Posted in allow, baby steps, Decisions, fear, let go

So Much Stuff

I hardly know where to begin.  It’s been so long since my last post and so much has happened in such a short space.  Maybe I should talk about some of the things I’ve learned in the last few weeks, a couple of them in the last day or two.  First of all, turning 60 is no joke.  It’s weird.  It’s not that I suddenly feel old and decrepit, but perhaps for the first time in my life, I’m really aware of my physical limitations or potential limitations.  Over the last few months, I’ve been dealing with a health situation.  It’s relatively minor, as long as I stay on top of it, which I’m doing.  I’m currently on a 90-day course of medication that’s supposed to remedy everything (90% chance) and I’ll have another biopsy in October and go from there.  I’m so lucky that Pueblo has such an excellent county health department, because I still don’t have health insurance.  It’s simply an added expense I can’t afford right now.

Which brings me to a second thing.  A couple of weeks after I wrote my last post in early July, my company, or rather, the company that my company is basically a slave to, suffered one of those huge cyber attacks.  I remember it vividly, because I got off work from my usual weekend shift on a Tuesday morning at 5 a.m., and some time later that day was when it hit.  No one could work.  All our hospital accounts were offline and unable to connect.  The master company had been arrogant enough to think that it could “never happen to them” and they had very little, if anything, in the way of defense against such an attack.  They were blindsided.  I thought, well, good timing, I’ve got three days off, surely their IT folks would have it resolved by then.  Nope.  We couldn’t work for over two weeks…and then only a couple of accounts were able to get back online, and one of them was via a very laborious work-around.  That was nerve wracking.  Again, I was lucky enough to have had nearly five weeks of PTO in the “bank” and because of the way the pay periods fell, I only ended up having to use 30 hours, but I think it put the fear of God, or at least unemployment, into everyone.

Since then, my company has laid off close to 60 people.  The accounts are back online and I’m working, but I know the only thing that has saved me is that I work graveyard shifts on Saturday and Sunday and no one else wants those.  I am the new kid on the block on this work platform and otherwise, I think I would have been history a while back.  Not a great feeling.

I’ve been looking around.  I updated my resume to somehow pack 45 years of work experience into a page and a half.  I had two really good interviews with a hospital here in town for a job that I would be perfect for.  They were probably the best interviews I’ve ever given and I was quite proud of myself, since I haven’t had a face-to-face interview in fifteen years.  The second interview was about three weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing, despite assurances that I would hear “either way.”  I’m 99% sure they’ve filled the positions (there were three for the same job), and if so, it’s entirely their loss.  I’ll keep my eyes open, for physical jobs here locally and online.  Honestly, I’d much rather continue working from home, but I would have taken that hospital job in a heartbeat if they had been able to pay what I needed (probably another reason I wasn’t offered it–Pueblo is notoriously low paying).

Otherwise, I’m dealing with an intense period of low energy/no energy, mostly due to the above situation.  For about thirty of the last forty-five days, leaving the house has been iffy due to physical circumstances.  I keep harking back to summer ten years ago, my vision quest, and Camino pilgrimage, and the similar challenges I faced then.  It feels worse now, maybe because I haven’t had to deal with any of that for over five years.  But ONLY five years?  It’s absurd.  Exercise became out of the question.   Obviously, I couldn’t swim.  And yoga, which requires bending over and abdominal contractions, etc., was out.  Even walking, being away from the house (the bathroom) for more than fifteen or twenty minutes, was problematic.  So, I have been feeling my strength and flexibility and endurance slowly slip away.  Is that what it means to get old?  It sucks.  I’m no fitness geek, but I’ve always had pretty good energy, the means and desire to get up and go and do pretty much anything I wanted to whenever I wanted to.

