Better 

It has been gloomy, hot and humid ever since Friday’s Dark Day. Hot, yucky weekend followed by humid overcast early week. In fact, it stormed all night and well into this morning. Buckets of rain and growling thunder made for a tense night of restless sleep. 

Yet, it’s getting better. The storm clouds have passed and the sun is shining. A robin has been visiting the ledge outside my office window, serenading me for the last hour or so. There’s a light breeze waving the bright green trees adorning the lawns surrounding my office building and fluttering the flag at the entrance to the campus. 

Seems like the physical changes might be reflecting, or even driving, the mood shift around here. What seemed so dire and intense on Friday has largely eased into a determination to overcome. A few words from the C-Suite, a pep-talk of sorts, has set a better tone and a challenge to win despite taking an unfair licking. That’s a welcome change and a goal I can get behind. 

I hope your week is looking positive and you find something good to appreciate even when there’s gloom. 

Dark Day

I can’t and won’t get into the details of what makes this sunny, warm, beautiful, Summer Friday a grim, dark day. Suffice to say my company hit a wall in dealing with an important legal matter today, and the mood among the executives is bleak. I’m fairly confident that my job won’t be impacted and that the company will definitely recover. But it’s a high stress day on top of a high stress week that followed a high stress month. This is the Monday-iest Friday I’ve had in a very long time. Hence my need to get it out of my brain and off my chest. 

The interesting thing (I can’t yet say “good thing” about any part of today) is the spectrum of reactions to the news among the leaders who know. It doesn’t seem to have had the same effect on everyone, and I m not entirely clear why that is. Some seem to have immediately soaked it in and shrugged it off. Others aren’t certain what the appropriate response is. Still others have had a fairly predictable response. 

Whatever the reaction has been from person to person, the prevailing theme is disbelief or, maybe more precisely dismay, rather than anger. I’m thankful for that. While there palpably is anger, people are still simply trying to make some sense of it before letting anger drive action. That seems a healthier pattern than I expected, I guess. 

Maybe that just shows I’ve misjudged some people. But I won’t lie: I went to my boss’ office this morning after receiving the result with the full expectation of having to ride out a wave of blinding rage. Not directed at me. I know I’m blameless in this and he is fully aware of that. But I am often his sounding board and confidante. He vents to me when he can’t say what he needs to say to others. So, I expected red-faced, fuming, barking anger. Instead, it was sneering contempt and disgust, with a side of simmering anger held in reserve. That’s something, I suppose…personal growth? Or maybe just resigned acceptance. Either way, I’m glad there’s been no shouting. 

Now, all that’s left is to pick up and move on. In the biggest picture, this will be a mere hiccup. In the near-term big picture, it’s a dark mark on a year that was poised to be shining and victorious. I hope we have the leadership and fortitude to refuse to let it be a roadblock for our success. 

In the immediate, small picture that only matters to me, it just totally blows and I can’t wait for this day to end. 

Caffeine

This will be a short post. All I really want to say is: thank heavens for caffeine. 

Whether delivered in a frosty cola, icy blended coffee drink, or iced tea in a pinch, cold caffeination is my preferred means of self-medicating with caffeine. Hot coffee- and tea-based drinks are last resort choices for me.

Whatever the prevailing wisdom of the relative “healthiness” of caffeine as part of daily consumption, I am resigned to the condemnation that comes my way for it. It is a blessing and a curse. But my body has become accustomed to its presence in my bloodstream. It is there and I am not equal to the task of removing it from my life. 

So…thank goodness for caffeine. Some days it’s the only thing that prevents me from strangling every irascible, needy, demanding, unthinking sales guy who crosses my path. 

Listy Post

So I’m averaging once every other week instead of weekly posts since I set my goal. Bleh. I despise not living up to the standard I set for myself. It seriously irritates me.

But instead of dwelling on what I haven’t achieved, I’m choosing to reframe it as a step in the right direction: at least I’m posting semi-regularly. Yay for positivity!

