Taking a break, breaking it up

All the colors are brighter, these days

This has been a heck of a fall. And winter is on the way. But now with my new job, I can take a bit of the logistical pressure off, and I can focus on projects that I haven’t been able to make good progress with.

I’ve really chafed under the “stranglehold” my commute had on my life, for what feels like so many years. That, and the frantic-ness that came with handling all the stressors from my attention problems, sensitivities, etc.

It’s amazing what extra sleep and a shorter commute will do for you. Simply amazing.

It’s giving me time to think… and dream… and plan… and take action.

Imagine that. After all those years of really battling to keep my dreams alive, it turns out that the missing piece was really reclaiming the time and energy that got sucked into my commute.

It’s tough to dream and plan and follow through, when you’re exhausted all the time. It can be done, but it’s better with rest.

So, this is good. I’m taking a break from some of the crazy appointments I’ve had to drive to, after work, and I’m taking time to read and write and just chill out — no pressure — make a nice supper … do some yard work … lift weights in the morning before getting into the day … rekindle my interest in different meditative practices that fell by the wayside.


In a way, it’s like I’m on a sort of vacation. Being able to get the sleep I need, and not be stressed out about when I get to work… being able to take time to run errands during my lunch hour… and knowing that I can get where I need to go in 15 minutes or less… it’s absolutely priceless. And it frees me up to break up my routine and “paint outside the lines” of my life. I can try new things, read new books, chill… and also spring into action whenever something interesting comes up.

It’s better than a vacation in some ways, though, because it’s structured and it’s social. It gives me the chance to be around people for a set time each day, to orient myself outside my own head, and have meaningful interchanges with others. Left to my own designs, I tend to pull back and keep others at a distance. At work, that’s not possible. I have to talk to people, and they have to talk to me, so it’s good for us all.

Of course, I’m not opposed to a real vacation — and that will be coming during the week between Christmas and New Years, when things quiet down, and my spouse and I stay home instead of driving all over creation to see family, many states away.

This is good. It’s shaping up nicely. The colors are brighter, the day is looking better with each passing week.

And now, off to work I go.


A good sign

Starting the day off right

I started off this weekend, last night, planning how many things I would do today. The parts of my projects I would undertake and finally complete — so I can move on to other things… the tasks from work that I didn’t get around to — so I can get them off my mind… breaking down the hours I’d spend in my head, so I would free up some time to do other things.

Now it’s Saturday morning, and all I want to do is go about my life in a continuous flow, not blocking off time to do anything specific, not allocating hours for one definite undertaking or another. I just want to flow. See where the day, the weekend, takes me.

It’s raining today. Gray and a little dreary. It’s chilly, too. Not the best weather for running errands, as everyone will be out and about in their fast and powerful cars (think about how much more powerful and speedy our cars are, compared to just 20 years ago), running their errands, on a mission, taking care of business, after the business work week has ended.

That’s not where I want to spend my time. Not in the least. I want to steer clear of that whole big, busy mess, and just have some peace. Just have some peace and quiet.

That’s what I want most. My spouse has been on a rampage for the past month, getting ready for this business trip. It’s been very trying, to tell the truth. Every spare moment has been caught up in them spinning their mental wheels about things that don’t actually exist. And dealing with business associates who are even more delusional than they are. What a strange thing, to see people who are so capable of living well, getting caught up in lives that don’t actually exist.


Other sad things — a friend of a friend died suddenly last weekend. Another friend of a friend passed away from cancer that went undiagnosed for two years. A friend of a friend was raped. And a good friend of mine is struggling with health issues. Actually, a number of friends are dealing with health issues — among them, mental health. And that’s a particularly tough one, because it’s hard to know how to help.

But to get too caught up in that sadness, is a trap I can’t afford to dwell in. It’s been like a martial arts exercise, day in and day out, dealing with the depression and dementia and delusions and the plain old craziness that goes along with one human error leading to another… to another… to another… each one snowballing into a rolling batch of crazy.

Lord, yes, I do just need to take a break this weekend. I need a break from everybody else’s stuff that has nothing to do with me, really. I need to not get bogged down in the sadness that others feel… not stay caught up in others’ drama, rehashing it in my own head… not staying stuck in the whirlpool of others’ imaginary crises, spending a lot of time thinking about it. In my own life, there is no such thing, and if I weren’t living with someone who brought that to me each day, like a weird-ass soap opera, I wouldn’t even know it existed.

So, this weekend, I’m going to live as though it never did exist. Because it didn’t, outside of the imaginations of everyone involved.

I’m going to read the published personal notebooks of famous writers. I’m going to catch up on some of my own reading. I’m going to work on some of my own writing. And I’m going to live my life… let it just go, without trying to control it or slow it down or stop it. Just let it flow.

And leave it at that.

