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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Time for some summer fun

sunflowerWell, it’s been a miserable bunch of months. The past year, actually, has been pretty bad, and I’ve had enough. I’ve come close to quitting my job a bunch of times. Of course, the need to eat and have shelter and support my household has kept me from taking the leap — not to mention realizing just how non-negotiable it is for me, anymore, to be able to work from home.

If I can’t work remotely at least two days a week, there’s no point in even taking a job.

People have reached out to me. I’ve done interviews. I even got an offer.

But I couldn’t work from home, unless there was an emergency, and the commute was just too awful.

What is it with employers, that they don’t understand just how draining it is to work in an office all day long? It makes no sense. Some grown-ups (like me) actually thrive when working on our own. And we get a lot more done when we’re able to concentrate in our own space, than if we’re stuck in some cubicle where people are constantly interrupting, talking, walking by, making noise, and so forth.

I’m as guilty as the next person for doing it. People around me have to deal with my noise, when I’m at the office. But that’s the deal when you’re on-site.

But I digress. As much as I want to quit my job (and I do), I realize that I’m way too tired and stressed to make any kind of decent decisions about what kind of job I want next, where I want to work, what kind of salary I need, and so forth. I’m too worn out. I need a break. So, I’m taking the summer to rest, relax, rejuvenate. I’m overdue for time off. Like, a year and a half overdue.

I’m not in a position to just split for a vacation, but I can change my routine to make it more civilized. Ease up on myself. Quit pushing myself like I have been. Just take some time to take stock of my life, and think about how I’d like things to be. I’m getting too old to be getting constantly sucked into all the ridiculousness that happens, each day. I can’t control what others do, but I can avoid getting too emotionally invested in it.

It’s certainly not worth wrecking my health over the poor choices other people make, day after day after day.

Nah… I’m pretty much done with that.

So, this summer is really about me. Taking care of myself. Actually enjoying myself. And having a summer.

Going for long walks and drives. Roaming around and exploring parts of the world I haven’t seen, yet, even though they’re not far from where my daily routine takes me. Hanging out and enjoying the scenery. Looking around, as I drive to and from work, and really enjoying the scenery.

Taking a big old break from the social media echo chamber, and getting some fresh air.

Ahhhhhh….

I think this is going to be a good summer.

My last decent vacation in a good long time…

open book with a landscape scene in the pages
The way life goes, you never know how things will shape up. I’ve had so many hopes and dreams over the years, and so many times, I’ve been on the verge of really breaking through… then something happened. And that “something” was often a TBI.

I was just getting my act together in elementary school, finding my footing with my peers and getting involved in a special program for “gifted” kids and discovering what worked for me, when I got hit on the head and things changed. I became combative. Difficult. A behavior problem. So much for the gifted program. They showed me to the door on that one.

My family relocated, and I was finally figuring out how to interact with the people around me (who all talked with thick accents I could barely understand). Then I fell out of a tree and wrenched my neck. And I kept hitting my head while playing sports. Football. Soccer. Just playing outside. Hitting my head was routine. I can remember a number of really significant blows to my skull that disrupted my consciousness, but they happened against a backdrop of regular clunks on the head. It seemed like every time I got on my feet and started feeling like I had a grip on my life, I’d get hurt (again), and I’d be back at square one.

I eventually got out of my parents’ house and got on with my life. When I drank a lot, I fell down — a lot. I may have (probably) hit my head a bunch of times, but I don’t remember much from the 4-5 years after I left my parents’ home.  Those years that could have been some of my best (and in some ways, they were). They could have been years of exploration and learning and experience like no other, but instead they were mired in the muck of hangovers and all the confusion that comes from not knowing what happened the night before. A few scrapes with the law… being ostracized by my peers… some violent confrontations… making money by borderline means, just to get by… it was definitely an experience — that’s for sure. But it took me years to recover from the damage I did to myself.

After I was in the working world, driving to work each day, I got in a bunch of car accidents. They weren’t huge deals, mostly just fender-benders, but whiplash and getting clunked on the head didn’t help matters any. During years when most of my peers were getting on their feet, finding their way in the world, I was scrambling. Trying to catch up, after being set back. I got a job, then got hit by a speeding door-to-door salesman. I left that job without saying why. Just left one day and never went back. I relocated to a really great city, but just before moving, I got rear-ended and spent the next several months in a manic haze.

Years later, I had a pretty decent job with a lot of responsibility, then got tangled up in a 7-car pileup, and everything fell to pieces there, too. That worked out okay in the end, because I found a much better job and a completely different career track, but it did a number on my self-confidence, and it caused me to pass up a golden opportunity that my new manager laid at my feet (and begged me to take). I can only imagine how much more stable my life would be now, had I actually taken them up on it.

