Think of that promise as me being on a merry go ’round and waving as I ride by… then I disappear for a while. I wanted to do better, I really did. But then life happened.
But I’ve dropped out of sight for a reason. I’ve been traveling for the past three weeks – one week for a business trip, two weeks for a working vacation with my spouse. This weekend will be the first I’m able to sit down with some uninterrupted time to blog (and think) in nearly a month. I was intending to spend time blogging over the past two weeks, while my spouse was busy at their conference, but it turned out they needed a lot more help than I’d anticipated. So, I spent most of my time taking care of them.
It takes me quite some time to get myself ready for my business trips, with all the coordination with my fellow travelers, not to mention setting up meetings with people where I’m going. And I have to get my spouse squared away with their needs and requirements, making sure they have the right food and medication on hand, making sure they have their time scheduled properly for when I’m away, and doing everything up front that I normally do while I’m home.
Nobody at the office seems to realize how much work it is to go on these trips. They all act like it’s no big deal, but it’s so much more effort and attention for me.
And when I travel with my spouse, it’s even more demanding, because they have a lot of special needs, and I have to ensure that they’re totally taken care of. Sometimes I “nail” it, sometimes I don’t. Usually, it’s a mix. And then I have to scramble all the more to make up for my misses, during the trip.
Long story short, it takes A LOT for me to travel. But I do it anyway.
And now I’m back. With lots of amazing insights from the past three weeks.
I’ll be able to say more later. But for now, I’ve gotta got get some food in the house and catch up on my sleep.
My approach to sleep and work and taking time out during my business trip has really paid off. I got almost 8 hours of sleep last night, and I’m not feeling nearly as jet-lagged as I expected to. I’ve been back for 2 days, now, and although I am still a bit foggy, it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been.
It’s not much worse than I usually feel on a Saturday.
So, that’s completely awesome.
What worked for me was this:
Be completely uncooperative and resistant about anybody pushing me on my bedtime. Don’t take sh*t from anyone who tried to give me a hard time about not staying out till all hours.
Do my best to blend in with my surroundings, so as to minimize flack about not being a “team player”. Go along with the things I could go along with — dinner with the team, group activities, up to a certain point, and of course doing my job reaching out to customers and having good conversations with them while on the expo floor.
Take time away from people whenever I got a chance. Just retreat to my room, keep the lights low, don’t turn on the t.v. by reflex (I only turned it on twice – once to see what channels were available, once to check out), and decompress.
I did a lot of all of the above. And it was a really challenging time. But I came out of it in one piece, which is fantastic. And I’m not a miserable git, to live with, as I have been in the past.
Now I’m back to exercising in the mornings — I couldn’t get myself to the pool or gym on my trip, because I was pretty maxed out, cognitively and sensory-wise, so the idea of venturing into a swimming pool area or a gym with other people in it, was just too much for me. So, I didn’t bother.
It feels good to be back on the exercise bike, as well as lifting my dumbbells again. It’s also good to be back in a quiet house, where I can move at my own pace, and I don’t have people constantly texting me about meeting them here, there, or some other place. I get to stand at my desk and think, type, think some more, type some more. Check Facebook. Think about things. Just get my act together and regroup.
And go out for a hike later. It’s a little cold and rainy today, but that means there won’t be that many people on the trails, which is good. I’m in no mood to interact today. Just want to be a recluse and regroup after my trip.
So, I shall. I’ve got all day today — and tomorrow — to catch up. And for once, I don’t need to completely collapse and melt down, after that gauntlet run. I ran a good race, and now I can rest.
Not that the two are synonymous, but neither one is making the other any better.
My headaches continue – dull throbbing, along with the feeling of a spiked ball rolling around inside my head. Nice. Especially considering how much I have to get done. I’ve got project plans due, as well as a ton of other planning crap.
I have to go out of town for another four days on Sunday night. This time, I’m flying across an ocean, and I expect that by the time I’m no longer jet-lagged, I’ll be turning around and coming home again. I’m only gone till this coming Thursday night, so it’s not so bad — four full days, instead of the eight or nine I’ve had to travel in the past. But still…
I just want to stay home and take care of business. Walk in the woods. Read a book. Sleep in. Chill.
