Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm a Good Mommy

It's true.  My husband has said so more often than I can count recently...but best of all, my three and a half year old bundle of perfection just told me so!

We seem to have what many would consider a "tough year" most years in this family.  It all simply amounts to being the stuff of life that all the good moments happen around, but this year in particular, we started with close to $100K in consumer debt (not counting mortgages and car payments), and we are now exiting the year with half that problem.  While we started out fighting every unknown bug that could affect a tiny little human, we are now exiting with very distinct bugs and we've not had too terrible a time of it since tonsils and adenoids were removed in February.

And while we're much, much, much happier than we were last January (anti depressants and half the debt problem with limited illnesses is the magic answer), we're sending 2013 out with what appears to be a flaming stake up the arse hole.  In our general geographic area, the kids have been plagued with an outbreak of gastroenteritis in epic proportions, and now we're dealing with one hell of a head cold, which is robbing people of their will to live.  And I without a sick day left to my name, my grandmother has had an accident, my mother has needed help taking care of her, and I have been trying to be the model parent of a sick kid at the same time that I'm trying to be a model employee and model grand/daughter.  Them's the breaks.  I always told my mom I wanted to be supermom...now karma's kicking me in the teeth...asking me how's that feel?

But I'll tell you, the suffering, the sleeplessness, the emotional binge eating and general slavery for others is worth it, when your husband hollers from the rooftops how much he loves and appreciates everything you do.  And when in a moment of pure perfection, your sick child looks over at you, strokes your cheek gently and whispers "you're a good mommy".

I wish we could ring the bells on 2013 right this very second.  I want to leave it feeling like this.  I want to greet 2014 with more optimism, hope and energy than I had last January.  God I hope nothing else tries to kill the holidays for me between now and then.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Make the Good Things Count More

I've come to the conclusion that every good deed we do, should carry more points than anything else we do just to survive or even more, than those we do to disrupt someone else negatively.

I'm addicted to doing good.  I often don't give myself credit for that, because well, in every day ordinary life, that sounds precocious and snooty.  But I honest to goodness believe that my purpose in this life is to make the world a better place through small acts of goodness every single day.  Yes, selfishly, I long to hear someone...anyone...say that I've made a real positive impact in their lives.  But before you get all "look at the self egrandizing bitch go", it's not really because I want accolades or applause.  It's because I look for the confirmation that my purpose is being lived.  I want to make a difference.  I HAVE to make a difference every day.  I think my mom would be surprised to hear this, but I know I learned it from her and my dad.  In some way shape or form, I learned to appreciate everything in the world they gave to us.  I saw what they sacrificed, and appreciated what I was given.  This has made me the person I am today.

I HOPE that over time, those little differences through goodness amass to a whole lot of people who truly miss me when I'm gone, and who truly appreciate what I've done in my life and what my life has given to the world around me because then it was meaningful.

This week we delivered our hamper for a family we adopted for the Christmas holidays.  It's a first for me.  I've organized toy drives, and I've coordinated food drives.  I've even donated toys to the toy drives run by the police brigades and fire halls...but this was different.  This was my family giving Christmas to another family in our community, because we wanted to.  We wanted to teach our daughter through example the absolute awesomeness of giving to others when we have enough to share.  And I'll be honest, I sat on pins and needles waiting for the agency to come back with our match.  I waited on the edge of my seat, hoping against hope, that we wouldn't be matched up with a family whose wish list consisted of video games and designer purses.  I prayed we wouldn't get a family who were so adamantly opposed to birth control that the whole reason they had to apply for assistance in the first place was that they had 6 kids and not enough income to support their sex habit.

And don't get me wrong.  It's not that I believe some kids shouldn't get what they wish for at Christmas. Christmas is about the magic of being delivered miracles...no matter how big or how poor your family is.  BUT there is a certain degree of responsibility that needs to surround the charitable gift and the charitable receipt.  It's that whole idiom "if you give a man a fish, he eats one meal, if you teach a man to fish he eats every meal" in play here.  When I give, it's with the hope that it will give a lift to someone who is already actively trying to help themselves, and for whom it will have real meaning. Someone who asks for charity, but isn't responsible or thoughtful about their requests, isn't going to pay it forward and isn't going to be mindful that the gift came with heartfelt thoughts and meaning.  In any regard, we were blessed with a family match who made us want to give more and do more, and delivering that hamper made me feel awesome.

And so I've been thinking, as I wrap gifts and continue to teach my daughter that these gifts are ones we're giving the people we love to show them how much we appreciate them, that this is indeed my purpose, and probably the unclear path for so many others.

A lot of the things we do on a daily basis out of habit, are indeed acts of kindness for the people in our lives that we love.  These are the small things that overtime make a difference.  As a wife and mother, I cook the meals, do the dishes, tidy up, run kids to dance class, take little adventure trips through new neighborhoods on the way home from preschool.  I get the mail, do the shopping, host the parties, give the smiles, the kisses, the hugs.  I call my mother daily, and make time for my elderly grandmother.  I take time off work to be at my mother in law's bedside and be her medical advocate when no one else is willing or able.  I offer to help a colleague, I take a deep breath and cushion criticisms at work.  I actively listen in meetings, and when I do have to deliver bad criticisms, I remind the person first what I think they do great.  I put myself out there.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  And more often than not, I wish there was more I could do.  I am living the Christian life so many other "christians" have stopped living.  I am by no means perfect, but even trying has to be worth something.

And while I'm not naive, I do believe that if this world is operating on a points system, virtual or otherwise, if even half of us could do more of this every day, even just acknowledging it all for ourselves, we might
feel better about ourselves and be able to deal with many of the symptoms of mental illness in a much better way
we'd be better capable of coping with the onset and the triggers for depression and anxiety and
we'd maybe just maybe, be able to create a system in which doing good trumps doing bad.

We could shift social paradigms that seem to be rife with "I got mine.  Go away."  I smell a personal project brewing for me in 2014.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Frying Pan Meets the Fire

So, I've been frazzled, and busy, and talking on and on about feeling depressed, anxious and teetering on the way less than awesome quotients I impose on myself.  And now there's pile on happening at work.

It's a classic case of the guy who makes more money, hasn't been able to do what's required AND he's drowning, so the shit flows downhill, lands in my lap because well, I can manage it - but it comes without any additional money, no atta girls...just a "got this?  Thanks." and a whole bunch of high tailing it to the rear corners of the auditorium so they can watch in near absolute darkness.

mmm Yeah.  Alright.  So I've let people know I have concerns absorbing someone else's 50% of work load and trying to fit it into my 20% available time, when all the projects that he's downloading are high profile, high stakes, highly volatile, and totally cluster fucked.

And that was met with abject silence.  I guess in silence I have my answer.  And to be honest, with just 2 weeks left of the work year, I'm less than energized, motivated or proactive to be jumping in and throwing anyone a life raft.  I got my own shit to worry about yo.

So now I guess it's a waiting game - I almost don't care that when it blows up, it will be on my watch.  Maybe then, they'll think twice before ignoring an email.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Beasts Beckon

The thing about depression and anxiety is that no matter what triggers them, you have to accept them and embrace them as living and breathing and almost as if they are a separate but intrinsically connected division of yourself.

It is the Hap Happiest Time of the Year...I know it is.  I just wrote about it last week.  But it seems that the beasts within me are very in tune with that and like to challenge it every time I acknowledge my contentment.  My happiness is therefore dependent on how responsive Depression and Anxiety are within me.

