Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Notebook Rage - An Office Space Kinda Day

Much like road rage, notebook rage occurs when someone or something in a notebook lights the fires of anger in its user.

I get this all too often, and when it happens I envision an office space printer scene where I pick up my computer, launch it out my second story window, and greet it on the driveway with a bat, and a kick ass Geto Boys soundtrack.

And in my case, it's rarely the hardware that is the real problem, it's the people I am beholden to in my email.  That technological advancement that is supposed to expedite communications, is the thing that often trips people up, and enables them to speak (write) without thinking, makes them more sensitive to nuance, and acutely aware of tone.  All in a far more complex way than letters used to.  And in my case, there are several people around the world who are free with their opinions and all too ready with an aim and a shot, using those opinions as weapons.

In Corporate America, unlike any other time in it's history, is plagued with dotted lines.  Office Space summed it up with how many people told the main character about a stupid, simple negligible over site in his TPS report from the day before.  With dotted line reporting structures that are heavily used today in an effort to support the cross functional complexities of organizations, the result is overload, strain and exasperated minutae management.  And that's what I'm dealing with.  Don't even get me started on the politics it explodes by virtue of the power struggles between people who own functions outright and those who feel their dotted lines should be firmed up and solidified.

I'm caught between a rock and a hard place most days, and it challenges my mental health 24/7.  I have a job that supports people all over the world, which means that very often, I put hours in well past closing time, AND it means that I get to figure out how to influence people with different cultural histories and genetic make ups which make them more or less opposite in how they can be managed depending on what time zone they work in.  BUT it also means that my American boss is not the only person I am beholden to report to.  I have dotted line responsibilities into folks in Europe and Asia, and none of these people makes any mistake about how inconsequential or how disruptive I am to their regional processes/activities with any given issue...and that means each and every one feels obligated to tell me what they think I should be doing instead.

And so it's moments when this occurs (ok, this happens at least 3 times each week), when I want to fire my notebook out the window, bash it around a few times with a good solid bat, package up the remains, and ship them to my hard line boss with a post it note that very succinctly explains why he's looking at a pile of junk from me.

But I can't and so I won't.  And instead, I'll respond to all my emails with a smile on my face (albeit copied and pasted from last week's email), and I'll thank these blow hards for their time and valuable (ehem) inputs. Then I'll have another cup of coffee, and read the next email.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A blatant disregard

There comes a point every so often, where I watch the world around me going to hell and I whisper to myself "WTF?"  How hard can it possibly be, to just be normal?

I just finished watching a bit of "breaking news", which turns out in this bias world of reporting, isn't so noteworthy.  And the "entertainment news" is that Lindsay Lohan is in trouble again, still, for all the same shit she's been in trouble for, FOR YEARS!  Seriously.  This is going on since at least 2007 folks.  She is no longer noteworthy for anything but getting into trouble.  She's a washed up has been that maintains her spotlight and her wealth by being dumb.  Yep.  And the world sops it up like it's the bread basket and olive oil at their favourite restaurant.  Sheesh.  Even Charlie Sheen had a very short breakdown and returned to normal.  In fact, he could have spiraled like 6 times in the time Lindsay has taken to deal with this crap.

Which leads me to this line of thinking.  I said "normal" which is a real faux pas in mental health circles because it implies that the fringe has no place in it.  But I meant it, and feel exactly the opposite.  Normal to me, is anyone who deals with the stuff of life without twisting it to self benefit.  "Normal" in my mind is a pretty wide umbrella, capturing both what makes us all alike, AND what makes us different.  For me, the "fringe" is all self serving, and intentional, therefore, abnormal.

as defined in Wikipedia

There's nothing in any sort of mental illness that supports that kind of stupidity.  The absolute difference between stupidity and ignorance is that one is intentional and the other is legitimate.  Ms. Lohan may very well be affected by depression and other rife illnesses that lead her to want attention, BUT, I can promise you that no one needs or wants that kind of attention if they are normal and ill.  So what makes her special?  She obviously loves the attention she's getting, or she wouldn't carry this on.  And apparently the world loves paying that kind of attention, or they simply wouldn't.  And instead of being plastered on the front of every newspaper in the world, taking time away from more serious and life altering events say, like the war in Syria, she'd be checked into jail or a rehab clinic and she'd either succeed or fail, and carry on with the next phase of her life without impacting the lives of so many others.

