Creating Possibilities

This phrase has been on my mind all week. Ideas have been dancing around in my head, formulating themselves in to a blog post, finally.

The first few months of this year were not fun. I worked A LOT. I was miserable.

Then, sometime in March, everything became eerily more quiet. Things slowed down just enough at work so I could breathe.

I took weekends off, multiple weekends in a row. It felt very strange (but good!)

I went shopping and bought myself some new clothes and started venturing out of the house again.  I found a yoga studio near my house that I really like and I started going to yoga once a week. Yay! I put my running shoes back on and hit the East River running path once a week.

I spent a week with my sister and her adorable family (including a sweet new baby girl) and relaxed and enjoyed my time with them and, almost completely, ignored work.

I found my way back to meditation. I read 10% Happier about this ABC newscaster who found HIS way to meditation (through a lot of crazy people and then finally some people who made sense) and it reminded me of what meditation CAN do and why I should keep trying.

I have been meeting with my coach. My resume is updated and we hit on some good points about some of the things holding me back from looking for something new and being open to explore before rejecting things.  She also put me on a quest to get 500 linked in connections which has connected me with many long lost old friends and colleagues.  I started having conversations with people to try to figure out what I might want to do with the second half of my life.

I am writing to guys on OK Cupid and got myself on Hinge the newest dating app that connects you with friends of your friends (and their friends) on Facebook.  Nothing has led to an actual date, but I am collecting more funny stories to tell (perhaps in a future post.)

I just keep moving towards something better, one small step at a time. Earlier this week I felt a shift. A small shift, like two tectonic plates settling micro inches in to a new position.

Everything on that list was a bit of a struggle.  I was pretty miserable and tired and part of me wanted to sit on the couch and eat bean dip and drink wine every day, but I didn’t (not every day).  Each thing on its own doesn’t seem like much, but when I look at it all together, I am creating new possibilities. My world is just a little bit bigger. And that makes me, some % happier. I am not prepared to commit to a % (I am still a cautious, perfectionist. It was just a tiny shift.) but definitely happier than I was two months ago.

My sister told me that I work harder at being a better person than anyone she knows. I was quite proud to have that honor. The better person I am the more I can give back to the world and that is my entire reason for being.

OK, things got a little heavy there. Maybe I am on my way to enlightenment? Is that possible after only 5 days back on the meditation? Must be the endorphins from the run I just went on.

 

Advertisements

Detoxing Self-Assessment

I’m hungry. I was on a downward spiral in to salami and frozen pizzas, so I decided to start my reset with a juice cleanse. I am almost at the end of day three. I am not thinking 100% clearly, so let’s see how this post goes. At a minimum, it will distract me until my next juice.

I have not met with my executive coach yet (that happens later this week), but before I stopped eating, I did do my pre-coaching homework. This homework included some tests that revealed my top five strengths and my four Tru Value words. Anyone who knows me would not be surprised by either of these lists.

My Top Five Strengths:

  1. Caution, prudence, and discretion (this one makes me laugh because it basically keeps me from doing anything and yet it is apparently, a strength!)
  2. Judgement, critical thinking, and open mindedness (I do think things through A LOT. Big thinker.)
  3. Industry, diligence, and perseverance (I do keep trying to climb out of the hole!)
  4. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness (I don’t know how to be anyone but me. Sometimes I wish I did.)
  5. Modesty and humility (oh yeah)

These were my four Tru Value words. I had a list of 100 words in 15 categories and I had to narrow it down to four.

  • To feel good (This was not the same as “have fun” which did not make my top 4. I did find the distinction interesting . Feeling good was in the “to feel” category with words like “emote”, “experience”, “sense”, and “in touch with.”  “Have fun” was in the pleasure category with “be hedonistic”, “play games”, and “be amused”. “To feel good” is WAY more me. I wonder if anyone actually picks “be hedonistic?”)
  • Be connected (connection makes me feel good!)
  • Excellence (I am a recovering perfectionist, of course)
  • Accomplish (nothing better than checking things off the list)

Both tests also concluded that I am not spiritual and don’t really have a zest for life/sense of adventure. Not a shock.