Sure enough, the nightmares are back this week.  Disrupting sleep, and well, just plain invading my life.  And with as much as I have going on (the trigger) the absolute last thing I have time for in this life are the anchors which are depression and anxiety.  Still here they are.  Screaming loud and clear for only me to hear.  Last night the dream was so vivid I cried out several times in my sleep and woke up the husband.

It's not fair.  And it's just that simple.  But it's my cross to bear and I have to figure out how to battle it back just a little while longer, then it can have me for a week or so in January...hear that depression - can you just hold out til then?  Actually, let me get through the rest of this fiscal quarter, til I can haul in a good performance review and (fingers crossed) a decent raise for next year.  Really need the reprieve buddy.  Just a year - please?  Pretty please?  I'd like to feel happy and enjoyment in my marriage, in my home, in my limited parenting skills...just for a while.  I'd like to get just a quick taste of liking my job for just the briefest of moments...you know, to remember what it was like to enjoy working.

Please - just back off a while.I need at least a short period of forgetting what it's like to live with you both.  Maybe I'll come to appreciate the grounding in reality that I get from carrying you both around all the time...Maybe then I'll come to want some of the whacky "unreality" of what you want me to believe.  But right now - I just want a bit of naivete back.  A little bit of "ignorance is bliss"...please.  Pretty please.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Hap Happiest Time of the Year

Well folks, tis that time of year again where the magic of giving and receiving and celebrating is descending upon us like that welcome blanket complete with the rope and the big rock it's all attached to that are going to yank us into the dark abyss of a lake, surprisingly not very far from here.

Yep...I'm being sarcastic of course, but it's definitely that time of year when family gets together to remind one another of where we come from.  Where we can make the time to appreciate one another and remind each other how much we care.

And of course, then there's Santa and all the wonder and magic He, I mean She, inspires in us all to be gracious givers and even more gracious receivers.  Honestly, it takes a LOT to make just the basics of magic happen at any time of year...and most of all at Christmas.  There are only so many hours in the day for mom's like me to fit in magic making after surviving the office, and daily grind of eat your supper, wipe your butt, wash your hands, and for the last time "PLEASE AND THANK YOU"...er...please and thank you.  Don't you know Santa is watching every single breath you take you little monster.

And this year amounts to no different at our household.  In an effort to better control the budget this year, I got my sewing machine humming in mid summer and vowed that this year, I would make 50% of our Christmas gifts for family and friends.  At the end of the day, I only buy for a couple of our friends, and the rest is family and when all is said and done, I still have 35 people to buy for.  And I'm not the person who gives a small trinket and thinks "cool" we're all done here.  Each gift I give is actually well thought out.  Doesn't mean it's often expensive - I am a thrifty shopper.  But when you have to buy 35 gifts, well, it adds up no matter how cheap you are.

I often wish very much that I were a trinket lover and thrifty-strong enough to say, well folks it's been nice but I'm only buying for the hubby and kid this year.  I just can't.  It's not in my nature.  I've tried, and others have tried, but I'm in such a habit now of starting in January, that by the time December 1st has arrived, I'm ready to decorate, wrap and celebrate.  I honestly don't expect things in return, but I have to admit, I'm probably one of those people you hate at the holidays because they make you feel obligated to reciprocate.  And December is stocked up with celebratory events.  Getting around to see each and every one of the people in our lives that mean the most to us, well, sometimes it's a burden to be so blessed.  Christmas for us literally begins in November when we chip in to help my grandmother decorate, and starts peaking the first weekend in December when visiting begins.  Then it's dance recitals, Christmas concerts, visits with Santa, visits with family, hosting family dinner and my goodness, please let's not forget the wrapping, stashing, hiding and baking...

I'll admit though, I was liking the fact that there was just a bit of extra cash on hand to buy for the hubby and my baby girl this year...that was until our 3 year old started behaving like a mean girl at school, and demonstrated that it was high time she learned what it was like to have less and be a bit kinder in general.  And so we have begun our push to find things of a charitable nature we can do that will help instill in her a strong foundation of humility.  In a real tangible way.

So in an effort to kick start this, we're now going to be adopting a family in our community.  Giving them a Christmas so that my daughter can participate in the shopping and delivering of these things to a centre where our family can then collect them.  It may not make a whole lot of sense to her this year, but this will undoubtedly be the first of many.  We'll also be wedging in time to clean out our closets as a family so she sees that all of us are participating in a donation process and that all of us are working to meet the needs of our community and are being "kind to others".  When they say parenting isn't for the weak or the selfish, they really bloody well mean it.  This was in no way time and effort and money I had budgeted for.  And these efforts really will be wedged in between things that are critical to be done if our magic is going to be kept in tact and as planned.  And while I know the sanctimonious will be happy to remind me that this is truly the joy of parenting and something I should appreciate, I gotta be honest.  I'm already charitable with people who matter the most to me.  I'm respectful and kind and giving to just about anyone, but I'm not a "charity" kind of person either.

And so, the savings I've accrued by hand making so many of our family's gifts to others this year, is now being spent on those who really need it.  And the people who receive my handmade crafts and goodies will know how much I love them because of the effort that was put into them.  And God willing, my child learns by example that it's better to give than receive, to have love and warmth rather than things, and that all people deserve to be treated with decency, dignity and respect.  Crap there's a ton of lessons to be taught - no wonder our parents always sounded so damn preachy.  I feel preachy and I haven't even started for real yet.

Golly, someone better get me a strong soapbox.  I could be here a while.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

30% Awesome

So, I've been bad about posting, and that's probably because I've felt crummy.  I've felt so up and down over the past couple of months, that I'm afraid I'm back on my meds and I don't think I'll ever come off them now.

I struggle daily with feeling like I'm supposed to be sooo much more awesome than I actually have turned out.  Could be that Pinterest is responsible for me feeling so much the failure - there aren't enough hours in the day to learn and make all the things that inspire me on that site - but more than anything I think it comes from the execution or lack thereof of day to day tasks that seem to escape my capabilities.

My 3 year old challenges me at every single step - getting out of the house in the morning's is like trying to change the weather (in other words, it's impossible to leave on time).  Getting her to eat a meal is a never ending fight, and it's only because she's not willing to do as she's asked or expected.  Then she advises that it's "killing her" because well, she's repeating what I'm saying - her snail pace and her stubborness are often what I decry are "killing me".

Then there's work, and it's on one hand something I appreciate whole heartedly.  On the other hand, my ability to climb or move or change things up is extremely limited.  They want someone who can travel.  They want someone who will sing their praises.  They want someone who has already drunk the special koolaid and well, I'm afraid I tossed that cup before it even hit my lips.  And that means rot here and be happy about it, or find something else, and since finding another job is like well, trying to grow a new limb, I'm really trying hard to swallow my pride and rot with a smile on my face.  I'm not sure how long that will appease the powers that be, but it's my only game plan.  And even I know it sucks.

Which leaves me to wonder if I'll ever feel more than say 30% of the awesome I instinctively feel I'm supposed to be?  I'm less than the average person, in twice the average person's body, which brings me to the other thing I fail miserably at - weight management.  Add mood management to that I I feel about as infinitesimally small as a tick.

