Two more days… two more days…

It's moving behind me
It’s all quickly moving behind me

Whew. I am exhausted. I have been exhausted all week. Last week, too. The weekend was good – but then, I didn’t have to be at work. That’s what’s been so tiring — wrapping up, trying to tie up loose ends, and realizing that the amount of work they gave me and the conditions they had me working under, are still going to keep me from completing everything to my satisfaction and standards.

Still.

Which is one of the big reasons why I’m leaving. Maybe the biggest reason of all. That career-killer job is fading into the past — and I feel like I’m out in the West, flying along in a late-model convertible under wide blue skies, racing alongside a miles-long train, the cars all stretching out behind me in my rear-view mirror.

It feels like I’ve been the engine at the front of that train, and to lay that burden down now, is such a sweet relief.

Two more days… two more days… till I am free and clear and don’t have to do that commute, don’t have to work in that space, don’t have to constantly struggle with being the only person who does what I do — which is a critical piece of things, in fact.

Only two more days till I can be free of these particular inexperienced managers, the surly coworkers, the constantly shifting priorities that have dominated my working life for nearly four years. It seems like an eternity. Not four years.

But I only have to deal with these folks and the conditions they create for two more days.

Of course, the next situation I go into will have its share of challenges and problems. For sure. But I don’t have to drive an hour each way to get to and from the madness. And it’s amazing what you can do with some extra sleep — and exercise.

I’ll have more time in the morning, so I’ll be able to add the exercise back in, a couple of days a week. I have been so slammed with doing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, that I haven’t had much room to breathe. Or exercise.

One of the other excellent things about my new workplace is that they are located in a huge, expansive corporate campus, which will give me room to move and breathe. I’ll be able to go out for a walk — and get somewhere. I’ll be able to get away from the office just by walking. No more claustrophobic feeling stuck and trapped.

Again, there are sure to be challenges and issues with the next situation. I’ll just have to roll with it. There are so many aspects of this new situation that suit me better, I can absorb the challenges along the way. No worries.

And I think about where my life can go, now. With extra time. With extra sleep. With extra movement. With a future. The company I’m leaving has absolutely nothing to offer me, that interests me. I’d have to do too much travel. I’d have to put up with too much crap. No way, no how, am I going to do that. It’s just not worth it to me. And too much competition. In my new spot, I’m there on a 2-3 year contract, so politically I’m out of the loop, and I don’t have to worry about who feels a certain way about me, and who doesn’t. I just show up, do my work, show results, and go home.

And get paid for the hours I work, without having the whole bonus thing hanging over my head.

It’s all good. It’s all very, very good.

So, now the challenge for me is keeping focused on the final things I need to sort out before I go. I have a lot that needs to get done, still, and the next 30 hours are going to be quite full. We don’t have a full day of work tomorrow, because of the long weekend, and I’ll be spending so much time saying good-bye to people, cleaning out my desk, etc., that I probably won’t get much done tomorrow, anyway.

So, I really just have one more day to get things together. A day and a few hours…

Unfortunate. But in anther 30 hours, that’s going to fall into the category of “Not My Problem”.

And that makes me very, very happy.

So, what do I need to do in the next 30 hours?

  • Write down the ways I do things and the urls for tools and sites I use, so others can have them to learn.
  • Make some videos of things I do, so people can watch how I do them.
  • Collect all the old emails that could be useful to me in the future, and forward them to myself.
  • Notify everyone I’ve been in touch with over the past five months that I’m leaving, and who they should contact in my stead.
  • Finalize some project plans that I’ve been working on.
  • List any outstanding items that need to be seen to.
  • Prepare my good-bye letter to everyone and collect all the names of people I need to communicate with.
  • Make a list of the all the people I want to stay in touch with (including folks who have already left), collect their personal information, and get in touch with them directly.
  • Do my regular breathing exercises to calm myself down and stay chilled out.
  • Stretch and maybe take a nap later today. No, scratch that – I just checked my calendar, and there will be no time for that.

I’ve got my hands full. But it’s all good. Today is one last push, where I’m totally focused on what is in front of me, and I’m doing my best to just hang in there while I can. After today… well, that’s it, really.

