Groundhogs Day

600am

Today I recognized a pattern in my work life – and wondering what lesson I have in front of me.

My career has been a series of Fixing Stuff.  I come in to an absolute or near-disaster mess.  Spend about 18 months fixing it, and then move on. My last employer (the Evil One, but not the one you are expecting) was the first job I stayed at more than 2 years.  I was there for 6 – and had plenty of projects come across my desk that involved Fixing broken Stuff.

I’ve been at Microsoft for 3 1/2 years.  Holy cow the time that has gone by!  I spent my first 18 months working on a new HR system.  It wasn’t necessarily Fixing Stuff, but it was implementing new systems and new workflows to better align the review process.  It was a hard project, atypical to cut my teeth on (or so they tell me). 

The next 12 months I was on a different HR-related project.  This one was much better, not as painful.  Plus I had a vendor working with me that was totally on their game (side note – also lots of vendor experience in my past, the good ones are few and far between).  That said, there was an internal group I had to partner with.  It was painful.  It was grueling.  It was the same exact meeting in different presentation over and over and over and over and over for 12 freaking months!  Somewhere along the way, two key stakeholder coined the Groundhogs Day label.

If you are not familiar with the movie – Bill Murray plays a TV reporter that repeats the same exact day every day until the “spell” is broken.  He learns how to manipulate the day.  How to each ice cream sundaes every meal knowing it won’t impact him.  How to catch items doomed to fall and break.  Essentially, the SAME day over and over with with different presentation.

Ergo – my 2nd project at Microsoft.

Then I moved to a different org.  I’ve been here nearly 11 complete months.  Today – it hit me during a meeting that I am, again, living in Groundhogs Day.  Do you have any idea how freaking hard it is to get anything done?  How to move forward?  When people keep wanting to go back and revisit conversations and decisions every month?  It’s no wonder the state we are at with this project.  Who can move forward when we are repeating ourselves?

I took a personal/professional development class series shortly after I moved here.  A few themes from those classes keep popping up in front of me in this job.  Things like…

  • I attract to me that which occurs
  • I will repeat a lesson until it’s complete and then move on
  • How am I creating tangible, measurable results?  And if I’m not, what blockers are in my way (self-imposed or otherwise)

Something is right in front of me.  It could be as simple and tweaking a solitary dial.  It could be as challenging as a complete career assessment and redefining where I’m going to go next. 

One of my (frequent) coping mechanisms is to ignore what I don’t want to deal with.  Between Norman and my close friends, not much in my personal life escapes conversation.  It may take awhile to get there, but it happens.  Professionally?  I’ve been in auto-pilot mode for so long.  I’m one of those fortunate types that just falls into opportunities (or shall I say attracts them to me).  Question is – do I want to continue down this path?  Or is it time to shake things up and see what’s next.

Interesting questions for myself.  Particularly when yesterday 2 co-workers asked if I wanted to get together so we can each interview and brainstorm with each other to identify career paths.  Should be an interesting coffee talk this week.

Hope to provide an update on this at some future point.

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Social Networking forced my walls down

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon as I delve more into social networking.  I’m by all accounts an introvert.  Not like I haven’t said that here a gazillion times before…anyway…  I write on this site that publishes to the internets.  I tweet.  I’m on facebook.  I’ve recently stepped out of my introverted-comfort zone to attend events like BowlHer and Ignite.  And believe me those in-person events can make me break out into a cold sweat!  These have been more on the “safe” side, no heart palpitations, no wilting flowers…actually putting myself out there, scars and all!  Making an effort to put my foot forward first, initiate a conversation, ask questions more than listen.  It can be exhausting by the end of the day.  I am getting a sense of satisfaction there so it must be doing something for me. (I can hear my husband cheering this realization as I type this)

Particularly in regards to Twitter – people that follow me, friends on facebook (where my tweets auto-publish) talk to me about how funny some of my comments are.  Or that they didn’t know that about me.  Or how brutally honest I am.  Or that I published a really interesting article.  Or a funny video. Or…Or…OR!

These are thoughts and feelings and experiences that I typically don’t share with anyone but close, close friends.  Most of those people on Twitter following me or facebook “friends” aren’t the close ones.  I haven’t seen or talked to them since High School, only share snarky comments about work or news or politics, share useless facebook quiz results and Remember When stories…  Some of them are even complete strangers! 

They know more about me than I would otherwise share until doors are willingly opened to come inside my walls.  Layer by layer.  Over time.

This bothered me for all of 10 seconds. 

Then I thought – Fuck It.  So what if people can see into me more quickly?  It’s all out there.  It won’t change who I am or what I’ll say or do.  Maybe it makes things easier.  Maybe it weeds out the Don’t-Wants even faster. 

