The roots of our fascism

Grab you torches and pitchforks! There's someone out there who disagrees with you!
Grab your torches and pitchforks! There’s someone out there who disagrees with you!

This is a tricky time of year / life for me, what with the political stuff going on. I have to watch my energy to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed and bent out of shape. When that happens, I tend to lose sleep. And that’s never good. A tired brain is a less-than-optimal brain. And I am a less-than-optimal person.

The atmosphere is so electrified on all sides, these days, and human folly is on full display — along with a healthy dose of dismay and trepidation about what could happen if so-and-so gets into office. Jeez Louise! I can’t remember things ever being this polarized to such an extreme extent. Even the moderate folks seem polarized to me. I’d love to sit back and watch from a distance, just observing it all, but that’s a tall order, when — as we are constantly reminded — So Much Is At Stake.

I can think of a hundred common-sense things to remind people of, that I think would put things in perspective. But that’s assuming that people want to have perspective. They don’t want to learn, they don’t want to change. They want to win — as though that will solve all our ills. Seems, these days, like everybody just wants to mark their territory and go after anyone who encroaches on it. And while all the different sides are accusing the others of being “fascists”, it seems as though the tone of every single side dances close to that line.

torches-pitchforks-faceoff

Fascism is not demanding that people adhere to any particular sort of message — be it “liberal” or “conservative”. Fascism is demanding that people adhere to ONE message and ONE Message Only — be it left, right, middle, or wherever. Requiring that others agree with you or be subject to ridicule, dismissal, or attack — my my book, that’s every bit as fascist as what took over Germany and spread through Europe back in the 1930s.

When we cease to allow others the right to disagree and think/feel differently than ourselves, that to me is fascism.

When we stop listening to what others think and feel — other than as a way to prove them wrong or prove that we’re right (which isn’t listening at all) — that’s the way fascism takes hold and strengthens itself.

When we dehumanize others who disagree with us, calling them names and telling them to “swallow a knife” or “die in a house fire”, because they are on “the other side” of our ideology, that has all the hallmarks of fascism.

When we go on the offensive and taunt and mock and demean the human beings who don’t agree with us, and turn out to elect those who promise to pass laws to block their freedoms, because they appear to threaten us with their differing opinions and ways of life… how is that not fascism?

And nobody has the market cornered on that. Not Trump, not Sanders, not anyone in between. Every single political camp seems to have that virulent divisiveness down to a science. It’s part and parcel of their messages.

Every nook and cranny of social media has that going on.  Except maybe Twitter — I can read plenty of things there that are not algorithmically aligned with any certain ideology. I can just follow diverse individuals and see what they have to say, without being flooded with suggestions about other things that may interest me. That’s why I’ve traded Facebook for Twitter. Facebook especially is so balkanized, so narrowly targeted to people’s ideological echo chambers, I fail to see how any revolution or progress could ever take place there.

Millennials, take note. Facebook cannot free you. But it can keep your mind and spirit tied to an ideological/political millstone that’s sinking into the muck of narrow-minded prejudice, bigotry, and hate.

For a healthy community, you need diversity. And Facebook is antithetical to diversity. If anything, its driving principle is helping (even encouraging) people to separate into “social” silos organized around only what they think — not what they may wish to consider in addition to their own biases and assumptions.

Facebook is dangerous, in that way. It’s also depressing. Which is why I don’t spend much time there, anymore.

Plus, if I really spoke my mind there, honestly voicing the full spectrum of my beliefs, I’d be pillaried, pelted with rotten vegetables, then pulled out and drawn and quartered in the center of the virtual town, as the pitch-fork wielding villagers poured tar on my bloody, oozing remains and lit them on fire, dancing madly under the orange glow of sodium lights.

Good heavens.

It’s so emotional!

Anyway, that’s my little freedom rant for today.

I think I’ll go to the pool early and have a nice long swim before I head to the office.

Gotta work out this energy in a positive, productive way.

Onward.

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Getting connected again

isolationPeople are funny. We’re so social. And when we feel like we’ve been cut off from our social group, it can make us crazy.