Then tomorrow at 1 p.m., it’s time to turn in my laptop, phone, badge, and say Adios, Amigas y Amigos!

At 1:15 p.m. tomorrow, it’s on to the next adventure, with three days of chilling out to do the things I love to do, and also prep for my new life. Do some laundry. Iron some shirts.

Which is much more like the old life I used to know, and loved so much.

Yes. It’s all good.

Two more days… two more days…

Onward.

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Everything that makes up the day

It’s not always clear

Today’s Fog Factor: 70% “with it”

Well, I’m glad I had a nap yesterday. I got a little less than 7 hours of sleep last night, but I got right up, a little after 6 a.m. I really wanted to get into the day — get my exercise, eat my breakfast, and get some writing done before I get into my full-time packing.

I started to get a headache when I was riding the exercise bike, and now my head hurts. I am supposed to get headache specialist info from my neuropsych, but they never got back to me, even though they promised. This isn’t the first time they’ve forgotten about me. Ah well, I may be better off taking care of things myself. I would like to see a neurologist or someone who can tell me if it’s a structural issue with my brain, or if it’s more about my neck and my stress level. I start to get a headache when my spouse is going on and on about some drama at work, so I’m guessing that it’s a stress thing — at least in part.

I guess I need to get back to my meditation exercises again — just training myself to keep calm in the face of whatever comes my way. Things at work have been intense, and that’s not helping. I need to improve my skills at handling what comes down the pike – no matter what that may be.

I did a little bit of writing and reading, this morning, and I’m about ready to start packing my bags for the trip. I need to collect my clothing, do some laundry, and get my pieces all squared away. I have a list of things to do and take care of.

I’ve got about 7 hours before I need to leave for the airport. I have to check in when I get there – I can’t check in online, unfortunately, which puts a real crimp in my plans today. I need to give myself an extra 30-45 minutes, so I’ll need to leave the house earlier than planned. I need to review my list of everything that needs to be done, so I don’t miss anything.

With any luck, this will be my last trip in a while. They are cutting down on travel at work, so that could relieve me of the constant pressure to get ready to go away, and then recover from coming back. What a waste of my precious — and very limited — energy.

I really just want to devote as much time as I can to my own projects and not have my job take over my life, as it has in the past. It’s bad enough that it already consumes so much of my time and renders many other hours pretty much useless to me — because I’m so tired.

I’m making the best of things, of course. I’ve given up fighting it, and now I’m just going to get into my day and live it as fully as possible, whatever comes down the pike. Whatever the day brings, I need to be fully involved in it – not just up in my head, and not standing at a distance. But in it.

This is really the thing that saves me in my TBI recovery — being involved in my life – up close and personal – and not letting setbacks keep me from making progress. There is so much that is a lot more difficult for me, than I’d like, and I really hate my life, some days. I think back on how things used to be, and everything now just feels so strange and foreign. Things used to feel like they flowed. I had what I thought was a very fulfilling life, with hobbies and pastimes that really gave me a sense of belonging. Then I got hurt, and everything changed, and getting back to some semblance of normalcy — at least feeling like there’s some semblance of normalcy — has been a daily challenge.

Now, though, it’s feeling more “normal” to me, and I’m finding my way back to things that used to be part of my everyday life. Reading. Writing. Being active in my community and having friendships to fall back on. TBI can be so very alienating, because of the personality changes — people who used to like you for who you were, no longer have that same person to like. So naturally a lot of them move on, because you’ve almost broken a promise to them about being the kind of person you are “supposed” to be.

Also, your tolerance for the way certain people are can change a great deal. I noticed that in my own life, a lot of the “endearing” characteristics of other people, which I could accept and gloss over, became glaring points of conflict with me. And I became a lot less tolerant of other people’s flaws and foibles, so I couldn’t bear to spend waste more time with them.

