Ha! No sooner do I say I’ll be blogging more regularly, than I drop out of sight

merry go round with city in background

Think of that promise as me being on a merry go ’round and waving as I ride by… then I disappear for a while. I wanted to do better, I really did. But then life happened.

But I’ve dropped out of sight for a reason. I’ve been traveling for the past three weeks – one week for a business trip, two weeks for a working vacation with my spouse. This weekend will be the first I’m able to sit down with some uninterrupted time to blog (and think) in nearly a month. I was intending to spend time blogging over the past two weeks, while my spouse was busy at their conference, but it turned out they needed a lot more help than I’d anticipated. So, I spent most of my time taking care of them.

It takes me quite some time to get myself ready for my business trips, with all the coordination with my fellow travelers, not to mention setting up meetings with people where I’m going. And I have to get my spouse squared away with their needs and requirements, making sure they have the right food and medication on hand, making sure they have their time scheduled properly for when I’m away, and doing everything up front that I normally do while I’m home.

Nobody at the office seems to realize how much work it is to go on these trips. They all act like it’s no big deal, but it’s so much more effort and attention for me.

And when I travel with my spouse, it’s even more demanding, because they have a lot of special needs, and I have to ensure that they’re totally taken care of. Sometimes I “nail” it, sometimes I don’t. Usually, it’s a mix. And then I have to scramble all the more to make up for my misses, during the trip.

Long story short, it takes A LOT for me to travel. But I do it anyway.

And now I’m back. With lots of amazing insights from the past three weeks.

I’ll be able to say more later. But for now, I’ve gotta got get some food in the house and catch up on my sleep.

It’s good to be back home again.

Onward.

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A little more coffee, then I’m on my way

coffee and notepad and pen on a tableThis is pretty much how my morning looks – me with a cup of strong, black coffee and a notepad with a pen to write down what I’m supposed to be doing, this morning.

Under normal conditions, I’m usually out and about by this time (it’s nearly noon). But today is different. I’m more tired than normal, and I have a lot of catching up with myself to do from this past week.

Reading… blogging… organizing…

Getting myself together for the rest of the day, which will be all about getting my spouse together to go to the even they’re hosting tonight. It’s a lot of work. There’s a lot to remember. I don’t feel up to it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be done.

I need some motivation. Something to perk me up.

Then again, I think just resting tonight, spending time in my own home in solitude and peace is probably motivation enough. It’s been months, since I had any time to myself. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like.

Almost, but not quite.

I think tonight, I’ll spend some time organizing my study. I have a whole room with books and workspace(s) for myself, but I’ve taken to using it just as a storage area, where I put things I don’t want to think about anymore. That’s gotta change. For sure.

So, I’ll do that tonight. It’ll be a really good use of time.

And now, out I go into the world today. It’s cold and windy and clear, and I have trash that needs to go to the dump. Recycling, too. And I’ve got to run to the store to get some supplies for tonight. It’ll all get done. I just need to rouse myself and get my act in gear.

Off I go… list in hand…

Onward.

Up early, time to breathe.

This isn’t exactly what I’ve got at work… but my own space isn’t bad at all

I woke up early today and have had some time to catch up with myself. I gave a friend some feedback on their resume (which someone had prepared for them — and very badly, too). I hope it helps – they are not in a good position at work, and they haven’t been challenged for quite some time. They need to make a move, but they can’t do it with a resume like the one they got from the “consultant” they hired.

Augh! Frustrating!

Anyway, I’ve had an hour and a half to just take care of some things, which feels good. I had hoped to start Monday out on a steady note, but my plans got hijacked. Yesterday turned into a whirlwind tour. I had no meetings till 9:30, but I had to run some errands before work, and I barely made it to my meeting on time. And my cube move got all mixed up. I was supposed to have everything in place by 8:30 yesterday, but the facilities folks didn’t even have me on their schedule – until they checked again, which I asked them to do. It took till early afternoon, and then I had to retrieve some extra cables from my old space, because the person who just moved out, took theirs with them.

By the end of the day, everything was settled, and that’s fine.

