Nightmares of a mad, mad world

For at least the last 2 weeks, I have been having nightmares every single night. About work of all things. They began within a few days of meeting original Hellbeast, but as the rest of the Hellbeast clan has stepped up and introduced themselves (there is now Spawn of Hellbeast and Hellbeast Junior in the mix), the nightmares have grown worse. Even with the final determination that (1) I am being released with a fantastic separation/severance package, and (2) our last workday as a firm is 6/29, meaning I have only 4 more workdays, the stress of leaving a job I love is getting to me.

My fabulous personal lawyer J will be in the office tomorrow to meet with Spawn of Hellbeast and to review the agreement she presents for my notarized signature. He has been my champion in this mess and insisted upon coming to the office and reviewing the final document before I sign it. I am not too proud to gladly accept his hand-holding through this final step.

But even with that behind me – we came to terms by Monday and scheduled this meeting at that time – the nightmares had been getting worse. Whereas earlier they had been realistic dreams of making mistakes or forgetting critical documents or missing hard deadlines, they have been growing increasingly darker and more violent as the days pass. One night this week it was a shooting in the building – an office that looks nothing like where we have ever dwelled – and the police would not let us leave while they searched for the shooter and Hellbeast and her minions insisted we continue to work. I woke up when loud noises rang out in my dreams, only to find my alarm was bleating softly and it was time to wake up.

Last night the office had been magically transported to an airplane … that suicide bombing terrorists were intent on blowing up. The explosion woke me up … at 2:40 in the morning. Anytime I wake up on on a Thursday morning gasping for breath my body clock just knows its Thursday and immediately has me sure I’ve massively overslept and am now dreadfully late for my standing appointment with trainer J. Kind of hard to go back to sleep when your airplane office has been blown up in your head.

While my very logical mind understands this is stress manifesting itself, it is distressing. I have not been watching the news or violent videos or movies; such things give me nightmares so I avoid them. There are 4 workdays left and just over a week until I am done with all this, both a relief and a huge source of sadness. I can and will tough it out, even if on minimal sleep between now and then.

I will miss seeing my associates every day. And as much as we promise to stay in touch, it is not the same as being in the same workplace and slaying the same dragons together day after day.

I am not really an overly emotional person under normal circumstances, but these are not quite normal circumstances. Plus I am a sentimental softie. Who knew?

The rest of my life is proceeding and things are good. While I have told all my self-employment clients about leaving my full-time job and having more time available if they need additional help, I admit hoping for a light July to consider an office away from home to work in rather than trying to work from home. Love M to pieces, but working from home all day every day – he will start to get on my nerves. Not sure yet if I will again be traveling to other client offices for work or working primarily out of an office location of my choosing, but have some ideas and considering options for renting some private office space nearby.

If only I can get a restful night’s sleep without any Very Bad Things befalling me or the office.

 

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.

Aggravated, crazy, sick to my stomach – TGIF

Probably the title should read “Ms. Crankypants has taken over the blog.” But that might be more negative than is actually necessary? Maybe, maybe not. It’s just been a very long week and some irritation must be vented and bled off.

Aggravated

Tuesday brought acquiring firm people into the office to kick-off the transition with introductions and reassurance all around about how thrilled and excited they are to assimilate us into the collective. Lots and meetings as a firm, in groups, and individually over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday. The administrative partner – she was a corporate suit with a resting bitch face that never seemed to fade even when she smiled and spoke. Had she been nicer, less dismissive and condescending I would not be so harsh in my assessment, but reality bites.

In truth, I am a hopeful person; I want a positive spin on everything, particularly work when such big and upsetting changes are in the works. This woman, though, was my worst corporate nightmare in very expensive shoes. She heads up human resources and is an employment law partner, so I suppose her credentials are impressive. However, her people skills, for those of us without a Juris Doctor degree, are horrendous. Going forward, I will simply refer to her as Hellbeast. The rest of the non-attorney staff in my office have far worse monikers for her, but I am trying to strike a balance here. Yes, I get that I am biased and failing miserably. But oh well.

The way she spoke at me, I thought at first she was just not good with women, or not good with people in general. Then I observed her talking to my bosses and the rest of the attorneys, and while her tone and demeanor changed depending on the staff level, she was still essentially civil and somewhat engaging. Professional snob, yes, but I have worked with worse.

