Staff Get Together

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There was a two day meeting for work that I was doing and I invited my staff to join me. Instead of attending “live” I could stream it. I planned a cookie exchange and was providing meals & snacks. And for the first time, I didn’t take anyone’s response or attitude personally!

At least four people acted completely put out that they had to make cookies. “Did I not understand that their lives were SO busy this time of year!” It reminded me of a time when I asked another new mother at daycare if she wanted to have coffee since we both had 1 & 3 year olds. I was hoping to make a friend, but she looked at me in utter horror and said “No!! I am too busy getting ready for Christmas!” Our sons just graduated high school together. They were friends but she and I never found “time” to be friends.

I invited some of my previous staff to join us. One was attending the meeting in person, one was too busy and one came. And I am so glad she did! We jumped instantly back to friends. She embraced the chance to see everyone again.

It was a long two days of tough topics. One girl just got back from vacation the night befor so she didnt come at all. Two of my older staff left at noon to Christmas shop for their grandchildren. One with IBS made it 1&1/4 days. But the rest of us hung in there.

I felt like an observer, watching the different dynamics of the group. In all the excuses for not attending, not making cookies, not bringing cookies, leaving early, boring material etc. etc. I remembered all the times I had been that person. Feeling put out when someone wanted ONE MORE THING FROM ME. Especially at the holidays.

I went to a lot of work to get ready for this meeting. My staff takes care of me all year (yes I pay them to do that!) but they go beyond. I was able to give back a little to them. Lots of food, friends, free training & fun.

For the first time I DIDN’T think – “I went to so much work & they didn’t appreciate it!”

I felt good.

And I just let them feel how they felt.

IT WAS NO REFLECTION ON ME.

What a great gift to myself.

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An Old Draft

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“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.”

At some point I liked this quote enough to save it as a draft on this blog. I wonder where my head was at? I’m sure it had something to do with drinking or I wouldn’t have left it here!

The quote sure fits with the changes I am making. I have been blessed with a year of few disasters. It was kind of strange. The proverbial ‘other shoe’ never dropped. There were rough moments (teenagers – nuff said) relationship ups & downs, not so sober evenings , work issues, but really just normal life variations.

As a prelude to my WOTY, this quote fits exactly.

I finally found a yoga class LITERALLY 2 blocks from my new office. She had been there the whole time I have been searching, but until I got the new office & started a local FB page, it never showed in any search. I take an amazing Yoga Nidra class and a Gentle Yoga. I am so happy!

After all the drama of buying two offices, losing one to water damage, fighting the system to relocate etc, this year has brought new work friends. Did I even tell you I went to Nashville for work!?! Along with the high school band trip to New York City?!? New friends & travel. I definitely want more of that this coming year.

My relationship ups & downs are finally at a neutral position. We have settled down from the panic of “Do you like me? Are you going to leave me?” into a very low key acceptance of two busy working adults. His favorite quote to me is “You tell me what Mother Nature will *expletive * do and I’ll tell you if I can make plans!!” This used to make me crazy, but after observing his choices rather than judging his choices, I’m much calmer. I have adopted the new buzz phrase, “You do you.”

And then we get to wine. My arch nemesis. After 40 years of go-to behavior it’s still a tough nut to crack. And, like the rest of my year, I have (kind-of) come to peace with it. My perception was once I quit drinking I would be free of it. The place I am reluctantly settling into is, it’s going to be a forever problem. Sober and remaining sober, is going to be a thing. Like being short. Things I can change, like haircolor!! – is not what sober is for me. This issue, well, not really an issue, (like being short is not an issue), is more of an acceptance. (I am not going to get taller.) I am not going to walk away and never think about drinking. I need to get with my alcoholic self and accept that “You do you” phrase. I have an alcoholic side of me. It is only doing what it is meant to do. Change the things I can – haircolor!! And accept the things I can’t. Instead of letting it do pushups in the corner, just letting it rest rather than fighting with it. Being sober is starting to not feel like a battle to be won, it is starting to feel more like living with a best friend. Not participating when “the friend” gets crazy. Just observing and not judging. What is that phrase – disengage with love? That’s my plan for my alcoholic side this year.

I Tried To Anticipate the Ending

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I have done a crappy job of taking care of my head this summer. My physical self-care wasn’t too terrible, but the swing between controlling everything and controlling nothing has gotten crazy. (Well…in all honesty, there was no controlling nothing.)

My controlling everything has gone crazy.

Just last night I found out that what I thought is not true at all. In order to avoid feeling pain, I made up an ending in my head so I would be ‘prepared’ when it happened.

I remember my sister signed her own DNR and hospice papers and then went into the kitchen to finish setting up the TV to record future episodes. (She didn’t get to control her body so she continued to control her environment.) Then she went to bed and never got up again.

Coming from a household of an abusive father, passive mother and childhood cancer has led me towards the controlling side of life. The more I control, the less horrific the outcome. Faulty yes, but a fairly common response.

I know you are all screaming Serenity Prayer here, but the thing about that is having the wisdom to know the difference. In my sisters case, lack of O2 and pain meds were a good reason, in my own case….I think I’m more Jack Nicholson – I can’t handle the truth….

The truth being – I don’t know the ending. Never will.

I would like to live the Serenity Prayer in my daily life. I’m going to work on that today.