Oh, well. I’ll get to do some of that on the plane. And I can use the time away to see and do different things. I’m supposed to be going to an international hot-spot, but all I can think about is how I’m going to find food I can eat.
Because I don’t drink alcohol, including wine and beer… I don’t eat dairy, including cheese and cream… I don’t eat bread or pretzels or baguettes or rolls of any kind… and I can’t have a lot of rich foods because of my gall bladder. So, that leaves me with lean meat and fruits and vegetables. I guess I’ll be eating a lot of steak and fries, this trip. I need to learn how to say “medium rare” in a couple of different languages.
My expectations for this trip are at an all-time low. I don’t want to go. I don’t particularly care for the people I’m traveling with. I don’t particularly care for the company I’m going to be visiting. I am really NOT in the mood to deal with anyone who gives me attitude, and I’ve been working on my international body language that tells people I really don’t give a flip what they think — I’m not going to indulge them and their petty squabbles, so piss off.
Well, here’s hoping I don’t end up in a brawl. Getting thrown in jail overseas (or fired) is not my idea of a successful business trip. The best I can really ask for, is just getting in and out in one piece, and being done with it.
All this traveling is getting a bit easier for me, I have to say. At least I’m acquiring that skill. I pretty much know what I’m going to pack, and I’ll be able to carry everything on, so I don’t have to check a bag. I’ve really cut down on the amount of crap I feel the need to cart around, and that goes for what I pay attention to, as well.
On past trips, I was so overwhelmed with input and stimuli, so conflicted about what I should be looking at and doing/enjoying/experiencing, I was totally exhausted by the time I got home. On this trip, I’m planning to just block out anything I don’t need to know about (which is almost everything), and leave it at that. I don’t have to have “an experience”. I’m not a friggin’ tourist. I don’t even have to enjoy myself that much, this time. I just need to finish the job, do my presentation(s), meet the right people, make a professional impression, and get back home safely, so I can have a nice long weekend, after I get back. The 17th is a holiday, so I’ll be able to do all the things I didn’t get to do while I was away — walk in the woods, clean my basement, take care of taxes, and generally just rest.
My new outlook on life is — I don’t give a damn. I give up on caring about just about everything. I decided that this morning at 4:15 a.m., when I woke up out of a fitful sleep and had a bit of a meltdown over something my spouse had done earlier that day. Nothing like punctuating the wee hours of the day with a little emotional upheaval. Stupid. Pointless. And it keeps me from sleeping when I need to.
So, screw it. I’m sick and tired of just about everything. I’m sick and tired of my job, I’m sick and tired of my boss(es), I’m sick and tired of the whole corporate ladder deal, all the jockeying for position, all the lame-ass politicking, and the drama. I’m sick and tired of everything.
But you know what? I don’t have to be in love with what I do, to do it — and do it well. It almost doesn’t even matter how I feel about it. I show up and do my job, and people are happy about it. Fine. For them. For me, I just want my paycheck and the ability to pay my bills and keep a roof over my head. And I want to be left alone, to my own devices, with my own plans and my own interests and my own activities.
Everyone else can go screw, including my boss, my employer, and most of my co-workers.
They’re very nice people doing very exciting things, but I just don’t care about it anymore.
Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’ve just seen too much. It’s lame, how they want us to be so in love with our jobs at work. Please. My work doesn’t even belong to me. It belongs to them. I signed the paper that said so. And what do I have to show for it, honestly? Just a paycheck and a bunch of interesting tidbits to add to my resume and LinkedIn profile.
Well, it’s Friday. Finally. Lest you think I’m all bitter and whatnot — even clinically depressed — you should know that my not giving a damn is quite freeing. I don’t have a ton of attachment, right now, to things turning out a certain way. I just do my best and let it go, and things turn out the way they will.
It sure as hell beats getting all worked up and invested in things turning out JUST RIGHT – OR ELSE. That’s just a recipe for misery, as far as I’m concerned.
