During a recent visit to the zoo with my husband and kids, I decided to try taking a few pictures with a particular shade tree framing the scene. I also wanted to capture the contrast of shade and sunlight, something I was really enjoying as we made our way around the duck pond.
Keeping in mind that this blog is intended to show the positive aspects of my life, I’m going to stretch that intention to view “works in progress” as positive. Or, at least on what I hope is a positive path.
Even when I think I’m done growing, I’m not. I have plenty of room to grow, but I occasionally get to plateaus where I feel comfortable and have no pressure to keep moving. I hang around on my happy plateau and call myself done (for now) until something grabs my attention and I take out all the baggage I lug around and reassess what’s going and what’s staying. And this is exactly how it is depicted in my sleep dreams.
This is the time of the year when promotions are given at the company where I work and a few weeks ago, my husband received a well-deserved promotion. Yesterday, I heard of other promotions. All well-deserved. Frankly, we are in a mode where promotions are difficult enough to get that I can’t think of a recent one that wasn’t absolutely deserved. Yet, I cannot help but notice how many promotion cycles have passed by me. As I sort through my baggage on this topic, I find there is much too much to carry to my next plateau and I need to get rid of some of it. It hasn’t been easy and it may take months before I’m ready to rest again.
Here it goes.
When I first started working for the company I was at a level White. I jumped into helping another department with code work and took on quite a lot of responsibilities from that project. After a year, the other department was fighting for me and I was transferred over as one of the core coders for the project. Four years later, I was still a core member of a team that was all one or two levels above me (Yellow and Orange). During one of my meetings with my manager, I came right out and asked for a promotion. I was young and naive and didn’t realize that it didn’t just work that way. While, I’m older, I’m still not quite sure how it works, but I know that it doesn’t happen that way. Times were good for the business and our projects, so it wasn’t too much of a faux paus, but what resulted certainly had a huge impact on me. About a week after I asked for a promotion, my manager’s manager called me into a one on one meeting. Manager B mentioned my request and asked me if I really thought I deserved a promotion. I was startled and hurt, but I said yes and I explained all that I was responsible for and what I’d done over the last four years and how I’d worked with the team and so on. Manager B proceeded to break down every accomplishment I had listed and that I didn’t break down crying during that meeting was a miracle. I did however, go back to my office afterwards and cry. From that moment on, I promised, vowed to myself that I would never, ever put myself in that situation again. I would never, for the rest of my existence, ask for a promotion.
Less than half a year later, I got a promotion. I was glad I got it, but it was tainted. I still held to the promise that I would not ever do that again. Even now, I feel that horrible feeling of self-loathing and tears well up. I have some serious work to do here.
Fast forward to now and 15 years with the company. I’ve been a level Yellow for about 9 years (I took a 1 year break from the company after my 5th year. See a correlation?) In the last few years, people have come and gone and mainly gone and I am back with the same project as when I first started the company. There are three of us now from the same group. One is a level Orange (1 level above me) and the other is a level Red (2 levels above me). Both completely deserve their levels, but since I’ve been back on the original project, others have been promoted all around me. They completely deserve their promotions, so I’m very supportive and happy for their recognition. The problem is that I still struggle with my lack of promotion. This is where things get really tricky. The manager I had for years (not the same as when I first start working, so we’ll call it C). Manager C had some people issues and when other people on our project threatened to leave, C promoted them as an incentive to stay. But they took the promotions and left anyway. Other issues worsened and we got a new manager. None of that has anything to do with me, except if you consider that promotions were given in the order of crisis level. In itself this is unfortunate, because everyone who got a promotion deserved one.
I’m not sure how much I want to go into what I take care of now. It makes me too exhausted to even think about it. The truth of the matter is that I have been hoping for a promotion for a couple of years now. I’ve had two children recently and as the mom, I know that I’m an easy out, but I haven’t missed a beat in schedule or responsibilities. Example, I had a c-section with my daughter, born in September last year. My schedule was never changed for the 8 weeks I was out. I worked overtime before and after my maternity leave to close the gap. The details don’t really matter. What matters to me is that the whole thing bothers me in the first place. It’s worse than my birthday issues. I hope and hope, but it doesn’t happen and I’m unwilling to ask for it.
