Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On burnout

Today was my first day back to work after 11 glorious days off. Vacation is an amazing thing and I am so grateful that I have a job which provides me with a very generous amount of vacation time. I realize this is a luxury and for once I took full advantage of it by not logging in to work to check e-mails (usually I say I'm not going to but then I do anyway).

I read four or five books. Knit a couple hats. Watched the entire first season of Bones, plus finished watching Charmed (the first seasons were so much better than the last few), watched a bunch of movies, slept in, went back to bed some mornings to sleep more, did some shopping, oh and of course went to Maine for a few days. I needed all of that. Very very badly.

Today at work wasn't as bad as I was expecting. All hell did not break loose for a change which is usually what happens when I go on vacation. I only had about 380 e-mails to deal with which was fewer than I was expecting. There were no huge crises and no frantic voicemails. In fact, I didn't have a single voice mail waiting for me. I spent the morning catching up on the doings in the office while I was gone (yes, it did take most of the morning, I work with a lot of people and there's a lot going on right now). And I even managed to get my inbox down to a reasonable number of items to deal with tomorrow.

Before I get to the point of this post I should note that I like my job. At least for the most part. There are parts I don't enjoy, but really, who doesn't have at least some part of their job that they don't like? I'm not challenged by it all day every day, but I think I'm okay with that. I really like the people I work with. Again, at least for the most part. I think the work we do is valuable and that means a lot to me.

Now, my point. I decided on my drive home tonight that I'm burned out. Let me (or should I say the dictionary program on my laptop) define burn out for you:

burnout |ˈbərnˌout|
1 the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion : good carbon burnout | [as adj. ] a burnout furnace.
2 physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress : high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout | you'll suffer a burnout.
• informal a dropout or drug abuser, esp. a teenage one.
3 failure of an electrical device or component through overheating : [with adj. ] an antistall mechanism prevents motor burnout.

Number 2 above fits me to a t. I honestly am not sure how much longer I can keep my head above water. No, that's not exactly right. I can always keep my head above water. It's more like I'm not sure how much longer I can go on before I snap. Before something gives. And I don't want that something to be my sanity. And it every day it feels more and more like that's what IS going to give.

I should not leave work (an hour after quitting time) on the first day after a vacation with a headache, the stress chest I had before vacation, and near tears. I should still be basking in the beauty and relaxation that is vacation. To be honest I was fighting back wracking sobs of, I don't exactly know, frustration?, stress?, dissatisfaction?, while Maggie and I were walking this evening. I mean the tears were leaking out of my eyes, my nose was all snotty and I was really really hoping not to run into any of my neighbors because I'm pretty confident that they'd be able to tell something was wrong and yeah, not sure the "oh, just a little allergy attack" response would have fooled either of us. Pretty sure that's not normal. Or good.

Maybe it's just reentry into work like after so many days off. Maybe I'm dehydrated. Maybe the stars are aligned all funny or something. I know it's not hormones. Most likely I'm simply burned out. And now that I've admitted it I need to do something about it. Take some sort of step(s) to fix it. I'm just not sure what that step(s)
is yet.

So, lyrics. Right then. Can't think of a burnout song so, we're going to go with some tried and true Rent. Because, well a) it's Rent and b) it's also fitting for my non-work life (Mark, Mark, I'm Mark!) and c) it's been stuck in my head for days now. From Goodbye Love:

Mark: Hey, for somebody who's always been let down
who's heading out of town?

Roger: For someone who longs for a community of his own,
who's with his camera, alone?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm so bad at titles

I'm also apparently bad at blogging lately. I'd like to tell you it's because I'm journaling and therefore don't need to blog, but really I've just been lazy (and totally exhausted after work) and not making the effort I should be making. So, here's me making the effort.

I'm on vacation. Vacation is amazing and I was very overdue for one. I'm really not sure where the months of May and June went. Or even the beginning of July. I think I spent pretty much all of them at work. Which is tiring, especially after a long winter and spring at work. So, yeah, I was more than ready for some time off.

I was in Maine for a few days this week. I love Maine. Let me repeat. I. LOVE. MAINE. I fantasize about moving there. In my fantasy world I just sort of pick up the life I have here in Connecticut and plop it down on a scenic coastal town. The exact location in Maine isn't all that important so long as there's easy access to a beach for me to walk on. Because this:

makes me incredibly happy. And peaceful. And centered.