If I’m tired, I’ll lie down and sleep. If I’m thirsty, I’ll drink water or hot tea. If I’m hungry, I’ll … stop and ask myself if I’m really hungry, or if I’m just low on energy (in which case, I need to sleep), or I’m just bored (in which case, I need to do something that piques my interest). I may do some cleaning. I may clear out my bedroom and get rid of the dust bunnies. I may run out and get an air filter for my bedroom, which has a bizarre amount of dust in it. The main thing is that I’m moving at my own pace, without the intrusion of others’ delusions.

I’ve got enough delusions of my own to deal with, thank you very much.

So, it’s good.

And so am I.


Not giving in

Ha – just try me πŸ˜‰

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about my processing speed. I’ve been feeling dull and stupid — probably because of my new job that has me sitting on the sidelines and training, before I dive in — and I’m not putting 2 and 2 together quite as well as I’d like.

At least, not yet.

I know I’ve only been on the job three weeks, but I feel like I should be more coherent. I’m having a lot of trouble expressing myself, and I have to really think about what I’m going to say before I say it. I’ve been looking around online to find sites that can teach me how to organize my thoughts. This is getting on my nerves, and I’m starting to get a complex about it. I want to be in the flow, getting live experience… but they have me sidelined, just watching, as though that’s going to help anything.

I know I’m not the only one who’s feeling this. The other two folks who joined when I did are also feeling sidelined and underutilized. We all want to get going and make things happen, and we don’t have that opportunity just yet. We have to learn by doing, but everyone is so afraid of making a mistake, we can’t move forward.


My processing speed, as I mentioned, is really troubling me. I know I have a lot of new information I need to integrate and learn to use. So, I need to cut myself a break, relax and recuperate, and give myself time to breathe and settle in. I’m doing that this weekend, occupying my attention with things other than work, relaxing, taking it easy, getting some exercise (which really helps), and checking in with myself about what matters most to me in my life.

I just need to trust the whole process and know that in time I will learn, things will make sense to me, and I’ll have sufficient experience to draw on to make the right decisions about the right things. I need to keep my spirits up, not let on how dejected I get, and keep positive, no matter what. The people around me at work are typical Americans — they need me to be positive and up-beat and can-do, use all the catch-phrases and industry jargon. There’s no room for realism and acknowledging human limits as just part of everyday life. That’s just depressing! And it’s not how Americans are supposed to believe and behave!Β  At least, not the overachieving top performers that they all aspire to be.

One of the things that makes this job more challenging than need be, is that everyone there is convinced that their company is special and unique and totally unlike anything else on the planet. Silly. They remind me of plenty of other companies I’ve worked for — and they start to squirm when I say so.

I suppose having that sense that they’re unlike any other company helps with fostering a sense of community and “tribe”. Us against them. All that. The thing is, they’re not really that essentially different from other companies. They have their way of doing things, which is just a learned thing. And they have their specific “pain points” that they need to deal with. They design and produce technology. They’re very successful at it, but really, they’re in the same business as countless other technology companies, and they can simply get over themselves, as far as I’m concerned.

Well, fortunately I’ve got two more days before I go back to work AND I only have to work 8 hours a day, this coming week, instead of 10-11. So there. I’m expecting to work longer hours a couple more times in the next month, but then again, maybe I don’t need to work ALL those extra hours. Doing the 10-hr thing gets old. I did it before – for years – and it’s a relief to not have to do it.

Plus, what a huge deal, to get to have an hour or two in the morning to work on my own projects, before going into the office. And getting home at a decent hour… Truly awesome.

So, maybe I put in an extra hour or two, when I have to take time off. Maybe I don’t. Either way, I need to just do what I need to do, to keep my system balanced out. Just relax. And not give in to the anxiety and neurosis. Just let myself be. And be done with it.

I was getting a little peeved at a coworker who’s supposed to be training me. Rather than training me, they’re avoiding me, and they have not been inclusive at all. It’s a little annoying. They think they’re just supposed to be my “buddy” and answer questions when I have them. But our boss says I’m supposed to shadow them. I’m not keen on making a nuisance of myself, but I do need to get trained, and I do need to shadow them. They’re not inviting me to the meetings they should be. They’re actually cutting me out. So, I need our boss to clarify and make sure everyone is clear about what needs to happen.

It’s almost like they just want me to go away, which doesn’t make any sense, because they’re overworked and they need the help. I’m not going to be any use, if they don’t make the effort to train me.

But I can’t give in to paranoia. They don’t even know me yet, and a lot of people don’t think much of me when they meet me the first time. They just don’t realize what I can do, what I’m capable of achieving — and how it benefits them. I’ve got to give it time. Most people I work closely with develop issues with me until they get to know me, so I’ll just need to keep steady and let them sort out their own personal problems.

They’re not my problems.