My husband and I have talked about this many times, too many times. He is my biggest supporter and he wants me to be recognized fairly. I can agree, but I actually don’t want it to bother me. I want to only look to myself for value and approval. I don’t want to want the promotion. I want to get approval from myself that I am doing a good job and no one else. Getting to that point is a journey of work. Just because I say I don’t want to care, doesn’t mean I can stop caring. Last night, I had a dream that people were congratulating me on my promotion, but my manager hadn’t said anything to me. I was doubtful and cautious in the dream and I kept asking people to keep it quiet until I found out for sure. I woke up feeling embarrassed about it. I felt like it was time to put it out on my blog, so I can start leaving this crap behind me.
In July, our family of four traveled to Las Cruces for a mini-reunion of former and current members of Dr. Serrano’s neurolab at NMSU. When I was in college, I worked as a student researcher, studying the physiology of desert legumes.
During the visit, we stayed with my sister and her roommate and had a great time. While a great part of me was excited about seeing people I hadn’t seen in a long time and seeing the new lab, the reunion stirred some emotions that I didn’t expect.
20 years have gone! It was such a surprise to me that so much time had passed and I couldn’t help but feel like I’d accomplished so little. Former members of the lab have gone on to be doctors, researchers, professors and I am in the same job and nearly the same level as when I graduated and started working in my field. I was intimidated. And later, when everyone was so warm and welcoming, I started to feel like I had cheated myself by letting so much time go to waste, academically speaking.
Returning to Tucson, I was in misery and I was depressed at the thought of going back into the work week. I was a mess after the visit, because it renewed my long standing passion for learning and now that I am older and gaining a stronger sense of my self, I want also to drive some application of what I learn, of what interests me.
I was a Psychology major when I started at NMSU, but after my first year, I decided to switch to Computer Science, because it seemed like the more financially responsible thing to do. Many times, I’ve wondered if that was a mistake. It seems like a lot of my childhood was instilling what was “responsible” and I’m spending my adulthood trying to undo “responsible” and identify what it is I want.
After a week or two, I was aching to get back to school. To be honest, I’ve not gone more than a year without taking classes in something. For a while, I was taking classes in literature and writing, for a while it was painting and even some extra coding classes and then there were dance classes and teaching English as a second language. Why not consider really going back to school, like for a PhD? Something that would put me back into college and give me the option to do something more. Wow. I almost felt guilty at the thought of doing something so completely selfish.
I talked it over with Matt. His reaction was complete support of what I was thinking is my craziest idea yet. The idea being that I could start a few classes now and possibly when the kids are going to school, commit to a more full-time schedule of classes. Then, I started getting really excited, because here is this whole world open to me. I don’t quite know where I will land, but I’m considering Child Cognitive Development. I find many aspects of Psychology fascinating, but I would love to be involved in something positive. Child development? What’s more positive than that?
(wrote this on the 08-17-2013 and decided to public post it)
I had that dream again last night. We were leaving a restaurant (my husband and me) and I was trying to get out of the place before anyone recognized me. I had three bags with me and while my husband made his way to the counter to pay for our dinner, I tried to gather the blankets, jackets, toys, books and even weights and springs from the booth and shove them into the bags that were too small to carry everything.
The more I tried to shove in and on top of the bags the more that would appear in the booth and the more that would fall onto the floor. None of it seemed so important I had to take it or that I had to get out of the room in such a rush, but I couldn’t stop myself from trying to hurry it all into the bags and get myself outside. This recurring dream theme is transparent. I have too many responsibilities in my waking life and my solutions are right in front of me:
- slow down
- let some things drop
- calm down
My husband bought me a rose plant last weekend and we planted it in the back yard. All the roses in the yard are going bloom nuts and I have been meaning to go out and photograph each bush. Only two of the seven rose bushes I have are scented. The new bush is one of them, which is why I could not leave it at the store last weekend even though the yard is full, full, full of plants. Get all these connections? Too much work, too many responsibilities, all these roses and not taking the time to smell them.