So yes. I got my new cubicle at work – it has a window, and it’s in a quiet spot. I feel like I hit the jackpot. Now I can set up my workspace as a little sanctuary at the office. In the past, I have not valued my workspace enough, and I just used it as a “holding pen” for my stuff.

Now I see things quite differently, because it is, after all, where I spend most of my waking hours. And I’m starting out on the right foot, putting a lot of thought into the space and how I want it to be. How I want it to feel.

I’ve got some plants I had at my other job(s), and I’m going to get more. It needs some life and light. I’m also going to get some pictures I used to have up. I’ve already got a cool laptop wallpaper of a place I’ve traveled to before, so that’s good. I need a side chair. Maybe I can order one.

I know it’s not forever, and I may be moving at some point on down the line, but for now, I want the space to really be somewhere I want to be, each day.

The great thing is, I’ve had time to think about it, today. I didn’t go to the chiropractor yesterday after work. I just went for a swim. It’s so much better. When I see the chiro – or acupuncturist or massage therapist or even my neuropsych – I feel a bit off-balance for a day or two afterwards. It’s helpful at times, but other times I just need to take a break from all the WORK.

I’m going to back off on my appointments each week. I think I need to discontinue with the chiro, because it’s so time-consuming and the benefit doesn’t offset the cost the way it used to.

It’s just so nice to… relax…

 

Picking and choosing

How you like them apples?

I have a lot of paperwork to fill out, these days.

The car accident and totalling the vehicle means there are police reports and vehicle inventories to assemble and respond to.

I don’t have time to slog through everything, so I’m picking and choosing what I’m going to concentrate on, and stick with that.

I’ve also canceled some of my appointments this week, and I will likely cut down on the number of appointments I have in the future.

I need the free time more than I need the caretaking.

And frankly, I’m getting tired of all the talking and sorting things through.

I’ll keep my network chiropractic appointments, because that’s really helping me a lot, but the rest of them… driving all over creation to get to these places which may or may not be helpful? I dunno.

Plus, it’s really starting to piss me off, that my neuropsych is — still — so oblivious to what’s really going on with me. It’s like they made up their mind about me, way back when, and nothing has changed. I’m really getting tired of having to explain myself all the time.

How would it be, if I could just get home at a decent hour, instead of late-late, several times a week?

It’s been a long winter. I need a break.

Onward…

Good-bye, precious time…

Time for a walk

We “lost” an hour today. It’s my least favorite experience in the world, almost. I need my hours,and I need my sleep, and when the clock “springs forward”and deprives me of a precious hour, that doesn’t make me happy.

Oh, well.You’d think after all this time, I’d be used to it. I’ve had 40-some opportunities to practice.

But it’s still no easier than it was last year.

Or is it? Actually, I think it is. I’ve accepted the fact of the experience. I’m not fighting it. I’m just kind of resigned to the whole thing — which seems to be where my head is at, these days — resignation and acceptance of basic unpleasant facts of life and the urge to just hole up somewhere and putter around my house, hammering the odd nail and painting the odd wall.

Back beforem y fall in2004,I was totally into fixing up my house. It came in move-in ready condition, so not a lot had to be done, but there were still somethings that needed to be tended to. The insulation in the attic had to be replaced. I did that. The walk-up to the attic needed a door built to keep the warm air downstairs and the cold air in the attic. I did that. The basement needed shelves and organization, and there were some things around the outside of the house that needed fixing. I did that, too. It was a big part of my life and who I believed myself to be.

A homeowner.

A weekend construction/remodel warrior.

I was really proud of that, and I dove into being a part of the community around me, joining a board in town and chatting with the neighbors while doing yard work.

After I fell, all that went away, and I disappeared into a haze of confusion and anxiety. I couldn’t interact with people, I couldn’t understand what they were saying to me, I couldn’t remember what we were talking about. And I couldn’t figure out what to fix on the house. So, things went slowly south… which brings me to where I am now, fixing things that I let go for the past 10 years or so.

Anyway, now I’m back, and I’m feeling much more like the person I want to be. I’m tired a lot, and I don’t have the same kind of spark around it, that I used to, but at least that part of me is back. And it’s good.

I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to come around.

