My Outlet

I’m not talking about shopping or electrical ones. 

I began this blog because I needed to write for pleasure, express my ideas, and blow off frustrations of life. 

Lately I feel very light, mentally speaking. My frustrations, creative and otherwise, have lifted. For now, at least. 

My fight against my depression and negativity have provided fodder for hundreds of my blog posts. Now I need to learn how to write about being happy without being cloying, content while making sure readers know my life isn’t perfect, and about good things without forgetting the bad. 

This is sort of like when I had to relearn how to cook after I decided to live as a vegan. That hasn’t turned out amazingly well (so far), so let’s hope this transition is a bit easier. 

It’s Ok to Hate Your Job

Courtesy of Reddit:

Somone I trust and lookup to told me the other day at breakfast that I should write a book on my experiences and how I got off my ass and helped myself. I laughed and said I knew I didn’t have that kind of focus or care to write.

Even this post I’m just dictating into my computer mostly. But I did want to share this with you because it helped me.

You hate your job. You try to pretend like you don’t but you do. You get in the car every morning, with your coffee in hand, and take a deep breath. Right there, in the quiet of your front seat, you have the same conversation with yourself day after day. It goes like this:

“You can do this. Just one day. You can make it through.”

Of course, you know that. You know you can make it through the day. You’ve been “making it” through days for months now, even years, by repeating this very same routine, this coffee and breathing and driving and numbing and “you can make it” routine.

But is this what life is supposed to feel like? Like you’re just “making it” through?

Does everyone feel this way? I fucking did and I hated it. Thankfully I was fired for my diminishing performance at work.

Chances are, you’ve worked a handful of jobs and most of them have felt this way. In the beginning you think, “great opportunity,” or “exactly what I need for now” or even, optimistically, “this one is going to be different.” There’s always such a freshness and excitement and urgency and enthusiasm when you begin something new.

But then, after a few weeks, or maybe months if you can hold out, this old familiar feeling starts to sink in: Exhaustion, depression, loss of motivation, the fear that you’re just pushing papers or running TPS reports or barking at a room full of students to calm down. The feeling you have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.

What about the thing you want to be doing? The thing that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you up at night? Why can’t you get paid to do that?

Never mind, you give up. Nobody really loves their job. Do they?

You worry it must be you.

It must be an attitude problem, or a gratitude problem, or maybe you were just born lazy or entitled. Maybe it’s because you live in a rich country, or because you grew up in a rich family, or because you grew up in a poor family and you always wished things could be different. Maybe this is a “first world problem.”

At least you have a job, you tell yourself. Some people don’t even have that.

I’m writing to tell you it’s okay.

It’s okay to hate your job, and it’s okay to want a new one. It’s normal. You’re normal. You don’t have to hide it or feel guilty anymore and you don’t have to talk yourself out of it. What you want is saying something. It’s trying to tell you something. It’s a special message for you from deep inside your gut.

Don’t ignore it.

When you’re hungry, your body tells you by sending signals to your brain. Your stomach growls. You crave something. Your mouth waters. You respond by giving it food.

What your body craves isn’t always best for you. Anyone who has dieted knows this. Sometimes our bodies are addicted to sugar, or to fat, or to salt, or even to chemicals, and we have to recognize and intervene and feed it something different than what it craves. But we don’t do this because hunger is bad. We do this because we know what’s best for our body.

Because what we really want is to be healthy, to have more energy, to live longer, to lose weight.

The worst thing you could do, when your stomach growls, is give it no food at all.

Don’t ignore your hunger.

Instead, ask yourself what you really want.

What do you really want out of life? What is the most important? You can’t have it all, so you have to prioritize, but it’s okay to want stuff. It’s okay to want a different job, a different city, a different job, a different way of life. Different wants crop up in different seasons (career, family, marriage, friendship, healing, etc.) but wants always help us to zoom in and focus and feel thankful and see progress and find meaning in our life.

So, what do you want right now? What matters most?

