Adversity is my friend, this week

Up and over

This has been an extraordinarily challenging week. Thursday and Friday, especially. All sorts of stuff “blew up” at work — most of the drama being emotional.

Hm. I know all about that. Over the years of struggling with unexpected behaviors and results after my fall and mild TBI in 2004, I’ve had more than my fair share of meltdowns, freak-outs, blow-ups, and countless hours of feeling like a miserable piece o’ sh*t for long stretches of time.

The positive outcome of all this (now that I’ve learned how to modulate my inner state – which, I can tell you, has not been easy) is that I am much less thrown off by intensity and seemingly impossible situations. I’ve already been to the depths of that pit, and I know how to pull myself out of it.

And in the process, I can pull others out of their tailspins, as well. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of days — keeping a cool head, so I could do a “knowledge transfer” from someone who was leaving the company — and was the very last person in their group to leave, effectively taking all the resident expertise with them.

{insert big sad face emoticon here}

Anyway, everyone has been pulling a “nutty” and freaking out — yelling at each other, slamming their hands on desks, and spinning in circles — because a few key people in management didn’t put two and two together, and they got caught out with a big massive gaping hole in their staff.


Oh, well.

So, I got pulled into the mix, because I actually have years of experience doing the sort of thing the departing individual did on a daily basis. I used to do it everyday, in fact, and it surprised me that nobody reached out to me to loop me in.

Of course, I was all booked up with another massive project that has been nearly going off the rails, on and off, for the past few months — in no small part because management is making decisions that negatively impact the lot of us, without so much as an explanation why, or providing any sort of support for our transitions.

Oh, well.

Anyway, the good news is that I’m a contractor, so no matter what goes down, I still get paid, and this sh*tstorm can’t hurt my future prospects. All it’s done is given me opportunity to get involved in the kind of work I’ve been wanting to do for some time, now, but haven’t been able to.

Plus, I figured out how to automate a seriously drudge-work task yesterday, and I’m working today on programming a tool that will save the sanity of many people to come after me.

So yes, this is not so bad, after all. I get to step up and save the day, I get to be the hero, and I get to expand my skillset — in a practical professional manner, in a way that goes right on my resume (woo hoo). This just makes me stronger, in the long run, because it shows that I can rise to the occasion and keep my cool in the midst of a mess… and come out with a solution that works for everyone.

And to be perfectly honest, if I hadn’t spent years in the pit of despair, not knowing how to pull myself out, stuck in my fight-flight sympathetic nervous system overload “soup”, I wouldn’t be able to keep calm, right now. I have developed some serious skills over the years, at handling these sorts of experiences, with varying degrees of success. And actually, nothing that has happened to me over the past few days has come anywhere near close to the level of distress, panic, anxiety, and meltdown that I used to experience on a regular basis.

Compared to the emotional upheaval I used to marinate in on a regular basis, this is relatively minor.

Which just makes me look good. Calm in the midst of the storm. So much calm, in fact, that I’m going to build a little app that will offload a sh*t-ton of manual drudge-work from the hapless soul who has to do it in the future.

So there.

I’m pretty wiped out from the past few days, but I’m energized by the programming I’m going to get to do, and it’s all good. Just have to pace myself and catch up on my sleep.

For sure.



Using adversity as fuel

Sometimes these situations just come up

I’ve been complaining a bit more than I would like, lately. The space bar thing has thrown me off, to tell the truth. I really need to be able to type quickly, and it’s stopping me from doing that.

Maybe I’m in too much of a hurry, anyway.

It’s Monday. I’m tired from watching the Super Bowl last night and getting so pumped up at the end. But I did sleep till 7 a.m., which is a recent record for me. I’ve been waking up at 4:30 a.m., over the past few weeks, which has not done much for my energy levels.

I don’t have a lot of meetings today, so that’s good.

It will give me time to think things through with work.

It will also give me time to work on my coherent breathing, which has become much more important to me in the past weeks.

I have let my breathing practice slack off, for some reason. Maybe I got to a comfortable place and figured I didn’t need to do it so much anymore. Or I got lazy. Or I got bored.  Whatever the reason, I have been feeling the effects of having an out-of-balance autonomic nervous system, with my fight-flight way up there.

I think I let myself get into that state when I need the energy. I need to get pumped up to make it through,and I run out of steam with my daily schedule that is a long slog, each and every day. So I resort to stress to keep myself alert.

This is a common strategy throughout our culture. I’m not alone. But for someone with TBI, it can be a killer. It screws up our thinking process, and it makes it harder for us to function, even though we feel like we have all our ducks in a row. Too much fight-flight blocks your ability to learn, and that learning is the keystone of a solid recovery.

We have to retrain our brains to do many things — sometimes even the simplest of things. Learning is key for us. If we can’t learn, we’re screwed.