But I guess that’s just how much time it takes, sometimes. And frankly, I’m lucky that I’ve come around at all. Make no mistake — I have worked my ass off, and I have made recovery from TBI a top priority in my life, pushing so much else out of the way. So, it’s not all luck. But in some cases — like the fact that I live within an hour’s drive (on a good day) of a major city with top neuropsychological care — I did get lucky.

What would I have done, had I NOT been near a city? What would I have done, had I NOT seen this neuropsych for all these years? I would have started this blog, anyway, and who’s to say I wouldn’t have come just as far? Having someone to talk to, who knows about TBI and its after-effects has certainly been helpful. At the same time, there’s the internet, and there’s Give Back with their Give Back – TBI Self-Therapy Guide which really got me going in the right direction. So, who can say?

All I know is, it feels like it’s been way too long for me… and I’m more eager to get back, than I’ve got energy for. It takes time — it takes a lot of time — to get on the good foot again, and it can be terribly frustrating.

Funny, things didn’t used to feel this difficult, way back when.

Because they weren’t. Now, it seems as though everything is harder. And I guess it is. Oh, well.

I really need to get out of the house. I worked indoors all day yesterday, and I’ve been cooped up at work at a desk, head-down, doing crap that’s piled up because people have left the company, or are leaving, or don’t feel like doing their job because their friends are going away. Sigh.

I need a break from the compulsive busy-ness (I may write a little rant later about bosses expecting their direct reports to be just as neurotic as they are… or I may not). I need to take a long walk.

Finish my coffee.

Put my coat on.

Hit the back roads, taking whatever time I can.

Onward.

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.

Nice.

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.

Onward.

Another fasting day today

A day without food means a day with more time, more focus, more clarity

Today I fast again. It’s been about a month, and I’m feeling like I need to focus my energy more, instead of building my day around breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have a lot that I want to get done, and the whole hunger-tyranny thing is getting in my way.

I spend way too much time during the day, thinking about where my next meal is coming from. I have no shortage of nutritious food around me. All I need to do is buy it and/or prepare it. I don’t eat a lot of junk food, and my diet is fairly limited, because that’s what’s healthy for me.

But I find myself spending an awful lot of time thinking about food, planning my meals, and thinking about what I’m going to eat in a few hours. I spend too much time thinking about whether or not I’m hungry, what I should eat, how much I should eat, and

It just takes up too much of my time. And I have way too much to do, to spend a lot of time frittering away my hours thinking about… food.

Plus, I have a fairly easy day today — no long commute, because I’m working remotely, and I don’t have a ton of critical meetings today. I have a fairly balanced schedule, and I should also be able to get a nap in there, somewhere. Just a short one. On the new bed I’m getting delivered today.

I’ve been sleeping on the same mattress and box spring since 1989. I know. It’s crazy. 25 years is way too long to be sleeping on the same bed. It also dates back to my first marriage, which was pretty much of a disaster, so it will be good to get it out of the house.

Why didn’t I do this before? Simple. Money. Beds are expensive, and frankly I like the old style mattresses better than the new ones. There’s been a sort of comfort in the familiarity, to tell the truth. And it’s been years since I had any association between the mattress and my first (failed) marriage.

So yeah… time. Fasting to save the time of planning meals, eating, and then digesting. Fasting to get my head back on straight. Fasting to get free of the impulses that drive me by instinct and reflex… getting out of the reactivity, and into deciding for myself what I will feel and think and do.

I applied for a job today with one of my old employers. I was with them for over 10 years, total, and they’re the place I worked when I fell in 2004 and had that TBI that really screwed me up. I wasn’t able to hang in there with them for more than a year after my brain injury, and that’s where things really melted down for me. I went back and worked for them, a few years ago – just prior to my current position. I was still on the mend — it was five years ago, that I was back with them again for about a year.

I had a mixed experience with them, the last time I was there, and I was happy to leave. But the past four years have been unbelievably trying for me, in this new position, and even though I have really made great strides in my recovery, I wouldn’t mind going back to a company that has a clue. The company I’ve been with for the past four years has a long way to go before they’re worth working for. It started out okay, then the restructurings started to happen, and now they’ve tipped even closer to useless.

