This, that, the other thing(s)

Kind of mish-mash post of things I have been meaning to write about and just have not had time to write and publish.

Decluttering Efforts Continue

Time just slips right by me these days. I have had a glorious 3 days working on my house, the various storage spaces, and yard, yet it seems like this never-ending battle with crap. Or as I console myself, 25+ years of crap. But still – it’s a lot of stuff, much of which has not seen light of day in years. So many years that I doubt we would miss it or think about it further if it ended up in the landfill or dropped off at Goodwill. M disagrees. M also disagrees with me on a lot of crap I have tossed, but he’s more sentimental than I am. He also did not grow up with my parents, have my childhood, and is not triggered by seemingly innocent or charming objects. It’s hard impossible to have a rational discussion with an emotionally irrational me. M expresses himself and his opinions, but knows that when it comes to that pile of stuff, I am the final and only decider on its fate.

I did keep a few things from the piles I thought sure were destined for the dump pile. My mother’s high school yearbooks. A couple of old scrapbooks that belonged to my mother’s sister who died young and before I was born. A senior portrait that has hardly faded in almost 70 years. When I was little I always thought my mother was so beautiful, far prettier than the other mothers I knew, and so tiny and petite. For as abusive of her body as she was (long-time smoker) as she was, mom aged really well. I can only hope the good genes I got work in my favor as well.

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5/30/2017 – Mom’s senior photo

For the most part, the last of the stuff remaining from my parents house has been dealt with and whittled down to an envelope of photographs and a few photo albums. It can stay in storage awhile longer until the next need to purge overwhelms and I can see how I feel about it then.

Otherwise, things are going really well in this effort. M and I are working together toward the common goal, versus bickering and growing impatient with each other about the decision-making process. He has his stuff – his racing career memorabilia and childhood mementos – and I have my stuff to deal, make decisions, organic into defined spaces. Part of our issues, and likely the source of our bickering and impatience with each other, has been the way this stuff has been stored. M has endless numbers of little boxes of things, whereas all my crap is boxed and bundled in bulk, because I knew it would be dealt with and (likely) discarded at some point, after which it would be boxed, labeled, tucked away. We now have the time and sorting space on our pool deck and RV driveway to spread out and figure it out. Our progress is far smoother and more efficient this time.

We were in the garage yesterday moving some of the building supplies out of there and into storage when M caught me staring at the wall of shelving overflowing with crap and suggested I stop staring or I would have an anxiety attack over it. The stuff will be dealt with, but we need to stick with our plan and focus on the pieces and parts in the order and stages. He is absolutely correct; I wander into trouble when I get overwhelmed.

So today he’s dealing with the last of the what we have on site and making a run to the dump with what we’ve agreed it trash. I have the back of his Highlander filled up with donation stuff for Goodwill. After the dump M will be bringing another load of boxes to be viewed and sorted from storage, including everything that is not the box of Christmas lights or Christmas tree. I have at least 6 boxes of Christmas to go through and decide what to keep, what to offer up to the kids, what to donate. My goal is to whittle it all down to just 2 storage boxes, because if we put up our tree, I enjoy it just as much when it’s just the tree with the lights and very minimal to no baubles. I can also easily see a time when we revert to no Christmas tree once more.

Dinner with G

Sunday night we hand an impromptu dinner with my son. K was out of town camping with the pup-pups and a friend, so when I decided to invite them to join us for dinner at a new-to-us local restaurant, it was just G.

I love my kids, all 4 of them, and I love spending time with them as a group and individually. K and I had hung out last week – so much fun – and having dinner with just G was interesting as well. The dynamic is a little different when it’s just one half an established couple, neither good nor bad, just different. Hearing his perspective on their life events and his particular slant on work and their activities is always refreshing and good.

Mostly, I am really glad that they are a thriving, happy couple as well as thriving, happy individuals. Unfortunately the story when hanging out with one half of a couple is not always the happy face united front they present when together. It’s good to hear from them as individuals, to hear the genuine affection and care they have for their absent partner, to listen as they describe their own struggles and triumphs. I’m very fortunate, I know; I probably spend more time chatting with K than I do with my son, particularly lately. But it’s all good. I have always wanted and worked hard to have close relationships with my kids. I’m lucky they chose people that fit well within out tiny family dynamic.