You may say, I'm not really impacted...I can just turn off the tv or flip the page in my newspaper, but I have to be honest with you, I'm so seriously sick and tired of having to do that.  If I don't like pepper on my pasta, cool, no pepper.  It's easy to disregard the pepper mill on my table top.  It's not on every single surface of my home preventing me from enjoying a meal anywhere without pepper residue making it onto my plate.  That's what Lindsay Lohan, or more accurately, biased news and a sick and twisted population of ignoramuses are leaving me to do with my every day life.
But what bothers me most is both the lack of awareness that this is signalling a real demise of our population, AND worse still, that the general iq of our population is being so violently downgraded.  I'm not a genius, but even at the worst of times, I didn't stoop to such levels of idiocy and numbness that made functioning like a human being impossible.  We really are devolving if we allow ourselves and the insanity of the noise around us, continue to keep us from the geniuses that live in the quiet space in our minds.

In quiet; in solitude and in serenity and balance, live geniuses among us all.  The excess of this noise, is only comparable to brain washing and a steady cleansing/dimming of people who can navigate our world, and their own in particular, to something of greatness.

I remember growing up, my parents told me I could do and be anything I ever wanted to be.  As long as I worked hard, focused and put the effort and attention into it, I could do it.  Knowing that they were absolutely right, it makes me more adamant than ever that it's easy to just exist.  People do it all the time without getting locked up, photographed, and smeared through rags and orange jailer jumpers.  They range from slobs on their parents' basement sofas, to very successful people with healthy families and busy schedules.  Nice cars, nice homes, and comfortable lives.  And I know that living a clean, honest and simple life also means that no manner of money in any amount, could make a person act that dumb.  More money certainly makes room for more mistakes and bad gaffes, but it couldn't take away every ounce of common sense ever given to a person.  The only thing that could do that, is a willingness to disregard one's own moral centre for a public that eats it up and pays more money for opportunity to watch it.  Effectively dumbing down society, and lowering our own bars of excellence to dire levels.

I guess this has turned into a long rant, because I'm simply waiting for the arguments to start flying that poor Lindsay is sick, and needs help with addictive behaviours and depression.  I'm waiting for others to defend her poor soul to the end, because not being able to watch Lindsay spiral out of control, may in fact mean that we have to look inward and heal ourselves.  And I'm ever so tired of watching mental health used inappropriately as a crutch, when so many people out there with legitimate need for assistance, struggle.  We need examples of people who succeed living with mental illness, coping successfully with what can sometimes be catastrophic and debilitating challenges.  Please let Lindsay go, and focus your biased entertainment reports, on people who represent the real issues of our society, and who demonstrate how intelligence, hard work, effort and focus can change someone's stars.

photo pulled from (credits kantmann)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making the best of it - Making Lemonade

So one of the benefits to living in the city is it's access to rotating insanity and quirkiness.  There's no end of weird shit downtown, all of which are prime opportunities for inspiration, and great conversation starters.

But part of the charm in the country is the constant access you have to pockets of understated wackiness that bespokes the quiet humour of every day life.  We have pockets like this in our new town.  The most vivid one is a home on the main road coming into town.  Lord only knows who lives in this house, but you have to imagine that it's a retired couple, and the wife is all about keeping the husband out of her hair inside, and so she has challenged him with finding his own source of entertainment outside the house.  Fearful of venturing too far from the kitchen where a seriously kick ass apple pie might be produced, he sticks to what he knows.  He cuts his grass once a week and when he does, he takes advantage of all those Canada Goose decoys his wife has been hounding him about for 30 years.  He creates a tableau with these geese, using all his other found crap from the shed that his wife's been trying to get rid of, just so she'll keep off his back about none of his shit being useful anymore!
And the result is something that you can't help but admire.  It becomes a land mark.  A mile marker for people coming to visit you, so that they know they're still going the right direction.  It becomes a momentary smile of distraction after an other wise harrowing day in the city.  When you see this tableau, you look precisely to see what's different, what's changed, and instantly you know you're 2 minutes and 30 seconds away from walking through your door into solace and comfort: home.

This race took a week for these geese to run across the full width of this person's property.  All of them on children's rocking and bouncy horses.  It honestly gobsmacks me to wonder where in the world this person find 12 rocking horses, and 2 dozen geese.  It's hard to see it in the photo above, but there are at least a dozen geese perched on children's plastic lawn chairs, watching the race.  Presumably they've bet their best goose food on the winner!

And not to be outdone - all these geese in their various poses, there are adult geese, and several goslings.  Check out the teeniest tiniest ones on their little infant rocking horses keeping pace.  
not on duck
Aside from rocking horse races, these geese have been admiring the Stanley Cup, playing golf, croquet, baseball, and hockey.  They are always fully outfitted, and if I am indeed right, and there is an elderly retired couple living here, I am in awe that they are still married...and I am in awe of the fact that they have made such an awesome creative work out of being happily retired.

I am making a ton of assumptions here, but I can't imagine a life where this is your weekly mission in life, could not bring you so much joy!  

