This is Your Brain on Stress

Brain overload

Basically, this is my brain.

It’s been a strange week here in Long View Hill land.

I mentioned that there are changes happening at our office. We have a new executive here who will eventually, if all goes well, be our boss. For now, he’s been brought in at roughly my level. This has caused all my fellow upper managers (who are all men) to start acting like silverback gorillas. There’s been all sorts of posturing, roaring and beating of chests as they try to prove who’s the cleverest. For one of my coworkers, his roaring consists of walking in circles, humming tonelessly and singing “do do DEE dooo…” over and over. It’s not a very effective roar, but it’s what he’s got. As you can guess, it’s messing with the energy in the office and everyone is jumpy and on edge.

Normally, I would be drawn into this sandbox too, (and I fight dirty,) but I have other fish to fry. One of my employees is leaving – she’s up and moving out-of-state – and I have a very short time to fill her rather fabulous shoes. I posted the position online and had over 80 responses in 24 hours.* So, I’ve been phone interviewing, setting up face-to-face interviews, writing rejection emails and just generally trying to keep all the balls in the air. All day long I am listening to what candidates say, trying to figure out what they aren’t saying, asking lots of questions, and making decisions. My brain is in overdrive and at the end of every day this week it’s turned to complete mush. In fact, when New Executive came over and asked if he could meet with me, I said “Nope. Not today, not tomorrow, and probably not next week either.” Maybe not my most politic move, but an honest one. Besides, if he wants to pick my brain, he needs to do it when there is a brain there to pick.

On top of all this, I took a seminar on Thursday on one of the big web-based software packages we use. Overall, it was a pretty good class. I think that it will really help me in my day-to-day job, and if I need to move on, it’s a skill I will be able to use elsewhere. I’m really glad I took it, but of course, it came during this week and it was a lot of thinking, remembering and learning new skills. More brain mush. Now, it’s like oatmeal.

And I hate oatmeal.

Oh, and did I mention that in two weeks I have to go out of town for a trade show? And this is normally the week we prep for it?

Yeah…

One good thing so far is that the weather is now a balmy 20 degrees, so I’ve been able to do full, long walks with the pooch. The ice and sub zero temps were forcing us indoors, but the last couple of days we’ve done real walks and it’s really helped. Funny, exercise is what I want to do the least when I am stressed, but it is also the one thing that really makes a difference. Long walks help in particular because I can work through thoughts, sort stuff out and categorize the day. I like that.

I started this blog because I wanted to figure out a life’s journey for myself. I thought I would have plenty of time to think about it and work towards it, but I am getting the feeling that 2014 is going to be a even bigger year of change than 2013 was!

 

 

* Favorite names of applicants: Precious, Precious, (yes, there were two of them), Diamond, Lacy, Charee and Charlsie. I’ve decided to hire them all and start a girl band instead! We will be awesome.

 

Photo credit: State Farm on flickr

Time Is Not On My Side (No It’s Not)

Old Clock by macinateI’ve been dealing with a case of the blues. There’s a lot going on right now, and hopefully, I’ll get a chance to write about all of it, but for now, the one thing I am shortest on is time. What I would love to do is spend a couple of hours with my journal and a cup of tea, but I am not sure when, or if, that is going to happen.

So, I’m taking it day by day. I’m getting done what I can and trying to forgive myself for what isn’t going to get done. It’s hard; that’s not really my style. I like to make lists, cross things off, and get things done. Right now I feel like I am in triage mode and just working through the emergencies. I know that these cycles happen. I run into them fairly frequently. In this case, I have four weeks of busyness ahead, leaving no time for dealing with the blues. Priorities have to be set. Sadly, even exercise is getting the short shaft right now, but what can you do?

The main thing is just to find joy where I can and not let a momentary blip completely derail me. It’s too easy to let things like that happen – but I refuse to go down that road. I’ve already come so far.

Photo credit: macinate on flickr

Hot Run, Cool Location

River by Thomas's Pics

Doesn’t this look cool and pretty?

Run Thirteen

They say one of great things about spring in the Midwest is that you can get frostbite and sunburn in the same week. Ha! It’s true. Run Thirteen took place on hot, sticky day. A couple of people in my office knew I was running that day and they looked at me incredulously, “You are running today??”

Yep.

I mean, let’s face it – it is just going to get hotter. We aren’t even in June yet. I might as well figure out my strategies now. Each week I look at my calendar and pick out which days I can run. (I try to run 3 times a week, but it doesn’t always work out that way.) This was one of the few days I could go, so I was determined to get out – despite the heat.

I had a plan. I headed straight over to River Park. We’ve got a good-sized river that flows through our fair city and, naturally, a number of parks along it. River Park is not only is right on the river, but it is also quickly becoming a favorite place to run. I lucked out – though it was hot out, there was also a good stiff breeze blowing and coming off the water. It felt great! Not only could I run along the water, but there is also a bridge there with a nice sidewalk – I could even be on the river.