Which means I don't have a lot of wisdom to espouse at the moment.  I also don't have a lot of time.  I'm failing at all these things because I'm trying to make our Christmas gifts - my list is long, and I'm trying desperately to manage the hits to our pocket book this year by making as many gifts as I can.  I'd say roughly 50% will be handmade goodies and crafts...but all this takes every single spare second, and I started back in August.  I'll be working it right down to the wire.  It's keeping me awake at night.  The lists.  The lists of commitments made, the lists of things left to do, the lists of how I'm failing my kid, my husband...then the worries kick in, and it's about why my daughter does what she does, and am I handling it the best possible way - the answer of course is always no but I'll be damned if I can find something better.  AND then there's the millions of ways I'm failing my husband.  I want so much to make things better with him, and I'll say we're stronger than we have been in our relationship in over a year...but I have no drive, no interest and no time to invest and he suffers from it.

So when in doubt, give in right?  I guess I'll try to find a way to lower the bar of my own expectations and be satisfied with my 30% awesomeness.  Maybe one day, I'll come into my own all by a surprise.  I'll wake up one day and never look back because each and every day won't be the drudgery of same old same old...it will be one more day of freaking fantastic, or as my daughter says "it was a perfect day today"...well, maybe one day in the far off future, I'll feel that way too.

One day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

ebbs and flows

Life is full of ebbs and flows.  Jolts and lurches forward.  Screeching stops and gradual accelerations.  Depression, mental illness for that matter, is really not very different.

When I'm at my worst, it's usually because I'm dealing with a perfect storm, and I've forgotten in the midst of trying to balance a million fire balls in mid air, to take a breath, take meds, do yoga or invest in the silencing of my brain.  And when I'm sniping and snapping at the smallest things, and I can even feel my face showing complete and utter disgust in the world, what hurts the most is knowing that the recipients of my ire and the pain and despondency of no hope are all in my own head and are at that moment, uncontrolled.  I had a moment like that briefly yesterday.  We've all been sick, and stressed and running a mile a minute and when we went to my mom's for dinner yesterday I struggled to lug all our crap into the house, had to call my husband back to help me heave crap in, then couldn't get in the door without fighting a million hurdles and it just felt like I was trying to navigate a medieval gauntlet from hell.  "Jesus H Christ!" I snarked.  "One of you kids come and deal with this ball!  Get it out of the road!"  I looked up to see my mother and my step brother looking at me like I'd walked into the room breathing fire.  I wasn't, but that's how it came out.  I was mildly frustrated, but at the brink of my perfect storm, that's how I look to the world at large.  Mild frustrations are treacherous climbs the likes of Mount Everest.  And a smile looks like Satan has usurped my body for his own and my possessed spirit is seething it's disdain.

If I could change these moments, you best believe that in a New York City second I would change them.  I'd do a 180, slap a happy ass smile on my face and act like I'd just been through the sexcapades and taken home the bronze, (cuz you know if you win the gold you were trying too hard to have any fun).  And I'd give absolutely anything not to let my daughter or my husband see or feel them.  It breaks my heart when those moments overtake me - for that reason more than any other.  I'm living with the knowledge that my child will have to say one day "there was a time when I didn't know what would greet me when I got home.  My mom or the evil doctor inside her."

But the moments of happy are sheer, exquisite joy.  That's the trade off.  You can never be normal - well I can't.  And that's probably because there is no such thing as normal.  But you can be your best sometimes, and you can value that above everything else, because that's what separates us from the beasts inside us.  And while you live with the moments where your body feels like it's going to explode into a million little bits and with their own wings, fly away so you can never put them back in place...you can let one little teeny weenie tiny voice in the back of your mind, shout out as loud as it can that it will all be better in the morning.  A good sleep, and some peaceful quiet will help you to put the pieces of you back together, and you will have a better day tomorrow if you just persevere through this one.

Even Wil Wheaton knows what that's like.  It just gets better.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Weight of People's Opinions

So I'm at a point in my career where I've been in the same pay grade, doing basically the same things for a decade and well, that means it's time for an assessment.  Not that I'm not constantly assessing things anyway.  But lately, what this means is a bit different.

There's been a lot of change in my work this year.  At every level of the company, things have been getting a bit shook up.  And when I'm strapped for cash, and I'm lamenting that I could, should or would be making more money if only (pinpoint any one of at least a dozen reasons), well, I have to acknowledge that I and my illness are partly responsible for 10 years of stagnation.

At the same time, vertical and horizontal mobility at my place of employment hasn't really been viable.  And so, I've been pretty content to take on new projects but to hold the course because frankly, having a job is better than not having one, and I get paid very well for what I do, and I've learned in my 40 years that some things in life are more important, and having a job which affords me the time to devote to such things, well, that's the bigger priority.

Still, when you work in Corporate America, it almost doesn't matter how stagnant the industry is. They want to see, in fact they have to see, that you want more.  Just to maintain your status quo you have to give people an illusion that you're eager for more/better/different, because that's the generally accepted signal that you're worth your keep.

So I've done what I could to keep that illusion alive.  I've done what I had to do to make sure that my execution was top notch, and that the quality of my output was reputable.  At the end of the day however, it's a constant stress, a constant pain, and a constant struggle to find a groove where I can achieve this without feeling like I've compromised my own principles, ethics and morals.

Which brings me to the crux of today's angst.  My manager is firmly of the opinion that I should be doing a 360 review.  In other words, I am expected to solicit the feedback and input of approximately 30 people I work with for opinions and thoughts on what I do well, what I don't do well, and what I should be doing.  I've tried twice now to duck out of it, but have failed miserably in flying this one under the radar.  And when pressed, it's hard to simply say that I'm not interested in doing it because frankly, I'm past that desire to look for others approval/input on my personality.
I think the level of maturity I've reached tells me that the only opinions that really matter are mine, my husband's, my child's and well, honestly my closest friends on only certain issues.  I'm really not so career minded anymore that I'm interested in crafting people's perceptions of me.  And where at one point in time, it would have mattered to me that someone thought I was too assertive or not assertive enough, I just quite frankly don't give enough of a damn any longer to try and appease either of them.

And so, with metaphorical chains on my wrists, I'm appeasing my manager and going through the motions of setting up this feedback survey, knowing full well that some of the crap it generates will potentially trigger my anxieties and depression.  And I'm trying my damnedest not to be placing too heavy an emphasis on the potential results.  I'd sooner they fire me than cultivate any part of myself differently just to appease yet another innocuous and anonymous survey comment.

Feedback is important if you want it, need it, or can use it to move on.  Knowing it's all futile anyway makes this a whole lot of wasted effort for a whole lot of people, and it only potentially hurts one person.  It's like the corporately sanctioned bullying mechanism to weed out the weak ones and force them to sit at the front of the bus near the driver.  Hopefully this marks the beginning of the end of my career here and I can look back a year from now, lovingly looking at a severance check and a brand new chapter where the only opinion that matters in my life is truly mine.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Call to our Crusaders

Be loud.  There are people struggling with mental illness this very moment who need to hear they are normal.  That they are strong.  That they can cope with what ails them and come out victorious.

Be supportive.  Lend them a hand.  Help them pull themselves out of the pits and show them a light.  Any light.

Be there.  Day or night.  When they call on you, answer.  Be positive.  Share.

We have mounting needs for crusaders in the area of mental health.  I've long known about organizations that work with the health systems to process people and get people help, but there aren't nearly enough forums that reach out to individuals or where individuals who need a hand can turn to without stigma, without launching into a very cold and clinical system or without having hundreds of dollars to spare on out of network therapists, in a seriously underfunded portion of the health care programs.

