The Reawakening: Part 14

A plateau.


I got comfortable.

And that’s why I have this headache.
I guess I need to explain, don’t I?

In March it’ll be a year since leaving a full-time job in television. It had benefits and all! :) But since leaving the comfort of salary and steady work and predictable schedule, I’ve started earning my wages in a few different ways. I actually look back the gigantic curveball of being laid off in 2015 and can’t help but smile. It woke me up or shall we say, reawakened me?

This year, 2016, is about a couple of things. One and the most important: live life to the fullest. And two: earn some money along the way. That’s why I was pretty pumped to add another job to my schedule. Back in November I became an independent contractor driving for Amazon Prime Now. If you don’t know what Prime Now is, think of it as combining Uber guy with pizza delivery guy.
It had flexible scheduling, decent pay, and let me drive all over town which is something I typically enjoy. Recently all this time in the car gave me time to listen to the same 9 or 10 songs over and over and over, because, ya know, that’s what I do. For instance “Pieces” and “Joy to the World” and “Into the Wild” …great songs that you should listen to over and over and over.

Now between afternoon naps I had video editing, dog boarding, writing, and Amazon. It was comfortable here. The routine became somewhat predictable. So you know what that means, right: Tectonic plates shifting! Comfort is becoming my enemy in the best possible way. This recent shake-up came in the form of an email from Amazon.

Hello Ben,
Regrettably, we are writing to let you know that, due to repeat violations of the terms and conditions you agreed to in the Amazon Flex Independent Contractor Terms of Service (“Terms of Service”), Amazon is hereby terminating your Terms of Service effective immediately. As a result, you are no longer eligible to participate in the Amazon Flex program.

Repeat violations! Wow. It makes me sound so sleezy! Like I just got outta jail but don’t know how to live “in this society.” What’s this Internet you speak of? Why isn’t OJ Simpson in the broadcast booth? Does Jeopardy still come on after Wheel of Fortune?

Back in March, I had known for a while it was time to part ways with CMT so being laid off was a relief, if that makes sense. But being terminated from a job I was enjoying and wanted to keep doing felt like a blindside hit. Unexpected and definitely unwelcome.

Later in the day after getting the email I called my dad. He’s a big time consultant with military stuff (I can’t tell you more or else I’d have to kill you), so I was hoping he could consult me a little more on how to handle the rocky road of self-employment.

Bam. Consulted.

I love my dad for his ambition, his knowledge, and his encouragement. My take-away from the convo, “keep moving forward.”

And now I’m not so upset. I would like answers from Amazon, sure, but perhaps it was only meant for a season. It was fun while it lasted but as my dad said, it’s time to move forward. This development has showed me that sometimes the unexpected happens. Self-employment can be tough, unpredictable. It has mountain highs and valley lows. But I wouldn’t want it any other way right now. It’s a journey I’m happy to be on and by keeping my eyes pointed up, I know I’ll be alright.

As for me, right now, I need to go get comfortable on the couch because Wheel of Fortune is on.

-O_t of the Wi_ _erness

The hardest shot to get in television

As I was falling asleep last night a thought came to my mind that I’ve had many times before. You see, I like it to be as dark as it can be when I sleep. I would propose that most adults are the same way. In fact, that’s why hotels have thick curtains, right? So that makes the hardest shot in television the inside of a bedroom at night. Here are a few examples that do a pretty good job of keeping it realistically dark, but still allowing us to see the actors from TV shows Parenthood, Friends, and Grey’s Anatomy.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 3.02.35 PM


Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 3.33.35 PM

Grey’s Anatomy

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 3.10.21 PM


-Out of the Wilderness


The day I almost fainted

Deep breaths.

Adjust your legs.

Sweaty forehead.


