Of the choices we make and the consequences they bring

Be warned: This entry is heavy. If you’re not having a good day, I’d skip this one.

Facebook is both a strange and sad animal.

As happens when we get nostalgic, I was tagged in a Homecoming picture from high school. There are 8 of us in the picture. Seven of us have spent the past decade graduating college, getting married, having babies, or just trying to figure out what the hell it means to be a grown up. The 8th person in the picture was murdered a little under 5 years ago by the married man she was seeing.

After looking at the picture, it made me stand back and survey where I’m sitting. I put myself in situations where I easily could have been seriously injured or killed. Through some minor miracle, nothing bad happened to me. I very well could have not seen my 26th birthday. I may not have been a stripper or a heroin addict, but my life choices could have led me down a similar path. I could have been just another headline. But I’m not.

I feel like I’ve spent most of 2014 in tears. In spite of all the pain and the moments where I gladly would have taken a bullet between the eyes, I didn’t fall back on my old habits. I didn’t drink. I didn’t scratch or cut myself. I refused to let that part of myself win. My greatest weakness can also be my greatest strength. I kept reminding myself that I’d clawed my way out of hell before. I’ve suffered. I’ve been bent. I never broke.

I firmly believe a lot of depressed people don’t give themselves enough credit. Even if you can’t force yourself to sit up in bed, you’re still breathing. You haven’t given up yet. You haven’t left the pillow over your face in the hope that it will smother you. It sounds silly to give your autonomic nervous system credit, but it’s not. It’s still doing its job. You’re not dead yet. Some days, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. I don’t believe in half hearted suicide attempts. I believe that there are ill conceived suicide attempts, but never half hearted ones. Raise your hand if you’ve tried something you knew was a bad idea and lived to tell about it anyway. I thought so. Give yourself the itty bitty bit of validation that you’re still breathing. As I said, a bullet between the eyes might be a gift from God some days. Other days, when the ol’ brain chemistry is normalizing, you can look around, take in all that you have, and smile.

Whether you’re fighting for yourself or someone else right now, hang in there. Keep converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. Sooner or later, you’ll find a door that leads to somewhere better.

*cue Gloria Gaynor*

You will survive.

XOXO!

Of being the one doing the talking off the ledge and 90 day time limits

I, of all people, have reached my moment of zen.

The transitional week is over. All the (virtual) paperwork has been done & we’re all officially reporting to J. Over the past week, he’s been trying to acclimate himself to our area. He managed to piss off my staff twice in 2 days. I’m the queen of putting my foot in my mouth, but he made me look like a shining example of tact. In all fairness, my staff had a right to be pissed. The powers that be wanted to make a change in the work hours. Currently the phone until is 9-6 & our area is 730-430. The powers that be wanted to move everyone from 9-6 for consistency. J told me this first & I knew it wasn’t going to go over well at all. I kept my mouth shut & let my staff speak for themselves. One has another job & the other is a single parent. The way J presented it was…less good. His reaction to their objections came off as dismissive. Ultimately, he agreed to see if he could negotiate different hours. The compromise was 8-5. That still didn’t go over well. Again, they objected. This time, he came across as just insulting. Instead of getting pissed at him, I let it go. It’s not worth fighting with him after less than a week. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

He eats, breathes, & lives his job. He doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone is like that. I got an email from him sent at 1 in the morning. I about fell out of my chair when I saw the time stamp. I spoke to my staff & told them to give it 90 days. If after 90 days, the schedule isn’t working out or they flat out aren’t happy, I would support whatever decision they made. Through all of this, I’ve been the calm one. The world hasn’t stopped rotating on its axis, but I had to check a few times to be sure.

The more Old Boss & I talked over the course of the week, the more I agreed this could be a positive change. I don’t think J is the asshole he came across. This situation has actually brought out the best in me. I haven’t thrown a temper tantrum. I’ve been the one encouraging everyone else to be open minded & give it time. I’m prepared to talk to J if I need to about how he keeps upsetting my staff. Y’all, I’M BEING A GROWN UP!

Yes, ponder that for a moment. My crippling self doubt hasn’t shown up at all. I realize this isn’t a personal affront. I’ve survived far, far worse than a management change. This is a mud puddle compared to the volcanic craters I’ve dragged myself out of this past year. It’s nothing I can’t handle. I feel like I should be pissed off, but I’m not. I’m accepting it for what it is. It spurred a much needed change. Life doesn’t have a reset button, but it might have a 6 second rewind button. That’s all I need.

In other news, I’m a dark brunette. Go new hair!

XOXO!

Of new bosses and the things that change will bring

This week brought a very unpleasant blow.

I won’t be reporting to my current boss any more.