In Ontario, I know this is changing, albeit ever so slowly.  And the fact that it's changing at all is a true testament to all of the crusading men and women in the clinical and non-profit programs who made it happen.  BUT, with the numbers of new people being included in the list of highly stressed, highly depressed and functionally living with the diseases growing each and every day, we really need to make our voices heard.

Let them ring clear.

Let me be the first to sing it from a roof top.

If you need me, I WILL BE HERE!
You are strong, you are normal and nothing you're going through right now is insurmountable.
I LOVE YOU!  And YOU ARE WORTH MY TIME and everyone else's...including your own.

Problem Solving for Dummies

One of the most integral pieces of learning we do in our childhood development is to solve problems.  It teaches us to look at problems from different angles, to deconstruct and rebuild so that we can perfect our outcomes as best we can.

We teach our children as toddlers that if something doesn't work, take it off/apart or turn it over and try again.  When you do, and apply what you've learned in the first attempt, you're going to have a better result.  As grown ups, we seem to forget this rule, or lack trust in the outcomes it will produce.  That's because it means in some cases we have to give something up, or risk losing something we have for the promise or hope that it will be better once we've tried it a different way.

Example.  If you're job sucks, after a certain point, it's not so easy to just quit your job and change careers.  You have to plan that kind of transition or risk being homeless and hungry or worse, putting your family through some degree of hardship.  In other cases, your government physically demonstrates it's no longer working for the people who elected it, and you would think that would clearly be a sign that a tear down or rewrite of the current infrastructure is in order, but people are afraid that will lead to lawlessness, disorder...perhaps there's fear that the people we put in power are actually too powerful and stronger than we are.  In still other examples, when a business has an operation that makes them a little bit of money and keeps things balanced but doesn't grow or show the ability to make more money, the  people who manage it are scared to expand scope and change tactics to do it smarter, better and perhaps more ethically because well, there's a chance it will cost more, and potentially won't make as much profit and therefore it's better to maintain a broken status quo.

So I imagine trying to explain this to my 3 year old, who get's incredibly frustrated when her foot gets stuck half way into the leg of her pants, or when her sock goes on upside down, or when she can't quite tie her shoelace or fit a puzzle piece into the picture...It's impossible to explain this in a way that a 3 year old would understand because at it's core, it's wrong.  And I think that's why I find it a lunatic thing to NOT deconstruct problems and start again at any age.

It's no wonder we're all on antidepressants.  We're not governed by our liberty and capability.  We ARE governed by fear and shame.

We overlay the words and concept of "risk assessment" on our decision making process as we grow older and wiser.  It's still a critical part of our decision making process and has a viable and legitimate place in our world.  Doing something that will compound the world's problems is definitely the wrong choice even when the short term benefits are so appealing.

That said, there becomes a point where you get stuck in "analysis paralysis", and that risk assessment phase overcomes you're ability to take important risks because the overall longer term benefits of it so outweigh the short term pain we'll feel to re-frame or re-build the solutions.

If you are fundamentally unhappy in your work, but you risk having to live in a trailer versus the nice executive home you've built for yourself so that you can keep feeding your family and go back to school to learn the trade that will inevitably make you happier than you are today, is it worth it?  It would certainly solve the immediate problem, AND would make it less painful to work until you were of ripe old retirement age, AND would show your children/family/self that you value your happiness above a paycheck.  It demonstrates that sacrifice is often the price you pay for success, and that success can't always be measured by a dollar sign.  Not at all the kind of lessons you try to AVOID teaching your children, so how can that then, be a wrong choice?  Well, no one likes poverty.  No one wants to live pay check to pay check.  Does that (or better yet, Should that) prevent you from trying?

Similarly, when resources are constrained at work, and doing things more ethically, or increasing scope will increase costs and labour investment, does it really make that the wrong choice?  I'm thinking this is a prime example of when you should turn it over, flip it around, tear it apart and start from scratch.  And when your government shuts itself down and act illegally, well then it seels like it's time for some sort of reform, reconstruction, rethinking.

We have to let go of the notion that tearing it apart and going back to the drawing board is a bad thing.  "The purpose of this meaningless and empty shell of life is (as Tim Minchin has said) to learn as much as you can about as much as you can, and to fill it".  I see that as the best justification of all for turning things over, starting from scratch, embracing change and taking the risk.

Not taking the risks are, too often, the riskiest choices of all.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lucidity is Wishful Thinking

So it's felt a lot lately like the world's a bit out of control.  There's no rhyme, reason or sense to how insane people are acting.  Most of what I'm referring to is in the world at large, and some still is far more personal.  In any case, it's all insane, and it's getting rather difficult to keep hanging on to any tethers of normalcy.

For a start, there's the shut down of Congress in the US.  In essence, there are Americans not being paid, bills not being paid, and not because there isn't money...these aren't austerity measures, these are children, pissed off they haven't been able to run the world into the ground legally, so their going to do it illegally.  AND while there has been endless rantings and ravings over the lunacy of it all, there's absolute apathy at delivering, forcing driving a solution.  If this were 1786, there'd be far less talking and a whole lot more torches and pitch forks, and a new government would be forming, under a new constitution, and frankly a whole new individual investment in the outcomes would be obvious across the western world.  At the very least, every congress person who is responsible for this shut down should be fired, without their ever loving insane pensions, and the jobs should be completed by the people who actually sit there with a brain in their heads focused on doing something for the country - full stop.

Then there's this whole "wag the dog" stuff happening in the middle east - whereby it would be just really fucking nice if one person with some clout had a brain and said the whole fucking thing is corrupt - and it's either time we step up and take over, or leave them fucking to it - no support, no trade, no sides - step out and fix your own shit so the good ones see opportunity for change and ask for fucking help first.

Then there's the personal life which honestly combined with the lunacy of everything else around me, is just not letting me get back on a diet plan.  I'm eating.  I'm cowering in a corner, and while it's stressing me out, it still seems infinitely wiser than throwing myself out into any sort of fray where the cross fire is sure to kill me.

So my apologies for seemingly unending silences here - I'll pop back in now and again when things seem far less dangerous.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Food Becomes Addictive

So this is not a clinical diatribe.  I am not a doctor.  But I have to admit that weight issues have plagued me much of my life and I've spent at least 30 of my 40 years worried about every bite of food I took, and every muscle movement I've made, so I think I've been learning a little bit about myself and my addictions along the way...enough at least to share with you, and enable you to either connect and feel a little less alone in your own sufferings, or to help you find something you resonate with, enough to better understand something you're dealing with...and most importantly so that I can break things down to biteable and learnable chunks for my own learnings.

So, I have an addiction to food.  Food for me is so much more than simply a means of fueling the fun stuff you see in crazy ass photos they mass produce to sell you a frame at Christmas.

Food for me is all of these things:

  1. It's fuel
  2. It's yummy
  3. It's memories
  4. It's family
  5. It's celebration
  6. It's comfort
  7. It's love I give to others
  8. It's love they give to me
  9. It's love I provide myself
  10. It's a mask
  11. It's a mute button
  12. It's a thinking tool
  13. It's a good day
  14. It's a bad day
  15. It's art
  16. It's a coping mechanism for stress

Food is how I deal with life.  It's how life is represented for me.  It's what I do, it's what I consume, it's what I give of myself to the people that matter.

