Anticipation of Relaxation

I’m officially on vacation! Yesterday was travel day, in which I flew to Seattle to meet up with the fam ahead of our epic cruise adventure. My brother kindly fetched me from the airport and we drove to his home a couple hours away.

It was the smoothest, easiest, least stressful travel experience I’ve ever had. Because my other brother had taken my checked bag with him and his wife in their motor home for their drive out here, I only had my backpack to worry about on the plane. Got a Lyft to the airport and my bro’s comfy pickup on the other end, I had no transportation responsibility. I just rode, flew, rode again, and arrived at my brother’s home. Easy.

Now we have a rest day. Tomorrow is sailing day, but we have no obligations today. This is definitely a good thing. I know I’ll appreciate the rest when we start the festivities tomorrow, which will be at once fun, exciting and stressful. Yet I always have trouble with this part, the waiting.

There’s something to be said for the pleasure of anticipation. Often, pleasure is increased with a little bit of delay. But for those of us, like me, who are chronically impatient, this caesura is kinda nerve-wracking. Not because I’m not enjoying being with my siblings and not because I don’t like just hanging out. I’m just not very successful at stilling my mind and find myself thinking ahead to the next day, the next action, the next agenda item.

I guess I’m not very good at vacation.

But I’m sooooo happy to be here and I am sooooo stoked for the cruise. I’m anticipating that, being a self-contained experience, with plenty of time to do nothing but simply relax together will make me better at it. 😎

Here’s to learning to be a slug! 🐌

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All the Good Stuff

So it’s Tuesday again and I’m posting another really quick update. I’m riding a wave of happy positivity right now, friends! Here’s some reasons why:

  • It may be Tuesday, but it’s my Friday – last day of work before a looooooong stretch of leisure time!
  • That leisure time will include a bucket-list-level Alaska cruise and some deep quality time with my siblings. It all starts on Thursday!!!!
  • I heard yesterday morning that one of my lesfic stories has been selected for publication next year in an anthology put out by Bold Strokes Books!!!! OMG, y’all!
  • My first ever casting in my silver smithing class was a huge success. I’ve de-sprued and ground and rough polished. Cloth wheel polish and patina when I get back from vacation.
  • I remembered to post today!

Have a great week, friends! I’ll see about posting while I’m on the road…er…sea! 😎

It Begins

So now it’s real. I have the ol’ R2D2 suitcase out on my bed. I’ve gathered clean laundry and my suits. I’m selecting bow ties. I’m remembering the Dramamine. I even have my flip flops in case there’s a poolside situation.

I’m packing. That makes it real. I’m going on a cruise!!!!!!!! Excitement awaits.

I’m hopeful that there will be connectivity along the way. But if not, I’ll post a few extra times when I get back to make up for the missing posting goals.

Enjoy your July!

Aimless Drivel

I guess I jinxed myself by calling out the inadvertent posting pattern of Tue/Fri in my last post. Because I clearly missed posting yesterday. Ugh.

Yesterday was a genuine s@$&t show of a work day that sucked all my energy and taxed every nerve. By the time I got home from work I had no reserves left for writing. At least not writing blog posts for an audience.

I did get to spend some quality text time chatting with a new friend. Their attention and banter and gentle humor took my mind off my troubles. I count that a great blessing, having the freedom and security to talk about things that matter, but are so distanced from the sources of stress in your lives that the conversation is just for the pleasure of conversing. Not having to solve each other’s problems, not being burdened with the weight of responsibility and just being able to discover little facts about each other that add detail to the mental picture you’re each building of the other – these are the kinds of conversations that make making friends fun.

Today was the first day of a five-day weekend for me. My company observes Independence Day tomorrow and Friday as company holidays. But my boss and his EA staged an ‘intervention’ Tuesday in the doorway of my office, declaring that I was too stressed and spent plenty of hours doing work that shouldn’t have landed on me and that I needed to take the extra day off for my own good. My boss was insistent, even though I pointed out that I have extended PTO scheduled to begin a week from today. He just said “good, this will be practice for your time away”. I’m not entirely certain if he meant practice for me to relax, or practice for my clients and employees to get on without me. Both, probably.