I’ve been having that sort of experience this week. My team members have either been traveling, or they’ve been in a lot of meetings, and there is a lot of discussion and politicking going on behind the scenes that affects me, but I don’t know about.

I’ve also been slammed with everyday busy-work that’s been consuming all my time and energy – I’ve been ‘in the weeds’ and it’s been making me nuts.  I’ve been very productive and I’ve gotten a lot done, but it’s been really tiring. And when I get tired, I isolate, which is not good.

Yesterday I managed to reconnect with a coworker who has been a little nuts, lately. They’ve pissed me off, and I have been keeping them at arm’s length. But that’s not making me feel any better, so I put aside my aggravation and I’m not pushing them away anymore.

It’s made things easier at work. And it’s also saved me a ton of time and energy that I was using up being pissed off at them and keeping them at arm’s distance.

Forgiveness and generosity of spirit are so much less work, actually. So, I’m letting those set the tone for my work with people. And that seems to be helping a lot.

I’ve also been taking breaks during my day — first thing in the morning after I get up, I sit and just breathe for a few minutes… during the day I’ll stop and step away to also just sit and breathe… and in the evening before I go to sleep, I’ll spend a few minutes just sitting and breathing. It calms me down and it settles my mind.

Which is exactly what I want and need.

And now the day is waiting.

Onward.

After the storm

So, the past few days have been a little dramatic. With the changes in our organization, people are confused and intimidated and upset, and some are handling things better than others. For some, the changes are really disorienting — especially for those who are not located at the home office. The locus of power has shifted from one office to the other, and both offices involved are many, many miles apart, with completely different office atmospheres and cultures. So, there is a great deal of tension – especially because the power has completely shifted from one side of the company to the other.

So, the ship is listing a little bit, till everybody finds their footing again.

The beginning of this week was very stressful, with a lot of tension and aggravation and venting and pressure. I have some deadlines I need to deliver on, and it’s been a real adjustment, getting used to the extra workload and managing my existing chores tasks. But I’m getting there. I was able to really turn things around from one day to the next — having multiple meetings with the same people, and getting them from a place of confusion and antagonism, to clarity and direction.

People just need to direct their energy into productive directions. That’s the biggest piece of the puzzle. And even the most problematic troublemakers turned out to be allies during a meeting I led yesterday. The difference from one day to the next was like night and day — and I think that just keeping people in the loop is a huge thing for us as a larger team.

So, that’s my primary goal and objective, these days — to just keep communicating and keep everyone in the loop to discuss the best ways to do things, instead of steamrolling them and enforcing my dominance and authority.

It’s just basic humanity, along with clear vision and decisive leadership. Technically, I’m not the person in charge, as I’m several layers “down”, but that shouldn’t keep me from stepping up to provide the direction and leadership that people are looking for. There is a massive leadership gap where I’m working — folks in charge seem to think that if you reach out to people as human beings, it will make you look weak and also “coddle” them. But from what I’ve seen, ignoring the human element just sows seeds of discontent and more confusion and frustration.

So, I’m going to do my small part about that and see if I can’t turn my own situation around. I’m working with a lot of people, all across the group and larger company, so I have a great opportunity here.

I just need to keep focused and not get pulled into all sorts of political intrigue and gossip and what-not. That doesn’t serve me or anyone else, and it just distracts me from what I need to be doing. It’s not like I have a lot of time and energy for extra fluffer-nutter stuff, anyway.

So yes, this is a great opportunity for me to show how things can be done differently. I know I’m a total dark horse, here, without the political clout and profile to figure prominently in the political landscape. But who knows? That could change, based on my work this year. It could really do wonders for my reputation and career prospects at this company. Interestingly, I’m not really wedded to the outcome on this. If I become rich and famous within the context of this company, then great. But I’m really treating this like a stepping stone to something else, because this company does a lot of things I do NOT agree with, and I don’t really want to support their business activities for the long term. In fact, I spent much of my early life radically opposed to what they do, so it’s a real moral stretch for me to be working here at all.

But I’m here now, so what can I do with this situation?

