Acceptance in my daily life…

Humm.  Well I suppose I could be angry my job grade level went down a notch or I could accept it for what it is & find a solution to get to where I want to go.  Thankfully I’ve been much more of the latter these days.

2010 with my company has taught me that I’m not going to benefit from fighting the big corporate monster that is “Process on top of process on top of process & procedures.”  Basically adopt the “I’m not in control, don’t make yourself mental, find the stuff you do control.” mentality.  When I started to take a step back from it all, de-personalize my contributions to the process & simply accept that I merely fill a function nothing more, it became much easier to just accept what is.

That being said the real work ahead is to keep my head screwed on straight & operate from a mindset of “Ok, I’ve heard you & that makes sense, now what do we do to get me to the level I want to be.”  That phrase will be used with my manager & myself this coming year as we map out a way to get myself to being an officer of the company again.  Probably more than one year but whatever it takes I suppose.  I miss having the letters AVP in my title.  It meant people replied to your emails & phone calls & they carried a certain level of built in respect.

The good news is that even though my “Tier” as they call it has been “Standardized” down one notch that just means that to get myself back up a notch 90% of the requirements are already done.  I’m looking at it as, it was going to happen anyway, there was nothing I could do that was going to stop the change that was coming, & now I just need to focus on getting where I want to be.  I don’t lose any salary or anything too horrible, my bonus pool will be smaller but we hardly ever get those anyway so who cares right?  However.  The one thing that will be missed in my email signatures is having to drop the letters Sr. or “Senior” from my Sr. Business Analyst title.  The work is the same & yes the salary is the same but I’m not looking forward to people who don’t know me judge me based on my new email signature of just Business Analyst.  Heck, if I got an email from someone I didn’t know well that wasn’t proceeded by Sr. I’d certainly think of them as not as skilled as I am, it’s only natural.  No offense but thats just the way things are & I’m sure it will happen to me.  Oh well.

Back to acceptance & detachment.  Lol.  I added detachment because it’s what you have to do to survive in today’s corporate world.  Gone are the days of a CIO or VP asking me to solve a particular situation & letting me run with it.  I used to get such great positive strokes from unleashing my creativity at work that way.  Effecting how our website was designed, weighing in on what a good color scheme was, directing how I thought navigation should be implemented for the ease of use of the public.  It may sound boring but for me it was creative, I loved it & thrived on it.

Today I’ll have to be “ok” with things as they are, I won’t say happy because I’m a ways away from that feeling at the moment, lol.  I’ll definitely find a way to be ok with the fact that I merely fill a function.  That I merely document processes for some very complicated needs, & it does fill a need no doubt about that.  But my days of being the leader who’s words weren’t challenged during a meeting or conference calls are now different.  Not gone, not one way or the other, just a little more challenging maybe & definitely no where near as creative as they used to be.

In effect, my job is now just a job & not a passion.  I’ll have to accept that & continue moving on, looking for & working towards my ultimate goal…

Creating & directing eMedia experiences which is an exciting frontier & perfect outlet for me.  Now I just gotta get there…

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So what’s the take away from all of this?

I just got off the phone with a good friend who is going through a tough time with a missing pet.  We were chatting about our respective lives & the usual “how’s things etc.?” but we also check in with each other on deeper spiritual levels from time to time.  That’s one of the main reasons she’s a dear friend to me.

Last week I had to return to something I learned while in AA that was called “Back to Basics”.  At its core it’s merely returning to a more simplistic way of viewing things when all else fails or prevents you from readily seeing an answer.  In short, Accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things I can, & to have the grace & wisdom to know the difference.  (Yes, it’s a variation on the serenity prayer but it more accurately sums up my life today & is more appropriate for me today.)

Years ago when I made my a decision to embark on a whole new life, spirituality had not yet been integrated in to my day to day life.  I fought it at every encounter during my early times within AA & refused to admit that AA was & is a Spiritual program.  Once I got past the “God” word in all the literature my life changed & my mind began to open up to other ideologies.  I began to re-read the big book & words & phrases my minds eye hid from me magically began to appear.  Phrases like “God As I Understand Him” finally started leaping off the page.  That was not until shortly before my third year in the program & I’ve been searching for what works for me ever since.

At my core I’m a basic Humanist, I believe in Humanity & The Universe before I believe in all the “Window Dressing”, as I like to call it, that falls in to place around things such as an organized religion.  That’s not to say I can’t identify or appreciate organized religions, I just haven’t found the one that best fits me I suppose.  I don’t suspect I ever will entirely.

My recent fall that injured my back made it crystal clear that I am a single man living alone with no immediate family to fall back on.  However, I do have some extended friends via Facebook who’ve reached out & for them I am extremely grateful.  In time I hope to have closer friends but for now it’s a work in progress.

