The 5th of July

US FlagHappy Belated Independence Day, everyone. I hope you had a good one. And thank you to all the veterans and other public servants who dedicate their lives to making this country what it is today.

The 5th of July is much more significant to me, because — like other things in life — after the fireworks are over, the parades are all done, and the excitement of the celebration is a fading memory, the reality of our situation sets back in again.

And we have to do the daily work of just living in this world.

It’s not glamorous. We don’t get trophies and medals for just showing up, each day, and the mundanity of the everyday can get to be a little much. Plus, today it’s raining. We need the rain. We’re lucky. I can think of a lot of people in this country who would do just about anything for some rain. And I wish I could send it to them. But I can’t. All I can do is give thanks that we’re getting some today.

And also be thankful that it didn’t happen all weekend to trash my days off.

Well, even if it had, that would have been fine, because I laid low all weekend. I was working on my skills. Building on some of my old “muscle memory” for things I used to do on a daily basis. I did a pretty good job, but I also got a little turned around and ended up messing up a bunch of stuff. But that’s good. Trial and error is how I learn. And the worse the mistakes I make, the better I learn.

Plus, these are all things that I’m just doing for myself, by myself. It’s not like I’m getting paid to do them (yet).

Now it’s back to work. I didn’t get any emails from coworkers over the long weekend, which is a miracle. Then again, a lot of folks are laying low and not putting 100% into their jobs, because they don’t know if we’re going to have jobs in a few months. Our collective focus seems to be on the future, not the present, with everyone kind of checked out about our current jobs.

Nobody seems to particularly care. Some people are trying — working overtime — and others are rolling their eyes behind their backs, because they are clearly trying too hard. And some of the “keeners” (those folks who are so “keen” on doing their best) are some of the least appreciated and most dismissed people around. I guess it makes sense that they’d be trying so hard… but then again, nobody knows what the heck is going to become of all of us, eventually, so most of us are just taking a break from our Uber-Alpha Type-A schtick.

So, la la la. What-ever. I’m sure we’ll find out what’s happening to us, eventually. For now, most of us are just puttering on through, waiting for… something… to happen. But some of us are looking well into the future and planning our next moves. I’m doing that. I printed out a list of things I need to study up on and practice, before I make my move. And by the time the fall rolls around (I’m hoping I get to hold out till then), I’ll have that much more skilled accomplishment under my belt. And I can make my move — on my own terms.

Onward.

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Getting my plans together

These things happen
These things happen

So, yesterday, when my boss cancelled our bi-weekly 1:1 meeting for next week, I could have taken it a number of different ways:

  1. They are really busy.
  2. They will be out of the office.
  3. I’m getting laid off.
  4. They’re getting laid off.
  5. They’re going to be so busy dealing with everything around the layoffs, that they won’t have time for me.
  6. I’m transferring to another group and won’t be reporting to them anymore.
  7. They just have a conflict that day, so we can meet another time.

Honestly, any of the above could be true. And I’m prepared for just about any eventuality. I have been looking through my files for projects I originally intended to complete in the next 2 years, but I put aside because this job is taking all my time. And if I do get laid off, I’m at no loss for what to do. I really hope that happens, provided I receive comfortable safety net of at least 6 months’ pay and insurance coverage to carry me through. I just don’t want my spouse to worry — as they always do, anyway. But I don’t want to give them any more reason to be concerned.

I really do have a ton of stuff I need to get done, and having a few months off will go a long way towards clearing the decks. It will also give me lots of time to gear up for the next phase of my work. The job I’ve been in, has been interesting. But it’s also shown me what I do not want to do — I’d rather not have to deal with people. I want to deal with data. Numbers. Patterns. People make me crazy, and I get tired of being all social ‘n’ sh*t.

Numbers and patterns and algorithms, on the other hand…

Anyway, things should be interesting at work today. I think it’s going to be very quiet. I hear people openly discussing their concerns — especially folks who are older. I’m 50, so that puts me in the cross-hairs. Who the hell is going to keep me on, with my senior-level salary, when they can get people literally half my age, who are much more hip and attuned to the latest trends?

Who indeed?

Please-please-please lay me off, with a tasty severance package. I’ll do fine. I promise.