So just as it would be with any crack addict, smoker, or alcoholic, when you take that source of the addiction away, it hurts.  Viscerally.  But more than what I imagine it would be with any other type of addict, it's laced with fat shaming, competence shaming and very little of it is the same kind of "awe inspiring" concern or compassion or even tough love for the addict.  Moreover, bullet number one there, is "fuel".

You can't simply take food away.  You can take yummy food away, but the replacement is often tantamount to taking it all away and thus begins a terrifying out of control spiral into any number of other food related anxieties and disorders that are even more health and life threatening than obesity.

And finally when memories, and family and the love of the most important people in your lives is also then thrown into the mix, the psychological damages of removing those very comforting things that food provides, well, puts everything else out of balance.  And if you were to take the brush out of an artist's hands they would struggle emotionally with how to express their innermost thoughts and feelings, and the same is true for someone who's day revolves around meal planning, preparation, and execution...even if they never partook in the results removing the ingredients that invoke all those inspired memories, thoughts, feelings and communications all need some other form of balance.

A smoker who quits the cigarette finds comfort in replacing their addiction with something less traumatizing like cooking/eating.  A crack addict finds something to replace their demons with in crochet or art...when you take someones canvas away - how do you replace it?  With what?  Find a new canvas you say?  Like needle point?  Not nearly as satisfying.  With cigarettes, well after a certain point of time, you're right, that would be equally satisfying for many more of the items on my list - I know because I smoked once for a lot of years, and food was my cigarette replacement.

There's not much in this world that will replace food for an addict.  Anything else that replaces food in the same volume, velocity and intensity will never, ever, ever, be healthy in the same measure.

So I ask you the great void of the blogiverse, what singular thing can we replace food with that will deliver all of these 16 things for me in equal measure?  I'm really hoping to find a good answer in this.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Where the buck stops

The last couple months of high stress and low self esteem have taken it's toll.  I'm now back off my meds which is awesome.  I think that transition is going quite well in fact, but the vacation my brain took, has left me back to where I was weight wise, the day I had my surgery.

At least it's not a full 40 lbs I have to take back off, but still.  The level of disappointment I have in myself for slipping can barely be described.

This morning however, I'm 100% back on track...and I'm looking forward to 2 more years of cottage cheese, fish and salad greenery if that is what it will take to put this battle behind me.

No matter which tool I have chosen to use to help me moderate the volumes of food for the intake, it is my choice full stop, what those will be volumes of.

I've enjoyed every single bite, and I'm very lucky I enjoy every single bite of the good foods too.

Here's to onward and upward...one more time.  And when I need a shove, a kick or a fire lit, I'll circle back here to remember just how deflating it was this time, stepping on the scale and realizing I really had checked out for far too long.

:)  All the best, and here's a cheers to you for listening.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Naval Gazing

There should be a lot of naval gazing happening in the western world lately.  A lot.

Truth spoken, there should be naval gazing done world wide, every single day of our lives, but in recent weeks, there's more need than ever, I think, to look inwardly.  To reflect on what we've learned as a society, as human beings, as contributors to daily active lifestyles, as parents, wives, sons, daughters and husbands.

We know certain truths at different stages of our lives, but nothing is ringing more poignantly for me this last few weeks than this one "how would I do things differently if given the chance?"

Truth is there's plenty I'd do differently, and most definitely plenty I am pleased with the way I did it the first go round.  And this is one of the reasons I'm particularly reflective this week.  If you look at the global stage and then you do an activity like the one offered up by the To Write Love on Her Arms people, you learn that there is a real place in this world for every single one of the people who inhabit her.  And if that's true, then really, why are we all so militantly determined to change them?  If everyone has a purpose, surely none of those possible purposes is harm toward others.  Surely none of that purpose can be to hate, deride, denigrate, convert, bully, be victim, be coward, be unsure.  None of that purpose can be second guessing, and hesitation...because...what if today were your last day?  Have you lived your purpose?  Have you done right by your purpose?  Have you had the opportunity to understand what that purpose has been?  Has it even mattered what that purpose was?

I don't think I have most of these answers.  I think the purpose of lifetimes are the sole deliverance of these answers in piece meal.  But that said, surely, if we agree with this admittedly naive sounding diatribe, in no way shape or form does it condone tyrannical power tripping, extremist conversion and hate crimes.  It doesn't condone disrespect for a single living being anywhere...which is also admittedly quite Buddhist...so why do we see it?

Well, a devout Christian would argue that it's evil, satan, adam and eve and that damned apple of course.  Any child would tell you it's because "he started it" pointing awkwardly to open space - or was that an extremist muslim, jihadist, or some other form of terrorist?  Would it be a stretch to say that drug lords and human traffickers in Africa and elsewhere are all doing it cuz they think it's right, or because somehow they've learned they are better off trafficking than being trafficked?  Or that a rapist, molestor or murderer is doing it for kicks or to silence beasts within that feel less than, victimized, and who need to feel some sense of individual power over something else?  The goal of this isn't to patronize, insult or even empathize with the bad people in our world.  I couldn't...but I can ask why and expect a fairly reasonable explanation.

So much in this world aims at devolving us, breaking us down...making us implode upon ourselves.  There's no rational explanation and no religious one I'm much interested in hearing frankly.  As far as faith goes, I don't think it gets a pass from reality full stop.  There has to be a grounding in what's practical and relevant to the world we live in, or let me tell you, I don't buy it.

So while we reflect on where we were 12 years ago when terrorist occupied planes flew into buildings, fields, and military compounds and we're listening/watching world leaders stand up and talk loudly about whether or not to open up yet another can of whoop ass in a country and a blood bath no one else has any business being in, while we ignore atrocities that are happening in countless other jurisdictions, well, I need to ask myself the kinds of questions you find on the To Write Love on Her Arms site just to feel a little less insane and victimized.

I have to wonder if we all actually did this for even 5 minutes as a global population, could we have a peaceful 5 minutes across the globe...and maybe even a minute more while we took a deep breath to appreciate ourselves after reading it back through?  Does so much of our hatred for others, and our need to change them stem from an inability to recognize our own victories?  Does it stem 100% from a lack of self esteem?  I'm guessing at least that a lot of it does.

So why I can't be replaced?

I am the only one who could be Maggie's Mommy.
I am the only one who knows how vitally important that bunny is.
I am the only one who can translate my husband's thoughts.
I am the only one who makes him laugh with his belly.
I am the only one my mom calls Best Friend.
I am the only one who thinks like me.
I am the only one who speaks like me.
I am the person who has held on to hope after 40 years of proof that hope can be futile.
I am the only me there is.

I have so much more to see and do and experience.  I would like to see a world in tact.  I would like to experience happy people, and while I would never expect utopia, I would hope to see a world where it's safe for my daughter to travel to any country without crippling fear.  I would like the world to naval gaze for 5 minutes like I just did, and see if that actually changes even one small part of the world.

Here's to hope.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cowards among us

I didn't comment yesterday because honestly, I can't find the words to truly describe how repugnant, disgraceful and hateful it is that someone would write a letter recommending that a mother euthanize her autistic teen, donating his non-retarded body parts to science (their words not mine).  Nor do I really have the words to describe how sickened I am that people like that not only simply exist, but that they would exist in this country, and that they would so shamefully show their face in the world.  While I have often said that I would wish no one real harm, I do have to confess that I wish this woman an opportunity to feel a similar wrath from a similar stranger.  Unprovoked, unnecessary, and unbelievably horrifying.