As an example, I used to hang out with a lot of people who had a real victim mentality — like all the world was against them, and they had to constantly struggle against the dominant paradigm to just break even in their lives. I used to hang out with a LOT of escape artists — devotees of role-playing games, computer games, renaissance faires, comic books, and other alternative culture types. That was my world — all full of arts and music and imagination. But it became pretty apparent to me, after I got deeper into my TBI recovery, that so much of that was a convenient way to avoid dealing with harsh truths about oneself, instead of taking action to make right the things that were all wrong.

And I realized, too, that so much of the world that my friends thought was out to get them or designed to make their lives miserable, was a result of how they were thinking about those circumstances. They kept telling themselves that “the mainstream world” was designed to destroy them, and they were in a constant state of conflict and antagonism. So, small wonder that they couldn’t get ahead in life. They came across as angry and aggressive with everyone who wasn’t just like them, and they boxed themselves into a version of life that only existed in their minds.

And because I realized more and more, just how much of what they believed was originating within them… and I saw how much that was costing them, in terms of time and energy and positive living… I just couldn’t spend a whole lot of time hanging out with them anymore. That, and the fact that I was so wiped out after working all week, and I just needed to have time to myself to regroup and recuperate. I just couldn’t stand their bitching and moaning and blatant assumptions about life, which only served to get in their way.

The world wasn’t the problem. THEY were the problem.

And so I dropped a lot of them and I’ve gone my own way.

It’s been kind of lonely, to tell the truth. It’s tough to connect with other people like you, when you all have so little energy to spare, beyond basic survival. And the people I’ve tried to stay friends with and tell about my TBI issues… well, they just weren’t having it. They were so convinced that “there’s nothing wrong” with me — and a lot of them still are. They can’t see the internal issues I have to deal with, each and every day. They can’t see the struggles, the pain, the frustration. There’s not much point in trotting them out for others to see, because they just get nervous if they don’t know what it’s like. And they don’t know what to say.

So, it’s complicated. And it’s challenging. But in reality, is sustaining a TBI and not being able to shake the symptoms really that different from any other kind of loss? Losing your home, or your marriage, or a child, or a loved one, or a job? Or any other things that make up part of your identity in the eyes of others? People fall out of your life, they move on, they don’t know what to say to you… and sometimes they are never replaced. I think it comes with life. And getting older. And realizing who you are and what you will — and will not — tolerate in your life.

So, while I have a lot fewer friends in my life, and my activities have really pared down to the most essential of activities, and I’m not nearly as social as I used to be, that’s all fine. Because I’m fine.

I’m fine with how my life is now. I’m fine with things being so much quieter, and having a lot more time for the things that matter most to me. I’m fine with not being surrounded by people who are convinced the world is out to get them. And I’m fine with what the day has to bring.

Because being in the midst of my daily life — all the little details, as confounding as they can be — and experiencing it all, fully alive and engaged in my own life, is what brings me back to myself.

For many years after my various TBIs, I held back and was off by myself in a world of my own inventing, like so many of my ex-friends. And I didn’t really let life in. It was safer, but it was no way to get myself in shape to live my life. I avoided a ton of experiences, because they were too overwhelming or too confusing for me. And I thought I could avoid all that and prevent the anxiety that came with it.

Now, I generally accept that I’m going to get confused and overwhelmed, and I can plan for it. I expect it. So, it’s not such a terrible thing. It’s just one more aspect of life I have to manage. And so I do.

All that the day brings — all it has to offer — it’s there for me.

Now, what shall I do with my life today?

Let’s find out.

Onward…

 

 

 

Rise and Shine – At last, a reason to get up in the morning

It’s a new day. Literally

Today’s Fog Factor: 75%

I woke up at 5 a.m. again today. It was not because of an alarm, and it was not because I jolted awake on adrenaline that won’t quit. I just woke up. Because I was done resting.

I lay in bed thinking for a while, then I talked to my spouse who was also up at the same time, and we sorted some things out that they’ve been mentally wrangling with for some days, now. Then I had my exercise — just a little, not too much that messes up my head — and I made my breakfast at the same time. Making coffee fits in well with me riding the exercise bike, and frying an egg fits in well with my leg exercises. I didn’t do any lifting today, because I’m a little sore from yesterday, and the point was really just to move, not to overdo it. I may go to the gym later today. I have my gym bag in the car, so I can do that. It’s been a while since I got on the machines, and I actually miss it.