K’s Job Search Success

For about 2 months, K has been seeking a new job. Her former supervisor had left the firm last October and K was promised a promotion and salary adjustment after the first of the year. That came and went without any communication about the promised promotion and salary increase, so finally mid-March she requested a meeting with her supervisor to discuss it. She prepared well, making list of all the additional responsibilities she has assumed, the projects she has shepherded to successful completion, the many accomplishments in the 6 months between her former supervisor’s departure and her increased workload. There was plenty of praise and agreement that she’s done a stellar job, but there was also regret that there was no money in the budget to increase her salary.

We had discussed this extensively before the actual meeting, and privately I hoped she would be successful in getting the recognition, managerial status, and salary bump, but I was not especially hopeful. When they failed to fulfill their promise, I applauded while K refreshed her resume and went to work applying for jobs.

Multiple interviews and 3 offers later, K landed a terrific opportunity in a travel-related non-profit at a 40% increase in salary, shorter commute, and higher quality healthcare and benefits. Trade-off is that the job is likely different type of stress and potentially longer hours, but also offers exposure and networking opportunities unmatched by any of the other firms that sought to hire her.

I am so proud of K for her pursuit and patience through this trying ordeal of dealing with multiple firms, interviews, and offers. Her efforts paid off.

To and fro in Tampa

My other son, A, will be coming home for a brief visit in August. Because of vacation time accrued and their multiple pets, C will not be accompanying him this trip. He has a large family and they are very close-knit, so being clear across the country has been hard on him and he has been terribly homesick since they moved 6 months ago. We will for sure see him for a meal (or 2) while he’s here, but we also understand that realistically he only has a few days with the travel time from Tampa and we will have to share.

M and I are tentatively planning a trip to see C and A in early December, and hopefully G and K will be able to go at the same time as well. With K’s new job, and G’s job in general, it’s a challenge to get all of us together and away for more than a few days. But going clear across the country – I’m hoping for at least a week. C and A will have to work during some of the time we’re there, but that will be okay. We are all grown-up and self-sufficient and can amuse ourselves.

Planning will start in earnest later this summer. But for now, I’m excited about the idea of going east to see my Florida kids. And Disneyworld, too. But really, I’m excited to see my Florida kids. Probably at Disneyworld.

And Finally, Work

Since parting company with a few private clients a couple of week ago, my life has been irrevocably changed. I am getting more sleep – good, solid, high-quality sleep – and my self-employment workload seems lightened by at least 50%. Funny how I barely realized the impact it was having on the whole of the rest of my life.

At the office, we are actively recruiting a new administrative person and another couple of attorneys. There are days when it seems I spend much of my workday reading resumes, scheduling interview, following-up with candidates, writing “thanks but not quite the right fit” letters and emails, or doing some sort of new employee orientation. Comes with my job description, and I do love my job, so I cannot and will not complain about it. The people are probably 89% of my satisfaction with the job; bosses and associates and even clients make even the drudge days more pleasant than other places I have been.

Unfortunately, the work is not always pleasant for me to be around, even if I am only inhabiting the same office space. There are presently a few truly contentious matters going on, the type of thing where voices are raised in conferences and in phone calls to opposing counsels. It is par for the course, even normal, but it jangles my nerves and adds a thin layer of negative stress to my day. To the partners and staff involved, though, it’s like a jolt of fresh energy that lights up their days. They LOVE the fight. Which probably explains whey they do what they do and I do what I do. I don’t know that I will ever get completely used to this side of the lawyering business.

Life continues in a largely positive manner. No (new) complaints here.

 

Fatigue

Fatigue has been a recurring theme in my life of late. By unintentional design, character flaw (inability to say no when necessary), and frequently by choice, I have become overwhelmed and overloaded with work. The inability, or more accurate: stubborn unwillingness, to admit there is a problem and that I am not superwoman who can function optimally on less than 30 hours of sleep per week exacerbates the issues. Until I am finally staring down the barrel of complete chaos and falling apart dysfunctionality.

My saving grace is astute bosses and coworkers at my full-time job and a solid core of good people for clients in my self employment business as well. M has been watching from the sidelines, helping out where he can and only offering the mildest of suggestions when my whining gets to be too much or my fatigue too obvious to ignore. Things are changing, improving. Finally I am taking some steps to care for myself a little more practically.

At my full-time job, I have promoted my receptionist and am training him to assist me directly on many of my day-to-day routine tasks that are appropriate for him. The job I hired into is very far removed from the job I have grown this position into, and it is appropriate that this very capable young man take on more responsibility. Just a week into the new arrangement and I can already feel the relief of not stressing about small details and dealing with vendors and office-related matters that he is capable and delighted to manage.