Of course, in a world where people just move on ever few years, who the hell cares about whether things will work properly in the long run?

That’s the mindset I’ve adopted, lately. It’s a little sad, that I’ve just let go of the idea of staying there. I do enjoy the people I work with — somewhat. Mostly, the appeal of my teammates is that they are familiar to me. I don’t absolutely hate every single one of my coworkers, which is a plus. A handful of them, I enjoy talking to. But I don’t seek them out for company while I’m at work. Ironically, I have a better rapport with people I don’t work directly with — who I know from socializing in line at the cafeteria or getting coffee or water in the employee lounge.

And to be honest, if I never saw most of these people again in all my life, I wouldn’t care. I just wouldn’t. I don’t miss the ones who have moved on, and I can’t imagine I’m going to miss many of them when I move on. I’m not even sure why I bother with most of them on Facebook.

Anyway, I’ll get what I can out of the experience I’m having, and quit worrying about the change that comes along with finding a new position in a new place.

I just figured something out that can free me up to move sooner than I’ve been expecting to, and that really takes a load off my mind. Getting more flexible with my thinking… that’s a good thing, for sure.

That’s one of the things that fasting does for me — it gets me thinking along different lines. It gets me out of my comfortable routine — if only for a day. And it frees up the energy and time I’d usually spend spinning my wheels about meals, to think about other more important things – like my next steps. It clears my head — all the junk gets sorted into separate piles, and I’m not on autopilot like I usually am. And that’s good.

So, the day is waiting for me to step up.

Onward.

Fantastic night last night

Beautiful moonlight

What a beautiful night it was, last night. The moon was full and casting bring shadows across a quiet earth… beneath a starry sky. On nights like last night, I’m glad I live in the country – I have lived in cities about half my life, and while there is much beauty to be seen there, too, there’s nothing like a full moon night in the silent wintertime.

And it isn’t even officially winter, yet.

I didn’t get to bed as early as I was hoping to. I had a late night at work, and I only finished up a little after 10, so small wonder it took me a few hours to wind down. I actually did well, under the circumstances, and I got in bed a little before midnight. I was up a little after 6 a.m., so I got about six hours of sleep, which could be better. But I’m working from home today, so I can take a quick nap later on.

I’m still feeling the burn from the weekend’s work, and I’m taking it easy with the early-morning exercise. I just need to keep moving today, to keep from getting locked up. I actually have a good mix of things I need to do, including a few out-of-the-house errands.

So, things are good today. Not perfect, but still working out.

I’ve got a nice block of free time coming up this coming weekend. My spouse is going to be away working pretty much all weekend, so I have uninterrupted time to focus on some projects I’ve had going. I’ve needed to do a number of things, but it’s been slower going than I expected. Everything seems to take sooooo loooooonnnnnggggg with me, at times — much longer than I plan and anticipate. So, that kind of takes a bite out of my self-confidence. And I feel like an idiot – even more than usual.

I know I bulk up on a lot of things to do — I do that on purpose to put the pressure on, because I work better under pressure. But it also sets me up for failure, just about every day. So it’s a balance. I guess the thing I need to do is really take the time to savor the times when I get things done, and get them done right. I tend to bounce from one activity to the next, just taking my successes and little victories in stride, rather than really stopping to enjoy them.

It will be good to have the time to myself, this weekend. It will give me time to think. Or not think. I’ve been dogged by a sense that I’m not nearly as sharp as I wish I were, and I have to struggle with a lot more things than I would like to. Nobody likes to struggle with things, I’m sure, but it seems like some things should be a lot simpler than they are. It’s so convoluted. I think I have things figured out, then I find out I don’t. And I have to start from scratch again.

It can be exhausting. The daily discovery that I didn’t get it right… again. Or that I was completely wrong in my thinking… and I have to try again. Can’t I just get it right the first time… just once?

Well, anyway. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who feel this way. I just get depressed when I think about it. So, my solution is to not think about it — just keep going. And try to get plenty of rest in the meantime, so I don’t wear myself out with all my mental concern.