So, I’m going to go ahead and spend a little bit of time in the gym at work.

So, I woke up early and got up early, too. I’ve been waking up around 5 a.m., ever since I got back from my last trip. Having only a couple of weeks between international trips makes it hard to get back to a regular schedule I also feel like I need to shift my sleeping schedule up a bit, anyway, because I was getting too lax before… too lazy, too in love with a leisure that I cannot afford to indulge. I was getting to bed too late and getting up too late, too.

In the past, I was also pretty depressed about my job situation, to be honest. It just dragged me down terribly and now that I think about it, as valiant as I tried to be to keep on keepin’ on, it was a total friggin’ drag. Small wonder I didn’t want to leap out of bed in the morning. I was reporting to a nincompoop… who was following on the heals of a jerk… who was following on the heels of a real d*uchebag. I haven’t had many decent bosses at all, in the past almost-4 years at this company, but now at least there’s a (relatively) competent person at the helm of my group. It would be an understatement to say I’m glad that the organization has changed and I am no longer stuck in that old situation, reporting to those old bosses.

At the same time, I’m also really glad that I have this new situation. It’s more than being glad I’m out of that old situation. I’m really happy to be in new circumstances. It’s a relief, to not have to fend off idiots all the livelong day. And better yet, it’s positioning me well to move into a different and better line of work than I’ve been in for almost 20 years — a line of work that can translate across a number of different industries and disciplines — not only technology.

That new direction is project management. I’ve talked about this before as something I wanted to move towards, but there was something that always held me back. Project management is actually something I’ve been doing for years now. However, because I’ve always had a hands-on role in the projects I’ve been involved in, and I’ve always had to report to some d-bag who tried to undercut me because I threatened them, I was never considered (or permitted to be) a 100% project manager — just a coordinator or a producer or a “lead”.

That’s changing, now, as I move forward. And I can detect a distinct change in the way I’m relating to my work and going about my business. I’m thinking bigger picture — because I can. I’m not being blocked anymore. I’m a lot less hands-on than I’ve been in the past. And I’m a lot better able to step back and just let others take over doing the hands-on work.

This is a big change for me. For so many years, I was deeply invested in being THE ONE who did the work. I had to be the one who took care of things. I had to be the one who got everything squared away. I didn’t trust anyone else to do the job, because I didn’t believe they could do it as well as I could.

And back in the day, that was accurate. I could do my job better than anyone else, and it was extremely painful to see people struggling through, trying to get things done, which I could take care of far better, in a fraction of the time. It took forever. They didn’t know how to do things properly – they still had to learn. And my anxiety was out of control, to the point where I couldn’t even begin to step back and let someone else handle things — because they would do it wrong, and that was unacceptable.

Now things are very different. First off, because of my learning and reading and comprehension and memory issues, I can’t retain and process information nearly as fast and as capably as in the past. This has been an incredibly difficult thing to take. Not being able to read and retain what I read… not being able to think fast on my feet and adapt instantly to changing conditions… not being able to adjust and switch gears… it’s really been a hard pill for me to swallow. But that’s how I’ve become. And while the past 10 years have seen improvements with me, I am nowhere near as capable of picking things up quickly and adapting to ever-changing conditions, the way I was before.

I have fought and struggled against this for years, but in the past year, I seem to have finally given up on the idea that I can ever get back to my old level. That’s just gone. All the attempts at keeping up, at getting my abilities back up to snuff… well shit. That capability is just not there anymore. I’ve got to move on. I see that now.

The thing is, moving on is the best thing I can do under the circumstances. Because frankly, it gives me the opportunity to effect change at a much higher level than I’ve been able to, before. Changing my career direction makes it possible for me to actually stop things from being chaotic and frenetic and stupidly “dynamic” for no other reason than the thrill of the chase. Being in a project management position allows me to change the culture at a fundamental level and create the kind of environment that I know is productive and helpful for everyone — and that supports positive change, instead of driving everyone ahead like mad little animals being herded into a truck and shipped off to God-knows-where.