I do like taking tests, but I think I know myself pretty well and I am not sure exactly how these lists will help me get unstuck in my career. I guess this is why I am paying a coach!  Perhaps she can figure out how a super cautious person who likes to get things done but lacks a zest for life and has not found God can find her way out of a mid-life crisis.

Its time for my next juice!

Reset

It’s been a while, I know.  What happened, you ask? My job ate me alive.

This was not the plan. I got all brave and said no and went on vacation and everything, but things continued to spiral out of control. Every time I tried to set limits, some new urgent project was dumped on me.  Then, I got moved down the ladder to report to the guy who took the job that I turned down.  This arrangement is not working out well for me. I will leave it at that.

The all-consuming “software emergencies” have prevented me from doing much of anything else for months. No dating. Almost no social engagements. Lot’s of TV that I don’t even have the energy to write about. I know more than I need to about Juan Pablo, Narvik-B, the drama at Downton, and Joe Carroll. I haven’t even been able to get to the movies to see Leonardo DiCaprio!  That’s when you know things are bad.

Yesterday, in an attempt to make more time for me, I went to see a new potential primary care physician for a check-up. She turned out to be a crazy pants. Somehow, in a 45 minute appointment, she never got to an actual physical exam. She did find time to recommend an elimination diet, ask me to join her “plank challenge”, pitch the Nike fitness club app and some 7 minute workout in the NY Times, sell me on gratitude meditation, and give me an assignment to explore the “story” behind why I don’t like grocery shopping. Perhaps I should not have selected my doctor because her office sent me flashy flyers and I could make an appointment online.

What I did take away from this bizarre medical appointment was this idea that I need to “change the story.” I went to find out if I have any vitamin deficiencies (which I still don’t know) but I left with a reminder that my story currently sucks.

Its time for a reset.

Reset: to put back in the correct position for healing

I’ve been here before. I am here again…or I am still here. Sigh. Here are the baby steps I am currently taking to change the story:

  • I am taking the whole weekend off for the first time since Christmas.
  • I am going to start working with an executive coach to figure out what kind of job would actually make me happy.
  • I am pondering a spring juice cleanse or a TVaction to cleanse the body and mind.
  • I am trying to get the dating engine started again. My least favorite activity of them all, but a necessarily evil.
  • I am blogging again. Since I hate writing lots of negative stuff, I am hoping this will force me to get back to doing positive stuff and thinking positively about stuff in general.

Eventually, this blog will have a happy ending (rewritten from, “I don’t know if this blog will have a happy ending, but I hope it does,” as I actively try to visualize a new story.)

You (my readers) are now back in the loop as I climb back out of the hole I keep slipping back in to. Isn’t that what life is? Is anyone actually able to sustain awesome perfection every day? Point me to that person’s blog if they exist.

Brave

A couple of months ago I saw a video for the song “Brave” by Sarah Barielles.  The song is about being brave and speaking your mind.  The video shows people “happy dancing” in public. They are dancing and happy because dancing is fun, and happy people dance. They seemed so free.

Then the bridge came on and it goes like this:

“Maybe there’s a way of the cage where you live. Maybe one of these days you can let the light in and show me…how big your brave is.” 

I started to cry.

This song has been with me (literally on my iphone and figuratively in my head) every since that day. It inspired my post to get unstuck. I have been trying to take baby steps with being less of a perfectionist, but, to be honest, I have still been working a lot and keeping everyone happy except myself.

But I was also doing a lot of thinking.

I had an epiphany a couple of weeks ago that I don’t like managing people doing stuff, I like to do stuff. I have zero interest in deciding what someone else should work on, telling them what to do, giving them feedback on it, and sometimes redoing it. I like to come up with a plan and execute the plan. I like working WITH other people, and I like helping people and taking care of people, but I don’t want to be responsible for their work. I don’t want to climb the ladder. I don’t need a promotion. I want LESS. Less work that I don’t like, less stress, more happy.

