Setting a new pace

Picking up the pace – just the way I like

For the first time in months, I got up this morning and exercised. It’s been way too long. I’ve exercised on and off, over the past couple of years — more off than on.

And I’ve missed it.

A lot.

The thing is, I don’t realize how much I miss it, until I’m doing it again and I remember. It’s getting me doing it again – just starting – that is the monumental challenge. I feel like I’m delaying getting on with my day, and I’m not using my time productively — though for what reason, I cannot tell.

I think it has had to do with the fact of my commute. And the feeling that I’ve had for years, that I am behind on my work, I am not making any progress, and the life force is being sapped out of me, slowly but surely, but the frustrations of that job. I’ve felt like I’ve had so little bandwidth, so little time and space for myself to just think, that I’ve coveted every last moment of free time to spend on myself and my own activities.

I think another factor has been starting to read again. Now that I am reading again, I just want to spend all my time reading, thinking, writing… My short-term working memory feels like it’s improved dramatically — or at least I’ve come up with new and different ways to think about things, so that I can remember them that much better. In any case, I don’t feel confused and feel like I’ve permanently lost my way when I’m reading, anymore. When I feel like I’ve lost the train of thought, I just back up to where I remember having read something, and I just re-read.

And if I find I’m getting pulled off in all sorts of different directions by a lot of conflicting distracting thoughts — or my head is going nuts with thinking about a ton of different stuff that’s related to what I’m reading and builds on it further in new directions — I just take a break. Or I write things down for future reference.

Now that I’m reading again, and I’m retaining it — or at least have the sense that I’m comprehending what I’m reading — it’s all I want to do. Read and write. And share.

My presentation at that community gathering went extremely well, last week. I nailed it, I do believe. And I am looking forward to doing more public speaking in the future. It really gives me a lot of energy, to stand in front of a room of people and present on something I know about. I get so excited about it, and others pick up on my excitement, as well. It’s really gratifying to share what I know with others — and to realize that I can actually do this.

It’s massive progress, compared to where I was just a few years ago. A few years ago, I was so deep in muddling through the disconnects in my brain, that I could not begin to even think of doing public presentations. I had done presentations at work in the past before my fall in 2004, and they went well, but I never actually thought much of them. They were just one more blip in the sea of churning input and data that made no sense to me and had very little rhyme or reason. After I fell, my thoughts became so disorganized, the idea of getting up in front of anyone and speaking — even according to a script — turned into an impossible prospect.

It’s taken years, but I am finally past that. Even better, I am really presenting and interacting with my audience — not just talking to a script and getting the hell out of the room as quickly as possible. I spent much more time last week on taking follow-up questions and discussing my presentation with people after the meeting, than I did actually making the presentation. And that’s a HUGE sign of progress for me.

HUGE.

I was able to not only present, but also really flow with it — improvise when I came to a slide and I couldn’t remember the exact words I intended to say. I had intensely practiced my presentation a lot over the past days, and I had practiced recovering from flubbing up many times, too. So, I was able to keep going. After all, whatever I said that seemed “wrong” in my head, was perfectly fine with everyone else, because they didn’t know what I was “supposed” to say, and the things I did say were relevant to the discussion.

After the presentation, we had Q&A, and I took a bunch of questions. Probably about five or six. And I did them so well, that the questions kept coming and they had to cut me off, to make room for everyone else. I was able to then sit down and pay attention to what the other speakers were saying — there were two that followed me. I didn’t let anxiety about how I did distract me. I didn’t sit there and fret about whether I did well or not, what I remembered, what I forgot, and those places where I stumbled and messed up. I just let it go, and I moved on to the next experience, trusting that I had done my best and it was perfectly fine.

After the meeting, I chatted with a number of folks, who had interesting things to say and some useful information to share.

It was a good meeting, it was a fantastic experience. And I am really looking forward to more opportunities to speak in public.

What a hoot. When I think back to five, six years ago… there is no way I felt that being a public speaker was in reach for me. No way. I dreamed about it, I thought about it, but I didn’t actually have the sense that it would ever truly happen for me. I was too caught up in my issues, too muddled, too confused, too insecure and frazzled by everything life threw at me. There was no way I would have guessed at the time that I’d actually be standing up in front of a room of 70 strangers, talking about something that meant a lot to me.