Dismissive, condescending, and even mean – she is probably demanding of service staff and tips poorly. And I have a really hard time with that. Poor service, sure. But to brush off and actually speak sharply to my receptionist for doing his job – inexcusable. My receptionist is the lowest paid staffer among us and will gladly, happily do just about anything we ask him to do. One of the partners had sent an email that he was expecting a high priority phone call and to find and interrupt him no matter what he was doing, which is what my receptionist did in a respectful way, knocking at the open door, waiting until she finished speaking, and then starting to tell the boss about his call – only to be barked at by Hellbeast that he was interrupting when she was not finished talking. My receptionist immediately apologized, but she got up and closed the door in his face.

Hellbeast. I think I am being kind.

My receptionist was understandably upset. He’s young, this is his first position in a professional office setting, and he’s done a terrific job for us. My horror at her actions was written all over my face, and if there was any doubt it was erased when I stood up, excused myself, and left the very informal meeting we were in, ostensibly so my boss could take his call in private, but really so I could (1) regain my composure and diffuse my own flash of anger, and (2) check in with my receptionist to ensure he knew he’d done nothing wrong. He can be a little sensitive about making mistakes.

Things went downhill from there.

When it was my turn to have a one-on-one with her, we went over the things that needed to be done in the transition and how my accounting functions would be moving to the centralized headquarters office and all my office/business management responsibilities for contracts, leases, and purchasing as well. Reporting relationships would be changing – attorneys assuming more of an administrative and supervisory load. Essentially, everything I expected to happen would be happening.

We went over my employment letter for the balance of 2017 because of the firm change, and where our present document is 3.5 pages long, the new one runs 12 pages. There was also the temporary portal to view their employee handbook and office policies, of which I was expect to read and document having reviewed these documents. None of this was a surprise; new firm, we are essentially being absorbed as new employees and have to get set-up in their systems.

I told her I needed a few days to review all those documents, but would likely have it back to her next week. She pressed, wanted to have as much of this done this week, preferably before she left on Tuesday. I pushed back, pointing out that as an attorney, she should not want me signing anything I had not read and understood thoroughly. Did not stop her from asking again before she left the office later that day.

When it was my turn to voice questions or concerns, I asked very directly what my role in the firm would be for the next 6 months? Essentially, my day-to-day workload was being transferred to corporate. I am not a paralegal, and I would be the most well-paid office clerk if that was what they envisioned. She hemmed, hawed, gave me the canned “we are still figuring out your skills and how to put them to use” type answer, but in such a way that was vague and about as clear as mud. So I reframed and asked again, and she finally admitted she was not sure how they could use me. She also pointed out with her creepy smile that my base salary was higher than their highest ranking non-attorney staffer, and I responded that was likely because I have superior skills and experiences and am paid a competitive wage to manage a firm professionally and efficiently. She did not like that, at all.

But oh well. In her words, we are here to do a job, not necessarily make friends.

Before meeting her and knowing most firms do not allow their employees to moonlight or have other forms of paid employment, I already knew I would be having my personal attorney review any employment agreements and the documents referenced therein. To protect myself and my self-employment clients, I have a waiver from my present bosses on file, and every time I acquire a new client that may present a conflict with the firm, I let them know and they sign off. My doing accounting work for other firms, including 2 other sole practitioner attorneys, has never been an issue. But we are a small firm. I have daily, direct contact and interaction with the principals. They know me, I know them. The new situation is big law firm, and I did not imagine them being so flexible about this typical clause in employment agreements. Hence the review by my personal lawyer. I wanted no unpleasant surprises.

Hellbeast is not amused or happy that I took this step. Wednesday we had occasion to talk about a couple of things by phone, and both times she asked me about my documents. On the second call, I said that the acquisition was effective July 1, so she would have my documents on or before June 30. That was “unacceptable” to her, because they need to get me and everyone else set-up in their system. Having done payroll and knowing the time and billing system both firms use inside and out, it does not take up to 3 weeks to get 25 people set-up. Maybe a day, if they are working at a leisurely pace. But I refused to back down or budge. What I didn’t say – you’re not my boss, yet, and if my existing bosses tell me I need to get this done this week, then I might be inclined to try harder. But my existing bosses? Take my time, read and review the documents, ask questions, let’s just shoot for June 25 to be courteous to the new firm. Done.