I had big plans to go in and tell my boss this (when she returned from her travels) because she keeps planning for me to run large teams and every time it comes up, I just stay quiet and internally pray that it does not happen (and things change SO fast all the time that I have learned not to make a stink until it happens.)

Today, it happened. I got the call that someone quit and my boss just started talking about me taking his job. I protested. I told her about my plans to come in and talk to her about not managing people. I was almost crying. At one point she said “I feel like I am talking you off a bridge.” But she continued to try to sell me on it! She is an amazing sales person and me taking this job would make her life so much easier. I was not brave this morning, and I caved in and told her I would take the job.

All day, I was panicked and miserable. I couldn’t eat. Could barely work. I pictured people congratulating me on my promotion and me starting to cry. I could not picture how I could fly to Germany and rally a team of people I had no interest in managing. This was not good. Why in the world would I agree to me MORE miserable!!! I was already SO miserable!!

But what would happen if I called her back and said no? I would piss her off. I would make her life harder. I might damage our relationship. I might be committing career suicide. I might have to find a new job. I might get a new boss. It was all scary but it all sounded better than actually DOING the job I had been praying would not land in my lap.

I called her back tonight and told her I didn’t want the job. The conversation was short. She was not happy. I have no idea what will happen next, but I might have just broken out of my cage.

Check out my inspiration, here…

Today Was a Test

Last week at work was a disaster. I spent half of my week in meetings. The rest of the week I could barely focus because I was having very strange symptoms that made me think I was going in to early menopause. When I wasn’t having hot flashes, feeling super irritable, confused about mid-cycle spotting that would not stop, or just feeling spaced out, I was Googling to figure out what the heck was going on. Barely any work got done.

My long time readers may recall the strange reaction I had to nasal spray a few years ago. It’s been a while since I have taken any medication so when my dermatologist said he could give me a small shot to help heal the rough skin on my elbows (need I mention this was totally unnecessary), I forgot to say, “please don’t inject any foreign substances in to my body” and instead said, “sure.”

By the time I got to the front desk to check out, I felt panicked. I tried to remain calm but after getting a block away, I turned around and went back.  The doctor assured me that the small amount of cortisone he gave me could not possibly trigger any reaction and that I may have been “shaken” by getting a shot. I assured him that I am hypersensitive to all medication, have no issues with needles, and that I probably DID feel it coursing through my veins but if he was sure I would not die, I would manage to tough it out.  He assured me that I would not die. (He thought I was crazy.)

The anxiety lessened but lingered and expanded in to all of these other weird symptoms which Google made me initially think was perimenopause. After freaking out for a few days and starting to get really bummed about what might be ahead, it finally dawned on me to look in to this cortisone stuff more. Ah ha! Apparently cortisone can completely mess with your hormones. It’s rare (according to official medical sites) but, it’s happened to quite a few people on the internet and I am 99.9% sure it happened to me.

The symptoms are starting to fade, thank god. After going through this emotional roller coaster all week, when I finally shut down on Friday I was thinking I would have to work on Sunday to catch up. I frequently have this thought on Friday and 50% of the time, I do work on Sunday. But I had promised myself I wouldn’t do that anymore!! This was the test.

Today is Sunday. I woke up miserable debating what to do. Which one would be worse? Breaking my promise to myself and getting a little more caught up with work…or….keeping my promise to myself and continuing to be uncomfortable and stressed about being behind at work.

Clearly the right choice for a recovering perfectionist is to try to be more comfortable being uncomfortable. I have passed the test and didn’t do any work today. This week will suck but I will try really hard to prioritize and efficient and keep it in perspective.

I am now off to sweat out more of these drugs and catch up on some of the new shows!!  I’ve got my Lululemon on and I am ready to run. Hopefully, this week will be better than last week!

The Dating Continues…

The Dating GameI hate to leave things hanging so now that it is almost the end of September, I should tell you how my August dating challenge ended up. The goal was to go on  one date a week and I managed to almost do that (if going out with the same guy in two different weeks counts and I say it does) before things with the Sommolier came to an end in late August. Technically, I was one week short but I did go out with one more guy (“the artist”) in early September. As a recovering perfectionist, I say this counts as success.