And that's my point my friends.  In every stage of life, there are reasons to be unhappy, and there are reasons for being anxious.  But there are teeny tiny little things that surprise you.  And those teeny tiny things that surprise you - if you're lucky and can be surprised every day - are the things that help to create emotional balance and stability.  Laughter and all those things that make each of us odd and unique are precisely the things that make us healthy.  Even on my darkest days, I find something to laugh at.  And I'm so lucky now to have a flock of plastic geese that will guarantee me that laugh at least once each week.  Find your thing.  And if you are able to find your own thing that will bring that joy to just one other person, dive in and make it happen.  Watching their smile will make yours so much brighter and stronger, and you won't even notice how much work it was!

Friday, August 17, 2012

homage to true beauty

Think this is exactly how I want to feel everyday about myself, and is most definitely the way I see beauty in my daughter.

Hope you find it equally inspiring.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Relocate, Relocate, Relocate

So I recall when I was off on leave and trying to find my way through the darkness, that my doctor said to me "the city and the lifetsyle here are really what's making this problem so bad."  He told me that at least "50% of his patients were having similar issues" to mine, which kinda blows that whole 1 in 5 statistic way out of the water.  I'd long suspected it, and am now even more convinced than ever that the 1 in 5 stat is outdated.  These were his observations, and I honestly whole heartedly believe he was right.  Living in the city and working for a big multinational company was chewing away at my fact it still somewhat does.  But until you can make the same kind of money doing the things you really love, in a place that brings you peace, well, you're certainly up shit's creek, aren't you?

So when the time was right, and we (meaning the husband and I) were able to make it work for us, we made the very huge decision to move from a city of over half a million people, to a town of only 3300.  That's right.  It's a "blink and you miss it" place right between a slightly bigger "blink and you might miss it" place, and a much smaller (300,000 ish) but significant city.  We're in heaven.
I have turkeys that wander into my backyard from a nearby farm.  Blue Heron's that fly over my roof top and endless varieties of birds that perch on my daughter's playscapes.  Neighbours that wave every time you see them.  I have a conservation area right on the other side of the burm that marks the back of my property line.  I have no fence, and I never thought I'd be the one to say this in a million years, but I'm way ok with that.  I've heard one siren in 9 months, and it was extremely brief.  In our old home, I heard sirens continuously all day and all night long.  I heard gun shots too.

I'm working from home every day, which takes a lot of focus sometimes, but also means I've got more flexibility than I've ever had in a job before.  And it means that I have no commute to collecting my child from daycare.  And when the weather is nice, and my windows are open, it feels an awful lot like working from a cottage - with the obvious exceptions of me having a glass of wine in my hands and sitting dock side.

It's not without it's drawbacks for sure.  It's half an hour to anything remotely like a shopping centre where you would buy normal every day things.  There's no car dealership or broadly recognized repair centre within a 45 minute radius.  And don't even get me started on the country clock, which seems to tick at least 4 times slower than any clock I'm accustomed to.  A trip to the doctor's office takes about half an hour longer than it really should take.  And getting prescriptions filled at the local pharmacy - even when there isn't a line up, my goodness, it takes forever.  And now the hubby is further from work so isn't home as often, and since moving out here was also a significant move "up" for us financially, well, let's just say that balancing the check book hasn't been easy either.

But, while the panic attacks haven't completely gone away, and I'm still dealing with the depths of my illness daily, the benefits I'm gaining from adjusting to this new life and lifestyle are immense.  I may have the panic attack, but there are way fewer of them, and I'm generally able to work my way through them without medication.  I think I've only used 1 ativan since we moved in December.  I'm warding off the depression, just by the simple change of scenery and the change in atmosphere.  The air is so much cleaner and crisper out here.  Even on the hottest days, it's not smoggy and doesn't choke you.

Welcome to headspace.  This is an investment for us in our family and in our health long term.  It's been an incredibly easy transition to make emotionally.  In fact I recall telling my boss the first day I returned back to work after the move in December, that it was already feeling like home.  I often miss the character we had built into our last home, but we're quickly building that character into our new one.  And I'm healthier in my mind and so much happier for it.
(photo credit

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A break is a beautiful thing

Especially when it comes to managing an illness like depression and anxiety.

When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2009, I ended up on leave for 14 months while we figured out the right medication cocktail for me, and while I worked with a therapist to develop and improve my cognitive and behavioural coping mechanisms.  It made me more assured than ever before that everyone needs a sabbatical at some point.  Not a week here or there, but a full on sabbatical where you fully unplug, explore other passions, learn something new and totally refresh and reconnect with your self and your soul.

Even when I went back to work then, I wasn't really ready.  I probably could have used more, but then again, maybe they (the world) were right, and there comes a time when you have to bite the bullet.  Reality was that it went as smoothly as it could.  I was bored stiff with my new responsibilities, and I was definitely treated "differently" because the grounds for my lengthy absence were tainted and well known.