My attorney said not to sign anything without getting a solid waiver on my self-employment. He wrote an email to Hellbeast, the BLF partner moving in to our offices July 1, and my bosses as well outlining his concerns and changes he wanted before he would allow me to sign the document. That was Wednesday evening. My bosses here are fine with it, even applaud me for being proactive and protecting my interests, said the changes requested are actually quite minor and other than the waiver for my business, they did not see it as a big deal.

Crickets from Hellbeast and BLF. Which is fine. I can wait.

This morning I come in to 6 different emails from her about various documents I submitted, letters I wrote to various vendors and holders of office equipment leases with our firm – all at the direction of my partners here and with their review and approval of the missives prior to release. Her “dressing down” tone was in my view quite inappropriate, but I admit my bias. I replied, with cc’s to my bosses (who along with the rest of the attorneys are out of the office today) and consider the matter closed until they return on Monday.

Crazy

Crazy is my catch-all term for anxiety and apprehension about things inside and outside my sphere of influence and control. The decision about the merger is reality and I believe I am doing my best to take care of business and serve both our clients and the partners and staff through the transition. I am also doing my best to take care of myself, and in truth that is the primary source of my present job crazy.

I have a plan B, because I have little stomach or desire for a role in a large corporate organization. Been there, done that, learned it does not make me a happier, better, or even more balanced a human being. Now that I have this much time invested in my ability to help, influence, steer a business to success, I am reluctant to become another tiny worker bee in the a corporate hive. That’s my personal preference.

However, I also have a good understanding of the parachute and severance package negotiated as terms of the merger. I will protect my rights to that and not allow anyone to try and remove it from my grasp. If I have to spend the next 6 months counting paperclips because that’s my new role, I will be the best damn paperclip counter anyone has ever met and continue to collect my salary and have my health insurance paid. However, I am unwilling to relinquish my self-employment clients. It was not a problem for my existing bosses and does not seem like it should be an issue for the new firm, particularly since all aspects of my employment agreement now in place should transfer to the new firm. How far they want to push it remains to be seen.

I dislike conflict. I am open to discussion of divergent points of view and trying to find an acceptable compromise. But I’m not feeling anything by contentious conflict from the Hellbeast and it’s stressing me out. I dislike being bullied myself, but professionally, I have enough self-confidence (and self-control) to manage the situation. However, when it comes to bullying someone who lacks standing or experience, I tend to get very angry very quickly. Concerns about my receptionist and the paralegals in my firm are genuine. The paralegals are professionals and will land well whatever happens – they are good at their jobs and will find another position if it comes to that – but my receptionist is a good kid and still quite green when it comes to big corporate politics. Perhaps I will be around to help, perhaps not. But whatever happens, I will be around outside the office if he needs help or resources to find something else.

I feel sucked into the type of toxic environment once more that I left years and years ago and allowing it to make me crazy. Which upsets me even more; I am allowing it to get to me. On the one hand it has been really great for my gym workouts and daily 300 kettlebell swings; the emotional aggravation tends to get drilled down to massive focus on whatever it is I am doing with the weights or form with the swings. On the other hand, gym and kettlebell swing takes up only about 2 hours per day. The rest of the time I have this “oh shit” sense of dealing with merger-related matters.

I hate that “oh shit” sense of anything, especially when it stretches out in front of me for at least the rest of the month, possibly the rest of the year.

Sick to my Stomach

This morning, woke up with a mild stomach ache and feeling not quite right. I thought it might simply be hunger – small dinner last night. Drank my protein shake and did not feel better. Went to the gym for my practice and found my stomach starting to roil, so I finished the slo-mo huffy-puffy and called it a day.

Now, I blame Hellbeast, just because I can. My temporary stomach ailment has nothing to do with the questionable lettuce I ate for dinner last night and everything to do with my aggravation with Hellbeast and her bullshit. I so rarely have any sort of upset stomach that is irritates me more that just about every other sort of sickness. Especially since we’re going out to lunch today and I will have to limit myself to even blander food than usual. We’re doing Japanese, and I figure plain white rice and miso soup should be fine. I can box up the rest for dinner or tomorrow.