There was a reorganization as happens frequently in Corporate America. Thursday morning, my boss told me that my group would be consolidated with the related phone unit under a new manager. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know just how much I love my boss. I literally had to walk away from my desk to go cry. After I cleaned myself up, my knee jerk reaction was “I’m quitting! I’m looking for a new job right. this. second!”. Not a very mature way to handle something like that, eh? After the shock wore off a bit, I was able to think a little more reasonably.

My new boss (J) is the guy I’ve mentioned being jealous of because he was promoted to a higher position before I was. Recently, I overheard him talking about the stress that said job is causing. I felt sorry for him and offered a suggestion he might want to try (Walk away from your desk to eat lunch. Sit in your car if you have to). I doubt he took my advice, but I shared it nonetheless. As I thought more about it, he seems pretty chill. If he gets flustered, he’s good at keeping it inside. I’m…not. There’s about 8 weeks left in the year. I decided to give it until then to see if we work out. If we don’t, then I’ll move on. If we do, yay! In the meeting where this was officially announced, he looked a bit like a deer in headlights. This is a change for him because he’s jumping into an area he knows almost nothing about. I’ve already been working on the whole “think before you speak” bit & I’ve resolved to do my best to help him out as he’s learning.

My staff was also cut as a result of the change. I went from four to two direct reports. The two I lost don’t relate to this new group at all. Of course, I took it personally. I was lamenting to my dad how, once again, I felt like a crappy manager. He offered up a cliche, but very solid advice.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

When I first started, I looked to the head of the department and did my best to emulate her level of sartorial choices. My (now former) boss’ boss never wears khakis and a polo shirt even though I see one of the CEOs sporting that outfit all the time. My wardrobe choices have relaxed into the level that most other people are wearing. I wore my version of a suit when I thought I would have to go in front of the other CEO (take two, they’re small). I felt good knowing that I looked professional. My boss complimented me on dressing for the occasion even though I didn’t end up going. I’d been putting off updating my work wardrobe anyway, so I took this as the kick in the ass I needed. I assessed my current wardrobe, made a list of what would fill it out, and went on my merry way. Now I have enough pieces to wear plenty of combinations of professional outfits during the week. My “casual Friday” look will elevate from jeans to J.Crew pants.

The second positive change is I finally asked if I could take another licensing exam. I’ve been going back and forth about asking. It’s a very specific exam only applicable to one department. I have to be willing to put a target on my back once I have this exam under my belt should they need another person in that area. Prior to my promotion, my boss had been strongly suggesting I try to get into that department. It would afford me a ton of opportunities to learn more about the business. I’m an expert in my little bubble, emphasis on the little, but don’t know much about how the rest of the company functions. I finally went to the head of the department, asked to take the exam, and she approved it. They foot the bill for study materials and the fee for the exam. If I fail, I’m on the hook for the fee after that. I know my competitive nature will kick in and I’ll want to keep my streak of passing each exam on the first try. In glancing at the outline, it’s fairly basic. They’ll just try to trick me on those “All of the following are true except…” questions. Sneaky, sneaky securities industry.

Even if I don’t report to my former boss any more, I’ll still have him as a mentor, a work neighbor, and even a friend. As much as I’m averse to change, perhaps this one will work out after all.

XOXO!

Of dead circus performers and overly sappy heroines: Review of “The Immortal Circus” by A. R. Kahler

I thought I’d mix things up a bit & review the latest book I finished. Be warned – there will probably be spoilers.

The premise had a lot of promise as a murder mystery nestled into a supernatural circus. It didn’t live up to that promise.

The heroine, Vivienne, joins this circus for an unknown reason. Her memory has somehow been erased & she can’t remember exactly why she joined in the first place. It’s narrated in first person present. Personally, I find that a rather irritable tense to read. It’s a challenging tense to work with & I’ve yet to find an author who could do it well. A. R. Kahler is no exception. Vivienne reminded me way too much of Ana from 50 Shades of Grey. I’m sure part of it was the tense because 50 Shades is also written in FPP. Vivienne also couldn’t shut up about how hot the male lead was (is?). Add some whips & chains and we’ve got the supernatural sibling of 50 Shades. Ew.