I’ve chafed against conditions of confusion and frustration and ambiguity for years. And now I get to change that — for the better. I may not solve every single problem, but I can at least make a dent.

I’ve also been given a really huge task to take on at work – and it seems well nigh impossible. So, I have to let go of my need for control. It’s impossible for me to control alone. It is simply too big for me to make happen all by myself, and I have to step back and let others handle things. It’s not optional. First, I don’t have the time to follow every single detail of every person’s activities. Second, I don’t really want to. And third, it lets me focus on the bigger picture and providing leadership to folks who are struggling to find their way.

A coworker of mine is trying to manage everything personally, with a hand in every single thing that happens, and it’s driving them crazy. It’s making them ill. It’s painful to watch, and I am learning a lot from their mistakes.

I just don’t have the time and the energy for that level of involvement. I need to find another way. So, that’s what I’m doing.

And it’s funny — all of a sudden, I want to get up in the morning. I want to wake up. I want to move into the day. I want to turn my life around.

Because on the one hand, I finally have a job that is a real intellectual challenge for me — it’s stimulating and invigorating and frustrating and confounding, and it’s just the sort of impossible mess I specialize in handling and setting to rights.

On the other hand, I can’t wait to get the hell out of there and get my life back. I can’t want to find a job doing project management that’s within 15 miles of my home, which doesn’t kill me with the commute, and leaves me time in my day to do the things I love to do — write and read and relax. I’ve had precious little of that, ever since my job moved 20 minutes east, into the thick of the worst commuter traffic in the region.

I also look forward to finding another job which all takes place here in the United States. I do like my international colleagues, and we get along pretty well. However, traveling overseas on a regular basis is, well, hell. It destroys the quality of life I have worked so hard to create, and the fatigue and logistics are serious issues with my mental and physical health. It’s taking a toll, and I need to stop it.

Plus, the people I work with stateside are unprofessional pains in the ass. Seriously, I haven’t heard this much bitching and complaining since high school.

Of these three issues, the last is probably the least likely to go away. People will be people, and no matter what the circumstances, they’ll tend to act like adolescents. But the first two, I can control, and there is hope for me there.

So, that’s my plan. And I’m sticking to it. Do my job to the best of my ability, make my internal “customers” happy and discharge my duties with professionalism and capability… and prepare my exit strategy. It makes no sense for me to continue like this indefinitely. I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve got better things to do with my time than sit in my car, wrangling with traffic. I can think of a number of better uses of my time, energy, and money, than commuting.

So, that’s where I’m going to put my energy. Just take care of what I need to take care of, and set myself up to move on with all due haste.

It’s a plan.

And it has me getting out of bed in the morning. Because I want to. Because after so many false starts, now I can truly see the end of the road ahead of me. There’s only another 8-10 months I have to do this, and things are so insane and so fast-paced, I’m sure the time is going to just fly by. I figure it’s going to take about that long to get my current situation squared away sufficiently to show results, fill out my resume, and position myself well for my next steps. I just need to study up on what I’m doing and figure out the best way to do it. I need to get clear on my abilities and interests, and just move forward with them, all the while keeping things moving along in my neck of the woods. I’ll focus on acquiring the skills and experience I need to transition into my next position, and not worry about how things are right now.

They’re going to change. It’s my job to change them. So, I’m going to do exactly that.

Onward.

 

Making lemonade

Everything looks a bit wobbly, these days
Everything looks a bit wobbly, these days

So, I’m back from vacation, and I am still pretty fried. The past months have really taken a lot out of me, and it’s not going to get restored overnight. One week of being off work is not going to right this boat. It’s going to take some time — and a lot of concerted effort to rest up and recover. It’s important. I can’t function fully in this current state.

I am incredibly dizzy and foggy and out of it. My whole system feels like it’s been stripped — demyelinated — rubbed raw. I am keeping going, but I feel like crap. Truly, I do. I’ve got to carve out some time today to just lie down and rest — find a remote parking spot and just shut my eyes for half an hour, before I get up and go back into the whole thing.