We are hiring a new receptionist to assume more of those responsibilities, and I am do using my former assistant to help me with the screening and interviewing and recruiting process. It’s good training for both of us, in that I get to assess his judgment as far as hiring and training skills. His insights and screening methodology has been curious to me and not only reflects the differences in our experience but also our personalities and tolerances. Ultimately the decision on who we hire is mine to make, but I appreciate honest feedback, because he will be training and working closely with this person as well and his opinions matter.

Those changes have made me a far happier happy camper at the office. I am always so awed and so grateful to have a close and supportive work environment. My bosses are rock stars when it comes to ensuring the firm runs efficiently and staff have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs.

With my private clients and self-employment pursuits, I raised rates and dropped a few of my more demanding clients. It just gotten to be too much to try and meet their needs and short timeframes when I am working primarily after regular business hours and on weekends. I was succeeding, but the drama trauma reached the point of no longer worth the fees I was earning. I am relieved to be free of those hours, frankly, and it opens up time to thoughtfully evaluate the needs of the rest of my client stable to see how I can be more effective for them.

I already feel lighter knowing June will be less demanding and have more room to contemplate what I actually want to do versus what is lying on the table and has to be done. In certain circumstances having more choices is better.

Next on my agenda is examining and overhauling our budget. Nothing freakishly scary going on with that, but when I’m so stressed in other areas my mindless online shopping tends to take over and become a problem. Not just from a spending standpoint, although it is a consideration as well, but from a mere consumption standpoint it impacts me greatly. The volume of stuff in my closets and drawers – this is why the decluttering process is a lifetime appointment apparently. M is more nickle-and-dime little pieces and parts of pointless crap all over the garage as well as creeping into the house, but for me it’s shoes, clothes, accessories. Unless I suddenly gained or dropped 20+ pounds, I have plenty of clothes, shoes, etc. to last a good long while. Especially gym clothes – OMG, how many pairs of black capris do I really believe that I need to own?

Other than all that, I’m marching forward with a plan to get back to regular sleep patterns so I am getting adequate rest. It’s an ongoing concern of mine, because it is one of the first boundaries to fall when I am busy and distracted with the rest of my life.

For now, it’s memorial day weekend, an extra day off to be outside and get a few more at-home tasks crossed off my list.

Happy weekending everyone!

The Sally Field conundrum

Remember back in 1985 and Sally Field’s “you like me!” acceptance speech? Every time I or anyone else uses that phrasing, I think about that speech. I do not watch award shows, but I do tend to read about them after the fact. And now that nearly every pop culture moment is available online somewhere, it’s not hard to replay it over and over again.

We are in the midst of a minor  hiring spree at my full-time job. My responsibilities have grown and expanded in my 18 months with the firm, and the firm itself has nearly doubled in size. These are very good developments, and even good changes and growth can be a challenge to adjust and manage. Trying to design my own role, to keep the some of the lesser responsibilities I enjoy and balance those with the higher skills and experience management role I have grown into is proving much more difficult than I anticipated. Bosses – all 4 of them – have wish lists of the type of role I play within the firm, and not all of the tasks are going to make the cut, because I am just one person with the same working hours as anyone else. On top of that, I am the most vocal proponent of work-life balance, and in an office full of ambitious type A lawyers, I could almost begin to feel like a slacker with my 4 day work week. Almost.

I have a young receptionist that I like very much. He is attending college as well as working full-time, but he is quite intelligent and hard-working and has sharp focus and attention to detail. While I would like to promote him into another role where he assists me on higher-level and greater detail data entry type of work, he lacks some of the experience I could acquire if I sought out a particular accounting assistant skill set. The best thing about my present receptionist, though, is he is eager to learn, asks intelligent questions, takes notes, and learns from mistakes. He gets bonus points for majoring in business and turning his attention and studies toward accounting, so at least he grasps the basic debit and credit concepts. On top of that, he thinks I’m just the bees knees as far as bosses go and actually really likes me. While those are definite points in his favor, more than that he is delighted to learn from me and quickly grasped that when it comes to results, I almost don’t care how he does it as long as the final product is verifiably correct.

So we sat down yesterday to talk about the administrative jobs he does now, that I want/need to delegate to someone else, and what sort of job description we should write for the person we will hire. And it is a “we” project, because there are aspects I will be depending upon him to train the newest staff admin. By the conclusion of our working lunch we had come up with a new job description for the new receptionist I will hire and the promotional position he will be moving into and new hourly rate he will be earning beginning June 1. Now all we need to do is find the right employee to fill this job.

