At last… the walk

Funny, how everything can sneak up on you…

So, my plan to go for a walk this morning got postponed. I realized that I needed to start work on some important day-job stuff that is due in a couple of weeks, so I dug into that, and three hours later I realized that I wasn’t making the kind of headway I wanted to, so I gave it a rest.

Which was good, because my brain is *fried*. I had an incredibly full day yesterday, with a training I attended in a nearby city. Between the 90-minute drive in, the two-hour training, the urgent errands I needed to take care of while I was there, an introductory phone call to a possible business connection, the two hour drive home, and then dinner with friends out in the country, an hour’s drive from home, and then another hour driving back home, I spent about 5 hours driving, three hours on very mentally taxing stuff, and then even more time talking through some heavy stuff that our friends are trying to navigate — and there was a business/logistical aspect of that, too, which was more mental effort.

Come to think of it… no wonder I was baked, this morning.

So, yeah, my plans for a walk got hijacked by work-work stuff that needed to be started. And the deeper I got into that, the more I realized how much work remains to be done before this massive deadline. And then the panic sets in. And then the frustration starts to mount, and then the wheels start turning about how much I have to do in other areas of my life, and before you know it, my head is going a mile a minute in circles — or rather, it’s headed downhill at top speed, headed for the cliff, with me all caught up inside it.

And the panic starts to set in…

And then I get depressed, and I start to feel so incredibly weighed down by all the burdens of my world, and I begin to feel like there’s no hope, no chance of ever getting or doing better, and why should I even try? Why indeed?

I sat outside for a while, getting some sun and feeling better in some ways. My balance is WAY off, today — with so much activity, I’m jammed in high gear, which wears me out and makes my vertigo zoom to the outer regions of charts. I can’t spell, I can’t type, I can’t hold a pen, I can’t dial a phone, I can’t keep my balance unless I’m moving in a specific direction at a high speed, or I’m holding onto something… and I feel like CRAP.

After a while of hanging around outside getting some sun, eating some lunch, feeling like crap, and then getting bit by mosquitos, attacked by biting flies, and stung by a wasp (my bad – I walked near its nest), I finally had enough, so I took a hot shower and went to bed. I just sank into the oblivion of silent darkness, with my earplugs in and my light-blocking curtains pulled tight. I had the air conditioner on to put a chill in the air, because I sleep better when I’m not hot, and I just let it all go. After I had an hour’s rest, I went out for my walk, got my head together, and came back home to make dinner.

All I can say is, thank heavens for that nap.

This is my new thing — closing my eyes and just letting it all go… letting go of any thoughts, any tension, any ideas, any hopes, any dreams, any aspirations, any anxiety, any nervousness, any plans… just proverbially taking 1000 mg of Fukitol and dropping off the edge of the cliff to oblivion. Just saying “screw it” to everything — the good and the bad, the positive and the negative — and letting myself sink into complete darkness.

I mean, frankly, sometimes the “good” stuff is a bigger hassle than the “bad”. So many hopes, so many aspirations, so many interdependencies, so many people “rooting for me” and all that. Things were so much easier when I was a chronic under-achiever who spent their weekends hanging out, lying around on the back porch, sleeping in the sun, going for long walks in the woods, and being satisfied with a decent meal. Okay, so I was on a perpetual roller coaster and my moods were insane, and I was always on edge about something, so it wasn’t all hunky-dory. But thinking back, I can’t say it was a terrible thing, to live like nothing hung in the balance with my decisions.

Now things are very different. I own a house. I have several projects which are high profile and have a lot of people depending on them. I do a job that only I can do. And I’m the sole breadwinner for my household. Ugh. Days like today, I truly wish I didn’t matter at all.

But you know, when I think about it, the fact of the matter is, I really don’t matter that much at all. Yes, I have my hopes and dreams and the things I want to accomplish. Yes, I have my friends and associates and dependents. Yes, I have my work and goals and “deliverables”. But in another hundred years, it may very well be as though I never even existed. All the drama, all the worry, all the ambitions… in time, they all disappear and dissipate into the ethers. And what have we got to show for it? Nada. Zip. Zilch. We’re gone. And the memory of us is not far behind.

I know a lot of people who are horrified by that prospect. They want to be remembered. They want to be memorialized. They hope and hope to become a cherished memory in the minds of others.