You might think I’m describing how it feels to be meet Kate Beckinsale, which might be true, because I was feeling faint yesterday. It wasn’t because of the famous actress, though. I was running a camera at church with a tight shot of the pastor while he preached. It’s something I’ve done dozens and dozens of times before. But this time I felt different about halfway through the sermon. I pulled the sleeves of my fleece to keep me cool. That helped some but whatever was happening kept getting stronger. A quick prayer.

Lord, please don’t let me fall. Please don’t let me fall.

I don’t like a lot of attention so can you imagine how frightening it would be to fall down in quiet room?

My body was starting to malfunction. Blurry vision. Sweat on my forehead, and my arms. It was not looking good. But thank God the pastor tossed to a video which meant I could be “off” for a second while it played on the screens.

The dizziness was in full affect as I cautiously bent down to find a seat on the edge of the platform. Phew! I made it. As I sat there the dizziness went away. I swiped my forehead to clear the dripping sweat. I removed my jacket to cool down. It was bad! I seriously think if I were standing for 5 more seconds I would have blacked out. I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t sick. I felt fine the day before and that morning, despite staying up too late.

After the video played I stood up again to control the camera. Those final minutes of the sermon went by without a hitch. I did notice the pastor had a shine on his forehead as well, so maybe the room was simply too warm? He and I were the only people standing for the entire sermon, so I wonder if he was feeling the same thing I was feeling?

Either way, I’m so glad I made it through without drawing an embarrassing amount of attention to myself by falling off the small camera platform.

Happy dizzy-free Monday!
-Out of the Wilderness

How to get involved with my new book

Cover for GoodReadsHappy Sunday! As some of you may know my children’s book, Big and Small, God Made Them All, was published a few days ago. It’s been such a fun process learning how to self-publish, thankfully having a team of talented professionals to make it pretty smooth with my illustrator, editor, and designer. Now I’m learning how to market the book. One project I came up with is an eBook campaign that draws in awareness and support for an organization in Managua, Nicaragua. The idea in a nutshell is this:

For every 20 eBooks downloaded in January, a print book will be donated to Club Esperanza.

Club Esperanza is a place where kids can get help with education as well as take part in activities like art and music. Much more about this idea can be found on my author site here, but I would be so happy if you’d consider downloading my book and being a part of the success I hope for on this project! The eBook is available exclusively on Apple devices (computer, iPhone, iPad, iPod) by clicking here or by searching the book title in iBooks or iTunes store.

I hope you’ll join in, and thank you!!

-Out of the Wilderness

My prayer for today

Please be part of my love story today. I mean, the love story between me and you. My life has some question marks but you are an exclamation point and a period. Sometimes it seems I’m in the middle of a comma… a period of pausing. Waiting. But let’s write more of the story today, why don’t we? As I go about my day, I’ll be on the lookout for the lines you’re writing, and I’ll write some myself, too.

The year 1997: putting the O in pOpular

The year was 1997. I was a pale, skinny, timid high schooler walking the halls as a senior at Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida. This city was different than what I was used to. Students drove big trucks with big Mickey Thompson tires.mickeythompson
In Miami, where I spent most of high school, the smaller the tires, the better.
Hooptie1Both were absurdly extreme. And possibly extremely absurd. But as a teen in Tallahassee, a must-have car accessory whether you rolled on mud tires or more efficient, less noisy stock tires was the O.
oakley sticker

It was practically your parking permit at Leon. Having mud tires and this sticker earned you triple bonus points and a spot on the football team.

20 years later I don’t see any Mickey Thompson tires, maybe because Nashville isn’t as “southern” as Tallahassee. I will see the O every once in a while, and it takes me right back to my days at Leon High School and that pair of Oakley’s I lost in Georgia when I left them on a rented van after me and my family went to Callaway Gardens for a holiday weekend full of lights and laughter… and tears.

-Out of the Wilderness


A trailer for my new book!

As some of you might already know, I’m writing a book! It’s so close to being finished and available for purchase, I can hardly wait. There’s more info on my author website here, but for now, check out the book trailer for Big and Small, God Made Them All