But they keep me around, that’s fine, too. That just limits how much I can do at any given time and it focuses me. It just pushes out my timeline by 6 months or so. Possibly a year. But the main project I have in mind… that’ll keep. There’s no rush on it. But it’s ready right here and now, if I can devote my full time and attention to it.

Good lord. And here, I thought that I was all set. The job has been great, and I’ve really been enjoying it, for the most part. I thought I was set for at least the next five years, since people either stay on for a long time or they go after a relatively short time. I feel like one of those people who could be around for a long time. But that might not happen.

OR…. it may happen, and in another five years, I’ll be blogging about my job and how it’s going.

Whatever happens, this is a time of change and transition. I need to find another neuropsych, and I’m putting together my list of requirements for them. I feel like I’m writing a job description to interview people, and maybe I am. It’s a big deal for me. I have a number of areas I want to work on, and my current neuropsych doesn’t have the orientation I need, in order to move forward. They don’t seem to think it’s a good idea for me to be “Type A”, but you know what? That’s how I am, so being any other way just doesn’t do it for me.

I need to get back to that. I’ve been stabilizing myself, getting my head in order, for nearly 8 years, now, and it’s been good. I’ve overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles in my thinking and attitudes, rebuilding capabilities and executive function that have really set me in the right direction.

Now I have a solid foundation – including with my professional life – which gives me a springboard for jumping ahead to where I really want to go.

And it’s all good. None of this can be bad.

What may come, will come. La la.

I’ve got work to do.

Onward.

 

Or… I could have fun with it

roller-coasterWhat a roller coaster. One day, we’re up. The next we’re down.

Sigh.

I started out yesterday feeling pretty great. Then came the speed bump.

My employer announced its quarterly numbers about a week ago, and they just missed their projected numbers by a smidge. But they still missed.

So, yesterday we found out that our bonuses will be affected by the shortfall, and there are a lot of unhappy campers walking around. The holidays are coming, and there’s going to be a little less Christmas cheer for some.

The crazy thing is, I’d bet good money that none of the people actually responsible for running the company will have their personal financial situation affected. A lot of them have a ton of money, already, so even if they do share in the bonus payout reduction, they won’t feel even a 10% drop — whereas the rest of us “on the ground” have a very different story to tell.

I think it would be much more fair for the people in charge of the big decisions to take the hit, rather than passing it along to us. It just feels like a sort of punishment. And that on top of the ongoing negotiations about the company being acquired… It’s all very exciting.

And my back and hips are killing me, because the chair they gave me is for sh*t… and I have been sitting too much. I used to have a self-constructed standup desk at my old office.  Four cases of seltzer water with a shelf on top. I think I’ll reconstruct that. I have the room in my new cubicle, and it’s the exact right height for me. We’ll see. I do have a shelf that’s the right height, as well, so maybe I don’t need to reconstruct it.  Bottom line is, I need to be standing, not sitting. Sitting is bringing the pain.

So, my bonus is messed up, I have no idea if I’ll have this job in another 6-8 months, and people around me are getting tweaked… emotionally needy… upset… And it’s just the beginning. The acquisition/merger won’t be done for some months, yet, so we’ve got a ways to go. There are a number of acquisitions and mergers going on in the tech world, right now. Some of them have epic proportions. All these people being moved around and nudged/pushed out of their comfort zones…. It’s like the whole world is in flux.

But at least I’m not in the dire straits that people in the Middle East and Africa are. All those people being displaced… Holy crap, it’s just crazy.

In the midst of it all, I can count my blessings, which is fortunate. And I am actually in a really good space. I have a line of work that I love so much, I do it in my spare time. I just love it, and it really is a natural progression of my skills, abilities, and interests. Compared to where I was, just a year ago, my situation is much more stable — and this, in spite of being on the verge of possible displacement.

The thing that’s more stable is my prospects of employment. I have a killer skillset, with the right kind of experience at the right kinds of companies (home-grown global corporate success stories that everybody in the region knows about and respects). And my skills are portable across a number of different industries, so that bodes well for my ongoing employment. I’m less concerned about working for only one company for the long term. That’s never actually been my ideal. I’m much more concerned about staying viable — especially as I’m getting older in a field where employers favor people who are 20 years younger than myself. And the happy fact is that my skills and abilities are still very much in-demand, and they meet a lot of needs very neatly.