Treat it like what it is — a stepping stone to other things. I’ll put together this plan of action and follow through on it for the next year, build my contacts with executive recruiters on the side, and report in regularly about what’s been happening in my world, what I’ve accomplished, etc. I’ve heard that’s how you do things. And in any case, it will help me to better define where I am going in the future, with this evolving career path.

Above all, I need to stay on track, focused, and really keep myself in good shape. Get enough sleep. Eat right. Exercise on a daily basis — even if it’s just a little something in the morning while I make my breakfast. I’ve got a bunch of physical issues — aches, pains, headache, pulled muscles, vertigo, deafening ringing in my ears, nausea… I could list ’em all out at length. But that would take my attention away from what I really need to do. I mean, it’s nice to think that I could be free of the constant presence of these things, but I don’t have a lot of faith that it can really happen to the extent I would like it. And even if I get there, I’m not sure it’s going to last.

I’d rather just keep going.

Speaking of which, I’ve gotta get going – the day awaits.

Onward

 

Each year better than the last – I hope

Looking back… looking ahead

Now that Christmas and Hanukkah and Winter Solstice have all passed, it’s time to start looking ahead to the New Year. Kwanzaa is still underway till January 1, and the Seven Principles that mark this time give me good food for thought, even though I don’t actually celebrate it formally. Yuletide is also underway till January 1 (or the 13th, depending what part of the world you live in), allowing everything to just slow down for time to reflect and look ahead to the new year.

I’m celebrating the spirit of Yuletide more than any other holiday this season. It’s been a quiet time, without a lot of travel, and minimal racing around to take care of presents and what-not. If anything, I’ve been pretty neglectful of others, this holiday season. But you know what? They’ve been totally neglectful of me, too, so we’re even. If anything, the past years have been about me and my spouse doing a hell of a lot more for them than they did for us — doing more travel, making more of an effort, going out of our way to keep everyone aligned and on track with coordinating our holiday activities. This year, we haven’t done all that — and guess what… nobody picked up the slack. So there you go — they must not care that much, so… what-ever.

It’s time to us to take care of ourselves for once.

And we’ve done just that. I’ve been in a pretty low-key frame of mind since before Christmas — all the excitement of work notwithstanding — so, it’s been a very “Yule-like” time. Things have slowed down. I’ve allowed them to slow down. I’ve taken time OFF from all the sense of obligation and duty and required activities, to just rest and relax and not race around like a chicken with my head cut off, as I did in prior years. I’ve done energizing things that are good for me, and I’ve been eating lots of new foods that support me and my brain, as well. I’ve cooked up some pretty excellent dishes lately, if I say so myself, and my spouse says I’m becoming quite the chef 🙂

Looking back on the past year, it’s odd — I can remember bits and pieces of it, but I don’t get an overall sense of how the year was. I know it’s been challenging, and I’ve been actively looking for a new job for much of that time — especially in the past three months. At home, things have stabilized somewhat — with less undercurrents of stress and strain, but some extreme meltdowns that have taken a toll on my marriage. I’ve been through a lot of intense challenges with my spouse, including issues with money and infidelity and physically unhealthy choices. All in all, though, I think we’re on the up-swing, and taking time out from all the travel to see family, as well as me getting my own “house” in order, has benefited us a great deal.

I feel stronger and more stable than I have in a long time. Perhaps ever. And yet, there’s a constant sense of confusion and disorientation that is always in the background. I am more functional than I can remember being in a good long while, and the circumstances of my life are leveling out and becoming more “structurally sound”, but at the same time, I’m in a fair amount of general pain much of the time, I have tremors and shakes, and my brain is definitely not firing on all pistons. I feel like I’m maybe at 65% on a regular basis. 85% if I’m lucky.

And that makes me sad.

But I think perhaps I am acclimating to the instability. I’ve decided I’m going to just get on with my life, even though I can’t seem to get rid of the memory problems, the sleep difficulties, the constant sense of fatigue, confusion, distractability, getting things turned around, and getting lost and not knowing where I am for a few minutes at a time… and more.

