Rocket Fuel Coffee — It’s not for everyone

So, I shared my “rocket fuel” coffee with my spouse yesterday, and it did not go over well with them. That’s putting it mildly. In fact, they had a panic attack from the rush of energy — which was clearly more about them interpreting the rush of energy as “DANGER! DANGER!” than anything untoward in the coffee. A teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of coconut oil… how much damage can it actually do?

I suppose for people who are sensitive to fats, it could be an issue – and I do need to be careful about how much fat I have in my diet – and there could be allergies to the butter and oil that cause issues. But even so.

My spouse’s response to the sensation of all that energy was so over the top — nearly spiraling into a full-blown panic attack — that it was pretty clearly psychological as much as physiological.

Eventually they calmed down and managed to make it through the evening without further incident. But they spent an awful lot of time fretting about their fears and “weird” sensations.

For those with a history of unresolved traumas, my butter-fat coffee “rocket fuel” recipe could be a big trigger. Especially if you associate having a lot of energy with “DANGER!! DANGER!!” I believe this is the #1 reason why people with a history of deep trauma gain weight, develop diabetes, and have a host of other sedentary lifestyle issues. They don’t exercise because the increase in energy and blood flow are associated with DANGER! of the deepest kind, and they do everything in their power to avoid having that sensation, instead of facing it head-on and overcoming it.

This is not a judgment. It’s an observation. I wish it weren’t so, but I’ve spent the last 25 years observing many people in my life with histories of deep trauma and abuse, and I see the same patterns over and over.

That issue — the unresolved trauma, and the running from the sensation of being preyed upon — seems the biggest healthcare issue of our day.

How the hell are you going to get healthy, if every cell in your body screams in terror and shuts down, when you start to feel your pulse rise and adrenaline start to flow? How will you ever get any exercise? How will you manage to extend yourself to get beyond your comfort zone and stretch your abilities?

How indeed?

Anyway, that little drama eventually subsided last night, and I am really very disappointed that my spouse can’t handle the butter-fat coffee. It gives me so much energy — and it’s the right kind of energy. It’s really what they have been wanting and jonesing for. They said so themself. Maybe they can have a little sip — start out more slowly and move up… I just get so tired of them running from every temporary inconvenience, for the sake of feeling “safe”.

Sometimes you have to work through a little temporary discomfort to reap the big prizes. That’s what my life has taught me, anyway.

But enough about them. As much as I want to help them, if I can’t… well, I can’t. I need to focus on my own progress, my own orientation, my own perspectives. That’s what I can influence. That’s what I can improve.

And so I am.

I’ve been working hard on my tech skills, learning new techniques and approaches, and realizing just how much better I am thinking, than I was just a year and a half ago. Back in late 2012, I had a technical screening interview, and not only was I not nearly as capable as I thought I was… but I also didn’t realize how much I still had to learn, and how far I still had to go. It was crazy, really — I was interviewing for jobs, thinking that I had my act together, when I was so far from being there, it was embarrassing. But I didn’t even realize it, until I was under the microscope… and a very humiliating microscope it was, too.

Now, I’m focusing on the basics — starting at the bottom and working my way up, and it’s going much better. The things I was studying 18 months ago are much more common sense to me, and I can understand complex concepts a whole lot more easily. I think it’s a combination of being more familiar with the concepts, and also having my brain working better.

My rocket fuel coffee is certainly helping, I can tell you that. I am much clearer than I have been in a long, long time, and I have more stamina and focus overall.

Aside from the coffee, it’s pretty amazing, how much progress I’ve made — mentally and behaviorally — in just 18 months. I’ve been feeling like I’m sluggish and falling behind, feeling like I’m never going to get ahead, and my desired future is so far out of reach, it’s not even worth it to think about moving forward. But now that I’m digging into the skills thing and focusing on that (rather than concentrating on how unhappy I am with my situation), I’m realizing that my brain is working better.

Things that used to baffle me, now make a lot of sense. And looking back on the code I wrote, years ago, I can see that I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was. And I can see that I’m actually better now. I can order my thoughts more clearly, I can manage the “flow” of appropriate or distracting thoughts in my head much better, and I can tell when I’m at an impasse and need to step away and try something completely different.

And looking back, I am really glad I did not make a move to another job in the past, because no way was I ready. I just didn’t have my act together, even though I was convinced that I did. Things broke down in the interviewing and screening process for a reason — I just wasn’t ready, yet.

I’m not sure I’m ready now… but I’m getting there. I still have a fair amount to learn. And the beauty part is, I actually am learning.

It’s pretty amazing, actually. The feeling of being able to read words again and make sense of them… the feeling of being able to type things up and try them out… the feeling of seeing things that I’ve written come to life on the screen in front of me… I haven’t felt this great and hopeful for years. And I feel like I’m back on the good foot after so, so long. Almost 20 years ago, I was in this position — tooling up my skills to get the hell out of a job situation that just did not suit me. Where I was, job-wise, was totally insane, and I knew I needed to get out. Just like right now.

There are so many similarities between where I was back, in 1995, and where I am now, it’s wild. Only this time I have more perspective and more experience, so I can make my move to a whole different level. A whole new level. I know the industry I’m in much better, and I have decades of experience behind me. The best part is, employers who pay good money are getting pretty sick and tired of slackers, and they’re looking for folks with good work ethics and years of experience.