Maybe that’s the key for me, to stay happy and healthy and productive — not think so much about things, and use the energy I have to keep trying, keep refining, keep growing. I can’t just sit and noodle about things all day — that in itself is depressing. I have to use my energy — the anxiety, the sadness, the frustration, the anger — as a source of fuel for my life. Keep going, keep growing, keep moving. And not stop to think about what it means in the grand scheme of things, or let it take on qualities that make it seem like it’s depression.

Now that I think about it, this seems to be the key for me — it’s what works best for me, and it’s what has made it possible for me to function at my best for so long: using the energy I have for positive, productive activities, rather than for negative ones. I mean, seriously — I have so much frustration and anxiety and anger and nervousness, if I don’t do something productive with it, it all just eats me alive. And that’s no good.

Last night, before I stopped in to get food for dinner, I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and started to cry. All the frustrations of the day, the energy, the conflict, the upheaval that’s going on now (with yet another re-org on the horizon) was getting to me. Big time. And I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I started to feel really sorry for myself, becoming angry at my spouse, my family, my employer, my co-workers, my neuropsych, my bank, and myself… and feeling like the whole world was against me, and there was no way I was going to dig myself out of the abyss of money troubles and job troubles and pain that have dogged me for over 45 years.

It has never, ever been easy for me, and nobody seems to really appreciate just what I have to go through each day. Nobody can see my issues, most people don’t seem to believe I actually have them. And if I told anyone about what’s really going on with me, they’d probably be shocked and dismayed.

And last night, it all just welled up and got the best of me. I couldn’t see past my immediate troubles — even though things are really turning around for me — and all I knew was trouble, struggle, and pain.

This morning, I can’t say that that’s changed. People are still clueless about my situation — but that’s how I want it to be. I don’t want people to pity me, to feel sorry for me, or give me special consideration because of what I’m experiencing. I need to be fully functional, regardless, and I need to just get on with my life. Even if it hurts. Even if I’m foggy and out of it. Even if I feel like I’m going to fall over, or the lights are too bright or the noises are too loud. I need to keep moving, even if I’m tired. I can’t live any other way. There’s just no point. I need to do constructive things with my life. I need to be active, even if I am in pain and hurts like hell just to stand up and walk across the room.

I’m not sure my life is worth living, if I can’t do the kinds of things I feel compelled to do. That’s what makes me who I am, and if I’m not myself, then who the hell am I? And what the hell is the point?

Well, anyway, enough navel-gazing. It’s time to get on with my day and use some of this energy for something productive.

Onward.

 

Spending time on the things that matter most

Time flies – Use it well

It’s turning out to be a beautiful day. I got to bed early last night — around 10 — and I was up at 5:30, after lying in bed resting (and observing my head getting going) for about half an hour. I’m working on getting myself out of bed whenever I am awake (or my head is awake) and not just lying there. I did try to focus on my breathing and just relax, which was fine, but my head was up and ready to go… so up I got, too.

Then I had some breakfast — not the kind of big breakfast I had been building up to over the past months… somehow my portions were getting a little bigger each week, and I was starting to drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning, instead of one. Yesterday, when I cut back and just had a small cuppa joe and an apple, I actually felt really great all morning — started to get a little antsy around lunchtime, and then was increasingly on edge by the end of the day (pro’lly as much due to running out of steam as being hungry). So, I went with the minimalist approach and kept to a strict 3/4 cup of granola, some rice milk, and a cup of coffee that was not splashing over the brim.

I’ve got two whole days ahead of me — praise be. And I got a whole lot done yesterday. I know, because I sat down with my list after I had my breakfast and looked over the whole slew of things I wrote down that I had to do. Sure enough, I accomplished everything that had to be done — and then some. I exercised… I picked up my package from the post office (alas, it was not the exact item I thought I had purchased, which is actually fine, because now I know what to look out for)… I went to the bank to deposit a check… I went online and moved some money around to cover bills I have had to pay which have not been drawn against my account just yet… I checked on the due date for a very important expense I have coming up in another month or so… I bought a new window fan to replace the one that died in the bathroom… I tended to my lawn and took in the barrel of weeds that I filled up last weekend, and then forgot about so it was standing beside the front porch for the past three days, getting all funky in the hot, wet weather… and then I took my nap. And in between all these things, I also did some research for one of my projects, pricing items at hardware stores and learning my way around towns that are near where I live, but I normally don’t spend much time in.

