I woke up this morning with an image in my head — a horse tied to a cart, pulling it along. Kind of like this image:
It reminded me of the day I have ahead of me… pulling along the burdens of the company work for, together with all the other folks on my team who are hitched to their respective wagons of family and job and mortgage, and so forth.
It made me feel sad.
And I had a realization:
Even though I have had my share of troubles, even though I do not have a college degree or a “safety net” or a lot of security around me. I am free. I have never placed a huge premium on hitching up to anyone’s wagon, and in fact the expectations of others that I will hitch up to their plans and ideas and schemes (in return for money, respectability, and some measure of safety)… well, I’ve always seen through that. In exchange for money, I lose my freedom.
Kind of like today, when I have to go off to work instead of having time to sit quietly and go about my business.
And I realized — yet again — that I have made just about all my choices in life in order to preserve and protect my freedom — even if that meant I was going to expose myself to danger and not be part of the “gang” of compadres who were on the inside track to success.
So, as I prepare for my day, I’m thinking a lot about how I can really, truly be free. I have to work to make a living, and I have to trade my time and energy for the things that will keep me alive. But I have other things I can do, to keep my spirit alive, and I must remember to do those things.
Whew. I am exhausted. I have been exhausted all week. Last week, too. The weekend was good – but then, I didn’t have to be at work. That’s what’s been so tiring — wrapping up, trying to tie up loose ends, and realizing that the amount of work they gave me and the conditions they had me working under, are stillgoing to keep me from completing everything to my satisfaction and standards.
Which is one of the big reasons why I’m leaving. Maybe the biggest reason of all. That career-killer job is fading into the past — and I feel like I’m out in the West, flying along in a late-model convertible under wide blue skies, racing alongside a miles-long train, the cars all stretching out behind me in my rear-view mirror.
It feels like I’ve been the engine at the front of that train, and to lay that burden down now, is such a sweet relief.
Two more days… two more days… till I am free and clear and don’t have to do that commute, don’t have to work in that space, don’t have to constantly struggle with being the only person who does what I do — which is a critical piece of things, in fact.
Only two more days till I can be free of these particular inexperienced managers, the surly coworkers, the constantly shifting priorities that have dominated my working life for nearly four years. It seems like an eternity. Not four years.
But I only have to deal with these folks and the conditions they create for two more days.
Of course, the next situation I go into will have its share of challenges and problems. For sure. But I don’t have to drive an hour each way to get to and from the madness. And it’s amazing what you can do with some extra sleep — and exercise.
I’ll have more time in the morning, so I’ll be able to add the exercise back in, a couple of days a week. I have been so slammed with doing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, that I haven’t had much room to breathe. Or exercise.
One of the other excellent things about my new workplace is that they are located in a huge, expansive corporate campus, which will give me room to move and breathe. I’ll be able to go out for a walk — and get somewhere. I’ll be able to get away from the office just by walking. No more claustrophobic feeling stuck and trapped.
Again, there are sure to be challenges and issues with the next situation. I’ll just have to roll with it. There are so many aspects of this new situation that suit me better, I can absorb the challenges along the way. No worries.
And I think about where my life can go, now. With extra time. With extra sleep. With extra movement. With a future. The company I’m leaving has absolutely nothing to offer me, that interests me. I’d have to do too much travel. I’d have to put up with too much crap. No way, no how, am I going to do that. It’s just not worth it to me. And too much competition. In my new spot, I’m there on a 2-3 year contract, so politically I’m out of the loop, and I don’t have to worry about who feels a certain way about me, and who doesn’t. I just show up, do my work, show results, and go home.
And get paid for the hours I work, without having the whole bonus thing hanging over my head.
It’s all good. It’s all very, very good.
So, now the challenge for me is keeping focused on the final things I need to sort out before I go. I have a lot that needs to get done, still, and the next 30 hours are going to be quite full. We don’t have a full day of work tomorrow, because of the long weekend, and I’ll be spending so much time saying good-bye to people, cleaning out my desk, etc., that I probably won’t get much done tomorrow, anyway.
So, I really just have one more day to get things together. A day and a few hours…
Unfortunate. But in anther 30 hours, that’s going to fall into the category of “Not My Problem”.
And that makes me very, very happy.
So, what do I need to do in the next 30 hours?
Write down the ways I do things and the urls for tools and sites I use, so others can have them to learn.
Make some videos of things I do, so people can watch how I do them.
Collect all the old emails that could be useful to me in the future, and forward them to myself.
Notify everyone I’ve been in touch with over the past five months that I’m leaving, and who they should contact in my stead.
Finalize some project plans that I’ve been working on.
List any outstanding items that need to be seen to.
Prepare my good-bye letter to everyone and collect all the names of people I need to communicate with.