If you woke up this morning and are dreading your job, listen up. You’re normal. This is normal. It can be hard to find meaning in what you do, no matter your job title. But it is possible. Everyone doesn’t hate their job. And it’s not irresponsible for you to ask yourself the questions you need to ask to find work you love. (Like, what do you want?) You may discover you need a new job. You may find you simply need a change of perspective.

Either way, what your feeling is not bad or wrong. In fact, it might be trying to tell you something important.

Don’t ignore it.

 

Do you know who you are?

In the past year or so, I have been gradually gaining more and more free time. I don’t know what to do with myself because this amount of free time might be temporary.

My youngest turns 12 this weekend, and my other child is 14. We are entering the parental home stretch, and aside from helping with school projects, making food, and driving them places, they don’t need me very much (not physically, anyway). I strive to cultivate our common interests, just to keep a connection with them. But even these activities don’t take much work, especially when compared to 3 years ago.

I’m not the same person I used to be. Most of my free time was gobbled up with mundane tasks and I got used to that. As a result, my personal interests withered quite a bit or were modified to keep me at home minding children outside of school hours. I hardly ever leave the house anymore, except to walk the dogs, go to work, run a few errands, or have a meal in a restaurant. Very rarely do I head out just for the heck of it. I’m simply unused to having that option and I’ve been domesticated. I am also aging, and therefore have a lot less energy than I used to. (For example, I am hiring a gardener to dig up our tiny front lawn and replacing it with gravel.)

Some weekends whiz by with very little interaction with our offspring. Girl midget cleans her room, collects her allowance, and vanishes. Boy midget often has a group project to work on, or he is off playing games at friends’ houses. I spend a significant amount of time cleaning the inside and outside of our house, but its appearance doesn’t reflect that. One can rearrange only so much furniture and purge only so many belongings; I feel like I need most of the items that now reside in my home. But maybe I could do more, right after I have a glass of wine.

Maybe I need another project? I’m working on finding us a good house swap for Hanukkah this year. Nearly anywhere in Europe is cool with us, basically. We are looking for a cultural getaway, somewhere there are museums or sites to see and we don’t need to depend on a car. I also have to work on organizing our house because we have renters coming in August. That one’s boring, but very necessary.

Maybe this abundance of free time isn’t temporary? Dare I hope? Can I get back to being ‘myself’? Someone with varied interests and a busy calendar of activities for myself? Can I take on a big project without needing buy-in from the other people who live in my house?

A Few Million Good Citizens

Just like millions of other people, I have consistent healthcare available. I’m on the ‘grid’ due to my health card, driver’s license, and passport. My medical records, although secure, aren’t impossible to obtain given the right permissions and computer skills. Being identified is normal and usually doesn’t trouble me. Is that because I’m a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen? Yep. Any trouble I have found myself in during my life has been minor at best, and easily remedied by paying a fine or apologising profusely.

When I get pulled over by police my biggest worry is that I will get a ticket for a traffic law violation. I’m not concerned with handing over my ID, ownership and proof of insurance.

I’m watching a show called American Odyssey, which is based on global conspiracy set in North America and some Middle East countries. I love that sort of plot, especially when we see how the lives of characters are connected in seemingly random ways. Eventually the plot unfolds and we see these connections are not coincidental but instead are deliberate. The homes of characters are bugged, spies are everywhere, and because this drama is set in modern-day, cell phones are tracked, and military drones carry out most of the killing and surveillance. With just one call placed by cell phone anywhere in the world, the characters are immediately identified, tracked, and targeted for elimination. These events seem realistic to me, and if I were more of a renegade I might be concerned.

My mother has been in hospital lately for an ailment that has plagued her for years and finally came to a point where diagnosis is possible. Her hospital roommate turns out to be an acquaintance of mine, through the dog rescue I adopted my dogs from (LotsaDogs Rescue) and am still involved with. It’s a surprising coincidence considering that neither I nor my mom’s roommate live nearby that hospital.

But I am not an outlier or a rebel. I am a boring nobody who is raising a couple more boring nobodies. Sometimes I feel like I live in a giant ant farm for all the difference I make in the world.

