Tides

Emotionally, feeling the bounce toward my typical push-pull life balance. Gaining perspective doesn’t happen in a vacuum with all my sadness and grief under lockdown. Unfortunately grief is a process and there are no shortcuts.

Tuesday mornings I have a standing 5:30 conference call with an east coast client. It is typically an energetic phone call, because they are rather dynamic people and nearly always have something new and interesting for me to do in the days or weeks ahead. Funny me we have now been working together for over 2 years and have actually met in person exactly twice. But I got a really strong recommendation from another mutual client/friend, and they are very happy with the work I am doing for them as a group as well as individually. So it’s always a boost because they are appreciative of my time and efforts on their behalf and express it every week. I know they mean it; we all know they don’t have to carrot-and-stick me to get their work done. Our conference call is just a highlight of my job-related work week. So that makes me happy, too.

My former big corporate firm (BCF) wants me to do some limited consulting, so yesterday I looked at my September calendar and emailed them a proposal with a discounted hourly rate and how much time I could give them for the month. I thought it very fair, considering how they tried to screw me over and now find they need me. Cynically, I fully anticipated they would come back with either an observation that I’m already getting paid (via my severance package) or protest my rates were high. Sure enough, this morning there was an email expressing their surprise at the rate quoted. Dumb asses. I guess they figure I am sitting around eating bon bons and living off my severance package rather that hustling for self-employment clients and keeping myself well over scheduled with work. Laws of supply and demand, lady; I’m in demand and will be billing more than 40 hours per week through the end of the year with or without the 10 hours per month I have offered to you.

Yes, I suppose I am a still hostile toward these people. I have not yet responded to her counter proposal, because I’m in a particularly snarky mood and not willing to be tolerant and diplomatic in light of her bullying bullshit. Her undervaluing my ability is a huge issue for me, but my not needing the work is going to prove tricky for her. Whatever happens, I will remain profession and reasonable, but BCF is so far from a non-profit and I am unwilling to volunteer or donate my time to people who do not respect or value me. If I am merely a commodity, they can damn well pay for my services.

Assholes.

Really, I am only hostile toward them the firm management, not my former crew or the clients they took over and who are not complaining loudly enough to make BCF approach me for help. Rest of my clients do like me, like working with me, because for the most part I am more than reasonable and easy going about the hurry-up-and-wait nature of consulting. It’s the flow of the business. BCF, though, made what seems like a typical mistake of pooh-poohing anyone who is primarily support or overhead labor. They are paying for it now, and the only reason it’s not a lot more expensive is because of my relationship with the former partners.

Perhaps I just need a good strong dose of indignation to catapult me out of my funk. Or the long weekend is over (for everyone else) and my phone/text/email are blowing up as clients and business associates get back to work and reach out. Whatever it is, I’m grateful to be focused and fully engaged on something other than misery and grief.

Health – bioidentidical hormone matching update

No training recaps this week, as J is on his well-deserved vacation. I believe this is the first Monday this year without a training session or recap, and it does not feel as weird as I expected. Probably because I have had plenty of time to mentally prepare mind for the void. Body probably does not care all that much. I still got up and went to the gym, albeit at my earlier time rather than my Monday-training-at-6 time.

For this uninterrupted by training session week, I had previously decided to run straight through the days of Dr. Spencer-themed Lists. My experience with these is they run shorter than many of my other Lists, or perhaps I am simply become more efficient in my conduct and able to get through them in an hour and 15 minutes, versus the 2 hours I typically allot. At least that was my experience today with chest and triceps (recapped here if you want to see the actual List of exercise). My mileage may vary tomorrow and the balance of the week.

