Today there is not one minute of my day that is not scheduled for a meeting. Non-stop. Eight hours. No fun.
But that’s the deal, today, so that’s that.
Fortunately, I’ll be working from home today, so I can walk around the house while I talk on the phone. I can’t do that at the office… at least, not on the scale I can do it here. I can’t walk around the halls, talking on the phone. I can reserve a conference room and then walk around it, while I’m listening. I could even project the meeting proceedings on the big screen, so I can watch what’s happening as I pace. But it’s not the same as being able to walk around my house.
So, at least there’s that.
And man, do I need that today. Yesterday I was stuck in an all-day workshop where we just sat… and sat… and sat. It started early, so I didn’t have time to exercise in the morning before I went. But it ended earlier than my normal days typically do, so I was able to get to the pool and go for a swim. That was productive. And much needed. So, it’s all good.
I noticed that I was getting really tired towards the end of the day, and I was starting to get cranky and a little confrontational. But I managed to pull up and not blurt whatever came to mind. There was this module we were working through that just seemed like such B.S., and I wanted to say so. But I held my tongue and said nothing. Mission accomplished. I got out of it without wrecking my reputation, which is what I often do at those kinds of things, towards the end of the day when I’m tired. I blurt out crap that makes me look belligerent and confrontational, when I’m just tired.
And then all the work I put into cultivating rapport with others goes out the window. Fly away, little reputation. Fly away.
But yesterday, I held my tongue, and that was good. It was very, very good.
And today… Well, I’m looking at another day of non-stop paying attention to important stuff, and potentially being virtually motionless the whole time. I can’t let that happen. Not two days in a row. I just have to get creative and think outside the box. Find ways to keep myself moving. Heck, maybe I’ll even ride my exercise bike while I’m on a call — except that I get out of breath, and speaking up when I sound like I’m in the middle of an exercise routine is not the most professional thing to do.
So, scrap that. No riding the bike while I’m on a conference call.
I’ll just pace in my living room, walk around the downstairs. Do some movement… knee bends… stretching… anything to keep my body awake. ‘Cause if my body isn’t awake, neither is my brain.
And not-so-great things happen when my brain is foggy and asleep.
But for all the busy-ness, I didn’t move as much as I should have — and normally do. I spent most of the past week sitting. Just sitting. In workshops. Not moving around, not stretching my legs, but sitting and listening and talking.
Just getting up and walking to the cafeteria was painful. It’s the worst of all worlds — being sedentary and having to concentrate really hard. Just doesn’t work with me. I can do it for a day, but three days in a row?
No thank you.
Now, my extremes continue, as I launch into a day full of errand-running and travel and helping my spouse with a fundraiser event. I’m just driving. Not “working” the event. I’ll have time to myself while the event is going on to do some fun things and also catch up with a friend I haven’t talked to in a while.
So, even though it’s busy, it’s all good.
The past week has really brought home, just how important it is for me to move regularly. On vacation, the week before that, I was in motion on a regular basis. Even though I was “off work”, I still had plenty to keep me busy — though in a good way. Buying groceries so I could make us nice brunches and sandwiches for the beach… arranging for special permits, so we could access different parts of the area and have a really great experience… getting out and about to see what was going on in the town… and exploring the beaches and hiking paths.
It was a very active “time off”, and it felt great. I didn’t get much done that was sedentary, like reading or blogging, but that was perfectly fine with me. It was a fair trade.
But now this past week… ugh. I was too busy to get in my regular exercise, I didn’t get enough restful sleep, I had appointments in the evenings that cut into my regular schedule, and I had to start early each day, so I didn’t get as many morning workouts as I needed. And my daily eating was off — I ate too much food, and it was the wrong kind.
Fatigue. Brain fog. Pain. Confusion. Irritability. Far less functionality than I normally have. And the constant nagging feeling that I’m missing something, I’m forgetting something, I should be doing something I haven’t yet thought of.
I’m glad that’s over.
Now I can get back to my regular routine. Get a decent night’s rest, each night, exercise each morning, eat the foods that work for me, move around during the day, stretch regularly, drink plenty of water, and get back to life as I’ve developed it.
There’s a reason I do what I do. And there’s a reason I keep doing it.
I’ve tried the other ways. They seriously just don’t work for me.
I probably shouldn’t be writing this. I should be taking a shower to get the day off me, and I should be going to bed. But I am so wired from today, I need to just write something to unwind.
We had more meetings today – it was a loooong day, and I really lost focus towards the end. Then we all went to dinner together and I just got home a little while ago. I’m wiped out. … Spacey and shaky… but feeling really good about the day. I had a good time with everyone, and we had some good conversations.
I can’t wait to get back to my normal everyday life, but at the same time, it has been really nice to take a break from the grind and do more strategy-like work, networking and connecting with people. True, I’m planning to leave the company in another couple of months, but in the meantime, I figure it can’t hurt to just network a little bit with people from HQ, to get some fresh ideas from colleagues, and get some ideas about what I want to be doing with myself at the end of this year.
It’s funny. In the past, when I’ve left jobs, I’ve had to work up all sorts of indignation and irritation in order to let go of those situations. But now I just feel a very level-headed sort of acceptance, that this is not workable for me, long-term, and I need to get on with my life. I just cannot see doing this long and expensive commute to a building I can’t stand, in a work environment that feeds my already challenging distractability. It just doesn’t make sense, when I have skills that can make me more money, doing work that suits me better.
So, there it is. No hard feelings at all, just plain old logic and clarity. And that’s good.