A weekend of very little talking: A love story 

This weekend, husband is off on a short trip to visit far-away family. The midgets are with their dad. I have a few days on my own, and I’m looking forward to it. I will have no responsibilities, no obligations, and no noise except that which I create myself or is created by the dogs. 

I feel about these upcoming days the same as a hungry person sitting down to a plate of good food. I will savour every moment! 

On Monday the cacophony resumes.

As an aside, I don’t want to try any more recipe iPhone apps. Unless that code will shop, prepare, and clean up after a meal, there’s nothing new in it for me to discover. Nothing. 

How I Embraced the Cubicle and…who’s kidding who? I hate this shit.

Lately I’ve been called upon to be a personal cheerleader for a co-worker/friend. Usually it’s me who hates being here, marking time and providing necessities of life to my family unit. Last week and the week before that I was home a lot with sick children, and I determined I don’t want to be a stay at home mom (sahm) even if it’s an option, which for me it is not. I don’t know if sahm dissatisfaction is linked to my fear of being ‘unproductive’ or becoming a 1-dimensional drain on our family’s resources, but I definitely felt bored by the end of that period. I don’t even want to use word unhappy to describe myself. That word feels too strong for my malaise and too weak for the stirring I feel inside me that wants to burst out of my chest.

Last week and this week, my friend Anne is going through a phase where she feels unrewarded at work, meaning she feels her work doesn’t make a difference in the world. Normally she feels satisfied by her projects and is content to bang out documents as required. I reject the idea that if she was better paid she would be happier. Same for the notion that her working for a different company in a different cube would provide her with a solution.

This week on the Bill Burr Monday Morning Podcast, Bill puts cube workers on blast and asks rhetorically if anyone hoped as a kid that one day they would be dealing with spreadsheets and other paperwork in an office setting. My answer to that is Yes, I did. The idea of having inside work that is clean and uses my brain was very appealing to this farmer’s daughter. No longer would the weather determine my productivity that day, and I predicted I would receive regular praise for my brilliant ideas and Protestant work ethic. Sure, I’ve experienced this, but now my dreams have changed. Now I want some freedom to explore my new interests and make money while producing meaningful services or products to the public at large. I’ve never wanted to be famous or outrageously rich, so my humble goal should be simple enough to achieve.

My hypothesis for Anne is that, no matter what office she works in, she will ultimately be unsatisfied because she will not be doing work she really wants to do. What does she want to do? She doesn’t know yet and that’s causing her mental discomfort. I was at that point last year, and by now I’ve come to the realization that my discomfort is ok and doesn’t need to be resolved at the moment. I don’t know what I want to do next, and that’s ok. This is the idea I’m trying to convey to my good friend; it’s ok if we don’t know what to do yet because someday we will.

I’ve been listening to many podcasts lately and some of them pertain to entrepreneurs. Sometimes I’ll hear a good sound bite and I try to remember it. Keep in mind I’m always riding my bike while listening to these, so I haven’t a pen and paper nearby to jot down these ideas.

“People put more value on entrepreneurs than they do 9-5ers”

It’s true generally the entrepreneur is glamorized, while the ‘wage slave’ is not.

“We eat at TGIFridays, not TGIMondays.”

Weekends are what we live for, supposedly. But no one’s tweeting about the crappy parts of making a living as a guest speaker or consultant. Mostly all we see are photos of beaches or mountains with the caption, “This is my office today.” What about a photo of a bland hotel room and a picture of a squished cereal bar that will serve as dinner that night? Not so glamorous but much more relatable. That tidbit was provided by Kevin Kostella, who creates The Freedom Lovin Podcast.

I’d like to think I’ve got my eyes wide open about the prospect of being a business owner, not that I have a business in mind yet. One inspiring site is My Wife Quit Her Job. This man blogs about his family’s transition from a typical dual income household of working for other people, to running an incredibly successful online store. His wife was working at a 6-figure job and hated it. She hated it so much that her sadness and anger filtered up to her family life, making Sunday evenings just awful. A solution had to be reached, and so together they found one.