Like me.

The beauty part is, I’m actually in a good position to do this — I have tweaked my daily routine so that I have a couple of hours to learn and experiment, first thing in the morning. And I have cut out so many distractions from my daily life, that I have time to spend on my skills. I have also discovered this rocket fuel approach, which I can also do with tea (so I’m not wrecking my sleeping patterns with drinking coffee after 2 p.m.). I put some grass-fed butter in my tea, melt and stir it in, and when I drink it, I get another huge boost of energy that doesn’t get me all wired — it just keeps me going.

And then I can get to sleep at a decent hour. Last night I was in bed at 10:30, which is huge progress for me. I could have even gone to bed earlier, if I had just given up on the logic problem that was stuck in my head. I was tired. I wasn’t wired from too much coffee late in the day. And I woke up today at 6 a.m., which means I got 7-1/2 hours of sleep — more than I’ve been getting, lately. I could have easily gotten 8 hours, I believe.

“Rocket fuel” tea might be my ideal solution for late-in-the-day energy crises. I can do this and keep myself supported AND not get myself so caffeinated that I can’t get to sleep at a decent hour.

But anyway, the day is waiting. I’ve got a full docket today, and it’s going to be quite busy.

I’ve found a happy medium, however, where I frankly don’t really care about all the stress and strain. I do the best I can, and I trust what I’ve done. I don’t stress over not being able to complete everything, because I know full well that the workload they have on us is humanly impossible — and they do it on purpose, to just see how far they can push us.

I feel a rant coming on, so I’ll step away from it and just get back to “my happy place” of not really caring, one way or the other, whether things turn out well for the company or not. They clearly don’t care about my well-being, so why should I care about theirs?

Self-protective indifference works… for the time being. Soon — in the not so distant future — I’ll be in a position where I can afford to care again.

But right now is not one of those times.

Right now is the time for me to take care of myself, brush up on my skills, and do what I need to do for myself.

Onward.

The problem is not lack of sleep – it’s lack of energy

So, I made myself a different sort of coffee this morning, and the results were fantastic. Just after a couple of cups of joe that had some high-fat grass-fed butter and coconut oil in them, I felt like a completely new person.

Pretty phenomenal. And I didn’t even do the full dose.

I had high energy all morning, and I got a ton of stuff accomplished. I felt clearer than I have in quite some time — and this from just one morning.

I went out for a walk and then ran a bunch of errands, and then I came back, and was feeling a bit down. So, I had a nap, and was up an hour later to help my spouse and their business partner with some packing and hauling stuff for a trip they’re taking tonight.

After they hit the road, I made myself a big cup of tea with some butter and coconut oil, and sure enough, the energy is back again. I can’t even express how amazing it feels.

If I didn’t feel so excellent, I would weep for joy. But I’m way too happy for tears.

The thing is, I got about six hours of sleep last night. I went to bed around 10:30, but I didn’t get to sleep till around 11. Then I woke up at 5:00. Just woke up. And I was dreading today, because I have two days to do a lot of things, including some day-job work that I didn’t get done last week. But after my “bulletproof” coffee, I had such incredible energy, I felt like I’d had 8 hours of sleep, easily. And the energy lasted till about noon, when I started to drag. Six hours of steady energy is pretty danged good, considering my long-term track record.

Then I had my nap, but I was still dragging a little bit. I was feeling a bit out of it and foggy until I had my tea with the butter and coconut oil. Now I feel like myself again — with a lot of really great energy that’s not wired and jumpy. I just feel good. Like I can go for hours again. And I probably will.

So, it’s got me thinking…

I had six hours of sleep — “not enough” according to conventional wisdom — but I felt fantastic all morning.

Then I had a nap, which perked me up a bit, but still left me feeling a bit dull.

Then I had some tea with butter and coconut oil, and I’m feeling fantastic again.

Maybe the issues is not so much that I’m not getting enough sleep… as it is that my body isn’t getting enough good nutrition (high quality fats) to keep going.

Maybe the problem is not inadequate rest. Maybe the problem is available energy, and how my body is able to access and use it. Maybe my overstressed system just hasn’t been doing a good job of converting all the available resources I have into useful energy.

Maybe my brain isn’t getting what it needs to operate at peak.

But today I had a very different experience. Today I had a whole new view of what my life can be like.

More focus. More energy. More stamina. That’s been my day today. On six hours of sleep. And a nap. With two cups of “bulletproof” coffee and a cup of butter-coco-oil tea.

This means the world to me. Ever since my TBI in 2004, I have felt extremely stressed. By just about everything. That stress has been very real, and it’s cost me jobs, it nearly cost me my marriage, and it’s driven a lot of people away from me. It’s worn me down and made me feel like just a nub of a person, it’s aged me considerably, and it’s taxed me on all conceivable levels. Things got so jumbled up in my head, and I got so turned around, every day was a struggle to just figure things out. It was like trying to chop my way through the jungle with a dull machete. Just not good. Exhausting. Confusing. Frustrating. And totally unavoidable.

I had to live my life, after all, whether or not there were trails laid down for me in the jungle.

So yeah, I’ve been pretty tired for a long time. My system has been overworked, overtaxed, and I’ve been running on fumes for a long, long time.