The last and most debilitating TBI was when I fell down a flight of stairs at the end of 2004. I was just 18 months away from having some investments mature, and if I’d been able to hang in there and keep up with my life, I could have repaired and paid off my house, gotten rid of my debt, and really solved a lot of logistical problems that are the kinds of things that only money will solve. None of that got solved. It all fell apart. And it’s taken me 12+ years go piece it all back together to just a semblance of how things once were.

So, what does this have to do with my current vacation (which is now drawing to a close)?

In the course of my life, I’ve never known just when everything would fall to sh*t. It’s partly me being oblivious, partly me not having a reliable crystal ball that lets me peer into the future. So, all those times when I just assumed I’d have time to do this, that, or the other thing… all those times when I thought I was set… all those times when I didn’t pay attention to what was Right In Front Of Me… in so many cases, they were the last hurrah for that part of my life. The last shred of self-confidence. The last vestiges of feeling competent. The last months of feeling like I could actually plan my future with certainty. The last weeks of being able to take certain things (like how my brain worked or how I’d react to experiences) for granted.

I didn’t savor those things when they happened, because I was too damn’ optimistic. Too oblivious to just how sh*tty life could get for me. Not experienced enough to realize that things could get That Much Harder for me in a moment’s time. I took them for granted. I didn’t wring every last bit of goodness out of them, while the goodness lasted. And now I just look back on a lot of wasted opportunities and chances I totally missed enjoying… all because I thought there would be another time that would be somehow better.

I don’t believe that anymore.

Especially not this morning.

From here on out, my vacations will probably be a lot more work than relaxation, a lot more frustrating than renewing, and a lot less worth it to me. But they’ll continue. Life goes on. Sh*t gets complicated. So it goes.

For today, I’m just going to enjoy myself. Because this might just be as good as it ever gets.

Today I am grateful for…

rocks piled in a balanced arrangement on a beach with the sea behind them
Constructing my gratitude, one piece at a time.

1. Vacation
2. Vacation
3. Not having to go to work
4. Spending a whole week with the love of my life
5. Having enough money to buy dinner, instead of cooking myself
6. Having the time to go exploring
7. Being in a place where I can explore something different, each day
8. Moving at my own pace
9. Not worrying about not exploring *everything*
10. The time and freedom to take afternoon naps – every single day.

I have the next week OFF

beach with ocean and "relax" drawn in the sand
Soon…

I’m leaving for a week’s vacation today. I have a handful of errands to run before we can get on the road, and then we are heading out to a waterfront town that’s full of art galleries and novelties shops and all sorts of great restaurants. We have a few restaurants that we really like, but mostly we avoid the crowds and excitement, buy Mexican or Chinese takeout and head for the beach for our own waterfront dining. It’s the best way — sitting in the car right at the edge of the water, having a nice filling meal that doesn’t cost a million bucks.

It’s going to be nice to get away. It’ll give me time to think, time to relax. I realize that I’ve been stuck in limbo with my life for some time. There’s been all kinds of drama in my immediate and extended family for the past 15 years — actually, longer than that. More like 40 years. And it’s really dragged me down, watching everyone go through their problems — me included.

But now, here I am, at a place in my life where I just don’t feel like I have the time to fritter away on feeling terrible about things that I can just take care of. I’ve learned a whole lot about how to deal with my TBI issues, and I’ve made an amazing recovery. So why not enjoy it?

Why not, indeed? I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I’ve learned more than enough hard lessons, I’ve been through my make-or-break circumstances, and I’ve made it through. I’ve paid my dues. Now it’s time to just enjoy my membership.

It’s funny… I don’t tend to think of myself as that old. I’m really not. But I have been knockin’ around on this planet for over half a century, and I’m kind of over the whole newbie experience. I’m not a newbie. I’ve been around the block plenty of times. And it’s about time I just settled into living my life and enjoying it, instead of constantly pushing myself to “take it to the next level”.

Please. What next level? No matter how hard I work, no matter how hard I push, there will always be another level ahead of me. So, why not just settle in and get the most out of the levels I reach? I haven’t done nearly enough of that over the years. And while it does keep me sharp and invested in my life, it’s also depleting and drags me down.

Eh, whatever. I’m going on vacation. I’ll probably blog a bit while I’m there. Just relax into it, do some writing, have a good time, while I’m at it.

And now… it’s time for more errands, as I prep for my 7-day escape.

Onward.!

Drink water, eat regularly, get exercise, rest

Soon...
Yes.

My sleeping has normalized, at last. After 3 days of vacation, I finally got to bed by 10:30, and I slept till 7:00. That’s progress.

I’ve been getting good exercise, getting out in the mornings to walk the beach or roam around town, and I’ve been able to nap… and relax.

Nice.

