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On the Yellow Brick Road

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Support Redeemer Lutheran Church Youth going to 2012 Youth Gathering in New Orleans

The youth of Redeemer Lutheran Church in St. Paul are going to the 2012 Youth Gathering in New Orleans.  An ELCA Youth Gathering includes elements of fun, spiritual growth, and service.  These gatherings are intended to help the youth who go (and their adult chaperons) grow in their faith, spiritual discipleship and connect faith with daily living.  As you can imagine these trips are expensive.  Here is how you can help.  From May 11 to 14 Linder's is going to provide Redeemer Lutheran Church 15% from your total pretax purchase.  You just need to bring in the coupon from this PDF That didn't happen.  I started on Tues. and on Thurs. morning I was meeting with the clients for the first time and running the kickoff meeting for the project we are doing.  I had to come up with an agenda and put together a project folder in an afternoon with a bit of help.

The company has completed a large number of projects with this client.  The engagement manager told me that the client product sponsor is a personal friend of his.  This is good because that helps build a good bond between the company and the client. 

The kickoff meeting went very well and the client and my co-workers were very pleased with how I ran the meeting.  I got positive feedback from the consulting manger who said "Not only did you run the meeting buy you had dug into the project details.  You knew the project very well."  That felt good.

On Friday back at the office I started looking over the documents I need to complete by next Friday and I started to get anxious again.  There is a lot to do in a week.  Somehow it will all work out.

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Morning before my first day

Today is the first day of my new job.  As I wrote in .  I am not kidding.  Ask her.  She uses Skype to talk with her Kansas friends on a daily basis.

Benjamin is getting A's and B's in school.  He says he is getting plenty of homework.  In fact he says that any more homework would interfere with Debate.  Ask him about his debate experience this last weekend.  He is very proud of his efforts and he should be.

Trudy has a number of upcoming preaching 'gigs' where pastors have asked her to provide supply pastor services for them when they go on vacation after Christmas.

I continue to go to the Sat. morning jam.  I really enjoy the camaraderie and it does force me to learn new songs and how to play with other people.

As a family we have been playing the fantasy role playing game on Sunday afternoons.  Everyone has been having a great time.  Both Benjamin and Catalina have been learning how to play their characters.  Trudy has been really enjoying playing her 'bratty' noble woman.  I think it drives Catalina and Benjamin a bit nuts that their mom is being 'bratty'.  I am 90% sure that is why she does it.  Fair is fair since they can be 'bratty' at times .    I continue to update the campaign world, Valdorian Age - Rising Power on the Frontier.

Sunday play

When I get a chance I will be uploading photographs on the site from the Youth Group's Christmas play.  I don't know where they got the play from but it was very funny and right on topic.  Trudy and I had seen Benjamin 'chew up' scenery in a play.  He was excellent.  I didn't realize that Catalina could act.  She had some of the best lines in the play. 

Therapy

My individual and group therapy has been going very well.  I know that I am changing because of what I am learning.  My therapist told me that the real therapy work happens outside of sessions.  At first I didn't know what he meant until the last two months when I have actually caught myself in my 'stinky thinking' before I slid into some seriously unhealthy behavior.  I have not only caught myself, I have also been able to 'analyze' why I am feeling the way I am and then find a better way to deal with my feelings instead of the way I use to deal with those feelings.

Trudy, Benjamin and Catalina have also noticed the changes.  I still have times where I don't see my 'stinky thinking' and behavior.  But when I am challenged about my behavior and 'stinky thinking' I am learning how to not to be defensive to the feedback.

Closing

I hope to keep my blog more up to date during the next few months.

Many miles have passed and many more to go

Many miles have passed and many more to go

It has been a long time since I posted anything on my blog.  That is good and bad.  It is good because I have not felt like I needed to post anything.  I want to post now because since I last posted my life has been going very well.  I think it is good to remember and write about the good things.  The bad is that I have been very busy and stressed with work.  In the end that has turned out to be time and effort well spent.  More on that in a moment.

I have to thank my friend Lynne for taking time with me last week on IM.  She was exactly what I needed.  A real friend.  Thanks Lynne.