No need to “shoehorn” myself into a position – I’m flexible enough to fit in a lot of places, which has really been my goal all along. While I do love the work I do for a living, and I do it on my own time as well, I still have a lot of other interests that I need to pursue without financial pressure. I have research to do and writing to do. I have blog posts to write. And I need to do that all without having to worry about where my next meal is coming from. That kind of stress is a killer.

So, I’m looking on the bright side and just having fun with things. I had a dark time on Sunday, when all the excitement of the past week caught up with me, and I started to sink into that dismal place where I didn’t feel like going on. At all. Of course, I had to, because I had things I needed to take care of, but I just didn’t feel like it. And that, after feeling so strong and clear for many days…. depressing.

But I took it easy, got some rest, and yesterday looked very different to me. Today looks different, as well. I’m getting back on track, having fun with things, and really digging into my work. I have no idea what they will be doing with me or anyone else on my team, in the future, so I’m just “doing my thing” and doing the work that’s meaningful to me — and also valuable in the market. I’m doing my research via online job boards, to see who’s paying the most — and for what types of work/skills/interests.

I know I’m supposed to follow my bliss, but it’s a lot easier to be blissful, if you have a roof over your head and a belly full of nutritious food and a healthy body… not to mention hope for the future.

I do have all of the above, and I plan to keep it that way. It hasn’t been easy, and if I didn’t work at it, I could easily be in very different straits. But I don’t feel like struggling and hassling with basic survival things, so I’m laser-focused on finding where I can improve… and doing just that. It’s all trial-and-error-and-success. And some days I have huge setbacks.

Today, I can see how all my setbacks can set me up for a better future.

Every piece of info I get about how I screwed up is valuable. It gives me more info about how to move forward in a different way. Story of my life. My mistakes are my own — and they can be the most valuable possessions I have. When I realize that, it frees me up to do more things.

And have fun with it all, as best I can.

Onward.

Ironically, the most qualified people got cut

Here’s a weird thing that’s oddly validating to me.

In the recent layoffs, the people who got cut are the most qualified folks in the bunch. One has a Ph.D. and the other has a long string of letters after their name, from all the different certifications they’ve gotten over the years.

Another person got let go, too, but they just don’t add that much to the mix.

But I’m still here.And I’m told I’m “safe”. I’m not sure that’s ever true, but I’ll take it, for the time being.

The thing about this whole round of layoffs is that it just goes to show how important it is to make your best effort, to do your best to add to the team, and to really work well with people, regardless of their “level”. I believe I’m the strongest “utility player” in the bunch, with a lot of varied skills and interests, and a willingness to do what needs to be done.

At least one of the folks who got cut, has a superiority complex and loves to lecture people about, well, everything. Not much of a team player, that one. They get a bit tiresome.

The other one is nice enough, however they don’t really stand out as someone who goes out of their way to produce results. They’re nice, but they seem to think their education is going to pave their way.

Anyway, it could also be because I’m a bargain, and I’m not paid as much as the others, so I’m easier to keep around. But I also know that I’m on good terms with everyone who wants to be on good terms with me, and people really enjoy working with me.

I’m fun.

Maybe that’s why they keep me around… 😉

Anyway, who can say? It’s the weekend. Time to focus on my own work.

Putting it all to good use

So, things have been very tense at work. The people who are running my group are actually running it into the ground, with their scorched earth approach to achieving their goals. They really don’t care whom they hurt, in the process of getting where they’re going, and it shows.

They’ve hurt a bunch of people, thus far, and the ripples are being felt all across the company, which spans several continents on the other sides of several oceans.

It’s a little difficult to watch – first, because I genuinely care about people and how this all affects them. I feel for the people who are in charge, who feel that they “have to do what they have to do” and are putting profit margins ahead of everything else.

I feel for the middle management people who report to them who also seem to think that they are helpless in the face of institutional structures, and that they’re lucky to get anything done at all.

And of course, I feel for the folks at my level, who are being given a sh*t-ton of work to do, without a whole lot of support or resources, let alone direction and leadership.

It’s ironic – at every step, people seem to feel helpless in the face of overwhelming odds, and at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control. And yet, each and every one of us has the power of choice. We each have the option to do what we feel is the right thing, and to stick by it. The only problem is, there tend to be consequences for making unpopular decisions, and the decisions which challenge the dominant paradigm of helplessness and victimization… and take responsibility for outcomes (which may not always turn out the way we hope they will)… well, those kinds of decisions can make your boss(es) pretty nervous. And if they’re not on board and not on the same wavelength and they’re not willing to take the same risks as you, it can end up turning into a bit of a sh*tstorm.