But oh well. It’s the company that counts, and my peeps – the company is excellent.

TGIF

Glad it’s Friday. Busy weekend ahead with client events tomorrow night and Sunday, plus lunch and furniture shopping/browsing with K tomorrow.

Happy weekending everyone!

The week behind me and the return of negative girl

It has been quite a week.

My hour plus at the gym most mornings is my space to think about and process anything and everything. It’s me time at its finest. Unfortunately it is not always pleasant, fun, or positive. The past year I have grown stronger and more resilient in so many positive ways, but still, occasionally my thoughts are heavy and dark and negative. I think about the wrongs I failed to right, the hurts I have inflicted as well as endured, all the “shoulds” in my life. Not frequently anymore, particularly compared to most of the rest of the days of my life thus far but every now and again it sneaks up on me and blooms inside my head.

This weekend will be an all hands type weekend, where everyone is going to be in the office working on a case that has suddenly gone from dormant to white-hot in the span of 24 hours. With the separations and the HR carnage at the firm this week, I cannot seem to stop myself from feeling some guilt that we have fewer hands available to get through this short-fused deadline, one pair of which were both experienced and skillful in such matters. I am trying to utilize the tools I have been taught to shut down that line of thinking, because it only leads me to the edge of the rabbit hole of doubt, uncertainty, anxiety, and depression.

I have come too far to indulge myself with such dark thoughts.

But I acknowledge that it’s hard to push them away, to cease being hypnotized by the familiarity of negative girl’s vibe. Intellectually I completely understand that I am not responsible for the outcome of my coworkers terminations, although I was involved in the final decision-making process and there while their behaviors leading to this consequence were occurring. However, because I was so immersed in the events that crested to this point and emotionally wrung out over it, I am left feeling cracked and fragile. It is events of this sort that make me realize I do not have the stomach for big corporate life, where such skirmishes happen far more frequently and on a grander scale than my little firm. Perhaps we become desensitized to it, forgetting that real people with real careers are impacted by how their behaviors are perceived and received by others. I am not naive enough to believe such consequences only happen to the guilty and deserving, which makes it worse. But there are bullies in all walks and socioeconomic tiers of life and spread throughout the hierarchy of the workplace. My desire to keep the peace and maintain my own dignity and sense of fairness are rarely in conflict; I am predictable in choosing dignity and fairness over keeping the peace. This does not mean I ever like it and wish that peace, dignity, fairness could coexist everywhere 24/7.

Yep, that’s pollyanna spirit talking. I cannot seem to shut her up.

In the little pond that is my firm, I hold a position of authority. I dislike the word power, because it has negative connotations in this context. However, being a manager and a decision-maker, I have mixed feelings about my job and the responsibilities of leadership. Am I setting a good example? Am I abusing those around me for my own comfort and gain? Mostly I don’t think so, but the relief I felt when the terminations were decided by the bosses is impossible to deny. I know the more experienced 5 year associate will land on his feet; he is a perfect candidate for the dog-eat-dog environments of larger firms. The other guy? A near-perfect example of entitled millennial who needs to grow the fuck up in order to achieve his potential. I feel much less guilty about being part of this life lesson for him.

I know managing my mood is critical, because it is something that colors whole days and all swaths of my life. I felt negative girl’s breath on my neck this morning in my List of the day selection, repeating this week’s chest and front ab List because it very familiar and I could be well anchored to a single spot within the club. Neither of those things are bad; I did not feel like I was hiding out so much as not terribly energetic or interested in challenging myself. M used to tell me all the time to just do something, even if it were just a little something, every day. Trainer J offers a similar perspective. In my edgy, darker-tinted thoughts I feel negative girl trying to influence me, to suggest my thinking and my actions are flawed, an assault of the “shoulds” upon my heart and mind. This morning, it was that I “should” choose another workout that is both more challenging and more exhausting. I can feel that judgmental bitch trying to punish me for not getting enough sleep and the sleep I am getting not being restful. It is as if that aspect of my mind sees me as a rebellious, willful child that must be punished for transgressions.