Husband and I periodically but regularly discuss what else I could be doing to earn income for our family besides working in a cube in an office building. We have some ideas but nothing is without risk and all of the ideas take time and effort. I’m willing to devote time and effort in this case but not as much if I am not guaranteed success. Or practically guaranteed. I suppose that’s what holding me back.

 

I Need the Motivator from Wipeout

If I could get that installed at my house, I could better propel myself out the front door of my house.

My jobs in the morning are: let dogs out for a pee; take my pills; get midgets up out of bed (sure, they have alarm clocks, but that doesn’t mean they will heed them, so I’m their backup, their plan B); monitor the progress of the aforementioned midgets, offering solutions to problems such as forms that need to be signed, swimming stuff to find, and a distinct lack of socks all while keeping an eye on the clock; get myself ready for work, the effort of which varies depending on the dirtiness of my hair; feed dogs (because if I feed them as soon as I get out of bed, they wake me up earlier and earlier every day); kiss girl midget good-bye; take dogs for a walk; and go to work. Would I want my midgets to be more independent? I used to think Yes, but I’m glad to be included in their daily routines. This involvement keeps us connected.

I can (usually) get myself out of bed easily enough, and I crank some tunes via Songza to get my mood to a happy state. It’s the leaving of the house that presents a problem, one that would be solved by The Motivator. For now, the warmer weather is my metaphorical Motivator, and for now that’s good enough.

I’ve been riding my bike to work and that’s providing some joy. Always people wonder why I bike on busy streets instead of the bike path. The bike path is boring. The landscape is homogenous, the wind is formidable, and there are no flower shops, bakeries, or traffic lights to break up the windy monotony.

The warm weather has also quieted down the plaintive whining in my head that appears during the winter to wonder why in hell I live in such a cold climate. So there’s that.

You Know You’re White…Right?

This is the comment I hear very often, because I sometimes use the following phrases:

  • Dolla Dolla Bill, y’all
  • Takin’ Care ‘a Bidness
  • Ah-ight
  • Mashallah
  • Zei Gezunt
  • Menches Kint

No, these are not the most professional words to use, but that’s why I’m not in management. I have a lot of freedoms not afforded to people who have an image to uphold. I’m not naive enough to think my off-kilter sense of humour doesn’t affect others’ perception of me, but then again, even if I was a ‘proper’ serious person, I sincerely believe I would be in the same professional position as I am now. My skill set is mostly measured upon the words I smith and deadlines I meet.

I’m a white Christian who married a Jew, who lives in a multi-cultural city and works in an office with many different ethnicities. My weekday lunch time foods are atypical compared to what I grew up eating. It makes sense for me to have varied phrases in my vocabulary, but even I laugh at myself when I say to my very Jewish brother-in-law on a Friday afternoon: Good Shabbas.

Handwashing: You’re Doing it Wrong

This, according to a Yummy Mummy post I just received in my Inbox. Of course I am doing it wrong. OF COURSE. We are also destroying our environment, don’t worry I haven’t forgotten that my children and grandchildren will live in a barren wasteland by the time they are my age.

I’m in the office a lot these days (as opposed to working from home, which I had been doing, because of the project I was working on previously), and so I do a lot more browsing in the stores around here. This activity is sort of fun for me, no guilt, just browsing. Today I cruised around Bed Bath and Beyond, and enumerated all the ways in which my home could function better, be cleaner, and be better decorated. I do have a good supply of Febreeze at my house and I use a lot of it. Otherwise, my home would be taken over by teenage boy smell and dog smell. I had to actually tell boy midget that now that he is 13, he must shower every day, and that shower must include shampoo and soap. If I am not specific about using cleaning products, he simply gets himself wet, then jumps out and considers the matter of showering settled.

It seems that either I’m being convinced I need to buy something through browsing, or through TV commercials. That is, if I choose to be influenced this way.