I also need to take care of things like getting a haircut and doing some banking. I’ve got some potential job interviews coming up, and I don’t want to look like a character on one of those Animal Planet reality shows when I get there 🙂

These are all good problems to have — new and different job prospects, banking to do, being so busy with work that I have to take a break and rest. I actually feel pretty relaxed, overall — a hell of a lot more relaxed than I did, six months ago. I’m just extremely tired, is all. That can be fixed.

I’m going to try to get to bed by 10 p.m. each night for the next month. I had planned to do that last night, but I had to talk to a friend who is having legal issues, and I need to go to court with them for support. We did find some interesting information about the used car salesman who is ripping them off, so that was entertaining and useful. But the call went too long, and I ended up in bed at 11:30, not 10:30. And then I thought I had to get up at 6:30 today, because of a conference call with someone overseas. So, I got up early, after getting about 6-1/2 hours of sleep, and I got on the call in time.

But then I realized that they had rescheduled earlier because of a conflict, and there I was, sitting in front of my computer feeling like crap, whacked out and shaking, for no good reason. Oh, well… it occurred to me that this could be a great opportunity to do other things for an hour. So, I’ve been checking my email, responding to another former colleague who is looking to hire a new team of developers (right up my alley), and get back to people who have been waiting to hear from me for the past week.

So, it’s not all bad. I just feel like crap, I’m shaking and sick to my stomach, and I’m so out of it, it’s not funny.

At least I don’t have to be fully functional for work, just yet.

So, now I get to take care of some things that I’ve been needing to do for some time. I can get an earlier start on my day, and I can move at a decent pace, instead of racing around like a stupid crazy person all the live-long day. I can’t even remember what it feels like to be rested. I’m sure I have been, in the past, but I have forgotten what that feels like. Part of me wants to just give up on the hope of ever being righted again, ever having a regular schedule, and ever being NOT sick to my stomach and NOT shaky and NOT foggy. I just want to forget about ever getting back to that place of balance and equanimity and just accept that I’m going to feel like crap for the rest of my life.

But that’s ridiculous. I know for a fact that the main reason I’m feeling as bad as I am, is because of the stupid international hours I’m on, the amount of work I have to do, the rickety technical systems I have to use at work which are constantly breaking and need to be fixed, and the constant stream of others’ slap-dash, lazy-ass sloppiness that I have to perpetually manage … try to head off at the pass… and then fix, when all goes wrong.

Oh. My. God. I am so looking forward to quitting this job.

And that’s the mindset that I need to be in — to not get bent out of shape that things are as screwed up as they are, but to be genuinely glad that all the little pains and difficulties are making it that much easier for me to leave this career-killer of a job. It’s like having a whole week’s beautiful weather turn ugly, the last day of vacation — as it did for me this past Sunday. It’s a blessing in disguise. It doesn’t making things simpler, logistically, but it makes things a whole lot easier, mentally speaking.

And that’s how I’m thinking about my fatigue. It has really caught up with me, after three years and three months. All that adrenaline and high-power enthusiasm that had me pumped for the first year, has turned into a massive backlog of stress hormones and high-power frustration. At the same time, though, it’s really ample proof that I need to move on.

And that’s critical, in my inertia-driven mind. Because as much as I want to go, part of me wants to stay put, because this job is a known quantity and it has great insurance coverage. (My spouse is extremely anxious about insurance issues, so I have to make sure that’s all taken care of.) But I can’t keep pushing myself this way, working stupidly long and irregular hours, week after week, dealing with people all over the world at all hours of the day, trying to make sure they do the right thing, when they have almost no incentive to do so.

I need a change. And I need to get back to a regular schedule with a company that is 100% American. I need to get myself back into a routine, with regular waking and sleeping hours, that aren’t interrupted by sh*t breaking that never should have broken in the first place.

That’s my lemonade — the determination to quit. It’s made of the bitter, bitter juice of years of over-work and under-appreciation and under-compensation, sweetened by the idea of never having to ever deal with this crap again. That’s a pretty sweet combination right there. It makes me incredibly happy, and I could sit for hours, just imagining what it will be like.