That I have a positive working relationship with bosses, coworkers, direct reports is very important to me; we must work so closely together it would have some measure of impact on my mental state to have to interact with a negative vibe day after day. That said, I work with professional folks who conduct themselves accordingly; even if they hate one another the focus is primarily on the work and getting it done. But we’re human, and stuff leaks out, tempers flare. I have too much respect for work/life balance to want to have to be in any sort of toxic workplace.

The way things have been evolving or devolving with long-term friendships the last couple of years have been hard for me. I am someone who values relationships and honest communication, yet at the same time, I do not nag or belabor a point of disagreement. I respect other people’s sovereignty and ability to make their own choices, even if I strongly disagree. Others are not quite as benign in their interactions, and I have been pushed and what feels like ridiculed for my own changing lifestyle choices, unfortunately to the point of having to distance myself from friend I/we genuinely enjoyed.

Last night during a text exchange another friend told me that I take life far too seriously and that I need to lighten up. Frankly, it landed as a cutting blow with a very sharp and precise scalpel. In truth, I am kind of a serious person and always have been. I have my impulsive moments, but I have regretted them so routinely after the fact that it has taught me to be more restrained and to be much less impulsive, be more thoughtful before acting. Same situation with spontaneity – I am a planner and being spontaneous tends to cause anxiety and discomfort.

It has long been a point of deep insecurity that these qualities make me an extraordinarily boring person with no sense of humor.

My more confident self now understands that is not precisely true, but being hyper-responsible is not really as exciting or fun to be around as a high-energy, no boundaries, fearless sort of soul. If there were not more serious, practical, responsible folk in the world, how could we appreciate those that are impulsive, spontaneous, and seemingly so much more fun to be around?

One of my dearest friends is my polar opposite in personality, in that he is a complete extrovert and thrives on social interaction and being around people. He is the guy who can talk to anyone about anything for an extended length of time and come away feeling energized by the interaction. He is a big personality sort of guy, yet he’s also very thoughtful, responsible, and more conservative in values. He might be someone who is gregarious and makes acquaintances faster than the average person gains weight eating without restraint, yet because of the generosity and expansiveness of his social need he is also far more accepting and understanding of differences in we more introverted sorts.

I think my Sally Field conundrum is that friendships I have retained and maintained for many years are now falling away because my life and lifestyle are changing. We are all getting older, our parents are getting frailer or are gone, our children are grown and leading independent lives of their own. M and I – we planned for this time period with eager anticipation and are enjoying these empty nest years at least as much as we did the child-rearing years. Our priorities – taking care of ourselves – are very different than they were even 10 years ago. For so many of my friends, their lives and desires are not so well considered; they had not given a lot of thought beyond what it meant to be a mother or a daughter. For many, their has been shift from working and caring for their children to working and caring for an aging parent and/or grandchildren. What they see as selfishness on my part – exercise, full-time job, self-employment business, working on our home – I see as a natural shift in my priorities.

I am also starting to understand they may like me less now because my life is far more about me and M as a couple and what we can do to enhance our life together. There are a few happy marriages and committed relationships, but far more long marriages are ending and affairs emerging or ongoing middle aged singles when they wish to be part of a couple. And truly, it is easier to bash and bully a genuinely happy friend in serious pursuit of her own uniquely personal objectives than try harder to fix your own problems.

Understanding is one thing, acceptance quite another, but anymore, I am about there, even if it is with sorrow and resignation. These friends are people I have known a very long time, some most of my life. I got through my divorce, hands-on mother years, the death of my child, the troubles with M with their help and support. I have been there for them through their own marriages and relationships faltering and failing, through the trauma of troubled children and drugs, the deaths of parents. We have celebrated graduations and weddings and births, mourned deaths and the diagnosis and treatment of serious illness. It just seems so strange to me that we could get through all that and find ourselves at odds over something like healthier lifestyle choices.

Inside, I have to believe they still like and love me in reciprocal ways I feel the same types of affection for them. But our lives are different now and continuing to evolve and to change, and perhaps some distance and separation will bring more clarity about what is real and what is important when it comes to friendships.

At the same time, I know change is just part of life. I am more philosophical about it, less insecure and tense about being non-friendship material. I have met some lovely women (and men) through the gym and other groups I have casually participated in with regard to diet and nutrition. It is refreshing and invigorating to meet new folks, to be exposed to different perspectives and experiences. At my base I am kind of shy, and it seems to take some effort on my part to put myself out there and truly engage with others in any sort of meaningful way. Not so long ago I was so deeply insecure I felt certain everyone had a negative view of me and had this irrational urge to take steps – any steps – to alter that viewpoint. What a waste of energy to even consider or care about, and I shake my head at my own silliness. Nowadays, I always hope that people I like and enjoy like me in return.