I am battling back. I was at the gym. I successfully completed full sets of my List of the day plus the 8 TRX push-ups I am trying to master. These are an ongoing project, one that should be undertaken more successfully when I am not feeling so down and out and negative girl has been recaptured and contained.

While looking back at September’s distractions, from a purely practice perspective I understand how out of my routines I am and the impact it has on my headspace. Rational mind also knows it will take a couple of weeks for things to settle down and fall back into typical routines. Brain under the influence of negative girl is sure I’m about to quit training, quit going to the gym, be back injecting insulin before the end of the year.

My tools for reclaiming my head and turning off that negative noise is only kinda-sorta working. I was so busy tonight I did not leave work until after 8 p.m. and will be back at it tomorrow after my yoga workshop. Sunday is still kind of up in the air, but I’m pretty sure I will either be at the gym or at the gym and the pilates class. I am clinging to the routines and my Lists with both hands so I do not allow myself to become lost in the dark side of my head.

Mostly, I think a good long hit of sleep will help. I’m not going to work until noon tomorrow and Sunday, and I can sleep until at least 7:30 tomorrow. Many of my friends who have listened to my whining about work this week have suggested time away from the gym, maybe more sleep instead, but I believe the exercise is the only thing keeping me on the positive and flourishing side of the scale right now. If I were ill as in had a cold or something I would take that advice, but I’m fine, just feeling burned out and tired. At my core I am far more a shy introvert, and between the wedding socializing and the vacation socializing I just need a break where I do little other than my day-to-day tasks.

Sleep is the great equalizer, and despite the work schedule and the yoga workshop and getting in a practice on Sunday, I will be able to catch up on my rest.

And my reading as well. I still have a stack of books in my kindle that I’m working on, and I have been neglecting it this week and not shutting off my work thinking and letting it impact my sleep. Back to the books tonight.

I’m really glad it’s Friday and I hope you all enjoy a fabulous weekend, just in case I cannot get back to write this weekend.

Tuesday, a dreaded and dreadful day

So you don’t read to the end first (but you still can if you want), it was not as bad as I anticipated. Actually, it was not bad at all. As is typical for me in life and work, rarely is anything as awful as what my imagination creates and projects. While negative girl is pretty much locked away most of the time, her legacy has not yet been completely annihilated. At least while I am not under her complete and total influence, I can objectively see that anxiety and panic are not helping and the sky seems perfectly fine right where it is anchored.

Two big things on my work calendar today are now concluded and I feel this amazing, intense sense of relief. While I did pretty well compartmentalizing my feelings and sense of anxiety and dread toward these events, it leaks out in various other ways. I’ve been eating a lot more crap, for example. I have not been sleeping terribly well. Because this was the first time in a very long time I have had to do one event (attend an EDD hearing to defend my firm and its actions) and the very first time for a second (meet with an auditor to explain and defend a client’s filings submitted by his prior accountant) – ON THE SAME DAY – I think my skittishness is understandable. And as I said to another friend earlier, thank goodness I am on a regular schedule of exercise or I would likely be back on the insulin needle by now for all the carby crap I have been consuming.

Both events are now safely tucked away in my rearview mirror and we prevailed in one and reached a very satisfactory settlement in the other. While I feel kind of deflated from the experiences, I recognize it as merely exhaling all my pent up anxiety and fear of the unknown and the potential for crashing, burning failure.

And now it’s done and behind me. Whew!

I was thinking earlier about this type of experience in the negative girl realm. Things would have been so different.

  • I would not be sucking it up and getting to the gym anyway. I would have had a justifiable excuse for quitting my daily practices.
  • I would slink back into my favorite stress-eating junky food – soda, pizza, bread. Possibly even the occasional pancake, since I would not be worried about getting up and getting to the gym the next day.
  • Blogging? What blogging? The hiatus would have been 2 or 3 weeks, until finally getting through this, and then I might be too embarrassed to return.
  • My cranky would have been coming out more teary and snarky regularly melting down at home.

In the end, I would have come through, and I feel confident the outcome would be the same. But from a personal toll perspective, I have really not paid much of one. I have been going to the gym, practicing on practice days, training on training days, and I come away from both feeling loose-limbed and relaxed and remarkably clear-headed about what needs to get done to prepare as well as the rest of my workload.