So, I’ve let it go. For today, anyway. Tomorrow, I may feel very different. But for now, it’s all about just keeping my head on straight and getting my bags packed and having enough money in the bank to get me where I’m going and get people paid when they need to be.
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!
A day into my week-long business trip, I’m getting my game-head on, thinking about how I’m going to play this week. The hotel where I’m staying has no coffee in the room, and I have to pay for internet connectivity, so I’m already improvising.
Hell, I started improvising yesterday. I got up when I was planning to and checked my flight, and a whole bunch of flights before it were canceled, due to bad weather conditions. I considered changing my plans, which the airline said I could do without penalty, but when I called the travel agent, they told me they didn’t know anything about that. It sounded like I had woken the agent up, too, which was a little annoying. It’s one thing to be woken up, but to cop an attitude and not be fully present on the job you’re paid to do… it happens, of course, but I wasn’t in the mood for it yesterday morning. So, after wasting 20 minutes dealing with that situation, I decided to just bite the bullet and head in. Traffic was surprisingly heavy for 6 a.m., and I barely made my flight. But I did make it.
Even so, the flight was delayed about 4 hours, for a variety of reasons. So, I took the opportunity to step away and find some breakfast, get myself a good cup of coffee, and catch up with myself. It wasn’t bad. I managed to sleep on the flight a little bit, and I made my connecting flight just fine. At the final destination, my luggage wasn’t on the plane, but fortunately it was on the next flight, so it only took 45 minutes or so to get that sorted. When all was said and done, I arrived at my hotel with a few hours of daylight left.
Last evening, I was fried. There was a group dinner that I attended, which was nice. But talk about loud. The restaurant we were in was very noisy. And there were lots of us at the table, so keeping track of everything going on was a challenge. I focused on my immediate surroundings and let other people do the talking. Fortunately, I was hanging out with the IT folks, who aren’t much for social chit-chat. They just want to get their jobs done. And there wasn’t a whole lot of witty banter going on. After, I headed back to the hotel with some folks, we headed off in the wrong direction, then I pointed us in the right direction, and we got back.
Today promises to be a better day, I think. I’m at my hotel, I have my appropriate gear and attire in proper order, I know where I need to go, and I know who to ask if I have any questions. It’s all good. I know I need to pace myself and save up energy for the day, which is full of networking and busy-ness, and just making things happen. A whirlwind tour, that to be honest has me a little concerned. I worry about not having enough energy to get through.
But the energy thing is something I can work with. I just need to make sure I eat properly and take time out to rest and breathe and gather myself. I wish it didn’t feel like an obstacle course, but it does. I should be happy and enthusiastic, and in a way I am — and once I get into the thick of things, I’m sure I will be even more. But it’s daunting.
One of the things that’s made it even more daunting, is the head trip around this convention. It is a big deal, and it is quite the event, but the way people have been talking about it, it’s like it’s this monumental do-or-die situation. I know there is a lot riding on it, but I’m more comfortable settling in and buckling down and not talking a lot about how hard and challenging and overwhelming it will be. That just sets up this perception that it’s an ordeal to be endured and survived, rather than an energizing opportunity to learn and connect with people. That’s really the approach I’d like to take — a really positive, can-do type of mindset that sets me up for success, rather than failure.
Dwelling on the dread aspects of how hard this will be, isn’t particularly productive. It is also quite draining. I’m sure the people working on this have been increasingly tired, so their mood has gone south, but I just can’t go there with them. Not today. Not at all, in fact. If I start getting mired in the awfulness before this whole thing begins, and I let that tone take over, it’s going to be a looooooong week. And I haven’t come all this way to feel like crap.
So, I’ve done my morning exercises, stretched, and now I’m going to read and write a while before I go out looking for some coffee. I’ve looked at Google maps and have located a McDonalds within easy walking distance. It will be good to get out and stretch my legs. I’ll get my no-cheese-please Egg McMuffin and a medium coffee, and ease into my day. I’ll spend some time thinking through my day, planning it out, checking in with work a little bit, and just making sure I have everything in order, before I launch full-bore into everything.