So, that being said, I’ve had enough of thinking about that person and the situation. The weather is clearing, and I’m going to the beach later today. I’ve got some excellent reading and writing slated for this morning — I’ve gotten some great ideas from a book I’m reading… and I’m writing something to go along with it, to help me understand my own viewpoint on the subject.

It’s all in the spirit of kick-starting my brain and getting myself back into the groove of critical thinking and organizing my thoughts more clearly. Much of what I’m writing these days — aside from this blog — is personal and private and I’m not sharing much of it with anyone. I do share some of it with my spouse, and if they understand it then I know I’m on the right track, because they don’t get caught up in all the mental gymnastics that go along with intellectualizing and what-not.

So, it’s all good. I’m getting good rest and taking care of myself and easing off on the anxiety about my performance at work. For the first time in probably ever, I feel like I’m really at the right place in my life at this time — and I’m right where I always dreamed I would be, at this point in my life.

I just realized that the other day — I’m actually right where I wanted to find myself, on down the line. I’m at a place that I envisioned for myself, when I was a kid mixing up home-grown chemistry experiments in my basement, and recording the results in a composition book (note to self: I really need to find that old chemistry experiment notebook – it’s in storage somewhere). I’ve got a study of my own, with books I love and can turn to. I have a desk with a great view of my back yard, and I have the time in the day and week to really dig in and tease out the things that fascinate me. I have room to move and explore, and I’m not tied down by any licensing body or regulatory commission that’s going to stop me from pushing the limits of my understanding.

It’s all good. I was lost for a long time, dealing with life and all the challenges that came with health issues, money issues, family issues, relationship dramas, and so forth. I’ve been through a ton of sh*t that a lot of people never encounter till later. And while I might not have it all figured out, I have sufficient experience to know how to begin approaching the Big Problems of my life.

It’s all good. It truly is.

Now, onward….

The most magic 30 minutes of my day

Yeah, that’s the ticket…

Yesterday I had a nap. I stepped away from my desk for about half an hour to recharge my batteries. I walked 5 minutes to my car, which was in underground parking quite a ways from my office, put the seat back, put the headphones on, made myself comfortable, and I did my progressive relaxation.

I even got about 15 minutes of sleep in the process.

And when I woke up (which was 2 minutes before the alarm I’d set), I felt amazing. Refreshed. Alive. Human.

Then I collected myself, walked the 5 minutes back to my office, and I got on with the rest of my day.

I have heard it said that naps can disrupt your sleeping pattern, and it’s better to keep yourself awake and go to bed early. They obviously do not push themselves to perform at the level I do, from the moment I wake up in the morning. From the moment my feet hit the floor, I’m in GO mode. I have to be, because getting myself up in the morning is a monumental task that takes everything I have, some days.

Anybody who thinks I can make it through my day on a night’s worth of sleep has obviously never experienced the kind of exhaustion point I get to, around 2:00 p.m. each and every day. It is pretty brutal. By the time the afternoon rolls around, I’ve been going full-tilt-boogie for 6-8 hours. I can continue push through, sure, but I am good for nothing, the rest of the afternoon. Seriously, good for nothing. Even the things that I love doing — and that I push myself to do — turn out to be a waste of time.

Wheels spin. But they get no traction.

But if I can sleep… that is another story.

Knowing that I can sleep later on, and that I’ll be able to recharge my batteries, also makes it possible for me to push harder at the beginning of the day. When I think I’m going to have to pace myself… that my energy stores from a night’s sleep are going to have to last me all day, I hold myself back in the mornings. I’ve just now realized this, actually. When I wake up tired

Today is a completely new day — or so I keep telling myself. I’m a little tired this morning, to be honest. It’s been a long week, and I’m tired already at 7:00 a.m. I will pick up speed later today, when I am working. I’m not going into the office, so I have more time to focus on working, and less to spend driving. I also have more time to spend thinking about my own projects and making some good progress on them — without the pressure of daily performance of way too much work in way too little time.

So, there is hope for me today. I don’t have to be subjected to the upset and uncertainties of all the people around me (I came back from my nap yesterday to find my teammates huddled in a corner bitching and complaining about working conditions.) I can set my own pace and do my own work, without others interfering with their emotional incontinence.

It’s a relief not to be at the office, because the environment there is pretty depressing. It’s just a constant pressure cooker of uncertainty and chaos. When I say “chaos”, I mean there is a total lack of recognizable patterns to anything that happens. That is to say, there is no regular cadence, no regular pace, not much that’s predictable at all, from a day-to-day standpoint. It’s constant interruption and constant uncertainty. It’s not like I need any guarantees in life. But it would be nice to be able to not have everyone around me intent on interrupting my train of thought to ask me questions they can answer themselves.

It’s almost as though they are just stopping by to feel a little relief from their uncertainty.

