Finding Monday

Rise and shine...

I was up early this morning. I just woke up, as I often do. I tend to have early meetings on Mondays, so I have gotten in the habit of waking myself up early. That’s changing, though, and my Monday mornings are being pushed back a few hours, so there’s no need for me to be up before dawn.

This morning, as I lay in bed, looking at the still-dark window, my head was going a mile a minute. This is classic for when I’m tired. I had a pretty active weekend, and I wore myself out. Didn’t get as much rest as I needed, but I did have a great time. Now I’m paying for it — I’ve got some time blocked off later this afternoon to do my breathing and get some rest, so I’m not terribly worried about being able to keep up. But seeing the workings of my head going full-speed-ahead as the sky is just starting to get light… well, that’s classic fatigue-driven adrenaline-pumped gears churning.

With all this Occupy Wall Street stuff going on, I’ve been pondering lately what it is that we’re doing with ourselves…? Where is this country going, and how is it that there is such a disconnect between the protesters and the people who work in the buildings where they are demonstrating? Having worked in finance in the past, and having once been part of one of the big companies that people are so actively faulting and blaming, I wonder at the disconnect between the way “the bankers” are portrayed, and how they really are in real life. I’m not making apologies for anyone – as far as I’m concerned, it’s corporate policy and assumptions about what constitutes “good business” that are to blame, much more than individual people making such-and-such amount of money. But that’s another post for another time — probably never, actually.

Perhaps more pertinent to my own situation… What am I doing with myself? I have a job, I have a house, I’m pretty far behind in many respects, and I’m nowhere close being able to afford to do the repairs on the house that it needs. But I’m not about to go out and protest about what others have done “to” me with their policies and priorities. Maybe it’s just me, but in all my years of all my difficulties, I’ve never had trouble finding work. And I wonder about the people who do. I can’t speak for them, but I’ve always been prepared to do what needed to be done to put food on the table — and that involved a lot of really degrading “below my pay grade” work over the years… which I always parlayed into something else.

Now I look around me, and it seems like I’m sorta kinda running out of options. It’s not that I’m in danger of losing my job — I feel a little like I’m slotted into a position that doesn’t have a lot of room for advancement — or the advancement it offers isn’t something I truly want, or that I can even do. I work for a company that’s global, and the people who are rising, do a lot of traveling. I don’t have the funds — or the time — to be spending shuttling back and forth across the oceans. The company reimburses you everything, but I literally don’t have the $500 to front for hotel and taxi and other incidentals till I get reimbursed. That old adage, “You have to spend money to make money,” comes to mind. But I’m neither able to do that, nor in the mood to throw money around. I just don’t feel like it. Nor do I have the time to go flying around, getting jet-lagged, hob-nobbing, etc. I don’t feel like doing that, either. Seeing the world is all very well and good, but I’d rather do it on my own steam, on my own time, in my own way — not as part of a rushed business trip.

So, on a Monday morning, here I sit in the early morning light, pondering my fate. We’re moving offices in less than two weeks, to a place that’s twice as far from home as my current office. More time in the car. More gas expenses… I don’t feel like doing that, either. I just don’t. Part of me just wants to settle in to a simple life, plant and tend a garden, make things with my hands, watch the seasons come and go, and just be. Pursue a dedicated life of contemplation and service, with a nice daily ritual to keep me on track.

But when I think about it, maybe that’s what I have already. I am just so busy looking for what’s better, that I lose sight of the things around me that are immediate and real and have the very qualities I seek in my ideal life. I have valuable knowledge about what conscious breathing can do for me, and I have the ability to get to a state of peace, calm, and balance, by focusing on my steady breath for 5-10 minutes. For all my imagining about how much better it would be, if I could extract myself from my current work situation, the fact is that the things I think that would get me are actually available to me on a daily basis, regardless of my employer. That means that my job is NOT keeping me from whatever peace I desire. And although the money isn’t there to do things like travel for my job, it isn’t keeping me from interacting with my overseas counterparts on a regular basis. That’s what email and the phone are for.

So, what this morning really boils down to for me, is that it’s not the external situation that is keeping me from living my life — it’s how I relate to it — if I am engaged, if I am open to what it brings, if I am willing to put myself into it and do those things I think a “simpler” life would offer — service and contemplation. Nothing around me is preventing me from having those things right now — the only one stopping me… is me.

That all being said, I know what I need to do — find the Monday morning in my heart as well as my head, and get right with my life as it is — here and now. It’s pointless to run away from what’s waiting for me. It’s also pointless to think that a drastic change in how I live my life would really solve anything. My ways of doing things would follow me wherever I go, and knowing myself, even the simplest, most contemplative life would end up a complicated mess, if I let myself have free rein.

So, there we have it. It’s not Monday that’s the problem. It’s not my job or my employer or my office that’s the problem. It’s my attitude, my desire to perpetually kick back and do nothing at all. It’s my fantasies about how much better things would be… if only.