So in advance I had decided that I would do my 30 minutes of cardio or something would count as 30 minutes of cardio if I had time to pursue it after my List of the day. My selection this time, since I was working upper body, was what trainer J has labeled as “Abel 30.” It’s a short List – 30 leg presses, 30 walking lunges (15/side), 30 goblet squats, and 30 hamstring curls on the stability ball. The reason I chose that one is pretty simple: it’s 4 lower body I can absolutely, reliably remember. It made quite an impression on me the first time we went through it, one of those truly memorable Lists that completely, totally, routinely kicks my ass. Doing it after a regular full-blown List was a disaster mistake utter drain on my energy reserves. I got through 2 sets and made the executive decision to join my associates on our usual lunch walk for my 30 minutes and call it good. Assuming I would be capable of peeling myself off the mat and actually walking, of course. I had my doubts and the idea of staying right there and taking a nap had profound appeal. Unfortunately I remain hyper-responsible about work and commitments of that sort, so I did get up, cleaned up my mat and put equipment away. The housekeeping is a nice segue into leaving the gym and onto the rest of my day.

And honestly, the primary reason I am sharing my non-training session Monday is because a few of my real-life friends wanted to know if I was doing a non-session recap. Because it’s Monday. They, like me, are creatures of habit and are expecting something health and fitness from me.

The rest of my day is/was good. There is a lot to talk about related to my churning thoughts through practice. But for today, it’s all about hormones.

About 3 months ago, I began bioidentical hormone matching therapy. It’s now been 3 years since my hysterectomy, and while I was not experiencing any particularly bad ill effects from it, I also did not feel like I was being all I could possible be (borrowing an old Army motto and mangling it to suit my purposes). So my doctor had me do a saliva test – and let me just say, drooling spit into tubes 4 times a day is not charming or fun – and found at that time that I was severely deficient on most hormones. Not a surprise at all, but still, it gave a baseline to measure and dial-in the hormone matching therapy he prescribed.

So for the last 3 months I have been created and prescribed for me hormone creams into my skin 2 times daily, 6 days per week. It has been a painless process – click the cream onto my arm, rub together until absorbed. A couple of weeks ago it was time to get my levels retested, only the first saliva test I did not provide enough saliva for them to measure, resulting in a do-over. I finally talk to his physician’s assistant today about what’s going on with me.

The creams are doing their job, in that most of my readings are in measurable range and are normal. However, my estrogen and progesteron are still out of whack, in that my estrogen is high in proportion to my progesterone. Tweak is actually pretty minor, in that I have to do 2 clicks of progesterone at night instead of just one. The estrogen was normal to good, just need to get the progesterone up to balance correctly. There is also a very low dose of testosterone mixed with the estrogen, and now I was a little high on that, so she’s going to tweak my prescription and bring that down a little bit. All in all, though, she was very pleased that we are so close to the right mix of hormones, and I was kind of relieved that it is working the way it is supposed to be working.

In truth the effects are pretty subtle. I sleep better. My energy seems better as well, although it does seem like there are multiple contributors to that. What does seem most significant while still subtle is that I have more stamina in my exercise and practices. Whether that can be attributed to the the hormone level rising to normal levels or simply that I am working at it possesses potential for debate, but I am choosing to believe there may be some or a lot of merit in getting myself more normalized so can focus and stay in the moment when I am in the gym and working at my practice. And keep going where before I would be so ready to throw in my towel.

Whatever the hormones are doing, I think my family and friends will agree that my funks are rarer and do not manifest in ways they did at one point. My overall outlook is healthier, better, more self-directed and upbeat and positive inwardly as well as to the world at large. While I have always tried to be kind and positive toward others, I have been pretty great at self-shredding. Since negative girl’s ultimate incarceration, I have been a lot better. Perhaps the hormone matching therapy is part of the keys to her cage door.

Mostly I am happy and relieved to be achieving some semblance of normalcy. My new formulation should be here later this week and I will just continue on this regimen for the next 6 months, when we measure once again. Unless I start feeling poorly, of course. I have to flex my schedule to ensure I get in for my B12 shots every week. And take my vitamin D and other supplements to ensure my better health journey continues.

It’s been a fantastic day. Even if my whole body still feels sort of weirdly tired. Maybe more sleep and a Motrin or Aleve tablet are in order. This many hours later and still feeling the practice this morning? Yep, sometimes it’s good to be okay with OTC pain relievers. I’m definitely not one of those “no pain, no gain” gym people. I’m more that I want to “feel good, be comfortable, take pain relievers as appropriate” gym people.