As a matter of fact, I think that’s exactly what they’re doing — just stopping by to get a little boost to their self-confidence and sense of belonging. Because that’s what I bring to the table — respect for others, the ability to calm people down when they are all worked up, and a certain sense of calm in the center of the storm.

On the bright side, it’s great that I’m able to do this for people. On the downside, it doesn’t help me get my work done… and it’s actually keeping me from making progress in my own workload. Other people not being able to manage their own internal state, is probably the biggest hurdle to my own productivity. It’s not that their frame of mind is upsetting me. They are literally keeping me from doing my work, because they keep running to me and interrupting me and hijacking my workflow, to answer questions they never should have had to ask.


Anyway, in another 13 weeks, this is going to cease to be my problem. Oh, hell — if I can get things wrapped up before then, I’ll be free to go even earlier. I don’t have to be locked into a specific timeframe. I have had this July deadline in my mind, because that’s when I’m scheduled to be done with my big-ass project. But I might get things done even before that.

So, there’s some leeway there. And I’ve just thought of a way I can speed things up — some of the stuff I’m depending on others to do for me, I can do myself. They’re not experienced (or actually smart) enough to figure it out. Plus, they friggin’ hate my guts for reasons that are all about their crappy self-regulation, their incompetence, their jealousy, their brown-nosed politicking (which cannot stand the glare of objective scrutiny), and their sad work ethic (or lack thereof — I actually expect them to do their jobs, ogre that I am)… as well as shoddy management which just lets them get away with anything they damn’ well please.

So, the inmates are running the asylum. In a very big way.

And I have less than no confidence in them.

But the happy and sane part is, it doesn’t matter. They can be all pissy and pitch their hissy fits from their corner of the corporate cosmos. I can just work around everyone, and actually get sh*t done. I don’t have to be dependent on them to get their acts together, in order to move forward. And on top of that, I can be sharpening some excellent skills of my own in the meantime.

This task is a huge opportunity, but those idiots are not seeing it. I can see it plain as day, and I can hear the trumpets from heaven loud and clear. Their ineptitude is opening a door for me to step through, and that makes me incredibly happy, now that I think about it. For that matter, I can spend my weekend working on this, and actually get it all done in time for Monday — AND have it be an excellent investment in my future.

So, that’s good. And it’s giving me a big boost. It’s not all a waste of my time. It’s not all an exercise in futility. Far from it. It’s actually a positive thing, and turning it around in my mind to see the opportunity and the door opening a little more to my fantastic future is the first step in the right direction.

As long as my head is clear about this, and I’m rested and energized and keeping my batteries charged, it’s all good.

Later today I will have my nap. My magical 30 minutes to recharge my batteries. But for now, it’s…



Doing it for myself

Just trying to enjoy the ride…

It’s been a roller-coaster at work, lately. I’m in that weird in-between place where I’m smack-dab in the midst of some very exciting times… and at the same time, I’m lining up all my ducks in a row to get the hell out.

Things have been very “eventful” at work. People are going to great lengths to be difficult, and scuttle each other’s projects. There’s all kinds of maneuvering, and part of the problem is that my interim boss is a people-pleaser and also is an operator and manipulative little shit person who creates drama so they can “solve” it later. What an ever-lovin’ waste of precious life force. I mean, it’s just ridiculous, and everything they do and say just throws more gasoline on the fire of an already difficult situation.

Divide and conquer. Well, at least I see what they’re about. And I see how ambitious and self-serving they are… how willing they are to just push others out of the way for their own gain. I used to consider this person a friend, but no more.

I am glad I found out now, instead of investing yet more time and energy in that relationship. Looking at the connection I thought I had with them, I see yet another one-sided “friendship” that serves them more than it serves me. This person has a habit of screwing other people and stepping on them to get where they’re going. They also think that “doing you need to do” to get ahead is the way to go. Fine, you can do that. But when you’re later in life — and completely alone — how much good is that going to do you? People can tell who has a good heart, and who doesn’t, and if you keep up that kind of behavior, you will eventually train your heart to not beat with a good sound.

And people will avoid you like the plague. Which is about the last thing you need when you are alone and old and vulnerable.

Do I want that kind of person in my life? Nope. Not now, not ever.

I think that everyone at work realizes I’m getting ready to go. They just don’t know when that’s going to be. I’ve really disengaged with a lot of the drama — although I’d do that anyway, even if I were staying — and I’m doing my best to keep a pretty even keel about things.

As much as I can, anyway.

The past week has been extremely demanding on my time and my energy. In fact, the past months have really put some miles on me. I took a good look at myself in the mirror last night, after I got home from work, and I looked like hell — haggard, pale, dark circles under my eyes… an ashen, drawn look that could have fit right in, superimposed on an Industrial Revolution background, or in a WWI foxhole.

And it kind of pissed me off. Because all of this was for what? What was the friggin’ point? I’m leaving this job, I’m getting the hell out, and I’ve only got four more months here, anyway. Why wreck myself over this?