Which is where I’m at right now.

Right now, I’m in charge of designing and rolling out a program which is not terribly popular in every corner of the company. It’s for the best, and it introduces changes that should have been made years ago, but a lot of people are very wedded to old, unworkable ideas about how things should be done.

Nobody likes change… and yet here I am, in the midst of it, instigating it and moving it forward.

Which means that people complain. About me. About my program. About the change. And my bosses, who are intensely concerned with how they are perceived and how popular they are, are getting fidgety. There’s a real lack of character that’s coming out — and ironically, the people who are the most concerned with how people see them are the ones who have the worst reputation and can’t seem to get anything done.

So, that’s all very well and good. And it’s very instructive. But I can’t let it throw me off, as it has been. I’ve gotten too caught up in worrying about my bosses’ worries, running interference for them and helping them justify their position, which is untenable, because they’re driven by other people’s perceptions and their own selfish gains, rather than substance and character.

Which is not how I want to live my life. I do want to do my part in the team, and I do want to do work that is meaningful and has impact. But I certainly do not want to do it the way I see it done. And the people who are giving me orders and telling me how to behave, should really check themselves. It’s just a little bit disgraceful.

So, it’s all very instructive, and I get a front-row seat to how I do NOT want my next job to be. Substance, not just form, is important. Form matters, but only if there is substance to back it up. And I’ve been on this earth long enough to realize that jobs and promotions and raises and popularity contests come and go, but I will still have to live with myself through it all, no matter what the circumstances of my present situation. I am still dealing with the personal fallout from poor choices I made in the past, and I am still dealing daily with the residual troubles that all those traumatic brain injuries brought into my life over the years.

So, I know just how important and precious it is, to have a moral compass, to know who you are, and to make decisions in the now that will support you in the future — rather than trading in my dignity and self-respect for an expedient favor from someone else that may quickly go forgotten… except in my mind, and the shadow of it on my soul.

It sounds heavy… and it is. This one life is all any of us has, and it is over all too soon. So many things can go wrong, just by chance, so the choices we consciously make are all the more important. I’m using this god-awful experience at work as a learning experience and a proving ground, for me to get in the habit of standing up for what I believe and holding to my own vision for what can and will happen in my world.

People may not like what I am doing and saying. They may not much care for the changes I’m bringing to their lives.

But if I stick to my guns and stay true to myself, in the end, I have a feeling they’re going to respect me.

And even more importantly, so will I.

The day is waiting. Onward.

The only good reason to look back

The only time you should ever look back,
is to see how far you’ve come

An old college friend messaged me this morning to catch up. It was good to hear from them, and we had a good — but brief — chat. They were one of my closest friends in college, and they saw me go through an awful lot, thanks to my heavy drinking. They tried to reach out to me to help, a number of times, but I was pretty much of a goner, in those days.

It would be easy to say it was just the drinking, but it was so much more. I really believe that the multiple concussions I had in high school had a lot to do with my attitude problems and inability to keep focused and clear about my priorities. I was not accustomed to making good decisions about the people I hung around with — in high school, I faded to the background, when the after-effects of several concussions and a whole lot of rough-housing and heavy partying took over my life.

So, by the time I got to college and I was away from the structures and restrictions of my youth, I was ready to just “let go” — and that’s exactly what I did. It only took me a year to get into real trouble, and this college friend of mine has been saying repeatedly over the past year or so that we’ve been back in touch, that they wish they had been a better friend to me. I am assuming that means they thought they could somehow save me from myself and my inner demons. Or maybe at least advocate for me better, when the police got involved, and a nasty-ass judge who favored local townspeople over ne’er-do-well college kids started making life difficult for me.

Looking back, I don’t think that there’s much of anything they could have done for me. I had too much I needed to work through, and I transferred out of that school after two years there. The next stop I made was a better solution, academically, but again I got into trouble — drinking too much, falling down drunk a lot, doing more of the same as I was before, but this time, much worse. And I isolated like crazy, which didn’t help me any.