But time’s getting away from me. I need to prepare for a conference call. Life, if I take a close enough look at it from the right angle, is perfectly fine and good.

Monday is here. And so am I.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

4 thoughts on “Finding Monday”

  1. BB-

    The frustration with corporations is that they have been able to take advantage of numerous legal (and sometimes questionably legal or even illegal) means to avoid taxes and to manipulate government and the economy. These practices may produce financial gains for a few but leave the vast majority of Americans without things like jobs and health insurance. Yet, these same corporations pay little or no taxes because of the way they are structured. These same corporations can also dramatically impact the cultural directions of our country – for example congress now has to pass a bill to force make it illegal for corporations to refuse to hire the unemployed. Yes, that is right, the unemployed are considered not good prospects for employment by these companies. These same folks would fire you in 30 seconds flat if they knew you had a brain injury – regardless of your performance. And they would also accuse you of being lazy and on the dole if you tried to collect disability. Not good enough to work and not good enough to collect disability.

    The job situation in this country is HORRENDOUS. You have written about some of your struggles on the job – all I can say is that you are lucky you are still working. Where I am even small mistakes lead to termination. I have worked dozens of menial jobs – but they do nothing for your resume and even if you work 12 hours days at $10/hr for 7 days a week you would still BARELY be making enough to stay alive in this economy, especially if you had children. Forget having a house.

    Yes, attitude is important – because it saves your sanity and helps you learn and keeps you open to the possibilities. But pain and suffering and loss are real and happen and aren’t swept under the table with attitude. I understand that you are considering how you can make more money and solve you financial problems but the answer is the ugly and short one – you can’t. The NYTimes had an interesting article about a woman who chose to live on 100/week or less on food, to avoid the grocery store as much as possible (she had 2 children and herself). She did it too – she grew most of her own stuff. There are also farmers market barters where you can exchange foodstuff. I know that this is not the answer we all want to hear, I know I feel that I have no time at all for such nonsense – but then I think about how much I spend at the grocery and I think – maybe……and maybe there are other things too.

    But don’t ever suggest that people can find work if they really want. I have really wanted for years – it ain’t there. This is America, land of the unemployed.

    m

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  2. m –

    You’re right on many counts… I just wonder out loud sometimes. I don’t doubt for a moment that I’d be out on my a** if anyone at work found out I had a brain injury (or 2 or 9). Which is why I keep my anonymity intact and defend it with all my might.

    Yes. It IS hard out there. At the same time, I think there are a lot of folks who have unrealistic expectations of their prospects. Just because you have a college degree does not mean you are entitled to anything — other than the obligation to repay your loans. The thought of people racking up tends of thousands of dollars of college debt in hopes of what is frankly a long shot chills me to the bone. And it doesn’t stop with the younger generation. I have talked to many an out of work highly qualified professional peer who had been offered work, but turned it down, because it wasn’t an exact fit. Please. How frustrating is it, to watch your able-bodied friends choosing unemployment over doing work that “doesn’t suit them”. And then they complain that thre’s “no work”. There WAS work for them – it just wasn’t what they’re looking for. It’s maddening.

    Steve Jobs dropped out of college decades ago, because he saw the same thing happening to his parents’ hard-earned life savings that people are seeing happen now — going away, with no guarantee of it ever paying off. Yet countless people persist in believing that academic credentials will clinch a position for them. I think there is some real adjusting that people need to do, and from the quality of work ethic (or lack thereof) of the younger generation I work with, if all these folks are fed into the workforce and don’t adjust their attitude towards doing a full day’s work, this country will be in even bigger trouble in another ten years.

    On the other hand, others’ poor work ethic is more job security for me. And no, I’m NOT proud about the kind of work I do. I’ve deliberately generalized so I’m more versatile and I can “plug in” to a variety of jobs. I do what’s necessary to put food on the table, within the limits of the law and my own dignity. I will take work that is “beneath” me. Been doing it for years, then I trade up. And so far, it’s working out.

    Of course, that could change in an instant. But that’s what my network of headhunters is for…

    As for companies and their underhanded techniques… Who ever said they cared about anything except their own survival? They don’t care. They can’t afford to care. The only reason they do what they do is to continue to exist. The minute they start “caring” and making choices that affect their bottom lines and dividend payouts, is the minute they start undermining the countless pension funds and other institutional investments that are tied up with them — who most certainly will bail without a moment’s notice, if the $$$ return doesn’t justify their investment. The whole system, not just individual companies doing unscrupulous things, is a setup. And unless we can figure out a way to divest and not have our aging population’s and institutions’ futures be dependent upon the profitability of these companies, we have about as much chance of changing things as a icicle has a chance of getting out of hell in one piece.

    Want to change things? Shift the balance of power in share holdings — all across the board. Then things *might* start to change.