The thing I have to remember, through all of this, is that I’m not wrecking myself for “this” — meaning a job for someone who owns the most productive hours of my day. I’m working for myself. For my future. For my peace of mind. For the experience of doing a good and thorough job with my energy, each and every day. I have to stay engaged in my current job, because that’s the only way I know how to live. I can’t just shine everything on and skate to the end. It’s pointless to do that. No matter how long I have in a position, I need to be involved in it. I need to be involved in my own life.

It’s for me, not for “them”, that I’m doing this. And if I let the alienation and disengagement get to me, then I am cheating myself of the kind of experience I want in my life. It doesn’t do them much good, but it does me even less.

I also need to remember that no matter how taxing things are right now, tomorrow may be a very different experience than today. I need to not get completely derailed by upsets that happen at one particular moment. I can’t let temporary setbacks balloon into permanent situations. I really have to work at that. My head gets locked on what’s happening NOW, and I can’t seem to get free of the idea that whatever sucks at this particular moment is going to suck forever. I need to work on that.

At least I’m aware — which is a good place to start.

So, yeah. It’s a new day. Saturday, to be exact. And I’m actually feeling pretty good about things, my work life notwithstanding. When I think about it, pretty much everything is temporary, anyway. I need to remember that. Things pass. Events come and go. Situations rise and fall. And it doesn’t make much sense to get all worked up over it, when everything is passing, anyway.

It’s kind of a relief.

The one continuous aspect of all of this, is me. It’s my experience. It’s my peace of mind (such that it is). No matter what happens with jobs and work and what-not, as long as I’m around, I still have myself. And that’s the thing that matters.

So, today, I’m off to a good start. I have a full day ahead of me, with running errands, picking up friends at the bus station, shuttling some people around, doing some grocery shopping, and taking care of some important stuff that has to get done. Some of the things I need to do are time-sensitive. Some of them are due in a week. Others are overdue. It’s been a hell of a week — exhausting and depleting and demoralizing. But it’s my own damn’ fault if I let it get the best of me. And it’s my own damn’ fault if I let things get out of hand.

So, I’ve got to get things back in order and clean up my act. I need to rest, most of all. That’s the one missing thing in all of this — good rest and serious sleep. I need to beef up on my energy reserves, so I can live better with myself. Doing that becomes that much easier, when I’m doing the right things for the right reasons — taking care of myself for myself, just for today.


A couple of Advil and a night off

Yes. This.

Tonight I’m “off” — no chores to do, no tasks, no phone calls for work, no stuff to take care of. I’ve had a pretty good day getting a few things done at work, and after the past weekend, I’m wiped. I need a night off.

At least once a week.

Weekends are funny — they’re either hit or miss for me. Either really busy, or just an extended lazing-around session, with me not doing much at all.

This past weekend was a busy one. And I’m tired after not getting any real rest. But I did get some things done that I’d been hoping to — which is great.

Now I’m sore as anything, though. Back and legs and arms and shoulders. I worked like a mad person for hours. Like I was possessed. And maybe I was. Now I’m feeling the effects, and I am more than ready for a good night’s sleep.

I’m also ready for a long time off — Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and the holiday travel is not happening this year. It’s a year to stay close to home with friends, and just kick back and relax, rather than driving 18 hours in each direction and spending four of six days in the car.

So, there it is. I’ve also got a handful of loose ends I need to tie up — paperwork I’ve been meaning to do, that I just haven’t gotten to yet. I need some uninterrupted time to focus in on the details, and it will feel great to have it all done, once and for all.

I’m sure I’ll think of other things that need to be taken care of, but for now… it’s a couple of Advil to stave off the pain, and a night of relaxing to just let myself chill.


And then sleep.


Just keep working – the solutions will come

I’ve been getting a big bogged down, lately. Money is a huge issue. After some unanticipated expenses and finding out that a big monthly debt payment I was supposed to have paid off in December is not going to go away for another year, things are extremely tight. And I can’t figure out how it’s all going to come together.

I’m sure it will. I just don’t know how that’s going to happen. Holy smokes. Things are very tight. I’m going to have to rob Peter to pay Paul, and Peter isn’t going to be happy about it. Guess I’ll be getting a friendly call from my bank around Thanksgiving time.

I did figure out a couple of ways to cut expenses, but I still have to pay for food and gas, and I have an upcoming trip to see family at Thanksgiving, so that’s extra funds I’m going to need.

My spouse does have some more money coming in… and I’ve figured out some ways to shift money around, but it’s going to be tight. Very tight indeed.

Well, I’ve been in these tough straits before, and I’ve made it through. Things are just going to be rough for the time being, until I can get my taxes filed and get that refund. I’m counting on that coming in and making a dent in what I owe to people. I might even be able to zero out that outstanding debt. The creditor has told me they will settle for 75% of what I owe them, but I don’t have $3000 lying around right now, so I can’t do it. In February, that will be a different story, I am sure. We shall see.