I wonder sometimes… if I had been able to reach out for help earlier, if I had allowed others to help me (instead of pushing them away like I did), would things have turned out differently for me? It is really hard to say. Even if they had been able to be a friend to me, I doubt I could have let it all in. I was too much at odds with myself and everyone/everything around me, to really allow much to penetrate this hard head of mine. Combining a succession of mild traumatic brain injuries with drinking, was a really bad idea, but — like so many others — I did it. And it did me no good. At. All.

In any case, it’s all water under the bridge, and the experiences I have had, have made me who I am. The best reason to look back on all of it, is to see how far I have truly come, to look back on the flood waters and rapids I have navigated in my past and to be genuinely grateful that I am alive today. It didn’t have to turn out that way. I have found myself in the midst of human traffickers, drug dealers, violent criminals, and all manner of thieves, cheats, and liars, over the course of my life. The fact that I am living a good life today, with a marriage of 20+ years and a home and a favorable employment situation, is really something to celebrate, rather than regret because it’s not something else.

I’ve been grappling with that a lot, lately — regret over my past, and things not turning out better than they did. So many of my professional peers, including folks 10-15 years younger than me — are farther along and doing more with their lives. They have much better prospects than I, or so it seems. Job-wise, I do feel like I’ve been held back by my situation… until I really think about it and realize how other people with the same type of history as I are living.

I have friends who have been through similar circumstances to my own, and none of them are even close to the quality of life I have. They came from similar circumstances, but they made different choices, and now — as far as I can tell — they are in decline, while I am on the ascent. I don’t want to get caught up in making anyone better or worse than anyone else, because who can tell what is in the mind and heart of another. And yet I can’t help comparing my situation to others’.

I guess that means I’m human.

Anyway, it’s fall, and that means it’s a time of reflection and recapping the past year. I always feel like this is the end of the year, with Halloween being a sort of turning point leading into the new year. It’s a cellular thing, I guess. Growing up in farm country, Halloween was the time when everything was ready to be cut down and turned over, and the nights were obviously longer than ever, so it really felt like The End. Thanksgiving, to me, feels like the start of the year, with a kickoff celebration of what’s to come.  This time of year, with the falling leaves and shortening days, prompts me to look back on the past months to do a kind of inventory of where I’ve been and how far I’ve progressed.

I have to say, for all the challenges of the past 12 months, I have made significant progress. I’ve managed to extricate my mind from the hold of my current employer, and I have managed to stick it out long enough to not look like a flake, by leaving my employer in two years’ time. I have made some real progress in my work, achieving some pretty impressive feats – even if the cost was high. I’ve also had some real revelations about myself and where I want to fit in the world, and I’ve made some real strides with regard to my eating and exercising. I’ve become more active — all across the board — and that’s a really good thing.

With regard to the part I want to play in the world, after re-connecting with some old friends and co-workers, I’ve realized that I really did get sidetracked by the whole career thing. For the past three years, I’ve been living under the belief that by applying myself and working hard and showing real results and good progress and transforming the way my job is done, I can be a valued team player who has real career prospects. The first year in my job, that was pretty much true. The thing that held me back, was me. I didn’t put myself forward enough and I didn’t leverage the connections I had, to move forward. For the past two years, my prospects have shrunk and shriveled, and now it’s pretty clear that no matter how well I do my job, if I don’t say the right things to the right people at the right time, I’ll be perpetually marginalized and relegated to the “average 80%” pool of employees at this mega-corporation. Just a number.

Looking back, there’s part of me that regrets not pushing harder for the career advancement thing. But with a week’s vacation behind me, I realize now that it would not have worked, because that’s just not how I want to organize my life. I don’t want to be a high-flying hot-shot at work, to the point where it takes over my life and is my identity. I don’t want to give myself 100% to that path, because there is so much else I want to do with myself, and there is so much else I need to experience, beyond the realm of that whole career business.

If I had wanted to push for promotions and move up in the corporate world, I would have done it. If I had wanted to advance professionally and take it all to the next level, I would have gotten it done. But the fact of the matter is, I am deeply distrustful of that whole world, and more than anything, I want freedom and balance and the ability to move at will about the world. I’m more interested in questions, than answers, and I want to be free from any licensing agency or professional association that could impose its standards on me and shut down my voice. I would much rather hold down a day job for the structure and society, and then be free to do my own thing in my own hours.