It’s really important for me to keep on a schedule. If I’m not, I can get tired. When I get tired, I get cranky. I’ve had to catch myself a number of times, yesterday, to keep from getting “snappy” with my spouse. I hate when I get short-tempered… especially when my spouse needs my help. I seem to get more short-tempered more quickly when they really need my help. That’s the worst time of all. I want to be patient and helpful, but my patience runs out when they are most in need.

That’s something I’m working on. It’s come up drastically in the past, and it weighs on me with the guilt. It was worse when I was first dealing with my TBI stuff and wasn’t getting any help, yet. My spouse had fallen and hurt their back, and I was so angry and confused and turned around, that I just walked up to them, yelled at them, and walked away in a rage. I couldn’t figure out how to handle the situation, and I left them lying by the road in pain.

I’m not proud of that. But I know now it was the TBI that made me do that. I would never do that myself by choice. And I think of that situation often, when they are truly in need of help with something, and I am feeling short with them. I don’t want to be like that ever again. The injury they sustained that day has worsened over time, and now they are nearly disabled by it at times.

I sometimes blame myself for that — especially because I didn’t help them in the following days and weeks and months… as their injury worsened and their back ache spread down their legs to their knees and the whole way to their ankles, but I couldn’t figure out what to do about it — and neither could they.

At least I got some help, when I did. If I had never gotten help, things would be even worse now, I’m sure. But it’s hard to face my own role in making this situation what it is. Fortunately, my spouse is getting physical therapy, but it’s been years since they could walk and move without pain.

Of course, they’re responsible, too, for much that happens in their life. They make unhealthy choices and resist common sense, so it’s not all on me. Still and all, I do feel a responsibility for this situation. And it’s incumbent upon me to manage myself properly, so I don’t pose a risk to them anymore.

I’ve had enough of that for one lifetime.

This vacation is about us being here together. Being a couple again. Being partners again. This is the first vacation we’ve had all to ourselves in a long time — for the past several years, they’ve always wanted friends to join us. But this year, no one can come, so it’s just us. And that’s fine with me. It’s easier for me to take – and it’s more of a vacation for me.

Drink water, eat regularly, get exercise, rest… and reset.

It’s important.

All the artificial timelines and time-outs

Got back last night before 9 p.m. Pretty good, considering we got on the road after 1:00. Driving was good, but this is the last year we’re doing that particular trek. I will save $20/week towards the plane tickets and rental car next year. We’re not doing that marathon drive again.

Both my spouse and I are practically crippled from all that sitting. Yes,we stopped and got out and moved around. But it’s not the same thing as moving – which I will be doing a lot of, today, I believe.

Someone commented here that holidays are invented by men, and it’s true. They are arbitrary assignments of “time off” from the usual grind, to do something different, so we don’t lose our minds from the drudgery and the monotony and the insane political games people play. And the conditions they take place under, only serve to make us glad we’re back in our grind, when we return. I know I’m glad to be going back to work… which is kind of a bizarre idea, since the idea of being cooped up in an office for 8 hours today really makes my skin crawl.

Other than making a living and giving me a chance to interact with people in a structured environment, I’m not sure what purpose it serves. And this is with a job I actually like… after years of detesting my work situations. The whole 9-to-5 thing is old. I know how to do it. I’ve proved I can do it. That’s settled. Time to look into something different.

While driving home, I was fantasizing about just dropping all this and going to live off the land. I think that would solve a ton of problems. Raise my own food, hunt my own game, fish and stock up and save. So long as I have access to a good lake that has fish, as well as a possible trout stream, and I had some space to garden, and a shelter against the elements, I think I’d be fine, actually. I wouldn’t even need to hunt big game. I could live off rabbits, squirrel, fish, and plenty of wild plants. And if I had a fenced-in area, I could also grow plenty of vegetables. If I didn’t have a mortgage to pay, my life would be very, very different, I can tell you that.

But that’s probably not going to happen in the near future. I have time to plan for it, to learn what I need to learn, and  get all my equipment together. For now, though, it’s back to my regular routine, back to going through my days making the best of what I’ve got.

It’s not bad. It’s just not really what I want — which is freedom.

I’ll have plenty of that in the coming weeks, though. The holidays may get crazy for some, but we are DONE with all the travel, and we’re going to have a nice quiet holiday season, getting together with friends. I’m going to have plenty of time to keep up with my sleep, thanks to minimal extra-curricular activities and passing on all the holiday parties and I avoid the malls. I think the holiday madness may actually even pass me by, as I step aside and steer clear of the hordes. I’ve seen the Black Friday videos. Yah, no thanks.

My family obligations are done.

And my little officially sanctioned time-out is done.

Now I can get back to my life and settle back into it. And just let the rest of the world go by, as I construct the life of my choosing.

Onward.