I have a kijiji problem. And a craigslist problem. These problems feed into my furniture-moving-and-exchanging hobby, although I haven’t moved anything in a while. Mostly I’m focussed on purging. I think that’s a typical January impulse, once I put away all of the holiday decor (and why hasn’t anyone mass-marketed Hannukah stuff yet?) and all of the new items we have been blessed to receive need to find a new place in our home.

I am very interested in tiny house living, and regularly watch Tiny House Nation. I love miniature stuff, so this concept really appeals to me, but also because living in such a small space would cause me to prioritize my belongings and simplify my lifestyle quite a bit. Today I came across an article that explains the downsides of tiny house living, in terms I can well understand and makes me wonder why I thought it would ever be a good idea for me to live in a tiny house in the first place.

I also read a lot of articles on Apartment Therapy, on which there are a lot of articles on how to live in a tiny space, and an annual Small Cool contest on the best laid-out apartments. So, one could drive oneself crazy with only the minimum of effort. Or one could arrive home after working all day, throw a frozen meal into the oven for the family, and plop face-down on one’s soft warm bed and lay there for 45 minutes.

 

Hit the Books

When I was a kid, school seemed like an endless flat road in front of me: monotonous; unavoidable; and no matter how far along I walked it, never ended. Sometimes a fun event would happen at school, like hot dog day or rehearsal for the holiday concert, but mostly it was one long bummer; a necessary evil. Even rarer still, I would occasionally feel ill, or have a dentist appointment, or doctor’s appointment so the regular school day would get interrupted. I would get a nice break from the classroom and the required cooperation with my teacher and fellow students.

I feel sorry for my kids, having to go through this day in and day out. Seriously. I wish I was wealthy like Will Smith and my kids were in the same position as Jayden and Willow Smith, who are free to hypothesize and learn what they want to learn, instead of the prescribed school curriculum. The dictated subject matter at traditional schools is staid, boring, and mostly impractical, in my opinion (obviously my opinion because this is my blog).

Can’t teachers make history more interesting? I love reading about ancient times and not so ancient times, and finding out the origins of companies; ones that morphed from being a parts supplier for airlines into building high-speed trains. Basically it’s too bad science and technology in school isn’t presented like on the tv show How It’s Made. And how hard is it to bring in artifacts to support school history lessons, such as those found in the tv show Antiques Roadshow? Using real examples to teach abstract concepts needs to be brought to the forefront at schools. I know there are alternative schools that do this. My friend’s daughter attends such a school and if I could send my children there, I definitely would. At that school they learn about basic math by thinking up a concept for a business and figuring out profits and losses. I’ll bet alternative high schools teach about income tax, including what it is, where it originated, and how and when to file. Meanwhile mainstream schools can’t gather enough information about practical applications for mathematics to support their lessons. Their defence is that math has always been taught this way, and so it will continue to be so. How about asking senior elementary classes to figure out the new playground or landscaping that’s being planned? Type and amount of materials, cost, time, etc? How about using those young pink brains to think of an innovative way to build something the school really needs? But today’s students aren’t prepared to be that creative; they want to get the day over with so they can do the required homework and then get on with the fun parts of daily life. Heaven forbid school should be productive, fun, and something students (and teachers) look forward to.

I’m not a teacher but I have a lot of opinions on the subject, after having gone through the system myself and now re-living that experience twice over. This morning I advised boy midget to figure out which professions meet the following criteria: pays well, least amount of training required, and easiest to do, and then go do that thing. Never mind trying to figure out what you’re interested in at age 14 – 17. I believe that’s what contributes to that quarter-life crisis everyone seems to go through, when you have a shiny new degree and no idea on how you should apply it in the ‘real’ world. Being a student takes a committment; it’s not a lark. Universities need students to buy into the ‘learning for the sake of learning’ mentality to keep that post-secondary machine funded. Students should have more (or some) practical career guidance throughout university or college. Instead, students are encouraged to study what interests them and that their profession will naturally follow. It’s a bill of goods, not practical in the least.