The other constant I have in my life is my faith in something bigger than myself that would look out for me as best it could or was meant to be.  When I finally turned my will over to that power larger than myself, my life completely changed.  It was as if I was on auto pilot.  Nothing could harm me, nothing could make me feel like the ‘world’ was out to get me, my faith would step in long before that could ever happen, and it had.  I had the same beliefs when all this back & forth with HR, my benefits department, payroll & the list goes on & on started happening.  My faith wouldn’t let these people act maliciously, treat me like a number, cause me financial harm.  Or would it?

I’ve been struggling with my HR department & some really incredibly rude & downright mean & nasty people during this whole process.  People I work with in the same company who clearly have no intent on doing what is morally right rather than what is “procedure”.  Because of that they have had a negative financial impact on things & have caused some serious havoc that really didn’t need to happen.  But.  If I’m going to maintain my sanity & move on in a more positive direction, I had to let go & let god as they say.  I’m angry & frustrated with my higher power at the moment & even guilty for the first time ever.  I’m not used to those feelings & I’ve been trying to reconcile if they’re right, wrong or just ‘are’.

My friend sort of surprised me when she asked if I had figured out what it is I was supposed to learn from this whole injured back, out of work, fight with HR, fight for my rightful benefits thing.  (Not all those words but you get the gist.)  And it was a very good question.  One I have still yet to answer to be perfectly honest.  I know what I am grateful for & that is tonight when I said. “I’m still feeling guilty for being angry…for doubting. Ya know?” and she said. “That’s normal.”

What have I learned so far from this incident?  Comfort.  Comfort in knowing we’re all in this life together & providing solace to one another in uncomfortable times is act of love & compassion we all need from time to time.

For now, that’s a take away I can apply to all aspects of my life…

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Ok, so I’m not as prolific as other bloggers…

Let’s see…it’s been awhile since I last wrote anything.  Since that time I’ve been stuck in bed even though my overall mood & spirits are in fairly good shape.  12.29.10…an evening that will live etched in my memory for a long, long time…<shivers>…

It could have been worse & I am grateful I’m not looking at something like back surgery or anything.  Just a long slow, steady, methodical, day by day improvement.  There’s no quick fix for this one & I haven’t even had my MRI review.  With todays ice storm my Spine Guy cancelled all appointments which is fine with me anyway.  I’m not really jumping to any conclusions about my prognosis I just know that 1.) nothing is broken & 2.) nothing he could tell me beyond an exercise plan would convince me to have surgery anyway.  So, long slow recovery it is.

Once I head back to work full time 1.31.11 & get back in the swing of my schedule, whatever that happens to be either working from home part time etc., I think its time to check out this new fangled thing they call “Yoga”.  It has to be pretty low impact yet a good way to stretch & strengthen I would think?  Plus, who couldn’t use a little mental stillness from time to time.

After all this typing I realized I forgot to mention that I went horizontal ala a cartoon off the top step of my landing to my building due to ice & decided to break my fall with my lower spine.  For those not having been following along on Facebook & all.  Who new the term “You have broken 3 Transverse Processes” would ever enter my vocabulary.

Anywho…just bored tonight I guess, wish I had some new photos to share but they’ve all been posted on Facebook & I think I’m officially over Winter.  I’m having a ball in Adobe’s Lightroom playing with all my photo’s.  Almost as good as an old fashioned dark room minus the chemicals & more methodical determined approach to creativity.  Now I can just flip through my photos & grab one at random & start playing around.  In a way it also helps me think forward in how I might want to frame some shots when I’m out & about.  For now I’ve been shooting to what looks good in the camera on the spot.  Now I can really get back to shooting stuff that doesn’t translate well in to a 3.5 lcd screen but you can really play around with in a photo app like Lightroom or Photoshop.  I just learned how to work with 3D masks the other night.  Woo Hoo!

And this ladies & gentlemen is what ooodles of bed rest will get you.  Pushing the outer limits of your laptops CPU capacity because you’re about to go looney from being cooped up for so long!

Next up…Malibu Beach, CA baby!  Something about being at the Pacific Ocean is just so healing & relaxing.  I may spend a night or two at Casa Buckingham as well but for now Casa Malibu where Lana Turner once used to hide out from the glaring paparazzi is the goal…

Maui Jim’s, check, duffle bags of casual wear, double check, camera & laptop ready to travel, triple check!

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Gratitude is a good place to begin…

Today I write from a place of tremendous gratitude.  The “fog” is slowly lifting & as always I’m slowly getting back to my old self.  And on Christmas eve no less!  The day most people could get in to or stay in a funk.  I refuse to stay there & whenever I begin to get stuck in my head I go back to my gratitude list.  It always, always lifts me up.