As someone with friends and family who either have autistic kids or work closely to care for them, and moreover, just plainly as a parent, I'm dismayed by the heartlessness and evil of this letter. 
And to lament to GOD even, I'm just appalled...and honestly that's an understatement.

In a show of support to my friend who has an autistic teen whom I've only ever been delighted to be in company of, I wrote the following:

I hope you know that all parents out there, of all children, who have any type of moral compass at all, are questioning the contents of that woman's character. Not because this story is about an autistic child, but because it is about any child at all. And I hope what you can see in that, is how far the advocacy and awareness generation that families like yours have gone to improve the situation for people dealing with autism has done so much good. It's never enough, there's always more to do, but know that this woman is an outlier and people aren't seeing autism the way it was once seen way way way back. With much love and support. I hope armies of parents, children and concerned citizens show this woman the error of her ways.

It's really the best I can do.  No human being deserves this kind of treatment.  NONE.  

I do hope that armies of parents, children and concerned citizens unite to show this coward a mirror. I won't pray for God to do it.  That's not enough.  We as human beings need not to be vigilantes, but we most definitely need to be mirrors.  We need to hold hands and drown out the sounds of idiots everywhere.  Russian homophobic politicians, American homophobic politicians, religious fundamentalists in every single religion known to mankind.  

Hateful people everywhere need to be put on notice that it can no longer be tolerated.  That it will no longer be tolerated.

My love and support go out to those with children who have special needs of any kind.  

My heart and my ire and my stiff upper lip are right there with you as you field this blow.  Others like me have your back, and we will not rest until our children demonstrate the kindness every single person deserves. 

That is how to be good.  That is how to be Christian.  That is how to be human!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dear Mental Illness - you moxy son of a bitch

Dear Depression:

You lie to me.
You belittle me.
You take away the pleasure in even the simplest things.
You fuel anxiety.

Dear Anxiety:

You scare me.
You terrorize me.
You paralyze me.
You trigger depression.

For fun?  What pleasure is there in ripping apart a person's brain, self worth, their heart?

Well, I hate you both.  Loathe and despise even.  You are cowardly assholes in a world that is already difficult enough to navigate without your nagging and pestering.

I'm asking you to please, just run off back to your own little corners.  Take the nightmares, sleepless nights, and constant second guessing with you. They have no place in my beautiful life.

You have no place here.  You are not welcome.  Please listen carefully, I hate you both.

Thank you for your efforts.
Now fuck off.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Presumptuous People Part Deux

Sorry I checked out for a couple weeks.  Vacation is vacation after all, and I find I'm really good at unplugging.

I've been watching my meager stats for this blog, and I'm surprised daily by which posts are drawing the most views.  The one that stands out above all the others is the one about Presumptuous People.  Either I am one, or there are a whole lot of other people out there dealing with overwhelmingly presumptuous people of their own, and they must like hearing they're not alone.

For me, the latest foray into dealing with a presumptuous situation has to do unfortunately, with my mother in law.  You see, my husband has been dealing with an ailment for several months, and it's been enough of a thing, that he sought a consultation with a surgeon.  Nothing overly serious, just really cramping his style, and causing a real good dose of continuous pain.  When it looked like he might require surgery, my mother in law mentioned coming to spend a weekend with us.  I assumed that was so she could spend time getting to know her granddaughter better...and I really should know better by now.

When I suggested locking on a date for that, she said "well let's wait and find out when M's surgery is, and I'll come down to help you out after that."  I still can't tell if this was prompted by her thinking she's the only one who could possibly look after her ailing son, OR if it's because she actually thinks that it would be of some kind of help to me.  I'm guessing if I have the stress of my husband recovering from surgery, catering to my mother in law and dealing with her whole host of "woe's me" would send me to the booby hatch.  And I've learned never to assume anything with this family.

Fast forward to finding out that M doesn't require surgery after all...he just has to pull up his big boy pants and suck it up sunshine, til it gets better.  This sucks, but it means we don't have the added worries of a surgery to contend with and that's very relieving.  Taking the opportunity then to get the weekend visit scheduled before other complicating factors could sway plans, I suggested a weekend in August...you see any later and then it's not even a real option because they have a gazillion animals in the house, and they heat that house with wood.  So no leaving a burning fire in the fireplace with a pile of animals locked in, and no leaving them out in the cold will do obviously. SO - she jumps on it, and says yes - which was wonderful.  But OH, we were committed to going down and spending the weekend with her brother around the same time to celebrate his birthday.  I like M's aunt and uncle, so I suggest that we have them come up to the house for dinner...

Her response: "Wonderful.  It's a plan then."

I left feeling like I had another task checked off the proverbial list and could swing getting another "scheduled activity" done and dusted - freeing up labour day weekend for us to chill out and hide from humanity after an incredibly busy summer.  And now my daughter will get the dedicated grandparent time she needs and deserves, and well, I can collect the wifely bonus points for being such a good daughter in law.

Then she kept pushing - had I invited the aunt and uncle for dinner yet?  See - when I'm busy and disconnected, I really mean it.  I make maybe 1 phone call a day to my mother just to let her know I'm still alive.  When I finally got around to phoning, M's aunt of course accepted the invitation, and then filled me in on my mother in law's original plan.  Cue the ominous music please.

She was going to come down to visit the aunt and uncle for the weekend, convince my sister in law and the family to drive in (a 7 hour drive they'd rather take ONLY if the alternative route was a 5 minute stroll through hell), and they'd have us join them at the aunt's also...and then she said, I would do the cooking...yes you read that right.  But just in case you missed it, let me reiterate....I WOULD DO THE COOKING.

Really?  And when was I going to be asked to do this?  And excuse me "WHY ME?"

But that's really not all of it...there was no asking the aunt and the uncle if it would be OK for her to come down and visit for a weekend or which weekend might be more convenient for them.  It was just a statement..."I'm coming for a weekend".  And there was no asking the aunt what she'd want to do for food, let alone an offer to bring something so the aunt wouldn't be more put out than she should be.  There was no question if she'd be comfortable with someone else cooking in her kitchen...NEVER mind assuming that one's daughter in law would just say "Sure...let me whip up something awesome for this tribe here at the very last minute."

Like wow, what was going to come next?  Written and hand delivered invitations to the neighbours?

So I wish I had some advice on how to make presumptuous people aware of the impacts their behaviours have on others.  Or how to prevent it from happening to us routine victims of said behaviour.  But the only nugget of wisdom I keep turning to is "cut them loose", which I gotta say sometimes comes with a price.  In my case, I'll just keep being creative with alternatives that are more manageable, and I'll say "no" when it's absolutely the right thing for me to say.  Otherwise, I'm afraid cutting it loose isn't the option for me.

If it were a friend or acquaintance, that would be it for me.  People get 3 strikes in my life...when they burn through them, I don't typically hang on to be used again.  It's sad when you have to do it, and it certainly makes you feel bad.  But in the long run, being around people like this is toxic.  It makes the relationship very lop sided and what happens when a scale tips?  Well, one end of the scale is left floating out in no mans land while the other is grounded, safe and has access to whatever it's basic needs are (and then some).