I Think I Forgot

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Been spending time this summer in therapy with my oldest. Transitioning to the next phase of life for him is challenging.

I’m also transitioning from what I considered “normal” to this strange woman in menopause. No “peri” for me. Just kind of overnight a new being was created. I’m transitioning as gracefully as when I gave birth. I went to my classes and did the visualization of a flower gracefully opening as you dilate…. Yeah, a crock of shit.

Luckily, no one is noticing…unless you count the number of people asking if I’m getting enough sleep? Or overhearing my kids say that their mom cries over everything! Or the therapist asking my son to leave the room and collect himself then he turns to me and says…very gently…”What is going ON?” So, yeah, I’m a little crazy right now. And I may be “part of the problem – not the solution”, as they say in business.

My body is doing things that I’m really annoyed about. Things that OLD people complain about. Last night I got in my younger son’s business and said, what did you get done today?! I should have left you a list! Did you practice your trumpet?! He looked at me funny and said, “I’m pretty sure I went to work with you today- Remember???” Dear Lord, I guess my super long day took its toll. When your banker shows up at your house at7:45 because it was the only time us busy working mom’s could find, and then ending the day with anger management therapy, I kind of lost the middle.

After the horrible break-up, my friend and I found our way through it in May. I haven’t really commented on it to see if we could maintain it. I have really stepped back to focus on me & the kids and it works well for us to keep the relationship a little softer and quieter. Again, my “transitioning” has been tough on all closest to me.

It’s unique. It’s a natural rhythm of life. I’m mostly trying to relax into the new me. I’m actually looking forward to more freedoms as the kids leave and life gets a little simpler and quieter.

I’ll probably forget I said that 10 minutes from now as I break the yolk on an egg and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and then cry as my kid tells me that for my dog, when I am gone at work, it feels like a week to him and that’s why he’s so happy to see me….

Playing Mind Games

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Since I’m back to counting days, I’m playing a game with myself. Sometimes, ahem…always…that time between 3 & 6 gets harrowing for me. Anxious, tired, more than a little fear of a long evening ahead of me. Once it hits 6 and I haven’t started drinking, things quiet in my head. So my game to myself is…once it hits 6, I can put in my planner – Day 2 ♡ Day 3 ☆ etc. Knowing if I hang tough just a little bit longer each night, I can ‘win’ the night at 6! Then I can relax the rest of the night.

After years of planning rewards for myself, the evening rewards are the hardest. I’m just too tired. People always surprise me with the amount of shame they give me about being unproductive after 3. Like it’s not okay that my brain starts working at 4am while theirs doesn’t kick in until 10am. I heard an interview with Mark Wahlberg and he said in order to get done what he needs, his day sometimes starts at 2am and he goes to bed about 7pm. HA! I tell my nay sayer shaming friends.

My longest time sober came when I slept and woke up according to my own comfortable biological clock. And for me 6 is the end.

Back To Basics

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I didn’t get a planner this year. I was trying to let go of being over-scheduled. As Permission is my Word of the Year, I wanted to challenge some “pre-existing conditions”.

I did fairly well throuh my busy work season, but as soon as I was home more, I just floundered. My new planner finally arrived and I can’t believe the difference in my mental health. Paper & pencil (and colored pens & stickers) are who I am. Tactile not touch screen!

I was also giving myself permission to be much more frugal in my lifestyle. Saving money is always a plus but when I didn’t have my planner, I just kind of…. sat. My to-do piles have become the biggest they have been since my ‘becoming sober journey’ began. I have relaxed back into buying convenience items, well…. for convenience.

Without writing down my 3 Rewards a day, my sober self is much harder to find. My new favorite quote came from this month’s Yoga Journal, “Sometimes we see self-care as triage – something we turn to as we are falling apart. But self-care is really about daily choices. It’s about healthy boundaries, dedicated practice and everyday rituals.”

That’s what my planner does for me and why I felt so disconnected without it. I needed my everyday rituals.

I Said No Thanks – 3 Times

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I am proud of myself for saying no to a beer – three times. It isn’t really about the no, it is about what happened in my head.

I showed up and they had a cold one ready to open for themselves. We were chatting outside and I thought “That beer would be a perfect compliment to this moment.”

Then we took a casual stroll over to see progress on a project and they asked again if I wanted one for the walk and talk. Again I thought “That would be great. Sharing a beer and some interesting conversation.”

Back inside we ate some homemade food and again, more out of politeness, since they grabbed a second one, asked if I wanted one. This time I thought “If I had said yes earlier, I would be saying yes to my second one now, and in a little while saying yes to a third one.”

A few weeks ago I would have said yes. I have felt so much better not drinking lately that I just didn’t want to start that whole roller coaster again. The part that really caught my attention though, was why I thought “certain situations” seemed like they would be better with alcohol.

During our conversation, I had brought up Intermittent Reinforcement for something else, but I think that is what happened with my thoughts. It HAD been fun to have a beer in the past in those moments, a couple times, but by no means all. That ELUSIVE MOMENT.

I think starting sobriety late in life has the unique challenge of 40 years of ingrained beliefs. That is a lot of years with no other story than “Alcohol can make this moment better.” Last night I came home and watched some tv. A little guilty pleasure show. I was just quiet and content.

Each night I say no to drinking is creating a new proof that alcohol doesn’t make anything better.