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  3. I don’t know where you are in the country but I don’t see poor work ethic, I see people who are not given the necessary training, I see organizations that do not understand people skills, I see a focus on ‘make the numbers look good’ rather than produce quality (which takes longer and is slower), II see a lot of confusion and lack of interest in developing a corporate culture etc. Steve Jobs was a rarity – not the norm. College is not necessary for everyone but few people will get by without it in the business world today. One of the smartest people I know on my job – a very very hard worker – is held back by a lack of degree (policy they are told). In fact most people feel a graduate degree is now required for significant advancement.

    I know of no one who has turned down a job that pays enough to support them (yes, some have turned down jobs that would not pay enough for survival and that is a questionable move).

    Companies CAN afford to care – the question is do you invest in building a firm on ethical principals over the long term or do you build firm that seeks any loophole it can find to make money immediately for a few; the future be damned. These companies are not in the least invested in the aging population or any population, they protect the interests of only a few and use the fear to keep people believing in their necessity.

    Do you not feel any anger that you cannot reveal your BI and keep your job? Wouldn’t it be a life saver for you to be able to have a quiet place to rest for 30 minutes during the day? Wouldn’t it be great if you had a quiet space to work, that requests were clearly communicated?

    If you are the same person with a BI then without why would you be out on your a** if they knew?

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  4. I think organizations quit focusing on people skills when we all became “human resources”. The numbers have to look good — and only a quarter at a time — because bonuses depend on them, and climbers will be climbers. People are so profoundly mercenary at so many levels, how could they create a meaningful corporate culture? Who expects to be around long enough to see the fruits of those labors? Loyalty to employees is long gone, as is loyalty to employers. It hasn’t been there since Drexel Burnham went down and firms started to lay off left and right. Don’t get me started on outsourcing.

    I get that degree business – I’m on the receiving end of it, myself. I have no degree for my four years – ran out of money and had to make it on my own… oh, and there was that homeless business, too. So, I recognize that my future at my employer is limited. But then, from what I’ve seen, so is everyone else’s. Seriously, can you truly expect long-term prospects to be good for any of us? This is the era of “re-badging” people six months before they retire. Happened to a friend of mine. He’s painting abstracts now, making a little money on the side.

    I do know people who have turned down jobs that would support them. I also know people who refused to consider contracting, even though it would have kept them in the market and led to other things. It’s one of the most frustrating things to watch.

    The whole ethics thing… I really don’t know where ethics can come in, when you’re talking millions, even billions of dollars. I’m not saying that companies are actually invested in anyone or anything — when institutional investors put their stewarded pension funds into the shares of a certain company, and that company cannot deliver the numbers, quarter by quarter, the funds will go elsewhere. I deeply regret that an entire generation has so much of their retirement funds wrapped up in rapacious companies that are so bottom-line driven, so if those companies go down, and the value of their shares drops, then the amount of funds in the pensions drops as well. It’s disheartening.

    Things like this worry me: http://www.efinancialnews.com/story/2011-02-08/us-pension-plans-grow-hedge-fund-holdings

    As for anger about not being able to reveal my BI? Yes and no. On the one hand, it would be nice to be able to tell people so they could understand, but truthfully, everyone I have told has NOT understood, and they have refused to learn more. “But you’re so smart!” they all say, and they fall back on some excuse that keeps them from dealing with me as the person I have become. I don’t expect any more from an employer or co-workers. They’re not going to get it — they rely on me to be solid for them, strong, reliable, dependable, and a cornerstone team member who they can always turn to in a pinch. Brain injury kinda rules that out, in the minds of far too many, and I refuse to live my life like an educational PSA. I just want to get my work done, not process people’s questions.

    As for resting 30 minutes during the day, I do what others do — take myself to the quiet room at work when I can slip away, set my timer, and sleep for a little bit. Or, I do like others and go out to my car, drive to the far end of the parking lot, put the seat back, and sleep. The quiet space I have now is constantly interrupted by people who cannot manage their own time and projects, and the privacy I have now is going away in a few weeks when we move to Cubicle-Land. Requests are rarely clearly communicated — and I’m not the only one who has trouble understanding, so at least I’m not alone in that 😉 You would not believe how much I have to “fudge” on a daily basis.

    Truly, life is far from easy and it’s far from fair. I do the best I can with what I have. And if the folks I work with found out about the BI, I’d be pretty much consigned to the spot I’m in, for the duration. I work at a company that ‘runs lean’ and everyone has to be at the top of their game all the time. If they had any reason to think I might not be able to perform, it would only be a matter of time till they found a reason to move me on. They’re doing that with someone in my group right now, who’s not perceived to be up to the job.

    In the midst of it all, I am doing really, really well, however. It’s a bitch of an environment to work in, but I’ve made more progress in the past year than I probably could have made in 5 years, had I not been so pressed. Granted, it’s not easy constantly feeling like I’m losing my mind and/or falling far behind, but it’s my choice to be there. I’ve never worked anywhere that had so much to do, and so little structure, and who knows how much longer I’ll be able to hang in there. But for the time being, I take my lumps, I learn my lessons, and life goes on.

    Angry? Heck, I’m too tired…

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