So I was lazy today. Read an ebook in the cool and quiet of my empty house, napped and then went to a movie before meeting my family to run errands and have dinner. It was a good day.

The rest of my pre-vacation vacation time should be just as chill. Reading, writing, laundry, packing for the real vacation, and at least one dinner out with friends should consume the time nicely. Might even brave the heat and go watch fireworks tomorrow night. Then only two days of work before two weeks of freedom!!

I’m looking forward to the vacation. Family and I are going on an Alaska cruise. It’s beyond exciting. I can’t wait to fill up my cloud storage with pics of wildlife, landscapes and family silliness. I’m a tiny bit nervous about the boat – never been on a cruise ship. It should be the experience of a lifetime.

Well, that’s all the aimless drivel I have to share. At least I’ve saved my weekly posting streak, if not the recent posting pattern. I’m worried that there won’t be connectivity on the cruise and I’ll miss my weekly post while I’m away. Dunno why that matters to me so much, but it does. I guess because I set the goal and have been successful in meeting it for so long, it seems a shame to let it break. Ah well, for this reason? Worth it.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the holiday, if you’re celebrating. If you’re not celebrating, I hope the proliferation of noise and smoke doesn’t disturb your summer evening. 😎

Prepping

This’ll be a quick one. Wanted to keep the posting pattern I’ve developed inadvertently: Tuesday and Friday. It seems to work. But I don’t have anything deep and meaningful to post. So here are some random things in a list.

  • I’m waiting to get my hairs cut as I type this. I’m, miraculously, out of work on time on the last day of the quarter and it’s Friday, so a fresh cut seems in order. There’s nothing like the feeling of being freshly trimmed and dapper to start the weekend!
  • And this weekend is Pride in my town. I’m going for the first time. I’m both anxious and excited. I’m going to the parade alone, but meeting friends for the festival in the afternoon. Got some amazing Pride undies, socks, boots, and bow tie to mark the occasion. I hope it’s as fun as it’s cracked up to be.
  • Megan Rapinoe. That is all.

On Choosing Me

Today was yet another rough day in a string of hard days at work. Between the continual stress of the quarter-end rush, the ongoing unpleasant workplace politics, and some extremely unhappy executive duties involving peer investigation and delivering hard news to the big boss, it was a very Monday-ish Tuesday.

Then, things got worse at the end of the work day when I received some really harsh criticism of myself and my team. If it had been fair, objective and constructive, I would have taken it in stride and worked hard to show swift, lasting improvement. Indeed, for that portion of the feedback that was objective, I have already begun to do exactly that. But the majority of what I received was truly a personal attack calculated to gain political points and unfairly disadvantage my organization for the commenter’s gain.

As I struggled with my attitude and wrestled with my thoughts on how to respond, I texted with a friend. Their wise counsel and objective, yet unstinting, support helped put a few things into focus, letting me get past the worst of my dark thoughts and turn my brainpower onto the puzzle of what my next steps should be. Though I don’t yet have a solid answer, I have gained a few insights.

First, I struggle with the building desire to simply walk out; it grows stronger with every blow to my sense of justice. While I’ve already been planning to take my leave, in a professional and orderly manner, stuff like this makes me just want to run. But I have an acute and visceral aversion to quitting, so I’m miserable at the thought that I’m failing in this way.

However, my friend helped me see that there is a material difference between “leaving an impossible situation” and quitting. They pointed out that when someone abuses your loyalty by using it to hold you hostage while not showing any genuine loyalty in return, your own frame of mind becomes your jailer. Though my heart and soul rebel from any implication of capitulation, there has to come a point where enough is enough, an acceptance that you’ve done all you can. It’s difficult to pinpoint that milestone. And my insight on that turning point is blurred by my fear that my team will suffer in my absence.

Which brings me to my second realization: I have value, too, and honoring that is neither selfish nor unfeeling as regards others that may be impacted by my choosing myself. This is a hard one for me, and requires a lot of mental and emotional energy to internalize and sustain this belief. So ingrained into my psyche are the lessons of my youth, in which selflessness was elevated to the pinnacle of nobility and worthiness, that even at my age I cringe at being thought selfish and self-serving. But there is value in preserving one’s dignity, salvaging self respect, and refusing to be trampled for the sake of those without compunction or conscience. If nothing else, removing myself from the line of fire preserves my ability to choose another battle.