While I have admittedly eaten more junk in the last few weeks, it’s not been horrifically over the top. A single plate of pasta in a 3 month span is unlikely to derail my nutritional goals forever, a couple of meat and cheese sandwiches, and some peanutbutter crackers spread out over a few weeks is unlikely to send my A1c into the stratosphere. In fact, I have been monitoring my blood sugar more closely and find that most of the time I am well within the ballpark of normal or trending low.

Posts are going up most of the time as normal. Yesterday was light because I was in the homestretch of a deadline and had a long, soulful email from friend J that had my mind on things other than my training session with trainer J. And I had a super fabulous training session yesterday. The soulful email is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it had me thinking of other aspects of life and things unrelated to training. And did I mention that I had fabulous training with new, weightier dumbbells?

This has possibly been the worst of all outcomes. No tears, minimal snark, but I’ve been distracted and likely more short and snappish with M and his projects around the house that may or may not require my input. Stress puppy me is not a good look, but it happens.

And now it’s all done. Nothing on my docket as far as work-work tonight, I got my 30 minutes of cardio done earlier today, and M has been out and about today gathering supplies and such for various projects. I have a glorious evening of nothing special to do.

I deserve it. Yep, spoiled, entitled me is in the house, couch surfing, reading, and planning to get to bed early and enjoy a good night’s rest.

Mine is a truly wild and crazy kind of life.

Mishmash of this and that

Been a pretty low-key weekend around these parts the last few days. Nothing extraordinary or exciting going on in my little world, so this post is just a compilation of the random in my life this holiday weekend.

Exercise nightmares. Friday night I had disturbing dreams about a few of the exercises on my Lists, specifically the hamstring curl using the stability ball and the glute bridges. For whatever reason, my brain was convinced my hips would no longer work and would not elevate as they are supposed to for these particular movements. I know – first world nightmares, right? Still, it stuck with me. Saturday I spent my 75 minutes reviewing the Freemotion cable machine stuff we had done on Thursday, but I always ensure I do at least 6 TRX pushups (the former bane of my exercise existence) and also ran through 20 reps of the ham curls and straight-leg glute bridges. Nothing reassures me that I am okay than an actual practice.

Battling a bug? Friday was also a work-from-home day in advance of the 3 day weekend. Except I got little work actually done and a lot of feeling cold and clammy with body aches. I did not work so terribly hard at practice to warrant the body aches, so I suspected I was trying to come down with something. Saturday’s practice was good, great even, and I spent the day busy with errands, housecleaning, grocery shopping, etc. By Saturday night, again I was feeling feverish and cold and whole body aches. Another 8 hours of sleep and I felt pretty much fine today. Pilates class and pretty much feeling fine. I have training tomorrow morning, at 8:15 rather than my usual 6 because of the holiday schedule, but I will stick with my normal routine of sleeping and waking rather than getting really spoiled on another day of later rising.

Pilates and doubling up on daily exercise. I did Pilates 2 Sundays in a row plus Tuesday and Thursday nights. It kinda/sorta got easier, but I am waving the white flag of defeat on the 2 nights of classes being overwhelming to my schedule. Going forward, I think Sunday mornings will be my new routine, with an evening of yoga on Fridays. Resistance training remains my first priority, but I want or need to put myself through some cardio each week, either as part of my resistance training or rowing or something else. I am still pondering this, because I maintain a very full work schedule and need to find some balance in all things.

The busy, the hectic, the crazy that is my work. First off, I have zero issues with working hard and making money. But sometimes even I need to know when to say when. Lately I have been subcontracting work out to others and referring potential clients to other sources. My part-time job is very accommodating to my desire to remain flexible and part-time, but as I assume more responsibilities we all recognize the need to hire additional administrative assistance, which is a mixed bag of blessing and curse. The little self-employment firm is thriving and I am now at capacity unless I hire additional help, and I am not yet willing to go that far. It is a good problem to have, one I am addressing by rewriting my business plan and creating a different set of objectives than when I started. I like the law firm, like having benefits, and I like the freedom that it gives me while being anchored with a pretty steady paycheck. With my 2 longest standing private clients, I have adequate work to create a very good living. However, I have several other small clients and supervising a couple of subcontractors with still other engagements. It will sort itself out, but I will have to take some more direct action in the next 60 go 90 days.