My last evening in Maine we had an amazing thunderstorm. I've always loved a good storm and where we stay we had a nearly perfect view of the storm for about 180 degrees. Lightening was flashing all around us and I was as delighted by it as a toddler to whom everything is new and exciting. And yes, I did clap my hands like said toddler when a particularly brilliant bolt of lightening sizzled through the sky. If I could have been standing out in the middle of the marsh watching the storm I would have been.

My mother watched most of the storm with me. She also likes a good storm, though the really amazing flashes of lightening tended to make her move away from the sliding door through which we were watching the storm. I, on the other hand, leaned even more forward so as not to miss a single streak of lightening flashing through the sky. I might have left forehead prints on the glass. I will neither confirm nor deny this. I don't know what I find so refreshing about storms, but they totally recharge me. I find them incredibly powerful and romantic (that's a topic for a whole other post I suppose).

I can't wait to go back to Maine (though a different part) in September. I have a feeling I will definitely need another recharge by then. I'm looking very much forward to sitting next to the water at night (with or without a drink or three) and watching the stars. There may or may not be deep and meaningful conversation involved. That probably depends on how many drinks are imbibed. Regardless, I'm looking very forward to it.

The rest of this current vacation is being spent at home. Which is also great because I missed my dog terribly. And my cats too of course. But really, cats are so much more independent than dogs so I don't worry about them as much when I leave. I worry about Maggie. More than I should probably admit to, but I don't care. It was fantastic to come home to a happy dog and cats who missed me (even if that does make sleeping difficult for the first night because everyone has to be as close as possible to me in bed. And also Sunshine HAS to bathe right next to me as I start to fall asleep. Happens EVERY time I'm away from home for even one night. Trying to fall asleep to the slurping sounds of a cat bath is not easy for me who can hear a pin drop in freaking Bermuda when I'm trying to fall asleep. I always have to kick him off the bed once or twice in order to get to sleep. It's our routine. We both understand this is going to happen and we both pretend like we don't know it's going to.).

Thus far on vacation I've read three books (started a fourth today) and have done pretty much nothing. I'm really trying to stick with the relaxing and doing only little, easy projects this vacation. I want to enjoy it not and enjoy my house (see previous post about that). We'll see how the next five days go. I have a feeling I'm going to get antsy soon, but we'll see.

So, there's my update for now. Time for bed since my eyes are burning and the yawning is getting out of hand. Looking forward to yet another no alarm clock morning tomorrow. And because I'm on vacation, well, there's no song for today. Because when one is on vacation one is allowed to be lazy and I'm doing my best to embrace my inner laziness. And as I wrote about there being no song for this post Annie Lennox's Why popped up on the radio. Fitting.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Home sweet home

I realized recently that for the past six years I have either:

- been looking for a house to buy
- been in the process of buying said house
- been moving from one house to another
- been fixing up said house

And really, you can probably go back another three years to include the condo since that required re-painting, finishing the basement, new fixtures and some gardening.

So, for at least six (and perhaps nine depending how you count) years I haven't simply enjoyed where I lived. There was always something else going on whether it was going to see new potential places to live or dealing with mortgage companies and movers or going home, putting on grungy clothes and getting down to it (whatever 'it' happened to be that week, taming an over grown garden, ripping down wallpaper, painting, etc., etc., etc.).

Can I just say my god that's tiring y'all? All that work with only a little play wears a person out. Oh, and of course there was also working at my job full time while trying to advance my career thrown on top of all that.

I still have a ways to go in my current house before it's "done." But most of what's left to do are the big projects (re-doing the kitchen and the poodle bathroom, new windows, etc.). And for those big projects you typically need big money and I simply do not have it. I barely have the little money some days let alone big money.

That means I'm at the point now where I get to sit back, relax and enjoy my house. Only I don't know how to do that without feeling guilty for not DOING something. I will sit on my couch after a very long day at work and think "I should be doing something. Why am I not DOING something?!" And I'm not even Catholic. Can you imagine the guilt then? Oy!

I'm trying to let the guilt go. I'm trying to not see all the little imperfections I need to deal with. I'm trying to ignore the 3,000 miles of trim I still need to paint and the bare walls which need art hung in the guest room and the family room. I'm trying to ignore the back "flower beds" which are overrun with grass and weeds. But it's hard to do. The lack of motivation to deal with these things helps a bit, but that ebbs and flows and the guilt, the guilt is always there.

So, this long holiday weekend I'm going to do my best to enjoy my home. To enjoy it guilt free. To do the fun things (as well as some not as fun things like vacuuming, I abhor vacuuming). We'll see how it goes, but you have to start somewhere right?

I'm going to be lazy and not bother with a "house" song for this post. Go ahead and hum the national anthem to yourself. "Oh, say can you see...."