Which is why I’m so incredibly stoked that I discovered this new way of making coffee — that actually works for me. It actually works.

Today, anyway.

I don’t want to overdo it… I’ve gotta pace myself. And it could turn out that eating all those fats doesn’t suit me for the long run, but the way I’m feeling right now, it’s like the heavens just opened up and God handed me a second chance.

Now I just need to do the right thing with it.

I’ve got some more work I need to do tonight. And again tomorrow. I think I’ll take a crack at some of it, and then save some for tomorrow. It’s all good.

And with this energy I’m feeling, I’m also better able to tell when I’m physically tired… I’m getting there.

It’s all a process, for sure. I find my life stabilizing, and now I’m ready to start rebuilding for sure. I have really gotten hammered through the years, and now all my hard work is finally paying off. So, I’ll make the most of it, and keep on keepin’ on.

It really is all good.

Onward.

Another fasting day today

A day without food means a day with more time, more focus, more clarity

Today I fast again. It’s been about a month, and I’m feeling like I need to focus my energy more, instead of building my day around breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have a lot that I want to get done, and the whole hunger-tyranny thing is getting in my way.

I spend way too much time during the day, thinking about where my next meal is coming from. I have no shortage of nutritious food around me. All I need to do is buy it and/or prepare it. I don’t eat a lot of junk food, and my diet is fairly limited, because that’s what’s healthy for me.

But I find myself spending an awful lot of time thinking about food, planning my meals, and thinking about what I’m going to eat in a few hours. I spend too much time thinking about whether or not I’m hungry, what I should eat, how much I should eat, and

It just takes up too much of my time. And I have way too much to do, to spend a lot of time frittering away my hours thinking about… food.

Plus, I have a fairly easy day today — no long commute, because I’m working remotely, and I don’t have a ton of critical meetings today. I have a fairly balanced schedule, and I should also be able to get a nap in there, somewhere. Just a short one. On the new bed I’m getting delivered today.

I’ve been sleeping on the same mattress and box spring since 1989. I know. It’s crazy. 25 years is way too long to be sleeping on the same bed. It also dates back to my first marriage, which was pretty much of a disaster, so it will be good to get it out of the house.

Why didn’t I do this before? Simple. Money. Beds are expensive, and frankly I like the old style mattresses better than the new ones. There’s been a sort of comfort in the familiarity, to tell the truth. And it’s been years since I had any association between the mattress and my first (failed) marriage.

So yeah… time. Fasting to save the time of planning meals, eating, and then digesting. Fasting to get my head back on straight. Fasting to get free of the impulses that drive me by instinct and reflex… getting out of the reactivity, and into deciding for myself what I will feel and think and do.

I applied for a job today with one of my old employers. I was with them for over 10 years, total, and they’re the place I worked when I fell in 2004 and had that TBI that really screwed me up. I wasn’t able to hang in there with them for more than a year after my brain injury, and that’s where things really melted down for me. I went back and worked for them, a few years ago – just prior to my current position. I was still on the mend — it was five years ago, that I was back with them again for about a year.

I had a mixed experience with them, the last time I was there, and I was happy to leave. But the past four years have been unbelievably trying for me, in this new position, and even though I have really made great strides in my recovery, I wouldn’t mind going back to a company that has a clue. The company I’ve been with for the past four years has a long way to go before they’re worth working for. It started out okay, then the restructurings started to happen, and now they’ve tipped even closer to useless.

Of course, in a world where people just move on ever few years, who the hell cares about whether things will work properly in the long run?

That’s the mindset I’ve adopted, lately. It’s a little sad, that I’ve just let go of the idea of staying there. I do enjoy the people I work with — somewhat. Mostly, the appeal of my teammates is that they are familiar to me. I don’t absolutely hate every single one of my coworkers, which is a plus. A handful of them, I enjoy talking to. But I don’t seek them out for company while I’m at work. Ironically, I have a better rapport with people I don’t work directly with — who I know from socializing in line at the cafeteria or getting coffee or water in the employee lounge.

And to be honest, if I never saw most of these people again in all my life, I wouldn’t care. I just wouldn’t. I don’t miss the ones who have moved on, and I can’t imagine I’m going to miss many of them when I move on. I’m not even sure why I bother with most of them on Facebook.

Anyway, I’ll get what I can out of the experience I’m having, and quit worrying about the change that comes along with finding a new position in a new place.

I just figured something out that can free me up to move sooner than I’ve been expecting to, and that really takes a load off my mind. Getting more flexible with my thinking… that’s a good thing, for sure.

That’s one of the things that fasting does for me — it gets me thinking along different lines. It gets me out of my comfortable routine — if only for a day. And it frees up the energy and time I’d usually spend spinning my wheels about meals, to think about other more important things – like my next steps. It clears my head — all the junk gets sorted into separate piles, and I’m not on autopilot like I usually am. And that’s good.

So, the day is waiting for me to step up.

Onward.

Tap those brakes…

Just a touch – not too hard – don’t go into a skid…

One thing I’m very grateful for, is that I have not been very sick at all, this past winter. This is a change from other years, when I would get very sick at least once — often twice or three times — and spend a lot of time in bed and/or recovering after the fact at maybe 2/3 of my real ability.