So, I’m collecting all my bank statements and financial records and organizing them for tax time. And I’m going to file as early as I possibly can. I need to adjust my W4 withholding rate, because I think I am not taking enough deductions. I have not been claiming my spouse as a dependent, which is totally untrue. I am supporting them through it all. Also, I have been looking up tax details, and I believe I may be able to re-file my taxes from the past several years to claim more of a refund than I originally received. I’ve got my tax software and returns from all those prior years, so I think I can explore that option as well.

The main thing is, I need to keep going. Keep moving. Not give in to the fear, not get intimidated by the problems around me. Just keep moving and not get frozen. I have options available to me, and I just need to follow up on all of them, as soon as I possibly can.

I learned my lesson last year, when I tried to refile some taxes that I’d paid years ago, but didn’t get my proper refund. I delayed following through on that, and I actually lost about $700 in possible refunds. I overpaid, and it stung. I had thought I had time to refile, but the statute of limitations ran out, and then I was SOL. And that was bad, because I had been planning on having that $700 available. Then it didn’t work out. And I was screwed. So, there you have it.

It was a painful lesson, but you can bet your lucky stars I’m not going to make that same mistake twice.

So, it’s back to the drawing board with this stuff. I’ve got options, and I’m going to follow each to its logical conclusion. And I’m going to learn a lot in the process. I’m a survivor, that’s for sure, and I’m highly motivated. I’ve come through worse things, and I’m not giving in to fear and desperation. It will all work out. It most surely will.

I just have to keep moving, keep thinking, and stay steady and strong.


Wake up call #392

Time to sit up and pay attention

Okay, it’s been a few months since I really applied myself to one of my big projects, and now that I’m back in the swing of things, I can really tell I’ve been away. I had to produce a little side-project, this past week, and it turned out to be a lot harder than I remembered it being, a few months back. That’s basically because I stepped away from that activity for a while — and anytime you’re away from something that you do, even daily, you get rusty.

And rusty I was. It was a pretty humbling experience, and I was definitely feeling the burn 48 hours ago, because it turned out to be a challenge I hadn’t counted on being that hard — and I almost didn’t get it done in time.

That’ll teach me to wander off and distract myself with other side projects, while I’m getting the Big Project up to speed.

You know, it’s funny. I made really rapid progress with my Big Project for about 10 months running, then everything ground to a halt. I made great strides, and everything was looking awesome. I mean, I was booking. Seriously. People I talked to were amazed at how much progress I was making. I was focused, I had a vision, and I had the drive to make it all happen.

Then I hit a few big bumps in the road, things got crazy at work, and everything with my Big Project stalled. Just stalled. Like I threw a rod or something. The work, the thinking, the progress, the innovation… everything… suddenly, where there was once focus and drive and determination, there was nothing – zip, zilch, nada.Β 

And I went into a kind of hibernation — a sort of depression — not feeling up to much of anything, and just wanting to hide from the new world I was moving into, and resuming residence in the old world where I lived for so many years… a world of books and reading and writing and words and thoughts and plans and very abstract, non-solid kinds of thinking. Fluid… general… pie-in-the-sky, without much actual work going along with it. Just thinking in the abstract, high-level. I went back to my books, back to my studies, back to writing pretty much non-stop about new ideas I had.

Comfort zone. Sweet spot. And it felt great to be away from all the new-to-me activity I’d been caught up in. It felt great to take a break from that new sort of busy-ness, the anxiety of figuring things out from scratch, and get back to the old familiar. Ironically, it wasn’t a slowing down of my pace — if anything, it speeded things up. But it was a different kind of speed, which was familiar to me and gave me some relief from the stress of newness and uncertainty.

I actually did do a lot of really good work at that time, but it had nothing concrete to do with the Big Project I started, about a year ago. I need to follow through on some important steps, to bring it to its logical conclusion, but there was nothing — and I mean nothing — happening.

So, anyway, after 2 months away, I got a new client who wanted me to do some work for them related to my Big Project, and I said, “Sure – I can do that.” I had a hard and fast deadline to meet, and I had every confidence I could easily do it.

But — surprise — it took me about three times as long as it used to take me, when I was still in practice. I thought it would take me a day, at the most, and it took me three days of regular work, some of it really frustrating because things were not fitting like I expected them to.

And in the end, some of the results were not ideal. I also found some holes in the process I was following, and I needed to scramble a bit to get them all in order.Β  I can check in with my client later, to see how my product is working out for them, and I can certainly make needed adjustments, no problem. But it was a wake-up call for me, to see how much I was struggling with things that I was expecting to be very easy.