After 2 chapters, we’ve heard about how sexy Kingston is at least a dozen times. Yes, we get it. Now shut up and give us something vaguely resembling a plot. Take my hand if we be friends and I shalt not giveth thee a plot. ┬áKahler plucked Mab & Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream & plopped them down almost wholesale as the leaders of warring “courts”. Mab is the leader of the Winter Court and Oberon is the leader of the Summer Court even though he never appears in the book. Of the whole cast, I felt like Mab had the most development. That was probably because Shakespeare had done most of the heavy lifting to begin with. There are about half a dozen other named characters, but the most development they’re given are their positions in the circus. Even Vivienne, Kingston, and Melody (Kingston’s lovely assistant) aren’t developed enough to care about. Kahler is a relatively new author & it shows. If he’d spent more time building each character & less time on Vivienne wondering how she can get some Kingston action, it would have elevated the book at least one level. I can’t help but compare it to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. She was also a debut author with a similar theme. Even though the ending was a deus ex machina (love that term!), it was forgivable because the rest of the book was that good. Her setting was absolutely spellbinding. His was good, but not nearly as good as hers.

The Immortal Circus was the kind of book I had to force myself to finish. It was a hair under 250 pages which was do-able for me. If it had run 300+ pages, I would have put it down never to pick it up again. After I finished the book, I discovered it was released as a serial for Kindle. That explained the jarring endings for each chapter. It felt like someone trying to learn how to drive a manual transmission car on a hill. Always wear your seatbelt, kiddies. This wasn’t a “stay up way past my bedtime to read another chapter” book. This was a “throw it in my purse & half read it during my lunch break” kind of book. It’s a shame because it could have been so much more. I was left with no desire to read the next two. Guess the show will go on without me.

Final Rating (out of 5): 2.5

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Comfort Zones

This post is more for me than you, fair readers. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon. The more the merrier, eh?

As I discussed in my post on Saturday, I’m having an internal argument with myself over possibly switching my workout routine to the early morning rather than after work. I shot off an email to the old CrossFit-esque camp I used to participate in. They’ve since expanded their locations, including one that’s only a slight detour from my way to work. They’ll call me sometime during the week to schedule my free session. I felt pretty good about it until Sunday morning. Then Hailey kicked in again.

“Pfft, why did you even bother? It’s not like you’re going to keep it up,”

“I thought we had this talk about you being late to work? Did you even listen?”

“It’s too expensive. You don’t have that kind of money,”

The same litany came out for trying an early morning yoga class. That’s all it is. Trying. I don’t have to commit to anything. It’s just an experiment. It will allow me to see exactly what impact it would have on my commute. Then I can make an informed decision. I’ll give myself two separate chances, one with yoga and the other with camp. If it doesn’t work out or I get to work too late for my comfort (at my desk no later than 8a after all the requisite cleaning up has been completed), I can stop. It’s not like the minute I get there, I’ll be forced to sign a year long contract with a cancellation fee that involves my left kidney. There’s absolutely no harm in trying. Getting up at 515a to be at a 6a class might hurt a little the first time, but again, it’s not permanent unless I decide it’s worth it. I have a very hard time believing either of them would be insulted if I said “I have to think about it”. I know the camp won’t because I’ve dealt with them before. Hard sell isn’t their style.

The same thing goes through my head regarding the technical dance studio. I have 2 classes just hanging out there, waiting to be used. I always chicken out at the last minute. Again, I’m not making any kind of serious commitment. There’s a reason their business model is a drop in system. I have a year to use the classes I buy. I just need to inch a little more in that direction. I allow myself to be intimidated. I bully myself so hard that, again, I feel crappy & stuck. What’s the worst that will happen? They won’t kick me out of class. I’m a paying customer. The other dancers won’t point and laugh. Odds are, they aren’t even paying attention to me. I’m not a disruptive student. I pretty much keep to myself in class, even at the recreational studio where I know faces even if I don’t know names. The only real challenge is judging what their definition of “beginner” or “intermediate” is. Even then, I can go to a beginner level class & if it’s too easy, then go up a level.

I don’t tolerate other people bullying me or someone I care about. It’s a lot harder to stop bullying myself. At least if I try, I’ve knocked the bully down a peg.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Give it a try

XOXO!

Of late nights and early morning yoga classes

I apologize for my hiatus dear readers. Things have been busy. I’ve been staying late at work to catch up & only finally felt like I had my feet under me again on Friday. Though listening to one of the other managers (who is younger than I am) talk about how tired he is and how much effort he puts in, part of me laughed and said “Sucker!”. To think I was jealous when he got the job a year ago. Funny how those things turn out, eh? I did offer some advice on how to take breaks, but who knows if he’ll take it or not.

There was a fair bit of confusion on my part of what the expectations were when it came to staying late. My boss said the head of the department asked if I was staying late or coming in on weekends to get things current. I said no & interpreted that to mean I *should* be staying late. After staying late 3 days in a row, I mentioned it to my boss. He said there was no reason I had to stay late, but having an extra hour or so with no one bothering me can be useful. Oh.

I also took a management class taught by the head of HR. She explained that managers are paid for the job they do, not the hours they’re there. Some weeks we may work 30 hours, others we may work 60. That was Day 3 of staying late. By that point, the vicious mental cycle had begun.