Surround yourself with people who appreciate the gifts you offer and demonstrate that by offering you as much in return.  This isn't a tit for tat recommendation, but it is about surrounding yourself with like minded, genuine and generous people who are free with their time, their love and support.  People who are like that are all way too busy giving of themselves and you'll never find them being presumptuous about what you can do for them.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Evolution of a Work Place Bully

So while bullying may start in childhood, the behaviors follow people throughout their adulthood too.  Especially if they've been rewarded early on as signs of strength, ability to influence and individuality.

Fast forward to being a grown up, and holding down jobs, and the bullying culture is ever more present.  It evolves from hair pulling and name calling.  It gets so much dirtier.  So much more tainted and passive aggressive.  I'm beginning to think the use of social media in bullying for teens is going to make this even more impossible to overcome when in adulthood, they've already honed the passive aggressive mob approach to bullying.  It scares me.  It really does.

My own experience with grown up bullies hasn't been a happy one.  I'm a strong and intelligent person, and as I've recounted before, I've always been the one to stand up and put a stop to bullies.  But at the same time, I've been brought to my most vulnerable by 2 major factors of adulthood:  Becoming a parent and dealing with a workplace bully.

See, on the playground, the only real difference between a bully and his or her prey, is age, size, and whatever social/physical quirks are visible.  It's very much a visual connection that drives a bullying situation to open up and take root.

At work, it's beyond the visible.  It's about inferiority of the mind, inferiority of public persuasion and political influence.  They say preschool is a dog eat dog kind of world.  But the workplace is as cannibalistic as it comes without being you know, a real cannibal.

If someone perceives you to have different methods, ideals or communication styles...you're a potential target.  If that person holds a position of authority, they have the added bonus of the big stick, without having to work hard to use it.  If that person has direct authority over you, they have the big stick, they use it, and it takes an awful lot to get them to put it down.  OH, and the whole time you're being bullied at the office, the one thing they can take away from you, means almost more than any amount of pride stinging or self esteem bashing they could have done as children.  They stand between you and your livelihood.  They stand between you and putting food on the table for your children to eat.  They stand between you and your next rent payment, electricity bill.  They stand between you and the necessities of life which let's face it, is the ultimate blow to a person's identity and pride.

So while there were outlets for handling bullies in your childhood, now you have to figure out how to beat the assholes at their own game, and if you thought the mob mentality of the internet was difficult to deal with...try looking at your HR rep, the group benefits guy, and the "employee assistance representative" who are all paid by the same guy who's paying your bully.  Oh - and their job, first and foremost, is to make sure you're "OK enough" to keep going and making the biggest guy richer...so the bully, really has you over a barrel, and he or she has the most layers of protection a bully could ever wish for.  That is all to say, in the work world where people have the power to affect change, there really is no such thing as allegiance for the victim.  Any way out means you have to find a new way to earn your living, redefine yourself and re-establish new street cred.  You need to remove yourself from the situation, which you know, just doesn't mesh with the golden rule and the social mores of fairness and justice.

My workplace bully was promoted and rewarded despite the many reports HR, the ethics team and the ombudsman received from several sources.  He was highly scrutinized and his reputation was tarnished, and he STILL came out ahead.  My reputation was tarnished, the perception of me was that I was weak, evasive, incapable of managing my work.  I got punished for being the victim.  In many ways, I'm still being punished through his legacy.  Ever tried rebuilding street cred when nothing else in the environment has changed?  On the playground, one did this by actually fighting back and laying the bully out.  You gain credibility, when the other's perceived superiority is diminished.  In the workplace however, the only way to escape and change this is to literally quit your job, and branch out into a new industry.  Start over.  Let me tell you how impossible that is.  My livelihood is still at stake.  Food on the table for my child is what keeps me in what amounts to an abusive situation.  Supporting my family is what keeps me from doing what is right - standing up for myself and for others, because it's bitten me in the ass once already...who does that twice?

So if bullying takes this route to stardom, and simply not being one makes you the perpetually opportune victim, what's the right answer?  I wish I knew it.  My only advice is to stop it in it's tracks early.  Be less attached to your earnings and earning potential, maybe?  This is one of those things that's easier said than done.  I've been trying to escape this situation going on 10 years.  My bully has moved on, but another one is surely following him.  The pecking orders of a work environment breed and thrive on bullying culture.  The only way to really escape it is self employment, and as a friend once said, then you have the world's worst bosses to answer to...yourself and your customer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beautiful People Shine

from the inside.  That's because they don't have time or energy to belabour the appearances of beauty on the outside.

They live without malice, anger, jealousy.  They serve others in some way.  They smile, and they provide a beacon of hope to the despondent and the people in need.  They rarely need what they aren't willing to give in return.

In fact they give more than they take.

Beautiful people are gracious and kind, generous and loving.  Their hearts have all the eloquence of a mozart concierto.

Acknowledge and appreciate the beautiful people in your life.  Because it's damn tiring looking after all the needy, jealous and angry ones and doing a bit more of that appreciation and acknowledgement thing, may make you a bit more beautiful too.

Keeping Tabs

So, I'll admit, I have a great memory.  I never forget those who have wronged me or done right by me for that matter.  It's not because I can't forgive...but not forgetting means that hopefully next time I make better choices.  I also keep friends close and enemies at arms length.  I keep my eye on their weapons, and watch with a cheshire grin when their just desserts are eventually served.  I wouldn't say I'm keeping tabs.  It's not a points system that I work on - it's more like an over-site or governance thing.  I watch Karma because she is the epitome of justice.  And when something goes wrong, I look again to Karma to understand what I've done to precipitate any misfortunes I perceive.

And it's happened again.  I've survived once more to watch someone who once wronged me greatly, be handed a hard dose of Karma because apparently, some people learn some lessons the really hard way.

My old boss, the one who bullied me and put me out of commission for 14 months, has been served another helping of just desserts.  I'm left pondering however, if he's really gathered the lessons he's supposed to have learned.  I had already thought his penance had been served once. While on my medical leave, the entire team I left behind took issues regarding his treatment of them to HR.  He was hauled over the coals, put on watch, and then the entire time I was out on maternity leave, things got tougher for him still - the coals turned into a laboratory table and he was scrutinized as though he were a dead fly under a microscope.  When I came back to work from medical leave he punished me in more passive aggressive ways than he'd previously punished me, but when I got pregnant things changed.  Like we're talking, he did a 180 degree about face, and began treating me gently, with respect, even what some could envision as older brotherly kind of love.  He was suddenly good to me.  Perhaps because he no longer viewed me as a threat because he was busy fighting the foes who attacked in my absence.  Who knows.

(I have just realized that this is the first time I have ever explained the work situation in any detail - I imagine this means it's appropriate then to do an article on how workplace bullies make their mark.)

When I returned from maternity leave, this didn't change.  BUT, I noticed through conversations with other team mates over the past year that he had simply changed the direction of his bullying.  I could write the scripts for some of the things reported to me.  He was dreadful to one of my colleagues, and I realized that perhaps he was being good to me, because he had a new victim.  After all of that, he'd not learned a single lesson.  At least not the right one.

Fast forward to April of this year, and that same boss announced that he got a great new job as CEO at another company and bailed ship.  I'll admit to feeling a bit lost and forlorn - after all, bully or no, I've worked for this man and learned to survive his ways over the course of 9 harrowing years.  Nevertheless, he moved onward and upward, and skipped about 3 levels of professional management statuses to go from a Manager with a Director's title, to CEO.  HUGE step.  Some may have wondered (ehem) if he were ready for such a step.