Without getting into a lot of fine detail, basically, I need to follow specific steps to deliver my new “product” — and if I do the steps out of order, it screws everything up. I have a number of different pieces that need to fit together, and I was having a hell of a time seeing how they all fit, and figuring out where to start.

It was the weirdest thing – I could see it all in my mind, at a high level, and I knew this was all very straightforward and I’d figured things out. But when it came to actually doing it, things just didn’t “gel” the way I expected them to. And I got so overwhelmed with the jumble of details and steps, I hesitated and held back on moving forward as quickly as I could have, and I lost a lot of valuable time in delays, as well as confusion.

So, the one day turnaround that was logically realistic, turned into three days of recalculating and reconfiguring and hassling over details I thought I had worked out.

The thing is, I had worked out those details. I know how to do this stuff. I’ve done it tons of times in the past, with great success. I was just out of practice after two months of not much thinking about it and even less doing it… and I underestimated the degree to which that time off affected my performance.

Well, now I’m back. And I’m practicing anew each day. After working hard for the past few days, I’ve got my motivation back, and I’m moving forward. I have my ducks in a row better than in a long time, and I’ve made some important decisions about how to move forward, that will help me in later times.

I’m also back into getting as much practice as possible, doing and doing and doing some more — at a steady pace, instead of fits and starts — so I won’t get into the situation I was last week. This has been an important wake-up call for me, and yes, now I’m fully awake and alert and back “on point”.

I’ve got my notebook with the steps I need to take each day, and I am taking them, systematically and regularly. And it feels great to see how much I’m able to do each day. I’m getting more organized every day, and I’ve got a clear path ahead of me.

So, it’s good. I’ve taken my lumps — which fortunately were only my lumps, not someone else’s — and I’ve learned my lesson(s) so I can keep going, regardless of bumps in the road.

Yes. Onward.


Taking the day to myself

What a great way to wake up

I’m flying solo again for a few days. My spouse is out of town on a business trip, and I’m taking today off to catch up with myself. No office work, no busy work, just the things that I need to do for myself and where I’m going.

Ironically, I am probably going to end up working more today than I do under normal conditions, but that’s perfectly fine. It’s work that is my idea, not somebody else’s, and that makes all the difference.

I had planned on sleeping in and making up for some lost sleep from yesterday. I got about 3 hours of sleep on Wednesday night, because I helped a friend get to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. Nice thing about driving down the freeway at 3:30 a.m., is that there is almost no traffic. Just trucks. I was surprised to see traffic picking up around 4 a.m., but for people who work the early shift or are getting off the late shift, I guess that’s about right.

Anyway, today I had planned on sleeping in, but I woke up a little before 6 a.m., and I lay under the covers shivering and trying to stay warm. When I am tired, my body temperature is all over the place, so I can actually be hot and sweating but still feel cold. Or my back and head will be hot as hell, and my feet and hands will be like blocks of ice. I was feeling a little stopped up and fuzzy, coughing and eyes burning. Not a good way to start the day. I’ve been hoping to stay healthy as long as humanly possible… while everyone around me seems to be coming down with something.

After a little while, I realized my strategy wasn’t working. I was still cold, still feeling croupy. So, I pulled back the curtain at the head of my bed, and I was flooded with moonlight — the moon was right outside my window. It was such a beautiful night outside, I decided to go for a walk. So, I got up, pulled on some sweatpants and a fleece jacket over my hoodie, and headed out down the road with a flashlight — to alert passing cars that I was there.

What a phenomenal night sky — the waning gibbous moon was so bright, casting shadows on the road from the fallen leaves… the stars were clear and still so many in the sky, with the big dipper clearly visible… Orion’s belt… and all the other constellations that I am sure have names that I don’t know. The sound of small creatures rustling around in the leaves to the side of the road… The air was crisp and cold, and the walk woke me up properly. There were a few other folks out for an early morning walk, some alone and some walking their dogs, but we gave each other plenty of room. We were all there to be alone, and we knew it.

I had a good, brisk walk, then I did some light exercise and stretching under the moonlight at a trailhead clearing just off the road. Phenomenal. Just phenomenal. I will definitely be doing this again — it could be my new morning routine. It stirred my blood, got me decongested, and it felt great to be out before all the traffic picked up, and I could have some quiet.

And by the time I got back to my house, I wasn’t cold anymore.

I was ready for the day. My head was cleared, and I had a few more answers to questions that had been dogging me lately, which was great. I made my coffee and fried egg, and I wrote down what had occurred to me before I forgot it… clearing the way for a day to myself. I also wrote down the sequence of things I’m going to be doing today — I have a handful of things I plan to do, and I need to not waste time in between, getting distracted and what-not. And I also thought of a few things I would like to do while I am out and about. I am going to be doing some traveling later today, and I want to make the most of my time out and about — going places and doing things that I normally can’t see or do because I’m not in that area.

Anyway, speaking of doing things, I’ve got to get going. The day is waiting, and I’m ready.


