Slow and steady might win the race…

I’m the one on the right, who has to work like the one on the left.

… but it drives me bleepin’ crazy.

I want to run ahead at top speed, but I can’t always do that. Sometimes I need to be slow and methodical. Once I get into that groove, I’m okay. It’s getting into that groove that’s the killer.

I’m nearly done with one part of my project, where I am summarizing details that about 18 people have sent me for one phase of this project. One Phase – God, at this rate, if the other four phases are anywhere as complicated as this, I’m toast. What was I thinking, taking on a project management role, as well as doing R&D? Sucker for punishment, that’s what I am.

At the same time, I have to say that I have a perspective and a passion for this project that has been a real driver behind it. Others don’t quite get the significance and the potential of it, so to keep it moving forward, I’m taking on the coordination work.

Right about now, I’m feeling overwhelmed and beside myself. So, it’s time to take a break and remember the magic. I can finish the remaining three summaries later this afternoon, after a nap and some errands I need to run.

The wild thing about this task — which is taking me 3 days, instead of the one afternoon I had expected — is that I’m realizing just how heavily it’s been weighing on my mind. I’ve been so paranoid about it, so afraid of making a mistake and making the wrong decisions, that I’ve put it off and put it off and put it off… till I almost forgot that it needed to be done. That happens, if I put things off long enough. I actually forget to do them.

This, however, cannot be forgotten. It must be done.

And now that I am in the swing of things and am nearing the end — I have taken care of 15 different summaries, and only 3 are left — I am (finally) starting to feel like I know what’s going on. With me, I can start, continue, and complete complex tasks without ever really understanding what it is I’m doing. I do a pretty good job, too, which is weird. I do it without really getting the big picture or having a 360-degree understanding of what I’m doing — and why. And then after I’m done, then it sinks in. I’ve done things this way for as long as I can remember, because my conscious processing speeds just don’t keep up with everything around me. So, if I wait till I understand everything 100%, nothing gets done.

Nothing.

But now, I’m actually getting the gist of what I’m doing before I’m completely done, and it’s good.

The other thing that’s good, is that getting this done is freeing up my head to focus on other things. I’ve been noticing more and more lately how things I put off, that are in the back of my mind, really take a big chunk out of my processing. I only have so much to think with — I’m definitely limited in that respect. So, I can’t afford to let to-do items just languish on my list.

That’s becoming more and more clear each and every day.

So, that being said, I’m going to make myself some lunch and get on with my errands, so I can come back later today with a cleared mind, and finish this seemingly endless job. The end is in sight… and the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train 🙂

Change is good

Well, I’ve got myself a new laptop. This time, I got a Dell. I’m not saying it’s better than the Thinkpads I’ve been using — at home and at work. This is a different experience for me. The keyboard is configured differently, and it’s less deep, so I have to position my hands and rest my wrists differently than I have before. One thing I will say, is that I like the arrow keys a whole lot better on the Dell than on the Thinkpad. They’re bigger. And better positioned. Like they’re meant to be used, which they are. I also like the End and Home keys better where they are. The Thinkpad is full of nice features, but the keyboard of the Dell is already starting to feel better to me.

Just have to get used to the locations of the Ctrl and Alt keys. Now I have one of those Windows keys, so I can access the Start menu from the keyboard, instead of having to mess around with the trackpad or mouse. That’s helpful, as well.

I really had my reservations, when I first got this thing up and running last night. I’m used to a higher, narrower screen, and I’m used to resting my hands differently. I almost sent this back, as a matter of fact, because of the different feel to it. Then I checked in with a friend of mine who does a lot of work with anxiety, and they told me that making changes in your life is a positive step in overcoming anxiety.

So, I decided to sleep on it. And give the thing another chance, before I wrote it off completely.

And I have to say, it’s starting to grow on me. I like the wider screen, especially for writing. And I have twice the amount of disk space that I had on my old laptop, which is nice. That means I can install a lot of software I had to uninstall on my other laptop because I ran out of space and power. This one also has twice the power of my former laptop, which is noticeable almost at once. That’ll probably change once I load up all the software, but in the meantime, I’m starting to enjoy  this change.

Anyway, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to get too enamored of my laptop. I need a life, after all, and I’ve been working so much and typing so much, my wrists are starting to give me trouble again. I’ll need to rest this weekend, I think. I’m pretty much flying solo, since my spouse is out on business travel both Saturday and Sunday, so I’ll have a lot of time to myself.