I’ve been off of Facebook for a few days. I deactivated my account last Wednesday night. I didn’t want anyone to worry, I just needed to silence myself until I calmed down about my shitty work week. I can’t say that the absence of social networking is some grand existence, but I can say that the social silence is peaceful.
I was feeling really angry and disappointed with myself for my failed interactions with a couple of difficult co-workers, followed by a couple of emails from another two co-workers bitching to our team. This was right after week in which I worked over 100 hours and I was stressed, tired and not at all ready for the onslaught of negativity that happens to still be in full swing at work. My natural tendency is to be overly empathetic, to take on the worries and fears of others and make them my responsibility in some way. I work pretty hard to be less empathetic and more apathetic, but when I’m tired and overworked, my defenses falter. I finally cut back on the overtime and have been working at directing my focus to more nurturing things. My team is still rampaging at each other and I still have to work with the two difficult co-workers, but I think I will do my best to avoid working with BOTH of them within a two hour span. In the last few weeks of working overtime, I lost my sense of self-approval and started to look again for others to approve that I am doing a good job. No, no, no. Not good.
Thanks to my husband for listening to me rant and then reason, I’ve been able to let go of my initial frustrations and realize that I am still and have been doing my best. If my best is not working in some areas, no biggie, I will tweak what is not working and keep what IS. One thing that tends to get me in a pickle is reacting before I have time to think. It’s much harder to go back to someone and try to clean up a mess you made when you reacted too soon. My other issue is my all or nothing attitude. Sometimes, there is a compromise available that will work just fine. I need to remember that.
I’ve since pulled way back on my work interactions. I needed some cooling off and once I had some time working alone, I realized that my team is currently in a giant storm of stress and lashing out. Whoa! No wonder why I’d been knocked off course. I’m still reeling a bit from the last couple of emails, sent over the weekend, but I can now think of them as my co-workers’ mistakes, not reasons to get upset, but their own struggles made public. We’ll all get through this rough patch and if I have to crouch down in my own corner and work, I can do that. My job is not to patch anyone’s team skills and frankly, nothing is going to get through to a person who is irate at the time. Better to just to my work and stay on the outside of the storm as much as I can.
Isn’t everyone talking about running these days? It’s like when everyone gets pregnant in the same year. Everyone one is running. I think it’s great and you can skoooch a spot for me on that wagon. It’s been several years since I was running. I let migraines take over and gradually stopped playing sports and running and working out regularly. Then, I started seeing exercise and diet as only means for losing weight. I’m changing my thinking. I felt good when I ran every morning and I did it because I just enjoyed running. I’m on my rocky start to running again for fun. Running just so I can run. I’ll have to manage the migraines and over time, I think they will clear up and not be an issue.
Food seems to play a bigger part in my headaches than I ever expected. I have stayed away from deli meats and oranges (most citrus) and it seems to be making a difference. I need to experiment more and see if tomatoes are a no-no. I’m really optimistic about my changes so far and I’m really, really excited at the possibility that I may not have migraines at all as I increase my running endurance if I know my trigger foods.
If you are in the process of running again, for the first time or still doing it. Wow! Giant, potent, kudos from me to you!
spooky sock in every room
sneaky sliding under doors
silent sitting in back of cars
spooky sock, pink and white
milk-crusted, slobbered wet
taking pictures with the girl
in long-sleeve gowns
and sweat pants
spooky sock climbs the bedside
if blankets reach the floor
crawling under sheets
tugging slight on pjs
spooky sock waits on swing seats
where babies sleep
if something goes amiss,
he blames the spooky shoe.