And given that for the past three years, I’ve been in a job that has required me to be available pretty much anytime, any day, moving back to a 9-to-5 job will probably feel like a breeze. It will give me time to research TBI and to write. It will give me time to build out the library of resources I’m compiling for mild TBI understanding and recovery. It will give me time to do what I really want to do —  freely read and write and think and talk the way I see fit and am drawn to do, without the intrusion of those who crave power and influence in the world.

And that, to me, is progress. Realizing and remembering – yet again – where I am going, and why… that’s the best sign of growth and strength that I could ever get.

Looking back, there are many things that could have gone differently and could have been “better”. There’s also a lot of stuff that could have turned out a whole lot worse. All in all, it’s been a wild ride — and here I am, on down the road, with a whole lot of experience under my belt, that makes it all worth it.

Way.

So, onward we go. Looking back to see how very far I’ve come. And yes, it is very, very far.

 

Getting back to my own life again – what’s next?

Ah, that’s better. The two projects that I finalized on Monday have had some ongoing issues, which has kept me up late for days on end, and the problems seem to just keep rolling in. At times, it seems like everything is broken and there is no relief — then I remember… everything is not broken, and I can go back to my regular schedule and become a real person again.

I’ve started back with my job search, communicating with some headhunters and thinking about how to better position my resume. I got a tip on an excellent opportunity on Friday, but I was so busy with these deadlines, I missed the window of opportunity to submit my resume. Drat! It would have been an amazing opportunity that would have given me great skills. It was exactly what I was looking for, too — in the right area, the right industry, doing the right kind of work.

Oh, well. At least I got the projects done.

Sort of. Things keep breaking through no fault of ours — the technical system itself is rickety and so customized that it’s a wonder it works at all. In a few months, this will not be my problem, however. There will be other problems, I’m sure, but this will not be one of them.

So, it feels good to be able to get up at a reasonable hour when I just wake up (instead of having the alarm wake me), do my exercises, have my breakfast, check my email, shower, and go into work after rush hour. The other “regular” way of doing things — which is the standard way for everyone else who is on the same schedule — is a killer for me. I don’t mind staying later at the office, if it keeps me out of rush hour traffic. Anyway, my life has shifted to a few hours later than everyone else’s, so it works for me.

And when I find my next job that does not involve 45-60 minutes of driving, each way, so much the better.

Yeah, I’m looking forward to it alright.  I’m already much more relaxed, and I have this underlying sense of euphoria that almost brings me to tears. I have to be careful driving, because that’s when it comes up the most — when I am by myself in my car, and the emotions become almost overwhelming. Sometimes I just pull over and let it all well up in me… then I compose myself and get back on the road.

It’s all good. It’s a little scary, but not nearly as scary as the thought of being stuck in this job indefinitely. The idea of getting out… that’s a good idea, indeed.

Onward.

All I need to learn

There’s a lot of ground to travel

So, I talked to the uber-boss today, and to be honest, they were pretty decent about things. As it turns out, nothing definite has been determined for who goes where — and when. So, it could be that this change is more about opportunity inside the company – in a different division – than outside it.

Only time will tell. Best case scenario: I get a kind of promotion and get to run things. Next-best-case scenario: I get laid off with a severance package and move on to other vistas. Or I could end up being stuck where I am with the people who treat me poorly, which would not be great, but would be what I have been expecting to do for the next four months or so.

I’m trying to stay open. I’m trying to stay flexible. I’m trying to not let my rigidity get the better of me. It is hard going.

What I’ve learned from this whole thing is — I cannot afford to let myself get complacent and content and too comfortable. I need to keep learning, keep stretching, keep aligned with my own ultimate goals, and keep moving towards them, no matter how comfortable things may be at the time. That doesn’t last. And when it changes, it is WAY too traumatic for me.

I feel like total crap, after the past two days of worry and stress. It just took it out of me. For no good reason other than that I was not prepared for the eventualities.

Now, in all fairness, nobody can be 100% prepared for any eventuality, but it doesn’t hurt to be a little prepared. And I wasn’t even a little prepared. I lost sight of what I most want to do for a living, and I let things slide because, well, it was pretty much all taken care of for me, so long as I went along and did as I was told. And in the process, I lost my edge. I lost my competitive advantage. And as a result, when things started to shift, I freaked out. Lost it. Lost my sh*t.

And that’s no good.