That’s another change that’s taken some getting used to. My spouse has been spending more and more time out on business, while I’ve had more and more time to myself at home. It’s interesting. They were pretty ill for several years, and prior to that, they had some pretty pronounced anxiety issues that curtailed their activity a whole lot. I just got in the habit of always being there for them, because they couldn’t do anything without me. And they would become so anxious, if I did something that didn’t involve them, that I just didn’t do a lot of things that other people do.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was the Prisoner of Zenda or anything like that. Keep in mind, I also had a ton of issues, myself, that kept me from being super-active in my own right. That fatigue thing, for instance. Not to mention my own anxiety and sensitivities to light and sound and general difficulties dealing with the rest of the world. Even if I hadn’t been married to this individual, I probably would have kept to myself. A lot. In fact, before I ever met them, that’s exactly what I did, and it was a total fluke we met in the first place.

Anyway, the bottom line is, after years of being very closely intertwined and inter-dependent (I won’t say “co-dependent” because I think that’s a handy label some psychology guru came up with to sell books and manufacture diagnoses), we’ve started moving off in different directions, to where we’re traveling separately, having separate schedules, and doing a lot of things that don’t involve each other at all. This is not to say we’re separating. We’re actually more together than we’ve been for many years. We’re both branching out and developing in whole new areas, and bringing what we learn home to share with each other.

Which is good.

Change is good. This past year has been a time of really dramatic change for me, in terms of my personal and professional life. I credit my neuropsych with really helping me through a lot. Just the positive feedback I’ve gotten and the reminders of how far I’ve come have been tremendously helpful. It’s a little tough to stay enthusiastic about your progress, if you keep forgetting how far you’ve come, and they’ve reminded me of that regularly.

It’s wild – I hung out with a friend the other evening, and they were talking about health issues they’ve had to overcome in the past six months. They have been a huge help to me over the past year or so, with all my cognitive things and issues at home. They asked me about my own issues, and — I guess I was really tired — it was hard for me to think back on how things were before, what progress I’ve made, etc. I think maybe that’s good, because I’m not dwelling on every single aspect of my life constantly, like I used to. I’m much more settled in my progress, much more able to stay present and focus on my future, rather than being stuck in my past. If I can’t remember all the details of how things were before, so what? If I can’t form a clear comparison between how things were, once upon a time, and how they are now developing, big deal! I’m moving forward, and I can’t get bogged down in the past, like I used to. Just gotta keep moving on.

Moving on… and managing. I have a full life that is pretty active, considering how limited my social life is. I’m doing good work, I’m picking up some extra work on the side, which is different from my 9-5 job and offers me the chance to branch out and refine more skills — and make more money. In fact, it’s giving me the chance to be more of a consultant, which is where I eventually see myself going (rather than being a cubicle-bound working stiff). It’s also forcing me to work on my time and energy management skills and participate in life and contribute in broader ways. And it’s putting me in touch with people who are really good to know in my industry. It’s all good.

At the same time, I’m seeing how I really do need to aggressively manage my time and resources — consciously pick and choose what I will and will not do, so I can have the most effectiveness in my life. This is a far cry from my laissez-faire approach of going with the flow and just drifting from one distraction to another (which is what a lot of my projects have been in the past — a series of challenging and entertaining distractions). It’s a change. And this change is good, too.

Well, it’s getting a little late, so I’d better get a move on into my day. I have only one scheduled meeting today, which means I can catch up on all the things I was supposed to do this week, but didn’t get a chance to do. It’s been a real struggle, to keep up with all my work in the space of 40 hours a week, but I’ve got to do it. Not only is it draining, to have to bring my work home with me over the weekend, but it also leaves no time for other things — like the other work I have which is expanding me more than ever.

Ultimately, it’s all good. I just have to make sure I get enough good rest. And remember to enjoy myself.

Much better now

Is it my imagination, or is the NFL cleaning up its act? I watched Super Bowl XLV (or 45 for those of us using the regular numbering system) last night, keeping an eye out for the kinds of hits that have made headlines lately — and resulted in players being sidelined. I also sorta kinda kept an eye on Aaron Rodgers, whose concussions during the season caused lots of people to question whether or not he’d play.

When all was said and done, the Packers had won handily over the Steelers, and Rodgers was named MVP… which is great news if you’re looking for evidence that concussion isn’t an immediate disqualifier for the rest of the season. Or that having one or more concussions in a season makes you more susceptible to further brain trauma.