Not bad for a day’s work. By the end of the day, I was done. Baked at 9:30 p.m., which felt pretty great — except that my spouse was keen on me staying up with them till 2 a.m. watching movies, which is about the last thing I needed. After a testy conversation about how much I need sleep and how I’m not really interested in staying up till 2 a.m. because I really need to keep on a regular sleep schedule, I managed to extricate myself from the living room and crawl into bed for a good night’s rest. I was concerned that I might be too sore to fall asleep, but I had no trouble with that. I did wake up before 5 in a sweat with shooting pains in my lower back and legs (all that bending and standing work on the lawn does a number on me), but when I focused on breathing and relaxing, it subsided, so that was good.

Nothing like starting the day with shooting pains… as much as I wanted to just get up when I woke up, at least this way, I started the day without too much anguish.

And then I had my breakfast… a small-scale, nutritious start that tasted all the better because I went without, yesterday. My 22-hour fasting experience (I had my last food at 10 p.m. the night before, and I ate at 8 p.m. last night) was pretty enlightening, making me quite aware of how much agitation is lurking at the edges of my attention. People I was mad at, situations, circumstances, details that got under my skin… Any number of things were hanging out, waiting to jump into view to get me going. Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of really great things that came to mind to get me going.

I’m sure it’s just bad habits of thought, because I’ve trained myself over years to generate energy by getting pissed off over bad things. I haven’t trained myself (yet) to generate energy by getting excited over good things. So my go-to default for getting my energy going is to find something to get pissed off at, and then think about that till I’m revved up and rarin’ to go.

Not so hot. Is that really how I want to spend my life and time and energy — being pissed off and upset about things? That’s the thought that came to mind yesterday as I was driving around, feeling miffed about this or that or the other thing. I have a three day weekend, and I’m going to spend it dwelling on sh*t? Silly.

So, I spent a fair amount of time yesterday adjusting my attitude and repeating “Hormesis” to myself — which is the principle of using large doses of stressors for short periods of time to build up immunity to them. Things like cold, hunger, fatigue — all these (among others) are things that you can use hormesis to overcome, and when I thought “Hormesis” at times when my patience was starting to wear thin, it calmed me down, because it reminded me why I was doing this — to train myself to just deal. It also reminded me that the stressors I was experiencing at that moment were fleeting and temporary. I would be eating within hours. I was in training. I could take a chill pill, already.

And that worked.

The other thing that worked, was sticking to my list. I’ve been reading about the usefulness of everyday rituals in making certain activities automatic, so you can focus your attention on other more important things. Rituals and automatic activities free up your mind to focus on the finer points of things, rather than the gross logistics of everyday life. I have found this to be very true for myself. Having a morning ritual of rising at a certain time, stretching, brushing my teeth, washing my face and hands in cold water, and making breakfast in a specific order, frees up my mind by not having to think through every single next step I need to take. I don’t have to figure out what’s next. I don’t have to figure anything out. I can let my mind wake up at its own pace, while my body goes about the work of getting started.

Lists do the same thing for me. When I was really struggling with my everyday life, several years ago, and I wasn’t able to start my days without some sort of meltdown or freak-out, I took to making step-by-step lists for myself each and every morning. I had everything planned right down to the amount of time I spent on each thing. Some people acted like I was crazy to be doing that, and they insisted that I didn’t need that “crutch”, but it helped me immensely. It helped me to regulate the details of my morning, and it freed up my brain to relax because I knew exactly what was going to come next.

All I had to do was follow instructions. Easy-peasy. And it helped.

Now I have rituals in the morning rather than lists, but those rituals came out of the list.

Either way, they allow me to focus my time and attention on things that are more complex — and more fulfilling — than the drudgery of “what’s next”.

And that’s a good thing.

Today, I have more items on my to-do list. I have emails I need to read and respond to. I have things I’ve been needing to do, and haven’t gotten to because I’ve been so busy this past week. Some of them are more fun than others, and I need to arrange them so that I have some good rewards after I take care of the less fun things. Some of them are downright nerve-wracking, because they involve some complex thinking and I’m concerned I will screw them up.