Why? What difference does it make? Our “legacies” are never what we intend them to be, and we invest all this time and effort in “leaving our mark”, when the best thing we could probably do for posterity, is to leave no mark at all — just let them live their lives as best they can without the intrusion of our “legacy”. All that talk and fluffernutter about “creating change”… please. It seems to me it’s just a convenient way for us to distract ourselves from our existential anxiety — the simple fact that one day we will not be here anymore, and nobody will ever notice we were ever here.

I think about mortality a lot, this time of year. The leaves are starting to turn and fall, and things that were so alive during the spring and summer are starting to die off. Worms and snakes are crawling out onto warm road surfaces to keep out of the cold, and they’re either drying up or getting run over by cars. Among the larger mammals, the older, slower ones and unwary members of the new generation are getting hit by cars and dying by the side of the road.

Crops are being brought in and fields are being mowed for perhaps the last time of the growing season. Summer is ending. In another week, it will be official (work-wise, anyway). And we will launch into our busy-ness driven flight from our existential angst through to the holidays.

Again.

Yep, I’m a little depressed, these days. I always get this way around this time of year. Another year has passed. Another batch of hopes and dreams unrealized. Another year of laboring to feed the gods, without a heck of a lot to show for it. Just survival.

On the brighter side, though, in 2014, I am on track to have several large outstanding debts repaid – which will save me close to $700 a month. That’s not small potatoes, and it’s going to be pretty friggin’ awesome to have it all squared away. The first of the problem debts, which is close to $450/month, will be repaid in January of 2014 — sooner, if I can rustle up a couple of thousand bucks, which might be doable, depending. The second of the problem debts will probably take the full year to lay to rest, but I might be able to get that squared away sooner, especially if I can find a better job that pays me well.

In any case, there is a light at the end of that horrible tunnel. And the difference an “extra” $450/month can make, is nothing to sneeze at.

Looking back, I can be pretty proud of myself, having kept it together as long as I have, under these conditions. For three years, I was shelling out about $1500/month for debt settlement payments, which cut very deep and put tremendous stress on my spouse and myself. Yes, I do realize that that’s more than some people bring home in a month. Hell yes, I realize it. It was a direct result of me losing a good job, thanks to a mild TBI in 2004, and then living off credit cards for years, before it all caught up with us, and we had to choose either trashing our credit to bits and settling our debts at a great rate of about 40 cents on the dollar, or living in a perpetual cycle of indentured servitude and avoiding credit card companies calling every other week. We took a gamble and made the tough choice and went down the debt settlement road. When it was happening, it was hell. But now that it’s going to be over in another year’s time, it was so worth all the pain and suffering and threatening calls and hair-raising visits to claims court.

We have been seriously strapped for years. All sorts of things fell by the wayside, including vacations, new clothing, car repairs, dentist visits… you name it, if it could be cut or postponed, it got cut or postponed. Now we’re settling up and leveling everything out, and it feels pretty friggin’ awesome. So, that’s good. It’s something to be happy about, in the midst of my autumn depression.

So, I look for what I can, and I do the best with what I’ve got. If I’m feeling down, I’m feeling down. There it is. I can still keep on with my life, not give up, but stay steady and keep my eyes on the prize of finally being DONE with things I detest and hate. And I can spend a little time thinking about where I want to be and go instead. There are a lot of possibilities for me. I just need to not get overwhelmed.

But in the case I do get overwhelmed, I can always go to bed.

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Sometimes, you just gotta BE

I had a very “unproductive” weekend, in terms of my projects. I have not responded to a bunch of messages, and there are people waiting to hear back from me. I had a lot of big plans — and a big list — but today, Sunday evening, I have sore feet, an achy body, and a lot of work done in my yard that needed to be done.

Well, at least the neighbors should be happy. I mowed all around my place — front and back — and I cleaned up my driveway. I also cleared out the raspberry bushes that had grown all up in front of my house, that made it look a little like crazy people live here. I decided to just let them grow, this year, to see if they would be productive. They produced some berries, but a lot more headaches, than anything else.

Now my house looks like normal people live here, which I suppose is good. One of these days, I’m going to build up the front garden with some edging pavers, fill them in with good topsoil, and raise the bed of my front garden nicely. I’m also going to clearly number the house on the raised garden. Right now, the number on the house is hard to see and the mailbox is obscured by the neighbors’ box.

All projects for the future.