Work life

As I wrote last time I am being watched pretty closely by my boss.  At first that was frustrating but now I don't mind.  I think because he is seeing that I am doing a very good job and many of the things he was concerned about were minor and passing issues.  I also had to make changes to my own behavior that were not being helpful at work.  They were changes that will help me no matter where I work.  My therapy has helped me recognize my own dysfunctional behavior based on my anxieties.  Once I saw that it was pretty easy to make the necessary changes.

As I have written most of my team is in India.  Since we have changed our clocks back an hour, they are almost exactly 12 hours off from us.  That means it is dark when they leave work when we finish our meetings.  The team asked for an earlier start time, 7:00 am, instead of 8:00 am.  I had to switch my workout for the afternoons to accommodate their needs.  It was a bit frustrating because I know it will be harder to get to an afternoon workout time (there is always something else to do) but when I do get to the gym I am able to get in a solid hour of time in the gym.  And that is very good.

This week we finished a release and put it into production on Thursday night/Friday morning.  It was a long one.  We started at 10pm on Thurs. and it didn't end until about 5am on Friday.  I took Friday off and took a few naps to survive

All in all it has been good.

Home Life

Benjamin is very involved with the Debate Team.  He has been on three out of town debates.  In fact he has been at a debate event every weekend since debate started except one.  He gets a couple off around Thanksgiving and then they pound out a few more before Christmas.  Poor guy has a tough time keeping up with his homework and his chores.  He had two weeks worth of clothes that I washed for him on Friday.

Catalina is doing very well in school.  She still isn't getting enough homework - that is what she says.  She is still kind bored.  And she is in the accelerated classes.  Since she is getting straight As I guess she is right she doesn't have enough to do.

Trudy is enjoying her job.  If you want to know about it ask her.

As anyone who knows me very well knows I use to play a lot of role-playing-games.  Trudy and I use to play when we first meet and were first married.  But I got rid of all of my RPG material almost 20 years ago.  With very intelligent, well read, but bored children I decided we should play a fantasy RPG.  After talking to everyone I was able to recover some of my old material from a friend in Dallas (he had all my old minatures) and buy the other material we needed.  We are now spending Sunday afternoons together playing Valdorian Age - Rising Power on the Frontier.  The material you see on Valdorian Age - Rising Power on the Frontier is from a source book I bought and have been typing into the Obsidian website.  It lets me keep all the material in one place.  Eventually the entire campaign will be there.

Jams & Guitar Playing

Well to prepare the material for Valdorian Age - Rising Power on the Frontier I have not been practicing at all.  That should change this coming week.  I have been going to the jam.  And that is great.  In fact now that Trudy works on Sat. and Benjamin is at Debate meets on Sat. it is time for Catalina and I to hang out.  One of these days we will figure out an instrument that she can bring to play and jam with us on.

Therapy work

My therapy work is going very well.  Right now we are working on family of origin history.  I will soon be asking mom and dad about how they grew up and about their parents.  I am sure some of it will be easy to talk about and other parts will be harder. 

Closing

Life is good.

More normal travels on the Yellow Brick Road

More normal travels on the Yellow Brick Road

Last week I wrote in Storms on the Yellow Brick Road

What has not changed

Well my boss still is 'watching' my performance to make sure I am more consistant.  He did say last week during our one-on-one that if I had demonstrated the level of performance that he saw the last few weeks he would not built up a concern over the summer - especially when I moved my family up here.  Essentially from my point of view I went from being 100% all about work to moving my family to St. Paul and rebuilding my relationship with my family.  I got the impression that my home life was interfering with work.

So I am still trying to find a healthy balance between work and home.  It doesn't help that other people who worked from him in these positions or my peer basically sacrificed their personal lives for work.  With the current economic climate I am sure companies figure they can replace anyone they want anytime they want.  I still need a job but I also remember that my family will remember whether or not I was around during this time in their lives five years from now but my boss won't probably remember my name five years from now.

What has changed

We finally finished all the crazy deployments last week.  Thank goodness.

The other thing that changed is that I have gone to the Sat. morning jam at the Corner Coffee House the last two Saturdays.  Here is a YouTube video of what a jam looks like.  I was not at this particular jam.  But it gives you a good idea what it is like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdgubV9m2b8

For me going to the jams is a time of rest, relaxation, healing and enjoyment.  When I am playing my best and everything is just right I am reminded of my personal parable "Heaven is like the Sat. morning jam at Corner Coffee.  We are all playing as one and a perfect community is formed with respect, love and joy between everyone who is playing."