Because I am kind of a serious person; I like relationships to be respectful, positive, and harmonious. And I am not going to apologize or ever again feel regretful about this aspect of my personality.

 

Blogging – from there to here

Last year I wrote and posted here frequently, nearly every day, sometimes more than once per day. These days, it seems like a Very Big Deal if I get something written and published once a month. One difference – I was blogging A LOT about my better health and exercise journey. Since that part of my life into it’s own blog, much of my blogging energy goes there, with training recaps and anything and everything related to diet, exercise, better health. In case you’re curious, find me talking extensively about my better health quest at makingprogressgettingfitter.blog,

When it comes to this blog and blogging in general, I feel sort of one-dimensional and made from cardboard. On more fatigue-laden days, I feel like recycled cardboard and completely lacking in color and details. Because my life is busy, work is demanding, and my hobbies and interests are primarily health and fitness related, it is often a challenge to muster the energy to write about other things.

Attitude adjustment is in order. Inventory and assessment of my time management as well. Because honestly, my little life and corner of the universe has a lot more color and range than I am presently allowing credit. Not because I am in a bad or negative headspace, more because I am letting life run at whooosh pacing and everything goes by at blurred speeds.

Not a lot big events in progress in my world this year. After 2016 and both kids getting married and C and A moving across the country, it has been a relatively placid period. K is in moving on in her career – accepted a generous offer from another firm only to have her dream job come calling and in the final stages of negotiation for an even more generous salary and benefits package. C and A are doing well in Florida, getting settled and enjoying their annual Disney passes. G is working hard and contemplating the next steps in completing his education.

Busy times for all of us.

M and I are working our summer project of decluttering and reorganizing our stuff. We are still working on the rented storage space, getting rid of stuff we have held on to for far too long, labeling and organizing what he/we feel cannot be separated from us just yet. From there it is our garage – an absolute necessity if M’s dream of a work bench and work space next to where I park my car is ever to come to fruition. There is much crap to be culled and shelving to be relocated to either the storage unit or the small storage building (the little house) in our back yard. The little house is our final frontier, the repository for all the crap treasures we tend to both become irrational about. For me, I cannot fathom why we need to retain the volume of easily identifiable shit stuff M feels is going to be useful someday, and for his part, M cannot understand my craving to live in a house with empty drawers and mostly empty rooms.

And believe it or not, despite the doom-and-gloom tone of my describing this process, our current decluttering effort is a big step forward for us. The truckloads of stuff hauled off to the dump, put in the trash, or donated is testament that this project is long overdue.

Funny, but I was actually considering shutting the blog down, because I seem to find myself incapable of stringing a few sentences together with any regularity. The minute I think that, though, I get this feeling of dread and anxiety that says I am not yet ready to relinquish my personal address in blogville.

Because I’ve said it before – this remains my safe space. I can talk about things here that I rarely to never bring up in the outside world. Or that I need to process in written form so I can behave appropriately in real life. Or work, always a favorite. Or just to talk about whatever so my family and friends do not start avoiding me because I talk too much.

Honestly, from the start of my blogging journey to now, the course has been unexpected. I never thought I would write as much as I have in the past few years, until I blink and realize that a few weeks have passed since I last published here. Maybe that’s a good thing, that nothing so significant has happened that I’ve felt inclined to jot it all down. Yet I know that’s not really true. Life has been busy, but for every hour of busy there are pockets of minutes spent vegging scanning headlines or letting my racing thoughts hypnotize me into paralysis.

I have missed writing here. It seems odd that I fail to recognize just how much until I sit down and just let ‘er rip with downloading my thoughts. In my drafts folder, 90 posts languish. Some will be recovered, updated, published eventually, but the majority are a few short lines or paragraphs demonstrating my distraction and need to process. Always I think I will return to this and publish it soon, but rarely does that happen. Mind and circumstances are different when I log back in, and another draft is begun or an actual post gets written and published. The former fragment sits, eventually forgotten.

Today I am resolving to be better about this, to carve out some me time for blogging, just because. I do have a lot to say, and in the immortal words of Nike’s marketing department, Just. Do. It.

I will. And I will engage my type A- personality and strive to be more consistent about it.

Happy Friday and weekend everyone. I have missed you.