Part of me feels a little uncomfortable, how much I did not get done. But the weather was fantastic, and all this needed to be done. Plus, I made some excellent headway in dealing with my chronic pain. I found some new exercises that may help me. I just started them, so we’ll see if they work, but I’m very hopeful at this new approach.

We shall see.

I think a lot about how I want my life to be. Certainly, that’s not how it is right now. I want to be able to work on the things that I know need working on — not something someone else tells me to do. I have the ability to see for myself what needs to be done — and I need the kind of life that lets me do it.

I am also rethinking the busy-busy weekends approach I have taken for many, many years. I need to break up my busy-busy work into more manageable pieces during the week, and leave the weekends open for me, so I can breathe and catch up with myself — and my sleep.

Pushing myself all week long and into the weekends… well, that just doesn’t work. It used to, but it doesn’t anymore. I’m developing tremors, I’m so tired. I need to take breaks. I need a change.

So, I’m making it. The busy-busy stuff isn’t going anywhere, and I can handle it during the week. The weekends need to be for me. So be it.

Holy crap, it feels good to decide this and say it out loud.

Onward.

 

Go away, uber-uber-boss, go away

Yes, please.

As a person, our uber-uber-boss is a great individual. They are interesting, caring, personable, and they have everyone’s best interests at heart.

As a boss — especially an uber-uber-boss  — they are a train wreck. Seriously, this person is just about the worst boss I’ve had the misfortune of reporting to, however indirectly. They are so intent on “connecting” with us, making sure we feel cared about and supported. But they have no idea what we do, they are about 15 years behind us in proficiency and familiarity with the business we are in and the work we do, and all they do is hold us back and subject us to their profound ignorance.

Holy crap, I can’t wait till they go back. I’m working remotely today, so I don’t have to be around for their last day, and I can actually get something done. I’ve been making great progress on work I have to get done at the office, but I’ve been so swamped with handling collateral damage from the uber-uber-boss’es visit, that I have had no bandwidth at all for doing anything other than work-work.

I’m tired. And when I’m tired, I get really distractable. And then I lose my way and end up wandering around in a fog for days on end, unable to remember what I was supposed to be doing. Oh hell, that’s what this whole job has been like for the past three years — one rush job after another, peppered with distractions out the wazzoo that just drain me. Big time.

I think I’ll update my resume this weekend. That will make me feel so much better. I’m going to finish up this massive deadline, then I am going on vacation for a week, then I am going to finalize my next job details, give notice, and I should be out of there by mid-October at the latest.

In the past, I was in a huge rush to go. Now, I am just moving at my own pace and confident that when the time comes I will have the right opportunity at the right pay level, and I’ll be able to extract myself from this distraction marathon that has been this *)%$(&^ job source of pain, activity, and income in my life.

To be fair, this job has taught me a lot, and it’s brought me out of my shell a great deal. I do feel like I’ve become a lot more social, as a result of working here, and I do really like and care for the majority of the people I work with. But the company itself is run by buffoons who have no truly loyal people reporting to them. Everyone just tells everyone else what they want to hear, and the trickle-down results are sad. Very sad.

Oh, well. In a few more months, this will fall into the category of “not my problem”. I’m actually learning a lot about certain disciplines that I can turn into more $$$ along the line. And I’m learning a ton of things that I can apply in my own work and personal projects, as well.

The main thing is keeping myself rested and well-fed. I’m doing well with the nutrition piece of it, I believe. I could do better with it, though – I don’t eat enough vegetables. And I’ve been having some weird skin reactions, so I think there’s something I need to fix. I have cut out wheat from my diet, which was actually easier to do than I expected. And I’ve been doing good about not snacking a lot in the afternoons, when it seems to not metabolize at all. But I need to eat more rounded meals, that’s for sure. I’ve kind of crossed over to the meat and potatoes and a pile of green beans side of things, and that’s not at all balanced. I do feel better, not eating a lot of junk food and keeping away from bread, but something seems to be missing for me.

I’ve heard a lot about people taking pre-natal vitamins for an extra boost — women take them to strengthen their hair and nails, and men take them because they supposedly help keep hair from thinning. As I get older, I notice changes happening in my chemistry — especially my skin and hair — so I need to do something about that. I’m going to try pre-natal vitamins and see how that works.

Changes, changes. Just little minor tweaks to my life, that make all the difference. And now that the uber-uber-boss is going away, I will have more psychological bandwidth to deal with things. One of the nice things about them coming to town, is the huge relief that comes when they leave. Seriously, it’s like a huge block of time and energy gets freed up, and it feels amazing. Expansive. Ah, freedom.