Happy Monday everyone! Hopefully we are all going to have a simply spectacular week.

A slump, a funk, and blowing up my hair dryer

After 26 months, my latest blow dryer had blown up and must be retired to the blow dryer graveyard. It was an experiment of sorts, in that at ~$120 it was the most expensive blow dryer I have ever purchased. Of course, when buying the cheaper models, I was buying 2 or 3 of them per year, and the last Target-purchased dryer nearly set my hair on fire when it died. For the sake of convenience and the quieter motor, I will likely invest in another nicer model. Maybe I will get another 2 years out of it.

So that was part of my kinda/sorta in-a-funk Tuesday. But I am not really in a funk, per se; I presently know enough people in various phases of funk to know that it’s not me.

However, I admit the hair dryer was the final push for a silent scream of frustration. Or not so silent string of f-bombs while standing there with a mess of hair that was half dry and a very scary sight. At least my only appointment today is lunch with a client, leaving me enough time to figure out something.

My funk-lite is primarily driven by a work slump. Typically I use that term when things are slow, but things are rarely slow for me, most definitely a blessing. But I’ve been working on a report for a self-employment client and am about 98% done with it, but I am unhappy with the status and conclusions. On paper, it looks fine, sounds like a reasonable opportunity, the analysis works in my client’s favor.

But I have taken an immediate dislike to the other principal party involved that has only gotten worse with time and our ongoing communications. My reaction when we met was immediate and intensely visceral, and I have absolutely no basis for disqualifying him except he inspires such a negative sense of ick he makes me want to throw up. Is that even a real business sense? Sorry, you make me want to vomit and I don’t know why, but I cannot recommend that my client proceed with this potentially profitable and mutually beneficial deal.

I need to be a lot more grown-up and business-like than that. But I feel how I feel, and if I remove my personal feelings from the equation, it makes good business sense. And really, I don’t need to like the guy, right? I looked at the information provided, I read the reports and financials, I crunched the numbers – everything adds up and legal has signed off.

So why does my stomach churn as I work on this report? It feels like a bad idea, and I have no rational reason for thinking or even feeling that way. Liking the guy as a person is irrelevant to the business at hand.

Ugh. I will finish this report and figure it out before we meet for lunch. That and my unruly mop of hair.

So that’s my slump. Which has kind of tinged the rest of my day with funk and a desire to separate from the slumpy feelings.

I feel sort of desperate to do or to change something, as if life is boring and I need to spice it up. Or as if everything is going far too well and I need to do something dramatic to ward off the evil spirits that could bring disaster. Yeah, I get how kooky that sounds. I know crazy-brain-lite is perking up and making mischief. I also know this happens on a fairly predictable cycle that almost coincides with the change of seasons and will blow over as mysteriously as it began.

The first thing that comes to mind – chopping off all my hair – is only partly because of the hair dryer mishap; even a shorter version of my current longer length requires a blow dryer. But I cannot do it right now. G is getting married in less than 3 months and I need to keep the length to give myself options for wedding hair.

Changing cars is always an option, but the financial nerd in my head says it makes absolutely no sense, particularly since I cannot get excited enough about different vehicle to even fancifully entertain the idea.

Then I started thinking about my exercise, and maybe I should switch my schedule … which I immediately rejected, because no way would I survive or be capable of maintaining any consistency with practice trying to get to the gym in the evenings. At least I am not eating or drinking my feelings; I seem to be mostly past that sort of destructive behavior. Instead I am blogging about my current level of crazy. Progress.

And the blog, and blogging … that deserves a post of its own.

Yep, as usual, me and my first world problems.

 

 

 

Unsettled, uneasy, losing hopefulness

Confession? I do not always feel like a truly positive, hopeful, grateful person. There are many moments of negativity, nearly crippling doubt, and being ungraciously unhappy despite my many blessings. My saving grace? I try. I am realistic about my successes and my failures. Most of the time I pick myself up and resolve to do better. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Today I feel as if I have misplaced hope in my life, similar to the periodic loss of my keys on the morning I am running late to get to the office or an early appointment. It always seems to happen at the worst, most stress-inducing moments and is magnified to spontaneous combustion and on-the-verge of meltdown for me. Then they are FINALLY found. Crisis averted. Life continues and the sudden, intense, panic-stricken moments are quickly glossed over as “one of those mornings” and forgotten.