Because now I can enjoy myself for the next couple of months. I don’t have to get all tweaked when my boss makes an ass out of me and my work in front of other people. I don’t need to get all up in arms when they start preaching about the shortcomings that they have helped to create. I don’t need to even notice the politics and the snarkiness and the hidden agendas. Everybody can just do their thing, and I’ll do mine.
The main thing for me is to rebuild my resume and get it in good shape that will land me the type of job I want to find. Close to home. For more money than I’m making now. With people who actually want to work. And with a better fit, responsibility-wise. I really need to be challenged, and right now the biggest challenge I have is dealing with a boss who seems determined to undermine and micromanage and downplay me. Pppppfff! as Snoopy would say.
Okay, now that that’s out of my head, I can get down to the business of getting to sleep. Gotta get up and do this one more day.
Then I’m done with this meetings business and I can move along… move along… move along…
Okay, that’s done. The meetings are over, the presentations have been presented, the connections have been renewed, and I’m back to my life as I know it. It was good to see people in person, since we do so much work together over email and the phone. It was not so good, being crammed into all those activities with very little time to process it and digest.
Now I have a headache. And I feel sick. I’m not feeling great, and I should probably just take the day off. But I do need to get some things done at the office. Plus, the office is going to be really quiet today, so it won’t be that bad.
I’m just so glad to be back to my regular life. The more I think about it, the more I realize how innately rural I am in nature. The daily ebb and flow of natural cycles, the seasons, the weather, the natural world… all of it keeps me stable and grounded. Spending 4+ days in a conference center was, well, hellish. We didn’t get out much at all. And by the time I left, I felt absolutely deprived and off-balance. Being inside in climate-controlled conditions, without any natural sunlight or fresh air… it felt like an extended indoctrination session, which I suppose it was.
It’s funny – while I was in these meetings, being in the midst of everything, I was not feeling that great about leaving the company in a few months. I was regretting it, actually, by the end of the time. But that was when we were being worn down with the constant go-go-go of the marathon meetings, and then fed and entertained (and some folks liquored-up), which is a great way to inculcate people and establish a pretty stable case of Stockholm Syndrome.
Mind control… hm.
Now that I’m on my own and outside that rarified environment of mental, physical, social bombardment, I’ve taken a break from the corporate psychological warfare. I’m decompressing. And I can’t wait to leave.
I did get some great ideas while I was in those meetings, which was a good thing. And now I need to reflect and integrate. Chill and take care of myself — before the next round of meetings next week. We have more meetings with another division next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am actually looking forward to these more. I have to travel farther to them, but the people I’m meeting with are new – and while I’ve heard a lot about them, I haven’t yet met most of them. Ironically, I’m really looking forward to these meetings, while the ones this past week were just a source of dread for me.
Probably has to do with the size and scope — these meetings will be smaller and more focused on the work I do from day to day. And while the agenda is full, it’s not full of racing around a conference center to get from place to place, making sure I have gathered all my crap and carried it with me (I misplaced my PDA twice, this trip, which I’ve never done before). Plus, I’ll be able to swim after the meetings next week — I couldn’t do that this past week, and I’m definitely feeling the absence. There’s a lake on my way to work, where I can stop and swim on my way in, this morning. Not a long swim – just a quick dip, really.
Man, am I exhausted. I’m just realizing this now. But it’s fine. Because I have an open day ahead of me, and I’m just glad to be getting back to some semblance of routine — including checking in with this blog on a regular basis. Not being able to do this regularly really puts a dent in my daily contentment. I’m back now, though, for the next three days, so I’m feeling much better now.
Thinking about all the trepidation I had about these meetings this past week – a big part of what was worrying me was tied to my physical health. Would I be able to keep up? Would I be able to manage my sensory issues? Would I be able to keep cool, when all the stimuli and the sound and the activity was distracting me beyond belief? All those things happened to me — I was put in a room full of people and we did a “round robin” where we all talked to someone different for 5 minutes, before moving on to the next. The room got progressively louder and louder… it was harder and harder for me to hear. I was really struggling at the end. But I kept cool. I did my deep breathing. I reminded myself that others couldn’t hear and understand as well, either. And the event passed without significant incident.
Same thing with the long sessions I had to sit through. I just got so antsy in that room filled with 100s of people, and I couldn’t follow what the hell was going on. But I chilled. And took intermittent breaks to check my email on my PDA, when there wasn’t something critical on the screen in front of me.
I also paced myself and took breaks when I needed to. I drank a LOT of water — which required regular trips to the rest room. I highly recommend that strategy for anyone who has marathon meetings to go to — drink tons of water, which will keep your brain hydrated, and it will also get you up out of your seat on a regular basis. If I hadn’t drunk all that water, I might very well have sat in place like I was glued there, getting more and more overwhelmed by the experience. I also kept clear of the caffeine and did my usual 2 cups a day — one in the a.m. with breakfast, one later in the afternoon when I was about to fall over.
One of the things that helped, was that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling at times. There were a number of other people who confided in me that they were really struggling, too. The breakneck pace, the constant interaction, the sheer mass of information that was packed into four days… it wore a lot of folks down. So I wasn’t the only one.
There were a couple of things I might have done differently, but in the end, it all turned out okay. I had another extended experience of being able to deal with overwhelming circumstances without losing it. And I came away with a sense of things being, well, okay.
Even if I am leaving the company… even if I am on my way out… it had its productive moments, and I don’t regret going.