It’s who I already am in a whole new world of connection and communication. 

I’m still an introvert. 

Maybe you will understand a bit more of me in the process.

Take me or leave me – here I am!

No you may NOT have my blood!

I like to be a good corporate citizen.  I like to think I can help others in small ways.  Or big ways.  Depending on where you consider donating blood to land.  I began my donations back in high school.  Where at the tender age of 16, I could get my parent’s consent to give a pint and get a cookie.  Continued through college. 

Moved to Seattle and life changes a bit.  Regular, rotating schedules of tattoos and piercings made me ineligible to donate blood.  No worries, I know the blood banks need it.  But I’m not holding off on adding art to my body in the name of blood donation.  I picked it up again after I finished nursing A.  Whenever the blood mobile came to my office, I was there.  Hey – they still give out cookies!

It must have been 2 1/2 years ago now, I got a rather small tattoo on my ankle.  Completely forgetting about the restriction, I went in to donate and was turned away.  I’ll tell ya – It’s a different kind of shame to walk out of the blood mobile with a yellow slip of paper in hand.  I continued to get asks and rallies and Come On Down – We’ll Be in Your Parking Lot Tomorrow!  Each time, I sent a sweet message reminding them that I cannot give blood and please remove me from your list until 1/1/2009.

So last summer when I began the large piece on my back, I knew the drill.  No donations.  The requests continued to come in, once a month, an ask to donate.  Repeatedly asking they remove me from the list. Repeatedly  asking I’m off the list until 1/1/2011.  The last request I got, before today, I was more than irked.  I sent a strongly worded message, no more Ms. Nice Girl.  I received a very apologetic email assuring me my record was updated in all the right places and they were choosing to delay my donations until 12/31/2011.

So guess, dear reader, what fucking showed up in my email box today?! 

You know, it’s not that the volume is too high, once a month does not even register in my email volume.  However…the fact that I have to go through this dance every month?  I am now Ms Not So Nice mode.  I wanted to say something really rude like, if you email me again and I’ll call the office and be permanently removed from the database.  Expletive, bitchy, condescending kind of words.  Instead, I chose to tone it down, yet with a thread of superiority to remove my fucking name from the fucking list!

However, let it be known, if they email me one more fucking time – ALL BETS ARE OFF!

Grateful

Today, Microsoft announced more layoffs – (per MSNBC Microsoft moves forward on plan to ax 5,000).  Although the title of that article seems pretty harsh in these times when so many are impacted by the economy.  It was a pretty rough day at the office.  Personally, I didn’t know until 2pm that my job was intact.  I saw many co-workers and friends impacted today. 

I’ll keep moving forward, thankful, grateful, relieved that I have a job tomorrow and the day after and even next week.

It certainly puts things in perspective.

Now – to work on my list

Fixed

I have started numerous posts in the last few weeks.  And deleted them.  Gotten weirded out about what I was saying, perhaps too private.  Just finished Heather Armstrong’s new book.  Quickly reset my dials – duh – it’s my blog.  So let’s go…

Four weeks ago, I went heavily drugged (Xanax) into my Gyno’s office and had my tubes tied.  Technically, a new procedure called Essure.  At my post-op I was informed that during the procedure I told the doctors/nurses my pain was at a 7.  Out of 10.  To me, that doesn’t seem high.  But they were all shocked at since I was on relaxants and had 5 locals before they started.  OK – girls – if you have ever had your uterus/tubes manipulated – it hurts like…jeez I cannot even find some witty way to describe the immense, blinding, debilitating pain that ensues.  My dear friend brought me home, tucked me into bed, left 4 trashy magazines and let herself out.  I slept most of the day.  Hobbled around the next day and a-half.  Had unrealistic expectations of how much it would knock me on my ass.  Granted, my Gyno told me many of her former patients went to work after the procedure.  Yeah right!

So – here I sit.  Gotta wait for 3 months for the tubes to scar over.  Then get an HSG (another uterus manipulation event that I’m not looking forward to) and it’s done.  No more babies.  No more hormones.  One less drug on my list of daily events.

I don’t regret it for a minute.

I used to think I wanted 2 kids.  After a year of trying, acupuncture, doctors, tests and fertility exercises, I realized I didn’t want another.  Sure, it would be great for A to have a sibling.  Someone to grow with, then rely on as an adult.  At the same time, how was I going to live with another child?  I daily feel the balance between work, home and sanity to be a tentative exercise.  At that time in our lives, I felt I was finally getting the rhythm down, felt some sense of regularity.  It was a very hard decision.  A Very Hard decision.