To keep the momentum going, here’s a short list of the recent positives in my life:

  • I survived my conference and on-the-spot feedback was unanimously positive. I’m now working on putting everything into practice, both personally and within my team. That’s always the challenge: turn the mountain-top experience into daily practice. So far (a week out), so good. 
  • One motivational exercise we did during the conference was to identify a list of people we personally admire and the qualities they typify that we admire and wish to emulate. This list of qualities defines our personal standards of integrity. I have posted my list in my office as a daily reminder to live up to my personal standards. These are my personal standards of integrity and I will strive, today and every day, to be: authentic, honest, faithful, intelligent, a leader, kind, loving, selfless, generous, hospitable, compassionate, determined, hard-working, brave, courageous, teachable, resilient, friendly, open, and welcoming. 
  • It was a beautiful long holiday weekend here. I spent some quality time with my immediate family, rested a lot, and watched some odd movies. It was a nice break from a very stressful stretch of work. 
  • Had The oddly satisfying experience of having my windshield replaced by a mobile service in the parking lot of my work. I’m always fascinated by machines and technology. It was cool to see the lift the tech used to place the new windshield in the right spot. And, yes, I’m aware of how geeky that statement is. It’s just cool to see the right tools used in the right way to get a job done efficiently and well. 

So what are some positive things in your recent life?  I hope you’re able to focus on those and let the irritants pass you by. 

Running the Gauntlet 

I’ve been flat-out swamped for weeks, getting ready to host my semi-annual conference with my global legal team. I have an amazing support team in the Executive Assistant for our department. She has done all the coordination and logistics for this event, coming to me for only budget approval and signatures. She’s amazing and I would be so lost without her help. 

But I’ve had plenty to do with arranging speakers, topics, consultants, and preparing my own remarks for two of the sessions. All on top of fifty bazillion other details of my day job. It’s important, though, so I’ve worked hard to juggle it all. It definitely feels like I’ve run the gauntlet, only to see another directly ahead. 

The conference starts with dinner tonight. A few of the international travelers have been delayed by weather, so will miss that. But the substantive program starts tomorrow and runs through Friday morning. I’m hopeful that everything will run smoothly and it’ll be the fun, challenging time I’ve planned it to be. 

The last one, in October of 2015, was the same. Worked my butt off to put a program together that combined a lot of fun down time as well as interesting speakers and some skill-building. I thought it went well. Had positive remarks throughout the week, but when given the chance to comment anonymously, I received a surprising level of negative feedback. Surprising because there was not even a hint of that in any conversation, even those I just overheard and didn’t participate in directly. 

I hope that doesn’t happen again. I’ve gone out of my way to incorporate every bit of feedback and proactive input from my team. I’ve got the speakers they requested covering topics they suggested. I’ve balanced break, meal and team-building time evenly with speaker time, so no one should feel overwhelmed with content to process. And I’ve arranged for some fun freebies and prizes for everybody. So hopefully no one will have reason to gripe about anything. 

Fingers crossed. 

Odds & Ends

Whelp…looks like I missed on the post-a-week target again. Ugh. 

Here are some random thoughts from my work-stressed and scattered brain:

  • May the Fourth Be With You – a silly, silly play on words that never fails to make me giggle. I am, of course, wearing my R2D2 bow tie and “May the Force Be With You” spinner ring for the occasion. 
  • I am now convinced that my work computer has become sentient and developed a sick affinity for making me lose my mind. It only has to implement mandatory updates when I’m on a deadline. It only experiences slow-downs or crashes when I have unsaved work on my screen. And it loses network connectivity only when it is critical that I remain connected to access resources necessary for my deadline-driven, unsaved-progress-generating projects. This vindictive nascent AI is winning in its game of chicken with my last nerve. 😦
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is opening this week!!!! Can’t wait. This movie kicks off the summer blockbuster season and I’m so excited! I hope I get to see them all!
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is becoming an obsession. It was a belated birthday gift to myself and I love it. I’m absurdity proud when I beat a boss or solve a puzzle without resorting to a guide or walk-through. I’ve been a Zelda fan for forever. I’m old-school in that I am convinced beyond persuasion that Ocarina of Time is the best Zelda game of all time. But this one is in a league of its own. Such a rich, open world to explore! The 15 minutes to an hour of play I get on a good day during the week only makes my obsession spiral. It’s a great game, try it if you can!
  • It’s the little joys in life that make it special. I hope you find a pun or a movie or a game or some other little nugget of fun to bring some light and happiness to your day. 😎🙏✌️👊

Stamina + Health Critically Low

I feel like a video game character who has run too fast or lifted something too heavy. If you checked my status display you’d see an empty stamina wheel and a single blinking heart signaling a need for energy top-up. My screen image would be a drooping, panting, limp mess. 

In other words, I’m exhausted. 