It really is amazing, just what a drain the uber-uber-boss has been, all this week. They started being a drain last week, with the team anticipating their arrival. Chit-chat and drama about what they’re going to do next… woo hoo. Then they arrived at the office, stirred things up with their big plans that have nothing to do with anything we actually need to get done (and are probably never going to happen, anyway), and whipped everyone into a frenzy with their bogus posturing and promises. I wish I could just block them out and ignore them, but they’re right there in front of us, and we have to deal with them. I’m hoping we can all just go back to work next week and not have to think any more about them. That’s all I want. Peace in the kingdom and quiet, so I can get these last few projects out the door. And then leave in October.

It’s hard to believe we’re already 2 weeks into August. Next week we’ll be in the teens of the month, which is crazy. Everything is flying by so fast, and I have so much to do. I set all these goals for myself, some more reasonable than others, and it keeps me busy. But I need to be able to shift and change and adapt to changing conditions and not get down on myself when things don’t turn out the way I expect them to. I need to be more flexible and factor in distractions and set-backs — like the uber-uber-boss coming to town and trying to “insert” themself into our process. I also need to be able to see past the immediate problems they cause and roll with it. I get caught in the weeds, so to speak, and I end up flailing around and getting all bent out of shape about things which will pass soon enough. That especially happens when I am tired, so things can escalate pretty quickly when all is not to my express liking.

Well, it’s all a lesson to be learned. One after another. The main thing is that I keep tabs on my mindset and keep myself from short-circuiting with unrealistic expectations and all manner of imaginary issues that are the invention of my mind alone.

The mind is such a powerful force. Using it for good instead of evil seems to be the chief challenge of the whole human race.

So, it’s back to work now, to get the last of the last done. I have some time to spend this morning looking at everything that’s in front of me that I need to get done, listing it out, organizing it, planning my “escape”, and figuring out the next steps to follow to get there. That in itself helps me regain my balance and not feel so out of whack. It gets me up out of the weeks and gives me perspective. And it’s probably one of the best uses of time I can imagine.

That, and not eating constantly. I had a lot of free food within easy reach of me yesterday, and I really over-did it. Now I’m hungry. Time to stop that slide into darkness…

Onward.

Learning to do it anyway

Sometimes it feels like the weight of the world…

Woke up this morning feeling sick – headache, sick on my stomach, foggy… Going back to work tomorrow probably isn’t helping any, but life goes on. There it is.

I’m pretty much in the Emotions/Moods “section” of those 84 ways TBI can make your life really interesting

