Back again

Back in port…

Okay, that’s done. The meetings are over, the presentations have been presented, the connections have been renewed, and I’m back to my life as I know it. It was good to see people in person, since we do so much work together over email and the phone. It was not so good, being crammed into all those activities with very little time to process it and digest.

Now I have a headache. And I feel sick. I’m not feeling great, and I should probably just take the day off. But I do need to get some things done at the office. Plus, the office is going to be really quiet today, so it won’t be that bad.

I’m just so glad to be back to my regular life. The more I think about it, the more I realize how innately rural I am in nature. The daily ebb and flow of natural cycles, the seasons, the weather, the natural world… all of it keeps me stable and grounded. Spending 4+ days in a conference center was, well, hellish. We didn’t get out much at all. And by the time I left, I felt absolutely deprived and off-balance. Being inside in climate-controlled conditions, without any natural sunlight or fresh air… it felt like an extended indoctrination session, which I suppose it was.

It’s funny – while I was in these meetings, being in the midst of everything, I was not feeling that great about leaving the company in a few months. I was regretting it, actually, by the end of the time. But that was when we were being worn down with the constant go-go-go of the marathon meetings, and then fed and entertained (and some folks liquored-up), which is a great way to inculcate people and establish a pretty stable case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Mind control… hm.

Now that I’m on my own and outside that rarified environment of mental, physical, social bombardment, I’ve taken a break from the corporate psychological warfare. I’m decompressing. And I can’t wait to leave.

I did get some great ideas while I was in those meetings, which was a good thing. And now I need to reflect and integrate. Chill and take care of myself — before the next round of meetings next week. We have more meetings with another division next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am actually looking forward to these more. I have to travel farther to them, but the people I’m meeting with are new – and while I’ve heard a lot about them, I haven’t yet met most of them. Ironically, I’m really looking forward to these meetings, while the ones this past week were just a source of dread for me.

Probably has to do with the size and scope — these meetings will be smaller and more focused on the work I do from day to day. And while the agenda is full, it’s not full of racing around a conference center to get from place to place, making sure I have gathered all my crap and carried it with me (I misplaced my PDA twice, this trip, which I’ve never done before). Plus, I’ll be able to swim after the meetings next week — I couldn’t do that this past week, and I’m definitely feeling the absence. There’s a lake on my way to work, where I can stop and swim on my way in, this morning. Not a long swim – just a quick dip, really.

Man, am I exhausted. I’m just realizing this now. But it’s fine. Because I have an open day ahead of me, and I’m just glad to be getting back to some semblance of routine — including checking in with this blog on a regular basis. Not being able to do this regularly really puts a dent in my daily contentment. I’m back now, though, for the next three days, so I’m feeling much better now.

Thinking about all the trepidation I had about these meetings this past week – a big part of what was worrying me was tied to my physical health. Would I be able to keep up? Would I be able to manage my sensory issues? Would I be able to keep cool, when all the stimuli and the sound and the activity was distracting me beyond belief? All those things happened to me — I was put in a room full of people and we did a “round robin” where we all talked to someone different for 5 minutes, before moving on to the next. The room got progressively louder and louder… it was harder and harder for me to hear. I was really struggling at the end. But I kept cool. I did my deep breathing. I reminded myself that others couldn’t hear and understand as well, either. And the event passed without significant incident.

Same thing with the long sessions I had to sit through. I just got so antsy in that room filled with 100s of people, and I couldn’t follow what the hell was going on. But I chilled. And took intermittent breaks to check my email on my PDA, when there wasn’t something critical on the screen in front of me.

I also paced myself and took breaks when I needed to. I drank a LOT of water — which required regular trips to the rest room. I highly recommend that strategy for anyone who has marathon meetings to go to — drink tons of water, which will keep your brain hydrated, and it will also get you up out of your seat on a regular basis. If I hadn’t drunk all that water, I might very well have sat in place like I was glued there, getting more and more overwhelmed by the experience. I also kept clear of the caffeine and did my usual 2 cups a day — one in the a.m. with breakfast, one later in the afternoon when I was about to fall over.

One of the things that helped, was that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling at times. There were a number of other people who confided in me that they were really struggling, too. The breakneck pace, the constant interaction, the sheer mass of information that was packed into four days… it wore a lot of folks down. So I wasn’t the only one.

There were a couple of things I might have done differently, but in the end, it all turned out okay. I had another extended experience of being able to deal with overwhelming circumstances without losing it. And I came away with a sense of things being, well, okay.

Even if I am leaving the company… even if I am on my way out… it had its productive moments, and I don’t regret going.

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