But more than this, choosing my own sanity and dignity and emotional safety sends the message to both my tormentors and my team that I know my value and worth. Drawing that line and not letting them destroy that value is as loud and important an act of political resistance as their attempted character assassination on myself and my team. Sending that message can empower my people to do the same. Still…it’s hard and I have to keep telling myself this. I keep telling myself because repetition engenders belief.

Finally, perhaps the biggest immediate benefit from my friend’s wisdom and support is that the frank discussion drew me out of a dark spiral of negative thoughts and got me thinking strategically. Because of that diversion, I was able to enjoy a pleasant evening in conversation with another friend, being silly and talking about everything else but my dreadful day. It was a great way to end a rough day.

I’m no closer to a decision on when to resign, and I’ve no firm strategy for responding to the unfair criticism. But with the vital support of a caring, long-term friend and the ease and relief brought by the lighthearted chat with a new friend, I’m in a much better frame of mind. Tomorrow is soon enough to begin the hard stuff. For tonight, I wish you all good rest and the blessings of good friends, old and new.

On the lighter side

I’ve been venting a lot lately. It has been necessary and life-preserving. But I don’t want to always be negative; positivity and self improvement remain my goals.

So, in the spirit of reframing the negative and finding silver linings, here’s a short list of the glimmerings out of the muck from this week.

  1. Starting with the least-shiny of the linings…maybe pewter instead of silver: The workplace politics has found an uneasy level for a while, and I and my team aren’t in the crosshairs for now. Hopefully the worst is over. There will be more upheaval in a couple weeks, but at least it will likely be short-lived and mostly in someone else’s organization. That’s not the brightest or happiest outlook, but it’s not entirely dark and depressing, either. Taking what little good I can from all of the bad.
  2. In that same spirit – of finding something good in the barrel of muck – I was glad to get to contribute to a project today that has the potential to bring about good change. My boss asked me to collaborate with him on a strategy and innovation project. It was one of those think-tank type of logic problems. The board and CEO chose a current-fad business method/pop-sci kind of book and gave the executive leadership the assignment to devise an actionable, yet big-bet/blue-sky idea to spark growth or market transformation. Using the concepts in the book that combine freeing the mind from current paradigm restrictions with the facets of current-form success (i.e. the things we do best today), we were supposed to strategize a way for our established company to provide new solutions to solve customer pain points. Essentially, we needed to suggest ways to reinvent or transform our current strengths to adapt to novel problems or to provide new approaches to existing problems. It was all logic, thinking, head-work with cooperative discussion and brainstorming with my boss. It felt really good to use my brain in a non-emotional, non-political, non-reactionary problem-solving effort. And I came up with some really good observations, insights and ideas. I’m proud of myself and of my work today.
  3. Finally, I is (apparently) International Selfie Day and several of the groups and lists I belong to on Facebook were full of fun, interesting, cute and clever pictures of an amazing variety of queer people celebrating their uniqueness and individual beauty. I was so uplifted to see so many folks overcome their shyness and insecurities to post pictures of themselves in clothing and settings and situations that made them feel good and confident and accepted. Not everyone is a glamorous beauty queen or a handsome star or a gorgeous specimen of humanity. But each picture I saw showed courage and confidence and a love of self that makes me glad to be a part of this community.

Happy Summer Solstice and a good Friday night to all. I hope your weekend is full of sunshine and ease and time enough to enjoy the little things that make life worthwhile.

Gut Churn

I’ve been trying not to be too raw, too vulnerable with my posts, wanting to protect myself and to avoid burning out readers with too much angst. But yesterday was a particularly crappy Monday and I wrote this in the heat of the emotion. After letting it sit overnight, I find it is still valid and not too overwrought with drama, so I’m posting it.

———-

305 days. That’s how long it is until my 20th work anniversary 17 April 2020). If I stay at this job that long, I will have earned my incentive compensation payout for 2019 (if any) and my milestone anniversary gift card (woohoo!) and will have proven to myself that I could do it. That’s the sum total of incentives I can catalog for staying (apart from my regular paycheck).