My solution is to just keep going and not get sidetracked and depressed by what’s going on inside my head. If I can just keep going, keep working at things, and do my best to learn from my lessons and try again, this all doesn’t need to hold me back permanently. It might slow me down, but it’s not going to stop me.

I’m also coming to terms with the idea of not being Alpha in every situation at work — and beyond. At work, I have been long accustomed to being Alpha and being in a leadership position of some kind. But now that things are shifting and changing at work, I’m not sure if this is going to last. There are so many people at work who are a hell of a lot more possessed by the demons of blind ambition and greed, and I just can’t see competing with them around the clock. There’s all sorts of politicking — and if it takes politicking to get ahead, then I’m going to step back and not engage with that, and allow myself to simply be happy in the position where I am.

Now, I don’t for a minute expect that I’ll stay in that subordinate position for long, if I get the attention of the right people who recognize what I’ve got to offer. I do want to get ahead. I need a raise. I need a promotion. I need to really put what I know and have learned into action. But I need to be smart about it and not just charge forward into the gap, without understanding what’s ahead of me. If a promotion means I’m going to have to travel all over the world and not be home more than two weeks out of every month, then I’ll pass. There is that possibility. But who can say? Who can say…

Anyway, I can’t invest too much time and effort in thinking about what may be… inventing all sorts of dramatic stories about what that will mean for me. Who knows what will happen? I need to conserve my energy, because I continue to have some limiting difficulties — the headaches and the joint pain which suck a lot of energy from me… the confusion and disorientation that keep me guessing and demand even more energy from me to keep up and do my part… the vertigo and tinnitus that are just so damned distracting… and the attentional and distraction issues that interrupt what I’m doing with a regular dose of screw-ups.

I need to keep going, and in order to do that, I need to take good care of myself and also practice things that will keep me sharp and make me sharper, while not using up a lot of time.

  • Ride the exercise bike or move and stretch, first thing in the morning to get my blood pumping and clear out some of the sludge that’s built up. (10 minutes a day)
  • Practicing juggling one thing at a time, tossing it into the air, and then catching it.  I do this with my toothbrush each morning, to improve my eye-hand coordination and also my focus and attention. (1-2 minutes a day)
  • Working on my balance and leg mobility with exercises on a daily basis. (5 minutes a day)
  • Doing my measured breathing that regulates my heart rate and keeps me calm. (5-10 minutes a day)
  • Allowing myself to really, truly relax on a regular basis — just letting myself collapse into bed or on the couch, and letting the fatigue just wash over me. (The first few minutes when I go to bed)
  • Increase my dopamine levels by eating more foods with L-Tyrosine and also taking the supplement… and also taking Oil of Oregano, to keep my body from breaking down the dopamine and seratonin in my system. (In the regular course of my day.)
  • Drinking plenty of water to flush out the sludge.
  • Studying anatomy and physiology, to help me better understand the inner workings of my physical life — and how to improve my health.

All these things are really good for me — and I can work them into my daily routine. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to do them as a regular part of my life, without up-ending my routine. That is totally do-able, because I can find time when my breakfast is cooking, and I’d just be sitting around anyway.  I just need to do it. And I need to not just take things for granted, because I’ve been doing them a while and it feels like I don’t need to do them anymore.

That’s probably the biggest threat to my well-being in the new year — getting complacent and just assuming that “I’m good” and I don’t need to keep up my routines and activities. That state of “good” can rapidly decline, as I’ve learned time and time again.

So, as I look forward to the new year, I’m thinking about the basics. Focusing on that, and not making myself crazy with a whole lot of dramatic schemes and Big Plans, like I have in the past. I’m settling in, in a way, and it feels pretty good. I just can’t get complacent. Gotta keep working at it. Each day.

Well, speaking of working at things, I need to get a move on and get my ass in gear. I have some errands I need to run before everything closes for the day.

Onward.