I had actually tried to do that sort of thing, several years before. I think it was not long after I had fallen and got all jumbled up. I actually had a pretty successful presentation, but the whole experience was so overwhelming for me, I effectively went “underground” and never dared venture forth again. There were too many people, there were too many questions, there was too much energy. I just couldn’t deal. At all.

This time was nothing like that. It was the complete opposite.

And it feels like a stepping-stone to the next stage for me… a gateway to what else is possible in my life. I have a new direction, I have a new sense of what I’m truly capable of, and with my new job and new schedule, I can truly take the steps I need to take, to move in a different direction with my life, at a pace that suits me — not that’s dictated by the outside world.

It’s all good.

Onward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Being all here

Right here, right now

Fog Factor Today: 70% with-it

I’m 70% “with-it” this morning – I got 7 hours of sleep last night, which is pretty good, considering my recent track record, and I woke up without an alarm. I’m doing better about heading to bed when I need to, rather than staying up to watch a little late-night talk show joking around, as I often do. The really funny people come on around 11 p.m., which is when I should be in bed.

Last night, I peeled myself away from the television and headed off to bed at 10:45, which is real progress for me. And although I felt like staying up and reading and keeping my brain in motion, when I got into bed and relaxed, I was too tired to do anything else.

I simply slept. Through the night. And woke up feeling pretty danged good, if I say so myself.

So, that’s progress. It’s been hard-fought, but I’ve done it. Yeah.

It’s a start.

I really didn’t feel like exercising this morning, but then I realized that I was lying in bed checking Facebook, when I could have been riding the exercise bike and checking Facebook, so why didn’t I just get up? So, I did, and I rode for 10 minutes and 2-1/2 miles — pushing myself a little harder at the end, without too much of a worsening headache. I also did my knee exercises while my coffee brewed and my egg cooked up. I worked on my balance while I did those exercises, and I realized that my balance is much better than it was, just a few months ago. Something is working better.

I’m feeling pretty good this morning, Fog Factor not withstanding. I’ve been fighting off a cold for a few days, and it felt like it was getting the better of me, first thing this morning. Now, though, it feels like it’s backing off, so that’s good.

Unfortunately, I’m probably not going to feel this great for another couple of weeks. I’m going on another business trip this coming week. Then comes the jet-lag. Then comes the pretending that I’m not jet-lagged. Then comes the extra work in the midst of jet-lag and meetings with people who speak other languages than me, and figuring out how to navigate the world far from my home. Last trip, I fought it tooth and nail, melted down over the prospect of going, and I had a really rough time just prior to going.

This time, I’m doing better at accepting the situation and seeing what I can get out of it. I’ve got a much better attitude, and I can see some saving graces.

It’s just tough, having to uproot myself for all this time… and then have to struggle through the return with the bone-crushing fatigue and disruption to my sleep schedule.

The good (no, great) part is, this will probably be my last big trip for quite some time. Just like last year, and the year before, we have to travel a few times at the beginning of the year under stupidly demanding circumstances. I consider it a test by management to see how on-board we are with their authority, and to test us about how much we’re willing to sacrifice for the team — pretty much a stupid-ass macho display of strength. woo. effing. hoo.

Rant alert: Let’s see who can put their family through the most hardship during the months when things can be the toughest at home — especially for folks who live in snowy areas — and let’s see who can show up at work the most bright-eyed and busy-tailed. Like I said, a bunch of macho crap — aging warhorses who feel the need to exert their authority over the minions. 

I hope they feel good about themselves. /End Rant

But those displays of uber-capability don’t usually last long, because – you know what? – hauling staff all over creation is expensive, especially with air travel and accomodations as pricey as they are today, so corporate predictably put the kaibosh on that. Serves ’em right. Of course, there will be eager little keener brown-nosers who will suck up and “do whatever is necessary” to book more miles and hot-foot it all over the world throughout the course of the year. Congratulations. Bully for you. You win the prize for Most Cooperative and also Most Gullible. If you think for a moment that you won’t get tossed aside if you prove un-useful to the overlords, you have another thing coming.

Once upon a time, I was a Believer, too. And I found out what that gets you, if you aren’t vigilant or evil enough to beat the bastards at their own game.

