First world problem perspective

So I’m whining about work and recognizing the disconnect between intellectual understanding of what is happening and some emotional desire that it not be this way. I get it. It’s not the end of the world, I’m managing it fairly well, and in most ways my job has been winnowed down from a decision-making manager to a bookkeeper and clerk typist who can actually write. Where a couple of weeks ago I was someone who took care of office-related matters, chose products and vendors, had the authority to sign contracts and enter agreements, had routine contact with clients about their account with the firm, I am reduced to someone who must get multiple levels of approval from various parties before proceeding with just about everything. What once took maybe 15 minutes to be crossed off as completed and then promptly purged from my thinking now takes 2 or 3 days and seems to require adjustments after the fact. It is frustrating, but I could easily envision it happening the minute I learned the merger was proceeding.

The most challenging part of my job dumbing down, though, is the fact that soon where I could help or guide or impact issues that arise within the firm and with the staff, I am mostly no longer going to be involved in the resolution come July 1. It is a tough step backward and why I will not stay a minute longer than absolutely necessary.

There are other things I’m wrapping up. Sad things for me that come with the end of a firm I have loved worked at and with people I loved working with. I will miss them. I already miss the change ambiance of the office. Perhaps the merger will be good for each of us as individuals. While I am certain of my own future plans, I don’t deny part of my present day difficulties relates to letting go of the job where I felt like such an integral part of the vibrancy of the firm. Going from a boutique like experience to the bland impersonality of a Macy’s-like shopping experience is harsh.

For all my whining and venting here, it takes only one event to slap me back to reality and my own privilege and self-involvement.

M’s best friend was hit by a cyclist and is presently hospitalized and suffering from some pretty serious injuries. Head trauma, internal bleeding, broken hand that will require several surgeries to repair. This man is a landscape designer and sole proprietor small businessman; he does not have employees who can fill in the gaps until he is back on his feet. Fortunately he does have a brother who can step in and see what is in progress and needs to be done. M is heading off later this afternoon to assist his bestie’s brother retrieve equipment, assess work in progress, and finish up some work at a couple of sites that must be completed this week.

I am horrified at the events that have unfolded in the last 24 hours. M feels fortunate to be in a position to help out with jobs, so his friend does not have to forfeit income for work mostly done and juggling commitments to other runner friends with a big race looming in less than 2 weeks. A lot going on in our world, although M is doing the heavy lifting and bearing the brunt of those far more real and close to home responsibilities.

My job is just that – a job – and what has happened to our friends puts it into a clearer perspective for me. I’m still unhappy with the turn of events, still disappointed in a couple of my associates, still not looking forward to the battles and boredom and tension that will come with this merger and the changes it will bring with it. Small cakes compared to someone lying in a hospital bed with broken parts and a recovery days ahead.

An awesome day

Today was the actual office moving day, and I am so very proud of my crew for stepping up and getting shit done.

IT guys were already in the new office and hard at work when I walked through the doors at 9 a.m. This new key code locking system we have is fantastic! They have their own code to the front doors and the network server room and can be in the office working on the server without me or another staff person present.

Comcast phone people arrived on the early side of their window and were done and gone by 1 p.m. Phones were down for all of 20 minutes, our auto attendant was in service 20 minutes after that.

Everyone had their offices and workspaces packed on carts, wrapped in saran wrap (or whatever that stretchy moving film is really called) and were working on laptops well before the noon deadline. When the movers showed up at noon – right on time – we were read to move. To get our carts and furnishings that needed to be moved loaded, driven less than 2 miles, unloaded, and some desks rearranged took them 3 hours. They told me it was a small job and estimated 4 hours, but they were hugely efficient and we are delighted with the service rendered.

By the time I left the office at 5:45 (for my 6:30 yoga class), nearly all the carts were empty and the moving boxes folded flat and ready to be picked up tomorrow. The only exceptions were the library, and my receptionist and a couple of the associates were busy putting books away when I left. The phones work, the computers work, the internet works, and we will be back in business tomorrow morning. The biggest issues are with a couple of the new desks – the keys provided do not seem to match the locks. The furniture vendor will be in the office tomorrow afternoon to have a look and get us the right keys or replace the locks.

Also tomorrow the newer and improved copy machine and printers will be delivered and set-up, and our confidential shredding service will be delivering new containers.

My bosses are really happy with the everything going so smoothly, and all is forgiven (if not 100% forgotten) about the many meetings and disagreements that cropped up on our march to make this happen. Majority of the staff are pleased with their new work areas, and the couple who are less delighted are newbies still working at smoothing the chips on their shoulders. We also now have a couple of small client consultation offices and a larger work room for collaborative efforts.

I am relieved the biggest, most questionable aspects of the job are now complete and life will soon return to normal levels of busy for me.