Choices and taking a new step forward with healthy eating. RD is working on creating a fairly structured eating plan to help me achieve more predictable blood sugar readings. Like the groundwork I have done with J on the exercise, I have done quite a bit of reading and testing various things the last several months with eating. It’s time for a series of eating Lists based on what I like, what I will eat, what I can tolerate in any given day or week. I believe my mindset is better and more receptive to making these changes now, and once I decide I am ready, I will typically dive in head first and make it happen.

Peace of mind equates happier and more restful spirit. Mentally and emotionally I have been leading an uneven sort of life the last few weeks. This week, this weekend, it’s been easier to release the unpleasant and the hurtful. While part of me wishes things were different, the practical side of me feels done and over friendships that have ended and the circumstances surrounding that outcome. I bear no ill will, wish them well outside the confines of my life and sphere of influence and awareness.

So other than feeling tired and possibly battling back on a sinus or allergy related ailment, it’s been a much needed relaxing (read: boring!) weekend. Sometimes I need boring, though.

 

Reasons, excuses, and it’s not all in my head

A couple of weeks ago I went outside Kaiser to my former primary care doc to have my hormone levels tested. Since I had a hysterectomy almost 3 years ago, I expected this was a mere formality to know where I should start on hormone replacement therapy, assuming I decided to choose that option. Interestingly I had an appointment with Kaiser’s gynecology department while waiting for the results. She wanted to immediately put my on synthetic hormones, which I flatly refused. My sister, 4 aunts, 6 cousins on my mother’s side alone have had breast cancer, and all but 2 of my cousins died from it. My mother died of uterine cancer. With all the studies showing that synthetic HRT causes increased cancer in women, do you seriously think I want to go that route? No thank you. I actually had to sign a form saying I refused HRT treatment.

Not exactly refused it;  I merely refused their options for HRT. My outside Kaiser primary doc prescribes bioidentical HRT, which is apparently derived from sweet potatoes (good to know they are useful for something). Cost is 675% more than synthetic hormones (I am an accountant; I cannot help myself sometimes), but it seems safer than the alternatives. I do not think there is any evidence thus far that sweet potatoes cause higher rates of cancer.

So there is that. But chatting with my non-Kaiser doc yesterday (and this is the primary reason why I stay on his patient roster), the hormonal imbalance symptoms offer me some encouragement for the way overall health things are progressing with me. For once it’s possible it’s not all in my head. For once, I may have actual physical reasons for feeling fatigued, or weak, or not seeing more results obvious results from my health and wellness efforts.

My results showed my cortisol reading was 6, and normal range is something like 150 to 250 (not looking at the actual results, so memory is fuzzy on the very specific details). Symptoms of low cortisol are fatigue, brain fog, inflammation, and can cause low blood pressure and hypoglycemia … which could explain why I am still experience blood sugar crashes without any insulin or other diabetes-controlling drugs in my system.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I had completely bought into the idea that hormones could be doing much to me other than impacting my fatigue levels. On everything else I have been fine the majority of the time – no hot flashes, no crying jags, no 24/7 PMS-like symptoms. However, as M says, why not try the safer bioidentical HRT and see if I can enjoy some better sleep, less overall fatigue, and see if my mind and my focus sharpen?

Why not indeed.

More interesting than all that, though, was my doc’s concerns about my current exercise level. He actually suggested that I may be working too hard at it, and perhaps a break from it until we get my hormone levels elevated would be in order.

We discussed this in some detail, because now that I am actually moving consistently, I am absolutely against the idea of stepping back and away and taking an extended break. To his credit my doc hears “working with a trainer twice a week” and imagines J standing around doing his best drill sergeant impressions while I am scurrying along muttering “no pain, no gain” like some sort of cult member to get through the sessions and collapsing on the floor as soon as time is called.

Well, sometimes the collapsing on the floor is accurate, but that’s just me and hey, it happens even when J is not standing there watching me do it. Probably more when I am on my own and do not give 2 shits who watches me lying there having brief but vivid fantasies of conking out for a power nap.