I won’t say too much about “the artist” at this point except that he is a very interesting (and cute) guy who has managed to get to a fourth date, which does not happen often.

Earlier this week, I reflected back on my dating life and realized that I have been on dates with more guys in 2013 than in the 5 years before 2013. And there were no long term relationships in those 5 years, just not a lot of dates.

So when people ask me why such a fabulous and attractive (and clearly modest) woman is still single at my age, I can definitely say that one big reason is because I didn’t really date.

I may have mentioned (repeatedly) that I don’t like dating. Going out with 8 different guys in 2013 has not been all fun and games. Mostly, it is a huge pain in the ass. Finding a night that works, picking a place, making conversation, figuring out how to end the date, deciding whether or not you want to have another date, getting your feelings hurt, hurting other people’s feelings. Fun, fun, fun.

I’m not sure if it’s getting easier the more I do it, or it’s just as hard, but I keep doing it anyway. In the past, one annoying online date would send me back in to hibernation for months or years, and I have stayed in more than one bad relationship just because I didn’t want to deal with finding someone else.

This year, I have managed to just keep getting back out there. I am no longer avoiding it, I am pushing through it. I has been a pain in the ass, but I have also met some interesting people, had some stimulating conversations, learned more about myself, shared some intimate moments, received some hilarious text messages, and opened myself up more.  The yin and the yang. You can’t have the good without the bad, right?

The dating will continue. The challenges of the first date are not the same as the challenges of the fourth date. The stakes get bigger, things get more complicated, more feelings are involved, things get more confusing. I do look forward to the day when the benefits outweigh all of this hard emotional work (and logistical scheduling!) But I also realize that the emotional hard work is never really done, not if you want to live a rich, full life with human connection, which I do (with some TV mixed in, of course!)

Getting Unstuck – Progress Report #1

Its been a couple of weeks since I embarked on my 2013 quest to get unstuck and become less of a perfectionist. Here is my first progress report.

The Monday after I wrote that post, I talked with my mentor at work about my plan and she was completely supportive and helped me to set some measurable (and realistic) goals for setting limits at work for the rest of 2013. Here they are:

  • Leave work at 6pm at least three days a week
  • Do not work weekends (unless some emergency time sensitive project requires it)
  • Take all of my vacation days (and only check emails for 30 minutes max on those days)

That day I stopped work at 6pm and did yoga.

I have been meditating every day. It is definitely more like quiet thinking time, than actual mediation but it’s cool. I just keep practicing bringing my attention back to the breath. The process of meditation is about being aware of when you get off track, being OK with it,  and bringing your self back to center.  This is exactly the approach I need to take on my quest to become a recovering perfectionist!  I can’t be a perfectionist about being less of a perfectionist!  On that note..

After day 1, the work hours did slip. Some nights I had plans after work that required me to stay later. Some nights I didn’t have plans and I just kept working. There has been a tiny bit of weekend work, but less weekend work than before, which is progress!

I told my boss I could not present at a meeting because I need to take a day off. She was cool with it. I also told her that I have to work less or I will be the miserable person I was this summer, all the time. That night, she got approval to hire someone else to help me. Sometimes I just THINK I am going to disappoint her, but it is all in my head. Key takeaway!

Even with the extra work hours, almost everything I am responsible for is behind, kind of a mess, and/or a ton more work that I can reasonably manage. But I am just rolling with it, doing the best I can, and staying calm. I am reminding myself that it is just software. I am working a bit faster and being a little less perfect on some things because there is only so much I can do (and only so much I want to do!)

I am taking TWO days off this week, even though everything is behind. I needed some me time. It will all wait.

I am feeling pretty good about my progress. I can watch the clock and track my work hours against my goals, but ultimately it is about how I feel.  I have made time for me and let things go a bit. I have spent some time with my family, I have been out on a couple of pretty awesome dates, and I am making time to write.  (Fall TV post is coming this weekend.  I promise!)

So far, so good….(although I spent a ridiculous amount of time perfecting this post.  Two points off for that!)