M has been rather surprised at how well I have handled all this stuff the last couple of week, but as I point out to him, the stress load was spread out over most of 7 months. I have also continued with my gym training and practice at least 6 days per week, plus yoga at least a couple of nights per week. I’m on a pretty regular sleep schedule and sleeping very well for the most part – it’s only when I shave sleep staying up late working or engrossed in conversation or a book that I do not get enough rest and am vulnerable to stressure meltdowns.

Having this type of routine is huge, and I cannot stress enough the positive benefits in all aspects of my life.

As much as the exercise and the healthier food choices, I have simply let go of a lot of things that brought some level of additional stress and anxiety to my life. It has been strangely uplifting and liberating to let go of people and things that clutter and impact me in less desirable and healthy ways. I still have quite a lot of work to do in this area, but I firmly believe that getting started and making consistent effort a habit is at least half the battle.

I expected to feel a bit let down now that this huge project and undertaking in now winding down to the clean-up stage, but the opposite is true. I do not feel sad, depressed, or even relieved; I am exhilarated. Not having to think about dozens of tiny pieces and parts of this move every week now frees me to focus on other projects on my work-related bucket list.

And I am ridiculously excited about the prospects of new challenges and projects. I am looking forward to a reasonably quiet December and into January before starting my next big work thing in 2017.

For tonight, though, I’m riding a wave of happy success, where everyone showed up and did their jobs and simply pitched in where needed. My work tribe exceeded my expectations and I could not be prouder or more pleased than with how well they handled the disruptions of the last couple of weeks.

I am also really proud of me. I worked damn hard at this and stayed focused on the end goal and did not get stuck in the weeds or distracted by the avalanche of details. That I can type and post that kind of positive affirmation? Big giant forward progress. Go me!

Friends, worry, restorative yoga

One of my friends is a chronic worrier, so much so that it has started to have an impact upon what I write and post on the blog. It has not censored me so much as I stop and think about what I’m writing, wondering if my dear friend will pick up upon it and have a poor (worried) reaction. My recent series discussing my struggles to get back on track after the distractions of this month culminated in a text exchange yesterday where she expressed her concern about my recent posts and stated I sounded more unhappy than negative. She misses my happy.

Each of us reads and processes events through the lens of our own experience. But I have mostly been letting it go, working to shrug it off and not let it bother or impact me. Unfortunately it had become a niggling issue for me, and I suggested she cease reading my blog. I seem to be incapable of stating myself clearly enough that people do not get hurt by my words, and therein lies the rub of trying to set boundaries and take care of myself. I had to express how much I dislike the feeling such sentiments of worry over basically a temporary, transitory emotion inspire. If it were something deeper or more significant, I bring it up in more detail in personal conversations, texts, emails. I need to protect this sacred space for me to sort my shit out.

Depression, anxiety are real conditions and probably more common than any of us realize. TM and I had an informal conversation tonight over a cup of a kava-based drink about recent events in my life. I have a good and happy life 99.8% of the time, but sprinkled through the happy-happy-joy-joy are the normal crappy things that happen to everyone. Life’s irritations are small-ball is compared to other people with more shattering issues. Anymore, I try not to compare. Anymore, I try to simply live my life and keep my angsty whining to a bare minimum.

The blog is a safe place for me, the space where I can download the purity of my thoughts and raw emotions, uncensored and unfiltered. Much of the time these are positive, happy, upbeat, but sometimes they are reflective of my doubts, fears, anxieties. I don’t audience blog; I just write it as I think it/feel it/report it. Way too often they are scattered and not linear enough to suit me upon a reread after publishing. But oh well.

I am not much of a worrier. I have emotional reactions, and sometimes those result in really angry outbursts. One of my own was seriously ill with a sudden illness that could have resulted in death; he chose to not tell me about it until after the fact and yes, I was super-sized angry about it. Thing is, I don’t hold grudges. I get over things relatively quickly. He’s still recovering, and while I remain concerned, my energy toward him is better spent writing distracting story-telling emails about the minutia of my days. I don’t want him to die; I would be devastated and inconsolable if that ever happened to anyone I love. But my mind does not obsess about his well being. My mind instead turns to writing amusing notes.

My life is good, my most recent mercurial moodiness (if it can even be characterized that way) will resolve itself.

To that end I am trying some new things. Like a restorative yoga class after a cup of kava with TM. While I did not intend to discuss worry with him when we set up our kava date, it was on my mind and it came up.

TM came as close as he ever does to demanding that I not censor myself on the blog, that I maintain it as a sacred, safe place, even if it meant taking it private and making it for invited readers only. The horrified expression on my face must have spoken volumes, because his Plan B was that I should be honest about what I think, how I feel, set appropriate boundaries with my friend that let both of us be ourselves and good with our overall relationship.

