Today I Blasted Myself Out of the Comfort Zone


Today is the day that I officially blasted myself out of the comfort zone. It happened on February 5, 2015. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I had to make it.


When I think of the comfort zones we live in, they are usually very nice. We work throughout our lives to establish a home, a family, furnishings, and all the things that contribute to our personal comfort zones. As the years go by, the comfort zone becomes even more comfortable. We buy toys, gizmos, and other things to help us pass the time and explore hobbies and interests. Our families grow and our houses seem to shrink.

For me, my comfort zone became too comfortable for me to enjoy. I had too much stuff. Too many tools, too many unused pieces of antique furniture, too much wood for woodworking, too many books and magazines. I had too many cars, too many bikes, and too much gear. I couldn’t enjoy any of it because it all jammed up our house and our lives.  My wife and I decided it was time for a change.

The Change(s)

Today was my last day at work. That was a big change. Thank you QualPro for all that you have taught me and provided to me and my family. I’ll miss my co-workers and the Powerhouse computer that has been my companion over the past year.

Years of working with Tableau and more recently, Alteryx, have now ended. I don’t have the software anymore and I don’t have a computer that is worthy of the combined brilliance of those pieces of software. That is a HUGE change for me, too. Will I experience the privilege of using these two revolutionary pieces of software in the future? I hope so, but only time will tell. I feel like a musician that has lost his instrument.

Books. My books are mostly gone. Thousands of them. Sold for about a penny on the dollar. My lifetime collection of National Geographic – gone, given away to some anonymous friends that I hope will enjoy them. Fifty hardback National Geographic books are also gone (a couple of grand originally, given away for a few bucks).  Textbooks – gone, too (well almost – a few geology books still keeping a bit a space on a bookshelf until I get the courage to say goodbye to my old friends). The entire collections of Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, Shop Notes, Woodsmith, etc still looking for a new home… The only books I have kept are from my favorite two authors: James Michener and John McPhee.

Tools. I have been selling my 30-year collection worth of woodworking and mechanics tools. Figure 1 shows a small sampling of these tools. Hanging on the wall were modern-day classics such as Bridge City Tools and Lie Nielsen Tools holding their own against the classics of Stanley, Ashley Isles, and Robert Sorby. Each tool was designed with a purpose in mind and has a lifetime of stories to tell.


Figure 1 – Only a few of the woodworking and mechanics tools I had.


The power tools are mostly gone. A lot of the hand tools remain. I have decided to keep a few of my favorites that have been carefully packaged into a mid-1800’s woodworker’s tool box. The rest of the tools hopefully will fly out the door this Saturday with proud new owners as I plan to have a huge, final blow-out sale.

Beautiful lumber and veneers (Figure 2) – gone. Hundreds of board feet of cherry and walnut were loaded into a truck and moved to the hills. The veneers went to my old friend, the best woodworker I’ve ever known – Mr James Hooper. If you want to see absolute talent, click the link on his name. James is a man that possesses world-class talent combined with extensive knowledge and a love for restoring fine antiquities. I could hang-out with James for eternity and never learn all that he knows.

Figure 2 - Veeners.

Figure 2 – Veeners.


My lifelong love affair with the Emmert Turtleback vice is now over, as another great woodworker bought that beauty (Figure 3) to appreciate and use on a daily basis. It took me about 10 years to find her and less than 10 days to sell her. I’ll miss you my old friend.


Figure 2 – The Emmert Turtleback patternmakers vice (circa late 1800’s early 1900’s.)


Antique timbers (Figure 3), hand-hewn from the period of the civil war, are still looking for a home. Over 20 feet long with holes and stains left by square-cut nails adorning their length. Many years ago, my son Colton and I pulled hundreds of such nails from these logs and put them in a can. That can and those nails now belong to my new friend, My Leroy Oller who promises to reuse them when the time is right.

Figure 3 - Antique timbers still looking for a home.

Figure 3 – Antique timbers still looking for a home.


These beautiful logs are just waiting for their next job. For over 100 years they were the floor joists of an old cabin in Blaine, TN. They withstood the footsteps of the soldiers and travelers through the years until the day I found them, amid piles of burning debris. I bought them before they were crushed by the bulldozers before being cremated. I lifted, tugged, and fought like hell to get them in my trailer to move them 50 miles for their next job. I was much stronger then, conditioned by 20 years of power-lifting. The weight was so much and the load was so long that we nearly jackknifed during transport, but it was worth it to save them from extinction.

How many are there? I can’t remember. Probably 20 of them, 4 by 6 inches of southern yellow pine from the virgin forests. The wood is so fragrant that when you pull a nail that has been anchored in there for 100+ years, the sap hits your nose just like the day the tree was felled. How can I leave them behind, I wonder?

Hand-made bricks, also from the civil war era (Figure 4). I saved a lot of them, too. They were getting buried in the field when I pulled them out of the mud. Night after cold night, I searched and pulled and slogged through the mud, fog and Tennessee rain. My Silverado never cried about the job, even when I loaded her and our trailer to the breaking point. Now these beauties are looking for their next job. What will it be, I wonder? They were supposed to be adorning our timber frame home on the lake, another one of my ambitious projects that got swamped by life.



Figure 5 – Brick by brick, I picked, cleaned, moved and re-stacked these beauties in a new place, for a new job that never materialized.


My cycling gear has now been distilled down to one box, My wife says it is time to part with it, too. I agree, but can’t seem to get the energy or courage to find the new owner. Can someone please help me with this, I wonder?

How can I eliminate the panniers, racks and seats that traveled with me across all those states, through thousands of miles of riding? How can I forget getting hit by that stupid truck driver in Arkansas that refused to move over when the road was wide open? How can I part with those items that help me hold onto those memories?

How can I sell the biking tools that were used during my younger years to fix my bike as I dreamed of the open road and the allure of the freedom it possessed? How can I sell my brother Michael’s tandem from the 1950’s that I had lovingly restored, after he died of AIDS in 1996? Tough choices, tough changes.

The changes. There have been many for me and my family over the past month or two. There are surely many more to come. I wonder what will happen to 3danim8’s Blog? Will it continue to exist? Or will it fade to oblivion? Only time will tell as my family heads west to face new challenges. Head west, young man, head west is the theme going through my head as I close this post.

Parting Thoughts

Finally, I’d like to thank the readers of this blog for taking the time to see what I had to say. Writing this blog has been fun and has given me a sense of purpose. Although there are hundreds of future blog posts I have defined and want to write, there is nothing left in the actual blog pipeline. Therefore, this article is my final blog post, at least for the foreseeable future.

I’m checking out of my current life and getting ready to face my new life head-on, with a newly found sense of liberation. Toni and I have promised to not bog ourselves down with stuff anymore. We hope to live another 50 years, to raise Jett and see our grand kids some years down the line. Until then, thanks for reading – Ken.


Goodbye friends.


2 thoughts on “Today I Blasted Myself Out of the Comfort Zone

  1. Pingback: Four Months of Living Outside of My Comfort Zone (Part 3) | 3danim8's Blog

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