The run went really, really well. I am following a 5K training program, though at this point, I am not thinking about racing.* So, I am still running intervals, but getting stronger every single day. This run made me happy. It would have been easy to bail due to the weather, but instead it turned out to be a beautiful day. I am glad I did it!

And now I know a great place to run when it gets really hot this summer!

 

* I had to rephrase that sentence three times. The old me would have never, ever considered running a race. I went into running feeling that way, and that’s still how I lean. However, I am also trying to be really open to life’s opportunities. I spent a lot of time saying, “I won’t ever do that.” Now I am trying to be more open-minded. I’m trying to wrap my brain about doing things I never thought I would do: going to a gym, wearing skinny jeans, taking fitness classes… running! So, who knows what the future might bring?

 

Photo credit: Thomas’s Pics

Running Down a Dream

I hate squirrels. I like this photo, though.

I hate squirrels. I like this photo, though.

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.”

-John Bingham, running speaker and writer

Just a quick running update:

As I mentioned yesterday, I picked up some running clothes this weekend. I’ve also visited two different parks – both of which are just ten minutes from my office. Both of them have running/hiking/walking trails, and of course, there are pros and cons to both. There is still a third I want to visit and check out. So, I feel good about that, I have some locations scouted. Sometimes I think the hardest thing about trying something new is the big fat element of the unknown. Like anyone trying something new, I am a little nervous. I am trying to minimize it as much as possible.

I am ordering a sports bra today. (I’m getting it from Title Nine since I have had very good experiences with their products in the past.) Next step – shoes! We’ve got a great store in town for runners, and they are my destination once I get back from my next business trip.

Looks like I am on my way!

Photo credit: Randy, Son of Robert

The Road, Part One

My boyfriend is currently rereading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.  He had a spare copy, so I am rereading it with him. In the first chapter we read that life is difficult and full of problems. Here’s what the Wikipedia article about it had to say:

Peck’s book begins with the profound truth that “Life is difficult” We must attest to the fact that life was never meant to be easy, and that it is nothing but a battlefield of problems. We can either moan about them or solve them.

Lonely Road

I find that very comforting.

…what? You don’t find that comforting? Well, stick with me for a moment, let’s break this down. I am not going to reiterate what the book has to say about it, I’m going to tell you why I personally find that very comforting:

If we just start by accepting the truth that life is difficult, it means it is difficult for everyone; not just me, or you, or that guy down the street. It means it is also difficult for the people we admire, our heroes, even the people who don’t seem to have any problems. Life is difficult for them too – the problems are going to be as varied as we are, but everyone has them.

And if you take that a little further, it means that your life is difficult because everyone’s life is difficult – not because you are cursed, or asked out the wrong girl or said that stupid thing in the third grade that still makes you embarrassed to think about. Beating yourself up is not going to change the fact that life is full of problems.

When I first started musing on all this, my first thought was that if life is full of problems, maybe it doesn’t really matter what choices you make – there are always going to be problems, so why try to fight it? But of course, common sense quickly ruled that out. Not making decisions doesn’t negate having problems! Some problems are easier to accept than others. Not having enough time to do the volunteer work I want to is a problem I can handle – not having a place to live is one I would rather not have.

So the goal then, is to make the best choices we can. We need to tackle the problems: acknowledge our faults and weaknesses and try constantly to get better. The important thing is that you are not alone, even if it feels that way sometimes – there are always people out there who have been through things similar, and there are people out there right now, fighting similar demons. Life is going to be hard, but there are ways to get through it.

Personally, I find that comforting.

Photo credit: carolinejoan

Locked Gates

I just finished reading A Country Road, a Locked Gate and Barriers to Endless Possibilites on the blog Just So You Know. Here’s the sentence that blew my mind: we often tear down fences but leave gates standing. (Go on over and read the post to get the context – it is worth it, I promise.)

This is something I want to meditate on in my own life. I know I have a tendency to put up gates that aren’t there. When it comes to projects or plans, I can be very linier. I go from A to B to C to D very methodically. If I am at point B and there is a reason I can’t progress to C, I can become stymied. The truth is that, frequently, the gate stopping me isn’t really there. I can go around – do point Q, M then V and come back later and do C when I have what I need.

But what the author of A Country Road noticed is how often we erect literral, and figurative, fences and gates to protect things we value – then time passes and the need for the fence disappears, but we continue to leave the gate. Think about old laws that are still on the books, outdated stereotypes, educational requirements that no longer make sense in our modern age – these are the types of figurative gates that seem silly once you look at them closely.

I suspect that there are a few of these gates in my own life – maybe more than a few. I am sure I have some mental barriers that once were logical, but just don’t make sense anymore. How often am I stopping myself for no reason? Is what is holding me back valid – or a construct from another time?  Definitely something to think about.