Then again, I do have 2 days left in the weekend, so I can take care of some of this tomorrow.

That takes the pressure off. It makes things easier to start, when I take the pressure off.

Speaking of getting started, I guess I’ll get on with my day. I’m up early, so I actually have time for a walk before I start all this. Excellent idea — off I go…

Onward.

Keeping focused

Eyes on the prize

Thank heavens – I actually got eight hours of sleep last night. They weren’t all consecutive – I fell asleep while watching a movie at 9:30, slept till 11:30, then went to bed at midnight and slept till 6:00 a.m. So, 2+6=8, and I’m focusing on that.

I am definitely doing better. I started to obsess about my boss having it out for me, then I started asking Whoever-Or-Whatever to care for and support them, so they can get the answers and the help they need in life. I started to get bent out of shape last night, then I managed to get myself back on track in a good way — and I was able to get to sleep. One of the things I tend to do is “use” agitation and anger to get me going in life — but it backfires on me because I then get all riled and worked up, and then I can’t relax.

But last night I managed to relax. I managed to let it go. And that tells me I’m dong better.

Another thing that tells me I’m doing better, is that I am returning a bunch of library books I checked out last week, intending to brush up on my skills to change jobs. I realized this morning, being rested and refreshed, that I was taking on way too much and casting too wide with my skill-building. I need to stay focused and specialize in the area that I have my greatest strengths, right now — NOT go out and try to acquire new skills where I’m starting from scratch.

I need to be smart about this, and I was not doing that, last week.

So, the library books are going back.

Thank heavens for good sleep. Even one night of increased rest makes such a difference.

So, this weekend I have to laser in on the things I need to do for my job, for my impending change. I have realized that I’ve been frittering away a lot of time doing extraneous things, and I have not done a good job of managing my time or my energy. I have been taking valuable hours out of my weekends to go do things that I could be doing during the week, on my way to or from work. I like to work out at this park that’s a half hour drive from home, but when I do it on the weekends, it takes 2-3 hours out of my mornings to go do it. It’s a least an hour of driving, round trip, plus the hour it takes me to work out, plus any extra time I spend chilling out in the process. I do want to be able to enjoy my life and I do need to work out, but I need to find a better way to use my time, than driving to and from a place that’s actually on my way to work.

Ideally, I will use the time I have on my weekends to do things I can only do at home, and I will do the things that are on the way to work, while I’m on my way to work. I just need to get up a little earlier — or get up at the same time — and focus on incorporating those workouts into my day. They have locker rooms at work, so I can shower and change when I get there. It will work out much better, and I’ll get some really good exercise during the week.

I don’t want to get too obsessive-compulsive about this and “optimize my life” down to every spare second, but some things I’m doing are really sucking up valuable time, and I need to change them.

… Things like getting books out of the library that don’t really serve my primary purpose. I have other books that are specifically about what I need to be studying, not what I suspect I may need to learn.

… Things like driving around and losing time on the road that I could be using in studying and working on my skills, and generally enjoying my life at home while I am able to be at home. If I need to work out, I can do it at home with my weights and exercise bike (which I did this morning).

The poor use of time has got to stop. Poor use of time translates to poor use of energy. So, I’m stopping it.

I can still do all the things I need/want to do. I can still find places for them. I just need to be smarter about how I do it, and I need to understand why.

Yesterday, I sat down and made a list of all the things I need to learn and become familiar with, in order to be a viable job candidate for the positions (and the money) that I want. There is a lot that has happened in my field, since I made this detour into positions that were related to it, but not exactly IT.  And I have some catching up to do. It’s pretty exciting, because a lot of this is stuff I had hoped to be able to do in the past, but the technologies weren’t all mature enough to support these kinds of things. Now the technologies are mature, and we’re able to do more and more — which means I need to learn more and more.

And that’s fine. Because I can.

This is a relatively new thing for me — I mean, it’s a relatively re-newed thing for me. When I fell in 2004, one of the things I lost (temporarily) was my ability to learn new things. Hell, I couldn’t even read, let alone keep my attention on the pages of a book long enough to let things sink in. That’s changed dramatically over the past 7 years… I’m better now than I’ve been in a long time, and it just keeps getting better. It’s very encouraging, and each day I learn even more… it builds on itself.