As I walked to Starbucks for coffee & yogurt I let the sunshine pour over me & I was grateful to live in the neighborhood I do.  I started visualizing a place of my own 2 years ago, definitely in the South End, but nothing as lovely as I have today.  For that I am grateful.

These past few weeks I’ve been writing about my depression & anxiety & all kinds of friends have reached out to offer their support even if only in a quick message.  For them I am grateful.

Returning to photography as a creative outlet has been a boon to getting out of my own head.  It provides a sense of seeing the world as it is not merely as I perceive it to be.  In a way it helps chronicle the good things in my life so I can remind myself to keep going.  To take in the beauty that is the city I love to call home, Boston.  For that I am grateful.

My cats, even all their quirkiness & sometimes extra effort of stomach problems, seem to know when I need some attention.  And in turn they too are something I couldn’t be without.   “Chubby” aka “Louise” just came over & licked my hair as I sit here on the sofa.  She’s odd that way but it’s what makes her unique.  For them I am grateful.

Who truly knows why we get in deep funks sometimes.  I suppose for someone like me it can be related to biology but we’re complex beings.  We have a lot of external forces pushing & pulling at us on a daily basis.  It does get better, everything does, or at least I like to hope that’s true for most people.  Today is a good day, I’ve taken action that needed to be taken & it’s an improvement from days ago.  For that I am grateful.

You know what else I am grateful for?  Peggy Lee‘s Christmas album which is playing on my iPhone at the moment.  Corny I know but it’s never too late to get the Christmass spirit.  For that I am grateful.

I’ll await my grocery delivery today for the rack of lamb I’ll be making for dinner tonight.  I’ve never made a cherry pie either but that should be fun.  I’m sure the kitties will be under foot wondering what all the fuss is about but I’ll be happy.  Peapod Online Delivery, I am grateful for you as well.  😉

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

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Kitchen garbage bags bring holiday cheer…

As most of you know I’ve been struggling to venture out of my place just to do routine things.  Things that are usually routine for most others can at times be very daunting for me.  Today I needed kitchen garbage bags, not just any garbage bags but the specific make and model for my specific stainless type of trash can.  Anything else looks ugly & just doesn’t function properly.  This is not a perfectionist thing, this is a functional need.  The box comes with 50 bags & I only need to buy them once per year.

So I showered & got ready to begin my trip to South Bay Shopping Center.  I sat on my bed for a moment & almost started talking myself out of leaving but then another voice kicked in & said. “If you don’t get up now you won’t leave at all.”  I went through my usual  routine, made sure my iPhone was charged, checked that at least 3 times.  Looked up the type of bags on the stores website, 3 times.  Triple checked my wallet, dollar bills in my pocket for the bus, made sure my Starbucks card was loaded so I could buy a latte’ on the way.  Ok, check, check & triple check.  I was ready to leave…whoops…almost forgot the sunglasses.  Yes, sunglasses even in winter day light…it allows me to look cool on the outside while I get lost in my own thoughts & keep fighting the urge to turn around & go home.

The bus stop is on the corner of one of my favorite Gift shops in my neighborhood.  In facet the name is “Gifted” & Marie the owner & I always enjoy chatting with one another when I’m in shopping for something.  She’s a complete sweetheart, sparkling blue eyes & such a friendly warm & gracious person.  She was exiting the store where I was waiting for the bus & it was like running in to an old friend.  We exchanged warm Christmas greetings, got caught up briefly & wished each other a Merry Christmas.

As I stood there I began to remember that good things happen when you’re out among people.  It’s not all crabbiness & mean spiritedness, there is that out there for sure but that’s not all there is.  That simple exchange with Marie reminded me that I have two types of “Built-in-forgetter’s”.

In A.A. I learned about the first built in forgetter, the one that erases the memory of all the bad situations your found yourself in.  All the scary places that that type of life can take you.  All the negative things when you live that life that you allow to be taken away from you.  As long as that built in forgetter is there & you do nothing to over come it you’re doomed to repeat the same devastating behavior time & time again.

The second built In borgetter, which I didn’t realize I really had one.  Is the one where you forget the good things of when your life is firing on all the right cylinders, when biology doesn’t have you in its grips, when life is better when you fight hard enough to not let it keep you down.  Sure, there will always be those times too but now the real work is to keep reminding myself when things get tough, “…remember when it was good Robert, you went out of your comfort zone & it worked.”

Either version of  the “forgetter” is certainly a detriment, I guess the challenge is being aware of them & digging deep down even when you don’t want to & pull out everything you have.  You can never forget that you went to those scary places & you certainly can’t forget the good things you have now either.