Clearing the clutter

Okay, the flu is subsiding, and along with it goes my regret over not pushing myself harder to do everything I’m “supposed” to do… as well as my interest in the flu vaccine and my appreciation of Tamiflu. A reader tipped me off to aluminum being used as an “immune agonist” (something that triggers your immune system to go into overdrive) in the flu vaccine, which would not bode well for someone who is already dealing with enough brain complications. Like I need to add a direct shot of aluminum to the mix… not. The other thing about these immune agonists is that they can blast your system and get it stuck in high gear, like a runaway Prius, essentially making you artificially sick for longer than you would otherwise be.

It’s interesting, that the whole concept of vaccines triggering the immune system is sacrosanct and unassailable by the mainstream medical establishment, while homeopathy, which operates on the same basis — except in much smaller, individual ways — is persona non grata in mainstream medical circles. I’m not advocating homeopathy, by any stretch — sometimes it works for me, most of the time it doesn’t. I’m just saying there’s a curious inconsistency there.

My fever is down to normal again. It’s been in the normal range since yesterday, with a slight rise past 99 yesterday afternoon and evening. This morning I am normal. I am still coughing up mucus, and I am still weak and get worn out after going up and down the stairs just once,  but I am definitely on the mend. That being said, I’m discontinuing the Tamiflu, after reading about what’s in it. It’s only supposed to work for the first 36 hours, anyway, and I’m past that point, so I’m stopping it – even though common wisdom is that you need to finish everything you start. Personally, I’d rather deal with the rest of this with sleep and fluids and not eating a bunch of crap (not to mention airing out my room frequently, changing my bedding, and bathing often to wash the infection off me) than be dependent on something like Tamiflu.

Of course, I’m all spunky now — but where was I just 48 hours ago? Pretty much of a simpering hunk of bones.

But it happens. To the best of us. The main thing is what comes out of it in the end.

What’s coming out of this for me is a renewed vision of where I’m headed with my work, my career. After all the meetings with the New Boss last week, I had a lot to think about. And the bottom line is, they keep changing their mind. One minute I hear, I’m going to be earmarked for a top slot with people who report to me. Then I’m told that I’m going to basically be the organization’s Blue Heeler, running around and nipping at the heels of all the people who don’t want to cooperate. Then I hear that I’m going to be doing something else. It doesn’t inspire much confidence. Being flexible is fine. Being flaky is not. And I just don’t have time to get dicked around by people who either don’t know what they want, or aren’t strong enough to stand up to bullies. Being bullied by one or two people is bad enough, but the whole organization? No thanks.

So, back to my original plan… beef up my skills and keep moving. I’m getting a little sick of being pulled this way and that, so I’m just going to keep with my own blueprint and take it from there. I’m going to use this opportunity as best I can, learn what I can from it, and in the meantime use my dissatisfaction as motivation to make my own progress and improve my own lot. It’s nice to think I can rely on others and trust them, but now I have seen how very un-strong they are, how easily pushed they are from this to that direction, and there is just no way I am taking my lead from people who are that weak and un-grounded.

It’s like that “crack the whip” game we used to play when we were kids — when the person at the head of the line gets “cracked”, the people at the end get whipped around.

Yeah, no thanks.

So, it’s all evolving. I can’t get down on myself for having thought I could make something of this new opportunity. I wanted to at least give it a chance and see if it could work. Maybe I could make it work, but it means: more time away from home, more time traveling, more time commuting, less time to actually do my work, less time for the things I want to do with myself… not to mention more of the kind of work that I just don’t like to do — politics, organizational navigation, all that… through an organization that treats me like a second-class citizen because I’m not at HQ. After all the years that I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, I just can’t see the point.

So, for now, it’s where I am… but for the long-term, I want something different. That something different will have to wait until after I’m better, though. Right now, it’s about all I can do, to get clear in my head about what direction I want my life to go. So, I’ll watch another samurai movie, have some chicken soup, and get some more sleep.

What will be, will be. But something that goes against everything I want for my life, doesn’t have to “be” forever.