Annnnnddd… we’re back

Stay alert...
Stay alert…

I got home from my week of vacation at 1:00 this morning. I brought in a few essentials, took a long, hot shower, then crashed. The drive home was trippy – I was tired, my spouse was in the mood to dish the dirt on their business partners, and we kept hitting banks of low-lying fog that clouded the windshield all of a sudden.

The weather is getting so that parts of a landscape will be hot from the day, while along rivers and lakes, the temperature will be much lower, so you can be driving along with everything clear, then all of a sudden your windshield fogs up and you can’t tell if it’s from the outside or the inside. My spouse worked with the temperature controls and how far the window needed to be open to offset the temperature changes, while I kept my eyes on the road and sipped my cup of black coffee.

We made it home in pretty good time, and I got to sleep in my own bed. Heaven.

The place we stayed this past week had narrow beds, unusable pillows, thin curtains, and a noisy exhaust fan in the bathroom. None of this contributed to be getting good sleep, but I made do. I spent a lot of time staying up much too late — the stars were phenomenal — and getting up too early, because my body is used to a certain schedule.

So, I spent a lot of time feeling crappy, like I do now, but focusing my attention on the good around me, which helped. It would be nice to have a vacation where I can really, truly relax and feel good, but my spouse’s medical and neurological issues kept me on my toes.

Such is the life of a single caregiver with a “ward” who isn’t fully aware of just how disabled they are. That’s part of the neurology of stroke – and brain injury in general – not really being aware of just how impaired you are, or how you’re not functioning as well as you could be. Since their strokes, almost 8 years ago, they have gone steadily downhill, getting slower and slower, adjusting their expectations ever downward, with what they think they can do, and how they think they should do it. They’re practically disabled, by now — unable to walk for extended distances, but not willing to use a wheelchair, because it makes them look disabled.

I’ve got news for them — hobbling along and having to stop every 10 yards makes you look very disabled. But they don’t see it that way. They see it as working their way along as best they can. And they’re happy to be able to do anything… versus being motivated to do more, because their current state is not satisfactory.

Well, I can’t make myself crazy over it. People have different levels of tolerance, and different skills for things. Some things that I put up with, my spouse would never tolerate. Like being alone so much of the time. Or not running my own business. Those things are non-negotiable for them, and having that type of connection with the world is something they could never go without.

I, on the other hand, am happier by myself.

Anyway, it was a good vacation, and now I have two days to recuperate and take care of my sunburn. I fell asleep in the car when the sun was shining through the driver-side window, and now I’ve got a bright red shoulder and arm and neck on my left side.

So it goes.

Good to be back.

 

 

 

 

Great to get away. Great to be back.

A good long weekend, to be sure.

The weather was phenomenal, and everything went better than expected.

I’m wiped out from the good times, so don’t have much to say now…

other than I am truly a creature of habit.

And as nice as it is to get away, I really really need my routine. Going without for an extended period of time is way too challenging to be much fun, after a while.

Call me rigid, but I know what works for me.

Good to be home.

I am just so tired of all this crap

That’s one approach

Maybe I’m getting old, but all the hullabaloo at work over everything that needs to get done… it’s really getting tiresome.

Lots of work, not enough people to do it. And the people who understand how it’s done are leaving the company, so that leaves it to the rest of us to figure it out. And it leaves it to me to explain.

My mood is low today, because I’m tired. I have a lot going on, this week, and I feel like I’m not keeping up. And the same thing next week. And the week after. And the week after… until July. At every step along the way, there are critical details to keep track of, and to be honest, I’m not keeping up with everything.

I’m not the only one, either. Everybody is being asked to “do more with less”, which gets really old, after a while.

Anyway, things will change in time. Either I’ll get used to them, or they will get better. That’s how it goes with me. Time solves a lot of problems, just by being Time.

And I have to keep in mind that in another six months, this is going to be a past blip on my radar. All the pain and suffering I’m experiencing right now will be behind me. Maybe new pain and suffering will take its place… Yeah, I’m not thinking about that, right now. I’d rather think about my next steps — get my head out of the particular details of my situation and work on my resume, for the next thing to come, a year from now.

Someone asked me yesterday if I would ever sign on with this company full-time. Not for the money they pay and 2 paltry weeks of vacation they offer. I could go back to my old employer and have four weeks, right off the bat. Or I can continue to contract, make1/3 more money than I make as salaried employee, and be free to come and go as I please. That would be preferable.

The money needs to be there. And the time off. I’m not settling for less. There are too many other options out there, and now that my insurance situation has changed (my spouse is on separate insurance which gives them more comprehensive coverage at a fraction of what we were paying before), I don’t have to take — and keep — crappy jobs because of the insurance.

But the day is waiting. Time to wade back into the thick of it.

And think about my future. Because I don’t have to stay stuck in this crap forever.

Onward.