But rather than sitting around, mooning about it, I’m going to do something. I’m going to have my shower, go get my hair cut, and call the former colleague who wants to hire me. I’m going to take my sweet time going into the office, and I’m going to take things one at a time while I’m there, not worrying about it at all, because it’s all going to be over soon. This makes me so happy, it’s lighting a fire under me. A happy, cheerful fire.

Yes, I am wiped out and foggy and tired. But I’ve got enough in me to start the day and get off on the right foot.

Onward.

After TBI – Stress is not the enemy

Fatigue Range
Fatigue Range – what works, what doesn’t. The red areas are where I’m most fatigued. The green is where I’m not. So, lots of fatigue with no energy can mean I don’t sleep. But lots of energy with lots of fatigue also means I don’t sleep. Conundrum.

It’s the day before the long weekend. I have three full days ahead of me to do whatever I so choose, and I plan to choose well. Have plenty of down-time. Take plenty of naps. Not stress out about everything, the way I have been for the past several months.

Most people I work with are working from home today, because they’re closing the office early – a little after noon – and nobody wants to spend the time driving back and forth. I’m going to go in, because it’s going to be quiet, very few people will be there, and the traffic promises to be light. Plus, the internet connection is so much better there — I can get more done in less time, which is the plan.

And then I’ll have my weekend free and clear to use as I please. Last weekend, I spent half my time on work-work stuff, which really wore me out. Even if I am working on my projects on the weekend, it’s nowhere near as taxing as doing other people’s work. There’s something about being able to set the agenda myself, being able to pick and choose what needs to be done, and knowing that I’m going to directly benefit from my work, that really picks me up and puts a spring in my step.

Speaking of having a spring in my step, I just got done with my morning warm-up. It feels good to move. I worked on my knees today — leg lifts are in order, because my knees have been giving me some problems. When I do my leg lefts — front, back, sideways, up, down — for a few days running, it actually helps my knees. Something about getting all the muscles around them engaged and working again… I’ve been working long hours, sitting and sitting and sitting… and it’s definitely taking its toll.

So, it’s up-and-at-em for me, first thing in the morning. I wash my face and hands in cold-cold water, brush my teeth, and head downstairs for some exercise. It takes me a little while to warm up, but once I get going, I’m good. I pretty much do whatever I feel will be good for me. Some mornings I do a lot of squats. Other mornings I do a bit of yoga-style stuff, with stretching and holding poses. Other mornings I just move in exaggerated ways, stretching and pushing myself a little bit — especially for my balance. After about 15 minutes of that, I’m done. I’m warmed up, I’m ready to go. I stress myself just a little bit, physically, then I drink my big glass of water and make my breakfast.

And it feels good. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Good.

The thing that feels the best, probably, is pushing myself… just a little… and then taking a break to catch up with myself. Stressing myself just enough to feel it, testing my limits, pushing my limits back — and out — and up/down/wherever — so that I know what it feels like to push the envelope. And after I recuperate and rest and rebuild, I usually find I’m stronger than I was before. Maybe just a little, but still, it’s something.

And days and weeks and months of “just a little better” all add up to being a whole lot better, years on down the line.

All of this would not be possible, if I didn’t push myself. If I didn’t test and stress my system just a little bit, and then recover, I would never get farther down the road I’m on. People tell me I have too much stress on myself, but I disagree. The problem is not the stress. Problems start when I don’t manage my stress properly.

I’ve believed this for years — that stress is actually good for you, it’s formative, it’s educational, it’s a key part of growth and positive change. And I’ve been finding some good reading, lately, that really concurs with what I believe. The first blog I’ve found is Getting Stronger, which talks a lot about “hormesis” — or dosing yourself with little bits of stress, so you can become more resilient and capable. I’ve picked up some great tips from that blog, as well as others the author links to. If nothing else, it’s incredibly satisfying to hear the author (and many of the other writers and thinkers he references) repeat out loud what’s in my head — and have the science to back it up.