Now, it’s difficult to get motivated to make breakfast.  I know that part of it, right now, is due to the health stuff above.  But I am also coming to realize that perhaps the larger issue is working the damn graveyard shift.  I’m a natural morning person.  In fact, I’m writing this on my day off at five something a.m., after having only four hours of sleep.  I usually only get about four hours of sleep on a work day.  But it’s different.  On days off, I go to bed around midnight and usually wake up around four, so I sleep during the “quiet hours” of the cycle.  Work days, I am up, say at ten or eleven, and am up all day and overnight until five the following morning (when my body really wants to get up) and then I have to figure out how to FORCE myself to sleep four or five hours during the “unquiet hours” and start the whole thing all over again.  Sometimes I try to nap a little before I start work at five in the evening, but that doesn’t always work.

It takes its toll.  I know this shift was a contributing factor in the decline of the last relationship, especially when the ex didn’t think I “did much” because I sat at a computer for ten hours a night and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to dig ditches and clean gutters on my days off.  I’ve (GASP) committed the cardinal sin of gaining weight.  I know that I eat more than I should because my body, craving sleep which it can’t have, will tell me I’m hungry instead.  And sometimes I AM hungry.  At two in the morning, when I’ve been focusing every ounce of energy I have on not making a mistake that will get me fired (because there are a blue million things I have to keep track of on my shift), and all the mental energy that’s going out of me like lightening, I stop and realize I’m starving.  So, I eat.  But I’ve also realized that on my days off, I’m not really hungry during the day, so my whole circadian rhythm has shifted and it’s not an easy situation.  Also, living with E, who is picky and really only cares to eat about once a day, has taken a huge toll on my culinary creativity and desire to cook.  So, more fast food, takeout, etc.  The way I shop for groceries has changed.  The amount of food I cook at one time has changed.  I now gauge a recipe by an 8 x 8 pan instead of a 9 x 13, and try to figure out if either one of us will really eat the leftovers.  This summer, I’ve pretty much only wanted to eat cantaloupe, peaches and corn on the cob, none of which appeal to E.  So, I buy a few ears of corn at a time, a few peaches, cut the cantaloupe up and keep it in the fridge, and buy E the snacks that he wants and I cook a “real” meal maybe three times a week.

Many changes.  Many things to think about.  Many things to not beat myself up about, but I do anyway.  It’s another form of starting over.  After I finish my course of medication, I know I’m going to need to get back into some kind of exercise routine.  I’ve discovered various forms of yoga on YouTube and I love that.  I also cut the cable (even though I still have internet via Comcast), and got a Fire TV box, so now I can stream the yoga videos on the big TV in the living room.  I got rid of my bicycle, so I have more floor space.  I like that a lot.

I’ll keep going.  I’ll figure it out.  I always have and I always will.  This is a momentary bump in the road, but these days, the bumps feel bigger and seem to slow me down more.  Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s the emotional climate of the entire country and the world today.  I don’t know.  There are a certainly more things going on that I have no control over and fretting about that isn’t healthy either.  But some days, I literally wake up and realize what’s going on in this country and who’s “in charge” and I feel like there is a huge weight on me, keeping me from even getting out of bed.  It’s not an excuse, but it’s true.

But then, I have to keep telling myself, I’m here, I’m basically healthy, I have a job, I have friends, I have so many things that others don’t.  I have to keep the focus there and I will.  I am doing my best to stay conscious and aware through all this, to try to navigate everything by staying present.  It’s not easy, but it’s imperative.  Blessed be.

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Posted in clarity, musing, progress, routine, self-discovery,

Leaving

Once upon a time, I put everything I owned in the trunk of my car and left behind a house that I had lived in for a long time, but wasn’t mine. I moved to a different city and lived in a mostly empty two-room apartment, that never really felt like mine, even after I bought a table to sit at and eat breakfast. I was scared to death at first, but eventually enjoyed myself and learned a few things.