I would come in swearing no matter what time I left, I would make it to a dance class. Then by mid-afternoon, I would start to feel too tired to go. By the time I was walking out of the building, all I wanted to do was go home, put on my house shorts, eat Ramen, & pretend I had no responsibilities other than getting up to pee. Hailey, of course, had a field day.

“You’re such a flake. Why can’t you show up to class?”

“Look at you wasting money. You paid for these classes after all,”

Boy asked if they offered classes in the morning so I could go before I got to work. They don’t, but a yoga studio not too far from here offers 6a classes. Then we’re off to the races again.

“You can’t do that. You’ll be late to work. You were already asked if you could be here by 7 instead of 730. You’re already in trouble,”

Yes, my boss did ask if I could be at work by 7. He’s at work by 7 along with my employees. That said, one of them has another job & two of them have kids. They have to work around those time constraints. It’s also not my business what time my boss comes in. Going to a 6a class would put me at my desk around 745 or 8. My official start time is 730. As I said, those times are flexible. My pay isn’t docked for missing a partial day or working varied hours. It’s not like I can’t trust my employees to not goof off until I get there. If anything, one of them is going out of her way to be conscientious & make a good impression. Does Hailey care? That would be “no” with a side of “nope”.

I remember when I was doing CrossFit in the mornings before I would go to work. I felt great. I didn’t need coffee or anything artificial to get me going. My office had a gym &, by extension, showers. I could clean myself up then head up to my desk. I can’t see why the same thing wouldn’t happen with another type of exercise like yoga. It’s a hot yoga studio, so I could get more of my sweat on. Full disclosure, I don’t feel like I’m getting a good workout unless I’m practically bleeding sweat. I’m not a fan of standard yoga simply because I don’t get that kind of sweating. Ironic for someone who doesn’t enjoy being sweaty. Also, CrossFit can be quite pricey unless you sign a contract. See above for issues regarding contracts. Apparently we have showers in the building as well, but I’m not sure where they are / how often they’re used. Though a hot yoga studio should have showers. :P

All I’m left with is feeling crappy & stuck. Nine times out of ten, I end up listening to Hailey. I choose to do nothing. Which, in turn, makes me kick myself for not stepping outside my box. I’d like to believe sooner or later, I’ll get completely fed up & start to break the cycle. I just need to stop getting myself so worked up over it first. Take the babyiest of baby steps. As my bracelet says “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step”.

XOXO!

Of internal monologues & the stories you don’t want to hear

Y’all, I’d be lying if I said things haven’t been really dark lately.

It’s not so much the “I can’t make myself get out of bed” kind of dark. It’s more the “Well, well, well, look who’s failing again” version.

You’re flaky. You’re unprofessional. You can’t be trusted to make the right choices. You’re not worthy. You can’t be trusted to make any choices, actually. Look at you, why aren’t you trying harder to lose those love handles? You spent money on what? Seriously? You want new, nice underwear because yours is falling apart? You know anything nice is just asking for it. No, really, you have *got* to do something about those hips. He’s just waiting until someone else better comes along. You’re disposable.

That’s been my internal monologue for the past week or so. I’m still perfectly capable of getting out of bed, putting on pants, and physically showing up. Mentally? I’m about a million miles away. Fortunately, my medication has kept stress related auras at bay. Hailey manifests herself in the form of being more defensive. Yesterday, my boss pointed out two specific instances where I’d been unusually defensive. I blamed it on the fact that one of my employees was out on medical leave this past week. It wasn’t entirely a lie. My other employee works far too slowly to be of much help. I was a one woman show doing the work of 4 people. I stayed late at work three of the four days I worked this week. I signed up for a class geared toward new(ish) managers. If nothing else, I can’t say I’m not making the effort.

I look in the mirror and I see her. I have to push to actually see myself. I’ve had confirmation that when your brain is struggling, so does your body. In my dance classes, I couldn’t perform basic moves that I know I can do. I felt like a giraffe on roller skates. I was in a class of three people one night, so I couldn’t just fade into the crowd. Not that I ever really fade into a crowd, but that’s not the point. Under normal circumstances, getting a correction is a good thing. It means the teacher is paying enough attention to stop and help with your technique. Instead of taking the correction as it was intended, I just withdrew into myself. The teacher is really nice & wants to make everyone a better dancer. Hailey didn’t see it that way. She put it as another tick mark on the running negative tally. It’s exhausting.

All that said, I am seeing my therapist this afternoon. I’m not going to do anything rash or hurt myself. I just wanted to put all of that out into the world. As hard as it is, yanking back the covers & letting in the light is the best thing to do. She could use some Vitamin D anyway.

XOXO!