BUT, imagine if I'd been able to return after a real sabbatical that accounted for the goodness I was bringing back to the work environment.  Imagine the goodness my family would get from me being able to unplug for a month, and for my husband to unplug for a month.  Just like we once did when we were in university.  Imagine if one of the benefits of working anywhere in the world; for profit or not for profit; union or not union, that you were guaranteed 1 consecutive month of holidays paid (even at a lower rate), what new fresh ideas and learned skills you could fuel your soul with.  The quality time you could spend with your family, your kids, living at the pace "God" intended you to.
I could totally get behind that, and I believe whole heartedly with that kind of social structure, that you'd see a huge shift in the statistics around mental health and wellness.

I took a week of vacation last week, and to say it was busy would be an understatement.  But I also closed the week feeling as refreshed as I have been in a really long time.  Day 2 back into my regular routine, and I'm already feeling as gloomy and grey as the weather.

The hubby and I spent a weekend in Niagara on Lake and had a most exquisitely relaxing time.  We did an incredible amount of driving, and I know that hubby was pretty tuckered out from that aspect of it, but I was cool as a cucumber and completely unplugged.  I can't tell you the last time I was that relaxed.  We stayed at the Three Forty Gate B&B, and soaked up the fresh fruit at breakfast and the ambiance of a really beautiful space.  We hit some of our favourite vineyards (Crown Bench Estates) and some brand spanking new ones we'd never been too before (Hillebrand, Stoney Ridge, Tawse and Thirty Bench), and hit up a great little cheese place (Upper Canada Cheese Company).  Ate some great meals at the Irish Harp Pub, and the Grill on King.  Yeppers, that's how relaxed I was.  On the Monday we picked up my daughter and my 10 year old niece and did lots of stuff, including a road trip back to Niagara to visit MarineLand which was more disappointing than even I had anticipated.  You would think a place called MarineLand would have more than a 5 dolphins, 3 sea lions, a walrus, a few baluga whales, a killer whale and a carp pond.  I kind of expected they'd have almost any variety of sea life you could fathom, but I was waaay wrong.  They had plenty of deer and 3 bears you could feed (which someone must have forgotten to tell them were all wildly available in our Canadian wilderness and which could be just as easily fed at any rural garbage dump).  I've seen more fish at the Toronto Zoo.  Both the hubby and I left and talked on the way home that we could totally run that place better.  This is notable only because there's not a chance in hades we'd be offering to do that, and it's the first time the hubby has shown that kind of inspiration.

After all that chaos I was just as refreshed as the day I left the B&B.  Just as refreshed as you could imagine.  If I had only had more time off, I could have expected at least a whole week of being refreshed and re-energized after returning to my job.  The panic attacks started like clockwork at mid afternoon on day one, and I've had several more since.  I've not been back to work a full 48 hours yet.

Whose with me.  How do you start a movement to demand a mandatory sabbatical for all?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I've been splinched

So my daughter is with her uncle this weekend, hanging out with her favourite cousin in the whole wide world.  We thought it would be nice to share our girls for our vacations.  So I get my daughter back AND my niece next week for a few days.

It's supposed to be a wonderful and waaaay overdue break.  And it is.  Only, I've never been this far away from her for so long.  Overnight sure.  And she was at her grandmas where she is very familiar with everything around her.  My brother doesn't see her as often and while she idolizes my niece, she's in completely unfamiliar territory.  Add to this that I'm overly worried about the fact that we just started her on a puffer last week, and that historically we've ended up in the hospital on this weekend both short years of her life, and I'm nothing short of a basket case.

In spite of it all, I got a pretty decent sleep last night.  First night in a long while.  But nevertheless, this house is too quiet, and I'm not racing through one task to get to another, answering a million toddler size questions, reminding someone not to whine, stop picking their nose, to use a spoon please and thank you.

I feel completely dismembered.  And I'm not sure if I am elated at the space for one weekend, or morbidly dampened with the emotional distress of being separated.

The plan is to run away for a weekend and have some fun and r&r.  That's going to put us another hour and a half away from my daughter, and I imagine I'll be stressing about it until we're there.

When did the prospect of a fun romp in a small town lose more appeal than being bogged down by responsibility and perpetual diaper changing?  This is messed up.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Recent discoveries

One of my biggest triggers for depression and anxiety is simply that I'm a worry wart.

I stumbled on this site, Wired to Worry, and am really enjoying some of what she's posted there.  Looks like she's even got several cognitive therapy tutorials linked on video.  I'm watching the one on Letting Go as we speak!  Happy Day!  We love free help!!!