At work, I was on my way to the kitchen – I walked by a large conference room that had a video feed up. There was a camera pointed at the hallway. I saw myself on video and said “What the hell? I look like death warmed over!”

In my quest to be a healthier version of myself, I had to do three things: accept/make no excuses, stop seeking permissions and make my time a non-negotiable commodity.

Excuses

We live in a world of excuses when it comes to making time for ourselves.

Make a way out of no way. “There’s no way I can eat right.”, “No way I can work out today.” Not before work? Not at lunch? Not after work? Can’t take 10 minutes to walk at lunch?

I had to interrogate my own excuses. There’s no way I can make time to eat right? Really? None? Bullshit. I can’t make breakfast at home? Find a healthy alternative while you’re out? Drive a half mile further to get something different? You can’t pack a lunch?

Most of those times, we’re bullshitting ourselves into excuses instead of admitting that We Don’t Want To Do It or that It’s Too Much Work.

Some things are Too Much Work. I weigh my food and count calories. For some, that’s a bridge they won’t cross. I felt I had a portion control problem, so I decided to be stringent and accountable for what I was shoving into my gullet instead of simply feeling bad about it later.

Other People

We give it all of our time away then blame Other People for our shortcomings.  I couldn’t go to the gym because of my coworker. I got a last minute assignment from some Other People.

Other People’s expectations will steal your time. Put a cap on how Other People suck up your time.

Other people will always give you more to do if you allow it. I have to force myself to be balanced. No one else can do it for you.

Martyrs

Other People can make us feel important and give us an ‘out’. It also allows us to be a martyr. Save the day for Other People at our own expense all the time.

Working hard with insane hours sometimes makes you feel important. But taking time away from that and balancing sometimes reminds you that the world will go on without you.

I never believed in all-nighters. Never pulled one in college. I believe in proper planning and rest. The sign that I *had* to stay up all night to take a test meant that I planned poorly and didn’t study in advance. I also know myself – when I try to work when I’m exhausted, I make more mistakes.

I was working on a prototype for a client a few years ago, and was put onto the project late. And it was in deep trouble. I had to work from home that day, and there were folks in the office I was working with. My computer blue screened (Thanks, Windows XP) and I said “screw it”, and drove into the office at 10pm. I worked until 7am, turned in the prototype, and saved the day. Yay me. Yay us.

I would have been done sooner if I didn’t make a huge mistake at 5am and spend an hour backtracking my steps trying to make sense of what I did. Every time I work ridiculously late or when I’m tired, I make mistakes.

Look at me! I made the project work! But I shouldn’ve have had to do that. When I see our teams at work brag about how a group of 10 people had to work 80 hour weeks for the last three weeks before launch to catch up, I think “damn, there’s something wrong there. I wouldn’t be proud of that. That’s a failure in planning and scoping somewhere.”

I wrecked my sleep pattern for the next week just off of that one day. I had to drive home and sleep from 8-2, and felt like I was drugged. I vowed never to do it again.

Ignoring your own health to prove your importance  is a sucker’s bet in the end.

Other People will let you skip what’s important to you if you don’t take time to do it. No one will care more about your well-being than you will. Most people won’t say, “hey man, get outta here” or “Go and run”. You have to take your own time back.

It can make us feel important if we’re always sacrificing our time to do something admirable. Maybe you can’t leave work cause a project is hellish. Maybe you can’t find childcare, you’re a single parent, your spouse works insane hours, You’re working in a submarine, etc. There’s always a way to find time to get out of a rut. You may not like your options, but there are always options. Situps and pushups at home. Walking instead of taking a bus. Parking further away.

People never take the time to say “man, you look like hell” if you’re burning the candle at both ends, but will be happy to say how great you look if you take care of yourself. As a matter of fact, they won’t care, as long as you give them what they want. When you finally get sick from stress or poor health, they’ll shake their heads and say “tsk, tsk, he should have taken care of himself.” But no one wants to give you time.

I feel better as a result of my efforts…and while I’ve slacked at times (new job, high stress)…I’m in a far better position than I was 1.5 years ago.

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Note: I posted this somewhere else today, but I thought I should share this here. 
I want my anger to mean something. I want my anger to be put to use. I don’t want to only be angry. I want change. Being angry for the sake of being angry accomplishes nothing.
I want people to stop shooting innocent kids.
I want people to stop imposing their religious beliefs on people via politics.
I want people to stop putting their foot on poor people’s necks and telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
I want people to stop rewarding companies and ignoring the needs of people.
I want people to stop thinking that because they don’t get everything they want, that the system is broken.
I want people to stop taking down the whole country for political gain.
I want people to stop believing that compromise is a dirty word.
I want people to stop blaming the victim as a first response.
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Things I think I think

February 5, 2012 · 1 comment

I wish the SAP button allowed us to hear someone other than Collinsworth.

Omg, I wish people stopped giving me drama!
-said by everyone who wanted to pop shit and go unchecked

I’ve heard less shit talking from pats and giant fans. Mostly Cowboy, Eagles fans. And Redskin fans still can’t believe they beat the Giants twice.

The Giants accidentally released a version of the homepage if they won. Ugh.

I need the Pro Bowl to go away. And one week between Championship games and the Super Bowl.

We still are consoling Raven and 9er fans.

Things Cowboys fans don’t say: remember when Romo won his second playoff game?

My phone autocorrected Romo as Toni. Nuff said.