A lot of people have a lot of different perspectives. Dr. Mitchel Berger, a member the National Football League’s Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee and chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, said of Rodgers after a season of multiple concussions:

“I think his risk is not that significant or greater than if he hadn’t had any this season,” Berger said. “Having had an event a month or six weeks ago, he’s essentially back to baseline, otherwise he wouldn’t have been cleared to play. Once we clear a player to go back, based on the guidelines, that player is clear to go and really doesn’t have any increased risk.”  (Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/02/04/concussions-affect-aaron-rodgers-super-bowl-performance/#ixzz1DH4yugP8)

Some would disagree, of course, including those who think that anyone with a concussion needs to sit out an extended period of time. Dr. Bennett Omalu is such a person. He’s got a very different take on how to handle concussions among football players.

Dr. Bennet I. Omalu, the pioneering sport-forensic pathologist who first linked brain damage to tackle football nine years ago, warns that players are dangerously mishandled still—despite official claims this season of “safer” play through rule changes and “concussion management” for the injured.

. . .

Omalu maintains that every concussed football player needs isolation from physical and mental stimulation followed by lengthy rest, further shielding—as he testified one year ago for the House Judiciary Committee. “Two weeks is insufficient time for the recovery of (cerebral) membrane and micro-skeletal injuries caused by concussions. The absence of symptoms does not mean that the brain has healed,” Omalu, chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif., told congressional members on Feb. 1, 2010.

Two experts, two completely different opinions. Who’s right? Who can tell? But Aaron Rodgers looked much better last night, than he did after he got clocked back in December.

I suppose time will tell, over the long run, if the concussions have impacted Rodgers. For now, though, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is back in Green Bay, and Rodgers is MVP. A multiply concussed MVP, which probably feels like very good news to the NFL. See? Even players who get their bell rung a bunch of times in the season can still outperform the crowd.

Hm.

Well, anyway, I kind of got sidetracked with this whole Super Bowl business. The “much better” topic I wanted to discuss was how much better — and I mean noticeably better — I’ve been in the past few months. I’ve been taking on some pretty significant challenges at work as well as at home, and I’ve been branching out into new areas of my life, meeting new people, doing new things. And enjoying myself. During halftime last night, I was on the phone with a friend who’s going into the hospital for surgery today, and they remarked at how much better I’ve been doing. Noticeably. I told them it was kind of hard for me to remember how things were before, but they echoed my sense that going back and dredging up past evidence of impairment was not the best use of time.

“Just enjoy it,” they told me. “You’ve earned it.”

And earned it, I have.  It’s kind of amazing to me, but I really have made good progress. I’m clearer now, I’m more confident, more focused, more settled. I’m also a lot more stable. The emotions have either chilled out a good deal, or I’ve figured out how to manage my responses to them. I still have my moments, of course, but all in all, I’ve really managed to get my act together in some fundamental ways. There are still times when I don’t recognize myself or people around me — there are times when people who obviously know me come up to me and start talking, and I have no idea who they are. But I hang in there and interact with them as though I know them, and in a few minutes, I figure out who they are. So long as I don’t let things throw me, and I just hang in there, I can make progress — good progress.

Well, speaking of progress, it’s time to get on with my day.

This is better. Much, much better.

 

Towards human greatness, one step at a time

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks, and my spouse says I look tired. Indeed. I am tired. And I have an early appointment tomorrow morning.

I have been having a lot of trouble getting up in the morning — this is a change, from when I used to have trouble staying asleep past 5:30 a.m.

Well, things change.

And so do we.

My job is going pretty well. It’s up and down, and it’s a LOT of work, but it’s going.

Ca va?

Oui. Ca va.

I have been thinking a great deal about what becomes of us in this life. Character. Strength. Discipline. I have been much too busy to take time to write it all down, but I hope to do some of that this weekend.

Before I sign off for the night, let me ask — How are you moving towards greatness in your life? What steps are you taking to create a truly great life? Not just a scraping-by life, not just a barely-made-it life, but a truly amazing, wonderful, remarkable life?

“But I’m not doing that!” you say? Baloney. Each and every one of us has seeds of greatness within us. We cannot help but seek out that which makes us better. Plenty of people will argue with me on this point, but I don’t believe them.

How are YOU pursuing your own greatness?

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