Then, after a little while, things there got hard and sad and I retreated back to the other house that felt like home but still wasn’t mine. It was comfortable there, but I had become used to moving and so after a while, I found a job that moved me all over the place until I decided to “settle” in a number of ways, in another tiny apartment that did feel like home for a while, but then it didn’t and I left that and moved again, to a larger house that was nice but isolated and far away. Things got scary there, and one night, I left everything behind and moved out in a hurry, in order to save my life.

I went back to the house that still wasn’t mine and stayed there for a while, but all the things I had taken out of the last house stayed boxed up, as if they were waiting for the time that I would move again. When it came, I left most of that behind, put just a few things in a moving truck and this time went across the country to live in another house that wasn’t mine. I had hope that perhaps one day it would feel like mine, and it was comfortable for a while, but then, once again, things happened that caused it to feel strange and alien, and so, leaving everything but a few of the necessaries that I had schlepped from one state to another, I moved into a different small apartment, that for nearly a year, really did feel like home.

Then another opportunity arose to once again live in a house that wasn’t mine, but most definitely felt like home for a longer time than any of the others. But when things went wrong there, they went wrong in a hurry, and all of a sudden, the home was simply another place to leave and I found myself in another small apartment with almost the exact inventory of things that I had left home with nearly two decades ago.

Now, I am in this home-feeling place, but I know that in a fairly short while I will once again be leaving. I’ll once again move to a house that is not mine and leave behind anything that won’t fit in the trunk of my car. The circle will be unbroken.

We come from a long lineage of leavers. Our forebears left countries and societies that had become impossible for them to tolerate, whether for political, economic or religious reasons. They settled for a while along the Eastern shores of a new country, but then, even then, some of them weren’t satisfied and had to leave again, to forge out into the unknown parts of the vast country they found themselves in. They left behind men, women, children, possessions, security. They didn’t know what they would find, didn’t know if they would live long enough to get back, only knew that for some unknown reason, they couldn’t stay.

Today, we leave jobs, we leave homes, we leave relationships, we leave loved ones and not so loved ones, we leave children, we leave friends, and wonder what went wrong. What if nothing went wrong? What if, by a process of selection, like blond hair or big ears, we have simply evolved a leaving gene? What if all this leaving over the span of hundreds of years, has made us incapable of sustaining marriages, jobs, relationships, for more than a few years at a time. You could argue that it’s society that has changed, becoming more mobile, causing the need for job transfers, etc., and that the age of working for one company for 30 years and then retiring is over, and that is true. But how did that happen? When you drill down, what is the basic source? Perhaps our society has evolved this way to actually support the idea of leaving, that “getting out” is what you do, that staying anywhere long enough to put down real roots has become uncomfortable, like feeling trapped. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I can’t answer that question and all of the above are just rambling thoughts that have been going through my mind for a while. Why does one person manage to find a partner, a job, a life that satisfies them for thirty or forty years with relatively minor changes, and another person rambles through their life the way I have, completely uprooting themselves every so often in ways that their friends often can’t comprehend? I may never know, but at least now I’m comfortable with the idea of being a loner and a nomad, and I can pursue my path without disrupting anyone else’s life. For that, I am thankful.

Posted in Appreciation, Gratitude, Saying Yes

Working The Magic

Right around the time we started this whole Magic thing, I got a call from my supervisor (aka Team Lead or TL) out of the blue. She left a message on my voice mail and said she had something she wanted to discuss with me. We played phone tag for a while but eventually connected. Basically she wanted to offer me a job. The position would be a shift lead, working not only on the account I do now, but ALL the accounts. It would entail working only 4 more hours, going from 36 to 40, but it would be done in four 10-hour days, instead of three 12s, so I’d be going down from four days off to three, except I’d be working overnight instead of the two broken up shifts I have now.