Almost there…

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…

Recovering from myself

Burned Christmas Tree
I'm feeling a little burned out

Just got up from my mid-day nap. I went for a walk first thing this morning to welcome the New Year. I started going an early-morning 1/1 walk to start the year off right, back when I was in high school, and the habit has stayed with me since. I spend a lot of time on the walk thinking about the past — way back in the past — thinking about how people have been celebrating New Year’s Day for a long, long time… and thinking about the great continuity of all life and all lives.

After I got back from my walk, I had a snack of fruit and crackers and tea and just checked in with myself while it was quiet. My spouse went off to church with friends, which is their way of welcoming the New Year, and I had the house to myself for the morning. There’s something about the silence… the ticking of the clocks, the sound of distant activity, the quiet all around, that goes so well with the first day of the year. Maybe all my neighbors were up late last night and were sleeping in. Maybe they were away. For whatever reason, the neighborhood was quiet, and so was I.

I was also very tired. And feeling sick. So, I took a hot shower and went back to bed. I got about an hour’s rest, which I needed. Now I’m up again and feeling better. Centered. More calm. Feeling the good effects of sitting and breathing regularly. I did a “long cycle” this morning of 100 counted breaths. 100 breaths is a long time to hold your attention on one thing, and while my thoughts did tend to wander, I did not lose the count, as I’ve done many times in the past. This is pretty significant for me, because attentional issues are at the root of so many of my problems. Distractability is my own particular bugaboo that has caused me more trouble than I care to think about. But this morning I managed to breathe steadily and count to 100 in one sitting.

Bravo for me, if I say so myself. This is a sign of real progress.

Anyway, after I got up, I thought for a while about my visits with my family, and I thought about how rough it can be, dealing with them. Most of them have very different political and religious and social values than myself, so we end up in some sort of conflict. Even if there is no overt conflict, I usually end up feeling like I’ve been “beaten up” by their ideologies, which tend to be pretty intense and fiercely guarded. I tend to be pretty agnostic about some things. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong — who am I to say? I’ve been wrong about so many things in my life, that it doesn’t make sense for me to get attached to one world view. And when I do get attached to a world view, it invariably changes, so any chance at fundamentalism is lost on me.

In any case, I have no problem with people believing what they believe — the idea of faith that falls within a certain category, be it a religious denomination or a political party, is appealing to me, although I find myself unable to muster much of it, myself. The idea that others can be devotedly faithful to a creed or a political stance, and stand by that no matter what, seems like a good and worthy thing. I have things that I stand by, through thick or thin, but they tend to be broader principles and fundamental values, rather than specific individual political or religious beliefs. I’m as passionate about my own “meta” beliefs as the next person, but when it comes to party lines and denominations, I’m not much help in that department.

Anyway, the long and short of my ideological differences is that by the end of holiday visits with family, I come away feeling pretty beaten up. All the arguing, the debate, even the awareness that others differ intensely with me, wears on me, and I end up worn down — and eating way too much sugar. I also tend to get sick, as my relatives usually have people in the house who are (or have been) sick with something, and I have no immunity to what they have/had. So, on top of being worn down and eating too much sugar, I catch a cold. Or the flu. And I have to spend the week after, recovering from the experience.

Well, today after I got up from my mid-day nap, it occurred to me that what I’m really recovering from, is myself. I mean, think about it — the relatives with whom I differ really respect me as a person and they treat me with love and kindness when I’m around them. And when we do have our heated discussions, they always back off at the end and we agree to disagree.

In my head, however, there’s a thought process that is still hard at work, telling me that in this tense situation of disagreement, someone is wrong — and that person is usually me. Or maybe it’s them. Bottom line is, though, someone is wrong, and I can’t seem to square that in my head. Or in my heart. If there is conflict, it must mean there’s something amiss, and it must mean that someone is at fault.

And you know, when I think about it, I realize just how tiring this mindset is. The rigid thinking that takes over me, especially when I’m fatigued or feeling overwhelmed (which is most of the time, when I’m visiting family), locks me into a pretty hard-headed place that doesn’t “breathe” or expand to include other possibilities in life. And I get stuck in my head trying to “defend” a position that frankly doesn’t need defending. Under family circumstances in the holidays, when all the “old stuf” is flying around, I’m dealing with people I haven’t seen in months, maybe years, and I’m handling all sorts of non-scheduled surprises and activities that I cannot manage myself but must adapt to, I get physically tired and overwhelmed with sensory input, and my sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. Then my head locks itself down, getting all fight-flight-freeze, and I lose the ability to think with my whole brain, and to experience my whole life.