This year, I have a slightly different challenge — things are going so well for me, and I have so much to keep me busy, and I am functioning so well, that I am pushing myself much too hard, and it’s dragging me down.

I’m doing it to myself, really. And it’s no fun.

Yesterday was a tough one for me. The morning was full and pretty packed with intensity. I had a deadline to meet, and the folks on my team who were supposed to work with me to get there, were making extremely poor decisions. Their work product was substandard, and they were telling me that insisting that things work properly was unrealistic and out of line.

Well, okay then.

I did as much as I could, I sent an email to my boss explaining the situation, in case they caught hell for the result — which was entirely possible. It wasn’t about “tattling” on anyone, just giving the person in the line of fire the right information to defend their position — which is always a likelihood where I work.

After that, I checked out for the day. I set my out of office message for noontime on, then I logged off around 2, took a shower, and went to bed. I was incredibly dizzy and seriously wired. All the frenetic activity of the past several weeks, without any serious extended downtime (as in, more than several hours at a time), has kicked my ass. I felt like crap, and I just couldn’t do it anymore.

So, I crashed. I got about an hour of sleep, then I lay in bed reading FB and news. After a while, I got up and decided I needed to ride the exercise bike, because I needed to move some lymph. The lymphatic system is what moves waste out of our systems, and it doesn’t move on its own. Circulation moves it, so if you’re sedentary and you’re not moving very much, you end up with a bunch of gunk in your system. It’s basic physiology/ physics. If you want to feel better and take a load off your system, get your heart rate up and get your blood pumping, and the lymph will clear out the crap.

When I got downstairs, my spouse was there and they started to ask me about things I was supposed to do for them, over the past several days. I have had no time to do much of anything, other than work-work, as well as take care of myself, and it really pissed me off that they couldn’t say anything to me without it adding crap to their endless honey-do list. I swear to God, I get sick of being treated like “the hired help” at home. I don’t have any other use and purpose, other than doing my spouse’s bidding? Geez.

So, I snapped and went off, and of course I looked like the crazy person, because I was just so beside myself, with being so dizzy, not feeling well, and not feeling like I can ever get a break — especially in my own home. Everybody wants something. Everybody needs something. And because I’m able to give everybody just about everything they want, just the way they want it (that’s been my bread-n-butter for as long as I can remember), the requests just keep on coming.

When I protest and put my foot down about everybody pulling on me and demanding sh*t from me, everyone wants to know what I want from them.

Here’s the thing:

I DON’T WANT ANYTHING FROM ANYONE.

I WANT TO PEACEFULLY CO-EXIST WITH OTHERS IN A NEUTRAL SPACE, TO LIVE MY LIFE FREE OF OTHERS’ CONTROL AND JUDGMENT AND MANIPULATION.

I WANT TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE AS AUTONOMOUS ADULTS WITHOUT A HIDDEN AGENDA.

I WANT TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE EMOTIONALLY SELF-SUFFICIENT AND DON’T WANT TO USE EVERYONE ELSE AS A CRUTCH TO SHORE UP THEIR FLAGGING SELF-ESTEEM.

I WANT A BREAK FROM BEING EVERYONE’S “SAFETY BLANKET” AND I WANT PEOPLE TO LEARN TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES AND APPROACH ME AS ADULTS WHO ARE ABLE TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR OWN SENSE OF SELF, WITHOUT DEMANDING THAT I DO IT FOR THEM.

I have no need to control others. I have no need to manipulate others. I am wholly capable of knowing who I am and supplying my own self-esteem and going quite happily about my business without needing to be constantly reminded by others who I am, what I’m about, what matters to me, what my goals and values are, etc. etc. etc.

And I am sick and tired of being surrounded by others who can’t figure that sh*t out. At home. At work. Out on the street. In groups of friends and acquaintances. They’re everywhere.

I swear to GOD, I have had it up to here with people who just help themselves to other people’s energy and attention, like it even belongs to them.

It doesn’t. My energy and attention is my own, and they can’t just waltz in and help themselves to it.

And I deeply resent others who have such a sense of entitlement to my energy, my attention, my focus, my help.  Friggin’ vampires.

Yes, I make them feel better. Yes, I help them feel more balanced and confident and self-assured. But what does it do for me? Not a damn’ thing. If anything, it just drags me down and prevents me from taking care of my own stuff.

And I fall behind. And I get overwhelmed. And I run out of energy. And I end up extremely dizzy with a splitting headache and a foul temper that just makes me feel like crap after my outbursts.

Which is really bad for me.

And it cannot stand.

So, clearly I need to change the way I do things and get my act in order. Gotta draw some boundaries and take care of my own damn’ self. And I can’t do that, if I’m exhausted and completely depleted by other people’s draining needs.

I’m feeling better today — more rested, after getting to bed relatively early last night. I was in bed around 10:30, which is about where I need to be. I woke up around 4:00, which meant I got 5-1/2 hours of sleep, which is NOT enough. But instead of getting up, I just lay in bed, relaxing. I just lay there in the warm bed and breathed… paying attention to how I was feeling, and consciously relaxing.

It felt pretty good, too, and although I didn’t get back to sleep, at least I was resting. And when I got up, I felt better.