As she talked, I wasn’t sure about all that. Did I want more responsibility? Did I want to give up ALL my socializing nights as it’s hard to get together with other working folks on weeknights. Lots of potential cons started going through my head. Then I stopped myself. I recalled one of the things that the ubiquitous William Shatner says when people ask him how he is still going strong at 82.  He says, “Yes” a lot. If somebody wants him to try something, he says yes. If someone offers him a speaking gig or a commercial, he says yes. So I thought about that for a couple of nanoseconds and I told my TL that, yes, I would be interested in discussing it further.  She was very excited about my answer and said that the next step would be for the president of the company and CEO to call me and do a quick phone interview and proceed from there.  This was right before Thanksgiving, so she wasn’t sure when that would happen, but I just assured her it was fine and would wait for the call.

A few days went by. And then we got to the chapter in the Magic that talked about money. What an eye opener. So many times we moan and grown about money and not having enough. Heaven knows I’ve been bad about that myself. If you don’t believe me, just skim through my other blog for a while, you’ll see. But this book tilts all that on its head. It asks a series of questions that really got me thinking, like, when you were growing up, did you go to school? Were you transported there in some form? Did you have food and clothing to wear? Did you play sports or participate in other extracurricular activities? Did you have birthday presents? Did you have plumbing, heating and a house to live in? Did you ever go on vacations with your family? Did you get to travel to visit relatives? A whole slew of questions and at the bottom line…money.  You, or someone, had to have money to do all of those things. If you didn’t pay for them, being a child, then they were provided to you somehow. There was enough, somehow. This is all stuff that we take for granted in our lack-focused way. We spend so much time scared there won’t be enough, we forget about how much we’ve already had in our life, and really that’s not likely to change barring really unforseen circumstances.  I could feel my attitude around money begin to shift just a little bit.

Then, the assignment was to find a dollar bill and carry it with you all day with a note that said simply, “Thank you for all the money I’ve been given throughout my life.” After that day, you put the bill where you can see it every day, and every time you see it, you say thank you for all the money you’ve received.

So. Thanksgiving passes and we are all very grateful for friends, food and fellowship. School gets back in, basketball games go on, the usual. I come home a couple of weeks ago and there’s a message from the CEO, sorry she hasn’t called sooner, been busy, really wants to talk to me, etc. By the time I get the message I know it’s too late to call back because she’s on the East Coast, so I send an email and express continued interest. Bottom line, we play phone tag a few times, I’m not available nearly as much during the day as we’re out running errands, the whole nine yards. So, Friday after another voice mail late Thursday night, I’m walking past the phone and her number is there and I say what the heck, pick up the phone and call.

Whammo! Great, she says, you caught me right between projects. We chatted about the job for a while, then about travel, and Ireland and living abroad, and we just hit it right off. Well, we do have the same first name, so why wouldn’t we? Bottom line, she says, I’m going to look at your numbers and put an offer letter together for you, but it probably won’t be until after the weekend. I told her that was fine, and it was. Because in my head, I already had a figure that I would not go below for accepting this job. Oh, and the best part–this job is salaried, NOT production, although I would be looking at doing some production in the course of my duties. Even thinking about that was the most amazing feeling of relief! To actually know what your paycheck is going to be each period. What a blessing. Yes, I was grateful just to talk about that kind of opportunity.

So, yesterday, I get ready to work, and open up my email first thing because that’s where we always get our daily stats, etc. There’s an offer letter waiting for me. With the salary at the figure I wanted AND a sizeable increase after 60 days if I’m up to speed and running with my training. To say that I was floored is an understatement. This is going to mean more than I can say to my peace of mind. It’s not quite twice what I’ve been making the last couple of years, but close. And if I’ve been able to whittle down bills, pay off IRS debt, not use my credit cards in nearly four months, and still put a little money in savings on what I’m doing NOW, well, let’s just say things are looking way, WAY up.

I tell you, this Magic stuff works. If you want to try it, you can download a free pdf file of the entire book off the Internet or you can email me and I’ll send it to you.  Seriously, if you have something in your life that you really want to change, give this a shot. Even if you just spend 28 days saying “Thank you” for various things, and nothing else changes, you’ll still feel better. And what’s not to love about that?