So, let that be a lesson to me — I don’t have a lot of time to screw around and waste hours on nothing-nothing-and-more-nothing. And I can’t afford to lose sight of the things I love most, that I want to do most. Ample opportunities have arisen for me to keep my skills sharp, but I drifted away. I fell out of touch. And that turned out to really be a problem.

There are no guarantees in life, and “security” is a hollow promise that makes you feel good about your choices, but never really comes true. Not for real. There is always something that gets in the way, that trips you up. Always.

Unless you do something about it. Unless you take steps. Unless you strengthen yourself so that even when insecurity and uncertainty sets in, you can hold your own and keep it together, and stay open to the magic of surprise opportunities. This involves regular study. This involves taking care of body and mind and soul. It involves keeping fit and being rested, because you never know what tomorrow will bring – and especially if it’s good, you want to be up for the challenge. For sure.

That being said, it’s time for me to spend a little time brushing up on some of my skills and practice what I love to do. I can’t say I’ll never be caught off-guard again, but if I am, at least I can be ready to roll, rather than fall flat on my face.

Onward.

Still waiting…

So, the organizational announcements have been coming down for the past two days, and things are definitely shifting around. Things that were built up over the past 10 years are being torn down and replaced by something else, and nobody knows just where the fit in the new organization. But so far there’s no sign of layoffs. The black cloud is still hanging over people’s heads, and it’s pretty tough to get any work done, but I’m hanging in there. I’ve dressed my best over the past two days, and people have definitely noticed. But the good clothes are cramping my style, and I’m ready to let go of that. I’ve got my letter for my file written up and printed out, just in case. I’m pretty much ready for whatever comes, I think.

I met with my neuropsych yesterday to talk about what’s been going on, and sort things through… and in the process of discussing things, I realized how I had let this situation get to me and get up in my head. I try not to let it get the better of me, but I have to admit… it was. I got some good input from my NP, which helped me get some wider perspective. It’s amazing how helpful it can be just talking things through with someone who knows how our heads can play tricks on us and make us profoundly unhappy for no apparent reason, and who refuses to get sucked into the drama for no good reason.

Most people I know are on the opposite end of the spectrum – they think everything they feel and think is the God’s truth, and they go with it — even when the have plenty of experience with that belief taking them down a very dark and unhappy path. Most people I know don’t question their thinking/feeling, because it’s just about the only thing they feel sure of. The fact that it messes them up, time and time again, doesn’t change their behavior – they just keep believing in all the thinking/feeling that messes them up, thinking that it will save them. Fortunately, my NP knows better, and it was good to have an actual logical discussion about the situation, and realize that I might be making it worse for myself than need be.

Now, re-orgs are stressful, no doubt about it. It’s really hell at times. And the prospect of layoffs is daunting. The thing is, I got caught up in focusing on the wrong stuff — all the negative stuff that I automatically jump to, when things are getting tough. Now that I consider it, I realize that I was most freaked out about not having the additional time to prepare for re-entry to the job market, and that put me on the defensive — a real threat situation.  I think it’s just an instinct with me — I must protect me-and-mine against threats — but in protecting myself from threats, it puts me in a frame of mind that is not receptive and is not open to new ideas. It locks me down in the worst way, and that’s a problem. Especially in times of change, when I need all my faculties about me more than ever.

So, I’m widening my perspective and I’m considering the possibility that the upset around me in my team isn’t because I’m going to get laid off, but because things are simply changing and everyone is stressed and uncertain and not sure what’s to come. I am way too sensitive to other people’s “stuff,” actually, and I need to do better at blocking it out. I especially need to not accept their invitation to get pulled into all their drama — misery loves company, for sure. It doesn’t help me to get caught up in their drama (it is usually their drama, not mine), and it doesn’t help to keep everyone around me calm and feeling stable.

So, I need to get a grip, remember who I am, work on my stability, and not let others get me tweaked because they’re all into their recreational upset. High-strung people are always going to seek me out, looking for some sort of comfort and reassurance, and it’s not helping them (or me) when I get pulled into their high-strung thinking and then get stressed and worried, myself. There is more to this job situation than meets the eye, and I’m just finding out a lot of it, so maybe I need to just trust that it’s all going to be fine.

Maybe I need to entertain other possibilities — like, I might get promoted or moved to another job. The thought had occurred to me – I’m either going to get laid off or promoted… but I chose to focus on the layoff piece of it. In a way, that would be as stressful for my coworkers as me getting laid off, because they wouldn’t have access to my skillset anymore. So, maybe that’s what this is about.