That’s when the Christmas morning meltdowns happen. That’s when the arguments about stupid sh*t at 11:30 p.m. happen. That’s when I start inhaling cookies and pecan pie, and I stop drinking the water I need to not only keep my brain properly hydrated but also flush all the gunk out of my system. And I get sick.

Like now.

Then I have to spend the next few days in bed, under the weather, wishing I had done a better job of handling the holidays, wishing I’d done a better job of defending myself from all the onslaughts that came at me.

But you know, come to think of it, I actually did do a pretty good job of handling it all. And you know what? All those “onslaughts” that felt so intense and aggressive, probably weren’t meant as attacks at all. It was just people being people. It was just life being life. It was just people who are passionate about what they believe, sharing it with me, without necessarily any need for me to believe along with them — just acknowledge their politics and faith. I did that as best I could, so all in all, I did okay. I’m wiped out by the whole experience, and I probably made it harder for myself than it needed to be, but I did it. And I managed to come away from the whole experience on good terms with my relatives — which is a whole lot better than I’ve done in the past.

When it comes to recovering from the holidays, it helps if I can cut myself a break. And remember that I don’t need to take things so personally — or so seriously. I can — and did — allow people to believe whatever they believe, and I managed to have a number of conversations with people which were a lot harder for me to hear individually inside my own head, than they were to talk about out loud.

All in all, if I look back on the past week, I can feel pretty good about my trip and I can realize that it’s normal to feel how I felt at the time, and it’s perfectly normal for me to be exhausted from all the driving (over 1500 miles round-trip) and all the eating and all the visiting (spanning four generations from five different states). I can know that I did well by myself and everyone around me, and even the more challenging times managed to come and go, like so many dark clouds on a windy day.

I may feel sick now, and I may be under the weather and I may be a bit laid low by all I’ve been through, but I can feel good — and strong — about having made it through in one piece, arriving home safely to a warm home that is mine.

This old habit of making things out to be worse than they necessarily are/were… that’s one thing I can safely let go of this year.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Happy New Year.

News that has absolutely nothing to do with me

Newspaper Boat
Watch me sail away with the news...

News of the coming election is heating up, and with it comes a seemingly unending flurry of news and reportage about all the candidates, their track records, what they will or will not do, what they did or did not accomplish, what they said, what they ate, what they wore. That’s really bad news.

Danger – danger! Warning Will Robinson!

It’s bad news, because this is exactly the kind of stuff that’s murder on me – the seemingly important news that changes and shifts and provides me with absolutely no redeeming value in my life, other than to get my mind off what I’m doing at the time. It’s intriguing, alluring, and totally consuming. It’s murder on whatever hold I have on my distraction at any given point in time.

Especially when I’m stressed and am having a hard time concentrating, or when I’m tired and I’m losing steam, a little distraction can turn into a lot of problems. Sure, it can help me relieve pressure. The only problem is, I tend to get wrapped up in the distraction, so that it becomes the main focus of my precious time and my limited energy.

And that’s not good.

I guess I need to get a lot more aggressive about ruling things out — cutting things out of my attention field that don’t add to my ultimate goal — that get in my way. That are entertaining for a short while, then stop adding anything to my life. Things like political discussions, which are so much gum-flapping at this stage of the game. It’s all narcissism and self-aggrandizement at this point, and precious little that’s substantive is actually being said. It’s mud-slinging from the get-go, to get opponents disqualified — or at the very least, to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of voters, which seeds can (and will) be watered and tended and nourished for months to come, as we lead up to the next Big Decision about who gets to run the world.

What does all this have to do with me, really? The “information” we are getting is so skewed and slanted, if it were a building, it wouldn’t pass code, even in Haiti. And that’s pretty bad. It’s so much fluff and dust and redirection, it makes my head spin. And I have no idea who is actually telling the truth.