Another thing that has changed is spending time and effort this last week working on myself.  I have spent time thinking about what has been going on with me the last six weeks.  I took an accounting of the things I did very well the last six weeks.  I went on a trip to St. Petersburg for work and I not only had a good time but stayed mentally healthy and within my healthy boundaries while I was gone.  I dealt with the massive amount of stress and ambiguity I have been living with the last six weeks much better than I would have at any other time in my life.  I would have engaged in very destructive behavior in the past.  Now I am learning to live with my pain and figure out why I am feeling the way I do and deal with it.  Last and definitely not least I am owning my behavior and motivations instead of blaming others for my problems.  I am proud of myself for how I dealt with the last six weeks. 

That doesn't mean I was perfect the last six weeks.  It just means that I can see the good I did and I think it outweighs the bad.

In the past I would have been a complete mess and I would have made everyone else's life a living hell.  That didn't happen this time.  I am sure that is progress.

 

Storms on Yellow Brick Road

Storms on Yellow Brick Road

For the last five weeks I have been buffeted by the storms of life.  Primarily coming from work.  We have been facing a series of software deployments which are all done late at night, typically they start at 10:00 pm on Thursday and finish sometime after 2:00 or 3:00 am on Friday morning.  In my case I am expected to be on the phone call monitoring the progress until the very end.  And then I am expected to be available for my two morning phone calls and any possible issues that come up because of our deployment.

In one case we started our deployment on Sat. morning at 10am and we essentially didn't finish until Sunday after midnight.  Then we continued with many late nights during the following week.

On top of all of this I was told by my boss that I wasn't meeting his expectations and that I needed to meet them or "else".  The primary expectation has been consistency & professionalism in my work effort.  I will own the consistency problem as being true.  Unfortunately with my insecurities I don't know what a healthy amount of professionalism is.  I feel like I have sacrificed everything for the job for the last five weeks.  I feel compromised.

Essentially I threw out my stay well plan for the last five or six weeks.  A stay well plan for a person with mental illness is essential for keeping healthy.  It is a plan that helps maintain a balance in your life.  There are some constants for almost all mentally ill people.  There are also some very unique and individual items as well:

Stay Well Plan

Generally most people with mental illness need to the following in their stay well plan.

  • Adequate sleep - Not only does this mean enough sleep but it also means a regular sleep pattern.
  • Exercise - It is critical to get regular exercise.  This does not necessarily mean going to the gym.  It could be as simple as going for 20 to 60 minute walks every day.
  • Eating healthy meals - No junk food.  Cut back on the caffine.  Cut back on the processed sugar.  Basically eat three healthy meals which includes a healthy breakfast.
  • Maintain healthy social contacts - Stay in contact with your friends and do things with them on a regular basis.

In addition to these items I have also included the following items in my stay well plan.

  • Going to worship on a weekly basis
  • Going to the Sat. morning jam at least twice a month
  • Going to group therapy every week I am in town
  • Going to individual therapy as planned
  • Spending time with Benjamin, Catalina and Trudy just being a family (watching TV, movies, going out and doing things together)
  • Going to see live blues music

Boundaries with Work

Somehow I have to establish some healthy boundaries between myself and work.  I am going to have to have that conversation with my boss this week.  I will have to let him know that I cannot keep up the pace of the work without becoming sick.  I will do my best but I will need to have breaks.  I can't be on every late night call - all night long; all week long - and then be expected to function all day long.

I also know my boss is in a lousy situation as well.  He is under a great deal of pressure to perform. And I am sure his boss is in the same situation. And all this pressure is part of the Corporate American "Idol" that we have created.  We have created a new "god" and it is called "Corporate America" and we all are suppose to bow down to the needs of the corporation.  I will write more about this later.

Change for Today

Today is going to be different.  First of all I am writing this blog entry.  Secondly I am going to the Sat. morning jam.  I also hope that as a family we are going to be able to do something this afternoon/evening.  And next week I will be going to the gym at least four times.  All of these things will help me get back into a healthy situation.