Monday, February 21, 2011

Nothing, Really

I work two hours later than my usual time today, and that fact has left me with a brief period of quiet--the children are not awake, and the furry beasts are curled up asleep in comfortable chairs, as they should be on a snowy day.  Having spent the weekend moving at top speed, the quiet feels un-natural to me this morning.  I feel I should be doing something "productive", whatever that is.

I have been in physical therapy for the past three weeks because of an issue with my shoulder, and the therapist has declared, on numerous occasions, "You are so wound up!" in reference to the muscles on my shoulders--she could bounce a quarter off of them and rather than delighting in that parlor trick, she set about "fixing" them by loosening them up.  

She asked me if I carry my stress in my shoulders and I admitted that I had no idea.  I don't think in terms of "stress" or "I'm so stressed out right now".  I think in terms of, "What can I be doing right now?" or "What needs to be done to make this situation better?"  I was unconvinced that I was carrying that around in my shoulders, but I let her do her work.

Most of the time, my perspective has been a good way to think of things.  See a problem, solve a problem.  Lately, and this is entirely related to life at the office, my "see a problem, solve a problem" trigger has been nothing but trouble.  I try to do something that I think of as helpful and discover that that thing I did was actually someone else's job and now they hate me for making them look bad.  It's not like I ran around saying, "See?  I had to do this because they didn't do it!" I just....did whatever and apparently someone noticed that the other person wasn't doing it.  Not my fault--I was just trying to be helpful.

I realize this morning that the so-called "stress" that I've been carrying around in my shoulders has actually been frustration.  I'd rather act, when able, than sit around and let something be half-assed or broken or non-functional.  That's just the way I am.  But at work right now, in order to avoid drama, I have to avoid action.  It's so wrong and so counter-productive that it makes me nuts, and, apparently, makes my shoulders freakishly tight.

To combat this, I've taken on projects at home, such as completely remodeling my room, updating the living room, doing really difficult and involved little artsy projects, etc.  I just can't shut it off because my boss tells me to.  I can't.  I don't want to.

On the other hand, the lesson learned by having an insecure boss is that this is his issue, not mine.  While my taking ownership of the success of my team would be an admirable trait to most bosses, because it is something that makes my current boss lash out like a spoiled 6-year old, I simply can't do it right now.  As such, I have had to re-align my brain to make this a positive.

Now, to be clear, I don't think it's a positive.  I don't think that being a clock-watching, ass-sitting, do-nothing is in any way positive, but, that's the role that has been handed to me, so....what-are-ya-gonna-do, right?  The positive comes from the moment I see the lesson of Let It Go, and make THAT the focus of my action.

If I apply my usual energies to it, I'll have this Let It Go sh*t mastered in no time.  Here's an example--just the other day, my daughter came to me with a broken iPod.  Not just any broken iPod, but the one that I spent a lot of money on at Christmas, through some hardship, because she had asked for that exact thing and really, really, wanted it.  Two months later, he she comes with an iPod with a screen that was basically shattered.  The thing still worked,'s broken.  She was expecting me to be pissed.  I was.  She had lent (or given?) the protective carrying case to a friend, and for the last few weeks I have been bugging her to get it back from him and she didn't.  And now, she's got a broken iPod.

My first reaction was, "I don't have $200 to buy you a new f*cking iPod right now!" which is true.  I mean I have it, but I'll be damned if I want to buy an iPod with it. Then, at some point, a little switch went off in my head and I said, "Look, I gave you a gift, and what you do with it after I give it to you is none of my business.  I'm sorry that you don't have an iPod anymore," and I apologetically refused to contribute to the iPod Replacement Fund.  Maybe, at some point, if she's saved 3/4 of the replacement cost, I'll pitch in, but only then.  I was mad at first because, as an action person, I thought that now that she broke her iPod that I was going to have to do something, but, that's not true.  I don't have to do anything.  I already did something--I bought her the iPod.  Everything after that is her problem.

This is an uneasy place for me to be, but, learning to shift my focus, once I get past the initial growing pains, will end well--these things always do.  There will be a million dumb examples, and I promise not to share them all (*yawn*), but, that's what I've been doing lately.  Nothing.

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