Make a list of the all the people I want to stay in touch with (including folks who have already left), collect their personal information, and get in touch with them directly.
Do my regular breathing exercises to calm myself down and stay chilled out.
Stretch and maybe take a nap later today. No, scratch that – I just checked my calendar, and there will be no time for that.
I’ve got my hands full. But it’s all good. Today is one last push, where I’m totally focused on what is in front of me, and I’m doing my best to just hang in there while I can. After today… well, that’s it, really.
Then tomorrow at 1 p.m., it’s time to turn in my laptop, phone, badge, and say Adios, Amigas y Amigos!
At 1:15 p.m. tomorrow, it’s on to the next adventure, with three days of chilling out to do the things I love to do, and also prep for my new life. Do some laundry. Iron some shirts.
Which is much more like the old life I used to know, and loved so much.
I’ve got two more days of work before my vacation. A real vacation. I’ve been sick and so has my spouse, so we are staying home and foregoing the Christmas-New Years journey this year. Doing all that driving does not do it for us. Not this year. At some point, you just have to say “enough” and do the most healthy thing, which is Just. Stay. Home.
In the midst of all the national debate on gun control, in the midst of the grief over those 20 kids and 6 teachers who were killed, in the midst of all the talk about how autistic/mentally ill kids need to be locked up, in the midst of it all, I come back to the fact that I really need to take care of myself in all this — and do the things that I know will keep me on solid ground:
Good company and not a lot of “social filler”
Plenty of down/alone time
Good. Just good.
This is the holiday season. A time traditionally devoted to helping those less fortunate and celebrating the Light in our lives. Whether you’re celebrating the lengthening days, or a miracle of Light, or the birth of a carrier of Light, or traditions that enLighten your life, this is a time of reflection and renewal all over the world. Just biologically speaking, it is very much a time of renewal, as the days begin to lengthen again, and spring is literally just a handful of months away. It’s hard-wired into our systems. Our very bodies know, something is changing for the better.
In the midst of all… this, I do remember what matters most to me — staying centered and calm, even when things are going south. I had a bit of a meltdown the other night. I wasn’t feeling well, I’d been “off” all day, struggling with my balance and nausea, and I blew up over some little thing that needed to be done in the kitchen that wasn’t getting done.
I tried to avert it, but it escalated, and it felt like crap. I felt like crap. Everything felt like crap.
I went to bed early, and I woke up feeling a little better. Did the same thing last night, too — went to bed early… and woke up early this morning. I still feel a little “off”, but I am getting used to it, so it’s not so terrible right now. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, so I’m hoping that will help. My ears seem to be better, but I want to get them checked. Now there’s more pain than lack of balance. And pain in my ears is never good.
I sometimes have a hard time detecting when I am in pain, so I sometimes let myself go longer than I should in reporting and addressing these issues. My doctor says I’m a “risk-taker”. I think I just have trouble figuring out how much my system is compromised. I am so accustomed to things being not-right with me — sensitive to sound and light and touch… headache, neck-ache, dizzy, foggy — I have learned to adjust and accommodate and not let it stop me from doing what I need to do. But when I’m genuinely sick, that old habit can get in my way. So, I’ll have to have a talk with my doctor, when I see them tomorrow. I don’t want them to have the wrong idea that it’s a sign of mental issues or deliberate risk-taking behaviors. Seriously, we need to have that talk.
It’s not that I am consciously taking risks. I just don’t perceive risks the same way that others do. It’s just another bit of information my doctor should use to better understand me. And I need to find a way to communicate this to them, that doesn’t make me sound mentally deficient. They already wonder about me, thanks to the TBI info.
Anyway, it’s all a process… an unfolding and evolving process, which isn’t some cut-and-dried step-by-step thing. It’s a winding path through the woods that I have to continually walk, to keep it passable and keep the proverbial undergrowth from taking over. It’s about practice, about tending to the basics, keeping myself on track, day in and day out. It’s about never quitting and always looking for some sign of progress, to keep myself going.
And it’s about taking good care of myself, so I can keep on keepin’ on, so I have the strength and the resources to look for the good and act on it. It’s about not letting the world pull me down and pull me even more off-base than I am already… so that I can think clearly and interact with the rest of the world at my best.
I have a week and a half of vacation ahead of me — just around the corner. Time to relax and rest and unwind… to recharge the batteries and do the things I don’t have time for on in my normal life. Walk in the woods for hours. Read a book I’ve been wanting to read. Work around the house. Clear and clean out some things. Write about what matters to me most, as long as I like each day. Tend to my state of body and mind and spirit. And sleep. Long and deep and often.
There may never be an end to terrible things happening in the world, but that’s all the more reason to take good care… so that I can respond appropriately — if a response is indeed required.