Marie’s holiday cheer upped my mood and holiday spirit & that was enough for me to take a chance on spreading it further on the bus trip back.  The bus was crowded, people were loaded with packages & the aisles were difficult to navigate.  There was a young mother on the bus with a young baby in a stroller.  Clearly she didn’t have many options to stand with a stroller.  Everyone around her was giving her grief even a perfectly able bodied man with a few sacks of groceries.

I had my own share of bags but happily piled them up on my lap & pleaded with her to sit next to me.  She finally did which got her carriage out of the aisle a little more & she said muchos gracias.  I replied de nada & she smiled. (That’s about the extent of my spanish…)

By the time she got off the bus someone else helped lift her stroller for her.  She said Merry Christmas to both of us.  The next stop the lady behind me said Merry Christmas to me and smiled.  When I got off the bus the driver said Thank you for helping & also wished me a Merry Christmas.

Today a simple foray for kitchen garbage bags led to some of the most genuine holiday cheer & people interactions ever.

Just kind people being kind to one another as it should be…

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From the inside looking out…

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the need to write anything but I just realized Christmas is only a few days away.  You might wonder “How could you just realize that?”  Well, when biology gets the better of you no matter how hard you try to overcome its effects.  You can lose track of all time & dates.  I haven’t really ventured outside since late November.

Depression & Anxiety isn’t something to be sloughed off as minor or treated as something as lightly as a head cold.  No, you don’t take two aspirin & the head ache goes away so to speak.  Often no matter what you may try your bodies biology just won’t cooperate when you want or need it to.  I’ve often fought with accepting those labels because I didn’t want to become my mother who also suffered from the same situation.

Funny how you spend your early years vowing not to become your parents & then one day you are kinda like your parents….once again I digress & that’s a Whoooole other post anyway.

It’s rather odd that in some respects I don’t miss anything from the outside world.  I mean my place is filled with windows all over the place where I can watch a great deal of things.  But when it comes to actually leaving the safety & comfort of my own home it freezes me dead in my tracks.  I mean outside among people is where I “kinda” want to be but for right now it’s just a terrifying proposition.

So far since November I’ve made it to see The Rockettes which was a truly wonderful night.  I had to really out think myself to do it but it was wonderful.  Once the evening came to an end all I wanted to do was run home as soon as possible.  I’ve made it to my therapists office twice & the same results.  Last evening I had run out of coffee so luckily Starbucks is only 1.5 blocks away so that was a quick sprint out & back.  Quickly firing off photos along the way.  A great deal of photographers shoot several of the same subject & then choose the best of the lot.  I’m not so lucky, I don’t have the luxury of time.  I see something I like, I frame up that one shot & shoot.  Fun in a way but certainly not where I want to be as I work on my craft.

Whoever is reading this may think its all gloom & doom & it’s really not.  I have cycles, they come, they go, in the end biology decides when to get back in sync with how I want things to be & then I’m on my merry way again.

For today…I battle with it & it battles with me..

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Where on earth have I been? – Part 1

I know, it’s been awhile…a lot has changed since I’ve last written, namely me.

Going to Los Angeles was the best thing I could have done for myself right now on this road called the journey of life.  Things coalesce when they’re meant to be rather than when you want them to be.  Sometimes the challenge is being mindful enough to let go completely & allow life to merely unfold as it should.

Oh I’ve been back for awhile now I’ve just been balls to the walls as they say when it comes to work.  I have one of those jobs that takes a super amount of mental energy during the day to navigate very challenging personalities & at the end I’m just exhausted.  There is just no room for anything less that super success this year because I need a raise, I haven’t had one in three years.  If I hope to stand a chance in this lovely new “corporate” world of “process” than I have to play the game.  I don’t like to play the game and it goes against my nature to smile and nod when what I’d really rather do is simply say. “What retarded jack ass told you the system could do that & why aren’t you annoying them instead of me right now?”  I digress…

It’s kinda weird.  I had all these grand ideas of what it was going to be like, feel like when I went back home to “dump” all this childhood shit.  The funny part is there wasn’t any grand break down, no me running up to the sea & pouding my fist at it screaming, “I made it in spite of you damnit!”  Nothing of the sort.  (Well, maybe in my head a little…)

My dear friend Angie happened upon my path for a reason.  A reason & timing for which I’ll always be grateful.  There’s something so comforting just being around another person who “gets it” when you spend time together, effortless, comforting.

I’ll write more later complete with pictures but for tonight I’m at peace.  Starting the Agape community page for Boston is going to be a glorious thing.  I can just feel it…..

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