Emotions/Moods

8. Agitated, can’t settle down – I’m all wound up and can’t seem to get myself to chill to get to bed at a decent hour each night. I’m way agitated, and fidgety and am having trouble focusing in to get shit done.
9. Angerrrrrr!!! – I’m pissed off. At work. At my spouse. At myself. I’m just angry. It’s driving me — it’s driving me crazy.
10. Anxiety – Feeling vague fear, worry, anticipation of doom – Yeah, when I go back to work tomorrow, I have the feeling that I’m going to be so totally screwed by my workload and the “lost week+” that I’ve had away. Not that it’s any different than it’s been for the past year or so, but now the sense of doom is really coming in.
11. Depression, feeling down – My mood has actually been pretty good… but I have to really fight back the depression. It sets in quickly if I don’t stay on it.
12. Excitability! – I get all worked up over stuff, then I come back to it later and I can’t see what all the excitement was about. The worst thing about the excitability is that it distracts me and takes me off-course, so it takes me longer to get where I’m going.
13. Everything feels like an effort – Yeah, pretty much. It feels like everything is a massive effort, and I can’t figure out where to start.
14. Feeling unsure of yourself – Yeah, pretty much all the time, these days. I know better (rationally) and I fight it back, but that feeling is always there… like I never know what’s going to come out of my mouth or what I’m going to do next. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t, but I’m never 100% sure what’s going to happen.
15. Feelings of dread – Yeah, that. Dread and anxiety. Like I just can’t deal with sh*t.
16. Feeling like you’re observing yourself from afar – This is a weird one, because it’s really like that. It’s like I’m standing at a distance and watching myself do and say things that don’t make any sense to me.
17. Feelings of well-being – On and off. It’s not all bad, all the time. Sometimes I have these sudden rushes of feeling really good, really solid, really sound. It’s a nice break.
18. Feeling guilty – Guilty over what I’ve done and what I haven’t done… what I should have done, what I forgot to do.
19. Feeling hostile towards others – Yeah, this is a tough one. I’m not feeling that great today, and we have a friend staying over, and I have to watch myself to not come across as hostile and aggressive, because they’re pretty sensitive and have a hard time making and keeping friends, as it is. My hostility has nothing to do with them, but they could easily become a target, if I don’t manage this.
20. Impatience – Yeah – what’s taking everything so long?
21. Irritability – Like the hostility, I’ve gotta keep a handle on this. Others shouldn’t have to pay for my issues. It has nothing to do with them.
22. No desire to talk or  move – This one set in when I woke up, and it’s still there. The antidote? Get the hell up and do something. Anything. Just move, goddammit.
23. Feeling lonely – Yeah. That. The consolation I get is that I’m not alone in feeling lonely. Plenty of people do. I also need to focus on the fact of what I’ve got in common with others, and that helps.
24. Nervousness – Nervous about work, nervous about money, nervous about life. Nervous.
25. Feelings of panic – On and off. This is much less extreme than it was several years ago. I’ve learned how to relax. I’ve learned how to recognize the signs that I’m just panicking, and it has nothing to do with actual reality. Breathing helps.
26. Rapid mood swings – Yeah, gotta watch that. I’m sick and tired today, so I know I’m more susceptible.
27. Restlessness – I want to run, I want to walk, I want to jump in the car and drive away. I want to go out and pick a fight. Not my best ideas… and I know it’s just the fatigue, the fogginess, the feeling of being “off” that’s doing this. Adrenaline and novelty blocks out all the distracting what-not-ness that’s swirling in my head. Surely, doing something extreme will take my mind off it. Well, sure – but at what cost?
28. Tearfulness, crying spells – Not so far, which is good. A few days ago, when I was feeling really sick, I had this. Thankfully it passed. Of all the TBI issues that come up, the tearfulness is the worst for me.
29. Feeling tense – Yeah. That. Like I’m wound so tight, I’m either going to snap, or I’m going to shoot straight to the moon. Tense. Really Tense. Black Flag Tense.
30. Feeling vague longing/yearning – Absolutely – for something I want and need, but can’t quite put my finger on. I used to have an antidote for this: daily meditation and breathing. Then I got sick of it and stopped doing it, because I just wanted to get on with my days with out having a lot of ritual and sh*t to do, first thing in the morning.

And as a result of these things, I’m also grappling with the follwing:

Day-to-Day Activities
31. Being overly busy (more than usual) – I’ve got all this stuff I want to do, and it’s piling up. I’m making myself crazy with it.
32. Feeling like you can’t get moving, you’re stuck – And under this pile of stuff, there I am, pinned down and feeling like I can’t move.
33. Feeling like you can’t get anything done – It’s just a feeling, I know, but that’s how I feel right now — nothing is moving, I can’t get anything accomplished.

Geeze. Enough of this. Yeah, things aren’t great right now, but once I get moving, I’m sure they’ll loosen up. That’s the thing that I’ve had to learn, over and over again. I can’t start from where I want to be (feeling great and having a lot of stuff done). I need to start from where I am — even if it’s sick and tired and foggy and aggressive and a bit ragged around the edges.

Gotta get out of my head and find something to really focus on. Just gotta. I’ve got to get my mind off this headache, this nausea, this fogginess, and all the above-mentioned crap. I’ve got to just get moving and do what needs to be done today. I do have things I need to take care of, and I just need to do them. I’ve had two days to recover and recoup, and that’s been good. Now I need to kick it again and get a move on. No matter how I feel, just do what needs to be done, and then enjoy having done it.

Yeah, it’s turning out to be a beautiful day, so I can get some work done in the yard and hang out with this friend. I will need to watch myself today, to make sure I’m not all edgy around them, so I don’t chase them off the way I have chased off many other people. I just need to keep cool, keep focused on what needs to get done, and do it.

And then sleep this afternoon. Get some rest. And get ready to go back to everyday normal life. Things will take care of themselves, if I’m just honest with myself and keep an eye on myself. This is not rocket science, it’s just life. Everybody has to contend with this, TBI or no. So deal with it, I shall.

After all, it is a beautiful day.