TM has informally pronounced me as still okay, which near as I can tell is shrink-speak for not in need of immediate psychological intervention. Despite my being out of sorts and hair-triggered on the spin cycle right now, it is a temporary situation likely to resolve and right itself in time. He whole heartedly supports my regular exercise routines and sees how these relatively new habits could be disrupted by the upheaval of September’s distractions.

So I have a professional opinion that I’m okay.

Restorative yoga seems to be working pretty well for me. I’m learning to use yoga props, which for an unbendy person like me are a huge boon. We hold the shapes for longer than I’m accustomed to in a more vigorous hot yoga class, and with the props it makes me more successful and able to figure out the breathing and the meditative aspects of the practice. I find myself relaxing and unwinding my zoom-zoom-zoom thoughts set on fast forward. I only wish it was longer than just an hour.

Or maybe it was the kava. Either way, it was a good experience, one I will try to repeat weekly.

Balance is not something I achieve and then kick back, relax, enjoy. Balance is apparently another constant, life-long quest. It just looks and feels a little different, depending on what else is going on in my life. And this week, it’s looks and feels like overcoming irritation and frustration with events mostly beyond my control.

Training Thursday. Things are looking up already.



When life is primarily lemonade

I had an appointment with my therapist this morning about the self-generated turmoil in my life. Truth is things are going swimmingly. New business is stressful because its success or its failure rests entirely upon my shoulders and does directly correlate to how well I manage my time, energy, and overall efficiency in hitting the established targets. For the most part, it is going very, very well. The new clients I have acquired are appreciative and express their satisfaction with the work done for them thus far, invoices were issued on the first and 90% of them have already been paid. Eating and exercise are actually going well, progress is being made, and most importantly – after just about 3 months of investment with trainer J, I am still exercising regularly and my eating is much more controlled. Clothes are starting to fit differently – and for me it is all about the clothes – even if the scale shows seems to be a back-and-forth with two pounds down, one pound up cycle. M and I remain good, solid, and loving, if frictioning a bit with my stress and anxiety of late.

So what precisely is my problem? Why am I anxious and insecure and feel as if I have initiated a personal self-destruction sequence?

While with my therapist this morning, we traced back to what is changing in my life right now and how they are primarily very positive changes. Yes, it is very stressful to strike out on my own and risk failure. Yes, hiring a trainer is expensive yet also leaves me in the vulnerable student/follower position when I am typically a teacher/leader in my professional and personal lives. Yes, facing my self-image demons and going to the gym by myself to workout takes courage and requires a push to get there.

Deep down, I suppose I do not feel deserving of success. I have always worked hard, pushed myself to do and be my best, yet shied away from the spotlight and taking credit for successes, shouldering more than my share of blame for any failures. It is a hard habit to break. When it comes to my appearance (and working out/losing weight/gaining strength directly affects that), I become extraordinarily uncomfortable if anyone pays too much or provides positive attention and feedback. This is a lifelong battle, because as a child sexual abuse survivor, I have been unsuccessful in untwisting and safely processing what “pretty” and “sexy” mean to me, and I am terrified of ever being that. I am okay with being characterized as nice or having a “great personality,” because in my mind that translates to wallflower plain and invisible, therefore safe. If he does not see me, he cannot hurt me.

I am kind to others. If anyone were to characterize me as mean or deliberately cruel I would be completely crushed. Those kinds of compliments I can accept with some grace, but my hair stylist suggesting I was looking thinner (therefore better)? I trip over my tongue in denial or deflecting with humor.

And I know this. I wish I did not. I always wish to be confident that my emotional scars are completely healed or at least so well within my control that I need not worry about them any longer. But here I am again, on the pathway to getting stronger and healthier, and I am freaking the f–k out over crossing paths with people I know when I am not hidden away behind my invisible woman uniform or that the person who “sees” me when I am at the gym recognizes me outside our regularly scheduled appointment times.

Understanding the triggers makes them easier to anticipate and prepare for, yet I am too new into these areas of my life to recognize and conquer completely these booby traps waiting to emotionally ensnare me. I did ask for some medication to help when it gets really out of hand, but therapy doc wants me to try some of the other coping tools I have for the next few weeks. Considering I will be on vacation for about half the time until our follow-up appointment, I believe it is a fair solution. He has far more faith in me than I have in myself, which seems to be the storyline of my life lately. But I will try. I can take tiny little steps and still make forward progress. And he is but a phone call away if I need help.

Which is another of my falterings – I have so much difficulty asking for help. Forgive me, friends; I am still getting finding my footing with admitting I have a problem much less accepting a hand up when I fall down.

But it has been a good day, one with clearer thinking and the ability to simply be myself and get things done without the weight of “shoulds” and other unreasonable, unrealistic expectations.