It’s sad, really. I hate to see other people find out the exact same thing. And here I am counting down the hours till I have to go — 31-1/2, right about now.

But I’m making the best of the situation, which is progress. I’m not harboring any illusions that I’m going to be able to magically transform my life through abject obedience to task-masters, and I’m going to just enjoy things as they are, for what they are. I’m going to get what I can out of the circumstances, having some thorough travel experiences, and learning what I can along the way. It’s all a learning opportunity, resentments aside. It’s a chance for me to step outside my everyday life and see what I can make of things. It’s not going to be forever. So, I might as well enjoy it now.

I’m just going to BE here — all here. And see what comes of it. The older I get, the more precious life is to me. Everyday life. Boring old life. Regular life. It’s just so fascinating, the more I know about what all goes into making it everyday and boring and regular. It’s not run-of-the-mill at all. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

So, in pursuit of my own miracles, I’m getting myself set up properly, so I have all the tools to make the most of my trip. I have a checklist I follow for what to take, and what NOT to take. The last time I went, I did not take my personal tablet, because A) I didn’t have a keyboard for it, so I thought it would be of limited use to me, and B) I didn’t think I’d need it. I was wrong on both counts. I could have really used my tablet on the last trip, if only to do some personal work and have a connection with my own world, where I didn’t have to rely on my work-issued devices for contact with MY world.

I learned my lesson from that experience. It was so dreary and limiting, to not have any personal contact with my world, but to have to go through my work devices for everything… to not be able to blog or look at my personal email, to have to work around all the policies and limitations on personal use of work equipment.

This time, I am taking my own personal tablet with its new keyboard. I am going to spend time writing and also collecting notes and observations from my travels. I’ll have time at the airport and on the plane to do some reading and writing, which is good. It’s all good.

I have really noticed that since I’ve gotten back to reading, I am feeling much better about myself and my life. Ironically, having a way to escape the pressures of the day-to-day makes me feel so much more better about tackling those pressures. Even if I just read for a little bit each day, it soothes me and it gets me out of my own head.

Writing helps me, as well, because it gives me some distance from my “problems” and it helps me put things in perspective. It also helps me organize my thoughts — I can tell a huge difference between how I was processing information five years ago, and how I’m processing it now. I’m much better at staying on topic, and I’m much better at getting some distance. When I can’t get distance, I end up running away from everything in my mind, distracting myself and keeping myself busy and occupied with any old crap that comes along.

By giving me a way to think through my life in an organized fashion, this blog has helped me tremendously.

It keeps me involved in my own life, as I think through the details of my life.

It keeps me all here.

So, today, it’s steady-on. I have a short list of things I need to do, to prepare for my trip. I’ve already done a bunch of things to prepare, so I have a more civilized approach this weekend. If I get some of these little to-do items out of the way, first thing, then I can kick back the rest of the day and just relax, which is cool. This is my new thing – doing things ahead of time, so I have big chunks of free time later on, when the Must-Do items aren’t hanging over my head. I have been a chronic procrastinator for a long, long time, but now I “get” the value of clearing my plate and clearing my slate, so I have free and open space to think and just BE.

Heck, I may actually be able to take a walk later today and really get my blood pumping. The woods are a little mucky right now, so I’m probably not going to go for a hike, but I can definitely get out on the back roads. And wear my bright red coat when I do, because it’s a little gray today, people don’t always pay attention when they drive around here, and I don’t want to blend in with the mid-winter gray landscape.

So, yes. Onward. I’ll go take care of those odds and ends, and have the rest of the day to myself. My spouse is going on another business trip today, so I’ll be flying solo. It will give me time to relax and sleep and clean up some of my work clothing, and maybe even watch some Kung Fu movies this evening while I have dinner. I haven’t watched any Zatoichi movies on Hulu since I was violently ill with the flu, this time last year. I miss just lying around, watching tales of the Blind Swordsman without a care in the world.

Today is a day when I can dispense with my cares and just go about my business. I may do some business preparation for my trip, or I may not. I have a presentation I need to refine, so I may work on that. And I have an internal newsletter to write, so I may start drafting that.

Or I may not. We shall see.

As I was saying… onward.