I really need to get back to listening to Belleruth Naparstek’s “Stress Hardiness Optimization” CD. It’s designed for first responders and other folks in high-stress situations, to help them relax and overcome the negative effects of stress. I used to listen to it all the time, then for some reason I took it off my smartphone, and I replaced it with the soundtrack of “The Crow”. If you know the death-metal soundtrack to “The Crow”, you know what a 180-degree turn this is.

And you know how much sense it makes, to swap out the listening material on my smartphone…

Anyway, these are just things I need to address, and I’ll address them. I’ve got a lot of problems that are really good problems to have — a job that challenges me on many levels and has a ton of opportunity… a house that needs to be taken care of… a marriage I need to sustain… and time that I need to manage properly.

I just need to make sure that I don’t overdo it.

Well, it’s time to get going. The day awaits.

Onward…

Help for a racing heart rate

This post How I learned to slow my heart rate is by far the most popular one on this site, and it has helped a lot of people, from what they tell me. Folks have shared links to it, and hundreds of people see it each week, which makes me very glad.

Some have even said it helped “save their life” — and that makes me even happier :)

It’s actually a really short post, so I have written an extended PDF version of this that you can download and save to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can also share it with others. It’s free.

Here it is: How I slow down my heart rate (click here to download)

Please remember: I am not a doctor. I am not qualified to give medical advice. I have just found a technique that works for me and helps me get my heart rate under control in a few minutes. I hope it helps others, but it’s not a substitute for medical care. See your doctor if you have issues and/or concerns.

Thanks. And be well.

What they don’t know about mild TBI is a lot

I recently started seeing an acupuncturist to help with pain and mobility issues. I’ve been wanting to have some acupuncture done for some time, but I never got around to it until recently. My neck is messed up, and so is my lower back. I also have a lot of pain in my hands, and my carpal tunnel is acting up again with all the typing and computer work I’ve been doing, lately. I’ve been going about 13-14 hours a day, sometimes longer, and it’s taking a toll, all over. I know that getting some exercise and moving will do wonders for me — and I have been doing that — but I have some longstanding issues with a lack of “flow” and I know people who have had good experience with acupuncture, especially the particular person I’ve gone to see.

So, I had an intake interview with them this past Monday, and we ran through my medical history, which is largely uninteresting, other than all the various injuries I’ve had, including my mild TBIs. The acupuncturist was interested to hear about my history, but they didn’t seem to put much stock in the neuropsychological aspects of it, and they talked about resolving my TBI issues by balancing my polarity, so my body can repair itself.

They also talked about how my fatigue and irritability are related to my meridians and somesuch, and they said that me getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night should be sufficient.

Well, okay. That’s fine. I appreciate their point of view, as they are a very experienced acupuncturist. However, they didn’t seem to pay any attention at all to the neurological aspects of it, as though the thing that really matters is meridians and energy flow. I didn’t want to get into it with them, because they were pretty locked on target with their outlook, and when people are that wedded to their point of view, there’s not much sense in trying to enlighten then.

This can be frustrating, though, because people in all healthcare fields need to have an appreciation of how altering the ways your brain’s synapses are connected can really screw up your life. So much begins and ends there, and unless that’s considered centrally to your whole experience, a lot of suffering can continue unaddressed  — and unabated. But here I am, with a counselor who helps me work through the daily business of just keeping things together — who doesn’t know much about TBI and doesn’t pretend to — and an acupuncturist who knows a whole lot about Chinese medicine, but has a more “energy work” approach to TBI issues. And then I’ve got my neuropsychologist, who understands how everything is put together and knows how to identify the core neurological issues that are causing me grief.

So, my strategy for dealing with this acupuncturist, is to focus on the areas where they have expertise, and also to not let them dominate the discussion about how to address my overall health issues. It’s fine if they have a certain outlook, and they approach things from their point of view. But there is a whole lot more to my situation that is directly related to neurological issues from all my mild TBIs, that needs to be addressed at a neuropsychological level.

I can’t get hung up on people not fully appreciating neuropyschology. Even if they are trained healthcare professionals. They know what they know, and they specialize. I just can’t get caught up in relying solely on one individual for my overall health and well-being.

That would be up to me.

So, onward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back again… Kind of

Ahhhhh…..

So, I’m back from my travels to sunny California, where the weather was even better than it normally is, this time of year. San Francisco was actually warm and clear — if you can imagine — and farther south towards LA and San Diego, there was yet more beautiful weather. Pretty amazing. Unfortunately, folks are in drought there, so the “nice” weather has a down-side. But for my selfish, temporary purposes, it was ideal.

I spent a lot of time inside, unfortunately. Didn’t get to soak up much sun. :( I had a lot of indoor work to do, managing a team of folks who were taking care of some of the logistics… as well as having meetings with colleagues I only get to see once or twice a year. I had to be ON, most of the time — always alert, always ready to interact, always ready to change gears and reach out to people and be responsive to their needs and requests, at a moment’s notice.

In past years, this conference has really torn the living crap out of me, with the constant going and doing and talking and moving and shaking. It’s taken me years to acclimate to the experience of never knowing when I’m going to run into someone I need to talk to. This year, though, I was able to really pace myself and not over-do it. I was present, in the moment, responsive, engaged, and I was actually “on”, with as many pistons firing as humanly possible.