And all along the way, I’ll be smart and pace myself. I plan to work hard and play hard, but I also plan to rest.
Life is good. It holds a lot of challenge and evil, but there’s plenty of good to be enjoyed.
And so I shall. With common sense and a good plan, I shall.
Okay, I’m back. It’s been a pretty rocky ride, the past several months, with the new job and my spouse going through a lot of personal stuff. Money has been a problem (it still is), and we’re living closer to the edge than we’d like. But I finally feel like I’m starting to settle in.
The business trip I was on, during the early part of this week was a positive and productive experience for me. Truly. We had a company meeting at a great hotel in a nearby city, and despite my reservations, I feel like I did extremely well.
Before going, I was really nervous about not being able to hold my own. There were people there from all over the country, whom I’d heard about, but had never met. There were people there from overseas, as well, and I was concerned about making a poor impression by not knowing the proper manners. I was especially worried about “going off the reservation” and running my mouth and saying stupid things, the way I tend to, when I’m tired and stressed and feeling on the spot.
But I only had a few instances of poor impulse control in conversations. And when I realized I was doing it, I managed to catch myself, stop myself before I went on, and really focused on paying close attention to what others were saying.
There were a couple of times where I was standing off by myself, feeling like an outsider, while everyone else who knew each other were gathered around, talking about familiar things. But fortunately, there were a number of people there who were also new, so I wasn’t the only one. And I also found people approaching me to talk about common projects at work, which was a relief.
All in all, I handled myself extremely well. I didn’t stay stuck in the insecurities that came up, but managed to shift my attention to other things — or just got moving, going for a walk or going to the fitness center, even taking a dip in the pool. I did reasonably well with the food – drank a little more coffee than I should have, and also ate more carbs than I should have. But I can always bump up my exercise to make up for it (which I did this morning).
This is good. I did really well. And what’s coming out of it is a ton of great working relationships with colleagues across the country and also overseas. This is important — so very, very important for me. I had truly believed that I was never going to be able to participate at this level. Truly.
I’m realizing now that with each TBI I’ve sustained over the years, I’ve adjusted down my expectations of what I could do, and what I was capable of doing. The auto accident in 1987, which left me unable to understand the heavy accents of some people for some time, and plunged me into a heavy round of excessive drinking, got me thinking that I have trouble with accents — which is not the case anymore. But there’s a part of me that thinks this is still true.
The accident I had in 1996 which took away my ability to read with understanding for a number of days, got me thinking that I have trouble reading and I will always have trouble reading. It’s true — when I am tired and stressed, my reading comprehension goes way down, and there are many times when I don’t realize till later that what I “read” isn’t what was on the page. But that’s not always the case, and I’m getting better.
The fall in 2004, which turned me into a raging maniac with no patience and a tendency to strike out at things (not people) around me and an almost insane drive to fake my way through everything, had me convinced that in order to succeed in life, I need to adjust down my expectations and not extend myself too much, because if I push myself too hard, bad things happen. I lose jobs. I become almost impossible to live with. I lose money. Bad things happen. And I’m not fit for human interaction.
But after the past few days, I can see clear evidence that this is just not true. When I take care of myself and I pay attention to what’s going on, and I don’t overextend myself to the point of exhaustion… and I carry myself with confidence and reach out to other people, Good Things Happen.
Which is quite exciting.
In a big way, I feel like I’m hitting a reset button in my life. My spouse is, too. They’re addressing some really long-standing issues from childhood which have been holding them back in a very big way. It’s like, we’ve both been going through a truckload of crap, that we can only go through on our own… all the while sharing space in a common house with a (somewhat) common schedule.
The good thing about this is that we can both cut each other some slack. We both “get” that we’re going through some heavy stuff, so we need to go easy at times. It doesn’t always work, and both of us tend to get wrapped up in our crap and forget about being generous and giving a damn about what goes on outside our heads. But things are working themselves out. I’m having the experiences I need to have, and they’re getting the help they need.
All in all, it’s good. And for the first time in a long time — perhaps ever — I can honestly say I feel like I’m truly getting back in the game.