For going, I count a lot of things as incentives, not least of which is the salvaging of my self respect. I’m so weary of the stress and, now, the disrespect I receive from so-called peers. I’m utterly spent in terms of grace and charity for those that abuse my team and my good intentions. My sight line to the reason I keep going is more obscured every day. And I honestly don’t know what purpose it serves me or my company to continue as a lame duck “leader” under the direction of another who has been made the whipping boy/scapegoat for all things negative. He can’t shield my team anymore and I’m no longer given my full agency and authority to direct my organization. So what’s the point in remaining?

Except that I don’t yet have another job and that I still cling to the belief that I’m doing some marginal good for my team, I wouldn’t stay. I’d pack up today and walk out without another word.

Or, at least I like to think so.

Resignation

No, I haven’t quit my job…yet. But I realized today that I am resigned to the fact that it’s time to move on. The other day, in the heat of my anger, frustration, and sense of betrayal, I had told myself “f- it, I’m out”. But I don’t think it truly registered with me what that finality really means.

Today, after more piles of workplace horse manure landed on my desk daily all week, I woke from far too little sleep with a mixed feeling of dread and determination and an urgent need to talk to a friend who could understand. I reached out to the person who used to have my job and who, thankfully is a good friend. She agreed to meet me for coffee this afternoon and talk it through.

I’ve never been one to “coffee and kvetch” before, but I have to admit that having the support and empathy of a friend without judgment has been a huge relief. An added bonus is her distance from the source of the drama. Her wise advice was welcome, but much more so was her quiet attention and non-judgmental acceptance while lamented my woes.

After talking through all the angles and comparing and contrasting my present situation with the circumstances that lead to her leaving the company years ago, I have a much clearer view of the state of things. And I know that I am not in so dire a position that I need to make an immediate change. That’s a relief in itself.

But what gives me the most comfort is the realization that I can make the choice, all by myself and in my own time, without burdening myself with unnecessary guilt.

My friend helped me see that the workplace politics that are going on right now really have nothing to do with me. The hurtful things being said, the unfair criticisms, the unprofessional and abusive behavior, all of it arises from the hateful, irrational and self-serving mind of one person who does not have the company’s interests in mind and whose personal integrity is eroded to nothing. She helped me acknowledge that rational, reasoning people will see through the scapegoating and won’t buy into the character assassination. In other words, it’s a bunch of BS and I should feel no compunction against walking away when the time is right.

Intellectually, I knew that all along. But there is something powerfully persuasive about hearing the truth from an outside source with personal experience of the same situation. Knowing that my friend, a super-smart, highly accomplished attorney with seemingly every professional, social and personal advantage, still suffered from, and then overcame, the same unfair situation and is now flourishing with seemingly no professional blow-back, gives me hope for my own recovery.

Reasons Be Damned

Last post, I talked about reasons to stay/go at my job. By sheer numbers, Go won hands-down. But I was still working through the logic, trying to figure out whether it was salvageable. Then, later that week, I had a terrifyingly open discussion with my boss in which I admitted to being extremely unhappy and unable to identify what purpose and value I have to the company anymore. He again advised that the chief source of our mutual misery will be leaving in under two years and I should stick it out.

Since that conversation, I’ve been doing my best with the dreck I’m dealing with. I keep looking back at that list in my last post and trying to beef up the Stay side, attempting to persuade myself that giving up on nearly 20 years of work and professional investment isn’t failure. I have dug as deep as I know how, and I keep coming up empty.

And in the face of the blatantly unfair and wrong directive I received last night, which completely disregards my leadership, undermines my authority, and eviscerates my agency,…for the second time at this job…I can think of no good reason to stay and endure the continued abuse and poisonous politics.

Reasons be damned. I’m out.

I even applied for a job I saw on LinkedIn today. I won’t just walk out, leaving my team unsupported and work undone. But I’ve made the choice inside my head and committed to myself that I won’t put up with it any more.

Now I just have to find the least disruptive path to a new start. Oh, and tell my family…and my boss…and my team.

Ugh, this sucks.

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