So, where does the energy come from? I’ve felt for a long time that we have massive stores of energy within us, waiting to be released. We just don’t always know how to release them. The trick is, figuring out how to release them. Figuring out how to access them.

One way to access the energy is through adversity — facing down situations that are tough and threatening, and rising to the occasion. And then really celebrating, when we come through to the other side in one piece.

My hands are getting tired, so I’m going to leave off now, but that’s just something to think about.



It’s awful, but I can handle it

Someone needs to point the way

This week has been really awful. The past few weeks have been awful, in fact. I have so much to do at work, and my natural tendency to want to get it right has been taking a beating. There’s a huge project that was dropped in my lap on Monday that has to be done by tomorrow, and in the meantime, I have other commitments that won’t wait… and I need to eat and sleep…

Probably the worst part of it is that, while I do believe that if I focus in and block everything else out, I can actually get it done, others on my team have doubts… including my bosses. They’re trying to “help” me by interceding on my behalf, but frankly what I really need everyone to do is just go away and leave me alone till this is done. And quit playing stupid friggin’ games, trying to cover their asses, when they’re the ones who created this mess in the first place with dicking around for 8 months till the 11th hour… and then shaving three weeks off the end of the project, ’cause they didn’t didn’t think things through and were asleep at the wheel.

Poor friggin’ planning. What is wrong with people?

Actually, I know what’s wrong — they’re too godawful busy in all the wrong ways. I should know. I get that way too. But I have the “advantage” of knowing that my brain is inclined to get me into trouble, so I take extra pains to plan things out, schedule my life ahead of time, and have a pretty good idea about where I’m going each day, and why.

Before I knew that my brain was re-wired by all those mild TBIs, and I developed some time and energy management skills with my neuropsych, I was a lot like the folks I’m working with — running around like a chicken with its head cut off, bouncing from one exciting project to the next, and generally getting nothing at all done on time.

So, I know what that’s like. I know how it is.

Still, it’s frustrating, and it feels like the folks I’m working with have hung me out to dry by just being careless and not paying attention to things that matter — like making key deadlines along the way. It just feels like disrespect and manipulation… but I’m sure at the root it’s just poor planning.

I can’t believe how frustrating this is. I have so many years of experience working on really huge projects that were so closely managed and monitored, and which managed to get from beginning to end in one piece — and pretty much on time. This project pales in comparison, but it’s 1000 times worse, and it feels completely chaotic, even though it’s pretty straightforward, when you think about it. The difference was that those projects in the past were actively managed. And the difference was that the people involved were dedicated and gave a damn about doing a good job. The folks who are running this show seem to care more about making a good impression with their bosses and looking good to everyone, instead of actually doing the work.

When it comes time to do the work, then that falls to me and a handful of other people who bother to care. What a setup. What a lazy bunch of …

Well, anyway, I suppose I should look on the bright side and focus on the positives — like knowing in my heart that I’ve got it in me to get this done. Like knowing that I’ve been in far worse circumstances, and I’ve prevailed. Like being pretty sure that after the fits I’ve been pitching lately, that this slipshod bogus BS isn’t going to fly the next time. Everyone is pretty clear that I’m pissed off, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve got their attention, and they’re going to take steps to do better next time. That’s what has happened on previous projects where people were doing this kind of crap — I made it clear that this wasn’t going to fly without me taking issue with it. And things changed. It was pretty uncomfortable, but oh well. If people aren’t going to bother to do their jobs, I’m certainly not going to pretend to be fine with it.

I do not suffer alone 😉

Of course, this all gives me pause — I know I could handle myself more diplomatically, and I may do that today. But the whole thing about needing to suck it up and not let on that something is amiss… my coworkers who do that are stooped and wrinkled and have thinning hair… while I’m sailing along looking 10-15 years younger than I am. Sure, I could do the whole stoic thing where I’m “too tough to be troubled” by all this crap. But what would be the point? Seriously. It would just perpetuate these bullsh*t scenarios, and everyone would continue to sail along, not paying attention, not bothering to do better, not thinking things through ahead of time… and nothing would ever change.

I believe in change. Hell, I live change. It’s about the only thing I 100% believe in, apart from the tides and the course of the earth around the sun. And as sure as I feel the stabbing pain in my left hip and the spasms in my lower back and the tightness in my shoulders and the cramping in the joints of my hands and fingers, I do know that all things change… especially if we make the effort to change them.

So, now that I’ve got everyone’s attention at work, I’m going to set us on a course that will take us where we need to go. I will tell people exactly what I need to get this project done by tomorrow, and I will provide the leadership and direction that others have failed refused to provide. There is a massive, gaping leadership gap at work — everyone is horse-trading, trying to be the most popular kid on the block, and it’s infantile. So, that leaves the door open for me to step in and sort things out.

This is really friggin’ awful. I hate it with every fiber of my being. But like just about everything else that falls under the “sucks bilgewater” category in my life right now, I can handle it.

I’ve got to. Or it will handle me.