Fast forward once again to yesterday when Karma showed me I was wrong to have been feeling this way about the change his departure had introduced into my life.  In a flash he emailed the old team letting us know that after a whirlwind 10 weeks in his new job as CEO, his entire management team resigned effective immediately, and well, that left him with no new job.  Seriously.  10 weeks as a CEO has to be a new record.  The tone of his email was upbeat, crisp and simple.  Didn't go into details, but he noted that a lot of lessons were learned.  My goodness, I lasted longer as CEO of my own company and never got to sell a damn thing before calling it quits! And I dealt with months, no years, of regret and pangs of wanting to reinvigorate and start it all up again and do it right this time.  He seems chipper.  Ready for the next challenge, and is seeing humour in the amount of free time he has available suddenly.

Which leads me to two independent conclusions:

1) Not a bad attitude to have if you can afford it.  Job markets being what they are, he's still too young to retire and too old to bounce back quickly...I hope he can afford it.
2) When after your entire staff has taken you to HR, and you've survived to play another day, and your approach to that new opportunity leads your next entire management staff  to actually coordinate a mass resignation to occur on the same day in a job market where many people are lucky to find anything that will pay them a livable wage, what lesson has been learned?  Especially if you nonchalantly announce it by email to your old team, with a positive, upbeat attitude?

Honestly, that's where my analysis of it ends with a shaking head, confusion evident in my brow, because the truth is, this is the type of person who repeats bad behaviour because he never learned the good kind.  BUT, it's ability to baffle me so made me re-examine things in my own life.

Living by a mantra of dying without regrets, and knocking as much off my bucket list as I can as evidence that I've lived a life worth living, also means learning lessons.  By doing and by watching others in every single way I can.  So I pulled out the bucket list to see if I'd made any progress.  It's been a year or so since I checked in on it.  I was able to edit it a bit (the beauty of making your own bucket list is that it's your prerogative to update it).  And I knocked a couple other things off too!  WoooHOO!

This is a list I don't mind keeping tabs on.

·       Show Maggie Aurora Borealis
·       Take Mike to Asia
·       Take Mike to the Rocky Mountains
ü  Write a book
ü  Be paid to write
·       Have another baby   Love another baby
·       Retire early   Retire with time to spare
ü  Own a cottage   Rent a cottage
·       Weekend in Paris
·       Vacation in Italy
·       Vacation in London, Eng.
·       Travel all over Europe
·       Weekend in New York City
·       Eat at the Russian Tea Room
·       Shop at FAO Schwartz
·       Shop in Greenwich village
ü  Learn to cook like a chef
ü  Visit a town called Rebecca   Find a street named Rebecca
ü  Diners, Drive Ins and Dives Road Trip
ü  Host a fabulous cocktail and dinner party catered by professional chefs and wait staff
·       Custom build my own house
ü  Decorate a professional looking tiered cake
·       Got to the ballet or the opera
·       Watch Maggie graduate university
·       Give Maggie away with her dad at her wedding

·       Watch my first grandchild be born

Friday, July 12, 2013

Accepting Inadequacies

It takes a lot of introspection for people to even recognize inadequacies.  It takes frail self esteem and a biochemical problem for people to take those inadequacies and explode them to unrealistic perceptions of ones capabilities.

I have long wished I could be one of those people who don't even think of themselves in terms good enough at something or not even.  One of those people who are great at everything they try.

I wonder if those kinds of people even exist?  If they do, what do they do for a living?  Do they have families?  Are they taking some other kind of medication that I am not even aware of?  How easy is it to get your hands on such a drug...cuz let me tell ya, I could do with a healthy dose of "I'm fucking awesome thank you very much and every thing I touch turns to fucking gold."  Yes sir.  I could do with that right...about...NOW.

So for someone who struggles in dealing with significant change like I do, I have to admit I love it at the same time.  I can't imagine a life wherein each new day was remarkably similar to the last.  I can't stand monotony.  Love adventure.  But I have my limits, and I fear I may have opened up flood gates to where I've invited more than I can control into my personal space at work.

My old boss (the one who once represented most of my trigger issues that related to a 14 month stint on medical leave) was also the one who took it on the chin hard enough, that when I returned from Mat leave and was dealing with a sick child, he stood up for me, and protected me, and basically made things much better for me.  He got hit from all sides while I was out on medical and maternity leave, and well, I guess he realized I wasn't his worst enemy - and that meant I was no longer his victim.  I never fully trusted the man again, but I think the best reasoning for that was that I now knew where he kept the knife he'd use to stab people in the back.  You live, you learn is the expression...and I learned to watch the knife closely.  I learned how to duck and weave, like any good boxer.  I studied my opponent so I could better succeed in going the next round with him in the ring.  At the same time, his level of protection was leaving my days pretty empty and unfulfilled.  After a while, this gets dreadfully boring, empty and meaningless...I get restless and need visceral change to keep me focused/interested.  So...

Well, he's left the company and moved on to bigger/better things.  And that means I've been re-aligned to someone new.  My first order of business was to beg "Please God, give me something cool to do!"  Historically, she and I have been very friendly, but it's a completely different management style.  I know there's a knife in her arsenal, she's not afraid to use it, but I have no idea where she keeps it.  Seems too, that several of the people on her staff also have them, and use them often.  They're sharp, miniature knives, and their particular brand of torture is more like leaving little nicks in your soft side as you walk by through the veils of their cloaks.  Make it worse, these people are smart...in many cases, smarter than me.  So I need a new survival mechanism, and I'm floundering with not having figured it out.

In the old arrangement, my strengths were noticed, and accepted, and my weaknesses were noted without being highlighted, as were everyone else's for the most part.  You had to be REALLY annoying to be called out for your inadequacies, and generally, if they were that obvious, they were likely related to communication skills or poor etiquette.

In the new arrangement, it seems as though everyone may be aware of both strengths and weaknesses, but they are far more likely to point out the weaknesses.  Whether this is in the interest of assisting others to grow, or to take advantage of the opportunity to shine - I think the jury is still out.  And so, the more I try to better myself and elevate my once dumbed down and severely softened communication style to something more direct (what I was accustomed to doing say 15 years ago) to meet with the communication style largely in use by my new teammates, the more I seem to recognize that I've allowed myself to "dumb down" full stop.  I feel absolutely out-shined and overshadowed by others ability to communicate, process information, and poke holes in "everything".  And the fact that "everything" is up for grabs and "everything" is scrutinized with a fine tooth metal comb, is wearing on my nerves.  Probably because I'm rusty from being bored for so long, and likely too, because I've signed myself up for stuff that's a bit outside my comfort zone already.  Add scrutiny on top of that and well, it's making me feel absolutely inadequate, in way over my head, and wishing I had a Joe Job...you know, one where very little thinking is required - one that requires repetitive action and minimal focus.  One that I can shut off at 4 pm without giving it a second thought.

I just wish I knew what parts of my perception were physically real and what parts were fictitious strings of brain chemicals and anxiety based coping mechanisms making everything seem a million times worse than they potentially are.  I think it's time to make a dr's appt before it goes too far.  Anxiety attacks are on the rise for me...and time to meditate and exercise have been absorbed by new projects at work...bye bye coping mechanisms, hello depression.