It could be… anything. I just don’t know. And that’s the most nerve-wracking thing. I just don’t know.

But I will find out.

Until then, I need to just keep calm and keep plugging away. What comes, will come. It’s up to me to decide how I will handle it when it does come down. Because when it comes to crisis, heck yeah, I know how to do that.

It’s just the waiting game that makes me nuts.

Yada-yada… Enough talk. Enough thinking. Time to get moving.

Onward.

On living – and living well

                                  Soon…

I woke up early this morning, at around 5:30. I had been hoping to “sleep in” this morning and get at least 8 hours of sleep, but 5-1/2 hours after I went to bed, there I was – awake.

I stayed under the covers for a little bit, trying to relax. Then I realized I was actually cold. Summer has now officially passed, although it’s got another couple of weeks before the autumn equinox, and last night I thought about putting another blanket on the bed. But I decided not to. And at 5:30, there I was – awake. And cold.

So, I got up and pulled the comforter out of the closet, laid it atop my other blankets, and went back to bed. It felt so good to be warm, I went back to sleep. And slept till after 8. So, I almost got my 8 hours.

Almost.

But it’s close enough. Because now I am awake, and now I can feel myself coming back. I have been in such a churn for the past weeks, that I haven’t had much time or energy to really enjoy much around me. This past weekend was a wash, with all that beautiful weather happening outside my house, and only work taking place inside for me. I did manage to get out for a little bit on Saturday and Sunday, but it was all for a purpose. It wasn’t just to be.

It wasn’t just to live.

Well, it had to be done. There it is. I took care of what I needed to take care of, and because of that, I didn’t have to get up at 5:30 again today and drive in to the office in the midst of heavy rush hour traffic. Because I took care of those things over the weekend, I can take a few minutes to stop and really breathe… to have my cup of coffee and look out my back window at the woods behind my house. I can watch the sun rising over the hill in the back and feel the nip of that chill in the air. I can look around at the books and papers lying on my desk and sense what each of them means to me. I can clear my head, before the day starts full-speed.

There are some changes happening at work. The boss’es boss’es boss has given notice and will be leaving in a few weeks. They’ve had enough and they’re moving on. It’s always interesting to watch how these things play out. This changes things. The Big Bully is leaving. They set a tone that’s really unprofessional and pushy, and they rely on browbeating their direct reports to get what they want. They have been a big reason I wanted to leave — the name-calling and ridicule and yelling and joking around in ways that get some folks sued in larger organizations, has been tough to handle each day. Now they’re leaving, and that tone may change — dramatically.

Part of me wants to jump in the fray and see if I can move up in the organization, but I am not sure I want to take that on. I’m having enough of a challenge keeping balance in my life at this point, let alone with more responsibility. Changes always get me fired up, and that’s an occupational hazard with me — I seek out stress to keep me pumped, to keep me alert… when what I really need in my life is balance, rest, the ability to regroup after times of intensity and stress, and have more to life than just my job. There’s part of me that wants to push — and push hard — but I’m just now learning how to relax and enjoy my days. I’m actually getting my life back, even in the midst of the crazy fray. Why wreck that, just as it’s beginning?

Indeed. I mean, look outside… Just look at this weather — clear and bright and cool. Perfect weather – just the kind I like. The birds are singing, chipmunks are chirping at each other, warning about a nearby predator. There’s the whoosh of cars passing on their way to work… and the day ahead of me is getting me ever closer to my deadlines and my goals.

And in another two days — 48 hours and counting — I will be packing for my vacation. I’ll be out of the office and out of the loop for eleven days — seven work days, four weekend days. It’s pretty incredible. I have a lot of hopes for this time, most of which include just sitting and looking in wonder at the world around me. I’ll be near a beach that I love. I’ll be near hiking trails. I’ll be near the woods. And I’ll be staying in a small town with everything a short drive or a walk away. Friends are going to visit us. We’re going to party like a bunch of giddy squares — our wild times will probably involve sitting on a deck playing Trivial Pursuit or somesuch. It’s going to be good — really good. Even if it rains the whole time, I have some books I plan to read, and I will have my computer so I can hone my technical skills and get online. And I will be out of the mad dash flow for nearly two weeks.

It’s all good. It’s life. And it just keeps getting better.