The science is where I come up short. I just know what works for me, what keeps me on track. Having those references collected in such a comprehensive manner is hugely helpful.

I’ve also come across James E. Loehr’s book Stress for Success, which I’m working my way through right now. He shares the same belief as me, that it’s not the stress that gets you, it’s the way you handle it. And if you’re not up to the task — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually — of handling stress, and if you don’t allow yourself ample time to recover, you’re going to get whacked around a lot, and ultimately lose out on what you’re trying to win.

Again, he’s got the science and the experience as a world-class sports psychologist/trainer, to back him up. Me? I’ve just got my own life experience. But that’s nothing to sneeze at. Looking at how I was just five years ago, versus today — night and day. Total transformation. Not bad, if I say so myself — and thanks to everyone (including a lot of readers here) for helping me make that happen.

The one place where I come up short, time and again, is with recovery. I get so tired, I can’t sleep. I can’t relax. I’m on edge — and part of me loves it. If I’m not in the right “fatigue range”, I am not getting to sleep, no way. The image at the top of the page shows a bit what I’m trying to communicate. Lots of energy with lots of fatigue, means I keep going, no matter what. So, I have to change it up and alter one factor — in my case, the energy/activity piece.

This is all part of appropriately managing TBI — knowing what sets you off, knowing what unhinges you, and then doing something about that. Finding out what works best for you, so you can have the kind of life you want, and then sticking with it. There is so much conflicting information out there — all of it supported by some sort of science or belief or faith, much of it advocated and defended by people who either have an agenda or who mean well but can’t see past their own experience. You have to decide what is best for YOU, what works for YOU, and most importantly what DOESN’T work for YOU.

A great example of this is Tim Ferriss, who I have known about for a number of years now, and whose book “The Four Hour Body” I looked into about a month ago. He’s got a lot of great information, mixed in with a lot of not-so-great information. He’s pretty controversial in certain circles, and I consider much of what he does to be suspect. He calls what he does “hacking” the system, but in a lot of cases, it seems like he’s just cheating and redefining the rules to suit his needs. That being said, I have gotten some incredible tips from him that have literally changed my life for the better, so that alone is good. Reading Tim Ferriss is a lot like having a meal at Golden Corral, the monster smorgasbord buffet type places that is laden with all sorts of foods — some that will enhance your life, some that can kill you at the right amounts. You have to be careful about what you choose to put into your system, and you definitely have to pace yourself. You can get overwhelmed quickly — and develop a nasty case of indigestion — if you don’t use your own judgment and take your time picking and choosing what you’ll put into your system. And you have to take time to digest afterwards.

It’s like that with pretty much my entire life, actually. I have to really take care to not overwhelm myself, because I am prone to fixate on things, get stuck in a groove, and keep going — at top speed — even past the point of there being a point. I feel like I’m making great progress, and I’m really making things happen, but I’m not. Even if I am, if I wear myself out in the process, like I did last week, I pay for it. Big-time. The price tag is high with me. I could NOT afford to lose last weekend, but I did. And now I have to find a better way to get things done.

So, stress itself is not the enemy. It’s the lack of recovery that gets me. I’ve been “overtraining” for years — decades, really. And I haven’t allowed myself ample time to catch up with myself. I’m usually working on something. Always working. Always thinking. Always doing something. And it takes a toll on me, to the point where I don’t even know what I’m doing — or why. It’s clear to me that I need ample recovery time to integrate everything that I take in and learn over the course of my days and weeks and months. My life is pretty much about pushing the envelope, and now that I’ve gotten to a certain point in my life where I’ve pushed about as much as I feel like pushing, it’s time to change gears and invest in serious recovery time, so I can continue to make good progress and not strip my gears.

With that in mind, in another couple of weeks, I’m going to be on vacation — leaving town for a whole week to decompress and unwind. For real. The deadline(s) will be past, the insanity of several projects will be behind me, and I get my life back. To do as I please, to work on what I choose.

Not just yet, though. For the next two weeks, it’s work like a crazy person, and then let it all go.

Now, speaking of getting things done, it’s time for me to get going to work.

Onward.