since my first arrival as a college student. I realized that many of the traditions I had developed around the house such as the Christmas lights and future plans such as birthday parties and family gatherings would never become a reality. But, a new adventure awaited us and I was excited to explore a new location (Charlotte, NC) and all that it had to offer.

Then Covid-19 hit.

The Covid-19 panic reached a fever pitch right around the week that we were to move. I had just sold my car of eleven years (and ~300,000 miles) and various other items  in an attempt to lessen the load for the move. As the uncertainty intensified regarding regulations, I began to worry that interstate travel would become restricted and that effect on our plans to move. Those concerns were misplaced and with the help of both sets of our parents, we emptied our former home and moved to Charlotte, NC on March 20th. My new job had largely been moved to remote to accommodate the various restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 situation. That small two bedroom apartment only became increasingly smaller as the entire state of North Carolina entered a state of quarantine and lock down. My wife had left her position as a nurse to temporarily become a Stay-At-Home mom with my young toddler daughter who we had to pull from her daycare shortly before leaving. That first two months were fairly depressing. Even removing the current state of affairs in the world, we were nine hours away from our family, in a small apartment, in a city that was, for the most part, shuttered. 

I had become more and more discouraged and demotivated about working out even at the first of the year (which seems opposite to what you may expect). Continuous minor colds kept any fitness progress ebbing and flowing along a plateau and even with pre-workout, I was having a difficult time motivating myself to actually work out. When Covid-19 closed all of the gyms around me, this only exacerbated my indifference toward fitness. I had bought a home pull-up bar with the intention of continuing a calisthenics-focused routine in my apartment after the move. But it never stuck. And without realizing it, I became more and more out of shape. Despite that, I kept supplementing pre-workout multiple times throughout the day to artificially pep my spirits and when it had finally ran out, I decided to try a different variety. This would be a mistake that would haunt me for months.

I purchased a recommended pre-workout called Excelsior and despite taking only the recommended dosage, after a week of use, I experienced only what I can describe as a day of continuous panic attacks. At this same time, my wife and daughter had returned back to Mississippi to spend time with her family and experience a bit more freedom and an escape from the apartment that the shutdown of North Carolina could not provide. I had never had a panic attack before nor had I ever had a heart attack, so I couldn’t differentiate between the two. After a day or so, the attacks finally stopped. Unfortunately, they would return to a lesser degree, primarily at night, for the next three months, despite my decision to stop taking pre-workout and limiting my caffeine consumption. There was/is no rationalization to these attacks so I summed up my experience to a massive imbalance of neurotransmitters.

As the months progressed, the return to office plan was delayed more and more, ultimately and unfortunately nullifying the necessity of renting an apartment and relocating as soon as we did; but I couldn’t see this future. The nature of remote work allowed us the freedom to return to Mississippi for large spans of time and visit our family which has been nice. Mississippi gyms had also re-opened so I was able to begin making progress toward digging myself out of my inactivity hole. And I was able to visit friends who I had missed the opportunity of seeing due to the short amount of time we had before moving. I started a new workout program titled “Tactical Barbell” which placed equal focus on strength and conditioning and began tracking my biometrics for health purposes.

All in all, my new job has presented a great and much needed experience. My episode of panic attacks, if nothing else, required me to face my increasing dependency on stimulants. Remote work has provided the opportunity and freedom to tie up loose ends that would have otherwise been left unaddressed in the midst of the chaos of moving. I would not, NOT, recommend moving into an apartment smaller than your previous house with a small toddler and an 80lbs dog; but unfortunately I did not have the time or money to find and buy a house in a completely new location. In an interesting way, I had expanded my sources of income by establishing a consistent part-time side job and a rental property (similar to as described in my series titled Cash Flow is King) in one major life change. In a time when so many people are hurting and experiencing tremendous hardships, I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity. With that said, I hope to begin posting consistently again with more informative posts that draw upon my personal experience.

Thanks for reading!

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Blake Adams is a writer, software developer, technical consultant, and financial independence enthusiast living in Oxford, MS.

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