Doc was hugely relieved and reassured when I explained that I had started with J to learn to use weights safely and to train in such a way as to not hurt myself or others in the process. Our slow and steady consistency pattern – and me being a reforming “I really hate exercise” girl – convinced him that I am taking good care of myself and not overtaxing my system. He agreed I could and should continue, but stressed the “listen to your body” message as well. Except he doesn’t get my body whines for soda and chocolate and tells my head that it’s tired even before we arrive at the gym to get started much of the time. Sometimes the body and it’s message must be ignored to get things done.

But I do get what my village of experts mean, though, and I am heeding their advice and opinions. What is gratifying to me is that my fatigue at times is likely actually a real thing and has nothing to do with me being a lazy slacker when it comes to my exercise routines. That was an eye opener. I typically feel fine, better after training with J or a practice on my own, but there are plenty of instances where I simply cannot finish the 15 reps in the third set, and I would feel guilty about faltering and wonder if I am ever going to get over myself and just freaking do it.

While even a few months ago I would be secretly relieved to have a real reason for stopping whenever I want to stop, which could potentially be long before I need to stop. Now I view this as yet another wrinkle in training and practice, evaluating whether the fatigue is real and should be heeded or if I am having an off day and need to just keep pushing.

At the same time, I feel a bit vindicated in my inability to do more. I have been watching my diet, stripping away the gratuitous sugar and carbs, eating a lot more vegetables and fresh fruits instead, seeking more plant-based carbs whenever possible, yet making very little progress with the scale when I have been to see the docs and weighed in on their fancy-smancy medical scales. My body shape has changed, my little baby muscles starting to emerge, but I seem to be going up, down, all around with the same few pounds. I have wondered if I need to add some straight cardio to the mix, maybe more yoga every week, but honestly I have hardly any energy available for it in the evenings when I have time to pursue it.

I had decided awhile back that if my health is good enough I will make my peace with my body as it is right now and just go forth and continue learning as much as I possibly can absorb and make the best of the situation. Maybe Scott Abel’s books and writing are not as heavily loaded as I believe; maybe I am just more fogged-out than I realized. But I’ll keep trying, keep pushing, and do what I can until I find the right balance and solutions. I do know I am mostly relieved that it’s not just in my head, or that I have not truly broken something inside with the diabetes. Yes, there truly is no limit to the secret fears I harbor about my past self-destructive behaviors.

This doc did tell me not to add more to my schedule right now until we get my hormone levels elevated, so if I do cardio or yoga I have to forego my gym practice that day. There is an addictive component engaged right now that makes me very resistant to that idea, so I guess I will not be doing much yoga or cardio for at least a couple of weeks. Maybe; time will tell. I respect him enormously and understand his concerns, and I did assure him I will listen more closely to the signs and not discount them as me punting on commitments to myself. If I start feeling really fatigued I will take a day off or shorten my sessions. I felt that was a fair compromise. He has known me long enough, knows me well enough to understand how hard I have fought to make this incremental progress on the exercise habit and how demoralized I will be if prescribed to stop for a longer break.

For now and days like today, the zoomy sets I did this morning before a trip to San Francisco was the least stressful part of my day. I am glad I went to the gym beforehand, because I felt like it kept me calm and focused rather than climbing out of my skin and fighting the urge to slap the smarmy smile off my former boss’ face. Another client associate that attended the meeting knew nothing of our history, only that I had once worked for this firm, but afterward he remarked that former boss “tends to talk down to you.” I just smiled and said our history was complicated and I was delighted to be away from there. What was funny was the former president of the firm came up to me in the hallway and hugged me, asked about M and the kids, told me and showed me pictures of his own grandkids and new great grandbaby. The current president greeted me by name – she’s a very direct, no-bullshit sort of person and we got on famously during my tenure. It was kind of a slap to my former boss who treated me so poorly. Asshole.

I did have opportunity to see a lot of friends from that era, so that was fun. Lunch was at a frou-frou restaurant, and for those of us who do not appreciate fine dining, it was a completely lost on me.

Yep, still got some lingering anger. But oh well. So happy to be not still be toiling in those particular salt mines.

And really, really happy to be at home after a very long, hectic, busy day. Love my client – he’s a terrific, scary smart, interesting individual and just lots of fun to hang out with – but spending hours in the car with him and I came home with almost more work than I am sure I can complete on time. We will triage priorities on Saturday.