My stupid brain kept me awake half the night with ridiculous stress dreams about work for no discernible reason. Yes, I had a 6am conference call, which is unusual, but it shouldn’t have raised the kind of stress found in these idiotic dreams. I’m amazed at the appalling ingenuity of my subconscious in creating images and scenarios that can snap me instantly awake with a pounding heart rate at 3am. Over nothing at all! It’s infuriating. 

Now I’m dragging so hard I don’t know what to think. I’m glad all my meetings were this morning, because my brain is M. I. A. right now and I’m afraid I’d seriously embarrass myself if I had to present or speak intelligently on anything at the moment. 

So, I may be calling it a day a little early today. Just in time to repeat it over another early call tomorrow. Joy. 

I hope you’re well rested and having a lovely day. I’m determined that I will too…eventually. 🙂

Tulips

Ugh…totally failing on the post-a-week goal. But on the bright side, Spring has arrived and my SIL’s tulips have bloomed. So have my pear trees, creating a lovely fragrance in my front yard, along with a huge ‘snow’ of blossom petals. Here’s a collage from Easter, when they were at their peak. 

I hope you’re having a lovely Spring!

Just Under the Wire

Whew…just made it. My goal was to post something at least once a week for the rest of the year. This third post since setting that goal just barely makes it. 

I’ve nothing profound to say. It’s Saturday, but feels like Sunday. Got that little edge of tension that comes with thinking tomorrow is Monday and all the stress that will bring. Trying to ignore it and relax. 

Here are a few good things to help me with that and hopefully inspire you to find the little bright spots in your corner of the world:

  1. Yesterday was the first day of sunshine we’ve had in more than two weeks. I enjoyed it by sitting under one of the pear trees in my front yard before sunset. Birdsong, sunshine, warm and breezy…a few perfect minutes at the end of the day. 
  2. Speaking of…my pear trees are about to bloom. That is one of my most favorite events of the year. Nothing smells nicer than pear blossoms in cool, Spring morning air. 
  3. I went to a movie at a new theater a couple weeks ago. They have a Star Wars theme in their lobby. I sat in the Emporer’s chair! Silly little things make me happy. Check out the pics below. 

Slingin’

Ok, so I missed my “optimal” posting time for this week (Monday at noon, according to WordPress).  But I’m keeping up with the at-least-once-a-week goal I set for myself with this sub-optimal 😜 post about a new hobby I want to share with you. 

I’m a fidgety person. Always have to have something to busy my hands so that my brain stays focused. Flipping and clicking pens, drumming my fingers, bouncing my knees, spinning a top (or my ring) on my desk, rubbing a worry stone, mashing a stress ball, stringing paperclips…you name an annoying fidget and I’m sure I’ve done it. 

Recently, I’ve discovered fidget spinners and fidget cubes. These stress relievers are designed specifically for us twitchy ones. I have a brass spinner made from plumbing parts and a 3D printed plastic one. Both were cheap and quick to obtain. But they don’t really keep my hands busy enough to eliminate the buzz of distraction from my head. 

So when I stumbled on a new skill toy, I jumped in with enthusiasm. I’m still not good at it, but I’m fast becoming obsessed. 

What is it? Begleri. Weird word, I know. It’s a skill toy form of an ancient Greek worry bead set called a komboli. Those are multi-bead strands, typically of wood or polished stones, that are held and counted (like prayer beads) and sometimes flipped. Still used widely in Greece today. The modern begleri, however, is usually just ‘two beads and a string’, to quote one of my favorite begleri artists. (Some sets have multiple beads, though.)

The toy part is in the slinging – flipping the begleri around your hand and through your fingers. The skill part comes in when you learn to control the thing so you’re not slinging it into your head, your neighbor’s head, your windows, or your expensive HD tv. Tricks and techniques are what it’s all about. The result is a mostly useless set of dexterity skills that nevertheless rewards you with tons of fun, some mental focus, and (when you’re good) some street cred. 

I’m not yet brave enough to post video of my own slinging. But I have included a pic of my favorite set. Since I’ve only picked it up in the last couple of months, I’m still a beginner and only doing basic, small combos. But I’m watching video tutorials and reading about it and slowly getting better. It’s a fun hobby that I hope to perpetuate. 

Here’s a link to a YouTube video showing some seriously skilled slingers. Honestly, this video and an article I read online (can’t find the article now) are the reason I started this. 

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