I also took breaks when I needed to, and I didn’t try to go to too many events and sessions that didn’t have anything to do with me directly. I stepped away and took breaks when I needed to, instead of pushing myself back into the fray. I spent a fair amount of time alone, which was good. Best of all, I didn’t feel guilty about it or tell myself I should have been doing something different. I’ve worked this conference two other times, so I knew everyone I was managing, and I knew how the conference would flow. I also knew that nothing terrible was going to happen, if I didn’t do everything that was available to me. In past years, I have felt tremendous pressure (from within) to be 500% ON — ALL THE TIME. Not this year, though. And it paid off. I’m really tired, but I’m not trashed, like I have been in the past.

I had great times with people there. I had some great dinners and breakfasts and lunches with colleagues and other conference attendees. I got a lot of great ideas from people about new things to do and try, and there’s no lack of things to think about and work through, now that I’m back.

Speaking of being back, it’s high time I got ready for work. Jet lag is messing with my internal clock, so it’s time to reset and start fresh!

Onward.

Fasting night last night

I had an unexpected opportunity, last night — I got to fast, because I ended up flying solo for the evening, and I had to work late, so my schedule was all thrown off, and I didn’t need to make supper. The last thing I ate yesterday was at about 2:30 p.m., and I fasted till about 8:00 a.m. today, so that’s close to 18 hours, which is about the right amount of time for me to fast.

I’ve been meaning to fast more often — not dysfunctionally, but on a regular basis, to not only keep my calorie count down, but to also give my system a rest from digesting and also trigger some autophagy… where the body “eats” up the unnecessary gunk in your cells and cleans itself.

Fasting overnight seems like a good option for me. I can do it fairly easily — all I have to do is distract myself during the day, and then I get a steady period of sleep where I am not even capable of feeling hungry. It could work. I’m sure the physiological mechanisms of fasting are different between night and day, but even so. It’s something.

I’ve been really giving a lot of thought to how I eat, lately. I do it pretty sparingly, actually, while keeping up pretty good nutrition. I have a breakfast with protein and some fruit, I have an apple a day, and then I have a light lunch that’s balanced — either a big bowl of soup or a salad, sometimes a calzone (when I’m in the rare mood)… and my snack is a cup of trail mix that’s made of dried fruit and mixed nuts. For supper, I’ll make a full home-cooked meal made from scratch, with meat and starch and vegetables.

All in all, I think I eat a heck of a lot better than the average American, and I eat a heck of a lot less, too. I’ve sworn off junk food, I seldom have bread/grains/gluten, and only rarely do I have candy or soda/carbonated drinks. I’ve just lost all interest in most of them, and I can stand in the candy aisle at the supermarket and not feel the slightest pang of hunger when I look at most of the crap on the shelves.

In fact, I have no interest in eating just about anything in the center of the grocery store. The center of the store is where the processed foods are stocked — all the stuff that’s so laced with chemicals that it will survive “fresh” long enough to see my grand-nieces and -nephew’s great-great-grandchildren.

Yah, no thanks.

Anyway, I’m hoping this little bit of fasting will help me flush out some of the cold-season gunk that’s been building up. I’m feeling a little low — lots of excitement at work — and I don’t want it to get the best of me… especially because I’m going out of town for business in another week. Gotta stay healthy, for sure.

Onward.

 

 

How quickly things can change

July is nearly over. August is soon upon us. Back-to-school ads are starting to play on television and radio, which always makes me nostalgic as well as a little melancholy. Back-to-school time was always hard for me. I loved the summers, being free to come and go as I pleased, being able to stay in the woods at the end of our street, or playing sports with the rec league, having the freedom to do as I wished, as well as balance out my summer jobs with other things I wanted to do.

School was so contrived, so challenging, so threatening for me. I was bullied intensely in school – during my 5th and 7th grade school years, at two different schools – and I anticipated the start of the academic year with a mix of excitement and dread. I never knew how things were going to turn out, but I soldiered on and tried not to make things too difficult for my parents.

Looking back, I realize now just how much everything got to me. I tried not to let on that I was having a hard time with things. I’m not even sure if I fully realized how hard things were for me — it was all I knew, so I just kept going, tried to keep interested and engaged in life around me, and did my best under the circumstances. But it was so hard. I’m sure it is for everyone — I just didn’t know how to handle it well on the inside. I was so confused and so frustrated, so much of the time, but I just kept going

I just kept going.

One of the things that makes my memories of back-to-school so poignant, is how hard-up my family was, just trying to make ends meet. I hear all these stories, these days, about how hard things are for people, and I have a mix of feelings about that. On the one hand, I understand how difficult it is to not have the means to provide for yourself. On the other hand, I don’t understand how people can treat smart phones and expensive clothing and shoes and eating out like they are “staples”. When I was growing up, my parents had very little money, and we supplemented by growing our own food and making our own clothing and cutting corners wherever we could. Back-to-school was not about fashion and school accessories. It was about getting one pair of jeans, two new shirts, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, and every few years a new belt if it was needed. My mother sewed a lot of our clothing, and we inherited a lot of hand-me-downs from cousins who had more money than we did. Brand new clothes were a luxury we did not take for granted, and we mostly bought them from a catalog, which sent the shirts and pants individually wrapped in clear plastic and packed into a cardboard box.