It’s not going to be easy to keep out of the political discussion scene, this season. I have a lot of friends on Facebook who are vehement about their own political views — and I have friends on the extreme left and extreme right, which makes things interesting, when I feel like speaking MY mind 😉  So, there’s bound to be a lot of dust kicked up in the coming months. Flying in my eyes, my mouth, my nose, getting stuck under my fingernails and in places the sun don’t shine.

To the best of my ability, I’m going to do myself a favor and keep a fairly low profile with regard to the political scene. It’s really a distraction I can’t afford. I have work to do, I have a job to do, and I need to make way for the new things. I can’t move forward, until I have the existing projects squared away, so that’s really Job One for me, these days. Regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world.

Now, part of me feels like I need to do this, to encourage more meaning in my life… More mindfulness. Less craziness. But there’s a more basic reason for this — I cannot move ahead in my life and get things in order, unless I get my act together, clear out some of the old stuff that’s familiar but bogging me down, and move on to the next thing.

I had a good training at the end of last week, which adds more information to my overall skill offerings. It rounds out my professional profile nicely. And I’m really stoked. Now I need to move these things out of the way that are keeping me from getting on with it. Pronto. Just do it.

So long as I keep allowing myself to be distracted by things that have Absolutely Nothing To Do With Me, I’m going to stay entertained. But I’m going to be stuck in the same place.

And that’s no good.

What an awful day

You'll have this sometimes, I guess

Oh

My

God

I just had the most friggin’ awful day. Started out pretty great, with me working from home in the a.m. and getting a lot of stuff done that I had been meaning to do… then going into the office around noon, catching up on more things… and spending two hours talking to my boss about how I’m just not achieving enough. I have all these projects, but they say they’re not getting done soon enough. I haven’t had enough check-marks in the “complete” column on the spreadsheet, apparently.

Holy crap. Kick my legs out from under me, why dontcha. I’ve known that I have not been getting as much done as I would like, and I have been spread pretty thin. But I’ve been doing the things that they told me to do, and I’ve been handling a lot of different things pretty well, according to others. Plus, the work I’m doing now is far more complex and involved than what I was doing, six months ago. Like 7-10 times as complex.

It’s not like they aren’t aware of all this. They’ve told me they realize it, themselves.

Then, out of nowhere comes this. Geez. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was expecting more of a positive approach, since I actually have been very strong in a lot of areas. They just say I’m slipping. Like I’m losing my shit. Like I’m really not as good as they thought I was and I said I was. Like I’m not really as good as everybody else in the satellite offices say I am.

I just don’t know. Feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. I know my boss has some issues with me – they make passing comments about me being “strange”, every now and then. Whatever. And when I approach them to talk about things, 9 times out of 10, they cross their legs and arms and sit back and become guarded.

Why? Am I really that intimidating? And here I thought I was a nice person, a team player, working hard to achieve my goals and help the company achieve theirs.

Gotta regroup. I know I’m tired, and it really blind-sided me, getting this lecture at work. Plus, I’m coming up on a year on this job, which is when things have traditionally fallen apart with me. Not again. Please, not again.

I don’t know if I have another job search in me, frankly.

Oh, screw it. Of course I do. I always do what I have to do. But the bottom line is, I don’t have to do anything. There’s no reason for me to cut and run. Not now. Not over this stupid crap. I’m just over-reacting, and I need to just get my act together, respond rationally and calmly to this, and not let it get the best of me.

I just need to get out of my funk and get on with my evening. The weather has been absolutely beautiful, lately, and it’s good to get out.

Where this all is leading me, I haven’t the faintest idea. One thing is, my employer was acquired some time back by a large multinational corporation based overseas, and they’re going to be moving several regional offices to a larger metropolitan area in the fall. I’m really looking forward to it. Getting out of the little place we’re in now with a couple hundred people, and settling in with close to 1,000 other people who are going to be sharing space with us.

Should be interesting.

I just need to hold my own till then.

Till then…