Down to the barest of bones

The fall cleaning has begun. I went through my study this morning and decimated the piles of papers on my side table. Just cleared them away. Much of what was cluttering the place was a bunch of unopened bank statements and duplicate bills from days gone by, along with a lot of “collectibles” from past experiences that I really don’t need to hang onto. Notes I took along the way for different projects I wanted to work on, but never did… etc.

I packed a paper grocery bag with scrap and unneeded papers, I put all the unopened bank statements and bills into a pile, and I had enough space to move some things off an extra table I had in the room to hold everything. Crazy, how much crap builds up, when you just don’t want to deal with it at the time.

But coming back from vacation, it’s time to get back in the swing of things, move all the old crap out of the way, to make room for the new. Make some hard choices about where I will put my attention and energy, and be willing to clear out the things that do not serve me in the least.

I had a job interview on Thursday morning, which was both useful and pointless. It’s for a position with some old friends of mine who know me and my past work. It’s not an exact fit for me, actually, and they are trying to “shoehorn” me into the position, with extra time for training and testing and getting me up to speed. If I go that route, it will probably take me about 6 months to get up to speed with what I need to know, and the more I think about it, the less I like that idea. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn some new things, but looking at the job market and pay rates, as well as everything else that I have on my plate, I’m not sure it’s even worth the effort. It would be starting from scratch again, and I don’t want to be in that position again.

Hell, I’ve been starting from scratch for the past 8-9 years, trying to get my life back on track – why would I do it all over again? Anxiety and stress and pressure… Nah, it doesn’t make sense for me to do it. So, I’m clearing the deck of that. I’ll give the folks a call on Monday and tell them I’ll pass. If it’s not an exact fit, then I’m not going to go for it.

This is my new approach, these days — to put up or shut up. To put my time and energy and attention into ONLY the things that put me in the direction I’m going. I have no interest in frittering away the hours on this, that, and the other thing. I don’t have the time or the money or the energy to do so. Unfortunately, I’m dealing with a world of scarcity, right now — money is extremely tight, as is time and energy — and I just don’t have the luxury of A) sitting around and shooting the shit about crap I’m unhappy with, or B) listening to other people do that.

One of the things that’s moved me in this direction is being away from about half my team at work for the past three weeks. We have been in different locations, here and there, since mid-September, so I haven’t had an earful of them bitching and complaining about everything for a number of weeks. It’s been a breath of fresh air, actually. None of the drama and upheaval and politicking. Plus, I was on vacation, the week that they were all embroiled in their political gamesmanship.

Divine intervention, as far as I’m concerned. And it’s been a real pleasure to just be able to focus on work without all their personal drama. They seem to have plenty of time and energy for bitching and complaining and finding fault about this, that, and the other thing. Meanwhile, I’m dealing with a constant sense of illness and vertigo, a spouse who is having increasing health issues, parents who are ageing and siblings who are making really bad decisions, and the challenges of vacating a job that is way past its “best if used-by” date. And I’m starting a business.

It’s a lot to handle, and it’s not going to get any easier, so obviously I don’t have a lot of time to sink into frittering away the hours bitching about how things don’t suit my liking.

Put up or shut up, is where I’m at, these days.

And it feels pretty good, my general sense of illness and fogginess and perpetual low-level frustration notwithstanding. Making hard choices, speaking plainly, and not getting dragged down into all manner of crap, is the way to go for me, these days. Seriously, I have way too much going on, to waste my precious hours on things that will not “bear fruit” as some say.

Welcome to the bare-bones life.

The great thing about having a bare-bones life, is that it has room for me to put anything on the bones that I want. I’m stripping away all manner of distraction and pointless “entertainment” — not watching television shows that don’t interest me… not indulging in conversations that don’t help me… not spending a lot of time surfing around the web, chatting about pointless things on Facebook… really investing time in things that matter most to me, and being present with people around me, not distracted by stupid shit that will pass in a matter of hours, anyway.

Looking at all my disparate interests, over the years, I can see clearly how distraction and disruption have really kept me from moving forward in my life. I haven’t made the progress I wanted to make — not because of lack of talent, but because of lack of focus, and too much clutter. All the distractions and interruptions — from within and without — have kept me in a self-perpetuating pattern of having lots of great ideas, but precious little to show for it. And I have dropped a lot of things that I meant to move forward with, but lost interest inΒ  — or got discouraged about.

Well, no more. I am cutting back on massive amounts of distraction, throwing away things that no longer get me where I need to go, and making choices about what I will do with my time and energy and attention.

And it’s pretty incredible, how much more free I feel.

Speaking of making choices, I need to head out to an appointment I’ve got in another hour and a half. I need to shower, change, and get on the road. And take care of a number of things as I go.

Bare bones. Bare bones. Keeping it simple and just moving forward.