I’ve always been the type to have certainty when I make a decision.  Sure, it could take weeks, months, eons…for me to get there.  But once that decision is made – no holding me back.  Went back to my Gyno, got on the pill and told her I’d take a year to think about it.  All the while knowing a year later I’d be sitting in the same office asking for the permanent solution. 

I love my child dearly.  Parenting is as much rewarding as it is challenging, learning and growing. 

My point?  I don’t regret it for one minute. 

Not one.

I’m too old for this stuff…then I had a Zoloft

Watching How I Met Your Mother and they are talking about being too old to do certain things.  Like – beer bong…raves…sleeping on futons…piercing body parts…  So I’m thinking, what am I too old for?

I think this is why I’ve had some hesitancy and reservation with my new ink (pictures coming after the touch up in a few weeks).  Am I too old for this?  The few people that have had a sneak peak to my back, has absolutely loved the piece.  Ok, ok…I know I can’t adequately see my own back.  And why my artist insisted Norman take a picture so I can study it from the perspective it’s meant to be viewed.  To give that kind of critical eye to discuss the last few changes, if any.

I digress. If I let go of that, those persistent tapes of what I should be doing in my life.  Well then, fuck it I’m finishing up a kick ass tattoo.  So suck on that!

Off to finish reading Heather Armstrong’s new book.  Going to see her tomorrow night for a reading.  I have to say, I think it’s a good thing that another woman has come out to share her story of post partum depression.  It’s real.  I don’t understand how people can discount it, say moms need to take vitamins or are faking it…god damn it parenting is the hardest thing.  E-V-E-R!!  There are not any words to describe to parentless-adults (children?) how incredibly hard it is to be a parent.  It’s so overwhelming. 

Regardless of what people think of Heather’s writing style, or the lead up to the breakdown – it is one more story, maybe one less mom feels so alone.  Maybe even more.  Isn’t that worth it?

thursday in march

I turned my calendar over to March when I came in last week.  The quote this month is – Life does not put things in front of you that you are unable to handle (unknown).  It was one of those Damn It! moments.  The kind of message that needs to be said, more importantly heard.  Yet, the tired side that wants nothing more than to coast exclaims Damn It! 

So here I am.  Rather tired from some intense times at work that should die down by end-of-month.  I hope.  Norman is also having intense work time.  It seems to hit us both at the same time, so we are both stressed and cranky about work.  Routine COO duties on the homefront.  Including getting A into a summer program when school is out (score – program is less than a mile from my office!)  Two family visits.  Planning A’s 6th birthday party.

Then there’s me.  It’s no surprise that I let taking care of myself fall into last place.  Many many years ago (haha) when A was born my therapist recommended we each take a “night off” during the week to go do something we want – without family obligation.  I’ve been pretty good at sticking to that.  Then a year or so ago, same therapist told me I need to “recharge my batteries” regularly.  Like, every day.  Even little spurts like 15 mins alone with a coffee and email.  Reading, you know, whatever.  In times of stress, this is another thing that goes out the window.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find that bliss spot.  I’ve spent so many of my years being the one to Do The Right Thing, take the Responsible route, carry every other person’s burdens.  Yes, an enabler – I think co-dependent was the first therapy term I ever learned, and often pointed that stick at my mother.  It was so black and white, looking at my family dynamic.  I try to not be as bad as it could be.  Which leads me to…Boundaries.

Boundaries was the second therapy term I learned.  When I entered group therapy for my eating disorder, I had to read a book on boundaries.  Talk about a wall of bricks coming down!  It explained everything.  Light shone down from the sky onto my shoulders and eased some of the pain.  Learning that lesson helped so much in getting through the bulimia.

I was also heavily involved with a personal/professional development organization for a number of years.  Taking courses, volunteering, most of my friends were in that world.  Norman and I even took them together.  Then, I don’t know?  Becoming a parent?  No one, and I mean no one, can really explain how much parenting takes up of your life.  Oh sure, people talk about how difficult it is, how draining, and also how high it can lift you.  But believe me, until you walk in those shoes, you have NO idea what it means to be a parent.  Sorry, you just don’t.  It’s like entering a secret society you didn’t even know existed until another parent gives you that look.  Then the light bulb goes off and you’ve entered the community.

But back to me.

I haven’t done much self exploration and growth for 6 years.  A part of me misses that, the aspect of growing and learning in that kind of structured environment.  I go to my therapist randomly.  I go to talk when I’ve reached critical mass to talk through steps to get me through.  I don’t go regularly.  I should.  I’m afraid.  Even more than afraid – which I know I can get through once I decide it’s priority – it’s more that I’m tired.  The thought of how much energy it would take to go down that path, eiy!  That’s the hurdle I need to get over.  Finding the energy.  Cause I’ve got the time and the money.

Perhaps this post is the first step.