When an American says “I don’t watch football”, I look at them suspiciously for a moment. I wonder if they do the same when I say I don’t watch the Tony/Grammy/Golden Globe/Oscar awards.

When you wear your favorite team apparel on game day, you feel connected to everyone else who wears your favorite team’s gear.

I’m the only person I know who doesn’t want a footlong subway sandwich.

I wonder how many non-dog owners tune into the puppy bowl and why. I also don’t know why the puppy bowl exists.

I feel like the act LMFAO is a practical joke gone too far.

Ten minutes after I wrote the team thing, a guy yelled “Go Giants” at me as I went into the Stop and Stop.

If I bring one recycled bag, I will almost always buy two bags worth of stuff.

Buying wing sauce on gameday is a bad move.

The water aisle is the loneliest aisle on Super Bowl Sunday.

Can you be trusted if you are picking up a grocery store rotisserie chicken to a super bowl party?

Thank goodness for women’s football attire.

Unrelated: I’m surprised that no clothing manufacturer has designed a shirt with a little extra material in the  front for folks with big guts so the tummy is fully covered.

Dear people who don’t live in the US or like football, we get it. Your jokes are cute.

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I was woken up this morning to make pancakes (a weekend tradition at my house). She helped me cook as usual.

I gave Tyra a pancake (really, 3/4 of a pancake, she swears she can’t eat a whole one…up from 1/2 of a pancake last time). She devoured it.

Then she asks me for grapes (we bought some at Whole Foods yesterday).

One grape?
Sure, dear.
Another grape?
Go for it.
More grapes?
Dear, you’re going to get sick eating too much, and Mom is going to take you outside. Go brush your teeth.
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (complete with running off and screaming).

She’s a wee bit dramatic. And very upset with me. She insists that I’m not going to get any Christmas presents.

Really? She’s this upset after I gave her some money to get a new dress, breakfast, and more food than she can handle?

This is just the tip of the iceberg, methinks.

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Starting over

September 28, 2011 · 8 comments

I hate writing the post that explains why I haven’t posted in four months. There’s not a way out of this.

Life’s been kicking my ass lately. But after a lot of thought, I realize how this year has been all about starting over…and not by my choice.

After six months of knee pain, I thought “I’ll go to Physical Therapy, get a little treatment, and I will be back running in no time. I still want to run a 10K and a half marathon in ’11.” It took four months to complete therapy (Starting in January), and I’m still not 100%. Not all of it is relating to my knee pain. Even after all the work I’ve done, I was encouraged to think about running a 5k late this year. I laughed when I heard it – I would routinely run 3.1 miles every time I hit the treadmill or the park.

I’m not a fast or lean runner, but I used it as part exercise, part therapy. I loved getting away, having time to myself to workout and think about things. I loved having an hour or so where I wasn’t needed. Didn’t need to answer questions, answer phones, or do anything. Missing that time to myself made me realize how much I relied on it for stress relief. A few people have recommended meditation. The second time, I started to download some podcasts. Even 15 minutes would help quite a bit. Now, if I could work up the courage to try some yoga, that would be pretty cool.

I’ve been working on a new client this year at work. Very different. For the first three years, I knew all of the terminology, all of the processes, I was comfortable with everything and was not surprised by anything. Now, I’m feeling a little more comfortable, but it took almost eight months and a lot of struggling to get to this point. Many days months I didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it. I didn’t know any of the processes, people, or terminology. There were some changes that didn’t make sense to me, and it took me a long time to understand the reasons behind it.

Also, I forgot how difficult it was to work with some people. I had a six week stretch where I was working with someone who just never gave an inch, communicated poorly, was condescending and flat out rude sometimes. Every day was a new urgent deadline with no explanation. I had ten to twelve hour days that left no time for anything else. Lunch. Work events. Getting home to tuck the kid in and see my wife. There was nothing fun, nothing that captivated my interest or attention. Every day felt a little like torture. But I figured that I wasn’t quite grasping the work, and I should not complain. I told myself “Buckle down, work harder, things will work themselves out.”

Until they don’t. I was burned out. I gave serious thought to quitting. Instead, my exasperation led me to ask for a little guidance. It turned out that some of that wasn’t my fault. A lot of it, actually. Things improved from there.

I’ve had to start over some other ways. Some I can’t discuss even here. (yes, there are things I don’t discuss publicly.) When I explained all of the stress over that time period, two people asked me “how are you still communicating coherently?” When I heard that the first time, I thought, “maybe I need to cut myself some slack.” When I heard it from the second person, I really had to step back. I didn’t think much about all the stress…I keep going cause it’s what I have to do. But I do realize that I have to give myself some credit, but keep moving forward.

All the stress has contributed to my RA flareups. That’s forced me to slow down. I have this complex where I try to do too much, and make up for lost time. It’s unsustainable, so I have to readjust my goals again. I have to carve out some time to connect with everyone, take time for myself, and recuperate.

So it’s time to stop kicking my own ass. Starting over.

Lessons in all of this:

  • Ask for help, but work your ass off first.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself.
  • Know your limits, and respect yourself even if other people don’t.
  • God laughs at your plans constantly.
  • Be thankful for those folks who look out for you. I had some people go above and beyond for me, and I can’t forget that.
  • Ask for forgiveness from people you love. But forgive yourself first.
  • Stop feeling defeated when assholes wanna drag you down.

 

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