It’s wild, when I think back. In 2005, when I was dealing with all the TBI fallout and I was sliding farther and farther down into that black hole, I couldn’t figure out how to get from A to B to C. Let alone from A to Z. My sequencing was all messed up, and I could not figure out the most basic things, like the orders of instructions and how to use new programs. That’s a problem, when you work with computers. You have to constantly learn how to use new programs. But I was so out of it and so turned around, I was all but useless.

Even up until a year ago, I was still struggling with figuring things out — and it really showed at work. I would get so turned around and confused about how to do things, and then I would sit and struggle with them, thinking that there was something really wrong with me that I couldn’t figure things out. This wasn’t just me thinking it, either — plenty of other people gave me sh*t for not being instantaneously able to decipher new and unique stuff. It’s been very trippy, looking back on the things I did in the past two years, realizing how I just wasn’t clued into how things worked, and I was just pushing through, making the best progress I could under the circumstances, and totally clueless about why people were getting so upset with me. And they were getting really upset with me, because there were a lot of things I was struggling with, for no apparent reason — at least no reason apparent to them.

Now, I really feel like I’m doing much better. I’m more flexible than I was in the past, and I’m more actively engaged in problem-solving situations. I still have my problems dealing with a lot of my co-workers, who have their own issues (their issues are more motivational, than logistical — what I lack in native smoothness, they lack in will and desire). But I’m a lot more clued into what’s going on around me, than I was before.

It’s interesting — talking to my neuropsych, they seem to think that my issues are really based in stressing over things and being hard on myself. They tell me there’s nothing wrong with me. It’s kind of them to say so, yet I can tell a real difference between how I function now and how I functioned before. They are fond of telling me that my perception of my abilities in the past was probably a bit flawed, and I had an inflated sense of my own abilities.

Maybe, but I can still tell a big difference between how clueless I feel now, how much I just kind of muddle through, and the smoothness and fluency of my past abilities. That subjective experience is very important, no matter how much my NP tries to reassure me that there’s really nothing wrong with me. I appreciate their eagerness to reassure me. I think it’s helped me to really overcome a lot that I might have given up on, had I been convinced that I was permanently damaged and was never going to completely “recover”.

However, I have a very different perception and personal experience, and that has told me loud and clear that I have some areas to work on. My NP doesn’t seem to understand that my focus on fixing what is less than perfect is not because I’m down on myself — it’s because I truly believe that I can — and will — improve. But I can’t fix something if I am not aware that there’s an issue. So I have to keep an eye out for issues.

It’s like with Give Back – paying attention to brain injured moments, and focusing on fixing them. That’s my preferred approach, but my NP seems pretty intent on steering me away from focusing on what’s going wrong… and getting me to pay attention to what’s going right. I can see their point — it is so important to focus on what’s right and make the most of that — and replicate the experience. At the same time, though, it’s also important for me to see the areas where I’m coming up short and work through them.

I’ve gotten away from that over the past couple of years, and while it has been helping me to calm down and chill out and take the edge off… as well as improve my sense of who I am and where I fit in the world… it has also kept me from really truly improving in some areas.

And those areas are where I need to focus. Learning. Studying. Doing work properly. Completing my tasks. Delivering my work on time.

So, I still have my work cut out for me. And I need to keep aligned with the direction I’m heading. I have a bunch of stuff I have to do for work, and I have a bunch of stuff I need to do for myself. And I need to keep my strength and resiliency up. I have a plan — to strengthen my skills, find my next job (probably a contract, to start with, so I can get back into that line of work) and start looking for my next career step — another permanent job that is more in line with what I want, instead of this ridiculous treading water, just trying to stay afloat in a raging sea.

Please.

Anyway, the day is waiting and I have a lot of exciting stuff to think about. It’s time to get going, time to get on with my day. I’m feeling really good about this, and each time I sit down to work on my skills, I remember yet again why I got into this line of work — I just love it so much.

And that is good fuel for my focus.