Looking around at the world today, I’m astounded at the glut of consumer items that are on the market today. It’s as mind-boggling as it seems pointless to me. So much that we have is little more than an expensive distraction from what we really need to deal with, and we can actually get by on very little, if we pick and choose carefully.

I grew up with a lot of scarcity – we had a big family, and my parents both worked jobs with small salaries. We made ends meet, and we didn’t starve. We had plenty of things to occupy our attention and keep us busy, and even though growing up was very hard at times, I still made it. And I learned a ton of valuable lessons in the process.

Probably the biggest lesson I learned, was how to seem rich even when I was poor. I came from a very poor part of town, but because I knew how to learn and I stood out as a smart kid in school who was also good at sports, I ended up hanging out with the rich kids a lot. For some reason, I’ve always ended up hanging out with rich people, even though a lot of days I don’t have two quarters to rub together, and I’m in constant danger of getting something turned off. There have been lots of times when I had almost nothing, I was dealing with debt collectors and lawyers, I was getting nasty-grams from the mortgage company, and utilities collections people knew me on a first-name basis… and I had to come up with hundreds of dollars to pay for car repairs or somesuch. But I always ended up hanging out with people who were doing really well.

And things always turned around. It’s weird, because when I think, “Things are going to turn around soon,” I often get this image of a down-and-out “loser” or gambler or some other sort of con artist who’s ignoring all the obvious signs that their life is shit and is going nowhere, thanks to their piss-poor decisions. That’s a classic line from someone who banks on a big score, rather than a lot of hard work over the long run, to get them where they’re going. But in my case, it actually seems to happen for me. Things do turn around. They look up. I perk up. And I get out of my poor-me funk and can get on with my life.

Things change. They really do. That’s something I need to really concentrate on and keep focused on. Because right now, things are looking pretty dismal. I need to do some house repairs, and the bids I’m getting are pretty far over what I can comfortably afford to pay – and that’s not even considering the structural issues the contractors may uncover in the course of the job.

It’s pretty friggin’ depressing, all around. I know it’s a process, and I know that there’s going to be some negotiation that takes place, but the whole situation just dogs me. I wish I just had the money and could move forward with it. But that’s not the reality. And I’m not going to have the money until I can change jobs and get a decent contract that pays me what I’m worth on the market, instead of this pathetic situation I’m in at work. Yeah, it’s a process. A pain in the ass process.

But that can change. Of course it can. I’m being silly if I think it’s going to stay this way forever. Life – by its very nature – is about change, so whatever situation I’m chafing about now, will by definition not exist in another six months. In some ways it will be better. In other ways it will be worse. Whatever. It will be.

So, life goes on. I signed up for Angie’s List today and found several more contractors who can come and bid on this home renovation project I have to do. If they can come on Friday, that would be ideal, because my spouse is going out of town for three days — and I’ll have that time to myself, to sort things out and put a number of things in order. My spouse has been having a lot of health troubles, and that’s been a huge demand on my time and energy. They don’t take care of themself — or chores around the house or the bills — adequately, so I end up picking up the slack and doing damage control. They’re also having a ton of problems with anxiety and depression, so that’s another significant demand on my energy — just keeping them out of the pit of despair…

It’s been working, but it’s been a ton of work. Oh hell, I should do this kind of thing for a living – I’d probably make a mint. If I can keep my profoundly depressed and anxious spouse at least somewhat functional — and active enough to go on business trips — I must have some mental health mojo going on.

Then again, it’s challenging enough doing this at home during almost every waking hour. Doing it for a living would probably put me over the edge.

… and it occurs to me that perhaps this is why I have chosen to work with computers for the past 20+ years — they never get depressed, they don’t overeat and neglect their physical health, they don’t constantly nag and harass me over every little thing, and I don’t have to be constantly careful about what I say and do because of a wild-ass irrational over-reaction based on some fantasy about what might be happening and what that might mean.

Yeah – no – going down a mental health career path doesn’t interest me. I take it back.

Plus, the pay really sucks, from what I hear.

Anyway, life goes on. I am doing pretty well, under the circumstances, and even though I’m not getting everything done that I have been hoping to, I’m still making progress. I’m learning as I go, and I’m adjusting my approach as needed. I get to decide how I feel about things, and what I do with the information I get. My life isn’t perfect, but my experience of it can change in an instant, so that’s what I’m focusing on — the experience.

Very few other things are under my control. But what I choose to make of everything that crosses my path, most certainly is.

So… onward.

 

Feel like crap, but I don’t care

This is my whole new attitude, these days. And it seems to be working. Ironically, when I stopped worrying about feeling like crap, and I quite trying to always get myself into a “good space”, I immediately began to feel better.

I got about 6-1/2 hours of sleep last night. I had a 2-hour nap yesterday afternoon, which helped me yesterday, but it left me feeling almost worse after I got up. I am really dragging, today — probably due to having lost a LOT of sleep last week (waking up at 2:30, not being able to get back to sleep), and not being anywhere near caught up. Another thing that’s dragging me down is a bunch of things I meant to do yesterday, but didn’t get to, for one reason or another.