Between the winter, the holidays, the current arc of my life … I feel unsettled and uneasy. There is so much distress, unhappiness, anger in the world around me. Those are powerful emotions, far more intensively energy-draining than any joy or contentment I experience. It may be time again to withdraw and cease watching/listening to the news, turn away from many of the blogs I routinely read and/or follow, and stop reading emails. Because it affects and impacts me, this negative energy and anger. I feel helpless and incapable of doing much of anything to effect change and it seems to impede my ability to think straight and offer anything by way of comfort or practical suggestions. I know there is a slice of the population who do not really want to be comforted or offered realistic strategies for coping with their situations. I do not have to be right, I do not have to have my advice implemented or my opinions validated. But I have to have some hint there is hope, that some tiny step is being attempted to improve their circumstances. Hope fades when it is the same or worse story this time next week, next month, next year. I begin to believe people are happiest in sharing and spreading the misery, and it both alarms and depresses me.

In moment of extremely human behavior (aka: a serious disagreement escalated into a full-blown fight), M once told me that my feelings do not work right and it is impossible for me to understand the true range of emotions. Ouch! Unfortunately, I cannot completely disagree and call him a jerk. Just because he says something hurtful in a heated argument does not make it a false statement. I survived a horrific childhood and have come very far and have made a good life, partly because my emotional disconnects gave time and room for my damaged psyche to improve and to heal somewhat. Survival seems to mean turning off my emotions and denying the reality of what is happening to and around me right this minute.

I hate winter. Not because I am affected by seasonal affective disorder, but because M and so many others I must interact with are strongly influenced by it. M becomes depressed, moody, clingy. Others it’s nitpicking or the “sky is falling/world is ending/woe is me” attitude. More succinctly: it’s a time of heightened emotions, mostly negative emotions, and while intellectually I understand it, emotionally I just want them to snap the f–k out of it. I cannot and will not say that – people are suffering, whether it is real or imagined, it is definitely real to them – and there will be periods when I must distance myself for my own peace of mind. This is where I turn to blogs, books, television, anything to use as a distraction and buffer from the swirling dark clouds. It’s when my distractions start to have the same tinge of darknes that I start changing channels as well as changing my own outlook and direction, only when I reach that point it’s far easier said than done.

This is not a new phenomenon or experience for me. It happens in both randomly and in annual patterns, such as it is now with the change in weather and holiday seasons. I know it is temporary, that the skies will clear and my normal levels of hopeful optimism will return. But as with any funk, the messages in the back of my mind revolved around the “what ifs” of the equation. What if this time is different? What if the depression lingers? What if he (M) does not get better and this cling-on moodiness continues? With my father-in-law’s recent passing the depression is worse and more consuming this year, and I am mostly patient and our life pretty normal. However, there was a brief dust-up last night and an ongoing conflict discussion this morning. I know this will resolve and pass, but I hate conflict so much that I would prefer to avoid M until it blows over. Unhealthy, I know. But seriously, getting his feelings hurt because I’m engaged with a television show and do not want to listen to his derisive commentary while I’m watching is not worth the grand drama he is inflicting. It’s mostly the grief and seasonal depression talking. I am just not sure how much and how long I should have to tolerate before he snaps out of it and recognizes how unreasonable his expectations are while he’s feeling sorry for himself.

I know I sound terribly unsympathetic, but we go through this a few times each year. He’s unlike me, when I just want to be left alone to brood and sleep it off. He wants to be coddled and babied, and unfortunately I’m not one who can do that for an extended period before growing resentful and dismissive. Through these bristle patches, we love one another and will get through it. But damn, it’s a challenge while in them. Coupled with being battered on too many sides by external forces, I am a lot less patient and tolerant than I might be in other circumstances.

Maybe there’s a stray piece of chocolate in my future.