Anyway, this morning I’m foggy and slow and “clunky” – about the only way I know how to describe it. I am definitely not sharp, and even a cold shower and some exercise didn’t perk me up. Part of it is my mood. I’m not feeling very positive about my life, right now. A lot of situations around me seem really messed up, and it’s completely out of my control. It wouldn’t be so bad, if it didn’t affect me, but people close to me — family and friends alike — are making incredibly bad decisions, in my opinion. Actually, no, it’s not my opinion. They really are making bad decisions that have bad consequences. It would be easy to sit back and say, “Oh, too bad – not my problem,” but ultimately it will fall on me to help them put the pieces back together — pieces that they broke, to begin with.

It’s all way too messed up, in my opinion. Especially with the stupid health decisions, some of which are landing my relatives in the hospital. People are seriously causing themselves a lot of suffering because of how they don’t take care of their bodies, minds, and emotions. So many things around me seem broken and sad, and I cannot do a thing to change them. I have friends who tend to see the world in recovery-type terms, and they love to go on about “co-dependency”. I don’t think I’m being “co-dependent”, wanting the best for other people and wanting them to make decisions that make them happy and healthy, rather than stressed and fried. I don’t think it’s a sign of a problem, for me to genuinely care about others… and also care about myself and my own limited bandwidth. I feel like I have to be on constant guard against people close to me, because they are so habituated to patterns of thought and action which do not help them in the least — if anything, they work against them.

Everybody seems so caught up in their illusions and confusions, and they apparently love it. I know how that goes — it makes them feel alive. But for me, it’s a total friggin’ drain. And the thing that drains me the most is feeling like people close to me are getting progressively worse, not better, and they’re on this downward slide into one form of madness or another. Meanwhile, they’re sucking up valuable time and energy from the things that I really care about and the things I want (and need) to do.

It sends me over the edge. Like last night, when I went out to pick up some dinner with a friend, and we ended up arguing and tossing f-bombs at each other in the restaurant parking lot. Nothing like a little public display and disturbing the peace to round off a really aggravating afternoon with this person who loves to get riled over all kinds of crap, is diabetic, overweight and they don’t watch their blood pressure. Not only are they becoming increasingly difficult to deal with, but they’re also one of my main supports. The restaurant staff were understandably wary — good thing we got the food to go.

Note to self: Make New Friends, because the ones I have aren’t taking good enough care of themselves to be around for the long run. I expect to be visiting this friend in the hospital within a few years — again. I went through a near-death experience with them nearly 10 years ago, and it wasn’t fun. The prospect of doing it all over again (if they survive this time), is one of the little black clouds that hangs over my head regularly.

Well, the only thing I can do, is try to stay strong and positive in my own life, do things that make me feel like a real person again, and let me get my life back. I get sick of feeling like someone else’s sounding board/punching bag, when they aren’t being responsible with their own physical, mental, and emotional health, helping them pick up the pieces that they break apart and throw all over the place.

Call me “The Cleaner”. Only I don’t get paid for this job.

Well, I’m sick of bitching about everything. Vent, vent… whatever. I’m not feeling well physically, and I know it. That messes with my frame of mind, and it makes me touchy and edgy — things that I usually take in stride don’t get to me. I have another day to myself before I go back to that hell-hole of work. At least tomorrow I have all-day training that will help me get to the next stage of my working life. I think this is going to be good — it’s formal training in something I’ve been doing on my own, on the side, and it will give me a good idea of I’ve learned enough and if I’m expert enough to market that skill. It’s almost like a formality for me, but it’s an important one.

So, that’s a positive thing.

Summer is winding down, and I know that things can change in an instant with me and my outlook. All it takes is a little bit of good news, and I’m back. I know I’m tired, and I’m feeling crappy today, but that doesn’t need to derail my day. I have a wide variety of things I can think about and focus on, so if I can manage to get myself out of that bad headspace, it can only help.

At least I am centered and doing well in my own life and my own head. Public melt-downs aside, I’m doing pretty well, I have to say. I’ve been making good progress with my projects (marketing pains notwithstanding), and I’m feeling really positive about where things are going. I have a meeting coming up this week with some folks who may be able to help me reach some of my goals, so that’s encouraging. And I have other folks who have expressed interest in what I’m doing and may want to help in other ways. I just need to clear some of the extraneous stuff off my plate, take care of little to-do items that are hanging over my head, and just move forward.

Yeah, keep moving forward… Use the anxious, nervous energy I have for something that’s positive and pro-active. Don’t fight that energy, use it.

Which brings me back to the original theme of this post — feeling like crap, but not caring. When I stopped fighting feeling like crap and decided to just go with it… and use the energy for something positive… things started to really look up for me. There is an awful lot in my life that is just plain wrong, but rather than fight it or struggle with it, when I accept it and then take that anger/sadness/frustration and channel the energy into a positive activity, things really start to turn around for me.

And this is new. Because all my life, I’ve been in damage-control mode, where I had to have everything just-so, in order to do anything. Now that I’ve stopped caring so much about things being p.e.r.f.e.c.t. I have access to this store of energy I can use for other things. Instead of pushing it down, I let the anger/sadness/frustration just bubble up, and then I direct it towards what I want to do with it.

In the end, it’s all just energy. What I do with it, is my choice.

And right now, I’m choosing to go do something I meant to do yesterday, but didn’t get the time. I have the time now. So, let’s do it.